Succeeding in real estate means staying flexible and keeping your thumb on the market’s fluctuating pulse. Here, Greg Kurzner, with ERA Atlantic Realty in Alpharetta, Ga., shares the secret to his continued success
Paige Tepping: What do you feel is your role in your community?
Greg Kurzner: As a company, one of our core values is to pay it forward and inspire others. In some ways, that relates to our property management business because we help people dealing with rental payment challenges or those looking for an affordable place to call home.
PT: What is driving your success?
GK: We reinvent our business model every few years. I’m constantly seeking out niche market opportunities to expand upon so I can continually build my book of business.
For example, I began my career as an REO Asset Manager in commercial real estate. Then, as the market evolved, I became a foreclosure broker, which helped us significantly grow our business.
Then, like anything else, the crisis was turning around and the huge amount of foreclosures disappeared, so we reinvented ourselves again. In 2012, I noticed that large hedge funds were entering our market and buying foreclosures and lower-priced properties before we could even get to them. The foreclosure business was literally raining and evaporating at the same time because of these institutional investment funds.
We then turned our focus to our property management division. We began reaching out to several of the smaller hedge funds and proposed managing their rental businesses for them. We solidified deals with a few of them and even brought on a larger fund. Then, we retooled our foreclosure staff to acquire properties on behalf of these new clients, and our property management team works to rent them out.
Also, after Hurricane Katrina, we noticed the need for tenant housing. Our management division focused on helping landlords lease and manage homes that could not be sold. They also worked with would-be homebuyers who couldn’t buy a home due to credit issues.
Both models are a success. We’re buying more than 400 homes this year on behalf of our hedge fund clients and managing about 1,200 single-family homes.
The management side has been a good business feeder for us because many new investors are looking to get into the metro Atlanta market. There are also many people self-managing their own portfolios who realize they have a bad real estate investment and look to us to sell it for them.
It’s a nice niche cycle that we’ve created. I’m always trying to find a replicable type of business niche so I can do more volume without the aspect of never sleeping at night. When one part of the business slows down, I know there’s another one that can pick up the slack while we reinvent once again.
PT: What are your best practices or things you try to avoid doing?
GK: I try not to get comfortable with a certain way of doing business and camp out there. Warren Buffet says, “You cannot expect tomorrow to be like today,” so you constantly have to change and adapt. I’m constantly looking for new ideas and opportunities to explore. I feel strongly that you should have a few different business practices in the works because when one isn’t doing so well, the other can pull you through the tough times and keep you in business. Also, I try to do everything with integrity. The opportunities will stop coming if your reputation is tarnished.
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