One of the great things about real estate investing is how you can do it almost anywhere. Host, Lisa Hylton, sits down with traveling realtor, Amanda Williams—licensed realtor in North Carolina since 2013 and owner of her brokerage in 2016, AG Williams Realty, LLC, which allows her to work with her agents all over the world. Here, Amanda takes us across the life of a traveling realtor and shares some tips and tricks on how to become one and make it work. She talks about finding freedom through creating passive income from doing not only long-term but short-term rentals as well. In particular, Amanda explains about doing Airbnb, breaking down the laws and regulations in different areas, and sharing its benefits. Opening your eyes to a whole new world of cloud-based real estate, Amanda then talks about eXp Realty (the Amazon of Real Estate) and the ways it allowed her to reach out to a team of agents all over the world. Move along with Amanda in this episode to learn more about becoming a traveling realtor.
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Exploring Real Estate Investing As A Traveling Realtor With Amanda Williams
I have an amazing guest. Her name is Amanda Williams. We are going to be talking a little bit about traveling as a realtor because she is a traveling realtor and a little bit about short-term rentals as well. To get kicked off here, Amanda Williams has been involved in real estate since 2008. She has been a private money lender for Fix-N-Flip Deals. She’s flipped homes herself. She’s bought and sold homes on lease options as well as subject-to and owner financing. Amanda and her partner, Alex, have a nice-sized Airbnb portfolio in Raleigh, North Carolina. She has been a licensed realtor in North Carolina since 2013 and opened her own brokerage in 2016, then affiliated with eXp Realty, the Amazon of Real Estate in 2017, which allows her to work with her agents all over the world. Amanda’s team of 30-plus realtors serve both buyers and sellers in the Raleigh market area, focusing mainly on relocation and investment properties. She enjoys traveling and helping other real estate agents create multiple streams of passive income. I’m excited to have you here. Thank you for coming on the show, Amanda.
I appreciate it. Thank you so much for having me.
I met you in person at Monick’s, which is our joint friend, the Real Estate Investor Goddesses ritual in December. Once I heard that you were a traveling realtor, I was like, “I wonder what’s entailed in that?” That made me curious about your business and how you do what you do. I’m glad to have you on to be able to talk about that. To get started, can you share with our audience a little bit about yourself?
I guess my branding worked, “You’re a realtor, but you’re traveling. How does that work?” I branded myself a few years ago. It’s funny because I’ve always loved real estate, but I’ve also always loved traveling. I was in this pitch like, “How do I do both?” I became a real estate agent and I’m like, “I’m never going to be able to travel again.” The brand came out. It’s been a beautiful journey ever since then. I’m all about creating passive income because that’s the only way that you have the freedom to travel.
How did you get started in real estate?
I got started back in 2008 as a private money lender. I was learning from someone who was flipping a lot of houses at a time. I did some classes and I did that for a while. Back in 2013, I ended up moving back to North Carolina from California and started flipping houses. That was my, “I’m going to take a dive into this and see what happens,” and it worked. We were flipping. I got my real estate license. We got into long-term rental properties because I wanted to build that passive income. I thought that the only way to do that was to own a bunch of long-term rental properties. We went full-fledge into long-term rentals for a long time.When you love what you do and the people that you're building it with, it won’t feel like you’re working. Click To Tweet
How do you play in real estate these days?
Now, a lot has changed. I have gotten my eyes open to multiple ways to create passive income and not all of them have to do with long-term rentals. We now own a short-term rental Airbnb business. We also affiliated my real estate brokerage with a company called eXp Realty, which is a cloud-based real estate brokerage. I can have teams of real estate agents all over the world. When they sell a house, I get paid and the company pays me for that. It is brilliant because right now, our biggest team is in the Raleigh, North Carolina area, which is where all of our Airbnbs are as well. We have thirteen at the moment. I’m using those Airbnb properties to generate leads for my team in Raleigh. My goal is to pass 100 referrals to my team in Raleigh. Once we get that tight-knit system down, I’m going to take that system and start planting it in different cities and building out our real estate team as well as our Airbnb business. We’re working on Los Angeles right now as well.
Can we dive in a little bit into the Airbnb business? For the audience who are probably curious about playing in North Carolina and now seeking to play in LA, the first question I’d ask is from your experience, what have you learned so far about how to navigate and set that type of business up?
