5 Questions with Gary Acosta
Gary Acosta is co-founder and CEO of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP®), the nation’s largest Hispanic
business organization with over 30,000 members and 100 local chapters. As always, VantageScore is thankful for his organization’s support and, specific to this feature, for his insights on the current economy and NAHREP’s latest research on the Hispanic-American population.
1) The recently released State of Hispanic Homeownership Report includes a new section of marketing outreach recommendations specifically tailored to the Hispanic consumer. Do you have a case study you can share? What are the top three takeaways from this year’s report?
Within the housing industry, companies disproportionately distribute their anticipated marketing spend on non-Hispanic audiences. Since Hispanics have been the primary source of home purchases, this creates a missed engagement opportunity. We suggest a needs-based segmentation strategy based on a given company’s strategic geographic focus. This means creating ads and a content strategy that meet the consumer where he or she is, sometimes in-language, sometimes in English, and sometimes bilingual, depending on what the consumer in that market prefers. The biggest takeaway is that a Spanish language strategy is not a Hispanic strategy.
2) Have you seen any impact on Hispanic homeownership based on the Trump administration’s immigration and border patrol policies?
The construction industry is experiencing a critical labor shortage, as there are an insufficient number of skilled labor resources currently available in the U.S. Hispanics represent about 30% of construction workers and undocumented individuals represent nearly 30% of construction labor. At the same time, this past year Hispanics represented 95.7% of all deported individuals, with increased focus on interior removals of individuals, many of whom have been in the U.S. for several years. This focus on deportations rather than on immigration reform further widens the labor gap in an industry already suffering labor shortages. While there are other impacts on the housing industry overall, this one example illustrates the fact that fixing our broken immigration system is a housing issue, not a partisan issue, and requires a reasonable solution.
3) The 2019 State of Hispanic Wealth Report also was recently released and found growth in Latino income. Yet we still see barriers to entry in homeownership for Latinos. What are some obstacles this population must face and how can they overcome them?
Hispanic consumers are more likely than non-Hispanics to rely on cash for payment of goods and services, which has an impact on their ability to build a credit profile. This is one of the reasons why alternative credit scoring models that capture things like cell phone and rent payments help to create a more realistic picture of a consumer’s credit risk. This is especially true for Hispanics based on their credit usage patterns. Industry changes that more readily enable usage of alternative credit scoring models will have a positive impact on credit qualifying for otherwise credit-worthy borrowers.
4) There’s a lot of change (all great things!) happening at NAHREP these days – from the appointment of Sara Rodriguez as president-elect to your new logo. Can you tell us the motivation behind the new narrative you are wanting to communicate to your constituents?
Sara is a powerhouse and will be a great ambassador for our organization. Latinos are the driving force behind the New Mainstream Economy and are the economic engine that is fueling America. Whether by driving U.S., homeownership gains, or as entrepreneurs driving small business starts, Latinos are critical to the economic success of the U.S. and NAHREP is focused on ensuring its members are well-positioned as leaders in this important cohort. We felt it was time to change our logo in a manner that reflects the broad role Hispanics are playing in our nation’s economy.
5) Most indicators suggest that credit has loosened recently. Are Hispanic consumers finding housing finance more accessible? If not, where else should policy makers be focusing on?
The data is hard to interpret at this point because inventory has been so tight; there are still more qualified Hispanics than available homes for sale. This will change as the market slows. However, Hispanics continue to be more likely than non-Hispanics to be denied for mortgage loans and are also more likely to use FHA-guaranteed loans than non-Hispanics. We are engaged with policy makers to ensure Hispanics and other first-time buyers continue to have access to affordable housing finance, such as by maintaining the QM Patch. These things are of critical importance in ensuring prospective homeowners realize their dream.
NAHREP is the nation’s largest Hispanic business organization with over 30,000 members and 75 local chapters. In his capacity as CEO of NAHREP, Gary Acosta created the Hispanic Wealth Project, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a strategic plan to triple Hispanic household wealth by 2024. In 2018, He co-founded L’ATTITUDE, a mega event that celebrates the achievements of the Latino community in business, entertainment, technology, and politics.
Mr. Acosta has also founded or co-founded several mortgage, real estate and technology companies including New Vista Asset Management, CounselorMax, and RealEstateEspanol.com. In 2013 he co-founded The Mortgage Collaborative, a cooperative of mortgage companies that work together to increase profitability and market share.
Mr. Acosta is a former appointee of the consumer advisory board (CAB) of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the federal agency responsible for regulating consumer protection in the financial services industry. He served as 2014 chairman of the CAB mortgage committee.
In 2012, the Mortgage Bankers Association of America awarded him with its prestigious “Investing in Communities” annual award. REALTOR® Magazine named him one of the 25 Most Influential People in Real Estate, and Hispanic Business Magazine named him one of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics in America.
He is a current member of the board of trustees for the Home Builders Institute and is a former member of the board of directors of the Mortgage Bankers Association of America. He has also served on advisory boards for several Fortune 500 companies including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Mr. Acosta grew up in Montebello, California, and received his education from Pomona College and the University of California at San Diego. He lives with his family in San Diego, California.