Many stumble into real estate, while others are born into it. Veronica Woods is one of the latter, growing up in a family within the industry and later on working as a real estate advisor for her father’s firm, Daniel Woods Real Estate. In this episode, Veronica sits down with Monick Halm to tell us about her upbringing, the lessons she learned about investing, and how she got started with her first deal as an investor. Also a realtor, she then talks about her experiences renting out and living in her property, showing how being open to opportunities can take anyone to new heights. Veronica also imparts some great wisdom to women investors out there—from picking out a team to getting that realtor’s license and a whole lot more.
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An Investor-Realtor’s Guide To Creating Wealth Through Real Estate With Veronica Woods
On this show, I interview badass women real estate investors, women that are crushing it in the real estate game. Our guest is no exception. I’m super excited to have with us Veronica Woods, who is passionate about helping her clients create wealth, build a legacy, and design a dream lifestyle through real estate. Veronica is both a licensed realtor and an investor. She works as a real estate advisor for Daniel Woods Real Estate, a firm founded by her father. She was born into it. This firm supports clients to buy, sell and manage real estate in the Philadelphia metro area. What makes Veronica stand out from other realtors is her financial background.
With an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School, she can simplify the bottom line for homeowners or an investor. Something else that makes her stand out is that she is an investor. A lot of agents are not, and as real estate investors, I personally love working with agents and brokers that are investors themselves because they understand it in a different way. It’s a different thing to invest in real estate versus the house you’re going to live in, which is what most agents and brokers help people do. I’m super excited to have her with us. Welcome, Veronica.
Thank you for having me, Monick. I’m excited to chat with you.
I’m excited to have you. How did you get started in real estate investing?
It is the family business. Working for my dad was my first job. When I was fifteen, he had me help process the rent checks as he always did on property management. I thought it was boring. After going to undergrad, I worked for Wall Street for a few years, and then I went back to business school in Philadelphia. The plan was to pursue Corporate America, and then at some point down the line do some entrepreneurship, but I did grow up with an appreciation for real estate investing in the background. Besides my dad, I had a number of relatives that dabbled in real estate investing. It was never like they are huge business. It was something that was known for people in our family. They owned rental properties here and there. It was something that I was relatively accustomed to.
While working in Corporate America, I worked in finance and product management outside of the New York area. I dabbled in real estate from standpoint, I got my real estate license, and I did a rental that fell into a flip. I can tell you about that mistake, where we go wrong. I was entrenched in making money as a corporate professional, but then 2012, I got laid off from my corporate job and I got pushed into doing more entrepreneurial type endeavors earlier. The first thought was not to go into real estate at all, but I experimented with different small business consulting type projects that leverage my background, and lo and behold, I started working for real estate related companies.
From a strategic planning perspective, I helped a couple of companies that were growing construction and development for the strategic plan together. One of my clients, I helped them do an RFP to acquire city owned property to do some development, and all of a sudden, I was like, “I want to be on the operational side of real estate. I didn’t want to be writing reports and doing analysis for people.” That was probably about a few years of doing that, and then maybe about 2017, I had a sit down with my dad. I remember this coming to Jesus moment. He was thinking like, “I’m about to close Daniel Real Estate down. I’m practically retired.” He still works with 1 or 2 clients he had worked with for twenty years and they wouldn’t let him go, but for the most part, he was retired.People discount teams, thinking they want to be the hero independently. They don't realize that the most successful investors have them. Click To Tweet
He said, “From some of the activities you’ve done, you’d be good running the brokerage business. What do you think? You have the talent, if you don’t want to do it by X date.” He did give me a timeline of when he was going to close the door. I said, “Maybe I will give it a shot.” Everything changed and came into place in terms of I was full-time real estate professional and the business that’s helping clients buy, sell, and also property management in the Philadelphia area. By the end 2021, I should have my broker’s license. I’ve been working on that to take over the business formally. It’s been interesting few years. It’s not what I planned out at all. No one would have thought that I would be working in Daniel Woods Real Estate several years ago.
