August 13th, 2023 - Amber Nestor - Real Estate Firm Owner & Principal Broker
Image Above: Stock Photo
I'm the sort of person who is always reading, studying, and learning new things. I like to understand how everything works. I do continuing ed year-round & lifelong, in two or more fiends of study at a time.
Anyway, during my reading today, while waiting for a client call, I was reading about banking and history.
Now, allow me to sidetrack briefly, to give a little to the meal of this article.
I was born in 1984 to a young married couple in Louisiana. When I was around 6 years old, maybe 7, we moved to TN, and I have loved Tennessee ever since. I will likely never leave. I truly love this place.
My Father was a hard worker, to say the least. He was also a very kind, strong Christian man. He was salt of the Earth, protective, but also gave everyone around him respect, freedom, and friendship. I never felt afraid of my father, never in my whole life. I was a good kid, an athlete, a lover of Bible study, and a passionate student. I can't recall getting in trouble a single time for anything, and I don't remember ever feeling tempted to break any rules. My Father was about the greatest sort of Dad a person could ever hope to have. When I was around 15 years old, my Father left this Earth and went to be with the Lord, Our God, in Heaven.
I never had a healthy or strong bond, or relationship with my Mother, nor my full biological sister, unfortunately. I pray for them regularly.
I noticed throughout my life that as a woman, I experienced an EXTREME amount of discrimination. Part of this is because of the deep roots of ideology that kind-of make everyone feel like it's normal to treat women less than great. It's not necessarily that ANYONE actually believes that women are LESS than great. It's just that it's become like a tradition to expect women to have bad experiences. That is the deeper problem.
It was something that logically perplexed me, and I didn't really understand where this came from. I understood old traditions, and religious extremism. I understand the natural obstacle in the animal kingdom, of those with more physical strength and situational power are always going to have the opportunity to impose un-fairness upon others. I understood things like that on a basic level, but I never really read much about history that was focused on WOMEN and the female experience in the United States. In school, I remember being taught that women earned the right to vote in political elections in August of 1920. That was roughly 103 years ago now.
But, I never really thought to look up much about banking and things, and how women, specifically, were impacted in that regard.
Until around 2017. I was reading a book about Financial Advice by a popular figure in politics, and that author said something about women not being allowed to have their own credit cards up until a certain point in time. I thought, that's odd. But, didn't look into in depth, until today.
And what I found on Google, infuriated me! So, I thought as a female business owner, and one who has gone up against an extreme amount of adversity to get to where I am today, it was definitely worth while to share both what I learned today about important rights and freedoms that women only very recently earned, and also about the extreme forms of discrimination that are STILL enduring, and that I personally have experienced and witnessed the proof of.
Understanding your enemy, your obstacle, your war, is the only way you can fight it, create effective strategy, be wise, and win and succeed in any area of life!
Okay, so first, let's look at a few of the historical turning points for women:
1. Women are allowed the right to vote in August 1920. (103 years ago)
2. Women are allowed the right to open their own bank account in 1974, when the Equal Credit Opportunity Act passed. ( Note: Technically, this was supposed to occur in the 1960s, but many banks still refused to allow women to do this unless they had a HUSBAND to cosign with them. ) 1974 was only about 49 years ago!
3. Women are allowed the right to own a credit card in their own name, also by way of impact from the ECOA mentioned above, and to not be discriminated against due to gender.
4. Additionally, also in 1974, is the year considered to be women's mortgage liberation. Prior to that, financial institutions could refuse, for example, to open a mortgage of a woman, or require that she have a male cosigner.
I have never heard anyone in my family talk about anything like this, ever. In fact, I've never heard any woman, or man, talk about this ever. That is a really big deal!!!
So, now we will talk about the way I myself have been DESCRIMINATED AGAINST as a woman, and the ways in which I have witness other women be DESCRIMINIATED AGAINST in housing, banking, and lending! This is the juicy part!
As much as I would like to name names, I won't!
This is huge problem however, and after I discuss some incidences that I have experienced, and witnessed, I will discuss the solutions.
First of all, let's just all acknowledge that laws don't protect people! Okay.
Laws don't give people rights!
