BiggerPockets Podcast 025: Four Newbies and Their Very First Real Estate Success Stories

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On today’s episode of the BiggerPockets Podcast – we’re going to change things up. You see, all of our interviews thus far have been with real estate investing professionals, who are absolutely crushing it in their real estate journey.

However, today, we want to sit down with some investors who are just starting out and can tell us their stories of how they achieved their first real estate deal. These stories are not only helpful for new investors, but even the pros can learn valuable lessons from their experiences. We cover everything from investing when you live in an expensive city to dealing with the drama that might arise during a wholesale deal and even tips for buying a small multifamily property as your first primary residence. Don’t miss this amazing set of interviews with some really great individuals!

Read the transcript to episode 25 here

Listen to The Show on iTunes

Click here to listen on iTunes.

Listen to the Podcast Here

Nicholas Stevens: The Live-In Buy and Hold Triplex


  • Why he chose to buy a multifamily property for his first home
  • Using an FHA 203K loan to fund a rehab real estate deal
  • Dealing with a bad attorney
  • Buying a property with existing tenants
  • Tips for living with your tenants

Connect with Nicholas on BiggerPockets!

Ezinwanne Hawkins: Wholesaling the Shell of a House


  • Gaining a local mentor to help learn real estate
  • Free ways to market for wholesalers
  • Dealing with major problems on a real estate investment
  • How Ezinwanne got a property under contract for just $1 Dollar

Connect with Ezinwanne on BiggerPockets!

Matt Whiteside: The Stressful (but Profitable) First Wholesale Deal


  • Finding motivated sellers via late taxes
  • How a multiple bid situation gave Matt almost $10,000 more.
  • How Matt negotiated with a HOA to lower his selling expenses
  • Making $11,000 with a $1 investment

Connect with Matt on BiggerPockets!

Mehran Kamari: Investing Out of State


  • Tips for buying your first home
  • How to find good out-of-state investing locations
  • Buying real estate without ever stepping foot inside
  • Tips for finding and interviewing a great property manager
  • Using BiggerPockets to find partners and make deals happen

Connect with Mehran on BiggerPockets!

Links from the Show:

BiggerPockets Podcast _ Real Estate Investing and Wealth Building 9.42.11 AMNew Member Introduction Forum
The 2% Rule and 50% Rule
Google Street View
The BiggerPockets Deal Analysis Forum

Books Mentioned in the Show

How to Be a Deed Grabber by Rick Dawson
How I Turned $1,000 into Five Million in Real Estate in My Spare Time by William Nickerson

Tweetable Topics

“When financing real estate, find a lender who knows what they are doing.” (Tweet This!)

“If you have a good property, at a good price, in a good location – you won’t have a problem selling.” (Tweet This!)

“You can’t use your location as an excuse not to invest.” (Tweet This!)

“It’s more important, with early deals, to get them moved early and build your confidence.” (Tweet This!)

Be sure to leave questions, comments, or messages of encouragement below in the comments!

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 β€” check it out, read the reviews on iTunes, and get busy listening and learning!


  1. Great Podcast!!! I’m so Proud of all of You! Every last one of You, stepped outside Your comfort zone and just did it!!! Thank You all for sharing and Inspiring us! When I first came to BP., @Mehrankamari was one of the first to greet me; now to hear the success he’s had and continues to have, has given me a new “Vision Board” to hang on my [email protected] what a Great Idea, to live for free, In genius!!! My Hat’s Off to all the successful Newbies, and to @JoshDorkin and @BrandonTurner for “BIGGERPOCKETS” and for making it so much FUN, to learn about Real Estate Investing without all the H…!!!

  2. Paul Grgurich on

    Gentleman, – Absolutely brilliant show!! You guys are awesome…

    To Nicholas, Ezinwanne, Matt and Mehran – thank you so much for taking the time to share your real life experiences, there is absolutely nothing better to be able to learn from. I really gained a ton of information from your success stories!

    From a BP nubie and soon to be investor….

