For many people it is the biggest transaction of their life – buying a house. Homeownership is also a huge part of the still-alive-and-well American dream, though it may seem out of reach to many in these days of higher interest rates and even higher housing costs. For me, maybe due to my obvious fear of commitment in my younger years, I was not so interested in the idea of owning my own house – until I did. Now, I can honestly say that buying my first house was the best thing I have done for my financial health since paying off my huge amount of credit card debt in my thirties.
I recently had the opportunity to interview third generation real estate expert Ben Jones. Ben has been featured in the last 12 annual special editions of Indianapolis Star as one of the top 3% of Real Estate Agents in Indiana. He has built his business through hard work and a true commitment to his clients. He has an excellent reputation in Central Indiana which clearly shows because most of his business now comes through referrals. He refers to the process as being “like a snowball” – he started with a couple of clients, then they referred him, and those referrals turned into other referrals. His business is now thriving, with sales ranging from mansions, farms, barns, and investor flips. When it comes to real estate, Ben sees it all.
Ben runs a team of eight agents with Compass. He describes his management style as leading by example. He is hands-off with daily tasks- he does not micromanage. He treats his team the way he would like to be treated. He says that rarely does a day go by that he is not talking with or helping one of his team members through something they have going on with a transaction.
For those wanting to get into real estate as a career, Ben has three key pieces of advice. First, be prepared to fail, when first starting out. It took Ben five or six years to become what he would consider “successful”. Second, be persistent and consistent in your day-to-day process. He considers himself a process person.
He has a process on how he lays out his day, works on tasks, how he communicates with and keeps in touch with clients, etc. If he does that, he says his goals tend to get accomplished.
Third, Ben recommends having six months of income stashed away. In fact, Ben has a mindset of thinking six months ahead.
I was curious about the current state of the real estate market, so I asked him a few questions surrounding real estate in his local area of Indiana. My interview follows:
What is the price range of the real estate you sell? Do you sell solely in Indiana at this time?
I get this question quite a bit. I sell in all price points. Last month I helped first time buyers close on a $240k house but also got a $4.5 million dollar listing under contract. I enjoy working with people in different stages of life and think they deserve the best representation regardless of price.
Do you show any rentals? If so, what are the rental prices in your area generally?
I don’t really show rentals. A decent three bedroom, two bath rental is probably around $2500+ a month.
How do you see the real estate market right now? How do you see it going in the next five or ten years?
The market needs inventory. Hopefully in five years we will have more inventory and rates will have come down a bit so first time homebuyers can get into the market.
Have you noticed many people wanting to move to Indiana right now?
Yes. We have seen an influx of people from Chicago as they don’t want to pay the higher property taxes that Illinois has. Indiana was also a little more ‘open’ compared to other states during the pandemic, which helped fuel people here.
In this time, when a lot of people aren’t doing well financially, who are the people you see buying right now?
People with strong and steady jobs and equity in their current home that they can tap for a down payment.
In your experience, who is choosing to rent these days, versus buying?
First time home buyers that cannot find the right first time home.
For our younger readers, who may feel that buying a home is out of reach to them, what is your advice?
Talk with your trusted lender to run numbers to see if you qualify for buying a home. You are paying a mortgage whether you rent or buy. If you rent you’re paying your landlord’s mortgage. If you buy you’re paying your own.
What does a brand new first time buyer need to know most about purchasing their first property?’
There are some ‘hidden costs’ to homeownership. When something breaks, it’s on the homeowner to remedy it. You can’t call the apartment complex or landlord to come fix it.
Tell me some things you love about Indiana.
The Purdue and IU Rivalry. It makes things fun when they play each other in football and basketball.
The Indianapolis 500. It’s the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. People travel from all over the world to go to it. If you’ve never been, add it to your bucket list.
The people. Good Midwestern people who overall are very nice, cordial, caring, and respectful.
Ben Jones embodies the Midwestern characteristics he mentions. You can see it in the fact that his former clients, even years after purchasing a home through him, still come to him for guidance and advice regarding home repairs and projects on which they are embarking.
You can find out more about Ben Jones at https://buywithben.com/.