By Isaac Newkirk III
It was fourteen years ago that Missy McCall Hammonds found herself tiring of Corporate America. As she considered new employment opportunities, she set down a number of criteria: 1) the replacement of her corporate income, something she could succeed at, no gender limitations, and no limit on the amount of money she could earn. It wasn’t too long before the real estate industry piqued her interest. She looked at the various niches available and decided that the rehabilitation of properties was just the ticket for her. “I liked taking up new things and making them pretty.” She says and warns: “However, I fully understood that rehabbing was a lot more than making things look pretty; it’s updating the electrical and plumbing [systems] and knowing how a toilet works. It’s a full process of the mechanics and the carpentry. It meant learning a lot more than painting and making it look nice.”
Missy’s escape from the 9-to-5 grind was successful because she researched the industry for one year. She strongly suggests individuals starting a new business to begin with a plan and budget. “Coming from corporate, we had it drilled into our heads that with every transition we wanted to make we had to find out all the possible obstacles and then found solutions for them.” That business plan served Missy in good stead as she navigated the many challenges of her nascent business.
Her real estate business began with sales to homeowners. When the financing completely evaporated, she was able to move seamlessly into the investor mode.
“Your willingness to change and adapt to your environment…is the key to your success. Who I was when I started my business was someone that sold retail to homeowners,” she says. “If that was the only business I had in 2007, when all financing went away, I would not be in business today.”
Missy refers to the market in Butler County as linear, which means it doesn’t have the highs and lows that are present in so many other areas. “Property values in some areas have decreased, but in many areas they’re actually on the rise. We have a number of new businesses moving into our area and we have a growing population, which means an increased demand for properties.”
A professional person who understands that real estate is a good investment is the kind of individual who typically comes to her enterprise. “My investors understand that real estate is an important part of their portfolio but, as busy professionals, they don’t want to manage it; they just want it to act like stocks and have a return on their investment and for it to be hassle-free. My typical investor is 40 plus. At that point in their lives, they’re looking more towards their retirement and thinking long-term.”
Is America on sale? Missy believes that it is. She suggests that you come to Butler County, Ohio. “I think we have another three years of foreclosure inventory. And that’s because of government intervention in slowing down the flood of markets.”
It is readily apparent to those in the industry that the job market will play the principal role of success in the industry, and Missy is no exception. “Without jobs, people can’t make their house payments. And the job losses across America were staggering the last three years.” Although total bleakness may exist elsewhere, Missy says that job market is not so glum in her home county. “Our unemployment is typically one percent below the national average.”
Missy believes that the stability of the marketplace — along with demand for properties — would be the primary reason for investors to include Butler County properties in their portfolio. With an occupancy rate hovering at 98 percent, an investor would be hard-pressed to find a more stable investment.