  3. First, I have confession…I get way more from BP then I put into it (i’m going to work on that per the Quiiiiick Tiiiiip). Anyways, I listen to the podcast religiously whether I am driving, mowing or just reading the forums on BP. I think they are very helpful and informative; I really liked this one because it was like four mini case studies. Josh and Brandon did a great job switching it up this time and unfortunately I have to wait another week or so for a new one. Haha.

    P.S. – from what I have learned from the podcast’s and the BP forums, I have a contract on my first multifamily buy and hold. Thanks BP.

    • Brandon Turner

      Thats so awesome Mike!! Congrats on the upcoming multifamily purchase! And I’m super happy you’ve been getting a lot out of the Podcasts. This episode was a lot of fun (and work!) to put together, so I’m glad to see it’s been well received! Thanks, and good luck! And yes- definitely – jump in to the forums! πŸ™‚

    • Joshua Dorkin

      Mike – That’s definitely awesome. Let us know when you close on the property, and once you do, we’ll look forward to hearing all the details in our Success Story forums. Thanks for listening and for putting things into action.

    • Congrats Mike on the M/F! I’m also interested in the juicy details of the deal (Hint Hint: Success Story Sub-forum)!

      I hope one day I can balance the sheets of giving back to the BP community what it has provided for me. I’m trying, but I don’t think it’s possible!

      • America’s Birthday slowed some paperwork this week (worthwhile cause though). However, once I have some details locked-in Monday or Tuesday, you guys will be the first to know.

        Mehran, I totally envy the guts that it took to start investing without seeing the property or knowing the neighborhood. Awesome story.

  4. Hey Brandon! I’m still here! πŸ™‚ I’m a bit overwhelmed with all the information, and I haven’t begun yet! After all my research, I’m honestly not sure WHERE to start! O_O I’ve just got J.Scotts book, and I’m hoping there are enough clear steps there to make it crystal clear what I should be doing.. πŸ™‚

      • Joshua, yes, I did! A while back, actually and I may need to look at it again after all this time! I’m sure, I’ll see it with different eyes now! Whew! I’m amazed at the info.!! I’m an AVID researcher, I can sit and read, and research something to DEATH for HOURS!!!! LOL! I think this may be the first topic, I have encountered that truly seems never-ending!!! LMBO!!

        • Joshua Dorkin

          I’ve been running BiggerPockets for over 8 1/2 years and have read countless thousands of articles and forum posts and I continue to learn. It is definitely an area of study that is never ending.

        • Haha! Well, ok then! I’m actually starting the guide again right now.. so we’ll see how I feel when I’m done with this and with J Scotts book! Thanks again!

    • Nichole, all the the information can be a bit overwhelming. You’re going to have to decide what type of investing you want to get into. This will be based on what your situation is right now, and what you aim to get from your investing. Do you want passive income? Do you want to make big profits on flips?

      I found that when I looked into the different investment strategies that buy & hold “fit” for me. Keep learning and the same thing will happen for you. And trust me, If I can do this, anyone can πŸ™‚ Hope this helps & thanks for listening!

      • Thank you Mehran! Yes, I truly appreciate the feedback, it WAS helpful! It’s good to know that i’ll feel “comfortable” with one of these options one day, because right now they ALL seem soooooo far fetched to me!! LOL! But, I press on! Thank you!!

  5. This was definitely an inspiring show. While hearing from flippers who do multiple deals a month and seasoned investors discussing the difference between residential and commercial valuations is amazing, it can be overwhelming for a newbie like myself. These four individuals show that once you get a solid understanding of general investing concepts, there is no substitute for getting out there and getting real world experience. Thanks guys!

  6. I agree with Mehran wholeheartedly. When I first joined BP, I found the newbie investor stories so inspiring…just hope my story can help inspire someone else πŸ™‚

    Keep pushing everyone!

    • Ezinwanne, could you please share with us what your profits on each of the two deals you discussed were? I think deal #1 might have been $1500 after you put $500 toward the back taxes; but not sure at all what you made on deal #2. Can you tell I’m a numbers gal haha πŸ™‚

      Congrats on your success and much continued success!

