Jenny Rojer - From Higher Education To Real Estate


Jenny Rojer enjoyed a career in higher education before beginning her journey into real estate. About 5 years ago she got involved with a group that provided real estate education, which allowed her to learn a lot about the industry and different strategies. She decided to make the jump in as an agent in the summer of 2022. Since then, she's worked on residential properties as well as investment properties, while also running a short-term rental of her own. She's focused a lot of her time and attention on growing her social media presence. Hear Jenny share her journey as she's building and growing her real estate agent and real estate investment business.

In this episode, you will be able to:

  • See how Jenny was able to learn about real estate investing while still in her career in higher education
  • Learn how cultivating relationships in real estate fosters trust and opens doors to opportunities
  • Find out how Jenny and her business partner launched a short-term rental in Minnesota and eventually sold it for a large gain
  • Employ effective networking strategies for real estate agents and understand how it expands your professional circle and brings in new leads.
  • Crafting captivating content on social media boosts your online presence and attracts potential clients.
  • Integrating real estate investing with personal growth cultivates a mindset for long-term achievement and fulfillment.

The key moments in this episode are:
00:00:00 - Niche and Pivot to Women Investors in Real Estate
00:07:13 - Overcoming Fear and Taking the Leap
00:11:38 - Pros and Cons of Residential and Investor Real Estate
00:13:18 - Social Media Strategy and Lead Generation
00:14:19 - Building Relationships and Generating Leads
00:14:21 - Networking and Lead Generation
00:18:34 - Authentic Branding
00:20:10 - Real Estate Investing Journey
00:25:48 - Future Real Estate Strategy
00:28:47 - Overcoming Doubt and Building Mindset
00:29:05 - Embracing the Future










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Jenny Rojer
For 2024, I'm trying to pivot and niche down to working specifically with women investors in Minneapolis and trying to help women invest in real estate, but also niche down to short term rentals, midterm rentals, buy and holds. So I'm trying to come up with engaging content around that's.

Mike Swenson
Welcome to the REL Freedom show, where we inspire you to pursue your passion to gain time and financial freedom through opportunities in real estate. I'm your host, Mike Swenson. Let's get some REL Freedom together. All right, welcome, everybody, to another episode of REL Freedom, real estate leverage freedom, talking about building time and financial freedom through opportunities in real estate. And I'm so excited. Today we're going to talk to an agent who is a little bit newer in the business. For those of you that are listening that want to get into real estate, want to get into real estate investing, maybe don't know what path you're going to be in yet, and so you're still figuring it out. That's exactly where our guest Jenny Rojer is at, or was at in the past, still working through what she wants to do or kind of where she's going to land, but certainly has a little bit more in her rear view mirror now. And so we're so excited to hear her share her story, kind of her thought process, what she's looking to do and where she wants to go, but she's still figuring it out. And so that's why we wanted to have her as a guest. And so she is a local agent friend of mine in the Minneapolis St. Paul area with property geeks. And Jenny, do you want to just maybe share a little bit about your background before you got into real estate and kind of what led you to real estate? And we'll go from there.

Jenny Rojer
Yeah. So my background is actually in higher education student affairs specifically. I was not a professor. Nothing wrong with that. But a lot of people think that I taught something at a college, but I did not do that. I worked outside of the classroom in different areas like student life, student services, financial aid, et cetera. So in 2017, I went to graduate school for that, have a master's degree in higher education administration. And during my second year of graduate school, I started learning about real estate investing. I had a friend approach me and said, hey, I found these super cool real estate investing classes. You should look into them. You should come to this event with me. And so I was like, okay, well, I'm really busy right now, but why not? I don't really know anything about real estate, but it'd be cool to learn about. And my sister is actually a realtor as well. So decided to start learning about real estate investing in 2018 and then worked in higher education for five years. And then as I was working in higher education, loved it, loved working with students, loved the career, but then kind of always had that drive for entrepreneurship. And I kind of was like, if my sister could do it and be a successful realtor, I can do it, too. And I think real estate investing is cool. So jumped in in July 2022, went full time real estate and haven't looked back.

Mike Swenson
Yeah. So is it a competition to see who can be the better realtor or you're on the same side working together?

