Thanks for your interest and welcome to my site.
I love to travel. Seems like I'm always planning a trip. I started traveling while I was in high school (many years ago). I was fortunate to be selected as foreign exchange student. I spent the summer of 1977 in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Germany and Moscow. The travel bug bit me & to this day I haven't stopped traveling. I have visited many places in my travels & have many wonderful photos and memories.
Beachtowns are some of my favorite travel destinations and that's what inspired me to create this website. Thus...
Professor Beach was Born!
In my continuous search for interesting waterfront Real Estate opportinites I often come across great locations to visit and invest in. Professor Beach's focus will be uncovering, investigating and reporting on the Worlds Best Beach Towns. The Professor will bring you interesting and entertaining information and opportunities from each of these special locations. In the pursuit of global real estate opportunities I also often meet quite interesting people. I'll be introducing you to some of these unique characters I have met in my travels. We'll focus mostly on Beach Town locations. I've always said it's fun to visit the worlds best beach locations, but what really matters is that there is great town up the road to eat, drink, shop, sleep and be entertained in. Favorite places that quickly come to mind are Delray Beach in Florida, Laguna Beach in California, Carmel in California, Cruz Bay in St. John, US Virgin Islands, Haleiwa on Ohau Hawaii, Provo in Turks and Cacios, Anguilla, George Town in Grand Cayman, Playa Del Carmen in Mexico, Loreto in Baja, Mexico, Sanya China and the list goes on...
Professor Beach will be writing weekly blog entries with links and information on the Worlds Best Beach Towns that my many correspondents and I uncover.
Here's my story:
I've been selling real estate for almost 30 years. My 1st deal was in my small hometown of Newark, New York, while I was in my 1st year of college. Guess I should start at the beginning... I grew up in a small rural, upstate, New York town near Rochester. That real estate market has stayed pretty neutral for as long as I've been in the business. It's not a
California, East Coast or Florida market. There have been only slight ups and downs.
My family is in the residential real estate business. My father had a local residential real estate company, so I grew up in the business. I believe I was born an entrepreneur. As a young guy, I would sell flowers in front of my father's office. I also sold peanut brittle when I was a cub scout (I won a watch for my efforts). There was a little warehouse behind my
father's real estate office. I used to buy bicycles, fix them up and sell them, and then I graduated to cars. Because of the family business, I had access to estate sales. Once in a while, there would be a car for sale in the estate. I would buy the car for about $500. Then, I would fix it up and sell it for a couple grand. This was all at 15 and 16 years old.
My first real estate deal was a $29,900 house that I bought the year I went to college. Actually, I'd gone to college to be a car dealer. I spent half of my time in college studying the automotive business. I bought my first investment property with a student loan. I'm talking 25 years ago (I'm in my mid-40's now). It was a VA assumable mortgage I put down approx $2,500 and assumed the mortgage. I took the house, cleaned it up a little bit and rented it for a couple of years. Then I sold it, and made a little profit, so I bought another house. It just kind of went on from there. I bought inexpensive houses that were wrecks and fixed them up. I never did a lot of heavy repair or maintenance myself. I would hire out the work. My time was too important to be spent on the physical labor.
I was excited because there I was, an 18-year-old kid, buying a house. Maybe I had the benefit of my family being in the real estate business, but my father did not buy and sell houses, so that wasn't part of my upbringing. I kind of understood real estate and I had my real estate license at that time. Actually, now that I think about it, I got a commission on selling that house to myself, and that helped pay for my down payment. It was a creative transaction - a student loan and some commission. I mean, I didn't have any money. I was 18 years old and taking on the responsibility of running the ads and getting it rented. I was in college in Michigan, so my mother collected the rent for me and paid the mortgage payment for me. I think she had to do an eviction once for me too, when I was away at college. I came back from college in the summer and sold the place and made a few bucks and went on to buy the next house.
