Finance major’s past inspired him to help others find homes

Scottie Smith

UNT student Scottie Smith

When Scottie Smith was in middle school, his parents and seven of his 13 siblings lived with his grandmother in Houston.  Then his grandmother was evicted, and Smith and nine family members were forced to move into a hotel.  The family lived in the hotel for several months while they got back on their feet.

That experience taught Smith, now a senior finance major at UNT, the value of real estate and awakened his passion to help others achieve home ownership.  In 2006, while he was a freshman, Smith founded Frametech Homebuyers. Frametech buys homes and rehabs them for first-time or low-income home buyers.  Smith manages all of the research, financing and construction of the homes.

Last year Smith changed the company's name to Frametech Properties and he is awaiting final approval to operate as a non-profit organization.

Helping those in need

So far, Frametech has rehabbed 4 properties and has helped about 7 families in Houston and the North Texas area get housing they could afford. In some of those cases, Frametech provided an affordable property the family could rent; in others it helped them purchase a home.

Recently Smith helped a single mother facing eviction as the end of her lease drew near.

"She was receiving Housing Assistance (Section 8) and was having a hard time finding another property owner who was willing to accept the assistance," Smith says. To help her out, Smith set her rent amount at about 25% less than the market rate of other rental properties. But he didn't stop there.

"Normally, the process to get someone into one of our homes takes at least a month, but because she was facing homelessness soon, we arranged for her and her children to move into the home while the process was completed."

This is what the company and I strive to do – to uplift our community by providing people with a place to live."

Finding a diamond in the rough

When looking for property to purchase, Smith says he typically visits lower socioeconomic neighborhoods because he thinks these are the areas with potential that most people overlook.

Once Smith finds a property to renovate, he begins the process to get financing to purchase the property. The non-profit status makes Frametech eligible for some government grant programs, and even more grants are available to Frametech because it focuses on low to moderate income families.

"Some of these grants directly help the families with funding for rent payments, mortgage payments, down payment assistance and much more," Smith says.

After financing is established and he closes on the property, Smith hires contractors to refurbish the home. Smith says he wants to develop partnerships with major corporations, such as Home Depot, Lowes and other builder supply stores, to help cut costs on materials needed to complete projects.

The change to non-profit status is also affecting the way Smith can find renters and potential buyers. Previously, he had to simply price homes in a range that would appeal to lower income individuals and hope they would come to him. But as he develops relationships with the municipalities and counties where he is working, he plans to use the housing assistance rosters as a source to find families in need.

If a potential buyer approaches him about purchasing a home, Smith says there are several options for the buyer, not only in the form of the mortgage they apply for, but also for their down payment.

"Frametech puts clients in touch with mortgage brokers who accept down payment assistance," Smith says. "That assistance is provided by the counties where we are working. Some counties have programs tailored specifically for the people in that area."

A passion for real estate

When Smith was young, his stepfather, who worked in construction, took him to job sites to help out.

"That experience taught me about different things such as roofing, painting and foundation work and what an acceptable job looked like," Smith says.

Years later, Smith said he and his stepfather discussed the idea of getting into real estate, but his first UNT real estate class gave him the push and the confidence to take the leap.

"Professor John Baen shed some light on some real estate myths and told me not to be scared.  He said that it is better to try something and fail, then to not have tried at all and have regrets," said Smith. 

Ambitious goals for the future

Smith hopes to help at least 24 families or individuals by the end of 2010.  Eventually he wants to work with multi-family units and someday invest in new land development to provide new homes for low to moderate income families. He says his dream is to one day help thousands of families.

"I just don't want people to have to live in a hotel or live off of someone else, like my family and I had to for so long," said Smith.  "It is all about uplifting the community, making sure that people have a place to stay, and making sure that somehow, some way, people can get the most valuable asset they'll ever receive in their life – a home."

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Frametech designated CHDO

As well as the pending certification as a nonprofit, Frametech is an official Community Housing Development Organization

That designation makes the company eligible for city and state government programs such as:

  • community housing grants
  • project grants
  • programs to provide funds to low-income families who want to purchase homes