Jenny Rojer
Yeah. So my sister is in real estate, I think, for three or four years. She's been a realtor for three or four years doing more residential stuff, but she's also in real estate investing now. She's moved into raising private money for apartment syndications. So, like, real estate development. So she's actually not really doing residential real estate. She's more focusing on that, working with a real estate developer and doing that in South Dakota, actually. But she really helped me during the first couple of months of my career because mindset was really hard. I was like, why would I walk away from a comfortable nine to five job to jump into something that I did not feel comfortable doing? And I was like, this is really scary. I had a lot of anxiety about it. But she's been a really great support system for me. And yeah, she's also the one that kind of pushed me into the real estate classes that we both purchased in 2018.

Mike Swenson
So thinking to hear it's scary, it's the unknown and all of that. So what was that tipping point for you where you said, okay, it's worth the risk? I know it's risky, I know it's scary. There's a lot of uncertainty, but kind of what allowed you to get over that? Or what do you see as maybe the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that makes it worth the hassle, worth the frustration, worth the uncertainty in the meantime?

Jenny Rojer
Yeah, I come from a low income family, so I saw my parents fight about money my whole life. I just knew that I did not want to grow up and be that way. I wanted to develop a healthy relationship with money, and I was really interested in higher education. And the main theme when I was trying to pick something to do when I was in college, like, what's my major going to be? What am I going to do? After college, the main theme always came back to helping people. And I really liked building relationships with people and being able to work with people in that way. And so with real estate, I was kind of thinking like, oh, since I'm involved in an investor community, there's a community that came with the classes that I bought in 2018. So I was attending those events that happen weekly, and I was just seeing how much real estate can change someone's life if you really apply it and dive fully into it. And I was also just struggling at a point in my career with higher education where I was like, do I really want to move up into leadership? Do I want to become an assistant director? Director? And it just didn't feel right to me. And I knew I had potential to do something like become a realtor and have my own business because I was able to make it through college, graduate school, that was hard, very hard. So I was kind of just like, you know what? If I'm going to try something new, I'm going to do it now. I'm young, and you don't have to be young necessarily. But for me, I was like, I don't have a family yet. I just got married a couple of years ago. Now would be the great, perfect time for me to really jump and go all in. And if it doesn't work, that was my mindset at the time. Well, if it doesn't work, I have my degrees, I have my experience, I can go back to higher education. And my husband really supported me, to be fully honest. He was like, you can do it, let's do it. Keep going. And I was like, okay. So really leaning on my support system helped me, but just doing it.

Mike Swenson
Yeah. And I can say, as somebody who, having been in real estate on the admin side for six years before I jumped into kind of the agent life myself and get rid of that w two job, there's a lot more thought process, I would say, that comes in when I had three kids. So I've got three kids giving up my w two. I look back and wish I would have done it sooner. And so doesn't take away the easiness of it, but it at least gives you a longer path. And that's the cool thing about real estate, is you can go in any path if you're working the job that you had. Yes, you can create your own path, but it's kind of like, okay, if you want to stay where you're at, you get the next promotion. The next promotion, the next promotion. And here it's like, I could cut this way, I could cut that way, and all of it. You're still kind of building on the knowledge you've gained, the relationships you've built, the people that you've connected with. And so if you want to decide to go this path, great. If you want to go a different path, that's fine, too. So a lot of people talk about, I quit my nine to five so that I could go work. 24/7 is kind of how it works in real estate, but at least I get to decide what I do that 24/7 so talk a little bit about working on the residential side versus working with investors or wanting to continue to grow working with investors. Some people like the residential, some people like the investor side. You're still kind of in the middle here. Talk about maybe some of the pluses of each side or how you're thinking about how you want to pursue your future, having your feet in kind of both camps right now.

Jenny Rojer
Yeah. So like I said, I got licensed in July 2022. So I've been licensed about a year and a half. So when I was starting out, I was just like, I don't know anything about being licensed. Like, yay, I passed the test. I have my license number. I really needed to dive in and kind of see what being a realtor was like. So I was just like, I'm going to try and take anybody that comes to me assuming they're a good fit for me, but that's kind of how I just was like, okay, I'm going to be working in residential real estate. I know I have the investment background, but also I think it was the mindset thing, too. I joined a team that's very residential heavy. There are investment pieces to the team, but the team is very residential heavy when it comes to being a realtor. So then kind of just dove in and I guess the pros have been what I'm doing is working. So, like, connecting with my sphere, networking with people, posting on social media, that stuff has started working. I'm not going to say that it worked overnight, because it did not. It took me nine months to get my first closing, but pros to that is like, I like the emotional connection. I work with a lot of first time home buyers, so I like being that person that is kind of leading or guiding them, helping them feel empowered in their decision to buy a house or sell a house, because it's scary. The first time I bought a house, I was like, I don't know what the heck I'm doing. So I like that. I think a con of residential real estate is, I think the emotional piece can be a pro because then you get to be that person. You get to celebrate with them at the end, but then it can also be a con. It's really hard sometimes to try to work with people, and I've realized it's kind of hard to. People's emotions change overnight, so someone could be really happy about a property and then the next day they're like freaking out. So that can be a con. Another con is especially with buyers, you're driving around looking at different properties can take a lot of time. You're on call and then working with investors. I like working with investors because it's more numbers based and you can present a property to an investor and then be like, hey, I did this analyzation for you. What do you think about that? And then they're the ones that kind of execute and decide if they want to go for that. So I've only worked with a few investors, but I've liked both sides. I think I do want to move towards working with investors because I think that's my niche, specifically women and short term rentals, because that's my background too.

