To what distance would you travel to achieve your dreams? At what length would you go to get to where you want to be in life? If you’re anything like me, the answer to these questions is simple: there’s no distance too far and no length too great to get what you want.
In 2002, when I was just starting out in private real estate investing, one of the ways I would find potential deals would be to drive neighborhoods. In fact, it was my favorite way.
It was really so much fun for Amy and I – the adventure, the discovery, the exploration, the talking out of our dreams along the way…
Plus, every time we found a vacant house we got reeeally excited. Who knew what the story was. Maybe the owners were sick of this burden property and just needed someone like me to come along, end their misery, and of course make some money in return.
The more addresses we put on that list, the more excited I was to get back home, look up these addresses, and play real estate detective trying to figure out the story of each of these mystery houses.
Ah yes, fond memories (sigh). So magical, so fun, so long ago, yet I remember it like it was yesterday. Particularly the part I’m about to share with you next.
Remember the part where I said we were just starting out? If you haven’t guessed it we were flat broke. We weren’t just casually driving neighborhoods hoping to find a deal, we HAD to find a deal. We drove every single road in Sarasota, FL over and over so much that even to this day you can name a street and I can probably tell you the neighborhood.
I had just flipped my first house after 3 months of starting. The check was $2500 and already spoken for.
It was Friday, Amy just got paid and it was maybe a little over $300 for the week. We had bills pending, nothing else in the bank, and this check would be gone by Monday. But, there was hope.
I had finally got a hold of one of the owners of those vacant houses. And not just any random vacant house, the worst vacant house on the list (meaning the best opportunity for us).
This place was as bad as you could imagine – front door wide open, trash everywhere, rats, holes in ceiling, drug needles on the floor…yikes! The good part was that it was in a decent neighborhood so I’m sure the neighbors just loved this place.
The bad part?
The owners were in, wait for it…Canton, OH! Of all places, my home town, the place I was born and raised! What are the odds?
Surely it was destiny.
When Amy got home, I told her about this awesome deal and I thought we could get it, but we might have to drive to Ohio because I just couldn’t get these people to commit on the phone.
I fully expected her to say, “no way! How are we going to go to Ohio and back with no money? If we don’t get the deal, we’re screwed!”
But that’s not what happened. She said, “let’s do it. You’ll get the deal, I believe in you.”
Damn this chick rocks.
There was another problem. Canton was 17 hours away and Amy had to be back to work on Monday, so we’d have to make the trip there and back by Sunday, and it’s Friday.
We drove all night and at some point slept in the car in the back of a Wendy’s parking lot. My mom was still living in Canton so we could at least stay there for a night. We got there after dark on Saturday.
I called the owners of the vacant house. They had no idea I was coming for them.
I took a deep breath, scared to death, but unwilling to take no for an answer, and dialed. I had to get in front of them.
A woman answered, we talked. One minute later, she said no. I was stunned, and somehow the call was over.
What. Just. Happened? Thoughts were racing, how could this be? We were meant to be up here, weren’t we? I was here to get this deal.
Fuck that. I called back.
“Listen, I drove all the way up here to see you in person, so you know who you’re dealing with. It’s snowing like crazy outside (did I mention it was December?) and I don’t want to leave the house either. But please, just give me a few minutes of your time. If you don’t like what I have to say, we walk away friends…” I’m not quite certain exactly what I said, I may have been temporarily possessed, but it worked.
She said okay. Out the door I went. They didn’t stand a chance. There was no way in hell I was leaving without a signed contract. I did not come all this way to be denied.
Nearly 2 hours later I returned, contract in hand, utterly relieved and ALIIIIIIVE!
We got maybe a few hours of sleep before heading back.
The next day, Amy drove, I dialed. I called every investor I knew to go by that house and give me their best offer. Before we even got home, I had the house sold.
I got a $2000 deposit from an investor on Monday, and 10 days later we closed. I got $6500 more.
This money was my fee for making a deal happen, yes, but also life’s reward for thinking big, taking action, and refusing to lose.
What you want in life is yours for the taking, even though sometimes you might have to travel great distances to get it.
Such is the journey.
Matt, along with his wife Amy Stefanik (The Entrepreneur's Wife®) is the creator and owner of GYMRATED®, an online fitness brand. He is also the co-creator of the Shopify Store Pro brand, and CEO of Ecomisoft, an ecommerce software company.