How often have you heard that statement? If you live in California, Florida, or the Southwest, you've either heard that statement, or made it, 2-3 times in the past month. The immigration and assimilation of Spanish-speaking people, both legal and illegal, is reaching record numbers in this country and its cultural effect is disruptive to the "old" and "new" Americans, alike.
I asked, "Should English be the Language of Business in America?" on NELA Live, last March.
Well, it turns out that there is a sub-group of the financially clueless who actually may have a case; they didn't understand the loan paperwork because English is not their first language. Their first language is Chinese, or Vietnamese, or Spanish, or Tagalog, or Russian. In California, it can be a number of different languages because we are a land of immigrants. It's one of our strengths in The Golden State.
Good loan originators have solutions to that. We have an arsenal of already translated loan disclosures for all of the aforementioned languages except Russian. The borrowers still need to execute their loan disclosures and loan documents in English but we'll give them a good translation if they want it. I think that makes good business sense and offer it on every loan application now regardless of what their first language appears to be.
I don't want that practice legislated, though. I'm against that kind of legislation; not for the reasons you might think. I don't have an "ENGLISH ONLY" bumper sticker on my pick-up truck. I don't even have a truck. I'm against a legislative mandate because of we need to have uniformity in business dealings in this country. It inspires confidence in our markets for investors.
I'll take my thoughts a step further, here. English should be the official language OF REAL ESTATE in America. What I mean is that all recorded documents, such as deeds of trust, mortgage notes, warranty deeds, etc., should be in one common language; it is natural that language be English. My aforementioned reason of uniformity and market confidence, now more than ever, makes that case.
That doesn't mean we should dissuade real estate and lending professionals from embracing the languages spoken and understood by the New Americans. In fact, I not only support but encourage real estate and lending professionals to proactively advertise their propositions in the native tongues of people who may be likely to use their services. It makes sense from a marketing position to be the Realtor or lender of choice for those people. When a Harvard study suggests that some ten million new households will come from Spanish speaking families,
...necesitamos saber cómo hablar con ellos
If a comprehension of a client's native tongue gives you a distinct competitive advantage, use it. Critics be damned on this one. A parochial vision of what things SHOULD be like is a sure-fire recipe for failure in the already competitive markets of real estate brokerage and lending. Nobody is forcing every real estate agent or loan originator to market bilingually but those who are unable to accomplish this should understand that THEY are at the disadvantage; if Mohammed won't come to the mountain, move the mountain to Mohammed.
If a client's comprehension of English is poor, he is best served to hire a translator before signing official real estate documents. Our uniform business document system shouldn't change for every immigrant's native tongue. Marketing agents, however, should never cry "Speak English or Go Home !" because that's EXACTLY what those clients will do...