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Real Estate

1 min read

Preserving The Historic Black “SANS” Neighborhood in Sag Harbor

Sag Harbor Hills, Azurest & Ninevah Subdivisions (SANS)  is an African American beachfront community in Sag Harbor, New York.

Founded following World War II, the SANS community served primarily as a summer retreat for middle-class African American families during the post-WWII and Jim Crow era.


In March of 2019, SANS was named to the New York State Register of Historic Places. SANS made its way onto the National Register of Historic Places just a few months later. In December of 2019, SANS was among those honored with a State Historic Preservation Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation Organizational Achievement.

The SANS Steering Committee was honored again in June of 2020 when Preservation Long Island presented a 2020 Project Excellence Award to SANS for their National Register Survey & Nomination.

Terri Wisdom, founder, and CEO of Harlem Network News has close familial ties to the SANS region. We caught up with her to find out more about this historic neighborhood and her work at Harlem Network News.

In this interview, Terri shares:

  • The early history of Sag Harbor’s SANS region
  • Sag Harbor’s connection to the “Amistad” movie.
  • How gentrification is affecting the area
  • The importance of preserving historic Black neighborhoods.
  • The importance and benefits of having a local media outlet in Harlem
  • The Harlem Network News initiative to bring Brittney Griner home

-Tony O. Lawson

3 mins read

E-Commerce is Creating Investment Opportunities in This Real Estate Niche

The increase in e-commerce activity, labor constraints, and customer expectations about product delivery time are exerting pressure on supply chains and driving demand for industrial real estate.

Small bay warehouses specifically. This sector has outperformed its larger counterparts by a significant margin, despite the hype surrounding larger distribution facilities acquired by major tenants such as Amazon.

Amazon and other e-commerce fulfillment organizations are responsible for roughly 40% of industrial property leases, and that number is steadily rising as companies rush to include e-commerce as part of their business models. 

According to a recent industrial real estate report, companies leased more than 137.9 million square feet of industrial space in the third quarter of 2021, a new record. The most popular size category was between 10,000 and 49,000 square feet, which accounted for more than half of the leasing activity.

To reach and retain customers, retailers are shifting their attention to providing consistent, speedy delivery in dense population clusters. As firms continue to adopt same-day and one-day delivery, the strategic importance of the last mile cannot be understated.

As retailers and logistics companies strive for greater consumer accessibility, rents for well-located light industrial buildings in heavily populated, developing markets will continue to exceed those for larger warehouses in remote regions.

Properties under 70,000 square feet have the lowest average availability (5.8 percent) of any size range, as well as both the highest average rents and, have experienced rent growth of 33% between 2015 and 2020.

Leases tend to be shorter-term, which allow rents to adjust more quickly to market and new demand conditions. As a result, market rents for smaller spaces tend to be less volatile over the long-term. In addition, small warehouse market rents tend to outperform larger bulk distribution spaces in both periods of economic strength and weakness.

Small bay industrial facilities also benefit from low operating and capital expenses, which generate high cash flow efficiency relative to other property types.

E-commerce will keep driving the need for industrial space, and as a result, this new urban logistics asset class will spark more developer and investor interest.

We hope this guide was helpful and shows that with any type of investment, it pays to do your homework.

Tony O. Lawson

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4 mins read

4 Reasons Why Mobile Home Parks are Recession-Resistant Investments

Mobile home parks (MHPs) are frequently associated with a variety of unfavorable perceptions and the idea that they are unattractive places to live. Many people do not realize that some of the richest people in the world have been investing in MHPs for years. One reason is that this asset class can produce exceptional returns even in the worst economic circumstances. Here are five reasons why mobile home park investments are recession- and inflation-resistant. 1. Mobile home parks are the most affordable housing. During a recession, it is natural for individuals to seek out the most affordable ways to live.

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7 mins read

Largest Black-Led Bank Hosts Conversation About Real Estate and the Wealth Gap

“Black Voices in Real Estate LA/DC” conducted a bi-coastal virtual panel this past Black history month featuring various real estate, banking experts, and Black newspapers.

