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Jeff Smith: Two Years and Quit Restaurant Job

Successful Real Estate Investor Jeff Smith

Two years after beginning his investing Jeff retired from his restaurant job. After avoiding his successful investor father-in-law the tables turned and Jeff pursued him to find out how to do it.

You’ll hear how Jeff has managed 120 properties at one time, owned 60 houses over the last 10 years, and averages $300/mo income on each property.

Jeff has developed simple systems and trained teenagers to lease and manage his properties using those systems. He describes them so you can learn what they are.

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Damon: My guest here today is Jeff Smith. Jeff is a very successful single family real estate investor; which is why I am very excited to be talking to you Jeff. Let’s just dive right into this and get started. Let’s start with finding out how many properties have you purchased?

Jeff Smith: Oh, I’d say at least sixty.

Damon: Sixty properties. So, how long of a time span has that been? When did you get started?

Jeff: Ahh, I started about ten years ago.

Damon: Ten years ago? All right, with sixty properties, you don’t own all sixty now do you?

Jeff: No, no. I’ve own as many as twenty-five at one time. Today I have eighteen, in addition to the properties I have purchased; I have managed at least 120 at one time.

Damon: So you’ve managed up to one hundred and twenty at one time. But at any given time you’ve owned up to about 25 at a particular time?

Jeff: That’s correct. Yes.

Damon: OK. So how do you manage so many properties all at the same time without just not even having a life?

Jeff: (Chuckles) Well, it’s just a matter of putting into place rules and systems. It’s really not that difficult. You dumb it down to a point where you can get even teenage help part-time to handle anything administrative and the rest you just hire out.

Damon: OK. So that is really interesting, you say you can go out and get teenage help; that almost implies that some of the things that you’re doing managing doesn’t require a high degree of skill or knowledge necessarily. I want to explore that a little bit. What kinds of things could teenagers do? In the context of people that are watching this interview are thinking: “Well, I don’t know if I can manage properties”. So is that something they can do?

Jeff: Well, it certainly is. Any of the administrative work they can do. Filing, any of the bookkeeping, you can teach a teenager data entry and it’s just addition and subtraction for the bookkeeping. At the level of a hundred and twenty properties at a time, you would need to stay on top of that on a daily if not weekly basis. A part-time teenager can handle that and then some in terms of sales or leasing or anything like that. I think there are ten or twelve scenarios that would come up in the process of a leasing call. I pre-wrote the script for my nieces to use when they take those calls and it hasn’t been a problem.

Damon: OK. Excellent, I want to make sure that we dive into those things a little bit later in the interview because I think that our listeners will be really interested in understanding-how do you lease a property?, what should you be saying and what those scripts are that you have written for your niece for example. But before we get into that, so you have at any given time maybe up to twenty-five properties; how much cash flow have you been able to gain over the time of doing you’re investing?

Jeff: Sure, well I guess the last time I looked at it; it was just after the last time I protested property taxes and the average was about just under three hundred dollars per property.

Damon: OK.

Jeff: I’m also a real estate agent. Most of my client’s today are purchasing properties significantly higher than that. But some of my properties were bought when two hundred dollars a month was a good cash flow and they have come up. So I guess on the average, two hundred and eighty, two hundred and ninety per property.

Damon: Now the ones that you bought that were two hundred dollars a month cash flow; prior you said they are higher now, what is the reason for that?

Jeff: Well, we stay on top of the assessed value from the county for taxes, so usually our property taxes stay in check. We make sure that the properties are leased just below market rents and so that goes up just about every year. We try not to get behind on rent raises; as a matter of fact that’s another system we have. Where we just have a tickler file; where a property comes up sixty days prior to the lease expiration date and at that point we start gearing for a renewal.

Damon: OK. So you’re increasing your cash flow by making sure your property taxes are as low as possible and the rents are generally going up each year; so that your expenses may be staying the same or going down a little bit if you can successfully protest your taxes down.

Jeff: Sure.

