Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Casa Latino Real Estate Headquarters Relocates


Casa Latino Real Estate Headquarters Relocates

Celebration, FL – January 1, 2009Casa Latino Franchise Corporation, the country’s largest network of Hispanic and minority owned real estate offices has selected Celebration, Florida as its new corporate headquarters.

Speaking from Connecticut, Casa Latino CEO Robb Heering announced that the company was relocating its headquarters and national franchise sales operations to a new facility in Celebration, Florida, roughly one mile from Disney World.

“We have systematically grown our company and our expansion is increasing at a rapid pace. We needed to make some decisions regarding office space sooner than later as we need to immediately increase our ability to host franchise owners and prospects and house additional corporate staff. We decided to expand the bounds of our office search outside of our current location in Southbury, Connecticut.

Our new location in central Florida is a global destination. Celebration is a town that was designed by the Walt Disney Company and it’s a far cry from the snow and ice of the northeast. The new office space can accommodate our needs to have training and conference facilities and allows for expansion for additional staff. The new state of the art building known as Palm Plaza was constructed and is managed by La Rosa Development Corporation. Joe La Rosa, a principal at La Rosa Development is also a Casa Latino franchise owner and a major area developer for Casa Latino in several markets.

Our cramped Connecticut office has been vacated and our move to Celebration has been accomplished in time to kick off 2009. We will grow our brand presence in many additional markets in 2009 here in the US and in Latin America and the new venue will serve our needs well.

Casa Latino’s new headquarters office is located at 1420 Celebration Boulevard, Suite 200, Celebration, FL 34747.

Press Contact: William Arce, VP, Casa Latino Franchise (904) 415-2755

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Casa Latino Real Estate Expand its Operation To New York


New York Real Estate Power Players Join Casa Latino Real Estate

Southbury, CT - December 09, 2008 The Metro New York market will soon be home to dozens of Casa Latino Real Estate offices. The national leader in the Hispanic and multi-cultural real estate market has awarded a large multi-unit area development franchise to one of New York's preeminent power players.

Speaking from his Connecticut headquarters, Casa Latino CEO Robb Heering announced that a team led by Kevin McClarnon has acquired exclusive rights to open, operate, and broker the sale of Casa Latino real estate offices throughout metropolitan New York.

"Kevin McClarnon was one of the founders of Long Island's National Homefinders Signature Properties, which was acquired in 2003 by NRT, Incorporated to operate under the Coldwell Banker banner. Kevin is a highly respected real estate professional who continues to influence the greater New York real estate market. We have been searching for a quality, competent, and professional team to lead our New York operations since our company began in 2005. Kevin and his growing team will give our national brand tremendous credibility and reach in the Metro New York market."

McClarnon and his team have executed an exclusive territorial rights and area development agreement for, Kings, Bronx, New York, Richmond, Queens, Nassau, Suffolk Westchester and Rockland Counties.

About Casa Latino Franchise Corporation

Casa Latino was created in 2005 based upon the premise that Hispanic home buyers and sellers have unique needs based upon cultural differences and lifestyles, bolstered by the fact that those needs are not being effectively served by any other national brand. While the company serves everyone, regardless of heritage, the company's model is designed to provide superior service to a multicultural market. The company offers franchisees unprecedented culturally specific and significant back office support, training, marketing tools, advertising, coaching, and much more to ensure their success. The franchise model encourages a variety of agent compensation programs which dramatically enhance a broker's ability to recruit agents. The low franchise fee and an exceptionally low transaction based royalty structure make Casa Latino an extremely attractive opportunity. Casa Latino has awarded franchises in 14 states and is executing an aggressive growth plan in the USA and several other countries.

Press Contact:

Bill Arce, VP, Casa Latino Franchise Corporation

(904) 415-2755

Monday, December 08, 2008

Subprime Mortgages And Civil Rights

Subprime Mortgages And Civil Rights

The manner with which mortgage companies peddled subprime loans to low-income people of color has been called reverse redlining, an inversion of the racially discriminatory real estate practices prevalent in urban America through the better part of the 1960s. And just like 40 years ago, an organization of community groups is charging that financial institutions violated civil rights in their quest to generate wealth. This time, the target is two bond rating agencies that assuaged investor concerns about the tenuous mortgages bundled and sold around the world as mortgage-backed securities. Via the Los Angeles Times:

You Can Read The Whole Article Here:

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


For More Information Contact: William 415-2755

Mercy Lugo-Struthers to head brand and business expansion in Northern Virginia, DC and Maryland

Danbury, CT, December 2, 2008 – Casa Latino Franchise Corporation today announced the addition of Mercy Lugo-Struthers, former Director of US Hispanic Marketing for AOL Latino and DirectTV Más, and real estate investor, to their rapidly expanding Casa Latino family. With this announcement Casa Latino Real Estate enters the coveted US Capitol Metro area backed by a professional that clearly understands what it takes to effectively reach and service the US Hispanic market.

Ms. Lugo-Struthers has consistently combined her marketing talent and her passion to improve the lives of Latinos in America. During her nearly two decades of corporate marketing experience, she devoted her time and talent to empower Latinos to achieve their American dreams in a variety of ways. Whether it was developing programs to educate Latino’s about the importance of computers and the Internet in the Latino household, or advancing their TV viewing habits to include rich cultural and educational programming. More recently, inspired by the foreclosure crisis of Latinos in Prince William County, she designed a program to educate them about how to get back into responsible homeownership.

Robb Heering, Casa Latino Franchise Corporation Founder and CEO stated that, “We have been speaking with Mercy for several months regarding her career move from corporate marketing to residential real estate, an area she’s been immersed in during the past two years. Her passion and commitment to serving her community combined with her knowledge of the real estate business made her a perfect fit for our brand.”

