Why Did You Become a Real Estate Investor?

Each week, we post a new question to the Best Ever Show Community on Facebook. The Best Ever Show Community is a place where real estate entrepreneurs of all stripes and sizes can come together to interact with each other, me, and the guests featured on my podcast with the purpose of everyone helping each other reach the next level in their businesses and their lives.


What better way to add value than to ask you, the community, for your Best Ever advice on a variety of different real estate topics. This week, the question was what was the first thing that piqued your interest in real estate investing?


The polls are closed, the responses are in and here are your answers:


1 – Taxes


Mark Slasor became interested in real estate investing because of the various tax benefits. More specifically, because of the tax write offs allowed against his W2 income.


However, tax write offs, also referred to as deductions, are just one of many tax benefits that come from investing in real estate. Brandon Turner over at BiggerPockets wrote an in-depth article on the tax benefits that come from investing in real estate, which include deductions but also long-term capital gains, depreciation, 1031 exchanges, no self-employment or FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) tax and “tax free” refinances. For more details on these six tax benefits, you can read his post here.


2 – Control


When compared to other investment avenues, like a 401k, stocks, bonds, money market account, etc., investors have more control over real estate.


The investor decides which of the many strategies to pursue. They select the property. They pick the type of financing. They control the entire business plan. Etc. Because of all of this control, the investor has the ability to directly influence the profitability of their investment project.


Jeremy Brown became interested in real estate because of this control factor. He realized the stock market was a lot like gambling. Generally, the value of the stock is tied to factors over which the individual investor as little to no control. Conversely, you have the ability to directly affect the returns of a real estate project.


Chris Mayes became interested in real estate for similar reasons. Not only did he love the thought of passive income and an early retirement, but also his ability to be actively involved in the investment in order to directly impact the returns.


3 – Opportunities


There are such a variety of opportunities in real estate, whether it’s different investment strategies, property types, business plans, etc., that investors frequently suffer from shiny object syndrome. “I want to fix and flip houses. But oh look, what if I kept the house as a rental? Or I could just skip single-family investing in general and jump straight to apartments. Hmmm. Maybe I should just take my capital and privately invest in a syndication…WHAT SHOULD I DO?!”


For the past 50 or more years, investors have reached the highest levels of success using every investment strategy and investing in every asset type, which far outweighs the drawbacks of shiny object syndrome


Stevie Bear became interested in real estate because of this abundance of opportunities. He was attracted to the innumerable potential avenues to pursue for profitability in nearly any market or economy.


4 – Friends or Family


Some investors were lucky enough to be born into the real estate business. Leilani Moore was a property manager for her family’s business, learning the value of real estate investing over the years. Similarly, Barbara Grassey’s father was a real estate investor, and she enjoyed hanging around the properties he was renovating.


Another personal relationship that leads investors into real estate are friends. Harrison Liu became interested in real estate because of a close friend who had been investing for years. In fact, this friend helped Harrison find his first deal and he’s been investing ever sense.


Theo Hicks also became interested in real estate through a friendship. One night, over pizza and videogames, two of his buddies mentioned the value of real estate investing. In particular, they said “sometimes, I forget I even own the property until I receive a check at the end of the month.” He was intrigued and ended up putting his first property under contract in less than a week.


5 – Infomercial


Infomercials may be a fading industry, but many active investors became interested in real estate from these flashy 30-second advertisements. Robert Lawry II is a perfect example. He saw guru Tom Vu’s infomercial when he was 14 years old. He learned that once he bought his first investment, he could drive fancy cars, go on expensive boats and, most importantly, meet beautiful girls in bikinis! How do you say no to that?


6 – Financial Independence


Lastly, one of the main reasons why people are attracted to real estate is due to the prospect of financial independence. Purchase enough cash flowing real estate to replace your corporate income and you’re FREE. Stone Pinckney became an investor to pursue financial independence. Dave Van Horn wanted a way out of a dead-end job and a life of mediocrity. Eddie Noseworthy wanted the ability to create his own epic life and have more time to do the things he loves to do.


How about you? Comment below: Why did you initially want to become a real estate investor?


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What’s the Superior Investment Strategy – SFR Rentals or Apartments?

Real estate is the most exciting investment vehicle because there are nearly an infinite number of way to get started, achieve financial freedom and/or launch a business to create generational wealth.


There are many investment types to invest in, but which one is the most conducive to long-term success?


Today, I want to determine the answer to this question by looking at two investing strategies in a particular – single family residence rentals and apartment investing.


I will define SFR investing as purchasing a single-family home using your own capital and renting it out, and apartment investing as purchasing an asset with 50 or more units and raising capital from passive investors and renting it out.


For the purposes of this blog post, I will assume that an individual has set out to achieve a goal of $10,000 per month in cash flow (or $120,000 per year), which will replace their current corporate salary.


So, based on this goal, which strategy is superior? Let’s compare both across three important factors: scalability, barrier to entry and risk.




Scalability is how efficiently one can grow their real estate portfolio. The more difficult it is to scale a business using a certain investment strategy, the longer it will take to attain a cash flow goal.


Both SFR and apartment investing will allow you to generate $10,000 per month in cash flow, but which strategy will reach this goal the fastest while reducing the number of headaches?


For SFR rentals, the average cash flow per property per month is in the $100 to $200 range (depending on the market of course). Therefore, 50 to 100 SFRs are required to make $15,000. We immediately run into a few problems. First, you can only take out a limited number of SFR loans. Once you’ve purchased 4 to 10 homes (depending on the bank use and if they use Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac), you no longer qualify for a standard residential loan. However, a simple solution is to find a local community bank, who – once you’ve established a successful track record – will provide ongoing financing for your deals.


Although, you haven’t completely solved your financing problem. How will you afford the 20%, 25% or 30% down payments required to purchase 50 to 100 SFRs? This is the biggest drawback of SFR investing in terms of scalability. If you’re buying all $100,000 properties, that’s $1,000,000 to $2,000,000 in 20% down payments. Even if our sample individual saved up half their corporate salary to cover these down payments, it would take them 17 to 33 years to purchase 50 to 100 SFRs, and that’s assuming everything else goes according to plan. This timeframe can be reduced through refinancing, lines of credit or other creative financing strategies, but it will require a large amount of capital for down payments nonetheless.


For apartment investing, since you’re receiving commercial financing, you can obtain an unlimited number of loans (as long as the numbers pencil in for the lender). However, you will run into the same funding problem if you plan on using your own money. That’s where raising private money and syndicating an apartment comes in to save the day!


As an apartment syndicator, one of the ways you make money is from an acquisition fee, which is a percentage of the purchase price paid to the syndicator at closing. The industry standard is 2%. Therefore, to make $120,000 in one year, you would need to syndicate $6,000,000 worth of deals. To break it down even further, since an apartment deal generally required 35% down, you must raise $2.1 million from private investors to achieve your annual goal. And that’s not even accounting for the other ways you’ll get paid as a syndicator (i.e. asset management fee, a portion of monthly cash flow, a portion of the sales proceeds, etc.), which you could then use to purchase your own properties or reinvest into future syndications.


Technically, you could also raise private capital for SFR investing. However, the problem is that you’ll need to find multiple cash flowing deals at the exact same time in order to attract private capital or make the same amount of money compared to an apartment community. It’s possible but much more difficult to find 50 to 100 SFRs than finding an equivalent sized apartment community.


Unless you believe it will take you multiple decades to raise a few million dollars or you win the lottery, apartment investing is more scalable than SFR investing.


Winner: Apartment investing


Barrier to Entry


Barrier to entry means how easy it is to get to the point where you are capable of investing in your first deal. From a personal finances perspective, the barrier to entry is lower for apartment investing than SFR investing. To syndicate an apartment deal, investing your own personal capital will promote alignment of interests with your investors. However, this alignment of interests can be achieved in a variety of different ways (having your property manager invest in the deal, having your broker invest in the deal, having an experience syndicator as a general partner, etc.). Therefore, it is possible to syndicate a deal with zero dollars out of pocket. Although, I always recommend investing some of your own money in the deal for alignment of interest purposes but to also benefit for the profits! Whereas for SFR investing, as I outlined above, you will need to save up millions of dollars to afford the number of down payments required to generate $10,000 a month in cash flow.


From an educational and experience perspective, apartment investing has a much higher barrier of entry. No one is going to invest with you if they don’t know who you are or if you haven’t proven yourself to be a credible apartment syndicator. The solution to the former is creating a thought leadership platform. The solution to the latter, however, is more difficult (although, establishing a name for yourself through a thought leadership platform will not happen overnight). From my experience, before you can even entertain the idea of becoming an apartment syndicator, you must have a successful track record in real estate, business, or preferably both. Once that’s established, you need to educate yourself on apartment investing and syndications, which requires a lot of reading and research (but that’s what this blog is for!). Then, you need to surround yourself with credible team members who have an established track record in apartment investing. Only then will you be ready to search for your first deal, which could take anywhere from a few months to a few years! Whereas for SFR investing, as long as you have the money, you can buy a deal.


The barrier to entry for apartment syndication is easier from a personal finances perspective, but much more difficult from an educational and experience perspective compared to SFR investing. And there isn’t a way to fast track this process. It will take time.


Winner: SFR rentals




Investing, in general, will always have risks. However, not all investment strategies are the same in that regard.


As I mentioned in the section on scalability, the typical monthly cash flow generated by a SFR is $100 to $200 per month, or $1,200 to $2,400 per year. However, those low margins are very vulnerable to being drastically reduced or wiped out completely. One unexpected maintenance issue (let’s say a broken HVAC system) will cost thousands of dollars. Even minor maintenance issues of a few hundred dollars (replace an appliance, plumbing problems, electrical problems, etc.), when added up over time, will cost thousands of dollars. The same goes for turnovers. Some turnovers are relatively smooth and cost a few hundred bucks. However, if you have to repaint walls or replace carpet/refinish hardwood, those expenses add up quickly. An unruly resident may stop paying rent or violate the lease, and the resulting eviction process can be quite costly. Any one of these scenarios will eliminate months or even years of profits! Some of these risks can be mitigated with proper due diligence, but most of them are just the costs associated with investing in SFRs.


For apartments, these risks are spread across tens or hundreds of units. One maintenance issue, one turnover or one eviction has a much smaller impact on your profit and loss statement. Unless you are hit with a large amount of these problems at the same time, the apartment will cash flow. Whereas for SFR investing, you will not be able to benefit from this risk reduction until you’ve created a portfolio of at least 10 to 20 properties.


An apartment community is susceptible to risk when you don’t have a solid property management company or you failed to perform proper due diligence on the asset. As long as you have these pieces in place, and you follow the three fundamentals of apartment investing, the asset will not only survive, but thrive – even in a down market or if a handful of major or minor maintenance or tenant problems occur.


Winner: Apartment investing




Apartment investing has a higher barrier of entry. However, once you’ve addressed your education and experience, apartments are advantageous in terms of scalability and risk when compared to SFR rentals.


COMMENT BELOW: Which investment strategy do you think is superior between SFR rentals and apartments, and why?


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Overcoming 6 Obstacles Faced by Aspiring and Growing Real Estate Investors

Each week, we post a new question to the Best Ever Show Community on Facebook. The Best Ever Show Community is a place where real estate entrepreneurs of all stripes and sizes can come together to interact with each other, me, and the guests featured on my podcast with the purpose of everyone helping each other reach the next level in their businesses and their lives.


What better way to add value than to ask you, the community, for your Best Ever advice on a variety of different real estate topics. This week, the question was what is the biggest obstacle you face with either beginning investing or growing your investing business?


Instead of simply listing out your responses, we decided to provide you with the answers as well!


1 – Tracking Passive Investors


Allison Kirschbaum is an established real estate investor who is trying to scale her business. Her biggest obstacle is keeping track of all the new investors her company meets without having them fall through the cracks.


There are many CRM providers who offer tracking services, but they can be quite costly, especially if you are just starting out. That’s why I created my very own investor tracker, which I am willing to give out FOR FREE. Not only does this spreadsheet allow you to keep track of potential and current investor information, but it also automatically creates data tables to track the cities with the most investors (in terms of people and dollars) and the sources that generate the most investor leads. You can even use it for tracking the money raising process for a specific apartment deal.


If you are facing a similar obstacle as Allison, email info@joefairless with the subject line “Money Raising Tracker” to receive my custom investor tracker spreadsheet.


2 – Finding Deals in an Expensive Market


Two investors are finding it difficult to locate qualified deals in their local market. Sarah May lives in the highly competitive Denver market, and Killian Ankers also lives in an expensive real estate market. Both are open to investing in an out-of-state market, but would prefer to remain local, because they know their home markets like the back of their hands.


My company faced a similar obstacle in mid-2017. My target market is Dallas, TX, which was and remains highly competitive. Our solution was to get creative. We found an on-market opportunity that was highly publicized and marketed by a broker, which resulted in an ever-increasing price. Instead of walking away from the deal, we had our broker reach out to the owner of the apartment community across the street, and we were able to negotiate and put the property under contract at a significant discount! If we had only purchased the on-market opportunity, it wouldn’t have made financial sense. But due to the cost saving associated with purchasing two apartment communities on the same street, we were able to close on both.


On the other hand, if you do decide to pursue investment opportunities in a market outside where you currently reside, finding credible, experienced team members is a must! This process begins by selecting and evaluating a market, and then interviewing and hiring a property management company and a broker.


3 – Shiny Object Syndrome


Micki McNie is facing an obstacle to which everyone can relate – focusing on a single real estate strategy. Shiny object syndrome befalls investors of all experience levels. The near infinite number of potential investment strategies can paralyze an aspiring investor. Then, the longer you’re in the industry, the more people you build relationships with, which naturally results in being presented with a greater variety and volume of new and exciting investment opportunities.


How does the aspiring investor decide which investment strategy to initial pursue? Well, I think you need to identify the root of the problem first. Are you truly struggling with selecting the best investment strategy or are you just using that as an excuse to not take action? If it is indeed the former, pick the investment strategy that aligns most with your current interests and unique skill sets and show up EXTRAORDINARY, always keeping in mind that investors have had success in every investment strategy for the past 50 years! If it is the latter, you need to learn how to identify and crush your fear barriers!


How does the established investor avoid chasing after opportunities that are outside of their skill set? Accountability! And if you’ve found that holding yourself accountable is a challenge, outsource that responsibility by either starting a meetup group (social approval is a powerful way to keep you on track) or hiring a mentor.


4 – One Person Team


Neil Henderson has hit a barrier in growing his business because he’s trying to wear too many hats at once. He’s a loyal employee at his full-time job, father, husband, underwriter, marketer, capital raiser, negotiator and thought leader. Similarly, Vince Gethings struggles with finding the time to operate his business as he adds more units to his portfolio and balances his remaining time between family and work.


Whether you want more time to explore other non-real estate related passions or spend more time focusing on the long-term vision of your real estate business, the solution starts with outsourcing and/or automating some or all of your business, in addition to building a solid, trustworthy real estate team.


5 – Us!


Curtis Danskin believes that the number one obstacle keeping real estate investors from starting and scaling their business is themselves! They know what actions they need to take, but – for whatever reason – chose not to.


To overcome this challenge, identify the self-sabotaging behaviors in which you are partaking and implement strategies to rid ourselves of these bad habits.


6 – No Experience or Money


Scott Hollister lacks the experience, net worth and liquidity to enter the real estate arena. He’s already identified a solution, which is pursuing seller financed deals, but doesn’t know where to get started. In particular, he doesn’t know how to find seller financed opportunities.


Fortunately, success leaves clues. Here’s how an active real estate investor was able to close on seven seller financed deals.


Another strategy for those who lack capital is house hacking, where you purchase a two to four unit property with a low down payment owner-occupied loan and live in one unit while renting out the other/s.


COMMENT BELOW: What is the biggest obstacle that is keeping you from starting or scaling your real estate business?


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Real Estate Horror Stories From Five Active Investors

Each week, we post a new question to the Best Ever Show Community on Facebook. The Best Ever Show Community is a place where real estate entrepreneurs of all stripes and sizes can come together to interact with each other, me, and the guests featured on my podcast with the purpose of everyone helping each other reach the next level in their businesses and their lives.


What better way to add value than to ask you, the community, for your Best Ever advice on a variety of different real estate topics. This week, the question was what is your worst real estate story?



Michael Beeman and a Rotten Contractor


Michael’s first investment was a large single-family home. The plan was to follow the BRRRR (buy-rehab-rent-refinance-repeat) strategy, as it was a distressed asset that required approximately $25,000 in renovations.


Unfortunately, nothing went according to plan. Because he hired a terrible contractor who botched the renovations, Michael had to tear down everything and start from scratch. As a result, he went $25,000 over budget. While he technically didn’t lose any money, this did wipe out any equity he could have pulled out with a refinance.


Michael did learn a valuable lesson (always screen a contractor), and consequently, a year after this incident, he had built a portfolio of 31 cash flowing units.


Glen Sutherland and The Flood


Glen had a troublesome tenant who broke the terms of the lease and wouldn’t voluntarily vacate the premises. He successfully filed for an eviction. But one week before the scheduled eviction date, the tenant decided to leave. Great news, except for the fact that on the way out, without Glen’s knowledge, the tenant opened the valve on the hot water heater. By the time Glen realized what had happened, over three feet of water had accumulated in the basement.


Luckily, the basement was unfinished, which mitigated the damage. One dumpster, three days of shop vacuuming and a few dehumidifiers later, the basement was usable again. But, being a tenant-friendly real estate market, Glen was unable to take legal action against the tenant…


Julia Bykhovskaia and the “Philanthropic” Contractor


Julia purchased a fully furnished property with the intentions of using it as an AirBnB. It did require a few renovations, so she hired a contractor to perform the work. When she checked in on the status of the rehab, she noticed that all of the living room furniture had vanished. She asked the contractor what happened, to which he response that someone stopped by and really liked the living room furniture, so he let them take it all – even though Julia explicitly told to keep the furniture.


After a week of screaming and yelling, Julia and the contractor negotiated a solution. She withheld money in lieu of the furniture from the contractor’s payment. As a result, she was able to purchase furniture of a higher quality for the living room.


Theo Hicks and Niagara Falls  


Theo’s first investment was a value-add duplex in Cincinnati that required around $25,000 in renovations. He closed on a cold and dreary Thursday afternoon in February. His intentions were to begin the renovations that Saturday, but decided to take the weekend to celebrate his first deal instead.


Theo showed up on Monday to rip out the carpet and paint the walls. But once he opened the front door, he heard an unexpected noise – a faint whooshing sound. As he approached the stairwell to the basement, the sound became louder and louder. He walked down the stairs, turned to face the bathroom and was confronted with a waterfall!


Being his first deal, Theo didn’t understand what the real estate agent meant when she told him to “put the utilities in your name.” As a result, the heat was off the entire weekend. The pipes froze, thawed and burst, leaving him with a mini Niagara Falls in the basement bathroom.


Grant Rothernburger and The Kentucky Derby


The winner (or I guess loser) of the worst real estate story is Grant.


Grant was touring a prospective investment property in Kentucky that smelled like a barn. He walked into the basement and discovered the source of the smell…HORSES! That’s right. There were three horses wandering around the basement. The property was located in a small town, but it was not a rural area. There shouldn’t have been horses in that area in general, let alone the basement.


Needless to say, Grant decided to pursue other investment opportunities, but did walk away with a pretty hilarious story!



COMMENT BELOW: What is your worst real estate story?


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The Most Unique Way to Find Off-Market Apartment Deals

There are countless ways to find apartment deals, from common methods like brokers to unique approaches like cold calling to meetup groups.


However, the most unique approach I’ve come across is a lead generation strategy by James Kandasamy – who I interviewed on my podcast. Using the following seven step process, James found the majority of the assets that make up his 340-unit portfolio, including two apartment communities. What’s his secret? He texts the owners!


This process can be used to find any type of deal, whether you are a fix-and-flipper, wholesaler, SFR investor, etc. But for the purpose of this post, you will learn how to apply this approach to finding apartment communities.


1. Identify a target area


First, select a target market. If you haven’t already, check out this blog post where I outline a step-by-step process for selecting and evaluating a real estate market.


2. Identify a property class


As a value-add apartment syndicator, I invest in class B property types. If you are a turnkey investor, you’ll pursue class A opportunities. If you are a distressed apartment investor, you will pursue class C or D opportunities.


3. Define additional investment criteria


For me, my additional investment criteria are the number of units and age of the property. We want properties that are 150+ units and that were built in 1980 of newer. Based on your investment strategy, what factors do you look for in a potential deal (i.e. equity, delinquent taxes, recent evictions, signs of distress, sales date range, etc.)


4. Obtain a list of properties


Using online resources like the county auditor site or ListSource, create a list of properties using the three pieces of information above (market, property type/class and investment criteria).


Additionally, you want to find properties that were purchase 5 years or more ago. James has found that owners who’ve purchased a property in this time frame will have likely built up enough equity to accept a below market offer price because they’ll still make a profit.


5. Find the owner’s contact information


For properties listed in an individual’s name, you should be able to locate the owner’s contact information when you pulled the list. If it is listed under an LLC name or a property manager, use skip tracing software to get the owner’s phone number and/or mailing address. Here’s a good resource for how to track down owner information, JF1065: How to Track Down Vacant Property Owners with Larry Higgins


6. Conduct a marketing campaign


Send marketing information to the list of property owners, either via direct mail, phone call or text message. That’s right. A text message!


James actually obtained the majority of his deals via text messaging. His initial message is, “Hi. I’m a prominent investor in (insert target area). I saw your property at (insert property address) and am interested in buying it. You can sell it directly to me without any broker’s commission. Would you like to talk further?”


Standard replies he’s received and that you can expect to receive are:


  • If they are interested
    • You can talk to XYZ member of me team
    • Can I have more information about you and your business?
    • What can you offer me?
  • If they aren’t interested
    • I am not interested in selling right now
    • I am not selling anytime soon


7. Follow-up


Regardless of the response, follow-up is key. James said that most people will send out one batch of letters and then forget about it.


If the owner is interested, you need to obtain the rent roll and the trailing 12 months financials to determine an offer price.


If they aren’t interested, James recommends following-up (via direct mail, phone call, or text message) every 3 to 6 months to gauge their interest in selling again, to build rapport and be top of mind for when the owner is interested in selling. It’s all about timing.


For every 500 marketing pieces James sends, he receives a 1% response rate. Of the 1%, he will close on less than 0.1%. But as long as you’re persistent and follow-up, you’ll find that 1% of owner’s who are interested in selling.


COMMENT BELOW: Do you use or have you come across a lead generation strategy more unique than texting owners?


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12 Go-To Podcasts of Successful and Active Real Estate Entrepreneurs

Each week, we post a new question to the Best Ever Show Community on Facebook. The Best Ever Show Community is a place where real estate entrepreneurs of all stripes and sizes can come together to interact with each other, me, and the guests featured on my podcast with the purpose of everyone helping each other reach the next level in their businesses and their lives.


What better way to add value than to ask you, the community, for your Best Ever advice on a variety of different real estate topics. This week, the question was what are your favorite real estate and/or personal development podcasts?


Many of the responders chose my podcast, Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever, as one of their favorites, which is an honor for which I am very grateful! However, even though I host a daily podcast, I still enjoy consuming the content produced by other entrepreneurs and am always on the lookout for podcast recommendations.


In fact, out of all the responses, only a single person provided the name of one podcast (although I assume they listen to numerous shows), while the overwhelming majority provided a list of their favorite podcasts. Therefore, since the Best Ever Show Community is made up of active entrepreneurs, whether you’re the owner of your own podcast or not, listening to multiple podcasts across a variety of content is correlated to real estate success.


The poll is closed, the responses are in and here are your answers:


The Brian Buffini Show is Kyle Burnett’s favorite podcast. This is a personal development podcast exploring the mindset, motivation and methodologies behind true success.


The Real Estate Guys Radio Show is Maurico Rauld’s favorite podcast. This podcast delivers no-hype education and expert perspectives on real estate in a fast-paced, entertaining style.


Simple Passive Cashflow Podcast with Lane Kawaoka is one of Bo Kim’s and Ryan Gibson’s favorite podcast. This podcast, hosted by active Best Ever Show Community member Lane Kawaoka, promotes passive real estate strategies to give the listeners the freedom to quit their jobs and do what they truly want.


Happier with Gretchen Rubin is Neil Henderson’s favorite podcast. This podcast is hosted by a #1 best-selling author who, as the title implies, provides good habits that encourage a life of maximal happiness.


The Tim Ferriss Show is probably a top podcast for everyone, including Lennon Lee and Ryan Groene. This podcast deconstructs world-class performers from eclectic areas and digs deep to find the tools, tactics and tricks that listeners can apply to their daily lives.


Investing in Real Estate with Clayton Morris is Glen Sutherland’s favorite podcast. This is another podcast that offers passive real estate investment strategies to help listeners quit their 9 to 5 jobs.


Real Wealth Show with Kathy Fettke is a favorite of Carolyn Lorence, Ryan Gibson and Bill Tomesch. This show also interviews guests who shares advice on how anyone can build enough passive income from cash flowing real estate to quit their day job.


Apartment Investing with Michael Blank is one of Harrison Liu’s, Julia Bykhovskaia’s and Carolyn Lorence’s favorites. This podcast’s focus is on all things commercial real estate investing


Landlording for Life is Sean Morissey’s favorite podcast. A relatively newer podcast, it offers advice direct towards, as the name implies, landlords.


Real Estate Investing For Cashflow with Kevin Bupp is another one of Ryan Groene’s favorite podcasts. This show is for passive and active investors who are interested in learning the industry secrets of commercial real estate investing.


Old Capital Real Estate Investing Podcast with Michael Becker & Paul Peebles is one of the favorites of Julia Bykhovskaia, Carolyn Lorence and Ryan Gibson. This show is targeted at new and seasoned multifamily investors who are interested in or are actively acquiring and operating apartment complexes.


So Money with Farnoosh Torabi is Paresa Stewart’s favorite podcast. This podcast, hosted by an award-winning financial strategist, brings money strategies and stories straight from today’s top business minds.


My recommendation is to pick at least one podcast from this list and subscribe (of course, starting with my podcast :). Because, as I said, it is a trend amongst the most successful real estate entrepreneurs to listen to multiple podcasts to stay up-to-speed and competitive in the ever-changing economic landscape.


In the comment section, post your favorite real estate or personal development podcast, either from this list or something new.


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Five Game-Changing Quotes from The Best Ever Conference 2018

Thank you to everyone who made the Best Ever conference a great success – the speakers, the sponsors, the attendees and the Best Ever team. If you were unable to attend this year’s conference, you missed out on some game-changing real estate, business, and personal success advice.


Here are just five of the many takeaways from the keynotes, presentations and panel discussions, with much more to come in future blog posts.



Scott Lewis, Spartan Investment Group


Scott understands that ample planning is vital to business success. However, as he learned in is time in the military, a plan never survives first contact. When you go to implement a plan and you get an uppercut to the face, you need to either have a backup strategy in reserve or have the resourcefulness to problem-solve on your feet.


In other words, for every project, you need a primary plan, a backup plan and a plan in the event that both the primary and backup plans fail.



Andrew Campbell, Wildhorn Capital


You don’t need a doctorate’s degree to become a real estate investor. If that was the case, the majority of the speakers and attendees at the Best Ever Conference, including Andrew Campbell, would be bankrupted. A Proper education, experienced team, proven investment strategy and the willingness to take massive, consistent action trump intelligence, period.



Terrell Fletcher, Entrepreneur and Former NFL Pro


Terrell attributes his business and NFL success to his love for the day-to-day grind. The majority of our business lives are spent in the pursuit of our desired outcomes.  These are the routines we perform and the actions we take on a daily and weekly basis. Life’s too short to do things that we don’t want to do. So, instead of torturing yourself, direct your time to the things that you love to do (and, ideally, are good at) and find experienced team members to do the things you that you don’t.



Trevor McGregor, Trevor McGregor International


We all have that little voice in our head that tells us why something is difficult or impossible to do. Because where focus goes, energy flows, if you listen to that voice, you will act as if it is telling the truth. In reality, that voice in our head is BS. It is your Belief System. Recondition your belief system from the “I can’t” to the “I can and will” mindset and your business will flourish.



Joe Fairless


Forced appreciation is great, but betting on natural appreciation is a big no-no in my book. When you buy for cash flow, as long as the asset is in the right market, you don’t have to worry about what the overall real estate market is doing. In fact, if the market takes a dip, the demand for your cash flowing rental property will likely increase.


QUESTION: Which of these five quotes gives you the most inspiration and/or value?


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What’s the Best and Highest Use of $20 Million in Real Estate Investing?

Each week, we post a new question to the Best Ever Show Community on Facebook. The Best Ever Show Community is a place where real estate entrepreneurs of all stripes and sizes can come together to interact with each other, me, and the guests featured on my podcast with the purpose of everyone helping each other reach the next level in their businesses and their lives.


What better way to add value than to ask you, the community, for your Best Ever advice on a variety of different real estate topics. This week, the question was someone is handing you $20 million in property for FREE. Which asset class would you choose?


This week’s question was a little different. We conducted a survey in addition to asking for written responses to the question, particularly for those who selected “Other.” The breakdown of the answers were as follows:


  • Multifamily: 58
  • Self-Storage: 15
  • Commercial offices, retail centers, etc.: 11
  • Other: 5
  • Mobile Home Parks: 4
  • Single Family: 2
  • Urban Mixed Use: 2


Mitchell Drimmer is one of the 15 people who selected self-storage, mainly because he has purchased multifamily in the past and is not a fan. He admitted that multifamily may perhaps have a higher cap rate but are nothing but problems day in and day out, especially in “value neighborhoods.” Mitchell hasn’t purchased self-storage in the past. But as an outsider, he says self-storage is seems like a business with almost no clients, no hard luck stories from residents, no evictions, no complaints about certain maintenance issues and very little code enforcement issues. Done properly, at the right price and in a good location, Mitchell believes self-storage is a great business model.


Ryan Gibson also selected self-storage for similar reasons – it is an asset class with the lowest “resting heart beat” (no tenants, little maintenance, minimal employees). But additionally, he picked self-storage because it has the most automation and the highest returns.


Brandon Moryl was one of only two people who selected their $20 million to be in the form of single family homes. And in particular, luxury homes. According to him, that part of the real estate market has yet to fully recover, meaning there is the potential for a lot of growth. Additionally, there is less competition in the high-end SFR space compared to your typical $75,000 fixer upper. He also said, “with the stock market killing it and the overall economy rocking, combined with programs like 5% jumbo [loans], that’s is where I would be.” Finally, and maybe most importantly, he says it’s sexy owning million-dollar homes. Indeed!


The investors who selected “other” offered more creative or niche investment strategies.


Danny Randazzo went with a diversified approach. Chibuzor Nnaji Jr. concurred. Danny would look for a deal in each asset class and invest in a few of the most attractive opportunities. “It could be one deal requiring $20 million or it could be a deal in each. Share the love!”


Deren Huang, with the support of Michael Nerby, would invest in NNN, or triple net leases. According to Wikipedia, a triple net lease is a lease agreement on a property where the tenant or lessee agree to pay all real estate taxes, building insurance and maintenance (the three “nets”) on the property in addition to any normal fee that are expected under the agreement (rent, utilities, etc.). He said NNN is the true passive investment.


The last two individuals left the real estate market entirely – at least in part.


Lane Kawaoka selected two answers. He would invest in multifamily because it “it’s the sweet spot in terms of the sharp ratio risk reward matrix. Not too hot, not too cold…just what the baby bear likes.” However, he would consider accepting the entire $20 million amount in the form of a savings bond and just live off the interest.


Finally, Diogo Marques would forgo real estate altogether and purchase solid, stable companies that he could see operating in 10 years’ time with a 10% to 15% net profit margin annually.


COMMENT BELOW: Someone is handing you $20 million in property for FREE. Which asset class would you choose?


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If You Had a Time Machine, What Would Be Your First Investment?

Each week, we post a new question to the Best Ever Show Community on Facebook. The Best Ever Show Community is a place where real estate entrepreneurs of all stripes and sizes can come together to interact with each other, me, and the guests featured on my podcast with the purpose of everyone helping each other reach the next level in their businesses and their lives.


What better way to add value than to ask you, the community, for your Best Ever advice on a variety of different real estate topics. This week, the question was if you  were starting real estate investing over again, what would be your first purchase?


The poll is closed, the responses are in and here are your answers:



Brandon Moryl


Brandon would acquire as many turnkey single-family residences as he could. In his market, Cincinnati, he can purchase a $100,000 turnkey SFR with $15,000 in out-of-pocket costs that rents for $1,250 per month.  Great cash-on-cash return, longer tenants compared to multifamily, and easy to sell.



Harrison Liu


16 years ago, Harrison acquired his first investment – two triplexes situated right next to each other in a class C market. Today, the area is going through gentrification, so the rents have doubled and the property values have tripled. However, being in a C market, Harrison has had a few tenant issues over the years, including two evictions and being taken to small claims court.


Therefore, if he was starting over, he would have purchased a fourplex in a B location. Instead of two loans, he would have one. Also, he would have had access to higher quality renters, which means he likely wouldn’t have been taken to small claims court.



Ryan Murdock & Glen Sutherland


If they were starting over, Ryan and Glen would have purchased a three or four-unit property with an owner-occupied loan, living in one unit and renting out the others. Also known as housing hacking, they would have been able to acquire a rental property with little money out-of-pocket (generally 3.5% of the purchase price) and lived “rent free.”



Devin Elder & Whitney Sewell


Both Devin and Whitney said, if they were starting over, they would find a mentor.



Neil Henderson


Neil Henderson would have skipped over the single-family residence and smaller multifamily investments and went straight for a 100-unit apartment community.



Charlie Kao


When Charlie was starting out, he considered purchasing a condo from a bankrupt builder. Originally, the builder was offering the condos for $356,00 to $410,000. However, the people who agreed to purchase the condos couldn’t qualify for financing. So, the builder greatly reduced the sales prices.


Charlie was considering a 2-bedroom condo listed at $160,000. If he could go back, he would have purchased that condo, because today the current value exceeds $650,000.



Robert Lawry II


Robert kept it simple and humorous. If he was starting over, his first investment would have been business cards.


Make sure you join the Best Ever Community on Facebook. Check the group page every Wednesday and answer the weekly questions for an opportunity to be featured in next week’s blog post!


In the comment section, post what your first purchase would be if you were starting over again.


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Five Ways To Find Your First Off-Market Apartment Deal

Previously Published in Forbes Here


In a previous blog post, I outlined the benefits for both a seller and buyer of completing an apartment transaction off-market, as opposed to on-market through a broker. Although off-market deals are highly attractive on both sides of the transaction, when it comes to ease, they lose the edge.


Finding on-market deals is a fairly passive approach: All that’s required is sending a broker your investment criteria and asking them to subscribe you to the “for sale” apartment lists. Then, any current or future listing that meets your criteria will be automatically sent to your email inbox. However, you won’t have control over the number of opportunities you receive. Since it’s solely based on the number of owners who happen to list their property with a broker, you could see a bunch of opportunities one week and then go a few months without seeing any.


The more active and beneficial approach is to pursue off-market apartment opportunities. Generally, there are two ways to find these deals: by either speaking directly to the owner or to someone who knows the owner. Your prospecting tactics should only target these two groups.


Here are five methods apartment investors use to successfully find and close on off-market deals:


1. Direct Mailing Campaigns


One of the most well-known tactics for acquiring off-market deals is through direct mailing campaigns. A direct mail campaign consists of sending out a batch of letters to a list of apartment owners with the purpose of sparking a conversation that results in the acquisition of their property.


There are two keys to a successful direct mailing campaign. One is your mailing list. A high-quality mailing list will only include owners whose apartment communities meet your investment criteria and who show at least one sign that they’re interested in selling. For example, we only mail to owners who’ve purchased their property five or more years ago. They will have likely built up enough equity to sell their property at below market value while still making a sizable profit and/or they could be coming to the end of their business plan. Another option is only mailing to distressed owners. Indications that an owner is distressed is their inclusion on the eviction court, building code violations or delinquent tax list or living in a state other than the one in which the apartment is located.


The second key is your mailing frequency. Decide what frequency you will mail to your list of owners — monthly, quarterly, every six months, etc. — and commit to the system. Sometimes, you may receive a reply on your first mailer, while other times it won’t be until you’ve been mailing to the same owner for a year that you receive interest.


2. Cold Calling


Rather than sending direct mailers to your list of distressed apartment owners and waiting for the phone to ring, call the owner directly.


With cold calling, compared to direct mail, you’ll have more control over the number of conversations with owners. It is also less expensive, as you are avoiding the costs of letters, envelopes and stamps.


Cold calling can also increase your conversion rate. With direct mail, if an owner isn’t interested in selling, they won’t reach out. Whereas with cold calling, you can follow-up by sending the owner a letter referencing the conversation, providing your contact information and notifying them that you will call again in X months (2, 4, 6, whatever you decide) to see if they are interested in selling.


3. Thought Leadership Platforms


A thought leadership platform can be a great source for off-market deals. With an interview-based podcast, blog or YouTube channel, you can form relationships with your guests and build a large audience, conveying to both your interest in purchasing apartment communities. With a meet-up group, you can network face to face with attendees and handpicked speakers who are active in real estate investing.


Regardless of the platform you pursue, as a thought leader, you will be reaching and cultivating relationships with both apartment owners and the professionals who know the owners, which are the only two ways to find off-market deals.


4. Call “For Rent” Ads


Calling the apartment owners of rental listings on online services such as Craigslist, Apartment.com, Zillow, etc. or on “for rent” signs scattered across your local market to gauge their interest in selling is a great way to find off-market deals.


If an owner has a unit listed for rent, you’ve automatically identified a pain point. The unit is vacant, which means they are losing money. You might catch them at a moment in time where they are motivated to sell.


5. Apartment Vendors


Electricians, carpet installers, roofers, plumbers, HVAC professionals, pool repairmen, lawn care professionals, etc. — anyone involved in the servicing of apartment communities is on the front lines and will likely have insider information on communities that are being neglected.


First, use their services or refer them to other apartment owners to build rapport. Then, ask them to notify you about potential distressed owners or neglected communities.


Overall, I recommend selecting two methods from this list and focusing on generating leads from those for at least six months. We live in a culture of instant gratification where people expect quick or immediate results. In general, that isn’t the reality, and it’s especially true when you’re dealing with million-dollar properties. It takes time to generate apartment leads. It requires constant action, constant tracking and constant improvement.


During your six-month trial period, log your results for each of the marketing methods. If one or both of the marketing methods have poor results, either tweak it or try another tactic. All of these tactics have worked, but all of them might not work for you because of your market or because of your unique skill set. You’ve got to find a tactic that aligns with what you’re uniquely good at, which may take some trial and error. Ultimately, it’s not about having five lead sources. It’s about finding the few that work best for you.


What is your favorite method for generating apartment or other real estate deals?


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What’s Your Favorite Real Estate or Personal Development Book?

 Each week, we post a new question to the Best Ever Show Community on Facebook. The Best Ever Show Community is a place where real estate entrepreneurs of all stripes and sizes can come together to interact with each other, me, and the guests featured on my podcast with the purpose of everyone helping each other reach the next level in their businesses and their lives.


What better way to add value than to ask you, the community, for your Best Ever advice on a variety of different real estate topics. This week, the question was what’s your favorite real estate or personal development book?


The poll is closed, the responses are in and here are your answers:


Garrett White:  The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy



Ryan Gronene: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill



Lennon Lee of BLD Capital Group, Carlos Altamirano of CFA Investment, Mauricio Rauld and Harrison Liu: The One Thing by Gary Keller



Whitney Sewell: Never Eat Along by Keith Ferrazzi



Ryan Gibson of Spartan Investment Group: Tax-Free Wealth by Tom Wheelwright



Chibuzor Nnaji Jr.: The Go-Giver by Bob Burg



Danny Randazzo of Randazzo Capital: Mistakes Millionaires Make by Harry Clark



Dave Van Horn of PPR Note Co.: Leading an Inspired Life by Jim Rohn



Charlie Kao of MCK Property Management: Maximum Achievement by Brian Tracy



Justin Kling: Investing in Duplexes, Triplexes and Quads by Larry B. Loftis

Make sure you join the Best Ever Community on Facebook. Check the group page every Wednesday and answer the weekly questions for an opportunity to be featured in next week’s blog post!


In the comment section, post your favorite real estate or personal development book.


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How to Find Private Money Regardless of Where You Live

Last week we closed on our 12th property and our company portfolio is now valued at more than $250,000,000 (click here to see the lesson I learned on my last deal). Since this quarter billion dollar mark is sort of a milestone I thought it would be interesting to look at where my potential and current investors live to see if there is anything interesting we could learn from it.


Yes. Yes, there is.


Before we look at the stats, let’s define a couple things.


I define Potential Investors as investors with whom I have a relationship, are accredited and have expressed interest in investing with me but have not invested yet. Current Investors are accredited investors with whom I have a relationship that are currently investing in my apartment deals.


Now let’s dig into the stats of my investor database.


Top 5 Cities with the most Current and Potential Investors:

  1. New York City: 18%
  2. Dallas-Fort Worth: 10%
  3. Los Angeles: 9%
  4. Houston: 5%
  5. San Francisco: 4%


So, out of all my Current and Potential Investors across the United States, 18% live in NYC, 10% live in DFW, etc. This makes sense for a handful of reasons.


First, they are large cities (ex. Population of NYC is 8M+).

Second, I lived in NYC and DFW so have family and friends there.

Third, our properties are in Texas so DFW and Houston investors have a level of familiarity with the market they are investing in. They see the same thing we see in terms of population growth, job growth, economic outlook, etc.


Now let’s look at the Top 5 cities with the most Current Investors (removed Potential Investors).


Top 5 Cities with the most Current Investors:

  1. New York City: 18%
  2. Dallas-Fort Worth: 11%
  3. Los Angeles: 6%
  4. San Francisco: 5%
  5. Tied- Houston, Miami, Austin and Seattle: 4%


Ok, still making sense and for the reasons stated above. Large cities, places I lived, have family and friends residing, and, in three cases, are in the same state as our multifamily deals (Austin, Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth).


But here’s where the wrinkle occurs.


Let’s look at all the equity my investors have invested in my apartment syndications and what % of the total invested dollars is attributed to each city where investors live.


Top 5 Cities with % of Investment Dollars in Deals

  1. New York City: 18%
  2. Cincinnati: 13%
  3. Dallas-Fort Worth: 11%
  4. Miami: 7%
  5. San Francisco: 6%


…what in the Cincinnati just happened?!?!


Cincinnati isn’t a top 5 city of mine in terms of total # of Current Investors and/or Potential Investors.  In fact, to dig deeper Cincinnati only has 2.5% of my Current and Potential Investors living there. And only 3.5% of my Current Investors living there.


I am not from Cincinnati and, in fact, have only lived here for approximately 3 years. So, why does it represent 13% of all the equity invested in my apartment deals? The short answer is because I am actively involved in the local community. But that short answer doesn’t do the real lesson learned justice so let me elaborate more.


Here’s how I did it:


  • Host a local meetup. The first month I officially moved to Cincinnati (because my wife is from here and she’s the love of my life so I followed her to the city and now we’re here for the long-term) I started a meet-up. If you have time to ATTEND a meet-up then you have time to HOST a meetup. It doesn’t take that much more effort to HOST than it does to simply ATTEND and the rewards for HOSTING are exponentially greater. I did this to make friends in Cincy. I didn’t do it necessarily to generate investor relationships but that’s exactly what it did.
  • Host Board Game and Drinks nights at your house. This Friday my wife and I are having friends of ours, some of which are investors, come over to our house for a night of board games, drinks and dinner. Hosting events at your house as couples, along with couples, is fun and goes a long way to continue to build your friendship with those locally.
  • Consistent online presence that has an interview component to it. Or, in short, my podcast. I interview someone Every. Single. Day. on real estate investing and have released an episode for the last 1,197 days. There are multiple benefits for doing this and I won’t get into all of them but I will focus on one of the benefits and that is that every time I interview someone they then want to share it out to their audience which helps expand my reach. And, if I interview people in my local market that introduces new, local connections to me which can then turn into business relationships since I get to have dinner, drinks, etc. with them. Here’s a post I wrote on the step-by-step process to create a real estate thought leadership platform.
  • Volunteer then become a board member for that non-profit. I had no intention to meet investors when I started volunteering for Junior Achievement. But I have since realized that by volunteering for a cause I feel strongly about (Junior Achievement helps kids in underserved communities learn financial and entrepreneurial skills) I was able to connect with like-minded people and then become friends with them. I got on the board for JA in Cincinnati and have built friendships with people on the board which then turned into business relationship where they invest in my deals. You could take the same approach but make sure you genuinely believe in the cause and are doing it for the right reasons (i.e. helping further the cause’s mission) vs trying to grow your biz, otherwise it will fall flat and won’t be fulfilling for you.


By doing these simple things, you can build an investor network in your city that is perhaps stronger than any other network. When people personally know you they are more likely to trust you, recommend you to others, and invest larger. The beauty in this is that it’s helpful for you regardless of where you live.


Cincinnati is approximately the same size as St. Paul, Minnesota, Toledo, Ohio, Stockton, California and…Anchorage, Alaska. So, if you live in a city that is larger then there’s really no excuse to not having all the capital you need for your deals. If you live in a city that’s smaller than Cincinnati (300k population) then you can still apply these principles although it might require you to host your meetup in the next largest city next to where you live, that way you get better return on your time.  Regardless, apply these principals and you will quickly build a local investor network than can help you fund your deals.


In the comment section below, tell me how you will implement these proven money-raising tactics in your real estate business.


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If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment below.


16 Lessons From Over $175,000,000 in Apartment Syndications

Since completing my first apartment syndication (raising money from private investors to purchase 100+ unit multifamily buildings) a little over threes ago, I’ve completed an additional six deals. Currently, my company controls over $175,000,000 in assets.


After completing each deal, I took inventory on the valuable lessons I learned and made sure that I applied any solutions or outcomes moving forward in order to ensure that each subsequent deal went smoother and was more efficient than the last.


In total, I have learned and applied 16 invaluable lessons to my syndication process, which I can attribute to my continued success.


From my first deal, which was a 168-unit in Cincinnati, OH, and my second deal, which was a 250-unit building in Houston, TX, I had my first two main takeaways:


Lesson #1 – Get the Property Management Company to Put Equity in the Deal


If you are not managing the property yourself, then have the local property management company you’ve hired put their own money into the deal. It is true that you will have less equity in the deal, but the advantage is that since the management company has their own skin in the game, it is human nature that there will be much more accountability due to an alignment of interests. This is something I didn’t do on my first deal, which was a mistake, but I did apply it to the 250-unit deal in Houston.


When following this strategy, it is even more important that you’ve adequately vetted the property management company. If you aren’t completely comfortable with your selection, then you’ll be stuck with them as both a manager AND a general partner – a double whammy.


In return for equity, you can try to negotiate with the property management company for the lowering or elimination of certain fees, such as management fees, lease-up fees, and/or maintenance up-charges.


On top of the property management company putting equity into the deal, if they also bring on other investors that adds another layer of accountability and alignment of interests.


Lesson #2 – Prime Private Money Investors Prior to Finding a Deal


If you have a good deal, money will find you. But, that doesn’t mean you should wait for the deal before starting the money-raising process. On my first deal, I raised over $1 million and did so after finding the deal. It was, shall I say, a character building experience. As a result, I don’t recommend that same approach to others.


Leading up to my second deal, I prepped the majority of my investors so that once I had a deal under contract, the money-raising process flowed more smoothly. I still brought on new investors after getting the deal under contract, but overall, the process is much more efficient when you prep investors beforehand.


Note: I don’t actually receive money before I have a deal. I only speak to investors about a hypothetical deal, or past deals, in order to gauge their interest level in investing.


Here is the exact process I use for priming investors before finding a deal:


  • Schedule a meeting with investors
  • Ask questions to learn their financial goals and how they evaluate success with their investments
  • Talk to them about your business (What is your real estate background? What do you invest in? Why do you invest? What is multifamily syndication? Etc.)
  • End the conversation with the following question: “If I find something that meets your financial goals, would you like me to share it with you?”


When I’ve asked this question at the end of investor conversations, I’ve never had anyone say no.


Moving forward, keep the interested investors (which should be all of them) updated as you look at properties. A simple email will suffice. Then, when you find a property, they are already well aware of how your business operates and how multifamily syndication works. As a result, they are more inclined to invest.



My third syndication deal was a 155-unit apartment in Houston, TX, where I took away three more lessons:


Lesson #3 – Go farther faster by playing to your strengths


For my first syndication deal (168-units in Cincinnati, OH), I did it all.


  • I found the deal
  • I performed the underwriting
  • I raised all the private money
  • I conducted the due diligence
  • I hired all the team members and was the main point of contact moving forward
  • I closed the deal
  • I was the asset manager.


While it was a great learning experience, doing it all myself didn’t set the deal up for optimal success. Quite frankly, I am not an expert at many of those duties. For example, I am not a proficient underwriter. I am competent and know how to evaluate a deal and determine if it is good or not. However, I haven’t spent hundreds or thousands of hours focusing strictly on underwriting deals. Like most things, the more you do it, the better you get.


So on this deal, I learned that I needed to partner with someone who is phenomenal at underwriting large multifamily deals. Actually, I partnered with this person on my second deal – the 250-unit. This third deal only re-enforced the need to do it again moving forward because it will allow me to do what I’m good at and allow him to do what he’s good at. Again, we’re both capable of doing each other’s job, but we wouldn’t do as good of a job.


As long as no missteps are made when selecting who to partner with, it allows the business to go farther faster because you are both focused solely on your crafts. Yes, there is should overlap (for example, I triple check all the underwriting and review it in detail), but it’s better for someone with lots of experience to be the primary underwriter.


What’s something you’re really good at? What’s something you’re not good at? Do more of the former and less of the latter because it’s likely that you enjoy doing what you’re good at, which is why you’re good at it, and vice versa.


