Fix and Flip Real Estate

One of the most popular ways to make money in this business is to buy a property, make significant repairs, and sell the refurbished building at a higher price. Indeed, fix and flip real estate strategies have been wildly successful for a lot of people. There are many benefits to carrying out a real estate rehab business plan. For one, you can make money fast. When executed properly, a fix and flip project can be wrapped up in a matter of months. Moreover, you do not need a lot of money to get started, and the returns can be tremendous. Oftentimes, one flip can result in a profit around the annual U.S. median salary. This category is full of information on fix and flip real estate, including a breakdown of unforeseen expenses, different models for implementing a rehab endeavor, and even how to complete deals while you're on vacation! In this section of my blog, I introduce you to some advice for fixing and flipping that I have gathered from experienced investors who are involved in fixing and flipping. Once you feel you’ve learned all you can here, it may be necessary to approach other investment opportunities alongside a successful, professional investor, such as myself. You can click here to get in touch with me to schedule a planning session or begin investing today.
Choosing the Type of Real Estate You Want to Invest In

Choosing the Type of Real Estate You Want to Invest In

Congratulations! You are choosing to think about investing in real estate. I am glad you got to this point in planning for your future. Real estate is a great place to grow wealth by making your money work for you. In fact, if done correctly, you can amass great wealth. This is not meant to replace your own homework and research, rather it is meant to give you a jumping-off point.

I talk with people weekly about real estate. I invest personally and I advise people about their investments. You see, I am a lawyer, and while I am not your lawyer, people come and see me about the matters below on a regular basis. I hope you find some good nuggets in here and they help to launch you into a great success.


Choosing What Kind of Real Estate You Want to Invest In

The first step to investing in real estate is figuring out that you want to. Good job! You know you want to invest in real estate. That part is now behind you. But, how do you do it? My intention is not to point you in any direction, rather it is to give you information about how YOU can decide what direction YOU want to go.

In this short outline, I want to introduce you to commercial and residential real estate — they are similar but very different. For the purposes of this blog post, I want to focus on residential real estate and the kinds of rentals, how you rent those out, and what other ways to invest in real estate exist for you.



Commercial real estate is basically anything that is not residential, meaning you are not living in it. While you may think you live at work, you actually do not. Commercial real estate is anything that is held for business or commercial purposes. A good example would be the fast-food restaurant down the road. That building and the land on which it sits is commercial space.

There are many types of commercial properties out there. There are retail spaces, office spaces, mixed-use (office and residential), mixed-use (retail and office), industrial, storage, hotels, and on and on. Each type of property is unique in and of itself with different classes for office (A–C), and air-conditioned or not for storage.

Commercial real estate has different tax treatments for depreciation and 1031 exchanges or like-kind exchanges. It is important for you to understand that things work differently in commercial real estate than they do in residential real estate. While this is a primer for the new residential real estate investor, just know this area can be complex and very competitive.



Residential real estate is often where most new investors find themselves when they start investing in real estate. Whether someone inherits a house from a relative; outgrows their current house, buys another one, and decides to keep the old one to rent out; or they have found themselves in a situation where the opportunity was just right; most new investors find themselves involved in residential real estate.

There are myriad types of residential real estate out there. Anything that people live in can be rented out. Just think about that for a minute with apartments, mobile homes, houses, duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, condominiums, fifth wheels, and on and on.



Short-term rentals (STRs) have been made famous by companies like Vrbo and Airbnb. These companies have amassed fortunes by allowing the average person like you and me to rent out our homes or other properties to the general public. There are other platforms out there that provide the same service, but for ease of reference, these are the ones that have found their way into the public lexicon.

STRs provide better returns than most long-term rentals (LTRs) because of the unique price points they are able to charge per night of stay. This unique animal has become a popular alternative to hotels with price points ranging from very inexpensive to quite costly depending on the level of finishes, location, rooms, and amenities available to the guests.

Many STRs have drawn the ire of city councils and homeowner associations (HOAs). The reasoning for such conflict ranges from unruly guests using properties as bachelor and bachelorette party pads to the properties not being designed for typical residential uses with small closets and little cabinet space in the kitchen. These issues act as double-edged swords to the investors that build properties specifically for STR usage. However, depending on the capital investment and the return on that investment, many STR investors find this area of the residential investment market very lucrative.

Below are some of the types of properties that STR owners rent out on a regular basis and locations for you to look into for your own research.

  1. Cabins — Gatlinburg, Tennessee; Big Sky, Montana
  2. Apartments — New York City, New York; Chicago, Illinois
  3. Condos — Destin, Florida; Scottsdale, Arizona
  4. Houses — Nashville, Tennessee; Lake Tahoe, Nevada



LTRs are a slower and steadier way to make money over time. Compared to STRs, LTRs make a lesser amount of money each month as tenants pay their rent. That being the case, there is usually less wear and tear on the property and market fluctuations do not correlate to larger losses in revenue, e.g., COVID-19. Further, LTRs normally do not have a conflict with city councils and HOAs.

Below are the two types of LTRs that real estate investors discuss most frequently:

  1. SFRs — Single-family rentals, which are stand-alone structures that usually house one family unit.
  2. MFRs — Multifamily rentals, which are usually duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, apartment buildings, and mobile home parks.



Fix-and-flip investing is when a property is purchased, usually for a discount of the market rate. That discount provides the investor the opportunity to “add value,” a term the real estate investor comes to know well. Adding value to a property increases the market value of the property and allows the investor to increase the profit made on the sale of the property.

