Real Talk: How Do We Clear Obstacles to Black Homeownership in Dallas?

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It was a hot June, and I am not talking about the temperature. I am talking about the emotions in our cities.

Just as we came out from under the Shelter-In-Place to keep Covid-19 under control, the nation was shocked by the murder of a Black man as he was arrested in Minneapolis, setting off what became a month-long (and some say, never-ending) series of protests against police and racial injustices.

At we’ve been watching and taking note, every day our eyes and hearts wide open to hearing more, thinking, and learning. With our focus always peeled on real estate and market values, we gathered some of the top Black agents we know to sit down for what may very well become our monthly “barbershop.”

Note: I wanted to call it a “salon,” but Tommy Wooten tells me no, it’s a barbershop. That’s where people of color traditionally gathered to chat and exchange ideas since, for years, since country clubs were off-limits to them.

Wooten, one of our distinguished panelists, is a mover and shaker in the industry, and an agent with Joe Atkins. Wooten is the first Black man to win the Lois Hair Bernays Award for the MetroTex Association of Realtor Salesperson of the Year in 2014, among many, many others. A fitting award!

Another panelist is Tenesha Lusk, a top 1 percent agent at Keller Williams Plano, who has been continuously awarded for her success in productivity and customer service, solidifying her presence as a top real estate professional. Tenesha is also a Dallas native!

Joe Atkins, a well-known leader in this region and is now even developing, also joined us as a panelist. With transactions totaling over $61 million in the past three years, Joe Atkins, is a consecutive top Dallas producer and is so active in this community. He is a director at MetroTex Association of Realtors, Texas Association of Realtors, and NAR, plus Big Brothers Big Sisters, to name a few.

Prime Blankenship, a listing and buyer’s specialist with Realty ONE Group First Choice, also joined our panel. Prime studied PolySci at Louisiana State University, transitioning to real estate after seeing the impact homeownership has on communities and families.

We got the convo started and I forgot to hit “record” for a bit, partially because we were engrossed in how hot the market is (low inventory). But I rolled just as we got into the grits — it’s a long-ass discussion with plenty of meat on the bones that you don’t want to miss. Know this:

  • According to a 2018 JPMorgan-Chase study, Dallas has 310,099 Black
    Dallas residents with a homeownership rate of 28.5 percent, less than half that of white home ownership at 53.2 percent.
  • Yes redlining is illegal, as we all learned in real estate school, but it happens every day. And the Feds don’t aggressively enforce. Some lenders (we are not naming names, yet) have subtle ways of shifting perfectly qualified Black buyers away from mortgages, crucial to getting on the housing ladder.
  • Police have been called to “arrest” Black agents showing homes when neighbors report them as burglars.
  • One of the biggest blockades to building wealth with real estate — which all of our panelists have done successfully — comes through low appraisals, the first rung on the ladder. And there are pretty few Black appraisers in the area.
  • Gentrification is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if, as one of our panelists advocates, you invest in your own neighborhood and own a piece of the rock.
  • What do we need? A whole lot but mostly EDUCATION! We need to teach young people about managing money and building wealth, through homeownership and retention, leading to a phrase coined by Tenesha in this video you will hear more of around here: “Thriving, not just surviving.”

Too often, she said, Black families live life just to stay afloat. Through education, fiscal knowledge and financial planning, they can have the freedom of Thriving every single day.

And Real Estate, the great equalizer and creator of wealth, is a great way to do that.

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Candy Evans

A real estate muckraker, Candy Evans is one of the nation’s leading real estate reporters. She is also the North Texas real estate editor for, CultureMap Dallas, Modern Luxury Dallas, & the Katy Trail Weekly. Candy has written for Joel Kotkin’s The New Geography, Inman Real Estate News, plus a host of national sites. Constantly breaking celebrity real estate news, she scooped former president George W. Bush's Dallas home in 2008. She is the founder and publisher of her signature, and, devoted to the vacation home market. Her verticals have won many awards, including Best Blog by the venerable National Association of Real Estate Editors, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious journalism associations. Candy holds an active Texas real estate license but does not sell. She is on the Board of Directors of Braemar Hotels & Resorts (BHR).

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