JF1365: Cubicle Mates Turned Investing Partners & Podcast Hosts with The REI Rookies Jack Hoss & Josh Koth

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Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners, how are you doing? Welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I'm Joe Fairless, and this is the world's longest-running daily real estate investing podcast. We only talk about the best advice ever, we don't get into any of that fluffy stuff. With us today, Jack Hoss and Josh Koth. How are you doing, Jack and Josh?
Jack Hoss: Hey, it's great to be on your show!
Josh Koth: Doing well up here in the upper Midwest. Summer finally hit... We're hoping it'll last more than a week this time.
Joe Fairless: Yes, fingers crossed for me, too. By the time this episode airs, I think you will be nice and toasty, that's for sure. Looking forward to our conversation. A little bit more about Jack and Josh - they are the hosts of the real estate podcast called REI Rookies Podcast. They also have a company called Value Property Partners, where their main focus is buy and hold single-family homes, and they do some things to acquire wealth to buy those properties, like wholesaling, and fix and flipping.
On the podcast, they share their experience and lessons that they learn as they work towards their financial freedom, and they interview others as well. With that being said, do you two wanna give the Best Ever listeners a little bit more about your background and your current focus?
Josh Koth: Sure. Basically, we were both in IT and we were cubicle mates; we sat across the aisle from each other, and we would scheme how we could escape the cube life. We knew that passive income was the way to do that, we had both read Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and that kind of red-pilled us. Then it was just a matter of finding out the method of how to do that. All roads kind of led to real estate through our research, and then I was lucky enough to get canned with my whole team...
Joe Fairless: Congratulations.
Josh Koth: Yeah, thank you... So I suddenly had the time to go look at properties all day. So I started purchasing a few, and then just built up a portfolio over the next 6-9 month or so, and then Jack was watching from the cubicle and we decided to partner up. He just quit his job this year, and now we're both doing it full-time and lovin' it. That's my quick version.
Joe Fairless: Yeah, when you got fired, you started looking at properties and buying them and built up your portfolio... Did you get a severance package?
Josh Koth: No... I actually drained my IRA.
Joe Fairless: Okay.
Josh Koth: Fully red-pilled.
Joe Fairless: So you got fired, your income that's coming in from your W-2 job is no more, and then you decide to start investing money and buying properties... Do you have a significant other in your life, besides your business partner?
Josh Koth: Yeah. She stays home with the kids though, so she wasn't making any income for a few years. And actually, I had another side gig as a photographer.
Joe Fairless: Well, that's very lucrative, I'm sure.
Josh Koth: Yeah, right... Definitely, in this day and age.
Joe Fairless: Right. So what was the conversation like with your wife when you were like "Okay, I got fired, so we don't have any income coming in, but don't worry, I'd like to take the money that we do have and then spend it somewhere."
Josh Koth: Well, it's really simple, actually. I showed her a comparison chart of our average returns of the IRA over the last 20 years, and I said if I was to pull all this money out and pay the taxes and penalties and invest it in real estate, assuming - I think I used a 10% or 11% rate or return, that I felt I was comfortable enough to guarantee that I would get... I had made up all the taxes and penalties within a couple years, and then my projection was doubled by five years, and then by 15 years or so it quadrupled... Versus leaving the money in. So she was pretty sold on that idea. She just is a cheerleader; she didn't really know anything about the business per se or want to be directly involved, but she supported me in that choice; that was all I needed to blast out of the shoot.
Joe Fairless: And Jack, what are your thoughts about this?
Jack Hoss: Well, I actually think that the team being laid off - I was on that same team, and about two weeks before the team got let go I actually got a different role.
Joe Fairless: Within the same company?
Jack Hoss: Within the same company. So I actually think I took it harder than Josh. When I saw that whole team get let go, I realized that the corporate job wasn't as secure that I thought it was. Soon after that is when I bought my first duplex.
Joe Fairless: Got it. How long ago was your first duplex? When did that happen?
Jack Hoss: It's been...
Josh Koth: The spring of 2016.
Joe Fairless: So about two years ago you got your first duplex, and now you two are partners... When did you two partner up?
Josh Koth: Basically, I bought a few myself, Jack bought a few himself, and then we just kind of realized it'd be smart of us to double our efforts. We totally believe in the 1+1 can equal 5. Your accountability is there, your efforts can be multiplied... So we started buying a few together, and just have never looked back. That was about a year and a half ago... So about nine months into the journey or so we decided "Let's just partner up." I think we've purchased every property in that company's name that we formed together ever since.
Joe Fairless: How do you divide responsibilities? Are things gonna get awkward? [laughter] Well, I should have to do all of this, but I do have to, unfortunately...
Josh Koth: I guess we got lucky, because when we entered into the partnership we knew each other fairly well, but you never know someone's true personality until you're trying to make a living with them. It can, like you said, get awkward, or get ugly. So I think we both got lucky though in that our personalities are very even-keeled, and we're both hardworking, so we just divvied up tasks, and as people were able to do them, we were both putting in the time. There was no question of either one of us putting in the hours.
Things were happening, and deals were getting done, and we were being successful. We haven't reached the point where we've had to question anybody's motivation yet... Knock on wood that that doesn't happen.
Joe Fairless: But specifically, what do each of you do? And if you need to use a deal as an example... I'd just like to know who does what.
Josh Koth: We kind of both talk to sellers when we do direct marketing... We can almost split that up evenly. It's really kind of you kind of go out and find the connection, and if they bring you something, then you kind of take that deal to fruition. We don't really have things split up as far as one person does acquisition, one does disposition... It's kind of a blend.
I have my contacts that people know me and they bring me direct referrals. We both respond to calls that come in through our direct marketing, we both will text our agent that [unintelligible 00:07:41.05] offers on the MLS... It's kind of evenly split down the middle so far. I think over time we'll maybe settle into more official roles, where we divide up the tasks...
Jack Hoss: Yeah, I think what's really helped us is that we do have a CRM that keeps us all accountable and on track. I know what deal he's working on and I he knows what deal I'm working on, and it kind of works out from there.
Joe Fairless: So it's almost you divide and conquer based on deals, not necessarily specific responsibilities within each deal. Okay. What CRM do you use?
