Are you tired of working a nine to five job that doesn’t pay the bills? One of the largest investments you can make is in real estate, but to get started, you have to know what you need. This episode’s guest has a great story to tell. Vicky Schettini was tired of working night and day to make it. She then took a leap of faith in real estate investing that led her across the journey of being homeless to becoming a real estate mogul. In this episode, Vicky talks about how she got into the real estate game despite having little money to invest with. She shares the things she went through from DIY-ing everything, to having 58 single-family rentals in less than five years. Get valuable lessons from Vicky about doing WIT—whatever it takes—to pivot around into creating your real estate investing empire.
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From Homeless To Real Estate Mogul – Interview With Vicky Schettini
In this episode, we’re going to be sharing a real estate investing horror story, but it has a happy ending. Our guest, Vicky Schettini, was a single mom who was tired of working night and day to make it. She was faced with her daughter’s high university tuition bills. She took a leap of faith in November 2014 to move across the country, to be closer to her daughter’s university and to start investing in real estate. The relocation didn’t turn out as planned. She’ll tell us more about it. She ended up becoming homeless in a town where she didn’t know anyone. By the time she finally got into her first home, she had only a $500 left to her name and a broken ass. She pushed through it and did WIT or whatever it took. Fast forward, she owns three multifamily complexes and 58 single-family rentals. From homeless with $500, she now has all of that. I can’t wait to share the rest of her incredible story with you. Welcome, Vicky.
Thank you so much, Monick. I am excited to be here.
I’m excited that you’re here. I started sharing some of your incredible stories, but you started real estate investing a little bit before this, before that move to 2014. Share with our readers how you got started in real estate investing.
Previous to starting doing flips, I was working as a manager at a retail store and every penny that I made was going into bills. I remember sitting one night at my kitchen table. I paid all the bills and I had $25 left. It was like, “If I get a flat tire, I can’t even afford a tire.” It was like this every single month. I knew I had to do something because that wasn’t me. I’m a hard worker and go-getter. I needed more. That was the pivotal point for me that I knew I had to do something. I started talking to other people. I started getting more involved in real estate. I was helping someone in California. I did have my license in California. I was helping them get leads. They kept telling me that none of the deals were going through. It turned out the deals were going through. They were not paying me. I decided at that point, I need to go and do it myself. I started making the right connections since as we all know, this is business is all about networking. Networking is key.
I started networking. I started doing flips in California. That was doing well. I was doing 3 to 6 flips at a time but I was getting a hard money loan. If something goes wrong and you miss that cutoff by a month, your profit keeps going down and you’re working night and day. When my daughter graduated and she was going off to the university, I had the empty nest syndrome. It was a lot. I decided to move. The funny part to it is I bought the ticket to come to see her for Thanksgiving and the same day I bought the tickets that night. I was emotional. I was missing her. I said, “That’s it. I’m moving. I’m done doing flips. I need a passive income. I need rentals.” That’s how I picked up and in two weeks I sold what didn’t fit in that trailer. I moved to Jackson, Mississippi and that was interesting.
We’re going to talk about that more in a second, but before we do that, I want to help the readers connect the dots here. You were a manager in a store and living paycheck to paycheck, barely making it. How did you go from paycheck to paycheck to being able to get a house to flip? What was your financing structure for doing that? You talked about the hard money loan, but tell us a little bit more about what you did to be able to get into the real estate game even when you had little money to invest with.
I started talking to friends and family. I told them what I was doing. Everybody knows when I set my mind into something that I’m going to do it and I don’t give up. A couple of my friends had some money saved up. I didn’t have any money because I was going through the divorce and the money that I had was going to the attorney. In the first deal, we had to come up with $35,000. That was the difference that the hard money lender wasn’t paying. I raised it between four different people. I didn’t use a single dime of my money because I didn’t have it. It’s like the old saying says, “You either have the time or the money.” I have the time, not money.
