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An Effective Tool for Bilingual Real Estate

By Gloria Berman, CIPS, CRB, CRS®, president and owner of Trans Indies Realty & Investment Corp., San Juan, Puerto Rico

Bienes Raíces: An English-Spanish Real Estate Dictionary, Real Estate Education Co., 1995

If you work with Spanish-speaking clients and customers, Bienes Raíces: An English-Spanish Real Estate Dictionary is a worthy addition to your arsenal of resources. But it won’t replace the English-Spanish Real Estate Glossary, published by Texas A&M University, which is now used by instructors for the Certified International Property Specialist designation courses.

Bienes Raíces, which means “real estate,” is written for real estate practitioners. It’s well organized, and you’ll find it an effective tool, whether you’re fairly fluent in Spanish or know no Spanish. My favorite feature is a Spanish index at the end that helps you find the words in English.

Unfortunately, the new book isn’t comprehensive enough on its own to cover all the translations you’ll need to properly advise buyers and sellers and ensure they understand all the words and phrases we use in a normal transaction. Sometimes, for example, a literal translation isn’t enough. Buyers and sellers may want to know what as well as why. The Texas A&M glossary explains the importance of the words in many cases.

If you compare the two books’ lists of terms, you’ll find each has important words and phrases that are missing from the other. Starting with the A’s, for example, the new dictionary covers appraisal, but it doesn’t explain appraisal approach or adjustments for appraisal, as the glossary does. Bankruptcy is in the dictionary but not in the glossary.

Bienes Raíces isn’t a true dictionary at all. I’d classify it as an expanded glossary. Until a truly comprehensive dictionary becomes available—something our industry will need as our international business grows—I’d recommend you use both books to better serve Spanish-speaking clients and customers. Both books are useful, but neither stands alone.

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This post was contributed exclusively for REALTOR® Magazine.

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