There are several television shows that focus on fix-and-flip investors. Typically, the investor will purchase a run-down property, and over the course of 30 minutes to an hour, they will deconstruct the property and sell it to a new owner for a tidy profit. This type of investing can be very profitable if done properly.

Bear in mind that if you do this type of investing, controlling your costs is imperative. Remember, unless you are going to do all the work yourself — a daunting task for even the most experienced investor — you will have to pay contractors and sub-contractors to perform services such as electrical, plumbing, drywall, roof repair, pest control, etc.



BRRRR stands for Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat. This house hacking idea is brilliant in its simplicity. Not something recommended for the first-time real estate investor, this is a good way to achieve quicker financial gains over a shorter period of time.

For example, say Pat buys a property for $70,000 in an area where comparable homes are selling for $130,000. The rents in this area are $1,300 per month. Pat’s house could earn him the same rent if he made some improvements to the property.

Pat buys the house for $70,000.

Pat puts $30,000 down on the house.

Pat has closing costs of $3,500.

Pat takes a mortgage for 15 years at 4.5%.

The monthly payment is $332.

Pat makes the following improvements for $30,000:

  • New appliances in the kitchen (refrigerator, oven, dishwasher, and microwave) for $6,000.
  • Replace first-floor carpet with luxury vinyl planking (LVP) for $7,000.
  • Update 2.5 bathrooms with paint, new lighting, two new fiberglass shower/tubs, and LVP flooring for $12,000.
  • Landscaping for $2,500.
  • Paint the exterior of the house for $2,500.

With these improvements, Pat has invested $100,000 in this property. It is now ready to show to potential tenants for a rental rate of $1,300 per month. Once this property is rented for $1,300 per month and can show approximately six months of rental history, Pat goes to his bank and refinances the property.

Through the refinance process, the bank appraises the house at $130,000. Pat takes a mortgage for 70% of the loan to value (LTV) of the property and is provided a 15-year mortgage at 4.5% with closing costs of $3,500 for a monthly payment of $791.

He is provided a check at closing for $91,000. This represents Pat’s original $30,000 down payment back, $30,000 in improvements, and $31,000 in equity handed back to Pat. Pat made $31,000 back and the tenant who is paying $1,300 a month is paying Pat’s mortgage of $791. Pat is grossing $509 each month from this property. This example does not account for depreciation, appreciation, property taxes, and insurance.

Through some searching and identifying the property, Pat was able to find a good property to invest in and turn the property into a cash-flowing rental while getting his money back and making some money along the way. This type of investing requires diligence on the part of the investor that is not required of those investors who buy turnkey properties that are rent-ready when purchased.


Good luck out there!


About the Author:

Brian T. Boyd, JD, LLM,


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Benefits of Buying the LLC That Owns an Apartment Community

Benefits of Buying the LLC That Owns an Apartment Community

The traditional method for buying an apartment community involves the direct transfer of ownership from the seller to the buyer. In this type of scenario, one or both entities may be an LLC or another entity, and the result is the same. The property will transfer at closing to the buyer listed on the sales contract. At that time, the sales price and the change of ownership are recorded and become a matter of public record. While this is the traditional method of conveying property, it is not the only option. In some cases, it also may not be the best option.

Generally, a tax auditor or assessor will review a property’s taxable value every few years or when a sale is recorded. This means that the property may have been taxed at a lower-than-market value before the sale. After the sale, however, the property’s tax bill may shoot up and be aligned with the sales price.

While the new buyer has likely anticipated this increase when creating projections for future operating expenses, this sharp and immediate increase in tax liability may be avoided through a membership interest transfer. A membership interest transfer essentially is a method where the property’s ownership is transferred from one LLC to another LLC. Because the entire transaction is completed within the confines of the LLC’s structure, the purchase price and the change of ownership are not a matter of public record. Nobody who was not involved in the transaction will know what the sales price was or when the transfer took place.

This type of transfer may be advantageous in a few specific scenarios. One of these is a buy-and-flip situation. After you invest your time, energy, and resources into fixing up a rundown property, you want to sell the property for its current market value. You do not want a buyer to be able to see what you bought the property for, how long you have owned it, and what your profit margin will be. A buyer who is privy to such details may have many questions related to repair costs, the value of the improvements that have been made, and other factors. Through a membership interest transfer, these details are not presented to the buyer. The buyer will then make an offer based on the property’s current condition and relevant comps.

In many areas, commercial real estate values are reassessed every three to four years. The exception is if the property is sold. After a sale, the recorded sales price often becomes the taxed value. This means that the new owner’s tax expense could be significantly higher than the seller’s tax expense. If the new sales price could be kept out of public records, such as by buying the LLC, the new buyer could potentially save money on taxes for the first few years of ownership. Because of how considerable tax liability can be, this could save the buyer a sizable amount of money until the property’s value is reassessed.

Eventually, the property’s value will be reassessed even if the membership interest transfer is used. When a bill of sale is recorded, the sales price usually becomes the new tax value. If no recent sale is recorded when it is time to reassess a property’s value, comps and other supporting data must be researched and analyzed. The burden of defining the new value falls on the tax assessor’s or auditor’s shoulders.

Keep in mind that a membership interest transfer may be legal in all states, but you should consult with an experienced real estate attorney about the process and about structuring it legally. Generally, the buyer will establish a new LLC before closing, and the seller’s established LLC will be listed as the sole member of the new LLC. The deed can be recorded prior to closing to avoid conveyance tax, and this is an additional saving to the buyer.

