Top 5 Real Estate Questions Answered

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What’s the best market to invest in real estate?

This has to be the most common question I see in the BiggerPockets forums and real estate Facebook groups. The answer (like most tough questions) is: it depends. Also, there is no “best” market that fits every investor! There is money to be made in every real estate market in the country, it’s just a matter of figuring out which market fits your strengths, your goals, and your strategy the best. The ‘best market’ question always leads me to ask follow-up questions, such as: what are your long-term goals? What is your risk tolerance? Where do you have an advantage in the form of local knowledge, boots on the ground, or insight into the local economy?

I recommend people first determine their long-term goals for why they are even investing in real estate. Do you need the cash flow now or do you have a high-paying W-2 job that will allow you to focus more on markets expected to appreciate over time? Next, figure out how much capital you have access to for purchasing real estate. This is an important factor. It’s much more expensive to purchase an off-market single-family home in Southern California than Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

Another important consideration is: how much time do you have to devote to investing? If you work a demanding 9-5 job or just don’t have the desire to put in the work to actively invest (and it is a lot of work!), maybe focusing on 100% passive real estate investments like syndications is a better fit. More on that strategy later….

I don’t have very much money at all. How do I get started in real estate?

You must have a strong foundation in your personal finances before you get started in real estate investing. You will need a good credit score (650 or better), cash reserves, and steady income to qualify for mortgages. If you only have $500 in your bank account and a 550 credit score, you need to focus on the fundamentals of personal finance before you make the jump to real estate investing. 

While you’re working on this (Dave Ramsey’s teachings are a great way to establish a strong finance foundation) you can begin building your real estate knowledge base by reading books, listening to podcasts, watching youtube videos, and most importantly – connecting with other real estate investors! My favorite ways to connect with people are via the BiggerPockets forums, real-estate Facebook groups in your local area (or the area you want to invest in), and in-person meetups.

Once you build up some real estate knowledge and a network of real estate investors, I recommend you partner up with someone on a deal who can bring capital, and you do the work! If you’ve done enough research, you should be able to put a team together, find a deal, and get the whole process started. Then you can own 50% of a cash-flowing property with little or none of your own money.

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Should I buy a property at every duty station and rent it out when I move?

Again, it depends. You can’t use your VA loan an infinite number of times. Yes, you can sell a property and free up your entitlement, but if you’re buying and selling a primary residence every 2-3 years, are you really building long-term wealth? The transactional cost of selling real estate is high (usually 7-8% of the purchase price including commissions and closing costs) so that will likely eat into any appreciation you have if you only hold for 2-3 years.

If you want to rent out your property once you move from that duty station, you have to analyze the property as a rental before you commit to purchasing that property. Think of it as a long-term rental that you happen to also be living in for a few years before you rent it out. How much would that property rent for? What would the expenses be? How much is property management? If you keep that property, will you rent at your next duty station or purchase another property? How will you purchase that property – with a conventional mortgage or a VA loan?

My point is it’s not a simple answer. You need to do some research and determine if it makes sense to buy as a long-term investment or not. It might make more sense to rent! If you’re having trouble figuring out what to do, feel free to message me on Instagram @honorandequity and I’ll give you my thoughts on your situation. 

How many times can I use the VA loan?

The purpose of the VA loan is to provide a low/no money down mortgage to military members and veterans for a primary residence. You can’t just buy an investment property with your VA loan. That being said, you can use your VA entitlement multiple times. The thing to remember is that you have a limited amount of VA entitlement, and once you hit that amount, you have to sell (or refinance into a conventional mortgage – which you can do one time) that property to free up your entitlement. 

For more information about the VA loan, check out the interview I did with Jon Lallande, and make sure you read the article I wrote about the San Diego VA Loan house hack we did. This is the best way for military members and veterans to get started in real estate!

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What is a real estate syndication?

A real estate syndication is a method of investing in which multiple investors pool money together to purchase an asset. This is commonly used for assets like apartment complexes, self-storage facilities, and mobile home parks.

A real estate syndication is comprised of general partners and limited partners. The general partners are core team members doing all the work on the deal, which can include finding the property, underwriting the deal, raising money, managing the property, and more. The limited partners are the individuals (or entities) that invest in the deal. They are called limited partners because they do not have a say in how the deal is structured or how it is managed: they are strictly passive investors. 

Syndications are a great option for individuals that have capital sitting in an account but don’t have the time or desire to put together their own real estate deal. 

I have personally invested in one syndication as a limited partner – a mobile home park in Colorado. You can read more about it here

I hope you found value in this article. Please let me know what you think by sending me a message on Instagram @honorandequity, or email me at

5 Reasons Why We Love Tulsa

Beautiful Tulsa, Oklahoma! Photo courtesy of

Last summer, I decided to start investing in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I purchased a duplex there last winter and successfully completed a BRRRR project (Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat) on it that wrapped up in June with a cash-out refinance. I still think OKC is a great city to invest in, and we plan to hold our duplex there for many years. 

However, earlier this summer, we pivoted to investing in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

Tulsa is a city roughly ⅔ the size of Oklahoma City (population of 413,000 to OKC’s 681,000) and lies in Northeast Oklahoma about 90 minutes from OKC. If you include the suburbs and smaller towns around Tulsa, the population is over 1 million. Many of the reasons we were drawn to OKC also apply to Tulsa: it’s landlord-friendly, has a diverse recession-resistant economy, solid population growth, and more. 

So what were some of the key reasons for our shift to Tulsa?

1. Less competition for deals

Where the OKC real estate market has exploded in recent years thanks to lots of out-of-state capital and investors, Tulsa isn’t nearly as well known. That means there’s less competition for deals. Lots of investors don’t like investing in smaller sub-markets like Tulsa because they believe the economies aren’t as well established, they worry that there may be less demand for housing, or they have simply never heard of places like Tulsa! This is great for investors like us.

