Ask people in the black community who the black real estate agents are, and many can only name one or two. The Real Estate Brokers of Baltimore, known as "Realtists," want to change that.
Yvette Chapman, a Baltimore native, is president of the group, and at 35 she is the youngest to hold the office.
The parent organization, the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, was founded nationally in 1947 and the local chapter soon followed.
" 'Democracy in Housing' is our motto," said Ms. Chapman. Locally, the Realtists have an 80-member roster.
NAREB, which also comprises other ethnic groups, is open to "qualified practitioners of all races who are interested in achieving the ideas of the Realtist theme." These include lawyers, insurance agents, title companies, all types of real estate professionals, and many others.
NAREB was formed to aid those who had been shut out of the real estate industry, unable to sell houses in certain areas and unable to fight unfair housing practices.
Founding members of the local chapter include entrepreneur Daniel Spaulding, who became the first president of the Real Estate Brokers of Baltimore in 1947. Others were businesswoman Philathea Hall, secretary, appraiser George Carroll, treasurer, Linwood Koger, who served as the Realtists' attorney, and Mr. D. Arnett Frisby, vice president.
Roland Campbell, who handles publicity for the Realtists, started out working for Otis Warren & Company, a well-known real estate company in Baltimore. He says that doing business in your own community -- hiring and working with other black-owned businesses -- is a way in which incomes will grow for many.
Mr. Campbell sees the Realtists as an "alternative trade organization" which affords its members many opportunities. Currently, the group is involved in such projects as "Adopt-A-School" (William H. Lemmel Middle School), the United Negro College Fund, and "feed the homeless" projects.
Ms. Chapman said that as a teen-ager she knew she wanted to be in real estate. "I had a business plan when I was 18," she said. She attended Western High School and earned a B.S. in accounting from Loyola College in 1982.
She said motivating factors that guided her into the field was an interest in looking at houses -- "and the desire to make money."
"It always seemed like people who were involved in real estate, whether they were selling or whether they were buying or investing or whatever, seemed to have a lot of income. It's up to the individual, of course."