Egypt Sherrod is an American television, radio personality and the host of Property Virgins on HGTV. She is also an Atlanta based realtor and founder of The Egypt Sherrod Real Estate Group. Egypt has been featured as a real estate expert on "The Today Show", CNBC, MSNBC, CNN, HLN and FOX Networks. As a host she has appeared on The Maury Show, The Black Carpet and the formerly syndicated Home Delivery. She has also been a national radio personality, syndicated in over 60 cities, with Premiere Radio Networks. She was most recently heard on Atlanta radio station, WVEE, as the mid-day personality. In 2008 Egypt founded The Egypt Cares Family Foundation which is a non-profit dedicated to financial empowerment and awareness. The main focus of the organization is to educate both men and women about the importance of wealth preservation and home ownership. The foundation’s work has been very successful, earning her many praises including the Mission Award from WEEN and several Proclamations from Brooklyn President Marty Markowitz for her “Egypt Cares Give Back Tour,” an annual coat and toy drive.
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I've been in real estate for about 14 years. I've been a television host and radio host for almost 20 years. I'm a mom, and a CEO - a mom-preneur!
My TV show, Property Virgins is on HGTV, we just wrapped our 12th season, and my new book Keep Calm . . . It's Just Real Estate: Your No-Stress Guide to Buying a Home is being released TODAY.
You can follow me on Twitter @egyptsaidso and on Instagram @egyptsherrod
Victoria's helping me out today. Let's answer some questions!
Edit I just want to say THANK YOU so much for the support and love and light! You've been absolutely amazing. You can reach me, if you have any other questions, by going to egyptsharrodrealestate.com, and please pick up the book, I think it will do you good- and if you're already experienced in real estate, I'm sure you know someone who could appreciate the advice! It's available in stores and downloadable today.
What is the best way for someone looking at buying in about 5 years to get ahead of the game? Do you recommend saving in a certain way for a down payment, or any thing like that this early out?
Good for you for planning so early! What you want to do is work on your credit - building and keeping good credit is KEY to getting a mortgage. There are people who have the asset of liquid cash but bad credit, and they're not able to get a mortgage. I would say keep your credit in good shape, don't be late on your bills, pay everything on time, and start saving now for your downpayment. The great thing is that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have introduced new 3% downpayment programs, and it only takes 3% of the purchase price to put a downpayment on a house if you're a first time buyer.
As long as your credit is in good shape, and you're saving a downpayment for 5 years, you should be in good shape.
What are your general thoughts on the 'real estate bubble' of the last 10 years or so?
I think we learned a lot from it.
I really hope and I doubt that we'll have that same situation again. It was sub-prime mortgages - people getting approved for houses and mortgages that they really shouldn't have - people buying houses with 0% down and horrible credit, we were digging ourselves into a hole there. People were getting $600,000 houses with bad credit and zero down. That alone is a sign that we were digging ourselves into a hole!
And again, I think we learned a lot, and therefore the mortgage industry had to go through a stringent reform, even in how they pre-approve people now. Underwriters are super-strict now, because we don't want to go back to where we were a few years ago. I don't think this country, or the economy, could afford that.
What would your advice be for someone looking to move from renting to owning?
Well, there are a few things you should do.
Number 1- sit down with a loan specialist to determine your buying power. And your buying power is, in layman's terms, what you can actually afford. So they'll go through your credit, your income, and say "OK, based on what we see, this is how much house you can afford." You don't have to spend as much as they prove you for - just because they approve you for $400,000 doesn't mean you have to SPEND $400,000 - you find a number you feel comfortable with. And a loan specialist will break down your monthly payment, depending on the price of the house.
So that's a great place to start - that way you know exactly what you can afford, comfortably. It's so crazy - I see people going out and falling in love with $500,000 or $600,000 or $750,000 houses - and then they find out they can only afford a $150,000 house. And that's frustrating to them, and also to their realtor.
Step 2: build your "real estate dream team." You can almost do this simultaneously as step 1. There's a difference between a real estate agent and a realtor. Your realtor will be your quarterback and many times, your realtor can direct you to great loan specialists (so you can do steps 1 and 2 simultaneously). And you can look at your mortgage specialist as your running back. And your inspector is your wide receiver. And I do a lot of this kind of talk in my book KEEP CALM, because when you talk to people in a language they understand, it simplifies the entire process!
Once you have your "dream team" in place, sit down and develop a wishlist. It's different if you're looking for a house on your own versus with a partner - it can be more difficult with another opinion. Develop a wish-list of MUST HAVES, that you need, and then you can develop a list of things that you would really like to have - this helps your real estate agent prioritize when they're searching for homes for you. You will have to compromise. It's just a matter of what you're willing to compromise on. This way you're not looking at 20 homes that don't suit your criteria.
And now it's time to search - the fun part! You've laid the groundwork ahead of time. You can afford to buy a house, you have a great team on your side. Some states require an attorney for closing, some states don't - but if we're still talking sports, they're your linebacker, they're your heavy, they'll protect you. And your real estate person will help you put that person in place as well.
Try to enjoy the process. Because this is a BIG sentimental moment. One of the biggest financial commitments you'll make in your life. It doesn't have to be stressful.