“We have awarded a multi-unit area development contract to Mercy. Her team will expand the Casa Latino Real Estate brand throughout Northern Virginia, Washington DC and portions of Maryland. The first Metro DC office will open in Virginia this winter with others to follow throughout the region.”

Bill Arce, Vice President of New Business Development for Casa Latino added “Mercy Lugo-Struthers will help to level the playing field in a market where many consumers, not just Latino’s, have been hard hit by the current market. Years of abuse of consumers by unscrupulous mortgage and real estate practitioners have caused tremendous damage to this market. We expect Mercy to raise the bar and change all of that by delivering the sincere, honest, and ethical counsel, education, home buying and home selling services that the Casa Latino brand represents. We are very proud and humbled to welcome Mercy to the Casa Latino familia”.

About Casa Latino

Casa Latino was founded in 2005 in Connecticut by Lawyer and Real Estate Broker, Roberto “Robb” Heering. It is the fastest growing Latino real estate brand and the only Latino-focused agency with a national footprint. While other real estate franchise companies have stalled or downsized in the midst of the current financial crisis, Casa Latino has more than doubled its franchised offices from 20 to over 44 in 2008. Casa Latino offers franchisees unprecedented culturally specific and significant back office support, training, marketing tools, advertising, coaching, and much more to ensure their success. The franchise royalty model encourages a variety of agent compensation programs which dramatically enhances a broker’s ability to recruit agents. The low franchise fee and an exceptionally low transaction based royalty structure make Casa Latino an extremely attractive opportunity. The company will continue aggressive system expansion during 2009 throughout key US and international markets.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Federal Reserve, Treasury Take Steps to Boost Lending

The US Federal Reserve and Treasury Department on Tuesday announced two new programmes that will pump an additional 800 billion dollars into the struggling economy and unfreeze credit for consumers and small businesses.

This second stimulus follows the 700-billion-dollar rescue package already approved by Congress. Under one of the two new programmes, the Fed will use 600 billion dollars to buy mortgage-backed securities to reduce the cost of home mortgages.

The other programme, the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF), by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, will create a lending facility worth 200 billion dollars to holders of securities backed by consumer debt - credit card, student and auto loans. This will essentially make it easier for consumers to borrow money.

The New York Fed is headed by Timothy Geithner, named Monday by president-elect Barack Obama as his Treasury secretary. Geithner will be tasked with rescuing the financial industry from its worst crisis since the Great Depression when the new administration takes over on January 20.

The Treasury Department said it would provide 20 billion dollars of credit protection to the New York Fed for TALF, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson told a news conference Tuesday.

Consumer asset-backed securities (ABS) worth 240 billion dollars were issued in 2007. But the widening financial crisis this year ensured that banks and financial institutions have been reluctant to lend, with credit markets essentially coming to a halt in October.

"As a result, millions of Americans cannot find affordable financing for their basic credit needs. And credit card rates are climbing, making it more expensive for families to finance everyday purchases," Paulson said.

The lack of affordable consumer credit undermines spending and weakens the economy, he said.

Paulson's announcement came as the Commerce Department presented more bad economic news. The Gross Domestic Product for the US in the third quarter shrunk at an annualized rate of 0.5 per cent - the worst in seven years.

"Today's GDP report reaffirms the serious challenges in our economy," Commerce Secretary Carlos M Gutierrez said. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the third quarter figures show the need for swift government steps to prevent further damage.

"The numbers are what they are, which is they're troubling, and this is why we are having to act and take such bold actions that we are taking," she said.

Other economic news on Tuesday showed consumer confidence rose slightly in November from an all-time low a month earlier. The independent Conference Board's index rose to 44.9 up from 38.8 in October.

In the newly-outlined programme for the ailing housing market, the nation's central bank will buy up to 500 billion dollars in mortgage-
backed securities, which have been backed by government-sponsored mortgage finance firms Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae. The
Fed will buy an additional 100 billion dollars of direct debt obligations of these firms.

"This action is being taken to reduce the cost and increase the availability of credit for the purchase of houses, which in turn should support housing markets and foster improved conditions in financial markets more generally," the Fed said in a statement.

"Nothing is more important to getting through this housing correction than the availability of affordable mortgage finance," Paulson said.

"It will take time to work through the difficulties in our market and our economy, and new challenges will continue to arise," Paulson said, adding that the government was committed to stabilizing the financial markets and minimizing the spillover to the rest of the economy.

Source: Copyright 2008 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

Thursday, November 27, 2008

6 Ways to Build an Effective Multicultural Recruitment Strategy


Today when I opened my e-mail I got this article from Rismedia that I think is very interesting. Feel free to share your opinion here.

By the Gonzales Group

RISMEDIA, Nov. 27, 2008-As our community profiles change, diversity recruitment has become more important and a priority for organizations. Qualified multicultural talent is in high demand and organizations are ramping up their search for the best and brightest multicultural stars in the industry. Having a workforce that is reflective of the community is critically important and ultimately leads to a positive experience for the multicultural consumer and your bottom line.

Here are some guiding principles to consider when developing a multicultural recruitment strategy:

1) Establish Clear Recruitment Goals. Be committed at the highest level of the organization. Establish a business definition and value statement for what diversity means to your organization. Ensure that management is on board with “measurements of success” for its diversity program. More importantly, have bonuses and other compensation factored in as incentives.

2) Leverage Useful Knowledge and Resources. Do your research. Leverage the latest research and hiring techniques to access and improve upon existing diversity recruiting systems.

3) Partner with Agencies that Specialize in Multicultural Recruiting. Partner with an agency that can support your organizations multicultural recruitment efforts like the Gonzales Group, that have resources and a strong network in the non-profit and for-profit sectors, major universities, and professional organizations.

