Did you know the current rate of Black homeownership hovers between 44% to 45% compared to almost 80% of white Americans? When it comes to homeownership, African Americans have a lot of catching up to do. Stephany DeBerry says real estate acquisition is the solution.
The realtor is assisting communities across the country to increase the rate of Black homeownership. Less than half of African Americans across the country own their own home. Almost 20% of Black mortgage applicants were denied mortgages in 2020 versus nearly 11% of white applicants. This puts African Americans in the same position as over 50 years ago during the civil rights era.
DeBerry has served the community for over 15 years in real estate throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan (DC/MD/VA) area. She has an ardent passion for changing the narrative of Black homeownership. The veteran realtor is a top-producing agent, community advocate, coach, and certified mentor. DeBerry strongly believes in the power of education and awareness, which is evident in how she conducts affairs among clients and potential clients.
“Knowledge is power. My initial consultation with clients starts with education. As their professional adviser, I believe it is my duty to make sure that my clients thoroughly understand the process from start to finish. Some of my clients are first-generation and first-time buyers that are trusting me to assist them successfully through the transaction.”
According to DeBerry, clients become more empowered and confident when she takes time to educate them and answer their questions thoroughly. A confident client is a happier, less-stressed client.
DeBerry shares four essentials for the real estate acquisition process:
— “One of the most important is that buyers need to act sooner. Meaning they should spend less time talking about owning a home and more time invested in taking the initial steps. Time is money in this current market. Buyers sit and discuss their plans with friends and family. Take those same discussions to professional real estate agents and lenders. Get the process started sooner than later. You’ll be glad that you did.”
— “The homebuying process should not be feared. Often, I am helping people overcome anxiety and their lack of education concerning the process. I can’t stress enough the importance of education and alignment with industry professionals to properly guide them through the process. We are here to support their dream of homeownership.”
— “The big C, credit is a big deal. It’s why mortgage loan applications get denied. In some instances, potential buyers will need to come out of their comfort zones. No one grows in their comfort zone. We’re leaving old patterns and thought processes behind that have not served us well. They will need to address financial obligations and other concerns that have been allowed to linger previously.”
— “Owning a home is an investment. It is not FREE. You will need to make a monetary investment by having some skin in the game. Even if you qualify for grants and other programs, you still need access to savings, cash, etc. It does not matter what anyone else has shared with you. No money down does not mean cash is not required to purchase a house. I help clients understand the importance of having the financial means to secure their property for years to come.”
When asked what it is going to take to close the wealth gap in this country for African Americans, DeBerry believes that:
“By increasing the rate of Black homeownership, we will begin to see a decline in the wealth gap. Minimizing the wealth gap is going to take time and work throughout a system that was never designed for us to succeed in the first place.”
DeBerry believes there are some aspects of increasing the odds for success within the grasp of African Americans. For example, taking responsibility for things that can be controlled by taking an assessment.
DeBerry recommends starting with mindset:
— What are their thoughts regarding homeownership?
— Have thoughts regarding homeownership been shaped by lack (not enough resources)?
— Do they understand that homeownership can help create generational wealth and legacy?
Next, DeBerry looks at financial literacy. Finance is not necessarily taught in school, but the realtor suggests taking the initiative to get the information needed to become financially savvy. Owning a home can be one aspect of a wealth-building portfolio.
— Are clients spending more than what they’re saving?
— Do they know how to create a budget?
Having recently participated in a money management webinar for middle and high school students, DeBerry says that starting financial education early is key. Maintaining good credit is vital. Clients can’t obtain a traditional mortgage loan without a strong credit score. Taking control of finances is a crucial first step toward minimizing the wealth gap.
The American Dream of homeownership should be attainable for all people. Black Americans are in last place, with less than half owning homes. The dream of buying a home to create stability for families and a means of financial security can be realized with the help of professionals.
Purchasing a house is a critical step in minimizing the wealth gap, but DeBerry recommends that clients don’t stop there — buy another and another. There are many investment options available that align with financial goals and lifestyles. Diversifying portfolios is also an asset. Real estate is a tried and true method of creating wealth.
Black Americans can get out of the starting block by contacting a real estate professional to get inquiries answered. Leveraging support systems and additional resources will help Black Americans cross the finish line as homeowners in 2022.
Let’s close this wealth gap. Let’s go!