After getting her start in real estate with several single-family homes, Rebecca Moore decided she needed her investments under one roof. That’s when she made the switch to multifamily. Today, Rebecca is sharing how many deals she invested in before syndicating herself, her main focus when she bought her first deal, and her thoughts on the profitability of all bills paid properties.
Rebecca Moore Real Estate Background:
- Full-time syndicator and clinical psychologist
- Currently passively investing in 1,534 doors
- Syndicated 5 buildings since 2017 for a total of 656 doors, with the first building in the process of going full cycle
- Based in Dallas, TX
- Say hi to her at: www.StarboardEquity.com
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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. 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 the fluffy stuff. With us today, Rebecca Moore.
How are you doing, Rebecca?
Rebecca Moore: I’m great, Joe. Glad to be here.
Joe Fairless: Well, I’m glad to hear it and looking forward to our conversation. Rebecca is a full-time syndicator and clinical psychologist. She currently has passive investments in over 1,500 doors, 1534 to be exact. She has syndicated five buildings since 2017, for a total of 656 doors and the first building that she syndicated is actually in the process of it going full cycle, and she’s based in Dallas, Texas. Her website, which is in the show notes, it’s starboardequity.com.
So with that being said, Rebecca, do you want to give the Best Ever listeners a little bit more about your background and your current focus?
Rebecca Moore: Yeah, sure. That sounds great. I am married to a former naval officer and we got our start by buying single-family homes where he was stationed. So when we had this accumulation of single-family homes, we kind of looked at each other and said, “At one point in time, we’re going to have to put these all under one roof,” and that’s when we began looking to figure out how to, let’s say, buy a duplex or a sixplex or something like that, and that’s how we got involved in multifamily. So that was the very beginning of this journey that we are under.
So what had happened was that Warren, my husband, had to take over a squadron of ships. So he said, “Rebecca, you go figure this out.” So we found a mentor that was based in Dallas. So because, again, I was a psychologist, I had weekends off. The Navy and the other military do not have weekends off, for the most part. So I went out to Dallas and learned how to syndicate and learned the market. So that’s a little bit about the background. So I was able to fade out of my psychology work and lean into and do more of the syndication.
Joe Fairless: How many single-family homes did you two have?
Rebecca Moore: I think at that time we had three.
Joe Fairless: Three. Okay, do you have more or less now?
Rebecca Moore: We have less now. We’re down to just one, and we’ve had a renter in there for 19 years. So we will not get rid of that one.
Joe Fairless: Yep. For the two that you sold, what did you buy them for? What did you sell them for? And what city were they in?
Rebecca Moore: Okay, so let’s see… He had a couple before that, but regardless, we had one in Corpus Christi, Texas. I should actually say, it was on Mustang Island. It was great, right on the beach, and I think that we had bought that around the $200,000 range, sold it for about $320,000. And then when he was at the Pentagon, we bought a new construction home for about $600,000, and turned around and sold that for about $800,000.
Joe Fairless: Nice.
Rebecca Moore: Yeah. So that was good.
Joe Fairless: And over what period of time for both of those exits?
Rebecca Moore: Oh, gosh, I don’t re—
Joe Fairless: Just about. A couple years? Six months? 10 years?
Rebecca Moore: Okay, approximately five years for the Mustang Island, and approximately the same for the Virginia House—I’m sorry, the Pentagon, that was Alexandria, Virginia.
Joe Fairless: Right, yep. I was tracking it.
Rebecca Moore: About five years. Yeah.
Joe Fairless: Okay. So you had really good success with those deals. Why go into larger deals, if you are having $200,000 in appreciation, and getting those chunks of change from the single families?
Rebecca Moore: That’s a great question. Primarily, because we moved around a lot in the Navy; we had property managers taking care of those homes. So the rents – we were getting a decreased amount of rent because we had to have somebody else look after them. Also, when you have a renter that is leaving, and that property manager has to find a new one, of course that digs into your profit, because it’s a one and a one; you either have somebody in there or you don’t. So that’s the beauty of the multifamily, that you have, let’s say, if you have a 60-unit, then if one person moves out, that’s okay, because you have 59 other people still paying rent. That’s the scalability of multifamily that you don’t get in rentals.
Joe Fairless: Was your first larger deal a passive investor or an active investor?
Rebecca Moore: My first deals were passive, and it was really a great learning experience for me. I was an LP in a 190-unit in Colorado Springs, Colorado. So it was great in that I got to know what a deal sponsor does as far as the acquisition process, as far as getting those monthly emails, understanding what the CapEx is, understanding what occupancy levels were, the evictions that might have had to happen, getting the T12, so the profit and loss each month… I learned to look at that read that, understand what the other income was… It was a great learning experience for me.
