( ENSPIRE Feature ) Jimmy Jones, Real Estate Professional, Helps Teach People How To Get Involved In Real Estate Regardless of Background
ENSPIRE Contributor: Keegan Kerns
Jimmy Jones is a Renaissance man, having skills as an entrepreneur, experience with marketing and nightlife, and philanthropy. He has made a more common name in his real estate career as “Seel Your Home Jimmy Jones.” As an Atlanta native, he set up his Jones Capital Investments company there as well, where he rehabs and develops houses. Over the years, he’s sold millions of dollars in real estate in the metro Atlanta area and his success has only grown as he seeks to build his efforts in Atlanta real estate rehab and development into a TV/Web series.
However, Jimmy Jones has not kept his success to himself. He has continued to invest in the community that brought him up. With TonightAtlanta.com, a website he founded back in 2004, Jones creates weekly, monthly, and annual events surrounding a wide variety of topics in the area; including real estate. He shares advice for new and existing owners on what to do with their property during turbulent times such as these. Finally, in 2017, Jones helped develop the grassroots initiative #BeyondTheHolidays with Warren Technical School, which is a predominately African American special education school in DeKalb County with a focus on job placement for their students. In part because of his efforts, Jimmy Jones was even appointed to the Board of Directors for the Rickey Smiley Foundation.
ENSPIRE was able to talk to Jimmy Jones about his journey and goals in the real estate industry.
You have a long history as a successful real estate professional, so just as a baseline, what are your more essential do’s and don’ts for buyers and sellers in the real estate market?
Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, the most essential thing that you need is a real estate agent. And not just any real estate agent, but one who understands your needs, who will walk you through the process and explain things, and who genuinely has your best interest in mind. A lot of times, people think that real estate agents just buy or sell houses, but honestly they put a lot of time and effort into making their clients happy and providing favorable results. So, the relationship that you have with your agent is very important to your success.
Also, I think having realistic expectations is also key. We all know what we want, but once your agent gives you the full picture of where you are financially, what is available, and what some other options are, you need to listen to them.
Similarly, for those just entering the real estate market with little to no knowledge of the process, what’s the best way to get a realtor, and specifically a realtor you can trust to get you the best deal?
Fortunately, real estate agents are everywhere so it’s not hard to find one. I’d say go with a referral. If you have a friend or a co-worker who recently purchased or sold a home, check with them to see who they used. That doesn’t mean that person will be a definite fit for you, but it’s a good way to start the process, and you’re able to question that friend or co-worker on their experience with that particular realtor.
Also, if you know what area you’re looking at in a city, research what realtors have frequently sold houses in those sectors or neighborhoods. Chances are that realtor is already well acquainted with the inventory in that area and can give you a good outlook on what’s available for you and your needs.
Especially for first-time buyers, there often seems to be a disconnect between what one has and the dream house they might desire. How would you recommend people approach navigating their budget while still being able to buy a house they feel satisfied with?
Before anything is said or done, money is the first thing that a person needs to look at. That means going through the pre-approval process with a financial institution to see how much you can get for a home loan. A good lender will advise you to make sure that your credit score is at least in the mid-600’s or better. If you are a W2 employee, be prepared to present your recent paycheck stubs. If you are a 1099 independent contractor or a business owner, you will need to show the last two years’ tax returns. The lender will look at your net income, that is your gross income minus the total expenses you write off, to verify your total income.
Debt to income ratio comes into factor here, how much you have going out vs. how much you have coming in per month, in order to determine the amount they can lend you. Last, I would suggest having several thousand dollars saved up in the bank for things such as closing costs and down payment.
Once all of that is taken care of and you’re pre-approved for a loan, you will have a better idea of what you can and cannot afford, which will become your baseline for finding a house. After that, you sit down with your agent to discuss your “must-haves” and your preferences, to give the agent a better idea of what you’re looking for. At the same time, the agent will be advising you of what you can actually get depending on how the inventory, prices, location, and other things work with your budget.
It’s a process that requires a lot of patience and a lot of realistic thinking.
You’ve stated that one of your goals is to “flip” your hometown of Decatur, GA, and air it as a TV / Web series. Do you have any news on how that ambition is going, and what led you to the idea of returning to your hometown to help “flip” different houses?
I’m currently on some projects in the television production industry, some of which will be out sooner than you think. I’ve always had my hands on something in television, but now I’m involved a lot more than I used to be. I’m excited about a lot of the projects that I’m working on, unfortunately, I can’t discuss them just yet.
As for flipping Decatur, GA, that is still one of my primary ambitions. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of the process of changing their hometown for the better? However, I’m doing so much in real estate right now and elevating the way that I do business. For example, I recently expanded my team so that my time is used way more efficiently. With their help, we’ve managed to close a lot of lucrative deals. I want to ensure that my business constantly growing for the better.
There’s a long history of discrimination that continues to this day against Black individuals in the real estate market. For those Black professionals just entering the market, what advice would you give them to possibly avoid or overcome this discrimination and get the best potential deal?
I think that the most important thing to focus on is Black homeownership and making sure that we get the national percentage of Black homeowners above 50% again. And to achieve that we need to all recognize that real estate and homeownership are the sure-fire keys to attain wealth. There’s a lot of power that comes with owning property, so we need to focus our financial resources in that direction.
The best advice to getting the best deal is to do your research. You have to work with your real estate agent and not expect them to do all of the work. Look at what’s available in the area and figure out what works best for you. You’re not going to be able to identify the best deals but working with your real estate agent, you can find the best deals that fit your needs.
Finally, there’s been some concern because of certain material shortages, recently record high prices, and the general turbulence of the pandemic that some new housing crisis could be on the rise. What are your thoughts on the idea of another housing bubble, and how do you think individuals should handle themselves when there is this idea of risk floating around in the market?
Unfortunately, there’s always some type of risk in the market. As for a housing bubble, while there are some similarities between now and the last housing bubble, there are a lot of differences that are working to prevent the same situation from occurring.
For one, the bubble burst last time mostly due to questionable lending practices that were allowed to continue, rising prices, and a lot of vacant inventory due to a building swell.
What we’re looking at now is a record low on interest rates, stronger underwriting practices on loans, and a lack of inventory. This is important because mortgage delinquency rates are a lot lower than in the past, meaning that we have a lot less financial mishaps taking place in the market. We’re also seeing an increase in capital flooding the market.
Basically, we are in the middle of a housing boom, but another housing bubble that can burst at any time seems very unlikely. What we do know is that when interest rates begin to rise again, housing prices will begin to decrease. Normally, interest rates fall because the economy is weak or there isn’t a high demand for housing, but that’s not the case here.
A lot of today’s new home buyers were able to keep their jobs during the pandemic and received extra funds with stimulus money. These people were already planning on buying homes, just not as soon so they were able to take advantage of the low-interest rates.
And as for the shortage of materials and messed up supply chains, those are actually good things (even though they are bad) because they’re keeping supply and demand in check. Instead of investors and builders putting up a bunch of homes that exceed demand, like last time, they are currently unable to keep up with the demand.
So, while there are similarities between then and now, there are also a lot of things in play currently that are helping to keep the market in check.
Jimmy Jones’s dedication and success are admirable. He has found an industry in which he can thrive and continues to work as a realtor so he can be the best possible resource for his clients. While his success is admirable, his choice to use the resources and skills from that success to help others succeed shows true selflessness. Becoming a homeowner is incredibly difficult, and this is compounded by many more difficulties that the African-American community has to face. Jimmy Jones continues to work hard so that others in his community can be equipped to handle this challenge and find the home they want as they pursue their own dreams.