At closing, the membership interest transfer will be executed. In addition, the bill of sale and other documents related to the transfer of ownership will be executed. Funds related to the sale will transfer at that time as well. Because the property will be owned by the new LLC at closing, the commercial real estate financing process is the same.

Some people are worried that buying the LLC rather than the apartment community would impact their tax basis. However, this concern is unfounded. The seller’s tax basis does not transfer to the new entity. Because of this, buying an LLC would not expose you to additional taxes related to the tax basis.

Investing in commercial real estate can be lucrative, and it may be even more lucrative if you can delay a hike in property taxes for a few years or optimize your return when flipping the property. Whether you intend to use a membership interest transfer as part of a fix-and-flip scenario or to mitigate your property tax liability, you should carefully review your specific scenario with your real estate attorney and with your accountant. Understanding the full implications and benefits of a membership interest transfer when investing in a multifamily community is essential in order to reap the rewards and mitigate risks.


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two story fix and flip house

What to Look for in Prime Fix and Flip Houses

Spring is here, and if you’re an investor looking to succeed using fix and flip real estate strategies, that means now is an excellent time to start making deals.

With the weather warming up and flowers in full bloom, you can purchase fix and flip houses now and start fixing them up. Then, you can put them on the market before summer arrives—just in time for families to buy them before the fall school year begins.

The question is, what types of homes should you be looking for? Here’s a no-nonsense guide for finding houses to flip for a great return on your investment.

A Good Location

First, focus on the city you’d like to target for prime fix and flip houses. Then, pay close attention to the neighborhood, as well as the location within the neighborhood. Is your target home’s street quiet or ultra busy? Also, consider the school district in which the home is located and even note the schools closest to it. A home in a safe neighborhood within walking distance of a great school is a fantastic selling point for many families.

You should also pay attention to how close a fix and flip home is to any positive factors, like public transportation and stores, as these amenities will increase the home’s value. On the flip side, how close the home is to any negative factors, like airports and highways, will decrease the property’s value.

Know Your Target Audience

To figure out how you should choose and market fix and flip houses in your target area, examine whom you anticipate your purchasers to be.

For instance, one neighborhood may feature plenty of people who are young and single. In this situation, the quality of the area school district shouldn’t carry as much weight in your home choice. Meanwhile, the school district’s quality becomes essential if you expect to sell to young couples who have small children.

Also, if you’re fixing and flipping a house in an urban environment, how close the home is to a bus stop or train station becomes significant. Furthermore, consider whether there is enough parking in the neighborhood and if your target flip home has a garage or driveway before commencing with your rehab project.

The Right Physical Properties

When you’re finding houses to flip, you certainly want your fix and flip houses to stand out. At the same time, they should fundamentally conform to their neighborhoods, or even look better than nearby homes, if you want them to sell.

For instance, let’s say that all homes in one neighborhood are 2,000 square feet. Each of these homes has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. In this neighborhood, you might find it challenging to sell a 1,400-square-foot house with just two bedrooms plus one bathroom. For this reason, you may need to skip over this house or budget in the costs of adding an extra bedroom and bathroom to the home.

Be sure to avoid overdoing any remodel, though. In the above scenario, if you turn the 1,500-square-foot property into a 2,500-square-foot one, you may end up creating a house that is too costly for the neighborhood. Rather than making a house exceptionally bigger, make it stand out in other, more cosmetic ways—for example, through your curb appeal, landscaping, and finish choices. This is one way to keep your house rehab stress-free.

Also, a general rule of thumb is that the larger your home’s lot is, the better. If your lot is extremely small, you can maximize the outdoor space by providing privacy through landscaping or fencing.

Don’t Get Scared Off By a Home in Poor Condition

The reality is that fix and flip houses that are most successful are often the ones requiring the greatest amount of work. If you need ideas on how to bring the home up to par, take a tour of a similar home for sale in the area that is in a much better condition. This may help you to visualize what’s possible for your target property.

However, as you’re finding houses to flip, if you believe that some of your property options have structural issues, proceed with caution. Remediating structural issues can be costly and difficult unless you possess significant rehabilitation experience.

A Good After-Repair Value (ARV)

Those interested in working on fix and flip houses go into business with the goal of generating a profit from their projects. If your property cost combined with your rehabilitation costs is higher than 70%, the deal may not offer enough of the equity needed for you to generate money at the end of the deal.

Be sure to calculate not only your property purchase and renovation costs but also your closing costs. Furthermore, consider costs like recording fees, transfer taxes, and real estate agent fees (if applicable). Finally, factor in your carrying costs, which include utilities, mortgage payments, insurance, and taxes. These costs will affect your equity as well.

Start Investing in Prime Fix and Flip Houses Today!

You may be, understandably, excited about looking for and purchasing residential properties this spring. However, if you don’t know what you’re getting into, you may end up watching your potential deals fall through before you ever get the chance to start capitalizing on them.

To learn more about how you can succeed as a real estate investor, work with me, Joe Fairless. Together, we may be able to build a business strategy that could eventually allow you to quit your 9-5.

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The Stress-Free Way to Rehab a House

Written by: Neva Williamson


One of the best ways to get into the real estate market is to rehabilitate a home in disrepair. But rehabbing a house from start to finish takes a lot of time, preparation and most of all, patience.


Whether you are flipping a home or are planning to live on the property, rehabbing a home is not without its difficulties. For every dollar you saved purchasing the home you will need to spend some of that dollar back renovating it and making it your own. Below is our rehab house checklist so you can be sure that the process moves along as seamlessly as possible.



