Building relationships: I was able to have more opportunities to do successful real estate investments because of the people that I met and the network I formed in my local market. Don’t underestimate the profit-making ability of your relationships. Whether it’s partnering up with a potential mortgage broker or bankers — understanding all of the people who have a little part to play in a real estate deal can bring you business. Be sure to actively build relationships by reaching out to people, even if it is online. Picking their brains can really help you get more business and help you learn how to do your job better.
As a part of my series about the ‘Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Real Estate Industry’, I had the pleasure of interviewing Laura Adams.
Laura Adams is the Senior Real Estate Analyst at Aceable, an award-winning financial author, podcaster and spokesperson. She is a frequent media source who’s been featured on major news outlets including NBC, CBS, ABC FOX, Bloomberg, NPR, The New York Times, Money, Kiplinger and Forbes. She earned an MBA from the University of Florida.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Real Estate industry?
When I started out working in accounting and doing some financial jobs, I got really interested in doing real estate investments on the side. My husband was a real estate appraiser for many years. He and I decided that we wanted to get into the business together. He already had an appraiser license, and I decided to get a real estate license because I wanted to know as much as I could about real estate and I wanted to have the ability to save money on commissions. It was a side project that we did, in addition to our day jobs for many years. We just really loved it. We loved scouring the market looking for great deals, undervalued properties, and finding properties that we could turn into rental homes, or to flip to make a profit. We even got into commercial investing, with multifamily properties like triplexes, and some large retail space to rent out to businesses. So it became a hobby of ours that we felt could also be profitable.
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occured to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
I would say one real estate deal that really stands out to me is a foreclosure that my husband and I purchased. We found a bank that had a very nice property that was going into foreclosure, and we were able to work with the bank to buy it at a very low price. We fixed it up and turned it around to sell for a nice profit — but what was interesting about this, is it opened my eyes to the power of networking and collaboration within the real estate industry in a very tangible way. If you get to know people in the industry there are a lot of opportunities like that. Finding a contact who knows about foreclosures allows you to get the inside scoop on good deals that will be going on the market soon. I think that’s an excellent way to become a bit savvier about real estate deals. This made me want to get to know as many people as possible in the industry. So I started attending local real estate meetings — like weekly meetings with the Association of Realtors. I used to think it wasn’t very worthwhile to attend, but that deal changed my mind.
Do you have a favorite “life lesson quote”? Can you share a story or example of how that was relevant to you in your life?
I’m not sure who said this — and maybe I’ll take credit for it: “If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing now.” What this means is, if you want to do something like investing in real estate or become a homeowner — if it’s something that you think is worth doing, why not go for it right now, you know? Why procrastinate? Make it a priority. That quote led a lot of my career when thinking about what I want to accomplish. That being said, if anyone is thinking about getting into real estate — it is worth doing right now and investigating it. It may end up being a life changing career shift for you or even if it’s a hobby like it was for me for many years, it could certainly increase your income. Having a real estate course under your belt is going to be your first step. Getting that education will help you immerse yourself and understand what the real estate industry has to offer, and where you might fit in.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
One project I just launched is my most recent book, Money-Smart Solopreneur: A Personal Finance System for Freelancers, Entrepreneurs, and Side-Hustlers. It’s something that I think can help people who are interested in doing any kind of work for themselves — whether it’s starting a real estate career, becoming a real estate investor or any other venture that you’re thinking about. It’s a step-by-step guide for someone to begin their business and answer the questions: What do I need to do? Do I need a business license? Should I have a separate business banking account? Do I need insurance? It’s kind of a friendly guide that walks you through that whole process from startup, through thinking about your financial future and what types of retirement accounts are available to you as a self-employed person. This can be a challenge for many people in real estate because they are independent contractors. They are not going to necessarily have a retirement plan with their job. So thinking that way, and understanding what you need to do to protect your liability, what you need to do to create a secure financial future, investing for retirement, having insurance — all of these things are really important to protect yourself when you’re self-employed.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
At Aceable.com, our mission is to help people achieve their dreams with our incredibly user-friendly online education platform. It is one of the most convenient ways to get education that’s out there. You can take courses 24/7 from a mobile app. Simply put, it’s an innovative way to help people get the education that they need when it works for them. We understand that people are busy. We understand that they may have a full-time day job. So real estate could be something they’re doing in the evenings or on the weekends. One story that stands out is Aceable was able to help a former elementary school teacher named Katy start a new career in real estate. Though it might not sound similar, Katy said real estate requires a lot of the same skills, qualifications and principles as teaching. Additionally, by using our platform, Katy was able to spend more time with her kids at home and create her own schedule. Making it as accessible and convenient as possible is one way that we feel we’re helping people like Katy get the education they need to start a brand-new career and ultimately create new sources of income that can improve their entire financial life.
