Lost in Translation?

Mortgage and Lending

Most lenders these days have staff or access to translators to take loan applications for non English speakers. To avoid misunderstandings from the get-go ask: does the person working directly with your client actually understand lending? It's an important question due to the subtle issues which may be cultural or social for buyers who grew up in another culture. Find a bank who has a professionally trained lender who speaks the language of your buyers if possible. From my experience living overseas, I know that working with English speakers who grew up in other cultures may also have issues understanding our laws and consumer rights. It's perfectly fine to have a family member or trusted advisor assist. The point is to be clear and sure that your buyers are well informed of their rights and choices.

As a Homebuyer Education instructior, I arrived to a Saturday class to a waiting group of all Spanish speakers. No one had bothered to mention this in advance to me, so I was thankful their Realtor was present who also spoke fluent English. We had a very fun day having him translate the information and take a leading role. My old high school Latin studies came in handy as I was able to comprehend the gist of his message, and coach him on the material. At one point in the conversation, I asked him to inform the buyers how to 'hire a realtor' and also how to 'fire a realtor'. They seemed really amused by this information as in their culture it - it might never occur to them they could actually fire their realtor. I learned a lot that day, made friends and found a great Realtor I can now refer with confidence to my Spanish buyers. Thankfully I also have a native Spanish speaking Loan Coordinator in my office.

Hint: if you speak another language, let your lenders know you are available!

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Comments (2)

Susan Templeton
Bellingham, WA

The 'effective translation' concept becomes increasingly important with the new CFPB rules taking effect in january 2014. While the jist of the laws (Dodd/Frank) are designed too create more informed borrowers, most people find our lingo and many additional legal disclosures just ovewhelming. A trusted advisor is more appreciated than ever

Jan 02, 2014 02:18 AM
Susan Templeton
Bellingham, WA

I'll just add one footnote to this post: Just because you 'speak a language' does not mean you will be well understood, as I appreciate every day since I moved my business back to New Zealand. Even though I have lived here for over 12 years, it's easy to slip into industry lingo that is not understood here. I have all my copy edited by a 'real Kiwi' who reminds me what I'm missing for my New Zealand clients. We also have a lot of international immigrants for whom English is a second language so just taking time to let them ask for clarification is so very important. Fortunately, my USA clients appreciate a loan adviser who can translate such things back into 'American'.   

Sep 30, 2018 01:25 PM