Real Estate Association Prioritizes Re-establishing Trust

Written by Posted On Sunday, 23 September 2007 17:00

"Right now, there is a crisis of trust and [consumers] don't know who they can or cannot trust," says Tim Sandos, President and CEO of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP).

The association recently unveiled codes of ethical standards for real estate agents and loan officers. The goal is to re-establish trust between consumers and real estate professionals, to ensure that ethical standards are set and routinely practiced in the industry, and to sustain and increase the rate of Hispanic homeownership.

According to the NAHREP, Latinos are disproportionately vulnerable to predatory loan practices. Nearly 50 percent of Latinos who have a sub-prime loan would have qualified for a prime product.

Sandos says the reason that Hispanics were more exposed to predatory [lending] practices is three-fold. The first is the language barrier.

"In many instances they simply don't have the language capacity to be able to communicate [sufficiently] for the transaction," explains Sandos.

Second is the lack of understanding about the real estate industry. The third factor is the cultural difference in the way money is handled and viewed.

"First and second generation Hispanics will not have traditional credit lines that are required to get a conventional loan which is the most secure. That is because, for many, the culture has suggested that they not ever owe anybody any money. So Hispanic cultures tend to be cash-based," says Sandos.

NAHREP plans to take its ethical codes to the airwaves. Through radio and a series of print advertisements the association will show the public what they can and should expect from real estate professionals. In these same advertisements, the association will list the names of industry professionals who have signed the code and will guarantee this ethical level of service.

"That's why this is so important to state the standards and tell consumers who is providing these standards so they know who they can go to," adds Sandos.

The lending standards will include requiring a "prime-loan filter that shows a guaranteed net benefit to the customer before that particular type of loan would be offered," says Sandos.

This way the association helps to ensure that a prime-loan option is looked at for the consumer before any other type of product is considered.

On the Realtor side the code includes "that we make sure that we educate the consumer on the different consumer choices that they have for products," says Sandos.

He says too often consumers aren't completely informed about their choices about matters such as title and homeowner's insurance.

"The disclosure for title usually comes at the closing table. Well, that's when you've got a moving van packed out front and the person who gives you the disclosure that says you have a choice of title companies is the Title company that's closing the deal right then. If you say no you've got to start all over -- three week process -- so is that really a choice for a consumer? We think not," says Sandos.

The association has produced educational materials for consumers that explain these choices in English and Spanish.

While the codes are aimed at improving the way consumers view real estate industry professionals, NAHREP is also trying to do its part to protect investors.

The association believes the crisis of trust not only exists between consumers and real estate professionals but also has also spread to the secondary market.

"You have investors who don't have a lack of capital. What they have is a lack of trust in how the assets are valued and underwritten and until they can establish trust at that level, investors simply are not going to be bringing money to invest in mortgage-backed securities or asset-backed securities," says Sandos.

Sandos says this trust must be re-established for the investor. He says they need to be protected, too, as they are the group that's "bringing the money to the table that creates liquidity for the market."

"The issue today is a lack of trust about how the assets have been valued," says Sandos.

He says therefore investors who would traditionally come in at this point and purchase the asset-backed paper are skeptical.

"They are just simply saying 'I don't want to touch it at any price; I can't trust the value. I don't know that that $500,000 home is going to de-value to $300,000. So I don't know if 70 cents on the dollar is a good deal or 50 cents on the dollar is the good deal; I can't value it so I'm not going to buy it,'" says Sandos.

NAHREP believes that ethical codes of conduct will help to re-establish trust and ultimately help consumers and investors to see the value of real estate.

For more details about the code of ethics visit nahrep.org

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Phoebe Chongchua

Phoebe Chongchua is an award-winning journalist, an author, customer service trainer/speaker, and founder of Setting the Service Standard, a customer service training and consulting program offered by Live Fit Enterprises (LFE) based in San Diego, California. She is the publisher of Live Fit Magazine, an online publication that features information on real estate/finance, physical fitness, travel, and philanthropy. Her company, LFE, specializes in media services including marketing, PR, writing, commercials, corporate videos, customer service training, and keynotes & seminars. Visit her magazine website: www.LiveFitMagazine.com.

Phoebe's articles, feature stories, and columns appear in various publications including The Coast News, Del Mar Village Voice, Rancho Santa Fe Review, and Today's Local News in San Diego, as well as numerous Internet sites. She holds a California real estate license. Phoebe worked for KGTV/10News in San Diego as a Newscaster, Reporter and Community Affairs Specialist for more than a decade. Phoebe's writing is also featured in Donald Trump's book: The Best Real Estate Advice I Ever Received and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Buying Foreclosures. She is the author of If the Trash Stinks, TAKE IT OUT! 14 Worriless Principles for Your Success.

Contact Phoebe at (858) 259-3646 or phoebe@livefitmagazine.com. Visit PhoebeChongchua.com for more information.

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