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Whitney Chaffin: Providing Second Chances Through Real Estate

Uncategorized Oct 21, 2021

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What if you were able to use your knowledge and experience in real estate to help provide a second chance for others - particularly those reentering life after incarceration, addiction, or other circumstances? This is Whitney's mission - to utilize her real estate background to help others. Growing up as a second generation investor, Whitney got to watch her father do it all in the investment space, and saw the doors it opened. Along the way, she's competed as a contender for Miss Florida, is a motivational speaker/trainer around the US, has worked with over 55 nonprofit organizations through the years, invested, got her real estate license, and is also a new mom! Hear Whitney share what drives her to help others and how she's building the life she wants to live and focus on the people she wants to help!

 

In this episode, hosted by Mike Swenson, we discussed:

  • Whitney grew up in Ohio, on the border of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Her father worked as real estate investor when she was a kid and she was exposed in this industry.
  • She went to college at Kent State University, went for broadcasting, and growing up she has no desire to be in real estate.
  • Her first job was working at a car dealership and she knew nothing about cars and nothing about Sales. Her role in the car dealership is to promote their cars or their brands at these nonprofit events
  • At 25 she switched to real estate and got her license. 2016 she invested in real estate. She took education classes to learn about the different strategies.
  • 2016 they started a recovery home but eventually got closed. Now she focused on helping people coming out of prison.
  • 2018 she started traveling as a coach/speaker and educate people about real estate.

Timestamps:

00:00 - Intro and overview on Whitney’s career
01:37 - Talking about Whitney’s background and her career.
05:42 - Lessons that she’ve learned from her dad as a real estate investor.
11:55 - Talking about her recovery home.
18:38 - Her thinking about her future in real estate and her goal.
22:09 - Talking about Whitney’s traveling around for being a speaker.
25:32 - Whitney’s advise and tips to people and how they can connect with her.

 

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Personal: https://www.whitneychaffin.com/ 
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Legacy Education: https://legacyeducationalliance.com/ 

 

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Full transcript here:

Mike Swenson 

Welcome to the REL freedom podcast 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 real freedom together.

 

Mike Swenson 

All right, welcome everybody to another episode of the real freedom podcast. And today we've got a little bit of a different field. So we always often talk about real estate, you know, building wealth and gaining financial freedom. And today, I'm so excited to have Whitney Chaffin on and she's going to share with us how she's been using opportunities in real estate, to give back to do good and to help others out. And so this is more of a an others focused episode. And so we're so excited to have Whitney on so just a little bit of a background about her former Miss Florida USA contender. She's worked with 55 plus nonprofits throughout her years, second generational investor, and teaches 10s of 1000s of people across the nation, how to use real estate as a way to provide second chances and build wealth at the same time. So welcome, Whitney. We're so excited to have you on.

 

Whitney Chaffin 

Thank you. I'm so excited to be here. I love talking and I love promoting kind of the good of what I do. So this is exciting.

 

Mike Swenson 

Yeah, so so for those folks. And just to kind of get started, why don't you talk a little bit about your background, kind of your upgrade upbringing, and how that shaped kind of who you are today and why you're doing what you're doing with your career opportunities in real estate.

 

Whitney Chaffin 

Sure. So I, I was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and I grew up in Ohio, right on the border of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. And I always like to mention that because where I grew up was really that hard work mentality of working that nine to five and you know, there was no job too big, no task too big. My dad was a workaholic. He had five jobs when I was growing up, along with being a real estate investor. So I grew up, you know, watching my dad rehab properties he had, I think 12 properties by the time I was 12 years old. So I you know, I was I was really invested in the business as a kid, just knowing what that all entailed in terms of managing properties, fixing them up all of that. But when I was about 21 years old, I was living in Los Angeles at the time, I went to college at Kent State University, went for broadcasting, you know, growing up, I had no desire to do real estate. So I went the other way.