Josh Koth: Rei.soluions.
Joe Fairless: Why do you use that?
Josh Koth: We did some mentoring with Matt Theriault, from Epic Real Estate, and it was something that his team teaches how to implement. We're believers in not reinventing the wheel, and if something has something that they're working and they can get it implemented in our business quickly, then... We just had them do it for us, basically, so we didn't have to sit there and learn a CRM from the ground up. They just got it going for us and we just took off running.
Joe Fairless: How much have you two invested in mentoring?
Josh Koth: Oh, geez... We've gone to a couple events, and paid for mentoring, traveled a couple times; we're going to Indianapolis at the end of May... I don't know, probably 50k total.
Joe Fairless: And how do you justify that from an ROI standpoint?
Josh Koth: Since we left there and paid for them to implement the CRM, our deal flow at least doubled, versus what we were doing on our own previously, if not tripled. In fact, we've done more transactions as of May 1st than we had all last year. So the proof is kind of in the pudding there... And it was a leap of faith though, because you don't think "What kind of return am I gonna get on this?" We didn't look at mentoring as an expense, we looked at it as an investment.
We don't wanna reinvent the wheel, so if there's somebody doing what we wanna be doing, we'd rather just replicate their model and do it in our market. We're in the upper Midwest and farther North Dakota here; there's not a lot of people doing direct mail strategies and all the other things that are happening in bigger markets... So it was really a wide open playing field. When we talk to sellers, a lot of times we're the only one that's ever mailed them anything... That's a good spot to be in, right? Not a lot of competition for off-market properties here.
Joe Fairless: And can you two talk to us about your business model?
Jack Hoss: I think we're unique in this market as well. We still get about half of our deals off the MLS, but the majority of them come through referrals. Josh and I - part of that mentorship investment that we make is through joining as many networking groups locally as we can. Whether it is coming from a realtor, through a pocket listing, or somebody bringing a property to our attention... That's been one of our best investments so far.
Josh Koth: Yeah, and our basic business model is we use private money to make cash offers, with no contingencies on properties, in order to get the deepest discount. Then we try to buy them cheap enough where we can go to our local regional bank here and do a cash-out refi, pay back the private lender with interest and pull out all the money used to acquire the deal, and then just keep doing that over and over.
That allowed us to go from one deal every few months to one deal a month, to now several a month... Just because now it's just a matter of how fast can we purchase a property, get the deed recorded, do a cash-out refi... Now it's just about streamlining the process and increasing our conversion rate with sellers, and just getting more marketing out there too, to just get more deals in the front end of the funnel.
Joe Fairless: Sounds like in order for a listener to replicate this type of model they'll need deals, they'll need private money, and they'll need a lender to cash them out. Any other major important piece of that puzzle that you've mentioned?
Josh Koth: I guess networking and just getting out there and telling everyone what you do and being a part of as many networking groups as possible; that's a big piece of it too, but I guess that just kind of plays into the lead gen... But that's something that people can do when they're getting started; it doesn't cost anything, right? They can go to Chamber of Commerce events here, local BNI, your Master Networks chapters... You can go attend all these events for free, and just get your name out there and tell people what you're doing.
On our podcast we kind of focus on beginner investors and kind of journaling our journey from the beginning, and we kind of try and boil everything down... So that's one way that people can really take action if they don't have a lot of money for marketing.
Joe Fairless: Any specific example where you've seen -- the Chamber of Commerce, or a meetup or something result in money, profit to you?
Josh Koth: Yeah, in fact just last night when we were at our real estate investor -- we don't have a REIA club in town here, so we took over the local real estate investor meetup group...
Joe Fairless: How did you take it over?
Josh Koth: Well, there was a different guy running it, and we just became so active in it and tried to help out as much as we could that when he left to move to a different area of the country he just asked us "Hey, do you guys wanna take this over?"
Joe Fairless: Why would he ever wanna leave Fargo, North Dakota...? I don't understand.
Josh Koth: For a lady.
Joe Fairless: Oh, okay... There we go. He followed love. Okay, fair enough. That's even worse... [laughs] No, I'm kidding.
Josh Koth: Yeah, so it was for love...
Joe Fairless: Alright, fair enough.
Josh Koth: So when he left and he asked us to take over, it was just a matter of being in a position where we were so active that it was kind of an obvious choice for him to go to us, because he knew that we were passionate about it, and we had attended every event, and we tried to give a lot of good value.
Joe Fairless: And how many people were regularly attending that? Is it a monthly meetup?
Josh Koth: Yeah, first Monday of every month.
Joe Fairless: Okay. How many people regularly attend?
Josh Koth: Geez, last night it was almost a record attendance; it was like 30-something. Typically it's 10 to 20.
Joe Fairless: Cool, cool. Anyway, I interrupted you because I wanted to hear how you took it over.
Josh Koth: While we were there, I got a text saying someone had accepted our offer on a house here in town... And it was another investor group that was moving up into multifamily, and they needed the capital because I think there was some syndication going on and they had the opportunity to buy in at a higher level if they could sell this last house they owned... So actually they gave it to us at a great discount, and that was directly as a result of just being in front of people. Because we didn't get it through marketing, we didn't get it through any other paid source, it was just for being out there... And in fact, I think it was somebody we use to work with.
It's a free marketing method - just telling everybody what you do. He saw that we were doing deals, gave us a shot at it, we made an offer, and that was it. He accepted.
Joe Fairless: With your business model you find deals where you can buy on a deep discount, and then you buy those with private money. You then get a lender -- after you close, you then get a lender to do a cash-out refinance, or actually just put a loan on it... So what are the loan terms and what lenders do you use that allows you to -- or I guess it's just any loan, so I guess they're not allowing you... But what lender?
Josh Koth: I don't think the name will help, just because it's a local--
Joe Fairless: Yeah, fair enough. If you wanna invest in Fargo, North Dakota, then talk to these guys and they'll tell you who their team is.
Josh Koth: They're called Black Ridge Bank, and they're very investor-friendly. The guy that we talked to, he gets it... And he has the least amount of hoops that we've ever had to jump through when talking to lenders.
Joe Fairless: Yup.
