Put all your eggs in one basket … then diversify

The blessing and curse of real estate is that trends develop slowly. 

This makes them easy to catch, but also easy to miss … unless you make it a priority to pay consistent attention.

We scour the news daily.  We’re always looking for opportunities, lessons, and trends.  But they’re not always obvious.  In fact, they usually aren’t.

So it’s not answers we’re looking for.  It’s better questions.  The clues in the news simply capture our attention so we can dig deeper.

And because real estate trends move slowly, there’s often plenty of time to investigate … and then move into position to take effective action.

This recent headline reminds us of the process, and some great lessons for real estate investors …

Salt Lake City Tops U.S. In Diversity of Jobs; Las Vegas is Last 
– Bloomberg 2/15/19

Now Salt Lake City isn’t necessarily a market normally associated with diversity, but according to this report, it’s tops for diverse job opportunities.

Of course, jobs are uber important to real estate investors.  After all, jobs are the best way for tenants to get the money to pay rent.

Plus, any market with abundant jobs is going to attract more people … adding to the demand for rental properties.

Perhaps even more importantly … a diverse selection of job types is probably a good indication an area has multiple economic drivers.

Economic diversity is a very important component of stability and resilience.

This should be obvious, but it’s amazing how many investors rush into markets chasing a trend driven by only one big story.

Of course, if that one big story changes for whatever reason, then so does the trend in the market.

Consider how things worked out for real estate investors who rushed in for the oil boom in North Dakota’s Bakken or the Amazon HQ2 boom in New York.

Time will tell, but we’re guessing while some Opportunity Zones will be fantastic successes … some will end up being big busts too.

One story usually isn’t enough.  And there’s no need to move too fast when it comes to catching an uptrend in a real estate market.

Sure, when you take a measured approach, you might miss out on quick gains gleaned from front-running the fast-to-act speculators.

But if you view real estate as a long-term investment, then you’re looking for long-term trends.  Best to let the trend strengthen before getting in too deep.

Besides, there’s plenty to do while you’re watching the trend develop.

Consider our approach to Salt Lake City … since this is the focal point of the headline we’re talking about today.

Salt Lake City popped up on our radar a few years back and we started watching.  The more we saw, the better it looked.

In 2017, Salt Lake City appeared in a report of metros with a low percentage of rent burdened population.

In a related commentary about why we think this metric matters, we pointed out …

“… markets with increasing affordability, and stable rents and occupancies, should probably end up on a short list of markets to pay a visit to.”

We suggested to …

“Look for metros which are affordable locally based on a low percentage of rent burdened population, with increasing affordability … and also affordable nationally when compared to the average rents of other metros.”

Markets that looked interesting based on this metric were Kansas City … along with Oklahoma City, Cincinnati, Louisville, and Salt Lake City.

Since then, and perhaps to no surprise, we’ve built relationships with boots-on-the-ground teams in both Kansas City and Salt Lake City.

Sometimes it takes time to identify and study a market, then get to know the right people … rather than just jumping into a “good” deal in a “hot” market.

Sure, when the market ends up being great, you’ll always wish you moved faster …

… so it’s wise to get good at seeing opportunity, doing your homework, and building relationships sooner.

But again … the blessing of real estate is it moves slowly.  So you don’t have to be a racehorse to win the real estate investing derby.

Nonetheless, you do need to move.  You can’t win or finish a race if you’re still standing at the starting gate.

So when you see a positive market metric, be quick to start the process of exploration … but cautious about leaping into a deal before you look.

And as you explore a market’s potential, whether you’re just starting out or already have a sizable portfolio, consider how to use diversification as a tool for building resilient wealth.

There are several ways to diversify …

Choose economically diverse economies to reduce your exposure to any one industry or sector of the economy.

Invest in multiple units when you can.  More doors provide multiple streams of income and less dependency on any one tenant.

Invest in multiple markets.  Even diverse individual economies can suffer setbacks, so being in more than one market can help mitigate the risk.

Syndicate or invest in syndications to become even more diverse faster.

Syndication pools your money with others’ … and provides scale you might not have on your own … so you can own more units, in more places, with professional management.

The bottom line is real estate is a great “basket” to put all your eggs in … while also providing the ability to create resilient wealth through strategic diversification. 

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.


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Tracking trends and making smart moves …

The winds of change are swirling like a tornado … even if they’re outside your personal horizon at the moment.

That’s why we stay up on the lookout perch … watching for clues in the news and shouting out what we see … so you have time to make smart moves.

