Certainty in uncertain times …

Sometimes when the world seems to be spinning out of control and not much makes sense, it’s helpful … even necessary … to cling to something stable.

Headlines are filled with wars, rumors of wars, natural disasters, senseless murders, endless divisive vitriolic political rhetoric, greed, corruption, hypocrisy …

And that was just last week.

No wonder so many Americans love to just veg out and get away from it all by watching some football … oh wait.

When it comes to investing, it’s easy to go “full turtle” … retreating into our shells, hunkering down until the storm passes.

History says that’s not a winning strategy.

After all, there have ALWAYS been wars, disasters, corruption, and a zillion reasons to pull the covers over our heads and wait for morning.

But is there ever a time when looking back 20 years, you wish you would NOT have bought more real estate?

We’re guessing folks in 2015 wish they bought more in 1995.  And those in 1995 probably wish they bought more in 1975 … and those in 1975 wish they bought more in 1955 …

You get the idea.  And if you know history, there was a LOT of crazy stuff that happened in the world during each of those 20-year periods.

But one thing’s been SURE … real estate’s been among the safest places to build and protect wealth from the storms.

Yes, the cynics out there can point to individual cases where a real estate investor took some lumps in a downturn.  We’re on that list for 2008.

But it wasn’t real estate’s fault … it was how the portfolio was structured.

Otherwise, how do you explain people like Ken McElroy and many others who THRIVED with real estate investing during the same period?

It’s easy to ride an upside wave on a sunny day when a rising tide is lifting all boats.  Everyone’s an expert sailor in good weather.

But when the storm comes, you find out who really knows how to sail and has prepped their ship for the INEVITABLE tough times.

However, there’s a BIG difference between being in just a rowboat versus a truly seaworthy vessel.  The rowboat is much more easily tossed about in rough water.

So with everything going on in the world … and real estate getting tossed into the conversation of bubbles about to burst in all “asset classes” … we thought it’s a good time for …

Making the Case for Real Estate

This could be a book, so we won’t expound each point.

We’ll leave it to you to think, research, debate, and discuss these items with your friends … even and especially those who are prone to disagree.

Real estate is eternal, essential, and easy to understand. 

It’s been around forever and will continue to be necessary to support human existence.

The business model is simple … people or businesses use your property and pay you rent.  No Ph.D. needed.

Real estate markets are inherently inefficient.

That might sound bad, but it’s good.  The less of a commodity something is, the easier it is for pricing to be more subjective than objective.

Real estate markets are really hard to manipulate.

Many paper asset markets are “influenced” by power players to create spreads through profitability.

Because traders can’t deal in large blocks of properties to push prices around … they don’t.

Real estate is supported by the power players.

To the extent real estate can be manipulated, all the incentive for anyone big enough to do it … government, central banks, industry … is to support it.

No one attacks real estate to drive it down.

Real estate is financeable with cheap long-term debt.

Even 20% down with an 80% loan, producing 5 to 1 leverage, is considered “conservative” … and qualifies for some of the cheapest long-term money in the market.

There’s no margin call if a property’s value drops.  As long as you keep making those payments … using the tenant’s money … you’re okay.

Real estate mitigates counter-party risk.

This is a REALLY important point because we’re guessing the VAST majority of paper asset investors are quite unaware of the counter-party risk pervading their portfolios.

Bank accounts, brokerage accounts, insurance contracts, bonds (and any mutual fund or investment containing bonds) are FULL of counter-party risk.

When you own real estate, you own it.  It’s a real asset, not a promise.  It’s not someone else’s liability, where if they default you have nothing but an IOU.

Real estate allows you to switch out debtors.

Some might argue if a tenant defaults on their lease, it’s the same as if a bond issuer defaults on their payments.

No.  Real estate is VERY different.

To our previous point, if a bond issuer defaults, your bond is worthless.  It’s only a promise whose value is dependent on the counter-party (the bond issuer).

When a real estate tenant stops paying, you still have the property.  You can evict the tenant and replace them with someone who will pay.

