“If something isn’t meant to be, there’s nothing you can do to change it. If something is meant to be, there’s nothing you can or can’t do to stop it.” – My Mom
From the time I was a little boy to the second you are reading this, I have had “the real estate bug.” The genesis for what would become my eventual career path began with one of my earliest memories. I was about 3-years old. We would go for family walks almost every evening. My only purpose at that time was to hold one of my mom’s hands and one of my dad’s, and beg them to sling me in the air as we walked. I guess I was a chunky fella’, because I would only get about 2 or 3 swings. (Dammit.) We would usually wind up at a neighborhood build site somewhere near our home. My dad, being an architect, couldn’t help himself. Any build project is catnip for these people. He had to see, touch and feel what was going on in that empty frame of a home. He would grab me and point out certain oddities or unique aspects to where this home was headed and why the builder built the home a specific way. Certainly, I was enamored – because anything my dad was interested in, I wanted to be. He would talk to me like I was a colleague, so the concepts sailed over my head at 30,000-feet. I didn’t care. As long as he was showing me something cool, I was all about it. Needless to say, the seed was planted at that time.
Fast forward to my twilight years in college. While every normal student is 3-summers-deep in internships, working on their future career; I was a student-athlete at TCU. I narrowed my focus down to football, friends… and school. That was the order. I could barely tell you what the Fortune-500 was. Didn’t care. As far as school went though, oddly enough, I loved economics. Those were the only classes I cared for or cared about. “Gimme my B- and let’s move on” was how the rest of them went. After football was over, and after obtaining my masters, I was left with what almost every athlete is burdened with after sports, “Well… what the hell now?” I figured that having an economics degree (two of them, basically) meant that I was supposed to be a financial planner or investment banker. So I gave that a whirl and quickly realized shaking my friends and family down for money was going to be an uphill battle. More importantly, nobody wanted to hang out with me in the off chance I would ask them what they were doing with their money and how stupid they are for not letting me manage it. (David was learning.) I didn’t make it 3 months before I started thinking about what I WANTED to do instead of what I should be doing. I thought for about a week what my interests were. I’m interested in many people, places and things. But outside of people I love football, and I love real estate. That’s it. That’s what I boiled it down to.
Once I knew I wanted to be in the real estate industry until the day I died, I began looking for the best opportunity. It didn’t take long to know I wanted to be on the investment side of residential real estate. I would get hooked up with a company that wholesales investment property to investors. Little did I know, the company’s reputation among the investment community was less-than-stellar. They had a certain way of conducting business that didn’t align with how I wanted to work and conduct myself. I became licensed and the very next day I was let go for it being a “bad fit.” Couldn’t agree more. As excited as I was to begin my real estate career (the right way), I was dead broke. I sold my car to pay for my real estate classes and license, betting I would sell $10,000-worth of commissions my first month. Being a type-A, competitive, testosterone-laden former athlete, I would bet on myself 10-out-of-10-times. That didn’t pay off in this case. I needed to make money. My friend Luke and his parents hired me to tear off roofs for $100/day. After a week of tearing off Spanish tile in June, I was over it. I had two degrees and $49 to my name. I had such a burning passion to be in real estate, but that had to wait. I got a call from a good friend I played football with who said his company was hiring in the oil field. I borrowed $8,000 from the bank; had my dad co-sign on the loan; bought my brother’s truck; packed my shit; and headed to Midland within 4 days. Time to learn petroleum engineering!
The oil field was an experience, to put it bluntly. 100-hour weeks, in the heat and bitter West Texas cold. People losing eyes, fingers and toes. Not to mention having to learn the alchemy of how hydraulic fracture equipment is supposed to create oil. That will grow you up quite fast. Not much else to tell. It’s the Wild West. But there’s definitely enough down-time within those 100 hours on the clock and in the middle of what feels like Comanche Territory. If I wasn’t taking a power nap, I was reading a real estate book. I think I read almost a dozen in the year I was out there. After I finished a book or a podcast, I would visualize my life and career in real estate. It’s still glorious! I paid off some debt and built up my nest egg to the point where I was very comfortable. Almost at the same time, oil prices fell through the floor (this was 2015). Every oil company was scrambling to keep its head above water until they could figure out how to get smart with company resources. That meant cutting bonuses/paychecks. Once I realized I could make the same amount of money back home in DFW, and work 40% of the hours, I left as quickly as I showed up. As the half-wit, pop-culture line goes, “See ya never.”
Back in Fort Worth, I was a mineral buyer for a start-up. It will always be the best job I’ve ever had. (Shout out to the Vine boys. Love you.) That job was a blessing. Firstly, it was real estate just… below the ground. Second, you learn the entire real estate process, hands-on. You learn how to run title; how contracts are written and what their purpose is; what the roles are for each person in the transaction; and heavens… you WILL learn salesmanship. I discovered just what a VP, a number-cruncher, an admin staff, a sales manager, and four monkeys on telephones were capable of. To call a person out of the clear blue sky and get them to part with their birth right (mineral acres) over the phone, without ever physically meeting them, is almost laughable when you think about it. I’m convinced it’s the toughest sale in the world. But that’s what we did, honorably and respectfully. That being said, it was still the oil business. Once prices dropped further, the money used to buy minerals had to be allocated elsewhere for the time being. Although I wouldn’t be buying minerals anymore, I felt primed to get back into real estate full-time.
Now, when I say I wanted to get back into real estate, I figured it would again be in the investment side or the sexy side: commercial. Before I could make my decision, a close family-friend of ours approached me with a possibility. David Russell has been a Realtor for about 13 years here in DFW. He’s earned Best of D Magazine every year since 2013 and his business has grown exponentially since he made the career change. If you take real estate out of the equation, you’d have a tough time challenging his character and integrity. So, I gave him my time to hear him sell me on the idea of joining his team to be a mentee and a partner with him and his wife, Lisa. (Yawn… Do not want to be a Realtor. But whatcha’got?) He explained what it would take to be successful, the impact I would have in someone’s life and what my life would look like if I were selling 30, 40, 50 homes a year. Plus, freedom to run things my way (again, Type-A) and have his knowledge at my ultimate disposal. I gave it some thought, analyzed my budget, and attended an open house with him. I wanted to get a feel for this Realtor thing before I committed. I didn’t know a damned thing about residential retail real estate, and figured I would just be a fly on the wall. As people walked in, I couldn’t help myself. I wanted to know about every person and family that walked in: Why they were looking, where they were from, how many kids they have, what are their names, how long have they been in the area, what’s important to them. Basically, what I ask everyone I meet anyway. After we were done, I was puzzled. I had fun, but didn’t feel like I really worked or did anything. He told me, “If you do this correctly, this is the job. You get people to know you, like you and trust you. Then, you help them.” I paused and asked, “So… the job is pretty much making friends.” “Yes.” He replied. I have never been so excited. Since then, as I build my business, web presence and write this blog, that’s all I have focused on. Of course, I believe every Realtor who represents someone needs to be knowledgeable, competent and focused. (Do something else if you’re not committed to that.) But I’ve subscribed to the fact that if I just be myself, make friends, and help as many people as possible, I’ll build a business that I’m proud of and have relationships that last a lifetime. I’m glad I sat down that day with David Russell. Being a Realtor is the perfect fit and – God willing—will be my way to help folks in my neighborhood; support my family and give back to society one way or the other. That’s how I got here. Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed it. The rest of my blog entries will not be about my personal life. They will be about real estate in general and situations I am in or have been in to bring value to my readers/clients/future clients. But, if my story helps you get to know me better or helps inspire you in some way, then it has served its purpose. Looking forward to sending everyone my next one!