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On this week’s episode of the Wealthy Woman Lawyer® Podcast, we sit down with Jenna Zebrowski. Jenna has over a decade’s worth of experience as an attorney working with leasing, franchise, mortgages, and more, and she is a landlord, investor, and property manager herself. Jenna knows better than anyone that the key to building wealth is in investing and networking.
“The point is to meet this one key person who can elevate your game, elevate your networking, take you where you need to go and get you to that next level, and networking and connecting with these people on a personal level,” says Jenna.
Jenna tells us about how she found real estate as the law sector that spoke most to her talents, desires, and lifestyle, as well as:
- Strategies to build a base of ideal clients
- Networking in a virtual world
- Investment lessons to learn from real estate crises
- Advice for getting started within the real estate market
- Getting help to reach success
- And much more.
Mentioned in this episode:
Davina Frederick: Hello and welcome to the Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast. We believe all women lawyers deserve to be wealthy women lawyers. Our mission is to provide thought provoking, powerful and practical information to help you in creating your own sustainable wealth generating law firm without overwork or overwhelm so you can live your best life. I’m your host, Davina Frederick, and I’m so excited for you to meet our guests today. So let’s get started.
Attorney Jenna Zebrowski is hired by real estate landlords, investors and business owners who know the fine print is important to their leases, contracts and other documents. But they don’t want to deal with it. With more than a decade of experience as an attorney working with leasing, franchise, investors, mortgage and title industries and business owners, she’s a detail oriented advocate. She’s also an investor herself, landlord and property manager. Jenna focuses on practical and affordable advice for landlords and tenants alike in residential and commercial properties with a soft spot for investors. So we’re super excited to have Jenna on the Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast today, because we got lots of questions about this topic. Welcome, Jenna.
Jenna Zebrowski: Hi Davina. Good to hear from you.
Davina: Yeah, I’m so glad you’re here. So why don’t you start out. So you know, our audience is made up of other women law firm owners, and many of whom, being the Wealthy Woman Lawyer Podcast, are on a journey to wealth. And one of the key pieces of that is, as they start growing their law firm businesses and making more money, they’re looking for places to invest their money. So this is a really terrific topic. I’m so happy to have you here to talk about this, because I know this is your area of expertise. Before we jump into that, though, I’d like to know about your own journey to where you are today. So what made you decide to be an attorney, and then ultimately, to start your own business?
Jenna: Well, I tripped and fell and landed in law school pretty much. There wasn’t a plan. But I woke up one day and said, gosh, I need to figure out what to do after undergraduate. So I took the LSAT and applied and got in somewhere and thought, gosh, this seems like a great thing to do to avoid reality. So I packed up and went to law school. And I wouldn’t say I avoided reality. But I managed to get out with a law degree, which was the way to go. And then I still was faced with the same problem. How do I get a job? But I did find one. And I worked in house pretty much for almost a decade before going out of my own, starting my own practice.
Davina: So what was the impetus for you deciding to start your own practice?
Jenna: I tried everything I possibly could to avoid starting my own practice. Everyone told me what a great thing it was, I had this in house job. And it was three to employment and predictable all of this, but it really wasn’t. There’s always so much volatility going on in real estate, and of course, the corporate world. So every three years or so it seemed like a cycle that there would be a set of layoffs or they would outsource legal or something happened, and I was no longer in a job. And that happened to me two times in two years, and it was really disheartening. I was sitting there thinking, oh, my gosh, I have to go get my resume and go back out on the market and do the whole thing. And I just got physically ill on this is the thought of that. And I have a wonderful husband who said, you’ve been talking about doing this on your own for a while. So why don’t you try it? And I thought, sure it’s right. You know, it’s a recession and everyone needs a commercial real estate attorney. What how could this possibly go wrong? Right, I came up with I came up with a lot of reasons that could go wrong, but I thought okay, so I had the last position I was in. Gosh, is right before Fourth of July weekend. I remember that.
So I spent the next about five or six months on a contract, saving money trying to figure out okay, how do you start a practice because I’ve been in house, I have never had to find a client, retain a client, engage a client bill, a client, you know. Work came in, I did it. Work went out. I had no idea what to do in the client side of things, no network, nothing. So spent some time on that. And then that January came around, and I said, okay, let’s do this. So I got some stuff ready that winter in January came around, and I started networking, my backside off. And, gosh, three years later, I’m still doing that, except I now have some clients. And so that’s how it happened.
