From No Real Estate Knowledge to Over $40 Million AUM
Michelle Bosch has been a full-time real estate investor since 2002, and she is a co-founder and Chief Financial Officer at Orbit Investments. Over the years, she has purchased more than 4,000 properties, and the company currently holds more than $40 million in assets under management (AUM). However, she came from humble beginnings.
She immigrated to the United States from Honduras, and her husband is also an immigrant. Michelle spent her first several years in the United States attending business school and working in a professional position. She quickly realized that she wanted a different life experience and turned to real estate. She and her husband had no prior real estate knowledge, so they started investing in land rather than in homes as most other investors do. This quickly led them to own and manage a live auction company that hosted quarterly land sales.
Those profits were used to purchase single-family homes starting in 2009. They purchased homes priced between $30,000 and $50,000, and they rented them out for up to $1,100 per month. They grew their portfolio and branched out to multifamily properties in 2016. To date, they have been involved in three syndicated multifamily deals. However, they continue to work on land deals as their bread and butter.
Specifically, they reach out to landowners who may not be interested in holding their property any longer. Because of technology like Google Earth and others, they no longer need to walk properties. Instead, they focus on identifying properties and lining up buyers for them through their auction platform. The couple has assembled a great team of skilled individuals who share core values and goals.
Because of their current real estate knowledge, Michelle Bosch and her husband focus on three primary types of land. These are infill lots in cities, land in the path of growth, and recreational land in desirable locations. After they identify an area they want to focus on, they buy a list of people who own vacant land. Over the years, they have fine-tuned a prospectus letter. They now just send that same letter out to property owners each time they identify a promising market. Typically, they can get two to three good deals off of a 100-piece mailer. Michelle noted that they only send out 100 letters at a time because they cannot handle more volume. However, she did note that they could handle more volume if they preferred to not provide personalized service and develop a relationship with each buyer and seller.
They also have refined a script for gathering details and gauging interest once a landowner reaches out to them. More than that, they have developed proprietary software to help them screen their calls and to ensure that each caller gets prompt, personalized service. Some of the questions they ask upfront relate to the owner of record, easements, access, utilities, and more. These questions ensure that they are talking to the person who has power over the deal, and they enable Michelle and her husband to quickly gauge value.
When the couple started out, they were relatively new immigrants and had thick accents. They were concerned that their accents would discourage people from working with them. However, Michelle says that was never actually the case. Instead, people loved to talk about their land. Often, the land was inherited or was purchased by an out-of-state buyer who ultimately changed his or her plans for using it.
They have two different purchase processes for the land they find. One process is to pay cash for the land themselves before trying to find a buyer. The other option is to do a double close if they have already identified a buyer. Michelle Bosch and her husband use a variety of platforms to identify buyers. For example, they list land for sale through platforms like LandWatch, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and Zillow.
They utilize a software program linked to Zillow and Trulia to review comps quickly. This enables them to estimate value more accurately without having to walk the land or spend hours conducting research. For infill lots that do not have a lot of comparables available, they often look at the developed value of the land nearby and subtract construction costs. They make an offer that is approximately 20% or less of the land’s researched, present-day value. While some people may be offended by such a low offer, others quickly act on it.
Michelle Bosch and her husband have spent the last few decades building up their real estate knowledge, and they have learned a few things along the way that they are happy to share with others. She wholeheartedly believes that the road to prosperity is rooted in simplicity. You do not need to create a complex deal structure in order to profit from it. She also places emphasis on building a solid team. These are individuals who believe in your goals and who are able to fully support you because of that shared vision.
When Michelle reflects on the past, she said she would look at larger and more valuable pieces of land from the beginning. These enable them to turn a “one-time cash” profit by flipping the land. Otherwise, they can lease it out to get “temporary cash” from monthly payments. When they pull together profits and park the cash in a long-term investment, such as through multifamily syndications, they create passive income. In hindsight, she believes that focusing her goals on building that strategy earlier in life would have made a significant difference in their current situation and opportunities.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an offer to buy or sell any securities or to make or consider any investment or course of action.