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2017 National Real Estate Preview: HBCU Alumni Real Estate Agents Look Ahead To The New Year


An HBCU alumna and ally who are now prominent real estate agents sit down and talk with us about what to potentially expect for the year ahead in the real estate market covering coast to coast.

Tiffany Curry (top left) – A Texas Southern University alumna who now works for Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Anderson Properties in Houston, TX.

Kimberly C. Lehman (top right) – An HBCU ally who is married to a Hampton graduate and now owns and runs KC Lehman Realty as a division of John Aaroe Group in Los Angeles, CA.

What do you believe the rate hike in December by the Federal Reserve may do to the coming year of real estate?

TC: I believe the rate spike will motivate buyers that have been on the fence. I think people will fear the rates may continue to rise and that we will see an increase in buyers purchasing homes. Rents are at record highs. It is still less expensive to own vs. lease.

KC: If the interest rates rise in the way we expect, it will impact how much buyers currently in the market can afford. As such, home values should level out, but many buyers will continue to be priced out.

Tell us something that makes you optimistic and pessimistic about the 2017 real estate market?

TC: I’m excited that the 2017 market has already shown positive signs of movement. I currently have clients who are ready to sell and purchase new homes in the first quarter of 2017. I expect my business to double in the 2017 year which is remarkable in the current marketplace. Consumers are seeing value in homeownership and are trading their homes for more space or better locations.

KC:  Optimistic: In Southern California, there is no shortage of buyers, and therefore opportunities for business continues to grow. If values level out, that might balance out the supply and demand which also equals more opportunities for business.

Pessimistic: Uncertainty of our new administration has sellers that ordinarily would sell right now holding tight. Also current home values will cause some buyers who are unwilling to compromise on property location and/or condition to drop out of the game.

Where do you see the most opportunity for real estate investors in your market for 2017?

TC:  In Houston, we have a diverse and growing economy. I see development as an excellent place for investors. Land purchases should be key for investors as the Houston population will nearly double by 2040. Land will become scarce and is a great opportunity for someone that can buy and hold.

KC: Southeast Los Angeles if they are smart. They missed the boat on Inglewood.

Companies like Redfin, Zillow, and others are disrupting the traditional real estate market. How are you seeing their presence influence the real estate market?

TC: Houston is a rare marketplace where we have our own local consumer public facing website, har.com. HAR.com is the only site in the US where Zillow, Realtor.com and others do not hold prominent market share. This has enabled brokers and agents in the market to maintain their presence without the need for an outside third party. Redfin however has come into the marketplace as they offer a discount service. Consumers who want to save on commissions are using their services however it is in line with the traditional discount brokerages that would have attracted this type of consumer. Although they are capturing consumers they still are a very small impact in our local market as most consumers still want the guidance and expertise of a REALTOR that has time to handle their needs rather than one that is focused on transactions.

KC: Buyers and sellers are relying on these sites to educate them about the real estate process and home values. As it relates to the latter, none of these sites are truly accurate. Redfin in particular has gotten their own market share of listings and buyers through their site and their agents are in direct competition with those of us at traditional brokerages. They aren’t always knowledgeable of the areas they are tied to via the site. I’ve heard horror stories!

On the upside, Zillow reviews are liquid gold to agents in the field.

Since reaching its all-time high of 49.1 percent in 2004, African American homeownership has now fallen to an all-time low of 41.1 percent as of third quarter 2016, an almost 20 percent decline. What do you believe can be done in the foreseeable future to reengage the African American consumer?

TC: I believe the African American consumer must be reeducated on the value of homeownership. Homeownership for most Americans is their primary source of wealth and assets. I believe our communities, churches and social groups must put more emphasis on the value of owning the land beneath your feet. As one of the largest groups in consumer spending we must do a better job of prioritizing what we spend our monies on. Material items that depreciate are not the key to wealth. Laying the foundation to a solid financial future for our children and their children’s children are what we must focus on. Building and maintaining our communities by owning what is in them is key.

KC: African Americans need to pool resources in order to compete with the current buyers in the market. Often, our community looks to FHA, NACA, CALHFA and other government programs to help us – but unless we are shopping in low income areas, we can’t compete with the cash offers elsewhere. If we work together and create real estate investment groups we can began to establish potential generational wealth for our heirs.

