Many real estate investors and small business owners wait too long to hire a CPA (Certified Public Accountant). By the time they realize they need help, they have created so many problems with their bookkeeping and accounting, that it ends up costing them much more to correct their mistakes than it would have cost to have a professional do it from the beginning.
While many people begrudge having to do their taxes, I never thought it was that bad when I only had one source of income. I always did the least expensive version of Turbo Tax where you pull up your W-2, punch in the numbers, submit it, and you get your refund deposit a week later. Easy day! Even after I purchased a primary residence, it was still pretty straightforward.
However, once I started renting out my Pensacola house on Airbnb and transitioned later in the year to long-term tenants, I realized my tax situation had become more complicated. I had to do more extensive research to make sure I did my taxes correctly. I considered hiring a CPA that year, but I was interested in learning about the process myself to better understand it. After some time spent researching, I did the taxes correctly and learned a lot about the tax benefits of real estate. However, I decided whenever I had more than one property to do the taxes for, I would hire a professional accountant.
Fast forward one year, and I owned a total of 3 properties by that time. I reached out to a mentor of mine – Stu Grazier of Storehouse 3:10 Ventures – and asked for his advice. He immediately recommended I hire a CPA. He referred me to his CPA – Linda Weygant of Clue Business Services. Thankfully, I kept solid bookkeeping records for all properties (in Google Sheets) which made it an easy transition. She charged me a very reasonable amount to do my personal taxes plus 3 rental properties. I was blown away at how professional she was and what a great value she provided.
Everyone has different comfort and proficiency levels when it comes to taxes, accounting, and bookkeeping. Some people should hire one even if they just have a W-2 job, while others may enjoy the process and want to do their taxes personally.
You Should Hire a Professional Accountant If…
You feel overwhelmed with the idea of taxes. Whether you’re a business/real estate owner or not, if you don’t think you can accurately report your taxes you should hire a professional. Taxes are a big deal and incorrectly reporting your taxes can have expensive consequences!
Your time is better spent doing other things. This is why I hired a CPA. I knew I could figure out how to do the taxes correctly, but I also knew that my time is better spent focusing on acquiring more real estate and growing the business than doing my own taxes and keeping up with the accounting throughout the year.
You have a complicated tax situation. Many people have tax situations that are so complicated, they should just hire a professional. Owning property or businesses in multiple states, varied income streams, and being notified by the IRS that you’re being audited are all great reasons to hire a professional.
You already pay a lot in taxes. If you are a high-income earner or have a high net worth, then a CPA can probably help you legally lower your taxes through creative strategies. The amount of money you will save on taxes is typically way higher than what you pay for the services of a tax professional.
Hopefully, these points have helped you decide if and when a CPA is right for you. I have frequently heard successful entrepreneurs and real estate investors say they wish they had hired a CPA earlier than they did. If you’re on the fence, I recommend talking with friends and family members who already have CPAs and get their opinions.
I hope you found value in this article! If you want to connect, please reach out to me on Instagram @honorandequity or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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!
When people find out that I do real estate investing in addition to my “9-5” as an active duty Naval officer, they tend to be surprised. It can definitely be challenging at times, and I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way. However, in order to reach my long-term goals, I know that investing in real estate in my free time is an absolute MUST.
I know there are a lot of fellow military members out there who have similar goals, but they just don’t know how to get started or what it will take to achieve those goals.
If you want to be successful in real estate while serving your country, starting with the right mindset is absolutely critical. There are also some practical steps you can take every day to make your goals become a reality.
Focus On Why
Having a strong ‘why’ is critical to achieving any goal, and real estate is no exception. Any journey worth taking will have significant obstacles along the way. Are you mentally strong enough to push through these obstacles and stay on the path to success? Your ‘why’ does not have to be limited to your business or personal life. I have strong ‘whys’ for both my personal life and for Honor and Equity.
For example, one of Honor and Equity’s long-term goals is to be able to provide free housing to veterans. I have no idea how H&E will achieve this, and it may take years to accomplish, but the only way H&E will not hit this goal is if I quit. When I hit obstacles, I just take a step back, take a deep breath, and think about how awesome it would be to help out veterans in need of a good home. It helps me re-focus on the big picture and on why I’m doing this.
If you are married, I highly recommend working on your personal ‘why’ together with your spouse. My wife and I have a long-term goal to completely replace our W-2 income with passive income from real estate and businesses by the time we’re both out of the Navy. This goal will give us the freedom to live where we want, spend more time with friends and family, and only do work that gives us a strong sense of purpose.
If you want to learn more about the value of a strong ‘why’, I go more in-depth in this article.
Your Network Determines Your Net Worth
Real estate is a team sport. There are simply too many elements in real estate investing to reasonably expect to do them all by yourself. Some of these elements include finding deals, closing deals, financing, project management, improving and repairing properties, finding tenants, managing tenants, and bookkeeping. If you try to do all of these yourself, you will likely fail.
If you are just getting started in real estate investing, the first thing I would do is join a mastermind group with a focus on real estate. In doing so, you will surround yourself with people much more experienced than you and will benefit from their experiences and wisdom. Real estate investors are highly motivated to help others! Don’t be afraid to ask for some advice.
You should also consider partnering with someone you trust when you’re getting started. Make sure your skill sets complement each other. If you are more of a numbers guy/gal and enjoy analyzing the deals and figuring out the financing, then you should partner with someone who excels at managing a project, communicating with vendors, and perhaps finding the deals.