I was building my entrepreneurial muscle by selling peanut brittle as a cub scout to having sold $200 million in Pre Construction condos in the 2005 and 2006 market. It was a whole series of processes throughout the early years. I started out with those couple of single family homes,
selling them for a $10,000 to $15,000 profit. Then I graduated to doing some multi-family homes that I kept for many years and rented out - they had a good cash flow and I was able to pay off the mortgage. I still have 2 of those houses that I've had for over 15 years. The mortgages are now paid off, and it feels pretty good when the rent checks come in, knowing I
can finally put that money in my pocket instead of using it to pay the mortgage payment as I did for the 15 years. That was a 15-year process, so, yes, growth has taken time, but I have consistently worked to build that up over the years.
The houses I bought started out as single family and then progressed to multi-family. Then, I bought some land. I started developing the land in to building lots. I was buying farmland and larger 100+ acre parcels and splitting it off into 5 acre lots. I got hooked up with a builder, and we developed the land into housing tracks. I sold the houses and the land, so that
was kind of my next progression in the business. This was the longest "job" I had - selling new construction homes for a builder. Over the years, these houses ranged in price from $80,000 to $300,000. My average sale price ranged from $160,000.00 to $170,000 for many years. I sat in the model home six days a week, and worked every weekend. I worked all the time - 70 to 75 hours per week. I paid my dues, sold a lot of new homes, and learned a lot about customer follow up and customer service. I was very successful. I took on about 3 salespeople for this builder, and helped him grow his sales from 20-30 per year up to about 70 units per year.
In 2004, the builder decided I was making too much money, so they wanted to take my salespeople in-house and gave me the option to work in-house at a substantially reduced income. Obviously, I didn't want to do that, in fact, I was very upset because I had spent 10 to 15 years of my life building this up for the company, and they were basically shutting me down or
taking my sales operation over. I got mad and quit. As I was looking for something new to do, I came across the Florida pre-construction condo business. I invested in two Florida pre-construction condos. I was able to watch & learn how that business operated. I got my Real
Estate Brokers License in Florida, and then brokered 200 pre-construction condo sales. These were condos ranging in price between $250,000 to over $1 million dollars. I sold a substantial amount of Real Estate in Miami, Baltimore and Chicago since 2005, and I don't live in any of those areas. I dare say that I was one of the top real estate sales agents in the Miami area in 2005. It's a mystery to the other real estate people there. They wonder how I can do that and not live there. I used the power of the Internet. I also used the power of Networking. One of my high school buddies introduced me to a large developer in Miami. He had close to 1,000 condos to be sold in a 2 year period. We hit it off & I had my developer connection and access to $100's of millions worth of pre-construction condos in Florida and other locations. I had the buyer list & the inventory list. I just needed to put them together.
I give full credit to my friend & mentor, Rich Levin. Rich the one mentor I was working with during my transition time. He was a real estate business building coach. I had also done a program with Frank McKinney. Frank was the "big picture - think outside the box" kind of guy. He helped me understand that there were huge opportunities out there and much bigger
things that I could do. But, I had to build the mindset to do them first. Luckily, I had those gentlemen to help me. I had created in my mind, the kind of new business opportunity that I might have been profitable for me. Then I hired a computer tech who designed my website. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have gotten such a quick start. In six months, we accomplished what a lot of people would have messed around with for 2 or 3 years. The only reason I accomplished it in 6 months was because I was paying top dollar to learn how to start my business in the Internet Marketing business. And, I was very glad I did. That gave me a really big quick start. If I hadn't had that head start, I probably would have stumbled around with it and then given up. I support the use of mentors and coaches 100%.
My webpage was just one page. It was really simple. I don't think people believe me when I say that I sold close to $200,000,000 in real estate off that simple website. The website was just really simple. It was focused. It was targeted.