Davina: That’s wonderful. So I love that and I love hearing stories of how women first of all, chose the law and so many are are you know, oh, I always knew I wanted to be an attorney. And then many like you. For me, it was a second career. So I know that you know, sometimes you choose something because life sort of leads you that way. Did you have an interest in working in real estate when you got your first job or were you just kind of interviewing with different sorts of firms and landed there and then sort of became passionate about it or how did that happen?
Jenna: Well, I’ve always liked real estate, I mean, you know, I’ve lived in a house and land and I always thought, you know, you can get stuff stolen out of your house, you can get your car stolen, things can happen to you. But the property, the land, even if the house burns down, it’s not going anywhere land is there property’s there, you can find it and hold it. So that always had an attraction to me, I know where this thing is. And I can point to it and say right there. So that was, that was always kind of nice. And I’ve been around it and known people that have had investments or landlord property, that sort of thing had exposure to it. And after, I really did enjoy property classes in law school, not to the extent that I thought I’d be a real estate attorney, but I was like, oh, this kind of makes sense with ownership and how it moves. And then I had an opportunity.
My first interview was for, I had several interviews, but the first one I really liked was with a large corporation who said, hey, we need some help in our real estate department. And I said, oh, that sounds fun. I knew there were some things I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to deal with people mostly. I was playing with paper. I litigation was not very attractive to me, I like to argue, but I don’t want to get all this stuff ready to argue with. And then one of the consumer things, family law, and wills and trusts is interesting, but that’s just not the place I want that I was gonna succeed. There was too much, you have to be too nice to people. And I’ve never been very nice. So I thought,gGosh, where can I? Where can I be successful and I enjoy playing with with paper and words and putting all the pieces in place. And there’s still a person element to it, you can’t avoid people entirely, but it just all fit really well with what I was doing.
And once I got started, I really liked it. I liked all the pieces, I liked all of the components and just kept building on that. And like you said, it’s a great place to start to grow wealth or to continue to grow wealth. And there is no reason that anyone a woman law firm owner, or any law firm owner, or any person can’t, at some level access that wealth, you just have to be focused and know where to go. It’s also really easy to lose wealth in there if you’re not doing it properly. So due diligence is key. And I want to support people to do that so that they can have whatever their future desires are.
Davina: Right, right. So tell me about your firm. Where as it is now give me an indication of is it? Are you still a solo? Do you have staff, I mean, give me some idea of what your firm looks like now.
Jenna: I am a true solo, I kind of design things that way with where my life is going. And my family, I have a military husband. So there’s times when he’s not here we have a child. I said, I need something that suits me and my flexibility. I don’t want to have to depend on another partner to bring in revenue. Or not bringing revenue, I don’t want to deal with a lot of overhead or managing people. I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it.
Davina: Yeah, it’s a real lifestyle business then, for you.
Davina: Yeah, I think a lot of people are doing that. Now, you know,
Jenna: I think so I think that’s part of the attraction, we have the ability to work, where and when we want. I mean, especially after the this pandemic situation. Having a virtual practice, the overhead is pretty low, certain places you do you need to have an office or some more physical space or location, but I enjoy being able to work in my living room or in my mom’s living room or somewhere else, which I hope to do after it’s safe to travel again. But I like being able to do things on my own terms.
Davina: Right, right. So with regard to your clients, how did you you said when you started out it was really scary, because you didn’t really have that network and those relationships. And so you had to go out and create those and I know with residential real estate, maybe a lot of people have a perception that maybe that’s a little easier than kind of creating those commercial, real estate relationships and getting those deals. What are some of the tactics, you know, what strategy did you use to sort of build up that clientele?
Jenna: I used all the strategies. I mean, it was bring it and I will try it. So the kind of a three prong approach. The first one was, I need to know more people, I need to know more things. How do I find clients? How do I identify people, and they’re out there? I know there’s an audience. So I started networking, I went on meetup.com. I went to all the investor things. I had a breakfast, lunch and dinner lined up three meetings besides I left the house at seven o’clock in the morning and came home while after dark. I was doing all the things. And usually I try to make sure they were either real estate or legal related, or they were designed for networking for business owners, because who are the people that tend to own property, they have businesses, and that’s also I do a lot of contract work as well.