Regardless of who you work with and what task you’re doing, make sure you are providing value to others. No one likes the person who only takes from others – be it time, money, or advice. I recommend adopting a generous mindset and focus on helping others however you can. It will come back to you!
Make the Most of the Time You Have
Juggling a full-time job such as a military career with real estate investing on the side is demanding, however, my Navy job always takes priority over anything real estate-related. Managing my time effectively is crucial, and it’s always something I’m trying to improve upon.
Something I have learned the hard way is: don’t try to do too much in one day or one week. The intensity of my work schedule ebbs and flows, so some weeks I have more free time to work on the business/real estate than other weeks. I’ve learned to adjust my weekly business goals to make them attainable based on my work schedule. The weeks I didn’t do this, I found myself overwhelmed and frustrated at the total workload. This is a marathon, not a sprint, so I have to constantly remind myself to adjust my weekly and daily goals to make them attainable and not overwhelming.
If you want to succeed at anything, you must take consistent, daily action. I started using a daily planner to help me be more consistent. Last summer, I used Brandon Turner’s Intention Journal, and while I enjoyed it, I have since transitioned to the Panda Planner Venture Edition. It is reasonably priced ($13 on Amazon), and has sections to write down business-focused elements such as your core purpose, core values, and long-term goals, in addition to quarterly, weekly, and daily to-do lists.
I wake up early every day (usually by 0530) to work on the business. This gives me a couple of hours each day to reply to emails, analyze properties, create content, or whatever I have prioritized for that day.
I use my daily planner to track not only business items, but also use it to make sure I exercise and read every day, and I use the notes section in the back to write down ideas, meeting notes, and more.
Bonus Tip: You Don’t Have to Live Where you Invest
This concept was first introduced to me by David Greene’s first book Long-Distance Real Estate Investing – one of my favorites. Once I realized that you don’t have to live where you invest, it opened my eyes to the endless opportunities available to investors. Most people believe they have to live in the same location they buy property. This is simply not true. Why do we feel the need to walk through a home before we buy it? Unless you’re a professional inspector or appraiser, this doesn’t add much value for a home you will never live in. People are uncomfortable buying a property they haven’t seen before, but are perfectly comfortable buying shares in a publicly-traded company they know almost nothing about.
If you are facing this mental hurdle, I challenge you to look past the emotional components of this limiting belief and try to think more logically about it. Read the aforementioned David Greene book, and connect with other investors who have overcome this mental hurdle. You’ll be glad you did!
I hope you enjoyed this article. If you’re interested in more real estate, personal finance, and investing insight, follow @honorandequity on Instagram and Facebook. If you want to connect, send me an email at email@example.com!
“You make your money when you buy,” says every savvy real estate investor. Buying the right property at the right price is such a crucial part of the investing process, and it can also be the most challenging, especially in a hot seller’s market like we have in American right now. So how do investors find deals? What’s the trick? Like many other areas in life, there is no easy button or magic sauce. It requires confidence, patience, and, most of all: persistence.
In the Oklahoma City market, I’m trying to acquire deals in multiple ways, and I’m always trying to improve my “deal funnel” via networking and technology. It’s incredibly challenging to find these deals when you don’t live in the market you invest in, but I promise it is possible.
Real Estate Agents
Utilizing an agent is the easiest and most common way for people to find properties. I found my first Oklahoma City property via my real estate agent. An owner approached her, saying he wanted $100,000 for his duplex. The agent recognized that the property fit my criteria and she sent it to me. It was a win all around: my agent made a commission on the deal, the seller got his asking price in cash, and I got a cash-flowing duplex with appreciation potential in an up-and-coming neighborhood. All of this was accomplished without the property ever going on the market!
However, many agents don’t seek out off-market deals because most of their clients aren’t investors.
What is an Off-Market Deal?
An off-market property is a property for sale that is not listed on the MLS (multiple listing service). Why would someone sell their home directly to a wholesaler or investor rather than listing it through a real estate agent? Many of these homes have been neglected or abandoned for years and wouldn’t qualify for a conventional mortgage. So if they tried to sell the house on the MLS, many people wouldn’t be interested because their bank will not finance a home in below-average condition. The owners of these properties may be people that can’t afford to update the houses, or maybe the home was owned by a parent that recently passed away, and the surviving family members don’t want to deal with the home. Major life events are frequently the catalyst for someone needing to sell a house quickly.
People also sell to wholesalers and investors because they are likely to get cash for the property. When you purchase a property in cash, it usually means the closing process will be much shorter because you don’t have a bank getting involved with a lengthy due diligence period, inspections, and appraisals. Investors usually have lines of credit or private lenders providing the funds to pay cash for these properties.
Wholesalers are the true hustlers of the real estate world. When you see “We Pay Cash For Your House” signs around a neighborhood, they were probably put up by a wholesaler. When you get text messages and phone calls and postcards from people wanting to buy your house, they’re probably coming from a wholesaler or one of his/her employees. Wholesalers find off-market properties owned by “motivated sellers,” put the property under an assignable contract, and sell the deal to real estate investors.
I’m on email lists for many different wholesalers in the OKC area. It’s a great way to find off-market properties that need some improvement, but you have to be very careful. Many wholesalers will overestimate what a property is worth once it’s improved and underestimate the amount of work it needs. As a result, wholesalers have a bad reputation in many markets. This deception is why it’s essential to have a good relationship with wholesalers and only work with the honest ones who will give truthful assessments of the property’s condition. I do not rely on the wholesaler’s estimate of a property’s worth once repaired. Instead, I have practiced analyzing properties on my own to get an accurate estimate of the property’s value. My real estate agent helps me with this value estimation, and she also tells me how much rent I can expect to receive each month.
