JF1039: What’s More Realistic? Financial Freedom or Financial Independence #FollowAlongFriday
Joe has a new deal close to being under contract. Did Theo finally close on his deal? What mistakes can we learn from them this week? Listen in for the golden nuggets from today’s #FollowAlongFriday
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Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners, how are you doing? 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 of that fluffy stuff.
Today is Friday, and we do Follow Along Friday today. For these episodes I’ve got my co-host, Theo Hicks. How are you doing, Theo?
Theo Hicks: I’m doing great, Joe. How are you doing?
Joe Fairless: I’m doing well. Follow Along Friday, for anyone who hasn’t heard the show before — well, first off, welcome, and for any returning Best Ever listeners, as a refresher, this is about what we’ve learned over the past week, so that what we’ve learned can perhaps help you out in what you’ve got going on in your entrepreneurial endeavors. We’ve got a lot going on right now, so Theo, let’s kick it off.
Theo Hicks: Let’s do it. Let’s start with some deal updates. I know you’ve got a new deal under contract…
Joe Fairless: Yes, we have been awarded a new deal; it’s not yet under contract. It’s an on-market deal that we have been looking at for quite some time, and we’ve been awarded it through the process. Off-market – it’s a lot more simple; on-market – it’s a little bit strung out more, because there’s bids, everyone bids, and then you go into the best and final round, you give your best and final offer, you usually have a call with the broker and the representative from the seller, they qualify you to basically make sure that you can close, and that nothing will come up from a due diligence standpoint that could kill the deal.
Then they’ll try to push you a little bit to pay a little bit more, and then eventually they award the winner. We have been awarded the deal, so this will be the 11th deal that we have in our portfolio, and we know this deal and in particular this market and sub-market incredibly well. We have almost 1,000 units within two miles from this property. As we continue to go through the process — I don’t wanna talk a whole lot about it because it’s not under contract yet, but once we have it under contract then I’ll tell you more about the business plan etc.
So yeah, we got awarded a new deal, I’m excited about that, and where we’re at right now in the process is working through the purchasing sale agreement (PSA) with the seller, and then also I am getting the investor presentation ready just to share with them, and then I’ll probably be doing that late this week, or early next week. We’ll have a conference call with the investors, talk to them about the opportunity, why we’re buying it and then what would be off and running. We should close by the end of August – that’s the timeframe.
Theo Hicks: When you’re awarded a deal, prior to having it under contract, is that like a verbal agreement, or is it something that’s written down?
Joe Fairless: It’s verbal, so that’s why 99% it’s gonna happen, but there’s always a chance that something crazy might happen; that’s why I’m a little cryptic in how I talk about it until we get it under contract. But for all intents and purposes, it’s our deal.
Theo Hicks: For smaller deals I think being awarded a deal is analogous to making an offer and them saying “Yeah, we’ll get to it tomorrow” or “We’ll sign that contract tomorrow.”
Joe Fairless: Yeah, exactly. It could say “Congratulations, you were the bid that they selected” and then for whatever reason they decided to go a different direction and put it under contract with someone else. Ultimately, unless it’s under contract, it doesn’t really mean anything.
Theo Hicks: Awesome. Congratulations.
Joe Fairless: One thing you could do is have an LOI signed by both parties, and I’ve heard situations where that has held up in court… Where you both sign the LOI and say “We plan on getting a purchasing sale agreement (PSA) agreed upon by two weeks from today” and then if it’s not, then it’s not… But if it is, then… Or within those two weeks if they go to another buyer, then I have seen in a court proceeding where the seller was forced to sell to the original buyer even though they didn’t have a contract, but they had a signed LOI in place. So that could be one way that you could tie it up.
Then ultimately, as I’ve said many times, everyone loses when attorneys are involved. If they don’t wanna sell it to you, I would probably just say “Okay, this is not the right thing.”
Theo Hicks: You’d find another deal.
Joe Fairless: Yeah.
Theo Hicks: Awesome. Well, a couple updates on my deal.
Joe Fairless: Yeah, are you closed?
Theo Hicks: We were supposed to close today, actually, but we extended the contract to the 31st because of–
Joe Fairless: Good, so they signed the contract.
