The BEST Investment I Ever Made

Why I love Real Estate and what it can turn into…

Why I love real estate and what it can turn into…

I decided when I was 22 that it was time to have a place of my own. Not a rental, because I didn’t want to make someone else equity, but my own that I bought. I had been selling real estate as an agent for 2 years and had rented for a while in another life (my singing days with my sister in Nashville), and realized during that short interim that I didn’t like spending money on rent and having nothing to show for it, making someone else rich.

I also had been exposed early on to those that invested in real estate early and often, that were very well off, not having to live paycheck to paycheck, and those that didn’t. My family never had any real estate investments, just the homes that they had lived in.

I saw the lifestyles, wealth and freedom that came with owning real estate, whether it be single family homes, commercial buildings, or vacation rentals and knew that I wanted to be like those folks. The ones that were able to take their kids on vacation and had money in the bank and didn’t have to kill themselves till they were old and had no life left to live.

So, I started searching and found my first house. It was a 2200 sqft fixer upper Victorian in Wellsboro on Pearl St. The asking price was $79,000 and when I walked in, I was giddy and scared, but could feel it speak to me. It smelled like old cigarettes and cat-pee-saturated carpets and had old windows, doors, and crooked floors. I didn’t know if I could afford it, but I knew that I was willing to put in the work to try. Out of respect, I asked my dad to go through it on a second showing with me. I was hoping for his blessing, but instead got – “You are an idiot if you buy this place. It’s a dump! You aren’t handy and are crazy if you do it.”   I was extremely disappointed but decided that for the first time in my adult life that I was going to grow a pair and do it anyway! So I did…..

I ended up paying $68,500 for it. I had to put 3.5% down for a 5-year fixed loan. I was only 22 and made good money selling real estate but was still limited on what kind of loans I could get because of my age and basically being self-employed as a realtor. I picked 3/17/08 (St Patrick’s Day) for my closing date and was so excited that I totally forgot to buy pillows or be at-all prepared for staying there my first night. It did come with a loveseat and a couple used old beds, so that’s where I slept…happy as I could be, feeling free! I bought myself a bottle of wine, listened to Irish music and took a bath in my very own claw foot tub. LIFE WAS PERFECT!

Sounds great right!? Fast forward to the following winter, when my gas bills were more expensive than my mortgage and the furnace and radiators didn’t work very well. I kept it 58-degrees in there because I couldn’t afford to have it warmer…it was so cold in there, that I didn’t even have mice! There were many bumps along the way and there were days that I regretted buying it, but my gut told me that eventually it would be worth it.

I was in my early 20’s, working my tail off selling real estate 7 days a week, waitressing a few nights a week, and putting every extra penny that I had into that house. I ripped out the gross old carpet and did the hardwood floors, fixed the driveway, had the doors and windows replaced, redid the kitchen and laundry areas and so much more. My peers were still in college, racking up debt and partying, while I was working and building equity. Like I say in my book Vacation Rentals: The Ultimate Guide – “Short-term sacrifices lead to long-term rewards.”

I learned that ripping and tearing in an old house was very therapeutic for a single young woman, trying to find herself. My house made me happy and angry and gave me projects to take aggression out on when I had guy problems and lean into when I was sad and lonely. It was my safe haven. It was the best investment I have ever made, even though I had no support system to do it – just myself and my work ethic.

Let’s fast forward to me selling it for a better home in the country. I owned my Pearl St house for 3 years and sold it for $119,000. I had roughly $42,000 left over from my equity after closing costs and rolled it directly into my new house. The purchase price for that home was $165,000, so I went into that with instant equity, from my own blood, sweat, risk taking and tears. I had literally gained over $50,000 in equity in just 3 years, as a young 20 something woman!!! The one who went against her dad’s negative reasoning and figured it out anyway.

Let’s fast forward again…I met Jeremy, our relationship went fast (very fast), and we got married and I decided to keep my newest home as a rental. It was a possible backup plan, that I thankfully didn’t have to use. My equity grew and grew and all I had to do was manage it and keep a tenant in it. We kept this home for several years and had a couple reach out about buying it.

By then we had $60,000 in equity and decided to do a 1031 exchange (so we didn’t have to pay capital gains) and use it as two – $30,000 down payments on two rentals back in town. (So as a quick recap – first down payment was around $3000, which then became $42,000 in equity, which then grew to $60,000 in equity as other people paid my mortgage down. And that original $3000 down payment had turned into not just one, but two homes with other people paying for them).

That equity has since grown into hundreds of thousands of dollars – all from time, consistency, taking risks and a little elbow grease.

So why not you? What short-term sacrifices can you make that will turn into long-term rewards and abundance? Are you new to the real estate world? Or who can you inspire or educate, who’s entire trajectory of life could change?

Please save this post and share with that person! I hope that this has inspired you to take chances, invest in real estate and take the time to educate yourself a little more to bring more abundance to your life. These stories are a small glimpse into our real estate world and portfolio, and I have faith that you can do it too! You just need to start! My book is a great place to start, or my course. It will give you all those tools and then some.

Chris

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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