Real estate agents have to work together to eliminate disparities and barriers to homeownership. Here’s how one Realtor remains dedicated in creating pathways toward fair and equitable housing opportunities for all.

I’m a proud Chicago native, born and raised on the West Side. My very first introduction to real estate was through my grandparents, who owned several multiunit properties across the Chicagoland area.

I have now been in the business for 24 years and absolutely still love what I do. I started in the relocation industry as an assistant to real estate agents. I managed the details involved with relocating new hires and transferring employees across various state borders.

I was intrigued by helping consumers navigate through the often challenging homebuying and selling process, which fueled me to take my career to the next level. So, I successfully acquired my real estate license, became a Realtor — and the rest is history.

Over the last few years, I have been strategic and intentional about creating and demonstrating my value as a Realtor to my clients. For me, this means going beyond the transaction. In order to represent my clients on a higher level, I’ve completely immersed myself in the industry by expanding my knowledge through education as a practitioner.

It has been equally important for me to use my voice as an industry leader to support the communities I serve. I also serve in various leadership capacities within the industry that affect positive changes, such as promoting the integrity of the real estate industry and preserving private property rights of homeowners.

There is a myriad of challenges that we are facing within the real estate industry, and affordable housing is at the forefront. The State of Housing in Black America (SHIBA) Report, produced by the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB), stated that there is a disparity in housing among Black, Hispanic and white Americans.

The report showed that in 2019, the U.S. Census Bureau reported homeownership rates of 42.1 percent for Black households, 47.5 percent for Latino households and 74.3 percent for white households. It has been, and will continue to be, my priority to work with my fellow real estate advocates to eliminate disparities and barriers to homeownership.

As Realtors, we have a responsibility to promote resources for consumers that create pathways toward building wealth through homeownership. I have successfully demonstrated this through my partnership with the Oak Park Regional Housing Center and their West Cook Homeownership Program, a HUD-approved housing counseling agency that provides a gamut of free resources to meet the needs of first-time homebuyers, existing homeowners and renters.

It provides resources such as homebuyer education, financial empowerment, homeownership preservation, foreclosure prevention, down payment assistance, expanded rental options and so much more.

In 2020, I had the pleasure of serving as the chair for the Illinois Realtors Affordable Housing and Community Involvement Committee, where our initiative was to create synergy among the Realtors and community related to affordable housing options, remove the negative stigma around affordable housing, and encourage collaboration with HUD Counseling agencies throughout the state of Illinois.

The work and accomplishments of this committee helped me redefine my purpose as a Realtor, especially during these most challenging times. In planning the next stages of my career, it was important for me to partner with a brokerage that shared my desire to have a holistic approach to providing stellar service to consumers.

I found Coldwell Banker was the paragon that best demonstrated its values and goals that are closely aligned with my own, and I made the decision to join the global organization in October 2020.

Shortly after my transition, I was contacted by the president and CEO of Coldwell Banker, Ryan Gorman. He wanted to hear more about my work as chair of the Affordable Housing Committee, as it aligns with the values and goals of the Coldwell Banker brand. I knew then that I made the right choice in becoming part of the Coldwell Banker family.

I remain dedicated to acting as a resource to my clients, and I will continue to encourage other Realtors to join me as ambassadors for fair and equitable housing opportunities for all.

Tracey Royal is a Realtor and assistant branch vice president at Coldwell Banker Realty in Greater Chicagoland with a focus on the Oak Park neighborhood. Connect with her on LinkedIn

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