Are you sick and tired of the 6-day, 8-hour job in the corporate world that prevents you from doing the things you love? In this episode, Kathy Kennebrook, known as the Marketing Magic Lady, sits down with Monick Halm to share the story of how she gained financial freedom in her transition from corporate to real estate. Kathy worked for 20 grueling years in the corporate world before she finally decided she’d had enough and jumped into the world of real estate, where she’s sold hundreds of houses without using her own money or credit. If you feel that you want to spend more time with your family or give more of yourself to helping others while being financially independent, this episode is for you. Kathy shares indispensable advice and strategies on how you, too, can make the jump into real estate and get to live financially free.
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Becoming Financially Independent: From Corporate To Real Estate With Kathy Kennebrook
I am excited to have with us, Kathy Kennebrook, who has been crushing it in real estate for over twenty years. She’s done a lot of things. She’s bought and sold hundreds of properties using none of her own money or credit. She holds a degree in Finance and has co-authored the books, The Venus Approach to Real Estate Investing, Walking With the Wise Real Estate Investor and Walking With the Wise Entrepreneur. She’s the nation’s leading expert of finding highly qualified motivated sellers, buyers and lenders using many types of direct mail marketing. She is known throughout the US and Canada as Marketing Magic Lady. She put together a simple step-by-step system that anyone can follow to duplicate her success. I’m excited to have her with us. Welcome, Kathy.
Thank you for having me on the show. I love working with women.
Me too, that’s why am I doing this. It’s different doing it in this feminine way. I want to ask you about that, but I like to start at the beginning. How did you get started in real estate investing because that’s not where you started your career?
I spent twenty years in the financial sector, working in the banking industry and Corporate America. After about twenty years, I decided I hated Corporate America. I walked into my job one day and quit. I said, “That’s enough. I’m done.” I took on some other types of independent contractor type of work. I was running phone rooms and doing all different kinds of things. I was up late one-night watching an infomercial on how to buy houses with no money down. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if that worked?”
I contacted one of my customers who happened to be the person who ran our local club meeting in Tampa, Florida. I am from the West Coast of Florida. I said, “Does this real estate investing stuff work?” He goes, “Of course, it does. Come to some of our meetings and make that determination for yourself.” We started going to some meetings and seminars. We started buying a whole bunch of books, tapes, and programs and put them on a shelf never to be seen again. After about a year, we had spent over $13,000 on books, tapes and programs and we had done absolutely nothing.
I told my husband, “I want to buy one house because I want my money back,” and the rest is history. We got into the direct mail marketing a lot. I am quite the extrovert. I have the big mouth and all that good stuff. My husband is quite introverted. We were trying to figure out a way to make it easier for him to work with the sellers. What we realized quickly is everybody else had the same problem and same thing, the sellers and the other investors that we were working with. That’s how the direct mail got developed.You have to jump in with both feet, make that change, decide what you're going to do, and move forward. Click To Tweet
We started working with a lot of motivated sellers. I’ll tell you that women have a huge advantage when it comes to working with sellers in the real estate market. Women enjoy working with other women and men like working with women because there’s no testosterone and competitiveness and it’s easy to put a deal together, which is why I like working with the women in this industry. The rest is history. We’ve done hundreds of deals since then.
We do a little bit of everything. We’ve never locked ourselves in any one particular niche. We do single-family homes, condos, small multifamily, urban commercial and wobbly boxes, which is what we call those mobile homes down here in Florida. I like to get land, so we do a lot of vacant lands as well. A few years into that, I ended up getting into teaching. I was asked to teach by a couple of major trainers out there, so that’s how I got into the teaching end of things. I’ve been doing books for a long time.
I love your story and I want to unpack a couple of things. First, you’re working in banking for twenty years. What made you go in and say I quit without another job? What got you to that point where you’re like, “I’m done?”
I was working 60 hours a week and I was putting 100,000 miles a year on my vehicle. I was never home. Corporate America is very backstabbing. I didn’t like it that much and I got fed up. The other part of it was, to be perfectly honest, my dad and my husband’s dad passed away early, so we said, “Is this what the rest of our life is going to look like?” It’s like, “No, it’s not.” I walked in and quit and said, “I’m doing something different. I’m not doing this anymore.” You have to reach a point where you want to make a serious change. That’s what it is.
