Personal Development

How I Acquired 18 Units (& Quit My Job) 2 Years into Buy & Hold Investing: An Interview

Expertise: Personal Development, Real Estate News & Commentary
40 Articles Written

So you've studied BiggerPockets articles late into the night, joined your local real estate club, analyzed numbers, found that just right property, and closed the deal. Now you’re officially a real estate investor. Congrats!

Want more articles like this?

Create an account today to get BiggerPocket's best blog articles delivered to your inbox

Sign up for free

…but now what?

If you’re wondering how to keep that momentum going, to continue scaling your business, to take the steps from “property owner” to “empire builder,” you’ll want to hear what investor Brandon Schlichter has to say.

In two short years, he's been able to buy and rehab a total of 13 properties, consisting of 18 units in his area, largely using the BRRRR strategy (Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat) Brandon Turner describes in length here.

He’s quit his day job managing websites to become a full time investor. Today, with $550k invested, he sees a total of $6,250 in monthly cash flow — but he doesn’t plan on sitting back and enjoying his fast-reached success anytime soon. With the ambitious goal of acquiring 50 units by the end of the year, Brandon is still busy adding doors…

Related: BP Podcast 078: Quitting Your Job, Buy & Hold Investing, and Succeeding With High-End Rentals with Brie Schmidt

Which is why we’re grateful he took the time to sit down with us and talk a little bit about starting out, scaling his business, finding great deals, and self-managing properties.

Any questions for Brandon not covered in this interview? Be sure to leave them in the comments section below!


A Conversation With Buy & Hold Investor Brandon Schlichter

cutmypicIn many ways, Brandon’s start in real estate was part of a natural progression. Growing up in a family that lived paycheck to paycheck, he craved the freedom that a stable financial situation could provide.

"When I turned 18 my dad had a heart attack and I started to work at a warehouse to help my mom out financially," he recalls. "After 3 years I got my license as an agent and started working with all types of people — businessmen, middle class, people who really couldn't afford to own a house. I quickly realized that people who were wealthy had a different mindset and I decided I wanted to be more like them."

With that realization, he followed a path that led him to convince investors to partner with him to buy, rehab and rent properties in Central Ohio starting in 2013. This partnership’s focus is to look for underpriced property that needs rehab work — oftentimes property overlooked by other investors who don’t want to deal with rehabs or want easier deals. Brandon develops plans to bring the property’s condition to a marketable level and make sure the deal makes sense to bring on.

“On average we’ve spent $30,000 per unit with a resulting market value of $47,000 per unit. Our average cash return rate is also quite good and we are hitting most of our earning goals,” he says.


Scaling a Real Estate Business

At this point, I have to ask: How have you been able to scale your business so quickly? 

“It’s easy to grow a business when you have people throwing money at you,” he replies, (half) joking. “On a more serious note, prior to meeting investors, I had spent 2008-2013 building an iron-clad investment plan when the time came. For me, building a good picture of the process not only helped me plan, but made it easier for investors to realize I wasn’t just some guy off the street begging for their hard earned money.”

Brandon’s emphasis on methodical planning, patience and reputation-building reemerge throughout our conversation, and it becomes evident that while his journey may appear to be a quick, even easy, rise to success, it has been preluded by years of dedication to learning, networking and old fashioned hard work. When asked what advice he’d give to newbies, he states:

“Make the decision that no matter what happens in the next 1, 3, 5, 10 years that you’re gonna get it done. Real estate isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme, it’s a get-rich-slow-but-almost-guaranteed scheme. As an agent I’ve worked with many amazing individuals who received property from parents and grandparents.”

He continues, “At some point, a prior generation made a sacrifice to put money into a property that would build value that they may never see. This was truly long-term planning and their children or grandchildren reaped amazing rewards. If you as a potential investor can calm yourself down and get to the point you’re thinking long-term, I think that your success is almost assured.”

Finding Great Deals

So what about the specifics? How do you find the great deals out there to get your foot in the door? Brandon isn’t sure if there’s any specific method to finding great deals. Rather, he emphasizes that it’s more about getting out and trying every possible method — and being consistent and dedicated to making it work.

"Last year I bought other people's flips, REOs, un-listed REOs, foreclosure auctions, FSBOs and estate deals," he recounts. "The returns were all great, but I also made many offers and even had sellers get furious with me when I made a low-ball offer. Eventually something you do will stick and you'll make money."

Has Brandon run into any issues using the trusty BRRRR method? He cites problems with bank lending during the "refinancing" step as a major hurdle to further building his business. Virtually all banks have wanted to see 2 years of cash flow, while Brandon and his partners only have about a 1.5 year track record.


"I want to keep my rehab team busy so I might just bite the bullet and get some hard money loans to buy more properties this year," he explains. "I'm seeing some decent local appreciation, so getting in right now might be more advantageous even with high interest loans."

