Presidents’ Circle Featured Members: Gary and Susan Harper | Think Realty | A Real Estate of Mind
Investing Strategies

Presidents’ Circle Featured Members: Gary and Susan Harper

For this husband-wife team, seeing others succeed is their reward

The Harpers, a husband-wife team, have decades of experience in not only real estate investing, but in educating others. And, the duo is well-versed in transitioning. From a full-time executive to single-family rental owner, Gary also transitioned from investor to property manager, growing his company to 300 doors. Susan, a former schoolteacher, started in real estate by helping Gary during her summers off, but she eventually retired from education, segueing into REI full time. The team transitioned yet again in 2016 when they focused on another thing they do well—helping other business owners in the real estate investing industry. Together, they own and operate Sharper Business Solutions, a business consulting firm that has worked with over 400 real estate investors.

“Gary started out in real estate by working for his brother-in-law as a laborer around the age of 18,” Susan recalled. “By 24, he started buying rental properties while also working as an executive full time. In 2011, Gary got sick with Lyme disease and redirected his focus to full-time real estate until 2016. It was at this time he was asked to help other business owners in REI. This all happened organically, and the coaching business grew.”

After years of teaching, coaching, and mentoring others, the Harpers have reaped their own rewards from educating others, but the reward might be different from what you might have thought.

“The biggest reward we get is seeing business owners get their time back. We feel what we do allows a business owner the ability to choose how they spend their time,” Susan said.

For Gary and Susan, seeing others succeed is their reward—a selfless price to pay for their own success. Their preferred niche of real estate investing is passive investing, which also comes with the reward of getting time back.

“We always say there is active investing, which requires time for money and there is passive investing that exchanges money for money giving us more time. This can be done with storage units, apartment complexes, or single-family rental properties,” Susan said.

Over the course of their working lives, the Harpers have learned what hard work means and what gaining autonomy can bring.

“My first job was steaming crabs at a restaurant in Virginia Beach,” Gary said. “That job taught me the ability to work hard, and oddly enough, I learned how not to get trapped doing something I would hate my whole life.”

Susan’s first job was de-tasseling corn where she learned the ability to work hard independently and without the need to be supervised.
Although most real estate investors are entrepreneurs at heart who thrive on working for themselves, for novice real estate investors, some supervision might be welcomed at the beginning. The number-one piece of advice the Harpers give beginning investors is to get a mentor—”even if you have to pay to work or have to work for free. The risk people take without properly educating themselves is very concerning.”