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5yrs later, at 33 I've got a multi million dollar business

Discussion in 'General Entrepreneur Discussion' started by BrandonS85, Jan 26, 2019.

  1. BrandonS85
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    BrandonS85 Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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    And at least trying to throw up everything I can on my non monetized YouTube channel.


    View: https://youtu.be/AaiiecbFCNY



    I posted this elsewhere but figured I'd share my 5+ year ongoing story of buying rental properties to encourage members here.

    • Personal Background
    Most of my childhood was spent growing up inside a tenant house on a large farm south of Columbus Ohio. We moved into there when I was about 6 years old as our landlord on the previous house would not sell it to my dad on a land contract. Something he always hated, and the mostly-falling apart farmhouse was all my parents could find after being handed a 30 day notice.

    The house had holes in the walls, no insulation but it did have a nice big cast iron wood burning stove so we didn't freeze to death in the winter.

    During my teenage years between playing video games, I managed to start (And fail) with an online paintball store. My brother and I tried between ages 15 and 18 to start a local paintball field to absolutely no avail. I learned a little bit about business, but couldn't really comprehend what to do as we were in a total vacuum on the farm, especially since we knew virtually no one who ran a business.

    When I was 18 my dad had a heart attack which required that both my brother and I get a job as soon as humanly possible as our mom did not make near enough money cleaning houses to support the family. That resulted my brother and I never going to college, which in the end of the blessing since we never really got in any sort of educational debt. I ended up finding a job in a warehouse, enough to throw enough money towards my parents to help continue to meet rent & pay for food.

    To make matters worse the winter after my dad had a heart attack and was unable to care for himself, the house we lived in developed a very major underground natural gas leak resulting from a newly drilled oil well the owner of the farm had had permitted on the property. Everybody in our house got sick and essentially our family had to break up for a while with me living with my grandma and my brother staying with my parents as the only thing they could find was a small one-bedroom apartment. I went to live with my grandma for a short time, eventually the family re-united as it was proven my dad's heart attack was from agent orange related sickness which meant he'd be disabled/on disability for the rest of his life.

    After holding the warehouse job for 3 years, I found myself at age 21, continuing to work at the warehouse in Groveport Ohio (A suburb of Columbus) making about $11 an hour. Realizing that I would never be able to afford a family on $11 bucks an hour I got the bright idea to get into real estate - I figured since every real estate agent I knew either drove a Cadillac or a Lincoln they MUST be making great money. So while I was working my full-time job still supporting my parents I started taking classes at the local real estate school to get my license.

    • Being A Real Estate Agent
    After I got into Real Estate as a full time agent, I quickly realized that most real estate agents were flat broke. Sure, many of them had new Cadillacs and nice clothes, but the vast majority were in significant amounts of debt and even worse many agents I met had absolutely no personal wealth (Heck many didn't even own a house, they rented!).

    I met a few older real estate agents who were still in the game, yet surviving off of Social Security. That scared the crap out of me as a new agent realizing that so many were essentially Working Poor.

    As I ventured further into the life of a real estate agent, I ran into something that I had never experienced before in my life - People that had money in the bank,and weren't living paycheck to paycheck.

    A couple years into being an agent I was regularly meeting people who had six figures of cash in the bank. Growing up poor the richest person I knew was an engineer at a local chemical plant making $50,000 a year. Even then they never had that much money but we kind of felt they were comfortable. So meeting a guy that drove a over 20 year old K car with half a million dollars cash in the bank totally blew my mind. And it wasn't just that one guy that I was showing houses to that had enough cash to buy something, I was regularly meeting people who looked average yet had six figures in the bank.

    My job gave me the ability to sit down and pick the brain of these kinds of people. They all looked poor from the outside but we're very wealthy when they started providing Bank information to me so I could assess their finances to buy a house. The vast majority of them got wealthy because at some point they had either inherited real estate that had severely appreciated, or they themselves at purchase properties in the past, let them appreciate, and then sold them reaping the rewards.

