December 4, 2021

JF2650: How One College Grad Grew His Portfolio to 359 Units in 1.5 Years with Braeden Windham


Braeden Windham Real Estate Background

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Ash Patel: Hello Best Ever listeners. Welcome to the Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Show. I’m Ash Patel and I’m with today’s guest, Braeden Windham. Braeden is joining us from Dallas, Texas. He’s the founding partner of Well Capital which is a multifamily investment firm. He has one and a half years of real estate investing experience. Braeden has 359 units across three apartment complexes. Braeden, thank you for joining us and how are you today?

Braeden Windham: Thank you for having me. I’m doing well. How are you?

Ash Patel: I’m doing very well. It’s our pleasure. Braeden, before we get started, can you give the best of listeners a little bit more about your background and what you’re focused on now?

Braeden Windham: Absolutely. First off, thank you for having me. I’m excited about the conversation today. How I got into real estate… First work experience – I was a ranch hand at 16 or 17 years old. I really learned what it looked like to work really hard for my money, and I never really wanted to do that again. Fast-forward to college, I had an internship with a company that bought other healthcare companies. That was kind of my first, I guess, exposure to purchasing assets and what that could do for you. I guess I didn’t know how it really applied until my senior year of college. I really didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do professionally. I figured I didn’t really want a boss, but I thought maybe being a real estate agent was the closest thing I could get to that. I met my business partner actually at a church event, and he dumped five or six books in my lap and a bunch of podcasts. He was like “You need to go learn about real estate investing and syndication.” I had no idea what that was, but I just went all in, because I didn’t have much else to do. I think I had like two or three classes in my last semester. That’s kind of how I got started.

Since then, he hired me on out in Florida to actually do construction management work, where we were basically taking government grant money and managing on the construction of 500 or so projects. We really learned where our strengths and weaknesses were in our partnership. Since March of this year, I left that to just be syndicating full-time and investing in real estate. That’s a little bit about my background. Now we’re just focused on acquiring and repositioning assets in the southeast and the Midwest. Really anything over 100 units at this point.

Ash Patel: What a story. What the hell were you going to college for?

Braeden Windham: I was actually in finance, with a real estate background. I went into it and I had no idea what I wanted to do. I actually went to my real estate teacher to ask him about syndications, and he had no idea what it was. So I filled my ears with a bunch of podcasts at that time, just to self-motivate and learn about the industry.

Ash Patel: You should go back and teach a class on syndication.

Braeden Windham: They actually do have a syndicator that’s teaching the class now. If I could just go back three or four years, that’d be great.

Break: [00:03:20][00:04:53]

Ash Patel: Alright, so let’s back up a little bit. This person that you met, who was then your partner later on, you guys partnered together immediately and started working on these projects?

Braeden Windham: Yes. He had had a few Airbnb experiences, he had invested in some Airbnb properties, and then also had been exposed to development from a really young age, and his family had been involved in real estate. So he was a little bit ahead of me in that sense, and really knew more about the syndication space. I guess when I jumped in, I was gung-ho about it, and I was like, “Let’s go to the next event, if possible.” Because I was listening to actually Rod Khleif’s podcast, and he was having an event in LA. We flew out within three months of me learning about this stuff and I just invited them out. That was the first time we had ever hung out together, been in the same room together, was at that event. Just since then, we’ve been able to work together for probably close to a year just outside of real estate so we’ve really gotten to learn. He likes to say that he’s the gas and I’m the brakes, and I think that’s a really good metaphor for our partnership.

Ash Patel: Is he still a partner in your syndications?

Braeden Windham: Yeah, we founded Well Capital together. The origin of Well Capital is we were both giving to the same charity just on a personal level, and we woke up one day and we’re like, “Why don’t we make this a company-wide thing?” Because we gave to charity water and, basically, they take funds overseas to give people clean water who have never had it before. So we were just like “Why don’t we rebrand our company as Well Capital and just make it more about that than syndicating apartments?” I think that’s an easier conversation to have with whoever, passive investors or anyone you’re going to talk to. It’s an easy way to make the intro and make it more than about yourself, it’s more about other people.

Ash Patel: Braeden, what was your first syndication?

Braeden Windham: That was a 47-unit in South Texas. It was in Rockport, actually.

Ash Patel: What were the numbers on that deal?

Braeden Windham: We bought that for 2.3, we put about 1.2 million into it, and then right now, we’re going through a refi. A lot of lessons were learned on that first deal. We as a GP probably aren’t going to make much, but it’s a huge learning lesson. I think the appraised value was around 4.4 or 4.6, and that was 18 months ago, which is insane. So it just taught me a lot about what I should be doing, and what I can move forward and do better. I’m super thankful for the first deal.