A couple of things popped up that we think are noteworthy for real estate investors …

Private Equity is Moving in on Single-Family Rentals – NREI Online 2/4/19

“In the past, individual investors owned more than 80 percent of single-family rentals. Since then, the number has fallen significantly.”

“…individual landlords have been increasingly marginalized by big institutional investors.”

“When banks started to foreclose on mortgages, institutional investors swooped in, leaving individual landlords with new, outsized competition.

If you’re an active Main Street individual investor, you know inventory is hard to find in major markets … and it’s even harder to make the numbers work.

Of course, the article’s author runs a crowdfunding platform, so his implied solution is to join the crowd and invest in a bigger deal.

While we agree with the premise of going bigger, crowdfunding is only a solution for small-time passive investors because of government imposed limits.

So if you’re passive and want to go bigger, you need a better answer.  More on that in a moment.

But if you’re an active investor, then what?

Starting your own crowdfunding platform is a heavy lift.  You need tech, special licensing, and a crowd.  None are cheap or easy.

So how can an active Main Street investor compete, when the big boys are marginalizing the little guy?

You’ll need to find a way to go big and invest outside the box.

For us, that comes in two forms …

First, perhaps the best way for an active Main Street real estate investor to go big is to syndicate private capital.

It’s like crowdfunding … without the crowd or tech.  It’s still work, but doable for a Main Street individual.  In fact, we know MANY are doing it.

And for passive investors who need in on bigger deals without arbitrary limits, and want to be more than just a face in a crowd or number on a spreadsheet …

…. investing in syndicated private placements opens a world of opportunity.

So the synergy between active and passive Main Street investors should be obvious.  That’s why it works.

When it comes to investing outside the box …

… it’s REALLY important to pay attention to developing trends … and then paddle quickly and get in position to catch a wave.

For example, there’s a huge demographic wave known as the baby boomers.

You’ve probably heard of it. 😉

Boomers are getting old.  So real estate niches that cater to seniors is a hot sector … in both residential and commercial.

If you’re a passive investor, you can invest in a senior housing REIT, a crowdfunded big box project, or a privately syndicated residential facility.

They each have pros and cons.

But right now, margins on residential facilities are pretty fat.  That’s because the big boys are playing at the big box level … for now.

When we speak at Gene Guarino’s Residential Assisted Living Academy training, we point out … big money won’t ignore fat profits forever.

Big money’s already moving aggressively into single-family homes … bidding prices up and squeezing out late-to-the party individual investors.

Those who saw the big boys coming and paddled into place early are riding a nice equity wave.

This could easily happen with residential assisted living.  So it’s a bit of a land grab right now.  The good news is there’s .

That’s just one way to invest outside the box.

Another is to pay attention to economic trends and migration patterns.

Think about it …

As big players gobble up inventory in major markets, smaller investors … and eventually big money … will migrate outside the box into secondary markets.

For example, though Dallas is still a solid single-family market … deals are few and far between.

It wasn’t always that way.  When we started going to Dallas 10 years ago, it was the front end of a real estate boom that’s been GREAT for early adopters.

Today, markets like Kansas CitySalt Lake City and Cleveland are on our radar … each for a different reason, but they’re variations on a theme.

These markets have affordable price points with strong cash flows for investors.

They’re also attractive to Millennials (another important demographic to watch) who’ve been priced out of primary markets.

But it’s not just the young and cash-strapped who move for financial reasons.

There’s another important economic trend we’re watching closely, and it’s alluded to in this Washington Examiner article …

Cuomo’s woe: More taxation means more out-migration

Caution:  This is an opinion piece and you may not agree.

But the point is high-earners are leaving New York to escape high taxes they can no longer deduct from their federal tax bill.

This Bloomberg article elaborates …

Cuomo Blames Trump Tax Plan for Reduced New York Tax Collections

“Governor says wealthy New Yorkers are giving up residences …”

“…leaving for second homes in Florida and other states …” 

Once again, these trends are easy to see coming, watch develop, and then act on … BEFORE they pick up a lot of steam.

We’ve been excited about Florida for some time … and this whole tax thing just makes it better … especially for nicer properties.

So here’s the point …

We got a HUGE wake-up call in 2008 … and it wasn’t any fun.  But those lessons help us see trends and opportunities early instead of late.

The key is to pay close attention to clues in the news …

 … then get around REALLY smart people who can help you understand what you’re seeing … so you can act decisively.

Because if all you are is aware, but you don’t act … you might as well watch game shows.

