In this weekly column, real estate agents across the nation share stories of the lessons they’ve learned during their time in the industry.
Richard Wheeler moved from his native UK to New York City in 2000 with dreams of being part of the fashion industry. After stints in both fashion, as the founder of The Emperor’s New Clothes, and hospitality, working the door at some of Manhattan’s hottest nightclubs, he went all-in on his interest in real estate.
Find out how he put his eclectic background and boots-on-the-ground knowledge of NYC real estate to work as part of Kings Capital RE.
How long have you been in the business?
For over 20 years, I have been in the nightlife business. [I’ve been in] the real estate business for nine years. It started as a conversation at my nightlife work with real estate friends. I would ask them questions about real estate, as I was fascinated.
They shared the same fascination with my job. This led to me studying every facet of real estate.
Finally, I had somebody to call for guidance needed. I took every penny I had saved for 15 years and assembled enough for a deposit on a small three-unit in Brooklyn.
One friend (who today is my partner) decided he would do the same, and he helped us get another three-unit simultaneously. That’s where the journey truly began.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In five years, I will focus only on high-level asset management and deal sourcing for the company. Our company is undergoing exciting scaling, and we are expanding outside of NYC across the Sunbelt.
A personal goal is that I envision myself and my family in a house I’ve designed, somewhere in Long Island or upstate on a lake.
What’s one big lesson you’ve learned in real estate?
The biggest lesson I learned in real estate is patience. I believe part of my success has been the ability to picture years ahead, always. It helps you see the forest through the trees and stay focused on the most important parts of your business plan and future. It also keeps you sane.
Otherwise, it’s easy to lose focus within the day-to-day challenges that are always part of business and life. There have been so many times you think there is no way to fix this. In most cases, with this attitude, you find a solution. It helps mitigate the emotions and rationale that are needed.
How did you learn it?
I studied every listing online in NYC (for a long time) until I decided the greatest growth could be in East Brooklyn. I then took the trains a few times a week and walked every street of Bushwick, Bed-Stuy to East New York.
I used the most obvious assumptions an inexperienced buyer could make. I figured, stay near places with good transportation back to Manhattan. I would go as far out as I was comfortable with to find properties that I may have a slim chance to be able to afford.
I then wrote down how many were being renovated on every single block. My conclusion was to buy in a block with no renovated properties but not too far away. I picked two properties that everybody told me not to buy (the area did not feel safe [they said]). Nevertheless, I went ahead because of this simple approach.
I believed that these blocks would see a similar demand as the better ones 15 minutes away — in time. As it turned out, it was a very short wait; six months later, we were offered 60 percent more than we paid for them!
What advice would you give to new agents?
I would advise a five-year plan — and stick to it. Don’t let the noise and hurdles stop you; believe in [your plan], and stay focused. There will always be times when you doubt yourself or think about giving up. Don’t. It won’t be easy. Besides, if it was, that sounds a little boring to me?
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Christy Murdock is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant and the owner of Writing Real Estate. She is also the creator of the online course Crafting the Property Description: The Step-by-Step Formula for Reluctant Real Estate Writers. Follow Writing Real Estate on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.