Over the holiday weekend, agent Irma Soltero-Sparks of CENTURY 21 C. Watson in Fresno, CA was honored with the Bette Dobkin Award from the California Association of Realtors. The award celebrates the passion of being a realtor helping families achieve affordable and sustainable homeownership through the Housing Affordability Fund.
We sat down with Irma to hear more about her career in real estate, her involvement with the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), and how she feels about being recognized in this way by her statewide association.
How did you first get involved in real estate?
I had a successful housecleaning business for 15 years and had decided I wanted to change careers so I began my search in our local newspaper. I saw an ad that read Career Night which intrigued me. I figured I’d be taking an aptitude test for job placement I honestly did not know that CENTURY 21 was a real estate company. I almost walked out when they started talking about real estate, but couldn’t because I was sitting at the front of the room so I decided to stay. Before the evening was over I was convinced, so I borrowed money the very next day to take the real estate course.
When did you join the CENTURY 21 System?
In 1997 when I passed the California real estate exam. I’ve chosen to stay with my CENTURY 21 family for 16 years.
Do you have a current area of specialty in real estate or in a specific market?
The past several years I’ve dedicated my real estate career to short sales, in which most clients were first time homeowners and non-English speaking. Serving the underserved has been a passion of mine for many years as my parents had a very similar experience. Because of our family size and our culture, it was difficult to rent, so my parents chose to buy a home, which is still in our family.
You were recently named to the NAHREP Top 250 list. How do you feel about that accomplishment?
I’m thrilled because this award reflects the many families that didn’t lose their homes to foreclosure and were able to successfully close on their short sales based on their personal hardship. As a NAHREP member the benefits are many. The education provided to us and the opportunity to meet with major bank representatives at local and national level enabled me to empower the Latino consumer with homeownership retention or foreclosure options.
What do you think is the biggest opportunity for Hispanic homebuyers in the coming year?
With the increase of Spanish speaking realtors across the country, I believe most Hispanic homebuyers will be given better counsel. That coupled with continued low interest rates and affordable home prices will have a huge impact on the Latino homebuyer. The fact that we are a growing population with our younger-aged adults seeking higher education and higher paying jobs will also give Latinos a better edge on buying homes for the first time for themselves and their parents.
This past Friday you were honored with the Bette Dobkin Award. Tell us what the award celebrates and how the winner is selected.
The Bette Dobkin award celebrates the passion of being a Realtor helping families achieve affordable and sustainable homeownership through the Housing Affordability Fund. The California Association of Realtors selects a recipient from nominees from local associations across the state. Bette Dobkin was a realtor in Humbloldt County for 33 years who was instrumental in helping distressed families with achieving homeownership through The Housing Affordability Fund. Bette Dobkin lost her battle with cancer in 2008. Her efforts and achievements will not be forgotten.
How was the awards ceremony?
The event went really well. I felt like a princess. The Fresno Association of Realtors provided accommodations and my room was on the 11th floor overlooking the beach. It was a very special occasion for me and my family. John Carey Sr., my broker, attended the event along with his family. He totally surprised me. I had no idea he was coming! I was so surprised to see him that I instantly broke out in a sweat! It’s the small things in life that make it worth living.
Congratulations again, Irma. For those interested in working with you, what is the best way for them to reach out to you?
My cell phone is always the best (559)270-8331 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.