December 4, 2018

JF1554: Division 1 Baseball Player Hits A Real Estate Home Run In First Year with Paul Swack

After college, Paul thought that selling pizza and beer at a restaurant he opened was the answer to financial success. While that may work for some people, after 10 years, Paul was about $140k in debt. He always had an interest in real estate so he finally quit the restaurant business and jumped into real estate. Hear how he’s been able to make over $300 in his first 16 months. If you enjoyed today’s episode remember to subscribe in iTunes and leave us a review!

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Paul Swack Real Estate Background:

  • Has done over $18 million is sales as a real estate agent in just 16 months
  • Ex division 1 baseball player, graduated and lost all his money in the restaurant business, then got his real estate license
  • Based in Pismo Beach, CA
  • Say hi to him at
  • Best Ever YT Channel: Gary Vaynerchuck’s channel

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Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners, how are you doing? Welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Joe Fairless, and this is the world’s longest-running daily real estate investing podcast. We only talk about the best advice ever, we don’t get into any of that fluffy stuff. With us today, Paul Swack. How are you doing, Paul?

Paul Swack: I’m doing great, Joe. Thank you.

Joe Fairless: I’m glad to hear it, and you are welcome, my friend. A little bit about Paul – he has done over 18 million dollars in sales as a real estate agent in just 16 months. What that breaks down to is approximately $300,000 in commission. He’s done about 30 transactions in 16 months approximately. He’s an ex-division one baseball player; graduated, lost all his money in the restaurant business, and then got his real estate license and made 300k over the last 16 months. Based in Pismo Beach – did I say that right, Pismo Beach?

Paul Swack: You got it.

Joe Fairless: Pismo Beach, California. With that being said, Paul, do you wanna give the Best Ever listeners a little bit more about your background and your current focus?

Paul Swack: Yeah, that’d be great. Thanks again for having me, I really appreciate it. Like you said, the background was I was a college athlete, baseball was my entire life growing up, and kind of my plan on the future as well. I went and had a great scholarship and played division one at Virginia Commonwealth University; I traveled across the country there.

I came back home after college with the idea of trying to get into the real estate business. I was very entrepreneurial-minded. I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad in college, and that changed my perspective of what I wanted to do with my life.

After college, I thought selling pizza and beer was gonna be my road to millions, and —

Joe Fairless: I’d buy it from you. You’ve got one customer over here…

Paul Swack: Yeah… [laughs] I got started and opened a small restaurant here locally where I live. Take-out delivery, small little bar, pizza, wings… I opened up another location a few years down the road. After ten years, I was about $145,000 in debt, never really made a lot of money in the course of any single year. I worked seven days a week… I took off less than probably seven days a year for ten years. It was just a long process, and I finally got to a point at about 33 years old where I kind of told myself if I really wanted things to change, I had to change what I was doing… And I got out of the restaurant business. It was really hard, because it was something that I put so much time and energy into.

My passion and focus was definitely with real estate during those ten years. I did some different seminars, I would read books, but my financial struggle had just always seemed like it was such a stretch away from anywhere that I could possibly be… And I finally just made a change. That’s ultimately what happened.

Joe Fairless: What was the breaking point, or the tipping point? …however you wanna think about it.

Paul Swack: Yeah, it was my age. It was me continuing to be in the same position as time went on, and I have really big goals, and I’m a big thinker, and now it was like “Okay, well, if I keep doing what I’m doing the next five years, I can probably tell you exactly where I’m gonna be”, and that was the biggest change. I felt I was a smart guy, I felt that I have the energy, I felt that I have the work ethic, I just didn’t think the restaurant vehicle was gonna be what I thought it was and what was gonna help me get to where I wanted.

And like I said, in the back of my mind, real estate was always there. It wasn’t that I made real estate — that was an afterthought; it was something that I always was interested in. My family owns property, I knew a lot of people in the business locally… I was always drawn to it, and the real estate decision was one of the reasons that helped me close the restaurants and get out of them, just to make that transition into real estate. So I did that.

