How To Break Into Commercial Real Estate • Helen Chong

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Helen Chong, the founder of Haylen Group goes back to the beginning of her journey into real estate business. Helen describes the pivotal moment when one decision changed the course of her career and her ultimately her future. Helen discusses how she used her knowledge in real estate investment to build her career as a real estate agent. Next, Helen talks about her book “Power To Change Lives” and why she decided to write it. Helen also discusses how residential agents can expand their career into commercial real estate and the complexities of commercial real estate. Last, Helen describes how she’s been able to build her successful business.

You can buy Helen’s book “Power To Change Lives” here.

If you’d prefer to watch this interview, click here to view on YouTube!

Hele Chong can be reached at helen@haylengroup.com and (888) 406-5788.

This episode was brought to you by Real Geeks and FollowUpBoss.


D.J. Paris 0:00
Should residential agents consider adding commercial into their real estate practice? We’re going to discuss that today. Stay tuned. This episode of Keeping it real is brought to you by real geeks. How many homes are you going to sell this year? Do you have the right tools? Is your website turning soft leads and interested buyers? Are you spending money on leads that aren’t converting? Well real geeks is your solution. Find out why agents across the country choose real geeks as their technology partner. Real geeks was created by an agent for agents. They pride themselves on delivering a sales and marketing solution so that you can easily generate more business. There agent websites are fast and built for lead conversion with a smooth search experience for your visitors. Real geeks also includes an easy to use agent CRM. So once a lead signs up on your website, you can track their interest and have great follow up conversations. Real geeks is loaded with a ton of marketing tools to nurture your leads and increase brand awareness visit real geeks.com forward slash keeping it real pod and find out why Realtors come to real geeks to generate more business again, visit real geeks.com forward slash keeping it real pod and now on to our show.

Hello, and welcome to another episode of Keeping it real the largest podcast made by real estate agents and for real estate agents. My name is DJ Paris. I’m your guide and host through the show and in just a moment we’re going to be speaking with Helen John, before we get to Helen just a couple of quick reminders. As always, please tell a friend about our show. There’s 1.6 million realtors out there so not everyone is heard of keeping it real. So please find someone else in your office or another agent that you feel could use a boost in their business and send them a link to our website which is keeping it real pod.com We appreciate it and also follow us on Facebook you can find us@facebook.com forward slash keeping it real pod every single day we post an article that we find online specifically written to help agents grow their business so find us@facebook.com forward slash keeping it real pod alright enough from me. Let’s get on to our interview with Helen John.

Right today on the show, Helen Chong she’s the founder of the heyland group in San Jose, sunny California. Let me tell you about Helen. Now Helen Shang CCI M is the founder of the heyland group in San Jose, which is dedicated to helping clients build their real estate portfolio from residential and commercial real estate sales. She has over 16 years of real estate experience as an agent mentor as well as an investor Helens company that hailing group has been recognized as part of the top 1.5% Real Estate teams by America’s best so she’s a top one and a half percent team. She’s a sought after speaker as well on real estate related topics is written real estate investment articles featured in Forbes she’s also or has been the president of the Northern California Chapter for CCI M which stands for Certified commercial investment member in 2020 20 and 2021. And she is also recognized as one of the Women of Influence by the Silicon Valley Business Journal of 2021. And recently, she’s now also an author Helen has launched her new book titled power to change lives where she documents her journey full of obstacles as an immigrant from Hong Kong and Indonesia, coming to the United States alone without any family or financial support, and how she ultimately found success in the real estate industry. We are super excited and honored to have Helen on the show. By the way. Before we I officially introduced Helen please everyone visit her website which is halen group.com and halen is H A y le n group.com halen group.com Hello, and welcome to the show.

Helen Chong 4:14
Thank you so much. I’m so excited to start talking.

D.J. Paris 4:18
I am so excited to and I I really just love your energy. And I would love to start all the way back at the beginning of your journey into real estate. So can you talk a little bit about how you found real estate why and what that was like for you?

