Jamisa McIvor was only 19 years old when a simple conversation with her grandmother about taking over her property led to her becoming a homeowner. However, it wasn’t until her grandmother unexpectedly passed away that McIvor was hit with the real-life responsibilities of homeownership. With no support from family and no prior real estate knowledge, McIvor chose to sell the home. This would mark the beginning of her journey in real estate.
At 26 years old, McIvor is now the owner of 18 Pennsylvania properties and founder of Rosebud’s Investments. Through her company, McIvor is dedicated to helping other women and young mothers use real estate as a means of gaining financial freedom. I got the chance to have a conversation with McIvor about her early beginnings, lessons she’s learned along the way, as well as what she sees for her company’s future.
Her Agenda: We know that you purchased your first home from your grandmother. How did that end up happening?
Jamisa McIvor: I was 19. One day, she said ‘If something was to happen to me, what would happen to the house?’ And I said ‘I don’t know.’ That was a really good question. But at the time, you’re talking to a 19 year old. In my mind, the only thing I could think is that your house would still be there. She said ‘No, I just wanted to know who would look after it? Who would be responsible for it? You’re the most responsible one so I just wanted to know could you do it?’ I said ‘yeah. It seems pretty easy.’ And then obviously at the time I’m not thinking of anything happening to her. I didn’t really know the proper steps to go about it at the time.
I realized that I could do what was called $1 deed transfer. I could buy the property from her for a dollar because she was my grandma. I ended up purchasing the property from her for $1. In total, it wasn’t really a dollar, it was about $400. It wasn’t expensive. It was very cheap. I used my money because I was a cashier at the time. And at that point, I was a homeowner. It was simple, it really took about a week for everything to be finalized.
In the first year, I purchased nine houses.
Her Agenda: What happened after you purchased the house?
Jamisa McIvor: She actually still lived at the property. So, it wasn’t a big deal to me. And then she ended up dying. I was still young. I was only 20. So I say okay, this is my house. What do I do with it? You have the taxes. Once you own property, you have property taxes. The first thought was okay I’m going to move in.
That was my first thought because at that time I didn’t live at home. I lived somewhere else and I was paying rent there. If I own a home, I can live here and not pay anything. But where grandma lived looked like grandma lived there. I’m going to have to fix it. I didn’t have any money to fix it and I didn’t actually realize how much it costs to fix property until I had to do it.
My family was supposed to help me, but they weren’t too happy with the fact that it was my house. So I said, you know what? I’m going to sell it. So I ended up selling it. I made $152,000 off the sale. That was great until I found out that I could have made $300,000 off the sale. And I said ‘Wait a minute. What did I do wrong?’ That started my real estate journey.
I made $152,000 off the sale. That was great until I found out that I could have made $300,000 off the sale. And I said ‘Wait a minute. What did I do wrong?’ That started my real estate journey.
Her Agenda: What about that experience of buying that home and then selling it made you want to take on real estate as a career?
Jamisa McIvor: I originally started my journey trying to find the extra 250. I’m 20. I want my money. People are thinking that I’m some kind of genius. I’m not. I’m inquisitive, relentless, and very determined. I originally started out just wanting to find out where that 250K went and then actually not wanting to lose the money. I think fear had a lot to do with how I operated. The good news is at this point, I don’t have to go back to work. I can replace my income. I’m not going to go be a cashier again. To me, $152,000 meant that I was rich.
My first step was to replace my house. And then a realtor had connected me with an investor. The investor had some properties for sale. So he sold me a property that had a tenant, which was great because it instantly replaced my income. He sold me another property that was not so great.
Everything was fairly easy because I had a ton of cash. That was okay until I started running out of money. In the first year, I purchased nine houses. I think I got to my last 10 or $15,000. You look at your bank account one day and you are rich. Then you look at it again, and you only have $10,000.
Her Agenda: So far, what would you say is one of the most important lessons that you have learned about the industry as a young Black, woman entrepreneur?
Jamisa McIvor: You’re never going to know everything you need to know. Just start. That’s just from my own experience. But also from the experience of other people. They want to invest and then try to learn everything about it. The best action to take is some course of action. That was the strongest lesson that I learned. A few years later, I have a portfolio of about $3.2 million. It came from me just trying stuff. I didn’t have any prior knowledge. There was nobody who talked to me about real estate. As a matter of fact, I think I was only the third homeowner in my family.
Her Agenda: You mentioned that you’re married and a mother. I’ve read that you’ve also been working to show other women like yourself the opportunities that could be afforded in real estate. Why is that mission so important to you?
Jamisa McIvor: Being a parent is probably one of the highest highest honors that you can get. I know mom’s who will work 6 jobs to make sure their kids eat. But at the end of the day, the question then becomes are you helping are you hurting them. If you are doing all this hard work, if you drop dead then your kids can’t feed themselves.
What did you give them that was tangible? What did you pass them along that’s going to carry them to the next level? Or do you want them to be in a situation where they are now doing exactly what you’re doing.
I think ownership is the only way to secure success. Whether it’s one house or whether it’s 100. At least you own it. You can always sell the house. You can always rent it out. People always need a place to live. There’s always so many options with ownership even if it’s not ownership of property. It can be ownership of stock, ownership of anything. That’s really important. Any mom can do it and any mom should want to do it. Ownership can give you options.
Her Agenda: What has been some of your biggest accomplishments as a woman in real estate?
Jamisa McIvor: I am the first millionaire in my family. I am the first successful business owner in my family. But my biggest success is helping other people. I’ve helped so many people become homeowners without getting into a million and one dollars worth of debt. That speaks more volumes than everything else.
I am the first millionaire in my family. I am the first successful business owner in my family. But my biggest success is helping other people.
Her Agenda: You know that there is a huge wealth gap in the Black community. What is your advice for young women who want financial and independence but feel that they don’t have the credit or the capital? How do they start?
Jamisa McIvor: Start from exactly where you are. Don’t let your circumstances determine what you can accomplish and how far you can go. I would definitely say take pride out of it. The first thing a person does when they come of age is move out. Buckle down you know stay here as long as you can. The longer you stay, the longer can you save and have a foundation for yourself. Don’t be prideful. The second thing is do your research and learn. Invest in yourself. You are the greatest investment that you can make.
Her Agenda: Let’s talk about balancing your everyday life as the owner of Rosebud’s Investments, with being a mother and being a wife.
Jamisa McIvor: There’s no balance. Right now, I’m interviewing with you which is work. But I’m also picking my kid up from the bus stop. I’m being honest. You can be successful while raising kids so that you’re able to raise them a bit better. I’ll have a seminar and take my daughter. I take my kids because I want people to know that they can do both.
Her Agenda: What’s next for Rosebud’s Investments? What direction do you see your company headed in?
Jamisa McIvor: Expansion. I want to do housing for women. I want to do more programs that allow them to have ownership. I want to provide rent to own options and really make that a thing. There are certain rent to own programs but they’re pretty difficult and really involved. I want to use some of the spaces that I have or purchase more and just make it more attainable for them.
[Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.]