Today we’re talking to Chris Cammack, a new investor who has already built a portfolio of 47 rentals under 2 years. Chris gives us a unique perspective on the benefits of working a corporate job, and how you can use the systems and process towards your real estate career. We learn about how he acquired so many properties so quickly, and his secrets for finding private investors.
Chris Cammack Real Estate Background:
- Full-time Account Manager
- 2 years of real estate experience
- Has completed 75 flips and wholesale deals
- Current portfolio consists of 47 rentals
- Based in Fort Wayne, IN
- Say hi to him at: www.cammackestates.com
- Best Ever Book: It’s All in Your Head
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Theo Hicks: Hello, Best Ever listeners, and welcome to the Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Show. I’m Theo Hicks and today, we’re speaking with Chris Cammack.
Chris, how are you doing today?
Chris Cammack: I’m doing well, Theo. How are you doing?
Theo Hicks: I am doing well, too. Thanks for asking, and thank you for taking the time to speak with us today. A little bit about Chris—so he’s a full-time account manager and has two years of real estate experience. He has done 75 flips and wholesale deals and has amassed a portfolio of 47 rentals. He is based in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and his website is https://www.cammackestates.com/.
So Chris, do you mind telling us some more about your background and what you’re focused on today?
Chris Cammack: Absolutely. So I took the bull by its horns a little over two years ago, it was two years in December. Didn’t know where I was going to get started or how I was going to get started, to be honest with you. And before jumping into real estate, I had an entrepreneurial background; I actually grew up in a family business where we did residential security, so I had an idea of what it was like to be an entrepreneur. But one thing that I noticed growing up is my family struggled to scale the business. So I looked at it as it was a KMart or Sears mentality where you have the market cornered, you’ve got an opportunity to grow, but then you’ll have an Amazon come in and take a lot of the market share. And I knew if I ever had an opportunity to be an entrepreneur, I didn’t want to do that, and I wanted to capitalize on my opportunity.
So I started a couple companies when I was in college, had a lot of success, but knew in order for me to be able to grow, I needed to get into the corporate world to really understand systems, understand how they scaled the business, and ultimately, I wanted to grow my cash myself, so I did that. I had an opportunity to go work for GE Healthcare, started off there; it was a dream job, if I had to work a corporate job. I wanted it to be something that was going to be sustainable and also would bring in a lot of cash. So I was truly blessed by the opportunity.
Fast forward, I was living in Milwaukee at the time and transitioned back to Indiana once my wife was pregnant. So we came back to Indiana and had an opportunity to come work for another great Fortune 500 company, where I’m now running the northern region as an AM, handling a lot of million-dollar accounts, where I was able to really understand systems and the little things that were really necessary for me to be able to scale my personal business as an entrepreneur. Fast forward, I bought my first rental, and it all spiraled out of control from there.
Theo Hicks: That’s very interesting. Today, I think that might have been the first time someone said it as directly as you did, which is “I wanted to get a W-2 job so that I could learn the systems and processes” in order to apply those to your own personal, in this case, real estate business. Do you mind elaborating on that a little bit more?
Chris Cammack: Yes, there’s a lot of things that people shy away from. They say, “Hey, you’re losing your time when you’re working a corporate job. It’s not possible, there’s no way you can do both.” I’m all about systems, right? So the more systems you have in place, the more successful I believe you can be. Because time is one thing that you can’t get back. But with the right systems, you can capitalize on the time you have. And delegation is one of those things that I realized in corporate America, and that’s why they’re so successful. So it’s a top-down approach; you’re getting things from your leader, and in order for them to be successful, you have to be successful. And then that’s followed up by systems.
So I was taking a lot of the systems that I was seeing working in corporate; strategies, and education. And when you have a team, it’s all about empowering them, the mindset and then manifesting as well. So I was taking a lot of the skill-sets that I was learning. And I was blessed that I’ve been really good at my corporate job, where my leaders have always invested in me.