Lesson #4 – Do something consistently on a large distribution channel


If you are a real estate investor, you’re in the sales and marketing business. Fix-and-flippers, wholesaler, multifamily syndication, etc. are all in the sales and marketing business. Perhaps passive buy-and-hold investors aren’t, but I’m sure there’s a creative way we could connect them to it.


Since were in this business, we must have a consistent daily presence in order to gain exposure and build credibility with our customers/clients/leads.


Some large distribution channels (with some ideas for each) are:


  • BiggerPockets (official BP blogger, being an admin, posting, commenting, adding value, offering assistance, being insightful)
  • Amazon.com (writing books and publishing them)


Related: Self-Publishing Your Way to Thought Leadership, Leads, Money, and Much More


  • iTunes (podcasting)
  • YouTube (video blog, tips, interviews, make real estate music videos…?)
  • Facebook (create a community around an in-person event you host and then open it up to a larger audience)
  • Instagram (pictures of renovations before & after)
  • Twitter (proactively answering real estate related questions)
  • Meetup.com (host a frequent meet-up group)


Related: The 4 Keys to Building Relationships Via Social Media


Whatever you do, do it DAILY.


Do it consistently.


And do it on a large distribution channel.


Many people want the shiny object, the golden nugget, the Super Secret Plan that will let them retire on the beach in Tahiti. I think that’s ridiculous. We live in an instant-gratification culture. The truth is that to make a good living in real estate, you MUST be consistent with strategic, proven actions. That’s it.


Lesson #5 – There is major power in doing a recorded conference call when raising money


This is going to be a super simple lesson and you might even say “duh.” If you do, I don’t blame you, BUT it’s something I didn’t do on my first two multifamily syndications. I figured if you don’t do it either then it would help you out when raising money.


Here’s the tip: have a conference call with qualified investors to talk about your deal and record it!


When we were in the middle of raising money for this 155-unit apartment community, my business partner and I decided to have a conference call to present the deal to accredited investors. We did a similar call on our previous deal but we didn’t record it.


For this one, however, I recorded it. It was tremendously helpful with raising money for the deal, mainly for two reasons:


  1. Most accredited investors are busy making money, which is why they actually have money to invest in the first place. This helps them listen to the presentation on their schedule
  2. The questions being asked are from a group of people, which is beneficial to others who are listening but didn’t think of those questions


Here’s how I record the conference call:


  • First, I make sure the attendees have the presentation prior to the call so that they can review it and come up with questions.
  • Next, I used freeconferencecall.com (I have no affiliation with them) and simply set up the call.
  • During the call, I have the attendees email me questions. That way, I know who is asking the questions, and I can follow up with them afterwards
  • At the end of the call, we do a Q&A session, and my business partner or I answer all the questions that are asked.


As you’re raising money, I highly recommend this simple approach. I’ve personally seen a benefit, and I’m confident you will too!



My company’s fourth syndication deal was a 320-unit, which was the largest deal we’d closed.


Around the time I closed the 320-unit deal and still to this day, many people ask me how they can break into the multifamily syndication business (i.e. raising money and buying apartments with investors). So, I put a list together for anyone who wants to do bigger deals, but doesn’t know hoe to use their special talents (we all have them) to make it happen.


Here is a list of 6 ways to creatively get into the business:


  1. Find an off-market deal
  2. Conservatively underwrite deals
  3. Negotiate terms and get all legal documents in order
  4. Raise capital for deals and be the ongoing point person for capital sources
  5. Secure debt financing (if applicable)
  6. Do property management


Which of these areas appeal to you the most? Which do you want to do? How do you want to spend your time?


If you’re going to be a successful multifamily syndicator then you’ll need to choose your primary area of focus. If you try to do it all, then you’re doing your investors and yourself a disservice. Why?


We all have special talents. We are all wired differently and process information differently. The key is to have a business where you have team members doing what they love to do and what they are good at (surprise, they go hand-and-hand), while you are doing the same.


Yes, I have working knowledge of ALL 6 areas and I recommend you do too. But, you can break in the business by having a specific focus and being strategic about how you leverage that focus.


So, here you go, the 6 ways to break into the apartment syndication biz:

Lesson #6 – Find an Off-Market Deal


By finding an off-market deal, you can bring it to an experienced investor who can close on it.


But before you actually look for deals or bring one to an experienced investor, figure out WHOM you should bring it to and qualify them to ensure you’re not doing unnecessary work. Your time is valuable.


To qualify them make sure they:


  • Have closed on similar properties that you’ll be looking for
  • Are willing to structure the agreement in a way that meets your goals (more on this below)
  • Are trustworthy and provide references – don’t enter into an agreement lightly. Any partnership has major implications because you’re bringing in investor money.


Should you ask for a one-time fee or equity in the deal? Well, it’s nice to get a fee for finding a deal but don’t you want the long-term benefits of being in a deal? I would. So while you might need to get a fee on the first couple deals because, well, you need to eat and have shelter, the more you do it the more you should transition to being an equity partner for finding the deal. Don’t take a single-family home wholesaler’s approach. Rather, take a buy-and-hold investor’s approach because that is what ultimately sets you up for long-term financial freedom.


Practically speaking, if someone came to me with an off-market deal then I think it’s worth about $25k – $100k depending on some of the details (i.e. size, how good of a deal it really is, etc.).


Related: 4 Legal Ways to Get Paid Raising Capital for Apartment Deals

Lesson #7 – Conservatively Underwrite Deals


By conservatively underwriting deals, you can get into the business by taking your talents to a group (or person) who is getting tons of deal flow and needs help underwriting deals. My business partner and I get a ton of deal flow so we brought on a couple MBA students at UCLA to help us with the initial underwriting. After they do the initial underwriting we then take it from there and complete the analysis. We pay them $10k once we close on a deal and then there’s long-term potential for them to be in on the deals as we grow our business.


So, if you’re a numbers nerd…ahem, numbers guy/gal then this is a way to break into the industry. I interviewed a 20-year-old who did this and helped close a $2.3M deal. I mean, come one, if a junior in college can do it then why not you??


Lesson #8 – Negotiate Terms and Get all Legal Documents in Order


Getting a law degree is another way to get into the business. If you’re not an attorney or don’t want to get a law degree then skip to the next lesson.


Seriously, this isn’t the most practical way into the business but if you already have a law degree then it might work. First off, the person responsible for the acquisition is likely the one who negotiates the terms so really all that’s left are the legal documents. Paying the cost of legal on syndicated deals makes more financial sense than bringing an attorney in on the deal as a General Partner in most cases. However, perhaps you can find a group that has grown to the point where it makes financial sense to have an in-house council. It’s likely even if you’re an attorney that you’ll need to combine this lesson with other things you bring to the table in order to make for an appealing partner.

Lesson #9 – Raise Capital for a Deal and Be the Ongoing Point Person for Capital Sources


By raising capital for a deal and being the asset manager, you can get into the business by partnering with someone who has a proven track record in the multifamily syndication business. You bring the money and they bring the deal. If you have a network of high net worth people AND they think of you as a savvy businessperson then this could be your ticket into the business.


Here are some points to guide you along the way:


  • Identify partners that are already doing deals and have a successful track record
  • Get an idea of how much you would make on a past deal of theirs if you raised XYZ amount of money – this gives you some benchmarks for how much you’ll make on future deals when you bring in the money
  • Make sure the partner has money in the deal – otherwise, what do they have to lose if you bring in your money and your investor’s money and the deal flops? Always have alignment of interests


Remember: if you’re raising money for other people’s deals, you must be on the General Partnership (GP) side. If you are not on the GP side and you are raising money then that’s against the law unless you have a Securities License. Be careful here. Make sure you’re on the GP side if you’re raising money for a deal.


I’ve written multiple posts on proven methods successful investors I’ve interviewed are using to raise capital:


  1. My Four-Step Apartment Syndication Money-Raising Process
  2. 3 Ways to Raise Over $1 Million for Your 1st Apartment Syndication
  3. A 5-Step Process for Raising BIG Capital For Multifamily Syndication
  4. 4 Principles to Source Capital from High Net-Worth Individuals
  5. 4 Non-Obvious Ways to Raise Private Money for Apartment Deals
  6. How to Overcome Objections When Raising Money for Multifamily Investing


Lesson #10 – Secure Debt Financing


Being a mortgage broker and securing the debt financing is another way to get into the business. If you aren’t a mortgage broker or don’t want to be one then skip to the next lesson.


Even if you are a mortgage broker, similar to lesson #8, you’ll most likely get paid a fee (i.e. commission) instead of being brought on the GP side. That being said, I know of some groups that comprise of mortgage brokers and they get in the deals by putting in their brokerage fee as the equity in the deal.

Lesson #11 Do Property Management


Become a property manager. As a property manager you have lots of ways of breaking into the business. Here are some:


  • Networking with local, aspiring investors who want to do deals but don’t have the track record. You can bring your team’s track record of turning deals around and they bring the money for the deal. You have a lot of leverage here because without you or someone like you they couldn’t get approved for debt financing (and likely won’t be able to raise the equity)
  • Work with an experienced group and tell them you’ll exchange your property management fees for being in on their next deal. This could help them sell in the deal to their investors because it shows alignment of interests. You have less leverage than the above scenario but still provide a lot of value.


You could even combine a couple methods and raise money for the deal while also trading your property management fees for being in the deal. The more money you raise the more equity you get in the deal.


Or, you could raise money for the deal and get equity but not trade in your property management fees even though you’re managing the deal. Basically you can slice it a lot of different ways. It’s only limited by your creativity and ability to add value to the deal. Ultimately your ownership should be proportionate to the value you add to the deal.

Bonus Lesson – Some Other Ways to Break into the Business:


  • If you’re a broker then: put in your commission to be part of the deal. On my first multifamily deal (a 168-unit), the brokers on the deal put in their commission of $317,500 to become owners with us in the deal. It was a win-win because my group had to bring less money to the closing table and they got to re-invest their commission into something that had major upside.
  • If you have experience in multifamily investing but don’t want to deal with the headaches of finding deals then you could do asset management for other investors.
  • You could also just do your own deal and all aspects of that deal (i.e. find it, get money for it, get financing for it, get right management partners, do asset management) similar to what I did on my first deal.

My company’s fifth syndication was a 296-unit, which was our fourth purchase in a 12-month period. For this deal, I had two major discoveries.


When I conducted my post-deal analysis, I looked at the investors who invested. More specifically, I looked at if they were new or returning investors, as well as how much each (new vs. returning) investor contributed to the total money raise.


Here were the findings on this deal:


  • 69% were new investors
  • 31% were returning investors


However, the interesting thing I found was that the percentage of capital contributed to total money raise was almost split 50/50 between new and returning investors.


  • % contribution to total raise for new investors: 49.6%
  • % contribution to total raise for existing investors: 50.4%


So, here are a couple takeaways for anyone in the biz of raising money for their projects:


Lesson #12 – How to Keep Investors Coming Back


New investors likely won’t invest as much per person as returning investors. On this deal 31% of my returning investors invested 50% of the total equity raise. However, after the 1st deal, the new investors were no longer new investors! So as long as you deliver and/or exceed expectations, it’s likely the amount invested will increase over time.


Lesson #13 – Top Investor Lead Generation Sources


Always have 3 ways to bring in new investors. Then convert them to returning investors. My 3 largest lead generation sources for new investors are:


1. Referrals from current network


I don’t ask for referrals from my current investors or clients, but I do get them. One suggestion is to provide your investors (or potential investors if you don’t have them yet) with content that they can and want to share with their friends. For example, I wrote a book (Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever: Volume 1) and mailed out TWO copies to each of my investors. I wrote a personal note to the investor on one of the books and told them the other book is for a friend of theirs that they’d like to give it to.


2. My podcast – Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Show


My podcast is the world’s longest running daily real estate podcast. The daily show has provided me with a consistent presence via iTunes and Google searches. Most importantly, it helps people get to know me even though we’re not having a one-on-one conversation.




Since joining BiggerPockets, I’ve posted over 2,500 times and have been rewarded 10x over via the new friendships and relationships I have formed



The six syndication deal my company closed on was a 200+ unit in Richardson, TX, which is a submarket of Dallas. After adding 200+ units to our portfolio, my company broke the 1,000-unit mark!


As for this deal, the lesson I learned is simple. But before I mention it, let me tell you a quick story…


I had lunch with someone who asked me to meet with him. He was interested in raising money for their fix and flips and was wondering how to go about doing so. He asked me a bunch of questions about where to find investors, what type of paperwork is needed, how to structure the investor conversations, etc., and I gave him answers to all the questions he asked.


He told me at the beginning of our meeting that he also wanted to see what I needed. And, true to his word, at the end of the conversation he asked me, “What can I do to help you out?”


I tend to get that question a fair amount of times so I have three things I tell most people.


  1. Buy my book (all profits are donated to Junior Achievement),
  2. Listen to my podcast and write a review on iTunes
  3. Be on the lookout for off-market deals that are 150+ units


I appreciated him asking and was curious which one he’d pick and/or what he would say/do.


He said he loves listening to audiobooks and that he would get the audio version of my book after he finishes up with two or three other books he’s currently listening to.


I then had to leave so we parted ways.


Question: How good did he do at adding value to my life?


Answer: To Be Determined. 


I sincerely applaud his effort and intention but there was no execution that I could see.


Is there a different approach that really impresses the person who you’re attempting to add value to? 




It’s slightly different but has dramatically different results.


Here’s how:


Even though he’s in the middle of listening to two to three audiobooks, instead of saying “I’ll get to it after I’m done with the other books,” I would say, “I’m going to buy your book and will have it purchased by the time you get in your car in the parking lot!” BOOM.


Or, even better, “Joe, hold on one second. I’m ordering your book right now. That way I can write a review by the end of the month.”


Holy cow. What a difference that would’ve made from a perception standpoint. Is he spending the same amount of money and time regardless of which approach he takes?




Is there a big ole difference between the perceived value that each of the approaches provides?


Oh yeah.


THAT leads me to the lesson I learned that was reinforced on this 217-unit deal.

Lesson #14 – Immediately Add Value


When you have an opportunity to connect with someone, it’s important you IMMEDIATELY add value to his or her life. It takes the SAME amount of time but generates DRAMATICALLY different results compared to if you wait.


The 217-unit deal was a syndicated deal. However, it was only with one investor. I met that investor because he reached out to me after hearing me on someone else’s podcast. I was able to get on that other person’s podcast because when we met, I immediately referred him to people who I thought could help him get more business.


It’s simple. But lessons don’t need to be complicated in order to be effective.


Please note: I am NOT calling out the person I met with. I applaud him for asking what he can do to add value and saying he’ll do it. I’m simply saying there is ANOTHER LEVEL to go in order to be outstanding. And that level is to IMMEDIATELY add the value in order to stand out. 


Tim Ferriss said on his podcast, “Be unique before trying to be incrementally better.” That’s exactly the lesson here. People simply don’t follow through with what they say most of the time. Therefore, instead of saying you’ll do something later, just do it then. You’ll be unique and the results can lead to BIG things.



The seventh deal was a 200-unit in Dallas, TX. That purchase put my company at over $100,000,000 in assets under management (1,438 units). And per usual, I conducted a post-purchase analysis to uncover any lessons or takeaways.


I realized that there’s a way to communicate with investors about deals that really resonates. I boiled it down so I could use it during my investor communications moving forward, and so that others can use it during their deals when they are raising private money.


But first, I need to provide some backstory.


What’s your favorite book? Mine is Crucial Conversations. The book explains how to navigate conversations when opinions vary and when the stakes are high. The main solution discussed is to come up with a mutual purpose, and then, build up from there.


What about your favorite book? And what is the central theme? After looking at my bookshelf, I realized most of my favorite non-fiction books have one or, at most, three central themes. Then, the author uses the rest of the book to simply elaborate or add additional context to those themes.


Some examples…


  • Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss: optimize your time by creating a system for things that you currently do manually
  • Investing for Dummies by Eric Tyson: stocks, start-ups and real estate are the three main ways to invest. Pick which path you want to take
  • Blink by Malcolm Gladwell: you can make informed decisions in a blink of an eye because of what Gladwell calls “thin-slicing”


So, what does this mean for us as real estate investors? It means that if we can boil down our main talking points into central themes, then we can communicate more effectively and get more transactions closed.


Lesson #15 – Three Talking Points when Communicating a Deal to Investors


I’ve identified three themes to talk about ANY deal. They are:


  1. Market
  2. Team
  3. Deal


Then, I focus on the top 1 to 2 selling points for each of those categories.


Here is how I applied this during my last deal I closed – the 200-unit in Dallas:



  • DFW is home to 25 Fortune 500 headquarters and has been a top growth market in the country for years



  • My company currently controls over $70,000,000 in apartment communities in Dallas



  • Off-market deal being purchased at 26% below the sales comps
  • Projection the same rent premiums on upgraded units that the current owner is achieving


By organizing your conversation talking points with investors into these three themes, it addresses all the relevant aspects of the deal. Of course you’re going to need to elaborate on each of them, but at least you’re making sure you’re covering all your bases and leading with the most important selling points on the deal.


This strategy helped me close on this past deal and I’ll continue to use it moving forward. How you get a lot of value from using it as well!


For further details on this strategy, listen to JF857: How to Communicate Succinctly through Complex Deals and In General #followalongfriday


More recently, I closed on my eighth and ninth deals, both in Dallas, TX. In fact, the are directly across the street from one another. After closing on these two deals, the value of assets under my company’s control was over $175,000,000.


After reflecting on these two deals, I had one major takeaway. But before getting to that lesson, I want to provide some context.


There was an on-market deal that was highly publicized and marketed by a broker. My partner and I loved the deal. However, due to competition, the price kept creeping higher and higher so we weren’t sure if the deal would make financial sense.


Directly across the street from this on-market deal was another apartment complex. The on-market deal is over 300-units and the majority of units are 1-bedroom. The property across the street was over 200-units and is primarily 2 and 3-bedroom units. Therefore, the two buildings naturally complemented each other.


Fortunately, we have a very good relationship with a broker in Dallas who also happened to know the owner of the apartment across the street. The broker reached out to the owner and since it was an off-market deal, we were able to negotiate and get the property under contract at a significant discount.


At the same time, we were in negotiations for the on-market deal. Since we were purchasing the property across the street at a significant discount, we were comfortable bidding higher on the on-market property because we would have the cost savings that comes from economies of scale.


One of savings that results from economies of scale, for example, is the lead maintenance person. Instead of having one person onsite and paying them let’s say $50,000/property, you can split that cost. There are also economies of scale for marketing and advertising, leasing staff salaries and commissions, and property management.


Also, since one building is primarily comprised of 1-bedroom units and the other is comprised of 2 and 3-bedroom units, we have a natural referral source. If someone is looking for a 1-bedroom unit, we’ve got it covered. If someone is looking for a 2 or 3-bedroom unit, rather than saying “no can do,” we can send them across the street!


Now to the lesson I learned.


Lesson #16 – Find Deals in a Hot Market By Creating Opportunities


In order to find deals in a hot, competitive market, create opportunities. Don’t just look at what the brokers are giving you. Instead, get creative. Look at what else is around the on-market property and maybe you can package two deals into one transaction.


I can almost guarantee nobody on the face of this earth was doing that for this deal. Everyone was looking at the on-market deal, but nobody looked across the street (or elsewhere in the surrounding area) and thought to themselves, “Hmm, I wonder if I could buy that property too?” Because if they had, they might have seen the same thing we saw – a natural opportunity to combine the two deals.


I can also tell you that this is the first time we’ve purchased two apartment buildings simultaneously. We had to self-reflect and say to ourselves, “Okay. If we get this one deal, then we can definitely pull it off from an equity standpoint, but what if we get two deals? We know we can do one, but can we really deliver on two?”


We had to have faith based on our track record of delivering on our previous deals. Lo and behold, we had one investor who’s invested with us in the past few deals put up all the equity that we needed for both deals (minus the money that we put in).


Overall, it was a learning experience across the board, from how to find deals in a hot market (you create opportunities) and also when to strategically stretch yourself based on the situation at hand.




In total, I’ve completed seven multifamily syndication deals in a little over 3 years. Currently, I control six different buildings with a value of over $100,000,000. From these deal, I’ve learned 15 invaluable lessons:


  • Lesson #1 – Get the Property Management Company to Put Equity in the Deal
  • Lesson #2 – Prime Private Money Investors Prior to Finding a Deal
  • Lesson #3 – Go farther faster by playing to your strengths
  • Lesson #4 – Do something consistently on a large distribution channel
  • Lesson #5 – There is major power in doing a recorded conference call when raising money
  • Lesson #6 – Find an Off-Market Deal
  • Lesson #7 – Conservatively Underwrite Deals
  • Lesson #8 – Negotiate Terms and Get all Legal Documents in Order
  • Lesson #9 – Raise Capital for a Deal and Be the Ongoing Point Person for Capital Sources
  • Lesson #10 – Secure Debt Financing
  • Lesson #11 – Do Property Management
  • Lesson #12 – How to Keep Investors Coming Back
  • Lesson #13 – Top Investor Lead Generation Sources
  • Lesson #14 – Immediately Add Value
  • Lesson #15 – Three Talking Points when Communicating a Deal to Investors
  • Lesson #16 – Create Opportunities to Find Deals in a Hot Market


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What the NFL, NBA and NASCAR Can Teach Us About Real Estate

According to HuffPost, the average career length of a professional athlete is only 10 years. That means that by their late-20s, earlier-30s, a professional athlete is forced into finding another career path and, more importantly, a revenue source.


Unfortunately, even with the multi-million dollar contracts that are standard today, the statistics aren’t on their side. A Sports Illustrated analysis found that 78% of former NFL players were bankrupt or under financial stress within two years of retirement, and an estimated 60% of former NBA players were broke within five years of retirement. However, the athletes that do overcome the odds and successfully transition into the business realm have done so by using skillsets that are valuable to real estate entrepreneurs of all stripes.


On my daily podcast Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Show, where I interview and extract the best tactical business advice from investors and entrepreneurs, I asked four professional athletes about their keys to success. Here’s what they shared.


Explore New Ideas Fearlessly


Carl Banks, a former NFL linebacker, earned the football equivalent of the Holy Grail twice, winning two Super Bowls with the New York Giants. What you may not know is that while still playing in the NFL, Carl was the first athlete to host a post-game radio show, The Carl Banks Giants Report, where he provided an insider’s analysis of his games. Consequently, he was the pioneer of the plethora of pre- and post-game sports panels led by athletes and coaches today.


Additionally, upon retirement, Carl took the business world by storm with his involvement in G-III Sports, the largest licensed sports apparel company in the world. However, when starting out, Carl and G-III lost over $3 million worth of licensing business to Reebok. Instead of throwing in the towel, he hustled to gain the business of mom-and-pop retailers. By providing them with such a high level of service, after 18-months, G-III was re-awarded the licensing rights, which – in combination with his newly won mom-and-pop customers – doubled G-III’s business.


Carl attributes both his radio and licensing success to his willingness to fearlessly explore new ideas. He told me, “As painful as it can be, don’t be afraid to fail, because entrepreneurism is about exploring every idea you have. It’s about blazing a trail, breaking new ground and having a better idea.”


Click here to listen to my full interview with Carl Banks.


Give 100% Effort


Another Super Bowl winning former athlete who found similar success in the business world is former defensive end Marvin Washington. After he exited the league, he delved into a relatively new business endeavor – a hemp-derived CBD product company Isodiol, where he leads the promotion of their IsoSport line – a hemp-based nutrition line that supports both mind and body wellness in training and competition used by high profile athletes.


Marvin became a Super Bowl winning athlete and navigates the ever-changing cannabis industry by his ability to put forth maximal effort, even when things aren’t progressing as quickly or as smoothly as expected. He said, “You have to give 100%. You have to really work hard and apply yourself, because if you think you’re going to work 9 to 5 and have success, you’re misleading yourself.”


Tactically, this is accomplished by sufficient planning and visualizations. Marvin writes out a plan for his days the night before so he knows that if he adheres to his schedule, he’ll have a successful day. Additionally, on the weekends, he reviews the previous week to see what he could have done better, which he then incorporates into the next week. Finally, whether it was before a big game or an important business meeting, he performs visualizations. For NFL games, he visualized himself making the right play in specific situations. For business meetings, he visualizes himself going over talking points and getting the proper narrative across to his audience.


Click here to listen to my full interview with Marvin Washington.




Unlike most professional sports, there isn’t a defined career progression for becoming a NASCAR driver. Nonetheless, Kurt Busch was not only able to become a NASCAR champion, but he’s also a self-made millionaire through his racing brand. The key to his success was persistence.


Kurt told me, “When people are telling you to do this, do that, and yet you know what you’re focused on – that’s persistence. When it takes over your life, that’s when you know you’ve got to go that route.”


Similar to NASCAR, there isn’t a predefined blueprint for real estate success. Moreover, real estate investors can face a lot of resistance and negativity from their family and corporate career driven peers. Kurt wants you to know that you aren’t alone. When he was in college, everyone told him that racing was taking over his life and he needed to study more. At his first job, he was told that racing was taking away from his focus and work ethic. Yet, he persisted, which ultimately led to him winning 27 NASCAR races and counting, including the 2017 Daytona 500.


Click here to listen to my full interview with Kurt Busch.


Empowered by Failures


Jay Williams is considered one of the most prolific college basketball players in history, which is reflected by his 2nd overall selection in the 2002 NBA draft. However, his career was ended prematurely after a devastating motorcycle accident. Yet, against all odds, Jay owned this negative experience and used it as something empowering. He pivoted to become a multi-talented ESPN college basketball analyst, motivational speaker and best-selling author.


Jay told me, “I think a lot of people run away from bad things that have happened in their life, instead of documenting it, recognizing it, thinking through it and then using whatever experience they’ve been through as a positive driver in their life to push them to be more.”


It’s about not letting failures define you and instead, analyzing what went wrong and applying those lessons to the future, which reminds me of a powerful goal setting technique. Instead of a goal’s success relying fully on the outcome, 50% is based on that and the remaining 50% is about identifying systems, skills, techniques or lessons learned from the process of striving for that outcome and incorporating those into your approach for pursuing future goals.


Click here to listen to my full interview with Jay Williams.


Question: Which of these four lessons can you attribute to your current level of real estate success, and why?


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If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment below.


The Ultimate Success Formula for Apartment Syndicators

I attended the Tony Robbins’ Unleash the Power Within seminar and one of my biggest takeaways was the Ultimate Success Formula. If you reflect back on anything you’ve accomplished in your life, no matter how big or small, I can guarantee you that you followed this formula.


What follows is the outline of the 5-step formula and how it can be used for finding deals and private money. Although, it can also be easily applied to any business, personal, relationship, fitness or overall lifestyle goal you pursue.


1.    Know your outcome


First, know what you want. Clarity is power, so you want to be as specific and detailed as possible.


As apartment syndicators, our outcome will be a desired annual income. Since we want to be as specific as possible, determine the exact amount of money you need to raise to achieve your annual income goal. Let’s say your goal is to make $100,000 this year. One of the primary ways apartment syndicators make money is with an acquisition fee. The standard fee collected at closing is 2% of the purchase price. To get a $100,000 acquisition fee, you’ll need to close on $5,000,000 worth of apartment buildings. Generally, the amount of equity required to close, including the down payment and closing fee, is 30%. 30% of $5,000,000 is $1,500,000. Therefore, to achieve a goal of $100,000, you will need to raise $1,500,000.


To determine the exact apartment purchase price and amount of money you need to raise in order to achieve your annual income goal, email info@joefairless.com and request a FREE Annual Income Calculator.


With this approach, instead of having a vague goal, you’ll know the exact number of leads and investor money we need to attract, and can take massive intelligent action (see step 3) to get there.


Tony Robbins says “where focus goes, energy flows.” Once you define your outcome and make it your main point of focus, you will begin to – almost automatically – take the right steps and identify the right opportunities to achieve it.


2. Know your reasons why


Jim Rohn says, “How comes second. Why comes first.” Now that you know your outcome, before formulating a plan of action for how you’ll achieve it, you need to know the reasons why you want to achieve it. Human beings can do amazing things when they have a strong enough why.


What are the reasons behind your outcome? Do you want to leave a legacy? Use your earnings to have a positive impact on the world?  Set your children up for success? Whatever the reason is, make sure it is consciously understood and articulated.


With a strong why comes a strong emotional attachment to your outcome. And those emotions will be what allow you to celebrate victories and keep you going when you experience setbacks along the way.


3. Take massive intelligent action


After defining the what and why, the how is to take action. Not a little bit of action. Not a lot of random action. And not sporadic action. But massive, intelligent and consistent action.


Massive intelligent action is consistently taking the small steps that, when added together, ultimately lead to the realization of an overall goal and vision.


By defining your overall annual income goal, you’re able to reverse engineer the smaller, day-to-day steps required to achieve it. You’ll know how much money you need to raise, which means you know you’ll need at least that amount in verbal interest from private investors.


You also know how many deals you need to complete to achieve your goal, which means you can calculate the number of leads you need to generate following the 100:30:10:1 lead process – for every 100 leads, 30 will meet your initial investment criteria (i.e. number of units, age, location, etc.), 10 will qualify for an offer and 1 will be closed on. So, you’ll need to generate at least 100 leads for every transaction. If you’re using direct mail, for example, how many marketing pieces must you send in order to receive the number of leads required to close on an apartment community that would result in you achieving your annual income goal?


The goal here is to build habits and routines that become second-nature so that you not only take massive intelligent action automatically, but even begin to crave it!


4. Know what you’re getting


As you begin to take action towards your goal, it is important to analyze and track your progress. If you aren’t tracking your results, you won’t know if you’re on the right path.


A powerful Tony Robbins’ anecdote is about two different boats starting off at the same point. One boat continues on to the destination while the other veers off by just one degree. A few hours later, the two boats are miles apart. Applied to apartment investing, if you are slightly off-track at the start of your journey, the longer you go without recognizing the error, the more off course you’ll be AND the more effort it will require to get you back on track.


So, you should routinely check in and see if your massive action is getting you closer or farther away from your money-raising and lead generation goal.


5. Change your approach


Based on your routine check ins, you may need to make adjustments to get yourself back on course. Or, you may see great results with a certain approach for a while, but it may begin to taper off and plateau, putting you in a rut. When faced with either one of these situations, celebrate the fact that you had the awareness to identified the error and then change your approach.


Inspirational Examples


Don’t just take my word or Tony’s word for the power of this success formula. Here are four inspiration examples of people who set out to achieve a certain outcome, faced adversity and barriers, changed their approach and ultimately reached a level of success far above that which they initially set out to achieve.


  1. Walt Disney


At 22 years old, Walt Disney was fired from a Missouri newspaper for “not being creative enough.” One of his early entrepreneurial ventures, Laugh-O-Gram studios, went bankrupt after only two years (but Walt did later credit his time at Laugh-O-Gram as the inspiration to create Mickey Mouse). Also, he was denied by 302 banks for a loan to start Disneyland because he “lacked originality.” But, by the end of his career, he won a record 22 Academy Awards and was in the process of opening his second theme park, Disney World. Today, the Walt Disney Company holds over $92 billion in assets with a market capitalization of roughly $150 million


  1. Michael Jordan


Michael Jordan was CUT from his high school basketball team, before going on to win an NCAA championship and 6 NBA championships and finals MVPs. He once famously said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”


Michael Jordan is also a branding wizard. Between his shoes, the highest grossing basketball film of all-time Space Jam, and his part ownership of the Charlotte Hornets, MJ became the first billionaire NBA player in history, with a current net worth of $1.39 billion.


  1. Stephen King


Stephen King is an uber-successful author of horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, science fiction and fantasy, selling over 350 million book copies and having many books adapted into featured films, including the number 1 ranked movie on IMDB Shawshank Redemption. But, did you know that when he was 20, his manuscript for Carrie was rejected by 30 publishers, with one saying “We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.” He actually threw the manuscript in the trash, before it was retrieved by his wife, who convinced him to resubmit it. Once published, the paperback sold over 1 million copies in its first year, and the rest is history.


  1. Harland “Colonel” Sanders


In 1955, at the age of 65, Harland Sanders, who was a retiree collecting $105 a month in social security, decided to attempt to franchise his secret Kentucky Fried Chicken recipe. He traveled the country looking for a restaurant interested in his recipe, often sleeping in the back of his car. After 1009 rejections, he finally found a taker. By 1964, there were 600 franchises selling his chicken recipe, and by 1976, he was ranked as the world’s second most recognizable celebrity. By the time of his death, there were 6000 KFCs across 48 countries with $2 billion in annual sales.




There isn’t a cookie-cutter strategy for being a successful apartment syndicator. We are all investing in different markets and asset sizes with different investors, and we all have different unique talents, strengths and weaknesses, and skills. That’s why there are multiple money-raising and lead generation tactics and strategies available on the resources site. You’ll need to find the techniques that are ideal for your particular situation.


So, once you’ve defined your outcome, articulated your why and began taking massive action, analyze your results. Keep doing the things that are working and try out new things for those that aren’t.


What are your 2018 goals and how will the Ultimate Success Formula help you achieve them?


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22 Self-Sabotaging Behaviors That Lead To Entrepreneurial Extinctions

Recently, I’ve come across a handful of entrepreneurs who are making extremely poor business decisions. It’s quite obvious that these self-inflicted wounds are undermining their businesses, stunting their long-term growth potential and may even kill their business altogether.


With 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start a business failing within the first 18 months, the statistics are already not on your side. Creating a business is hard enough as it is, so we shouldn’t be making in unnecessarily harder.


So, if you want to avoid an entrepreneur meltdown and join the ranks for the 20% of entrepreneurs who successfully launch and maintain a business, here are the 22 habits to avoid.


  1. Don’t read (or listen) to books and applying lessons from those books: Not reading books is a self-sabotaging behavior in and of itself. But it may be even worse if you take the time and effort to read but fail to apply any of the lessons to your business. My advice – after reading each book, have at least one actionable takeaway that you immediately implement in your business. Need a place to start? Here’s a list of my top 14 Best Ever apartment investing books.
  2. Isolating yourself: Because teamwork makes the dream work. You literally have a better chance of winning the lottery than you do launching and scaling a business by yourself. If you are going to isolate yourself, you might as well start buying your lottery tickets now.
  3. Closed minded towards new business practices: With more competition and technology than ever before, what worked for your business last year may already be sub-standard 5 time over. So, if you aren’t open to change, your business will go the way of the dinosaurs.
  4. Don’t like to apply new learnings to your business: It’s one thing to be open minded toward new business practices and ideas. It’s another to actually take action and apply them to your business.
  5. Don’t quickly test things out and kill it if it doesn’t work: Don’t have an obsessive relationship with new business practices and ideas. If it improves your business, great. If not or once it stops, have the awareness to identify that fact and discard it like you would a stale piece of gum.
  6. Don’t attend seminars, meetups, conferences, mastermind groups, etc.: Don’t be a basement dweller or spreadsheet millionaire. Get out of the house and meet other entrepreneurs face-to-face.
  7. Don’t model your success after someone who has “been there, done that” before you: Success leaves clues. And you need to be an expert investigative detective.
  8. Don’t invest more in yourself than you do in your craft: Relationships, tools, software, money strategies, basically everything in your business will come and go, but as unfortunate as it may be, you can’t get rid of yourself. So, wouldn’t it be great if the one thing that’s always there was a Golden Tool rather than just a tool?
  9. Don’t think you can learn something from anyone: Interesting fact: There are over 16 million books in the Library of Congress. Still think you’re a know-it-all? It would be delusional to think you know everything, or even 0.1% of everything. Don’t let an inflated sense of your knowledge be your downfall.
  10. Aren’t easily reachable to your team members: Because if you aren’t easily accessible to your team members, you’ll likely be even less accessible to your customers.
  11. Don’t have perspective when life hits you with a sledgehammer: Whether it’s in your business or in your personal life, major disasters, failures and setbacks are guaranteed to present themselves. The life vest that will save you from drowning is keeping your “why” in perspective.
  12. Don’t have a vision for where you are going: Not only will your “why” help you and your business survive the future sledgehammer attacks, but it will also direct your decisions and actions, pulling you closer and closer towards your desired outcomes.
  13. Don’t connect with people in a meaningful way: Surface level relationships are not satisfying. Moreover, deep meaningful connections enable reciprocal, value add relationships where both parties help each other achieve their business goals.
  14. Don’t want to give before you get: Selfishness sacrifices long-term growth for seemingly short-term wins. Whereas selfless contribution results in short-term satisfaction (because let’s be honest: giving feels good) and 10 to 100-fold payback over the long run.
  15. Aren’t a person who stands by your word: Psychologically, people can easily forget when you met a commitment, but they will NEVER forget a lie.
  16. Simply say you will add value: There’s nothing worse than the person who is a servant in words but a greedy pirate in action. If you’re going to talk the talk, you must walk to walk, because actions speak louder than words. Proactive add value, and then you can talk about it later.
  17. Don’t prioritize relationships over everything else: Since you can’t build a business on your own (see #2), forming and maintaining relationships should be the foundation of the majority, if not all, of your business decisions.
  18. Don’t put in the consistent work, day in and day out: You are rewarded in public for the massive, consistent action you take in private.
  19. Trip over dollars to pick up pennies: Prioritize your time so that the majority of your effort is directed towards the money-making activities. Don’t spend all of your time on the $10/hour or $100/hour tasks while neglecting the $1000/hour tasks.
  20. Let challenges overwhelm you: They always come as entrepreneurs. If you act as if a challenge or failure is the end of the world, then that will be your business’s reality.
  21. Aren’t the most resourceful person you know: You should be able to solve any problem yourself or have the ability to find a solution. Anything less and your success is restricted.
  22. Don’t know your competition can replace you: Don’t obsess over your competition to the point of paranoia. Instead, let it be a motivator that keeps you evolving and at least one-step ahead.


What else should be added to the list? What are deadly business mistakes you see entrepreneurs making?


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Three Ways An Owner Benefits From Selling Their Apartment Off-Market

Originally Featured In Forbes Here


The most common type of real estate transaction is an on-market sale. An apartment owner who is interested in selling their property lists it with a broker, the broker markets the deal to the public, in today’s competitive market a bidding war ensues and the contract is generally awarded to the highest bidder. The more uncommon transaction type is an off-market sale, where an apartment owner who is interested in selling their property does so without enlisting the help of a broker.


If you’re an apartment investor who’s looking to expand your portfolio, to find the best deal, focus on off-market opportunities. It is true that an on-market opportunity is much easier to find. However, due to being highly marketed by a broker, the proceeding bidding war will result in an artificially high sale price. Conversely, off-market opportunities can be more difficult to find, but the financial benefits of acquiring an apartment directly from an owner are worth the time investment.


If an owner can get a higher sales price by listing their apartment with an agent, common sense dictates that they’ll be resistant to selling it off-market. However, by bypassing a broker and selling directly to a buyer, there are three main ways the apartment owner will benefit. By understanding these benefits, you, the buyer, can put yourself in the best position to negotiate with pure intentions — since both parties will benefit from the transaction — and the better you’re able to communicate these benefits to the seller, the better chance you have of securing a contract.

1. Higher Profit


The first benefit an apartment owner has by selling their property off-market is that they will actually achieve a higher profit. That’s because of the cost savings associated with not hiring a broker.


Generally, in a real estate transaction, the seller is responsible for paying the broker’s fee. A listing broker charges anywhere between 2% and 6% of the purchase price. Moreover, listing on-market increases the chances of the buyer being represented by a broker who charges the same fee. On a $5 million sale, the seller would lose between $200,000 and $600,000 in pure profit.


But, by purchasing the apartment off-market, the seller will benefit by saving between 4% and 12% of the final sale price.


2. Faster Closing


When an owner is interested selling a property, don’t automatically assume that their primary motivation is to make as much money as possible. If the owner is facing a distressed situation, which could be due to delinquent taxes or mortgage payments, facing many evictions, low occupancy, deferred maintenance or a multitude of other reasons, their main interest may be to unburden themselves of the property as quickly as possible. Even if they aren’t distressed, a faster close means they’ll get their money quicker, which they can then use for other purposes.


If an apartment owner lists a property with a broker, the broker will have to create an offering memorandum (OM). The OM is a detailed report that outlines important information about the apartment community — the financials, sub-market information, a competitive analysis and more — that can take weeks, if not months, to complete. Additionally, the time horizon widens if there is a competitive bidding situation. Then, the contract could be awarded to a buyer who, for some reason or another, backs out.


Instead of waiting for their broker to complete the OM, as well as to avoid the other potential time-consuming occurrences, the owner can sell off-market. They’ll send their rent roll and trailing 12-month expenses to the buyer, who can quickly underwrite the deal and submit an offer, expediting the closing date in the process.

3. Less Hassle


Finally, selling a property off-market has much less of an overall hassle. Again, not every owner is primarily motivated by getting the highest offer price. They may just want the least stressful exit.


By selling off-market, there are no open houses or property tours scheduled with several interested parties. There aren’t multiple question and answer sessions with prospective buyers. Random buyers and their contractors aren’t poking around the property and disturbing the tenants. And, there are no rumors floating around about the apartment community being sold to an unknown party, which could negatively affect resident and/or vendor relationships. Instead, the owner has to deal with one buyer, which eliminates much of the hassle of listing on-market.

From the buyer’s perspective, there are three ways that they will benefit by purchasing an off-market opportunity. First, they will save money by avoiding a bidding war and the broker’s interest in finding the highest paying buyer who will close. Second, they have more opportunities for creative financing since they’re working directly with the owner and can identify their pain points and goals for selling. Finally, the overall closing process is faster with the broker out of the equation.


But ultimately, an owner’s willingness to sell their apartment off-market will come down to how it will benefit them. If you can sufficiently convey these three benefits — more profit, faster closing and less hassle — to the seller, you’ll succeed in creating a win-win scenario for both parties and add a new apartment to your portfolio.


Have you ever persuaded an owner to sell you their property off-market, and if so, how?


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So You Just Closed On Your First Apartment Community…Now What?

You just closed on your first apartment community. Congratulations!


Now what are the next steps?


As the asset manager, in return for your asset management fee (the industry standard is 2% of the collected income), it is your duty to ensure the successful take over and ongoing management of the apartment community. To do so, here are the 11 things you need to do:


1 – Implement the Business Plan


As the asset manager, your main responsibility is to ensure the successful implementation of the business plan. This starts by forming a budget (i.e. the ongoing expenses) and calculating the projected rental premiums based on your rehab plan (through a rent comp analysis) – both of which should be completed via underwriting and due diligence – and running these figures by your property management company for approval, all before actually closing on the deal.


Once the management company has confirmed your budget and rental premium assumptions and after you close on the deal, it is your responsibility to oversee the budget. I recommend gaining access to your property management company’s online reporting systems so that you can review the monthly financial statements. You will be comparing the budgeted expenses and projected rental premiums to the actual figures on an ongoing basis, making adjustments when necessary.


2 – Notify Investors at Closing


The weeks leading up to closing, my company always prepares a “Congrats! We Closed” email that we will send to our passive investors once we’ve officially closed. The purpose of this email is to not only notify the investors that the deal is closed, but to also set ongoing expectations.


In the email, we explain how often they should expect to receive update emails (we prefer once a month, but quarterly or annual updates are also an option) and the financial statements (we prefer sending the trailing 12-month income and expenses and a current rent roll on a quarterly basis). We will also include links to relevant articles that reinforce the project and/or market.


We will also attach an Investor Guide to this email. The purpose of the investor guide is to proactively address common investor questions about the project. The guide will inform the investors about ongoing investor communication in more detail, tax information, distribution frequency and amount and any other piece of information deemed relevant to the investors.


I strongly recommend preparing both the email and the investor guide before you close so you can send it out immediately.


3 – Weekly Performance Review


Before closing the deal, you want to schedule a weekly call with your point person at the property management company to go over and track the property’s key performance indicators. Examples of KPIs to track are, but not limited to:


  • Money related: gross potential income, collected rent, delinquent rent
  • Marketing: number of new leases, notices, renewals, waiting list
  • Maintenance: vacancy, rent ready units, units not rent ready
  • Management: current occupancy, move-ins and move-outs


4 – Investor Distributions


On either a monthly or quarterly basis, whichever you’ve negotiated with your investors, you will need to send out the correct distributions. Before closing on the deal, make sure you know who will be responsible for sending out the distributions and where they need to be sent. Ideally, your property manager handles the distributions with your oversight.


5 – Investor Communication


You will be responsible for ongoing communication with your investors. Each month, we provide our investors with an email that recaps the previous month. The information we include in these emails are:


  • Distribution information
  • Occupancy and pre-lease occupancy rates
  • Renovation updates (i.e. how many units have been renovated?)
  • Rental premium updates (i.e. are we meeting or exceeding our projections?)
  • Capital expenditure updates
  • (i.e. holiday parties, resident events, local business or real estate news)


Additionally, on a quarterly basis, we provide the financials (trailing 12-month income and expenses and a current rent roll). Finally, we provide our investors with their tax documentation, the K1, on an annual basis.


6 – Managing Renovations


If you purchase the asset with a bridge loan, meaning the renovation costs are include in the financing, or another loan type that includes renovation costs, you will have constant communication with the lender during the renovation period. You won’t get a lump sum of money upfront for renovations and capital expenditure projects. Instead, you will receive draws from the bank. So, you will be interacting with the lender about the construction draws as you implement your capital expenditure projects.


If you’re renovations are not included in the financing and you’re covering the costs by raising equity from your investors, you’ll have control of the capital expenditures budget and won’t have to go back and forth with the lender.


7 – Maintaining Economic Occupancy


Assuming you’re a value-add investor like me, once you take over a property, you will begin to implement our value-add business plan. Since you are performing renovations, you should have already accounted for a higher vacancy rate during the first 12 to 24 months. However, it is your responsibility to make sure you’re maintaining occupancy so that you can hit your return projections.


Hopefully, your property management company is implementing the best practices for maintaining occupancy, like advertising and marketing to local business and competitors, adjusting rental rates as occupancy dips and doing weekly market surveys to determine the market rents. But as the asset manager, it is your responsibility to advise the management company on the speed at which renovations are made. You don’t want to handicap your property management company by forcing renovations. So, don’t be too aggressive with the pace at which you do your renovations.


Generally, you will renovate vacant units (ones that are vacant at closing or due to turnover). Other strategies include offering newly renovated units to residents who are living in nonrenovated units so that you can renovate their unit once they move, or increasing nonrenovated rents to promote turnover. However, if you have a large influx of vacant, nonrenovated units, don’t feel forced to renovate all of them. It’s okay if for every five or six units that become vacant, you only renovate half and lease the remaining units back to the market unrenovated, because you’ll get them next time people move out.


Overall, you want to renovate at a pace that will not adversely affect occupancy rates and won’t put an unnecessary burden on the property management company.


8 – Frequently Analyze the Competition


You want to set up a process for doing rent surveys of the competition in the area. The goal of the rent survey is to compare your property’s rental rates to those of surrounding apartments, as well as the overall market rates, to determine if you can further increase your rates while remaining under the leading competitor. Hopefully, this is something your property management company will perform and will provide you with the results and advice on rate increases.


9 – Frequently Analyze the Market


You will also want to pay close attention to the market in which your apartment is located. Where are the prices and cap rates at? What would you get if you sold right now, or refinanced? Even if your business plan is to sell in five years, don’t wait until then to look at the market. You may be able to provide your investors with a sizable return if you sold after two years, or three and a half years. But you’ll never know if you aren’t constantly analyzing the market conditions. I recommend determining how much return you’d achieve if you sold at least a couple times a year.


10 – Plan Trips to the Property


I recommend visiting the apartment community at least once a month. However, don’t announce every one of your trips. If the management company is aware of your visit, they will have time to prepare and you may not get a true representation of how the property is typically managed. Whereas if you visit unannounced, you’ll see how the property is actually operated on a day-to-day basis.


11 – Expect the Unexpected


Finally, as unexpected issues arise (and you can guarantee that they will), you are responsible for making the proper decision to resolve the problem. For example, if you receive a call from the property manager, notifying you that the boiler unexpectedly broke down, you’ll have to decide if you will use money from the operating budget to replace, refurbish or repair it.



QUESTION: What do you think is the most important asset management duty, and why?


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3 NFL Lessons That Entrepreneurs Can Bring to Their Businesses

Originally featured in HuffPost


We’ve all heard this story: small town guy is drafted into the National Football League and has an outstanding career in the spotlight, making a boatload of money. Then, they retire and lose it all. However, we sometimes hear the exceptional tale of an athlete who made it big in the league, retired and then leveraged the skill sets acquired from the NFL to launch a career as a business person, achieving similar or even higher levels of success.


Most people have trouble mastering one area of life, let alone two. So, what is it that differentiates these two types of athletes?


As the host of a real estate podcast where I interview guests and share advice, I’ve wondered what some of the sports superstars turned business titans would attribute to their attainment of the highest levels of success in multiple industries. Here’s what they shared with me.


Start From the Ground Up


Undoubtedly, one of the most famous plays in NFL history was the “Immaculate Reception,” which was caught by NFL Hall of Famer and four-time Super Bowl Champion Franco Harris. After a legendary NFL career, Franco transitioned into the business world. Harris believes that the main reason many NFL athletes fail after retirement is that they try to purchase companies, as opposed to starting at the bottom and building from the ground up. “The advice I provide to NFL players when they’re transitioning out of the league is don’t buy your way to the top. Learn the business. Learn every aspect of the business,” Harris told me.


He attributed this philosophy to his ability to successfully scale superfood. Instead of just buying his company and immediately assuming the duties of a CEO, he started off by learning the day-to-day operations. He spent time working in the warehouse, delivering products and unloading trailers in order to truly understand the job duties that made the business function properly.


