Meet Attiyah Blair. She’s a multifamily real estate investor who focuses on rehabbing distressed properties. With her company, The Real Estate Reset, she is turning these properties into beautiful homes. One of Attiyah’s goals is to share her knowledge about real estate with aspiring women in the industry. Join your host, Monick Halm as she talks to Attiyah Blair about her career. Learn why she shifted her career path from being a TV producer to investing in real estate. Listen in to know some tips to succeed in the business.
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Investing In Your Career: From TV To Real Estate With Attiyah Blair
In this episode, I interview incredible badass real estate investing goddesses, women that are crushing it in the real estate investing space. My guest, Attiyah Blair, is certainly no exception to that. She’s so badass. She’s a multifamily real estate investor, a real estate mentor and a licensed realtor in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Her company, The Real Estate Reset, focuses primarily on rehabbing severely distressed properties and turning them into beautiful homes for Philadelphia residents. Attiyah also specializes in short-term rentals. She’s been investing in real estate since 2007 when she was only 23 years old. She’s passionate about sharing her wealth-building knowledge with other women and other aspiring real estate investors. Her signature mentorship program teaches her students how to build a million-dollar real estate portfolio in one year. Before becoming a real estate investor, she worked for NBC, CBS and Fox News for ten years. Welcome, Attiyah.
I’m glad to be here, Monick. It’s good to see you. It’s good to be with everyone.
You have an incredible story. You’re working on TV, big stations. What got you into real estate investing, especially so young?
I was always fascinated with real estate. I stumbled upon a picture not that long ago of me holding my niece. I’m nineteen years old in this picture and my niece was a few months old. In the picture next to me, there’s a book. It’s Home Buying 101 and I’m nineteen years old. I’m like, “I’ve been thinking about this a long time,” but interestingly I never considered going into real estate full time until I left my full-time job. When I bought that house at 23, I wanted to be a homeowner. I didn’t have a lot of money but I had a lot of determination. Living paycheck to paycheck, I scraped together my coins and bought this first house. It was the start of a multimillion-dollar real estate portfolio and I didn’t even know it.
This first property was for you to live in. You’re saying, “I’m going to buy my own home to live in.” That’s what a lot of people think of when they think of real estate. What made you go from that to being an investor?
When I bought that first house, I knew that was going to buy a house that I can rent out easily because I was living in North Carolina, working for NBC News. I have no family down there. I’m super family-oriented. I knew I would come back up North to be closer to my family. The goal was to buy something for me to live in instead of continuing to pay rent while I was there. I lived there for eleven months and then I rented it out, not even a full year, and then I moved to Philadelphia. The transition wasn’t immediate. I still worked in television for another 3 or 4 years after that. That was 2007. I left TV in 2011.
When I left television, I knew that entrepreneurship was for me But I still didn’t think about real estate investing. I loved speaking. That’s what I was leaving to do, but it didn’t quite work out the way I thought it would. Initially, business was hard. I was struggling to find my lane per se. I got to the point where I was like, “I have two options. Either I need to figure this out or figure this out.” I knew going back to get a job wasn’t for me. The thought made me sick to my stomach. I said, “I love real estate. Let me try a flip.” That first flip went so well that I made more money on that first flip than I did all year in my struggling business. I shut that business down. I said, “Bye-bye, clients. It’s been nice.” I went full-time in real estate and that was a few years ago. That’s been for fourteen years but I’ve been full-time in real estate for a few years. That’s when this whole thing took off when I focused on it.
You were saying you rehab severely distressed properties. Is that the main thing that you’re doing?
That’s been the main thing for quite some time but I’m adjusting a bit. Everyone who’s investing in real estate or interested in investing knows that lumber prices are astronomical. Instead of getting beat over the head by the lumber prices, I said, “Maybe I can focus on picking up some more turnkey properties.” That’s a good tax strategy as well. I am pivoting a little bit. I do have six rehabs going on but I bought all of these before the lumber prices went up, except one of them that I bought in 2021. It’s getting through these rehabs, but I’m focusing on picking up more turnkey until lumber prices come back down.A lot of the things that we used to do in person, we can get it done just as well virtually. Click To Tweet
You’re talking more buy and hold.