But when you see a trend and have the right relationships, you can identity opportunities and take effective action quickly.

Everyone’s smart in hindsight.  But can you see the future?

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.


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Real Life Lessons – Raising Capital to Fund Bigger Deals

Periodically, we like to bring you stories of real-life investors … investors who’ve been in your shoes and made it up rocky paths to emerge better than they started!

The investors on our show today all fell into real estate investing in different ways, but one thing brings them together … they all attended our Secrets of Successful Syndication event … and then turned their education into effective action by becoming successful syndicators!

We asked each guest to tell us more about how they got started, what happened when they ran out of money, and some of the setbacks and successes they’ve each experienced.

Behind the mics for this edition of Real Life Lessons:

  • Your psyched-about-syndication host, Robert Helms
  • His seriously silly co-host, Russell Gray
  • Engineer turned syndicator, Sep Bekam
  • The deal hunter, Peter Halm
  • Self-storage empress, Linda Murray

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Why syndicate?

At some point, every real estate investor reaches a crucial moment where they have, for all intents and purposes, run out of money.

At that point, investors have two paths … they can take the path of least resistance and simply give up … OR they can harness their expertise and provide investment opportunities to other investors through syndication.

Syndication is a more effective version of “no money down.”

The truth is, there’s a ton of money floating around out there if only you have the right value proposition.

Syndication offers you the opportunity to build a big business with cash flow, long-term gains, and profit sharing … and all you have to do is find and broker decent investments.

You have the chance to create your own perfect life. Ask yourself … What do I want to get good at? What do I like to do?

Then focus on building specialized skills. You can’t be an expert in everything.

Syndication is like assembling a puzzle … you might only be a small piece of the whole (albeit a crucial one).

All of our guests today have taken the leap of faith into the world of syndication … let’s take a look at their stories!

From fear to freedom

If you met Sep B. years ago, before he started investing, it might be hard to make the connection between the shy, analytical engineer of yesteryear to the full-time syndicator of today.

When Sep started out, he had invested his personal money in two fourplexes in his own state. He had no business background and lots of fear about the unknowns of investing out of state.

“I was very motivated but didn’t know where to start,” says Sep. But Sep knew he had no money of his own left … and his family and friends were starving for yields.

So what did he do? It’s simple. Sep constantly looked for deals.

Six months after his first Secrets of Successful Syndication seminar, Sep closed on his first syndication deal.

Some of Sep’s major takeaways from his syndication experience:

  • Match potential investors with their needs and wants. Sep found investors were more likely to come to him when he emphasized his team, put strong systems in place to protect capital, and crucially, matched investors and investments appropriately.
  • Always be okay asking questions and learning from others. “It takes a certain level of curiosity to ask questions even if everything isn’t going right,” said Sep.
  • Find ways to mitigate obstacles. Sep and his team ask everyone they work with a series of questions to preemptively make sure companies and investors are the right fit for Sep’s syndication business.
  • Make small, controlled mistakes and learn from them. New syndicators will experience challenges along with success … and Sep’s certainly had his share of missteps. These days, he’s constantly fine-tuning, making sure he is adapting to changes, working with the right team, and offering the right product to tenants and a reliable source of passive income to investors.
  • Transition gradually from part time to full time. Before transitioning, understand how much passive income you need, Sep advises. Then break your goals into actionable, realistic steps.

From house flipper to deal hunter

Peter H. started out flipping out houses in Los Angeles. It was slow, hard work … paychecks only materialized when houses were sold, and prices in LA started skyrocketing, making deals hard and hard to find.

In January 2016, Peter attended Secrets of Successful Syndication. A year and a half later, he’s on his fourth syndication deal.

Some lessons he’s learned along the way:

  • Don’t tie yourself to one particular asset class. Peter’s deals have ranged from a mobile home park to multi-family apartments and currently to workforce housing. “If we discover a natural demand, we’ll jump in,” says Peter.
  • Align yourself with people who have great experience and access to funds. When Peter started doing deals that were big enough to be uncomfortable, he made sure he put himself out there and recruited people who knew what they were doing. “Everything was an interview process,” Peter said. “We asked a ton of questions.”
  • To build a network of prospective investors, listen to investor needs. By listening to people and discovering their wants, needs, and worries, Peter can file away what he’s learned until he finds a deal that fits a potential investor’s philosophy. It’s a win-win situation.
  • Syndication is not for everybody. “If syndication were really easy, everyone would do it,” noted Peter. If you are determined, want to work with people, and are willing to listen, syndication might be the path for you.

