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A Discussion With Professional Real Estate Investor Eduard Shapshovich About How He Achieved the American Dream

Eduard Shapshovich is a professional real estate investor and a shining example of the American Dream coming to fruition. Originally from Russia, Eduard immigrated to the United States in the early 1990s with very little money and no knowledge of the English language whatsoever. However, due to his optimistic and forward-looking disposition, he viewed these […]

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Eduard Shapshovich is a professional real estate investor and a shining example of the American Dream coming to fruition. Originally from Russia, Eduard immigrated to the United States in the early 1990s with very little money and no knowledge of the English language whatsoever. However, due to his optimistic and forward-looking disposition, he viewed these simply as challenges to be overcome.

Settling in St. Louis, Missouri, Eduard set to work cobbling together a life for himself.His working career in America began humbly, with stints as a delivery man,car salesman, and pizza shop manager.But, auspicious as ever, he used these experiences to his advantage, honing his interpersonal skills, building friendships, and practicing English with co-workers. These early jobs also afforded Eduard Shapshovich the time and space he needed to become acclimatized to life in his newly-adopted country. 

Eventually, Eduard Shapshovich partnered with a close friend and formed the real estate investment business which now consumes most of his time. Together, they buy properties, rehabilitate them, and either rent them out or sell them at a profit. Eduard has a wonderful working relationship with his business partner, his tenants love him, and his competitors are sometimes jealous of his ability to retain stable renters. Reflecting on his journey through life, Eduard is extremely happy and grateful to be in his current position. He has fulfilled his lifelong aspiration for self-sufficiency and then some, but that’s not to say that he’s content with the status quo. So long as he is able, Eduard Shapshovich will never stop trying to improve himself, his personal circumstances, or his professional situation.

Why did you choose to create your own business?

It was always my goal to be self-sufficient. That is the overriding inspiration behind everything I do and have done in the past. It was the reason I left Russia for America. This is the land of opportunity, which, in my mind, is synonymous with self-sufficiency. So, with that always as my ultimate goal, I will say that it took me a few years to recognize that the proper instrument with which to seize and make the most of any opportunities presented to me was by forming my own business. And it can be done so easily here! Unlike other parts of the world, there is very little holding anyone back from creating a business. So, I thought, ‘why not me, too?’ I found a great partner, and then we just did it.

What do you love most about being a professional real estate investor?

I love being my own boss. Having worked as an employee many times in the past, the experience of not having to answer to anyone higher up is so freeing. It’s a fantastic feeling!

Besides that, our company owns a bunch of rental properties, and I love interacting with  tenants. I love getting to know them, and helping to supply them with safe, well-maintained places to live. I like hearing about their lives. I suppose I’m a people person at heart.

What does a typical day consist of for you?

In the mornings I like to check in on renovation work that’s underway on any properties owned by the business. I go to the job sites and talk to the guys doing the work. I make sure they have everything they need. If they don’t, I’ll run out and get it for them. Earlier today, one of my renovation teams told me they were running out of caulk to seal up some windows and needed some extra lights and faucets for a kitchen. After hearing that, I immediately drove to Home Depot, bought the stuff, and brought it back to the guys. I even hung around to help them with installation.

In the afternoons I tend to hunt for new properties or conduct research into properties people have already offered to sell. For example, a real estate agent recently sent me some photos of a house that I’m considering. It’s a total rehab. It was flooded. Now, the home has been cleaned since the flood, but obviously there are structural considerations and the like that factor into a decision like that. So, I’ll talk to my partner about it, and if he signals interest, I’ll go out to look at the place for myself and try to calculate how much work it might need to fix up. Then I’ll crunch the numbers, draw up a preliminary budget, and see if it’s a worthwhile investment. If it is, my partner and I will make an offer. If it isn’t, we’ll pass and move on to the next opportunity.

What keeps you motivated?

The idea of waking up every morning and determining my own destiny is all the motivation I need. When I worked at the pizza shop not long after I arrived in this country, I would tell my coworkers that there would come a day in the future when I would no longer have to take orders from anyone, but rather be the one issuing orders. They would look at me—this recent immigrant from Russia speaking in beginner English phrases—and snicker at the idea. But I didn’t let that discourage me. Even then, in my heart of hearts, I knew it would come to pass.

How has your business grown from its early days to now?

When my partner and I started our enterprise, we only had one property. But we treated that place as if it were our golden ticket. We set to work overhauling it, taking the utmost care to refurbish the old flooring, replace the drapes and lighting fixtures, and install the most up-to-date appliances. When we finally put that property up for sale and found a buyer, it was such an exciting moment! All of a sudden, our real estate business felt totally legitimate. Since then, we have acquired a whole portfolio of houses and apartments. It’s still hard to believe how quickly the business has grown.

From what do you derive inspiration?

I have a wonderful family. When I think about my beautiful daughter and how her future here in America will be dictated only by her own desires and potential, it gives me a feeling of great joy. She can get a quality education, she can earn her own money, she can have a family of her own—she’s free to pursue happiness in whatever way she sees fit. That thought inspires me more than any other.

What suggestions do you have for someone starting out in the real estate industry?

I guess I would tell them that the real estate industry is particularly fast-moving. Good properties don’t stay on the market for very long, so be prepared to act quickly. That being said, it’s possible to act too quickly. Due diligence must never be sacrificed. Always inspect the place with your own eyes. Never be afraid to ask tough questions about the house or the neighborhood. Sometimes properties that seem too good to be true have drawbacks that aren’t immediately apparent.

I would also say that it’s imperative to surround yourself with trustworthy people. I cannot understate the value of that. I’m immensely lucky to be in business with a partner whose judgment I trust implicitly. The renovation teams we work with are really honest and dependable, too. 

What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve overcome?

Coming from Russia, where formal education isn’t a top priority for everyone, set me back a bit in my career, I think. I had to make up for my lack of education with hard work, determination, and follow-through. But I persevered and was able to make a better life for myself.

Settling down in the United States brought with it a series of significant challenges, too. Besides the immigration process itself—which is lengthy, and not exactly a picnic—there was the fact that I couldn’t speak a word of English in the beginning. Also, I had next to no money. But I overcame these obstacles because I wanted so badly to become a part of this wonderful society. Now, I speak English fluently and have more than enough money to live comfortably.

What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?

A great friend once told me, “dreams will always remain dreams unless you do the hard work to make them come true.” When I heard those words come out of his mouth, I found myself nodding along involuntarily—that saying just rang so true, I couldn’t help myself.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

I have achieved the American dream. I am self-sufficient and my business runs a healthy profit. There is no bigger accomplishment in life than that.

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