Anne Jones, Windermere Abode owner and designated broker; Veronica Figueroa, eXp Realty Figueroa Team founder; and Tiffany Curry, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ first Black broker-owner, ask industry to face issues of racism.

If you’d like to catch a video replay of this Connect Now session, and access the other 25+ hours of video content from Connect Now, tickets are still available. Click here to access.

Over the past week, millions of Americans have watched the country erupt in protest over the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and David McAtee. Alongside the protests, people used social media to call out leaders of various industries, including real estate, to take a clear stance on racism, classism, and other issues that plague the United States.

During Inman’s first-ever digital conference, Connect Now, Windermere Abode owner and designated broker Anne Jones, eXp Realty Figueroa Team founder Veronica Figueroa, and Berkshire Hathway HomeServices’ first Black broker-owner Tiffany Curry candidly spoke about real estate’s role in breaking down systems that disadvantage women, people of color, and lower-income communities.

“You’ve gotta cut the crap and call it out how you see it,” Jones said. “These are delicate issues, but you can’t not talk about it. It impacts what we do professionally in a profound way.”

Jones, Figueroa, and Curry all noted racist housing policies, such as redlining, still impact consumers of color although they’ve been outlawed for decades. Figueroa specifically pointed to the question that many agents ask their buyers at the beginning of a transaction: “What’s your price point?”

“What point is it that we’re not giving people a shot at homeownership?” she said, noting that some agents won’t serve clients with lower budgets, which inadvertently means they are cutting lower-income and racially diverse clients out of their business.

To address more subtle forms of discrimination, Figueroa said brokers must develop protocols in their offices regarding questions about incomes and budgets so all potential buyers have a fair shot at homeownership.

“Brokers have the belief since agents are independent contractors, we can’t tell them what to do,” Figueroa added. “We have to determine how we’ll fix that internally.”

Beyond class, Curry implored brokers to become knowledgable about communities outside of their own. For example, Curry said she’s dedicated time to learning about Hispanic buyers and sellers’ needs so she can better serve them.

“Although it’s not my demographic, it is my responsibility,” she said while noting brokers must address language and cultural barriers to better serve the Hispanic community. “They’re being taken advantage of [because of the language barrier.]”

After addressing consumer needs, each woman noted gender and racial inequality also impacts the real estate industry’s ability to create a more diverse and equitable leadership lineup. Both Curry and Figueroa noted they struggled with naming their teams because they didn’t want to be discriminated against for their gender and race.

“I think its time for a change and there’s very little representation in leadership,” Figueroa said. “What’s tolerated and what’s not tolerated and hide behind what people think is acceptable.”

“I contemplated changing my last name because I didn’t think people would respect me or join my team,” she added. “I’m so glad that I didn’t fit in.”

“I went back five times on the name of my company,” Curry chimed in. “We called it ‘namegate.’ [But] this just isn’t about making money, it was about making a legacy. It’s the greatest gift I can give.”

Jones, Curry and Figueroa all noted alongside men, women leaders must encourage up-and-coming female real estate professionals to step into leadership roles — even if they don’t feel qualified.

“We are a large part of the RE community, but in leadership circles it’s very limited,” Curry said. “As women, we have to remember we’re our biggest critics.”

“Other women may treat us differently because we are women,” she added. “We have to recognize that and fix that. We have to take that respect and carve out that niche for ourselves.”

Looking forward, they said real estate leaders, whether they want to or not, must address issues of injustice, especially if they want to survive.

“A lot of time people have talked about the Gen Y and Get X, and we have to talk about Gen Z,” Curry said. “Those people are going to be our consumers. Gen Z is part of that plan and they’re going to be active.”

“It’s the right time for us to have these conversations,” she added. “These are real people and they’re headstrong and opinionated.”

Curry agreed and ended with this, “You might as well look at your business plan and determine this is where you’re going to go.”

Email Marian McPherson

If you’d like to catch a video replay of this Connect Now session, and access the other 25+ hours of video content from Connect Now, tickets are still available. Click here to access.

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