Josh Koth: And then once you have a relationship built up, then it's just a point of -- we just send him "Here's another one we've bought. Here's the address, here's the amount we'd like to pull out." He knows that we're making good deals and they're gonna be well within his risk tolerance.
Joe Fairless: And what is that risk tolerance?
Josh Koth: Well, if we can get something -- typically in Fargo-Moorhead here the tax-assessed value will be about 10%-15% below the market value of a property... So if we can buy a property for 80% of tax-assessed value, he has no problem giving us that amount of money, because he knows he's still a good 20%-30% below market value.
Joe Fairless: Okay, that's pretty easy.
Jack Hoss: It's important to note that this is a relationship that's been built up over the past two years, for him to get this comfortable... But we've heard time and time again, by other podcasts and training materials - it's those local banks, with that local, more intimate relationship that you're gonna get this type of return and relationship built up. We haven't had a lot of success with the larger banks and corporations...
Josh Koth: Yeah, because they write everything in-house, and make all the underwriting decisions in-house, and they hold the loans, they don't sell them off. So we're not having to check a bunch of boxes that Wells-Fargo or Bank of America would require you to do in order to sell the loan.
And I think the terms are -- I don't even remember... They're like 4-something percent, amortised over 20 years of the 5-year balloon... Pretty typical.
Joe Fairless: On single-family homes, the 5-year balloon?
Josh Koth: Yeah.
Joe Fairless: And what are your thoughts on doing that type of loan, versus 30 years...
Josh Koth: That was just what was offered to us, so we didn't really have a choice... [laughter] But honestly, the average length -- we were just discussing this with him the other day - of a loan in this type of situation is about three and a half years, so typically we'll have either sold it, maybe wholesaled it to another investor, sold it to an occupant, or rolled it into something else. Rarely does the five-year mark ever get hit, and if it does, we just re-up.
People tend to get scared of balloons, like "Oh my god, I'm gonna have to come up with $100,000 all of a sudden one day", and really, that's not a reason to stop, because it's a lot easier to reorganize debt on properties you own, than it is to acquire new property. So it's not that we don't consider it a problem, but we'd much rather have that problem, if you wanna call it a problem.
Joe Fairless: Sure.
Josh Koth: I'm just reshuffling the debt five years down the road.
Joe Fairless: As buy and hold investors, how do you think about the five-year timeframe where you said you might just get a new loan, but I think you just said most likely you're gonna be done with that project... So how are you being a buy and hold investor, but being done with the projects within five years?
Josh Koth: You just never know what you're gonna do? Our mantra is if you buy it cheap enough, all exit strategies are possible... So sometimes you need cash, so you have to liquidate one or two, and we're not afraid to do that if we need to. If we know we're gonna hold it for the long, long term, eventually I'm sure we'll roll it into a like a portfolio type of loan, and maybe see if we can put together a package.
We've discussed this with them as an option, too. Say, take ten of these that we know are really solid, we're gonna hang onto these long-term, and just roll them into one longer-term loan. That's an option, too. We've only been doing this for two years and a couple months, so...
Joe Fairless: Are you gonna create a management company? I thought I'd be coy about it, but that didn't work...
Josh Koth: No, we have no problem paying vendors for what they're good at, and outsourcing things; we've just hired a local property manager to handle all the properties, and from day one we figured that expense into each deal, and we have somebody locally here manage everything.
Joe Fairless: Based on your experience, what is your best real estate investing advice ever?
Josh Koth: I've got one, but I'm gonna let Jack go first.
Jack Hoss: Well, I actually think my biggest one for me was get your mindset and know your numbers. I know that there's a lot of analysis paralysis around real estate investing, but we also find that in our group people will do a deal for the sake of getting a deal done, instead of understanding your numbers, staying true to it, and then strike when the iron is hot. It's great to have all of your numbers and your relationships in line and get that house in order, but you have to take that action when you are presented with the proper opportunity.
Josh Koth: The proppertunity... [laughter]
Joe Fairless: I like that one.
Josh Koth: My advice was to take action, even in the face of fear. I was just talking to a gentleman at our meetup last night, and he said he wrote his first offer and he was sick to his stomach. He thought he was gonna throw up. It was an all-cash offer, and then he called the agent back and canceled it and said [unintelligible 00:20:00.02] and action will cure all those fears. Because if he writes five offers a day for the next month, by the end of the month he's not gonna be queasy when he writes offers anymore.
So I say no matter what, figure your minimum standards out that you wanna get out of a deal, and stick to that; figure out what price you wanna offer on each property based on that... And our mantra is the asking price is meaningless. We just figure out what we would pay... And just start writing offers like crazy.
That's the number one thing when I talk to people that are just getting going, and they say "I can't find any deals." I say "Well, how many offers have you written?" They say "Well, there's no deals out there." I say, "Well, you figure out the price you would pay, and offer that", and just do it consistently, so many a day, and I guarantee you'll do a deal eventually. And if it's a true deal, even if you don't have the money raised, the money will come, because people will want to be involved in a true deal.
Joe Fairless: On the money raise part, what terms do you provide to your private money people?
Josh Koth: Well, what we say is "What would you need to be able to do this deal?" [laughter]
Joe Fairless: "70% return in two seconds. Now, what terms do you offer?" [laughter]
Jack Hoss: Sold!
Joe Fairless: Oh, really? I'd like to do a deal with you then!
Josh Koth: You never wanna volunteer your highest rate that you'd be willing to pay right out of the gate, because you might be leaving money on the table. We're just going in under the assumption that their money, if it's sitting there in a CD or some other type of under-performing investment, if we can double or triple that rate of return, in something that's secured by actual real estate, virtually no risk, we feel confident just asking. In our minds, we have our upper limit that we would go to.
Joe Fairless: What's the upper limit?
Josh Koth: 12%. One percent a month is something that we would be comfortable paying for a short-term use of money... Because really, we're just using the money for 30 days, typically, until we can get a cash-out refi down.
Joe Fairless: And in that case do they "only" make 1% on their money?
Josh Koth: Yeah. If we borrowed $100,000, they'd make $1,000 if we held the money for 30 days.
Joe Fairless: And people do that, huh?
Josh Koth: Oh, yeah, they do. And we try to keep their money out in perpetuity. We don't say "Here's a dollar. See ya!"
