Fortune favors the bold, or in this case, the witty. They don’t call Whitney Nicely the REI Queen of East Tennessee for nothing. Starting with $24,000 a year working a desk job and living on her parent’s couch, Whitney accumulated $1.5 million in real estate assets, acquiring fifteen houses, nineteen apartment units, and seven chunks of land in three years. She also runs nine companies, including She Buys It, a firm that helps women achieve financial freedom and build a legacy with passive income through real estate investing. With her rich experience in striking exceptional deals, she now teaches women who, like her, are starting in real estate with no serious financial backing. Whitney firmly believes that when you set out in business to help people, you will never run out of leads.
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Building A Seven-Figure Real Estate Business From Scratch With Whitney Nicely
I have an amazing guest. Her name is Whitney Nicely. She is an expert property investor, speaker and real estate coach. She is called the Queen of Real Estate investing in East Tennessee, but that’s not how she started. We are going to be going through how she got started. Before quitting her 9:00 to 5:00, Whitney scraped by on $24,000 a year, working a desk job, living on her parents’ couch and that was in 2013. Now, she owns more than $1.5 million in real estate assets. It’s amazing. She went from no investments or no strategies, to 15 houses, 19 apartment units and 7 chunks of land, all bringing monthly money to her bank account on autopilot. Here we go.
Whitney, I’m happy to have you on the show.
Thanks for having me, Lisa. I want to clarify that $1.5 million in East Tennessee is a lot. Out there in California or on the West Coast, you can’t buy a bathroom for that but I’m telling you, I’ve got some stuff going on over here.
As I was saying to you before we got started, I discovered you on Facebook through another mutual friend and you were hosting an event called How She Buys It. You are hosting one of your She Buys It events. I was like, “Wow.”
She Buys It is the name of my eighth company that I’ve started. I’m up to nine. Some of them are real estate holding companies. There are five that are in my face all day, every day, needing my attention. It’s like having 5 kids under 7 because they’re all less than 7 years old. It’s like having a bunch of kids because they all want my attention. They all need money. They’re all puking on me all the time. It’s what I imagine having 5 or 7 kids would be.
What was the first property? How did you get started in all of this?
I am a real estate investor. I was getting my auctioneer’s license. I was getting my real estate license and in Tennessee, you have to apprentice for an auctioneer and a real estate broker. You have to serve your time to make sure that you’re not going to go out there and make a fool out of yourself and mess up a bunch of people’s money. I was serving my time to get my license for auctioneering and real estate. I was at a real estate auction that’s where I chose to hang out on a Saturday morning and I was there to work. I had no research done on any of the properties. I didn’t have any money with me. I didn’t have a clue what was going on because I was just going to work. That was one of the four jobs that I had when I got started. They were auctioning off a bunch of property that the bank had foreclosed on. We had 90 lots. We’re going through all these counties in East Tennessee in alphabetical order.
We got to the M counties when I finally realized, “Some of the stuff is selling for $500, maybe $1,000. Are you telling me that you can buy real estate for $1,000?” My broker was like, “Yes. Do you want to buy something?” I was like, “Can I?” She’s like, “Yes. It’s a public auction. You’re part of the public.” I said, “Okay.” One of the other apprentice auctioneers was buying some land in this one county. I went up to him and I said, “What’s going on? What’s the deal with this?” He said, “Raise your hand on the next lot.” I did and I raised my hand and I was in. An auctioneer took my bid and I blacked out for four minutes. When you’re at an auction, it seems like it takes forever, but it doesn’t. I kept raising my hand and the auctioneer was like, “Nobody is bidding against you. Stop it.” I was running the bid up by myself. They were trying to teach me how to go to an auction. At the same time, I was buying this land and somebody else did eventually bid against me. We went to $1,000, but I had it for $800 or $900. We went to $1,000 and I was the high bid on it. I ended up buying 1.07 acres. I got the twelfth lot. It was a failed subdivision. Somebody sold the farm and a contractor and excavator went in, they put in paved streets, underground utilities.
We have a private marina in our subdivision. They’ve got streetlights and sidewalks and it’s amazing. What happened was in ’07, they had a big Saturday sale and they sold off all the lot. In ’07, ’08, ’09, those lots weren’t worth anything. People stopped paying the bank. This is December of ‘12 and we’re sitting there at the auction. It was a foreclosure auction from a local community bank that was trying to offload their stuff before the end of the year. I paid $1,200 in tax, tag and title. The woman that had bought it before me paid $69,000, five years before me. Since I got the twelfth lot though, I was the last lot that came with a deeded boat slip on the river. I had my own little boat slip at the marina and there are two houses in the whole subdivision. After I got into real estate, I had a little bit more of a clue what I was doing and I saw a picture of this property.