This virtual panel, conducted by City First Bank, the leading, Black-led bank in the U.S. and Housing Finance Agency, sought to strategize on the role of black developers in closing the racial wealth gap.

Purpose of the Panel

The panel brought together “top developers and other community development partners working on strategic initiatives that help increase economic mobility for Black Americans, specifically supporting Black developers.”

This partnership included “America’s Historical Black Newspapers that aimed to bring awareness to the “origins of the racial wealth gap dating back to the reconstruction era.”

The first panel was moderated by Micha Green of The Afro.

Panel participants included:

  • Shironda Evans, Blue Sky Development
  • Micha Green, AFRO D.C. Editor
  • Kenyan McDuffie, DC Council Member
  • Danny Bakewell, L.A. Sentinel/ LA Watts Newspaper
  • Kymber Minketit, Keller Williams Capital Properties
  • Harvey Yancey, H2DesignBuild
  • Omar Karim, Banneker Ventures
  • Don Peebles Jr. III- Legacy Development
  • Tom Nida, City First Bank
  • Sonja S. Wells, City First Bank

And many others.

Sonja S. Wells of City First Bank, the only Black chief lending officer in D.C., opened the discussion, introducing the panel.

She noted that the individuals and organizations on the panel are “leading centers of influence and pioneers in D.C. and L.A.’s commercial real estate scene who are engaged in community economic development.”

“They are primarily leading the development of the urban landscape by producing tomorrow’s affordable housing mixed-use real estate and community facilities to create opportunities for minority contractors’ employment as well as homeownership for low to moderate income communities.”

Key Takeaways:

Black developers are focused on community economic development:

Sharonda Irving of Blue Skye Construction and Development welcomed viewers to the Forum and shared several of her organization’s community initiatives that have successfully helped vulnerable members of the DC community. Her company is one of a few Black-native DC commercial real estate development firms, responsible for the development of many impactful projects.

One imminent project is a part of the Hill East neighborhood of Capitol Hill, which contains twelve thousand square feet of retail space, outdoor seating, and 100 units for the District of Columbia permanent supportive housing program. 

This program “provides housing and workforce training opportunities to aid individuals transitioning from homelessness to permanent housing, and these units will all be affordable at 30% percent Area Median Income (AMI). In addition, it is designed “to help to stabilize women and families who had previously been experiencing homelessness and housing insecurities.” 

Blue Skye is also focused on hiring local DC contractors and working with CBE (Certified Business Enterprises within the District of Columbia. 

History of Racial Wealth and Housing Gap in America:

Micha Green stressed, “The United States of America has had a long history of discrimination toward African Americans in lending zoning, home ownership, and infrastructure development. These practices have resulted in a racial wealth gap in which Black wealth accounts for only about five percent of white wealth even though black incomes average about 60 percent of white annual income.”

The discussion included a Fireside Chat between Tom Nida, EVP of City First Bank, and Kenyan McDuffie, DC Councilmember and Chair of the Economic Development committee.

This chat included a visual timeline and breakdown of the history of the racial wealth gap in American housing dating back to 1865 and continuing throughout the end of the 19th century to the 20th century.”

Nida and Mcduffie broke down the history and discussed where we are today.

“It is the role of elected officials to acknowledge the challenges that exist in housing,” said Kenyan McDuffie.

It was stressed that systemic measures needed to be put in place that helps people own homes but also own commercial real estate. They noted that many minority business owners are doing well but don’t own the real estate they operate in, and policies and funding are being put in place by DC Mayor Muriel E. Bowser to ensure that these opportunities are present and expanded.

Closing the knowledge gap:

This compelling fireside chat was followed up by the main event featuring the leading Black developers from DC and LA as well as funding partners committed to supporting the Black developer ecosystem.  Danny Blakewell of The LA Sentinel and LA Watts Times moderated the panel.

The candid conversations focused primarily on addressing the communities’ needs, how to forge more significant partnerships within the community, what struggles developers were facing, and more.

