Hispanic Heritage Month: Realtors® Share Their Experiences

By Kim Shindle | Sept. 15, 2023 | 5 min. read

Today begins the month-long National Hispanic Heritage Month, which celebrates the contributions of Americans who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico, Central America, South America and the Spanish-speaking nations of the Caribbean.

In Pennsylvania, the Hispanic population has seen the most growth from 2010 to 2020, according to the U.S. Census, reaching 1.1 million in 2021. More than 25% of the population in Lehigh County and 23% of Berks County are Hispanic, the Census reported.

Raul Azpiazu, a member of the Bradford Sullivan Association of Realtors®, became a Realtor® 19 years ago after a 30-year teaching career. He is currently the president-elect of the association.

An American of Cuban descent, Azpiazu said becoming a Realtor® has allowed him to set his own schedule and engage with many people of different backgrounds.

“I’ve helped more than 600 people reach their goals of owning a home,” he said. “I like seeing buyers excited as they move into their new homes, ready to live their dreams. With sellers, it’s great to help them move on to the next level of their lives.”

Azpiazu is surprised that clients lack knowledge about real estate. “That’s why it’s good if clients work with a real estate professional. We’re able to guide them through the roller coaster of a real estate transaction,” he said.

He encourages other people with a Hispanic background to enter the real estate profession to help others in the community. “Each group adds spice to the melting pot. When people of different backgrounds share their uniqueness and culture, it makes the community more vibrant,” he said. “In many areas, the lack of agents who are able to communicate with the Hispanic people makes it difficult for the client to understand how real estate works.”

He believes helping clients understand the process is important. “Listen and be an advocate for your clients. Educate them because the majority will rely on you, their agent, to provide them with the proper guidance.”

Carlos Masip, also a Cuban American, is the vice president of the Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors®.

Masip became a Realtor® in 2015 to represent his own business transactions and his business grew organically with friends and family and now includes clients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He’s since become a broker.

Real estate has changed his life in several ways. “Not only does it allow me to be able to provide for my family, but it also changes my life every time I help a buyer or seller experience the positive impact owning real estate has on their lives,” he said. “Helping people is always an incredible experience that makes me feel more grateful to be a Realtor® who serves.”

“I also love seeing their faces filled with excitement and happiness when they’re at the closing table,” he added.

Masip also encourages other members of the Hispanic community to consider real estate as a career. “It’s important to see cultural representation in the real estate industry because it helps create a sense of inclusion, not only to Realtors® and other related industry professionals but also to the Hispanic clients we serve as well,” he added. “The real estate industry is filled with vast opportunities that can help change your life and have an impact on those around you and the communities you serve.”

Raised in Honduras, Central America, Jon Bomberger is a member of the Greater Harrisburg and the Lebanon County associations of Realtors®. A Realtor® for 10 years, Bomberger has served on LCAR’s board of directors, a GHAR committee chair and is the LCAR DEI Committee chair.

Bomberger became a Realtor® because it offered him more control over his time and income. “Starting out was very difficult for me. I left my retail career to get into real estate. It’s not a strategy I would recommend for most people. I had to work hard to make things work financially and thankfully, it really paid off,” he said.

He said one of the most eye-opening aspects of real estate is understanding how vast the industry is. “Representing buyers and sellers in a transaction is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “I’ve learned so much about personal finance and investment. It’s not something I expected coming into the business initially, but it’s been a massive reward.”

Bomberger finds working with buyers and sellers emotionally gratifying. “Watching a new homeowner take their keys for the first time is pretty neat. Working with sellers is gratifying in a different way as you help them to transition to the next step out of their home and into the next. It isn’t just about the house; for many, it’s turning a page in their lives.”

He believes it’s important that everyone is represented in real estate so information can be shared and done so in a culturally sensitive way. “Latinos represent much of the population growth in our area. In some areas of central Pennsylvania, Latinos make up almost all the population growth. Many of these people who were not raised and educated in the U.S. need a professional who understands them and their culture to help them understand not only the process but what resources are available to them,” he said.

He’s proud to be able to take different leadership positions in the industry. “Being trusted to oversee and help other agents develop their sales businesses has been a great experience. And becoming involved in the various committees and boards of directors makes me feel like I’m helping to shape the future of the industry at the local level,” he said.

“Real estate isn’t easy. The shift in our market this year has made that clear to us and newer Realtors® are understanding that for the first time,” he added. “You must have a plan and be persistent and consistent in executing it. And understand that our business is serious. We cannot undervalue the importance of the fiduciary responsibility we have to our clients and the ethical obligations we have to each other and the public. We should always do the right thing, regardless of the impact on our wallet,” he added.

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Pennsylvania Realtors® can access monthly webinars and much more.

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