Know What You Want vs. Need


Build a real estate rehab checklist list which details:


  • Your wants
  • Your needs


A “need” in the home would be having a second or third bathroom in the home depending on occupancy. A “want” may be granite counter tops as opposed to laminate.


You will be facing some tough choices in the upcoming weeks or months. By having this list handy, you will be able to stay focused on exactly what it is you expect from your property and whether a property – regardless of how idyllic it may be – will stand up to your expectations.



Inspect the Property Before You Buy


Make note of what is in good condition and what could use a bit of work, and take pictures so you can properly assess which renovation products you will need to take on in which period of time.


It is also important to have a reputable home inspector view the home so that he or she can advise you of what needs to be fixed up and in what period of time.



Determine Your Budget


Do not meet with a contractor or an architect before you know how much you have to spend on this project. Only then will you be able to figure out what is and what is not possible for the project.



Hire a Reliable Contractor


A great contractor is worth his or her weight in gold. Ask friends, neighbors, families and co-workers for names of general contractors or contractors who have done similar work on their homes that you want completed on yours. You can also consult the following websites to uncover contractors in your area:




Read the Fine Print


After you have interviewed at least 3 well-known contractors in your area and have singled out the right person for your project, go through the fine print of the contract carefully. Make sure that everything you want to be done is covered (or make alternative arrangements), and never pay more than ten percent upfront for a project.



All that’s left after checking or crossing off items on your rehab checklist spreadsheet is finalizing your household arrangements (i.e. where furniture where be stored, how you will prepare meals, if you need a hotel room for certain nights, etc.) and preparing for a bit of mess. After only a few weeks or months you will be able to sit back and witness your property transform into a home where you can raise a family, relax in your very own personal oasis, or plan an early retirement thanks to your well-planned investment property.




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finding adventure

How to Invest in Real Estate on Vacation with Adventure Flipping


If you want to invest in out-of-state real estate, your main options are 1) have a boots-on-the-ground team in the market, 2) buy real estate from a turnkey investment company, or 3) enroll in a credit card that offers great travel rewards because you’ll be traveling to the market a lot.


However, Doug Larson, who has been a full-time investor for 11 years buying rentals, fix and flips, land, and lease-options, found a fourth option for investing out-of-state. It’s a strategy he refers to as “adventure flipping.”


In our recent conversation, Doug what adventure flipping is and why it’s one of the best real estate strategies for lifestyle investors.


What is Adventure Flipping?


Adventure flipping is when you perform an out-of-state fix-and-flip by actually moving into the investment property for the duration of the project. For example, Doug currently lives in Utah, but performs two to three “adventure flips” a year in California.


Doug said, “I live in Utah, so to do something out of state, you either have to have a lot of boots on the ground and organize things by phone, or you can go down there. This last summer, [my family] went down and picked [a property] up about five miles from the beach in North San Diego County, ocean-side. The whole family came down and we lived in the property… We went to amusement parks and the beach and all that kind of stuff. We lived there for almost three months while I was managing contractors and things. It really was a lot of fun. It was an adventure.”


Since you would be living in the property during renovations, you don’t want to take on a project that needs a ton of work. For Doug’s first adventure flip, he said, “[it was] in good condition, just dated. All cosmetics. I think we spent about $45,000 and probably two-thirds of that was labor with subcontractors.”


Why Adventure Flipping?


Doug said he chose to do the adventure flipping for three main reasons:


High knowledge of an out-of-state location


“We did three fix and flips in the San Diego area while still technically living in Utah. It’s just the market that I grew up in, I know it, I understand it.” Consider doing an adventure flip if you grew up in an area or lived in an area for an extended period of time, but you no longer live there now.


High demand for turnkey properties in the out-of-state location


“In some of those nicer areas there’s a little more upside. There are people who really appreciate the turnkey, and maybe living there. The doctors and lawyers … don’t get their hands dirty. They see something turnkey and they’re like, ‘Hey, you know what? I don’t know. It’s $50 -$70k more than this nasty fixer-upper down the street, but I’m willing to pay for that because I just want turnkey. I want to move in and not have to worry about stuff.’ I really appreciate that in those kinds of markets.”


Justification to visit an interesting, fun area


“I just love it and it was an excuse to go and visit… I did three [adventure flips] in 2010-2011. The last one I sold in 2012, and then we just decided we want to do it again. My wife wants to do it in Florida now. I’m like, ‘Okay, honey. Maybe we will, but maybe not this summer. We’ll see.’”



Which of the three criteria hold the most weight really depends on your investment philosophy. Doug’s overall real estate philosophy is not about collecting a certain number of doors. It’s about financial independence. In other words, he is a lifestyle investor.


Doug said, “If you’ve read The Four-Hour Workweek, or the E-Myth, or books like that … they talk about ‘your business works for you, and not the other way around.’ Make sure that it fits your lifestyle and the things that you really want to do in life, instead of your business owning you.”


Doug’s ideal lifestyle involves traveling, so adventure flipping allowed him to work that into his investment strategy. Brilliant!




Adventure flipping is when you move into an out-of-state investment property while you rehab it and then selling it to a turnkey investor or primary residence buyer.


The three main criteria for selecting a location to perform the adventure flip are 1) you know the area well, 2) there is high demand for turnkey properties, and/or 3) you want to have an adventure in that location.


While this strategy is obviously not for everyone, for those adventurous or lifestyle investors that love to travel, this is a great creative investment strategy that will fit right into your lifestyle.


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That all helps a lot in ranking the show and would be greatly appreciated. And if you have any comments or questions, leave a comment below.