Good luck doing that with a bond.

Real estate provides a hedge against both inflation and deflation.

You might have to put your thinking cap on for this one.

Obviously, with inflation, real assets go up in dollar value.  Inflation is why a 3-bedroom home purchased in 1960 for $10,000 is worth $200,000 today.  The dollar got weaker.

Deflation is the opposite.  The dollar gets stronger (try not to laugh) and it takes LESS dollars to buy the same real asset.

So now, a $200,000 property might fall to $100,000 or less.

But if you only put 20% down … or $40,000 … and the tenants (whose paychecks goes farther as prices are falling) pay off your property …

… at some point, you have a property that’s paid for.  So you’re in for $40,000 and the property is “only” worth half what you paid for it, or $100,000.

Did you lose?

Real estate provides certainty in an uncertain world.

We could go on and on, but there’s the point …

There’s no guarantee with investing.  It’s about taking thoughtful, mitigated risks for an attractive risk-adjusted return.

And while you can’t just throw a dart at a map, pick any property and haphazardly structure the deal, financing, and management …

… history says properly structured properties in solid markets are proven long-term winners no matter what’s going on in the world.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to …

… focus your education and networking on finding markets, teams, and properties which provide a high level of certainty in uncertain times.

Until next time … good investing!


 More From The Real Estate Guys™…

The Real Estate Guys™ radio show and podcast provides real estate investing news, education, training, and resources to help real estate investors succeed.

Lessons from Puerto Rico for real estate investors …

“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

   – George Santayana


This is one of our favorite quotes.  It’s simple yet powerful wisdom … useful for individuals, businesses, governments … and certainly for investors!

We could take this theme in a thousand different directions, but this CNBC headline caught our attention this week …

Here’s how an obscure tax change sank Puerto Rico’s economy

With tax reform in today’s financial headlines … and our memories of what happened to real estate after the 1986 tax reform …

… we think it’s a good time to consider the impact of tax policy on the economy, jobs, and real estate.

As for Puerto Rico … it’s a huge mess after Hurricane Maria.  Lots of infrastructure and real estate have been destroyed.

Of course, the financial mess in Puerto Rico was in the news long before Maria showed up.  The natural disaster just made the financial disaster a whole lot worse.

Let’s dig in and look for lessons for real estate investors …

The CNBC article points out, “Even before a devastating hurricane … the government was struggling with an economy in shambles …”

And, “That fiscal mess has its roots in the repeal of a controversial corporate tax break that helped spark an exodus from the island that sent its economy into reverse.”

Yikes.  Will people and businesses really move just because of some “tiny” tax law?

Yes.  Yes, they will.  It turns out taxes (and avoiding them) are kind of a big deal to people and businesses.

In this case, a tax break, “enacted in 1976, allowed U.S. manufacturing companies to avoid corporate income taxes on profits made in U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico. Manufacturers … flocked to the island.”

This lead to an economic and employment boom in Puerto Rico.

Of course, when politicians see money they just can’t help themselves.  The Puerto Rican politicians started spending, and borrowing to spend even more.

Meanwhile, back in the U.S., the CNBC article says …

But by the early 1990s, the provision faced growing opposition from critics who attacked the tax break as a form of corporate welfare.”

So in 1996, a ten-year phasing out of the tax break began and “plant closures and job losses followed.

Which bring us to tax policy and real estate investors …

The law had nothing to do with real estate or investors … but then again, it had EVERYTHING to do with real estate investing …

… because real estate investments are highly dependent on JOBS.

And whether you think it’s fair or not, corporations make decisions about where to do business (or not) based partially on tax policy.

In this case, tax breaks attracted corporations to set up shop and were good for jobs and real estate.  The removal of those breaks had the opposite effect.

Of course, the law in question was passed and repealed at the federal level.  It wasn’t under Puerto Rico’s control.

But Puerto Rico got the lesson.

So in 2012, Puerto Rico passed Act 20 and 22 … effectively becoming an attractive tax haven for both businesses and individuals.

