JF1693: Leverage Your Skills To Find Partners & Close More Deals with Jerome Myers

Jerome has worked on other peoples’ deals, as well as his own. He and Joe will talk specifics on a 23 unit heavy value add deal that Jerome is still working on. What problems has he ran into, how did he find the deal, and how does he plan on going from no tenants to fully leased? Listen in now to find out. If you enjoyed today’s episode remember to subscribe in iTunes and leave us a review!


Best Ever Tweet:

“I’ve watched people buy bad deals just because they wanted to get a deal” – Jerome Myers


Jerome Myers Real Estate Background:

  • Serves as an executive coach, real estate investor, and business strategy consultant at The Myers Development Group
  • Asset manager for over 75 units and 75,000 square feet of workforce housing across Virginia and North Carolina
  • Hosts the Dreamcatcher podcast
  • Based in Greensboro, NC
  • Say hi to him at http://d3v3loping.com/
  • Best Ever Book: Millionaire Success Habits


How great would It be to buy a piece of institutional-quality, income-producing commercial buildings? Now you can… with BuildingBits. It’s NOT A REIT or a fund. BuildingBITS is a new platform for non-accredited investors, where virtually anyone, regardless of income, can select a building leased to a major corporation and earn money from it!

Start investing with as little as $500 at https://www.buybits.us/


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, where we only talk about the best advice ever, we don’t get into any of that fluffy stuff. With us today, Jerome Myers. How are you doing, Jerome?

Jerome Myers: Great, Joe. Thanks for having me.

Joe Fairless: My pleasure, nice to have you on the show. A little bit about Jerome – he serves as an executive coach, real estate investor and business strategy consultant at The Myers Development Group. He’s an asset manager for over 75 units and 75,000 square feet of workforce housing across Virginia and North Carolina, and he’s the host of a podcast; it’s called The Dreamcatcher Podcast. He’s based in Greensboro, North Carolina. My mom and stepdad used to live Wilkesboro, NC, so I’ve been to Greensboro many times. With that being said, Jerome, do you wanna give the Best Ever listeners a little bit more about your background and your current focus?

Jerome Myers: Sure. My formal training is in engineering; I’m a civil engineer, licensed in North Carolina, Virginia, New York and Texas. I got an MBA, and in my last corporate America job I built a 20-million-dollar division in a construction company.

Today we’re focused on small multifamilies, really buying things that are between 20 and 50, but looking to scale that up to 75 to 150 over the next couple of years. Our ambition is to hold 1,000 doors by 2028.

Joe Fairless: Great. You’re an asset manager currently for 75 units, correct?

Jerome Myers: Yes.

Joe Fairless: Okay. Is that your own company, or are you employed by another company?

Jerome Myers: No, that’s my company. We’ve partnered with some old friends.

Joe Fairless: So those are your deals?

Jerome Myers: Yes. We’ve been the lead on two of them, and then we’ve put together the strategy on another one, but it was another person’s contract.

Joe Fairless: Okay. So you’re the general partner on some, and then you’re brought in as an asset manager for others?

Jerome Myers: For one we were hired in/brought in as a partner. So we’re a partner in every deal, we buy in every deal. The first deal that we got in, we didn’t have multifamily experience, so we had to partner with others that did… So we came in as kind of a strategy partner, we also brought some cash to the deal, and then from there we were able to take that experience and roll it into our own deals. We’ve been really focusing on Greensboro, NC since that point.

Joe Fairless: Oh, great. Let’s talk about that first deal, and then we’ll go from there. Tell us about the first deal.

Jerome Myers: The first deal is a 23-unit building in Richmond, VA. It was a heavy value-add. We are spending — I don’t know if I can disclose it, but we’re spending a lot of money there. We’ve purchased that property for 1.3 million, and we’re looking to start leasing that one up this summer. So we’re about 60%-70% through renovations at this point.

Joe Fairless: And you mentioned you helped with the strategy and you brought cash… What’s been your more specific role with that deal?

Jerome Myers: We had to come up with an initial construction strategy; we also were instrumental in the business plan development. We helped create the PowerPoints and present those to the bank, and we also solicited a couple a couple of investors to help fund the down payment.

Joe Fairless: When you created the presentation and did it for the bank, what are some things that you learned through that process?

Jerome Myers: The numbers matter. For this property they didn’t want lipstick on the pig. They really wanted us to come in and improve the property. The previous owner had a ton of deferred maintenance, and the property was just falling into disrepair… So they were looking for somebody to come in and really upfit the units, make them look nice. The area that we bought in is pretty affluent. A lot of the homes are 300k plus, which may sound cheap for some of the markets, but for Richmond, that’s one of the more affluent areas, so we’re taking rents from $695 up over $1,100. We’re hoping for $1,195.

Joe Fairless: Wow. That’s a huge jump. Have you achieved those rent premiums?

Jerome Myers: We pre-leased two units. We ended up deviating from the initial business plan that we set out on. We were going to upgrade units as people’s leases expire, and we’ve cleared out the whole complex and we’re doing everything all at the same time. We’ve already leased up two, so yes, we are getting those rent premiums.

Joe Fairless: So you have no residents living at the property right now.

Jerome Myers: No. It’s a dead asset, which is one of my biggest fears. We haven’t done that on any project afterwards, but this one we’ve got some pretty strong financial partners in the deal, so we’re able to carry the note.

Joe Fairless: Is that the reason why you did it, is because you have the cash to float the property, versus leasing it up as leases expire?

Jerome Myers: We found out after we got into the deal that there were some big plumbing issues. The property wasn’t functioning well enough to keep people there, or trying to keep people there while we went through the construction, so we felt like it was just better to clear it out and be able to get in, hit it really hard with all the trades; it ends up being more efficient.

There’s really two schools of thought on that – some people wanna clear it out, bring everybody in, wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am, get back out. Then there are other people who prefer to turn units as the leases expire. I think I’m more of the school of thought of the latter, but on this project, with the amount of renovations that we’re doing, we’re gonna have basically a brand new property when we get done… So this approach is actually working pretty well for us. Except for the fact that we have to pay a mortgage every month.

Joe Fairless: Yeah, those are details… [laughter] How are you able to remove residents if their leases did not expire?

Jerome Myers: When we buy assets, we’re typically looking for ones where the majority of the residents are month-to-month. That happens a lot with the mom-and-pops that we’ve been running into. They aren’t renewing the leases and they don’t have terms in the leases where there’s a premium for being month-to-month… So we try to come in where either they’re month-to-month, or they expire in those first six months of ownership, so that we can get in and do our thing.

Joe Fairless: That’s the 23-unit… What was the next deal?

Jerome Myers: The next deal was two addresses, but the total deal was 28 units. It was 20 townhome units at one address, and then eight one-bedroom — two side-by-side quads, I guess that’s the best way to describe it, at another address.

Joe Fairless: Okay. Where is that located?

Jerome Myers: In Greensboro, NC.

Joe Fairless: That one’s in Greensboro… How did you come across the 23-unit, by the way?

Jerome Myers: It was on market. The funny story with that is I tried to buy the deal by myself in January, and then I got connected with another group of folks who were interested in the same deal, and eventually we closed it in November of that year. It’s funny how things come full circle.

Joe Fairless: And why didn’t you buy it on your own?

Jerome Myers: I didn’t have the multifamily experience. When I went to the bank, they said “Yeah, this is nice, but what loan have you signed?”

Joe Fairless: The 28 units, that portfolio – how did you find that portfolio?

Jerome Myers: Direct mail.

Joe Fairless: Can you elaborate on your process for direct mail?

Jerome Myers: Yes, we created a letter, sent it out to 50-60 owners, we pulled the list from the city’s GIS/county’s GIS; we got the addresses of the businesses or the owners of the properties, sent out letters to them with our phone number on them, and we got a pretty high response rate. We looked at probably three or four deals out of that mailing, and we were able to close one.

Joe Fairless: What did you write in the letter?

Jerome Myers: We told them that we’re looking to buy properties in their market, we told them what type and size of properties we’re looking to buy, and we told them that we know that it’s not being actively marketed, but there are many reasons why people might sell. In this instance, the owner was ready to retire, so he was willing to divest with the property without going through a broker and all the other rigmarole that a lot of people do when they’re trying to get top dollar for their property.

Joe Fairless: And what was the reason why he went with you all, versus going with a broker?

Jerome Myers: I think it was just ease of sale. He was very confident that we were gonna close from the beginning, and we built rapport; there was never a question in his mind on whether or not we were gonna close. I think he would have spent a whole lot more time marketing and maybe had to make some more investment if he wanted to take it to LoopNet, or CityFeet, CREXi or something like that, in order to get the dollars that he wanted out of the property, after paying the broker.

Joe Fairless: If you wouldn’t mind, please walk us through the interactions that you had with him. Will you tell  us a little bit about how that conversation went on the first time you talked to him, when he was calling you, after he received the direct mail piece?

Jerome Myers: I put my phone number on the  bottom of the letters and told him to call me if they’re interested… And he did. I answered the phone; he asked if it was me, I confirmed it was, and then he began to tell me a little bit about his property. I asked how soon I could tour it, and then I think it was that day or the next day he and I met on the property. We did a brief tour around the outside. He had a vacant unit, so we went in one of the vacants. Then we discussed what he was looking for out of the property.

I went back to my model, made sure that the numbers worked, and then I submitted an LOI. We negotiated some of the terms of the LOI and then went under contract. From there, we closed it in 75 days.

Joe Fairless: When you were having that initial meeting with him at the property, you said that you talked to him about what he was looking to get for the property… How much was he looking for during that conversation?

Jerome Myers: I think he asked for 860k.

Joe Fairless: He asked for 860k. That’s a very specific amount. And what did you say at that point in time, while you were on-site?

Jerome Myers: I just told him we’d have to look at it, I’d have to look at what he actually collected in rent, because it’s very different what people collect versus what they show on the spreadsheet. I needed to go through and actually do an inspection of each unit to make sure that I understood the condition of the entire property, so that I could make a reasonable offer. But in concept, I thought he was in the right ballpark, so I thought it was okay in concept; he felt good about that, and we kept moving through the process.

Joe Fairless: And just so I’m clear, you mentioned that you needed to see every unit before you could make a counter-offer to him? Did I hear you correctly?

Jerome Myers: That is not what I meant to communicate.

Joe Fairless: Okay, maybe I misheard.

Jerome Myers: I just told him that in concept I thought his price was close to where we could be, but before I got to a final number, whatever the closing number is might not be what that LOI number is… But I just wanted to be transparent with him that we were gonna go through every unit and make sure that the property was in good shape, because we weren’t going to pay for things that were wrong with the property going in. We would ask for some type of credit. I just wanted him to understand that, just because if we agreed on 860k, or 850k, or 840k, whatever we agreed on on that day, that a month later, two months later, when we got down to the wire, if we found out there were issues with the property, that we were gonna be looking for some help from him on those issues.

Joe Fairless: What was the final purchase price?

Jerome Myers: The final purchase price was 840k, and then there was another 10k-15k in closing concessions.

Joe Fairless: Okay. The LOI terms that you initially sent to him, what was the price that you initially proposed to him?

Jerome Myers: I think I sent him 840k.

Joe Fairless: 840k, okay.

Jerome Myers: I’m pretty sure I sent him 840k, yeah. In fact, he brought it up towards the end, when I started asking for closing concessions. He’s like “I asked for 860k, you came in at 840k. You should take that money and apply it to whatever closing concessions.” I was like, “No, we found out new information, so we need to make an adjustment on the deal because of that.”

Joe Fairless: What LOI terms were negotiated during the process?

Jerome Myers: Just the closing date. I think we put in we were gonna close July 31st or so, and he wanted to close at the end of June, so that it’d be a clean break, basically. He’d have the first half of year, I’d have the second half. We kept the 07.31. and said “We’ll close earlier if we can”, and that was gonna be a function of them providing all the documents that we request, the appraisal going as planned, and the bank being ready to fund. And in fact, we closed on July 5th, if I’m not mistaken.

