Real (estate) talk: You don’t know what you don’t know. It’s easy in today’s social media age to find common connections between friends and even degrees of separation to someone famous. Why wouldn’t it be the same for sharing a business venture or passion of yours?
When I began my real estate journey I was a little intimidated, but mostly excited with my newfound empowerment. I had so many thoughts and ideas that I began blogging about it and sharing posts on other media outlets. Soon, I had questions and connections coming to me from friends, friends of friends, podcast hosts, and more. Some had a mutual interest and/or experience in real estate, some were curious about getting started, and some were a little cynical with my approach (which I fully accepted and appreciated).
Here’s the thing: Investing in real estate is business. Talking about it can be beneficial in multiple ways.
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Real estate has refined my business acumen in many disciplines, such as customer/supplier/stakeholder relations, marketing and advertising, negotiation, and backbone. If you think you’re already good on backbone, I came from a Midwestern Italian family and still learned a lot. Either way, my fervor for real estate greatly increased my business growth and opportunities.
Customer, Supplier, and Stakeholder Relations
I learned how to be extremely clear with my expectations when it came to property management, tenants, and contractors. Part of the learning process was what I wanted to be clear about (communication frequency and avenues, etc.).
When a tenant calls for a repair and I can’t physically be there, it’s usually smart for the contractor to call you first before they start working. I once ran into a $200 repair bill with no actual repairs because the tenant requested unauthorized repairs. What I mean by this is that the electrician listened to the tenant instead of me and performed things I could have either done myself or hired someone else to do for much cheaper. Now contractors know to call me before they start any work. It cuts down on confusion and oftentimes repair costs.
Additionally, it’s good to know how to keep your costs down. Let’s say a shower needs remodeling due to a leak behind the wall. That can be upward of $2,000 to re-tile the bathroom. Well, I’d rather do plastic inserts around the tub for a fraction of the cost. There are often alternate solutions that won’t cost as much. If you ask your contractors to brainstorm with you, you’ll be surprised what options are out there. In a growing age of technology, it has been great to be able to handle tenant rent payments, leases, and work orders through low cost or even free rent payment sites.
It’s also great to sit down with your tenants and explain what to expect if they need to place a work order. Water pipe issues/leaks? HOA. Emergency contacts? Here’s the list. Need something from me? Call or email me here and I’ll have something scheduled within 24 hours. Going out of town (or in my case, often the country)? Email all your tenants and your real estate team to let them know how to reach you. My A-team contractor has an emergency line for calls needing immediate attention, so I always ask if it’s OK that I give tenants his number when traveling. While I was abroad once, a tenant emailed about a broken washer. One forwarded email later, and my contractor was taking care of it while I was gone. It was perfect and easy. Managing expectations is the first obstacle in preventing disappointments and unhappy tenants.
Marketing and Advertising
It’s incredible what you can learn from others — and honestly, from yourself — when you’re trying to advertise a rental. Many times I note what my first impressions are of the place. If I’m impressed by the amenities, parking, fenced in yard, safe neighborhood, or nearby transportation, it goes into the ad. Anywhere I look for rentals is where I choose to put my ads, and I keep all photos of the property with permission from whoever owns the photos. I also add top-notch customer service and immediate response to repair orders as well. It’s surprising how far peace of mind goes for a tenant who has confidence in their landlord.
Dare I say it? This is my favorite part of real estate. I love negotiating and have refined this skill a great bit with each and every deal, each and every contractor, each and every analysis and more. The BiggerPockets Podcast has an insane amount of creative solutions to counteroffers and more.
How can you get to a yes? What is the best alternative that can work for both you and the seller? What if you can’t get there? Well, that’s the greatest part about this. It’s OK to walk away. Some people get that same deal later, and some find an even bigger and better deal (like me after I said no on my first short sale counteroffer!).
There are a few times I’ve put my foot down on something. We had tenants with two large dogs, and unfortunately a deep general clean and specialized pet carpet cleaning didn’t do the job in removing the pet smell when they moved out. We had get something called an Odor Bomb for the HVAC unit to get rid of the smell. Luckily, that sounds a lot worse than it actually is — it was $50 extra, but it came out of the tenant’s security deposit, and they weren’t exactly happy about that. It’s easy to try to simply waive something like that, but it can be a slippery slope if you’re waiving charge after charge.
The same happened when we had great tenants in general, but their downstairs neighbors were being a nuisance. Eventually, we had to work with their landlord to fix the issue, and I wasn’t getting anywhere by being polite. The backbone came in, and I had to threaten to file a report on the ordinances their tenants were violating, and the situation worked itself out quickly.
Having a backbone doesn’t always mean putting your foot down, but rather saying “no” to advice from someone in the field. Property #4 came that way. My agent discouraged me from purchasing it because it was a garden level unit. She also said I’d have a hard time finding tenants. Something about that advice didn’t resonate with me. I purchased it, rented it for more than she thought the market was (she was way off), and have never had a problem renting it since. I did a light rehab, and now it’s my best cash flowing asset.
After my very first investment purchase, I introduced myself to the neighbors and gave them contact information if they needed anything and also mentioned I was looking for more properties. This led to soon-to-be property #3’s owner contacting me ready to sell. That was an easy off-market deal directly resulting from my outspoken real estate interest. Property #7 had a similar story — it was a duplex that came from my social media commentary on real estate. A high school acquaintance told me her husband was in real estate, and wouldn’t you know it? His property matched up perfectly. A month later — and almost exactly a year after I started my real estate journey — I had my first duplex.
Not only that, but my passion in real estate got me a podcast interview on BiggerPockets, which opened up to other interviews here and there about my journey through real estate (and this awesome blogging gig). I’ve received partnership offers and have been able to take advantage of a good few opportunities. In the future, I plan to use my connections to 1031 exchange with others who have like-properties to continue depreciation benefits. I have another podcast interview this coming week on a show that once interviewed Robert Kiyosaki. Kinda cool!
My personal experience in speaking brought forth plenty of adventure and catapulted my journey to financial freedom. Get out there and see what talking about it does for you!
What opportunities have you found lately as a result of talking about real estate?
Let me know with a comment!