Landlording & Rental Properties

How I Bought, Rehabbed, Rented, and Refinanced 14 Properties at Once

Expertise: Mortgages & Creative Financing, Business Management, Landlording & Rental Properties, Commercial Real Estate, Real Estate Deal Analysis & Advice, Real Estate Investing Basics, Personal Development
177 Articles Written
BRRRR

Our strategy is pretty simple. It's what Brandon Turner has so helpfully termed the BRRRR strategy—namely buy, rehab, rent, refinance, and repeat. Recently we just completed our largest refinance to date as we refinanced 11 houses, 2 duplexes, and a fourplex. This is easily the biggest back end loan we've done and culminates the last phase of what we planned would be a "rinse and repeat" strategy.

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Our BRRRR Strategy

Buy

The strategy works like this: Up front we buy a fixer-up property, usually an REO from HUD, Fannie or Freddie. We’ve acquired properties in multiple ways, but the most common is to simply make lots and lots of offers on REOs. Unfortunately, the downside of an improving market is that these properties have become harder to find. We are starting to move into direct marketing, but there are still deals to be had on the MLS.

Rehab

When we get a property under contract, we look to get a private lender (as opposed to a hard money lender) to loan us the money for the purchase and the rehab at 9 percent interest only with no points. That's substantially less than a hard money lender (who will usually be around 12-15 percent interest and 3-5 points). Private lenders can be anyone, including parents, relatives, colleagues, friends, acquaintances, etc. So tell people what you do and what you are willing to offer. Make networking a priority. You never know who has some money sitting in a CD earning 0.2 percent interest and would jump at something like 8-10 percent interest.

The key here is to be all in for 75 percent of the property’s market value or less. This means that you will have to work very diligently to learn to budget correctly so that 1) you will finance the right amount up front and not have to bring your own money to the table and 2) you will ensure that you don’t spend so much on the rehab as to eat away your equity margin.

The reason you need to be all in for less than 75 percent of the property's market value is because that's what a typical bank will loan on a refinance to an investor. The goal is to buy these properties for no money down and create both a sizable amount of equity and solid cash flowing units at the same time.

stop-flipping

Related: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying a Fixer-Upper Property

I should also note, most banks have a "seasoning" period of usually around a year. Before that, they will only loan on 75 percent of the cost you have into the property. For this strategy to work, it needs to go off appraised value. So make sure to buy properties that will cash flow, even if just barely, with a 9 percent interest only loan fully financed.

And of course doing all of this is no simple task. Rehab budgets are infamous for blowing up out of proportion. We have certainly had our share of bad experiences and actually had to leave a little of our money in this package of 14, although we were able to refinance the majority out. (For help on estimating rehab costs, consult J. Scott’s The Book on Flipping Houses.)

Generally, though, it’s always important to be conservative with your numbers. Expect something unexpected to come up and that the rehab will cost more than originally anticipated. We put a 20 percent contingency for such things into our budget, and I would recommend you do the same.

Appraisers also seem to be a bit conservative these days. I don’t have good data to back this, but it is certainly my gut feeling. I think that after some of the shenanigans that went on before the 2007-2008 crisis, many appraisers have made a concerted effort to not appraise properties at inflated values. However, in my opinion, many have gone too far in the opposite direction. Which of course means that you have to get an even better deal up front.

Rent

The next step is to rent out the properties. Regardless of whether you choose to manage the properties yourself or hire a management company, make sure that either you or they have very strict rental criteria. No bank is going to lend on a portfolio of properties unless that portfolio is performing. And while it’s bad to have a vacant property, having a bad tenant is even worse. It will require that you evict them and often keep the property off the market for an extended period of time while you fix all the damage they did. Good tenants will come to those who wait (and market effectively, of course). And good tenants will often stay a long time if you provide a good property up front and keep up with the maintenance.

security-deposits

Refinance

When it comes to the final phase, my best recommendation is to network, network, and then network some more. Go to your local real estate club or ask around on BiggerPockets for lenders that are lending to buy-and-hold investors. One time we even did a search on ListSource for anyone who had made a loan on a non-owner occupied property in a suburb we invest in. Then we just went down the list of banks and made one call after another.

Early on, we were turned down a lot. Banks kept telling us that they “had taken a lot of losses in single family investment properties.” It didn’t seem to help when I told them that prices were 40 percent higher back then, and we’re buying those properties because of all the losses they took.

But just as with making offers, finding quality lenders is a numbers game. The more you connect with, the more likely you are to find one that will lend to you. And finally banks are realizing that their “buy high, sell low” strategy didn’t make a lot of sense (or they are more liquid now and the regulators are finally getting off their back). Still, we’ve found that it’s pretty much only local banks that are interested in this kind of product (most of our properties are in C and B areas). The interest rates we’ve seen are usually around 5 percent and the amortization at 20 years.