Damon: …And with the rents going up; that just increases that cash flow.

Jeff: The expenses typically do go down, not just from tax savings but also we put a maintenance program in place where we have eyes on the property once a quarter. It’s generally not my eyes but whoever goes out there to do some value-add and it’s presented that way as a value-add to the customer.

Where we go out and either clean the carpets or exterminate, check the air conditioner or check the window locks, door locks and smoke alarm, that kind of thing. But what we’re really doing is going out there doing something to the property that will increase the life expectancy of some component.

Damon: OK.

Jeff: …and at the same time we’re getting an inspection. Whoever goes out there has a form that they use to report back to me on the condition of the property. So we have eyes on the property often enough, we have a program in place where there is just very little that comes up that is unexpected.

Damon: OK. So by having the right program or system in place you’re able to minimize the number of unexpected things that come up. Everything goes pretty smoothly once you implement that and get that system in place.

Jeff: That’s right.

Damon: OK. So that’s another thing. I’m just making a note here, I want to talk about in just a little bit, is what that system is. What I’d like to talk about now is how did you get into real estate investing? What was your motivation?

Jeff: (Chuckles) Well, you know how everybody in their family has the one guy that everybody else avoids? In my family that man is my father-in-law. He has seventy-five, eighty houses, somewhere in that neighborhood. To me, ten, twelve years ago he came across as somebody who was bragging about it all the time. When the reality was that I was married to his daughter, he wanted a life for his daughter that reached his expectations for her. I believe he thought that the way to make that happen is to make me believe.

So he came to the restaurant that I worked at. At the time I was running my parents restaurants. They had three locations here in Houston. It was after a lifestyles case study, he and a group of folks showed up for dinner and drinks and he sort of cornered me. He mentioned to me the benefits of real estate and what it had done for him and again I thought he was bragging.

Damon: Do you remember what those benefits were? What were the sales points he was making on you?

Jeff: You know I really don’t. The part of the conversation that stands out to me is how hard I tried to get away from him.

Damon: (Chuckles).

Jeff: So my exit from the conversation was a question: “Look can you just refer me to a few books I can read to get me…ah… so I can pick this up…I’m busy, I’m working, I’ve got to get back to work.” So he referred me to: Rich Dad, Poor Dad, The Richest Man in Babylon and I believe the third book was The E Myth. So I read those books, this happened in October of 1999 I believe.

Damon: OK.

Jeff: By Thanksgiving, the following month, I had read all three books and was so interested that I pursued him all over my mom’s house. He’d tried to get away from me just as hard as I’d tried to get away from him.

Damon: So the roles had kind of reversed.

Jeff: That’s right. So his exit to get out of that conversation was: “Look if you can get your wife to read these books as well, then what I’ll do is pay for you to go to school to learn this stuff.” So she had read the books by Christmas and at Christmas dinner we were both chasing him around. The school that he paid for us to go to was the two day class at Lifestyles.

Damon: OK. So that was where you got some more education, obviously the books made an impact on you because you went from saying: “Well, I’m really not that interested this…it sounds like a lot of work maybe…I’ve got other things to do…working in the restaurant…” What was it that you read in those books that changed your perspective to where you were now pursuing him?

Jeff: Well, oddly enough, none of the three books were about real estate. The Richest Man in Babylon was such a small book, such a basic book that I finished in an hour and a half or two hours. And I thought: “Oh my gosh” I wasn’t sure if I learned something because it seemed like it was obvious.

Then after I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad I was so upset that I didn’t figure out the formula on my own because it was that simple; and then through conversations with him applying it to real estate. It made the difference and I guess I went from one family business, the restaurant business to another family business, real estate investing.

Damon: So that was about ten years ago, I guess because you’ve been doing this about ten years.

Jeff: Yes.

Damon: So when you read these books, you got excited about it, you went to your father-in-law and wanted to know more, was he willing to teach you or did you have to continue to pursue him for that?

