JF2275: Fast Growth With Dan Perez
Dan is fairly new to real estate investing and yet has already accomplished owning 27 rentals, 5 flips, and also a limited partner in a 32-unit complex. He shares how he initially started from developing proof of concept to building a team and process that have enabled them to scale in a short time period.
Dan Perez Real Estate Background:
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“Stay consistent, keep underwriting deals, keep learning because when the right opportunity comes, you will be ready” – Dan Perez
Theo Hicks: Hello Best Ever listeners and welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Theo Hicks, and today we’re speaking with Dan Perez. Dan, how are doing today?
Dan Perez: Doing great, Theo. Thanks for having me on.
Theo Hicks: Awesome, well thanks for joining us. A little bit about Dan. He is a full-time corporate tax accountant for Qualcomm and started investing in real estate in 2018. His portfolio consists of 27 rentals, 5 flips, and a partnership in a 32 unit apartment complex. He is based in San Diego, California and you can say hi to him at his email, which is firstname.lastname@example.org. So Dan, do you mind telling us a little bit more about your background and what you’re focused on today?
Dan Perez: Definitely. Yes, my wife and I live in San Diego, California, and we primarily invest out of state in Indianapolis, Indiana. We started at the end of 2018 and we’ve really grown since then. We went into real estate investing primarily for rental properties, but based on the market we’ve also taken down a couple of flips over that amount of time.
Based on the amount of capital that we have available to us, we actually used the BRRR method to start out using other people’s money to invest in rental properties, buy them, fix them up, add some value and appreciation to the property, so that we can refinance the money out and continue to scale. Our goal going into this was to allow us a bit of financial flexibility moving forward. We plan to have kids in the next couple of years, and our whole goal in real estate was let’s generate some passive income to help us out down the line, if one or both of us would like to stay home and raise our kids, or just provide another opportunity for us; we figured this would be the fastest way to get us there. And as you mentioned, we’re not only in Indianapolis with single-family rental properties, but we are also limited partners in a 32 unit apartment complex in Kansas City, Missouri, which is going well, and our goal moving forward is just to keep generating passive income.
Theo Hicks: Thanks for sharing that. So your first deal, did you use other people’s money?
Dan Perez: For our first deal we actually used a Home Equity Line of Credit on our primary residence. We actually did that on our first three properties; what we did is we want to have a proof of concept where we can work out the kinks and also just be ready for anything that maybe we didn’t think of going into this investment journey. And for us, after going through 3, potentially even 4 deals with our own money, what we did is then we were able to take our concept and pitch that to other investors to give them some comfort around, “Hey, here’s what Dan and Kelly are doing, it’s working. They’ve worked out some of the kinks.” You know you can’t figure out everything on your first couple of deals… But at least we were able to give them a level of comfort that says “They know what they’re doing, their process works, they’re going to get better and better with each deal. We’re ready to invest with them and they’re also making a good return on their investment.”
Theo Hicks: So you said you started in 2018 and you owned 25 rentals and then 5 flips. That’s like 32 and it has been 2 years, so what is that? 16 per year? So one per month. So I’m just curious, are you doing multiple deals at once now? Have you always been doing multiple deals, or did you do one at a time upfront first, and then did multiple deals?
Dan Perez: So at the end of 2018 where we actually spent most of our time was building out our teams. We’re both very meticulous in how we put together what we’re doing, our process and procedures, and then also we’re extremely picky about who we surround ourselves with, because we know that could really make or break what you’re doing in the investment market.
So for us, what we did is we spend about 3 or 4 months just building out our team, meeting people, calling other investors, asking them who they worked well with, who they didn’t work well with, and why. Because everyone works differently with their vendors. So for us, at the end of 2018 we actually didn’t even take down our first deal, it actually happened at the beginning of 2019. But just the amount of time and effort we put into building our team allowed us to scale at a fairly quick pace.
