The real estate industry has an equality problem. Keller Williams aims to fix it.
Jeff Stewart, an Asheville KW CEO/team leader, spoke with agent Kelsey Simmons about the company’s commitment to positive change. In addition to working as a real estate agent, Kelsey is an ambassador for the Keller Williams equity task force.
Because the real estate industry has impacted people of color negatively for generations, Keller Williams founder Gary Keller stepped up to make his company part of the solution. As the largest real estate company in the United States, their potential for impact is vast. In 2020, Gary Keller spoke out against discrimination and police brutality, and wanted to take action to actively stand up for those principles. They created the social equity task force for KW on a national level and urged franchises to do the same locally.
Their national goal is to impact 100,000 lives over the next five years: 10,000 first-time homeowners per year, 5,000 youth impacted through the KW Quantum Leap program, and 5,000 new agents into the industry. There are lots of details and moving parts, but they’re certain they can hit that goal.
Local Efforts for Equality in Real Estate
Here in Asheville, Jeff Stewart knew he had to implement some important changes within his franchise. Kelsey was excited to join as the equity task force ambassador to highlight the goals Keller Williams is achieving for social equity.
The task force’s three-tiered goal is to positively impact the POC community as it relates to real estate.
- Raising money to ensure Black families have the knowledge and resources to move toward home ownership. The pathway to home ownership is a huge task they aim to provide tools for, from financial literacy to property upkeep and more.
- Assisting Black people to become real estate agents and thrive in the industry.
- The Quantum Leap program is a mindset and financial empowerment program in which mentors provide rich and powerful information to put kids on the track to success.
Diversity in Home Ownership
When it comes to helping Black families own homes, Kelsey notes that Asheville’s fast gentrification rate makes our community stand out. The program is particularly impactful due to that. The Black population has dwindled from 13% in 2010 to the present 6%. The task force would like to keep diversity in Asheville through home ownership.
Much of their efforts involve helping people know where to start. They offer expert insight into saving money, improving credit, and knowing the potential area you want to live. By pairing people with existing resources and connecting them with as many POC professionals as possible, the program creates a strong community.
Empowerment is key, and finding tailored programs that focus on the unique barriers that Black families face. Eventually, they aim to lower those barriers and make them a thing of the past.
Real Estate Apprenticeship Program
The REAP program aims to help minority professionals become real estate agents. In order to help potential agents who face additional barriers to entering the industry, their incentive is to waive fees for the first year which can total $2200 per agent). They have already had successes locally. The REAP program is now a part of the YMI Cultural Center’s Economic Development program.
Quantum Leap for Youth
Kelsey is directly involved in the Quantum Leap program and can vouch for its quality. Despite being a Keller Williams project, mentors do not necessarily focus on real estate. Instead, they teach tools for success like time management, personal responsibility, professionalism, finding resources and developing skills. On a local level, the mentor program is going really well. They’re connecting with other groups that help Black youth like My Daddy Taught Me That and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
In the future, Kelsey would like to create a special Black professionals networking event. It would feature as many resources as possible to assist those looking for opportunities. The event will be inclusive in order to connect those who need mentorship to the pros in the industry.
When it comes to youth, representation matters. If a teenager is considering careers in the future, and they see an example who looks like them, they are more likely to pursue that goal. In Asheville, Kelsey noted that many Black families live in public housing where they don’t encounter Black real estate agents, attorneys, doctors, and other professionals on a regular basis. Providing these role models will make a huge impact on those youth for the future.
Through these comprehensive programs, Keller Williams team members are providing tools to improve the real estate industry as a whole. By uplifting underserved members of the community, they will enrich the greater good.
Contact Kelsey if you have questions, would like to get involved, or need a real estate agent: (828) 407-7179 firstname.lastname@example.org