Why College Housing Has Amazing Real Estate Investment Returns • Carol Horsford

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Carol Horsford from Farnam Group in New Haven is the most successful real estate agent in Connecticut with respect to leasing. In our conversation Carol shares why she focuses a majority of her business in college housing. She also explains how college housing has changed in the last decade and why this has now become an incredible investment opportunity. Carol emphasizes the importance of never giving up and how to be determined as an agent to achieve success.

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

Carol Horsford can be reached at 203-671-1961.


D.J. Paris 0:00
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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 am your guide and host through the show. And today in just a moment, we’re going to be speaking with Carol Horsford from Connecticut. But before we get to Carol, I wanted to remind everyone of two quick things that we ask all of our listeners to do. We very much appreciate this. By the way. Number one, please tell a friend think of one other realtor that could benefit from hearing these interviews with top 1% producers from all over the country and send them a link to our podcast, you can always send them directly to our website where they can stream every episode we’ve ever done. They don’t need a podcast app, they can do it right there, which is keeping it real pod.com Obviously, you could always have them pull up any podcast app and search for keeping it real podcast. They’ll find us there too. But keeping it real pod.com Is is there and it also we put all the videos there as well for all of our interviews. And the second thing we ask everyone to do is please follow us on Facebook find us@facebook.com forward slash keeping it real pod every day we post an article that we find online it’s written specifically to help you grow your business. We post it there and also of course links to all of our interviews. So please again find us on Facebook facebook.com forward slash keeping it real pod and now on to our interview with Carol Horsford.

Okay, today on the show we have Carol Horsford from a Farnham group in New Haven, Connecticut. Let me tell you a little bit about Carol’s waving. So thank you. Carol originally was working in New York City and luxury goods and marketing. And she has been in the real estate industry in New Haven, Connecticut since 2007. She started her own brokerage in 2012. She specializes in property management and investment sales. And most impressively to us. She is the number one rental agency in the state of Connecticut. Please visit Carol at Farnham group that’s F AR n a m group.com. Carol, welcome to the show.

Carol Horsford 3:15
Thanks for having me.

D.J. Paris 3:17
We’re really excited to have you. I was telling Carol, prior to us getting on board that I have been to New Haven and I’ve eaten the famous. I forgot Pepe, pet bass pizza. And I really enjoyed my time in New Haven. But I only have been there a couple of days total. So I should next time I’m around that area. I’m gonna swing by and go get some more pizza, I

Carol Horsford 3:39
think. But yeah, I’d love to meet you in person.

D.J. Paris 3:43
Yeah, that would be fun. Well, thanks. Thanks for being on the show. You are you have the number one rental agency in all of Connecticut, which is huge. I would like to go all the way back to the beginning of your real estate career, because you’ve really you’ve been in business for some time, but you’ve had incredible success in that time. And so I’d love to go all the way back to the beginning. Tell us how you got involved in real estate.

Carol Horsford 4:06
Okay, so I’m from New Haven, my dad went to Yale, and I was working in New York City, and I got married and I quit my job in New York and moved back to New Haven and I grew up in this big house that was called the Farnum house, which is why I named the company, the Farnum group, because the firearms actually built the house I grew up in when they donated their house, which is now the Yale University President’s mansion on Hill House. So Farnum to me is like a classic New Haven name. And it’s and and there’s several streets named Farnum. And there’s like a Farnum Neighborhood House so I really wanted to brand something that was New Haven and that was home right? So I grew up in the Farnham house. So

D.J. Paris 4:54
that’s near and dear to your heart. So you grew up in the house that is now the president’s house. House.

Carol Horsford 5:01
They gave that mansion to the to the President and built the house I grew up in in 1934. It was Yeah, Douglas or architecture. So here’s the story about how I got into it. When I got married and moved back to New Haven in 2007. My mom had turned the big house into a b&b. Sure, so a bed and breakfast. And there was this rabbi who lived down the street who had six kids. And one day a baby got loose, one of his sons got loose and just like walk down the street. And we rescued him and brought him inside immediately called the cops. We didn’t know any neighbors with kids. And then he drove down the street and a Range Rover saying, Did anybody see your baby? And of course, we had him. So he came in and was like, Hey, you worked in New York City, you know, I own this large property management company, come come work for me. So we had brunch the next day. And he hired me that Monday, and that was that was it. He paid for me to get my real estate license. And his portfolio. A lot of it was right around Yale University. So I sort of became a specialist in college housing. And we were able to at that time, he had 500 units, we grew it up to 1200 units. And then I said, well, listen, if I can do it for someone else, I can do it for myself. So that’s when I left and started my own business.

