July 17, 2020

JF2145: Property Management Focus With Peter Tverdov


Peter is the Founder and CEO of Tverdov Housing, a management company in Central New Jersey. Peter goes into how he got started into real estate management and he gives some tips that may help you manage your own properties. 

Peter Tverdov Real Estate Background:

  • Founder and CEO of Tverdov Housing  
  • 6 years of real estate investing experience
  • Based in New Brunswick, NJ

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Best Ever Tweet:

“Don’t invest in a market you don’t know. Start in the area you live in.” – Peter Tverdov


Theo Hicks: Hello, Best Ever listeners. Welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Theo Hicks, today’s host, and today, we’re speaking with Peter Tverdov. Peter, how are you doing today?

Peter Tverdov: Good, Theo. Thanks for having me.

Theo Hicks: Yep, absolutely, and thanks for joining us. A little bit about Peter – he is the founder and CEO of Tverdov Housing, he has six years of real estate investing experience, he’s based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and you can say hi to him at tvdhousing.com. Peter, do you mind telling us a little bit more about your background and what you’re focused on today?

Peter Tverdov: Sure. So I worked on Wall Street for 11 years, and in the middle of that got into real estate investing, and as soon as I got a taste of it, I absolutely loved it like a lot of real estate investors out there. I liked it so much that I began trying to come up with multiple income streams in addition to the passive investing that real estate offers. So long story short, I started doing property management for people on the side in my neighborhood. I didn’t really think anything of it, and grew it very slowly, deliberately, on purpose. And as I did that, when you think about it, it speeds up the experience you get as a landlord or a real estate investor, because you deal with so many different houses and so many different tenants and situations. And long story short, earlier in 2020, I left my job on Wall Street to run that business full time, and it’s absolutely exploded from that point, and I’m very happy with the decision I made.

Theo Hicks: So your full-time job now is running the property management company and you also mentioned that you passively invest in deals. So are you saying you passively invest in other people’s deals, or are you saying the deals that you buy is passively investing?

Peter Tverdov: I should probably clarify. So when people think of passive investing, it’s investing in other people’s deals, being a hard money lender or just owning your own property. I happen to own my own real estate investments and in addition to that, that’s when I also created the property management business for other people. So that’s what I meant by creating another stream of income.

Theo Hicks: Got it. So what type of properties do you own and manage?

Peter Tverdov: I realized early on that the riches are in the niches. So it took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do on the management side. So for management, we strictly manage single-family, two to four-family, small apartment buildings, probably no more than 25-30 units, and we only do that in three counties in Central New Jersey. So it’s Middlesex, Somerset and Union County. I know it might sound a very niche actually for an audience from a larger state, but between those three counties, there’s about 3 million people. So a lot of tenants to find, a lot of clients to make happy and so that’s what we do on the management side.

For my own personal investing – and this is how I started – everything I invest in is student rentals, because that is really all that I knew from a real estate investing perspective; but that stuff is still single-family, two to four-family. So it fits in with what we do on the management side as well.

Theo Hicks: And then how many doors do you manage and how many student rental doors do you own?

Peter Tverdov: I own ten doors, it’s all students, and those doors are included in the management business. The management business right now – we’re at about 110 doors and hoping to hit 120 to 150 by the end of the year. We’ve grown nicely and I’m looking to continue to do that.

Theo Hicks: What types of things do you do to grow your management company when you’re first starting out? So I know you mentioned that you started off by managing properties of people in your neighborhood. So maybe walk us through specifically what you did to get those properties under management, and then we can go on the next steps from there.

Peter Tverdov: One of the first things I would say is it helps to live in an actual rental neighborhood. So a lot of investors I come across, they make the mistake of buying a townhouse, for example, and they don’t want to sell it and they move out of state and they want to rent it and they barely cash flow on it. That was never meant to be a rental to begin with. So the neighborhood that I bought in, it was all multi-family. It was two families, three families, four families and some single families. So the zoning in that town was already encouraging rental properties, and because of that there was just for-rent signs everywhere, and after a while, I would just go up and down the streets and cold call people and say, “Hey, I saw your sign’s been for rent for a while now. I live in town, I do a really good job, I could do XYZ for you. Let me help you out. What have you got to lose?” and slowly I built up my client base that way, just good old fashioned cold calling; it didn’t cost me anything out of pocket either.

Theo Hicks: Is that how you found the majority of those 110 doors or is that just what you were doing that first?

Peter Tverdov: That’s what I did to start out. Frankly, I didn’t really spend money on advertising until this year. I do have to give my brother in law credit. Last summer, he mentioned digital media marketing to me and I really took to it, and that’s where I got more active on Instagram, I started to use an SEO company to help with my SEO on my website and get my ranking to be increased on Google and on Bing and search engines like that. So that has certainly helped a lot, and then we do a little postcard marketing.

