September 7, 2020

JF2197: Two Years In Real Estate With Jeff & Taylor Adams

Jeff & Taylor Adams are a husband and wife team attacking the real estate world. They share how they began investing with house hacking to out of state investing due to the cost of real estate mentor in their area. Being only two years into their journey they have faced many different situations and they were very willing to share to help you pursue your personal real estate adventure.

Jeff and Taylor Adams  Real Estate Background:

  • Jeff is a software engineer and Taylor is a realtor and co-founder of @womensinvestmentnetwork
  • 2 years of investing experience
  • Portfolio consists of Duplex and a mix of long-term rentals/AirBnBs, a single-family home, and one 5-unit building
  • Based in Boston, MA
  • Say hi to them at: Instagram @TaylorColemanAdams
  • Best Ever Book: Four Hour Work Week


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Best Ever Tweet:

“Listen to what you want to do and make sure you network with as many people as you can and try to add value to those relationships” – Jeff & Taylor Adams


Theo Hicks: Hello, Best Ever listeners and welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Theo Hicks and today I’ll be speaking with Jeff and Taylor Adams. Jeff and Taylor, how you guys doing today?

Jeff Adams: Great, how about you?

Taylor Adams: I’m doing great. Thanks for having us.

Theo Hicks: I’m doing great. Thanks for asking and thanks for joining us. Looking forward to our conversation. Before we get into that, let’s go over Jeff and Taylor’s background. So Jeff is a software engineer and Taylor is a realtor and the co-founder of Women’s Investment Network. They have two years of investing experience. Their portfolio consists of a duplex and a mix of long term rentals and Airbnbs, a single-family home, and a five-unit building. They’re based in Boston, Massachusetts, and you can say hi to them at their Instagram page, which is @taylorcolemanadams. So do you guys mind telling us a little bit more about your background and what you’re focused on today? And we’ll start with Jeff.

Jeff Adams: Our background is so intertwined. I mean, we’re a married couple, obviously. We met in college, we did the whole “We’re gonna get jobs…” I became a software engineer in robotics and Taylor went through a few things, you can talk about that… But really, the thing was, we needed to figure out how we were going to buy a house that we could actually live near our jobs and afford. The prices in Boston are crazy and our jobs were in the city of Boston. And the commute to get into Boston, if you’re even just 10 miles from the city, can take an hour and a half. So we started looking at single-family homes, but they’re just too pricey. So then we started looking more towards the duplexes. I mean, I’ll let Taylor do some of her background before we get into the real estate side.

Taylor Adams: Yeah, absolutely. So my background, I graduated from Northeastern University, and I started in finance, found out that was not for me, and I moved into higher education where I was before I left that work to become a real estate agent.

So I transitioned into real estate after Jeff and I started investing. So going off of what Jeff was just saying, we were looking for our single-family home to start out our lives together and decided to move forward with the duplex. At the time, we didn’t know anything about house hacking or BiggerPockets, and we eventually decided that we wanted to continue to buy properties because we got the bug. But we wanted to buy locally with our own money and realized that was going to take too long and it was going to be too expensive. So we started to explore out-of-state investing, and that’s what led us to dive into the properties that we purchased over the last two years.

So we dove in to test the waters in Tennessee with a single-family house. We found out we loved it and decided it was time to scale up to a five-unit. Given all of this happening, the market in the Boston area was super, super hot, and Airbnb was something of a lot of interest to us. So we decided to turn our upstairs unit into an Airbnb in our house hack. So we were full steam ahead at this point. We’re ready to scale up into large multifamilies. We had a 25-unit under contract. We ended up backing out of that because the numbers didn’t work out, and then COVID hit. So now we’ve been pivoting our strategy a little bit to try and take advantage of all the new opportunities that we’re seeing.

Theo Hicks: Perfect. Thanks for sharing that. So let’s start with the duplex. So you didn’t know about the house hack, but was it a house hack deal? Did you owner occupy it and then rent upstairs to cover your payments?

Jeff Adams: We did, exactly. We rented out the second unit.

Theo Hicks: Great. So do you mind telling us the numbers on that deal?

