Top Milwaukee-area real estate agent has a passion for house … – The Business Journals

One of the Milwaukee area’s most successful residential real estate brokers has developed a successful side hustle flipping houses.
Jay Schmidt of Keller Williams Realty North Shore estimates he has flipped nearly 30 properties in the Milwaukee area and a few in Florida — often for his own personal use but increasingly also on behalf of his real estate clients.
“I eat, sleep and breathe real estate,” Schmidt said. “Yes, it’s my chosen career but I really don’t see it as a job. It’s my passion.”
The pace of Schmidt’s house-flipping activity has picked up in the last few years amid a frenzied housing market that’s starved for inventory.
In the summer of 2021, Schmidt bought a mid-century house in Whitefish Bay for $640,000. As he was in the midst of remodeling it for himself to live in — a hole had just been dug for an addition and he also planned on adding a pool — he got an offer from another agent with an interested buyer. Before he could even move in, Schmidt sold the property for $1.55 million in early July 2022.
Schmidt was living in a rented house in Shorewood at the time and made an offer to purchase it after selling the Whitefish Bay property. He bought the Tudor-style house on North Lake Drive for $1.17 million and began renovating it. In late February — less than a year later— he sold it for $1.63 million.
Schmidt has been flipping houses since shortly after graduating from college in the mid-1990s. His first project was a duplex in Milwaukee’s Washington Heights neighborhood that he lived in while undertaking renovations. He bought another duplex and did the same thing, and then moved on to single-family houses.
“It was my hobby, my enjoyment, my passion,” Schmidt said.
At the same time, Schmidt was working corporate jobs in the buying office at Kohl’s Corp. and Boston Store. Around 2012, he left the corporate world to focus on real estate full time.
Schmidt originally got his real estate license for the purpose of buying and selling his own houses. But he quickly realized that he had a knack for selling real estate, selling properties totaling $9 million in his first year.
As the owner of the Jay Schmidt Group with Keller Williams Realty North Shore, he leads a team of 24 agents that has been No. 1 by volume in the Milwaukee Metro MLS for the last seven years, according to Schmidt.
His house-flipping side hustle helps with selling real estate because Schmidt can help prospective buyers envision potential remodeling projects and give them rough cost estimates based on his experience.
“Having done so many projects now, I have an eye for what a house can be,” Schmidt said.
About a year-and-a-half ago, the Jay Schmidt Group started a program called Equity Experts that renovates clients’ houses before putting them on the market. The brokerage fronts the money for the renovations and gets paid back when the house sells.
“If I’m working hard to renovate a house or flip it for myself (and) if a client of ours needs that same help, why wouldn’t we give it to them?” Schmidt said.
Already onto his next personal project, Schmidt is currently working on a mid-century ranch house in Fox Point.
“I’ve always loved mid-century and it’s hard to find them,” Schmidt said. “But honestly, whether it’s a little house or a big house, it’s always just that excitement of walking through and starting to see the vision.”
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