4) Train Your Recruiters to Better Screen Multicultural Candidates. It’s a proven fact that untrained recruiters will give highest marks to people most like themselves in appearance and background.

5) Train for Success. Ensure you have the right orientation and training for new Multicultural recruits. This means having the right programs that are accessible and culturally correct and provide opportunities for professional growth.

6) Evaluate and Reward. Provide more than brochures and lip service. Be committed to making diversity a standard measurement of the performance evaluation process. Provide incentives to think outside of the box by having diversity goals tied to compensation for all levels of management.

Don’t go it alone. Find the right partner that can help you recruit multicultural talent for all levels of the organization. Multicultural recruits will respond most when they can culturally connect with an organization. A one-size fits all recruiting strategy is no longer a recipe for success.

At the Gonzales Group we provide recruitment services to help you recruit and retain talented Multicultural professionals that will build profitable connections with the Multicultural consumer.

For more information, visit

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Victory in El Barrio

Victory in El Barrio

East Harlem tenants win one as British 'predatory equity' landlord collapses.

By Jennifer Janisch

The global economic crisis that has shaken the real-estate industry has one tenant organization in East Harlem celebrating victory over a British landlord.

Keywords: News, Class, Manhattan, Economy, Human Rights, Corporations, Activism, Housing & Development, Immigration,

The global economic crisis that has shaken the real-estate industry has one tenant organization in East Harlem celebrating victory over a British landlord.

After nearly two years of community organizing, demonstrations, an innovative lawsuit and international campaigning, Movement for Justice in El Barrio (MJB) — an East Harlem collective of mostly Mexican immigrants — is calling its battle with failed financial-services firm Dawnay, Day “a triumph of David and Goliath proportions.”

Dawnay, Day purchased 47 buildings in the neighborhood for a quarter of a billion dollars in March 2007. It was the British firm’s only foray into the U.S. real-estate market, following the lead of several large property firms that over-leveraged their investments in New York City residential buildings over the last couple of years and are now paying the price.

The London-based company, which manages more than $10 billion in assets worldwide, has become one of Europe’s most high-profile casualties of the international financial crisis. It is now under the administration of accounting firm BDO Stoy Hayward and the real-estate advisor DTZ, which are charged with restructuring the company and selling its property holdings.

Neither BDO Stoy Hayward nor DTZ would comment on the status of the transactions. But according to PropertyWeek. com, final bids were submitted November 7 by Threadneedle, F&C REIT Asset Management, Criterion Capital and Exemplar. Two unknown U.S.-based cash buyers are submitting bids as well.


Organizing in the buildings began more than five years ago, when they were owned by Steven Kessner, who was once named one of New York’s ten worst landlords by the Village Voice. Originally, about 15 tenants met in the lobbies of their buildings to discuss ways to confront Kessner and get him to make repairs. They expanded their initiative to his other buildings.

Since they had little experience organizing, the tenants turned to Juan Haro, who once worked organizing restaurant workers, to help them develop a strategy.

“I was inspired by these tenants who wanted to initiate something and really just didn’t know how,” says Haro, the coordinator of MJB. “A lot of people have this stereotype that immigrants live in fear and don’t want to take on such a battle, but we found the opposite: tenants were fed up with the conditions they were living in and ready to take action.”

After MJB held protests to draw attention to Kessner’s negligent management practices in East Harlem, he sold his 47 buildings to Dawnay, Day. MJB decided to put the British financial firm on notice.

“We held a press conference warning Dawnay, Day, saying ‘Welcome to El Barrio. We will not be moved, we are here to stay,’” says Haro. “You may not know this, but you bought buildings where tenants are organized.”

Dawnay, Day representatives clearly stated their intentions to the British press.

“East Harlem is the last area of the whole of Manhattan being gentrified. Our intention is to build up,” Phil Blakeley, leader of the firm’s U.S. expansion, told the London Times. “We are not just looking at New York — that is just a start. Our aim is to have in excess of $5 billion within a short period — within a few years.”

Blakeley added that he was attracted by the opportunity to raise rents on vacant apartments. “With renovation, a flat could well take $1,700 a month once re-let on the open market,” he said, adding that long-term tenants could be bought out.

“They were planning to take advantage of New York’s lax rent laws,” Haro says.


According to some tenants, the negligent maintenance continued under Dawnay, Day’s management. (The British firm could not be reached for comment.)

Andres Hernandez lives with his family in a Dawnay, Day building on East 117th Street. He gestures toward a gaping hole in his kitchen wall, near the stove. He says the superintendent replaced the apartment’s small boiler with an electric heater months ago, but has not yet sealed the wall shut.

“People in the building say they want to force all the Hispanics out and fill the building with white people,” he says.

Carolina Ortega has lived with her father and her children on East 116th Street for decades. She says Dawnay, Day has tried to force them out by ignoring their pleas for extermination of the rats and roaches that infest their apartment.

“They do things for the new tenants, but not for us,” she says. “We’ve taken them to court two or three times, but we haven’t said anything lately because my father doesn’t want to fight it anymore.”

MJB has filed a lawsuit against Dawnay, Day, claiming the company violated consumer- protection laws by using deceptive business practices. Despite the company’s financial turmoil, MJB says it does not plan to drop the suit.

MJB’s attorney, Ed Josephson, recently filed a motion to obtain Dawnay, Day’s financial records. He says the company was slapping tenants with suspicious bills, citing charges they did not owe.

“They invent phantom charges to make us leave here,” says Filiberto Hernandez, a mechanic who lives in a Dawnay, Day building on East 106th Street and is an MJB member. “They say the rent arrives late and they overcharge us.”

Tenants say the company offered them buyouts of $10,000 to vacate their apartments. They have also reported that Dawnay, Day charged them for ordinary maintenance and for washers and dryers that they do not have.