Thank you for participating ladies and we look forward to your 2018 forecast! To reach these agents please click their names to be directed to their websites.

Tiffany Curry – Houston, TX

KC Lehman  – Los Angeles, CA

 

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HBCU Money’s 2016 Top 10 HBCU Endowments


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2016 was a rough year for the world, it was even afforded a scary movie trailer, and top ten HBCU endowments were not spared the carnage. Eight out of the top ten HBCU endowments saw negative changes in their market value. The only two to be spared the rod were Meharry Medical College and rising supernova, University of Virgin Islands, who not only led all HBCUs in market value percentage increase, but was second among all American and Canadian institutions reporting in that category. Howard University continues to hold the number one spot and sheer inertia could carry it onto becoming the first billion dollar HBCU endowment. However, after being the star of the top ten last year, Howard finds itself the dog of the show this year with the worst market value percentage performance.

Since breaking into the top ten a few years ago, University of Virgin Islands continues its ascension up the ranks. It is clear they have the special sauce in the islands and if the winds continue in their favor, then the school in Nassau could give HBCUs its sixth endowment over $100 million in short order. Another notable endowment, Texas College with an endowment of only $3.2 million, did see the second highest market change percentage of HBCUs at 6.8 percent.

After a notable absence last year, Florida A&M University, has returned to the list and takes its place as HBCU nation’s fifth endowment over $100 million. This in comparison to 93 of the 799 HWCUs reporting with endowments over the $1 billion mark. Reminding us there is a long way to go before institutional economic equality is achieved.

As always, if you do not see your HBCU in the top 10 – DONATE!**

Endowment in millions $000 (Change in Market Value*)

1. Howard University – $685 775  (-8.5%)

2. Spelman College – $346 789 (-4.5%)

3.  Hampton University – $253 814 (-3.6%)

4.  Meharry Medical College – $142 703 (2.6%)

5. Florida A&M University – $113 117 (N/A)

6.  University of the Virgin Islands – $54 968 (60.4%)

7.  Tennessee State University – $50 246 (-2.3%)

8.  Texas Southern University – $48 163 (-1.1%)

9.  North Carolina A&T State University  – $48 074 (-0.1%)

10. . Virginia State University – $45 812 (-3.4%)

Take a look at how an endowment works. Not only scholarships to reduce the student debt burden but research, recruiting talented faculty & students, faculty salaries, and a host of other things can be paid for through a strong endowment. It ultimately is the lifeblood of a college or university to ensure its success generation after generation.

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*Note: The change in market value does NOT represent the rate of return for the institution’s investments. Rather, the change in the market value of an endowment from FY2015 to FY2016 reflects the net impact of: 1) withdrawals to fund institutional operations and capital expenses; 2) the payment of endowment management and investment fees; 3) additions from donor gifts and other contributions; and 4) investment gains or losses.

** Notable exclusions to the list that HBCU Money believes would otherwise make the top ten are Morehouse College, Tuskegee University, and Dillard University. These HBCUs have never reported their endowment to NACUBO in the time HBCU Money has been recording its annual top ten endowments.

Additional Notes:
NACUBO Average Endowment – $640 737 (-2.9%)
NACUBO Median Endowment – $120 330 (-1.3%)
Top 10 HWCU Endowments combined – $182.5 billion
Source: National Association of College & University Business Officers

Virginia State’s President Abdullah Leading By Example: Establishes Banking Relationship at VSU Credit Union


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In a release on Twitter, Kevin Davenport, Virginia State University’s Chief Financial Officer, announced that President Makolah Abdullah would be establishing a personal banking relationship with Virginia State University Federal Credit Union, which is the  fourth largest HBCU-based credit union with $8.6 million assets.

It is a move that is prominent after the massive banking black movement began last year. Noted web traffic to HBCU Money would spike anytime there was a police shooting last year to our African American Bank and Credit Union directories. Many African American owned banks and credit unions reporting thousands of accounts being opened and millions of dollars being moved as African Americans looked to take more ownership of their economic power. The movement also coupled with years of financial abuse by banks like Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and others towards the African American community.

