“The mission of the organization is to promote standards and ethical conduct in the real estate industry, and to promote democracy in housing,” Says Richard Flateau, President of the the Bedford-Stuyvesant Real Estate Board. The group holds monthly meetings at the Henry Hucles Nursing Home on Herkimer Street between Buffalo and Rochester. general membership is the 3rd Monday of every month at 6:30pm.
Flateau says that “during the period of more overt discrimination, the board worked to stop the redlining and discriminatory administration rules that kept people from obtaining mortgages in the community.” Remembering the late 60’s and early 70’s, Mr. Flateau says it was difficult to get FHA mortgages in central Brooklyn. “Part of it had to do with the FHA rules which would not insure mortgages on houses that had blind rooms, that is rooms without windows. “The board fought to eliminate that rule and it was eliminated in the early seventies.”
Another concern for the organization are predatory lenders who prey on elders and try to strip out the equity from the homes. Giving them loans they know they can’t afford and charging huge fees. They plan to hold public forums on the topic in the future.
With a membership mailing of 125 members, the group is an excellent way for brokers to network with others and share information and ideas. “One of the main benefits for joining the organization is the quality of educational speakers we have addressing the membership, says Flateau.” The organization takes pride in the quality of the presentations they’ve been able to bring before the group. “We’ve had people from PRATT come and speak about planning in progress for central Brooklyn, title companies have addressed the group on title insurance and architects have spoken about zoning and land-use issues. A lot of times in a group you can get access to more quality speakers than as an individual.”
Bedford-Stuyvesant has one of the hottest real estate markets in the city. “Looking at the property prices in Bed- Stuy the last five years we’ve seen they’ve gone up 10-15 % each year. I don’t think that rate of increase can continue indefinitely,” says Flateau. “At some point, you will see more condominiums and co-ops in Bedford Stuyvesant so that people just starting out in their careers will have more home-ownership opportunity.”
Noting that the Bridge Street Development Corporation has just completed a condominium project on Lewis Avenue and reported a tremendous demand for their eight units, Flateau said that “Unfortunately, not too many other condo opportunities exist right now.”
With the house prices in Bedford- Stuyvesant, one thing people might look to do is join together to access this market. “We’ve seen groupings such as husband, wife and mother coming together or husband, wife and adult child. They’ve bought 2-3 family houses where they can get additional income is definitely a strategy folks can look to use.”
Speaking of the BSREB, Flateau is going to move forward with a focus on continuing education for both the membership and workshops for the community.
“We’d like to purchase a building and offer more information for the community on topics such as predatory lending, tax lien, sales and other issues related to home ownership.”
The group is also affiliated with the National Association of Real Estate Brokers and by being part of the local organization the members are automatically members of the national organization. This is the oldest national black professional organization. “We’re a chapter of the national although we actually predate their forming. We were formed in 1937 and the national was formed in 1947.”
He encourages people to visit their Web site, www.bsreb.com, for information about meetings, upcoming events, membership application is online.