So it was going out there and meeting people and building those connections. And the other half of that was practice. I didn’t know how to identify a client or retain one or sell anything or anything. I have been in house for my entire career. So I thought, how badly can this go? All I’m going to do is practice so having to stand up in a roomful of strangers and elevator pitch and know who you want to talk to and who you don’t. And it’s identifying that one person in every group statistically, it’s like dating, right? If you talk to enough people, eventually you’ll find someone that says, I need you or I know someone that does. And you find that person and you talk to them, and they elevate your networking, they elevate your game, they elevate your career. And you start following that and hanging out with the people that you need to do. So the point is to meet this one key person who can elevate your game, elevate your networking take you where you need to go and move you on to the next level and networking and connecting with those people on a on a personal level I met attorneys and other attorneys who I had never heard of and never would have encountered otherwise.
And people that are in real estate, as investors as advisors, as owners as lessees and less stores. So getting to know those people. And then also, you can only do so much networking without falling flat on your face and having time to work. So it was really important to also have an online presence. Nobody takes you seriously unless you have some sort of website and an email address. So I worked with an online strategist to help get my website going and do some design stuff and keyword and SEO and content building all of that. I don’t do as much as that as I did, because I worked so hard at the beginning. But it’s still really important to have that presence and to nurture it. So that’s what I’ve been doing as well.
Davina: Right. So when the pandemic started, how did that affect your business it as far as you know, if you were had been very active in, in person networking, things like that, had you gotten far enough along where you were able to sort of make the smooth transition.
Jenna: I felt like I could not have started my business in a better time. I had started in January of 2019, officially. So I had basically a full year of in person networking in practice to build up that network and learn how things go before the world shut down. So I felt like I had you know, had a grip on it. And then a lot of things were starting to switch to zoom and to virtual and who knows what’s going on. And I had again, invested in spent that time. So my website was working, I actually had my, one of my best quarters was that first quarter the pandemic, a lot of people were looking for advice on their commercial leases, or terminating leases.
So I was very busy with that. And I had designed a virtual practice, I do have a virtual office, but I work with clients all over the state, and nationwide, and certain aspects. So we there’s amazing what you can do with a cell phone and a laptop. So it was actually not a difficult transition client wise. I do you miss some of the in person networking things. But it also gave me a chance to evaluate and go where am I actually what’s what’s fun, and where am I actually getting business or clients from. So that helped me kind of fine tune and reset for the next iteration of my law practice.
Davina: I think that’s so important is that oftentimes, it’s a natural path, when we first start out with our business to do a lot of in person networking, I think it’s a really smart thing to do, especially if you’re tied to the local community. And those are where those are the source of your clients. So that’s, that’s a great way to start to build up a network. But but like you said, There comes a time, as you start getting busier and you start getting referrals business coming in, it’s hard to keep up that momentum there just simply aren’t enough hours in the day. So it is important to have other strategies that you can tap into.
And that’s what’s so wonderful about the time we’re living in, is we are having so many more people embrace. Even though a lot of people, you know, we’re kind of forced to it. But even before that, we’re having a lot of people sort of embrace a different way of working through virtual meetings and things like that. And it does make it a lot. It really is a time saver for us, you know, for business people to be able to cut out that travel time and sort of spending three hours or going to a lunch or meeting mingling and then you’re coming back, you know, you’re spending that you’re able to maximize that time. Right?
Jenna: Somewhat. It’s like everything else. It’s a mixed blessing, because oh, how much more work can I do in three hours versus here’s the three hour block. And this is what I’m committing to. So part of the curse of being your own solo practitioner is that you’re doing all of the things that all of the times my most productive time during the pandemic was between, like 7pm and midnight, because I was doing so much on the phone and virtually and doing intake and figuring out clients and screening and I didn’t have a lot of processes and procedures in place that I do now. So that was very interesting learning experience. So when you have to sit down and actually work and focus and read 105 page lease, you have to do you have some time so it’s the that’s been an interesting lesson that I’ve learned is that just because you can do more work, should you or is that really what I should be doing with my time so it’s it’s a mixed blessing.
Davina: Right, right? Yeah, I definitely could not I am. I’m not a night owl at all. I’m a morning person. So to sit down and look at a 500 page lease at seven o’clock at night until midnight, because probably I would be blurry eyed at that point, trying to do that. So let’s talk about real estate and kind of what’s going on in the real estate world right now. What’s hot, what’s not sort of situation of there’s a lot of discussion on professionals about what’s going on in the market. And what do you think is hot? What do you see happening right now in Texas, and the real estate market?
