Meet NAREB President Donnell Spivey: Looking to increase black home ownership


June is National Home Ownership Month. The goal of the month-long initiative is to develop programs and incentives to help every American citizen realize the dream of homeownership. Donnell Spivey is the president of NAREB (The National Association of Real Estate Brokers). Spivey was elected to a two-year term in 2013, and has been a Real Estate agent for nearly 30 years.

“Homeownership is so important to our community because it makes us feel more inclusive,” said Spivey. “I believe that if we are more included in our community, we value our community more. The importance of homeownership needs to be the focus of any city – especially amongst the African American community.”

He added, “Many of the homebuyers I service are first-generation buyers who did not have the luxury of a father, great grandfather, or other relative to talk to them about the importance, nor the value of homeownership. This is why NAREB started the State of Housing in Black America (SHIBA). We believe that the lack of education has kept a lot of the African American people out of homeownership.”

NAREB was formed in 1947 by chartered African American real estate professionals out of a need to secure the right to equal housing opportunities, regardless of race, creed, or color. For more than 60 years, NAREB has participated in meaningful legal challenges and has supported legislative initiatives that ensure the availability of fair and affordable housing for all Americans. NAREB has local chapters across the country, who embrace the ideals and mission of “promoting democracy in housing.”

According to Spivey, SHIBA efforts includes sponsoring homeownership events across the country.

“These events focus on educating the real estate professional and the consumers,” said Spivey. Since 2014, we have put on 12 events in various places across the country including Detroit, Miami, Chicago, Prince Georges, Maryland, San Francisco, Boston and Philadelphia. Five more are scheduled between now and August.”

He added, “Our first SHIBA event was held at New Shiloh Baptist Church in Baltimore. I attend New Shiloh. Close to 200 people attended. This event was comprised of workshops with topics that included credit scores, retirement, homeownership, stocks, and wealth building. The response from these events have been tremendous, and we will continue to present them.”

Spivey talked about the importance of homeownership.

“Homeownership is something we need to focus on – especially in the African-American community,” said Spivey. “It is our number one way of building wealth. African American people need to build generational wealth. We use the equity in our homes for many things. These things include sending our kids to college, starting a business, and to pass wealth on to our children.”

Spivey is the broker/owner of Exit Spivey Professional Realty in Ellicott City. He also talked about how America’s foreclosure crisis hurt the black community.

“Many former homeowners lost their homes during the foreclosure crisis,” said Spivey. “Our community was preyed on to get them to refinance into exotic loans. Many people, refinanced, pulled their equity out, and got an ARM (Adjustable Rate Mortgage.) When the market and rate changed, they could not afford the payments or could not refinance their homes because the value had gone down.”

He continued, “Many former homeowners have become reluctant to purchase a home today. Many who lost their homes have gone into the rental market. The rental housing market has skyrocketed. The high rent people are paying now is also preventing them for saving money to make another housing purchase.”

Through SHIBA, efforts are underway to help restore black homeownership.

“One out of five African-Americans lost their home during the foreclosure crisis,” said Spivey. “As a result, the black community lost about 55 percent of their wealth. In 2013, we presented these statistics to the Congressional Black Caucus. This is why we started SHIBA.”

Spivey said other efforts include changing the Credit and FICO Score Models, and to stop FHA (Federal Housing Administration) loans from charging mortgage insurance for the life of the loan. Typically, an FHA loan is one of the easiest types of mortgage loans to qualify for because it requires a low down payment.

“With the FHA, the mortgage insurance would continue until you pay the entire loan off,” said Spivey. “Paying mortgage insurance for the life of the loan hinders buyers from building wealth because they are paying money for insurance that does not benefit them.”

He added, “After presenting statistics to the Congressional Black Caucus, we said we were going to stop talking about it and come up with solutions – and that solution was education. The ultimate outcome is to increase homeownership rate in the African-American community.”