Teamwork is an essential element of success, be it from a business perspective or from a personal perspective. As someone who works in real estate with her husband, Jana Hubbs understands this very well. Jana joins Monick Halm in the podcast to share the unique story of how she and her husband pivoted from the teaching profession to the world of real estate. She talks about their work in diverse investments in emerging markets, including multifamily investments, hotel properties, and offshore investments. Drawing from her rich experience in both teaching and investing, Jana extols the value of learning to work with others and valuing the people you work with.
Listen to the podcast here:
Teacher Turned Real Estate Entrepreneur – Interview With Jana Hubbs
I’m super excited to bring you our guest, Jana Hubbs. She is a friend that I met at the Real Estate Guys’ syndication seminar. She was one of the first people I met that first evening and I’ve been excited to get to know her more ever since. She has a super inspiring story. She was a teacher and now, a real estate entrepreneur. I love her story because it’s an amazing example of how you can begin relatively modestly, but create spectacular outcomes over time. She, along with her husband Randy, have been investors for many years. Randy is a licensed Managing Broker at their real estate brokerage firm, Tri-Cities Life Real Estate, which is in Kennewick, Washington. Jana works beside him on asset management, accounting, and developing their brand as an investment housing specialist.
They both hold Master’s degrees at Central Washington University. They spent 35 years as teachers. They were in the education field. Their real estate experience followed a parallel course with their careers in education. They’ve acquired income-producing properties in four states and two countries. Their primary focus is on B and C-class multifamily investments as well as A-class hotel property in emerging markets. They’re doing some different things and it’s fascinating. They are full-time real estate investors and syndicators and they’ve leveraged her teaching experience to help others learn more about financial intelligence, investments in hard assets outside of Wall Street, and alternative retirement strategies. I’m excited to have her here. Welcome, Jana.
Thank you, Monick. It’s a pleasure to be with you.
I love your story, and I always like to start from the beginning. How did you get started in real estate investing?
Both Randy and I started before we even got married, but our approach to real estate investing has been conservative to most because both of us spend our entire lives as teachers or administrators for the school system. Randy purchased his first investment property before we got married in 1979 with the intent that we would rehab it and then flip it. We experienced our first real estate investing lesson when the market crashed in 1980, which forced this to become our first rental house. As a result, we started to manage that particular property, which is our honeymoon cottage. We still have that particular house. It’s about 750 square feet, so that’s exciting. We’ve had the same resident there. That’s been a nice little piece.
We purchased two more homes in 1980 and then we began flipping properties in ‘97 and doing 1031 exchanges. After some of those endeavors, we decided that we needed to be more educated and began reading books on real estate and investments. It was shortly after that time that we stumbled on to our good old friend Robert Kiyosaki and the purple book, Rich Dad Poor Dad, which changed our heart and our entire approach to investing. We started to look at using capital to raise properties and being able to purchase. We started to get into looking at other people’s money as well as using equity from our other properties and purchasing our first five units multifamily property here in the local area. We started turning over our properties to a gentleman that we know and we’ve raised since he was a little tooth that took off trumpet lessons from Randy. He helped him to develop his management skills.
He is our manager and does a much better job than we ever could have. He’s professional and also a teacher. We decided that through mentors, studying more, and listening to podcasts, that we could venture out of our area and we didn’t need to drive by them, look at them, and touch them. We bought our first apartment complex in Abilene, Texas, which was a 32-unit back in 2009. We leveraged our past construction experience a year later and bought a vacant 30-unit apartment complex in Memphis, Tennessee. We went through that rehab experience from managing it from afar. That was a little bit of a different twist and experience for us, but it went well.
You started off with the one house that you were going to flip back in 1979. Where are you with your investments?
We have acquired income-producing properties in four states and two countries with our primary focus on B and C-class multifamily investments and then A-class hotel property in some emerging markets. We’re looking in the St. Louis area as well. We’ve always had our eye on that because we have family in that area, so it makes sense to be able to stay close to family, which is important to us to look at that market. We were able to look at three different apartment complexes. We’ll start the due diligence and see if everything pencils out, start to branch off, and bring more people on our team that have maybe a little bit different skills or expertise than what we have or things that maybe we like to do as much. My gig is into the numbers and that whole area, and other people’s expertise is into talking with people and doing some of that kind of stuff.
I always say that real estate is a team sport. If you try to do it alone, it’s a lot harder. If you can get a good team, especially people with complementary skills, then it works a lot better. You’re into numbers and I’m not so much into the numbers. I also work with my husband and he’s more into the numbers. I’m the one that does more of the investor relation, manage the rehab, remodel, and design. You want a good team that complements it. I love that point. I also wanted to follow up on something else you said for people who don’t understand the terms A, B, C class. The different classes of properties because I know that before I started into these terms, I didn’t understand what that means. Can you explain briefly what those terms mean for the readers?