Joe Fairless: Did you have a significant other during those ten years?

Paul Swack: I had a girlfriend the first half of that…

Joe Fairless: [laughs] Then [unintelligible [00:05:12].06]

Paul Swack: Yeah, I mean, it’s hard whenever you’re working that much, and basically she was ready to get married and start a family and I wasn’t, and that was the breaking point of that. I just wasn’t feeling it, I wasn’t in a good position for myself, so the next five years I was single running the business and doing all that… And I made that decision just based on — ultimately, I didn’t wanna be 40 in the same position. Like I said, I was just passing by my goals, and so when I would stop and think about where I wanted to be, it wasn’t in line.

Joe Fairless: Okay. What did you do with the two pizza places?

Paul Swack: One of them I closed down completely, lost $131,000 on that one. The other one I ended up selling the business off, and at least recouping a little bit of funds with that, but not much… And they ended up changing the business out into something else. I didn’t want somebody running what I had built, but they ended up doing a different type of business in the food industry, and then I was kind of cleaned out of that, and paying off debt, and that was my focus – to try to get out of debt, get into real estate, hopefully make enough money to live on, and eventually get into what my goals were, which would be real estate investing.

Joe Fairless: So by the end of those ten years you were $145,000 in debt?

Paul Swack: Yeah.

Joe Fairless: So that’s from a monetary standpoint, and a lot of times people – deservedly so – focus on money, from an experience standpoint was that a successful experience or not. What were some positive take-aways that you got from those ten years? Clearly, the money thing – that didn’t work out; but that’s just one way of scoring a venture, assuming that you applied the lessons learned to future ventures… So what are some positive things that came out of it?

Paul Swack: That’s a great question, and I’ve answered that a lot of times, because I honestly feel without those ten years I would have had none of the success I’ve had this last year. I’ve built the best relationships in the area with some of the greatest people. I got to know commercial real estate from doing the restaurants, doing the leases, I was involved in a lot of different things with community-wide events in a couple different towns that the restaurants were in. My work ethic, like I said, was definitely something that I think has helped me on the real estate side, because I was literally working seven days a week, every day pretty much all the hours, because whenever I wasn’t making money, I even took on a job on top of the restaurants to help pay the restaurants. So I was working at a furniture place for five years… It was just a lot of time.

So the character, I think, of building, the struggle that I went through was definitely something that I think added to the character and the drive of what helped me this last year. But to answer your question, I would say the relationships I was able to build, the struggle of having to find a way to make things work whenever there wasn’t an option to make it work, turning on and off your power bill because you couldn’t pay it, and making literally every option of keeping lights on at different times of the year was a game in itself.

Then there were great times of the year… I live in a very touristy area, so summer is great, winter is slow, and you just had to know how to play the game. I don’t know if that answers your question totally, but I do feel that the commercial real estate side of the leases, the relationships I built, the struggle from working so much – those were the main things I think that were the benefits I got out of it.

Joe Fairless: In the last 16 months you’ve made approximately $300,000 in commission. How did you do that?

Paul Swack: Well, like I said, the biggest thing was getting into real estate. I got my license, and I kind of hit the ground running. It goes back to what I said about relationships – I think putting myself in a good position with the people I surrounded myself with (my brokers, my lender), the jump-start that I had with knowing enough people in the area, when I got into real estate, I had people reaching out to me; they were looking for this, looking for that, maybe just interested in some things here and there… I sold a couple properties, which led to a couple referrals, I had a couple open houses that ended up turning into five or six deals out of one open house… And I just kept running with it.

I didn’t know what I was doing, I answered questions the best that I could; I would reach out to my broker and different people that I was working with in the industry and I asked every dumb question there was. I researched everything that I didn’t know, and I just kept going. So I would wake up, and wanna go to work, and $300,000 in one year – I didn’t make $300,000 in ten years at the restaurants, so…

Joe Fairless: You lost half of that though over ten years…

Paul Swack: You’re right. If you even just took tax returns, I don’t think I’ve made 300k over the ten years just in profits in business. So for me, that’s exciting, but then on top of that, I don’t know — whenever you say “How did I do it?” I really think there’s a little bit of luck with some things that might fall your way…

Joe Fairless: Like what?