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How to Get to 75 Rehabs a Year and 10 Employees FROM YOUR COUCH

Did you know that it’s possible to run a successful real estate company all from the comfort of your couch? Brian Elwood completes over 75 rehabs a year and owns 25 rentals without having to leave his home.


In our recent conversation, he outlined his business model and how he is able to remotely manage his 10-person team.


Brian’s Rehab Business Model


Since Brian is investing remotely, he’s kept his investment strategy simple. “75 rehabs sounds really intense, but we don’t do expensive rehabs,” Brian said. “We’ve decided that $10,000 or less is the sweet spot for us.”


“A lot of times, we’ll just do five or seven thousand dollars. [We’re] just trying to get properties in rent-ready condition, put it back on the market, and either a landlord would buy it or someone who wants to move in and finish the renovation will buy it.”


In other words, Brian and his team buy a property, and no matter what the condition, they will put in a maximum of $10,000 before putting it back on the market. That doesn’t mean that he avoids the largely distressed properties. He just doesn’t perform complete rehabs. “It’s not that we wouldn’t buy a big-time distressed property, as long as there’s equity in it when we buy it,” Brian said, “as long as we can get it for a discount. It’s just that we’re only going to put the first ten grand or so that it needs into it, and then just put it back on the market.”


“If it was really distressed and needed to be torn down, we wouldn’t do anything to it. We would just buy it and list it as is. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to put any money into a property, but in our experience, running a business virtually is tough when you’re putting $110,000 into a rehab and they’re opening walls and finding all kinds of different stuff.”


Brian said that typical renovations include things like paint, carpet, minor demo, cleaning the property up (taking out all the trash and doing some landscaping), and installing new windows if they are broken. All of which are very minor and inexpensive rehabs. “If a property is going to be listed and it’s going to be sold to a homeowner – someone who’s going to live there – then we’re going to just do the first $10,000 worth of work that’s going to make it livable for someone to buy. But if an investor’s going to buy it and do a rehab on it, then we may just clean it up and not do much to it.”


Brian’s business goal is to become outstanding in a narrowly focused niche. “I always hear the mantra that focus makes you rich, so we’re not trying to be great at everything.”


Brian’s Team Structure


Brian lives in Denver, CO, while his 10-person team is stationed in his investment market – Nashville. He and his partner sit at the top of the organizational chart. “I have a 50/50 business partner, so the work is divided up between the two of us,” Brian said. “I am over marketing and financing and operations, and he is over sales and renovations, so we kind of divided it down the middle.” Brian’s day is spent on the phone working with the marketing director, CFO, and COO.


In order to track performance, Brian said, “Each team member has their own dashboard where they have all their KPIs (key performance indicators) clearly displayed, that we look at on our call each week.”


The following are the KPIs that Brian said he tracks for each of his team members:


  • Marketing Director – “Our marketing director’s key [performance] indicator of whether or not he’s doing a good job is how many leads he generated each week… He has goals for each quarter to get to a certain point.”
  • CFO – “Our CFO is responsible for maintaining a certain profit margin – net profit margin – in our business and forecasting the revenue that we’re going to make against the expenses and saying, ‘Hey, the next quarter does not look good, so we need to make this or that budget cut of this amount to maintain our health margin where we want to be.’”
  • Sales – “There’s would be appointments attended and contracts signed”
  • CRO – “Another position we call our CRO, which would be chief revenue officer. He is responsible for pipeline revenue added.”
  • COO – “We have one other [KPI] that we call our brand commitment score, and that is something that our COO [has]. He calls every customer after the property has closed and surveys them on how good of a job we did creating a certain experience for the customers, and it’s on a scale of 1 to 10.”


Brian has an assistant who is responsible for keeping track of all the different team members KPIs and creating a report each week. This report is posted for all team members to see so they know how everyone else is doing in terms of hitting their numbers.


Best Ever Advice


After learning about Brian’s remote and narrow focused business model, he said that most people ask him, “How do you do this virtually and you seem like you sit at home and you must be laying on the couch watching soap operas?” While Brian said this isn’t true, he also said that he doesn’t do a lot of stuff that he doesn’t enjoy because when he sets goals, he sets lifestyle goals rather than financial goals.


“Start with lifestyle as your number one goal when you’re going into business.” This includes performing an exercise he got from the book Four Hour Work Week, which has you write out your perfect day, keeping in mind the following questions:


  • Where are you?
  • Who are you with?
  • What are you doing?
  • How much time are you working?


After writing out his perfect day, he figured out what that lifestyle will cost, what type of business model would allow him to live that lifestyle, and worked backwards from there to build his business.


“In Four Hour Work Week, [Tim Ferriss] talks about the difference between being a CEO that makes $500,000/year working 80 hours a week and he’s gone all the time, or a dude who makes $50,000/year working ten hours a week from a coffee shop doing something that he loves,” Brian said. “Two extreme ends on the spectrum, and there’s no wrong answer as to where you should be on that spectrum, but it’s just a really important question to ask because there’s way too many stressed out, unhappy billionaire out there in the world.”


I’ve personally performed this exercise, so I can attest to its power. I advise you to stop what you’re doing right now and take the time to write out your perfect day. Then ask yourself, “Does that lifestyle align with my current trajectory? Or do I need to make some changes?”


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The Most Commonly Overlooked Expenses in Real Estate Investing

“Don’t worry about failure, you only have to be right once.” – Drew Houston

Mark Ferguson, who is a realtor (sells hundred of homes a year), an investor (has flipped over 100 homes and owns 16 rental properties), and an author (has written 5 books), is one of many speakers who will be presenting at the 1st annual Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Conference in Denver, CO February 24th to 25th.

