How to Find Financial Freedom Through Real Estate Investing

Some people go from rags to riches … all by getting involved in real estate. 

That may not be the case for everyone, but real estate IS one of the most reliable vehicles for building lasting financial freedom. 

We’re talking with an investor whose story is a gripping tale of winning … losing … and making a comeback. See what lessons YOU can learn from his experience. 

In this episode of The Real Estate Guys™ show, hear from:

  • Your free-wheeling host, Robert Helms
  • His free-loving co-host, Russell Gray
  • Investor and author of Financial Freedom with Real Estate Investing, Michael Blank

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Real estate’s many paths to financial freedom

We have so many listeners who are brand new to real estate. 

They’re trying to figure out if it really makes sense to build wealth with real estate. Is it really a vehicle for growth?

Real estate isn’t as simple as some other investments … but there are a lot of reasons to like real estate. It’s arguably the best financial vehicle on earth. 

At this particular time in the economic cycle, some people are a little nervous about real estate … but you don’t have to be. 

Walking into real estate is like walking into a big mall … there are so many different ways to approach it. 

Real estate is just a vehicle … and it’s a vehicle to produce a financial result in your life. 

When you figure that out, the first thing you need to do is develop yourself as an investor. 

Think about who you are, what you want, what you have to work within terms of experience, financial resources, relationships … all the elements that help build your personal investment philosophy. 

Then … you look at what the market is giving you to work with, and YOU work to put it all together. 

You’re going to have to fill in some gaps in your education … and maybe your credit score or your income. You’re also going to need to position yourself to understand markets and teams. 

The easiest way to do this is to surround yourself with other people who have been there, done that. 

There are so many ways to approach the problem of making money in real estate … and that’s what we are talking about today. 

Meet Michael Blank

One of the paradigms we have to break is this idea of scarcity versus abundance. So many people believe that there is only so much to go around. 

By sharing, we all open ourselves up to better deals and more education. It’s called an abundance mindset. 

In that spirit, our guest today is a fellow podcaster. He’s an author. He’s a teacher. He’s Michael Blank. 

Michael’s latest book is Financial Freedom with Real Estate Investing. But the story of how he got into real estate … like every investor’s … is unique. 

Michael has a master’s degree in computer science. He started off programming and joined a software startup in the late 1990s.

When the software company went public, Michael found himself with some cash in the bank. But he learned quickly that it doesn’t matter what’s in your bank account … it’s about what passive income you have. 

“I quit my job and learned how to trade stocks and options, how to flip houses. My big idea was actually restaurants, and I got involved with a pizza franchise,” Michael says. 

That worked for Michael until the recession. 

“I lost my IPO, millions in the restaurant debacle. I almost lost my house. It was a low point for me, and I learned a lot during that time,” Michael says. 

Michael clawed his way out with real estate. 

Like so many people, Michael thought of real estate as single-family house investing. He started by flipping homes. 

But he didn’t have any money … so he learned how to raise money and syndicate. He started buying two houses a month and flipped three dozen houses in a few years. 

He ended up investing in an apartment building … and he learned a crucial real estate lesson. 

“While house flipping was profitable, it was a lot of work. I couldn’t just take time off if I wanted. Meanwhile, this apartment building was just sending me money in my mailbox,” Michael says. 

Today, Michael is one of the leading authorities on multifamily syndication. 

Don’t wait to get started

Multifamily is just one of the many real estate options at “the mall.” But it’s an awesome niche to play in. 

Deals might be a little scarcer … and cap rates might be a little compressed … but financial freedom means having other people get up every day and work hard and send a chunk of their money to you. 

That’s what apartments are great at. 

The biggest hold-ups to investors jumping into multifamily … money and experience. 

They think that the smart thing to do is landlord for 5 to 10 years in single-family and then take that experience and “graduate” to multifamily investing. 

“That plan is unnecessary,” Michael says. “The ability to raise money and be taken seriously by brokers and investors can be achieved in a very short period of time.” 

Michael teaches people how to do just that. 

You can learn all the details … how to read contracts and understand titles and escrow and market analysis … but you have to start with your mindset and your heart. 

