The Hispanic homeownership rate in Pennsylvania is 47.6%, according to the 2022 State of Hispanic Homeownership Report published by the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals. During Hispanic Heritage Month, we’ve reached out to members of the Hispanic community who are working with this growing demographic. Helping members of their community become homeowners is a common trait they all share.
Tri-County Suburban Realtor® Tomás Zambrano Fernández has cultural roots in Venezuela. As an immigrant, his heritage and culture helped to guide his decision to become a Realtor® about three years ago, to focus on the well-being of Latino families and helping them to find their ideal homes in the U.S.
“I wanted to be a source of support and guidance for our community during one of the most important moments of their lives, buying or selling a home,” Zambrano Fernández said. “As a real estate investor and Realtor®, I can provide the knowledge and experience needed to guide families towards a successful and satisfying transaction.”
Since becoming a real estate professional, Zambrano Fernández has achieved personal and professional goals as he’s worked to overcome language and cultural barriers in certain situations. He enjoys real estate because of the opportunity to connect so many different people.
“It’s wonderful to help make their dreams of owning a home come true,” he said. “The sense of satisfaction and accomplishment I feel when closing a successful deal is incomparable. I enjoy the excitement of helping people find the place they can call home. Seeing the joy on their faces when they find the perfect home for them is truly rewarding. I also greatly appreciate the opportunity to establish meaningful connections with my clients and be part of their life stories.”
Helping clients through difficult transactions makes Zambrano Fernández proud to be a Realtor®.
“I had a particularly challenging transaction involving a Latino family who had been struggling to find a suitable home for their needs. I worked tirelessly to find the perfect property that fit their budget and requirements. In the end, seeing the happiness on their faces and knowing that I had made a significant difference in their lives filled me with joy and satisfaction,” he said.
Zambrano Fernández encourages other members of the Hispanic community to consider real estate as a profession because of the impact you have on others’ lives.
“I believe it is essential to have cultural representation in the real estate industry because it fosters a greater understanding and empathy towards the specific needs of our community. By seeing professionals who share our heritage, Latino families can feel more comfortable and secure in making important decisions about their properties,” he said. “Being a Realtor® is a unique opportunity to make a significant difference in people’s lives while building a path to personal success. Our Latino community has much to contribute to the world of real estate, and our unique perspectives can enrich the industry.”
Karin Negron-Caraballo was born in Puerto Rico. A member of the Realtors® Association of York and Adams Counties, she became a real estate professional five years ago.
“I became a Realtor® to help bridge the gap in homeownership within the Hispanic community in our area,” she said. “I see myself as an advocate to educate and prepare my clients for homeownership and foster pride of ownership as a means to improve their quality of life.”
Making connections has been one of the things she enjoys the most about real estate. “One day a person is a client and the next they become part of your forever client family. They teach you to be grateful in a number of ways,” she said. “Real estate has been a powerful driver of personal growth, particularly in how I interact with others, giving me a greater level of patience, acceptance and understanding.”
Negron-Caraballo said her career has also allowed her to give back to her community. “I’m proud to be able to give back to my community by volunteering and empowering people to achieve homeownership and start their paths to building personal wealth,” she said.
Growing up in a lower-income neighborhood, Negron-Caraballo said most of the people she knew didn’t know what home equity was. “I have to educate my clients about finances first before starting the homebuying process. Many other agents don’t have to work with that hurdle on a regular basis,” she added.
She believes having more members of the Hispanic community will help make the pathway to homeownership more accessible to the Hispanic and other minority communities.
“It’s important that members from the Hispanic community see themselves as being able to become homeowners and that they’re receiving proper tools and education to succeed in their real estate goals,” she said. “A career in real estate is very rewarding as a source of personal pride, growth and wellbeing. As a Realtor®, I am growing as a person in every way, every day.”
Bucks County Association of Realtors® member Gabriela Harris was born in Mexico and holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture. She met her husband when his company was developing a new industrial process in her hometown’s local refinery. After marrying, they returned to Bucks County to his home and they became the parents of triplets.
“I obtained my real estate license 16 years ago, which allowed me to work around my children’s busy schedule,” she added.
Harris noted that Bucks County has a thriving Hispanic community, with pharmaceutical companies and most industries employing scientists and professionals from Latin America countries and Spain.
“Being able to provide services in Spanish is essential to me, even if my clients are fluent in English or prefer other languages. I believe it is a cultural identity that has helped me provide the best service to our community,” she said. “It’s interesting to note that despite fluency in English, many legal concepts in real estate do not exist in the countries where my clients come from. Many clients have become long-lasting friends and have recommended me to others, resulting in the steady growth of my business over time. I have witnessed many success stories unfold and observed how my clients’ lives improve through the years.”
“I feel honored to be chosen to assist my clients through the homebuying process,” she added. “I also enjoy touring houses, as each of them presents the opportunity for a different lifestyle, and the purchase of real estate is one of the most important decisions our clients make in their lives.”
Harris serves as a member of Doylestown Hispanic Association board of directors. The organization provides scholarships to students interested in our Hispanic culture and language. “Our association has also been able to contribute a scholarship at the Bucks County Community College for students, who are many times are first generation in their family to attend college. I’m proud to be a part in helping these students achieve their dreams of furthering their education,” she said.
“Living in Pennsylvania, especially in Bucks County, is a blessing. I am very grateful to live here and for the services I can provide to my clients,” she added.
While in high school, Realtor® Jenniffer Jimenez worked as an assistant for her father, who was also a Realtor®. His life was dedicated to community outreach and helping his customers as well as those with whom he met to have better lives. Through his encouragement and inspiration, she pursued and received her real estate license. While she majored in psychology in college and briefly worked in the field, she soon recognized real estate was her passion.
Born in the Dominican Republic, Jimenez is a member of the Reading-Berks Association of Realtors® where she’s currently the vice president.
She’s proud of being able to help people as a Realtor®. “I’ve worked with clients who never believed that they could buy a home and I’ve nurtured and walked with them through this often-daunting process. It’s wonderful to be able to help them achieve their goals and their dreams,” she said.
Jimenez believes cultural representation in the real estate industry is essential. “It’s important for all cultures, not just the Hispanic culture, to be able to achieve the American dream of purchasing a home,” she added. “And Realtors® become a guide, remove roadblocks and ally the trepidation many buyers face in achieving that dream.”
She encourages other members of the Hispanic community to become Realtors®. “Our community is an underserved portion of our economy. Members of the community really want to own real estate to help move their lives and the lives of their families forward,” she added.