JF2397: From Instagram Posts To BP Podcast Host: Using Social Media To Grow Your Brand With Ashley Kehr
Ashley was studying to be an accountant. However, 6 months into the job she decided to change her career and took on a property management job. Soon after that, she started investing into duplexes while still managing properties. Last February, she managed 82 residential and 16 commercial units all while having a portfolio of her own.
Now she owns 35 units with 2 other partners. Having an Instagram account helped her grow a community of like-minded investors and introduced her to many opportunities such as hosting a Bigger Pockets podcast show.
Ashley Kehr Real Estate Background:
- Full time buy and hold investor
- 6 years of real estate experience
- Portfolio consists of 35 units; 17 properties all buy and hold
- Based in Buffalo, NY
- Say hi to her on Instagram @wealthfromrentals
- Best Ever Book: Your Not Listening
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Best Ever Tweet:
“The best thing about social media for investors is the networking” – Ashley Kehr.
Theo Hicks: Hello, Best Ever listeners and welcome to The Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Show. I’m Theo Hicks and today we’ll be speaking with Ashley Kehr. Ashley, how are you doing today?
Ashley Kehr: Very good. Thank you for having me.
Theo Hicks: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today. A little bit about Ashley – she’s a full-time buy and hold investor with six years of experience. Her portfolio consists of 35 units across 17 properties, all buy and hold. She is based in Buffalo, New York and you can say hi to her on her Instagram, which is Wealth From Rentals. Ashley, do you mind telling us a little bit about your background and what you’re focused on today?
Ashley Kehr: Sure. I actually graduated college as an accountant. I lasted about six months and then I started working part-time as a property manager. I started to learn all about real estate investing, and from there, I started to buy duplexes on my own. So over the years, I’ve taken on a couple of partners. I’ve done some deals by myself, and just kind of fell in love with it and got hooked on it, and now that’s just all I do.
Theo Hicks: When you started working for that property management company, was that part-time in addition to your CPA job? Or did you quit the CPA job and start doing the property management company?
Ashley Kehr: I actually quit the CPA job and I was going to be a stay-at-home mom. Then I got the opportunity… My friend’s dad had a 40 unit apartment complex and he was getting rid of the current property management company he was using, and he wanted me to run the complex. So I actually started a property management company for him, and he continued to purchase residential and commercial property and I managed those. I just stopped doing that last February. At that point, I was managing about 82 residential units and about 16 commercial units.
Theo Hicks: Interesting. What are some of the things that you learned while doing the management company that helped you become a better real estate investor?
Ashley Kehr: It was definitely because the first day I started, I was put into this little tiny office and everything was in cardboard boxes; the files were a mess, the keys were just thrown in a drawer, not properly labeled… I basically had to teach myself how to do this job. I had no guidance, no training, and I had to learn everything on my own, which I think really helped me become a better investor or a better manager, because I had to learn everything from scratch. I actually built the company for him.
Theo Hicks: Did you have experience doing property management before?
Ashley Kehr: No, not at all. I was an accountant and that was it. I was six months out of college.
Theo Hicks: How did that work? Did you have to sell him on yourself and your ability to do this? Or was he just like, “I trust you, you’re my daughter’s friend.”
Ashley Kehr: I was actually on vacation with that family, and I was pregnant with my first child. I had told them I just left my other job and I was going to be a stay-at-home mom. Well, after that trip, he approached me and asked me to come meet with him and he said “My family’s harping on me. I’ve got to get rid of this property management company. I need to get organized. Can you help me get organized now that you are unemployed?” I was like, “Well, the kind of the point was for me to stay unemployed, but sure.”
So it started out part-time, and I did the bookkeeping for the property. So I think the fact that I knew how to do that was a big help. I managed all of his money, and then I had to teach myself how to do leases, how to manage tenants, what the landlord-tenant laws were, I found a lot of free classes online to take for that. But yeah, I had zero experience at all.
We got a cell phone for me to have his actual company phone, because the deal was I could work from home if I wanted. I remember the first morning, my first day I was starting, I got a phone call that the electrical outlet was not working from a resident, and I hadn’t even hired a maintenance person to work with yet, so I had to beg my husband to go with me to take care of this problem on my first day, the first hour. But it was definitely a big learning experience, because at first, I thought that I had to be available 24/7 to these tenants. It really wore me down, and that’s when I learned to build systems, put procedures and policies in place, and put that company together.
