I’m so happy to finally get the awesome Benaisha Poole-Watson in the pages of Southern Dallas Magazine! This lady is the modern-day Superwoman! It seems she can do it all and then some. Her brokerage firm, The Bailey Watson Real Estate Group, is making real waves in the real estate world and bringing in millions per year in residential and commercial deals. In addition to that, she has recently opened a bank! Her bank focuses on residential real estate funding up to $3 Million, appropriately named, Prime One Home Loans, but also funds commercial real estate transactions up to $650 Million. While executing deals expends a lot of her time, she still manages to do speaking engagements and volunteer in the community and be a mom. She’s also been featured in various publications, including Black Enterprise, Ebony and Yahoo Finance. We had a chance to catch up with this busy lady to hear more about what she’s up to.
SDM- Benaisha! I’m so excited to finally get you in the magazine. You have been crossing the country doing speaking engagements and of course, doing deals. You are now based in Dallas, but you’re from Los Angeles. Life in LA, as I’ve heard you say, was tough and you were a teenage mother. Take us back to the beginning before all of the million-dollar deals.
Benaisha- I grew up in the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles. Some of the most famous residents from my neighborhood are Tiffany Haddish, Nipsey Hussle, Darryl Strawberry and DeSean Jackson and some of the most popular culture films were shot right in the same area, such as “Friday” and “Boyz in the Hood”. The streets were lined with homes with fresh cut grass and many homes were owned by working-class families, but the minute I walked off my street I had to deal with wall graffiti, gang violence and drug infestation. The environment was tough, to say the least, and the day-to-day struggle of being in survival mode just to make it from school to home without getting into a fight, seeing someone else being jumped or beat up, or getting caught in drive-by crossfire of rival gangs was a daily occurrence. However, when I finally made it home it was always filled with an abundance of love and support. The only goal I had to accomplish was to safely make it there at the end of the day.
SDM- Those times could have broken you and you could have gone down a different path. How did you get you through all those times? Could you sense there was more for you?
Benaisha- My mother came to the United States from Guatemala when she was 24 years old in search of the American Dream and she was determined to give me that. As she worked as a full-time nurse in Compton, CA, I was a latchkey kid letting myself inside during the week. My weekends were filled with events that served the community, such as volunteering with the Los Angeles Police Department, but one consistent occurrence that my mother always did was she took me to look at newly built communities and model homes. Although we both knew she did not have the money to buy any of the homes we viewed, seeing these beautiful homes and interior designs always got our creative juices flowing and after leaving the homes we would then go shopping to mimic the furniture styles and designs we visually fell in love with.
Being exposed to different environments, I always knew I wanted to become something more. Often times, my mother would come into my room and say “let’s go for a drive”, so we would hop in the car for no reason and drive to Hollywood where the streets were filled with excited tourists and then in route back home we would drive pass Skid Row, where it was filled with hundreds of homeless people laying on the streets. Hard times were in most places I turned, but watching my mother work double shifts that allowed her to put me into private schools throughout my educational journey, caused me to be grateful and even more disciplined; never wanting to disappoint her because she sacrificed so much and worked so hard to take care of me. Ultimately, I ended my educational journey with two Master Degrees and a Law Degree.
SDM- So fast forward to you coming to Dallas. What brought you here?
Benaisha- After working on a five-year assignment in Washington D.C., I got a phone call from my previous employer that said I had been selected for another transfer and to choose three locations that I would like to go to. I had just given birth to my second child and after spending the majority of my career moving around the country for this job, I figured I might as well migrate back West to get some quality time with my family, so my choices were Dallas, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. I was told 120 days later that I would be moving to Dallas and to start looking for a new home.
SDM- What made you want to get into the real estate business? When did you start the brokerage company?
Benaisha- Initially my work commitment in Dallas was supposed to be a twelve-month term, but when I reached the two-year mark, I started to question my entire existence with this organization. I had sacrificed so much to move up in the ranks and felt like when I applied for promotional positions it was always being denied for some reason and to appease me they often laterally transferred me, but never moved me up. Although they used my face for the cover of brochures to attract diversity, the executive management was not diverse and breaking those ceilings got harder by the day. After applying over 200 times for promotions and being denied every time I started to pray and ask GOD if I was serving in my true calling in life and if he had another plan to please reveal it. After eight months of consistent meditation and praying GOD finally spoke to me. I heard a voice that said, “Get a Real Estate License”.
My first year as a licensed real estate agent, I sold over 200 homes while still working that full time job. Most of my clients were investors. My second year, I sold over 350 homes and that is when my life really started to change. I often posted my closings and celebrations on social media, which grew my following from hundreds to thousands and even more messages from agents asking what I am doing to be so successful in real estate. After being selected as #2 Realtor in Dallas, #19 in Texas, Top 100 Real Estate Agent in the United States and the unofficial mentor to so many, I decided to start my own company and in 2018 that is how The Bailey Watson Real Estate Group was formed.
SDM- It has been very successful generating millions. What has made your firm perform so well?