I totally can resonate. I remember I’ve been working at this law firm. I started my career as a lawyer. I was sitting there going, “I feel like I’m in a pie-eating contest where the prize is more pie and the pie is like a poo-poo prize.” It’s like, “Disgusting pie. What am I doing here?” I was getting physically sick from the stress and I quit with no plan B and no safety net.
That’s the best thing that can happen because it’s not like you have a whole big nest egg that you can lean on, which would make you procrastinate. You have to jump in with both feet, make that change, decide what you’re going to do, and move forward. From the mindset, it was the perfect place for me to be at that moment.
I want you to tell us a little bit, what was that first deal that you did? For a year, you’re buying stuff and all these. They’re collecting dust and then you’re like, “I’m doing this.” What was that first deal that you did?
The first deal was with the rehabber from Hades. It was an incredible lesson that, looking back today, I would not change anything, but at the time, it was terrible. At that point, my husband was still working his full-time job. We bought this horrible rehabber in a neighborhood that I should have known better than to buy-in. We ended up buying that house and we did all the rehab by ourselves. He’s working all day and we’re rehabbing all night. He’s yelling at me, “If I wanted another job, I just go get one.” We got through it. We didn’t budget enough money for the rehab. We ended up going to Home Depot and using Oops paint to paint it. It ended up being three different screamy colors. It’s a serious story.
That particular neighborhood later turned into an arts community and everybody followed in our footsteps and started painting their houses all these funky colors. About four years later, HGTV came out and did a segment with our house called What’s Up With This House? It turned out in the end to be a great story but I was underneath that house and it was unbelievable. I’m on the roof doing joists and all that stuff. Now, I wouldn’t trade that lesson for anything because I can look at a house now and see things that the normal person probably wouldn’t because we went through everything. We replaced windows, doors and floors. It was unbelievable.
In the end, did that house make you money or at least it made you some publicity?
It gets even better. We ended up doing a lease option on that first property. We didn’t flip it. The folks stayed in that house and exercised their lease option sixteen years later. Everything funky that could happen was that very first deal. We ended up with a conventional mortgage on that house. We didn’t know what private lending was yet. By the time they ended up exercising their lease option, they had near paid off that mortgage because they’ve been in there sixteen years. We made money every month they were in the house. In the end, when we cashed out with those same people that have been in there for sixteen years, we made money on the house. It turned out to be a beautiful deal in the end.
You learned so much. Maybe you’ve already answered this question, but this is my favorite question to ask. What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?
It was everything. We didn’t calculate enough money for the rehab. We probably paid a little bit too much for it at the time. We bought in a neighborhood we never should have bought in at that particular moment.
What was wrong with the neighborhood?
Hookers and drug deals. It was bad. What ended up happening was the neighbors got fed up with that whole scenario and people started taking their video cameras. They were taping drug deals, prostitution, and stuff like that. They were feeding all this information to the police department. The police started coming out and doing a lot more in the neighborhood. As a matter of fact, we owned that house for about six months and there was a neighbor outside playing with a laser pointer.
Another neighbor got mad about it and they got into a shouting match in the street and a lot of neighbors came out. The neighbor went in, got a shotgun and shot sixteen neighbors. Interestingly enough, what happened with that was that was right before we finished the rehab, and my husband’s like, “We’re selling our house. We’re moving in because we’ll never.” What happened is it had the opposite effect.
We had our signs out front about a lease option and everything and many people were driving through the area to see where this happened that we got a ton of people that wanted to lease option the house because they figured that the police would have a bigger presence in that neighborhood after that happened. It became a joke in the first year or two that I was speaking that anytime I want to lease an option or rent a house quickly, we’ll just arrange an incident thing. The whole deal from beginning to end was odd and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Probably after that, everything else is like, “There are no mass murders here.” What are you most proud of?