Joe Fairless: And what are some things from an execution standpoint, now that you’ve closed, that you’ve come across from a challenge standpoint?

Jerome Myers: I was probably gonna save this for the end, but make sure when you’re doing your inspection that the utilities are on in every unit. A lot of times the landlords will cut off utilities if the units are vacant, especially in the summertime, because they don’t have the risk of pipes bursting… So one of the units had a broken pipe in it. When we turned the water on when we started renovating it, we found that out after closing. It wasn’t a huge amount of money to get it fixed, but it was something that I should’ve known about.

I think the other thing that’s a big deal is appliances and understanding what condition the appliances are in, because they’re one of the bigger ticket items in the rehab budget. In the past I hadn’t paid attention to it, but as we’ve turned 11 of the 20 units at this property, that thousand dollars for a refrigerator [unintelligible [00:15:57].12] just keeps popping up, and at times it gets frustrating, because I feel like if people were living there, then the appliances were functioning properly, and then all of a sudden, when we get in there and we’re making it ready for the next person, they’re not actually functioning the way that you would expect them to.

Joe Fairless: You had a 23-unit, then a 28-unit portfolio… What was the next one?

Jerome Myers: A 26-unit in Greensboro.

Joe Fairless: And was that direct mail?

Jerome Myers: That was back on LoopNet, believe it or not.

Joe Fairless: Wow. You’ve got a smorgasbord of ways you find deals. One is through a fully-marketed deal, another is through direct mail, and then the third is LoopNet.

Jerome Myers: Yup.

Joe Fairless: So you reached out to the owners directly via LoopNet, or were they represented by a broker?

Jerome Myers: They were represented by a broker, and by far this guy has been the best broker that I’ve worked with thus far in real estate. He’s responsive, he wants things to be done fairly, and he doesn’t mess around with a bunch of nonsense. He just wants to get the deal closed, and make sure that everybody is playing fair ball… So I really enjoyed working with him.

Joe Fairless: What was the purchase price for the 26-unit?

Jerome Myers: 1,375.

Joe Fairless: $1,375?

Jerome Myers: No…

Joe Fairless: [laughs]

Jerome Myers: $1,375,000. [laughter]

Joe Fairless: Ohh… I dared to dream. Okay… And what’s the business plan for this one?

Jerome Myers: This one is something different than what we’ve done. It’s near UNC Greensboro, and they were leasing this property as student housing, even though about 50% of the residents weren’t students. So they were charging basically $420/bedroom, and some of the units, at least 4 of the 26 units  only had one person in a bedroom… So you’re getting $420 for a unit that’s $820.

Our business plan is we’re converting from student housing to workforce housing. Also, in that shift, we’re gonna give the utilities back to the residents, and that should drop about $40,000 to $55,000 to the bottom line.

Joe Fairless: How active are you with the 26 units business plan?

Jerome Myers: I’m the asset manager, so I’m on point for everything. We’ve laid the plan out with the property manager. We’re gonna consolidate those four units into two, where only half the unit is leased. We’re gonna put those two units online, and then as leases expire, we’re gonna get folks to migrate to the new leasing program, but if they wanna transition, then that’s okay, too.

The thing that we’re concerned about, or our big risk point in this business plan is in July we have 18 of the 26 leases expiring, so we’ve gotta make sure that our cash coffers are ready to take on the mortgage for a month or two if we have to.

Joe Fairless: Based on your experience, what’s your best real estate investing advice ever?

Jerome Myers: Trust your numbers. If you know how to model and you know what rents are, don’t chase a deal just because you’re close. I’ve watched people buy bad deals just because they wanted to say they had a deal, and then once you buy a deal and you’re too high in your cost basis, there’s no fixing that part of the deal… So make sure you trust your numbers when you’re going into a deal.

Joe Fairless: We’re gonna do a lightning round. Are you ready for the Best Ever Lightning Round?

Jerome Myers: Yes. Alright, let’s do it. First, a quick word from our Best Ever partners.

Break: [00:19:42].05] to [00:20:41].29]

Joe Fairless: Best ever book you’ve recently read?

Jerome Myers: Millionaire Success Habits by Dean Graziosi.

Joe Fairless: Best ever deal you’ve done?

Jerome Myers: The 26-unit is the best deal we’ve done. We’ve purchased that for $1,375,000, the appraisal came back at $1,750,000.

Joe Fairless: That’s a nice appraisal. I did the 23 units, 28 units and 26 units – does that equal 75, or am I missing another deal?

Jerome Myers: I think it’s a little over 75. I just used round numbers.

Joe Fairless: Alright, cool. What’s a mistake you’ve made on a transaction?

Jerome Myers: I’ve talked about it a little bit before, but it’s not making sure that the utilities are on when you go into a unit. It came up in multiple places. I talked about the busted pipe, but at another property utilities weren’t on, and we weren’t able to check A/C units… So I found out the hard way that the A/C units weren’t working properly. In one instance we replaced two whole systems.

Joe Fairless: Best ever way you like to give back?

Jerome Myers: My family has a full scholarship in North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, for engineers. We wanna continue to grow that. And then the other way is through our podcast. I feel like we help a lot of people with that.

Joe Fairless: How can the Best Ever listeners learn more about what you’ve got going on?

Jerome Myers: They could check out our website – it’s d3v3loping.com. They can reach out through the Contact Us form there.

Joe Fairless: Jerome, thank you for being on the show and talking to us about the deals that you’ve done. I love talking about deals and I love getting into the specifics, so thank you for getting into the specifics of the deals and the business plan, and how you found the deals, that’s really interesting. Best Ever listeners, if you wanna find a 28-unit portfolio, put together a direct mail campaign. You got, as you said, 3-4 responses by mailing out to 50-60 owners, and ended up closing on a transaction.

Thank you so much for being on the show, Jerome, talking us through what you’ve done so far. I hope you have a best ever day, and we’ll talk  to you soon.

Jerome Myers: You too. Thanks, Joe.

JF1587: Finding More Deals Than You Can Handle & Scaling Your SFR Portfolio #SkillSetSunday with Greg Rand

Today we welcome back Greg Rand who has told us about investment markets before on the show (link to that episode is below). Now he is the CEO of a platform that has an abundance of deals for single family investors. At the time of recording, they had $200 million in assets for sale on their website. Hear how they find all these deals and take notes to use for you own deal searching, or buy something from their site. If you enjoyed today’s episode remember to subscribe in iTunes and leave us a review!


Best Ever Tweet:


Greg Rand Real Estate Background:


Get more real estate investing tips every week by subscribing for our newsletter at BestEverNewsLetter.com

Sponsored by Stessa – The simple way to track rental property performance. Get dashboard reporting, smarter income and expense tracking and tax-ready financials. Get your free account at stessa.com/bestever



 Joe Fairless:  Hello, Best Ever listeners. Welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. As you can hear, this is not Joe, this is Theo. Joe is taking a break, because he just had a baby, so congrats to him. Today I will be speaking with Greg Rand. Greg, how are you doing today?

Greg Rand:  I’m doing great, Theo. How are you?

 Joe Fairless:  I’m doing amazing, and thanks for joining us. Today is Sunday, which means it’s Skillset Sunday, so we’ll be discussing a specific skill with Greg, that you can apply to your real estate business. Before that, a little background on Greg. He is the CEO of OwnAmerica, which a single-family resident investment company with 21 billion (with a B) in total assets on the platform; they have 200 million dollars in assets for sale, as well as 490 million dollars in total assets sold. He is currently based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and you can say hi to him at ownamerica.com.

Greg is a repeat guest. He was actually one of the first 300 people to be interviewed on the podcast, so make sure you check out his first interview, which is episode 300, “Why every market you invest in is essentially the same.”

Before we dive into the very specific skill, Greg, do you mind giving us a little bit of an update on what you’ve been up to since we last had you on the show?

Greg Rand:  Sure. Thanks for having me on again. Yeah, so that was three years ago, the episode that I joined you on… A lot has changed. We recognized right around that time that there was a segment of the real estate economy in this country that was unrepresented, and that was the single-family home that was already occupied by a tenant. So the realtors of our country and their MLS and the Board of Realtors, all the way to Zillow and Trulia and Realtor.com presumed that a home is going to be vacant when it sells. So the whole super-structure that sells houses presumes that an owner-occupant is gonna be the buyer of the house, and so those houses are vacant, and you can test that theory by going to any real estate broker, agent or major portal and try to search for occupied rental properties. In other words, don’t buy a vacant home and rent it out, but actually buy a rental home that’s already being occupied and rented, and has a performance history, which has a lot of advantages.

We realized  that that product was kind of an orphan, so we’ve built OwnAmerica.com to represent buyers and sellers of rental properties that are already rental properties. We focused initially on the institutional and professional investor, because that was the world we were in, those were the people that we had the relationships with; Wall Street came in about 6-7 years ago, and came in very strong into the single-family space for the first time… So we had the opportunity to build the data sets and the analysis techniques and the systems to help those companies analyze the whole country, figure out what pockets they wanted to invest in, find assets in those pockets, analyze them, size them up, acquire them, renovate them if it’s necessary, rent them out and then manage them. Doing that at scale was unprecedented, so we had the opportunity of being part of that innovation bonanza that took place back in 2011-2014…

But then we realized that only 2% of all the single-family rentals that exist in the country are owned by institutions; the vast majority are owned by entrepreneurs, or just everyday people that see single-family home rentals as the ideal way to secure at least part of their financial future… And there was no marketplace to buy and sell these occupied properties. So we built version one in 2016; it’s been a success, and it’s largely a testament to the fact that if you’re gonna buy rental homes, buying houses that are already rental homes is a really good way to go, because you’re cash-flowing from day one, and you’ve already got a track record, so financing rental homes that are already rental homes is easier than financing vacant ones, where the income is not proven.

And of course, if you wanna sell a home that’s already a rental property, it’s a really good idea to sell that home as an occupied rental, if you can, because then you cash-flow all the way through the closing. So the seller wins, because they have no vacancy issues, they don’t have to spend any money fixing the place up in order to sell it; the buyer wins because they can buy a property and they’re starting to make a profit on day one, and the tenant of course wins, because they’re being kicked out of a house they like at the end of their lease just because the seller wants to liquidate. So it’s kind of a win/win/win situation; we saw that back then, built a platform for it, and people like it so far.

 Joe Fairless:  Yeah, I totally agree with those benefits of the buying the single-family home that’s already occupied. Before we went live we were talking about a new development that you’re working on, but before we get into that, since it’s Skillset Sunday, let’s talk a little bit about how you find these deals. Obviously, you’ve got a ton of assets for sale… What types of systems and automations do you have in place to make sure that you always have a consistent pipeline of these single-family deals?

Greg Rand:  That’s a great question, thanks for asking it. I mentioned a moment ago that we learned how to sort of get our arms around big-scale data on housing valuations, rental valuations, analytics on yields, analytics on forecasting and projection and price appreciation… We learned all that stuff with the big REITs, as they master this asset class on the Wall Street scale. So we spun that around and created something that takes all that institutional expertise and makes it available for free to anybody who wants to use it.

So the way that we tracked people, number one, is that we give a bunch of cool stuff away. It’s the age of Google, right? You wanna get people to use it, give it away, and figure out a way to monetize them later. So we had something we called The Portfolio Visualizer. If anybody who is listening wanted to go to OwnAmerica.com, you can look at the way we present portfolios for sale, and there’s a version of that Portfolio Visualizer that you can have for free for your own portfolio, or for a fantasy portfolio you’re thinking about building. You basically can put any address in in the country, or upload a spreadsheet of addresses of a portfolio and get charts and graphs and maths and photos and projections and interactive calculators and all this really cool stuff about the market fundamentals, like population growth, employment trends and long-term price appreciation trends.

