ESOP Realty is a mission-driven social enterprise that helps people transcend poverty by making the dream of homeownership a reality. We are a full service, nonprofit real estate brokerage that focuses on placing low-to-moderate income (LMI) families and individuals in safe, affordable and sustainable homes, contributing to neighborhood stabilization. We provide assistance at every step of the home buying process from homebuyer education to shopping for a mortgage to choosing the right home. Our goal is to make the dream of homeownership available to more members of our community and to increase the owner-occupancy rates and home values in low-income and minority neighborhoods.
ESOP Realty is focused on wealth building through homeownership. While it has been a tough decade for homeownership, particularly in Cleveland, owning your own home is still considered to be the pathway to attaining the American Dream and the primary way most Americans build assets over their lifetime. Unfortunately, too many first-time homebuyers embark upon homeownership without the tools or guidance to make successful decisions and are unprepared for all facets of homeownership. Traditional realtors, compensated through a commission-based structure, are incentivized to sell a client the most expensive home they can qualify for, often without regard to whether they can sustain those homes over the long-term resulting in foreclosures. This has a devastating effect on these families as well as severe consequences for many low-income neighborhoods still struggling to recover from the foreclosure crisis.
ESOP Realty, through a combination of hiring agents with housing and financial counseling backgrounds and our innovative compensation approach, provides a trustworthy alternative to traditional real estate brokerages. ESOP Realty capitalizes on one of the most critical moments in someone’s life – when they decide to buy a home – by ensuring that our clients are educated about the home buying process and purchase homes they can afford to sustain, allowing them to build equity and wealth over their lifetimes. In partnership with ESOP, we walk LMI homebuyers through every step of the process, from homebuyer education and financial counseling to help them qualify for mortgages, to shopping for a home. This full service programming produces ready and stable homebuyers, which, in turn, contributes to stabilization of neighborhoods devastated by the foreclosure crisis.
ESOP Realty provides the “missing link” in the home buying process for first-time homebuyers. In partnership with ESOP, we provide integrated services at every step of the home buying process, starting with homebuyer education classes. Topics range from managing your money and obtaining a mortgage to shopping for a home and protecting your investment. We then provide financial counseling to help our clients qualify for a mortgage and identify a safe and affordable mortgage product.
Clients work with our salaried realtors who, unlike realtors at traditional brokerages, are not incentivized to sell a buyer the most expensive house they can afford at the time of purchase without regard to whether or not they can sustain it over time. Our realtors focus exclusively on the long-term needs of our clients and the revitalization of the neighborhoods we serve.
Virginia F. is a typical client for ESOP Realty and exemplifies our impact. Virginia was 64 years old, living on a limited income in public housing with her adult daughter and granddaughter. She attended ESOP’s free homebuyer education classes through a recommendation from her county housing authority. Virginia was not financially ready to purchase a home yet and worked with an ESOP financial counselor for almost a year. She paid down some debt, saved enough for a small down payment and fixed some credit problems. Working hand in hand with her counselor and an ESOP Realty agent, she was able to turn her government rental voucher into a homeownership voucher and qualify for a low interest loan. Her ESOP Realty agent helped her shop for a home that accommodated her family’s needs, and today, Virginia is the proud owner of a single-family home that she can afford to sustain and eventually pass on to her family.