The Houston Association of REALTORS® (HAR) recently hosted one of its most popular events, the 2023 Housing Symposium: Housingpalooza, with more than 400 real estate professionals in attendance. This event’s popularity signifies a major step forward in tackling the intricate challenges faced by the housing market in the Greater Houston area. The Housing Symposium is more than just a conference, it is a dynamic combination of education, collaboration, and strategic planning, aimed at empowering real estate professionals during these tumultuous times.

The Symposium featured an exceptional lineup of industry experts, local elected officials, and community stakeholders, each bringing valuable insights to the table. The event programming was curated by my team along with HAR Governmental Affairs and Professional Development Advisory Group members. One of the symposium’s greatest strengths was its role in fostering professional growth among attendees. We worked with HAR’s Professional Development team to ensure the event was approved by TREC for three hours of continuing education credit. REALTORS® also had the opportunity to network, share experiences, and build relationships with peers and leaders in the industry.

Each session at the Housingpalooza was designed to delve deep into vital housing concepts. Topics ranged from expanding affordable housing options and promoting equal housing, to tackling major obstacles in the housing market such as financial, legislative, and societal issues. The symposium also placed a strong emphasis on equipping REALTORS® with the knowledge and tools necessary to guide consumers through the complexities of the housing market. This included insightful sessions on preparing consumers for the home loan process and understanding credit worthiness, which are critical in today’s challenging economic landscape.

This year’s Housingpalooza was more than just an event; it was a pivotal moment for the Houston real estate community. By bringing together a diverse group of participants and focusing on education, collaboration, and strategy, HAR has set a new benchmark for industry symposiums. As the Houston housing market continues to evolve, the insights and connections fostered at this event will undoubtedly play a crucial role in shaping its future. The success of this event is a testament to HAR’s commitment to addressing the pressing issues in housing sector and its dedication to the professional development of its members.

Keynote Speakers

  • Cathy Treviño, HAR’s Chair of the Board, introduced the first keynote speaker, Ryan Gorman, who joined via video and gave a national overview of the state of real estate. Ryan Gorman is the principal and co-founder of btcRE and GHY Impact Capital LLC, is an urban planning and policy wonk, real estate developer, and champion for positive social change. He is also a former investment banker and private equity professional and was recently CEO of the $5 billion global real estate company, Coldwell Banker.

The final keynote speaker was Houston’s own Martha Castex-Tatum, Houston City Council Member (District K) and HAR member. She was introduced by Thomas Mouton, HAR’s incoming Chair of the Board. Martha Castex-Tatum is a notable figure in Houston’s political and civic landscape. She also serves as Vice Mayor Pro Tem and recently served as the President of the Texas Municipal League (TML). In addition to her role in politics, she has been a successful residential and commercial realtor®, working with Keller Williams Realty and Berkshire Hathaway Home Services.


Special Remarks

  • Dr. Courtney Johnson Rose is the President of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB), a leading network of Black real estate professionals with over 100 chapters nationwide. Since 2019, she has served as CEO of GEJ, securing contracts with various institutions and agencies. In addition to her corporate responsibilities, Rose is actively involved in community development. She is part of the Community Collective for Houston, which acquired The Power Center, a multipurpose facility featuring a business incubator and other amenities.

Homebuilder Spotlight

  • Ayesha and Kevan Shelton: Founded in 2016 by Kevan & Ayesha Shelton, Park Street Homes was created to provide the level of homes that so many young professionals and families were searching for in the urban core of Houston. With each home and development, they are providing quality housing and infrastructure to the urban & suburban landscapes. Each home is truly a unique experience. From our curated design to material selection there are no homes like Park Street Homes, with developments in South Houston, Sunnyside, 5th Ward, South Union, and more.
  • Raquel and Felipe Boujourne: The Boujournes are the co-founders of S&B Builds, which is dedicated to finding building solutions with sustainability. They are a problem-solving business that believes in removing barriers to home ownership and supports various causes such as affordable housing and economic solutions to the national housing crises. S&B Builds was founded in 2017 and is a Houston-based construction company that is led by minority women. No project is too big or small for this family-owned business and they strive for customer satisfaction.

Affordable Housing/Fair Housing: What does that even mean?

  • Laurie Benner, National Fair Housing Alliance
  • Alexia Smokler, National Association of REALTORS®
  • Cupid Alexandar, Houston Housing Authority
  • Moderator: Jay Bradley
  • Key Concepts: The history of the Fair Housing Act, Barriers to Housing and Homeownership, Affordable Housing and Attainability.

Housing is a Local Issue: Do we have a housing plan?

  • Ashley Allen, Houston Community Land Trust
  • Christa Stoneham, Houston Land Bank
  • Thao Costis, Harris County Housing Department
  • Moderator: Alan Watkins, Houston Housing Collaborative
  • Key Concepts: What is causing the lack of housing, what can be done to fix it without a housing plan, builder/developer perspectives, and the opportunity for collaboration.

Credit Worthiness, Getting a Home Loan

  • Kimberley Carr, Freddie Mac
  • Yaneth Martell, Synergy One Lending
  • Moderator: Richelle Henderson, Harris County Housing Department
  • Key Concepts: Making sure your client is credit ready to get a home loan, getting a home loan with certain barriers, different products offered by Freddie Mac and lenders and how to utilize them to promote homeownership.

Barriers to Homeownership: What groups are most impacted?

  • Riaz Pooran, ALLIANCE
  • Felicia Guidry, HBREA
  • Carlene “CJ” Johnson, VAREP
  • Olga Garza, NAHREP
  • Victor Lee, AREAA
  • Syed Mubashir, SAREP
  • Moderator: Tracy Brown
  • Key Concepts: State of Housing Emergency, questions about each group’s perspective and experience, foreign land ownership, redlining, pocket listings, love letters, and other issues impacting the groups they serve.