 

Whitney Chaffin 

So at 21 years old, I was living in Los Angeles, and kind of had this epiphany that I didn't like living in LA. I didn't like TV. I didn't like everything that I had gone to school for. And so I found myself shortly after that in Delray Beach, Florida, which is where I still live today. And here in Delray, I wanted to just do something to kind of get me out of the TV world. And so my first job was working at a car dealership, and I knew nothing about cars, nothing about sales. But I had this TV background. So I was working in the marketing department, for the car dealership. And one of the unique things about this dealership is the owners of the dealership, were actually completely blind, they had no usable vision whatsoever. So as a way for them to do advertising. They liked to work with nonprofits, they'd like to give back because they, you know, had a disability of their own. So they just had this appreciation for people that didn't give back. And fortunately, because they owned this car dealership, they were worth a lot of money. And so they had a ton of money that they could put into these nonprofits.

 

Whitney Chaffin 

So my role at the car dealership was to, basically, in terms of advertising is we would promote our cars or our brands at these nonprofit events. So we would have cars on display, and signage and all of that. So when I first started working there, there was I think, six nonprofits that we worked with. By the time I was done working there, we were up to I think 67 nonprofits that we were a part of, and that really helped me understand the need for housing that all of these individuals that I was meeting that have these disabilities or have these these unfortunate circumstances still needed a place to rest their head at night. So um, you know, going through and working with these nonprofits, I had no idea where my life was going to lead in terms of that, but by the time I was 25, although I loved working at the car dealership, I did not want to work for somebody else. And I think that hard work mentality I've always had was kind of why I was there for so long, because I wasn't making a whole lot of money, and I was doing a lot of jobs.

 

Whitney Chaffin 

So I finally again, had another epiphany that I wanted to do something else. And so my dad was not only a real estate investor, but he had also worked for a real estate education company. And so I told my dad at 25 dad, I think you were right, I probably should have learned how to invest in real estate because I don't like working for somebody else. I don't want to ask for permission to have holidays off. And so at 25 is when I kind of got my start as an investor and then just recently with COVID half I got my real estate license and so through the years I've kind of paired that giving back and working with nonprofits with real estate and that's kind of what I do now.

 

Mike Swenson 

Yeah, now it's interesting because there's a lot of people that you know that I've known or even had on the podcast that have grown up in real estate and and kind of decided like yeah it's it's not for me and then they find a way to circle back so So talk a little bit about you know, you said growing up you'd you kind of did all this stuff you saw the stuff talk about your experience there and and you know you obviously your your dad was a hard worker but what what are some of the lessons that you kind of learned or are the opportunities that you saw just growing up you know, with with having a parent who was an investor

 

Whitney Chaffin 

sure so you know, the good thing about owning real estate I will say very quickly is that you can kind of control the income and you have the ability to control what you're doing and the you know, the the days of working basically you're not working a nine to five for somebody else with a structured to do list but growing up watching my dad you know, I remember pipes freezing in the middle of winter time and him having to leave in the middle of the night to handle it. I remember tenants trashing our properties.

 

Whitney Chaffin 

There's a story that I tell because I'm a professional speaker and I traveled the country teaching what I do, and I tell this story where I remember my entire family we got fleas from tenants that I trashed our properties that my mom actually made us take all of our clothes off outside of our house before walking in so when I was about seven years old, I saw my dad naked which was traumatizing but we had to take all of our clothes off because my mom was so afraid that we would infest our home with fleas and she has the same to she says that she has seen everything in a rental property except for a dead body and she's not lying you know there's there's a right way to do this business and there's certainly a wrong way and not that my dad was doing things the wrong way but he was doing everything himself and so I that's what I didn't want you know I didn't want people calling me because something was breaking or you know the heat was out or the water was out or whatever because of pipes freezing or you know a storm or whatever.