D.J. Paris 6:28
Wow. And you have a number of agents working for you. Now you have a large number of agents. And we should say before I forget that if anyone is in the New Haven area that is looking for a new firm to work with as an agent, reach out to Farnham, they have unbelievable success. And you, you get trained and coached by by, you know, by Carol and other members of their staff. So definitely, definitely reach out. But yeah, tell you know, we were talking offline about about college housing, and how that is been really, really important to you, and how you’ve seen sort of that trending up recently. And you had some really interesting thoughts about it, which makes perfect sense logically, but I’ll bet you the vast majority of our listeners, you know, and I’m, I’m as dumb as anybody. But as soon as you explained that, to me, it made so much sense. So I’d love for you to talk about why you think college housing is a great investment these days, and why that’s really helped your business.

Carol Horsford 7:23
Okay, so I’m working at this company, which really specialized in property management, the way to make money in real estate is to find a an investment property, multiple units, fix the unit’s up, re rent them for the maximum that you can and then refinance, right. So working in this other company, I really learned how to do that. So when I started my own company, it was like, let’s search for off market deals the closest to the university possible because the the undergraduate students want to live the closer to campus. So and undergraduates will pay more money for brand new renovated apartments. So the old idea of the frat house, the animal house, you know, Baluchi movie that’s over, people don’t really want to live like that. And even in the, in the 10 plus years, I’ve been in the business, it’s really changed. So I’m, the the students, the undergrad students, their parents want to clean place they want to air condition, they want microwaves no more like, you know, Animal House. So yeah, you know, nationwide, also, college housing has gotten a lot of places invest, you know, a lot of investors, it’s gotten bigger and bigger. Virginia, Minnesota, Wisconsin, because of the new trend where the undergrads want to live in really nice places. Dollars are coming in the value added products are going up. And that’s and that’s how you make money. So I sort of created this niche industry were one because I saw so many apartments in the city of New Haven, I knew how to value each apartment. And then if you can value the apartment and sell someone a building and hit the exact rent that you said, you would get, you earn trust of the client, and then they’ll do repeat repeated, well just keep repeating. So

D.J. Paris 9:15
and because the parents are likely footing the bill, there’s probably not a lot of negotiation. It sort of is it kind of is what it is. And it probably makes renting it really a lot easier,

Carol Horsford 9:25
I would think agree. So there’s there’s a difference between like group housing where you can you want to live with nine of your friends in a in a house? Sure. And there’s like the one bedroom apartments or two bedrooms. So also as Yale has gotten bigger, they’ve opened new colleges people still want to live off campus because then they can control what they eat, they can control who they live with and their friends. Sure. So um, the the niche so I also sell a lot of commercial buildings or multifamily residential units, you know, six and up And it’s really a specialty niche, and I have a great team that works with me. But to keep the landlords happy, you got to keep the apartments full. So we do a, we pre lease everything. Right.

D.J. Paris 10:12
So if you, you know, you know the end date, yeah,

Carol Horsford 10:16
we know when they’re graduated, we know right moving on. So then you you pre leased the apartments three months in advance. So there’s really no vacancy.

D.J. Paris 10:24
That’s amazing.

Carol Horsford 10:25
So we manage 600 apartments. And like, right now in our stabilized portfolio, we have like three vacant apartments, even during COVID. So we hustle, we work really hard to keep the landlords full. And if they’re full, they’re collecting the wrong and it keeps them happy. And then the circle just keeps going. We saw the buildings, they make more money, the rental agents make more money, the sales agent make more money, and we and we just have grown. So when I started the company, I had 25 units under management. Now we have over 600.

D.J. Paris 10:57
Unbelievable, that’s incredible. And so and as far as so the one of the questions that that maybe our listeners might have at this point is okay, how do you find these opportunities for let’s say, investment purposes? I’m guessing a lot of these buildings, maybe don’t hit the MLS? Or how are you sourcing? You know, how are you finding these sellers.

