This week, we have Jennie Lok on Crushing it in Real Estate! Jennie is a 2019 30 under 30 Realtor in the San Francisco Bay Area, who made the list in her first attempt! (That’s an amazing accomplishment). She’s also a rental property investor in the Bay Area and she also has many properties out of state. Join us this week as we dive into Jennie’s world and unLOK our potential with her expertise.
[0:02] Bryan: Hey guys, welcome to another episode of Crushing Real Estate. Today we have a very special guest, her name is Jennie Lok. Jennie Lok is the 2019 30 under 30 realtor with over 100 sales transaction in her real estate career. Jennie, welcome to the show, can you introduce yourself real, quick?
[0:20] Jennie: Hey, welcome. Thank you so much, Bryan, for having me here today. And I’ve known Bryan for many years now so it’s really exciting to see us grow in this real estate industry and path to build wealth and passive income. And a little about myself, I initially came up to the Bay Area working at Oracle in technology sales and I really wanted to buy a house by the age of 28 years old and then I fast forward my goal and bought my house at 23 years old, house hacking, yes, and just with the knowledge and realizing that my rent was going towards someone else’s mortgage. So, that’s how I really got into real estate to just buy something so I don’t have to pay rent anymore and get my other roommates to pay me instead so that was my first steppingstone. And then from there, I wanted to purchase more investment properties, and trying to increase my income. And I realized the best route to do that was to go full force and be in the real estate field as a real estate agent in the Bay Area and help others to really learned how to do the same thing I’ve done and be able to build equity and passive income from just owning properties and making more passively in equity than I have, I was at my previous W2 job.
[1:53] Bryan: That’s crazy. Can we take a step back, what are you doing before you dove yourself into real estate, what was your W2 job?
[2:00] Jennie: So, before that I was at Oracle. So, I was in technology sales. And that was out in Redwood City, Redwood Shores area, I was teaching database and account management or small medium businesses out in Denver. So, I worked with a lot of small, upcoming companies and being able to help them solve their database problems and their technology problems for growth. And it was definitely a great learning experience. And I really love that experience, because now I’m helping a lot of my past colleagues from Oracle by homes, I just gave keys to two sets of my past colleague in the last month.
[2:45] Bryan: Wow, I mean, I know you mentioned that you were working in technology sales before, do you felt like some of those skills translate over to being, a strong realtor?
[2:55] Jennie: I would say there’s a lot of things within sales that we learned, we went through with Oracle sales Academy, so we learned to just really follow up and be diligent making calls. So, our standard was making 30 to 50 calls per day and then sending out emails and just meeting with clients figure out how to set up your pipeline. So, we truly run, I truly run my business with my team on a operational systems perspective with similar to the corporate model. And I think that’s what really sets our team apart from a lot of other agents who might go tour some houses, show around some homes, go to inspections, put up signs and meet with stagers and do all these different things versus we really focus on the main four things we should be doing as a real estate investor, an agent, which is what we, the initials, our plan is prospecting, lead follow up, appointments and negotiations, and then nothing else should be dealt with, get it to other people, because that’s not worth your time, like the lower dollar producing activities.
[4:06] Bryan: Okay, well, that makes a lot of sense, then. And can you walk us through your team right now? How big is your team? And what’s your team called?
[4:13] Jennie: Yes, so we’re Own Real Estate and our team is of 12 people. So, we have agents on the team and then for staff members, it consists of a marketing manager who helps us with our social media, our direct mail and a lot of other pieces to we do a lot of door knocking so they are creating the content and putting out flyers, which takes a lot of time off of our backs. And that have a transaction coordinator who is helping with all of our escrows, talking to the lenders, making sure escrow closes smoothly, right by helping them sign for our offers as well too. Because if most agents are spending a lot of time writing offers, and especially with investors, it takes, it could take maybe two, three hours right one offer potentially and we delegate that to someone else that really gives us more time back to just focus on meeting with the core people to build relationships and bring in more deals and connect more sellers and buyers and investors together. And then we also have a listing coordinator who meets with all of our vendors and handles all the nitty gritty of our listings. It really gives us a lot of time back.