The decision by President Abdullah is an important moment as college presidents tend to be more a more financially affluent group. Financially affluent African Americans have often been a group that has been missing among African American owned financial institutions as clients, leaving many institutions to try and survive by piecemealing less financially stable customers and contributing to decades of stagnant products and services offered. We hope this will spur many other HBCU presidents to move their banking relationships and continue to set the example for their students and our community that in order to build a stronger African American ecosystem our institutions, all of them, need our support, investment, and patronage.

Of course, the major missing piece is moving institutional accounts. HBCUs control billions in institutional money and could significantly enlarge the $10.4 billion that is now controlled by 339 African American owned banks and credit unions left. However, very few African American financial institutions are capable of handling institutional accounts. Currently, OneUnited Bank, the largest African American owned bank or credit union with $648 million in assets, has two HBCUs, Roxbury Community College and Florida Memorial as institutional clients. As the banks and credit unions become more stable with growing deposits from individuals, then they will be able to offer the more complex products that institutions and businesses need. So while President Abdullah maybe just one account, the halo effect could begin a second wave in the #BankBlack movement in 2017 and beyond.

 

The Endowment Edge: A Conversation With Virginia State University’s Mr. Kevin Davenport


HBCU Money’s editor-in-chief, William A. Foster, IV, sits down with the VP of Finance at Virginia State University located in Petersburg, Virginia. Some of the highlights were how HBCUs can close the wealth gap between HBCU and PWI/HWCU endowments, HBCU financial transparency, and more as Mr. Davenport helps lead VSU’s financial health into the second half of the decade with a continued eye on the generations ahead.

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Mr. Davenport, thank you for taking the time with us. Let us start with telling us a bit about yourself and how you came into your current position? I have worked in higher education finance for over 25 years. I’ve served in a leadership capacity at both public and private institutions and at institutions as large as 35,000 students and as small as 1,000 students. I have a broad finance background which includes hands-on experience with cash management, endowments, investments, budgets, financial statements, audits and financial analysis.

I have served both HBCUs and PWI/HWCUs. I have been Chief Fiscal Officer (CFO) at three HBCUs in Virginia—Virginia Union University, Virginia State University and Saint Paul’s College. I have also served as Treasurer at a PWI/HWCU in Virginia—Virginia Commonwealth University and several of its related foundations (VCU). At VCU, I managed a university working capital pool of about $350 million and oversaw the financing of over $600 million in capital projects. I also serve on the City of Richmond Retirement System Board and Advisory Committee, which oversees approximately $500 million in retirement funds.

I’m a graduate of an HBCU— Hampton University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. I am also a Certified Public Accountant and have earned an MBA from the College of William and Mary and an Ed.S from George Washington University.

Virginia State University and its foundation combined have one of the largest endowments among HBCUs. For those who are unclear about the dynamic of there being two separate endowments, can you give us a bit more detail of why they are separate? How does their separation impact each investment strategy? The university has a $46 million endowment. About $32 million (or about 70%) of the endowment is managed by the University and the remaining $14 million (or 30%) is managed by a related foundation. Like most public universities, VSU established a foundation to allow greater autonomy in managing assets like endowment funds. After the foundation was established, some donors wanted their contributions to continue to be deposited to the University. Since then, the University continues to give its donors and alumni the option of donating to the university or the foundation.

Each endowment is governed by its own investment policy, spending rate and asset allocation targets. The endowments are managed separately, but their investment philosophy and strategies are similar. Both endowments are well diversified portfolios and conservatively invested to protect against a downturn in the market.

There seems to be concern among HBCU alumni who do not think the endowments of HBCUs are transparent enough and therefore create hesitancy to give. What can be done by HBCUs to allow for their alumni base to feel like there is a clear understanding of how their donations are being invested, allocated, and reinvested? I think HBCUs must ensure the highest level of transparency and accountability to its alumni and donors who establish endowment funds. Alumni and donors should receive a report each year detailing the activity in their individual endowment funds. This report should include total dollars for contributions, earnings, distributions and fees made to and from the endowment.

