Debbie DeBerry, known as The Flipstress, has built her success through sheer determination. Growing up with constant moves and grappling with the pressures of societal expectations, DeBerry’s early life shaped her current role as a real estate empowerment coach. Check out this exclusive interview to learn more.
Could you share some insights into your early life and upbringing and how those experiences shaped your approach to your professional life now?
I grew up in a house with four older brothers. I played competitive sports from age 5 through college. I was a perfectionist and very hard on myself, which eventually led to an eating disorder in my early 20s. Then, I realized how society views women: we must be perfect, handle all things, put everyone else’s needs first, and never show weakness or make mistakes.
We moved every year or two during my elementary and middle school years. I was always the new kid. It was tough to fit in, so I got good at being a chameleon and becoming whoever I needed to be to avoid being bullied. That worked until middle school when I was emotionally and physically bullied regularly. I was pulled from the school where it was happening.
My mom was my biggest supporter. She always told me that whatever I could dream, I could achieve. She encouraged me to do scary things and always provided a safety net when I screwed up or when things didn’t go the way I wanted. She’d let me sulk for a bit, then tell me to try again.
What initially drew you to the real estate industry, and how did you transition into the niche of property flipping?
After grad school at the University of Texas, I owned and operated 3 TCBY frozen yogurt franchises for three years. It was a crash course in business and management – full of long hours and limited time, freedom, or control.
In 2003, my mom encouraged me to get my real estate license because I enjoyed people. She loved looking at houses, but I didn’t feel the same. However, I wanted to be a real estate investor. I thought you had to have a license to invest at the time. So, I got my real estate license.
I quickly learned that the “real estate agent life” also offered little to no time or freedom, though it was more rewarding financially.
In 2006, after working with traditional home buyers and sellers, I transitioned to working with investors. I found my passion: Teaching clients how to analyze deals using market data. It’s exactly what I wanted to be doing; I didn’t know until I started doing it.
As “The Flipstress,” what unique strategies or methodologies do you employ in your real estate investment projects?
I firmly believe that data should drive decisions. While there is a place for intuition, all decisions should start with the facts. Flipping houses isn’t rocket science. It’s as simple as giving buyers what they want, where they want it.
The data, the market metrics at the hyperlocal level, tell us what has been sold–which is what people want– and how long it takes to sell tells us the project timeframe.
Beyond the hyperlocal market data, we share best practices, which include profit margins, recommended buffers and contingencies, mitigating risk and exposure, among other things.
Can you elaborate on a particularly challenging situation you encountered during your real estate career and how you successfully navigated it?
After my mom’s surprising death, I decided to put my focus on lots of flips at once. I had about 11 going. I was overleveraged, which would have been okay, barring anything outside my control happening.
Unfortunately, it did. Long story short, on the seller’s side of one of the houses I bought, a family member committed fraud and ended up with a 20% ownership interest in the property, which I didn’t know until I was trying to sell. The title company did a title search, which revealed everything. For a house that was renovated and “sold” within three months of purchasing, we didn’t close on the sale for two years because the fraudster dragged everything out. They were mad that their elderly mother didn’t give them any money when she sold the house, and they took it out on us.
This was my first and only time being part of a lawsuit, and it took a toll on me emotionally and financially. However, I was determined to uphold any private money loans I had, and to do so, I had to dip into my own money. Had the issue with the fraudster not happened, everything would have been fine, as I had about $200,000 coming to me from the sale of that house–which would have more than covered any outstanding loans.
I was forced to file for bankruptcy to ensure lenders were paid off on time. It was incredibly embarrassing. I was very hard on myself. I lost a lot of confidence, even though it was all caused by someone who committed fraud.
The situation stunned me for a bit. I had to learn to trust myself again, and I doubled down on ways to mitigate risk. I was angry enough to want to prevent others from being in the same position. I also wanted to show people that even with bankruptcy on their record, they can still qualify for financing and flip houses. I’m proof!
Debbie DeBerry and her career from a frozen yogurt shop franchise owner to a real estate maven who now educates others on real estate reflects her unwavering commitment to growth and learning. She’s helped reshape the landscape of property flipping, and her story can inspire others to forge ahead despite setbacks. DeBerry proves that every stumble can be a stepping stone toward success.
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