gibson-felton_web.jpgA national group of black professionals who work in the real-estate industry recently expressed hope that the housing market will rebound soon.

Against this backdrop of hope and recent signs that the real-estate market is stabilizing, the South Florida Board of Realtists on July 23 inducted seven new members.
The group’s biannual Installation Fundraiser took place at the Hallandale Cultural Community Center in Hallandale Beach.

“This organization is at the epicenter of creating wealth in our community,” said Bill Diggs, president and CEO of the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce. “If you’re going to build wealth in the community, it begins and ends with homeownership.”

In spite of the recession and a troubled housing market, many speakers that evening shared Diggs’ passion and optimism for the real-estate industry.

“America is on sale,” said Danny Felton, the group’s new president. “Our opportunities will be many in the years coming.” 

Established in 1986, the organization represents a wide range of professions in the real estate industry – from mortgage brokers to property managers to general contractors.

Though SFBOR was established in the mid-1980s, it is a member of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB), one of the oldest and largest African-American trade associations in America, established in 1947.

Discrimination was so intense at that time that black real-estate professionals were denied the right to hold the title of “Realtor,” so African-American brokers adopted the term, “realtist,” Felton explained. 

In addition to providing a networking opportunity for real-estate industry professionals, the non-profit organization also offers various services to encourage minority homeownership, including pre-purchase, post-purchase and foreclosure prevention counseling.

“Now more than ever, we need an entity that will help educate our community on obtaining access to housing,” said Miami-Dade County School Board member Wilbert “Tee’’ Holloway. 

One of the group’s most notable programs is the Metro Miami Action Plan Housing Assistance Program.  Established in 1994, the program has provided home-ownership opportunities to over 4,700 residents of Miami-Dade County.

Although Felton would not reveal details about future SFBOR programs during his two-year term, he did reveal that the non-profit had recently been chosen to participate in a Neighborhood Stabilization Program.  The program is designed to provide funds to low- and moderate-to-low-income home buyers. It seeks to protect families from foreclosure.

To explain his and SFBOR’s continued focus on assisting home buyers, Felton stated: “It’s not all about the commission that comes with the closing table. It’s about the smile on a person’s face when you help them accomplish the American dream.”

The other members inducted last week are: Gaila Anderson, first vice president; Linda De La Cruz, secretary; Sharon McLennon, treasurer; T.C. Cason, second vice president; Rosalind Smith, assistant secretary; Vincent Burnett, assistant treasurer.

Photo by Khary Bruyning. Miami Gardens Mayor Shirley Gibson, left, and Danny Felton, right.