Courtney Newton

Courtney Newton and Associates
Atlanta, Georgia

2022 Closed Unit Goal:  363 Units
Current Closed and Pended: 32 Units (as of February 2022)
Role:
Broker, Owner
YPP Member Since:
2018
Size of Organization:
Sales People: 7
Support Staff: 4

Courtney Newton is a mega agent with Keller Williams Realty Atlanta North. She has been in the business for 20 years and has sold over 2000+ homes in her career. Courtney has a full-service real estate team offering short sale/loss mitigation, property management, buyer and seller services. Courtney has her MBA from Coles School of Business at Kennesaw State University and is the 2014 President of the Cobb Association of Realtors. She has been featured in the top 100 Most Influential People in Real Estate for the Atlanta Business Chronicle and Marietta Daily Journal. She is an ALC member, 9-time BOLD graduate, consistently ranked in the Wall Street Journal/Real Trends 1000 report, and a member of Gary Keller’s personal mastermind group. She is the broker and owner of CNA rentals, her property management company, CLS Holdings, her agent referral holding company, and Blue Ridge Signature Rentals, a North Georgia short-term vacation rental company. She is an active real estate investor focusing on flip, buy, and hold, commercial, as well as short-term vacation rentals. She lives in North Atlanta with her 2-year-old daughter, Charlie.

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One of the things that is so impressive about your work is that you’ve really specialized in working with investor clients. How much of your business is investors?

I have one investor I’ve worked with for about a dozen years; we did about 50 transactions together last year. That’s a consistent number of units for us, we’ve done that for the past 8-9 years. I have a couple of investors who buy a rental property here and there as the opportunity presents itself. If I get a house in an area I know, I’ll call them and say, “We’re getting ready to list this house, are you interested?” We did another 30-40 rental units last year with people in my database.

Do you work with the same investors day in and day out or do you focus on creating new investors?

Both. One of my investors, we have 30 properties we manage. We really do try to focus on creating new investors by asking “Have you considered this?” We’re pushing for people to buy second homes now because Fannie Mae will change guidelines about their owner-occupancy rate; the interest rate is going to be about a percent lower now than 90 days from now because they will be raising interest rates.

Where did the passion come from to start identifying and creating new investors?

When I was growing up, the richest people I knew owned real estate and they owned a lot of it. I modeled the owners of the ice cream shop I worked at growing up. The woman that owned the shop was a businesswoman in every sense of the word and she was the wealthiest person I knew; she taught me how to run a business. She was a huge influence in my life.

I am very passionate about people creating wealth. For me, that’s something that I understand very well; that’s my God talent. I am good at making money; I can look at a house and figure out how to make money. Can I rent it, short-term it, flip it? That’s something I’m very good at. I want people to have big lives, and if I can help them do that through real estate, that’s what I want to do.

How many people in your database have you turned into investors?

I’ve had a lot of success stories. I have one family that when the market was bad, I convinced them to buy something, and every two years they would turn the house. They played the game, buying something every two years that needed something, like paint, carpet landscaping, etc. A lot of the repairs they did themselves. Some of these turns were $100, $150k and they started off buying an $80k condo. It was like clockwork – on month 20, we’d start getting ready to go on market to avoid capital gains which will fall off at the 2-year mark. You buy, see the property value rise, sell the house and I’d position them in a better house. At the end of the day, clients will say “I wish I had or I’m glad I did”.  I want to be attached to the “I’m glad I did”.

I realize it’s easier to get a transaction from investors than people I don’t know or people that only come back every five years. Why wouldn’t I want to go find folks that are buying and selling frequently? I can talk to my investor “repeat offenders” every day, who I know are wonderful, or I can go find new people and hope they’re wonderful. It’s a strategic decision; I know I can sell houses to my investors. When investors buy, it is driven by logic, not emotion. I know I can be successful with them, I just have to make the numbers make sense.

