Updated: Jul 24
How do you bring your business to the next level? In this episode, Elissa Stone, founder of Acquisitions by Design, narrates her success story to highlight how you can take your business to the next level. She also shares that the key to accomplishing her goal is a 100% mindset. She meets trials and tribulations, but she can listen to her gut and intuition, which pivots her to success. But what is her secret to bringing her business to the next level? Tune in to this episode to find out!
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The Crystal Clear Criteria: Taking Your Business To The Next Level With Elissa Stone
We are talking to real estate investor Elissa Stone. Elissa Stone's background includes over twenty years of experience bridging business partnerships and building internal teams within the healthcare, staffing, and real estate industries. Like most of us, she has a varied background. She has done a lot but focused it all on real estate investing. We are going to hear more about that. Her initial immersion in real estate started in 2010 under the mentorship of a CEO who served as the 2014 President of the Houston Apartment Association.
Elissa's previous Fortune 500 experience, combined with her consultive nature and her business integrity, has set the foundation for her company, Acquisitions By Design. We are going to have a fantastic conversation all about crystal clear criteria. That's Elissa's term. We want to know what that means. What are crystal clear criteria? How can it help you to take your business to the next level? Here we go with Elissa Stone.
We are here with Elissa Stone. Elissa is going to tell us all about her real estate investing business. She is doing some phenomenal things in the real estate investing world. Welcome to the show, Elissa.
Thank you so much for having me. It's such an honor. I'm privileged to be here. Thank you very much.
Your website is AcquisitionsByDesign.com. When you go to the website, there's a wealth of information and many great things. I saw your bio. In your bio, I see that you started corporate and then eased your way into the real estate investing world. Can you tell us a little bit about how you started?
I would love to. I will give you a little bit of background information if that's okay as well. I will take you back to when I was thirteen years old and then put it all together for everybody. When I was very young, my dad passed away. I was young, at sixteen but he set me down and wrote a sentence on a piece of paper. I still have this piece of paper. It says, "If you had unlimited time, talent, money, and support from your friends and family, what is it that you would do with your life?"
I remember doing this exercise and going through and writing everything down. One of the goals that I wrote down when I was thirteen years old was to someday own my company. I never thought twice about it. After that, there were times here and there when I thought about it but I was like, "I don't know what type of company. I'm not sure that I could do it." There was always doubt in my head. I didn't have that tangible element of what I was looking for to start my business.
Fast forward to about '19 or '20, that's when I ended up in the corporate world and how I started my career. I originally started at a dot-com startup in Austin, Texas, transitioned to Robert Half International, and got that corporate background. From there, I also did a couple of other things. For example, I was the Director of Sales for a healthcare company. Transitioning in life, I decided to get married and have kids. It's a wonderful transition but unfortunately, life did happen when my kids were seven months old. I've got these two beautiful baby twins.
I'm in this situation where I know that I cannot go back to my corporate career because I would be on the road five days a week and miss raising my kids. That was not going to happen. It was at that point in time that my kids were three years old. I vividly remember it because it was on their third birthday. I said, "I'm going to start my company. There's no better time than now. I'm going to risk everything, feel the fear, and go for it. I am terrified but this is happening." I launched my company.
How did you pick a real estate investing? Was it random? Were you already purchasing property? How did you make the selection?
I was educated a little bit in the process over my background. I saw through a boutique real estate firm here in Houston developing passive income, having money come in, and focusing on that lifestyle where you are afforded and able to spend time with your friends, family, and kiddos and have that flexibility. When I was introduced to that model, it was new to me. The education stuck with me. From there, it was truly about becoming part of real estate education academies and understanding what it was that I wanted to do and how I was going to make that transition once I started my company.
Like Camille Davis, did you drive around with your babies in the car?
I heard that story. I love it, Camille. It's very similar. When I got started early on, I was doing the single-family redevelopment or rehabs. There were times when I loaded up kids. I'm looking at homes. I did not take them in unsafe environments but would help educate them as we walked around a house. I'm like, "Gavin and Layla, what would you think about this house? What if we did this? What if we did that?" My son, at the time, being three, was more involved with the frogs around the house but I was hoping to educate them as they come up through the years as well. It's similar to Camille. I took the kids with me 100%.