 

Whitney Chaffin 

And that's the stuff I did I did not like but I did see the wealth that it provided my family with I mean I went to Hawaii when I was eight years old and most people during their whole life of going to a place like that I've now been there probably seven times because of just the the mentality I think and the mindset that you have when you understand how to make money work for you. And so I'm about my dad very quickly when I was growing up he was doing everything himself but when I was about 11 years old, my dad heard a an infomercial on TV about this real estate workshop to teach people how to invest in real estate and we've all heard them you know there are several companies out there that do it. But my dad heard this ad and he went to it with a friend at work and you know was thinking you know, I already do real estate

 

Whitney Chaffin 

What are these people actually going to teach me but they started talking about leveraging other people's money and the value of asset protection and understanding the tax benefits that come along with real estate and so my dad had did things creatively up until that point but on a small scale so he decided you know what, fine, I'll spend some money I'll go learn about this stuff. And in a matter of about five and a half months my dad went from owning 12 properties to 60 and when he did that by learning how to invest the right way then the game changed and then my dad you know, we went from my parents making six figure salary to seven figures and him increasing his you know, his net worth I think it was by $2 million. And so with all of that stuff happening, I really did see it but many of my memories were from my dad working like a dog and so I did not want anything to do with that I really thought the path for me was the exact opposite direction which is also kind of unique because along with my dad being a real estate investor, he was also a videographer and did a lot of production and that's actually what I went to school for. So it's funny how even though you think you're not following your parents path, sometimes you actually are

 

Mike Swenson 

Yeah, so were these properties like single family small multifamily or more apartment complex

 

Whitney Chaffin 

Combination. So I think the first property that my dad ever purchased before I was even born was a commercial property and he turned it into a gym because he was a professional bodybuilder as well. So that was his first thing and then the house that I lived in growing up for from age like birth to five years old. My dad purchased it was single family on owner financing where he only paid like 200 bucks a month to own the property. And then the next property that I remember him purchasing was a commercial building that was a former I think train station and they turned it into a new gym and tanning salon and massage therapy Wellness Center. And then during that whole time period from like the time I was born to 11 years old, he had both multifamily single family a couple duplexes commercial, and I believe a mobile home park. That was like a family thing.

 

Mike Swenson 

Got it. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. And it's interesting to see I mean, a lot of times people think you know that that's kind of the the negative of the being investors. Yeah, you're the person answering All the late night calls that come in and just understand that Yeah, there is leverage out there. And you can find ways to do what you like to do, and then have other people do the things that you don't like to do. And you know, there's there's plenty of room or plenty of money to go around as well. Because you can grow faster when you have good people and good leverage around you, like your dad being able to go from 12 to 60 units. And then it's finding the right people. So that Yeah, you get to pick and choose what you want to do.

 

Whitney Chaffin 

Absolutely. And I think that's the big shift is he went eventually, from doing everything himself to having property managers and having a maintenance crew and handy people. And then he wasn't answering the phones, you know, at that point, he was actually invited to work for the company that he had learned from, and he started going out there and training and mentoring students. And that's been the bulk of his career now since I was a kid is training other people how to do it, while also having the properties that are just bringing in money that he doesn't have to worry about. So when I saw it in that light it at 25, I'm like, Oh, my gosh, my God's doing it, why am I not just, you know, learning from him while I still have the opportunity?

 

Mike Swenson 

Yeah. And you can invest in real estate, and it doesn't have to be a full time job, it can be very passive. It doesn't have to be okay, I own this property. Now I'm there every single day working on it doing it, it could just simply be you know, if you do something where it's like a syndication, it's, here's my money, just tell me how much money I've made. So there's very various degrees of how involved you want to be, or how involved you want to be in the decision making process. That's the beauty of investing in real estate is you can kind of pick which lane you want to be in, and be as involved or not as involved as you want to be.

 

Whitney Chaffin 

Exactly. And I think that's kind of what it's been, you know, what's been most desirable about it to me is that is that you don't have to be the one handling everything. And you can pick and choose what makes sense for you.

 

Mike Swenson 

So then talk a little bit too, because I know, we haven't gotten into this yet, that you had created a recovery home.

 

Whitney Chaffin 

Yes. So now What year is it? 2021? Yeah, wow, it's been a while. But, um, in 2016, that's when I was learning how to invest in real estate. So I actually invested in myself, I took education classes to learn about the different strategies. And one strategy I learned about was creative financing. So learning how to, you know, leverage other people's money. And I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. I didn't, you know, for a long time, but I really do see things align in my life. And I really believe that. So one day, it was in August of 2016, I think I was walking into the post office, and I actually made a wrong turn that day, I was supposed to go get my oil changed, I turned the wrong way. So I just ran to the post office to drop something off. And when I went in, this guy stopped me and he was like, Hey, I never do this. But I have to ask you do you want to go get lunch with me. And I was like, kind of put off, you know, off foot a little bit. And I was like, I'm sorry, who are you? And so we got to talking and come to find that he was in the recovery space. And so at this point, he was I think two years sober for himself.