We first heard about this from Summit at Sea™ faculty member Peter Schiff … who moved his asset management company and himself to Puerto Rico to save taxes.

He’s not the only one.  We have several other friends who’ve done the same thing.

Right now, the tax law still exists … though much of Puerto Rico doesn’t.

We think there’s probably a way to combine those two circumstances to create an opportunity for real estate investors.

Of course, back in the U.S., tax reform is in the air again …and corporate tax breaks are in the mix.

Will corporate tax breaks bring businesses to the U.S. and create an employment boom? If so, where?  And will the breaks be permanent or temporary?

It’s too soon to tell, but it’s something we’ll be watching closely.

Meanwhile, there’s another lesson from the Puerto Rico story …

We know a tax break brought in a tide of corporate investment, and the removal of the tax break decades later took the tide back out.

But there was a lot of opportunity in between.

Of course, to catch a wave, you need to be watching the horizon.  And when you see the wave forming, you need to paddle quickly into position.

In Puerto Rico, as in Florida, Houston, and the several Caribbean islands all decimated in varying degrees by the back to back hurricanes …

… there’s going to be a big tide of capital flowing in to repair everything.

And because of the scope of the problems, the season of rebuilding could last quite a while.

Recently, we talked with our boots-on-the-ground turnkey property provider in Orlando, and he says he sees a lot of opportunity in his market right now …

Problem properties are popping up with pricing that leaves some meat on the bone for investors.

That’s good news … not just for investors, but for the community at large … because investment capital is needed to help with the recovery process.

The same is true in Houston, Puerto Rico and other areas ravaged by the storms.

Of course, conditions in each market are different.  Orlando is in far better shape than Houston which is far better shape than Puerto Rico.

All that to say there are different levels of distress, bargains, risk and reward in each market.

Unfortunately for the average individual part-time investor, the gap between seeing opportunity and being able to take advantage can be too big to bridge.

For most U.S. citizens, their “investment” into these disaster zones will be a de facto donation through their taxes, as federal relief funds pour into each area.

Of course, many kind-hearted individuals will make modest personal donations, which is admirable.

But to get LARGE amounts of private capital into each area to help rebuild, it’s going to take an investment opportunity.

And we think private syndicators have a role to play.

Motivated real estate entrepreneurs with skills and availability have an opportunity to start a private investment fund to aggegate private capital and make profitable investments in each of these areas.

Busy qualified investors who don’t have the time or skills, but see the opportunity, can make an investment in these private funds and earn a profit while helping heal ravaged markets.

This is the kind of capitalism that makes a positive difference in the world …  people helping themselves by helping others.

Or as our good friend Gene Guarino often says, “Do well, by doing good.”

Until next time … good investing!


 More From The Real Estate Guys™…

The Real Estate Guys™ radio show and podcast provides real estate investing news, education, training and resources to help real estate investors succeed.

Expecting the Unexpected – Investing in Uncertain Times

Real estate investing is full of ups … and downs. If you haven’t experienced the downsides, we guarantee you will eventually.

As a real estate investor, you have to be on top of your game. You didn’t get into this business to pull the sheets over your eyes … you’re here to build wealth, and that requires planning and preparation.

You can’t bet on disasters NOT happening … they most likely will. Careless investing is a sure recipe for a crash. Careful investing, on the other hand, will help you survive crashes without losing the wealth you’ve accumulated.

In this episode of The Real Estate Guys™ show, we discuss how YOU can prepare for storms that come out of nowhere. You’ll hear from:

  • Your careful host, Robert Helms
  • His criminally cautious co-host, Russell Gray

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The nature of real estate

The real estate market is naturally volatile. Economies change, local markets evolve, natural disasters arise … sometimes overnight.

The downsides are ALWAYS looming.

But real estate investors are always looking for the upsides … sometimes so intently that they forget to look at the downsides too.

We caution you to do your due diligence AND have a back-up plan.

Some excellent words of wisdom are to always have a little cash on hand. The downsides are rarely in your control … but you can control your ability to react when they arise.

