By Michael E. Miller
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When Taipale gets calls from people wanting to sell a property, he puts them through a screening process to determine how serious they are about quickly consummating a deal. "You have to gauge their motivation to sell first," Taipale says. "So I will ask them a series of questions, like how much they owe the bank and what condition the property is in."
His goal is to buy single-family houses at 50 to 60 percent lower than the assessed market value and then flip the assets to wholesale investors within 30 days. Using Sam's handyman referral service, Taipale fixes up any properties that need work.
On his most recent deal, a three-bedroom house in Miami Gardens, Taipale claims he made a $5,000 profit. "Last year I cleared about $25,000," he says. "I'm also starting to do deals on multihousing units. Right now I have a building with six apartments I'm trying to let go."
Road signs have been his most effective marketing tool, he says. "It generates a high volume of calls while saving me a ton of money on advertising. As a business owner just getting started," he says, "you gotta work with what you got."
The oldest of five siblings, Taipale took a job as a pool attendant after he graduated from Miami Beach Senior High in 2004. Like Pichardo, Taipale also dropped out of Miami Dade College. "I went for about a month," Taipale explains. "But the classes were too slow for me, and I always wanted to be my own boss."
Working at Arkadia, he meets a lot of successful businessmen who provide him with inspiration and leads, Taipale notes. "I've met guys who have money that they don't know what to do with," he says. "These dudes who come to Arkadia can do whatever they want. All they do now is oversee their money. That's something I want."
I feel Taipale's go-getter enthusiasm rubbing off on me. I admire his moxie. He convinces me that I can start my own global empire teaching immigrants English, flipping real estate in the hood, and finding jobs for handymen. But, I think to myself, I still need to get in tip-top physical shape. Not just to prepare myself for my next hustle, but to impress the debutante I might eventually meet via a sign post.
On a late Tuesday afternoon, I come across a road sign promising a buff body in six weeks at Xtreme Gym at 230 71st St. in Miami Beach. Alas, the phone number listed on the cardboard is disconnected. I locate a former gym member named Juan, who informs me Xtreme closed one month after he signed up for a membership. "Luckily I was paying month-to-month," Juan says. "So I only lost the 45 bucks I paid for the first month."
I drive a few blocks north on Collins Avenue when I'm distracted by the marquee of a former movie theater that was built in 1931 on 74th Street. Bold red and black letters read, "Condesa Gym: Drama classes, zumba, tai chi, cardio boxing, belly dance."
I have stumbled on the perfect spot to get fit and learn some acting, which could come in handy in my nascent second career as a road sign entrepreneur. After all, a good salesman has to know when to turn on the charm even if he doesn't have any.
Inside the theater, the scent of stale sweat hits my nostrils like a left hook to the face. Thumping techno music echoes throughout the cavernous auditorium where gym equipment, barbells, and a parquet dance floor have replaced the rows of theater seats. The movie screen is still intact.
Condesa Gym owner Ricardo Brito lounges in a leather chair in the lobby. A salt-and-pepper-haired, muscular man wearing blue jeans and a body-hugging navy polo, Brito explains I can opt for a three-month membership for $100, but for an extra $50, I can also take the classes he offers. The acting component is taught by his Cuban-born wife, who graduated from Havana's Instituto Superior de Arte. "In the fall, we are going to put on local productions on Friday and Saturday evenings," Brito says. "We'll be allowing our students to play roles alongside professional actors."
But that's not all, Brito continues. "We're a dance school too. We teach tango and salsa Tuesday and Thursday evenings." I was set.
By the time I meet my dream woman, I'll be a dashing, hip-swaying real estate mogul with a chiseled body and an ultramagnetic command of the English language.
On a Thursday morning in early August, I park in the semicircular driveway of a single-story blue house on the corner of Sheridan Street and 58th Avenue in Hollywood. Nearly a month after learning English by pronouncing words in Spanish and finding out how I can make money buying and selling real estate using road signs, I still have had no luck getting a date on echatepaca.com. And my mission to track down a dating service on a sign post has hit a dead end. So I called the tarot card reader whose number I saw on a post and now find myself in front of her house. I need some spiritual guidance. Maybe I was looking in the wrong place.
What a wonderful article, the best kind of human interest story. You are a great writer, and to think (grin), you are a Nica! (I joke, I stepped foot in Nicaragua, once, only about fifteen feet).Frank, thank you for the fun story. I have a sign picture to send you, it's fresh and here in the Grove, not quite like your thrust, but it shows our local color.
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I hope these fools take down some of those ugly signs. I live in Libery city and these signs are plastered all over the place. Liberty city already have issues with litter, the last thing they need is more litter. If this guy is trying to flip houses, does it not work against them to litter a place that they are trying to sell a house in. I don't mind a few signs but they are putting up hundreds of signs that are making our neighborhood look bad. CLEAN UP OR SHIP OUT!!!
Great Article. I have always thought about doing the exact same thing, maybe I should get a job at Miami New Times.
You really should do an article on how Hispanics in Miami-Dade County has made it so that nonSpanish speaking Americans and legal U.S. residents are unable to find gainful employment within the city limits. You should do an article on how inheretly racist Hispanic Americans in Miami-Dade County are and how they use and dispose of Americans and legal residents who speak only English. That is a story that would earn you a pulitzer. Tell the truth about what Miami Dade County is really like if you are not Hispanic.
Fantastic article. I was cracking up at the "biutiful" part- my girlfriend came over here when she was a kid and still pronounces it "be-a-YU-ti-ful." What was the guy's number again?
Excellent article. Goes to show how many scammers there are in South Florida. Hence the scammer capital of the world. Besides Nigeria. All we need now is to have people saying they have large sums of money overseas and need your help to take it out for a price.
Good luck with finding a woman on echatepaca.com. lol...
Excellent article! Depicts life in south florida so well..we are full of "inventors" all the time..congrats on this article. Posted to Facebook
Why do you mock a 32 year established Hialeah company that promises/offers to teach English in six months when the University of Miami promises to do a thorough course in teaching/learning Espanol in only seven days?
Maybe UM offers the formal, proper Spanish, which very few in South Florida speak or understand.
It is similar to someone from 'Ox-Bridge' trying to understand someone from the backwoods of Mississippi.
Otherwise, your article was fairly amusing.
So if you are living in Miami and you can't get a job because you don't speak Spanish, then why don't you just learn Spanish? It's not a very hard language to learn. I'm sure you could learn it if you tried.
Calm down! I have a lot of non-Hispanic friends that enjoy Miami very much....stop being such a sourpuss. 95% of Hispanics are very outgoing people, just make an effort to get to know them and stop being a racist!
We shouldn't have to learn spaninsh to get a job because Miami is not in South America. It's in the United States of America and we speak ENGLISH here. A hundred years ago my ancesors immegrated here and they learned English and so should all the people who immegrate today. We build a strong society and a strong country by having a common language. Things fall apart when people cannot communicate effectively. "Trapped In Miami" I really feel for you. My family escaped Kendall 25 years ago and it's only gotten worse since then.
We shouldn't have to. You live in an English speaking country. In fact this country was built on the English language and you should learn English and speak it. And if you don't like that then Leave.