A Home Inspector’s Weblog by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

exploring homes and the lives in them around Houston

Book Review: Casa y Communidad, edited by Henry Cisneros and John Rosales

My wife and I frequently discuss matters pertaining to Hispanics and their life in the United States. Much of these conversations revolve around credit issues and home ownership. You may be thinking what a romantic couple at this point; well, that subject is for other conversations. Our reasons for this topic have to do with the fact that I work in the real estate industry and my wife is from Mexico, and we are attempting to find ways of getting some of my material to that market.

I have long been an admirer of Mr. Cisneros. I can remember travelling as a young man to San Antonio twenty years ago to find many changes under way. The city was becoming vastly different from my teenage years in the seventies, and this transformation was being led by their mayor, Henry Cisneros. Listening to him speak, I felt that the views he had taken made sense, and thereafter, I followed his career. I felt that as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development he was more in the news with projects than any other head of that department. Recently I discovered that he brought forth this work, so I ordered a copy immediately. The work has been a fascinating read. It is a collection of essays from different authors involved with the real estate industry in various capacities, writing to the idea of developing housing for the Latino community.

The real strength of the book is that it gives you guides in how to develop housing for Latinos, who are (in some areas) the fastest growing segment of consumers for the housing market. This book is not for the average reader, so if you are looking for an interesting read, it may not be for you. Any person who is involved in the real estate market and finds himself dealing with the Latino community should read these essays. There are topics dealing with home design to interior design. How to market to this group, and how to best serve them. Hispanics are not one great group, who act and feel the same way, and this work makes that point clear. Through a great deal of data, we are shown how this consumer is becoming more significant in areas where they had not been before. You will learn what to look for in a home that would appeal to different elements in this community too. Basically, I find this book to be an essential resource book for real estate professionals.

I also enjoyed the analysis, which demonstrated how some data was obtained. This method of observing this community could apply to other groups. For example, did you realize that the third largest population of Vietnamese in the United States live in Houston? On the far western fringes of our locale, you will find a large community developing its own infrastructure. Casa y Communidad indicates that we should use places where Latinos congregate, like the soccer field, as a place to reach them. Now I have not studied the Vietnamese, but I might suggest going to a sandwich/coffee shop may be the equivalent to the soccer field. One store in Houston, called Lee’s Sandwiches, is quite the gathering place, where people come and sit to socialize. My point is that the book could give you insights into serving more communities than the one it was intended for. If you are interested in developing your markets, then you should read these essays.

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