Joe Fairless: $100,000 and make $1,000... I don't know, maybe my mind is skewed, but I wouldn't think that would be worth the effort.
Josh Koth: Well, that's [unintelligible 00:22:33.23]
Joe Fairless: Yeah, but it's 1% in reality... Oh, but if they keep it, you just keep rolling it. Okay, I hear ya.
Jack Hoss: We have quite a few investors who -- they will lend us the 100k, but now it's just one deal after another. Over a year's time, that's...
Joe Fairless: Yeah, 12% is great.
Jack Hoss: And it's guaranteed.
Josh Koth: It's exceeding what they're getting elsewhere.
Joe Fairless: You just said "guaranteed." That was Jack... Jack, you just said that was guaranteed - do you want another pass at that? [laughter]
Josh Koth: Well, the 1% per month is guaranteed; it's just a question of how much money do we have of theirs out at any one time.
Joe Fairless: Well, it's not guaranteed though... If your business goes flat, if the property goes away... There's some scenario I guarantee you an attorney who's smarter than me can come up with where it's not guaranteed. No return is guaranteed in real estate.
Josh Koth: But Joe, that's scarcity mindset. We don't like to think that way.
Joe Fairless: No, it's legal. It's liability. It's "not getting sued" mindset, it's not scarcity.
Josh Koth: Their Apple stock that they own could also go to zero too, so...
Joe Fairless: Sure, there's risk.
Josh Koth: It's much less risky than that.
Joe Fairless: I'll agree with you on that, but there's no guarantee of a return, in my opinion. Maybe your attorney says otherwise, but I do security offerings for our deals, and maybe my mind is just conditioned to approach it that way.
Josh Koth: You can never say 100% anything.
Joe Fairless: Well, no, just to not guarantee returns.
Josh Koth: Right. I guess we just haven't had that problem yet... Knock on wood, right?
Joe Fairless: Fair enough, fair enough. We're gonna do a lightning round. Are you two ready for the Best Ever Lightning Round?
Jack Hoss: Let's do it.
Josh Koth: Yeah.
Joe Fairless: Alright, cool. First, a quick word from our Best Ever partners.
Break: [00:24:21.25] to [00:25:05.12]
Joe Fairless: Best ever book you've read?
Josh Koth: The Cashflow Quadrant, by Robert Kiyosaki.
Jack Hoss: And I would say The Traveler's Gift.
Joe Fairless: Who wrote that one?
Jack Hoss: Andy Andrews.
Joe Fairless: What's it about?
Jack Hoss: It's all mindset, and it's actually kind of a Sci-Fi time travel... The person is about to experience death, and goes through back in time and experiences different life lessons from historical figures.
Joe Fairless: Best ever deal you two have done, that we haven't talked about?
Josh Koth: One time there was a house on the MLS listed for 80k, and I ran the numbers and realized the only way to make a profit was if I got it for 30k. My agent laughed, said they'll never take that... And he said "Do you want me to call the listing agent, see if they'll take that?" I said, "No, put it in writing. Let's just take a swing at it." And the next day he called and said "Dude, they took it. They didn't even counter."
Joe Fairless: [laughs]
Josh Koth: Ever since then, every deal he does or any deal we do, always in writing.
Joe Fairless: Wow.
Josh Koth: That taught us a huge lesson... And to always submit the offer; even if you think there's no chance in hell, they're gonna take it, submit it anyways.
Jack Hoss: And that's a great lesson to find that team member on the realtor side who's willing to have that steel cup.
Joe Fairless: Yes, absolutely. What's a mistake you two have made on a transaction?
Josh Koth: Sometimes rehab creep is bad. You think "Okay, I'm gonna spend 20k to get this rent-ready or to flip it", and "Oh, while we're at it, let's change this and this..." and next thing you know you're at 30k, and guess where that 10k is coming out of? Directly out of your profits. You've gotta remember, you're not living in the property. It doesn't need to be featured in Better Homes and Gardens. There's a limit where your maximum profit will be reached. Don't exceed that. We've done that a couple times, and [unintelligible 00:26:49.27].
Joe Fairless: What's the best ever way you like to give back?
Jack Hoss: I actually have been volunteering at a youth entrepreneurship day here in town, and it's been great... And I had my kids involved. That's something that I really enjoy doing - helping the kids have the right mindset right off the bat.
Josh Koth: I actually just got hooked up with Junior Achievement locally here, and I'm gonna go in and speak about entrepreneurship to elementary school and high school kids. And honestly, we kind of do the podcast as our way of giving something back to investors that are just getting started. It does help us too, obviously, because just talking about the material is helpful to us, to just go through it all in an organized fashion... But that's kind of our way of giving back to newbies, because obviously we don't charge for the podcast or anything, so...
Joe Fairless: And how can the Best Ever listeners get in touch with you two?
Josh Koth: Go to ReiRookies.com. That has a link to the podcast, and you can fill out the contact form and reach out to us on there.
Joe Fairless: Excellent. Yeah, all the podcast interviews are there, and you can see Josh juggling a house in a microphone, and Jack standing there with full confidence, just kind of smirking at you, like "What's next, buddy?" I love it.
Well, I enjoyed our conversation. Thank you for being on the show, for talking about how you two partnered up, how it's not necessarily a divide and conquer with certain responsibilities, it's focusing on "one person does one deal..." Perhaps there's a bit of overlap, but one person is a primary person for a deal, and then you've got an entity where you partner up on, with all the deals... And how you do the business model - finding deals that are cheap, and then getting them under contract with private money, and then having a local lender put a loan on the property, you pay back the private money with their interest, and now you've got a long-term rental, and then you've gotta decide what to do with it within five years, which is either sell it, or re-up on a loan, or maybe eventually you'll put it under a commercial loan, with a portfolio loan.
Thanks for being on the show. I hope you two have a best ever day, and we'll talk to you soon.
Josh Koth: Thanks, Joe. It was awesome.
Jack Hoss: Thank you.

Jack and Josh worked together at their W2 job, sitting across the cubicle from each other every day and scheming of a way to break out. One day Josh’s whole team was laid off, he took advantage of that and started building a portfolio after emptying his IRA. If you enjoyed today’s episode remember to subscribe in iTunes and leave us a review!