I was buying it because it was $1,000 and I happened to have a $1,200 in my savings account. When I got smarter about it, I thought, “I’m going to send all my neighbors a yellow letter and tell them that I’ll buy their lot too. I got another $1,000, what’s the big deal?” I sent all my neighbors a letter and said, “I want to buy your property.” They all called me back and I was like, “This is going to be awesome.” All of my neighbors had paid $79,000, $89,000 or $99,000 in cash for their acre. They wanted their cashback. I was like, “I’ll give you $1,000.” One guy was like, “That wouldn’t be worth the paper it was written on. Nobody is selling that land for $1,000.” I said, “You’re right, except I got mine.” I still have that land. I don’t do anything with it. I bought it in Decatur, Tennessee, and I didn’t even know we had a Decatur, Tennessee.When you see something and you know it is everything you’ve been looking for, no excuse is going to keep you from it. Click To Tweet
I was clueless when I got started, but it was $1,000 and it got me in the game. The next summer, I bought another piece of land at an online auction. This piece of land was awesome because it was zoned industrial. I was downtown flirting with the city codes, inspectors, and hanging out, doing things. I was flipping a house for my mom. I was in the office and I was really proud of myself because I bought the second piece of land and I was telling the guys, “I’ve got this piece of land. I don’t know what I’m going to do with it.” They looked it up and there’s a driveway that goes between the industrial land that I got at the second auction and my neighbor’s land. My neighbor is a big Fortune 500 company. There’s this driveway, but what the codes inspectors told me was that driveway used to be a road. It was a city road, but there wasn’t anything on it.
In 1992, when I was in the second grade, way before I was in real estate, they said, “We’re going to quit claim deed this.” The right side goes to what ended up being my parcel and the left side went to my neighbor. I said, “You’re telling me that my neighbor has been driving on this driveway, which is half mine since 1992?” The guy was like, “Yes. I bet they would pay you to rent for that.” I was like, “You can rent a driveway?” He said, “People do it all the time or they get easements or they do this, that, and the other.” I was like, “Okay.” I left and I went down to this office, this big Fortune 500 company. I busted in there and I was like, “You’re driving on my driveway and I want rent.” I was about that graceful about it too. Like, “Straight up, this is what’s going on.”
They patted me on the head and they were like, “No, little real estate girl. This is not how that happens.” I was like, “Fine. You all have it surveyed and check it out and sees what you think is going on.” They were like, “Okay.” Two weeks later, their secretary called me back and said, “Ms. Nicely, it turns out that we’re driving on your driveway and we’d like to pay you the rent for that.” I was like, “How much?” On the second piece of property, I paid $1,500 for it. A little bit more, but I knew where it was and it was zoned industrial. She calls me back and says, “We want to rent your property.” I said, “Great, how much?” She says, “We’re thinking $250.” I said, “Awesome.” This has taken a while and I’d had it for about six months. I said, “Would you pay me back rent?” She said, “For how long?” They’ve been driving on it since 1992. Technically, I could have gotten a lot of back rent, but I wasn’t thinking about that. I said, “If you would pay me for the time that I’ve owned the property and then going forward, that’d be great.” That was six months, which is $1,500.
I got all my money back when they made the first payment, but I didn’t stop there. I was on the phone with her and I said, “$250. Will you pay me back rent?” She said, “How long?” I said, “About six months.” She said, “Yes, we can do that.” They puke out money at this company. It’s one of those. She said, “Is that all?” I was like, “I don’t want to be in charge of this driveway. If there’s a pothole or something, I want you to take care of it. If a tree falls, I want you to be in charge of the maintenance.” She was like, “Okay, sure, no problem, anything else?” I said, “How about the taxes? They’re $50 a year. Will you pay for my property taxes?” She was like, “Yes, we can handle that too.” I was like, “It sounds great.” I got a contract. I ran down there, they signed it that day. It’s a month-to-month contract for $250. They paid me. In that first check, I got $1,500, $250 for the next month and $50 for the taxes that year. I got all my money back in six months. We rent the driveway for $250, but we also had a half-acre piece of industrial land. People need dumpsters. When they’re not out on job sites for flippers, they have to sleep somewhere. Lots of dumpster companies have rented that land from us. People that have mobile offices have rented that land from us because when they’re not out on a job site, they need somewhere to sleep too. There are people that need a dump yard.
Has it become an RV park?
No. It’s not those kinds of trailers. If something happens to your office, the car crashes through your office, they will rent an office and put it on site until your office can get renovated. Those little trailers aren’t always needed, so they have to stay somewhere when they’re in between job sites. We get $500 a month off that land. We get $750 every other month. Since 2013, we got our entire investment back.
When you went into it, did you know it all? Not.