What do you mean “make the numbers make sense”?

When I’m buying a house to live in, I’m looking for so many different things; neighborhoods, schools, etc. If I’m looking for an investment, I just have to make the numbers work. I can tell an investor client “This is what it’s going to cost to purchase, this is what it’s going to rent for, this is your profit”. It’s a numbers game. Recently, I sold a second home to someone in the mountains. It’s going to cost them about $40k a year to own this property. It had been on a short-term rental program last year generating $90k in income. Once I take out my property management fees, they’re still going to make $25k a year. There aren’t a lot of places I can invest $250k and generate $25k each year.

At the end of the day, it’s a math problem. When I can show someone the money they’re going to make off it, it makes sense. Go compare it to other investments, like the stock market. Even if I just cover the cost to own, that’s still a win! This is not an emotional decision; it comes from logic. I like working from a logic standpoint. For me, very quickly, I can drill down to where it makes sense and say, “This is the profit, you either see it or you don’t” and go from there.

How did you find these relationships?

I started my business by calling For Sale by Owners. When they told me they were an investor, I would say “If I brought you an opportunity and you bought it, would you let me have the listing?” Some would say “No, we already have an agent” so I never brought them any opportunities. The ones that said yes, I would go find fixer-uppers, estate sales, etc., that were on the market and bring it to them. I was still learning; I was essentially shopping properties and bringing them the opportunity.

Adam, my big investor, came off a sign call 12 years ago. He was my pattern interrupter.

What do you mean “pattern interrupter?”

He called me on one of my listings, and he said “I don’t want to be put on a search and just sent properties. I want to know when you have a great opportunity.” I wasn’t just setting him on a search and walking away, I went into business with him. Everything I bring him, I am his agent on it. If that property isn’t listed or doesn’t have a commission being paid as part of the transaction like wholesale or estate, he pays me a commission. He pays me a buyer fee, and I get the listing, always.

It sounds like you are very intentional about finding opportunities to bring to your investors. How much time do you spend seeking out opportunities?

All the time. I’ve developed a reputation in my market for having buyers that close quickly. People know that they can call me and if it’s the right price, I can find a buyer for it. I have enough people in my Rolodex that I can go “This doesn’t work for this group, but it would work for this one. Let me make a phone call and see if I can get them to jump on it”.

In my phone, I have anyone that I consider an investor tagged. I’ll just type the word “investor” in my phone and look at it and go “Who do I think this will work for?” I’ll then send out the exact same text. I might go through four or five investors and then one will pop up and say “Yeah, this is interesting”.

So, you’re constantly bringing things to your investors?

Absolutely. I’m always sending out opportunities. My team follows the same system; have them in your phone as “investor”. I’ll say, “Hey guys, let’s go find somebody for this property”. Last year we sold 270 houses; 30% of those homes never saw an MLS number. That’s us working stuff off-market. Some of those people were regular home buyers, but a good amount of them were investor’s deals. People came and said, “I want easy, I want convenient, and I want cash”.

What is your strategy to find investors?

I will talk with anybody about how real estate will build you better financial wealth than anything else you can do. In 2022, the more people I can encourage to buy under 25, the wealthier they will be by 40 compared to the average individual. Just buy whatever you can buy – start somewhere. I have folks in California that we manage properties here for. They can’t afford California real estate, but they can afford Atlanta real estate that’s generating them income. They buy properties here that we manage that subsidizes their home in California, and they’re building equity in something. I think investing in real estate is better than a 401K; I have a 401K but real estate is where my money has grown. I believe more women would benefit from owning real estate than having a 401K.

I’ve done different types of investor seminars such as The Millionaire Real Estate Investor. Pre-pandemic, we were doing investor masterminds. In 2019, I started doing Women in Investing. I realized I wasn’t seeing enough of “me” in the room or the conversation. I wanted to create more women in investing, so I created the class. I broke it down into 8 bite-sized sessions because it’s so much information. I also teach a 2-hour broad overview class that’s more focused on why you should do it. When I do these classes or seminars, I invite everyone in my database and encourage other agents to attend as well.

