I started in real estate with nothing and succeeded. Can You?

Allen’s Story:
One does not need to have a healthy bank account to be able to buy properties. Sure, it is helpful. However, I can tell you from personal experience that you can be a pauper and succeed in real estate and on line in the digital economy.
My Personal Story of Where I Started From
I had meager beginnings. My family way back on both sides are people of strong fiber and character, hardworking, but poor. My parents continued in that tradition. Oh, we were not destitute or anything like that. We always had food on the table and a roof over our heads. (I was the oldest of four boys.) I remember one Christmas when money was tight, and all Dad and Mom were able to afford was a pair of gloves for each of us and a camera to share. Do not get me wrong; we had more good Christmases than not, and I am not complaining. I am thankful, because I know there are those who had it much worse. My point in sharing this with you is to say, “If I can do it, so can you!”

As a teenager I learned to work hard. I made a commitment to myself that I was going to find a way to achieve financial independence. I could have graduated from high school, but I did not. Lacking maturity, and wisdom, I instead dropped out and joined the U.S. Navy. I spent five years there, got my G.E.D., and worked in the medical field as a Corpsman. During my last two years I worked nights in the emergency room at a Naval Medical Center and went to college during the day. I had gotten married and had my first son. There seemed to never be enough money. I went to school days, worked nights and part time on weekends delivering pizza, and still could not make ends meet.

I felt strongly that being in business for myself must be the key. Achieving success via higher education was tempting me. I worked closely with doctors, and that profession was of interest; however, the time commitment in getting there and a doctor’s schedule was discouraging to me. I got my paramedic’s license and went to work for an ambulance company making $17,300 a year. The money was not enough and the hours were demanding, even though I enjoyed the work of helping others.

I started to focus my thoughts on the fact that I kept hearing about people who were successful at investing in real estate. I was intrigued. So I took a real estate course and got my license. I went to work part time for a typical real estate brokerage office. I asked the broker about investing, he said “just focus on listing, the investing will come later” I did not want to wait for later.

One late night I was flipping channels on the TV and came across an infomercial called One On One. A man named Robert Allen was being interviewed talking about his success in real estate, my ears really perked up when I heard the interviewer ask “So before you began your career in real estate you served a 2 year mission for your church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.” This is the same church I attend. So instant credibility! I believed every word that was being said now. He wrote the book “Nothing Down” and “Creating Wealth”, both number one best sellers. He was teaching a full day seminar in town, and it only cost $500. Only problem, I didn’t have any spare money. So I went to my bank and borrowed the money against my car and signed up. I was the first one there, front row seat and I was excited to meet Robert Allen. About 300 people showed up to listen that day.
When who showed up to teach? Carlton Sheets, who obviously got his start with Robert Allen. Now another famous real estate guru who has done a lot of infomercials selling his investment courses and seminar. By the end of the day I was excited! Then they tried to up sell everyone into their real estate boot camp for $2000. Well I was tapped out so I had to go on that one day, which I soon learned was a lot of puff and fluff and not enough meat and potatoes. Yet I started looking at properties not sure what questions to ask or how I would actually get the money to buy.

Then I saw an article on the front page of the real estate section of the Chicago Tribune newspaper. It was about a man named Gary Furstenfeld. He was very successful at buying foreclosures. The article indicated he taught classes at a downtown learning center. I called them and asked for his phone number. When they would not give it to me, I asked them to call and ask his permission. They did and he did and I called him. I told him of my interest in buying properties and if he would teach me, I could then duplicate his efforts. I would be willing to work for free for the opportunity to be around him and learn. He scheduled an interview appointment with me. It lasted two hours.

I left my paramedic job and went to work 12 to 14 hours a day, 6 to 7 days a week for three months — for free! I was not paid a dime! However, the education that I got, — well, this old cliché sums it up, If you feed a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for life! Nothing was just handed to me; my hand was not held. I made a lot of mistakes went through the College of Hard Knocks; I pushed and shoved, asked for direction, and made things happen. Leaving my paramedic job was more than my wife could handle, we divorced. So in 1983 I found myself divorced, sleeping on a cot in a warehouse on the West side of Chicago near Cicero and Division, taking sponge baths, living off credit cards and eating 99 cent TV dinners.

After the 3 months Gary did start paying me $250 a week for helping him in his publishing and seminar business. 1985 Gary made a deal on a 76 unit building, made me the manager. It was half occupied and needed rehab. Gary moved back out to San Diego where he was from and I started making deals while I managed the 76 unit. By 1990 I owned 32 properties, several in various stages of rehab. I needed to sell a lot of them and listed them with an agent. When nothing was selling I got frustrated and said heck with it, I’ll join a franchise and sell them myself. Which is exactly what I did, I joined Century 21 Dabbs out of Flossmoor, a South suburb of Chicago.

Then having been exposed intimately with brokerage and traditional sales and realizing that traditional sales was not of interest to me I thought, with all my experience with foreclosures I’ll call lenders and offer to manage and sell their properties they take back through foreclosure. So I went to the yellow pages and started calling and created my own niche market. By 1995 I became the number 3 agent out of 700 agents over 9 offices. At this point I was paying rent of $1500 a month and keeping all my commission. They also allowed me to hire an agent under my Broker license under their umbrella. Bruce was a sales manager for a large appliance store in California and retired, came here to be near his wife’s sister. His first year with me Bruce made $50000 in commission working part time. In 1996 I realized, why I am paying $1500 a month to Century 21; after all it is my name that makes me money with my clients. So Bruce and I formed our own company, Blue Diamond Realty out of Downtown Homewood, IL. We were closing an average of 42 deals a month; our highest month was 52 deals closed.
About 1998 I started focusing more on teaching and buying properties in Indiana for our partnership. 2000 I built my wife her dream home (4000 S.F. plus full basement) in Valparaiso, IN. Living in Indiana I stayed here most of the time, established an office above our 3 car garage and only went to Homewood once a week. In 2006 Bruce announced he was retiring and moving to Las Vegas where his parents had died and left him a home and sizeable inheritance. That meant I had to return to the Homewood office every day. I didn’t like having to do that so I sold out to our junior partner we had taken on, 100% everything. I bought the building in Lake Station because of its central location to Lake, Porter, LaPorte County Indiana and Illinois. Rehabbed it and opened the doors in January 2007. I built an REO business once and knew I could do it again starting all over from scratch.

I share this bit of personal history with you in an attempt to instill in you the concept that you do not need money to get started in this business; nor do you need a great amount of education. Both can be acquired as you progress, all you need is a strong desire and the willingness to put forth the effort to make it happen. If you have money, it is just that much easier for you; however, the amount of money you have limits the amount you can do. The information I share can work for you as well as for those who have no money.

I share information I wish was available to me when I first started out. If I had the information I share starting out, instead of acquiring it by trial and error through the College of Hard Knocks, I would have made a lot less mistakes and made a lot more money in less time. 
Success is available to anyone who is willing to put forth the effort to make it happen.

I am a religious person and yet I am not in this for charity. I’m willing help people with free advice to help themselves when the situation warrants it. When they need my help otherwise of course I structure a deal that makes sense financially for me as well as them. Win / Win! I’ve seen people get in this business and only think about themselves, meaning they squeeze every last dime out of a potential seller as possible when they are down and out, creating a Win / lose. Those scenarios usually back fire and the deal maker does not last in the business.

Now I want to take the knowledge and experience I have and share it with the right individuals who are ready to apply themselves to real estate brokerage, investing or the online business opportunities I have created. A win / win relationship, making win / win deals.

If you believe you are that kind of individual, then send me an email to [email protected].

September 14, 2017

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