This is great for our ladies, our goddesses who are reading to understand that if you’re missing anything, this is what Tony Robbins says, “There’s no lack of resources. It’s a lack of resourcefulness.” If you’re missing or you didn’t have the money, but she was able to find it by working with people who did have the money, but not the time to make their money grow. She has the time, not the money, but she was able to be resourceful and create win-wins. Let’s fast forward to Jackson, Mississippi, you’ve landed, you bought the tickets, you decided to move, and then what happened?
I sold everything that I had. I bought a 24-foot trailer because I’m on a budget, attorneys taking most of my money and I bought a 24 foot enclosed trailer. I kid you not, I don’t think you could’ve put in a little needle in there. I packed it as much as I could. The rest got sold and I moved across the country to Jackson, Mississippi. I had talked to someone ahead of time that I was buying a house from her. The only thing I was going to come is come to Jackson, sign on the dotted line and I was going to get the key. She was going to owner finance me. It was a great deal.
The whole trip I’m talking to her, all about an hour before getting to Jackson, she stopped responding to my calls, my texts and emails, nothing. I get to Jackson and I’m like, “What do I do? Where do I go?” I needed to go somewhere. One night I stayed at a hotel and it was a nice hotel and I thought, “Maybe her battery went dead.” The next day, nothing, I’m stressing out. I’m still trying to contact her but now I started calling agents. I started driving the neighborhoods, finding for sale by owners because I was going to talk to an owner and see if they’ll finance me, tell them my story. I made great connections doing that. A lot of the people I was talking were local investors here and telling them my story. It was surprising how many people wanted to help me. I’m getting chills just even talking about it.
One of them said, “I have the perfect house for you.” I had looked at a few houses and she said, “You would not do well in that area. You need to be here.” She took me to a different part of town. She was right. It was a better part of town. I loved the house. It was a 1950 house. It had been one owner there. He had built the house, he had passed away and nothing had been done to that house. The carpet was still a 1950 carpet and you could tell they had some accidents on the carpet. I didn’t care. I just wanted a home. The problem was it was in probate. We all know probate takes a little bit. It took a while for me to be able to get in. In the meantime, I’m staying every week. I started at a nice hotel then I went to a nice motel and then an okay motel. It kept going down every week because I was running out of money. That was fun.Doing what you promise people to do is the key to real estate investing. You have to stick to it. Click To Tweet
The actual seller that was selling me the house, he was an investor and he said, “Vicky, I have a vacation home on the lake and I don’t have it rented, the next week you can come to stay in my vacation home.” I thought, “How nice.” They’re helping me. They’re financing me. I’m going to stay at his vacation home. I go to the vacation home. It was this two-story home. I never went upstairs. It was winter. For some reason, this time I go upstairs, the carpet had a rug and I’m wearing socks. I went upstairs, as I’m coming down, I slipped. I bounced all the way down to the bottom of the stairs. I have a broken tailbone.
The next week I had to go to a motel because he had it rented already. I go with a broken tailbone. You have to sit on those donuts. It’s a gross motel room, the carpet was dirty and my thoughts were, “Do good for it.” At that time I was getting depressed, to be honest with you. It was depressing because you didn’t know when the court was going to finish for me to move in. I couldn’t move in ahead of time. I have a broken butt, everything was coming down. At Christmas, I couldn’t even go see my daughter because I couldn’t make the ride. Everything was piling on. I decided I wanted to get a dog. You know how hard it is at Christmas time to get a dog with minimal funds. It was challenging. I got a rescue dog, which besides me saving him, he saved me. I needed to give back on my feet. Right before New Year, I was able to get into the home, finally, and I had $500 left.
You had to update this home.
Now comes the challenging part. For some reason, I have this fascination with tools. Even though I didn’t know what 90% of those tools did, but I liked tools. I had $500 and I have to eat, I have to pay utilities and I have to fix his home. I started selling the stuff that I wanted to keep that I brought on that trailer, I sold it on eBay. During the day, I would sell at eBay and make money that way. The only thing I needed to do was buy the material and eBay paid for the materials. For my utilities, food and at night, I would go on YouTube and Pinterest. I figure out how to do things. You’d be surprised how creative those two are.