My first year of real estate investing full time, that was the last year that I flipped full-time. I got four flips done in that first year. I made six figures in that first year, which was awesome. When tax time came, I was like, “This part is not awesome and I want to do this every year.” I’ve adjusted my strategy after that first year. I’ve been a buy-and-hold investor from the start after that first year. Just about everything I’m buying, I hold.
That’s a good point because a lot of people think real estate is flipping, and that’s a very active strategy. When you’re doing active strategies, you’re going to be paying regular income tax, which is different from the buy and hold strategies where the tax day becomes your friend. It’s not just what you make. It’s what you get to keep that matters. You talked a little bit about switching because of the lumber prices. Before we started rolling you, you mentioned pivoting because of COVID-19. Is there anything else that you’ve changed in this economic climate?
One of the main things that I’ve changed is my Airbnb strategy. It’s getting back to normal now because people are ready to get out. People were getting their vaccine and they’re getting out. When COVID-19 first started, most of us were decimated. With Airbnb, no one’s traveling anymore. A lot of people around, I watched them shut their Airbnbs down, especially folks who were doing Airbnb arbitrage and they have ten of these properties that they have to pay rent for every month with no income coming in. I started doing longer short-term rental. Instead of three days, I’m doing three months. All of my places stay full-on during the pandemic. They’re rolling out now and starting to get back to normal. That’s one of the major adjustments I made. In the classes that I do, I usually have students flying in from all around the country to come to my classes. It’s called How to Build A Million-Dollar Real Estate Portfolio in One Year. I’m doing it fully virtual now. The CEO of Twitter said, “We’ll never come back into the office again.” We’re realizing that a lot of the things that we used to do in person, we can get it done just as well virtually. That’s another shift as well.
I have a similar thing with our Wealth Through Real Estate Event. We were doing it in person. Now we started to do it virtually. It’s great virtually. A lot more people can come. With our Airbnb, we were forced to shut down for a couple of months, but then we were busier than ever. It’s in Big Bear Lake, outside of LA. People wanted to travel, but they weren’t traveling far. We got crazy prices. It’s way more than the previous years. I don’t know if you experienced that at all.
Now that people are coming back, most of my Airbnbs are in Philadelphia, the demand is so high. The shows and the plays are coming back. There are tons of sites that people come through this city for. As universities open, all of that is bringing traffic into the city because Philly’s a big hospital town and universities town. You can do well now.
I want to ask you a question now. It’s my favorite question because I find that we learn so much more when things don’t go well. My question is, what was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?
Hands down, the biggest mistake is trying to do everything myself. I am a true do-it-yourself. I feel like I was born this way. I was like a little baby boss, doing my own thing. It’s never having a real estate mentor. I was like, “I’ll figure it out myself.” When I started investing in real estate, Instagram didn’t even exist. Most of my students find me on Instagram. That did not exist for me to find someone. There were books and Facebook at the time, you had to have your @College.edu to sign up for Facebook because that’s how Facebook started, for those who don’t remember that. Maybe Carleton Sheets, but I hadn’t even heard of that. That was even before my generation.
The point is, I was learning by myself. I could have been a lot further, a lot faster, made fewer mistakes, save tons of money if I had a mentor. I figured it out and now I’m able to help people avoid the same mistakes that I made. That’s definitely in my company when I started out. My dad was a general contractor since the day I was born. I picked up a lot more than I thought I was picking up when I was running around his jobs as a little girl. With that, I would try to do some of the work myself. It takes so much time. My time can be spent better. As the company grows or is growing and I’m dealing with this now, hiring people to help me run the Airbnb or having property management. I did it all myself and I still have it in-house, but I have someone on my staff helping me with that because I realized I was a bottleneck in my business. Hands down, that is the biggest learning curve or learning opportunity. My biggest mistake was not hiring soon enough and fast enough, and trying to do things myself instead of letting the experts do it.
