After purchasing his first property in 1998 based on little more than a gut feeling, Todd Nepola has come a long way as a commercial real estate investor. The Current Capital Real Estate Group founder shares his Best Ever advice for anyone who might be considering breaking into the industrial or retail spaces:
1. Follow your gut. Todd’s first property was a warehouse that he purchased, although no one else saw value in the deal. He thought it looked like a good property to buy, and it had a “For Sale” sign, so he bought it. That purchase launched his commercial real estate investing career.
2. Sometimes signs and paper are all you need. When Todd Nepola needed to fill vacancies for his first retail property back in 2003, he relied on a “For Rent” sign in the window and an ad in the newspaper. Today, even with all of the advancements in technology, he says signs and paper have still served him best.
3. Focus on neighborhood retail centers. Although many people are worried about a “retail apocalypse” on the horizon, Todd has found success investing in what he calls resilient retail spaces — those that will house chiropractors, dentists, tax offices, restaurants, etc.
4. When it comes to industrial investing, prepare for competition. Todd says the barrier to entering this asset class really comes down to patience. “You better be willing to pay up, because it’s just not going to make sense going in,” he says. “You’re not going to get a good deal, you’re not going to get a great cap rate, so you have to believe in it for the long haul.”
5. When seeking lenders, local regional banks are your best bet. In Todd’s experience, these banks are better able to focus on your business compared to the larger national banks, and they have a more human touch.
6. Once you secure a lender, you’ll need to put some money down. Todd recommends putting 30%–35% down on a loan in order to give yourself a nice cushion. “I sleep well at night putting a little bit more money down on my properties and having them leverage comfortably,” he says. Putting down a higher amount than the bank requires also gets him a lower interest rate and lower recourse.
7. It pays to be nice to brokers. Even if they don’t have something that you want at the moment, they may be able to deliver it to you sometime in the future, Todd says. Once they know you and consider you a real buyer, they might just come to you with a deal before it hits the market.
8. Some of the best commercial deals are listed by residential realtors and mom-and-pop brokers. These properties are often not advertised on major websites, and the prices can be shockingly low. Check residential multiple listing services, and be on the alert for “For Rent” window signs.
9. Take a chance and hire people. Every time Todd has spent money to bring people on board, it has paid off.
10. You can lose money by failing to compromise. Todd learned from his own personal experience that if a deal is a deal, it can still be a deal, even if someone moves the needle a little bit. Sometimes it pays to be flexible.
Todd Nepola | Real Estate Background
- Founder of Current Capital Real Estate Group, a full-service management and leasing company that specializes in commercial retail and industrial spaces.
- Portfolio: GP of 25 buildings consisting of retail and industrial.
- Based in: Hollywood, FL
- Say hi to him at:
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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, Todd Nepola. Todd is joining us from Hollywood, Florida. He's the founder of Current Capital Real Estate Group which is a full-service management and leasing company that specializes in commercial, retail, and industrial spaces. Todd, thank you so much for joining us and how are you today?
Todd Nepola: I'm great. Thanks, Ash, for having me. I've been looking forward to this conversation for a while now.
Ash Patel: It's our pleasure to have you. Todd, before we get started, can you give the Best Ever listeners a little bit more about your background, and what you're focused on now?
Todd Nepola: Sure. I've been in the commercial real estate arena for about 25 years now. Bought my first property in 1998. My path has always been to hold real estate, so I still own that same property today. Seven, eight years after I bought my first property, I decided it was a good idea to start a property management company, so we built a management company, and we do leasing and management, and redevelopment of centers. We've been doing it ever since.
Ash Patel: What was that first property?
Todd Nepola: First property was a warehouse. Believe it or not, it goes back to the RTC days, when the banks were selling properties dirt cheap, there was a For Sale sign out front, and nobody wanted to buy properties. It was a seven-unit warehouse, 13,000 feet. When I bought it, it was half empty, I never forget the day I bought it. When I got to the closing table, even the lawyer was laughing at me what a fool I was to buy this property. But I drained all my finances I had to buy the property and it's worked out pretty good.