We actually picked up — I believe it was 20 or 21 deals in 2019, and we were doing multiple deals at once. So the first few we took a little while; we had to get comfortable with our teams and we had to figure out, “Okay, how quickly do we want to go?” Because we do have W2 jobs as well. So we didn’t want to take on too much at once. But once we had our team built out and were familiar with their processes, I think our busiest month we took down 9 properties at once and all 9 had rehabs going on. So that was probably our busiest month, it was august of 2019. But by that time we were comfortable with our team, they knew how to work with us, and it was difficult at times but we got through it.
Theo Hicks: How much money did you make have when you first started, that you used for those first 3 deals?
Dan Perez: So we had a home equity line of credit, I believe it was $180,000 to $200,000. But the house is in Indianapolis; you can pick up some solid three-bed, one-bath properties that need some work in the range of $40,000 to $55,000 in 2019; the prices have grown up a little bit since then. So that gave us the ability to take on those homes and the rehabs with our own money. So that is the beauty of the Indianapolis market – it’s very affordable to get into the market, and the rental rates are strong as well. So it is very conducive to having rentals.
Theo Hicks: Yeah. So if that for the first 3 to 4 months you focused on building your team… Who did you bring on? And then since you weren’t actively doing deals that time, and you hadn’t done a deal in the past, what type of things did you say to them to bring them? Or did they just say, “Yeah, I’ll work for you.” Or did you need to sell to them, in a sense, on your ability to actually do the deals, since obviously, they get paid whenever you actually do deals?
Dan Perez: That’s a great point you bring up. It was difficult with some of the vendors I was reaching out to without having done a deal. It is difficult sometimes to get people’s attention, because there are so many investors reaching out to agents, wholesalers, property managers on a day to day basis. A lot of times if you haven’t done a deal, some people quite frankly do tend to not take you seriously, as compared to if you have done a deal or two. So keeping that in mind, I tried to respect that; I know everyone is extremely busy, and so if they didn’t have the time to work with me at that given time, so be it. I would have to move on. But at least I would try to pick their brain a little bit and say, “Here are a couple of questions. Can you at least help me to answer them or point me in the right direction?” So if I at least got them on a call, I wanted to make the most of that time with them.
But when we started out, I tried to keep my calls as short and succinct as possible, because I did not want to waste their time upfront. I knew as a new investor I could come off with doing so. So what I did is I had a list of vendors that we wanted to bring on to our team, starting with the property manager, deal finders, agents, and wholesalers. We needed to find someone that could provide insurance for us; contractors are in an extremely big one when you are using the BRRR method.
So we wanted to start with our core solid team, and what I did is I just had a generic set of questions that I would ask each, to figure out who worked well with us, who didn’t. But I think what I actually gained the most value was speaking with other investors, who are my competitors as well, in the Indianapolis market… Just saying, “Who’s working well for you?” Because I think that’s where you’re actually going to get the most honest feedback. What I’ve found is anytime you call a vendor, they tend to have pretty good answers for you. And everyone sounds good over the phone, but you get the most honest feedback from the investors that are actually working with these vendors.
Theo Hicks: And then it sounds like the other person on your team is your wife you said?
Dan Perez: Correct. Yup.
Theo Hicks: What advice do you have on making sure that that goes smoothly?
Dan Perez: That’s a good question, Theo. For us, what we did is we said we’re going to segregate the duties, so that we’re not stepping on each other’s toes, but also so we’re not duplicating work. The point of us going into this together is one, we both really enjoyed real estate. But the other thing is we want to make it as easy and seamless for us as possible, so it’s not necessarily a burden. It’s supposed to be as passive as possible, which takes time and effort, but with the two of us, I think it has honestly allowed us to scale a little quicker than maybe if you’re going in on your own.
So what we did when we started out is we said, “I am going to be more on the acquisition site, and managing the property managers, managing the day-to-day rehabs.” Whereas Kelly was going to be more on the back end; she’s a corporate controller, so she’s managing more of the finances, the re-finances on our properties, which is a huge undertaking. She’s managing the books, she’s working with our CPA’s, she’s doing a lot of the business side on the back end. We always joked that I get all the glory up front, and I get the Facetime with all the fun people, and then she’s on the back end doing the difficult task. But it takes a lot of pressure off me and allows me to scale with the deals that we’re taking on.
