Meet the Campbells

Craig and Julie Campbell own a real estate company based in Bondurant, Iowa (northeast of Des Moines). Their company purchases houses that need work and then rehabs them. They are also real estate agents with Iowa Realty with Julie primarily listing and selling houses. They are active members of the Iowa Real Estate Investors Association (IAREIA).

Craig and Julie Campbell

Please tell us a little about who you are and what you did before getting into real estate investing:

We have been married for over 27 years and have two children.  Our oldest child is Emily, and she is a senior at University of Iowa, and our youngest child, Mark, is a junior at Iowa State University.  Craig was primarily a stay at home parent, and Julie worked as a legal assistant at a law firm in real estate.  Julie has also been a property manager which has been extremely helpful in the investment business.

Where is your current market and what is your focus or area of expertise?

We invest primarily in Des Moines, Iowa and communities that surround Des Moines.  We look for motivated sellers, and once we have found one, we see if a win-win situation can be set up in which our company purchases the home.  We use a construction company to then rehab the home and either turn it into a rental property, sell it on a contract for deed, or sell the home thru normal real estate channels to the public.

How did you get started?

We got started investing in real estate in 1997 when we bought a home in Minnesota.  It was a HUD home that we purchased thru the bid process.  The home was a 2-story colonial that basically required paint, new flooring, and a roof.  When we sold it in 1999, it was at that time that Craig, who is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, paid off his student loan from the proceeds that we received from the sale!  At that point in time, we knew that that there was a lot more to a house then just a roof over one’s head.  We realized that we could make a living investing in real estate.  However, we would not invest in another piece of real estate until 2008, in Iowa.  As Craig states “I now realize that I could have been a wholesaler of real estate, and thus earn an income as a wholesaler, but I hadn’t heard of wholesaling in 1999.”

Describe a typical week for you in real estate.

We love working in real estate and both know that there is no typical week in real estate.  In fact, we feel that there is no typical day in real estate as a real estate investor or as a real estate agent.  As Craig says “it is fun to invest in real estate, and also be a real estate agent as there is no typical day in real estate.  Every single day is different.”    Craig feels that he “could never go to work for an employer, at this point in my life,” as he would get bored extremely fast. Furthermore, “if I were to work for an employer then I would not have an unlimited income earning potential situation either.”

How long have you been in investing in Real Estate?

We have been investing steadily in real estate for approximately 11 years.  We started off slowly and we now have 5 properties in various stages of being rehabbed.

Tell us about your first deal

It was a crazy experience when we bought our first investment property in Iowa.  We bought it sight unseen!  When we finally viewed the property after our offer was accepted, the kitchen ceiling was laying on the kitchen floor due to roof damage.  Our contractor took about 8 months to finish the house.  We learned then that having a contractor under contract was extremely important.  It was a huge learning experience for us.

How do you fund your investment deals?

We primarily use bank loans to fund our real estate investment deals.  However, we have used private money for funding as well.

Do you have a real estate license?

Both of us have real estate licenses with Iowa Realty.

What projects are you currently working on?

We have completed more than 30 flips and are working on two different homes at the moment.  Our construction crew is putting the finishing touches on two properties to be sold – one near a college in Des Moines and one near the Iowa State Fairgrounds.  Our two most recent purchases were a fire-damaged house and a gutted duplex, with work starting soon.  We also have another house that we have demoed and would like to sell it as-is.

How much time do you put into your real estate education?

Craig hates missing REIA meetings and Iowa Landlord Association meetings and has belonged to IAREIA (which is made up of Iowa Landlord Association and REIA here in Iowa) since March of 2009.  He very much enjoys the meetings, the knowledge gained, and the special speakers brought to these meetings.  Craig says he has “learned a great deal of information thru both the REIA as well as the Iowa Landlord Association, and I have been able to apply this knowledge to the investment business.”  As real estate licensees, we also have to do continuing education in order to keep our licenses.

Has coaching or mentoring played a role in your success?

While we have not been specifically coached, there are a number of nationally known people that we follow such as Dean Graziosi, Robyn Thompson, and Joshua Smith.

What are your current and future goals?

Our current goals include putting finishing touches on two rehabs, and then we have a couple properties that we just purchased and plan to rehab in the near future.  We also have two more upcoming purchases that will need to be rehabbed.  In the future, we may also choose to invest in an apartment complex.  Our children are in college and each have purchased their first investment property.  And, they are about ready to purchase their second properties!  We are considering buying a multi-family property with them.

What has been your top struggle in this business?

Our top struggle has been that of being able to financially put the deals together, and once the property has been purchased to be able to financially piece the rehab project together.  So, at this point in our careers, it does indeed come as a surprise that we are working on two rehab projects at the same time, with more projects yet to come.

What do you like most about what you do?

We both love restoring value back to the community in which we rehab property.  Nothing makes us feel better than having neighbors come over when we are at a property we are working to say “Thank you for cleaning up this property.”

Do you have a tip or advice that you would pass along to other investors?

Be prepared for anything.  We’re under contract on a property that had a dead cat in the kitchen.  You know how Chip and Joanna Gaines give each property a name?  The name we gave this property was the “Dead Cat House.”  We also had a nightmare situation where the builder of the property lost it at a sheriff’s sale, but continued living there.  He would tell people that he owned the property in order to get them to do work and then not pay them.  He also filed a mechanics’ lien to keep us from selling the property.

How important is joining a local REIA to a new investor?

As a real estate investor, Craig believes that his involvement in his local REIA has been a reason for the success of their business.  Craig has been a member of IAREIA since March 2009.  Julie has attended a few of the REIA events along the way as well.

What is your favorite self-help or business book?

Craig says he doesn’t know if he has a favorite self-help book or business book.  He said he “learned a great deal from Dean Graziosi, and have read several of Dean’s books such as Millionaire Success Habits, 30 Days to Real Estate Cash, Profit From Real Estate Right Now, Be A Real Estate Millionaire, and Totally Fulfilled.”

Do you have any interesting hobbies or something unique that you like to do?

We love supporting our local high school in terms of attending sporting events and fine arts activities.  Furthermore, we started the Campbell Team Thankfulness Scholarship this past year, and awarded its first $1,000.00 scholarship in May.   We plan to award this scholarship on an annual basis.

Craig is also an avid Minnesota sports fan, and enjoys cheering on Minnesota sports teams as way to reduce stress in his life.  As an individual that was born and raised in Wisconsin, Craig can also be found cheering on the Milwaukee Bucks.  Recently, we have enjoyed spending time together cheering on the Minnesota Twins and will enjoy watching the Minnesota Vikings this Fall.

Does your business have a website?

We can be found on the internet via