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Steven Morris: Software Engineer With 18 Real Estate Deals

Steven Morris: Software Engineer With 18 Real Estate Deals

Please introduce yourself. 

My name is Steven, and I am a small investor from Dayton, Ohio. My wife and I began investing in 2019. Since then, we have completed 18 transactions and presently manage 25 units. I’m a software engineer by trade, working as a DevOps engineer in Microsoft’s Azure cloud, managing and implementing systems.

How did you get started in the real estate business?

My Grandfather founded our family business, M&R Packaging. After NAFTA was implemented in the 1990s, the family business went under. As a child, I had a lot of entrepreneurial inclinations and plenty of influence from my grandfather. My grandfather had passed away before the business folded. I recall clearing out the office as a child to prepare for the sale of the building. Although the first half of my life fell apart financially and my family members went on to do different fields, I have always had the entrepreneurial spirit and wanted to rebuild what we have lost. My family would have been far better off if they had placed their money in real estate and only utilized the manufacturing business for cashflow instead of taking a gamble on manufacturing packaging. Manufacturing is undoubtedly a difficult business and starting from scratch now simply does not make sense. I decided to start studying and reading books about establishing a business, and eventually decided on buying property and renting it out. I studied a variety of materials before opening a HELOC on my personal property and implemented the BRRRR approach. That was three years ago, and we have made significant progress since then.

What are some hot markets for real estate that you are excited about?

I have yet to venture into other markets. If you ask anyone in the Dayton area, they will tell you that our part of Ohio is a fantastic area, if you purchase for cashflow and know where to invest.

How do you source your real estate deals?

I’ve acquired deals through auctions, cold calling, and networking. I’ve never purchased a property advertised with an agent as an investment.

What are some checks and balances you’ve put in place to protect your real estate transactions?

The offer must be 60-70 percent of the ARV after repairs. If the agreement does not include equity, I cannot utilize the BRRRR approach to cash out and continue, and I will most likely lose money. I believe that you must purchase properly, off market, and control the deal, not always, but most of the time, at least on the smaller items.

What is one piece of advice you would give someone starting their real estate career?

Contractors are the most difficult part. Give them a few menial duties until you are certain that you can entrust them with major tasks. Can you delegate to them without worry, or are they continually making excuses? Only work with individuals who make your life simpler; if someone makes your life more difficult, remove them from the equation as soon as possible.

What is one software you use for your business and recommend to others?

Tenant cloud is what I utilize for my property management tasks. It has been beneficial for my work.

What is your superpower in life?

I’m not afraid to fail since I have personally seen what total failure in business looks like and how it impacts a family. It doesn’t worry me. Instead, I have learnt that if you don’t press on, you’ll go nowhere. 

What is a failure you’ve had in life that set you up for eventual success?

I thought it would be a good idea to relocate to California and be a beach bum when I was 19 (I’m now 36). This was both a bad plan and a wake-up call that put me back on track to success.

What is one book that has influenced your life the most? Why? I’m a novice history enthusiast who started by reading all of Winston Churchill’s works a few years ago, which led me to Gibbons’ The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. An intriguing aspect of our history is that the powerful have made their money through making loans or owning property from antiquity. It is the same today as it was in Ancient Rome and Greece. In fact, multi-family existed in Ancient Rome, and senators were the lenders. You must have some faith in the process and let it to lead to new opportunities.

  • June 13, 2022
  • 4 min read
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