In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we reached out to prominent Hispanic leaders in the housing and mortgage industry to celebrate their success, learn from their experience and gain insight into the challenges facing the mortgage industry. This year, we’re happy to share a Q&A with Caliber Home Loans Area Manager Hipolito “Hip” Garcia.
Hipolito, you’re very well recognized and highly regarded in the mortgage world through your dedication to your community and your involvement with the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP). Can you tell me how diversity plays an important role in the success of a business or organization?
Diversity in a company creates a bigger pull of talent with a happier work environment. We live in a country that is connected to other economies around the world. It would only seem obvious for a company to view and understand the needs of markets through a diverse workforce much better than a company with no diversity. I like to use this example: I am a creative collaborator and consider myself a person with creative ideas, but I become stagnant if I do not have different thinkers in the room who would help make me better. A business will become stagnant and even obsolete without different thinkers in the room, especially at the executive levels.
In 2019 you were the president of NAHREP Chicago and your chapter earned significant recognition for its achievements. What were some of the factors that helped lead your chapter to those victories?
The people. We had a hardworking and enthusiastic team. Nothing would have been accomplished without them. Strategically as I helped recruit the 2 prior years, I wanted people with an open mindset – thinkers and doers. And most important, people who cared about our mission and who would fit as part of our family. I am beyond grateful for the 2019 Board of Directors.
Connecting with the community one lives in and serves is very important for a successful business. In your opinion, what are some of the things lenders should keep in mind when tapping into a new set of demographics?
They need to understand the demographics and culture first and not just assume. They must understand the key players and the people in that community. They need to have the “help the people first, before profit” mindset. If genuinely done for the right reasons, the profits will follow.
The Latino homeownership rate reached 48.4% in 2021. This rate has steadily increased every year since 2014, and it’s projected to reach 50% by 2025. What would you say is the best way for lenders to go about tapping into this emerging opportunity?
If you have not been paying attention for years, the rate has been steadily increasing and many lenders are far behind. The best way I like to put it is to have a workforce that helps understand the opportunity. If the population of the US is approximately 18% Latino, it is time every level of the company – including the executive levels – and every department resemble the population. Latinos are also the driving force behind the housing market and if you want to help the economy by tapping into this market, you will have to diversify.
You have your own podcast called “The Latinx Chronicles,” where you share the success stories of other Latinos in the Chicago area and beyond. What prompted you to start this podcast?
Ha, the credit for this goes to my good friend Erika Villegas. We always talked about the shortage of Latinos in boardrooms, so one day she said, "Why don’t we share stories from regular people who inspire and motivate, and maybe those rooms will look different someday." My response was quick and easy: “Let’s GO.” We purposely have kept the podcast not real estate-related because we wanted to attract a broader audience.
Switching gears: MGIC is excited to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month alongside Hispanic professionals in the mortgage industry. Can you tell us a little about your background and how it played a role in your professional career?
I am Puerto Rican, born in Chicago in Bucktown and raised in Logan Square. Growing up I was not exposed to building generational wealth and although my father owned a 2-flat in the city, I never thought about the importance of homeownership. My parents came from Puerto Rico with little education, so I was only taught what they knew. However, not being taught was not an excuse. It created a curiosity that has helped me grow into what I am today.
What would you say is your fondest memory that ties into your Hispanic roots?
Parrandas. It is the Puerto Rican version of caroling. It was amazing to see my mother’s and father’s faces full of joy when family and friends would show up unannounced with music. It fed the soul!
To wrap things up, what are your goals either professionally or personally over the next 10 years?
To continue to grow, serve, help, coach and mentor others until I semi-retire. Earn my way into an executive suite position, but NOT through D&I or a D&I position. I have my own opinion around that. Honestly, I have many more goals, some of which I have accomplished thus far, but to sum it up, these new goals will allow me to continue growing professionally and personally, never settling for less while also building wealth for my family.
The opinions and insights expressed in this Q&A are solely those of its interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of either Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation or any of its parent, affiliates, or subsidiaries (collectively, “MGIC”). Neither MGIC nor any of its officers, directors, employees or agents makes any representations or warranties of any kind regarding the soundness, reliability, accuracy or completeness of any opinion, insight, recommendation, data, or other information contained in this blog, or its suitability for any intended purpose.