There’s a new black-owned commercial real estate company in town. Here’s why it’s important.


At Greenwood, “we are all former business service specialists who have worked with large companies, and we bring that kind of structure and ethics to the way we are going to approach clients,” said James Pitts, Manager Atlanta office in Greenwood, which has 17 branches across the country. “Everyone will always do what they do in their local market, with some kind of helping hand in Greenwood.”

This “boost” includes domestic and international business relationships derived from office managers’ decades of experience with large corporations, Pitts said.

Talley’s office is located in the New Center district in the Boulevard West building. He’s just the one running the show locally right now, but he plans to build a stable of brokers under the Greenwood flag over the next two years.

This is partly where we come into an important larger context.

The commercial real estate industry is fairly homogeneous, largely populated by white men in the executive ranks, even in a city like Detroit, where the population is over 80% black. (Yes, I know some newsrooms, including mine, are also painfully seamless, and we need to do a lot better to attract, hire, nurture and retain diverse talent across the board.)

Virtually every survey you find on diversity in commercial real estate comes back with a similar result.

For example, Commercial Property Executive reported last year that 2017 research from the Bella Research Group and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation shows that white men hold more than three in four positions in commercial real estate in the United States. Black men hold only 1.3%; white women had 14.1 percent and non-white women less than 1 percent.

I wrote in 2016 about 2013 data from the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, which revealed at the time that white males held 13,773 high-level commercial real estate positions, or 77.6%, up from 178. jobs, or 1.3%, held by black men. White women also held 14.1 percent of senior CRE jobs in this survey (1,948 jobs); Hispanic men, 2.9 percent, or 397 jobs; Asian men, 1.6 percent, or 216 jobs; and non-white women, less than 1% in the CREDA survey as well.

Last year, BisNow describes the brokerage climate nationwide this summer, following the protests after the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis as follows:

“American brokerage firms – the fat in the wheels of commercial real estate, employing hundreds of thousands of people and generating tens of billions of dollars in annual revenue – have issued public statements in support of Black Lives Matter, s ‘Committing to do more and better and to increase donations to diversity groups within the industry, “the publication writes.” Many have said little and are not committed to anything. Despite the reach of these companies, considerable capital and massive numbers of employees, the vast majority of their most powerful decision-makers are white males. “

The problem persists in virtually every facet of commercial real estate, from brokerage to development, architecture to financing for a variety of reasons ranging from ineffective recruiting strategies to systemic racial issues.

Pitts believes Greenwood CRE will help black people enter commercial real estate.

“We’ll be able to bring people into the industry,” Pitts said. “To be frank, it’s been hard to get business from the big companies because you have to work with the global companies. So now there seems to be a window of opportunity with the companies that are very intentional with who they are. are working, and that provides one for people who have been waiting for a long time to have a turn to play. We want to make sure that other people behind us also have a turn to play. “

Talley is also considering the generational implications.

“I think that’s really the key,” Talley said. “What really struck me when I started having conversations with James was a responsibility now. I see this as a responsibility. These kids really admire us, # 1 because we’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. years and we have had success. We raise our families, send our kids to great schools and things of that nature. It’s a great career. It’s not easy, but if we can pave the way for others, that’s what really attracted me.


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