If you believe that you CAN learn what you need to know to be successful … then you are already on your way. 

Learn more about how YOU can find financial freedom through real estate investing … and the different investment options available to you … by listening in to our full episode!

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.


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Market Spotlight – Jacksonville, Florida

It’s the first week of our market spotlight series … and we’re starting with a city that has been on our radar for a while … Jacksonville, Florida!

There’s a lot to like about this Northeast Florida city. To start, it’s the fourth largest economy in Florida and has the largest population in the state … which means HUGE opportunities for real estate investors.

Listen in as we visit with some of our favorite boots-on-the-ground experts and explore all Jacksonville has to offer.

In this episode of The Real Estate Guys™ show you’ll hear from:

  • Your sunshine-loving host, Robert Helms
  • His sunny-side-over co-host, Russell Gray
  • President and co-founder of Southern Impression Homes, Chris Funk
  • General manager of Southern Impression Homes, Chandler Janger

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Why Jacksonville?

There are so many places for you to invest in real estate. So, for the next few weeks we are highlighting some of the markets we find interesting this year.

Jacksonville, Florida, is a place  we have been looking at for a long time because there are SO MANY reasons to like it.

Jacksonville has the largest population in Florida and the fourth largest economy. And did we mention it’s a no-income-tax state?

Florida is the No. 1 location that baby boomers choose to retire in, but the year-round sun attracts younger tenants too. Variety and diversity is the name of the game.

Whether you’re a single-family-home investor or are interested in multifamily properties or even vacation ownership, Jacksonville is full of possibilities.

Opportunities for high returns in new construction

Our guest today is Chris Funk of Southern Impression Homes. Chris started out in the dry-cleaning business … and then the ’08 crash happened.

Like many business owners, Chris lost about 20 percent of his revenue. He needed to find a new source of cashflow. What he found was real estate.

Ultimately, Chris bought up about 25 homes. He bought them cheap, renovated them, and rented them out. The cash came in … and Chris was hooked.

He expanded his portfolio and soon went from buying 50 houses a year to buying 50 houses a month!

The biggest challenge for Chris was finding good property management, so he decided to do it himself.

Before he knew it, Chris was running a large property management company and expanding from renovations to land purchasing and new construction in Jacksonville.

Chris says that renovating older homes is still his bread and butter, but he realized there are great opportunities for profits from new construction.

New homes come with limited maintenance costs, and when you build from the ground up, you have 100 percent control over every aspect of the build.

New construction is often more attractive to tenants … much of the growing labor force in Jacksonville has chosen to settle in new construction.

And more interested potential tenants means properties are more attractive to investors like you.

It’s this aspect of business that makes Chris’ approach to the market unique. Instead of focusing on selling to individual owner-occupants, Chris tries to sell most of his inventory to investors.

“Investors have been our lifeblood ever since we started in our real estate business,” Chris says. “We’re investors ourselves, and we built our property management company as a company that is built by investors for investors.”

Chris says he doesn’t want to just sell a house and go away. He wants to become part of the investor’s team on the ground and manage their assets … all of them!

It’s a long-term opportunity instead of a one-time sell. And investors who work with Chris do more business, more often.

Investment opportunity in Jacksonville isn’t confined to single-family homes. Chris knows this and builds new duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes as well.

Like many other markets, the cash-on-cash yield for a multifamily property is higher than that for a single-family home … but you do give up some appreciation.

One of the most attractive elements of the Jacksonville market is affordability. Single-family homes range from $150,000 to about $200,000. The highest priced fourplexes clock in at about $550,000.

What investors need to know

Jacksonville … like the rest of the sunshine state … has had double digit population growth every year since the census was created.

It’s not a town full of retirees either. Young professionals settle there to take advantage of affordable prices and job opportunities.

The city has a booming financial district with major corporations like Fidelity National Title, Ameris Bank, and Wells Fargo.

There’s also a thriving industrial sector. Companies from Coach to Mercedes and FedEx have major distribution centers in the metro area.

The United States military maintains a large presence in Jacksonville … and they are expanding their ranks.