Jeff: He wouldn’t talk to me until after I had taken the two day class at Lifestyles with Dale Walmsley and after that yeah, absolutely. He was available, he made himself readily available. First of all it contributed to the quality of life for his daughter. So I’m sure that was a motivating factor, but also real estate and providing clean, safe and functional homes that working families can afford is a passion for him and as well as for me. It was a way for us to grow together.

Damon: Do you remember the first house that you purchased? Once he started working with you. You went to the classes at Lifestyles Unlimited but what were your concerns when you went to go purchase that first house?

Jeff: The first house that I bought was a, it was a $30, 000 house in a part of town that I never would’ve even thought would’ve been profitable place to buy a house. As a matter of fact, I bought two houses in that same sub division within a month or so of each other.

I didn’t know anything about construction, anything about rehab and this house looked like it, it looked like it should have been condemned. Since then, I’ve come to figure that was one of the, that was probably an average sort of, an average sort of condition for what I’ve done. I’ve done both the house that didn’t need anything. Bought a property that, yeah. There has been a couple of properties where it was just put a sign in the yard and leased it the next day.

Damon: So no rehab on those necessarily. They were ready to go.

Jeff: Right. So, I have been at both ends of the spectrum. Pretty major rehab compared to a $10 sign and that was it and this one was probably right in the middle.

Damon: OK.

Jeff: An example of, I got impatient with the guys installing the fixtures. I was so ignorant that when I took a light fixture down to hang a ceiling fan up in the master bedroom, I didn’t know what those strings were. I took the screws out and there were strings holding this fixture up. I took a pair of scissors and cut them. It’s hot.

Damon: Yeah, because the electricity was still on, I would imagine.

Jeff: That’s right. So, that’s how ignorant I was about it. I guess there’s some virtue there and reducing your ignorance and as well as having some patience.

Damon: So, you were patient. There were some things you didn’t know. You went ahead and proceeded anyways. Did you make any mistakes along the way?

Jeff: I’ve made, oh yeah, I’ve made some mistakes. I think, really, they can all boil down to, it can all be reduced to not following the system that has already been proven to be effective. For example, one of the bigger mistakes I made was, oh I guess in 2004, 2005, just before the real peek of the real estate market in 2006. This was a period where anybody that could buy a house, anybody that wanted a house, could buy a house.

Damon: Because the financing was so easy to get?

Jeff: Financing was no problem. So, the tenant pool was smaller. In my thinking, at the time, was that, basically, I out smarted myself. So, I thought, you know, these old guys, Dale and Bruce, my father-in-law and Dale Walmsley, they don’t know what they’re talking about with this charge less rent. I’m going to charge more. But, I’m going to require a lower deposit.

Damon: Did they?

Jeff: So, the deposits, I thought well, the deposits on my books are a liability. Rent is income. Why not get more income and have less liability. Well, that didn’t work. In a tough market, you charge less rent. And you drop the rent a little bit not your standards.

Damon: So by dropping the rent, what does that do, how does that help you as the investor, as the landlord?

Jeff: Well, if you’re charging more rent than the market dictates, then you’re going to attract people who don’t intend to pay you anyway. So, they’ll move in, pay for a couple of months and then they’re gone. If you charge a lower rent, you get to choose who moves in.

If you’re the best product at the best price in the neighborhood, whose going to look at your property? Everybody looking in that area; and if they come and look at yours and yours is one of the least expensive properties, if not the least expensive property; and then they go look at one or two others; which one are they going to want? They’re going to want the cheap one that’s also the better one, or at lease equivalent.

Damon: Right. So is that the strategy you use then to make sure that you get good tenants in the property, that are going to take good care of the property and pay their rent on time?

Jeff: And stays longer than twelve months. My typical turnover is two years and nine months; I’m trying to get that up to three years; that’s my next operational goal.

Damon: OK, excellent. How long do you generally keep a property? Where you’ve had so many over the years; you know, you’ve bought and sold them, rented them out and everything but what do you typically keep them for?

Jeff: Well, if I can refinance it….well, let me back up. If after the first year I have a buyer, it’s gone.