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?
Definitely my husband. I mentioned that we’ve done a lot of real estate projects and deals together. He was instrumental in being a partner and a lot of the profitable real estate ventures that I went into. His expertise in property appraisals helped us figure out which properties are undervalued and which could appreciate with just a little bit of investment such as fixing up cosmetic issues like paint and new floor covering — you know, boosting the curb appeal of a property. By investing that little bit, we were able to put it on the market and see a profit that was much higher than our expenses. He also had a lot of knowledge about the neighborhoods in our local area. If you are looking at becoming an investor, I would recommend working with a partner. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a spouse, but somebody who’s got a little more experience or education than you do. You can complement each other’s skills. Maybe you bring some of the day-to-day responsibilities to the partnership, and maybe the other person can bring some capital and help you purchase. A good partner is someone you can tap as you go through your first couple deals for advice and guidance. They can act as a mentor for you because nobody has all the answers when you’re doing real estate investments for the first time. That partnership can really increase your chances of success.
Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Real Estate industry? If you can please share a story or example.
I think the industry is poised to do so well right now. We’re seeing price appreciation in most areas of the country and while that’s challenging for buyers, it means that if you do buy a property, either for your residence or as an investment, you stand to gain some significant appreciation and can increase your net worth and wealth. So that’s definitely one thing that is exciting about the real estate industry, from my perspective.
Another is that it looks like mortgage interest rates are going to remain low. For some time, the Fed has given some indication that it’s going to keep rates level right now. That means we’re going to enjoy historically low interest rates probably for years to come. That’s important because it gives buyers the opportunity to buy a little bit more home. Having a low rate means your monthly payments will be less and you’re going to pay less interest over the life of the loan.
A third exciting thing is the technology transforming real estate right now. It’s making it easier for buyers and sellers to come together from online platforms, where buyers can search for homes that they’re interested in very quickly and very efficiently, to technology that allows buyers to see a home remotely. These technological advances have been sped up by the pandemic, but they’re more mainstream now — making it easier for buyers to buy and sellers to sell. It makes the entire system work more efficiently. Online real estate education through companies like Aceable has also become the norm — making the industry more accessible to potential agents, property managers, and anyone who wants to get into real estate and needs a license. Options, like being able to take a civil course online when it’s convenient for you or even on your mobile device, means you’re probably more likely to consider real estate as a potential new career.
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? Please share stories or examples if possible.
One thing that concerns me about the real estate industry in general right now is the fact that many first-time homebuyers are feeling priced out of the market. Because of low inventory in many parts of the country, we’ve seen rapid price appreciation — forcing buyers to pay top dollar. This can make it very difficult for first-time homebuyers who are looking for an affordable home. They may not have a 20% down payment saved. Younger people are left feeling like they need to hold off buying because of that price appreciation that does concern me.
Another concerning trend we’ve been seeing is buyers being so desperate to purchase a property that they’re not only willing to pay over the listing price, but they’re willing to forego necessary contingencies such as home inspections. This is something that is really dangerous, because there could be many unseen, potentially expensive problems lurking in a home. Big problems like plumbing, electrical, roofing, potential signs of mold or insect infestation are not obvious to someone who isn’t able to give a home a thorough inspection. All of these things can be financially devastating to a homeowner that is not expecting to have these problems after they move in.
