By Pat Prescott

Ron Cooper and Mark Alston of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers stopped by our studios recently to talk about their upcoming conference in Long Beach and a free Homebuyers Fair they’re holding for the community. Ron is the current president of NAREB and Mark is the Public Affairs Committee Chairman. They are all about wealth building and creating generational wealth for communities that need skills and resources to take advantage of housing opportunities here in Los Angeles. We talked about the upcoming conference and the importance of creating generational wealth.

Mark Alston has spent 27 years in real estate here in Los Angeles.  He grew up in a single parent household and always dreamed of moving from an apartment to a house with a yard, a dream that led him to the business of real estate. Ron Cooper founded R.S. Cooper and Associates 33 years ago.  His parents were homeowners and they taught their kids about the importance of ownership of real estate as the greatest way to create wealth. Both Ron and Mark believe that we should control the economies of our communities.

We discussed the history of NAREB. Their mission starts with reimagining the dream of home ownership through advocacy, activism and action.  The 69 year old organization started when service men were returning from World War II and minority veterans couldn’t get loans to buy homes while their white counterparts did so with no problem. The initial focus was equal access and it still is now. Mark says we need to change the narrative.  Instead of complaining about what happened in the past, he says it’s time to look forward to figure out what we can do to create a better future using existing laws and programs. We need to look at ourselves as investors and owners instead of tenants and renters.

We discussed gentrification and how it is affecting communities in Southern California. Gentrification has always happened.  The problem today is that we’re not getting equal access in minority communities.  The other problem is lack of inventory. We should have an opportunity to buy back inventory lost during the recent housing crisis.  A percentage of those properties should be earmarked for renters who are being priced out of the market.

Jobs and other socioeconomic issues are big issues. It takes 17.7 years to save a 5% down payment for the average African American family. Down payment assistance is important and there is help for that and closing cost assistance as well.  The goal is to energize the homebuyers who can buy now while the prices are still within reach. NAREB’s new initiative is to create two million new Black homeowners in the next five years.

Mark and Ron say it’s time for us to wake up as a community and to do some internal housekeeping and reset our moral compass. Issues like teenage pregnancy, Black on Black crime and misplaced values are things that can be taken care of by the people who live in these communities. They are beginning to see a new optimism in the people who come to them for help with buying or keeping their homes.

All we need is direction on how to get things done and belief that we can do it. NAREB’s Community Wealth Building Day will have a great deal of information on how to do that and representatives from banks, title companies, escrow companies, credit counseling companies and more will be on hand for one on one customized assistance. Ron and Mark have been traveling around the country talking to people and they are seeing a revival of a hunger for more information about home ownership along with a new commitment to doing what we can to improve our personal finances and our communities at large.

NAREB’s Community Wealth Building Day, is a free-of-charge, consumer education event scheduled to be held on Saturday, August 13, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the Long Beach Convention Center.  Consumers can have their questions answered about the home buying process and learn how to get ready to buy. Information and resources will be available to show residents how to find and structure down payment assistance to make homeownership affordable and sustainable. Experts on-site will include local Realtists, mortgage lenders, housing counselors, legal and insurance experts, community development specialists and representatives from home buying assistance agencies.

Real estate professionals interested in registering for NAREB’s 69th Annual Convention visit   Prospective homebuyers living in the Los Angeles and Long Beach communities interested in attending Community Wealth Building Day, call 301-552-9340 or visit


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