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JF951: The Big Boy Passive Approach to Investing

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Accredited investor? This episode is for you! Our guest only works with accredited investors who want to inject capital into a passive machine that renders returns! Realty Shares executive will walk us through the types of opportunities they offer and who’s investing, so learn about debt raising an equity raising and turn up the volume!

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Amy Kirsch Real Estate Background:

– Director of Investor Relations at RealtyShares
– Over 10 year of financial services experience
– Worked in wealth management for Merrill Lynch, Dearborn Partners, and JP Morgan’s Private Bank
– Based in San Francisco, California
– Say hi to her at www.realtyshares.com
– Best Ever Book: Shantaram

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Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners, welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Joe Fairless and this is the world’s longest-running daily real estate investing podcast. We only talk about the best advice ever, we don’t get into any fluff.

We’ve spoken to Barbara Corcoran from Shark Tank, Robert Kiyosaki, the author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad, a whole bunch of others… With us today – Amy Kirsch. How are you doing, Amy?

Amy Kirsch: I’m doing well.

Joe Fairless: Nice to have you on the show, and looking forward to getting to know you a little bit. Amy is the director of investor relations at Realty Shares. She has over 10 years of financial services experience. She worked in wealth management for Merrill Lynch, Dearborn Partners and J.P. Morgan’s private bank. Based in San Francisco… With that being said, Amy, do you wanna give the Best Ever listeners a little bit more about your background and what you’re focused on?

Amy Kirsch: Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me today, it’s great to be here with you. I had been working, as you mentioned, about a decade in wealth management, and I learned a bit more about real estate crowdfunding. I was very excited about the opportunity, got to know Realty Shares a bit more, and just was very excited about all they were offering to investors, the opportunity to invest in a whole new way, and that’s what brought me over here.

Joe Fairless: Cool! So what do you do? What’s investor relations mean?

Amy Kirsch: I work with investors pretty much all day long, answering their question, helping them to understand real estate better, helping them through both the sales and the relationship process as they go through in any investments that they have with us on the platforms.

Joe Fairless: Can you get a little bit more in detail as far as maybe what are your specific responsibilities, what are some challenges that you came across, things like that?

Amy Kirsch: We have a team of seven; as we’ve grown, our investor base has become several thousand, so as you can imagine, we have all realms of the spectrum of investors. We’re guiding them, and often times just introducing them to real estate investing, and helping them to understand what it might look like if they did purchase a piece of an investment, what the returns would look like, what the risks are inherent in this sort of investing… That would be the introductory part.

Then, over the life of the investment, keeping them updated, helping them to understand if things are going well, if they’re not going well, if they are payoffs, and keeping them informed over the life of it. So it’s really a combination of both a sales and relationship management role for me and my team, and we have probably a thousand inbound questions a week from various investors that we’re responding to, which really completely range from about the company to about a specific investment. Anything you can imagine, we’re answering it pretty much every day.

Joe Fairless: A thousand inbound questions a week.

Amy Kirsch: Oh yes, easily.

Joe Fairless: Seven people.

Amy Kirsch: Seven people, a thousand questions.

Joe Fairless: Sounds like a blog post title, right?

Amy Kirsch: [laughs] A little bit, yes.

Joe Fairless: Seven people, a thousand questions a week… Everything from guiding them as far as the pros and cons of real estate, and then also working with them and communicating with them throughout the investment. This is interesting stuff, because you basically do what I do, and I’d love to learn more because you’re doing it on a much higher volume than I’m doing.

Let’s talk about who you’re speaking to. Are they all accredited investors?

Amy Kirsch: They are. Everyone that’s on the Realty Shares platform right now is an accredited investor. We have non-accredited investors asking us questions, and we’re hoping that we’ll be able to show them an offering sometime in the near future, but for now we’re only working with accredited investors.

Joe Fairless: Okay, so they’re all accredited investors. It sounds like you’re at the front end of the deal before they sign up to fund a portion of the project or you guide them in real estate investing. Are you giving them input on the actual investment itself, or the pros and cons of investing in real estate?

Amy Kirsch: A bit of both. As I mentioned, we have people who have never invested in real estate before in the platform, so they often have more rudimentary questions… They haven’t seen a waterfall before – what will that mean for them? What does a preferred return look like? Those kinds of questions, trying to understand the sponsor a bit more and the ABCs of real estate… So we’re talking about the platform at large, and then also specific investments, helping them to understand… Honestly, we can get into “What is the difference between debt and equity?” We answer that question all the time.

Joe Fairless: So your role is both the particular investment, as well as just education in general, on real estate?

Amy Kirsch: Absolutely. It’s absolutely a combination of both, and we really take a lot of stock in making sure investors are educated. We want them to really understand what they’re investing in prior to getting into an offering.

Joe Fairless: You said one of the common questions that’s asked is “What is the difference between debt and equity?” What’s your response to that?

Amy Kirsch: Wow, you’re getting me on my toes here… [laughter] [unintelligible [00:07:03].19] like you’d see at a bank, where you’re receiving… You’re acting like the bank; you can expect an interest rate payment monthly. It looks like a balloon mortgage, where you can expect a principal after the life of the loan. So that’s how I explain debt.

On the equity side, you look more like a business owner. You’re participating in the upside or the downside participation of the property, and should things perform well, you’ll have unlimited upside. Should things go poorly, you will part-take in that as well. With that comes a lot more risk, but a lot more reward, whereas on the debt side you know exactly what the outcome is likely to be, because there is a stated interest rate and you’re not gonna earn any more than that.

Joe Fairless: Are they secured the same way with debt and equity?

