As he looked back on his real estate career, Jonathan Ghaly realized that he first worked for a syndicator before he started doing deals with one. In the mid-2000s, Jonathan got hired as a property manager for a 100-unit apartment building. On his first day, he was handed a keychain full of keys and a cell phone that rang non-stop.
Around 2007, the syndicator started to take risky gambles, unbeknownst to the tenants. He began to take on additional investors while subsequently not paying down the mortgage. With the economic crash, the syndicator turned all of the properties into foreclosure, leaving Jonathan to find his next steps.
“I learned a lot. He introduced me to ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad,’ and the cash flow game. I saw his mistakes, of course,” Jonathan recalled. “During the crash, I had my real estate license already, and no one was hiring. So I just said, ‘Well, I might as well try to sell real estate.’”
Jonathan’s real estate career started to flourish. He started with two deals his first year and steadily grew upwards. In 2013, he transitioned from only selling properties to buying properties of his own.
“I partnered with a friend because I was just too scared to pull the trigger in the beginning, and we bought eight units together,” Jonathan said. “I bought him out a few years later, and then I just kept buying more.”
Today, Jonathan’s portfolio consists of 15 rental properties and an assisted living facility, in addition to his investment in multifamily syndications. Reflecting on the community of people who helped elevate him to this place, he said it all started with one friend and a morning coffee session.
“I felt the need to call a friend of mine who I had helped buy his first couple of properties. He was a teacher and he quit to be a fix-and-flipper. I said, ‘I would love to just talk about this stuff — what we’re doing and what to invest in and what not to invest in — with you. Would you have any interest in meeting on Thursday mornings and having coffee at my house?’” Jonathan shared. “He said, ‘Perfect. My kids go to school right near there. I’ll drop them off and come over.’ This beautiful friendship came out of that, and we put everything on the table as far as investment stuff.”
Jonathan’s inner circle of like-minded investors continued to grow larger, with others interested in their open and honest discussion of real estate and real life.
“These investor-mentor meetings or inner circle meetings are amazing, even if it’s once a month. After my experience with it, I would highly recommend it to any investor because you never know what good can come out of it,” Jonathan said.
Shifting the Game Plan
Even with a trustworthy network, Jonathan Ghaly believes that the work is never done with self-education and believing in your own intuition on a deal.
“Experience is a big word in the industry. But even with that, a lot of people can have experience but still go through a protocol. So, are you like a machine just going through protocol without common sense? Or do you really understand real estate where you can get creative, and you can see through these blind spots? Because it’s all about shifting the game plan. Keep educating yourself in real estate, and don’t get distracted,” Jonathan shared. “I can get really distracted, but when I do all this research about these other things, I come back and realize it doesn’t beat the real estate return.”
The Importance of Trust
Reflecting on his journey to date, Jonathan Ghaly believes that the fundamental element of any successful real estate partnership is similar to that of marriage: trust. While some things are learned the hard way, it’s essential to surround yourself with a team that complements your strengths and can compensate for your weaknesses.
“Find a partner you can trust with your life because it is a marriage. I find myself constantly partnering with people who are exactly like me,” Jonathan said. “We should build our teams up so that the strengths and weaknesses, and skills and non-skills, are really evening out and covering everything across the board.”
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.
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