Dan is a full-time realtor and investor who has over 10 years of real estate experience with a portfolio consisting of 9 doors and has invested in 2 syndications. As an investor-friendly agent, Dan gives advice on how to approach an agent and how to properly start as a new investor.
Dan Rivers Background:
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“Mindset is one of my favorite books because it really opens your idea around fixed and growth mindset” – Dan Rivers
Theo Hicks: Hello, Best Ever listeners, and welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Theo Hicks, and today we are speaking with Dan Rivers. Dan, how are you doing today?
Dan Rivers: Excellent, Theo. Thanks for having me on.
Theo Hicks: Thanks for joining us. I’m looking forward to our conversation. Before we dive into that, a little bit about Dan – he’s a full-time realtor and investor, with over 10 years of real estate experience. His portfolio consists of nine doors, six of which he did with a business partner, and then three others. He’s also invested in two syndication deals. He is based in Charleston, South Carolina, and you can say hi to him at DanRivers.com.
Dan, do you mind telling us a little bit more about your background and what you’re focused on today?
Dan Rivers: Sure, Theo. I started back in around 2004, moved from Boston down to Tampa, and got into property management, the condo and HOA side. I hit the ground running, learned by fire; I started out with 16 properties to manage, which consisted of high-rises on Clearwater Beach, to some homeowner associations downtown.
From there, I moved back to Boston in ’07, where I moved up the ranks there, finishing around 2015 as division president for a property management company… It was around then that I realized that property management was great, I had a lot of experience from it, between learning contracts, financials, insurance – really all the ins and outs of a property… But it wasn’t my passion. And in 2018, my wife and I decided to move down to Charleston – best decision ever – and I got my real estate license in May of 2018 and hit the ground running from there.
In 2019 was my first real full year as a realtor down here. I realized at the end of 2018 I wanted to focus on investing and working with investors. It was my niche, it was my passion… And in 2019 I was able to become a top 10% realtor down here, selling 26 homes. That was my first full year. This year I’ve actually surpassed my goal of 5 million, and gonna shoot for 10 million this year in sales… Primarily focusing on investors, but I also do regular residential sales as well. My business partner and I – areas that we’re focusing on right now are particularly BRRRRs in the North Charleston area down here in Charleston, South Carolina. We have six ourselves under our belt, we’re refinancing a couple and we’re looking to grow to at least ten this year, and really get that to about 40 units over the next five years.
Theo Hicks: Perfect. So you’ve got two focuses right now, which is the BRRRRs with your business partner, and then also you’re working with investors to help them buy deals, right?
Dan Rivers: Exactly. I have several out of town investors that are BRRRing, flipping, doing those types of things. So yes, exactly.
Theo Hicks: Okay. So you’re what’s considered an investor-friendly agent, which a lot of people in the investing world would love to have… So one question I have for you is whenever you are — and again, I’m doing this for people who want to work with investor-friendly agents… So whenever you are considering working with someone, will you work with literally anyone who reaches out to you and says “Hey, I wanna invest in real estate. Will you be my realtor?” or are there certain things that an individual needs to have done first before you start working with them, if that makes sense?
Dan Rivers: It’s actually a great question, because people always say “I wanna get into real estate investing” – okay, well then what? And I’m happy to help out anybody. If someone just wants to have a call just for guidance, they’re not looking to invest in the next six months, I’m happy to chat with them to kind of guide them on where they need to be… To the person who’s been real estate investing in several markets and now just wants to get into the Charleston area market and is a pro at it.
So all levels, always happy to help out. Everybody has to start somewhere. And it depends on where you’re at, and that’s the guidance I’ll give you. If you’re a brand new investor and really wanna get into it, then that’s where I really go over “Alright, we’ve gotta start from the beginning. You’ve gotta know your end goal.” What are your goals? Because one of the biggest things people do is they’ll want to invest in real estate, they wanna flip, they wanna BRRRR, they wanna wholesale; they kind of wanna do a handful of things. But if you don’t really specify a niche of what you wanna attack first, you end up having paralysis by analysis.