Theo Hicks: It’s funny, because you were saying how you were awarded the deal but you haven’t yet signed the contract… I’ve been awarded the extension, but they still haven’t signed it yet. They keep saying “We’ll sign it tomorrow, we’ll sign it tomorrow…”
Joe Fairless: Oh, they haven’t signed it yet.
Theo Hicks: We’ll see what happens.
Joe Fairless: When do they have to sign it by?
Theo Hicks: I’m not sure of a specific date, but I’m sure they should have signed it by today.
Joe Fairless: Well, when’s the contract expiring?
Theo Hicks: Today. We’re supposed to close today.
Joe Fairless: So the contract goes until today, so you need to sign it today.
Theo Hicks: Yeah, they verbally agreed, but…
Joe Fairless: Verbally, or via e-mail?
Theo Hicks: E-mail.
Joe Fairless: Okay, so they e-mailed and said “Yes, we agree to it.” When was that?
Theo Hicks: That was yesterday.
Joe Fairless: Oh, okay.
Theo Hicks: It’s because the agents were on vacation, and they said “We’ll do it when they get back.”
Joe Fairless: Okay.
Theo Hicks: My agent’s on vacation, too… We’re into a lot of interesting situations with agents this round, so I’m not sure if I’ll be using agents moving forward…
Joe Fairless: You are an agent.
Theo Hicks: I am an agent, yeah.
Joe Fairless: So then use them! You could double up on some stuff.
Theo Hicks: I could. I’m probably gonna [unintelligible [00:08:30].21] they sent it back to the headquarters in Columbus, just because I didn’t wanna continue to pay them $1,000/year since I wasn’t using it, but now [unintelligible [00:08:44].08]
Joe Fairless: Yeah, it’s worth it.
Theo Hicks: So I guess if we’re talking about mistakes, that’s one mistake I don’t want to repeat next time, which is in regards to agents. Is it worth going through all the headaches of having your own agent with the benefit of not having to do the paperwork, versus just doing the paperwork yourself and having that extra money and not having the headache of having to rely on someone else, and kind of taking control of everything? That’s probably what we’ll do moving forward. But there’s good news about the deal.
Joe Fairless: So moving forward you will represent yourself.
Theo Hicks: I think so. I think this is a sign I should be representing myself.
Joe Fairless: Okay.
Theo Hicks: But there’s two pieces of good news about the deal. Number one, the appraisals came back at $10,000 over purchase price, which is good, because we were kind of [unintelligible [00:09:28].06] we were afraid that the appraisal would come back at the 220k mark, just because when we were looking at the comps, there weren’t any comps that were over $200,000. But there were multiple sales in the past couple months that were high enough that our property has appraised for 230k. So we’ve got $30,000 in equity over the three property.
Joe Fairless: Ten above each property.
Theo Hicks: Yeah, ten each.
Joe Fairless: Okay, that’s great.
Theo Hicks: And something that’s even better is the business plan was to go into each property and raise the rents to not necessarily market rates, but to the rates that we knew we could get based off of a one-bedroom and one two-bedroom that was leased in the property we were buying. For the one-bedroom it was $600/month, and for the two-bedroom it was $750. So we were planning on going in there and raising all the one-bedrooms to $600 and the two-bedrooms to $750, because all the leases were month-to-month besides those two.
But [unintelligible [00:10:24].16] He owns a property there and he just got $875, I believe. All the fourplexes in Pleasant Ridge are all the same; they all looked exactly the same… So I know it’s the same layout. I think he might have a couple of additional updates – I’m not 100% sure – but that’s $125 over what I thought I could get [unintelligible [00:10:49].11]
Joe Fairless: That’s huge. That’s over $1,200+/year.
Theo Hicks: Yeah, and right now the rents for the two-bedrooms are around $675, so…
Joe Fairless: Wow. That’s a great bit of news. I would definitely go tour if they’ll allow you, just to check out his place and do a comparison.
Theo Hicks: Yeah…
Joe Fairless: Have you gotten into the units that the keys never worked?
Theo Hicks: Yeah, we got in there.
Joe Fairless: You got in there. What did you find?