It’s funny because we got started with our own personal house. My dad got sick and I took him to Mexico for a couple of months for an alternative cancer therapy down there. We put our house on the market for Airbnb and it ended up renting. We ended up paying our mortgage and all of our bills. It paid for our rent on our beach condo in Mexico. We’re like, “We’re onto something.” While we were in Mexico, we’re like, “We need more passive income.” We had our passive income from the long-term rentals, but we saw how much more the Airbnb was bringing us. We ended up getting two more properties while we were in Mexico.
We got back and we went full force into the Airbnb model. I started getting people staying in my properties that were looking to buy houses and I’m like, “I’m missing the boat. There’s a whole business to this.” We started marketing for the leads coming in from people staying and willing to purchase a property. Airbnb has been a huge eyeopener for us as far as looking at our long-term rentals and seeing that we were cashflowing to $500 per month on each of those properties. When you look at the Airbnb model, you’re way more than that. We’re averaging at least $1,000 per property per month right now. We only owned four of those. We’ve arbitraged nine of them.
Can you go into the arbitrage process?
I can and I fell into it. The third property that we owned, the well went out. Back in North Carolina, we have wells. That’s the water well. The well went out. There was no water in this property. We sat vacant for two months. We’re like, “This sucks.” If this had been a rental property that we were renting from the landlord, we could have gotten out of the lease. We could have at least gotten out of pay in the monthly rent. That made us start thinking about doing the arbitrage method, which is going to the landlord and saying, “I want to rent your property.” We have a whole pitch for it now, which works 80% of the time. You go in and you talk to the landlord. You tell them that you’re using this for business. I do own a real estate firm. I do have clients coming into the area that are going to be looking at properties. That’s our pitch for them.
We’ve got nine of them now. The arbitrage takes us about $10,000 per property to get another property under contract. That pays for the first-month rent. It pays for the security deposit, which is usually one month of rent and furnishing out the property. My North Carolina numbers are about $10,000 per property right now. I can scale a lot quicker doing it that way versus purchasing the property, doing 20% down and I have all of the risks. If I get into a property that doesn’t work perfectly, I can always get out. Giving up a security deposit is not the end of the world.
I don’t know much about the Airbnb laws and regulations in North Carolina, but how are they in comparison to LA?
We’ve been fighting some stuff in Raleigh. We don’t put all of our eggs in one basket. We have thirteen properties, but we have them in seven different towns. We have Cary, Chapel Hill, Clayton, Fuquay-Varina, in all these little outskirts areas, but they’re all within 45 minutes of Downtown Raleigh. Downtown Raleigh is the one that’s trying to pass this law, “You can’t Airbnb.” If they do, we have one property in Downtown Raleigh. I do have a backup plan for that. Being a real estate agent, I can always put properties on the MLS, fully furnished, 30-day rentals. That’s our backup plan.
As far as Los Angeles goes, we are still trying to figure out LA. There are these little pockets that you can still Airbnb in. There are other pockets that it’s no Airbnb at all whatsoever. Those are the places that we want to live in like Hermosa Beach in Santa Monica. Our goal is to locate a property that we’re going to be able to Airbnb because, at this point, we’re bi-coastal. We are half the time in North Carolina, half the time in California. We go to Mexico for a week on Monday. We’re going to Vegas for a week at the end of the month. We are not in one spot for long. I cannot have a house that I can’t run out when I’m not in it.
What are some of the benefits of doing the Airbnb model? Granted you don’t have to put the 20% down, but are there some other benefits as well?Continued success and growth is all about your mindset. Click To Tweet
As far as owning the properties or arbitraging?
Arbitraging to going to the short-term rental business as opposed to buying to going to the short-term rental business.
There are tons of benefits. If you go and purchase a property, obviously not even including how much it’s going to cost you for a down payment and all of that. What if you buy a property that doesn’t work? You’re stuck with that property. You’re going to have to either long-term rent it or sell it. We got into a situation in Durham, North Carolina where we thought it was going to be a great property. We got it, we put it up on Airbnb. It didn’t rent at all for three weeks. We ended up cutting the price in half. It still didn’t rent. We were trying to give it away, but nothing. We even put on Craigslist and Zillow as a long-term rental. Can you come in here and live in a fully furnished rental and pay the rent? There is nothing.
