My Favorite Books of 2020

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 doug@honorandequity.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 doug@honorandequity.com!

Oklahoma City: Progress Update

Photo credit: Justin Prine from unsplash.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. 

The Criteria

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). 

The Team

Photo Credit: Matteo Vistocco via unsplash.com

“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. 

Through one connection on Bigger Pockets, I was able to find a property management company, two deal finders, and a network of contractors. Amazing! I love Bigger Pockets.

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. 

The Tools

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. 

What’s Next?

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 doug@honorandequity.com if you want to connect!

What’s Holding You Back From Investing in Real Estate?

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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: 

  1. Capital (money)
  2. Knowledge
  3. Hustle

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.

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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). 

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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. 

Should You Join a Mastermind Group?

About one month into my Iraq deployment last year (2019), I got an email from a friend about a real estate-focused mastermind group for military members and veterans. I found this intriguing, as I had recently read the book Tribe of Millionaires by David Osborne and Pat Hiban (of the Gobundance mastermind) which outlines the benefits of a mastermind group via a fictional story. Surrounding myself with like-minded individuals of a similar background for the purpose of self-improvement sounded appealing to me. I’m always interested in bettering myself and learning more, so this seemed like a logical next step in my personal development. I told my friend that I was interested, but I wouldn’t start it until I came back from deployment. Fast forward a few months, and I submitted my application and joined the mastermind.

It’s been roughly 10 weeks since I started, so I thought I would give some insights into what it’s like being in a mastermind group. Members are divided into 5-6 person ‘squads’ who are encouraged to meet weekly to discuss highs and lows of the previous week, long-term goals, and short-term goals for the week ahead. One person gets to deep-dive into what they’re working on and any problems they’re facing. These are usually in the context of real estate and personal finance, but we discuss fitness goals and work problems as well. In addition, there are roughly twice-monthly webinars for the entire mastermind with more experienced speakers from different real estate backgrounds. These provide a tremendous amount of value because you can ask questions and interact with these individuals.  

So What Are the Benefits?

Accountability

This is a huge advantage to being in a mastermind group, and it pays off regularly. Once you are in a squad, you lay out all your goals – short term and long term. My squad helped me realize that I hadn’t set my goals high enough, so I made bigger goals. This reiterates the fact that we are only restricted by the limits we place on ourselves. I couldn’t see this fact myself, but these guys showed me that I could accomplish more.

When you outline your goals for the upcoming week, your squad members will follow up with you during the week and make sure you’re actually doing what you said you would do. Also, the beginning of the weekly meetings involves discussing if you met your goals from the previous week. Some of my past goals have been reading 50-100 pages per week of any book, exercising daily, and reading an article about real estate syndication every day. What good is a goal if there is no follow up to ensure it has been achieved?

Networking

“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” said Jim Rohn. Networking is probably the most substantial long-term benefit to a mastermind group. Our mastermind in particular has a good mix of beginners and more experienced real estate investors. Some are into lending, some fix-and-flip, some prefer the simple buy and hold strategy, and some do all of those! You also have a wide array of people with experience in different asset classes, such as single family homes, apartment buildings, self-storage, mobile home parks, and more. There seems to be a healthy combination of people looking for deals to invest in, and people with deals that need capital to get started.

Personal Development

Many people join masterminds because they have a good idea of what they need to do to get moving in the right direction, but they just need that bit of encouragement from like-minded individuals. It’s also a fantastic forum in which you can bounce ideas off of others. The group is diverse enough such that whatever problem you’re having, there’s probably someone else that has had a similar experience. Or they’ve read an article/book or listened to a podcast about it.

Is A Mastermind for You?

As with life in general, the more effort and time you put into your mastermind experience, the more you get out of it. Some members are more involved than others, and there is a direct correlation between time spent and value gained. On a similar note, the more you give the more you get. If you are willing to give to others (be it knowledge, time, or money) the universe will pay it back many times over. It’s also inherently rewarding to help others and see them grow. Though it is certainly not for everyone, I have personally enjoyed the mastermind experience so far, and will continue to participate as much as I can in the future.

Have you been in a mastermind group? Tell me your thoughts in the comments section below. Also, the War Room Real Estate Mastermind Group is always looking for military members and veterans who want to learn and grow and help others. Send me an email to learn more.

Creating A Legacy

My mom recently sent me an email about my grandparents and their approach to wealth and saving. She said at one point when her parents had a home and three children and two cars and a comfortable life, they decided they had everything they needed. From then on, all bonuses and extra money went into a savings account and into assets such as stocks and bonds. Christmas was generous but not over the top. They paid cash for all big expenses and lived well below their means. Family vacations were spent traveling to the Carolinas from Texas to visit relatives.

What was their goal? Why did they do this? They could have had much nicer cars and clothes and vacations. Their ability to live below their means and invest money wisely enabled them to pay for their children to attend college and for many of their grandchildren to do so as well. My mom expressed to me how grateful she is for this, despite not fully appreciating it at the time. My grandparents recognized that if they spent money intentionally, they would be able to create a legacy for their children and grandchildren. It’s not just the college tuition they paid for: they created a situation in which their children and grandchildren would not have to go into debt to pay for college, like so many people have today.

What do you want your legacy to look like? How do you want to be remembered? You don’t need children to inspire a legacy. You don’t need a lot of money either. It can be purely philanthropic, it can be a modest real estate portfolio, it can be art or books or even just journals or letters to friends and family. Your legacy should be authentic and true to who you are.

Something we should all do to build a simple legacy is strive to be a good person every day, treat others the way we want to be treated, and be generous with what time and money we have. These are modest things that can have an enormous impact on people in our lives. You don’t need a lot of money to be generous, to be good, or to treat others with respect.

Personally, I want to be able to spend as much time as possible with my future children and grandchildren, which is why my wife and I are so enthusiastic about acquiring real estate. We recognize this is a great way to build generational wealth. I believe that time is our most valuable commodity, and if we’re able to acquire enough passive income streams, we can spend more time with family and friends than we spend working and achieve this well before traditional retirement age. This takes sacrifice though. We have a high savings rate and forego buying many things others our age buy. We still go out to eat and go on vacations, but we are not impulsive with our money: we try to focus on needs not wants.

Our legacy is about more than real estate and passive income streams, though. We want to be generous with both time and money. My wife and I really enjoy parrots, and there are many of these birds in need of a good home. Some species have a lifespan of up to 80 years, so it’s common for them to have multiple owners during their lives. We have begun the process to start fostering some of these birds while other volunteers search for permanent homes. Also, this blog is a way that I personally try to give back to the military community through articles and discussions on personal finance and real estate. Financially, we donate to charities through the Federal Government’s Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), which is a fantastic way to find a cause that interests you, and be able to donate money automatically out of your paycheck (Federal employees only).

The concept of legacy creation can seem daunting and far-away, but there is no reason to delay. Start with a simple conversation with your spouse, or write your thoughts on your legacy in a journal. Every marathon begins with a single step, and legacy creation is no exception. Take action today. You’ll be glad you did.

Please share your thoughts on legacies in the comments below. Or if you would prefer, send me an email at doug@honorandequity.com and let me know your thoughts. Be sure to follow @honorandequity on Instagram as well.