What is Peter’s philosophy? Treat everyone as a partner. “We’re all in this together, and we’re working toward a common goal of everyone wins,” said Peter.

From housewife to self-storage pro

Linda H. got her start in investing the hard way … when she realized she and her husband didn’t have enough IRA savings to sustain themselves during retirement.

She attempted to solve the problem by starting and then selling a business, but unfortunately, the business crashed before the deal could go through.

At that point, she switched to real estate, where she figured she could have more control.

She bought a fourplex, then a farm, then an apartment building. Then she ran out of money.

Listening to podcasts while she drove to each job site, Linda realized she didn’t necessarily have to go through the banking system … she could syndicate.

The transition from investor to syndicator was an uphill battle, Linda says. “It took a while to figure things out.”

Starting out as an inexperienced housewife, Linda had to wing it … but with some hard work, eventually her efforts paid off.

Today she just closed on two properties, has 850 self-storage units, and is currently working on building units at another site.

Her insights:

  • Find the right partners. Linda started out as a lone wolf, but after attending a seminar on self-storage, she met some people who gelled with her personality and they pooled their money.
  • Complementary skillsets can enhance your business. Linda had trouble raising money herself, but was skilled at the business side of syndication. Her partners were better at raising funds. Each person was able to focus on their own strengths.
  • People want what you have to offer. Linda noted that a lot of average people think the only option for investing is the stock market, which doesn’t offer a high degree of control. People are looking for options but don’t have the time to manage an investment … and as a syndicator, you can provide an answer, she says.

Making a REAL difference with real estate. One of our guiding philosophies is that “everything we do matters if it makes a difference in the life of real folks.” We think it should be one of yours, too.

As an investor or a syndicator, one of your goals should be to make sure people are better off with you than without you.

Another maxim to stick by? We like the words of Dave Zook, who says, “You can be conventional or you can be wealthy. Pick one.”

If you’re a real estate investor … heck, if you’re listening to this show … you’re not normal. And that’s a good thing!

The world needs you. You have an opportunity to add value to other people’s lives, to fill holes left by bad stewards and uninspiring investment options.

Are you ready to take the leap from investor to syndicator? We highly recommend getting around smart, successful people.

One of the best ways to do that is to come to our Secrets of Successful Syndication seminar.

As Tony Robbins says, “Success leaves clues.” So get around people who are super successful … and pick up some clues about how to find more success yourself!

Be the captain of your own ship. And remember, this business isn’t just about making money … it’s about making a difference.


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.

Ask The Guys – Super Session Part Two

In this show, we’re pulling another fistful of questions from our bursting email grab bag. This is a two-part session of Ask The Guys … if you missed the previous round, you can check it out here!

In this episode, we’ll take on great topics, including how to

  • get started
  • find mentors
  • structure syndication deals
  • survive a crash
  • get into deal flow
  • and build credibility

Before you dive in, please take note of our standard disclaimer … we are not tax professionals or attorneys. This show does not contain advice, only ideas and information.

Ready to get started? In this edition of The Real Estate Guys™ show you’ll hear from:

  • Your informational host, Robert Helms
  • His info-maniac co-host, Russell Gray

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Question: Where does the beginner begin?

Steve, from Laguna Niguel, California is a fledgling investor. And like many newbies who’ve just dipped their toes into the vast ocean of real estate investing, he’s not sure where to start.

Steve asked us, “How do I turn what little knowledge I have into action? There’s so much information available, I’m afraid I might become an analytical quadriplegic trying to find reliable and trustworthy information.”

Before we offer any ideas, we want to offer Steve a big congratulations on taking the first step of getting himself educated on what is arguably the single greatest investment vehicle. (We’re talking about real estate, obviously!)

A new investor’s basic education should be two-fold:

  1. Educating yourself on what kind of opportunities are available and what kind of investor you want to be (that means developing your personal investment philosophy).
  2. Forming relationships with other investors who are doing the kind of things you can see yourself doing.

To begin, we recommend listening to past episodes of our podcast and listening to other investment podcasts, as well as reading books. This step is largely free and will help you understand the rules of the road and the language of the business.

THEN, before you get overwhelmed by the nuances of all that education, leverage what you’ve learned by attending real events with successful people who will help you understand how real estate investing works in the real world.

When considering which events to go to, keep in mind this wisdom … “People who aren’t invested won’t make the investment.”

If you’re only attending free events, you probably won’t be meeting the most successful people or getting the most helpful advice. You have to be willing to pay to put yourself in inspiring social environments.