Carol Horsford 11:18
So networking, like 100% networking, and a lot of just cold calling. So in 2012, before the market really started to pop, because things got, you know, much more expensive. So a unit, you know, if there was a three family house 50k A door 150 to 200,000, it was a deal. Now the same house is trading for 200 at door in 2020. So the market has really gone up, and it’s super stable, because if you get into Yale, or you’re working at Yale, you’re gonna have good credit and you’re gonna pay your rent. So very, very safe environment, you know, place a place to put your money, but mostly cold calling center you centers never. That’s how you get the

D.J. Paris 12:05
that’s true. I just stepped all over what Carol just said. She said never giving up. But but as far as cold calling, so a lot of our listeners, so so we have this at our firm. So we have about 700 agents, we’re in Chicago, and a lot of so we have all these property management companies who have high rises who send us their inventory, they don’t list on the MLS, but we have they send us that we they call them in Chicago hot sheets, basically, it’s their availability, and they send it to us on a regular basis, we put it in a database fine. But what we try to teach our agents to do is to go get their own inventory. So in a way, a lot of times we’re like, Well, how do you do that? And same for your case, where how do you find buildings to do to purchase? You see a for rent sign and a phone number? That’s a phone call, right? I’m guessing that’s a lot of how you do it.

Carol Horsford 12:49
I think it’s like determination just sheer will and chutzpah right, just you just never give up like even today, we have been calling this guy we looked at a seven unit off market building today. There was this is a first there was grass growing out of the second floor grass was never seen it. But like landlords keep a building vacant five years, 10 years, 20 years, and then all of a sudden, they’re like, You know what? This girl has been calling me for three years. Let me call her back. So you, you say here’s the offer. And you you pay cash, and you close quickly, that’s really how to get the clients great deal. And I think you know, my my clients, I started with a few and then I build them each up. So my gold level clients each have like 50 units or plus, right? And it’s also about who you want to do business with. Right? Everybody wants to do business with people they want to do business with. But if you’ve got the deals, everybody wants to do business with you.

D.J. Paris 13:52
Yeah, and since you’re dealing with on the rental side since you’re dealing I would imagine a good percentage of the tenants are students who are probably the rents being paid by their families, you probably deal just with a lot less issues in general with respect to paying rent and I know where I went to college and this I don’t know if this you have to tell me if this is still a thing. I went to school in Ohio and a little at a college at a little college but college called Miami University and we we had the the the Animal House houses where they were all there and you either were in a fraternity house which was disgusting, or you were in an off campus house with eight or nine people crammed into four bedrooms with you know, and it was disgusting to but we had to pre pay our rent. I’m pretty sure our parents had to prepay six months or I can’t remember what it was because I didn’t take care of it. Thankfully I was lucky enough to not have to but I am does that still go on or is or is it is it more?

Carol Horsford 14:50
We use a technology, the platform. Everybody pays rent online. You can pay rent, cash credit card check every thing is on, like maintenance requests, online lease signing when they apply for apartment. So the technology has gotten so much better that everything moves faster and everything is transparent for you, the property manager for the tenant for the tenants, parents, for the owner, you could everybody sees everything. So I think that’s take that’s really, you know, helped. You know, people want to rent from us. And we also, you know, one of the reasons I started my own business was because I wanted to provide better customer service. And the landlord is always going to be the bad guy kind, of course. So I’m, the property manager is trying to be the good guy for the landlord and the good guy for the tenant. So we’re always looking for win wins, how can we get win win, right? Because it’s a normal, kind of an adversarial relationship. So the property manager is right in the middle. And a lot of I think the trend in property management is changing too. From like the mom and pop, who owned a 20 unit building who did it themselves to the new buyer definitely does not want to roll up their sleeves and get their, their hands dirty. So they hire a property management company.

D.J. Paris 16:07
Right, they don’t want the 2am phone calls for the fact that furnace went out and, and and now thankfully, you know, we live in a global economy and gig economy and you can hire people from all over the world to take those 2am phone calls. And you know, I know at our company, we I am in charge of recruiting realtors to work here I have six cold callers from not from the United States from the Philippines who call every realtor and in Chicago like you guys are calling all the all the property owners and the buildings you want and trying to get them interested, we do the same thing. But if we were to we tried to hire people locally here to do that for years and years and years and just struggled and really had a hard time finding people that could do the work and and now we’ve outsourced that. And just technology and the technology in our case is you know, they can call from wherever it’s all systemized, systematized. And it works and, and in property management, we have a property management division at our company as well. And that’s all systematized as well. And thank goodness. So but we’ve always backed to rentals, we’ve told all of our agents, the best thing that you can do if you’re looking for rental, so we have this massive database of all these big high rises that send us their inventory that agents can rent out. And that’s great. And I imagine you guys have that in New Haven as well to some degree. But what we’ve told agents is you have to find landlords and property managers who are just tired of renting out their own units. And that’s another thing. I don’t know if if I know you guys are looking more on the investment side, but also on the rental side. Do you ever first start out renting for the landlord? And then eventually, you know, buy the building? Or does that ever happen?

