“Investor Spotlight Series”- How a Toy Store Investor Became a Real Estate Mogul

By Jenn LoConte
Oren Segev may possibly be the only real estate investor whose path to success went directly through a toy store. Oren began his investing career as a young man, with little capital or business knowledge. He’s learned many life lessons along the way, and today has become an entrepreneurial leader, well-known in the investment, real estate, and business world.

Oren began his entrepreneurial career in the retail business. At a young age, he invested all of his money, $16,000 to be exact, in a year-round toy store, located in upstate NY. He then began investing in specialty retail stores across nine states, peaking at over 50 stores. In 2009, Oren decided to shift focus towards investing in real estate. He invested 100% of his capital and began a real estate journey, of which he had no knowledge.  
Oren bought his first property for $19,500 in Elmira, NY. He successfully turned it into two units, generating $1300/month. Oren was intrigued by the potential of generating strong passive income opportunity and decided to purchase an additional 88 units during his first year. Currently, he owns 800 units in both NY and FL.
“My first goal was to build a rental portfolio — I was buying properties to hold onto them and turn them into rental units,” states Oren. “Currently, the market gives us the opportunity to be diverse between expanding our rental portfolio while simultaneously doing more flips. We look at every deal separately and realize what would be the best return. The key component is to make sure we are buying it right.”
In 2016, during his involvement with acquisition strategies, Oren noticed a new trend — buying distressed properties had actually become more expensive than building new properties. The cost of construction had become less than the cost of replacement. As a marketing professional, he knew that it made more sense for someone to own than rent, so he looked at demographics where he could offer current renters a better cost with home ownership while looking to expand his own rental portfolio.
Building a strategic marketing campaign based on eco-friendly smart homes, he successfully began to attract buyers prior to even building. In fact, he currently makes incredible margins. Oren is usually building 60 to 70 houses at any given time and building those houses on fully developed lots, in under 100 days!
What are Oren’s “keys to success?” He states, “Assemble a strong team, invest in the right people and build strong relationships. The foundation of every great business begins with people. Have fun and enjoy what you do to make it worthwhile. Visit job sites, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and don’t be afraid to learn from your mistakes. If you’re not having fun, it’s not the right business for you.”
By the end of this year, Oren’s 5-year plan is to create a nationally recognized homebuilding brand with innovative construction methodologies while hedging risk by building homes for rent and for sale. He hopes to build and sell 500 homes and continue that growth rate. Oren is certainly on the right path… even if it did start in a toy store.