Jenna: Well, if I knew what was going to happen, then I would be off playing the ponies and placing bets, I would not be practicing law, I would be much more wealthy than I am. So it’s, yeah, so it’s a lot of it is all I can say is real estate is cyclical. And I don’t care what cycle you’re in, whether it’s this scorchingly hot market that we are in continue to be in no end in sight. Or if it’s one of the, you know, like the dark times of ’08 to ’10, when there wasn’t a real estate activity that was positive. Don’t buy anything you can’t afford. That’s my number one piece of advice for anyone who wants to get into real estate. Don’t buy it if you can’t afford it, and then it doesn’t matter what the market is what cycle it is, none of the external factors matter if you can afford it, then you’re okay. So that’s, you know, that’s that’s one thing to take away from the conversation.
But what I’m seeing right now in the market, and admittedly, it’s my slice of it, but there is not a lot of inventory. It is very tight, especially for residential people, industrial warehouse situations as well. Those are moving faster than I’ve ever seen before. offices, understandably, are not nearly as competitive as they have been since people have been working from home or continue to do so. But there’s a social element that’s missing, people are coming back to offices and retail. So it’s not it’s rebounding. It’s not as soft as it was. And then I think we’re also waiting a lot of the COVID-19 related to things where there were moratoriums and forbearances, and furloughs and whatever you want to call it.
One of those if they have not already expired, they are going to soon and a lot of people are hurrying up and wait. Because there were people who said I can’t operate, I can’t afford this rent. And I wait, we’ll do I kick you out. Do I evict you, do we go to court, I personally think that we’re going to see a whole slew of evictions and probably an uptick in bankruptcies, I think they’re starting to see a little bit of that. But at the same time, there’s some factors that haven’t existed before, there’s a money’s a lot cheaper than it used to be. And there’s a lot of people who want to keep their tenants and want to work with them.
So landlords are getting a lot more creative than they used to, I think people who are prepared and intelligent about how they have operated their business are going to be very likely to succeed and people who said, oh, I don’t need that, oh, I don’t need to invest, oh, I can get by with this, are going to find out why that’s, you know why lawyers exist and why you’re supposed to have all these protections in place. So it’s going to be in next 18 months to two years are going to be a very interesting ride on the real estate side.
Davina: Right, right. I have, I started my practice, right at the beginning of the foreclosure crisis so it was 2007, the end of 2007, beginning of 2008, when I started my law practice, and I was a I represented lenders in foreclosure matters. And I’m wondering, yes, so it was a great time for attorneys in real estate, then because you were working a lot of foreclosure matters. And so, but I wonder if people have learned kind of some of the lessons of that crisis. And and if it’s made them think differently about real estate, real estate investments, and what decisions they’re making now, and what protections they’re putting in place now. If they went through that, you know, era and invested in real estate and lost. Are you seeing that? Are you having conversations with your clients who kind of went through that before and it’s coloring their thinking now?
Jenna: To some extent, and I think that it’s really hilarious, because I actually graduated from law school in ’07 and couldn’t find a job in real estate. They weren’t hiring baby lawyers at the time unless you had foreclosure experience. So I actually didn’t start my real estate career til things started looking up in 2010. So a lot of people in that timeframe had, you know, the foreclosure workout bankruptcy experience. There wasn’t a whole lot of stuff for expansion and growing. I don’t find a lot of people that started out with expanding operations. So that’s been, I think, something interesting for my career that I bring to the table. Some other people don’t, they’ve either done it forever, or they started after things were going they didn’t have that when during the dark time as we call it from 07 to 10. So that’s been interesting.
And then as to learning our lessons. Some people did, some people didn’t. The circumstances are a bit different. I think that a lot of The lending requirements were a lot looser back then. So slice and dice enough subprime things to turn it into a, you know, platinum gold investment until you find out it doesn’t work here, even the pandemic credit has been getting tighter a lot more well qualified people are or companies are investing and getting money out there, they have the money, I think a lot of people have been sitting on it since 2010, waiting for the market to come back. Interest rates are a lot lower now than they were then. So a lot of things could be done to work out or refinance or do things to lower interest rates.
I don’t see that now, I don’t know how you can refinance to a negative interest rate, because that’s about what you would have to do at this point to get you know that much of a difference when you’re doing a mortgage workout or anything else. I think maybe some of the people that are most successful have learned that, again, buy what you can afford and have a plan, you don’t need to get overly maximum extended. But at the same time, people who were getting those, you know, more marginal lender products either don’t qualify, the banks aren’t doing them, they’re not getting those loans. So I don’t see as I think there’s some of the similar factors, but I don’t think it’s going to be such a repeat of things that this is because of much different factors as opposed to bad actors.