So I try to guide someone, “Alright, what are you goals?” Passive income/Active income. What are you looking to actually accomplish, and then help them hone in on those goals. That’s the first step of any investor – really know your niche. And then once you have that going – if you want me to get into and kind of go over a few things that I do, it’s build a strong team. That’s definitely step number two. Once you know what you wanna do, you need to build that strong team. Lenders, investor-friendly agents, contractors, insurers, property managers if you’ve gonna be buying a rental portfolio. I think people don’t understand how important that part is. And as an investor-focused agent, I’m happy to try to set those things up and help guide people to all of those contexts, to give them that extra value. And I think that’s really the beginning part of investing. Anybody who wants to invest in the area or invest with me – those are the areas I really try to focus on to really guide people and help them out.
Theo Hicks: Are these team members – these lenders, these insurance people, property managers – do you refer them to your go-to people that you have built relationships with?
Dan Rivers: Absolutely. I have a couple of go-to people in all of those areas, but I also welcome people to research on their own. We have plenty of investment groups down here in the Charleston area, and sometimes people just reach out to other investors as well, to see what’s worked for them. Because it’s not a one-size-fits-all. I wanna make sure the personalities and the end goals match up to what the client wants.
Theo Hicks: Do you help your clients find deals?
Dan Rivers: Absolutely. Whether they’re on or off-market deals, I’ve actually in the past couple weeks have helped lock up a few wholesale deals, some off-market deals for clients… One wants to flip it, the other one is going to BRRRR it… As well as on-market deals. So however I could find them something that’ll match their criteria, I’m happy to help them out.
Theo Hicks: What are some of your lead-generation tactics that you’re using to find these off market and on-market deals? Do you mean on-market that you list them on the market, or you found them on the MLS from some other agent?
Dan Rivers: Yeah, the on-market is mainly just through the MLS. If I have something coming soon, or something that I am aware of in my brokerage, I’ll obviously send that off to my clients right away first, before it hits the market. But besides that, the off-market stuff are a lot of local wholesalers. I make sure that I’m on as many email lists as possible. I built relationships with the local wholesalers… As well as I have a team here that will send out letters to communities or specific houses if someone’s interested in something, to try to market that way as well.
Theo Hicks: Say you’ve got an off market deal – and you mentioned that before you list it on the market, you’ll give it to your clients first… But how do you know which clients to send it to? Do you send it to all of them, and they all get a fair shot, whether they’ve never done a deal with you before or they have done a deal with you? Whether you’ve just met them or you’ve known them for a while…? How do you decide who gets the deal?
Dan Rivers: That’s a great question. I will send it out to people that I know are ready to buy and can close on the deal, because that’s one of the most important factors here, especially on off-market deals. They either have to be cash or hard money, and it’s gotta be someone who’s willing and ready to close on the deal. Because if not, I don’t wanna waste that wholesaler’s time or that connection’s time, because they may not send that deal to me first next time, or they may not be as apt to do business.
So the investor has to be ready to do the deal, and I’m happy to get them to that point, but they have to be ready to close on that deal.
Theo Hicks: Perfect. So what can listeners do to portray to the investor-friendly agents in their markets that they’re serious, they’re credible, and they’re able to close on the deal? To be more specific, let’s say they actually haven’t done their first deal before; is it possible for them to portray the ability to close without having that prior track record of actually closing? Or do you wanna see someone who’s actually closed on a deal before, and you know that based off of that they are capable of actually closing?
Dan Rivers: Obviously, the latter is nice, because if they’ve done deals before, you know that they’ve gone through the process, so they’re ready to do a deal and they can analyze it usually a little bit quicker… But no, I’m happy to help the person out with their first deal. Everybody’s gotta start somewhere.
So if it’s their first deal, I’m just gonna make sure that they have all their pieces in place, as I mentioned before. Most importantly, how are they getting the money? Can they close on the deal, can they buy the deal? I’ll also guide them if they’re analyzing a deal; I have my own spreadsheets I hand out to people, or if they have their own, I’m happy to take a quick review over it, just to give a second set of eyes to make sure that the numbers look good and the deal seems to be right up their alley. But as long as they have the proof of funds and the ability to close on that deal, it’s okay if it’s their first deal or their 50th.
