BALTIMORE, MD / ACCESSWIRE / December 28, 2020 / Stephen Kraus of Baltimore Realty Group has been awarded the coveted Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Realtors.
Stephen Kraus is a seasoned entrepreneur and established real estate agent. As CEO of the Baltimore Realty Group, he buys and sells distressed properties, renovates dilapidated buildings, resells them at a profit, and rents a range of properties in different neighborhoods. His company has seen exponential growth in both their rental and for-sale properties. Earning this award has been an honor for Stephen Kraus as well as a catalyst for Baltimore Realty as they continue to move the company forward. We sat down with him (virtually of course) to discuss his business, his inspirations and the industry.
What Neighborhoods or areas do you focus on?
As of the moment, I am focused on the Baltimore metropolitan in Maryland. I have properties strewn all over this area, but I also have properties in other high-value neighborhoods across the country. I prefer high-value neighborhoods because of their high returns. Baltimore, for instance, is the home of four companies that are in the Fortune Top 1000. Having such companies here means that the residents are high-income earners who can afford high-end properties. Baltimore has seven counties, including Baltimore County, and has a population of about 3.5 million. As of now, the median household income is approximately $83,000, which is way above the United States' median household income at about $65,000. These statistics can tell you the kind of properties that I deal with and why I like focusing on such areas. Individuals in these neighborhoods have a lot of disposable income. Therefore, it is possible to find a person living in an apartment for about two years, then selling it and moving to a newer one just to change his environment. It is from such spending that you earn a lot from real estate, not forgetting the high rental income in these areas.
What made you want to become a real estate agent? What inspired you?
My desire to become a real estate agent began at a very young age. My father was a businessman, and so I aspired to be a businessman like him. At first, I did not know which business I wanted to venture into, but I knew that I was just not cut out for formal employment. While in college, I decided to try out my hand in real estate, and that is where I discovered that this industry was still largely untapped. In fact, it is an industry in which no one can exhaust its opportunities. I realized that there will always be a demand for houses for as long as human beings exist on earth. What matters now is the type of property you decide to deal with and your hunger for success. Real estate is like an ever-flowing tap. There will always be someone looking for a particular property every now and then. This realization gave me hope in this industry, and I decided to immerse myself in it fully. I am kept going by reading and enhancing my knowledge, and I am most inspired by James Collins and Jerry Porras' Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. Looking backward, I would still want to be a realtor.
What kind of work did you do before becoming a real estate agent?
I have been in real estate for too long; I no longer recall if I was ever in any other profession. I would not call a few stints of odd jobs here and there as work since those were just to keep me afloat as I lay the ground for my business. I began flipping properties while still in college. Upon graduating, I dived right into real estate with a few other jobs here and there as I was accumulating money for capital. After making some profits just flipping properties, I now focused all my attention on real estate. I could now buy high value but run-down properties, renovate them and then sell them at a profit. I remember I once renovated a property and got 100% returns from the same. For quite some time, I did this accumulating capital up to the point that I was now able to buy a new property and resell. In the meantime, I was also keeping some of the beaten-down properties that I was renovating and getting passive income from the same. I would say for that matter, that real estate has been my only job.
What do you like best about your career as a realtor?
There is so much to like about being a realtor. First, I have to tell you that there is a lot of potential in this industry. Once you get your cards right, you will never run out of business, not unless a serious war erupts. That means that the returns are good if you press the right keys and make your moves right. The critical point is being aggressive and never giving up. Apart from the money and the opportunities in real estate, I love the freedom of this business. This venture is not one that will have you wasting your life confined in an office in some high rise building; it is a thrilling adventure that will have you decide what you will do with your time. The more you can control and manage what you do with your time, the more successful you will become in terms of money and other areas of your life. The most important part, though, about being a realtor, is changing people's lives for the better. Every time I assist someone, I feel good every time they acquire a new home or sell their property and have the money to help them achieve their goals. I also enjoy mentoring young and old people and helping them find something meaningful to do with their lives. Last but not least is the aspect of being in a position to assist homeless people. It has been my joy to see my efforts put a roof on so many people that have been unfortunate not to have a roof over their heads.
Do you have any funny or memorable real estate stories you'd like to share?