Dawnay, Day isn’t the only private-equity company that over-leveraged its investments in rent-stabilized apartment buildings. A recent report by the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD) states that from 2006 to 2007, projected income — not actual income — was used to justify inflated loan amounts for an estimated 90,000 units of affordable rental housing in New York City.

Perhaps the most notable example was Tishman Speyer’s purchase of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village from MetLife. The firm bought the 80-acre, 11,200-unit complex of mostly rent-stabilized apartments for a recordbreaking $5.4 billion in 2006. In late September, Standard and Poor’s downgraded ratings on 22 classes of mortgage-backed securities related to these properties. It estimates that the complex is now worth 10 percent less.

In Harlem, Riverton Houses and Savoy Park are on the verge of default as well. Their new owners failed to meet their projections that they could double or triple their income by bringing rents up to market rate. According to the ANHD report, which cites SEC “Free Writing Prospectus” filings, Savoy Park’s landlord had anticipated increasing its net operating income (NOI) from $7.4 million to $19 million over a five-year period. The owner of Riverton Houses believed it would increase its NOI from $5.2 million to $23.6 million in the same timeframe.

Although investors claimed they could turn over the rent-stabilized apartments at a rate of 20 to 30 percent each year, the reality is that tenants won’t move out voluntarily at that rate, as they know they can’t find equivalent affordable housing. The average annual turnover rate is 3 to 5 percent, making the quick profits these firms envisioned next to impossible without employing high-pressure eviction tactics.

ANHD deputy director Benjamin Dulchin says that despite tighter access to credit and the bursting of the national housing bubble, he doesn’t see a transformation yet. “I think these investments will slow, but firms will continue to argue that these assets are undervalued,” he says. “They’ll say ‘if only we can get rid of these pesky rent-stabilized tenants, we can reap a large profit.’”

Haro says it’s unlikely the tenants will have a cordial relationship with another big financial firm.

“We’re more ready than we were before Dawnay, Day bought these buildings,” he says. “The tenants know their rights and are ready to fight.”

Members of MJB were poised to travel to London to confront Dawnay, Day when they heard the news that the firm was collapsing and had to sell its property holdings. They recently held a march in East Harlem to celebrate their victory.

Hernandez says the Dawnay, Day tenants aren’t fearful of the future.

“We are very happy,” he says. “We feel it is a great success for us. [Dawnay, Day] is a powerful, rich company, and it has fallen as a victim of its own devices.

“We are a people that is fighting for the right to live with dignity.”

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Santa Ana leads a bittersweet real estate boomlet

Santa Ana, foreclosure, housing, real estate, Angelica Maciel
Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times
Angelica Maciel, who was priced out of the market during the real estate bubble, closed on this Santa Ana bungalow last month. She paid less than $270,000 for the two-bedroom, 910-square-foot house, which previously sold for $504,000 in 2006.
The Orange County city is flooded with cheap foreclosures, giving people previously priced out of the market the opportunity to buy homes that others have been forced to leave.
By Peter Y. Hong
Angelica Maciel used to drive through the oak-shaded streets of Santa Ana wondering if she'd ever be able to buy one of the charming little bungalows she so admired.

But the real estate frenzy had overtaken even this hardscrabble Orange County city, and prices kept going up.

Read here full article.,0,3551566.story

Saturday, November 15, 2008

RE/MAX Among Top Franchise Opportunities for Minorities

RE/MAX Among Top Franchise Opportunities for Minorities

Annual Survey Ranks RE/MAX in Top Fifty of All Franchises

Last update: 1:00 p.m. EST Nov. 14, 2008
DENVER, Nov 14, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- RE/MAX International is proud to have been selected as one of the country's "50 Top Franchises for Minorities." As the only real estate franchisor included in the prestigious ranking, RE/MAX is joined by such notable corporations as McDonalds, 7-11, and InterContinental Hotels Group.

"From our early days 35 years ago, RE/MAX has always provided rewarding career opportunities for women and minorities," said Margaret Kelly, Chief Executive Officer of RE/MAX International, Inc.. "We believe our greatest strength is the diversity of our management and membership. It's an honor to receive this recognition and to be associated with other like-minded organizations."

Each year, The National Minority Franchising Initiative (NMFI) recognizes the top 50 franchise opportunities based upon a commitment to minority recruitment and advancement. Final selection is the result of factors such as, historical performance, brand identification, franchisee satisfaction, training/support, and financial stability. Each organization must also complete a questionnaire noting the number of minority-owned franchises, and the number of minorities in senior management.

Kelly said, "RE/MAX offers all our franchisees a tremen
dous amount of support to ensure their success. Cutting edge technology resources and training, available online and through the RE/MAX Satellite Network, aren't available from any other franchisor."

In 2007, RE/MAX International was also named a "Top 25 Franchise Opportunity" by Hispanic Enterprise magazine, and was ranked number three among the "Top 10 Military-Spouse Friendly Employers" by Military Spouse magazine.

The most comprehensive franchise ranking, Entrepreneur Magazine's "Franchise 500 Survey" has ranked RE/MAX the top real estate franchisor for eight of the past ten years. In this year's survey, RE/MAX also ranked in the Top 10 in four different categories.

Even in today's challenging market, RE/MAX is experiencing success selling new franchises. Through the third quarter of this year, sales have topped 500 worldwide with more than 200 in North America. RE/MAX is positioning itself for further growth when the real estate market turns around.
About RE/MAX International, Inc.

RE/MAX was co-founded by Dave and Gail Liniger in 1973. From a single office in Denver, Colorado, RE/MAX has grown to be a global network of nearly 105,000 Sales Associates in more than 65 countries. No one in the world sells more real estate than RE/MAX. Today, all U.S. home listings in thousands of cities and towns can be found at, the most visited web site of any real estate brokerage brand.