I know it, you can do well DIY if you need to.
It was fantastic. It was funny because I’m watching videos. They would have their tools and I’m like, “I have that tool. Now I know what it’s for.” I didn’t have to buy tools. I had them. I started doing the house. I would work eBay to about 5:00, quit working on the house about midnight and then look at a video, YouTube or Pinterest on what to do the next day. It took me a while to do that. The only thing I did to hire somebody was I had a roof leak right by my front door. I hired somebody to patch the roof and then my AC went out. I hired somebody to come and fix that. Those were the only two things that I hired somebody to do. The rest, I did it.
You’re in this house. You’re DIY-ing everything and bootstrapping to the nth degree. Give us the abbreviated version. Tell us how you got that one and then how you went from there to 58 single-family rentals in less than five years. How did you do that? What caused that exploration?
It was a slow start. Keep in mind, the first three houses, I would finish one, get it rented and then I go to the next one. The first three houses, I did by myself.
Were they all seller financing?
They were all seller financing, all of them. The first one, I still have that one. That one is the baby, so it’s going to stay with me for a long time. They’re all seller financing. I got a helper. I was managing them myself too. As I would get them rented, think about it, my payment was in that one house, I was paying $350. I got it rented for $975, so I was rich. I was doing well. My utilities and my foods were paid. I had a little money to buy more stuff that I could sell on eBay. Every time I would rent another one, I was making $600 and it kept adding.
After the third one, I was able to do two at a time with my helper. It was focus. I was determined and I was focused on what I had to do. I am good with numbers, that’s the one thing. I’ve always liked numbers. I had everything down to a T, what I was going to spend on everything. Doing all this on eBay helped me because still to this day, I buy a lot of materials from eBay, certain stuff. Certain things that I’ve found, Home Depot is a lot more expensive when I can get both on eBay. It helped me a lot. I kept doing it and I didn’t do anything else but work. Anytime that I head off, it took probably about six houses that I was able to finish eBay finally and then start concentrating on more houses.
Having six houses rental, I’m getting more money coming in and then I’m able to buy some houses that didn’t need fixing. Some of them were already rented. Can you imagine? I’m buying rented houses already and I didn’t have to do anything. After the sixth one, it took off. I did take nine months off because I had a friend of mine that knew I was here. He was buying an apartment complex. That was something that was in my goal. I was going to buy my apartment complex, but I had never done it. It can be a little bit intimidating when you’ve never done to go and get into something. He bought it and he said, “Here it is,” with no help where to even start.
I remember sitting at my desk and thinking, “Where do I start?” I had to put the mentality like, “If this is my apartment, where would I start?” Of course, you’re going to start with the tenants. I taught myself for nine months. I worked for free for him, managing and bringing up his apartment complex. What I’ve learned there, I couldn’t even pay for that education. It was amazing. I did such a great job that the word got out, how I brought these apartments up that another out-of-state owner that had an apartment complex here called me and said, “Can you do the same things for me?” I said, “Of course.” I went and I did it for him and he was burned out and I said, “I’ll buy him off of you, but I don’t have any money.” He said, “How about if you do a lease option for one year? If you made your payments on time, then you can buy him.” That’s what happened. I bought those apartments with zero money down with a lease option for one year. I did what I promised. That’s the key, what you promise people you have to do. You have to stick to it. I did that. That was the first apartment that I got.
How many units was that?
That one was 26 units. It’s a small one, but it was big for me.
That’s big for a lot of people. Are all of those were around Jackson?
All of these are around Jackson. I was managing myself but most of the things that I’m doing are in Jackson. I’m not doing my management because I’m getting into quite a few more things and it does take a lot of your time. I finally passed it over to a management company. I had to do it because I had to learn how to do it and what not to do and figure things out. I’m one of those people that I have to learn before I go tell somebody else to do it.