You  get all of that for free, and you tend to appreciate us for giving you all that cool, free stuff… And then some of you, around 9%, will wind up saying “Hey, I think I do wanna sell.” And about 15% will say “Hey, I think I wanna buy.” So by virtue of giving away the portfolio visualizer in a free account, we’ve been able to build just a level of appreciation out of the gate, that somebody says “Hey, these guys cared enough to spend the money to build this technology, they’re giving it to me”, and that little level of appreciation has a chance to turn into loyalty over time, by virtue of the people then being able to use it over time, and then become sellers of buyers… And we began targeting them.

We offered this out through traditional marketing means, but because we have a good handle on the data, we know who owns what investment property in America, and we’ve been creating accounts for them by the thousands.

Let’s say you own 17 rental properties in Orlando. We know that, because it’s public record, and we’ll go out and get our hands on that public record data, create that online investment account around your 17-unit portfolio, and then try to track you down and tell you about it. So we’ll send you mail, we’ll telemarket to you, we’ll try to find you digitally via social platforms to say “Hey, you’ve got 17 units in Orlando. We think it’s worth about 2.45 million. Go to this URL to check it out”, and that’s worked. People are like, “How do they know all this about me?”

We haven’t gotten the reaction, Theo, that I thought we might, from some people, like “Big Brother is watching me… How do you know this? How do you know I own these properties?” I think most folks know that it’s public record. We just go through the trouble of creating the account for them, and then try to track them down to show it to them. They smile, and then if they wanna take any kind of action to buy or sell, now we’ve got the beginnings of a relationship.

 Joe Fairless:  So you actually create an account for them in this portfolio visualizer? Is that what you’re saying?

Greg Rand:  That’s right. We create the account for free, with their properties in it, and basically they can just look at it. We use automated valuations, automated rental analysis… So if we think the rental is is $1,125 and it’s actually $1,200, they can change it, to see a more accurate depiction of their yield… And they do. We kind of give them a starting point. We make it so that 80% of the way there, their portfolio is now loaded in.

It’s almost like — imagine you go to Schwab, or Fidelity, or some other site that sells investments, and if it knew what stocks you owned, and you went there and you opened up a free account and you saw your stock portfolio staring you in the face, and you could track the value of it… It’s kind of like that, but it’s with real estate instead.

 Joe Fairless:  Let’s say for example I want to find all of the single-family portfolio owners in Tampa, Florida, because that’s where I live… How exactly are you going about doing that?

Greg Rand:  How do we find the owners in Tampa?

 Joe Fairless:  Yeah, how do you find not only the owners, but know that they have this many properties? Are you doing a search on the auditor sites? Do you have access to some paid software? How are you going about building this database?

Greg Rand:  It’s paid data. The national housing database was digitized back in ’90s and 2000s. It was done mainly by title insurance companies. I was around back then; they were literally going by municipality and digitizing whether it was index cards, or microfiche, or some of them even had it in a database. So they created that public record database, and of course, whenever you buy a property, the deed gets recorded, and there’s an indication of whether it’s owner-occupied or non-owner-occupied. We’re able to track the non-owner-occupied properties, and then we focus on people that own at least five.

If you have an entity – either it’s your name, or it’s Theo LLC, and you own 16 properties under that LLC, our data sifting allows us to identify you, your entity, your address, the addresses that you own, and then we add to that what they’re probably worth, what they probably rent for, what they probably cost to operate, and the population and market trends and so forth.

So we pull data, starting with who you are and what you own, which is in the public tax records, and then we append it with all this other data, to create the Portfolio Visualizer for you.

 Joe Fairless:  That makes sense. Going back to your giving away a bunch of free stuff to generate leads – obviously, the majority of people listening to this won’t have a very technical portfolio visualizer to give away, which can be very impressive… What types of tips do you have to someone who’s maybe just starting out and wants to apply this concept of giving  before you receive? What advice would you have for that person?

Greg Rand:  I have to think about that… If you’re starting out in real estate investing, the first place to start is to try to figure out what market you wanna invest in, and what your long-term goals are. I’ve never been that obsessed with the idea of finding a deal, and that makes me kind of unusual in this space. I approach investing in real estate as – you’re buying the market, you’re buying Tampa, or you’re buying some subset market of Tampa. That’s why we call the company OwnAmerica. We have this philosophy that you’re literally accumulating an ownership stake in the country. The country is in demand, the population is growing, so if you hone in on a place like Tampa, which is in demand and growing, and you find neighborhoods and school districts within Tampa, you’re gonna win no matter which house you buy. In fact, usually the risk that people take when they buy the house that’s discounted — I’ve seen a lot of people focus on what they wanna buy before they worry about where they wanna buy it… So they buy a house they’re getting a great deal on, but they’re buying a junker, and they’re taking renovation risk, and they may not be capable of doing an efficient renovation. They may be new at this, so they’re going with the riskier approach to investing.

I’ve seen professional investors make the mistake of choosing what to buy based upon getting a deal on and finding out later they wish they hadn’t had bought that, because they bought something in the wrong place. So my advice would be not so much using our methodology of using public record data to attract leads to them for buying property, but use the data that us and other people are now willing to give you to identify the markets that you think have the best lift-off in the future, based upon your own intuition of the trends of people – where are people going, why are they going there, are they staying, are jobs going there, what are those macroeconomic trends that are gonna give an entire market lift in terms of property value and rental demand?

And then honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a great deal on a property in terms of the price. I get great deals on buying properties in places that I have intuition are gonna rise in value and be in more demand rent-wise, more than the other markets around them. I’ve got a sixth sense by having spent so much time looking at this data over time, that my approach has been proven at least to me and my clients to be spot on… And I’m not forecasting the future. I’m just watching what people are doing right now, and if businesses are moving in and people are moving in and they’re staying, and the data reflects that, and then the human intelligence on the ground, people that you actually talk to kind of validate and reinforce that, that’s what we call a winner. That’s a  buy. And then you can just go buy a nice house in a good school district in that area and you’re going to win because you picked a winning market and just got a standard property in that winning market.

 Joe Fairless:  Okay, so let’s talk about the market for a second then… And I guess this is multiple questions in one – let’s say you are going to enter a new market; I know you mentioned a ton of different metrics and factors that you look at, but what would you say would be the top three macro factors you would look at?

Then my secondary question is, do you look at these factors just for the MSA or the city level, or would you then after analyzing these three factors for the entire MSA or city hone in on a specific neighborhood and submarket, and do the same thing? Or do you analyze the MSAs and the neighborhoods differently?

Greg Rand:  We do it slightly differently. The data that we have — to your first question, the three things that we look at, in this order… Number one is the long-term price appreciation performance of the market; and there it’s helpful to go at the MSA level, or at least the county level. The reason is that when you get too close to the ground you could see some wild swings in median price growth, because if one really cheap house or one really expensive house sells you get this weird blip on the chart and you lose the trending on it.

We use 20-year price appreciation data. You can actually see a place like Tampa during the late ’90s, into the wild times of the early 2000’s where it went up like a rollercoaster on the way up, then it crested in 2005-2006, and then it came down… But what you can see is when it came down it kind of made its way back down to where it probably would have been had there never been a rollercoaster ride in the first place. That gives you a sense of equilibrium that the market is very healthy; it deviated from a trendline on the high side, it came back down to the trendline on the low side, and then made its way back to the gradual upward trajectory, which tells us “Okay, the market remedied itself”, and I can get a sense of how Tampa performed during a stress test.

When you have a heart murmur, they put you on the treadmill; they wanna see how your cardiovascular system handles the stress. Well, I can see over a 20-year period how a market handled the stress test of the last 20 years, and it tells me a story that if I compare Tampa to, say, Oklahoma City or Cincinnati, I can see and draw different conclusions based upon the way the peaks and the troughs actually play out. But it also then gives me a 20-year average. We focus on that average, and here’s why.

In most places in the country, if you combine the 20-year price appreciation average – for the country it’s 3.4%. Let’s say in Tampa you’re gonna get 4.6%. Okay, so now you’re beating the country; that’s a good thing. But when you add the price appreciation to the yield – and most of your listeners probably know that yield is what your cap rate is, what your percentage of profit in a given year is, compared to how much money you have sunk into the property. Most places around the country are ranging between on the low side a 4% yield, and on the high side an 8% yield. That’s all-in, every expense counted, even a maintenance reserve, a very conservative and responsible expense load will give you somewhere between 4% and 8%. When you add the yield on a property with the long-term price appreciation that market has performed at, you usually end up at about a 9%… Meaning Tampa is gonna be today a 5.75% yield and a 3.75% or 4% price appreciation average – it puts you in the 9% range. Between 8% and 10%.

You go to Charlotte, North Carolina, you’re gonna get a 5% and a 4%. Same thing with Dallas. You go to Raleigh or Austin, you’re gonna get a 4% and a 5%. 4% yield, prices have gone up kind of high, but at the same time the prices have gone up kind of high, so you get a higher appreciation rate.

Think of the United States single-family homes are around a 9% ROI, yield plus appreciation. So when you find a 10%, you found a winner. When you find an 11%, like Charleston, South Carolina – it’s north of 10%. The combination of yield and price appreciation puts you into the double digits even before you put any leverage on, you put a mortgage on, or anything like that.

So that’s what we do, we take a look at that combination of things – the cashflow yield, plus the appreciation, and try to find a place that is already performing, above a 9%, or even above a 10%, and then I wanna try to understand why, so I’m gonna look at the job growth. The job growth is a great harbinger of population growth. Companies come in, they plan on being there for 25 years or more. They don’t do that stuff frivolously; they’re gonna go in based upon cost of living, quality of live, advantageous tax situation, a pro-business environment… When they do that, people come for a lot of the same reasons, but with an additional reason they come for the jobs that are going there… And if you can get a feel for how the property and the market perform as a baseline right now and you get a 10%, and then you get a sense of “Are the reasons why the market has done so well likely to continue? Are they still in favor, are they gonna continue?” and you focus on population and job growth and all the things that go into that, that’s going to give you a really comfortable place for a 25-year hold, which is what we’re all focused on here. None of what we do is about flipping; it’s all about owning America, building your own little real estate empire, however big you want that to be – 3 properties, 300 properties, whatever.

Those are the techniques that we use with big Wall Street funds, and now we’re teaching it and providing the tools for everybody else to use it.

 Joe Fairless:  That’s great information. Last thing before we wrap up is something that — I guess me personally, and I’m sure others might have this same thought, but I accumulate a massive portfolio of single-family homes, and I own them for 25 years let’s say, and I get ready to sell… Will I be selling them one by one, or will I be able to sell them as an entire portfolio?

Greg Rand:  That’s a great question, because that has changed a lot since we spoke last. It used to be — and today, if you call up ten real estate companies in town and say “I have 25 houses I wanna sell”, after they get done celebrating, you tell them “Oh, by the way, they’re all occupied by tenants”, they’ll probably tell you, 9 out of 10, if not 10 out of 10, will tell you the way to sell those houses is to wait till the leases are up, boot the tenants and then fix them up and sell them on the MLS.

What’s changed about that is that we’ve been able to demonstrate – not just us, the industry has been able to demonstrate that occupied rental properties are a thing; there are 16 or 17 million – depending on whose data you look at – existing rental properties in America… Just to put some context around that, that’s 12% of the population. So there are more people living in single-family rental homes than drive SUVs. So it is a big market segment, much bigger than most people thought.

Now that Wall Street has gotten involved, there is a massive, decades-long consolidation underway, where right now only 2% of all the single-family rentals are owned by big Wall Street firms. But 55% of all the apartment buildings in America are owned by big Wall Street firms. It didn’t use to be that way in multifamily either. I know it’s hard with numbers sometimes over the podcast, but there’s around 3,5 trillion dollars worth of apartment buildings in this country. There’s around 3,1 trillion single-family rentals. So they’re both 3 trillion dollar asset classes. More than half of multifamily is institution-owned, only 2% of single-family. The reason for multifamily’s consolidation is there was a big commercial real estate distressed situation that went on back in the late ’80s into the early ’90s. That distressed real estate situation caused a lot of capital to come in, to buy up all this distressed real estate; Wall Street bought a lot of real estate, liked what it saw, continued to acquire… And then you blink your eyes, two decades go by, and now more than half of all the apartment buildings are owned by big pension funds, insurance companies and other institutional sources of capital.

