A Boone-ing Business: Oceanview Real Estate Wonder Woman Judy Boone

Ocean View Real Estate Wonder Woman Bought Her First House At 18

Judy Boone appears to have the Midas touch, but she’s also well known for being quick to share her good fortune with others. Because she “wanted to be able to retire when she got to be an old person” (at that point her definition of “old” was 55) she bought her first home at the age of 18. She and her husband, Ronald, the first man she ever dated, then continued to use their paychecks, income tax returns and work bonuses to buy and maintain rental and investment properties. By the time she was 24, she and her husband had collectively amassed more than 60 properties.

Today, Judy Boone Realty employs more than 30 Realtors®, with sales, rentals and property management divisions, a large support staff, a maintenance crew and a mortgage finance company. Judy and her husband also own a development company, Boone Builders, several waterfront restaurants, the Ocean View Fishing Pier and the 100-passenger Judith Ann headboat that provides siteseeing and fishing charters on the Chesapeake Bay. Because of her efforts in real estate and community service, Judy has been showered with a number of awards. In 1993, Cox Cable TV presented her with the “Great Citizen of Hampton Roads” award, and the readers of the The Virginian-Pilot have voted Judy Boone Realty Norfolk’s best every year since 1996. In 2006 Judy received the “Lifetime Achievement” award from the Hampton Roads Realtor Association for “changing the face of the community.” Judy also received the Virginia Chamber of Commerce 2006 “Fantastic 50” Top Service Award for her firm’s contributions to Virginia’s economic vitality.

Hampton Roads Magazine: Have you lived in Hampton Roads all your life?
Judy Boone: No, I was born in Japan. But I’m a Navy brat, and I’ve been here since I was 5. My dad was a chief petty officer, and he ended up retiring here.

HRM: Would you say your success is based more on smart decisions, hard work or luck?
JB: When my husband and I started, we had no idea what we were doing. But we took care of the properties we bought and that attracted a lot of other people to us. I had one guy come ring our doorbell and say, “Do you want to buy my apartment building? I want to retire and move to Florida.” When I decided to get my
real estate license in 1978, I said to my husband, “Why don’t you start building houses and help me with my business.” He said he didn’t know anything about building houses so I said, “There’s a lot on Mildred Avenue. Pay a man to build one house, watch him, and he can train you to build the next house.” It could have been disastrous, but we didn’t know  any better. It just all worked out well.

HRM: You dug your heels in when everyone else was leaving the Ocean View area of Norfolk? Why?
JB: Most of the people who left Ocean View were looking for new construction and they wanted to be near good schools that their kids could walk to, so they moved to Virginia Beach and Chesapeake. I thought if we left, we’d just be part of the problem.

HRM: When you opened Judy Boone Realty in 1989, it was a big surprise.
JB: I kept it a secret out of the respect for the man I worked with for 12 years at Virginia Realty. I didn’t put the sign out until the night before we officially launched, so we thought we’d only get a couple hundred people at the grand opening, but we ended up with 2,100 people. I thought I had really done something, but I think it was the Rhondels playing in the parking lot and the beer truck that attracted everyone. Really though, that first day I had something like $2 million in listings, which was pretty good considering the average sale price for a home was around $65,000.

HRM: With the real estate agency, all of your other business, your charity work, your community work and all of the boards you sit on, what do you do with any spare time?
JB: I’m very close with my agents, my staffs and the public, but I do have a private side, and I treasure those moments. My real joy is my grandkids—I have a 4-year-old grandson and a 16-month-old granddaughter. They call me grandma JuJu. They are my heartthrobs.

HRM: Why is Hampton Roads so special to you?
JB: This is a metropolitan area that’s kind of like laid-back New York but not as laid back as down south. There’s so much to do and see in Hampton Roads, and because we have the military, we’re blessed to have so many different people from so many different areas around the U.S. and other countries, and I think that makes things more interesting. We’ve got such a rich history here. And we’ve got the beaches and the mountains not too far away—we’ve got it all. They say Virginia is for lovers and I can tell you that I love Virginia, and I especially love Hampton Roads. We’ve got paradise in our own back yard. We truly do.