That makes sense because then you know exactly what they’re supposed to be doing and you can be a much better manager. What an inspiring story. The beginning was quite harrowing, but the way that you’ve been able to do so much with having no money to invest in from the beginning is inspiring.
One of the things my mom always taught me, and you hear me say WIT all the time and that’s my thing. My mom said, “You do WIT, you do whatever it takes.” When I was homeless, my mom kept calling me she said, “Come back home,” but failure is not an option. With anything that you do, how many times do you hear people say, “I’m going to do this, but if that doesn’t work out, I’m going to do this other thing.” You already know it’s not going to work out because you gave yourself the escape clause. In any business, you’re going to have that downtime and that’s the first time you have that downtime you’re going to take off. I committed to doing this, I had to figure out how to do it and you have to think outside the box.Set your goals, set a path, and stick to it. Click To Tweet
Listening to your story, it’s clear that it was not easy, but you’ve had a lot of success. One of the things I love to ask all of my guests is, what was your biggest mistake? We learn much more from the mistakes and from the failures that we do and from the success stories. What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?
My biggest mistake is not opening my horizons if that’s the way I want to say it. Coming from California, I was pretty much a California person. I never thought I would ever leave California. I just wanted to stay there. The market in California, obviously you can get rentals but there is no way I was going to be able to afford that. I like to have security. In California, if you lose a tenant, you have a $1,500, $2,000 mortgage. In Jackson, if I lose a tenant I have $350 mortgaged. How easy is that for me to make that on eBay? It’s easier to do it because you can come up with that. Instead of staying in my backyard, being open to other areas, it was my biggest mistake. I should have done that years ago, move to Mississippi or wherever. My goal was to always have passive income and I was going to get to it but not in the timeframe. I only had four years, that was my goal four years to buy 60 houses and I made it in way less than that. I wouldn’t have got that way with the funds that I had as fast. I would’ve got there but not as fast as I did.
At least in Los Angeles where I am, you could probably get ten plus houses in traction for the cost of one house here. You can go a lot further and a lot faster in the right market. What are you most proud of?
My daughter. She’s amazing. She’s been the reason why I pushed hard. I only have one daughter. I can’t say enough about her. She’s great. I want to build a legacy. One day she’s going to have grandkids, I’m not going to be here probably and she’ll say, “Your grandmother did this.” It’s the legacy and my daughter.
What advice do you have for a woman who’s starting out? If somebody who’s maybe like where you were when you were going through the bills and going, “I don’t know how I’m going to pay. How am I going to eat because I’ve spent almost everything on the bill?” If there’s a woman out there like that wanting to get started, what advice you have for her?
I’d probably say first is they need to make their goals. You need to know your why. You need to know what is it that you want, that’s the most important. My why is going to be different than your why. They need to write down their goals and do it. Set your mind to it. As women, we’re creative. We’re good. If your child needs something, maybe they got into a sport in school, I had that budget of extra $25. I couldn’t afford to buy her uniform or whatever they need. They’re going somewhere with the school and you don’t have the money. You figure out a way to buy her that uniform. You figure out a way to send her to that function, whatever they have at school. That’s what we’re good. We’re good at being creative and figuring out how to do things. The same way you figure out how to buy the uniform is the same way you’re going to do this. Sit down, have one-on-one time, figure out what is it that you want, write it down and then get up and do it, the same way you figured out how to buy that uniform.
Two quick last questions before we go into our trinity. What’s the one thing that you wish you’d known at the beginning that you now know?
I would probably say is to have more confidence in me. I’m at the point that I realize that I can do anything that I set my mind to. When you don’t have the money and you only have that $25, when I was writing down 60 houses, it was completely out of my reach. I didn’t think that was attainable. The main thing is to set your goals, set a path and stick to it. I had it down that every week, it was 60 houses I needed in four years. That’s fifteen houses a year. That’s one and a half a month. I had it down, my whole goal and what I needed to do. Have the confidence that you can do it and push through. Had I believed in me and have more confidence from the get-go, I would have done this a lot sooner.
