By Gino Blefari
This week my travels found me first in Irvine, CA for a Town Hall meeting at our HSF Affiliates HQ and next in Las Vegas for the Zillow Group Broker Forum at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. As I travel across the country and attend meetings led by some of our industry’s most powerful and innovative minds, I keep circling back to a theme prevalent in so many keynotes, panel discussions and coffee-break chats: diversity.
At the Zillow Group Broker Forum, I spoke with Errol Samuelson, chief industry development officer for Zillow, who kicked off the event this morning with one of my favorite topics, “Evolving through Change” about ways to navigate today’s industry-wide changes and anticipate tomorrow’s opportunities. He said something that would put a smile on the face of Teresa Palacios Smith, our VP of Diversity and Inclusion. He told me, “If you look at the GDP [Gross Domestic Product] of U.S. Latinos and you put that GDP on a chart, it would be bigger than the GDP of India, Brazil, Italy and Canada. That’s how much wealth and buying power the Latino community has in the United States.”
He also mentioned that Latinos make up 60% of all household creation in America. “They have an incredible buying power,” Samuelson explained. “So as real estate agent and brokers, we have to be focused on this demographic because it’s the future.”
Another interesting stat Samuelson shared with me is that between 2015 and 2016, the number of homes sold to foreign buyers increased by 49% and Chinese buyers represent the biggest segment; 20% of homes bought by foreigners during that timeframe were purchased by the Chinese. He added, “The interesting thing is, the median home price for the typical American is about $253K. For a Chinese buyer, it’s $572K, so almost double.”
The big takeaway here is that diversity permeates every aspect of the real estate business, from the consumer side—diverse groups contain tremendous buying power—and from the professional side. A real estate practitioner is not relegated to one specific prototype. Agents, brokers, managers … they’re as diverse and unique as the clients they serve.
Just today, RISMedia published an article about how diversity in brokerages attracts more business. As the story explains—and as I completely agree—diversity is a necessity for success and one that’s written into the REALTORS® Code of Ethics. The Code states: “agents and brokers must treat all clients equally, regardless of their race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity.”
At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, we’ve named Teresa Palacios Smith as our VP of Diversity & Inclusion to ensure that as we grow in size and number, diversity is at the forefront of not only what we do but also who we are.
Here’s more …