We see all the indicators that the same kind of thing is happening now. The housing crisis was distressed real estate, Wall Street came in to buy up distressed property, liked what it found, learned how to operate it at a very, very high margin, and now all the major companies that owned thousands and thousands of single-family homes are freshly capitalized, but have billions (with a B) more capital into the space now. They’re all doubling and redoubling their holdings, and I don’t see it changing.

What that means is that if you have three properties and eventually you have 50, there’s going to be an exit for you when the time comes where you don’t have to disassemble and destabilize your 50-unit portfolio; you can actually package it up and then roll it up to a larger player intact.

 Joe Fairless:  That’s good to know. I was actually attempting to wholesale a single-family portfolio, and I wish I would have known what you’ve just explained now. Greg, I really appreciate you coming on for our Skillset Sunday. In fact, it was more of a skillsets Sunday, as you provided a lot of skills. You’ve talked about how you find deals, which one way is to give away things for free, in the hopes that they will appreciate that free giveaway and will use you to sell their property or allow you to buy their property.

You also talked about how you would use the digitalized public record information from the title companies and you would find non-owner-occupied properties that had the owners owning at least five properties, and then you would add other datasets to that, to reach out to those owners to buy their properties.

We also talked about the metrics that you use to analyze markets, you talked about the long-term appreciation trends for 20 years, and using that as a stretch test, as well as a comparison tool to other markets. You talked about the yield, and combining the yield and the appreciation together, to determine what’s a good market to invest in… And also you wanna look at the job growth, because it’s a great indicator of population growth, because massive companies aren’t gonna move to a bad market, because they plan on being there for a while. And you talked about how it’s important to understand why those trends are happening, and if they will continue. And then lastly, we talked about the new trend of the ability for these single-family portfolio owners to sell their portfolios to institutions, rather than having to sell them off one by one.

Lots of information. I could definitely keep talking to you, but you’ve gotta go. It was great having you on the show. Have a best ever day, and we’ll talk to you guys tomorrow.

Greg Rand:  Thanks very much.

JF1377: 3 Ways To Rapidly Grow Your Real Estate Business #SkillSetSunday with Matthew Pollard

Matthew has helped countless companies go from struggling to thriving. Today he tells us different methods and strategies for growing any business. Of course for our show, we’re focused on real estate investing businesses mostly. If you enjoyed today’s episode remember to subscribe in iTunes and leave us a review!


Best Ever Tweet:


Matthew Pollard Real Estate Background:

  • Founder and Executive Director of Small Business Festival, ranked the #3 business conference by Inc.
  • His methods have transformed more than 3500 struggling businesses into profitable successes
  • Author of The Introvert’s Edge
  • Known as “The Rapid Growth Guy,” dedicated to helping small business owners
  • Featured in Fortune, INC., Entrepreneur, and CEO Magazine, and is a regular TV, radio, and podcast guest
  • Based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Say hi to him at https://matthewpollard.com/

Get more real estate investing tips every week by subscribing for our newsletter at BestEverNewsLetter.com

Made Possible Because of Our Best Ever Sponsor:

List and manage your property all from one platform with Rentler. Once listed you can: accept applications, screen tenants, accept payments and receive maintenance tickets all in one place – and all free for landlords. Go to tryrentler.com/bestever to get started today!


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.

With us today, Matthew Pollard. How are you doing, Matthew?

Matthew Pollard: I’m doing great, mate. Thank you for having me on. The longest-running podcast, congratulations!

Joe Fairless: Yeah, I appreciate that. Over 1,300 episodes, every single day for the last 1,300+ days. A little bit about Matthew – he is known as someone who can create rapid growth for your business. He has done the same thing for his businesses. He’s responsible for five multi-million-dollar businesses. He’s also the author of The Introvert’s Edge, which can be found on Audible, as well as Amazon… And he’s gonna be talking to us about three ways to rapidly grow our businesses.

As real estate investors, we are certainly entrepreneurs who are looking to grow our businesses. And because we are having our conversation on a Sunday, this is a special segment of the show, Skillset Sunday. The skill that you’re gonna come away with from our conversation is how to rapidly grow our entrepreneurial businesses, which happen to be in real estate. Matthew, what’s the best approach for our conversation?

Matthew Pollard: Yeah, sure. In regards to starting this conversation, I think the best way to look at this is really two-fold. People that are in investment in real estate – there are two ways that we generally monetize that, right? If we’re just getting started, having our own business is the best way to create the revenue that we need or the capital that we need to create a real estate portfolio. Then we need to be able to market our real estate portfolio. So I think we can really take it in two different angles at the same time, which is regardless of which business we’re in, how do we rapidly grow our business? What I always look at is most business owners generally have really strong functional skills, but what they generally lack is having that strong differentiated message that separates them from everyone else, an understanding of who their niche is, who their ideal customer is – that guy/girl that’s going to rally to their cause, and then a sales system that actually works.

Joe Fairless: Yeah, it makes sense… So a unique value proposition, know who your customer is, and then have a sales system that works.

Matthew Pollard: Exactly right.

Joe Fairless: Okay, I like it. So before we dive into each of these three, tell us a little bit more about your track record and what you’ve done, just to set the stage for your accomplishments, so that we can then learn a little bit more about who is talking to us about how to grow our business.

Matthew Pollard: Yeah, sure. I think the best way to do that is not just to talk about what I’ve achieved, but really where I’ve come from. A lot of people that see me speak – I’m speaking at Microsoft Inspire in July, I’m a featured speaker, 18,000 people in the audience that will be seeing me speak from the stage and they’re gonna go “That guy is an extrovert. That guy has just got that natural gift of the gift of the gab” It’s actually not true.

When I was in late high school I had a reading speed of a sixth grader, I was horribly introverted, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and I really took a job at a real estate agency to be in the back-office of that agency for about a year… So not to be the person out selling, but the guy in the back doing the data entry, trying to find myself for a year.

School – I got in the top 20% of my state, but it was really difficult. It took every bit of energy I had to succeed, and I just wanted that year off to really figure out what I was wanting to do. About three weeks into that job, my boss comes up to me and says “I’ve got some really bad news. Our company is being shut down and you’re out of a job.” This was three weeks that I’d been working there, and it was just before Christmas, and unlike the United States who go on Christmas, and they have Thanksgiving, and it’s winter time, it’s our Christmas and our summer break at the same time. People go on holidays from the 20th of December to the 15th or 20th of January.

So the only job I could really get at the time – because no one’s hiring at that time – was commission-only sales. I don’t care — my manager used to say “We throw mud off against the wall and we see what sticks.” That sounds great, until you realize you’re the mud, right?

Joe Fairless: Right.

Matthew Pollard: So my manager put me into training, and five days of product training I got, and not a single second of sales training, and I got thrown on this road which is really over 1,000 retail stores on both sides. I got told to go and sell.

I went to walk into the first door, and I had that realization that no one really taught me how to sell. So I took a deep breath, I walked in, and I was politely told to leave, and very shortly after that, I was less politely told to get a real job, and then I was sworn at.

93 doors of that it took me to get my first sale. I remember I was ecstatic, really. I made my first sale, I made about $70, and I was ecstatic for about 45 seconds really, until I had that realization “I’m gonna do this again tomorrow, the next day, and every day for the rest of the year.” That just really wasn’t okay. I needed to find another way, but I had a reading speed of a sixth grader, so I couldn’t exactly pick up a Brian Tracy or Zig Ziglar book.

So what I did gravitate to was — YouTube was just becoming popular at that time, and it might surprise people to know that there’s more there than just cat videos, right? So I learned the steps of the sale, I learned the system of the sale, and every day I went out and practiced that. And I went from 93 doors, to 72, to 48, to 12, to 3 within the space of about six weeks.

My manager called me in and he actually said “I’m actually blown away by this… I just got our monthly report and you’re the number one salesperson in the company”, which just happened to be the largest sales and marketing company in the Southern hemisphere; thousands of salespeople. It took about six weeks…

Fast-forward a few more years – I was promoted seven times, I went into business for myself about a year later. Three years later we were the number one brokership for business-to-business cell phones in the country. It turned over 4.2 million dollars in year three, and fast-forward a few more years, I’ve been responsible for five multi-million-dollar success stories before my 30th birthday.

Then I went to the United States, wrote the Introvert’s Edge, and I’ve been helping business owners ever since.

Joe Fairless: So the five multi-million-dollar businesses – are those five that you’ve founded, or are those five that you consulted on?

Matthew Pollard: Ones that I’ve founded. The first one was in telecommunications. Most people, I think, when they leave or go into business for themselves, they generally gravitate to the thing they’ve always known, and telecommunications was what I’ve always known, so that’s what I’ve gravitated to.

From there I moved into electricity, and then I actually moved into coaching, and then into education, and then my commercial real estate has always been one of the other ones that I’ve really been able to be involved with.

Joe Fairless: Got it. And each of those five had revenue of over a million dollars?

Matthew Pollard: Correct.

Joe Fairless: With each of those five, do you currently own each of them still?

Matthew Pollard: No. I predominantly only focus now on commercial real estate and also my education business.

Joe Fairless: Okay. With the telecommunication and the electricity businesses – what happened to those two?

Matthew Pollard: With the education business we were following a government funding trend, so when the funding ran out, we slowly wound that down. In telecommunications we did pretty much the same thing.

Joe Fairless: Got it. So you rode the wave until the wave was no more, and then you said “We’ll move on to something else.”

Matthew Pollard: One of the things I specialize in is finding great ways to monetize specific markets for the right period of time.

Joe Fairless: What are some things you look for in order to do that? I know this is a general question, so if you wanna use one of these examples, feel free to do so.

Matthew Pollard: One of the things that I look for is an unmet need, or a currently unserviced niche in the marketplace, in a highly established, almost saturated market. What I mean by that is that when you’re talking about a marketplace like telecommunications, one would assume that the market was pretty saturated; we were a market of 22 million people, and the marketplace was crazily saturated, except it was a whole market of small business owners where the market was just being moved off-shore for customer service, and these people were screaming out for additional support.

It’s great to save money on your telecommunications, but if something goes wrong on your phone and there’s no one there to support you, that’s horrific, right? You’re losing more money than you’ve saved. So what we did is we launched with an independent brokerage where you could really go with any company… But if you were focused on saving money but also wanted the service there, we would service you no matter which company you went with.

Education is another great example. When we were looking at the marketplace, there were really two marketplaces, right? There were groups of clients that were in the market to do post-graduate qualifications, that already had a degree, and those people were looking for more prestigious schools where they could leverage that qualification for a long period of time. Then you have the marketplace of people that were high school leavers, didn’t get the grades that they were looking for, and they needed to go and do a qualification somewhere else to get the grades that they needed to get into the schools that they really wanted to get into.

Both of those markets are highly competitive and really tough, but what we discovered was that there was this whole market of tradespeople, and tradespeople really had an interest in track record… So they left school generally at about the age of 16. Most people in real estate would know this, in commercial investing especially. These people generally leave school at the age of 16, they’re either highly entrepreneurial or they struggle with school, they go into an apprenticeship and they generally learn how to do what they do through sarcasm and aggression from their bosses, and then eventually they end up the best at what they can do.

They then look around and they’re like, “Well, everyone else here is making the same sort of money as I am. Why would I bother with this?” I may as well go into business for myself. So then they do, and they start to get some clients, then they hire staff, and the staff aren’t performing, and they’re not great at managing stuff because they learned through sarcasm and aggression, so they do the same thing for that group of people that they’ve hired. So now they’re not making money, their staff aren’t performing, their systems and processes are horrible, their customers are upset… They need help, but they couldn’t afford business coaching, which is the help they wanted… But they hated school. They have this view of “If you can’t do, you teach.”

