Vie Wilson, senior vice president for Corcoran Group, is the first African American to gain success in the mainstream real estate market in New York City. With over two decades of experience she has earned honors as Salesperson of the Month, Top 10 Salesperson Companywide, and is a member of the Multimillion Dollar Club. Wilson has advanced Corcoran’s annual sales volume to over a billion dollars in Manhattan’s finest luxury residential properties. Wilson is now expanding her portfolio with the launch of her unisex spa for nail care and other beauty care services, Polished, which is located in Harlem. Wilson spoke with rolling out about overcoming racism in her field, why the gentrification of Harlem is a positive change and lessons the African American community can take from the real estate crisis. –souleo
What challenges did you face as virtually the only African American realtor in your field?
Years ago I went with a colleague of mine to pitch something. She told me we got the listing but that she couldn’t work with me on it. She said the person wasn’t comfortable with somebody black being part of the marketing and that maybe it wouldn’t get sold because I was representing it. That’s the one story I never forgot. I broke through it because I didn’t acknowledge that it was going to keep me back. The secret is you have to really want it, because when you do, you’re relentless.
You’ve gone from being marginalized to now representing the Harlem neighborhood where some community members believe gentrification is marginalizing them. What are your thoughts on the controversial revitalization of Harlem?
I think people who lived here a long time feel a sense of displacement and that their voices were never heard. But in order to get things done you need a community, and demographics has a lot to do with it. Without it you don’t get the stores and the banks and the retailers to come in to a community that never had anything. … So I say to those people, take advantage now of where we are.
How do you see your industry changing as a result of the housing crisis and what can people learn from this?
… I think we are spoiled to think as a society that if you buy real estate next year it will be worth so much more but that’s not the case in recent years. … They need to understand the process of borrowing money from a bank. You have to understand what you’re buying and what the value is. It’s not just price points; it is neighborhoods and location. You buy an apartment on a block where you see there is growth and things are growing. So you have to be conscious about that and those are the things that are going to make a difference.