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“Equality of opportunity remains pretty elusive in the housing industry,” said M. Ryan Gorman, chairman and CEO of Coldwell Banker Real Estate. “Historically, a very large group of the population has not been well served. As a company we are newly committed to take that responsibility seriously.”
Gorman calls 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 is caused by confusion about what you must do to qualify for a mortgage.
“That’s the role of real estate agents,” he said, “to eliminate confusion and understand the many programs that help people step into homeownership.”
Coldwell Banker Real Estate is the oldest and most established real estate franchise in North American. The company, which was founded in 1906, has a network of 3,000 offices and 94,000 affiliated sales professionals in 43 countries and territories around the world.
“As a company that is accustomed to driving change in our industry,” said Gorman, “we have created an Inclusive Ownership Program. Among other things, this program, according to Gorman, is designed to promote the growth of a diverse next generation of real estate entrepreneurs and to diversify leadership throughout the industry.
The program 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 gets involved in some of the mentoring personally, making sure 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 observes 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.”
When asked how recent changes in the political landscape will impact the real estate industry, 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 United States, real estate has had to struggle with how to keep moving forward safely in the era of COVID-19. Ways of doing business that were possible before Covid-19 became required after Covid-19, according to Gorman.
For example, Gorman noted 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 short list of homes they can see on a Saturday without feeling “overwhelmed and bewildered.”
Gorman sees his leadership role at Coldwell Banker as “all consuming.” Being in the real estate industry he added “is deeply personal and deeply valuable,” considering the central role homeownership plays in the lives of millions of people.