Ash Patel: Todd, what made you buy a warehouse instead of the traditional single-family, the duplex, the four-unit, in that progression?
Todd Nepola: It's a good question. I was driving by this property repeatedly, and it was a good-looking warehouse, so I said, "That looks like a good one to buy." There was really no rhyme or reason why I went to warehouse over retail, or over residential at that time, other than it had a For Sale sign. So I called.
Ash Patel: Just a gut feeling, right?
Todd Nepola: Yeah.
Ash Patel: Awesome.
Todd Nepola: Just a pretty building.
Ash Patel: From then on, what was your next purchase?
Todd Nepola: Well, from then, I probably made a logical move ,because this was before the days of the Internet, giving you all the good feedback they give you on LoopNet and CoStar and all those guys. I found a property about a mile away, of similar use, and bought that one. All my properties started to pinball on the same street and corridor, because they were all near each other. So I got to know who was selling, who the owners were, and because I started to understand the market, I kept them all nearby. So the second was the same kind, it was another warehouse property, about I guess a little less than a mile away.
Ash Patel: How many properties in were you before you picked up a retail or a different type of property?
Todd Nepola: I was probably three to four properties in. The reason I changed it was that one of the properties I bought was industrial, but we kind of used the front. We got -- I remember, it was like a tax guy and whatever, it was out front. I kind of got pushed into retail a little only because they had these small little five, six, seven hundred square foot units. From there, I went and bought a retail unit, 10 units.
Ash Patel: What were the numbers on that? Do you remember?
Todd Nepola: I do. I actually bought the center back then, it was 6600 square feet. I tried to buy it from this seller who didn't have it on the market for ages. Finally, she called me, it was on Thanksgiving Day, and she said "It's $100 a foot, and I'm not negotiating." I said, "I'll buy it." It wasn't a great deal then, but I bought that property - I think it was 2003. Since then I've done absolutely nothing to it other than a coat of paint and it's just been rolling and rolling and cash flowing.
Ash Patel: $100 a square foot in 2003; that does not sound like a great deal.
Todd Nepola: It wasn't a great deal, but it wasn't a horrible deal.
Ash Patel: Okay.
Todd Nepola: But I loved it because for me, getting into retail, it was 6,600 square feet total, 10 base. For me, I was more concerned with how much risk I was going to take. I felt with 10 units, if three of them ever went vacant, four, I can still cover my expenses. That's how I got involved with that guy, and I paid up a little bit for it. I'm glad I did, because today I wouldn't sell for 300 a foot.
Ash Patel: Was it fully leased when you bought it?
Todd Nepola: No, it had two vacancies, but it was pretty [unintelligible 00:06:49.13]
Ash Patel: Okay, and how do you go about filling vacancies back then?
Todd Nepola: Good old-fashioned way. Back then I used to do my own leasing, so I put up a For Rent sign in the window. Believe it or not, those were the days we actually put things for rent in the local newspapers, we put an ad there and that was it; just off signs and paper.
Ash Patel: Pounding the pavement.
Todd Nepola: That's it.
Ash Patel: Yeah. How has that changed over the years? What do you do now?
Todd Nepola: Now we have a whole team of leasing guys, so we've gotten really good at it. Now the market is very different, but no matter how much technology they come up with, it makes people more accessible, and it allows us to send people site plans and surveys on the properties quickly. But to me, it still rolls back to the sign up by the street and sign on the window. When people are generally looking for a space, they drive around the area they want to look for and they see a sign and they give you a call.
Ash Patel: Yeah. It's amazing. I had a property where I had everything - giant banners, flyers handed out everywhere, phone calls, bonuses to any realtors that can get me traction... None of that worked, until I put a little for rent sign right by the road. We ended up filling the building through that. So yeah, amazing. What do you say to all of our fellow real estate investors that are in the multifamily space and think retail industrial is too hard, takes too much money, too big of a learning curve?
