As the Hispanic demographic grows in sheer size and strength, builders are taking greater notice of the segment's economic potential. However, Ryland Homes is the first builder to go after the Spanish-language demographic by forming a national partnership with the No. 1 Hispanic network—Univision.

In January, the builder inked a deal with Univision to participate in “Tu Dinero Con Julie Stav,” the network's popular financial radio show. The show, hosted by licensed stockbroker and Cuban-American financial guru Julie Stav, reaches more than 1.2 million listeners a month.

Eric Elder, Ryland's senior vice president of marketing and communications, sees the deal as a natural match. “The Hispanic segment is expected to make up 40 percent of home buyers for the next 20 years,” Elder says. “That's something we can't ignore.”

Ryland doesn't plan for this endeavor to just start off with a bang. The deal, which Elder says cost in the “multimillion dollar” range, is part of the builder's long-term plan. “This is not just an outreach program,” Elder says. “It's a permanent marketing strategy.”

The partnership is the first of its kind in the home building industry. Ryland will participate in weekly eight-minute segments, which address questions about homeownership. Topics will range from how to save for a new home to how to finance it to how to select a new home and builder.

“Julie Stav is a very powerful force in empowering Hispanics to take financial control of their lives,” Elder says. Stav also is considered the Hispanic equivalent of financial pundit and TV personality Suze Orman.

Ryland will advertise on Univision stations in 14 key markets and participate in articles on homeownership in Tu Dinero, a Spanish-language personal finance magazine. Univision markets Ryland's segments on Stav's show in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, California's Inland Empire, Dallas, Fort Myers, Las Vegas, Houston, San Antonio, San Diego, and Washington, D.C. All of these markets boast sizable—and still growing—Hispanic populations.

As part of its strategy to better serve Latino buyers, Ryland also launched a number of internal initiatives. In 14 Ryland markets—including Phoenix, Orlando, and Houston—a Spanish-speaking consejero (counselor/new home adviser) will be a phone call or short drive away to assist home buyers with their home searches and purchase processes.

Ryland Mortgage Co. also has Spanish-speaking representatives available during business hours to help buyers with questions regarding qualification, financing options, and other mortgage-related terms. Elder explains that the builder also maintains a call center staffed with bilingual employees who answer questions relating to buying a home. The builder also offers important materials in Spanish, such as sales, mortgage, warranty, and insurance brochures as well as a Spanish-only version of its Web site (

The builder's goal is to have Spanish-speaking representatives available by the end of 2006 at all of its communities in markets with more than 25 percent Spanish-speaking buyers. “We have the infrastructure to back up our efforts to reach the Hispanic demographic,” Elder says. “We get them to the end [of the home buying process].”