With our interview time set for 5:45 p.m. on a smoldering Thursday evening, Courtney Johnson Rose is stepping back into the office, her hands hidden under notes from her previous meeting and her laptop bag stuffed with real estate documents, to complete one last task before she is liberated from her work duties for the day.
But before Rose, 36, slips into her evening retreat she makes sure that every item has been scratched off of her to-do list for the day. “Hard work has always been one of my goals and one of George E. Johnson Properties’ as well,” she says as she opens the door of the company’s meeting room. “My parents instilled that into me as a child.”
Growing up in the late 70s and early 80s, Rose caught wind of the entrepreneurial spirit from her parents and grandparents. During that era, the city of Houston experienced an influx of residents who moved to the South to take advantage of job opportunities in the city’s booming oil industry. Neighborhoods like the historic Third Ward, where Rose’s grandparents proudly owned a restaurant, washateria and dry cleaners, were thriving, and entrepreneurs were directly affected by the city’s thriving economy.
Seeing African-American entrepreneurs like Rose’s grandparents flourish at three successful businesses, influenced her father, George E. Johnson, Jr. to establish his own boutique real estate and development firm, George E. Johnson Development, Inc.
At the tender age of 25, Johnson entered the real estate community as an agent; however, opportunities for African-American agents were slim to none when it came to selling homes and commercial properties. Making the impossible, possible was the only way Johnson knew to even the playing field with other real estate companies and their agents.
In 1978, Johnson became one of the first black brokers to franchise a Century 21 real estate company. “Blacks were not given that type of opportunity, so that was a major accomplishment in his career,” his daughter, Rose said proudly.
Venturing into uncharted territory for her father was far from a mistake, it was a lifetime investment in his future and hope for his family and community. Once the limits were taken away from his possibilities, the doors of opportunity swung open for Johnson and his family.
In 1974, Johnson founded his own residential real estate brokerage company. That firm would later evolve into a full service development company also which notably participated in the development of a forgotten area of Houston’s southwest side, beginning with development of The Power Center multi-center complex, a 234-acre master planned
development comprised of the Kingdom Builder’s Center, Corinthian Pointe subdivision, a commercial retail plaza, the West Orem YMCA, Texas Children’s Pediatrics, Corinthian Pointe Village Assisted Living and a number of fast food chains.
Expanding the Vision
Although Johnson relinquished the day-to-day operations of the real estate brokerage company to his daughter in 2008, the vision to be the very best real estate agency and help educate the community to attain wealth through real estate never changed.
“I always knew I wanted to be in the business of entrepreneurship and take after my dad,” Rose said. “It’s very rewarding to see families own their homes and investment properties and to see businesses own their
Growing up around the real estate office with her parents taught Rose the logistics of business ownership and also kept her clear on the company’s goals.
With the overly saturated market of real estate agents in Houston, Rose prides her company on assisting clients through relationship realty.
“It can be overwhelming if you look at the numbers; there are over 25,000 real estate agents here in Houston alone, but excellent customer service and immediate follow-up keeps our clients feeling as if they are a part of a company that cares,” Rose said.
George E. Johnson Properties continues to provide positive influences in under-deserved communities in Houston by giving the keys to first time homeowners and helping small business owners find the right location to build the community through real estate.
Producing top numbers are to be expected out of her 13 sales agents. Rose tries to instill in her team what her dad instilled in her – quality service, integrity, education and confidence. With those principals in mind, Rose closed over $15 million dollars in real estate properties this past year alone, which included a $3.5 million dollar church transaction.
Her keys to relationship realty contributed to her being named one of Houston’s Top 20 Under 40 Realtors in 2013, and 2007 “Realtist of the Year” by the Houston Black Real Estate Association, Houston’s Business Journal’s Inaugural 40 under 40 Class and in 2007, REALTOR Magazine’s top 30 Under 30 realtors, a recognition that she says catapulted her career.
“I am blessed to be a second generation business owner,” Rose said, “I am building upon what was already accomplished, but I work really hard in establishing a client base and to outwork my competition.”
Not only is Rose the owner of George E. Johnson Properties., she also wears the hats of wife, mother and professor. Rose educates students in real estate courses at Prairie View A&M University, one of her alma maters.
Giving back to the community is another of Rose’s passions. Using real estate as an empowerment tool to build wealth is attainable but requires proper planning and guidance, believes Rose. She actively participates in the community educating on property ownership and land development through housing fairs, mentorships, real estate programs
I want to work to set up my family the way my father did for us,” Rose said. “I hope my daughter learns from me that you can have a successful career and be a great mother at the same time.
Spreading herself thin is not an option for Rose. She sits on a countless number of boards including the Missouri City Board and Planning and Zoning Commission and the National Association of Realtors Strategic Planning Board, but it’s her conscious efforts to help her clients build wealth through real estate that keeps her in tune with her company, family and community needs. Rose feels it is her responsibility to take the initiative in helping her clients find lucrative ways to revitalize communities.
“My clients trust us with the most expensive purchase they will make, so we take it seriously when guiding them through the process of purchasing real estate,” Rose said. “We do not abandon our clients, we get a plan and we execute it.”
Building on the Legacy
The goal of attaining wealth and leverage through real estate keeps George E. Johnson Properties in sync with its other entities. George E. Johnson Properties, which Rose owns and manages with her father, George E. Johnson Construction, which her brother owns and manages with her father, and En’terior Designs, which her mom owns and manages.
Holding true to her father’s trailblazing efforts and principles, Rose continuously looks for ways to steadily grow in an unpredictable market. While launching their newly-opened office in Fort Bend County’s Lake Olympia subdivision, Rose continues to lead the company to higher ground and greater opportunities.
Looking ahead Rose envisions herself as a developer redeveloping dilapidated properties by building schools for children, adding amenities like grocery stores and shopping plazas, bringing low cost health care centers to low income areas, developing neighborhoods for families to live comfortably, increasing a healthy lifestyle by adding parks for recreation and working on college campus development projects.
Rose keeps herself grounded by her faith in God and surrounding herself with family. Building on her legacy, she wants her children to recognize her accomplishments from a female prospective.
“I want to work to set up my family the way my father did for us,” Rose said. “I hope my daughter learns from me that you can have a successful career and be a great mother at the same time.”
Rose laughs as she is reminded of the heartfelt words her mother readily repeated to her, ‘To whom much is given, much is required.’
Building a future for her family and giving back to her community trumps any other aspirations Rose has for herself and brings far more gratitude to Rose than any of her other goals.