Known as a “house flipping guru,” Patrick Bieleny is a renowned entrepreneur and real estate investor based in Calgary, Alberta. After immigrating with his family to Canada from Eastern Europe, Patrick earned a Degree in Business Management from the University of Toronto. After graduation, he purchased a condo townhouse in Calgary, renovated it, and sold it at a significant profit — and from that moment on, he realized that flipping houses were both professionally lucrative and personally rewarding. Today, Patrick heads PB & Co. Houses, which since its beginning has grown significantly in both profitability and size.
What do you love most about the industry you are in?
What I love most about my industry is that it rewards those who take risks and make bold decisions. This aspect has allowed me to find many lucrative deals in several markets, and generate profits when the odds were clearly stacked against me. Of course, I am talking about taking educated and informed risks, and not reckless risks. This is important because many people who are new to the house flipping field tend to leap before they look, and end up mired in a money pit or have an experience that is so financially and psychologically damaging that they exit the industry entirely.
What would you tell others looking to get into your industry?
Forget what you see on television, as most of those projects are edited and are designed to be entertaining. In real life, house flipping takes discipline, focus, patience, and an extremely strong work ethic. The other thing I’d say to novice house flippers is don’t get caught up in the hype of buying your first or second property. Pay attention to all aspects, especially location and neighborhood amenities like schools, parks, shopping, and so on. The market value of a home, as well as the speed at which it will sell, is not always determined by the property itself. There are many other factors to consider, and it definitely pays to do your research. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and never make assumptions.
What keeps you motivated?
What keeps me motivated is the challenge of seeing potential where others can’t, and ultimately matching customers with the home of their dreams. While there are financial rewards involved, making money and generating profit is not my primary motivation. The experience of handing over the keys to a couple or family — especially if they never thought they would be able to own their own home — is extremely rewarding and energizing.
Who has been a role model to you and why?
I have been fortunate to have been positively influenced by many great men and women throughout my life, from teachers to members of my professional network. However, I would say that my most inspiring and important role model is my father. He moved us to Canada and made tremendous sacrifices — including working 12-hour shifts in the construction field — so that our family could have a better life in Canada. Today, I am proud to say that I get my extremely strong work ethic from my father, as well as my do-it-yourself attitude.
How do you maintain a work-life balance?
My personal motto in life is to work smarter, not harder. To that end, I have put together an exceptional team of experts who I trust to get the job done, including title attorneys, general contractors, lenders, marketers, tradespeople, and real estate agents. As a result, I have the ability to spend quality time with family and friends, including the occasional vacation. I trust my team to do the right things in the right ways, and I am not terrified that things will fall apart at the office or at worksites during my absence.
What traits do you possess that make you a successful leader?
There are a few traits that have supported my leadership success, including the ability to communicate and build relationships with a wide variety of professionals, as well as my ability to focus on solutions instead of dwell on problems. I also think that my ability to learn something from every experience helps me as a leader because it keeps me flexible and open to new ideas. When you stop learning then you stop growing, and if you stop growing then success becomes impossible. The only direction in life is forward.
What trends in your industry excite you?
I am excited about the shift to smart homes, that use technology like next-generation appliances, smart entertaining and lighting features, alarm systems with motion detectors, and so on. With this being said, it’s important to keep in mind that not all smart features appeal to all types of target buyers. For example, while some home buyers may not be all that interested in an automated curtain system that adds $20,000 to the selling price, most home buyers are eager to invest in smart home technology that reduces energy consumption, such as a learning thermostat that adjusts the temperature automatically based on a homeowner’s daily routine.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to others?
Basically, I would say expect the unexpected. All kinds of issues and challenges arise in the house flipping industry, and if you can’t adjust and rapidly find intelligent solutions then you’ll not only lose a lot of money, but you’ll get overwhelmed and burned out. Of course, I’m not trying to discourage anyone. However, I’m urging anyone who is thinking of doing this to develop a clear understanding of the industry, and to build a strong network of professionals. Don’t try to do everything yourself and have all of the answers — that’s simply not possible. You need a great team around you, which is something that I am fortunate to have at PB & Co. Houses.
What is the biggest life lesson you have learned?
The biggest life lesson that I’ve learned is that while you can strive for perfection, you can’t make it your expectation. We all make mistakes, and it’s part of what makes us human beings. What matters most is what we learn from our mistakes, so that we can improve and grow. In the same spirit, I believe that leaders need to accept the fact that members of their team can sometimes make honest mistakes. When this happens, instead of playing the blame game and handing out punishments, the experience should be used as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Where do you see you and your company in 5 years?
I see us continuing to grow and thrive. There are many hidden gems in the market, and the low mortgage interest rate environment means that more people can afford to purchase their first home or upgrade their existing home to something larger, better, or in a more desirable location. I see PB & Co. Houses playing a pivotal role in helping more people find the home of their dreams.