Ayesha Selden is a self made millionaire who has amassed a real estate portfolio of 0ver 30 properties and 41 units. We caught up with Ayesha to find out more about her incredible journey and accomplishments.
What inspired you to get into real estate?
When I was a kid, we lived in a rough part of South Philly that was close to Center City. We left the area when I was 18, and I told my mom that I had a feeling that area would be valuable someday.
I told her not to sell our house and that she should rent it. She was nervous about being able to find a tenant and sold it in 1997 for $35,000.
Within 10 years of her selling, that house was worth 10 times what she sold it for and today, it’s probably worth around $500k to $600k.
You are clearly an ambitious person. What drives you?
1) I have always been money motivated. I could keep a dollar as a kid. Saving is innate in me.
2) My number one fear is failure. It’s my recurring nightmare. I graduated from undergrad 19 years ago and I still dream of failing an exam or missing a final.
What is your real estate investment formula?
I am a simple and long term investor. I ask myself two questions with every property I buy:
1) Would a reasonable person live here?
I ask this because I don’t want unreasonable people living in my houses and I certainly don’t want to dance with an unreasonable maniac on the first of every month.
2) How long will this investment take to run my money back to me?
18+ months ago, the Philadelphia market was still relatively cheap. I had a requirement that any property I purchased give me a 20% cap rate. This means that I would get my entire investment back in 5 years or less.
Put simply, if I purchased a house for $50,000 cash and put $50,000 cash of renovations into the project, I’d need to be in a position to rent that house for at least $20,000/year. I’m oversimplifying but that was essentially my target. Everything beyond 5 years was playing with house money.
Briefly describe your first real estate deal and your most recent.
I purchased it from a wholesaler in a rapidly developing section of Philly. We had to remove so much of the house, it’s considered new construction on an existing foundation.
We basically have built an entirely new house minus the front wall of the house. It has been an amazing journey to get to this point.
What professional and personal traits have contributed the most to your success as an investor?
I attribute most of my success to discipline. I believe I am more disciplined than most. I have always been willing to forego nice things for long term prosperity. I was a millionaire right around my 30th birthday and basically had holes in my sneakers because I refused to buy more.
I value assets over things. I am strongly anti the normalization of having to own designer items to keep up with the Kardashians. I would love a culture that sees worth in things that matter.
Where do you see your business in the next 5 years?
I’ve been grinding for about 20 years. I sacrificed my entire 20s and a good chunk of my 30s to hustle and wealth building. Within the next 5 years, I want to take time to finally enjoy the fruits of my labor.
At 41, I am traveling more, I purchased a personal residence in Los Angeles earlier this year that I was to use as an oasis. I will still work but I want to slow down drastically. I say all this but may end up buying another 44 units and grinding for the next 5 years.
The neat thing is that I could stop working today and live a very comfortable lifestyle. I love having choice.
What advice do you have for aspiring real estate investors?
Most would-be real estate investors miss the crucial first step that’s required to be successful over time. A disciplined mindset. Discipline is what will prevent you from making mistakes like yanking out all the equity from your properties and balling instead of reinvesting.
Early on, investors should be focused on striking a balance between deleveraging and scaling. Too much debt on properties can be the demise of an investor. At the same time, growth is important. It’s easier to have 25 units than it is to have 2. Keep going.