Your rights and the protection of you and laws that benefit you are only effective if two factors are present:
They are at large accepted in general by society and practiced because society as a whole has agreed in a majority to believe those laws are right, valuable, and good. There will still be bad actors!
They are at large EASILY enforced, effectively enforced, and outcomes are monitored, and penalties deter bad actors.
There are a lot of great laws. A lot of stupid laws. And a ton of laws that are only enforceable if you are extremely blessed, extremely wealthy, and have nothing better to do than blow thousands or hundreds of thousands paying lawyers and judges to listen to you in court.
Okay, so here are SOME of the ways I myself have experienced DESCRIMINIATION as a woman that impacted my ability to access housing, banking, lending, credit, etc. (Keep in mind, at the time of writing this I am about to turn 39, and I was born in 1984.)
I have been told by over 8 different landlords, "We don't want single Mothers renting here." And despite my having excellent credit, excellent proof of income for 10+ years, proof of education, references, proof of church membership, and gym membership, was denied rental housing, illegally!!!
At more than 2 places I rented in the past, I was sexually harassed by landlords, their friends, and their maintenance men, and when I requested the behavior stop, it only got worse. In one scenario, I was evicted without cause when I was a single Mother, working, continuing education, and without any child support, even though ALL of my bills were on time or early monthly! I experienced days when friend of a landlord approached me while carrying my baby into my home with the other arm filled with groceries, and this man would say things to me like, "I fantasize about raping you every day." I also experienced coming home to my residence, and finding maintenance men in my apartment, when returning home from the grocery store with my baby. Other times I would return, and find my belongings had been moved around, or that items that did not belong to me had been placed in my kitchen sink as a sort of game of intimidation and fear. I had a landlord tell me that if I get late on my rent that I should have sex with him to avoid paying a late fee. He said this while my baby was in my arms. When I attempted to request that this sort of behavior stop, in the most kind and humble way, I was retaliated against with either eviction or in once case the landlord, and the maintenance man came into my apartment 1-2 times per month with a giant tank of bug poison spray, and they would proceed to spray in on EVERYTHING, and I mean EVERYTHING while I watched, and held my baby in my arms. Our clothes, our dishes, our food, all over everything everywhere. I would be given dirty looks, and intimidated, and then they would leave. It was terrifying. It was devastating. I could share so many more stories, but there is not time for it today. It would fill a novel, a very long novel.
3. In planning for a first date, with a gentleman I was attempting to befriend, he boasted to me, proudly, about how he worked in UNDERWRITING for a mortgage company. And said that, "Women who go to nail salons don't deserve mortgages or homes. And so that he looks for these types of expenses on their bank statements, and immediately declines their loans." I remember sitting their thinking, "Does this guy really think I will respect him after that comment." Obviously, I blocked his number and never spoke to him again.
4. Many women who have had EXTRAORDINARILY difficult lives, and who have worked in various areas of the adult entertainment industry in order to have access to education, healthcare, and start up capital to better themselves, start businesses, and attain housing and transportation, and provide for their families needs, needs of their children, or needs of their sick or dying friends and loved ones are NOTORIOUSLY discriminated against when trying to get housing, lending, banking, etc. This is a HUGE problem. Personally, I believe God loves these women! And has compassion for their suffering and hardship! And I believe that they deserved the BEST treatment imaginable in all areas of life!
5. Single Mothers who are attacked by disgruntled Grandparents or other family members in the child custody courts are especially harmed. Their children are so CRUELLY taken away from them, kept from them, in much like a style of pure kidnapping (essentially held hostage) while attorneys, judges, and others LINE THEIR POCKETS. These women are financially destroyed, and their ability to build financial abundance and stability is often completely ruined, which ultimately ruins the future of their children's lives as well.
6. In 2018 and 2019, I, myself, found that I was struggling to find a mortgage lender that did not seem to be discriminating against me as a single woman. I finally found one that agree to work with me in 2019, in the Summer. Lots of companies were really great at coming up with "reasons" or "excuses" why they could not work with me. It was beyond frustrating. Other turns of events led me to choose to postpone utilize that mortgage, and I ended up relocating to a different part of TN in 2020.