Carol Horsford 17:46
100% I think it’s all based on relationship and the way to a landlord’s heart is keeping their units full. Yeah, that’s like, you know, so in the beginning, agents don’t like Reynolds, right? It’s a lot of work. You have to do so much communication, you have to answer the tenants questions, you have to go back and forth, you have to sign the lease, you have to negotiate it and learn from the money isn’t there, right? The average apartment rental in New Haven is 1300. That agent is going to make half that right. Then they’ve got their split, depending on who runs the other side. So we try to run a lot of incentives. We love to co broke. We’re the exclusive agents for another large property management company. We don’t manage their stuff, but we’re their exclusive agents and they’ve got another 1200 units. So finding hungry agents is really hard. And that’s interesting to hear that you cold call, what’s the firm? What’s your firm’s name?

D.J. Paris 18:39
It’s called kale Realty kale, like the vegetable. So So there’s 44,000 realtors in Chicago. So we have 700, which I guess is a lot, but it’s a tiny percentage. And all we do, you know, so our value add not to do a commercial for us. Because, you know, that’s not my intention, but but we pay out really high commissions and have low fees. So So anyway, so we call and we say, here’s what we do, if you’re interested, let us know. But but there’s no way I could call 44,000 brokers, realtors, and you know, I have a team of people doing it. We were very soft and very hand very, you know, if somebody says not interested, we Oh, great. No problem. And we you know, but, but I know our owners are multi unit investor as well. He has about 30 properties, multi unit properties, anywhere from five to 20 units on average. And he has gotten the majority of his buildings he found by the things you were saying cold calling, cold walking, even going from building to building going, Hey, Are you the owner or you know, or mailers like you were saying as well and you just it’s just you just keep you know? Yes, you pound the pavement and eventually that owner goes you know, if it’s a mom and pop in particular, you know, we’re thinking of retiring and we don’t really know how to deal with this. But a lot of times it first starts at least in our case with Hey, you know what, I need some help renting a couple of my units. And that’s great too, because then our agents get to take advantage of that. Which I imagine for you’re grateful

Carol Horsford 19:59
establish trust, right? You gotta establish trust.

D.J. Paris 20:03
Yeah. So you’ve seen over your time, you’ve seen a lot of agents have success, you’ve probably also seen agents struggle. And I’m just curious, aside from determination, and we’ll which of course, is really the most important quality? Is there anything specific to doing rentals. So I will, I mean, I may actually rephrase it differently, I apologize. We have always told our agents get your own inventory, because there is sort of a shared and obviously, there’s the MLS, which is shared, then there’s these big management companies that don’t put their buildings on the MLS, but they work with every firm in town, they don’t really care. Anyone can rent out their stuff. And we say, go find those buildings that people don’t know about, and try to get those listings, because then you’re likely to have units, if you can convince the landlord or the owner to let you rent them that they’re probably not working with other agents. Or maybe they’re just going to try to rent it themselves as well. So we always tell our agents get your own inventory. And it’s not that challenging, if you’re willing to walk around and look for for rent signs and pick up the phone.

Carol Horsford 21:05
So it’s personality, right, in a small boutique firm. Yeah, I really hire personalities. If you’ve got a good personality, and you’re likeable, and you’re green, but you’ve got good spirit, I will train you. So a lot of the people I have with me, they’re like the homegrown stars, right? You start them, you prank you sit there, you answer all the questions. And that’s, it’s really an investment, right? Your broker invest time in you. And now we’re a little bit bigger. So we’ve got more team members. But I would say that it’s technology that can help you organize your book, right? Like there’s clothes, there’s property base, there’s Podio, there’s different software’s to help you get organized. I would also say save every contact, every person who ever calls you, tenant, potential buyer, save everybody, even if you don’t know their name, just put something in there. That’s how you build your book. texted back, get an email list, put it on Constant Contact Us the technology. be likable, don’t be afraid to have rejection, right. I hate rejection. But it’s like you got to put yourself out there. You want to make money? You got to put yourself out there.

D.J. Paris 22:21
Yeah, that’s true. And I’m curious too, since you guys have you have all these tenants. And maybe you know, I know, when I was in college, I think I moved every year, I don’t think I lived in the same place for the winter. So you have these tenants were at the end of their, their school year, they have to think about next year, and they probably have to make a decision that right around the end of the school year for the next school year, assuming they’re not yet graduating, you probably have all these built in additional rentals that you get to do outside of your own portfolio just because of the tenants moving right.

Carol Horsford 22:53
Yeah, you know, it’s interesting that because we manage the properties, and we really don’t want to lose any tenants, and it’s our job to renew and marketed change in New Haven, we really have our owners back. But we lose sales all the time to tenants who are like, Hey, I’m buying something. And we’re like, Oh, why don’t you use us, but we’re not marketing ourselves, because we feel like it’s a tiny conflict of infinite.