Organic Deal Funnel
When I first started looking for properties in Oklahoma City, I quickly realized the properties for sale on the MLS were priced much too high for my strategy. I needed off-market properties owned by motivated sellers, which led me first to wholesalers (since real estate agents don’t typically have much access to off-market deals). Eventually, I realized that I needed to create my own deal funnel. After researching and having conversations with successful wholesalers, I hired a virtual assistant in the Philippines to cold-call property owners and ask if they wanted to sell any of their properties. This process was expensive and didn’t yield many leads at all.
After some more research, I learned that SMS (text message) marketing was becoming a very effective way to reach more motivated sellers. Many people do not answer calls from numbers they don’t know, but people are much more likely to read a short text message even from an unknown number.
One of my wholesaler contacts told me about a marketing software platform called REIReply. This software allows you to reach out to potential sellers using SMS, ringless voicemail, cold-calling email, Facebook messenger, and more for a flat monthly rate of $49 (which is way less than I was spending before!). Since signing up for REIReply two months ago, I have gotten one property under contract and have acquired many quality leads! I will continue to use REIReply as my primary source of lead generation. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about REIReply.
Ultimately, I want deals to be brought to me by people in my network. Brandon Turner (of Bigger Pockets fame) is an excellent example of this concept. He started Open Door Capital, which purchases mobile home parks via syndication deals. Brandon has a massive Instagram following and uses that audience to bring in leads for mobile home parks. I’ve talked to real estate investors who have reached high-levels of success, and when I ask how they find deals, many reply, “People bring deals to me.”
I will achieve this by continuing to grow my real estate network and provide as much value as I can. If someone in my network hears someone else talk about real estate in OKC, I want them to think about me and connect me with those people. So if you know of anyone who owns property in Oklahoma City they may wish to sell, please let me know!
I hope you enjoyed this article. Please follow @honorandequity on Instagram and reach out to me via email at email@example.com. I love connecting with new people and chatting about real estate!
After months of searching for homes that fit my criteria, I finally closed on my first property in Oklahoma City on December 10, 2020. I plan to BRRRR (Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat) this property, which is currently in the rehab phase as of February 2021. Below, I’ve provided an update on the property itself, rehab progress (spoiler alert: this one is slow-going), and what I have learned so far.
The Property and How I Found It
The property is a 1300 square foot, 2 bedroom 2 bathroom duplex located in the growing Northwest side of Oklahoma City. My agent, Abbie Davis, actually presented this property to me while it was off-market. Abbie and her husband own a property management company called The Property Center in OKC, and one of their clients reached out to Abbie saying he wanted to sell this property for $100,000. His property was already rented for $695 per side per month with solid tenants. Thankfully, Abbie reached out to me after recognizing that this property would be a great fit for my OKC strategy.
Here are the numbers as we estimated them before putting the property under contract:
Purchase Price: $100,000
After Repair Value (conservative estimate): $156,000
Repairs (mostly cosmetic): $20,000
Time required to make repairs: 3 months
Total Monthly Rent: $1450 total (both sides plus pet fees). Once repairs are complete, property would rent for $1650-1850 total
As mentioned, the property was already rented out and cash-flowing, and since the repairs were mostly cosmetic and on the exterior of the property, we felt confident that we could keep the tenants in place while making the repairs.
After we put the property under contract at the seller’s asking price, we proceeded with a thorough inspection. The inspector confirmed that the repair costs would be very close to our original estimate of $20,000. I’ve always heard that rehabs regularly go over budget and take longer to complete than you think, so I made a mental note estimating the rehab would be closer to $25,000 and would take 3 months.
How I Funded the Deal
I had finally found the property – now, I needed to come up with $100,000 cash to buy it. Thankfully, I had already been telling friends and family about what I was doing in Oklahoma City and sharing my journey via Instagram (@honorandequity), so I had a few different people already expressing interest in lending money to the LLC. My sister-in-law reached out and said she would 100% be on board lending the money. I contacted a real estate attorney in Oklahoma City to help draw up the contract and promissory note to make it all legitimate. She wired the money directly to the title company in time for closing and that was it! Honor and Equity’s first OKC property was in the books.
My sister-in-law also agreed to fund the rehab (which we estimated at $20,000-$25,000) and we worked that verbiage into the contract. I felt pretty confident the rehab would go over $20,000, and I decided I would just fund any additional repairs out of my own pocket.
The Molasses Rehab
If you want to get started on a rehab immediately after closing on a property, don’t buy it right before the Christmas holidays in the middle of a worldwide pandemic! The rehab, already moving like molasses, was slowed down even more by the coldest weather Oklahoma City has seen in over 100 years!
Before I get into the rehab specifics, I want to say that I’ve been working with some fantastic people at The Property Center. This is the property management company I use, and they have been kind enough to let me work directly with their folks who handle the maintenance coordination for the properties they manage. Paul and Sally at TPC have been the project managers on this rehab, including scheduling estimates, coordinating dates and times of the estimates with the tenants, and providing me progress updates, pictures, and confirmation that the work has been completed. As an out-of-state investor, I would not be able to do this strategy without great people like this to help me out!
In order to figure out the must-do items of the rehab, I reached out to my local insurance agent Shane Jones at State Farm in Oklahoma City. He looked over the inspection report and told me which items I would have to fix in order for State Farm to insure the property. I passed this info along to Paul and Sally at TPC. I then chatted with Paul, Abbie Davis, and Eli Davis to determine what cosmetic repairs to make. We sent that info out to a few different companies to provide estimates and decided on a handyman company they had worked with before.