Helen Chong 4:35
Well, actually, I mean, most people, they don’t graduate from college and want to be in real estate, right? So I as an immigrant, I was a foreign student and I really needed a job that could sponsor me for a work visa. And I interviewed for so many different jobs and finally landed a company that was willing to sponsor me and and has a pretty good Title is called an analyst for a pension consulting firm in Santa Monica. And I got this beautiful ocean view right off of Ocean Boulevard. And I thought I got the dream job. So my job was to look at these institutions, pension portfolios, and then crunch all these numbers, see how they’re doing. But in about 2002, that’s when the tech bubble busted, right. So all of a sudden, I was looking at all these people pension funds portfolio, I was just like, Oh, my God, they lost so much money. And I was like, I thought, This is how people retire, retire, you know, relying on their pension funds. Right. And, you know, my, the things you mentioned earlier, I’m an immigrant, I came here, because I was trying to find that American dream, I was trying to find that, you know, the financial, sorry, the financial security, and so I don’t have to worry about that. And then also, this whole dream just busted, I was like, Oh, my God, this is not real. And so I figured that I need to figure something out, I need to find another kind of investments that has a little bit more control over because I don’t want to retire in the wrong year. And then the circle. So

D.J. Paris 6:12
this is this is a really important point. So just to make sure everyone here is on the same page, because Helen’s making a very, very important point, which is around, if we remember, if we were around at that time, I certainly was, in fact, I have a one, I have a letter from one of my best friends who is a financial advisor. And he’s very competent financial advisor, although I’m going to make him sound like he’s not. Because back in the late 90s, I, we had just both graduated college and I was looking to invest the little, tiny, tiny amount of money that I had, which was basically nothing. And he said, and I said, Well, I should ask my friend who is a financial advisor. And so he wrote me this letter, and I still have it today, which is like 1999. And he goes, we I want you to invest in these mutual funds, their tech mutual funds, they were up 180% Last year, so sky’s the limit. And, and of course, then the tech bubble burst in the early, early 2000s 2000 2001. And then the this is really what Helen’s talking about is had you would retire now my friend, by the way, was a young financial advisor. But this is what financial advisors were telling people back then it wasn’t that my friend was a, you know, dumb or incompetent. It’s what people were doing. And a lot of people who were retiring around that time really, you know, unfortunately, the saw their their, you know, their their assets cut, maybe in half, maybe more, because they were over, you know, they were sort of, you know, in that particular tech sector, too much of their assets were there. So I’m just wanted to catch everyone up, because what you just said is very, very important is if you retire at the wrong year in the market, it could have, you know, dramatically negative effects.

Helen Chong 7:56
Exactly, I had a little I met some guy, and because I was researching different types of investments. So I started going to these real estate investment seminar. And this guy, he was 65 years old, and and we started talking, he was like, Well, I was supposed to retire this year. But then now my retirement funds dropped down to only $150,000. So I need to figure something out. And he said, like, I wished I had gotten into real estate investment earlier on to protect myself. And in the back of my mind, I kept thinking it’s true, you know, if you invest into these stocks, you are giving your life savings away to these companies that you think they would know what they’re doing, right. But you have absolutely no control and no say into this whole thing. So, and I just started reading at the time, you know, just like a computer. And I remember I was printing all these articles online, especially foreclosures.com I read every word, and every creative strategies, and I’ve gone to different kinds of seminars, and I just fell in love with real estate. And the opportunity presented itself and I basically switch my occupation from you know, having having a very stable job to try to get into like commission earn commission with no stable, stable salary. I actually I was going to start working for another company. And I interviewed I got the job and the HR called me is like okay, you know, I’m gonna send you an acceptance letter. Are you going to take the job and I was like, I was like, I really want to try real estate if it doesn’t work, can I come back? And she was like, no. But I was like, Well, I gotta try if I if I don’t make it then I’ll look for another job then I feel like jobs will always be there. But if I don’t, you know have this leap of faith. I would never know if I can make it in real estate but it’s scary. Really scary.

D.J. Paris 9:51
It really scary because number one you’re not from here. You don’t have I’m guessing I shouldn’t speak for you but did you have a A sort of sphere of influence or people that you could work with when you when you started in real estate, or did you find that? No, I don’t have that. And was that a challenge?

Helen Chong 10:10
I did not have that at all. I mean, being here by myself. And it’s not like my parents had any kind of real estate experience back in Asia either. So I didn’t, I just knew I wanted to be in real estate, I don’t even know what you can do in real estate. I didn’t understand realtor or whatever. I just know. Okay, I was an analyst, I was good with numbers. And I saw this ad on newspaper, yes, on newspaper, and it says mortgage looking for mortgage broker. So I applied and I thought, I’m interviewing for a job, I was like, doing my best and they’re like, Okay, just come in and start working. I’m just like, okay, so I literally knew nothing about real estate when I first came in.