Davina: Right, right. Let’s talk about some of the hot markets for investors right now. Because a lot of your clients are investors, and, you know, a lot of the information that I you know, hear right now out there about investing in real estate among people who are really into, you know, who are investors, right? You’re looking at things like multifamily, obviously, and storage facilities. In Florida, I know what’s hot, what’s usually always hot, or anything involving the elderly market, because we’re kind of you know, that market, especially in some areas, like nursing home, things like that.
Jenna: Long term care facilities. Oh, yeah.
Davina: Yeah. So what kinds of things are you seeing your investor clients, you know, really sort of gravitating to now?
Jenna: It used to be everyone was looking for a deal. I think a lot of that’s been scooped up. Now I think they’re looking for, you know, intelligent deals, which is a whole lot different. They’re actually people who want to succeed are actually doing their due diligence, there’s a thing going around for a while called OPM other people’s money. I’m like, that’s great if you’re using other people’s money to invest, but at some point, you have to pay them back. So this goes back to my don’t invest in anything that you can’t afford, or you can’t afford to pay back. So I don’t do a whole lot of work with what I call wildcatters. It’s just like, hey, I took this course I went and watched some HGTV. Took a system and now I’m ready to be a millionaire. I’m like, great, that’s fantastic. But when you have someone who says, okay, I’ve taken some education, I’ve learned some time, I want to sit down with an attorney and really get an understanding of how I can be successful.
That’s the kind of person that I want to work with. So I’m seeing a lot more. There’s always buzzwords. Oh, it’s easy, you just set up an LLC and deed your property over there and this that and the other. Well, if it was easy, a lot more people would be successful. So making sure that there’s documentation and corporate formalities are observed and making sure that people pay their mortgages. I don’t care what fabulous legal tax avoidance system you’ve come up with, if you don’t pay for what you owe, you’re gonna fall apart anyway. And then there’s also that’s a little more on the buy and hold side on the fix and flip side, it was real hot for a while to buy houses, fix them up and sell them at a profit. Well, no one ever budgets enough, there’s been a hole rash of, especially in Texas, which is where I primarily practice bad flips. People are purchasing homes that have been advertised as newly remodeled or something else. And they’re terrible.
They look really good on the surface, but they are not functional, livable homes. So there’s been all sorts of litigation and controversy over that. I don’t work with people that I don’t I don’t litigate. I’m a purely transactional practice. But I do caution people when they are doing these sorts of activities, I can help you do this. But if you think you’re gonna go in there with a sledgehammer and make it beautiful in 60 days in your first try, probably ought to think about that. Again, I’m working on a matter right now that these people are somewhat sophisticated investors, they tend to buy single family homes and duplexes they purchased. I purchased a duplex, they knew it had some issues and had actually done a pretty good job negotiating them with the seller and they found out about six months later, a tenant had a leak in the shower. Turns out that instead of properly fixing the shower, the seller had covered it up.
So I’m doing a demand letter and dealing with that right now. And I mean, these people are savvy, they had an inspector, they did all of that. But if you’re intentionally hiding stuff, you don’t find out later, you know, so it’s knowing what they had also budgeted this and we know there’s something in here we missed. They actually had a $10,000 reserve in their funds. And they were able to pick it up, fix it move on. And I have no for my fee as well. So it’s nice to people are prepared to do that I expect to be able to make them whole, based on the case. But again, that’s being a savvy investor knowing there’s something you’re going to miss and having a cushion to do that. If not, they would have had a tenant with an unusable shower, and who wants to stay in a place where you can’t get clean.
So part of it is is anticipating those things, and I think anything people can invest in right now is hot, single family, multifamily duplex senior living, storage situations, commercial real estate offices, ground leases, I’m seeing stuff for cell phone towers, all the small houses, all sorts of stuff. If it’s land, people want to put stuff on it, especially with the house housing shortages, we’re seeing a lot of the country, people gotta be ready to move. If you want to make an investment now you have to be ready and qualified because if you’re not, I have seen people put in dozens of offers and miss out because they’re either trying to be too cheap, or they’re trying to be too slow. You got to be ready to pull the trigger real estate is not for the indecisive.
Davina: Right. So I think that’s very powerful, right, when you just sit there real estate’s not for the indecisive, but I think that that goes for investors, you know, in whatever, and whatever you’re investing, and you have to educate yourself. Yeah, you also, like you said, you have to be financially prepared to do that. And I think where people run into a lot of trouble is, is when they don’t want, they really underestimate the level of preparedness that they need to get into a market, you know, of some kind. And also, they overestimate their knowledge, you know, real estate deals or sophisticated deals, you know, no matter how you slice it, even the most simple residential transaction that you’re buying for yourself, can be complicated, you know.
