• Mon. Nov 28th, 2022

Black Sacramentans struggle – and get help

ByWillie M. Evans

Aug 19, 2022

The local real estate industry is working to increase Black homeownership, which remains the lowest of any demographic group

By Keyshawn Davis

Three years ago, Elizabeth Peters, a single mother of one, embarked on a 10-month journey to find a house to buy in Sacramento.

The trip was daunting, says Peters, now 33, as many investors outbid his properties until his real estate agent found a program through NeighborWorks Sacramento that offered down payment assistance. The program helped Peters buy a home that suited her and her son well, and she closed the house in mid-March 2020.

“Then a crazy life event happened,” Peters says.

Peters bought her house on March 13, 2020 – and her mother underwent emergency surgery the same day. Peters was caring for her mother after she was released from hospital, so she couldn’t move in until June.

Earlier that year, his sister was diagnosed with stage 4 cervical cancer. In October 2020, his sister passed away, leaving behind her children. Peters now takes care of her nephews, and she had to sell her house because she needed a bigger one to accommodate her large family. This meant breaking the NeighborWorks contract, which provides $20,000 for a down payment and closing costs; but the person must live in the house for five years for the loan to be forgiven.

Although she had to break a contract, Peters says she was grateful to have found a bigger house in a better neighborhood, with the help of her agent Sydni Chattman, and is happy with the resolution.

Peters is a black landlord. According to US census, in the first quarter of 2022, black homeownership rates in the United States are the lowest of all demographic groups at 44.7%. White households have a homeownership rate of 74.5%. In Sacramento, the Rate of black owners is 31.3% compared to white ownership at 65.6%.

But there are concerted efforts to help close this gap. In 2018, the National Association of Realtors launched a initiative to increase black home ownership called 2Mn5 – which refers to securing two million more black homeowners in five years to help black Americans gain economic security through homeownership, activism, advocacy, education and community awareness. NAREB’s local work is done through the Sacramento Realtist Association.

Representation in real estate matters

Elizabeth Peters has had to buy a bigger house to accommodate her growing family, which includes her son and nephews, whom she is raising following the death of her sister. (Photo by Zina Austin, courtesy of Elizabeth Peters)

Keisha Mathews, broker and owner of Mathews & Co. Real Estate Group, and a member of the Sacramento Realtist Association, has worked in real estate for 18 years. Mathews is also a radio host with a show on 97.5FM KDEE called “Selling Sacramento”, where she educates the African-American community about homeownership opportunities.

With the numbers as low as they are in Sacramento, real estate agents are trying several ways to increase black homeownership in Sacramento. These agents focused on working alongside homebuyers to help find loans for down payment assistance, how to access credit and learn about the market.

“So my show covers home ownership,” Mathews says. “We have a show that talks about building financial wealth, we have a show that talks about legal and state issues. Lots of different shows that touch on these topics that bring this information directly to the black community but put it in a method or package in a way that we can understand it.

Mathews says she brings in guests who help demystify some of the challenges, stereotypes or misconceptions people might have about the home buying process. One of the ways to increase black homeownership is to ensure there is increased representation in real estate, Mathews says. Improving representation not only means more black agents, but also the number of black brokers, appraisers, inspectors, and title and escrow agents must increase.

Ryan Lundquist of the Sacramento-based appraisal firm Lundquist says a huge challenge for all first-time home buyers is that Sacramento has been soaring in price. “It’s very expensive to buy property right now,” he says. “So I think affordability is a barrier. In Sacramento County, according to the California Association of Realtors, about 34% of households can afford the median price.

These numbers are based on the last quarter, according to Lundquist, and “that number keeps dropping, where there are fewer people who can play in the market.” Rising inflation and high mortgage rates also contribute to the challenge for potential buyers.

Chattman, who helped Peters get into a home, has been a licensed realtor for seven years and works for Big Block Realty North in Sacramento. Chattman says education is one of the ways she helps increase black homeownership.

“I’m constantly sharing information, creative ways to get homeownership; last week or the week before, I talked about a program called NACA, which is the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, a non-profit organization…with over $10 billion in funding,” Chattman said. . Founded in 1988, NACA is the nation’s largest housing services organization, with more than 30 offices nationwideincluding an office in Sacramento.

“There’s no down payment, no closing costs, no fees, and your interest rate will also be below market,” Chattman says. “So that’s one of the benefits of the program is that you don’t have to pay anything to buy your house.”

Peters, as a first-time home buyer, says his advice to people who might be reluctant to own a home is to seek out programs that offer financial assistance, like NACA or NeighborWorks. “People think they have to have this huge amount of money to buy a house. [That’s] not necessarily true,” she says.

Overcome “impostor syndrome”

Sydni Chatman. Photograph by Rahul Lal

Melissa Muganzo Murphy is another first-time homebuyer Chattman has helped. Murphy became a homeowner in August 2020 at the age of 32 and owns a newly built three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom home in Rancho Cordova with a garage and patio. She is the first in her immediate family to own a home.

Murphy, who is black, met Chattman in 2017 and told him that she and his wife were looking to buy a house and would like to have Chattman as their agent.

“I grew up in an apartment,” Murphy says. “I grew up as a tenant. My mother grew up in a detached house, she always rented. So the thought of owning a home was actually really overwhelming. I thought I was too young or not the right person. I also thought home ownership was a white people game.

Murphy’s advice to potential new homeowners is that everyone should try owning their own home, as home ownership is a long-term investment, rather than losing money on rent. And while the process of getting a new home was initially overwhelming for the couple because they suffered from “impostor syndrome” about owning a home, Murphy says, over time, they realized they could handle it.

“Is it going to be more expensive than an apartment? Can we handle maintenance? And then we also heard all these horror stories about home ownership,” Murphy says. “So we were so overwhelmed and nervous. And then Sydni said, ‘You can really do this. And here’s how you do it.

This story is part of Resolve Sacramento collaborative journalism. In 2022, we are focused on finding solutions to the affordable housing problem in the Sacramento metro area. Solving Sacramento is a project of the Local Media Foundation with support from the Solutions Journalism Network. Our partners include California Groundbreakers, Capital Public Radio, Outword, Russian America Media, Sacramento Business Journal, Sacramento News & Review, and Sacramento Observer.