Diversity is our strength, and understanding is our goal.
As our nation becomes increasingly diverse, addressing the unique housing needs and challenges the Hispanic population faces can also be an investment in the well-being and prosperity of our communities.
To celebrate the Hispanic community and learn more about the significance of affordable housing, we sat down with Karent Plasencia. Karent stands as a dedicated individual within the realm of real estate, carrying the titles of COO, Broker Associate, and Partner at Sears Real Estate. Her roots have firmly taken hold in Northern Colorado, a place she has called home for most of her life. Witnessing the growth of this community, she remains humbled by its increasing density, diversity, and entrepreneurial spirit.
Her core beliefs are centered around giving back to the community that has nurtured her. Throughout her journey as a realtor, there exists no greater fulfillment for her than the privilege of playing a role in her clients’ journey towards achieving the quintessential American Dream – homeownership. Karent brings a holistic approach to improving economic stability, opportunities, and well-being, while likewise fostering community development, social equity, and cultural preservation.
Q: As a change maker yourself, where do you feel that you’ve had the greatest impact in your career, and what is the legacy that you’re hoping to leave?
A: My legacy is providing education on building wealth through real estate. Most of the folks I work with are generally first-time home buyers; many of them are the first in their family to own a home. It is impactful to have that opportunity to be a part of the journey to accomplish the American Dream and educate people to start with their first home. A first home may not be the one that someone dreams of, and it may not even be a long-term home, but getting started is the first step. Being a homeowner creates generational wealth and provides the opportunity of security to following generations.
The legacy I want to leave will stem from educating my children on being property owners so they can also pass that on for generations. With every turn of the key, you unlock the door to a place uniquely yours, a sanctuary where your dreams and memories take root and flourish.
Q: What are the main challenges that the Hispanic community faces in home ownership?
A: The main challenge we see right now regarding the Hispanic community is being priced out of the market. This means having the facilities to apply for a loan, get loans approved, and maintain monthly payments. The market right now has a high increase in housing prices, yet still low inventory with an increase in interest rates. Many individuals cannot take on those monthly mortgage payments. So, we have been looking for creative ways to help buyers and sellers.
There are hurdles to applying for a loan, such as lacking a social security number or residency. An ITIN loan, for example, generally has a 3% higher interest rate. We also work a lot with DACA loans, created for immigrants who came to the country as dreamers. They were brought to the United States at a young age and are looking to achieve the American dream, which includes being a homeowner. This can be challenging compared to non-Hispanic communities because many people do not qualify for two incomes or don’t have a co-signer to get approval for a loan.
Q: What are some best practices that you believe can increase affordable housing options?
A: There are opportunities for better down payment assistance programs to help with the loans. Our economic state creates barriers to qualifying for down payments and loans. There are opportunities to increase grant funding to aid individuals in their home ownership journeys. We need to be able to give builders the incentive to build affordable houses in our communities. In Northern Colorado, we are seeing more and more metro districts.
Another factor is zoning and looking at the communities that have been in cities for over a century. Showing older properties to clients incentivizes them to have larger lot sizes, potentially posing opportunities for another dwelling on their land, such as an Airbnb. We can better use the land that may otherwise be hard to maintain and create another revenue stream for those owners. Those are a few ideas I have had with different groups.
We must work together to provide housing counseling, financial education, and advocacy for fair housing practices.
"It is impactful to have that opportunity to be a part of the journey to accomplish the American Dream."
COO, Broker Associate, and Partner
Q: We want to further understand how housing access helps our communities thrive. We would love to hear one of your success stories if you are willing to share one of those with us.
A: When it comes to purchasing homes in areas that may not be as attractive as others, an entire community can benefit from just one homeowner being able to renovate their property. It causes a chain reaction. I have seen a whole family come together to purchase a home with cash. Two siblings and their partners put all their money forward to buy the home of their dreams. They were able to help one another as family members. When it comes to purchasing homes in areas that may not be as attractive as others, an entire community can benefit from just one homeowner being able to renovate their property. It causes a chain reaction. Their renovation inspired others in their community to also fix up their homes. Communities can evolve and find a sense of pride in properties they are proud of and maintain well. Like those siblings who came together to buy a home, anything is possible if you want something in life and are patient and genuinely strive for that goal.
Q: As a changemaker, what other experiences within our community have really stood out to you?
A: We have a wide range of diversity in our community. A memorable experience I had in the past was working with a buyer who was Spanish-speaking only; while the sellers spoke Burmese, French, and English. At the closing table, we had two translators helping us through the process. It was heartwarming to see these different backgrounds come together through the shared experience of exchanging the home.
Karent, thank you so much for taking the time to connect with us! We truly appreciate your time, your passion, and your heart.