BiggerPockets Podcast 008: Learning to Be a Profitable but Ethical Landlord with Al Williamson

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Being a Landlord can often be challenging, expensive, and stressful. So, today on the BiggerPockets Podcast we are speaking with Al Williamson, an active BiggerPockets member and inner-city landlord who has decades of experience dealing with tenants in both multifamily and single family rentals. Al is a pro at reducing expenses, increasing income, and dealing with difficult landlording situations – which is why we wanted to sit down with Al today.

Before we get to the show, thank you again to everyone who has subscribed in iTunes to help make us one of the top business podcasts in all of iTunes! We’re up to 117 5-Star Reviews so far! Every subscription in iTunes and every review helps us reach more people – so thank you!

Read the transcript of episode 08 with Al Williamson here.

Listen to The Show on iTunes

Click here to listen on iTunes.

Listen to the Podcast Here

In Today’s Podcast, We Cover:

  • How Al used a 1031-Exchange to “Trade-Up” to a larger property.
  • Tips for living in a small multifamily and living with tenants.BiggerPockets Podcast _ Real Estate Investing and Wealth Building
  • How to avoid being a slumlord in rough areas.
  • Why simply picking up trash can transform your investing.
  • The power of “Patient Equity.”
  • Al’s goal of Not being dependent on the tenants’ rent to pay the bills.
  • Ideas for both increasing income and cutting expenses.
  • Al’s plan to revolutionize income for multifamily properties.
  • How Al used a very small syndication to buy a rental property
  • The biggest challenges for an up-and-coming landlord.
  • What the “Landlord Lid” is – and how to overcome it.
  • How to Invest in Real Estate when you have a full time job AND a busy family life at home

Links From the Show:

Books Mentioned in the Show

Tweetable Topics:

“Landlord tip for improving the neighborhood: Go and meet the neighbors!” (Tweet This!)

“Often times things go unresolved because no one is operating as a leader. Are you?” (Tweet This!)

“Spend time getting really good with your first investment before branching out.” (Tweet This!)

“Sometimes you have to pay your ‘learning tuition’ and lose money when you take risks.” (Tweet This!)

“Your real estate investment should be a physical representation of you.” (Tweet This!)

“Why are you building wealth? The most successful leaders KNOW this answer.” (Tweet This!)

About Al

AL Williamson is Civil Engineer and landlord from the Sacramento, California area. Al has invested in real estate since 1996, focusing mostly on multifamily properties in urban areas.

Al’s BiggerPockets Profile
Al’s G+ and Facebook
Al’s Blog:

What do you think? Do you have any questions or comments for Al or about the show? Leave your thoughts below!

About Author

Thanks for checking out the BiggerPockets Real Estate Investing & Wealth Building Podcast. Hosts Joshua Dorkin & Brandon Turner strive to bring top-notch educational content and interviews to our listeners -- without the non-stop pitch prevalent around the industry. With over 180,000 listeners per show, the BiggerPockets Podcast has become the biggest real estate podcast in the world. But don’t take our word for it. We’re the top-rated and reviewed real estate show on iTunes — check it out, read the reviews on iTunes, and get busy listening and learning!


  1. I really enjoyed this one. Al is unconventional and I love how he is combining real estate investment with improving people’s lives. It’s not just about the money, but doing good along the way. He gave some stellar tips for building relationships with neighbors and tenants. His philosophy is very much hands-on, which is important for lower-income areas. Al, I hope we can do coffee one of these days. I’d like to hear more about your work in Oak Park.

  2. John McCombs on

    Al, as a former Sacramentan, (Burbank, Class of 83) I appreciate the high quality of ethics and community leadership that you discuss in your multi-unit properties. Your efforts to reach out to other landlords, maintain your visibility, and provide a unit that even your child could live in is admirable and placed you up on a pedestal in my book. I love the description of how you work to “magnetize” your properties by attracting good and repelling tenants who are not up to any good. Great interview!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it, John, and was also a big fan of Al’s take on “Magnetizing,” though for some reason, I started snoring in the midst of his scientific explanation 😉 Al is a great guy with a pretty cool philosophy.

    • John, thanks for your comments (Hiram Johnson, Class of 84), but no pedestal for me. I’ve been paid back may times over, both in equity and self-fulfillment.

      One day I’ll post the science behind magnetizing your rentals on my BP blog. Maybe I’ll make it into an infographic so Mr. Dorkin can follow along. Fun times ahead!

  3. I loved this one. Al is exactly where I want to be. I look forward to being a landlord and I will surely be referring back to this podcast for tips once I’m in that situation. I love the way you create value by not only making the property you own a great place to live but the entire neighborhood. I’ll definitely take some of your tips into consideration on how to decrease expenses and increase income since the main reason I want to own rental property is for the cashflow. I think this was one of the best podcasts yet. Keep up the good work Al.


    P.S I did not fall asleep during your scientific explanation of magnetism. I love science!

    • Terry, I’m thrilled that you enjoyed the podcast. Let me know if you attempt to create value in a inner city; I would be happy to pass along my lessons learned.

      And if you want to know more about how the movement of electrons create magnetic fields, we can chat about that too!

  4. Hey Brandon, I haven’t heard anything about your Insanity challenge in later videos?! I did Insanity and went from 202 to 177 > Before and After:

    Al, let me know when you are in Indianapolis next! I have a couple of things (maybe 7) that I would love to be fixed once to last 10 years! Ha that would be great =D

    I love how you are on a mission to uncover new ways to generate cashflow from your tenants while helping them. I’d love to know more about the WiFi dilemma.

    Track record of making payments to (10) investors to build your background moving forward into larger projects! Genius or “How to Hustle” ha I thought that was pretty smart.

    This podcast made me more interested in multi-family. Is it very different finding these properties than it is SFH?

    • Brandon Turner

      Hey Taylor – Nice Results! Very cool!

      As for Insanity – I did it for like 45 days, then the weather got nice so I started jogging instead and haven’t started back up again. I will though, but I just can’t see myself working out inside when it’s so nice outside!

      As for finding multifamily – it’s generally the same process (at least for small ones) but you are generally dealing with landlords instead of homeowners – which can be both good and bad. Less emotion – but more ruthless. So yeah – I like multifamily a lot. It’s a good plan to find older investors who are willing to carry a contract for you- cause they are old and don’t wanna deal with tenants. That’s how I got my apartment complex.

      Hope that helps some!

  5. This is a great podcast! It’s great to be able to get insight on Al’s landlord involvement and how to bring value to neighborhood. I learned so much!

    Thanks Al for sharing!

    Silvana G.

  6. Julie Marquez

    Al, this is a great podcast, and I’m sure you’ve come along way in your investing since episode #8. You got me thinking about how to be a creative landlord. My dad rents garages separately. Could you rent or sell the washer and dryer. Or rent furniture or other items people need to live and don’t have or don’t want to move. My dad also fiances tenants cars, holds the titles, and collects payments. What are other creatives ways? You got me thinking…..

  7. Nathan G.

    A good podcast with plenty of “take-home” advice for investors and Landlords. I particularly enjoyed hearing about his involvement in communities surrounding his investment property and couldn’t agree more. It’s easy to forget about the community when you don’t personally live there.

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