Suzette Samuel – Realty Check
Words + Interview By Tyrone Davis
Suzette Samuel is a Real Estate Agent and Financial Consultant originally from Bronx, NYC. Now residing in Atlanta,GA, the former video vixen and I discussed her upbringing, college, the importance of credit and credit repair, real estate do’s and don’ts, reality TV, relationships and more. Take notes!
Describe your background and how you grew up.
My mother came to America from Trinidad when she found out she was pregnant with me and we spent most of our time in the Bronx, NYC. I was then placed in foster care at 16 and pretty much stayed there until I had my first daughter at 20 years old. After my first daughter, I got my first apartment in the projects and the rest is history.
While attending college, did you ever have an “Aha moment?” If so, what was it and how did you proceed?
Honestly, the only reason I went to college was because I caught a case and was facing 3-5 years in prison. My lawyer told me that it would be best to show the judge that I was doing something with my life and being productive in society. My “Aha Moment” came once I realized I can use my financial aid as a means of support for my daughter and since my rent was only $100 and I had no real bills at this time, I did not have to worry about hustling. I was focused on school and not running the streets. Fighting a criminal court case AND being a Psychology major helped shape how I understand and deal with people. Due to my background and being in the system, I felt that it was important for kids like myself to feel loved and not be treated like a number in the system. So, my eagerness to help others was always there.
Overall, what were some of the downsides of being a video vixen and when/why did you decide to move on?
The downside of being a video vixen in today’s time is not like it was before. Video vixens get paid next to nothing compared to back in the day. If you’re not booked at least 3-4 times a month, there is no way that being a vixen is paying your bills and allowing you to live. It is more about the lifestyle that comes with being a vixen.
I decided to move on when I figured that out. I wanted more and I felt my purpose was more than just that. However, it was a great stepping stone but I knew eventually that I wanted to own and operate my own businesses and I now have the audience that I do because of where I come from. I had to learn how to build off my intellect and not my looks alone.
What is the biggest misconception about reality TV and how would you describe your experience on “Black Ink Crew: New York” as a whole?
The biggest misconception is that what you see someone being portrayed as on TV is not who they really are in person. Reality TV is a form of acting. My experience on Black Ink Crew: New York has been good. I really have no complaints outside of lack of privacy and how my “life” is not an open book when I am really low key and private.
A lot of women prefer their significant other to post about them publicly via social media, otherwise “they are hiding something.” As someone who has been in a relationship in the public eye, do you feel the same? Also, if you had a choice, would you change anything?
Honestly, it depends on what works for that couple. Social media is full of a lot of miserable souls who have a hard time being happy for others. Sometimes, I love when my boyfriend posts me and sometimes I hate it. At times, we both go a time period of not posting each other.
In the beginning, he did not post me and it took him a while to, lol. While my friends found that to be a big deal and it made them upset, it didn’t bother me because in real life we were living together (moved in together 2 months into dating), traveling, he became part of my kids life and we were happy off social media.
When he finally did post me, bad and good followed that. However, he promotes my businesses almost everyday. So, I am not pressed over social media. I need things handled in real life, lol.
Speaking of social media and being a public figure, explain your thought process on cosmetic surgery, the pressure to have it in the first place and it being an ongoing process. Also, how did it affect your health and self-esteem?
I am not against cosmetic surgery if it is done by a certified doctor and people research their aftercare. I do believe social media has increased the demand based on lifestyles and images that are being portrayed. I also know that women in certain fields of work are under the most pressure to alter their appearance since this is how they get paid and they are in competition with others.
People must understand that surgery is an ongoing process. For example, breast implants must be switched out every ten years but to me personally, it is time to swap mine out and it has been under 8 years. When I got my silicone injections in 2014, I went into a coma for three days and as the years progressed, it started to affect the different body parts and organs in my body. This prompted my breast implant removal in July of 2021.