Here’s a list of most of the repairs:
-New porch decking and handrails
-Exterior Fascia and Trim
-Paint exterior of home, including new fascia, window trim, and porch
-New kitchen tile
-Remove overgrown vegetation
-Install new front door on one unit
-Faucet repairs in bathroom
-New Gutter system
A single company has done a majority of the work, whereas the windows will be completed by a window specialist, and the gutter system will be completed by a separate company as well.
When we got the first estimate for the window repair, the company told us it would be a 6-week delay at a MINIMUM to get the windows delivered. This was due to the COVID pandemic affecting worldwide supply chains, especially for home improvement items. I’m guessing this is because lots of people have been improving their homes over the last year, and many of these supplies come from China.
To make matters even worse, in February Oklahoma City saw some extremely cold weather. Because of this, they couldn’t work on the paint and they couldn’t install the gutters until the weather got back above freezing. The city saw below-freezing temps for about 2 total weeks!
Now that temperatures are back to normal in OKC, we’re making more progress. The biggest delay now is the windows, which still haven’t arrived. Once the windows are installed, the handyman company will update the trim and paint around the windows and most of the work will be complete by that time. We will do a final walkthrough to address minor issues, and then we’ll be on to the appraisal and refinance portion of the BRRRR process.
Lessons Learned So Far
You must have fantastic people on your team! I already knew this one, but the process so far has just reinforced it. If I did not have Paul and Sally at TPC to help project manage this, I would be in a real bind. Also, Abbie and Eli have been extremely helpful with advice on what work to do and what not to do, based on the condition of the home and the neighborhood.
The rehab will take longer than you think! Thankfully, I had always heard this on BiggerPockets episodes so I knew to expect it – and it is definitely true. The holidays, combined with COVID, compounded by super cold weather have caused the project to take at least twice as long as it would have otherwise. Typically, these longer rehab times would really annoy an investor like myself since I’m paying high-interest rates, but the money is going to my sister-in-law! So the longer the rehab goes, the more money she makes and at least we’re keeping it in the family!
Take Action! Investing from out of state can be stressful. I’m not able to personally see these properties before putting in offers. I’m not able to evaluate all of these contractors in person, and I’m not able to personally inspect the work. This would paralyze many people into inaction. You have to trust your team and accept that you will make mistakes along the way. It’s much better to take action, make a mistake, learn from it, and move on than to be completely paralyzed and do nothing. Successful people take massive action!
I hope you enjoyed this article. Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments below, and make sure you follow @honorandequity on Instagram! Feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Reading is one of my all-time favorite activities. In 2020 I read a total of 44 books, and I thought I would share my favorite non-fiction books from last year, in no particular order. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these books and your recommendations for new books I should read. Please send me a message on Instagram (@honorandequity) or send me an email at email@example.com!
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
Phil Knight, Nike’s founder, goes back to Nike’s beginnings in Oregon before Nike was the world’s leading fitness apparel company. Autobiographies are one of my favorite book genres. Especially about successful entrepreneurs, and this one delivers. It’s comforting to hear about how difficult his journey was and how many obstacles he overcame to find success. The book focuses on his upbringing, ups and downs as a collegiate athlete, and Nike’s early years. I would love for Mr. Knight to write a second installment covering Nike from the 1990s to the present day. This book is a must-read for any entrepreneur.
Atomic Habits by James Clear
I’ve read many books in the ‘personal development’ genre, and I’ve found that most of them are just two or three concepts spread out over 300 pages. Atomic Habits is not one of those books. James Clear provides some excellent insight into how habits work and he provides actionable steps you can implement immediately to get more done and improve your life. If you have big goals for 2021, start with this one so you can implement some healthy habits right off the bat.
Total Recall by Arnold Schwarzenegger
Did you know that Arnold was a millionaire from real estate investing before he became a famous actor? Did you know that he was a tank operator for the Austrian Army before moving to America? I didn’t either! Total Recall is one of the best autobiographies I’ve ever read, mostly because Arnold has lived an extraordinary life thanks to his super-human ambition and persistence. This book is a case study in setting enormous, crazy goals and working extremely hard to achieve them.
Wealth Can’t Wait by David Osborn
David Osborn is a badass. He’s made a gazillion dollars from real estate, and he’s a co-founder of Gobundance – an organization of dudes who “grab life big” and are obsessed with improving all aspects of their lives. David does a great job of stressing the importance of getting your personal finances squared away, putting your money in places that will make you more money, and focusing on passive investments so you can live your life. He spoke to our mastermind group via Zoom earlier this year. When he dialed into the call, he was playing golf in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, with his wife, just dropping insightful pearls of wisdom on life and business while teeing off and driving around in a golf cart. It was inspiring! He wasn’t sitting at his desk grinding out 80 hour work weeks – his life is set up to make a ton of money passively so he could do whatever the hell he wanted. Wealth Can’t Wait is a must-read book for anyone who doesn’t want to be an employee their entire life.
Open by Andre Agassi
I’m not a big tennis guy at all, but when I researched “best autobiographies,” this one was on nearly every list – and for a good reason! Andre Agassi is an extremely accomplished professional tennis player who retired only a few years ago. Open is the story of how a regular kid from middle-class Las Vegas became one of the world’s best players. It goes into great detail about growing up on the junior tennis tournament circuit and all the struggles of being a professional athlete. If you’re a tennis fan, you’ll especially love it, because he describes many of his tennis matches in great detail, how he prepared for them, his emotions during the game, and how he dealt with both success and failure afterward.
Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat by David Greene
I have recommended David Greene’s first book Long-Distance Real Estate Investing, more often than any other real estate book, and his second book blew me away even more than the first. Multiple times during the book, I thought to myself, “why isn’t everyone doing this strategy?!” If you have spent any time in the Bigger Pockets universe, you will probably be familiar with this real estate strategy. If you’re not familiar with it, and you have any interest at all in real estate, you must pick up this book today. It’s a phenomenal strategy for long-term wealth generation that I am currently using to grow my portfolio. Here’s the gist: buy a property that needs some work for well below market value, fix it up, rent it out, do a cash-out refinance to a long-term mortgage, repeat!
The Millionaire Real Estate Investor by Gary Keller
“Anyone can do it. Not everyone will.” If I could only recommend a single real estate book, it would be this one. Gary Keller (founder of Keller Williams Realty) has had enormous success in real estate, so he has a lot of wisdom to impart to the reader. In this book, he hits many important macro concepts and addresses many different strategies people have used to become wealthy. He also talks about how crucial it is to have a great team, build systems, continually strive to improve yourself, always do the right thing and many other vital concepts for wealth creation via real estate. One of my favorite takeaways from this book is from the section on building your network. He recommends asking two questions when you chat with real estate professionals: “Who do you know that I should know?” and “What would you do if you were me?” I try to ask these questions whenever I’m chatting with someone who knows more than I do about real estate – which is almost all the time!
I hope you enjoyed this article. Make sure you follow me on Instagram @honorandequity, and if you would like to connect, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
What a year! I started 2020 in Iraq – halfway through a 6-month deployment. Neighboring Iran attacked our base with ballistic missiles, which was a significant moment in U.S./Middle East relations. The COVID pandemic soon overshadowed the attack. Thankfully the pandemic didn’t delay our return from deployment in late March, but we came back to a very different America.
I was excited about not having to go to work for the first month or so after returning. This freedom meant more time to read, relax, and spend time with my soon-to-be-wife, Caitlin. I enjoy reading, but I was voraciously consuming books, sometimes reading over 100 pages per day with all that downtime. We had planned to be married on May 9th in Miami (we live in San Diego), but like many people in 2020, we had to adjust our life plans. We were married here in San Diego, with only a few family members in attendance. It wasn’t the wedding we expected, but it was pretty fantastic, to be honest. Getting married to Caitlin was, without a doubt, the happiest and most significant moment of the year for me.
Joining A Mastermind Group
The second most significant moment was when I decided to join a real estate mastermind group for military members and veterans. A friend and mentor named Stuart Grazier (of Storehouse 3:10 Ventures) co-founded the War Room mastermind with David Pere (From Military to Millionaire). I was inspired to join a mastermind group after reading “Tribe of Millionaires,” an allegorical book produced by the founders of Gobundance outlining the benefits of joining a mastermind. (Check out my article about mastermind groups here). Being surrounded by motivated individuals with goals that align with yours is critical for personal growth. I started virtually meeting active duty service members who own multiple properties – and not just single-family homes; I’m talking apartment complexes, RV parks, and mobile home parks. I thought, “Wow, I need to up my game!” So I did.
I distinctly remember a post that Stuart Grazier made in our War Room Facebook group in which he challenged everyone to create a ‘thought leadership platform.’ This platform could be a blog, a YouTube channel, a Twitter account – basically any medium through which you can talk about your journey and experiences in real estate. I knew this was something I had to do, so I took action and created Honor and Equity, a personal finance and real estate blog for military members, veterans, and their families. I didn’t know how to design a logo, start a website, create content, or dance in TikTok videos, but I figured it out (minus the TikTok vids!) with the help of family, friends, and fellow War Room members. I’ve always enjoyed talking with anyone who will listen about personal finance, investing, and real estate. The platform would help me share what I have learned with others and document my journey.
Investing in Oklahoma City
I try to connect with a different War Room member every week because each person has a unique military and investing background. I enjoy hearing about what everyone is working on and what they have done in the past. One of these conversations inspired me in a significant way. Michael Barnhart is an active duty Navy officer like myself currently stationed in England. He told me about how he and his wife were aggressively pursuing real estate in the Midwest utilizing the BRRRR strategy (Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat – a must-read book by David Greene, by the way). This conversation was my lightbulb moment: if this guy is doing the BRRRR method from England, why am I not doing something similar from San Diego? Almost immediately, I started researching markets and eventually decided on Oklahoma City (check out my article about why I decided on OKC). I re-read Long-Distance Real Estate Investing by David Greene and read his BRRRR book while carefully putting together a team of real estate professionals in OKC to help me achieve my goals.
Progress has been slow, but I write down my goals every day to stay focused and stay in the right mindset. We finally closed on the first property – a duplex – on December 11th, and everything is going smoothly so far. The home is already rented and needs mostly exterior cosmetic work. We are going to do all the rehab work with the tenants in place and the work should be complete in January/February after which we will do a cash-out refinance. My goal is to acquire two OKC properties per quarter, so if you know of anyone involved in real estate in Oklahoma City, send me a message! I post updates occasionally via the @honorandequity Instagram page, so make sure you’re following to get the most up to date information.
Beyond OKC, we also own a single-family home (SFH) in Pensacola, and we just closed on our third SFH in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We closed on this home in Milwaukee and the duplex in OKC within about 4 days of each other, which doubled the total number of doors we own (3 doors to 6 doors)! Back in April of this year, we invested in a mobile home park (MHP) syndication in Cañon City, Colorado (check out the article here). My favorite part about that MHP investment is I know about half of the other investors (who are also on active duty). The team who put the deal together is led by a husband and wife team (both Army veterans). You may have noticed a theme with my network: I like to work with fellow military folks! I think that someone with 10+ years of service in the military tends also to be someone you can trust that communicates well and has grit and integrity – the same type of person with which you want to invest.