In the real estate business, you get to meet a lot of people. Some of these people will change your life for the better; others will leave you with memorable experiences. You also get to engage in a lot of activities. Many people assume that real estate is just buying and selling property. Well, it is not. It is much more than that. My most memorable experience is when I was flipping properties. At first, it seemed scary to quote some prices for particular properties. I was also scared because I was selling something that I could not afford. So, I had a meeting with this particular client. I was selling a 4 bedroom marionette. He did not seem moved. It turned out he had also been in this business longer than I had been at that time. He wondered why I was giving myself such a low margin. He advised me that in real estate, no price is too big. You have to go high but also depending on the condition and value of the property. You never know who has the money to buy without bargaining. To cut the long story short, he helped me sell that property, and I ended making more profit than I had hoped for. I learned one thing from that experience. Always be bold in whatever endeavors you set out to do.
What advice do you give first-time homebuyers?
First-time homebuyers are, in most cases, very naive about the dynamics of real estate. They can be impulsive due to excitement and buy a property that can sink them into a lifetime debt. In most cases, they end up in homes that they do not like, especially if they fall prey to unscrupulous brokers. My business is not just about making profits, it is about making deals that will change people's lives for the better. For this reason, I try my best to have the first time home buyers take it slow. I advise them to take their time, check their finances, and then slowly look for options within their budgets. I make sure I help them find as many options as possible, help them check out these properties, and give them the true value of the properties. Those that are patient enough end up with beautiful homes that they will live in for a very long time, if not all their lives. I make them understand that a home is a lifetime investment and should be done with caution. Besides, they also have to consider their future financial positions about their current decision.
What hobbies do you enjoy in your spare time?
It is always essential to take some time off work to catch some breathe and relax. I often find it awkward when people are too immersed in their careers to forget about their lives outside their work. Their jobs or their businesses become their driving force. I am not advocating for laziness. As you can see, I am far from being a lazy person. I am saying the importance of going off for a holiday to reboot your mind and refresh your spirit. It is from such escapades that you discover new ideas that could further transform your life. It is also at such a time that you get to spend quality time with your family and friends. When I am not working, I love everything outdoors. I am enjoying taking some time to jog and keep fit, but you can also find me swimming. These two exercises are particularly good for the body and the mind. Being in real estate, I get to identify a lot of properties that I can check later when doing my evening jog. I have actually made some of the best deals after identifying properties while jogging. When I go on holiday, I enjoy hiking and kayaking. I intend to do as many hikes as possible and even climb some mountains around the world. That will be among some of my accomplishments. I also enjoy spending time with family, especially my wife and children. I would feel incomplete if I have all that business success but fail to raise an established home. It is for this reason that I consider family a crucial part of my life. They are my driving force in whatever else I do.
Is there anything else you'd like to add? Use this section to ASK and ANSWER a question of your choice.
I have said enough already, but I would like to give some words of advice to would-be real estate entrepreneurs. I know there are many like I was then, looking forward to venturing into this business.
I will start with the issue of capital. I totally agree with you that real estate can be or is a capital intensive venture. However, you can also start this business without a lot of cash. I began while I was in college. I never had money to buy any property. What I had was money for administrative and operational purposes. I had some money to help me look for properties, communication, and advertisement. Remember, even if you find a good property, you also have to find a market for it. And that is why you need to advertise. You also need to commute from one place to another to meet clients, and maybe some small office to show some seriousness and authenticity. That is why I earlier mentioned doing odd jobs here and there to raise such money. Once you manage to find a property and the first client and get your first commission, avoid getting overly excited, especially if you make some good profit. That is the time you should now lay your groundwork correctly and grow your business.
Secondly, you have to know that this is not a get rich quick scheme. It is a business that requires patience, dedication, and passion. Selling a house is not equivalent to selling a pair of sneakers, but you will sell eventually since people need homes to live in. Just keep this in mind and keep pushing. The more aggressive you are, the easier it will ultimately be for you in the long run. You will soon start getting referrals as long as you keep providing exemplary service to your very first clients. The good thing is that real estate is a lucrative market. Once you establish yourself, making money gets easier. I am mentoring lots of upstarts in Baltimore on how to get started in this industry, and thrive.
For more information on Stephen Kraus and Baltimore Realty, visit http://www.stephenkrausbaltimore.com/ or call 972-764-8883
SOURCE: Stephen Kraus
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