It's interesting. Sometimes we need that rock bottom moment to transition. I don't know if it makes us braver or if we think, "I'm at the bottom, so I'm going to do it now." It takes that challenge of that life change to propel and make us take that leap.
I've shared this in some other podcasts and even speaking opportunities. I will share it with you because it's very real and raw but it's true. Early on, when I decided to start my company, I was starting my company from nothing. I'm not sure how I'm going to do it or how I'm going to put all the pieces together but I had that intuition, drive, tenacity, and mentality that, “No matter what happens, I'm going to make this happen.”
To share the trials and tribulations, there have been some up times and a lot of down times. For example, early on, I had two different single-family rehabs going on. As we all know, that's a cashflow business. You have to have the cash to do the rehabs and down payments. I'm looking at my bank account dwindle. I'm looking my kids in the eyes. I vividly remember this. There was one time when I had $2.56 in my checking account. I'm looking at my kids in the eyes and my checking account. I was like, "What have I done? What am I doing?"
I made the decision right there that if I can make it through this, I can make it through anything. That was a situation where I had to sell some things. For my previous marriage, I had to sell the ring but I did what I had to do to get to the next step. There have been other hard moments throughout the time but there have also been amazing moments where I look back and I'm like, "Am I doing this? Am I doing it 100% on my own?"
When I say that, I don't mean that you don't have these amazing team members or people that step in and help you out like your lender, realtors, and things of that nature but I looked at myself and was like, "I'm very proud of all the trials and tribulations that I've gone through, that I'm coming through, and that I will continue to go through because it's an inspiration not only to myself about my personal strength but I also find people in the market who have gone through similar things that inspire me." That's truly what it is about. All of us inspire each other.
I want to ask you a question. First, let's talk about money. When you are first starting, and you don't have a whole lot of money, can you tell us practically where you started from financially, whether your own money or borrowed money? How did you do it?
There's a little bit of everything. When life happened to me when my kids were very young, I was starting all over. I couldn't go back into my corporate career because I would be on the road five days a week. I'm deciding to start my real estate company. I invested the little bit of money that I did have in education, which was a substantial cost but I also was looking at the return on investment that it would have over the years to come. I also utilized credit cards. I don't recommend this to everybody. It was a decision that I made early on.
I remember purchasing my first home, which was going to be a single-family rehab. There was no way that I should have been able to get financing for it but what I did was I got creative because I was not going to take no for an answer. The way that I did that is I'm doing my research on the market and different lenders. Who are they? How do I work with them? I had this one conversation with a company called Noble Mortgage. It had a good reputation. I talked to one of the VPs within the company. He's like. "We need this documentation. You need this much liquidity."
I was like, "If I fill out this application, I'm going to get a no. Once you get a no, you don't get a yes. Scratch that. I'm not going to fill that out. What's my next plan of attack?" I ended up doing research on who the CEO was and some of the events that they have around town. I showed up to the event and spotted the CEO. His name is Darel Daik, and he is a wonderful guy. I have a great relationship with him.
I probably marched up to him because I was on a tangent. I had goals that I wanted to complete. I extended my hand, introduced myself, and said, "I would love to sit down and meet with you for fifteen minutes next week and talk a little bit about who I am, my background, and my vision of where I'm going in this business. I don't want to take up too much of your time. I will be in touch next week."
It was about that follow-up. Where I'm going with this is, long story short, I sold myself. He saw something in me. He saw the tenacity. I sold my background or what I had done. There probably wasn't a very good reason other than that to take a risk on me. I was able to secure funding for the first one. I knew that no matter what, I have got to perform. If you perform and keep performing, people are going to relax and work with you on different dynamics and creative deal structures. That's what I have been able to do with Noble Mortgage over the years. They have been an amazing partner for me.
If you perform and you keep performing, people are going to relax. They will work with you on different dynamics and creative deal structures.
I cannot say enough about Noble Mortgage. I did one of my first loans with them as well. Darel is great.
It's a great company. Everybody that works there is an amazing person. It has turned into something where I'm friends with everybody. It's a business too but those are the type of people that I love aligning myself with my business because it's a business with credible ethics and integrity. Everything is there but at the same time, they are friends. You can have dinner or a cocktail or get a big group together and have some laughs. That's what's cool in developing and starting your business too.