Related: How to Estimate Rehab Costs with No Construction Background

One last note, if you are refinancing a package of properties together, make sure to ask for separate releases. This allows you to sell or refinance one property in the portfolio while keeping the rest of the loan in place. Otherwise, you may be required to pay the whole loan off if you want to sell or refinance just one of the properties.

Conclusion

This example shows the power of the BRRRR method. Done right, it can create a sizable amount of wealth and cash flow for little money down—or perhaps none if done right. This 14 property refinance is a big step forward for us in our business, and hopefully it will illustrate this lucrative business model better.

Next week, I’ll discuss and even bigger step forward for us and the lessons we learned from it.

[Editor’s Note: We are republishing this article to help out our newer audience.]

Investors: Have you ever used the BRRRR strategy? Have any questions about the process?

Let’s talk in the comments section below.

Andrew Syrios has been investing in real estate for over a decade and is a partner with Stewardship Investments, LLC along with his brother Phillip and father Bill. Stewardship Investments focuses on the BRRRR strategy—buying, rehabbing and renting out houses and apartments throughout the Kansas City area. Today, they have over 300 properties and just under 500 units. Stewardship Properties on the whole has just under 1,000 units in six states. Andrew received a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the University of Oregon with honors and his Masters in Entrepreneurial Real Estate from the University of Missouri in Kansas City. He has also obtained his CCIM designation (Certified Commercial Investment Member). Andrew has been a writer for BiggerPockets on real estate and business management since 2015. He has also contributed to Think Realty Magazine, REI Club, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, The Data Driven Investor and Alley Watch.