Mike Swenson
Well, yeah, it's interesting because I had a closing that got moved by a couple of weeks, and this is an investment closing. And it's like, at least you don't have to worry about the moving truck being loaded up and ready. Typically the sale is dependent on a future buy. And so now it's like their lives are adjusted here. It's kind of like, okay, the closing got moved. Now in this case, they are actually going to own or occupy for the buyers. I'm on the listing side, but at least it's in their timing. They kind of knew what was coming. And it's not like one is dependent on the other. And so it's like, okay, the seller, not ideal, but instead of getting my check now, I get my check two weeks from now or something like that. Versus the emotion of the residential side is challenging. So you mentioned about growing on social media. So talk about some of your strategy or some of your thoughts behind the types of content you want to create, what you want to appeal to people. Because somebody that's seen your stuff, like, yeah, you get a lot of feedback on it, you get a lot of comments on stuff. It's really engaging, it's really well thought out. And so I'd love to hear kind of your thoughts for a newer agent looking to kind of establish that social media presence.

Jenny Rojer
Yeah. So this is actually very timely because my team did our 2024 business planning event a couple of days ago. So thinking about the next year, what my strategies are going to be in terms of lead generation, but specifically for social media, has been on my mind. So this is great. Right now, I am focusing on related to social media, Facebook, Facebook groups, and Instagram, what I'm doing, and I'm kind of combining with Facebook groups, networking. So I have joined a lot of different investment groups on Facebook and all, you know, for an hour or two each day, I'm looking through those Facebook groups and I'm commenting on whatever that I can provide value to. I don't like to be that salesy agent. I would rather, like I said before, it's all about helping people for me, and I just get a lot of satisfaction from being able to help someone. I don't know what it is. I'm just like, oh, I love being that person and helping someone or providing advice. So because I've done that, I've actually gotten a lead and a client from doing that, or I've had people reach out to me, specifically investors. Jenny, you know, my name is so and so. I live in Minneapolis. I would love to reach out to you and do some networking. I see your name all the time in these groups. And for me, that's not necessarily hard to do because when you're doing lead generation, you don't want it to be something where you're, oh, like, cold calling is not for me. I think it works for know, but not for me. I know I would not enjoy that. And it feels like work. This doesn't actually feel like work to me. I like connecting with people and networking, so I focus on Facebook for that. For Instagram specifically. I'm always on my stories. And again, that hasn't ever been hard for me. I post random things about my life and related to real estate. I throw real estate in there. I kind of show what I'm doing throughout my day, and then I also have been really big on reels. So my team, we have someone that teaches on social media a lot, and I've learned a lot from her. Her name is Hannah Smith. You should follow her. If you don't, she's on the property geeks team as well. But she talks a lot about being engaging on social media and being intentional. So before I post a reel, I engage with people on my stories. I'll comment on something. I will dm them, I will follow them. I try to be engaging before I post and then afterwards, so that it tricks the algorithm to push out my content to those people as well. In terms of strategies, I'm trying to pivot. So a lot of my content has been surrounded around tips for buyers, tips for sellers, more of the residential real estate for 2024. I'm trying to pivot and niche down to working specifically with women investors in Minneapolis and trying to help women invest in real estate, but also niche down to short term rentals, midterm rentals, buy and holds. So I'm trying to come up with engaging content around that and I'm working on that right now.