Unless you have access to a large amount of capital, you won’t be tempted to buy your way to the top of a company. But Harris’s experience shows us that going through the day-to-day grind of a startup is meaningful and necessary to scaling and maintaining a business. Moreover, once you do assume a higher-level role, you’ll have a more humble and gracious perspective of the lower-level roles in the company, which will ultimately make you a better leader.


Always Stay the Course


Former San Diego Chargers running back Terrell Fletcher has cultivated a skill that enabled him to successfully make the arduous transition out of the league: the ability to overcome adversity and stay the course. After a brief stint as an NFL coach and sports commentator, Fletcher found his new identity and purpose as a motivational speaker, author and Senior Pastor of the City of Hope International Church.


He said, “Barriers, enemies to our success, whether they’re external or internal, are guaranteed to show up on the journey. But don’t give into them. Fight them, because those barriers are not there to stop you. They’re designed to make you stronger.”

Facing and overcoming challenges is a vital part of growing as an entrepreneur. In fact, if you aren’t running into barriers in your business, that means that either your goal isn’t big enough or you aren’t taking the risks that are part and parcel of every business person’s journey towards success. And in the long run, you will look back with gratitude on these barriers because of the skills you obtained and the person you’ve become from gaining victory over them.


Don’t Underestimate the Value of Teamwork


Emmitt Smith is arguably one of the greatest NFL players of all-time. After setting three rushing records (career yards, touchdowns and attempts), winning three super bowls and being inducted into the Hall of Fame, he began to build his off-field legacy as the owner of a real estate investment and development company.


A trait Smith learned in the NFL that he’s applied to his business endeavors is teamwork. He said, “Checking your ego at the door and understanding that you do not become successful by yourself. I did not hand the football to myself. I did not block for myself. I did not call the plays. And the same thing applies to business.”


Each employee on a business team has their own unique abilities and responsibilities, and when in harmony together, it results in a smooth and successful organization. Moreover, one superstar cannot carry you to the promise land.


Additionally, in today’s competitive landscape, having key people who can competently perform multiple functions is extremely advantageous. In football, the best running back can convert on a one-yard fourth down play, but when called upon, he can also catch a quick swing pass or throw a block to avoid a sack. Having a team member who can do high-level strategy and understand the day-to-day operations is a beautiful thing.


Interestingly, something that none of the NFL players stated as the main contributor to their business success was the money they earned while in the league. Instead, they found success by learning the day-to-day ground level operations, never giving up and surrounding themselves with a stellar team, which is something that the novice entrepreneur with little or no capital is capable of acting upon immediately.


If you transitioned from a full-time, 9 to 5 job into real estate entrepreneurship, what skill sets did you obtained from the former that you successfully applied to the latter?


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Top 5 Best Ever Blog Posts of 2017

Here are the top-5 blog posts (determined by page views) of The Best Ever Blog in 2017.


  1. 16 Lessons From Over $175,000,000 in Multifamily Syndications 
  2. 6 Creative Ways to Break Into Multifamily Syndication
  3. How to Raise $1,000,000 For Your First Apartment Syndication
  4. Formula to Buy 5 Rental Properties in 2 Years and Payoff in 7
  5. 7 Principles for Attaining a $500 Million Net Worth


What was your favorite blog post of 2017?

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Top 5 Best Ever YouTube Videos of 2017

Here are the top-5 YouTube videos (determined by views) from the Best Ever YouTube channel in 2017.


1. NFL Legend, Emmitt Smith, Shares His Developmental Real Estate Secrets



2. Tony Hawk Shares His Not-So-Easy Path to Becoming the Premier Skater Brand



3. Learn the Secrets that took CNBC TV Star Sean Conlon From Assistant Janitor to Real Estate Mogul



4. Morning Routines, Tips for Accomplishing Your Goals and Your Questions Answered with Jillian Michaels



5. How 9 MILLIONAIRES Were Made with This Simple Trick with Sam Ovens



What was your favorite YouTube video of 2017?

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Top 10 Best Ever Podcasts of 2017

Here are the top-10 most popular episodes (determined by downloads) of Best Real Estate Investing Ever Show in 2017.


  1. How He Bought Over 100 Units in Nine Months with Todd Dexheimer
  2. How This Kid Used GOOGLE to Fund 11 Properties in a Year and a Half! with David Zheng
  3. What Your Financial Planner Isn’t Telling You About Retirement with Charlie Jewett
  4. Defer Your Taxes with the 1031 Exchange! with Leonard Spoto
  5. From Living in Her Parents House, to Complete Lifestyle Freedom Through REI with Julie Broad
  6. How to Buy, Hold and Sell Seller Financed NOTES with Dawn Rickabaugh
  7. He Moved to the US From Israel and Now Owns Over $120,000,000 in Real Estate Internationally!! with Nizan Mosery
  8. Hack Your Brain For Financial Success with Joan Sotkin
  9. Make Enough Money in Real Estate to Quit Your Job!! with Drew Kniffin
  10. Thoroughly Evaluating Multifamily Buildings and Areas Before Your Buy with Omar Ruiz


What was your favorite episode in 2017?

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The Real Estate Lead Generation Secrets of a Direct Mailing Specialist

One of the most popular real estate lead generation tactics are direct mailing campaigns. But with its popularity comes a high level of competition. So, to separate yours from the tens, hundreds, or even thousands other direct mailing campaigns in your market, it helps to have a basic understanding of the best practices that experienced investors are implementing across the nation


Craig Simpson, who’s the owner of a direct marketing company that is responsible for overseeing 30 million pieces of direct mail sent out over 300 different promotions each year, is a direct mailing expert. In our recent conversation, we discussed the three important factors involved in a direct mailing campaign and the best practices for maximizing your response and conversion rate.

Selecting a Mailing Service


Since Craig built his direct mailing service from scratch, he has a behind-the-scene’s perspective on the characteristics of the good, bad and ugly direct mailing services. His advice on selecting a mailing service in your local market is “I would shy away from anybody who uses words like ‘guarantee’ or ‘ensure that you’re going to get the best kind of response rate’.”


There isn’t a one-size fits all method to direct mail. It depends on various factors like the target customer, the product, the market, etc. So, if a mailing services is “promising” or “guaranteeing” a certain outcome…RUN! They cannot know whether or not their service is a right fit for you until they understand what it is you’re trying to accomplish.


Instead, Craig said, “the things you’re looking for is people who talk about testing, because all direct marketing boils down to a lot of testing.” We will dive into the best practices for testing different mailer strategies and types in the sections below. If you decide to forgo the DIY direct mailing campaign, make sure the direct mailing service you use doesn’t offer guarantees, but focuses on testing instead.


Once you’ve selected the ideal direct mailing service, or made the decision to conduct your own campaigns, the next step is to understand the three main factors to a successfully direct mail, which are the list, the copy and the offer.


The List


The list contains who it is you are mailing to, and is the most important piece of any direct mail campaign. Craig said, “you want to make sure you have a targeted list of prospects that will look like the type of customers you want to go after.”


If you’re interested in distress property leads, make sure you have a list of distressed owners. If you’re going after property’s whose owners live elsewhere, make sure you have a list of absentee owners. It may seem obvious, but if you obtain a list from a bad source, you’ll be surprised at how much money you can waste by mailing to unqualified leads. So, make sure you’re getting your lists from reputable sources, like CoStar or the local auditors site.


The next natural question is, how often do you mail to your list? Like most things in real estate investing, the answer is that it depends. The frequency in which you send out your mailing campaigns will depend on the quality of your list and your response rate. The standard response rate for direct mailing campaigns is three quarters of a percent. For every 1000 pieces of direct mail, expect 7 to 8 owners to reach out for more information.


Let’s say you find a list from a reputable source of 10,00 distressed property owners. Craig said that if you receive the 0.75% response rate and a majority of those responses are very interested owners, you have a great list. With great lists, he recommends sending out mailers once a month. If your first mailer, or second campaign with a good list, results in a response rate of below 0.75% and/or a minority of the owners who do respond are interested in selling, you have a decent list at best. For these types of situations, Craig recommends that you send out direct mailing campaigns once ever 60 to 90 days. Then, if you continue to see poor results, scrap that list or send out mailers on a less frequent basis, find a new one and repeat the process.


The Copy


The copy is what is it you say in your mailer. The key point here is to create a copy that speaks directly to owner’s needs. Craig said, “When you’re talking to a prospect, you always want to talk about the pain points, the things that they may be struggling with … and then you can address the solution.”


If you’re mailing to absentee owners, for example, they will have renters. When formulating your direct mail copy, the theme should be about renters. They’re probably worrying about people destroying the house, failing to pay rent, turnover costs, cost of property management and other renter related headache. So, you can address their pain point by stating that you can take these problems off their hands and put extra cash in their pockets at the same time.


Once you’ve converted a few leads into transactions, another unique approach is to include testimonials in your copy. “Offer testimonials,” Craig said, “having past clients that you’ve worked with rave about you and sharing that with others. People are always convinced and encouraged when somebody else has had a good experience.”


To determine what does and doesn’t work, test different mailing campaigns. Use different letter types (yellow letter, handwritten, postcards, etc.), copies (i.e. the message), colors, etc. and track the results, ultimately getting closer and closer to the ideal mailer for your specific market and niche.


Overall, you want your copy to directly connect with the particular owner’s potential pain points, as opposed to a vague “We Buy Houses” message, and conduct tests on an ongoing basis to see what does and doesn’t work.


The Offer


The offer, which will be included in your copy, is what it is you want them to do. Do you want them the call, text or email you? Do you want them to visit your website or a landing page? Do you want them to request a free report or consultation? Whatever action you want an interested owner to take, make sure it is clearly stated in your copy. And you can also test out different offers to see which ones result in the highest response and conversation rates.


For those of you who have closed on a deal as a direct result of a direct mailing campaign, what the list, copy and offer did you use?


Check out the Lead Generation topic section on my blog for more than 25 articles on the Best Ever lead generations tactics and strategies.


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How a $10 Million Agent Generates FREE Leads With Facebook

Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on online marketing is a great way to obtain quality real estate leads. However, some real estate professionals – and I would say especially those who are just starting out and are strapped for cash – implement creative strategies to reduce or even eliminate their marketing budget, either out of necessity or to just increase their overall bottom line. But regardless of your experience level or spending capabilities, all real estate professionals and investors should be actively searching for ways to decrease their cost per lead.


Trish Williams, an agent and broker out of Las Vegas, started her real estate career in 2014. She devised a FREE marketing tactic which accounts for 90% of her $10 million in real estate transactions. Trish’s primary source of new customers are through referrals from Facebook. Essentially, she offers intriguing content on her personal Facebook page on a consistent basis, building up her credibility, so that whenever someone is ready to buy or sell their home, or personally knows someone who is, she’s the first person they reach out to. In our recent conversation, she explained her process for obtaining referrals through her personal Facebook page. You can apply these techniques to your business, regardless of the real estate niche you pursue.


How to grow your Facebook friend’s list?


One of the main focuses of Trish’s referral process is to build and grow your personal Facebook friend’s list. The more friends you have, the more potential direct and indirect referrals you’ll receive (as long as you’re posting the right kind of content, which will be discussed in the next section).


Besides organic growth, she has two active methods for adding new friends. First is through networking…EVERYWHERE. She said, “Every time when I meet somebody, if I meet you at the grocery store [for example] and we have a conversation, I ask you your name and I’m going to add you as a friend to my Facebook.”


Two is through her business page. She said, “I haven’t really figured out how to convert those people or grab them, so I add them as friends. I just add them to my personal page, because I have such a better conversation rate of converting people through that.”


Both of these tactics can be applied to any real estate niche. When you’re out and about, talking to people with passion about your real estate business, ask them for their name and add them to your friend’s list. Also, you should already have a business page or group on Facebook, so every time you receive a new like or a new member joins your group, add them as a friend.


What should you post?


The key to Trish’s referral process is the type of content you post. Since the goal is to establish credibility and trust with your followers, she said, “I’m not marketing. I don’t ever want to sound like a commercial. I’m just talking about what I do.” So, your content should be natural, genuine, authentic and add value, as opposed to gimmicky marketing or obvious advertising.


The specific content you post will vary depending on your niche. Since Trish is a real estate agent, her posts simply show what she is doing on a day-to-day basis. One approach she uses is to post pictures. “If I have an experience, if I’m out at a house and it has an amazing kitchen, I’m going to post it. If I see something that has great investment potential, I’m going to post it,” she said. “If I get an award, I’m posting a picture of me with the award, or if something happens – every success I’m posting about.”


Another approach that has a great response rate are videos. Trish posts videos all the time. She said, “If I’ve been out door-knocking, I post a video. I show people the yard of the neighborhood or the view of the street. If I’m at a new construction home, grand opening for a model home, I post a video of it.”


The video approach is a great way to build relationships without actually having to meet people in person. “People get used to seeing me,” Trish said. “They know me because I’m always posting videos, and they’re not professional videos. Sometimes my hair is crazy or whatever, but I’m still a person and people really like that.”


Since it is her personal Facebook page, not everything she posts is business related. She will post things about her personal life too. However, she did recommend that you avoid posting about divisive topics. She said, “I stay out of politics. I stay out of any kind of things that are controversial. I never ever post about anything that has to do with those. I don’t want to alienate people whatsoever, so I always keep a neutral stance, stay positive, and try to be that person that people really want to work with.”


When should you post?


Trish posts the type of content outline about at least every other day.


On top of that, she is on Facebook every day, commenting and liking other people’s content. However, that doesn’t mean she’s mindlessly scrolling through her news feed, liking and commenting on every single post. Remember, the goal is authenticity and genuineness. If you like every post, eventually people are going to catch on to what you are doing. Instead, Trish said, “I take interest in what other people are doing. I see what’s going on in their life and that helps me too to know who may need assistance. I do just make it a habit every day to scroll through, take a few minutes, see what people are doing. Whatever is at the top of my newsfeed.”

Finally, she always reaches out on birthdays. “Just Happy Birthday! If there’s something I know special about them, or what’s going on in their world, I mention it.”




Trish attracts the majority of her real estate business through Facebook referrals. She accomplishes this by networking to build her friend’s list, then posts genuine, natural content at least every other day, as well as likes and comments on other people’s posts and wishing people happy birthday.


Besides being simple and low cost, an advantage of this approach, as Trish mentioned, is that you’re establishing rapport with people before meeting them in person. It’s a completely different conversation when someone already knows you prior to sitting down or jumping on a call with them, compared to being complete strangers and then have to build up from nothing.


What FREE marketing tactic have you used with success in your real estate business?


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Find Higher Quality Apartment Leads with This Proactive Marketing Approach

Dylan Borland – listen to my full interview with him here – is a fix-and-flipper turned apartment investor. He currently controls $10 million in real estate and is aiming to control $100 million of the next five years. His best ever advice and what he believes to be the key to his success is his unique prospecting approach.


The typical marketing approach for finding off-market deals is building a list of owners, sending out a direct mailing campaign and sitting back to wait for the phone to ring. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this tactic, Dylan prefers to take a much more proactive approach to finding deals. Instead of sending out mailers, he calls the owners directly.


Dylan obtains his list from CoStar. It includes the owner’s name, address and phone number. However, it doesn’t really matter where you get the list from, as long as it includes the owner phone number. Click here to download your free copy of 24 Proven Ways to Get Off-Market Deals, or check out all of my blog posts about lead generation to start building a list of motivated sellers.


On rare occasions, the CoStar list doesn’t include the owner’s phone number. If that is the case, Dylan finds the phone number by doing a reverse address lookup using either White Pages Premium or Vulcan 7.


When Dylan makes the phone call, he opens by saying, “Hey (owner name). I just want to introduce myself. My name is Dylan over at the Borland Group. We’re looking at buying properties in your particular area, and that’s how we found out about yours. We wanted to see if you have any interest in selling?”


Similar to direct mailing or any other prospecting technique, the majority of people won’t be interested in selling. But, you are looking for the one that does. All the person has to say is “Yeah, I have a slight interest” or “What would you offer me?”


If there is any inclination that they are interested in selling, the next step is to collect the relevant information – profit and loss statements and rent roll –  to underwrite the deal and determine an offer price.


Dylan’s prospecting approach is easy and straightforward – just pick up the phone and ask if they’re interest in selling. However, he did admit that it can be frustrating. Generally, 99 out of 100 owners won’t be interested in selling. But, since we are dealing with larger properties, you don’t need to have a high conversation rate. You just need to hit 1 out of 100, or even 1 out of 200, especially since you can easily make 100-200 phone calls in a week.


An additional advantage of this strategy is that since you are taking an active approach, you control how many conversations you have, rather than hoping an owner calls you. And then it is also less costly, because you don’t have to pay for letters, envelopes and stamps. Besides the cost of his CoStar subscription (which he pays $350/month through his brokerage), Dylan’s overall marketing budget is $1000 per month. If you find that one deal out of 100, 200 or more, you’ll more than recoup your costs.


To add to Dylan’s approach, if a specific owner isn’t interested in selling, don’t give up just yet. Follow-up by sending the owner a letter. Reference the phone conversation, provide your contact information, and tell them that you will reach out again in X months (2, 4, 6, whichever you decide is best) to see if they are interested in selling.


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A Digital Nomad’s Scientific Approach to Promoting Your Personal Brand

In a well-known study conducted by Psychologist Dr. Albert Mehrabian, our ability to communicate effectively can be broken into three categories: spoken words, voice and tone, and body language. According to the study, when attempting to convey a message, only 7% of your success is based on the actual spoken words, while the remaining 93% is based on our tone and body language.


Amber Renae, a civil engineer turned branding expert, applies the conclusions of Dr. Mehrabian’s study to brand building. In our recent conversation, she outlined her three-pronged approach to effectively and efficiently promoting your personal brand to grow your real estate investing business.


Why Build a Brand?


Ultimately, the idea behind building a powerful brand is that it will allow your ideal customer to find you. How they’ll find you will vary, but generally, it’ll be through your website or social media platform. Once they do, Amber says, “they’ll immediately click over to the other one to see if there’s consistency. If they find that your social channels look like your website, then they start to see consistency. Then, they look for evidence of you showing up in person or in real life – on things like videos, live events, podcasts, speaking engagements, things like that. If all three of those are cohesive and consistent, then they start to depend on you, and once your audience depends on your, they have confidence in you. Once they have confidence, then they start to trust you, and you know what comes after trust…sales.”


Therefore, the key to increasing your bottom line is to create a cohesive and consistent online and offline person brand.


In order to tip that first domino in the buying funnel (i.e. attracting your ideal customer), Amber teaches a three-pronged approach that focuses on the communication factors that impact 93% of a messages or brands success, which she’s broken down into presentation, performance and publicity.


1 – Presentation


The first factor of a powerful brand is your presentation. More specifically, it is about forming a unique signature style.


Amber said, “some inspired actions that you can start taking today is to just start thinking of yourself through the lens of a personal brand – what makes you unique? What makes you stand out from the competition? What are you doing differently from the rest of the marketplace?”


Ask yourself these questions, write out the answers and use them to develop your brand objectives. Then, based on your personal brand objectives, start to think about how you can incorporate them into a signature style that is unique to you.


Amber says to take your signature style and apply it “across your body language, your vocal performance, how you engage in conversations and how you treat other people.” You want to be that person who has great body language and who holds themselves with really high confidence and self-esteem, which is accomplished when you have defined a signature style and apply it to your online and offline presentation.


2 – Performance


The next factor is your performance. A performance is anything you are actually presenting to your ideal audience – podcasting, videos, public speaking, Facebook live, Periscopes, etc.


Amber said, “No longer can you just write a blog post or do a social media share and expect that your ideal client is going to find you and connect with you. As a society, we crave connection, and it’s our responsibility as entrepreneurs to create a brand that connects half-way with people. The way that you do that is by creating things like a podcast, videos, doing live streams, etc. Anything that builds authority and thought leadership, because this is the way that you ignite a movement. This is the way that you get trust with your audience.”


When “performing,” this doesn’t mean you’re being fake or unauthentic. But since the goal of our brand is to ultimately build trust and gain confidence from our audience, this cannot be accomplished without an online and offline presence. We must use our signature style to get our faces in front of our customers.


3 – Publicity


Finally, once we’ve identified our unique style and our presentation approach, the last step is to publicize our brand. Building your own platform will be time-consuming, expensive and laborious. But a good short-cut is to leverage other people’s audience, which will get your message spread a lot faster and to a much wider audience.


“It’s really just a matter of finding people that are creating great content and reaching out to them and going, ‘Hey, I’m going something interesting. Do you want to connect?’,” Amber said. For an exact process for how to get on other people’s podcasts, for example, read this blog post – The Ultimate Guide to Getting Booked as a Guest on ANY Podcast – which is based on an interview I had with Jessica Rhodes, the founder of a premier guest booking agency.


Now that you know the three main factors to focus on, it’s time to build out your thought leadership platform. Here is a link to the “Branding and Thought Leadership” section, which includes multiple posts on creating and growing a thought leadership platform.


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How to Find Private Money Regardless of Where You Live

Last week we closed on our 12th property and our company portfolio is now valued at more than $250,000,000 (click here to see the lesson I learned on my last deal). Since this quarter billion dollar mark is sort of a milestone I thought it would be interesting to look at where my potential and current investors live to see if there is anything interesting we could learn from it.


Yes. Yes, there is.


Before we look at the stats, let’s define a couple things.


I define Potential Investors as investors with whom I have a relationship, are accredited and have expressed interest in investing with me but have not invested yet. Current Investors are accredited investors with whom I have a relationship that are currently investing in my apartment deals.


Now let’s dig into the stats of my investor database.


Top 5 Cities with the most Current and Potential Investors:

  1. New York City: 18%
  2. Dallas-Fort Worth: 10%
  3. Los Angeles: 9%
  4. Houston: 5%
  5. San Francisco: 4%


So, out of all my Current and Potential Investors across the United States, 18% live in NYC, 10% live in DFW, etc. This makes sense for a handful of reasons.


First, they are large cities (ex. Population of NYC is 8M+).

Second, I lived in NYC and DFW so have family and friends there.

Third, our properties are in Texas so DFW and Houston investors have a level of familiarity with the market they are investing in. They see the same thing we see in terms of population growth, job growth, economic outlook, etc.


Now let’s look at the Top 5 cities with the most Current Investors (removed Potential Investors).


Top 5 Cities with the most Current Investors:

  1. New York City: 18%
  2. Dallas-Fort Worth: 11%
  3. Los Angeles: 6%
  4. San Francisco: 5%
  5. Tied- Houston, Miami, Austin and Seattle: 4%


Ok, still making sense and for the reasons stated above. Large cities, places I lived, have family and friends residing, and, in three cases, are in the same state as our multifamily deals (Austin, Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth).


But here’s where the wrinkle occurs.


Let’s look at all the equity my investors have invested in my apartment syndications and what % of the total invested dollars is attributed to each city where investors live.


Top 5 Cities with % of Investment Dollars in Deals

  1. New York City: 18%
  2. Cincinnati: 13%
  3. Dallas-Fort Worth: 11%
  4. Miami: 7%
  5. San Francisco: 6%


…what in the Cincinnati just happened?!?!


Cincinnati isn’t a top 5 city of mine in terms of total # of Current Investors and/or Potential Investors.  In fact, to dig deeper Cincinnati only has 2.5% of my Current and Potential Investors living there. And only 3.5% of my Current Investors living there.


I am not from Cincinnati and, in fact, have only lived here for approximately 3 years. So, why does it represent 13% of all the equity invested in my apartment deals? The short answer is because I am actively involved in the local community. But that short answer doesn’t do the real lesson learned justice so let me elaborate more.


Here’s how I did it:


  • Host a local meetup. The first month I officially moved to Cincinnati (because my wife is from here and she’s the love of my life so I followed her to the city and now we’re here for the long-term) I started a meet-up. If you have time to ATTEND a meet-up then you have time to HOST a meetup. It doesn’t take that much more effort to HOST than it does to simply ATTEND and the rewards for HOSTING are exponentially greater. I did this to make friends in Cincy. I didn’t do it necessarily to generate investor relationships but that’s exactly what it did.
  • Host Board Game and Drinks nights at your house. This Friday my wife and I are having friends of ours, some of which are investors, come over to our house for a night of board games, drinks and dinner. Hosting events at your house as couples, along with couples, is fun and goes a long way to continue to build your friendship with those locally.
  • Consistent online presence that has an interview component to it. Or, in short, my podcast. I interview someone Every. Single. Day. on real estate investing and have released an episode for the last 1,197 days. There are multiple benefits for doing this and I won’t get into all of them but I will focus on one of the benefits and that is that every time I interview someone they then want to share it out to their audience which helps expand my reach. And, if I interview people in my local market that introduces new, local connections to me which can then turn into business relationships since I get to have dinner, drinks, etc. with them. Here’s a post I wrote on the step-by-step process to create a real estate thought leadership platform.
  • Volunteer then become a board member for that non-profit. I had no intention to meet investors when I started volunteering for Junior Achievement. But I have since realized that by volunteering for a cause I feel strongly about (Junior Achievement helps kids in underserved communities learn financial and entrepreneurial skills) I was able to connect with like-minded people and then become friends with them. I got on the board for JA in Cincinnati and have built friendships with people on the board which then turned into business relationship where they invest in my deals. You could take the same approach but make sure you genuinely believe in the cause and are doing it for the right reasons (i.e. helping further the cause’s mission) vs trying to grow your biz, otherwise it will fall flat and won’t be fulfilling for you.


By doing these simple things, you can build an investor network in your city that is perhaps stronger than any other network. When people personally know you they are more likely to trust you, recommend you to others, and invest larger. The beauty in this is that it’s helpful for you regardless of where you live.


Cincinnati is approximately the same size as St. Paul, Minnesota, Toledo, Ohio, Stockton, California and…Anchorage, Alaska. So, if you live in a city that is larger then there’s really no excuse to not having all the capital you need for your deals. If you live in a city that’s smaller than Cincinnati (300k population) then you can still apply these principles although it might require you to host your meetup in the next largest city next to where you live, that way you get better return on your time.  Regardless, apply these principals and you will quickly build a local investor network than can help you fund your deals.


In the comment section below, tell me how you will implement these proven money-raising tactics in your real estate business.


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5 Most Popular Best Ever Podcast Episodes for November 2017

Here are the five most popular Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever podcast episodes for the month of November 2017



5 – JF1168: Have Your Tenants Pay Taxes, Insurance, and Maintenance! With Dave Sobelman

Triple net leases allow investors to be very close to passive. The three nets; taxes, maintenance, and insurance, are all paid by the tenants. You can imagine the headaches that could save the building owner! While this strategy does offer less risk, it also comes with a little less return on your money.


What you’ll learn:

  • The definition of a triple net lease
  • Debunking the stigmas of triple net leases
  • How to increase the value of a triple net lease property
  • How to evaluate a real estate market
  • Best Ever advice for investors who want to pursue triple net leases


4 – JF1156: How To Build Wealth Through Single Family Investments With Paul Thompson

When Paul realized that the perfect time to start investing was never going to come, he jumped in! Now doing about three deals per month, Paul is able to help himself, as well as helping others build wealth with passive cash flow.


What you’ll learn:

  • How he purchased 9 rental properties in 2 months, and the specifics on a few of those deals
  • How to manage low-income properties
  • Seller-financing case study
  • What to watch out for with seller-financed deals
  • Best Ever advice for those who are looking to do their first deal


3 – JF1175: He Buys For Appreciation vs. Cash Flow With Tim Shiner

Tim specializes in high end SFR rentals, and contrary to popular belief, he prefers to buy his properties for the appreciation. He’ll even lose $200 to $300 per month if he believes the property will appreciate and be worth more in the long run. He has another different strategy for when his tenants lease comes to an end.


What you’ll learn:

  • The BAD investment strategy
  • How to evaluate a market’s school district
  • Why he buys for appreciation and not cash flow
  • Why and how to get your tenant to buy your property
  • Best Ever advice on the type of property you should buy


2 – JF1170: Multifamily Syndication 201: Finding Off Market Properties & Structuring The Deal With Dylan Borland

Dylan has a unique way to structure a syndication, and how to find off market apartment communities. His team has a great system in place, (wholesaled an apartment community for $400k profit) but it didn’t come easy. They prospect properties every day, and you’ll be surprised by how they do it.


What you’ll learn:

  • How he structured the acquisition of $10 million worth of investment properties
  • Apartment syndication case studies
  • Is it a bad time to invest in multifamily?
  • How to protect your investments against rising interest rates
  • How to communicate with private money investors after closing on a deal
  • Proactive approach to finding off market deals


1 – JF1162: Get Out Of Debt Through Real Estate! With Joe Turney

4 years ago, Joe had a negative net worth (had more debt than income and assets). Joe self-educated himself by reading real estate books and taking online courses. He took another full-time job for one year to gain some capital, after a year of working 16 hours a day, he had enough saved up to purchase his first rental property. Now, 3 years later, Joe has accumulated $2 million class A single family homes.


What you’ll learn:

  • His strategy for getting out of the “red”
  • Case study of his first rental investment
  • Definition of a class A single-family home
  • His rinse and repeat strategy for accumulating 20 rental units worth $2 million
  • How he handles renovations and ongoing maintenance of his rentals and fix-and-flip projects
  • The secret to quickly scaling your real estate business
  • How to find single family deals and buy at 70% of the retail value
  • His daily routine
  • Best Ever advice about designing your lifestyle


Which Best Ever podcast episode this month added the most value to your real estate business?


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The 3 Pillars for Building Relationships with High Net-Worth Investors

As any type of entrepreneur or real estate investor knows, relationships are one of the keys to scaling a business. With that being the case, how much time are you spending on sharpening your relationship building skills?


Jason Treu is an executive coach who specializes in teaching his clients how to strengthen their relationship building skills. Through his coaching, his clients have built relationships with industry titans such as Tim Cook, Bill Gates and Richard Branson. In our recent conversation, Jason provide his expert opinion on where to find high net-worth individuals and outlined his three pillars for building relationships with them.


Where to go?


Building relationships, like building a business, is all about strategy. You need to have a plan, which starts with knowing where to go to maximize your chances of meeting the high net-worth individuals or entrepreneurs who can help you along your real estate journey. Jason said, “I’ve found through a lot of research [that] some of the best people to meet are in charities and non-profit groups.”


Not only are these places where the attendees will have money, but they will also likely be altruistic. If it is a nonprofit or a charity, the whole premise is built around giving. “When you’re around people that have the mindset of giving and you build a relationship,” Jason said, “they’re much more open to helping you.”


Jason recommends Googling terms like “young professional,” “charity,” and “non-profit,” building a list of organizations and places in your local market and attending the ones that fit your interests the most. Go one or two times and determine if you like the people, the cause and spending time there. If the answer is yes, get more involved. If the answer is no, find somewhere else.


I can back up Jason’s advice with my personal experience. I’ve found that volunteering at local non-profits and charities is an effective, long-term approach to building relationships with high net-worth individuals. And I’ve raised millions of dollars through these relationships. You can read more about my specific strategy here.


Now that you know where to go, what are you supposed to do when you get there? How do you approach the conversations? Instead of winging it, follow Jason’s three pillars for successfully building relationships: 1) rapport, 2) likeability and 3) trust.


1 – Rapport


First, you need to build rapport. To build rapport, you need to focus on your non-verbal and verbal communication skills.


Strengthening your non-verbal skills – like body language – is time intensive, but well worth the effort. Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, specializes in non-verbal communication. Here is her TedTalk, where she introduces her ideas. For a more in-depth explanation, Jason recommends reading her book “Presence.”


Effective verbal communication is all about asking the right questions. Whenever you’re meeting someone for the first time, instead of the standard “how are you doing,” Jason advises that you ask questions like “What’s the most exciting thing that’s going on in your life right now? What are you passionate about outside of work? What projects are you working on that you’re passionate about?”


Asking these types of questions will “connect them to their emotional side,” he said, “and we’re all emotionally-driven people.” Have them talk about the thing that they’re most interested in. Then, draw something from your experience or interests to find common ground. Jason said, “that person will instantly like you significantly more because you found some common ground and you’re discussing something that they want to discuss, not what you want to discuss.” At that point, the conversation will flourish naturally.


2 – Likeability


The second pillar is likeability. The easiest way to get the other person to like you isn’t rocket science. You just have to listen. “If you just look at someone and practice being present, and don’t worry about who else is walking behind them, around them, you’d be amazed at how the tenor of your conversations and interactions will change, because they can tell when you’re distracted in the back of their mind.”


This pillar is simple – when having conversations, act as if the person sitting or standing in front of you is the most important person in the world. Listen intently and then, following the advice in pillars 1 and 3, build rapport and trust from there.


3 – Trust


Finally, the third pillar for building relationships is trust. The key to building trust is by showing them that you care. The most effective way to show that you care is by adding value.


Jason said, “You add value in the conversation in ways by suggesting things like maybe there’s a book, maybe there’s a person you can introduce them to, maybe you can say ‘I may have some ideas, let me follow up’ and then follow up with some ideas. You can also introduce them to people at the event.”


One of Jason’s favorite ways to add value to others, which is specific to events or conferences, is quite unique – he introduces strangers to other strangers. He will start a conversation with a stranger and, after asking the questions outlined in the section on rapport, would then get the attention of another stranger nearby and say “Hey! You two should meet each other. I think you’d get along.” In doing so, next time he runs into either one of the strangers, they will introduce him to any one they know, or even other strangers. With this tactic, two relationships can turn into 10 or 20.


Another one of Jason’s favorite ways to add value is to invite a group of strangers out for a meal – again, this is specific to an event of conference, but it could also work at a charity or nonprofit event or meeting too. “[My] other option is inviting people to go and get together for brunch, for dinner, for lunch, and just inviting a bunch of people along, because everybody wants to meet new people.”


Even if nothing comes out of the actual meal (which is unlikely), by being the influential hub that brought all these people together, they will be more open to hearing your ideas and will likely return the favor by inviting you to other events. One of Jason’s friends used this tactic and met the nephew of Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys. Now, he gets invited to a few Cowboy games each year and sits in the owner’s box!


What is your most effective tactic for building relationships? Where do you go and how to you approach conversations?


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The Secret To Finding Real Estate Deals In A Hot Market

Originally Published on Forbes.com


If you’re having difficulties with finding on-market deals at the price points that meet your investment goals, you aren’t alone. In today’s competitive market, relying on available listings as your sole source of new deals is not viable or effective, as an investment strategy.


As of September 2017, the median list price of homes is up 10% year-over-year, while the number of days on market and inventory are down 10% and 9%, respectively, according to research by Realtor.com. In hot markets, these numbers soar far higher. Fewer deals are available, and they are selling faster and at higher prices than just a short year ago. It’s a trend that shows no signs of waning soon. In fact, CNBC recently reported that 2017 will likely turn out to be the fastest housing market on record.


The inability to find on-market deals is a frequent concern of my clients and the listeners of my podcast, Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever. It was also the number one challenge identified at the annual real estate conference I host, the Best Ever Conference, where I survey each attendee to find out the most difficult investment challenge they’re facing and aim to solve specific investment challenges.


Finding deals in a hot market is a challenge I have faced and overcome, and now I’m able to help others do the same. Here’s my secret:


For every on-market deal an investor comes across, they should reach out to the owner of the surrounding properties and attempt to purchase two properties: the on-market property and an off-market property. More specifically, they should pursue off-market properties that naturally complement the on-market deal.


I was sent an on-market opportunity in a Dallas sub-market: an apartment building with more than 300 primarily one-bedroom units. The property’s characteristics fit perfectly into our business plan. However, due to its high publicity and it being marketed by a broker, the building price inched higher and higher. We were not confident in our ability to manage the project in a way that would achieve our investor’s goals.


We found that there was another complex directly across the street from this on-market deal: a 200-plus unit building of primarily two-and-three bedroom apartments. Our broker contacted the owner of this off-market building, and after a brief negotiation, we secured a contract to purchase the property at a significantly discounted sale price. We were concurrently in negotiations to purchase the on-market deal and felt secure in offering a higher bid than we otherwise would have if it weren’t for the complementary off-market property across the street. As a result, we were awarded the on-market deal.


Aside from finding a deal in a hot market, here are three more advantages of this strategy: 


  • Economies of scale: One major advantage to this approach is the cost savings that result from economies of scale. For example, a major apartment building’s expense is the cost of a lead maintenance supervisor. Therefore, rather than paying an on-site maintenance function to manage one property for $50,000 a year, we can split that cost across both properties. Additionally, these economies of scale can apply to many other fixed and variable expenses, including advertising and marketing, salaries and commissions for leasing office personnel, property management teams, etc.
  • Referral source: Another advantage — and the reason why I advise you to pursue complementary properties — is having a natural referral source. This applied to my particular case because the on-market property is primarily comprised of one-bedroom units and the off-market property of two-and-three bedroom units. If a potential resident is interested in a one-bedroom unit, we are covered. If they decide instead that they want more bedrooms, rather than turning them away, we send them to our property across the street.
  • Flexible underwriting: Finally, the most obvious advantage I see is the ability to be flexible with the underwriting to create a competitive offer. Essentially, you are able to tap into the discount you are receiving on the off-market property — in combination with the previous two advantages — to offset the premium paid for the on-market opportunity.


So, the advice I offer to those who are having difficulties with finding deals that are compatible with their financial goals is to create your own opportunities. Don’t just look at the on-market listings. Instead, search for properties in immediate areas surrounding the on-market deal, reach out to the owners and work toward packaging two deals into one.


Ultimately, because of our willingness to create our own opportunities in this competitive market, we were able to add two cash flowing assets to our portfolio. By following this approach on the next on-market deal you come across, you can too.


What is your secret to finding deals in today’s competitive real estate market?


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If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment below.



8 Ways to Promote and Grow Your Thought Leadership Platform

After you’ve created your thought leadership platform (read here to learn how), one of the next steps is attract your target demographic. Through over a thousand of conversations with business and real estate thought leaders, as well as from building a large following of my own, I’ve discovered the most effective ways to attract people to a thought leadership platform.


Here are the top 8 ways to promote your thought leadership platform and grow your audience.


1. Build an opt-in page


First, build an opt-in page or button for your website. The main purpose of an opt-in is to capture email addresses and build an email list.


The key to a powerful opt-in page is the offering. You need to give people a reason to provide you with their email address. A poor opt-in page, for example, would read “Please enter your email address to be sent an update when new content is posted.” Instead, you want to create a piece of valuable content and exchange that for their contact information. For example, on the main page of my website, I have an opt-in banner presented front and center that reads “Free Download of 24 Proven Ways to Get Off-Market Deals” and a button that reads “Get Access!” I’ve also place the banner at the top of certain pages on my website, like the podcast and blog page. Once someone enters their email address, they are automatically sent a document with 24 ways to find off-market deals.


Additionally, I’ve created a pop-up opt-in that appears a few seconds after a visitor views a page other than my main page. Currently, the opt-in reads “How do I break into the multifamily syndication business? is the most common question I receive. These 6 amazing powerful ways are proven to get your foot in the door! Are you ready? Don’t miss this!” Again, once someone enters their email address, they are automatically sent a document with 6 ways to break into the syndication industry.


As you can see, both of my offerings are related to apartment syndication. That’s because my secondary target audience are individuals interested in becoming apartment syndicators. Therefore, you should create an offering that is specific to your target audience, rather than something general to real estate investing. That way, you’ll know that every email address captured is a qualified lead.


If you are an apartment syndicator, your primary target audience are accredited investors. So, you also want to create a lead capture page where accredited investors interested in passively investing in your deals have a way to provide you with their information. For an example, here is the opt-in page I have for my website: www.investwithjoe.com. It can be accessed either on my main page or by Googling Invest With Joe. Considering purchasing a domain name like www.investwith(your name).com. If you aren’t an apartment syndicator, create a separate lead capture form based on your target customer or primary outcome (e.g. a form for home owners who are interested in selling their primary residence).


2. Create a BiggerPockets Pro Account


A BiggerPockets Pro account is another great tool for promoting your thought leadership platform.


First, create a forum signature, which allows you to input your contact information, company name, logo and website/thought leadership platform link. Then, set up forum keyword alerts so that you will be notified whenever someone submits a post that is related to your niche. As an apartment syndicator, the important keywords I have are “market name,” apartment,” “multifamily,” “syndication,” and “accredited.”


Whenever you are notified of a new post that contains your keyword, you can submit a reply and anyone who reads that thread will see your response, as well as the link to your website or thought leadership platform. Also, you can start a forum thread of your own, making sure you include the relevant keywords so other apartment investors or syndicators who have keyword alerts setup will be notified and will read your post. Both of these strategies will drive traffic to your website or thought leadership platform.


Additionally, you can use the BiggerPockets member blog function to publish or republish your thought leadership content. You can even include crosslinks back to content on your website, but I recommend reading the rules of the blog before doing so.


3. Send out a newsletter


Generate and send out a newsletter to the email list you’re building from your opt-in forms. Since you are already creating valuable content on a consistent basis, the newsletter is an opportunity to repurpose that content. Depending on how much content you’re creating, you can start with a monthly newsletter, but the goal is to eventually work towards sending out a weekly newsletter.


A great tip for increasing the amount of content you create is repurposing previous published content. For example, if your thought leadership platform is a podcast, write a blog post that summarizes the main takeaways from the interview and include both the podcast and the blog post in your newsletter.


The service I use to create my newsletters is MailChimp. Click here for an example of my weekly newsletter, where I include all of the new content I created the previous week.


4. Promote content through others people’s platforms


If are doing an interview-based thought leadership platform, which I strongly recommend, ask your guests to promote your content on their website, social media and newsletter. Just be sure to include links back to your website or an opt-in button to capture email addresses.


I’ve found that having your content featured in other people’s newsletters is the best approach. So, when you are reaching out to individuals to be a guest on your thought leadership platform, ask them to commit to publishing the content in their next newsletter or simply sending the link to their email list after the interview has gone live.


5. Become a guest on other people’s platforms


In addition to having other people promote your content in their newsletter, you can also reach out to other thought leaders and become a guest on their platform – whether it is being interviewed on their podcast or writing a guest post for their blog.


I interviewed Jessica Rhodes, the founder of a premier guest booking agency for podcasters, on my episode 1013 of my podcast (click here for the full interview). From this interview, I created a blog post entitled “The Ultimate Guide to Getting Booked as a Guest on ANY Podcast” (click here to read the post) where I outline – as the title implies – how to approach getting on other podcasts.


6. Leverage social media


The simplest way to promote your thought leadership platform is to publish new content on social media. At first, you can manually publish content across multiple social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Or, if your thought leadership platform is a podcast, the hosting site you use should have a function that will automatically submit a post to the different social media sites each time you post a new episode. And you can do the same on YouTube.


As you build up a library of content, you can begin to republish old content. There are many online services that will allow you to create a schedule to automatically post old content at a specified time. Two providers that I’ve had success with are MeetEdgar and SmarterQueue. Currently, I have two older pieces of content scheduled to be posted on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn each day, on top of posting a new blog post and podcast.


7. Build a Facebook community


A great way to not only attract new listeners or viewers, but to also create loyalty with your current followers is to build a Facebook community. For example, I created a Facebook community called “Best Ever Show Community.” It is a place where the Best Ever listeners can interact with me, each other, and my guests.


My goal for the group is to create a community where everyone is helping each other reach the next level in their business and lives. Along with that, it is a place where I encourage everyone to ask and answer questions, add likeminded individuals, post any asks or needs they have, share insightful articles, books, videos, podcast, etc., tell us about themselves and their focus and post success stories. Additionally, a few times a week, I will create posts with the purpose of creating conversations within the group. For example, I will ask a question, like “where do most of your deals come from?”, and members of the group will provide their answers. The more interactions and conversations you have, the more valuable the community and the larger it will grow.


8. End with a call-to-action


Finally, for any content you create, end with a call to action. You should tell everyone listening to your podcast, watching your YouTube video or reading your blog post to perform a specific task.


Examples of call-to-actions are:


  1. A strong question to promote a conversation in the comment section
  2. A link to a related piece of content
  3. Send them to your website page
  4. Subscribe and leave a review
  5. Opt-in page that offers a valuable piece of content in exchange for their email address


For more information on how to increase traffic to your website and customer conversion, read this Q&A with Online Marketing Expert Neil Patel: 6 Ways to Increase Your Website Traffic


What have you found to be the best way to promote content?


Also, subscribe to my weekly newsletter for even more Best Ever advice: http://eepurl.com/01dAD


If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment below.



The Guide to Creating a Real Estate Thought Leadership Platform

Any long-time listener of my podcast knows that my guests and I constantly stress the importance and strength of creating a thought leadership platform. In fact, I believe that if you want to achieve massive levels of success as an apartment syndicator (or really any entrepreneurial endeavor in general), having an online presence as a thought leader is a MUST. Therefore, I wanted to create a post that outlines why you should create a thought leadership platform and how to actually do so.


What is a thought leadership platform?


Essentially, a thought leadership platform offers unique information, insights and ideas that will position the owner of the platform as a credible and recognized expert in a specific business niche.


Personally, I have and continue to greatly benefit from creating a thought leadership platform. It allows me to build new friendships and business relationships and maintain existing ones. It allows me to stay top of mind of real estate entrepreneurs because I am constantly providing valuable, free information. And it essentially has allowed me to continuously network with people on a global level – even while I am asleep.


A thought leadership platform may take many different forms. Examples that other investors and I have found successful are:


  • A YouTube channel – interviewing real estate investors and entrepreneurs and/or providing daily/weekly/monthly insights
  • Write a book and self-publish in the Amazon store
  • Create an interview-based podcast and post to iTunes, Soundcloud and other popular podcast platforms
  • Create a blog, posting to your own personal site and leveraging existing platforms like social media sites, LinkedIn, BiggerPockets, etc.
  • Starting an in-person meet-up group in your local market
  • Hosting an annual real estate conference
  • Weekly or monthly newsletter


What should my thought leadership platform be?


I actually do all seven. However, I didn’t wake-up one morning and say to myself, “I am going to start a YouTube channel, podcast, newsletter, blog, meet-up group and write a book today.” I took it one step at a time, starting with a podcast and pursuing additional platforms once the previous ones were already established. Therefore, I recommend selecting one and using that as your launching point.


The key to determining which thought leadership option to initially pursue is simple: ask yourself, “What would I enjoy doing?”


For example, if you enjoy writing, start a blog. If you enjoy speaking, but are camera shy, start a podcast. If you enjoy speaking and are good on camera, start a YouTube channel.


How to structure a thought leadership platform


Once you’ve selected a platform, the next step is to build out its structure, which I’ve distilled into a simple six-step process:


Step 1 – What is the goal?


Obviously, one of the goals will be to create a thought leadership platform. But what is the larger, overarching goal? How does this goal extend outside simply adding value to your own business?


Before doing anything else, brainstorm and create a list of goals. Then, condense that down into a paragraph or two that clearly communicates the intentions of the platform.


Step 2 – What is the name?


Once you’ve defined a goal, the next step is to generate a name. The ideal name will quickly communicate the goal to your followers.


Pick 3 to 5 potential names, and then ask for feedback from friends and colleagues to find the most popular, attractive name.


Step 3 – Who is the target audience?


Also based on the goal, determine your target audience. Be specific here. Who will benefit most from the information, insights and ideas you will offer? What will be the demographic? What are their interests? Etc.


Step 4 – Why will they come?


This step is key. Why will anyone follow your thought leadership platform? If you cannot provide an answer to this question, your followers – or lack thereof – won’t be able to either.


This question ties into your goal also. Why does your target audience NEED the information you will be offering? What is in it for them? How will they benefit? Why should they consume your content and not the thousands of other thought leadership platforms in the marketplace?


Step 5 – How will it flow?


What will be the structure of the platform? Will it be interview-based? If so, how will the conversation start? How will it end? How long will it be? Will you have a list of questions you will ask every guest? How often will you produce content? These are the types of questions you should be asking to ensure a successful thought leadership platform.


Step 6 – How will it be unique?


Last and certainly not least, how will it be unique? For example, naming a podcast “Millionaire Mindset” and interviewing millionaire investors – in my opinion – is too generic. When creating a thought leadership platform, make it unique to your area of expertise. For example, if you have a construction background. Interview landlords that are hands-on and ask for tips on how to increase revenue by being an active investor. Or if you’re in sales, provide tips on applying sales techniques to real estate investing. Or if you are a marketing executive, make a marketing real estate show on how to find more deals.


The goal is to be specific and unique. Based on your area of expertise (or interests or passions), see if there is a narrow idea on the types of people you can interview and the types of topics you can discuss.


The 3 keys to long-term success


After you’ve selected and structured your platform, your work has just begun. Now it’s time to actually start producing content. As you do, there are three important things to keep in mind to ensure long-term success and effectively build a large following.


First is consistency. Once you’ve established a posting frequency, whether it’s daily, weekly, biweekly, monthly, etc., make a conscious commitment to stick to it. This will be difficult at first because the only people who will follow your platform are your family and friends – and maybe your dog. Don’t expect to see a massive uptick in followers for at least 6 months, and likely even longer.


Next, to increase your chances of reaching your target audience, tap into a large, built-in audience. For example, if you start a podcast, make sure you’re posting to iTunes, Libsyn, SoundCloud, etc. to leverage their existing listenership. Or if you create a real estate blog, post to social media and BiggerPockets.


Finally, Tony Robbins says, “Success leaves clues.” Someone out there has already accomplished what you are also trying to do. So, go out, find established thought leaders, extract out their best practices and apply those to your platform.


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Should an Apartment Syndicator Invest in Their Own Deal?

As an apartment syndicator, you raise money from accredited investors to purchase apartment communities and share in the profit. However, should you rely on private capital to fund the entirety of the deal, or should a portion of the investment come out of your own pocket? Based on my experience as a syndicator and interviewing syndicators on my podcast, I believe a syndicator should invest in all of their deals.


First, it benefits the syndicator from a monetary standpoint. By investing their own capital in the deal, they will make the same projected returns as your investors. So, by neglecting to do so, they’re decreasing their overall profits.