Eloquently stated during the discussions is the fact that “if you don’t understand the rules of the game, you’re never going to win it.” 

“This unique peer forum shed light on the viable opportunity to invest in the often overlooked sector of Black real estate developers who are intentional about creating socio-economic impact as part of their mission. City First is proud to present the top Black developers in the country for this powerful thought-leadership roundtable. We hope that the first-hand knowledge shared with thousands of viewers nationwide will ultimately help close not only the knowledge gap in community development finance, but ultimately help close the persistent racial wealth gap in America.” said Gloria Nauden, City First Bank Vice President of Marketing and Communications, who served as the forum curator.  


Tony O. Lawson

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1 min read

Black Investor Owns Over $70 Million Worth of Multifamily Real Estate

Clive Davis is the founder of Park Royal Capital, a private equity commercial real estate investment firm focused on investing, acquiring, and operating multifamily communities.

He is a full-time multifamily real estate investor with a portfolio of nearly 2,000 units valued at over $70 million.

In this episode, Clive shares:

  • His journey from 20 years in corporate America to becoming a full-time investor.
  • His thoughts on the current multifamily real estate market.
  • The hottest markets for multifamily property investing.
  • What makes a good multi-family investment.
  • His blueprint for acquiring over $70 million in multifamily properties.
  • His thoughts on using real estate to create generational wealth.

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2 mins read

Black Developers Make History With $100M Project in Birmingham

A team of Black developers is set to transform 222 acres of land in Birmingham, Alabama into an estimated 900 residential units, single-family, multi-family, and senior housing with a project that has an estimated cost of $100 million.

The Birmingham City Council, with Birmingham Mayor Randall L. Woodfin, today approved an ordinance authorizing the sale and development of real estate with Green Meadow Apartments, LLC.

The development team is all African American, including the general contractor. With over $2 billion, to date, this is the largest transaction led by African Americans in the city’s history.

“This is a great day for the city of Birmingham,” said Mayor Woodfin. “Not only because of the jobs, the homes, and the economic impact, but because of the history that is being made.”

The City sold approximately 222 acres of land located in the vicinity of Lakeshore Parkway at 1911 Tiger Walk to Green Meadow Apartments for a purchase price of $1.5 million.

Green Meadow Apartments will undertake a multi-phased project involving the development of single-family, multi-family, and senior housing which will include an estimated 900 residents and a commercial town center. This project is being led by CEO Michael German, who is the former Alabama representative for HUD.

Green Meadows’ preliminary studies suggest this will generate 240 permanent jobs and another 2,000 construction jobs. The total investment in this project will be $100 million. The project includes a town center with a grocery store and commercial and retail office spaces. This will generate $500,000 in property taxes in the first three years.

“We want to thank the mayor and council for their support in this transformational project,” said Cornell Wesley, director of the Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity. “This sends a message to the entire country that African American and minority developers have a place in Birmingham, and we are aggressive and intentional about supporting their efforts.”

Tony O. Lawson

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4 mins read

5 Effective Modern and Old School Marketing Ideas for Your Real Estate Business

Successful real estate business owners enjoy several benefits, including independence and flexibility. You can be your own boss and help people buy, sell, or rent out properties.

However, the unpredictable housing marketing, changing real estate trends, and real estate legislation amendments can make the business a little challenging.

So if you want your business to thrive, it’s vital to employ the best marketing strategies and techniques. Here are some modern and old-school marketing ideas to help your real estate business grow.

real estate business

1. Create a Website

Besides helping deliver better customer experiences and building strong customer relationships, your website also boosts your visibility online. You can be available to your customers 24/7 with an easily navigable website that contains relevant business information. The site should ideally share detailed information about the different real estate services you offer, your contact information, and options for customers to book your services online.

Over 44% of customers search for properties online. So it’s essential to include property listings with good, credible pictures of the property on your website. Posting videos that highlight the property features can increase the traffic even further. These video walkthroughs also help clients understand what the property looks like.

2. Build a Blog

Blogs are cost-effective and easy ways to get your message across to your target audience. They also help increase your digital visibility and SERP rankings.