Most universities charge an internal administrative fee to cover costs for administering the endowment. HBCUs need to ensure these administrative fees are fully disclosed to donors and alumni. Sufficient detail should be provided on how the fees are calculated, how the fees are collected, and what the fees are being used for. Governing bodies need to make sure they review and approve all fees periodically.

It is also a good best practice to have donors and alumni sign an endowment agreement at the time the endowment is established. This agreement should provide donors with a clear understanding of how donations are being invested, allocated and reinvested.

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The endowment gap between PWI/HWCUs and HBCUs has grown from 46:1 in 1993 to 106:1 today. What do you think are some ways that gap can start to be closed, especially with HBCUs facing mounting financial pressure? Is there anything Virginia State University is doing in particular? HBCUs can provide greater emphasis on endowment growth. This is a challenge, especially as many HBCUs face more immediate and pressing needs. But administrators have to fight to make it a priority. VSU is aggressive in reaching out to our alumni and donors about the benefits of endowment giving. Our fundraisers include it in their fundraising literature and make it a priority in soliciting funds from alumni and donors.

HBCUs can also work with their governing boards to establish prudent investment and spending policies. A solid investment strategy can help HBCUs earn more on their endowments, thus grow their endowments to help close the gap.

 Over the summer, a ground swell occurred that has spurred many African Americans to move their banking relationships to African American owned banks and credit unions. Very few HBCUs have banking relationships with African American owned banks, while we know you can not speak for other HBCUs, can you explain Virginia State University’s current relationship with any African American owned banks if any? And what does it say that there is not more husbandry between HBCUs and African American owned banks? VSU does not have any formal relationships with African American owned banks or credit unions. There is a nearby credit union that bears the name “Virginia State University Credit Union”, but the entity has no legal association with the University.

In terms of investment strategy, does Virginia State University primarily internally manage its endowments; use external managers, or a mixture of both? The University engages professional investment advisors and managers to help it oversee its endowment funds. The investment advisors and managers have discretion to invest the funds according to a board-approved investment policy. The investment policy allows the endowment funds to be invested in a diversified investment pool which includes domestic and international equities, fixed income, hedge funds, real estate, and private equity.

The current macro environment in the United States of the zero interest rate policy by the Federal Reserve for the past decade has changed the way many individual and institutional investors set strategy. How do you think it has impacted smaller endowments like HBCUs versus the Big 30 college endowments? Because of the current low interest environment, institutional investors have had to go elsewhere to make money. Institutional investors at the Big 30 college endowments have increased their allocations to non-traditional and riskier asset classes such as private equities, international equities, hedge funds and real estate. Smaller endowments, like at HBCUs, have a harder time accessing these non-traditional asset classes. Further, the Big 30 endowments have been able to hire high-paid Chief Investment Officers (CIO) and specialized investment professionals to help them earn greater returns. Smaller endowments are not able to pay CIOs and their staffs. As such, the smaller endowments continue to lag the investment performance of the Big 30 endowments thus continuing to increase the performance gap.

In following up on that last point, given that 30 colleges & universities control 52% of America’s $500 billion college endowments and 100 times all HBCU endowments combined, what are your thoughts on a policy that would redistribute some of PWI/HWCUs endowments to HBCU coffers or incentivize large donors to give to smaller endowments? I like the idea of incentivizing donors to give more to smaller endowments. Perhaps, donors can receive a greater tax break when donating to smaller endowments like the ones at HBCUs.

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Student loan debt seems to have direct correlations to college endowments, regardless of the school’s cost. We noted in our last report that despite being cheaper, HBCU graduates are finishing with an average of $30,344 in student loan debt versus the top 50 college endowments who finish with $22,020. Coupled with African America’s wealth being sixteen times less than their counterparts this makes student loan debt a compounding issue for wealth building. Is there a more active role HBCUs can take in helping close the wealth gap in the coming decades for African American families? I think the major driver for greater student debt at HBCUs stems from family wealth. According to a recent study done by the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia, the average family income of a student at the public HBCUs in Virginia is about $30,000 per year as compared to an average of about $60,000 per year for the other public universities. In fact, the average family income for some of the largest Virginia universities was over $100,000 per year. Additionally, over 85% of VSU’s undergraduates receive need-based financial assistance which is much larger than PWI/HWCUs. HBCU students struggle to pay the costs so HBCUs must keep their cost of attendance low compared to other PWI/HWCUs. A larger endowment would certainly help HBCUs fill their student’s need and thus reduce their debt burden.