There are so many things. I am proud to have the opportunity to be out in the field teaching other women what I have spent many years learning and perfecting. That is one. I am proud to have six incredible grandchildren that I have gotten to spend a lot of time with. I was there for the birth of every one of my grandchildren because there’s no more time clock and no more can I take time off and all that nonsense. Ladies, you can do this. You can do whatever you put your mind to and figure out the thing that works best for you and your life. You can absolutely do it. I am proud of where I am, where I’ve come from, and everything that it’s taken to get here and to have the opportunity to be out there working with other women and making them successful.
Tell us a little bit about your direct mail marketing system. How does that work?
What I’ve done is I created a direct mail marketing system. It’s a machine. What it does is we have twelve different direct mail campaigns and they’re all in one manual so when they get my system, they have all twelve direct mail campaigns. The letters are very targeted toward a specific type of seller. We have out-of-state owners, quitclaim deeds, vacant properties, military transfers, free and clear property. There are twelve different direct mail campaigns. What we want you to do is figure out what your demographic is and focus on the direct mail campaigns that will work best for you in your market.
For example, I live in the geriatric capital of the world because I’m down here in Florida and in the vacation area of the world. We do a lot of out-of-state owners, quitclaim deed mailings and estate mailings because that’s what my market is. That’s what my demographic is. We teach you how to put a response mechanism in your mailings so you get all the information from the sellers from the beginning. When the deal hits your desk, you already have the information that you need and photographs from the sellers, typically, to decide whether or not you have a deal there. We’re taking out the obstacles and getting rid of the sellers that are not motivated. It teaches them how to develop a long-term marketing system that’s a machine that’ll bring them deal after deal. That’s the short version.
Letters have never been a strategy that I’ve used, but I can see how it would be helpful. How is that direct mail strategy working now?
The market is starting to shift. This is bizarre in the pandemic situation that we’re in and the market is shifting. You have people in lockdown crowded cities like New York, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles that are moving away, so the population of the country is shifting. For example, they’re all coming here. We all want to be in Florida where the sunshine is. You have people that are moving to more suburban and rural areas now. Now there are houses for sale.
If you have houses for lease option rent or retailing, houses are retailing as fast as you can sell them for ridiculous, crazy prices. Because of this market shift, you’re finding more motivated sellers that want to sell their property quickly so they can move somewhere else. What we found is that like in many other markets, because we’ve been doing residual mailings, we’re continuing to touch our sellers gently with our message. As their situations are changing, they are contacting us. The direct mail marketing is doing beautifully now like it always does.You can do whatever you put your mind to and figure out what works best for you in your life. Click To Tweet
What advice do you have for a woman who’s just starting out in real estate investing?
Get your education, first of all. I will speak to safety a little bit. Anytime that I am on my own and I am out looking at a property by myself, and it happens quite often, I always do let someone know where I am. Don’t be going out and looking at vacant ugly houses by yourself without somebody knowing where you are and without protecting yourself in some way. I had a situation a few years back that was hilarious. My husband was out of town.
I was out looking at houses and making offers and everything like that. I went to a seller’s house, and he and I got into a whole conversation. He was definitely wanting to sell his house. We were doing contracts and I was explaining all that. I forgot to call the person who my safety net was and let him know. It was like, “If you don’t hear from me in 1 or 1.5 hours,” and he comes storming to the house. I was like, “I forgot to call you and let you know where I was.”
Anyway, it’s a small safety thing being women out there. Absolutely do it. I’m not saying not to go out there. I’m saying, put that safety net around yourself. As far as being women in this particular marketplace, women have an advantage because women like working with other women, and men like working with women because they don’t feel that competitiveness. There’s not all the testosterone about who’s going to win kind of thing.
I generally do most of the deal-making and the offer-making process in my business totally because women have an advantage that way. That’s one thing I can say. Get educated, figure out what you’re doing, and don’t be afraid to jump in with both feet. The motto in my business is jump in first and fix it later. We jump in, make a mess, and then clean it up as we go. For example, back in the beginning, I had a gentleman who wanted to deed me the house for the balance of his mortgage. Taking a property subject to the existing mortgage. I didn’t know what that even was at the time. I just knew this man wanted to give me his house.