Four ways to be prepared for a downturn

As real estate investors, we weigh risk and reward every time we look at a deal. But some risks aren’t so obvious.

Being a successful investor means playing defense and offense at the same time.

While you can’t predict the future, you can take practical steps to make sure you’re ready to fend off threats and take advantage of smart deals.

Step No. 1: Get in touch with a demographic that can weather a storm.

Tapping into the right demographic is the key to recession-resistant investing.

It’s a smart idea to look at markets where someone who is a bit under the median income can afford to live.

In tough times, people who are well-off can downgrade to your market. And in good times, people on the lower end of the income scale can move up.

Either way, your area will be in demand.

Many factors can cause a downturn … rising interest rates, slow wage growth, tax increases, or geographic factors to name a few.

Downturns aren’t solely due to nation-wide economic slowdowns. Make sure you pick a demographic that can resist small ebbs and flows in your market.

Step No. 2: Invest in towns that have multiple “stories.”

Every town has something it’s known for.

Even better is a town that’s known for many things … the stories that draw people and growth.

A big industry would be one story. Two big industries? Even better. A major sports team might be another story.

Don’t bet on a single story. Make sure the jobs in your market are tied to multiple industries … that way, when one industry fails unexpectedly, you won’t see a mass exodus or decline.

And be sure an area is appealing for more than one reason.

Step No. 3: Monitor your inputs.

Look at what inputs make the numbers on your financial statement move. These are the inputs to keep track of.

Compile data, set up alerts, and don’t be remiss about digging deeper when an alarm goes off in your head.

All the information you need can be found in one way or another. The internet is a treasure trove of data. Your local Chamber of Commerce is another resource for keeping track of essential information.

Don’t be casual … especially if you’re an experienced investor. Treat every deal like it’s your first.

Monitoring your inputs can help you stay ahead of the curve and react to changes before others even know there’s a threat.

Can you see the advantage?

Step No. 4: Key into experts.

We live in the information age … it’s almost ridiculous how much information is available.

But some of the best information comes from people who have been in your situation and figured out solutions.

Listen to and read information from multiple sources … even if you disagree.

Learn what other people are saying BEFORE you interject your own opinion.

You can’t expect the unexpected if you only listen to people who share your point of view.

Navigating the three rings of risk

We’ve learned a lot over the years.

One piece of advice we think highly of is to always own a property or two with no loan. The return won’t be as high … but you can sleep at night.

In investing, it all comes down to the rings of risk.

Every investor should have three rings of risk in their portfolio.

The center ring is your livelihood. It should be isolated from all the other risks you’re taking.

The second ring is those bread-and-butter properties that bring cash flow and provide long-term equity growth from modest appreciation.

The third ring is where your risky investments happen. You should only expand into this area after you’ve established the first two rings of your investment portfolio.

In the outer ring, you can be more speculative. You may lose quite a bit in this ring … you’re taking on way more risk. But you could also win big.

Another thing to keep in mind is your Plan B.

In any short-term play, make sure you have a Plan B and even a Plan C to take you through the long term.

Sometimes the market changes in the middle of your play. In that scenario, financing structures and a property’s ability to cash flow can be really important.

If you are house rich and cash poor, it may be time to sit down with a financial advisor and considering refinancing so you can leverage the equity you have in your properties.

You may also want to consider selling and buying new properties so you can get some cash on your balance sheet.

When the market turns, you want to be in a position to snatch up a bunch of cheap real estate … and you won’t be able to do so unless you have cash on hand.

Another consideration to take is whether to diversify your liquidity. If the dollar falls, precious metals will retain their value … and the more wealth you have, the more important it is to put your equity in a stable medium.

Your best strategy is a strong network

Knowing how to sell is the essential survival skill in a tough market.

We’re hosting our yearly How to Win Funds and Influence People event this year … a workshop that teaches participants negotiation strategies that result in win-win deals.

We host events like these because networking is SO important. The best way to prepare for the unexpected is to get around smart people and take note of their strategies.

