CARLOS MARTÍNEZ VELÁZQUEZ

Mexico 2020 | REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | INTERVIEW

As the largest financial institution operating in the real estate sector in Latin America, Infonavit works with highly innovative companies to better serve the needs of its 5.5 million clients.

Carlos Martínez Velázquez
BIOGRAPHY

Carlos Martínez Velázquez has a degree in political science from ITAM. He is an expert in political economy and the protection of consumer rights. He has overseen a wide range of public sector roles in the Secretary of Economy and Presidency. He has been Director General of Infonavit since 2018.

How is the pandemic affecting the real estate sector in Mexico?
The majority of companies in the housing sector construct small projects and do not have access to finance. As the largest financial institution operating in the real estate sector in Latin America, we like working with highly innovative companies. The pandemic has created two main problems. First, since people are in lockdown, those who are interested in looking for a house are not able to do so. That generates a demand problem. As a result, a number of construction projects have been put on hold. If we can reactivate the economy by June, it is possible to balance supply and demand again. We are trying to process mortgage loans despite the pandemic. We are open to mortgage requests. Our focus during the health emergency is showing the other face of Infonavit. We provide seven out of 10 loans in Mexico, and we protect private workers. For example, we are offering a three-month moratorium to clients whose salaries took a hit. In addition, we have deferred some mandatory payments that companies have to make to Infonavit. By the end of May, and especially in June and July, we expect the real estate sector to soar, and people will start to seek new loans.

What factors will help the sector to recover in June?
People have to return to their jobs because that is the only way to boost consumption. Infonavit is linked to the working cycle. Our service is for people working in the formal sector, so we cannot help those workers who get paid under the table.

How are you adjusting your 2020 targets?
We have not adjusted our goals. Our goal was to award 500,000 loans, and we expect to achieve that because we are launching new financial services. We think that a lot of people will need cash to acquire houses, which is why we are increasing our cash flow to award mortgage loans. We have a product that can help people refurbish their homes. We are also planning to launch a new financing line in August. In Guanajuato or Michoacán, some families own large plots of land, and we can help them develop their land through our loans. Our new financial services will diversify our portfolio. That is why we are maintaining the same goal, but we are reviewing the distribution of our portfolio.

How do you seek to unite loans from different individuals to finance common projects?
In February 2020, we launched a product named Let's Unite Credits, which allows us to unite different loans from different people. With this new product, couples, friends, or relatives can unite their loans to then acquire a larger house. In addition, there are cases in which unmarried couples who live together cannot acquire loans. We are trying to cater to such clients through our products. In Mexico, rules for the construction sector vary from municipality to municipality. As a result, some cities still have outdated laws. Municipalities should cut red tape and make the entire process more flexible.

What can be done to make the process more flexible?
The government established the Secretariat of Agrarian, Territorial, and Urban Development in 2013 for this purpose. We are helping the government implement the National Housing Program. We have been able to start conversations with municipalities, but there are 2,500 municipalities in Mexico, which means that there are 2,500 different construction regulations.

What are your goals for 2020 and beyond?
One goal is to award 3 million mortgage loans to solve the existing housing deficit. We need to provide access to new homes for individuals. We have 5.5 million clients, and last year we awarded around a million credits. Some of them are old credits, which were awarded under disadvantageous conditions for the families. We have to provide loans that are adjusted to the reality of Mexican society and that are sustainable in the long term.