In today’s episode, Phil Boggia joins our host Ash Patel on the Best Ever Show. Phil is the director of acquisitions at NNN Invest, where they raise equity to buy existing and value-add NNN properties and vacant retail. A former U.S. Marshal and special agent for Homeland Security, Phil pivoted to residential real estate before discovering triple-net leasing. He then made the move to retail investing, focusing on single-tenant NNN investments. In this episode, Phil discusses how he mitigates risk in single-tenant retail, how to land national tenants, and why putting low money down isn’t always the best strategy.
Phil Boggia | Real Estate Background
- Director of Acquisitions / NNN Invest
- Raises equity to buy both existing cash flow NNN properties and value-add, vacant retail.
- Based in: Bergen County, NJ
- Say hi to him at:
- Best Ever Book: Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
Click here to learn more about our sponsors:
Ash Patel (00:24.086)
Hello, best ever listeners. Welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I'm Ash Patel and I'm with today's guest, Phil Boggia. Phil is joining us from Bergen County, New Jersey. He is the director of acquisitions at TripleNet Invest where they raise equity to buy both existing cash flowing and value add TripleNet properties and vacant retail. Phil's portfolio consists of about a dozen value add single tenant retail properties across the US.
Phil, thank you for joining us and how are you today?
Phil Boggia (00:55.005)
Great, thanks. I used to listen to this podcast every day on my commute to work while I was trying to figure out how to get into real estate full time.
Ash Patel (01:03.074)
What do you mean you used to listen to it? What do you listen to now?
Phil Boggia (01:06.147)
Still this, still this.
Ash Patel (01:09.782)
Hey, listen, man, we're glad to have you on here, Phil. If you would, can you share a little bit more about your background and what you're focused on now?
Phil Boggia (01:16.701)
Sure. So I was in federal law enforcement for 14 years. I was with the US Marshals for eight years, and then I was a special agent with Homeland Security for six years. About 12 years ago, my supervisor at the time told me that he made more money from real estate than he did from the job. And I was interested in that, right? So...
And I'd ask him some questions about it. And he wouldn't talk to me until I read the book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad. So it took me some time. I eventually read the book. It had a huge impact on me. Um, then he and I connected. I bought, he helped me buy my first two family. And then over the next few years, I scaled up a little bit. Um, and then I discovered net lease, uh, retail.
Um, that's when I came across Joel Owens on Bigger Pockets and he helped me transition out of my residential properties into some net lease properties. Um, so I tried, I tried to stay in touch with Joel as much as I could, because that's, that's when I realized I really wanted to be involved in retail real estate. And, um, you know, he was an expert in the space and I just, I liked what he was doing and how he was doing it. Um, so I just wasn't sure how to get involved with him.
It was actually something you said on the podcast, um, which was something along the lines of you have to be valuable to someone in order to, you know, get around them, right? To like, um, get around the people who are doing what you want to do. So, um, as soon as I heard that I sent Joel an email and said, let me work for you for free for a position that he had open, um, for syndication. He said, okay. And here I am today doing acquisitions for him full time.
Ash Patel (03:08.534)
Wow, good for you. I love that story. Joel Owens is legendary. He is on BiggerPockets often. He is a buyer's rep for commercial properties. What was it that you were doing for Joel?
Phil Boggia (03:22.681)
Well, so I was a client of Joel's at the time when I was still working. So he had a position open for director of acquisitions because he was looking to build out the syndication side of his business. So that's what I did. I started working for him and then it just, it rolled into a full-time position.
Ash Patel (03:44.994)
Good for you. I love that story. Phil, when you were in buying houses and duplexes, you must have had a goal of acquiring a certain number of doors, a certain amount of passive income that you wanted to achieve. What made your mind shift into triple net retail?
Phil Boggia (04:02.769)
So my goal was to reach a cash flow number where I was comfortable pivoting careers. I quickly saw with residential real estate that it was difficult for me to scale because of the ebb and flow of just variable expenses. I just couldn't get a steady income to where I was comfortable. It was net lease where you could actually, model out your income, you know, a predictable stream of income there. So that just, it just made more sense to me.
Ash Patel (04:39.39)
Is your goal still a passive income number or is it a net worth number?