Amy Kirsch: That’s a great question. The debt is secured by a first lien loan, where should something go wrong, we’re able to foreclose on the property. If our assumptions are in line, then we should be able to fully recoup all investor money. On the equity side there is no lien on the property. Our measures are a bit different in what we could do should something go wrong. We would maybe able to kick out the partnership, we may be able to take over the property… It truly depends on what the underlying property is.

Joe Fairless: Okay, it makes sense. After I did my first deal, I was talking to some people and they were like, “Did you raise debt or equity?” I was like, “Um, I just raised money. I have no idea.” [laughs] I was so stupid at the time. I had already done one deal, that shows how green I was at the time… And people like you have educated me along the way, thankfully.

Amy Kirsch: Yeah… Like I said, it’s important for investors to understand the worst-case scenarios, just as it is the best-case scenario, when people are first participating in real estate, and we encounter a lot of people like you.

Joe Fairless: What are the most common risks? I mean, sure, there is about 20 pages in a PPM that outlines some obscure risks… But what’s the most practical couple risks that could come up in a real estate investment?

Amy Kirsch: I think the risks are a bit different for the different types of products, like I mentioned before for debt… And truly, our debt holders are often a little bit less experienced than our commercial, which can be great and bad, because we have that foreclosure opportunity should something go wrong. But what would happen there is that the sponsor (or the borrower, in this case) is not able to execute, and what happens then? They’re not able to sell it for the price that we thought, so they can’t pay off the loan in full. That would be the risk there, often times.

I think almost all of the time we have personal guarantees on our debt, so if they do not return money in full, then we can pursue them personally. So I think that’s a risk – the sponsor is not able to execute. A more likely risk is that the market turns around, so the market isn’t able to deliver what we had expected.

Joe Fairless: Let’s talk about equity, going into an equity example. I really think this applies to both debt or equity, it doesn’t really matter how it’s structured. Let’s just say the borrower isn’t able to execute and perform under business plan, and let’s just say – because I know you do different asset classes – it’s a single family house. What is a common reason, based on your experience, that they’re not able to execute the business plan? What do they overlook or not account for most of the time?

Amy Kirsch: I wanna start by saying that we have done – I believe the number now is 550 deals, and in that time we’ve had under ten where we’ve had significant issues with borrowers or sponsors on any side of the fence, debt or equity. So what we’re talking about now is very rare… But to your point, the reason I think sponsors most often don’t execute is simply from inexperience. They thought costs would be X, and they ended up being Y, and they were significantly more. I’d say that that’s what most often accounts for not being able to execute, and the way that we try to avoid those sorts of situations is by our due diligence process upfront, where we account for track records and look for the kind of experience that they have in the past, both with either their current company or in the past, as well as getting to understand what their business plan is.

Joe Fairless: Yeah, thanks for putting it into perspective. I was curious about why it wasn’t working, but thanks for giving some context as far as “Hey, this isn’t happening very often.” But as I know you know, that’s just a question that comes up for all of my deals – “Hey, what are the risks here?”, so I was just curious how you discuss those.
Now, on a different path, what’s the most common reason why an investor doesn’t decide to invest with you all?

Amy Kirsch: You know, I hadn’t thought about that too much. I’d say the most common reason is because the parameters of the offerings that we have in a marketplace at that time don’t meet their investment objectives. That’s most often what — the hurdles often find upfront that we’re often able to overcome are the inexperience of the investor… So getting them to understand (as we’ve talked about earlier), educating them properly. But I’d say that’s most common – they’re looking for a 12-month offering, and we’re showing something that’s 8 years; they’re only looking for debt, we have equity…

Mostly, what we find is people take a month or two to review the platform if they don’t have any real estate experience, and then they invest after, in 30-40 days.

Joe Fairless: One thing I’ve found with investors who don’t invest is they wanna be active and not passive. They want control, they want to have their hands in it, they wanna be more involved, and I’m just not set up that way. They are passive too when they invest in your stuff, right?

Amy Kirsch: Yeah. We have heard that from investors before, but I hadn’t really thought about that as a common objective. What we find more often is that people are tired of being actively involved in the investment process. They don’t wanna manage the property, they wanna do it, so that’s why they’re coming to us. But I could see it on both sides… If they do wanna have a heavier hand in the process, we don’t offer that as well.
For pretty much everything else, if you are looking for passive investment, you can come to us and get whatever kind of offering you’re looking for.

Joe Fairless: You’ve just hired employee number eight on your team, congratulations! What do you wanna make sure that they know?

Amy Kirsch: What’s very important to us is that we went through a broker-dealer, and compliance is extremely important to us. Making sure an investment is suitable for an investor is, from day one, what we’re talking about. The second thing is getting — some of the members of my team have real estate knowledge, some don’t, so getting them up to speed on what kinds of deals we’re offering… We work very closely with the investments team, so working together with them to get a really good understanding of what we’re offering to investors – those are both imperative to being successful on the team.

And of course, being able to be patient, getting the same question over and over again. That takes a lot of… You have to be steadfast for that.

Joe Fairless: Yes, especially if you’ve got a thousand coming in per week. As far as the compliance goes, maybe I’m not thinking of it properly, but isn’t that already set up through your software, so if they come to you and your team, then they’ve already been qualified through the software?

Amy Kirsch: To a certain extent they are qualified up front; a part of it is qualification, but the other part is suitability, so making sure they’re an accredited investor is just 50% of the equation. We have investors that make very substantial investments with us – half a million, a million dollars concentrated in a deal. With that comes a lot of risk, simply because of concentration risk. So if they’re making a million dollar investment but they have 50 million dollars, we’re less concerned about that than if they are making a single one million dollar investment and they have two million dollars.