 

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Jack Hoss & Josh Koth – The REI Rookies Real Estate Backgrounds:

  • Hosts of the real estate podcast REI Rookies
  • Focused on creating wealth through conventional and creative real estate investing
  • Valley Property Partners – single family, buy and hold investors
  • Share their experiences and lessons learned as they work towards financial freedom
  • Based in Fargo, North Dakota
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Read Full Transcript

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, Jack Hoss and Josh Koth. How are you doing, Jack and Josh?
Jack Hoss: Hey, it's great to be on your show!
Josh Koth: Doing well up here in the upper Midwest. Summer finally hit... We're hoping it'll last more than a week this time.
Joe Fairless: Yes, fingers crossed for me, too. By the time this episode airs, I think you will be nice and toasty, that's for sure. Looking forward to our conversation. A little bit more about Jack and Josh - they are the hosts of the real estate podcast called REI Rookies Podcast. They also have a company called Value Property Partners, where their main focus is buy and hold single-family homes, and they do some things to acquire wealth to buy those properties, like wholesaling, and fix and flipping.
On the podcast, they share their experience and lessons that they learn as they work towards their financial freedom, and they interview others as well. With that being said, do you two wanna give the Best Ever listeners a little bit more about your background and your current focus?
Josh Koth: Sure. Basically, we were both in IT and we were cubicle mates; we sat across the aisle from each other, and we would scheme how we could escape the cube life. We knew that passive income was the way to do that, we had both read Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and that kind of red-pilled us. Then it was just a matter of finding out the method of how to do that. All roads kind of led to real estate through our research, and then I was lucky enough to get canned with my whole team...
Joe Fairless: Congratulations.
Josh Koth: Yeah, thank you... So I suddenly had the time to go look at properties all day. So I started purchasing a few, and then just built up a portfolio over the next 6-9 month or so, and then Jack was watching from the cubicle and we decided to partner up. He just quit his job this year, and now we're both doing it full-time and lovin' it. That's my quick version.
Joe Fairless: Yeah, when you got fired, you started looking at properties and buying them and built up your portfolio... Did you get a severance package?
Josh Koth: No... I actually drained my IRA.
Joe Fairless: Okay.
Josh Koth: Fully red-pilled.
Joe Fairless: So you got fired, your income that's coming in from your W-2 job is no more, and then you decide to start investing money and buying properties... Do you have a significant other in your life, besides your business partner?
Josh Koth: Yeah. She stays home with the kids though, so she wasn't making any income for a few years. And actually, I had another side gig as a photographer.
Joe Fairless: Well, that's very lucrative, I'm sure.
Josh Koth: Yeah, right... Definitely, in this day and age.
Joe Fairless: Right. So what was the conversation like with your wife when you were like "Okay, I got fired, so we don't have any income coming in, but don't worry, I'd like to take the money that we do have and then spend it somewhere."
Josh Koth: Well, it's really simple, actually. I showed her a comparison chart of our average returns of the IRA over the last 20 years, and I said if I was to pull all this money out and pay the taxes and penalties and invest it in real estate, assuming - I think I used a 10% or 11% rate or return, that I felt I was comfortable enough to guarantee that I would get... I had made up all the taxes and penalties within a couple years, and then my projection was doubled by five years, and then by 15 years or so it quadrupled... Versus leaving the money in. So she was pretty sold on that idea. She just is a cheerleader; she didn't really know anything about the business per se or want to be directly involved, but she supported me in that choice; that was all I needed to blast out of the shoot.
Joe Fairless: And Jack, what are your thoughts about this?
Jack Hoss: Well, I actually think that the team being laid off - I was on that same team, and about two weeks before the team got let go I actually got a different role.
Joe Fairless: Within the same company?
Jack Hoss: Within the same company. So I actually think I took it harder than Josh. When I saw that whole team get let go, I realized that the corporate job wasn't as secure that I thought it was. Soon after that is when I bought my first duplex.
Joe Fairless: Got it. How long ago was your first duplex? When did that happen?
Jack Hoss: It's been...
Josh Koth: The spring of 2016.
Joe Fairless: So about two years ago you got your first duplex, and now you two are partners... When did you two partner up?
Josh Koth: Basically, I bought a few myself, Jack bought a few himself, and then we just kind of realized it'd be smart of us to double our efforts. We totally believe in the 1+1 can equal 5. Your accountability is there, your efforts can be multiplied... So we started buying a few together, and just have never looked back. That was about a year and a half ago... So about nine months into the journey or so we decided "Let's just partner up." I think we've purchased every property in that company's name that we formed together ever since.
Joe Fairless: How do you divide responsibilities? Are things gonna get awkward? [laughter] Well, I should have to do all of this, but I do have to, unfortunately...
Josh Koth: I guess we got lucky, because when we entered into the partnership we knew each other fairly well, but you never know someone's true personality until you're trying to make a living with them. It can, like you said, get awkward, or get ugly. So I think we both got lucky though in that our personalities are very even-keeled, and we're both hardworking, so we just divvied up tasks, and as people were able to do them, we were both putting in the time. There was no question of either one of us putting in the hours.
Things were happening, and deals were getting done, and we were being successful. We haven't reached the point where we've had to question anybody's motivation yet... Knock on wood that that doesn't happen.
Joe Fairless: But specifically, what do each of you do? And if you need to use a deal as an example... I'd just like to know who does what.
Josh Koth: We kind of both talk to sellers when we do direct marketing... We can almost split that up evenly. It's really kind of you kind of go out and find the connection, and if they bring you something, then you kind of take that deal to fruition. We don't really have things split up as far as one person does acquisition, one does disposition... It's kind of a blend.
I have my contacts that people know me and they bring me direct referrals. We both respond to calls that come in through our direct marketing, we both will text our agent that [unintelligible 00:07:41.05] offers on the MLS... It's kind of evenly split down the middle so far. I think over time we'll maybe settle into more official roles, where we divide up the tasks...
Jack Hoss: Yeah, I think what's really helped us is that we do have a CRM that keeps us all accountable and on track. I know what deal he's working on and I he knows what deal I'm working on, and it kind of works out from there.