Theo Hicks: It was the exact same. There were no issues. I think that just the keys were different; the tenants replaced the locks, so… They had nothing hidden in there, there were no bodies or no broken floors or anything like that.
Joe Fairless: I was picturing a hoarder with dead things all around and trash piled up to your knees. Okay, cool. Good.
Theo Hicks: Well, there was one unit that was a hoarder, and we saw it… She was actually there, too. It was a weird situation because it wasn’t like your typical hoarder. They collect dolls, like Barbies and Star Wars characters… She had a room that was just covered in these action figures. It was crazy.
Joe Fairless: [laughs] [unintelligible [00:11:59].13] they’re all staring at you…
Theo Hicks: Basically… The dude was following us around like we were gonna steal one of her action figures. It’s like “I’m not taking your dolls, don’t worry.”
Joe Fairless: [laughs] You were being watched. Alright, so you had a lot more good news than anything. That’s great on those. And remind me and perhaps the Best Ever listeners, are you getting one loan for those three properties, or three separate loans?
Theo Hicks: Three separate loans.
Joe Fairless: Three separate loans. And who are you working with – not maybe the person, but the organization or the lenders.
Theo Hicks: It’s called Guaranteed Rate.
Joe Fairless: Oh, right.
Theo Hicks: It seems like they’re a hybrid of a traditional lender, like Bank of America or PNC, and a community bank. It’s just that they underwrite the deals a little bit different than [unintelligible [00:12:47].13] or PNC would, because they actually take into account the income of the property when they’re calculating the debt-to-income ratio, where as far as I can understand traditional banks don’t do that. They have you to wait two years of income before they start saying, “Okay, now we’ll take 100% of income”, whereas for this lender, for my understanding, they take 75% of the income right away, boom, right when they underwrite the deals, right now.
Joe Fairless: Yeah, Colleen and I used them to buy our primary residence… Guaranteed Rate.
Theo Hicks: Oh, awesome.
Joe Fairless: Cool. Okay, good stuff.
Theo Hicks: Awesome. So I kind of talked about my mistake already. Any mistakes you made this week?
Joe Fairless: Oh, let’s see… Of course I have mistakes I made this week. One is it has taken me way too long to finish one book. I have finished it last night, but I have had on my monthly goal for the last three months to read — three months ago it was to read one book, and then two months ago it was to read two books, and then last month it was just to read one book, and I still hadn’t completed one book and it’s freakin’ ridiculous… Because I’d start some and then I’d just trail off and then I go start another, then I wouldn’t read at all…
I have finally finished it. It’s the book called “Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value and How to Take Advantage of it” by William Poundstone. I don’t know how I came across it, because anytime either a Best Ever guest or someone I come across says “Hey, this book is good”, then I’ll just immediately buy it. It was either from Tim Ferriss, or someone…
I talked about this book briefly on another show, but the main takeaway is anchoring is real, so when you say “I want to sell my house for 3 million dollars” but the house is worth $300,000, that’s a bit ridiculous… But there is some portion that automatically elevates the real value of the house to a higher level, and you will likely get more money for it.
What it’s lead me to think about is right now with apartments in particular, all of the properties we come across are price to be determined by market; they don’t have an actual sales price. It goes absolutely against what all these psychologists and sociologists talk about in this book, and that is you don’t determine by market, you actually set the price, even if it’s ridiculous. You say “We have an apartment community worth $600,000”, and if you wanna get $600,000, set it for $850,000. Then, according to this book, you’ll get the top dollar you possibly can for it.
I talked about some other examples on previous shows, where some high-end jewelry store — do you know one? I can’t think of one right now.
Theo Hicks: No, but I heard of one — I think it was in the book Influence by Robert Cialdini… He was also talking about that anchoring technique; he might have called it differently, but he was saying how some jeweler couldn’t sell this specific stone and it was listed at half the price of some other stone that was selling off the hook, and then someone mistakenly doubled the price or added a zero to the price of this non-seller, and then it just sold out instantaneously.