So we use a lot of the same theories that people use when they’re trying to find deals, like the yellow letters, cold calling… It’s just we also do that for property management, because no one else is really doing that. Oftentimes, I wind up having decent conversations with these folks, and they remember my name and I check in on them periodically, and some clients, I’ve been speaking with them for two years, and they finally reach out to me and they say, “Hey, Pete, let’s do it.” So it’s something that’s taken a while, but the way I always think of it is that I’m planting lots of seeds. So the seeds that I’m planting today, I hope they result in a crop six months from now, a year from now. So in my mind, it’s always important to continue to plant seeds every day if you want to find clients, find deals or really find anything of value.

Theo Hicks: What type of things are you doing on Instagram?

Peter Tverdov: I’m kind of open kimono, I try to make it interesting for the audience. So I’ll do before and after pictures of rental rehabs that we do, I’ll do before and after pictures of my own property if I’m working on it. I’ll do instructional videos for tenants on how to read a gas meter, what to do if your power goes off, how to turn off the main water shutoff, or I’ll show architect drawings, I’ll show site plans, really anything that’s involving my business to engage the audience and also educate them. I’ve really taken a liking to it, because again, that’s another thing that’s free when it comes to marketing, and it’s helped my business become pretty well known in New Brunswick, and I look forward to continue to do that and to help that grow even more.

Theo Hicks: Is there a specific strategy you implement? I [unintelligible [00:09:52].26], but I know that there’s hashtags and stuff. So do you hashtag the specific areas you’re in to make sure you’re targeting that area?

Peter Tverdov: Yes, some of the staples are you have to post at certain times, and I guess that varies based on your industry. The hashtags are very important. I would say the most important thing is the photo. It has to be engaging, it has to be interesting, and that gets harder and harder, and frankly, it’s really time-consuming. A lot of the bigger people on social media, I’d say they probably have a VA doing that for them. I’m not there yet. I don’t really think I’ll be there for a while, which is fine. That’s not why I do it, is to have 50,000 or 100,000 followers. But for somebody just starting out, I would suggest using lots of hashtags and posting at critical times during the day. So first thing in the morning, or when people are getting off work or lunch break. That’s when people tend to look at Instagram the most, myself included.

Theo Hicks: What are some of the biggest management mistakes that you’ve either done or that you see other people doing that anyone who’s wanting to start their own property management company should avoid?

Peter Tverdov: I’m going to answer the question a little differently. I would say the biggest management mistake anybody makes and it’s usually a mom and pop landlord is, they just don’t know how much it costs to run a rental property correctly. So I’ll give a couple of examples. I have a client who likes to use local electric and gas companies warranty contract. So if the tenant has an issue, that company will come out and they’ll put paper clips and band-aids on the problem. So it doesn’t really solve the problem, and then when it becomes a massive problem, they throw their hands up and say, “Hey, this is not our issue to solve.”

What people don’t realize about property management– so let’s say you hire a handyman and the guy’s done work for you before and he’s really cheap and he gets the job done. So when we bring out a new client, the person will say, “Hey, can I use my handyman?” and I’ll tell them, “No. If you want us to use them, then they need to be onboarded properly. Have you gotten a criminal background check on your handyman? Because we have to do that with ours, because there’s stories of people pulling a knife on somebody in a house. Or in one town, there was a guy who was a handyman, he was in prison for a decade. Oops… Didn’t know that, right?” So things like that, your typical mom and pop landlord don’t think about, or things as simple as fire safety inspections. Part of what we do is we do quarterly inspections, and the reason why we do is we check the smoke detectors, we check the carbon monoxide, we make sure the fire extinguishers are full. So each year– I shouldn’t say each year, but the regulations on that stuff always change and you have to be on top of it; and if you’re not and if you don’t have the ten-year smoke detectors in your house or if you haven’t gotten a fire safety inspection, you could have a major fire if there’s a fire, or God forbid, something worse.

So there’s a lot of attention to detail when it comes to property management that your average client doesn’t fully understand, but the good thing with my business is I’m also a real estate investor. So I get it. This is not a charity. You do this to make money and to create passive income for yourself, but at the same time, you just have to do it correctly. You have to spend the proper amount of money, and frankly, you have to buy at a good enough price where you’re not running a business on a shoestring budget because that’s just not gonna work in the end.

Theo Hicks: What is your best either real estate investing advice or property management advice ever?