Theo Hicks: And do both of you have full-time jobs that are structured 9 to 5? Or do you have some flexibility that allows you to work on the business during the day? Or is it just all at night and weekends?
Dan Perez: I would say that our jobs are pretty structured; with both of us being in accounting, I would say our typical hours are about [8:30] to [6:00], or [6:30] at night. So we’re working about 50 hours a week. But what we do is with us being in San Diego, our team being on East Coast time, we’re able to wake up early in the morning, get the necessary emails. We prioritize any emails that we need to get out immediately, we get those out the door before we start our day jobs. And then we tend to sync up with our teams during our lunch break. And then after work, even though our team is probably home and eating dinner with their family, we’re catching up on other emails that maybe weren’t as urgent. So we do fit it in around our day jobs, but in the morning is typically when we get the most done.
Theo Hicks: And how are you finding your deals? You mentioned the agents and the wholesalers – are they the ones who are solely sending you your deals? So MLS and then wholesalers?
Dan Perez: Correct. When I started out, I was looking at Redfin I would say 30 to 45 minutes a day. One, just to see what deals are out there. But two, I was practicing my underwriting, trying to get comfortable with the rent rates in certain neighborhoods. Figuring out what the ARV’s might be, because that’s extremely important for using the BRRR method. So for us, looking at Redfin, looking at Zillow, figuring out rent rates and what homes are going for, I felt like it gave me a competitive advantage, because now I can look at a map of Indianapolis or any market that I’m looking at, I can more or less tell you if it’s a good deal or not upfront.
Now of course things can come up in due diligence, but at a high level I can usually run a real within 2 to 5 minutes and say, “Yes, this is one that we at least want to look into.” But after doing this for 6 to 8 months, and I became comfortable with it, my team started pretty much sending me every deal. I no longer have to look at Redfin or really go on any sites. My real estate agent will send me deals that he knows meets our criteria, and then we’ve made good relationships with wholesalers in the Indianapolis market, and now they send us deals that they know we will take down. And I think that that all goes back to we built the relationships upfront, and we say what we’re going to do, we act on it; we don’t drag our feet. If we liked a deal, we say “Yes, this works for us.” And we deliver on it. I think that the Indianapolis wholesalers now respect us for that, and they know that we will take down deals if we say that we want it.
Theo Hicks: But for your first deals, did you have those yourself on Redfin and Zillow?
Dan Perez: Correct. I would say the first 5 or 6 deals I found on Redfin. I sent it to the agent we were working with at that time, saying we’re interested. He helped us draft up the purchase agreement and then we worked with our contractors and our inspectors to get in there, do due diligence. You might need to go back and forth with the seller a little bit, based on new information that became available during the inspection, to get it to a price that now works for you. And then from there we would close on the deal and start the process. But yes, the first couple were deals that I was just looking all over Redfin, Zillow, Trulia, and I reached out to my agent and said, “Can we please draft up an offer?”
Theo Hicks: Alright, Dan, what is your best real estate investing advice ever?
Dan Perez: I would say my best real estate investing advice would be to stay consistent and take action. I think a lot of people think that taking action only means putting in offers and buying properties, but there are other ways that you can take action. You can really build your team, build your network, you can learn. I know with COVID going on right now sometimes the deals might slow down. So I would say stay consistent, keep underwriting deals, keep learning, and when the right deal pops up, you’ll know that it’s a great deal to take down, and you’ll be ready for it.
Theo Hicks: Alright, Dan. Are you ready for the Best Ever lightning round?
Dan Perez: Let’s do it.
Theo Hicks: Alright. First, a quick word from our sponsor.
Theo Hicks: Okay Dan. What is the Best Ever book you’ve recently read?
Dan Perez: Tax-Free Wealth by Tom Wheelwright.
Theo Hicks: If your business were to collapse today, what would you do next?
Dan Perez: I would figure out what I or my team did wrong, figure out how we can fix it, and I would go right back to doing the same thing I am now, picking up rental properties.
Theo Hicks: What is the Best Ever deal you’ve done? Either in terms of money or something else?