Theo Hicks: So at what point did you decide to start investing on your own? Was it something that you had always wanted to do? Or was it just something that became of interest to you after you started the management company?
Ashley Kehr: After I started working for this investor – he was awesome, because he involved me with every single thing he was doing. So when I first started, he was actually purchasing an auto dealership. He took me into the closing room and he had me open the bank account, put the money in to purchase this, and at the closing he let me write those huge checks to give at the closing. And just the little involvement like that just made me see how he did everything. So for that purchase, he was taking equity out of his rental properties to make that purchase of the other business. And just seeing how all those dots connected really made the wheels start spinning, so it was probably two years after that I actually approached his son, who I knew had a bunch of cash saved up, and I started talking to him about real estate investing, and said, “Look at how well your dad has done from it.” And then we purchased our first duplex together.
Theo Hicks: Alright, let’s talk about that first duplex deal. So you’ve got the money; you started off with the money. So how did you find the deal? Where did you look? Did you just invest in your backyard? Why did you pick a duplex?
Ashley Kehr: The duplex I picked just because I wanted more than one unit. I had been managing apartment complexes and I just liked more units under one roof. So a duplex was something I knew that, with his money, we could afford. So my mom’s friend was a real estate agent, I just told her what I wanted to do, and the first house we looked at, we ended up putting an offer in and purchasing.
What we did was we did 50/50 partners on the deal, and then I managed everything, I took care of everything. We had some slight rehab to do in it, and I would rent it out manage the tenants. And then he put in the money for the deal, which gave him the 50% equity. But he also held a note on the property, so he was paid a principal and interest payment, along with 50% of the cash flow too, each month.
Theo Hicks: On that first deal, what kind of evaluation did you do on the deal and then also on the area? And then how’s that compared to what you do now?
Ashley Kehr: The area was in the same area that I was managing residential units anyways for the other investor. So I knew the area very, very well – what rents could go for, what the value of the property was just from being involved in appraisals, everything like that. So I was very comfortable in the market, just from doing transactions for this guy and renting out apartments for him.
And then as far as valuation, I basically just wrote down what I thought it could get monthly and what my expenses would be. One big mistake I made on that first property was I didn’t account for snow removal. In Buffalo, that is a huge thing that you really need to account for. So that was one mistake I made on my first property.
Then it was about — I think, a year and a half later, or maybe even two years when I found BiggerPockets. After that, I started using BiggerPockets calculator reports, and really diving into getting better at analyzing deals.
Theo Hicks: So you use a BP calculator – is that how you analyze your deals today?
Ashley Kehr: Yeah.
Theo Hicks: What about how you’re finding these duplexes? You said you’ve done 17 deals, and you said your mom’s agent friend?
Ashley Kehr: Yes, I used her for a while. I’ve done probably 50% MLS deals, and the rest have been word of mouth, or I saw a sign and I called on it. So I’ve never really done direct mail, anything like that. I’ll send out a couple of letters if there’s a house that I see… But really, the influx of deals had been word of mouth and people bringing them to me. My partners and I are very, very good at telling anyone and everyone what we’re looking for and what we want. We’ve just had so many people approach us saying, “Hey, we’re selling this. Would you be interested before we put it on the market?” That’s been our biggest way to find deals.
Theo Hicks: What about the money side of the equation? So is the first guy that invested in the deal, is he still with you? Is he’s still funding all of your deals? Or are you doing other sorts of funding, like your own money, or other investors? How are you finding the deals now?
Ashley Kehr: I really haven’t used any of my own money doing any of these deals. So with that same first partner, he’s taken a line of credit on his house and a home equity loan on his house to fund some deals. We’ve also refinanced some of those properties to purchase more properties, just with conventional commercial financing on those. Another partner I have – we’ve pulled equity out of other properties we have to each put in 50/50 to purchase another property.
My husband and I, we live on a farm and we have an old farmhouse, and we have tenants in there now, but we own that free and clear, so we actually found a bank that would put a line of credit on that, and that’s primarily what I use to purchase deals. And then I will go back, basically do a BRRRR, pay the line of credit back, and then use it again to purchase another property.