    Claudio Golia Homeowner from Wallingford, Connecticut
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Thanks for sharing. Good stuff here and very motivating.
    Darren Sager Realtor from Summit, NJ
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Great article Andrew! Enjoyed your (and your brother’s) podcast and your father’s as well!
    Renea Steward Massage Therapist from Chicago, Illinois
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Andrew thank you for the information. I want to refinance a smaller group of properties. I can apply the information given to achieve my goals. Enjoy as you prosper…..
    Jarred Sleeth Lender from Washington, DC
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Great strategy! We use this on our properties as well, and it really does work great if you are smart about the deal when you buy. If you have the right lender, you can also avoid the seasoning period for refinances and turn your money over even quicker.
    Billy Guyette Property Manager from Montgomery, Alabama
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Thanks for the article Andrew. As far as repackaging a group of loans into one single loan, is there a threshold dollar amount that most lenders are looking before they consider grouping several loans together?
    Andrew Syrios Residential Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, Missouri
    Replied about 4 years ago
    It really depends on the lender. And while it’s simpler to do it as one loan, if they had offered 14 separate loans, I would have accepted it despite the ungodly amount of paper that would have been required. We’ve done this with as few as two properties, so it really just depends on the bank. But most will want to package together multiple properties into one loan if you present them with multiple properties and the values are rather low.
    Brett Pedigo from Sherman Oaks, California
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Inspiring article! I have a quick question if you don’t mind! How did you finance your first deal? I agree with having your track record be a calling card, but you must start somewhere to create your track record. I feel using your own money is the safest bet to start, it’s just saving enough for the purchase! thanks again!
    Andrew Syrios Residential Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, Missouri
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Thank you Brett! I write more about how to finance buy and hold properties here: https://www.biggerpockets.com/renewsblog/2014/10/29/the-ultimate-list-of-ways-to-finance-buy-and-hold-property/, so I would recommend checking that out. But I think using your own money for the down payment and using a bank loan or perhaps borrowing from a family member or friend is a great way to start. If you do decide to borrow from someone, make sure you do thorough due diligence and I would make sure to have some money yourself in case things go sideways you don’t want to sour a personal relationship over business.
    Brett Pedigo from Sherman Oaks, California
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Thank you Andrew. Really appreciate your perspective! As you know, taking the first leap is always the most difficult.
    Ben Travis Flipper/Rehabber from Nashville, TN
    Replied 6 months ago
    As a general rule – I would personally never ever involve friends/family in business dealings. Keep business business and strictly business. You’re just gambling otherwise. Just me.
    Tony M. from Lincoln Park, New Jersey
    Replied about 4 years ago
    So what about the rest “How I Bought, Rehabbed, Rented and Refinanced 14 Properties at Once”? These articles are great for reiterating the refi strategy but would like more details how you bought, rehabbed and rented.
    Andrew Syrios Residential Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, Missouri
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Well you’ve got to read the rest of my articles to find out about the other things…
    Vishal Gadhia Investor & Rehabber from Bartlett, Illinois
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Great post Bret. I do deploy the BRRRR strategy in the Chicago market and it has been working pretty well for us. Keep up good work.
    Brandon Holley from Lenexa, Kansas
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Great post Andrew, Thanks for sharing
    Nathan Brooks Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, KS
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Thanks Andrew … was it a KC bank that did the refi? Any help there would be greatly appreciated.
    Andrew Syrios Residential Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, Missouri
    Replied about 4 years ago
    It was, well the bank is located in De Soto, but that’s still the KC metro area. This one was done with TriCentury Bank. We’ve also had luck with Great American Bank and Fidelity Bank.
    Gerardo Dominguez Real Estate Agent from Chicago, IL
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Great article @andrew syrios. I think this is a great strategy. You did a great job of walking us through the process.
    Rick C. Rental Property Investor from Collingswood, NJ
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Hey Andrew – I have enjoyed reading your posts and listening to you, your brother, and father on the podcasts. The three of you combined have an incredible amount of experience in this industry, and it is great to hear how you continue to learn and tackle new projects to this day. I am currently trying to get financing for three single family rentals I have in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. So far, the best I have been able to find has been a 5% fixed for 5 years, amortized over 25 years, with an ARM component after the 5th year. I do not want to have an ARM mortgage, but I have not found anyone that will lend without one, because those properties are in an LLC. A few questions for you: 1. Are all of your properties in individual LLCs? 2. Is your 20 year loan 5% fixed or ARM? 3. Would you recommend an ARM if I have no other options? Thanks in advance for any advice!
    Sean Williams from Louisville, KY
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Fanastic article…this is my plan to acquire my next rental property 🙂
    Shane Rupe Investor from Grand Island, Florida
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Great article Andrew! I have enjoyed the podcasts conducted by you, your brother and father as well! You guys are great!
    Tristan Cortez Rental Property Investor from San Antonio, TX
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Awesome!! Thanks for sharing!
    David Holland Realtor from Baltimore, MD
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Thanks for sharing. I hope to pick up some 5-10 property portfolios in the near future.
    Larry Finlon Investor from Syracuse, New York
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Good information good luck in the future.
    Gee
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Re: “Appraisers also seem to be a bit conservative these days. I don’t have good data to back this, but it is certainly my gut feeling. I think that after some of the shenanigans that went on before the 2007-2008 crisis, many appraisers have made a concerted effort to not appraise properties at inflated values. However, in my opinion, many have gone too far in the opposite direction. ” AMEN to that!! That is a topic often ignored or hushed when referring to a major cause of the “real estate bubble”. I was in the mortgage origination field just before the ‘burst’ and saw all kinds of inflammatory ‘shenanigans’ going on behind the scenes back then. Hopefully, most have learned and will progress Appropriately from those experiences.
    Shasha Jhaveri from Irvine, California
    Replied over 2 years ago
    This was so helpful in starting to learn about BRRR houses
    Moises B. Investor from Bronxville, NY
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Hi @andrew syrios Great post though I’m 2 years late lol… I’m currently in the midst of a deal and intend to use the BRRR or better yet BARRR strategy lol… Just so I’m clear, and I asked this question in many forums and I guess re-asking it here for a sanity check. When you refinance, and you receive money back – it is practically a “loan” that you can use to buy other properties, yes?
    Andrew Syrios Residential Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, Missouri
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    More or less, yes. The idea is to either pull out the money you’ve put into the property or pay off the loan that you used to buy and rehab the property. But whatever money you pull out can be used to but the next one.
    Sean Eads from Greenville, South Carolina
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Andrew, when analyzing the numbers (for example on the bp calculator) during the refinance phase. What numbers are you typically shooting for for the monthly cash flow and cash on cash ROI?
    Caleb Dryden Rental Property Investor from Bridgman, MI
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Thanks for writing up this article. It was a great read. When you mentioned paying your private investors 9%of the loan amount, how do you structure this; are you paying them the 9% monthly? Then when you refinance and get 75% of the value back in cash you pay back the lender and you’re left with a cash flowing property? Thanks again
    Pavan Sandhu Investor/Agent from Sacramento, California
    Replied 8 months ago
    Thank you for the writing this great article. Could you recommend a portfolio lender?
    Andrew Syrios Residential Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, Missouri
    Replied 8 months ago
    There are a few national lenders that, while I haven’t used, I’ve heard of others using. They are a bit expensive though. Lima One Capital and A10 Capital are the two I hear about the most. We usually just use community banks though.