“It’s impossible in our mind to be an effective Latino brand without having a relatively heavy concentration in the state of California,” said CEO Robb Heering. “Clearly the L.A. area is No. 1.” Heering hopes to sell more than 100 franchises, which cost $12,500 each, in the Golden State. The deflating housing market won’t hurt the business because most of the clients will be buyers, Heering said. That Casa Latino would come to the Valley doesn’t surprise Bruce Ackerman, president of the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley, a nonprofit development and marketing agency in Sherman Oaks. “I think you’re going to see lots more diversification of what you and I would call mainstream businesses,” including those that cater to non-English speakers, Ackerman said after hearing Casa Latino planned to come into the state. But when Casa Latino franchises open in the Valley they will have competition, said Jim Link, executive vice president of the Southland Association of Realtors. “There are a number of Realtors and real estate firms that are active in the Latino market that speak Spanish and work very closely with the Latino community,” Link said. But Heering, who is not Latino but traces his lineage to Argentina, argues serving Latino clients is not as simple as speaking the language. “It’s not a bilingual thing,” he said. “It’s a bicultural issue we are dealing with.” Heering started Casa Latino in Connecticut after his Spanish-speaking mortgage clients complained that the real estate agents he referred them to were insensitive. The agents didn’t understand them, pushed them to buy more than they could afford, and would bristle at the idea of having extended family check out a property before buying. In 2005, he started Casa Latino, and, in November, began selling franchises. His target clientele is the largest minority in the country, he said. “There will be more Hispanics (in California) than non-Hispanics in our lifetime.” [email protected] (818) 713-3735160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! A national real estate chain that caters to Spanish speakers announced this week that it plans to open franchises in California. Casa Latino aims to join the ranks of businesses here that are geared toward Latinos but have mainstream appeal, like media outlet Univision, Vallarta supermarkets, and La Curacao department stores. Casa Latino already has eight real estate offices in Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Connecticut and North Carolina. All its brokers are bilingual. The San Fernando Valley and greater Los Angeles are key markets for the company. About one in three people shopping for a home in the Valley is Latino, according to Raquel Magro, a longtime agent for Pinnacle Estate Properties in Northridge.