Phil Boggia (04:46.517)
Um, I would say passive income. I'm still pretty focused on monthly income.
Ash Patel (04:55.307)
Why is that?
Phil Boggia (04:57.557)
Um, I don't know. I guess. Yeah, yeah.
Ash Patel (04:58.686)
And there's no right or wrong answer, right? I'm just really curious.
Phil Boggia (05:03.789)
Um, I guess it's because, um, you know, my net worth, you know, that that's great. Um, it's just that. I guess the, the monthly cashflow is something that is more useful to me than, um, you know, my net worth, which may go up or down based on interest rates. Right. So, um, you know, I got two young kids and went on the way daycare. So I'm focused on passive income.
Ash Patel (05:32.958)
Yeah, understood. And you know, what I tell people often is passive income will get you out of a W2. Net worth will keep you there. Right. Because a lot of deals that you will end up doing, they produce heavily on the backend, they may not cash flow huge on the front end, but when you're buying these vacant centers and you fill them up, man, you've added a ton of value to your net worth, right? And the challenge is net worth can't pay your bills, right? So yeah.
Phil Boggia (05:56.805)
Right, right, right.
Ash Patel (06:03.359)
Awesome, man. What are you focused on now? Are you just looking for acquisitions in the triple net space?
Phil Boggia (06:10.413)
Yeah, so we have, so there's two focuses of the company. So Joel obviously works with clients that wanna own single tenant and multi tenant properties direct. And the other side is the syndication side. And the syndication side, we have two focuses, which is a core plus strategy where we're buying, everything we do has to do with underlying real estate fundamentals, right?
It's all focused on the quality of the real estate first. So the core strategy is investment grade tenants on existing leases. And that way we can provide a low volatility income stream to our limited partners. And then the other side of this indication is the value as strategy where we're buying vacant single tenant properties across the US that we look to double our equity upon lease out.
Ash Patel (07:09.694)
And the vacant properties that you're buying, are they all single tenant properties?
Phil Boggia (07:14.593)
Yeah, we're focused on single tenant. You know, we're very opportunistic. You know, if we see something that's multi-tenant, you know, we'll take a look at it, but we're mostly focused on single tenants. It's just cleaner deals for us right now.
Ash Patel (07:29.63)
Is there not a higher risk in that you can have a property that has no income whatsoever versus if you have a multi-tenant property that has maybe 20 or 30 or 40 percent vacancy? At least there's some income coming in. You might be breaking even, but when you buy a single tenant building that's vacant, there's no income. And how do you determine how long it's going to take to find a tenant?
Phil Boggia (07:54.609)
So we usually give it 12 months to lease up, but the strategy is getting into these properties at such a low basis that we have immediate built-in equity just as downside protection. We're all, we're focused on downside protection. So as far as risk with the multi-tenant, true, that's true, it's just that from a management point of view, we're scaling up. Last year we bought like one a month. So just from a management point of view, it's just easier for scale.
Ash Patel (08:36.994)
Phil, is there a geographic region that you focus on?
Phil Boggia (08:41.453)
Um, we're all across all across the U S we're, um, we're looking, um, in areas where tenants want to be, so where they're expanding, um, you know, five mile demographics, traffic counts, sight lines, um, you know, population growth. Um, you know, we'll, we'll look at.
Ash Patel (08:58.614)
What are the hot markets?
Phil Boggia (09:01.549)
I mean, Arizona, we just made an offer on a property in Arizona. There's obviously Florida, Texas, right at Tennessee, they're on fire. But you know, there's, there's some opportunities in smaller markets too. So, you know, we look everywhere.
Ash Patel (09:18.818)
Yeah, Phil, what kind of price range are these single tenant buildings going for?
Phil Boggia (09:24.125)
So we, our acquisitions are sub two million, usually sub one million, and we look to be sub three million usually on our exit. That's because the majority of those net lease investors that are looking to buy those properties that are sub three million, three quarters of them are cash buyers. So there's less volatility with interest rates.
Ash Patel (09:53.566)
Alright, so this isn't for the faint of heart, man. You're buying five, six, seven, $800,000 vacant buildings and you're hoping they get leased up in 12 months. What if they don't?
