“The economic lifeboat is the multicultural consumer,” stated Oscar Gonzales, keynote speaker for the Illinois Association of REALTORS® (IAR) Asian Multicultural Summit on April 14 at the Hilton Lisle.
Gonzales is owner and founder of the Gonzales Group and a nationally known speaker and author on real estate trends. He shared trends and statistics about the Asian market to help educate Illinois REALTORS® about diverse, multicultural markets as part of the second in a series of annual IAR multicultural summits held in observance of April as Fair Housing Month. The Summit included keynote presentations, a REALTOR® and industry panel discussions and luncheon attracting close to 140 attendees.
“What are you doing to build relationships with multicultural clients?” he asked. “Housing depends on immigration. Consider building a multicultural business plan to support your outreach to multicultural clients. Make sure you have the infrastructure and business partnerships in place to support your efforts. Consumers want transparency and access to information through technology.”
Gonzales told REALTORS® that the Asian population is growing faster than the Hispanic population in some areas of the country. Here are stats and facts from Gonzales’ presentation.
- By 2010 the Asian buying power increased 475%.
- By 2015, Asian population in Illinois will have increased by 50%.
- Thirty percent of the Asian population is also under age of 18 while 50% of the Hispanic population is under the age of 18. These are future homebuyers of tomorrow.
- The Asian Indian population makes up the biggest part of the Illinois Asian population followed by Filipino and Chinese.
- Asian homebuyers are in the peak of the first-time homebuyer median age group of 30.
- 80-90% of culture is reflected in nonverbal messages including eye movement, facial gestures, hand and body gestures as well as body orientation and posture, use of distance and touching, tone of voice.
- Consider adding multicultural components to your website. Investigate Internet marketing to reach Asian homebuyers in order to break down language barriers. Consider adding information on your website about community events instead of just listings, showing community trusteeship.
- Print remains a dominant media vehicle as a primary source of news and information. Asian language television programming is growing rapidly and is available through satellite and local programming.
- Consider becoming involved in the Asian Real Estate Association of America or be involved in the chamber of commerce to offer networking venues. Get training in designations such as CIPS (Certified International Professional Specialist).
“Three major words in working with the Asian community are relationship, relationship and relationship…build it before you need it,” says REALTOR® Ann Trandai, broker-owner of Trandai Realty in Chicago, a summit panelist who discussed the Chinese culture. “Be patient and cater to needs in a more detail-oriented way to build relationships and gain trust before you dive into business. Learn to become a good listener. Patience and perseverance are virtues.”
Trandai also shared these tips:
- Learn implicit communication style including the fact that ‘maybe’ means ‘never’ and ‘yes’ means ‘no.’
- Learn different ways to say no without using the word no.
- Learn a few phrases in Chinese.
- Learn about Feng Shui and to understand Chinese belief in order to build relationship and trust.
- Try to be polite and return a favor to help them with their business or show appreciation such as a small gift. The gift symbolizes that you care to go an extra mile to think of them as family.
- The number 8 is considered lucky.
“Filipino clients will try to remain calm and in control of their emotions at all times and will avoid disagreement, rejection and confrontational behavior.” said Victoria Silvano, a REALTOR® with Century 21 SGR Chicago and a summit panelist. “In working with Filipino clients, don’t raise your voice or interrupt while clients are talking. Too much eye contact can do major damage which can be perceived as pushy or arrogant. Don’t underestimate the influence of the family unit and its effect on business in Asian culture.”