RE/MAX is proud of its Premier Community Citizenship, which has raised tens of millions of dollars for deserving organizations like Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Children's Miracle Network and The Sentinels of Freedom Foundation.

For information on RE/MAX International visit: or
SOURCE: RE/MAX International
RE/MAX International, Inc.
Shaun White, 303-796-3405
Director, Media Relations

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

NAR Selects New Bilateral Partners Including Representatives From Latin America

NAR Selects New Bilateral Partners

Last update: 2:13 p.m. EST Nov. 9, 2008
ORLANDO, Fla.,, Nov 09, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Today's real estate market knows no borders, which is why the National Association of Realtors(R) has been expanding its network of business partnerships around the world and has recently established new bilateral agreements with seven national partners in Europe, Latin America and Asia.

"Over the past two years, as the domestic real estate market has flattened, global business has remained a mainstay for many of our members who are involved in international business," said Realtor(R) Tony Macaluso, 2008 chair of NAR's international operations committee. "We want to build on and expand that outreach. Our guiding vision remains to render the global real estate markets accessible, profitable and ethical for Realtors(R) everywhere."

Macaluso announced the new partnerships at the 2008 REALTORS(R) Conference & Expo here. NAR's European bilateral partnerships are with the Confederation of Belgian Real Estate Brokers and the Real Estate Consultants Federation of Turkey.

In Latin America, NAR's new bilateral partners are the Association of Real Estate Brokers of Belize and the Association Peruana de Agentas Immobiliarias del Peru.

In Asia, the new NAR partnerships are with the China Institute of Real Estate Appraisers and Agents, the Taipei Association of Real Estate Brokers in Taiwan, and the Vietnam Real Estate Association.

With the addition of these latest agreements, NAR now has 81 bilateral partnership agreements in 59 countries worldwide. Bilateral agreements provide for reciprocal exchange of education and training, as well as commitments to high standards of ethics and best practice.

This year more than 26 percent of NAR's members had some business relationship with foreign-domiciled clients, but in certain regions, those numbers are much higher. In Florida, for example, 61 percent of Realtors(R) reported having foreign clients. "As our world becomes increasingly borderless, NAR will continue to work for broadening opportunities for our members and for investors everywhere," Macaluso said.

The National Association of Realtors(R), "The Voice for Real Estate," is America's largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

Information about NAR is available at This and other news releases are posted on the Web site's "News media" section in the NAR Media Center.

REALTOR(R) is a registered collective membership mark which may be used only by real estate professionals who are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS(R) and subscribe to its strict Code of Ethics. Not all real estate agents are REALTORS(R).

All REALTORS(R) are members of NAR.

SOURCE National Association of Realtors

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fannie Mae Announced First-time home buyers need counseling

Fannie Mae said in a bulletin for lenders that it is making a renewed to its commitment to homebuyer education and counseling. The counseling would not be extended only to the first-time buyers but also, will be focusing on providing borrowers that may encounter problems meeting their mortgage obligations with additional support.

Although Fannie recommends doing one-on-one counseling and groups’ classes, they will be flexible with borrower that can’t attend the section with phone and online counseling, making it easier to go thru the curriculum. Also required, is that the borrower must show evidence of the successful completion of the minimum counseling required by either a class certificate or a letter from the provider.

Fannie Mae now requires that home-buyer education and counseling be provided according to the National Industry Standards, or those of comparable quality as established by other organizations. The National Industry Standards for Homeownership Education and Counseling were developed by a national advisory council of industry stakeholders, including Fannie Mae, and spearheaded by the NeighborWorks® Center for Homeownership

Education and Counseling.

All this new changes have the effective date of January 1, 2009. For more information visit

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

NAR to Sponsor Multicultural Real Estate Policy Fellows

NAR to Sponsor Real Estate Policy Fellows
Last update: 10:54 a.m. EDT Oct. 20, 2008

WASHINGTON, Oct 20, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- To help more young professionals gain a solid foundation in legislative advocacy and national housing policy, the National Association of Realtors(R) is funding a fellowship in the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.

NAR's funding will enable each of these organizations to provide a unique public policy learning experience and to encourage young professionals to consider careers in public service policy work focused on housing and community and economic development. The three fellows who have been selected to focus on these specific policy issue areas are Gregg Orton from Arcadia, Calif.; Major Clemens III from Durham, N.C.; and Tonantzin Mitre from Gilroy, Calif.

"As the leading advocate for private property rights, homeownership and housing issues, NAR is proud to sponsor these fellows, who were selected through a highly competitive process," said NAR President Dick Gaylord, a broker with RE/MAX Real Estate Specialists in Long Beach, Calif. "All of them will receive firsthand experience and education on how policy is developed and enacted into law. Our goal is to help encourage and prepare these emerging leaders for a successful future in public policy."

Working with NAR, each organization will provide background on how America's largest trade association gathers information and develops and advocates a range of important public policy issues that affect homeownership and the real estate business.

For the past three years, NAR successfully worked with CHCI fellows through their "Hispanic Ownership, A Growing American Reality" program. The HOGAR fellows participated in housing discussions at NAR, which led NAR to offer similar opportunities to APAICS and CBCF fellows. All three fellows are working full time in the office of a member of Congress. During the nine-month placement from September 2008 to May 2009, the fellows will gain hands-on experience as they help develop legislative and public policy initiatives at the national level.

APAICS fellow Orton, who is Asian American, is working in the office of Rep. Al Green, D-Texas. Orton graduated from Vassar College with a degree in political science. CBCF fellow Clemens is working in the office of Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif. Clemens earned his J.D. in law from North Carolina Central University. CHCI fellow Mitre has been placed in the Office of Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. Mitre attended Milano New School for Management and Urban Policy in New York City where she earned her master's in urban policy and management.