I want to unpack a little bit about education because the way that Cammie and I met is through education or a mastermind group that we both joined. I wanted to ask a little bit about the value because you are investing in education pretty early on when you didn't have a lot of money. What was it that you saw or thought about education that was going to take you to the next level?
I attended a couple of conferences to gather information on some of these real estate education courses and academies. I've always had that mindset as a person. When I do something, maybe the average time is a year. I don't hold myself to that standard. If the average time is a year, I need to be able to do it in six months. What is my plan? How am I going to make that happen?
That's what I saw as far as the education and coaching experience. I saw all of this money going out the door for it that I did not have. I did utilize a lot of credit cards and maxed a lot of them out but I saw I can take ten years to accomplish some of these goals and/or pay for this education, fast-track myself, and be surrounded by like-minded individuals who are so much smarter than me. With every single person I meet, I'm taking something away and learning something. Hopefully, on some level, I’ll be able to give back as well. What I saw as far as real estate education and being around all these amazing individuals is the fast track. It was well worth the investment for me.
Be surrounded by like-minded individuals smarter than you or everyone you meet, and take something away and learn something.
Cammie, do you want to talk about that a little bit? I know that you are a huge one for education. You belong to a lot of different types of groups.
When I started, I did teach myself quite a bit. I would go to my husband, and he would say, "We are not paying for that." I don't want to make him sound bad, either. I did do as much as I could for free. I didn't join any groups up front but education is so important because I would have been successful faster. I was successful fairly fast but it goes down to what you are saying. I didn't take no for an answer.
I remember the first time I met with the first realtor. She was like, "This is going to be a lot harder than you think it is." It was this whole downer. She was like, "Everybody wants to do this. You are not going to be any different," but that fueled me. I was a little bit disappointed. I was like, "That was rude," but it made me more determined. When you want something, and you know it, and it aligns with you, you don't give it up. You keep going.
It does take a lot of work and time. When you get to that other side, it's so worth all the work. Education and networking are so important. The faster you can learn how to get that team and surround yourself with good people, your life exponentially increases and gets better around you. You are number one but then the people you surround yourself with make a huge difference.
I love your background, Camille, and everything you've done. It's amazing. When people tell me, I can't do something or I sense that doubt, I go through about 2 or 3 seconds of doubt, and then at the same time, I let it drive me. I love when people tell me I can't do something, "You are never going to achieve that," because I'm like, "Watch out. I got this."
I completely agree with both of you. Elissa, let's talk a little bit about mindset because you are very strong mentally, which is hugely important because we get so discouraged when things don't go our way. How do you keep moving forward when a deal is falling apart or you feel like, "What am I doing here?" How do you mentally keep going?
If I had to attribute some of the things I have been able to accomplish, it's 100% mindset. 9.9 times out of 10, I maybe don't have the necessary experience or I'm learning as I go. It's the mindset. I will give you a couple of examples. I won't take no for an answer. If you get that no, how do you adapt, improvise, and overcome it to be able to move forward? It's a lot of reading books. On a monthly basis, I have my ups and downs. I usually have 2 or 3 days where I'm completely doubting myself.
I'm like, "I can't do this anymore. I don't know what I'm doing. This is too tough, overwhelming, and scary. I can't." I let myself be in that space because I know I'm going to move past it. What can I do at that moment to feel better? Is it books? Is it watching a video? Is it reaching out to somebody else, communicating what I'm going through, and also being there for them? Sometimes when you are there for somebody else, you listen, and you are able to help them. It helps you.
To give you a couple of examples about mindset, tenacity, and how you move forward, I had one individual deal. This was back in 2018. It was a single-family redevelopment project. I'm going to spare you all the details on how I got funded for the 2nd one on top of the very 1st one when I first got started in the business because that created a deal structure in itself. In analyzing the deal, I was very interested in it. Long story short, I worked almost seven months on that deal to get it under contract.
There were trials and tribulations. I had the actual seller verbally committing to signing, and then he would back out. I went through all this but I knew in my stomach that this was going to be an amazing project. I can help out the homeowner because I want to provide value to them and help them out in their situation. It's a project that I wanted to do. I was able to secure lending.