So what they did is they were looking for an answer, and we launched business coaching at a price you can afford. What we did is we ran our classes like a mastermind. Business coaches ran the classes, and what we did find is at that time when we were researching the market, we were going through the global financial crisis and the government was incentivizing training. It wasn’t free training, but it was incentivized by the government, so what we did was we launched into that marketplace with business coaching at a price you can afford, and we targeted business owners that worked on a trade site – plumbers, electricians, tailors, that sort of thing. We took on 3,500 clients within the space of three years.

Joe Fairless: That’s a lot of people.

Matthew Pollard: It was a lot of people, it was  a very busy time.

Joe Fairless: And it WAS a very busy time – you’ve just said past tense; why isn’t it still a very busy time?

Matthew Pollard: Well, we focused on the trade demographic during that government funding burst.

Joe Fairless: Okay.

Matthew Pollard: One of the things that’s important with business is to always be looking at the marketplace and how it’s transforming, and as the market gets saturated, there are two ways to do it. One is you look for blue oceans in the current marketplace, with the current product and service you have, or you look for blue oceans in the marketplace for other products and services that are emerging. That’s always been what I do.

So for me it’s “How do I apply my sales and marketing skillset to different markets over time?” That is now one of the things that I specialize in. I consult and speak all over the world on how to create a unified message that resonates with your true why. Because one of the things that I’ve learned over time is I can create rapid growth out of anything, but there’s nothing worse than a rapid growth company with customers you can’t stand or a business you don’t like working within.

Joe Fairless: Right.

Matthew Pollard: What I now do is — in the past, I looked at marketing the way a lot of people look at marketing, and it’s finding a need in the marketplace, create a message for that market, then create the sales system… Bang! You’ve got a rapid growth business. The problem with that is then you may be in a niche market you don’t enjoy, so what I structure my branding around and what I do now is it’s really about discovering what you’re passionate about, what your purpose is, and then looking for the unmet need in the marketplace in the global economy, that way you can drive your ideal clients to you, and then you create a sales system around that.

What that means is that you end up owning a business that’s completely aligned with what you’re passionate about and what your purpose in life is, which means that’s the business you wanna be in forever. And as long as there’s unmet needs in the marketplace, which there always is, and this was one of the big shifts for me – in the past, I was an offline salesperson… Direct sales, telemarketing, that sort of thing. When I moved to the United States I went online and I had to become a student of it. I mean, I didn’t even know how to change the word “the” to the word “they” on a website.

Nine months later, I was an international award-winning blogger, and [unintelligible [00:14:06].16] was one of the most retweeted business coaches on Twitter. So I learned the potential of the online marketplace, and what I realized is that so many people in business trade in what they’re passionate about for what’s practical, or a marketplace, this shiny object that they can see. And that’s what I did for a lot of my life. I was always looking for that shiny object that I could make money out of for the short term, and what I realized is you can make a lot more money and be in love with what you do for the long-term if you focus on what you’re passionate about, get your branding right and look at the unmet needs in the global marketplace to monetize it that way.

Joe Fairless: Beautiful. I completely agree. There’s so much opportunity out there, and everyone’s world-class at something, whether they recognize that or not. The key is to identify where those skills can be applied, to then build the business and have long-term sustainable success, right?

Matthew Pollard: Well, this is what I’ve found. My first business – I’ve created that because I wanted to prove everyone else wrong. [unintelligible [00:15:05].04] a horrible acne, and all of a sudden I started to do good, and then I kept getting promoted, but because I was in sales, every time I got promoted I actually took a pay cut until I started to make money off all those people that were underneath me, and then they’d promote me again.

So I went to my manager and said, “Look, I used to make a ridiculous income just selling. Now I’ve got all these responsibilities, and I keep taking a pay cut for [unintelligible [00:15:26].13] You’re gonna have to give me a base.” My manager said “Matt, at your age this salary is huge. This is the best you’re ever going to do.” That upset me, and I went on the march to prove him wrong.

Three years later, the business turned over 4.2 million dollars, but I was miserable. I [unintelligible [00:15:47].08] and I was like “If this is as good as it gets, I don’t want this life”, so I looked for a different way to monetize, and I continued down that journey… And here was my realization – people inherit their goals from their mother, their father, their drunk roommate they had in college. They hear these guys and go “Yes, that’s what I wanna charge towards!” and they either struggle to master that energy to excel at that, or they get there and they’re like “Wow, this wasn’t as good as I thought it was”, and then become disengaged.

What I realized is that’s why people tend to jump from shiny object to shiny object, and I was exactly like that. Then what I realized is that if I can focus on what I’m passionate about, what my why’s were — and to be honest with you, I had to really think about that… Because for the longest time I did trade that in for practicality or the shiny object. And as soon as I realized what I was passionate about doing, which was looking at somebody’s business, coming back to looking at what they were passionate about, creating a message around that, discovering an unmet need in the marketplace where they could create exponential growth and then create the sales system, and then I made the decision to focus purely on that – well, since then, my business has just absolutely exploded. I now get to help everybody do what I absolutely love, where in the past I’d get to about 12 months in and I was bored, because my talents weren’t being utilized anymore.

Joe Fairless: So practically speaking now, kind of bringing this all full circle, the three ways to rapid growth – it sounds like there’s three, but then there’s an underlying foundation that needs to be established, and that’s identifying what you’re passionate about (the Why), and then its unique value prop, knowing the customer, and then the sales process. Is that accurate?

Matthew Pollard: Yeah, definitely. If you wanna frame this right – and I think we’ve got a few minutes left, so I can elucidate with an actual real case study, if that’s helpful for you.

Joe Fairless: Yeah.

Matthew Pollard: I had a client out in California – her name was Wendy, she was a language coach; she taught kids and adults Mandarin. She comes to me and she’s like “Matt, I’m really struggling. I used to make $50-$80/hour to teach Mandarin. Now there’s all these people moving into the city and they’re willing to charge $30-$40/hour to get their first client, doing exactly what I do.” Not only that, she had to deal with people advertising from China on Craigslist at $12/hour, and then she had to deal with – thanks to our friends in Silicon Valley – people saying “Oh, I’ll teach you Chinese, you teach me English” and there’s now platforms where they just exchange time.

So she was losing her current clients, she was struggling to get new clients, and she said “Matt, can you teach me how to sell better, to be able to get rapid growth?” I said, “Wendy, what I want you to do is I want you to avoid the battle altogether.”

What we did is we looked at all the clients she worked with, and there were two people specifically – these were executives being relocated across to China, and she helped them understand these three things. The first one was this concept called Galaxy; now, I know that to us it means out of space, but over there, it’s their version of rapport. If I was gonna sit down and try and sell you something, I would sit down and have one meeting with you in the Western world, maybe 30-45 minutes later if I was a bad salesperson I’d say “Do you wanna move forward?” and you would say “Yes”, “No” or everyone’s favorite, “Let me think about it.” If I called you back next week and you said “Yes, I totally wanna go forward”, great. If you still said you wanted to think about it, I know my chances of getting that sale are going down and down. Well, in China they’re gonna wanna meet with you five or six times, they’re probably gonna wanna see you drunk over karaoke once or twice. That’s just the kind of character they are, because they’re not talking transactional 12 or 24-month deals, they’re talking about 50-100 year contracts. It’s longer than a lot of people’s lifetimes, so as a result they wanna know the kind of person they’re getting into bed with.

The second thing she helped them understand is the difference between e-commerce in China and e-commerce in the Western world. And the third thing she helped them understand was the importance of respect. It’s like, when somebody hands you a business card here, we just grab it, throw it in our pocket and continue the conversation.

I just spoke at Electrolux – 150 vice-presidents, all commanding over 1,000-2,000 staff, and when they get my card, they hold it, they cherish it, they look at all the detail on the front, they look at all the detail on the back, pull out a card case, slot it in, then bow and continue the conversation. Anything less than that is considered disrespectful and you’re not going to be doing business with them.

I said, “Wendy, you’re doing so much more for these people than just private language tuition. What are you doing?” She’s like “I’m just trying to help”, and I said “Wendy, you’re stuck in your functional skill. Is it fair to assume as a result of this assistance these people are going to be more successful in China?” She’s like, “Yeah, that’s the point”, and I said “Great, so why don’t we call you The China Success Coach?” Instead of focusing on teaching Mandarin, because there’s a price tag battle to the bottom, why don’t we create The China Success Intensive, which became a five-week program that worked with the executive, the spouse, and any children to be relocated across to China.

She said, “Well, that sounds great, but who would I sell it to?” I said, “Well, who do you think your ideal customer would be?” She said, “Well, obviously, the executives.” I said, “Well, yeah, the executives are terrified.” I mean, I moved from Australia to America and I was terrified, and people here speak the same language… But no, not your ideal customer.

She said, “Well, then obviously the organization would pay.” I said, “Yeah, well they’ve got tens, hundreds, if not millions of dollars riding on the fact that these executives are successful, but still not your ideal customer.” She said, “Well, who then?” I said, “Your ideal client to me would be the immigration attorney.” Think about it – if anybody that needs to go to China needs a visa… These people that do these visas charge between 5k-7k, but after all the paperwork, all the bureaucracy, cost of acquisition, they’d be lucky to make about $3,000. So offer them $3,000 for any successful introduction.

She reached out to them and they were ecstatic with this. That was almost double their profit. They were like, “Well, what do I have to say?” She said “Simple. All you’ve gotta say is ‘Congratulations, you’ve now got your visa.’ Now, I just wanna double-check you’re as ready as possible to be relocated across to China.” And they’d say “We’ve got our visa organized, we’ve got our place sorted, we’ve learned the language, the kids are getting pretty good at it, too… I think we’re set”, and they’d just respond with “There’s a lot more to it than that. I think you need to speak to the China Success coach.”

Wendy would then get on the phone with this easy sale, because they were terrified, the company was financially motivated to make sure they were successful, and Wendy got to charge $30,000 for this private intensive program, instead of struggling every day to make $50-$80/hour. That’s the power of a rapid growth system.

See, if Wendy [unintelligible [00:22:03].07] she would have already lost, but looking at the skillset she had above and beyond her functional skill, these were the things that she was passionate about. By doing that and saying “Well, I hope [unintelligible [00:22:12].19] respect” and then asking themselves “What’s the high-level benefit of that?”, which was China success, that’s what created rapid growth.

For me, I’m a branding expert, I’m a social media strategist, I’m a sales systematization specialist, I’m a master in NLP, I’m a business coach — I’m too many things; nobody cares. But when I say “I’m the rapid growth guy. I help organizations large and small obtain rapid growth”, the simplicity of that message gets me heard in a crowded marketplace.

Joe Fairless: Great stuff, I love that example. It reminds me of the question “What business are you really in?” versus what you think you’re in. As that example illustrated, she was not in the business of teaching a language, but rather she was in the business of setting them up for success for their journey, and then the key there also was the immigration attorney, where you’ve got alignment of interests with the sales funnel, where you’ve got people sending you leads, who want to send you leads, and are a gatekeeper, or someone that has a high degree of influence on a lot of people who are in her target audience.

Matthew Pollard: You’re exactly right. What we’ve really looked at is “China Success” was the message, the niche was executives being relocated to China, and the sales system was using a joint venture with immigration attorneys. That’s what a lot of people don’t look at, and they always think “I’ve got this functional skill. Now I need to bend myself to the market.” Especially in service provider businesses, that makes you feel incongruent, inauthentic, and it’s why a lot of people suck at sales.

If you can tap into – and this is what I’ve learned – what you’re truly passionate about, you can have this avalanche of energy always, to share with your ideal clients, and that’s what gets you more market share than ever.

Just to track back to what you were talking about, about this one step that’s earlier than that… One of the things I did – and I did this at the National Freelance Conference recently – is I went through this five-step process to crafting a unified message and discovering your niche of willing-to-buy clients… And it really was — it’s a five-step process, and it’s not something that I sell, it’s something that I give away; people can get that at MatthewPollard.com/growth. For 45 minutes, we went through this worksheet, and at the end I said “Now, put your hands up if you now have a strong, unified message that separates you from everybody else, and you feel more comfortable sharing it with your client base, and a right understanding of who your ideal customer demographic is.” About 95% of the room put their hands up.

