As NAREB explores creating networks within faith communities to further its 2Mn5 program to increase homeownership in the African-American community, it should orient itself toward a relationship-building mode. Realtists should not approach houses of worship or other faith-based organizations with the goal of gaining clients but rather establishing programming that can advance the standard of living based on community needs. This relationship is a long-term investment, not a short-term transaction.
STEP ONE: Demonstrate Respect
Before organizations and their leadership will be willing to extend trust to a new partner, they will often begin by ensuring that potential partners are respectful. Respect in this sense generally means that an individual shows deference to community norms, is knowledgeable, both about the community and about themselves and their work, and is articulate, both in painting a picture that explains values, roles, skills and contributions but also in disclosing purpose and interest.
STEP TWO: Build trust with faith leaders and their congregations and/or membership.
Building trust and showing your commitment to community development and advancement is critical to establishing a relationship that can lead to future homeownership.
STEP THREE: Implement a community needs assessment to determine the barriers to homeownership within the local community.
Every locality is different and each has different needs, challenges, barriers and competencies. Once trust is established, work with local faithbased institutions to survey their population to determine what is hindering homeownership rates as well as what has been successful in improving the ability of community members to purchase property in the past. By conducting a needs assessment, you will be able to deliver programming, services and training that is tailored to the particular needs of that community.
STEP FOUR: Offer programming and training or consult on creating new connections that can raise the capacity of communities to purchase property.
Once you have established yourself as a trusted partner, create a menu of options that can help build the capacity of a population to purchase property. Some ideas for potential programming and network creation include:
- Create an inventory of first-time home buyer assistance programs in the area and provide a training on how to access them.
- Create an inventory of down-payment assistance programs in the area and provide a training on how to access them.
- Provide financial literacy classes or locate some that are already provided in the area.
- Provide credit repair programs or locate some that are already provided in the area.
- Provide a training on budgeting for homeownership.
- Implement a training on debt-to-income ratio and predatory lending.
- Provide classes on selling your home, including lessons on how to stage your home for prospective buyers.
By becoming a community advancement partner and working to enhance the capacity of populations to establish wealth, you can not only advance your business, but you do so while increasing the vitality and health of a community.