Life should be win-win for everyone. In business, all parties should come away from the deal feeling that they made the right choices.
In this article, we continue our Women to Watch series, featuring seven standout female real estate investors to watch in 2019. Read the full intro here.
How did you get started investing in real estate?
I got started in real estate by mistake. When my husband and I bought our first home, he wanted to buy a house that didn’t need updating. I wanted to buy the ugliest one on the block so I could remodel in the styles I loved. We ended up buying a fixer-upper and lived in it as we rehabbed. Then my husband took a job in a different city, so we had to sell it quickly. We doubled our money in less than two years, and I was hooked. From then on, I’ve been in the real estate world in some fashion.
What are the top two characteristics you exhibit that have made you a successful investor?
Grit and acceptance. The TV shows make our industry look easy and fun. They rarely show the challenges it can bring. In real estate, you can’t give up. You need grit, which is determination in over-drive. I often tell new investors that you don’t know what you don’t know until you find out you didn’t know it. And in our business, that can be a very costly learning experience. You have to have the grit to work through the challenges so you can get to the end of the project. And you have to have acceptance in your mindset. Not all of your choices are going to work the way you planned. So, you accept them and move on. I’ve lost sleep on some of my choices, but as long as I stay true to the project, it normally finishes up well.
How do you manage work/life balance?
Not very well. When my husband was alive, I balanced it better. Today, my kids have kids, so my life is more centered on CIREIA and our industry. After he passed away, I realized that I had a lot to give to new investors and our business. I love what I do and most of the time I don’t really feel like it’s work.
What are your goals for 2019?
Continue to grow our club to be the best it can be. We have grown from 160 to 800 members in three years. Most of the growth is due to a strong community and market. Some of that growth is due to my experience in real estate. As the director, I talk the same talk that my members talk. For the new investors, I know the challenges and fear that can come with our business. We’re also getting our own building instead of renting space at the local country club. I can’t wait to have a place to call home where investors can come in for coffee and talk with like-minded people. Once that happens, I see huge opportunity for us. Investors need a safe place for investing and that’s what we try to offer.
What is the one strategy you’re focused on in 2019 that you feel will bring you the greatest success?
I don’t envision time to flip this year so I’m going to concentrate on helping our members be successful. We’re seeing the market change – and to be clear – I don’t look at it as slowing down – it’s just returning to normal. But a lot of new investors don’t understand the difference.
They weren’t in the business when mortgage interest was 14%. Many weren’t in the business in 2008-2010 when a lot of us suffered. I want to be there to give them different strategies and plans so they can do well in all markets. This is a fantastic way to make a living as long as we all stay on the right path.
What are the three factors that you look at in your market to determine whether a deal is a good deal?
I’m the kind of flipper who only does deals in owner-occupied neighborhoods. I admire investors who can look at other neighborhoods, but it’s not me. The three factors I look at are:
- Neighborhood – is it primarily owner-occupied?Is the house in need of updating?
- Can I fulfill the internal need I have to turn ugly properties into pretty ones?
- What are my exit strategies? If it doesn’t sell quickly, what will I do with it?
Favorite market to invest in? And why?
When my husband passed, I could have lived anywhere. We had just spent almost 20 years in southwest Florida. I traveled for a couple of years trying to figure out what I wanted to do next and I chose Indianapolis. One of my sons lives here, my brother, sister, nephew and their families. So I came back to Indiana and am very grateful I did. It’s a good market with good people.
What’s your greatest investment success story?
We’ve lived in many of the homes we’ve flipped while we were rehabbing them. One of my sons loved it and is now in the business. The other son didn’t. I’ve had a lot of success and some failures, but I think my favorite story is the lakefront cottage we bought. We pulled into the drive and the weeds were knee high. The bones and location were great. My husband used to complain that I always bought the worst house on the block and that every house needed at least one wall removed. When we sold that lake place, we tripled our money.
Best piece of advice for new investors?
Take it slow and get active at a REIA. I was caught in the 2008-2010 recession with highly-leveraged properties. We thought we were too smart and too insulated to be part of the bubble in southwest Florida, and we were wrong. We weren’t active in a REIA there and should have been. Had we been networking with other investors we would have heard them share their stories and we may have been less impacted.
Words you try to live by?
Life should be win-win for everyone. In business, all parties should come away from the deal feeling that they made the right choices. I’m not the same person I was in my earlier years. I had to learn that “winning” while someone else was “losing” is not a long-term satisfying way to do business. It’s hurtful to our industry, our community and to ourselves. I discovered that as long as I do my best to make sure all parties in a transaction are treated and paid fairly, the transaction will normally go well, and money will be made. Win-win. Be fair to all.
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