Shelby is a successful real estate investor and agent in Fayetteville, North Carolina. She joins the show to share her advice on how to find an investor-friendly real estate agent.


Meet Shelby

Shelby started her career in the military. In her six years of military service, she was stationed at two different bases – one in Washington State and one in North Carolina.

While living near the base in Washington, she decided to buy her first home. Originally, she bought it as a primary residence. But it quickly turned into a house hack when she rented the other rooms.

After moving to North Carolina for her next assignment, she decided to rent out her house in Washington. She discovered that the property was making money for her! With that, Shelby’s real estate interests were sparked. When she decided to get out of the military in North Carolina, transitioning into a career in real estate seemed like the right choice.

Shelby’s Real Estate Journey

Shelby started considering the idea of real estate investing as a career in April of 2017. A few months later, in November 2017, she bought her first real estate investment property. Throughout 2017, Shelby attended night school to obtain her real estate license.

When she got out of the military in January 2018, she was able to kick off her real estate career with a bang. In fact, she was earned the title of Rookie of the Year in 2018 for Keller Williams in North and South Carolina. As she started her career as a real estate agent, she also expanded her real estate investment portfolio. By the end of 2018, Shelby had 16 units.

Throughout this journey, she has always considered herself as a real estate investor first and a real estate agent second. However, she is happy with her choice to become a real estate agent. With an internal drive to hustle for sales, she was able to double her income by becoming a real estate agent.

By the end of 2018, Shelby’s real estate agent career had taken off. She found that she had more clients than time available. With that, she decided to start building a team and founded Five Pillars Realty Group. After bringing on administrative positions and creating helpful systems, other real estate agents joined the team. Since then, the group has closed on 140 deals.

While building her career as a real estate agent, she has continued real estate investing. She currently owned 51 units and has done several flips along the way. The majority of these units are residential multi-family properties with up to 4 units, but some are single-family homes.

Questions from our audience

Thank you to all that submitted questions. Here’s what Shelby had to say!

As a real estate investor, how can we be a good client for you as an agent?

Shelby recommends taking action steps such as fixing yourself, collecting tools and money, and start putting yourself out there. First, you need to look at yourself. If you are brand new to real estate investing, then take the time to educate yourself about real estate investment topics. Additionally, consider working on personal development topics to further up your game.

Once you have a better understanding of real estate, determine what your goals are. Without specific criteria, a real estate agent will have a difficult time finding properties for you. Remember that real estate agents work on commission, they are unable to spend all of their time looking for the right property for you if you don’t know what you want.

How can someone find a real estate agent that is able to work with real estate investors and understand what they’re looking for?

Shelby recommends looking in the following places:

  • Post on Bigger Pockets forums to ask for recommendations.
  • Go to local real estate investor meetups to ask for recommendations.
  • Look at the MLS for foreclosures and find out who is submitting all of the offers. You’ll find agents willing to work in that arena.

What is the difference between a real estate agent and a broker? Does it matter which one I work with?

This will vary on a state by state basis. In North Carolina, a realtor has to be a member of the Association of Realtors. When a real estate agent earns their place in the Association, they become provisional brokers. At the end of their first year, they become a full broker after meeting additional educational requirements.

What do I look for in a real estate agent?

It can be hard to decide whether you want to work with someone selling more units or more volume. Shelby makes the point that the number of units matters because every unit sold is more practice for that real estate agent. With more repetition, you’ll be working with a more experienced agent.

However, experienced real estate agents are often very busy. A younger agent could be hungrier and more willing to put in the extra time you are looking for. Seek out a balance of experience and availability that works within your price point.

Should I look for a real estate agent that works primarily on the buying side or the selling side?

It depends on what you are looking for. If you are looking for buy and hold investments, then someone strong on the buying side might be a good fit. If you are looking to do many flips, you might want someone strong on the selling side.

But preferably, they will have experience with both.

What licenses does an agent need to have?

On a national level, every real estate agent needs to pass the national and state exams to get their license. But beyond that, it can vary by state. But it can be easy to obtain your licenses in most states. With that, take some time to research your agents.

Can I work with any agent in my town? Or is it better to work with someone that knows specific areas?

You should try to find a specialist because markets can have nuances.

Should I work with an agent that has a team or is solo?

It will depend on the team. Some teams are well-oiled machines that can help you. Solo operations are faced with more admin work that could pull them away from your priorities.

What is the typical sales fee? Should I work with a discounted offer of a flat listing fee?

3% is the standard sales commission for the buyer and the seller agents. Typically, sellers pay all 6% of that fee. So if you are doing buy and holds, then you may not have to pay your agent.

If you need help, then you shouldn’t skimp on this fee.

Can I sell my home by myself? What are the downsides?

Shelby cautions against selling your own home because you will likely leave money on the table. A real estate agent can make sure that you get top dollar for your property.

If I have tenants in the property, should I get tenants before I sell?

It will depend. If you have a property that meets the 1% rule that can be sold turnkey, keeping the tenants is a good idea. In other cases, vacant homes are easier to sell for a good price. Homes don’t show as well with people living in it. Plus, it’s difficult to schedule showings with a tenant.

The Famous Six

What is your favorite personal finance resource?

Set for Life by Scott Trench

What is your favorite real estate resource?

Military Cashflow

What has been your favorite travel destination so far?


What is next on your travel list?

Austin, Texas and Mexico

What is the biggest bucket list item you haven’t accomplished yet?

Becoming fluent in Spanish.

What is your favorite life hack?

Leveraging and outsourcing by outsourcing your weaknesses.

How to Connect

You can connect with Shelby on Facebook, Instagram or her websites- and Five Pillars Realty.

Shelby has a course for real estate agents that want to work with investors. Reach out to her if you are interested in signing up.