For those interested in one day becoming the head of a university endowment what advice would you give them? If you are interested in heading a university endowment, my advice is to understand that your responsibilities go much further than merely overseeing institutional investments. At a college or university, you would be required to regularly communicate to a broad range of constituents such as donors, alumni, students, faculty, governing boards and administrators.

Thank you for your time; in parting do you have anything you would like to add? No.

HBCU Money’s 2015 Top 10 HBCU Endowments


 

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The keyword for  2015’s HBCU endowments – concerning. Two bellwether HBCU endowments, Spelman College and Hampton University, saw negative declines in their endowment’s market value. Outside of Howard University storming ahead at 11.7 percent, no other HBCU endowment saw double digit gains with North Carolina A&T State University missing the mark by 10 basis points. This is a far cry from 2014’s list when 9 out of 10 reported double digit gains. If there is any solace in the numbers and there is not much, it is that the top ten endowments of our HWCU counterparts had no endowments return double digit gains and also saw 2 out of their 10 with declines in market value.

Although there are some notable absences** from our top ten list, it certainly would not change the reality that still only three HBCUs have endowments above the $200 million mark and none have reached the $1 billion plateau, although Howard University, despite its noted financial issues seems to be headed there unabated and without much competition from Spelman College or Hampton University, the only real challengers. John Wilson, president at Morehouse College, in an interview with Harvard Magazine in 2013 noted, “is the need to build endowments; less than $200 million makes you, by definition, unhealthy.” This still remains the case and as a baseline means that 97 percent of all HBCUs are financially unhealthy. Even more concerning is that there seems to be no real plan in place to address this. A canary in the coal mine though is that donations of $1 million or more to HBCUs jumped from one in 2013 to nine in 2014, but donations of the eight and nine figure variety, also known as transformative donations, are still absent at HBCUs.

As always if you do not see your HBCU in the top 10 – DONATE!**

Endowment in millions $000 (Change in Market Value*)

1. Howard University – $659 639 (11.7%)

2. Spelman College – $362 986 (-1.1%)

3. Hampton University – $263 237 (-8.7%)

4. Meharry Medical College – $139 054 (1.5%)

5. Tennessee State University – $51 416 (1.8%)

6. Texas Southern University – $48 684 (4.5%)

7. Virginia State University – $47 432 (4.9%)

8. North Carolina A&T State University – $48 100 (9.9%)

9. Winston-Salem State University – $37 219 (8.5%)

10. University of the Virgin Islands – $34 274 (-9.0%)

Take a look at how an endowment works. Not only scholarships to reduce the student debt burden but research, recruiting talented faculty & students, faculty salaries, and a host of other things can be paid for through a strong endowment. It ultimately is the lifeblood of a college or university to ensure its success generation after generation.

endowment-works-1

*Note: The change in market value does NOT represent the rate of return for the institution’s investments. Rather, the change in the market value of an endowment from FY2013 to FY2014 reflects the net impact of: 1) withdrawals to fund institutional operations and capital expenses; 2) the payment of endowment management and investment fees; 3) additions from donor gifts and other contributions; and 4) investment gains or losses.

** Notable exclusions to the list that HBCU Money believes would otherwise make the top ten are Morehouse College, Tuskegee University, Dillard University, and Florida A&M University. Morehouse College, Tuskegee University, and Dillard University have never reported their endowment to NACUBO in the time HBCU Money has been recording its annual top ten endowments. Florida A&M University who was number five last year did not appear in this year’s list from NACUBO.

Additional Notes:
NACUBO Average Endowment – $648 074 (1.7%)
NACUBO Median Endowment – $115 828 (-0.9%)
Top 10 HWCU Endowments combined – $185.4 billion
Source: National Association of College & University Business Officers