Financial literacy is a top priority for students who want to graduate from high school and prepare for real-world responsibilities. However, according to a CNBC report, there are no federal guidelines for teaching personal finance in schools. As individual states attempt to introduce legislation to strengthen personal finance requirements in high schools, many are facing a surge in passing legislation, according to a recent Forbes article. Concerns about the cost of professional training and replacing other curricula have a way of stalling eventual adoption.
Without proper financial training, the younger generation faces increased problems after graduation. A lack of understanding of mortgages, loans, obtaining credit and investment knowledge puts them at a disadvantage in creating a stable financial life. For example, some headlines suggest that Gen-Z is less interested in buying a home, but it’s not because they want to rent for the rest of their lives. Instead, they see rising housing costs and feel powerless without the financial know-how to become buyers.
The median US home price in the first quarter of 2022 was $428,700, a 30% increase over 2020 numbers. And commercial real estate is even more expensive. The trillion dollar industry is an investment area that real estate professionals are interested in getting the younger generation involved. Although it may seem like a market full of buyers who are putting away large sums of cash, some individuals have learned techniques and strategies with no spare capital and want to teach what they know.
One such person is real estate investor Reno Davis. At just 22 years old, he proved there was a way into real estate for younger investors without large cash reserves. He hopes others can learn from his journey to a prosperous financial life. “I was excited to find a way into real estate that didn’t require a lot of capital,” says Davis. “I needed a way out of my circumstances and wholesale real estate was my escape. Today I own my own real estate company and I am very successful at what I do, but it takes hard work.”
Davis went from a landscaping job to a successful real estate entrepreneur with over 4.5 million Instagram followers. I recently spoke with him about his current role in real estate, the knowledge he’s gained on his new career path, and how others can follow his journey.
Rod Berger: Okay, when we talked earlier, you mentioned real estate as your escape. what exactly did you mean by that? What did you do before you entered the real estate industry and how did you get into it?
Reno Davis: I’m from Miami and we all know how big and competitive the real estate market is there. I started out as a gardener, but the crazy Florida sun was wearing me out. I was at a point in my life where I knew there was a better way to make money. I didn’t want to spend my working hours doing tedious manual work. So I decided to explore my options, but I needed something that would allow me to be my own boss.
Real estate was the only self-employment opportunity that caught my eye because I saw the potential in the market, especially in Miami, where home sales were booming. Once I realized that real estate was what I wanted, I had to figure out what type of real estate I wanted to take.
I started looking for options and came across real estate wholesale. I had never heard of it before and it intrigued me. So I spent weeks scouring the internet and reading everything I could find on it. I consumed all the content I could find on Google, YouTube and social media platforms.
Once I had a firm grasp on what it was all about, I decided to invest in myself by buying courses from people who were already successful in this field. Then, armed with the knowledge from the course and reading all over the internet, I moved into the implementation phase.
It took me about a month to get my first wholesale offer, which was the moment that let me know I could do it. Then I think I closed another deal in two weeks and it’s been uphill ever since.
Berger: Describe wholesale real estate a little more. I bet a lot of people don’t know about it as much as other real estate industries. Could you briefly explain what it is?
Davis: Real estate wholesaling is when you find someone who wants to sell their home, make an offer, and then sell it to a buyer. The wholesaler makes an offer to the buyer, negotiates it with the buyer at a higher price and keeps the difference as profit. That’s the easiest way to describe the process.
Berger: So it’s basically real estate arbitrage?
Davis: [Laughs] Yes, it somehow works that way and you don’t need crazy money to get started. If the circumstances are right, you can start with no money.
Berger: Let me know a little more about your network. How did you come to network in a space where you were new to learning? Did you do research online while meeting people in the real world?
Davis: After purchasing wholesale courses, they put their contact information at the end. So I contacted them and they were also in Miami. I called them and said, ‘Hey, I’m really into it and I want to get into it. Can you help me get started?’ They usually gave me tips on what to do and told me to get back to them when I got a leader to guide me through the process. That’s how I branched out to meet them and other people.
Berger: I imagine others in the field don’t do wholesale in the same way. How exactly do you operate and how have you scaled it while differentiating yourself in the industry?
Davis: In the beginning, I was fine doing the field work myself, but I knew that if I wanted to grow the business, I would have to adapt. I needed help and people. So I found a business partner and now we own an LLC that currently employs ten people who do all the legwork. They make cold calls, drive for dollars, and post ads around town for our business.
Whenever they get a lead, me and my partner take care of the rest and close the deal. We then pay them a bonus on top of their hourly wage if the lead they bring results in a sale. So that’s how we scaled.
Our wholesale process takes responsibility for the household. When we find the ideal property, we make a minimum down payment and then draw up a contract with a clause stating that if we don’t find a buyer for the house within 30 days, it will be void. So basically, no harm, no foul. It was an effective strategy for us and a big reason why I was able to close over 30 deals on my own in the first year.
Berger: Quick question. What drives dollars?
Davis: It’s when you get in your car, drive around and look for potential homes to sell under contract.
Berger: How would you say being in the real estate world has influenced you? Do you have any qualities that you have mastered in selling real estate?
Davis: I live a fast-paced life full of chaos on a daily basis and I do everything quickly. But it doesn’t necessarily work that way in this industry. In South Florida, this business takes a lot of patience. I’m not known for being patient, but I’m learning. I’m still an enthusiast who will run through a brick wall to get anything I can think of, but wholesaling real estate has taught me that patience is sometimes the virtue that gets the fastest results. Ironic, but it’s true.
It is important not to mistake patience for lethargy or slowness. You can’t have a lazier mentality in this game. When you’re just starting out, you’re the new kid on the block, so you have to go out and be loud and be heard. Home and people will not come to you. You have to reach out to people, send 100 emails a day and make 100 phone calls to people.
It’s about staying persistent, personable, and sometimes even willing to be edgy. No one is going to market you but you until you get to the point where you are worth marketing. Wholesaling real estate is a hustle and you won’t move forward until you get it right.
Berger: Are you planning your real estate business in the future? Are you thinking of expanding into other areas of the industry?
Davis: I’ve been toying with getting into commercial real estate for a while, like buying offices and leasing them to suitors. It’s another good way to squeeze more juice out of the real estate value chain.
On a philanthropic note, I plan to one day start my own charity to help the less fortunate. I want to create a foundation that donates basic things to the poor and homeless. I’m in the process of developing and adding to the mental picture, but that’s the vision. I want to give back to the community in some way.
Until financial literacy is further expanded into educational models, many of today’s youth will look to self-made people for answers and advice. Knowledge gained through social media channels, accessible resources and personalized stories will shape and drive future opportunities.
Ren Davis’ advice on how to make it in real estate is straightforward: learn from those who’ve done it, follow in their footsteps, work at it with everything you’ve got, and scale and delegate as soon as possible.
Like all investing, there are risks, but Davis used cost-effective principles to get into real estate by selling entire properties and not buying a fraction of a house, which is popular with real estate crowdfunding. There’s a piece of the pie for everyone in the industry, he says, and as he reiterates, “Wholesale levels the playing field for people with much smaller budgets.”
The interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.