Episode 29

General Construction, Real Estate Investor - Stephanie Smith - How Not To Flop Your Flip

Stephanie is a contractor who specializes in real estate construction. In this podcast, she discusses the process of working with contractors and how to choose the right one for your project. She begins by explaining the different types of contractors, such as general contractors and sub-contractors. She also talks about the importance of getting multiple bids, checking references, and reading reviews. Stephanie then gives her top tips for choosing a contractor, including paying attention to communication styles and looking for someone who is organized and detail-oriented. By the end of the podcast, you will have a better understanding of how to choose a contractor that is right for you.

Here is Stephanie's Bio:

Stephanie Smith is a persistent closer, dominating Real Estate with her quick thinking, strategic decision making, and witty humor. In learning the importance of owning her own at an early age, Stephanie set out during college to buy her first home with her college refund check. After being shown about a hundred properties, the home Stephanie picked unknowingly appreciated triple the purchase price in under one year. Amazingly for Stephanie, this new finding was the beginning of Stephanie’s lessons to come in the world of Real Estate.

Prior to Stephanie’s career taking off as an investor, Stephanie was a Certified School Counselor within Pennsylvania for three years and in the Dominican Republic for one year. After being rejected for a renewal of contract as a school counselor, Stephanie began to reevaluate her passion and purpose in life. In knowing that she loved to help others, Stephanie sought out to devote her time and energy into the planning and execution of providing quality and affordable options for renters and home buyers.

To Date, Stephanie is the CEO of Wake of Investments, Philly Made Construction, and We Heart Vacations. She wears many hats as a Licensed Real Estate Agent, Licensed and Insured Contractor, Wholesaler, Air BnB Host, Landlord, and Investor. She has three college degrees and in her spare time she likes helping others, hanging from trees, and being on "somebody’s beach."


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📌🧤Connect Personally/Social Media 👉: https://JeromeLewis.com


Um, welcome to the remarketing podcast. My name is Jerome Lewis. I am your host for today. The remarketing podcast is a podcast where we talk marketing tech, business and leadership, and we talk these things for real estate agents, investors, and entrepreneurs. Our two purposes, purpose, number one, to spotlight you, Stephanie, your business, your service, or your product in a way that provides value to you, including market exposure and content creation and purpose.

Number two, to educate and inform our audience and listeners. That being said, we have Stephanie Smith, Stephanie Smith. She has a long bio. So you gotta be a with Stephanie Smith is a persistent, closer dominate in real estate with her quick thinking, strategic decision making and witty humor and learning the importance of owning her own and an early stage, Stephanie set out during college to buy her first home with her college refund check after being shown about a hundred properties, the home Stephanie pick unknowingly appreciated.

Triple the purchase price. And under one year, amazingly for Stephanie, this new finding was the beginning of Stephanie's lessons to come in the world of real estate. Prior to her career taken off as a real estate investor. Stephanie was a certified school counselor within Pennsylvania for three years in.

In the Dominican Republic for one year, after being rejected for a renewal, for a renewal of contract as a school counselor, Stephanie began to reevaluate her passion and purpose in life and knowing that she loved to help others, Stephanie sought out to dev her time, energy, time, and energy into planning and execution of providing quality and affordable options for renters and home buyers.

To date, Stephanie is the CEO of wake up investments. Philly made construction and we heart vacations. She wears many hats. Trust me, many hats y'all as a licensed real estate agent licensed and ensure contractor wholeseller short term rental host, Airbnb landlord and investor. She has three college degrees and in her spare time, she likes helping others hanging from trees and being on somebody's beach.

Stephanie, welcome to the podcast. Thank you. So that's a long bio. How you doing AB? Absolutely. I'm excited. I'm excited that you're here. We we've known each other long enough and, um, I'm just excited to have you here. So, um, we have a few questions that I'm gonna ask you, but before we get into those questions, I want you, you know, other than like the bio that we just read, tell us a little bit about you, Stephanie, and your own words.