2. People love to live in Tulsa!

The Gathering Place in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Photo courtesy of Contech Engineered Solutions

Tulsa ranks number 66 on’s “Top 100 best places to live” list. This is for good reason, and if you’ve ever visited Tulsa you know why. The people are super friendly like you find in a small town and, unlike bigger cities, there is almost no traffic at all. The cost of living is also 8% lower than the national average, so your money goes a lot farther in Tulsa than it does in bigger markets. 

Tulsa is in Northeast Oklahoma, which means it’s only a few hours to the beautiful Ozark Mountains in Arkansas and Missouri. I’m a big fan of cities having natural beauty nearby, and Tulsa definitely checks that box. Also, the live music scene in Tulsa is fantastic and growing every year.

Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa. Photo by Phil Clarkin and courtesy of

3. Tulsa is business and landlord friendly

The local government in Tulsa (as well as the state government of Oklahoma) is very supportive of both big and small businesses. This, combined with the low cost of living, makes it an attractive location for businesses of all sizes to operate. Land and warehouse spaces are relatively cheap compared to larger, coastal markets. 

Oklahoma in general has landlord/tenant laws that favor the landlord. This is great for real estate investors and is an important criteria to consider when looking for places to invest. The state doesn’t allow tenants to live in a home for months without paying rent like you will find in states like Vermont and Oregon. 

According to Norada Real Estate, Landlords can evict a tenant in Oklahoma City for failure to pay rent, criminal activity, and material breaches of the lease. If the landlord wants to evict them for a breach of lease, a ten-day written notice is required in which the tenant has to solve the issue.

If they don’t, they can be given 15 days to leave. If a landlord wants to evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent, he or she must first give the tenant a 5-day written notice for payment of rent. If the tenant does not pay rent within 5 days, the landlord may proceed with the eviction of the tenant.

4. Tulsa has a growing, diverse economy 

Mid-American Industrial Park in Pryor, Oklahoma. Photo courtesy of

MidAmerican Industrial Park in nearby Pryor, OK is not only Oklahoma’s largest industrial park, but it is one of the largest in the nation. It houses more than 80 businesses including Google, Chevron, and DuPont. Google alone has invested more than $2 billion in their local data center.

In addition to the energy sector, industries such as aerospace, finance, and technology have begun establishing facilities in the Tulsa area.

Tulsa has introduced a tax incentive to encourage “remote workers” to live in Tulsa. The pandemic has allowed many employees around the country to continue working from home, so even if their company’s office is in San Francisco or other high-cost markets, they are no longer obligated to live in those expensive areas. Also, individuals working these types of jobs tend to be high-earning jobs in the finance or technology industries. Tulsa wisely wants to attract these individuals to live there. 

5. I found a rock star investor-friendly agent in Tulsa

Real estate is all about having a great team, right? I first connected with Nate Sanow on the Bigger Pockets forums when I had zero plans to invest in Tulsa. We chatted about real estate from time-to-time for a few months, and when I traveled to Oklahoma for work in May 2021, we decided to meet up for lunch in Tulsa. He showed me around some areas he thought would work for H&E’s strategy, and after that day I decided to start marketing to Tulsa. Fast-forward 4 months, and we have closed on two properties: one as a flip and one as a BRRRR. 

Nate is a pleasure to work with, shares similar long-term goals, and we have complimentary skills. He is a master at establishing rapport with potential sellers, has lots of real estate contacts in Tulsa, and he is reliable! Everyone needs a Nate on their team. 

I hope you gained value from this article. Please reach out to me in Instagram @honorandequity and let me know what you think! 

RElationships: Q & A with USMC Vet and Real Estate Renaissance Man Jon Lallande

Jon Lallande is a mortgage loan officer and real estate investor. As a prior Force Reconnaissance Marine and Scout Sniper, Jon loves helping military veterans build wealth through real estate. Jon specializes in teaching veterans about their VA loan benefits and takes pride in his ability to make financing real estate as quick and seamless as possible.

The VA (Veteran’s Affairs) home loan is a powerful wealth-building tool available to qualifying service members and veterans. I believe this is an under-utilized loan product that can help military folks get started in real estate and achieve financial independence. 

My wife and I recently purchased a home using our VA loan, and we couldn’t have done it without Jon Lallande. I recently had a great conversation with him about the VA loan, mortgage lending, and investing in real estate while working full-time. 

Doug: How did you transition from the Marine Corps to mortgage lending?

Jon: I started out wholesaling while I was still in the Marine Corps. I realized from that experience that I really enjoy working with numbers, so I researched different real estate and finance professions that focus on the numbers and finance aspects of the business. I came across mortgage lending as a profession and attended a home buying seminar with a loan officer that helped me with a lending product for a property I purchased. He showed me what his day-to-day was like and how much he made, and I realized that mortgage lending was a great fit for me and my interests.

Doug: Mortgage lending is your primary occupation, but tell me more about how else you’re involved in real estate.

Jon: I primarily do flipping and wholesaling on the side. I try to do 3 wholesale deals and 1 flip per month. For a while, I would say yes to any opportunity that came my way, but I’ve gotten better at saying no to opportunities that don’t fit into my strategy. I own a total of 85 doors, and 80 of those doors are with a partnership of which I own one-third. I’ve been offloading the few properties I own in my personal name, in favor of partnering with others on larger deals. 

This strategy fits better for my lifestyle as well, because the mortgage lending takes up a lot of my time during the week – sometimes up to 60 hours per week – so rather than doing other deals on my own and having to do everything myself, I can partner with others and contribute to tasks that focus on my strengths while they do the same. I’ve found that having partners where everyone brings something else to the table is where I’ve found the magic happens. Also, owning assets in a separate entity with others reduces my liability, as opposed to owning multiple properties in my personal name. 

Doug: On the mortgage lending side, how much of your business is VA loans with military buyers, and how much is conventional lending with investors or non-military buyers?

