Listen to this article.
This is part of a monthly series about side gigs—nurses with interesting side jobs or hobbies. This month, we spotlight Jax Nurses Buy Houses (JNBH).
More than 10 years ago, when they were still in nursing school, Chris McDermott, MSN, APRN, AGNP-C and Joshua Rodenborn, BSN, were discussing the idea of starting Jax Nurses Buy Houses (JNBH). They founded the company in 2019 with friend Sunny Kapadia, as a way to build a portfolio of rentals for retirement as well as a chance for them to give back to their community. As life-long natives of Jacksonville and seeing multiple areas for improvement there, they made it their social mission to donate a portion of our proceeds to medical care and research.
McDermott works full-time in private practice in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. Kapadia, although not a nurse, is a specialist in the health care field, coordinating physician groups within the greater Jacksonville area. Finally, Joshua Rodenborn is an Intensive Care and Post-Anesthesia nurse in a major hospital in Jacksonville, Florida as well as a managing member of Jax Nurses Buy Houses.
McDermott and Rodenborn told us all about their business.
Explain what Jax Nurses Buy Houses is—what do you do?
JNBH acquires residential properties through traditional or distressed sale. Often, we help sellers who perhaps inherited a property or just want to sell fast to someone reputable and honest. Distressed sales include properties we acquire at foreclosure or tax deed auctions. We will analyze a property and determine if it is a good fit for our rental portfolio, renovate and retail, or wholesale.
Do you personally rehab houses or do you subcontract out?
When first starting out, it was “all hands on deck.” As we have continued to scale our operations, we have subcontracted work to skilled contractors. DIY sounds romantic and lets you keep more profit; however, it is near-impossible to scale up a business this way. And your results may not be a professional-level quality. We learned early on that building a team is the key to success (and much less stress).
What do you like most about your business?
It is rewarding to take a home that is the biggest eyesore in a neighborhood and bring it back to life, turning it into affordable housing. It’s one thing to talk about transforming a neighborhood; it is a whole other thing to literally do it yourself through your own will from start to finish.
There is a double pay-off: the satisfaction of being your own boss in a well-run business and the satisfaction of improving a piece of this city, one brick at a time.
What would readers be surprised to know about your side gig?
Joshua, while working as a nurse, actually cared for the wife of a rental applicant months before he applied. It’s surprising how small the world is sometimes.
What have been some of your most challenging experiences with your side gig?
There is a saying, you can have a job good, fast, or cheap, but you can only pick two. For example: If you want a job done good and fast it won’t be cheap. Another example, if you want a job done cheap and fast it won’t be good.
Challenging experiences include dealing with and selecting contractors, while staying on schedule. We’ve had contractors not show or even do something incorrectly—once damaging our air conditioner in our newly renovated home.
Spend your time vetting and getting to know your contractors and vendors of materials.
What have been some of your best experiences/greatest rewards with your side gig?
The relationship the founding members have built with each other is one of the most unexpected and rewarding things that have come. Early morning breakfast—where we divvy up the tasks and plan our next move—have become a welcome staple in our COVID-restricted social world.
Another experience: We were able to help a prospective tenant move from a crime-ridden area (shooting occurred outside/bullets struck her headboard) into a newly renovated home in a matter of days.
What have you learned from having this business?
Formulate a plan and have multiple exit options. It may sound trite, but not having a plan is a plan to fail. With all of us working full-time jobs and having full-time families, it has been imperative that we all stay on the same page through the acquisition, renovation, and disposition process. We each rely on one another to complete our roles through each step of the process.
Jumping into real estate is like a very complex ICU patient with multiple variables that are interdependent on each other. If you are starting down this journey (“I wanna be a real estate investor!”) you need to build a team to be successful. Think of needing to call a consult at midnight, and you know they will respond. Now think of this as plumber for a pipe that just burst. Additionally, you need to be organized and know your cost and expenses for each project.
Is there anything else that is important for our readers to know?
Stay positive and remain adaptable to your conditions. With COVID-19, we have suffered delays with acquisitions of new properties and our local county courts. There will always be a hiccup along the way, and you never know what’s going to happen. Don’t take it too personally, never kick yourself when you’re down, and get back up and keep trying. You have to feel success in your bones.