This 21-year veteran takes it extremely seriously when it comes to real estate. Owning a home is perhaps the single most important investment to those looking to realize the American Dream. We recently caught up with Stephany DeBerry of EXP Realty for an exclusive interview. Stephany is one of the top producing agents in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Her brand slogan is “Stephany Sells The DMV” (DC/Maryland/Virginia). In addition, she stands above and beyond through her work as a community advocate, certified mentor, coach, speaker and media host.
How long have you been in the industry, and what led you into the industry?
I have been working in the real estate industry for twenty-one years. After my wedding, I took a position in property management. I would say that my former husband introduced me to becoming a real estate agent. I was employed in the auto industry at that time, and he was a realtor. I became a licensed Realtor fifteen years ago, serving clients throughout the Washington DC metro area, including DC, MD & VA.
Do you see a rise/increase in people of color coming into the industry? What about among Black women?
People are always studying to become agents, passing the exams, and getting licensed. Personally, I have seen an influx of women of color entering the industry. It’s refreshing!
What makes you stand out as a Real Estate agent?
There are several reasons why I know I am a standout in this industry that is flooded with two million agents. I believe that my commitment to my professional growth, development, and success has helped me become the change I want to see in this industry. I have taken my experiences and expertise and shared them with my colleagues as a mentor and a coach.
Eighty percent of agents leave the industry after two years. The average income of an agent is much less than what most people think. I have surpassed the industry standards. When working with my clients, serving in excellence is paramount. Being proactive and addressing their needs before they arise helps maintain seamless transactions.
My communication style is second to none. In this age of technology, I understand the importance of effective and timely communication with my clients in a manner that works best for them. I can’t always send a text message when I am working on the biggest investment of most people’s lives. Some conversations warrant a phone call. I love this industry because I build meaningful relationships with clients, colleagues, and industry partners. I am a connector of people. I am known as a resource in the community—a solutions provider.
You are strongly vested in providing ample education for your clients and potential clients. Why is this so important to you?
Knowledge is power. My initial consultation with clients starts with education. As their professional advisor, I believe it is my duty to make sure that my clients thoroughly understand the process from start to finish. Some of my clients are first-generation and first-time buyers who trust me to assist them successfully through the transaction. Although I provide my expertise and insight, they understand that they are in control of their dealings. When I take time to educate my clients and answer questions, it helps them become more empowered and confident. A confident client is typically less stressed and a happier client.
What are some facts and/or stats that you still find appalling when it comes to Blacks and homeownership?
The current rate of black homeownership hovers between 44-45% compared to almost 80% of white Americans. That means that less than half of African Americans across the country owns their own home. The numbers are disheartening. This is where we were over fifty years ago during the Civil Rights era. Almost 20 % of Black mortgage applicants were denied mortgages in 2020 versus almost 11% of white applicants. As far as homeownership, we are lagging. There is still so much work to do. I, as well as other industry partners, are committed to assisting our communities across the country to increase the rate of Black Homeownership.
Can you share the top essentials that African Americans need to know when it comes to real estate acquisition?
One of the most important tips I would like to share is that buyers need to act sooner. Meaning, spend less time talking about owning a home and more time invested in taking the initial steps. Time is money in this current market. Buyers sit and discuss their plans with friends and family. Take those same discussions to professional real estate agents and lenders. Get the process started sooner than later. You’ll be glad that you did. Thank me later.
The home buying process should not be feared. Often, I help people overcome anxiety and their lack of education concerning the process. I cannot stress enough the importance of education and alignment with industry professionals that will properly guide them through the process. We are here to support their dream of homeownership.
The big C, credit is a big deal. It’s why mortgage loan applications get denied. In some instances, potential buyers will need to come out of their comfort zones. No one grows in their comfort zone. We’re leaving old patterns, and thought processes behind that have not served them well. They will need to address financial obligations and other concerns that have been allowed to linger previously. It’s ok. It’s a new day!
Owning a home is an investment. It is not FREE. You will need to make a monetary investment; have some skin in the game. Even if you qualify for grants and other programs, you still need access to savings, cash, etc. It does not matter what anyone else has shared with you. No money down does not mean cash is not required to purchase a house. I pride myself on helping clients thrive in homeownership, not merely survive. I help my clients understand the importance of having the financial means to secure their property for years to come.
One last tip, make sure to preorder my e-book, Ten Steps To H.O.M.E, that will be available for sale just in time for the Spring market.
What will it take for us to close the wealth gap from your perspective?
By increasing the rate of Black homeownership, we will begin to see a decline in the wealth gap. However, minimizing the wealth gap will take time and work throughout the system that was designed for us not to succeed in the first place.
I do believe that there are some aspects of increasing the odds for success that are within your grasp. Take responsibility for things that you can control by taking an assessment. Let’s start with mindset. What are your thoughts regarding homeownership? Has lack shaped thoughts regarding homeownership? Do you understand that homeownership can help us create a generational wealth legacy?
Next, let’s look at financial literacy. It’s not necessarily taught in schools, but you should take the initiative to equip yourself with the information you need to become financially savvy. Owning a home can be one aspect of your wealth-building portfolio. Are you spending more than you’re saving? Do you know how to create a budget? I just recently participated in a money management webinar for middle and high school students. Starting education early is key. Maintaining good credit is vital. Without a strong credit score, you cannot obtain a traditional mortgage loan.
Taking control of our finances is a crucial first step in helping to minimize the wealth gap.
Do you have any final remarks on what you want us to know in terms of the message that you want to convey?
The American Dream of homeownership should be attainable for all people. Currently, Black Americans are in last place, with less than half of us owning homes. Your dream of buying a home to create stability for your family and a means of financial security can be realized when you partner with professionals to help you through the process. Get out the starting block by contacting a real estate professional today. Then, leverage your support system and additional resources to help you cross the finish line as a homeowner in 2022.
Who inspires you, and who do you look to for mentorship?
I am inspired by those that have come before me and by my industry colleagues. I work with some amazing people in this industry. I love the creativity amongst my agent peers and their passion for success.
How can someone connect with you/your company?
I can be reached at:
Photo Courtesy of Stephany DeBerry