I created a good follow-up program. That's what my 20 years of working in the Real Estate Sales Industry has taught me. It's really important to follow up with your customers and to provide the best customer service you can. Many of the real estate people I bump into don't have that type of mentality. I think that is wrong. I know one of the reasons why I am successful is because I have always provided great customer service.
I recently received an email from one of my customers that bought a condo from me about two years ago. He was looking for some photos. Most guys would just ignore this type of request, but I found the photos of the building they bought in, and I emailed the photos within a day. He was happy, he will tell his friends - and that just means more business for me. But,
then again, I learned that from the new housing sales that I was in. Details and follow up are important.
When I began my new business opportunity in pre construction condo sales, my goal was to do one deal in the month of January 2005. With my newly created webpage to sell pre-construction condos in Florida, I sold 15 pre-construction condos $9 million dollars worth, in the month of January - and I did all of that, pretty much, in one week, while living in upstate New York. To compare, I did about 5 years worth of sales compared to what I would have done if I was still in the builder's new home business. That was really exciting, and I got a real charge out of that. My family and friends were thrilled for me.
At the end of 2007, I had sold almost $200 million dollars worth of pre-construction condos. It was risky & took a lot of hard work, but I did it!
My success has been a 25+ year process. I came from a middle class conservative family. I didn't have loads of money behind me to do these things. I remember getting my loans from the local banker back in the days when they pretty much shook your hand and gave you a chance at giving you a loan. I had to do the same things that everybody else has to do too - I had mortgages on houses. When I bought the farmland, the farmers would actually carry the mortgage for me. I used creative financing wherever, whenever I could.
My success is based on daily actions. The lack of taking action is what keeps people from being the greatest they can be. Without action, those people stay miserable and sometimes do know how they can pay their bills. Successful people take action. It's not always glamorous and never easy, but successful people see the need to do it and then they take action and
Success is really just planting your feet on the ground and focusing on one or two different ways to become an expert at what you do. Then, if you want to divert from there, it's okay at that point. Stay focused. You can't be a scattered entrepreneur.
I have friends who, every week, have some new crazy idea. They are chasing a million bucks every week, but they never make any money because they just aren't focused enough. They jump from one thing to another to another. The key is to be focused. Decide what you want to do and go for it. Hey, if it doesn't work out, then move on to the next thing. But, at
least give it a full run before you try something new.
When the builder I had worked with for 20 years decided they didn't want to pay commissions anymore, I was devastated. When I quit the builder, many of my friends thought I was going through a mid-life crisis. Actually, it turned out to be an awesome mid-life crisis. Looking back, what happened to me was the best thing that could have happened. It forced me to move on to the next thing, which has led to substantially better things that I probably would not have done if that hadn't happened. You see, I was stuck in the "rat race" that I had been in for 20+ years. I mean, I was successful. I was doing ok - I had a nice house and a nice car. But there was more to be done.
I'm living in a lake house in Upstate New York, looking out my window overlooking my driveway. Makes me remember a story...
I was driving out of my driveway on my way to the open house on a Saturday morning - it was about 11:00 clock. The thermometer in my Jeep Cherokee said minus 11 degrees, and I said to myself, "Who in the heck is going to come to an open house in this kind of weather," but I had to go sit there. The next day, Sunday, it was minus 13 degrees, and I had to go do it again.
I seriously started to think that I really need to do something different. I wasn't really happy with what I was doing, but I stuck with it anyway. I did some consulting work, took some classes in mentoring, and then I met Frank McKinney. I remember saying to him, "Man, Frank, I hate doing these open houses. I go there 70 hours per week and sit. Sometimes people come, and sometimes they don't."
He looked at me square in the eye and said,"If you're doing something that you say you hate, then why are doing it? You have to do something that you are passionate about. If you're not passionate about it, then you're not going to be successful at it, so you need to find something else to do."