Many people make that mistake, myself included, and then trying to do this without a mentor. I did that for a long time and I’ve put it along. When I got a mentor, it was an incredible scale and growth. I’m all for that. What are you most proud of?
I had a pinch-me moment not that long ago where I realized that I’m now making more money per month than I made all year in my good-paying job as a TV producer. I was like, “What?” It’s such a huge victory because this is year ten of me being a full-time entrepreneur. I left in September 2011. Those first five years, I almost made nothing. I had to push, persevere, stick with it, adjust and be agile to get to where I am. I’ve done the work and I’m proud of that. I’m excited about that because that’s huge. The cool thing is I realized that I could start making that much money from seeing other people, other women doing it. I’m like, “We can do that. Let’s do that then.” I know for me, other people seeing me do that is going to make them realize it’s possible. It’s like the gift that keeps on giving. I’m excited about that.
You should be proud. I’m happy that I can highlight you and other women in the show because I want others to look and go, “If she can do it, I could do that too.”The biggest mistake that you can do is trying to do everything yourself. Click To Tweet
It does not matter where you start. It’s about how you finish because growing up, we had lots of love in our home but barely any money. Sometimes we don’t realize how little money we had, for those who are in that situation, until you grow up and be like, “That’s not normal.” I would ask my dad, “Daddy, I hear the ice cream truck coming on, let me get $0.25.” He’ll be like, ”Baby, we got wonder bread and ice cream in the house. I’ll make you an ice cream sandwich.” We didn’t have a lot of money but we had a lot of love. I tell folks, it doesn’t matter where you start. It’s about how you finish. With real estate investing, you can build the life of your dreams.
To what do you attribute your success?
There are so many things. There are some things that show up now in my personality. I do feel like I was born this way. I was a born leader. At three years old, I’m bossing people around. My parents didn’t allow it but that’s what I wanted to do. I attribute my natural skills to God and what he’s gifted me with. I attribute it to my parents who nurtured my personality. My dad was a general contractor who let me into his world every day. Even though he was an entrepreneur, he would take me to school. While he’s taking me to school, his guys are hopping on the back of the truck. I’m getting used to being around contractors all the time. When school’s over and while mom’s cooking dinner because she did stay home with us for a while. I’m on dad’s job. He’s like, “Don’t touch the ventilation. You’re going to itch.”
Being in that environment, especially as a woman, has helped me be super confident and comfortable around contractors and the construction environment. That was a gift that I didn’t even realize. Even though we didn’t have a lot of money, my mom always kept the home beautiful. I got picked up some interior design and how a home should feel. I have had some amazing business coaches, never a real estate mentor per se. I don’t know that that’s a plus but having business coaches and mentorship has made all the difference as well. I would attribute it and hard work. I did a post on my Instagram page talking about how everyone wants to be a CEO until it’s time to be a CEO. I certainly work more hours per day now for myself than I did when I was at NBC News, but it’s so rewarding. It’s so worth it. I’d rather be doing that hard work for myself than somewhere else.
What advice do you have for a woman who’s starting out in this field?
I find a lot of women are intimidated because it’s a male-dominated industry. You have the option to be paralyzed by fear and the potential for rejection, or you can step out there and amaze the world, but we don’t get to do both. What I’ve found is that most women who want to get started investing in real estate are confident that it’s what they’re looking for. Confidence comes from clarity and doing the work. The cool thing is the clarity doesn’t have to come from what you learned. If it comes from a mentor, someone that you look up to and then doing the work.
That’s what I would say. Get clarity however you can. If you do it the slower way by reading books and watching YouTube, that’s fine. Get it however you can. Getting a mentor fast tracks that and then doing the work. We all know that experience is the best teacher. Whether it’s your experience or your mentor’s experience, just get the experience. We can do it. We’re out here doing it every day. Here are two women right here that are doing it. You can do it and you don’t have to feel like, “I’m a woman.” It doesn’t matter. We can do it too.
