- How Kelly got into real estate [2:39]
- The different avenues a real estate career offers [10:19]
- Benefits of joining a real estate team [13:25]
- Kelly’s sales and profit figures [15:34]
- How COVID-19 affected Kelly’s business [17:01]
- Advice to new real estate agents [21:04]
- What Kelly loves about real estate [23:29]
- How to find balance when working from home [25:26]
- Kelly’s donation to the Agent Success Toolbox [28:39]
- How to break through your goals.
- Plus so much more.
- Grow Your Real Estate Profits with Our Agent Success Toolbox
- Real Estate Rockstars with Pat Hiban Facebook Group
- Get 6 Steps to 7 Figures by Pat Hiban for FREE
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- Kelly’s Facebook
- Kelly’s LinkedIn
- Kelly’s Twitter
- Kelly’s Instagram
- Download Kelly’s 6 Questions to Ask Team Leaders from the Agent Success Toolbox
Aaron Amuchastegui: Real Estate Rockstars, this is Aaron Amuchastegui. Today I get to interview Kelly Skeval from New York, she has been a listener of the Real Estate Rockstars podcast. I’m excited to hear how she got into real estate, how she does real estate while she manages a family and all sorts of tips that we can share with you guys today. Kelly, we were just laughing about last names, hopefully I said it right. It should be simple, but how are you today?
Kelly: Good. Thanks for having me, Aaron. I am so excited to be on one of my favorite podcasts ever. I feel so honored.
Aaron: That is so awesome. It is my favorite thing to have people come on that have been listeners. You said before the show you’ve been listening for several years, just tell me about that as just being a fan of the podcast.
Kelly: I was very new to real-estate sales and had just got started and I don’t even remember how I came across the podcast but I did and started listening. I would get so amped up and loved all of the ideas that the guests would come with on the podcast. I actually had to take a step back and stop listening initially so much or I would have to listen and just not try to implement all of the ideas because I just heard an idea, I was like, “I want to do this. Now I want to do that.” It was really exciting when I found Real Estate Rockstars.`
Aaron: That’s awesome. That’s actually a good piece of advice too. If you’re a new agent listening to the podcasts a lot, every time you want to be able to get a tip, but sometimes like, “Here’s something that I can apply into my business.” We do two to three podcasts a week, there’s so much stuff out there, so maybe you just have to take notes, keep your things, but don’t try to work on all 10 tips at once if you’re listening to this and you’re new at this. Try to phase it in. Kelly, how did you get into real estate?
Kelly: Actually, it was a combination of life goals and a life situation. I was a veterinary technician by trade, that’s what I went to college for. I was working at Cornell University and my husband and I were young, we were 24 and decided that it was time to buy a house. We bought a split-level single-family and turned the downstairs into a duplex and right off the bat, that apartment downstairs paid our entire mortgage, the taxes and even the utilities. We were really living mortgage free and that gave us the opportunity to save some more money.
Around that same time, we were also talking about life goals like short and long-term goals for us in our future family. What came out of those conversations was that it was really important to us that I was going to be a stay-at-home mom or at least to be able to work from home. We realized that– he’s a police officer and on a police officer’s income we weren’t going to be able to have me just be a stay-at-home mom. We realized that we needed to also have multiple streams of income.
When we got to talking about that, we realized that that was necessary no matter what direction we wanted to go, having multiple strings of income just helps protect you and your family so much. We really liked the landlording and about two years later, that was in 2009, two years later we found out I was pregnant and decided that I would go part-time, I went very part-time as a veterinary technician and shortly after my daughter was born, we were able to buy the duplex next door.
Now we have three units, a newborn, and again, we were just really liking the landlording, we were starting to see some cash flow and a little bit more money. That was 2013, from 2013 to 2015, we ended up picking up a total of eight units, so we bought that duplex next door, built another duplex next to that, bought a four-unit and had a second child. [laughs] We had a lot going on in those, what was it, two years, two and a half years.
