With the hot U.S. housing market, Madison reached out to Kim Lally Holmes (’07), founder and owner of a thriving realty company in Baltimore, Maryland, for her practical advice for alumni navigating the market as potential first-time homebuyers.
Holmes earned her Bachelor of Business Administration in Business Management from JMU and served on the College of Business Student Advisory Council. Her cloud-based realty company, Holmes Glorioso Home Group of eXP Realty, provides human-centric real estate experiences infused with authenticity, integrity and enthusiasm. Founded in 2020, it serves the Baltimore metropolitan area, from Pennsylvania to the Eastern Shore and everywhere in between. With several hundred satisfied clients and $42 million in sales in 2021 on her track record, Holmes’ advice is rooted in experience.
Holmes, who previously was CEO of a different real estate company and a managing consultant with IBM Global Business Services — where she met her husband, Nick, a London native — also reflects on her journey as a business owner, shares tips on entrepreneurship, reveals practical ways to traverse the housing market, and reacts to the world-class College of Business Learning Complex. Plus, with JMU’s first season in the Football Bowl Subdivision upon us soon, she explains why she’s a huge football fan.
“I have been so impressed with her entrepreneurship and think it’s so cool that her business skills started at JMU,” said Gwendolyn Brantley (’07), Holmes’ Zeta Tau Alpha sister and the person who pitched Madison on profiling her.
Madison magazine: Please share your top five tips for first-time home buyers to navigate the current housing market.
Kim Lally Holmes (’07):
1) Hire a great agent and lender, and trust their guidance. You need an agent who not only understands the process to get you through it every step of the way, but someone who knows the “market of the moment” in extreme detail. Headlines you hear on a national or local level might not always hold true on a hyperlocal level or in your particular price range. In this industry, it’s what you know AND who you know. Make sure your agent has all the necessary tools in their toolbox, and/or has a strong team or mentor to bring all of this to the table for you.
2) Get clear on your goals and requirements. You might have a lot of “nice to haves,” but in this competitive market, you might not get everything on your wish list. If you want to build equity and resell in a few years, that house hunt might look different than a property that you intend to turn into a rental and hold onto for a long time.
3) Have a strategy. A strategy and strong team of professionals around you is so important — your agent and lender are your first two draft picks. The market is different now than it was two weeks ago, and it will change again two weeks from now.
4) Communicate. The more your agent knows about your goals, the more they can help you meet them. If your plans change, the more you communicate and ask questions, the better experience you’ll have.
5) Have fun! You’re buying your first home; this is a big deal! It’s easy to get caught up in the emotions of the process, but don’t forget to zoom out, enjoy the journey and have some fun! A good agent will make sure this happens.
Madison: How can people set themselves up for future success, given the circumstances of the market?
Holmes: Be adaptable and patient, and adjust the plan if needed. Rising interest rates might mean that you need to scale back your budget, and that’s OK. If you understand your personal short- and long-term goals and you communicate them, everything else will fall into place. If this is your first home, it likely won’t be your forever home. Your needs and goals evolve over time, and your home likely will, too. We often say, “It’s a house, not a spouse!”
Madison: I understand that your company has a unique way of giving back to your community when a transaction closes. Could you please explain that?
Holmes: When a transaction closes, we ask our client to select from a list of five great causes, and then we make a donation in their honor. The five fabulous organizations on our list all mean a lot to us, and we are so proud to be able to give back to the community. We believe that money is good for the good it can do, and part of our mission statement is that we always give more than we take.
We also volunteer with an incredible organization called Love and Lunches. We buy, assemble and donate 100 lunches to vulnerable neighborhoods in Baltimore. We have learned that many of our family, friends and clients would love to give back, but they don’t always know where or how. We strive to be a vehicle to help people do that. Last December, we partnered with the Ulman Foundation to adopt two local families for the holiday season. We created an Amazon wish list so other people could contribute, then we wrapped and delivered gifts. It will be an annual initiative for us.
Madison: What do you think about the new College of Business Learning Complex at JMU?
Holmes: Incredible!! Can I come back now?! JMU has always been an amazing place to learn and grow, and the university’s commitment to constantly level-up is so impressive. We are all part of something truly special!
Madison: Could you share one anecdote that speaks to a challenge you overcame on your journey as a business owner?
Holmes: My business partner, Angela, and I both worked on other people’s teams until late 2019, when we made the decision to join forces and launch Holmes Glorioso Home Group. We were so excited to jump in and hit the ground running. We built an entire business plan around sphere-based business, which meant in-person events with our friends and clients every month of 2020. (It was a beautiful business plan — thanks, COB 300!) But we all know what 2020 brought, and it sure wasn’t in-person events! We sent snail mail, dropped off swag gifts at people’s doorsteps, leaned into social media and hosted a successful virtual bingo event.
What we really did was find a solution. As real estate professionals, we recognize that’s really our job every day. We need to find solutions for our clients; the more people we help and the more problems we solve, the bigger our business will grow. That approach carries over into everything we do. This industry is constantly evolving and new challenges come our way all the time, but we are problem-solvers and solution-finders.
Madison: How did your Madison Experience set you up for success professionally and personally?
Holmes: My college friends are some of my best friends and favorite people on the planet. The College of Business, coupled with ZTA, gave me four incredible years that I think back on often. The skills I learned at JMU helped me launch a consulting career immediately after graduation, and then transition into real estate five years later. But selling real estate and running a team/business are not the same, and I’m very grateful that my education gave me skills to succeed at both.
I changed my major/concentration four times. They were all within CoB, but I had to try a few things before I really figured it out. My career path has mirrored that. I started in consulting, transitioned to real estate sales and now run a real estate business. It’s OK to not have it all figured out, and it’s OK to change and adapt over time.
Madison: When not working, I hear that you are a season-ticket holder for the Baltimore Ravens, an avid fantasy football aficionado and the commissioner of two fantasy leagues. Why do you love football so much?
Holmes: I love anything that involves competition and camaraderie. (That’s probably why I was born to be a real estate agent.) During football season, I spend every Sunday either tailgating and going to the Ravens game, or watching away games at someone’s house with a fun group of family and friends. My love language is quality time, and football season means I’ll never have to wonder how I’ll spend my Sundays. My fantasy leagues are a great way to stay in touch with friends I might not see regularly. Both leagues have been running for more than 10 years. One is all-female, appropriately named “A League of Their Own.” Every year I “host” a draft party, which has now evolved into destination girls’ weekends. In addition to my love language of quality time, my big why is to create incredible memories and experiences for important people in my life.