We’re really just trying to understand the objectives of the investor, and that they are properly suited for that particular offerings. That’s what we’re focused on when we’re reviewing deals or reviewing investors. It’s very important.

Joe Fairless: What would be the pros and cons when comparing investing in a crowdfunding platform like your company, versus a syndicator who has his own company, like mine? So if an investor were to come to you and be like, “You know what, Amy? I’ve got 100k and I wanna invest in one thing. I’m trying to decide between the deal that Joe’s got, where I know I can go directly to him and he is a one-company thing, versus a crowdfunding platform like yours.” What are you saying that would be a pro over what I’m offering?

Amy Kirsch: The largest pro is that we’re gonna have a more diverse set of offerings, because we’re dealing with sponsors all over the country in diverse product sets. So while a syndicator may specialize in a particular asset class or a particular geography, we’re gonna see that same thing repeated over our offerings, 20-something million dollars worth of opportunities over the course of a month, with a very diverse background of sponsors, geographies, asset classes, product classes. I think that’s a major differentiation you’ll see, and we’re being a low-fee provider… So with some of that relationship where you know the syndicator probably a little bit better, maybe you’re willing to pay a bit of a premium for that. We offer pretty low fees to our investors across other crowdfunding platforms, or one of the lowest.

Joe Fairless: And what are your fees?

Amy Kirsch: We charge 1% asset management fee across the board, and that goes to investors. On the sponsor side we charge in origination fee between 3% and 4% on equity and 2%-3% for debt.

Joe Fairless: And you don’t take any cut of the deal?

Amy Kirsch: We don’t take any cut of the deal, we take no participation fees.

Joe Fairless: So 1% asset management fee, and 3%-4% on debt that’s paid by the sponsor.

Amy Kirsch: Right.

Joe Fairless: And did you say something else? Was there another fee? Or is that it.

Amy Kirsch: Just the 1% asset management fee that’s charged to investors annually, as we provide the services… For updating you, K1’s, managing the property after the fact, after you’ve invested.

Joe Fairless: Those are very good fees.

Amy Kirsch: Yes.

Joe Fairless: What’s the plan for your company from this point forward?

Amy Kirsch: The plan is to expand what we’re currently doing. We have a lot of opportunities to grow in the various marketplaces that we’re in; I think that’s very important to us. The other thing that we’re really focused on is automation and tech. We’re a financial technology company; a lot of what we bring to the table is breaking down a business that’s pretty archaic and bringing it to the future. I think both of those things are what we’re really focused on, and we’re really excited about some of the new expertise that we’re bringing into the marketplace in 2017. Those are our two major focuses.

Joe Fairless: What is your best real estate investing advice ever?

Amy Kirsch: I would say… Let me think about this for a second. My best real estate investing advice ever is to think about your investment objectives and diversify. If you execute in that regard, I think you really have a great shot at being very successful in real estate investing.

Joe Fairless: Are you ready for the Best Ever Lightning Round?

Amy Kirsch: Oh, sure! I guess so…

Joe Fairless: [laughs] Well, we’re doing it either way, so I’m glad that you guess so. First though, a quick word from our Best Ever partners.

Break: [[00:18:32].03] to [[00:19:13].14]

Joe Fairless: Best ever book you’re read?

Amy Kirsch: Shantaram.

Joe Fairless: What’s that about?

Amy Kirsch: It’s about a criminal who gets lost in India. I was just there, and it was so incredible to see what he had — just kind of hiding throughout the streets of Bombay. It’s the coolest book ever and it’s based on a true story.

Joe Fairless: Shantaram… Okay, cool. Best ever personal growth experience and what did you learn from it?

Amy Kirsch: That would be moving from traditional wealth management into the fintech space. It is kind of exciting to go from the most archaic business of all time into breakthrough measures of doing everything. I’ve learned so much in the last two years… More than I have in the previous ten in the same(ish) industry.

Joe Fairless: What’s one specific thing you’ve taken away from it?

Amy Kirsch: That you don’t have to think small; there doesn’t need to be so many levels of red tape, and if you’re working with the right people, you can get a lot accomplished in a short period of time. You don’t have to do things the way they always have been done just because that’s what people say needs to happen.

Joe Fairless: Are you an investor? Do you invest in real estate, too?

Amy Kirsch: I do… I own property, but we’re limited from doing it on the Realty Shares platform.

Joe Fairless: Oh, of course. [unintelligible [00:20:26].10] Well, best ever deal you’ve done personally on a real estate front?

Amy Kirsch: I have flipped out of apartments in Chicago, and I think that’s because that’s where I’ve lived, and I’ve been successful in that regard.

Joe Fairless: Best ever way you like to give back?

Amy Kirsch: Part of the reason that I was in India was that I’m involved with a national philanthropic organization that gives money all over the world to help people recognize that they can be successful. This particular group gave money to women in India to help them be independent, so that their kids could go to school. It’s called the Gabriel Project and I’m really happy to be associated with it. It’s just doing wonderful things for empowering women in a very impoverished area.

Joe Fairless: Thinking about some of the deals that you’ve personally done, what’s been a mistake you’ve made on a particular deal?

Amy Kirsch: I think one of the things I’ve learned is to not be too emotional. This goes to investing in general, but very particularly with real estate. You can get too involved, hold on too long… Something I’ve learned over time is to try to be less emotional when it comes to any kind of investing. I was investing in the markets in 2008 – not in real estate – and then found that some of my clients as well were making decisions because they couldn’t see through the trees… I think that’s good to overall investment advice.