Joe Fairless: So it's almost you divide and conquer based on deals, not necessarily specific responsibilities within each deal. Okay. What CRM do you use?
Josh Koth: Rei.soluions.
Joe Fairless: Why do you use that?
Josh Koth: We did some mentoring with Matt Theriault, from Epic Real Estate, and it was something that his team teaches how to implement. We're believers in not reinventing the wheel, and if something has something that they're working and they can get it implemented in our business quickly, then... We just had them do it for us, basically, so we didn't have to sit there and learn a CRM from the ground up. They just got it going for us and we just took off running.
Joe Fairless: How much have you two invested in mentoring?
Josh Koth: Oh, geez... We've gone to a couple events, and paid for mentoring, traveled a couple times; we're going to Indianapolis at the end of May... I don't know, probably 50k total.
Joe Fairless: And how do you justify that from an ROI standpoint?
Josh Koth: Since we left there and paid for them to implement the CRM, our deal flow at least doubled, versus what we were doing on our own previously, if not tripled. In fact, we've done more transactions as of May 1st than we had all last year. So the proof is kind of in the pudding there... And it was a leap of faith though, because you don't think "What kind of return am I gonna get on this?" We didn't look at mentoring as an expense, we looked at it as an investment.
We don't wanna reinvent the wheel, so if there's somebody doing what we wanna be doing, we'd rather just replicate their model and do it in our market. We're in the upper Midwest and farther North Dakota here; there's not a lot of people doing direct mail strategies and all the other things that are happening in bigger markets... So it was really a wide open playing field. When we talk to sellers, a lot of times we're the only one that's ever mailed them anything... That's a good spot to be in, right? Not a lot of competition for off-market properties here.
Joe Fairless: And can you two talk to us about your business model?
Jack Hoss: I think we're unique in this market as well. We still get about half of our deals off the MLS, but the majority of them come through referrals. Josh and I - part of that mentorship investment that we make is through joining as many networking groups locally as we can. Whether it is coming from a realtor, through a pocket listing, or somebody bringing a property to our attention... That's been one of our best investments so far.
Josh Koth: Yeah, and our basic business model is we use private money to make cash offers, with no contingencies on properties, in order to get the deepest discount. Then we try to buy them cheap enough where we can go to our local regional bank here and do a cash-out refi, pay back the private lender with interest and pull out all the money used to acquire the deal, and then just keep doing that over and over.
That allowed us to go from one deal every few months to one deal a month, to now several a month... Just because now it's just a matter of how fast can we purchase a property, get the deed recorded, do a cash-out refi... Now it's just about streamlining the process and increasing our conversion rate with sellers, and just getting more marketing out there too, to just get more deals in the front end of the funnel.
Joe Fairless: Sounds like in order for a listener to replicate this type of model they'll need deals, they'll need private money, and they'll need a lender to cash them out. Any other major important piece of that puzzle that you've mentioned?
Josh Koth: I guess networking and just getting out there and telling everyone what you do and being a part of as many networking groups as possible; that's a big piece of it too, but I guess that just kind of plays into the lead gen... But that's something that people can do when they're getting started; it doesn't cost anything, right? They can go to Chamber of Commerce events here, local BNI, your Master Networks chapters... You can go attend all these events for free, and just get your name out there and tell people what you're doing.
On our podcast we kind of focus on beginner investors and kind of journaling our journey from the beginning, and we kind of try and boil everything down... So that's one way that people can really take action if they don't have a lot of money for marketing.
Joe Fairless: Any specific example where you've seen -- the Chamber of Commerce, or a meetup or something result in money, profit to you?
Josh Koth: Yeah, in fact just last night when we were at our real estate investor -- we don't have a REIA club in town here, so we took over the local real estate investor meetup group...
Joe Fairless: How did you take it over?
Josh Koth: Well, there was a different guy running it, and we just became so active in it and tried to help out as much as we could that when he left to move to a different area of the country he just asked us "Hey, do you guys wanna take this over?"
Joe Fairless: Why would he ever wanna leave Fargo, North Dakota...? I don't understand.
Josh Koth: For a lady.
Joe Fairless: Oh, okay... There we go. He followed love. Okay, fair enough. That's even worse... [laughs] No, I'm kidding.
Josh Koth: Yeah, so it was for love...
Joe Fairless: Alright, fair enough.
Josh Koth: So when he left and he asked us to take over, it was just a matter of being in a position where we were so active that it was kind of an obvious choice for him to go to us, because he knew that we were passionate about it, and we had attended every event, and we tried to give a lot of good value.
Joe Fairless: And how many people were regularly attending that? Is it a monthly meetup?
Josh Koth: Yeah, first Monday of every month.
Joe Fairless: Okay. How many people regularly attend?
Josh Koth: Geez, last night it was almost a record attendance; it was like 30-something. Typically it's 10 to 20.
Joe Fairless: Cool, cool. Anyway, I interrupted you because I wanted to hear how you took it over.
Josh Koth: While we were there, I got a text saying someone had accepted our offer on a house here in town... And it was another investor group that was moving up into multifamily, and they needed the capital because I think there was some syndication going on and they had the opportunity to buy in at a higher level if they could sell this last house they owned... So actually they gave it to us at a great discount, and that was directly as a result of just being in front of people. Because we didn't get it through marketing, we didn't get it through any other paid source, it was just for being out there... And in fact, I think it was somebody we use to work with.
It's a free marketing method - just telling everybody what you do. He saw that we were doing deals, gave us a shot at it, we made an offer, and that was it. He accepted.
Joe Fairless: With your business model you find deals where you can buy on a deep discount, and then you buy those with private money. You then get a lender -- after you close, you then get a lender to do a cash-out refinance, or actually just put a loan on it... So what are the loan terms and what lenders do you use that allows you to -- or I guess it's just any loan, so I guess they're not allowing you... But what lender?
Josh Koth: I don't think the name will help, just because it's a local--
Joe Fairless: Yeah, fair enough. If you wanna invest in Fargo, North Dakota, then talk to these guys and they'll tell you who their team is.