Outsourcing Work

While Brandon doesn’t work on his own rehabs, he collaborates in close association with his rehab team and feels comfortable hiring the jobs out because he’s finally found people he knows he can trust. Once past that first hurdle of finding the right folks for the job, he’s a big believer in outsourcing the work that’s not the best use of his time.

“A few years back I read BP member MikeOH’s book One Minute to Rental Property Riches. It was a really great book, but it always struck me as odd that he (and many like him) did a good deal of the renovation and ongoing maintenance,” he says. “I’m much more of a fan of doing what you’re good at, and for me it’s running spreadsheets and forecasting income and expenses. Not unclogging toilets and walking on roofs.”

Related: Success, Revealed: How 5 Real Estate Rockstars Built Their Investing Empires

So if not unclogging toilets, how does Brandon spend his days? Heavily analyzing properties? Dealing with a flood of tenant complaints? You might be surprised. When I asked what a day in the life of Brandon Schlichter looked like, he replied:

“Don’t tell my wife, but I really don’t do much of anything. Around the first of the month, I’m pretty busy collecting rents, but after the first few days the rest of the month is spent sitting in front of a computer doing research on funding and other options. Sadly a lot of my time is spent playing the ‘hurry up and wait’ game with regard to banks, thus why I’ve said to some BP members that I think I can manage 100 or so properties myself. My average hours-per-property spent in management is extraordinarily low. The real time expense was all done years ago when I was showing houses to clients and learning how real estate all worked.”

When he finds himself with a free afternoon — of which there are quite a few, he adds — you can probably find him at the park playing with his kids. Not bad.


Remembering to Give Back

So where does his journey go from here? When I asked Brandon where he’d like to be ten years from today, he assured me that he’ll still be climbing the slow-and-steady real estate hill, building a bigger and better portfolio.

“I read a story about a man who formed a REIT and eventually turned it into a non-profit that used rental earnings to help troubled youth in really bad neighborhoods,” he explained. “I’d love to have that kind of setup one day where my rental business is completely outsourced and I’m able to use my time, knowledge and cash to help people to change.”

Well, it’s not hard to wish him the best of luck on that one!

What would you like to hear Brandon elaborate on? Which parts of his discussion struck a chord with you?

Leave your comments below!