I didn’t know anything about anything. What started me into real estate investing was during the crash, I was working for my mom’s dump truck company and I was not receiving a paycheck because I was living at mom’s house. What did I need money for, except to go have fun? I was giving up my check so that the drivers could get paid. My mom was giving up her checks. Everybody was doing lots of things during the recession to keep everything going. I watched my mom one day, she had this big stack of checks and she’s been a landlord since the ’70s. She’s kept buying. I said, “Mom, where do all that money come from?” She was like, “We have those rental houses.” I was like, “We do, don’t we?” We always had them and I forgot about them. I was like, “You buy these houses and people pay you every month?” I looked at that stack and it was way more than I was going to make if I was getting a check. At the time, I wasn’t getting a check, so it was a lot of money to me. I was like, “You get that much money every single month in the mailbox?” She was like, “Yes, it’s mailbox money. You should try it.” I was like, “How do I get some mailbox money, mom?” She was like, “Go figure it out. I had to figure it out. You go figure it out.”
She never sat me down and talked about Robert Kiyosaki or cashflow or debt-to-income. She never sat me down in any of that. That’s why I started going to the auctions and picking up whatever I could. I bought two rental houses on that second seller too at auction. I bought one at auction. I bought it from for sale by owner seller. I found this Fizbo at the same time I bought a house at auction. I use all of my life savings to buy this house at auction and put a bathroom in it because it had this old closet tub. It was a mess. Some of them are cute. This one was not. I spent my entire life savings on that house and getting it rented for $800 a month.
In the meantime, I found another house that I wanted to buy and it was $25,000. My Fizbo house was about $25,000. I told my brother, I said, “We’re partners. We’re going to be real estate investors just like mom. I need $25,000.” I spent his life savings on our second house. It took us eighteen months to fix and flip that one because we would go to work and buy materials. We’d go to work and pay somebody to put it in and pray the whole time that nobody stole anything. We’d go to work and buy materials and go to work and pay somebody to put it in. It was insane, the amount of stuff I did not know. I had these two houses. I had two pieces of property. I was a real estate investor times four.
That’s when I found the Knox REIA. The broker that had helped me at that first auction said, “There’s a real estate investors group. Maybe you should go to some of their meetings and see what’s going on.” At that first meeting, they were talking about creative financing. I have savings and my brother’s life savings. I had no money, I had four jobs but I had four properties. I was a real estate investor. I found out there was an investor’s club. I went to the first meeting. They were talking about creative financing and how you can buy houses without any money, credit, and anything you could go out and help sellers and buy houses. I was like, “That’s perfect. I got time but none of that other stuff.”
It was $75 to go to a Saturday seminar. I told the guy that was the president. I said, “I don’t have $75. I’m up to my ears in houses, problems, and situations.” He said, “I want you to come to this meeting. If you come and don’t learn anything for your $75, I’ll give your $75 back to you.” I said, “All right, old man, that’s a deal I can take. No problem. I’ll be there.” I went and within fifteen minutes, this guy showed us how he was making an extra $100,000 a year with 2, 3, or maybe even 4 properties that he was paying $10 for them. He was making $100,000 extra every single year. He said the guru that he was learning from. I didn’t hear anything else that man said for the next two hours. I spent the next two hours on my phone, figuring out who this other guy was.
I signed up for a boot camp in Jacksonville, Florida. I put $3,000 on my credit card. On the break, I had to go out and call Discover and get them to up my limit so that I could pay for this $3,000 and I got a hotel. Two weeks later, I took off to Jacksonville, Florida, and spent three days learning about owner financing. When you see it and you know this is everything I’ve been looking for, no excuse is going to keep you from it. From then on, it’s been a crazy ride. I did fourteen deals in my first nine months once I figured out how to do real estate investing and they’re like $136,000. It was awesome. I helped many people. That next year we did 30-something deals and bought those apartments. I started coaching and it’s been awesome. I love everything about the land, the houses, the apartments, and the cashflow. I don’t have to work at my mom’s company anymore. I have my own dump truck company. I bought the Knox REIA. Now I’m the president of the Knox REIA.
There’s so much here that I want to dive into. You did fourteen deals. Were all of these primarily the owner financing strategy?
They were owner financing or lease options. A lot of them were lease options because I was talking to sellers that had happy houses and they were happy people. They had a problem. It was mostly in life. The first house that I made $15,000 on, this couple had bought this nice house. It was their dream house. They were going to retire here. They hadn’t been in the house for less than a year. Their daughter came home pregnant and the house wasn’t big enough for them, their daughter and a baby. They had to go. She came home ready to pop. They had to go and they didn’t know how they were going to make their payments. They didn’t know how quickly the house would sell in the market. They didn’t know anything. They knew that they had actual life coming into the world that they needed to attend to. They didn’t have time to fiddle around with agents and showings and this and that and the other. I came in and said, “Make three more payments and then I’ll take it over. I’ll buy it out from you in five years, but don’t worry about it. I’ll be in charge of everything and it’ll be fine.”