D.J. Paris 23:16
So if you said that, if you said to the tenant, hey, by the way, if you’re thinking of buying, oh, you feel like that may be doing a disservice to the ice, I got you

Carol Horsford 23:26
to the owner. Now, if we started an initiative that was like, Hey, we will help you find your place and get you out of your lease and make sure you don’t use lose a dime. And the landlord felt really good about the fact that Farnum was going to cover that rent. That’s all they care about. Sure, sure. Yeah. I mean, there’s a new business opportunity right there.

D.J. Paris 23:46
Yeah, yeah. And, and how often is it to where somebody’s family? You know, there’s a tenant, maybe the family is well to do and says, you know, instead of paying this rent, why don’t we find you an investment property? Does that ever happen where it

Carol Horsford 24:00
definitely happens? Yeah, I sold a house. A boarding house, like it was a single family house and the family bought it turned it into a boarding house, an illegal boarding house, and now it’s rented to a sorority, so like the kid lived there for a little bit, did the project and then we rented it and now it’s for sale again. So yeah, definitely. There’s there’s there’s a ton of business, it’s just like you have to be awake 24 hours to be able to capitalize on it. Got to find good assistants. Sometimes it’s like better to be a little bit smaller than it is to get every single you know, work every single piece of business, but it’s also personality based. And you just got to be driven right? Every day you wake up and I love it. I mean, I’m super lucky that I found something that I’m super passionate about that literally fell into my lap.

D.J. Paris 24:48
You Yeah, was it? What would you say a baby crawling down the street? Can you imagine what a terrifying experience for or for the the father driving around looking for their baby. I’m only I’m only laughing because there was a happy ending to that story I would not be laughing normally for sure,

Carol Horsford 25:08
for sure. But But it’s interesting. That’s how life is when when it brings you together. And then you know, good things happen. I would also say it’s like advice, it takes five years, it takes at least five years. So it’s like, you got to be ready, you got to put your butt in the chair. And no matter what happens, don’t give up. Good things will happen. The network will start to grow. But it takes time. It takes time. And you really got to be dedicated. And I think a lot of people give up. They give up after six months. This is too hard. But I think if sales is in your blood, the New Haven market, there’s a lot of business to be done here. And I think there’s the investor world. In New York City, the cap rate is at two or 3%. So a New Haven even if something is on the MLS and is retail price cap rate is 6%. So we’re seeing buyers come up from New York City. And and where we have our New Haven buyers who would not buy something for 6%. Cap, the New York buyers are buying it. Right. So there’s constitution from New York.

D.J. Paris 26:14
Interesting. Interesting. Have you found recently, how has the pandemic affected your ability to to rent has that changed at all or since you’re on a, you know, really working mostly within the college system? Has it really not been that affected or

Carol Horsford 26:31
so when it happened March 13, and Yale announced like no more in person classes, like everybody was panicking, right? Everyone was panicking. And my job, all I did all day was like, Look at the red collections and calculate people stuff. But in the end, like night, were 95% collected on on the whole portfolio for the month of March, April, May, and June. So people pay their rent, you know, people pay their rent. And you know, we kept the buildings really clean, we were super sensitive to the fact if we needed to re rent their apartments, we did all virtual tour tours, because we had previously gone around and videotaped all the all of the units. So we had our marketing really on point. And then the tenants were so happy that we respected their COVID privacy that they sent new pictures if we needed it. So I felt like it was a really good. There was good synergy. And we were all just trying to be in it together.

D.J. Paris 27:31
And I’m almost I’m also wondering now that people have been spending more time at home, that they are, you know, even students, and you’ve said the trend has been reached, you know, over the years that students are demanding sort of higher quality places to live. And I think the COVID thing is probably even accelerated that more, right? Because people have been spending so much time at home, I know if I would have been stuck at this house with eight guys. Back in 1997, I would have been pretty unhappy for three months because it was a dump. And it’s fun when it’s a dump where you just sleep there and you go out and do other things. But to be stuck, there would have been really unfortunate for me, I would have been not super happy and I was happy living in a dump because I didn’t know any better. But had I had had to spend all that time in those in those rooms, I likely would have wanted something I would have yearned for something a little nicer. And so I think that’s really smart that you you have nicer quality places for people to rent, I imagine that trend will just continue.