So when I say that I was getting an opportunity to go to a lot of trainings that will cost them thousands of dollars, and instead of me just applying those skill sets into the corporate side, I will come back and implement that into my personal real estate business to be able to scale. So I’m just capitalizing on opportunities. Some people just take the wrong approach and they think that they’re there to clock-in and clock-out and get a paycheck. I was there to get an education to better my skillset and then collect a check.
Theo Hicks: I actually used to work for a big corporation too, and I remember something similar where I would go to these crazy trainings and they had this very detailed systems, like, basically everything. And I always [Inaudible [06:41] on how to apply those to real estate. So thank you so much for sharing that.
So you’ve been doing this for two years now, you said you’re doing flips, wholesales and then rentals. So really quickly, can you walk us through what your overall business plan is?
Chris Cammack: Yes, my overall business plan is to always have a passive income. That’s my rental income, we like to call that mailbox money. So we always want to have that. And then I wanted to scale into rehab. So I did that as well, had a lot of success, and then I noticed that the market was really starting to get flooded, with a lot of people having access to YouTube and other platforms. Social media makes it seem so obtainable, right? So you got a lot of people that were getting into the flipping side. So I said, “Man, I want to push myself and challenge myself again. Let’s try something new.” So now we are doing new construction rentals and then also we are doing our first model home in the neighborhood. So just pushing ourselves to scale. The ultimate business plan is going to be we’re going to be a one-stop shop.
So I want to have every type of real estate, whether that’s commercial, multifamily, residential, but we’re also wanting to build out residential spaces as well. So what we’re currently working on is some larger projects, which I’m sure we’ll get into that later. But we also went and got our general contractor’s license. So when I said a one-stop shop, I want to touch the deal multiple times; I don’t want to just own a property, I want to work on a property and I want to manage it.
So that is our next 18-month goal, is to make sure we have all three. We do have the construction arm now. My next one is to get the real estate side. And that starts with getting your real estate license and you have to hold a brokerage, and then you can become a property manager. So I want to touch it again, I want to touch a deal multiple times and that’s our overall goal.
Theo Hicks: So those 47 rentals, are those all new construction rentals?
Chris Cammack: They’re not. I only have five new construction rentals. The rest of them were existing multifamily and single-family residences, and I have a couple small commercial buildings as well.
Theo Hicks: How did you get so many properties so fast?
Chris Cammack: That’s a really good question. I get that often. My first deal, I was blessed; I had an opportunity to do a sellers finance deal, because I wasn’t comfortable, didn’t know what to expect, and he offered it, I thought it was a great opportunity. I had a lot of equity built up in that deal; I was able to then leverage that with the line, and then scale from there. And then I went from one rental to two, then I bought a small portfolio, which had a package of 10, and then I got an opportunity to do that once again.
So that first year was just unbelievable. It happened so fast, to be honest with you, Theo, that I didn’t have the time to reflect on it. It was just going. And before I knew it, I had 30 plus rentals and several months and I’m like, “Oh, wow, this is possible.”
And then the market shifted here in Fort Wayne. Everybody started to get on to the fact that you could buy rentals here relatively cheap. So that’s when we decided, “Hey, we want to again differentiate ourselves and get into new construction,” and that’s why we went about that… Because that market barrier entry is a little bit different than it is for your traditional wholesale flips and rentals.
Theo Hicks: Okay, so these deals were all funded by that line of credit, or was there money out of pocket, too?
Chris Cammack: Money out of pocket as well. Yep. So money out of pocket, line of credit, and then we started going private money, where you have a private lender, and they’ll start lending on deals. But what I did is I wanted a proof of concept first. So once I got to proof of concept, it was a lot easier to go to somebody and say, “Hey, I can give you this rate of return if you want to invest in this particular project.” So now it makes it a lot easier. It’s a phone call and an email, but it wasn’t always that way, I tell you.
Theo Hicks: So before you did it private money lender, how much money did you invest out of your own pocket? Or did that come from just work?
