Business Spotlight: Neighborhood Builders
Turning gritty homes into pretty ones
Jeremy Cole restores homes others would tear down while putting home ownership within reach for people who thought they’d always rent.
Jeremy Cole’s gift of seeing beautiful homes where others only see a tear-down is helping revitalize Kalamazoo neighborhoods.
“I buy the worst of the worst and make them the best house on the block,” he said.
Jeremy’s transformational work, which has been featured on the DIY network (and soon HGTV) show “Gritty to Pretty” is the result of both his vision and hard work.
How a mentor influenced Jeremy
At 19, Jeremy started working with Jeanine Dow, a real estate investor who became his mentor. Jeanine would buy run-down properties. Jeremy would help fix them. Working side-by-side with professionals, he learned the basics of the trades. Soon, he desired his own projects. He says that Jeanine told him, “Own everything you own.”
“What she was saying was to buy what you can afford. To buy with cash,” Jeremy explained. “I could only afford houses others passed on.”
By buying and working on houses no one else wanted, Jeremy learned how to roof; rebuild plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems; and install windows, flooring, cabinets and doors.
After 13 years, he’s still doing hands-on renovations to turn dilapidated Kalamazoo homes into dream homes through his business, Neighborhood Builders. Now, however, he has a team of five employees. Together they strip homes down the studs and rebuild them in six to eight weeks.
Keeping the foundation and shell of a home is one of the keys to Jeremy’s success.
“Costs go up once the house comes down. We save 30 percent of the cost of a new home by leaving the structure in place,” he said.
Working with buyers
Jeremy doesn’t start projects on speculation and this keeps his homes affordable.
“We find buyers before rehabbing. They have X dollars, and we figure out what will work for them. The buyers get to pick out the finishes and make design decisions. It’s a custom approach without the custom price tag.”
Many first-time buyers purchase homes from Neighborhood Builders because they are so affordable.
“The average mortgage payment [for our homes] is $550,” Jeremy said. “When the next financial crisis hits, they can still survive on one income.”
Some buyers have financed their Neighborhood Builders homes through Consumers, working with Mortgage Loan Officer Heidi Bish.
“Working with Jeremy’s buyers is great,” Heidi said. “They are so thankful and excited. Not only are they getting a new home, but a totally remodeled move-in-ready home. It’s a dream come true for such a valued price.”
Jeremy says there have been buyers who gain 10% to 15% equity from the start.
“We sold one home for $80,000, and it appraised for $95,000,” he explained. “That buyer had $15,000 in equity they could use right away or keep.”
Jeremy gets excited about every project. His partner, Katie, and their two kids hear him say about each home, “Oh, this is going to be the best one!”
Sharing his knowledge
In addition to rebuilding homes, Jeremy also hosts a Property Krawl. Once a month, he invites aspiring investors to tour ugly houses and teaches them what transformations are possible. These events are open to all; get the schedule from the Property Krawl Facebook page.
If you have a home to sell, or want to buy one, get in touch with Jeremy here. We’re so proud of the work Neighborhood Builders does to restore Kalamazoo homes and make them affordable.
Building relationships to help you succeed is what our business development managers do best. Call 800-991-2221. We’re here to help you grow your business!
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