A few weeks ago, Michelle Nettles brought 15 women together with a goal in mind. To inform and discuss the ins and outs of the real estate industry.
Some of the women were already experienced in the field while others knew little to nothing.
One thing they all had in common was the desire to learn and share knowledge about working in a field with few Black faces, especially Black females.
The real estate market in the United States is projected to grow to $371 billion this year with an almost 4% annual growth rate expected by 2025, according to Statista.
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However, despite the industry being one of the wealthiest fields to be in, data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that less than 6% of real estate professionals are Black.
With so little representation in the industry, Nettles and several others are looking to change the narrative.
QCity Metro spoke with Nettles and other real estate professionals to discuss their work and the importance of representation.
Here’s what they had to share.
Ashley Russ is “fairly new” to the real estate industry, having worked in it for about 2 years.
“This is my first official year working full-time in real estate,” said Russ who owns a townhome.
Russ said one of her motivations for getting into real estate was to push back against gentrification she noticed occurring, particularly in the Jackson-Hamlet neighborhood.
Her goal is to maintain the current Black community in the area while attracting potential new home buyers to her affordable properties.
When Russ attended the Ladies who Landlord event she said it was a safe space where all felt comfortable learning and sharing information while they networked.
Russ emphasized the importance of networking specifically – “Black women need to be able to lean on each other,” she said.
She expressed the need for having diverse representation in the real estate industry. “It diversifies your way of thought,” she said. “People look at you and assume based on what they see on the surface.”
Breanna, a full-time travel nurse, took her first steps into the realm of real estate when she purchased her first personal home just before the pandemic.
She realized through the buying process that there was more to real estate that she wanted to understand.
“We’re all in real estate,” she said. “You’re either putting money into real estate or making money from it.” After buying her first home, Breanna decided she wanted to do the latter.
“It’s a way to build wealth and I want to narrow the wealth gap,” she said.
Breanna got into real estate in 2020 when she attended her first “tax lean” auction, which is when investors can bid on and purchase a property.
Currently, she owns a mobile home, land, and an apartment.
The mobile home offers a “rent to buy” option and the apartment offers a short-term lease.
Crystal has over 5 years of real estate experience and describes the representation of Black women in the field as “very slim.”
Crystal, who has a networking group, emphasized the importance of making connections in the real estate field.
She described the landlord event as something that allowed all of the attendees to come together and share knowledge, collaborate and make connections.
Crystal shared a couple of the big takeaways she’s had from working in real estate. “Don’t be afraid, don’t be attached.”
She emphasized the importance of recognizing that real estate is a business and that it’s vital to maintain professional relationships between tenants and landlords, even if those tenants are family members.
Michelle first got involved in real estate shortly after the passing of her mother in 2014. She and her brother inherited vacant land.
“I knew that that was an opportunity to monetize something my mother had left us. I wanted to make sure that her investment was taken care of properly,” Nettles told QCity Metro.
Some of Nettle’s family was already involved in real estate. “I wanted to give it a try, honestly… I did a little bit of research asking people for advice.”
Nettles rented out the property for four years before starting Landlord Life. She saw working in real estate not just as a way to build generational wealth, but a means to provide affordable housing as well.
In addition to renting out properties, Nettles also does some maintenance work on her properties such as preparing and replacing floors and walls.