Serial investor Brian Noel reflects on why— and how —he made the switch from single-family investments and a corporate career in sales to become a general partner on his own multifamily property.
During 40 years in sales, Brian Noel escalated his role into management positions. At one point, he was managing more than 4,000 people globally, spending much of his time bouncing between airports, and from one hotel to the next. But from day one, Brian had an interest in real estate as an investment strategy.
Real estate investment started for Brian as it does for many investors: in the form of single-family homes. On the hunt for appreciation, the timing of the market in the ’80s and ’90s wasn’t right, so Brian liquidated all his properties and invested in the stock market. After riding the highest of highs, then ultimately crashing into the lows by losing everything in 2000, it was back to the drawing board to find alternative investments to generate additional wealth.
“In 2005, as I’d moved throughout my career to different companies, I wound up with about a half-dozen different IRAs and was trying to figure out how I could consolidate those and seek alternatives beyond just the stock market to invest in,” Brian shared. “I discovered there was something called a self-directed IRA. So I put all of the retirement money I had into a self-directed IRA account and then used that to buy a rental property.”
Brian eventually sold the property and used the equity to purchase eight townhouses and condos.
“Instead of looking for appreciation, I was looking for cash flow… [so that I could] then use the extra cash to pay the mortgage down as fast as possible. Then in 2019, I kept looking at how much money I was paying every month in HOA fees and decided it might be better if I got rid of all these properties and went more into building,” he said.
Today, Brian is a general partner on his own 280-unit Class C multifamily apartment building in Houston, Texas. While his investment journey brought him to this point, it was his experience with the teams of people along the way that made it fulfilling and drove his excitement to continue investing this way.
“There are seven of us on the team. And it’s been an interesting journey to go through this because everybody has different experience levels in multifamily investing. There are a couple of people who are very experienced; they’ve been [general partners] on five, six, seven deals and have gone full cycle on a few deals,” Brian said. “Then there are other people, like myself, who are still what I would consider sort of a new general partner.”
As Brian has experienced growth in both professional and investing aspects of his life, he now finds joy in helping others get started and find their way on their investing journeys.
“I’ve had the chance to build teams, and then I’ve been an individual salesperson going out to focus on my own deals as well,” Brian reflected. “So at one point or another, I’ve kind of done it all, but for me, at this stage of life, it’s fun to be a part of a team and give back and help other people.”
Equally as crucial to building a team is being a productive part of one. Having the opportunity to have been a leader at prominent companies throughout his career as well as being a part of an investment decision-maker group, Brian firmly believes that communication and transparency are non-negotiables that must come with any individual into a team setting.
“When you’re taking other people’s money, you have to be incredibly conscientious about the fact that they’re trusting you with their hard-earned dollars. And, for me personally, I’m more worried about other people’s money than my own,” Brian said. “I also think you’ve got to communicate. And honestly, if you step back and think about it, there’s always something you can say, right? So just staying visible and staying in front of your investors, I think, is very important.”
Brian’s essential enjoyment and passion for real estate are at the foundation of all his investments that allow him to continue building his income.
“You do have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. You’ve got to enjoy it and you’ve got to be passionate,” Brian noted. “If you don’t want to do that and you don’t enjoy it, and you’re not passionate about it, then you shouldn’t do it.”
About the Author:
Leslie Chunta is a marketing consultant with nearly 15 years of experience in creating dynamic marketing programs and building brands for startups to enterprise organizations. She has worked agency- and client-side with high-growth companies that include Silicon Valley Bank, JPMorgan Chase, SailPoint, EMC, Spanning Cloud Apps, Ashcroft Capital, Netspend, and Universal Studios. www.thelabcollective.com
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an offer to buy or sell any securities or to make or consider any investment or course of action.