The First One is the Hardest!

Doesn’t that always seem to be the truth with all things in life? Whether it be your first home, kid, heartbreak, business, investment property…the list goes on and on. Why is that?

Doesn’t that always seem to be the truth with all things in life? Whether it be your first home, kid, heartbreak, business, investment property…the list goes on and on. Why is that?

“The first step is always the hardest” (proverb) says that beginning a project is the hardest part; it gets easier once you have already started.

From my experience it is because you have to invent the wheel, work the kinks out as you go, try to stay motivated, and face a LOT of unknowns, all while not knowing if you will have to go it alone, or if you will have help along the way. It can feel like stepping off of a cliff and having faith that there is ground underneath that next step.

I feel like I talk a lot fear in my writing and day to day, but that is because there always will be those fears and doubts. I face them every single day! It is then up to me to decide if I take that next step anyway, sink or swim…

When I decided that we should move forward and purchase our first rental, I was BEYOND scared. First of all, I had to talk Jeremy into it. He was totally against it at first and didn’t want to have to deal with the possible headaches, expense and “aggravation” since we were already both busy with our careers already, an 8-year-old (my stepson Luke) and a 6-month-old (Jaxon) at that point in 2012. We already had my previous home rented out and that was enough for him.

At this point I was a realtor and considered an Independent Contractor, so basically my income was commission-only. For those that are not familiar with how that works, when we sell a house we get our portion of the commission, and no taxes are taken out. We get our check and then we are supposed to be smart and set aside some for taxes and live off of the rest. That sounds great, but that also means that you do not have the opportunity for a 401(k) or a typical retirement plan for when you get older and want to collect and not work quite so hard. Since I had no future retirement fund or actual goal, my goal was use equity in any investment properties to upsize and eventually sell them someday to put money into the bank, or build a new house or whatever.

For those of you who know me or my stories, you know that I don’t take NO for an answer and that I am not afraid to do some persuading. This was one of those times. I always tell people that if I had taken the first “no” from Jeremy, I would have never gotten into rentals, had my son Jefferson, gotten chickens or a pool, and the list goes on… so, I didn’t settle for a “no” this time either (it makes me laugh typing this because I tell him this all the time).

I told him my top reasons for why I thought we should buy it. The main ones were: 

  1. I did not have a retirement plan and someday, when this was bought and paid for, whatever the value is, we could sell it for and get all of the money.
  2. If it was completely paid for, with a little work monthly, it would be straight monthly income to add to whatever else we had.
  3. There are a ton of tax advantages with owning real estate investments like depreciation and tax write-offs, just to name a couple, and I know that no one wants to pay more taxes than they have to (always consult with a tax professional to see yours). 
  4. The icing on the cake for me, as scary as it was to think of going into debt and fearing I could not find a tenant, was that the price point was low and affordable if God forbid, I couldn’t find a tenant.
  5. I could ask for a seller’s assist to pay our closing costs if we bought it.

After a lot of persuading, he was in! He was scared to death, but he was on board. Between you and I, as you get into owning rentals and vacation rentals, the fear of buying the first one is much worse than any after, especially as you gain confidence in how it all works, and keeping them full with income flowing in.

We were able to reap all of the rewards of owning a traditional rental, from tax write offs, tenants paying down our mortgage while gaining equity, and appreciation as the value went up over time. So that $120,000 house would eventually be paid for it we kept it for the long haul with whatever rent we had coming in to be straight income, eventually. And then we could sell it and use that money for whatever we would choose to. That isn’t what we ended doing and for those that have read my book Vacation Rentals: The Ultimate Guide, you know part of this story and have figured out that I am talking about our Central Avenue home, which was featured in my book, both Chapters 9 & Chapter 11. 

I highlight this part of the story in hopes that My Resources allow you to ease MOST of those fears when it comes to investing in real estate and vacation rentals. Whether it be my VRA coursemy book or coaching, let me ease your mind and show you that the ground is there, when you take that next first step!!!

This story doesn’t end here. This definitely is a “To Be Continued…” stayed tuned for the rest of the story and pictures, from house fire to public humiliation and then ultimately being able to reflect on the big picture and see why things worked out the way they did and why we have transitioned most into vacation rentals or sold our traditional rentals. It has all offered so much equity, experience and abundance for our family and we are so grateful that we took that first step. And ***side note, Jeremy is a LOT easier to convince now!