Getting around people who’ve been in your shoes is essential … and most successful real estate investors are more than happy to share what they’ve learned.

We don’t only host events for investors like you … we also attend them! We’ll be at the upcoming New Orleans Investment Conference learning about all things investing with some of our most knowledgeable investor friends.

Join us!

Your net worth is defined by your network. Make those crucial connections, and you have the key to staying strong through ups AND downs.


More From The Real Estate Guys™…

The Real Estate Guys™ radio show and podcast provides real estate investing news, education, training and resources to help real estate investors succeed.

Tech, stocks, and real estate riches …

Imagine you’re the proud owner of a modest 50-year old, four-bedroom, two-bath home … less than 2,000 square feet.

You put it on the market and it sells FAST … for $728,000 MORE than the asking price!!!

That’s not the sales price … just the premium OVER what you listed it for!

You might think this happened in that mythical marketplace … Fantasyland … but according this report, it just happened in Sunnyvale, California.

This average home was listed at $1,688,000 … which is RIDICULOUS in and of itself … but the actual sales price was a WHOPPING $2,470,000!!!

WOW.  Equity happened BIG TIME for that lucky owner!

But HOW?  And more importantly, what does it mean … and is there a way to get in on the action?

Let’s break it down …

First, equity is always about the right mix of supply, demand, and capacity to pay.

When there’s too little of something that lots of people can afford to pay more for … prices get bid UP.

In this case, the San Francisco Bay Area has next-to-no capacity to increase the supply of homes.

There’s an ocean, a bay, mountains, a green belt … and most of the available land has already been developed … or can’t be.Next, there’s a robust tech industry, great weather, and other attractions bringing an influx of immigrants from around the country and around the world.

Next, there’s a robust tech industry, great weather, and other attractions bringing an influx of immigrants from around the country and around the world.

So there’s lots of demand for housing relative to supply.But … $2.4 million for a run-of-the-mill house in an average neighborhood … bid up to $728,000 over asking price???

But … $2.4 million for a run-of-the-mill house in an average neighborhood … bid up to $728,000 over asking price???

That’s ALL about “capacity to pay” … and not from cheap mortgages.

No home lender is going to finance a mortgage on a home for $728,000 above asking price … no matter HOW great your credit score is.

So this huge overbid didn’t happen because some high-tech earner levered a fat paycheck into a fatter mortgage payment into an obese mortgage.

Without knowing the details of the transaction, we think it’s a safe bet this was a CASH purchase.  But that doesn’t mean cheap debt wasn’t involved.

Here’s how the Fed, tech, the stock market, and real estate all intersect …

It’s no secret the stock market has been on an epic bull run for quite some time.  It’s a bubble that just keeps inflating.

Inside the stock bubble are the FAANGs …  Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google … the tech sector.

These have been the horses pulling the stock market higher and higher.

Another part of the story is the long-term crazy low interest rates provided by the Fed.

Big corporations (like the FAANGS) then borrow cheap money to buy back their stocks … pushing up stock prices (and executive bonuses).

Of course, if you’re a compulsive-obsessive financial news watcher like we are, we’re not telling you anything you don’t already know … but stick with us …

Because what many people outside the tech industry aren’t aware of is a very common compensation incentive tech companies offer employees … called stock options.

Simply stated, a tech worker takes a slightly lesser salary, which aids cash flow for a start-up, while accepting options to purchase the company’s stock at a future date at a fixed price.

The employee is now motivated to work hard and stay long to drive the company to profitability … and a higher stock price.

When those options eventually vest, they’re what options traders call “in the money”.

In some cases, it’s a LOT of money.

Long-term Silicon Valley residents are accustomed to spurts of fast real estate equity caused when a booming stock market creates tech stock-option millionaires … and fuels bidding wars for scarce housing.

Of course, you don’t have to be in the tech industry or have stock options to be the beneficiary of explosive real estate equity.

You just need to be in the right market.

After all, what do you think the home next door to this $2.47 million property is now worth?