These people believed me and they were amazing and they run a local business. They’d done some creative real estate before maybe, but if not, they had a problem and they had to go. Whatever I was offering was fine. There was another day left, but that was February 27th. By March 18th, I had a seller come down from Chicago and they said, “What happened to this deal?” It was on Zillow for $135,000. I bought it for $122,000 when I put it under contract with the lease option. The next day I put it back up on Zillow for $145,000. They were like, “What happened between $135,000 and $145,000?” I was like, “I bought it. You didn’t get here fast enough. You live in Chicago.” They were like, “We still want it for $135,000.” I was like, “What do you mean you want it for $135,000?” They were like, “We’re going to sell our house in Chicago. We’re selling it for a lot of Chicago money.
As soon as we cash it out, we’ll buy this one.” I was like, “This sounds too good to be true. What you’re saying is you’re going to give me all the money for this and not going to rent it?” They were like, “No, we want to rent it because we want to go ahead and start moving stuff out of our house.” I said, “Let’s go ahead and make this a lease option for a year in case your house in Chicago does it sell. Let’s keep everything open so that we’ve got time for it to sell.” They were like, “No problem.” They said, “We want to start moving our stuff out. We want to come to start enjoying the lake. It was 1 mile away and we want to keep our stuff here so we don’t have to pay storage.” They offered me. “What if we start paying you $1,000 a month until we can move in, close or do something?” I was like, “This is March. I don’t have a payment due for three months.” I was like, “Okay.”
My first payment wasn’t due until June with my sellers. They were offering to pay me March, April and May right upfront less than twenty days after I’d had this property. I was like, “It sounds great. Let’s do it.” They wrote me a check for $3,000 right there. They had known me for 30 minutes. I had a problem because I didn’t have an attorney. I didn’t have a title company. I didn’t have anybody I was working with. I’ve hired a coach, but I only have one meeting with him. I’m completely winging it. I’ve only been door-knocking once, but at that time I’d never been door-knocking. I went door-knocking attorneys. I had a seller contract and I had a buyer contract and I needed somebody to finalize it for me so I could have the property for five years where then I could lease option it for one year.
While I’m freaking out trying to find an attorney, my buyers called me back like, “We’ve got a change of plans.” I was like, “This is it. This is the other shoe. This is what it is what they tell you about.” They said, “Our house sold, they’re going to close the 1st of May. We’re going to be able to close your house by the middle of May. We’ll be there on the 15th.” I got another problem because I still don’t have an attorney. I was like, “Thank you, Lord, but what am I going to do?” Nobody’s going to deal with me. Everybody’s talking about how I’m a boot camp graduate. I don’t know what I’m doing. This isn’t real. I’m going, “No, we need to close.”
I had two interviews with one attorney and they finally felt sorry for me. It was in April. I had less than a month to find somebody to close this deal for me. They said, “We’re going to do this one, but we’re not doing another one.” I was like, “That’s unfortunate because I’ve already got three more under contract at this point.” They were like, “You can’t be serious.” I gave him all my paperwork. I slid it across the desk. They were like, “Who are you? What are you doing out here? What is all this?” I’m still with that attorney. He gave me a chance. He’s our legal sponsor for the Knox REIA. He’s been with me since the beginning. He handles all of my contracts for anything and everything I need to be done. They closed that deal. I made $15,000 in eight weeks.When you set out to help people, you’ll never run out of leads. Click To Tweet
When I was listing houses, I was making $1,200 every eighteen months or something. I didn’t know what I was doing. I was terrible at it. Even if I was making $1,200 once a month, versus I figured out how to make $15,000 every two months. I’m not listing houses anymore. “Not happening. I’m doing this. I don’t know what this is exactly. I’ve done a deal. I’m still not sure what happened.” I went on and that’s pretty much how the rest of the other thirteen went for the rest of the year. It was unreal. It was an amazing roller coaster.
What is your primary real estate strategy? How do you like to play?
I’m buying and holding. I bought a condo. A lady called me that I was Facebook friends with and she said, “I need to flip my aunt’s condo. I need to sell it.” I was like, “What’s going on?” She said, “I got a little messed up on my retirement and something. I don’t understand what happened, but I owe the IRS $25,000.” I was like, “What else?” She said, “I had this boyfriend and he needed a new car. I co-signed with him. A week later he’s got a new girlfriend and then he didn’t make any of the car payments. I owe the credit union $16,000.” I was like, “What else?” She said, “I got some credit cards and this kitchen does need to be flipped.” I said, “You need $50,000.” She said, “Yes.” I said, “No problem. I can see what I can make happen.” She said, “The other thing is though, this is my aunt’s condo. She left it to me and I’m 70-something. My next move is going to be to a retirement home. Is there any way I could rent this back from you?” I was like, “That’s a different situation. We’ll figure out how to make that work.” At first, I was going to wholesale it over to somebody.
