After spending his whole life on the East Coast, the sunny weather and allure of independent filmmaking attracted Gary Lipsky to Los Angeles. During his tenure producing films and even trying his hand at screenwriting, Gary unexpectedly stumbled upon his love for real estate.
“I love the business side of real estate and being able to control your own destiny,” Gary said. “In filmmaking, there’s just a lot of question marks, whereas, in real estate, you buy, execute a business plan, sell, and that’s the end.”
Gary’s first foray into real estate arose out of necessity. When his business needed an office space, he got to work converting his garage into one, and opened up the kitchen at the same time. But this was more than just a home renovation project.
“I was able to charge my business rent. And all the different pieces of the project created real value because the property value kept going up,” Gary explained. “Eventually we were able to trade up. I turned another home I bought into a single-family rental.”
His ability to transfer his creativity into the real estate market sparked an interest in the value he could create from other investments. In 2017, Gary Lipsky transitioned into real estate as a full-time career by acquiring a 42-unit property.
“I can look at a property and come up with a creative vision for that property and how we’re going to implement the business plan and pivot if need be. I’ve been able to acquire a number of deals that someone else wasn’t creative enough to handle,” Gary explained.
While he was inspired to succeed on his own, Gary Lipsky found that surrounding himself with a team helped him accelerate his business even more. In fact, it was the one thing he wished he had done earlier in his career.
“Real estate is a team sport. Coming from that business side of things, I wanted to do things on my own. But once I put together a team, we were able to really rocket fuel the business. We went from a $1.65 million deal to an over $15 million deal, and obviously, I couldn’t have done it by myself,” Gary said. “Having that team, having the confidence in other people, and sharing our skill sets really helped. I wish I had formed a team earlier in my career.”
Investing in a supportive team is a step that Gary Lipsky believes is essential to the growth and success of every real estate operation.
“There are a lot of different skill sets a person can bring. I have an executive assistant that really helps me with the paperwork and whatnot, and it lets me focus on higher-level things,” Gary reflected. “I wish I’d hired that person earlier. The cost is minimal considering if I can even just have one extra deal a year, then it more than pays for itself.”
Gary eventually transitioned from passive to active investing. His natural inclination toward entrepreneurship made this transition an easy one.
“In the beginning, I started investing passively, and that led me to get my feet wet. I still do a little bit of passive investing, but I knew I wanted to control my own destiny, and I could do that with active investing.”
Regardless of the investment class, finding a mentor is crucial to success. Gary encourages other investors looking to transition from passive to active investing to seek out mentorship, and more importantly, to find a mentor that’s right for them.
“Learn from others and partner with people with different skillsets than you so that all the bases are covered, and have a good mentor as well,” Gary said. “Do some research, ask around. There’s a lot of different mentors out there. You need to find what’s a good fit for you.
“Are you ready to take off and sprint? That might be a higher-end mentor. Do you need to be held accountable? Ask yourself, what are the things that you need, and find the mentor that fits that role.”
The impact Gary’s own mentors had on him inspired him to write a best-selling book titled Best in Class: How to Manage Your Multifamily Asset, Avoid Mistakes, and Build Wealth through Real Estate. The book examines asset management and focuses on mentoring young investors on how to take the next steps after acquiring their first deal.
Aside from establishing a team and finding a mentor, the best piece of advice Gary has to offer newer investors is to strike when the iron is hot.
“Don’t have analysis paralysis. A lot of people are like, ‘Well, the cap rates are too low, and I’m waiting for the next downturn,’ which could be five, 10 years. The best time to plant a tree is today. And it’s the same for real estate mentor.”
About the Author:
Leslie Chunta is a marketing consultant with nearly 15 years of experience in creating dynamic marketing programs and building brands for startups to enterprise organizations. She has worked agency- and client-side with high-growth companies that include Silicon Valley Bank, JPMorgan Chase, SailPoint, EMC, Spanning Cloud Apps, Ashcroft Capital, Netspend, and Universal Studios. www.thelabcollective.com
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an offer to buy or sell any securities or to make or consider any investment or course of action.