Episode 1 Podcast with Jenna Ross Founder of Happy Place Property Management


You are listening to Your Happy Place podcast. Each week we will be bringing you interviews with real estate experts and investors. The show features interviews and discussions about real estate investing and property management and inspiration with your host Jenna Ross.

Melissa: Hi everyone, I am Melissa Mancini Burbridge. I am the producer of this podcast and the Business Development Manager at Happy Place Property Management. We thought we would do something a little different and twist it where the producer interviews the lovely hostess. She is the owner of Happy Place Property Management, the co host of Halifax Real Estate Investors, she is Miss Jenna Ross. Hey Jenna.

Jenna: Hi Melissa, 

Melissa: How are things today? 

Jenna: Things are great. It is an exciting day as we record our first podcast that we have been waiting for, for a very long time.

Melissa: I know, I never thought this day would come, we have been talking about it for at least over a year.

Jenna: Yes, it has been over a year in planning. 

Melissa: I am pretty excited that it’s a first one. So why don’t we let everyone know what it is about. What is this podcast going to be about?

Jenna: This podcast is going to be about real estate investing, property management and inspiration with a focus on the east coast city we live in Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada.

Melissa: So why did we want to create this podcast?

Jenna: I really enjoy podcasts myself,I listen to quite a few of them and get great information from them and also I enjoy connecting individuals and also providing for real estate investors to learn and grow.

Melissa: So tell us a little bit about your property management business?

Jenna: Sure, my property management business started in April 2016, Happy Place Property Management. We are now a limited company so now officially incorporated as Happy Place Property Management Ltd and we are specializing in single family homes in the Halifax area and many of our houses we rent out are pet friendly. 

Melissa: And why pet friendly?

Jenna: Pet friendly because I love pets myself and I know you do and pets really area part of people’s families. I just see that there is a need for it and it really does make a house a home if you have a pet and being able to have your pet your house with you is great. I worry more about the people that we are renting to then the pets people taking care of themselves than chances are they are going to take care of their pets it just works out really nicely.

Melissa: I totally agree and we never really had an issue with that. So what drew you into the property management industry?

Jenna: I have always been interested from the time I became a tenant myself I was interested in purchasing a house to rent out. I looked in a couple of cities in my 20’s to purchase a house to rent out. At the time I had a high student loan debt and no assess so without a co signer that just wasn’t possible. When I met my husband Greg, he became a real estate agent in 2008 and we together we started to looking at properties to invest in. We looked for a number of years and purchased our first one and I realized through that process of screening and looking for tenants and managing that tenants property management was something I enjoyed. There’s parts of it that actually really enjoyable and I found that we had a lot of success with it and it opened my eyes to that and Greg had some clients in real estate who moved away and were looking for a property manager so I ended up managing properties for other owners that moved away. 

Melissa: Nice. It’s always good to have some one who has your same passions as well. How is your company different from other property management companies?

Jenna: I feel that we are different in the way we provide a personal service. I know as you probably can appreciate when we go out and we are showing houses we are really looking for,we just aren’t looking to fill the place we are looking for a family that is a good fit, family or individual and we are looking for someone who’s eyes light up. They can picture themselves,placing their furniture mentally they are just really excited about the property that they are viewing. We really are trying to match a person to a place that makes them happy.

Melissa: I know, that is one of my favorite part of my job is watching somebodies eyes light right up, I know that they are in the right place.

Jenna: Yes

Melissa: How many properties do you have right now for yourself?

Jenna: Greg and I have four single homes that we own and rent out together. And than jointly with a joint investor partner there is a duplex that is owned and rented out as well.

Melissa: Have you ever flipped a property before?

Jenna: Yes we have. We had that experience of flipping a beautiful lakefront house last summer with a joint venture partner and it went really well. We learned a lot doing that, it’s not our key strategy but it was nice to have that experience and understand what that is like especially where we are working with other real estate investors so we really understand that and it was interesting and our strategy is typically to hold something long term. It was a good adventure. 

