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2013 Emerging Markets Homeownership Initiative & Fair Housing Summit

IMG_2845Realtors, lenders and other housing professionals braved the frigid temperatures Wednesday to get to the University of Minnesota campus in St. Paul yesterday. They weren’t there to attend class at the university, but they were there to learn. This was the site of the 2013 Emerging Markets Homeownership Initiative (EMHI) and Fair Housing Summit. Those in attendance came to gain a better understanding of how diversity and cultural understanding play a key role in the world of real estate.


The summit kicked off with a welcome from Julie Gugin, Executive Director of the Minnesota Homeownership Center who gave a rundown of the day’s scheduled events and thanked the crowd for taking the time to become better educated by taking part in the summit. The floor was then given to RNR Realty International’s broker, Nene Matey-Keke, the Vice Chair of the Diversity Committee of Minnesota Association of REALTORS® (MNAR). Matey-Keke offered an introduction to Christine Berger, Vice President of Governmental Relations at MNAR.


The first speaker of the day was the keynote speaker for the event, Dr. Mai Moua of Hmong American Partnership. Moua focused on how our own unique culture and history shape how we view the world. A sketch of two (or three to some) figures was presented as part of an activity. The audience interpreted the sketch in different ways and the activity showed how a single image could be seen in drastically different ways based on an individual’s cultural frame. Moua spoke about highlighting three basic questions: What am I seeing? What am I not seeing? And what are the possibilities? She explained how asking these questions should be used in our everyday lives to look at the often-unnoticed cultural influences on our thoughts and actions towards others.


The summit also featured three rapid learning sessions related to working with emerging markets. The three sessions offered education on how to deal with predatory lending, the Federal Housing Administration’s new “Back to Work” Program and Minnesota Housing loan options, entry costs and down payments. Attendees were offered a crash course on each of the topics and given information on how to learn more about each subject.


Past President of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, Jerry Ascencio was also asked to speak at this year’s summit. Ascencio spoke about his personal connection to the real estate industry and told stories of growing up in California after moving from Mexico. He talked about the fact that his father never bought real estate based on “basic financial illiteracy” and misconceptions of purchasing real estate in the US. Ascencio related this story to the idea that realtors, lenders and housing professionals can work to educate those new or unfamiliar to the system. He then spoke about how one of the first goals as a real estate professional was to get his parents into a home they could proudly call their own.  Ascencio also expressed how home ownership in the US is a common goal that spans across all cultures, one that offers stability and security, especially to those moving from outside the US.


The summit concluded with a breakout session where people were encouraged to attend one of three classes or their choosing. The classes offered covered the topics of understanding home ownership disparities among racial and ethnic groups, the best and worst fair housing cases and a class on fair housing continuing education credit.

With an extensive agenda featuring knowledgeable presenters, the 2013 EMHI & Fair Housing Summit proved to be time well spent for those seeking to learn more about working with diverse groups and different cultures seeking to become home owners in today’s real estate market.