Let’s be real: Buying or selling a home isn’t just about square footage or curb appeal. First and foremost, wouldn’t you rather make the purchase with someone who respects your culture?
Culture is the thread that weaves our collective lives together. It influences how we see things and what we want from our spaces. When shopping for a home, buyers want to know that their real estate agent understands and respects their values. It makes a world of difference.
Table of Contents:
- 1. The Role of Culture in Home Buying and Selling
- 2. Benefits of Finding a Real Estate Agent Who Respects and Understands Your Culture
- 3. Steps to Find Culturally Aligned Real Estate Agents
- 4. Seek Networks of Previous Buyers
- 5. Potential Pitfalls and How To Avoid Them
- 6. The Impact of Race Discrimination
- 7. Why This Matters More Today Than Ever
1. The Role of Culture in Home Buying and Selling
There are some things that shouldn’t require a play-by-play explanation. Whether you’re dreaming of the ultimate backyard BBQ setup or have visions of a home theater for those binge-watching weekends, you shouldn’t have to justify every little detail.
Culture shapes our lives, and it can be hard to articulate everything to someone who belongs to a different background — whether we’re talking about the kind of house design we like or the neighborhood ambiance we’re comfortable with. When your real estate agent really empathizes with you, the home hunt feels less like a business deal and more like teaming up with a friend who just gets it.
Here are a few examples illustrating how shared cultural backgrounds can influence positive interactions between buyers and sellers.
A. The Family Home With History
Buyer: I see there’s a prayer room in the house. It reminds me of my grandparents’ home.
Seller: Yes, we built it in memory of our own grandparents. It’s the heart of the house for us.
B. Kitchen Tales
Buyer: I love the spacious kitchen and the tandoor oven. We love making homemade naan and tandoori chicken.
Seller: Oh, same here! Sunday nights were always tandoori nights in this house.
C. Festival Preparations
Buyer: Is the living space big enough for a Día de Los Muertos altar? We have a big family gathering every year.
Seller: Absolutely! We’ve been setting up our altar here for the last decade. It’s spacious enough for the family and the ofrenda.
D. Garden and Plants
Buyer: I noticed the jasmine and guava trees in the garden. Reminds me of back home.
Seller: It’s the same for us. Every summer, the scent of blooming jasmine takes us right back.
When you are ready to buy or sell a home, a realtor will provide professional guidance from a market perspective. Few of us have enough up-to-date knowledge and experience to pull this all together on our own. Let’s discuss a few of the considerations when buying or selling a home and hiring the agent who’s up to the task. Let’s take a look…
2. Benefits of Finding a Real Estate Agent Who Respects and Understands Your Culture
The process of buying or selling a home can be deeply emotional. After all, it’s a home! Knowing you have an agent who gets you brings a sense of comfort and the possibility of a longer and more trusted relationship. They can share what you need to know about relevant neighborhoods in a way that lines up with your cultural values, from community centers to places of worship.
If you look at it from the viewpoint of the seller, it even works out as a good business decision. A culturally aligned agent can choose to target buyers who resonate with their background and worldview.
It just makes good business sense. When two people share a cultural understanding, they can communicate better. Everyone will be happier in the end.
3. Steps to Find Culturally Aligned Real Estate Agents
Let’s break down some strategies for getting paired with the right agent and then delve into some tangible examples for each of these.
A. Research agents specializing in your cultural demographic. As you might guess, your community can be a treasure trove. Look for websites dedicated to culturally specialized agents. Word of mouth is also invaluable — ask around, and you’ll often find someone who knows someone.
Example: Maria, an Argentinian immigrant, is looking for a home in a U.S. city with a strong Latino presence. She visits a website dedicated to Latino realtors and finds several agent profiles in her desired area. Additionally, while attending a local community event, she overhears two attendees discussing their positive experiences with a particular agent who helped them find homes that catered to their cultural needs.
B. Ask the right questions during interviews. There is never any harm with being direct and straightforward about it. Gauge an agent’s cultural knowledge by asking direct questions. “Have you worked with clients from my cultural background before?” “How do you ensure you understand and respect the cultural needs of your clients?” These are fair questions. Their responses can be telling.
Example: During an agent interview, Raj, of Indian descent, asks, “Have you helped clients find homes that are Vastu compliant?” The agent nods, mentioning several past clients they’ve assisted with the same requirement. Raj feels totally reassured, recognizing the agent’s familiarity with his cultural preference.