    At the same time I moved my real estate to a new brokerage and was able to share office with an elderly gentleman who had just retired as the CEO of a local Oil Company. He got into real estate because in his words he was bored and figured he could do a better job than most of the idiots in real estate. As I continued to work with clients that had money, and was able to glean wisdom off this retired oil CEO I realized that being a simple sales agent was not a great career path. So I worked slowly towards buying real estate. This whole story worked itself out between 2006 when I got my license and late 2008 when the mortgage Crisis took place.

    Part of what introduced me to so many interesting people was I was working foreclosures primarily. Back at this time you could do something called a BPO for a lender which is like a mini appraisal which required you to take pictures of a house and complete paperwork. I was making thousands of dollars doing these, and started a real estate blog talking about foreclosures and the economy. The blog caught on fire as the mortgage crisis started ramping up and I was getting calls from people all over the United States asking for help getting in contact with people at large lending institutions in order to work out a deal on a foreclosure.

    I started making some decent money online not really doing anything, and absolutely not showing any houses. So I piggybacked the success of my blogs and got into online marketing, search engine optimization, and the whole world of online business. Still selling houses, still processing foreclosures. In 2009 I started a couple extravagantly successful websites where I made six figures selling stupid stuff online that was loosely connected to real estate. I had suddenly had massive success in business, but I really was not ready for it. I reinvested something like $200,000 of quickly earned money back into more online marketing stuff which all fell flat on its face.

    July 2009 rolls around and my first daughter is born, I build the greatest desktop I have ever seen, and a really bad WordPress exploit hits the internet and I lose every single website overnight. Very much unable to recover things as I try and help my wife out with a newborn while working through the night trying to build back my online business.

    I have minor success between 2010 and 2011 and by 2012 I build a search engine optimization business and while not making great money it was still more than enough to support my family. I kept going back to the fact that I had done business with people that we're not constantly broke, and that real estate was way more stable than anything that I could ever do on the internet regarding sales.

    • Starting as a Landlord/Investor
    Then in late 2012 to early 2013 Bitcoin started taking off, some of the people I did business with were suddenly Rich, so I started these fresh millionaires with the idea of going in together and buying a bunch of rentals here in Ohio.

    By mid 2013 it was very apparent to me that this thing going of out and finding investors was actually going to work, so I packaged up and sold my search engine optimization business while setting aside about $25,000 to throw in the pot with the other investors. I also allocated another about $5,000 towards legal fees and retaining a lawyer to help me understand the process of accepting investment from an outside Source.

    By the end of 2013 I had purchased two rental properties. The first one was a large, but extremely rundown 5 bed 2 bathroom home. After it's all said and done I had $60,000 in it and we rented it out within two days of being on the Market at $1,000 a month. The second property I purchased was a cheap little 3 bed 1 bath for $25,000. I thought at the time all we would have to do would be put a roof on it but we found out that it had been empty for so long that the gas company had abandoned the lines and they need to be redone. Five or six thousand dollars later it was complete and I rented that one out within a week of it being on the market for $650.

    So by this point I had spent the princely sum of $90,000 for gross rents of $1,650. If you do the math on that that's a gross return I've almost 20%. Taking this data back to the people that invested with me I said "let's go all out and buy as much as we can."

    A year-and-a-half later I've gone through a little over $400,000 and money over multiple requests back to the original investors, and was able to buy a total of 18 units with gross rents of approx $10k/mo. Our ongoing costs were about $4,000 per month in taxes, insurance, R&M and Capex. One of the decisions I had made during this time was to plan the business as a 'big business' rather than a small one, and hired a few full-time repair guys. One of the things that I had been told by many landlords was that their #1 expense was ongoing maintenance. Hiring someone full-time worker for $15/hr in my eyes was a much better plan than paying a HVAC/Plumber/Electrician $40-$50/hr on piecemeal work.

    For better or worse, this increased my ongoing costs substantially when the work ran out, so the only real option was to fire my full time or grow.....So I grew!