Todd Nepola: I get that question a lot, because I've purchased quite a few properties over the last two and a half decades. Everyone asked me the same thing. Multifamily is the best, everybody needs a place to live. I agree, it's great. In South Florida multifamily is super, super competitive down here, because you get a lot of guys that will own it and operate it themselves. It's hard to compete against those guys. I've never really gotten into multifamily for the sake of it's just not for me, in the sense that I've always followed the path of the industrial and the retail guys. Now, what I like about the retail guys and industrial guys is that if they're not doing well for any reason, they generally just leave, "I'll give you back the keys."
I find in the residential stories I hear --I have a lot of residential friends, and they'll tell me, "If someone has no money, they're not looking for a new apartment, they'll ride out the eviction." I could count on my hands how many evictions I've had to follow through to the end of the last 10-15 years, because you don't really come across that problem. I really think it's a different barrier to getting into the game. I think a lot of people think of a residential unit, in my opinion, that they're going to buy it kind of like buying a house. And it's really not; that's not the way that banks underwrite them anymore. So it's basically the same rules to get into both.
Ash Patel: I love that you mentioned the evictions. I had an attorney draft just one eviction notice in 10 years. That was really just to slap the tenant around a little bit and get him to straighten up. And they did. Yeah, I love that. You mentioned banks - what's the difference? When somebody goes to buy a warehouse or strip center, how is that different than multifamily?
Todd Nepola: Well, I'm not an expert in multifamily, so I can only go for what I kind of know... But basically, it's the same thing nowadays. The deals that we do, we generally go to a local community bank, and whether it's national or not, that's not the difference... But they all basically want to seek about 30% down. And I don't know that that really changes so much for multifamily, because they don't want to see you have the risk that people used to have going back 10-15 years ago, where you could buy with no money down or walk away with checks closing. You've got to have skin in the game. So if they can underwrite your deal, they're going to carve it up, they're not ever going to worry about today's interest rates. When they're underwriting my deals now, they're underwriting as if the interest rate is 6% because they've got to know I can carry this going forward as rates go up. So it's the same [unintelligible 00:10:21.12] but ultimately, like I tell everybody, whatever makes you happier. I prefer enjoying dealing with businesses much more than I do with residential tenants. I think it's easier, it's nicer, so that's where I stepped in. But truthfully, as long as you're in the game, as you very well know, as long as you're buying real estate, you're in the right arena.
Ash Patel: Todd, there's a retail apocalypse coming. Why would you buy retail right now?
Todd Nepola: I've heard this quite a few times. I've heard that Amazon is going to end everything and kill everybody, and I think the obituaries are a little bit too early. There's always a repurposing of retail, and for sure, in Florida, in our state, there's a lot of retail per person. But at the end of the day, I'm already seeing a lot of these older centers getting repurposed, they're bulldozing some of them, putting up apartment buildings...
The kind of stuff that we move into - I'm not buying the big 50,000 square foot big boxes that can hurt us. I'm buying the stuff that has your chiropractors, your dentists, your pediatrists, your tax office, your florists, your restaurants, and so on and so forth. I'm not saying anything is Amazon-proof or internet-proof, but they're resilient, and these guys are going to stay. The truth is, we're a very social society. People don't want to order everything online. I don't buy into the apocalypse.
Ash Patel: I totally agree with you. I think COVID really showed us that those neighborhood retail centers are thriving. Because people now want to stay close to home; they're not driving 30 minutes to go to downtown Miami or Lauderdale, or Cincinnati. They want to go to their suburban downtown, where it's a cool, walkable vibe, the pizza guy, the deli, the little bar, the watering hole, and like you've mentioned, the chiropractor, the insurance guy; those are not going away in my opinion as well. Thank you for sharing that.
Industrial - so what are the barriers to entry on that?
