Brie Schmidt: The Real Estate Approach

Brie Schmidt, Managing Broker of Second City Real Estate, shares insights about her journey, ideas related to real estate, and working with investors.

What according to you makes for a successful woman realtor? How have you integrated the same thought into your real estate journey?

Being successful in real estate requires the following:

Expert knowledge: I find the people that are successful are experts in their area. That can be luxury real estate, investment properties, starter homes, or a specific town or city. When you try to do everything, you do nothing well. But when you become the most knowledgeably person in a niche, you position yourself as the go-to person in that field.

Perseverance: Being an agent or investor is like any other business, it has a high failure rate usually due to lack of capital. Many people think becoming an agent is easy and all you need to do is pass your exam and then start working with clients. Realistically, it has a 6+ month sales cycle and for most people it takes about 2 years for your business to get off the ground. You need to persevere and have confidence that the hard work you are doing today will pay off down the road.

Capital: As an agent you need capital to cover your living expenses for at least 6 months as well as capital to invest in marketing and advertising. Very few agents can build a successful business by only marketing to their sphere. As an investor, you also need capital to build your portfolio and operational costs. Both these paths can be done while working a W2 job until you have the ability to replace your income.

Talk to us about your growing up years. What is your earliest memory as a leader/entrepreneur that you can remember?

I never saw myself as an entrepreneur. I got started in real estate at the age of 17 when the agent selling our house bonded with me and told me I would be perfect for this industry. I didn’t go to college and worked for her part time as an assistant until I was old enough to take my licensing exam at 21 years old.

Within a year I gave up on the business because I lacked the skills to be successful. I was 22 years old with no college degree and no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had a recruiter reach out for a sales job at a large organization and I remember saying to them that I wasn’t a salesperson, but the hiring manager told me he thought I was perfect for sales, and I should interview them.

I ended up being very successful and often won awards for being a top sales rep. I thought I wanted to work my way up the ladder in the corporate world and have various positions in business development and as a team lead. I was fortunate enough to receive leadership training from some of the best organizations in the country.

But it wasn’t until I left the corporate world and became self-employed that I felt like I was a leader, because it allowed me the ability to do things my way without the confines of corporate rules.

What prompted your interest and subsequently your foray into the real estate space?

I had bought a “house hack” property which was a 3 unit building that we lived in and rented out the other units to offset our mortgage. I had been working in the corporate world for 9 years and my life goal was to be a corporate executive. I was working 60+ hours a week, travelling all over the country, and answering work emails at night or on weekends.

Just after my father’s 60th birthday he was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer. He passed away a few months later just after my wedding and the day before he was supposed to retire. He had been offered early retirement years before and had always put it off. He would say “after you get married, I will retire and go travel” or “after your brother finishes college, I will retire and go travel” and he never got to do any of the things he wanted to do.

It made me reflect on my life and what I really wanted out of it. If I continued on my path in the corporate world I could end up in the same position, never being able to fully enjoy my life and do the things I wanted to do. Since I had kept my license active all those years, I decided to use it to buy another apartment building, then after that we did a large renovation project and pulled out the equity to buy more properties.

Within two years of my father’s passing, I had enough properties to supplement my income and I left the corporate world to be a full-time real estate investor. From there everything else fell into place; I started a brokerage firm with a team of agents that specializes in investment properties, I cofounded the largest real estate investors conference in the Midwest, and I developed a training program for real estate agent on how to work with investor clients.

Talk to us about your journey in the real estate industry. What have been some of the biggest challenges as a real estate investor?

The biggest challenge is accepting what you can control and what you cannot control. Both as an agent and investor the business is very reactive, and you need to be agile. You need to focus on the things you can control, which are your actions and your reactions. Everything else you need to deal with as it comes.

As a real estate coach, what advice would you give agents when it comes to working with investors?

There is so much to learn! The thing you need to understand about investors is that it is a lifestyle and subculture. To work with investors, you need to understand the investor mindset. Almost 25% of all home sales were purchased by an investor and 75% of the homes purchased were single family properties.

This is a large portion of the market that agents are missing out on, but investors only want to work with investor friendly agents. 70% of investors I surveyed said they went through at least 3 agents before finding one that was investor friendly, and 20% said they still have not found an agent that knows what they are doing. So, there is a major disconnect and I use my experience as an investor to teach them how to find and work with investors.

Finally, talk to us about your vision going forward for your brand (Second City Real Estate) and network.

My vision is to help as many people as possible. I don’t have set goals as far as numbers or quotas because not all properties work for investors, and I will never talk someone into a bad investment just to hit a sales goal.

We have sold $140 million in investment properties since 2020 and last year we helped clients add over $2 million in gross rents to their portfolios. So, my vision is to continue to educate our clients on what properties will fit their needs and help accomplish their goals.

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