Mike Swenson
Yeah. One of the words that I've heard from somebody that's done it is it's either infotainment or edutainment is how I've heard it described. So it's that mix of I'm educating but also trying to draw them in versus just the talking head, giving information. Yeah, it's mixing that information piece with creativity. And I think you do a good job of doing that and then telling your story as well, where people feel like, oh, I feel like I get to know her a little bit better because she's open up and sharing some things. So it's been great to watch.

Jenny Rojer
Thank you. Yeah, I feel like I try to, with my brand, I really try to think about what do I want my brand to be. I want people to know they can approach me. I'm friendly, I'm funny. At least I think I'm funny. I don't know, but I try to make reels that are funny. And I've had feedback from people saying like, oh, that's really funny. And I like to be quirky, too. But also I like to help people feel empowered and just show up and be authentic because I'm not perfect. I think it's important for people to know that social media can be dangerous because people share everything that's good. Most of the time, you want to share your accomplishments, you want to be positive, all that stuff. But I also like to try to be a little vulnerable. I think I could do a better job doing that, but it's tough, like being vulnerable and putting yourself out there and you don't know who's really following you as you gain more followers and stuff. But I try to think about what do I want my brand to be? How can I really make content that helps educate and empower women specifically? And I also focus on women because that's my interest and because a lot of my followers, I look at my analytics, a lot of them are women specifically like millennials?

Mike Swenson
So you're not taking the approach of the Rolls Royce with the jewelry and the expensive heels and dresses? I haven't seen that in front of the $5 million house. That's not your brand.

Jenny Rojer
No. I mean, I would love to have super nice things. I think I do have really nice things. But, for example, we did a kitchen remodel. Our kitchen remodel costs like, $100,000. And I know that if I'm talking to someone and that's the first time that I've met them saying that to them, they might be like, oh, my God, she has money, or I drive a nice car, stuff like that. But I like to really talk about, it's taken me a lot of work to get here. I grew up low income. I'm never going to forget that part of my identity, no matter how successful I get. Maybe I'll become a millionaire. Who knows? That'd be great. But I'm always going to go back to remembering where I started and how much it took to get there and just really the grit. And I like to show people that I work hard and I'm grateful and all that stuff. I don't know if that answers, but.

Mike Swenson
People want to connect with the authentic you, and you're doing a good job displaying that. You're not trying to hide something else or display something else. You're just really showing, this is me. This is who I am. And the people that are drawn to that like a magnet are going to like that. And so you don't have to be what other people are. You get to be yourself. And the right people that are going to come to you will because they see that and they're attracted to that. So you'd mentioned kind of short term rentals, midterm rentals, wanting to focus on that. I also know that you had a short term rental and ran with that. So talk a little bit about the investing side, what you've done, the lessons you've learned, and what you want to do on the investing side of things.

Jenny Rojer
Yeah. So, like I mentioned, I bought some real estate investing courses in 2018. So what I really did was I started getting educated. I'm not fully educated either. I still have access to those classes. They're all on demand, and I refer back to those classes a lot. But I really started learning as much as I could, listening to podcasts, working on my mindset, trying to figure out, okay, how can I get a property? How can I make this happen for me? And it was scary. Finally, from 2018 to 2020, myself and some business partners decided to offer on a duplex property in southwest Minneapolis. And it was off market. We found it off market by doing ringless voicemails. The ringless voicemail actually was sent to a neighbor in that area. And the neighbor, you know, thanks for calling. I'm not selling my property, but I know someone who is that lives down the block. And so we got connected to that person from that, which was pretty cool. I don't know if that happens a lot, but that was very cool that it happened to us. So then eventually got that under contract, and we house hacked it. So myself and my business partners, who are my husband, my sister, and my brother in law, we all moved into one unit, and we had tenants on the other side that, quote, came with the property, unquote. Not really, but they were already there, and they had a lease in place. So it was nice because we already had that built in. And then we started renovating it. We finished the basement. We did all of the work ourselves, most of the work ourselves. And we added a bedroom, a living space, and a bathroom down there to increase equity. So the duplex was a two bedroom, one bathroom on each side. And then the one we moved into, we added a bedroom and bathroom. So it was three bedrooms, two bathrooms. So that increased our equity. And then just making it nice, we finished the kitchen. We remodeled that, everything, and then we ended up pulling a home equity line of credit on it so that we could put a down payment on my husband and I, so we could put a down payment on our current property in Edina. That's how we bought our property. And as we were moving, our tenants that were already there told us, hey, we put an offer on a house. We closed at the end of the month, and we were closing on our house. So we were like, okay, we got to pivot now what are we going to do? So we had to look for tenants to live in our unit that we were moving from. And then for the other side, my business partners and I were like, well, what if we try short term rental? So we started analyzing the area. We started looking on Airbnb, seeing what other people are renting for. I had access to my real estate investing classes to learn about how to run a short term rental. And then we launched that in October 2022. And then I was grossing probably $3,000 a month, and I was getting short term rents. So less than a week of guests staying in the property, and then some were staying for a month and a half, two months, even three months. We had somebody stay from December 2022 until end of March 2023. Lessons I've learned from that. I think I learned a lot when we were dating. Everything, it's hard to do. Taping and mudding.