A-class is typically brand-new construction and top of the model. It has everything that people in today’s age are looking for in a property. It has all the amenities traditionally and that type of thing. B-class and C-class, in my opinion, it has to do with the age of the property. They’re older properties. They have maybe a little bit higher maintenance or continued maintenance on them. The neighborhoods may be a little rundown. Maybe you can turn a C-class apartment into a B-class by doing some remodeling or adding some improvements to it that brings it up to curb appeal and maybe carport. Different things attract that higher-level person that wants to take care of the property more.
Also, will pay more rent. There’s some value-add there. Thank you. That was a great explanation. There’s another thing that you’re doing other than this B and C-class. You started talking about the A-class in emerging markets, the hotel resort. Tell us a little bit about that investment.
Randy and I got educated and took several classes on syndication. We took them from different people because we want to different people’s perspectives and everything. We were invited in by Robert and Russ to see whether or not we were interested in Belize. The hotel property is on the island of Ambergris Caye. When we first saw this development, it was in the beginning stages of it. Maybe a couple of years in production. We looked around and said, “This is a place that we could love because we are scuba divers.” We have been and had been with our kids as well to Honduras and several places over there on a ten-day trip. The design and everything that was part of this particular hotel project, we said it’s right up our alley.
We’ve stated some places that are similar to this and we believe in it. That’s when we were able to through communication with Robert and then get the information, work with our attorney, Mauricio. We put together what we believed was a strong perspective. We started to continue to communicate with people, help them to understand, have the passion and love for what we were doing on this island. Also, it’s to help create hotel units for people that are going on vacation and want to enjoy the quality of life in a place that is safe and secure. It has many wonderful places to eat, visit, and activities from fishing to scuba diving to plane rides and everything. That’s what we got into it and we are tickled about it.Real estate is a team sport. Get a good team and it will work so much better. Click To Tweet
It’s a beautiful property. I saw it for the first time, so we were quite a bit further along and I’ll be going. You are going, too. It is an interesting investment. One of the couple great things about having offshore investments is being able to diversify your portfolio and have different types of investments. Oftentimes, financial advisors talk about, “You need to diversify,” and they mean you need different types of stocks and bonds. If you’re only doing the same type of real estate in the same market, that too is not necessarily that diversified, more crashes or things change. It is good to have different types of properties in different places. If you’re in a different country that’s already diversified, that’s a different type of asset. It’s a resort, as opposed to an apartment building. That’s cool. I wanted to ask you if you work closely with Randy, your husband, and how is that for you being business partners with your husband?
That’s an easy one because being partners with Randy has been phenomenal. Since retiring, however, from our educational careers, I retired first and then he went part-time and then retired fully. We had to learn how to work even closer together because it’s one thing to do parallel careers with real estate, teaching, and everything. I come home, do dinner because I always cook. I deal with homework or bath, and that kind of thing. Once the kids are in bed, I come down and I’m doing my thing in the numbers in the office and that type of thing or we’re doing certain things. For him, it was before I got home. All of a sudden, we’re here together, coming down in the morning. Some people are not morning people. We have to learn how to figure out what works for each of us and honor that as individuals and not be stuck in a rut as far as, “I’m here. You’re going to have to move someplace else.”
It’s been divide and conquers as well as locked in together to work on our business and not only in our business. We also are firm believers in reinforcing and encouraging each other because it’s too easy when your partners in marriage to forget to value the other person, their thoughts, and their ideas. We work hard at making sure that we encourage and build up each other. We go set individually, but then also, we share and set goals together so that we’re on the same page personally, financially as well as our values and that type of thing. We ask for patience and we schedule a time for us together as well as for our family.
In our cart, I’m the asset manager and I manage the managers of our properties. I’m constantly dealing with our property manager. Randy doesn’t get into that at all. He is the deal guy and focuses on property acquisitions and syndications. With that, we still have to come together and brainstorm, listen to each other so that we know where each other is, but we have a place that we can each hang our hats. That was one of the tough things in leaving education. It’s like, “What am I now?” We have to realign ourselves a little bit, so it’s been wonderful.
As somebody who also works with my husband, those are good advice to set clear roles, honor, encourage one another, and take time to work on your business, not just in it, set goals, and do all that together. That’s wonderful. What has been your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?
It’s hard to measure the biggest because I’ve always said, “If you’re going to make a mistake, make a big one.” For me, as we continue to grow and learn, because we value learning, that is not accessing and delegating various jobs to virtual assistants, accounting people, marketing services earlier, so that we had more time to work on our business to network and maintain a sense of balance. In real estate investing, the one thing that we have found that typically a common thread with investors is that most people want to do everything themselves. Learning how to partner with others is part of the evolutionary process that is necessary if one has a desire to scale their business up.
That’s where our biggest mistake was. We continually struggle sometimes with that because I’m trying to figure out systems for how to monitor and make sure that things are continuing to meet our standards as we delegate that it holds up to our standards. That is treating people with dignity and respect and honoring who they are. It’s not about us. It’s about them. That’s our biggest way of doing it.