If you want to build your real estate business’s credibility, work with a reliable content marketing team that specializes in developing and optimizing web content. These experts will choose the right topics, keywords, and linking strategies to ensure that your website lands on top search results consistently.

3. Use an Email List

When used correctly, email lists can help you create and maintain good relationships with your clients. Giving customers the option to “opt-in” or “subscribe” to your emails is an excellent way to ensure your emails don’t end up in the spam list or junk mail.

There are several things real estate business owners must consider before building their email list. For instance, if your specific niche is first-time homebuyers or luxury home buyers, then it’s crucial to create and deliver emails that address questions and concerns of that specific market. A team of experienced digital marketing experts can help you develop a strong email marketing plan.

4. Work with Local Media Channels

A lot of real estate agents operate under the misconception that local television and radio advertisements are outdated marketing channels. However, they continue to be some of the most efficient ways to reach local clients. Create quality, catchy video advertisements describing your business and get local radio stations and TV channels to play them. This way, you’ll capture the attention of local buyers, sellers, renters, and investors.

5. The Good Old Referral System

A strong referral system or referral-reward system could potentially cause your success rates to skyrocket. These programs help gain and strengthen the trust of potential clients. In fact, studies on referrals show that referred clients generate 16% more ROI than other clients.


We can help real estate professionals raise their success rates using email lists and blogs. Email us at to get started.

4 mins read

Father and Son Duo Close over $1 Billion Launch Podcast Focused on Building Black Wealth

NEW YORK – National Standard Abstract is launching a new podcast centered on the economic empowerment of Black communities. With the Black buying power expected to reach $1.5 trillion this year, the Black- and family-owned business is now streaming interviews with industry leaders and influencers to help propel students and professionals towards entrepreneurship and sustainability.

The podcast, “All Boxes Checked,” will be hosted by the father-son duo behind National Standard Abstract, a full-service title insurance agency that has closed over $1 billion since 2015. From commercial and residential real estate to financial investment and community empowerment, this podcast will educate listeners on building wealth while circulating money within the Black community.

national standard abstract
Osei and Nadir Rubie

The “All Boxes Checked” podcast will feature guests such as business professionals and philanthropists to public officials and government agencies that will share their insights on the real estate and title insurance industries in addition to the growth of Black-owned businesses.

As the former epicenter of the global COVID-19 pandemic, New York City businesses and homeowners faced financial uncertainty and ruin. The health crisis spanning nearly two years threatened to destabilize the Black community, which faced a higher unemployment rate, foreclosures, evictions, and business closures without emergency federal coronavirus relief funding. National Standard Abstract is closing the opportunity gap – one conversation at a time.

Some of these guests include Quentin Hardy of Movement Mortgage, who is among the top one percent of loan originators in America; Ralph McDaniels, founder of the Video Music Box who was at the forefront of broadcasting hip hop culture; and other notable individuals whose invaluable expertise will help shift the paradigm.

“Six years ago, National Standard Abstract and Shoppe Black were established with a common goal – to advance cooperative economics. Today, we are forging ahead with the launch of a podcast that amplifies Black voices and elevates our culture. We are dedicating resources to engage in conversations about race, education, and economic mobility,” said Osei Rubie, president and founder of National Standard Abstract.

“It has always been our commitment at National Standard Abstract to serve as a bridge to building community at a time. We are excited to launch a new podcast that will connect listeners of any age at every stage of their careers with resources to become financially secure,” said Nadir Rubie, a partner at National Standard Abstract.

“Shoppe Black is excited to assist National Standard Abstract with the launch of a platform that will complement the work that we do every day – promoting all things Black-owned, globally. We are excited to create new spaces and opportunities for people to connect and exchange ideas. By working together, we are expanding our reach while empowering our audience to grow as individuals and professionals,” said Tony O. Lawson, CEO and co-founder of Shoppe Black.