Joe Fairless: Yeah, I remember that example… I can’t remember what book that was, but yeah, same principle. And sometimes you need that stone with the extra zero even if it doesn’t sell to then lift up your sales for other stuff, and this is what I talked about last time. You go into Gucci and — I don’t know if they sell jewelry or not… I think they just sell purses. But there’s a big Gucci diamond (I’m pretty sure they don’t have diamonds, but whatever; roll with me on this) and that never sells, but they it won’t sell, because the purpose of it is to then make the sunglasses and other things seem not as expensive.
So a takeaway for real estate investors – one, don’t do price determined by market, do an actual sales price. Two would be if you have a portfolio that you’re selling, then maybe one of the deals within the portfolio to be astronomically higher than what it should be, and then the others will then be risen up to a certain extent to that, higher than they would have been without that anchoring point.
Another very tactical is if you work from home, have a mirror in your office because studies have proven that when you’re more self-aware, you’re going to be more productive and ethical, because it’s like someone’s watching you and you’re more self-aware. So have a mirror in your office and you’ll just naturally be more self-aware, because there you are, and you’ll be on the ball a little bit more. It could help with your productivity.
Theo Hicks: Are you gonna put a full mirror here?
Joe Fairless: [laughs] Who knows? I don’t know, I might…
Theo Hicks: I have a full mirror near my office, so I wonder if that’s helping me out…
Joe Fairless: There you go.
Theo Hicks: Something else that I think is kind of related… Not necessarily price-wise, but I guess relationship-wise, in terms of anchoring — you interviewed Pat Hiban on a recent podcast (I think it was released last week) and he wrote the book “Six Steps To Seven Figures.” I think step five was Build, and he was talking about building off of previous success… There was something that when I was reading that I thought about, and I think he mentioned this about it too, how you anchor yourself to the past successes to essentially elevate yourself whenever you’re presenting yourself to new guests.
Instead of just saying “Hey, come to my podcast” or “Hey, come invest with me”, you say “Hey, I’ve interviewed Robert Kiyosaki, Barbara Corcoran and Emmitt Smith on my podcast… Come join that group.” Or “Hey, come invest with me. I’ve got this much in real estate already.” You’re like, “Wow, this guy is legit.” It just kind of adds that layer of credibility.
I think that’s kind of similar, where he was basically saying that you wanna anchor yourself to past successes, rather than starting from scratch and not mentioning anything you’ve done in the past, or just saying “Hey, come invest with me. Come do this, come do that.” It might kind of be related to that, so I wanted to mention it.
Joe Fairless: Yeah. I mean, ultimately you want to have credibility, and you have credibility by showing what you’ve done. It’s such a noisy world, and we get inundated with all sorts of stuff… It’s about “Why should I listen or be involved with you?” and that’s what I do anytime I present at a conference or somewhere… I always mention briefly my credentials, because it helps my credibility whenever I’m talking to people.
Ultimately, the main thing is interviewing over 1,000 real estate investors, because it’s not necessarily my experience – although I am a full-time active real estate investor – it’s about the experiences of a thousand other people I’ve learned from while interviewing them.
Theo Hicks: Awesome. Cool. We’ve got three questions – two from listeners, and one is actually from me… I guess you could call me a listener. We had 4th July Independence Day, and we had a blog about the four steps to financial independence on Joe’s blog… And I was thinking — because my idea when I invested in real estate… The reason I got into real estate was for the idea of financial independence. So I invest in real estate, get enough income from real estate to cover my expenses or cover what I was making at that point in my full-time job, and then at that point once I make it, I can just stop, don’t do anything anymore; I can go to a beach or I can go on vacation and do whatever.
My question to you, based off of all the interviews you’ve done is not necessarily “How realistic that is?” – obviously, it’s possible and you can actually achieve that and replace your income, but how many people do you know that once they get to that point, do they actually do that, or do they kind of just continue on, and it’s more of a financial freedom where they kind of don’t have to worry about money anymore, and they can just worry about expanding their business or doing something else?
Joe Fairless: Well, I’d say the high achievers naturally want to continue to grow, because that’s how they got to where they’re at; that’s how they’ve achieved what they’ve achieved, because they know how to play the game and have played it well, and wanna continue playing… Because it is playing to them. It’s not working, it’s playing to them.
