Want to invest in the real estate business but don’t know how? In this episode, real estate investor Joni Wolfswinkel shares her tested-and-proven strategies for finding the best deals, securing financing, and managing properties! Joni is a fierce modern-day entrepreneur that now owns numerous national franchises and one of Texas’ most well-respected turnkey real estate investment companies. Tune in now and obtain the “starter pack” for turnkey real estate investment newbies!
Listen to the podcast here
Turnkey Real Estate Investing With Joni Wolfswinkel
Welcome to the Wealth BuildHERS show. We are here with Joni Wolfswinkel. Joni, thank you so much for joining us. We are truly excited about the conversation with you.
Thank you so much, Renee and Camille, for having me on. I look forward to this episode.
Thank you so much. I wanted to ask you first. Our usual question is, how did you get started? You've done so much. I don't know where you want to start but tell us how you got started, then bring us forward to what you're doing now.
I got started in my real estate career when I was nineteen years old. I was attending the University of New Mexico. I was going to nursing school and I hated it. My husband now, at the time, is my fiancé, we were watching a late-night Infomercial show. I don't know if you guys remember Russ Whitney's, Infomercial. It was about buying houses and wholesaling them. We’re like, “This sounds cool.” We decided we were going to go to this three-day seminar thing, check it out and see what was going on. Once we got into it, we're like, “We can totally do this. This would be so much fun to do it together.”
At nineteen years old, my fiancé and I were buying houses and wholesaling. We would go check on our job sites after school and then take classes during the day. At that time, I was like, “I'm not getting into nursing anymore.” I switched gears and went into business school and it was okay. School was not for me. Right at the end there, I decided, “I'm going to go get my broker's license and I'm going to be a real estate agent.” I did that and bought our first house at nineteen years old. I did a lot of pre-foreclosure investing and wholesaling. To this day, I've bought and sold over 2,000 homes in my career.
My husband and I own a company together. We have Texas Turnkey Properties, where we build to rent. We build new construction duplexes and single-family homes and we sell them to the investor then we manage the properties for the investor and because of that, I own a property management company as well in Houston, Texas and in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Between the two markets, I managed about 1,500 doors. Real estate is in my blood. That's all I've known. I had to cut a weird college where I was buying houses and my friends were out partying. I was having a good time buying houses. That's how I got started.
Camille has a similar background. Cami, you came from medical from nursing as well into real estate, right?
That's right. I could say the same that I did not love school. I did finish my nursing and I worked at MD Anderson, the cancer hospital. I got into it because I quit my job to stay home with my one baby at the time, but now I have four. Pretty much built this and got good at subject two, taking over foreclosures, stopping foreclosures like sometimes a day before the foreclosure, then bringing the loan current and renting out the house.
We do have a similar background. A funny story, my husband and I, what moved us here to Texas, is we were buying pre-foreclosures in New Mexico. We would knock on doors. We were a young couple, so we were non-threatening. We would knock on doors, make agreements with homeowners and help the homeowners out, but in New Mexico, it was a judicial process. It could take anywhere from six months to a year to get the homeowner out, which is a little bit lengthy.
In Texas, it's different. It's a quick process. You can get somebody out within 30 days based on when the notices are put up for auction. That's what moved us here to Texas. We had a partner here and we were buying and selling pre-foreclosure houses here. We've knocked on so many doors. That was probably my favorite part of it. It was interacting with the homeowners, helping them out in their situation before they lost their homes. I loved that part of it.
Are you still doing that now? Are you doing more of the property management side?
It all has evolved. In 2008, 2009, that's when the market was shifting. My husband and I were like, “We can't be buying and selling and flipping houses for the rest of our lives. We got to do something else,” because we were noticing that our houses were taking longer to sell. We pivoted. We said, “Let's try to pivot and let's go ahead and do turnkey investing. Let's get them fixed up, rent them out and sell them to investors.”