First of all, how lucky are you that you grew up with this in the background as something that people do? That was not something that my family did at all. Real estate was not never on the radar. That’s lucky to have that to know, “That’s something we do. We have these passive income streams. We have these properties on the side that helped fund our lifestyle, even if it’s not our main business.” Tell me about that first deal you did yourself as an investor.
The first deal I did fell in my lap. I had an opportunity to buy a triplex when I was in my corporate job. I needed to rehab it to make it rentable, but the challenges and the mistakes that I’ve seen people make, especially if they’re investing out of state or more than 30 minutes away. They put a lot of faith on the contractor or the people locally didn’t know what to do without confirming that they have the ability to do that for you. You can’t hire some people to manage things for you, but that’s not what I did. I trusted a friend of the family to do some.
I thought it was a little cosmetic work, but after a few months of delays, I started to get nervous. I got bailed out. Somebody else came in and wanting to buy it and I let it go. It’s painful for me because this is several years ago, I still drive by that place. The other people did what they need to do. It looks like a nice property. I know they’re making money and I’m always like, “That was my building. I could have had that.” You need a team together. Even if you’re not hands-on with the hammer, you need to make sure that you’re hiring the right people to do what they need to do so that you can make money.
Team is everything. What are your current investments?
Broadly in terms of my experience from a broker side, I’ve done vacant lands, small storage units, commercial store fronts, bunch of single-family and small multifamily, residential. I own a duplex, which I’ve house hacked, and then another rental property.
You have a lot of experience in particular on the side as a broker or agent. You’re getting your broker’s license, which is valuable. What is the biggest mistake and that you’ve seen your clients do or people buy but first, what was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?
A lot of people have the opportunity if they’re renting a property, and maybe this will happen again with the moratoriums and such. When I was about 23, I live in a condo and the owner went into foreclosure and I had the opportunity to buy it. This was prime Brooklyn, New York real estate, right on the border, overlooking Manhattan, but I was too scared. A lot of new people to real estate are not sure if they’re up for the challenge. That’s what it was. I had the right opportunity in front of me, but I didn’t think I was up for the challenge, so I walked away. I know that’s at least $1 million investment right now. My dad still reminds me to this day. He told me I should have bought that property. I can imagine what that can rent out right now. I thought I had to live in it forever. That’s how I got my start in investing. My first rental, I lived in and I moved. I couldn’t sell it, I rent it out, and all of a sudden, I became a landlord. That’s how I started. That was a good way to start.
A lot of people start that way, and that is a good way to start. What did you learn from that property, the one that got away, the opportunity you had, and then you didn’t jump on it? What did you learn?
I faced new battles of that now. A lot of women think they’re not ready to take the next step and whatever it is their career in investing. If the opportunity presents itself, take the steps to pull it together. Think about what would it take to pull it together? Who do you know? Think about who can help me. Instead of thinking there’s no way I can raise enough capital to buy this apartment building, I’m thinking who do I know that could help me? Who do I know that can help me get my assumptions now? Who do I know who’s good at sales? Maybe we can raise the capital. My thought is keep moving forward. I’m a big believer in the higher power in God. The resources will open up, and I pushed myself to not think that’s not what happened, but how could it happen?
That’s something that a lot of women in particular struggle with, even applying for jobs, a man will apply if they are 60% qualified based off of what it asks for. A woman will wait until she’s 100% qualified before she applies. She has to check every single box on average. This is that same tendency showing up here. It’s like, “I don’t quite have everything lined up, I can’t go for it.” It’s important. One of the things we work on in our program with this mindset piece is to know is you can be resourceful and figure it out. Who do I know that could help me get there? Anything is possible. In terms of your clients, what is the biggest mistake you’ve seen them make?