Paul Swack: I did an open house and I sold six houses within two months on one open house. I don’t think that is very common.

Joe Fairless: You did an open house where — oh, you got new people coming in… I’m not a real estate agent, so bear with me… So you got new people coming in and you used them as–

Paul Swack: I did an open house, I sold that house that day to a client, but I was also the listing agent. The client that bought that house – I sold the house that he had locally in order to buy that house. I met another lady that day that I sold her house and bought her another house, and also her best friend.

Joe Fairless: Wow, you cleaned up!

Paul Swack: Yeah, and that was just a three-hour open house.

Joe Fairless: [laughs] That happens every time…

Paul Swack: Yeah, exactly. So I think that some of that – I also feel that I asked the right questions, I followed up, I put myself in the right position to be able to handle that.

Joe Fairless: What are some of the questions you’re referring to that you asked?

Paul Swack: You know, I’m not a hard sales guy, so for me whenever someone walked in and they were asking me questions about the neighborhood, or they were asking me questions about the home, I do my best to give them the answers that they’re looking for. I do have a lot of knowledge of the area, which is great, because I’m from here… So I feel like I let people talk, I understand what their needs are, and then eventually I ask them if they’re working with anybody that’s helping them look for a home, or if there’s anything that I can help them with. A lot of times they just say they’re not, and I will put myself out there in front of them and say “I’d love to be able to work with you. Can I get your contact information and follow up? What are you doing the rest of today? Can I show you a couple properties that I have in mind that you might be interested in?” and I kind of try to build that relationship really quick.

So instead of letting them leave with either a business card or nothing, I almost try to have another meeting set up, and try to help them with what their needs are and what their timeframes are. I think a lot of people that I’ve talked to get hesitant because they think that’s a hard sale, where I don’t ever feel like it’s a hard sale. I feel like I’m giving them the best service. So I think some of that I definitely do, which has helped me… But I don’t think there’s a right way or a wrong way of doing it; that’s just what’s worked for me.

Joe Fairless: What’s been something that’s been more challenging than you thought it would be as you’ve got going over the last 16 months?

Paul Swack: Learning how to balance being really busy and growing mentally into what my goals are for 2019 and understanding how to get there. What I mean by that is you get started in real estate and you’re kind of learning the process, you’re learning the disclosures… Like I said, my brokers and my lender have been amazing as far as helping me understand a lot of stuff, and I bugged them as much as I possibly could…But as I got busier and would have six or seven deals going at one time, getting to the point of being able to bring on help was challenging, and getting to the point of – I hired a real estate coach to be able to help push me into what my goals are for 2019; it was a big financial commitment.

Joe Fairless: How much?

Paul Swack: How much did I spend?

Joe Fairless: Yeah, invest.

Paul Swack: $10,000 for a six-month coaching program that I’m on month four in, and it’s been amazing.

Joe Fairless: Awesome.

Paul Swack: And it was me having to grow as a person, and investing into myself I think was probably the biggest struggle. It came back to being an athlete – there were many times where I just knew I needed to work on certain things in order to go to that next level, of being a division one player, or whatever my goals were. It’s very similar in business. I think Mark Cuban says it best, that a business is a 24-hour day, seven days a week sport, and someone’s right behind you, trying to take your job. I follow that a lot, I believe in that, so I try to continue working on myself to get to where I wanna go.

Joe Fairless: Based on your experience over the last 16 months as a real estate agent, as well as your experience for ten years prior to that, what is your best advice ever for real estate investors or real estate professionals?