The Milwaukee turnkey properties we own are performing better than expected (thanks Storehouse 3:10 Ventures!), and I hired a new property management company back in May, which was a fantastic decision. The Pensacola property is the star-performer, though: of the properties we own, it has the highest cash-on-cash return and has appreciated the most since it was purchased in 2016.
Honor and Equity in 2021
H&E has grown a lot since its inception in the summer of 2020, and we will experience substantial growth in 2021. This growth is driven by a desire to help fellow military members and veterans in their personal finance and investing journey. One of my favorite parts about doing this is connecting with people, so if you want to connect or know someone who might want to, please reach out!
Grow Honor and Equity via the creation of content designed to inspire and educate others within the scope of personal finance, real estate, and investing.
Grow our portfolio in OKC via flips and BRRRR’s. Partner with others to scale and expand with the long-term goal of providing investment opportunities to other military members and veterans.
Thanks for reading this article! Please send me a message on Instagram @honorandequity or send me an email at email@example.com!
Nearly three months ago I decided to start investing in Oklahoma City (OKC). I’ve learned a lot and made a lot of progress since the L.L.C. was established in OKC on August 24th, 2020, so I decided to write an article and update everyone.
I decided to focus on the northwest side of OKC because that area has the right balance of good schools, affordable property, appreciation potential, and cash flow. It’s also a large enough area to offer a good supply of homes. Within the northwest OKC sub-region, I rely on my team’s local knowledge to ensure a potential property is in a C or better location.
My focus is on single-family homes and duplexes, with 2 or 3 bedrooms, 1 or more bathrooms, and some value-add potential. I’m not looking for a full rehab on my first few properties, but I want a property that needs some cosmetic work at least. Ideally, the properties would qualify for conventional financing which should weed out most regular home-buyers. The goal is to find properties to BRRRR (Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat), but I’m also considering flips as well to help fund the business. I’ve learned marketing can get pretty costly so a flip here and there will help pay for those expenses!
I’m looking for properties that will cost no more than $150,000 including the purchase price and rehab. Most cosmetic rehabs for the homes that meet my criteria will run $15,000-$25,000 (roughly $20 per square foot).
“Bring people along with you. No matter how smart your strategy, success, or failure usually comes down to one thing: the team.” Those wise words by Indra Noori, former Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, capture the importance of having a great team around you no matter what you’re trying to achieve. Real estate is no exception, so I spent weeks researching, interviewing, and vetting key members of my real estate team.
The Bigger Pockets forum was the best way to find people. One of the key finds was when a local OKC real estate investor named Alyssa suggested I contact Eli Davis at The Property Center in OKC, a property management company. I set up a call with Eli (an Army veteran) and had a great conversation discussing what his company does, the local market, and much more. He told me that they not only have an impressive property management operation, but they have great relationships with local contractors whom I could use to do the rehabs on my properties. Also, his wife Abbie is a real estate agent who could help me find deals, AND he knows a great wholesaler. I did my due diligence by following up with all of the references he provided and checking out TPC’s online reviews and website.
On the financial side, I’ve made a few contacts with commercial (a.k.a. hard money) lenders to help fund the deals. They can provide the capital for both the purchase price and rehab very quickly, but that convenience comes with high fees. I learned that I can save thousands of dollars per deal by going with private money instead. I reached out to my network of friends and family and was pleased to find that as many as half a dozen people would be interested in lending me the necessary capital for deals! This was a big win, as it means people believe in me and the process. I also love that I’m able to provide a great return to these people and help them make money!
A mentor of mine recommended I reach out to a title company in OKC to make sure I have the private lending documentation squared away before I do the first deal. Each state has different paperwork requirements for private lending. I reached out to my OKC network and found a title company that said they would draft the necessary paperwork whenever I do the first deal with private money. This is another huge plus to having a great network! The last thing I want is trying to figure out the right documents to use in a hurry with someone who is trusting me with a large sum of money!
The final key member of my team is one that may surprise you. I used Upwork.com to hire a virtual assistant in the Philippines to handle most of the marketing. I pull lists of properties from Propstream (software that pulls MLS data on properties) and she cold calls the owners asking if they want to sell. I’m currently working on a plan to send text messages to these owners as well since most people don’t answer calls from numbers they don’t know.
I have started using 4 key software tools since starting this process:
Upwork – Upwork.com is a freelancing platform that connects enterprises and individuals in order to conduct business. I used Upwork to find Lexi, my virtual assistant who specializes in real estate cold calling. I also used Upwork to find the social media management team that creates some of Honor and Equity’s social media content on Facebook and Instagram.
smrtPhone – smrtPhone.io is a dialing and text messaging software that allows you to call and text people within your web browser. I created an account and gave access to Lexi. She spends about 20 hours per week calling and texting people who own homes in OKC that fit my criteria. My favorite part about smrtPhone is that it syncs well with Podio, another critical tool I use every day.
Podio – Podio is a web-based platform for organizing team communication, business processes, data, and content in project management workspaces. Podio has been invaluable for staying organized. Lexi has access to Honor and Equity’s Podio workspace, and she is able to do her cold-calling and text messaging directly from Podio because it syncs with smrtPhone. For example, I upload potential sellers into Podio, including their name, mailing address, phone number, property address, etc., and Lexi can go straight to that contact in Podio and call them from Podio with one click. It’s pretty awesome.