Once you get some basic education, you need to take action. Education without action is essentially useless.

Start by assembling a team of professionals. At the bare minimum, you’ll need a mortgage consultant and a tax advisor.

And don’t just pick the cheapest option. Be strategic in your choices by looking for people who can help you expand your social networks.

Every relationship is a gateway to a whole host of other relationships.

As you go through the process of getting started, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Learn how to ask great questions, and you’ll find that deals will come to you!

Question: Should I join an investment mentoring program?

Another California resident, Diane, told us that she attended a FortuneBuilders seminar and was psyched about it. Now she’s wondering whether she should join their mentoring program.

We’ll start by saying that we don’t endorse any specific program. Almost every real estate coaching program out there can teach you valid, useful skills and introduce you to great people.

But what success in these programs really comes down to is you.

That’s right, you have to make the program work for you for it to be successful. That might mean kissing a lot of frogs.

We also want to clarify the difference between theoretical information and real world information.

In the world we live in, most employed and self-employed people are taught we need to know how to DO something to find success … and the better you are at that specific thing, the more dollars you can trade your time for.

This can lead to new investors consuming a lot of specific information that they might not really need. We want you to get out of that mindset.

Look for courses and programs that help you learn to build a team, create a basic investment philosophy, and practice your conversational skills … all skills you’ll actually need when you start investing.

Also make sure whatever program you choose teaches independent investing, not dependent investing. You need to build your own ability to be a successful investor … not others’.

Make sure any education you invest in leads to you DOING something with your newfound skills and info.

Question: I’m a syndicator. How much equity do I give back to investors?

Kevin, our third Californian listener of the day, asked us what to do in a specific syndication scenario. He’s splitting his deal 50/50 between the investors and himself, and wants to know whether he should also return a piece of the equity to investors when he refinances the deal and returns profits.

The reality, Kevin, is that the percentages completely depend on the deal.

If you and investors are both putting money in, obviously you’ll split the return in some way.

Ultimately, the way you structure a deal should satisfy the needs and the desires of everyone who is at the table (including you!).

There are a lot of variables that will affect the specific structure you choose … what you’re trying to deliver in terms of taxation, whether clients want their original equity back, what you and investors are looking for in terms of future opportunities, and more.

You have to think through all the possible permutations of the deal.

We’d caution you not to get caught up in a specific number. Instead, ask the important questions of who is doing the work, what will happen with your investment, and when will those changes take place?

Then structure your deal accordingly. Every deal will be different.

P.S. Check out our last edition of Ask The Guys to hear us answer a very similar question.

Question: Can you guys refer me to contacts?

Steven, from South Lake, Texas wanted to know whether we could refer him to contacts that are currently putting together syndicated multi-family apartment deals.

We don’t like to fashion ourselves as matchmakers. That’s not our job.

So our first recommendation would be that Steven and people like him come to our events and get around people who are familiar with the syndication world.

Making contacts at real world is your best bet for finding syndication deals.

However, we do want to make all our listeners aware of our investor registry. Because we’ve been in the real estate world for a long time, we have a lot of great contacts. This registry allows those contacts to connect with investors interested in specific deals.

Signing up is simple and easy … and your first year is on us! Sign up here.

Question: Do you sell recordings from the Investor Summit at Sea™?

The short answer is no.

The long answer is that you have to join us at the Summit to access the valuable information we provide there. The Summit creates a certain camaraderie that simply can’t be transmitted electronically.

However, we did record some livestream sessions this last Summit in partnership with Rich Dad Poor Dad Coaching … if you really want to get your hands on live material from the Summit, this would be your only avenue.

We do not personally use recordings from the Summit in any commercial capacity.

Question: How do I prepare myself for potential unrest in the United States?

Phillip lives in Southern California. He asked us specifically what the best place to live would be if America were to enter into a second, violent Civil War.

While we can’t state with any certainty that the U.S. has another Civil War in its future, we will say that many of our faculty members believe it’s very possible we’re heading for some big-time trouble in the future of our nation.

The reality is that economic cycles of boom and bust are baked into our economic system. And economic distress can mean unrest in certain places.

The threat of the unknown will always be present.

However, while a sudden recession can mean devastation for one person … it can spell opportunity for another.

How does the same environment produce such drastically opposite results? The difference is preparation.

We recommend you read Prosper!, a book on how to curb your vulnerability to frightening trends in our economy by our smart and prudent friends Chris Martenson and Adam Taggart.