Okay. So I think I'm very fine and adventurous. I love real estate. Um, I will say that, uh, a passion of mines is being able to help others. And so I begin my journey within real estate, seeing how it can potentially lead to financial and time freedom. And that's exactly what I want, uh, for. Uh, so I'm super excited to be here to be able to share my knowledge and yeah, let's go from here.

Excellent. Awesome. Stephanie, so you got, like we said, in the bio, you have, you wear many hats. And the first question that we have, we're gonna get into your career and what you do. The first question I have for you is what is the most important lesson you've learned over your career? Mm-hmm and when I say career, I want you to, where would you say your is your primary?

Focus is in what you do as an I. Okay. So my primary focus as an investor, I would say is doing my best to be organized. I think that, uh, it is something that I'm striving for more and more with delegation into my business and just putting certain systems in place. To be able to help me throughout my business.

As you noted in my bio, I wear a lot of hats within real estate, uh, from being a construction, um, a contractor from being a Airbnb host to being a renter. So I definitely need certain systems to be able to put in place to be able to manage my day to day task. So. We kind of, what is your, what's your, so if I, if somebody said Jerome you're, what do you do?

I would probably say primarily, like I also invest in real estate. I got a wholesale business, like a, you know, tech business. Mm-hmm I would say I primarily I work with, um, I, I run like a marketing agency. We do marketing, right? Although I'm an investor. Mm-hmm so for you, I posed the same question. What is it that you do?

What can we call you of those many things? What's the primary thing,

a contractor contractor. And, and so what's, what's a contractor, like, is it in the construction contractor? Like, and I know we do many things, but I'm trying to, you know, hone in on your specialty here. So, okay. So I am a construction contractor. And what that looks like for me is simply project managing in a sense.

So as a contractor, I do a lot of management for my properties, as well as others. I take on more so small jobs. I have a couple full gut renovations I'm doing for a few clients now. For the most part, when I have clients I'm taking on smaller jobs in my projects, I'm taking on full gut renovations. So it is more so for me, managing, making sure that my subcontractors are in place or the people that I have directly working with me.

I have about two and a half teams. I'm gonna say a half cuz sometimes they end. Sometimes they out . Uh, but I have about two and a half teams that I'm running between Delaware and Philadelphia currently. And with that. Said it is a lot of management, making sure that everyone's on site, doing what they need to do, making sure that they have the materials that they need on site, uh, and ordering before that particular phase comes up.

So I teach my students about having, I have six phases to construction. And so with that, um, I need to be able to make sure that the projects are running smoothly. All right. So, uh, we have like a, I have like a list of questions for you, but something that you said I'm gonna deviate, you said students, can you tell us, what do you mean students?

How does somebody become a student? What do you teach? What is that? Okay. So that's one of my other mini hats that I wear. So I do have a educational platform and with my educational platform, I do have mentees. So I take on a small intimate group every few months where I'm teaching them how to fund. How to find fund and fix bills.

So the three Fs finding funding and fixing bills. So we go over everything from how to obtain lending, whether it's private lending sources to hard money lenders, to how to be able to fix a project from a to Z. So we talk about the different phases of construction, uh, uh, as well as, uh, grandma houses, if they just need a little tight cosmetic rehabs, you know, something.

Uh, in and out, or if it needs a full gut or if it's new construction, we go over numbers. So how to analyze deals so that you know how to be able to approach lenders as well. You have to speak with confidence when talking with lenders. So those are my three components that I, uh, own in, in my course, uh, which is while my mentorship, which is finding funding and fixing.

Okay. So here's what we're gonna do since, you know, we talked a little bit for you. You're pressed on time. You're gonna have to come back. You're gonna have to go into more detail on what it is that you do for students and how you can teach people to do what you do that fear. Okay. Awesome. Awesome. So, uh, the question that I had, first question that I had for you, what's the most important lesson that you've learned over your career.

And when I say career, I want you to focus specifically on the construction. So what's one thing that you really learned, like what's the important lesson you learned over a construction contract. One thing that I think is just continuing to uphold integrity. I think that's a big thing because you have deadlines, you have contracts that are in place, um, and you wanna be able to deliver, um, a product.

