Recent Pew Center Research findings show that Asians and Hispanics are the two largest immigrant groups in the U.S. and, for the first time, that non-Hispanic whites account for a minority of births. Your next wave of remodeling clients may have very different ideas about what makes a house a home.
Fernando Pages Ruiz, who develops, builds, and remodels homes for people from a variety of cultures, does his “field research” by visiting ethnic neighborhoods and talking with people in restaurants and other public places. He asks what they like or dislike about their homes and speaks with real estate agents about what sells. Over the years he has made the following discoveries:
- Segregated spaces: Traditional Muslims value separate areas for men and women to congregate. Latinos may want courtyards. As Ruiz puts it, “People want to feel at home, at home.”
- Open floor plans: Many cultures don’t want guests to be part of the cooking process; nor do they want cooking smells in the home. Use French doors to separate, or wall the kitchen and vent the rangehood to the outside.
- Backyards: In many cultures, the roof — not a yard — is the outdoor place.
- Products: “Mix and match [appliances at various price points] to create a suite of products that work for specific cultures,” Ruiz says.
Beware of generalizing, Ruiz cautions, because “people get defensive when you pigeonhole and categorize them.” Get to know what particular ethnic groups — and individuals — in your market need and want. —Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.
More REMODELING artickes about working with different ethnicities:
World of Difference: Tips on marketing to diverse cultures
Are You Culturally Aware? The face of hte remodeling customer is rapidly changing. Are you prepared?
Growing Needs: In-law suite solves multi-generational housing needs