D.J. Paris 10:49
It’s amazing too, because I think as a mortgage broker, so much of that job is, is sort of sales focused, and those skills, it’s really a sales job, more than more than anything, but the beaten that you had a more traditional consultant style, finance background, a corporate background, looking at investments, you know, looking at, at at at, you know, balance sheets, and Ledger’s I suspect that made you very valuable on the mortgage side, because you could provide probably more insight than the average loan officer.

Helen Chong 11:25
I you will, you will think that, but then I really didn’t think it just because of the fact that I mean, at the time, we were doing all these subprime loans, right, it was back into that remember, around there. And so I was like, Oh, you don’t even need to prove your income, or, I mean, I was calling home telling my parents like people who don’t need to put down payment to buy a house. You don’t need to make a lot of money. I mean, I had, I had a little a client was a taxi driver, and back then he was looking for a million dollar property. And all we did was just like, How much money do you make? And he tells you a number, you write it down? How much money do you have in a bank account? Because you write it down? There was no verification of anything. It was just like that. Yeah, it

D.J. Paris 12:14
was a weird time. And there were interest only loans. And they were you know, there was just an arm. Yeah. And it was it was a it was the Wild West. And so So talk a little bit more about like SEO. So you’re in, you’re now a loan officer, you’re seeing these sort of unusual goings on with with lending and in the mid 2000s. And then what happens after that.

Helen Chong 12:40
So then, of course, I was really trying hard to do cold calling, I never looked at myself as a salesperson, you’re like he said, I’m more of a constant consulting type of person. So I was supposed to do a lot of cold calling. And it was just like really hard to get started. And nobody, none of my friends trusted me, right? Because they all knew that. I was not in real estate before. So I had a rough start, I really didn’t make much money. And then all of a sudden, the whole market collapsed. Just mortgage industry is all gone are the brokerage company that I was working for was gone. Then I started going into real estate investments, I was learning how to invest understanding. I mean, I became a professional student, in a way, I just kept going to listen and listen and listen. But you’ve got to do it right if you’re learning all these things. So finally, these are like, Well, if you want to join this boot camp, you need to pay $15,000. And like I didn’t have $15,000 I had a credit card, they’re like well increase your credit limit and go $50,000 boot camp, and well, I did I literally was shaking, and I was crying.

D.J. Paris 13:51
That is huge. You bet you that is a pivotal moment in somebody’s life. So you didn’t have the money. You’re obviously a responsible person, you’re not somebody that probably had other debt at all. And now you’re like, This is an investment. This is my tuition, but it is there is no guarantee. Whereas if you were to continue on through academia, and you know, there’s masters and then there’s doctorates and and there’s more of a predictable sort of thing, well, if I do that, then these opportunities open, you’re going blindly into something that you can’t afford with no guarantee. I think that takes tremendous courage. So I honor you for that decision. And I understand, I believe that I would not make that same decision because I do not have that kind of courage. So I really applaud you for taking that step. Well, at

Helen Chong 14:37
the time, you probably I was thinking like, Am I one of those people who got fooled into this whole thing, right? Yeah. And honestly, I have nothing else to fall back on. If I if everything goes south. I don’t have a home to go back to I have to literally fly back to Asia. Right and that’s it. So I told the person who took my credit card I was like, this better be the moment that changed my life. And he was like, just follow what we teach you. And it will add, I’m like, okay, so it did it did change my life. I mean, it’s not just like that. But the knowledge and the experience, I’ve learned, I started investing, then I pick because I started investing, I have more people coming to me saying, Oh, can you help me to look at properties now. And that’s how I switch from a mortgage broker to investor and then to become a realtor.

D.J. Paris 15:29
It’s an incredible story. I just love the fact that you bet on yourself, and so many successful agents that I’ve spoken to and even people in other industries that are successful, or we consider to be leaders oftentimes have that moment where they bet on themselves. And it usually logically looks like a maybe a bad decision in that moment, like, oh, no, this might not work. And here you are. And everything sort of moved forward from that really difficult decision. So I hopefully that’s inspiring to our audience, that sometimes, not sometimes betting on yourself is probably the only the only person that’s ever going to bet IDEO, predictably could be you. And if you’re lucky, other people bet on you as well. But you have to take that first step. And so let’s talk about that. So you started, you basically went to school, you went to school to learn how to be the in real estate invest investments, and then you were able to take that knowledge, and then bring that to other people. And then other people were finding you, did you find that that that you see your role more as an educator, more versus a, I’m going to help you win this home, I sort of believe that you have just so much knowledge, curious how you see your role when you are working with clients,

Helen Chong 16:48
I definitely feel myself as an educator, I never looked at myself as a salesperson, I don’t know how to sell, I will say I don’t know how to sell, I cannot convince you, besides telling you the information and let you absorb it and then guide you through this, you know, all this information is funny, we we sometimes tell our clients, we tell them more no than yes, it’s like don’t buy this, you know, don’t go for this. Because we I mean, this is really our philosophy and also our, our goal within our company. We are saying like we are not here to sell our clients, we’re here to educate them, and then help them to make the right decision. So it’s it’s really an again, with that whole I’m sorry, my, my Siri kept turning is I know why? Because when I whenever I say seriously, it will turn Yeah.