I’m glad that you did do it. I’m glad that you’ve shared your incredible story with us. For women who would like to know more about you or connect with you, what’s the best way that they can do that?
They can give me a call or Facebook. They can call me at (951) 445-8852 and I’ll be more than happy to help. Believe in yourself, set goals and you can do it, anybody can. There’s no difference between the people that have done it than ourselves. We can do it.
We’re going to do a trinity. A trinity is a brag, gratitude and a desire. It’s how we end every show. What’s one thing that you’re celebrating? What’s your brag?
I am celebrating being a woman in charge. I feel nothing can stop me. Anything that I want to set myself to do, I will do it. You can’t tell me no because that’s not an option. I will figure out a way to do it. I brag about that. My mom was telling me, “Why don’t you buy a hotel in Vegas?” That’s a possibility, you never know. Whatever I set my mind to, I can do it. I know I can.
Well bragged. What’s one thing you’re grateful for?
I am grateful for my family, my mom and my daughter. My mom is my rock and my daughter is amazing. I’m getting emotional because they’re great, but I’m grateful for them.
Last but not least, what’s one thing you desire?
Remember how I told you about the dogs that I got and you can hear my dog, when I rescued him but he rescued me too. I want to do a rescue. I bought the house already and I’m getting it started. I’m excited about this. I bought a house that I’m setting up all for rescue dogs. I’m only taking small dogs and it’s called Mr. B and Diva’s LoveShack. I’m going to rescue dogs. They can stay there for as long as they need to and if they get adopted, they get adopted. I realize that’s my second passion would be to rescue dogs.
So shall your desire be or so much better than you can imagine.
I’m excited too. I want to give a brag and gratitude to you. To share with the readers, she found me on Google and shared her incredible story and I said, “We need to have you on the show. This is great.” We had a couple of phone conversations and I was telling her about the Wealth Through Real Estate. If you guys want to join us go to WealthThroughRealEstateEvent.com and use the code wealthy, if you want to get a nice discount. We have a few tickets left. I told Vicki about this and she said, “Do you need help?” I said, “Sure. I always need help” She said, “I found some tickets. I’m coming to LA and I’m going to help you.” She is an incredible woman. I’m like, “Are you serious?” She’s like, “Yes, I’m coming to help you.” I bragged. This is sisterhood. This is what it’s like to have a sisterhood of goddesses. This is what a goddess does. They show up for you. I’m able to create that where a woman would show up for me like that. I’m bragging that, but I’m grateful for you, Vicky, for doing that.
I am all about helping and getting everybody to get ahead. If you need me to go clean the toilet, if you need me to stand at the door, whatever you need me to do, I’m there and it’s going to be fantastic. It’s going to be amazing and then we can plan for the next one.
I can’t wait to meet her in person and give her the hugest hug. Hopefully you guys reading out there will also be joining us. I have hugs for you too. I’m excited about the event. Vicky, I’m thrilled to see you there. Everyone reading, thank you and we’ll see you on our next episode.
About Vicky Schettini
As a single mom, she desperately wanted financial security for her daughter and herself. She set out to make the right connections as she learned to flip houses in California. Although she had early success, legal expenses from her divorce were extracting all the profits. Undeterred, she was determined to build wealth as well as a legacy for her family. In 2014, her daughter graduated high school and started college. Vicky then decided to to take a leap of faith and relcated to Jackson, Mississippi to be close to her daughter. After several setbacks that left her homeless, she was finally able to close her first home with only $500.00 to spare.
From those humble beginnings, Vicky stayed focused and driven and ultimately founded WIT (Whatever It Takes) Property Finders. She owned and owns several multi-family complexes and over 100 Single Family Residences (SFR), retail and commercial buildings. In the last four years, Vicky has executed over 1000 traditional and non-traditional transactions ranging from flipes, buy & hold, notes, wraps, partials, and wholesales of single-family residences, multi-family complexes, storage units, mobile home parks, etc. that amount in total to over $72 million in Real Estate.