This realtor and Instagram influencer shares advice for first-time landlords and how to be successful in real estate.
Ed Stulak is a New Jersey-based licensed realtor, social media and brand strategist, and real estate marketing and business coach. Since being licensed six years ago, Ed and his REAL Broker team have closed over $55M in real estate deals.
As the Founder of IGRE Coaching, Ed teaches real estate professionals around the world how to use Instagram to grow their personal brands and their businesses.
I grew up in an immigrant family who came from Eastern Europe. Not knowing a lick of English and really having to improvise in life, they started their own business while we were living in a one-bedroom apartment — there were seven of us. That's kind of the culture that I was brought up in, and it really influenced my story.
Immigrants, of course, want their child to be a doctor, a lawyer, a mechanic, or an engineer — and I didn't want to do any of that. I wasn't good in pre-med school; it was just not for me. But I realized very quickly that I too have the entrepreneurial bug. It was pretty much transplanted from my mom into me. When she came to America, she was knocking on doors saying, “I clean your house.” That's all she knew.
So I started in business by launching my own marketing and branding agency. I was helping influencers around the world with their social media presence and content creation. And I was learning a lot from that experience. But then one day, I realized I wasn't really making the money I was looking for. I wanted to dress up — I love suits, I love fancy things. And that money was just not allowing me to do that. So I got into real estate because I saw a lot of people be very successful in that field.
I got my real estate license six years ago when I was around 22 years old. And when I got into it, that’s when I realized, “Wow, the realtors suck at social media.” And I have seven years of experience helping influencers and celebrities make money through social media — so I wanted to fill that gap. I wanted to bring my social media knowledge to the real estate world. And that's what I do today, by helping real estate professionals worldwide with social media and personal branding.
I love helping people evolve their business, and then when they come back to me and show gratitude for it, and seeing how it resulted in them getting what they wanted.
That real estate is about unlocking the door, showing a house, and getting a $10,000 paycheck. A lot of people think it's a very easy business. Everyone gets into it thinking, “Let me get my real estate license and sell a few houses a year and make a lot of money easily.” It's not like that at all — there's much more to it. People get into it for the wrong reasons.
I wish I knew that proper mentorship is very much needed for proper growth. I was taught by the wrong people in the beginning. I was misled many times. And I didn't know that mentorship is something that I truly have to invest my time and my money into if I really want to do this the right way — the way I’m envisioning it to be. I got a mentor a little bit later on, and she has helped me tremendously. I wish I had met her a little bit earlier.
I would say social media — but doing it the correct way. Social media is so misperceived. People get on there with the wrong intentions, and think it's all about entertainment. And can you really make money off of social media? Absolutely you can!
There are so many ways to start conversations in real estate. People do door knocking, cold calling, sending out postcards and mailers, handing out flyers, and doing all these charity events. What’s to say that social media has to be any different? Why can't I reach out to you on social media saying, “Hey, I love your page and I would love to chat sometime. Here's my number. Let's talk.” Then we chat a little bit, and that's a conversation starter. And that could be a moneymaker.
I call that follow farming. Real estate agents plant seeds by sending out those mailers, and being consistent with them. I do the same thing digitally with likes, comments, follows, and messages. I'll reach out to one person and put them in my database. I'll make sure to reach out to Samantha every Wednesday at six o'clock, like her stuff, and comment on her stuff. She gets notified and is like, “There he is again, and now he's messaging me. Alright, what's this guy about?”
The shelf life of mailers is very short, but the shelf life of a DM or a comment is not. It's cost-efficient and very quick, and it's going to be there for quite some time. The more someone messages me in an attractive way, the more I'll see them. So yeah, social media is what everyone needs.
Real estate is going to be even more digital than it is today — but I believe it’s for the better. With the unprecedented times that have occurred over the past two years, people have realized that online is the way to go. We were all forced to do that.
This is a trial period right now for many businesses and agencies to convert to digital to see how they perform. And a lot of it is trial and error — some of them are going to bump their heads a lot more than they wanted to, and some are going to succeed.
I think over the next five years it’s going to be a constant trial-and-error kind of wave pattern for real estate businesses, figuring out what works online, what doesn't, and learning how to adapt to what works and scrap what doesn't. Because I think five years from now, it's going to be a very naturalized and balanced digital world of business.
Relationship building is so important in real estate. I'm working on a 180-unit apartment complex building, which I got through Instagram — it was a DM that was a conversation starter. They approached me and now I'm l representing them.
So I realized over the past two years working with this building that the relationships between tenants and the people who work there are so important to keep up. Make sure that you respect all of the people who are giving you business — tenants have to be happy.
I'm realizing more and more that tenants who come into my office complain about management. There's always something where management doesn't respond, management isn't reaching out, management has taken too long. And I understand it's very hard to keep up with 180 units, let alone multiple buildings with 180 units. But a critical variable for a successful formula of being a landlord or property manager is just making sure to maintain a good relationship between your tenants. Tenants will spread the good word about the building, about the complex, about the people, about the community, about the aesthetics, about the environment, about the ambiance, about the smell, the looks. That stuff matters.
So the more you get on tenants’ bad side, trust me, the more money you’ll have to spend on ads for Zillow and Apartments.com because you're going to be constantly turning over units. And I get it, some people want a high turnover rate so they can increase the rents. But I think the more cost-efficient strategy is to make your tenants — the people you're giving a home to — happy. Because they'll talk to their sphere of influences about how it’s a great house, great community, great people, great management. That’s an awesome way to get free advertising.
Again, it comes down to relationships. Make sure that you are maintaining good relationships. Be on top of it, be excited about it. They're giving you business, they're making you money, so make them happy. I want to make sure my tenants know they can rely on me, and they can call me at any time. I don't want to be the stereotypical landlord that so many people complain about.