Make sure you have the right mindset before you start. It is work and you will come across challenges but if you know ahead of time what those are and train your mindset before you start, you will drastically increase your chances of success. I belief the reason I have had success is because I believed in myself. It wasn’t all the time but it was enough to make slow and steady progress until I continued to increase my confidence over time. Now I don’t allow doubt to creep in.
As a part of my series about strong women leaders of the Real Estate industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Farrah Ali.
Farrah Ali is an author, real estate professional and entrepreneur with more than 18 years of professional experience. She has been featured in Business Insider, Yahoo News and on the Let’s Talk Real Estate Investing podcast. Her new book, Diaries of a Female Real Estate Investor; Learn How a Single Mom Went from 80k in Debt to a Multi-Million Dollar Portfolio is out now. farrahali.org/
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Real Estate industry?
I was in a precarious situation because I had just separated from my husband (at the time) with no belongings except a few pieces of clothing and some personal items into an empty house to try to figure out how I was going to rebuild myself. I had 2 little children I knew I would have sole responsibility for so I had to figure out what to do to make more money. I had a stable full-time job however it was enough only for the day to day expenses. I had to furnish a new home, had no child support income, and figure out how I was going to afford the extra -curricular activities and other expenses as children get older. I started researching online for the best way to create wealth and most articles and books pointed towards investing in real estate
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
There was a property that came on the market and it was in a popular area and in a time in the market when people were making offers 10 to 20k over asking price and there would be 20 to 30 offers on one property. Well I really wanted the property but there was so much competition so the chances were very slim because I didn’t want to over pay for the property.
I had a toy drive my non for profit was holding in a few weeks and I made the intention that if I got that property I would personally donate a certain amount. I happened to share that information with my agent during a conversation and the agent mentioned it to the seller. The seller ended up selecting me over all the other offers even though they were 25k higher than mine because she found out about the Toy drive and the donation. I realized that there were people like her in this world where it isn’t just about money. It made me realize that there are some really great people out there and that I should continue to strive to be better.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes I am working on several new exciting projects. I published a book this year called Diaries of a Female Real Estate Investor and now have an online course to go with it. The course is called getting primed for real estate investing and it is intended to help people who want to get into real estate and helps to build a solid foundation to start their investing career. I am also venturing out into new construction and building duplexes from the ground up in Florida. I am really excited to learn this part of investing.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story? I truly believe that what I do and what the people around me do when it comes to real estate investing is genuine and real. We don’t make up stories for marketing purposes. We believe in what we do and help inspire others to do the same.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
When it comes to learning about real estate investing I would have to credit my mentor Andrew Holmes. He is based in Chicago but can teach anyone Nationwide. He taught me real estate investing the right way. I have done over 60+ real estate transactions and have not lost a penny in any of my transactions. I make great returns on all of them and that is because I chose to learn from someone who actually does investing for a living.
Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. The Real Estate industry, like the Veterinarian, Nursing and Public Relations fields, is a women dominated industry. Yet despite this, less than 20 percent of senior positions in Real Estate companies are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what do you think is the cause of this imbalance?
In my experience I think more women need to believe in themselves. What I have noticed being around both genders is than men often exaggerate or amplify their skills whereas women tend to downplay them. If women believed in themselves that they too can enter the business and investing world and succeed at it, more women would be in that position.
What 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and/or c) society to support greater gender balance going forward? Support groups are extremely important. That is why one of my business partners and I co-founded We Win LLC which is an organization that provides a platform for women to inspire one another, educate and motivate in the world of real estate investing. It is an organization that is run by seasoned women real estate investors for women. There have been hundreds of women who have attended our meetings and have actually started to build their real estate investment portfolios. It is truly amazing to see their success.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
Women are not taken as seriously. Their ideas are over looked even if they are good ones.
Women have to learn to juggle multiple responsibilities whereas the male counterparts expectations are not as much. For example if a woman works she still has to figure out meals, taking care of the children, household etc. Men don’t seem to have that pressure
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Real Estate industry?
You can leave a legacy
Owning a piece of land is an exciting thing. Something no one can take away from you
You can own your own time when you generate income passively
Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?
- The market’s ups and downs. I believe you can make money in any market however you really have to be educated and know what you are doing. If you don’t buy right, you can lose a lot of money
- There is a lot of information out there on investing and it can be really confusing for someone new that is coming in. There are a lot of Gurus out there trying to make money that necessarily don’t have experience.
- The market crashing similar to what happened in 2008.
As far as improvements we should learn from our mistakes and not allow them to happen again. In 2008 a lot of mortgages were under because it was easy for people to get loans. Appraisals were being done incorrectly and homes were being purchased over-priced. Having the files underwritten accurately will mitigate risk.
As far as the education in the real estate industry look for a mentor who actually owns or has transacted numerous real estate transactions. Ask for some property addresses and look it up. Ask questions and pay attention to the answers. Getting the right education and support will alleviate a lot of concerns most people have
What advice would you give to other leaders to help their team to thrive? Give and Take. Most people want to take, take and take. Empower your team and be a good example. At the end of the day your team pays attention to who you are and what you do and that is how they learn both consciously and sub consciously.
Ok, here is the main question of our interview. You are a “Real Estate Insider”. If you had to advise someone about 5 non intuitive things one should know to succeed in the Real Estate industry, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?
The advice I would give as an insider is:
- Get the right education- I went to a couple different real estate seminars before I found the right one. The right one will give you the right education that you can actually use when transacting your own deals. Some of the others I went to had contradictory information. For example I received incorrect information on what entity to set up so I ended up wasting some money and time on the process.
- In order for a deal to be profitable you need to buy it at the right price. Everything else usually falls in place. I personally have never lost any money in a transaction but I have known investors who purchase the property at retail price. A property at retail price is not a deal. The goal is to have as less cash as invested as possible especially when you have to scale up.
- Get a mentor and a support group — This is priceless. You absolutely need to follow the footsteps of those who are successful. For me personally this saved me from making huge mistakes. Someone watching out to make sure you don’t miss any red flags is key especially when you are a newer investor.
- Evaluate yourself and discover where your strengths and weaknesses are and build an investment strategy based on what works for you. I didn’t think I personally could invest in real estate because I didn’t have much money to start with until I realized you don’t need to have much to start. There are ways around all the challenges that you may have.
- Make sure you have the right mindset before you start. It is work and you will come across challenges but if you know ahead of time what those are and train your mindset before you start, you will drastically increase your chances of success. I belief the reason I have had success is because I believed in myself. It wasn’t all the time but it was enough to make slow and steady progress until I continued to increase my confidence over time. Now I don’t allow doubt to creep in.
Because of your position, you are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
There are two things that I currently am working on at the moment. One is the organization called WE WIN which is to inspire and educate women (or men, if interested) to get into the male dominated field of real estate investing. We have been holding meetings and seminars for a few years now and have had great success. We measure our success not by the dollars the company receives but how many people we inspire who actually start to invest in real estate.
A couple of my friends and I co founded we win foundation. A non for profit that gives back to the communities we invest in. We hold food drives, toy drives, back to school drives, turkey drives etc. It is a way to give back
How can our readers follow you online?
Facebook — farrah.ali.1213
Linkedin — Farrah Ali
Farrahali.org — ( website)
Mywewinfoundation.org ( Non for profit)
Thank you for your time, and your excellent insights!