“Hispanic Americans have enriched our nation beyond measure with the quiet strength of closely knit families and proud communities.”
– George Bush, Proclaiming the First National Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15, 1989
Hispanic cultures throughout the world are deeply woven into the fabric of American life. In 2020, nearly one-in-five people in the U.S. (19%), were of Hispanic heritage.
Throughout the NextHome family, many of our broker/owners trace their ancestry to Hispanic nations, while many more associates provide exceptional bi-lingual care for their clients.
Starting today, Hispanic Heritage Month offers an opportunity to recognize the deep and lasting contributions made by immigrants from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
The official celebration of these cultures started in 1968 when California Rep. George E. Brown pushed his fellow lawmakers to recognize Hispanic Heritage Week. For the next 20 years, presidents from Nixon to Regan each issued official proclamations, setting aside one week to honor Hispanic culture.
By 1988, the Hispanic population had grown, and so had the national desire to make this celebration extend throughout an entire month. Since 1988, September 15th through October 15th has been declared Hispanic Heritage Month. The dates overlap with the Independence Day celebrations of eight different Latin nations.
As Hispanic Heritage Month approached, I took some time to reach out to a few of our Hispanic NextHome members. Our diversity elevates who we are as a company.
“I am unapologetically true to my Caribbean roots which means dancing, singing, enjoying life, and just making people feel at home,” said O’Mayra Diaz, owner of NextHome Magnolia Realty in Tennessee. “My culture helps me to lead with not only that flair, but also care. The care is leading my company and my actions with empathy, loyalty, selflessness, and a relationship-focused mindset. These are values that are deeply instilled in us from a young age as Latinos.”
Hispanic brokers, owners, and associates also fill a critical need for quality bi-lingual real estate representation. According to research from The National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals®, this need is accelerating.
For the past seven years, Hispanic homeownership has steadily increased. In 2021, the Hispanic homeownership rate was 48.4 percent, up from 47.5 in 2019. Latinos added a total of 657,000 owner households between 2019 and 2021. Since 2014, the first year of positive homeownership growth following the Great Recession, Latinos have added a net total of 1.9 million owner households.
“I remember being raised by a single parent, my mom always rented and was never able to buy a home,” said Lionel Cruz, owner of NextHome Prime in New Jersey. “I bought my first property and was never educated and just went with the flow. When I became licensed, I wanted to make sure that no one learned about home buying the hard way like I did. Education is incredibly important to me.”
Other NextHome members shared similar stories about how crucial Hispanic representation is in real estate.
“In 2020, I came across a gentleman who wanted to sell his home who did not speak any English,” O’Mayra added. “He gave me the whole story and as it would turn out, he purchased through a FSBO, unrepresented, and used the title company that the seller chose. There was a $5k lien on the property and when it came time to sell he was responsible for paying that off as they did not provide title insurance. He realized too late the importance of quality Hispanic real estate representation. This is not the only case I’ve encountered like this, but the most recent.”
Outside of providing a crucial service, NextHome’s Hispanic broker/owners enrich our company by providing perspectives and work ethic born from the immigrant experience.
“Being a Hispanic business owner gives me the opportunity to be a voice,” said Sal Torres, owner of NextHome CREA Real Estate in California. “My entire family is from Mexico and I am first generation born in the United States. English is a second language to me. I was blessed with the opportunity to see and experience firsthand how my parents fought for the American Dream and, in due time, accomplished their goal of purchasing their first home. The struggles and the celebration that came with it are forever engraved in my being.”
These struggles and successes are also a big part of Donna Bahena Busto’s story, which she shared on our website, HumansOverHouses.com. After emigrating from Acapulco, Mexico in 2001, Donna and her parents thought home buying was out of their reach. Years later, after Donna’s parents sacrificed to put her and her sister through college, Donna connected with Mary Ann Wilson, franchise owner at NextHome In The Triangle.
“I only started to believe it had actually happened – that I’d actually bought a home – once I had the keys,” Donna said. “But it took my parents a very long time. It took a long time for them to understand that it actually happened.”
“Hispanic professionals, entrepreneurs, and business owners are the ones in our community that will contribute to a real change,” said Edward Sanchez, an agent with NextHome Experience in Ohio.
“As Latinos, we make decisions based on the good of the many and the golden rule,” O’Mayra said. “By running our company this way I can see how it makes a difference with my agents. They appreciate my values and are mirroring them with one another. Their positive attitudes towards helping each other are a breath of fresh air. Coming from a company that didn’t share any of these values, and was numbers driven, made me feel like I as a person didn’t matter. I decided to make those values the foundation of our firm, to communicate them clearly, and overall, to lead by example. I realized one day that I would never ‘fit in’ at other companies, so it was my duty to create a place where those who embodied the same values, and were as colorful in personality as I am, would have a home.”
For NextHome, our focus will always be on supporting the people who work, sacrifice, and serve to build the American Dream of homeownership.
Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!