Now, what’s sad about this though is about 82%-83% of the room kept their hands up when I said “Now, keep your hands up if this is the most time you’ve ever spent on marketing”, which is terrible… I mean, that’s 45 minutes, right? Now, what I discovered though is the group of people that struggled with the people who couldn’t make the decision on step three – which specific demographic to choose – and what had happened is they’d been trading in what they were passionate about for what was practical so long they weren’t even connected to what they were passionate about anymore.

For the people that were in that part of the process, I’ve actually created a podcast called Better Business Coach Podcast, and one of the segments is — it’s episode 17, it’s called “Forget about goals. Why is the key to success.” It will help you reacquaint yourself with what your passion, what your why’s and what your drivers are. Then if you go to MatthewPollard.com/growth and do that worksheet, then you’ll be able to really congruently discover your niche of willing-to-buy clients and the message that’s going to resonate and excite them to wanna know more about you.

Joe Fairless: Matthew, thanks so much for being on the show. Thanks for talking about the three ways to rapid growth, the underlying foundations that’s required in order to be sustainable over a period of time, as well as case studied to go along with that example. I hope you have a best ever day, and we’ll talk to you soon.

Matthew Pollard: Cheers, mate.

JF1346: Mayonnaise Fights, Man Crushes, & Property Management with Michelle Ketchum

Michelle is the owner and broker of Acorn + Oak Property Management. Her and her team have over 1000 units under management, and still growing. They take a customer service approach to their company, and that really sets them apart from other companies. They even have tenants that wait for a unit to open up, just so they can rent from Acorn + Oak. Hear different tips and advice that you can use to set yourself apart from your competition. If you enjoyed today’s episode remember to subscribe in iTunes and leave us a review!


Best Ever Tweet:


Michelle Ketchum Real Estate Background:

  • Owner/Broker in Charge of Acorn + Oak Property Management and managing partner of Acorn + Oak Triad.
  • Have been an active property manager and Realtor since 2009
  • Active in property managements throughout North Carolina and is leading Broker in the area
  • Based in Durham, North Carolina
  • Say hi to her at www.acorn-oak.com
  • Best Ever Book: The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss

Join us and our online investor community: BestEverCommunity.com

Made Possible Because of Our Best Ever Sponsor:

List and manage your property all from one platform with Rentler. Once listed you can: accept applications, screen tenants, accept payments and receive maintenance tickets all in one place – and all free for landlords. Go to tryrentler.com/bestever to get started today!


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. With us today, Michelle Ketchum. How are you doing, Michelle?

Michelle Ketchum: Hey, Joe. Doing well. How are you?

Joe Fairless: Good! I’m glad you’re doing well; I’m doing well as well. A little bit about Michelle – she is the owner and broker in charge of Acorn + Oak Property Management, and she’s been a managing partner of Acorn + Oak Triad. She has been an active property manager and Realtor since 2009, and her company does property management throughout North Carolina, and is also a leading brokerage in the area. Based in Durham, North Carolina, and you can say hi to Michelle at her website, which is in the show notes link.

With that being said, Michelle, do you wanna give the Best Ever listeners a little bit more about your background and your current focus?

Michelle Ketchum: Absolutely. Michelle Ketchum, owner of Acorn + Oak Property Management, down here in Durham, North Carolina. We’ve been in business since 2013, so we just celebrated our five-year anniversary here in the triangle…

Joe Fairless: Congrats!

Michelle Ketchum: Thank you! Really amazing growth since the beginning. We’re currently managing just over 1,000 properties in the triangle area, and just having a really good time doing it. We focus on mid to high-end rental properties; that’s anything from a single-family home, to townhomes, to — our largest client owns about 90 units in Durham… So everything in between, as well.

Joe Fairless: 90 units – is that an apartment community, or does that person have 90 single-family homes spread out?

Michelle Ketchum: It’s some small multifamily complexes, with like 14 units here, 20 units there… They’re kind of all in the same neighborhood, but just split up a little bit.

Joe Fairless: Got it. So in the case of the 20-unit, that would be a 20-unit apartment building, or 20 single-family homes around each other?

Michelle Ketchum: Well, this particular client – that would be a 20-unit apartment building, but we do have some folks that own 20-30 single-family homes. There’s a pretty good market down in this area for student housing, so we work with a lot of those landlords too, that are renting out big homes to UNC Chapel Hill students, and some Duke students, and things like that.

Joe Fairless: Okay. I’d love to dig into some of the intricacies of managing 20 units, versus student housing, versus single-families… But first, before we started recording you said you were doing some research on the show and you took issue to my no-fluff approach… Can you elaborate on that?

Michelle Ketchum: I did… I’ve been listening to quite a  few of your podcasts and I know that it’s your signature line to say “no fluff”, and I’m a pretty fluffy person; I mean, I’m not girly, but I do bring a hands-on, heart-led approach to property management, which I think has really been the key to this company’s success – the fact that we are compassionate, we try to do the right thing, not only for our clients that own the property, but for the tenants that are in place. We really want it to be a win/win/win, the third win being for us, the property managers.

But anyways, so I was a little nervous about not being maybe as hardcore as what you’re used to… But fluff isn’t always bad.

Joe Fairless: Fair enough, I agree to that – fluff isn’t always bad. From a compassionate standpoint, how does that come to fruition as a manager, that would be different from perhaps another company that’s managing properties?

Michelle Ketchum: When I started Acorn + Oak, one of the very first things I did was just research on other property management companies in the area; that’s a good place to start when you’re starting a new business – what’s the competition doing? What are they lacking? And what I felt time and time again were complaints actually both from the clients as the property managers, but also a lot of tenant complaints just that they weren’t being treated very fair. They were going weeks on end without any communication for different maintenance requests, they ordained a lot from security deposits just because… And I really took that to heart, and I would say almost everyone out there has been a renter, and a lot of us still are, and I just really wanted to bring this philosophy that everybody matters to my business.

So some things that we do are — for instance, a lot of times property managers will charge a non-refundable pet fee, and… We’re all dog owners at Acorn + Oak, so it’s really important to me to just kind of not do that anymore. You can collect an extra deposit, which will basically do the same thing as a fee would do – rectify any damage if there is any damage done by the pet… But just things like that, where we’re not nickel and diming tenants just because we can, and really just giving them nice places to live, treating them fairly, and just really making it an experience about them as the customer, and really thinking about them as the customer, and then the property as the product, and the property manager and the client as kind of the business owner. You always wanna make sure your customers are happy.

We just really led with that approach, and it has absolutely helped and made us one of the best companies in the area to rent from. We have tenants that specific land on our website and have heard great things about us, and they’re like “We’re renting from you. It just depends on when the right house comes up, but we are renting from your company.”

Joe Fairless: Wow.

Michelle Ketchum: So it really does matter.

Joe Fairless: Oh yeah, creating a property management brand is not something a lot of property management companies do to the extent where people are requesting to live at their properties. That’s not very typical. What are some other tactical things…? Because I’m gonna admit that when I heard you say “compassionate”, my first thought was “So her company will let it slide if a resident is late on the rent, and then that’s gonna hurt my bottom line.” Selfishly, that’s just what I immediately thought.

So one, can you address that? And then two, just some other tactical things that you all do that other management companies might not do.

Michelle Ketchum: Sure. Specifically for late rents – it’s our policy that if somebody is late for the very first time, we’ll waive their fee and reduce it from whatever it was down to a dollar. So it’s still on our records that they paid late, but we reduce it and they get one freebie. And then it really just depends. There’s tenants of ours that have rented for years and years and years, and maybe they had a late payment their first year, and now it’s year four… So they’ve been great tenants, but guess what – they’re people, and life happens, and their car broke down, or the kid had to go to the hospital, and they’ve had some emergencies come up… So we don’t necessarily just automatically waive that fee, but we think about it, and we talk to our clients, and  of course if they’re troublemakers we’re not just gonna keep waiving fee after fee; we’re going to charge those fees, and potentially not renew if it becomes a real problem.

But for those people that have been great and they’ve just had a situation come up in life, we’re gonna be compassionate about those things.

But at the same time, we can play hardball when needed, for sure, and we’re not gonna let people just take advantage of us.

Joe Fairless: From a fair housing law standpoint, how do you walk that line of doing it on a case-by-case versus just uniform, regardless of what the situation is? Educate me on that part, will you?

Michelle Ketchum: Yeah, it’s really important, and that’s why we do allow it one time. We do make note of it. It’s not based on anything else except that’s just our policy, for the first time… And then after that, it gets into — again, we just have those conversations with the client; it’s not like we’re just making the decision for them on if we should waive it, but we’re giving them the option, and at the end of the day it’s their money, so they really have the ultimate say on if they want to waive it or not.

Joe Fairless: Some other tactical things… You mentioned instead of a non-refundable pet fee you have a refundable pet fee, correct? So what are some perhaps other tactical things that you all do?

Michelle Ketchum: Some other ways that we make it tenant-friendly – and still again, with any of these ideas, they always have the owner’s bottom line in mind.

Joe Fairless: Sure.

Michelle Ketchum: Going back to the pet fee vs. deposit – we still are protecting the owner’s investment, and usually what we do when we do the deposits is we’ll do something higher… You’ll see a lot of times where it said maybe a non-refundable $250 pet fee – what we’ll do is we’ll charge a $400-$500 refundable pet fee. So we’re charging more, but the tenant has the chance to get all of that back if their cat just lays around like a pillow and doesn’t do anything to mess up the house.

So again, we’re keeping the owner’s bottom line in mind, always… But another thing that we do too is we don’t make it easy for the tenant to break the lease, but we also don’t make it completely financially horrible for them to have to do so. We live in a really transitional area, where there’s a lot of professional people, they’re getting promoted, or sometimes they’re getting fired or being laid off, and we don’t want them to have to stay in a lease they can’t afford… Or again, if they got promoted, then they’ve got a great opportunity to move away. We don’t want to make them pay 2, 3, 4 months rent to break a lease, or a huge termination fee… What we do is we give them the option of advertising the property on their own, finding a tenant to take over their lease, and they have to pay rent, obviously, through that term, until the day before the new lease starts. They’re also required to have the property professionally cleaned… But that’s it. So they can get away with it for almost the cost of a house cleaning, and a little bit of their time.

For the busy professional we do offer a service where they can pay us and we’ll re-advertise for them, and really just do our best to find someone to take over that lease. And a lot of times, the owner of the property – they don’t skip a beat, right? They’ve got rent coming through, they have the tenant pay for the professional cleaning and anything that needed to be done during the turnover… The tenant wasn’t paying an arm and a leg to break their lease. It just makes it a little (I think) fair, and a little bit more flexible to rent with us.

We also really do a lot of nice things for our tenants throughout the lease. When they move in, they get this awesome welcome box that’s beautifully hand-crafted with a card from us; it’s got everything from [unintelligible [00:11:47].04] coupons to local business, a roll of toilet paper… Just a little welcome box saying “Hey, we’re happy to have you here. We’re gonna treat you well while you’re here. Welcome to your new house.”

We do monthly gift  card drawings every month for tenants that pay rent on time… So we just don’t always approach it as “Ding-ding-ding! We’re gonna ding you with a late fee, we’re gonna ding you with an early termination fee…” It’s like, “Let’s support you if you’re doing what you’re supposed to do.” So we do monthly drawings every month for tenants that pay rent on time, we do renewal gifts, and we actually have a tenant appreciation happy hour thing coming up next month where we’re having all these raffles, and just having them stop by our office for some ice cream and beer.

Joe Fairless: Yum! Sign me up.

Michelle Ketchum: If they’re of age.

Joe Fairless: Of course, obviously. With the monthly gift card drawings, how much is that gift card worth and how many gift cards are given out every month?

Michelle Ketchum: We do two right now, but as we continue to grow, we’re probably gonna need to up that… But we do two $20 gift cards to a local business. We don’t generally give out gift cards to chain restaurants or anything like that; we’re trying to support our local restaurants and shops and everything. They also get a really awesome Acorn + Oak T-shirt… So it’s about a $30 value.