And if you’re looking to situate yourself in a place that will be resistant to the effects of an economic downturn, we think it would be smart to look for areas where people aren’t highly reliant on government and supply chain infrastructure.

It’s wise to be concerned … but that doesn’t mean the answer is to hide in a bunker. Be prepared to bridge the gap between our current reality and new and unexpected possibilities. And don’t forget the wise and true words of Chris Martenson… “Humans rise.”

Question: I have a burning passion for real estate … and no money. How do I gain credibility with sophisticated investors so I can partner up or syndicate?

We love this question from Sam, a new investor and social work student in Brooklyn, New York.

Sam is passionate enough about investing that he’s read literally dozens of books on the subject. He knows that relationships are key to making good deals … and he also knows that he’s starting out without any connections.

We’d tell Sam that when you change anything in your life, you’re being recognized for your past, but what you can do in the future is uncertain.

So you have to create your future by acting like the person you want to become.

Russ had to go through this process when he started out in real estate investing. Like Sam, his background was in a different field. He took a few steps:

  1. He realized that his current connections weren’t the best prospects for getting better in his new field.
  2. He started to act like the person he wanted to be, projecting himself as a successful real estate investor.
  3. He changed who he was associating with by putting himself in new environments where he could make new relationships.

The key is to “Be who you’re becoming.”

When you’re establishing yourself as the person you want to be, lean on the credibility of those who’ve already found success.

Passion and enthusiasm are key. A great deal (and we mean great) will also help tremendously.

Our last words of wisdom? Don’t be the smartest, poorest investor. Take action.

Now, 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.

Ask The Guys – Super Session Part One

Ask The Guys is our radio segment where YOU ask us your burning questions … and we give our best shot at answering them.

Lately, we’ve received so many excellent questions we decided to do not one, but TWO episodes of Ask The Guys! In this first installment, we discuss finding deals that make sense, breeding equity, how to keep going when you’re out of money … and much more!

Before you get into the good stuff, we have to give you our standard disclaimer. We’re not tax advisors, and we’re definitely not attorneys, so we never provide any advice … just IDEAS.

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

  • Your problem-solving host, Robert Helms
  • His problematic co-host, Russell Gray

Listen



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Question: I’m looking into local real estate, and the numbers don’t make sense. What do I do?

This question comes from Walter, a Canadian listener.

Can you guess our first response? You got it … “Live where you want to live, and invest where the numbers make sense.”

Investing locally means you can have a heavy hand in daily business and management operations. Investing in other markets means someone else will do the work for you.

That can be a really good thing … IF you have the right team.

As you know, the market overall is quite tight right now. If you’re looking for deals in a tight market, you might spend all your time searching out deals that fit your criteria. That’s why it’s a good idea to look for markets that fit your criteria, then build relationships with a trustworthy team.

Of course, start out by building a solid personal investment philosophy.

Next, find your market and get set up with a good team. THEN you can work on finding a property to invest in.

Starting by finding a property first can be a disaster. We know because we’ve seen it.

Think this information sounds great, but wondering where to start? There are a few steps you can take:

  1. Start networking with folks in your area who are investing elsewhere. Get to know them and get familiar with what they’re doing.
  2. Research different markets, identify a handful that fit your criteria, and then check them out … in person!
  3. Get your resource network set up by seeking out credible management folks who know what they’re doing.

Whatever you do, ALWAYS evaluate whether a market makes sense before you even start looking for deals. Always.

Question: Can I reposition my equity to buy more properties?

Ari from West Hollywood, California, asked us whether it was prudent to use the equity from current properties for the down payment on a new property.

The short answer is yes.

The long answer is that equity repositioning can be a good idea, with some caveats.

You CAN take equity out of a property through cash-out refinances (or 1031 exchanges, if you want to relinquish the property).

And with today’s low-interest rates, this process allows you to harvest your equity.

A word of caution … it is possible to run into trouble. It’s NOT the act of moving equity that can work against you, but the act of taking on additional debt and income.

Any time you move your money, you have to weigh your ability to manage your income against your debt. It doesn’t make sense to take money out and invest in a property with low or negative cash flow.

When done right, equity optimization allows you to move easily from mature markets to emerging ones and diversify your holdings.

Always remember these words of wisdom … “Do the math, and the math will tell you what to do.”

Question: We’re purchasing our first property. Should we create an LLC to protect our personal assets?

Jonathan in New York City, is buying his first rental unit in the U.S. state of Maine (congratulations on taking action, Jonathan!).