We thought, “What's the worst-case scenario?” If we can't sell them, then we'll keep them for ourselves as rentals. We started that in about 2009. We were amazed. There were investors wanting to buy our product and we were like, “This is great.” We're like, “We need to start a property management company,” because it goes hand in hand together. Building our investment company, we didn't want to reinvent the will, so to speak. We thought, “Let's look into franchises.”
We looked into a property management franchise, which brought us into real property management. I'm the broker of Real Property Management now. That's where the property management came into play and now I love it. I have a team of about 55 on my team and there are so many moving parts in property management that a lot of people don't love it, but when you get into it, you gravitate toward that.
I have a question about the property management side of the business. Do you find it hard to manage properties that are spread out? What I mean is you have single-family properties that may be in different locations, not all in the same area. Do you find it challenging to manage properties that are spread out or do you structure your team so that they're able to handle that?
We structure our team. It can be challenging if you don't have your systems and processes in place. We have territories where certain vendors are responsible for certain territories. We do it a little differently. I know that some property management companies have an in-house maintenance department, which can make it difficult because if your in-house team is going to all the different properties, that can be challenging.
How we're structured is we've partnered with vendors in certain territories. If we need them to do a maintenance call, they're already in the area. That's what's helped us. Our property management company, we've structured where we have pods. We have team pods. A group of maybe five in a pod is responsible for 350 properties. They know the properties inside and out. That way, if anything comes up, they're responsible for that property.
I love systems. I love a good system. Cami knows that about me.
It's all about systems. That's what's how we've been able to get to where we're at now. I don't know if you are familiar with virtual assistants or remote team members. We have 30 remote team members that work for us. Every department helps to keep our costs down, being able to stay lean. They work in leasing, renewals, maintenance and coordination. That's what's helped us grow and scale our business as well.
Is this for you? Do you do property management only for your properties or are you a company that other investors could work with as well?
I have a portfolio myself of about 55 that I own, but for the most part, it's all other investors. We specialize in helping the investor because we sell turnkey properties. The minute that they purchase one of our duplexes or one of our single-family homes, we manage the property for them when they close. They don't close on the property until the property's performing, so they're collecting rent on day one.
I think a lot of investors are looking at the build-to-rent model and saying, “That's a pretty cool model.” We've been doing it now for a little while and it's worked really well for us. Especially having the property management company together with the turnkey investment company helps because the investor is with us for the long term. It's not like we're going to hand them off to some third-party property management company. If there's an issue, we are all a team and we're helping each other out.
It takes out the fear for an investor to get started. They don't have to worry about the management side. I think that's what scares people maybe the most.
You are right and that's one thing. You have to invest in properties where it makes sense. There are some markets where it doesn't make any sense. They come to us. They want a team in place, somebody that they can trust and so that's the biggest challenge for a lot of investors. It's hard to find the right team in place.
I am looking at starting a construction company possibly. I told my attorney I was going to do that and he said, “Property management and construction companies, I would never do.” I was like, “Are you saying you I shouldn't do this?” He said, “No, you should do this, but I would never do this.” Property management is probably your hardest and finding good workers who do good work and not going to take off with your money and a good property management team is the hardest.
It's challenging, especially now. We've had so many challenges during COVID with property management dealing with the eviction moratorium and having to be proactive. We did a lot of cash for keys during that time because it's easier to do that than to wait on the court system to find a court date in evictions. A good property management company is going to be proactive like that and being investors helps because of the terminology of what is cash for keys and how do you approach that. The same thing with vendors. With inflation costs going up, it's difficult to find workers and to keep the cost down as well. A good property management company can do those two things.
Joni, I think this is phenomenal. Do you do any, not necessarily coaching but do you work with other women investors who maybe need some direction in this area or have you written a book maybe? Tell us about how we can get to where you are.
