June 28, 2022

JF2856: From CRE Beginner to GP in 3 Months ft. Max Moala


Max Moala grew up with parents who were successful real estate investors in the single-family space, but they were hit very hard and lost everything in the 2008 crash. Instead of shying away from the business, however, he decided to face his fears and, with the support of his wife, he left his corporate job in January of 2022 and moved his family to Texas to become a multifamily syndicator.

In this episode, Max shares how he became a GP in three months, the key attributes that led him to success in such a short period of time, and his Best Ever advice for other commercial real estate investors.


1. How He Went from Beginner to GP in 3 Months

Max joined a coaching program in February 2022 after moving to Dallas, where he learned about multifamily syndication and networked as much as possible. “Networking was a big part of it,” he says. “One of my coaches brought a deal to me, and I looked at it. I trusted her and her partner.” He said yes to the deal, volunteering to raise capital as long as he could be part of the asset management team, landing him a spot as GP of 66 units. 


2. Key Attributes to Fast-Track Success

“You have to know what you want,” Max stresses. Before moving his family to Texas, Max left his corporate job, shedding his source of income and safety net. “That can be terrifying for many others,” he says, “But for me, I love having that stress, having that pressure on me.” 

After the fire was lit, Max did something every day to get him closer to his goal — contacting breakers, talking to potential investors, and attending meetups. He also looked for ways he could add value to help other successful operators reach their goals. 


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3. Max’s Best Ever Advice

Max’s advice is to “go out and do.” He believes that in order to achieve your dreams, you have to be willing to go out and fail. “Fail fast, fail often, but always fail forward,” he says. “Everything you want is just outside of your fears.” 


Max Moala | Real Estate Background

  • Founder and CEO of API Investments, a real estate syndication company that focuses on multifamily.
  • Portfolio:
    • GP of 66 units
    • LP of 150 units
  • Based in: Dallas–Fort Worth, TX
  • Say hi to him at:
  • Greatest lesson: You don’t need to know everything to get started. What you need is desire, courage, and a great work ethic.



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Ash Patel: 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, Max Moala. Max is joining us from Dallas Fort Worth, Texas. He is the founder and CEO of AP Investments, a multifamily syndication company. Max's portfolio consists of being a GP on 66 units and an LP on 150 units. Max, thank you for joining us and how are you today?

Max Moala: Ash, very happy to be here.

Ash Patel: Hey, it's our pleasure, Max. Max, before we get started, can you give the Best Ever listeners a little bit more about your background and what you're focused on now?

Max Moala: Yeah. So I grew up a Polynesian Pacific Islander. I was actually going through the corporate route here. I went to school for the David Eccles School of Business, and found myself working corporate. I worked it long enough to realize that was something I didn't want to do. So actually, this year, January of 2022, my wife and I had decided to come up with a plan and we literally burned the ships, sold our home, moved here to Dallas, Texas in pursuit of the American dream. So here we are today, couldn't be more excited for the future.

Ash Patel: Alright. How did you guys make that decision to just move forward, sell your house? Where were you moving from?

Max Moala: My wife was from Arizona, and that's where we were at. I played football for the University of Utah, and then during my senior year, my wife had asked me like, "Hey, do you want to move to Arizona when you're done with school?" And I said, "Why not? Let's do it." So that's how we moved to Arizona and we were there for eight years, had a great life, and some great growth and then...

Ash Patel: Why did you move to Texas?

Max Moala: One of my really good friends has been in the multifamily space for about six years, and he was the one that kind of piqued my interest on it. And we were talking about just doing... To be honest, my family, my parents were very successful real estate investors, but they were in the single-family space. And in 2008, like many people, they were hit very hard and lost everything. So it was a very big scar for our family, because me being the oldest my family and I was helping out in the business, we're big flippers and had some rentals, getting into real estate was terrifying.

Seeing my family go from very happy to... It was almost a seamless transition seeing someone turn from Tigger in Winnie the Pooh, to Eeyore. So I wanted to do real estate, and I was scared too, because of seeing that loss that we had experienced. So I went the corporate route, because it was safe. But in the back of my mind, I always wanted to do real estate. So here we are, my wife saw how hard I was working but unhappy I was. And she always knew, because we communicated a lot. And she said, "Max, if anyone were to fail, and I don't think you would because you work so hard, we would be okay."