Jenna: And it’s different, especially in Texas, because then you throw in our sacred right of homestead, and that’s also Texas is a TLTA state an ALTA. state. So some of the title stuff you’re gonna see is completely different, the effect is the same, more or less. But if you ask for something in California that you can’t get in Texas, or New York or anywhere else, it’s because there’s different endorsements and different ways that they go about it and how the funds are done. I mean, you have to follow the rules. And then if you take, you know, take your system, and I’m going to learn how to buy tax foreclosures, well, are you in a judicial or non judicial foreclosure state?
And which system are you learning how to do if you try to do one and the other, you are not going to succeed financially, the not, you know, the system, whatever the system is, it’s not a one size fits all, it’s got to be tailored for your use. The way I tell them tell people is you know, was like a tattoo, okay, you can go spend a little bit of money on say, a lawyer and you sit down and say, I want this tattoo, whatever is the butterfly on my ankle, and I will make sure that you have the right butterfly on the right place. It’s all tied up in nice bow and you have what you want, you can walk away, or you cheap out, you do it yourself, you get the prison stencil, and it’s not right. It’s not what you want. It’s not where you want it. And then you have to come to me anyway.
And I have to undo all of the work that’s been done and redo it and cover it up. And it doesn’t look quite right. It’s not quite the way you wanted it to be. And it cost more money. But you’re still getting what what you’re dealing with. So invest upfront in yourself, whether it’s with your tax person, your attorney, your realtor, whatever you’re doing, little investment is a lot cheaper than a bad business field down the road. So it’s like, if you can’t afford to work with your team, your attorney, your realtor, your tech person, then you can’t afford to be an investor, you need to level up and get to that point. Because if you don’t, and you try to take a short cut, then I’m referring to you to to my bankruptcy contact and I don’t like doing that. And you probably don’t either.
Davina: Right, right. Yeah, that’s what I say to business owners, if you can’t afford to hire an attorney to help you get your business up the right way. And you know, make sure that you’re protecting yourself, you probably can’t afford to start a business right now. So it’s very much the same thing with investments, you know, to having having that person who’s an expert in it, it’s a lot more complex real estate is a lot more complex. And you bring up a really good point about varying from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. I know that a lot of real estate investors have will talk about investing in different states and having different properties in different states. And that can really be the challenge. If you’re, if you don’t have an attorney in that state, who is an expert, and the team, not just an attorney, like you said, a team of people, real estate, you know, broker and any of your financial people, mortgage brokers whenever you don’t have a team of people, the right team of people to help you it can be you can very quickly get yourself into hot, hot water for sure.
Jenna: Very expensive hot water. Yes.
Davina: Exactly. From what you’ve seen with investors and all the networking you’ve done, how do you go about sort of getting an a good education, about investing in real estate? And what you know, where would you point somebody who says, you know, I really have some money, maybe they’ve inherited money or they’ve saved up money or, you know, they have, you know, they’re making good money, and they’re wanting to invest someplace real estate seems like a good investment for them. How would what would you tell them to do to start an education process and really understand, we’re a good, we’re good places are to invest in real estate?
Jenna: Really, I think the best thing to do is to whether it’s working with me or somebody else, it is spend the money, get an hour consultation with someone who knows what they’re doing. A commercial real estate attorney or a residential attorney, or whoever you’re working with and tell them. Someone who works with investors, this is what I want to do. You can certainly go to seminars, buy classes, take, you know, get educated in the system. There’s all these mentors and gurus out there, and many of them are very successful in doing what they’re doing. But you know, something that I started investing in 20 years ago, and I’ve been able to carry that system forward, because I have the money to do it. If you’re not starting out with that kind of funds and that kind of market. Maybe the system isn’t applicable for you? And how do you know that you need to get that specific situation advice. And you can’t do that without talking to a subject matter expert.
So I have I frequently have people that come in, I say, look, let’s do a no obligation consultation, you’re just obligated to show up and ask questions. And usually the smart ones come in with a list going, here’s what we want to do. How do we accomplish that? About half the time I’m like, well, that is information that was accurate in 2008, or you’ve obviously been hanging out this gurus website or something, and they’re trying to argue with me, and I said, sure, go ahead and do that. Go find someone that will do it for you. That’s either, there are certain things that I won’t do, because I see it’s too risky for either the investor or myself from a legal and liability standpoint, or I don’t want to mess with it. There’s such a careful construction of scaffolding you have to do to make it work.