A third thing I would say concerns me is we’re seeing a lot of companies buying homes. So, let’s say real estate investor companies are buying up a lot of homes and either fixing them up or holding them as a rental property; the more we have large corporations coming in, buying homes and bidding up prices, the more difficult it can be for first time homebuyers to find affordable homes.
With this in mind, I would love to see more first-time homebuyer programs. These programs might help first-time homebuyers pay closing costs or give them the ability to purchase with a very small down payment. I think that will help some of these younger buyers who feel priced out of the market have some ability to get in the market right now, find a home and enjoy some price appreciation versus renting longer and not being able to build their net worth through real estate.
Another thing I would suggest to improve the industry is giving federal agencies that back mortgages bigger budgets or expanding FHA programs or USDA programs, which help people buy rural properties. I think there could be more programs that allow people to get federally backed loans. This could also encourage more mortgage lenders to work with first time buyers.
From the real estate brokers perspective, I would love to see more collaboration between experienced brokers and new people in the industry. It can be very difficult for new agents to build their business and get started. If there was more collaboration and mentoring programs for new agents to team up with an experienced person and have the chance to create some income for themselves — I think that would probably bring more people into the industry. Additionally, many new agents don’t earn a commission. It can sometimes take six months to a year to earn your first commission. That keeps a lot of people from being successful or even deters them from joining the industry in the first place. If experienced brokers really worked to mentor and collaborate with new people, it might give the new people just a little bit more opportunity. It could also be beneficial for the experienced agents to get some help on the deals that they already have in progress.
What advice would you give to other real estate leaders to help their teams to thrive and to create a really fantastic work culture?
I do think collaboration is key. There can be a real sense of competition in real estate brokerages because all the salespeople are essentially competing for the listings and the buyers in their local market. It can be a cut throat environment, but if leaders can really cultivate partnerships, mentoring programs, and a spirit of partnership — I think that could really create a better work culture in many real estate offices and environments.
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?
- Building relationships: I was able to have more opportunities to do successful real estate investments because of the people that I met and the network I formed in my local market. Don’t underestimate the profit-making ability of your relationships. Whether it’s partnering up with a potential mortgage broker or bankers — understanding all of the people who have a little part to play in a real estate deal can bring you business. Be sure to actively build relationships by reaching out to people, even if it is online. Picking their brains can really help you get more business and help you learn how to do your job better.
- Don’t only focus on selling: Be focused on providing valuable information for people. Real Estate can be a very long selling cycle. It can take some buyers years to decide if they want to buy a home or make a real estate investment. So, if you’re only trying to sell people in the here and now, you may be losing an opportunity. If you provide them good information and become a resource for them, they’ll remember you when they are ready to buy. That may seem a little counterintuitive to people in the sales business, but don’t just focus on trying to list a property or show a buyer a property if they’re truly not ready for that.
- Build your brand on social media: I think these days you can really try to reach people and share what you’re doing through social media. It’s a really great way to let people know that you are an expert, you are available for them if and when they decide to buy a home or make a real estate investment.
- Creating systems as a small business owner: If you are self-employed you need to be efficient when keeping up with expenses. From writing off and deducting legitimate expenses to bookkeeping, it’s critical to keep it streamlined and simple to save time. This is especially helpful when it comes to taxes.
- Promoting yourself to the media: Reach out to journalists about trending topics and real estate content you may be working on — whether that’s commentary or a podcast. Building relationships with reporters gets your name out there easily and inexpensively. Working with trusted media outlets also will help boost your credibility.
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. 🙂
I would inspire a movement of entrepreneurial empowerment. I think there’s an entrepreneur in all of us and you unlock that by thinking about the skills you have and how it can create extra income for yourself. The idea is you can create a venture and it can be anything you want it to be; thinking about how I can create more income as my own self-employed business person and if real estate is one of them — it can be life-changing.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you for your time, and your excellent insights! We wish you continued success.