We took a piece of paper and wrote out on the piece of paper what we wanted to do and we both signed it. I took that back to my local real estate club. I hooked up with another real estate investor and said, “Help me do this.” He ended up charging me $10,000 to help me do that deal. He made $10,000 and I made $51,000. I’m good. Don’t be afraid to jump out there. Jump in, do the deal, and then figure it out as you go, and don’t procrastinate.
“I’ve got to get started now.” What do you wish you’d known at the beginning that you now know?
Probably education was the biggest key. Getting educated and learning all of the things that I’ve learned along the way. I wish there was a me back then. Having to figure all of that out as we went by trial and error was different. If I had had a me back then, that would have been awesome. Learning the value of having private lenders as a part of my team. How important was building your dream team of the people that work for you and around you going to be later on. There are a lot of lessons that I’ve learned over the years.
Before we get into our famed end-of-show trinity, which is a brag, a gratitude and a desire, what is the best way for people to connect with you and find out more about what you do?
A couple of different ways. One, my main website is www.MarketingMagicLady.com. My vacant land website is VacantLandGold.com. My Facebook pages are Kathy Kennebrook and Marketing Magic Lady – Kathy Kennebrook. My blog site is AttractMotivatedSellers.com. Come and visit. I get lots of great articles. There are videos up on all of the sites for you to take a look at and all the different things that I do. Be sure to Google me because I’ve been doing a lot of these podcasts and things like that. Check it out. There are 12 direct mail campaigns and 24 additional marketing techniques and samples of everything in the system that I sell. It’s a complete marketing package that will help you get rolling and ramp up what you’re doing in your real estate marketing business. Thank you for that.
It’s time for our trinity. What is your brag? What do you celebrate?
I am celebrating being in this business for more than twenty years, accomplishing all the goals that we’ve accomplished, being able to travel and do the things that we want to do without checking with a boss, and getting rid of that timecard. That’s awesome. I’m celebrating what we’ve been able to accomplish for many years.
What are you grateful for?
Waking up every day. Seriously, I had a near-fatal medical situation in 2013. I’m dead paddles, critical for 3 days, 9 days in the hospital. It completely changed the way I think about everything. I am grateful for every morning that I wake up, open my eyes, get out of bed, have another day to get out there, make a difference and do the things that I want to do. I hold grateful close to my heart because it’s something every single day.
Every day above ground is a gift. Last but not least, what is one thing you desire?
To do more of the same. To be able to get out there and make a difference for other people in a lot of different ways, not just in real estate. We work with some food banks and we make sure that there are a lot of people that are being fed in rural areas, seniors, children and veterans. That’s another. The desire would be to continue to do what I’m able to do every day. Also, to spend more time traveling. I’m old now, so that’s changing the way I’m thinking about things too. My oldest grandchild got out of high school and that blows me away. Time has flown. My desire is to do more of what we’re doing, be able to travel more, spend time with the younger grandchildren while they are still young, and be able to continue to get out there, teach and do deals. Also, to make a difference in my seller’s lives and make a difference in my students’ lives.Get educated and figure out what you're doing. Click To Tweet
So shall your desire be or so much better than you can imagine under grace and in perfect ways.
I appreciate it.
Thank you, Kathy. That was wonderful. You can connect with Kathy on MarketingMagicLady.com or VacantLandGold.com. Search for her, Kathy Kennebrook on Google and she’s going to pop up all over the place. She’s amazing. You can connect with me at REIGoddesses.com. There you can find out about our education programs where we help women create passive income streams through real estate investing and our investor club for passive investing opportunities. Definitely subscribe to the podcast, like it and share it with your friends. Come back next time for another episode. Bye-bye.
Bye. Thank you.
- Kathy Kennebrook
- The Venus Approach to Real Estate Investing
- Walking With the Wise Real Estate Investor
- Walking With the Wise Entrepreneur
- Kathy Kennebrook – Personal Facebook
- Marketing Magic Lady – Kathy Kennebrook – Facebook page
About Kathy Kennebrook
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