I’ve always had good self-esteem. I was a medium skinned girl in the urban industry and no one was checking for my complexion and slim body type like they were the thick Spanish girls in New York at that time. Once I got my surgery, I was booked and busy even though I still faced discrimination based on my skin complexion, it was nothing compared to the way it was before the surgery. I did what I had to do to make my money and take care of my kids as a single parent with no help and it definitely boosted my self-esteem because it boosted my pockets and made life a little easier.
Let’s talk credit. Why does credit trump cash in a lot of cases?
Credit trumps cash because you have more purchasing over someone who uses cash. Also, certain purchases honor a credit card over cash and debit cards. Credit must be leveraged.
What are 4 credit hacks that we all should know?
• Keep your credit card utilization at least 25% of your card limit.
• You avoid being charged the APR rate when you end your statement with a 0 balance. (knowing when your cycle ends must be known to utilize this hack).
• The more you USE your credit the higher your score will be. Using your active credit cards once a month won’t cut it. You must use your card frequently, without passing 25% of your limit.
• Swipe for EVERYTHING. It takes about 2 days for the charge to post. Pay it off in about 3-5 days. The good thing about credit is that once you pay off it comes right back in about two days as an available balance and you will repeat the cycle. Doing thisallows you to use your card at least four times a month, end with a 0 balance and avoid that APR charge.
Jumping back to social media and its effects on human behavior, these days it is filled with people who overshare and over the last few years, people posting their credit scores has become a thing. What is your take on that?
I think it is a great way to motivate and educate others. I did the same thing about four years ago when my score was in the 500’s and I recorded the process of me getting my score to a 753. On a business level, it helps my business and brings more clients in. Credit is not taught in school so it is up to us to educate ourselves and others. People really get inspired by those types of posts. It beats the drama, lol.
What is your favorite book based on financial literacy and why?
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. It is a self-help book that really helped me tap into an entrepreneur mindset. It is about personal development, self-improvement and being more conscious and aware of living a certain type of way. Getting money, keeping money and being organized about where it is going will be easier to decipher once you read this book. There is a difference between rich and wealthy, settling and getting what you want. You have to convince yourself to become wealthy. It outlines the steps you need to take and the steps you need to avoid.
Tell us about your company, “A&N Realty/A&N Solutions.” Also, what made you decide to get licensed in Georgia over any other state?
The A&N in both my business name represent the initials of both my daughters, Asiza (pronounced Asia) and Niyah. One is for my real estate company while my other company Solutions is my financial literacy, credit consultant and now how I get paid through television (a key reason why when you start a business you want a universal name created under different reasons so you don’t have to create a new business every time you start something new….FREE GAME).
I also just launched CNS Tax Solutions since I am now a tax preparer and partnered with a CPA firm to provide credit tax and home buying options to everyone. I got licensed in GA because that is my place of residence so initially that should be the first place I get licensed; where I reside.
Real estate…….Why is rent so high?
MAAANNNNNN. High is not the word but you know what? Sellers have the advantage in today’s market. Property tax went up and what happens when that happens? Mortgage increases. Therefore, for a seller to really get some type of profit they have to raise the rent (for homes that are for rent). As far as condos and apartments, it is supply and demand. Georgia was one of the very few states who was functional during the COVID-19 pandemic so our population doubled and a doubled population means what? More money!
Break down some of the Do’s and Don’ts when attempting to buy a home.
• Strengthen your credit score as this helps with your interest rate and how much you will have to put down. Make sure you have no recent late, missed payments or derogatory items on your report.
• Hire a realtor to assist you with your search so they can negotiate on your behalf and get the best deal possible. You also need knowledge and guidance throughout the home buying process which a realtor will assist you with as well.
• Move to an area where there is high equity.
• Have a good amount of money saved up, not only for closing costs but for things that can go wrong once you close and are living in home.
• Get homeowner’s insurance.