Once they finally signed, I remember having a conversation with another investor. He had been in the business for about fifteen years. He's looking at the deal and my numbers. He goes, "Don't do this deal. You are going to lose. You are never going to be able to pull over $500,000 on the back end of this project." I remember hanging up the phone. I was completely defeated. In my head, I was like, "I've worked on this for seven months."
I hang up the phone. I'm devastated. I'm like, "He's more experienced than me. He has been doing this for fifteen years. I'm brand new in the business," but I felt something in my intuition and my head. I went back to my analysis because it is about the numbers and due diligence. I'm reviewing everything but then part of it is that business intuition.
I was faced with the decision. The decision is, "Do I listen to this more experienced investor, not move forward, always wonder what would have been, and be disappointed in myself? Am I going to feel the fear, look at my analysis, trust my business intuition, and move forward full steam ahead? Maybe it works out. Maybe it doesn't but at least I know in my heart."
What I ended up choosing is to move forward. I was terrified. I had two projects going on. It was during that time that I ended up with the $2.56 in my checking account. I knew people were watching in the market, especially this individual. Long story short, I ended up selling on the backend for $607,000. I could have gotten more but I needed to turn it in very quickly because I needed the money. It turned out to be this amazing project and success story. I listened to my gut and my intuition.
That goes back to the mindset. The due diligence and the analysis were extremely important but I will give you one more example. I'm trying to refinance a property from a couple of years ago. I was new in the business. I have no idea what I'm doing. I don't have any W-2s. There's no reason why I should be able to refinance this property. I get a no here. I start to make a game of it.
I have a whiteboard. I have another refinance going on now but on my board, it says, "Multifamily refinance noes." Every single time I get a no, I will put a checkmark and then take the information that they have shared with me. I'm like, "How do I apply that with the next lender to overcome this?" In this one particular example that I'm talking about, I got seven noes before they finally did the deal and refinanced the project. The eighth time was the charm. That's the tenacity. I wasn't giving up. It was going to happen. I didn't know when and how but it was going to happen.
I needed to hear that because I'm building these fourplexes at the University of Houston. My builder has come in almost double the price higher. I thought, "I can't make these numbers work. What am I going to do?" My husband wants to sell them but I have this thing in my gut. I'm thinking, "Am I crazy for believing in this?" It's down by the University of Houston. I keep thinking, "The rents are going to be higher now." The cost is going to be more.
I even thought, "Even if I held onto it for 3, 4 or 5 years or even if I'm into it too much money," and I'm even thinking, "I might be into it too much money but if I move forward, this has got to work in the future." This is a total faith play. I am hearing that the rents have gone up. The numbers will work. I'm going to have to keep a lot more money into the deal than I thought I was. I'm doing it. I'm biting the bullet. It's scary.
It always will be. You are looking at your nuto be able to push forward mbers. Sometimes you do have to have that intuition. It's terrifying. The way that I was able to move forward with that deal is I told myself, "I'm either going to be a success with this particular thing or I'm going to learn something. It's going to hurt and sting. People are watching but I'm going to get back up and move forward." How do you lose in that situation?
Either be a success with this particular thing, or I'm going to learn something.
Whereas in the other situation if I would have listened to him and ignored my intuition, numbers, and analysis, I would have always wondered. I was like, "I'm going to choose risk." That's what I chose. It sounds like you may be going down that path too, which is commendable. It's only a decision you and your husband can make together. I love that.
Some people get confused between money and mindset. What I mean by that is that they think that they need money when what they need is a shift in the way that they think.
That's amazing. I could not agree more with that because it's your mindset that is going to keep getting you to another level and be able to push forward, especially when you are starting with very little. You are so dead on.
It's your mindset that is going to keep getting you to another level and be able to push forward.
That's the case because some people are so fearful. They want to do all of the things. Both of you ladies are powerhouses. You are doing great developments and awesome things. A lot of the readers may be thinking, "I don't have the money to do it." To those ladies, even if you had the money but you didn’t have the right mindset like the tenacity that you two have, you still wouldn't do it. You still won't do the project if you don't have the right mindset because you are too fearful to get it done. Kudos. I commend both of you for working so diligently on these development projects. I'm so proud to be in the midst of greatness.