D.J. Paris 17:45
Same thing happens to me when I say that same word, which I’m not going to say because it would activate it on my side. Anyone with an Apple computer knows this most this problem.

Helen Chong 17:56
Sorry about that. So but I think like there are a lot of for somebody who wants to be in the real estate industry is not just about sells, we have to remind ourselves that this is the biggest purchase for most people in this world. And we need to educate them, help them to guide them through that more of a focus. Because we know that real estate, we can make a lot of money. And that’s what clouds our judgment when we help our clients.

D.J. Paris 18:22
I yeah, I agree. I appreciate you saying that. And so you went on to do your own investments, working with other investors as well. Oh, can we just clear up a dispel a myth? For our audience who maybe is thinking, Well, I don’t know any investors, even if I had all of the knowledge of what kind of deals to look for? And how to evaluate properties, whether they’re a good investment or not. I don’t know anybody who has a lot of this cash sitting around to buy these properties. And I putting words in your mouth, and I shouldn’t. But is it? Has it been your experience that it’s hard to find the harder to find investors? Or is it harder to find opportunities for investors?

Helen Chong 19:04
I always say it’s much harder to find an opportunity finding the deal. If you find the deals, somehow investors will just appear in front of you. You won’t even know it’s crazy. How easy to find investors and money.

D.J. Paris 19:20
Yeah, yeah, that seems to be what I what I heard from from, you know, realtors that that do invest or work with investors is finding the deal is is the is the hard part. And you’re right, like almost by almost like moths to a flame. They somehow find you when you have these opportunities. So what I don’t want to do is spend time really talking about how to find investment opportunities because, gosh, there’s a million other podcasts out there that focus exclusively on that sort of education. Although I do recommend for anyone that is interested in getting more knowledge about how to invest BiggerPockets is probably the premier resource for agents to kind of just get a sense of how investors talk and how they think it’s a great Place biggerpockets.com. We’re big fans, they’ve been on our show as well. But you have written a book. And I don’t want to take more time to get because you’re already a superstar. We’ve already talked at the beginning about all these amazing accolades and awards, and you’re a top agent on the residential and the commercial side. I want to talk about your book, because this is really taking your knowledge to the next level. And really now saying, I want to give back, you know, and oftentimes people I think, always forget, people don’t really make a lot of money writing books, right. So this is not a way in which you know, we’re not here to sell books so that you can make a couple of dollars on each book, although that’s awesome, too. But the fact that you thought enough to say I want to contribute and give back and send my knowledge out, I think is so important. So let’s talk about your book. Why did you write it? It’s called power to change lives, by the way available on Amazon. If you go into the show notes for this episode, you will see a link right to the book, and I encourage everyone to pick it up. But let’s talk about what is the power to change lives. And why did you write it?

Helen Chong 21:06
Well, so I wrote this book, honestly, in the beginning was because I really want to document my journey for my kids to know in the future and something that they can go back and say, Oh, this is what my mom did and and how she came here from with nothing. But also another way to explain how real estate I’ve changed my life. And at the end of the day, as I was writing this book, I realized that real estate is about homes. And that’s what we feel the most comfortable with home a structure. But home doesn’t it’s not just a physical structure is really the feeling of being feel like Oh, I feel secured the peace and stability, everything, right. And that’s what we want to provide for ourselves and for our children, our family. And my journey was feeling like I had a great home, and then how I lost everything, and then coming to this new country. And then also I need to find my footing, where everyone was telling me like, oh, gosh, you’re Asian, you know, you will never succeed in America. Oh, you’re a woman? Oh, gosh, you can never do well, and real estate or commercial real estate. Oh, you’re a mom? No, do you know how much time it takes to be a mom, you can never you know, it’s okay, just take time off? Why can you just not work? You know, don’t be don’t ask for so much. Because your mom is constantly telling you that because of my categorization immigrant minority a woman or a mom, or you can’t be successful anymore. So I the my title is power to change lives speakers, basically saying like we we ourselves have the power to change our lives. And there are a lot of mines that a lot of struggle people only see like, wow, this is where you are now you must have come easy, you know, things must have been handed to you. But see the journey. They don’t see how hard it is. And it’s not just like, oh, you know, I pay that $15,000 Check. The next day my life changed, it still took years of struggle, and heartache and pain and kind of documented a lot of these journey a lot of people would would go through. And then at the end, how you use all of that obstacles and leverage it and then put it into along with your education that you learn and change your life and to become successful. And the but then I wanted to be very clear about what successful means though, successful, some people meaning it’s like how much money do you make, but I think it’s more important is about how happy you are where you are, is not like everyone has to make a million dollar to be happy, you can make $100,000 Only and you’re happy so is how to make your life happy doing something that you love and still enjoy your family time and your professional time. Whatever you want.

