When Flavio Jimenez was 16 years old, his father made a mistake that changed the trajectory of his life.
Moises Jimenez, trying to buy his first home after decades of work for a paltry salary, gave the real estate agent $ 5,000 in cash as a down payment. The elder Jimenez, who died in 2010, never saw the fraudster again and never owned his own home.
However, this episode did not stop Moises from instilling in his son the importance of home ownership.
More than 30 years later, Flavio Jimenez, firmly rooted in this knowledge, will try to spread his influence throughout the country, working in a newly created position at Fathom Realty, a company with a presence in 30 states.
“I remember well what happened to my father,” Jimenez said. “I also bought my first home in 1998, and three months later I found out from the bank that I had committed fraud because I had an FHS loan with no tax history because I had just moved to the United States. They prepared payroll receipts, bank statements and tax reports. “
According to him, the owner of Source Realty in Las Vegas, Jimenez will transfer all 20 agents working in his brokerage company to Fathom.
In his new position at Fathom – National Vice President for Latin American Market Development – Jimenez will work to expand the Latin American market for the company, but will also seek to raise awareness of the potential pitfalls of the home buying process and the benefits of home ownership.
“The idea for this came from many years ago,” Jimenez said. “For many years I have held seminars all over the country teaching people how to make money with real estate. Latinos in Las Vegas generally face the same challenges and pitfalls as Latinos in Houston or Chicago. We lack education and knowledge about our financial systems. ”
Jimenez said the broader Latin American community in the United States wants to fully participate in the country’s financial system, but hesitation remains in many quarters.
Jimenez said first- and second-generation Hispanics often distrust financial institutions, sometimes due to corruption in their countries of origin. They, like his father, tend to shop for cash and often want to meet people face to face and get to know them better.
Some of these preferences are at odds with a rapidly changing technological society in which young people often make all their money on smartphones.
Many Hispanics are being taken advantage of because they don’t understand financial instruments, Jimenez said. Because of this, they incur higher costs and more fees.
“If you take a white guy who wants to buy a house for $ 300,000 and a Hispanic who wants to buy the same house, the Hispanic will pay more,” Jimenez said. “The loan officer will give this Latin American buyer a higher interest rate. In addition, a Hispanic buyer will often have a lower credit rating because many in our community do not understand credit. People are being taken advantage of, and it is often Hispanics taking advantage of other Hispanics. “
This could mean that the Hispanic buyer will end up paying “tens of thousands of dollars” more over the life of the home loan, Jimenez said.
In part, Jimenez’s passion for financial literacy in the home ownership market stems from his belief that the Latin American market is a sleeping giant in America.
For example, the Institute of Urban Studies predicts that by 2040, about 70% of the country’s net homeownership growth will be Hispanic.
Jimenez’s job is to wake up the giant and help Fathom exploit this potentially powerful market share. While he is doing this, Jimenez will try to educate as many people as possible about real estate and the paths that can be created from home ownership.
“We recognize that there are many underserved communities in this country and it is good to see companies taking more targeted steps to address them,” Fathom CEO Joshua Harley said in a statement. “However, we believe that the Hispanic community is still rarely talked about in real estate.”
Hiring Jimenez for the newly created position in the country will help fill the gap, Harley said.
“Our industry must evolve in new and creative ways that remove barriers and meet the growing needs and demands of Latin American home buyers,” he said.
For now, Jimenez said he will remain headquartered in Las Vegas, although this may change over time due to possible travel requirements.
Regardless of where he lives – or who he works for, if anyone is – it’s doubtful the California native will ever stop defending the Hispanic community.
“I was lucky to go through all this because I found my calling,” Jimenez said. “I was born to do real estate.”
This story appeared in Las Vegas Weekly.