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Highly Anticipated Black Housing Summit Begins This Week in Birmingham, AL

Family standing outside their house

By Keisa Sharpe-Jefferson

The Birmingham Times

The National Association of Real Estate Brokers Inc. (NAREB) Black Housing Summit will be held in Birmingham this week from November 8 through 11.

The Washington, D.C.-based NAREB is sponsoring a Building Black Wealth Tour aimed at raising awareness about ways to make home ownership more easily attainable for African Americans, who still significantly lag behind financing to purchase homes.

“Once you understand the power of [real estate], it’s important that you let other people take advantage of it,” said Courtney Johnson-Rose, president of NAREB.

NAREB, the oldest minority trade association in the country with more than 115 chapters, on Thursday, November 9, will release the annual State of Housing in Black America at Miles College.

Over the next two years, NAREB will hold events in more than 100 cities and share steps to accumulate wealth, increase home ownership, and invest in real estate. Partners include the African American Mayors Association and the National Bar Association.

The Housing Summit in Birmingham kicks off on November 8 with a Welcome Reception at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, followed by the Housing Report at Miles College on November 9, and culminates with a Community Wealth Building Day on November 11 at New Rising Star Baptist Church, The Star, located at 7400 London Ave.

If you’re interested in attending, you can register here.

Financial Leverage

Now is the time for African Americans to invest in real estate, especially since data shows that nearly 75 percent of whites own property while only 45 percent of African Americans do, said Rose.

“We have a lot of things taking us away from real estate—high interest rates, high pricing on homes, inflation,” she added. “So, we’re trying to inspire our community toward real estate. That’s the number-one goal of the tour.”

Home ownership equates to financial leverage and is an outstanding investment that pays dividends, said the NAREB president. For example, she said, “You cannot put a price tag on if something happens to one of your sick parents, but now you have resources to take care of them thanks to owning a home; or if your kid is ready to go to college and you’re trying to figure out where the money is coming from, and you have equity in your home [to use for their expenses]; or having a property that you can leave to your children and grandchildren.”

Members of NAREB are known as Realtists, and Rose would like to position these professionals as the trusted leaders in their respective communities for buying and selling homes.

Justin Williams serves as president of the Birmingham Realtist Association, a local chapter of NAREB, which has 125 members. Williams, chief executive officer of Just-In-Time Realty Group/Keller Williams Realty, describes the national organization as “the premiere network of Black real estate professionals dedicated to helping eradicate discriminatory housing practices.”

A Closer Look

Courtney Johnson Rose, president, National Association of Real Estate Brokers, Inc.

Those who attend the Building Black Wealth Tour will learn about topics, such as “homeownership, credit, preserving real estate, and financial wealth building,” Rose said.

If they qualify, potential homebuyers will be able to get pre-approved on the spot at the Building Black Wealth Tour on November 11 at The Star. If they aren’t approved, Rose said they will leave knowing the next steps to get pre-approved sooner rather than later.

“Knowing that 48 percent of African Americans who apply for a mortgage will not get approved, we are still asking people to come out and apply for a loan to know where they stand,” she added.

One thing that keeps many African Americans away from home ownership is a fear of the process as a whole, said Rose.

“We can create an environment, and NAREB can do this better than anyone else. … It’s a welcoming environment. We will have the local radio station [at the Building Black Wealth Tour] with the music going and the smell of popcorn and cotton candy, along with community leaders.”

That environment is one where African American buyers feel more comfortable because they see real estate agents, mortgage officers, and other industry leaders who look like them.

“[Industry professionals] want to be able to talk about your challenges in an environment in which you feel comfortable, and [NAREB] specializes in curating this experience,” said Rose. “If someone can’t get approved that day, we tell them why not. We say these are the things to work on and come back and see me in six months. We’re not going to tell you no without a reason.”

It is important for buyers to understand that this is a journey, she added.

“It’s not always a slam dunk, but it’s worth it,” said Rose. “It’s worth the time. It’s worth the sacrifice. … It’s worth it if it takes one try, two tries, or three tries.”

It’s important to teach the value of real estate, and not just what it does for today but what it does for tomorrow in our communities, she said.

Simple Economics

The math isn’t hard to understand when it comes to renting versus owning a home. Some people focus on numbers, which don’t quite show the full story, Rose explained: “We have to be able to constantly say as realtors, no matter when you buy, no matter what’s going in the economy, rent is 100 percent interest rate. Whether you pay 4 percent or 7 percent when you buy your home, you just beat 100 percent.”

“We tell people to marry the home and date the [interest] rate,” she added. “Simply put, when purchasing your home, recognize that your interest can always change and, like dating, you can change out the rate at any time by getting refinanced. Don’t let the rates stop you. Don’t the internet stop you. Don’t let the media stop you. Time is passing.”

A Family Affair

Rose, 45, has a background in real estate and said it’s in her blood. “I’ve had the honor of being in real estate for the past 23 years,” she said. “I’ve gotten a chance to see the power of housing—the power of what home ownership does, the pride that it gives a family, the financial leverage that it gives a family.”

Rose is married with two children, ages 10 and 14. She lives in Houston, Texas, and serves as chief executive officer of the business her father began, George E. Johnson Development Inc.

She obtained her Texas broker’s license in 2002 and joined her father’s firm before taking over the helm in 2019. In addition to earning a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin), a master’s degree in community development from Prairie View Agricultural and Mechanical University (PVAMU), and a doctorate in organizational leadership from King University in Bristol, Tenn.

Rose is a certified project management professional (PMP) and a certified commercial investment member (CCIM). Also, since 2009, she has served as adjunct professor at PVAMU, where she teaches land development and real estate courses.

 The Next Frontier

As NAREB president, Rose wants to see its members grow. “We are launching the NAREB Black Developers Academy. It’s designed to help Realtist members who want to scale their business into real estate development,” she said.

NAREB received a $500,000 grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation for its pilot program, which will allow them to have a 50-person cohort on development. Although interest rates are a factor, one of the biggest barriers to buyers is low inventory. There simply aren’t enough houses for everyone who wants one. And then, Rose said, “You also have a problem with blight and lack of development in our community.”

Real estate professionals can help alleviate these problems by altering their businesses to develop affordable housing and retail centers in Black communities.

“My goal in this organization is that every individual that wants to be trained in development gets the opportunity over the next two years,” said Rose. “And if there’s anything in my power that I can do to help people get access to that power, to that that leverage, and to that financial tool that real estate is, that is my goal—to give people access.”

If you’re interested in attending, you can register here  and for more information about the National Association of Real Estate Brokers Inc. (NAREB) Black Housing Summit and tour dates, visit www.narebblackwealthtour.com.