From a tenant perspective, Southern Impression Homes General Manager Chandler Janger says this means the average resident is middle to upper middle working class … largely reliable and looking for a great home at a great price.

By keeping property management in-house, Southern Impression Homes can give investors in-depth insight into each of their properties. An online portal offers instant access to occupancy, payment, and tenant information.

Owners are paid electronically the month after rent collection and receive a monthly statement broken down by property.

Chandler says if there’s one thing investors should know, it’s that communication is key. In property management, there are a lot of moving parts … clear communication makes everyone’s job easier.

With great teams in place on the ground and beautiful properties, Jacksonville is a market worth looking into.

To discover if Jacksonville is a good fit for your portfolio, check out the Jacksonville Market Report prepared by Chris and his team at Southern Impression Homes.


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.


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Single-Family Update and Hot Market Spotlight

We taped this episode of The Real Estate Guys™ show at the Single Family Rental Investment Forum in Scottsdale, Arizona.

This is our second year at the event, and while it features many big institutional investors, we’ve also spoken to a number of mom-and-pop investors who are looking at the big picture for single-family investing.

That’s a great thing to do…it means you get a look at what your competition’s doing so you can jump into market niches before they do.

In this show, we talk to a guest who has found a market niche and perfected the process for investing in single-family homes there.

Learn all about this hot market … and get an update on the state of single-family rentals. You’ll hear from:

  • Your singular host, Robert Helms
  • His singled-out co-host, Russell Gray
  • Single-family expert Patrick Grace

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Kansas City, Missouri, market drivers

We always say live where you want, but invest where the numbers make sense.

Well, our guest today happens to live and work in the same market. He has spent so much time with his boots on the ground … 20 years! … that he has his market down cold.

Our guest is syndicator and investor Patrick Grace, and his market is Kansas City, Missouri.

Pat works exclusively on the Missouri side … but there is a Kansas City, Kansas, right across the river, in case you were curious.

We asked Pat to give us a market spotlight, so let’s start with the basics. Why does Kansas City make sense?

  • The cost of living is low. Housing, groceries, and basic necessities are affordable for residents.
  • It’s a low-risk market. KC doesn’t go through big ups and downs.
  • It’s a booming metro area. KC is centrally located in the U.S., making it a transportation hub for trucks, trains, and boats. Both the Missouri River and the nation’s second-largest railroad pass through KC.
  • It’s packed with thriving educational institutions. Pat says there are almost 47 four-year colleges within 30 to 40 miles of the KC metro area. Many college grads come to the area for school, then stay to work and live.
  • It’s business-friendly. Not only because of its great location and low cost of living, but also because of labor availability.

Are there any weaknesses to KC? Pat says most jobs are fairly low-wage, which makes sense, based on the city’s cost of living and economic base. That’s actually a good thing for single-family rental investors … it means people stay renters.

Kansas City single-family rental profile

Pat is a syndicator in Kansas City. He currently owns and/or manages over 700 single-family homes in the market.

His focus … his niche … is finding distressed properties or properties on auction and bringing them back to life.

His business is a vertically integrated, one-stop-shop for investors. He has an in-house real estate company for finding homes along with construction and property management businesses.

Investors can invest in anywhere from 1 to 100 homes, and Pat’s team handles the entire process … from finding the property, to fixing and renting it.

Properties in Pat’s portfolio usually fit a standard profile … 2-bedroom, 2-bath homes with 3-car garages, sold for $130-150 thousand.

Investors usually put down 20 to 25 percent of the sale price, for which they have a variety of loan options, including Fanny Mae, IRA funds, 1031 exchanges, and private loans.

“Renters are plentiful,” Pat says. And rents are reasonable for both renters and investors seeking cashflow. The sweet spot, Pat says, is between $800 and $1,500 per month.

What about the tenant-landlord law? “Missouri is favorable to landlords,” he says.

Landlords can get in front of a judge within a month and get non-paying tenants out within 30 days of the court date, typically … although usually, it doesn’t come to that.