So just having that support from my wife to know that even if we fail and went homeless, we would still be okay - that gave me all the support I needed to be able to burn the ships. Now, we did come up with a plan, we made the savings, I had a side hustle, I was wholesaling on the side of my W2. And I was making great money working W2, but multifamily was the end goal, what we wanted to get to, into long-term hold.

Ash Patel: That's incredible. Oh, man, I got chills. So not only was your wife 100% supportive of a drastic change in course, from the corporate world to moving and going into multifamily, but I feel like you also had something to prove to your parents. Kind of like a little bit of PTSD where you've got to get back on the horse once you fall off, right?

Max Moala: Yeah. Every time I do talk to my mom, who was the big pusher and also built the empire that they were able to build, I could feel the pain every time, which helps me stay grounded. Especially during now, because I'm almost getting that same PTSD. But I was thinking, "Hey, I know that's what you went through. But this is something that I feel I need to go through." But always remembering what she went through and seeing that really keeps me grounded as far as when you're looking at multifamily deals now. And that's something I never want to experience ever again, not only for my family, but even our investors as well. So very very careful with any type of underwriting and analyzing deals and taking investors money, to be honest.

Ash Patel: Max, when you're underwriting and analyzing, are you playing that what-if scenario to the extreme?

Max Moala: 100%. You play the what-if scenario... I know a lot of investors now going like, "Hey, I can bump rents up X, Y, and Z", but you're also looking at inflation, so expenses also is going up. So you're looking like, "Well, what if this happens, and if this happens?" And I'm looking at the worst-case scenario. And at the worst-case scenario, if it still looks like it can work out, then I'll move forward. So now they call it kissing a lot of frogs, I'm just passing on deals. It's just I'm not the buyer, I'm not willing to take that risk, because of the experiences that I had. It was something I never want to go through again, honestly.

Ash Patel: Good for you. So I teach a commercial mastermind, and I see a lot of my students coming in, doing these proformas on, "Hey, listen, I'm going to get rents closer to market in three years." And I see all these different projections on the upside. And I'm like, "Hey, what happens if you lose three commercial tenants? What does that do to your proforma? Can you absorb that? And now you have a declining strip mall... Now what?" So I'm glad you brought that up, so important. Do those what-ifs. Just because historically rents have risen 18% in your market, do the what-ifs. What if something changes? Right?

Max Moala: Right.

Ash Patel: Good for you, man. Glad you brought that up. So you moved to Texas and you connected with your buddy that's in multifamily. What did you start off doing?

Max Moala: So what's funny is I moved here, and because he was already investing in multifamily before the whole COVID, pre-COVID, he got really spoiled with what he was able to acquire these properties. He's a single owner-operator, so we was looking at deals and he was like, "Man, there's just no good deals right now, so we'll have to wait." Well, I moved my family here, I have no more income, and so...

Ash Patel: I really can't wait...

Max Moala: Bro, I can't wait. I burned the ships; it's sink or swim, I've got to go. So I ended up joining a coaching program and just learning the syndication side, because he was just doing this all by himself. He's basically doing -- the BRRRR method was single families, but he was doing that with multifamily... For six years, and had been very successful, but I couldn't wait. And so I continued to focus more on wholesaling and been able to be successful to help bring some income in. But at the same time, I was learning, networking as hard as I could to meet as many people as I could... So just trying to make things happen. And so with all the things that happened in the short amount of time, I know I'm headed in the right direction, and I do not regret the decisions we made. So it's really exciting.

Ash Patel: Max, what is it that happened in the short amount of time?

Max Moala: I joined the program in February, and February until now, it's March 18th. So I've been able to...

Ash Patel: May. It's May 18th brother.

