House Talk: How we got into real estate

I get asked all the time how we got involved in real estate and where it all began. It’s kind of an interesting topic because it somewhat comes out of two different directions for both of us. Real estate is an interesting world and brings up some serious emotions in all areas. It makes you happy, sad, frustrated, annoyed, excited, angry, accomplished, curious, creative and anything in between these. We both fit in the real estate realm but in different ways, and that works for us.

Let’s start with Nick. (The mastermind behind it all, I should say.)

Nick bought his first investment property at the ripe old age of 30 years old. If you were to ask his family members (and there’s a lot of them), they’d probably all have a list of things he’s helped them with on their own homes in the previous years leading up to his own adventures in reno’s. All the way down to his teenage years, he was tackling odds and ends jobs at his parent’s house or grandparent’s houses. He’s helped with updating/building onto decks then staining them, putting in backsplash all to take it down and put it back up again, updating countertops, repairing roofs, painting and more painting projects, and countless landscaping work. To say he definitely had his fair share of experience all before even thinking of pulling the trigger on his own house one day, is an understatement.

After coming home from college in his early 20’s, he jumped right into owning his own landscaping business which consumed a TON of his time, and not to mention energy. He is by far the hardest worker I’ve ever met and this job is NOT for the lazy by any means. However, he knew that owning this business wasn’t what was going to fulfill him forever. He decided to save up every last penny he earned while working his tail off every single day and purchased his first house in 2012. We actually had just started dating right as his offer was accepted on “Wild Turkey.” (If you haven’t just yet, you can see all of the progress, before and after’s on his first project here.) He and his brother, Andy, looked at over 30+ houses in person and probably a million online at the time, constantly scouring the internet for new listings and FINALLY decided on Wild Turkey. Once it was all said and done, he spent so much money (and time) on inspections for failed properties that just didn’t work out all to finally land on “the one”. Once he closed on it and invited me over, I remember walking into his newly purchased home a few weeks later and I said …..”Umm…it’s…. nice?, as I hopped over the bare floors and dodged hanging wires and cobwebs….;)” Really thinking “what in the world is this guy going to do with this mess? Ha! Boy, was I in for some sights to see as this one made it’s transformation over the next few months.

He wasn’t 100% sure of his plan for this project but he just knew it was time for him to put his practice to the test and jump in headfirst to this renovation. Project after project was completed and decision after decision was made completing his first ever renovation in about a years time. Once every nail was hammered in, paint dried and the dust settled, he sold it in about 30 days. From there, the rest was history.

It’s strange how things work out and how the stars always align in the most perfect way. I’ve never really had the opportunity to see someone’s destiny unfold like I have for Nick these past 5 years. I honestly believe he was meant to be a home renovator mastermind. There’s absolutely NOTHING that he doesn’t put his whole heart into from the biggest of projects to the tiniest of details. He puts in the hard work and love into every single thing that he does, which is one of my most favorite qualities he has. Luckily, he also has an eye for things which is another key part as to why I believe he was meant for this career. He can create anything you can dream up furniture wise which also comes in pretty handy in this field. (All without writing a single plan down, I should add.) There may be a ton of trial and error along the way, but his perfectionism is what holds each of our houses to the highest of standards in the end. He doesn’t rest until it’s complete, and in the best of ways– with top notch quality. I always end up so jealous of the buyers of our houses because we are the only ones that get to know what all goes into them during their transformations. They get the best of the best in my opinion, and we really wouldn’t have it any other way.

Now, onto me!

How does a girl with a degree in Broadcast Journalism end up in real estate? Well, it’s a little bit out of left field but it works nonetheless. I, like many other millennials, graduated college in 2011, with nothing but a solid amount of student loans and not a clue left to my name when they handed me my diploma.

“Go to college …they said, get your education… they said, it’ll matter down the road…they said, major in what you like to do… they said.”