Melissa: When did you hire your first employee?

Jenna: As you know, you were my very first full time employee and that was the end of June of last year. 

Melissa: Has much changed since hiring your first employee?

Jenna: Yes,it’s a bit of a mindset shift. It has been really great for me because all of a sudden I am not alone like a solo entrepreneur and I made a great choice in hiring you. You fit right in, your nursing background and the fact that you are empathetic and you care about the tenants and the owners and taking care of the properties as well. It is a skill set like no other. There are so many varied tasks you just never know from one to the next what is going to be required. You have filled your roles very well and it’s also wonderful that you have been able to do some business development tasks as well and also social media. It has been excellent. 

Melissa: It has been quite the busy year. Speaking of that, What are you excited for this year? I know one of them.

Jenna: One of the things that I am excited for is to finally launch this podcast and another thing that was unexpected and was very exciting was that I received a nomination for the RBC Canadian Womens  Entrepreneur Award. The Women of Influence nomination. It has been an absolute honor.

Melissa: It is an honor. An absolute honor but you left something out. We hired another employee. 

Jenna: It’s fantastic. I meant to say that as well. That is something exciting that as of last week we hired a second employee. His name is Peter Hickey and he is filling the role of Operations Manager and that has been a big step for our business to have somebody fill the roll and have someone that can handle the maintenance piece and also very skilled. He is insured and he does meticulous work he had work to do right away which is pretty big right now to be able to send him off and have him have a safe place to work that is vacant was big and was also exciting because we are able offering a service to investors or just the general public if people have a project that they want done and Peter can certainly quote that for them. That is very exciting. 

Melissa: Now we also don’t have to do those chores ourselves any more. Almost breaking our hands on toilets. 

Jenna: Yes and it is hard to find somebody with the skill sets that I found in Peter that is proud of his work and he is a good people person,trustworthy and he knows what he is doing. That is very exciting as well.

Melissa: Do you have any advice for those who are just starting their property management journey?

Jenna: I do for sure. I think property management is one of industries where the barrier to enter is very low so you can get a lot of people who can call themselves property managers and get going and what you don’t realize till you start your business is that it’s a business full of challenges and your constantly looking for solutions to varied problems. The tenants, the owners of the properties and the properties themselves that you trying to maintain. I think my advice would be to reach out to other property managers and network with them because there is going to be a lot of really good days,some wonderful days,really positive things and then there is going to be some days that are going to be difficult days some really challenging days. So it’s important for people starting a property management business probably more than other businesses to reach out for that support.

Melissa: If you were going to start the company all over again, is there anything you would do differently?

Jenna: There is absolutely nothing that I would do differently.As I just mentioned there’s a lot of solutions,challenges and there has been good days and bad days and when I first started,left my full time job and started the business, I left my full time job about 5 years ago officially and I started slowly into things and was just trying to replace my income. I learned a lot of things along the way and at one point about a year and half ago I made the decision that yes I want to hire people and grow the business. I just wasn’t ready before didn’t really know exactly what I wanted before but now I know and I wouldn’t change a thing. Nope.

Melissa: That’s great cause I love working there. So when I introduced you, I mentioned the Halifax Real Estate Investors Group. Tell us a little bit about that.

Jenna: Yes, a year ago January 2019 myself,my husband Greg his real estate partner Amanda Gaetz, they are both with Royal LePage Atlantic got together and started a meet up group Halifax Real Estate Investors and we provide monthly meet ups that are usually the third Thursday of the month at 7:00pm at the Royal LePage office in Dartmouth. We changed things now because we can’t meet in person but we are doing webinars and we have grown a group with a lot great guess speakers on real estate investing topics and a really nice group of real estate investors. It has been a lot of fun and we certainly have learned a lot from the meet ups ourselves.

Melissa: I have definitely learned a lot this year with all of that. Lastly, where is your happy place? 

Jenna: My happy place is on a beach with my family. 

Melissa: That is my favorite at the beach with my family.

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