Real Estate Investing Basics

From Woman to Woman: There’s No Reason to Be Intimidated by Real Estate Investing [Interview With Ashley Kehr]

Expertise: Flipping Houses, Landlording & Rental Properties, Personal Development, Real Estate Investing Basics
44 Articles Written

At times, real estate investing can seem like a male-dominated field. We're often asked at BiggerPockets why there aren't more women who are doing this.

On episode 348 of the BiggerPockets Podcast, I asked investor Ashley Kehr what her experience has been like as a woman in the industry. Is it extra challenging? Or are there some benefits to it?

What It’s Like to Be a Female Real Estate Investor

I asked Ashley how she’s navigated the industry and what advice she has for other women who want to get started. Here’s what she said.

I actually have a good story for that. When I had driven by this commercial property one time, there was just a commercial sign out front for it: “For Sale.” I called. It looked like residential units upstairs.

It was a Realtor, and he said that his father owned the property and actually had more properties for sale. If I’d be interested meeting him in the area, he’d show me all the properties.

That right there was great; I was really excited.

So, I get to the property, and I get out of the car. He’s standing there, and we shake hands and stuff. And he’s just standing there, and I’m like, “OK, can we go in?”

He’s like, “Well, is your husband getting out of the car?”

He just assumed this is my husband’s deal and he was a part of it.

I was like, “No, it’s just me. I’m the one interested in buying it.”

I’ve actually ended up buying about 12 units from his dad from that deal, so we’ve become good friends because of it. And the six I have under contract now are from the same guy! But it’s just really funny that he assumed that my husband would be a part of it.

Related: How I Learned to “Have It All” as a Working Mom (Hint: I Ditched My 9-5)

Ashley went on to describe why investing in real estate shouldn’t be intimidating—for anyone.

I think it’s very easy to do because you don’t need to do the maintenance. There are people out there that will do the maintenance for you. And I feel like that’s why a lot of people don’t want to do it. They’re like, “I don’t know anything about the construction of a house. I don’t know how to repair things well.”

But I have no idea either. My 21-year-old sister did a better job doing her home maintenance and updating her property than I ever could. But I can hire all that stuff out. And as long as your numbers are good, you can make that work.

I probably have had my husband go to a property one time in the last five years to do a repair for me. He is very hands-off from it. I don’t recommend NOT having your husband on board and doing it—my husband’s very supportive and loves talking to me about it—but I honestly don’t think he knows where any of my properties even are.

So, it’s just an interesting perspective. You don’t need to have a man to do that maintenance.

Aerial view of a green leafy suburb

Next, I asked Ashley about the advantages that a woman might have in the industry that may be overlooked.

Well, sometimes I can use the excuse, “Oh, you know what, I need to talk to my husband.”

If I don’t feel comfortable giving an answer right then and there, it’s a perfectly believable excuse. Anyone is just like, “Oh, yeah definitely. OK, you don’t need to answer now.”

I told Ashley that Brandon and I use an imaginary partner in the same way: “Oh, I gotta go run this by my ‘partner.'”

Related: 4 Steps to Take the Leap of Faith & Start Investing Now

Brandon chimed in next, asking Ashley, “What’s been your biggest challenge so far in real estate investing?”

I think a lot of it was at first money—that is until I got that mortgage line of credit. But then after that, I'd say tenant relations. If you're going to manage your own property, you really need to be understanding and you need to learn how to deal with your tenants, because it can break you. And that honestly has been the hardest thing for me.

Even at my job [as a property manager], I've grown so much from the day I started to now with handling tenants. You know, just knowing what they expect, what I expect, and how to draw a fine line between us and not give into anything and still be compassionate about their situation.

Ashley started investing in 2014. Reflecting on the past five years, we asked her to share a memory related to investing that still makes her smile today.

I paid off my husband’s truck with my rental property income—and I just loved that, the day I clicked that button and submitted that final payment. Because he has always supported me forever, and it was just so nice to be able to do one thing for him.

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I work so hard, and I’m gone a lot. I’ve been traveling to conferences lately. So, it was about a year ago that I was able to do that for him. And since then, I’ve actually paid off his farm equipment. I have one more—a skid-steer—to pay off for him.

But it’s just great showing that all this time I’ve wasted on real estate actually hasn’t been a waste. I’ve been able to provide for our family and get his farm paid off, so that really has been worth all of it.

The entire episode of the BiggerPockets Podcast featuring Ashley Kehr is available at BiggerPockets.com/show348.

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Do you agree with Ashley’s advice about why real estate investing shouldn’t be intimidating for anyone—male or female? 

Weigh in with a comment below.