I don’t want to spend the time doing that. Because what do you try? Why do we have to work this hard to get this kind of result if there’s it’s not necessary? So I don’t generally don’t work with these people. But a lot of people are like, how do I get started? Well, here’s what we can do. Okay, how do I do that? Well, how much money do you got to spend? Okay, well, this is what we can do for that kind of money. And a lot of it is just acknowledging what that market risk is. If you’ve got $1,000, and you’re looking at something probably more pure based, you know, where you’re buying a small fraction of a larger investment, if you’ve got a million dollars, then we can talk about setting up something a little bit more elaborate.
It really depends on where you’re starting and what your goals are to get there. If I’m talking to a young man or young woman and his or her 20s, single, no kids, all they’ve got is college debt versus a young couple with children who are looking to set up for their children’s education versus someone who’s in their second career and goes, oh, I’m done working in an office. Now I’m going to be a real estate guru. They’ve got different goals and different investments and different outlooks. So it’s how do we accomplish those goals? And how can I help you do that? And it’s not just me, and then I set you up, okay, you need to talk to these people? Do you have these contacts? Or do you need someone to know? So it really is a team effort to make sure, here’s what you need to know to be successful? Do you want to work with me to do that, it’s really a two part process.
Davina: And I do think people underestimate that, that you really need to have a team, you need to put together a team of professionals who offer different, you know, information to help you put together you know, your plan and talk about what it is you’re trying to do. etc. Know, you brought up earlier, the HGTV effect. I think that has been a huge, huge driver in unsophisticated investors. Let’s say that, you know, people wanting to build wealth, and find a way to do that and feel like a real estate something that they can wrap their mind around and understand, you know, from a buyer. You know, I bought this I bought my own house kind of perspective, right. And I’m good at fixing things off or generating. Yeah. So you so that’s probably had a tremendous effect. And are you have you you’ve obviously you’ve seen a lot of people kind of come in from with that perspective, right?
Jenna: Oh, gosh, I’m in the Dallas metro area. So you know, next big town South is Waco, which is where Chip and Joanna are and Magnolia Silos. We know about their TV show and I do not know them. I’ve seen the show. I’m sure they’re lovely people and but I mean, if you look at their history, I mean, they’ve done this before they were they were successful before they started a TV show, like they got a system down that works for them, and more power to them. That is not how I do my investing. Because mostly because my husband and I would kill each other if we had to work together that closely with everything. You got to know yourself, but a lot of these people you see on TV are already successful. That’s why they get a TV show. You don’t see the hard stuff the other week.
Davina: You don’t see the years that they were living in an apartment and working those long hours at a job site trying to get stuff done or, you know, the decisions they made along the way and learn from.
Jenna: Oh, their first rental where they’re standing in the front yard, pulling out dead bushes because they can’t afford to pay someone to dig them out themselves. You know to That stuff not glamorous, right, as opposed to come in few shots of demolition. And then it’s all pretty, you don’t do the actual work and you don’t see they don’t show you what goes wrong. Because you know, they’ve gone in there and scouted it because they want to have a successful TV show something that people want to watch. But when you get in there and open this up and go, oh, no. And it’s not oh, we were able to get this little fix in. And you’ve got TV shows and sponsors and crews and funds to do that, as opposed to this is my first one, I sank everything into this house. And now I have a $20,000 wiring issue.
Where am I going to get $20,000 from? I don’t have any more, and I plan on selling this in 60 days, and now it’s going to take 90 or whatever it just compounds so quickly and having that strategy in place. Most of, I was thinking about this before our call, probably most of the investors that I work with successful investors that I work with, probably took about a minimum of about an average minimum of three years between the time they said okay, I’m going to start investing, and actually making an investment like a purchase that took that time to find funding, talk to people get educated, what could go wrong, what could go right, and then getting their funding in place, as well as the reserves when something does go wrong. I’m not saying everyone has to do that it could be longer or shorter. In depending, you know, if you inherit a million dollars, you don’t have to worry about funding, if you’re looking at something that’s under a million dollars.
But most people I think if you’re trying to do it in six minutes or six months, that’s an awfully short amount of time. I think that the reason I work with a lot of people who have been thinking about it for a while, which seems to kind of average on three years is because they know they’re getting into something big, and they want to be successful. Most of their lives, they buy three really expensive things, it’s going to be an engagement ring, your house and your car. And you know which one of those is the most expensive, right? You get into commercial property, you’re talking a whole order of magnitude more expensive than your house, your engagement ring in your car combined.