Chris Cammack: Yeah, work, in the corporate world. And as I said, my previous background as an entrepreneur, I had been able to make a good amount of cash. So I was able to fund that. And I would say, ballpark, I probably came out of pocket about 200k before I was able to start leveraging the banks and leveraging other entities to be able to scale the business faster. Trust me, I would have ran out of cash a lot faster and I would not have been able to scale to 47 rentals out of pocket; it made it possible.
Theo Hicks: Yeah. So private lenders – walk us through that transition. Who are the people? Are they actually hard money lenders, or is that like a passive invest syndication side? Is it a JV? What does that look like?
Chris Cammack: Great question. So I’ve never used a hard money lender. Interest rates are just a little too high for anything that interests us. Typically, our investors are all over the place. We’ve got some school teachers, we’ve got doctors, attorneys and sports agents. I just picked up a retired individual where he had a lot of money parked in CDs, where he couldn’t get that rate of return that we’re able to provide, which is typically 6-8 percent. Some people pay up to 10, but with private money lenders… So we’re able to give them such a great return compared to what they’re getting in CDs and some of the other markets now. Right now, the stock market is crazy, so picking up private money lenders can be hard unless you have rapport with them. But yes, that’s typically how we do it and then we give them a rate of return on that particular project, and then they go about their day and I go by mine.
So if we end up keeping it in our portfolio, we’ll refi the project out at that point, pay them off, and then if we need them for another project, we’ll call them or email them and send them over the pitch deck and just let them know the details within the project.
Theo Hicks: And out of all your private lenders, what’s the main way you’re actually finding these people?
Chris Cammack: You’d be surprised on the amount of opportunities that you have, sometimes just traveling. So I spent a lot of time on an airplane, and I would fly coach — and this is just a little thing, Theo. I would fly coach all the time, because I’m a penny pincher, right? No matter how successful I’ve been, I still like to save money.
So what I realized is, “Hey, maybe I should start paying for those first-class flights because the conversation will change.” So I’ve actually found one of my private money lenders that way.
Another way is proof of concept, so letting your work speak for itself. I’ve had a private money lender approach me; he wasn’t a private money lender at the time, but because of the project that I did in his neighborhood, he loved what I did there, it opened up the conversation. And I will tell you, it’s all about how you start that conversation.
So when they asked me, “Hey, Chris, what do you do?” “I actually use other people’s money to invest in real estate.” “What do you mean other people’s money?” And that opens up the opportunity for you to explain how they can utilize their money to invest in a deal such as the one that they are looking at, and they could grow their money, you’re happy and then you don’t have to bring anything to the table. So I’ve been successful that way as well.
And then also, I would say the biggest thing is networking events. Going into local meetups, you’d be surprised, local auctions where you have to buy cash such as sheriff’s sales, those are good way to find investors that are willing to invest in your deals.
Theo Hicks: Yeah, thank you so much for sharing that. I’ve never heard that first class — it’s the first time on this show, I think. Okay, so you mentioned that you’re working on some bigger projects now. So tell us about that. What do you have in the works?
Chris Cammack: So actually, I’m going through a re-zoning right now. Part Three is what they call it an Indiana where you could do residential. We’re going to do a small community of duplexes, so it’s going to be 12 duplexes, which is going to be 24 rentals. So I’m excited about that; that’s going to be really good, great passive income. But I’m learning a lot again, pushing myself outside my limits. I didn’t know anything about rentals at one time, didn’t know anything about flips. I didn’t know anything about new development. Now, I’m learning all the things that go into putting in a subdivision, a small subdivision, a large subdivision.
So there’s a lot more details you’ve really got to make sure that you pay attention to when it comes to this, because you’ve got retention ponds, you’ve got your sewers, you got to do [unintelligible [00:13:50].05] fire trucks got to be able to turn around, it’s all little things that you never pay attention to when you go into a neighborhood, but everything is thought out, all the way down to the smallest detail. So that’s one larger project we’re working on.
