The Hispanic community
Teresa Del Toro, a broker with Baird & Warner in Orland Park, got her start in real estate in the Midway neighborhood, which features a heavily Hispanic population. As the bilingual daughter of first-generation Chicago residents, she quickly carved out a niche among Spanish-speaking homebuyers. The Chicago metropolitan area has a Hispanic population of more than 2 million people, or about 21.8 percent of the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin region, according to Pew Research Center.
“I started picking up Spanish-speaking clients. In working with them and giving them the respect they deserve, earning their trust and showing them my loyalty towards them, they really appreciated that,” she says. “At that point, we started developing a good relationship and a good rapport because they felt that I was really honest with them and looking out for their best interests. From that point forward, my business just started growing from one client to the next.”
Approximately 70 percent of her clients speak only Spanish or primarily Spanish. As her business grew, Del Toro began cultivating a referral network of Spanish-speaking professionals in related fields, including lenders, attorneys and inspectors.
“When my clients need a recommendation, I have a group of Spanish-speaking professionals that I can refer them to who are able to speak Spanish, explain their role, and make the process of buying or selling a home more comfortable because it’s someone who speaks their language,” she says.
The referral network evolved organically as she met various professionals over the years, frequently referring those whom she felt could provide a high level of service to her clients.
“When I like the attention that these providers give the clients, I definitely refer business to them. It’s just a matter of knowing that there are people who offer the same level of service that I like to provide my clients with.”
While much of her business comes from repeat clients, she makes it clear in her advertisements that she is bilingual. She has also advocated for more Spanish-language documentation and promotional materials within Baird & Warner.
“I’ve let them know that the Hispanic market is here, it’s expanding, and we may want to consider putting some materials together in Spanish,” she says. “I do feel that it’s necessary for people who don’t speak English that they’re able to read and understand the documentation, whether it’s a market analysis in Spanish or materials that we provide such as disclosures.”