Phil Boggia (10:04.937)
So that's where our basis comes into play. So if we're not hitting our rent per square foot, or there's some sort of unforeseen market condition where we can't get it leased up the way we want to, we'll sell it. We'll sell it to the developer and user. You know, it'll still be profitable. So it's all downside protection.
Ash Patel (10:26.67)
Phil, you mentioned investment grade tenants. Can you explain what that is?
Phil Boggia (10:31.285)
Yeah, so an investment grade tenant is a tenant that has a triple B minus or better credit rating with S&P so that those will be your large publicly traded company.
Ash Patel (10:50.634)
And when they sign a lease, they have a corporate guarantee on that lease. And typically the only way out for them is if that parent company files for bankruptcy. Is that right?
Phil Boggia (11:02.481)
That's right, yeah. And usually investment-grade tenants have a less than 1% failure, bankruptcy, historically.
Ash Patel (11:12.13)
How long are those leases typically signed for?
Phil Boggia (11:16.071)
You know, they vary. I mean they could be 10 years, 15, 20 years, you know, 25 in some instances.
Ash Patel (11:23.41)
And for the best ever listeners, when you sign a fresh 10 year lease with a national tenant, that property has its highest value on that day. Do you sell it immediately or do you let it cash flow for a little bit? Because as each year goes on, the value of that property, essentially the value of that lease diminishes. So how long do you hold these things after you sign?
Phil Boggia (11:46.481)
So we have a three year hold period. So we say 12 months lease it up, we'll cash flow it for two years, and then we look to exit year three.
Ash Patel (11:55.882)
Why not just sell it immediately, move on to the next one?
Phil Boggia (11:59.173)
Yeah, I mean, if that makes the most sense, we'll do that. We've done that. We're in the process of selling some properties to an end user in two years, just because it made more sense for investors. Our initial structure is to cash flow for two years just to get the IRRs up for our investors, year three.
Ash Patel (12:21.334)
The million dollar question, how do I get a national tenant to sign a lease in my building?
Phil Boggia (12:28.237)
I mean, you have to have good relationships with the tenant rep brokers. That really gives you some insight into where these tenants are looking to expand. So obviously an investment-grade tenant is our goal, right? But then we kind of work our way down to large franchisee, mid-level franchisee, small franchisee, and then mom and pop. We're not afraid to move down that scale.
So it just depends, you know, just depends on what makes the most sense.
Ash Patel (13:03.458)
Got it. And again, to explain that to the Best Ever listeners, if you have a national tenant, it is the safest lease, easy to sell. Because essentially the buyer is buying an income stream. It is the closest you're going to get to mailbox money, right?
Phil Boggia (13:18.413)
Right, that's right. Yeah, that's the lowest risk option.
Ash Patel (13:21.643)
And yeah, in all honesty, the buyer could be in Alaska. They never have to visit the property because they're buying a piece of paper. Now, when you move down, you mentioned a large franchisee. So this could be somebody who owns 30 Arby's or 20 McDonald's, right? And now they have a bit of a corporate guarantee.
Phil Boggia (13:45.077)
Right, yeah, so in a large franchisee scale, we usually categorize that as like a hundred plus unit operator, so you just have to be careful with the large franchisees because private equity has entered that space and that's not an ideal tenant for us. That's why the focus on the underlying real estate is so important, right? So.
Ash Patel (14:14.078)
Why is private equity not an ideal tenant?
Phil Boggia (14:18.685)
Um, so nothing against private equity, but I just think they tend to, you know, use the highest amounts of leverage possible to get expenses down and net operating income up, right? So, I think it raises the risk profile of the corporate guarantee. We just prefer to have a business owner who has a long-term horizon for that business and is not over leveraged and just wants to operate these as optimal as possible.
Ash Patel (15:01.334)
Yeah, that is a great point. One that I have not really thought of. But when you have a franchisee that has 100 stores or restaurants of something, they're focused on expanding, fine tuning their operations, taking care of their people when private equity gets involved. They have one mission, turn and burn, right? Grow and sell. So they want to maximize NOI by any and all means necessary. If that means shutting down some stores, going dark, or cutting staff, you know, yeah, I totally get that. So that's a great illustration that you had.
Phil, I've got to ask you a question in that I recently interviewed a commercial broker and this person really impressed me because he doesn't do his own deals. He impressed me for a lot of reasons, but he doesn't take down his own deals. Now there's a handful of brokers that focus on just that being a commercial broker, but then there's others that are also investors.