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In a conversation with Mark all the way back in 2014, he provided his Best Ever advice, which is a sneak preview of the information he will be presenting at the Best Ever conference. His advice was also featured in the Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever: Volume I.

What was Mark’s advice? He outlines the most overlooked expenses by buy-and-hold and fix-and-flip investors.

Mark’s Real Estate Background

Mark was exposed to real estate at a very young age. His father was a real estate agent and also did fix and flips. As a result, Mark got started in real estate by helping his father with flips during high school. Having been exposed to real estate at such an early age, Mark told himself that he would never get into the real estate industry. Instead, he went to college and obtained a degree in business finance.

After graduating, Mark could not find a job in the world of business finance, so he decided he would do real estate part-time, only until he found a job. In 2001, Mark re-entered real estate as an agent, and struggled for a long time. He did not have a niche, he didn’t have any goals, and he wasn’t great at talking to people. This all changed when Mark found the REO foreclosure niche. He started listing REOs, started making goals, and his career took off.

In 2010, Mark began investing in single-family rentals, purchasing 16 properties over the next 5 years. In 2013, Mark took over his father’s existing fix-and-flip business and real estate sales team. He has been focusing on that business as much as possible. If being a real estate agent, a buy-and-hold investor, and a fix-and-flipper wasn’t enough, Mark also started a real estate blog, “Invest Four More,” where he writes articles about his past and current experience as an agent and investor.

Real Estate is Very Region Specific

Mark’s real estate agent, buy-and-hold, and fix-and-flip business models focus on single-family residences in the Denver area. Within the Denver area, Mark’s target sub-market is 50 miles north of the city. In this area, prices are more reasonable and he can acquire a property between $80,000 and $150,000. The reason why Mark focuses on single-family instead of multifamily properties is two-fold:

  1. Since he focuses on SFR as a realtor, he knows the properties very well, so he can get a much better deal and make more money on a SFR compared to a multifamily
  2. Real estate is very region specific. He pays considerable attention to different parts of the country and the different terms that people get. For whatever reason, Colorado has horrible cap rates compared to other parts of the country. It is hard to find any multifamily properties above a 5% cap rate.

Due to these two reasons, Mark can be much more successful with SFRs than he can with multifamily in his specific market. He focuses on buying below market value through short sales, REOs, estate sales, etc., so he can make money as soon as he buys the property.

Overlooked Expenses: Buy and Holds

Rents have shot up in Mark’s market over the last couple of years. As a result, he can purchase a SFR for around $120,000 to $140,000 that will rent for $1,500 a month. If he were to purchase a multifamily property, he could get a 4-unit with 2 beds and 1 bath per unit for $250,000 that might rent for $2,000 a month. Compared to most parts of the country, this is backwards, but again, real estate is very region-specific.

When investing in SFR rentals, Mark strongly advises that you invest for cash flow. Many people get caught up in a rising market and just buy any investment property they can find. However, they neglect to take a closer look at the actual numbers and operations. People get in trouble because they think that if the property rents for $1000 a month and their fixed expenses (mortgage, taxes, and insurance) are $500 a month, then they will cash flow $500 a month. They factored in the fixed expenses but they overlooked additional expenses, like vacancies and maintenance. If the market goes down and they cannot maintain the $1000 a month in rent, then they have properties that are not making money and they cannot sell, so they are stuck. When you invest for cash flow and figure in all of the additional expenses, if the market goes down, you will still make money and can weather the storm.


Advice in Action #1: When investing for cash flow, make sure that you are figuring in vacancy and maintenance costs on top of your mortgage, taxes and insurance:

  • Vacancy
    • Expect at least a 5-10% vacancy rate, even if the historical rates are much lower
    • One eviction or bad tenant can create that 10% pretty quickly
  • Maintenance:
    • A little harder to estimate because it varies depending on the property’s condition, age, and how good your tenants are
    • Figure at least 10%, but more often 15-20% for maintenance and capital expenditures
    • If you need to replace a roof, these costs can add up pretty quickly

These rates are a percentage of the properties gross rent. If your gross rent is $1,000 per month, figure in $50 to $100 a month for vacancy and $150 to $200 a month for maintenance.


Overlooked Expenses: Fix and Flips

On the fix and flip side, Mark can purchase a property for $80,000, put in an additional $15,000 to $20,000 in renovations, and sell it for $140,000 to $150,000. Being all-in at $100,000 and selling for $150,000, one would think that the net profit is $50,000. However, in reality, this is not the case. After factoring in holding costs, carrying costs, financing costs, and all the other costs that many people do not consider, the profit is closer to $25,000.

As a fix and flipper, you have to understand your actual costs. In Mark’s example above, if he overlooked the additional expenses, he would have expected a $50,000 profit instead of the actual $25,000. If the numbers were even tighter and he expected a $20,000 to $25,000 profit, he would have ended up breaking even or potentially even losing money on the deal.


Advice in Action #2: When performing a fix and flip, make sure you figure in the additional expenses on top of the rehab budget. These expenses include:

  • Holding Costs
  • Financing Costs
  • Insurance
  • Utilities
  • Maintenance
  • Everything else that goes on during the course of a flip

Most experienced fix and flippers account for most of these additional expenses, but Mark finds two other surprising costs that many flippers still overlook:


  1. Higher Than Expected Repair Costs – Mark has been fix and flipping properties for a long time, and every single time, the repairs end up being higher than expected. You don’t really know how much work a house needs until you start getting into it and really have a contractor take a look at what is there. There are always hidden surprises, especially on larger renovations and when you are knocking down walls.