Joe Fairless: Where can the Best Ever listeners learn more and get in touch with you?

Amy Kirsch: They can come to RealtyShares.com, or e-mail us at invest@realtyshares.com. We answer a thousand questions a week, so we’d be happy to answer a couple hundred more.

Joe Fairless: [laughs] Pile them on, baby! Well, Amy, thanks for spending some time with us talking about your role and the challenges you come across, as well as your responsibilities, from you and your team — what were you gonna say?

Amy Kirsch: I just wanna say thank you so much! It’s so exciting to talk to others in the similar space, and it’s just great to be here!

Joe Fairless: Yeah, especially with your particular role… It fascinates me, because I’m doing similar things to what you’re doing, but not on your volume – by no means am I doing the volume of a thousand inbound questions/week; that’s insanity. But because you’re doing the volume, it’s interesting to hear the varying degrees of questions, from what is a waterfall and preferred return, to the difference between debt and equity, all the way to the risk associated to it, and maybe more sophisticated things like “How is my money secured if this scenario does happen?” and you talk through all that… As well as your focus on compliance when you hire a new team member, and just getting them up to speed on the business model and the different opportunities.

Thanks for being on the show. I hope you have a best ever day, and we’ll talk to you soon!

Amy Kirsch: Thanks so much, Joe.

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JF947: You’ll Lose MILLIONS If You Don’t Understand These Tax Principals

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The IRS is merciless, and if you don’t understand how real estate investments and the tax laws work together, you could be at a loss. Focus on understanding self-directed IRA’s and the entities you use in the purchase and sale, and don’t just rely on a cheap custodian to help you. This is a great episode!

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John Hyre Real Estate Background:

– Tax attorney, accountant and real estate investor
– 19 years of experience as a tax attorney/accountant and 14 years of experience as a real estate investor
– Investor in low income rentals and small mobile home parks
– 95% of his clients are real estate investors
– Prior to owning his company, he worked for two of the Big Five accounting firms and for several Fortune 500 companies
– Based in Columbus, Ohio
– Say hi to him at http://www.realestatetaxlaw.com
– Best Ever Book: Grit by Angela Duckwork

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tax principals with John Hyre

 

Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners, welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Joe Fairless, and this is the world’s longest-running daily real estate investing. We only talk about the best advice ever, we don’t get into any of that fluff.

With us today, a tax attorney, an accountant and a real estate investor, John Hyre. How are you doing, John?

John Hyre: Very good, thank you much!

Joe Fairless: Nice to have you on the show, my friend. John has 19 years of experience as a tax attorney/accountant and 14 years of experience as a real estate investor. He’s an investor in low-income rentals and small mobile home parks, based in Columbus, Ohio. With that being said, John, do you wanna give the best ever listeners a little bit more about your background and your focus?

John Hyre: Sure. My focus is making sure you keep it, because you earned it. Most of my practice is tax-oriented, it’s mostly real estate investors, small businesses and self-directed IRA investors. I do the attorney part now, I refer the CPA work, meaning the tax returns and the bookkeeping out.

I also invest on the side, just sort of building a little bit of wealth on the side, mostly high cash flow, low income, which is a whole separate podcast and story onto itself. Those are the basics.

The client base is nationwide, and I’ve been at it for a little while now.

Joe Fairless: What’s the typical client hire you for?

John Hyre: That’s a hard one to break down…

Joe Fairless: Top three categories for why they hire you.

John Hyre: The top three categories… I’ll tell you, the self-directive IRAs, the self-directed 401k practice is absolutely exploded over the last three years. I won two tax court cases and word kind of got out there on that. So I do a lot of that work, and a lot of people call in and say “Look at my whole structure, top to bottom.” Entities, books, taxes, everything. And usually we figure out a fixed fee and then I save them a ton of money.

Finally, a very specific question – someone might call in with a very specific, very pointed question, which I will of course keep the discussion to the parameters that they define. I would say those top three define it.

Joe Fairless: What do people hire you for with self-directed IRAs and 401k’s? Because I’m under the impression – but obviously, it sounds like I’m wrong – that you can just go to a custodian, like iPlan or Pensco or something, and then they’ll handle everything for you.

John Hyre: They don’t handle everything. They won’t do planning advice or structuring, or at least they’re not supposed to. If you read their paperwork, it says they don’t do it, and if they do it’s not their fault if it’s messed up. A lot of the people you talk to on the phone there, while they mean well, are also salespeople and also just don’t have the expertise.

I get a lot of referrals from those custodians that send me people. For example, people will ask “We wanna setup a checkbook LLC. Can we lend money to our uncle? Can we invest in such and such project? How do we avoid prohibited transactions?” Those are a lot of the questions that I get, and I’d say about 70% of my referrals come straight from straight from the custodians, questions they really don’t wanna answer.

Joe Fairless: You won two tax court cases… What was the case about, if you can talk about it?

John Hyre: I’ve actually won more than one, and by winning, we didn’t go to trial. The IRS decided instead of going to trial, they would just tell my client they no longer owed them any money, and could we just call it even and walk away… Which I consider a bigger victory than going to trial, because you avoid the expense. The two cases are specifically self-directed IRA cases.
The first time we had a guy that was a rehabber mostly, with his IRA, and he had done some things in there that were questionable; they were grey, but we convinced the IRS that “No, that’s okay.”

I’ll give you an example… His IRA ran out of money on a rehab, so he put some of his own personal money in there, which is usually a no-no, but we managed to show the IRS some rulings and some case law that indicated, “You know, we have a fighting chance. Do you really wanna go to court with this?” so they decided to back off.