Ash Patel: Why are you not going to make money? I see over a million dollars…

Braeden Windham: That’s a good question. That’s a loaded one. I think it really just comes down to — for me, it’s a lot of angst. First off, we just had a lot of, I would say inexperience, and we partnered for that inexperience, which is what a lot of people tell you to do. I completely agree. But you have to ask very tough questions up front, if I had any advice on that. So we got into it and just the rehab budget expanded, almost doubled. So we really shot ourselves in the foot when it comes to what we were going to make on that deal. And just not having the people in place to actually know what that rehab was going to cost… So we definitely learned from it.

Ash Patel: What were the hard lessons that you were talking about on this deal?

Braeden Windham: I repeat it all the time, it’s making sure that everything is in an email, everything is agreed upon, that there aren’t any “Oh, I thought you said this, or you were going to do this.” No, everything is in an email, everything’s clear and written out. And just having professionals walk with you on the front end is very important, in my opinion. Because me walking a unit at 21 or 22 years old, and a general contractor that’s done this for 50 plus years, walking in on the front end and telling me there are things behind these walls, or there are structural issues, or there are termites, those are things that I wouldn’t have unknown otherwise. I think just having professionals walk with you and asking the tough questions of those professionals… Whether that be co-GP, whether that be contractors, whether that be whoever that you’re going to have walk with you on a property, just making sure that they know what they’re doing and that their track record speaks for itself.

Ash Patel: With putting things in writing – is that more directed towards investors, contractors, lenders?

Braeden Windham: From my perspective, and where we have gotten I would say misled sometimes is definitely with co-GPS, and just making sure that whatever roles and responsibilities are spelled out, and if you’re going to be boots on the ground, you’re going to be boots on the ground. If you’re going to be doing all the asset management, then that’s going to be in writing. If you’ve got something in writing, then you can basically stick to it. Of course, just having the right documents in place for passive investors and any type of agreement with brokers or that type of thing, of course. But mostly that’s co-GP opportunities.

Ash Patel: In your deals, do GPs put investment capital in as well?

Braeden Windham: Yes. Every deal that we do, we aim to put in 10% of the capital, just to show that we have some type of skin in the game. I think that’s important, just to align interests more than anything.

Ash Patel: And what specific examples have you had with co-GPs when things weren’t in writing?

Braeden Windham: I think capital raise is a big one. I guess, on the front end, knowing who’s bringing what or who has the bandwidth to bring what to the deal, I think that’s important.

Ash Patel: Did you guys just kind of assume, “Hey, we’ve got a great team of GPs. We’ll get this done.”

Braeden Windham: Yeah. You’ll have somebody come in and tell you that they’ve done X amount of properties or X amount of units, and that they can raise the full thing, and take more of the equity for it, but that’s not always the case. So having something in writing definitely, looking back, would have helped to say, “No, no, no, this is what you said on the front end, and you’ve got to stick to it.” That’s definitely the biggest area.

And then just minor roles and responsibilities. Like, on our properties, we always believe that you should have somebody that’s in the area or boots on the ground. So just having what that actually means in a contract, just for that person… If that means going to the property once a week to take pictures of progress, then that’s what that means. And you put it in writing. Or if it’s just quarterly pictures, which for me, I would prefer weekly, especially if it’s a deeper position.

Ash Patel: Weekly pictures of the units?

Braeden Windham: Yeah. If we’re doing a major rehab, I would want to see from boots on the ground, that they’re actually in the area, that they can actually drive there within 10 to 15 minutes and take pictures with progress. If we’re doing construction on 10 units, we want to see updates, because you can’t always trust if a contractor is going to tell you that it’s complete or halfway complete. Their complete and your complete is not the same thing. Rent ready and complete is not the same thing. In my book, at least.

Ash Patel: Braeden, dealing with investors, what are some of the lessons you’ve learned with that?

Braeden Windham: I think the most important thing that I’ve learned is just being completely transparent with them. A lot of people will tell you that there’s a line that you should and shouldn’t say certain things. But I think if you have a good relationship with your investors and you let them know on the front end that “Hey, I’m going to give you the good, the bad, and the ugly”, then I think being transparent is the most important thing, at least for passive investors.

Break: [00:12:18][00:15:11]

Ash Patel: Have you had any issues with investors and you guys not being on the same page?

