ROSTRO EN LA COMMUNIDAD • FACE IN THE CROWD

Claudia Laubach

By Scott Campbell, Photography by Jadrian Klinger

Hershey Realtor Benefits Region’s Hispanic Home Buyers

Although the real estate market fluctuates with the general economy of the country, some analysts have predicted that Hispanics will make up half of new home buyers nationwide by 2020. Observers have stated that, with their birth rate and increasing purchasing power, Hispanics are expected to be a force in the real estate market in coming years.

Immersed in this activity on a daily basis is Claudia Laubach. The 46-year-old Annville woman is a realtor for Berkshire Hathaway Home Sale Realty in Hershey. A Mexican native, Laubach’s bilingual skill makes her a valuable asset to the company when dealing with Spanish-speaking clients. Her territory extends from Carlisle to Lancaster.

Claudia Cardenas was born in Mexico City. She worked as division manager of private banking for Bancomer, the largest bank in Mexico, when she met her future spouse, George Laubach.

“He was in Mexico at the time working for Tyco Electronics,” she recalls. “We were married in 1998 and then came to the United States. I didn’t work for the next three years, taking time to adjust to a new culture and to better learn the English language.”

When she first started working, she began a three-year stint with Citizens Bank in Hershey as a branch manager. While in that capacity, she began taking real estate classes to earn a license.              “Liz Wille was the woman who sold us our home in Annville, and I kept in touch with her,” explains Laubach. “With my banking background, especially my knowledge of mortgages, Liz encouraged me to consider a career in real estate.”

Laubach completed classes in 2004 and was employed by Coldwell Banker (now Berkshire Hathaway) HomeSale Realty. Last year, she and Wille teamed up to provide “the most comprehensive customer service through honesty, reliability and professionalism.”            Laubach’s Hispanic clients come to her in several ways.

“Like all agents, I find them or they find me. But, they are also referred to me by other agents and through networking activities,” she says. “For example, I associate with a group of Hispanic women who meet on a regular basis in our homes for pot luck meals and social time. That activity has produced clients. And, our company’s ‘habla español’ promotion is welcomed in the Hispanic community.”

Living 17 years in the United States has allowed Laubach to learn the nuances of English, a boon to her Hispanic clients. “The language barrier can be a real problem for them,” she says. “Because of that, many are hesitant about using the services of a realtor and can end up becoming victims of predatory lenders.”

The Commonwealth now requires the real estate industry to have all forms and documents in Spanish, which alleviates some distress. Nevertheless, Laubach continues to offer assistance and guidance. This includes comparable market analysis, personal market plan, document preparation, negotiations, search for financing options, coordination of inspections, appraisals, title work and settlement.

Some of Laubach’s Latin clientele are low-income. Many work in the services industries or manufacturing.

“As a result, they obtain long-term mortgages,” she says. “They have lower credit scores and absorb more fees.”      But, she sees change.

 

“The Millennials are more educated, motivated,

integrated and successful.”

 

In the Capital region, Laubach knows of no Hispanic-owned home construction companies. “But, they employ many Hispanics,” she notes. “And, after learning the trade, those employees frequently establish their own businesses in home remodeling, drywall, roofing, plumbing, landscaping and so on.”

Although an American citizen, Laubach still values her heritage. “Our youngest daughter was the only student of Mexican descent in her high school. I didn’t want her to lose the language, so when we talked to each other, I required her to speak Spanish. Then my mother-in-law taught her Pennsylvania Dutch!”

Beyond her duties as a realtor, Laubach joins her Berkshire Hathaway colleagues as a participant in The Sunshine Kids Charity and Habitat for Humanity. Otherwise, she enjoys travel and spending time with her family.

 

Staff Writer

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