What is your perspective on the market right now?

The pace we’re at right now will not be maintained. I don’t see it declining like it did in 2009-2011, but what I do think we’re going to see, as the Federal Reserve has very clearly stated to curb inflation, interest rates will go up over the next twelve months. My guess is probably a full percentage point, because being in the low 3’s is superficially low. What’s going to happen is prices aren’t necessarily going to drop, they’re going to stabilize. Pretty houses will still sell for a pretty price; people want convenient. That convenience factor is always going to be at play in the market.

How are you finding off-market opportunities?

I’m hustling; I’m out there asking “Who do you know that needs to sell quick? Who do you know that wants to sell as-is? Who do you know that’s motivated?” It’s more about convenience than it is price. Those are the two buttons that you’re pushing; the easy button, or the money button. I ask people, which one is it that you want?

Those people who want easy – they were in my farm neighborhoods that I’ve been mailing to for 15 years. I have a thing on the mailing that says “Sell your home as-is. Ask me how” and that’s what made them call. I’m mailing and whenever we put something under contract that is off-market, I call through that neighborhood and say “We just put this home under contract in your neighborhood, would you be interested in getting an as-is cash offer?” If my investor will buy one in that neighborhood, he’ll buy 20 in there at that price.

What would you say your team is known for?

First and foremost, a servant heart. We are here to help; if it means a paycheck, great, if it doesn’t mean a paycheck right now, eventually it will. Another thing we’re known for is that we’re going to go find properties that don’t exist to the public. Come to us with your challenges or issues and let us give you some solutions. We’re going to give you very sound, unfiltered advice. You may not like what I have to say, but you’ll respect it.

How do you define success?

Business success: My idea of success is whether people are working with me on my team or as clients, that they’re glad to be in the role they are.

Personal Success: Legacy. When I die, I want the children of the people I work with to say, “My mom or dad worked with Courtney and was better for it”. I want my daughter to hear that more than anything else; “Your mom was important to my life.”

What kind of influence has working with YPP had on you?

Do not hire a coach, or specifically YPP, if you don’t want them to expose those buttons or those weak spots that you’re hiding behind. My coach can dig in quick on me; she’ll say, “Obviously you’re not as attached to this goal as you once were” and I’m like “No, I am, this goal is super important to me!” but the work isn’t showing up that way. It makes me want to re-evaluate what I’m doing and the work I’m putting in.

Don’t waste anybody’s time, including your own, if you’re not prepared to put in the work and grow. You’re not going to be the same person that you were when you started. It has caused me to recognize there are good things I do and blind spots that I need to develop. Coaching is going to put a spotlight on certain areas so you’re able to grow and develop.

In what ways have you grown?

From a team standpoint, I have grown through my coaching relationship to where I allow myself to not be the one to do it all. I have allowed myself to get out of the way of my talented team and last year reflects that; we did more units last year than we’ve ever done because I got out of the way. I was able to work less and be home on weekends. I focused more on developing talent. I was holding more accountability meetings and doing more leadership development within my own organization.

What is your top tip for someone in the industry?

Go get good with scripts! Get really masterful with knowing how to listen and knowing what to say. You’re listening first and then replying. The game is getting ready to change and I think you’re going to see a lot of people get out of business. Understanding mergers and acquisitions is something I’m reading up on. Know that no matter what shows up, you know how to handle it; whatever the situation, you have a response in your arsenal.

What is a book you think everyone should read?

The Traveler’s Gift is my favorite book. If you want to understand life, read that book. The Road Less Stupid is a good one I just read. It shows you sometimes it’s simply getting up and going to work – it doesn’t have to be complicated.

If you could put any saying on a billboard, what would it be?

Call me with your real estate needs.

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