The Situation Even as many homeowners decide to postpone big remodeling jobs, minority and immigrant home buyers “still want to buy, but for totally different reasons,” says Michael Lee, a marketing consultant with EthnoConnect.

Background Minorities and immigrants make up 40% of first-time home buyers, according to the National Association of Realtors. With no real estate gains to boost their buying power, they tend to buy fixer-uppers that require attention, such as having leaky roofs and nonfunctioning kitchens.

Despite their limited buying power, homeownership is “an all-consuming goal” for many immigrants, Lee says. Homes are prohibitively expensive in much of the world, and “it's possible that nobody in their family has ever owned a home. It's the ultimate status symbol to own an American home.”

The Solution Educate and give options. “The more you explain the remodeling process, the more they will trust you,” Lee says. Simply saying, “Trust me,” is a common but costly mistake.

Help them understand their financing options. They may not be able to take out a home equity loan, so explain how your company or a lender can help them finance the project. Do not ask for their budget or down payment amount. “That's putting a gun to their head,” Lee says. He notes that many immigrants keep large sums of cash in their homes, and home invasion robberies are common in immigrant communities.

Do give them a menu of options. Create a matrix with a good, better, best approach to their remodeling goals, along with a budget range for each. If they show interest in one, provide more information. If they don't respond to any of your options, ask if they had something different in mind. They want to buy, Lee says, and you can help them feel in charge of their decision.

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