The National Association of Realtors®’ Diversity Chair Tim Hur spoke at PAR’s Spring Business Meetings on how the ever-changing demographic of the United States is influencing real estate, and how you can keep up with it.
“Multicultural consumers means multiple definitions of quality,” he said. Each culture has its own set of customs and traditions. Hur said when working with multicultural clients, he will ask friends in that culture what the biggest taboos are, so he can avoid them.
“Don’t be blindsided. Know your cultural background,” he said. He also recommended practicing active listening and practicing non-verbal listening skills. Body language is also important to watch for. Some cultures are more likely to embrace personal touch, while others avoid it. Some cultures may find direct eye contact disrespectful, while others view it differently.
Beyond first impressions, while your office layout may be the ‘norm,’ some cultures may find the desk dividing client and agent as a barricade. “Offer coffee and tea and sit on a level playing field,” he said. He also said to write down specifics to clarify you and your clients are on the same page.
If you need to use translation services, he said to hire a native speaker or certified translator. Google translator is not an acceptable alternative. Text messaging is generally an acceptable form of communication, he said, but be patient.
Even if your business is not currently seeing many multicultural clients, that will not be true for the future. Fifty percent of children under 12 are multicultural, so it’s time to expand your expertise, because multicultural generations will be the next homebuyers. Hispanics currently have the fastest growing rate of homeownership, Hur said. Their record number of household formations will continue to grow. Additionally, both Asian and black homeownership is expected to rise in the next few years.