[5:35] Bryan: I like the team structures, very corporate style you’re bringing to your team, so I like a lot. And you mentioned something about door knocking, like door knocking is very applicable to my line of business as well that’s how we finalize most of our flip deals. I just want to know the difference between your door knocking door strategy and ours. I mean, typically for us, you walk to the owner, we ask them like, hey, like, are you interested in selling your house? And it’s really you’re hard for us to distinguish that we’re not real estate agent, we’re here to purchase the house all cash, there are certain things that you can say that’s kind of salesy, but I want to talk through that part you, like, what do you say to these homeowners when you door knock on their homes?
[6:17] Jennie: Yes, so a lot of the times I think it, so your approach is more direct, mine is a little less direct, it’s more 06:25 [inaudible], we have this event for the community, we’re having a charity event for Habitat for Humanity, where we build some homes, so we’re going to do a Casino Night, so it’ll be fun, and would love for you to come by and help. And we always give it more so of a give and take, where we love helping others. But if you’re asking them, oh, can you help me, I want to buy and flip house? So, I pick a farm of 1000 homes actually and I’ll consistently build those relationships. I just come by and say hello, and just check on how they’re doing and then just simply ask them, hey, how’s your Tuesday afternoon going? How’s your Wednesday morning going? Just because a lot of the times people are empty nesters or widowed people who are living at home by themselves and they need someone to talk to, sometimes they haven’t talked to anyone all day, so, but they also know what’s going on with the neighborhood. So, they’ll give me tips, I’ll ask them, hey, I do have this great family who’s looking to move into this neighborhood and they love XYZ neighborhood and want to be in XYZ school district and we wrote an offer on that property but we were second, have you heard of any rumors of anyone that might be looking to sell at the right price? Saying at the right price really get some thinking just because everyone would probably sell at a right price. Everything is for sale, if you think about it, at the price. Well, just seeing what their reaction is and then I’ve gotten referrals from that, I’ve gotten people saying, hey, they just had an estate sale so they’re clearing out their house, maybe you should reach out to them. So, just hearing feedback from the neighbors and that’s how I’ve been targeting a lot of specific homes and calling them, back tracking and calling them that their phone numbers if they’re absentees, they don’t live in the area, say hey, I saw your house and was wondering what your goals were with the home.
[8:37] Bryan: Wow, I really liked those points he brought up, like really building that rap support with the people you meet and consistently doing it over and over until you build a familiar face with no presence of a reliable, trustworthy realtor. I mean, that can be applied to anything, to including my side of the world. For me, I get a lot of like, no, I’m not interested in selling, are you trying to scam me? I like how you saw from that approach where you’re like, okay, you’re building the rap support first. That’s super important. Because real estate is a relationship game at the end of the day, you know? I like that a lot Jennnie.
[9:12] Jennie: Yeah, people based off of relationships, not really just paid. Because from what I’m hearing a lot of investors do, it sounds more transactional, which is great. But then to build longer relationships, you get more of the referrals. And it’ll be less of that grind down the road, because people are like, okay, I need to call Jennie and she knows, she has investors to work with, I want to don’t, I want to sell as is, I don’t want to put any work into it, or she can help me list it, so coming with multiple solutions.
[9:42] Bryan: Okay. Yeah, definitely. So, I want to take a step back and kind of walk through your story, like what made you like, what made you leave your W2 job? What challenges do you face when you first began your real estate career?
