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This week’s Work-At-Home Success story comes from Michael Fernandes, Managing Member of Steward Redevelopment & Recovery. He was born in Yonkers, New York in 1979 to two immigrant parents from Portugal. They are both blue collar workers. They moved him out of the city of Yonkers and up to Duchess County where he went to John Jay High School. He started running his business out of his home and began to grow it rapidly. Before he knew it, he had $4 million in real estate with $8,000 per month in residual income coming in.
Fast forward 12 months, he began learning of the huge need for housing for our disabled veterans and those in the special needs community. So he sat down and put together a rental program for these folks with the help of a mentor, Nick Sadoti, who was a retired caseworker turned investor. It was his initial idea that laid the foundation for what is now becoming a very prosperous business where Michael gets to help people every. They are setting new standards in the housing of their vets and special needs community folks by giving them top notch housing that includes all the utilities, heat, hot water, cable, Wi-Fi, phone, fully furnished with all brand new furniture and all their kitchen utensils, pots, pans and lastly they provide housekeeping for them. This was all done from a home based business / virtual business. He has a team of 7 people and a partner. He is truly blessed.
He now gives back every chance he gets. He mentors other business owners, mentors kids, and provides the best housing in all 6 counties they house people in.
1) How did you get started working from home?
I got started in real estate after my fight career came to a fast end. A friend of mine taught me the business which led to the hunger to know more. Starting my own business came from me losing everything and wanting to take control of my own destiny. I took the knowledge I had and used that as a foundation and then immersed myself in everything real estate and I mean immersed. I would study, learn and research for 6 months, from 7am – 1am. Sleep 6 hours and do it all over again stopping only to eat and other things like that. I was determined to win and to succeed. I was going to be the best at what I did. I wanted to build a real viable business that could grow and expand, have employees or a team and grow and grow and grow but it had to be a business that helped people at the same time. I was not 100% sure how but I knew that is what I had to do. So I began to assess the market place and see where there was a niche and a need and I kept coming up with the same thing. People facing foreclosure who were uneducated about their situation and there was no good options for them that left them in a better position than they were in. So that is where I began researching. That is how it all began.
2) How did you get your first client or customer or job?
I remember how I got my first client like yesterday. I was pounding the phones cold calling investors for leads of people facing foreclosure that the investor was not doing a deal with for whatever reason, mainly not enough equity in their home. This investor had who I had met by calling him about 10 times before he called me back. Once he called me back we set up a day to meet. We had a meeting at the house of the troubled homeowner he had to refer over to me. At this point this was only the second seller of a home I had spoken to since I started my business after my initial research phase. I ended up getting the deal and to make a long story short we saved them and the home from foreclosure. That’s when I knew I was really on to something here.
3) How do you market your business?
I market now different than I did when I first started because I had zero marketing budget when I first started. In the beginning I was only able to cold call, direct mail with hand written letters that took forever (but got good responses) and I use to drive around looking for homes that looked vacant but had no bank or for sale signs and track down the owners. Now I still do those things and much more but in much more efficient ways. I have a dozen websites, I do Pay Per Click, I do direct mail but using a company that does 100% of everything for me, I have people posting ad’s, bandit signs, we leave marketing brochures in stores all over areas we invest in and we have an online marketing company who handles All of our online marketing and social media stuff. So we still do a lot of the same stuff just in more efficient ways. Oh, let’s not forget a ton of word of mouth which is the best and cheapest marketing we utilize and they close easiest as well.
4) What does your usual day look like?