Jeff Adams: Yeah. So I’m more of the numbers person in the partnership… So it was on the market for $650,000 which around here was a pretty good price at the time. It might be crazy for some areas of the country. We did the inspection, we found some issues, we were able to negotiate down to $625,000. There was a renter in place that was paying $900 a month. So we asked that it be delivered vacant, because they were month-to-month renters. So then, we were able to get that rented out for $2,000 a month upstairs – that’s a three-bedroom – and then we lived in the other unit that’s a two-bedroom.

Taylor Adams: And we did 4% down using an FHA loan for that.

Jeff Adams: Yep.

Theo Hicks: You guys still live there now right?

Taylor Adams: We do.

Theo Hicks: Okay, perfect. So then after that, you said that you wanted to keep investing and you moved to out of state. So why did you select Tennessee?

Taylor Adams: We were evaluating a number of different markets, but we found out that the cash flow in the Sunbelt was really appealing. So we narrowed our search down, landed on Memphis for the cash flow, the low barrier to entry as far as pricing, and then started speaking to some of the more substantial property managers in the area to get a better sense of the market, and that just propelled us to move forward with Memphis.

Theo Hicks: How did you find these property management companies? What type of questions did you ask them? How many did you talk to? What was the timeframe between speaking with them to buying a deal, things like that?

Jeff Adams: There’s a few places you can look for the list of property managers to call down. Back then, we didn’t know as much. So we were looking at Google and looking at just Zillow, who was renting out the most units and stuff, which wasn’t a terrible strategy, but there’s also lists of qualified property managers that you can go through. So we actually compiled a list – I think we had 10 or 15 – and did more research on them offline, looking at reviews and stuff, and we could just cross off a whole bunch right away.

So I think I ended up talking on the phone with three of them. And it was the questions like– a part of it was how do you handle vacancies and turnovers and just the logistical questions, but a lot of it for us, too, was trying to get a sense of whether we could just trust this person. If they’re 1000 miles away from us and handling an asset that we put money into, and it’s going to be giving us money every month, is this a person that we feel that we can deal with? Some people on the phone, you can tell right away. Your gut just says, “This isn’t the right person for me.” Maybe for someone else, they’d be fine, but not for me. So we finally narrowed it down to the person who said the right things and we actually trusted, and then went and saw him in person and did a tour of Memphis for the whole day with him and then decided, “Yes, this is definitely the guy.”

Taylor Adams: Yeah, and the guy that we ended up going with, he is really well connected in the area. When we met him, you could tell that he really had a good relationship with lots of different contractors and people in the area and he could build those relationships and that was really important to us.

Theo Hicks: For sure. So at this point, you knew that you were gonna do Memphis and you were just trying to find the right team on the ground in Memphis.

Taylor Adams: Yep, exactly.

Theo Hicks: Okay. How did you find the deal?

Jeff Adams: So the property manager also has his real estate license. So he actually helped us find it. It was just on MLS, on Zillow, all that, and we just went through a whole bunch. We went down there and physically looked at ten properties. It didn’t end up being one of those. A few days later, after we got back, we found the one after maybe ten more that we investigated.

Theo Hicks: What was the number? So similar to before – what did it cost? Did you put your money into it? Was it turnkey? And then what’s it renting for now?

Jeff Adams: We got it for $65,000. I think that was $5,000 less than his price. We only had to put about $2,500 into it. There wasn’t too much to do; just the little stuff that comes out of inspections and just like you’ve got to fix that system and this thing. And then it was already rented out for $895 a month, and I just– they had a year left on their lease, so that’s lasted for a while. We actually had to evict them because they stopped paying last fall. But that was a pretty easy process in Tennessee. It’s very landlord-friendly down there. And then we got a new tenant in for the same price, $895 a month, and that one’s been going pretty smoothly.

Taylor Adams: And that one, we did 25% down on that property.

Theo Hicks: Yeah. So it was a pretty steep price reduction from the 650k in Boston down to 25k. So [unintelligible [00:10:24].11] difference. Perfect. Okay, so then the next deal after that, you said, was a five-unit, right?

Taylor Adams: It was, yep.

Theo Hicks: Was that also in Tennessee?

Taylor Adams: Also in Tennessee. Pretty close to our single family.