If your dream home is listed as FSBO, then it is wise to consider all the pros and cons of buying a FSBO property, as well as understand the steps you will need to take before you can call the property home. On the flip side, if you plan to sell your home for sale by owner, then you need to know what to expect…
C. Look for agents with a track record in diverse communities. Experience is an effective teacher. Agents who’ve served clients from varied cultural backgrounds likely have a more honed sense of understanding. Don’t shy away from asking for testimonials.
Example: Aisha, who is a Muslim, is seeking an agent who understands her needs, especially concerning a home’s proximity to a mosque. She finds an agent, Sarah, who has worked in a diverse community for years. Sarah proudly shares testimonials from past clients, one of which reads, “Sarah not only found us a home close to the local mosque but also ensured the layout would allow us to have a dedicated prayer space facing the Qibla.”
D. Engage with agents who are open to continuous learning. The world of real estate, like our global community, evolves. Finding agents eager to learn helps to ensure that they remain adaptable and sensitive to varying cultural nuances.
Example: During a conversation with an agent, Tom, a recent transplant from Japan, mentions the importance of “tokonoma.” The agent admits they’re not familiar with the concept but they are keen to understand more. Tom explains that a tokonoma is an alcove for artistic displays in Japanese homes. The agent asks Tom for details and resources to learn from. This eagerness to learn and adapt makes Tom feel more comfortable, knowing the agent is genuinely interested in addressing his specific needs.
Instead of a conventional lender, such as a bank, credit union or mortgage company financing the outstanding balance of the purchase price, in a Contract for Deed, the home seller plays the role of the lender….
4. Seek Networks of Previous Buyers
Past homebuyers can become invaluable assets for future buyers by forming supportive networks. This can happen on social media or in person.
Here are a few examples:
- A. National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB): NAREB was established in 1947 by African American real estate professionals who were excluded from the National Association of Realtors on the basis of race. Today, NAREB has a vast network and provides resources and support for Black and other minority homeowners and real estate professionals.
- B. Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA): AREAA is a nonprofit that promotes homeownership opportunities in the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. AREAA offers education, business development opportunities and community outreach.
- C. National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP): NAHREP represents Hispanic and Latino real estate agents and professionals in the U.S. They aim to champion sustainable homeownership for the Latino community.
- D. Facebook groups: There are countless Facebook groups created by community members where potential homebuyers share experiences, ask questions and get recommendations. Groups like “Real Estate for Black Homebuyers” or “Indian Homebuyers in the USA” are just a couple of examples of the communities you can find.
You’ve often heard these 3 titles for real estate agents, and while they all can help you buy and sell a house, there are differences that distinguish them. Let me clarify them for you…
5. Potential Pitfalls and How To Avoid Them
As with any potentially sensitive issue, searching for the right culturally aligned seller is not without challenges. It’s important to discern genuine cultural understanding from broad generalizations. An agent might have preconceived notions or stereotypes rather than genuine understanding.
Clear, open dialogue can be the antidote. Express your needs and values explicitly and make sure that you feel valued and understood by the person you choose to represent you.
6. The Impact of Race Discrimination
People of color in the United States have faced, and continue to face, significant barriers in the home buying process. Race discrimination, both overt and subtle, has had a major impact on access to housing for individuals and families.
Black Americans, for example, have been the subject of explicitly racist laws and policies regarding homeownership. Historical practices like redlining led to segregated communities and limited opportunities for Black homeownership. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 was instrumental in combatting such discriminatory practices, but echoes of these policies can still be felt today.
The current homeownership rate for Black Americans stands at approximately 44%, compared to the overall U.S. rate of about 64%. While this is an increase from previous years, it is still lower than the rate for other racial groups. Additionally, homes in predominantly Black neighborhoods are frequently undervalued. These discrepancies highlight the unique challenges faced by Black Americans in the housing market.
Even though the real estate market has taken steps toward reducing racial disparities, there is still work to be done. Culturally aligned relationships can be a vital component in ensuring fairness, understanding and trust with real estate.
7. Why This Matters More Today Than Ever
As our world becomes more interconnected, the essence of community is evolving. Neighborhoods are more diverse than ever. Fortunately, an increasing number of home buyers and sellers prioritize cultural representation. They seek agents who can navigate this mosaic of cultures effectively.
The journey of buying or selling a home is personal and significant. It is our hope that your real estate journey is enriched by cultural empathy. And if you found value in this article, please consider sharing it with others!
In this article, we’ll discuss those key steps to confidently buying your first home. We’ll also look at several professionals who can help guide you on the journey, so all the details are handled correctly and professionally. Let’s get started on your next adventure…