  7. Winston Risser on

    Just Finished Podcast 25 !! Yet another great podcast . It is interesting to see how everyone has a different story on how they got started in REI.
    The nugget I liked out of this Podcast was how Mehran bought out of state and how much better the numbers were .
    I always here live where you want but invest where the numbers make sense. It just always seems little further out of reach . Love the strategy and success stories.

  8. Great job everyone! Your stories are so inspiring.

    It seems like wholesaling 20k house is just as profitable as wholesaling 100k houses.

    The return you received from investing out of state is amazing. Do you mind sharing the questions you use to interview the property management company?

    Thanks everyone for sharing the stories, hope to hear more of your successful stories in the near future. Happy investing!

    • Hi Eve! Glad you listened to AND liked the podcast πŸ™‚

      One thing I’d like to point out, just in case, is that we had to sift through A LOT of candidates before we came across a deal like that. Not every property in that market will have the same numbers.

      I’ll upload the PM Questionnaire to my FilePlace section soon. And I hope to hear YOUR success story soon as well!

  9. Patrick Ryan on

    Hey all!

    This podcast energized me as I continue to research flipping and buy and holds! @NicholasStevens really inspired me as I am looking to invest in MA as well! I plan to buy a duplex as my primary residence within the next three years, after I save a sufficient amount.

    Continue to work hard, guys! Thanks!

    Btw, Brandon and Josh: what’s with the lack of a printer-friendly option? I print all the valuable posts I see!

  10. Great podcast as always guys. I do think you guys harp on the “gurus” a little much. I get trying to protect people and everything. I definitely can’t see where any guru is charging thousands anymore. Most the gurus I know of charge less than 500. Some are smaller monthly increments…. Im not sticking up for them but holy cow you guys are tough lol.

    Heres the thing, I really don’t see what is so hard about wholesaling. I mean all the struggles mentioned in this podcast and most are very minor. Define hard. I guess I consider pushing paperwork and phone calls fairly easy if you like what you do.

    Just thought Id spout off a little. I know its for the best interest of everyone. I have a construction background so I consider anything else fairly easy. If it doesn’t hurt the body its easy. Of course massive stress would do the same.

    Thanks again for the great podcast and great site.

    • Joshua Dorkin

      Thanks for the comments. The reason we “harp” on the gurus is because not a week goes by where new members come to BiggerPockets with tales of woe from their experiences with these guys. After 8.5+ years of doing this, this common thread puts a pretty bad taste in your mouth. There are certainly some trainers who can add value, but ultimately, the marketing tactics and mis-information used by many of these gurus to empty the wallets of people who are in no position to be doing so, pisses me off . . .

      That said . . . thanks for listening, and of course, for sharing your thoughts. That’s the beauty of BP — we can have differing opinions here.

      • Ya I think a warning is definitely a good idea. I do however think that in many if not most cases it is the person that bought the courses fault that they didn’t go anywhere with it. I truly think that people just think they can buy a course and then automatically get deals done without actually doing anything. Or they buy the course and don’t even read it at all.

        Then they blame the seller or “guru”. I bought an expensive course years ago over ten years ago (I must have been around 19 or so). It was over a grand and it was so full of info I don’t think I even read ten pages. It came with a binder thicker than the bible. Plus a ton of other stuff.

        I never said he sucked or I got ripped off but I was definitely a read and do nothing person. (in that situation I wasn’t even a read person :)) If I had actually done anything the course taught, I might have been saying it was a great course. –no idea who’s course it was anymore–

        I know as the owner of this blog you can’t just call members or others out for not taking action but I can do that for you. (Some people do actually get ripped off) But most are just lazy and think that sending mailers or searching craigslist or networking with people is just too hard. I am wondering how those people ever had a job because if thats hard I wouldn’t want them working for me.

        The other situation is that they aren’t lazy just scared and they spend so much time reading instead of doing that they never pull the trigger.

        This website has all the info needed for someone to get started without buying a course. I haven’t read your guide but Im sure that is enough info to get one deal under your belt.

