David Pridgen worked for the post office before becoming a real estate agent serving the Greater Baltimore area. He opened his own brokerage, Realty ONE Group Excellence, in 2017. (Courtesy photo)

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

In 1999, Baltimore native David Pridgen worked for the U.S. Postal Service but to supplement his income, he delivered newspapers in his spare time. 

Traveling through city neighborhoods, he would often see “for sale” signs. Some of the properties he saw captured his attention because of their unique features, so much so that he decided he would leave the postal service and become a real estate agent. 

He started his career with widely known real estate firms, like Long and Foster and Remax. 

During his second year in the industry, he met a family that lived in just one room. Pridgen was able to help them get approved for a mortgage and find a home. 

This was a turning point for Pridgen. Seeing the excitement on their faces and feeling their gratitude let him know that he could change people’s lives through real estate. 

In 2016, he decided he was ready to branch out and create his own brokerage firm. 

“I wanted to try to affect the masses when it comes to real estate professionals, making sure they are provided with the tools and support they need, and I didn’t see a better way to do that other than opening a brokerage,” said Pridgen. 

Pridgen opened Pikesville-based Realty ONE Group Excellence in 2017. The brokerage serves individuals in the Baltimore Metropolitan area and surrounding counties, specializing in leasing and residential and commercial real estate. 

At Realty ONE Group Excellence, real estate agents collect 100 percent of commissions rather than having to split them with a broker. They also have access to one-on-one and team coaching surrounding different facets of real estate, like agent accountability and the difference between working with buyers and sellers. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Pridgen said the housing market boomed despite high unemployment rates in the country and the uncertain future of the economy. 

“The last two years have been kind of phenomenal for the housing market, and one thing that really impacted the market itself were interest rates,” said Pridgen. “They were at record lows, some times below 3 percent and a lot of times between 3 and 4 percent, which was great for anybody purchasing in that timeframe.” 

However, the large demand for home outweighed the supply, spurring higher price points and higher offers. 

Currently, many buyers think the housing market is in a bubble, or a temporary period with high demand, low supply and inflated prices. With this comes the fear of the bubble bursting, or prices crashing and demand falling, which can often lead to a decline in the economy.

But, Pridgen disagrees. He thinks that in time the market will become a level playing field for both buyers and sellers where real estate agents can create win-win situations. 

Home ownership, for Pridgen, is an avenue for creating generational wealth. Individuals can use the equity they build to afford and achieve things they wouldn’t have been able to before becoming a homeowner, like starting a business, debt consolidation and college and continuing education costs. 

After more than 20 years in the industry, Pridgen’s biggest challenge in real estate has been inclining clients to take him seriously. He thinks the hindrance is at least partially because of the color of his skin. 

Early in his career, Pridgen would first meet clients over the phone, and when some finally met him in person, they told him they were going to postpone buying a house. A few days later, he would see the same client return to the office to work with an agent who matched their skin color. 

Prigden said he’s never let these incidents faze him though. 

“I believe you can be and do anything if you put your mind to it,” said Pridgen.

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