Max Moala: May. Man, yeah. May 18th, thank you. So I've not only been able to acquire a home, a duplex, but also be a GP on 66 units, that was also an off-market deal, and then investing passively on a 106-unit deal. And then we also have 30 units under contract right now that we're closing in the next month; that's June 15. And then also I'm in the middle of negotiations with a few other direct sellers here, so it's happening fast.

Ash Patel: How did you become a GP on that property?

Max Moala: Networking was a big part of it. The coaching program that I had joined, and many of the deals you come across when you joining these networks; you'll see a lot of deals. And I've been very picky because of my past experience. Picking partners, and I looked at the team and there's a lot of times I've turned on deals just because the team didn't have what I feel like I can learn from them. So I think there's three parts to multifamily to make it work. It's finding the deal, being able to raise the capital to close the deal, and then the asset management piece.

I come from the corporate background and business, and I've been able to work on the business plan and talk about decreasing expenses, increasing income, and hoping that can translate to multifamily. I don't know so, that's where I feel like I needed the biggest piece to work on. So one of my coaches had brought a deal to me and I looked at it, I trusted her and her partner, they have a lot of experience with asset management, and I said, "Yes, I can help you raise capital, but I need to be on the asset management team. And that's going to be the only stipulation." And I was okay if they said no. Fortunately, she was very helpful and she said, "Yes, if you want to learn asset management, you can join us and you can get a GP spot." And so that's how I was able to get that spot here in such a short amount of time.

Break: [00:09:40] - [00:11:26]

Ash Patel: You straight-hustled your way onto the GP side.

Max Moala: Deal hustling!

Ash Patel: Listen, I've got to ask you, man... You just moved to Texas. How did you raise money?

Max Moala: Family and friends. It's hard when they know you as "Hey, you're Max Moala, you're not the real estate investor; you're Max Moala the former football player, the funny guy who likes to joke around. I think you have some business experience..." So the way that I had to sell it off is you look at those metrics, population growth, the employment growth, but then you talk about the partners and their experience. So that's how I was able to take the focus on me, the very inexperienced operator, new investor, to "This is who I'm partnering with, and they have a ton of experience, and they've had very successful experiences, and they've gone through many real estate cycles. So I trust them, I know you trust me, and I think this is a fantastic deal, because I've been vetting all of these deals coming through." Sometimes with our investors, we only get one shot, and I wanted my first shot to be a great one.

Ash Patel: It's not sometimes, man, it's every time you get every time. You get one shot.

Max Moala: Every time, yeah.

Ash Patel: Break down what it is, for our Best Ever listeners, that made you successful in a very short amount of time. What are some key attributes?

Max Moala: You have to know what you want. I wake up every morning terrified, because I burned the ships. You think about, "Hey, there is no retreat. I don't have a safety net." And that gets me going, and that can also be terrifying for many others. But for me, I love having that stress, having that pressure put on me. So knowing what you want, and then every day you have to do something that's going to move that needle closer. Whether you're doing this part-time, spare time, around the cracks in your life, have that one item that you're going to do everyday to work closer to it. Whether that's contacting a broker, talking to someone who can invest, or going to meetups.

So I think being very clear on what you want and telling people what you're looking for, but how you can add value, because there's many successful operators out there and they're all being contacted with and want to be brought deals, and they're constantly being stretched out for their time, but how can you help them reach their goals? So if you can work together to help each other reach their goals, I think there's synergy there.

Ash Patel: I love it. Max, what's next for you?

Max Moala: Man, what's next? Try to take over the world. Really, I love to be the Best Ever investor in real estate, period. But I think it comes to being very focused on -- focusing on multifamily, but also not putting aside my true values. I value my family, my wife and kids very, very much, and not forgetting them. Although it's very hard, I'm very driven and very focused, and I think I'm a workaholic, but taking care of those aspects. So the world is my oyster, I guess; that's the thing at my fingertips.

Ash Patel: Alright, I love that macro view of what's next. What are the next steps you're going to do to get there? And are you going to continue to raise capital? Are you going to look for deals? Are you going to look for partners?