Damon: It’s out of here.

Jeff: Sell it as soon as I can after that first year. But typically if I haven’t sold it in three years I’ll probably refinance it; if I haven’t refinanced it in three years I’m going to make a diligent effort to sell it in five. If I did refinance it in that third year, I’ll probably sell it by the seventh year.

Damon: OK. So you don’t really keep properties longer than seven that would kind of be your upper limit?

Jeff: Right, right. I still have that first one though. (Chuckles).

Damon: You do have that? (Chuckles).

Jeff: Still have the first one. I don’t know if it’s sentimental. My friend Natalie also has her first one still as well.

Damon: Huh. Wow that’s interesting. I actually sold my first house before I bought my second house.

Jeff: Is that right?

Damon: I didn’t have any sentimental value attached to it. People that are watching and listening to the things you are saying and are thinking about getting into real estate investing; what are some tips that you have for them? What would you tell somebody who is just getting started based on what you have learned from your successful experience?

Jeff: I think there are probably three things that are at the top of what I think are more important than anything else. The third most important thing would be develop systems, we talked about that earlier; leasing is a system; management is a system; the rehab is a system, every part of it can be broken down into a flow chart if you wanted to do that and not ask.

I don’t think that you really have to go that far. But just having a general plan for how you do things that can be repeated. The second most important thing would be not doing too much. I think most of the people that I see getting into this misunderstand best product, best price. I think that so many of my colleagues over-rehab or they do too much property or cut their price too much.

If the lowest sold comparable, if the lowest rented comparable that comes up, is say, nine hundred dollars a month but the lowest active is nine fifty, well I don’t think you have to go below nine hundred. Nine hundred would be fine, or eight ninety five. So I don’t think you have to undercut so much. They overdo it on the price reduction; they overdo it on the rehab. You just don’t have to put expensive material into a rental house.

You have to go and match the neighborhood, whatever the expectation of the neighborhood is and maybe add one thing. Maybe that thing is a ceiling fan, maybe that thing is a patio cover, and maybe that thing is a microwave vent hood. It doesn’t have to be more than what the neighborhood expects.

Damon: OK.

Jeff: And then the most important thing; I’m going to echo my father-in-law Bruce and he says, “Knowledge is only twenty percent of it.” You’re not going to get out there and learn everything there is to know about something. You’re just going to have to get out there and try it. He’s a big fan of dancing; he likes to go out dancing.

When I took dancing lessons, you learn a few steps and then you go do those few steps and then the teacher teaches you the next few steps. So he said only twenty percent of it is that knowledge to get started. The rest of it, the other eighty percent has to do with access to a mentor. Someone who can tell you what the next steps are. I go back to Dale and Bruce on a regular basis for refreshers. As a matter of fact I just took that two day class again this weekend.

Damon: So even though you have been doing this for so many years, you’ve done so many properties; you still go back to mentors, you still go back to the people who have taught you and get a refresh on what to do and just make sure that your still on top of things?

Jeff: I think Andrew Carnegie called it a mastermind group, so I would encourage you to build one.

Damon: Excellent, excellent. So let’s dig a little bit into the systems that you have, of course we don’t have time in this format to get into all the details and as you just said, knowledge is only twenty percent of it. So I want to talk about the systems that you use just more from the perspective so that our listeners can understand that it’s not super-complex stuff that we’re talking about here, it can be done. But just enough to give them an idea: “here are the systems…here is how to approach a system.”

So for example perhaps we could talk about probably one of the big concerns that people have. How am I going to lease a property and get tenants that are going to pay their rent on time and treat my property well and not trash it? So what is your leasing system that you have?

Jeff: Well, in terms of leasing there are three reasons why a property won’t rent. From my perspective its price, its condition and it’s the person who is leasing the property, the salesperson. Because that is what leasing is. It’s a sales function of your real estate business.

