We’re going to hear Joe’s top three favorite lessons learned last week when doing the interviews for this podcast. Lessons learned are coming from Amanda Cassiday (https://www.amandacassiday.com/), Peter Conti (https://realestate101.com/), Andrew Keel (https://www.andrewkeel.com/). If you enjoyed today’s episode remember to subscribe in iTunes and leave us a review!
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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, where we only talk about the best advice ever, we don’t get into any of that fluffy stuff.
This is Follow Along Friday. Theo Hicks, I learned a whole lot last week during these interviews… And as a reminder, Best Ever listeners, the purpose of Follow Along Friday is to pull out some insights that we learned – in this case I did the interviews last week, so I learned last week – and share them with you as a sneak peek, and also so that you can (should you choose to) start applying them sooner, since they interviews that I did this past week will go live probably in 4-5 months from now; we’re that booked out.
So Theo, do you want me to just go ahead and get into it?
Theo Hicks: Yeah, let’s jump right into those lessons, Joe.
Joe Fairless: Alright, cool. Holy cow – his name is [unintelligible [00:03:01].05] What an impressive human being, from a real estate standpoint. I met him through this interview, so I don’t have any preexisting relationship with him; he’s a 24-year-old real estate investor based in New York City… And as a sophomore at NYU, he identified a need for a student-run brokerage. He went out, got his brokerage license, and he and some friends were leasing apartments to fellow NYU college students, and I’m sure other college students.
He was making six figures a summer, for three months of work. Six figures. I have a hard time putting myself in that place when I was at Texas Tech as a sophomore, having an idea for a business and then earning over $100,000 for three months’ worth of work. Just an incredible entrepreneur. I asked him how much did he have by the end of his senior year, how much was in his bank account, and he said it was between 250k to 350k.
Theo Hicks: Wow…
Joe Fairless: As an undergrad who just got their degree, this person had over 250k in his bank account, and he had a college degree. Just so impressive. So one is if you are in college, and you’re looking to create a business, this is a potential opportunity. He capitalized on the New York City market, and the way it’s structured, where you’ve gotta go through a broker to get an apartment… I know having lived in New York City, New York City is its own animal, so perhaps this exact strategy won’t be applicable to Best Ever listeners who are in college looking to create something, but… It’s just inspirational, at minimum. Perhaps some tactical components need to be reconfigured, but just incredibly inspirational.
Here’s a tactical thing that he talked about for how he has since then (surprise, surprise) grown his portfolio (he’s 24 years old) to 60 single-family units, 12 multifamily — so I should say 60 single-family houses, 12 multifamily units, and a self-storage facility. And the self-storage facility – I was like “Tell me about it.” He’s like “Well, it sounds more impressive than it is. It’s 20 garages, 4,000 square feet.” I’m like “That’s impressive. That’s very impressive.”
He bought that for $120,000, and he found it on the MLS. He talks about that during the interview, so I won’t go into that. But the tactical thing I wanted to mention is how he found 60 single-family houses and 12 multifamily units is by working with REO companies and getting deal flow through them.
And I said, “Okay, I’m not gonna ask you which companies you’re getting deal flow from, because that gets into your competitive advantage, and I don’t wanna steal your thunder on that, but the question I have is if you were starting over and you didn’t have the current relationships that you have with REO companies, how would you go about replicating this process?” and he said that an attorney helped him get connected to the REO companies. So he said what he would do is he would focus on networking with attorneys, telling them what he’s looking for and seeing if they have any connections they can give him.
He said another tactical thing you can do is by looking at the deeds and the mortgages and see who’s selling a lot of stuff on the county website, and if they’re selling a lot of stuff, they might be an REO entity. So those are two tactical things that anyone can do to identify these REO companies that might be a good lead source for him to buy directly from.
Theo Hicks: [unintelligible [00:06:49].24] I remember all the way back, when I was close to his age, I did that for Cincinnati… So I know there’s a way to do it for all the county, but for Cincinnati in particular you can get access to the back-end of the auditor’s site. [unintelligible [00:07:05].08] every single property in Cincinnati. In this case you would just filter by — they actually have recent sales too, so you just download the recent sales and filter it by the name of the person selling property, and just see “Okay, this person sold 50 properties in the past month. Maybe they’re an REO company.” Maybe they’re just a big owner who’s selling properties too, so it’s not just necessarily REO companies.