D.J. Paris 23:51
There is no sadder feeling I think then having something achieving something that’s a tangible goal maybe it’s a financial goal or some sort of life goal that that you think if only I had that then the happiness is going to come rolling in. And and I really hope that everyone listening doesn’t have this experience in their future but I have certainly had it where I hit some goal that I wanted to accomplish and I thought that’s going to equal happiness once I achieve X that I will be happy and I remember achieving x and it being one of the saddest days of my life because and then I went oh I’m actually sad because I didn’t have another thing to sort of do after that I thought oh well now what now what and and it made me feel very sad because I had put all of my happiness into this this one thing that was over and so I think you’re right I think this idea that well if I made you know X amount of money I be that that’s what happiness and yes, it certainly can help make things more comfortable and open up opportunities. But I think you’re right I think the striving for happiness and I think it is really the goal. And I think in real estate, we’re really lucky in that we, we sort of deal and happiness, certain sometimes right with, especially with people’s primary residences, or in your case, also educating clients about investment opportunities so that if the market does go down 150, you know, percent next year and you’re retiring, maybe you have some income producing properties that are going to keep income rolling in, which of course, you know, just helps everyone’s financial, you know, obligations to end goals that they want to hit. But let’s go ahead, I’m sorry.

Helen Chong 25:38
Oh, so no, I mean, I kind of want to make a point is that, you know, I always hear people’s like, oh, we this is how much money we have made this year. Oh, this is how many deals we’ve made this year. It’s so much we’ve focusing on the number that we put on ourselves and to compare with each other, then, you know, I, I don’t really like to put all these numbers out there, because I just don’t feel like this represent success or represent happiness. So I’m trying to make kind of like defining is like, yes, we do need some kind of financial security. But it’s more like the sense of security, sense of happiness and stability. That’s what we are all striving for.

D.J. Paris 26:22
How much of your happiness or fulfillment do you derive from contribution from being able to say, you know, I helped somebody make certain decisions around real estate or other areas of their life? Is that a critical part of your own happiness?

Helen Chong 26:42
I think that’s a big part of my happiness in this job and what I’m doing anyone you talk to, in real estate, whoever’s done it, they will tell you is hard. Right? You initially you work 6080 hours a week, and you’re like, I’m not making money, and how are you going to be really feeling the happiness, it’s like, when they fall down, they close the deal. It’s like, Oh, my God, this is my first home. And then also that I have this images of the kids like, Oh, my God, this is the memories they’re gonna have until they grow older. Right? When they’re at my age, they’re gonna always remember this house. That’s the happiness you get from that. But if I constant focus on this deal, how much money am I going to make? And then counting it every time? I’m, I have a client, that’s going to drive me crazy.