Well, that hit me square in the eyes, and that's when I realized that I really needed to just go and do something else. So, when the builder came to me a few months later and proposed that I take a pay cut, it was really a blessing in disguise. I was really mad. I mean really, really angry, and it was tough. But, luckily for me, I had a real estate business coach, Rich Levin that I was working with. Rich was kind of like my psychologist. I would talk to him about the builder, my lost passion for selling new homes and my desire to do something different. Rich really helped me understand what was going on and he helped me through this challenging time. He showed me how to not look at it as my business was being destroyed, but to look at it as an opportunity to move on and look for something else.
It's funny because in 2006, I was at a charity golf tournament for Habitat for Humanity and I sat with this builder and his 2 sons, who I had worked with for those 20 years. I told them about my new success, and they were very happy for me, and jokingly said, "The best thing we ever did was to can your butt!". I was really angry at them for a couple years, but now we can joke about it. They are very happy for me that I'm successful, and I'm very happy that they threw me a wrench.
I haven’t mentioned is that my father was their primary salesperson back in the 70’s, so not only was it a twenty year run for me, but it was also a twenty year run for my father. So, that was really forty years of my family working in their operation, and one day, for them to say, “You’re making to much money and we’re going to take this inside,” was just crazy. I could have said okay to save me from figuring out what I was going to do next. Or, I could have very easily put my tail between your legs and went out and found another job with another builder doing the same old thing. Something that I had already lost the passion for.
I said that I was “lucky enough” for all that to have happened. I don’t think I was lucky at all. Having a business coach made me realize that having a coach (or mentor) was very valuable. I was actually just setting myself up to move on to bigger things, not knowing what (or when) that would happen in the future. I had an opportunity to get a jump-start on whatever it was I decided to do. Now you can believe me when I tell you this, I support the use of mentors and coaches 100%. You must strive to reach your goals.
In October, 2004, my goal was to sell one million dollars worth of condo sales in January, 2005. In January, I actually sold $9 million. How did I do that? My Friend, and mentor, Frank McKinney, talked to me about creating a lifestyle. What Frank taught me was that when you’re moving into a new job or a new venture, think about what you want your lifestyle to be like first. Then try to create, find or build a job or business around that.
At that time it was winter in Upstate New York. Looking at the snow & feeling the cold weather, I knew I needed to find something that would take me back and forth to Florida. I have no children, so I had the flexibility of doing that, and that’s why the Florida thing worked so well. I wanted to work from my house. I live on this beautiful lake in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York. I wanted to be able to sit out on the patio with my cell phone and wireless laptop computer and do my work. I also wanted the flexibility to travel and be able to work in my yard or play on the lake when I wanted to. That is what I really wanted to do, and so that is what I did!
I created that ideal life and put it on paper. A lot of people will complain about their life all day long, but when the rubber hits the road, they never to sit down and create a plan for themselves. I knew I didn’t want to be sitting at Open Houses or Model Homes any longer. I wanted to be able to sit at my house and do whatever I wanted to do. When I finally made that commitment to myself, everything started coming together. Back in the fall of 2004, I was thinking, “Man, I really hate working every single weekend.” I had built my dream home on the lake, and I stopped working weekends. So, you don’t go look for a new house sales job because what you’ll end up doing is working all weekend. You need to find something profitable that you can do to have your weekends back to sit out by the beautiful lake and enjoy life.
That’s what made me think of my new website. I hired an assistant to help with the clerical work. Together we grew my mailing list to almost 5,000 people within 2 years. I was living the high life, staying at the hotels in South Beach, Florida. I wasn’t really working too hard. I was really enjoying life and my “job”. I was just sitting at the pool, in my shorts, making phone calls, working on my computer and selling condos. The condos that we were selling were pre-construction condos, which meant that they weren’t built yet, so most of my sales were from talking to people on the phone and trading emails. Since the condos were not built yet, it was interacting with the customer via phone and Internet. We ended up with sales of around $100 million in 2005 as compared to $4 million to $5 million dollar sales in prior years in the Rochester New York area. My total gross commissions went from $200,000 to a couple of million dollars. I don’t work 70–80 hours per week anymore. I have the freedom to work when I want to. I travel around and work when I want. Sometimes I work 60 hours, and sometimes I only work 20 hours a week. It’s a much “happier” operation then it was before. I don’t have to sit at open houses in below-zero weather with a coat and tie on not knowing if anyone is going to show up. Now, I can do what I want and control what I do. I’m much happier now, have less stress and a better mentality all around.