Each organization develops its fellow's education program to best meet the needs of the community it serves. In addition to a 40-hour work week, the fellows may also be required to participate in leadership training sessions and community service. NAR advisers and Realtors(R) will continue to work closely with them throughout their placement. At the end of the nine-month program, the fellows will write a public policy brief on the issues surrounding foreclosures.
The National Association of Realtors(R), "The Voice for Real Estate," is America's largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

Information about NAR is available at News releases are posted in the Web site's "News Media" section in the NAR Media Center.

REALTOR(R) is a registered collective membership mark which may be used only by real estate professionals who are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS(R) and subscribe to its strict Code of Ethics. Not all real estate agents are REALTORS(R). All REALTORS(R) are members of NAR.

SOURCE National Association of Realtors

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cisneros' Housing Lending Policies Come Under Fire

Oct. 20, 2008

David Streitfeld and Gretchen Morgenson--The New York Times Media Group

"There's never been a better time in America to become a homeowner."

-- Henry Cisneros, 2003

SAN ANTONIO -- A grandson of Mexican immigrants and this city's first Hispanic mayor of the 20th century, Henry Cisneros has spent years trying to make the dream of home ownership come true for low-income U.S. families.

As the top housing official in the mid-1990s in President Bill Clinton's administration, Cisneros loosened mortgage restrictions so first-time buyers could qualify for loans they could never get before.

Then, capitalizing on a housing expansion he helped unleash, he joined the boards of a major builder, KB Home, and the largest mortgage lender in the nation, Countrywide Financial - two companies that rode the housing boom, drawing criticism along the way for abusive business practices.

And Cisneros became a developer himself. The Lago Vista development here in his hometown once stood as a testament to his life's work.

Joining with KB, he built 428 homes for low-income buyers in what was a neglected, industrial neighborhood. He often made the trip from downtown to ask residents if they were happy.

"People bought here because of Cisneros," said Celia Morales, a Lago Vista resident. "There was a feeling of, 'He's got our back.'"

But Cisneros rarely comes around anymore. Lago Vista, like many communities born in the housing boom, is now under stress. Scores of homes have been foreclosed, including one in five over the past six years on the community's longest street, Sunbend Falls, according to property records.

While Cisneros says he remains proud of his work, he has misgivings over what his passion has wrought. He insists that the worst problems developed only after "bad actors" hijacked his good intentions, but acknowledges that "people came to home ownership who should not have been homeowners."

They were lured by "unscrupulous participants -- bankers, brokers, secondary market people," he said. "The country is paying for that, and families are hurt because we as a society did not draw a line."

The causes of the housing implosion are many: lax regulation, financial innovation gone awry, excessive debt, raw greed. The players are also varied: bankers, borrowers, developers, politicians and bureaucrats.

Cisneros, 61, had a foot in a number of those worlds. Despite his qualms, he encouraged the unprepared to buy homes, part of a broad national trend with dire economic consequences.

He reflects often on his role in the debacle, he says, which has changed home ownership from something that secured a place in the middle class to something that is ejecting people from it.

"I've been waiting for someone to put all the blame at my doorstep," he said lightly, but with a bit of worry, too.

After a sex scandal destroyed his promising political career and he left Washington, he eventually reinvented himself as a well- regarded advocate and builder of urban, working-class homes. He has financed the construction of more than 7,000 houses.

For the three years he was a director at KB Home, Cisneros received at least $70,000 in pay and more than $100,000 worth of stock. He also received $1.14 million in directors' fees and stock grants during the six years he was a director at Countrywide. He made more than $5 million from Countrywide stock options, money he says he plowed into his company.

He says his development work provides an annual income of "several hundred thousand" dollars. All told, his paydays are modest relative to the windfalls some executives netted in the boom. Indeed, Cisneros says his mistake was not the greed that afflicted many of his counterparts in banking and housing; it was unwavering belief.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

First American Title Insurance Company Appoints Maria Y. Valentin as Vice President for Strategic Markets Western Region

- Expanded Role is Part of Plan to Integrate Strategic Markets Division Nationwide -

SANTA ANA, Calif., Oct. 14 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ -- First American Title Insurance Company announced today that Maria Y. Valentin has been promoted to vice president for the Strategic Markets western region as part of the company's plan to integrate the division into its core operating divisions nationwide.

In this expanded role, Valentin will oversee development of the company's multicultural marketing strategies for California, Nevada, Arizona, and Hawaii. Valentin, who is based in Carmel, Calif., joined the company as diversity marketing manager in 2003 and was promoted to diversity marketing director for the greater San Francisco area in 2005.

Her primary responsibilities have included consumer-focused outreach and educational events, specialized programs for real estate professionals and the hiring and training of key First American staff to better service ethnically diverse areas. She also played a key role in the launch of First American Asians' Club, a first-of-its-kind Internet destination dedicated to real estate professionals serving the Asian community.

"The face of homeownership continues to evolve and First American is committed to providing real estate professionals with title and escrow related products and services to help them better understand the issues facing minority homebuyers," said Valentin. A sought-after speaker and recognized expert on the multicultural real estate market, Valentin has also developed courses to help First American's employees better understand the needs of ethnically diverse homebuyers. These courses include cultural competency training, as well as a program that familiarizes bilingual staff members with Spanish real estate and title vocabulary that may not be part of their everyday language. "The multicultural real estate market is growing rapidly, particularly in California, Arizona, and Nevada.," explained Curt A. Caspersen, executive vice president for the southwest division.