David Greene is a former police officer with over nine years of experience investing in real estate that includes single family, multifamily, and house flipping. David has bought, rehabbed, and man...
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    Wenda Kennedy JD from Nikiski, Alaska
    Replied 11 months ago
    I'm a woman and I've been in the real estate business for 43 years -- since 1976. My husband retired from his career about the time we married -- and he is now the foreman of my maintenance "crew". But I still do all of the manage and planning as the company's owner and project manager. I work very well with the men. They are deeply respectful of me and my knowledge of the business. I know how to listen to the people around me and how to make hard decisions when I must. My background as a wife, mother and grandmother has been good training for managing properties and a bunch of tenants. And vise-versa. Being a woman can be a great asset.
    Jessa Claeys Managing Editor from Denver, CO
    Replied 11 months ago
    This is fantastic! You ladies are so inspirational. :)
    Danni Catambay
    Replied 11 months ago
    I've found that, as a woman, the hardest thing to deal with is the attitude that men are the default. When I attend presentations at my local REIA, there are these older white men who talk like they're still in a boys' club, making jokes about having to convince your wife to let you invest or about having the balls to close a particular deal...Of course, none of this is unique to real estate and I've had to put up with it my whole life, but it does get tiresome after a while. You wish you could just skip all the bullsh*t manbonding and just get to business... Of course, the other side of that is as an investor, I'm my own boss. I don't have to worry about being looked over because I know my analysis is good and I know my offers are solid. And when you work with an agent you get an additional layer of (gender) anonymity that sort of evens the playing field. Investing, in that sense, is quite liberating from the more mundane means of discrimination that we face every inescapable day.
    Sarah Cobey from Chicago, IL
    Replied 11 months ago
    Wow... the title of the post, and some of the lines I hear on BiggerPockets podcasts (including this particular episode), have a stunningly regressive quality to them--and that's a euphemism! My jaw almost hit the floor when the guest said on the podcast that she wasn't a feminist, and the hosts didn't express any surprise or dissent. The example she gives to demonstrate her advantages as a woman (the "I have to check with my husband" excuse) is a freaking parody. I've probably listened to scores of BP episodes by now, and I can't remember a time when male guests have been asked what it's like having unearned advantages, what they do to promote diversity or equality (and confront injustice head on, as the hosts regularly fail to), etc. But here we get tips from a "female real estate investor" on how other women can "not feel intimidated". Do they actually feel intimidated? That's a genuine question: the idea that women avoid male-dominated fields because they are intimidated is something of a debunked, antiquated stereotype. Perhaps their low participation arises more from systematic exclusion, which is what happens in math, engineering, and science. They're smart, they hustle, and they just don't get the same opportunities. It gets tiring. But even if there is some intimidation happening, is this a problem the women should devote additional resources to try to solve for one another? Those with greater influence have a greater moral and social responsibility. Can we see an episode by men for men on how not to be a jerk, and an analogous episode on race, and one on how investors can avoid exploiting unjust tax breaks and misaligned subsidies? The list goes on. Wise up and do the right thing, BP.
    Georgi Gregori Realtor from Minneapolis, MN
    Replied 11 months ago
    This is a great point. Thanks so much for sharing. I listen to Bigger Pockets and use this website as a resource because there is a huge wealth of knowledge to be learned. But the deeper I've gone into the podcast the more of those underlying messages surrounding women as being different from men come across as increasingly ignorant. Thank you for making the point (through asking the question) that the lack of women in this field (or many others, including any upper level management positions across many fields) could be and likely is the result of systematic exclusion and bias. I'd love to have a resource for real estate investing created by women (and feminist men) who can look beyond outdated gender stereotypes and approach this career with more of a progressive viewpoint. For now, I value these kinds of discussions to help bring to light what may be wrong in this kind of post.
    Ashley Wilson Rental Property Investor from Radnor, PA
    Replied 11 months ago
    Ashley is a badash! I am of opposite opinion with respect to involving your husband; my husband and I both work in the business together, but I manage construction, and he is more into the analysis. Whenever we meet anyone that knows we work together, they automatically start talking construction to my husband, which he immediately replies, "Talk to her, I don't know anything to do with that, but she does". Without fail, everyone's reaction is the same...they are shocked. Hopefully, with more and more women getting into all aspects of real estate this will change, and Ashley is one of those pioneers!
    Michelle Zievert
    Replied 6 months ago
    Agree, Ashley!
    Alfred Johnson from Rocky Mount, NC
    Replied 11 months ago
    I'm not a woman but I feel sensitive about women's issues and the fact that women are viewed differently in this country. My wife is fantastic and has not had the opportunity to truly self actualize. She went from being in her mom's house to building a life with me in our house. She didn't go to the military as she had planned or become a forest ranger right out of high school. So I feel like since she hitched her wagon to my star, I'd like to show her more in this life via Real Estate Investing. It would be great to see her trying out her potential other than being a great wife, phenomenal mother, and life long BFF. So I'm slowly bringing her on board as I'm taking us into wholesaling to produce lump sums before going after passive income. Wish us luck and thank you for such an inspiring article.
    John Murray from Portland, Oregon
    Replied 8 months ago
    Something does not add up here. Ashley's husband is a farmer and totally incompetent when it comes to running a business. All the farmers that I ever knew are great electo-mechanics that really are great entrepreneurs. This woman here me roar stuff gets old on BP. Believe it or not ladies men are actually the soldiers, builders and farmers of the world. No matter how hard you fabricate stories of men incompetence, the facts in history point to a different outcome. Oh fact is women is that women actually rule in one aspect, consumer spending. I think those figures are pretty high.