Seven years ago, Catina Wright won a contract to be the real estate agent for 106 new houses in Blackwell, the blighted community in South Richmond that was being rebuilt by the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority. At the time, Wright refused to walk through the neighborhood alone. Prostitution and drug dealing were common sights.
Yet she believed in Blackwell’s future. She convinced clients that buying there was a wise investment, especially when they could receive as much as $50,000 in grant money. One by one, she sold those houses. “And when you drive through there now,” she says, “you see a neighborhood.”
Wright and her team of five agents now specialize in working with first-time and low-income home buyers in urban neighborhoods such as Fulton, Jackson Ward and Randolph. One recent client was a single mother who told Wright she couldn’t afford to buy a house. Wright found her one with a $615 mortgage — $200 less than her rent. By buying a house, her client essentially gave herself a raise, Wright says: “And she did it on her own.”
Wright recently worked with Habitat for Humanity to redesign and sell the last six houses in the nonprofit’s ambitious Pillars at Oakmont development in Church Hill. She also won a contract to sell properties owned by Petersburg, and she’s hoping to help perk up that city’s real estate market.
Buyers are now asking her, “Do you have anything left in Blackwell?” Just two remaining, she tells them.