Carol Horsford 28:31
Right. And I also think that this coming year, people are going to make decisions differently about housing like for instance, three bedroom apartments are not renting as quickly as they did last year. Normally twos and threes rent like that what’s really renting is small studios. And one bedrooms, people want to live alone, they don’t want to live in groups, you know, convincing the landlord, hey, we need to lower this rent, or you might have a vacancy come August 1, because all of the leases and either may 31, June 30 or July 31. So everything ends on a cycle. And we’re pre leasing now, I think that the the trends are going to be people can work from home also. So they want nicer houses, right? They want nicer houses, they’re gonna buy nicer houses, they want nicer, bigger apartments. So all of those things will shift. And also New Haven is a town where the tenants don’t pay the broker fee. Right? It’s paid by the owner. So that, you know, is different from like a New York market as well.

D.J. Paris 29:32
Yeah, I’ve always wondered, how much how much more difficult because in Chicago, we’re the same way where tenant does not pay the broker fee thing, thank goodness because I just think oh my gosh, that would make life so much harder for the broker and trying to convince them by the way, you’re gonna also give me one month’s rent, you know, to pay my commission. So thankfully, we’re both in areas where we don’t have to have to deal with that. And I think New York is starting to go through some changes where that’s that’s now shifting because Boston to Yeah, Boston is another good example. Yes.

Carol Horsford 30:04
I think also the even though the interest rates are really low, people want to rent because they want mobility. We’ve also seen a trend towards micro apartments. Yeah, and furnished apartments. That’s a big. That’s, uh, you know, 10 years ago, there were barely any short term rentals. That’s when my mom turned her house into a b&b. And then, you know, it’s the trend sort of picked up with Airbnb, and furnished apartment rentals. You know, my mom sold her house, she moved into, you know, a very small, single family, but that that trends really affected New Hayden’s market as well. Short term Yeah,

D.J. Paris 30:41
that makes Yeah, it makes sense. we’re even seeing that here in Chicago. And not even necessarily with respect to the colleges that we have just the trend in general for for younger people to want to be more mobile, they’re looking for the micro apartments, we’ve had a number of buildings here, open up with those. And also the shorter term leases is been really popular trend.

Carol Horsford 31:04
And I also think minimalism, like people don’t want a lot of stuff, they don’t fill up their houses with crap anymore. So it’s like, you can move you can box it up and put it in a few things. That’s totally changed. So like the Thrift, secondhand market has sort of like dropped out. Nobody wants old wood furniture, nobody wants that kind of stuff anymore. No one wants tchotchkes. So I think that demographic, I definitely seen change over the past, you know, 15 years since I’ve been in the business.

D.J. Paris 31:35
Yeah, we’ve we’ve seen it here in Chicago shift as well. And then also, you know, I think a lot of times our listeners who are Realtors from all over the country, and even internationally, think oh, well, you know, I’d like to I’d like to do some rentals in between sales. But I don’t have anyone looking for an A. I don’t know any renters. And we always say start with the owner, the owner is the key. If you have the listings, the renters come to you. Would you agree mostly with that?

Carol Horsford 32:02
I would say yes. But also, there are so because I get the business. They’re like my listings, and then my agents work all the listings. So it’s just like a rainmaker scenario. But in New Haven, there’s if somebody went to Craigslist and put up a cool ad was like, work with me, I can show you all of these, I think people would click on that ad. The difficulty with apartments is you have to have access, right? You need the keys, you need that? How do you get in? How do you notify the tenant? So we have mounted lock boxes on every single property we manage? So any of our agents can use the code and get in?

D.J. Paris 32:39
Yeah, yeah, it makes sense

Carol Horsford 32:41
logistics, logistics have to be

D.J. Paris 32:45
That’s true. You know, here in Chicago, we have a lot of high rises where there’s door people, and that’s easy. You don’t you don’t need any of that. But for all of the non high rise properties. Yes. If you have the inventory if you have the landlord or the property management company, who’s willing to work with you that and they’re priced appropriately in there, and they’re good, good units, that the tenants will show up, you know, posting ads, I don’t know where the Craigslist here started charging. So I don’t know where people are posting these days. But

Carol Horsford 33:14
so a lot of Facebook, a lot of Insta Pinterest are software pushes to like 15 websites out so like lovely hot pads. Trulia, Zillow just moved to a paid platform and our area data to

D.J. Paris 33:29
say they did same same with us as well. Yeah,

Carol Horsford 33:32
so MLS though we get it because we’re members, so every all of our listings are on the MLS. So if we’re still hitting the Zillow, but not with our software, right, it was more intuitive. I would say you be likable, be likable, be honest, and hustle, because the client service is what people are looking for. And also like I remember when I moved back to New him, I call the ground a couple a couple agencies like nobody called me back. So that doesn’t