D.J. Paris 27:27
Yeah, yeah. But yeah, I appreciate your insight into that, because that just makes a lot of sense. And I think it’s a nice thing, especially in right now, the market is so challenging for buyers, in particular, of course, understanding that that, you know, throughout all of the frustration, what you’re really trying to do is help somebody build memories, like you were saying, and have wonderful memories. And you know, that maybe that’ll keep you keep the engine going a little bit longer. While you’re waiting for these opportunities to open up. Let’s, I would love to talk about commercial because we do get an apologize. I’m going to ask you a question. But I’m going to ask you to hold the answer while I read a do a sponsor read for our wonderful sponsor. But before I’ll let you know where I’m headed, I want to talk about commercial because there’s so many residential agents that listen to our show who we get this, these this feedback, this these emails and messages all the time saying, I’m wanting to dabble in commercial. And I’d love to get your thoughts about how a residential agent who wants to expand their skill set and maybe learn about commercial maybe added into their business, whether they should do that, and then maybe some steps about how they could start you know, taking that journey. But before we get to that, I want to just do a quick live read for our wonderful, amazing sponsor follow up boss. So this is one of our favorite tech companies in the real estate space now. I’ve interviewed over oh gosh, I think we’ve done almost 400 episodes now of this show. Hundreds and hundreds of top Realtors from all over the country like Helen and do you know which CRM is actually used by more than any of our guests of course it is follow up boss and let’s face it following up is the key to taking your business to the next level follow up boss will help you drive more leads in less time and with less effort. Do not take my word for it. Robert slack who runs the number one team in the United States runs us his follow up boss and he’s built one and a half billion dollars of business in just six years. Follow up boss also integrates with over 250 different systems so you can keep your current tools your lead sources your your other systems can all integrate together and the best part follow up boss has a seven day a week support so you will get the help when you need it. Especially on the weekends when we know so often real estate happens and get this follow up boss is so sure you’re gonna love their CRM that for a limited time they’re offering keeping it real listeners a 30 day free trial which is twice the amount of time that they give everyone else to test out their products. No credit card required. That’s how confident they are, you’re going to love their system. It’s totally risk free, but only if you visit this special link, please everyone visit, follow up boss.com forward slash real, can follow up boss.com forward slash real for your free 30 day trial. Follow up like a boss with follow up, boss. Okay, Helen, let’s talk about let’s talk about commercial. So what is your thoughts about a residential agent saying, I’d like to expand into commercial?

Helen Chong 30:28
Well, first of all, I don’t find it anything wrong with it, to expand into commercial as long as you are going to go back to the advising advisory role, right? Commercial, you have to be an advisor is not about emotion. Now, in residential, it is very emotional process, you probably do a lot more hand holding counseling and all that right. But the when you go to commercial is all about numbers very analytical, can you handle it and do like it? That’s the question not, I just find that you really require two very different type of personalities to handle residential and commercial real estate. And just somehow I am able to do that. And maybe I have some split personality, I don’t know. But is this I think both are very satisfying. And if you’re willing to learn the analytical side of the commercial rules of business, absolutely. But if you feel like you just have clients that you they, their interest in commercial just refer to a commercial real estate agent, if you don’t like numbers, because you cannot get away with numbers, you have to make sure your clients making the right investments decision,

D.J. Paris 31:38
that and also, the complexities of some of the lease options, the leases that are that deal with or the purchase, you know, by cells that happen on the commercial side in the different sectors, it’s it really is not as as cookie cutter as residential, which we all agree there’s a certain types of forms that we all use and certain understandings and agreements that are all pretty consistent. On the commercial side. It’s really kind of could be anything and everything in it. And can you talk about the complexities of that and how you navigate through some of that.

Helen Chong 32:18
So commercial real estate, we’re just generalizing it right. But then there’s multifamily sector, industrial retail office, and then land or redevelopment. And then like you said, their leasing. Leasing is a huge business out there. However, it doesn’t mean that everyone is good at it. I’m not good at everything. I’m more multifamily person. I love doing my 10 year analysis, cash flow analysis and all that stuff to look at multifamily investments. I do work on some of these investment property in terms of retail and office but those are not my bread and butter work right. And leasing is a complete complete different animal like leasing, it requires a lot more negotiation, and every landlord every tenant has different needs. So I wouldn’t say like just anyone just because you’re in commercial roles that you should do it like I just don’t touch leasing because I’m I don’t think I’m good at it. So I won’t touch leasing.

D.J. Paris 33:14
And I think to your point about the fact that you’re specialized on the multifamily side is probably the closest to residential out of all the commercial opportunities. So for agents that are traditional residential brokers or Realtors we in Illinois, we call everyone a broker. So I apologize if I say that word incorrectly for people in other states, but it will just say realtor for traditional residential realtor going into multifamily is probably the easiest transition because they are most similar to residential and

Helen Chong 33:46
color, but it’s also vastly different. One to four units and five plus units the way we value it completely different. It’s just like, I have done a quite a few workshops, teaching residential agents, how to, you know, the differences between residential real estate and commercial real estate? How do we analyze each one is just different ballgame.