What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud that Randy and I have a strong relationship with not only being best friends but also being business partners. We’ve been able to raise healthy, financially intelligent children who are making their mark in real estate and investment opportunities. I could not be prouder of that. It’s not about the four walls of the school system. It’s about life opportunities, coming together at the table and talking, and conversations on the phone. It’s all about that. That is a proud moment for me to be able to say, “We have accomplished that and are continuing to.”
You have been successful. To what do you attribute your success?
We are both driven people or individuals. We’ve spent most of our time focusing on our goal. As a special education teacher as well as administrator, we are constantly writing and helping people to focus on measurable goals, targeted goals, breaking those down into finer steps, and that type of thing. As a result of that, we never watched TV, nor did our kids fall victim to time-wasting activities like video games and that type of thing. They did have sports activities and stuff, but because of the models that they had as parents, us, they didn’t do that either or fall victim to that. A lot of our success has been through reading books, listening to podcasts, working side by side with each other, helping each other grow, and outlining our strengths to enhance our business.
We gain additional knowledge through things like what we are going to do in Belize, Anthony Charles, one of our mentors, The Real Estate Guys, Robert Helms, and Russell Gray, mentors of ours, maintaining a healthy lifestyle of eating, and exercising properly. Making sure that that stays on the top platform. Also, being able to believe in ourselves, and committed to strong morals and values that demonstrate that it’s not about us. It’s about our investors, how we can care and put a smile on people’s faces, and help encourage them.
You’ve been doing this for many years. What advice do you have for a woman just starting out? What do you wish you’d known at the beginning that you already know?
That would be getting educated, which means getting around the right people. It could also lead to getting away from those who tend to pull you down or distract you from your goals. Believe in yourself. Pick yourself up even when you’re down and keep working towards your goal when things get hard. Life has ups and downs, whether that’s personally, spiritually, or financially, you’re going to have ups and downs and we constantly have to pick our head up. Put a great big smile on our face, and know that we can do it. Make a plan, follow up on that plan, and ask good questions.Get around the right people and get away from those who pull you down and distract you from your goals. Click To Tweet
For people who want to know more about you and connect with you, what’s the best way for people to connect with you?
It’s time for our famed end of show trinity, which is a brag, gratitude, and a desire. What is one thing you’re celebrating?
We were blessed with our first granddaughter. We are super excited to spend time with family celebrating her birthday.
I know you didn’t come after you said she’s just been born. You stayed with your new grandbaby, so congrats. What’s one thing you were grateful for?
Being healthy and happy, out of the rat race, and are able to enjoy a wonderful life.
Lastly, what’s one thing you desire?
Continued health. I certainly want to maintain that through exercise and wellness to be able to continue to move forward and contribute to our family and society in general.
More of the good stuff that you already have. So shall it be or so much better than you can imagine. That’s a beautiful trinity.
I’ll share a quick trinity. I want to brag and celebrate that my book was launched, The Real Estate Investor Goddess Handbook, and it became a number one bestseller. I’m super excited about that. I am grateful for everybody that supported the book. Thank you for buying it, your awesome reviews, and people who have reviewed it. Thank you for sharing it. If you haven’t gotten it yet, you can get it on Amazon and let me know your thoughts. We’re going to Belize, so that’s another brag. It’s a fun trip where we’re going to be re-looking at the goals that we set. I desire to meet more of my goals or surpass them, have a great trip and a wonderful year. That’s my trinity.
Thanks, Jana, for being here. Thanks to all of you, readers. We love bringing you wonderful women that are crushing it in real estate and sharing their stories so that you can be inspired and know that you can do it, too. It is all doable. It’s one step at a time, taking the right steps, and getting educated. If you want to get more education, check out the website, RealEstateInvestorGoddesses.com. We have a blog. You can read more interviews, and find out about the book and videos. There is lots of great content. We’ll talk to you next time for another great interview with a real estate investor goddess. Bye.
Thank you, Monick.
- Tri-Cities Life
- Rich Dad Poor Dad
- Jana Hubbs – LinkedIn
- [email protected]
- The Real Estate Investor Goddess Handbook
About Jana Hubbs
Jana Hubbs graduated from Central Washington University with a MEd with special emphasis in Special Education and later received her administrative credentials. She is the Administrative Assistant/CFO for Investment Housing Specialists / Equity 1 st Home Group. Jana has been investing along-side her husband, Randy, for over 39 years in single and multi-family income producing properties, not only in the local market, but in other emerging markets throughout the US and internationally.
With Jana’s teaching and administrative experience in public education, along with her vast knowledge in accounting, financial and data management, she is able to review and identify income/expense percentage rates, effectively manage property managers for their portfolio, and identify what’s either right about a situation or what needs to change before extensive time/money is exhausted.
Over the past several years after retiring from the educational setting, she has had the privilege of working closely and traveling with Randy. Jana continues to support her passion for individuals with disabilities and is working toward establishing a system for providing affordable, safe, efficient housing for adults with disabilities.