Todd Nepola: I think it's the same thing. If there's any sector that's been almost impossible to buy in the last two years, it has been industrial. We personally bought just over 500,000 square feet of retail space in the last two years since January 2020, and we bought 10,000 square feet of industrial; that's all you could get. I mean, I've got one building. It's such a competitive market now, and especially the small base stuff. We specialize in the, say, 1,200 square feet to about 10,000 square foot base, and it's just hot; everybody wants to get into it right now. So the barrier to getting in is a lot of patience. And you'd better be willing to pay up, because it's just not going to make sense going in. You're not going to get a good deal, you're not going to get a great cap rate, so you have to believe in it for the long haul.
Ash Patel: Todd, what kind of cash-on-cash returns do you typically see?
Todd Nepola: It depends on the deal. A lot of times people ask me what the return is when I'm buying a property. The truth is I'm not as interested, because I get packages from every brokerage company known nationwide, and they give me these beautiful proformas. The truth is - I even tell it to the broker so no disrespect - I kind of throw it in the garbage because I'm not interested in what they tell me I could do. I have to know, so I'm looking for properties that have upside potential.
Last year in September I bought one, and it was 85,000 square feet. The truth was, it was probably about a three cap. But a third of the units were vacant at the time, so we had to go lease them up, and we knew what we had to do. It was an out-of-country owner. So the return I get when I buy them isn't as important as where I think I'll get. But right now, in this market, we're still looking for 12%, 13%, 14% cash-on-cash carries... When we have them stabilized, not at purchase.
Ash Patel: Yeah. In terms of financing, is it a challenge to have property finance that has a high vacancy?
Todd Nepola: It gets more challenging for some people. We have the luxury of a big track record, so I always buy all my properties with 30% to 35% down. I'm always putting a lot of skin in the game. A lot of times I'll work with banks, [unintelligible 00:13:54.27] I'll put up maybe even another 10%. When I hit a hurdle and I rent out some of these units, they'll release some money back to me. So I've always found that banks will work with you if you have a proven remedy how to solve the problem. For the most part, the number one thing is the market. So if you're buying a property on one side of the street with 50% vacancies, and across the street everything is full, they know you're going to get it full. But if the whole area is white, that would probably scare them. But I haven't had a problem with any banks, knock on wood.
Ash Patel: Todd, somebody that is wanting to start out with a small neighborhood strip center, that has no track record - how should they approach a lender, and what type of lender should they approach?
Todd Nepola: This is a great question, Ash, because that's probably one of the most common questions that people ask me all the time. I think it's the greatest thing to get in, but what people have to realize first off that a lot of people deal with say Bank of America, Wells Fargo, or TD Bank, and those banks are just too massive to talk to you and you're just not important to them. You've got to bring it down a notch and you've got to go to your local regional bank, the smaller banks. These are the guys that want to lend to you, because they may want your business account, they may want your checking account, but they're more human. And I'm not insulting Bank of America; I use them, but I have no loans from Bank of America. They're just massive. They're designed for the Blackstones of the world. So you've got to work with a smaller bank.
The second thing is you're going to have to put some money down. I've read the books and I've heard all the stories about buying real estate with no money down. If you do that, you hit one speed bump, it won't be your property anymore. So you've got to put some money down. But I think it's the greatest thing to get in the game. And go talk to your local banks. As I said, I think you could get in with good credit with about 30% down, [unintelligible 00:15:29.26] in most of these deals and just get started.
Ash Patel: Should they talk to the lenders before they find a property, or after?
Todd Nepola: You could always talk to a bank; there's really no reason to talk to them until you have a deal. It's kind of like you have nothing for them, so you may not get the attention you want from the bank officer, because you're telling what potentially you may have one day down the road and that doesn't really excite them as much as a deal. What I can tell you is there's a bank out there, there's a lender out there for everybody. If it's your first deal, I tell everybody, you've got to do whatever it takes. I drained my accounts down to pennies to buy my first property. People asked me, should they use a credit card? You should use any kind of debt you can get, whether it's from friends and families, credit lines, or anything to get your first property. Because like anything else, once you own it, it's a lot easier to refinance it and easier to buy the second, third, and fourth. You've just got to get in.