"Under Maria's leadership, First American is positioned to meet the market demand stemming from this growing sector." Valentin worked as a licensed real estate broker in Southern California from 1996 to 2000. She is actively involved in a number of professional organizations, including the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, Asian Real Estate Association of America, Women's Council of Realtors(R) and the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors' Equal Opportunities Committee. Additionally, she is an active volunteer with Hospice of Monterey County and Community Hospital of Monterey, St. Joseph's Hospital and the American Red Cross.

About First American Title Insurance Company First American Title Insurance Company, the largest subsidiary of The First American Corporation (NYSE: FAF), traces its history to 1889. One of the largest title insurers in the nation, the company offers title services through its direct operations and an extensive network of agents throughout the United States and abroad.

The company has its headquarters in Santa Ana, Calif. Information about The First American Corporation's subsidiaries and an archive of its press releases can be found on the Internet at SOURCE The First American Corporation

Friday, October 10, 2008

Realtors Can Now Build Relationships with their Hispanic Clients Thanks to Real Estate Newsletter in Spanish

Announcing: Realtors Can Now Build Relationships with their Hispanic Clients Thanks to Real Estate Newsletter in Spanish

Ready to Go Newsletters, used by hundreds of Realtors to build strong relationships with their clients and farms, is offering a Spanish-language newsletter in addition to its English-language product.

New York, NY (PRWEB) October 9, 2008 -- Real estate agents can now send a client newsletter to their Hispanic clients -- in Spanish.

Ready to Go Newsletters, used by hundreds of Realtors to build strong relationships with their clients and farms, is offering a Spanish-language newsletter in addition to its English-language product.

"The Hispanic community is growing, and many of them appreciate communication in Spanish," says Simon Payn, of Ready to Go Newsletters. "This newsletter will allow Realtors to create deeper, more profitable relationships with their Hispanic clients by communicating with them in language many prefer."

The newsletter will be available every two months, and is offered in addition to the English-language newsletter for just $10 extra per month.

Realtors can customize every aspect of the newsletter -- including the articles and the layout -- in as little as 15 minutes. Then they can print it in the office or take it to a professional printer.
"Real estate agents are getting dramatic results from their newsletters," says Payn. "One new client is getting a new listing for each newsletter she sends out. Many others are building long-lasting relationships with their clients and farming areas."

For more information and to try the newsletter free, visit

Contact Information
Simon PaynReady to Go Newsletters

Agnew Launches Translation Task Force to Help Financial, Banking, and Real Estate Organizations Gain Non-English Speaking Markets

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., Oct 06, 2008 -- In response to the current financial crisis and market volatility that are affecting United States banking, financial, and real estate institutions, Agnew Tech-II has created a special task force to help these institutions rapidly expand their revenues by tapping into the Hispanic and other non-English speaking markets. The group is knowledgeable in banking and financial terminology, regulations, and security requirements, and will provide translation of marketing, legal, and advertising materials, as well as planning marketing campaigns and producing radio spots and television commercials, videos, websites, and text/voice ATM consumer interfaces in Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and other languages.

According to the U.S. Census of 2004, the estimated Hispanic population of the United States (as of July 1, 2004) was 41.3 million, with a projected population by July 1, 2050 of 102.6 million. Based on FDIC reports, the Hispanic population is the largest and fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States. Moreover, the number of affluent Hispanic households is increasing rapidly -- U.S. Census data show that the number of Hispanic households with incomes higher than $75,000 tripled between 1990 and 2000. As the purchasing power of the Hispanic population increases, their need for financial services is growing. HispanTelligence, the research arm of Hispanic Business Inc., estimates current Hispanic spending power reached $869 billion in 2008 and is likely to grow to $1.3 trillion in 2012, with California accounting for more than a quarter of this. Similarly, the Census predicts the U.S. Asian population will climb at a parallel rate, from 15.5 million to 40.6 million in 2050, offering its own increases in wealth.

"It is obvious that the potential of marketing to this population segment is enormous, with benefits that are well worth the costs of narrowing the information gap that often cuts them off from business. Lack of awareness of this potential market is costing financial institutions an unfathomable amount of revenue, at a time when earnings are vital," said Irene Agnew, Company President.

According to the FDIC, most bankers and brokers may not realize the extent of many Hispanic households' "misinformation" or incomplete understanding of the home-buying process, especially since that process itself is often very different and less flexible in other countries from that of the United States. For example, "immigrants from high-down-payment countries such as those in Central and South America, or Korea or India, often greatly overestimate the minimum down payment needed in the United States," said Gaston Otero, Agnew Vice President. Some members of the Hispanic population believe that they need a lawyer to start the home-buying process and think they have no choice but to accept a 30-year mortgage. There are even some that still believe that the real estate professional's commission is paid by homeowners rather than by the seller, and do not know that the law requires housing lenders to give prospective borrowers the best possible rate on a loan.

"Agnew can help banks and financial services institutions increase their purchasing power by closing the wide information gap that minority prospective homeowners face, at a time when credit markets are tightening and will remain tight," said Otero. "Effectively reaching the Hispanic and Asian communities, during this period of economic uncertainty and reduced home-buying confidence, will allow those institutions with foresight and the right multicultural communications partner to increase their mortgage and financial services portfolios, letting them get and remain ahead of their competitors. The cultural communication services we provide, from adaptation of marketing materials to translation of mortgage contracts to in-language seminars for prospective minority homeowners, help banks and financial services institutions capitalize on these inadequately-tapped markets."

Agnew offers a free consultation to financial organizations seeking to learn more about bridging the communication gap with the Hispanic, Chinese, Korean, or other non-English speaking groups, available via e-mail at or telephone (805) 494-3000, ext.19.