D.J. Paris 34:08
would you as a business owner, would that would you just go absolutely crazy. If somebody submitted a request through your website or and they didn’t get a call back immediately. Like I’m in the same capacity. If that happened, I would go nuts. And but I’m shocked at how commonplace it is. It is

Carol Horsford 34:26
overloaded, you know, people are overloaded and it’s also you know, it’s really hard to find agents that really hustled and because we have the property management. Half of my best agents are on full time salary, so they have their own jobs. Plus, if they want to make commission they got to work, you know, after 4pm and on weekends. So sometimes in the end, we just say you know what? I’ll pay you your salary, just get everything rented. Right, right. So in the end, you got to do the right thing by the owner and just put your best people out in the field but it’s really hard to find, to find people who want to hire See rentals because it’s hard work.

D.J. Paris 35:02
But it’s also such a great opportunity to set yourself up for future sales, especially people who graduate from Yale. Now, of course, they a lot of them move, they go all over, they go to New York, they go to Boston, they go all over, of course, the country, they’re Yale grads, they have a lot of options. But there’s people that stick around, maybe they go to Hartford or wherever, but there, they could be even stay local, and what a great way to build the relationship now. And even if even if they are moving to New York, and even or wherever you are, that still becomes a referral opportunity as well read

Carol Horsford 35:33
and read. But you have to like, that’s why I said, everybody you talk to put them in your phone, text them, hey, there’s just not enough hours in the day, you know.

D.J. Paris 35:44
That’s why you, and that’s why you need systems. I mean, I’ve told all of our agents, I don’t know how many, you know, they probably don’t listen to me, but I always tell them make what as soon as you rent an apartment, you know, the expiration date is, you know, let’s say 12 months, or 13, whatever it is, you know, and that person has to make a decision. And you know, whether it’s two months or three months prior habit automatically send them an email and have it to remind you to give them a call, say, Hey, by the way, your lease is coming due What what are you thinking about doing? And that you know, or are you thinking about buying? Or, you know, do you want to move to another apartment? Are you happy where you are you want to resign? Whatever that is, I suspect, just like with everything, if you don’t have systems in place, there’s no way you’re going to probably naturally remember 10 months from today that your client moved in. And his got two months left on their lease.

Carol Horsford 36:33
No. Agreed. So I think yeah, organization, and, you know, even Google, you could do it in Google Sheets, you know,

D.J. Paris 36:41
like free? Yeah, we I talked to one of the top agents here in Chicago. And I said, Well, you had him on the show years ago. And I said, what CRM do you use? He goes, I’m embarrassed to say it, I use Google Sheets. And he said, I’ve tried all of the major CRMs they’re all great. But he goes for me, I just need to look at a spreadsheet. And I went, Wow, what a great endorsement for Google Sheets, that one of the top agents, you know, that’s all they use. And they have a little system in place for it. But it doesn’t even have to, I mean, that’s basically a free service. And so there’s lots of systems, but I couldn’t agree more systematizing the property management, also the tenant relationship, and just, you know, the Yeah, I mean, everything should just be in systems, or else we’re all just too busy to remember.

Carol Horsford 37:27
I also think a good piece of advice is trust your gut, your gut, it took me, it took me a while to really trust my gut. Like, if my gut is telling me something, it’s right. And if you’re true to yourself, you’ll get something good will happen. So one of my first big deals, there was this guy who let me rent one of his apartment, and he was a doll. And I would send him stuff off the MLS. I was just out on my own. And he was like, No, thank you, but keep sending. No, thank you. But keep sending, right? So a little rejection, but kindness. So I was at this networking event, and specializing in commercial stuff on this guy was like, Listen, I have something on Lake places six family, I said, I’ll take it, I have the buyer. So as soon as it hit, he gave it to me didn’t hit the market. And I was shopping it to this guy, and he was kind of playing around and I was like, Carol, this guy’s not going to buy this. You gotta call. You gotta call the other guy. I called him, I said, I have a super sneaky deal. He said, Come in, I met with him. And I left the office with a signed contract and a check for 50,000 bucks. I took it right to the other agent. He signed it. Got it signed, that was my first transaction. And that building, we paid 450 for a six unit on Lake place right behind the L gym. And it’s worth, you know, one and a half million dollars or more today. Wow. So and that client, he’s my favorite client. Because he, he treats he treated me with respect, and I can trust him. And I love to do business with people that are grateful and respect the hustle. I would rather make that guy rich than like somebody who’s mean, you know. So in the end, it’s just about being likeable and being honest about who you are and how you want to work. And if you and if someone is making you feel uncomfortable, you can just say, I’m really not comfortable doing that. And that’s okay. That’s okay.