With real estate it’s not like stocks, because with stocks you can set it up and forget about it. I’m sure you wanna look at your portfolio as you go along, but there’s more handholding, there’s more management involved with real estate. Maybe a triple net lease. That, or maybe leasing land or something like that… But there’s always gonna be some involvement in our investments.
I’m at the same place… I’ve got a large amount of real estate, and it’s just about continuing to grow and optimize my potential. It’s not just optimizing potential in real estate or business, it’s about personal relationships, physical health… So the people who do achieve financial independence and – what was the other term you used?
Theo Hicks: Freedom.
Joe Fairless: Freedom… To me, financial independence and financial freedom – it’s kind of semantics, it’s splitting hairs. Ultimately, the question is once you have enough money, do you continue to work or do you go retire on the beach? That’s basically the question.
I’ve found that you continue to work, but it’s not necessarily work, it’s stuff that you enjoy doing and you want to continue to achieve at a high level. There was something I read that Grant Cardone wrote… It was about “How do people work for 100 hours/week and not get burnt out?” and the answer is, well, if it’s work, you will get burnt out. But if it’s something that you’re enjoying doing, then you don’t get burnt out; you need to figure out how to integrate that into other things in your life, but you don’t get burnt out because you’re enjoying doing it. So you’ve gotta really thrive off of doing what you do.
I think the key is to, as you go along in your financial career, as you climb the ladder, to identify more and more of what you really enjoy doing, so what aspect of the business is the play part, versus what aspect is the work part, and then building systems and teams around you who help you with the work part.
I don’t plan on retiring on the beach somewhere, because I go to the beach now and I just sit there for ten minutes and that’s it. Like, I wanna go play volleyball, or I wanna go in the water, I wanna go do bike rides and stuff… So if the question is “Do I plan to retire and go on vacation permanently?”, I’d feel worthless, and perhaps that’s something more deep that we need to discover, but I just constantly need to contribute, and there’s tons of ways to contribute… But as long as I continue to grow my business, I know there’s a ripple effect of really positive things with a lot of people, and why not continue to optimize that?
I think that’s what most high achievers realize as they go along. Tony Robbins, Oprah, Elon Musk – they could retire, they could stop working, but then what? Statistics show when you retire after you’ve worked, and you don’t have a focus, you die in like 5-7 years, for males in particular. So why do that?
I think the image of going to retire on the beach is nice, but it’s not correct. If you do, you’ll probably die within 5-10 years, especially if you’re a male.
Theo Hicks: I think a really good point you’ve made — I think this was actually what [unintelligible [00:24:43].24] the high achiever, the person that’s gonna actually achieve this financial independence, freedom, whatever you wanna call it, isn’t necessarily going to set the goal of “Once I get there, I’m gonna retire.” They have the goal of always expanding and growing.
I guess the point is if you are a high achiever, your goal most likely is not going to be “I want to retire.” The goal of Elon Musk and all those other people you named is to continue growing and expanding, forever, [unintelligible [00:25:12].21] until you, I guess, die.
The answer to the question is the type of individual that has actually achieved financial independence doesn’t necessarily want to retire and quit the business and just do nothing. The person that’s actually capable of achieving the financial freedom will, once they get to that point, just continue going.
Joe Fairless: Perhaps optimize the business so that they spend no time doing something they don’t wanna do and only doing stuff they wanna do. That certainly could be it. They might go on a year-long retreat or something, but I guarantee they’ll be right back in the game, maybe starting a new business or something, because that’s just how things work.
I don’t have to do another podcast episode ever. This could be the last one and that will be it, and my business will be fine, and I’ll be fine… But that’s just not how I’m programmed. I just wanna continue to grow and achieve, and that’s what the high achievers do.
Theo Hicks: Awesome. The next question is from one of the listeners, Robert. He says “I’m trying to get going in the multifamily, and I ran across some student condos one or two blocks from the university. There are six [unintelligible [00:26:19].26] I don’t see much upside appreciation unless the building is remodeled. It was built in the 1980s, each unit has one vote for the HOA. If I were to acquire the majority of the 14 (say, eight of them), that would put me in the position to force a remodel.
I think the location is excellent, it will always be rented, but the outside is not appealing and that would hurt the appreciation, in my opinion.”
I guess the question is if he has the majority of votes on the homeowners association will he be able to force the HOA to repair the outside of the property?