Secondly, and most importantly, investing in your own deal results in an alignment of interest with your investors. If you have your own skin in the game, your investors will have more assurance in the investment. In fact, it may be a requirement for them to actually invest their own capital.  If you don’t invest in your own deals, why would someone else have the confidence to do so?


But what happens if you don’t have enough money to invest in your deals? This was the situation I was faced with on my first deal – I just didn’t have enough money saved up to invest. So, if the reason you aren’t investing in your own deals is because you don’t have enough money, you’ll need to achieve an alignment of interest in other ways.


For example, on my first deal, I had the brokerage that represented the seller invest their commission into the deal. Because they had over 20 years of experience and believed in the deal, this made up for my lack of investment in the minds of my investors. Therefore, if you don’t have enough money to invest in your own deal, consider offering the broker/s the opportunity to reinvest their commissions and become a limited partner. Similarly, another option is to have the property management company invest in the deal. They can either invest their own capital or bring on their own private investors. The idea for both of these approaches is to have an experienced party invest to provide your investors with additional faith in the strength of the deal.


Another way to show alignment of interests is to invest your acquisition fee into the deal. Generally, a syndicator is paid a fee of 0.5% to 3% of the purchase price at close for finding, analyzing, evaluating, financing and closing the investment. Instead of cashing in on this fee, reinvest it back into the deal. This accomplishes the alignment of interest and will increase your overall profit on the deal too.


Finally, offer a preferred return. A preferred return isn’t a guarantee, but it signals to your investors that you believe the deal’s performance will not only achieve, but also exceed the level of preferred return. And to take it a step further, something my company does is we put our asset management fee in second position to the preferred return. If the asset doesn’t achieve the specified preferred return, we don’t collect our asset management fee. If our investors don’t get paid, we don’t get paid.


Ultimately, to attract private capital, it boils down to an alignment of interests. You want to show your investors that they take a priority over your interests. Having your own skin in the game is own way to accomplish this, but if you don’t have enough capital to invest in the deal, you must achieve an alignment of interests in other ways, like having the broker or property management company invest in the deal, reinvesting your acquisition fee or offering the preferred return before collecting an asset management fee.


How do you show alignment of interest to your private money investors?


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Secrets to Starting a Company: Q&A with A-List Celebrity Leeza Gibbons

Leeza Gibbons is an all-around business success. In the entertainment industry, she’s won an Emmy as a daytime television host, has been the co-host for Entertainment Tonight for 16 years, won Celebrity Apprentice in 2015 and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. As an entrepreneur, she’s been inducted in the Direct Response Hall of Fame and won the Icon Award for crossing the billion-dollar mark and is a New York Times Best Selling author. And finally, as a philanthropist, she started a nonprofit, Leeza’s Care Connect, which supports family care givers.


In our recent conversation, Leeza offered up her best practices for not only building and maintaining for-profit and nonprofit businesses, but for becoming a stronger, more resilient human-being as well.


How did you come up with the idea for creating your non-profit organization, Leeza’s Care Connect?


After my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, my family and I realized that we didn’t have the education required to effectively battle the disease. And we felt as if we should have been prepared because my mother’s mother died due to the same condition. Therefore, I was determined to create in the world what we wished we had.


Common entrepreneurial advice is to create products and services that you yourself want. In following this advice, the creation of Leeza’s Care Connect was able to fulfill our wish and our need for an Alzheimer’s educational service. It is a place for people to learn what the challenges are, where to find support, where to learn the skills to make life easier. Ultimately, it’s where we could really connect people to their own strengths in such a difficult time in their lives.


Navigating such a trying time as your mother being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s must have required a lot of resilience on the part of you and your family. What’s your secret for staying motivated in the face of a seemingly all-encompassing challenge?


For me, the key component and driver was to really engage my optimism. This advice is applicable to all challenges – both personal and business related. Being optimistic is going to give you the ability to find answers and solutions. You’ll be able to bounce back and fight back quicker than most people who throw in the towel and are pessimistic and negative. And when facing a crisis, such as Alzheimer’s, you’ll be willing to engage with the tools and technologies out there that are designed to help you overcome the challenge at hand.


Additionally, I used – and continue to use – mantras. They really help you deal with your feelings when you’re completely overwhelmed with negative emotions. For example, when I was on Dancing with the Stars and surrounded by other female contestants with near perfect bodies, my mantra was “My body is strong and healthy. My body is strong and healthy.” When my mom was sick, my mantra was “I’m doing the best I can. I love my mom. I’m doing the best I can.” Since my family has two generations of Alzheimer’s, my ongoing mantra is, “My brain is sharp. My brain is sharp.”


I am a huge fan of Tony Robbins. He says that you always get what you focus on – end of story. If you focus on how you’re failing and how you’re underwater and how you’re overwhelmed, that’s what you’re going to attract. That’s why I believe it’s important to engage in day-to-day life with optimism and build yourself up with positive, affirming mantras.


How do you work towards increasing your resilience and bouncing back from challenges or failures quicker than others?


Aside from engaging with optimism and utilizing mantras, you need to edit the toxic people out of your life. The truth is that we become like the five people we associate with the most. So, surrounding yourself with the right, handpicked people is very important.


Business, and really life in general, is not a solo sport. You really need to form a team and find coaches that will not only help you achieve your goal, but also help you overcome the challenging times. In doing so, you’re to be more invested in your outcome than you’ve ever been before, in part because of the benefits of those with which you’re associated and in part beause you don’t want to let your team, your coach, and yourself down.


What advice do you offer to entrepreneurs who want to start a for-profit or nonprofit, philanthropic organization?


Often times, when attempting to start something new, we stop ourselves because we convince ourselves that we don’t know enough. So, my advice is to not wait until you know everything – which is never going to happen anyways – and don’t wait until you feel ready.


The saying “getting your ducks in a row” is instructive, but it is not true. The mother duck never waits for her ducklings to follow behind her. She just starts walking and the baby ducks fall in line. Similarly, I think that whatever journey you’re starting on, it’s never going to be perfect and you’re never going to feel 100% ready. But just launch it anyways.


What is your Best Ever advice for entrepreneurs?


Talk less and listen more. Typically, if you look around the room in committee meetings, boardrooms or negotiations, the most powerful person in the room is often not the one talking the most.


There’s a lot of strength in silence. There’s a lot of power in the things that we don’t say. Therefore, instead of talking, listen intently. In doing so, you can analyze situations, you can analyze your role in the situation and you can get to know the players around the table a little better.


What tips do you have for confronting challenges with resilience and optimism?  


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If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment below.




When to NOT Work with a Passive Investor on an Apartment Deal

When I first started raising money from investors to purchase apartment communities, as long as the individual was interested in a passive investment and met the accredited qualifications, I accepted their capital without hesitation. And if you are just launching your syndication career, perhaps you’re doing the same. However, as you begin to gain experience and your list of private investors grows, it is beneficial to be aware of the red flags that may indicate the potential for future disputes and, if necessary, to not add or remove the investor from future new investment offering correspondences.


To understand these red flags, it is first important to define the ideal syndicator/passive investor relationship. The typical life cycle of an apartment syndication is 5 years. Therefore, when forming a relationship of this length, I want a passive investor who both trusts me as a person and treats me as a partner, as opposed to considering me as their vendor. Based on my experience from hundreds of accredited investor conversations and completing more than ten apartment syndications, I’ve found that there are two main factors that indicate to me that our relationship will not meet these requirements.


Red Flag 1 – Contempt


A famous study published in 1998 by marriage researcher John Gottman videotaped newlywed couples discussing a controversial topic for 15 minutes with the purpose of measuring how the fought over it. Then, three to six years later, Gottman and his team checked in on these couples’ marital status – were they together or were they divorced? As a result, they determined that they could predict with an 83% accuracy if newlywed couples would divorce. The study found that there are four major emotional reactions that are destructive to marriages and of the four, contempt is the strongest.


If there is contempt in a marriage, it will not last. And I believe that the same applies to business relationships.  According to Dictionary.com, contempt is the feeling that a person or a thing is beneath consideration, worthless, or deserving of scorn.


How I identify contempt is based on my initial gut reaction. Do I get the feeling that this person sees me as an equal and as a partner? Or do they look down on me and see me as a vendor? For example, I recently had an email correspondence with a potential investor. He led off the conversation by saying, “My standards are high. My patience for slick marketing is low.” Then, after I provided him some information about my company, including past case studies of the returns I provided to my investors, his reply was, “So what I need to hear is why do some deals with you as opposed to (the company with which he currently invests)?” I felt that this individual’s replies had traces of contempt and politely explained that we wouldn’t be a good fit. If I was earlier on in my career, I would have likely brought this individual on as a partner, but since I already have strong relationships with my current investors, I didn’t find the potential issues worth pursuing the relationship any further.


If you are having a conversation with an investor and your gut is telling you that this person holds you in contempt, I would consider passing on the relationship. To set the relationship up for success, only work with investors who treat you as an equal and who want a mutually beneficial partnership.


Red Flag 2 – Lots of accusatory questions that don’t convey that they trust me


The second red flag I’ve come across is when a potential investor asks a laundry list of questions in an accusatory tone. For example, I have an investor who literally sends me a list of 50 or more questions that are written in an accusatory fashion for every new investment offering. After taking the time to answer each question on multiple deals, they have yet to invest. Because they are asking questions in that manner, regardless of my answer, they will still be suspicious.


An important distinction to make here is that I have no issue with my investors sending me a list of questions, no matter how long. In fact, that is encouraged, because the more information I can provide about the deal, the more confidence they will have in the investment. The red flag is when the questions are asked in an accusatory manner. That conveys that they don’t have trust in me and that they’ll likely never invest in a deal. At the end of the day, the key to a successful, long-term relationship is trust, and when my instincts are telling me that there is a lack of trust, I decide to no longer pursue the relationship.




The two red flags to look for when having conversations with investors is contempt and the asking of a long list of questions in an accusatory tone that conveys that they don’t trust me.


Keep in mind that both these factors are highly subjective. Each syndicator and each investor has a different personality and will get along with different types of people. Just because you get the feeling that someone holds you in contempt or asks questions in an accusatory tone does not mean that they are a bad person. However, what it does indicate is that you will have an issue connecting in such a way that builds a relationship that is capable of surviving the course of a syndication deal. So, if either of these red flags arise, be polite, but strongly consider not working with that investor on your apartment deal.


If you have had a rocky business relationship in the past that came to an unfortunate end, what did you identify as the cause?


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If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment below.



5 Ways to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile to Attract More Business

Unlike other social media type sites, LinkedIn’s sole mission is to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. With a user base of 467 million professional from 200 countries across the global, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. And if you create the optimal LinkedIn profile, you can tap into this vast network of professionals to expand your real estate business.


Donna Serdula, the owner of LinkedIn-Makeover.com, leads a team of 40 writers who help thousands of LinkedIn users strategically write their profile to grow their brand. In our recent conversation, she outlined the top six ways you can immediately improve your LinkedIn profile to grow your business.


1 – Know your why


First, know the reason why you are on LinkedIn in the first place. This may seem like commonsense, but when creating a profile, most people will mechanically fill out the different fields with generic answers and that’s it.


“Why are you on LinkedIn? What are you really trying to achieve? What’s your goal?,” Donna said. “Some people are on LinkedIn for a job; others are on LinkedIn for prospecting and sales, and there’s others who are on it for reputation management, to be found and be seen as expects.”


Only once you know what you want to accomplish with your LinkedIn profile can you create a profile that directly pertains to that goal.


2 – Define a target audience


Next, you need to figure out who your target audience is. “Who is going to be reading that LinkedIn profile?,” Donna said. “Once you know who’s going to be reading it, who we need to target for, … we know what we need to say, because it’s not just what we want to say about ourselves, it’s what does our target audience need to know about us?”


Your why and target audience are used in tandem to optimize and streamline your LinkedIn profile so that you are attracting the results and professionals that you desire.


If you don’t know who your target audience is, here is a blog post I wrote about how I defined my primary target audience to help you get started.


3 – Understand your top keywords


LinkedIn is more than just a social network. It is a search engine. People use LinkedIn for a specific purpose, which is usually to either find someone who provides a service they need or to provide that service. That means that out there somewhere, someone is using LinkedIn to fulfill a need that your business is capable of solving. However, since they don’t know your name or the name of someone like you, they search for keywords instead. Therefore, you need to determine which keywords your target audience is searching for and make sure you’ve included those keywords in your profile. Additionally, these keywords need to describe what you actually do.


Donna said, “I want people to find me if they’re searching for ‘LinkedIn,’ ‘LinkedIn profile writer,’ ‘branding,’ ‘social media,’ – those are the types of phrases that describe what I do, so those are the words that I sprinkled throughout my profile.”


You want to always think in terms of your target audience, because sometimes your target audience describes you differently than how you would describe yourself. For example, Donna had a CPA client who thought her top keyword was CPA. However, they realized that her target audience (people in need of a CPA) were searching for bookkeeper, accountant and tax advisor more frequently than CPA. Therefore, you want to be smart and strategic when describing what you do, while always keeping your target audience in mind.


4 – Headline and Profile Picture


Now that you’ve determined the top keywords for which your target audience searches, you want to optimize your profile’s SEO by including these keywords throughout. Specifically, Donna said, “you want to make sure that you have a great headline – that’s like your tagline; it’s 120 characters and it really should contain more than what the default LinkedIn gives you, which is just your title and your current job, which is boring. So, you want to infuse it with your keywords, you really want to give a benefit statement.”


Additionally, since the first thing people will see is your profile picture, you want to use a great-looking picture too. Please no selfies people!


5 – Your profile isn’t a resume


When writing the rest of your LinkedIn profile, besides the best practice of including the top keywords, avoid reproducing your resume. Donna said, “What most people do … is they look at their LinkedIn profile and they say ‘Well, it kind of looks like my resume. Let me get out that old resume of mind, let me just copy and paste all those fields in there and I’ll be done with it.’” However, if you are on LinkedIn for more reasons than just a job, your resume won’t help much. And if you are using LinkedIn to find a job, a recruiter or prospective employer will be disappointed when they ask for your resume and see that it is the exact same as your LinkedIn profile.


“Really look at your profile not as an online resume,” Donna said. “Look at it as your career future. Look at it as a digital introduction. Look at it as a first impression and really write it like a narrative and just give that audience information that makes them respect you, that makes them feel impressed and makes them feel confident in who you are and what you bring to the table.”




To get the most out of your LinkedIn profile, optimize it in these five ways:


  • Know why you are on LinkedIn
  • Defined your target audience
  • Understand the keywords searched by your target audience
  • Input those top keywords into your profile, especially your headline
  • Don’t use LinkedIn as a resume, but as your career future


What is it that you are trying to accomplish with your LinkedIn profile?



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If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment below.




5 Most Popular Best Ever Podcast Episodes for October 2017

Here are the five Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever podcast episodes with the most downloads in the month of October.




#5 – JF1143: How to Be Successful When Just Starting Out with Dan Plant

Worried about his future as a W2 worker and wanting to take more control of his future, Dan started looking into real estate. He started with a flip, then another, and made money on both of his flips. Now with a child, he has moved into multifamily rental properties, still successfully making money there too. A fantastic episode to learn from, especially for the newer investor or completely new investor that needs to hear a newer investor success story. Dan is living proof that with the right mindset and education, you can start investing in real estate and be successful from the beginning.


What you’ll learn:


  • How Dan made 50% profit on his first two fix-and-flip deals
  • Why and how Dan transitioned from active fix-and-flipping to “passive” rental investing
  • How to approach taking over a rental property when inheriting residents
  • Dan’s Best Ever advice – budget for property management and capital expenditure expenses


#4 – JF1127: Josh Dorkin, Founder & CEO of BiggerPockets is Back For Part 2 of Our Interview

In Part One, we learned about the history of BiggerPockets and its founder, Josh Dorkin (click here to listen to part 1). In Part Two, Josh answered the top questions asked by the Best Ever Listeners.


What you’ll learn:


  • What feature of the BiggerPockets platform does Josh think is most underutilized?
  • When you were considering starting BiggerPockets, what was a number one fear holding you back from starting?
  • How has podcasting enhanced your business and opened up doors and connections that you wouldn’t have had otherwise?
  • What are your morning routines or daily practices that you do on a regular basis?
  • Josh’s Best Ever advice – figure out your why


#3 – JF1134: Below Market Rents Make More Money in The Long Run with Chris Heller

Chris is an agent and investor, and uses all his available resources and knowledge to succeed in the San Diego market. From REO’s to MLS listed houses, he’ll look at anything that makes money. He has a unique strategy for pricing his rental units, and it seems to work really well.


What you’ll learn:


  • The primary way Chris makes money
  • Types of properties Chris has had success investing in
  • How to price your rental rates
  • How to avoid or minimize facing challenges after purchasing an investment property
  • Best performing investment deal Chris has done
  • How to identify a shift in the market
  • Chris’s Best Ever advice – Make sure you get a great buy


#2 – JF1129: Buy Cash-Flowing Properties Online with Gary Beasley

Gary created Roofstock with intentions to attempt to democratize the real estate investing world. Not only does his company and the technology help him with his investing, but also helps anyone who would like to invest in single family homes anywhere in the country. They have already negotiated deals with property management companies, an important aspect when 90% of his investors are investing in markets they don’t live in


What you’ll learn:


  • How to manage out-of-state rental properties
  • How to measure the quality of renovations when purchasing a turnkey property
  • How to qualify a potential resident or requalify a resident you’ve inherited after purchase a rental property
  • The biggest challenges Gary’s faced launching a turnkey rental company
  • Top mistakes Gary’s made in his real estate business
  • Gary’s Best Ever advice – develop conviction around a thesis and then execute, even if other people don’t agree with you


#1 – JF1128: How to Purchase 4 to 10 Properties Per Month With Lease Options with Chris Prefontaine

It takes 120 leads just to close 4 to 5 properties. Chris has built an amazing company and team that finds those leads, makes the calls, closes properties, and helps with other aspects of the business. From an online automated bird dogging campaign to a dedicated full-time phone VA. If you want to invest at a high level, listen to this episode and take notes!


What you’ll learn:


  • How to generate lease-option and seller-financing leads
  • How to find a high-quality virtual assistant
  • How to structure lease-option and seller-financing deals
  • Chris’s long-term wealth building strategy
  • How to convince a seller to do owner-financing instead of selling outright
  • Chris’ Best Ever advice – don’t personally sign the loan and don’t use your own cash on deals


Which Best Ever podcast episode this month added the most value to your real estate business?


Top 5 Essentials for Raising Private Capital

Written By David Thompson, Thompson Investing


After 8 deals and $13 million raised in 18 months, I condensed my top ten tips to five essentials for successfully raising capital.  I continue to learn new things on every deal, but this is the best of the best so far.


If you can master the art and skill of raising capital, you have a big advantage.  It’s one of the top 3 skills in demand in this highly competitive and increasingly complex world according to Cal Newport in his book Deep Work.


Everyone seems to need capital to grow including startups, businesses, communities, nonprofits, you name it.  Even companies I’ve talked with that have a ton of experiences and rich capital sources are interested in talking with me because at the end of the day, it’s just human nature to grow.  A small firm can also negotiate better win / win terms from the operator’s standpoint versus wall street private equity that often may negotiate less than favorable terms with them.


Companies either want to grow bigger, faster, or take advantage of opportunities that often come in bunches instead of at systematic intervals.  Lack of capital stops ideas, companies and people from growing.  If you focus on this one skill you will have folks wanting to partner with you in a variety of areas.  Your goal will be to stay focused, establish key relationships with a few very experienced operators, build your reputation and network of investors by honing your craft and providing them with sound and logical opportunities while taking care of their needs.  So, here are my top 5 essentials for being successful in this area.


1) Partner with experts

  • You increase your experience and credibility faster when you are working with partners that are experts in what they do
  • You will be sharing good deals with investors in strong markets behind an experienced team
  • Your learning and development accelerates because experienced partners can share their knowledge. You’ll avoid newbie mistakes that can harm your reputation
  • Your brand becomes more known and credible building on an experienced partner’s track record


2) Be Yourself  / Authentic

  • Focus on education with investors as the primary objective
  • Don’t sell or appear needy. You have something that investors want
  • Being knowledgeable increases confidence and the investor will feel that you know what you are talking about. You will be more relaxed and natural when sharing the idea with investors.
  • Keep the message logical and simple. Frame the opportunity around a good market, a good deal with an experienced team behind it.  Share with them what’s driving value creation.
  • Prepare for investor questions: review my blog on 25 FAQs


3) Play to your strengths

  • Analyze your network and know where your investors are coming from
  • Focus on getting stronger in the areas of your strengths. Pick the top two areas you are finding most of your investors and develop a more comprehensive plan to further develop those areas
  • Don’t waste time in areas that aren’t working or are not natural paths for you
  • Bonus: Read StrengthsFinder 2.0 (Tom Rath) to help you understand the importance of playing to your strengths
  • Return customers and referrals are 85% of my business now so understand it gets easier over time


4) Raise min 25% more than you need

  • Know investors may change their mind for a variety of legitimate reasons such as pending job uncertainty, health or family emergency, unable to get liquid in time, etc.
  • Don’t be surprised when investors change their mind. Be mature and empathetic with the investor
  • Focus on building that long-term relationship so they are ready next time
  • To avoid big investor decommits, take half and put the rest on backup reserve in case you need it
  • Demand and interest increases when folks are put on backup. Psychologically, folks want in more when they can’t get in.  They assume they are missing out on a great opportunity


5) Develop a thought leadership platform for long term success

  • Building your brand requires a long-term strategy of developing content and knowledge share
  • Create good content for free and focus on educating others to increase awareness of your brand
  • Thought leadership ideas are blogging, podcast interviews, newsletters, videos, special reports, website, online forum or meetup group participation or start your own meetup group.
  • Most of my new leads today come from my thought leadership platform


In summary, building a foundation on these five essential factors will accelerate your capital raising efforts and enable you to add significant value to the partners you work with in your business while building an investor base that has confidence in the ideas you share with them.


3 Ways to Separate Yourself from Other Apartment Syndicators


There are thousands of qualified syndicators who raise money from accredited, passive investors and purchase apartment deals. With so many options available, how should you differentiate yourself from the competition to win an investor’s business?


There’s no secret and magic formula that, if applied, will allow you to easily attract millions of dollars in private capital. However, if you follow these three tactics, you can slowly start to separate yourself from the pack, build relationships with high net worth individuals and ultimately build a sustainable and successful apartment syndication business model.


Is there an alignment of interests?


The first way to differentiate yourself from other syndicators is making sure there is an alignment of interest. What are you doing to show your investors that their interests are just as important, if not more important, than yours?


There are many different ways to accomplish this, but one thing that my company does that many others don’t is putting our asset management fee in second position to the investor’s preferred return. In other words, if the project doesn’t meet the investor’s preferred return, which is typically 8% on an annual basis, then we don’t collect our asset management fee.


Now, that may seem like it’s common sense – if the project is performing for the investors and they aren’t receiving the projected returns, why should we get paid? However, this actually isn’t a common practice. And it’s certainly not a common practice to explicitly state this in an operating agreement. But that is what my company does. Our operating agreement says that if the project is not on track to achieve the investor’s preferred return, we do not collect the asset management fee.


Hopefully, it never comes down to this, but having this in the operating agreement reinforces the alignment of interest with our investors and differentiates us from other apartment syndicators.


Are you transparent with your investors?


Another way to differentiate yourself from the competition is by having a high level of transparency. Now, you obviously don’t want to bother your investors with every single aspect of the operations, but how often do you send out updates to your investors? I know some syndicators provide quarterly updates, while others offer annual updates. But for my business, we send out detailed email updates to our investors on a monthly basis, including occupancy rates, renovation updates, rental rate actuals vs. projections, capital improvement updates, issues with proposed solutions and any other updates relevant to the project. Then, we send out detailed financials on a quarterly basis so investors can have a granular level look at the operations.


Additionally, we are extremely responsive to investor questions and concerns. The last thing a passive investor wants is to ask a question and be ignored or receive a response a few days or weeks later. Therefore, if an investor sends you an email, quickly find the answer and reply to them in a timely manner. This may seem minor, but again, this can go a long way in differentiating yourself from other apartment syndicators who take forever to reply to investor concerns.


Can your investors trust you?


Finally, and certainly most importantly, the private investor must trust the person leading the charge, which – as an apartment syndicator – is you.


One of the main ways to build trust – I know this isn’t earth shattering advice – is to be yourself. There’s no reason to put on a show for your investors. Instead, you will build the best relationships if you just be your authentic self.


Besides authenticity, the best way for investors to trust you the fastest is through your online presence. And this is accomplished by creating a thought leadership platform, whether it’s a podcast, YouTube channel, blog, etc. Whenever I jump on a call with a prospective investor, most of them say, “I feel like I’ve already talked to you because of your podcast.” That’s music to my ears, because we’ve already established rapport before even having our first conversation.



Ultimately, differentiating yourself from other apartment syndicators boils down to building trust and credibility and determining how to do so in a scalable way.


What are some tactics you’ve discovered that enable you to differentiate yourself from other investors in your niche?


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If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment below.



The Secret to Eliminating Competitors in a Hot Real Estate Market

How do you approach finding, underwriting and acquiring real estate deals when there’s so much competition in your market, niche, etc. that you cannot find a deal at a price that will meet your investment return goals? This was the exact situation that my apartment syndication business faced in mid-2017. We had a lot of leads coming in that met our investment criteria, but the competition was such that the purchase price kept creeping higher and higher until the deal was projected to achieve returns below that of our passive investors goals.


So, what did we do? Like any effective entrepreneur, we went into problem solving mode. More specifically, we reassessed our investment criteria.


Our standard investment criteria for initially screening deals is:


  • Was it built in the 1980s?
  • Are there 150 or more units?
  • Is it in or near a major city?
  • Is there an opportunity to add value?


If we cannot answer yes to these four questions, the deal would automatically be eliminated from contention. Normally, we didn’t have much of an issue finding and purchasing properties that met this criterion. However, as of late, we have. In particular, we had a challenge finding solid investments built around 1980, mostly due a high level of competition. So, we took a step back and began reviewing properties that were built much later. And as a result, we purchased an apartment community built in the 2000s for the first time.


We typically look at properties built around 1980 because we are value-add investors. Generally, anything built earlier than 1980 would be to distressed to fit into our value-add business model. Conversely, anything built later than the 1980s wouldn’t have enough value-add opportunities to meet our investment goals. Or so we thought.


After reviewing all the potential deals in our pipeline, regardless of age, we realized that these newer deals – the ones built between 1995 and 2005 – were actually projecting returns similar to those of the 1980s apartment communities. Generally, since they are newer buildings, the opportunity to add value was lower, but that was offset by the reduction of certain expenses, like ongoing maintenance, management issues, vacancy rates, resident turnover and overall risk.


I think the reason why, in our current market, 1980s properties have comparable returns to 1990s and 2000s properties is because value-add apartment investors are conditioned to make the former property type a priority. Most wouldn’t even look at communities built in the late 1990s or early 2000s because they think the numbers won’t work as well because there will be less opportunity to add-value. However, we were able to apply our value-add investing knowledge to a property built in the 2000s and create a business plan that would enable us to achieve the desired returns of our passive investors. Whereas most investors pursuing deals in this age range aren’t looking at them through the value-add lens, we were able to identify areas that could be improved that the other, non-value-added investors had missed. In other words, we leveraged our unique skillset (understanding how to recognize opportunities to add-value) to defeat the competition and be awarded the deal.


So, if you are having trouble finding deals that achieve your desired returns, reassess your acquisition criteria. Start looking at deals that fall outside your criteria and see if you can project similar returns. You may end up discovering what we did, which will lower your risk in the deal since it is newer and comes with lower risks and ongoing expenses.


All that being said, our priority is still properties built in 1980. And we’ve only purchased one apartment community outside that range. So, we’re keeping our eyes out for our initial criteria but also now acknowledge that sometimes it makes sense to upgrade, especially when everyone else is looking at the same types of deals as us.


What techniques have you applied to your real estate business that enabled you to navigate a competitive market and find deals that meet your investment goals?



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The 3 Secrets to Attract and Keep Your Passive Apartment Investors

Before raising money for my first deal, I thought the primary reason accredited investors would passively invest in my deal would be because of the return. However, after raising $1 million for that deal, I discovered that the return on investment was not the major concern. Because there are other syndication and investment avenues to which an investor can go, offering solid returns cannot be the driving factor.


So, if returns aren’t their primary motivation, what is?


Since my first deal, I’ve partnered with hundreds of accredited investors on more than ten apartments communities worth nearly $200,000,000. From this experience, I have narrowed down the passive investors’ three primary reasons for investing in an apartment syndication:


  • My money is in good hands
  • I will be updated on relevant information on the deal
  • The process is hassle-free


Need #1 – Is my money in good hands?


My first need is to know that my money is in good hands. First and foremost, that means I want to know that – at the very least – you won’t lose my money. Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has two rules for investing: 1) Never lose money. 2) Never forget rule number 1. Therefore, your main focus when managing other people’s money should be capital preservation.


Like any investment, there are never guarantees – not for returns or the preservation of capital. So, I need to know that you are proactively mitigating any major risks. The syndicator accomplishes this by adhering to the three principles of apartment investing:


  • Don’t buy for appreciation
  • Don’t overleverage
  • Don’t get forced to sell


Follow these three principles and I will be confident that you will not only preserve my capital, but maximize my return as well.


Along with this, I want to know that my money is in the hands of an experienced syndicator. So, before you’re ready to raise money for your first deal, you must establish a solid educational foundation and have a track record in business and/or real estate. If you are lacking in either or both of these areas, you can make up for your deficiencies by surrounding yourself with a trustworthy, credible team, like a mentor, property management company and broker who have experience in the apartment industry and have successfully completed syndications. For me to invest in your deals, I must be confident in you and your team’s ability to return my capital and provide me with the projected return.


I also need to trust you as a person. I need to have a good feeling about you and truly believe that you have my best interests in mind. This trust is established by the length and quality of our relationship and by you demonstrating your expertise through your experience, your team or your thought leadership.


With this trust, I will be confident that you will have common sense, make good decisions, conservatively underwrite the deal, perform all the required due diligence before purchasing an apartment and at a minimum, meet the projected returns you outlined.


Finally, I want to know that you are a responsive communicator. If there is a problem with the deal, I want you to not only notify me of the issue, but have a proposed solution as well. And if I reach out to you with a question or concern, I expect that same lightning quick response with an answer.


Overall, I want to know that my money is in good hands. The syndicator will convey this to me by proactively mitigating the risks, having the relevant experience, building a trusting relationship and being a responsive communicator.


Need #2 – Will I be provided with status updates on the deal?


Additionally, I want to be provided with ongoing status updates of the project. On a consistent basis, I want a director level – not a CEO or entry-level employee level – update on the deal with supporting data.


To accomplish this, the syndicator needs to provide their investors with a monthly email update (I use MailChimp) that includes the following information:


  • Distribution details
  • Occupancy and pre-leased occupancy rates
  • Actual rents vs. projected rents
  • (If you are a value add investor) actual rental premium vs. projected rental premiums
  • Capital expenditure updates with pictures of the progress
  • Relevant market and/or submarket updates
  • Any issues, plus your proposed solution
  • Any community engagement events


Then, on a quarterly basis, provide me with the profit and loss statement and rent roll so if I want, I can review the operations of the property and dig deeper into the details. My company actually provides monthly distributions – as opposed to quarterly or annual distributions – so our investors are not only provided with updates on a monthly basis, but are paid as well.


Need #3 –  Is the process hassle-free?


Finally, I want a hassle-free process. The reason I am a passive investor is because I want to park my money in an investment and not have to worry about doing any of the day-to-day operations. I am busy making money with other business endeavors, so I want to minimize my time investment in the deal.


After performing my initial due diligence on the deal prior to investing, I want a boring investment with little to no surprises. All I want to do is read the monthly email updates and receive my distributions. So, to effectively provide investor distributions, set up a direct deposit, as opposed to sending checks in the mail, so all I need to do is look at my bank account rather than going to the bank each month to deposit a check.


If I do reach out with a concern, I want a quick resolution with minimal back and forth. Therefore, you should proactively address potential concerns in your monthly updates and if an investor has a concern, have a solution in place prior to replying.




In summary, I’ve completed nearly $200,000,000 worth of apartment syndications with hundreds of passive investors, and if you set your business/deals up so your investors answer YES to these 3 questions, you’ll be well on your way to closing more deals:

  • Is my money in good hands?
  • Will I be provided with status updates on the deal?
  • Is the process hassle-free?


If you use private money investors for you deals, what have you found to be their top motivations for investing with you and not with another qualified investor?


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How to Build a High-Quality Sales Team That Consistently Brings You Leads

Are you having trouble finding quality leads? Or conversely, do you have so many leads that it’s impossible to contact and qualify them all? If so, hiring an inside sales person may be the solution to your problems.


A dedicated inside sales person can man the phones, contacting and qualifying incoming leads or cold-calling property owners to find off-market deals. However, you don’t want to bring on just anybody as your inside sales lead. Like hiring for any job, there is a specific process you want to follow to screen out the duds and only hire the most qualified individual.


Dale Archdekin, who has 10 years of experience selling and investing in residential real estate, is an expert at coaching and training real estate investors on building high-quality inside sales team. In our recent conversation, he provided his three step process for recruiting, interviewing and training candidates for a real estate inside sales team.


Step 1 – Recruitment


Like any hiring process, the first step is recruitment. And lucky for you, the internet allows you to complete this step with relative ease. When Dale needs to hire a new inside sales person, he simply posts advertisements on the popular job recruitment websites. “Just running different ads. Using Indeed, using ZipRecruiter, using anything that you have, pushing the ads out there just like any other job ad,” he said.


To maximize the number of potential candidates, Dale recommends that you do not only advertise for individuals with prior real estate experience. Instead, your ideal candidate only requires a background in any type of sales. He said, “That’s the one secret that I’ve figured out. A lot of teams get hung up on trying to find somebody who’s already licensed [as an agent], and in some states, there’s some very heavy requirements around actually getting a license. So, what we do is we look for people that just have sales experience, because we can teach them about the real estate process.” Dale finds that it’s difficult to teach sales skills, but learning the real estate process is much easier for most people to grasp.


Prior to conducting long-form phone or in-person interviews, in order to simplify the hiring process, Dale has interested candidates send in a verbal audition. “What you want to do is you want to get as many inquires as you can coming in, and then you want to streamline your process,” he said. “I prefer to have people calling to a phone number and leave a voicemail about themselves. I’ll just have an outgoing message that says something like ‘Okay, give me your name and your best phone number to reach you at, and then in your own words, tell my why you are the best fit for our inside sales department and why you are a sales rockstar?’.”


Once Dale receives the verbal audition, his team reviews the recording and determines if the candidate is worth pursuing further. This verbal audition approach will save you a lot of time. You don’t have to read through a bunch of resumes. Moreover, since the majority of their job will be spent on the phone, you can get a good idea of their communication style too.


Step 2 – Interview Qualified Candidates


The candidates that the pass the audition phase will move forward to step two of the hiring process, which is a role play over the phone. The first portion of the phone call is answering the standard questions about the job –  pay, location, and responsibilities. Once the candidate has an understanding of the job and are okay with the fact that they will be on the phone for over six hours per day, the role play begins. Dale said he will tell the candidate, “I’ve sent you a for-sale-by-owner script. You’re going to be the agent and I’m going to be the for-sale-by-owner. You have to set up an appointment with me. And the only way that you fail this exercise is if you let me off the phone before you ask all of the questions on the script.” In particular, they need to ask the two most important question, which are “are you interested in selling your property at this time and can we schedule an appointment to discuss this further?” When a lead comes in or when cold calling a lead, Dale’s main outcome is to determine if the lead is worth investing time in. So, if the candidate doesn’t achieve this outcome on the roleplay, they fail the interview.


The role play recreates the actual situation the candidate will be in if they are hired, so this approach will indicate if they are the right fit for the job. “If I give you explicit instructions that if you let me off the phone you fail, and you let me off the phone because you didn’t want to be too rough on me, you fail,” he said. “If you can’t do it when I specifically tell you not to get off the phone, you sure aren’t going to do it once I give you the job and I’m not listening all the time.”


Also, Dale said, “most of these people have zero real estate sales experience. So, going through that script with them … tells us what the level of sales skill they have. Because somebody with more sales skills can basically BS you through anything that they haven’t sold before. They will stay on the phone with you and they will set up an appointment with you even if they’re selling 3D laser prints and they have no idea what that is.”


If the candidate asks the money questions and passes the roleplay, Dale invites them into the office for a three-hour calling session. He said, “for the first hour or so, we teach them the script, and for the next two hours, we put them onto a recorded line and have them make real outbound calls to real consumers. Then we get to listen to that and see how they actually did.”


After making it through the entire process, which includes the verbal audition, roleplay and real phone calls to leads, Dale has enough information to make an educated decision on whether or not he should offer this individual a position.


Step 3 – Training


Once a candidate is hired, they are put through a training process. For Dale, he wants his inside sales person to be like an agent, so they are taught everything on which an actually agent would be trained. During this training, he said they’ll learn things like “How does the process work, how does financing work, mindset, time-blocking, understanding the types of leads that they’re calling and receiving, what the mindset of those leads that they’re calling and receiving, and then scripting.”


However, what Dale doesn’t want are robots that never deviate from the script. Scripts are to get them started and for them to have something to say when they call somebody. But at that point, Dale wants his sales people to use his three core principles – experience, process and outcome – to guide the conversation. He said, “For any person who’s trying to do anything or who’s objecting to you, that person has some type of experience that they’re drawing from [and] they’ve created a process in their mind that they think is going to get them an outcome that they’re trying to achieve. If you can ask enough questions to understand what their experience is, how they put that process together and what the outcome is and what it means to them, you can show them a different process that can get them to a better, faster, cheaper or easier outcome, and then you can say ‘Would you like that?’.”


Here is an example: You are speaking to a for-sale-by-owner and they say “My neighbor sold their home by themselves. They didn’t use an agent, which saved them a lot of money. I’m going to sell the house myself without an agent and I’m going to save a lot of money too.” So, an inside sales person needs to identify their experience, process and outcome. In this example, the experience is “my neighbor sold his house without an agent.” The process is “I am going to sell my house without an agent too.” And the outcome is “I want to save a lot of money.” Now that the three principles have been identified, the goal is to offer a different process that accomplishes the same or better outcome. A simple response would be “Hey, you’re absolutely right. You totally could sell this home yourself, and that’s great that your neighbor did that too. If I could show you how I could not only net you more money that it costs you to hire me and make this easier for you to do, would you consider meeting with me to discuss potentially listing your home with me?”


Who would say no to that?


How Much Do You Pay an Inside Sales Person?


It is important to understand the cost of having an inside sales team in order to determine if it is affordable. Dale pays his sales people around $2,000 to $2,500 a month as a base salary.


Since he is acquiring leads with the purpose of becoming the listing agent, his sales people are also paid percentage of the commission on a closing at the end of sale – between 5% and 10% of the gross commission income. On average, depending on the market, Dale pays between $60,000 and $120,000 annually.


Depending on your business model, your pay or bonus structure may differ – hourly, strictly commission-based, etc.




A great inside sales person will help you screen, qualify, and find high-quality leads. The three-step process for hiring this team member is:


  • Recruiting – posting ads online and obtaining a verbal audition
  • Interview – phone roleplay and in-person calling session
  • Training – teaching the experience, process, and outcome principles


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Should I Buy An Investment Property In A Flood Zone?

Originally Featured on Forbes.com here.


Through late August and into early September, Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4, devastated parts of Texas and Louisiana. Next, it was Irma, a Category 5 hurricane, that hit numerous islands off the coast of the Southeastern United States, eventually making landfall in Florida. That same week, Hurricane Jose grazed several Caribbean islands, stalled in the Atlantic Ocean, then began making its way to the East Coast. It’s possible that the U.S. will be effected by three catastrophic hurricanes in a period of less than a month.


The damage incurred by the first two hurricanes was apocalyptic. With over 80 deaths from Harvey, more than 60 deaths from Irma and hundreds of thousands of displaced families and businesses, the aftermath will remain significant for years to come. Certainly, our thoughts are with those who were affected by the hurricane.


The economic losses caused by the hurricanes are also shocking. Preliminary estimates for Harvey and Irma damages are in the hundreds of billions. And to make matters worse, a large portion of the economic damage is on properties without flood insurance.


Therefore, as real estate investors, we must take the possibility of flood damage into account when considering an investment. A property located in a flood zone by no means automatically disqualifies a potential investment. However, it will require additional upfront due diligence on your part so that if a hurricane or flooding occurs, you have your bases covered and your investment isn’t negatively affected.


Should I buy flood insurance? 


For a property that is in an area designated a high risk for flooding and will be purchased with a mortgage, it is required by federal law to have flood insurance.


However, with Hurricane Harvey, neighborhoods not considered flood zones were impacted. Since flood insurance wasn’t required, many families will have to bear the tremendous financial burden themselves. According to FEMA, more than 20% of flood claims come from properties not located in high-risk flood zones. Therefore, if an investment property is on the border of a flood plane, you may still want to consider buying flood insurance.


For information on flood hazards and official flood maps, use the FEMA Flood Map Service Center. This tool allows you to enter an address or area to obtain the most up-to-date flood map. And when in doubt, contact a local insurance agent to determine if the property is at risk for flooding.


How much does flood insurance cost?


Compared to the economic burden placed on those without flood insurance, it’s relatively inexpensive. A study conducted by FEMA found that just one inch of interior flooding can result in nearly $27,000 in damage. The amount reaches over six figures if the flooding is a few feet or more.


Contrast that to the typical cost of flood insurance. According to Cincinnati Insurance board director Ron Eveligh, a flood policy with $250,000 in coverage will run you about $500 a year for a residential building. So, to determine if a property in a flood zone is a good investment, it is vital to account for the cost of flood insurance during the underwriting process.


If the addition of the monthly expense results in a financial return that’s outside your investment goals, you need to pass up on the deal or investigate ways to increase income or decrease expenses elsewhere. In other words, plan for flood insurance the same way you do for other expenses, like maintenance, property taxes and vacancy.


How do I buy flood insurance?


Damage from flooding is not covered under your basic homeowners’ or renters’ insurance. It must be purchased separately, and you can only buy flood insurance through an insurance agent. If a property is in a high-risk flood zone, it will require flood insurance before a lender will close on the loan. So, the purchasing of flood insurance will need to be taken care of prior to close in that case.


If a property is not in a high-risk flood zone, but it’s either in a moderate to low-risk flood zone or just outside the border of a flood zone and you want a quote for how much insurance will cost, it’s a good idea to reach out to your local insurance agent for a quote. If your insurance agent doesn’t offer flood insurance, you can request an agent referral from the National Flood Insurance Program Referral Call Center by calling 1-800-427-4661.



In general, owning investment property requires proper planning. With underwriting, lender communications, inspections, etc., your list of duties fills up quickly. However, do not neglect to determine if the property is at risk of flooding.


Taking the time to figure out if a property needs flood insurance, how much it costs and the process of obtaining it upfront can save you tens of thousands of dollars and a huge headache should disaster strike.


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Should You Go Big in One Market or Diversify Across Many?

I recently closed on an apartment community, which increased my company’s portfolio to over $190,000,000 worth of apartment communities under our control. We have 11 apartment communities and… 11 out of 11 are in Texas. In fact, 9 out 11 are in Dallas Fort Worth (DFW). I’ll get to the relevance of this in a second.


But first, after every closing, I document a lesson learned with the purpose of helping others who want to pursue apartment syndication or multifamily investing. You can read about the 16 lessons from those deals here: 16 Lessons from Over $175,000,000 in Multifamily Syndications


Now, let’s look at my company’s portfolio a little closer and dig into this lesson learned – or really, an observation I had. We have 2,613 apartment doors in total with 85% (2,208 doors) in DFW. So clearly, we are going deep in one market and are not currently diversifying across multiple markets. But, I frequently hear about how real estate investors should diversify.


I don’t agree.


As apartment owners and operators, if we diversify across other cities/states just for the sake of diversification, then I believe we would actually incur more risk, not less. Here’s why: all real estate deals have risks, which can be separated into three categories:


  1. Risk in Market and Submarket
  2. Risk in Deal
  3. Risk in Team


By sticking to one market that we know very well and have a proven management team in place with economies of scale, it allows us to mitigate risk factors 2 and 3 – not eliminate, but mitigate. Conversely, if we were to branch outside of one market, we’d have to find the following:


  • Property management – one of the biggest keys to success. Yes, we have a plan, but it must be properly executed
  • Vendor contacts – not as big of a deal if you hire a 3rd party management company since they can provide these contacts, but it is a big deal if you don’t
  • Local legal experts for contracts – a bad one can burn you
  • Knowledge of tax assessments – fairly easy to figure out, but still a learning curve
  • Build a reputation among the brokers – intangible and is vital to finding the best deals


Additionally, we’d have to evaluate and qualify the market and submarket. Basically, we’re opening ourselves up to all three risk factors by branching out. So, when we decide to go deep into one market, the key is to make sure that market is solid.


Here are the primary things I look for in a market:


  • Job diversity – no one industry makes up more than 20% of the jobs
  • Population – growth over the last five years and current projections show a continued growth
  • Supply and demand – look at vacancy trends and absorption rate


Of course, as with all generalizations, there will be exceptions. Here is a couple I can think of:


  • This is only in reference to being an owner/operator (i.e. active investor). If you are a passive investor and can passively invest with multiple owner-operators (i.e. syndication or turnkey companies) who have the systems in place in different markets, then that seems like a good strategy to me. In this scenario, the deal and the team (risk factors 2 and 3) are already given to you. Knowing if they’re good and reputable is something you’d obviously still need to qualify, but it makes conceptual sense to diversify if you’re a passive investor
  • While we are going deep in DFW, that doesn’t mean we’ll always only be in DFW. In fact, we actively get sent deals across the country every week – lots of them. However, in order for us to branch outside of DFW, it’s going to take an extraordinary deal combined with a local expert partner to compel us to pull the trigger.


To summarize, I believe you lower your risk when you go deep in a market. It’s better not to diversify across multiple markets unless the opportunity is significantly better than what you can get in the market in which you are already investing.


What do you think? Should you go big in one market like us, or are you finding success by diversifying across multiple markets?


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3 Investing Secrets from a Nation’s Top Broker

As you complete more and more deals, you will begin to accumulate the insider secrets of what it takes to be a successful investor. Once you’ve eclipsed a billion-dollars’ worth of deals, then those secrets are worth billions too!


Karen Briscoe, a Principal of the Huckaby Briscoe Conroy Group, is an individual full of billion dollar secrets. Her group has sold over 1,000 homes valued over $1 billion. It’s also been named to the Wall Street Journal Top Realtor Team list. Karen condensed these secrets into a published book – Real Estate Success in 5 Minutes a Day: Secrets of a Top Agent Revealed. In our recent conversation, she provided the top three secrets to her success and how you can apply them to your investing business.


Secret #1 – Invest in the up-and-coming markets


Karen’s first secret can be explained through the lyrics of a Frank Sinatra song. “One of the top tips that applies to investors in particular is what I call ‘New York, New York’, the song by Frank Sinatra with the chorus ‘If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere’,” she said. “If you look at the fundamentals of a certain market and you find that investors are being successful in that market, then you want to go to the next market [over], or like Wayne Gretzky says, ‘Go to where the puck is going’ – if you want to go where the market is going, then find the markets that have similar fundamentals but are on the edge, or soon to be the next place where everybody wants to be, because that’s where the best values are.”


This “New York, New York” strategy is followed by corporate giants like Starbucks and McDonalds. They search for the fundamentals and trends that hallmark an emerging market, set up their locations there and wait for the market to surge.


The fundamentals Karen says to looks at are the rental pool, jobs, schools and metro access. Or, for a hack, she said, “you could just apply the Starbucks effect, the Frappuccino effect that is talked about – how there has been found that there’s a halo effect around Starbucks. So, you could maybe go to that next ring around it and look in that area for what is upcoming neighborhoods that could be trending into better values over time.”


For a comprehensive guide for evaluating and selecting a target market, click here.


Secret #2 – Start a meetup group


Karen’s second secret, and my favorite, is to host a meetup or seminar. They type of individuals you’ll invite will depend on your business model and investment niche. As a broker, Karen said, “we’ve done investor seminars in conjunction with local lenders and other professionals like CPAs and financial advisors, because they too have a pool of clients who want to have real estate as part of their portfolio.”


There are many ways to structure a meetup group, and I wrote a piece for Forbes outlining a few successful methods. The main way Karen differentiates her meetup from her competitors is that hers is invite-only. She said, “I know that there are many agents that have done seminars that they open up, but we keep it invitation-only, and then that way these professionals are inviting their clients and offering a value-add service for their clients who have an interest in real estate.”


Secret #3 – Take Immediate Action


Karen’s final secret, which is also her Best Ever advice, is to start now. “There’s a Chinese proverb that the best time to plan a tree was 20 years ago, and the second best time is now,” she said. “I would say the same thing about real estate investing. I think the best time to invest in real estate was 20 years ago, and the next best time is now. I think many people become paralyzed with it, and I’m not discounting the fact that it has a lot of logistics associated with it, but the idea is just find yourself a real estate professional that you trust, find a lender that can work with you on getting financing that you can structure that works for you, and do it.”




Karen Briscoe, a billion-dollar broker, has three secrets to her success. They are:


  • Investing in the up-and-coming markets
  • Hosting an invite-only meetup group
  • Taking immediate action


Apply these secrets to your investment, which may require creativity on your part, and replicate her massive success.


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The 5 Secrets of an Award-Winning Sales Closer

Whether you like it or not, if you’re a real estate investor, you’re a business entrepreneur. And as an entrepreneur, you’ll need to be a proficient salesperson. You’re selling products and services. You’re negotiating on deals. You’re selling yourself to sellers, buyers, investors, brokers, and property managers. Etc. Nearly everything you do requires some variation of sales. Therefore, we can all benefit from learning about the most up-to-date best practices in sales.


