Missy Conway, Conway Real Estate. (Courtesy Photo)

By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer,
Report for America Corps Member,
msayles@afro.com

Before opening her Baltimore boutique real estate brokerage, Missy Conway was an actuary for an insurance company. 

Born in Trinidad and Tobago, she came to the U.S. in 1995 to attend Temple University for actuarial science, but she moved to the Baltimore area after graduation. 

Conway found that working for Corporate America didn’t allow for a healthy balance between her professional and personal life, so she decided to get her real estate license in 2004. 

Several years later, she opened Conway Real Estate as an independent brokerage, not tied to any national real estate franchises or chains. Since its inception, the firm has accomplished over $230 million in sales, and this year, it’s celebrating its 10th anniversary. 

“It’s a smaller brokerage, and because of that, we are very hands-on, and I’m very heavily involved in all of the agents and their transactions,” said Conway. “As far as a consumer would go, it’s a very different feel than working with some of the larger, big-box brokerages.” 

Conway Real Estate works with buyers and sellers and strives to provide a hyper-personalized experience to each client. It also offers a luxury flat fee program, which bestows commission savings to clients without jeopardizing service quality or successful outcomes. 

When asked about the barriers Black Americans face to homeownership, Conway said the question was like a dagger to her heart. For her, there are a myriad of conditions that prevent African Americans from becoming homeowners, but lack of knowledge is foremost. 

“A lot of times, African Americans just continue to do what they’ve always seen around them, which is not homeownership,” said Conway. “It’s almost like you know what you know and you do what you’ve always seen around you.” 

Conway said there is also a lack of access and resources for Black buyers, and in some cases, racial bias continues to influence mortgage rates and approval, home appraisal and the homebuying process as a whole. 

She’s seen many buyers lose out on a house just before closing because they didn’t know that they should apply for new credit or that they shouldn’t make large purchases.

With better education and access to knowledgeable lenders and realtors, Conway thinks African-American buyers can better prepare themselves for purchasing a home. They can also take advantage of the assistance, programs and grants available to them, especially if they are first-time home buyers. 

“You have to really, really become so disciplined as you embark on that journey to become a homeowner,” said Conway.

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