Atlanta broker-owner Amy McCoy joins Dr. Lee Davenport for a discussion of community advocacy and housing equity.

As 90+ degree weather looms over Atlanta (to the chagrin of natives, I do secretly call it “Hotlanta”), I find respite in connecting with new people along with local business leaders in the cool of an air-conditioned networking event. Typically the flow of both creative ideas and air conditioning are a balm to my soul. 

But the last event I attended left me with a sweat of panic despite the icy chill from the vents. There was a very candid conversation by some real estate agents and investors that to do well in real estate, one is better off not getting bogged down with how to do good for the community simultaneously. 

Say what! [Cue record scratch.]

Their take:

“Buy homes low (for five/six figures) in a legacy community and then build out to the point that you can resell for seven or eight figures. Does it hurt the legacy residents? Who cares! Does it make affordable housing even less attainable by driving up surrounding market values? Who cares!”

Mind you, their conversation was on the heels of Atlanta being named the most overpriced market, which those of us that worked through “The Great Recession” know can be a recipe for disaster.

Of course, I shared examples of how doing well can be an outflow of doing good like with Maryland’s Parity Homes. But this topic needs a deeper dive than that speed networking event.

Doing well and doing good are not mutually exclusive

I am a little bit of a history nerd so let me give more context for why I believe doing well and doing good are not mutually exclusive. The creation of the modern U.S. middle class came about through widespread homeownership and access to no/low-fee college education, becoming a case for worldwide study due to the original G.I. Bill. This helps to prove that when we do good in our communities, we (agents, investors and, frankly, the economy as a whole) do well.

The G.I. Bill revolutionized generational wealth for today’s generations whose relatives (parents, grandparents) were not excluded nor refused access to the housing and educational benefits that their service entitled them to receive. Unfortunately, since federal fair housing was not law at that time, it is no secret that Black and Asian WWII veterans were often excluded specifically from the housing benefits that created the middle class, impacting their financial legacy.

While the benefits were available, not all banks/lenders, sellers, home builders, or agents would honor those benefits. We know that today this is part of the reason for the persistent racial wealth gap.

Remarkably, Black American veterans were able to still turn lemons into lemonade by cowriting what eventually became the federal Fair Housing Act. But imagine where our economy would be if all our WWII veterans, no matter their race, nationality or skin color, had had access and opportunity to their promised housing benefits some 80 years ago?

What would that mean for us, their descendants and their communities? Would intentionally divested areas in majority People of Color communities have received the dollars needed for them to not be in disrepair? Doing good, means we can do well and perhaps much better than everyone for themselves.

Additionally, I was reminded of an earlier episode of the Atlanta Realtors Rundown with author and Georgia State University professor, Dr. Dan Immergluck, where he made the case for real estate professionals flexing our real estate acumen more as advocates, especially in relation to fair, affordable housing. What does that look like beyond the classroom and in real (no longer) theoretical life?

As the affordable housing crisis hits many markets, what can we do?

For this episode of the Atlanta Realtors Rundown, I am honored to be joined by a person who embodies community advocacy and is real estate royalty as a servant leader. 

Amy McCoy (broker-owner of My Hometown Realty Group) shares how to juggle being a broker-owner and community advocate, which is no easy feat.

I have personally worked with Amy to amplify the experiences of her clients in regard to appraisal bias in order to impact policy change that promotes the wealth-building garnered through fair and equitable appraisals (see their stories as featured on ABC Atlanta affiliate WSBTV). She is truly an inspiration.

Lee Davenport is a licensed real estate broker, trainer and coach. Follow her on YouTube or visit her website.

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