And another one is we have a piece of land where we own a city block, which I’ll get into that probably a little bit later as well. And that property is supposed to be student housing. So we’ve already got the plans, the designs for it, but there’s a little curveball we’ve been thrown on that project. So I’ll be curious to see if it ends up going through or we end up selling it, so I’m excited for that one.
But those are two large projects that are going to be over $5 million each to develop and create, but the income and legacy that will be behind those projects will be absolutely awesome.
Theo Hicks: Alright, Chris, what is your best real estate investing advice ever?
Chris Cammack: It’s a great question. What I would tell you is don’t give up. That’d be the first thing. And the second is don’t listen to the outsiders. So a lot of people are going to tell you, no. A lot of people told me, “No, it’s not a great idea,” “Too good to be true,” so on and so forth. And what you need to do is surround yourself with like-minded people. So you have to surround yourself with people that are trying to get to where you’re trying to go, or have been where you’re trying to go. Without that, it’s going to be almost impossible, because you’re going to have so much negativity around you, because the people that are giving you the advice have never been where you’re trying to go. So that’s what I would tell you. It’s one of the hardest things to do, because you’ve got to separate business and pleasure. And a lot of the people that people surround themselves with, again, have never been where you’re trying to go. So I would push you to start getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, so you can have the opportunity to grow.
Theo Hicks: Alright, Chris, are you ready for the best ever lightning round?
Chris Cammack: Absolutely, let’s go for it.
Theo Hicks: Alright. First, a quick word from our Best Ever sponsor.
Theo Hicks: Okay, Chris, what is the best ever book you’ve recently read?
Chris Cammack: Wow. I would say It’s All In Your Head. That book right there, it helped change my entire mindset and it’s absolutely amazing. I think everybody should get it.
Theo Hicks: If your business were to collapse today, what would you do next?
Chris Cammack: I probably would start something else in real estate. That will be the first thing. It’d probably be something surrounding it that I know you would always need, whether that’s a flooring company or some type of trade. That probably would be my focus. Or something around my passion, which is cars; I love cars, everyone knows. I love to buy and trade cars. So it’d probably be something in the exotic car world, maybe an exotic car dealership or exotic car rental, something along those lines.
Theo Hicks: What’s your favorite car?
Chris Cammack: Probably a Rolls Royce. I’m a big Rolls Royce fan.
Theo Hicks: Tell us about a time that you lost money on a deal. How much you lost and what lessons you learned.
Chris Cammack: So I’ve never lost money on a deal. I’ve been extremely blessed. I would probably say the hardest thing or a deal that is something that I’ve lost money on in real estate is the wholesaling side that we are currently starting. They always say it takes money to make money, and the cost of doing business is extremely expensive, the way that we’re trying to scale that business, because we’re going after every part of it. So we’re not just driving for dollars, where we pay somebody to go out and drive for dollars. We’ve got a VA, you’ve got SMSes that you’re paying, you’re buying leads… There’s a lot of overhead. So we’re still in the red on that part of the business. We just wrote it out 45 days ago. I do have a couple of deals under contract, which will put us in a green… But that is the only thing I’ve ever lost out on real estate, which is trying to open another sector of the business.
Theo Hicks: And then on the flip side, tell us about the best ever deal you’ve done.
Chris Cammack: This is my favorite, it’s the property I told you I’ll probably end up speaking about again, is that city block, we bought downtown, Fort Wayne. We bought it four months ago. And when we purchased it—again, this is why I say, you have to surround yourself with like-minded people. Anybody that I asked that was not involved in real estate whatsoever told me, “Don’t touch the deal. Nobody’s developed over there before. It doesn’t make any sense.”
And my personality – I’m a risk-taker, a calculated risk-taker. But I’m one that I like to create the trend, I don’t like to be a part of the trend. So I bought the land, and then three months after we owned the land, we received an offer for 3x the amount of money that we paid for the land—for the land that everyone told us not to buy.