Jon: Roughly 75% of my loans are with VA military buyers because I’m able to get those offers accepted at a higher rate than a lot of other VA lenders. I also tend to click with military buyers better than other buyers. 10% of my loans are investors that want to do refinances, and roughly 5% of the loans are your standard first-time homebuyers using conventional loans. 

Photo by Brett Sayles on

Doug: Why do you think the VA loan is such a great lending product? Why is it a better way to purchase a property than a conventional mortgage?

Jon: This is my favorite question to answer and I could talk about this all day. I think the biggest pro is you can put zero down and you’re able to qualify for a higher purchase price. With the VA loan, you don’t have a debt-to-income ratio requirement like FHA or conventional loans. This means VA buyers can qualify for a higher purchase price than they would be able to without a VA loan. 

Another advantage is with the VA loan, as long as you have at least a 640 credit score, you’re going to be able to get a very low interest rate. So a younger enlisted service member can still get a fantastic interest rate, even if they have struggled in the past with credit card debt, student loan payments, or other consumer debt issues that may have negatively impacted their credit score. With a conventional mortgage, if you’re below a 740 your interest rate increases a little bit for every 20 points below 740. Not the case with a VA loan as long as you have a 640 credit score. 

The VA will give you the same low interest rate whether you’re buying a regular single-family home, a condo, a townhome, or a 2-4 unit small multifamily property. This is not the case with a conventional mortgage. You will have rate adjustments (higher interest rates) if you buy a condo or multifamily property. Also, for multifamily property purchases, FHA mortgages have something called a “self-sufficiency test” which means the mortgage payment has to be less than 75% (or whatever vacancy rate the lender deems fit) of the combined rents. This is very difficult to make happen in a high-cost market like San Diego or Washington, D.C. On the other hand, with the VA loan, we can use the projected rental income to help you qualify for the property.

Another big plus of VA loans is that lots of the VA lending guidelines are much more subjective than other residential lending products. Conventional mortgage guidelines are much more black and white with their rules.

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Doug: Are there any myths about the VA loan you want to dispel?

Jon: The most common myth is you can only use your VA loan once or you can continue refinancing your VA loans to conventional loans and buy an infinite amount of properties with their VA loans. Most lenders don’t tell their clients about the “one-time restoration”. What that means is that you can purchase a home on the VA loan, refinance that mortgage into a conventional mortgage, which frees up your VA entitlement to purchase another property, however doing so uses your one-time restoration. Once you use your one-time restoration, the only way to restore your VA entitlement is to sell any properties you have that were once financed by VA.

One thing to remember when using your VA entitlement a second time is that your funding fee does increase from 2.3% to 3.6%. You can reduce that funding fee if you contribute to a down payment. 

Some people mistakenly think that you can buy as many properties as they want as long as they remain under their VA entitlement, for example, if their entitlement is $500,000 they believe they could buy 10 properties that cost $50,000. If you try to buy multiple properties like that, the underwriters will say that it’s fraud because you are using your VA loan entitlement to build a real estate portfolio, moving constantly, not upgrading in size, and generally not using the loan in the way that it was intended. 

Doug: Correct me if I’m wrong, but a big advantage dual-military couples have is that each individual has their own separate VA entitlement, so if you purchase a property using one servicemember’s entitlement, that does not impact the spouse’s ability to use theirs on another home in the future. 

Jon: That is correct, and if you two purchase a home using your wife’s entitlement and there is still some of that entitlement left over, you can use that amount towards a home purchase on your VA entitlement. That’s another advantage you have being a dual-military couple. 

Doug: What software, tools, or products do you use in your real estate business that has provided significant value?

The Bigger Pockets Intention Journal has been great for me. I write down big goals I want to hit over a 90 day period, and I track my progress and hold myself accountable using the daily and weekly pages. 

I’m also a huge fan of the software Propstream. I use it all the time to look at comps of properties, pull data for marketing lists, and skip trace all in one software, it has everything you need to do real estate investing, with the exception of an actual CRM. 

Doug: What do you want your legacy to be?

I want to help men build their own real estate and business empires while helping them find fulfillment in their lives. Lots of guys out there want to do awesome adventurous things like sky-diving, shooting guns, and going on adventures, but too much of their lives are spent behind a desk.

I want to show other people how to live the life they want to live – not the life they’re being told to live. 

Doug: How can people contact you and learn more about you?

Jon: You can email me at and you can follow me on Instagram @jonlallande22.

I hope you enjoyed this interview with Jon Lallande. Please send me a message on Instagram @honorandequity and give me feedback. We’re always seeking to improve our content to provide maximum value to our readers and followers!

How We House Hacked in San Diego Using the VA Loan

As some of you know, my wife and I are both active-duty military. A few months ago, my wife received orders for a command in Virginia Beach, VA so we started making plans to move to Virginia from San Diego. We told our landlord in San Diego that July would be our last month, and we found a real estate agent in Virginia and started submitting offers on homes. 

Then, the Navy threw us a curveball. 

We found out at the very end of June that we would be staying in San Diego instead of moving to Virginia. Our landlord had already found tenants to take over our condo in Little Italy, so we had to find a place to live in San Diego ASAP! We had also just arrived in Hawaii on vacation to visit family for two weeks, so that made matters even more complicated. Thankfully, I used my network of military real estate investors to find a fantastic mortgage lender, Jon Lallande of Cross Country mortgage and real estate agent Herbert Knox of Sentry Residential, and we aggressively started looking for homes in the San Diego area. Jon Lallande was able to provide a very competitive VA loan product which is usually unheard of: the 17 day close on a VA loan. Most lenders advertise 30-45 days to close a VA loan, and we knew that was too long and would not be competitive enough to get an offer accepted.

Finding a Home in a Competitive, Seller’s Market

We had to be especially aggressive not just because of our short timeline, but also because we had to lock down a house in the hottest seller’s market in U.S. history in one of the hotter markets in the country (Southern California). 

We submitted 5 offers on homes in San Diego from Hawaii, solely based on the video walk-throughs our agent sent us. We relied heavily on his feedback regarding the neighborhood, the layout of the homes, and the overall “feel” of the properties. 

