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This article was published on: 08/01/2007

FOR BROKERS: Companies to Watch

Spanglish Spoken Here

Reaching out to Latino customers in word and deed.


Several years ago, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORSŪ released research showing that 20 percent of California home sales involved buyers or sellers with a Hispanic surname.

Those findings motivated Ed Krafchow, president of residential brokerage giant Prudential California/Nevada/Texas Realty, based in Pleasanton, Calif., to conduct similar research on his company.

What he learned grabbed his attention: Only 12 percent of transactions in his company of 4,600 associates in 132 offices involved buyers or sellers with a Hispanic surname, even though his company is concentrated in the heart of the Southwest.

In response, Krafchow initiated a Hispanic outreach effort and this year launched a Spanglish-language listings magazine, Palacio.

He also embarked on a personal mission to help the real estate industry understand what the surge in Hispanic households means to its future success.

A Part of the Community

In its outreach effort, the company has put the focus on building long-term relationships. For Krafchow’s brokers and associates, this can mean
  • Participating in predominantly Hispanic church activities
  • Making themselves available to Hispanic church and neighborhood leaders as advisers on local real estate and economic issues
  • Hosting seminars on home buying and becoming a real estate professional

“When companies have tried to impose their brand in the Hispanic community, it hasn’t worked,” Krafchow says. “Hispanics tend to work through relationships. You need to be connected in the community and be present at things like baptisms.”

The decision to publish Palacio in Spanglish, rather than traditional Spanish, is central to relationship building, Krafchow believes.

The reality is, many Hispanic households communicate in the highly fluid amalgam of English and Spanish, using words like “boila” (boiler or heater) and “lonche” (lunch).

Brokers don’t pay to include their listings in the magazine. For now, the magazine features just Prudential brokers’ listings, but Krafchow is planning editions for other brokers. The magazine is owned separately from the brokerage.

Industry Dialogue

Although he doesn’t have figures yet, Krafchow says his company’s outreach efforts and the magazine’s launch are helping close that eight percentage-point gap he found among Hispanic consumers.

The real improvement, though, won’t come until the industry as a whole is on board with outreach, because the trust gap is something one company can’t close by itself.

That’s been one of Krafchow’s messages in presentations he’s been giving this year, including one at a recruiting network conference — an event for recruiters in the real estate industry — and another at a gathering of executives from such major Spanish companies as Univision and Banco Popular.

Krafchow says he’s positioning his company to be a resource that reflects how Hispanics approach home buying and selling. “If you don’t do that,” he says, “you don’t understand the multicultural environment we’ll be living in for some time to come.”

Prudential California/Nevada/Texas Realty,

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