And I say that not just for me within my business, but the people that I'm working with as well. Uh, because when I'm hiring persons, you have to do your due D. And you wanna be able to make sure, um, you, you, you can't always know, but as long as you have your checklist and you go from there, you know that you've done your best and you haven't cut corners, but to make sure that you uphold integrity, cuz that's the biggest thing.

Um, you want people to keep on coming back or you want people to refer you from your business. So in construction, It can be kind of cutthroat what some people say or, um, it can be very difficult at times. So finding a lot of times people say finding good contractors is hard to come by. So you wanna be able to uphold integrity, keep your word, um, in this business.

And so I think that, uh, Just being upfront when your contracts and stuff. So if a person gives you a price, let's say for $50,000, then you wanna make sure that you stick to that. And in your contract, if it specifies that there's an inflation of materials or so forth, you wanna make sure that you have certain clauses in place or else you're gonna have to keep your word on that price.

Uh, so you definitely want to make sure that, uh, you're just upholding integrity. I think that's one of the biggest things. Um, it, it, it. It's something that I've seen within the business per se, but it's not, and it's something that I've just learned to respect and value more, but it's not something that I need to learn because, um, I am very trustworthy and honest,

so yeah. So I definitely think. It's a big thing in the business though. And you value it so much. When I find good sub subcontractors, I value it so much. Um, when they're upfront, when they're honest, uh, and it just makes me keep on coming back. So I, I wish we had time or time, but here here's the thing, like you said, good contractor.

What does that, what does that mean?

A good contractor. Mm-hmm could you explain that? Mm-hmm so I define, uh, a good contractor as someone who's reliable. Someone who upholds good customer service and is, um, responsive. That's a big thing. Um, right now I'm chasing somebody down for a permit that I shouldn't have to. Uh, so I don't really like that part of it.

Um, what's the permit. So, so we got things down. We gotta get, you know, as simple as. So when we're talking about construction, you want to keep in mind that you need to be able to file for, um, documentation that allows you to do things at properties. So allows you to do certain work. So we have to obtain a permit, which is.

A document that allows you to do the work. Uh, so I need a plumbing permit currently, and I need all my mechanical permits, which are plumbing, HVAC and electric. HVAC stands for heating air condition and ventilation. Wait. Yeah. Heating air condition and ventilation. And, uh, what am I I'm missing one Alicia air condition.

Yeah, air condition. Sorry, HVAC. Yes. There you go. Thank you. I'm like, am I missing a C, but no, yes. So there you go. So I, uh, need permits from HVAC, from, um, electric and from plumbing and I am missing my plumbing currently. And so, yes, I can't do an inspection. So that holds me up. So you wanna be able to also put things in place with contracts where.

If they're holding you up and they say, they're gonna deliver by this time, then you can potentially give an incentive if they, sorry. Um, you take away if they're holding you up a penalty penalty, but if they do finish early, then you wanna be able to give an incentive. So it goes both ways. Um, so. And this situation, this person is holding me up.

Um, so yeah, so we'll have a discussion. We'll go from there, but yeah, that's what a permit is. Uh, so I'm a good contractor. Someone that's reliable, somebody that's responsive, somebody has good customer service, upholds, integrity, uh, and gets the job done efficiently. Okay. So next question that I have for you is, is it's not one of the list.

It's not one on the list, but, um, okay. Did you. Did you, what got you into construction? Could you talk about that story and that process, like what made you become a contractor? I'm a control freak. You want me to elaborate on. Yes. what does that mean? So, cause, cause contracting contracting is one of the most difficult parts of the business.