Stephanie Chung, an award-winning executive coach with 25 years of team management, business development and sales experience, is an expert at teaching others how to improve their sales skills. In our recent conversation, she provide her top five sales tips for selling high-ticket items, like real estate.


1 – Ask, don’t tell


First, ask a lot of questions. Stephanie said, “the fact of the matter is the best people in sales are the ones who do a lot of asking and very little telling… You want to focus on asking your questions, and not surface stuff but getting down into the core.”


You want to ask a lot of questions because the more questions you ask, the more information you’ll obtain. “If you ask people enough questions, they’ll tell you everything you ever wanted to know about them,” Stephanie said.


There are also scientific reasons for why asking questions is the ideal sales approach. Stephanie said, “you and I can probably talk at a speed of – if we’re lucky – 300 words per minute. That’s how fast we can speak. But the brain can process anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 words per minute. So, the reason why you don’t want to be the one talking all the time and you want to be the one asking is because you have the unfair advantage based on you being the asker and the buyer having to speak.”


Your unfair advantage is that as they are speaking, not only can you process the words they’re speaking, but you can also analyze their body language and tone, which helps you guide the conversation in the right direction.


Also, Stephanie said “another reason why you do it is when you ask someone a question, especially if you’re asking them a question about themselves, the fact of the matter is the brain produces like a dopamine effect. That’s why we all like to talk about ourselves; we actually feel good about it.”


Essentially, the more questions you ask, the more information you’ll obtain and the better the customer will feel, which are the keys to identifying their needs, building rapport and making the sale.


2 – Control your financial beliefs


Secondly, you need to gain control over your own financial beliefs. “We all have them,” Stephanie said. “We were brought up, and it’s a matter of how we were brought up in our home. Were we brought up where money was based on scarcity? ‘Turn those lights off, money doesn’t grow on tree.’ Or were we brought up where money has spoken about in abundance?”


We all have our own financial beliefs and must ensure that we never let our beliefs leak into the conversation. “Unless you grow up around money, which most people did not, it can sabotage the results and sabotage the sales, and you end up actually not selling the high dollar, but you come in and you settle for something less, because that’s where you’re comfortable,” Stephanie said.


To keep your financial beliefs out of the conversation, you need to focus all of your attention on the buyer. Stephanie said, “you really want to be about the buyer in front of you. The more you can focus on what exactly do they need – not so much what I feel comfortable selling them, but what they need. When you can focus on that, then the conversations takes a whole different direction.”


The example she provided was about a company who sold memberships between $50,000 and $100,000. Stephanie discovered that the top sales person would often times sell the $50,000 membership when the $100,000 membership would have better suited the customer. Their reasoning was that they believed they could get in the door with the less expensive $50,000 membership and sell the higher end $100,000 membership at a later date. So, they were relying on their own beliefs rather than the actual needs of the customer. Instead, they should have left their beliefs at the door, focused on the customer’s need and sold the $100,000 membership from the start.


3 – Exude confidence


Third, exude confidence. And this is mostly accomplished by knowing your product or service inside and out. “Long gone are those days that you could wing it,” Stephanie said. “What’s going to separate us [from the competition] is our ability to get the job done for our results, and knowing our stuff, and having that swagger, if you will; you’re confident.”


She said, “you’ve got to know your stuff, you’ve got to stand firm on whatever your price is, and you have to have that air about you – not arrogance, because nobody likes that, right? But you definitely have to have that air about you where they feel comfortable that you’re competent in what it is that you do.”


Since we’re supposed to be asking questions, you’ll show your confidence by asking high quality questions. “You want to be able to ask those questions that get your buyer to literally stop for a second and go ‘Huh? I’ve never thought of that before,’ or ‘That’s a good question.’ You want that awkward silence, and that’s when you know you’re really getting somewhere, because everyone else is asking the normal questions,” Stephanie said.


4 – Call out stall tactics


Next, do not crumble in the face of stall tactics. Stephanie said, “We always know it’s never about the money, but a lot of times people will use stall tactics – ‘Let me talk to my wife, let me talk to my investor, let me talk to my dog…’ That’s just stall tactics, they don’t need to talk to anybody, so always keep that in mind.”


When someone uses a stall tactic, she said your comeback should be “That’s great, it makes complete sense. Just for my own knowledge though, can you tell me specifically what is it that you need to think about specifically?” That way, you know what their true objection is and can work on addressing it.


“Don’t just let people off the hook when they say that. Always know there’s no such thing as next week,” Stephanie said. “So, narrow them down. ‘Great, would you like me to call you Tuesday? I’ve got Tuesday at 2 or 4.’ Narrow that next week stuff down.”


5 – Proactively address objections


Lastly, control the narrative by using what Stephanie calls the pre-emptive strike – proactively addressing your top objections. “We’ve all been in business, and that’s to know that we’re going to get the same one or two objections all the time. So what you want to do – this comes with your confidence and you being in control, and your swagger – is bring up the objection ahead of time.”


For example, Stephanie is one of the more expensive coaches in her area. When someone calls and asks about her coaching services, she always brings up her pricing. She’ll say, “Something you need to know is I’m actually one of the more expensive executive coaches in the area, but here’s why.” She brings up the objection to control the narrative. That way, she’s not on the defensive or stumbling over herself trying to answer it. “You bring it up, you’re in control, you’ve got the confidence, and it will usually go really well because they appreciate the fact that you brought up the objection.”




The five secrets of sales, especially for high-ticket items, are:


  • Ask, don’t tell
  • Control your financial beliefs
  • Exude confidence
  • Call out stall tactics
  • Proactively address objections



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5 Steps to Become an Unstoppable Real Estate Investor

We’ve all heard the concept “it’s 80% mental and 20% physical,” or some variation applied to nearly every endeavor under the sun – sports, business, relationships, etc. And I’ve even heard some people say that it’s upwards of 90% mental.


If that is true, then how we should enhance on our mindset and psychology?


Everyone has their go-to technique. But Tina Greenbaum, a peak performance and executive coach and a dynamic optimal performance workshop leader, has created a tried and true five step process – which has improved the mindset of business leaders, athletes, artists, and speakers over the past 30 years – for developing an unstoppable mindset.


Tina said, “Any kind of business that you’re going to invest money in, you take a risk. And in order to take a risk, we’re now in the unknown. We take what we call calculated risks, we kind of do our homework and put our money where we think that it’s going to make money for us, but the truth is we don’t know what’s actually going happen tomorrow, none of us do. So, when we get caught up in trying to control the future, we get into trouble.”


In order to provide you with the techniques required to successfully navigate the unknown, In our recent conversation, Tina outlined her five-step curriculum for cultivating your mindset.

1 – Focus on what you want


Number one, and the foundation to the entire process, is focus. Tina said, for almost everything we do, “We kind of lose focus, we bring it back, we get distracted, we bring it back.” So, the question you need to ask yourself is, what do I focus on? Or, am I focusing on what I am supposed to be? Also, what happens to you when you lose focus? And how do you even know when you aren’t paying attention?


A really important concept, Tina said, is “whatever we focus on expands.” So, if we are focusing on the wrong thing, or constantly lose our focus, or are unaware of what we are focusing on, that’s what our experience of life is going to be.


To work on honing your focus, Tina said, “as the day goes on, or you’re with family, or you’ve in a business meeting, just notice, ‘How am I talking to myself?’ because you’ve got to be your own best friend.”


I find that the remaining four steps are a continuation of this step. They will guide you towards maximizing the amount of time spent focusing on the right things, and minimizing the time spent focusing on the wrong things or being unaware of what it is you’re focusing on, which is the key to the unstoppable mindset.


2 – Relaxation to eliminate negative emotions in the moment


Next is relaxation. Tina is a firm believer in the mind/body connection. She said, “in order to manage stress, we have to be able to manage our nervous system. And in order to manage our nervous system, we have to know how to do that.”


“If our system is on overload, we can’t think clearly. So, if you’re in a negotiation and you want to have your best foot forward, you want to be very grounded and you want to know exactly what you’re taking in, and be conscious of what’s happening internally.”


Tina provided a relaxation exercise called the three-step breath that – when practiced repetitively – will allow you to instantly calm down your nervous system when you get anxious, worried, etc. I recommend listening to that part of the podcast here, but here is a summary:


  • Place your hands on your belly, breath in through your nose, and allow your belly to fill up. Then, let out all the breath before you take in the next breath. In through your nose, out through your nose.
  • Once you’ve mastered the belly breath, repeat the same process, but this time, the first half of the breath should fill up the belly and the second half should fill up your rib cage. Then breathe out, letting the belly go first, followed by the rib cage.
  • Once you’ve mastered the belly-rib breath, repeat the same process, but this time, the first third of the breath should fill up the belly, the next third is the rib cage, and the finally third is the upper chest. On the breath out, let the belly go first, followed by the rib cage, followed by the upper chest.


Tina said, “if you’re starting to feel anxious and you’re not sure which way to go and what you want to say, you just take a moment, nobody will see it; you don’t have to put your hands on your body, just take a nice deep breath, let it go, and all of a sudden now your mind is back.”


3 – Use mindfulness to create an emotional vocabulary


Three is mindfulness. Tina said, “we operate, automatic, but there’s so much going on; there’s so much under the surface that if you become a student of really being curious [and mindful] about your own unconscious material, your own self, what’s driving you, what’s calling you, what are you scared of? How do I react in a certain situation? What kind of negotiator am I? What is my tolerance for risk? What happens when I feel I am over the line, I’m risking too much?”


Again, like relaxation, building up your mindfulness muscle takes practice. You can perform mindfulness mediation, where you sit and pay attention to everything that comes into your awareness. Or, more practically, when you are feeling a strong emotion, anxiety, stress, etc., notice the sensations it gives your body. Then, Tina said, “once I learn to identify what those sensations mean to me, then I’ve got a new language.”


4 – Eliminate negative self-talk and take responsibility


Four is your self-talk. “Negative self-talk,” Tina said. “Sometimes we get really annoyed with ourselves. ‘Ugh, I can’t believe I did that’, or ‘That was really stupid.’ Or ‘I don’t really have anything to say here.’ There’s a million different ways that we undo ourselves. So again, if we don’t even know how we’re talking to ourselves, then the mind just does what it does – you’ve heard the term ‘monkey mind’, it jumps all over the place. [If] it’s not managed, it’s not controlled.”


This brings us back to focus. If we focus on the negative self-talk, we will self-sabotage ourselves – sometimes without even being aware of it.


Sometimes, our self-talk may not be negatively directed towards us, but towards others. The example Tina provided was bringing a package to the post office on Saturday at [12:10]pm and getting there to realize it closed at noon. Negative self-talk would be beating yourself up for being the idiot that didn’t realize the post office was closed, blaming the post office for not adhering to your schedule, or cursing the universe. Instead, Tina said, “you could say to yourself … that ‘I take responsibility for my own experience. I am in charge of what happens to me. I’m in charge of what I create.”


Taking responsibility for everything negative that happens will ultimately lead you to asking yourself how you may have played a part in creating the dilemma. In the post office example, it is your fault for not looking up the operating hours. Then, once you identify your level of culpability and a solution, now you have a new piece of information you didn’t have before, and you should never face this predicament again.


Now, use that concept of taking responsibility, determining how you played a role, identifying the solution and apply it moving forward to everything you do rather than falling down the negative self-talk rabbit hole.


5 – Create Powerful Visualizations


Finally, create powerful visualizations. Imagine the way you want your life to be and where you want to go. You may not have a clue of how you will get there, but once you have a vision in place, Tina said, “ask yourself ‘is what I’m doing going to take me to that end result? … Am I moving in that direction, or am I way off? Am I just kind of getting lost in making agreements and decisions about things that don’t take me where I want?’… If our whole body and our minds are in alignment and we’re looking at what we want to create – again, everything that we focus on expands – and we use the power of visualization, you can create a visualization and even if it hasn’t happened yet, your brain already has had that experience … and then we walk it.”


While you should create visualizations for your overarching vision, this technique has day-to-day applications as well. Tina said, “every time I do a workshop, or I’m getting ready to do a talk, or a lecture, I sit down in the morning and I visualize, ‘what do I want to create? What’s the environment that I want to create? What do I want to have happen?’, and I walk through it step-by-step. And then when I’m actually doing it, it’s like I’ve been there.”




Mastery coach Tina Greenbaum’s five-part curriculum for creating an unstoppable mind is:


  • Focus on what you want
  • Relaxation to eliminate negative emotions in the moment
  • Use mindfulness to construct an emotional vocabulary
  • Eliminate negative self-talk and take responsibility
  • Create powerful visualizations


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How to Get Deals from the #1 Broker in Your Market

If you’re currently active in the real estate market, whether you’re an experienced investor or in the process of doing your first project, you can relate with the fact that it’s extremely difficult to find deals that pencil in.


A great approach to find cash flowing deals in a hot market is to partner with a local brokerage. But not just any brokerage. Good brokers are a dime a dozen. Because of the nature of the current real estate market, you want to partner with the number 1 brokerage in your market. Someone who has an established track record and a market strategy that locates the best deals in the market.


Samer Kuraishi, a broker who manages a team of over 40 agents and has done over $800 million in sales since 2012, is the type of broker you want to partner with. Samer and his team have ranked number one in the extremely competitive Washington, DC market for four years in a row. In our recent conversation, he explained how he qualifies interested investors who want to leverage his team to find deals.


When interviewing a broker, regardless of the current market conditions, it is important to realize that the ensuing relationship will be reciprocal. They are interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them. However, when you are pursuing a relationship with the number one broker in the market, the pendulum swings more to the side of the broker interviewing you. Therefore, with Samer being such a high caliber broker, his investor qualification process can give you a clear understanding of the types of questions you should be prepared to answer when asking for a top broker’s business. Here are the five main questions he asks when qualifying a potential investor as a client.


Question #1 – Have you completed a deal before?


Samer said, “my first question is ‘have you ever done this before?’ You want to kind of gauge who you’re dealing with. Everybody wants to be an investor, everyone watches the HGTV shows and everyone wants to make some type of money.”


If you haven’t done a deal before, you will probably have an issue working with the number one broker in the market. However, you can offset your lack of experience by talking up the expertise of your team – property manager, mentor/advisors, etc. – and their past business success.


Questions #2 – Can you send me examples of what you’ve done?


For investors who’ve completed a deal, Samer said, “I usually ask them to send me some of [their] properties. ‘Can you show me examples of what you’ve done? What did you buy that for? What did you end up making? Were you happy with that investment?’ Because you have to understand what they are used to.”


Since you know these questions are coming, you should proactively address them prior to meeting with the broker. Review the numbers on your previous deals to refresh your memory, or – even better – create a print out that shows the outcome of your deals.


Question #3 – Do you understand the market?


Samer also wants to know the investors knowledge of the market. He said he’ll ask, “Do they even understand this market, or are they coming from a different city that’s across the county and they’re coming here? Do they even understand the price points?”


The number one broker in the market is not going to want to take the time to educate you on the ins and outs of the market. Therefore, performing a market evaluation, and maybe even preparing a market summary, is advised.


Questions #4 – How would you finance a potential deal?


Additionally, Samer will question an investor about their financing situation. “Is it your money that you’re deal with? What type of financing are you doing? Are you getting a loan? Are you paying cash? If you’re paying cash, is it your capital?”


Ultimately, the number one broker will want to confirm that you are capable of financing a deal and that you are the main decision maker. They likely won’t have the patience to work with someone who can’t close or to play the game of telephone to reach the person who call the shots.


Questions #5 – What are your goals?


Lastly, Samer wants to know about the investors goals. This includes their overarching vision, but also their deal criteria. For example, if an investor is looking for distressed properties, Samer wants to know if they have their own contractor and construction crew, or is that something they will be asking Samer to provide? Or, if they want to invest $500,000, do they have realistic expectations for the property type and size and returns from that sized investment?




If you want to find deals in a hot market, partner with the best brokerage in your market. However, unlike your typical broker conversation, the outcome depends heavily on your answers to their questions, rather than the other way around.


Samer Kuraishi, the number one broker in Washington, DC, asks these five questions when interviewing an investor who is interested in becoming a client:


  • Have you completed a deal before?
  • Can you send me examples of deals you’ve done?
  • Do you understand the market?
  • How would you finance a potential deal?
  • What are your goals?


Expect these questions going into the interview and prepare accordingly.



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How to Approach Hiring an Apartment Property Manager

As an apartment syndicator, one of the most important members of your team is a property management company. A property manager will obviously manage the apartment for you upon closing, but a great property manager should offer additional services. They should advise on attractive or struggling neighborhoods within your market, offer locations of prospective properties based on your business model, and even provide pro formas (projected financials) on prospective properties based on how they would manage.


During the process of hiring a property management company, it’s important to realize that the relationship goes both ways. A prestigious management company will have other investors swarming them for business. Therefore, this must be taken into account when preparing for an interview, because you are being analyzed as well.


What follows are the best practices for approaching these property management interviews. First, I will provide a list of questions you need to ask, followed by an outline for winning them over, and finally, a list of questions you should be prepared to answer.


Questions to Ask a Property Management Company


Prior to conducting your interview, you need to define an outcome. Or in this case, a few outcomes. Obviously, your main objective is to find the right property management company that fits your style, business plan and budget. To accomplish this objective, here is a list of 32 questions to ask during the interview:


  • How long have you been in business?
  • What geographic area/s do you cover?
  • How many units do you manage?
  • How many properties does each regional office manage?
  • How many do you own yourself?
  • Do you specialize or concentrate in a particular class of property?
  • What kind of due diligence services do you provide? What is the potential cost if the deal doesn’t close?
  • Do you take on value-add properties?
  • Describe your process for managing a moderate property renovation (How is the status of the work tracked? Who manages the contractors? How are invoices tracked and verified against bids? Who approves the work before the contractor is paid? What fees do you charge for renovation/cap ex expenses?)
  • What are some of the names of nearby properties that you are currently managing?
  • Has your firm been sued by one of its clients in the last 5 years?
  • Have you managed any properties that went into foreclosure and if so, why do you feel this happened?
  • What special training do your managers receive from your company?
  • How do you manage a property’s online reputation?
  • What do you see as the on-site manager’s duties? (turnover, cleaning, repair)
  • Can I interview and approve the on-site manager?
  • What kind of relationship do you want your property manager to have with the owner?
  • How often do you communicate with owners?
  • What is the protocol for communication? Will I be talking to you, the regional or the property manager?
  • Will you provide a written management plan?
  • What % of gross rent do you charge for management fee?
  • What is included with the monthly management fee?
  • Which property management software do you use?
  • How much time do you typically take to do a make ready?
  • Can tenants pay with auto-withdrawal? What other methods are available to them?
  • Do you require me to list the property with you upon its sale?
  • Will you give me your cell phone number or home number?
  • What are some of the reasons we should use your company?
  • What are the growth goals of your company over the next 5 years?
  • Describe some of your weaknesses and how you hope to improve?
  • Can you send me some redacted financial statements of properties you’re managing?
  • Can you give me contact information for 3 current clients who have buildings like mine?



How to Win Over the Property Management Company


Again, when interviewing a property management company, remember that they are interviewing you too. They want to be confident that if they bring you on as a client, you will satisfy their business needs.


Since property management companies are typically paid a percentage of rental income, their main motivator is to have a client that will close on a deal. At the same time, they don’t want a client with unrealistic expectations of the services they will offer, or to not get fairly compensated.


Besides finding a property management company to bring on your team, your other objective is to get them to let you send them deals and offer their expert advice. So, they will only agree to this if you are able to prove that you are capable of fulfilling their wants. You must convey that you are a credible investor who is serious about closing on a deal so that they are confident that you can fulfill their business want. Therefore, prior to asking if you can get their feedback on prospective deals, you need to prove your worthiness. They will accomplish this by asking you questions. However, you can be proactive during the conversation by selling yourself, your relevant experience and/or your team.


If you have past investing experience, you shouldn’t have an issue selling yourself. If you don’t however, what relevant experience do you have that will convey to the property management company that you are serious about closing deals? Have you successfully completed projects in a non-real estate related field? Have you started a business in the past?


If you are struggling to come up with relevant experiences, this is where having a reputable team comes into play. Sell your team members. Talk about your real estate mentor or advisor’s real estate experience. Tell them about the number of apartments that your broker has closed on. And bring up any other relevant relationships you’ve formed.


Finally, I recommend preparing an opening statement or elevator pitch. If you already have a deal in the pipeline, say “I’m buying a property in (city name) and am in the process of making offers.” Or another example if you don’t have a deal is saying, “I’m working with ABC broker and will be buying a property in (city name) in the next few months.” Then say, “I’ve done my research on you and would love to learn a little more about you.”


You need to get their attention by conveying that you are interested in doing business with them first. Then, you can ask about sending them prospective deals and getting their feedback.


Questions to be Prepared to Answer


To qualify you as an investor, an interest property management company will pepper you with questions too. Here is a list of 7 potential questions you should be prepared to answer during the interview:


  • Who is your broker?
  • Have you (or someone one your team) purchased an apartment building before?
  • What types of properties are you looking for? What markets/neighborhoods are you looking in?
  • How did you find me?
  • Are you currently working with any other property management companies?
  • What are your expectations for a property management company’s duties and obligations?
  • Can I see a biography of you and your partners?


As you interview management companies, if you cannot answer a question, make a note and tell them you will find the answer as soon as the meeting is over and send it to them.



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Why and How to Hire the Best Real Estate CPA

If you don’t want to have a heart attack in ten years, or maybe even sooner, I highly recommend hiring a CPA and bookkeeper.


When searching for CPA, first and foremost, you want to make sure they already work with clients who are doing what you are doing, which in my case are apartment investors, or more specifically, apartment syndicators. Therefore, the first question I would ask in an introductory email or phone call is, do you currently work with other apartment syndicators?*


*If you aren’t an apartment syndicator, whenever it is referenced in this post, exchange it out with your focus. The process can be applied to hiring a CPA in any niche.


If they don’t know what apartment syndications is, that’s obviously an indicator that they don’t work with syndicators.


If they know what apartment syndication is, but they don’t work with any syndicators, that’s not necessarily a deal breaker. However, I would recommend finding someone else because you don’t want them learning the ins-and-outs of apartment syndication on your dime. You want a CPA who already knows the types of tax deductions you can take and knows the apartment syndication business model.


If they do know what apartment syndication is AND they currently represent syndicators, then the next step is scheduling an in-person interview, with the purpose of getting into their tactics. To accomplish this goal, ask the following 9 questions:


  • How are your fees structured? Get an understanding of exactly how you will be charge. Will there be fees for each time you call in? Can you give them a quick call every now and then and not be charged? Do their fees include the tax return at the end of the year or is that separate? Do they charge a monthly retainer for conversations? How do they structure bookkeeping fees?


  • Who will be your point person? When you sign up for their services, who will you be engaging with? Will it be someone right out of college, a partner, or a mid-level CPA?


  • How conservative or aggressive are you with the tax positions you take? Additionally, does the conservative/aggressive nature of the CPA align with your desires? If taking aggressive stances, how will that be communicated to you for you to understand and accept? You may rely on the CPA to prepare your tax returns, but ultimately when you sign your tax return, you are taking responsibility for it.


  • Does the CPA offer a secure portal to transfer sensitive files back and forth? Tax documents contain a lot of personally identifiable information (social security numbers, adjusted gross income, etc.) via regular email. Stolen identifies can wreak havoc on your personal and professional lives for years


  • How proactive are you with tax planning and how to your tax planning services work?


  • Are you able to file tax returns for all state and local governments in the country?


  • If you previously had a failed relationship with another CPA, be upfront with your new prospective CPA about why it failed


  • What is expect of me as a client? Expectations should be set early and communicated clearly


  • May I have some references? No matter how great the interview goes, always ask for references in order to make sure they are legitimate.


After interviewing a handful of CPAs, analyze their responses, determine which one aligns with your interests and goals the most and move forward with using their services.


One final note about CPAs/bookkeepers: as your business grows, your needs evolve. Moreover, a CPA who you selected as a beginner wholesaler may not be the best CPA after you’re wholesale business has grown dramatically, or if your business model has expanded to include other niches. So, as these changes occur, it may make sense to conduct additional interviews – even if only to confirm that you’re current CPA is still the proper choice – and make any personnel changes if necessary.


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The Ultimate Guide to Finding an Apartment Broker

One of the real estate professionals you want as a part of your real estate team is a broker. A great broker is one that sends you deals, and more specifically, sends you off-market deals. However, like all relationships, it must be reciprocal. Most likely, the broker will have countless investors asking them for deals. Therefore, when approaching a conversation with a new broker, it is important to realize that they are interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them.


Read on for tips on how to approach these broker conversations. First, I will provide a list of questions you need to ask them. Next, I will outline how you can win the broker over to your side by focusing on coming across as a serious, credible investor who will close a deal. Finally, I will provide a list of questions the broker may ask and that you should be prepared to answer.


Questions to Ask the Broker


When interviewing a broker, you need to know your outcome of the conversation. For me, as an apartment syndicator, my main goal is to determine their level of experience and success with apartment communities that are comparable to my investment criteria.


To accomplish this goal, here is a list of 11 questions to ask during the interview:


  1. What is your transaction volume?
  2. How many successful closes have you experienced in the last year?
  3. How long have you been working as an agent? How long have you focused on apartments?
  4. How many listing do you currently have?
  5. How do you find deals?
  6. Do you offer both on-market and off-market deals?
  7. What stage is the local apartment market in?
  8. What is your specialty?
  9. What are the top three things that separate you from your competition?
  10. Will you please provide references?
  11. What haven’t I asked you that I need to know?


Ideally, we want to find a broker that will send us an endless supply of off-market apartment deals. However, don’t bank on this, especially in the beginning phases of the relationship. But after you’ve proven to the broker that you’re the real deal, successfully closing on a few deals, it will become more and more likely that you will be the first person who is notified when they have a new off-market deal. It just comes with time.


How Do I Win Over a Broker?


Again, when interviewing a broker, it’s important to realize that they are interviewing you too. Therefore, put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself “what are they looking for when deciding whether or not to bring on a new client?”


Since brokers are paid a commission at the sale of a property, their number one motivator is to close on a deal as quickly and as easily as possible. They don’t like tire kickers, wannabe investors who waste their time asking a bunch of questions but never close on a deal. Their ideal client is an investor who has a proven track record of closing on deals. So, if you don’t have previous investing experience, that will be your number one challenge.


To win over a broker during a conversation, you need to sell yourself and your business and build rapport. If you have past investing experience, you shouldn’t have an issue selling yourself. If you don’t however, what relevant experience do you have that will convey to the broker that you are serious about closing deals? Have you successfully completed projects in a non-real estate related field? Have you started a business in the past?


If you are struggling to come up with relevant experiences, this is where having a reputable team comes into play. Sell your team members. Talk about your real estate mentor or advisor’s real estate experience. Tell them about the number of apartments your property management company manages. And bring up any other relevant relationships you’ve formed (i.e. contractors, attorneys, CPAs, your meetup group or thought leadership platform, etc.)


Along with the asking them business questions, to build rapport, get to know something personal about them. Find out something that’s important to them and bring it up with genuine interest next time you meet. A quick way to accomplish this is to ask, after having already established yourself, “what’s been the highlight of your week?”


Finally, I recommend preparing an opening statement or elevator pitch. If you already have a deal in mind, you can say, “I’d like to discuss making an offering on ABC apartment.” Or, another example would be saying “I am working with ABC Property Management and will be buying a property in (city name) in the next few months.” The purpose of the opening statement is to grab the attention of the broker, come across as a serious investor, and address their “want” – which is to close on an apartment – from the start.


Questions to be Prepared to Answer


Don’t expect the broker to simply answer your questions, chat about their business and personal life and then get up and walk away. If they are seriously interested in bringing you on as a client, they will want to ask you questions as well. Therefore, you need to proactively brainstorm questions they may ask and have ready-made answers.


Here is a list of 9 potential questions an interested broker will ask you during the interview:


  1. Who is your property management company?
  2. How many units to they manage?
  3. Are they local?
  4. Have you (or someone on your team) purchased an apartment building before?
  5. What type of deals are you looking for? What markets are you looking in?
  6. How did you find me?
  7. Will you sign an exclusive agreement with me so I can get you the best deals?
  8. What are your expectations?
  9. Can I see a biography of you and your partners?


And as you interview brokers, if you are asked questions you’re not prepared to answer, make a note and tell them you will find that answer right after the meeting and send them an answer.


In today’s market, buyers are a dime a dozen. So, many brokers will simply brush off an investor who is looking to purchase deals. Ultimately, a broker will bring more deals to buyers that they like to work with, and the types of buyers that like to work with are the ones who will close and not lose a deal due to inexperience, laziness or passivity. However, by following the approach outlined above, you will come across as a credible investor who can make aggressive offers and back them up by closing the deal.


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The Fundamentals of Scaling a Business: Q&A w/ BiggerPockets CEO Josh Dorkin

Josh Dorkin knows a thing or two about growing a business. Not only is he the CEO of BiggerPockets, which boasts more than 825,000 members and landed at #400 on the Inc. 5000, but he also produces the top-rated real estate podcast on iTunes, which raked in $7 million in ad revenue last year, and founded a publishing firm.


I had the opportunity to pick Josh’s brain (part 1 and part 2) for his Best Ever entrepreneurial success habits.


Read on for Josh’s advice on growing a company, his Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever, his morning routine, and more.



Is there one person that sticks out in your memory as having been helped by BiggerPockets in all the work that you have done?


The one person that sticks out, the instant answer to that is Brandon Turner. Those of you who are unfamiliar, Brandon Turner is co-host of The BiggerPockets Podcast. He works for us, and initially, when I came to know Brandon years and years ago, he was a user on our platform; he was trying to find financial freedom and used the BiggerPockets platform to get there.


He was the pure representation of who we were and what we strived for. He was this guy living in the Pacific North-West who had been kind of floundering around in his life. He was trying to figure it out, like the rest of us. He came across BiggerPockets and the idea of real estate, and used BiggerPockets to help him build this passive portfolio of real estate.


Of course, living in the area that he lived in, he was at a point where he no longer needed a job. He had created that freedom for himself. He was writing for BiggerPockets, and at that time I was in need of help. I needed to hire somebody to come and join me as my first employee, and we got to know each other and I brought him on.


Brandon really just is that pure representation of who we are, but there’s countless stories. Not a day goes by where we don’t hear from somebody who’s like “You guys are transforming my life. You guys are helping me out. You guys have helped me quit my job” or “Helped me retire” or “Helped me build income for my family”, or whatever it is. That’s why we do it. We’re here to help people succeed.



What are the 3-5 most important things in your experience to growing and scaling a company?


One, having a good idea that’s scalable – start there.


Two, having some kind of plan, whether or not it’s written… I don’t think you need necessarily a written plan from zero (I didn’t).


Three, your business has to solve some kind of need for the customer that somebody else is not serving. I say that out loud and I think about McDonald’s versus Burger King. Burger King is solving a need, McDonald’s is solving the same need, but now it’s flavor choices, right? So, do you like A or B better? But having a USD (unique selling proposition), something that is unique or that you believe to be unique about what it is that you’re doing – you’re building, you’re offering service, products, you name it.


Four, being passionate, or having a team of people that are absolutely passionate about that idea. It’s pretty rare to see successful companies get to a point of success where the founders or creators or people running the show that don’t have some kind of passion for it, it’s too hard; it’s too much work, it’s too difficult to struggle through that without having that passion. Also, having a dedication to people and to your own people. You can’t build a scaling company without taking care of people, and I’m saying that and I can think of examples of companies where they have a really crappy culture and I’m like “Hmm, maybe not…”, but at the end of the day I think what goes around, comes around.


Five, I think something that we didn’t do in the past – and by “we” I mean businesses in general – is becoming very data-oriented. Metrics and data and understanding your business from a data perspective. I think you often see small businesses where they don’t get it struggling a lot. Knowing your numbers — let’s take real estate investors. If you’re a real estate investor and you market by mail, if you don’t know your send and open rates and your cost per send and your funnels, you’re just throwing money out the window. You don’t know what you’re doing, you have no way to measure whether or not what you’re doing is successful or not.



What feature of the BiggerPockets platform do you think is most underutilized?


I would have to say the member notes. Here’s what member notes are – you can go to anybody’s profile and take a note on them. I can go to your profile, Joe, and make a note and say “Yeah, Joe and I had a conversation about X, Y and Z.” Only I can see it, nobody else can see it on the platform. It’s almost like a mini CRM, right? The next time I come back and the next time I interact with you I can be like, “Hey, Joe… Remember we talked about X, Y and Z the last time we connected?”


I think partially that’s due to people not knowing what it is. We have not updated that in a very long time; we are working on some really nice and sexy redesigns of certain parts of the site, including user profiles and our onboarding, and as part of that, I think we’re going to be creating a little more clarity in that tool. I think it’s extremely useful, I use it all the time. I talk to you about whatever I talk to you about, I put it on there, and the next time I come back and I’m ready to talk to you again, I know exactly what we chatted about.



When you were considering starting BiggerPockets, what was a number one fear holding you back from starting?


There was no fear that held me back from starting. I didn’t start BiggerPockets to create a business. I started BiggerPockets to help me stop screwing up in real estate. So, my biggest fear was continuing to screw up in real estate.


There was nothing that was kind of “Alright, if I create this thing and nobody shows up, then nobody shows up. I’ll figure something else out, I’ll find my answers in some other way.”



How has podcasting enhanced your business and opened up doors and connections that you wouldn’t have had otherwise?


I think by having a big show that has a big audience, it gives you the ability to talk to and reach out to people who you may not have had the opportunity to do that with. So, it builds your name, it builds your brand, and especially if you do a good job and stay true to who you are and what you’re doing, then ideally that continues.


I’ve gotten to talk to authors that I may have not otherwise met. There’s not a show that we have where I don’t learn something. So, for me as a person not affiliated with BiggerPockets, it’s so powerful. And as the CEO of BiggerPockets, obviously having those people and those stories inspire other people is also so powerful.



What are your morning routines or daily practices that you do on a regular basis?


I go back and forth with a miracle morning – or non-miracle morning – routine; it depends how spent or burnt out I am. I don’t ever get up and then go to my phone, or go to my internet or anything like that. I like to get up, I like to stretch. On the good mornings, I like to exercise. This is all before anyone else in the house is awake.


Then get up, get dressed, do my thing, take care of my kids, get them ready for school, driving to school, and then at that point I will look at work. I don’t do work before my kids are off to school; I’m there, I’m present… I’m not playing on my phone, stressing about e-mails, dealing with any of that stuff. The morning is for me, followed by family, and then I head to work, and then work begins. After work, when I get home – four, five, six o’clock, whenever it is, I’m present again; phone’s away, not working. I may jump on social media from time to time, because it’s a hobby, but I’m not doing work per se until my kids are asleep. Family time is family time, and then when the kids go to bed, I usually like to thaw for a little bit, and then maybe I’ll do some work, as needed.


It’s very different than had you asked that question four years ago, which would have been “I get up, I work, I take a shower, I work some more while my kids are getting fat (or whatever) and then I leave to work, and then I come home and I work, and then I work through dinner, and then after dinner I continue to work, and even though I’m with my family, I’m not there.” I came to the realization that I was doing that, and hated myself for it, and said “This is just not who I want to be. I am a father first and foremost, and my family is the most important thing to me and my life, so I’m not going to let anything, especially my company, get in between that.”.


On those good mornings, when I’m fully miracle-morning-ing, I don’t actually do the full miracle morning, which refers to a book called The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, for those of you who don’t know… But I’ll stretch, I’ll do some meditation, I’ll do some exercise, and I’ll do some reading. Those tend to be the four things that I do.



What’s your Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever?


Figure out your why. Why is it that you’re getting into this for? If you don’t have a strong why, then you’re not ready to begin. If you’re already an investor and you’re thinking about scaling your business or growing your business, what’s the why? What’s driving you? What’s motivating you? Because if you don’t have it, do you know who’s not going to have it? Your partner, your spouse, your family. So, you’d better have a solid why that everybody can buy into, because otherwise there’s going to be opposition at every step from those people who should be supporting you.



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50/50 Goals: Turning Short-Term Failures into Long-term Wins

The concept of 50/50 goals is that 50% of a goal’s success is based on achieving the quantifiable outcome and 50% is based on identifying a lesson or skill that you can apply to your business to improve results in the long run. As opposed to 100% of a goal’s success being determined by the achievement of the specific target.


For example, let’s say you set a goal to syndicate 5 deals this year, but you only complete 3. If 100% of your success is tied to completing 5 deals, then you’ve failed. You feel discouraged and letdown. Maybe you even drop out of the investment game all together. However, if 50% of your goal is completing 5 deals and 50% is the takeaways you can apply to your business moving forward, you are successful, or at least “feel” successful. By going through the entire process of closing 3 deals, the experience gained, lessons learned, and new skills adopted will have a positive effect on the business 1, 5, and 10 years down the road, even though you technically failed to meet your short-term goal.


Since we are committed to long-term success and thinking in terms of decades and not years, these skills and lessons can be, and likely will be, more important than the quantifiable result, especially in your early years. It is like the compound interest effect, but instead of money, it’s skills. If you learn a skill year one, it’s a part of your repertoire indefinitely. For example, you create a podcast and your goal is to record a podcast once a week for a year. But at the end of the year, you only recorded 40. Again, if you’re success is 100% dependent on recording 52 podcast episodes, you’ve failed. However, with the 50/50 goals concept, all the skills you obtained and relationships created account for 50% of your success, and will likely have a greater long-term impact on both your podcast and your business than not having launched the podcast at all.


Back to the first example, if you fail to complete your 5 syndication deals, but on your third deal, you met a 5-star property management company, that additional team member may earn you more money in the long run than you would have made on those two extra deals without finding the manager.


Ultimately, this concept, and the resulting mentality shift, allows you to approach situations with a “glass half full” mindset rather than “glass half empty” mindset. Two people who set the same goal and achieve the same quantifiable outcome (i.e. 3 syndication deals in one year instead of 5) can feel the exact opposite. The individual whose success is 100% dependent on completing 5 deals will feel awful. Whereas the individual whose success is 50% dependent on completing 5 deals and 50% dependent on identifying skills to apply moving forward will identify what they did right, what they did wrong, what they need to do more of, and what they need to do less of, and will feel motivated going into the next year.


Reframe the way you look at goals. No longer think of success as being 100% dependent on reaching a specific outcome. Instead, cut that in half and focus the other 50% on identifying systems, skills, techniques, or lessons learned from the process of striving for a specific outcome.


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How to Approach Hiring a Real Estate Investing Mentor

Ask a successful investor for their opinion on hiring a mentor and you’re not likely going to receive the same answer twice. One investor will swear by mentors, saying it’s impossible to reach the highest levels of success without one. Another investor will say that mentors are unnecessary and a complete waste of money. And yet another investor will have an opinion of mentors that is somewhere in-between these two extremes.


My personal philosophy is more similar to the former than the latter. However, I can find truth in the arguments from both sides, because like most things in real estate, it depends. It depends on what your expectations are of a mentor. It also depends on why you want to hire a mentor in the first place.


In this post, I outline what to and not to expect from a mentor, as well as when it is the right time to hire one. You will also learn how to find a mentor, which you should pursue only if you’re expectations and current situation align with the reality of what a mentor actually does.

What should I expect?


There are four main things you should expect to get out of a relationship with a mentor.


Number one is expertise on how to do what you’re wanting to do. The mentor should not only have experience in the same field you’re pursuing, but they should be active as well. If you are a wholesaler, for example, a good mentor is someone who has a successful track record as a wholesaler and is still completing deals to this day. A poor mentor is someone who has never wholesaled a deal or someone who has stopped wholesaling, even if they have a long list of clients who are actively and successfully wholesaling deals.


Secondly, you should expect a mentor to provide you with a do-it-yourself system for how to replicate their success.


Thirdly, and – in my opinion – most importantly, a mentor should be an ally that you can call upon to only talk to about yourself and work out any problem you’re facing, real estate or personal. Since you are paying this person, you don’t have to feel guilty about being selfish or asking questions about the other person. You don’t even need to be interesting. You can and should talk about whatever it is you need at the moment.


The fourth thing you should expect are connections. Since the mentor should be active, they will have relationships with all the movers and shakers in your investment niche. Therefore, they should connect you will team members relevant to growing your business.

What shouldn’t I expect?


There are two main things you should NOT expect when hiring a mentor.


A mentor will not be your savior or your knight in shining armor. Do not expect to hire a mentor and poof, have all of your problems solved. Yes, they should offer expertise, be an ally, and provide connections, but you will still be required to take action. Moreover, the best mentors, rather than being your knight and shining armor, should give you the tools and knowledge so that you become your own savior!


Also, do not expect a “done for you” program. Actually, if you find a mentor who indeed does offer such a program, run! If a mentor promises you anything that doesn’t require any work on your part, run! The problem with “done for you” programs, assuming it truly is and is not just a scam, is that you’re not learning anything. You are not building the foundation of knowledge required to sustain a business. Even if you are able to attain a high level of success using one of these programs, it is unstable. And once you lose that program, you lose your progress as well.


When do I hire a mentor?

You are ready to hire a mentor when you have defined a specific outcome you want to achieve by hiring a mentor. Do you want immediate access to expert advice about your investment niche? Do you want a system for reaching financial freedom? Do you need an unbiased person to selfishly speak with? Do you need to find connections people in the industry? These are all defined outcomes that can be solved by hiring a mentor.


Do you want a mentor because you were told you were supposed to? Do you want a knight and shining armor who will do all the work for you? Do you want a “done for you” program so that you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the returns? These are wrong reasons to hire a mentor.


How do I find a mentor?


There is really only one effective way to find a mentor – word of mouth referrals. That is the only way that I have found to verify the legitimacy of a certain mentor.


If you don’t know someone with a mentor, or if you don’t know where to go to get a referral, then you’re probably not ready to hire a mentor. You’ll need to get out in the field and start meeting investors.




There are many differing opinions on the benefits of a hiring a mentor. I believe that a mentor can be extremely useful as long as you have the correct expectations and have defined a specific outcome.


Assuming your expectations and outcomes are in line with the reality of what a mentor can offer, the most effective way to find one is through word of mouth referrals.


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Ultimate Guide to Selecting a Target Real Estate Market

A well-known and widely accepted dictum in real estate investing is “it’s all about location, location, location.” That’s because the exact same property in two different cities can have drastically different rents, quality of residents, and values. And the same is applicable for two sub-markets in the same city, or two neighborhoods in the same sub-market, or two streets in the same neighborhood.


With this being the case, how do you determine which city, sub-market, neighborhood or street to target?


That’s where a market evaluation is performed in order to select a target market. A target market is the primary geographic location in which you search for potential investments.


Specifying a target market is important for more reasons than the one mentioned above (real estate is all about location, location, location). If your target market is undefined or is the entirety of the United States or a certain state, the number of opportunities will be so large that your deal pipeline will be unmanageable. If it is too large, it will be extremely difficult to gain the level of understanding required to make educated investment decisions. If it is too small, you’ll have problems finding enough deals that meet your investment criteria. Like the porridge in the story of Goldilocks and the three bears, your target market must be just right.


When attempting to select a target market, for both my clients and for my business, I advocate a three-step process. First, identify 7 potential target markets. Then, evaluate those markets using 7 variables. Finally, analyze the results and narrow down to 1 or 2 target markets.


Step #1 – Identify 7 potential target markets


First, identify at least seven potential target markets to evaluate. There are a few strategies for selecting these initial markets. One method is simply choosing the city in which you live as a potential target market, especially if you’re just starting out or are uncomfortable with the prospect of investing out-of-state. But even if you’re fearful of out-of-state investing, it is still important to select additional markets to evaluate so you can compare your city’s data to that of other cities to ensure that your city has a strong real estate market.


A second strategy is to Google “top real estate markets in the US.” If you’re an apartment investor, search “top apartment markets in the US.” Or substitute “apartment” with whichever investment niche you’re pursuing.


A third option is to review detailed real estate reports and surveys, created by different companies, about the condition of the real estate markets. Even if you are selecting potential markets at random or are using the Google approach, I would still recommend reading these reports for a deeper understanding of the overall real estate economy.


If you’re an apartment or multifamily investor, the reports I recommend are:


Step #2 – Evaluate 7 markets


Next, once you’ve selected seven potential target markets, you will perform a detailed demographic and economic evaluation of each. What follows is each of the seven market variables I analyze, including what to look for, where to find the data, and how to log the data.


 1 – Unemployment


Specifically, you want to calculate the unemployment change over a five-year period. This will require the unemployment percentage for city for the last five years.


A decreasing unemployment rate is ideal. A low, stagnant rate is acceptable. A high and/or increasing rate is unfavorable.


This data can be found on the Census.gov website under the “Selected Economic Characteristics” data table.


2 – Population


You want to calculate the population growth for both the target market city and metropolitan statistical area (MSA). This will require the population data for the last five years.


An increasing population is ideal. A stagnant or decreasing trend is unfavorable, especially if supply and/or vacancy is on the rise.


Both the city and MSA population data can be found on the Census.gov website. The city data is located in the “Annual Population Estimates” data table. The MSA data is located in the “Annual Estimate of the Resident Population” data table.


3 – Age


You want to calculate the population change for the different age ranges. This will require the population age data for the most current year and the year five years earlier.


The increasing or decreasing of specific age ranges will dictate the property types that will be in the most demand. For example, an increasing population of 25-to-34-year olds will put luxury apartments with nicer amenities in demand, while an increasing retirement age population will put assisted living facilities in demand.


This data can be found on the Census.gov website under the “Demographic and Housing Estimates” table.


4 – Jobs


You want to determine how diversified the job market is. This will require the employment data for the different industries for the most current year.


A market with outstanding job diversity will have no one industry employing more than 25% of the employed population. 20% is even better. If a certain industry is to dominate, the market will struggle or even collapse if that industry were to be negatively affected.


This data can be found on the Census.gov website under the “Selected Economic Characteristics” table.


5 – Employers


You want to determine who the top 10 employers are in the market.


Similar to job diversity, a market with one company that employees the majority of the city is unfavorable. Also, understanding who the top employers are will allow you to track and developments with that company (i.e. are they creating a new facility, cutting jobs, etc.).


This data can be found by Googling “(city name) + top employers.”


6 – Supply and Demand


You want to determine the change in rental vacancy rates over a five-year period and the number of buildings permits created for 5 or more unit buildings.


A low, decreasing vacancy rate is ideal. A high vacancy rate that is decreasing is also a positive sign. A stagnant vacancy rate is okay too. But an increasing vacancy rate is unfavorable. If the vacancy rate is decreasing, you will likely see an increase in new building permits, and vice versa. A high volume of building permits and an increasing vacancy rate is a huge red flag.


The vacancy data can be found on the Census.gov website under the “Selected Housing Characteristics.” The building permit data can also be found on the Census.gov website. Locate the MSA annual construction page and select the data table for the most current year.


7 –Insights


Based on the “what to look for” standards outlined above, you will analyze the data and create “market insights” for each of the six market factors. For each factor, here are the types of questions you should be answering:


  • Unemployment: Has the unemployment rate increased or decreased over the last five years? Is it currently trending upwards or downwards?
  • Population: Has the city population increased or decreased over the last five years? What about the MSA population?
  • Age: What age range has the largest population increase? Largest decrease? Based on the largest increasing and decreasing age range populations, is your target investment type in demand? For example, if the largest population increase is the 45-to-54-year old range, assisted living facilities would be an attractive investment type.
  • Jobs: Which industry employees the largest portion of the population? Does that percentage exceed 20%? 25%? 30%?
  • Employers: Does one company employ a large percentage of the population? Are the top employers in similar or differing industries?
  • Supply and demand: Are there a large or small number of new buildings permits? Is the trend going up or down? Is the vacancy rate increasing or decreasing? Is it higher or lower than five years ago?


Step #3 – Narrow down to 1 or 2 target markets


Finally, after logging the data for all seven potential target markets, analyze and compare the results and determine the top one or two best/ideal markets. Keep in mind that the markets you select will depend on your investment criteria as well.


A simple analytical approach is to rank each of the seven markets 1-6 for each of the variables. Then, add up the scores, and the market with the lowest total ranking is the “best.” For markets with similar rankings, use the market insights to determine which is superior, again, based on your investment criteria.




In order to select a target market, you will first identify seven potentials. Next, you will evaluate each market by obtaining certain economic and demographic data. Finally, you will analyze and compare the target markets in order to select the best or ideal one or two markets that you will target for investment.


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The Top 10 Values of a $600 Million Apartment Investor

It’s important to define what your values are. Because if you don’t, you are like a marionette whose strings are being pulled by an unknown force. Hence, why Gandhi once famously said “Your values become your destiny.”


Your values shape how you perceive everything in the world – how you approach new relationships, how you react to failure and ultimately determines whether you will attract or repel success.


The number one value I live my life by can be summed up in my favorite Tony Robbins quote: “The secret to life is giving.” For every endeavor I undertake, I automatically focus on how this will benefit others. And the resulting inspiration and passion has gotten me to where I am today.


What are your values?


Carlos Vaz, who is the CEO of a multifamily company that controls nearly $600 million across around 5,000 units, attributes his business and life success to defining and living out his top values. In our recent conversation, he provided the top 10 values that took him from an immigrant waiter and truck loader to a multimillion dollar entrepreneur.


1 – Faith


Carlos’ number one value is faith. In fact, his said his Best Ever book is the bible. “My faith is important because it has really shaped me.”


2 – Excellence


Number two is excellence. That means, Carlos said, “doing your best in all you touch. It’s not about quantity. It’s about quality. Sometimes people say, ‘Well, I’m going to do this halfway.’ Really? It takes twice the amount of time and effort to come back and fix something that you didn’t do well the first time, so take the time to do well he first time around so that you don’t need to come back.”


Everything you do in real estate needs to be done at 100% effort and with 100% of your attention.  Because If you approach things halfheartedly, you may land yourself in more trouble than if you wouldn’t have something in the first place.


