Stephen Kraus has achieved massive success in real estate. An accomplished entrepreneur, Stephen has been in this business for more than two decades and has perfected the art of flipping distressed and run-down properties for profit. Through his company baltimorerealtyteam.com, Stephen buys distressed properties from financial institutions, and high potential but run-down properties. His hard work, determination, and zeal for success saw him learn new ways to make money off real estate besides buying and reselling. He has through the years built a portfolio of single-family units, multi-family units, and gulf-front properties for rent. Other than business, Stephen is also a business mentor, especially on real estate matters. He has been teaching budding real estate entrepreneurs on issues like budgeting, calculations, and understanding error margins. These are some of the issues that held him back when he was starting and he would not like anyone else to go through them. Stephen’s selfless nature is also evident in his charity works. Over the years, he has given to multiple charities, and during the COVID-19 period, he has given thousands to homeless people. Apart from his business, Stephen also has quite an active social life. He is in love with the outdoors and can regularly be seen hiking or kayaking.
How did you get started in this business?
Baltimorerealtyteam.com was the result of my desire to own a real estate company that started at a very young age. I was so passionate about it that no matter the challenges I faced in the early stages of the business, giving up was never an option.
How do you make money?
I make money by buying and selling properties. Over the years, I have also built a sizeable portfolio of rental properties.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
It took me about 4 months to turn a profit. I bought a distressed high-value property and took two months customizing it to my taste. I then sold it at a 40% premium 2 months later.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
At no point did I have doubts that the business would succeed. I was so into the business that failure was simply not an option.
How did you get your first customer?
I sent word out to my friends, and within a week, I had landed my first client.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
I have found Google ads to be powerful in growing my business. Their ability to target and convert clients is unmatched.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
I had to furlough some of my staff due to COVID-19. It felt bad, but I had to do it. Luckily, things are looking good again, and I intend to bring them back.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
I strongly believe in quality, and always put customer needs first. This has helped me gain customers over the years.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
I once bought and renovated a property and when I put it on the market, someone offered me 100% of the amount I had spent. It was a huge validation of my taste in property renovation.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
The future is bright. Currently, I am excited that the world is closer to a COVID-19 vaccine than ever before. This will see the economy open up again, and businesses get back to normal.
What business books have inspired you?
I am most inspired by the book, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras. It offers valuable tips on how to run a long-lasting business.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would advise my younger self to take risks. Most times, it is the fear of risks that holds you back from achieving your full potential.
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?
Yes, I am already mentoring lots of upcoming entrepreneurs in the real estate sector. I intend to keep mentoring young entrepreneurs going into the future.