Fast forward to 2016, we’ve got the total of 10 units, we’re landlords, I’m still working part-time at the vet tech and have two small children and found out I was pregnant again with our third. At that time, I was liking being an employee, even though it was part-time I was liking that less and less. I like to show up, do my work, complete my task, move on to the next task or go home. I wasn’t enjoying showing up and having to be away from my family for 8 or 10 hours at a time and I just was looking for more flexibility and a better quality of life that didn’t involve working for somebody else.
I was also realizing when I did some numbers that I only had to sell a handful of houses a year to replace that income I was making as a part-time veterinary technician, so I decided that it was time to jump in. We really liked landlording, I figured worst-case scenario was that I would continue to be a vet tech and we would expand our network and hopefully pick up some deals by having access to the MLS and knowing more people. I did the online course because I had small children, my husband didn’t have a super flexible schedule. My goal was to do that, complete that in six weeks, but that course is brutal, not in a way that’s like super hard.
Aaron: This was in New York, right?
Aaron: The online course in New York is a brutal one.
Kelly: Learning information is just such– This is awful. It was boring. I blew through the course itself and then realized I still had like 50 hours to complete, then I just had to sit there and click through. It was just brutal in that way. Learning the course itself was not difficult at all, but just having to sit through that. At night after I put the kids to bed, I would just click through for hours on the information.
I did that and I happened to run into the agent that helped us buy our first house, and we had become friends with her over the years like you do. I told her that I was excited to get started. I was going to join the brokerage that she had been working with. She was no longer an agent and she suggested that I talked to one of the top producers down there who had a team and that I would really benefit from joining a team.
If you know me, I research everything. I research people. I know backgrounds and information on whatever it is that I’m getting started in, but being pregnant, having a one-year-old and a three-year-old at home, I just did not research this woman at all or even know how a team was set up or functions, but I went to the meeting because I figured like, why not? I don’t ever turn down an opportunity.
I also don’t make knee-jerk decisions. I like to think about my decisions and choices and how they would affect me and my family. In the middle of the meeting with this agent, this team leader, not knowing her or her success, is there anything, she sold me on the team and how beneficial it would be to me. All I could think about was all the things that I would get out of being on this team, and before I even left the meeting, I had committed to the team.
Aaron: That’s so funny.
Kelly: I went home and told my husband, I was like, “I know I’ve never done this, but I committed to this team and I think it’s going to be a great opportunity.” It ended up being the best decision I made in terms of my real estate sales career, it really ended up being a great– She was a top producer, great values, she’s a great team leader and I think it’s helped catapult my business by having her as a mentor and the benefits of being on the team.
Aaron: That’s so awesome. We’ll come back to unpack that, but before we start jumping into the team and the benefits and what you do now, I just think there’s so much stuff to unpack there that’s super cool. Back in 2009, you guys bought that first split level to live in and it was like you’re going to buy this house and you converted the downstairs to a duplex to rent it out. What gave you that idea because back in 2009, housing market was still falling, the crash had happened, people were investing but it was a riskier time. What made you guys decide to do that? Was there a course out there? Then you start getting into, hey, you wanted multiple streams of income. Where did that mindset come from back then?
Kelly: That’s a really good question. A couple of years leading up to that, I had been reading personal finance books. Again, like I said, I research everything. In those personal finance education, the books I was reading about passive income and how real estate really could help you create passive income. It started with the personal finance and just went that direction. We had looked at houses for two years prior to finally purchasing that one in 2009.
We knew we wanted to get into investing, but we didn’t have a lot of money. My husband was only working part-time at that time. We had spent a lot of time not knowing exactly what we were looking for, but when we came across this split level, it was pretty clear that we could turn it into a duplex without a lot of money. It had the walkout basement, the egress windows. You just had to put a wall up at the stairs.
Aaron: I love the stories like that because there are so many– My friend, David Greene, he’s one of the hosts of the BiggerPockets Podcast, but he’s a police officer. I remember talking to him as he was still an active police officer buying more rentals and buying more properties and it gotten into real estate, not necessarily an accident, but it was a side job. It was a side job versus other thing. He went from being an investor to then being an agent and then becoming that full-time agent. Anytime someone has a story of working that way, and then also your story of just hard work on how you got there, I’m really excited to get into the stuff of what agents today can use.