Mike Swenson
I agree.

Jenny Rojer
I will never do that myself again. I think we did a decent job, but you can definitely see in the property where we didn't do so well. But I think it was a really cool experience to learn how it actually works and see renovations work and getting to know the different contractors that we used and stuff like that. But I think the lesson for that would be hire it out if you can, and it's okay to hire it out. It just took a long time to do it all by ourselves, but we were trying to save money. Other lessons. So I no longer have the duplex. We sold it in August 2023, and it wasn't anything that was going wrong with the duplex. Our business partners and I, we bought the property in July 2020, and then by the time, three years later, I think our plan just changed. So I would say if you're going to go into a partnership with someone, really talk about how it's going to look at that present moment, but also have a plan for the next year, three years, five years, really think about how that's going to look and talk about what ifs, because I don't think we really did that. We just got excited, jumped on the opportunity to get the duplex, which was great. But now we don't have the duplex, which isn't a huge deal, but we use that money. We got $220,000 of equity from doing all that work. From the location, the property value increased. We were able to take that money and put it into our kitchen. That's how we were able to do $100,000 kitchen remodel. We didn't just have 100 grand.

Mike Swenson
So what do you think about the future now? Like, maybe the next property, maybe the next strategy? What are you thinking about?

Jenny Rojer
I was actually talking to my husband about this last night. For the next year, I would like to get two properties under contract and closed on. So I would like to do buy and want. I really want one of those properties to be a short term rental or a midterm rental. I'm thinking hopefully up north in northern Minnesota or in western Wisconsin. I'm studying for my Wisconsin license. Right. You know, doing the short term rental would probably be in the spring, but I don't know if there's a property now that I can get before all the craziness that's supposed to be happening with the interest rates going down. If there's a good deal, I want to try to execute and get that sooner than that. But the next year I'd like to get two. And I want to build up a diverse portfolio of buy and hold. I want to have long term rentals, short and midterm rentals. And then I think as I become more comfortable with that, I would like to move into maybe syndication or more of the scary stuff, but I want to use real estate for retirement for sure.

Mike Swenson
Well, and it's awesome you're learning and moving forward because like you said, never wanting to have to mud and tape again. Well, the way that you learn that is by doing it. And so you learn those lessons. And so in a lot of ways, you learn what you like to do and what you don't like to do. And so it's important to still go through that. And so learning about future strategy with business partners, well, you got a chance to learn that and figure out, okay, for the next one, here's what we want to do. So there's a lot of cool things that you get. And this is why I always come back to the advice of get started to get better. You're not going to be able to think through everything. So you got to find a reasonable risk tolerance, move forward, and then that path can adjust over time. So it's fun to see the stuff that you're doing and exciting to see where you're at and where you're going to go. For people that want to reach out to you, how can they do that?

Jenny Rojer
Yeah. So for people that want to reach out to me, you can follow me on instagram. My instagram is Jenny real estate. Last name is spelled R-O-J-E-R pronounced with a y. You can also add me on Facebook, just Jenny Rojer. And I believe Mike's going to link those in this podcast as well. On the bottom, we'll actually have it.

Mike Swenson
Flashed the entire episode, just on the screen the whole time. That's awesome.

Jenny Rojer
You could do that, too. Sure. Whatever works.

Mike Swenson
Well, thank you, Jenny, for coming on and sharing your story. It's fun to watch the journey as we've known each other the last few months and excited to see where you continue to go. So congratulations on what you're doing. I know it's not easy. I can speak for that myself. Like, there's so many times you're doubting your decisions and mindset and having to focus on growing that, but it's fun to see where it goes and who knows where the future leads, but at least you've built a lot of experience and you're just going to continue to compound off of that. So thanks so much for coming on the show.

Jenny Rojer
Thank you so much. Appreciate you having me. You, Samuel.



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