How one woman took a chance, spent $119 and launched a million-dollar business.
By Lindsay Harris, Photo by Alison Marlborough
I have been actively involved int he Austin real-estate market for the past 13 years. Here is what I’ve learned: take a little, leave a little. Trust your gut. Invest in things you believe in and get excited about. There is always another deal to be found. Always speak your mind and be yourself. Become a creator, not a competitor.
It was 2004, and I was exhausted from working three jobs to service my student-loan debt. Looking for a way out, I read a pile of investment books and discovered I had the potential to make money by purchasing a home with little to no money down. A few months later, with only $119 at closing, I bought my first home in East Austin. Because of its proximity to downtown, I followed my gut and took a chance on the Holly Street neighborhood. That investment turned into a $150,000 profit just two years later.
With a new understanding of how to make money work for me, I began driving the streets of East Austin with two babies in tow. I would look for homes with boarded-up windows and tall grass. I wrote down addresses and contacted owners to see if they were interested in selling. This led to me buying and selling dozens of undervalued homes for my clients and myself while turning a profit each time. In just a few short years, I paid off my student-loan debt and had a thriving million-dollar business. I had realized my knack for finding opportunity in the real-estate market.
Since that time, I have continued working as both a broker and as an investor. This year, after working for one of the premier luxury-real-estate agencies in town, Gottesman Residential, I decided it was time to pursue my next life goal of owning my own real-estate brokerage. I started Stone & Acre Real Estate, with a collaborative and cooperative culture being a cornerstone of the business.
Throughout my years of experience, I have learned I can can accomplish much more by forming a team that combines unique skill sets, abilities and experiences. I am so proud to have the opportunity to influence other women, particularly mothers, by providing them with the knowledge and confidence they need to take risks. I want other women to reap the rewards of success, regardless of their industry.
Real estate is much more than selling homes. To me, it is a passion that came about unexpectedly and gifted me with incredible means to support my family. As a single mother of two boys who juggles many responsibilities, I know life can be overwhelming.
I want women to know that through the power of thinking big, collaboration and believing in their dreams, mountains can be moved and this doesn’t just apply to women in the real-estate industry.
Successful entrepreneurs spanning many genres of business have inspired me. I believe the key ingredients to success are surrounding yourself with a supportive tribe, trusting your intuition, taking leaps of faith, persevering in the face of doubt, and most importantly, wanting success more than you fear it. I hope my journey both inspires and gives women permission to follow their dreams. Remember, dreams can start with a mere $119, and can be built one stone and one acre at a time.
Lindsay Harris’ Homebuying Tips for the Austin Market
- Find a good lender and get pre approved, no just prequalified, before you get your heart set on a property. There are so many additional costs, such as taxes and HOA fees, that need to be considered. Many people skip this step and are surprised and sometimes heartbroken to find out that the home of their dreams is not within their price range.
- Decide what type of property and neighborhood you want to live in. Is it a single-family home, condo or high-rise? We are fortunate to live in a city that offers many different types of housing and neighborhood options.
- Find a neighborhood specialist. Everyone knows a real-estate agent, but not everyone knows an agent that will best suit his or her needs. Interview two to three agents who specialize in the area you want to live in. A good agent will have the inside scoop and know lots of important details that will add value to your purchase.
- Once you find a property you love, make sure it’s a good fit. Drive the neighborhood morning, noon and night. Talk to neighbors, commute to work, see if there is a coffee shop you love close by. Experiencing the are at different times is the best way to get a true sense of the activity in the neighborhood.
- Do not overthink the homebuying process. Realize your first or even second home is most likely not your forever home. Find a home you like and can afford with the understanding that this is a stepping stone on your path to success.
- In real estate, you make your money on the buy. Find a house with good bones. Let the small cosmetic things go and add value by making changes that are necessary and aesthetically pleasing.
- Find out what the seller wants. Oftentimes, it’s not just about the price. I like to have my clients write a letter explaining to the seller why they love the house and want to live in it. Sellers do not always take the highest offer. A good agent will found out what their motivations are.
- Do not be intimidated by multiple offers. Ask yourself what you are willing to pay for the home in order not to lose it. Get the house under contract and realize there is opportunity for another round of negotiation after the inspection.