Here is our first rental, 65 Central Ave, Wellsboro. Please stay tuned for the “rest of the story”.  And make sure you sign up below to connect and be in the “know”.

Chris

P.S. Follow me on Instagram @christinavandergrift  or on your other favorite social media apps! 

There is Never a “Right” Time

Life happens and is always happening…we can make excuses for why it isn’t the “right” time or we can just lean in and figure it out.

Boy isn’t that the truth! Life happens and is always happening…we can make excuses for why it isn’t the “right” time or we can just lean in and figure it out. One of my favorite authors, Grant Cardone, says it best “Commit and figure it out later.” I have been doing that my entire life, and learned it from my mom, but didn’t realize that it was a thing – and a rare thing at that.

So many of us are afraid to fail, of being disappointed or embarrassed if it doesn’t work out, or for loss – money, time, effort. But what if it doesn’t fail and actually works! Imagine how different life would be! And it would help build confidence to try more and grow more.  I don’t think there is such a thing as failure unless something shady was done along the way. If you were honest and had integrity and put your heart and soul into anything, even if it doesn’t turn out how you would like for it to, you still learn along the way and can use that experience to problem solve in the future.

I can think back to so many times in my life when I had an opportunity to dive in and take a chance, whether it be on a property, a business or even a relationship and yes, for a split second I would have my doubts about the timing of it. If it felt right in my gut, I was always a definite yes to whatever it was. That yes may take days of digesting, but it would always come. Pit in your stomach = bad. Butterflies = good.

One prime example is a quick excerpt from my book “Vacation Rentals: The Ultimate Guide” and it was when we had the opportunity to purchase the chalet property. Jeremy had recently lost his job, we had recently had a house fire at one of our rentals, we were elbows deep into the planning and construction of our car wash and didn’t know where we would come up with the money to purchase it from. Needless to say, we were extremely scared about the future and all the chances and risks we were facing and taking on, but there is always a way to figure it out, if you want it bad enough, and that is what I do best!

Later in the week he let me know that he could have his brother, who still lived nearby, open it up for us. He also said that he and his wife were thinking of selling it for $275,000. So, if I got Jeremy on board and we were able to secure financing, I would need to come up with $55,000 plus closing costs, worst case scenario (unless I could get it for less). Where the heck was I going to get that from!? At that point my husband’s position as Construction Superintendent at a gas company had been eliminated a couple months before, we had just had a house fire at one of our rentals from the tenant’s trash catching on fire, and we were about to break ground on building a brand-new car wash – all while somehow living off of my income indefinitely. We had traditional home rentals and the Florida vacation rental, but we were not living high on the hog off of the investments. What I do best, however, is knowing how to work hard, think out of the box, and get out of my comfort zone to make things happen, as long as whatever it takes is legal of course ;).’

So, we did, we figured it out! And thank God we did, because you would not be reading this right now if we hadn’t. We trimmed the fat off our finances, worked around the clock, and got creative with coming up with the money. We could have easily said – “This isn’t the right time.” THERE IS NEVER A RIGHT TIME.  That property has been such a blessing to us financially, its been an education, and has opened hundreds of doors in our lives that would have never been opened if we hadn’t.

I hope that this blog post helps you both personally and professionally. It translates across all avenues in life. I talked about fear in a recent podcast episode with Rachel Jenks on the Brand Boss Show. We are more afraid of the feeling of fear itself, than actually doing whatever it may be. What is the worst that could happen? Most of the time it’s all in our heads and that can hold us back from some pretty amazing moments and chapters of our lives.

I would love to connect with you below or on social!

Chris

If They Can Do It, Why Can’t I?

Have you ever wanted to try to do something or emulate someone’s successes so that you could be successful like them, but didn’t know where to start? You dreamt up a wild, crazy idea or dream, only to get excited for a moment and then overwhelm yourself with the idea and how it may not work out. Then the fear of the “why you shouldn’t” and the uncomfortable possible outcomes flood in, and make you not do anything a moment longer…

I have been there many times throughout my life. Sometimes at the most random moments or while traveling, sometimes during work and maybe even during adversity.

Sometimes, however, this thought or dream is planted in the back of your mind and again at random times, you get reminders of it or see signs of things that make you think, “Maybe I should think about that again or try it to see where it goes.”