        • Joshua Dorkin

          I’m more than happy to call people out for being lazy or scared. That’s the difference about BP and most other places — we’re here to keep it real. That said, as I mentioned before, there’s a lot of people taking advantage of people as well. That’s what I’m most concerned with.

          Thanks for the comments!

    • Rook! I found your post interesting! πŸ™‚ I wouldn’t say starting is “Hard”, but it can most definitely be overwhelming, confusing and calls for long suffering and patience! LOL! Would you agree? and for those of us who have no idea how to begin, all the information by all the gurus can leave a newbie feeling paralyzed to make a first move (they all have different “first” moves!! Ha!). I would say that if you believe it to be easy, PLEASE pull together a simple “However Many” Step Guide to Your First Wholesaling Deal ebook!??? Please? I’ll be the first to give it a shot! I can even be your product tester to see if it works! πŸ˜€ lol!

        • Yes! I downloaded a few days ago as you suggested! I’m working through that, as well as J. Scotts Book! πŸ™‚

        • Nicholas, Ezinwanne, Matt & Mehran,

          Great effort! You guys are an inspiration to us newbies. May you have more success.

          Mehran, you opened my eyes to what to watch for as an out of state investor. Your due diligence sure paid off and your confidence is probably on a different level. Kudos!


        • Thanks Jose for listening and that’s I’m glad my process helps out in any way.

          Closing the first deal definitely changed everything for me. It all became real and I knew I could duplicate it. The best part is, with each deal you do, you learn just a little bit more than you knew before.

          Feel free to reach out anytime on BP if you have any questions!

        • Finally got a chance to listen to this one last night.
          Great interviews. Very inspiring. Way to go!

        • Mehran Kamari on

          Glad you liked the podcast Patrick! If I can do it, so can anyone else who puts the time in πŸ™‚

      • Nichole,

        Read my reply to josh. I put you in the category of fear of doing. Not a bad thing, your careful. But honestly you probably have the info you need. So here is my guide for you πŸ™‚ lol its short.
        Don’t worry about what system to use. Find a good realtor to evaluate any properties you might find (or if your lucky they may actually be able to find a deal good enough for you). Then spend all your other time looking for a property that is a good deal. Try craigslist, if you have money send some mailers but Id focus on driving your neighborhood, craigslist, realtor suggestions.

        When you find a house you think is a deal, run it by biggerpockets or your realtor. That is it. The house you find will decide your strategy. Not the other way around. If you find a good deal you will be able to do something with it.

        Thats really all there is too it. Yes you can niche down and do one thing, but that will make it tougher to find one.

        The things you need in a good deal revolve around two things. The price or the terms. Either will work if the seller is motivated.

        I know how do you find them. Well too many ways. mls, craiglist, mailers, biggerpockets, networking, That part I will charge you a million dollars for lol jk. Start with free sources because you really can do this stuff with no extra money. (money always helps).

        • ok, good advice! hmm.. ok.. So, I’m not even sure what to say to an agent to try and win them over to my side!!! lol! I feel like they will think that I’m wasting time, or stealing deals! So, there is my first hurdle.. lol! Also, I do NOT want to be asking questions EVERY step of the way (which is why I’m reading so much!). I’m gonna give it a shot and jump in with both feet.. the worst that can happen is that I’ mess up, right?! HA! ps: I was told by an investor, who I stopped to talk to today that there is a huge company out here buying up properties in 100 home lots! although they are headquartered out of Dallas TX, they are an overseas company.. I’m thinking this is gonna be a problem! πŸ™

      • Exactly right, the worst thing that can happen is you mess up. It would be very odd for something really bad to happen before you actually have a deal. Just about Every deal has something come up so no matter what or how much you read you won’t have an answer for everything. So its easier just to figure out the answer when issues come up.