And then going back to the school one – that’s interesting, because most people will graduate with as much money that he had in his bank account in debt. So he did the exact opposite of what people typically do. For me — I was in mechanical engineering, so I’m sure I probably spent a lot of time on school, compared to maybe other majors, but I still had so much free time that I spent on doing stupid things, that I could have spent on obviously doing something like this.
I’m not sure if people think this or not, but they might think “Well, I am a full-time student. How am I gonna have time to do this?” But if people really think about it, you’ve got way more time when you’re in college than you do when you actually graduate and get a real job. So it’s definitely possible, and as you mentioned, this is pretty specific to New York. I didn’t realize that you had to have a broker represent you to lease an apartment. But yeah, this is kind of more inspiration, to get the wheels churning in your mind to think of ways you can add value as a real estate investor to college students… Because every college student is renting, looking for a place to live; you can even be some sort of consultant the same way, even though it’s not a requirement.
This guy sounds like he’s very smart, and very entrepreneurial, and obviously it’s working out for him.
Joe Fairless: I believe it was the book “Things I wish I knew when I was 20.” It’s written by an Ivy League professor, and she talks about different things that she wish she knew when she was 20. I believe it’s this book – she mentions that she gives her students a challenge at the beginning of the year to make as much money as possible with $100. So she gives them $100 and like “Okay, go.” It’s an entrepreneurial class. “Go make as much money. Create a business. Whoever makes the most money wins”, and there’s other prizes, too.
Some people created a business around selling gadgets around campus, others did laundry services… But the winning team that earned the most money — I think it was a shorter period of time than a year. I think it was about a month. The winning team that earned the most money actually did something ingenious… They sold the time that they had to present to their fellow students their business plan and their business. So instead of creating a business, they simply identified a company within that area that would love to have a captive college student audience for 30 minutes, and then they sold their time to that business, and that business presented to the students, and as a result they got access to the students; and the students that had that idea earned the most money.
So along the lines of, hey, Angad’s business, if you’re not in New York City, that exact business might not work, but it’s the mindset of how do we maximize the resources that we currently have available – that’s what this is all about, and that example really came to mind whenever I was thinking about Angad.
The second thing – Philippe [unintelligible [00:10:41].19] He’s an entrepreneur; he scaled from a $3,000 mobile home park to owning ten units now. Based in Nashville, Tennessee. I wanna mention two things about my conversation with Philippe. One is that he had a six-unit that he has now sold, and it was in a college town. One thing that he did to increase the value – he bought it for $120,000, and two years later he more than doubled it in value. He sold it for $260,000. So actually I’ll give you two things that he did, and then I have another lesson learned from him. One is he changed it from [unintelligible [00:11:20].23] the amount of beds that you can have within the residence. So he didn’t focus on “How many tenants should I have”, he focused on how many — well, I guess I’m saying it incorrectly. He added more beds in the house. So he added two more beds in the house, and as a result he started charging per person, instead of per-bedroom. I guess that’s the proper way to say it.
So he literally made the living room a place where two more people could live. So one, he changed it from a per-bedroom to a per-bed. Two – and this is what I thought was really interesting – is he had relationships with local vendors, and those vendors would send leads his way, because they’re popular spots for college students, and in exchange he would send his residents to those vendors. Some specific vendors – there’s a Mexican restaurant; a place called Grandma’s Pancakes, and a local coffee shop.
And he would put in the welcome packet for his residents when they moved in, he’d put these cards that the vendors/restaurants gave him, and the residents would show the cards to the restaurants whenever they arrived, and then they’d get exclusive discounts as a result of living at his place. So it was a win/win. I did something like this for one of my properties, where I reached out to local businesses. I had a card that I printed out.
And surprisingly, it was challenging for me to get local businesses on board. I offered discounts in general, but also I’d like to offer discounts that weren’t publicly available. But I went to tanning booths, or tanning salons, I went to a pet groomer, I went to a payday loan company… They were very interested; they were actually the most engaged. Surprise, surprise. I went to restaurants… And for some reason – maybe my approach wasn’t the right approach, or maybe the market wasn’t right, or something, but I didn’t have that much success.