When we were shopping for a new home, many of the homes we encountered were being sold by home flippers. These entrepreneurs had purchased a distressed 3 bed 2 bath single family home, fixed it up to look very nice, and put it on the market at full retail. We were not opposed to a regular single family home, however I knew finding a property with the added benefit of a separate unit to rent out would give us a huge advantage, both in the short-term and long-term. 

Finally, a seller accepted our offer. 

Of all the homes we looked at, this one was my personal favorite. It was far from a perfect home like those flips and it needed a fair amount of cosmetic work, but it had something most of the other homes we looked at didn’t have: a second unit to rent out. My real estate brain was magnetically drawn to this property because I know the best way to use the VA loan is to buy a 2-4 unit property, live in one unit, and rent out the others, also known as a “house hack”.

What is a house hack?

A house hack is when you purchase a 1-4 unit property usually conventional, VA or FHA loan as a primary residence, and rent out the other units, or rent out the extra bedrooms if its a regular single family home. Its considered a “hack” because you are using the extra income from the rent you collect to pay your mortgage. 

This strategy is especially effective using the VA or FHA loan because those lending products require little or no down payment, as opposed to a conventional loan which usually requires a 20% down payment. 

Exterior view of the home. Those stairs on the left go down to the downstairs unit.

Our New (Old) Home!

Let’s talk about the house itself. It’s a two-story, single-family home built in 1956 in La Mesa, CA – a suburb about 9 miles east of downtown San Diego. The larger, main floor of the house is the top floor which may seem odd, but the neighborhood is very hilly, and this home is built on the side of a hill. The driveway comes down steeply from the street, and when you walk in the front door, you’re actually on the second floor of the home. There’s a staircase going down to the bottom floor, which previous owners had drywalled off to create that separate living space on the bottom floor. So, all they needed to do was add a kitchen downstairs and they had their second unit to rent out. 

The home has lots of light and an open floor plan as you can see here. We have since sanded and refinished the hardwood floors.

The previous owners had been renting out the unit to a lady and her two sons who did not take care of the unit. There was no significant damage, it just wasn’t kept clean and there was a lot of minor damage from years of neglect. The owner was charging the tenant $1200 per month for the unit which is nearly half the market value for that unit. So we planned to clean it up a bit, get it painted, and find an excellent tenant to live below us. 

The home we ended up purchasing is definitely not one of those homes fixed up by flippers! It has “good bones” meaning there are no significant structural, foundation, or other major issues but it just needed some basic updates and minor repairs. For example, the seller didn’t know how old the roof was, so we had a roofing professional come out and make some repairs. Also, the home has original hardwood floors that looked weathered and discolored in many locations, so we had a professional flooring company sand and refinish the floors and they look fantastic now! We also had a painter come in and apply a fresh coat to the ceilings, walls, and kitchen cabinets. 

This is the downstairs unit we will rent out to a lucky tenant!

The “No Money Down” VA Loan Myth

Something that surprised me during the VA loan process, was the realization that the VA loan does not cover closing costs! You can include the VA funding fee (2.3% of loan amount) in your loan, but the closing costs must be paid out of pocket. Unless of course, you can negotiate for the seller to pay your closing costs, or have a large enough seller credit to offset these costs. Make sure you consult your lender on this so you don’t get yourself in trouble. The VA loan has strict rules on what you can and can’t do. 

Depending on the price of the home you purchase, your closing costs may only be a couple thousand dollars. Most of the homes I have purchased in the past have been investments and have been $100,000 or less, which means the closing costs have been $1000-2000. However, when you’re buying a primary residence in the San Diego area, you’re paying a lot more than $100,000! So the closing costs were significant to say the least. 

Don’t let this deter you from using your VA entitlement. In my opinion, the VA loan is the best way for military members and veterans to get into real estate. 

We should be getting a tenant in the downstairs unit within a week or so, and we’re continuing to make updates and improvements to the upstairs part of the home where my wife and I live. If you’re already a homeowner, you know that no matter how much work you do, there are always more projects popping up! Thankfully, we found a fantastic handyman that can do all kinds of work for us at a reasonable price. 

If you want to learn more about the house-hacking strategy, Craig Curelop and BiggerPockets published a book about it called The House Hacking Strategy: How to Use Your Home to Achieve Financial Freedom. I have not personally read it yet, but I’ve read many books published by BiggerPockets and they have all been fantastic.

I hope you found value in this article. Please send me a message on Instagram @honorandequity and let me know your thoughts!

Welcome to Honor and Equity, Tess Reitz!

Aloha! I am thrilled to officially come on board as a partner in Honor & Equity. How fortunate am I to have a brother-in-law like Doug that not only has been a great addition to the family but also has taught and inspired my journey into real estate investing and strategic personal spending/investing! I hope that in joining H&E, I can pay this forward and do the same for others.

A bit about me: I currently live in Honolulu, HI, with my husband, Trevor, and our French Bulldog, Murphy. I am originally from Miami, FL, and graduated from Florida State University in 2012 with a degree in Marketing (go ‘noles!). I nearly completed a minor in Real Estate Finance which, looking back on it, may have foreshadowed this journey into real estate. Since graduation, my career in the tech industry, specifically retail and operations, has been largely focused on fostering quarter-over-quarter growth through team engagement, client experience and process improvements. I particularly enjoy developing impactful leaders and implementing scalable solutions for the pain points that can arise in a rapidly growing business.

My foray into Real Estate really began just over a year ago when my husband and I purchased our first rental property in Milwaukee, WI via Storehouse Ventures 3:10 (Thank you, Stu and David). Since that eye-opening experience, I have grown to understand in practice rather than in theory how real estate can be leveraged as a powerful tool for wealth creation and passive income. In addition to countless hours as a podcast student and many books read (most of which have been recommended by Doug), I was also able to learn from my participation in the OKC Duplex BRRRR that many of you have read about by now. If not, take a look here.