        I wouldn’t worry about talking to a realtor. That is their job. besides your only asking them to evaluate a deal if it looks really good to you. Before you ask them check zillow or or some other real estate site to get a rough idea first that way you only bother them a few times before you actually find a good deal. If they don’t want to do that stuff then find another one there are too many anyways. If you are worried about them giving you comps or a market analysis pay them or give them something. You might end up buying something through standard financing at some point.

        You have fears but there is really not much to worry about. It is just a house. People are there every step of the way. Realtor gives idea of value, the title company will fix your paperwork if its wrong. Anyone can do this stuff because the professionals that close the deals cover you.

        Those big companies don’t matter. It probably will help your market pick up at least temporarily. So get in and out quick.

        Just find a house then ask people here if you need to.

        Good luck, remember you can’t screw up if you do nothing but you won’t get anywhere either.

  11. What a great podcast everyone!

    I have a question for Nick….I know to be eligible for an FHA loan on a multifamily you have to live in one of the units. Maybe I was a bit confused but it sounded like when you first bought the property you didn’t live in the top unit right away because of the issues with the tenant that was there. How did you get around the issue of not living in it right way or did I just not understand your story clearly?

    Also, if say for example you find a great multifamily that you want to buy using an FHA or owner occupied mortgage and all of the units are rented, does this automatically disqualify this property since you won’t have the chance to live in it right away? Would the bank give you time to “empty” one of the units say after a lease ended allowing yourself to move in?

    Thanks so much everyone!

  12. I really enjoyed this podcast. As an aspiring investor who hasn’t completed a deal yet it’s very encouraging. It was especially helpful hearing about four different investment scenarios. I learned a lot.

    The next time you guys do a show like this I’d love to hear from someone who recently did their first fix and flip because that’s what I’m interested in doing.

    Thanks and keep on putting out these excellent podcasts!

  13. Silvestre Madrid on

    Awesome show everyone! As someone just getting started its really encouraging to hear these stories. Mehran was the first to welcome me to the site so its cool to hear how he got started. I can really relate to what he said about the 9-5 (or in his case, graveyard shift!) waking up everyday with a purpose and goals. The fact that having these things in mind makes you a better employee (for the time being anyway until you transition to full time!). I too live in California so it’s great to hear the possibilities of investing out of state. Thank you all for sharing your knowledge!

    • Welcome Silvestre!

      California is a pricy state and good deals are harder to come by. It’s good to hear that you’re open to the “possibilities of investing out of state”. I started out-of-state investing in January 2004 and the experience has been great, and the knowledge gained was invaluable.

      Continued success!

      • Silvestre Madrid on

        Thanks Marco! Absolutely you were also in my welcome thread and were kind enough to share your start so I appreciate that. I’d like to hear you in a podcast soon that’d be great, you certainly have my vote.

    • Silvestre thanks for listening! It’s awesome to read your comment and I’m glad that my story can help. Stick to your goals and don’t be side tracked. The only thing that separates you from your goals is the right education, which leads to smart action.

      If you have any questions, be sure to ask. I’m always available on BP, Just send me a PM.

  14. Thanks guys – just found the podcasts – I listen to them in my truck on the way back and forth to work, lunch etc. Very inspiring – looking forward to hearing them all!

  15. Very inspirational! I’m starting out in wholesaling. I can relate to Ezinwanne Hawkins story as I am also taking advice from a mentor/investor in my area. Very great interviews for all the ‘Newbies’ and congrats! I hope to complete my first deal very soon and I now have even more confidence.

  16. This is absolutely wonderful, thanks to all BP staff for pulling these wonderful resources together. I had a question with regards to something Mehran mentioned in his podcast. Mehran mentioned he wanted to continue to build his portfolio by “cash out and refinancing” on his current deals, what exactly does that mean? What does that entail?

    • Hi Nick,

      To “cash out” on your existing investments means that you’re as essentially financing or re-financing the property in order to pull out some or most of your equity in the form of cash. The equity is replaced with debt (the mortgage) and you will receive cash in it’s place. The amount you can take out varies, but it can be as high as 70% to 80% of the appraised value of the property. Other conditions and terms may apply, but that’s up to the specific lenders you talk to.