What do you wish you’d known at the beginning that you now know?
I wish I was aware of leveraging other people’s money. When I started that first year, I had my little coins and all I could afford was one house. That little $50,000 house was the first house that I bought. That is all that I could afford. I struggled to get through that. I wasn’t aware of using other people’s money or I had those messages. When I would see things like hard money, it’s like, “What? Look at that interest rate.” That’s debt. I don’t want debt because most of us were raised, “Debt is bad. It’s going to kill you. It’s a murderer, don’t touch it,” but you can leverage that to build wealth. That’s what the wealthy do. As we’re all sitting here right now, the banks are investing our money that’s sitting there. I have six rehabs going on and I have very little of my own money, even though I have money in one of those projects. If I’ve learned the power of leveraging business credit and other people’s money, I would have gotten ahead a lot further and faster.
Before we get into our famed end of the show Trinity which is a brag, a gratitude and a desire, how can people reach you and find out more about what you do?
The best way to check me out is on Instagram @AttiyahBlair. I’m sharing tons of free information there every single day. I also have a free webinar that I do where I break down the strategy of how I picked up 30 rental units in a two-year period. You can go to AttiyahBlairRealEstate.com. You can check that out. It’s actionable steps that you can take now to get yourself ready to accomplish something like that.
Now it’s time for our Trinity. It’s a brag, a gratitude and a desire. First, your brag. What are you celebrating right now?
A few months ago, something incredible happened. I decided I wanted to move. I’m like, “I got to go.” We moved into a new place. We moved into a condo that was more than $1 million. I grew up in the hood, pre-gentrified DC like the Chocolate City DC. I’m pinching myself still. I’m proud and excited about that.
What’s one thing you’re grateful for?
I have to give my husband some credit. He is supportive in those first five years. He encouraged me to leave my job. He’s like, “I believe in you.” While I barely made any money in the first five years, he didn’t go like, “What’s happening here?” He was super patient and supportive, and that gives me the time and freedom I need to build my business. I’m grateful for that because I know a lot of the women that come into my mentorship. They’re like, “How do I get this guy onboard?” I appreciate him for being awesome.
Last but not least, what’s one desire?It does not matter where you start. It’s about how you finish. Click To Tweet
I want to help as many women as possible invest in real estate with clarity and confidence. I truly believe that you are not winning unless the people around you are winning as well. It’s not enough that I figured it out. It’s my job to make sure I help as many people who want to figure this out. It’s important to me, so that’s one desire and I’m working at it every day.
I feel like we’re soul sisters with a similar mission. So shall your desire be or so much better than you can imagine.
Thank you. Same to you. Thank you so much.
Thank you. This was great. You all can connect with Attiyah, @AttiyahBlair on Instagram or go to AttiyahBlairRealEstate.com to get that amazing webinar she talked about and find out more about her. Connect with me @REIGoddesses on Instagram or REIGoddesses.com. We have the How To Get Started In Real Estate Investing Even As A Busy Professional Woman webinar. You can get into our Investor Club, connect with our amazing community of women all over the world investing in real estate. I look forward to connecting with you there.
- The Real Estate Reset
- Home Buying 101
- @AttiyahBlair – Instagram
- @REIGoddesses – Instagram
About Attiyah Blair
Attiyah Blair is a multi-family real estate investor, real estate mentor and a licensed realtor in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Attiyah’s company, The Real Estate Reset, focuses primarily on rehabbing severely distressed properties and turning them into beautiful homes for Philadelphia residents.
Attiyah also specializes in short-term rentals. She has been investing in real estate since 2007 when she was only 23 years-old and is passionate about sharing her wealth building knowledge with women and other aspiring real estate investors.
Attiyah’s signature mentorship program teaches her students “How to Build A Million Dollar Real Estate Portfolio in One Year.” Before becoming a real estate investor, Attiyah worked for NBC, CBS and FOX News for 10 years.
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