Theo Hicks: So you’ve got an Instagram we talked about earlier. Is that something that you have found to be beneficial to your business from a financial perspective? And if so, how?
Ashley Kehr: Well, the biggest thing is that I probably would never be the host of the BiggerPockets Real Estate Rookie Podcast if it wasn’t for my Instagram. That’s kind of how I get to meet the producer and how I got to be on the BiggerPockets show, and then eventually become a podcast host. So I think it was definitely beneficial from that, just because I love getting to meet people, interview them, and then I get to ask the questions that I want. That really benefits me in that way, so I’m continuing to learn different strategies and how to grow my business… But really, the best thing about social media for investors is the networking. So that may bring you deals, that may bring you financing, but it will give you ideas, it will give you inspiration, give you motivation. It’s the network of the people you’ll meet online.
Theo Hicks: I feel like a bad host. I didn’t realize that you were the host of the BiggerPockets Show. Congrats on that. You should be interviewing me. So a quick follow-up on the Instagram, and I guess how I became a host… You said you met them through Instagram? What does that mean? Did you message them or you posted stuff and they found you?
Ashley Kehr: They slid into my DMs, yeah… [laughs] So when I started my Instagram account – this was in June of 2019, so like a year and a half ago… And I just wanted to put out real estate content, show people what I was doing, and help others do the same thing, and I had a goal that one year I wanted to be on the BiggerPockets podcast. So it was in August that the producer for the show sent me an Instagram message and just said “Hey, I’ve been seeing your name all over places on Instagram. Would you be interested in being a guest?” And of course, here comes the screams, the jumping, the excitement…
And then my episode aired in September and then after that, they had announced they were going to do a new show; “Did anyone have any ideas?” and you could fill out this form and submit it. So I did submit with an idea, and they called me and said “Well, your idea is okay, but not good enough for a whole show. But we’d still like to have you try out as a host.” So that’s when they had partnered me up with my co-host, Felipe Mejia. We had to go through sample interviews and kind of like a trial run… And then in December of last year, we found out that we were chosen to be the hosts of the Real Estate Rookie Podcast.
Theo Hicks: Nice. That’s really cool.
Ashley Kehr: It was really exciting.
Theo Hicks: They slid into your DMs based off of you posting every day…
Ashley Kehr: No, I–
Theo Hicks: I’m trynig to get an idea of what you were posting that made them “Oh, wow, we want her to come on the show.”
Ashley Kehr: So what I do are these whiteboard posts. I started out handwriting actually on a whiteboard and then taking a picture of it, but now I do it on my iPad with an Apple Pencil. But I would just write out everything, what I was doing; I would pick a topic, or I’d write out information on a deal, the numbers, and everything, and I would post that with a couple of pictures of the property or something like that. Whenever I do those, they just gain a lot of traction. I really don’t post a lot; I try to post to my stories, but I think I’ve only done maybe 160 actual posts on my Instagram page.
Theo Hicks: Is it a video where you are talking over, of is it just a picture of the thing?
Ashley Kehr: Nope. It’s just the picture. I’ll do the topic, what are four ways to get started real estate, or something like that, and then I’ll have a new slide, it will be another whiteboard explaining way number one, and then another whiteboard explaining way number two.
Theo Hicks: Okay, nice. I have not been on Instagram in a while. I didn’t realize you could do sliding pictures. I’ve learned two things I didn’t know today. There we go. Okay, Ashley, what is your best real estate investing advice ever?
Ashley Kehr: When I first told about my story, my history, it’s how I worked for this investor… I think if you have the opportunity to and you’re able to, start working in the real estate industry. You could be a leasing agent or you could do maintenance.
I had met this police officer a couple of months ago who, when he was in college in between his classes, he would go and fulfill maintenance requests for an investor. There are so many different ways to be involved in real estate; driving for dollars for a wholesaler, anything like that. Especially if you can be paid for that experience, too. A lot of these jobs can be done on your own time, they can be done on the weekends, and it doesn’t mean you have to quit your full-time career to actually start doing something in real estate investing. But I think getting paid to learn how to do real estate investing, and just the amount of people you will not work with too, and the relationships you’ll build by just being in that industry will really help you grow.
Theo Hicks: Okay, are you ready for the Best Ever lightning round?
Ashley Kehr: Yes, I am.
Theo Hicks: Alright. First, a quick word from our sponsor.