So let’s make the assumption then that the price is right and the condition is right; both of those are non-issues, then in terms of getting a property leased I just like to break things down into smaller, manageable parts. So let’s just look at marketing: Is the phone ringing? Are you getting calls on the property? I think there are some essential things that you have to do to get the phone to ring. Use a weekly classified paper, just a line ad will do.

In my market that paper is The Green Sheet. My ad in The Green Sheet should get you; I guess depending on where your property is situated in the neighborhood these percentages could be off but if your on a cul-de-sac in the back of the neighborhood, your Green Sheet ad is going to get you sixty percent of your calls. If your property is on Main Street in the neighborhood it’s going to get you thirty percent of your calls but your yard sign is going to get the balance.

There will be a few stragglers, straggling calls from other alternative sources, like I think you should have an Internet presence; whether you put your property on a website like Craig’s List or I think Rentals.com would do it as well. You should have an Internet presence that way you can guide your calls. You can capture their email address and send them a flyer and that flyer would be that website.

My favorite place to find tenants, although it really only accounts for five or ten percent of them, is from the neighbors at that property. One of the things that a lot of people are afraid of happening is, or when a property is for sale on their street, that it will become a rental property. They’re afraid for that to happen.

Damon: Right.

Jeff: One of the things that I make it a point to do is when I acquire a property, I go meet the neighbors. You know, to let them know I have standards, that there is a criminal background check.

Damon: You’re going to make sure for their sakes as well as yours that you’re not going to put in somebody that will be a bad neighbor.

Jeff: Right, right. And the other thing is I’m going to give them incentive to provide the next tenant, the next resident. I will offer maybe a fifty dollar gift card to a restaurant close by or something like that if the person they refer moves in. That gets a couple of things done for me. One: they’re looking out for the house at that point…

Damon: Right.

Jeff: And two, the tenant that moves in; if they are socially connected to the block is going to stay longer.

Damon: Yeah.

Jeff: So while five or ten percent of my calls come from that source, over time the percentage of residents from that source is higher than that because they stay longer.

Damon: I see. That’s a great idea. So what percentage of time are you able to get referrals from the neighbors and actually lease out?

Jeff: Oh, it’s small. Like I said five or ten percent; typically that being socially connected to the block I will get an application from them sooner because I’ll have the neighbor show them the house, (Chuckles) and they’ll just send me the application right away, before I even have a chance to show the property. So while the leads from that source are in a smaller group, over time it becomes a larger percentage of your customer base.

Damon: OK. That idea is fascinating to me because while it may be a small percentage the quality of the tenant is going to be much higher than if you just get them from other sources. Like you were saying, they’re going to probably stay longer because they are socially connected to that neighborhood. So from all the different perspectives it’s worth making the effort to do that. Even though it may not happen every time, the quality is so much higher. It’s a great idea, I really like that.

Jeff: And those are just three or four marketing ideas. I think that in terms of leasing you also have the sales function. You’ve got to answer the phone. Or have your niece answer the phone and I’ve provided scripts for that. Once you go through the scripts a couple of times after that it just becomes a conversation.

Damon: Right.

Jeff: Once you realize the goal of the phone call is not to make a sale; it’s to make an appointment. So you just break it down into steps.

Damon: OK. What’s an example of the script that you gave to your niece? What was the gist of that?

Jeff: Well, there are a couple of goals. Number one is to control the conversation. When you receive the call, you can imagine, that the person who is calling is probably going through the Green Sheet line ads, calling, you know just going straight down the list. Everything that’s in their price range they’re calling on. And most of the time, the questions they have are not really questions because that information is…

Damon: It’s in there already, in the listing.

Jeff: So, in, they are just trying to get a feel for you, trying to see if they would connect well with you. But the one thing they’re worried about most of the time, what are the screening requirements? I don’t want to give you a $35 application fee if I have a low likely hood of getting approved.

The reality is it’s not that hard to get approved for a rental property. I’m going to check criminal background. I’m going to check the rental background. Lately, particularly, in the current market, the current economic climate, everybody I’m looking at has some level of bad credit. So I really want to put them at ease with that. So the first thing is, when the phone call comes.