I love watching Camille on social media, some of the things going on, and how we came about and met. It's the mindset. It's also getting creative because in certain situations, for example, I will get into how I transition maybe from single-family into multifamily. I was told in one particular deal that I wanted to do, "You are going to need XYZ to come to the closing table." When you start developing these relationships, and you have a track record, you are able to do a creative deal structure because you've performed and produced.
In another example, I should have had about $150,000 to take to closing on this particular project. I did not have that. I had some cash tied up in other projects. I had about $50,000. I went to the lender and said, "I've performed and done some pretty amazing things. Here's what I do have. You have been great. Let's go ahead and close this out." I knew in my head that the worst thing that he could do was say no but what if he said yes? Here was the answer.
He's like, "I've never done this before." I was like, "You own the company. You can make that decision and get a little creative here and there." The answer was yes. I was able to close that deal. That goes back to mindset and getting creative. Don't always take no for the answer. Lay down at night, let your brain go crazy, find solutions, and get creative. Worst case, you get a no. Best case, you get that yes. You can move forward.
Do you use a local, regional bank?
That has been a transition. I started more in the single-family redevelopment and rehab side. The plan was always to build up a little bit of a nest egg so that way, I could get some liquidity in the bank and then transition to multifamily. I always wanted to go multifamily. The reason for that is that I want the passive income coming in. I want to be able to be with my kids, take vacations, and still have that income coming in.
To answer your question, what has gone on is that when you transition, it's very difficult to get started in multifamily, especially when you don't have a substantial amount of liquidity in the bank. You almost have to start at a smaller unit count, grow from there, and get creative. What has been a benefit to me is to utilize broker relationships initially. In working with a broker, you do pay a commission for that broker but they've got these amazing established relationships with banks and credit unions. They are going to be able to get them to look at your deals over if I were going in blindfolded without that relationship. That has been my starting point.
What's in my strategy the more that I get underneath my belt on the multifamily side? I'm a couple of acquisitions in now. I'm going to start focusing on those direct banking and credit union relationships, go in and meet with them, and have my credibility package talk, "Here's what I did on XYZ project. Here's what's going on. Here are my numbers on this project. Moving forward, I would love to have a quote from this bank and/or credit union." I believe that's the key into making that transition.
It comes back to relationships. Relationships are so important. Don't do it all on your own. You have to have those relationships. It's key.
Which relationships do you think are most important, Elissa? What I have is when you are moving from single-family into multifamily, first of all, I always think of starting with stacking or maybe a duplex, a triplex, and a fourplex, and then jumping to a fiveplex, an eightplex, or something like that. You work your way up but along the way in picking up a broker, a property manager or a bank, who is on the team that you are putting together?
You are building your team from day one when you decide to start your company and anything that you do like networking or events. You may not always understand what you are doing or why you have this connection with a person but then it all starts to fall into place. For example, with an amazing lender, I can't tell you how many referrals I've received because I send a text message. I'm like, "I'm looking for a great property management company. I'm looking for a great construction company."
You continue to build this web and all these layers. You meet people when looking at homes. I met one contractor when I first got started in the business. I still talk to him to this day. I refer people to him all the time. I was looking at a very interesting house. It was 100% teardown. There were no floors. You couldn't even go up to the second floor. It's interesting but this individual showed up.
I introduced myself. I'm like, "He's probably my competition. He's going to try to buy this,” but I'm like, "Let me introduce myself." We started talking. I found out that he owned a construction company. That was his core business but every now and then, he would purchase a home and do the rehab. I started utilizing him on some of my projects. It's amazing. You never know who you are going to meet.
I will give you another example. There was somebody on Facebook. It's very random. It's somehow I'm connected with. I've never even met him. I've seen his title that he owns a construction company. I was like, "Let's find out a little bit more about him." I have not personally met him but he met with my property management company on my most recent multifamily acquisition to bid on about $150,000 renovation. His numbers came in great. My property manager, the VP of the company, was like, "I'm impressed with him." You never know what's going to come about from networking and who you meet in the market. Look at us. How we met is amazing.
Isn't that how it goes, though? That's so true for everything. How has your success affected you as a mom and a wife? How is the family dynamic?