 

Whitney Chaffin 

And he was a businessman, you know, he worked in a treatment center, and he was getting ready to purchase a property to turn into a recovery home. And I knew nothing about recovery. But I knew everything about real estate, and Russians everything, but I knew quite a bit about real estate. Yes. And I actually have a lot of friends and family members who suffer from drug and alcohol addiction. So it's always been I'm probably say, from the time I was seven years old, a population of people who really speak to my heart that I've always just been compelled to lend a helping hand to those individuals. And so when I met him, it was kind of like fate. You know, like there was this, it was meant to be that we were meeting at that moment in time to turn this into something. So long story short, about a month later, we get this recovery home, and it's filled by the people that he knew. And it was structured more so on my expertise.

 

Whitney Chaffin 

So my mom and I went and like furnished it, we painted the little things that need to be painted because we understood the renovation work and all of that. And from there, it just it became a recovery home. And so we ended up making a significant amount of money on that for months, but they had a moratorium put into the city of Delray Beach, which basically said you cannot have any more recovery homes in this area. And that's because for every good person that was doing it, there were several bad people doing it and really abusing the recovery individuals that were you know, going through and getting treatment. So we ended up closing that property down. And I shifted into reentry so helping people coming out of prison was more my focus, but that's where it started, you know that that recovery home was kind of like meant to be for me because it really showed me that there's a whole nother way that you can do investing and you're actually helping people and you're really not only making money but you're giving it back and then from there now there's other groups that you know want to be a part of what you're doing or want to know how you're doing it and with that comes another income so it's been really financially rewarding but more spiritually rewarding as well.

 

Mike Swenson 

And I think it goes back to you know, you had talked about when you were working with the car dealership, Everybody needs housing, right? And, you know, being able to provide a good space for people to live at an affordable price, to help them get back on the feet to help them be in a community of other people that can help them. That stuff's really important too. I mean, even just something as simple as you know, I've had people on where they talk about, you know, people that have rented from them previously have talked about past landlords have been unresponsive, not helpful, not providing great conditions. So even just being a responsive owner, is really helpful. But But when you're doing something like that, providing a space for people to, to be in community with others to help them get back on the right path, they still need to live somewhere, and somebody has to own that building. And so you can do good and help build your wealth at the same time, and do it in a way where you're not taking advantage of them, or anything like that you're helping them and you're providing them a good space that they appreciate and love and can afford to pay for.

 

Whitney Chaffin 

Absolutely. And that that I think, too is where the the, the vision can extend because you know, my particular population I work with is drug and alcohol recovery and re entry but like you just said, Everybody needs a place to rest their head. So you may deal with women of domestic violence or victims of human trafficking. There's a an organization that I work very close with, and their name is place of hope. And they actually house children who are aging out of foster care. And so there's, there's so many organizations out there and a lot of it is funded by the government or funded by insurance or funded by, you know, just programs out there that exist that most people don't even know of. So a lot of times the the client is even paying for it at the beginning. So there's no I don't wanna say guaranteed income, but almost like guaranteed income, similar to section eight housing where they get kind of a voucher for the time being so they can get back on their feet.

 

Mike Swenson 

Yep. And I do know that sometimes, you know, people that that might be wondering, there may be issues with zoning, there may be issues with the loan that you're getting. So you, you do have to work through some of those things. Because it is a different situation. But you know, finding lenders that are willing to provide that loan, making sure that everything's on the up and up with the city that zoned correctly, you have the proper licensing in place. You know, great opportunities aren't necessarily always the easiest to so you know, there, there are an opera, there is an opportunity to do that. If you do have to walk through a little bit more red tape to make that happen. One, you then have a great financial opportunity. And two, you have a great human opportunity. Yeah. And so going through that red tape going through that little bit of extra work can certainly be worth it. But But yeah, there there are different restrictions with those types of places than just a regular duplex or four Plex or single family home for a regular investor.