Theo Hicks: Perfect. Do you want them just to tell you “Hey, I’ve got the money”? Do you wanna see bank statements of the money actually in the account?
Dan Rivers: Yeah, either see a bank statement, or some sort of approval letter from a lender. Sometimes I’ll even check in with a lender, but yeah, I want some sort of physical copy of that… Unless we’ve done deals in the past and I know that they have that ability, then I don’t have to see this every time, once I know that they’re able to close.
Theo Hicks: So besides actually transacting with an investor-friendly broker and doing deals, proof of funds, working with them on the education piece, what are some of the ways that investors can network on an ongoing basis with investor-friendly agents, besides what we’ve talked about already? What types of things do you like to see – texting you, catching up with you, maybe in-person types of things, adding value to your business? Again, the entire purpose of all of this is try to give the listeners the best advice on how to win over someone like you, so that every time you get a deal, they’re the first person that gets to see it? So what are some other networking things that they can do to put themselves in that position?
Dan Rivers: That’s a good question. As I mentioned, just being serious about it, going for 100%, having that team in place. Once you know someone’s serious on that level and not just trying to pick your brain – which I don’t mind, if someone asks me just general questions; they may not be ready for all this, and it’s perfectly fine… But it’s just having the pieces in place and ready to go, and be willing to go for it. So to not just analyze deals, but actually act on them. As long as they’re ready to go, that’s the biggest thing. And being willing to do it. If they’re just kind of sitting on the sidelines, saying “I’ve been analyzing…” I had one guy actually tell me he’s been analyzing stuff for three years, he’s just been a little nervous to really go for it… But I don’t mind helping walk someone through and get them to that level… But you’ve gotta be able to take that plunge. There’s no way to make money in this business until you take the risk.
Theo Hicks: So transitioning for a little bit to your deals that you buy… So your business partner – is he involved in the realtor business with you, or is this someone separate?
Dan Rivers: No, he’s actually the finance guy. He works for a pharmaceutical company in finance, and he takes care of all the backend stuff for us. When it comes to analyzing deals, find the deals, managing the deals – that’s all on my end. He helps keep the books and makes sure that he gets stuff ready for the tax accountant at the year end, and those types of things.
Theo Hicks: How did you meet him?
Dan Rivers: It’s pretty easy, he’s my brother in law. That made it a little bit easier. He’s my wife’s brother, so we just hit it off, had a lot of the same goals of where we wanna be in the future, how we wanna invest passively… A lot of our goals just aligned, so it just made sense to start off. We did our first deal together and it went about as smooth as possible. From there, we were able to grow — I think our six units we have together, we’ve got them in a matter of 15 months. So we’re trying to grow as quickly as possible, but our goals align, how we work together really benefits each other… So it worked out really well.
Theo Hicks: How are you guys funding your deals?
Dan Rivers: We have kind of a unique strategy. We try to buy one or two BRRRRs at a time. Usually, under 100k you can actually do that down here in some parts of North Charleston. We have some investments in the stock market, and we were able to find a bank that gave us a line of credit against the stock market investments, so that we’re able to use a line of credit at about 4%, 4,5% interest to purchase the deals, to rehab the deals, and then we refinanced out of them.
Theo Hicks: Is this a local community bank?
Dan Rivers: Yup, local community bank here in Charleston.
Theo Hicks: And you just go in there and ask them to do this? Did you know ahead of time you wanted to get a line of credit against the stock market, or is that something that they were offering, and why you selected them?
Dan Rivers: No, we actually just found creative ways. We initially put a certain amount of money into an account together, kind of matched it, and we were like “You know what – we wanna grow as fast as this is gonna allow us to.” So we were just trying to think creatively, and I went to the bank — I do a lot of banking with this specific bank here in Charleston… And I went to them and we kind of just were brainstorming some ways to be able to get a line of credit… And when we brought up the fact that we had money in the stock market and they were able to go on and credit against it, we just kind of fell into it.
Theo Hicks: Alright, Dan, what is your best real estate investing advice ever?
Dan Rivers: Go for it. Take the first step. You’ve really gotta take the plunge, you’ve gotta try it out. You may lose a little bit of money, you may win on your first deal, but if you don’t start, then you’re definitely not gonna be successful.
