With the ever-growing number of LEP individuals in the United States, it may seem like learning multiple languages would be the best way to help grow your real estate business. According to HUD, nearly 9% of the U.S. population has limited English proficiency, and about 65% of those LEP individuals speak Spanish at home. Although being able to speak with buyers in their own language is helpful, it thankfully isn’t the only way to connect with this market. Here are a few ways you can become their go-to realtor in other ways.
1. Find your resources. Many state REALTOR® associations provide translated copies of forms and contracts for association members. If you are a member of your state association, be sure to request this information in the languages you encounter most often. Work with lenders and title companies who offer translations of their documents, as well. A buyer who understands what he or she is agreeing to is more likely to feel appreciated and supported during the purchasing process, and therefore, more likely to recommend you and your office to friends and family when they are considering purchasing a property. The Federal National Mortgage Association, Fannie Mae, offers a translated glossary and other forms in Spanish, as well. It is worth downloading these forms for your clients to ensure they understand the process.
2. Offer interpreting services when necessary. It is vital to ensure that your clients understand the entire property purchasing process. If your client does not completely understand what is happening, you could potentially omit steps that may be important to him/her. Your client could, for example, forego a home inspection contingency in the purchasing agreement without realizing it if they misunderstand what you’ve said in a review of the contract itself. Providing an interpreter, either in person or over the phone, will help your client feel more at ease asking and answering questions, especially when it comes to the more complicated or technical components of contracts and negotiations.
3. A little effort goes a long way. You don’t have to be fluent in another language to make a lasting and positive impression on your LEP clients. Make an effort to learn a few key phrases and greetings in the languages you come across most frequently. Your clients will appreciate the effort, knowing you’ve taken the time to learn how to greet them in their own language. You should also learn more about the culture of your LEP clients when possible. Knowing whether to greet with a handshake, or another form of greeting will go a long way with your clients. Handing your customers a professionally translated one-page sheet with information about you and your background can truly sell them on wanting to work with you as their realtor. It shows that you took the time to provide them information in the language in which they feel most comfortable, and you’ve told them more about yourself, which makes them put trust in you and your expertise.
Bonus Tip! The National Association of REALTORS® offers language books and programs to their members at no additional charge. You can search for offerings on their website at https://www.nar.realtor/library.
As the foreign-language market continues to grow here in the U.S., becoming the go-to realtor for one or some of these demographics has huge growth potential for your real estate business. Buyers who have a positive experience with you and your office are likely to recommend you to their friends, family, and colleagues who may need someone more sensitive to their language needs. If you’ve found other ways to effectively engage with your foreign-language market, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below!