I do. A couple of things. I don't do a whole lot of coaching, but if you reached out to me, I'd be willing and able to help anybody that's interested. I did write a book, though. It's called The Choice Is Yours Balancing Success as Wife, Mom, and Entrepreneur. It's a women empowerment book to let women out there know that you can do anything that you want as long as you put your mind to it. Striving for success in all areas of your life. Being a mom and a business owner, it's not easy. A wife, but you can do it and you can have it all.
That aligns with our vision and why we're doing this show. We’re starting this women's group in Houston. Also, on a side note, I have someone that came to me that wants to buy a duplex. She's a brand-new investor. I will start referring people because I think you've got a great thing going on here.
I can give you everything. We would be willing to help you. Come visit us out in Houston as well since you guys are in Houston.
Yes, I know. That's why I was so excited when you told me. We're all in the same city. It's phenomenal. Houston has 4 million people. When I tell you it's an abundance mentality when it comes to real estate investing, “Should I get in? Everybody's doing it.” Get in. Everybody's doing it. There's more than enough. We're all in Houston, all three of us, different parts. I'm in the Woodlands. Cami is at Humble. Joni, what part of town are you in the city of Houston?
I am in the Cypress area.
We are all in completely different parts of the city and not even stepping on each other's toes because there's so much to be had. Houston is not the only city where this is happening across the United States. There are so many pockets of great places where ladies can start getting educated and start investing.
Having that abundance mindset is key here. You hit that right there and having groups like this too. That's what's gotten me to where I'm now being surrounded by women like yourselves who could help me and push me and grow to the extreme.
Ladies, if you're not checking us out on YouTube, check us out on YouTube on the Wealth BuildHERS Channel. Inside the Wolf’s Den, Joni, tell us what that is.
That was my next thing. My husband and I started a podcast ourselves as well. We'll be celebrating our 100th episode, so check that out. It's been so much fun, but it's our entrepreneurial journey, how we got started. We have several different businesses, so not only property management and turnkey investing. We also have a plumbing company as well as a virtual assistant company. That podcast shares all of that. It has so many amazing guests, real estate investors, bankers, you name it on that. It's a wealth of knowledge. As I said, one way we've been able to learn is listening to a podcast like this. It's free. Get as much knowledge as you can out there.
What are your thoughts? I heard you mention your husband. Camille and I have our spouses as well, that are around all of this investing stuff. How has the journey been for the two of you being in real estate together?
It's been interesting for us because we were high school sweethearts. We've been dating since we were fifteen years old. We've grown up together. We've grown into this together. As you grow and my company is much larger now. We had to find our place and what my unique ability is and Shawn’s unique ability is. That's what has helped us. Now he deals with the new construction turnkey side of things. I love building my team. I love connecting with people and that's where I'm at. It works well as long as you find your role within the company.
You guys never ever argue about who's doing what?
There have been tons of arguments. The hardest part is taking it home with you and taking it home with your kids. We have this thing where, “When we get home at night, we're not talking business. It's family time.” Phones go in the bowl and we don't look at our emails. We don't answer phone calls. It's family, but it's taken years to get to that point. There have been lots of arguments, but communication is key.
This is a side question, a random thought. Do your kids step in and want to work with you or are they doing a completely different thing?
Our kids are still young. I have a girl, Mila and a boy, Lucas. They've also been knocking on doors with us since they were young too. They know that real estate is our passion. They also have their own rental homes, so they collect cashflow on their own rental homes as well. We bought a piece of land. It was on Wolf Street and our last name was Wolfswinkel. We're like, “This would be a great opportunity. Let's go ahead and buy this.” We built two houses there, so they both have a house that they collect rent on. They're funny because, during Christmas time, they're like, “Mom, how much money do we have in our account?”
We go through that with them, but they want to buy Christmas presents with this. We're trying to teach them how to save and whatnot. We did a family rehab this past winter, so we bought a house together. We spent weekends there rehabbing it and hiring contractors. We wanted them to understand that process and even budgeting. We're teaching them little by little. They are still young, and I hope they will take over the business one day, but at least, they're getting a good foundation of it and saving and investing.