Joe Fairless: How many deals did you passively invest in before you started syndicating?
Rebecca Moore: Three deals.
Joe Fairless: After the third deal, what was the impetus for, “Okay, now I’m going to go do it on my own”?
Rebecca Moore: I would tell you that after the second passive deal that we got into, I was ready to go. However, it took time for me to get a deal, so we still were passive in the third deal, put in more money, but it was looking for a deal. I had a very conservative partner, which is great, and some of the things that he had said to me as we were looking for my first deal was, “You want it to be a very very good deal, because your reputation depends on it. You can’t go buying something willy-nilly, just because you want your first deal.” And I still go by those words of a conservative, well-functioning property is what I want to get because not only do I want to make money, of course, I want my investors money to be very safe. So it took me a long time to get my first deal.
Joe Fairless: Was it just you and one other business partner?
Rebecca Moore: Yes.
Joe Fairless: Okay. And how did you meet that business partner?
Rebecca Moore: It was through a group that we were in together.
Joe Fairless: Which group?
Rebecca Moore: The Brad Sumrok group.
Joe Fairless: Okay, and you mentioned earlier you got involved with a mentor; I imagine that’s Sumrok’s Mentorship Program?
Rebecca Moore: Correct.
Joe Fairless: So you met this individual through the program, and then how did you to decide, “Hey–” because I know there’s a lot of people, in the program.
Rebecca Moore: Yes.
Joe Fairless: How did you decide, “You’re my partner, let’s go rock and roll”?
Rebecca Moore: I had the luxury of getting in the group back in 2014. There was just — I don’t know, maybe 75 people at the time, and there were just a handful of people that were beginning to sponsor. So what’s great about the group is that we’ll get on buses in Dallas and travel around to look at, at the time, C Class properties, so we could learn and understand, what does the C Class property look like, and what can you do to add value to these properties? So on the bus, that’s where we would network with each other. So I met my great friend, Dustin Miles… He is an engineer; me as the psychologist, we were able to say, “Wow—”
Joe Fairless: Man, that’s a powerful duo.
Rebecca Moore: Yes, it is.
Joe Fairless: From an investor’s standpoint, having a psychologist, and from an underwriting/operations having an engineer…
Rebecca Moore: Yes, I’m glad that you can see that right off the bat, because it’s true. So he was able to help me with the numbers. I’m still pretty good at the numbers, but as far as that duo, our strengths together, we’re very powerful and he was very patient in teaching me really strongly how to underwrite. And together, I think — basically, he took me on and realized how reliable I was in the fact that I showed up. When he said, “I need you to do X”, he got that delivered right away. I do what I say I’m going to do, and our personalities really clicked as well. So I think that is how we sort of decided to become partners. I think he really took a chance on me, and I’m so pleased that he did.
Joe Fairless: I just assumed that you were more on the investor side, and Dustin was more on the asset management and underwriting. Is that assumption correct?
Rebecca Moore: Well, he absolutely knew how to underwrite, and yes, being an engineer, he knows those numbers, and he patiently had to go over them 100,000 times with me. But when it came to the asset management part, he said, “There you go, Rebecca, it’s all you.” So he would shepherd me through our first deal together, in that he would answer the questions that I had, but he gave it all to me and my husband, Warren, to do.
Joe Fairless: Where did you buy that first deal?
Rebecca Moore: Our first deal was in Hurst, Texas, and that is right smack-dab in between—
Joe Fairless: [unintelligible [00:12:15].26]
Rebecca Moore: Yes, sir. Very good. Yeah, right in between Fort Worth and Dallas. And it’s in a great school district, and it has a good median income, very safe area. It is a 1963 94-unit property, and it’s right next door to a school, again, in a great area. It’s an all-bills-paid building, and it’s the only all bills paid within about a 4-5 mile radius. It has one, two, and three-bedrooms, and the three bedrooms are townhouse-style, 1,500 square feet. So it really accommodates families very well. So it’s a really great building; it has been a pleasure to own. And again, going back to what Dustin said, you need to have a home run as your first deal, and it has been.
Joe Fairless: What’s the significance of it being an all-bills-paid property?
Rebecca Moore: Because it is the only all bills paid property within that five-mile radius, it gives folks who, let’s say, maybe they had a problem at one point in time, maybe they have a problem with their credit, so then they can’t sign up for, let’s say, electricity… This way, with the all bills paid, they don’t have to worry about that and they can rebuild their credit again. Or maybe they’re the type of tenant where they would really rather have everything all in one bill, rather than paying the electric, the gas, the water and sewer; they want it all in one bill. That kind of tenant wants to live in that kind of property. So it’s a nice niche property for those who would prefer to pay their bills in that way.
