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Building Black Wealth Day in Birmingham Puts Spotlight on Homeownership

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From left: Marcus Brown, Birmingham Realist Association, moderates a panel discussion on “What To Do With Big Momma's House.” Panelists include ERA King Associate Broker Seyram Selase; Attorney Lisa Blackmon; Title Agent Lynette Jones and Attorney Christian Butler. (Keisa Sharpe-Jefferson, For The Birmingham Times)

By Keisa Sharpe-Jefferson | For The Birmingham Times

Jeremiah Allen Spillers wants to form an LLC (Limited Liability Company) to manage rental properties in Birmingham.

The 24-year-old San Antonio, Texas native on Saturday attended the Building Black Wealth Tour Community Day at New Rising Star Baptist Church located at 7400 London Avenue in Birmingham’s East Lake community.

More than 25,000 individuals on Saturday April 13 flocked to events nationwide, marking the National Building Black Wealth Day as designated by the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB).

In over 100 cities, including Birmingham, seminars and one-on-one sessions delved into a wide range of topics, from homeownership and property investment to business startups and other wealth-building opportunities.

Spillers attended one of the sessions in the Magic City titled, “What To Do With Big Momma’s House” and for good reason. His family moved to Birmingham 10 years ago so his mom could be closer to her hometown of Selma, he said.

“We own a farm down in Selma and we have a lot of family ties to that farm.  And that’s another reason why I wanted to come here … is to understand what goes into the next steps of passing that farm down through our generations and continuing that wealth through the family,” said Spillers, who is  working on his Doctor of Healthcare Administration degree at Morehouse College.

Other sessions at the event sponsored by the Birmingham Realtist Association included topics like, “ABC’s of Home Ownership,” “Women Investing in Real Estate,” and “Black Men Buy Houses.”

Realtists focus on providing success tools for African American real estate professionals, which also includes insurance agents, lenders and contractors.

Earlier in the week, NAREB released its State of Housing in Black America (SHIBA) report for 2024, which is an annual document the organization uses to highlight the state of African American homeownership, sharing insights that include both opportunities and challenges to owning a piece of the American dream.

The report analyzes the current economic environment and does a deep dive into barriers to homeownership for African Americans, among other things.

Justin Williams, CEO of Just-in-Time Realty with Keller Williams Vestavia real estate agency, is the current President of the Birmingham Realtist Association.

He shared insights from the SHIBA report at the State of Housing in Black America luncheon Tuesday, April 9, at the Vestavia Civic Center. He outlined some of the challenges facing Black homeowners and would-be homeowners in 2024.

“One of the major impediments to Black home ownership is the home affordability crisis and the availability of quality inventory,” said Williams.

“For individuals qualified (to buy a home), being able to find something that is within their price range is a big challenge to black homeownership,” Williams said.

Williams also noted an initiative that NAREB created to confront the housing availability and affordability crisis for Black buyers, an academy to train Black developers who will spearhead efforts to build houses across the country.

“Our Black Developers Academy was launched at our mid-winter (NAREB) conference in February,” said Williams.  “There were 50 applicants selected for that first co-hort. I’m proud to say that Birmingham had six of those applicants,” said Williams, a member of that cohort.

Also at that luncheon, Kenneth Crenshaw, Senior Vice President, and Head of Community Reinvestment Act at First Horizon Bank, said there is hope for future homeowners in the lending sector.

“We’ve given out millions of dollars every year for down payment assistance and every year we exceed that amount because we’re pushing to make sure that we are increasing that within our organization,” said Crenshaw.

And he added, “We’re doing more lending to African Americans than ever before and the reason is because we’re taking a close look to make sure that we’re transparent … not just talking about it here but making sure that the numbers reflect exactly what we want them to reflect that we’re doing more lending.”

Beginning May 1, the Birmingham Realtist Association will partner with the City of Birmingham in the Down Payment Assistance Program, which will provide at least $10,000 in down payment assistance for qualified buyers to apply toward closing costs. For more, read here.

For more on the Birmingham Realtist Association, read here.