Did you know Sandra Rinomato? What did you think of how she did the show before you took over?
I never met her in person. She's from Canada, and I'm not sure as to what happened before I joined the show, but I used to watch it! So it was amazing for me to be asked to take over, because I watched it, and loved it.
Your first tweet reads:
"Frying Some Turkey Sausage Before I run out to do a voiceover"
Looking back, if you could redo your first tweet, what would it be?
That's hysterical, because I didn't realize that was my first tweet! But anybody who knows me knows I love turkey sausage, specifically Emeril's, and so I wouldn't re-do it, because it's who I am - I might be trying to balance cooking breakfast, getting my kids out to school, and my career.
Hi Egypt, how did you get your start in Real Estate and how do you balance being an agent with your other 'jobs'?
I grew up in a family where I had real-estate brokers. So Thanksgiving dinners, instead of 'pass the turkey,' they'd say "What did you think of the house on 123 Hammond Street?"
So I tried to rebuke the business, and went into something completely different - broadcasting - where I had almost a 20 year career. But the reality is - the basic morals I was taught about money came back to the forefront of my mind.
Real estate is the foundation of wealth.
So when I built up a little cash in my radio career, the question was "What do I do with it?"
And I decided that I wanted to invest in property.
So that's how i got my start, about 14 years ago, with flipping properties. And I did that pretty successfully. And then the next question was how do I increase my profit margin? And the logical decision was "If I get my realtor's license, then I won't need to pay a realtor."
So that's what i did. And got bit by the real estate bug.
And the rest is history!
First off, love your show! What advice do you have for a young professional in her 30's looking to own her first home in the Baltimore Metro Area? I was thinking of purchasing a fixer upper that could be renovated to give me the style house that I like, but home prices in my area are steep for a single person. How do I overcome the obstacles of having a single income household?
Hi Nataccia, thank you so much for watching the show! Kisses!
I lived in the Baltimore, MD area for a few years. Those were some of the REALLY fun times in my life! You know, I understand what you mean when you say that prices are steep when you're a single person. That's why I recommend sitting with a loan specialist first, to see what you can afford - sometimes when we see a big number, like $300,000, it's easy to get intimidated, and think that you can't afford it. But when you sit down with someone who shows you what it breaks down on the monthly - if you're paying $1200 or so a month for rent, buying a house might work out to be cheaper. So don't count yourself out just yet. But as far as a fixer-upper, if you have the wherewithal and stomach for it, by all means go for it! But make sure you have some cash reserves for things that could go wrong. By all means, have an inspector take the look before you buy, and then try and make the seller make repairs, and if they are not willing to make repairs, try to negotiate a credit towards repairs so you can do them yourself. What can sometimes be scary are the things the inspector WON'T catch - once you open up walls, it's those other things that are hiding that can be big-ticket items. If by all means, you're up for it, then I encourage a fixer upper because you can put your stamp on it and make it yours. But make sure you have some backup cash in case you run into roadblocks.
As a business owner, it seems like getting a home loan is damn near impossible because I'm not on a salary. Any suggestions?
You know, that's the struggle of a lot of entrepreneurs - because you claim a lot of losses to have the tax write-offs, in turn it becomes challenging because you don't have income to verify for a mortgage. So what I would recommend is thinking 3 years out - if you're in a position, you'll have to wait it out - because underwriters look at 2 years on average, and for self-employed people they look at 3 years - to see if you have steady income to justify. So you have to bite a bullet and claim a certain amount for your taxes, and then after you buy, you can go back to your normal write-offs.
The other thing is - cash is king. So where some people are able to put 3%, 5%, 10%, a lot of times if you manage to save 20%, an underwriter will approve your mortgage because it means you have some skin in a game. So I would recommend that if you can put 20% down for a house right now, to go for it, because that's your best bet for an underwriter to approve you at this juncture.
do you watch hgtv too?
Yes I do. The television stays on HGTV so I can watch some of my fellow hosts. And I loved HGTV before I was a host - because anyone who enjoys flipping houses and talking real estate, they are speaking my language! So I enjoy the network.
Thanks. It'll be a while before I can afford to put down that kind of scratch.
What is your opinion on the current market? Have we recovered from the bubble collapse?
I would say we definitely recovered. The market's been on the climb. But real estate is very regional, or local. So there are some cities that have rebounded completely, and there are some cities that are still rebounding, some faster than others. For instance, in the Northeast Region, there are some areas that are slow to sell because of the weather (people haven't really be interested in house-hunting, and things can be more expensive).
Whereas the Southeast, the West Coast, you're experiencing bidding wars at almost every price point because there's a shortage of inventory - and that means that there are more people looking for houses than actual good homes on the market.
So I definitely think we've rebounded. It's a GREAT time to buy and here's why:
1) Interest rates are still at historic lows
2) Home prices are still relatively reasonable - it's all gonna go up.
In fact, it's been predicted that before the end of this year, interest rates are going to go up a whole percent. So that means it'll be more expensive to buy the same house next year.
Do you know about the history of 'Real Estate'? Homes in particular have been commodified in the last generation or so, haven't they? What are the pros and cons of that?