Of course, all this is intellectually interesting … but is there real world opportunity here for real estate investors?

We think so.

Way back in 2012, Forbes put out a list of top tech cities.  Among them were Seattle, Washington DC, and San Jose.

Today, with the benefit of hindsight, we know those markets have all seen substantial appreciation.

But there were other markets on the list, which didn’t have the same pop. So simply being a tech town isn’t enough.

Take a look at the list, then go back to our initial set of required conditions … low supply, high demand, strong capacity to pay.
Not all those places have a supply problem.  It’s tight supply, high demand caused by population growth, and capacity to pay … a lot … through high pay and stock options.

Here’s a 2017 list of top tech hubs for you to peruse.  You’ll see some familiar names at the top of the list.

But here’s something to think about …

Several top-of-list cities have become so expensive, tech companies are looking for new, more affordable places to move.

So cities lower on the list could be the beneficiaries of migrating and expanding companies.

Your mission (and ours) is to identify those “goldilocks” markets where the conditions are “just right” …

The market needs to be affordable today … and make sense on a cash flow basis, because if the rest doesn’t happen, we need to be able to hold the property long term and grow equity the old fashioned way.

The market needs some limitation to supply expansion, which will manifest in bidding wars, as tech wealth provides capacity to pay beyond easy mortgages.

There needs to be a solid combination of established tech companies and start-ups.

That’s where competition for talent forces small companies to offer options, which the bigger companies then need to respond to.

There are a few markets on this list that we have our eyes on … and some we’ve already developed relationships with.  So stay tuned for updates.

Meanwhile, do your own homework.  As much as we love cash flow, sometimes a big shot of equity can just brighten your whole day … and portfolio.

Until next time … good investing!


 More From The Real Estate Guys™…

The Real Estate Guys™ radio show and podcast provides real estate investing news, education, training and resources to help real estate investors succeed.

Property Management – The Key to Profitable Investing

Buying a property is one thing. Operating it is another.

Many investors buy property but fail to think about where their money will really be coming from … the tenants.

If you can’t take care of your property or your tenants, your income stream will be in big trouble. That’s where a property manager comes in.

In this episode, we invite a special guest to discuss the finer points of developing your property management philosophy.

He’ll offer tips on how to find a stellar property manager, what to expect from your property management company, how to manage a team, and MORE.

You’ll hear from:

  • Your philosophical host, Robert Helms
  • His phil-o-what? co-host, Russell Gray
  • Property management professional, Ken McElroy

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Why do real estate investors need a property manager?

We want to make it really clear … property managers are the unsung heroes of the real estate business.

As a real estate investor, your money is coming from your tenants.

Property managers interact directly with tenants. A good property manager will maximize the return on your investment by finding … and retaining … paying tenants.

If you’re a new investor, you may be fulfilling the role of property manager yourself. As your investments increase, however, you’ll soon find it necessary to outsource property management tasks to someone else.

Every real estate investor is running a business. If you want to grow your business, you need to make sure that every vital function is scalable as you move up the ladder and acquire new investments.

Overall, scalability means two things:

  1. Making sure that every aspect of the business you handle personally is either scalable (you can handle more of it as you get more properties) or can be delegated
  2. Making sure the people you rely on are also scalable

Make sure the system you set up has redundant life support systems. In other words, if one part of the system fails, you have a back-up plan to ensure everything is running smoothly and your cash flow won’t be interrupted.

And make sure your property manager has a back-up plan too and won’t be overwhelmed when you add to their workload.

Your property manager is essential to your process.

We’d caution you to consult with property managers BEFORE you even purchase a property … they have their fingers on the current state of the market and know what’s happening now.

And make sure you are not only thinking about how your property manager can help YOU, but also how you can help your property manager.

What does a property manager do, exactly?

Property managers are responsible for two essential tasks:

  1. Finding, vetting, and placing tenants
  2. Providing ongoing support for the tenants and property

Different property managers have different philosophies on how to fulfill these tasks.