 

Whitney Chaffin 

Yes. And the property we had was single family. And it was five bedrooms, three bathrooms. And at the time, there were no restrictions. But like I said, when they put the moratorium there, what they were saying is that you could no longer have more than three unrelated people under one roof. So now our five bedroom that was allowed to house 12 people legally based on dimensions and square footage could no longer so yeah, zoning is super important knowing those those laws of how many people can be there. And also, if you're in the city limits, that's a whole nother level of hoops to jump through.

 

Mike Swenson 

Okay, so switching gears a little bit, then why don't we talk a little bit about the future and where you want to go. So you just talked about getting your license, obviously, you've been an investor for a while. So what are you thinking in regards to your future and how you're going to use all your background and experience that you have for real estate and doing good to move forward.

 

Whitney Chaffin 

Um, I'm not 100% sure only because I just had a baby eight weeks ago. And so now a lot of my focus has been on being a mom. But I will say that my fiance is a general contractor. And so our goal is to kind of use my real estate license and his, you know, contracting degree, or you should say contracting license and his experience to be able to tie it into what we're already doing. So one thing is building new construction homes on the water, which actually have nothing to do with giving back you know, it's more so him just doing it as a profit. And then I get to list those properties and we sell them on speculation because right now, I mean, we live in Palm Beach County, Florida, where people are flocking here every single day.

 

Whitney Chaffin 

So huge opportunity to be able to sell properties at retail. But with the money we make from those, I think a couple things, one, the organization that we do work closely with place of hope. I donated about $25,000 to them two years ago and they built a library for all the kids that place of hope with that and they they named the library after me and my family which was pretty cool. But we'd like to do that on a bigger scale. And so they're always having opportunities for investors to donate money. And I think the the amount that I had in my head that I wanted to donate was $100,000 because with that they can go to multifamily property for their, their, the children that are in there.

 

Whitney Chaffin 

They're nonprofits so that's One thing, but I've also started my own organization called witness place. And because of COVID, it's kind of been just like dangling in the wind waiting to be launched, because there were so many things happening with properties. And with people being released from prison, that we weren't able to really get that going in the capacity that we wanted. So that's kind of my focus now is, as a real estate agent, you know, I hope to sell properties and make money in that arena. But that money that I make, I 100% intend to feel Whitney's place to start my own, and to have housing for individuals that really do need a second chance that's entirely you know, after my model, and what I want with no partners or, or anybody else kind of dictating how that should go.

 

Mike Swenson 

And we, you know, we just talked about, you know, the the freedom of time, the freedom of schedule, the freedom to be able to be a mom, and to be home when you want. And so that stuff's really important, too. And I think, you know, when people are looking at different career paths, and you know, they think about real estate, yes, there's a lot of ways that time can suck, suck up in real estate, but at the same time, it's, you get to do what you want to do. Like you mentioned before, you don't have to ask for holidays off, you get to decide that. So if you decide you want to spend a little bit more time working with your fiance, on the construction projects, great. If you want to spend a little bit more time working on Whitney's place, great, you don't have somebody telling you what you can and can't do and how you have to spend your time, you get to choose how to invest it in those different spaces, and see the seeds and the fruit from that grow.

 

Whitney Chaffin 

Exactly. And that's really the plan, you know, I only got my real estate license because it made sense. It wasn't so much that I wanted to be a real estate agent. But it's like, I know all these ways to help people get into properties if they can't qualify for a mortgage, or you know how to get a property to discount and I felt like I was being a disservice to people by not having my license to be able to help them in that arena. And so it's the same thing, you know, I got my license thinking, I'll just do it when I want when I feel like it. And that is the beauty of financial freedom. There's no way that I'd be able to be a stay at home mom, if I never learned how to invest in real estate nearly six years ago, you know, that's the power of our choices.

 

Mike Swenson 

Now, you mentioned that you also travel around and speak. What do you what do you do for that?

