Ambria Hardy, Founder & Qualifying Broker at The Maxwell Haus.
Ambria is a real estate broker by trade and an economic developer. She is currently a Project Manager with the Georgia Dept. of Economic Development, specializing in business attraction. She is also a veteran of the GA Army National Guard where she held two MOSs as a Geospatial Engineer and a Geospatial Intelligence Imagery Analyst.
Connect with Ambria on LinkedIn.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- Wealth gap in AA communities
- Affordable housing
- Estate planning
- Extracurricular activities for children
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:03] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for Atlanta Business Radio, brought to you by on pay. Built in Atlanta, on pay is the top rated payroll and HR software anywhere. Get one month free at on pay. Now here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:31] Lee Kantor here, another episode of Atlanta Business Radio. And these are my very favorite episodes. They are the GSU ENI radio episodes and today’s guest will be no different than the others, fascinating, interesting and doing amazing things. Today’s guest is Ambria Hardy and she is with the Maxwell Haus. Welcome, Ambria.
Ambria Hardy: [00:00:55] Welcome. Thank you for having me.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:57] Well, I’m excited to learn what you’re up to. Tell us about your firm. How are you serving folks?
Ambria Hardy: [00:01:03] Yes. So the Maxwell Haus is actually a hybrid social enterprise. There is the Maxwell Haus Residential Agency, which is our for profit branch. And then we have the Maxwell Academy, which is our nonprofit side of it, which makes it a kind of a hybrid social enterprise. So the brokerage is pretty much your standard brokerage where basically we assist buyers with sellers. What’s more, I guess socially inclined for business is the fact that we kind of look at African American consumers in the industry and the vulnerable consumer. When we look at the when we look at the American Housing Survey, when we look at the US Census Bureau, what we notice is that African Americans tend to have the worst of the pickings when you consider appraisals. For example, if we’re looking at a homeowner or our home buyer, specifically a homeowner, typically appraisals in predominantly African American communities tend to be lower than those in other communities. That includes Hispanic, Asian and white communities. When we look at mortgage rates, interest rates, even when we had our season of really low interest rates in the mortgage industry, what we saw was and also reported by the American Housing Survey was that African Americans who not only have higher credit scores in their cards, but also with more income, they are also being charged higher interest rates as well. So you have the appraisal and you have the interest rates, and then you also have the competition of the seller’s market where people are pretty much kind of picking, you know, the best case scenario as far as homeowners who would buy the house. So you have people who are already disadvantaged monetarily and just socially in the real estate market competing with other people who have competitive interest rates, competitive appraisals in that market. In there, you can see that they’re losing. That’s also reported that the pandemic also increased the wealth gap between African Americans and pretty much every other American.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:16] So how does Maxwell House help kind of solve these challenges?
Ambria Hardy: [00:03:20] Yeah. So as far as the real estate brokerage side of it, again, it’s just a standard day to day. But what we do is we we pretty much hold the hand of our our clients from from the time that they even consider purchasing or selling a home. As far as appraisals, we have, like lawyers that we work with that help us fight appraisal Ty Waters if they’re VA lender loans as well. As far as buying a home, we help our we use the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. We use their education to help our consumers learn how to choose interest rates, how to shop for mortgage loans, and how to really have that conversation with underwriters to make sure that the points are reflected as something that is fair and something that that they do most often with every consumer and not just African American consumers.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:22] So a lot of your work is education, but you’re also kind of walking someone through and helping them get that loan, get the proper appraisal and get their dream house or sell their dream house.
Ambria Hardy: [00:04:35] Yes. Well, what we and what we actually try to do is take away from that dream house ideology. We don’t we don’t support that ideology at the Maxwell House because I just don’t think that as a whole the African American community is is really. I will pass. I want based on the esthetics and things of that nature because we haven’t. Built a system where let me see how how would I put this? We haven’t really built a system where we could say, you know, this is the time for me to buy exactly what it is that I want and I desire in my house. Yes, there are plenty of African Americans with good jobs that make decent salaries, livable salaries, and even better. But what we have to understand is that it’s more important to look at where we are buying land, and if that land is something that’s going to increase in appreciating value over time. What we have to focus on is whether or not we’re in a school system that supports our children. We have to recognize that we can’t buy houses the same way other people buy houses right now because we’re just not as a whole in a position to do that. And so our education is a very, very immersive sort of education where we can either help you in the process now or help you prepare for the process in the future. And we teach you how to look at houses, and I use myself as an example my myself and my husband, we became homeowners at 25 and 27.