Starting with the story of the working hard to become an agent, I remember my wife doing the same thing for our brokerage out in California. I remember she would wake up at 4:00 AM and she’d be nursing our new baby and setting for the brokerage exam. She became one of the biggest agents in Northern California out there when we were flipping a bunch of houses out there, but it was the same thing. It was figuring out, “Hey, she could be a mom. She could have the family,” and real estate offered that flexibility to choose your own hours and choose your own destiny.
Whether it’s someone wanting to be a mom or have real estate as a side job or have real estate as the other one, it’s so awesome to remember those stories that real estate can be that avenue for– you can choose your own destiny, you can choose your own hours, you can choose the way to work. The more you work, the more pay off you get or it could be just like your example, you said at the beginning, “Hey, if you just do one or two deals a year, then that offsets the idea of you are going into an office doing something that you weren’t loving anymore.” It’s so cool to be able to unpack that.
Because back in 2009, there weren’t that many– Right now there’s a lot of real estate shows. There’s a lot of personal finance shows. There’s a lot of gurus. Back then there wasn’t. I read Rich Dad Poor Dad back then. I was buying and fixing and flipping back in 2009. That was when our business really started booming, but there weren’t a lot of people doing it back then. It’s technically amazing.
Kelly: HTTV wasn’t a big hit back then. It was a little bit different.
Aaron: Let’s jump into today. You joined that team. You became a real estate agent. At first you weren’t going to join a team at all. You usually don’t jump into things, but you loved this agent. Everything that she said, she’s like, “You came out, like going, this is going to benefit me.” What were the biggest benefits you saw from joining a team?
Kelly: Initially, right off the bat, a couple of things I saw was, one, she had a transaction coordinator who handled all of the paperwork and just like the clerical stuff that goes on behind the scenes with listings and all the whole transaction. The transaction coordinator, that was great. Then she also had a marketing director specifically for her use and the team, and that marketing director went above and beyond and did a lot of social media posting. She did all of the print brochures, the newspaper, web major, we are getting a lot of this indication.
A lot of stuff that I didn’t know how to do or wasn’t good at was already available to me in this team. That allowed me to have more time home with my family, because at the time, I just really wanted to make sure that I was still putting my family first well, going after this career, and also helping provide money to the family.
Aaron: When you think back to some of those early podcasts you listen to on Real Estate Rockstars, can you think of one of the things that really stood out that you still do today?
Kelly: One of the ones that really stood out to me was, actually, it was the LinkedIn. It was a woman who came on– I think it was a woman or maybe– I think it was a woman. We’re talking like four years ago now.
Aaron: Right. Long time ago.
Kelly: Came on and spoke about LinkedIn and the power of being on LinkedIn and how you could really build a network through that. I got on internet and started doing that. I honestly don’t do it as much as I wish I would have. There was other ones that I’m trying to remember now that really, they just got me super excited but I can’t remember specifically what they–
Aaron: That’s all right. LinkedIn still today is the thing that not all agents are on.
Kelly: They’re not. Yes.
Aaron: While people are at stay-at-home right now, right now it’s COVID, it’s shelter-in-place, what can you be doing from your computer on those extra things when you can’t just be doing open houses and showings? I think a lot of that stuff still applies. Let’s jump into some of the nitty-gritty stats that we try to ask everybody. How many deals did you do last year and what’s the average purchase price, all that stuff?
Kelly: I did 23 deals last year. The average purchase sale price, gosh, it was probably around 225. That’s about what our average is here. I’ve run right about with what the average is here for our whole market, too.
Aaron: What’s your gross commissions? Are you still part of a team? Is it a certain splits you get from there?
Kelly: Yes. I’m still on the team. I get a split based on how much I sell, and my gross commissions off of the team in 2019 was $87,000.
Aaron: That is awesome. When you think about how much you work, is it a 40-hour a week job for you? Is it a 10 to 20-hour week job? Is it so that the balance of business and family?