When Doug approached me about formalizing our mutual interest in investing and real estate by making H&E a family business, we realized that while we have common interests, our backgrounds couldn’t be more different and our skillsets are equally diverse. Plus, we get along really well (even if he is sometimes a sore loser when I win at Dutch Blitz). In our minds, this had the potential to be a great opportunity for both of us to achieve our goals while helping others achieve theirs. To solidify our hypothesis, we did a four-month partnership trial and as you can probably guess by the fact that you’re reading this – it went well!

I love what Honor and Equity stands for, and I am proud to allocate some of my personal time to helping others, specifically military members and their families, reach financial independence in whatever capacity I can. My Grandfather served in the military. My Uncle graduated from the Naval Academy and also proudly served his country. I am surrounded by fine examples of intelligent, disciplined, and selfless people that choose to serve our country: my twin sister is in the Navy, my sister-in-law and her husband are both in the Army, my husband is in the Army as well, and of course Doug. Oftentimes, because of differences in background, schooling, profession etc., military members are so busy with life’s other demands that they may not have found the right time or resources to provide them with education and tools to secure long term financial stability for not only themselves but for generations to come. Enter: Honor and Equity.

I’m looking forward to this new partnership, and hope to meet more like-minded and inspiring people along the way.

The Importance of Having Great Tenants

This notice of a Milwaukee code violation (committed by my tenants) was sent to my old address in Pensacola.

A common mistake that new landlords and real estate investors make is not recognizing the importance of accepting the highest possible quality tenants for a given property. Rather, many will sign a lease with the first prospective tenant that comes along, or accept a tenant that says all the right things but does not complete a background and credit check, cannot provide proof of income, and can’t provide references for prior landlords. 

I recently experienced firsthand the value of having an exceptional tenant. I own and self-manage a single-family home in a great neighborhood in Pensacola, Florida. I also own a few single-family homes in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that are managed by a professional property management company. 

Since I used to live in the Pensacola property, I occasionally still get mail sent to me at that address. About a month ago, I received a text message from the tenant in Pensacola stating that I had two important-looking letters addressed to me from the City of Milwaukee. I immediately knew this was not your typical junk mail envelope, and my Pensacola tenant sensed that as well. A less considerate tenant may have just ignored the mail or thrown it away without alerting me. I asked her to open the envelopes and send me pictures of the contents. Thankfully she didn’t just throw them away, because the letters were notices from the City of Milwaukee that one of my Milwaukee properties was in violation of local ordinances. 

One of the Milwaukee tenants allowed the grass to become overgrown, and regularly left the garbage bins on the street. The notice from the city stated that if the issues were not corrected, I would be issued fines as the property owner.

One of my tenants in Milwaukee had not been keeping up with the lawn maintenance!

I immediately reached out to my Milwaukee property management company, Smart Asset Realty in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and told them about the situation. Thankfully, Smart Asset Realty is fantastic and told me they would contact the tenant immediately to remedy both issues and let the tenants know that if any fines were issued to me, the tenants would be reimbursing me for those fines. The property management company later sent me pictures of the recently mowed lawn and reminded the tenant that per the lease agreement, they are responsible for lawn care and correct use of the garbage bins. 

While the focus of this particular article is on tenants, this story also emphasizes the importance of having great property management and not just hiring the first company that shows up when you search for one. 

You may be thinking “if having great tenants is so important, why didn’t your Milwaukee tenants do the right thing and take care of the lawn better?”. This is a fair point, but I think the important thing to remember is that no tenant is perfect and you can’t expect every tenant to treat the property as well as you would. Also, I believe the Milwaukee tenants just needed a reminder that caring for the property is their responsibility. This is also the first issue we’ve had with those tenants. Thankfully the management company did their job well by handling this for me. This is why they make 8% of the total rent every month!

It’s also important to remember that folks who can afford higher rent in a nice area are not necessarily better people who will take better care of your property. You can have high-quality tenants even in a property with lower rent and you can have low-quality tenants in a property with higher rents! That’s why it’s so important to screen them well, regardless of their monthly income. 

Fantastic tenants will treat your property better, keep you advised of any repair or maintenance issues, pay on time (or early), and generally make your life as a landlord or property owner much easier. 

Thorough tenant screening will prevent a lot of problems!

Tenant screening tips to reduce landlord headaches:

  1. ALWAYS perform a background and credit check (or ensure your management company does this).
  2. Minimum 650 credit score.
  3. Get references from past landlords.
  4. Ensure the prospective tenants earn enough monthly income to afford the rent. My rule is they must earn four times the monthly rent each month, and I ask for a recent pay stub to verify this. 
  5. Have a conversation with them to determine why they are renting and how long they plan to stay in the home. You can learn a lot from a 10-minute conversation that you can’t learn from a rental application. 

Pro Tip: Be wary of any tenant who wants to pay 1 year in advance. This is a strategy sometimes used by individuals who plan to use the home for illegal activity like drug dealing. They pay upfront to reduce the chances anyone comes snooping around the property looking for rent!

I hope you enjoyed this article and found value in its content. Make sure you follow us on Instagram @honorandequity. We love hearing your feedback! Send us a direct message on Instagram, or email me directly at

How I Made $5,000 by Sending an Email

First revenue! (aside from rental income from the duplex)

Last summer, I decided I was going to start BRRRR’ing properties out of state. Once I put the team together to do this, I quickly realized that finding deals would be the toughest part. Due to the current market, I knew that I would have to create my own system to generate leads rather than rely on agents and wholesalers to provide them for me. Creating this organic deal funnel took months of trial and error, multiple software systems, and lots of time spent finding the right virtual assistants. I finally have developed a system that generates leads for property owners who are motivated to sell. 

You might be wondering why I don’t just buy properties through an agent or a wholesaler. For the most part, those individuals are asking for too high of a price for me to make the numbers work. A key component of the BRRRR strategy is finding a property well below market value. 

