Realtors Row: Black realtors weigh in on why they joined the industry

By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer
Report for America Corps Member
[email protected]
and Fatiha Belfakir, Special to the AFRO

The real estate industry is an ever-growing industry. While selling and buying properties can bring stability and prosperity, the process can be challenging at times. Understanding and the education about house markets, states’ programs, and banks’ loans and finance is key. Thus, finding a knowledgeable realtor with a passion for their work is key!

David Pridgen, real estate broker and founder of Realty ONE Group Excellence

David Pridgen, real estate broker and founder of Realty ONE Group Excellence. (Courtesy photo)

Traveling through city neighborhoods as a mail carrier, David Pridgen would often see “for sale” signs on properties that captured his attention with unique features. The interest was so strong he decided to leave the postal service and become a real estate agent.

Pridgen started his career with widely known real estate firms, like Long and Foster and Remax.

However, in 2016, he decided he was ready to branch out and create his own brokerage firm.

“I wanted to try to affect the masses when it comes to real estate professionals, making sure they are provided with the tools and support they need, and I didn’t see a better way to do that other than opening a brokerage,” he said Pridgen.

Pridgen opened Pikesville-based Realty ONE Group Excellence in 2017. The brokerage serves individuals in the Baltimore Metropolitan area and surrounding counties.

At Realty ONE Group Excellence, real estate agents collect 100 percent of commissions rather than having to split them with a broker. They also have access to one-on-one and team coaching surrounding different facets of real estate, like agent accountability and the difference between working with buyers and sellers.

Home ownership, for Pridgen, is an avenue for creating generational wealth. Individuals can use the equity they build to afford and achieve other goals like starting a business, debt consolidation or college and continuing education costs.

For more information on Realty ONE Group Excellence, visit

Erika S. Black

Erika S. Black is a realtor who was born and raised in Rich Square, a small, “two-stop-light town” in rural North Carolina.

Black came from humble beginnings and was always determined to succeed so she could provide for her family and give back to her community. She was able to save and buy her first house when she turned 24, and by the time she was 25 she was the proud owner of two houses.

At an early age, she discovered a taste of financial freedom from homeownership and investing in real estate. She is living proof that homeownership helps build generational wealth and can transform the lives of families that are properly advised. As a real estate agent, she helps families enjoy that same sense of independence and generational wealth creation. For Black, the feeling of helping African Americans become homeowners is a reward in and of itself.

Along with grit and determination, Black encourages realtors to continue planting and watering the seeds of their businesses.

“Real estate is a business that realtors must consistently tend to in order to grow. It takes time. But it can pay off if the agent stays consistent and persistent with prospecting and networking. In other words – keep going,” said Black.

To contact Erika Black, call 202.670.6677 or (202) 387-6180.

Mahlon D. Thomas is a realtor who is driven by helping his African-American clients with their real estate needs and financial goals. The licensed realtor devotes his time and energy to equipping his clients with the accurate information needed to go about the processes of homeownership.

Mahlon D. Thomas is a realtor based in Baltimore. Thomas is currently a real estate agent for Exit Realty Perspectives in Woodlawn, Md. (Courtesy photo)

Thomas said that when it comes to obstacles holding back Black homeowners, the list includes limited knowledge of available programs and opportunities, income constraints and little to no money in a savings account.

Thomas strongly believes that financial and housing security is a right that all people deserve, and that homeownership should be an affordable process.

To contact Mahlon Thomas, call or text 240.398.9958.

Sebrin Adem

A native to Ethiopia, East Africa, Sebrin Adem is the owner of Sebrin Adem Real Estate Group, an agency which serves the DC, Maryland and Virginia area. (Courtesy Photo)

Originally from Ethiopia, East Africa, Sebrin Adem is a realtor passionate about increasing home ownership among Black and Brown Americans. Adem says a top priority of her work is to help families of color build equity and live in a safe and stable environment. Even though the real estate industry is tough for women at times, Adem told the AFRO that it is essential to maintain professionalism, be truthful, and– most importantly– stay up to date on accurate information from homeownership programs.

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