We often do not miss the vital and ingrained aspects of our lives until they are gone. When it comes to the real estate industry, our Kryptonite assumption has to do with homeownership, and the American Dream.

  • We, as real estate practitioners, likely do not openly focus enough on the importance of homeownership.
  • Failing to address the underlying opportunities homeownership provides may be a reason why sales success evades many real estate professionals.

Have you ever taken for granted something important to you?

For example, you may have had an old yet reliable car. You can recall that it was nothing fancy.

That car carted you, your family and friends to every job, game, match, event and class without a sputter.

Sadly, the shiny, seemingly “mint condition” vehicle with the enviable new car smell allows you to travel in style — but for the first time, you have to call roadside assistance while stalled on the side of the highway.

While waiting, you longingly remember “old faithful.”

As the adage goes, “you don’t miss your water ’til your well runs dry,” or an updated version, “you don’t miss your iPhone ’til the screen is cracked beyond repair.”

In both cases, we often do not miss the vital and ingrained aspects of our lives until they are gone.

When it comes to the real estate industry, our kryptonite assumption has to do with homeownership, and the American Dream.

Dwindling homeownership

Homeownership. We know it matters because we are the professionals of this industry, whether as salespeople, mortgage lenders, attorneys, appraisers, insurance agents, and the like. But have we begun to take for granted that homeownership is still the American Dream?

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, total mortgage application volume fell 3.7 percent last week from the previous week, and is nearly 31 percent lower than the same week in 2016.

As the housing market recovers, the fall in homeownership continues. Meanwhile, these are the best of times for real estate but overall it is investors, not middle America or first-time buyers, who are benefiting from it.

Mark Alston of Skyway RealtyAlston and Associates Mortgage Company, and the National Association of Real Estate Brokers Public Affairs Chairman, poignantly shared this information at this year’s National Association of Real Estate Brokers Las Vegas conference.

Furthermore, Alston expressed the following sentiments and narratives that some of us real estate professionals do not want to admit but pervade many of our communities:

1. Homeownership just isn’t that important.

What are our indicators?

Entrepreneurship (“I’m building my empire”); celebrity-ship (I’m famous, y’all”) and consumerism (“I always have to have the latest [insert expensive luxury good], aka keeping up with the Jones/Kardashians”) have quietly seeped in to replace what many American’s dream about and aspire to achieve.

2. Secondly, homeownership is out of reach. 

Alston mentioned that recent mortgage approval rates reflect the following demographic breakdown:

  • 63.86 percent white
  • 62.64 percent Asian
  • 53.88 percent Hispanic
  • 45.38 percent black

For each of these demographics, if we were using an elementary school grading scale (where an “A” is 90-100 and so forth) America overall is failing at achieving homeownership, with at best a “D” for whites and Asians, an “E” for Latinos, and a dreary “F” for African-Americans.

And just like in grade school, failure may spark a sense of unattainability, withdrawal and apathy.

You may remember hating the class that you could never do well in, and unfortunately, such attitudes permeate American homeownership.

What’s all this mean?

We, as real estate practitioners, likely do not openly focus enough on the importance of homeownership.

We exclaim verbally and post socially why we love our favorite restaurants, sports team (*cough* “Go Blue!” *cough*), luxury brands and other objects of our affection.

Yet, often we are mum on why homeownership matters, such as its wealth creation and generational transferral power.

Quite simply, we are taking our love affair with real estate for granted.

We know it is important, but we may have settled into a comfort zone where we do not say it or demonstrate it.

But saying and showing is important in American culture. Don’t believe me? Then just wait until next Valentine’s Day to see how sideways and withdrawn people get when those expressions are neglected.

We must truly get back to our first career love and advocate for why homeownership matters.

Tying enthusiasm to success in real estate

This is truthfully the main underlying reason I see sales success evade so many. We post about new listings in a stale, pragmatic, abbreviated way, instead of touting new real estate opportunities for wealth building.

We market properties instead of marketing dreams and futures.

We show houses instead of truly being a matchmaker and conduit of investment opportunities.

Let’s start today and “change the narrative,” which was an actionable phrase repeated at this exhilarating broker conference.

Yakira Prise, a top producing agent with PalmerHouse Realty, is a shining example of changing the narrative with her #YouTooCanLiveTheDream social posts, which are the main contributors to her success and inspiration to her community.

Please read what she wrote and notice her stance in saying, “Selling pretty houses is one thing… But ensuring my clients make smart lifelong and beneficial financial decisions is the [home] run in the ball game!”

See what I mean?

And make no mistake, our advocacy for the importance of homeownership must extend to our lawmakers. “Without significant federal intervention and policy change, homeownership will continue to decline, especially in communities of color,” stated Alston.

What can you begin doing today to instill the value of homeownership in your messaging to positively influence your sphere and community? Sound off below!

Lee Davenport is a licensed real estate broker, business doctoral student, trainer and coach. Follow her on Google+ and Facebook.

Email Lee Davenport.

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