Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC., the oldest and most established real estate franchise in North American, possesses a network of 3,000 offices and 94,000 affiliated sales professionals in 43 countries and territories around the world.

Its Chairman and CEO, M. Ryan Gorman, said that equity practices in the housing industry historically haven’t been favorable to black people. 

“Equality of opportunity remains pretty elusive in the housing industry,” he said. “Historically, a very large group of the population has not been well served.  As a company, we are newly committed to taking that responsibility seriously.”

Gorman called the approximately 30 percent homeownership gap between blacks and whites “horrific” and added that the opportunity of homeownership is not being achieved by a portion of our country that is “capable and qualified.”

Some of that gap has been caused by confusion about what potential homeowners must do to qualify for a mortgage.

“That’s the role of real estate agents to eliminate confusion and understand the many programs that help people step into homeownership,” he said. “As a company that is accustomed to driving change in our industry, we have created an Inclusive Ownership Program.” 

Among other things, this program is designed to promote the growth of a diverse next generation of real estate entrepreneurs and to diversify leadership throughout the industry, Gorman said. The program also focuses on encouraging successful brokerage ownership among minorities, veterans, women, and LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs. 

Benefits include up to $100,000 of funding and royalty fee rebates, as well as mentorship and education during the first two critical years in business.

Gorman said he gets involved in some of the mentoring personally, ensuring that brokers are focused on realistic goals and are clear on “what you are trying to achieve.”

Brokers also receive membership and conference registrations for industry partners such as the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB), National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), and the Asian Real Estate Association (AREAA).

Gorman observed that a number of competitors have shown interest in similar programs to encourage broker-owner diversity.  

“I like to think we are showing what is possible and increasing the pressure on other companies to say I need to make time for this,” he added.  “There are some things we would like to corner the market on, this is not one of them.”

Further, Gorman pointed out that “in general, housing is more about policy than politics. All elected officials tend to support the benefits housing creates, it’s just that politicians have different ideas about how to achieve those benefits.”

Like virtually every other industry in the US, real estate has had to struggle with how to keep moving forward safely in the era of COVID-19. Ways of doing business that was possible before COVID-19 became a requirement after COVID-19, Gorman said. 

He noted, for example, that while the use of digital signatures on real estate documents was hit and miss depending on local customs and requirements “everyone had to get on board in a hurry.”

He also pointed out that social distancing helped to encourage the rapid growth of “virtual viewing” by homebuyers.  

“Virtual showings have become a step that an agent can use to help eliminate marginal properties,” he said, enabling buyers to more quickly create a shortlist of homes they can see on a Saturday without feeling “overwhelmed and bewildered.”

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