Paul Swack: My best advice ever is definitely investing in yourself. I think that that is ultimately the best thing that anybody can do. For instance, for me listening to your podcast – I could pick any podcast out of your entire bunch and learn something every single time. I think that that type of an investment into yourself – reading a book, going to a seminar, being involved in community stuff that might benefit you and learning things about your industry, investing, or as an agent… The deals – I think we all come across good deals, we all come across ways of how to evaluate a deal, but ultimately it’s what we think about and what we know, and our experience, and I definitely think investing in yourself is the best thing anybody could do.

Joe Fairless: We’re gonna do a lightning round. Are you ready for the Best Ever Lightning Round?

Paul Swack: I’m ready.

Joe Fairless: Alright, let’s do it. First, a quick word from our Best Ever partners.

Break: [00:15:18].19] to [00:16:27].07]

Joe Fairless: Best ever book you’ve recently read? …speaking of investing in yourself.

Paul Swack: Oh man, recently I’ve been so hooked on podcasts and YouTube videos…

Joe Fairless: Alright, we’ll go with that. How about a YouTube video or a YouTube channel that you like?

Paul Swack: I’m big on the Gary Vaynerchuk. I think that the social media technology side of things in investing and as a real estate agent is definitely something that keeps me on the edge of my seat, trying to stay up to date with what direction I think that’s going in our industry; I think it’s huge. He’s not necessarily just in real estate, but I love your podcast, I like the Pat Hiban podcast… I do a lot of audios and I try to do that as I’m doing any type of workout, or anything like that… So I’ve just been hooked on those, and I would say flipping between you and them; I would just continue to do that.

Joe Fairless: What’s a mistake you’ve made on a transaction so far?

Paul Swack: A mistake I’ve made on a transaction? Gosh, I would just say more towards the beginning not understanding some disclosures and having everything buttoned up at the end of a deal. I’ve had to go back and chase my tail on a few things, and not understanding the importance of being organized. I would say that was probably the biggest mistake, and a good learning lesson right away to be able to understand that as an agent you’re kind of like an attorney at times, with all this paperwork and different things that you are responsible for having done right, so… I learned quick that having an organization and having other people double-check some of your work was a good thing.

Joe Fairless: Best ever way you like to give back?

Paul Swack: I love giving back. It’s the number one reason that my goals are so high. I’ll do anything for anybody, but my whole thing is probably a little bit more committed towards the sports world, and kids. I wanna do a lot for the community that I’m in… Like I said, maybe building some different things for kids to be involved in athletics-wise, and helping anybody in the industry that could have results that I’ve had over the next few years for them as well; getting somebody started that is looking for a change in their own life.

Joe Fairless: How can the Best Ever listeners learn more about what you’ve got going on and get in touch with you?

Paul Swack: I would say Facebook and Instagram. The Swack Real Estate Group on Facebook is the best way to follow what I’ve got going on. I think over the next five years I’ve got a lot of goals very similar to yourself on what you’ve done. I’m gonna try to do my best of video-ing and documenting that process, and trying to keep it into something that people can plug into and watch the growth from the beginning of what it has been the last 16 months, to the next 5-10 years… So that’d be great.

Instagram it’s Paul Swack Real Estate. I do have a website, which is more just based as an agent; it’s not necessarily for someone to follow much… But I would say those two things are the best.

Joe Fairless: Paul, thank you so much for being on the show. I enjoyed our conversation, learning about what you learned, and the assets you got from your ten years in the restaurant business, and how you’ve applied that to real estate. The community relationships and the events that you’re doing, and the relationships that you had with the people, as well as the experiences you had looking at the commercial leases… Certainly very apples to apples applicable.

Then the struggle and the perseverance, and just seeing things through when it didn’t look like you could, but you did, and then applying that to what you’re doing now. Very impressive, and it’s not a surprise that you’re doing what you’re doing, at the level you’re doing it, within a very short period of time relatively speaking.

Thank you so much for being on the show. I enjoyed our conversation. I hope you have a best ever day, and we’ll talk to you soon.

Paul Swack: Thanks so much. I really appreciate it, and let’s revisit in a year and see where we’re at.

Joe Fairless: Deal!

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