That's why like, I'm like, look, I'm fine. Just wholeselling until I figure something out, I don't wanna manage these other people. People are the most difficult to manage everything else is fine, but people is something else. And then there's stories reason you hear about these contractors. Oh man. So yeah.

hard money deal. And it was a:

Quoted me about 50 to $60,000 for construction. We already know off the back $56,000 do like practically a full gut renovation, uh, is definitely not a price. We're definitely looking at six figures and not five. Uh, so with that being said, I noticed that he wasn't delivering, I needed him to deliver by the floor because I was trying to get tenants in there and rent by the floor.

um, so by the floor I noticed that he wasn't getting done, uh, in a timely manner. Like we discussed before I onboarded him. And so with that being said, I asked for, I had learned from a real estate investing group in Philadelphia. I had learned how to be able to kind of vet contractors a little bit. And it's one thing that I teach my students down by obtaining per, um, not permits obtaining licenses.

Obtaining insurances, but I didn't know about any of this at the time. So when I finally asked him like, Hey, do you have, um, a license number? Do you have a company? He's like, oh yeah, I'm licensed and insured and everything like that. And he gave me his card and I looked up his company, uh, cuz city of Philadelphia does have a pretty good website where you can look up these things.

And he was nowhere to be found. I looked him up by name by company, tried to change a little bit of the spelling around a little bit. And yes, he was nowhere to be found. He has no license number. So it just was not. Working. Uh, so I did wind up firing him. He showed me an activities license. And for those of you who aren't in Philadelphia, even though I know your audience, uh, reaches farther, but in Philadelphia activity license, you need that to do business, but you don't need that.

You need it to be a contractor as well, but you also need your contractor license. So he only had an activity license. He didn't have a contractor's license. That's when I knew. I needed to take control of my projects. And I didn't like that. I was giving him money. We had schedules. Um, but he just wasn't working in the manner that I liked.

So I took over my projects from there and I haven't looked back since S right, boss. Thanks. Yep. So next next, um, I'm gonna cut some of the questions short, cuz I know you gotta go. Next question I have for you is. What's the biggest challenge you're facing in your business currently? Mm-hmm and what, what, what are you doing to tackle that challenge?

So I talked a little bit about one of the biggest things in the beginning that you need to have within your business is systems, organization. And it's something that is a ongoing process for me. Uh, and so I started implementing as a. Uh, last year I started implementing processes from using Trello from, uh, using certain Google, uh, docs, Google spreadsheets, and developing like that to keep, um, track.

But now it's more, so I need to work a lot on delegation. I cannot be the bookkeeper, the administrative assistant, the contractor, the, uh, field inspector. I cannot be all of those things. I can't be everywhere. So the beginning of this year, it kind of took like a little of a hit because I lost my bookkeeper as well as my assistant.

So now I am in the hiring process, but I am working toward having a better hiring process. Um, so with that being said, I think the biggest challenge for me is delegating. Because once again, I told you I'm a control freak a little bit. And so I may micromanage a little. And I need to accept and understand that everybody is not going to be like me.

um, And I just am working towards delegating tasks. So hiring a few assistants, uh, and not giving everyone, you know, multiple tasks and so forth is breaking 'em down by businesses and so forth. So, uh, one thing that I do love is when people work for me, I like them to tell me the things that were positive, as well as the things that need to be improved in a business.

And then I take those things to improve myself as a. Awesome. So there's a constant theme here and it's like, you do multiple things. There's so much going on. And, um, I wanna kind of, you know, hit on that theme a little bit more. So you mentioned, uh, delegating and you can't be the bookkeeper, the contract, you can't do all these things of those many things.

What would you say is your favorite thing to do.

Hmm though. I told you I wear a hat as a contractor. Mostly mm-hmm . My favorite thing is being a landlord. My favorite thing is literally ha getting my money at the first of every month. and, uh, providing once again, like I, it stay in my bio affordable houses, but houses that. People are like, wow, this is a rental.

Like when people come into my house, they're like, you're renting this. Why are you doing this? Like one of my rentals, I have flowing stairs. Like I did that because I had it in a budget to do it. So why not give someone something of luxury? Um, and then you just have standards in place for your renters. A lot of people get scared, like, oh, renters are gonna mess it up and so forth.

And I don't live my life like that. I. Fill as though that's why you have things in contracts. That's why I asked for two month security instead of just one month, because these are, um, Locke rentals in a sense, some of them, most, most of them. Uh, so with that being said, uh, you just have certain things in place, but I do like to provide affordable and nice living spaces, uh, for those that are in need.

