Stephen Kraus is the CEO of Baltimore Realty Group, Stephen is a thought leader, influencer, visionary, and successful entrepreneur. Stephen provides the leadership and energy that has inspired the creation of Baltimore Realty Group.
Stephen Kraus joins other leading Bestselling Authors, International Speakers & entrepreneurs, CEOs, and Founders taking part in our Leader Roundtable Interview Series. The DotCom Magazine editorial team is delighted to have Stephen join us for our Leader Roundtable Interview.
Stephen Kraus is an entrepreneur with a focus on the real estate sector. He is the CEO of Baltimore Realty Group, a company that buys and resells distressed properties, renovates rundown ones, and holds a portfolio of rental properties. Like every other entrepreneur, Stephen’s journey in real estate has not been easy. He went through many challenges before he mastered how to make money from distressed but high potential properties. He did this for a while, and through exposure to the market, he learned how to value and renovate run-down properties and sell them for profit. He also learned how to make money passively by renting. Today, Baltimore Realty Group has a huge portfolio of rental properties ranging from single-family units to multiple-family units to gulf-front properties. Besides his role as CEO, Stephen is also a mentor to upcoming real estate entrepreneurs. Over the years, he has mentored many on complex real estate issues such as over budgeting and error margins in property valuations. Stephen is also a very charitable person and has given thousands of dollars to charities that target the homeless over the years. In his free time, Stephen loves hiking and kayaking. He is more of an outdoor person.
Let’s start by telling us about your business.
I run the Baltimore Realty Group. We have rental properties and also buy and sell distressed, and run-down, properties. The business has been in operation for two decades and has been growing with every passing year. I began this business a few years after completing college. I began with very little capital. My initial transactions were solely based on commission. I would find high-value properties on sale, aggressively advertise them, and then make profits on the sales price difference. I did this for quite a while, all along building a capital base for my company. Soon, I raised enough capital to acquire and renovate run-down properties that I would later sell at a profit. At the same time, I was also keeping some of these properties that I now collect rental income.
Q: Please tell us how you make sure your customers will become raving fans of your company?
I always go over and above customer expectations. Anyone who has ever bought or rented a property from Baltimore Realty can attest to our customer service quality. We put customers first in all that we do in the company. I have trained my employees to cater to the clients’ needs to the best of their abilities. I have inculcated a culture of putting the customer first. My employees understand that without our customers, we would not be in business. Our customers are the reason we come to the office every day. I have also created an enabling environment for my staff to motivate and encourage them to work harder. It is through having a motivated workforce that I can serve my customers in the best way possible.
Q: Please tell us the one thing that separates your business from the competition?
In the 20 plus years that I have been in business, customer service has been a critical differentiator from my competitors. The 20 years I have been in business have given me enough experience to know what the clients want in this industry. I am always updating my knowledge in the industry to keep up with any industry changes. Through consistency of acquiring knowledge, I am able to stay a few steps ahead of my competition, hence getting that differentiating factor. As long as I keep updating the business to be in tune with the current changes, I will always remain ahead of the competition.
Q: And to finish this section, please tell us what is the one major key to your company’s success?
I would credit my business success to perseverance and a passion for real estate. These two have seen me overcome some very turbulent times in the business. I realized from the beginning that consistency is critical to get success in anything you do. If you keep on trying, learning, and pushing, you will eventually get a breakthrough. The problem comes when you try doing so many things simultaneously, hence losing track of almost all of them. For me, it has been real estate through thick and thin. I have learned a lot of industry secrets and have created a vast and rich network due to sticking to one line of work.
Q: For our readers just starting to build a company, what advice can you give entrepreneurs just starting out with a new venture?
I would advise them to persevere in their chosen line of work. Entrepreneurship is not easy, and only those that strive for the turbulent times survive. As I said before, it is only through consistency that you will grow in whatever career you choose to venture into. Young people joining the real estate industry should know that there will be challenges, and there will be very good times. They should learn to embrace both. When challenges come, face them head-on and look for solutions, and when the times are good, strengthen your business and enjoy the good times. Remember, the key to being successful in this industry is being consistent.
Q: For entrepreneurs seeking to build a business as successful as yours, what one big piece of advice can you give them when times get a little challenging?
Keep going no matter the circumstances. Ultimately, you will win. In real estate, if you want to grow a successful business, face the challenges head-on. If you develop a tendency to run away from the challenges, you will eventually quit. Real estate is good and high return business, but it has quite some severe challenges. Losses can be massive and moving properties a bit difficult. If you just stick to it and keep working, you are more likely to succeed than fail. So face those challenges instead of cowering from them.
Q: In today’s fast-changing business environment, how do you stay abreast of things?
I read a lot of business publications. They help me keep abreast of the latest trends in real estate and other industries. I am always reading business journals and watching programs related to business. I am one ardent fan of business news channels and programs. I believe that in such a changing environment, a few lapses when driving you off the market. Unlike when I was starting, today’s world is what I would term as an information revolution. It is this information that you have to keep up the pace with, to ensure that nothing important passes you by. You should also leverage information t to align your business with the market trends. That is what I do to keep up with what is going on in this industry.
Q: What is your “Why”? In one sentence, why do you get up in the morning?
To serve my customers better and contribute to the betterment of the world.
Q: In one sentence, what is the most important thing one has to do to be a great leader?
A great leader should be an excellent listener and lead by example.
Q: In one sentence, describe how important your customers are to your business?
Without them, I would not have been in business for over two decades.
Q: In one sentence, describe a positive way that technology can make the world a better place?
Technology has the power to cut business costs and make life easier for consumers.
Q: In one sentence, tell us how something positive to motivate our readers?
If you relentlessly work on your goals, you will eventually achieve them.
Q: In one sentence, tell us how you start your day to get ready?
I start my day with a healthy breakfast for the energy to beat the day’s challenges.
Q: In one sentence, describe how you handle rejection and setback?
I stay calm, learn from it, and move on to the next big thing.
Q: In one sentence, describe what your hiring philosophy is?
I only hire those who love their professions.
Q: In one sentence, describe how you keep your sanity in a competitive business environment?
Whenever I am overwhelmed, I take time off to calm down and rewind.
Stephen Kraus, thank you so much for participating in the DotCom Magazine Leader Roundtable Interview Series. We appreciate you participating in this important roundtable interview series, and helping our readers learn more about what it takes to build a great company and become a great leader. We wish you, your family, and of course Baltimore Realty Group, nothing but the best.