National Standard Abstract is a full-service title insurance agency with expertise in faith-based developments, residential and commercial real estate transactions. Since launching in 2015, the family- and black-owned firm has closed over $1 billion in transactions within the New York metropolitan area.

As the bridge to building one community at a time, National Standard Abstract expanded its footprint into philanthropy through the Osei Rubie Charitable Fund to help end racial inequity and support the organizations working on the ground to create real change.

All Boxed Checked will be available on YouTube, listening apps, and streaming services. 

1 min read

How This Developer Built an $840 Million Real Estate Business

Buwa Binitie is the Managing Principal of Dantes Partners, a boutique real estate development firm making its mark on the affordable housing scene in the District of Columbia.

Buwa Binitie
Buwa Binitie, Managing Principal of Dantes Partners

Dantes Partners has closed over $840 million of real estate transactions and was recently awarded funding that will facilitate its ability to develop and acquire $1.6 billion in affordable and naturally occurring affordable assets.

In this episode, Buwa shares:

  • How he got started in Real estate development and why he decided to make affordable housing his area of focus.
  • How he has been able to build a team of almost 100% Black professionals despite a supposed lack of Black talent.
  • Advice for business owners that are interested in government contracts.

Tony O. Lawson

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5 mins read

Black Engineer Creates Eco-Friendly, Disaster Proof Smart Homes

Housing is amongst the most basic of human needs, and yet, it’s becoming increasingly elusive — even in wealthy countries like the US. Technology has changed every sector leaving construction as the last industry prime for revolution.

The SolutionRoombus produces high quality and eco-friendly modular Smart Homes that are affordable for everyone. The homes are engineered to withstand storms, earthquakes, and even stop burglars.

We caught up with founder, Dami Jegede to learn more about his company.

Roombus founder, Dami Jegede

What inspired you to start Roombus?

So my background is software engineering, and I’ve built 2 successful fintech companies. In 2018 I started looking to solve a bigger and more impactful global challenge. It became immediately clear that affordable housing was what I really, really wanted to do. It has been a big and hairy problem for decades and it gets bigger every year.


Initially, it was about building affordable homes, but when we took a deep dive, it evolved into building the future of housing. We believe that is smart, health-focused, safe and eco-friendly homes.

How does Roombus differ from the homes built from shipping containers?

We actually looked at shipping containers at the onset. In fact, it was what made the venture seem attainable to me, but we abandoned the direction after much research.

We found in the Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology found that the majority of containers have harmful levels of toxicity inside — with spillage of harmful substances and chemicals that were not removed by thorough washing.


Hazardous chemicals and pesticides are used to treat the wooden floors, and some were coated in paint which contains harmful chemicals like phosphorous and chromate.

To top it off, container housing was too niche a market for our vision, only 16% of people we surveyed were open to owning a container home.

Roombus, on the other hand, has designed a proprietary steel core frame system that allows us to build truly disaster proof and healthy homes. Great for humans and the environment. Our homes are not limited by container dimensions and compromise, and so our spaces are much bigger.

Please explain how the homes are designed with sustainability and eco-friendliness in mind.

Construction is one notorious industry that produces one of the highest amounts of waste in the world today. Building homes on lots are highly inefficient from cost, labor and waste perspectives.

Most of us have passed by homes under construction and seen the amount of wasted materials on-site — broken wood framing, off-cuts from roofing sheets, insulation, and drywall. Most of that new junk is heading to a landfill near you.


Our prefab method (building in a factory), and precision manufacturing reduces material wastage by a whopping 95%! Our steel framing system is 100% recyclable, and we use bamboo to replace as much wood as possible.

Bamboo grows super-fast and is extremely light on the environment. We utilize above-code insulation to save energy and reduce the need for heating and cooling all year round — from Florida to Alaska.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Grit and resilience can’t be overstated. You need to learn to pick yourself up and just keep moving. This is why you have to be double sure about your venture before you start.

Does it really matter to me? How much do I love this?  Hold on tightly to your destination, but let your path be flexible. Too many people waste too much time on a path that just never will open. Pull up your goal maps and try new routes!


Tony O. Lawson

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