I looked it up, it’s worth $120,000 but then she wanted to stay and I can’t do that. Not to her. I can’t offload it to somebody else. I said, “Okay.” I talked to her the next day and I said, “How quickly do you need this?” She said, “I have to go to court on Wednesday. It’s my last chance or they’re going to take me to jail if I don’t have something tied up.” I was like, “This woman has raised me through college.” I said, “You’re telling me you need $50,000 by next Wednesday or they’re going to take you to jail?” She said, “I haven’t been doing this for a long time and they’re at the end of the rope.” I was like, “I’ll figure out how to come up with the money.”
I had gotten a line of credit a couple of months earlier. I used my line of credit to cash out this little old lady who needed a great place to live. She was making retirement money. She didn’t have a big chunk. She pays me $700 a month in rent and she gets to stay in her aunt’s condo and she got to save face and not even have to think about going to jail. We got it all closed in less than a week. I still don’t even know if her daughter knows how close she was. I’m sure her daughter would have tried to do something, but I’m in the business of helping women. I don’t care if I’m helping you learn how to do real estate or if I’m helping little ladies keep their aunt’s condo and their pace of life that they’re used to. I’m in it to help women.
For a lot of people who are not in real estate, they might not realize that real estate investing, through it, you can have the power to help people in ways in which you probably would not have been able to do so otherwise.
We all want to make big bucks, but we all want to contribute and give back too. I got $70,000 in equity in this condo, so I’m doing okay here. This is going to end up being a good deal but more importantly, it was helping somebody that helped me when I was going through a bad time. Who knows? She’ll tell somebody else. I’ll be able to do another deal and make a quick $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000 because I helped her. When you help people and you want to help people, you never run out of leads.
The purpose of a yellow letter and a postcard is to get somebody to call you back. The purpose of a bandit sign is to get somebody to call you. Once you’re on the phone with them, it’s your job to find out if you can help them, if you want to help them, or if they even want to be helped. Some people are going to call you and they don’t want any help. I’m not fooling with them. Don’t follow up with them or leave the door so that they realize when they do have a problem, they can call you. You don’t have to be rude. I struggle with that sometimes. When you’re looking to help people, it doesn’t matter. There are thousands of ways to make money in real estate. There are thousands of marketing strategies. There are unlimited ideas. If the basis of what you’re trying to do is help people and people get that, the right people will show up at the right time. If you’re trying to make a buck, it may take you ten months to figure out how to talk on its own. If you’re trying to help people, it will flow.
You said that you focus on buying and holding properties, why is that your focus? One, it sounds like to help people and is there another reason why that is your focus in the market cycle?
Not in the market cycle, but my life cycle. After you bust through a whole bunch of deals, you make a whole bunch of money. I don’t know about everybody else, but I get a little bit bored and I want a different challenge. I want a new challenge. I want to do something different. I want to help people in a different way. I have fifteen houses. I have money coming in every single month. I don’t have to get up and go to work. I got that time freedom that most people want. I got nineteen apartments that pay me. I’ve got seven chunks of land. I got a little bit bored because what am I supposed to do 9:00 to 5:00, Monday through Friday, if everybody else is at work and I’m cashing checks all the time?
That’s when I started to help more women. It’s like a ripple. I can go out and help ten sellers one seller a month and not work November and December. That’s great. I’m going to help ten families. If I help ten women every month through coaching and they can go out and help ten sellers, then we get to help 100 people. I’m even helping more than that because I’m helping the girls that I coach deal with whatever they got going in life. Their sellers feel like my grand sellers or something. I coached for a while and I was ready for a new challenge. That’s how things roll. It’s not the market situation. It’s that I got myself out of a bond and everything’s cool. Now, I don’t have to hustle it if I don’t want to. I can be super choosy about the deals that I do. I can spend my time however I want to. Travel in the country or laying out at the lake or whatever it is I want to do. It’s not a market situation. It’s my life.
Building out on that, for all the different types of experiences that you have, what would you say is the biggest lesson that you’ve learned through building multiple businesses, investing in real estate, and coaching women on a regular basis?
Have you ever seen somebody try to get fifteen plates spinning? They do it at carnivals and stuff.
It’s a lot like that. It’s not super Instagramable all the time. I can’t tell you how many times that it’s the last straw that broke the camel’s back and I’m crying on the kitchen floor. I don’t think I could crawl out to my car. If this stupid phone rings one more time, that’s it. I am done. I am crawling under a rock and people don’t talk about that. They don’t talk about the real struggle. They don’t talk about the months where nothing came through. They don’t talk about the months where you forgot you have to pay property taxes and you’re in the middle of construction remodel. Nobody talks about that. We’ve got a joke in the entrepreneurial world and the real estate world. It’s a zigzag or it’s a roller coaster and it says, “A day in the life. I’m doing great. I’m going bankrupt. This is awesome. This is terrible. Nobody told me about it.” It’s up and down.