My usual day varies now. The easiest way is start from morning. Well, I get up and do my morning ritual of drinking coffee, protein shake and vitamins and 1 16oz cup of water. Next I work out for about 30 to 1 hour. After that I go shower and its off to start my day. I start my day by tackling my most important or challenging things first. After I complete those then I check my emails for about 30 minutes. After my emails are done I head to my first meeting or new property to visit. Throughout the day I am scheduling contractors, answering questions from my team, delegating tasks. I then get back to my office (home) and answer my afternoon emails for about 30 minutes. Then I clear any documents that may be needed to be signed or changed, updated. If any contract need to be done for purchases, leases or anything like that I send that to my virtual assistants. I also look for other sponsors, investors or find additional agencies for us to provide housing for. Every Monday I hold a 3 hour training and recap with my core team, this is done religiously every week. I set certain days to do certain things. Like Tuesday evenings are used to design new marketing materials (at least 1 new one), Wednesday evening is used for finding new sponsors to reach out to and send our proposal to. Thursday is used for finding new agencies to provide housing for in new areas we are in or moving into. Friday evening is used to come-up with other services we can offer to our clients or new things we can offer to help our tenants like helping them make extra money by doing tasks for us or helping us in some way. Saturday evening is used for researching new software, new strategies, to train myself with business and real estate trainings from top people. Sunday I use to concentrate only on me. Every day during the week is always used for meetings, viewing new properties, closings and things like that. I also fit accounting, ordering new direct mail campaigns, new marketing lists to target and stuff like that. We definitely have a full day every day. We continue to grow and I am able to delegate more and more. I have come far from 12 months ago where I had only 1 virtual assistant and I did everything else. Now I have re-housing coordinators and territory managers which take a huge load off me and a partner who does just as much as me. To me I love this so I could work all day and night and it’s never feeling like work. It just feels like what I do. I’m following my dream, I’m filling my goals so it’s enjoyable to me.
5) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
Everything. I wish I knew everything I know now. I say that cause when I started I was totally winging it. I never had any business training, no marketing training and now that I think about it I had no training except for real estate financing but that was nothing like running my own business, nothing. I had to learn accounting, hiring techniques, marketing, structuring and developing departments, systems and processes, Oh man I could go on because I knew zero. I only knew how to do a deal that was it and was far from enough. I had a rough time in the beginning but I kept pushing and pushing and not giving up and within time I figured it out. The two main things that stand-out that really changed my business that I wish I knew was putting systems and processes in place, this way my business could run even if I was not there which then allowed me to work on my business and not just in my business.
6) Do you have a product/ program/ service you want to promote and what are the details?
I designed a proprietary strategy called “Strategic Foreclosure Avoidance” where we help homeowners save their homes, their future and their credit from foreclosure which is all funded by us. We never ask them for a dollar and we also put money in their pocket even if they have NO equity or owe more than their home is worth. We have brought help to New Yorkers by giving them an additional option other than the ones out there that put them in a worse situation rather than making it better. I attached to my email a few things we provide to homeowners that lay the entire foreclosure process out for them, all their options, all the pros and cons of each option, we explain our options and program and a bunch of other stuff. We have also just broken into New Jersey, Florida and Connecticut and plan to keep going. If you review the short e-book I attached in the email it will give you a better overview and detail into what we do.
7)How is your program different than any other option people have to help them with foreclosure?
Our program provides a win-win for homeowners facing foreclosure and is the only program / option that does that in the entire market place. First we cover all expenses. Two, we provide a top foreclosure defense / litigation attorney for the homeowner, again that we pay for. Third, we put up the money to renovate the entire home. Four, we place the homeowner into a new and affordable place to live which we pay for 1st month and security (if needed). Fifth, we then fill the home with disabled veterans or special needs tenants that throws off a residual income of 2-4 times market rent which we share with the homeowner which puts a nice monthly income in their pocket. Also we are giving a top notch home for our disabled vets and special needs community to live in which includes everything from utilities, to furniture to housekeeping. So not only does our program save the homeowner from foreclosure but the home also goes to house disabled vets or special needs people. A true win-win program that helps many and combats the destructive foreclosures banks are so quick to do and also helps combat homelessness.
8)How much does this cost?
Nothing, It’s free. The homeowner pays nothing. We cover all expenses.
To connect further with Michael, visit
Website URL: Steward Development
Twitter Handle: @stewardrei2014
Facebook Page: Facebook.com/StewardRedevelopment/