It’s been a few weeks since I have been able to really put some time into Degrees and Debt and I am sorry for that! Between some family things going on right now that I am assisting with 3-4 nights a week and my capstone course for my masters (just 6 more weeks and I am DONE!) I have not had time to breath twice in a row while sitting down, let alone write and blog. Nonetheless, I am hoping to be able to check in at least once or twice a week for the remainder of my course and once that is done, I will have much more free time to dedicate to writing and debt reduction overall! The lack of time has also fed into a significant drop in any supplemental income streams I was developing earlier in the year. I hope to build them back up stronger then ever during the summer! Now onto what I wanted to talk a bit about…
Extra income is great, that’s a pretty simple thought and its fairly accurate. Aside from the baby from the Capital One commercials who doesn’t like free money, its tough to find someone who would say extra income is not great. What you do for that extra income is the difficult part. One major investment into supplemental income for myself was getting my real estate license a while back. My real estate story may be a bit different then most others. I was a tour guide for my college admissions office during undergrad and one fantastic perk was that during the winter-session and summer, we got to live on campus for free, got paid to give tours and in turn all I had to pay for was courses during that time if I wanted to (cant beat free housing!). During one winter myself and one of my fraternity brothers decided to take a 24hr (that was the education requirement at the time) real estate salesperson course. It was 12hrs back to back, Saturday and Sunday. The certificate of completion was good for 2 years from that date. What do you think I did? I put it aside and 2 weeks before the 2 year expiration is when I finally took my real estate license exam. What happened? I passed (frat bro never even took the test)! This coincided with my final semester and once I graduated and moved back home I ended up joining a local real estate firm in town which I was familiar with.
The Build Up
Real estate is no easy business. It isn’t hard to find someone who a passionate opinion about Realtors, either good or bad. Some argue we get paid way too much to do nothing, some say Realtors only complicate transactions and others swear by their Realtor and recommend him/her to everyone for years after their purchases. Obviously I strive to fall into that last category. The problem with real estate is that it takes a lot of self-discipline, investment and dedication. Many Realtors who cant get on their feet in their first year in the business quit and move onto a different career path. Being that I do real estate as a “side job” I had the cushion of my full time job to pay the bills and settle worries about no paychecks coming in. My first year in the business resulted in no sales, none. It was discouraging but I had a great mentor in my office who kept my head in the game no matter what. I spent my first year getting the word out mostly. I have all the standard web items; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, website, etc. I also spent time doing snail-mail marketing. I made this beneficial to myself by thinking outside the box. I partnered with a graphic designer to create beautiful mailers with high quality design, information and material. I left space on the mailers for advertises and recruiting local businesses to share the mailers with me. In turn, them paying me to advertise on the mailers 100% covered the cost of the design, printing and mailing. I was able to hit tens of thousands of homes in that first year through different waves of mailers, all paid for by advertisers! This saved me money, where other Realtors were mailing to homes and paying for it themselves, I was mailing for free. There are other costs such as office fee’s and tech services to maintain a competitive advantage, but I knew that the business would come to me eventually if I laid the proper foundation so I didn’t mind investing in them. All in all I have spent several thousand dollars thus far in a few years.
With the real estate market rebounding as strong as it has this year in the Northeast area business has been picking up. I have been receiving many more calls from people inquiring about my services. Another benefit for me is that my circle of friends and their connected circles are all starting to get to the point of buying. A few years ago we were all in our early 20’s out of college either renting with roommates or moved back home. Now it seems like every day I go on Facebook and another friend is engaged, pregnant or has a new job. Mid 20’s roll around and people are starting to realize renting and paying someone else’s mortgage is not worth it when rates are so low and they are starting to buy starter homes and condo’s! The work can be tedious and it certainly isn’t for everyone. You have to be on top of many people and what they are supposed to bring to your transaction, you have to maintain a great schedule and attention to detail is key. I love people, I love the business, I love the negotiation and the work so I cannot complain. I’d also love to be able to do it full time one day, but that goes into a different topic of my entrepreneurial plans/dreams and that’s for another post on another day. The truth is with all my bills, I need a guaranteed paycheck every other week, which real estate cannot offer me just yet. As long as the market remains strong though, I see bright things in my future here!