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Monica Wright is a real estate agent, single mother, and, most important, no longer in poverty. Now, she’s working to ensure that other single and low-income parents can someday say the same.
Wright, who works as an agent at DJCRE in Philadelphia and with the Association of Child Daycare Providers, is offering free courses in real estate for single parents. The goal is to provide them the tools they need to enter an industry that can offer a lot of flexibility and financial stability.
“Having a real estate license basically got us out of poverty,” the 54-year-old told Yahoo Lifestyle. That’s why she’s paying it forward.
“Having this knowledge will change your life and I am offering it FREE of charge,” she wrote in the description of the Facebook event that advertises the class. “I went from 5 kids and Section 8 to owning 6 properties in the city of Philadelphia and making $24,000 a month for 12 years.”
The classes, which she plans to run starting Jan. 13 through March, will cover basics such as mortgages, estimating square footage, and knowing the housing discrimination laws and why they exist and whom they protect; her Facebook page says, “I will be teaching and reinforcing all the knowledge you need to pass your real estate sales exam in Pennsylvania.”
Wright started off with just wanting to teach her daughter, 27, the basics, but realized that a lot of young folks don’t know much about the industry. She developed the class after her daughter and the daughter of someone in her real estate group didn’t want to go in on an investment property.
“It’s so weird that they don’t understand the stability from owning a property,” she told Yahoo Lifestyle.
Her life is proof. As a real estate agent for the past 26 years, she currently owns four properties in the area, plus a plot of land. But that wasn’t always the case.
She and her children used to live in Section 8 government housing. When her landlord told her that she needed to wait an extra 30 days before moving in (he wanted to redo the floors), she and her kids lived in her car.
“When we made it though those 30 days, I said, ‘I will never be homeless again.’” And she fulfilled that promise.
She worked to get her Pennsylvania real estate license in 1990 and learned that buying a house was an investment. While every process for securing a loan for a house is different, Wright was able to go through an LLC and bought her first home. Instead going toward rent, the money she put into her properties went toward her owning them and always giving her a place for her and her children to live.
“This was the ugliest, cheapest house — my mortgage was $186 a month — [but] I had money to make changes,” Wright said.
With the money she saved on high rents, she took her kids to activities like dance classes and was able to live comfortably.
Katherine Scarim, a Florida real estate agent and the author of Before You Are Licensed, says that Wright is correct in trying to connect single parents, many of whom are women, to the real estate industry.
“We have very few barriers of entry into our industry,” she told Yahoo Lifestyle. “In the state of Florida, all that’s required is a high school diploma and minimum of 18 years of age, plus a background screening and licensing class.”
She explained that agents need to hustle to create contacts, but they can still make their own hours — and sell as much as they can.
“It’s also a women-friendly industry — more than half of agents are women, and it works for families,” she said, explaining that she took her kids to open houses all the time. “I found a family-friendly office.”
In addition to providing a secure career, knowing about real estate can open up a lot of doors, such as owning a property, as it did for Wright. She and Scarim said there are many ways to buy that don’t always mean shelling out a large down payment, which may not be possible for lower-income folks. In certain cases, it may mean buying from someone who just wants to get rid of their property or buying in a bad neighborhood.
Parents may be catching on — so far, a whopping 32,000 have responded as “interested” in her free event. Wright stressed that the class won’t supplement studying for the real estate licensing exam, but it will be a good primer. Those who attend, however, need to take it seriously.
“Real estate can change someone’s life, but you have to work.” she said. She’ll just help get the ball rolling. “It’s my payment to the universe.”
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