Peter Tverdov: The best real estate investing piece of advice I would give to people is don’t invest in a market that you don’t know. If you want to be a real estate investor, start at your hometown, or start where you live now, and study the holy hell out of that area. That’s what I did, and I only personally invest in one market; and maybe that’ll change, but what I did is I wrote down every home sale for two years and what the rents were and what the price sold for. And obviously, there’s some variables based on the condition of the house, but based off of that, I knew what investors considered value in that town, and that’s going to vary. Value is different in New York, Detroit, Memphis, Atlanta, but if you’re investing in Memphis thinking that it’s the same value as in New York, you’re going to get smoked on a deal. And conversely, when you see a deal, you’re going to know it’s a deal because it’s going to be lower than what the average home prices are or the cap rates are. So that’s something I always tell people when they’re first starting out.

On the management side, I would say just do things right the first time. Don’t go cheap; you don’t have to get the most expensive guy — and I learned this myself from being a real estate investor and it came back to bite me in the butt, but don’t go cheap, do things correctly and you’ll have less headaches down the road.

Theo Hicks: Perfect. Are you ready for the Best Ever lightning round?

Peter Tverdov: Sure.

Theo Hicks: Alright. First, a quick word from our sponsor.

Break: [00:14:35]:04] to [00:15:18]:02]

Theo Hicks: Okay, Peter, what is the best ever book you’ve recently read?

Peter Tverdov: One of my favorites that I like to recommend to people is called How Rich People Think, and it explains the difference between people who are multimillionaires and people who are not, and really the answer is right smack in front of you; it’s a book that I love. I’ve given that one to my younger brother to read. I gave it to him two years ago. I’m still waiting for him to finish up here. So hopefully if he got this far in the podcast, it’ll give him some motivation to finish, but it’s honestly a fantastic book. I would recommend that to anybody.

Theo Hicks: If your business were to collapse today, what would you do next?

Peter Tverdov: Fight. Fall down six times, get up seven. Honestly, I’d probably make some calls in the investment banking world where I used to work and see if I can make something happen there, but I’ve always been a fighter and someone who just scratches and claws and just refuses to lose and I don’t think that’ll ever change.

Theo Hicks: What is the best ever way you like to give back?

Peter Tverdov: I played football at Rutgers for four years, and when I played, we went to four straight bowl games. We were AP top 25, 17 weeks in a row. My senior year, we knocked out eight starting quarterbacks. The last game I ever played was actually against Russell Wilson, and the dude was so fast, I had a cough for two weeks after the game; it was nuts. But we knocked his ass out too actually, and we won the game. That’s when he played for NC State. But anyway, I probably donate way too much time and money to Rutgers Athletics and the football program and gymnastics because it’s my wife who was a gymnast there, but I love the place, I love dealing with student athletes. I think they’re some of the best people you could hire. They’re tough, they’re coachable, they know how to work with different people… So it’s something I just really enjoy doing.

Theo Hicks: And then lastly, what is that the best ever place to reach you?

Peter Tverdov: The easiest way to reach me is on Instagram. My Instagram is @tverdovhousing, and besides that, you can reach me on our website, just use the contact form. I’m happy to help investors or potential clients. That’s why I started my business, was to help people either on the brokerage side, on the management side, and we’ve also started to get into a little construction management as well. So at the end of the day, if someone’s interested in real estate and interested in having somebody guide them, then I’m more than happy to help.

Theo Hicks: Well Peter, thanks again for joining us today and walking us through how you started and grew your property management company. A few of the big takeaways for me is one, you talked about your strategy to start a property management company, and number one was it is important to live in a rental friendly neighborhood, and you talked about a good indication of that would be seeing for-rent signs everywhere. So you went up and down the street and cold-called the for-rent signs to get your business going. You mentioned it was a free strategy. So anyone out there who wants to start a management company, that’s definitely a free way to do that.

And then you mentioned how you’re transitioning now into paid advertising, digital media marketing, and you talked about what you’re doing on Instagram, the types of things you’re posting, how hashtags are important, posting at the right time’s important, the photo is important, making sure it’s engaging and interesting.

We also talked about the fact that you’re doing the things that investors do to find deals, but you’re doing it as a management company and not a lot of people aren’t doing that, so there’s not a lot of competition… Whereas there’s lot of competition for those using those strategies for actually finding deals. We talked about some of the biggest management mistakes, which is not understanding how much it costs to run a company. Rather than solving problems, people just put band-aids on them, letting clients use their own people without the proper management company screening them properly, and then you mentioned not doing quarterly inspections.

And then your best ever advice, which was for investing – invest in a market that you know very well, that you live in and study that area. You mentioned how for two years you wrote down all the sales, how much they sold for, the rents… And on the management side, you said do things right the first time. So again, anyone who’s listening that wants to start a management company, you got all the tools right here. Peter gave you his Instagram information and said he likes helping people, so definitely take advantage of that. So thank you for that, Peter. Thanks again for joining us. Best ever listeners, as always, thank you for listening. Have a best ever day and we will talk to you tomorrow.

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