Joe Fairless: With an all-bills-paid property, some listeners might be thinking, “Well, what about the downside where it is all bills paid?” So the tenants might take advantage of that by pumping the A/C to extreme levels during weird times and just plugging in something using electricity more so than they would if they were paying for it. So how do you mitigate against that?
Rebecca Moore: Yes, that is something that does happen. So how we do mitigate that is by making it as green or as eco-friendly as possible. For example, with the water, the first thing that we went in and did was change out the toilets to low-flow toilets… So that rather than, let’s say, a gallon or so a flush, it’s only a liter or so a flush. And we keep up by having the LED lights rather than regular light bulbs, so we can cut down on the cost of electricity. So we put in everything that we can to make it more eco-friendly, and thus keep the bills down.
Joe Fairless: Got it. Is this the one that’s about to exit?
Rebecca Moore: Correct. Yes.
Joe Fairless: When is it scheduled to close?
Rebecca Moore: In December.
Joe Fairless: Nice. Well, congratulations on that. I’m not going to ask you specifics about purchase price or anything because it hasn’t sold yet, and I want to be respectful of that. How do you think you’re going to do on that deal? I’ll just ask it more generically than I typically would.
Rebecca Moore: Smoking! We’re going to do so good. I’m so happy, and so are my investors. It’s going to be a big party. How’s that?
Joe Fairless: Good. Glad to hear it. And just in case the listeners are wondering why wouldn’t I ask about it… First off, it could influence the purchase price or sales negotiation, so I wouldn’t want to do that; and it could also hurt property tax contesting, among other things, especially in Texas. So that’s why I steered away from it. But normally, I would want to know how much you’re going to make, how much investors are going to make and all that good stuff. How much money did you raise on it?
Rebecca Moore: Only $1.6 million. So this was purchased back in 2017, and that’s when prices were much more reasonable. I believe the reversion cap rate that we underwrote at was 7.75. So again, now we’re underwriting at about five cap… If that speaks to the difference.
Joe Fairless: That was the first deal. What about the next deal?
Rebecca Moore: Next deal was really fun as well, because it was a building that we were passive investors in. So I had already been in that building for three years as a passive, so I had understood what the rents were, what the value-add was being done on that property, who the management company was, I understood what the returns were… So when it went for sale, I thought, “I am going to buy that one. I know it, it’s a good one. It’s in a good place.” It’s in Haltom City, which you might know as well, right next to North Richland Hills, again in the Dallas area… So it’s a great area, a beautiful little property… And I went for it and got that one. And that’s 109 units built in 1969. So our strategy with that one was it had mansard roofs; so mansard roofs are those kind—
Joe Fairless: —are hideous.
Rebecca Moore: Yes, they are. [laughs] They are! So for those folks listening, they’re the type of roofs that look like they come halfway down the building. Some people might like to glamorize it and consider it a French look, but—
Joe Fairless: Never heard it described it that way.
Rebecca Moore: [laughs] Come on…!
Joe Fairless: What did you do with the,? Anything? Because you’ve got to keep them, right?
Rebecca Moore: Yes, because that would be a complete makeover. But what we did – the mansard roofs again, they come down half the building… They were strips of red asphalt, so ugly, ugly, ugly; and we had a loan that was the green program. So the green program — at the time, Fannie, Freddie, they would give you a lower interest rate if you made the property more eco-friendly.
So what they initially wanted us to do was to put in new windows, so that it would hold in the cool air or the heat during the winter… And we talked to them and said, “You know, if we put on new roofs, then it’ll keep even more heat; it will make it even more efficient. Can we instead use the money on new roofs, rather than windows?” And they said, “Okay, great.” So we were thrilled.
So we put the money into the roofs instead, took off that ugly asphalt, and put HardiePlank. HardiePlank looks like fake wood, rather than this asphalt. Also, you can paint it any color you want. So we made—it’s called [unintelligible [00:19:37].25] and we made it look so much prettier. So we put on this gorgeous HardiePlank, repainted the entire building, put some red on the doors to make them pop, and it’s much more beautiful, and of course raising rents, but also making it a place where the tenants can have much more pride of where they live.
Joe Fairless: From an asset management standpoint – then we’ll get into best ever advice… But from an asset management standpoint, knowing what you know now, what are you doing differently or better? Or what are you doing that you weren’t doing before, prior to, say your second large deal?
Rebecca Moore: From an asset management perspective?
Joe Fairless: Yes. Enhancements in your process… Just something like that.