The second guy had a very large Roth IRA and did a lot of investing. We’re talking rentals, buy and sell, lending, a private equity investment… He did all sorts of things, so there was a lot for them to look at. We spent a lot more time on that one because of the number of transactions. We went through a lot of different things, but ended up in the same position. It was kind of like the Obi Wan Kenobi moment, “These are not the droids you’re looking for.” “These are not the droids we’re looking for” – they agreed with that, and so ultimately we got a very happy ending. There was a half a million in taxes at stake, and we got him out for — I think my fee on that one was in the very low five-figure. He was extremely pleased.

Joe Fairless: Just so I’m clear on that second one… It was the same issue that was being discussed, mixing personal money with IRA money?

John Hyre: That one had a multiplicity of issues. For example, he had a trust that the IRA invested into, that he controlled the trust through a friend who was the trustee, so the IRA was arguing the trust was illegitimate, they argued that you can’t have a friend act as a trustee, which – yes you can, as long as it’s done correctly… They also tried to argue that certain transactions were illegitimate based on the details. Those I won’t go into. Bottom line is we persuaded them that they were wrong.

It took a while. The auditor didn’t wanna listen, the appeals people, who are usually pretty good, didn’t really understand IRAs, which is normal, so we didn’t really get any traction until we talked to the lawyers. I do audit and tax court representation all over the country, but what we do is we bring the cases here to Ohio, we have the trial in Columbus, and the attorneys are actually out of your hometown, Cincinnati. So I know who they are; they come up here, and I’m used to dealing with them. Actually, I have to say, they’re pretty reasonable, the IRS lawyers. They can be aggressive, but they’re pretty reasonable.

The client was in Florida, and ultimately we went through the transactions one at a time until they decided “This really isn’t a good case for us, never mind.”

Joe Fairless: Does that mean that we can mix our own personal money with a self-directed IRA and be okay?

John Hyre: You can, I don’t recommend it. If it’s done, it has to be done in a very specific way. It creates complexity and it creates subtle traps, which is why I recommend people, if they can, just not go there. Keep your IRA and personal investments separate. That’s ideal. With that said, can they be mixed if it’s done in a certain way? Yes. Typically, either an undivided interest, especially if we’re dealing with a note, so maybe the IRA lends 70k, I lend 30k, and it’s 100k total.

I’m oversimplifying… There are some tricks and traps in there that we have to watch for. The biggest one is we have to prove that we did not need the IRA money to enter into a personal deal. You can never use an IRA as assets or income to benefit yourself personally, no matter how small or indirect that benefit. So if you needed the IRA to get into the deal, for example, that would be an example of using the IRA to benefit you, so the first thing we do is try and create a record that “Hey, I could’ve done this deal myself. The reason I brought my IRA in was not because I needed it – I have other sources of money – but because it was a good deal for the IRA.” That’s one example.

Sometimes we’ll do joint investment of personal and IRA money through an LLC. Really, it just depends on the nature of the investment and how much time we’re gonna be in the investment and how much liability there is. For example, I’m more inclined to use an LLC where low-income rentals are concerned, because those are high-liability items. But if there’s a loan, lending money is not really high liability. People don’t tend to trip and fall on notes, so usually just a cheaper joint investment, the same way you might invest in a house as tenants in common is a cheaper, more efficient way to do things. Because we don’t wanna overcomplicate or over-bill the client if it can be avoided.

Joe Fairless: What are some issues that you see your clients or prospective clients have from a tax attorney standpoint that can be avoided?

John Hyre: Tons. That’s two or three podcasts right there.

Joe Fairless: You’re booking me up for the month right now.

John Hyre: Yeah, we’ll fill you up. Let’s see here… In terms of IRAs, it’s not getting help ahead of time, listening to the custodians and being cheap and thinking that you know it. The IRA rules are complicated, and the penalty for the IRA for screwing up is death. The IRA dies if you commit a prohibited transaction; that can be horribly expensive. So usually, even if you do some research, get a little bit of help; get an attorney, talk to them about what you can and cannot do. Put some time in up front.

With general taxes, I would say the biggest issue by far that clients have is horrible record-keeping. They’re entitled to deductions, but they never back it up. They never do what they have to do to make it legit in the eyes of the IRS to be able to prove it. I happen to be married, and I can tell you there’s a big difference between being right and being able to prove to your spouse that you’re right. That second step is where investors mess up. They don’t do what it takes to prove to the IRS that they’re right. Scanning receipts, keeping a good set of books, especially for QuickBooks… And it’s normal; entrepreneurs are normally gunfighter/cowboy/can-smell-a-deal-a-mile-away, and they’ll do the bookkeeping work maniana. And maniana becomes maniana-maniana-maniana, and there’s the issue.

Joe Fairless: I’d love to learn a little bit more about the proving — well, I wrote my notes “Prove to your spouse that you’re right…” [laughs] The intention behind that, which is make sure that we can prove to the IRS that we are right and that we have accurate books… You mentioned scanning receipts and having a good set of books. Let’s say we hire a bookkeeper; he or she is taking a look at our credit card transactions, our bank accounts, and putting them in a spreadsheet. So we have that allocated. What do we need to do with the receipts? And do we need receipts at all if we have them in the credit card statement?

John Hyre: You do need the receipts. In fact, because the IRS has had its budget cut and audit rates are down, they’re getting sneakier and trickier. They’re sending out letters that say “Show me February and May receipts for this business.” And then let’s say you’re missing 60% of them, they just allow 60% of all your expenses on the return. You need to have receipts. The best way to keep them – scan them.

