It took just five months working as a telemarketer for a mortgage company, turning over lead after lead to loan officers, before Beau Eckstein (@BeauEckstein), then 19 years old, realized he could do the job himself. He became a licensed California Real Estate agent and spent his initial years in mortgage lending before pursing his entrepreneurial streak selling and investing in San Francisco Bay Area Real Estate.
With a decade of experience, Eckstein founded Service 1st Realty in Walnut Creek, in 2009, which now has three Real Estate agents and is focused increasingly on higher-end sales, including a new luxury subdivision of nine townhomes in Oakland Hills. He is also the marketing manager of LHJS Investments LLC, a management company overseeing several funds, specializing in hard money and construction loans for residential properties in California. Eckstein’s growing interest in Real Estate marketing – particularly through online and social media channels – recently landed him an invitation to cast for one remaining team spot on the pilot for the new HGTV reality series “Flip It to Win It” which first aired early last year.
“It was a lot of fun, and it was also a lot of stress,” he said. “You have to get comfortable being in front of a camera, but I have had a lot of good exposure from it, and it may lead to another reality show, or we may do another season.”
“Flip it to Win it” will launch its initial series of 12 episodes on HGTV starting March 4, 2014, about half of which will feature Eckstein and his teammate, contractor Greg Cromwell. In the one-hour show, six teams of investors bid against each other for abandoned foreclosure properties, sight unseen. Three auctions and their subsequent renovations and sales are featured during each episode to find out which team will make the most return on their investment.
“That’s what I really like to do,” Eckstein said. “I work with a lot of investors and developers to identify renovation properties. The last two years have been very good for house flippers, and competition has increased tenfold. Real Estate is a great vehicle to make a lot of money – or lose a lot of money.”
In the past 18 months, the Bay Area market has experienced a 30 percent appreciation, he said, but “it’s a very hard business, and there are a million things that can go wrong.”
For Eckstein, that came in 2007 during the worst housing market crash in U.S. history. At the time, he was heavily invested in Real Estate and, as he puts it, “got really burned.”
“I am not as aggressive as I once was,” he said. “Everyone gets caught up in the hype, so you have to be smart and buy right, and you can’t get too many projects going. It is a constant evolution, and you have to surround yourself with the right network of people.”
For that, Eckstein organizes a popular monthly networking group for Real Estate investors and is focused on ground-up projects and some spec homes in a variety of markets, as well as holding some properties as a long-term investment. With a growing economy in the years to come, the Bay Area will see a continued need for new home construction, he said, particularly in fast-appreciating markets like Oakland and Berkeley.
“Anyone who has invested over the past few years – anyone who could take advantage of it – is fortunate,” he said. “We have regained a lot and are still selling in an upward trend.”