Jackson — The name of the company and its mission bring a new mix to Jackson. Billboards are popping up all over the metro area touting Brown Dog Properties. Owners Jim Adams and Edwin Brown say the signs are getting a good response.
“We’re a properties solutions company,” said Brown. “We can solve any problem you have with real estate.”
The company takes its name from a T-shirt printing enterprise that Brown started while he was a student at Mississippi State University. He started to call it Brown Bag Apparel but changed it when his dad told him the name was too plain and suggested Brown Dog instead. The T-shirt business was okay but a short time later Brown and his dad began investing in real estate. No other name would do but Brown Dog Properties. There’s even a fetching logo featuring a dog jumping through a ring.
Brown, 24, grew up in Chattanooga, Tenn., but has family roots in the Hattiesburg area where his grandfather, Ramsey O’Neal, founded Hattiesburg Clinic. Edwin Brown was on his way to continuing the medical tradition when the real estate bug bit and he decided that was the way to go.
In 2003, he joined forces with Jim Adams who comes from a family of real estate investors and worked for several years in financial services. The two decided they could do more as “we” than as “I.” Brown is responsible for purchases and acquisitions, and Adams handles sales and marketing.
“We have a unique little company,” Adams says. “Things are going very well, and we anticipate being in 50 cities in five years.”
Brown Dog Properties has three basic components of business. Those include revitalizing distressed property, helping first-time homebuyers get into homes and offering ways for private investors to earn returns in the real estate market.
“By taking distressed property that might be in foreclosure or bankruptcy, we’re rebuilding and improving cities one street at a time,” Adams said. “We offer down payment assistance to first-time homebuyers and the handicapped. And, we package these properties and sell them to people looking for investment property.”
Individuals lend money to Brown Dog Properties to buy homes. The company can buy homes with immediate equity and may spend $20,000 repairing rundown homes. Brown Dog Properties then manages them as rental property for a 10% fee. Sometimes it helps tenants become homeowners. But, the main focus is acting as a mortgage company for private investors.
“People looking for investment property do not want to fix the toilet or collect rent,” Adams said. “They want appreciating assets and residual income from rental property.”
The partners say investors can earn a 6% to 10% return by owning real estate versus the 2% or 3% the funds may be earning in other investments. Brown Dog can offer cash on the spot to buy homes. The goal is to have 400 to 600 phone calls a month from people wanting to sell their homes to the company. An independent appraiser determines the value of properties.
“It’s neat to be able to offer solutions to people. We don’t just pay cash for houses,” Brown said. “We will be discreet about it and help people start a new life. We give them an option, and I feel good about what we do.”
The solutions don’t just stop with buying homes and refurbishing them as rental property. The company can list and sell a home the conventional way too with Brown’s wife, Julie, who’s a licensed real estate agent.
Adams said this concept is new to Jackson but is big around the country. They plan to have an office in Chattanooga by fall and from there branch out to Atlanta, Birmingham, Huntsville and Memphis. The company has already sold property to investors from Seattle, Atlanta, Huntsville, Ala., New Jersey, California and Nevada.
“I envision us being the Wal-Mart of real estate with offices all over the country,” Brown said, “and starting in Jackson isn’t a bad thing either. We’re asking how can we do this bigger.”
The 24-year-old says he’s amazed that a year ago he was driving to Jackson from Port Gibson each day and the Broad Street Café’s Internet connection was his office. Now Brown Dog Properties has an office and staff. In addition to the partners and Julie Brown, that staff includes a general contractor, mortgage broker and property manager.
The catchy billboards have the phones ringing. Now Brown and Adams say they need more private lenders plus more homes.
“If we had 100 houses, we could have all of them under contract in a few days. The demand has increased and we need to ramp up inventory,” Adams said. “It’s not a new concept around the country, but we think we have the most unique model in Mississippi.”
Adams, 43, grew up in the Tupelo area and is a Delta State graduate. He got into real estate when he bought a block of 70 distressed properties. He was planning to handle them on the side but went into real estate full time when faced with a transfer to Milwaukee or Dallas with his employer. He and Brown met at a real estate seminar and felt they each had something to offer the other one.
Adams leads the educational effort, traveling and speaking to groups about real estate investments. “It’s primarily to educate and tell the story,” he said. “I may uncover some deals but we want everyone to win.”
Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at email@example.com.