If that freaks you out, just don’t because that’s a joke but jokes are funny because they’re true. A lot of that is true. On good days you laugh at it and on bad days you go, “That’s me. I’m right there. I’m in a ditch. I’m going back. Can I move back in with my mom?” Know that we all have bad days and we all highlight the good days, but there are bad days in real estate investing and in business. It’s worth it. I’m not the person that I could have somebody tell me what to do and what time to show up and all those things. I need variety. I need a challenge. That’s how I live my best life, but take it one bite at a time. It’s a good lasagna. You don’t throw it all in there and it comes out amazing. You had to put it on a layer at a time. I see people that adopt 5 or 6 kids out of a family. They go from no kids to 5 or 6 and I know why they feel like they’re going crazy because I added one business, one rental, one deal at a time, and then you’re juggling all of them. You figure out how to juggle all of that, all those schedules and all of those things and then you add another one. You think you’re crazy because you added another one, but in the end, it’s all the best lasagna that your mom is super proud of.
I don’t know if you might resonate with this, but it feels as though, by you keep on trying different things and expanding yourself, your capacity to do more, has continued to expand compared to at the beginning of your journey.
I’ve gotten to a place where if we’re going to talk about the house, I feel like I have my foundation. I’ve got all these pieces to my puzzle. I’ve got it in concrete. I don’t have any desire to add anything else on. I don’t want another addition. What I want is to go up. I want to start building up with what I have. I’ve been in a growth phase where “I want to do this,” and then I want to just not do anything. I’m limiting myself and I’m saying no. For January and February, I said no to a business idea, a speaking gig or another a deal. I said, no every single day. I counted how many times did people ask me to do this.
A few years ago, I’d be like, “Let’s do that.” I’d go full speed ahead down that road and then end up so far off of my goals, my vision, and how I want my life to be, mostly trying to make other people happy and tending to them. “Yes, I could do that.” As women, we do that all the time. At the end of the day, I want to be with my family and my friends and take better care of my stuff. If I have some free time and I want to start a charity, donate to a good cause or spend the Saturday doing habitat free man. If I want to do that, then that’s fine, but I don’t have to be committed to it for the next six months.
With that said, what advice would you give to someone who’s reading and who’s thinking, “This lady is amazing? She has done many different things and has started from the bottom with zero investments to many investments now.” What advice you’d give to that reader who’s thinking about getting started in real estate investing?If the ups and downs freak you out, real estate investing is not for you. Click To Tweet
I would tell them to get a coach. Get somebody who has done what you want to do because many of the things that I’m doing, it would be a lot easier if somebody would tell me what step to take next. What do I need to do next? What do I need? If I had a roadmap to follow, I’d be a lot further along in a lot of different things. I fully believe in coaching. I’ve paid for a coach since I started a real estate and I bought the REIA. The only thing I didn’t pay for a coach was trucking when I started the truck company but every other time I paid for a coach, “Tell me what to do. I’ve never done this before. Help me. This came up. How do I pivot?” Pay for a coach. It’s worth it. People pay attention to what they pay for. Get off YouTube and I’m there too. Get somebody to help you see your goals, see your vision, and take the actual steps to make it happen. You can pray and you can make vision boards and you can do all things. God rewards the ones that work.
I love what you said, “People pay attention to what they pay for.”
You can hear a great video on YouTube, but it might take you six months of going through free stuff to find the one. Whereas if you’d pay for a coach, in the beginning, you could have done that in six hours and then where would you be in six months? I love paying people for their time, their expertise, their lessons, and paying for their mistakes. That stuff I don’t have to go through.
These days, do you focus on investing primarily in Tennessee or do you also invest in other states?
No. I have a honey hole and I help women find their honey hole. That’s where we go to make the money, honey. You can be the queen bee and have everybody out working for you and you have the honey, you get the money. I’ve got my little area of town that I like to invest in. Especially two highways going straight out to the country. My main competitor is my mom in trucking and real estate. She buys differently than I do. She holds different than I do. We have different plans. She thinks sale is a bad four-letter word. If the price is right, I’ll sell it. I don’t care. It’s different. We’ve got two highways and anything within 1 mile of the two highways, we’ll buy.
You have a strong understanding of your market because you’re also living in that market, which is awesome. One more question before I head into my level up questions, which is what advice you’d have for building a real estate business? I know that from investing in real estate, you talked about getting a coach, but from an aspect of building a business, in addition to getting a coach, is there anything else that you would advise someone to think about?
