Realtor.com Honors Irene Mabry, Real Times "Agent of
by Blanche Evans
Realtor.com representatives will honor Real Times Agent of the Year
Irene Mabry in a ceremony at the agent's Baltimore office. Company representatives
will present Mabry with a free Home Page on the home search giant's site.
The presentation will take place at Allen Realtors. JoAnne Buehler, account executive
and Crystal Solomon, district manager for Realtor.com will make the presentation.
Also planning to attend are officers of the Baltimore Association of REALTORS®.
Mabry first came to national attention when she was profiled in The Baltimore Sun
and later in People Magazine for her selfless efforts to get low-income home buyers
financing options and housing to buy. Her efforts are unique because many
borrowers must first take steps to improve their credit, and many still can't come up
with down payments or closing costs. Mabry works with non-profit and government
agencies to provide housing to buy and to assist with closing costs and down
payments through grants and gifts.
Working at the grass roots level, she is slowly making a difference to many home
buyers who otherwise would not be able to qualify for or find housing. Although she
closes as many as 30 to 40 houses per year, the road to home ownership is a long
process. Many of her clients wait as long as two years to qualify for and to buy a
Mabry spends much of her time giving home buying seminars to homeless and low-
income persons and helping them through the steps to homebuying. She also spends
a great deal of time fundraising for non-profit organizations who help low income
buyers. She is planning to provide links to these organizations as well as government
housing agencies on her Web site. She will also accept donations if they are made
out to one of the charities, such as Tri-Church Housing, a non-profit organization
which provides gifts and grants to low-income buyers.
"We were all very moved when we first read about Irene in Real Times," says Karen
Fulton, vice president of communications for RealSelect, Inc., operator of
Realtor.com and Homebuilder.com. "We all agreed that we could do something to
help her meet her goals."
According to U.S. Department of Urban Housing (HUD,) and confirmed by Mabry's
experience, the three biggest deterrents to low income home buyers is lack of
knowledge, lack of money and discrimination by lenders. Home ownership i s also
viewed as among the most stabilizing factors in a community, encouraging civic pride
and participation. Many, including HUD secretary Andrew Cuomo, see home
ownership as the key to turning poverty-stricken areas in the inner cities around.
"They don't know they can do it," says Mabry of her low wage and homeless
clientele. "I tell them all about the programs that are available in the area, and what
they have to do to get started. Next, we work on helping them with their credit so
they can qualify for a loan. Most of the time, we need help with the down payment or
closing costs. By God's grace we have been able to close every one so far. "
Mabry also works with lenders and developers in the area to reattract investment in
Baltimore's mean streets, and turning them back over to responsible home owners.
Currently, there is no national site which provides an extensive list of non-profit and
government agencies in one location whose goal it is to assist low-income buyers
with their dream of becoming homeowners. The The Fannie Mae Foundation offers
information on grant programs, public outreach and housing partnerships at the
Fannie Mae Web site. HUD offers information about fair housing and housing
discrimination as well as links to HUD Homes, affordable homes offered at attractive
prices and special conditions.
"The small non-profit organizations just don't have a voice," says Mabry. "They are
too busy trying to help others. A resource center so they could get their message out
of who they are and who they benefit would be a great step."
Real Select has also offered to assist Mabry with gathering and providing links to
non-profit organizations which benefit low income buyers to her page so that her