Patrick Bieleny is an accomplished real estate investor and entrepreneur based in Calgary, Alberta who specializes in house flipping. He was born in Eastern Europe and immigrated to Canada with his family where he attended the University of Toronto and graduated with a Degree in Business Management. Patrick paid for his studies by juggling several part-time jobs, all while maintaining a high standard of academic excellence. After graduation, Patrick moved to Calgary where he bought his first investment property: a condo townhouse just outside of the city. After renovating and reselling the property, Patrick started on a journey that has seen him become an acclaimed “house-flipping guru.” These days, Patrick is the head of PB & Co. Houses, which since launching has grown tremendously in both size and profitability.
How did you get started in this business?
My first experience in real estate investing was after graduating from the University of Toronto, when I purchased, renovated, and then sold a condo townhouse located near Calgary. The experience was very informative, and I realized that real estate investment and being an entrepreneur was something I had both an interest in and an aptitude for. In addition, my father worked in construction for his entire working life, and so I have always been very familiar with do-it-yourself projects, and I am no stranger to working hard and seeing complex projects through, from beginning to end. That passion and dedication has never left me and is a big part of my success today.
How do you make money?
I generate profit by identifying properties that have hidden and unrealized potential, work with experts and specialists to bring that potential to life, and then enable homeowners to purchase the home of their dreams in an ideal location. The experience is both financially and personally rewarding because I get to see the before-and-after. Many times, it is hard to imagine that it is the same house!
At the same time, I can share how I avoid losing money — which is something I learned very early on in my career, and it is a mistake that I continue to see many real estate investors make today: don’t fall in love with a home and overpay for it and don’t overlook critical aspects like the location. This latter aspect is particularly important because two comparable houses can have a significantly different market value if one of them is in a more desirable location. The gap can be tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
How long did it take for you to become profitable? When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
My first real estate investing experience was profitable. It was not an enormous profit, but it was modest and encouraging. As for having doubts early in my career, yes there were some challenges that I had to address and overcome. The most critical thing I learned is that you absolutely need to know what you are getting into. Forget about what you see on television: house flipping is not all fun and creative. It is also complex, risky, and requires a great deal of patience and very strong work ethic. There are all kinds of unexpected and unanticipated issues that can arise like construction delays, issues with contractors and trades, and even problems with squatters and burglars.
How did you get your first customer?
I found my first customer — the buyer of the renovated condo that I mentioned earlier — through my professional network.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
One highly effective marketing strategy for us is to use technology-driven solutions to generate quality leads and expand our brand in the marketplace. For example, we use real estate investing software to develop and manage direct marketing campaigns, create engaging and impressive websites for our various listings, and ultimately match customers with the home of their dreams.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
In my field, you need to make tough decisions all the time, because choices today have major implications weeks, months, and even years from now. Generally speaking though, one thing that can be challenging is coming up with creative ideas. To overcome that obstacle, I like using the app Houzz, which is similar in some ways to Pinterest in that it features an abundance of images that are very inspirational. It’s a great way to identify new trends, get fresh ideas, and break out of a creative funk.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
There is no single secret or magic formula. Overall, I would say that my success is rooted in my willingness to take risks and make bold decisions. I focus on what is possible rather than on problems and have found lucrative deals in every market — including at times when the odds of success were against me.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
This is a tough question! I can’t say that there has been one signature moment that was supremely satisfying because so much of my work is rewarding. Overall, I would say that the professional experiences that are the most fulfilling and encouraging are when I can spot amazing deals before anyone else. Unlike many other real estate investors, I focus and purchase most of my properties through off-market deals. Often, these properties are diamonds in the rough and turn out to be very lucrative.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
What excites me the most is that my job never gets boring and repetitive. Each property needs to be tailored to a specific homebuyer’s wants and needs. There is no generic one-size-fits-all template. My work is always unique, and that is very important to me and keeps me both excited and always looking forward — never behind. As for what the future holds, I think it is only going to get more dynamic as very low mortgage interest rates enable more people to enter the housing market, as well as upgrade their home to something bigger, better, or in a more desirable location.
What business books have inspired you?
There have been many business books over the years that have inspired me, but the two that stand out are The Four Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss and Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki. Both books should be mandatory reading and re-reading for all entrepreneurs who want to work smarter, not harder.
Wht advice would you give to your younger self?
The advice I would give my younger self is the same advice I would give new house flippers today: don’t get so overwhelmed and immersed in the excitement of buying your first property or your first few properties and fail to do your research and due diligence. Pay attention to all of the details, especially location. And remember that you don’t want to over-renovate a home. Having the most beautiful or feature-rich home in the neighborhood or on a street will not necessarily translate into the highest selling price.
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?
Definitely. I am an active member of the community and believe in helping others and giving back.