However, from a percentage standpoint, from the couple of companies that I did connect with – Dickey’s Barbecue was one of them; they were really on board because there’s an entrepreneurial guy who owned that franchise location… The couple of them that were on board – they really helped me have selling points for residents who wanted to move into that apartment community, and it was a win/win.
So I’ve done this approach… It might take more effort than you initially think, but it was a good use of the team’s time to create something like this… Especially if you have a smaller-sized apartment building and you’re not looking to do this in multiple locations. Or maybe it’s actually — if you have one geographic location where you own a lot of properties, that’s good. If you are spread out across multiple markets, then it might not be an effective use of your time, because it just takes a whole lot of time to do it. But in my experience, it was worth it.
I’ll stop there. Theo, do you have any comments there?
Theo Hicks: I was gonna say – do you know if he had preexisting relationships with any of these companies, or did he just reach out to them randomly?
Joe Fairless: He went to the Mexican restaurant a whole lot, he said, so they might have known him. But I don’t think he had a preexisting relationship with them in a formal capacity.
Theo Hicks: I was curious… Because I’m sure that would probably be helpful. If you’re thinking about applying this strategy, think of the places you just go to frequently, and then bring that up in the natural course of conversation if you’re talking to that owner, or whatever.
Joe Fairless: True that, yeah.
Theo Hicks: I was gonna mention something else – we were talking about this on Follow Along Friday; it might have been when we were discussing someone who had a question about buying a smaller apartment, or that didn’t have any amenities on-site, around like a bunch of massive apartment communities that had top-notch fitness centers, and things like that… We talked about you can leverage the local businesses, like fitness centers, movie theaters etc. and try to get discounts from them, and then you can present your property as like a luxury experience, without the luxury price. “So a fitness center isn’t here, but because of that your rents are gonna be lower. But we’ve also got discounts at this coffee shop, this movie theater, this tanning salon, this whatever.” That’s another way that you said you can present this type of concept to your residents as well.
Joe Fairless: Yeah, we’re actually buying a property right now that fits into that category, where there is a fitness center on-site, however literally right next door there’s a state of the art fitness facility, and the management has negotiated only an $8/month membership fee for those residents. And that is an exclusive arrangement that our property has with the fitness center. I think that more stuff like that – exclusive perks… Because then you start moving away from being a commodity and you start differentiating your apartment community in a way that others can’t compete, because you’re not going back and forth on price; you’re actually talking about these additional amenities and relationships that they don’t have.
One other thing I’ll say about the interview with Philippe – this reminds me of the example you brought up a couple times, Theo, of the gentleman who looked for properties that had a busted foundation. He would actually seek them out and he had a solution for it, where others would run away. In this example Philippe talks about how he noticed that the homes in a certain area had a double garage; they’re two-story, and the downstairs was a double garage. He would convert that double garage into three additional bedrooms. He had three bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom that he’d convert the double garage into, and he rents it out to construction workers.
So the house – upstairs it has three bedrooms, downstairs it has a double garage; well, now it’d have three bedrooms upstairs, and then downstairs it’d have three additional bedrooms, and he rents it out on a per-bedroom basis.
So just looking for situations in our market where there’s opportunity to reconfigure the layout of the property, and if you identify a bunch of homes that have a similar configuration and you have a certain business model like that, then you have the opportunity to make twice as much cashflow as someone else.
Theo Hicks: And the same thing can technically apply to apartments, too. Obviously, there’s demand for those larger units, but if you’re in a market where you find an apartment that’s got massive units, and the dollar per square foot doesn’t necessarily make sense, and you can just convert that to two bedrooms instead of one bedroom, and get way more money… Obviously, it depends. Same thing with an extra living space that might not necessarily be in demand in that market, converting that to a bedroom, or keeping it the same… Again, depending on the market.
Joe Fairless: [unintelligible [00:18:23].10] He is an investor based in Phoenix, Arizona. He specializes in wholesaling. They do over 70 wholesale deals a month. Their business model is to be the wholesalers’ wholesaler. When a wholesaler has an opportunity, cannot find a buyer, they go to Jameill’s group, and Jameill’s group has a list of 80,000 buyers with a 30% open rate, who he and his team send it out to.