I think it has everything to do with education and know-how. The American Dream, as a whole, has been redefined.
It used to be - graduate from school, get married, buy a house, and live happily ever after. Now, the majority of our country is single - not married! We're either single, never been married, or divorced. So because of that, it calls for the living situation, the housing situation, to be a little different. People on average are selling their house on an average of 7 years. People under 40 live in a house an average of 7 years before they look to trade up - or, if they go through a major life event like a divorce, they look to "trade down."
And then, additionally, networks like mine, HGTV, where we focus on teaching people about the power of home ownership and real estate, where we teach you how to sort properties, to renovate, has drummed up interest in the business, so the average joe wants to become an investor. Everyone wants to increase the bottom line of their portfolio.
Can you blame them?
To answer your question more directly: the pros of it are that you have a large group of people who are more educated on home ownership, and the many ways that investing in real estate can help grow their financial picture. Another pro is there's a high turnover rate, which has made the real estate market interesting and invigorating, but it's also what's continued to drive prices up, because of demand. I would say that some of the cons are that people get some education, but don't necessarily pick up everything on real estate, which means that they may skip some steps and make mistakes. Understanding the real estate process is NOT something you want to cheat. There's a method and there's a reason. Which is why I wrote my book - KEEP CALM is so that you are armed and protected!
best advice you ever got?
The best advice I ever received was from a mentor of mine, when I was 19 years old. She happened to work in radio, but was also an insurance agent. I asked her "How are you balancing both, and WHY are you doing both?" and her advice to me was a few things. "If you want to last - if you want to have longevity in this business - keep your legs closed," she said, "And know your craft like no one else." She was giving me advice about radio, but then she also told me "have a plan B and C" because the business is very fickle - the job market in broadcasting, there are very few jobs in a city. It was the greatest advice I ever got - it kept echoing in my mind. My plan B was real estate, but I wouldn't call it a plan B, because i was so passionate about it! Broadcasting and real estate were my plan A. And my plan C was television - and look at how amazing life is, because it brought me full circle and now I'm getting to do ALL of it!
In a nutshell, what she was trying to teach me was: have multiple streams of income. Never put all of your eggs in one basket. There are times when I went through a bit of unemployment in the broadcasting field, and had I not had my real estate career, I might have been up a bit of a financial creek!
AND - on the flip side - when the housing market took a plunge, and no one was buying, had I not had my broadcast career, I would've been in trouble.
I live in the Washington DC area and I'm looking to start investing in real estate within the next year. From your experience, what do you think is the best route to start out to maximize your gains. (Buy to rent out? Buy, fix it up, and then flip it? Buy, demolish, and then rebuild on the land in a premier area?)
Background: I have around $200K to put down with a partner who could add in the upper 6 digits to low 7s.
Edit: Also wanted to add that we have great credit. Would funneling our investments through an LLC prove more beneficial compared to just going into it separately?
Thank you in advance!
Number one, I love DC! I spent some time in Silver Spring, MD, for a couple years. I'm a fan of buying, fixing and flipping, number one. That's if you have NO desire to be a landlord. Because you really have to be equipped to be a landlord. If you're a flipper, or an investor, you wash your hands of it the minute you're through.
What you have to ask yourself is: are you okay with receiving phone calls from time to time that something is broken, a pipe burst and needs to be fixed, etc? Or will you have the profit margin in the property to have enough to hire a property manager to do that for you?
Because my number 2 thing would be to buy it and rent it out. I've done both. When the market's slow, sometimes it's easier to buy it, flip it, rent it out for a while until it starts to make a comeback. But sometimes when the market is hot- like it is right now - it's better to buy it, make a quick flip, and move on to your next one.
What I will say is: rents are HIGH. Specifically in Washington, DC, okay? So the rent rates are HIGH, and they are continuing to climb. SO if you can find the right formula of numbers - meaning you purchased the house with enough room to do the renovation, and enough room to make it make sense as an investment that you can get enough equity off of it, or pull some equity out to continue investing, or you know that in a couple years, you can do it - you have to ask yourself WHY are you investing in real estate? is this a retirement plan, or do you want to make a lot of money really fast? Your motivation will determine what is best for you. Buying & renting out is what people do for retirement, because the tenants typically pay the mortgage until the house is paid off. The tenants' rent typically covers the mortgage. So many people buy a few properties, rent them out, and then when they're ready to retire, they sell the properties. Or is this a career for you? Investing and flipping, will that be a career?
Ask yourself what your motivation is. And you should check out my book.
Love your show and glad to see you doing an AMA!
I always wondered, what's your ethnicity?
Haha! I get that often. And especially with a name like "Egypt," people assume I'm Egyptian! I'm African-American, both my parents are. My grandmother's mother was French.
Hello, my name is Ed Forsyth
What are your favorite hobbies?
Zumba, hahaha! I read a lot of self-help books - I love my "Me" time when I can curl up in my oldest, comfortable pajamas and read a bunch of self-help books. And I love house projects, like DIY - epoxying the garage floor, or resanding my deck. I'm always working on a project in my house. It brings me peace.