3 – Perseverance


Number three is perseverance. And in order to persevere, especially when the going gets tough, you must minimize the time you spend complaining. Every second spent on complaining could have been used to get yourself out of the situation you’re complaining about.


“It’s so easy for people to complain about what they have in front of them, ‘I hate my job, I hate this here,” Carlos said. “If you work at a job that you don’t like, and you get home and you just watch TV and you go to bed, and the next day you do exactly the same thing, guess what? Five years from now, where are you going to be? Exactly in the same place. I think at the end of the day, it’s up to us to make decisions, right? Not [complaining] because the world is fair, [but] we need to look at your habits and say, ‘How can I improve? How can I make things better?’”


When Carlos was early on in his career, working as a waiter and unloading trucks and working on construction sites, instead of complaining about his current situation, he was grateful for what he had and was determined to continue moving forward. For every job, he told himself that “this is going to give me some money so I can take another class or this is going to give me some knowledge that I can take somewhere else.”


4 – Establish Great Relationships


Number four is to establish great, reciprocal relationships. This goes hand-in-hand with my number one value about giving.


“Be a team player and help others, and let others help you,” Carlos said, “because nobody wants to be around a jerk.”


5 – Effective Communication


Number five is having effective communication skills. Carlos said, “I think many times [when] there’s an issue, it’s because of lack of communication. It’s not [about] communication itself, it’s what you call effective communication.”


6 – Integrity


Many successful entrepreneurs say that your word is all you have. That brings us to number six – integrity.


“You always do the right things, even if it means making hard choices,” Carlos said. “Integrity is everything. When I shake your hand and we do business, we’re going to do something together. It’s not a contract that’s going to put us together. That contract is just going to be a formality. I think that you have to have the integrity to do the thing that’s important.”


7 – Love for Family and Country


Number seven is the love for both your immediate family and your extending family – your community or your country. Carlos said, “I always say, ‘What can I do to provide for my family, for my parents, to my mom and to my brothers?’ And also, I do believe that this country, in my books, is the best country in the world. Seriously. We live in an amazing country called the USA. There are opportunities every day as long as you’re willing to wake up in the morning and go get them. So, I think that it’s important to give back and help this country.”


8 – Knowledge


Carlos’ best ever advice is to never stop learning, which is value number eight – knowledge.


“What are you doing to pursue growth and learning?,” Carlos said. And not just learning more about real estate. It’s also about “how to become a better leader, how to become a better friend, a better father, a better brother. There’s so many things that we can become better [at],” he said. “There’s so many good nuggets, there’s so many things if you’re looking for learning from other people that are actually doing things. That helps me not to make mistakes.”


Carlos creates his foundation of knowledge for continuing his formal education (he’s currently enrolled in a three-year program at Harvard), skills and lessons from past jobs and surprisingly, his kids. “It’s funny. Now that my kids are young – 2 and 4 – sometimes just talking to them and learning from those little guys. It’s amazing how much a child can teach you sometimes, and I love that.”


Click here for my recommended book list.


9 – Health


Number nine is health. Carlos said, “Health is really important when I look at my life and everything. If I don’t have health, there’s nothing. So, what are you habits? What are you doing to yourself?”


This is a value that I’m sure we can all work on. We can work our butts off to create a real estate empire, but if our diet and exercise habits are poor, we’re reducing the time we’ll have to enjoy the rewards.


10 – Commitment


Finally, number ten is commitment. Carlos said, “When you say that you’re going to do something, get things done, because there’s no point about you saying something and at the end there’s no commitment.”




The 10 values that Carlos Vaz attributes to his real estate success are:


  1. Faith
  2. Excellence
  3. Perseverance
  4. Establish Great Relationships
  5. Effective Communication
  6. Integrity
  7. Love for Family and Country
  8. Knowledge
  9. Health
  10. Commitment


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Eliminate 99% of Your Competition with This Simple Real Estate Investing Strategy


How much would your real estate investing success increase if you could eliminate up to 99% of the investors competing for your deals? Daniel Ameduri, who bought his first investment property at the age of 18 years old, accidentally stumbled across such a competition reducing strategy when he was purchasing his personal residence.


In our recent conversation, Daniel explained how he leveraged that tactic to grow his investing business. By selecting the correct investment criteria, you can replicate Daniel’s strategy and never have a problem finding a deal again.


Step #1 – Identify a Market’s Main Problem


The first step for this strategy is to uncover the property type that no one wants to buy. If you know your market well, you should already have an answer to this question. If not, simply ask around. Speak with local investors, wholesalers, or realtors and ask, “what is the property type that nobody else wants to buy? The one that scares away most investors?”


In Daniel’s market, and maybe in your market too, the issue that every investor runs away from are foundation problems. He said there’s virtually zero competition for deals with foundation problems because “no one can get a loan. Bam! Right there, you just got rid of all your paint/carpet/blind fix and flippers. They’re gone.” Daniel also said “most people are ignorant of what it takes to fix a foundation. Okay, there you go; you got rid of a ton of cash buyers and a ton of other investors.”


Step #2 – Find a Solution


Next, you want to determine how you can solve that issue in a cost-efficient manner, which will require investigating and due diligence on your part. For Daniel, he discovered both the problem and solution completely by accident. So, he’s not being boastful or arrogant by claiming that most investors are ignorant of what it takes to address a foundation issue, because initially, he was as well. He said “in Southern California I came across a foundation problem and I ran. In central Texas, I wanted to buy a home for my family to live in, and they said ‘It has a foundation problem.’ Because I didn’t have my investor mindset on, I didn’t run. I became an entrepreneur problem-solver, which that’s what I should have been as an investor. Because I wanted to live in that home, I said ‘Well, I’m going to find out how much it costs’, and to my surprise, the bids were coming in at $3,000, $3,500, and I was like ‘Wow!’ Here I was, thinking this was a $50,000 problem… Because it’s about the logistics – they’re literally digging holes around the property, jacking it up… Typically, if it’s a two-story, it will burst some pipes or break some things, so a lot of times you have to fix the piping as well, which is another $3,000 on let’s say a 2,000-3,000-square foot home. So, I actually originally discovered this whole problem that was solvable with the purchase of my own residence. Then once I knew that, I smelled the blood; I was hungry. I told that very realtor and everyone I could get in contact with – ‘If there’s a foundation problem, from basically all of central Texas to San Antonio, I want to know about it.’”


Step #3 – Become the Go-To Person for Those Types of Deals


Finally, you want to contact the realtors and wholesalers in your market and ask them to notify you if they come across the type of deal you’re looking for. At first, this will be the specific problem you’ve identified and for which you’ve found a solution. But as your business evolves, you may want to invest in all the deals that investors are running away from, which is what Daniel’s strategy is.


When someone asks Daniel what his investment criteria is, he said is response is always “I want what nobody else wants. I want what everybody hates.” That is his standard reply to every realtor, investor, realtor, etc. “I tell them I want to be the guy that buys the things that nobody else wants to buy. I want to get the things that are hated. I don’t care if it’s fire damage or foundation. What are people scared of, what do they hate, what does nobody want, what can no one get a loan for? I’m that guy.”


Since you won’t be able to get a loan on these types of deals, you’ll either have to use all cash or utilize the same strategy as Daniel – seller financing. He said, “what I’m doing is I’m approaching that homeowner who cannot sell his house; he is stuck. The only option for him is a cash buyer, that’s what he thinks but what I tell him is ‘What do you ultimately need from this deal?’ That’s where I start the negotiation. Maybe they need $5,000, maybe they need $30,000. If I can be agreeable to that, the rest is easy, because all I have to do is an assumable transaction; I take over the loan and I tell them ‘Look, I need 18 months to fix and flip this house or refinance it. I can get the foundation people almost immediately, I can have the foundation repaired within six weeks, and then I just need to finish the rest of the property.’”


“I still have an assumable loan, so I’ve never even applied for a mortgage at this point. I’m simply making the payment of the previous owner, but I am legally on the deed; I am the owner, I just don’t have the mortgage in my name. I continue making those payments, and that distressed seller – he’s long gone. And I then sell the property, and hopefully – and usually it works, in this case; and I say actually always it works so far – I’m able to sell the property in under six months… Paying off that loan, so that guy is happy, and I get to make the cash. I never have to go through the nightmare of an application of getting a mortgage, I never had … to write a $200,000 check to buy the property cash… I usually got into the property for less than $25,000, and probably put another $25,000 to fix it up.”


Keep in mind that this is not a no money down strategy. But it also doesn’t require hundreds of thousands of dollars either. Daniel said, “most of the owner-financing deals I have done, you need some cash. You’re going to need anywhere from $5,000 to about $30,000.”




Daniel Ameduri follows a three-step investment strategy that eliminates up to 99% of the competitors vying for the same deals.


The first step is to identify the main issue in a market. That is, the problem that scares away 99% of investors.


Next, research the solution, and the cost, to the issue.


Finally, notify the wholesalers and realtors in the market of your criteria and become the go-to person for those types of properties.



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How to Perform Due Diligence on an Apartment Building

The due diligence process for an apartment building is much more involved and complicated in comparison to that of a single-family residence or smaller multifamily building. For the latter, you will likely only require an inspection report and an appraisal report in order to close. If you are experienced, you’ll perform your own financial audit, comparing the leases and rent rolls with the historical financials.


When you scale up to hundreds of units, the increase in potential risk points is such that you’ll need additional reports before deciding whether or not to move forward with the deal. In fact, for the apartment due diligence process, you’ll want to obtain and analyze the results of these 10 reports:


  1. Financial Audit Report
  2. Internal Property Condition Assessment
  3. Market Condition Report
  4. Lease Audit
  5. Unit Walk Report
  6. Site Survey
  7. Property Condition Assessment
  8. Environmental Site Assessment
  9. Appraisal
  10. Green Report


1 – Financial Audit Report


The financial audit report is the detailed results of an inspection conducted by a commercial real estate consulting company. They will analyze the asset’s operating history and provide a breakdown of the individual components of the operating income and expenses.


When you underwrote the deal, you likely used the income and expense figures provided in the pro-forma, and then made assumptions for what those figures would be after you took over the property. The results of this report will confirm the actual income and expenses, as well as allow you to make adjustments to your assumptions if necessary.


2 – Internal Property Condition (PCA) Assessment


The internal property condition assessment is an inspection report that provides you with the overall condition of the property. The assessment is conducted by a licensed contractor of your choosing.


This assessment will differ depending on the contractor. However, you will most likely be provided with a list and images of problem areas observed by the contractors, recommendations for repairs, opinions on costs to address deferred maintenance, and whether or not further inspections are required.


These results will help you confirm or make adjustments to your repair and rehab assumptions and screen out deals that have maintenance issues outside your investment criteria.


3 – Market Condition Report


The market survey and condition report is a comprehensive comparison analysis of the sub-market. The subject property is analyzed and compared using multiple variables, including rents, unit type, occupancy, unit size, new construction, historical statistics, amenities offered, and more.


This report is created by your property management company, so the thoroughness of the report will depend on who you select.


The results of this report can be used to confirm your underwriting assumptions including for occupancy and rental rates.


4 – Lease Audit


The lease audit is a systematic examination of the leases, including the stated income and expense figures, billing methodology and lease language. Typically, this audit will be conducted by your property management company.


The purpose of this audit is to verify that charges billed are accurate an in compliance with the lease terms. The most important piece of information I receive from this audit is to understand the difference between economic and physical vacancy.


5 – Unit Walk Report


A question my clients ask a lot is “when I am performing due diligence, do I need to walk every single unit?” The answer is a resounding yes! And that is the purpose of the unit walk report. It is a detailed inspection of every single unit, assessing the condition and characteristics of the entire unit.


This report is also prepared by the property management company. However, if you so desire, you can print out a spreadsheet and perform the inspection yourself.


6 – Site Survey


A site survey shows the boundaries of the property, indicating the lot size. It also includes a written description of the property. The report resembles a map.


There are a lot of third party services that can conduct a site survey. A quick Google search of “site survey + (city name) will do the trick.


7 – Property Condition Assessment


The property condition assessment is the same as the internal property condition assessment, except this one is created by a third party selected by the lender. So, you’ll have two PCAs from two different contractors, which should cover all your bases.


8 – Environmental Site Survey


The environmental site survey is an assessment that identifies potential or existing environmental contamination liabilities. This report is required and is conducted by a third-party provider selected by the lender.


The analysis typically addresses both the underlying land and the physical improvements on the property.


9 – Appraisal


The appraisal is a report that determines the value of the property based on market capitalization rate and net operating income. This report will also be created by a third-party provider selected by the lender. Hopefully, the appraisal value comes back equal to or, even better, exceeding the contract price.


10 – Green Report


The green report is an energy audit that evaluated an apartment for potential energy and water conservation opportunities and calculates the estimated cost savings that would result from addressing these identified opportunities.


The audit is performed by an energy efficiency provider. Once completed, you are sent a report with the results and recommended next steps.




The 10 reports needed when performing due diligence on an apartment buildings are:


  1. Financial Audit Report
  2. Internal Property Condition Assessment
  3. Market Condition Report
  4. Lease Audit
  5. Unit Walk Report
  6. Site Survey
  7. Property Condition Assessment
  8. Environmental Site Assessment
  9. Appraisal
  10. Green Report


Failing to do so can, and most likely will, result in unexpected and unplanned for expenses later on down the road.


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How to Start Up a Business w/ Pittsburgh Steelers Legend Franco Harris


According to Bloomberg, 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start business fail within the first 18 months. Or, for every 5 business ideas you attempt implement, one will hit and four will fail.


How can you increase your odds of success? Well, I great place to start is to learn about how entrepreneurs who’ve been successful in starting up a business were able to do so.


Franco Harris, NFL Hall of Fame Pittsburgh Steelers running back, has two booming businesses in completely unrelated fields – the food and silver industries. In our recent conversation, he offered tips, based on his experience, on how to successful startup a business from scratch.


Q: After 13 successful years in the NFL, how did you smoothly transition into a new career field?


A: When football was over, I said to myself, “Franco, you need to get busy.” Upon retirement, one thing you definitely don’t want to do is stay idle. Even if that meant I’d go work in a fast food restaurant, I had to do something.


I decided to start a food distribution company, and I called it Franco’s All Natural. I wanted to serve all natural food products. And I dove in feet first. I loaded and unloaded trucks, delivered, and partook in all the day-to-day operations. Eventually, we rebranded the company to Super Foods, and it has been beyond my wildest dreams where we’ve taken that.


Q: Are you actively involved in all the businesses you’ve started?


A: Yes. I prefer building businesses from the ground up, so learning the lowest level operations of the business is advantageous, and I believe a requirement, to scaling a business. That philosophy really helped me grow Super Foods.


This is also the advice I provide to NFL players when they’re transitioning out of the league. I say, “Don’t buy your way to the top. Learn the business. Learn every aspect of the business.” As I said before, that really helped me scale Super Foods. I delivered the products and worked in the warehouse, so I knew every aspect of the business and how it feels to perform the multitude of duties. I know how it feels to unload the tractor trailer. I know how it feels to drive an hour to deliver something or drive three hours for a business appointment.


Q: Since you have such a hands-on approach to your businesses, in order to make the most out of your time, how do you determine which business ideas to pursue and which to push aside?


A: The first thing I look at is if the idea is unique enough and if there is space for it. For example, when I started Franco’s All Natural, all natural foods were not the norm yet, but it is obvious today that there was space to grow.


I also co-founded SilverSport, which incorporates the odor killing properties of silver into clothing and paints. That is another area that was kind of new and not saturated, but in demand. Everyone wants a product that eliminates their body odor, right?


So, I’ve been successful by looking at unique things, things that are different, and things that have potential.


Q: What is your specific as the co-founder of SilverSport?


A: I focus on the company’s long-term strategy. I try to build the culture to align with what the company stands for, which is to provide the best odor-free clothing and paint lines in the world. I strategize to determine what the company needs to focus on to accomplish that mission, and make sure we have all those pieces in place.


I love this creative part of the business, doing new things, and exploring new ideas about how we can be different and the best. When you talk sports, that’s one of the things that you always work on. You want to be the best player on the team, right? I was fortunate enough in sports to experience that, and I leverage the experience to continually improve my businesses.


Q: Based on your business experience, what is your best advice ever?


A: I think you’re lucky enough if you’re able to do what your passion is, what you love to do, and really jump into it. But, a lot of the time, we hesitate. So, my advice is if you have something that you love to do, jump in. It doesn’t matter where you start, but if you do the right things and you put the time and effort into it, you can really make great things happen, and at the same time, do something that you really love to do.


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To Source Real Estate Deals And Generate More Wealth, Start A Monthly Meetup

Originally featured on Forbes.com here


Having interviewed over a thousand business and real estate entrepreneurs on my podcast, one of the most valuable pieces of advice I’ve gotten is how to start an in-person meetup group. From a business development standpoint, the educational benefits, relationships formed and the potential for direct monetization have been instrumental to the growth of both the investors who attend and a business’s growth. In fact, it’s been so successful for my business that I require my clients to start their own in-person meetups within their local market.


In general, the advent of the internet has given us the capability to connect with like-minded strangers more easily than ever before. And while forums, blogs and social media allow you to join any number of virtual communities, other platforms promote the formation of in-person communities. One such outgrowth I take advantage of is meetup websites.


No matter how mainstream or obscure your interests might be, there’s a meetup group for you. Meetup.com, one of the more popular meetup sites, boasts a membership of 32.3 million people participating in over 288,000 meetup groups across 182 countries.


Interested in joining a community of psychic vampires? There’s a group for you. Want to relive a cherished childhood freeze tag experience? Don’t worry. There’s a group for you, too.


Of course, as a real estate entrepreneur, I’m not as interested in meeting vampires or playing freeze tag as I am in leveraging popular internet advancements to scale my business. Since online-generated meetup groups is a relatively new concept, and monetized meetups even more so, many people don’t know how to get started.


And starting a meetup can be nerve-racking — especially if you’re an introvert. This anxiety will be the No. 1 enemy keeping you from actually scheduling your first event. That’s why I advise you avoid spending an inordinate amount of time planning and structuring the perfect meetup event. Instead, simply focus on starting it.


A successful meetup group can be pretty informal. One investor I interviewed, Anson Young, has been hosting a meetup for over three years with very little structure. Once a month, Anson and about 70 other investors meet at a local beer hall. For three hours, they just drink beer and talk real estate. There’s no agenda or scheduled speaker. It’s just good old-fashioned networking, a time for investors to chat, solve any problems they’re facing, team up on real estate projects, and most importantly, learn from each other’s mistakes and successes. Even so, in just three years, Anson’s made six figures directly from partnerships and relationships formed at the meetup. That’s a return of nearly $1,000 per hour spent simply drinking beer and networking.


Starting a meetup group like Anson’s at a local bar is an easy and informal option, but maybe you’re a little more conscientious and orderly, like me. I created a meetup that’s much more structured than Anson’s, which is broken into four parts:


  1. Presentation: Each meeting begins with a short presentation from an active real estate professional or attendee.
  2. Share opportunities: Attendees have the opportunity to share deals with the group — maybe they’re trying to sell a deal, find a partner, or have questions on a deal under contract.
  3. Business updates: Each person provides a 90-second update on the latest in their business.
  4. Open floor: I allot the remaining time, about an hour, for networking, closing deals, sharing information and forming business partnerships.


Overall, the meeting lasts two hours.


Both Anson and I run our meetup groups on a monthly basis. Our primary objectives are to educate and build relationships — efforts that indirectly result in more deals, more business partnerships and more money in the long run. But if you want an even more direct avenue to financial gains from a meetup, create a rockstar-level meetup like real estate entrepreneur Taylor Peugh, and turn the group into a deal-generating machine.


Taylor hosts a meetup — not once a month, or even once a week — but four times a week. Three of the meetups are dinners and the other is a lunch. About 30 to 40 unique investors attend each meetup, which means Taylor networks with 100 to 150 real estate entrepreneurs every week. The result? Every rental property, wholesale, and the majority of the fix-and-flip projects he negotiates stem directly from someone he met at his meetup. For Taylor, a meetup group isn’t just a space to educate and build relationships; it’s the main source of his investment gains.


Want to replicate Taylor’s success?


Here’s the agenda for his meetups:


  1. Check-in: At check-in, attendees must answer: “What are you doing right now that will move you forward in the next 30 days?”
  2. Recognize wins: Each person describes what they accomplished personally, or in their business, that week.
  3. Needs and wants: Attendees have the opportunity to ask for anything they need. For example, “I need a plumber,” or “Does anyone know a good CPA?”
  4. Property pitches: This is where Taylor makes his money; anyone who has an active deal can present it to the group to see if anyone has an interest in buying, partnering, or funding it.
  5. Open floor: The end of the dinner/lunch is an open Q&A session where attendees can ask any questions they want.


Hosting a meetup is one of the best ways to create valuable relationships, learn about real estate from those active in the field, and find deals and create partnerships that generate wealth in other the short and long-term. I’ve provided three meetup examples above, ranging from monthly, informal beer hall gatherings to powerhouse groups that meet four times a week, but in reality, the sky’s the limit. There are an infinite number of ways you can structure your meetup group.


But don’t forget the most important step: Get over your fear or procrastination and host your first event!


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How to Successfully Overcome an Identity Crisis w/ NFL Running Back Terrell Fletcher


Imagine living your entire life performing at the highest level, losing nearly everything, and then discovering your true purpose on this Earth?


That’s exactly what happened to Terrell Fletcher, NFL running back turned Senior Pastor, motivator, and best-selling author.


In my interview with Terrell, he shared his journey from losing his NFL superstar identity after retirement to finding the true meaning of life.


Read on for lessons on how to bounce back from crises of identity and unlock your life’s mission.



What were you doing during the three-year transition period between retirement and becoming a Senior Pastor?


Soul searching.


Football is such a time-consuming activity that you don’t have a chance to find your true self. You inherit a stock identity – an NFL player. Upon retirement, you lose that identity and are left with the unpleasant feeling of emptiness.


So, I spent that period not looking for a new job, but searching for a new identity. I finally had time to explore the parts of myself that my football identity had suppressed.


As you began the search for your true identity, what did you gravitate towards?




I rediscovered the meaning that came through altruism. What non-professional athletes don’t understand is that the world centers around the team and you. Then, there’s your secondary world that includes your “handlers” – your agent, financial advisors, friends, and family. And you are the center of that world too. Without even realizing it, you become selfish.


Did you work during this transitional period, and did those jobs impact your soul-searching process?


I went into the sportscaster role, but my heart wasn’t connected to it. I also went the coaching route, but my heart wasn’t connected to that either. There wasn’t a feeling of purpose, even though I was still deemed a success in the eyes of others. That’s when I realized that people will root for you at the level of their expectation of you. If their expectation of you is lower than the level of expectation to which you hold yourself, then you feel insignificant. People will applaud you for average, so I learned that you can’t go off of what everybody else thinks.


How do you determine what brings you a feeling purpose and significance?


You have to find that thing in your heart and chase it. That’s where you find real satisfaction.


I always had a love for real estate, public speaking, and inspiring people. So, after failing to find purpose in sportscasting and coaching, I tried to hone those skills, hoping one or two of them would shake out.


But I knew that before I could find true purpose, I needed to performed deep introspection. That required addressing existential questions, like ‘Who am I? What do I have to offer this world. What core tenants of life am I going to operate in?’


What were the takeaways of this introspection process?


A life’s mission. My purpose is to motivate, educate, inspire, and entertain every person I come across. No matter what business venture I pursued, that mission would be a part of my job.


You mentioned the need to disregard other’s expectations of you. How did you shed these expectations to start living your new mission?


At first, I was giving into those expectations. I was following the path I thought I was supposed to follow. And it was a very predictable path – underdog athlete reaches his dreams, and now he becomes a sports announcer or a coach.


But through my introspection, I determined I didn’t want to be predictable. I didn’t want to be normal. Nothing about normal inspired me. I knew my core competencies lend to more than what people were expecting of me. I could have done it, and I probably would have attained some level of success. But I learned along the journey that I didn’t just want success. I wanted significance. I wanted meaning. And to do so, what I did needed to count towards somebody else’s life and not just my own.


How did this need to be altruistic and giving manifest in your life?


I began to understand that my pursuits had to be more than a money grab or a fame grab. So, I needed to find the underlying purpose for why I wanted all of those things. To discover the root of why I wanted to build wealth, why I wanted to be a household name, and why I wanted my face on TV. Once I deconstructed those, my “why” became clear and I found my true identity.


Through real estate, entertainment, faith, and inspiration, I fulfill my “why” and feel a sense of significance while giving back to the world.


Based on your journey, what is your Best Ever advice to real estate investors and entrepreneurs for finding and completing their life’s mission?


Always stay the course. Often times, we spend too much time focusing on our end goal and not enough time preparing for what’s going to show up between now and the end. Barriers, enemies to our success, whether they’re external or internal, are guaranteed to show up on the journey. But don’t give into them. Fight them. Do battle with them. Get victory over them. Because those barriers are not there to stop you; they’re designed to make you stronger.


How do we overcome these barriers to success?


You must realize that as long as you’re on the right path and have a goal in mind, every barrier that arises is meant to make you stronger, wiser, and more compassionate.


The thing that seems disastrous is actually going to be for your benefit in the long run. I wish someone would have told me that the troubles of my life were actually going to be what helped make me the man I am today. I would not have run from so many things. I would have embraced the journey, understood that barriers were a part of the process, got victory over them and kept on moving.



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How Former UK Great Tony Delk Reached the Highest Levels of Success in Multiple Fields


Through hard work and surrounding yourself with the right people, anything is possible. Those are the two factors that were main drivers of success for Tony Delk, whose resume boosts a NCAA national championship, 10 years in the NBA, and a multitude of entrepreneurial endeavors.


In my interview with Tony, he shared the life lessons he learned from legendary coach Rick Pitino and how that help him not only become a basketball star, but also prepared him for creating a star life after the NBA.


If you want to learn the lessons that helped Tony achieve uber-success in multiple differing fields, read on.


You played college basketball at the University of Kentucky, and then went on to have 10 successful years in the NBA. Out of all your coaches, which one had the biggest impact on your career?


Coach Pitino while I was at UK. He taught me the game – the mental aspect and the physical aspect. But most importantly, he prepared me for life after basketball. In fact, as a senior, Coach Pitino set me up with a really good business manager who’s been with me since 1996.


What’s an important lesson from Coach Pitino?


The most important thing that he taught me was to not let money define who you are, and to always stay humble. Because of that advice, once I began making a lot of money, it didn’t change who I was as an individual.


The money that comes in, in tandem with the fame from being on TV, results in an extreme pressure to change and let it go to your head, but my foundation in which Coach Pitino helped to create kept me grounded and humble.


What did this foundation consist of?


Mostly, it was surrounding myself with a good circle of friends, which was something else Coach Pitino provided. His circle of friends became our circle of friends. That’s one of the things I enjoyed most about him. He didn’t allow us to go out and meet new friends that that could take us away from being who we were, or give us money or some other thing we thought we wanted.


What characteristics should we as entrepreneurs look for when determining whether or not to accept someone into our circle of friends?


If someone is in my circle of friends, it’s because they’re an asset and not a liability. Liabilities are the people that when you go out, they never get the check. They’re always mooching. They want free clothes, free gear, and never pay for gas. In other words, they like everything if it comes for free.


An asset is a friend that I know is willing to get out and work, and it’s someone I don’t need to take care of as if they were my kids. Assets are the friends that rarely ask you for anything, but when they do, you know they’re either going to give it back or are in a desperate situation.


Also, it’s important that they are truthful, offer constructive criticism and feedback, and hold you accountable.


Does this asset/liability concept also reflect your overall business philosophy?


Absolutely. Coach Pitino used to say “when something is given, it can be taken away. But when it’s earned, it’s yours.” I’ve always taken that dictum with me wherever I’ve gone, and it’s the motto I pass on when offering advice to others, especially when I speak to kids. I always tell them – listen, the most important thing is hard work. You have to put so many hours in, and when you put those hours in, it’s earned, not given to you. So, it’s important to not only surround yourself with assets, but to also be an asset yourself.


Tactically, how do you apply this concept when screening investment opportunities or partnerships?


Well, initially, I didn’t. When I was in my 20s, if someone brought me an exciting business opportunity, I would jump on it without conducting much research. Or if it was a friend, I would invest to just help them out.


For example, in 1996, I gave my brother $15,000 for a business idea. I knew that it wasn’t going to pan out, but I made the investment because he was my brother. He had mentored me growing up, so it was sort of a payment of gratitude. However, the business idea flopped and I never got that money back. So, I also learned a valuable lesson – don’t invest with family or friends.


How did your approach to business opportunities evolve as you got older?


For my early investments, a common thread was that the only money invested in the deal was my own. So, now there needs to be an alignment of interests financially.


I also conduct a lot more research, specifically on the other people involved in the deal. I want to know if they’ve ever gone bankrupt. And if they have pursued other business endeavors, and if so, if they were successful. And to have an understanding of their business careers and where they are to this day.


And then of course, I study the business itself. But not just the financials. I want to get to know the employees, and the family and friends of the owners. You want to have that financial alignment of interest, but you also want to know if they are family-oriented and treat their friends and employees properly. If they don’t take care of their employees, they won’t take care of your clients.


Based on your successful NBA and business career, what is your Best Ever Advice for real estate investors and entrepreneurs?


When you’re investing in a deal or in a business, have equity. That way, you will personally benefit from any financial gains, but you are also creating generational wealth for your children and grandchildren.


Also, I would advise to only pursue opportunities that you love. If you love it, you’re going to be all in and want to see the project grow.



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5 Steps to Raise over $30,000,000 for Apartment Syndications

How do you raise private capital from high net individuals to invest in large multifamily deals? Well, that question assumes that 1) you have high net worth individuals in your network and 2) you know how to syndicate large multifamily deals. If you are like most entrepreneurs, neither of those assumptions are true. So, the real question is, how do I create a network of high net worth individuals, and how do I learn how to syndicate large multifamily deals?


Dave Zook, who has closed on over 2,800 units since 2010, has raised well over $30 million for apartment syndication deals. But, at one point he was like you. He didn’t have the connections, nor did he know how to invest in apartments. So, how did he get to where he is today, and how can you replicate his success?


In our recent conversation, he condensed his journey into a five-step process to raising millions of dollars from private money investors.


Related: How Do I Know If I’m Ready to Become an Apartment Syndicator?


Step #1 – Build a Reputation


Before even entertaining the idea of raising money for deals, Dave was already investing in multifamily utilizing his own capital. Also, he was running a sales and marketing company. Due to these successes, he was known by others in his local market to be a savvy entrepreneur who could effectively manage a business. “Having a good reputation in your local market is a great start,” Dave said. “We’re well-known in the community for the business we’ve done there.”


A reputation of previous business success, even if it’s not in apartment investing, is a requirement prior to raising money. No one will entrust you with their hard-earned money without having the confidence that you can navigate the syndication niche.


Related: How a Wannabe or Experienced Investor Can Obtain a FREE or PAID Real Estate Education


Step #2 – Tell Your Story


After building a business reputation, you want to locate the high net worth individuals in your current network and tell them your story. And if you are thinking to yourself, “Joe, I don’t have any high net worth individuals in my network,” then you need to continue working on that reputation. When you are performing at a high level, in either real estate or business, you will cross paths with these potential private money investors.  For example, prior to becoming a syndicator, I was a VP at a New York City advertising firm. When I decided to raise private money, people whom I created relationships with in that industry were some of my first investors, and they still invest to this day. They had seen my success in business (the advertising industry) and in real estate (I had purchased multiple SFRs and taught classes on how to invest in SFRs).


Similarly, Dave said, “what really helped [me] was I was able to show them what I was doing. I started in this business investing in multifamily on my own for myself. I had a tax problem. I needed some tax shelter. We got creative on that side, so I was able to approach some of the people that I knew that had some investable income, and I just told them my story.”


So, after building your reputation, use it as a selling point to the high net worth individuals you met along the way.


Related: Four Tips to Successfully Sell Yourself in Real Estate Investing


Step #3 – Get Investor Commitments


Once you’ve built your reputation and begin telling your story high net worth individuals, get them to commit to investing in a deal. For example, Dave’s first investors came from the members of a local bank’s board in which he was invited to join. He said, “I was invited to sit on the board of a local startup bank… I was listening to conversation that went something like this – These guys were talking back and forth, and I knew most of these guys around the table, about a dozen guys. They were talking about investing in this bank and wanting to know if it was a good idea, a wise investment. I heard conversations like, ‘Well, you may not see a return for 5-7 years, but it’s better than putting our money in a CD.’ I was just blown away. I was amazed at the conversation. I got to looking at what I was doing in the multifamily space and got thinking, ‘Man, how can I add value to these guys?’ It was about the time I had bought a couple hundred units on my own. I was sort of coming to the point where I was running out of cash. I had to slow down. Then I talked to another friend of mine who was on the board as well. I ran the idea by him about syndicating and teaming up with these guys. He thought it was a great idea. For the next deal, they come along.”


Due to his business reputation, he was invited onto the board. Due to his previous real estate experience and successes, he had a compelling story to tell. With this combination, he was able to raise private money for his first syndication deal. “I needed $850K to get the deal done,” Dave said, “and I went to see some of these individuals. Some guys that I knew were able. It was about getting around the right people and about having a good relationship in the community, and being able to go out there and talk to people that knew and trusted me.”


Related: A 5-Step Process for Raising BIG Capital for Multifamily Syndications


Step #4 – Increase Investor Network Through Referrals


Once you gain your first investors and complete a deal or two, as long as those deals were a success, your current investors will refer you to their other high net worth friends. From there, it’s a snowball effect.


Dave said, “If I would pinpoint and go back to each one of those [investors], a lot of the guys were from referrals. People that invested with me and then said ‘Hey, I’ve got a friend,’ and they’d give me a third-party endorsement, and we ended up doing a deal together. One thing led to the next, and the next thing you know they’re a really faithful investor.”


Related: Three Ways to Cultivate Word-of-Mouth Referrals


Step #5 – Retain Current and Referral Investors


Finally, once you receive a new investor, either your first investors or through referrals, retain them by continuing to syndicate successful deals. As long as you consistently provide your investors with a solid return, you will not only continue to receive more referrals, but those current and referral investors will come back deal after deal. For an example, Dave said, “We [recently] closed a 373-unit building. We’ve raised $3.5 million. About 85% of those investors had invested with me on other deals. So, they were current investors and just coming back for another round.”


Related: 16 Lessons from Over $175,000,000 in Multifamily Syndications




For those aspiring entrepreneurs who want to become multifamily syndicators, starting from scratch, the 5-step process is to:


  • Build a business or real estate reputation in your target market
  • Convey your reputation to high net worth individuals in your network through storytelling
  • Get investors to commit to your next deal
  • Increase your number of private money investors through referrals
  • Retain your investors by consistently providing a solid return on investment


Related: 6 Creative Ways to Break into Multifamily Syndication



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6 Ways to Spot a Scam Artist Lender


As you start growing your real estate business, you will likely get to the point where you will need to find more money to fund your deals. Even if you started with a lot of money, leveraging OPM (other people’s money) decreases your risk and offers the chance of an infinite return. So, regardless of your financial starting position or your real estate niche, everyone should have the capability and understanding of how to raise capital.


When most investors reach the point where they need to find more money, they get nervous. They think accessing capital will be difficult. However, with a few quick Google searches, you’ll find a flood of people who need to deploy their capital quickly.


That’s great, right? Well, not exactly.


Ross Hamilton, who is the CEO of Connected Investors, an aggregator of crowdfunding portals with 250,000 investors, said “we work closely with all of the real hard and private money lenders around this great country, and the number one complaint and the biggest competitor of lenders is not other lenders. It’s scammers.”


So, with a plethora of scam artist lenders, how do we distinguish between the real and the fake? In our recent conversation, Ross explained how to screen lenders by looking for the six red flags of a scam artist lender.


Related: How to Qualify for a Commercial Real Estate Loan


What is a scam artist lender?


Before outlining the six red flags, let’s define a scam artist lender. Ross said that a scam artist lender is “going to be people who are actually trying to steal your money, and other people who are just completely and totally wasting your time.” So, a scam artist is the Zimbabwe King that emails you asking for your personal information so they can send you millions of dollars, a newbie lender that doesn’t know what they’re doing, and everything in-between.


When screening a new lender, what are the red flags to look out for?


#1 – Do they want you to wire the down payment?


“If a lender ever asks you to wire them your down payment money, run,” Ross said. Typically, down payment transfers are handled by your attorney, which the lender should know. Therefore, if they ask you to personally wire them money, that is a huge red flag.


#2 – Do they ask for your social security number or other personal information?


Ross said, “Giving away your social security number or any of that information before you’ve vetted a lender” should be avoided and should raise your alarm. This includes bank account information as well. Provide this information and risk having your bank account emptied or your identity stolen, both of which Ross has experienced. If these are the first things they ask for, consider working with another lender.


#3 – Do they have a business email address?


“Using a Gmail [email] address [is a] red flag. This person’s not really in business,” Ross said. This is a quick red flag to spot. If the lender doesn’t have a business email address, that’s a sign that you’re potentially dealing with a scam artist.


#4 – How well is their English?


Ross said another red flag is if “their English isn’t very proper. You can hear the accent come across in the e-mail correspondence.” However, that doesn’t mean that foreigners are the only scam artists. “The people who will waste your time are inside the U.S., the people who will steal your money are typically outside the U.S., because it’s tough to track those people down.”


If improper English is the only red flag, then you are likely in the clear. But if there are other red flags as well, like a Gmail email address and they are asking for your social security number, they may be a scam artist.


#5 – Do they have a website?


“Make sure they have a website. A lot of these lenders have very bad, fake websites (they’re easy to see through) or they just don’t even have a website,” Ross said. This is an obvious red flag that is applicable to any potential business partner. If someone doesn’t have a website in this day and age, something fishy is going on.


#6 – Do they have examples of past deals?


If the lender passes the first five red flags, the last test is to ask for referrals.


Ross said, “A big thing you want to do is you want to vet the lender and you want to say ‘Hey, can you give me some examples of recent deals that you’ve funded?’” If they are the type of scam artist that wants to steal your money, you probably won’t hear back. If it is the incompetent scam artist type, they will either disappear, or they will back pedal, both of which will be obvious to spot.


Related: Pay Attention to These Five Loan Components to Maximize Your Apartment Returns




There are a lot of lenders and private money investors looking for deals to fund. However, a portion of them are scam artists.


In order to screen lenders, Ross Hamilton tells us to look for these 6 red flags:


  • Do they want you to wire the down payment?
  • Do they ask for your social security number or other personal information?
  • Do they have a business email address?
  • How well is their English?
  • Do they have a website?
  • Do they have examples of past deals?


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The S.O.S. Approach to Managing an Investment During a Crisis (like Hurricane Harvey)

As I am sure you are aware, Texas was hit by Hurricane Harvey earlier this week, and it continues to persist as of this writing. The director of FEMA, Brock Long, called Harvey the worst disaster in Texas history, and expected the recovery to take many years. So, first and foremost, our thoughts are with all of those who’ve been impacted.


To help those individuals who lost it all from the storm, we’ve set up a make-shift distribution center using the home of one of my investors. He is accepting supplies and is taking them to Houston shelters that are servicing those in immediate need. For those interested, click here for more information.


From a business perspective, when a crisis – a hurricane, fire, earthquake, etc. –  occurs and you have an investment property in the area, you need to have a process for approaching the situation, and even more so if you have private investors. The procedure I use is the acronym S.O.S, which stands for Safety, Ongoing Communication, and Summary.


S – Safety


The first step when a crisis occurs is always and most importantly safety. That is, safety for both the people and the money.


So, you first want to ensure the safety of both your residents and your team members on the ground. I own two apartment buildings in the Houston area. One building was unaffected, while the other was in the flood zone and received minor damage. Fortunately, from all accounts so far, the residents and team members on the ground are safe and secure.


From a money perspective, one of the properties took in small amounts of water. But, we have flood insurance. So, after we do a final assessment once the weather permits, we will determine if we will make an insurance claim or not.


O – Ongoing Communication


Once we have ensured the safety of the people and have an understanding of the initial damage done to the investment, we communicate that information to the investors.


Since this crisis was a hurricane, we had some degree of forewarning. So, once Harvey made landfall, we sent an initial email to investors to notify them if the property was impacted. And in this case, one of the properties wasn’t, so we relayed that information to our investors. For the property that did take in water, we communicated that information and stated that we would provide another, more detailed update once Harvey weakened.


A few days later, once the hurricane weakened, we sent the investors a second email with another status update and how we will manage the situation moving forward.


The important thing to remember here is to only provide sustentative information and not hour by hour updates.


S – Summary


In a week or two, we will have a better understanding of the situation. At that point, we will provide our investors with a summary of where we are netting out from an insurance claim standpoint, if there is one at all, as well as any other developments.


So, when a crisis occurs, the three step procedure is S.O.S. – safety of the people and the money, ongoing communication to provide your investors with status updates, and then providing a summary a few weeks later.


Three Ways To Thrive In A Trump Real Estate Market

This post was originally featured on Forbes Real Estate Council on Forbes.com.


If you’re a real estate investor and been keeping up with current events, chances are you’ve asked yourself this question: “How will Trump’s presidency affect the market?”


Since Donald Trump has made millions as a real estate entrepreneur, common sense says he will likely implement policies to strengthen the real estate industry. At the very least, he wouldn’t make a decision to undermine it. He wouldn’t hurt his own bottom line, right?


But with the current political climate as it is, it’s difficult to predict what Trump will do. If you’ve tuned in to any of the major news networks since the beginning of the 2016 presidential campaign, one of the most consistent things you’ve seen from Trump is … well, inconsistency.



I don’t know what will happen over the next four to eight years, and I don’t think anyone does —Trump included. I am not a politician, nor a political strategist. But I am a real estate entrepreneur. And the good news from a real estate perspective is that Trump’s actions shouldn’t matter.


Ultimately, as investors, we can’t make decisions based off of who the president is or who controls the House or the Senate. While Donald Trump’s inauguration and the ensuing tweetstorm are causing some Americans to celebrate and others to mourn, there are three simple principals that real estate investors must follow to thrive in the current market of uncertainty — tried and true methods that work in any market, at any time in the market cycle.


1. Don’t buy for appreciation.


Natural appreciation is a simple concept. It’s an increase in the value of an asset over time. From 2012 to 2016, for example, real estate prices in the U.S. as a whole increased by 13%, according to Zillow. If you purchased a property for $1 million in 2012 and sat on it, making no improvements, the property would have been worth $1.13 million in 2016.


Sounds like a good investment strategy, right?


Not necessarily.


It’s important to make a distinction between natural appreciation and forced appreciation. Forced appreciation involves making improvements to the asset that either decreases expenses or increases incomes, which in turn, increases the overall property value. Unlike forced appreciation, natural appreciation is completely outside of your control. Say you purchased the same property in the example above for $1 million in 2008. Four years later, the property value would have decreased by $229,000.


Many investors, past and present, buy for natural appreciation, and it is a gamble. Eventually, they all get burned—unless they’re extremely lucky. Buying for natural appreciation is like thinking you’ll get rich at a casino by playing roulette and only betting on black. Maybe you can double up a few times, but sooner or later the ball lands on red or — even worse — double zero green, and you lose it all.


That’s why I never buy for natural appreciation. Instead, I always buy for cash flow. When you buy for cash flow (and as long as you have a large supply of renters), you don’t care what the market is doing. In fact, if the market takes a dip, the demand for rentals will likely increase. When real home prices dropped 23% from 2008 to 2012, the number of renter-occupied housing units increased by 8%.


 2. Don’t over-leverage.


Leverage is one of the main benefits of investing in real estate.


Let’s say you have $100,000 to invest. If you decide to invest all of your money in Apple stock, you would control $100,000 worth of stock. On the other hand, if you wanted to invest all of your money in real estate, you could spend $100,000 on a down payment at 80% LTV (loan-to-value) and control $500,000 in real estate. If you’re a creative investor, you could use that $100,000 to control an even larger value of real estate. That’s the power of leverage.


But there’s also a catch.


The less money you put in the deal — or more specifically, the less equity you have in a deal — the more over-leveraged you are. Consequently, the higher your mortgage payment will be. In a hot market, over-leveraging may seem like a brilliant idea, but what happens when property values start to drop?


According to Zillow, from 2008 to 2012, real property prices in the U.S. dropped by over 20%. If you purchased a property in 2008 with less than 20% equity and wanted to sell in 2012, you would have lost a decent chunk of change.


My advice? Always have 20% equity in a property at a minimum. Avoid the tempting 0% down loans at all costs. Doing so (in tandem with committing to not buy for appreciation) will allow you to continue covering your mortgage payments in the event of a downturn.


3. Don’t get forced to sell.


When you’re forced to sell, you lose money.


The main reasons people are forced to sell or return properties to the bank are that they speculated and bought for appreciation, or got caught up in a hot market and were over-leveraged.


Another reason you would be forced to sell is if you have a balloon payment on a loan. This is typical for commercial real estate but not residential. The problem investors have is when they have a balloon payment come due during a downturn in the market.


A way to mitigate that risk is to be aware of when your balloon payment is due and plan years ahead of time for what type of exit strategy you are going to pursue.


Some common exit strategies are:


  • Selling the property
  • Refinancing into another loan
  • Paying off the balloon payment


By sticking to the three principles above, I’ve personally accumulated over $170 million in real estate assets over the past four years, and at the same time, I’ve helped countless of my investors generate passive income streams. Regardless of what President Trump does or doesn’t do over the next four or eight years, if you stick to these principles and invest in income-producing real estate, your investment portfolio will not just survive. It will thrive.


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direct mail

How to Get a 57% Response Rate on Your Direct Mail Campaigns


If you are sending out direct mail on a frequent basis, what is your response rate (i.e. the ratio of phone calls, text messages, emails, or other forms of communication in response to a piece of marketing to the overall pieces of marketing sent).








As far as I can tell, based on interviews on my podcast and from perusing the BiggerPockets forum, the average response rate range for direct mailing campaign falls somewhere between 0.5% and 5%.


However, what if I told you that you could increase that rate by a factor of 10 to 100?


Well, Jay Connor, who fix-and-flips 2-3 deals a month with an average profit of $64,000, created a direct mailing campaign with a 57% cumulative response rate*, which is indeed 10 to 100 times greater than the average rate!


*Cumulative response rate is the ratio of owner responses to the number of owners contacted. It is not based on the total pieces of marketing sent. For example, if 100 owners were contacted with 200 pieces of mail, and 10 replied on the first piece of mail and 10 replied on the second piece of mail, for a total of 20 replies, the cumulative response rate is 20% (20 replies / 100 owners), not 10% (20 replies / 200 piece of mail)


How does he do it? In our recent conversation, Jay outlined his 8-step direct mailing campaign that results in a response rate of almost 60%**.


**Keep in mind that all 57% of the replies did not result in a deal. Angry responses count too!


RELATED: Success Blueprint – How to Direct Mail to Delinquent Tax Lists


Principle #1 – Multi-piece, intensifying campaign


According to Jay, there are two keys to receiving such a high response rate.


First, you must send out a multi-piece campaign with each subsequent letter being an escalation of the last, as opposed to a single-piece campaign or a multi-piece campaign with each lettering being the same.


For Jay, he sends 8-different pieces of marketing to owners. He said, “Each message starts intensifying a little bit more and more. Each letter looks different; each letter is in a different envelope; each envelope is hand addressed; each envelope is a different color and different size. By the time we get to number seven and we get to number eight – we’re using a very big envelope on seven and eight – they actually get a gold tube with a rattle inside of it, just for the sake of curiosity. So of course, with each letter we also start talking about how time is running out and times is of the essence.”


RELATED: 3 Unique Ways to Increase Your Network and Generate More Leads


For context, that last part (“time is of the essence”) is in reference to the foreclosure date, because Jay’s main focus is on pre-foreclosed properties. Since these are pre-foreclosure properties, Jay said, “we also mail these letters three days apart. So here in North Carolina, from the time of a notice of default until the hearing day is typically about 4-6 weeks. After the hearing day, then the sale date is about two weeks after that. So it’s about eight weeks from the time of the notice of default. So at three days apart we’re going through these letters about every 24 days, and we’ll keep mailing the letters until we have a response or until the house goes to sale.”


Besides making certain changes based on your target property, the messaging for each letter, Jay said, is an iteration of “if you’re interested in a solution and having some cash to put in your pocket, reach out to us and we’ll see what we can do.”


To summarize, you goal is to create a schedule to send multiple letters with each being a different design and more intense than the previous letter and continuing to do so until the deal is 100% off-the-table (property was sold, owner asked to be removed from your mailing list, etc.).


RELATED: Three Marketing Methods to Wholesale 250 Deals a Year


Principle #2 – Offer Multiple Response Communication Channels


“One principle of marketing,” Jay said, “whether you’re a real estate investor or in any other industry is the more ways that you give a potential respondent to respond, the more response you get.”


Similar to the escalation of messaging, letter quality, envelope size and color, etc., for each letter, Jay offers additional ways for the owner to reply, and he has found that to increase his response rate substantially.


RELATED: How to Successfully Market for Real Estate Leads with TV Commercials


His progression is as follows:


  • Letter #1Cell phone number with an individual’s name (for Jay’s campaigns, this is a virtual assistant’s name) for them to call
  • Letter #2 – Cell phone number and email address
  • Letter #3 – Cell phone number, email address, and 24-hour recorded message hotline (because some owners are turned off by the prospect of talking to someone)
  • Letter #4 – Cell phone number, email address, hotline, and a tear-off where the owner can write down their information and mail the tear off back to Jay
  • Letter #5 – Cell phone number, email address, hotline, tear-off and (this will blow your mind) a fax number
  • Letter #6 and onwards – Cell phone number, email address, hotline, tear-off, fax number, and a number to text


Finally, for each letter, Jay provides a web address that sends them to a landing page. Overall, he offers seven different ways for the owner to reply.