What we do is we pay our children to do it. There’s a tax angle in paying your kids. You get a tax deduction; your kids almost certainly will not pay any tax on the income, because their standard deduction is bigger than what you’re paying them, and if you pay them through not a corporation, so any entity, but something that’s taxed as a corporation… If you pay them through not a corporation and they’re under 18, they also don’t pay social security tax. So you’ve shifted money within the family. You still have indirect control of the money through the kids, you’ve gotten a tax deduction… Once they scan your receipts, save them in three or four different places, and name them by the date. I name my receipts – today would be 030117A, 030117B. I don’t even put what it was for, because I will never look at them again unless I get audited, but I can find them by date. If I get audited, I’m gonna show my QuickBooks to the IRS, and they’re gonna say “Show me February receipts for car expenses”, and I can just pull all the receipts for that month and have a VA or somebody go through the receipts and figure out which ones were for cars, and hand them over to the IRS.

Joe Fairless: Do you use a particular app for that?

John Hyre: I don’t. I probably should, and I suspect that kids are out of the picture… The cheap, easy labor of those kids are my app. I don’t even know what app they use to scan things, frankly. They deal with it. So once I don’t have the kids around, I will probably have to discover one of the better apps. I know there are a ton of them out there. Same thing for tracking mileage. There are a ton of apps that will doing if people would just take the time and implement it.

So once you’ve got the receipts, ideally you keep things in QuickBooks; I’d prefer that to a spreadsheet – it’s a lot better record keeping system. As long as the receipts tie to the QuickBooks that tie to the banks statements – man, that’s gonna be a short audit.

Just last year I had my shortest, cheapest audit ever. I charged a guy $1,300 to do the audit and it made me sick to charge that little. But he had a flipping business — more really an assignment business on the side… So he had a day job, he had a side business on schedule C; he was an engineer, he listened well to directions, he took directions well and he was detail-oriented. That audit lasted about 15 minutes of me showing the IRS agent the receipts, and about an hour and forty-five minutes of me flirting with her and passing the time.

Joe Fairless: [laughs] Let’s say you get the letter that states “We need to see your receipts for February and May” and you don’t have the physical receipts. Have you heard of a case where the IRS is “Well, really? Then how about you show me for the rest of the year, too?”

John Hyre: Absolutely. The whole point of those audits is to see if they’ve got an easy target. The faster and the clearer you respond to that letter, the more likely they are to be done and gone. So first rule with the IRS is “Never lie.” The second rule is “Don’t answer questions that were not asked.” The third rule is “Don’t let the audit metastasize”, and that is precisely what you described, how an IRS will metastasize. They smell blood, they spot weakness, they expand the audit.
Joe Fairless: What was the second rule?

John Hyre: Don’t ever answer a question that wasn’t asked. People do that all the time, that’s why we don’t like clients talk to the IRS. They wanna talk and show the good faith and how innocent and wonderful they are, and the IRS agent shuts his mouth and listens, and gets a lot more information than you want. When they ask a question, no matter how stupid or irrelevant you think the question is, you answer the literal question, with the truth, nothing more, nothing less. You don’t expand.

Joe Fairless: Alright, let’s switch gears to your investing in low-income rentals. What’s the last low-income rental you purchased?

John Hyre: It’s not really a rental… I got one I’m about to flip. The last low-income rental – I bought one if my 401k back in May. I am so busy with the practice I’m not out actively looking, but some of my clients are wholesalers and they bring me things. A wholesaler brought me a low-income rental here in Columbus… It’s not a war zone, but it’s not a beautiful area either… But this was a great deal.

It was 15k. I think he made 5k on it. The lady had been in there for 12 years, the rent is 620/month; it needs about 10k to rehab, but not today. I’ve had this thing now for almost a year, and we’re now getting ready to replace the roof with about how half of my net cash flow.

It’s been a great property. The only real quirk with the property is the tenant has been there so long, she’s hard to train. I have a property manager, because when you have something in an IRA or 401k you don’t wanna run it yourself; there are tax problems with that. You really need to have an outside manager.
For her, the manager needs to show up on the third Thursday of the month, and text her on the third Wednesday of the month. She gets her government check the third Wednesday. You have 24 hours, and she will pay you in cash. If you wait 48 hours, that money will be gone. So you have to show up and pick it up from her. She’s incapable of writing a check. That’s the only real quirk. But if you do the numbers, it’s a sweet deal, and it’s perfect in my 401k. I don’t pay tax on it, I’ll continue to reinvest the money.

Joe Fairless: And you’re using the money from the rental to improve the property? Is your goal to sell it in a certain amount of time, or is this a long time hold?

John Hyre: This is a cash flow property. I could sell it right now in this market for probably 30-35. Maybe if I had a California or a foreign investor maybe 40. It’s funny, I tell my California investors “Be careful, don’t tell people you’re from California, because if they hear that, they charge you more, and you pay.” But no, I’m gonna hold that for the cash flow. I am cash flowing about 5k/year on that property, which if you figure I had 15 in it, that’s great.

For the first four years I’m gonna reinvest about 2,500/year into updating the property. For example, the roof really needs replace. It’s still functional, it’s not leaking, but I can tell it’s gonna go, and I’d rather just deal with it now. Plus, keep her in there. If she’s been in there 12 years, le’s make the place a little nicer. It’s a swell return.

Joe Fairless: Based on your background as a tax attorney, is there a particular reason why you choose to do fix and flips, or low-income rentals versus other opportunities?

