Black History Month 2023: Creating Success and Thriving in Real Estate

February 7, 2023
Bertina Power speaking onstage at EVX.

Engel & Völkers is represented by over 16,000 real estate professionals worldwide—assisting clients in every country, community, and cul-de-sac. And how did that all begin? It began with two friends’ shared passion for providing the best real estate experiences. This same sentiment has been at the forefront of Engel & Völkers for over forty years and continues to be at the heart of every one of our locations—and every community we serve. 

Community. It’s why we call our professionals “advisors”—their expertise and commitment to the areas they serve can only come from someone who, first and foremost, is your neighbor. 

As we embark on the second month of 2023, we are reminded to take a step back and reflect on what we can all do to celebrate and cultivate the people, places, and communities that bring so much value to our lives, personally and professionally. Please join us in taking February, Black History Month, as the opportunity to honor the Black creators and innovators whose persistence and ingenuity are nothing short of inspiring and whose presences enrich our lives (and industry) every day. 

Engel & Völkers is fortunate enough to be partnered with Black real estate organizations and professionals who are shaking up the industry. We sat down with a few of our network members and discussed what “community” means—how to create, foster, and appreciate it—and what thriving in real estate really takes. Their achievements in the real estate industry, impressive in their own right, become all the more so when considering the obstacles they’ve overcome. Each of our advisors brought their unique and personal insights to the table, and each was gracious enough to let us share them with you.

Thabo Bailey Hall | Engel & Völkers Savannah 

Thabo Bailey Hall's headshot over a picture of the Savannah's skyline at dusk.

What we do requires hard work and diligence, but it truly is engaging and changes lives.

Q: What is an initiative, project, community, etc. (local or national) that excites you?

TBH: I am passionate about the Equal Justice Initiative. Their mission is to bring racial justice and equity to our penal and economic system. It is an issue that impacts all communities, but disproportionately communities of color. If we can change how policies and laws are made, applied, and evaluated, we can change the lived realities of millions of people in this country. Stronger, intact communities make for a better society for all.  

Q: Please finish this sentence, “to me, community means ________________.”

TBH: A healthy interdependence on each other, where each person’s needs are met and differences are supported. 

Q: If you could pick a song to define your real estate goals for 2023, what would it be and why?

TBH: My song for this year would be, “Keep Rising To The Top” by Doug E. Fresh and The Get Fresh Crew. It reminds me to keep striving no matter what is going on and to have fun while I’m doing it. What we do requires hard work and diligence, but it truly is engaging and changes lives. 

Mable Ivory | Engel & Völkers New York City

Mable Ivory's headshot over a picture of the New York City skyline at dusk.

Luxury means different things to different people.

Q: If you could, what would you say to yourself when you were first getting into real estate? 

MI: If I could go back to when I was first starting out in real estate, I would say to myself: “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Be patient. It takes time to master the real estate business and be successful in this industry. Every experience with a buyer or seller—whether it ends in a transaction or not—is a valuable lesson that will lead to more success and conversions, more closings, and more sales.

Q: What is an initiative, project, or community whose work excites you?

MI: I am really excited about the Universal Hip Hop Museum being completed in the South Bronx, where the music, and its associated dance, art, and culture, originated. The museum just received five million dollars in federal funding. Once completed, it will be a top tourist destination in New York City and a place of pride and celebration for the neighborhood.

Q: Could you please finish the following sentence, “to me, luxury is ________________.”

MI: To me, luxury is a word that means different things to different people. The meaning also varies in the world of real estate. The idea of luxury real estate can differ based on the clients, market, and location you serve. For some people, luxury real estate is determined by square footage, price point, or zip code. For others, luxury might be the comfort of a small apartment in a nurturing community. 

Josh Bellinger | Engel & Völkers North Tacoma

Josh Bellingers's headshot over a picture of the Tacoma, Washington, skyline at dusk.

I genuinely just want to help people and add value to their lives. There is no other agenda.

Q: Why did you decide to enter the real estate industry? And why did you choose to affiliate with Engel & Völkers?

JB: Before becoming a real estate advisor, I spent eight years working in nonprofit education—primarily with high school students navigating life after graduation. When my job went fully remote because of the pandemic and there was some talk of it completely going away, I decided to get my real estate license as another way to provide income for my family. Fast forward almost two and a half years, and it was the best decision I ever made in my life.

I chose Engel & Völkers because of Engel & Völkers Tacoma’s license partner, Mackenzie Record. I had interviewed at a lot of different brokerages and none of them really seemed like a great fit for me. Mackenzie spoke so highly of Engel & Völkers and helped me understand the power of the brand, especially as a newer advisor who wanted to focus my business on listings. I really enjoyed the tools she showed me, and I felt it was the best place for me to grow my business. 

Q: What have your biggest challenges been, and how did you overcome them? 

JB: As a newer real estate advisor, the biggest challenge I have faced is people seeing me as a trusted resource for all things real estate. Real estate is a hot topic, and when I tell people that I am in the industry, the first question I am often asked is “how’s the market?” However, once I tell them that I believe it’s a good time to buy or sell, I’m viewed as a salesperson. When in all actuality, I’m just trying to provide the best value I can. One of the things I would really love to change is people’s perception of what it is I do. I genuinely just want to help people and add value to their lives. There is no other agenda.

Q: What is an initiative, project, community, etc. (local or national) that excites you?

JB: I am a part of an organization called the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB). The goal of this organization is to promote democracy in housing. Primarily, they provide people from Black and minority communities with resources and education around housing, credit, and homeownership. The organization is extremely important to me and I am fortunate to have the opportunity to partner with it. 

Bertina Power | Engel & Völkers Chicago

Bertina Power's headshot over a picture of the Chicago, Illinois, skyline at dusk.

For 2023, I would like to work more with advisors in various shops to help them grow their business by understanding they have all the POWER.

Q: What is the best career advice you have ever gotten? why? 

BP: I was told by a managing broker to recognize when the client has been sold and to stop talking (read: selling). This made me focus on listening—listening to what is and what is not being said.

Q: What was your biggest accomplishment in 2022… and what is a goal for 2023 that will top that accomplishment?

BP: My biggest accomplishment in 2022 was writing and publishing my first book. For 2023, I would like to work more with advisors in various shops to help them grow their business by understanding they have all the POWER!

Q: What is an initiative, project, community, etc. (local or national) that excites you?

BP: What excites me is a focus on helping our most vulnerable community members. As a mother of a son with severe disabilities, being an advocate for this community really excites me. Misericordia Home is an organization that I have worked with for over 10 years; its mission is to provide a vast continuum of care and support for children and adults who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.

In 2017, I established a scholarship fund for my son, Haydon Stewart Special Needs Endowment Scholarship Fund, with Alpha Kappa Alpha Educational Advancement Foundation Inc. Once funded, I plan to give out scholarships to individuals with disabilities from birth who are seeking higher education.

While this post is by no means comprehensive, it offers a glimpse into the exceptional talent we are proud to be associated with.

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