20 GLOBEST. REAL ESTATE FORUM JULY/AUGUST 2020
that they wouldn’t ordinarily ask a man or a White
woman. For instance, Loveless took the master lease on
several cottages in a business park that were set against
a lovely lake. They were so beautiful she decided to rent
one for herself. However she had a hard time commu-
nicating to another corporate tenant that they could no
longer use the land next to her cottage—her backyard
essentially—for their own picnics or outdoor lunches.
“It took several visits and calls on my part to get them tostay on their own land. I finally told them, ‘how wouldyou feel if I came to your office and ate lunch in yourlobby’. Then they finally got it.” But really, she adds,why was it necessary to have this conversation morethan once?
Another example: Loveless also creates the interior
design for her units, which she says often is comple-
mented by designers. One tenant told her he wanted to
put up pictures of the unit on its website. “I told them
‘no, that is my intellectual property. You can link people
to my site if you want to show it off.’ I think they were
taken aback by that. That I would be grateful that they
were willing to showcase my work.”
It has been a long time since Loveless has experi-
enced overt racism but thoughts of early episodes in her
career came to forefront in June after George Floyd’s
killing and the subsequent peaceful protests and then,
in some cities, riots. “There was a backlash in the com-
munity and the message of Black Lives Matter was
drowned out,” she says. Her first thoughts were to make
sure her tenants were safe and to check on the where-
abouts of her adult son. Loveless is unsure how or when
the nation can recover from these events. The best she
can do is apply what she has learned from a career in
commercial real estate—a career that she says she
wouldn’t trade in if she could do it all over again. “You
always have a choice. You can either feel sorry for your-
self or trust in your abilities and find a way to be produc-
tive and support your community.”
A FUND OF HER OWN
Stafford of Stafford Realty Group is heading into a sec-
ond act of her own. She is currently launching her first
commercial real estate fund dedicated to housing health
facilities that will address the issue of bias in the medical
profession. It is a for-profit community impact fund with
a first raise goal of $10 million, Stafford explains.
Fundraising for a novice is no easy task, especially for
women, which rarely are found in such positions.
But Stafford has had her share of “firsts” before in theCRE industry, having launched her career decades agoin Harlem.
Stafford’s school counselors urged her to become ateacher or a nurse, but she had already caught the realestate bug from her mother who bought houses with herbrother and rented them out. “That is what I grew upwith,” she remembers.
Stafford got her first job by walking into the office of
an owner of a 12-story building in Harlem and asking for
a job. “He told me to walk up and down 155th Street and
ask tenants about their leases and if they were happy with
their buildings. So I did it.”
As she got the hang of it, Stafford became quite
aggressive in leasing out stores. Her boss, a member of
REBNY, sent her to the organization to represent the
company. “I was the only Black person on the board.”
That was the makeup of the industry back then, she says.
“When I would go to a conference there might have
been 100 white men in suits in a room, 10 women if that
and one Black person. That was usually me.”
A Black broker working for a Black businessman,
Stafford found in her early days that landlords were
reluctant to pay the company what was the norm in fees.
“We had to train people that we expected our money,
that we wouldn’t just accept a partial payment,” she says.
Sometimes that wouldn’t work and it would be off to the
courthouse for the company to get its rightful due.
Things started to change when big business started to
rediscover Harlem and landlords realized there was sig-
nificant money to be made. “Then they did deals with us
without the pushback because we were here and knew
the neighborhood,” Stafford says.
But the trips to the courthouse haven’t been com-
pletely relegated to memory lane, although Stafford is
quick to acknowledge that litigation is part of the com-
mercial real estate landscape no matter what your gen-
der or race. Two years ago, she recently had to sue for
“WHEN YOU ARE UNDER THE GUN YOU CAN’T BE AFRAID TO RETALIATE AND
USE THE RIGHT TECHNIQUES.”
PRESIDENT OF CJM ASSOCIATES