My career in real estate investing started in early 1990. I purchased my second home and decided to keep the first one as a rental. You certainly learn a ;lot the “hard way” on that first investment! Many lessons are learned – How to deal with tenants; how to prepare leasing paperwork; how to maintain properties; how to deal with contractors and real estate agents; and how difficult people can be sometimes!
The second house is where I started my family. My wife, Michele, and I were having babies and remodeling at the same time – not an easy task. I’m sure everyone has a similar story starting out as a young family. Occasionally, my wife reminds me of the time that she had to do dishes in the bathtub because I was replacing the kitchen. Hard work does pay off and is worth the effort.
I also worked in the auto repair business seven days a week. Working so much made it difficult to find enough time to do much of anything else, so it was time to take a change and make a change. My Uncle offered to see me his repair station in Horsham, Aamco. After much though, we decided not to buy it. I had worked for my uncle at this location for eleven years. He allowed me to work after hours on my own used-car business. I sold many, many cars off that lot over the years. You probably would have called me a workaholic!
My next idea was way outside of the box – running an ice cream store in Roxborough. Since ice cream is a seasonal business, I would have the winters off. By the end of September and the start of cold weather, the store would close. There would be plenty of time to be home and not committed to showing up at a store every day. And there was always a home project on the list to accomplish.
During this time, I saw many late night infomercials on the TV about real estate investing, describing “Here’s How Even You Can Get Started!” I watched these for years before thinking, “Maybe it really can be done. ” So, we decided to buy more real estate.
Our family plan was to have more children, a bigger house, and more land. It may have been more of a “want” than a necessity, but we decided to pursue it. Michele found a farmhouse on 10 acres in the Sunday paper. Back then, listing were printed in the newspapers and the MLS was printed in a black-and-white book. A listing would show a picture of the front of the house. We looked at the listing and decided to buy it as an investment. The owner had advertised his property as “Possible Owner Financing” in the newspaper. At the settlement table, we asked the seller if he had any other property for sale, and he did. A few month later, we purchased another property from him and moved into it. Now we had 3 rental properties, and our new purchase.
At this time, I decided to buy the cassette tapes offered on those infomercials. I wanted to learn more about creative real estate investing because I had put down 20% on my first few transactions, and it took a lot of time to save that kind of money. After listening to the tapes about the basics of real estate investing, I began to understand the process – know your area; know the sale prices of your neighborhoods and different townships; know how to finance and get a positive cash flow; and know the cost of work needed to update the property. This is the knowledge that I learned over the next several years, while we acquired over 20 rental properties and several small subdivision.
In 1999, I took the real estate sales classes to get my license. The classes seemed relatively easy because I had been buying and renting my own properties for several years. After completing the classes and passing the state and federal exams, I was ready to start earning sales commissions. My first broker owned many rental properties and also bought and sold remodeled houses. I “fit in well” with this company, and learned even more about real estate investing.
After working as sales agent for 3 years, I decided to take the next step, prepare for the brokers’ exam, and open my own real estate office. By 2005, I was ready to open Walter Studley Real Estate Sales Corp. Our first location was on Easton Road in Horsham. Now, we are in Metropolitan Plaza on Easton Road in Warrington, with easy access to Bucks and Montgomery Counties.
Since I am an investor at heart, my ultimate goal of the company was to surround myself with like-minded agent-investors with background in buying, remodeling and reselling distressed properties. And, I think that we have reached that goal. We are one of the few investment companies in the area. I encourage purchasing investments because it is great way to make a good. living.