Theo Hicks: Wow.
Chris Cammack: So yeah, we’re working through that deal. That’s why I said I don’t know if I will be able to see that legacy project through, because it’s kind of hard to turn that type of money down when I can go to the other side of town and still build that same project and 1031 exchange that money.
So yeah, that’s probably been my best deal thus far, because I haven’t even started turning dirt and I’ve got an offer like that on the table.
Theo Hicks: What is the best ever way you like to give back?
Chris Cammack: I love this part of the business. I’ve been able to meet some phenomenal people and I always tell all my employees and my team that we are providing somebody their most cherishable and safe haven that you typically ever own in your life, which is where you rest your head.
So I like to do a turkey drive every year and provide turkeys and pies to all my tenants. So I hand deliver those personally and give them a handwritten card and let them know how appreciative I am for allowing me to provide you a safe home. So that’s one way I like to give back.
Also one thing I started this year is around Christmas, I like to pay for somebody’s rent, especially during the times we’re having during COVID; let me bless someone because I’ve been extremely blessed. So that’s a tradition that we started last year and we will keep that going.
And then last but not least, one thing that we’re going to do that we have not done and we tried to do it this year but we couldn’t because of Jesse’s schedule. Jesse Bates Cincinnati Bengals safety, it is from Fort Wayne as well, and we’re going to do a joint venture hopefully this year; we didn’t get to it again because of COVID. Last year we were going to do a turkey drive, where we’re going to be able to feed 200-300 families and this is going to align with his non-for-profit where he helps single mothers as well. So looking forward to doing that and continue to give back to the community any way we can.
Theo Hicks: Yeah, that’s wonderful. Thanks for sharing that, Chris. Last question is what’s the best place to reach you?
Chris Cammack: Yeah, the easiest way to get ahold of me is social media. That’s going to be my Instagram, which is @mr.cammack. I like to answer to everybody’s message. So it’s probably one of the easiest ways to get a hold of me. If not, just go to my website, send me an inquiry, my team will make sure I get it. Just make sure you put my name in the subject and I’ll make sure I reach out to you.
Theo Hicks: Wonderful, Chris. Well, thank you so much for joining us today and providing us with your best ever advice. I really liked how you let off talking about the benefits of working in the corporate world. A lot of people in real estate in a sense bash at the corporate world, a W-2 job and wanting to get out of it. And so it’s nice to hear the other side of it and like your perspective. And as I mentioned, what you said it, I hadn’t heard that before. So thank you for sharing that. That totally makes sense.
Chris Cammack: Absolutely.
Theo Hicks: Especially for people who can’t really quit, it’s just like, well—so instead of just thinking about quitting all the time, just think of how you could capitalize on that time before you quit.
You talked about your business plan and why you have that vision of having that one-stop shop of touching that deal multiple times, and have those multiple revenue streams. We talked about how you created your portfolio of 47 rentals, and then we kind of dove into the private lenders, your four ways for finding passive investors. So thank you again for sharing that.
And then last was your best ever advice, which is don’t give up, don’t listen to the outsiders and make sure you’re surrounding yourself with like-minded people, either people who are already at or far above where you want to be, or at the very least, people who want to be where you want to be.
So again, Chris, thank you so much. Is there anything else that you would have mention before we sign off?
Chris Cammack: No. I just want to tell you guys, it is possible. I’m a living proof that it is possible. I just want you to push and go after it. If there’s any way that I possibly can help you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
A lot of the key elements to being successful in real estate are now in our online course, the key to success course, which you can get on our website as well. So I look forward to seeing you guys inside of there or hearing from you on social media. So best of luck to you. God bless. I’ll talk to you guys soon.
Theo Hicks: Perfect, Chris. Well, thank you again for joining us. Best Ever listeners, as always, thank you for listening, have a best ever day and we’ll talk to you tomorrow.
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