You said the keyword right there. It’s a business. It’s not a hobby. It will take you through the wringer if you treat this like a hobby. It’s not something you can dabble in. It’s not something you want to dip a toe in. It’s a business. Even if you just have one rental, you have to run that like a business. You are going to have expenses, profit, losses and different taxes. You better be ready to run a business. It’s a small business, but it’s a business. There isn’t anything wrong with having a small business. I got non-small businesses. I’m not an entrepreneur because I can’t spell it, but the small business I can handle. Don’t forget that. I would say read Rich Dad Poor Dad. Read the Cashflow Quadrant also by Robert Kiyosaki, which talks about business owning. Read or listen to some of Mike Michalowicz’ books or audio CDs or whatever. He wrote The Pumpkin Plan and Profit First. As much as you want to learn about real estate, don’t forget to learn about business or you’ll have to get a job to fund your little real estate hobby. Take it serious, girls. It’s a business. You’re a businesswoman. You can call yourself a Boss Babe if you want to. It’s different out here as a business owner as it as a regular 9:00 to 5:00.
Here are my levels of questions that I ask all of my guests. The first one is what are you most grateful for?
My family, my mom, my dad, my brother and my husband. When I got started, they weren’t super-duper excited, but they get it now. They were supportive even if they were saying ugly things to me. They were scared and that’s how it came out.
Are you saying that I can see a lot of the growth in personal development? It takes people who have that personal development to understand. They might be saying negative things, but it’s because they want to protect you.
When I said, “I’m going to quit trucking. I’m going to do real estate full-time,” my dad for a week at dinner was awful. I’m sleeping on their couch. I’m eating dinner with them every night. He was like, “You can’t. Your bucks come from trucks and you’re giving up so much. You need to wait your turn and then you can inherit all this other stuff.” I was like, “Wait my turn? I’m twenty-something years old. I can’t wait for my turn for anything. I’m going to go get it now. Where’s that bull. I got the horns. Let’s go. I can do all these things and I can help many people. I’m not waiting for anything.” That was him being scared that I’d get out and lose a bunch of money. I’d get out and get my feelings hurt. When you run a business, people are going to have bad things to say about you. He thought I’d get out and get in over my head. I’ve been in over my head plenty of times, but I keep going and figure it out.
Nobody knows what’s going to happen, but that’s the fun of it. I had goals. I had dreams and it didn’t include sitting at a desk for 9, 10 hours a day, 5 days a week and never been able to travel but two weeks a year. I went to a boot camp and I was excited. I was going to be a millionaire. I was going to do all these deals. I’m going to buy about ten houses the next year. My first boot camp, I said ten houses. My husband told me I had a church camp mentality. When I got home, all of that would fizzle out of me, and sellers wouldn’t work with me, wouldn’t be any good deals. I wouldn’t make any money. I was going to waste my time and effort on this guru. Who did this guy think he was? I did fourteen deals in nine months and showed him who I was.
My next question is what do you attribute your continuous success and continuous growth to?
I am hard-headed, I am stubborn and I am intense. Those are words that ladies aren’t supposed to be described as, but that’s fine. My mom was raised to be the woman in the office that never spoke up. The woman in the office who never had any opinions. She was supposed to be the woman in the office that did whatever the men told her to. She bowed to that and she waited for her turn, but she didn’t raise me like that. I got things to say, and I’m going to say it. If I got things I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it. Move out of my way or get on board.
What do you wish you had known at the beginning of your journey that you now know?
It takes time. We see overnight successes and Gary Vee will say, “I’m an overnight success. Did you see those fourteen years I was doing videos on Wine Library and nobody was paying attention,” or whatever his numbers are? Grant Cardone says, “I’m an overnight success. Did you see those 30 deals that I did back in 1990? Nobody knew who Grant Cardone was before he was this. There’s not an overnight success and you chill. I would celebrate more because you’re out here moving mountains. Even getting that first yellow letter campaign out, you didn’t know how to do that or what that even was and now you’re doing it. You’re going to build it over time. It doesn’t have to be a boom, done. My first fourteen deals, I made $136,000 but I didn’t keep any of those. I had to do it again to build more passive income. I wholesaled those. I signed those. Some of them boomeranged and came back to me.
That was good, but it’s not going to happen and you’re a millionaire. You got to work at that. It is work. It’s not easy. It’s not magic. It’s possible. It takes some systems, but you better be ready to get challenged. You’re a problem solver. I tell people that if you’re at the ocean, those waves keep coming. That’s what it’s like, the problems they keep coming. Some days those ocean waves just roll in, don’t they? Some days they are crashing, they are booming, the sky is gray and it’s all falling from the sky but there’s going to be more of those mellow, slow days which is when God has given you a break to get your breath together for the next storm.
Thank you, Whitney, for coming on. I appreciate it. There are many good nuggets, many things worth tweetable here. You’re an amazing lady. You’ve done so much and it’s inspiring. It was inspiring to me your story and your advice. It’s amazing. Thank you.
