About Me

Here I am…

…Trying to figure out how to explain in 1,000 words or less (which is the number that someone told me is the most anyone will read these days) who I am and what this site is all about.

Well, let’s start with the “official resume” version of my real estate life, for those of you who are impressed by that sort of thing:

  • I do all of my investing in the Greater Cincinnati area, which includes Northern Kentucky.
  • I bought my first rental property in 1989. I still own it.
  • Since then, I’ve bought and sold, or continue to manage, somewhere in excess of, oh, I don’t know, 700 deals. People who can quote the exact number crack me up. Seriously, if you have time to count, you’re not making enough offers.

    Vena Jones-Cox at RLRE

    Me answering listener questions on Real Life Real Estate. See, it’s a real radio show, not “internet radio”, whatever that is. No, I don’t own that brick phone anymore.

  • Yes, I wholesale properties. A lot of them. At the moment, an average of 1 every 9.125 days
  • Yes, I also lease/option, rent, and land contract properties. At the moment, I acquire about 5 new “keepers” a year.
  • Yes, I buy properties using owner financing, private financing, buying subject to, and in lots of other creative ways. No, I do not buy properties using lease/options, and neither does anyone else. That’s not buying a property, it’s renting it.
  • I’ve been the president of the Real Estate Investors Association of Greater Cincinnati, the Ohio Real Estate Investors Association, and the National Real Estate Investors Association. If that impresses you a lot, let me add that my salary was doubled each time I moved up the ladder from local to state to national. Yep, it was $0 all 3 times.
  • Real estate investing is only my vocation; my avocation is teaching other people about real estate investing. I’ve written, I don’t know, a dozen homestudy courses on various aspects of real estate investing, any of which you can learn more about on this site
  • The only thing I love more than teaching real estate to a crowd of people is helping ONE person do a deal, or build their business to the next level, or solve a real estate problem. I love it so much, in fact, that my partner made me start charging people to do it, because it was taking time away from my own business. Since I started charging, I’ve noticed that my coaching and mentoring students are much more likely to actually take my advice, which I find even more satisfying
  • I’m a licensed real estate broker in the state of Ohio, but I never list properties that aren’t my own or work directly with buyers
  • Since 1998, I’ve hosted a Public Radio show called “Real Life Real Estate Investing”. You can listen to it on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. eastern at 89.9 FM in the Cincinnati area. If you’re not in the Cincinnati area on Wednesdays at 5, you can listen to it streaming at www.WMKVfm.org. You can also download prior shows as podcasts here
  • No, I don’t do 50 deals a year PLUS manage 40+ rental units PLUS rehab, travel, teach, volunteer, and have a life all by myself. You won’t, either.  I do it with the help of a partner, a part-time property manager, an acquisition coordinator, and a part-time bookkeeper. And yes, I’m still pretty busy, but I still find time to take a nap every day.

Of course none of that stuff actually tells you the first thing about me, or why I do what I do, or why you should do it, too…

…and I’m not sure how to start with any of that. I can tell you this:

I love what I do. I am, it’s been said, a real estate geek. I’m interested in just about every aspect of real estate investing, I find it all fascinating, and I’m a sort of walking encyclopedia of techniques, trivia, and both useful and useless information about real estate.

I am a true, rabid believer in the idea that real estate investing is the best way to achieve financial independence—at least for those of us aren’t going to inherit millions, invent the next iPhone, or win the lottery. I’ve seen it over and over, and I have a hard time relating to people who don’t see it. Yeah, I know that not everyone is cut out to run a real estate business—but people who aren’t the slightest bit interested in owning even one rental property? They confound me.

I am also fanatical about the idea that real estate investors, through their activities in turning run down houses into pretty ones, and providing affordable rental housing, and employing people, and paying taxes, and a hundred other things that they do in the course of normal business, are just about the best thing that ever happened to the world. Yeah, I know, there are bad guys out there—I’ll deal with those in a minute. But the teeny percentage bad guys get 99% of the attention from the media and legislators, which, unfortunately, makes it lots harder for the rest of us to do business.

Vena Jones-Cox with Dolphin picture

One of my non-real estate goals in life is to pet every kind of animal in the world. I’ve also pet bats, penguins, moles, groundhogs, squirrels, sharks, camels, hawks, and about a zillion others.

Which makes it, in my view, all the more important that each and every one of us non-bad guys really scrutinize what we do in our day-to-day businesses, and how it affects the people we deal with, whether those be buyers, sellers, tenants, partners, lenders, neighborhoods, contractors etc. Everything we do has to pass the 6 o’clock news test (if the local Troubleshooter aimed a camera in your face and asked you to explain your business, or a particular deal, would you be glad to, or would you be one of those people pulling your sweatshirt up over your head?), and I don’t think that nearly enough real estate entrepreneurs devote any time to this at all. You’ll see that a lot of the articles on this blog try to deal with ethical and legal issues associated with our business. If those bore you, read them anyway.

The one part of my business that I really DON’T love these days is the real estate education industry.

Frankly, it’s become overrun with vermin who don’t have enough experience to have the right to tell you how to work a lockbox, much less make money in properties. The quality of their products (low on usable info, high on hype) , the morals they display in their sales pitches (seriously, I read one recently that strongly implied that Jesus wanted you to buy their course), and the ethics of their methods (there are now multiple course available to teach you to steal other people’s private lenders—which, by the way, is completely illegal in the way in which they teach it) are all horrible. And the prices keep going up, and up, and up…and the empty, un-fulfillable promises get more and more bold.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that education is crucial. I have a bunch of it. A BUNCH. And I paid for it, too—I’m a good capitalist, and I think that people who have some aspect of the business figured out, and a good sense of how to convey it, and can keep me out of trouble and shorten my runway deserve to be paid for all of their hard work.

I just HATE that the people who are the most experienced, have the best education, and are, frankly, the most affordable are also the least willing or able to shove their courses and seminars down your throat. But enough about that for now; if you want to know all about how to tell the good education from the bad and who I DO like, go here and download my e-book on the topic: www.gurumanifesto.com

So My Mission For This Site is…

Basically threefold:

  1. To keep you informed about the real estate market: what’s working, what’s not, what’s going on in the legislative world, the finance world, and anything else that could or should affect the way you do business on a day-to-day basis. And it won’t be all beer and skittles, either: if all you want to hear is the good stuff, you’re probably in the wrong place.
  2. To put you in front of the REAL educators in this business—the people who have the real-life experience to really guide you through ALL the stages of your real estate career, not just the ‘newbie who’s impressed with the bells and whistles’ stage. What they have to tell you will be deeper and more sophisticated than you might be used to hearing, and they’ll largely couch it in a lot less hype than you may be comfortable with, but this is what you NEED to hear if you’re going to build a real, solid, lasting, profitable real estate business. Conversely, you will NEVER see a ‘launch’ here, or be encouraged to buy anything from an ‘guru’ that I haven’t vetted to the best of my ability as to his experience, business practices, and quality of education.
  3. To convince you that I know enough that you should invest some of your hard-earned education dollars in MY carefully researched, much sweated-over courses, mentoring programs, and seminars. What, was I not supposed to admit that? Too bad—if bare-naked capitalism bothers you that much, you probably shouldn’t be in the real estate business anyway.

1,000 Words or Less? Oh, Well…

At least you have a better idea of what you’re in for as you explore this site. Hopefully, it will be a mutually beneficial relationship. At worst, you’ll probably get a giggle or two.

In any case, here’s to our mutual prosperity—

Vena