John Hyre: You know, some of it is based on the tax law, but some of it — it’s a long story how I got into it. Bottom line is I bought a book called Deals On Wheels by Lonnie Scruggs, almost 20 years ago. And to experiment, I started buying mobile homes really cheap and turning around and selling them on payments, and I got to know the low-income way of doing things. It was a hard lesson… I used to be a really nice person, and dealing with low-income tenants will fix that problem quick.

I learned you have to be really firm, you have to be careful with those guys… But I love the cash flow. I love the cash flow – that’s the real reason I do it. One of these days I may look at other types of rentals, but as long as I can find decent management — because I have learned I don’t wanna manage that. I will probably get arrested if I manage for too long, and they’ll find bodies everywhere. “Who’s the tax attorney that took [unintelligible [00:19:41].13] the water tower in this low income neighborhood?” “Oh, that was Hyre.” So we can’t have that. We make sure that other people manage them for me.

Joe Fairless: [laughs] The number one challenge, at least from what I’ve heard, with low-income rentals is the maintenance and the high tenant turnover. Have you experienced challenged in either of those areas?

John Hyre: Definitely. We’ve gotten better at picking tenants. Now, I’m if Hispanic background. I grew up speaking Spanish, my wife’s from South America, so we do like dealing a lot with immigrant tenants, especially of Latin background. Politically incorrect as it is to say it, the first generation comes here to work, the second generation – not so much. So we really like first-generation… They’re gonna bust their butts, and if you take care of them, by and large they’re gonna take care of you. I do find you get a better result when a woman is present. If it’s all guys, that’s really hard on the property.

You’ve gotta get a feel for their job history and background, are the kids in the local schools…? How itinerant are they? Because they can be very itinerant, but if you take care of them, it’s a good property, they tend to stay, they tend to be very good about referrals… You have to be careful with in particular Latino immigrants. They fix the property up for you — and put that all in quotes, “they fix it up for you”… They think it’s nicer and they think they fixed it up, and you look at it and think, “Oh dear lord, I’m gonna have to tear that down and just start from scratch on whatever it is they did.”

They have a different way of looking at saving money, and they really believe they’re saving you money. And based on my experience overseas, living in Chile, for example, that may work there. That approach just doesn’t work here. You really have to control what they do with the property, drive by it periodically, make sure that half their extended family isn’t living there.

Joe Fairless: John, what’s your best real estate investing advice ever?

John Hyre: Tax-free investing. Don’t pay taxes. Do it through an IRA, an HSA, a [unintelligible [00:21:35].09]  savings account, a 401k… There are not deductions that are bigger, and we’ve gotten a reprieve. There was a bill in Congress – in the Senate, specifically – that showed the Democrats game plan for taking apart IRAs. They don’t like Roth’s in particular. And seeing those, how they figured they’re gonna win and they laid out their game plan – everybody was of course surprised by the result – we’ve gotten a reprieve, and we have some time to use this technique and this device before Congress decides it’s losing too much money. It would be lunacy to pass it up.
And I walk the walk. I invest in my properties whenever I can through one of those devices. I don’t wanna pay the tax.

Joe Fairless: With the 1031 exchange you can continue to defer the gains until you die. Help me clarify something… Whoever picks up your property after you die – it can continue to be up until what… Is it 13 million dollars in there…?

John Hyre: We’re mixing taxes, and it’s easy to do. On the income tax side, if you 1031 till you die, which I think is a great strategy, your kids inherit property – or whoever it is that you have inheriting – and you get what’s called “the basis step up”. So let’s say you bought it for 100k, depreciated it like crazy for 28 years or more down to zero. They inherit it, and let’s say when they inherit it it’s work 300. The day they inherit, they have a basis of 300. They can sell it that day and not pay income tax. So that’s the income tax side.

Then what you’re talking about is the estate tax. You can have up to 11 million in your estate with no planning. This is assuming you’re married – otherwise it’s about five and a half million. You can have 11 million with a little bit of planning in your marital estate and not pay estate tax – which is very high. Estate tax is up there around 50%, so you don’t wanna pay any.
Once you get past that 11 million, you need to do some planning in order to not pay estate tax on the remainder.

Joe Fairless: Thank you for clarifying. Are you ready for the Best Ever Lightning Round?

John Hyre: Hit me!

Joe Fairless: Alright, first a quick word from our Best Ever partners.

Break: [[00:23:44].12] to [[00:24:26].07]

Joe Fairless: Best ever book you’ve read?

John Hyre: Let me think a minute. Best ever book I’ve read? I read so much that I’m starting to smoke through the ears. The best most recent book I’ve read, the one that comes to mind – there’s a book called Grit, and it is about persistence and toughness and just pushing through. That was a brilliant book.

Joe Fairless: Best ever deal you’ve done?

John Hyre: Probably that little rental I’ve just described. I really like that deal. I’ve done stuff that’s close to that, but not quite that cheap.

Joe Fairless: What’s the best ever way you like to give back?

John Hyre: Two things: volunteering as a debate coach. I coach kids debate; I teach verbal violence, and it’s just fun to see the light come on and the confidence in their eyes. Second, there’s a school here in Columbus, St. Charles School For Boys that we like to give to. I plan ultimately on funding a scholarship; they’re a wonderful school, they change lives.

Joe Fairless: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made on a deal?

John Hyre: Partners. I’ve almost never bought a bad deal, but I’ve gotten involved with bad partners, I didn’t do my due diligence. In one case I didn’t do the due diligence on the spouse, and it turns out that she was two scoop-fulls of crazy, and it caused a lot of problems, big time. It cost me way more money than they property ever could have.