Theo Hicks: Alright, are you ready for the best ever lightning round?
Dan Rivers: I’m ready, let’s do it.
Theo Hicks: Alright. First, a quick word from our sponsor.
Theo Hicks: Okay Dan, what is the best ever book you’ve recently read?
Dan Rivers: Mindset. It’s one of my favorite books. It talks about the fixed vs. growth mindset, and it really opens up your mind to the idea of how you used to think of things, and how you could think of things in the future, whether it’s business-related, family-related, with kids… It’s a great read.
Theo Hicks: If your business were to collapse today, what would you do next?
Dan Rivers: I would like to work in the school system here to help educate kids on personal financing. And definitely [unintelligible [00:17:36].18] inner cities.
Theo Hicks: Tell us about the best deal you’ve done.
Dan Rivers: The best deal I’ve done… I’ve done an off market deal for about 65k. I had to put about 20k into it, and one down the street just sold for 175k, so I was able to build a lot of equity.
Theo Hicks: If you’ve ever lost money on a deal, how much did you lose and what lessons did you learn?
Dan Rivers: I have. One of our very first deals when I moved down here – we lost about 35k, and the biggest lesson I learned from that is make sure you’re aligning yourself with people with the same values as you have.
Theo Hicks: Solid lesson. Alright, what is the best ever way you like to give back?
Dan Rivers: I like to volunteer for the parks and rec down here, the county parks and rec… Whether it’s cleaning up beaches, or… My favorite event – they have a special needs prom every fall, and it’s a great thing to volunteer for.
Theo Hicks: And then lastly, what’s the best ever place to reach you?
Dan Rivers: You’ve already mentioned my website, danrivers.com, but if not, you can follow me on Facebook or Instagram @ecofriendlyrealtor.
Theo Hicks: Perfect. Dan, thanks for joining us today and giving us the ultimate guide to working with an investor-friendly agent. You mentioned that you are willing to have a conversation to give guidance to anyone, whether they’re totally brand new, or they’ve been in the business for decades.
You mentioned that if someone is brand new, the first two things you do is 1) you make sure they have specific goals and they have a specific niche they wanna focus on. Then once they know what they want and what niche they’re gonna focus on, you tell them that they need to build a team; you can help them find lenders, an agent (if it’s not you), insurance people, property managers… Or they go out and do research on their own.
We talked about how you’re finding deals. Obviously, you’ve got the deals on the MLS, you’re also finding off market deals through direct mail, as well as networking with local wholesalers and making sure you’re on all of their lists. And then we kind of talked about what people need to do in order to position themselves to get those pocket listings, to get those off-market deals from investor-friendly agents… And really, it ultimately comes down to them proving that they are able to close on a deal.
You gave an example of – you wanna make sure they have proof of funds. You wanna see a bank statement, so that you know that they have money to close. It’s ideal if they’ve done deals in the past.
You also wanna take a look at the numbers and make sure the numbers look good, so you’re not wasting your time putting it under contract and getting them to do due diligence, and they back out because their numbers don’t make any sense.
We also talked about ways that you can network with brokers… Really more of the same – just showing that you’re serious and that you’re not just there to pick your brain… Which you said is fine, but ultimately you have to be willing to go for it, to take that risk to actually buy the deal. And then also, you wanna make sure that they have the team in place first.
We also talked about your business partner, who is the finance person, it’s your brother-in-law, and that the reason why your partnership works so well is because you have the same goals, the same values, and you kind of just hit it off, you work really well together.
We talked about your strategy, which is really interesting… So you get a line of credit from a local bank against your stock market investments. You said that you were in there, brainstorming different ways to get cash, get money, get lines of credit, and you’ve mentioned that you had a stock market investment, and because of your previous relationships with this lender, they were willing to give you that line of credit.
Then lastly, we’ve got your best ever advice, which was to go for it, take the plunge, because if you don’t ever do anything, if you never start, you’re not going to be a successful real estate investor.
Dan, I appreciate you coming on the show and sharing that invaluable advice with us. Best ever listeners, as always, thank you for listening. Have a best ever day, and we’ll talk to you tomorrow.
Dan Rivers: Thank you, Theo.
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