    A little before the end of the first batch of 18 properties, one of the staff writers from BiggerPockets had reached out to do an article on my journey of buying rentals and it had a pretty decent number of views. I managed to get quite a few emails/calls about it, and one email was essentially a "Hey, I like what you're doing in Ohio, if you want some money, let me know".

    I felt like I had stumbled into the first group of guys, so stumbling into another investor was very unlikely so I contacted back and said something like "Hey, I can use some money, there's a duplex for $52.5k I'm looking at , if you're interested in it, I'll set up a new LLC that you can fund". Low and behold, 2 weeks later I've opened up a new LLC, a new bank account and there's a princely sum of $60k in there to buy more rentals.

    Then a month later, I find a duplex being auctioned on a street I already have 4 others with no reserve. I manage to win said duplex for $9,500 without having any sort of funding set up. I contacted the investor again and told him about what I had won at auction. My rehab estimate came in at a little under $20k, and he was floored that I could find a livable, cashflowing duplex under $30k with repairs. He wired the money again and hopped on a plane to meet me in person (This was all done on email/phone calls/texts). Impressed by the fact that there was actually a duplex in Ohio that existed like that, he agreed to fund whatever else I could find.

    This took me up to 47 rentals.

    By this point I'm starting to become very active in our local REIA, attending every single meeting available, having lunch every so often with local landlords, and getting to know all the big players on a personal level.

    At this time, people contact me regularly about going in together to buy rentals, I accept only two and turn down quite a few others - Interestingly enough the landlord that kicked us out of the house when I was 6 partners with me on multiple purchases.

    Between 2016 and today, the bread & butter of my good deals are landlords who do a terrible job. Although virtually all of them have built some really good empires of properties, many have become inefficient as time goes on pushing down their values. I've been able to swoop in and purchase quite a few deals off of landlords who have had a very hard time selling due to how poor their management has been.

    In general I work mostly with investors as most banks I talk to hate me. One bank turned me down because (As they stated) "No one in their right mind would buy so many rentals". I've found a FEW banks that like what I do, but with one I'm very close to hitting their FDIC limit on loans, so very likely by March I'll hit the limit and be seeking another small bank that has an appetite for rental properties.

    Although I primarily rely on private money, I've tried to expand what I do and have even done a few (Extremely profitable might I add?) seller financed deals.

    I currently manage all 90 rentals myself, although I do have a 3hr/wk person administrate billing/mail. I do continue to employ 2 full-time workers doing all my ongoing R&M and initial rehab on new acquisitions. Having bought 40 rentals in under a year it put us REALLY behind on things so right now I've got 3 different crews working on projects including the two full timers.

    In October I purchased 2 laundromats for some reason which are being re-done as we speak, hoping to open March the 1st. Working with a completely new industry has been extremely interesting. There's good deal of overlap between business and it seems like being able to maintain accounting, marketing and knowing how to work with people helps everything.

    As far as ACTUAL work goes, I'm working 20hrs a week on maintaining my rentals and another 20hr on initial rehabs/looking at deals/networking. My schedule is pretty much a solid 10am(ish) to 6pm(ish) work schedule. Granted there's plenty of days I don't go to the office in the morning, and some days I head out just to hang out with landlords and look at properties while doing all my management from my cell phone.
     
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  2. SteveO
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    SteveO Legendary Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    Awesome!!!
     
  3. Primeperiwinkle
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    Primeperiwinkle Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Omg dude!! You’re a rockstar! I’m super proud of you! Thank you for sharing, this kinda stuff seriously motivates me!
     
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  4. D_Benga
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    D_Benga New Contributor

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    Great work. You earned it.
     
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  5. healthsupps
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    healthsupps Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER

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    Congrats man!

    Could you please go a little in depth regarding accepting outside investment? I always thought that if you were going to invest someone elses money, you had to be licenced as basically like a security broker or financial planner or something (I'm probably way off here..)

    Would love your insight on how that's structured. Are you basically just incorporating a new LLC for every investor with both of you being 50/50 owners and then having a shareholder loan to the company from your investor?
     