And my fear sometimes in dealing with people like that is that if they find a really good deal, they're going to keep it for themselves. You guys syndicate, but you also find great properties for your clients. If you found a home run, is it just not naturally instinctive to take it down yourself?
Phil Boggia (16:19.985)
So it depends, Joel has a key, right? He works with investors. So for example, he was working with a client who was in an exchange and she had about 28 million to place. So he had found a medical property, about 32 million in Arizona. He located this property for her.
She couldn't perform on it. It's just the exchange. She just didn't have the funds to close it, so once she turned it down, he then we then made an offer on it to try and syndicate. Ultimately didn't work out because the seller wanted more than we were willing to pay, but uh but yeah, it's there's no real conflict there only because we're looking in Usually in higher price ranges then clients are looking in. And as far as the vacant, Joel does not find vacant spaces for clients. That's just something we do ourselves.
Ash Patel (17:25.15)
Understood. So for clients, is it just a mixture of value add and fully leased, you know, normal properties that have long-term leases, low risk in lower returns, or do you have clients that come to you and say, listen, I want to grow this money as fast as I can. I want you to buy value add properties. And in which case you'll buy something that's got a fair amount of vacancy in it.
Phil Boggia (17:50.169)
Yeah, so if someone comes to us, so it's two separate things, the owning direct where the client just owns it themselves, that those are gonna be long-term leases, you know, investment-grade tenants. And then on the syndication side, if there's a client who says they want to grow their cash as quickly as possible, and they're interested in a retail value add, then we'll we usually place their money in that syndication and the value adds.
Ash Patel (18:23.674)
Once you find a property for a client, so I have $5 million, Phil, I need you to find me a property that I can invest this money in. Once I buy it, are you still available to hold my hand? Do you manage these properties or is it good luck, Ash? Wish you the best.
Phil Boggia (18:41.041)
So Joel, when Joel finds a property for a client owned direct, Joel is available throughout the life cycle of them owning the property. So he helped me find a strip center in Columbus, Ohio, and I still ask him questions about stuff, Cam reconciliation. And he's always answering questions. Clients reach out all the time, you know, just about questions about their lease. And yeah, so Joel's available to answer any of those questions for clients that own direct.
Ash Patel (19:19.234)
Do you recommend your clients use a property management company or self-manage?
Phil Boggia (19:26.053)
Um, as far as multi-tenant, I mean, if, if someone had like, so the strip center I have, I do not manage it myself. I have a property management company in Ohio that handles that. Um, I just don't have the time, um, or really the desire to, to manage it myself because I'm focusing on the syndication. Um, it's just, I guess. Oh God.
Ash Patel (19:48.59)
What do you pay the property management firm?
Phil Boggia (19:51.57)
I pay 5%.
Ash Patel (19:54.246)
And if they bring you tenants, do they get an additional fee on top of that?
Phil Boggia (20:00.433)
Um, so if I if one of my spaces goes vacant they have a leasing team, which I would then yeah, I would I would pay a leasing commission to the leasing team.
Ash Patel (20:12.99)
Understood. Can we dive into that property? How many tenants?
Phil Boggia (20:18.24)
So I have five tenants.
Ash Patel (20:21.13)
Are they national, regional, mom and pops?
Phil Boggia (20:24.473)
So one of them is a one medical, which is, I think Amazon just bought them, and that's a corporate guarantee. The other one is Plyables, which is a corporate guarantee. I have Clean Eats, which is another corporate guarantee. And then I have Oberurst Flowers, which is a, I think, statewide in Ohio, which is also a corporate guarantee.
Ash Patel (20:53.27)
What was the purchase price on this?
Phil Boggia (20:56.394)
That one was 5,920,000.
Ash Patel (21:02.046)
In terms of debt, was it 20% down?
Phil Boggia (21:06.072)
We put down 37 percent.
Ash Patel (21:09.302)
Why so high?
Phil Boggia (21:11.482)
That's what the lender required at the time.
Ash Patel (21:13.758)
Okay. Would it be your inclination to put as little as possible down?