As all of this was happening, everything become clearer. I began to see the bigger opportunities right in front of me. Some of the opportunities had always been there. I never realized that before because I was always so busy working hard for someone else. People come to me and say, “Everything you do turns to gold.” Well, that’s not really the case. It’s just the way they see it because that’s what they think. They don’t see all the hard work that goes into it. We just need to work at it everyday - tweaking it, making it better, etc.
Opportunities hit me every single day. I had a person call me from Costa Rica wanting me to sell his condos for him. I had another one call me from the Bahamas wanting the same thing. Recently, I had a gentleman call me that has ties with a lot of oil people… that could be a huge opportunity for me. So, everyday these things are happening. If I had a 9 to 5 job, none of these things would be happening to me. I have met several interesting people. It’s really fun. Almost every day or every week there is something new or exciting going on. It’s not monotonous like the old program.
I am not just showing up and going through the motions. Now I have a meaning in life… a real reason to get up and work towards what I want. Just like Frank says, “It doesn’t matter if you make a million dollars, as long as you are doing it for you.”
I want to mention the power of networking. I have been to many real estate seminars and events and nothing really exciting ever happened. I was there because it was the thing to do. I was never overly friendly to new people I met at these events. But I realized back in 2005, that if you allow yourself, you can meet other interesting people there. You just have to open yourself up. It’s easy to keep the relationships alive by becoming a person of value as you talk to the new people you meet, perhaps help them, share ideas, etc.
Some of theses people were doing bigger and better things than I was – those are the people that you want to learn from. Talk to them, communicate, and offer them something. At the same time, be available for the people behind you so that you can help them get going as well. I always try to do that and I always get that in return from people that I think of as mentors and big players. I believe that if you put yourself in a position to give, you always receive from others. Even to this day, it’s very important that I continue to network and build associations and relationships with new friends. You really have to put yourself out there with everyone you meet. You never know when you might meet someone or get something else out of it. When I attend these events, and I might not learn anything new. But, it gives me the opportunity to listen, learn & meet new people. The power of association – being there, being a part of it, and meeting people. I see this so many times… people show up, but they don't do anything. People just drop off and quit going. The repetition of going and people seeing the same people over & over - they know that you are really serious. People will start to latch onto you and can start associating you with a being a “do-er” and understanding who’s not doing it.
Networking is the key…you have to know people. Networking and real estate events are so huge, it is unbelievable. There is so much potential. We know people that have a list of 1,000 people and some have lists of 100,000 people… I know a guy that has a list of a couple million people.
I sold a substantial amount of real estate in Miami back in 2005 & 2006, and I don’t even live there. I dare say that I was one of the top real estate sales agents in the Miami area. It’s a mystery to the other real estate people there. They wonder how I did that and not even live there. It was easy - I use the power of the Internet. I also used the power of Networking. One of my high school buddies introduced me to a large developer in Miami. He had close to 1,000 condos to be sold in a 2 year period. We hit it off & I had my developer connection and access to $100’s of millions worth of pre-construction condos in Florida and other locations. Now I had the buyer list & the inventory list. I just needed to put them together.