Braeden Windham: No. I think within Well Capital, our goal, moving forward at least, is to come out with a monthly update for investors, which I think is even better than quarterly, because a lot can happen in a quarter, especially when you’ve first taken over a project. But I think we’ve been pretty clear, I would just like to give them more updates than less. So that’s why we’re kind of going into a monthly more than a quarterly.

Ash Patel: One of the things you could do is — Joe Fairless does this. He gives us a one-pager for each investment, and then there’s a link for people that want to deep-dive into financials. Click on that and there’s a whole bunch of more information behind there. But for people that just want the high level, don’t waste my time, just give me “Are we good? Are we bad?” I like that approach a lot.

Braeden Windham: Is that a monthly or is that…

Ash Patel: He does it monthly.

Braeden Windham: I like that.

Ash Patel: He tells us what the occupancy is, how many units have been renovated, any notable highlights, good or bad, about the property… Then there’s a hyperlink at the bottom, and then there’s a portal where you could get as much information as you want.

Braeden Windham: I think that’s a great idea.

Ash Patel: Not everybody wants to read two-pagers.

Braeden Windham: No. I know some investors that don’t want to know the bad side. So maybe they just… There is a bad side on every property; whether or not you know it, there is. There are things that come up that you didn’t know are going to come up?

Ash Patel: Do you guys have a portal? Or is this just handwritten emails?

Braeden Windham: No, we have a portal now. When we started, we didn’t. But now we use InvestNext for our investor portal. That’s kind of where all of the information goes into.

Ash Patel: What bottlenecks were you experiencing that led you to use a portal?

Braeden Windham: I think it’s just efficiencies of having — for one, I guess every quarter, I’d have to sit down and make a handmade whether it be Canva or PowerPoint, handmade newsletter to go out. It was just kind of inefficient for the time I wanted to spend on it, and having something all on a portal where emails go out and distributions go out – it’s a pretty streamlined process. I think just the time it would take to get it all together, figure out what we wanted to say, and have the right type of documents in there… Just having everything in one place is awesome.

Ash Patel: What is your best real estate investing advice ever?

Braeden Windham: That’s a good one. I think I already said it, but putting it in an email is one of the Best Ever real estate advice that I have. Either put it in an email, or just make sure you’re asking tough questions on the front end of every transaction you do. Because I’d rather have tough questions upfront, than tough lessons on the back end.

Ash Patel: Yeah, and that’s a great example. I’ve got a broker that I’ve been dealing with on a deal. This guy literally doesn’t email at all. Everything’s on the phone. And then they’ll ask the same questions over and over again. It’s like, “Wait a minute. I know I told you, we’re good, move forward.” “No. You never said that.” “Oh my God. Please just use email.”

Braeden Windham: Sometimes it’s not even about not trusting somebody, it’s just a good thing to go back and look at. If roles and responsibilities were carved out in an email, then you can always go back and look at it. That would be the best advice I have for the audience.

Ash Patel: Braeden, are you ready for the Best Ever lightning round?

Braeden Windham: I am. I’m ready.

Ash Patel: Braeden, what’s the Best Ever book you’ve recently read?

Braeden Windham: Free to focus, by Michael Hyatt.

Ash Patel: What was your big takeaway?

Braeden Windham: For me, it was a weekly review, and just time-blocking, and making sure that you are very intentional with the time you’re spending… Because you can just get wrapped up in a ton of calls or something that you didn’t even mean to start working on, and then your day is gone, then your week is gone… Then you’re like, “Whoa, what do I do?” So just kind of keeping control of your time is the biggest takeaway from me.

Ash Patel: Braeden, what’s the Best Ever way you like to give back?

Braeden Windham: The best way I like to give back is through our co-sponsor charity. We give 10% of our gross income to Charity Water, where they take it overseas and give people clean water who’ve never had it before.

Ash Patel: Braeden, how can the Best Ever listeners reach out to you?

Braeden Windham: Two ways. Our website, which is, and then we are also hosts on the Wealth and Water podcast; that’s on our LinkedIn. You can tune into that every Thursday.

Ash Patel: Awesome. Braeden, thank you so much for joining us today. From being a senior in college and not really having any direction other than not wanting to work for somebody, being a ranch hand learning how to work hard, to being a very successful real estate investor in a very short amount of time. Thank you for sharing your story.

Braeden Windham: Absolutely. Thank you for having me on. It was definitely a great conversation.

Ash Patel: Best Ever listeners, thank you for joining us and have a Best Ever day.

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