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By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
VINELAND – With real estate and home ownership remaining as one of the keys to gaining wealth in this country, realtors like Tracey Harris stands at the precipice for African Americans and other homeowners of color in South Jersey.
While the coronavirus pandemic took its toll on many industries, historic lows in mortgage interest rates help spur a property buying boon – except for African Americans. According to the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, home ownerships for Whites during the COVID-19 pandemic increased by 0.8%, from 73.7% to 74.5%.
For Blacks, though, the homeownership was essentially flat, going from 44% to 44.1%.
Realtors like Harris, with 24 years in the business, are rare gems in the housing market. In a 2017 study by the National Association of Realtors, Black realtors made up 7% of the industry while Whites made up 74%.
In Front Runner New Jersey.com's Business column "5 Questions," Harris talks about how she has discovered the value of property ownership and how her role as a real estate agent is giving people a new look into an industry they did not see themselves in.
"I know it is extremely important to have Black role models in business," Harris told Front Runner New Jersey. "When I was growing up, I didn’t know that there were positions in real estate. I could not have known what I wanted to do with my life because I had never seen anyone doing it. My grandparents in Virginia were sharecroppers and my other grandparents tried to make it in the city doing factory work.
"It is my generation’s task to take that ball and run with it; to be the very best we can be in whatever we choose to do since the playing field was opened to us. … I hold it down within the real estate industry – owning real estate is imperative to building generational wealth and homeownership is where we all start. I am here to teach, protect and serve my clients of all races. However, I realize my small part in the long history of Black people’s struggle for equality and financial prosperity so I choose to teach all who are willing to listen."
Harris said she is proud of African Americans across professions and careers who took a stand for social justice and against police brutality when George Floyd was killed in 2020 and even more healthcare professionals during the coronavirus pandemic, but there is more work to be done.
Harris's answers to FRNJ's "5 Questions" are inspiring, enlightening and encouraging. She also sounds like a pretty good person to buy a house from.
The Tracey Harris Profile
Name: Tracey Harris
Name of Business: Realtor, Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate | Maturo and Housing and Economic Development Manager for Gateway Community Action Partnership
Address: BHGRE – 1179 East Landis Avenue, Vineland; Gateway CAP – 110 Cohansey Street, Bridgeton
Years in business: Licensed Real Estate Salesperson since 1997
Specialize in: Selling properties - Marketing is one specialty; Gets your home sold uickly; Most Prominent Agent Award 2021. Investors – My experience and degrees gives me the ability to evaluate potential in properties
Contact info: Text/Cell 856-904-5934, Email TraceyHarrisRE@outlook.com, Facebook|Instagram BHGRealEstateLady
1. What made you become a business owner?
Tracey Harris: My ability to take risks in life made me become a business owner. You have to have a vision and a mission. On day one, you have no income but you envision what it could be. Your dream fuels you to take that risk in hopes of reaching goals larger than what you could reach working for someone else. I am a business owner because I see it as a way to obtain all of my hopes and dreams. It also allows me to continuously hope, dream and envision a future that is created by my hard work and imagination.
2. Why did you select your current field?
Tracey Harris: I discovered my passion for real estate when I got my first property management job back in 1996 at the old Prudential building in Millville. Since LUCK is when PREPARATION meets OPPORTUNITY, I did the coursework and testing to become a licensed Real Estate Salesperson. I was only a property coordinator at the time but was preparing myself to be ready for a Property Manager role in the future. The Prudential building closed and the property management job ended. I began selling real estate. I loved it AND I was good at it. I have never looked back!
3. What do you enjoy the most about being a business owner?
Tracey Harris: The thing I love most about being a business owner is that I am able to prioritize my own life. Don’t get me wrong, I work really hard. Some days I work from the moment I wake up at 5 am and am still not done it all at midnight that night. However, my son is also a priority in my life. On busy days, I can bring him to work with me. He has played different sports and I have never missed a game. I am also his role model and he says that it is pretty cool to have a mom that is a businesswoman like me!
4. How important is it for you to have positive Black role models in business?
Tracey Harris: I know it is extremely important to have Black role models in the business. When I was growing up, I didn’t know that there were positions in real estate; I could not have known what I wanted to do with my life because I had never SEEN anyone doing it. My grandparents in Virginia were sharecroppers and my other grandparents tried to make it in the city doing factory work. They struggled to do well in spite of segregation and racism. My parents, aunts and uncles were in K-12 school when schools were desegregated. It was hard on them but they fought that struggle for us. My parents are both college graduates and did well for themselves but did so during our people’s fight for civil rights and equality for all. My parent’s generation broke new ground in Black people’s ability to flourish without having their property and money stolen. Their generation made way for me and my generation to go out and decide on any of the many varied fields within the world that we choose. It is my generation’s task to take that ball and run with it; to be the very best we can be in whatever we choose to do since the playing field was opened to us. I was proud to see Black politicians, law makers, lawyers at the fore front when George Floyd was murdered. Black scientist, doctors, nurses and other medical professionals tackle the challenges we face during this COVID pandemic. Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett is the Black scientist at the forefront of the COVID vaccine development. I hold it down within the real estate industry – owning real estate is imperative to building generational wealth and homeownership is where we all start. I am here to teach, protect and serve my clients of all races. However, I realize my small part in the long history of Black people’s struggle for equality and financial prosperity so I choose to teach all who are willing to listen. In addition, all of the Black youth who are trying to figure out what they want to do in life now have a face that looks like theirs in every industry in the world. Having Black role models in business will give our youth the ability to dream of flourishing in any field they choose with their God given abilities and shatter every glass ceiling out there!
5. Anything else would you like to add?
Tracey Harris: In January 2022, I am still going to be a Real Estate Salesperson but have taken on a role as Gateway Community Action Partnership’s Housing and Economic Development Manager. I accepted the position because it perfectly pairs with my role as a real estate salesperson but will supercharge my ability to help individuals while also adding an ability to help transform communities around south Jersey! As always, call or text me if you need a trustworthy, hardworking, professional Realtor to buy or sell a property BUT keep an eye out for me igniting transformational community endeavors near you too.
Question: Should More Blacks and People of Color Get Involved in Real Estate? Why of Why Not? Respond in the Discussion Section Below.
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