Propstream – Propstream is Zillow on steroids. It’s a real estate data aggregator that provides up-to-date information on mortgages, tax liens, property ownership, plus everything else you can find on Zillow or Trulia like square footage, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms for a given property, recent sale information for an area, and lots more.
As of the publishing of this article, I have submitted 5 total offers on properties in OKC, and one was finally accepted just a few days ago. I will send the earnest money this week and begin the due diligence process. Follow @honorandequity on Instagram to see the progress! Supply is overall very low in OKC due to a super hot seller’s market, but I’m continuing to analyze properties, fine-tune my systems, and improve my deal funnel. I believe there will be more properties up for sale soon as the forbearance period ends and the COVID pandemic becomes more under control. I think 2021 will be a fantastic year for real estate in OKC, and Honor and Equity is poised to capitalize on these opportunities!
Thanks for reading! Make sure you follow @honorandequity on Instagram and send me a message there or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to connect!
Before I bought my first investment property in 2018, I thought real estate investing was only for the extremely wealthy. I envisioned a real estate investor as someone like Donald Trump buying massive apartments and office buildings next to skyscrapers in New York City and other large metropolitan areas.
It wasn’t until I started listening to the Bigger Pockets podcast that I realized normal people like myself were not only real estate investors, they were crushing it! I learned you didn’t have to be wealthy, you didn’t have to come from a real estate family, and you didn’t even have to live where you invest!
Millions of people have preconceived notions about what it takes to invest in real estate, just like I did. Combine those notions with a scarcity mindset, a desire to stay within your comfort zone, and the lack of a defined ‘why’, and it’s no wonder why more people aren’t real estate investors.
But this doesn’t have to be you. You can invest in real estate.
A limiting belief is a conviction or state of mind that keeps us from achieving something. What are some limiting beliefs that keep people from investing in real estate?
Limiting Belief #1: I Don’t Have A Lot of Money, So I Can’t Invest in Real Estate
If you talk to enough real estate investors or listen to real estate podcasts, you’ll hear stories of people that have created large portfolios and have become millionaires after starting their journey with almost nothing. They didn’t make excuses – they decided on a goal and took action to achieve it.
Brandon Turner, an experienced investor and host of the Bigger Pockets real estate podcast, talks about three things that have to exist for a deal to work:
You don’t personally need to have all three – or even two – to get going on your first deal. You only need one. Maybe you don’t have the money or the knowledge, but you have the hustle and time to get out into neighborhoods and find deals. There are always real estate investors looking for great deals (myself included). If you can drive around a neighborhood and look for vacant properties with overgrown lawns, then you can get started in real estate investing.
If you have some knowledge and some hustle but you just need some capital to get going, there are lots of people out there that want to invest in real estate but don’t have the time or desire to get started in real estate. If you present them a great deal and show them you can successfully turn the deal into a successful BRRRR/Flip, they will likely lend you the money you need to get the deal off the ground.
Limiting Belief #2: My Market is Too Expensive, So I Can’t Invest in Real Estate
For those of you that have this mindset, open a new tab on your browser right now, go to amazon, and purchase “Long-Distance Real Estate Investing” by David Greene. This book opened my eyes to the concept of living where you want to live (or where the military tells you to live!) and investing where the numbers make sense.
I live in San Diego and home prices here are ridiculous, so I invest in the Midwest and the South/Southeast where the home prices are a fraction of what they cost in Southern California. You can also get a much better return on your money because the homes cash flow so well! For example, one of my Milwaukee properties rents for $1250/month and my mortgage payment is $544! Its very difficult to find that much difference between rent and your mortgage payment in Southern California and other expensive markets.
Limiting Belief #3: I Don’t Know How to Invest in Real Estate!
This is the worst excuse of them all because there is so much free information available to anyone with an internet connection. We all consume information differently, and thankfully there is a wealth of information across all formats.
-Books! This is my favorite way to consume information. I wrote an article highlighting my favorite real estate books, which you can read here. I recently finished David Greene’s BRRRR book (Buy Rehab Rent Refinance Repeat) so it is not in that article, but it’s probably my favorite real estate book!
-Podcasts! This is my second favorite way to consume information. Bigger Pockets has a few fantastic podcasts all about real estate and personal finance. The original BP podcast is real estate focused as you would imagine, the new BP Rookie podcast is designed for beginners, and the BP Money podcast is more personal finance oriented. Check out the article I wrote about my favorite podcasts here.
-YouTube! Historically, I’m not a big consumer of real estate/personal finance info via YouTube, but I have been watching a lot more videos recently. YouTube has fantastic content with experts who will walk you step by step through the ins and outs of all things real estate. Want to see how to analyze a deal? There are a thousand videos showing you how to do it. How does real estate financing work? There are experienced lenders with videos walking you through the whole process.
In addition to books, podcasts, and YouTube, there are countless blog articles and forums not only with the information you’re seeking, but with people who are eager to help others get started in real estate (like myself).
So what’s keeping you from taking that first step and investing in real estate? Is it fear? Is it lack of knowledge? If you know you want to do it, but you just need someone to kick you in the ass and get you motivated, I highly recommend joining a mastermind group. If you are active duty, a reservist, or a veteran, check out the War Room real estate mastermind here. It’s a fantastic group of people all involved in real estate in some capacity. We hold each other accountable for our goals, bounce ideas off of each other, and do 2-3 webinars per month with speakers, Q&A sessions, and more. Reach out to me at doug@honorandequity to learn more!
