Justin Melendez is an active duty Army warrant officer, real estate investor, and founder of Proper Pivot, LLC . He has experience with buy-and-hold investing, short-term rentals, and flips, with a focus on the Fayetteville, North Carolina market. He lives in Augusta, GA with his wife Pamela and daughter Audrey.
What is your ‘why’?
The military has been a demanding job for me over the last 10 years with training, overseas deployments, and unpredictable schedules, and will continue to be demanding until I retire in roughly 10 years. So it’s important for me to earn passive income to give me more free time with my family. I have a wife and one daughter right now, and potentially more children in the future. I don’t want to have to do a W-2 job to support my family and trade time for money. I want to earn money on my own terms.
How did you get started in real estate?
My wife and I bought our first property in North Carolina in 2013. We started out living on base like many others were doing, but we wanted the opportunity to put our money towards something that could grow, rather than just give our housing allowance to base housing. We lived in that first property for 3 years but realized we needed something bigger so we looked into selling it, but the home’s value did not increase enough for us to break even on the property. This encouraged us to look into renting the property. We realized we could rent out the home for a few hundred dollars more than our mortgage payment so we decided to rent it out instead of sell the home.
Around this time I was introduced to Dave Ramsey, the personal finance radio personality. He stresses the importance of controlling your spending, having a budget, and limiting all debt except for your home mortgage. Soon after that, I was introduced to Bigger Pockets by a friend at a going-away party who owned several out-of-state properties, and it was that intro to the Bigger Pockets world that really set off a spark for me to learn about real estate. Chad Carson’s book “Retire Early with Real Estate” was inspiring for me as well.
Why did you start your real estate company: Proper Pivot?
Starting a real estate/investing company was never something I dreamed about or wanted to do. I never even considered a career in real estate when I was younger. However, I realized after I did my first flip that I should form an entity to do business correctly. It was a profitable flip, but the finances were messy and I should have structured it in a way to protect myself better. Since it was successful, I wanted to do more flips, and I knew the right thing to do was to form an entity and go through the process of learning how to start and run a business successfully. Proper Pivot is a reflection of my family: me and my wife and my daughter investing in real estate through this company.
How did you decide on the name Proper Pivot?
I’m an IT nerd by trade: computers and networks are my thing. In cyber-security, a pivot is when you move laterally within a network. The name is a reflection of this concept and how that applies to me and my family. There are so many ways to be successful in real estate, so I wanted to keep that concept in mind when we created Proper Pivot. We will continue to adjust and be flexible throughout this journey to be successful and achieve our long-term goals. Regarding the Proper Pivot logo, I knew I wanted a nerdy spin on that concept and apply it to real estate, hence the glasses and house in the logo.
What software or tools do you use in your business that have provided significant value to you?
I have a list of tech that Proper Pivot uses in the business. If I had to narrow that list down to two that provide the most value, the first would be REIReply. It has provided the most monetary benefit for us since we started using it. We have acquired 3 properties with REIReply – one we kept as a rental, and two we have wholesaled to other investors. (REIReply is a marketing platform used by wholesalers and real estate investors to source leads with motivated sellers. Features include text messaging, cold calling, ringless voicemail, email, and it has a robust CRM (customer resource management).
Also, Dealcheck.io is a great website and app we use to analyze properties. We can look at comparable properties, the report generation tool is more aesthetically pleasing than many other websites that do this, and it’s relatively inexpensive. The app is highly functional too, so we can drive around neighborhoods, plug in our numbers, and get a clear idea very quickly of whether a property will work for us or not.
Dealcheck.io actually helped me lock up a deal in a matter of minutes. A wholesaler had just listed a property on Facebook, so I messaged him about it and he gave me the code for the lockbox. I went over to the property and looked it over, ran the numbers through the dealcheck.io app, and sent him an offer which he accepted. If it wasn’t for that app, I wouldn’t have been able to act so quickly on that property.
What do you want your legacy to be?
The term ‘legacy’ seems profound, but put quite simply, as the son of an immigrant and a product of the lower middle class, I aspire to influence the culture within my family as it relates to wealth and money. Ultimately, I’d like to build off of the hard work that came before me and continue to put this family in a better position to succeed and be free. If it all goes right, and I have some cycles to spare, hopefully I leave valuable assets behind for my children to leverage.
I hope you enjoyed this interview with Justin Melendez, founder of Proper Pivot LLC. Make sure you check out his website and follow him on Instagram and Facebook @properpivot!