Kelly: Very much a balance. I’m still the main caregiver for our children. I would say on average 20 hours a week, a little bit less than the slow season, possibly a little bit more in the busy season. I’m super-efficient. As you know like you were saying about your wife, you learn to get up early, work late. You’re efficient when you’re working.
Aaron: That is an awesome avenue that just says what real estate can be. You can be the caregiver. You can be the family person. You work 20 hours a week and get $87,000 a year. That is one of the awesome dreams of real estate. When you think about the next year, you have goals for how many closings and how has that changed since COVID? Are you busier now? Are you not busy at all right now?
Kelly: I like to go get between 23 and 25 sales, 50/50 split on the buy-side and listing side. In terms of how I’ve been affected by COVID, we were just ramping up our spring market out here when COVID-19 hit. I would say that I probably have slowed down a little bit, but I am still writing offers. I still have new buyers coming to me. I have sellers that want to sell, although that has definitely dropped off. The buyers are still out there looking, for sure. I would say I’m a little bit slower, but definitely still working quite a bit.
Aaron: I got to interview Trevor Mauch last night. It’s going to come out in our state of the market next week. He developed Carrot. It’s an investor website for leads. One of the statistics he was giving us was the first couple of weeks after COVID, a lot fewer people were searching sell my house now, sell my house fast, how to sell my house. Since then the last few weeks, it has skyrocketed. There’s way more people searching today “how do I sell my house” than there were even five to six weeks ago. Even though I think a lot of people have slowed down as people figure out how to reach those motivated sellers, I think a lot of people right now are considering selling. Are you getting the feeling in your area– Where do you live?
Kelly: I’m in Central New York, so Tompkins County, Ithaca, New York.
Aaron: Right now, New York’s in the news, is like, “Holy cow, everything is really bad and shelter-in-place.” Where you live, is that the feeling everybody’s getting or if you’re an outskirt area where it feels more like business as usual?
Kelly: No. In Ithica, everybody’s really being good about following the rules. They won’t call it a shelter-in place. I’m here, I think it’s like a pause on New York. Everybody’s really following the rules pretty well and staying home and wearing masks. We’re definitely, but we are not at all a part of that New York City news.
Aaron: About the craziness. I remember when I lived in California, everybody matched everything that was happening in California as a statewide thing. It’s a big state. There’s farmers here. There’s city life here. There’s everything.
Kelly: Yes, exactly.
Aaron: How you say New York and I get scared for a second like, “Wait, what’s going on?” It’s a rough time. Right now, if you were going to give– What are you doing or is there something that’s worked for you during the pause on New York to get business? Is there something where you’re surprised it’s out there? What are you doing on a daily basis to try to stay active or are you just taking a break and you wait for it to blow over?
Kelly: Yes. Again, because of my personal lifestyle with working from home and having to balance really the family and work, I was pretty well-prepared for this, like working remotely. We do e-signatures, virtual tours, all that stuff I had been doing already. I’ve had out-of-state buyers before. The virtual tour, Zoom meetings, things like that have all– I transitioned. I feel like I’ve transitioned into it pretty well.
I’ve been active on social media since I became an agent as well. That’s a really good way for people to, especially new agents, to build their credibility in the business to show your expertise. I really took advantage of that, too. I feel like there’s a couple of little changes and certainly not as many clients as I would have had under normal circumstances, but it’s business as usual with a few changes for me. It hasn’t been a huge adjustment on this end.
Aaron: If you were able to go back now and talk to yourself as an agent when you first started, I guess would you, or even as an investor in real estate when you first started, would you go back and tell yourself to become an agent sooner or later? Then on top of that, once you became an agent, what do you wish someone would have told you that you more recently just learned?
Kelly: I’ve had this conversation my husband a couple of times where I’m like, “Man, I love this so much and I have enjoyed it so much. I wish I didn’t wait so long to jump in,” because I had considered it at one point when we were still very young, so shortly after we bought our first house and it scared me to the thought of not having that W2 paycheck. After I got started and was really having a lot of success and then enjoying it, I said, “I should have started this earlier.”