Josh Koth: They're called Black Ridge Bank, and they're very investor-friendly. The guy that we talked to, he gets it... And he has the least amount of hoops that we've ever had to jump through when talking to lenders.
Joe Fairless: Yup.
Josh Koth: And then once you have a relationship built up, then it's just a point of -- we just send him "Here's another one we've bought. Here's the address, here's the amount we'd like to pull out." He knows that we're making good deals and they're gonna be well within his risk tolerance.
Joe Fairless: And what is that risk tolerance?
Josh Koth: Well, if we can get something -- typically in Fargo-Moorhead here the tax-assessed value will be about 10%-15% below the market value of a property... So if we can buy a property for 80% of tax-assessed value, he has no problem giving us that amount of money, because he knows he's still a good 20%-30% below market value.
Joe Fairless: Okay, that's pretty easy.
Jack Hoss: It's important to note that this is a relationship that's been built up over the past two years, for him to get this comfortable... But we've heard time and time again, by other podcasts and training materials - it's those local banks, with that local, more intimate relationship that you're gonna get this type of return and relationship built up. We haven't had a lot of success with the larger banks and corporations...
Josh Koth: Yeah, because they write everything in-house, and make all the underwriting decisions in-house, and they hold the loans, they don't sell them off. So we're not having to check a bunch of boxes that Wells-Fargo or Bank of America would require you to do in order to sell the loan.
And I think the terms are -- I don't even remember... They're like 4-something percent, amortised over 20 years of the 5-year balloon... Pretty typical.
Joe Fairless: On single-family homes, the 5-year balloon?
Josh Koth: Yeah.
Joe Fairless: And what are your thoughts on doing that type of loan, versus 30 years...
Josh Koth: That was just what was offered to us, so we didn't really have a choice... [laughter] But honestly, the average length -- we were just discussing this with him the other day - of a loan in this type of situation is about three and a half years, so typically we'll have either sold it, maybe wholesaled it to another investor, sold it to an occupant, or rolled it into something else. Rarely does the five-year mark ever get hit, and if it does, we just re-up.
People tend to get scared of balloons, like "Oh my god, I'm gonna have to come up with $100,000 all of a sudden one day", and really, that's not a reason to stop, because it's a lot easier to reorganize debt on properties you own, than it is to acquire new property. So it's not that we don't consider it a problem, but we'd much rather have that problem, if you wanna call it a problem.
Joe Fairless: Sure.
Josh Koth: I'm just reshuffling the debt five years down the road.
Joe Fairless: As buy and hold investors, how do you think about the five-year timeframe where you said you might just get a new loan, but I think you just said most likely you're gonna be done with that project... So how are you being a buy and hold investor, but being done with the projects within five years?
Josh Koth: You just never know what you're gonna do? Our mantra is if you buy it cheap enough, all exit strategies are possible... So sometimes you need cash, so you have to liquidate one or two, and we're not afraid to do that if we need to. If we know we're gonna hold it for the long, long term, eventually I'm sure we'll roll it into a like a portfolio type of loan, and maybe see if we can put together a package.
We've discussed this with them as an option, too. Say, take ten of these that we know are really solid, we're gonna hang onto these long-term, and just roll them into one longer-term loan. That's an option, too. We've only been doing this for two years and a couple months, so...
Joe Fairless: Are you gonna create a management company? I thought I'd be coy about it, but that didn't work...
Josh Koth: No, we have no problem paying vendors for what they're good at, and outsourcing things; we've just hired a local property manager to handle all the properties, and from day one we figured that expense into each deal, and we have somebody locally here manage everything.
Joe Fairless: Based on your experience, what is your best real estate investing advice ever?
Josh Koth: I've got one, but I'm gonna let Jack go first.
Jack Hoss: Well, I actually think my biggest one for me was get your mindset and know your numbers. I know that there's a lot of analysis paralysis around real estate investing, but we also find that in our group people will do a deal for the sake of getting a deal done, instead of understanding your numbers, staying true to it, and then strike when the iron is hot. It's great to have all of your numbers and your relationships in line and get that house in order, but you have to take that action when you are presented with the proper opportunity.
Josh Koth: The proppertunity... [laughter]
Joe Fairless: I like that one.
Josh Koth: My advice was to take action, even in the face of fear. I was just talking to a gentleman at our meetup last night, and he said he wrote his first offer and he was sick to his stomach. He thought he was gonna throw up. It was an all-cash offer, and then he called the agent back and canceled it and said [unintelligible 00:20:00.02] and action will cure all those fears. Because if he writes five offers a day for the next month, by the end of the month he's not gonna be queasy when he writes offers anymore.
So I say no matter what, figure your minimum standards out that you wanna get out of a deal, and stick to that; figure out what price you wanna offer on each property based on that... And our mantra is the asking price is meaningless. We just figure out what we would pay... And just start writing offers like crazy.
That's the number one thing when I talk to people that are just getting going, and they say "I can't find any deals." I say "Well, how many offers have you written?" They say "Well, there's no deals out there." I say, "Well, you figure out the price you would pay, and offer that", and just do it consistently, so many a day, and I guarantee you'll do a deal eventually. And if it's a true deal, even if you don't have the money raised, the money will come, because people will want to be involved in a true deal.
Joe Fairless: On the money raise part, what terms do you provide to your private money people?
Josh Koth: Well, what we say is "What would you need to be able to do this deal?" [laughter]
Joe Fairless: "70% return in two seconds. Now, what terms do you offer?" [laughter]
Jack Hoss: Sold!
Joe Fairless: Oh, really? I'd like to do a deal with you then!
Josh Koth: You never wanna volunteer your highest rate that you'd be willing to pay right out of the gate, because you might be leaving money on the table. We're just going in under the assumption that their money, if it's sitting there in a CD or some other type of under-performing investment, if we can double or triple that rate of return, in something that's secured by actual real estate, virtually no risk, we feel confident just asking. In our minds, we have our upper limit that we would go to.
Joe Fairless: What's the upper limit?
Josh Koth: 12%. One percent a month is something that we would be comfortable paying for a short-term use of money... Because really, we're just using the money for 30 days, typically, until we can get a cash-out refi down.
Joe Fairless: And in that case do they "only" make 1% on their money?