If you're not using the Internet today, it’s like riding around in a horse and buggy in today’s market. Why would anyone think about doing it any other way? So many people trip up about these fancy websites, and they don’t need it. All you need is something simple - just something simple, just get it out there. That’s like when I was working with my technician coach, and I wanted everything to be perfect. I wanted to make changes, and one day he looked at me and said, “If this site isn’t up and running by Wednesday, don’t ever call me back”. He said, “Doug, it doesn’t have to be an A+ job. It can be a C+. Lets just get it online, and let’s see what we can do with it… we can make changes as we go”. So, I put it online, started running ads on Google, and, all of the sudden, my name started coming up all over. It was pretty exciting, and I thought, “What do I do now?” I just made a few changes to it, and it’s still, today, about that C+ job that I did back then, but I had gotten over 5,000 prospects off of it, and it did the job.
Now, granted, this doesn’t happen overnight – it was a 2-year process… you get one email at a time. It’s a slow process, but it paid off. I always look at it like this: It’s just me and one assistant, and I make over $1 million per year. Then, I look at the top real estate agents in the market where I live, and they bring in several hundred thousands a year, but they have a lot of people working for them – they have the big office they pay for, taxes, and everything else. Me? I work out of my home with one assistant. I attribute that to the power of the Internet, the power of Networking and the power of a much optimized follow-up program that I have. The best thing you can do is to concentrate on and zero in on your target market. When I did my first $9 million in sales, I only had 700 people on my email list, so that is why I say you need to zero in on what you want. You don't need to have a big, massive list to do business. Now, if you have a bigger list, then, yes, you will do more business, but you just need it to get started.
We weren’t always trying to sell condos – we also educated and informed people of events that were going on. By building my list, and kept it growing, it was actually a continuous sales pitch. So that when any of my 5,000 people on my email list decided to buy a condo, they would think of me first. They’ll think, “He is the pre-construction condo man. He has been nice enough to send us all the information that we needed and asked for, so let’s go to him”. That’s why sometimes we sent out multiple emails a day with different bits of information. We didn’t expect to get anything in return – they didn’t have to buy anything, we never pushed them – but we hoped they would remember us when they want to buy a condo.
Every once in a while, I will get an email back telling me it was a stupid article, you’re full of bologna, etc. In the beginning that used to really bother me – I took it seriously. Then one day I learned to push the delete button and delete them off my list. Occasionally, we will email back and forth to each other voicing our opinion on things… nothing mean or nasty, just to have a nice little debate. But, overall, if they are obnoxious – I just push delete and they’re gone.
People like that are just miserable people, and that’s what they live for. They are miserable in their own life, and they try to bring others down to their level. I never want to force a situation when there really isn’t anything there. That goes for real estate too. I think a lot of people, especially in the beginning, try to force a deal through…t hey are trying to force a buyer or a seller to go along with them, but some of your best deals may be the deals that you never do.
I’m not a hard sale kind of guy. I’m not a slick New York car salesman kind of guy. I’m a pretty easy going guy, conservative, slow-talking guy. I think my success in sales is because I have always delivered to my people honesty, integrity, enthusiasm and a passion for what I am doing. Mostly, though, just good information about what I’m doing. That is what it takes to make customers come back. I know the kind of people that I want to work with and vise-versa. I want to work with people that are willing to accept 100% responsibility for their life – good decisions or bad. We can all say yes or no to anything in life, but a lot of successful people take full responsibility and move on and focus on the good, not the bad decisions. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when you may want to blame others, but – when it all comes down to it, it’s on you.
It’s important to move forward one step at a time. Don’t expect to go from step A to step Z in one step. You have to go through the whole process – climb every rung on the ladder. You’ve got to get it started. So, if you can run a little bit, skip or just pass one up here and there, that’s ok, but you’ve got to work through the process. The key is to just get up and get to doing something every day. If you have a 9 to 5 job, and your goal is to be a real estate investor, then you have got to do something related to real estate every single day. I don’t care if it is reading an article in the paper, driving by a house or whatever – do something… be involved and learn. As you do that, your daily consistent actions will supersede any kind of intelligence because it’s all about numbers and repetition. This is key - Keep a positive attitude and outlook. Surround yourself with positive people that are “do-ers” and not talkers.