You can endure the pain of learning about real estate and wholesaling if you learn from the most experienced people. Today, Monick Halm interviews real estate mentor and investor, Laura Alamery, about investing in wholesaling successfully. Laura notes the importance of investing in varied markets. Through her website RealEstateInvestingWomen.com, those enrolled in her wholesaling programs can start their learnings and challenges. She then talks about the biggest mistake of her real estate journey, which was getting a partner. Know more about the art of wholesaling in the most profitable manner possible from this dynamic woman.
Listen to the podcast here:
Successful Wholesaling — Interview With Laura Alamery
I bring you amazing real estate investing bad-ass women that are crushing it in the real estate world, and our guest is certainly no exception. I’m excited to have with us, Laura Alamery. She has been a real estate investor for years. She mentors new and experienced real estate investors. She has experience in all aspects of real estate investing from wholesale, buy and hold, flips and raising private money from acquisition to disposition of the properties. She has a team of investors and partners with a proven track record who can do it all. Welcome, Laura.
It’s great to have you here. I met you at a lunch because you and your daughter worked together and you have these lunches for women investors all over the country. You came to Los Angeles and I came there and met you and it was awesome. I’m excited to have you.
Thank you for hosting me. It’s great.
It’s my pleasure. How did you get started in real estate investing? You’ve been doing it for a long time. You’ve been in this game for years. What got you started?
I was looking for a side job to do while I was in college, something that can pay for college and I was going for my accounting degree. It happened to be in Hawaii at the time, back in Honolulu. I saw the real estate back then, things were booming. At the end of the ‘80s, prices doubled on the island. I decided I wanted to become an agent as a side business. When I became an agent, I went to work for this company, which was called Dorman and Associates. The broker of the company was a woman. She only hired women to work in the office. She had 75 agents and 74 were women.
The reason is she thought that women were better in real estate, were better as agents, but also as an investor. She was one of the pioneers on the Island. She built a lot of the condos and developments on the islands back in the ‘50s before it became the state. She got me open to the possibilities. I was a successful agent from the beginning because I was around these talented people. When I moved to the mainland in ’91, I went into real estate investing. I didn’t sell for anybody, although I had my license for years. I kept the license for my own use, but then I switched to real estate investing instead of being a broker.
What was your first real estate investment?
In Hawaii, I started buying property to live in and fix it up and move up. I started with my townhouse. I bought the townhouse, fixed it up and sold it for 125% profit eight months later. We bought the house, sold that, and then we went into $1.2 million property which was probated. After that, we moved to the mainland and I started buying rental properties with the money that I had accumulated in Hawaii. I went into rentals, then eventually I went to wholesale. My first property was my own property that I bought and fixed it up and sold it.
You’ve done lots of different types of investing from flipping, buy and hold and wholesaling. What’s your current focus?Be in control of your business. Hire people to work for you, but don't give them a piece of your business. Click To Tweet
Wholesaling, honestly. I’m at a point in my life where I don’t want to have too much responsibility. We buy and flip the contracts. I still had rentals in partnership, had rentals for years. As far as my focus, we buy and flip or assign contracts.
Why do you like wholesaling?
There’s not much. It’s not the easiest strategy, as I say, but it’s less risky. It’s not the easiest because there is a lot of moving parts that you have the right timing of everything, but especially if you don’t want to commit yourself or your resources so you’re starting out. This is the quickest way to get going in the business. You can do this virtually. You can do it anywhere in the world, you could be traveling and do this with the phone. You’re putting transactions together since you’re not buying the property to keep it. You don’t even have to look at the property.
You are in Florida. Where are your wholesale deals?
We have three markets: South Florida, Philadelphia and San Louis. The reason for that is to leverage the risk. I don’t like to put my eggs in one basket. We have three different markets so that if one market starts having issues, we have the other markets going.
How are you finding these properties?
It’s all virtual tools that are available out there and lots of things. You can buy lists, of course. We like to access public databases like evictions or foreclosures and all this stuff we can do online.
That’s great for busy women.
You can set this business in a way that is virtual. If your time is a concern, we are going through a four-week challenge. I work with students and we tell them to close the deal in four weeks. Every day, every morning we give them one simple step to do that day. In the second week of the challenge, people are already having flips coming through. It’s powerful, you just have to do it consistently. You have to do something every day.
How can people find out about this challenge?
