St. Cloud realtor helps Somali clients navigate home-buying process
NS. CLOUD – Farhan Jibril grew up in St. Cloud and was first piqued for his interest in real estate when he met a professor in the real estate division of St. Cloud State University in his junior year.
Curious by nature, Jibril said he would soon be taking classes to learn more about property management, real estate, and commercial construction.
As the only Somali real estate agent in the St. Cloud area, his aim is to educate the Somali community about the property buying process and make home ownership easier for people who typically don’t know where to start.
For some of his clients, funding is one of the biggest challenges, he said.
In the Islamic faith, a loan is a charitable institution. Reba, which would require the borrower to repay more than the loan, is prohibited. For some, Reba only refers to undue interest, but for other Muslims the term encompasses any kind of interest.
That can make it difficult for many Muslims to buy houses with a typical mortgage from a traditional lender, Jibril said.
So he referred Muslim customers to a few Minneapolis-based companies that are among the few in the United States that offer financing services that are in keeping with Islamic traditions. It helps that the people who work there are also Somalis and can speak the same language as some of his clients, he said.
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“For me it’s one way I can help [those in] the Somali community that is now home buying for the first time, “said Jibril.” For me [as a real estate agent] it’s just a learning experience from here on. I learn from customers, I learn from every transaction, from every house. I can help my people. “
In addition to helping homebuyers, Jibril helps people in the community who want to start a business. Last month, Jibril was appointed to the St. Cloud Zoning Appellate Body, a position he wished to learn more about commercial zoning in the city and answer people’s questions, he said.
“I wanted to learn the details and depths that go into these meetings and the different things people want to split up and …” Jibril said. “For me it’s just something that interests and fascinates me. It’s a great opportunity to volunteer and participate in a city where I grew up. “
A mission to educate others
St. Cloud realtor Sharon Decker met Jibril in her early twenties while teaching a homebuyer seminar for the Somali community. She said his zeal and passion reminded her of herself when she got into the real estate business at 21. She has been his mentor since January.
“He wants to make a difference. He wants education. He has a good heart. There are real estate agents who really are out there just to put money in their pockets and they will just move on to the next transaction. ”She said. “This kid has two to three times the drive of some of the other kids I know.”
Since he speaks the same language and has a similar background as many of his customers, he has built trust with his customers, Decker said.
“Right now his main goal is to educate his community because many of them still don’t know that there are mortgage lenders that offer the kind of lending that is conducive to their religion and he has really dug a lot of information from a lot of people experienced in the community, “she said.” He’s really frustrated knowing that part of his community has been hugely exploited.
Many Somali families have never bought or owned a home and there are many things they don’t understand, such as what a mortgage is, what an appraisal or inspection is, Jibril said.
Often times, they are unfamiliar with U.S. lending systems or building good credit, making it difficult to buy real estate even if a family has the funds to make a down payment, he said.
Some of his customers don’t know what it takes to maintain and repair a Minnesota home – such as trimming the grass, controlling sprinkler systems, or repairing a stove.
Jibril said there are many benefits of home ownership that were previously unattainable. Single-family houses not only offer more space than typical apartments for larger families, but families who buy a house can build up equity and pass it on to their children or build up assets when they are sold.
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Help one house at a time
Abdikani Ahmed has eight children and was living in a four-room apartment with his wife when he met Jibril. For 10 people, life in the room was cramped and overcrowded. He said there was a small living room and no place for the children to play, either inside or outside.
Jibril told him he would try to help him buy a house “as soon as possible”. Now the family lives in a house in St. Cloud with a large back yard, welcomes neighbors, and Ahmed said he was even talking about creating a back yard swimming pool for his children to play with.
He credits Jibril’s help with the change and gives Jibril’s phone number to others he knows will also need a bigger home.
For Ibrahim Qabobe, father of two boys and a newborn girl, buying a house was something he had never considered before speaking with Jibril.
The two have known each other since Jibril was in middle school and worked together at Hormud, a Somali deli in Waite Park owned by Jibril’s uncle. Qabobe said Jibril was a creative thinker from a young age and always looked for ways to improve the conditions for people in the Somali community.
“I thought he was crazy when he was [would] say, ‘I want to do real estate.’ I thought it wasn’t a job for us or anything, you know? ”Said Qabobe. “But when he explained to me why you had to buy a house – you live in the area, you pay rent, right? You make someone rich and you don’t gain anything. ”
The family of five lives in an apartment in St. Cloud but worked with Jibril to find a new home.
Jibril offers free consultation for new homeowners, telling people not only the best time to buy but also what areas are good to live in, Qabobe said.
“People have a job [with] good pay, you have some money in your account, you can do it [this]but they are still afraid to buy a house because they think it’s too much, “he said.
Now “things are changing a lot” in the Somali community, Qabobe said.
“Since I’ve spoken to him, he’s been giving me a list of what to do before I buy a house. And I have this list, so I’ll check it out, ”said Qabobe. “I’m so excited that we might get our own house by the end of the year or sooner.”
Becca Most is a city reporter for the St. Cloud Times. You can reach them at 320-241-8213 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @becca_most.
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