By Dylan Dhindsa , Boston Globe Correspondent
Updated February 13, 2022
The Greater Boston Association of Realtors has its first Black president.
Melvin A. Vieira Jr. of The Vieira Group at RE/Max Destiny is the 2022 president of the Greater Boston Association of Realtors. We asked Vieira, who is originally from Boston, about becoming the organization’s first Black president and about the future of the GBAR, which is a subdivision of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board and has more than 10,000 members.
(This interview has been edited and condensed.)
Q. Tell me about your background. How did you get to where you are today?
A. So I was in the METCO program and went to Foxborough High School. Then I lived in Washington, D.C., and went to Howard University. I ended up moving out to California in 1988 and became a realtor in 1989. When I was in college, I worked as a laborer, so when I moved to California, I’m like, “Hey, I can make more money being a laborer out here.” I was driving down Pacific Coast Highway, I look over and go, “Hey, if I can build one of these homes — how much does it cost?” But I knew that I could not get into building unless I understood the whole thing. I need to at least sell the product first. Well, I never got my builder’s license. I ended up becoming a real estate agent.
Q. Tell me about being the first Black president of the Greater Boston Association of Realtors.
A. Yes, I am the very first Black [president] of the Greater Boston Association of Realtors, but I have been going through this process for the last eight years. So it didn’t happen just all of the sudden. I was not bestowed this because of Black Lives Matter or diversity, equity, and inclusion. By obtaining this level, I had to learn a lot. I knew why homeownership was very important, but I had to realize why the laws were being put in place and why certain things were being done to create homeownership or not create homeownership.
Q. What are your goals for GBAR during your tenure?
A. I hope that I get the realtor brand to be recognized and make it understood that when you are a realtor, you are held to a higher standard. You’re a part of something larger, which is about creating homeownership for all. The other thing that I really want to do is continue to push diversity, equity, and inclusion and continue the fair housing classes. I want to leave a thumbprint on whatever I touch.
Q. Can you expand on that?
A. We have fair housing classes all the time. We’re also in partnership with the City of Boston and MassHousing on different programs. I’ve been teaching first-time home buyer classes for 22 years. I also am part of YouthBuild. I’m really big into trying to get our youth to engage, especially in the construction field. I also go and talk to high school students and kids in elementary school. I’m trying to do the full circle working with youth, while I’m also trying to get my realtors to do the same thing and be community driven and serving. We also work with the YMCA as well, because the YMCA is one of the largest organizations that deal with homelessness.
Q. How do you think discrimination in real estate lending and appraisals should be addressed?
A. The system of not reaching across the aisle and only dealing with people you know needs to stop. More doors need to be opened. And people need to be willing to sit down and have conversations with other groups. Stop staying in a bubble. One of my biggest goals is to continue to kick open the door and have those hardcore conversations with people who may be uncomfortable — to educate them and see whether they’re willing to listen.