Why are we investing in real estate?
For me it is about three things: living a great life now, creating significant generational wealth, and giving back through both personal service and contributions to non-profit organizations. I long to make a difference and leave the world a little better than when I found it. And real estate has become my primary vehicle to bring my dreams to life.
My journey from IT pro to real estate investor never was my plan. It’s been more like a discovery.
When I think about it, my real estate education began a decade ago. Over that period, three people (only one of which was immediate family) trusted me to serve them one last time as the executrix of their estate. I’m still humbled and moved that they found me so trustworthy as to know that I would do what they asked in their wills and trusts so that those they loved most would be blessed with all they had worked so hard to build and amass financially. While settling someone’s estate is a very big deal and requires a lot of hard and emotional work, it is also a huge act of love and kindness.
While it was an honor and great responsibility to serve them this way, it also turned into an amazing education. When you’re up close and intimate with someone’s financials and estate, it’s all there in black and white. What was done is done and what wasn’t done wasn’t there. In all three cases, I learned how real estate played a major role in building their wealth. In the first estate, a hardworking, wage earning couple inherited prime farmland near Austin in their midlife years. The farmland and their personal home were the two significant assets that created the million-dollar inheritance for their heirs. The second estate belonged to my parents. While my Dad had a successful executive career, the true wealth on his balance sheet was the real estate investments he and Mom had made late in life. That portfolio still provides for my Mom’s retirement income today. The third estate I settled was a dear friend who our family adopted as “aunt.” Although by profession she was a teacher, she worked hard investing in real estate for decades and amassed a large single-family real estate portfolio. Ultimately, she sold that portfolio with owner financing which provided her with an even more passive six-figure recurring annual retirement income.
In settling these three estates, I was provided a clear road map of the many ways that real estate creates generational wealth. Trying to put into practice all we learned from those who went before us, my husband and I began investing in single family real estate. We bought our first duplex and a single family rental (3 doors) in our first year and they still provide $1,000+ monthly profit. That same year, mom and I were in the car together after closing on the sale of one of her properties. As we drove by an apartment complex, she said, "I sure would like to know how to buy one or two of those." That blew my mind as I had no idea how to do that nor had I ever considered such an investment. It wasn't but a couple of months later that my nephew, Chad Sutton, called and said, "Hey, I have tickets to a multifamily real estate Boot Camp in San Diego. Want to go?" From that moment on, we have been focused on multifamily and acquired five apartment complexes in our first year.
Wes and I met in college in the mainframe computer lab. I was one of only three girls in the program at that time and am still friends with the other two. Wes just so happened to be the smartest and humblest guy in the entire program. Several years of friendship later, we married. This year, we celebrate our 25th anniversary.
We both love to work and spend far too much time doing it according to many. But when you love what you're doing, it really doesn't feel like work and time just flies by. When it starts to feel heavy like work, we take a break and play. We love to travel and visit the world's wonders or hang out on the shore of a beautiful island or enjoy a mountain stream. We love nature, animals and breathtaking scenery. We love concerts, live theater and most of the performing arts. We love to serve in our church and find great love, peace and strength in our faith. To unwind from an intense or difficult week, we will often create our own in-home YouTube concert and play music videos of our favorites. As our aunt Helen used to say, "Music is another realm."
Giving is truly one of the most joy filled parts of our life. Whether we're supporting our friends serving as missionaries around the globe or helping build a new church in a growing or under served area or providing resources to people through charities like the Heifer Foundation or our local Habitat for Humanity or even supporting our partner Moe Philogene serve the people of Beirut.
The first thirty years of my professional career were spent in information technology. It was a blast being part of the up and coming new thing in the 80s. For me though, it wasn't just about the technology. It was about applying that technology to solve business problems. Now that was energizing and fascinating. Through that passion, I was grateful to hold leadership positions in major corporations like IBM and Northrop Grumman while serving their Fortune 50 clients on multi-billion-dollar contracts. For a few years, I contributed to the greater good working at Texas Department of Family and Protective Services as well as the Texas Health and Human Services system to help elevate IT services in the public sector. In addition, I launched and ran three other businesses during that time as well. Whether intrapreneurial or entrepreneurial, I love business and doing what it takes to accomplish the goal and realize the desired outcomes whether that took the form of a billion-dollar IT outsourcing contract or launching a small business.
Real Estate Track Record Summary
General Partner for 35-unit multifamily in Knoxville purchased in January 2020
General Partner for 36-unit multifamily in Atlanta purchased in March 2020
General Partner/Asset Manager for 33 properties totaling 35-units
Demonstrated increase in portfolio value of 47% for 35-units in 3 years
Demonstrated revenue and NOI increases of 30% over 3 years for 35-units
Returned failing company to profit in 1 year after takeover
Owned and sold two businesses after increasing sales by 17% in 2006 and 1,235% in 2007 through the successful implementation of business development strategies