Dan Perez: I would say it was actually one of our first couple of deals. The agent we were working with identified a deal, more or less right up the purchase agreement for us. By the time I got into the office at 9 in the morning, it was in my inbox. I signed it, we had it under contract about an hour later. We were all into the property for $59,000 and it’s renting for $1,025.
Theo Hicks: Something I forgot to ask you earlier… Have you visited the market?
Dan Perez: I have. I’ve been three times and I’m actually flying out in a week.
Theo Hicks: Okay. And then on the other end, tell us about a time that you lost money on a deal. How much you lost and what lessons you learned.
Dan Perez: Fortunately we have not lost money on a deal. But I would say our most unsuccessful deal was a deal that we went into – it was a larger property that we were looking to flip. It was with an agent we were working with in the beginning, that we’re no longer working with. We went into this property as a flip, so we did very nice finishes on this property; it ended up not selling or even getting offers anywhere close to what would work for us. So we actually had to pivot and turn it into a rental property, which we’re not making the rental numbers that we would hope to, but we’re still cash flowing a small amount each month. We will look to either flip it in the future, or figure out another strategy with it. But I would say that that was the deal that went the most in the wrong direction of the deals we’ve done so far.
Theo Hicks: What is the Best Ever way you like to give back?
Dan Perez: Speaking to new investors, hands down. I love talking with new investors, helping them underwrite deals, helping them learn the market, helping them build their team… Whatever I can do to help give back. I had a lot of experienced investors that really took me under their wing when I was first starting out, and Kelly and I like to give back by having quick calls or Zoom sessions with newer investors and try to provide as much guidance and knowledge we can to them.
Theo Hicks: And then lastly, what is the Best Ever place to reach you?
Dan Perez: The Best Ever place to reach me would probably be on Instagram. It’s @paperrouteinvestments. I tend to check that pretty frequently. And if people have questions I’m happy to give back to them and help however I can.
Theo Hicks: What types of things do you post on the Instagram page?
Dan Perez: We’re still building it out, but for now, we’ll post our properties that we’ve purchased, the areas that they’re in… Sometimes I’ll post the other interviews that I’ve done with different companies. So we try to post things here and there. I’m still getting better at that; I would say it’s probably one of the weaker parts of our investment journey right now, but in the future we’re going to work to build it out. Maybe post some case studies on BRRR deals that we’ve done, and anything that can provide value to people.
Theo Hicks: Awesome, Dan. Well, thanks for joining us and walking us through your journey of how you were able to build up this rental portfolio while working a full-time job, with your wife of course. So you went over how you’re funding your deals, especially with the HELOC on your home. And then you did that to create a proof of concept with your own money, and then you were able to pitch that to other investors for the rest of your deals.
You mentioned that you didn’t just jump in right away and do deals. Instead, you focused on building the team first, building that foundation, which is what allowed you to scale so quickly. And you mentioned that the best way to find these team members and to pre-qualify them is to reach out to your competitors, other investors, and see who they’ve worked with in the past and if they worked that well, and then ask them why, to make sure that you [unintelligible [00:19:42].29] with them.
You gave us some tips on working with a significant other, which can be really be applied to just business partners in general… Which was making sure you’re segregating the duties, you’re not stepping on each other’s toes, but you’re also not replicating the exact same things; as you mentioned, the breakdown of duties between you and your wife.
You mentioned how you were able to spend time on the business while working a full-time job… So waking up early, working during your lunch hours, and then working at night. And then finding deals upfront, you were finding your deals online, Zillow, Redfin, but you were also looking at those deals to practice underwriting as well. Those were your first 5 deals. And after that your team members, the agents, and the wholesalers you’ve built a relationship with would send you deals, because you were known to not drag your feet and would do what you say you’re going to do.
And then lastly your best ever advice, which was to stay consistent and take action, and realize that action isn’t just putting in offers. Action is learning, action is networking, action is building a team. Those small steps that are ultimately leading you to doing a deal. So Dan, thanks for joining us. Best Ever listeners, as always, thank you for listening, have a Best Ever day and we’ll talk to you tomorrow.
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