Phil Boggia (21:20.377)
Um, I would say no, only because I feel a little more comfortable with lower leverage, just because it helps mitigate the debt maturity risk. You know, I like having that equity, you know, once the 10 years is up. The balloon payment.
Ash Patel (21:47.614)
Wouldn't you rather have that money in the bank for the next deal?
Phil Boggia (21:53.249)
Um, you know, I understand that strategy. Um, I just have peace of mind, uh, you know, with a little bit higher, um, LTV.
Ash Patel (22:07.75)
Yeah, understood. And again, there's no right answer for that. My opinion on that is I would put as little money down as possible on any deal. But now it's you know, the question is, Ash, then you're going to get overleveraged. Not really. As long as you've got the reserves sitting in your checking account, right? You're not over leveraged. If you're if you don't have your one, two years of expenses in liquidity.
Phil Boggia (22:11.035)
Ash Patel (22:35.01)
And you're over leveraging on all your properties, that's a problem. So, yeah, understood. In the future, what's your ideal percentage that you would put down on a property?
Phil Boggia (22:45.021)
Um, I, you know, it depends right on the interest rate. Um, it depends on what my cash on cash returns would be there. Um, you know, my next property, I'll, I'll sit down with Joel and, uh, and figure it out.
Ash Patel (22:59.814)
Phil, what is your cash on cash return on this Columbus Strip Center?
Phil Boggia (23:03.817)
So my cash on cash there is about 5.3%. So Joel, when I first exchanged out of residential, he found me at Walgreens at a five and a half cap. And then 10 months later, he was like, I think you could sell us at a five cap. And then I did. So that was a huge gain that we didn't exchange into the strip center. So.
Ash Patel (23:34.862)
Do you have a target cash on cash return that you shoot for?
Phil Boggia (23:39.198)
With investment-grade tenants, like really well-located, I wanna be at a minimum like 5% cash on cash, personally.
Ash Patel (23:46.742)
What about a value add deal?
Phil Boggia (23:49.073)
So value add deal, we want to be doubling our equity upon lease up there. So if we're buying a property, half a million, we speak to a number of leasing brokers in that particular market to get a conservative rent per square foot. And then we use that conservative number as our target and we would have to be at a million dollars upon stabilization.
Ash Patel (24:15.918)
Can you speak to the multifamily investors that are now in a bit of a competitive landscape? Cap rates are decompressing. Banks are not really willing to lend on multifamily as they were a couple of years ago. If they wanted to get into retail, what would your advice be?
Phil Boggia (24:37.381)
You know, I think if you're looking to get out of multi-family like I was, you know, I think you should speak to an expert in the retail space that is focused on the buyer side. You know, because there's, I spoke to a ton of brokers before I ended up going with Joel and the thing with a lot of brokers is they work for large brokerages.
So if you ask them to find you a net lease deal, they're going to put their inventory in front of you, right? Because they have big teams, they have large splits, right? It's just, it's difficult to really get, you know, an objective, in my opinion, an objective opinion there, right? So I would focus on a buyer side broker that is sourcing these deals across all brokerage platforms.
Ash Patel (25:37.57)
Does that mean that you guys don't take on listings? Someone can't come to you and say, hey, I've got this retail vacancy. Can you guys list it for me and try to find a tenant?
Phil Boggia (25:47.953)
We do not do that.
Ash Patel (25:50.178)
Ah, interesting. All right. So let's go back to your point. And you're right. If I'm a broker and I've had this happen so many times where we approach a broker, Hey, what kind of deals do you have? Well, here's what we're looking for. Here's our buy box. And you're right. They show their own listings because they get to double dip in the commissions. Right. Yeah. Okay. So is that common to have just a buyer side agent out there?
Phil Boggia (26:17.677)
It's not common. I think a lot of brokers represent themselves as that, but again, it just kind of goes back to like pushing their own inventory. Then there are ones that are not with large brokerages that do that. And, you know, I spoke to a handful of them. I just, Joel, in my opinion, was far more knowledgeable and seemed like the leading expert in this space.
Ash Patel (26:47.402)
Yeah, many years ago, I've reached out to him a number of times on Bigger Pockets. And he was very gracious with advice and always willing to help people. But I really want to go back to what you said. That is, if somebody is looking to purchase retail, triple net, single tenants, whatever it is, you want to find a buyer side broker that also does not have their own listings because now their time is spread, you want somebody hyper focused.