[9:56] Jennie: Yes, thank you for asking. I think that’s definitely a deeper question to really dive into. And taking that leap of faith is a bit scary at first. And what I really focus on was a feature that I had one mentor, his name is Terry Elle, you know him as well. When I met him, he told me, hey, what you need to do is go home, write your five year goal, and your plan for that, what you want to accomplish, personally, professionally, spiritually, health wise, and then your four year goal, then your three year goal than your two year goal then your one year goal then your goals in five months, four months, three months, two months, one month, go and then your daily goal;. So, he told me that and that really put it into perspective of what I wanted to accomplish. And when I started off, I wrote out like I want to own, like have $10,000 of passive income per month, I want to own 30 homes, I want to, just like really work backwards, I want to buy a house here in the Bay Area, another house for my future family to like, just grow my kids with and just really working backwards and then before I was, when I was 23 years old, I had nothing, I was renting. So, that was just that, yeah, three years ago, then now, I’m just really setting a plan in place and looking at the end goal in mind and also creating a big why too. So, my big why, my parents were immigrants who came here from China in the 80s and still work in a clothing factory, selling clothes, every day, 12-hour day, seven days a week. So, I really think about the hard work that they put into me and, I really strive to help them live a life that they deserve. So, living, either it’s an early retirement or semi-retirement thing, Asian parents always want to work forever, so I don’t know if I can truly get them to retire but be able to take them on trips, so I’m taking them to Barcelona, and for Thanksgiving, so and then I just fly them out here from New York to San Francisco a few times here. And I go out there to see them. So, it’s just really putting that end goal in mind of, I’m doing this for my parents, and then I’m doing this for my future family. It makes everything easier, making the door knocking not painful, making the cold calling not painful and the follow up. People don’t like to do all these small things, but look at, hey, it has gotten me then it really sheds light of. okay, this is all worth it.
[12:56] Bryan: Wow, that’s very relatable to me, I’m, also from a pretty poor background. My parents escaped the Vietnam War, you know, we came over here with nothing. And all my life, we always talk about things we wish we had. It’s very similar to yours, like I find my parents out of different places, I pay for their mortgage, I get money, every month, I do the same things you do, so very similar why, very heartfelt when you said that part. At least I know like, we’re not alone during this process. Because sometimes it kind of sucks, like not having a single weekend or having calls, all into like 11pm at night but you think back to our parents and we make it worth it, you know?
[13:40] Jennie: Yeah, just backed by the parents and we work hard now and like that we can invest for our time back in the future. Some things like similar to you, probably your parents worked really hard and you don’t really get to see them that often, so I think that’s something that hopefully both of us want and other people who are listening is that, I want to be able to spend time with my kids because my parents never get to spend that much time with me because they were spending so much time to work hard to provide for me and my brother, so I want to be able to just take them to their sports practice games just travel on weekends or take them somewhere off to just go explore.
[14:24] Bryan: Yeah, I agree with that point. I want to talk more about your accomplishments and I mean, we all know that you’re 2019, 30 under 30 realtor, you’re really well known among our group as well but we’re all, oh man Jennie Lok is a badass, you know, we talked about your motivation system that you have so far. I just want to know more about like, how you ever thought about imagine yourself mean 30 under 30, do you visualize yourself? Like, have you set goals, so micro that you can like visually do step by step in order to get to your goal, like, what was your mindset behind trying to get to 30 under 30?
[15:03] Jennie: Yes. So, how I heard about 30 under 30 initially was from my mentor, my team lead Wilson Young and he was a finalist for 30 under 30 in 2017, that was just two years ago. And for him, he made the final 50, but not the 30. So, I told him, I’m going to become 30 under 30 for you, so that was the main goal. I wanted to prove to him that I can do it and I set a two-year goal for that from 2017 to 2019., hey. I’m going to be 30 under 30, within my second year of real estate, and woke up every morning, and I just would say affirmations. I’m Jenny Lok and I’m 30 under 30, Jennie Lok 30 under 30. Before I go and knock on doors and like people want to talk to me, people love meeting with me, I’m here to make people’s days, I’m here to just be a value to the community. I don’t go in, oh, I’m here to come list a house or I’m here to like help sell your house, like I don’t think that or I’m helping you in that because that comes off as what we call commission breath. What we really shave it is to show value, how we really care about them and their goals. And I just focused on that and the people and never really thought about the commission I was going to make, I was thinking more about, okay, how many families I can help. My goal in my first year was to help, I think it was 18 families and I surpassed that goal of helping 25 families. And then my next year’s goal was helping 24 families and I increased it to 36 and then I was able to help 40 families. This year is to help a little more like 48 to 50 families and everybody helped 37 families and–. So, it’s really amazing to just really focus on one family at a time and focus on one day, each hour and being very purposeful of time blocking and knowing your numbers too. Okay, I want to like knock for 10 hours this week and be able to talk to at least 20 people per day. So, that’s some of the basic metrics I look into every single day that I know that I’ll make it a winning day.