  6. BrandonS85
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    BrandonS85 Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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    On the LLCs you're pretty close. Investors are members who loan to the properties they they get liens against them along with equity in the LLC.

    The restrictions are high when you sell to the public. But when you sell privately to accredited (wealthy) investors is really quite easy to meet the requirements. Look at sec 506 exemptions.
     
  7. Bekit
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    AMAZING story! Super inspiring.

    I don't understand the aspect of working with investors. If someone else's money went to buying the property, don't they own it now? What's in it for you?
     
  8. BrandonS85
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    I have between 80% and 40% equity in each property and get resulting cashflow. Investors don't pay management fees, and I get equity which makes running the operation infinitely easier since I'm a owner and manager of the properties.
     
  9. Bekit
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    That's awesome. You get equity while using their money? I am betraying my ignorance, but I had no clue there was such a thing as a model like that. Essentially, it sounds like the investors get a cut of a property that appreciates with none of the work of managing it, while you get a chunk of equity as well as monthly cash flow in exchange for the hard work you do. That's beautiful.

    I bet your family is super proud of you for your accomplishments!
     
  10. amp0193
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  11. AgainstAllOdds
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    @BrandonS85 - I remember reading your bitcoin prospectus back in the WickedFire days. Glad to see how far you've come.
     
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  12. RazorCut
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    Awesome post. Just watched the video. I remember your post on the laundromats. Will be interesting to see how you get on with them. You didn't push the button on the other two then?
     
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  13. BrandonS85
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    Still working on buying 3rd one, if I can get that one I think I can lock down 2/3rds of laundry sales in the city. My biggest problem has been I've been going all out for 5 years really not sat down to take a break we just when I intend to do this year for a while. I'm hoping for the two laundromats to be open by March and then go between say March in June or July and not really buy anything.
     
  14. RazorCut
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    Probably won't happen, you'll get offered something you can't resist and you'll keep hustling. The habits too strong now. ;)
     
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    That is super awesome! Hard work pays off. Can't wait to hear more from you!
     
  16. BrandonS85
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    In a 11 month period I ALMOST doubled the size of the operation. I'm starting to see a bunch of inefficiencies at this point. I'm sitting on an extra $6k/mo of revenue waiting to be worked on and I'd like to see me get down to 100% occupancy / 100% rehabbed before I buy more.


    Unless I can find a few more laundromats....

    The one location I got for $27.5k has an estimated revenue of $12-$15k per month based on the firm that came in and started giving me a bunch of numbers on it.
     
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    Mate, you're an inspiration. Thanks for sharing your story.
     
  18. BrandonS85
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    BrandonS85 Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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    The youtube videos should more than cover what I do.
     
  19. BrandonS85
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    BrandonS85 Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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    The only thing I'm wanting to do in the next 2-5 years are start generating notes on my properties and selling them in the 8% area. I'm doing pretty decent on money right now.
     
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    • Bravo! What a story!!
    • I am finishing up my first investment property myself
    • I have so much respect for someone that scaled that quickly
     
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    • Do you keep inventory for maintenance?
      • High wear items like plumbing supplies, door locks, and the like?
    • Do you standardize your builds and rehabs with a certain look to make things easier?
    • These are things that I am learning along the way...
    • Then again you are way way way ahead of me :)
    MG
     
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  22. JScott
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    Very nice, congrats!
     
  23. Suzanne Bazemore
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    Thank you for sharing your story. Real estate interests me, too, but I haven't invested in anything yet, so it's great to hear how you did it.
     
  24. BrandonS85
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    I do keep some stuff in stock but really question the utility. In October I got 3 lowes worth of Carpet for $10k. Sounded GREAT at the time but now storage SUCKS on it.

    We try to use common components - Everything is PEX , Goodman 96.6% furnaces, then try to limit vinyl inside of them. Standard paint colors at Sherwin Williams that's easy to duplicate.
     
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  25. MJ DeMarco
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    Admin Post
    Congrats, certainly beats a 401(k), patience, and a lot of hope!
     
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