Ambria Hardy: [00:06:14] And how we did that was I really took a lot of the information that I received. I was someone as a child that was always kind of I stuck to the statistics. For example, in grade school we have a class sex education, for example, and you hear these types of things. And if you go to a predominantly black school, it’s even scarier, right? Because you’ll hear things like, well, one in four African American women will be HIV positive by the time they’re 30 or one in six African American women will be teenage mothers or, you know, one in three African American men will be incarcerated. Now, when you go to a school that is predominantly black, you can literally just sit in the class and you go, one, two, three, you, one, two, three, you. And so I’ve always been someone that always wanted to go against the grain as far as that. And so that’s also the process that I felt in my mind when I purchased my very own house. And so even me, I’m the youngest of six and I am the first person in my family to actually get married without having a child first. I’m actually the first one to get a bachelor’s degree. I’m actually the first person that actually own a house. And and to buy a house that has appreciated over 300,000 since we just did in 2017.
Ambria Hardy: [00:07:43] And so that methodology that I use for myself and my husband, I like to share that with other African Americans who are interested in building generational wealth and not necessarily just buying a beautiful house, you know, and that goal is there. I never tell people not to have that goal, but I’m saying let’s let’s be realistic for a second. We if we lost our job, could we still afford this house? Are we really are we suffering monthly with every other thing because we have to make a mortgage on this beautiful house. We want to buy what we can afford and then let that buy our next house for us. And so that’s really the methodology that I use in my immersive learning, which goes into the not for profit portion, which is the real estate academy. So the real estate academy offers C courses in pre licensed courses. So basically anyone who would like to become a real estate agent can come through the Maxwell House Real Estate Academy, take the pre licensed course, pass the city and become licensed. This is a really great opportunity for, I think people like myself. When I went to college, I went to college on a Fulbright scholarship. I was the only one of siblings to do so. To assist me in other ways. So I was in three part time jobs back when the average hourly wage was 7.25.
Ambria Hardy: [00:09:12] Trying to do that maintain a 3.0 GPA. Someone should have introduced me to real estate at the time. I wouldn’t have had to work so many jobs. I could have sold one or two houses and made enough money to support whatever my fees were, my food needs and things. So I think it helps in that I definitely look to bring on freshmen and younger generations just to kind of teach them how to make that money quickly. Also with that, you get see credits, courses are woven some sort of African American history, some sort of geographic information systems learning and just, you know, financial literacy for in both their clients. I teach agents how to talk to a vulnerable consumer. Who are the African Americans with these courses? But then there’s a third tier and there’s the consumer facing education as well, where we do all ages, all age groups, we have coloring books, we have chapter books, and then we also have books for adults as well who are looking to learn more about financial literacy and how to build generational wealth, because it has to be a family wide conversation. Like if your five year old comes to you and say, Mom, what am I inheriting? That’s kind of one of those jaw dropping moments at the dinner table where you say, you know what, we really should have that conversation. I think this education is going to bring about that conversation as an everyday conversation.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:55] So I guess since you’ve kind of tasted the benefits of home ownership and of using real estate to create generational wealth, you’re really using that knowledge and information to help other people kind of leverage that in a similar way that you have.
Ambria Hardy: [00:11:14] Yes, I would say that’s exactly what I’m doing. I would never go so far as to teach someone something. That one. I don’t feel confident saying that. I know. But also I wouldn’t put someone through a process that I myself haven’t gone through. And this is a process that I’ve gone through completely by myself. And so every trial and error, I had to kind of figure out and strategize how to mitigate those obstacles by myself. And so now I have that blueprint to just pass on to other agents, to teach their clients to other families, to teach their children, their sisters and even and just other agents so that we can be more competitive in the real estate market and help build more generational wealth, which is widening, obviously.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:15] Now, how did you find out about the Main Street Fund? How did that get on your radar and how has it helped you grow your business?