Thanks for having me, Lisa. This was fantastic.
If my readers would like to learn more about you, what is the best place for them to go?People pay attention to what they pay for. Click To Tweet
The best place is SheBuysIt.com. Proverbs 31:16 says, “She goes to inspect the field and she buys it. With her earnings, she plants a vineyard.” You get out there, buy that land and then plant that generational wealth.
Thank you so much.
I appreciate you coming onto the show and share your experiences with my audience. It’s amazing.
I’ve got a lot of amazing insights from listening to Whitney. Here are some that I would share with you. Listening to her story about how she got started, sleeping on her parents’ couch and working at in her parents’ dump truck business. Her tenacity to not give up and to approach real estate and life with so much creativity as a problem solver and thinking about all the different ways she could make a deal work and make a deal happen. Jumping in and learning how the whole process works, the energy is infectious. It’s good.
The other insight that also highlights is that she talked about the importance of having a coach. As people think about getting into real estate, the importance of making sure that you are surrounding yourself with people who are doing what you want to do. That helps you to cut down the amount of time that you spend doing things that someone else has already done. If you’re working with someone or around groups of people, REIAs where she’s the President of the Knox REIA there in Knoxville, Tennessee. The importance of being around that environment and around that community of people who are doing those amazing things.
She also talked about running all her different businesses. She has a total of nine businesses and she spoke about how it’s not something to dabble in. From a business perspective, you need to run it like a business. Get serious about putting in the processes and the controls that need to be put in in order to make sure that your business runs as it should. She also recommended a couple of books. Rich Dad Poor Dad, Cashflow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki. She had Pumpkin Plan and Profit First as some books in which you can read to get up to speed on it.
When I asked her about where she’s at in her life? What influences her in terms of her investing strategy? She talked about how she has done extremely well for herself. Her focus now is on helping women. Connected to that, she mentioned something that I felt was super important, which was, “When you help people you never run out of leads.” That is important. To take a step back and always come from a place of, how can you add value? How can you help the people that you’re working with?
It’s beautiful how she’s illustrated how investing in real estate, doing well for herself and her family has enabled her to also do well for other people. That’s amazing, the contribution aspect of real estate. A lot of people think about greedy landlords and that stuff. It’s lost on them the fact that there are ways in which real estate can help by being a real estate investor, you’re helping your communities, the people around you, the economy of your state and people to live a better quality of life. There are a lot of amazing things. She illustrated that through her interview.
The other item that I thought that I liked a lot was she said, “People pay attention to what they pay for.” Someone was asking me about coaching and the process of whether you have to pay for it. I said, “For a lot of coaches, you do have to pay for coaching.” They were like, “Why couldn’t it just be for free?” I said, “Think about how people treat things that they get for free.” A lot of times, they don’t understand the value, but when they have to physically pay, they then start paying attention to what is going on and whether they are showing up and doing what they need to do.
There were a lot of good nuggets. There are two things that I would leave you with. When she talked about what she was grateful for, which was her family and she shared how the people closest to her didn’t necessarily believe in her journey when she was getting started. Her family was the people who didn’t have the best things to say, but she understood that they were coming from a place where they were trying to protect her. As someone reading this, you are thinking about investing in real estate, building a real estate business, or doing something different from the status quo, know that when you share that with people close to you, they probably are not going to see that vision. They’re not going to always see and understand, or even believe that you can achieve this.
Many times, it’s not because they’re coming from a place where they don’t want you to succeed. They’re coming from a place where they’re trying to protect you. They want you to keep your job. They want you to have money to pay your rent and to take care of yourself or to pay your mortgage and help your kids or whatever the case is. They are coming from a place where they’re scared. They want to protect you but understand that you’re going to need to get yourself. That’s why you need to get yourself around people who are doing the things that you want to do, because when you’re around those people, then it fuels you to keep going and to keep taking action on your goals.
The last item that she spoke about that I thought was good was, it takes time. People feel that investing in real estate, building businesses, be it real estate businesses or other businesses is like an overnight success. No, it does take time. For some people, yes, it might be overnight. That’s great if that’s your case, but for most people, that is not the case. You’re going to have to work. You need to be prepared to be challenged and then know that the problems will keep coming and that you’re a problem solver and you can solve the problems and get them done. That is a large part of why you are successful. It’s because you are willing to be creative and to solve these problems. With that, that was my insights from the episode with Whitney. She’s a super amazing guest. I loved talking to her. Until next time, keep leveling up.
- Whitney Nicely
- She Buys It
- Knox REIA
- Rich Dad Poor Dad
- Cashflow Quadrant
- The Pumpkin Plan
- Profit First
About Whitney Nicely
- Entrepreneur on Fire: https://www.eofire.com/podcast/whitneynicely/
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