With over 300 active loans currently on our platform, it’s clear that we have some incredible renovation projects happening around the country. While you may have come across these homes on our platform, we thought it would be of interest to highlight the people behind the projects and give a little more detail about their work. To that end, we’ve begun a Monthly Borrower Spotlight post, in which we interview some of our best borrowers and delve into what has made them so successful.
This month, we caught up with Atlanta-based renovator John Holmes, who has been working with GROUNDFLOOR on several flips along with his wife Nikkia. We recently hopped on the phone with John to chat about his journey into real estate and what his biggest pieces of advice are for prospective flippers.
How did you get into home renovation/house flipping? How long have you been flipping houses?
My wife Nikkia and I got involved in real estate about 16 years ago. We started out renting properties -- in fact, our very first rental property was the home we initially lived in -- and we sometimes conducted small, minor renovations on these properties. Once we dipped our toes in, we realized how much we enjoyed the real estate world, and we wanted to do more. So, we started attending seminars and workshops to learn the ropes and to take advantage of all the networking opportunities we could. We wanted to be educated on all aspects of the industry, so we really went to every real estate-related event we could!
As we gained more knowledge, we started expanding what we did. We partnered with other real estate entrepreneurs to provide property management, management, and consulting services. Nikkia became a real estate agent, then a broker. Finally, we decided to create our own real estate firm called the New Visions Real Estate Firm.
When the market crashed back in 2008, it was a challenging yet ultimately highly educational time for us. Experiencing that huge slump forced us to redefine what we did and how we did it. It was no longer as simple as just finding a house to redo and put on the market -- homebuyers were not as gung-ho as they were before, properties were sitting on the market longer. We realized it was a better strategy to sustain retail sales based on the need in whatever market we were in. Now, we custom design all of our renovations based on what our customer base needs, not based on our own personal tastes or ideas. At the end of the day, we want individuals to love what they buy!
At the end of the day, I love that our work provides a service that truly helps others. We still keep in contact with people we met over 15 years ago that still call us to thank us for allowing them the opportunity to own their own home. It’s incredibly gratifying to know you played a direct role in helping others become homeowners. It only makes us more passionate about our work!
How many projects have you completed? How many are you currently working on?
We have worked on well over 100 renovations and new constructions since we first started! GROUNDFLOOR has helped us with one of our recent projects, which just got purchased.
We’re currently working on a new construction project in Vinings [in northwest Atlanta], and GROUNDFLOOR is providing the financing.
What is one of the most important things that you take into consideration when you are completing a real estate project?
I’d have to say curb appeal. In my view, curb appeal is one of the most critical factors in getting your project to ultimately sell. Homebuyers are always looking for a property that looks good when you drive by. Sometimes, you have to redesign a house that has no curb appeal to satisfy a potential buyer’s need to have a beautiful-looking home.
Before and after photos of the renovation we financed at 2604 Crestdale in Atlanta..
What is your connection to Atlanta? Why did you decide to get into this business there?
I am originally from South Carolina, and my wife is from Ohio. We met 17 years ago here in Atlanta and really fell in love with the uniqueness of this city and how it works. As anyone who is familiar with the Atlanta market knows, it has been steadily growing, especially within the past few years. We took advantage of that fact and realized there will (at least for the foreseeable future) always be a market here for first-time homebuyers. The fact that the rates here are currently favorable for real estate investors like us is also a huge plus.
How did you find GROUNDFLOOR?
A friend of mine who is also in the industry actually recommended GROUNDFLOOR to me! He was raving about them, saying that no one is better than GROUNDFLOOR, so I decided I needed to check them out. Then once I spoke to Patrick [Donoghue, General Manager] and he explained GROUNDFLOOR’s deferred payment option, I was blown away. Not only does GROUNDFLOOR offer the option to have zero payments until the end of the loan term, they also have excellent interest rates. I really don’t think there is another company out there that can do better.
What has been your experience working with GROUNDFLOOR?
It’s been wonderful. I love GROUNDFLOOR for their whole concept of helping investors like me, and for the comprehensive team support they offer. Their customer service is absolutely awesome -- it’s just as attentive and kind as the culture at Chick-Fil-A! Any time I have questions or concerns, a member of the team is always right there to answer them. Fred [Steine, GROUNDFLOOR's Draw Administrator] is also a fantastic inspector and is very knowledgeable.
The completed project at 2604 Crestdale in Atlanta that we financed.
What are some of your goals for your business in the next few years?
As long as GROUNDFLOOR continues to provide great customer service and excellent rates, we are looking to continue partnering with them and developing the residential side of our business.
Going forward, we also want to get into the commercial real estate market -- hopefully GROUNDFLOOR will move in that direction as well so we can continue our partnership!
If you could give a newer flipper one piece of advice, what would it be?
First: always focus on location. Although a given deal may sound promising and the numbers look good, whether or not it is in a good location is really key.
Second: always put forth your best quality of work. This is one of the biggest determiners of whether your house is on the market for a week or for 100 days. Though producing top-notch work is more labor-intensive and time-consuming, it always pays off in the long run.
And finally: never stop educating yourself. There is always more to learn, and you can only get better!
Thank you so much, John! We love working with you!