And occupancy is high. “Our portfolio is 97 percent occupied,” Pat notes. He says he gets a pile of rental applications every day, which means he can be selective about screening and vetting tenants.

The turnkey rental model

Pat’s business functions on a turnkey rental model. In fact, he says, 90 percent of his investors live outside of Kansas City, simply because Pat and his team are so good at handling every component of the buy-rehab-rent-manage process.

Investors don’t have to use all of Pat’s services, but most choose to once they buy one (or more) of the properties within his portfolio.

Most investors come in after Pat has found, rehabbed, and rented the property, but some like to get involved earlier. That’s the “skinny cow” rental model.

In those cases, investors are involved from the beginning. They know exactly how much the property costs and have a say in rehab and construction. They still work with Pat’s vetted crews and companies, but they get to see the process from beginning to end and have a say in tenant placement.

This allows investors to get some education on the process.

Pat’s business model works well because he’s exploiting a niche. He says most hedge funds and bigger investment companies go after more expensive homeowner-sold, ready-to-rent properties instead of choosing the more intensive value-add option.

By working with distressed properties, Pat can force equity. And he’s learned that by choosing premium-grade materials during rehab, he can also charge premium rents to tenants. That means spending maybe $1,000 more than he could to put in quality tiling, fixtures, and appliances that draw more, and better, tenants.

And because Pat owns his own rehab and construction companies, he can use the same materials in bulk and renovate quickly and efficiently.

Tenants usually sign one- to two-year leases. Pat says his contracts have automatic lease renewal clauses along with 3 to 5 percent yearly lease escalators.

Low-entry, high-cashflow investing

What does Pat wish people knew about Kansas City?

“Kansas City is low-entry and high-cashflow, but we also have a duel-exit strategy,” Pat says. Owners can rent for cashflow or sell rehabbed properties for equity.

Pat also says he wished people knew how metropolitan KC is. It’s a big metro area with a revitalized airport, great infrastructure and transportation, including over 1,000 miles of bike lanes, and a growing number of commercial and retail facilities.

Yet despite its growth, KC remains affordable to the tenants that are Pat’s bread and butter. He says he primarily serves service workers, medical professionals, mechanics and truck drivers, warehouse and distribution center workers, and tech professionals. Most tenants work blue-collar jobs, making them reliable long-term renters.

And the growth shows no signs of stopping … millennials and college grads are flocking to KC and settling down there. KC is the perfect combination of affordability and lifestyle.

Kansas City sounds pretty great to us, but if you want even more information, check out Pat Grace’s exclusive webinar, which you can access by listening in to the podcast. He also created a market report just for our readers. Check it out here!


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.


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Getting Good Deals in a Hot Market

 

Generally, the harder a property is to find, the better it will be. But finding hidden properties means playing an insider’s game.

The key to finding properties in a high-demand market is developing your own deal flow from people with unique access to information.

Relying on the same information sources everyone else relies on means you get deals that have been picked over … and these aren’t the tasty kind of leftovers.

When the market is hot and demand is high, you want sellers and contacts who’ll come to YOU first.

In our latest episode, we share tips and techniques for how to get your unfair share in a saturated market, all through building relationships with insiders.

Our expert guest, John Larson, manages multiple turnkey real estate purchases each month in one of the nation’s hottest markets. You’ll hear from:

  • Your ahead-of-the-game host, Robert Helms
  • His gaming-the-system co-host, Russell Gray
  • Managing director and partner at American Real Estate Investments, John Larson

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Relying on relationships

John Larson is a managing director and partner at American Real Estate Investments (AREI), where they buy and sell properties in one of the hottest single-family housing markets in the nation. Dallas!

Because of steep population growth that shows no signs of stopping soon, Dallas is a market in heavy demand. It’s easy to lease properties and keep them leased, which is a big plus for investors.

But high demand also means a high saturation of investors. We asked John what it takes to be successful when lots of people are after the same properties.

He told us that success is all about two things: your relationships and your consistency.

First, relationships. John’s assembled a team of pros whom he trusts to do most of the heavy lifting before they even make a bid on a property.