Advice in Action #3: To account for these surprise costs, Mark always adds at least $5,000 to his repair budget automatically. On a $20,000 rehab, that is an additional 25%. Commit to doing the same.


  1. Longer Than Expected Project Time – Similar to Mark’s experience with the repair costs always being higher than expected, the same holds true for the project time. The length of time it takes to flip a property is almost always longer. There is a huge difference in holding costs if the project time is 4 months vs. 6 months. That extra time can result in up to $10,000 in additional expenses.

Advice in Action #4: Mark always tacks on an additional two months to his expected project time, and adjusts his holding costs accordingly. Commit to doing the same.



Want to learn more about raising property values and rents, as well as a wide range of other real estate niches? Attend the 1st Annual Best Ever Conference February 24-25 in Denver, CO. It’s the only real estate investing conference whose content and speakers are curated based on the expressed needs of the audience. Visit to learn more!



Related: Best Ever Speak Brie Schmidt Sneak Peek How to Avoid the Shiny Object Syndrome in Real Estate Investor


Related: Best Ever Speaker Kevin Bupp Sneak Peek Lessons Learned From Losing Everything During the Financial Crash


Related: Best Ever Speaker Theresa Bradley-Banta Sneak Peek Don’t Invest in Real Estate on Unfounded Optimism and Emotions


Related: Best Ever Speaker Linda Libertore Best Ever Success Habit of the Nation’s #1 Landlord Aid


Related: Best Ever Speaker Kevin Amolsch Why Moving at a STEADY Pace is the Secret to Real Estate Success


Related: Best Ever Speaker Bob Scott and Jimmy Vreeland How to Acquire over 100 Properties in 24 Months Utilizing the Lease-Option Strategy


Related: Best Ever Speaker Jeremy Roll 3 Essential Factors of Diversification in Passive Real Estate Investing


Related: Best Ever Speaker David Thompson 3 Ways to Raise Over $1M for Your 1st Real Estate Syndication Deal


Related: Best Ever Speaker Al Williamson 4 Ways Showing Leadership Increases Your Property’s Value and Rents

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One Tactic to Increase Property Value By Up to 30%

When an investor is first starting out, typically, they will focus solely on cash flow and creating passive income. The idea of having money flowing into your bank account, month after month, is an amazing prospect. However, the key to real, long-term wealth is adding equity to a property, and then converting that into cash flow down the road, as opposed to simply relying on cash flow alone. David Greene, who has 8 years of experience buying, selling, managing, and renovating properties, uses a simple tactic that enables him to increase the value of his investment properties. In our recent conversation, he explained how any investor could approach a deal and replicate his success.



Addressing Functional Obsolescence


The best way that David has found to efficiently increase property values is to find homes that conform to the real estate concept of functional obsolescence. According to, functional obsolescence is a reduction in the usefulness or desirability of an object because of an outdated design feature, usually one that cannot be easily changed. Examples of functional obsolescence in real estate would be a floor plan that is too small, a property with a square footage that is incompatible with the typical family size, or having one bathroom in a market that demands property’s with two or more bathrooms. So, David’s tactic is to identify properties that have functional obsolescence relative to the surrounding properties and perform the required renovations to address the deficiency. If done correctly, the value of the property will increase by up to 30%, but only requiring 5-10% of that money to perform the rehabs.



Real World Examples


For David, anytime he can buy a two bedroom, one bathroom property that has more square footage than the other two bed, one bath properties, he will apply this tactic. Typically, he will turn the formal dining room into a bedroom, bringing the total bedroom count to three. Then, he will cut into the wall in the back of the existing bathroom and tap into the plumbing in order to make a second bathroom. As a result, David expects to see the property value grow by 25% to 30% while putting in a fraction of that value increase into the renovation.


Another example, and one of David’s favorite ways to increase a property’s value, is to convert outdoor patios into additional livable space. In Florida, which is one David’s go-to markets, many properties have “Florida Rooms.” These rooms are outdoor patio spaces that are covered with screens to keep out the bugs. David loves to target these types of properties. For example, his last deal was a three bedroom, one bathroom house in Jacksonville, Florida that had a covered porch in the backyard that connected the kitchen and a den. This was an ideal situation because the roof extended out, there was framing in place, and the concrete foundation was already poured, so David could easily turn that outside area into an additional 350 square feet of livable space.


First, David converted the den into a master bedroom. Next, he took two-thirds of the outdoor area and turned it into a second bathroom. Then, with the remaining one-third of the outdoor area, he extended the kitchen in order to relocate the washer and dryer to a different part of the house. The entire project cost $17,000, but by adding 350 square feet of livable space and converting the property from a 3/1 to a 4/2, the property value increased $35,000.



These are only a few examples of addressing functional obsolescence and the resulting increase value. What are some situations where you were able to apply this technique and be met with either success or failure?


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The 5-3-2 Model for Fix-and-Flip Investors


In a recent conversation with Troy Fullwood, who has been investing for over 20 years, he explained his best ever advice to fix-and-flip investors, which is to follow what he calls the “5-3-2 Model” of selling.


The 5-3-2 Model Explained


The 5-3-2 Model is very simple:


5 – Buy and rehab 5 homes


3 – Sell 3 homes through traditional means


2 – Carry back the note on the other 2 homes



That is, for every 5 properties that you purchase, sell 3 and “be the bank” for 2.