For example, they’ll identify themselves. ‘I’m calling about the house you have for rent.’

‘Fantastic, my name’s Jeff, what’s yours?’

And then, at that point, you know, once you ask that first question, they’ll give you the answer and then I’ll just give them a short description of the property.

‘Well this is a three bedroom, two bath, two car garage home in happy town subdivision. It’s got an open floor plan. Ceiling fan in the master bedroom and in the living room. It’s got a covered patio or whatever it is. Does that sound like a good fit for your family?’

So end with another question.

Damon: So you ask these questions to control the conversation. And really, it sounds like you’re trying to connect with the person. Because the technical details on the properties you said they already know that, generally they’re on the listing. You ask questions, you get their feedback, guide the conversation. Help them feel comfortable, is that correct?

Jeff: Yeah absolutely. Absolutely. So throughout the course of the conversation, I think one of the things I want to do is make sure that I have an email address and a phone number. So, usually I have the phone that I take the calls on has caller ID so I always ask, ‘Is this, the number you’re calling from, is this a good number for you? And can I email you some photographs and a map to the property? And a floor plan?’ Or whatever I’ve got.

Damon: Just anything to be able to connect with them still, right?

Jeff: Right. Right. And most of the time, well, ‘When can I see the property?’ is one of the questions they have. And I don’t like to show one person a property. I want to schedule at least a half dozen appointments at one time. However I won’t say that on the phone call. What I’m trying to do is make a hard appointment. I don’t want to say, ‘Well I’m going to be there from six to seven on Tuesday night.’ Just say.

Damon: You want it to be a specific time that they feel some level of commitment to being there at that time.

Jeff: Right. Right. So I’ll say ‘I have six o’clock on Tuesday and two o’clock on Saturday available. Frankly I don’t believe it’ll make it until Saturday but either way, which one works best for you?’

They’ll probably make the appointment for Tuesday after that. Or whichever date is nearer.

Damon: Right.

Jeff: I’ll probably have six appointments and four of them will show up. And, I want them to pass each other because it again creates a sense of urgency that they’ll go ahead and submit the application.

There’s another process for the application with, you know, what standards are acceptable. You know, do you take the best one or the first one that meets your minimum standards? I prefer that way, because well, it, the leasing occurs quicker and it keeps you out of trouble with Fair Housing. So you just have minimum standards. You let the first one that meets those standards, and gets you the first month’s rent and security deposit to you first, that’s who gets the property.

Damon: Right.

Jeff: The idea is, again, to create a system that anybody can manage. So you get the phone call, you make the appointment, then you send them the letter by email saying, thanks for the call. Here are some pictures of the property, a map to the property. Remember as we talked about on the phone, these things go pretty quick. They’re significantly under market.

You might want to do a drive-by before the appointment. And I’ve got the window blinds open. You can see into every room from the outside. If it meets your expectations, then here’s an application as well. Go ahead and get this back to me and we can get you in even before your appointment.

Damon: Well, that’s really good advice and you’ve been sharing on your system for doing the leases. Of course you have systems for, I think you mentioned this, how to find houses, how to purchase the house, how to rehab the house, all those different steps. And of course we can’t cover all those right now.

You have so much knowledge that you’ve learned over the years that you have to share. But I think the main take-away from this, that I’m hearing as you’re explaining this, is that these systems are not complicated. You just need to understand what they are and, as you mentioned, that 20% knowledge, 80% is just get out and do it. If you’re working with people who know how to do this, you can learn as you go along. Would you agree with that?

Jeff: Oh, absolutely. I’m going through a fitness program right now, and my trainer didn’t teach me everything she knows about nutrition and everything she knows about exercise on the first day. Matter of fact, a month into it, eight pounds less, and I still just know only a fraction of what she knows, but I know enough to maintain progress.

Damon: So you knew enough to lose eight pounds and maintain that progress, right? Well, congratulations, that’s great.

