In the final instalment of our Black History Month investor special, we speak to Roland John, co-founder of property information platform, Property Cohort.
Property Cohort is a property information hub, created by a group of property professionals who offer advice, tips and services for those who are buying, selling or investing in their homes.
Here, Roland discusses the motivation behind Property Cohort, frankly addresses prejudice in the property industry and also shines a light on other organisations helping to improve inclusion in the property market.
What prompted you to start Property Cohort?
I was fortunate enough to get on the property ladder when I was 22. Off the back of this, everyone kept asking me how I did it. So I wrote a blog explaining how I did it. This made me realise that the majority of young people in the UK did not have the knowledge/education to make them believe that getting on the property ladder was in fact achievable.
So, I started a Twitter page called “Tweets and Mortar” with my friend (and now Property Cohort business partner) where we would tweet property tips and saving guidance.
Out of this Twitter page, Property Cohort was born.
Tell us a bit more about your involvement with property and your background...
My degree is in Accounting & Management and I have over 10 years experience as a project manager across various London councils.
In terms of our business I project manage all of our design and build projects and content we put out whilst my co-founder Paul has 10 years-plus experience in the real estate industry and is responsible for investments, sales and lettings.
What is your greatest achievement with Property Cohort so far and what made it so fulfilling?
I wouldn’t say there has been one sole greatest achievement...however, the fact that so many people come to us to tell us we either helped or inspired them to get on the property ladder is probably the most fulfilling.
(If I HAD to choose one achievement … Being featured in Forbes as a company to watch this year was pretty fulfilling as it’s a publication I grew up loving!)
Have you faced any barriers in your property journey due to your race?
Unfortunately, we have faced many barriers (mostly stereotypes) so we’ll just list a few:
The main barrier we face is that people don’t think we work in the industry let alone own a business in the industry. Common issues we face include:
Lack of opportunities. We only tend to get opportunities/recognition during Black History Month or from black-owned publications.
People often think we’re the tenant rather than the landlord.
We’ve had the police called on us when viewing properties we own/manage because neighbours haven’t believed we are the owners.
What can be done to encourage more people from the black community to get involved with property development, investment and the property market in general?
I think educating black people on property is the best way to encourage them to be involved. From previous experience and conversations, I have found that knowledge is the biggest barrier to getting on the ladder not a lack of money.
I also think big property publications need to shine the light on members of the black community that own property businesses and invest and work in the industry. Without visibility, it is hard to inspire!
Is the property market diverse enough, or does it need to do more to encourage greater diversity, especially in the highest positions of power?
No, it is not diverse enough. I didn’t even know it was possible to do a Real Estate degree when I was at university because I had literally never heard of or seen a black person that worked in the property industry.
I think companies like the Land Collective are essential to changing this. They focus on attracting, engaging and retaining diverse early talent. There are also other organisations like We Rise In, that focus on more mid-senior levels.
Do you think there is still a gap in the market for available property networks and/or resources in the black community?
I think the gaps have now been filled as there are many organisations similar to Property Cohort. The key now is more opportunities like this one to promote platforms like Property Cohort that are providing knowledge and services for investors and buyers.
What would your advice be to others in the black community who wish to get involved in property?
Follow Property Cohort and reach out to us! We are always happy to help!
*For further insight, you can view part 1, part 2 and part 3 of our series.