Here’s the basic formula I use to quickly assess if a property makes sense to buy:

Estimated After Repair Value (ARV) X .75 minus repair cost = Maximum Offer Price

By developing my own process to find motivated sellers who aren’t talking to anyone else yet about selling their home, I’m in a much better position to purchase the home at the discounted price I need. I’m also providing value to these homeowners who don’t want these homes anymore. Many are in poor condition and have been neglected, and the owners don’t have the money or desire to fix them up to sell on the retail housing market. Also, most homeowners are purchasing homes using bank financing, and these banks will not usually approve lending on homes in need of lots of work. 

Leads for properties with motivated sellers are always in demand. Real estate agents and wholesalers will have a list of buyers (real estate investors) that are ready to purchase a property at the right price. In this hot market, there aren’t many deals to be had on the MLS, so investors are increasingly having to look elsewhere to find deals. 

But why wouldn’t you just keep all the leads for yourself? The simple answer is that not every good lead fits my strategy, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a great lead for someone else. I have very specific criteria for the properties that I want to buy, so most of the properties that come through my deal funnel won’t work for my strategy. That doesn’t mean that I can’t still benefit from those leads or provide value to others in my network. For a given property that I don’t want to buy, there will probably be another investor that does. 

I’m very bullish on Oklahoma City real estate! (Photo by Raychel Sanner on

Here’s how the process works:

  1. Receive motivated seller lead from virtual assistant team
  2. Send lead to a local agent
  3. Agent talks to the seller, walks the property, gets an idea of what the home is worth, and what offer number works for the seller.
  4. If it works as a BRRRR, I buy it. If it doesn’t work as a BRRRR for me, but the agent thinks another investor might be interested, he puts it under contract and presents the deal to the other investors. 
  5. If the agent thinks the property will sell on the MLS, he can list it and I will get a referral fee. 

I love this strategy because no leads are wasted. I’m spending a lot of money on marketing each month to generate these leads, so I want to make sure to extract any value from them that I can.

They paid me $5,000 just for bringing them the lead. All I did was send the contact info and property info to my agent and he did the rest. Could I have made more money by keeping it and flipping it myself? Probably, but flipping is not my business, so I was happy to pass this opportunity on to other investors and collect a fee for finding the lead. 

A few months ago, I sent a lead to my agent for a home in fair condition and in a nice neighborhood in Oklahoma City. The agent and his partners saw value in the home, so they decided to purchase the property themselves, rehab it, and list it on the retail market to hopefully make a profit. 

This is the property that made me $5,000! It just needs some love and it will make a great new home for someone!

For the record, this is the only time this has happened so far but as my lead generation team brings me more and more leads, I believe I will get more and more of these deals. 

I will keep the best ones to BRRRR myself and sell the rest of the leads to other investors. 

Is it easy? Of course not, because if it was easy everyone would be doing it. But it is simple, and it’s something that can be replicated in any market in the country. 

In real estate – as with any other business – if you can solve people’s problems, you can make money. Real estate is so amazing to me because you can create these scenarios that are win-win for everyone involved. The seller received cash for her home, the flippers make money on the sale of the improved home, the next buyer of the home gets an updated home to live in, and I get $5,000 to reinvest into the business. 

I hope you enjoyed this article. Please let me know your thoughts by commenting below, or sending me a direct message on Instagram @honorandequity. You can also email me at

My First BRRRR – Lessons Learned

A couple of weeks ago I posted “My First BRRRR: By The Numbers”, which focused on breaking down all the numbers associated with the purchase, rehab, financing, and more for my first BRRRR in Oklahoma City. Now I want to share with you the lessons I learned from the process. 

Photo by Pixabay on

Once you read the article send me a message on Instagram @honorandequity or email me at and share your thoughts!

Lesson #1: It will take longer than you think.

I estimated 6 weeks for the rehab, and it took nearly 7 months! We closed on the duplex on December 10th, 2020, only two weeks before Christmas. After closing, the focus was on the rehab. I knew from the thorough inspection we had done that the property needed mostly cosmetic updates, such as replacing the exterior fascia and trim, new kitchen tile, a new wood porch and railings, and new gutters. It also needed some minor foundation work. In my optimistic, BRRRR-beginner state, I thought it was possible to get everything done by the end of January. However, because of the holidays, we didn’t even get started on getting bids until the beginning of January. 

Lesson #2: Don’t expect much to get done during the holidays.

The winter holidays caused the rehab to get off to a slow start. In hindsight, I should have anticipated this, but at the time I didn’t think the impact would be so significant. Lesson learned: don’t expect much to get done for the last two weeks of the year! I should have added roughly 2 weeks to my rehab time estimate to account for this, and I will do so in the future. 

Photo by Blue Bird on

Lesson #3: Get bids for everything early.

One mistake I made was not getting a bid for windows earlier in the rehab process. Windows were one of the last things we got bids for and once we decided on a company, they told us it would be roughly 8 weeks until the windows would be delivered. 8 weeks. That’s more than I thought the entire rehab would take! This was partly due to COVID’s notorious impact on the worldwide logistics chain, which I did not even consider at the beginning of the rehab. If I had known this, I would have done the window bid first and gotten them ordered much earlier. 

Lesson #4: Your private lender is priority #1. 

I wasn’t overly confident that anyone would be willing to give me $120,000 to do my first BRRRR. Sure, I had done a copious amount of research on the subject, including reading books and consulting with experts in this area, but this was my first attempt at completing one myself. Someone did though (my sister-in-law), and I knew that whether the BRRRR was a success or not, I would get her that money back plus interest. That was more important to me than anything else. I didn’t want to be known as the person who doesn’t follow through. Leveraging other people’s money is an important part of real estate investing, and I knew I needed to establish a solid reputation from the very beginning. 

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

Lesson #5: Don’t be too hard on yourself. 

