Host: Trey Stone
Trey Stone has owned over $300 million dollars’ worth of apartment complexes in greater Houston, served as the 2014 President of Houston Apartment Association, & has been investing in apartment buildings for the last 20 years.
Trey’s Company is called “Real Estate Riches.” To learn more about his company, listen to other episodes, find out how to view one of his properties, or learn about investing with him, visit the website at www.realestateriches.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Meet the Team
From Leasing Agent to Property Manager: April Conway’s Experience
April’s Career Path with Trey
Trey Stone introduces us to team member, April Conway, who has spent 13 years in the apartment industry. She started out as a college student at UH working as a leasing agent part-time. Now she’s at the corporate level, supporting multiple properties as a property manager.
April shares that she did not intend to create a career out of this but she ended up sticking around because Trey offered her the management position of a 488- unit property and she could see the opportunities for growth. She enjoys that it’s always changing, it always keeps you on your toes, and it’s never boring. April also comments that the commissions and bonuses are nice. She also realized that she had a knack for it earlier in her career when leasing agents at the time looked up to her.
“No matter what your job title is, what makes you someone who can stand out and do well is someone who enjoys people and someone who can have the emotional intelligence to be selling even if you’re not in a sales role and do it with sincerity.” Trey Stone
Mentors for April were her grandmother and her mother. Her grandmother was a VP for Harold Farb. Trey shared that Harold Farb was one of the founders of the Houston Apartment Association and he built one of the biggest empires in the apartment business in the state of Texas maybe even in the country. April’s mother was a VP for Trey
Naturally, April was raised in the business and around this industry. She remembers pretending to write lease contracts in her mother’s office. Having two women make a difference in this industry motivated and inspired her. They spent their summers visiting properties in San Antonio and Dallas and she was just always around this type of work. Trey sees April’s potential and hopes she grows into a VP role for him one day.
Exciting vs Challenging
April shares that she is most excited about learning more about “rehabs.” She has been involved in these renovations before but came into the project in the middle. Currently. April is working on one that she was able to start – it’s a project with her name on it.
April is most nervous about negotiating the bids in the process. She has to make decisions on behalf of the company. For example, waste management. She hasn’t done this type of negotiation before. Previously she’s been the sales person -not the buyer.
One of April’s biggest career successes involves a property that Trey owns. She directly added $75,000 per month to Trey’s income by adding value to a property and increasing rent. April explains that Trey knew the prices were too low for the market and because he took the time to look into it, she was encouraged to get the increases. She did some minor upgrades, stayed connected and involved with the residents, and successfully increased the rent. She accomplished this in 8 months when Trey gave her a 12 month deadline. April attributes much of the success to Trey’s mentoring style. He motivated April when everyone else was negative. Comments from others about the property being too big for her, or the property was over market-price already were shielded by Trey’s positivity.
Trey bonused April $15,000 for this success. April saved money, paid off credit and large portions of student loans throughout her career with Trey from these types of bonuses. She eventually wants to buy her own rental property and step into the real-estate side of things more than just property management. She has a proven track record as a property manager, earning a six-figure income. Trey works with April to set goals for her future success and career development. Together, they set a goal for April to set aside $50,000. She is making meaningful progress towards that goal so she can invest with Trey on a property. Trey advised on this goal of $50,000 so she’ll have a healthy investment and she’ll also be prepared for any repair and maintenance or unforeseen events. With this amount, she will be well- funded to invest and have a safety net.
April’s personal timeline is to accomplish this by age 35. Trey suspects she’ll hit the goal early. When you are a property owner investing with Trey, you are able to see the direct connection Trey has with the onsite team, supervisors and managers. His company has a roll up your sleeves, do it with your team on property, mentality. It’s gratifying to see the changes you can make in a person’s life with some of these investments and bonus opportunities for employees.
April’s Current Project
April is going to add millions of dollars of value to a property. The first phase involves rebranding. It means that she will create a valuable company culture around the property and get residents and the community excited. The rebranding involves a new company name, new logo, new marketing materials, new paint interiors, and go from there.
Normally when you rebrand a deal, there are new qualifications: background check, paycheck stubs, extensive credit checks, criminal history, rental history- no broken leases or evictions. It can create a lot of turnover, sometimes 70% of your renewals no longer fit the criteria once there has been a property upgrade. This particular property has already gone through these qualifications and criteria. They have already done extensive background and credit checks so there won’t be a lot of turnover on this property. The only challenge for this property is to get the residents to want to pay the increases.
Rebranding-changing the logo and name, etc adds buy-in from the residents and community. They see that a change is coming. They’ll know that something new is happening. It gets their attention and gets people excited. There has also been an established company culture that they value. A culture that says this company listens to resident needs. They already have a relationship, they’re used to the company, they don’t want to leave. Current residents want to stay there because of established relationships and culture. All of this makes it easier to have the residents there pay higher rent.
Current residents also have aspirations and ambitions of their own. There is a tendency to look for nicer places once they accomplish goals in their lives but in this instance, it’s giving the residents a chance to grow with the company. If they can stay where they already live but get an upgrade, they are more likely to do so where they are already comfortable and maybe still cheaper than moving to a brand-new property. It helps them feel like they’re getting something new without having to go to a next property.
Through COVID, April has demonstrated this company culture that residents appreciate. She has been very attentive, sending out text messages to communicate changes, and going above and beyond. She opened the pool and gym by appointment, letting residents know they can still use their amenities and community, but with safety precautions
Trey and April toured some of the properties in the area of this new property. April feels competitive and wants to do better. Getting everything rebranded is already going to get people excited but April really wants to wow them when they walk into the units.
The colleagues visited a property down the street that Trey’s friend owns. April connected with a supervisor there and learned a pro-tip: to keep property well-maintained. Some people feel like if you’re on a C-asset you don’t have to maintain it as well. Really, you don’t need to have the best product or top of the line product but if you keep everything clean and well maintained, it makes a difference. According to Trey, this latest property is a” C- “repositioning as a “C+.”
“There’s a temptation to see some things as normal for a C level property, older than some of the newer ones. Nevertheless, there are cheap or free changes you can still make that make a huge difference to your customers. Some cosmetic basic things can be as important as new roofs or landscaping.” Trey says learning from peers/competitors is transformative. April welcomes the feedback and is eager to learn and grow.
Prepared by Lisa Larsen, Adore Digital Marketing