If you enjoyed this article, please share with a friend! Make sure you follow @honorandequity on Instagram to see personal finance and real estate investing content designed for military and veterans.
About a month ago, I was having a conversation with a guy in my mastermind group. He lives in England and was in the process of doing his first BRRRR (Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat) in Iowa. Up until this point, my real estate goal had been to purchase 1-2 single family homes per year via turnkey properties. When I learned this guy was living in England and had put together a team to invest in Iowa, I thought: why am I not doing this? The lightbulb moment. This is the beauty of a mastermind group – you are inspired to do more than you thought you could because others around you are crushing it. You don’t want to be left behind!
After the conversation, my mind was whirring with the thought of
putting together my own team and buying distressed properties, rehabbing them, renting them out, and refinancing to get my capital back. Why was I not doing this already? Am I an idiot for not doing this already? No, but needless to say I was motivated.
Where would I invest? I own properties in Milwaukee, WI and Pensacola, FL and I like those markets, but I also like the concept of geographic diversification. I would need to find a market with solid cash flow, room for appreciation, while also landlord-friendly. What other factors would I consider? I bought my first in Pensacola because I was stationed there, and I lucked out because it ended up being a great market. I bought in Milwaukee (and will buy a third property there this year) because thats where Storehouse 3:10 Ventures operates their fantastic turnkey model. But where to invest next? I turned to the most reliable source for real estate information: BiggerPockets.com.
Learning About Real Estate Markets
I started reading member blogs and forum posts about choosing a market, and I went back and listened to older podcast episodes that discussed markets. The best source for this info ended up being the articles within BP Insights: the area of BiggerPockets reserved for Pro and Plus members. (Oh yeah, I also purchased a Pro membership because I wanted access to as much top level real estate info I could get my hands on!)
These articles discussed things I had not yet considered such as population growth, rent to income ratios, and rental growth. I knew I wanted to avoid the coasts, as price points tend to be higher there. I wanted a large, diverse city not reliant on any single industry. After significant research into markets all over the country and conversations with more experienced investors in my mastermind, I decided on the market: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Why Oklahoma City?
OKC has been aggressively investing in itself since the early 1990s. Before then, the city was struggling because it was so reliant on the oil and gas industry. In 1993, the city approved what would be the first iteration of the MAPS (Metropolitan Area Projects), a visionary new capital improvement initiative designed to create and improve sports and recreation facilities, schools, cultural centers, and much more.1 The initiative was so successful, more MAPS were proposed and approved over the last three decades, resulting in the fourth iteration of MAPS which was approved last year.
These programs have brought businesses, people, and JOBS to the area. If you’re looking for a healthy real estate market to invest in, these are the metrics you want to see. OKC has created an increasingly desirable city for businesses and people to migrate to.
Oklahoma City Is Not Reliant on a Single Industry
Everyone knows the Detroit story: it was completely dependent on the automobile industry, and when those companies struggled, Detroit struggled too. The oil and gas industry has always had a big presence in Oklahoma City, but it is no longer the only show in town. Thanks to a friendly business environment, OKC continues to attract businesses from various industries. The Aviation and Aerospace industry makes up the largest sector in both employment and economic impact.2 The other major private sector economic contributors include Bioscience, Energy, Healthcare, and Manufacturing.
The local economy is further buoyed by federal employers including the Federal Avation Administration, and two local Military bases. These make up roughly 20% of the local jobs.3
Without businesses and jobs, you can’t have tenants. OKC has a diversified economy supported by a welcoming and friendly business environment, which has directly contributed to an influx of jobs and people seeking an affordable place to call home.
Homes are Affordable in Oklahoma City
The state of Oklahoma has the nation’s 4th lowest median home value. Oklahoma City’s median home value is $158,3374 which is significantly lower than the national average of $295,300. This means you can purchase investment properties for much cheaper than other markets around the country. Also, many properties in B and C class neighborhoods in Oklahoma City meet the 1% rule, which means the property’s monthly rent is 1% or more of the purchase price (for example, a home that sells for $100,000 and rents for $1000 per month meets the 1% rule).
OKC has a Healthy Rent-to-Income (RTI) Ratio
RTI is a lesser known but useful metric for a market’s overall health.5 To determine a market’s RTI, you simply divide the city’s median rent by the median income. Housing experts recommend individuals spend no more than 30% of their income on rent, and you’ll see many property managers using a number around 30% when evaluating if a prospective tenant can afford to rent a particular property.
For example, New York City has an extremely high cost of living, and boasts a 68% RTI. That means many people are spending around 68% of their income on rent! Oklahoma City, on the other hand, has a much healthier RTI of 21%. It’s an extremely affordable place to live which is a big reason why so many people are migrating there from higher cost of living parts of the country.
Oklahoma City is Landlord-Friendly
Landlord-Tenant law in Oklahoma CIty favors landlords. If a tenant fails to pay rent, or is involved in illegal activity on the property, the landlord must provide a 5-day notice to pay or vacate. Once that period is over, the landlord can file an eviction which is usually a 7-day process (under normal, non-COVID circumstances).
This is a factor many investors don’t consider before buying property in states like California. You are much more likely to have “professional” tenants in tenant-friendly states who know they can live for free in a property for 6 months or more before the courts catch up to them.
Many people turn their noses up when places like Oklahoma and other “flyover states” are mentioned, but states in the South and Midwest can be fantastic locations to invest your money!
Do you think Oklahoma City is a good place to invest? Send me a message at email@example.com to discuss more, and make sure you follow @honorandequity on Instagram!