So that has. Been the biggest thing that I like, and also the biggest reward, um, from taking people from shelters and, um, so forth or people with less bear room vouchers, but I could be able to help them out cuz it was within my budget. So, um, I definitely love that part of being a landlord. Okay. So, uh, you got a lot of successes, you do a lot of awesome and amazing things, but let's, let's like.

I go go the adverse way. Right? So what's your biggest failure. And what did you learn from that experience? Mm-hmm so my biggest failure is actually my largest success story to date. And I say that to say that what everyone perceives as a failure can turn out to actually be. A learning curve to be able to perfect your business going forward.

money, I bought two homes in:

So that's already 80 plus thousand dollars that you are spending plus, um, fees to continue with the loan. Um, uh, so a lot of money was spent with hard money. My appraised value at that time was $350,000 for the home. And I went through so much. I did structural. So this was like one of my first full gut renovations, like full, full gut, all mechanics and everything and long story short.

I went through underpinning. I did structural where I did a third floor edition and a rooftop deck. So I'm new to this process and doing all the structural stuff, underpinning costs alone, like 25,000. Uh, so I'm taking on all of this as a new full time, like full-time investor and full time, full gut renovation investor, cuz I was an investor previously, but just not in the full gut renovation realm.

Um, $350,000 that home appraised for three years ago. And I recently sold that home for $430,000. It was my biggest sell to date with my biggest mistakes or biggest learning curves. I'm going to say, cuz I don't wanna say mistakes, but with so many people perceived as a failure, you just need to sell it as is and so forth.

I literal. Waited to the finish line. It kind of put me in a little depressive state. So there had been months where I went without working on the home. It, it just was a lot, uh, but I've learned so much from that house. I made so many connections. I cried when I sold it. It was just. Knowing that I started something and I finished it, no matter how long it took me, it was one of my biggest failures learning curve slash success stories.

And so all it all depends on how you look at it. I agree. 100%. I don't really believe in failures, however, We're getting tight on time, but I do want to ask you this because sometimes I think people will take that. Oh, don't be afraid to fail like that phrase or that statement and use it as a justification to do things unguided or ignorantly.

Could you talk about that? Like talk about that please. Mm-hmm well, I think that, uh, I have a girlfriend who has a book that's called because she jumped, uh, Joanna Jane and basically. I think that you should jump. Should you educate yourself first on what you're getting into? Yes, but when it comes to my mentees, for example, who are like, yeah.

Um, what makes my mentorship different is that I'm. I'm helping people to actually get out there and do the work, not just teach it. Okay. So not just giving content. So being a little bit more hands on, giving them homework, giving them tasks. And the reason why they resonate with my mentorship is because they've just got the content for so many years.

And then they're lost like, well, where do I start? Well, you know where to start? It's time for implementation. You just need, you need, yeah, you need, you need to just, you need to push now. It seems like cuz you know where to. Um, and so I tell people to real estate is a risk jump, but educate yourself first, if you watch YouTube for the last year, I think you got a sense of what to do.

If you've, if you gone to a lot of REI meetings, meet up.com and so forth, you know, local investing groups jump like, just go ahead, do it, just do it. You have the information up here. You're just scared to move forward. So, um, just take the risk and figure it. Way okay. Um, I, I think we can get two more questions in the first question, cuz I wanna know this about you personally.

Uh, the first, the question that I have is what do people misunderstand about you? Most that I'm aggressive? Hmm. So I think that people. Confused sometimes when women, uh, are in potentially male dominating fields as being aggressive. And I think you need to look at it more as just being a person that wants to get the things done and done correctly.

I told you earlier, That I have values when it comes to finding good contractors, finding good people on my team. And so, for example, I had a conversation with a gentleman today and he felt maybe like I was being a little aggressive, potentially. He didn't say that word per se, but I definitely felt the projection of it.