RELATED: The Most Effective Lead Generation Tactics & Importance of Follow Up




Jay Connor, an investor who fix-and-flips foreclosed SFRs, conducts an 8-step direct mail campaign that receives a 57% cumulative response rate. Sometimes he receives a response on the first letter; sometimes he receives a response on the 8th letter; sometimes he receives a response with someone cussing him out.


In order to increase your response rate, Jay recommends following two marketing principles: (1) Create a progressive, intensifying, multi-piece mailing campaign and (2) offer multiple response communication channels



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How Do I Know If I’m Ready to Become an Apartment Syndicator?


When considering to make the transition from either a corporate job or another smaller real estate niche (i.e. SFR rentals, fix-and-flipping, etc.) to apartment syndication, one important question, and one in which I myself had to answer, is how do I know I am ready?


Simply put, based on personal experience and more so based on interviewing hundreds of investors, you first need to address your education, and then you needed establish a track record in either business or real estate. Getting the proper education and having a track record in a similar field is a requirement to successfully switch to apartment syndication.


However, after a recent conversation with James Eng, who’s currently a partner in 2,500 multifamily units and arranges financing on over $100 million in multifamily properties every year, there are two additional criteria the aspiring investor needs to address prior to moving into the syndication business.


James also believes that education and experience are both foundational to successfully shifting to the syndication model, but he takes it a few steps further. He said, “Depending on where you want to be in 3-5 years, I want to understand sort of where you’re going. The education piece is important, so that when you start looking at deals… A lot of people, we will review their personal financial statement today, and then we we’ll lay out ‘Okay, based on your financials and based off of your experience and based on the amount of time you have, is it better for you to be a general partner or a limited partner, or maybe a key principle on someone else’s deal?’ and understand that piece of it so that you can start taking steps in the correct direction. That’s usually how we start – education, and then understanding what your personal financial situation is today.”


Related: 16 Lessons from Over $175,000,000 in Multifamily Syndications


The two added factors James provided are time and money – what is your personal financial situation and how much time can you dedicate towards this? The answer to those two questions will not only determine if you are ready for apartment syndication, but also what role you should assume when you begin. James said, “Let’s say you come to me and you say ‘I want be a general partner, but I also have a full-time job (time) and also I have limited capital to even put down earnest money (money).’ That’s going to be very difficult for someone to get started, so I might recommend somebody like that to build your education piece, build your capital, and then let’s go try to get some deals under contract.”


In the example above, the individual doesn’t have the time to get a general partner –  how are they supposed to manage the project, find deals, bring on investors, etc while working all day? Also, they don’t have capital, so they can’t invest their own funds in the deal, which means there isn’t an alignment of interest –  investors prefer it that the general partnership invests their own funds in the deal. Therefore, for the time being, all they can do is work on their education and financial situation (or follow one of these 6 creative ways for breaking into the multifamily business).


Basically, the aspiring syndicator should rank themselves on all four factors – time, money, experience, education – to determine which role, if any, is the ideal starting point.


Only have the money, but no time? One option is to start off as a limited partner by being a passive investor in the deal in order to gain experience and education.


Have experience (real estate or business related), time and education, but no capital? Those were my circumstances when starting out, and I started as the general partner by bringing on private money investors to fund the deal.


Lacking in all four areas? Read some books, listen to investing podcasts, get hands on experience in either business or real estate (learn how do accomplish this for free here), and/or start building up capital.


The goal is to take some form of action to start heading in the right direction, towards becoming an apartment syndicator.


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6 Ways to Increase Your Website Traffic: Q&A w/ Online Marketing Expert Neil Patel

If you could snap your fingers and be granted one wish for your real estate business, what would it be? An endless stream of deals? More customers? Something else?


Since you aren’t finding a magic lamp anytime soon, the next best course of action is: what is the main driver of all the things on your wish list (more deals, more buyers, more private money, etc.)?


The answer: your website. If you can increase the visibility, viewership, and conversion rate of your website, then your wish list should take care of itself.


One of the best entrepreneurs out there that teaches business owners how to optimize their website is Neil Patel. He is a marketing and online guru with many distinctions, including Top Influencer on the Web (Wall Street Journal), Top 10 Online Marketer (Forbes), 100 Most Brilliant Companies in the World (Entrepreneur Magazine), Top 100 Entrepreneur (President Obama).


In our recent conversation, Neil provided his sage advice on how to drive more traffic to your website. In the following Q&A, you’ll learn when to focus on increasing traffic vs. increasing conversion, how to increase your unique visitors and optimize conversion, what to do when starting a blog, how to increase SEO ranking, and the common mistake made when establishing an online presence.


Be sure to visit Neil’s blog for even more marketing and online guidance.


1: If I had to pick between the two, which should I be focusing on: increasing traffic or increasing conversions?


“It depends. If you don’t have a ton of traffic, then you should focus on traffic. If you have a lot of traffic, then focus on conversion.”


“I usually say if you’re under 10,000 [unique visitors per month], focus on traffic. If you’re over 10,000, focus more on conversion. Unless you’re in a B2B segment in which each customer is worth hundreds of thousands of millions of dollars. [If that is the case], the moment you’ve reached 3,000 visitors, focus on conversion.”


2: What is an easy way to increase my number of unique visitors?


“One of the simplest ways [to increase unique visitors] is go look up all of your articles that you have written, or podcasts or videos that you have produced, go put in competitor ones or ones that are similar – you can google to find them – and put in that URL into search.twitter.com. You’ll see everyone else who shared it. Message them and try to get them to share yours. They already shared similar content, why won’t they share yours?”


“Little things like that work extremely well, and if you do those over time, you’ll get more social shares, you’ll get more readers, more repeat visitors, and your overall traffic will go up.”


In other words, find the competition, see who is sharing their articles, and ask those accounts to share your content too.


3: Once I have over 10,000 unique visitors per month, how do I convert those visitors into customers?


“The way I drive conversions is I use tools like Hello Bar, I do e-mail pop-up sliders, modal [window]


“I also do things like running A/B tests, I do user recordings to see mouse movements [to identify] where people are getting stuck, to see where the drop off is within your funnel, and that’s the area you probably want to focus on first.”


Related: Secrets to Increasing the Conversion Rate on Your Website


4: I want to create my first blog. What advice would you give me for maximizing my success?


“I would actually say use WordPress, and make sure URL structures don’t have dates in them; a lot of times WordPress likes putting dates in URLs. With one click of a button you can get rid of that.”


“When a URL has dates – I used to have that in 2016, and when I removed the dates, my search traffic went up by over 50% in less than 30 days, the reason being when your URL… Mine is NeilPatel.com, and then it’s /date/coast-title, Google associates it with the date, so then over time it doesn’t continually rank well. When you remove the dates, they realize that ‘Hey, this article is related to marketing (or real estate or whatever it may be) and not a specific date,’ then you rank better.”


“The biggest thing other than using WordPress is just focus on content and focus on what’s popular. You can put in competitor URLs on Ahrefs and BuzzSumo and you’ll see what terms and what content that your competitors are writing are really popular.”


“From there, what you want to do is write similar articles, but that are just more detailed and better. But the key is if you see what other people are.”


 5: What are the best practices for increasing my SEO ranking on Google?


More detailed and better content, and then from there, reaching out to everyone who shared all the other online marketing articles on Twitter and asking them to share mine.”


“Then cross-linking for my own posts. Anytime I reference online marketing, I link to that main ‘cornerstone’ content, which would be that guide on online marketing.”


“With cross-linking, what I mean by that is let’s say you write an article on how to sell a home and make money as a realtor. Let’s say you have a detailed guide called ‘The Beginner’s Guide To Being a Realtor,’ but now you’re writing this new blog post called ‘How To Make Money Selling Homes.’ Let’s say you talk about ‘Yeah, right when you get your realtor license and you’re just starting off…,’ you may want to link that ‘Hey, when you’re getting started as a realtor and you just got your license and you’re starting off’ – whatever that phrase may be, link it to that guide on ‘The Beginner’s Guide To Being a Realtor.’ That’s an internal cross-linking.”


6: What is a common mistake you see entrepreneurs make when they’re establishing an online presence?


“A big mistake that I’m seeing when people are trying to [establish an online presence is] they expect results right away and they don’t stick with things… The reason being is marketing in general – content marketing, or any form of online marketing – takes time to see results and build that brand. To build that brand you have to do different types of marketing; you can’t just be like ‘I want to build a brand,’ right?”


“Whatever you’re trying to do and you’re trying to market, it takes time, and its consistency. Most people, when they’re trying to build that personal brand or get more traffic or grow their business, they’re doing it for a month or two and then they just stop.”


“It takes six months to see some decent results, one year to see good results, two years to really start seeing it flourish and grow.”


“You need to be writing content multiple times a week, you need to be sharing posts on the social web multiple times a week, you need to be participating in the community multiple times a week. You can’t do everything; you should do SEO every week, content marketing, social media marketing… But pick one or two channels of those and then go from there. So whatever it is, do it multiple times a week and just pick two or one if that’s all you have time for, and then as you have more time, expand into two, and then expand into three etc.”



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3 Techniques to Evaluate an Out-of-State Real Estate Market

Can’t find cash flowing deals in your local market? Don’t throw in the towel just yet. Have you considered looking elsewhere, in out-of-state markets?


If you decide to seek investment opportunities outside of your local market, you’ll need to learn how to evaluate a new market, and how to do so quickly – preferably in one trip. You don’t have years, or even weeks, to get to know a new market organically. You need to quickly develop a basic understanding of the market. And once you’ve qualified a potential market, you need to know which areas are trending and which areas to avoid.


Omar Ruiz, who’s been an investor and asset/property manager for over 10 years, is an out-of-state investor. He lives in Orange County and invests in Texas and more recently, Indianapolis. In our recent conversation, he explained the three techniques he used in order to learn the Indianapolis market prior to buying his first investment.


Related: How These Two Market Factors Will Make or Break Your Real Estate Business


#1 – Talk to the locals


Omar’s first approach is to speak with the locals. Who better to speak with to learn the story and attributes of a market or neighborhood than the people who actually live there. In fact, without speaking to the locals, there are certain facts and pieces of information that would be nearly impossible to uncover otherwise.


Omar said, “when I was down [in Indianapolis] for one of my first visits, I actually ate at a Bob Evans restaurant. I went and had breakfast there, and I was talking to the waitress girl. She was a student, and I was actually asking her – she was giving me some info about where she lives and what she was paying, and I told her ‘Yeah, I’m looking at some of these places over here, blah-blah-blah.’ And she would tell me ‘Oh, stay away from this area’ or ‘Stay away from that area…’ She was a student at the college, she kind of gave me some information about the college as well.”


Think about it. if someone asked you which areas are the best and which areas are the worst in the market in which you currently live, you’d probably have enough to say to fill an encyclopedia. I know I would.


When visiting and studying an out-of-state market, speak to the locals. Waiters/waitresses, baristas, gas station attendants, bartenders, the neighbors, current residents (if touring a property), etc. Essentially anyone who is willing to talk to you, and obtain as much insider information as you can.


#2 – Drive the market and take notes on a printed map


Another approach of Omar’s is to drive the entire market. However, rather than stare at his iPhone using Google Maps to get around, he picks up a printed map at a local gas station (and speaks to the attendant of course – see #1).


“What I like to do actually is instead of using the map on my phone, and Google Maps or something digital there, I’ll actually go up to a gas station and I’ll pick up a regular map of the city, a printed map,” Omar said. “Then what I do is go as much as I can throughout town and make notes on that map. Because when I’m driving around the area and I just use my phone, if I see an area that ‘Okay, this looks interesting here,’ when I come back and I try to recall that moment, it’s not that easy. But when I have that paper map there, and I actually make notations on there, I’ll say, ‘Okay, this area is bad’ and I’ll probably pinpoint and circle some properties that I looked at, put the name of it, and then I can see ‘Okay, this property was there. This is what I remember about it,’ and then certain areas that are just bad, I’ll try to kind of circle around that area. That’s been very helpful for me.”


Related: How to Successfully Familiarize Yourself with an Out-of-State Real Estate Market


WARNING: if you follow this method, make notes and markings when the vehicle is completely stopped! Fail to do so and understanding a new market will be the least of your worries…


Likely, there are cell phone apps that can accomplish the same thing, but the point is to log neighborhood information – the good, the bad, and the ugly –  while it’s still top of mind, rather than waiting until you get back to the hotel or home.


If you want to get fancy, you can use highlighters and a color-coding system to track information on a street-by-street basis (i.e. red for ugly, yellow for bad, green for good) or however detailed you want to get. When Omar performs this exercise, he looks for things like stores with “EBT accepted here” signs, boarded up homes, the types of vehicles on the street, Starbucks-type businesses, markets and convenient stores, and retail. But again, you can be as detailed or as ambiguous as you please.


Related: How One Market Factor Can Tell You It’s Time to Invest or Sell


#3 – Leverage the Census


Omar’s third approach, which can be done prior to or after visiting a market in-person or back in the hotel room, is to use Census data to find income statistics. “I look at the income statistics for a certain area, and I use a very methodical way of doing it,” he said. “If the majority percentage of incomes are on the low end of the scale, then that right there tells you that it’s going to be a lower income area, high crime, management intensive. Not to say that that might be a bad [market]. There’s some people that target those kind of properties in those areas and they probably do very well, but you have to have the right team in place. You have to have the right type of manager, and the right team around that manager to make those types of deals work out.”


Look up income statistics on the Census and within a few minutes, you’ll know exactly the type of person who is living in that market. Add in the information gained from speaking with the locals and mapping out the territory and you’ll have enough knowledge to find the cash flowing friendly areas, start analyzing deals and submitting offers with a good degree of confidence.




If you have the desire to invest out-of-state, you need a plan for how to gain a basic understanding of a new market.


Here are three techniques to help speed up the learning curve:


  • Speak to the locals
  • Map out the territory (literally)
  • Look up income statistics using the Census



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Secrets to Increasing the Conversion Rate on Your Website

You’ve spent countless hours and dollars increasing your website traffic, but you are finding it nearly impossible to convert visitors into customers (whatever that happens to mean to you).


What are you doing wrong?


Well, when people visit your website, they need to be both guided and motivated to take action. According to Chris Dayley, who is a VP of a site testing agency helping businesses learn what users want on their website through psychology based testing and analytics, to ensure that you are converting as many people as possible, it is necessary to optimize what he calls “motivation factors,” of which there are three. In our recent conversation, he explained how improving your website’s content, value proposition, and call to action will dramatically increase your conversion rate.


1 – Content


One major driver of conversions is the content offered on your site. It’s also one of the first factors Chris analyzes when optimizing a client’s site. “What content do you have on your site, how much of that content is there, [and] is it relevant?,” he will ask. The type and amount of content you offer on your website is highly dependent on what your website offers (more on that in section 2) and the audience you are targeting.


For my website, my primary target audience is accredited investors interested in passively investing in apartment deals, and then secondarily, individuals interested in becoming apartment syndicators. Therefore, my content needs to be highly relevant to those specific audiences. For example, content about wholesaling and fix-and-flipping, while valuable to a large percentage of the real estate investing population, isn’t helping to convert my target audience.


If you are not achieving your desired conversion rates, start by questioning your website’s content and making the necessary adjustments. One way to accomplish this through by A/B testing. For example, Chris said, “Maybe our audience wants a lot of content, maybe they don’t, so let’s ask a question – how much content do they want? And then let’s test three different versions of our site – one that has a lot of content, one that has a medium amount, and one that has hardly any.” Based on the results, you can determine which option results in the most page views, conversions, or some other metric. Then, you can conduct a similar A/B test on content type to work towards understanding which content results in the most conversions.


Related: Self-Publishing Your Way to Thought Leadership, Leads, Money, and Much More 


2 – Value Proposition


The second major driver of conversions is the website’s value proposition. “What value do you have for your audience?,” Chris said. For example, “for realtors, this is going to be you’ve got a home; people looking for a home, and you’ve got a home. Then it may be certain aspects of the home that you want to highlight. You’ve got a home that has a pool, you’ve got a home that has a great location, you’ve got a home that has a great view – whatever it may be. That’s your value proposition. Whatever value you have for the audience.”


The goal is for someone visiting your site to easily and immediately identify your main value proposition. If they can’t, then in their minds you aren’t adding value, so why would you expect them to contact you for your services? Figure out what it is the most valuable thing you are offering a visitor of your website and then figure out how to make highly visible and accessible. Similarly to optimizing your content, this can be accomplished through identifying and understanding your target audience, and then A/B testing different propositions or call-to-actions (more on that in section 3).


A common mistake people make with value propositions is distracting visitors with other offers. Chris said, “you might have a ton of other homes that people want to check out, or if you’ve got them to a relevant page that has a value proposition that will be valuable to them, you don’t want to take them to other homes, you don’t want to take them to other pages on your site. You want them to sign up or to reach out and contact you now. So we try to identify anything that could potentially be distracting.” If you are failing to convert visitors and your site is riddled with other offers, that may be your problem.


Related: 5-Steps to Build a Million Dollar Consulting Program from Scratch


3 – Call-to-Action


You’ve optimized the content to get visitors to your website and you’ve placed your value proposition front-and-center so visitors understand how they can benefit from your offering.  Now it’s time to convert them with a powerful call-to-action.


“The call-to-action is a critically important one because if you want someone to reach out to you, if you want them to give you a call, that needs to be the thing that stands out on your site more than anything else.”


Similar to the value proposition, Chris said the call-to-action “needs to be very obvious. It needs to be colorful, color contrast on the page. It just needs to be very obvious.”


To determine the ideal call-to-action, you will conduct even more A/B testing. Test different call-to-action designs, pop-up locations and timing, offers, etc. and see which one gets the most conversions.


Now, at this point you may be thinking, “Joe, the call-to-action and value proposition seem like they are the same. What’s up with that?” Well, according to Chris, you are correct in that observation. If you want to achieve the highest conversion rate, you want to combine the two.


He said, “I ran a test for a client of mine… It’s just a content site, so they want people to come and read content, read articles, engage with things, so they obviously want e-mail subscribers; that’s a big deal to them. We were testing for what is going to prompt people to actually give us their e-mail address. Will they just give it if we say ‘Get regular updates from us?’ or do we need to have some kind of an offer? I’m going suggest that you should always have an offer on your e-mail pop-ups. It could be something like Five Things That Every Person Should Know Before Buying a Home, or an e-book, or some kind of free content that you can offer people and say ‘Sign up now to get our free e-book on…,’ whatever.  That can be hugely beneficial to figure out what kind of content do people want there. That’s your call to action AND your value proposition.” In other words, you call-to-action is used to offer your value proposition in exchange for what you want from them (i.e. their email address).


The main mistake people make on call-to-actions is causing anxiety in their visitors. When analyzing a client’s call-to-action, Chris said, “we look at things that could potentially cause anxiety. The things that cause anxiety a lot of times are if I can’t figure out what to do, if I have to take multiple steps in order to actually do what you want. So if there’s a button that says ‘Click here to contact us’ and then I click there and then it takes me to another page and I have to click another button in order to get a form, that’s a high anxiety process.” To avoid that mistake, minimize the number of steps from the initial call-to-action pop-up and the submission of their information.




To increase conversions on your website, optimize the three “motivations factors”:


  1. Content – Attracts and engages visitors
  2. Value Proposition – What you offer that will add value to a visitor
  3. Call-to-Action – Guides the visitor to take an action step you want


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Four Tactics to Buy a Large Commercial Property as Your First Investment

Investing in your first property can be a nerve racking experience. Whether you’re house hacking a duplex, rehabbing and renting a single-family, or buying a turnkey four-unit property, the novelty and your lack of experience will make for an interesting yet exciting first couple of months, or even years.


Regardless, most real estate investors start small and either remain that way, or gradually progress to larger and larger projects. Brian Murray, who owns over $40 million in apartments and other commercial assets, did took the exact opposite approach. Rather than start with a single-family, a four-unit, or even a 20-unit, his first investment was a 50,000-square foot office building.


In our recent conversation, Brian explained four reasons why he was able to successfully start his investment career with such a large property and why you can do the same, regardless of your base skill set.


#1 – Creative Financing: Assume the Loan


In 2007, Brian purchased a 50,000-square foot office building for $836,000 which was his first investment. Since Brian is a go-getter, not only did he go straight for a large property, but he went for a large AND distressed property. “It was in pretty bad distress,” Brian said. “It was less than half occupied. It was not well maintained, but it was very well located.”


Being Brian’s first investment, he didn’t have much money and had no prior real estate experience. As a result, he was rejected from the banks and was unable to secure a loan. But that didn’t stop him. Using creative financing, he was able to get the deal done by assuming the seller’s existing mortgage, which was $730,000.


Related: Pay Attention to These Five Loan Components to Maximize Your Apartment Returns


#2 – Credits for Deferred Maintenance and Discrepancies


For an extra level of creativity, Brian was also able to negotiate credits for deferred maintenance.  “One of the things I negotiated was to get credit at closing equal to the value of their reserve replacement,” Brian explained. “They had a couple of other reserve accounts with the bank that I was able to negotiate credits at closing in that amount.”


With the combination of assuming the mortgage and getting credits from the seller, Brian was able to take over the building with very little cash out-of-pocket.


However, Brian didn’t stop there. During the due diligence phase, he uncovered discrepancies between what the contract and leases said and what he actually saw at the property. For example, “one of the things that was wrong was the rent roll. There were tenants on the rent roll that just plain didn’t exist. There were spaces that the rent roll had indicated were occupied that when I went and actually physically toured the property, I realized they were actually vacant.” Brian was able get more credit from the seller for things that he discovered during the phase. He said, “It all worked out to keep that initial amount of cash [out-of-pocket] fairly limited.”


This anecdote supports the best ever advice of always doing your due diligence.


#3 – Pay Attention to Decrease Expenses


One of the main reasons why this deal was so successful is because Brian was able to quickly decrease excessive expenses and make the building cash flow positive after year one. The two main expenses he cut were the utilities and the salary of the building’s superintendent, which he accomplished in one fell swoop.


At the time of purchase, the property had one employee – a superintendent. The superintendent was responsible for coming in early, opening up, and prepping the space. “That means,” Brian described, “unlocking the door, turning the lights on, checking the bathrooms, doing a walk through, and then just general maintenance in terms of landscaping [and] cleaning.” In this particular case, Brian discovered that the current superintendent wasn’t doing a whole lot. In fact, he had a woodshop set up and was doing side work during the workday! “The owners were from outside the area and weren’t keeping an eye on it, [so] the place looked terrible. There was trash all over in the front yard [and] there was no landscaping to speak of. It had really been let go.”


On top of that, the superintendent wasn’t controlling the heating and cooling system. “He literally would crank the air conditioner on high 24/7,” stated Brian. “If the tenants were too cold, they had to open their windows and let some warm air in.” In the fall, the superintendent would do the same with the heat. In short, money was literally being pumped out the window every day!


On Brian’s first day of ownership, he confronted the superintendent. “I asked him how to control the thermostat, and he said, ‘there’s no way to adjust it. It’s locked.’ I said, ‘you can’t tell me how to control the temperature?’ and he said, ‘no, I don’t know how.’ So that was his first and last day in my ownership.” Brian called the thermostat manufacturer and they walked him through how to unlock and program the thermostat.


After relieving the superintendent of his duties, Brian saw a substantial decrease in expenses. “I was able to program [the thermostat] so it turned down at night [and] turned down on weekend. By keeping a close eye on that, I cut the utilities bill in half in the first year. By cutting the salary of a superintendent [and] by cutting my energy bills in half right out of the gate, the building turned cash flow positive.”


Related: Four Strategies to Reduce Your Largest Business Expense – TAXES


#4 – Reinvest Profits to Boost Property Value


After turning the property cash flow positive after decreasing his expenses by cutting both his utility bill and superintendent’s salary, Brian didn’t pocket the extra cash. Rather, he reinvested it right back into the property. “That’s another thing I stay true to to this day: I always plow the vast majority of the money back into the properties and keep reinvesting back in. That’s a part of how you build value.”


With the decrease in expenses and reinvestment back into the building, the “property’s probably worth $3 million.” That’s more than triple the original purchase price of $836,000!


Related: The Four Overlooked Benefits of Real Estate Investing




Brian’s Best Ever advice is to “think big. Don’t be deterred … Don’t be intimidated by those biggest properties.” He said, “I think people are intimidated by the larger properties, but they really shouldn’t be because the bigger you go, the more flexibility there is in how you can finance it. There’s a lot more opportunity that opens up to you.”


This advice manifested from Brian’s first ever real estate purchase – the 50,000 square foot office building. During this experience, he learned:


  1. Creative financing techniques with little to no money out-of-pocket when you can’t secure a loan from a bank
  2. To negotiate to get credits from the seller for deferred maintenance
  3. To check contracts and leases against what’s actually happening at the property, and negotiate credits if you find any discrepancies
  4. How to investigate to find ways decrease expenses
  5. Reinvesting profits back into the property is how you quickly build your net worth


After applying these lessons, Brian’s more than tripled the value of his first property, and he was able to expand from one property and zero employees to 30 properties and 16 employees in less than 10 years.


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4 Legal Ways to Get Paid Raising Capital for Apartment Deals


A question I receive all the time is how can I make money from connecting syndicators with high net worth individuals? Unfortunately, it is not as simple as going out into the market and just doing it. There are rules and regulations around the money-raising business, and the main issue is making sure you aren’t performing broker dealer activities. If you are doing so without the proper certification, you are breaking the law.


Amy Wan, a crowdfunding lawyer who was named one of 10 women to watch in the legal technology industry by the American Bar Association Journal, is an expert on the rules that regulate the money raising industry. In our recent conversation, she provided four ways you can legally raise money without being a broker or a dealer.


Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is educational purposes only. This is not legal advice. Consult with an attorney before taking any action!


What is a Broker Dealer?


There are four things that regulators look at when determining whether someone is engaging in unlicensed broker activities. Amy said those four things are:


  • “Are they taking transaction-based compensation? Transaction-based compensation is basically payments based on the transaction amount – how much money they’re bringing to the table. [For example], commissions, straight up commissions – that’s definitely transaction-based compensation.”
  • “Are they soliciting or going out and trying to find potential investors?”
  • “Is that person providing advice or engaging in negotiations? Are they helping to structure this deal in any way?”
  • “Do they have previous securities deals experience or history of disciplinary action?”


If you are involved in the activities outlined above, you are engaging in broker dealer activities.


Assuming you want to raise money without getting your broker dealer’s license, here are four options to pursue.


#1 – Become the Issuer


As a broker dealer, by definition you are selling securities to other people. So one option is to sell securities to yourself by becoming a part of the issuer. Amy said, “If you become part of the issuer, and what that means is you’re not just raising money, you need to be doing other things that area a little bit more day-to-day. But if you are part of the management or the GP or whatever it is who’s the active sponsor, then suddenly you’re not selling securities for others, you’re selling securities for yourself.”


The key here, and to most of the other options I will outline below, is to perform additional duties on top of raising the money. Amy said, for example, “maybe the guy helps them set up their bank account. Maybe he advises them on what strategies they should use for student housing, or any other area that maybe he can contribute. Maybe he’s helping out with property management, or helping with monthly distributions. Something that’s not purely just the raising capital. If he is involved actively in some of the day-to-day AND he’s raising capital, suddenly we’re not raising money for other people. We’re raising for the money for ourselves and that’s okay.”


Related: 6 Creative Ways to Break Into Multifamily Syndication


#2 – Give Class B Interest


Your second option is similar to the first, but instead of being a part of the issuer or management, you’re a part of a separate entity. The syndication can be structured with two classes of ownership interests. One is class A, which is for the investors, and another is class B, which goes to you.


When following this strategy, Amy said, “instead of them being a part of management, they’re not actually a part of the owner or the issuer anymore. They are a separate entity. You are giving them some of the class B shares, even though they’re not actually part of the management.”


However, just like option #1, you want to perform additional duties on top of raising money, and the compensation cannot be based on how much money was raised. “If you give a guy maybe 5% of whatever the class B interest is, if you make it not transactional-based compensation – maybe he gets 5% regardless of whether he brings in a million dollars or a hundred thousand – that starts looking a lot less like being a broker dealer,” Amy explained.
“And again, just as with the last example, even if they’re not a part of the management, it’d be nice if they could provide some sort of additional service. Maybe it’s them personally guaranteeing the loan. So even if they’re not bringing capital, they’re helping you get capital from the bank because they’ve signed the loan documents.”


#3 – Charge a Finder’s Fee


For a more creative option, you can charge a finder’s fee. However, just like the previous two options, you need to be careful to not tie the fee to the amount of money raised so it’s not transactional-based compensation. It should be a flat fee.


You also need to be careful when soliciting investors, which applies to all four options. Amy said, “when we’re soliciting investors, what we don’t want to do is to pre-screen or to recommend an investment or anything of the sort. But if it’s a mere e-mail introduction to someone who’s just interested in learning about multifamily apartments generally, and the person happens to know that this guy also happens to be interested in investing in real estate, that on its face is okay.”


When doing investor outreach, you don’t want to say something like, “Hey, Joe has this amazing 250-unit apartment complex that he’s raising five million dollars for. You should take a look at this.” You want to do soft introductions and nothing more.


#4 – Become a Consultant


The last option that Amy sees a lot is to negotiate with the issuer to become their consultant. And again (sounding like a broken record), the compensation structure cannot be based on the amount of money raised.


As a consultant, Amy said, “they’ll sign a consulting agreement. The consultant has to do a number of things. One of them could be going out and helping to raise capital or make those introductions. But it has to be that this consulting agreement is not merely raising. What we’re paying the consultant is not based on how much capital this person brings in, and as is the general theme here, they should have some sort of other job too.”




In order to make money by raising capital for apartment deals, you must avoid performing broker dealer duties. Your four options are:


  • Become part of the issuer
  • Give class B interest
  • Charge a finder’s fee
  • Become a consultant


Finally, before doing anything, run your plan by an attorney. Amy offered to provide advice or connect you with an attorney. You can find her at www.bootstraplegal.com.


Related: 4 Skillsets Needed Prior to Raising Private Money for Apartment Deals



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Four Strategies to Reduce Your Largest Business Expense – TAXES


As real estate entrepreneurs, do you know what is our biggest expense? It’s not resident related expenses. It’s not interest on our mortgage. It’s TAXES.


We can strategize to decrease other expenses all we want, but if we really want to make the biggest dent in our costs, we must start focusing on minimizing our taxes.


Diane Gardner, a certified tax coach, launched a business with the specific focus of providing tax advice and offering tax planning for real estate investors of all sizes and experience levels. In our recent conversation, she provided four legal ways to reduce our tax bill.


Related: How to Save Thousands of Dollars on Your Taxes Via Cost Segregation


#1 – Right entity type


The first thing you need to do to decrease your tax bill is make sure you are in the right entity type. Many investors, especially beginners, will hold property in their personal names. Not only does this open you up to potential liability issues down the road, but it also opens you up to paying unnecessary taxes.


Diane said, “by being able to move [properties] over possibly into a different type of entity, whether it be an LLC, an S Corp, a C Corp, or something along those line, they were able to do some tax planning with that, because we have more to work with at that point.” For example, she said, “we can look into setting up a management company and hiring maybe a spouse to work in that company, and then being able to write off potentially 100% of all your out-of-pocket medical costs.”


By being in the right entity, there are a lot of nice tax strategies that will decrease your tax bill, which you wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of by keeping the properties in your personal name.


#2 – Automobile deductions


Another basic tax deduction are automobile related expenses, which Diane said are often overlooked. “Make sure that they’re taking advantage of all their auto deductions, whether they’re taking standard mileage or they’re actually tracking actual costs,” she said.


#3 – Meals and entertainment


A third, and also often overlooked tax deduction are meals and entertainment. “How many times are they meeting with potential investors, potential seller, buyers, whatever it might be? Make sure that they’re taking full advantage of that write-off as well.”


These first three strategies – right entity type, automobile deductions, and meals and entertainment –  are simple and should be implemented immediately to decrease your tax bill this year.


#4 – Hiring family, both children, spouses, AND parents


A more complicated, but lucrative tax strategy is hiring family members to work in your business. You may know that you can hire your children to work in your business, but did you know you can hire your parents as well? Diane’s mom has been working in her business for years. It helps lessen her tax burden, but secondarily, it benefits her mother by providing her with extra income while her “dignity remains intact because now [she’s] feeling worthwhile and important again.”


Diane said, my mom “needs just that extra little bit each month to make ends meet, so I have hired her to work in my business. She fills out a time sheet, just like all my other staff do. She gets paid an hourly rate. We have her do various things around the office, and in the end, I would be helping her whether it came out of my personal pocket or it came out of my business pocket. But by hiring her to work in my business, I’m able to write off that many, versus I just cut her a check out of my personal account. That’s not a write-off for me.”


This strategy is slightly more complicated than the previous three because there is a little more effort and work required. Diane said, “you do want to have a job description and you want to have and keep a time sheet. And you actually have to set them up on payroll. You can’t just give them money and then at the end of the year to do a journal entry and drop this into my books so I can take it off my taxes. You actually have to pay them payroll and withhold the appropriate taxes, and just really make the point that they are a bonified employee, and that you are paying them a reasonable salary or a reasonable hourly wage.”


Related: Three Tax Strategies You Didn’t Know About to Save You Thousands




Taxes are our single greatest expense as real estate entrepreneurs. To decrease your tax bill for this year, implement the following four strategies:


  • Make sure you are in the right entity type
  • Take advantage of all automobile related deductions
  • Start logging and writing-off meals and entertainment
  • Hire family members



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Three Tax Strategies You Didn’t Know About to Save You Thousands


When was the last time your accountant brought you an idea that saved you thousands of dollars in taxes?


That was the question that pushed Travis Jennings, who has educated the wealthy on better techniques to improve their finances, investments, and taxes for over a decade, to launch an automated online platform to share the solutions of the top 1 percent with beginner investors. In our recent conversation, he provided three techniques to save thousands of dollars on this year’s taxes.


Technique #1 – Rent your house to your business


If you create a LLC, then by definition, you are a business owner. As a business owner, there are many different ways to decrease your tax bill. One well known example is deducting the square footage of your home office. However, what most investors don’t know is that they can rent their entire house for business events.


Travis said, “let’s say that I threw a pool party and I invited a friend of mine that was potentially going to become a client. Well, as long as we discuss business and we take notes, I get to rent my home to my business for that day.”


To determine how much in rent you can deduct, go to a site like Zillow.com, look up your homes estimated monthly rent, divide by 30, and that is how much you can write off for each event. For example, let’s say Zillow says your home could potentially be rented for $3,000 a month. That’s $100 per day. If you host a business event once a month, that’s a $1200 savings.


Travis said, “there’s some structure to that. You want to take notes. You want to have [meeting] minutes. You kind of want to briefly write down what you discussed that was business, and just in case one day you ever get audited, you’ll have some proof as to what you did.”


I host a monthly poker event with some friends and investors, so I plan on implementing this strategy immediately, and you should too!


Technique #2 – Hire your kids


Do you have kids? Put them to work and realize even more tax savings. Travis has three kids, and he puts all three to work at his home office. Once your kids turn seven, which is the age of Travis’s youngest, you can hire them.


Travis said, “you may have heard of this, but I’m going to give you a twist that’s even more fun. So what if we hired our kids at the 0% tax rate? What if we paid them $6,300 a year? Well, then effectively what we would be doing is shifting dollars off of my tax return and putting it onto their tax return. And if we’re paying them just enough to be in the 0% tax rate, if I’m in the 40% tax rate, I’ve just saved 40%. So on 3 kids at $6,300 a piece, I’ve just saved myself about $8,000 in taxes.”


Technique #3 – See if you have the right CPA


The biggest mistake a typical real estate investor makes from a tax standpoint is never upgrading accountants. “I would say that most investors – real estate included – don’t start off with the ten million dollar projects,” Travis said. “They build up to it. So then the accounting professional or your tax advisor is typically the advisor that you had in the beginning. I would say that most people don’t grow or they don’t reevaluate their trusted advisors enough. They just roll with what they’re comfortable with.”


The CPA that specializes in new development and a standard CPA, for example, have two completely different skill sets. If you have the wrong CPA for your niche, you could be missing out on huge tax savings.


A great way to determine if your CPA is the right fit, and if they are capable of getting you the most tax savings, Travis said to ask them “Can you tell me about one of the solutions in the last month or so that you implemented with a different client to save them a bunch of money in taxes?” He said, “if they stutter, if they seem unsure how to answer it, then they’re probably not doing a lot of proactive tax planning.”


Related: How to Save Thousands of Dollars on Your Taxes Via Cost Segregation



Which of these three tax strategies will you implement? Leave you answer in the comments below.


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Pay Attention to These Five Loan Components to Maximize Your Apartment Returns

Multifamily syndicators focus so much on getting equity for current or future deals,
but then they go with the first bank that offers them a loan, especially on the first few deals. In reality, the type of loan we put on the apartment is just as important as raising equity for the deal.


Large commercial loans are not the same as the cookie-cutter residential loans. There are a multitude of options when it comes to commercial financing. When you are dealing with multimillion dollar loans, the difference between two loans can have a huge effect on the cash flow and fees at sale.


Steve O’Brien, an investment officer who was responsible for the acquisition of over 20 multifamily assets totaling close to $200 million in the last five years, understands the different components of the loan and how they can affect an investor’s bottom-line. In our recent conversation, he outlined the five components of the apartment loans multifamily syndicators need to be paying attention to prior to selecting a loan.


1 & 2 – Interest Rate and Loan-to-Value


The two loan components that even the first-time syndicator is aware of are the interest rate and the loan-to-value. “Those are the two most important that everyone focuses on,” Steve said. “It basically determines what your costs are going to be, what is the debt service and how much money you’re going to need from an equity standpoint based on what amount they’re willing to lend you.”


3 – Recourse


While those first two components are relevant to residential loans as well, this next component is not – recourse vs. nonrecourse loans. Steve said, “with most banks these days, given the crash, they want recourse. What I mean when I say recourse is that they want you to guarantee some or at least a portion of the loan that you’re getting personally.” However, a lot of lenders will offer nonrecourse loans as well. Steve said, “on our entire portfolio that we’ve done of about $100 million in financing, we have not signed any recourse, meaning that if the deals were to go bad, the most the lender could do is come after you for the property itself, so you can technically lose your equity in the deal.”


Of all the loan components, recourse is the most important because it can come back to bite you bigtime. In fact, this is one of the things that happened with the real estate crash in the late 2000s. “A ton of people put up recourse and all their loans went bad, and it caused bankruptcies and other issues,” Steve explained. “Not all the lenders will do all the math on all the recourse you have. So you may have guaranteed 150% of your assets, and if everybody comes calling them at the same time, that can be a real problem.”


With a nonrecourse loan, you are personally protected as long as you don’t commit fraud (they are called “bad-boy carve outs”).


Steve said, “In general there are a lot of options for multifamily investing in particular that do not require recourse, and as long as you stay at a reasonable loan-to-value, you can get a nice healthy 75% loan and still remain recourse.” And if you go low enough on the loan-to-value ratio, depending on the lender, you can avoid the bad-bay carve outs too.


4 – Terms


Another component of the apartment loan to pay attention to are the loan terms. “A lot of banks will want to do a 35-month loan, or a 36, or up to five years with extensions,” Steve said. Your ideal loan terms will depend on your business plan. For example, if you plan on a long-term hold, especially with the historically low interest rates, it may make sense to pay a high interest rate and lock in a 15-year loan. If your business plan is to add value and refinance, a three-year bridge loan may be the best option for you.


5 – Prepayment Penalty


A final component of the multifamily loan to pay attention to is the pre-payment clause. If your loan has a pre-payment penalty and you want to sell early, you will have to pay the lender a large fee. Another form of a pre-payment penalty that may be triggered at sale is yield maintenance, meaning the bank will make you buy an instrument to pay them back the interest rate that you would have owed them if you completed the loan.


However, Steve said, “ultimately, that’s a decent problem to have because it probably means that you’re doing well, but it just limits your flexibility.”


Best Ever Loan Advice


Steve’s Best Ever advice for how to approach these five components is “You’ve got to pay attention to your goals. Is your goal to buy and improve a property and then flip it? Well, then don’t put long-term debt on it. If your goal is to buy a property and hold it forever, well then you may want to consider not doing a three-year bank loan with two one-year extensions and going to a longer-term lender that will do a balance sheet loan for you, like a life insurance company or an agency (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, something like that) in order to lock your returns in for the long-term, because it’s a nice, warm blanket to have a low interest rate that you know doesn’t mature for 10 years, unless you want to sell it, and then you’ve got a pre-payment penalty. So it’s all very determined based on your goals, and I think that’s what the key is – to set your strategy and your goals for the asset and try and find debt and equity that best mirrors your strategy and goals.”



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5 Tactics to Get Five-Star Real Estate Reviews

When browsing Amazon.com marketplace for a specific product, what is one of the first things you look at before adding the item to your shopping cart? If you’re like me, you scroll directly to the “reviews” section to see the number of reviews, the overall rating and to read customer feedback. If the product has too many negative reviews, I pass and move on to the next brand. These factors hold the most weight on my purchasing decisions.


The same concept that applies to Amazon products, and other online outlets, is applicable to real estate as well. When someone sees your rental listing on Craigslist, or if they search your apartment community online, they are going to see reviews. What do you want a prospective resident to see? Do you want them to read raving reviews, or the one or two people that had a bad experience? What’s likely to command higher rents – good or bad reviews? If good reviews can command higher rents, then that results in a higher cap rate, which increases the overall value of the property. Therefore, online reviews are paramount to a property’s success. However, I’ve found it incredibly challenging to get them.


A loyal Best Ever listener, Joseph, works for a property management company. One of his responsibilities is to get 5-star reviews for properties they manage. Lucky for us, Joseph sent me a list of the most effective ways to increase the number of 5-star property reviews.


1 – Hire a 3rd Party to Manage Reviews


The first method to get more reviews is to hire a 3rd party to manage your reviews. Joseph said, “if you can’t be them, get close to beating them. Yelp! is the hardest to control and seems to be an outlet for dissatisfied residents. We contract with a company called Modern Message, who has a resident’s rewards program that turns social media and reviews into a game for our residents. This allows us to get internal reviews and place them on an external site that has amazing SEO value.”


Basically, you hire a company, like Modern Message, that has a rewards program that makes leaving reviews like a game. Then when you get these reviews, you link them to your website, Facebook, or other online platforms, similar to a testimonials tab you see on websites. Since you are linking the reviews to these external sites, it increases the SEO for keywords for your company’s name. Joseph said that if you Google his company’s name, the first link is his company’s Yelp! page.


2 – Free Stuff in Exchange for Reviews


The second method is to give away a random gift to residents in return for property reviews. Joseph said, “We had $5 T-shirts for [a local sports team] and gave them away to everyone who came in on a certain day, along with a card that read ‘Thanks for being a great resident. Please share your experience on Google.’ And this worked really well.”


This is one of my favorite methods because when people expect something, they’re not as impressed with what you give them, but if they don’t expect something, you can give them something of a much lower value and it will be more impressive than the higher value item they were expecting. The only thing I would add is in the note, include a direct link to the reviewing site, which takes a step out of the process and will increase the chances of the resident leaving a review.


3 – Send a Satisfaction Survey


Another method is to survey your residents. Joseph said, “Send out a survey to your residents, asking for feedback on cleanliness of the building, maintenance response time and things like that. After you fix some of the concerns, send a survey out a couple of months later with a link to review at the end.”


This method is beneficial because not only are you getting more reviews, but residents may also bring issues to your attention that you didn’t know about.


A spin on this method is to take it to a more granular level. When there’s a maintenance request that doesn’t appear to be to a negative thing for the property, then after addressing it, send the resident an e-mail and say “Hey, did we fix it? Are you good with everything?” When they say “Yes,” provide them with a link to review. And what I mean by “a negative thing for the property,” you don’t want a resident posting a review if their maintenance request was that they had something like bedbugs. You want to use this method if the maintenance request is something small, like a leaky faucet or a malfunctioning toilet. If you follow this more granular, personal approach, you will receive a higher rate of reviews compared to sending out a mass email to all the residents.


4 – Be Responsive and Follow Up


The final method for getting reviews that Joseph provided was “be really, really good at answering the phone, expressing empathy, and following up.” This is similar to the previous method. You want to be responsive to your resident’s needs, and when you fulfill those needs, always follow up with a request for them to leave a review.


5 – Bonus Tactic


Along with Joseph’s four pieces of advice, another method to increase your property reviews is to host a community event (we do things like Taco Tuesday, Poolside Popsicles, etc.) and have an iPad or laptop available for residents to leave a review. Your residents are having a good time at your event, so they will be in the perfect mood to leave you a 5-star review!



What tactics do you use to get 5-star property reviews? Leave a comment below.



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How These Two Market Factors Will Make or Break Your Real Estate Business

In most markets across the United States, the apartment market is strong, which is great for multifamily syndicators like myself. However, what happens when the market takes the inevitable dip? How do we know that our properties will continue to cash flow?


A strong housing market can mask the weaknesses of inferior properties, but when the market weakens, those inferior properties will be the first to be negatively affected.


Peter DiSalvo, who has over 20 years of experience providing market research and has consulted on over 1,000 projects across 46 states, has a strong understanding of this phenomenon. In our recent conversation, he explained the two market related items you should analyze to ensure the long-term viability of your properties.


Related: Blueprint to Successfully Invest in ALL Market Conditions


#1 – Location


The first thing to analyze is the location of your property, which can be broken down into five factors.


One area to analyze is the property traffic. “Ideally, you have an apartment that has visibility to a lot of traffic,” Peter explained. “If you’re not one of those that are getting 10,000 to 15,000 cars a day in front of you, that may mean you’re going to have to spend more dollars marketing for people to find your property.”


Luckily, you don’t have to sit outside of your apartment with a tally counter. Here are three sources Peter provided for finding the traffic information on your property:

  • ESRI, a demographer
  • Department of Transportation for the state
  • City Municipality


Being hidden from traffic is a red flag and a sign of an inferior property.


Another location-related area to consider is your property’s accessibility. Peter said, “Good ingress, egress, how easy it is to get in and out of your property – that can play into it too.” For example, “if it’s a right out only, but you know that all the traffic goes left to go to work in the morning, that may be an issue.”


Also, see what is located next to your property. Does the surrounding real estate complement your properties demographic? For an extreme example, Peter said, “I recently saw an apartment development that was built near a strip club… The strip club would park their billboard sign next to the entrance. It was a family project where you had this enormous billboard sign of the next ladies that would be dancing there that night.” Other examples would be a storage facility, graveyard, construction site, landfill, or anything else that isn’t aesthetically pleasing or that isn’t contributing to the property’s demographic.


Depending on your demographic, the quality of school may be important. “Renters are having less kids, but I would say if you’re looking at a property that has a really heavy mix of three bedrooms, that’s when you really need to look into the schools,” Peter explained. “If the [public] schools aren’t particularly good, what are the private schools like? Sometimes that’s enough to negate that issue.”


Finally, if you want to attract the millennial generation, Peter said there are three location-based items to consider:

  • Are they close to jobs?
  • Do they have quick and easy access to highways?
  • How close are retail opportunities?


If millennials are your target demographic, the answer to these three questions will be vital to your success.


Related: How to Find a Cash Flow Friendly Real Estate Market


#2 – Product


The second item, which is often overlooked, is the product. Peter said, “When I’m talking about product, there are multiple opportunities with this, but looking out for that functional obsolescence. If it’s something that can be remedied, there’s a big potential for rent increases… If not, it’s a big red flag. If the market has those hiccups, you may be the first to experience problems.”


One huge red flag is a galley kitchen. Peter defined galley kitchens as “essentially a closet with your appliances in it.” Open kitchens are in and galley kitchens are out. If it’s possible to open up a galley kitchen, that is a great value-add opportunity, but if it’s unconvertible, it’s a big red flag.


A compartmentalized floor plan is another form of functional obsolescence. Peter said these are floor plans “where there’s a hallway everywhere, and your unit feels like a lot of doors and hallways.” Similar to the kitchen, renters like open floor plans. If you have the ability to open up the floor plan, great. If not, that’s another red flag.


Access to closet space is another important factor. Lack of closet space, Peter said, “can create some high turnover once they get [in] and say ‘Well, I don’t have enough space to put my clothes.’ Without the storage stuff, you’re going to have high turnover in your property, and maybe even [be] difficult to rent.”


A final product-related red flag would be a sub-grade unit, or garden-level unit. Peter said, “those apartments that are partially underground, in a basement. Those are … the ones that you need to keep an eye out for. That’s a big red flag. Those are tough, no matter how you look at it. Even in good time those can be difficult to rent.”




To ensure continued success, even in down economy, it is vital to analyze the location and product prior to investing.


Peter said, “understanding that just because you have a site in a strong housing market doesn’t mean you have a great site. Make sure you have those [two] fundamental market characteristics is important to having a long-term viable project.”


Related: How One Market Factor Can Tell You It’s Time to Invest or Sell


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How to Make Over 6-Figures with This Simple Networking Strategy

Anson Young, a real estate investor with over 10-years of experience specializing in wholesaling and flipping, was able to net over $100,000 in profit by implementing one simple networking strategy – starting an investor meet-up. In our recent conversation, he explains the “structure” and benefits of his meet-up business so you can (and should) replicate his success in your market.


Structure of a Meet-Up


The reason why I put “structure” in quotations is because Anson’s meet-up is very informal. “It is a monthly pure networking meet-up,” he explained. “We don’t do any speaking or pretty much anything besides get together, … find somebody who does what you want to do or that you want to find out more from, tackle them and pick their brain as much as possible.”


After three years of consistently hosting monthly meet-ups, the attendance has grown to an average of 70 people each meeting.


