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Friday, December 9, 2022

Veterans Day Salute Afro-Latina Veteran Breaks Barriers, Owns Bank

Benaisha Poole-Watson served nine years in the Air Force. Serving in the military taught her a great deal. The ambitious veteran recalled the day she walked into the recruiting office. Her military journey commenced in Idaho and took her to Korea and California.

“I’ll recommend it for anybody who’s looking for a place to go and establish some form of discipline, because at some point we all need it,” Poole-Watson said, referring to the military.

 Poole-Watson’s inherited resilience had the makings of a success story. She grew up in South Central Los Angeles, California. When she left her street where mostly working-class families lived, gang violence and drug infestation showed the young girl a different view. Poole-Watson’s mother is an immigrant who came to the United States when she was 24 years old. Moving to California from Guatemala was a part of her search for the American dream.

“My mom worked all day and all night from like six in the morning until midnight. She was a nurse in Compton, so that was a 40-minute commute from where we lived,” Poole-Watson recalled, adding that she was a latchkey kid.

Her hard-working mother raised Poole-Watson and a sister who passed away at ten years old. Despite struggles, volunteerism, love, and learning were integral aspects of being reared in their home. The Afro-Latina was always academically inclined.

“I always wanted to be better, and I knew that there was more for me. One thing about my mom is that she would take us to model homes. We would walk into the homes and just look at the décor,” Poole-Watson said.

The Texas-based entrepreneur realizes that her mother planted seeds for a real estate career by taking her into luxury model homes to see the possibilities. Later in life, Poole-Watson sought to elevate her career in corporate America, but consistently met challenges due to an undiversified executive management structure. After applying over 200 times for promotional positions and getting denied, Poole-Watson tried another strategy.

“After eight months of praying and asking God to lead me, guide me, show me, He spoke to me and said, ‘Get a real estate license,’ and so that’s how I got into real estate.” Poole-Watson said. “I sold over 200 houses my first year in the business while still working that full-time corporate job. The average full-time realtor sells eight to ten homes.”

The second year she completed over 350 transactional sales. She began unofficially mentoring other real estate agents.

“People would always say ‘If you started a company, I would join your company.’ One day I just woke up and said, ‘I’m going to start a real estate company, The Bailey Watson Real Estate Group,’” Poole-Watson said.

She now has over 200 licensed realtors working directly for her covering every major state nationwide, including Maryland. This was all built while working a corporate job. Poole-Watson’s ambition kept her wanting to grow so she developed, built, and sold 20 custom houses throughout Dallas substantially increasing her income by not utilizing another real estate agent.

Another stop in Poole-Watson’s journey began after she started speaking at conferences about her real estate endeavors, just after the pandemic began. After speaking at an event, someone approached her and asked if she would be interested in an opportunity to own a bank. After attorneys tended to legalities, just two weeks later, Poole-Watson was up and running as a federally chartered bank. Ironically, she did not know much detail about the industry and now services over 1000 loan programs in every state, except New York. Poole-Watson’s bank is called Prime One Home Loans.

“I run a full-service mortgage company funding residential and commercial real estate loans, up to $650 million. So that means I can fund everything,” Poole-Watson said.

She mentioned that she can even fund 1099 independent contractors with 1099 statements and entrepreneurs who have had their business for at least two years with just business bank statements. No tax returns are needed for both loans.

Poole-Watson is a multidimensional individual who graduated from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. She studied law at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland. After living in the Washington, D.C. area, Poole-Watson relocated to Dallas.

Giving back is also on Poole-Watson’s radar. She recently created a scholarship to enable two high school students nationwide to attend real estate school, paid in full. The scholarship launched in DeSoto, Texas.

The ambitious veteran also provided a message to share with fellow veterans.

“Take your career in the military seriously and chase your dreams or your goals. The things that you want to do can be accomplished even if you have never seen it done before. Use that military career as an asset and as long as you stay in good standing with the service, you can capitalize in so many different ways,” Poole-Watson said.

Follow Poole-Watson on Instagram @iambenaisha. Visit https://benaishapoolewatson.com/ for more information about her.

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