The team aspect is a big deal. Sometimes before they get to me, and you alluded to talking to a realtor who’s an investor versus not could be a different experience. I sometimes hear, “Do investors care to even talk to realtors?” That’s crazy because they have the market knowledge, so why wouldn’t you have a realtor as part of your team when you’re starting to invest, especially in the new market? They’re not sure like, “Do I have to pay this person?” They’re worried more about do they have to pay them versus the money they get make by getting the quality advice about the market and what to do. Picking the wrong realtor is also a mistake, but not even wanting to have them on the team for some people could be a big mistake, wrong contractor, wrong lender.
I encourage people to put that team together early. Sometimes people think they can whip the team together when their contracting is half drive, but it’s a lot less stressful. The more people that you can have conversations about how does this work and what are some of the things I should look out for before you’re in the trenches. You can’t predict everything, but when you have the right folks around you, and sometimes you need an attorney or accountant at the table, depending on your financial situation. People discount team and they think they want to be the hero independently, or they don’t realize that the most successful investors have cultivated this team.You don't have to get your realtor's license before you start investing. Click To Tweet
That’s an important part. You’re an agent and you’re a realtor. I talk to a lot of women that are like, “I’m going to start investing after I get my license.” They think they need to be the realtor in order to be the investor. Sometimes they think they need it. They’re trying to save that percentage and they’re like, “It’s going to save me money. If I’m the realtor, then I don’t have to do that.” What’s your answer to that for somebody who’s like, “I need to get my realtor’s license before I started investing?”
You don’t have to get your realtor’s license before you start investing. I’ve had my license in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The material is more about how to protect yourself from getting sued and compliance issues, as opposed to how to even do a transaction for a residential homeowner. You don’t learn that until you’re doing it. The best experience is doing and getting mentorship. The fees in regard to holding your license sometimes doesn’t make sense to get access to the MLS. Any realtor will run any query that you can get twice a day immediately. You don’t have to feel like you’re in the loss of getting access to MLS. That’s what I thought at first, I went to access the MLS, so I got my license, but at the end of the day, I didn’t have the experience to do anything with it, I had access to a database. That’s not enough to not lose money. If you want to help other people, I usually tell people now on Groupon, “I can get a realtor’s license for $79.” I’m like, “Do you want to help other people buy houses or do you want to help yourself? If you don’t want to develop that type of business, you don’t need to have a license.”
That’s why I tell people, it’s a different job. Its job is different. If you’re an agent or broker, that’s what you sell. You help people buy and sell houses. It is not that you want that person on your team as an investor, but you do not need to be that person as an investor. For me, I am happy to pay somebody else, especially if they know what they’re doing. They’re out there finding me deals. They’ll help me sell the deal and they’ll market it, and they’ll do the work. Unless you’re the best at that, and that’s what you love to do, let somebody that’s their job or they’re professional at that. Let them do it and you take your time to do the things that make sense for you. I get that all the time. It’s like, “I need my license.” I’m like, “You do not need your license, I promise.” Hire someone like Veronica who knows what they are doing. What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of something that you already alluded, or maybe you can see what I’m proud of, being able to take the torch from my dad. One of the reasons I’m into real estate is about the whole transferring of generational wealth and legacy. The opportunity to take what he’s built and run it to the next generation is a unique opportunity. I enjoyed learning from him. Mentorship is a big thing in real estate. There are not a lot of careers, or people don’t have the patience for apprenticeships and a lot of careers anymore. People want instant expert. I’ve learned so much working with him, both as an investor in strategy and negotiations, as well as running a business. It’s been a good opportunity.
To what do you attribute your success?
Along with learning from him, this being a sponge of learning from other people taking trainings, instead of bumping my head along the way, I realized that to seek out people that are doing what I want to do and learn from them. I know my dad’s experience was his experience, but I’ve tried to seek out developers. I have another Wharton Alumni connected within Florida. She has multiple offices. She does Airbnb. She does commercial. Trying to find people like that, that I can connect with and learn from helped me accelerate where I wanted to go.
What advice do you have for a woman who’s starting out as a real estate investor?