It’s part of my students. Once they join in one of my wholesaling programs, this is where we teach. They can go to the website, RealEstateInvestingWomen.com and they can schedule a call with us and make sure they tell us that it was shared by you. We can explain to them how that works.
I’m going to ask you a question that I always ask with all my guests because I find we learn so much more when things don’t work out than when they do. What would you say was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?
Don’t work with partners. Have people work for you, not with you. To me, for my business, when I started opening my door for partnerships, that’s when it created a lot of problems. Be in control of your business. Hire people to work for you, but don’t give them a piece of your business.
Give me an example of when you did that and it didn’t work out.
This was when I was heavily to fix and flips. We had a company where I was the one getting the properties, buying at the auction, getting all the private money lined up. I was in partnership with people they were supposed to supervise their work and I was given a percentage of their profit. That didn’t work out well. At the end of the day, I had to do everything. I had to supervise the work, go to auction, find a property, line up the money, and it got hectic when we started having over twenty properties at a time.
I ended up breaking the partnership and firing everybody. I hired people to work with me as project manager for me. I would pay them a salary instead of opening up a partnership. That was the biggest mistake. After that, I’m always working and just hiring people for me, not with me. Sometimes you have to be careful. A lot of time I have people that come to me for wholesaling. They were two partners; they want to work together. It’s a little different sometimes, if its husband and wife. If you have two friends, it can break friendships. You can create certain issues. Be careful who you work with.
I work a lot with people in partnership, but I do make sure I have clear contracts beforehand. For that reason, when things go wrong, everyone knows exactly what their responsibilities are. That’s important. If you don’t have that, then it can ruin friendships, ruin relationships.
If I do a fix and flip, I hire project managers. They’re not in partnership. They worked for me. In wholesaling, unless you’re working with your spouse or your friend that you know, be careful that it’s clear who does what and when and get the responsibility so not one of you is pulling the whole weight.
What are you most proud of?
I’m writing a book. I was thinking what to write. There’s a lot about real estate books out there and I’m compiling interviews of women that I’ve known for my life that have inspired me to become a real estate investor and have set an example. Unfortunately, some of them passed away because it’s been years. I am in contact with their family and I’m writing these interviews. There are things that bring tears to my eyes because to see what they had to go through. Think about it, years ago, women were not seen in this world. It tends to be a man’s world anyway. Imagine these women in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, we’re able to go out there and be investors and believe and be pioneers in this field.If you learn and you're fortunate to be successful, you turn around and help other people. Click To Tweet
I’m compiling all these interviews and some of them are students of mine that are doing well. I’m compiling all these interviews and see how they changed their life, what prompted them to finally do this and what success made the difference in their lives. One of the things I noticed with women is, they want to empower other women. It’s not just about them being successful. It’s like, “I’m successful, but how can I help somebody else to be successful as well?” I see a lot of that with women more than men.
In the real estate event, we have this mantra, “I’m here to be financially free and to bring my sisters along with me.” That’s how a lot of us women are wired, to give back. You have been successful over these past years in investing. To what do you attribute your success?
Consistency and focus, a stubbornness about it, not ever taking no for an answer. I always say I have what they call a pit bull mentality. I never let things go. If there’s a deal, I’m not going to walk away from the deal until there’s nothing left to do. Being consistent and focused and also being persistent, being the glue that keeps things together is definitely successful.
What advice do you have for a woman who’s starting out in this field?
Do something every day. One of the things I run across, I was talking to somebody on the phone, her biggest issue is time management. Us as women, we take on so much. In her situation, she’s taking care of her mother that has bad health. She’s going to school and she’s going to work and she’s like, “How do I get time at all?” I said to her, “Can you carve one hour a day?” It doesn’t have to be a whole hour at one time, maybe 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening. She said, “I believe in real estate. I believe this can be my next step. I don’t have to work hard if I can do real estate. Even if I close the deal I’m off.” I was like, “Find the time consistently. If you have to get up earlier and do it, that’s what you do.”
When I made my switch, I came to the mainland in ‘91 and I was in college and then I went to work corporate. In ’95, I decided I was going to transition into real estate full-time. In ’95, there were no internet or tools. Cell phone was a dollar agreement. It was crazy. I had three small kids. My oldest kid at the time was six years old. Every day I will come home from corporate, take care of the kids and my kids will go to bed about 7:30, 8:00 at night. Every night between 7:30, to 9:30, 10:00, I did what I had to do.