He’s wondering whether it’s prudent to form an LLC in order to purchase the property … but worried that buying as an LLC will force him into a commercial loan with 10-year terms.

How to protect your personal assets is a common newbie question … and it’s a good one!

The primary question Jonathan has to ask himself is whether the added expense will be worth the protection. That answer will vary.

If Jonathan has a ton of assets, it might be worth it to form an LLC. Keep in mind there are other places he can move his money to … primary residences and retirement accounts come to mind.

The bigger question, though, is whether Jonathan will need the protection in the first place. Investors like Jonathan can put up a three-pronged line of defense:

  1. Consistent, good business practices.
  2. Clear documentation and legal paperwork with built-in arbitration clauses.
  3. Insurance, which will cover most problems that might arise.

The reality is that most people who use entities are usually working on bigger projects. And not all lenders will be willing to lend to an LLC with no operating history.

If you’re in Jonathan’s situation, you have to weigh the pros and cons. We recommend doing your homework … and checking with a local tax attorney.

Question: When is the next Investor Summit at Sea™, and when do tickets come out?

Adrian from Salt Lake City, Utah asked this timely question. Thanks for asking, Adrian!

The next Summit will be early to mid-April, 2018. Exact dates will be announced shortly!

We roll out registration in three phases … alumni first, then our syndication mentoring club, and then our advanced notice list.

Your best chance at getting a ticket? Get on the list! Sign up now if you’re serious about attending next year.

Question: Will it be more profitable to invest on our own or with a syndicate? (And should we invest for equity growth or cash flow?)

This question comes from Sheryl, in Pacifica, California. Sheryl told us she and her husband are newly debt free. Her question is best in her own words:

“Our goal is to save $100,000 this year and buy a rental property on the big island of Hawaii, where we eventually plan to live, to start establishing some cash flow. We also plan to take a year off and live off my spouse’s retirement while visiting Southeast Asia, South America, and Africa. We are frugal and have simple needs. Would it be better to invest $100,000 with a syndicate for better monthly cash flow return?”

Sheryl, you could invest in a property that provides cash flow and will be well-suited for your eventual retirement home.

But we’d caution you that one property may not be able to solve multiple needs.

One solution would be to buy a cash flow property, then use the equity you’ve saved to buy a perfect retirement home when the time is right.

Another solution might be to look for a property that will provide long-term price appreciation instead of a high cash flow. It’s a different investment vehicle that could carry you to the same destination.

And of course, syndication is always an option, and it might be a good one if you’re traveling and need a hands-off investment.

If you decide to come alongside a syndicator, you do have to be careful. Vet the deal and the sponsor just like you’d vet a deal of your own.

Make sure you line up your investment objectives and the timing with the investment and manager you choose. And above all, be certain you understand the underlying risks.

Question: I’m out of money. How do I extend my property portfolio?

This listener hails from London, England. (A side note: we LOVE hearing from listeners around the world!)

A former nurse, Bobby purchased a couple of properties in the outskirts of London. He loves real estate and wants to expand, but he’s out of money.

Maybe this sounds familiar to you … you got enamored with real estate, got educated, pulled the trigger and took action, then quickly realized your money was gone. This happens to a lot of folks.

If you’re like Bobby, the first thing you should do is ask yourself, “Knowing what I now know, would I still invest in these properties?”

If the answer is no, it might be time to switch things up.

We’ve found the best way to expand when you have limited resources is to force equity from properties by adding value, then use that equity in other properties.

The other way to go would be to syndicate. Leverage your knowledge, and use your skills to acquire and manage assets on behalf of clients who do have money … taking small slices from the pie along the way.

Because Bobby came from a demanding career path and wants to make his way in what can be a very demanding real estate world, we’d also caution him to be very careful about what he chooses to do and how he structures his business.

It’s no good to pursue real estate for less stress and then fall into the same pattern of stressful days and no fun.

Question: I’m a syndicator. What’s a good percentage to offer investors?

Our last question for this episode comes from Joel in Boston, Massachusetts. Joel puts deals together for investors, but he’s new to the game and isn’t sure whether he’s offering a percentage that’s too high.

He wants to find the sweet spot, and that’s a laudable goal … one every syndicator should have.

Our answer? There is no magic formula.

We’ve done deals about every way possible, and in our experience, the right structure is one that attracts the right capital and the right investors for YOU.

Finding the right number can be a dance and an art form. But there is a place you can start.

Begin by having conversations with investors and gauging their responses. Ask, “What number would make sense for you?”