Joe Fairless: Cool!

Michelle Ketchum: But hey, they’re paying their rent on time. For doing what they’re supposed to do, there’s a chance they can win something cool.

Joe Fairless: Absolutely. Have you noticed any benefit as a result of including local businesses in your marketing approach?

Michelle Ketchum: It’s probably just something I haven’t noticed, but this area is such an awesome place to have a small business and to have a local business… So it’s just being part of the community. That was another really important piece of starting a company – I want it to be an active, supportive part of this amazing community and culture that we have down here.

I think we kind of just rub each other’s backs. Some of our clients are business owners in the area. Some of our tenants are business owners in the area… So it’s just nice to keep it local when you can.

Joe Fairless: The renewal gifts – how do you determine how much that gift is and what do you give them?

Michelle Ketchum: It’s pretty standard. It’s another $20 gift card to a local ice-cream shop here in downtown Durham, and it just says, basically, “Thanks again for renewing. We’re so excited to have you! Enjoy an ice-cream out on us.” Usually, $20 should get you two fancy ice-creams, so… It should get you two ice-cream cones.

A lot of our renewals are happening in the summer, so again, it was just kind of a fun thing to do in the summer months.

Joe Fairless: And you have over 1,000 properties that you’re managing. If let’s say you get 75% of those residents renewing, then you’re investing $15,000 in that local ice-cream shop for these renewals… So do you have some sort of deal negotiated with them, where you save some money on these gift cards?

Michelle Ketchum: You know, I don’t… But I should.

Joe Fairless: That local ice-cream store owner is gonna hate me. [laughs]

Michelle Ketchum: [unintelligible [00:14:56].16] Yeah, exactly. Again, so this is five years old. When I started, it was me, working at my house, with nothing. No brand recognition, nothing. I literally started from the ground up with this thing… So the renewal gifts – those have kind of come along over time; that was actually something that we developed last year, so it wasn’t something we’ve always done. So it’s only a year old, but you’re right, I should be talking to this ice-cream shop about getting some sort of discount.

Joe Fairless: Don’t tell him/her that I mentioned this, because I don’t wanna be on their bad list.

Michelle Ketchum: I won’t…

Joe Fairless: Let’s talk about the differences in managing a 20-unit versus a single-family house… Because you started out doing single-family homes and you have a 20-unit in your portfolio that you manage. That’s accurate, yes?

Michelle Ketchum: Yes.

Joe Fairless: Okay. What is the difference between managing the single-family and the 20-unit, and how did you evolve your team and the process to be able to do that?

Michelle Ketchum: Obviously – or maybe not obviously – managing a 20-unit apartment complex is gonna be… It’s a small building, chances are the layouts and the floor plans are exactly the same, so there’s gonna be less work as far as producing marketing and remembering paint colors and all of that. It’s gonna be a little bit easier if it’s in bulk, and generally those clients pay a little bit less in management fees… But it’s really not that much different in anything else.

The way that we structure it – some of our agents work for maybe two or three clients; we’ve got a couple people at our company that really love multifamily. They’ve come from the apartment complex world, so they’re just bringing that expertise and they’re working with those kinds of clients.

Then we have other people that really love working with the investor that’s just getting started and they’re buying a single-family home this year, and a townhome next year, and all that. But the way that we approach it really is we try to do everything in batches. So even if it is 20 single-family homes versus one building with 20 units, we’re still really trying to do batches and kind of keeping them as a portfolio. If we’re doing inspections, we’re gonna inspect either that one building with the 20 units, and we’re going to inspect those 20 homes at the same time.

I don’t know if that really answers your question, but we try to kind of make the single-family homes into sort of like a multifamily, just with a little bit more drive time in between… But the way that our agents are set up too is – when you start as a property manager with Acorn + Oak you’re kind of given a territory, and usually that territory is pretty close to where you live. So the idea is that you’re not having to drive from Raleigh to Durham and to Chapel Hill; really, the idea would be let’s condense your territory into maybe a five to ten minute drive from your house, so that you can easily serve these tenants and these properties and these clients.

Joe Fairless: So for a Best Ever listener who’s got a 20-25 unit, maybe a 30-unit that they are looking to purchase, would you say it does not matter if the property management company currently does apartment buildings and they’re only doing single-family homes?

Michelle Ketchum: I think it can be done, but I think it helps to have a company like ours, that has the experience from both sides. So with the multifamily that we’re doing right now, we’re doing things differently, and there’s also a whole side for like cap ex, repairs, there’s a whole side for budgeting and specific reports, because it’s just a little bit different.

So I would say that it’s not necessarily a deal breaker; I would always hire a property manager based on their personality and how you all mesh together. That’s me personally. I would choose just getting along with them and having the same ideas and philosophies on how you wanna run that property; it’s gonna be more important than their experience, because I think the experience kind of goes both ways. If you did multifamily, you can learn how to do a single-family residential home, and vice-versa. But at Acorn + Oak you don’t have to choose, because you get both – you get the great personality and the great service, and all of the expertise… But maybe in other markets, I would say that I’d probably go for, again, just kind of “How do I feel about this person?” I’m kind of a gut person.

Joe Fairless: Yeah, it makes sense. In terms of the student housing, the last question I was kind of leading you – but I shouldn’t have, because then you said basically you didn’t do many different things for the single to 20… So I won’t have a leading question this time, I’ll just ask you – is it different with student housing, versus singles, versus apartments, and if it is, how so? And if not, then we’ll move on.

Michelle Ketchum: Student housing is definitely its own animal, and I think “animal” can sometimes be the right word. [laughter] You just have to have different expectations, and that’s really any kind of real estate investing. You just have to have really good expectations on what this is gonna look like.

For student housing, specifically for what we do over at UNC Chapel Hill [unintelligible [00:20:13].18] Some of these students are moving at August 1st. By September 24th – literally, less than two months into their lease – they have to tell us if they’re going to be staying for the next school year. So they’re making decisions about renewals really quickly. It’s important to start advertising those student rentals.

I’m giving an example – if someone wants to move in August 1st, 2018, so their lease runs through July 31st, 2019… So by September 24th, 2018 they’re telling us if they’re gonna be staying from August 2019 through July 2020.

Joe Fairless: Wow.

Michelle Ketchum: Yeah, they’re having to make those decisions. But that’s cool, chances are they know if they like the house, moving kind of sucks, so they usually tell us, and we start advertising October 1st for 2019-2020 leases… And it’s just crazy, it’s a frenzy, and all the students at UNC know that it’s the time to advertise, so the advertising is a little bit different, there’s obviously a lot more moving parts, because sometimes you’ve got four people living together, and they’ve all got a co-signer, and maybe four groups of four people with four co-signers, so that’s a lot of people…

So it’s different in that way, and then the expectations are they’re gonna leave couches at the curb, they’re going to leave trash in the house… The houses are definitely gonna need a deep clean when they move out… I’ve had great tenants, and I’ll say, I was like a pretty mature undergrad, so I’m not saying all undergrads are this way, but we’ve also had tenants that have had mayonnaise fights on their way out, and now there’s grease stains all over the walls… So you have to expect that a mayonnaise fight might happen, and just be prepared that we’re gonna have to [unintelligible [00:21:57].03] we have a nice deposit as well for these student rentals, so…

A lot of the times too you have to understand that – specifically in UNC Chapel Hill – you can live off-campus I believe as soon as you’re a freshman, so a lot of these people are going from living with their families to being out on their own, and they have no idea what an air filter is, or a water filter, or a [unintelligible [00:22:24].09] filter… And I was asking myself, I’m like “When did I learn about air filters?” I don’t know, but there was a time in my life when I learned about air filters.
So it’s really kind of like taking these kids under your wing too, and showing them how to live alone, in a house, without their parents. That’s why a good property manager takes that off your plate, so we can be the den mother.

Joe Fairless: Many unique challenges there, that’s for sure. When you were talking about the mayonnaise fights – I never had a mayonnaise fight, but in college we rented a house, and it was in Lubbock, Texas; it was like $200 each of us, and there were two of us, so like $400. We had a wrap around couch we found on the side of the road, and since it was a wrap around, it wrapped around in a corner, so in that corner there was a little open spot behind the couch, in between the couch and the wall, and we would just throw our empty beer cans in that corner, instead of taking them to the trash can.

Michelle Ketchum: And this is not unheard of, yeah.

Joe Fairless: Good, good, I appreciate you backing me up on that one.

Michelle Ketchum: And I hope that in my title on your podcast website it says something about mayonnaise fights, because we really want people to click and listen, like “What is she talking about…”

Joe Fairless: [laughs] That’s right, that’s right. “Student rentals and mayonnaise fights. Wanna learn more? Listen to this show.” Well, what is your best real estate investing advice ever?

Michelle Ketchum: My best advice would be to just do it. I think a lot of people are scared, and if you have the right property manager helping you along the way, it’s really not that bad. And a lot times too we’re getting clients — so we actually don’t do any general brokerage; we don’t help people buy or sell property, we only do property management. We wanna do one thing, and we wanna be the best at it that we can. But we get a lot of people that contact us first, they’re thinking about investing here and they wanna make sure that they’ve got a good property manager in place before they even start looking… Because again, the property management will make or break your deal.

So I would say don’t be scared, do it, educate yourself, get some advice… It’s not for everybody; more people could do it, but I think they’re a little nervous. So get educated, learn, and if you feel like it, start out with one, see how it goes, and then you’ll get the bug and you’ll be having 90 properties.

Joe Fairless: Between single-families, student rentals and small to medium size apartment buildings, what has the highest profit margin for you as a management company?

Michelle Ketchum: What do we make the most money on?

Joe Fairless: Yeah.

Michelle Ketchum: It’s probably just your middle of the road single-family home. Our student rentals rent for a lot of money. You said you were paying $200 in Lubbock, Texas. UNC Chapel Hill houses are going for $800/bedroom, and they’re not marble, quartz, gold-plated houses; they’re basic homes, but it’s all about location.

So the rents are high there, but a lot of times we end up discounting our management fee for those… So for us it’s probably just the people that own the single-family homes, taking them up one at a time.

Joe Fairless: And why do you discount your management fee? Because from what you describe, it sounds like they’re much more time-intensive, those student rentals.

Michelle Ketchum: Our management are an initial fee ($395), and then 10% of the rent… Which I don’t know that I’ve seen anyone charge more than 10% yet. And if people have more than one single student house, again, this can get kind of pricey. So a lot of times they’re kind of coming in knowing that they can get it for cheaper. We’re usually settling — we don’t stray too far from 10%, and some of our clients do pay 10%, but because we know that could be a pretty large management fee… I mean, it is a lot of work, but it’s just different work.

Joe Fairless: Yeah, it’s more entertaining work.

Michelle Ketchum: It’s definitely more of a surprise.

Joe Fairless: It sounds like it’s really more entertaining.

Michelle Ketchum: Yeah, exactly.

Joe Fairless: We’re gonna do a lightning round. Are you ready for the Best Ever Lightning Round?

Michelle Ketchum: Yes!
Joe Fairless: Cool. First, a quick word from our Best Ever partners.

Break: [00:26:18].25] to [00:26:59].00]

Joe Fairless: Best Ever book you’ve read?

Michelle Ketchum: I love The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss, and I think I’ve just been sort of in love with Tim Ferriss, but I also like Tools of Titans by him; I’m reading that right now.

Joe Fairless: Great book… Both of them. I completely agree. I have a quasi-man crush. I have a Tony Robbins full-fledged man crush, but Tim – quasi-man crush; I love most of the stuff Tim does and talks about. What’s the best ever business deal that you’ve done? Either a property, or a client transaction, or something else.

Michelle Ketchum: You know, I think when it really boils down to it, when I first started the company, again, I had very little. I had some experience working for another company, but Acorn + Oak was brand new, and I got my first client that had 30 properties, and he totally whittled me down… But that was such a monumental point for my business.