It's me and my seven-year-old twins. I've dated here and there and met some amazing people but there were some things that I wanted to achieve before I was able to open up my heart. That's where I was at. It was because when you are carrying all this stress, you are trying to start a company, and then you are in debt, how much do you have to give? I don't feel that's fair to anybody.
I'm at that point where I'm very happy with where I'm at in life. If I meet a special somebody, that would be amazing. If I don't, I'm okay too. I've got this beautiful life that I've built up, a great company, and kids. I still sometimes live in that survival mode. I'm not sure if that's positive. That's something I am working on. For five years, I have been in adrenaline survival mode, "How am I going to do this?" Now, I'm at a place where I can breathe for two seconds but I know exactly what my goals are and where I want to go.
What I want to focus on is achieving more balance overall in life, whether that be kids, business, relationships or vacations. I have been bad about doing anything for myself. I will take my kids on something amazing but as you can imagine, there's nothing relaxing about taking two seven-year-old twins to water parks and rivers. You have to be on. I need to spend a little more time on myself. I'm focusing on the balance now at this point.
Focus on achieving more balance overall in life.
That's good for you. You mean to tell me that you are a single mom who is killing it in multifamily investing. You own your company. You are doing your thing and calling all the shots in your life. You are hugely successful. That's what I hear you saying.
That sounds nice and amazing. I will take it but there have been so many trials and tribulations. You go through moments in life like making parenting decisions. My kids do spend some time with their dad and stepmom, which is amazing. I used to have them full-time but when you are running a company and you are the sole parent, you question yourself. Sometimes you are like, "Let me call a friend and make sure I'm on track with this business thing or parenting thing. How do you do it?" You look at your business and personal network and leverage everybody's viewpoints, successes, and things that they have learned. I'm like, "That's a good point. I'm going to do that. Thank you."
The kids are young too. That's what's so impressive because it will change. I'm sure you are filling that it's changing. I have one turning sixteen. I have one that's 14, 12, and 10. When you get to that point, you are still busy but it's a little easier. In my opinion, it's a tiny bit easier because they don't need so much direct one-on-one all the time.
Compliments to you, Camille. That's a lot. When you have multiple ages and teenagers, that's good for you. We are parents and entrepreneurs. That's what it's all about. You make it work, figure it out, and do whatever it takes. We all have moments where we are like, "I can't even see straight anyway. Can I rest for two minutes?" You get back up. You know what those goals are. You want to spend time with the family. It's achieving that balance and striving towards your goals and things that make you feel good about yourself.
My children are 18 and 20.
First of all, you look amazing.
She does. I tell her that all the time.
Your kiddos are watching mom build a business, which has a huge impact on their options in life. Go to college. Get a great education. If you choose to be an entrepreneur, be an entrepreneur. There's more than one way to be successful in life. It's not just the W-2, "Get good grades. Go to college." I want my kids to know they have choices.
They can own their business, live the life that they want to live, and have an impact on other people's lives because they employ people. In getting to the end, I wanted to ask you about that. Do you feel that what you are doing now has an impact on communities and individuals who work for you? What is the greater good? I see it. Do you feel like you are having an impact on others?
I've thought about that for a couple of different reasons. The biggest one is that I have had some amazing speaking opportunities. It was such a privilege for me to be up there. I went through and struggled with what value I have to offer somebody, whether it be a female, a male, a couple or kiddos. What I started to realize in my process and journey is that I'm going to be me. I'm going to be transparent. I'm going to talk about my journey. My hope is that I'm able to inspire some of the people in the audience or that I come into contact with because I know so many people inspire me. What I realized in speaking and being out in the market is that when I'm up there, I'm talking to myself.
It maybe happens to inspire 1 or 2 people because they have commented but when I get up there, and I'm talking about projects, fear, doubt, and overcoming it, I'm selling myself on how to get over that fear, keep moving forward, and stop doubting myself. I never realized that until recently. It turned into something amazing because I was preaching and coaching myself. I hope that I can impact others. Many people that I meet, watch, and talk to inspire me and help me to get over it as well.
It's about all of us coming together, supporting each other's dreams and goals, and building each other up. There's so much in this world where people are tearing each other down and being disrespectful and negative. I don't choose to be around that. We all have our moments where we are not perfect but I love being around like-minded individuals that inspire me. I hope that I can get back a little bit as well.
