Rochester Area Realtor Group Aims To Boost Black Homeownership | New


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  • Tysharda Thomas of New 2 U Homes is Co-Head of the New Black Caucus of the Greater Rochester Association of Realtors.

Tysharda Thomas jokes that she got into real estate because of her husband.

Brandon Thomas had bought and flipped a few homes over the years, but at some properties he had encountered electrical issues, plumbing issues, and other complications. This would change over time as he learned by experience. In these cases, however, someone was probably aware of the issues but did not explain them to her husband.

“No one was looking after him,” Thomas said.

Thomas, real estate agent since 2008, is now looking for buyers. She and her husband own New 2 U Homes and one of Thomas’ passions is helping first-time homebuyers navigate the process.

But full-service brokerage, which primarily represents buyers, occupies another niche. The Thomases are black, as are about 90% of their customers, Thomas said.

“People are comfortable with people who have had some of the experiences they have had, people who are like them,” Thomas said.

Thomas is co-chair of the new Black Caucus of the Greater Rochester Association of Realtors, a title she shares with Robin Wilt, another real estate agent and member of the Brighton Town board. The caucus was formed to provide black real estate agents at all stages of their careers with support and advice, but also to boost home ownership for blacks and Latinos, which lags behind whites. and Asians.

Last month, the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, which bills itself as the oldest minority real estate trade association in the United States, released a report on the state of housing in black America. The report noted that black homeownership rates are higher than they were a century ago, when redlining and racial alliances in action prevented blacks from living in some communities. But he also said that nationally, less than 45% of black households own their homes, compared to 75% of white households.

“Blacks have made little, if any, progress in closing the disparate ownership gap between those of our white counterparts,” Lydia Pope, president of the association, wrote in the report. “Systemic discriminatory regulations and policies continue to thwart any meaningful effort to close the homeownership gap. “

In 2020, about 35% of black loan seekers were turned down by lenders, compared to 23% of white applicants, according to the National Association of Real Estate Brokers. Of the nearly 450,000 applications submitted by potential black borrowers in 2020, just under 300,000 were approved.

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Tysharda Thomas has been a real estate agent since 2008 and often serves as an agent for buyers.  - PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH

  • Tysharda Thomas has been a real estate agent since 2008 and often serves as an agent for buyers.

The report also highlighted issues such as flawed credit score models and higher mortgage prices “which penalize blacks for the forced economic deprivation they have suffered.”

Rochester’s nine-county region almost mirrors the national image.

Among white households, 75% own their home, a figure that drops to 55% among Asians, 35% among Latinos and 32% among blacks, according to data compiled by ACT Rochester, a Rochester Area initiative. Community Foundation.

“Since the Fair Housing Act of 1968, we haven’t gone that far,” said Thomas. “When you look at the numbers in Rochester, we don’t own a lot, we rent and we want to change that. “


It wasn’t the basketball court or in-ground pool that drove 38-year-old Tyrees Cray to buy his gray two-story, four-bedroom home in a cul-de-sac in Gates last February. That was the practical thing: the two-car garage, first-floor utility room, fireplace, and unobstructed line of sight from the kitchen to the TV – the setup is perfect for entertaining, Cray noted.

She was also influenced by the space between the rooms. In her previous apartment, her youngest son’s bedroom was right next to hers and loud sounds, such as the hubbub of video games, were bleeding through the walls. In her new house, her son’s room is at the end of the hall.

“It really is a great home for a first-time person with the things I was looking for,” Cray said. “The pool and basketball court were pluses and my son was excited, but they weren’t on my list. It’s just a really nice house in a great neighborhood. “

Cray is black, and when she began the home buying process, she sought out an experienced black agent. She said she wanted someone seasoned because this was her first time buying a house and she had a lot of questions. She wanted a black agent because of her shared experience and was told about New 2 U Homes from a friend who had bought a house through the agency.

Before Cray started looking for homes last year, she had told her grandparents and father about her decision and they warned her that it might be difficult for her to buy. She had a defect on her credit rating which she said was due to helping a friend in the past.

A black agent, she thought, would likely have a much better understanding of potential obstacles and ideas on how to overcome them. Thomas walked her through the process, from fixing her credit to what to look for when she looked at homes. When they visited the house Cray had bought, they both knew it was the right one.

“She was there the whole way,” Cray said of Thomas.


Historically, the real estate industry has played a major role in the segregation of communities across the United States. The New Deal era home loan programs and the subsequent federally sanctioned redlining provided the means.

In the 1950s, as a wave of black migrants settled in Rochester from the south, industry and banks directed them to two of the city’s old neighborhoods, areas we now know as from Corn Hill and the Plymouth-Exchange district.

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Tysharda Thomas shows a house for sale in Greece.  - PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH

  • Tysharda Thomas shows a house for sale in Greece.

The late black journalist Howard Coles, who published the Frederick Douglass Voice newspaper for 60 years, has devoted many pages to calls for better housing in the city and an end to discrimination against homebuyers . He also worked as a real estate agent for a time, and in 1960 resigned from the Rochester Housing Commission to protest protocols black realtors had to follow when showing homes, such as limiting visits to nights and evenings.

The Black Caucus aims to build on this legacy in part by educating real estate professionals about current and historical barriers to homeownership for blacks. On November 9, co-leader Wilt was part of a panel convened by PathStone, a nonprofit community development organization, which discussed the devaluation of black houses.

Thomas assumes that she speaks with four or five people a month who are interested in entering the real estate profession and says that she acts as a kind of mentor to them. She will guide them through the process of obtaining their real estate licenses and discuss the importance of maintaining relationships with banks and other businesses.

The caucus, she hopes, will provide black real estate professionals with the means to overcome or deal with some of the difficulties they will encounter, which could include discrimination from sellers or persistent and damaging stereotypes about it. black work ethic.

“It’s always one of those things where we always have to do better,” Thomas said. “Even if we do the exact same job, we still have to prove ourselves. “

Jeremy Moule is the editor-in-chief of CITY. He can be reached at [email protected]

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