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Interview with a Philly real estate giant :FAWWAZ BEYHA

Updated: Oct 21, 2021


Our CEO spoke with South Philadelphia's own renowned business mogul and real estate veteran, Fawwaz "Jazz" Beyha. We sought the truth behind the legend-stories and discovered what the #entrepreneur lists as the keys to success in real estate.


Dedication looks like...

A typical day for Beyha involves extremely early rising, usually before the sun, and ends with shutting off his phone in the early evening. With the many puzzle pieces of development projects that tug at a developer’s attention, it is necessary for Fawwaz to establish work-home life boundaries. However, in between, much of the day involves calls, emails, site checks, schedule reconfiguring, as well as identifying opportunities for #financial cutbacks if needed.


His immense dedication and success in the field would make us believe that he is just living a dream he always had for himself when stepping into the field in the mid 1990s. But, Fawwaz actually did not have deep-seated feelings about real estate or about getting into the field. Hence, he did not come into the industry with an overwhelming feeling early on that it was a calling or “for him” per se.


It all began while he was working in his trade of barbering.

He was repeatedly visited by a local real estate agent and was asked for referrals. Seeing how Beyha’s connections benefitted this agent, Fawwaz decided that the agent was doing nothing that he himself could not do. That is when he pursued a real estate education at the prestigious Temple University with the very referral fee that he was offered. Take note here: you'll see throughout this quick tale that discipline is a common theme in Beyha's life. For example, as noted previously, he shared that it has been a long time habit of his to rise long before the sun and restrict others' access to him in order for him to maintain work- life #balance.


His start

Jazz, as he is affectionately known, initially worked as a real estate agent. He stepped into development when he was able to purchase a home strictly off of having great credit. Over time he continued purchasing properties using a creative refinance #strategy. This ultimately made him the #wealthy and #successful South Philly developer that we all know him to be today.

"...he did not come into the industry with an overwhelming feeling early on that it was ... “for him”. "

His Mastery

Across his development career, Fawwaz assumed development projects “99.9% of the time, in South Philly.” In following this pattern, he strengthened his industry and project acumen specific to the property types in different parts of South #Philadelphia. In him this created almost instant recollection of development costs, requirements, targeted end users, projections and potential profits for area projects. So, surely when asked about taking on new areas and hence, switching up his strategy, he agreed with the adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. So, he continues building on his established area expertise and incorporating it into projects that he is pursuing even today.


His development approach

In his development projects, he notes that tremendous help comes from his #travel and general life experience in different environments. He gets #ideas about layouts, fixtures and more from these sources. He noted that he finds #inspiration everywhere. Jazz also noted that he tries to incorporate as much of that inspiration as possible. For instance, being inspired by nature in Florida actually moved him to incorporate similar palm trees in a Delaware #property.



Considering how he gets design ideas, he feels certain that no #development idea is fully original. One has to have experienced something to some degree in order to flesh out an alleged “new” idea. He accepts that as fact and uses it as a core tenet during idea inception. This allows him to avoid getting caught up in having to be known as the "first" to have done something. He isn't in that race. His newest idea is simply in competition with his last idea. And that is why he is often wearing an unbothered, confident demeanor in his semi-retirement days.


Project Specs

Most of Beyha's mixed use properties included apartments and barbershops or salons. His strategy with mixed use properties would allow him to remain financially balanced. In turn, he could aid tenants without putting tons of financial pressure on them as their landlord.


Business Man? About his community? BOTH.

Furthermore, this mixed use strategy would allow him to give up and coming beauty professionals a chance to build profits. *These are not Beyha's exact words* Some of these #professionals were societal write-offs who were returning home from prison and had limited skills and support to provide for their families. Or, they were beginner entrepreneurs who no one else would take chances on. So, Beyha was filling his needs from a real estate logistics standpoint; but also offering a unique opportunity to community members. In taking care of #community members who are heads of their households, he essentially aided families in his community who were being led by those whom he employed. Because of its far-reaching benefits, Beyha deemed mixed use projects his favorite project type.


Moreover, due to extreme difficulty, unfamiliarity and stringent requirements, Fawwaz has not taken up any affordable housing development projects. However, he still believes in the need for such housing, given that he personally experienced #homelessness for five years. So, just as he is a specialist in fair market-price housing and best serves people because of that, he is inclined to leave affordable housing to those specialists to ensure best results for those recipients.


Overall

Of the many projects that he has completed, Jazz has never once wished that he never started any particular project; no matter how difficult. Clearly, he takes the good with the bad. He notes that he likes most that the industry responds well to hardwork and that it's pretty simple in theory. However, he dislikes that the majority of developments that exist in Philadelphia do not include African American developers, nor do they benefit most from developments. His point doesn't fall on deaf ears, as the Federal Bureau of Labor and Statistics notes that in the real estate industry, African Americans make up for only 9% of real estate professionals. However, Caucasians make up for over 80%. I think that these statistics also speak to the distant proximity that Beyha naturally had to the industry, being African American and coming from humble beginnings. Yet, he was still blessed and dedicated enough to rip through those closed doors and build a great legacy.


Following his career strategy and staying faithful has granted Fawwaz a foothold up out of five years of homelessness, as mentioned, to owning tens of properties early on in his career; attaining $7M in real estate; having personal homes in multiple states; and living much of his life at sea.

There is much to be taken from his journey in the industry that we all can incorporate into our own careers in real estate.



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