My husband reminded me that, earlier when I was younger, when we had just bought our first property, I didn’t have the sphere of influence. I didn’t have the network that I had built over the following seven or eight years. Although I sometimes think I wish I would have started earlier and I know it would have been beneficial and I would have enjoyed it, I think I took off so fast because I had spent time cultivating relationships, building a sphere of influence not knowing how much it would benefit me once I finally became an agent.
Aaron: That is really good advice too, because there’s people of all ages starting in real estate. Some people are starting when they’re really young and some people are starting as their third or fourth or fifth career. They could easily get discouraged to say, “You know what, I waited too long to get into real estate. I shouldn’t get into real estate.” Being able to tell people, now, whatever they’ve done their whole life, the sphere that they’ve grown their whole life, the network they’ve grown their whole life, they can use it now and they can use it in real estate.
I’ve got a friend out in LA that worked in movies for the longest time. That was his business. He was working on movie sets and he would go out and he would negotiate with people to film movies in their house or in front of their house. Then he decided to go become a real estate agent, but he was able to use that same network, the same network of people that he negotiated with before on, “Hey, the studio wants to rent your house,” He’s like, “Hey, do you want to sell? I’m getting into real estate now.”
It’s never too late to get in. We can always start something sooner, but regardless of age, regardless of where you’re starting in your career, you can still use that influence that you had before. What are you the most excited about in real estate right now?
Kelly: What I’m most excited about? I just love everything about real estate. I love being an investor. I’m having a lot of fun with that growing our portfolio. I love helping buyers, helping sellers. There’s nothing in particular, I just really enjoy the industry.
Aaron: You guys manage your own rentals. You’re going to try to buy more rentals, too?
Kelly: Yes. We self-manage right now. We’re hoping to grow big enough where we can push that off my plate and not be so heavily involved in the management part. We still have the 10 units. We’re set to close on another eight-unit, hopefully, in the next week or two, which is super exciting. We put that under testament.
Aaron: That’s a big jump. You’re going to go from 10 units to 18 units overnight.
Kelly: Yes. I’m super excited and a little nervous that we’re almost going to double our portfolio, like you said, overnight. We’ll see how that– [chuckles]
Aaron: That is awesome, and so much fun. Some of the last note, is there any apps or tricks or tools that you use right now to grow your business?
Kelly: I’m really active on Facebook and Instagram. My Instagram account is more towards the investors, but it also draws a lot of my clients, just regular buyers and sellers see that too and Facebook too. I don’t know, I guess they’re not really apps, but they’re the platforms, and they help me show my clients and people who are potentially looking to buy or sell my expertise and credibility.
Aaron: Right now, so you’ve been living this work-life balance for a while and a lot of people are forced into this weird work-life balance right now. What are some things that you’ve learned over the last several years? Do you have any advice for people that for the first time they’re working next to their kids, trying to fit it all in? What advice would you give somebody?
Kelly: It’s different and it takes an adjustment. My biggest thing is to just give yourself grace. It’s difficult and it’s an adjustment for everybody. I slowly eased into it and it took me quite a few years to– I still, like, some days are just super difficult. I get up really early before the kids and get what I can done prior to them getting up so then I can spend time with them once they get up. We watch cartoons together every morning and that’s when I drink my coffee with them.
It’s in the busy season especially, I will often put them to bed, and my husband works nights so he’s not home at night. Then I’ll put them to bed and go back to work for three or four hours. Then I always feed my kids first too if I want to sit down for a good chunk of time. I don’t know if you guys experience this, but I’m like, if their bellies are full, I can usually get a good 20-minute chunk where I can really bang out some work.
Aaron: That is so funny. It’s such a good point. I haven’t thought about that, but you’re right. You get them fed, you get them set, and you’re going to [crosstalk] that always slows everybody down. Giving yourself grace is such a great point. My wife and I, we’ve homeschooled for a long time. We’ve worked from home for a long time, and so many people right now are reaching out for because of homeschooling and her five-hour school week brand and say like, “Hey, what do we do?” Her biggest thing right now is saying, “Just give yourself some grace. You don’t have to be a perfect teacher. You don’t have to be perfect anything. It’s all about balancing that relationship right now with your kids and your family.”
