Lisa Phillips is the founder of Affordable Real Estate Investments, which helps black professionals with homeownership. She started the company out of her years of experience in the real estate industry, helping people of color own homes.
An electrical engineer by profession, Philips in 2005 bought a $400,000 home in Las Vegas with 0% down during the housing boom in the United States. However, it turned out that her mortgage payment was more than what she could afford and she fell behind. Following the housing bubble, her home was revalued at $160,000, but she still owned more than half of that, according to Time.
Phillips would later move to Ohio in 2008 after she was laid off to purchase a $35,000 condo in a diverse, working-class neighborhood while still settling her mortgage payment in Las Vegas. According to Time, Phillips foreclosed on the property instead of going ahead to pay back an investment that didn’t make financial sense. “But surprisingly, the $35,000 condo, with its $340 monthly mortgage payment, started to pay for itself — and Phillips saw a new kind of potential,” the Time noted.
She subsequently purchased two more under $35,000 rental properties in Baltimore, Maryland, and Richmond, Virginia. The properties were all located in predominantly Black neighborhoods.
Following her success in real estate, Phillips, who is based in Hampton Roads, Virginia, is now teaching others how to start their real estate journey through podcasts, YouTube videos, courses, and consultancy. According to Time, her customers are typically middle-income Black professionals with white-collar jobs.
Phillips started her entrepreneurial journey without generational wealth. She had no one to turn to for financial help like her white colleagues. Throughout her journey, she encountered real estate investors who thought she had affluent family members who gave her money to go into real estate.
“As a black American, the reality is I get paid 82 cents on the dollar,” Phillips said. “[White real estate investors are] making more money, they’re not redlined, they don’t pay more for insurance, they probably have more equity in their home. I’m 20% more likely to get rejected even if I have the same credit profile and [make] the same amount of money. I know those studies because I have to know them. The people giving [real estate] advice have no clue.”
Phillips does not fall into the category of Black investors who buy properties at low prices and flip them for high prices. Instead, she teaches people how to fish. She teaches her students and clients how to purchase affordable properties.
She has also built a community of like-minded investors on social media platforms like Facebook and has a membership drawn from across the U.S.