The business model is not to be as focused – or nearly as focused – as finding the opportunities, but more focused on having a buyers list that is robust, and being the solution to wholesalers’ challenges if they don’t have buyers for their properties.
Clearly, I had to hone in on how did he create a list of 80,000 buyers with a 30% open rate when he sends out an opportunity. And he says he thinks of themselves as a tech and data company (surprise, surprise), and they have a two-step process. One is his business partner has a software background, so he has a software that they created that scrapes social platforms and the internet for a list of potential people who might be qualified buyers. Think of accredited investors – they look for that type of person.
And then Jameill’s team will actually personally reach out to these people and send them a note through that platform. He talks about what that note says. I didn’t write that down in my notes, but he sends them an intro message, and just by sheer volume of the amount of messages through that software platform that they initially find all these leads, they get a lot of people to say “Yes, I’d be interested in being on your list.” And he’ll search for #azdoctor, for example, he’ll search for lawyers, he’ll search for accountants, Facebook groups… They’ll see what you have liked and map that back to if you’d be a likely real estate investor.
So just 1) having a business that is a solution for other people in your industry, who could be perceived as competitors; that’s interesting to me. That could be applied to any business. So one, quick, think of all your competitors. Two, how could you actually be of service to them, so that they pay you for your service. That could lead to some interesting stuff. That’s what he did. And then two is the one-two approach that he and his team take to building that big list. One is you write a software, two is you have individuals reach out to these people.
Theo Hicks: Is his business partner doing it, or do they have VAs doing —
Joe Fairless: VAs. Yeah, it sounded like they have an army of VAs.
Theo Hicks: I was gonna say, I can’t imagine him sending out 8,000 messages to people.
Joe Fairless: No, it’s 80,000 people on the buyers list. That’s an email that gets sent out.
Theo Hicks: It’s probably more than that.
Joe Fairless: But you’re right, if there’s 80,000 people on the buyers list, good point – they probably sent out half a million personal messages.
Theo Hicks: I think on MailChimp the average open rate for the real estate category – and again, this is just MailChimp – is like 10% maybe. So they’re three times what it usually is. So obviously that person will touch them, and rather than just stopping at step one and saying “Okay, here’s who we want to target”, and then kind of just like creating content and sending it out and hoping they see it, they proactively just go after that one specific person and send them a message… And obviously, that seems to be working out.
I bet it’s a very interesting interview, if you go into specifics on how he’s finding these people on Facebook, using the hashtags, or whatever software that he’s writing. Obviously, not every single person is gonna write the software, but everyone can navigate the Facebook, the Twitter, the LinkedIn search function. It might take a little bit extra time, but again, it sounds like they’re using VAs, and 30% open rate is pretty amazing.
Joe Fairless: It is. And I asked him “Do you send that list anything other than deals?” He says “No. I absolutely don’t.” That’s how we approach our private investor list. I don’t send them anything other than opportunities. There has been one exception where I asked them for thoughts on the book that we’re writing – what would they want in that book – because we were writing that book for them, to help them on how to think about passively investing in apartment communities. But besides that, I don’t believe I’ve ever send an email to my private investor list about anything other than opportunities that we have available.
Cool. And then lastly, Jason Parker – he is an investor in Seattle, Washington, but he’s also a financial advisor with a focus on retirement planning. I enjoy talking to people who aren’t exclusively focused on real estate, so that we get a broader perspective. One thing he says when he sits down with potential clients – he asks them “What is the purpose of your money and why do you have it?” And when he was asking that question, I was like “Man, that’s a good question.” What is the purpose of my money and why do I have it? I thought about it a little bit (not a whole lot) since then, and I view money as simply a tool to exchange and to help build lifestyle and do things with.
It’s not powerful to me, it’s simply a tool. And by thinking of it as a tool, it allows me to feel good about value exchanges, it allows me to invest in myself by going to a Tony Robbins program… And it’s just a tool to help me become a better person, in that example, or give to all the non-profits we give to at BestEverCauses.com…
So I think it’s just an important question to ask ourselves, “What is the purpose of our money and why do we have it?” I don’t know what the right answer is, but it hit me as something that is a question or two questions that we should ask ourselves, so I just wanted to make note of it.