Um, and. What he's not understanding is that he told me he would deliver my finished product in January. So how should I feel that it's now April 1st, right. And he has not finished his job. So with that being said, um, It's a matter of, as a woman, this field is very difficult, but don't mistake me being assertive for aggression, uh, in this business, I need to make sure that people are getting things done.

And we all, all on a timeframe. I gave you an example of that home that took three years to get done, uh, because of a lot of issues. And, um, I learned from there what I needed to do to improve in my business. And sometimes I have to be a little bit more assertive to get the things done that. Should be getting done in a timely manner in, um, which they say will get done.

well, you know, I know all about being called aggressive, so I don't, I, I understand completely, uh, last I have a last question for you then maybe we'll get like a, a closing statement, right? So where can we find, where can listeners find out more about you. All right. So you can find out more about me on mainly Instagram, even though Jerome loves Facebook.

um, I am at my life is real estate on IG. Also, you can check out some of the things that I offer occasionally. So I. Uh, come out with sometimes my build your wealth training. I have a rehab tour that I do occasionally, and I'm working with Jerome on my first ebook that I will be putting out there. So, uh, stay tuned for that.

All of these things will be either on Stephanie Smith or if you go Stephanie Smith, which is my page now used to be Stephanie Madeline on Facebook. Or Instagram at my life is real estate. So on Facebook it's facebook.com/my life is real estate. That's the easiest way to find it. So you'll, I will, right.

I'll do my part. I'll make sure I send this over to my editor, but we need links from you. You got a link for each one of those offers and we'll make sure we put those in the show notes. Right. Yeah. Uh, do you have, do you have a site on, I know we only got a minute left, but you need a site about just you like Stephanie.

Remember we talk about that. Stephanie Madeline or Stephanie smith.com or something. What are we gonna do about that? I work on it. We'll work on it. All right. Okay. So, um, Stephanie, I appreciate you so much. Do you have any final closing statements before we. Uh, for anyone that's looking to get into real estate.

Definitely. I will say, continue to educate yourself. I definitely believe in professional development. Um, also I would say continue to be, just be consistent in anything that you wanna do. If you wanna wholesale, it definitely takes being consistent. If you wanna do fix and flipping, you definitely need to know your numbers and be consistent.

If you wanna be a landlord. Be consistent when finding those deals to be able to get you into position. So consistency is key. Um, and along with your ambition, your determination, remember that you can say that you wanna do these things, but until you start until you implement these practices into your life, they will only be ideas.

Awesome. Thank you, Stephanie. I appreciate you so much. You gotta come back so we can get more detail and we can break down some of that complex lingers that you were talking about. Cause we, as professions, we make the mistake of thinking that everybody understands what we're talking about and um, people are out there learning.

So we're gonna, we're gonna bring you back. We're gonna break that down. We're gonna talk about that. How not to flop your flip product that you have. All right. Awesome. Thank you so much, Stephanie. Thank you so much. Mm-hmm all right, bye. Thank you. Bye.

About the Podcast

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Real Estate Marketing Implementation Podcast (The REmarketing Podcast)
Real Estate and Marketing Implementation Perspectives For Real Estate Entrepreneurs, Real Estate Coaches, and Real Estate Investors by Jerome Lewis

About your host

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Jerome Lewis

Jerome Lewis is the author of the book REmarketing - Insider’s Secrets of Successful Advertising, Lead Generation, & Marketing Implementation For Real Estate Entrepreneurs.
He is also the founder and CMO of Digital Real Estate Strategy, a tech, and marketing agency that helps busy but serious real estate entrepreneurs implement, structure, and systematize their tech, lead generation, marketing, and business systems. Jerome has helped over 5000 real estate entrepreneurs from more than 40 states and 4 countries. Jerome has shared stages with some of the real estate industry’s best national experts including names ranging from Vena Jones-Cox, Krista Mashore, Marc Halpern, and many more.
Jerome is a bold introvert, father, and former IT professional. In 2021, Jerome won eXp University’s Instructor of The Year Award. He is also the host of the Real Estate Marketing & Social Media Mastermind, where he teaches real estate investors and agents tech and marketing implementation.