In October of 2008 I had just turned 25 years old and had purchased my first home.

List price was $215,000 and I got the place for $199,000. It was a swank little place in the suburbs west of Chicago. I lived about 30 minutes from my mom’s house and it was relatively close to work.

I lived there for a couple years going through the typical cycle of “work, sleep, repeat” for a couple years. Everything was going fine and dandy, but I was frustrated with my career path.

I had been working at my job for a little more than 7 years and I wanted something more. I was uncomfortable thinking that “this is it”, that I had accomplished all there was left to accomplish in life and now I just needed to wait things out until I kicked the bucket.

I started flexing my LinkedIn profile and as luck would have it, landed a job at Rackspace in San Antonio Texas in 2013. I was moving south, far far away from Illinois. What was I going to do about the house though?

We have a family friend who is a real-estate agent and she made it perfectly clear what we could do; rent the house. She and I worked together and before I left Chicagoland, I had the place rented. I was officially a landlord.

It’s now been almost 3 years since I started this whole remote landlord gig and in that time I’ve had quite a few learning experiences. They’ve led me to operate my business in a certain way and I wanted to reflect on what those values and goals in my real-estate business are.

But first, some context.

I have an immense interest in finance and all things money. Perhaps it’s that my dad is the CFO of a bank and did corporate tax for most of his professional career; who knows. I don’t specifically remember him ever being real talkative about money or finances. He would buy me books on the subject if I asked for them for Christmas or a birthday, but I don’t remember having open conversations with him about money.

In terms of real-estate influencers in my circle of family and friends, there really is only the family friend who is a real-estate agent (she also owns three properties herself) and an aunt I have who is a landlord. My aunt, from what I hear, tends to run her business with an iron first, a value I do not share.

Aside from that, I can’t think of other influencers in this space.

I am a strong believer in the Golden Rule and an even bigger believer in the Platinum Rule. If you haven’t heard of the Platinum Rule, it goes something like this

Treat others the way __they__ want to be treated.

Contrast this with the Golden Rule that goes something like this

Treat others the way __you__ want to be treated.

How do you know how others want to be treated? Easy. You can ask them. Or, you can begin working with them and based on your interaction with them you can basically just “figure out” what they want. Most people will reveal their wants/needs to you indirectly the more you interact with them. You can always test these wants by doing something that has the potential to fulfill a want. Observe their reaction. Then repeat as needed.

Regardless of which rule you identify with more, the point is that this is one of the values that I identify with and one that I personally want to express in my business ventures.

Rackspace represented this beautifully in what they called “Fanatical Support”. Really, that’s the cornerstone of my values system that I want to imbue in my business dealings. To that end, I treat my customers (my tenants) with respect and do my best to provide them with Fanatical Support.

To do that, I need tenants who will provide me with the same respect.

  • Take care of my property
  • Report broken things immediately
  • Pay your rent on time

It’s not that complicated. Do that, and we’ll get along just fine.

I tend to not have riders in my lease agreements about rent increases. Frankly, I don’t really need the money. I’m completely debt free. I make decent money. I’m in this to create a business model that puts the customer, and service, first. I think that this will result in profit.

A happy tenant is a priority of mine. Why? Because I want to be a happy tenant. When I have a great working relationship with my leasing coordinator and my maintenance folks at wherever I live, I’m smitten.

I could be wrong about many of these processes that I’m aiming to implement in my business ventures, but I’m hopeful that I’m not. Taking advantage of people just to turn a profit is, in my opinion, wrong. I like to think that I can be an example to my family and friends of how to do things with integrity and excellence.