Ash Patel: That's great advice. Unlike multifamily, relationships with lenders - it's so important with commercial properties. It's not a commodity as much as it is. The banks are usually keeping the loans on their books, so they have to believe in you. And when you approach them, having a great narrative helps as well.
Todd Nepola: Absolutely.
Ash Patel: Tell them your turnaround story, tell them what your intentions are, and really get them excited about that. Great advice. So you don't have to put down 35% on deals; do you choose to do that?
Todd Nepola: Generally speaking, the bank wants 25% down. We like a nice cushion. I've lived through everything, from I guess now wars and pandemics and savings and loan crises, so I've seen it all. I'm a big fan of studying history, and if you look at the history of real estate, if you can hold on to real estate no matter what the market does, you'll be fine. You just have to have the staying power. What got a lot of people in a lot of trouble back in '08 and '09 was they just didn't have any staying power, and they were too over-leveraged, and then they quit and walked away.
A lot of people that I know - I wasn't one of them, but a lot of people just gave the keys back so to speak, and walked away from their properties. Only two years later, this prop was worth a lot more money. So I sleep well at night putting a little bit more money down on my properties and having them leveraged comfortably.
Break: [00:17:37] - [00:19:23]
Ash Patel: Todd, do you get a lower interest rate by putting down a higher amount?
Todd Nepola: Yes. I get a lower interest rate and lower recourse, yes.
Ash Patel: What are your typical rates right now?
Todd Nepola: I've been borrowing for the last six months between 3.5 and 3.75, five years fixed.
Ash Patel: Yeah, that's incredible. That shows...
Todd Nepola: It's going to probably change today, thanks to the Fed. But [unintelligible 00:19:44.03]
Ash Patel: Yeah. You said it limits your recourse; are these non-recourse, full-recourse, or something in between?
Todd Nepola: Anytime you deal with a local lender like this, you're going to get recourse. So what we generally try to do is we buy a property, we'll get it from a local lender. Like I said, these guys keep their loans on the books. They don't want you to have recourse just because they don't trust the property. They just want to make sure they've got you if there's ever a problem that they have a little bit of an angle with you, and that's the recourse. So you're always going to sign a recourse; the question is how much. It could be 100% recourse, but we all know the property is never going to zero; but you don't want that on your balance sheet. So we always negotiate that with the banks that say, "Well, if I put 35% down, let me just carry the next 20% or 30% of the recourse, so my balance sheet isn't impacted by it," which doesn't make a difference.
Ash Patel: I did not know that was an option. Thank you for sharing that. Good to know; everything I have is full-recourse. How do you find deals?
Todd Nepola: I spend hours every single day looking for deals. Whether it's going on CoStar, or whether it's just cold calling people, whatever it may be, I'm always hunting for deals. I'll give you my secret - I find that it pays to be nice to every single broker, especially ones that don't have what you want, because they're the ones who may deliver it to you one day. I'm doing a deal right now, we're closing on two properties from one broker. I never even met the guy; he called me over the phone and tried to buy one of my properties. I talked to him for 20 minutes, and then he caught me with an off-market deal a few weeks later.
So if you're nice to brokers, they're going to feed you a lot of deals. It definitely helps when you have some proof that you can close deals, because once they know you're a real buyer, they'll go to you before they just go to the market. But ultimately, you've got to get out there and search and you've got to make offers. I'll tell you too, we bought a small property in January, and the seller wanted $3.5million for the property and it just wasn't worth it, so I offered him two. Most people say, "How do you offer $2 million on a $3.5 million property?" Because he countered at $2.5 million, and we settled at $2.275 million. But most people won't even make the offer; it's just a piece of paper and LOIs. Send them out, give it a shot.
