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.
Olga Lavalle and Maria Garate-Lavalle, California Real Estate Agents
How do you prefer to identify yourself within the umbrella of “Hispanic Heritage”?
We identify ourselves as Mexican women.
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?
We are very proud of our culture and our family traditions. Some of our favorite traditions are in line with our favorite times of the year and food. For example, during the month of September, we celebrate Mexican Independence Day (September 16th) by eating chiles en nogada, which are not only delicious but also the colors of the Mexican flag. We also love Day of the Dead, where we celebrate our loved ones who have passed by setting up beautiful altars at home and eat pan de muerto. Another favorite tradition is celebrating Three Kings Day, when we eat rosca de reyes, the sweet bread with a baby Jesus figurine baked inside—a sign of good luck for those who find it in their piece!
How did you find your path to success in real estate?
We are second- and third-generation realtors and have created a strong sense of community through transacting with people we have known for generations!
What values or elements of your heritage do you draw strength from in your work as an agent?
Strong family values, service and hard work.
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?
We are blessed to continue working with people from Mexico and to speak our native tongue.
What would you like your industry colleagues to understand about your experience and what can they do to be better allies of your community?
Visit Mexico! It is a beautiful country which has unfortunately gotten a bad reputation. Visiting and keeping Mexico strong with tourism will allow people to see how amazing the people, food, places and culture really are.
How do you think brokerages like Elliman can help foster greater diversity in the industry?
Douglas Elliman is one of the most inclusive brokerages. All brokerages can continue to open themselves and be welcoming.