Jeff: Thanks.

Damon: [laughs] That’s great.

So what would you say has been the biggest factor in your success over the last 10 years and doing all of this and generating so much cash flow and everything? What’s the one thing that you would attribute to your success?

Jeff: Well, I would imagine it’s just having the foundation. There’s a sense of peace in knowing that… I guess I don’t really know how to put my finger on it, but there’s such a foundation with everybody that I’m around. There’s no longer fear. The fear that was there in the beginning is gone.

Damon: You don’t feel that at all…

Jeff: Right.

Damon: …and that’s because you’ve surrounded yourself with other people who are doing the same thing, succeeding at it, and so your belief in it working, based on your own experience and other people’s, is just very strong. Is that what you’re saying?

Jeff: I think so. You know, it may be this. Thomas Stanley and William Danko wrote a book. Several years ago it was published. It was called, “The Millionaire Next Door.” In that book they did eleven years worth of research on where the wealth of this country is and how it got there. What they determined was easily two-thirds of the millionaires in this country became millionaires through entrepreneurial efforts. I think for me the biggest fear was leaving a job with a regular paycheck which I didn’t have to do. It took two years of doing this, of doing real estate, before I left my job.

The idea that this was where I was going seemed risky to me. Even though my dad is a contractor, a plumbing contractor, he’s got the entrepreneurial mindset. My stepfather is a restaurateur, obviously an entrepreneurial mindset. Father-in-law, real estate investor, entrepreneur. Even though I had all of that behind me it was still overcoming fear. I think the best way to do that is to use your work, surround yourself with people who are doing what it is you want to do and learn from them.

Damon: Yeah. So when you look back at it and you were in the restaurant industry, it took you about two years to build up your real estate to the point that you were able to quit that job. How has that worked out for you?

Jeff: It was funny. My mom said to me that she was asked, my daughter is almost seven, so this must have been about just under eight years ago… Well, yeah, that would work out. I’ve been doing this over 10 years. Two years after I started I quit my job. My mom was asked, “Well, how’s Jeff doing?”

She said, “Well, he’s married, they are trying to have a baby. He doesn’t have a job.” [laughter] That was sort of a family joke for awhile. For the first four of five years of my daughter’s life I didn’t work. I went out and tinkered with my properties. So for five years I was unemployed, self-employed, [laughter]

Damon: You were living off money that your investments were generating.

Jeff: Right, right.

Damon: It wasn’t a full time job based on what I’m hearing you say. You tinkered around with it. That freed you up to have time with your family, with your daughter.

Jeff: I guess about five years ago Steve Davis, the Vice President here at Lifestyles, asked me to come here and teach a few classes. So I started doing that and now I’m working with folks as a real estate agent. Getting them into the same kinds of deals that I’ve bought. As a matter of fact I had a client decide not to decide to buy a property this weekend so I’m going to buy it.

Damon: You are going to buy it? [laughter] That’s the ultimate proof that you believe in what you do, right? [laughter] Well, it’s a wonderful story that you have Jeff, because I think a lot of people who are watching this are in a job, trying to look down the road and say I really want to be independent. I want to have that kind of flexibility so I can spend more time with my family, or do things that I want to be doing. But I’m tied to this job because I need that paycheck. I’ve got to have that money.

They are looking at real estate investing saying that, “I see this as an avenue that can free me up and give me that independence and freedom but not really confident maybe that I can actually do that.” You’re a great example of just a regular guy like the rest of us who had a job, got into this, took a couple of years and then you were able to move on and do the things with your life that you wanted to. So it is a great story, great inspiration. I really appreciate your time and your willingness to share these thoughts and ideas with us. Do you have any last words to add as we are wrapping this up?

Jeff: Nike. Just take action, do it.

Damon: Just do it. Excellent words of advice. Thank you very much, Jeff.

Jeff: My pleasure.

Damon: Take care.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Leebaron2 May 30, 2011, 7:24 am

    loved the interview..keep it up…look forwad  in meeting you ..sam

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