Josh Koth: Yeah. If we borrowed $100,000, they'd make $1,000 if we held the money for 30 days.
Joe Fairless: And people do that, huh?
Josh Koth: Oh, yeah, they do. And we try to keep their money out in perpetuity. We don't say "Here's a dollar. See ya!"
Joe Fairless: $100,000 and make $1,000... I don't know, maybe my mind is skewed, but I wouldn't think that would be worth the effort.
Josh Koth: Well, that's [unintelligible 00:22:33.23]
Joe Fairless: Yeah, but it's 1% in reality... Oh, but if they keep it, you just keep rolling it. Okay, I hear ya.
Jack Hoss: We have quite a few investors who -- they will lend us the 100k, but now it's just one deal after another. Over a year's time, that's...
Joe Fairless: Yeah, 12% is great.
Jack Hoss: And it's guaranteed.
Josh Koth: It's exceeding what they're getting elsewhere.
Joe Fairless: You just said "guaranteed." That was Jack... Jack, you just said that was guaranteed - do you want another pass at that? [laughter]
Josh Koth: Well, the 1% per month is guaranteed; it's just a question of how much money do we have of theirs out at any one time.
Joe Fairless: Well, it's not guaranteed though... If your business goes flat, if the property goes away... There's some scenario I guarantee you an attorney who's smarter than me can come up with where it's not guaranteed. No return is guaranteed in real estate.
Josh Koth: But Joe, that's scarcity mindset. We don't like to think that way.
Joe Fairless: No, it's legal. It's liability. It's "not getting sued" mindset, it's not scarcity.
Josh Koth: Their Apple stock that they own could also go to zero too, so...
Joe Fairless: Sure, there's risk.
Josh Koth: It's much less risky than that.
Joe Fairless: I'll agree with you on that, but there's no guarantee of a return, in my opinion. Maybe your attorney says otherwise, but I do security offerings for our deals, and maybe my mind is just conditioned to approach it that way.
Josh Koth: You can never say 100% anything.
Joe Fairless: Well, no, just to not guarantee returns.
Josh Koth: Right. I guess we just haven't had that problem yet... Knock on wood, right?
Joe Fairless: Fair enough, fair enough. We're gonna do a lightning round. Are you two ready for the Best Ever Lightning Round?
Jack Hoss: Let's do it.
Josh Koth: Yeah.
Joe Fairless: Alright, cool. First, a quick word from our Best Ever partners.
Break: [00:24:21.25] to [00:25:05.12]
Joe Fairless: Best ever book you've read?
Josh Koth: The Cashflow Quadrant, by Robert Kiyosaki.
Jack Hoss: And I would say The Traveler's Gift.
Joe Fairless: Who wrote that one?
Jack Hoss: Andy Andrews.
Joe Fairless: What's it about?
Jack Hoss: It's all mindset, and it's actually kind of a Sci-Fi time travel... The person is about to experience death, and goes through back in time and experiences different life lessons from historical figures.
Joe Fairless: Best ever deal you two have done, that we haven't talked about?
Josh Koth: One time there was a house on the MLS listed for 80k, and I ran the numbers and realized the only way to make a profit was if I got it for 30k. My agent laughed, said they'll never take that... And he said "Do you want me to call the listing agent, see if they'll take that?" I said, "No, put it in writing. Let's just take a swing at it." And the next day he called and said "Dude, they took it. They didn't even counter."
Joe Fairless: [laughs]
Josh Koth: Ever since then, every deal he does or any deal we do, always in writing.
Joe Fairless: Wow.
Josh Koth: That taught us a huge lesson... And to always submit the offer; even if you think there's no chance in hell, they're gonna take it, submit it anyways.
Jack Hoss: And that's a great lesson to find that team member on the realtor side who's willing to have that steel cup.
Joe Fairless: Yes, absolutely. What's a mistake you two have made on a transaction?
Josh Koth: Sometimes rehab creep is bad. You think "Okay, I'm gonna spend 20k to get this rent-ready or to flip it", and "Oh, while we're at it, let's change this and this..." and next thing you know you're at 30k, and guess where that 10k is coming out of? Directly out of your profits. You've gotta remember, you're not living in the property. It doesn't need to be featured in Better Homes and Gardens. There's a limit where your maximum profit will be reached. Don't exceed that. We've done that a couple times, and [unintelligible 00:26:49.27].
Joe Fairless: What's the best ever way you like to give back?
Jack Hoss: I actually have been volunteering at a youth entrepreneurship day here in town, and it's been great... And I had my kids involved. That's something that I really enjoy doing - helping the kids have the right mindset right off the bat.
Josh Koth: I actually just got hooked up with Junior Achievement locally here, and I'm gonna go in and speak about entrepreneurship to elementary school and high school kids. And honestly, we kind of do the podcast as our way of giving something back to investors that are just getting started. It does help us too, obviously, because just talking about the material is helpful to us, to just go through it all in an organized fashion... But that's kind of our way of giving back to newbies, because obviously we don't charge for the podcast or anything, so...
Joe Fairless: And how can the Best Ever listeners get in touch with you two?
Josh Koth: Go to ReiRookies.com. That has a link to the podcast, and you can fill out the contact form and reach out to us on there.
Joe Fairless: Excellent. Yeah, all the podcast interviews are there, and you can see Josh juggling a house in a microphone, and Jack standing there with full confidence, just kind of smirking at you, like "What's next, buddy?" I love it.
Well, I enjoyed our conversation. Thank you for being on the show, for talking about how you two partnered up, how it's not necessarily a divide and conquer with certain responsibilities, it's focusing on "one person does one deal..." Perhaps there's a bit of overlap, but one person is a primary person for a deal, and then you've got an entity where you partner up on, with all the deals... And how you do the business model - finding deals that are cheap, and then getting them under contract with private money, and then having a local lender put a loan on the property, you pay back the private money with their interest, and now you've got a long-term rental, and then you've gotta decide what to do with it within five years, which is either sell it, or re-up on a loan, or maybe eventually you'll put it under a commercial loan, with a portfolio loan.
Thanks for being on the show. I hope you two have a best ever day, and we'll talk to you soon.
Josh Koth: Thanks, Joe. It was awesome.
Jack Hoss: Thank you.