What Business Partners, Charly Johnson and Donella Johnson of Commercial Home Builders, Love About Baltimore

Jan. 9, 2017

From the Blog

At Live Baltimore, our relationships with our real estate partners are so important to our success. These relationships allow us to ensure that our home buying clients have access to businesses and individuals who are not only experts in their fields but also experts on Baltimore City.

These partners share our vision and passion for Baltimore City and are able to guide our clients through the often intimidating process of purchasing a new home, finding the perfect neighborhood, and taking advantage of the many incentives available.

We recently sat down with Donella Johnson, Director of Marketing and Communications for The Commercial Group and Charly Johnson, Real Estate Manager for Commercial Home Builders, about their exciting development in the Patterson Park neighborhood.

LB: Can you give us a brief history on Commercial Home Builders? 

CJ: The Commercial Group is a company of five other companies; Commercial Home Builders being the residential renovation and sales arm.

DJ: Commercial Home Builders was established in 2014, we started with rental properties then decided to take that portfolio, mostly scattered site housing in Patterson Park, and renovate for sale. We started with about 100 properties in our portfolio and have renovated and sold 26.

LB: Did you still offer rental properties? 

CJ: Yes

LB: What is the price range of the homes that have been renovated and are for sale? 

CJ: The prices range from $230,000 to $280,000.

LB: If a client is interested in a property that hasn’t been renovated yet are they able to customize at all, like finishes and paint colors? 

CJ: Yes actually they are, we will walk them through the house, so that they see what we are proposing to do. Then the client is given options of fixtures, ceiling fans, granite countertops, cabinets, etc.

LB: What kind of floor plans do you offer? Do you keep it close to what it was originally or do you offer more modern, open floor plans? 

CJ: We try to do open floor plans, more modern. The design and colors we use give the finished product a chic and modern feel. Our houses have the best of both worlds, the exteriors are more historic but with a modern interior.  Also, a majority of our homes are CHAP approved so there are certain aspects that will maintain the historic charm of the Patterson Park neighborhood.

LB: So I know CHAP is a great tool for you as developers to use to sell your homes. For those of our readers who are not that familiar with CHAP, can you explain what the benefit to the buyer is when they purchase a CHAP property? 

CJ: The benefit of purchasing a CHAP home is that your property taxes are set at the pre-renovation assessment. They will remain at that lowered amount for 10 years and after 10 years the taxes revert to the current rate. Because we renovated within the CHAP guidelines and kept the historical features, the buyer gets the tax credit along with some details and craftsmanship that can’t be replicated today, so it’s definitely beneficial for buyers and a great selling point for us.

LB: For someone who is maybe new to Baltimore or maybe not familiar with all of the neighborhoods, can you talk a little about the neighborhood that you work in, Patterson Park? Why is Patterson Park a great place to live? 

CJ: Patterson Park is awesome, I feel the community in this area is so close knit. It’s not rare because there are a lot of Baltimore communities like this, but I find the way this community is so close to be very unique. The park is one of the most beautiful parks in the country, I believe it’s ranked in the top ten parks nationwide and is one of the best assets in the community. It has a pool, basketball and tennis courts, neighbors walking their dogs, everyone is friendly, and they look out for each other.

DJ: I would like to add, that I think it’s a very diverse community, they have very young professionals, young doctors that are working at Johns Hopkins, for example, to people who have been in the neighborhood for years, so the neighborhood is very diverse and it does makes for a really, really nice community.

LB: Why should a Live Baltimore client go to Commercial Home Builders for their housing needs? 

CJ: I feel having our properties here in Patterson park community is number one, we just went over the benefits – it’s very diverse, the community has a lot of great assets, it’s close to Canton, etc. So having our homes here coupled with the expertise, craftsmanship and all that we put into our homes, the fact that we allow people to put their own touches on the home, I think it all matters.  We are very personable with our buyers, we make sure that they are happy through the whole process, and that we make their journey of buying a home an easy and pleasant one. I think that anyone who is buying a home would jump at the opportunity we provide for a homebuyer to purchase a fully renovated, turn-key home and at the same time, allowing them to be involved in the process. It is what sets us apart from other home buying options in the City.

DJ: People like Charly and Larry Jersild, who is the superintendent in charge of the renovations, are extremely passionate about what it is that they do, and we as a company believe that if you are going to do anything, you do it right. We strive for excellence in anything and everything that we put out and Charly and Larry are extremely passionate about delivering quality homes at a great price for the Patterson Park community. Their goal personally, is to leave Patterson Park better than how we found it, which means we are going to get more homeowners in that area and we are going to turn over a lot of the rentals to permanent sales in order to strengthen the community of Patterson Park.

LB: My two cents, I haven’t heard either one of you say this; I think one of your strengths is your targeted approach. Some developers choose to have projects all over the city, and while that comes with some advantages, the advantage of working in a targeted area is that you know that area and when a buyer comes to you, you can really speak to the strengths of the Patterson Park community as opposed to someone that has properties everywhere and may not know the community where they own properties. I think that’s another great selling point for Commercial Home Builders, you’re not just familiar with the product you sell but you’re familiar with the community. Speaking of community, do you work with the community on their goals for the neighborhood? Do you attend the neighborhood association meetings? Do you talk to them about what your redevelopment plans are and get their feedback?

CJ: I am currently working on compiling plans and information for some local community organizations and possibly partner with them on renovating some homes within the community and other Baltimore City neighborhoods.

DJ: We have also had some events in which we support local business and invite residents. 

CJ: We had a paint night and some of the community residents have attended, we have had some of our new buyers, some local business owners and some of our vendors. It was a chance for us to interact with the community and for the residents to see what we are doing. But we also try to reach out beyond the Patterson Park neighborhood, we have been taking part in Live Baltimore events, we are a sponsor for the Belair-Edison Neighborhood beer and wine festival. We are reaching out and getting involved in this community.

LB: What is your favorite thing about Baltimore City?

CJ: I’m from Baltimore so I really love this city because I’m from here. I’ve had opportunities to go to school out of town and sometimes I wish I would have taken those opportunities just to have a different surrounding, but I really love Baltimore because we are a very unique city: the places you go and the people you meet within the little neighborhoods, the markets that we have all over the city, I just love how unique the city is! 

DJ: Two things jump right off the top and #1 is food, I love the fact that Baltimore City has such an eclectic variety of restaurants and eateries, anything I can ever crave, I find it in Baltimore. And then I love its walkability. I’m one that loves to not have to take my car from A to B but it’s easy to walk from one neighborhood to another. It’s a nice, comfortable, easy stroll with lots to see, lots of architecture and when you go from neighborhood to neighborhood you really can see different cultures, neighborhood cultures, depending on where you are.

LB: What is a piece of advice you would give someone who is moving to Baltimore City? 

DJ: Get a bike, you are going to love being able to ride around and stroll the city. You can get around easily and get a different experience 5 minutes away if you’re on a bike. I think its great place to have a pet too. I love the fact that there are a lot of dog parks. Patterson Park is a great place for families and pets to come together.

CJ: Explore, take a walk and explore, we have so many different areas that are culturally diverse and I think that’s one of the things that makes Baltimore great.

LB: Is there anything else you would like us to know about CHB? 

DJ: We’re looking forward and committed to continuing to put out quality homes in the Patterson Park area and to continue to reach out to the neighborhood organizations and businesses to foster good relationships with organizations in the area.

If you would like to learn more about Commercial Home Builders or view their available properties you can visit them at their website.