You have inspired me.
Your story inspires me. This show is amazing. I'm appreciative. I love what you are all doing.
Renee is responsible for the show. I'm glad that I was able to meet her. It has been great.
Thank you, Renee. That's an amazing outreach.
She's responsible for the women's group too. I knew I wanted to do something like that but she pushed me forward. Renee is amazing.
Renee, do you mind if I ask you one question? What inspired you to start the group, the show, and all of that and bring everybody together?
Cammie and I met in a mastermind group, and we clicked right away. I felt her energy but what I appreciated was that I have done a lot of things that were a big deal for me like owning ten houses and being in a couple of syndications. I'm in 130-something units now, which is not a lot but Camille Davis has put her hand on 200 houses or more. She's doing all this subject to. She has muscles on her teeth. I admired what she was doing.
I was like, "I don't feel like I have enough experience to teach other women. I want to partner with somebody who is doing it. She's walking the walk every day." That's how Cammie and I found this synergy between us. I had this back office operation, speaking and getting in front of people. She had all the knowledge, know-how, connections, contacts, and boots-on-the-ground experience. You put all that together.
Here's what the women are learning from Cammie now. She's able to voice all of her experience, package it up, and give it to people in a way that's deliverable so that they can impact their lives and change generational wealth for them and their families. The goal was to get her out into the world to teach them what she was doing. She's doing it now and killing it. I love it.
She's leading by example. She is able to give people hope when they are scared. Maybe they don't know how to move forward but then they are feeling fear. Look at her. She has done this with kids and a family. There are amazing results. She has overcome that fear.
That was the goal. I don't like to be in front of people. It is uncomfortable for me to get up and speak in front of a crowd. It's uncomfortable for me to do this coaching thing because I start questioning myself. Before I was doing it for myself but now, I'm adding people in. I want to inspire people but then I also feel this responsibility. It's uncomfortable for me. It's making me grow.
That's where Renee's strengths come in. That's where she helped me do something uncomfortable for me. I can buy all these properties. That's not uncomfortable anymore. The fourplexes are. That's the new thing. That's why we need each other's strengths. That’s when you said, “Do you because it's reminding me to do me. Not everybody is going to love what I do. I'm not going to be everybody's cup of tea but I'm going to be me, say what it is, and do my best.”
Elissa, tell me this. Are you comfortable with saying how many doors you have now? How many have you done over time even with the dispositions and everything?
I started single-family redevelopment rehabs. I did that for quite some time. In 2021, I acquired my first multifamily property. It was eleven units. I wanted to start small, get my feet wet, and make sure I understood what I was doing. I closed on my first multifamily syndication. For anybody who doesn't know what multifamily syndication is, what that means is you have equity partners who also bring and contribute to the deal. They are very passive. I'm the sponsor. I'm active. I'm doing everything on the property and turning it around but they are going to partake in some of the benefits, not only along the way in getting a return on their money but also on the back end when we sell.
As you can imagine, that's a very nerve-wracking thing when you are handling other people's money. I do not take that lightly. I went through all the proper steps of doing a private placement memorandum, having everything to a tee in place. What I've done is I've built up these potential equity partners over the last couple of years. It's about relationships. It's about showing them the before and afters of other projects and earning that respect and that credibility to where they trust me.
In this particular deal that I mentioned, I have both accredited investors, and then I also have sophisticated investors. There's a combination of the two. That's going to be my path moving forward as the multifamily syndication. My goal is to acquire 2 properties per year for the next 10 years. My unit count target on the next one is going to be closer to 100 or maybe a little bit under or above. The one that I acquired was 24 multifamily units and a combination of 45 storage units on the same property. There's also room to build additional units. It's a cool investment to be an investor on both sides.
Did you sell all of your single-family properties?
I have zero single-family projects going on. I don't plan to go back down that route. I have people contact me all the time. They've got amazing projects. I will look at them. I'm not going to pass up a good deal. I went and looked at one. It wasn't a fit. The numbers would make sense to me. I will never fully get away from the single-family side because I do enjoy it. I enjoy selling homes to these amazing families that are moving in and excited about the transition and the newness of the home or the rehab but for me, it is the multifamily syndication. That's my route moving forward.
