To promote Black homeownership, amplify Black Realtors



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Cultivating efforts that improve Black homeownership rates, broker-owner Jemila Winsey writes, requires Black real estate professionals to take on leadership positions.

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Houston has several nicknames, including Space City, because it is home to NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. Bayou City refers to the 10 winding waterways that flow through the city. And H-Town, well, that’s pretty self-explanatory.

As for me, I call Houston home. After immigrating from my country in Nigeria to go to college, I have made my life here with my husband and two children. I have also made my career here. I discovered real estate while working for a global consulting firm and spent 16 years there. I took a leap of faith and pursued real estate full-time.

With a median home sold price of $322,400, Houston is one of the country’s most affordable places to buy a house.

Considered one of the fastest-growing big cities in the country, Houston is luring more residents from around the globe, drawn to its mix of cultural amenities, world-class restaurants, diverse communities and low cost of living. Houston is a hub for several industries, including energy, healthcare, technology, aerospace, transportation and logistics. 

My husband and I have capitalized on the inherent opportunity here in Houston to build a strong and growing business over the past 20 years. We have a lot to be proud of here in Houston. We are the fourth largest and the most diverse city in the U.S. We are home to one of the largest Black populations in the country at 22.4 percent. 

The stats on homeownership

But here’s where Houston falls short. According to U.S. Census data, only about 42 percent of our Black residents are homeowners. That number is in line with national homeownership rates for Blacks. As a point of comparison, nationally, nearly 73 percent of white Americans own a home.

This 31-percent gap inspires us to tirelessly educate residents about local initiatives to support Black homeownership, including several city grants for buyers and opportunities for developers to build on city-owned in-fill lots.

I also see the lack of Black representation in the industry as a barrier to increasing homeownership rates. Fewer than 6 percent of all real estate professionals are Black, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. If our real estate ranks were more reflective of our local community makeup, we could make some inroads in increasing Black homeownership. 

To attract Black professionals to the field, I’m on a mission to promote and amplify the achievements of Black Realtors. As a member of the Houston Black Real Estate Association board, I helped launch the Top 20 Houston Black Real Estate Professionals rankings in 2021 to celebrate Black excellence.

Based on the success of that local effort, I began lobbying for a national ranking for Black real estate brokers and agents sponsored by the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, the real estate trade organization for Black real estate professionals. I got appointed to lead a task force to make it happen. 

Success and recognition for Black Realtors

The NAREB Top 100 was celebrated in Houston last summer, bringing incredible visibility to NAREB and its members. For many of the Top 100, this was their first-ever professional award. 

Public recognition of Black Realtors’ achievements has given other Black Realtors inspiration to be mega-successful, expand into luxury, launch large production social media and video campaigns, live out loud, and come out from behind the curtain and take center stage.

When we have role models to look up to and mentor us, we can see a path we may not have seen or considered before and feel supported in stepping out of our comfort zone. I like to say, “If you can see it, you can be it!”

So, having representation and recognition is essential, but having equal access to opportunity is also critical. Under the glittering chandeliers, we are invited to sit at the grand table. But what’s a seat worth if we’re left reaching for a plate that isn’t there? The feast of opportunity passes, and we’re told to be grateful for the view.

The real opportunity as it relates to inclusion is that, at our table, everyone gets a plate, and nobody leaves hungry. That’s why I take my leadership roles so seriously. I am intentionally cultivating efforts that will move the needle for Black homeownership.

Jemila Winsey is broker and co-owner, with her husband, Patrick, of ERA Legacy Living in Houston, Texas.





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