And realize number may vary with each deal you make.

If you’re just getting started with syndication, err on the side of giving more to the investor.

The purpose of your first few investments ISN’T to build a fortune. You’re trying to start a business, so you need to emphasize your dependability, focus on predictable results, and build your track record.

Ultimately, the magic number is one you’re willing to get up every day and work for!


 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.

WSJ says House Flipping Make a Comeback

We noticed an interesting headline it today’s Wall Street Journal.  “House Flipping Makes a Comeback”.  That brought back fond memories of easy equity during the days of “irrational exuberance” in real estate.  Of course, there’s a dark side to irrational exuberance which we’re sure you don’t need to be reminded of.

So why did this article catch our interest?

The star of the article is a real estate “investor” in Phoenix…really? Phoenix?  We thought Phoenix was a train wreck.  Or, is their opportunity in chaos?

Anyway, this guy in Phoenix went to an auction and bought a house that was formerly worth $1.3 million.  He paid just under $489,000.  He then sold it to a woman for $699,000.  That’s about $210,000 in quick profit.  In The Real Estate Guys’ world, we call this “found” equity.  It’s “found” because he didn’t do anything to the property to make it worth more.  It was worth more than what he paid for it at the time he bought it.  The bank left money on the table.  He found it.

Sounds easy, right?  How many of those would you like to to do in a year?

The article goes on to talk about different markets and statistics.  It provides some insight into bank motives. Blah, blah, blah.  This isn’t to be critical of the Wall Street Journal.  But they write for a different reason than we do.  We’re thankful they brought the topic up.  Now we have something to build on.

What we’re interested in is HOW to do it.  Though we’re not experts in purchasing foreclosures, we have certainly done our share of “found equity” deals.  Based on our experience, here are some tips if you decide to play this game (which can be very fun and profitable!):

ALWAYS know your exit before you get into the deal. And ideally, you want more than one.  The article doesn’t say if the Phoenix guy had his buyer identified BEFORE he bought the property, but that’s the way we would have played it.  With a buyer in hand, you show up at the auction (or go into the open market) and look for a property that your buyer wants.  If you know what they’re willing to pay and you can buy it for less, then you have margin and a quick and known exit.

Make sure your buyer is real. That is, he’s ready, willing and able (as in financially capable of buying).  If you’re a real estate agent, this is basic.  If you’re a newbie flipper, it’s gold.  You don’t want to be stuck holding the property.

Make sure your margin is more than 6%. Even though 6% on a $300,000 deal is $18,000 and it sounds like doing that 10 times a year might be a decent living, it’s the same as if you were a real estate agent.  The difference is a real estate agent isn’t putting his own capital at risk.  If you’re going to take more risk, you need to receive more reward.

Don’t put all your money into one deal. It will be SO tempting when the “no miss” deal comes along.  But remember, this is real estate. Something ALWAYS goes wrong.  It doesn’t necessarily mean you lose money, but it might be tied up for awhile, so you lose opportunity.  Side note:  If you don’t happen to have $500K sitting around like our friend from Phoenix apparently did, go find 10 friends who have $50K and do a small syndication.  Now no one has all their money in one deal.  And if this whole process takes 90 days, $200K on $500K is a 40% return in 3 months.  That’s 160% annualized.  We’re betting there are some investors out there who would want to get in on that.  If you decide to go this route, make sure you visit with your attorney first.  Syndicating isn’t something for the newbie do-it-yourselfer.

Did we mention to have a plan B? And C and D?  If your buyer falls through, have 2 or 3 more lined up.  If possible, be prepared to “Flip and Hold”.  This is what we call buying a property for cash, then refinancing it to get most of the money (or if you bought it low enough and wait a bit, you can sometimes get ALL your money back out).  Then rent the property for enough to float the mortgage and expenses.  Obviously, this is more complex and there’s some math to do to make sure it all makes sense.  And we know that getting loans on certain types of properties (and cash out loans in general) is harder to do today than in the past.  We recommend knowing your financing options BEFORE you buy, even if you don’t plan to hold.  You never know how it’s going to work out.  The more options you have the safer you are.

We obviously could go on and on (we’re experts at that).  This topic is too deep for a simple blog post.  But it should get your brain whirring (which is always a good thing).  Our recurring theme is that there is a lot of money to be made in real estate right now simply because most people still aren’t ready to play.  This guy in Phoenix made 200 grand because other people weren’t there bidding.  And what a great service he provided for his buyer!

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