D.J. Paris 34:09
Yeah. I’m curious too, because I was just at the Zillow conference, and we were they were talking about the millennials and the Gen Z market place that are sorry, the the, the just that the millennials and Gen Z’s are now getting into the buying space. So they’re, they’ve grown up they now have some of them have have assets where they can now contribute into real estate and trying to figure out they were what trends that millennials and Gen Z’s what are they looking for and house hacking came up and I know, we don’t need to get too narrow of our focus. But I would say that if they Zillow was saying, if an agent isn’t really up on what house hacking is and how to talk about it elegantly, and at least intelligently. Gen Z’s are going to start running circles around you because that this is what they’re paying attention to. And I’m curious, you know, since you play in the multifamily space, if you’re seeing more of a trend towards younger people starting to want to explore these opportunities,

Helen Chong 35:11
definitely. And it’s kind of funny when I first heard about House hacking, I was like, What the heck is that? Yeah, me too. And then, when I started learning about it, I was like, oh, okay, so it’s basically you just renting out rooms, right? And in a house, and then you try. Now there’s good and bad. I mean, good is that of course, you can get a lot of great passive income, but then you also meaning that you do you have multiple tenants and a house doesn’t mean that you only have one tenant, you are dealing with multiple tenants. And so you have to comply with the rental laws. And then also, sometimes when you cut up a house too many times you actually depreciate that house value. So it’s a little I mean, it’s great passive income. But I think there’s a little bit more than just passive income, you have to think about the future Valley and but on the other hand multifamily, the way it’s like you can I have written articles on Forbes talking about how do you create a million dollar equity in a flipping I’m sorry, flipping and multifamily and create a million dollar equity without without selling it, you can still get cashflow from this building. And so I love multifamily, there’s just so many ways to play around it. And you can flip it without selling it and still get cashflow while you’re remodeling it. So

D.J. Paris 36:27
it creates a lot of opportunity to because now you have leasing opportunities to secure to secure tenants, if you’re going to keep it and use it as income, you have opportunities to do property management, or to outsource all of these. And there’s there’s a lot of revenue streams that come from multifamily that are maybe not as obvious. And so for anyone out there that is sort of interested in spending, you know, some time to get more familiar with how, you know, the multifamily sort of side works, where do you sort of suggest they start to get a little bit of education so they can decide if they want to pursue it further?

Helen Chong 37:08
Well, I know that a lot of association realtors, they offer these like basic multifamily classes. And I’m part of CCM, which is certified commercial investment member organization is an educational platform. And we do have foundation class where you can go in and start learning about these basic analysis. For me, personally, I took that first class foundation class for two days, I like fell in love with all these numbers and spreadsheets. And then so I just went on and kept taking these classes afterwards. And I can tell you just with one of these classes we call ci 101. I’ve been using just that one classes information for all of my multifamily clients, and everyone who look at the analysis was like blown away, it’s like holy cow, this is like so in depth analysis, you can see predict for the next 10 years where it goes. Do it on my own property, I do all of my multifamily transactions for our clients. So definitely check us the siam.com they have a lot of great educational classes for commercial real estate or multifamily.

D.J. Paris 38:15
Yeah, and that’s, that’s wonderful. And I also wanted to ask you, because you have your own firm, you aren’t working for one of the large franchise firms or, you know, on the residential or the commercial side. And I’m curious on on how was, you know, that’s also another amazing achievement of yours is not just being a successful agent, having successful investor relationships and having successful investments of your own. It’s also Oh, yeah, by the way, I run a business. And can you talk a little bit about, about that, and, and just, you know, how you were able to thrive? Again, without sort of a traditional backing of either Well, I grew up here, and I just know a lot of people which you didn’t, or I worked for a company that’s very sort of well known and that you didn’t have either. So can you talk a little bit about how you built your business?

Helen Chong 39:04
Yeah, you know, I think it goes back to what we talked about earlier, it’s all about education. I love educating our clients, I love taking classes, I feel like the you know, it’s too easy to get into real estate, right, getting your license, like anyone can get licensed, you can pass a test and that’s it. But we forget that there’s so much more we can learn after that. So I focus a lot of post license education, and I’m like a sponge afterwards. I just learned learn and then I digest it and then I teach to my clients. So until now, for example, I still do my month I do my monthly housing market townhall, you know, just to educate people regarding our housing market and some kind of cost segregation or anything right from real estate experts, because while I’m interviewing them, I’m also learning so That’s literally how I built my business is because people see that I just love talking real estate And I’m just so focused on that they see my passion. So I was able to build the business without needing I always believe that my clients come with me not because of my company name, doesn’t matter who I’m with, they will always follow me wherever I go. So it’s important for me that when I started my company halen group, about 10 to 12 years ago, I said that my hailing group is going to be focusing on building real estate portfolio for my client, and where I’m gonna be focusing on education and advisory, not cells. And although three, four years ago, I actually plugged myself under this brokerage because I was so tired of like looking for new technology all the time. So, side side, Inc, is a white label broker brokerage, who provided me with like technology platform, and also marketing platforms, and also their legal support, you know, having a broker. So now I don’t have to worry about any of that I have someone else to take care of that for me. But I can now focus a lot more on training my agents and also helping our clients to make sure that they get the best out of both worlds. It’s like these big brokerage platforms, technology and marketing, and also my personalized, you know, advisory role with them to work with them. One on one, so yeah,

