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Votes

Realtors Reach Out to Hispanic Community

Helping immigrants to find American Dream and not ‘American Nightmare.’

The panel, from left: Patricia Castellanos, Sr. Loan Officer, WestStar Mortgage, Host Mario Rubio, owner of Rubio Real Estate, Mabel Zuleta, Realtor with Long&Foster, Springfield Office. Conducting a Spanish-language outreach program, the three spent over an hour discussing real estate topics and answering questions at the J&S Bakery and Deli in Springfield.

The panel, from left: Patricia Castellanos, Sr. Loan Officer, WestStar Mortgage, Host Mario Rubio, owner of Rubio Real Estate, Mabel Zuleta, Realtor with Long&Foster, Springfield Office. Conducting a Spanish-language outreach program, the three spent over an hour discussing real estate topics and answering questions at the J&S Bakery and Deli in Springfield. Photo by Andrea Worker

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Ramses Rubio and dad, Mario. Ramses. Rames will soon start 7th grade at the Congressional School of Virginia in Falls Church. He assisted by watching the sound levels as another volunteer videoed the event for uploading to the Mi Casa es Su Casa website.

Mario Rubio and his family came to the United States in 1979 from Peru in search of the American Dream. With a lot of hard work, he certainly found it. After serving in the US Army, he graduated from George Mason University, then began a career as a Real Estate agent, working for a number of the best known agencies in the area. Today, he owns his own company, Rubio Real Estate, in Annandale, serving Northern Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. He is also a member of the board of directors of the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors (NVAR). If all of that was not enough to keep him busy, he established the Rubio Foundation, a non-profit organization designed to educate the local Hispanic community about real estate issues and the process of home buying.

"There is still a lot of misinformation out there. And without the right information, people can get really hurt when making one of the biggest decisions of their lives. That’s why we are here today, trying to reach out into the community and give them help, information, resources," said Rubio.

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J&S Bakery and Deli owner Khaled Abourakty and employee Belinda Carcamo. Abourakty has owned the restaurant since 1995. He said he was pleased to offer his location for the real estate outreach "charla." "This place has become something of a community center, not just a place for coffee and a meal," said Abourakty.

THE "HERE" he referred to was the J & S Bakery & Deli on Commerce Street in Springfield, the setting for his latest real estate "charla" (which means "chat" in Spanish). Joining forces with NVAR’s "Ask Me!" Campaign, Rubio gathered a panel of experts and set up in the Deli for an hour-long presentation on real estate topics, taking questions from patrons, and recording the event to be available on his Mi Casa es Su Casa website.

NVAR demonstrated a strong show of support for the outreach efforts, with Pat Kline, Chairman of the NVAR Board of Directors, Christine Todd, CEO of NVAR, and Jill Parker Landsman, VP of Communications and Media Relations for NVAR all in attendance. Kline said, "This is a real time of opportunity in our market, for buyers and sellers. In many cases, it’s more expensive to rent than own in this area. Between a less than two-month supply of inventory and low interest rates, this may be a good time to sell, something not all buyers realize. Our Ask Me! Program provides information and tools to help buyers and sellers make informed decisions. We have forums for Hispanics, Koreans, Chinese, and others to make this information available to a much wider audience."

Speaking in Spanish, Rubio and his panel, Patricia Castellanos, Senior Loan Officer with WestStar Mortage, and Mabel Zuleta, a realtor with Long &Foster Realtors Springfield office, ran through the basics of home buying, explaining the differences between agents and loan officers, the duties of title companies, covering the documents typically required to successfully apply for a mortgage, and offering advice on how to avoid real estate pitfalls and scams. Armed with questions Rubio had gathered beforehand, he and the panel answered concerns about how to get back into the housing market, even after having lost property through shortfalls or foreclosures.

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From left, Jill Parker Landsman, VP, Communications and Media Relations with the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors (NVAR) and Christine Todd, CEO of NVAR listen to the panel's discussion of real estate issues.

After the presentation, Christine Todd, CEO of NVAR, also spoke to the issue of buyers who had lost homes or otherwise been negatively impacted as a result of the sub-prime mortgage meltdown. "The members of NVAR feel a special obligation to reach out and re-engage the Hispanic community into the real estate market. So many people who were English-as-second language were truly exploited during the last height of the real estate market. As a professional organization, we want to help them find the American Dream, not the American Nightmare so many of them went through."

Rubio will continue to hold his "charlas" throughout the area and look for other ways to educate.

THE SPANISH-LANGUAGE "J&S Presentation" can be found on the website www.micasaessucasa.us.com. On NVAR’s www.askmenvar.com, buyers or sellers can ask type in a question and an NVAR Ask Me! Ambassador will respond.