I set pretty ambitious goals for myself on this first BRRRR: 20k rehab (it went 5k over), 3 month rehab time (it took more than twice that long), 156k appraisal (it appraised for 161k! Yay!). As the rehab went over budget and over time, I was pretty hard on myself. I had to remind myself that this is the first time I’m doing this, with a brand new team, in a new location, so it’s totally understandable that I didn’t flawlessly execute my goals. Ultimately, the deal was a success, provided a valuable learning experience, and it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. 

One mistake I did make was not recognizing that the mortgage refinance was not a fixed rate for the duration of the mortgage. It was fixed for 3, then variable. My mortgage broker told me this early on, and for some reason, I thought it was fixed for 20 years. When I was reading the documents at closing, I was caught off guard by this but after searching my old emails and I found that I had just overlooked that fact. 

Whenever you’re trying something new, give yourself some grace. 

I firmly believe that if you aren’t making mistakes along the journey of life, you aren’t setting your goals high enough and you’re not taking enough risks. When you look back on your life, do you think you’ll regret NOT trying big things? We’re capable of so much more than we think, so set your goals big, give it your best effort, and keep learning and improving!

What lessons have you learned on your real estate journey? Comment below! If you’d like to connect with me, you can send me an email at or send me a message on Instagram @honorandequity 

RElationships: Q&A with Adventurous REI’s founders, Suzy Sevier and Michael Barnhart

Suzy Sevier and Michael Barnhart started Adventurous REI to help others achieve what they believe is the greatest ROI: Return on Impact. They want others to start enjoying life and leave an impact now, not later. I first connected with Michael Barnhart last August, and he inspired me to build a team and start utilizing the BRRRR strategy (Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat) to purchase real estate in Oklahoma City from San Diego. 

Michael and Suzy are unique because not only are they business partners in real estate, but they also are married and invest in the United States while living in Europe! Michael and Suzy were kind enough to share their time with me and answer some questions about their business, their legacy, and their fantastic new podcast The Adventures of a Real Estate Investor

How did you get started in real estate?

Suzy – We got started in real estate because of COVID-19 and the lockdowns. We did not know how long the first lockdown was going to last but we knew we needed to find something to do during this time.  We decided to start a mini book club with one another. The first book we read was Slight Edge By Jeff Olsen.  We loved it so much that we bought some of the books that were on his recommended reading list. One of those books was,  Multiple Streams of Income by Robert Allen. A few chapters in, there is a chapter on real estate, and Michael asked me to skip straight to it. After I read it, he said let’s try this and I said okay!  From there we started listening to all the podcasts and reading all the books. We searched as many online forums as we could because we realized that so much of the space had gone virtual. We knew that it was a great opportunity for us to get into real estate because we had all the same opportunities at this point as everything else did from anywhere in the world. 

What software or tools do you use in your business that provide significant value to you?

Suzy –  The tool that we use in our business that brings significant value is a project management tool called Asana. Everyone in our team has access including the property management staff. This has eliminated the long strings of emails. We can all see the tasks that need to be completed, we can take notes on those tasks, we can add attachments to the tasks such as bids from vendors. It clears up so much miscommunication in regards to when tasks are to be completed because there is a function to add “due dates.” The software has streamlined a lot of our processes. 

What do you want your legacy to be?

To create a ripple effect where people have been inspired to positively impact someone in their life at least 1% every day.

How do you balance working together on real estate with being married? 

Suzy – Our why and our passions are so intertwined, but the balance is just there. We truly are best friends and so there was no way that it was out of the question that we are going to do this together. We actually think it’s easier to work together because we are married. We still need to communicate effectively as a business partnership would and we still have expectations for one another, as a business partnership should. We have the advantage though because we have created a safe space where being intimate and vulnerable is valued. 

How do you balance owning and operating a real estate company while active duty and living on a different continent?

Michael – I don’t sleep. Just kidding. But in addition to the real estate investment firm, we actually own an eCommerce business and a Land Rover Defender import business as well (got to have those additional income streams!). So, we spend the majority of our free time and weekends hustling. We chose not to have a TV because of the distraction it causes. We would rather spend that time working on our businesses or working on personal growth or just spending quality time with each other. We wake up early, at or before 5 am, and knock out our morning routine (read, journal, meditate, and exercise) and then get straight to work on the business. Suzy and I both work the traditional 9 am – 6 pm hours and then when I get home at 6 pm, I jump straight into working on the business again until 10 pm or sometimes even midnight. The great thing about being overseas is that we get to take advantage of the time difference. When I get home from work at 6 pm, it is only 12pm in my market. Therefore, I have 6 more hours to work during their “business day” so I can call brokers, lenders, and other vendors during their normal working hours. Also, the silver lining to COVID is that it has forced a lot of things to go virtual so, being overseas, we were able to take advantage of that. We were able to attend conferences and meetups that would have normally been in person, and we were able to network 1-on-1 with a lot of potential investors. But to wrap up this answer, to create a “balance” we are always working on systematizing our businesses so that we can hire out the $10/hour tasks, which frees up our time to focus on the $10,000/hour task. We currently have two assistants; one that helps us with everyday tasks and one that does all of our video editing. And of course, we are not editing our own podcasts. We are just recording, and our team does all the rest. 

Photo credit: Gregory Ballos

How did you put together a team for your Tulsa multifamily projects?

Michael – Networking and having intention going into meetups and conferences. We started posting about our real estate experience on social media and a connection of mine reached out and wanted to chat about my experience thus far. I had known him for 15 years as we went to prep school and the academy together so the know, like, and trust factor had already been established. He became our “boots on the ground,” and because of that, we then had a market to tell others we were in. Once we started going into meetups stating our market, organic introduction occurred and from those introductions, we met our mentor. The other partners on our team were also met through various meetups and mastermind groups.

Just get yourself out there, no one knows what you are doing until you tell your story. 

Why did you decide to start a podcast? 