D.J. Paris 41:25
well, I am so impressed. And I love the fact that for you, you attribute so much of your success to being an educator, we talked about that at the beginning, I said, I’m curious how you see yourself as a consultant or an educator, and you said, Oh, my gosh, that’s, that’s me. And that’s what I do. And that’s your competitive advantage, right? Because you’re right, anyone can get a license. It’s not. It’s a moderately challenging tests that that people all sorts of people can pass. And then it’s like, okay, so now I know I have a license. Now, how do I add value, and you have somebody who was not handed a whole lot of opportunities, you had to go out and find those opportunities. And you did that by earning them through through education. So I and being somebody who educates so learning and then teaching, and I think that if that’s nothing else, if you get nothing else out of this conversation, which I know you did get a lot out not not Helen, of course, but our listeners think about it as being an educator and you clients are always in need of education. It’s the one thing that AI is probably not in, we’re not in tremendous danger of AI replacing is is education. Yes, people can learn things online, but emotional intelligence, having somebody really guide you through the the, the the entirety of a process, especially the ups and downs, that hasn’t machines haven’t figured out how to do that. And hopefully,

Helen Chong 42:56
I do want to touch on something if I have a lot of time to say yes, please. I told you, if I talk about real estate, I can talk forever. As you touch on the exactly right about AI, like we were so fearful of this AI is gonna take over real estate, right. But then our clients still coming to us for advice. You know, I always I tell my kids to Yeah, you know, you need to learn how to code. But you know, one thing that robots can never take away from you, is your mind. Mindset is what you’re saying, you know, what you’re, you’re the education and can share from your brain. Robots cannot take that from you. And the creativity part is also is really important. And if we say that we we don’t like how people look down on us as a realtor, because real estate industry has such a bad name, then we better educate ourselves and become a consultant instead of just focusing on sales.

D.J. Paris 43:48
Boy, I’d love to say I can say it better, but I can’t because you just said it perfectly. Being an educator, a consultant is always going to be valued. And so Helen just said that. So what a wonderful way to end our conversation. I want to remind everybody Helen has a book that I want you all to go purchase. It is called power to change lives. It is available on Amazon and anywhere. Books are available power to change lives again, Helen Chang also please visit her website. And by the way, if you have investors in your life, guess what investors don’t always just look for opportunities in where you work, right? They look for opportunities all over specially passive income opportunities. That’s sort of Helen’s specialty, while not just passive income opportunities, but any sort of real estate investment opportunities, but they also look they also want to know what’s going on in other markets. So if you have a clients that are looking for investment opportunities, Helen would love to have a conversation and her team she has a wonderful team that can chat with them as well. Or if you have a referral maybe somebody’s moving to the San Jose area and is looking to work with the top real estate team. Obviously Helen and her team would love to chat with you, they’re one of the very highest producing teams in all of that area. But what’s the obviously you can visit her on her website, which is halen group.com H A YLEN. Group. Helen, is there another way that any one of our listeners can reach out to you if they have something they’d like you to review?

Helen Chong 45:17
Well, I’m on Facebook, I’m on LinkedIn, just look me up, Helen Chung halen group, kind of, it will be hard not to be able to find me.

D.J. Paris 45:26
Well, Helen is a working mother, a business owner, and an investor, as well as an author, and, and just an overall superstar in this industry. And we are so grateful that you were to spend time with us because I know how busy that you are. And we appreciate you taking some time to chat with our audience. We want to thank on behalf of the audience thank Helen for her time. Also, on behalf of Helen and myself, we want to thank our audience for continuing to show up listen to our episodes. And of course, we ask that you just do one thing, tell a friend, please think of one other real estate professional that could benefit from having hearing this really motivating and encouraging story from Helen. And send them a link to our website, which is keeping it real pod.com Or just have them pull up a podcast app search for keeping it real and hit that subscribe button. The more people you tell the more people we can help. And we appreciate that. So Helen, thank you so much for being on our show. We’re really had a wonderful time. And we will see everybody on the next episode. Thanks.

Helen Chong 46:26
Thank you so much for having me.

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