      Hope that helps… If not, just re-post of PM me.

      Continued success!

      • Great thanks Marco, that’s what I was figuring. So is it essentially a home equity loan? Also, if you buy an investment property with 20% down and do no work to the property to increase the value, can you take out a home equity loan from the 20% equity you have from the down payment or does the bank only count equity above the 20% down pmt?

        • Hi Nick,

          It’s not a home equity loan, it would literally be a new mortgage for a larger amount in order to get the “cash out”.

          The only way to access that 20% equity, above and beyond the first mortgage, is to get a second mortgage loan — this is known as a home equity line of credit (or HELOC). The problem is that very few, if any, lenders today offer lines of credit or HELOCs with an combined LTV over 80%. So you’re pretty much out of luck for now. You’ll have to wait for lending guidelines to loosen up like they were in 2003-2005. Or find yourself a private money lender that’s willing to extend you a loan.

          Continued success,


  17. Just finished listening to this pod cast and found the information very insparational. I do have one question/concern. The third speaker (Matt) mentioned recording his mormorandum of option. I have mixed feelings about this, which I will elaborate on further in the forums if there is an interest.

    Question: can you elaborate a litte further with regard to how long you keep the incumbrance?


  18. I have a question for Nicholas Stevens.

    When purchasing a multifamily property to live in, as you did, does the bank take into account the fact that the other units will be rented and bringing in revenue or does your personal income have to be substantial enough to cover the entire loan as if there wasn’t any revenue coming in from the other units?

  19. Valerie Fulford on

    This was a great podcast. My first time listening to one since I’ve become a member. I appreciate the fact that new investors were highlighted. Good encouragement!

    Great job!

    • Joshua Dorkin

      Valerie –
      Thanks for listening! You’ve got 29 other episodes of the podcast to check out now . . . definitely try to carve out some time to do so; I think you’ll find it to be a very good use of your time. Good luck!

  20. Thismombuyshouses, WOW! I finished this podcast supercharged on doing wholesale deals, and found it very inspiring that a mom (with 3 kids) and really moving her family forward. I appreciated how detailed and transparent Ezinwanne is, and her story of connecting with a BP local mentor who showed her the ropes was amazing!

    Thanks for sharing!

  21. Josh/Brandon,

    Thank you for starting with some of the newbie’s. One day I hope to be able to articulate my first deal as well as they did.


    Thank you for giving me motivation to continue. I had always heard that buying a multi-unit was a great way to start. You give me the desire to continue my real estate goals, I know I will get there. Please remind me how you were able to financially secure the property? I am a little cash tight at the moment.


    Amazing that you were able to start and accomplish what you have done so far. Thank you for sharing your story. I am not sure if there is a way…..I found a property that did not seem to require a lot of work from the description and from the pictures. I went to see it and try and assess from the outside. The neighborhood is not really taken care of and there is a sign on the door that states it’s condemned. I will call the city tomorrow, but just wanted to see if you had any thoughts as to a good next step or if you thought I should leave it alone. Not sure if I could acquire it for a $1, but that is what I now think it may be worth. I know that there is not very much land value just due to the neighborhood.


    Thank you for reminding me that tax liens are another good source for acquiring property. When you get a home by purchasing the tax lien are there any other taxes and/or liens that I need to worry about?


    Never once did I ever have the fear of investing outside of my area. I am happy for your success. If you ever would like to do something here in Greenville, SC. Please let me know, I would love to invest where you are, but a little tight with everything at the moment.

  22. Michelle Cobbs

    First I must say that I am really enjoying the pod casts, recently discovered them while browsing Stitcher I love it. This was a great episode really enjoyed listen to this one and know that this really does work for other and can work for me as well. Keep up the good work Josh and Brandan.

    Thank you


    P.S. I also now listem to #AskBP as well.

  23. Julie Marquez

    I love these newbie podcasts! I have done some deals and have rentals, but I love listening to the enthusiasm of new people and their first deals. Whether they do lots of more deals or not, I hope they all become successful in their real estate careers!

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