Ash Patel: Do you always do LOIs, or do you just try to go right under contract?
Todd Nepola: I generally do an LOI first, especially in the commercial arena, because we use the FAR/BAR contracts, which are the easiest ones for the most part. But then you've got to start getting into the contract, you have to start getting into estoppel letters and liens and code violations, just to find out if we're going to make a deal. I have a template for an LOI, I send it out, it's easy, and you'll find out if you have some traction, before I go through the whole trouble of putting together a contract or having my lawyer do it. One piece of paper, it's not binding, but like I said, you'll find out if a guy's a player and you've got to deal.
Ash Patel: What percentage of your deals come from brokers?
Todd Nepola: 75% to 80% of deals come from brokers. Every now and then we'll find it off-market on our own.
Ash Patel: How do you find those?
Todd Nepola: From word of mouth, we've actually got some properties. We just bought a property last year from a seller that knew we bought it from someone else. He said, "I know you bought a property from my friend, are you interested?" We've been in this for a long time, so we do get a lot of calls and we have a big company, so we have the privilege of that coming in now. When I started, that would never have happened of course...
Ash Patel: I'll share one of my best-kept secrets - I don't keep it, I share it with everybody... But finding commercial deals listed by residential realtors; or by, I'm going to call them mom-and-pop brokers or unsophisticated commercial brokers. We've literally had brokers that had $5 million strip centers that they advertised only on their own website. That was like a homemade website; they didn't put it on CoStar, LoopNet... And then these residential realtors, it seems - man, they get excited when somebody brings them a commercial deal. They slap it up on the MLS, mispriced often, and you gets some great deals that way. Have you done that?
Todd Nepola: You are 100% right. You just hurt my stomach, because there was a beautiful center, it was a small center right by our office. Someone said, "Hey, do you see, that center's for sale." I looked it up while I was at my computer and I said, "That's not for sale." He said, "I think I it is." I drove there, it was a residential realtor, and put up a For Sale sign. He sold the center that should have sold at 200 bucks a foot, asking price was 130 a foot. I was like, "Oh my god." But just as you said, they didn't even advertise it.
Ash Patel: So I constantly scour residential MLS-es when they allow you to search by commercial property. A great way to find deals.
Todd Nepola: That's a great tip.
Ash Patel: Yeah. Are you slowing down at all in your purchases knowing that we've had a long run of a great economy?
Todd Nepola: No. Again, we have a little bit of luxury being in South Florida, the market has been booming down here. But our model - we don't buy the class A brand new grocery-anchored centers. We buy value-add centers, so we're just buying centers, and because we don't sell them, we only look to increase the NOIs and refinance then and we cash out. So because we do that, we keep the real estate forever. I think we have a long horizon ahead of us.
Ash Patel: Todd, you've got a big built-out company now. What was your first hire?
Todd Nepola: My first hire - I remember to this day. I started the company by myself, and when I finally got to the point I was going to hire help, I hired a guy. I still remember his name, it was Greg King, he was a fantastic guy. Between Greg and I, we answered the phones, we collected rents, we painted buildings, and we did everything we had to do together. From Greg King, I remember going back, --oh boy, a long time ago-- we hired a girl to come be the receptionist. When we got to a receptionist, I thought I made it. I said, "Someone's actually going to answer the phone for me, this is great." Let me tell you, it was that small position that makes a huge difference, because not answering the phones, you have a lot more free time. From there, we continued to grow and grow, and bring on leasing agents, managers, and the rest is where we are today.
Ash Patel: What would your advice be to that one-person shop that wants to scale?