D.J. Paris 39:26
Yeah, I think the the willingness to walk away from a situation, whether it’s a buyer or a seller or renter, you know, an investor, really anyone where you you do have that weird, you know, for example, this could be a scenario where a seller has an unrealistic price expectation, and they say, Well, my home’s worth this. And the data suggests that, that it that it isn’t worth that. And you know, agents are often very afraid to walk away from a transaction because they’re like, No, I’ll try to make it work. And in most cases, you’re not going to make it work. If you’re going that tells you this doesn’t feel right. You know, it’s it’s hard and it’s no fun to walk away. But you probably should. And you’ll find that other things happen that Phil, it’s spot, I’m guessing,

Carol Horsford 40:09
I agree. And like the best thing for that homeowner is just to say, Listen, I’d be doing you a disservice to take this listen at this price. And I want to be honest with you, and another agent is going to come in here and say, Yeah, I want the business. Yeah. And in the end, they’ll call you back, they’ll call you, because they,

D.J. Paris 40:26
when it crashes and burns, they’re gonna call you back, because you were the one that was honest. But yeah, I think respecting the hustle is really important. trusting your gut. And being likable. You’ve said that a number of times, and it’s one of those things that is so important. And there is data to support this, that if you are an actually a likable person, and it doesn’t mean you have to change who you are to be likable. So I want to make sure we’re not saying you should, you know, throw away all your values and ethics and morals and your personality to sort of appease other people. But if you are an actually nice, likable human being, it is shocking how the world can open its doors to you. And not always, of course, but it makes life a heck of a lot easier for sure.

Carol Horsford 41:07
And I think people like personalities, whoever you are, whatever you say, if it’s honest, yeah, if you’re on time, people will listen to you and respect you. Yeah, I would also say, your time in real estate time is your most valuable asset, your time, don’t give it away for free take in the years taken me years to to be better about that. But your time is your is your biggest asset and make sure that you’re using it wisely.

D.J. Paris 41:39
Well, I think that’s a perfect, perfect place. To wrap up. I want to remind everyone who’s listening, if you are a an agent in the New Haven area, and you’re thinking about maybe your firm isn’t exactly giving you all the resources and tools you need, and you’re looking to expand your business, then Farnam group may be a great option and you can find out more or buy or before I get to that. Also if you’re a buyer or a seller, a renter, a tenant and investor and you know looking for to work with a real estate company or you’re looking for somebody to manage your portfolio of investments reach out to Farnham group, they are absolute superstars in New Haven. You can find them of course at Farnham, F AR nm group.com. But Carol, if there’s somebody that wants to work with you, specifically or someone on your team, what’s the best way they should reach out

Carol Horsford 42:26
so they can text me directly? 203-671-1961 or just email me Carol at Farnham group.com love to hear from everybody. Thanks so much for having me on the show. It was super fun.

D.J. Paris 42:41
Yeah, Carol, I really The pleasure is all ours. And we should once again mentioned Carol’s company has the largest real estate, the largest rental agency and all of Connecticut, that is a huge, massive, massive accomplishment. So we want to congratulate you on your all your success and your continued future success. On behalf of the listeners, Carol want to say thank you for spending time to we know how busy you are, and how busy you know your company is and taking time to be on our show. It really means a lot to our listeners. And also on behalf of Carol and myself. We want to thank the listeners for continuing to listen and support our show. Or you might be watching this episode as well. Thank you for that. And we just want to mention two quick things before we go, which is number one, we rebuilt our website. So check it out, keeping it real pod.com. If you’re listening through a podcast app, that’s great. But the cool thing about our website is that if you have a specific type of one of our shows that you like, for example, our social bootcamp, or our Monday, market minute or any of the other shows we have, we have them categorized. And so if you want to go straight to those or you just want to listen to top 1% interviews, top 1% broker interviews like the one we’re doing right now with Carol, they’re all categorized, you can do that right on there that you can’t do on the app. So check it out, keeping it real pod.com. And lastly, the second thing we ask is to please just tell a friend, think of one other agent that could benefit from hearing this particular interview and send them a link to the show. We’re on every podcast directory we’re super easy to find every you know Spotify, Pandora, Stitcher, iTunes, Google Play Anywhere just Google it or go to keeping it real pod.com But send someone that you know a link to the show so they can learn from Carol and grow their business as well. But Carol, thank you so much. Once again. It was a real pleasure. I’m excited to watch your future success and I will definitely if I’m in the area stop by and pizza, some New Haven

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