February is Black History Month.
This month is a time to honor African Americans and raise awareness of black history.
While this month should hopefully be a celebration of achievements, it is also a time to bring awareness. And, for the South Bay, there have been barriers, thanks to real estate restrictions, from having a more robust, positive history to share during Black History Month.
We can learn a lot from our local history and take time to reflect on how to make our world – and South Bay neighborhoods – more inclusive.
For this week’s blog, I plan to share local content as a resource to you, additional local history (unfortunately ugly), professional experiences, and new real estate laws hoping to make a difference.
BLM: A Glimpse into Local Real Estate History (Recap)
If you have been reading my blog for 20 months or longer, then you’ll remember my June 2020 post: “Black Lives Matter: A Glimpse into Local Real Estate History.”
I strongly encourage you to stop reading, click the link, and re-read (or read) that post. Seriously, stop now and read it.
You’ll find a brief history on the evolution of real estate in Southern California from the early 1900s to the 1968 Civil Rights Act / Fair Housing Act of 1968 which is shockingly just 54-years-old.
From intentional restrictive housing in Los Angeles to the South Bay, this unfortunate history has caused systemic racism (conscious and unconscious) that lives with us today in our real estate markets.
Please take the time to read the June 2020 post and below I will go deeper into South Bay topics.
El Segundo’s “Black in Mayberry”
We should all listen and learn from our community.
To truly try and understand what your fellow South Bay black neighbors may experience daily, then look no further than “Black in Mayberry,” a documentary on experiences from black residents in El Segundo.
Not only awarded “Best Documentary” from the Marina del Rey Film Festival, but it is wonderful film that is absolutely worth an hour of your time.
Watch the trailer here: https://www.blackinmayberry.com/
Watch the full documentary here: https://www.blackinmayberry.com/watch-the-film
I encourage you to listen to other’s experiences in our South Bay community where everyday life can be a bit more complicated than what many are used to experiencing ourselves. “Black in Mayberry” is a great place to begin that journey.
If you would like to hear further conversation on the Documentary, there was a panel discussion hosted by the El Segundo Museum of Art. This was a fabulous community Zoom event last year to add additional context to the film and the South Bay.
You can watch that YouTube link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2HxYIJrgPms
Consider reserving time to watch “Black in Mayberry” and the community panel.
Palos Verdes Corporation’s Racist History
One of the gems of the South Bay, and certainly one of the most desired real estate markets throughout the pandemic, the Palos Verdes Peninsula is not exempt from a racist real estate history.
During my research of a title report on an escrow closed in Rancho Palos Verdes last year (2021), I was disheartened to find specific racially restrictive covenants recorded on the property.
What’s more, the restrictive language was recorded by Palos Verdes’ founding real estate company – The Palos Verdes Corporation.
The Palos Verdes Corporation was responsible for a massive chunk of development on the Palos Verdes Hill. If racially restrictive language was recorded by The Hill’s largest developer (and signed by its acting President, at the time, and likely in its other developments) how many properties throughout Palos Verdes were essentially impossible to own for people of color?
This is an ugly and unfortunate past that has shaped Palos Verdes real estate and something that residents should understand, acknowledge, and work to bring equity for all who desire to live in beautiful Palos Verdes.
With this being a heavy and detailed topic, I plan to do a deep dive on this racially restrictive language on my second February podcast. I hope you’ll tune in to hear the actual verbiage of the racially restrictive language, when it was recorded, and further research of how it may have shaped real estate in Palos Verdes.
My Professional Experiences
I have also come to grips with conscious and unconscious biases in work with black clients buying and selling residential property. Not just of my own, but of the marketplace.
For example, early in my career a client discussed removing all family pictures because of, sadly, potential conscious/unconscious biases that may come of selling their home with buyers seeing black ownership.
My naiveté was apparent years ago with my response advising the client that the South Bay was a progressive, safe place free from prejudice, and while they could do as they chose with pictures on the walls, I did not believe it would affect the result of selling their property.
Knowing what I know today that advice was steeped in a misguided opinion and that our current world is still an unfair challenge to people of color. My clients’ concerns should have been addressed with more vigor, compassion, and ultimately a plan in place to address that question and create an action plan (or acknowledgment) to their 100% satisfaction. By brushing off the South Bay as color-blind, I failed in my job to address clients’ concern and potentially mitigate that item to achieve top dollar for their home.
And, that is something I vow never to repeat.
As far as anecdotal evidence regarding conscious/unconscious bias in our South Bay real estate marketplace, during listings for black clients, I have a long list of experiences where it seems clear to me that we, as a community, still have a lot of work to do to eliminate implicit bias.
These are hard topics, and I am not a good enough author to clearly describe those experiences.
But, that will not stop me from sharing as I plan to speak further on these experiences via my podcast to touch on low appraisals, fewer offers, and more tours to sell properties on behalf of black clients.
It is an uncomfortable conversation to have but one that must be started and continually addressed as an important issue facing our society.
Considering Real Estate in New Ways
California has taken steps to address systemic racism in real estate over the past year. Two new laws have been passed of note, Senate Bill 263 & Assembly Bill 1446:
- Senate Bill 263
Senate Bill 263 requires real estate licensees and applicants to complete a two-hour implicit bias training as part of keeping an active license. It is to begin on January 1, 2023. This is no way enough, but it is a start and I hope my real estate colleagues will put in even more time.
- Assembly Bill 1446
Assembly Bill 1466 aims to require county recorder’s offices, escrow, and title companies to identify and help redact racially restrictive covenants. Furthermore, beginning July 1, 2022, title or escrow companies are required to notify a buyer/seller of racially restrictive covenant (normally they are buried in load of paperwork) and help in filing a restrictive covenant modification form to redact unlawful covenants.
The above laws are small steps forward, but we have a long way to go.
I encourage you to watch “Black in Mayberry” and do your own detailed historical research in honor of Black History Month.
It would also mean the world for you to tune into my second February podcast where I will cover three topics in depth:
- Palos Verdes’ racially restrictive covenants and its effects on local real estate.
- Discussion and anecdotes on my experiences working with black clients and the implicit biases my clients’ have faced when selling property.
- Lastly, new ways to think about and execute real estate transactions to try to solve systemic racism, including buyer “love letters,” off-market deals, and the presentation of listings.
These are very important topics to cover for our community.
My hope is to be a resource to you to further the conversation and thoughts around South Bay real estate while making it more inclusive for everyone, even more so for our black residents and prospective residents looking to move into our wonderful neighborhoods.
Please tune-in to the podcast in a couple of weeks and we will update a link here when it is ready.
With love and kindness, Happy Black History Month!