When she’s not working directly with clients, she writes articles to help buyers understand the home-buying process. A couple of years ago, she launched bayareablackrealtors.com, a website that matches Black buyers with agents.
In 2020, nationwide, just 6% of realtors and real estate agents identified as Black while 11% identified as Hispanic.
“I can’t even tell you how infrequently I see another Black listing agent,” Hooks said. “And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been looked at with a side-eye when I show up to sell a home, even in Oakland.”
She continued: “The more people of color that work in real estate on any of these sides of the transactions, the less inequity that buyers of color will feel when they’re going through the buying process or when they’re trying to sell their home.”
While Hooks is dedicated to selling homes to people of color, she has yet to buy one for herself.
“I don’t know if I will ever be able to afford Oakland,” she said. “It’s like the hairdresser whose hair is always messy or the chef who eats macaroni and cheese at home.”
Homeownership is the most common pathway to build wealth in the U.S., but the cost of owning a home is increasingly out of reach for first-time buyers. In August, the average 30-year mortgage rate reached the highest level — 7.23% — in more than two decades, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. High interest rates and low inventory have combined to create a daunting atmosphere for people looking for their starter home.
Hooks’ experience underscores a paradox many would-be Latinx and Black buyers face: Not coming from generational wealth makes it harder to accumulate wealth. From 2011 to 2021, Black homeownership in the Bay Area ranged between 29% and 33%, according to U.S. Census data. For Latinos, the rate ranged between 35% and 39%. At around 60%, both white and Asian households, have the highest homeownership rates in the Bay Area.
Both Latino and Black households in the Bay Area own homes at lower rates than they do statewide or across the country. More often than not, clients come to Hooks excited to shop for a house only to find that they don’t qualify for a mortgage, can’t afford the location they want or simply can’t find any houses in their price ranges.
The Black and Latinx rates are low, but it’s not because they don’t want to own homes, according to Rebecca Gallardo, a Latina realtor in San José for more than 30 years.
“At the end of the day, homeownership for Latinos and African Americans creates not just general generational wealth, but also contributes to the socialization of your family and creates sustainability,” said Gallardo, a former board member for the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals.
In California, more than half of all households — 54.4% — own homes, but Blacks and Latinos are the only demographic groups that have homeowner rates under 50% at 34.5% and 43.2%, respectively. The trend is related to the unaffordable market, according to Jung Hyun Choi, a senior research associate with the Housing Finance Policy Center at the Urban Institute, a think tank focused on economic and social equity.