When these thoughts come back, that is when I tend to have the self-talk, a lot of prayer asking for wisdom and favor, and normally ask myself: “What is the worst that could happen, if I just try? If they can do it, why can’t I?”

Then, I write down the goal. Writing it down somehow makes it seem more real and less scary. I think of and write down the first few steps that it would take to get to that goal. I try not to get overwhelmed by the end result, but only focus on the first 2 steps of whatever it might be.

I had one of these moments last year, around the time of the shutdown. The world had literally shut down and I felt helpless and lacking. I was supposed to be the leader at my businesses, the teacher then to my kids, and a wife to my husband. There was so much unknown all around me, but deep down I had faith it would all work out and that we would get through it. I wasn’t sure how, or what was ahead, but I had to find some type of control in my world, a healthy outlet to get through it.

That is when I got my sign of what I needed to do… I had recently read a book that encouraged me to tell my story and write my own book so that I could help others with their lives, with my knowledge and life experience. I had never thought in my life that I would write a book, or even have the time to do it, but apparently – it was time! And why not, what did I actually have to lose – if someone else can do it, why can’t I? The book idea I had was teaching people how to buy, create and operate vacation rentals.

When I first learned about vacation rentals, I had been in real estate in a variety of roles already, from Broker/Owner of a real estate company, to landlord, entrepreneur, etc. I had one of those “moments” that planted the seed several years ago, that intrigued me about trying something new and getting into a new adventure of owning vacation rentals.

With a husband, three sons, and several businesses, there was little time to travel – let alone have a vacation home someplace to regularly visit. By chance, I had a conversation with a local gentleman that had purchased a vacation home in Florida that was much more expensive to maintain and own than originally planned. He explained to me that he had decided to have a property manager rent it out as a vacation rental so that he not only had a free vacation home, but also had basically a free place to visit and stay at that others were paying for and maintaining for him while he wasn’t there. (Insert lightbulb moment here for me – If he can do it, why can’t I?!)

Fast forward through a huge learning curve, highs and lows (and when I say lows, I mean lows)… I used it all to help educate and inspire others to step out of their comfort zone and take chances. Additionally, I explained tons of other benefits of real estate investing, even with little to no money down and one being an additional income stream.

My book is called Vacation Rentals: The Ultimate Guide, and although it appears to be a manual of how to buy, operate and grow vacation rentals, behind the cover it is so much more!

My common threads throughout the book are:

  1. Setbacks are ok, keep going;
  2. Bumps in the road do not mean you should turn around;
  3. Life is what you make it, so make it happen! And above all:
  4. Do everything in excellence!
  5. It doesn’t matter who you are or your pedigree, you can make a name for yourself with hard work, consistency and goals.

I have included an excerpt from my book and hope that it inspires you to dream big, set the goal, make a plan and have faith that you can find the right teachers and knowledge along the way to make it happen!

Conclusion (Vacation Rentals: The Ultimate Guide)

Ever since I went down the path of owning my own vacation rentals, I felt like I became a conduit of information and realized that it sparked so many questions and curiosity. Ultimately that is what made me realize I wanted to teach and empower others to do the same.

It is such a rewarding and profitable industry, and I know that with the right tools, you can do it too. I hope that I have helped you and allowed you to think out of the box for your future and next steps. Whether you currently have rentals that you can upsize or convert, you have a down payment to buy an existing one or create one, or maybe you want to buy one with “No Money Down” – you can, and the sky’s the limit!!! I cannot stress this enough. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Write down the goal, plan on the steps, then put in the work… anything is possible!

Short-term sacrifices lead to long-term rewards; consistency is key. I can remember being 17 years old and having to get up at 5:00am to go to my waitress job thinking, “Why the heck am I not like most other kids my age and not just sleeping in!?” But that thought would only last for a second and I would make myself get up and go. The same thing has happened many times in my adult life. I remind people regularly, including my kids, that these short-term sacrifices pay off big time – if you are consistent.

Maybe you can’t jump all in to the industry right now because of financial reasons – just start small, and don’t give up. If you’re hesitant because of nervousness or not wanting to take a chance, just visualize yourself doing it and what the outcomes could be. You may realize – how can I not do it!?

Like I said at the beginning, life is what you make it, so let’s make it happen!

Chris