Joe Fairless: I enjoyed the two scoop-fulls of crazy. I haven’t heard of that, I have a good visualization, so thank you for the metaphor. How do you qualify partners and partner’s spouses now for future stuff?

John Hyre: I don’t partner anymore. I don’t have the need to do so, and for now I don’t. If I were to qualify them, I suppose I would do more due diligence, asking around, looking at history, ask for credit record… This one would have been pretty hard to spot. In hindsight, the only way I could have spotted her condition was talk to enough people who dealt with her, because what’s funny is after the feces hit the rotating blade device, a number of people came up and said, “Oh yeah, she’s nuts!” I just wish I would have talked to those people, but it’s the only way I think I could have discovered it, because she was kind of like high-functional crazy. It’s not like I came home and there’s a rabbit’s head boiling on a pot of water on the stove… You really had to dig to figure her out.

Joe Fairless: What’s the best place the Best Ever listeners can get in touch with you, John?

John Hyre: Two places that go to the same website: iralawyer.com or realestatetaxlaw.com. It’s a primitive little website – I’m so busy I haven’t had time to make it nice. One of these days I will.

Joe Fairless: Well, we will have that link in the show notes page. John, thank you for being on this show, thanks for talking through the tax issues and challenges that investors will come across… Keep our receipts, and also the three rules for dealing with an IRS audit – number one, “Don’t lie”, number two, “Don’t ever answer a question that wasn’t asked” and number three, “Don’t let the audit metastasize”, so don’t let it snowball into something; immediately address it.

And the 15k flip, flip/hold that you’re doing, where you’re getting $620/month in rent; it’s worth about 30k, so it’s really not about the money you’re making on the sale, it’s more about the cash flow, and why you invest in low-income producing properties. Thanks so much for being on the show, I hope you have a best ever day, and we’ll talk to you soon.

John Hyre: Take care!

 

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JF293: Why the Most Important Return on Your Investment is Your Return on TIME

Today’s Best Ever guest is probably going to run a marathon after today’s conversation, but listen up while we have him because we discuss some fascinating loans that he has used to buy properties, and how to use equity to make sure you have NO liability. We also discuss how important your ROT (return on time) truly is.

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Keith Weinhold’s real estate background:

–          Founder of Get Rich Education focused on passive real estate investing

–          Passive real estate investor

–          Based out of Anchorage, Alaska

–          Bought a four-plex and lived in one unit rented out the others

–          Listen to his podcast at Get Rich Education

–          Regularly does running and cross country skiing marathons

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JF111: The 10 Rules of Successful Real Estate Investing

Just what the title says, my friend. Today’s Best Ever guest shares with you the 10 Rules of Successful Real Estate Investing. What? You just wanted ONE piece of advice? Sorry Charlie. You get 10 golden nuggets in this episode!

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Marco Santarelli’s real estate background:

–        Founder of Norada Real Estate Investments, a nationwide of turnkey property rentals

–        Started business in 2004 and is based in South Orange County, California

–        Been investing in real estate for over 20 years

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JF55: Creative Alternative to Just Renting Your House

Today’s Best Ever guest had a problem. She could sell her house so she was forced to turn it into a rental. But instead of simply renting it she did a lease with option to purchase. Listen to hear how that turned out…

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Holly Williams’s real estate background:

–        Successfully done a lease with purchase option contract (that turned out really well for her)

–        Creatively financed Manhattan apartment

–        Passive investor in tax liens and multifamily syndication

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JF 54: Pros and Cons of Passive and Active Investing

Today’s Best Ever guest shares with you what he has learned from actively investing in real estate and comparing that to passive investing in another investor’s deal.

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Pedro Duquesne’s real estate background:

–        Passive investor in a large multifamily syndication

–        Active investor in a 6-unit multifamily building

–        Still working his fulltime job in the fashion industry while doing real estate investing

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JF47: Follow the Well Worn Path to Success

Learning the ropes from those who have successfully done it before is a proven success model. Today’s Best Ever guest speaks about that and shares with us details on how successful deals he has done.

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Jeff Greenberg’s real estate background:

–        Managing Partner of Synergetic Investment Group

–        Invested in over 700 multifamily both as an active and passive investor

–        Runs three REI clubs in California

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JF46: Discover the Two Keys to Successful Passive Investing

Let the other person do the work. Today’s Best Ever guest shares his secrets on how he has become a full-time passive income investor. He lets other people put the deals together and he brings the money to participate. He has to be very selective with whom he invests and he shares his tips on how to pick the right person.

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Jeremy Roll’s real estate background:

–        Investor in 50 different opportunities worth over $350MM

–        Focused on being a full-time passive cash flow investor

–        President of Roll Investment Group

–        Over 12 years experience investing

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JF40: Love is in the Air

Meet the real estate matchmaker. Today’s Best Ever guest shares with us her approach to investing and the unique way she makes money with real estate investing.

Ali Boone real estate background:

–        Founder of Hipster Investments (http://hipsterinvestments.com/)

–        When she started she bought 5 properties in a year and a half

–        Focused on matching investors with buying opportunities

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JF32: How to Collect the Most on an Insurance Claim

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You’re standing in 4 feet of water. What’s your next step to getting the problem fixed and reimbursed for the damages? Today’s Best Ever guest is a public adjuster who represents property owners when they file insurance claims.

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Les Weitman’s real estate background:

– Works as a public adjuster representing property owners who file insurance claims

– Became a real estate agent at age of 18

– Host of popular real estate investing podcast called Life on PIRE

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