Benaisha- Launching The Bailey Watson Real Estate Group really happened at the right time. My partner Lori Bailey was a full-time real estate agent with a training background and because I still worked a full-time job that required me to travel periodically, it was a perfect partnership. Lori was able to serve as the boots on the ground if an agent needed in-person services, while I mentored via phone and attracted agents to the team. Our growth went from 10 agents to 12 locations in 12 months to now over 200 licensed real estate agents across the nation serving Dallas, Houston, Austin, Atlanta, Augusta, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Detroit, Colorado, Chicago, Indiana, Oklahoma, Ohio, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey, New York, DC, Maryland, Virginia and Florida. In 2020-2021, during the pandemic we closed over $261 million in transactional sales and by mid-2022 we had already passed over $200 million in transactional sales making us a Top 1% Real Estate Company.
SDM- Any tips for real estate agents that are trying to sell homes in this ever-rising interest rate market? It’s certainly tougher selling homes now that it has been when rates were very low.
Benaisha-It is definitely a tough market for the average real estate agent to sell homes in, but the agent has to remember they are not just a contract writer, they are an educator. If you want to be successful in real estate, you first have to understand that real estate is a product that everyone needs from renters to buyers and second, there will be market shifts that go up and down. It is the preparation for those curves that will help you sustain longevity in this business and keep income flowing. Being a housing market expert is mandatory. Understanding that real estate consists of both residential and commercial properties opens the doors for more. In the end, the more you know, the more you will grow. Even with 10% interest rates, a top real estate agent will always be able to close a deal if their clients feel like they offer value.
SDM- Selling homes just wasn’t enough for you, you had to go and open a bank selling home loans! Why did you get into this side of the business with your new company Prime One Home Loans? If I’m not mistaken, you are the ONLY woman owned, veteran owned, minority owned bank! Congratulations!
Benaisha- Thank you so much. The reason why I opened a bank is because I was tired of seeing the disparities in our community when it comes to homeownership. All too often, minorities experience job loss or financial loss and are turned down by mainstream banks when they apply for loans or mortgages. Even when their credentials are comparable to individuals who are approved for loans or mortgages, studies have shown that minorities do not receive comparable rates and services. So, I created Prime One Lending Group/Prime One Home Loans to offer competitive rates with a primary goal of strengthening the community, lending money to black and brown borrowers and helping minorities in a way that better serves the needs of our communities.
As the sole Owner of Prime One Lending Group/Prime One Home Loans, I am a Direct Lending Mortgage Bank, approved by Fannie Mae, which means all of my loans are processed in-house, no brokering out. With over 1000 loan programs offered such as FHA, Conventional, VA and USDA loans,
I also offer cash out refinancing and Non-QM products, such as 1099 only loans for independent contractors and bank statement only loans for entrepreneurs that do not require tax returns. Prime One Home Loans serves every state except New York and last year I was selected to sit as a Board Member for the National Mortgage Alliance serving as the voice of the black community, in reference to teaching financial literacy and offering better lending products that can be used to get every family into a path to homeownership.
SDM- I hear there is also a deal coming up with a major sports team in partnership with your bank. Can you tell us anything yet?
Benaisha-Yes. By the time this article is published, I should have a major deal inked that will make me the only woman, minority-owned, and veteran-owned company in history to ever partner with a Major League Sports Team. This is not just a win for me, this is a win for the culture.
SDM- With all these business deals you have going on, a person would think your tank would be empty, but it’s clearly not! You’ve been invited to speak at events all over the country with the latest one having Bishop T.D. Jakes as a part of the panel. In addition to that, you’ve been doing some volunteer work with schools, such as DeSoto ISD. Tell us why giving back is so important to you?
Benaisha- November 1st, I will be releasing a real estate scholarship for high school seniors starting with DeSoto High School in DeSoto, TX. The scholarship will send two graduating seniors to real estate school, at no cost, every single year. As we all know, every high school graduate does not go straight to college. My goal is to pay it forward and encourage the next generation to go down the same entrepreneurship path that allowed me to financially flourish. A real estate license not only opens the student up with a path to homeownership, it is a tool that can be used to push entire families forward in life by serving as their real estate professional.
SDM- I know we’ve covered a lot but is there anything that you would like to share with our readers that you may not have touched on? I don’t want to leave any stone unturned!
Benaisha- In 2023, I will be launching full service banking as an FDIC Insured Bank offering checking, savings, and merchant services. Also, products such as auto loans, personal loans and business loans and value-add tools such as credit building services that will support bettering the customer financially. When the brick and mortar is launched this will make me the 43rd Black-Owned Bank in the United States.
SDM- For those people who would like to reach out to you for a loan or for real estate questions or perhaps even speaking engagements, what’s the best way to reach? How can they follow you on social media as well?
Benaisha- Visit the bank at www.primeonehomeloans.com. For speaking engagements and real estate support visit www.benaishapoolewatson.com and I am actively on Instagram @iambenaisha.
SDM-It’s been a real pleasure having you with us! We look forward to all the wonderful things you have coming up next!