Partnership shines light on social inequities in real estate ownership

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Who decides what American neighborhoods look like? Who profits from these projects? Real estate developers, brokers, investors, agents and property owners, the overwhelming majority of whom are white. For generations, real estate ownership in the U.S. by people of color was either impossible or severely restricted and still are to this day.

According to the Federal Reserve, whites, who make up almost 60% of the U.S. population, own more than $30 trillion in residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural property. Blacks and Latinos, who together account for more than 30% of the population, own just over $5 trillion.

Nearly three-quarters of white Americans own their own home, compared to 48% of Latinos and 44% of Blacks. In rural areas of the U.S., whites own an astonishing 98% of the land.

Joining Arizona Horizon to discuss the inequities were Mark Stapp, Executive Director at Arizona State University W. P. Carey Master of Real Estate Development, and Hope Sharett, Esq., General Counsel at Arizona State University Enterprise Partners.

“It is important for us to understand that there were federal and municipal laws that prevented primarily people of color from being home owners, from getting mortgages for example, from participating in commercial real estate,” Sharett said. She added, “It is very difficult for communities to catch up.” The real estate field is overwhelmingly made up of white people.

“Real estate exists in this interesting place in our society. It is the nexus between business and society. It is the physical manifestation of a community, and when you’re left out of ownership, of your own community, you don’t have the control that you would have, you don’t have the opportunity, you lack the intergenerational wealth transfer and all of those opportunities,” Stapp said.

One of the solutions is educating the newer generations. A partnership with Arizona State University and Grambling State University, one of the historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU), will help Black students learn the skills needed to work within the real estate field.

Grambling is the first HBCU school to have a real estate program. Stapp said it is critical for students of color to know the real estate field is an option. It is important for young people to have access to the knowledge and education for them be a part of the field.

Sharett said there needs to be more awareness surrounding the inequities. “Our white Americans need to understand some of the history and read up on it,” Sharett said.

Mark Stapp, Executive Director at Arizona State University W. P. Carey Master of Real Estate Development; Hope Sharett, Esq., General Counsel at Arizona State University Enterprise Partners

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