Theo Hicks: Okay. What is the Best Ever book you’ve recently read?
Ashley Kehr: I actually did an Instagram post on this book… It’s You’re Not Listening. It’s by Kate Murphy. It just really goes into talking about how people don’t listen and telltale signs that you’re not listening, because you’re more focused on the person thinking that you’re actually listening… It was just really wide opening and there were some things in it like, “Oh, wow, I actually do that.” But it’s showing how powerful it can be to actually listen to someone than worrying about how you’re going to respond and what you’re going to say next.
I really liked that, because I think in your personal life, and in business, and just everywhere in your whole life, that can really add value to you. But as an investor, you’re either dealing with tenants, you’re dealing with sellers, you’re dealing with buyers… There are tons of people you have to work with and communicate with, so I think communication is key, and this book was a great read.
Theo Hicks: Yeah, a lot of people I’ve interviewed use the cliché that you’ve got two ears and one mouth for a reason, so I guess a lot of people will agree with you about the listening part. If your business were to collapse today, what would you do next?
Ashley Kehr: Well, I just opened a liquor store… So I’ve gotten distracted by retail businesses now, so the next one I would do is laundromats.
Theo Hicks: Nice. So out of all of the deals you’ve done so far, which was the Best Ever deal?
Ashley Kehr: My best one would be I purchased this portfolio from this older investor who just wanted to be done. The properties were not very well taken care of, and I couldn’t purchase all of them at the time… And there was this one commercial building he was selling; it was two commercial units, two residential units, a very small town, there were other vacant buildings, so I didn’t take it, and he had wanted 90,000 for it.
Well, about a year and a half later, he approached me again and said he’d sell it for 60,000 and include a duplex he had that needed a ton of work. I told him I would take both of them for 40,000 and he accepted. Then I wholesaled the duplex for 20,000, so I get this four-unit commercial building for 20,000. I put about 70,000 of rehab into it, and it’s now getting $2,700 a month in rent… And I was able to put private financing on it for 30 years at 4.5% for $100,000.
Theo Hicks: Wow. What’s it used for? The commercial building.
Ashley Kehr: The upstairs, there’s two tenants in there. We completely remodeled one unit and then the other one, we just did what was needed, because the resident wanted to stay and didn’t want her rents raised. In the downstairs there’s a little boutique store, like gifts, clothing, stuff like that went into one side. And then I actually opened a liquor store on the other side.
Theo Hicks: What’s the Best Ever way you’d like to get back?
Ashley Kehr: It’d really just probably be just on my Instagram, and then I recently started a YouTube channel called Talk It Over, and just giving as much free content as I can. I like talking about real estate, and I like especially when I interview someone and they have that lightbulb moment, and they just talk about the recent success they had because they took action and got into real estate. So I love it when I can be a part of that and I can help someone take that first step into real estate.
Theo Hicks: And then lastly, what’s the Best Ever place to reach you?
Ashley Kehr: That would be on Instagram @wealthfromrentals or biggerpockets.com. I have a profile on there, too.
Theo Hicks: Alright Ashley. Thank you so much for joining us today and giving us your Best Ever advice, as well as walking us through your journey. Your best advice, which you followed and that’s how you got started in real estate, is to start working in the industry before you get started. So this doesn’t need to be a super-fancy job. It could be a leasing agent, it could be maintenance, it could be driving for dollars… Something to get your foot in the door, something that you can do part-time, so you don’t have to actually quit your job, and then something that pays you. That way you can learn at least some aspects of the business to use that as a jumping point. A lot of people talk about the best experience is actually doing it. You learn a lot from reading books and listening to podcasts; it’s obviously important. But going out there and taking action and actually doing something is also important. So what better way to do that than doing it on someone else’s dime, as opposed to having your own money invested.
Then you’re kind of walked us through your overall journey from working at that property management company, to starting a property management company, to starting to buy duplexes… You talked about how you started your valuation, how you find your deals, about raising money… And then the coolest thing I think that I didn’t know about was the Instagram. So you talked about how your whiteboard posts on Instagram not only got you on the BiggerPockets Podcast, but then you were also able to get your own podcast on the BiggerPockets Podcast. Super-cool. Everyone make sure you check out her podcast or Instagram and her YouTube channel, which she mentioned. Ashley, thank you so much 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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