By Ingrid Ferlo –
A house is a home but it is also a symbol of stability and security and a necessity for a family.
For many in the African-American community, however, attaining a home poses challenges. Minnesota has a history of geographical racial segregation that still informs its present day real estate market.
On “Conversations with Al McFarlane” radio show, recently real estate agents from Re/Max, Carmen McAfee and Michael Spicer discussed the importance of owning a home and issues that Africa- American families in particular, experience when trying to buy a home. The show airs live every Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. on KFAI and reaches world-wide audiences on www.kfai.org.
McAfee said that the current real estate climate is very favorable for home owners.
“The market is right for you (home sellers),” said McAfee.
Spicer said the African-American community took it the hardest during the home foreclosure crisis on 2008 depleting an already low number of Minnesota Black home owners.
Sen. Bobby Joe Champion participated on the show via a phone call and offered a side note on home ownership for the African-American community.
“Some of the guiding principles that I try to live by is wealth creation that we can enjoy now and leave for our children as generational wealth,” said Champion, who said he strongly believes that a house is a foundation for any other wealth a family will acquire.
Champion said education and home ownership are two inheritances that can place African-American’s on a path to success. As a politician, he says when it comes to home ownership, the market needs to consider the specific needs of the different minority communities and empower them with the right resources for them to create the wealth they need.
Spicer emphasized the importance of being an educated home buyer.
“Buy something that you can definitely afford,” said Spicer, who believes it is in the best interest of people to buy within their means and not necessarily the biggest home.
Mohamad Kaly, a Somali radio entrepreneur who has been living in the United States for more than 20 years, offered a view of the real estate needs of newly-arrived Somali immigrants.
“Right now the toughest thing we are going through is that we have big families,” said Kaly. He said that currently developers focus on selling small homes and that poses a problem for Somali families.
Spicer agreed that finding bigger houses are a problem because a three bedroom house would be the biggest a developer would undertake. He advised big families to look outside the cities and in the suburbs to find bigger houses. According to Kaly, although there is that option, Somali families also have the problem of transportation if they move into the suburbs.
Show co-host Carmen Robles spoke about owning property in Puerto Rico, stating that there was a high value placed on owning land on the island. She said it should be a priority for younger people to own their homes.
Spicer said the underlying factor in home ownership is employment but said owning rather than renting should be the ultimate goal.
“You have to buy a home in most cases to really start building wealth,” said Spicer, saying homes can help someone attain liquid cash for specific purposes, such as college. “Home ownership, it helps in many ways, and it is definitely something you need to do.”