Rebecca Moore: Okay, let me think about that for a moment. Oh, I would say, one thing that we do like to look at and assess, is can we put in a stone countertop? Would quartz or granite have that return on investment? Because the resurfacing of countertops is costly, ugly, doesn’t last very long… So that is something from an asset management perspective that we really like to look into as a better improvement, and it does tend to get the rents increased. And of course, that’s more in a B property often, but that’s something new that we’d like to look at, because the cost of granite and the quartz has come down enough and they’ve been able to make the slabs thin enough to make it economical.
Joe Fairless: What’s your best real estate investing advice ever?
Rebecca Moore: Don’t quit. Don’t ever quit. I know that I have been very slow in acquiring properties, because I want to do a very good job in returning my investors’ money. And sometimes it felt like I couldn’t go get a deal; but I just never quit. I kept looking for the deal that would really get great returns. So never, never, never quit.
Joe Fairless: We’re going to do a lightning round. Are you ready for the Best Ever lightning round?
Rebecca Moore: I think so. Yes.
Joe Fairless: Let’s do it.
Rebecca Moore: I’m ready.
Joe Fairless: First, a quick word from our Best Ever partners.
Joe Fairless: What deal have you lost the most amount of money on, to date?
Rebecca Moore: That would be a passive deal that I was in. Do you want me to tell you more?
Joe Fairless: Please do.
Rebecca Moore: Okay. So yes, it was no fault of the sponsors at all, but the city rerouted the way that the tenants had to get into the apartment building. They had to then go through a mall parking lot to get to their homes.
Joe Fairless: Oh my gosh!
Rebecca Moore: Yes, it was awful for them. So with that, we had a lower occupancy, and then we had some problems with the management team that was there. So I only lost about $6,000 of my initial investment… However, we held the place for three years, and trying to sell it, trying to get out of it, so therefore, I did not gain any money on that investment for three years.
Joe Fairless: What was the initial investment?
Rebecca Moore: I put in $50,000, and I got $44,000 back.
Joe Fairless: Got it. Okay.
Rebecca Moore: Yeah, so that was crummy.
Joe Fairless: You said it was no fault of the sponsor, which — the rerouting through a mall parking lot, that’s something I haven’t heard of before. But you said the management team also there was challenges, so is there some onus on the sponsor to have helped change the guard of the management team sooner?
Rebecca Moore: He did as much as he thought that he could do with them. He even got them to stop taking their management fee every month, because of the problems that they were having. Could he have changed them? I think maybe I am being light on him, because he is my friend, but he tried very hard to make that property work.
Joe Fairless: What did you learn from that experience as an investor?
Rebecca Moore: Sometimes there are things that happen that just come out of nowhere, again, with the city rerouting the street like that; you can’t foresee that happening. I don’t know how much more the management could do. Maybe the person could have sold, we could have sold sooner, and that you’re—well, I guess that you are at the mercy of the syndicator. It’s not necessarily a good lesson to learn though…
Joe Fairless: It’s just the truth, right? As a passive investor, you are banking on the sponsor to steer the ship, and then sometimes winds come that are unexpected and unpredictable, in this case, rerouting through the parking lot.
Rebecca Moore: Right. So again, that know, liking and trust the person that you’re investing with; trusting that they are going to go to bat for you, when bizarre things like that happen.
Joe Fairless: What’s the best way you like to give back to the community?
Rebecca Moore: In a small sense of the community, let’s say even the apartments themselves, it’s really fun to give back… Especially now, we’re going into the holidays… By Thanksgiving here, we are going to be giving out pies directly to all of our tenants. That’s really fun. When Christmas comes, we give out gifts and a lot of times we have Santa Claus come and see all the kids.
So that type of giving is super fun because it’s one-to-one, we can be there personally, at our Dallas and Houston properties. So that’s a ton of fun. And on a larger scale, Warren and I, we give to the Navy-Marine Relief Fund and other charities, like St. Jude.
Joe Fairless: How can the Best Ever listeners learn more about what you’re doing?
Rebecca Moore: Oh, please go and visit our website at starboardequity.com and join the Starboard Equity Club. We would love to be able to tell you about what we’re doing. And check us out on LinkedIn, Rebecca Moore Buller; Buller is my husband’s last name. You can check out Warren Buller on LinkedIn. We’d love to see you there, link in with us.
Joe Fairless: Rebecca, thank you for being on the show. Thank you for sharing what’s worked, what hasn’t worked, your story, and some specific steps for how you got to where you’re at. I appreciate your time, hope you have a best ever day, and talk to you again soon.
Rebecca Moore: Great. Joe, thanks for having me on. It’s been a pleasure.
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