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  • Chris & John

My Journey Into Real Estate

Updated: Oct 10, 2019

Chris gives a full accounting of how he came to be where he is today.

From hearing other people’s stories of how they got into real estate, I think mine is simultaneously very different and similar. I may not have started Real Estate until January of 2016, but I don’t think I would have gotten into it, had I done something differently right after college.

Like many kids my age finishing up college, figuring out what’s next is daunting. Quite truthfully I had not prepared adequately for the moment after graduation in May 2014 and I’m pretty sure my parents knew that, and weren’t happy.

I didn’t do a single internship,

I didn’t specialize my degree (business management, really?),

I didn’t network or reach out to any alumni,

And I didn’t have a “job” lined up.

The only thing I had on my plate was an the Assistant Coach position, for a Junior Varsity Soccer team, at a Catholic High School, set to make $2,500 a year. So talk about reaping what you sow, I had next to nothing.

They say: “It’s better to be lucky than good” or,

“It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.”

Pick which ever one you prefer, but I got lucky enough to get an Assistant Coaching job for a Division 2 school at Assumption College. A friend put in a good word for me, I interviewed, and away I went for the next year of my life to Massachusetts.

I spent the next year coaching, making next to nothing, sleeping in a twin bed in the common area of a 1 bedroom on campus apartment (the head coach was in the bedroom), and just barely stayed afloat, but I liked coaching.

However, I missed home, my family and friends. So, when an opportunity to be the Assistant for Queens College arose I took it and moved back to Long Island. Now an Assistant Coach at the Division 2 level is never a full time gig and barely pays. So, I needed another job and I didn’t want to coach kid’s soccer anymore. So, I applied to any and every job I could; Starbucks, McDonald’s, Costco, Panera, you name it…never got a call.

I quickly realized that even if I did get one of these jobs, it wouldn’t benefit me in any way beyond money. So, I started looking for jobs that were hiring recent college grads with little to no experience, which paid well, and would look good on my resume.

If you just laughed I don’t blame you, but guess who found a needle in a haystack.

Now don’t be fooled, this was not even close to an ideal job. It was cold-calling potential investors for a stock brokerage firm on Long Island. While, making 500+ calls to get hung up on 99% of the time is the farthest thing from ideal, their hours were flexible and they would pay decently and teach me to pass my licenses (series 7 and 63) to become a licensed stockbroker. So from August to December I made 500+ calls a day, 5 days a week and studied my ass off to pass these tests as soon as possible. The result, I passed with flying colors and was a licensed stockbroker by January of 2016.

Now for those observant folk, you might be asking yourself: Wait, didn’t you say you got into Real Estate in January of 2016? And you would be right. At the same time as passing my licenses, my Mom and my cousin were going to learn to flip and sell single family houses.

Now something I need to preface before continuing, is my mindset for the past 5 months as a cold caller. I sat there and watched licensed brokers make obscene amounts of money on a consistent basis. I’m talking about watching my 26 year old mentor make over 6 figures a month for 3 consecutive months. I’m talking about making high 5 figures in a single 5 minute call. For a kid like me at the time that had never made more than the national poverty line in a single year, I was hooked. I was ready to be rich.

So, when my mom and cousin came to me and asked if I wanted to spend my entire weekend at a seminar to get a crash course in flipping houses my immediate answer was no…hell no. I was going to be rich in a few months’ time so why would I do this. Now I won’t lie, I don’t know what my mother said at the time, but low and behold I spent that weekend at that seminar, and thus my introduction to Real Estate began.

So, we tried to flip houses for the next 7 months and struggled big time. At the same time I spent the first 4 months as a stockbroker making in excess of 600+ calls a day trying to make it big and barely scraping by, and the next 3 months starting to make money, but hating my job and life. This was at a time when one of my best friends from college joined me at work, which made it better, but ultimately wasn’t enough.

The truth is, what you might see in movies about stockbrokers wasn’t what it was like, but there were elements of the movies that were consistent. Let me state, for the record, the company I worked for is very reputable and treated me extremely well. The two mentors I had were unbelievingly helpful, generous, welcoming, and stand up guys. It’s the more industry and the mindset around it that bothered me. It was more about what the client can make me, then what I can make for my client. I was in a moral dilemma because I was starting to make some good money and I trending upwards very quickly. I think I grew my business 100% each month from May to June, June to July, and July to August. I can say with conviction, if I had stayed in that job I could have done very well for myself, but it just wasn’t for me.

So again I come back to the two phrases from above:

It’s better to be lucky than good, or

It’s not about what you know it’s about who you know.

Again pick which one you want, but in July of 2016, we were about to start trying to flip tax lien properties in Philadelphia because you can buy properties for pennies on the dollar. But, right as we’re about to dive in, John Cohen brought us an opportunity to invest in an 8 unit in Covington, KY. Now I knew next to nothing about multifamily, but when I started to scratch the surface that night and do a bit of research, it was like sun the coming out from behind stormy clouds. We jumped at the chance, but with one caveat…teach us.

So after a few weeks of teaching, John mentions he is thinking about bringing in someone to help him out full time with the business because it’s starting to grow quickly. We sit and talk it over and that’s the day I agreed to come work for John at Toro Real Estate Partners (Investment side of the business), and that’s the day I was able to leave the job I had come to loathe.

So now 2.5 years later, I work full-time for Toro with John and the team. I head up the Florida region of our investment division and spearhead all the marketing and content production along with John.

And quite honestly, I don’t think I could be much happier.

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