[17:28] Bryan: Yeah, I like that. I mean, you shift your mentality from, I want to like hit my number to, how can I help as many people as possible, you know, like, having that giver mentality can get you, like, I think that’s a better approach to business, you know, and everything you mentioned so far is very consistent along the lines of building a stronger relationship with people and making an impact and helping as many people as you can. That’s a really good approach. And me, I talked to a lot of realtors, and a lot of them were like, they don’t build relationship with me, they’re like, who are you? Like, why do you call me for? I’m like, bro, you’re a realtor, that’s why I called you. But I like that a lot, Jennie. I mean, the crazy part is you can technically still make 30 under 30 like 3 more years.
[18:18] Jennie: I know like, but once you get it, then you can’t get it again. But yeah, we just get that recognition. But I, there was one time like, okay, if I don’t get this, and I’ll have to apply next year, again, I’m going to apply every single year until I get it. Luckily, but the first time I applied, I got it. But I think my next goal is to really help my team members because there’s a few people under 30 as well to become 30 under 30 too and strive for that ambition and now seeing and being able to lead others making, like 22, 23 year old’s making over 100 grand a year. And that has been very fulfilling to me because they know that their first job out of college, they will be making this type of money.
[19:08] Bryan: Wow, that’s really good. I mean, you have everything going for you, building relationships everywhere, inside your team, outside your team, kill it Jennie, love it. So, what are your goals, well, for the rest of the year, next year and five years from now? Just out of curiosity.
[19:26] Jennie: And I have to definitely look back, I want to look back on what I did when 19:31 [inaudible] told me a few years back. But for this year’s goals is really to spend time and travel with my family. So, I and my significant other and also friends. So, I always, for this year, I plan for one trip a month, I think last year I was grinding really hard that I didn’t really get time to really enjoy and travel and I’m now taking a step back to go on one trip a month. I’m going to to Portugal, Vienna this weekend, and then, I want to, with my parents and going to New York. So, learning to be able to leverage others is what I’ve really gained versus last year. I did so much on my own that I got burnt out. But now I’m thinking more and helping more families than I did last year by leveraging other people and giving them the opportunity to help my clients out and now I get more time to spend with my family. So, this is the main year goal for this year. And then the goal is also to help 50 families, which I’m on track to do. And the other goal is to have 20 units with me and my boyfriend, so, we’re at 18 right now. Yeah, we’re at 18 units right now. You know, sometimes it’s also like we set certain goals, but we also realize what we want to realign to because so it’s not always about the units, it’s more about their ROI. And yes, we can probably get to 30 units, but the ROI and appreciation might not quite be there. So, we really save up for the next investments, especially if 2020, 2021 there’s a lot of talks that there might be more of a correction. So, we want to have our cash prepared for that one, to purchase more deals down the road next year. So, two-year goal from now is to be able to buy another home here in the Bay Area, to live over in a condo in San Francisco, and eventually be able to build a life and start a family in that home ideally in San Mateo. And yeah, five year goal, I would say is to just have more speaking engagements and be able to create a bigger network where I can empower other people similar to us to show that they have the potential to do more than just what they’re doing on from their standard W2 job. So, I last name is Lok, so I always put a hashtag out there, you probably see it, Unlok your potential. And I want to really be able to hone that for others and unlock people’s potential in what they can do in their own lives through real estate through investing.
[22:29] Bryan: Wow, I love that a lot. Sounds like we have very similar to your goals, so I might see you in San Mateo neighbor. That’s awesome, like little too.
[22:39] Jennie: Maybe we’ll help each other find each other’s deals.
