Hometown Hero: Sussy DeLeon

Path finder

August 1, 2003

Sussy (pronounced Susie) DeLeon, broker-owner of RE/MAX New Horizons in Providence, R.I., knows firsthand the challenges of buying a home in the United States as an immigrant with limited funds. DeLeon emigrated from Guatemala to the U.S. in 1992 to be with family. To save enough to purchase her first home in 1996, she worked in turn as a receptionist, interpreter, and car salesperson.

The experience gave her special empathy for the immigrant families she began working with when she became a real estate associate in 1997. So DeLeon’s made it her goal to help them reach their homeownership dreams. Through community seminars, a newspaper column, and a radio show, she educates prospective buyers on everything from creating and fixing credit to finding low-interest home loans and downpayment assistance programs. For those who have the downpayment money but not the income for a single-family mortgage, DeLeon finds multifamily dwellings, where the rental income helps offset the mortgage cost.

For her work in helping immigrant and minority families become homeowners, DeLeon’s been named a Hometown Hero by NAR President Cathy Whatley.

DeLeon was so successful that in 2001 she bought an existing franchise. To better serve her multicultural clientele, she’s affiliated salespeople who speak many of the languages used in her market, such as French, Nigerian, and Spanish.

DeLeon’s always looking for new ways to smooth immigrants’ path to ownership. Recently, she asked the Rhode Island Association of REALTORS® to translate contracts, disclosures, and other key documents into Spanish, something the association is now working on. She estimates she’s helped at least 500 families buy homes and educated hundreds more. “I’m amazed at how these people trust me. I have a big responsibility to them,” she says. “But they’ve helped me, too, to grow and get better at what I do.”

The work’s financially rewarding as well. DeLeon, a selling broker, closed almost $9 million in sales in 2002.

Dossier: Sussy DeLeon

RE/MAX New Horizons, Providence, R.I.

E-mail sussydeleon@remax.net
Claim to fame Helps immigrant and minority families buy homes by educating them about low-interest loans and downpayment programs.
Also serves as Treasurer for the Childhood Lead Action Project, which educates homeowners about lead-based paint, and a board member of the Greater Providence Board of REALTORS® and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Lately She’s hiring more immigrant salespeople to expand her market.

Leslie Cummings is a former REALTOR® Magazine senior editor.

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