You can approach working with your property manager in several different ways:

  1. Establish your own policies and require the manager implement them
  2. Pick the right person and let them do their job, using their own established policies
  3. Work with your property manager to establish a routine that’s somewhere in between.

Whichever route you choose, you want to keep your main goals in mind … to keep your property manager happy, to keep your tenants happy so they stick around, and to keep your property in good shape … and, just as important, to make sure your cash flow is stable.

Sometimes, the best option can be trusting your manager’s experience and letting them decide maintenance and marketing strategy.

Picking a property manager can be tricky, but the VERY LAST criteria you want to use when shopping for a good manager is price.

DON’T pick the cheapest property manager.

If your property manager is poorly paid, they’ll be unmotivated to do a good job, and you’ll end up losing more than you save.

Don’t begrudge your property manager the money they get for doing the easy jobs, like handling long-term tenants.

You want your property manager to be happy … it’s a win-win for both of you.

The bottom line is that real estate is a people business, not a property business.

Your managers and tenants aren’t widgets. Value them, and they’ll value you.

Want to help your property manager without giving them a raise? Consider referring them to other investors in the market for a manager.

Referring a good person or company is a win-win-win for you, your investor friend, AND your property manager.

Pro tips for property management

Ken McElroy started managing properties as a college kid who wanted a free place to stay.

Today, he runs a 250-person property management company that manages properties in Washington, Oregon, and California.

We asked him what he’s learned about property management over the years. Here are some key questions and answers:

What are the basics of finding a good property manager?

First, look for experience. Collecting rent is harder than you think.

Second, look for people who can hold down the rules without being too confrontational.

What should investors expect from good property management?

Two things:

  1. The return you budgeted for
  2. No issues

Ideally, Ken says, there should be no reason for you to call your property manager … in other words, your property manager should be responsible and responsive enough to handle issues as they arise and get you your return.

How do you manage a large team?

Ken’s company employs 250 people who work at the corporate office or on the ground at the properties.

“The key to everything is communication,” Ken told us.

One of his strategies is to have on-site managers hold daily meetings with all staff members, including workers responsible for maintenance, landscaping, and leasing.

Is it better to outsource maintenance and repair services or hire in-house teams?

This comes down to what the residents need.

Retention comes first, says Ken, and to retain tenants, managers want to handle any issues immediately.

A tenant will not want to stick around if you don’t handle a broken heater or jammed plumbing as quickly as possible.

Whether in-house vs. outsourced is better ultimately comes down to what strategy will allow your property manager to solve problems immediately.

What’s your client retention strategy?

Ken implements a policy of making sure one of his employees reaches out to every resident, every month.

He also hired a relationship manager to contact new tenants about the move-in process right away.

And he has his team reach out to tenants well before their lease is up … six months before, in fact … to check in and get tenants thinking about renewing their lease.

He shoots for a 50 to 60 percent retention rate.

What kind of tenant screening do you do?

Ken runs a criminal background check and a sex offender check. Someone with terrible credit and multiple evictions is obviously not the ideal tenant.

What advice do you have for new investors?

Going into property management as a new investor with no prior knowledge can be a recipe for disaster.

If you really, truly, have the time and can show up, you could successfully be both owner and property manager, says Ken.

But if you’re just doing it to save money or don’t have time to have your boots on the ground, disaster is a certainty, not a possibility.

The golden rule of property management

We love talking to Ken because he has a “No BS” policy. He has a ton of experience, and he’s not afraid to share it.

He’s also always looking to learn. For example, he’s been incorporating social media into his marketing strategies over the past few years and is always looking to learn how to use new technology.

If you want to read a whole book of tips and tricks, we highly recommend you check out his book, The ABCs of Property Management.

Looking for more property management advice? Check out Terry’s Tips for Happy Tenants, a report compiled by business owner Terry Kerr that you can find on our website.

Want to know our golden rule for flawless property management? Treat each tenant like they’re gold.


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The Real Estate Guys™ radio show and podcast provides real estate investing news, education, training and resources to help real estate investors succeed.

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