We are on the same page. I got you. Thank you so much for joining us. Cammie, do you have anything else before we go?
Renee and both of you started with single-family homes. I don't think you have to start there but you find what it is that you love. You find your core genius and move forward with that. You have to do something. As you take action, then you get these contacts and learn what you love. It's moving forward. It's taking those steps forward. It's amazing. I love both of you.
If I can dovetail off that, there's one last point. I know we are trying to wrap up. I started knowing that I was always going to go to multifamily syndication. I knew I was starting in single-family to build up some of the money and experience and have some good projects underneath my belt to speak about. To anybody reading, stay open. You never know what path life is going to take you down. What I mean by that is that early on, I ended up getting my realtor's license because I paid a realtor almost $30,000 to sell two of my deals. I'm like, "That's money out of my pocket."
There's no disrespect to that person but I'm probably a better negotiator because I can sell. I know the rehab and understand it. In doing so, this is a market wave but I've started focusing on portfolio deals from a realtor's perspective. What that means is you take an investor. Let's say they have built up 30 houses as rentals. They are wanting to sell all in one package. You can't list those retail when there are renters. Imagine all the different people going in and out.
What I started selling is, "Let me package up the portfolio deal and bring you a buyer that's an investor that can analyze the deal. I can help them analyze it. It's turnkey. They are going to purchase it and walk right in. Maybe they have a different business plan." That has been amazing. My point is that I never saw myself going down that route. I don't think it's something that's going to be around long-term-wise. It's a product of the market but I did see the trend, and when you see a trend and you can make money and be successful in it, capitalize on it. That's what I've done.
I'm going to have closed on over $24 million in real estate transactions as a realtor. It started with one lead. I saw the possibility. My mindset opened up. I'm like, "If this is a possibility on this, I'm going to do some Facebook posts and talk about it out in the market. If I get potential leads, I'm going to aggressively follow up on those." That has led to the closing of almost $24 million in real estate transactions. It's amazing. Stay open. You never know where life is going to take you.
Cammie, Elissa gave you Kyle's next business model. That's what Kyle is going to be doing next.
I keep throwing him into more businesses. He keeps looking at me like, "What are you doing? Stop."
Tell us how we can reach you. If we want to follow you on social and want to go to your website, how do we reach you?
Thank you for having me. It's an absolute pleasure. I so appreciate it. If anybody is interested in connecting with me and finding out a little bit more about what I do, even if I can help you in some shape, form or fashion and share tidbits of advice or maybe things that I've learned, Acquisitions By Design is my company website. You can also connect with me on Facebook. It's @ElissaStone. It's the same thing with Instagram. You can connect with me there.
I do have Facebook for my company as well. I sit up at a company called Total Wealth Academy. It's an amazing real estate education academy. I do quite a bit of work with them, both working with members and networking. They are amazing friends and almost like family up there. If anybody ever wants to come to join one of those events, I would love to have you as a guest as well.
Elissa, we are here in Houston. You are here with us. I wanted to point that out because this goes out around the world. If people are wanting to come to an event or an education type of thing where you might be participating, more than likely, that's going to be local here in town.
We do have online events as well. A lot of times, when there are amazing educational speakers of anything from cost segregation to maybe a single-family flip and lending, we offer livestreaming so you can sit in from wherever. If you are local in town, things are so much better face-to-face but the livestreaming is available as well for a great education.
Elissa Stone, thank you so much for joining me and Camille Davis. We want to say how much we appreciate you for coming to the show. Thank you for everything you are doing.
I'm so appreciative. Thank you, Renee. Thank you, Camille. Thank you for having me. It's an absolute pleasure. You are doing amazing things. Keep up the great work.
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About Elissa Stone
Elissa Stone’s background includes over 20 years experience bridging business partnerships and building internal teams within the healthcare, staffing, and real estate industries. Her roles have ranged from Director of Sales to Division Director, most recently as Vice President of Client Strategy within a Houston, TX real estate firm.
Stone’s initial immersion in real estate was in 2010 under the mentorship of a CEO who served as the 2014 President for the Houston Apartment Association. Elissa’s previous Fortune 500 experience, her fascination and myopic immersion into real estate, combined with her consultative nature and business integrity set the foundation for Acquisitions By Design.