Ohhhhhhh, if only I knew what I do now I’d be in a lot less student loan debt and more confident in my decision making abilities. 😉

The problem was found my senior year of college when I looked back on the past 4 years and realized I did everything the “right” way and followed the plan to a “T” (to me at least). I never dropped a single course, I never missed a single exam, didn’t even ever attend one college party, (shameless homebody alert) and put in countless hours doing homework and studying, all to end up hitting a wall in my last semester course. It was then and there that I realized the real world may not be what it’s cracked up to be after all. I was interning at a local news station to wrap up my last few hours needed to graduate. The people I followed there had nothing good to say about my soon-to-be career field, as in “Whatever you do, don’t go into news.” Or how about “Yeah….we all have to have second jobs because this just doesn’t pay well.” Or even, “Be prepared to move a lot because this job doesn’t stay put.” “You don’t get holidays off….ever…. and standing in the middle of a tornado being a baby reporter just didn’t sound like things I had even considered when I decided on this major. I knew that I loved creating my stories and writing them but that was only a minor part of what my soon-to-be future daily life would look like. All of these outside opinions terrified me and basically nailed my decision in that this wasn’t what I wanted to do after all. I didn’t know to put 2 and 2 together to think of what my DAILY job would entail and how to put that to use with the actual real world. This is mostly because, that’s just not something they teach you in college.

Well………that was no good considering graduation was within weeks and I was all but finished with my Bachelors degree. While, yes, I’ve learned a lot and thoroughly realize that it’s a per person experience and what they like to do at the end of the day. BUT, if those college years taught me anything it was that I did know myself well enough and knew deep down what I could and would be willing to see myself enjoying down the road. None of these things included the daily jobs tasks of the news field from what I had been told and witnessed during my internship. I honestly felt like I had made the wrong decision, but it was too late to go back. I tried to look at the positives though and knew that I had taken away a lot of things with learning marketing skills and at least a pretty solid resume. Plus, I had a minor in nutrition that really sparked my passions that I have today for living a healthy lifestyle.

Just for fun: Here’s a video of my graduation resume tape putting my reporter skills to work! (Back when bangs were a thing….sigh…) At least I knew one thing for sure, being a weather girl wasn’t in my future anytime soon! 🙂

But, where does real estate come into play, you ask? Alright, so I went through a period of unemployment the Summer after I graduated. (Nothing like saying “Congratulations on being a college graduate” like being turned down by over 50 different jobs that Summer to boost your confidence! Ha!) I eventually found a job as a bank teller meeting some of the best friends I still have today. This eventually taught me too that I’m not a good bank teller, (counting people’s money is stressful! ;)) but better with computers, paperwork and customer service. I quickly learned that this wasn’t really the job for me with no room for growth and ended up getting a job at a law firm on the complete opposite end of a town I lived 30 minutes away from. But, it was too good to turn down at the time and actually led me to meeting Nick! Nick’s sister, Erica, was my boss at the law firm I worked for and turned out to be my favorite person to have ever worked for. Everyone we worked with would definitely say the same. A few months into working there, she shot me an email one day asking if I was dating anyone because she has a “cute younger brother” who was single. 🙂 We were both fresh out of burned long term relationships so we both timidly said “Sure, why not!”. We blindly met up for a coffee date at Starbucks one night in November 2012 and after a few failed attempts at date nights (with two complete and total introverts,) we made it through those terrible dating obstacles and successfully made it to today! (Spoiler alert…obviously!)

Day after day went by working at the law firm, and I started to realize that the whole office 8-5 thing wasn’t my thing either. I worked in a social security department managing cases with seriously struggling and angry clients who couldn’t be made happy one way or another. It was hard to have a good day there despite the office’s failed efforts at trying to make it a better place to work. Also, despite my own efforts in utilizing my customer service skills, I just couldn’t do it anymore. I quickly realized that I didn’t like the idea of making someone else money while not seeing the benefit on my end either. Hello, real world! 🙂

So, one day my brother in-law, Greg, brought up going to real estate school together. He had this binder of information as he’d looked into it previously so I decided to take a look at it myself. We decided to go for it and figured if all else fails, at least we’d have a license to back up our not-so-beneficial college degrees! Also, I thought I could maybe be onto something and be able to help Nick with his properties down the road if I could successfully make it in to this business.

