The art and science of “flipping” houses is all the rage now. But like any other business, you shouldn’t jump in without doing your research. I recently reached out an amazing local real estate investor, Julie D’Aquila, who is located right here in Clearwater, and asked her to share her story for the benefit of the business owners who read this blog! Soak up the inspiration and make sure you don’t miss Julie’s tips for ALL business owners at the bottom!
In the mid-80s, Julie didn’t really have an itch to get into the real estate business. But circumstances had a different idea for her future. Her husband, who had collected some real estate holdings, became too busy with other ventures to be able to focus on the properties, so he put her in charge of managing them! Julie says the first few years were really tough, just trying to figure out what the heck she was doing, learning the business, and getting to know the properties. Eventually, she reached out to SCORE (a free business advice service sponsored by the Small Business Association) to help her get a business plan together (but more on that later!)…
ADAPTING TO THE MARKET
According to Julie, the most important thing you can do as a real estate investor and business owner, is be prepared to adapt. “Every time the market changes, there are new opportunities,” she says. “All you have to do is be flexible. A lot of investors want to do what they’ve been doing for 16 years. But you have to go ahead and change.”
After cutting her teeth in the industry for a couple years, Julie began to find success flipping houses in the late 80s/early 90s. This generated a lot of cash flow and one-time paydays, but also carried higher risk and the stress of always having to find that next property, that next deal. And finding a deal wasn’t so easy in those days.
After bubble burst, there was inventory everywhere. You couldn’t walk down a street without tripping over a few good deals. And for Julie, it became time to adapt. She couldn’t buy every good deal she found anymore. So she put in place criteria to help her only pick the “cream of the crop.” She says that’s the biggest problem new investors have. There are too many good choices and too many decisions to make.
BUY AND HOLD
Short term flipping was working for her for a long time, but with the busting of the real estate bubble, it became more difficult to establish a clear exit strategy for an investment. She wanted a longer-term investment strategy that would have more than one payday. That’s when she turned to a buy and hold strategy.
Buy and hold investments get her many paydays:
- Good deal – The property is worth more than she paid for it
- Sweat equity – She puts in the work to increase the value of the property
- Deposit – Renters pay a deposit before moving in
- Monthly rent – Renters pay monthly, a portion of which is pure profit
- Cash out or continue renting – After a couple years, she can either sell to the tenants or continue renting
ONLINE MENTORING AND COACHING
In recent years, Julie has begun giving back to the industry by mentoring aspiring investors. She teaches them about the business and shares the knowledge she has built up over her years of adapting and succeeding in the marketplace.
ADVICE FOR OTHER ENTREPRENEURS
When asked what advice she could give to other entrepreneurs, Julie had a perfect answer without even stopping to think about it. “Leverage the power of people, systems, and technology,” she said. “When I realized that I could delegate or set up systems that did things automatically, it took away a lot of the mundane stuff and made [my business] more effective.” She also noted that, as business owners, “we all need time off,” reinforcing the importance of taking care of yourself.
The other big piece of advice she offered was that “Planning is #1.” Stating that all businesses need a plan, she gave a big shout out to SCORE, a non-profit that offers FREE business planning services to aspiring entrepreneurs. She highly encourages any business owner to check them out because they are awesome and free!
If you’d like to contact Julie, you can reach her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/globalrealestateinvesting.