Jeff Adams: Yeah. So that one, five units, it was listed at $140,000. We did an inspection, got it down to $120,000, renting it out. It’s on average, I think, $400 a unit right now.

Taylor Adams: And I think we put 20% down on that property.

Theo Hicks: Was that an MLS or was that off-market?

Jeff Adams: That was on the MLS, yeah.

Taylor Adams: And that one’s been quite a bit of work. That one is definitely more of a BRRRR strategy. We’ve put quite a bit of money into it so far and will continue to, and we hope to double the value of the property, so that we can refi it at around $240,000.

Theo Hicks: Okay, so are you gonna increase the rents on that after you do the repairs?

Jeff Adams: Yeah. So we actually got two vacant units when we bought it. So we rented those out, and then there’s two units that are way below market. They’re at $350,000, and we can get them probably up to $450,000 or $500,000 if we redo those units.

Taylor Adams: Yep.

Theo Hicks: Okay, something else you had mentioned during your intro was that you had a larger multifamily under contract and then backed out and then Coronavirus it, and then you’re pivoting to take advantage of new opportunities. What are these new opportunities?

Taylor Adams: When everything happened, we had planned on continuing to move forward with syndication, but our investors were feeling a little bit unsure about what was going to happen during lockdown and whatnot. So what we decided to do was really focus on our house hack, which we hadn’t really been focusing on at all. So over the course of the lockdown, we refinanced the property, we’ve done a ton of renovations, and we’re actually in the process of transitioning our Airbnb upstairs to a long-term rental, because it just makes more sense for our area at the moment. And by doing these two things, the refi and turning upstairs into a long term rental, we actually are going to be able to get another house hack. So that’s something that we’ve been focusing on with the assets we already have.

And then really just trying to free up cash and focus on what are going to be the big opportunities that happen once we’re in a “post-COVID” world. So we’re thinking about, do we want to continue to look at large multifamilies or does it make sense to continue our approach around smaller multis? Is there opportunity in other asset classes? So we’re trying to keep our investors in mind and what they’re interested in and make sure that we are putting them in positions where they’re not at a ton of risk, given the uncertainty of the market right now.

Theo Hicks: Do you have any potential new asset classes you want to move into in the post Coronavirus world?

Taylor Adams: Yeah, this might sound crazy, but we’re really curious about retail space right now. We know that because a lot of smaller businesses, unfortunately, are going out of business, we anticipate that’s going to be a burden on these landlords who are holding these retail spaces. So we’re interested in keeping an eye on what happens with some of these and seeing if that’s an asset class that we can move into.

Theo Hicks: Yeah, that’s definitely an interesting approach. Alright, so starting with Taylor, what is your best real estate investing advice ever?

Taylor Adams: My best advice would be to listen to what you want to do. So people who have never invested will have lots of opinions and tell you to not invest in real estate. But this is your journey, so you should pursue it anyway if it’s something that you’re passionate about.

Theo Hicks: And then Jeff?

Jeff Adams: So going off of that one, some people are going to say things that you don’t know anything about what you’re doing and you shouldn’t listen to that, but there’s also gonna be a lot of people out there that have already done exactly what you’re looking to do. So networking is just so important, getting to know those people. And you don’t want to pester people every day like, “Well, what do you do about this?” But just being around them, you often pick things up that you just wouldn’t have otherwise. So being able to add value to them and network with those types of people is going to help you on your journey.

Theo Hicks: Before we go into the lightning round, I do have another question. What advice would you give to others out there who want to start a real estate business with their husband or wife in order to make sure that that goes smoothly? What are some things you guys do to make sure that the business functions smoothly together 24×7?

Taylor Adams: Yes, especially right now, we’re together a lot. Well, first of all, it’s a ton of fun. So I think that the biggest thing is communication and making sure that you’re on the same page. We very much treat this like a business. So we’re doing quarterly, monthly, weekly meetings to make sure that we are on the same page and we’re approaching this in a very specific fashion, and I think that helps to balance it out. But then also do not forget to take time to not talk about real estate and to talk about something else, or else you could be talking about real estate 24×7.

Theo Hicks: Anything to add there, Jeff? Or you’re just, “I agree”?

Jeff Adams: Yes.

Taylor Adams: Yes, I agree.