Max Moala: So I do have some partners that we've been working with very, very closely. And actually this morning we sat down and we had a goal like, "Hey, here's our 10-year, five-year, three-year, one-year goal" and we broke it down very macro and micro to how we were going to accomplish those goals. And so, yes, as far as investors, talking constantly to investors, just keeping them in the loop, letting them know that this is what I'm doing. I'm very serious about this, serious as a heart attack, and then looking for deals. So we're going both ways - going through brokers and then also going direct to seller.

Ash Patel: And Max, you have new partners that you're working with? Because you've not been in this game very long.

Max Moala: Yeah.

Ash Patel: I've had this experience where I've had partners where I'm all in, it's new, and it's not what I expected. They're not putting in the same grind you're putting in. If you were in that scenario, how would you handle that?

Max Moala: Great question. I think communication is going to be key to any relationship. So if you feel like -- in business they call it social loafing, where the others are loafing because they feel like you're going to carry the weight of the team. I think you need to be able to voice that. And we have a great partnership where we're all very vocal, and we're able to just air out how our feelings are. But then, if that happened, I think there has to be a point where, "Hey guys, it's not working out. I wish you the best." So I think we separate or part ways. And be able to just separate from that relationship healthily, and just wishing them the best. So I hope that doesn't happen, because I very appreciate working together with these individuals here. I think we all have the same alignment of interests and goals and what we'd want long-term for ourselves, for our families. But there's that reality, right?

Ash Patel: Yeah, that's a good answer. I've found out that I'm not very good at having those difficult conversations... So I wish I had you for advice back in the day. Max, what is your best real estate investing advice ever?

Max Moala: Two things. Go out and do. Man, John Maxwell, what he says was, "If you really want to achieve your dreams - I mean, if you really want them, you have to be willing to go out and fail. Fail fast, fail often, but always failing forward." And then the second one is everything you want is just outside of your fears. Many people have fears, we all do, but what are you doing to overcome that? So just go out and do it and learn by doing, and overcome those fears.

Ash Patel: Max, are you ready for the Best Ever lightning round?

Max Moala: Let's go!

Ash Patel: Alright, Max. What's the Best Ever book you've recently read?

Max Moala: I'm reading The Millionaire Real Estate Investor by Gary Keller. Love the book.

Ash Patel: What's your big takeaway from that?

Max Moala: It talks a lot about money; not just what you can do with the money, which I love. It's not always just about the money to have, but what you can do. It talks about mindset, and I'm huge on mindset, personal development. And then just things on how you can become a millionaire real estate investor. It's not just gambling, but really mitigating that risk, so you can become a millionaire real estate investor.

Ash Patel: Max, what's the Best Ever way you like to give back?

Max Moala: Man, I love the be a hope dealer. I post pretty regularly on LinkedIn and it's always the stories of hope, my own story. And I love to give back to my community and family, and just spending time with them.

Ash Patel: I love it. I want to share something... I interviewed somebody a long time ago, and I wish I remember who told me this... But they said, every morning when they're on the treadmill, they send two voice memos to people. They take out their phone, "Hey, just want to let you know I'm thinking about you, man. I hope you have a great day." And I always meant to do that. But I've taken baby steps, and I'll text people, "Hey, hope you're doing well. Just thinking about you." So I love that, you're a hope dealer. Very cool, man.

Max Moala: I do that often. I go to my phone, either shoot a text or call someone to check up on them.

Ash Patel: Yeah, that's great. And Max, how can the Best Ever listeners reach out to you?

Max Moala: Yeah, there's three ways. LinkedIn is probably the easiest way. There's my website, it's myapinvestments.com, and then my email, max@myapinvestments.com.

Ash Patel: Hey, Max, I've got to thank you for sharing your inspiring story, man. You started out in the corporate route, you had some rough experiences with your parents being very successful, and then losing everything in 2008. You've got an incredibly supportive wife and you're doing great things. So thank you for sharing your story in your inspiration with us today.

Max Moala: Yeah, thanks for having me. Let's go get it.

Ash Patel: Hell yeah. Best Ever listeners, thank you so much for joining us. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave us a five-star review. Share the podcast with someone you think can benefit from it. Also, follow, subscribe and have a Best Ever day.

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