Todd Nepola: You've got to do it. When I first opened my office - I tell a lot of people this story. I started by myself and I rented - I think it was 700 or 800 square feet. I went and I bought office desks; I went to Dell back then, online, and I bought, I don't know, it was like six or seven computers. I set everything up with chairs, but it was just me. I always tell the story that a good friend of mine... It's always your good friends who will give you the really funny advice. He walked in after I signed a three-year lease, I bought all this furniture and computers, and I bought a phone system, I had the office, and he said, "Are you expecting someone to come here?" I was like, "Oh, did I make a big mistake?" I was like, "This is not good." You know, it makes you work harder. But every time we'd spend the money to bring people on board, it's always worked out and been a blessing. So you've got to take the chance and hire people; they'll really pay you back.
Ash Patel: I love that story. Most people hire people, they work out of their living room, their kitchen, and then they get the office. I love that you just went all in, got the computers, the desks. What's a deal that you lost money on and what was your lesson learned?
Todd Nepola: It's a great question. I'm going to answer it maybe just a tiny bit differently. The deal I learned the most on, that cost me the most money, was probably around 1999 or 2000. There was a seller out of Israel selling an enterprise rent-a-car lot on a corner, a beautiful corner. He wanted 250,000; see how well I remember this deal. We settled to 225,00, and back then, sellers all wanted to finance the deals. They wanted 10% down, and they wanted, I think, back then, like 8% interest, which was a good interest rate back then. And we kind of had a deal.
And at the last minute, the seller got cute, in my opinion, and said, "Nah, I want 235 or no deal." And because I was young, stupid, and foolish, I said, "We agreed at 225, I'm not paying 235." So I lost the deal. Now, bear in mind, that would have cost me an additional $1,000, down because they were financing it. A few months later, I realized I might have made a mistake after the property has been sold. I get the luxury of driving by this property almost every day on my way home. Here we are, I don't think the property is worth a penny less than a million and five, so $1,000 cost me a million-plus.
But when you're young, you don't realize; you have your ego and you have your beliefs. But sometimes you've got to be flexible and compromise; it's been the greatest lesson. I've told that story a million times to everybody, don't be stuck. If a deal is a deal, it could still be a deal if someone moves the needle a little bit. But it cost me a lot.
Ash Patel: Are you from New Jersey or New York?
Todd Nepola: Staten Island, New York.
Ash Patel: I grew up in Jersey, so I get that mindset. Awesome. Todd, what is your best real estate investing advice ever?
Todd Nepola: The best advice I could give anybody is you're going to be afraid to buy your first property, and you should be. If you're not afraid, don't do it, because you should be afraid. But do it. Whether it's multifamily, industrial, or retail, it really doesn't matter, do it. Be nervous, be scared; what's the worst that can happen? If you're so sorry you bought it, you could sell it. You may lose a few dollars. But if you're right, and you're following the path that everybody else has been in real estate, [unintelligible 00:28:28.26] very few people that tell you it's a bad deal, if you're right, it'll multiply and give you the best retirement fund of your life. It'll let you sleep well at night and it'll certainly put your kids through college and take care of all those burdens of worrying about a day-to-day job. So lListening to guys like you, Ash, is fantastic, because it kind of bridges the gap where they're nervous, but you're going to be scared, but you got to do it. That's what they have people like you to help them for.
Ash Patel: Amazing advice. Thank you. Todd, are you ready for the Best Ever lightning round?
Todd Nepola: I'm ready.
Ash Patel: Alright, let's do it. Todd, what's the Best Ever book you recently read?
Todd Nepola: I just finished two books ago, a great book, and it's similar to what we just said. By Gerald Hines from the Hines Corporation. He's the founder of Hines. And if you know much about them, they're the biggest real estate company out there today. It was called Raising the Bar, by Gerald Hines. It's a story of how this guy, just like you said, how I started with an office, some people started in the house. He started in his house, and one building at a time, one deal at a time, he kept on growing and growing and growing. Now Hines is, I believe, the largest private real estate company in the world.