I'm just finding clients great properties. Yeah. I love that model.
Phil Boggia (27:18.661)
Yeah, exactly. It's, yeah, and you know, just to expand on that. So Joel requires a written exclusive with his clients to do that. And there's times where a client or potential client will say, well, you know, I don't want to sign an exclusive because no other broker makes me do that. And the answer to that is that's because Joel, you know, he's independently wealthy from being a broker, right? He's an investor and he just likes doing these deals.
But once you become a client of his on the exclusive agreement, he's going out and he's finding these properties for you. He's spending time, he's sourcing them, he's going through a thousand properties a week to find, you know, because if you're spending millions of dollars, you really wanna be working with an expert that's gonna verify the lease and make sure that location has strong underlying real estate fundamentals for a second use of money.
Ash Patel (28:19.606)
What are some key questions that you ask to figure out what the investment profile is of these clients?
Phil Boggia (28:26.201)
So when I talk to an investor, I first try and figure out if they're looking to own direct. If they are, then I connect them with Joel and he speaks to them about that. If it's investing as a limited partner, then I just try and figure out, are they looking for that immediate in-place cashflow, low volatility, or are they looking for something that has a higher equity upside, in which case we'll talk about the value add deals.
Ash Patel (28:59.234)
Phil, what is your best real estate investing advice ever?
Phil Boggia (29:04.465)
So it's really two things. One thing I touched on earlier, which was something you said, which had a huge impact on me, actually changed my life because it was if you want to get around the people who are doing what you want to do, you have to be valuable to them. So I think that's huge. You know, because if you want to change careers or you want to, you know, do something different, then that's key.
The second thing I would say is something a guy named Michael Hurklotz said, he owns a cigar company called Ferriotego, he had said, today there's a rush to be the expert in things. Today, a guy who's brand new in an industry is looking to sell courses and sell advice and start his YouTube channel. And really, it should be a long horizon on being a perpetual learner, not just the immediate expert.
Right? So it's like Joel, right? It took him two decades to, you know, to be where he is. So I think that's applicable to our industry.
Ash Patel (30:12.746)
Yeah, that's great advice. I'm glad you ran with that. And there's no better way to demonstrate that than work for free, which is what you did. Phil, that's incredible. Are you ready for the best ever lightning round? All right, brother. What's the best ever book you recently read?
Phil Boggia (30:30.178)
I would say The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday.
Ash Patel (30:33.602)
What was your big takeaway from that?
Phil Boggia (30:36.313)
Um, you know, I think there's things that you can, um, you run into and it's easy to get discouraged, but really, um, it's an opportunity to, you know, overcome it, to, um, face it and to, um, you know, ultimately just kind of makes you stronger, you know, figuring out, um, problem solving and alternative solutions.
Ash Patel (31:00.622)
Phil, what's the best ever way you like to give back?
Phil Boggia (31:03.793)
So Joel and I have been talking about starting a net lease retail focused meetup, annual or semi-annual, because there's not a whole lot of meetups that are focused on retail or net lease. So I'm just trying to help Joel organize that for investors or people who are interested in investing or just want to get around people who are doing it.
Ash Patel (31:31.17)
That's a great idea because we have ICSC, which I mean, you know, it's the who's who of everybody, but you've got to kind of be somebody to get some traction there. Right. Um, so I think that's a great idea. I would love to help if I can with that and feel how can the best ever listeners reach out to you.
Phil Boggia (31:50.997)
So you can email me, Phil with one L at nnninvest.com or you can go to nnninvest.com and fill out our form and I'll get in touch with you.
Ash Patel (32:01.442)
Phil, I'm glad you shared your story today, man. It was so important for listeners to hear, adding value to achieve where you wanna be, and you've accomplished that. Man, I'm glad you got out of multifamily and into retail. You're doing great things. You've got a great mentor. Thank you for your time today, Phil.
Phil Boggia (32:20.41)
Yeah, thank you.
Ash Patel (32:22.134)
Best ever listeners. Thank you for joining us. If you enjoyed this podcast, please leave us a five star review. Share this episode with someone you think can benefit from it. Also follow subscribe and have a best ever day.