Elvia Gomez of Professional Realty Services International poses for a portrait Thursday, May 13, 2021, on Millenium Ave. in Moxee, Wash.

Elvia Gomez has worked in real estate for 14 years and is a real estate broker for Professional Realty Services. Gomez, 52, has been a Yakima Association of Realtors board member for three years.

In this month’s Checking In column, Gomez talks about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the value of being a bilingual real estate agent and why she encourages buyers, if they can, to wait when buying a home in today’s market.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your work in the last year?

My work was affected drastically. We had to adapt to new regulations enforced by our Realtors association and set by the government. When showing homes, we allowed only one person at a time. We used masks and gloves and avoided touching any areas or objects inside the house. No open houses were permitted, and in the office we were not allowed to be with more than one person at a time, and mask-wearing and office sanitation were consistently enforced.

The pandemic also allowed me to slow down in my busy lifestyle before the pandemic and evaluate what really matters in life.

What’s one thing in your work you’re proud of?

One of the things in my work that I am proud of is serving my Spanish-speaking community, representing their interests in the best way possible. I assist them by providing different options in buying and selling their homes and guidance in finding the right type of financing that meets their needs. It is also very significant that we speak the same language. I’m able to listen to their needs, answer their concerns, handle their transactions correctly and promptly, explain the importance of the home inspection and outline the process, the terms, the risk, etc.

If somebody does not connect with their clients and does not have their interests first, they end up not caring or showing compassion for customers when they make an important decision in their life. For me, this is more than a career. It is a passion of mine. I hope to keep these connections and be there when they need my service in the future. They must have their trust and faith in me that I will help them to the fullest extent.

What changes from the pandemic do you think will stick in the long term?

The main change in the real estate industry that I believe will stay after the pandemic is working remotely. Agents can now use technology to do many aspects of real estate, including meeting through Zoom, giving virtual tours, marketing properties through videos, signing contracts electronically and promotion through one’s online presence.

What’s your approach to working with buyers who are in a low-inventory market?

I ask buyers now if it is possible to wait until the supply and demand regain balance. We’re getting into dangerous ground where buyers are waiving their home inspections, appraisals and/or offering $20,000 to $50,000 or more above the asking price to get a house for their family. We’re inflating the value of the properties with the high demand.

Given the high percentage of Latino residents, a lot of potential home buyers are likely in this group. What do you feel are some of the distinct needs and characteristics of this segment of buyers?

Usually, in addition to immediate family, other relatives live in the same household to save money and reduce living expenses. It is common for Latino families to search for spacious homes where the whole family can be together.

What are some of the challenges and opportunities for those who work in the real estate industry?

The most challenging situation in the real estate industry right now is to overcome the housing shortage. There is a need for affordable housing. This is especially true here in the Yakima Valley, where many community members are people of color and work in the agriculture industry.

To supply the current housing demand, the government needs to expand its infrastructure. The county needs to create solutions; it needs to provide accessible and affordable housing developments for low- and medium-income families.

Right now, we can work remotely through the advantage of technology. This has allowed us to stay safe from the current pandemic and allow us to spend more time with our loved ones.