Those tricks of the getting up early, I think that’s a good way to get ahead of it and then be able to just try to not fight like some of the time. That’s some of the hardest things right now, and being able to organize, too, all the video calls, all the Zoom calls. I think people are being more flexible. Anyway, I was telling you before we got started, my son Brax is jumping on half my video calls, where people are now like half a surprise if he doesn’t make it on.
Kelly: I love it. [chuckles]
Aaron: We are living in a world where that work-life balance is more important than ever. I love the advice you gave on that. If all else, you feed your kids first and you’ll get a little bit of a break. When it comes to getting a couple of other extra real estate things, so other than your sphere of influence, how are you getting new leads right now? Do you have any tips or tricks for that?
Kelly: Yes. I work very heavily off of my sphere of influence almost exclusively, but being on the team that I’m on, a part of that is that we get kicked leads, buyer leads and a couple of seller leads here and there. We have been using the Zillow Premier and I, honestly, because my team leader and the marketing director handle that, I don’t know a lot about it, but I’ve gotten some really awesome leads off of that. Other than my sphere of influence, it’s usually leads that come from the team leader.
Aaron: That’s awesome. I was trying to look up your original submission. We talked about we have a gift that we give people on some tips and tricks, anything like that. Do you have anything you’ll be able to provide to our agents? Any ideas for that?
Kelly: Yes, so I sent over a little PDF with questions that if you’re looking to join a team, which I encourage all agents that are thinking about getting started in real estate or newer agents in real estate, I really encourage people to look into teams. There’s a lot of teams out there with a lot of different structures, so you really want to vet the team, because I’ve heard of some structures where I’m like, “No way, that would never work for me.” I really enjoyed the structure of our team.
I think that it can help you really catapult your business and grow quickly. I sent over a PDF that have questions that you should ask. A lot of time they talk about team leaders interviewing potential agents to bring on their team, but you also as a newer agent or the agent being interviewed should be interviewing that team leader and that team too. I sent over six questions that you should be asking team leaders.
Aaron: That is great. We have so much stuff in our Real Estate Agent Toolbox, and I don’t think that’s been in there before. All of you guys listening, you’ll be able to go to Hiban Digital. You can go to Kelly’s page where it will have her podcast. We’ll have the links to that. Just like everything, it will be added to that toolbox. If you want the toolbox of what all the agents put on there, it’s free. We just compiled that info to get it for all of you guys.
Something new that I have to mention, too. On Rebus University, we’ve slashed all the prices on there for the courses. Some of the courses on how to be a certified listing agent or how to get leads, things like that. A lot of those courses are $1,500 courses, they’re all down to $99 right now. We figured people are home wanting to learn stuff, so if you haven’t checked out Rebus University yet for a lot of the stuff that agents like Kelly have come on and talked, go check out some of our coursework.
Kelly, if somebody wants to reach out to you, they want to find you, they want to ask you how to choose a team, they want to send you referrals out of New York, what’s the best way they can reach you?
Kelly: You can find me on Instagram @kellyskeval. Also, I’m on Facebook as well, and then they can also reach out via email too.
Aaron: That is great. Kelly, it was really fun getting a chat to you. I love your story. I love your story of how you got into real estate, how you guys are trying to create all those different streams of income. I can wait to hear how the new eight unit goes. Like going from 10 units to 18 units, that’s going to be a fun transition. I remember making some of those transitions and steps along the way, and we can’t wait to hear more. Thanks for coming on. Any last thoughts that you want to tell everybody out there?
Kelly: Just keep killing it. Keep going after it, I guess, right?
Aaron: Right. That’s all we can do. Keep moving forward. Before we know it, we are going to be out of quarantine and we are going to want to hit the ground running. Real Estate Rockstars, thanks for listening. Kelly, thanks for joining me.
Kelly: Thanks, Aaron.