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Seattle King County REALTORS® joins initiative to boost region’s rate of Black homeownership

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Seattle King County REALTORS® (SKCR) deepened its commitment to housing equity by joining the Black Home Initiative network (BHI). The association’s board of directors approved joining the regional program to support the goal of generating 1,500 new low- to moderate-income Black homeowners in the next five years.

“Realtors know the racial homeownership gap in King County, like many regions around the country, is unacceptably large,” said Sharon O’Mahony, president of SKCR, adding, “We are already working to raise awareness of disparities and help Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC) take advantage of resources for first-time homebuyers. By collaborating with BHI, we hope to advance efforts to reduce some of the barriers people of color have encountered.”

The Coalition for More Housing Choices, of which SKCR is a member, was a stakeholder in the initial development of BHI. The year-old, multi-sector effort seeks to address inequities through community engagement and a seven-point plan to transform systems that have impeded access to homeownership for Black households.

As part of the initiative, community partners will align resources and, in the words of one stakeholder, “activate the right levers” to change outcomes for Blacks and other communities of color.

BHI’s advocacy agenda includes a seven-point plan that encompasses marketing and outreach, pre- and post-purchase counseling, support and tools for purchasers, credit and lending reforms, increasing housing supply, advancing policy changes and consumer protections to overcome past discriminatory practices in real estate and lending, and implementing strategies to ensure existing BIPOC homeowners retain ownership and equitably benefit from ownership as a wealth-building tool.

The BHI agenda was developed in part from recommendations of the Washington State Department of Commerce’s Homeownership Disparities Work Group. That workgroup identified 12 “immediately actionable items” and a list of 27 total recommendations.  

Of the proposals, SKCR leadership expressed particular interest in measures to provide incentives for home sellers to accept offers from purchasers using down payment assistance.

As part of its commitment to help close racial homeownership gaps, SKCR has a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee to foster inclusion in organized real estate and to help educate members on how DEI can be utilized in the everyday practice of real estate. The association is also a host for the Washington Real Estate Fair Housing classes, a required course for license renewal. In 2021, SKCR was selected as one of eight Realtor associations across the country to partner with the National Association of Realtors®(NAR) in a unique mentorship program to assist and encourage careers in real estate for traditionally underrepresented communities. That program pairs an experienced real estate professional with an individual who is interested in careers in various facets of real estate.

In joining BHI, the Realtor association pledged to partner on advocacy issues that overlap with the association’s agenda. SKCR also joined the Coalition for More Housing Choices whose goals include removing barriers to more housing choices, regulatory reform to allow more diverse housing choices, and promoting social and financial equity.

About Seattle King County REALTORS®

The Seattle King CountyREALTORS® is a nonprofit professional trade association whose goals include promoting ethical business practices and supporting policies that preserve and expand real property rights and housing affordability. Based in Bellevue, SKCR has more than 7,700 members and is a local board of the National Association of REALTORS®. The term REALTOR® is a registered collective membership mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.

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