Win, win, either way.

We paid our money, signed the dotted lines and made it through the 3 weekend 60 hour course and passed the test. We had no idea what the future would hold. All of this going on while I was still working full-time at the law firm and navigating through the renovation process with Nick. I initially thought I could take on real estate on the side while working full-time but turns out that’s not quite how it played out. I was miserable at the law firm and just desperately needed to make a change. My hair was even falling out due to stress and I was crying on a regular basis because of the never-ending bad work days. Enough was enough and I knew I had to do something else for my happiness (and health). We talked it over and eventually decided that I should quit the law firm and work full-time in real estate. He knew, being self-employed and having found his own passion, that in order to be able to be truly successful, you have to be ALL IN with both feet. So, absolutely terrified but hopeful, I put in my 2 weeks and cleaned out my desk. I was no longer an employee but a self-employed full-time licensed real estate agent. I even convinced Nick’s sister to leave the firm and jump on the real estate wagon on my way out! We’re both still in it to this day and she’s a crazy good agent!

I’ve helped first time home buyers, other flippers buy investment properties for themselves, sell homes for military families that had to move out of state and handle two mortgages, met incredible customers turned friends and a little bit of everything else in between. I’ve shown countless houses, handled countless “housing” emergencies, made the impossible possible, calmed many-a-stressed buyer/seller, answered and made phone calls from sun up to sun down, and even celebrated and cried all in the same day. I’ve experienced all of the above mentioned emotions through every transaction process all while helping others navigate their own way into home ownership land or lack thereof. All while jumping in full-time to our own renovation projects with Nick and being his personal real estate agent. (Lucky him, right? ;))

Nick puts the hammer to nail, I put the brush to paint, –we eat sleep and breath projects, stage/decorate and then we sell them! Then we do it all over again! Quite the process! 🙂 I honestly love what we do and I know that at the end of the day, we all value having a heart fulfilling job that lights us up from the inside out. It doesn’t make it easy by any means, but it’s all worth it in the end.

We both wouldn’t be the same people we are today without real estate in all of it’s forms. The good, the bad and the ugly. We both have a lot of risk involved in what we do, as a paycheck isn’t always guaranteed. But, we take much more away from these projects than money. We learn the true meaning of quality over quantity and are proven with every single project, hard work pays off in the end.

My favorite part? We get to put our passions together and live our days out right beside each other. We have stressful days just like everyone, we work together and against each other sometimes, but we have fulfilling days too that are constantly teaching us what means the most to us. We value our time spent together and our freedom to live our “work days” as we choose. We get to be our own boss, take sick days when we need them and choose when we want to wake up! As if that’s not enough reason to love what we do, I also get to have time for things like blogging which I absolutely love doing. And for that, I’m forever thankful for every stepping stone that led me to where we are today.

Renovation and real estate is not an easy task, but it’s what we do–turning houses into homes. To me, it’s also our small way of getting to help others too. You want to love where you come home to at the end of the day and have a place to create memories that you’ll hold onto forever. Plus, when you like where you live you can be a better version of yourself. Only good things can come from all of that, right?

I say all of this to say, we don’t have it all figured out and have many, many years still ahead of us. So–here’s to hard work and lessons learned! We’re all students to life and are constantly ebbing and flowing with what life throws at us. Careers come and go, but at the end of the day I hope that you love what you do. I hope it lights you up and gives value to your daily life! If not, take that chance to make the change! Do it for YOU! Do it for those around you and do it ASAP! Then, don’t ever look back!

*Also, if you’re in central Arkansas and need help with buying or selling–feel free to call me anytime! I’d love to help you too! Send me an email to at chelsea.stockdale@crye-leike.com

**And, keep your eyes peeled because I have a post coming soon of how I got into blogging!

Have a fabulous day you guys!! Let’s talk again soon!

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