Theo Hicks: I see it on here, “Not too concerned [unintelligible [00:24:38].18]”
Joe Fairless: Yeah, so you’re looking at some notes that I had during the conversation… And he said that potential clients, when he asked them that, they tend to not be too concerned about leaving money to their kids. They wanna have the same standard of living that they’re accustomed to. But they’re like “You know what – we’ve done what we needed to do for our kids, and at this point, kids, you’ve gotta make it happen or not.” Generally, that’s the sentiment from his potential clients.
Theo Hicks: That’s interesting, because you hear a lot of times people’s goal is the legacy, family wealth, leaving it to their kids… I have a five-month-old, so it might change, but I’m definitely on board with this guy. We could probably talk about that for hours, so… You can move on.
Joe Fairless: Cool. Alright. I think that’s all. That’s all I wanted to mention on that.
Theo Hicks: Okay. Those were really good lessons. I really liked the college guy. It reminded me back to when I was in school, and I did a few things — nothing like this, but I was slightly entrepreneurial while I was in college, to make some money, just because I didn’t have anything and I didn’t wanna work a regular job at that time.
Joe Fairless: Colleen and I were on our walk the day after I did these interviews, and I was like “And he had $300,000 in the bank account after he graduated college…!” I was just so blown away. I still am. Very impressive.
Theo Hicks: Alrighty. Well, let’s move on to the trivia question. This is the Jeopardy month. Last week the question was “The U.S. state that is home to the two cities that have the lowest cost of living.” The answer was “What is Texas?”
Joe Fairless: Oh, Texas…! My backyard.
Theo Hicks: The two cities – I don’t know if you recognize these… Harlingen and McAllen.
Joe Fairless: Yeah, Harlingen is by the border. I think they’re both by the border.
Theo Hicks: Okay. The cost of living was 20% below the national average, and way below the highest, which was obviously New York.
Alright, this week’s question is — Yardi Matrix (they’re a real estate research company) just released their biannual rental growth information… So this week’s answer is “The U.S. city with the highest year-over-year rent growth as of June 2019, 8.4%.” So what’s the question? What is that city?
Joe Fairless: Say that again?
Theo Hicks: The U.S. city with the highest year-over-year rent growth as of June 2019. The number is actually 8.4% rent growth in 12 months.
Joe Fairless: Okay, so in the last 12 months trailing June, so from June to June?
Theo Hicks: Yeah.
Joe Fairless: The U.S. city with the highest rent growth, 8.4%… I’ll go with Orlando.
Theo Hicks: Orlando. So the first person to get that answer correctly – you can either submit your answer in the YouTube comments, or you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org – will get a copy of our first book.
And then lastly, the free apartment syndication resource of the week – I actually just finished recording the last series of the first part of Syndication School, which goes over the entire process… So we just talked about how to sell your deal. That will be coming out next week. Then we’re gonna go back over Syndication School and go into more detail on some of those episodes, some of those steps.
But anyways, we give away free documents for Syndication School, so we’re highlighting those on Follow Friday at the end. This week’s free document we’re gonna highlight is from series number ten, which is how to structure the GP and the LP compensation. That starts at episode 1597; I believe it’s a two-part series, so 1597 and 1598. First we go over how to structure the compensation for the general partners, so how the GP makes money, and then next one is how you as a syndicator can structure the compensation with your limited partner.
To help you with that, the free document is the LP structure decision tree. It’s basically a series of yes or no questions that you answer, and based on the answer to the previous question we’ll ask another question, and ultimately you’ll land on what’s the idea partnership structure with your investors, whether that’s debt equity, preferred return, profit split, what the limit should be… Things like that. You can download that in the show notes of 1597 and 1598, or in the show notes of this Follow Along Friday.
Joe Fairless: Well, very valuable resources, and they’re free, so definitely if you’re in the industry or wanna be in the industry, take advantage of that. Best Ever listeners, I hope you enjoyed this, and most importantly, got a lot of value from it. We will talk to you tomorrow.