Joe Fairless: Well, ultimately, disclaimer – I’ve never been in this position. I am about to say what I think, but it is not based on personal first-hand experience. I would think the approach would be to know what the HOA guidelines state, because whatever the bylaws say in a document, that’s what they’ll go by.
So then the question is “How do you get access to those bylaws for the homeowners association?” Well, ask for access, maybe… And then if they don’t get it, it should be publicly available, but I’m not certain about that. That would be my approach.
They might have something in there that says the majority, if you own however many, then you can influence all the votes on the board, or it might be something different, who knows…?
Theo Hicks: And they might not even let you have or buy more than a certain amount of properties, too.
Joe Fairless: Exactly.
Theo Hicks: Alright, so that was by Robert. David also had a question… I guess we kind of answered this already, but “When getting a loan, what do you recommend for people who are new and don’t have two years of tax returns, P&L statements etc.?” [unintelligible [00:28:03].07] that I used didn’t need the P&L statements of the property. Well, I guess he’s asking about the property, so I guess that’s a little bit of a different situation. So when you get a loan, what do you recommend for people who are new and don’t have two years of personal tax returns and the profit and loss statements for their property?
Joe Fairless: I don’t know… [laughter] [unintelligible [00:28:25].06] I don’t know that answer.
Theo Hicks: I would say just for the P&L statements, I’m guessing that maybe what he’s asking is if he hasn’t owned a property long enough for that two years we were talking about earlier, where they’re not gonna take into account the income – if that’s the case, then he can find a lender like Guaranteed Rate that will use the income instantaneously and not have to wait two years. That might be the question…
Joe Fairless: There you go. Thank you, Theo.
Theo Hicks: So I guess to wrap up, we wanted to acknowledge some listeners who left a review… We’ve got our latest review by LegacyDriven. Do you wanna read it or do you want me to read it?
Joe Fairless: Yeah, read it. You’ve got a better voice than I do. [laughter] Yours is more authoritative.
Theo Hicks: So LegacyDriven says “I’d say be a sponge…” — the title was “I’m a sponge”, and he says “I’d say be a sponge, because I’ve listened to this podcast for about six months and the knowledge I gained is hard to believe. Since listening I’ve rented my home that I was going to sell. I’m getting positive cash flow, too. I’m excited about acquiring more units and acquiring more knowledge with Joe along the way.”
Joe Fairless: Oh, I love it! Nice job, LegacyDriven, and congrats on renting out the unit versus selling it. We really — unless you’re gonna do a 1031 exchange, acquire and keep and just hold on for longer as much as possible. Props to you for doing that, and I’m grateful that you are a listener.
For the Best Ever listeners, if you write a review on iTunes, first off, that would be much appreciated, so thank you. Secondly, we’re gonna be reading one review on Follow Along Friday, so we’ll give you a shout out as well.
Theo Hicks: And something that I believe Robert Kiyosaki said – this is paraphrasing, but he says “I’ve never lost money on a deal, because I never sold a deal.” He just keeps everything, he doesn’t sell.
Joe Fairless: But I’m sure he does 1031. I bet he’s done a 1031 exchange.
Theo Hicks: It’s probably an exaggeration…
Joe Fairless: Yeah, I would imagine that. [laughter] Alright, cool.
Theo Hicks: And then finally, we’ve gotta talk about that upcoming inclusive interviews that you’ve got…
Joe Fairless: Yeah, I’ve got a lot of questions from listeners for Jillian Michaels. I’m going to be interviewing her next week, so there’s still time, if you have questions… She is an entrepreneur, clearly… We’re gonna be focused on her entrepreneurial endeavors and really what we can learn from a high achiever like herself who’s succeeded within her chosen profession.
This episode is gonna be relatively quick, it’s gonna be about 15 minutes or so, therefore all the questions (except for maybe two or three) will be from you, Best Ever listeners, so continue to send questions at info@JoeFairless.com, or if you’re watching this video on Facebook, then just comment below. I will do my best to include your question to Jillian Michaels when I interview her next week.
Alright, Best Ever listeners, I hope you have a wonderful rest of the day, and we’ll talk to you tomorrow.