My kids are older and neither of them is necessarily involved in the construction side, but they both take an interest in other things like social media marketing. My daughter's like, “You've got to put stuff on TikTok. There's nothing about your business on TikTok, Mom. I'm going to post some stuff.” I'm like, “That's fine,” because I can't do it.
That's awesome right there. I try to do content once a week and some people can't get it. If your daughter's in there, your son is into that, that's great.
I have a question about networking, Joni. Are you currently doing any meetups, groups, or anything like that where we could glean more information? Maybe it's online. I don't know what you have going on.
I have never started a group myself. I'm involved in a bunch of different groups, Masterminds. I've been involved in the Collective Genius Mastermind. I think it's important that you are in a group and you have that group to push you, but I've never started a group. That's something that it's all on my bucket list to do. Maybe I'll hook up with you guys and start working together.
We would love it.
Yes, work with us.
I think that's great.
I know that so many times when audience members are reading, they want to know where they can glean more nuggets and gems about what you're doing. We're going to send them to Inside the Wolf’s Den so they can check out your show. We want to pick up the book, The Choice is Yours. In the book, is there something specific that you're talking about? Is it a mindset? Is it family? What’s covered there?
A lot of mindset and family dysfunctions. When I grew up, I grew up pretty much in a rough home. My mom was a single mom. She worked two jobs to try to support my brother and me. I had some addiction in my family. My father was a heroin addict. It talks a little bit about how I overcame those dysfunctions. What has driven me today was going through those things. I had this fear that I was going to become my father and my brother. My brother also had an addiction. I wanted to stop that cycle. I was driven to stop that ad, so that's what has driven me to who I am now. It talks a little about that and the choices that you make in life.
It is our choice. I brought this up before, but I love the idea of not having a victim mindset or not being controlled by the circumstances around you. To a point, we are controlled by our circumstances, but in a lot of it, we do have choices. It's creating different choices for ourselves. It makes all the difference.
That's the quote that starts in my book. It says, “Be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”
It's meant to be. You would think we would've known this beforehand, but you're perfect for this.
I want to thank you and commend you for writing the book and sharing that information because where we are as women, sometimes, we feel like there's every reason why we cannot do this. It's my relationship, the choices I've made in the past, or my financial situation. I have kids and I can't do it. To be honest, in America, you can come from almost any situation and be successful if you are willing to work to change your mindset and go through the process. It is not always easy, but if you want it, you can accomplish all of the things that you're doing. Miss Joni, is there anything else that you want to share with us before we get out of here?
The only thing I would like to say is if the first five people that email me, I will send out a copy of my book. My email address is Joni@HTownRPM.com. I would love to hear from your readers. Check us out at Inside the Wolf’s Den as well and our 100th episode is coming up.
Anywhere else we want to follow you? Inside the Wolf’s Den is on every podcast platform?
Yes, and my Instagram is @JoniMWolf, so you can follow me there as well.
Joni, thank you so much for taking the time to be with Cami and me. We sincerely appreciate it.
This has been so much fun. Thank you for having me on.
Joni Wolfswinkel – LinkedIn
@JoniMWolf – Instagram
About Joni Wolfswinkel
Joni Wolfswinkel is a podcast host and real estate investor in Houston, TX. Her show, Inside the Wolf’s Den follows Joni and her husband Shawn on their rewarding entrepreneurial journey. With over twenty years of running multiple successful businesses, Joni and Shawn are two fierce modern-day entrepreneurs. Together they own numerous national franchises and one of Texas’ most well respected Turnkey Real Estate investment companies. Joni has spent decades mastering the ins and outs of complex business decisions and has become intimately aware of the struggles and triumphs of leading small to medium-sized businesses in today’s competitive market place. She looks forward to sharing her true stories, challenges, and the obstacles that she and Shawn have overcome to craft profitable companies and an awe-inspiring relationship.