Ambria Hardy: [00:12:25] It’s very interesting how that how that came out. So, again, if I remember my story, which was. We started working once I. I started working a lot and I would I would pull in so many full time positions that I would just drop out a semester. If I got offered a full time job, I would drop out that semester, complete my full time job, save that money, you know, maybe go back to school the next semester, maybe. And then I just. Ain’t working. And I knew that I had to work because I had to eat. My bills came every month like everyone else is dead. I’m 19, 20 years old, but real world worked upon me. Even. I did go to school on a Fulbright scholarship. And so with the money that I made through real estate during the real estate boom, I ended up quitting my job with Clayton County Community Development, and I went full time into real estate and I did well. I did very well. And around this time my husband ended up getting a better job as well. So I was able to pull back and pay cash to finish my senior year. One of the classes that I took, I met M.K. Mother that come and for our final exam in this class was the introduction to social entrepreneurship. In that course, our final exam was a pitch, and what I did was I just chose to pitch something that I had already been doing right, which was real estate and helping African Americans and just showing people how to build generational wealth, how to actually buy a house, especially if you’re a first time home buyer in your family, you know, and things like that. And so he was so drawn to my my enthusiasm for it, my passion for it. And I thought my presentation, I put a lot of energy into it. And so he then recommended to my professor to have me apply for the program. And that’s how I joined the program.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:29] And have you benefited from going through that?
Ambria Hardy: [00:14:33] I have very much benefited from going through this program because I’m someone that I had to get gritty at a very early age. And so to have someone say, you know what, I recognize what it is that you’ve been doing and I see how organic it is for you and we assist you in building this. I definitely have learned so much about entrepreneurial brilliance that you kind of get thrust into entrepreneurs and independent contractor, but it’s more of a hustle. And I think on this side, what it what it taught me was how to organize my processes, organize my thoughts, how to bring to customer discovery and things of that nature. So this has been a very organized approach to what I had been doing, which was hustling at a higher level. Now it’s more business, you know, business etiquette.
Lee Kantor: [00:15:32] And you’re learning from others who have done it before you and you’re trying to do the same thing with your skills and your experiences and try to help others learn from you.
Ambria Hardy: [00:15:43] And yep, and it makes a great opportunity to just meet other like minded individuals. Just being in a cohort, it’s a cohort of 15 different founders and just bouncing ideas off of each other. It’s just something that I really desired, you know, especially when I first got into real estate back in 2016, you know, just to share that kind of think tank when you’re in real estate and and you can from from an outsider and become an insider, everyone’s very tight lipped. You have to figure it out completely by yourself, as from the fear of maybe she’ll take it and do it better. Maybe she has more money to do it to implement this faster. So you don’t really get to share ideas with other realtors or real estate brokers organically unless you kind of got into that group, got into that crew, which I’ve done. But this kind of happened quickly. It happened quickly. Everybody genuinely trust you and have an authentic desire to see you in as well, even though we are all in the competition now.
Lee Kantor: [00:16:56] Any advice for other founders out there or people who, you know, maybe it wasn’t their first thinking to be in a startup or to found something, but, you know, they decided to take the plunge and go for it. Any advice for them about doing something like this?
Ambria Hardy: [00:17:14] Say, the best advice, because I did ended up taking another full time position. I never had a jobs, so I actually ended up taking a full time position around the same time that I did get accepted into the cohort. And I would say and this is you can’t serve to two entities at once. And I think there are a lot of people who work full time in the program and they’re doing well. But if you really, truly, truly know that what you’re doing is impactful, if you’re really, truly passionate about it, go all in. You don’t have to split that time between, you know, your full time job in Main Street, in your business, go full on at your business. That would be my best advice. If I could start over, I would not have accepted a full time position. I do love my job, but. I would just say go full. Go full throttle. Let up.
Lee Kantor: [00:18:17] So if somebody wants to learn more about Maxwell House, what’s the best way of getting hold of you or somebody on your team?
Ambria Hardy: [00:18:25] Yes. My website is Maxwell House Hot Real Estate and I can be contacted at contact us at Maxwell House. That real estate.
Lee Kantor: [00:18:36] Well, good stuff. Congratulations on all the success and all the momentum. Where you’re doing important work. And we appreciate you.
Ambria Hardy: [00:18:45] Thank you. I appreciate your time.
Lee Kantor: [00:18:47] All right. This is Lee Kantor. We’ll see you all next time on GSU. Any radio?
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