The following day, during my lunch hour, I would run out to my car and make my calls. The thing is, I knew that if I could do this consistently and do what I can within three to six miles, I was going to quit my job and do this full-time. That’s what I did. It’s that type of discipline, and I know everybody’s busy with all the things to do. If I did it in the situation I was, and this lady stopped doing what she has, all this commitment in her life and she’s doing it, it’s about carving that hour of time and be consistent every day.
Everyone has the 24 hours. Especially if you’re a mom, it can feel like you have so much going on, but I always tell people, “How much TV do you watch in a day? Maybe you could take one hour out of TV.” The average American watches 5 to 7 hours a day. I was like, “Take one of those hours and focus on wealth building. You can do it.” That’s great advice.
The thing is setting a goal, because people tell me, “I’m tired after work. That’s my way to relax.” I was like, “What if somebody told you, ‘You do this in three months? You can quit your job. Your life would be different because you’re doing this,’” you do what it takes to make that happen. That’s why you have to look now. It’s not forever or a little while, then you can do this anytime.
It’s like the quote, I can’t remember who said it, “If you do what’s hard now, then your life will be easy. If you do what’s easy, then your life will be hard.” Sometimes you push a little bit right now to pave the way for later. One last question before we get into the trinity. What do you wish you’d known at the beginning that you now know?
I should have started with wholesaling first. I went the reverse. I went in to buy and hold, then I went into fix and flip. I went to wholesaling. I didn’t have much money. I took all the money I had from the islands and I invested in real estate. I leveraged myself also so much and I didn’t understand the process of the tenants. It was a responsibility and I didn’t understand that. I didn’t understand the business. I was young. I tell people, “Wholesaling, even if it’s not your ideal strategy, but that gives you the confidence to go out there and learn how to talk to people, negotiate.” I said, “It doesn’t have any risk because you don’t even have to have any money or financial resources tied into it.”
I wish I could have started that first instead of putting all my money in leveraging myself on top of it. I was fortunate to do that process and selling. I found out there was a demand for those properties, then I started finding other properties which I wasn’t buying, I was focused on selling. To get your confidence out there, to know how to talk to people, how to find deals and analyzing deals, that starts with wholesaling. Very quickly you can do fix and flips, especially if don’t have any money set aside. That can also build up your capital. You need some cash reserve. You need some money set aside. If you get to buy and hold or fix and flip, you can’t just do it on your credit card. If anybody tells you to use your credit cards, they’re telling you wrong.
I’ve never wholesaled a deal. A lot of people start that way and it’s a great strategy for a lot of people. Before we get into our famed trinity, which is brag and gratitude and desire, how can people reach you and find out more about you?
You can go to our website, and I say ours because I and my daughter Liz, she is at the forefront of the website. It’s RealEstateInvestingWomen.com.
It’s time for the trinity. What’s one thing that you’re celebrating? What’s your brag?
I would say the celebrating is changing my business around. For me being an old-timer, doing real estate for so long, I was used to doing things a certain way. Now building up systems and building out this business to be virtual so I can travel around the world and still do deals. it’s working well.
What’s one thing you’re grateful for?
I’m grateful to be around people and meet people like you that are inspirations and they have this generosity about helping other people because we’re all connected. At the end of the day, it’s important that if you learn and you’re fortunate to be successful, you turn around and help other people. To be around a lot of these people in my life, I’m grateful.
Lastly, what’s one thing you desire?
One thing I desire is to travel a lot more. I was gone for six weeks and it was funny because I was doing deals on a cruise ship in the middle of the Atlantic by using Google Voice and internet. I’m going to be gone for seven weeks. I’m taking a cruise from San Francisco to Australia. I would roam in Australia for 2, 3 weeks. I’ve already done this for a couple of years where we’re using just a phone and an app on my phone and doing deals wherever you are. People don’t have to know that you’re in the middle of the Atlantic doing deals. That’s my thing, create a business that afforded me a certain lifestyle and I can do from anywhere in the world.
So shall your desire for more travel be as you desire it or so much better than you can imagine, under grace and imperfect ways. Thank you so much, Laura. That was awesome. If you want to connect with her, go to RealEstateInvestingWomen.com. To connect with me, go to RealEstateInvestorGoddesses.com and subscribe and check us out.