So and then put it in there with some unscrupulous people and a really hot market and lack of sophistication. You can get your lunch eaten real quick. So I can’t prevent all the problems or help you untangle all of them. But I can be part of the team that helps people do that successfully. So that’s a lot of it. It’s not so much that you can’t do but it’s how do we set you up to do it successfully? And who are the ones I can help you? I have no idea if you’re getting a good deal or not. I don’t know what those numbers are. But if you tell me the numbers work, all right, we’re going to get you protected from a legal standpoint, best we can.
Davina: Right. And you know, and that people don’t think about the obviously, with all the attorneys, he does a lot of women, law firm owners, attorneys who listen to this program certainly is the case in whatever area you’re practicing in, that people don’t know what they don’t know. And, and we’ve seen a lot of very ugly stories, and we see a lot of what they haven’t even thought about. So obviously the importance of talking with an attorney, I don’t think you have to, I think everyone who’s listened to this definitely agrees with you on that.
And it would be interesting, but for for women lawyers who are building their business, and they’re making it financially successful, if they don’t practice in real estate day to day, it’s it’s really important to get a real estate attorney and not try to do it yourself, even though, you know, you think you know, and you can read contracts and stuff like that. I know, for me, I’ve hired all kinds of attorneys for all kinds of things. Because, you know, you just can’t know everything in every different practice area. So if you’re thinking about investing in real estate, you definitely need that right?
Jenna: Well, you’re smart enough to know what you don’t know, right? I mean, if I hope I don’t have to hire a divorce attorney, but I don’t think I want to do it myself. Or if you know, there was some sort of criminal charge or something. It’s like, hey, this is serious, there are serious consequences. There’s also serious consequences to real estate. I’m not saying that if you’re doing you’re buying your own home that you’re gonna live in with your your family, and that you save up for and working with a realtor. I’m not saying you have to have an attorney for every single transaction. I’m filing your taxes, if you have one source of income, and it’s a W2 and you have no dependents and no investments or anything, you can probably file a 1040 ez right.
But as you’re getting more complicated, you add more people more factors, more things, you’re probably going to need some you know that specific legal advice you can’t get on Google. So as you grow and move in your investments, like with your law firm, right? When you start out and maybe you were in a firm and you had someone to help you and mentor you and figure that out, or you’re like me, and you’re like, hey, I’ll start this law firm thing. And you find out what you don’t know and I can’t be my own marketer and admin and lawyer and tax person. Everything else. I have a team of people that I work with to make myself successful we all do in our professional lives.
So it’s knowing, yeah, I’m a really successful or on my way to being a successful wealthy woman lawyer. How do I make sure I protect and preserve that I’m sure. Operators are great. We’re great at operating and doing what we do in our area of the law. But we need to make sure that we don’t get too far beyond ourselves and where we go, hey, I suddenly don’t really know what I’m doing so much anymore. I’ve done that and regretted it. So it’s important to kind of, if it’s an area of law, you want to develop in that something a little bit different, but for the most part, I know what I want to do, and I’m sticking to it, and I’m getting my help to be successful in it from other places. I have no idea about intellectual property, I got someone that can help me with it and more power to them. That’s an investment for both of us.
Davina: Right, exactly, exactly. It’s a wonderful way to network with other lawyers.
Jenna: Essentially, yeah.
Davina: So before we end here, tell us how we can find out more about you and connect with you. Especially if we’re thinking about investing in real estate in the Dallas, Fort Worth area.
Jenna: You can always find me on my website, or my website, which is lawbyjz, lawbyjz.com. I’m on LinkedIn, I think I have a Facebook page and Twitter. Part of why I have a strategy person, I don’t have time for social media. So I have someone that helps me get through that. Or you can send me an email, which is my name, Jenna j e n n a @law byjz.com. And I’ll be glad to talk to you I talk with a lot of people I don’t work with either because I can’t or we’re not a good fit. Or there’s other reasons not to. But I always love talking to people that have ideas and want to figure out how to be successful with them. So yeah, get in touch and see what happens, man.
Davina: Great, great. Well, I’m so happy. I’m so happy to have you here today on the podcast. We have a little technical glitch when we were first starting out, but we worked through it and I’m really glad you stuck it out with me. So we could get this recorded because I think you shared a lot of really valuable information and a lot of people are going to benefit from it.
Jenna: I hope so. Looking forward to hearing the podcast and hearing what you’ve got coming next too. I always learn a lot from other people in other practice areas going how the heck did they do that?
Davina: Exactly. Maybe that’s what the next podcast I need to come up with this one just called How the Heck Did They Do That? Alright. Thanks, Jenna. Thanks for being here.
Jenna: Have a great evening.
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