A career writer, editor and blogger, Allison serves as the Director of Content for In the past, she has channeled her passion and curiosity for all things real estate into her jo...
Read more
    Jarred Sleeth Lender from Austin, TX
    Replied over 5 years ago
    This is a really great post, and a strategy I’ve used and really like. In the end, you can get a property without having invested any money, and sometimes walk with cash at closing. One thing I have not figured out though is how to scale so large. Having investors pumping money into your ability to buy properties is one thing, but how can you possibly refinance them all out when you are usually limited to a certain number of mortgages? Do you need to seek out private investors for that too? I would like to scale my business in this manner, but I am getting close to the limit for mortgages. Hoping someone can chime in on this hurdle. Thanks for the post! Definitely inspiring.
    Josh Moore Flipper/Rehabber from Charlotte, NC
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Great article. Also after reading Jarreds comment above I would agree it is very hard to scale up. I am also close to the max on mortgages and having trouble finding ways to finance larger properties. I have done many buy and hold properties which is cash flowing nicely but haven’t pulled any equity out or refinanced. Maybe hard money is a possibility for the right deal but I feel those are better for selling after finishing the rehab. Best of luck Jarred maybe someone will have an good recommendation to what will work best.
    Brandon Schlichter Real Estate Agent from Circleville, OH
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Our problem is that banks essentially are wanting 2-3 years worth of seasoning per property before they will lend. Our 2015 cashflow looks to be fantastic but they won’t lend till they see the tax returns. We have 2014 tax returns and they don’t look bad, but they’re taking our 2014 income and estimating 2015’s expenses based on all the properties we own now an saying our DSCR is too low.
    Jarred Sleeth Lender from Austin, TX
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Very interesting. That is certainly another hurdle. It doesn’t seem quite fair to estimate extra expenses and ignore the income completely. They are not even using a percentage of it? Also, regarding financing out of all the properties, have you secured more than 10 mortgages? I know this is a huge obstacle to overcome that a lot of investors including myself have not gotten around yet. I love the BRRRR method but if you have to season for two years, and are limited on mortgages, you could end up getting stuck with a lot of property you can’t cash out of really quick. I would be afraid to do more than one at a time in case you can’t refi out.
    Christopher Lombardi Developer from Point Pleasant Beach, NJ
    Replied almost 5 years ago
    I would recommend trying different banks. I just refinanced 16 of my properties and one of them told me they wanted to see seasoned properties as well. I never heard of that before, so I went to a more aggressive bank and had no problem getting the full amount I was looking for. It all depends on the bank but it will take time shopping around.
    Zachary Kurtz from Los Angeles, California
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Brandon I’d love to hear more about your projects and what kind of financing you need.
    Brandon Schlichter Real Estate Agent from Circleville, OH
    Replied over 5 years ago
    I’m more than happy to chat with anyone about our situation.
    Darren Sager Investor from Summit, NJ
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Great article Allison and tremendous accomplishment Brandon! Amazing how one can change their life in such a small amount of time. Scaling the business is definitely a challenge. The most important aspect of it is to put systems in place which allow you to do so. Done right there’s no reason why you can’t easily manage over a hundred units. I have a friend who has hundreds of units and with his systems he been able to plug in additional units in large blocks at a time. Very happy for you Brandon! Keep up the great work. I’m sure with your dedication and goals you’ve set (along with your mindset) you’ll be at that place where you will be able to impact other’s lives much sooner than you realize. I personally would love to hear a BP Podcast on all you’ve done and continue to do. Thanks Allison for sharing more BP gold!
    Allison Leung from Denver, CO
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Hey Darren, thanks for the comment, and I’m so glad you enjoyed! There’s more to come, so stay tuned.
    Dustin Allen Real Estate Investor from Henderson, Nevada
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Great interview! I do really appreciate the part about giving back. I wanted to be able to one day flip a house & give all the proceeds for the flip to charity. But the REIT is a great idea too. I love hearing about others wanting to make their community better.
    Allison Leung from Denver, CO
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Hey Dustin: Great idea… if you ever do the flip for charity, be sure to let us know how it goes!
    John Barnette Investor from San Francisco, California
    Replied over 5 years ago
    At 7 mortgaged properties now. I think 10 is the freddie and/or fannie limit. Individual lenders have their own overlays. I believe going up from 10 will require portfolio loan products that are not sold off. Small or not so small community banks. Credit unions. A while back MetLife was making portfolio loans to condo buyers who were solid but association was black listed. I have also found when making purchase loans or refi that the lender wants 6 months reserve for all 7 of mortgages and tax. Quite a chunk. Not just 6 months for specific property. I think we gotta break out of traditional retail bank lending and go into the next stage. I am quite sure the next level does not have 30 year mortages and higher ltv ratios. I may also ultimately exchange out of some of my smaller holdings into higher dollar stuff. Easy to do in the Bay Area.
    Brandon Schlichter Real Estate Agent from Circleville, OH
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Banks certainly care about reserves, however it isn’t going to fix the problem in every case. I’ve gone to the bank with reserves worth 3 years worth of of payments and still didn’t get anywere.
    Account Closed Mother/ Administartor for Acropolis Fencing from Christchurch, Canterbury
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Thanks for sharing ur testimony Brandon, I hope to get to that point in 2 years. It’s a lifestyle…so I see.
    Mehran K. Investor from Wichita Falls, TX
    Replied over 5 years ago
    What a great and motivating testimony! Thanks for sharing Brandon and for writing this up for us Allison! I love reading stories like this, makes me want to hustle!
    Allison Leung from Denver, CO
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Mehran: Thanks for the comment — I’m so glad you enjoyed!
    Chris Purcell Investor from Ellicott City, Maryland
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Brandon, can out give me a short outline on your bullet proof business plan? I plan to write one and my strategy is similar to yours.
    Brandon Schlichter Real Estate Agent from Circleville, OH
    Replied over 5 years ago
    I certainly wouldn’t call it “Bullet proof” but in my eyes it was good. When I started this up, I wanted to answer every question I could. I had looked at other plans and they were just short pitch-type proposals, I wanted to go much deeper. So, over about 2 weeks I wrote a 34 page proposal & plan to give to investors. Overall it worked quite good and we hit our funding goal within about 3 days of sending it out. Cool stuff, but the proposal was just one part of it. For me, i feel what helped us was how thorough I was. I’ve been in RE since 2006 and tried to build a good snapshot of what rental and retail real estate looks like in Central Ohio. The thing we have on our side in real estate is time. So I had a great deal of data through the years to support my market claims.
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Each one of your units is cashflowing an average of $350/month? That’s quite an accomplishment!
    Brandon Schlichter Real Estate Agent from Circleville, OH
    Replied over 5 years ago
    It’s right around there.
    David Pickard Rental Property Investor from Bloomfield, NJ
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Awesome job Brandon. Very motivating story and I wish you nothing but continued success.
    Joe Chin Investor from Laguna Beach, California
    Replied over 5 years ago
    If you guys haven’t heard of b2r or firstkey for the 10+ portfolio, you should look them up. Firstkey even offers 30 yr mtgs. I have yet to use them, but they seem to offer diverse product to suit your financing needs.