We ended up giving it back to the landlord and saying, “I’m sorry. We went in. We put in new floors. We put on LBT floors. We put a new vanity in and keep our deposit, but this is not going to work. We cut our ties.” We lost a couple of grand on that. If we had purchased that property for a rental property, we would have lost a lot more than $2,000 or $3,000. It’s so much better to go the arbitrage method. Granted it’s all about the cashflow when you’re doing the arbitrage method, you’re not going to get any of the nice tax deductions that you would if you own the property to each their own. It depends on what your goal is.
The other side of your business, you said that your partnership with eXp Realty, can you talk about how that process works? How did you decide to get started? What are some of the benefits that you’ve seen for yourself as well?
I owned my own firm beforehand, but it was me. It was 100% of my efforts. That was it. I had other real estate agents who wanted to work for me. To be quite honest, I didn’t want to take on the liability of hiring other agents to work under my firm name. I never let anyone work for me. When eXp came along, I saw the possibility of being able to build out real estate teams, tribes, communities or whatever you want to call it all across the United States and not have to be liable for any of that. However, step into that leader, that trainer, that role to help and encourage my agents on my team to go out, sell more houses, be better agents, be better people, have a life of balance and travel, which is what I love to do. That’s what spoke to me. That’s why I joined up with eXp. I still have my firm. I affiliated with them. We’ve got almost 100 agents across ten states. We’re about to go into another country right now with our agent. Every single time they sell a house, the company pays me because the company doesn’t have a recruiter. It’s brilliant. All of the agents are owners and we get to share in all the revenue that the company is making. We rang the NASDAQ bell at NASDAQ in New York City.
Moving to travel and real estate, I know that you’re a traveling realtor. How do you balance building your businesses, the different ones that you’re doing and also traveling as well? Maybe there’s no balance, but how do you manage both?
This is the thing, I believe that when you love what you do and the people that you’re building this with is one big family, one big community, I don’t feel like I’m working. I feel like I’m having fun. I’m hanging with my friends. We came down. We’re in the Corona Temecula area. I’ll stay with some friends. They’re in real estate. We’re going to talk about real estate. We’re going to talk about eXp. We are going to talk about Airbnb. To me, that is fun and I do that all the time. I enjoy always talking about real estate and travel. If it has to do with real estate or travel, I’m good. Small lines talk about people, weather and people who are going to inspire each other. We’re going to talk about business. How are you going to help other people? How are you going to inspire other people, lead teams and be a better you? That’s the people that I want to associate with nonstop.
A couple more questions from my level-up around as my show are about leveling up. What do you believe is key to your continued success and growth?
It’s my mindset. It’s all about what you think about and there is nothing that I can’t do. When you get to that mindset, there is no limit. I could do whatever I want to do and so can anyone who is reading this blog. It’s all up here. The way that you keep that rolling is through reading your books. Putting yourself in rooms, in situations with other people who are going to inspire you and push you to be a better person and a better you. I’m big-time into personal development classes. I’m always watching YouTube videos. I have four coaches. I have business coaches. I have personal coaches. I have speaking coaches. I absorbed myself into that nonstop. You cannot take a step back if you’re continuing to put that into your head every single day. It’s all your mindset. It’s all that you’re putting into your head.
What would you say are the biggest lessons you’ve learned in your journey so far?
It goes back to mindset. There have been some real estate situations that I’ve gotten into. If I didn’t have that mindset of, “I’m going to make this work because I’m not going to fail,” I would have failed and I would have lost thousands and thousands of dollars. When you have that mindset, it’s like, “I’m in second lien position on this property that I’ve done a personal loan on. I could lose $60,000 right now because they defaulted on their first loan. Am I going to let that happen? Am I going to roll over and let that happen or am I going to go to where that property is and figure out what’s going on over there?” Take control of the situation and take over that first loan and flip the house myself because she never did it. It’s stuff like that. It’s always being proactive. It’s figuring out how you’re going to win in the situation because there is a way to win in every single situation. You have to be creative and figure out how that is.Find someone who's doing exactly what you want to do and copy everything that they're doing. Click To Tweet
What are you most grateful for in your life right now?
I’m grateful for my family and my mom. We’ve had a tough year with my dad passing away. Also my boyfriend, my business partner, Alex, he is nonstop there with me 100%. I could not do this without the two of them. I am super grateful for having both of them in my life. It’s positive support system.
