In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we invited Douglas Elliman agents to share their experiences and talk about the role their heritage has played in their real estate career.
Ignacio Villanueva, Miami Real Estate Agent
How do you prefer to identify yourself within the umbrella of “Hispanic Heritage”?
I am Venezuelan, born and raised.
What aspects of your identity are most meaningful for you? Are there cultural traditions or historic moments or other elements that are a particular source of pride?
I think the aspect of my identity that is most meaningful to me is my native tongue, Spanish. I love the fact that I’m fluent in more than one language, as I feel it teaches you so much about how to see the world and realize that there are many realities out there other than your own. As for historic moments from my culture that fill me with pride is the fact that the Central University of Venezuela, which was designed by my grandfather, was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO back in 2000. At the time, only a few other works of modern architecture had received said mention, which is a fact that very few people know.
How did you find your path to success in real estate?
Hard work and consistency. People tend to think that this field is “easy money,” but there’s a lot more to it.
What values or elements of your heritage do you draw strength from in your work as an agent?
My fluency in Spanish has been a great asset, especially in Miami where there are so many Latin Americans. I’ve learned that even if they speak English, people always tend to feel more comfortable doing business in their native tongue.
What impact, if any, has your identity had on your experience in the real estate industry? Are there specific moments or episodes from over the years that illustrate that experience?
Having grown up in Latin America means I understand the culture and the way people live, thus allowing me to better understand and anticipate their needs when looking for a home. For example, it’s quite common for affluent Latin Americans to have live-in help, so for these buyers, overly-integrated spaces and a lack of staff-quarters are two deal-breakers when it comes to looking for a home. Knowing this allows me to edit the homes I bring to their attention by looking for homes that either have these features or where these features can be easily created if the home doesn’t offer them.
How do you think brokerages like Elliman can help foster greater diversity in the industry?
Create more bilingual assets and support. It’s not only for the agents but also for their Spanish-speaking clients.