[22:45] Bryan: Exactly. I was telling everyone like, San Mateo is like my most ideal place I want to raise a family, I’ve actually been looking for a lot of light fixtures in the area. So, I mean, couple weeks ago, I was looking at duplex down there. But even for fixer, for a duplex, like 1.3, it’s sold for 1.3, I’m like, holy cow, right, this is a fixer, what the heck? Well, that’s a really good area, so I like that. So, what kind of advice would you give someone just starting out as a realtor?
[23:23] Jennie: Just starting out, I would definitely say similar to what I did is walking through your five-year goal and working backwards from there. Just sit down, write it down with pen and paper, don’t type it out, just, the act of the ink flowing through when you’re physically writing something, it will sink in more, and then creating a vision board of what that looks like and then finding a great mentor too, so I’m open to being people’s mentors and giving some advice, but really finding a great mentor you can lean on, even if it’s a coach to really help you and keep you accountable so I really believe in coaching. At first when I was, a few years back, I’m like why are people paying for coaching, or they, like do they have issues, like I don’t have issues like as therapy, and but then now like, realizing this coaching world, all the successful people have coaches, we look at the basketball players like they all have, like all different coaches for different parts of their lives. And then all the CEOs, they have great coaches from like a spiritual, mental business coaching. So, I say we’ll find a great coach and mentor to keep you accountable and also keep track to make sure that you are accountable for yourself too and see how how badly you want it. And I think sometimes people love being comfortable but also be okay being with uncomfortable.
[24:57] Bryan: Yeah, that’s also my philosophy too, so I always put myself in very uncomfortable situations, that’s the last when you grow the most personally, you can overcome these challenges. Nice. If you don’t mind us talking quickly about your investments, where are your investments and what kind of returns are you typically looking for your ROI or cash in cash.
[25:23] Jennie: So, I really believe in diversifying your portfolio. And so, my real estate investments, my first property I bought was from house hacking in south San Francisco, it’s two bedroom, two bath home and bought it from a home equity line of credit for my parents’ house and a mortgage from my own from when I was working at Oracle. So, then I looked at the numbers and then basically the whole property was bought with bank money because we didn’t put any of our money down. It was home equity line of credit, and then the mortgage. So, I rent out each room and it for about 1200 dollars, so it covers the whole mortgage and some and it’s been really great cash flow, the appreciation has been really awesome, I would say close to $100,000 every single year, which was I think income per year. So, this is just me sitting on it. I hopefully I’ll still go up but we do see a correction happening where it might stagnate a little bit. But I think as long as I keep it long term, we have a strategy of just buy and hold and they go, keep going up from there. And then I increase finance because it’s on a 30-year fixed mortgage. And my other investments are in Kansas City, I have two fourplexes out there, also have a single-family home out in Huntsville, Alabama. And then also my boyfriend and I, we own properties in Texas, so between 26:59 [inaudible]. So, a mixture of single-family homes and one fourplex out there. And we’re starting a bar right now, so or we just bought something for like $70,000 and going to or less than 70, I think it was 65,000 and going to 25000 into it and I’ll hopefully appraise for around 130 to 150, just going through that process right now.
[27:29] Bryan: When you typically buy your investment properties, do you only strictly buy in B class neighborhoods or A class neighborhoods? And what kind of cap were you looking at?
[27:38] Jennie: So, we’re usually looking at what the first initial rule is the 1% rule, if we can rent out for 1% of what we purchase for let’s say we bought it for 130 then wanted to rent out for 113 hundred dollars per month, so that’s initial one. We’re looking at all different neighborhoods, but usually B and C class, just the returns are a little better. But now we’re focusing more on B’s where there’s going to be less turnover and then we can get more so appreciation because a C class, you’ll get good cash flow, but you won’t get the appreciation or more of a combination of both. And the cap rate. I would say it’s definitely; we strive for getting a good 10% at least.
[28:27] Bryan: Wow, for B class as well, that’s pretty high.
