How I Went From Unemployed and Broke To Becoming One Of The Most Successful Landlords in Baltimore
Meet Mary Jo, Property Owner, Entrepreneur & Coach
When I was in my early 20s, I was married, raising a family, and my husband didn’t make much money, so I was looking for ways to make more money to help with expenses.
So, I helped renovate the basement in our house into an apartment to rent it out.
Which basically meant that I was downstairs knocking down walls and installing kitchen cabinets myself.
After 2 months of dusty, hard work, we finished renovating the basement. We rented that space out to a friend, and that rent helped pay our mortgage.
And that was my very first rental property. Essentially, I was house hacking before it had a name!
About 10 years later, I decided that I wanted to own more properties to rent out.
However, there were a few minor problems. I had very little money, I was unemployed, and I had no college education.
But I did have what I needed to succeed: persistence, determination, and a belief that I could do it.
I knew that if I was going to make a decent income renting properties, there was a lot I needed to learn.
So, I started studying the business of real estate investing and landlording.
I joined a real estate investing class where I met many great people in the industry who were able to provide valuable information and professional services that helped me in my new business.
I learned some common mistakes real estate investors make, so I could avoid them.
I learned what to look for in a rental property. And I learned the legal aspects of owning and renting a property.
In February 2002, a wholesaler in my real estate investor class found a great rental property and asked me if I wanted to take a look. This house had exactly what I was looking for: It had 3 bedrooms, in the right neighborhood, and it did not need significant repairs, and I knew I could make money renting it.
So, I got the property with only $5,000 out of pocket.
(This whole process happened so fast, I felt like it was magic. I felt I had a superpower, being able to turn $5,000 into a profitable rental property)
How did I buy a house for $5,000? I put $5,000 down on the property, and I borrowed the rest from a hard-money lender. Then, once I got a renter in the home, I refinanced the house with the bank and paid off the hard-money lender.
And fortune was on my side. I immediately found a great renter, and she stayed in the home for 17 years.
But fortune also decided to test me at the same time. After I had verbally agreed to rent the home to this woman, another great applicant applied.
She seemed perfect. We had a good conversation, and she seemed very sincere and begged and pleaded to rent my house.
And I told her I couldn’t rent her the house because I had already agreed to rent it to someone else.
And when I give my word to someone, I stick with it.
Integrity is one of my core values. Integrity means doing the right thing in a reliable way. And integrity is absolutely essential to being successful in the real estate business.
Because if people can’t trust you to do what you say you will do, it is very difficult to succeed in real estate.
So, I didn’t rent her the house, but she was a great qualified applicant, so I kept her contact information and told her that I would call her if anything changed.
And since I stayed in alignment with my values of integrity, more opportunities came my way, even quicker than I could imagine.
Just two weeks later, there was an auction of a great house on the same block from my new rental property. And it is very beneficial to have your rental properties close to each other, in the same neighborhood.
So, almost like magic, I had a chance to get another great rental property in this great neighborhood. And I already had the perfect renter lined up!
I got certified funds from my bank, and I attended my first live auction.
I was very nervous to be bidding, but I felt good knowing I could immediately rent the house if I won the bid.
There were 10 people at the auction, with three of us bidding. It went so fast...you blink your eyes, and it is over...
When the auctioneer shouted out, “going once, going twice, sold,” I knew that I was the high bidder, and the house was mine! At that point, I let out a huge sigh and this is when I realized I had stopped breathing during the auction.
I now had another great rental property, at a great price, and a qualified renter ready to move in.
The Magic of Serendipity:
I truly believe that when my intuition told me to find this applicant a house, the universe had a bigger plan in place. Little did I know the turn of events that was going to take place in the future.
Her family moved in two weeks after the auction and stayed for 10 years and she became one of my best renters. She also, magically become a wonderful blessing to my family.
During the last 7 months of my mother's life, my renter took care of my mom. It was a comfort to know that I had someone I could rely on during such a difficult time in my life.
With this next rental property completed, I knew I was on my way to becoming one of the most successful landlords in Baltimore.
Fast forward to today…
I now manage over 100 rental properties and manage 50 rental renovations every year.
I am passionate about helping women landlords succeed in this business. So now I run a high-end coaching program to help women landlords overcome their biggest challenges and create financial freedom.