7. In 2019, I sought out a loan for an important goal. I sought out the loan through the bank I was currently using, and had used for several years. I was experiencing the highest earning year of my entire life at the time, and was 10 months into that year. I had a wonderful credit score, and the bank directly had my excellent proof of income. I sat there for over an hour at the bank, and the woman assisting me seemed to think I met all criteria for the loan. She sent the application info back to a "him" underwriter, and when she got back "his" result, I was told NO. I asked her to explain why "he" denied me, and she said, "The only way they are going to give you this loan is if you a co-signer. Do you have a boyfriend? A husband? An ex-husband? A father? That could co-sign for you?" I thought to myself, "My God. Is this because I am a woman?! You've got to be kidding me!!!" I said, "Wait, please don't close the bank. My father is dead. But, I might be able to get in touch with my ex-husband." I called him in tears. I begged him to come to my aid. I promised him I would repay the loan, and he knew 100% how capable and intelligent and professional I am. The bank allowed me to stay an hour late at the bank past the closing time, inside with the lender lady, waiting for my ex-husband to arrive, who had a lower credit score than me, less income that me, and LUCKY FOR HIM A PENIS! And guess what?! The underwrite approved the loan! Why my goodness! How fascinating! I have a very hard time not believing that was all about me being a woman. A very, very hard time. I paid by the entire loan, perfectly, and early, and gave my ex-husband a really nice BOOST to his credit score! One could argue that the bank was simply trying to limit their liability and risk, by having 2 people on the loan, instead of one. But, I was CLEARLY more credit worthy according to our insane credit system here in the US, AND was earning more money than him at the time.
8. In doing some research, underwriters are often no required to have much education. And their supporting staff is not often required to have much either. Additionally, if the company, bank, or lender they work for trusts them, and is pleased with their results, then there is really likely no incentive to take a closer look at how they treat people. Lastly, if the lender themselves is comfortable discriminating against people, then the underwriters and lenders can get away with treating you however they please. Let's face it, bias DOES factors into peoples' decision making, and if they really believe that a woman is less capable or less able, and they believe that lending to a woman is a greater risk, than in their minds, I am sure they are justified in treating women differently. Factually, women do have a higher risk of having their incomes interrupted by pregnancy and female related diseases, and are more likely to experience instability in their incomes due to these sorts of things. So, is it reasonable to treat them like they are a higher risk to lend to? Maybe there is an argument for that. What if woman has had her uterus cut out of her, and pregnancy and period are impossibilities for her, like me. Should I be able to carry a card that says, "Can't have babies. Safer to lend to." If so, sign me up! Or how about, "I had my cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries all cut out of me, and all I got was this stupid preferred lending card." I'd carry that card! LOL
So, the next time you are feeling perplexed, if you are woman reading this, by the way that a man you are interacting with seems to so casually ignore, dismiss, or undervalue you presence, your wants, your needs, your desires, your goals, your education, your job, your future, your stability, your finances, your security, your anything...
In fact, the next time another WOMAN treats you that way as well...
Remind yourself of this:
If you were born between 1974 and today, it was only few years ago that women were essentially slaves, financially, in society. Those roots, those ideas, those traditions, those behaviors, those mentalities, they run DEEP! Very deep.
So, you won't only experience discrimination from men, you, as woman, will experience that type of discrimination from other women as well. And that is because, those ideas, those negative, insane, deeply rooted ideas, like:
1. women should not have a voice, and, 2. "How dare she think that she matters and what she says matters" ...
These ideas are engrained in people, still. And, have been passed on in intricate ways, and still impact our every day lives.
Don't get me wrong, women can achieve incredible things, but in my case, it has been one LONG walk through many rings of hell to aspire to reach my heavenly cause.
Have a great day. And if you are seeking professional real estate services of any kind, contact me. You will NOT be discriminated against! No matter you gender, your race, your color, your creed, nor any other factor!!! Because I believe in Jesus Christ, and he loved everyone. I am not perfect, but I do my best. And I will fight for you, your goals, your wants, your needs, in your journey with real estate 100%.
I pray God blesses you with health, wealth, joy, and peace, today and always.
Amber Nestor - Real Estate Firm Owner & Principal Broker (865)617-4783