When you sell the 3 homes, it provides you with the ongoing cash flow for your business. For the other 2 homes, ideally, you want to pick out the best properties to carry back the loans on. If you do it correctly, you should have nothing invested in those two properties because you would’ve received all the money back through down payments and the profits from the other 3 properties you’ve sold.


Benefits of the 5-3-2 Model


The benefits of following the 5-3-2 Model are two-fold:


First, you receive ongoing, passive capital to continue building your business. You will continue to receive the profits from selling the 3 properties, as well as the ongoing interest payments from the other 2 properties. Also, since you are carrying the note, rather than being the landlord of the property, you are able to transfer the taxes, insurance, and repair responsibilities to that buyer. Therefore, the investment is completely passive, and also, technically, an infinite return.


Secondly, you’ve created residual value that operates like an annuity or retirement plan. Self-employed people, which include real estate investors, tend to forget the value of long-term retirement strategies. Instead, they tend to live deal to deal, rolling the dice, or money, into the next deal. Following this strategy allows you to get the best of both worlds: the instant gratification of realizing the fix-and-flip profits, as well as the long-term, residual income that can be a “safety net” for when the unexpected occurs, like unforeseen personal issues (health, family, etc.) or the market taking it’s next turn for the worse.


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Tips on Being a Successful Fix-and-Flipper from an Asset-Based Lender


In my conversation with Ian Walsh, who is a partner at a private real estate, asset-based lending company that specializes in underwriting and evaluating residential investment properties, he provided tips for the fix-and-flipper that wants to run a successful real estate business. Ian provided tips on how he approves loans for fix-and-flippers, two factors that end up in borrowers not getting a loan, and two tips for managing the construction costs.


Asset-Based Lender’s Approval Process


The main advantage Ian and other private, asset-based lenders have over traditional banks is that asset-based lenders do not require w2’s, tax returns, bank statements, or any other financial documentation on the borrow. They loan solely on the basis of the asset. For Ian’s business, if a fix-and-flipper has a deal and wants a loan, all they have to do is email or call Ian and provide three pieces of information:


  1. What is the property’s address?
  2. What are the construction costs that will bring the property up to the resale value?
  3. How much will the property be purchased for?


With these three pieces of information, Ian is able to underwrite the property, shoot them a number back, and see if it works for them. If they say yes, then Ian will precede with preparations for closing.


The number Ian “shoots back” is the maximum amount of money he is willing to loan, which is typically 65% of the after-repair value (ARV). For example, if the ARV is $200,000, then Ian is willing to loan up to $130,000. However, Ian wants to see the borrower’s skin in the game, so asset-based lenders typically won’t provide zero money down loans. Following the $200,000 ARV example, if the property is under contract for $70,000, the construction costs are $40,000, and the closing costs are $20,000, which brings the all in price to $130,000, Ian would only provide a loan of $110,000 and ask the borrower to bring the additional $20,000 to the table.


Having the borrower put their skin in the game, as well as having equity in position is how asset-based lenders are able to offset their risk. In return, personally having a low credit score, high debt-to-income ratio, etc. won’t disqualify you. However, if you have a disconcerting personal financial situation, like a 300 credit score, the asset-based lender will offset their risk by asking for a larger down payment. For example, for an individual with a 300 credit score, Ian would have no problem loaning $100,000 on a $1 million project, but wouldn’t provide 65%, unless the borrower brought on a co-signer, put up collateral, or provided some other source to buffer out the lender’s risk.


After Ian has underwritten the property, provided you with the loan amount, and you are okay with the numbers, then the only steps between you and closing (in most situations) is reviewing an EUF (estimated use of funds) that shows you the breakdown of costs and how much you need to bring to the closing table, and the LOI (letter of intent) that states that the lender is going to fund the deal.


Two Factors that Disqualify Deals


  1. Not Actually a Deal – The majority of deals that Ian passes on are ones that aren’t actually deals. An investor will present a deal that they think is a deal, but when Ian underwrites it, he sees that it is not a deal at all. Therefore, to avoid these types of situations, you have to understand your numbers. You have to know that you are looking at a deal without guessing or using information that you obtained from Zillow. The information on sites likes Zillow is inaccurate, so you need to have access to the MLS to get the real detailed property and sales information. If you call Ian and say that a property will resale for $300,000, and he underwrites the ARV at $200,000, then he knows that he is working with an investor that doesn’t know what he is talking about. However, as long as you are within 10% of Ian’s number, he is willing to work with you to make the loan happen.
  2. Incorrect Construction Costs – Construction costs make or break the deal. Ian has seen deals that are amazing on paper get knocked down to nothing due to incorrect construction budgets or the mismanagement of contractors. Therefore, you really have to manage your contractors, know your contractors, and take the time to vet your contractors. And when you find solid contractors, you have to do whatever it takes to keep them happy.


Two Tips to Calculate Construction Costs


  1. Don’t Get Your Money Ahead of the Contractor – If you give a contractor $4,000 and they have only done $2,000 worth of work, assume that they are going to disappear and that your $2,000 is gone. You never want to be in the position where you are going to lose money because you paid a contractor too much in advance. Many of the fix-and-flippers that Ian works with will only pay upfront for the materials and then have an agreement to pay the labor costs upon completion.
  2. Always Build a Buffer – As a fix-and-flipper, you will almost always face a situation where you knock down a wall and find an issue that you didn’t anticipate, which is why it is vital that you build a buffer into your construction budget. If you are wrong and everything goes according to plan, then you make more money. If you are right, then you anticipated it, budgeted for it, and are in the clear. However, if you didn’t anticipate it, you are losing money, and you might as well have paid more money for the property.


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