[28:29] Jennie: Yeah, for double digit return is what we strive for. And we’re also looking at our numbers where we’re calculating the cash on cash more so than the cap rate, because it’s what we’re putting in, what we’re getting out. We’ve leveraged some private money to put for the down payment, and we’re giving them a return. So, when you think of that, it’s infinite returns because we never put any of our own money down interest rates to like our siblings or other friends for the downpayment, and then they’re getting on the interest and then we’re getting the cash flow from there.
[29:05] Bryan: Wow, that’s really creative strategy. I have out of state rental properties as well, B or C class neighborhood, or 12%. Columbus, Ohio, 10 to 12%, cap rate so that’s kind of my goal. But I realized when I start going to like B class neighborhoods, I think the best thing of all for 6 or 7%. So, when you mentioned my you wouldn’t you strive for 10% of B class neighborhood, immediately I’m thinking, where, show me? Yeah, so I also own a unit down in Pasadena, LA, that one doesn’t produce good cash in cash in any way, shape, or form. More so appreciation, so that brings me to my next question, is appreciation more important to your cash flow more important to you?
[30:00] Jennie: I would say it’s a mixture of both, because you can’t use appreciation right away. The cash flow, I think it’s important to leverage to build up your income. And I believe in a mixed approach. If we just focus on appreciation, and let’s say there’s going to be a downturn, then you’re going to lose all that appreciation, now you’re going to be underwater, or being having to pay out of pocket every single month mortgage. So, I think having 50/50 is really, really great. So, I have like my Huntsville, Alabama, one is great cash flow, zero appreciation. And then Texas ones I would say are a mix of decent cash flow and appreciation. And then here in the Bay Area, because I put a lot more down payment, it is cash flowing. But when we’re looking at the numbers of what was put down, it’s more so appreciation. I like having all different shot a G’s. And I think just having a hybrid of both is we’re new investors start with that, because want something that you just have, I have to pay every single month out of pocket from sometimes with the great cash flow areas we also see are all Laurin, the C class neighborhoods, not as great neighborhoods, so you’re going to find more meetings. More like we’ve had one issue with like a section eight tenant who he just is crazy, because he’s a retired vet, and he has PTSD and he had some violence issues that was causing disruption with other tenants in our lives. So those are little things that I think moving forward. It’s a great learning experience, but ideally would want to get in a more of a hybrid situation.
[32:02] Bryan: Okay, I really liked that approach to and for your stories about C class tenants, I can totally relate. Had a property manager been like, yo, your ceiling is missing, I’m like, how do you do that? So, as we’re approaching the end of the show, I want to talk about what’s your favorite book, Jennie? What do you all-time favorite book that inspire you?
[32:30] Jennie: I’d say the generic one that got me started was Rich Dad, Poor Dad, I was actually driving down to Vegas and listen to that. And it’s very opposite of going to Vegas. But that’s really shifted my mindset. But I would say my favorite book I always recommend is the one thing by Gary Keller and Jay Pappas, and really focusing on what to do and being very purposeful with every hour of your day, every minute of your day, every interaction. They have a great podcast as well, where they interview people who live by the one thing and how they’ve been able to transform their lives. And yes, I was, that’s the first book I recommend anyone reading because it doesn’t have the octane to just real estate investing with any facets of life. Like if you’re in the medical field, if you’re in a teacher, if you’re a stay at home mom, there’s been a lot of different use cases of people who’ve been able to improve their lives through the one thing.
[33:33] Bryan: Wow, I really like that. So, Jenny, how can our listeners find out more about you?
[33:38] Jennie: Yeah, I’m on Instagram. You can @JennieLok and just messaged me that way and I’ll be pretty responsive, or you can just google, Yelp me and you’ll find me and you can give me a call anytime, and I’m happy to answer any questions.
[33:55] Bryan: Awesome. Thank you so much for your time, Jennie. Really, happy to have this. Appreciate it.
[34:01] Jennie: Thanks so much. I look forward to seeing what you’re doing with everything, Bryan, really few years of how much you’ve built your real estate business.
[34:11] Bryan: Definitely. We’ll talk soon, right? Bye Jennie.