Why I became a Real Estate Agent

  • Real Creative Group
  • 10/19/17

In July of 2014 I turned 30 years old. As most people do when they enter a new decade of their life, I began to do some self reflection. Where was I at with my life? How did this align with where I thought I would be? And where was I going?

At this point, I was entering my third year of employment at MOJO as a creative designer, my fourth year of marriage to my wife Hayley, and celebrating my son, Brecken's, first birthday. We were living in a brand new home, and had just found out we were going to have another child. Things were going pretty well, I thought.

However, something happened that caused somewhat of a chain reaction. After getting back home from a beach vacation, where we had announced to all our friends that baby #2 was on its way, we found out the devastating news that we had miscarried.

Going through this brought me to another reflection point, and really made me take a look at what was really important in my life. I realized how precious life is, and that I needed to make a change in order to live a more fulfilling life. So, I began reading.

Your level of success will seldom exceed your level of personal development because success is something you attract by the person you become. - Jim Rohn

The first book I read was Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. This is where I first discovered the potential of real estate as a means to achieve “financial freedom.” I became hooked on self improvement and began to read more books as I started applying them to my life.

That fall, Hayley and I decided she was going to leave her job of over 5 years so she could have more time to devote to being a mom. It was scary going from two reliable salaries to one, but we knew it had to happen and we would make it work. She started her own business, GAB Communications, and began working part-time from home.

As a bit of an entrepreneur myself, I became a little envious of her new venture. I had started a couple of mildly successful companies in my twenties, and the desire to being my own boss again became more and more apparent. After being denied a raise at my full time job, I knew I had to take matters into my own hands if I was going to be able to support my family.

In June of 2015, I sat down with Hayley and told her about my plan. I was going to start a real estate investing company. This was going to be our path to financial freedom and she gave me her complete support. With our Southwest credit card in hand, I signed up for a real estate investment coaching program. Figuring that at the very least, we’ll get some airline miles out of the deal.

The next few months were pretty stressful. We invested a lot of money into the program and setting up an LLC. Not only that, but I decided my first investment would be a flip, so to obtain capital I acquired about a dozen new credit cards with 0% interest and stacked them. Through balance transfers I was able to pull about $70,000 off the cards, and also racked up thousands in new debt.

Using a combination of the credit cards, hard money, and private investments (all OPM), I was able to successfully purchase a home, fix it up, and sell it for a profit. I purchased the investment property in December 2015 and sold it in February 2016. Meanwhile, I was still working my full time job at MOJO, where I was promoted to Creative Director. At the end of the day, I pretty much broke even, but the “free” education I received was invaluable.

Moving forward, I decided that if I was going to keep investing in real estate, I wanted to change my means of raising capital. Stacking credit cards was stressful and it destroyed my credit. I could use OPM, but I needed to raise my own capital and not take any shortcuts.

Also that winter, Hayley and I found out we were pregnant again, and decided that it was time to start looking for a new home. I contacted my real estate agent, Zack Bryant, and told him we wanted to move back to Pasadena where we had both grown up, and sell our Glen Burnie townhouse. We put it on the market and it went under contract in under 8 hours!

As an experienced real estate investor and house flipper *sarcasm* I knew I wanted to buy a fixer-upper. We could get in cheap and build up a ton of equity. Then I could use that equity to finance more deals. However, with the market being so hot, and inventory so low, it was easier said than done.

We ended up putting an offer on a house we really liked in the Fairwood community. It needed a lot of work, but we really liked the neighborhood. I decided that in order to make the numbers work, I would just get my real estate license and write the contract myself. We would save on the commission now and on every other house I buy or sell.

So, the Summer of 2016 I started taking my real estate classes and in about 45 days received my license. Unfortunately, after a home inspection that didn't go as anticipated, the Fairwood property did not work out. But, I still had my real estate license, and decided to join Douglas Realty with my broker Doug Smith.

Meanwhile, we had moved in with my in-laws, who were gracious enough to let us live with them for nearly 7 months while we tried to find a home. In September, we welcomed our second son, Jack, into the world. We were now officially a family of four, sharing two bedrooms in the house where Hayley grew up.

But, when one door closes, another opens. We were lucky enough to have found a home in Hunters Harbor next to my wife’s uncle that hadn’t come on the market yet. I wrote my very first contract and we settled in December of 2016, just in time for Christmas.

This brings us to 2017. In January, I decided to get serious about using my real estate license. I figured that if I could sell a few houses, the commissions I received could be saved for investing or help with extra expenses.

Aside from being an entrepreneur, I have also been a graphic and web designer for more than a decade. And my work at MOJO over the last five years has been primarily branding and marketing businesses. I’ve learned an incredible amount and have developed a genuine passion for helping others. These skills and experience have translated very well into my real estate business.

Over this past year I’ve been working dual careers. Time blocking and continuing to self improve have been critical to my success. I’ve been very fortunate to have many friends and family who have trusted and supported me. And although having two streams of income has been comforting, I’ve decided that the right move is to go all-in as a real estate agent.

My passion for design, marketing, helping others, and being in control of my own destiny were the main determining factors making this decision. I believe that my skills as a designer and marketer are aligned perfectly with selling real estate, and for buyers, my knowledge of the local area where I grew up and still call home today.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I look forward to hearing from you and seeing you around the community for years to come.

- James

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