The podcast had always been something we wanted to start but “didn’t have enough time for”. Our original goal was to have it started by the end of 2021. But as we started to become guests on others’ podcasts, that exposure from the podcast world was something we were missing. In order to truly have our message be heard, we needed to start our podcast sooner.  During our 1:1 calls, we have found that many people are motivated by creating an impact, whether they realized it or not. We wanted to create more exposure about the amazing good that people are doing for themselves and their family while leveraging real estate investing. It has really been a blessing to help others see that they were born to make a difference in this world. 

What advice do you have for military members and veterans out there who are interested in real estate investing?

Michael – Just do it! Learn about all the different types of real estate investing and decide which one best fits your personality. Then, learn everything about that niche of investing and start taking consistent action day after day. Even though it may not seem like you are making any headway each day, those actions are compounding on each other, and then one day – boom! – you’ll be exponentially growing! Pro tip: start documenting all the systems and processes from the start so that when you hit that exponential growth you can hire that out immediately so you can continue growing.

For me, I enjoy being a program manager and leading teams to accomplish large goals. Therefore, I really enjoy being the lead sponsor for multimillion-dollar acquisitions. Not to mention the impact that we get to have on a larger number of residents across the apartment communities that we acquire. Our whole focus is on a different ROI – Return On Impact. What impact do you want to make?

How to find them:

All of their info and social links to connect with them can be found here:

Check out their podcast which focuses on a different ROI – Return On Impact:

Check out their YouTube Channel that will focus on multifamily real estate education and mindset. It launches 1 July 2021 and will have 2 mini-series ready to view, one on acquiring a multifamily asset and the other on asset management. Check it out here:  

My First BRRRR – By the Numbers

Signing the closing documents for the cash-out refinance at First American Title in Edmond, OK.

On August 11th, 2020, I had a conversation with Michael Barnhart of Adventurous REI that inspired me to use the BRRRR strategy (Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat) to purchase an investment property. I decided on a market, put together a team, and started looking for properties. Four months later, on December 10th, 2020, I closed on a duplex in Oklahoma City that already had tenants and needed mostly cosmetic renovations.

Nearly 7 months after that closing, on June 1st, 2021, I signed the closing documents for the cash-out refinance which was the final step in my first BRRRR. 

I learned a lot from this experience which I will discuss more in-depth in my next article, but first I want to share the numbers! Was it a home run, a base hit, or a strike-out? I’ll let you decide! Send me a message on Instagram @honorandequity or doug@honorandequity and let me know your thoughts!

The Purchase

Purchase Price………….$100,000

Closing Costs……………$2203.02

Agent Commission….$0

I used private money at a 10% interest rate to fund the purchase price. My agent brought me the deal, and she was paid her commission by the seller. The closing costs included title fees, title insurance, the home inspection, the notary’s fee, and other minor administrative costs. I had to pay a notary to bring me the closing documents because I was on a work trip in North Carolina at the time of closing. 

The Rehab

I estimated the rehab cost to be $20,000 and my private lender agreed to lend this amount in addition to the $100,000 purchase price. The rehab went over budget by $5,115.80, and I contributed the capital to cover the additional costs.



5 Steel Piers Installed……………………………………….$2,875.00


New Gutter System…………………………………………..$1,439.67

New Porch including railings…………………………..$3,500.00

New Fascia and Trim…………………………………………$4,000.00

Paint entire exterior incl

new fascia and trim………………………………..$2,000.00

Remove overgrown vegetation……………………….$125.00


Faucet repairs……………………………………………………..$75.00

Water line repairs……………………………………………….$75.00


New tile in both kitchens installed…………………..$2,500.00


New windows for both sides, installed……………$5,676.13

New trim, caulk, and paint around

new windows……………………………………………$2,250.00

New storm door…………………………………………………..$300.00

Replace back door threshold on both sides…..$300.00

Estimated Time to Rehab………………………………….3 months

Actual Time to Rehab………………………………………..6.75 months

Total Rehab Cost…………………………………………………$25,115.80

You can see the new fascia, trim, and paint on the exterior of the home. The overgrown vegetation you see here will be resolved this week as one of the final tasks needed to put the home on regular home insurance.

Renting the Property

Thankfully, the property was already rented to solid tenants at closing, so there was rental income from day 1. The current tenants have leases through November of 2021 and January of 2022. They wisely renewed their leases once they heard the property was selling so they could lock in their current rate for another year! My property manager says that because of the work that has been done on the property, we will be able to raise rents $100-200 per side once the current leases are up. 

Current Total Monthly Rental income……………………$1,465

Estimated rental income once current 

leases are up……………………………………………………..$1,765

Total Rental Income from the first close to refi

(December 2020 – June 2021)………………………..$8,266

The Refinance

I worked with a mortgage broker to help me find a bank that would do an 80% LTV (loan to value) cash-out refinance with no seasoning period. This is a key component of the BRRRR strategy, because I wanted to pull as much capital out as possible and not have to wait 6 months for the loan to ‘season’. 

Property Appraisal……………..$161,000

Closing Costs………………………$1,994.44

Loan Term…………………………….20 years

Loan Interest Rate……………….4.75% (Fixed for 3 years, then variable)

Loan Principal………………………$128,942.44

Origination Fees………………….$2,848.00

Appraisal Fee……………………….$600.00

Monthly P&I…………………………$838.15

Total Capital Invested…………$8,365.80

You may have noticed there are a lot of fees and costs associated with these transactions. Real estate has high transaction costs relative to other goods and services. I paid a total of $7,645.46 in closing costs and origination fees for the initial purchase in December and the refinance the following June. This is important to keep in mind when analyzing potential deals. 

Private Money Lending

I used private money (a loan from an individual to another individual or entity) to fund the purchase price and rehab. I like this funding strategy because I’m able to provide value to the lender via interest income, and the lender makes a solid return on a low-risk deal. The loan is collateralized by the property itself, meaning that if I did not pay her back she would be able to take ownership of the property. 

Lending Costs


Interest rate……………10%

Lending Period……….6 months 23 days

Total Interest Paid….$6,750.00

So was this deal a home run, base hit, or strike out? Send me a message on Instagram @honorandequity or an email to and let me know!