Jeff Adams: That’s another key, is agreeing.

Taylor Adams: Yes. [laughs]

Theo Hicks: Alright, are you guys ready for the lightning round?

Taylor Adams: Yeah, I think so.

Break [00:15:40]:03] to [00:16:43]:09]

Theo Hicks: Okay. And we’ll just do for all of these, we’ll do Jeff first and then Taylor second. So what is the best ever book you’ve recently read?

Jeff Adams: For me, it’s the 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss.

Taylor Adams: And then for me, I’m gonna say that it’s the Seven Levels of Communication by Rick Masters.

Jeff Adams: [unintelligible [00:16:57].21]

Taylor Adams: I’m sorry. Seven Levels of Communication by Michael Maher.

Theo Hicks: Perfect. Okay, if your business were to collapse today, what would you do next?

Jeff Adams: We’re just always starting new businesses. This isn’t the first thing that we’ve done. We’ve started software-based things… I think we would just find a new business to create.

Taylor Adams: Yeah, we’re a little bit of serial entrepreneurs. I think that the other thing that I would say is that we would figure out a way to make it work, because I think we’re really passionate about real estate. So we would want to figure out a way to pivot in a way that allows us to continue to do it even if it’s not exactly what our strategy looked like before.

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

Taylor Adams: So I’ll go ahead and say… So I actually started a community for women who are interested in investing in themselves, in their future. I definitely see that there’s not as many women in the investing world as I would like. So this is something I’ve created to help women gain the confidence and just inspire them to get involved.

Jeff Adams: Yeah, and we just like to help people get there. We help to mentor other people that just haven’t done anything yet. So that’s why I’m really excited for what Taylor’s doing with her women investors network.

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

Taylor Adams: For me, that would be my Instagram @TaylorColemanAdams.

Jeff Adams: And for me, email is fine. So it’s

Theo Hicks: Perfect. Well, Jeff and Taylor, thanks for joining us today and walking us through your two-year journey. I really enjoy these conversations. I really like getting into the weeds and details on specifically what you guys have done to get started because other people who haven’t started can take a look at what you did over the first two years and replicate that so they can get their first deal.

So we talked about your first deal is that duplex in Boston and then from that, you transitioned to doing out of state investing with that single family property in Tennessee. We talked about why you chose Tennessee because of the low barrier of entry and cash flow. We talked about the process for understanding the market out of state, not really knowing it, never being there, or at least not living there, and that was through property managers. You created a list of 10 to 15 managers, you did some online research like looking at reviews, and you narrowed down to three. And then when you spoke to them, you obviously asked them the logistical questions about how they operate properties, but you really wanted to know if it was somebody that you could trust.

And then ultimately, you landed on one person who you ended up actually going down and touring Memphis with this person who was really well connected in the area and you ended up going with them. They also help you find this first deal, which is that single-family home. You went through the numbers on that. After that, you scaled up to the five-unit, which you also found on the MLS. The plan on that one is to do more rehabs and increase the rents. And then your next thing was to do the Airbnb upstairs, which we didn’t really talk about, which is fine. And then now, you said you’re going to be focusing on your house hack. So you refinanced it, you’ve done a lot of renovations and rather than doing the Airbnb upstairs, you’re going to do a longer-term rental.

And then in the future, that plan is to do another house hack, as well as making sure you’re freeing up some cash to focus on other opportunities, which you said you’re looking into the retail space because all these smaller businesses are going out of business and the people who actually own these retail spaces are probably going to be motivated because they’ve got no one paying them.

We talked about your best ever advice. For Taylor, it was to listen to what you want to do as opposed to letting other people tell you what you want to do. And then for Jeff, it was making sure that you’re networking with people who are already doing what you want to do. And then we talked about some best ever tips for working with a spouse or significant other – communication, making sure you’re on the same page, making sure you’re still structured in doing your quarterly, monthly and weekly meetings. And then you mentioned that it’s also important to take time to talk about things that aren’t real estate related and then obviously, making sure that you guys are agreeing a lot on things. So Jeff and Taylor, again, appreciate you guys coming on the show. Best Ever listeners, as always, thank you for listening. Have a best ever and we’ll talk to you tomorrow.

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