Over the years, Anson has hosted the event at multiple locations and finds that a local beer hall works best. “We got a pretty good deal going [at the beer hall],” he said. “Monday night was just a slow night for them, and so they love having 70 people coming on an off night. They don’t charge us. They don’t hassle us… We just take over their area and have fun for about three hours.”


Since 70 people is quite a large gathering, to help facilitate the meeting, Anson will try to pair up like-minded individuals he meets while working the room. For example, he said, “If I know that you are a fix and flipper and you’re having a hard time finding a contractor on the East side of town, and I go across the room and I find somebody who knows somebody, or somebody who is a contractor, I basically try to link everybody up, so that you’re not just blindly walking around with 70 people there. There’s at least one or two of use who’s walking around and trying to connect people who have needs.”


Benefits of a Meet-Up


Over these three years, Anson said he’s made $150,000 directly from deals from the meet-up. “I like to say that I’ve easily made six figures just by running this meet-up,” Anson said. “Probably in the neighborhood of 15 deals that I’ve done.”


$150,000 from 15 deals in three years may not sound like much, but based on the Anson’s minimal time investment, he was basically paid to hang out with friends and chat about real estate. Besides the three hours spent at the meet-up, Anson said, “I basically post a note saying, ‘Hey, this is all the dates that we’re meeting up for the whole year.’ Every month I just create a new thread [on BiggerPockets], I show up for three hours, and honestly, my voice is gone. I’m exhausted because I talk to a lot of people, answer pretty much any question that anybody has about nearly anything, and provide that value. But at the same time people come back to me and say, ‘Hey, yeah, you helped me out and I’ve been driving for dollars or I’ve been knocking on doors or whatever it is, and I came across this deal and I don’t know what to do with it.’ So I’m more than happy to partner up with them, help them with ARV, help them with repairs, contractors, whatever they need to be successful, and a lot of times we partner up and do that deal together. It’s very beneficial.”


Aside from finding deals by hosting a meet-up, other benefits include learning long the way, creating relationships and perhaps even friendships, and becoming more valuable to the deals that you are working on. Then, the relationships formed and lessons learned through conversations with investors at the meet-up can result in additional business opportunities, such as partnerships or entering a new real estate niche.


Overall, Anson’s success is a testament to the effectiveness of starting a meet-up from a financial, learning, and relationship standpoint. Anson said, “I always say, if you wish something like [a meet-up] was in your area, why don’t you just start it? I’m living proof that it works. I have friends who I’ve met just through there, and we’re friends or we’re partnering up on things now. We wouldn’t have that opportunity if I didn’t just say, ‘Hey, let’s just see what happens if I start it up.’”


Related: How to Effectively Network at a Real Estate Event



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When Is the Right Time to Sell Your Real Estate Asset?

There are countless articles online (this blog included) that provide advice on how to find deals, build a team, manage a deal, etc., but there isn’t much advice on what’s maybe the most important aspect of the deal – when to sell?


Jordan Fishfeld, who has decades of investing, development and sales experience in the real estate industry, has participated in the acquisition and sale of over $1 billion worth of real estate. In our recent conversation, he provided the three questions to ask yourself to determine if it’s best time to sell an asset.


Why Do Investors Have Difficulties Letting Go of Properties?


In Jordan’s experience, he has found that most investors suffer from what’s clinically called the endowment effect. Jordan defined the endowment effect as “basically, when you own something, you kind of want to keep owning it, even if it’s not in your best interest or fitting within your original model.”


A standard example would be you purchase a property for $100,000 at 25% down. Your original business plan is to hold the property for 5-years, receive a 10% cash on cash return each year – $12,500 overall. At year 5, the property appraises at $150,000. Rather than sell, since things are going great, you hold on to the property for another 5-years, continuing to receive the 10% cash on cash return, and now the property value is $175,000. For a novice to intermediate investor, that may look like an amazing deal. However, if you dig into the numbers, you could have received an even higher return if you sold in year 5, taken your original down payment and earnings, and reinvested your earnings into multiple $100,000 properties or a larger property, even at the same 10% cash on cash return.


This is a textbook example of the negative consequences of the endowment effect.


Jordan said, “the endowment effect problem is something that’s really hard to overcome. This isn’t an easy thing to do, to sell something you own that’s going well for you. It’s a very hard thing and I think that’s why it’s a great skill that is a learned skill. It is not a natural occurrence. It’s something that you have to learn and be good at and really stick to. I think people that do it well benefit tremendously from putting capital to the most efficient use possible at the most efficient time.”


How do you overcome the endowment effect and determine when is the right time to sell? Jordan said to ask yourself the following three questions:


  • Would I buy the asset today at the price that I am looking to sell it at? If the answer is no, then you should probably sell. For example, if your initial goal was to receive a 15% cash on cash return, if you purchased the property today at the price you could sell if for, would you continue to receive a 15% return? If not, then you should probably sell, take your earnings, and invest in a similar or larger deal with 15% return.
  • If I sell today, will the tax hit offset any gains I would achieve? Since when you buy a property, you aren’t hit with taxes, and when you sell, you are hit by taxes, make sure you are taking the tax bill into account when you consider selling.
  • Is there a project that I can put my money in to satisfy my same goals? For example, if you sell this project where your initial target was 12% return over four years, which you achieved, and you know for the next four years you’re going to be making 8%. That reduces your overall project yield to 10% (approximately), can you find another deal that has a return greater than 10% in the current market at the same risk profile? If yes, sell. If not, keep.


Jordan recommends asking these three questions on a yearly basis. And to pull it all together, he said, “it still always depends on the investor individually and the projects individually and the opportunities available to that investor. But as opportunities explode with the online capital raising space, as information explodes all over with podcast and papers and books, and as yields compress, there’s a lot of different reasons why you should stay in and not stay in certain investments. But I think the skill of just doing a check-up on your investments and making that decision is very powerful.”


Related: How One Market Factor Can Tell You It’s Time to Invest or Sell


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Why You’re Not Receiving a Response When Messaging a Big-Time Investor


If you want to obtain knowledge from an experienced, big-time investor, sending them a message on BiggerPockets or an email, for example, and inviting them out to lunch, coffee, or a phone call to pick their brain isn’t a good approach. If you’ve tried this in the past, it has likely resulted in rejection.




That approach might work for brokers or newer investors because offering to grab a coffee with them is fulfilling a need. If the broker is looking to gain you as a client, they can accomplish that by accepting your invitation. For the newer investor, every meeting they take can lead to an opportunity, no matter how small, that will have a significant effect on their business. And I am sure they would both appreciate the free lunch.


However, if you want to get facetime with a more seasoned investor, don’t expect to do so without offering something more in return. They don’t need someone paying for their coffee. And if the purpose of the meeting is for you to pick their brain, they really won’t be benefiting from that either. Also, the more successful an investor is and the larger their portfolio, the more coffee and lunch invitations they are receiving. Maybe you catch them at the right time and they accept your invitation, but most likely, they will decline because they have much more important things to do with their time. Therefore, you will need to approach them at a different angle.


Chris Tracy, who has been active in the world of real estate for 5 years, ran into this same problem. He was ready to make the jump to the big leagues (from small residential to large multifamily investing), which required connecting with big-time investors. In our recent conversation, he explained the best way stand out from the crowd of coffee/lunch invitations and to link up with veteran investors.


When reaching out to experienced investors, Chris says, ask yourself, “what are their needs.” Again, if you ask an investor out to coffee to pick their brain, are you fulfilling one of their needs? The answer is no.


“I see a lot of these people on BiggerPockets,” Chris said, and “you always see that comment in the forum where people would say, ‘Hey, I need a mentor. I’d love to meet up and have coffee.’ Well, I’ve got news for you. The guy that owns a huge portfolio [doesn’t] have time in [their] day to go out and have coffee with all kinds of random people that want to mentor them. [They] don’t have time for that.”


Instead, when sending a message, focus on adding value. As an analogy, Chris said, “If you’re trying to learn how to play basketball and you want LeBron James to teach you how to play basketball, learn what LeBron James needs.” The same applies for real estate investors. Chris said to learn “what the needs are of the person and bring value to them, and say, ‘Hey, do you need anyone to help you underwrite deals? Do you need anyone to help you make phone calls? I’ll bring you deals. What do you need?’ Not just, ‘Hey, can we do lunch?’…That would be much more attractive and appetizing, and you’d have the better success…if you can just focus on bringing value.”


If you want to really stand out, instead of asking “What are your needs?” in your message, do some research, anticipate their needs, and proactively add value without even asking them what their needs are. For example, I had someone reach out to me recently who researched my background, discovered that I was looking for apartments in the Dallas area, and offered to not only find me deals, but to conduct the on-the-ground due diligence as well.


Even if your offer isn’t what they are looking for, who cares! Most likely, no one has done that for them, at least not recently, and you’ll standout regardless. You’ll definitely receive a response, at which point, you can discover (or they will disclose) a need they have, you can fulfill that need, and start to build a relationship.




When reaching out to experienced, big-time real estate investors, don’t invite them to coffee or lunch to pick their brains. You will get rejected or not receive a response. Instead, ask them what their needs are.


To increase your chances of a response even more, proactively address their needs by researching their background, and when initially reaching out, either offer to fulfill that need, or even better, have already done the work to fulfill that need.


Related: The Secrets to Starting a Relationship with Someone You Don’t Know


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Should We Celebrate Closing a Real Estate Deal?

On June 24th, 2017, I married the love of my life. The next day, we both update our Facebook pages to reflect our newly wed status. Tons of people liked it, and we received many congratulatory comments. It was amazing.


Later that evening, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, and I see a post from one of my friends announcing his wife and his 8-year wedding anniversary. I noticed it only received 39 likes. I thought, “I wonder how many people liked their Facebook update announcing their marriage compared to the announcement of 8 years of a successful marriage?” Lo and behold, they received three to four times as many likes and comments for the marriage announcement.


Then I came across another anniversary post, with these friends celebrating two years of marriage. Sure enough, when I went back through their timeline, I discovered their wedding announcement received over 100 interactions compared to the 32 on the recent anniversary post.


I began thinking, “Wait a minute. Why do we celebrate the initial coming together more than two years, eight years, etc. of being together successfully and loving each other?”


At this point, you may be thinking, “what does this have to do with real estate investing?” Well, I think there is a clear parallel. For those of you that have completed a least one real estate transaction, what did you celebrate more: closing the deal or successfully operating the deal? If you are like me, and I am sure like most other investors, the largest celebration occurred at closing.


So similar to marriage and anniversaries, why do we celebrate the initial closing of a deal more than we celebrate a successful refinance a few years later, or when we deliver on our annual projections?


Now I am not trivialize getting married or closing on a deal, because those are great accomplishments. But I do think we are approaching it backwards. I believe we should be celebrating the milestones, anniversaries, delivering on our projections much more.


You may be thinking, “It seems strange to celebrate something like two years of cash flow from a deal,” but that is really what we should be celebrating. The investors who I interview on my podcast who are playing at a level that is three, four, or more times higher than me say, “You know Joe, as I progress further and further, I realize that it’s less about actually getting a deal or closing a deal and more about what you do after you have a deal.”


It is similar to a concept a previous guest on my show explained – being goal-oriented vs. growth-oriented. When we are goal-oriented, there are many more highs and lows. If we don’t get awarded a certain deal, we are low. If we get award a deal, we are high. When we are growth-oriented, there is less emphasis on whether or not we are awarded with a single opportunity. As long as we continue to successfully implement our business plan on the assets we own, meet our daily/weekly objectives, and growth as a business and a person, we have a reason to celebrate.


In other words, being goal-oriented has peaks and valleys, peaks and valleys, whereas being growth-oriented is you continuing to climb up the mountain. When we have a growth mentality, we can still celebrate getting married and closing on a deal. But we should put more weight on a wedding anniversaries and on an annual basis in our real estate businesses.


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The 6 Steps to a 7-Figure Income

Who wants to be a millionaire?


No not the popular TV game show. I’m talking about becoming a long-term, sustainable millionaire as a real estate entrepreneur!


Pat Hilban, who is a billion-dollar real estate agent, spent over four years self-reflecting, researching, and writing his New York Times Best-Selling book “6 Steps to 7 Figures.” The book outlines a 6-step process he, his mentors, and other successful entrepreneurs have followed to go from little to no money to over seven figures in annual income. In our recent conversation, Pat provided a blueprint you can follow to achieve the same.


Related: 5 Tips for Achieving Internal Success While Pursuing External Goals


Step #1 – Goals and Affirm


The first step is to set your huge, overarching, long-term goal. Then, break it down into smaller, bite-size pieces.


Pat said, “A lot of people just set really large goals. For instance, they set a goal ‘I want to be a millionaire,’ but they don’t set the small daily goals that it takes to be a millionaire, such as ‘I save $10/day,’ or even the goal before that is ‘What are you going to do to earn that extra $10 or save that extra $10?’” In this example, the long-term goal is to become a millionaire, but what you are really striving for is to save $10 per day by doing X, whatever you determine X to be.


Finally, you want to create a statement to affirm that goal. If your goal is to become a millionaire by saving $10/day, Pat said your affirmation would be “I am a millionaire. I save $10/day by doing X every day.”


Related: Set Goals + Don’t Be Greedy + Create an Incredible Team = Success


Step #2 – Track


Once you have set your overarching goal and broken it down into daily objectives, the next step is to track your progress. “I’m an avid tracker,” Pat said. “I’ve tracked everything for years. Every successful person I talk to tracks like crazy. People that tend to not get very far don’t track at all.”


Pat lives by the following truism: “If you track, you succeed. If you don’t track, you fail.”


For an example, for the longest time, Pat’s goal was to become a hundred-percenter. A hundred-percenter is having 100% of your bills paid by rental real estate and passive investments. He said, “In order for me to get to a hundred-percenter [status], I need to do a couple of things. I needed to first of all earn money, and then with that money, save money, and then with that savings, investing that money and invest it wisely. So my ultimate goal is to become a hundred-percenter; my daily goal that I might track would be I needed to list a house a day, or a house every three days. My goal from that would be to save $10,000/month in commissions, and then from that it would to invest. Then I would obviously track… Everything was tracked, from what I did to get the listing, what I did to save the money, what I did once I investing the money, and then how the money paid me sideways.”


There are a million different ways to track, but the idea is to have a system that tracks your daily objectives based on your overall goal.


Step #3 – Masterminds and Mentors


Step three is to join mastermind groups and get mentors. “I’ve had over 50 mentors that I can count that I have learned form and stepped upon. Kind of used to climb the ladder of success,” Pat said. “Many of those mentors I was able to find at masterminds. A mastermind is just simply a collective genius, so to speak. It’s 5 to 100 people that are all thinking the same and are sharing best ideas and best practices where you could just learn in abundance from multiple people all at once. People that have gone through what you want to go through.”


As far as I’m concerned, mentorship is a must. However, there are strategies to gaining an education and getting advice from a mentor-type figure for free! (Two Ways to Gain Direct Knowledge From Experienced Investors for FREE and How a Wannabe or Experienced Investor Can Obtain a FREE or PAID Real Estate Education)


Related: The Secrets to Starting a Relationship with Someone You Don’t Know


I feel the same way about meet-up groups. You can follow Pat’s method of attending meet-ups hosted by other investors in the area, or you can get even more out of a meet-up by creating your own. In fact, Anson Young, an investor I interviewed on my podcast, created his own meet-up group, resulting in over $100,000 in profit. Meet-ups are not only great places to find potential mentors, but a great way to find deals, create partnerships, and make money.


Step #4 – Act


Now it’s time to act – that is, the forceful act of moving forward.


After completing his book, Pat’s goal was to make the book a best-seller. He went out to find some mentors, and he landed on Gary Keller, who has written multiple best sellers like The One Thing, The Millionaire Real Estate Agent, and the Millionaire Real Estate Investor.


At this point, Pat’s plan was to friend request everybody he could find in the real estate industry on Facebook and post about his book daily. Gary told him that wasn’t enough. He told Pat, “What you need to do is you need to quit what you’re doing and you need to go out on tour and start speaking to real estate agents at offices throughout the country, talking about your book.” And that’s what Pat did.


Pat sold his real estate business to his top agent and went on a book tour. He spoke at 53 offices in 53 different cities across the county over a seven-month period and got all of them to commit to buying a book on the first day it came out.


“When my book was released, we sold 10,600 copies in the first week,” Pat said. “My point is that Gary told me that I needed to act. He said something I’ll never forget. He said, ‘You reap what you sow 100% of the time’ It’s so true… There’s no free lunch.”


Now that is what I call MASSIVE ACTION.


Step #5 – Build


One of Pat’s mentors used to always say “Build on a success, not from the ground up.” What that means is you already have success with something, leverage it for more success. For example, when I am inviting guests onto my podcast, I always mention that I have previously interviewed well-known, successful individuals like Barbara Corcoran, Robert Kiyosaki, Emmitt Smith, etc. Those are all successes I’ve had in the past that I use as a sort of bait to get other successful people on the podcast.


Related: The Ultimate Guide to Getting Booked as a Guest on ANY Podcast


“For a real estate agent, if you have a house in a neighborhood that you just sold, don’t go to some other random neighborhood and try to prospect and farm it,” Pat explained. “Go to the neighborhood where you had the success and build on that success up, because you’re much more apt to get a listing in a neighborhood where you could say, ‘Oh we just sold a house up the street. You may have seen my sign.’”


The goal is to find every little success that you’ve had and keep building on those same blocks.


Step #6 – Invest


Finally, the last step is to use the money you’ve saved or created from steps 1 to 5 and invest in real estate. “Bust your ass, save money,” Pat said. “Be a good saver, be an excellent saver. Take the down payments and invest in real estate – that’s how I did it – and then live off the horizontal income from those investments.”




Pat’s 6-step process for reaching your million dollar real estate goal is:


  1. Set a HUGE goal, break it down into smaller steps, and continuously recite your goal in affirmation form
  2. Create a system for tracking your progress
  3. Find masterminds and mentors to guide you on your journey
  4. Take massive action
  5. Build and maintain momentum by leveraging past successes
  6. Invest in real estate


Follow Pat’s 6-step formula, put yourself on the track towards your long-term real estate goal, and ultimately achieve financial independence.


Related: 10 Laws of Successful Real Estate Investing


Want to take a deeper dive into the 6 steps to 7 figures? Check out Pat’s book: 6 Steps to 7 Figures: A Real Estate Professional’s Guide to Building Wealth and Creating Your Own Destiny


Did you like this blog post? If so, please feel free to share it using the social media buttons on this page.


I’d also be VERY grateful if you could rate, review, and subscribe to the Best Ever Show on iTunes by clicking this link: http://bit.ly/2m2XyM1


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4 Steps to Financial Independence Through Real Estate Investing

On this day over 240 years ago, the United States of America declared independence from the British Empire. Over 7 years later, on September 3, 1783, the Treaty of Paris was signed in which Britain agreed to recognize the sovereignty of the United States.


To commemorate our country’s Independence Day, I want to provide a strategy for you to gain your very own independence – financial independence from your corporate full-time, 9 to 5 job.


Fortunately for you, unlike the original 13 colonies, gaining your independence will be much easier. There will be (hopefully) no blood shed, and all you need to do is commit to following the tried and true 4 steps to financial independence that many investors have used to quit their full-time jobs and become full-time active or passive real estate entrepreneurs.


#1 – What is my freedom number?


The first step is to calculate your freedom number.


Your freedom number isn’t a unit or property count. It is how much income you will need to at least cover your current expenses, or be equal to the income you are currently receiving from your full-time job, or ideally, to be able to afford your idyllic lifestyle.


The best way to accomplish this is to open up an Excel spreadsheet and list out all of your current expenses. If you want to replace your current income, then your freedom number is your pre-taxed income. If your goal is to afford your ideal lifestyle, determine how much that will cost you and that is your freedom number.


Let’s say you are currently making $50,000 a year at your current job, and you calculate that you will need an additional $15,000 a year to achieve your ideal lifestyle. Your “freedom number” is $65,000, or approximately $5,500 a month.


Advice in Action #1: What is your freedom number? _____________

#2 – How much real estate will I need to achieve my freedom number?


Next, you want to calculate how many rental properties you will need to achieve your freedom number. This calculation will be based on your specific investment criteria.


For example, when I was first starting out, my investment criterion was single-family homes that cash flowed at least $100 per month after all expenses. Other investors may have an investment criteria that is a cash-on-cash return – 15% for example.


Using the $100 a month in cash flow criteria, you will need 55 single family properties in order to cash flow $65,000 a year.


If your investment criterion is to only purchase properties that achieve a 15% cash-on-cash return, you will need to invest $433,333 to achieve your $65,000 a year freedom number. That can be purchasing one apartment building for $2.2 million (assuming it is a 20% down payment loan and you have that amount of capital available), but most likely, it will be a combination of single-family homes and small to mid-sized multifamily properties worth $2.2 million in total. For example, purchasing 22 duplexes for $100,000 each.


Advice in Action #2 – How much real estate (number of units or overall value) will I need to achieve my freedom number? _______________


#3 – Create a freedom timeline


Next, you want to create a timeline for how often you will purchase properties in order to achieve your freedom number.


Timelines will vary widely, depending on your current situation, market, investment strategy, etc. I recommend having a “freedom date,” and then reverse engineering a timeline.


For example, let’s say your goal is to quit your job in 10 years. Following with the previous examples, your freedom number is $65,000 a year and you need to purchase 55 single-family residences (SFRs) that cash flow at least $100 a month. The amount of money you will have available at first to use as a down payment will be any money you have saved up, as well as money you set aside from your full-time job. So, you first want to determine when you can purchase your first SFR.


After purchasing your first SFR, you will have an additional income stream – the $100 a month. How long until you can purchase your second property? At that point, you will have an additional $200 a month towards your next down payment.


Also, at some point, you will have enough equity in your earlier SFR purchases (from appreciation and principle pay down) that you will be able to refinance to pull out capital to buy even more SFRs.


Using the amount of money you will save from your job, the added income you will receive as you purchase properties, and the money obtained from refinancing, you can create a timeline of when you will be able to purchase each of the 55 properties over a 10 year timespan.


An important note: This is a high-level timeline. Do not expect things to follow your exact timeline. Things will undoubtable change – you will set aside more or less money from your job, you will have unexpected expenses, you will achieve a higher or lower rate of return, you won’t be able to find properties that meet your criterion, etc. This is strictly a guide to show you how long it will take to achieve your freedom number so that you can plan accordingly. As President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”


Advice in Action #3 – Create your freedom timeline


#4 – Start implementing your freedom timeline


Finally, after calculating your freedom number, determining how much real estate you will need to purchase, and creating a high-level timeline, it is time to actually start purchasing real estate.


One of the best purchasing strategies out there for achieving your freedom number is the BRRRR strategy, coined by Brandon Turner at BiggerPockets.


BRRRR is an acronym for buy, rehab, rent, refinance, and repeat.


  • Buy – Purchase distressed rental properties (the level of distress you are comfortable with will determine what properties to look for, as well as how quickly you will be able to achieve your freedom number)
  • Rehab – Hire a great general contractor to repair the property (Related: How to Screen and Hire the Best General Contractor and How to Find the Right Contractor for the Right Job)
  • Rent – Lease your newly renovated property to great residents (Related: How to Create the Ultimate Tenant Experience)
  • Refinance – Obtain a new loan on the property to pull out the equity created from the rehab
  • Repeat – Use the money from the refinance to repeat the process again and again until you achieve your freedom number


Learn how investor Andrew Holmes (who I interviewed on my podcast) implemented the BRRRR strategy on over 160 properties here.




The four-step process for achieving financial independence is:

  • Calculate your freedom number
  • Determine how much real estate you need to achieve your freedom number
  • Create a freedom timeline
  • Purchase real estate, ideally using the BRRRR strategy


Achieving your financial independence may seem daunting, but compared to the sacrifice required to create our great nation, it’s a walk in the park. However, it will require patience, effort, and resourcefulness to navigate the many obstacles along the way.


Hopefully this four-step blueprint will help mitigate the number of obstacle you will face. But it will be the launching point for you to strategize and execute your plan to quitting your full-time job through real estate investing.


Related: The 3 Principles to Achieving Financial Independence Through Real Estate Investing



Did you like this blog post? If so, please feel free to share it using the social media buttons on this page.


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How to Save Thousands of Dollars When Buying Investment Property

Guest post written by: Neva Williamson


Buying a home without a real estate agent may seem daunting, but did you know that as many as 20% of all home buying sales are completed without the help of a real estate agent?


Thousands of home owners and real estate investors save thousands of dollars on their property investments simply because they were able to avoid using an agent.  With that said, it is important that you purchase a property only if you have the sufficient knowledge and expertise to do so.


We are going to touch upon three leading problems you may face when buying a home, and then dig deeper into how to buy a house without a realtor or an attorney.



Problems You May Face Buying a Home Without an Agent


Learning about the pitfalls other investors and homeowners have fallen into will help you avoid making the same mistakes.


  • You may overpay for the home

Homeowners are notorious for overestimating the value of their property.


  • You are not protected if sellers do not disclose property problems

If a real estate agent is aware of a problem with the home, that problem must be disclosed in almost every state.


  • You don’t know how to handle the paperwork

Real estate law is difficult for those inexperienced with it to navigate, and it varies by state, county and city.



A Buying a House Without a Realtor Checklist


Buying a house or property without the help of a realtor is possible as long as you protect yourself by taking the correct precautions.  First and most important:


 Learn About the Neighborhood


One of the greatest advantages to hiring a realtor is that he or she knows the neighborhood you are interested in.  They have years of experience in knowing what homes sell for right down to the very street the property is on so they will be able to give you a realistic view on the cost of a home as well as be able to negotiate on the price.


Price is an important consideration, but be sure to look into other aspects including:


  • School districts
  • HOA rules (if applicable)
  • Commutes
  • Property taxes


This will also have a significant impact on the value and the re-sale potential of the property.


Speak to a Real Estate Lawyer If Necessary


Many homeowners and investors want to save, which is why they will look into how to buy a house without a realtor or attorney.  But a real estate attorney is someone who, at least with your first or second purchase, will be your most valuable asset when buying a property.


As soon as you are ready to sign the Offer to Purchase, start working with a reputable real estate lawyer in your area.  While the cost of real estate attorney may set you back hundreds to a couple thousand dollars, it is worth the expense to prevent any potential legal troubles down the road.



Get the Home Inspected and Learn How to Read the Report


Have the home inspected by a well-trusted inspector in your area and take time going through the report.  There may be anywhere from 20 to 50 or more points of concern, some of which may be a concern while others – while masquerading as a big deal – are not.


Try to obtain as much information as possible from your home inspector about the leading points of concern.  Your real estate lawyer may also be able to shed some light on a few key points.



Buy (or Have the Seller Pay) for a Title Insurance Policy


This is critical as it will ensure that you are able to receive the property’s title free from any liens and encumbrances.




While hiring a real estate agent to help in the purchasing of a property has become the norm, that does not mean that homeowners and investors can take on the task themselves.  The key is educating yourself so that you are empowered to make the best decisions that make sense for your family and for your financial goals.


Learn more about Neva through her YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/TimeforInvesting




The 3 Principles to Achieving Financial Independence Through Real Estate Investing


Escape the corporate rat race and gain financial independence.


That is the main goal of many who decide to enter the real estate investment game. However, it’s much easier said than done.


Fernando Aires, who designed computer chips in the tech industry for over 25 years, was able to achieve the coveted financial independence and leave his full-time job in 2014. In our recent conversation, in regards to quitting his job through real estate, he said, “the key for me has been to buy enough properties, mostly with long-term fixed rate financing and some cash, in order to achieve this parity with my corporate income.”


For Fernando, it was a long process, but the juice was definitely worth the squeeze. Along the way, he discovered some tricks that enabled him to expedite the process.


What are those tricks?


#1 – Tax Benefits


Firstly, Fernando didn’t pursue zero or little money down loans or a creative strategy or really anything fancy. “Most of my properties are financed,” he said. “I try to get as much long-term fixed financing as possible, so by itself the property doesn’t generate lots of cash flow. My typical cash flow for financed properties is about $250/month.”


That’s $3,000 a year. With having corporate salary of a quarter of a million dollars to replace, that’s a lot of properties. However, he was able to slash the amount of money he needed to replace his salary with nearly in half because of the tax benefits real estate offers. “With income property, due to depreciation, which is the best tax write-off that you can imagine, you end up paying very little in taxes when you take that into account,” Fernando said. “When I was working for Apple in California, I was roughly paying 50% of my income to the government, which means that I only need to make about half gross that I was making in corporate America in order to be at the same point, due to the tax situation.”


Right off the bat, the tax advantages of real estate will allow you to have a “freedom number” that is significantly less than your current pre-taxed income from your corporate career. This involves hiring an accountant who has experience in the real estate niche you are pursuing (here is a video where I outline exactly how to find the best accountant)


#2 – Appreciation


Another thing that accelerated Fernando’s financial independence was appreciation. “Appreciation is certainly something that comes into play,” he said. “Over time, the properties have appreciated and some of them I’ve been able to do an equity strip from the properties due to the things that I’ve made, and you can also do an equity strip from the properties and you don’t have to pay any taxes when you borrow money against the properties.”


In other words, the equity that was created by appreciation can be pulled out, tax-free, to use as a down payment to purchase additional properties later on in the business plan. This is money on top of the cash flow from your portfolio and the money you are saving up from your corporate job.


#3 –Leverage


Fernando also benefited from another form of appreciation – inflation. And since he was leveraging the properties with debt, meaning he was able to control 100% of the property by putting less than 100% down, the benefits of inflation were compounded.


“A quick example for most of my properties is if you put 20% down on a property with a long-term financing fixed rate in place, which is what I recommend, you’re essentially leveraging your money 5 to 1. Five times 20% is 100% of the property. What that means is if the property goes up by let’s say 5% a year – basically tracking inflation numbers that we’re given – you’re actually making 25%, because it’s five times your leveraged money.”


When taking the compounded effects of appreciation/inflation into account, Fernando’s returns far exceeded what he could achieve investing in the stock market.


“If you add that 25% with a relatively low cash-on-cash return of 8%-10%, your already at 30%-35% for a property that is leveraged. Try to beat that with buying any stock. As a matter of fact, I’ve compared – since I’ve worked to Apple – Apple stock’s annualized return from 2012 to 2015 with my real estate portfolio, and my real estate portfolio beat the Apple stock,” Fernando explained. “My numbers were 14.8% averaged over the period, and Apple stock was 12.1%… So it’s just no comparison.”




Without the advantages real estate provided from a tax, appreciation, and leverage perspective, Fernando would not have been able to achieve his financial freedom, or at least not as quickly and efficiently as he did.


If your goal is to replace your current income with real estate, you must become familiar with these three principles. Like Fernando, it will increase both your chances of achieving financial independence and the speed at which you will be able to do so.


Related: 10 Laws of Successful Real Estate Investing


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4-Step Process to Rewire Your Brain and Create New Success Habits


We’ve all heard of the concept “Success is 80% mental/psychological, and 20% tactical.” If you are dedicated followers of this blog, you’ve learned a lot of great real estate tactics, but today, we are going to focus solely on the psychology and mindset behind success.


Joan Sotkin, a holistic prosperity and mindset mentor, has made a career out of helping entrepreneurs and practitioners succeed. She believes that in order for us to change our financial situations, we must understand our internal environment and the habits we’ve developed over the years, many of which start in early childhood.


“What I found is that people have an aversion to really looking inside them,” Joan said. “They’re afraid that they’re going to find something that’s awful. Because so many people have negative self-talk, they don’t necessarily like themselves inside… If you understand that it’s all habits, that everything about you is a habit, then you don’t have to say ‘There’s something wrong with me. I’ve done something wrong.’ All you’ve done is what you were programmed to do.”


Joan thinks we can use the principles of brain science to change our habits and programming. She said, “it’s really almost mechanical, the mechanics of psychology, because whatever you do, whatever you think, whatever you believe, however you feel as a response to life, those are all just habits that are actually these neural pathways that are built up in your brain.” If we want a different outcome, in our personal lives, financial lives, or life in general, according to Joan, we need to build up new neural pathways.


How do we accomplish this? In our recent conversation, Joan outlined the four-step process to ridding ourselves of negative habits, building new neural pathways in our brains, and changing our lives for the better. The process is Recognize, Release, Replace, and Repeat.


#1 – Recognize


The first step is to recognize the bad habit. For example, Joan said, “if you have a habit of being disappointed in your outcomes, your financial investment outcomes, that’s really a habit. You have a disappointment habit. So if you decide you want to have a satisfaction habit instead, first of all, you have to recognize that habit.”


It is easy to understand the process for recognizing a poor habit, but actually recognizing it in yourself is much harder than you would think. “That’s pretty easy, because you can hear yourself thinking ‘Oh, I wish I had done something else’ and ‘Every time I try to make an investment, I don’t get the results I want’ – so you can recognize that,” Joan said.


However, if it was that simple to recognize a bad habit, we’d all correct them on the spot and Joan would quickly be out of a job. That’s why she says it’s better to have someone else help you identify bad habits. “I was working with someone who thought she had a money problem. No matter how hard she tries, she can’t make the money that she wants,” Joan said. “So I said to her – and this is the important question – ‘How to you feel about your situation?’ and she was a little stumped. She doesn’t have a great feeling vocabulary. So I said, ‘Do you feel trapped?’ because that was the sense I got. She said ‘yes.’ Then I said, ‘Aside from money, where else do you feel trapped?’ She said ‘I feel trapped in my job, I feel trapped in my relationship, I feel trapped in my house…’”


In this example, Joan’s client knew something was wrong, but she couldn’t identify the exact cause. Joan helped guide the client to the bad habit – feeling trapped.


Once you’ve identified the bad habit, either alone or with the help of a friend, partner, family member, etc., then you can move onto the next step – release.


#2 – Release


Joan provided multiple release techniques. One is as simple as admitting aloud your bad habit. For example, if your habit is being disappointed, Joan said, “Once you say out loud, ‘I feel so disappointed,’ that’s actually part of the release.”


Another release technique is a specific visualization. “For example, one of the ones that I use that I found really helpful,” Joan said, “I imagine myself in a cage, and I imagine that the door to the cage was open, and I had to walk myself out of the cage, and I was amazed at how difficult that was. Because on the other side of the open door is the unknown, and our amygdala – which is more brain science – does not like uncertainty of any kind. So what you’re doing that leads to uncertainty, your brain tells you it’s dangerous, so you stay in the cage. Very often I have to lead [clients] out of the cage. They’re doing it by themselves. If they are determined to not feel trapped, then they have to find that strength within themselves to get out of the cage. If they can’t, then they’re going to stay stuck, and so many people just stay stuck… So either you need to get someone to help you out of the cage, or you have to kind of take yourself out of the cage slowly. Put one foot out of the cage, and if it’s not dangerous, then you can take the other foot. You have to try it slowly.”


If you think visualizations are a little strange or none of that made sense, no problem. A third technique Joan provided is to will yourself to do something you are afraid of or have been avoiding (which is a technique based on the “exit the cage” metaphor). “I had a therapist who said I was counterphobic, which meant I did whatever I was afraid of,” she said. “That has served me very well. A lot of people just are so afraid to try something new. You have to make the decision. Remember I said it was all about decisions? You have to make the decision that you’re willing to get out of the cage no matter what.”


#3 – Replace


After you’ve recognized and released the bad habit, the next step is really important. You need to replace the bad habit with the better habit of your choosing. To accomplish this, Joan said you need to ask yourself “What would I rather be feeling at this moment.”


“You might want to be feeling free, you might want to be feeling courageous. So you pick a feeling and you ask yourself, ‘Do I know how to feel that?’ and the idea is to remember back in a time in your life when you actually felt that. Kids have a lot more courage than grown-ups because they haven’t been knocked down by life enough times. Remember that time, and then you make it a deal with yourself that when you feel this fear of coming out of this trap, that you’re going to take a deep breath and let yourself feel courageous or confident.”


If you are having difficulty finding a time in your life where you felt the new emotional habit you want to create, or you are having trouble replicating it, it is probably due to a small emotional vocabulary or low emotional intelligence. No problem. Joan has a solution for that, because she started with a nonexistent emotional vocabulary and had to begin from scratch.


“I was brought up in a family where one of the rules was ‘Soktins don’t feel.’ We were the only Sotkins in the country, and my father was a little nuts and had all these rules, and one of them was ‘Sotkins don’t feel.’ So I was coming from a place where I had zero vocabulary when it came to emotions. So what I did was I created a list of emotions and I would practice feeling them… You can actually practice feelings and become more aware of them when they’re happening inside of you. Feelings don’t happen in your head, they happen in your body because they happen when these neural peptides attach themselves to receptors in your cells, and that’s what allows you to feel these things in your chest and your abdomen or in other parts of your body.”


A good exercise would be to create a list of emotions, and each day, take a few minutes to practice feeling them, like Joan had to do.


#4 – Repeat


Once you’ve selected your replacement emotion, according to Joan, in order to build up these new neural pathways, “Repeat. Just keep doing it over and over again.” Whenever you are in the situation that brings up the bad emotional habit, recognize, release, and replace. Repeat over and over and over because Joan said, “that’s how you build the new neural pathways.”




In order to replace bad emotional habits with positive habits of your choosing, Joan recommends following a proven four-step process:


  • Recognize – Identify the poor habit you want to get rid of. If you are having difficulty recognizing your bad habits on your own, elicit the help of a close friend, family member, etc.
  • Release – Release the poor emotion through the spoken word, visualizations, or taking action.
  • Replace – Select the new emotional habit that you want to replace the old one with. You may have to improve your emotional intelligence by listing out emotions and practice feeling them.
  • Repeat – Repeat the first three steps whenever the bad habit arises to build new neural pathways in your brain.


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The 4-Pronged Test to Raise Money Legally and Avoid Fines, Lawsuits, and Jail Time

Have you ever thought about raising money from private investors and buying large multifamily buildings? If so, it’s important to know if you must adhere to the SEC guidelines. If you fail to do so, you will be susceptible to fines, lawsuits, and maybe even jail time.


In fact, the SEC’s main revenue stream comes from pursuing syndicators who break the “rules.”


In a recent conversation with Jillian Sidoti, an attorney who’s an expert on money raising techniques for real estate investors, said the SEC “runs on fines. That’s how they make money. That’s how they justify their existence, by generating revenue through fines. They’re looking for people who are not following the rules.”


Fines from the SEC can be problematic, but Jillian said the larger threat, in regards to breaking SEC rules, are your investors. “If you don’t do right by your investors, that not doing right by your investors [and] not following the law in the first place is going to be exhibit A against you in the trial against you when your investors come to see you [in court],” she said. “It could just be you having a falling out with an investor, or an investor needs their money back in the middle of the project. How are they going to get it back if you’re not very willing to give it to them [or you can’t give it to them]? They’re going to sue you and they’re going to use all of this evidence against you in order to get their money back.”


How can you avoid the wrath of both your investors and the SEC? It’s fairly simple: Don’t make the biggest legal mistake Jillian comes across – not understanding the difference between what a security and a joint venture is. And there is a lot of disinformation out there.


“I often hear people say to me, ‘Well, if I just use a joint venture agreement or call it a joint venture, then that’s not securities and I’m in the clear,’” Jillian said. “I’ve sat in a seminar where people say, ‘If you just use a joint venture agreement then you don’t have to worry about any of these security’s laws and you can do whatever you want,’ and that is simply not true.”


Raising money for a deal and believing that securities laws do not apply to you (because you think it’s a joint venture) can land you in a lot of legal trouble down the road. It is not worth pursuing the short-term benefits of a joint venture.


How to you know if securities laws apply to you? Jillian provided a simple 4 prong test, commonly known as the Howey Test. If these “prongs” apply to your situation, then you must adhere to SEC securities laws, which means it would highly benefit you to find a good securities attorney like Jillian.


Here is the 4-prong Howey test to differentiate between a security and a joint venture:


  • Investment of Money: this will be a given since investors are giving you money to invest in a deal
  • Expectation of Profit: of course, your investors expect to make money, which is why they are investing with you, so this will apply to your situation
  • More than One Investor (i.e. common enterprise): This doesn’t mean “do you have one investor?” If you have only one investor period, you and that investor form the common enterprise. Again this will apply to your situation
  • Through the Efforts of a Promoter: This is the “prong” that mainly differentiates a security from a joint venture. If you doing all the work and your investor or investors are passive, it qualifies as a security.


If your situation meets these four-prongs, it is an investment contract and you are required to follow SEC laws. According to the SEC, the definition of an investment contract is “an investment of money (#1) in a common enterprise (#3), with an expectation of profits (#2) based solely on the efforts of the promoter (#4).”


For more on the differences between a security and joint venture, read Joint Ventures or Securities – What’s the Difference? And of course, consult with a securities attorney.




When raising money for deals, in order to avoid fines from the SEC or losing potential lawsuits from your investors, you must understand whether or not your situation is regulated by the SEC. This is determined by the 4-pronged Howey Test:


  • Is there an investment of money?
  • Is there an expectation of profit?
  • Is there more than one investor?
  • Is everything done through the efforts of a promoter?


If the answer is “yes” to these four questions, you are regulated by the SEC and must adhere to their rules.



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The Secrets to Starting a Relationship with Someone You Don’t Know

As real estate investors and entrepreneurs, we likely want to gain access to people, get to know people who we don’t already know, and to grow our network. In order to grow our network, we need to approach conversations and outreach in a way that will get us a much traction in those relationships as possible.


One of my all-time favorite books is New York Times Bestseller “The 48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene. Many of the laws can be applied to relationship building, but one law in particular stands out amongst the rest – Law #13.


Law #13 states “When asking for help, appeal to people’s self-interest, never to their mercy or gratitude.” Robert Greene wrote, “Self-interest is the lever that will move people. Once you make them see how you can in some way meet their needs or advance their cause, their resistance to your requests for help will magically fall away. At each step on the way to acquiring power, you must train yourself to think your way inside the other person’s mind, to see their needs and interests, to get rid of the screen of your own feelings that obscure the truth. Master this art and there will be no limits to what you can accomplish.”


How is Law #13 applicable to real estate investing? Whether we are having an in-person conversation with an investor at a meet-up group or reaching out to an investor who was a guest on a podcast, the more you “make them see how you can in some way meet their needs or advance their cause,” the more successful and fruitful the conversation and relationship will be.


I have investors reach out to me all the time. Some completely fail to adhere to Law #13. Other’s follow it completely. Others are somewhere in-between.


Here are examples of messages I have received that I’ve put into three categories: Bad, above average, and outstanding.


Example #1 – Bad


“Good evening. I must say I listen to your podcast daily and it is amazing. Thank you for what you do there. I am a senior finance major that is living in the XXX area. I have emailed numerous people from your podcast (Not too many responses sadly). I was wondering if I could gain some knowledge from you about the real estate industry. I know you’re extremely busy. Maybe we can grab a coffee or something. If you ever have time, please don’t hesitate to give me a call, text, or email.”


Why is this example bad? Because it didn’t follow Law #13. The first two sentences were fine. They appealed to my self-interests by praising my podcast and stating that they are a Best Ever listener. But then it was downhill from there.


Rather than offer to add-value to my business, this individual did the complete opposite – he asked for value from me. Then, he acknowledged that I was extremely busy, but contradicted himself in the next sentence by asking to grab a coffee, which would be a time-consuming activity for me, especially since we live in different states.


Based on this message, it is understandable why this individual hasn’t received many responses from the guests on my show. There is very little appeal to my self-interests, so they didn’t give me a reason to reach out.


How could they have structured this message better? Let’s take a look at an above average example to see what they were missing.


Example #2 – Above Average


“Joe. It was enjoyable and educational to listen to the BiggerPockets podcast you were a guest on. In addition to purchasing and reading your book Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever, can you recommend a few other books on multifamily investing that you feel are invaluable to a new investor? Thanks for any help you can offer.”


This example may seem extremely similar to the “bad” example above, but there is one main difference: this person appealed to my self-interest before asking for me to add value to his business.


Rather than only ask for a book list, they explained how they are a current listener of the podcast, that they listened to my interview on BiggerPockets, but most importantly, that they purchased and read my book.  Praising my podcast definitely appeals to my self-interest, but not as much as actually purchasing something from me.


However, the reason this is only slightly above is because it was only a one-off appeal to my self-interest, rather than adding value on an ongoing basis. Listening to a podcast and buying a book is great, but if you want to be outstanding, you must go above any beyond…which leads us to example #3.


Example #3 – Outstanding


“I recently listened to you on the BiggerPockets podcasts and have started listening to your podcast on YouTube every day when I cook. I just wanted to reach out and hope that we could get in touch. I currently live in XXX between Fort Worth and Dallas so I was interested in hearing about your investments within the area!”


“I am sure you have many people in the area that report to you but I would be willing and would love to help you if you ever need any type of service on your properties in the area! I also work as a leasing agent for XXX in a XXX-unit apartment community in XXX called XXX so I have experience in knowing what people want when they are looking for a new home and I have a good feel for the market and terminology for multifamily…”


“Again, I would love to provide any service that would be helpful for you within the area whether it was fake shopping your communities, taking pictures of possible investments for you, shopping your competition, being there while a contractor is getting some work done, getting rid of trash left by a contractor, or even cutting grass! I would be grateful just to be involved.”


“Let me know if I can help and I would love to keep in contact.”


The only thing keeping this message from being perfect is its length. When initially reaching out to someone, try to get the message to 2 to 3 paragraphs and 2 to 3 sentences per paragraph at a maximum. But besides that, this is an outstanding example of how appeal to someone’s self-interest.


Like the previous two examples, they stated that they follow my thought leadership platforms, but the difference is that in this example, they specified that they listen every day.


Then, rather than ask for something from me, they offered to add value to my business. However, they didn’t simply say, “let me know how I can help.” They specified their experience and what it is they could actually help me with. Since I don’t know this person, unless they outline their real estate experience, I don’t know what they are capable of doing. In this case, they said they have experience in knowing what people want when they are looking for a new home and have a good feel for the market and terminology for multifamily. Now I know which areas of my business this individual can add value to.


The third paragraph is extraordinary. After providing me a high-level overview of their experience, they provided specific examples of ways they can add value to my business.


I actually waited to respond to this message. I wanted to see how organized this individual was and if they would follow up. A few weeks later, not to my surprise, they sent a follow-up message.


With such an outstanding message and after following up, I reached out to this individual and he is now conducting boots on the ground work for me in the Dallas submarket.




When reaching out to someone that you want to start a relationship with, follow Rule #13 from the 48 Laws of Power and adhere to the following:


  • Appeal to their self-interest by offering to add value
  • Outline your background and your unique strengths and abilities
  • Offer specific examples of how you can add value to their business
  • Follow-up a week or two later is you don’t receive a response
  • Don’t ask for something until you’ve offered something in return



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How to Screen and Hire the Best General Contractor


If you are a value-added investor, meaning you make some sort of improvement to a property in order to increase rents or increase the property’s value, or if you are a buy-and-hold investor, or if you are a developer, contractors are probably one of the hardest things you have to deal with.


Josh Simon, a seasoned investor and developer, has over $90 million in construction planned in 2017, so he will be dealing with a ton of contractors both this year and beyond. And with 12 years of investing experience under his belt, he already has the expertise and experience to manage all the general and sub-contractors required to effectively complete this year’s projects. In our recent conversation, he provided advice on how to best deal with contractors to mitigate as many headaches or issues as possible.


#1 – Don’t Hire the Cheapest Contractor


While this advice may seem obvious to most, when selecting between multiple contractor bids, don’t simply accept the lowest offer. Josh said, “let’s say you get three prices in anything in life, just like when you have a handyman at your house or if you are doing a remodel on a rental, don’t always go with the low guy, because you’re either missing something or he’s going to change order you to death and you’ll end up paying more.” In other words, the lowest priced bid upfront will likely end up being the most expensive option by the completion of the project because either the initial bid excluded certain parts of the project or the contractor will tack on extra costs throughout the project.


Instead, hire the contractor that is the best fit for the job. “If you need a foot surgery, you don’t call a heart doctor,” Josh said. “I think the same thing with architects and contractors. Have they built that product type before? We’re not going to use a single-story retail contractor to go build a two-story office building. It just doesn’t make sense.”


In order to determine who is the best fit for the job, ask. Ask both the contractor AND ask for referrals. Then call the referrals to see how the contractor performed on their project.


Pretty straightforward and simple advice.


#2 – Ask for Financials


When you are bidding out projects to contractors, you don’t only want to confirm that they are the right fit for the job, but you want to look at their financial history as well. Josh said, “What we really want to see is how much revenue are they doing. Are they making money? Do they have cash?”


If you are doing a $250,000 project, for example, do they have enough cash to pay a subcontractor who is threatening to not show up unless they get paid for their work? “We’re processing a draw for the contractor, which is how you pay the contractors. You pay them through a draw process,” Josh said. “If that sub [contractor] needs money and he’s only got $50,000 in the bank, is your job going to proceed as fast as you want it? Is he going to stay on schedule?”


Obtaining the contractors financials is important regardless, but it’s even more important for development or full rehab projects. Josh said, “When you’re building anything, especially what we do, our construction cost is probably 80% of the total project budget, so that’s one of your biggest decisions you need to make. If it’s not done right, you can end up with legal issues, with a delayed project, with loss of rent from the project being delayed.”


#3 – Check the Contractor’s History


Josh’s last piece of advice when hiring a contractor is to go to the registrar of contractor’s website and look them up. Do they have any outstanding complaints? Do they have task complaints? What does their history show online? “The registrar of contractors for every state has one. As a contractor, in every state you have to be licensed. And every state has an online database where you can look up that contractor,” Josh said. “You can pull up the contractor’s name, find their license: when does it expired? Do they have all their stuff current? And then also, are there any complaints that have been filed against the contractor? You can actually pull up that information.”




In order to mitigate the chance of running into contractor issues, developer Josh Simon recommends taking the following three actions:


  • Hire the contractor who is the right fit for the job. Not the cheapest
  • Obtain the contractor’s financials
  • Check the contractor’s history online


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