You always kind of wonder, like “Am I gonna make it? Am I gonna make it? How long is it gonna take?” and as soon as I got that client, I was like “I’m in. I’m all of a sudden legitimate”, and it really started to roll in after that. So he’s a current client, and we butt heads sometimes, but at the end of the day we actually have legit love for one another… So I always say that he’s been my best deal.

Joe Fairless: What’s a mistake you’ve made on a deal or a transaction, or in business?

Michelle Ketchum: I would say that there was a deal — and it wasn’t even that big of a deal, but it was a multi-unit building, and again, because I’m this fluffy person, we had a verbal contract… I felt like I did a lot of work, I did a lot of reports, I did a lot of inspections, and I thought everything was good to go. I’m used to people doing what they say they’re gonna do, and right before the deal closed, they said “We’re gonna go with another company, and I felt really used… But it was a great lesson in business – get your contract signed.

Joe Fairless: What’s the best ever way you like to give back?

Michelle Ketchum: I really enjoy… Again, I haven’t been a business owner for super long, but I’ve had quite a bit of success – and success to me isn’t money, but I’ve had this rollercoaster ride, and so I’m now in this point in my career where people are actually wanting to sit down with me and hear my story and hear the do’s and don’ts, and I really love getting into this mentorship field… Especially, like I said, Durham, North Carolina is just a wonderful place to have a local business, and I’m always up for like supporting people that wanna venture out on their own. I love being in a position where people actually want my advice, and being a mentor.

Joe Fairless: And how can the Best Ever listeners get in touch with you and learn more about Acorn + Oak?

Michelle Ketchum: Our website is a great place. There’s actually a video on there as well. That’s acorn-oak.com. Or my e-mail, which is Michelle@Acorn-Oak.com.

Joe Fairless: Lots of lessons learned in our conversation. I’m so grateful that we were connected and that you’re on the show. One is the differences between managing single-families versus small to medium-sized apartment buildings, versus student housing… The unique challenges in particular with student housing — well, this is actually a pro, having a longer lead time to fill vacancies… But then some cons – having a lot of co-signers, having a lot of people within each of the properties, and it can get messy with mayonnaise fights… As well as some ways that you have positioned Acorn + Oak from the ground up, to be differentiated by taking that compassionate approach, hands-on, heart-led approach, as you say, and some specific things that you’re doing – the refundable pet fees, welcome box with a card, monthly gift card drawings for residents who pay on time, renewal gifts of $20, and then coming up, a tenant appreciation happy hour with ice cream and booze.

Thanks again for being on the show. I’m grateful you were on the show. I hope you have a best ever day, and we’ll talk to you soon.

Michelle Ketchum: You too. Bye!

real estate pro advice

JF865: Dead Body Disposal at a Property and Why You MUST Wait for EXECUTED Docs Before Making Plans #SituationSaturday

You read the title correctly, a dead body was disposed at a property that our guest had interest in. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong in this deal, and some pretty serious cycle paths were definitely against our guest… Hear the details!

Best Ever Tweet:

Ross Hamilton Real Estate Background:

– CEO of Connected Investors, http://www.cix.com which is an aggregator of crowdfunding portals
– Nominated by Entrepreneur Magazine as Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011
– Based in Wilimton, North Carolina
– Wrote the book “Real estate investing in your 20s
– Used to compete in BMX Freestyle
– Listen to his Best Ever Advice here:


Made Possible Because of Our Best Ever Sponsors:

You find the deals. We’ll fund them. Yes, it’s that simple. Fund That Flip is an online lender that provides fast and affordable capital to real estate investors. We make funding your projects easy so you can focus on what you do best…rehabilitating homes.

Download your free copy at http://www.fundthatflip.com/bestever


Subscribe in iTunes and Stitcher so you don’t miss an episode!

real estate pro advice

JF855: Beginner Wholesaler is CRUSHING It with 9 Properties!

Two properties under contract in her first 30 days! She is extremely positive and an action taker in the DFW market. This episode is for those who might lose hope starting their wholesale ventures, keep the faith and remember that it’s all about your attitude and network.

Best Ever Tweet:

Brandy Johnson Real Estate Background:

– Owner at Turner Investments, a multi-service company that has the ability to buy, sell and wholesale properties
– Began investing in August 2016, now has 3 available properties, within 30 days had 2 signed contracts
– Based in Thomasville, North Carolina
– Say hi to her at buynchousescheap.com
– Best Ever Book: Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

Made Possible Because of Our Best Ever Sponsors:

You find the deals. We’ll fund them. Yes, it’s that simple. Fund That Flip is an online lender that provides fast and affordable capital to real estate investors. We make funding your projects easy so you can focus on what you do best…rehabilitating homes.

Download your free copy at http://www.fundthatflip.com/bestever


Subscribe in iTunes and Stitcher so you don’t miss an episode!

real estate pro advice

JF835: $10,000 in 2 Days, Using a VA, and How Even New Guys Can Make a KILLING!

He has been an active wholeseller for only four months but nets approximately $20,000 every month. Our guest jumped in 100% after limited experience in real estate. He managed a multi million dollar portfolio as a young man and scraped by when between checks. Now he is rocking his market, hear how he did it and what he’s doing now!

Best Ever Tweet:

Max Maxwell Real Estate Background:

– Full time wholesaler at Cash Homes Triad; A real estate solutions company
– Started in real estate in 2006, very successful for 2.5 years until the crash
– Mainly does flip, hold, and rent
– Served 4 years in US Air Force and is now a private pilot on the side
– Based in Winston Salem, North Carolina
– Say hi to him at http://www.cashhomestriad.com
– Best Ever Book: Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

Click here for a summary of Max’s Best Ever Advice: http://bit.ly/2gGiAJI

Made Possible Because of Our Best Ever Sponsors:

You find the deals. We’ll fund them. Yes, it’s that simple. Fund That Flip is an online lender that provides fast and affordable capital to real estate investors. We make funding your projects easy so you can focus on what you do best…rehabilitating homes.

Download your free copy at http://www.fundthatflip.com/bestever


Subscribe in iTunes and Stitcher so you don’t miss an episode!

Best Ever Show Real Estate Advice from experts

JF820: How to Own America, or at Least Portfolios of Properties that Render Big Returns Nationwide

Would you like to begin earning a massive yet passive income on large portfolios? Today’s guest sets up a somewhat turnkey operation that you are able to analyze and purchase all at once. His business model is fascinating with a ton of upside for the buyer, hear how you can buy your next portfolio.

Best Ever Tweet:

Adam Stern Real Estate Background:

– President at OwnAmerica; A National Real Estate Investment Brokerage
– OwnAmerica is the leading broker in the single family residential space
– Adam is currently the number 1 portfolio salesperson in the US
– 14 years in senior leadership positions within companies in the residential and investment real estate space
– Based in Charlotte, North Carolina
– Say hi to him at http://ownamerica.com
– Best Ever Book: Think Bigger by Mark Van Rijmenam

Sponsored by:

Door Devil – visit http://www.doordevil.com and enter “bestever” to get an exclusive 20% discount on your purchase. Subscribe to Joe’s YouTube Channel here to learn multifamily and raising money tips:


Subscribe in iTunes and Stitcher so you don’t miss an episode!

Best Ever Show Real Estate Advice from experts

JF811: How to Be Rich and Generous and B.R.A.G. About It

Would you like to give back? Our guest helps other people complete real estate transactions as a coach and allows others to give back to the community. He is the host of a radio show and has completed just about every type of deal in the residential real estate investment realm. Here why he believes there is no excuse to not buy real estate if you’re making offers and some interesting deal scenarios.

Best Ever Tweet:

Larry Goins Real Estate Background:

– Active real estate investor & Host of the BRAG Radio Show
– Founder of Real Estate Day Trading, the art of buying and selling homes from your home office
– Real estate for over 30 years
– Travels to speak and train audiences on his strategies for buying and selling houses
– Author of “HUD Homes Half Off!” and “How to Get Started in Real Estate Day Trading
– Based in Charlotte, North Carolina
– Say hi to him at http://www.larrygoins.com/besteverlisteners
– Best Ever Book: Lessons from the Richest Man Who Ever Lived by Steven Scott

Want an inbox full of online leads? Get a FREE strategy session with Dan Barrett who is the only certified Google partner that exclusively works with real estate investors like us.

Click here: http://www.adwordsnerds.com to schedule the appointment.

Subscribe to Joe’s YouTube Channel here to learn multifamily and raising money tips: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwTzctSEMu4L0tKN2b_esfg

Subscribe in iTunes and Stitcher so you don’t miss an episode!

no fluff real estate advice

JF688: How to AFFORDABLY Work With REALTORS Nationwide

Ever wanted to close deals in other states but don’t have the time? Today’s guest will shoot you an agent in any market to show and sell your properties very quickly and EXTREMELY affordable! Listen very closely.

Best Ever Tweet:

Tommy Sowers Real Estate Background:

– Founder and CEO of SoloPro
– Raised 1.6 Million in capital
– Based in Durham, North Carolina
– Say hi at solopro.com

Listen to all episodes and get a FREE crash course on real estate investing at: http://www.joefairless.com

Made Possible Because of Our Best Ever Sponsors:

You find the deals. We’ll fund them. Yes, it’s that simple. Fund That Flip is an online lender that provides fast and affordable capital to real estate investors.

We make funding your projects easy so you can focus on what you do best…rehabilitating homes. Learn more at http://www.fundthatflip.com/bestever.

Subscribe to Joe’s YouTube Channel here to learn multifamily and raising money tips:

Subscribe in iTunes  and  Stitcher  so you don’t miss an episode!

Best Ever Show Real Estate Advice

JF648: How to Host a Rockstar MEETUP Where all Deals Find You

He and his partner host four meetings A week, no mistake, four meetings a week! It makes sense as the majority of all his deals came from these meetings of adding value to other investors and has been diligent in doing so. He has raised a following in Charlotte and is quickly establishing himself as an authority in his local market. Hear how he sets it all up and what success he has seen.

Best Ever Tweet:

Taylor Peugh Real Estate Background:

– Holds 4 meeting a week for real estate investing (over 15 hours)
– Acquired properties via meetings
– Based in Charlotte, North Carolina
– You can reach him at taylor.peugh@gmail.com

Listen to all episodes and get a FREE crash course on real estate investing at: http://www.joefairless.com

Made Possible Because of Our Best Ever Sponsors:

You find the deals. We’ll fund them. Yes, it’s that simple. Fund That Flip is an online lender that provides fast and affordable capital to real estate investors.

We make funding your projects easy so you can focus on what you do best…rehabilitating homes. Learn more at http://www.fundthatflip.com/bestever.

Subscribe to Joe’s YouTube Channel here to learn multifamily and raising money tips:

Subscribe in iTunes  and  Stitcher  so you don’t miss an episode!

Best Ever Show Real Estate Advice

JF633: How She Sells the Majority of Her Inventory on FACEBOOK!

That’s right she uses Facebook to sell her listings. Today’s guest is a top-rated broker and agent with volumes of well over 7.5 million. Tune in to hear how she built a team and sells her inventory.

Best Ever Tweet:

Aimee Freeman Real Estate Background:

– Became the top 3% of all agents in Wilmington, North Carolina
– Owner and broker of Aimee and Co. (Keller Williams)
– Over $7.5MM in sales volume
– Certified negotiation expert
– Based in Wilmington, North Carolina

Listen to all episodes and get a FREE crash course on real estate investing at: http://www.joefairless.com

Made Possible Because of Our Best Ever Sponsors:

You find the deals. We’ll fund them. Yes, it’s that simple. Fund That Flip is an online lender that provides fast and affordable capital to real estate investors.

We make funding your projects easy so you can focus on what you do best…rehabilitating homes. Learn more at http://www.fundthatflip.com/bestever.

Subscribe to Joe’s YouTube Channel here to learn multifamily and raising money tips:

Subscribe in iTunes  and  Stitcher  so you don’t miss an episode!

Download the FREE Passive Investor Resource GuideSimply provide your information to download