Dallas has a housing auction once a month. Before the auction, John’s team gets a list of the properties up for sale and researches each one to identify properties that work for them.

When John and his team show up at the auction, a good chunk of the properties listed don’t show up.

John is very careful about sticking to a pre-identified target price and not overpaying for properties, so his team often ends up with only a small handful from the original list of forty or so.

Acquiring even one good property at a decent price takes hours of work and investigation, so having a team that knows what they’re doing is a HUGE asset for John.

John’s emphasis on relationships doesn’t stop with his team. If you go to any real estate networking event in the Dallas area, it’s pretty much a given that you’ll find John or someone from his team there.

John says this persistent networking has netted him connections with agents who have their hands on all kinds of properties.

We asked John why anyone would want to sell to an investor instead of an owner occupant who is willing to pay a higher price up front.

His answer? Eight out of ten investors he works with at AREI come back and buy another property. In the end, John’s entire business model comes down to relationships.

Cutting costs with consistency

Consistency is also key to John’s success. John and his team always use the same buying strategy: they buy with cash and close quickly.

They’ve identified a niche in the housing market and don’t generally stray from it … single-family properties in middle-class neighborhoods that lease for about $1,600 a month.

This is a sweet spot that John’s found works best in terms of finding trustworthy tenants who will pay on time, treat the property well, and stay long-term.

Last year, John also brought his property management team in-house. By doing so, he reaped multiple benefits.

Just to name a few, he now enjoys economies of scale, targets maintenance and management to a certain demographic, and buys materials in bulk.

John’s also been working with the same repair and maintenance crew for over five years. He takes care of them, and they know he’ll give them a constant stream of new work.

Basic tweaks and techniques like these allow John to make his properties more attractive—and thus more profitable—every year.

Finding hidden inventory

Many new investors start their investigation efforts by making a beeline to an MLS (multiple listing service). Although checking out what’s on the MLS isn’t necessarily a bad place to start, John warns that most inventory on the MLS will be picked through.

“All of our good opportunities are off market,” John says.

What needs to happen for John and his team to find that hidden inventory?

Well, first, investors need to know what they’re looking for, be financially prepared, and able to make decisions quickly once they find an opportunity.

Most importantly, they need to form the right relationships.

John has built a team of experts that is constantly in tune with the market—which isn’t too hard when AREI’s volume of purchases reaches into the hundreds.

For new and less experienced investors, John recommends they do their research … a lot of it. Before investors come to AREI, John asks that they research the market and make sure they understand exactly what they’re investing in.

And he recommends investors make sure they’re financially prepared. The best investors are the ones who know exactly what they want and what they can afford.

It’s these trusted and trustworthy investors like these who benefit from the properties people like John can acquire.

If you’re interested in more tips on succeeding in a crowded market, John has written a booklet called Hot Tips for Hot Markets.

And, a heads up: John is holding an investor workshop and tour in April. Participants will get to meet John and AREI’s investment coordinators, acquisitions team, and even some of the lenders AREI works with. They’ll also get to see how AREI professionally manages and renovates properties and get a good feel for how the Dallas market works.

 

Gaining access to the insiders’ club

Lots of beginning investors might read a book, attend a seminar, Google some information, maybe even visit a potential market.

John and investors like him are ahead of the game—they’re going to exclusive auctions and getting listings from short-selling agents. In short, they have access to inventory that no one else has even seen.

Can you work your way up? Yes. But it does take time to become part of the insiders’ club.

If you’re willing to put in the work, start by being prepared. Really do your research and get educated about your market. Then assemble your team. Use the example of John and other successful investors to guide you.

If you’re not willing to put in the time, but you do want to invest, start by finding someone like John who has access to hard-to-find inventory.

Building a relationship with someone who knows what they’re doing can be beneficial on both ends of the equation. An investment organization will get a dedicated buyer … and buyers will get better deals on properties not available to the public.

The key, on either side of the equation? Be prepared. Get educated. Form stellar relationships. And then take action.

Next week on the show, we’ll talk about financing multi-family properties. AND, we’ll introduce a pretty amazing new program.

Until then, go out and make some equity happen!


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.