We're talking maybe 50-60 billion in assets right now that they own. He started one deal at a time. So what I loved about the book - and I'm a big reader - is it doesn't just tell you how great it's been, how successful he was. He tells you how hard it was, and all the nights of losing sleep. When there was a tornado and he had to go out and travel across the country to go to a building. He talks about all the things he does to give back and how he works with people. He talks about his hobbies and his family, and how he had to give this company and hand it off to his son, which is not easy to do. But he did it, and obviously, his son's doing a great job now too. But hat is by far the best book I've read in the last two months.
Ash Patel: That's going on my list. Thank you for sharing that.
Todd Nepola: You're going to love it.
Ash Patel: Todd, what's the Best Ever way you'd like to give back?
Todd Nepola: I've learned a lot of lessons in giving back and I've come to a point where I really enjoy giving back. I'm less the guy who has [unintelligible 00:30:16.20] my brother's a massive guy with time. What I like to do is bring people into the office; so I really want to see more people get involved in commercial real estate, again, any sector in it... So we have a pretty good internship program in my office where we bring in a bunch of high school and college kids in the summer and we pay them.
I'm paying them very well, because if they're going to show up, they should get paid. I don't use my interns as people to answer the phone, or just run an errand. I take them with me, [unintelligible 00:30:39.26] my property managers; it's more of a teaching thing. I always have people come in in the office and spend time with them, I'll always take a phone call from people... And I will plug it now, because people know - I've just finished writing a book which is coming out in about two months. My way of giving back is 100% of the proceeds from the book are going to go to charity. I just want people to get anything they can out of me and learn this game. Very rewarding to see people learn.
Ash Patel: Tell me what the book is called.
Todd Nepola: That we're still working on.
Ash Patel: Okay, that's the hardest part, right?
Todd Nepola: You know, it actually is the hardest part; that and getting some pictures. But it's most likely to be called, if we can get [unintelligible 00:31:15.27] Getting Real On Commercial Real Estate by Todd Nepola. We have the book done, it's in the publishing house, we're getting that done and getting a lot of work done. It's my first book, but I felt - here's the way I could give back.
I have two daughters with teenage daughters. I'd love to see more women get involved in commercial real estate. I know a lot of women I meet, they kind of think that commercial is for men and residential is for women. It's not, it's a great business for them. I'm looking to see more minorities get involved, so we've got to work with these groups and try and help them as much as we can. That's why the book is going to be for charity; I won't make a penny off it. Those are the ways to get back, by seeing others succeed.
Ash Patel: That's incredible. I'm sure you know Beth Azor.
Todd Nepola: Yes.
Ash Patel: One of the savages in this industry.
Todd Nepola: Beth is great. I know it's your lightning round, but I'll just tell you, real funny... Beth was trying to sell a shopping center, and she brought it to me. I said, "Wait, wait, that center?" I said, "I'm not even interested, because Beth has got every penny out of the center." If Beth is selling it, then it's no good anymore. She's that good.
Ash Patel: She's that good.
Todd Nepola: She's fantastic.
Ash Patel: Todd, how can the Best Ever listeners reach out to you?
Todd Nepola: Anyone can. I'll tell you the truth, you could call me, you can email me, we're at currentcapitalgroup.com. My phone number is 954-966-8181. I'm email@example.com. Instagram, @lifeaccordingtotodd; any way you want to get me, get me. But if you have a real question, you have something you want to know, I'm happy to help you. I have people come to the office probably two or three times a month, just come here and ask some questions. If you want to meet a bank or you want to have a question, I'll sit down, grab a cup of coffee, and help just about anybody.
Ash Patel: You're an amazing guy, thank you. And thank you for being on the show and sharing your 25-year journey from that first warehouse to what you've accomplished today. I can't thank you enough for sharing all of that with us.
Todd Nepola: And I thank you, Ash. [unintelligible 00:32:59.06] the people, it's fantastic. The time you devote to this... It's fantastic. Thank you for having me.
Ash Patel: Best Ever listeners, thank you so much for joining us. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave us a five-star review, share the podcast with someone you think will benefit from it. Also, follow, subscribe, and have a Best Ever day.
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