I was going to ask one other question, but I want to ask this question as well, which is what is your advice you’d give to individuals interested in coming into the real estate business and advice on building teams and building that support system around you?
Depending on what you want to do in the real estate industry, I say find someone who’s doing exactly what you want to do and copy everything that they’re doing. Rip off and repeat. Stalk their Instagram pages, stalk their Facebook pages, go onto YouTube, see what videos they’re putting out, what content they’re putting out and reach out to those people. They’re normal people. Reach out to them. I have people reaching out to me all the time and I have no problem talking to them. I would say figure out what you want to do, find someone who’s doing it and become friends with them. Take their course, do whatever it is. Putting yourself in the situations, I don’t care what town or city you’re in, there are real estate clubs. There are Meetups. There are women’s groups. There are all kinds of business-related networks and communities that you can go and network with other people who have the same mindset as you. You have to put yourself in a room with people who are thinking the same way that you’re thinking. You’re going to propel after that. That’s super-duper important.
Lastly, what do you wish you had known at the beginning of your real estate journey that you know now?
I wish I would have known probably to surround myself with those people in the very beginning and to not be so trusting and so gullible. When you’re new in the real estate industry, I was taken advantage of a few times. I trusted people that didn’t earn my trust. I trusted people who I thought were big wigs in the industry. They asked for money or they asked for this or this. I’m like, “They’re professional. Here you go.” Thank God I had attorneys that had my back and wrote the right contracts. I wish I’d have known to when you have a gut feeling about someone or something, follow your gut, that’s your stomach brain. If you have that feeling going on, take a step back because I can’t tell you how many times that I had that feeling about someone or about a deal. I went through with it anyway and it backfired on me. Follow your stomach brain, listen to it.
Thank you for coming on. This was so informative. I learned a lot from your experiences. If my audience would like to learn more about you, what’s the best way they can get in touch with you?
I’m @AmandaTheTravelingRealtor on Instagram, Facebook and all the social. I’ve also got a few websites. If you’re interested in the real estate agent aspect of it, of building your team and passive income, that website is RevShareRealtors.com. If you’re interested in the Airbnb business, I do have a course. I teach workshops. I do all kinds of cool stuff. That website is REFreedomFormula.com or you can message me on social.
She has some amazing pictures on Facebook. Thank you so much, Amanda. I appreciate it.
Thank you so much for having me.
Thank you again, Amanda, for coming on the show. What an amazing show. If I had one word to describe this show, I would say being willing to think outside the box. Amanda’s experiences of taking lots of different actions, as she took action on her goals, new things unveiled to her. As she bought properties and doing the Airbnb strategy for her own house, seeing the success and being willing to say, “Let’s try more of this,” and trying arbitrage as well. It’s amazing. Also going through the process of owning her own brokerage, but deciding to affiliate with eXp Realty to further build out her plan as well as to have the passive income and being able to then help other people to be a part of real estate and be able to generate a passive income of their own.
I hope as the audience that you’ve taken from this show the importance also of personal development. She spoke about how important it is for her to continue to develop the books that she’s reading, YouTube, the number of coaches, all of that helps you to stay accountable and helps you to keep pushing to achieve your goals. It’s super powerful. That’s a part of what makes her achieve the successes that she is seeing in her life. It is another amazing show. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. More shows are coming. Keep tuning in for our next episode and keep leveling up. Have a great one.
- Amanda Williams
- eXp Realty
- Real Estate Investor Goddesses
- @AmandaTheTravelingRealtor on Instagram
- Facebook – Amanda The Traveling Realtor
About Amanda Williams
Amanda Williams has been involved with real estate since 2008. She has been a private money lender for Fix-N-Flip Deals, Flipped homes herself, bought and sold homes on lease options, subject- to, and owner financing. Amanda and her partner Alex, have a nice size AirBnb portfolio in Raleigh, NC.
She has been a licensed realtor in North Carolina since 2013, opened her own brokerage in 2016, then affiliated with eXp Realty (the Amazon of Real Estate) in 2017 which allows her to work with agents all over the world. Amanda’s team of 30+ realtors serve both buyers and sellers in the Raleigh area focusing mainly on relocation and investment properties. She currently enjoys traveling and helping other real estate agents create multiple streams of passive income.
Amanda is a public speaker and hosts numerous events every month for investors, business owners, and realtors. Follow her @AmandaTheTravelingRealtor