To be clear on their financial objectives because with real estate investing, there are a lot of shiny objects. You might hear what one person is doing, and you think that’s the only thing I can do, and then it doesn’t fit with what your financial objectives are, what your strengths are, what lifestyle you want. I caution people to think about what they want. There are many different ways to make money in real estate. That’s something I didn’t know in the beginning. You see people doing syndications like you and investing in notes, and private lending and wholesaling. There are all these sorts of things and people get caught up, and then you have to realize, what do you want to do? I’m more of a buy and hold girl. Those were the fundamentals that I grew up with my dad. You have to figure out what you want in the investment game, and not get caught up with the shiny objects or what somebody else is doing.
Final question before we get into our famed end of show trinity, which is our brag, gratitude and desire, what do you wish you’d known at the beginning that you now know?
The biggest thing is corporate Veronica wishes I got started sooner, especially with a W-2 job. I have clients that have another job and they are talking to the mortgage person. It’s a free-flowing conversation. You think, “I don’t have the time to figure it out. That’s for when I retire.” I hear some people like, “When I retire, I will start investing in real estate.” I’m like, “That’s six-figure job right now. This is when you need to start.” I encourage people who maybe don’t want to make it a full-time business but have an interest, this is a good time to start when you’re in a stable financial environment based on your job.
Before we get into our trinity, where’s the best way for people to connect with you and find out more about what you do?
I have a link from my website, DWoodsRealEstate.com/LetsConnect, and it has all my social media channels. My YouTube channel is something I’m trying to grow because I like educating, especially new investors about the things I see, where things can go wrong or what I call a five-figure or six-figure mistake that you don’t want to make. I’ve been investing a lot in trying to do more videos.
It’s time for our trinity. What is your brag? What are you celebrating right now?You have to figure out what you want in the investment game and not get caught up with the shiny objects. Click To Tweet
One thing I’m working on and I’m excited about is I’m collaborating with a financial advisor who specializes with working with real estate investors, and that’s unique in itself to find somebody like that. It’s not going to tell you to keep all your money in the stock market. We’re working on a podcast collaboration on women who invest in real estate. It was going to be focused on rental properties. I’m looking forward to it. We’re trying to launch that for 2021.
What is one thing you are grateful for?
I’m grateful for some of the different clients that I had that give me opportunities to do unique projects in real estate. I have a client that’s the head of a nonprofit. He’s pulled me into a project where we’re trying to figure out creating a new headquarters for himself of a joint venture from a local housing group. It’s the fact that I’ve had such interesting clients has had me do a non-traditional realtor experience. I barely call myself an agent because I feel like you’re putting in such a defined box, but I’ve had a chance to work on such broad types of real estate transactions. I’m thankful that I’ve had that experience in such a short period of time.
Last but not least, what’s one desire?
I want to keep it business focused. I would like to build my network of like-minded realtors in different markets across the country. Although I love Philadelphia to invest in because there are a lot of opportunities, I want to build relationships with people in other markets, especially the Southeast. I’m excited about the Midwest. That’s something I’m looking to do for 2021.
Shall your desire be or so much better than you can imagine under grace and in perfect place. Thank you, Veronica for taking the time to do this interview. It’s fun to talk with you. You can connect with me REIGoddesses.com or @REIGoddesses on the socials. You can get on the list for our investor club, find out about our passive investing opportunities, our events, do our free training, how to get started in real estate investing even as a busy professional woman, get free guides. All sorts of goodies are there for you, lots of support and resources. Check that out and subscribe to the show. Give it love, share it with your friends, and come back for another interview. Bye.
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About Veronica Woods
Veronica Woods is passionate about helping her clients create wealth, build a legacy, and design a dream lifestyle through real estate. Veronica is both a licensed realtor and an investor. She works as a real estate advisor for Daniel Woods Real Estate, a firm founded by her father, supporting clients to buy, sell and manage real estate in the Philadelphia metro area. What makes Veronica stand out from other realtors is her financial background. With an MBA in Finance from The Wharton School, she can simplify the bottom line for a homeowner or an investor.
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