There is perhaps no business more grounded in community than real estate. As trusted advisors to people looking for a place they can call home, real estate agents and brokers have an influential role in promoting and developing communities in the markets they serve. It is for this reason that operating with integrity and mindfully promoting equality and inclusiveness is impactful. As community leaders with deep local contacts and connections, agents and brokers are well positioned to shape the communities they serve. As we often say within our Coldwell Banker network, working in real estate is truly important work.
During fair housing month, we reflect on people across the United States that may share the commonly held dream of homeownership, but may not have the means, information or the partner to help achieve that dream. We have made some strides since the Fair Housing Act was established in 1968, but there is a great deal of work yet to do.
Discrimination impacts buyers and renters today. Through our work in the business, we can promote fairness and reap the benefits of being inclusive. One way of doing so is ensuring representation at all levels of the real estate industry, and particularly among broker owners. While most agents are women, many owners and leaders are not. There is plenty of room for more diversity of all types in real estate careers. Representation at the agent and owner level adds greater possibility for in depth knowledge, respect and understanding of needs in our business and client base.
At Coldwell Banker, we have been focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion through strategic initiatives including our programs like Agents of Change and What Moves Her, as well as partnerships with AREAA, NAHREP, NAREB, and the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance. Many of our agents and affiliates are active participants in local and national realtor boards promoting diversity. And, just over a year ago, we launched our Inclusive Ownership program, a first-of-its-kind initiative in the industry aimed at increasing representation of minority, women, LGBTQ+ and veteran entrepreneurs in real estate through exclusive resources, tools and mentorship – and it has already made a significant difference for affiliated members. One of the first business owners to join the program was Tina Marie Hernandez, a Latina entrepreneur who has found a home and partnership with Coldwell Banker.
Partnering with Entrepreneurs to Build Businesses & Communities
Tina Marie Hernandez is a broker and co-owner of Coldwell Banker Omni Group in Southern California with her husband Rich A. Hernandez. As a Latina woman working in real estate for 30 years, Tina is the ultimate entrepreneur, who operates a successful business and investments, while constantly generating new business initiatives. She also knows firsthand that the Latinx community deals with several disadvantages when finding a home, from being shown less listings, quoted higher fees, or given heavier application processes’ than their white counterparts. Latinos can also be challenged by a lack of generational wealth, which can show up for buyers as they race to qualify for home purchases, particularly in markets that are as competitive for buyers as the one we are in today.
Tina recalls instances in which earning her leadership role took extra energy. “Both as a woman and Latina, working my way up to the broker-owner level took a lot of proving myself. I had to fight harder than my male counterparts for a seat at the table, and always felt pressure to prove to prospective business partners that I am successful and can help them be successful too,” she explains.
For decades, Tina and Rich’s main goal for their business has been to give their Latinx clients equal opportunities and help them build generational wealth. But they were only able to do so much of that when their brokerage, The Omni Group, was independent.
“Independent brokerages often have a lack of structure and a smaller network of connections and resources,” she explained. “Knowing how important it is for business leaders relate to the people they serve, Rich and I knew that we had that special connection with our community but were lacking a platform to expand our impact. When we found out about the Coldwell Banker initiative to boost diverse owners and their businesses, it was the absolutely best decision both personally and professionally for us to join. Coldwell Banker has made it crystal clear to us the value we bring to Coldwell Banker as well. As we share our perspective, knowledge and initiatives. The relationship is of mutual value – it’s a true partnership”
The Value of a Trusted Brand for Community-Building
Today, Tina Marie says affiliating with Coldwell Banker through the Inclusive Ownership Program was the best decision she has ever made for her business. “By joining Coldwell Banker, we’ve joined an incredibly warm and professional group of networked people, and added the tools, structure, mentorship and national recognition to back up the hard work that goes into our business every single day to serve every aspect of our beloved community,” she said.
Tina, and other owners who joined the program, say that the credibility and customer confidence that comes with affiliating with Coldwell Banker has been priceless. Having the Coldwell Banker name behind our new affiliates’ businesses and access to its exclusive resources has elevated their brand, their reputation and their impact on their communities. By way of a simple current example, Coldwell Banker prepared social media assets for brokers to highlight during fair housing month, as well as the Delivering the Promise of Fair Housing course and a pledge. In fact, Coldwell Banker invites everyone in the real estate industry to give some thought to the important role we play in shaping communities, and take the pledge. Change often begins with a shift in mindset, and a commitment.
Real estate is a “people” business built on genuine connections between brokers, agents and their clients. For clients to feel represented by businesses that they trust, that empowers them to find the home that they desire and deserve. A place where they and their loved ones will thrive, where they will be a valued member of a community. We are on a continued journey and guiding our clients in a trustworthy way is a meaningful service that agents and brokers provide, which can have worthy results.
I am happy to report that 13 new affiliated companies have been welcomed into the program and Coldwell Banker looks to double that size in the coming year. If you are a business entrepreneur who could benefit from the Coldwell Banker Inclusive Ownership program, we would like to hear from you. Learn how to apply.
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