• Don’t start the process on a tight budget. Things come up. For example, if you get an inspection done and it shows some things are wrong with the house, you will have to pay for the inspector to go back and make sure that your concerns were addressed and fixed. There are also bidding wars on these homes since we are in a seller’s market so it means there are a lot of buyers and not enough inventory. Therefore, you will have anywhere from 10-20 maybe more or less on one home thus resulting in a house that is listed for 300k (for example) being sold above asking price. This is a reason why it is important to have a good realtor on your side that will negotiate and win your offer. After closing on your home, you will need some funds set aside for immediate home repairs, upgrades and furnishings.
• Don’t settle. If you walk through a home and you don’t gasp for breath, that house is not it, lol.
• Don’t start the process blindly. Do your research; that includes the realtor you hire, the area you want to move in, etc.
• Explore mortgage options
What is your opinion on corporate companies purchasing up land and property in bulk?
From an investor’s/corporate point of view, it is a smart idea! Corporate homeownership can not only subject tenants to higher living costs but often destroys their ability to buy these homes themselves as companies pay top dollar to take them off the market. Unfortunately, as an agent, it sucks because these are who we are losing these bidding wars to the majority of the time.
Home buyers face increased competition from investors aka cash buyers. Cash buyers trump everyone followed by conventional then FHA then VA (not so good for a seller in a seller’s market.) Cash buyers trump because they can close in as soon as 15 days (some sooner) with no financing or appraisal contingency, cash to sellers at closing, sold as is.
I had a conversation not too long ago with a young lady who was talking about paying rent vs a mortgage. She asked why she doesn’t qualify for a mortgage but has to pay a much higher rent somewhere instead. Break that down for us.
When you are paying someone else’s mortgage (RENT; Landlord owns and is renting to you) they must get the mortgage paid as well as make a little profit. The space that someone is renting Is the landlord’s investment. Rent, even buying a home is determined by what the market is doing at the current time. If the market is thriving, rent will be high and vice versa. In Atlanta per se; I can only speak on the market I am currently in; population increase, more job production, etc. contributes to the rise in rent.
How do you feel about Andre Dickens recently becoming Atlanta Mayor over Felicia Moore and what do you think this means for Atlanta as a whole?
Honestly, Felicia (Moore) threatened the livelihood and income of many as well as nightclub entertainment, which is what Atlanta is known for. I think that hurt her. Overall, when it comes to politics I am more for seeing what happens in office opposed to empty promises. It’s politics. You must vote based on who you feel will lead the city in the right direction and hope when they get in office, they do just that.
Gentrification is happening all over the country but why do you think a city like Atlanta has become so heavily gentrified as well?
Atlanta is black Hollywood. People move to Atlanta for better opportunities. Coming from a city like NYC, Atlanta is more of an entrepreneur state, better weather than up north and during COVID did not face as many restrictions as other states. That has caused housing prices to go up over 15% in the past year. I remember rent prices in 2016 when I first moved to Georgia compared to what it is now.
When creating generational wealth, most people think of passing that wealth down to their offspring. Can also passing wealth up, sideways, etc. to parents, grandparents, siblings also be beneficial?
Generational wealth can be passed down to whom you please. Not everyone has children.
What are your thoughts on home equity?
Home equity is a great tool and financial advantage for a homebuyer because as someone’s home goes up in value, their equity goes up and you can pull out your equity at any time. Some let it sit and build, some may use it for their children’s college tours, remodeling home, paying for big expenses, etc.
Tell us something personal about yourself that most don’t know.
I am a homebody. I enjoy being home, I hate crowds and prefer business partners over friends. You’re blessed if you can experience both.
Follow Suzette Samuel on Instagram @Suzette_TheRealtor.
PHOTOS: AZU PHOTOGRAPHY
STYLIST: ZYAISHA JANE
HAIR: DESTINAE “DEZ” CLIFFORD
MAKEUP: MAKEUP BY BARBEE