 

Whitney Chaffin 

So there's a company called elite legacy education. They're actually one of the pioneers of financial education. They were started in 1992 by a man by the name of Russ Whitney. So that used to be called Whitney education. And then through the years I had had several name changes. But they have been the education company for Robert Kiyosaki who wrote the book Rich Dad Poor Dad, targo Moosa from HGTV flip flopped. So they've been the leading education company for several years, and they are publicly traded, which is a benefit to any student who's investing in that company, because you have the ability to see that it's strictly education, you know, they, they don't make money off any deals you do, or anything they just teach you. So in 2016, after I did that recovery home, they actually got wind of it and invited me out to be a road crew member, they call it where I would actually help students invest in the education over the weekend.

 

Whitney Chaffin 

And then in 2018, I think it was the end of 2018, they actually asked me to come out and be a speaker. And so I've been traveling the country up until COVID, doing the free seminars that they offer their like two hour free seminars, where I would basically tell my story and a two hour presentation, and enroll students into our three day training. And, you know, at an event like that, you're learning a lot of the basics of real estate investing. So if you are brand new, it's a great place to kind of get started. And if you're a little more advanced, it's kind of a great way to see all the pieces fit together. Because for me, I knew a lot growing up, but there was so much I didn't know, and going to a place like that, or learning and investing yourself in that way is really helpful. So I would travel the country, basically speaking about that, and then when COVID happened, we kind of shut down for a little bit. And then I got pregnant. So now I've shifted and doing everything from home.

 

Mike Swenson 

Yeah, well, and I think, you know, kind of thinking about education. And you know, that's something that I've seen from so many people that are very successful is they're willing to invest in themselves. They're willing to invest to grow their knowledge base, invest in good leverage, so that you're not the 24 seven, do everything, you know, for everybody type person, but you're really selectively investing just like, you know, you know, people talk about if I were to get a, you know, a course of some sort, or if I were to get a coach of some sort, yes, I'm spending a lot of money, but just think about going to college. I mean, college is really expensive, right? You, you helped grow your knowledge, you helped maybe grow some connections that you had, make some relationships. And so why wouldn't we be willing to invest in ourselves in various ways in the future to so that we can get to that next level of where we want to go in our careers?

 

Whitney Chaffin 

Absolutely. And like my biggest thing is I went to college for journalism. And when I graduated college, I was offered a job making $18,000 a year and I made more money waitressing three days a week than I was making in the career I spent four years of my life going to school for and getting into debt for where with real estate, you know, I learned a lot strategy called wholesaling and was able to wholesale a property that took me a couple hours to do and I made more in a month doing that than I did at my job so you know it's it's the all about the return you know what what you're investing in yourself and the cool thing too about learning how to invest in real estate is that creative side of it of how to structure and you know, move money has helped me significantly in other areas of my life so it's definitely worth the investment to learn how to do it for sure.

 

Mike Swenson 

Yeah, cool. Well, any any kind of final advice or tips that you'd have for people listening?

 

Whitney Chaffin 

Um, I think the biggest thing is kind of I mean, I'm a faith based person not to push that on anybody but I like I said, I truly believe everything happens for a reason. And I think we have an inner gut feeling several times in our lives and I think if anybody who has the desire to have a jump and take that leap of faith into real estate investing or into what we call social housing or investing for both profit and purpose, you should 100% do it because I think that what you give to the world it really comes back to you and if you have any inclination of getting involved even if you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel right now just do it because it will come if you jump in you know, just figure it out later it's kind of the thing we say say yes and figure it out later.

 

Mike Swenson 

Cool. Yeah. So for folks that you know have heard your story and want to learn more How can they get ahold of you? How can they go find out more about you find more about what you're you're working on?

 

Whitney Chaffin 

There's a couple places so one would be legacyeducation.com that's just the website for education company. That's where I learned how to do it the social housing stuff so anybody who wants to learn that's going to be your best bet is actually taking the course on this so that you understand the legalities behind it and how to find the properties and structure those to reach me personally, you could probably email me at the email address with legacies [email protected] and that's [email protected] and that I they can reach me directly and I'm happy to help anyone who either needs that extra motivation or has some questions about it.

 

Mike Swenson 

Awesome. Well, thank you so much for coming on and sharing your story. Very inspiring. And

 

Whitney Chaffin 

Thank you guys so much. I really appreciate.

 

 

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