About Agnew Tech-II

Founded in 1986, Agnew Tech-II, of Westlake Village, CA, is one of the nation's leading translation and multilingual video recording firms. Agnew provides document translation to and from all languages, localization of multilingual web sites, and multilingual dubbing and recording for corporate videos, film and radio. For more information, please contact Agnew Tech-II at (805) 494-3999, or send an e-mail to or visit the company on the web at:

SOURCE Agnew Tech-II

Sunday, October 05, 2008

NAHREP Participated On Bay Area Mulicultural Realtors Summit

Bay Area Multicultural Realtors Meet

By: AsianWeek Staff Report, Oct 05, 2008

UNION CITY, Calif. — Seventeen real-estate professional associations joined efforts for the 2008 Bay Area Multicultural Real Estate Summit on Sept. 26.

Over 300 attendees participated in educational courses such as Transnational Referral Certification (led by Fanny Chu), Commercial Real Estate (led by Richard Lombardi), Natural Hazards Disclosures Legal Forum (led by Mailana Mavromatis) and Working with Multicultural Clients (with Carol Rodoni), as well as a panel on Alternative Financing for Mulicultural Markets and other break-out sessions on FHA Loans and Legal Aspects of International Real Estate.

The highlight of the summit was the Multicultural Top Producers Panel moderated by Steve Goddard, president-elect of the California Association of Realtors. Tammy Yau of Pleasanton, Orlando Bojorquez of Daly City, Nadr Essabhoy of Palo Alto and Miguel Velazco of Fremont shared secrets of their success and unanimously stressed quality service to consumers as the ultimate key.

Key note speakers Jeff Davi of the California Department of Real Estate Commissioner and Rebecca Gallardo, chairwoman of National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, addressed attendees on the current real estate market and how to meet its challenges.

Bay East Association of Realtors took the lead with Dexter Lat chairing the steering committee. Inspired by Pablo Wong of Fidelity National Financial, one of the founding organizations last year, this year’s organizing associations came from multiple counties in the Bay Area, such as the East Bay, Berkeley, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Silicon Valley.

Eight ethnic real-estate associations also participated: the Asian Real Estate Association of East Bay, Chinese American Real Estate Association (South Bay), Chinese Real Estate Association of America, Filipino American Real Estate Professional Association, National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Alameda County) and South Asian Real Estate Association of America.

The summit is supported by a National Association of REALTORS Diversity Grant and the following sponsors: Platinum: Wells Fargo Home Mortgage; Gold: Bank of America and Property ID; Silver: WHB Solution; Corporate: Bank of the West and Key Point Credit Union: and Business: Oakland Association of Realtors and Bankers Exchange Services.

This blog is powered by

Thursday, October 02, 2008

What Was Fannie Mae Doing 9 Years Ago To Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending

Here is an interesting article about what was doing Fannie Mae 9 years ago trying to puch homonwership.

Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending

Published: September 30, 1999
In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other lenders.

The action, which will begin as a pilot program involving 24 banks in 15 markets — including the New York metropolitan region — will encourage those banks to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans. Fannie Mae officials say they hope to make it a nationwide program by next spring.

Fannie Mae, the nation’s biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits.
In addition, banks, thrift institutions and mortgage companies have been pressing Fannie Mae to help them make more loans to so-called subprime borrowers. These borrowers whose incomes, credit ratings and savings are not good enough to qualify for conventional loans, can only get loans from finance companies that charge much higher interest rates — anywhere from three to four percentage points higher than conventional loans.

”Fannie Mae has expanded home ownership for millions of families in the 1990’s by reducing down payment requirements,” said Franklin D. Raines, Fannie Mae’s chairman and chief executive officer. ”Yet there remain too many borrowers whose credit is just a notch below what our underwriting has required who have been relegated to paying significantly higher mortgage rates in the so-called subprime market.”

Demographic information on these borrowers is sketchy. But at least one study indicates that 18 percent of the loans in the subprime market went to black borrowers, compared to 5 per cent of loans in the conventional loan market.

In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980’s.

”From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us,” said Peter Wallison a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. ”If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.”

Under Fannie Mae’s pilot program, consumers who qualify can secure a mortgage with an interest rate one percentage point above that of a conventional, 30-year fixed rate mortgage of less than $240,000 — a rate that currently averages about 7.76 per cent. If the borrower makes his or her monthly payments on time for two years, the one percentage point premium is dropped.

Fannie Mae, the nation’s biggest underwriter of home mortgages, does not lend money directly to consumers. Instead, it purchases loans that banks make on what is called the secondary market. By expanding the type of loans that it will buy, Fannie Mae is hoping to spur banks to make more loans to people with less-than-stellar credit ratings.

Fannie Mae officials stress that the new mortgages will be extended to all potential borrowers who can qualify for a mortgage. But they add that the move is intended in part to increase the number of minority and low income home owners who tend to have worse credit ratings than non-Hispanic whites.

Home ownership has, in fact, exploded among minorities during the economic boom of the 1990’s. The number of mortgages extended to Hispanic applicants jumped by 87.2 per cent from 1993 to 1998, according to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. During that same period the number of African Americans who got mortgages to buy a home increased by 71.9 per cent and the number of Asian Americans by 46.3 per cent.

In contrast, the number of non-Hispanic whites who received loans for homes increased by 31.2 per cent.

Despite these gains, home ownership rates for minorities continue to lag behind non-Hispanic whites, in part because blacks and Hispanics in particular tend to have on average worse credit ratings.

In July, the Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed that by the year 2001, 50 percent of Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s portfolio be made up of loans to low and moderate-income borrowers. Last year, 44 percent of the loans Fannie Mae purchased were from these groups.

The change in policy also comes at the same time that HUD is investigating allegations of racial discrimination in the automated underwriting systems used by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to determine the credit-worthiness of credit applicants.

BIENVENIDOS AL ÁREA DE ORANDO, AQUÍ SIEMPRE ESTARÁS DIVIRTIÉNDOTE. El centro de la Florida compuesto por cuatros condados, Lake,...