BiggerPockets Podcast 148: From 0 to 51 Units Despite Living in a Crazy Expensive Location with Nazz Wang

by |

How do you build up a sizable real estate portfolio when you live in one of the most expensive cities in America? That’s the topic we dive into today on the BiggerPockets Podcast with guest Nazz Wang. Nazz has gone from 0 to 51 units in the past several years, both local in California and across the country. You’ll learn how Nazz overcame a bad first investing experience to find her niche in “lazy real estate investing” and how you can do the same!

Read the Transcript

Click here to read the transcript.

Listen to The Show on iTunes

Click here to listen on iTunes.

Listen to the Podcast Here

Watch the Podcast Here

Help Us Out!

Help us reach new listeners on iTunes by leaving us a rating and review! It takes just 30 seconds and instructions can be found here. Thanks! We really appreciate it!

This Show Sponsored By

b2rfinance-logoWe just wanted to give a shout out to our podcast sponsor on today’s show: B2R Finance

A new commercial lender offering loans specifically for rental investors. B2R Finance could help you unlock equity from existing properties so you can get cash out now.

Learn more by visiting:

Fire Round Sponsorfreshlogo

A huge thanks as well to our Fire Round sponsor FreshBooks.
FreshBooks customers spend less time on paperwork, freeing up 2 days per month to focus on the work they love. What would you do with that extra time?

Learn more by visiting FreshBooks.

In This Episode We Cover:

BiggerPockets-Podcast-Cover 300 300

  • Who is Nazz and how she’s been investing for 10 years now
  • How she got started through house hacking
  • How she acquired the mindset of a landlord back in college
  • Nazz’s first property — and her first big mistake
  • How neglecting the cash flow analysis ended up costing her
  • The issues surrounding owning condo units
  • How to discover and thrive in your niche
  • How many units she currently has
  • The problem with HOAs
  • How she bought in the Midwest to maximize cash flow
  • A discussion about property appreciation (are there any indicators?)
  • Speculation vs. buying things you can afford to keep
  • How Nazz educated herself in real estate
  • Her experience investing as a woman
  • How she finds, finances, and manages properties outside of her area
  • How to establish a pipeline to make investing easier
  • The benefits of the BRRRR strategy
  • How to manage property managers
  • And SO much more!

Links from the Show

Books Mentioned in this Show

Tweetable Topics:

  • “I would never pay money to lose money.” (Tweet This!)

Connect with Nazz

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. Jonna Weber

    Nice show! Way to represent as a female investor, Nazz! I’m the real estate professional in our family too – works out great. I’m always encouraging more moms to jump in. It is an ultimate “work at home” gig, with unbeatable returns at retirement age if you are in the buy and hold realm.

    • Nazz Wang

      Completely agree! Thank you for the encouragement Jonna! We definitely need more women in this line of work, and it is the ultimate work at home choice. As a matter of fact, I mostly work while waiting in the playground or outside a ballet classes, =).

  2. Eddie Yetis

    Hi Nazz,

    Great show! I was curious about the details of the way you choose what properties you invest in. You mentioned that you look for 15% cap rate. What expenses do you include in your calculation? For example for a $100K property, you’d have to make $1250/month after expenses. How much rent how would you expect and what percentage of the rent do each of your expense categories take? e.g.

    Rent: $2000
    Taxes: 12.5%
    Vacancy: 5%
    Management: 8%
    Maintenance: 10%


    • Nazz Wang

      Eddie, it really depends on what you are looking for, what your financial resources are, and where you can make it happen. I take into consideration all expenses a seasoned investor / landlord would. Taxes, insurance, vacancy, pm, repair and maintenance, and when applicable, landlord portion of utilities, which usually includes landscaping / grounds keeping, cleaning, water, common electric, and sometimes heat if it is provided by landlord. I also take into account turn over fees, aka tenant placement fees. How much depends on where the property is and what the local RE market is with management and taxes. I do at least a $2000 budget a year for repairs / maintenance and 10% vacancy. I recalculate my taxes based on purchase value. And depends on where you are, 8% management might be too high or low. For instance, in California, a good pm would probably charge closer to 10-12%, while in the midwest, oyu can get it to as low as 7%.

  3. Allum Ross

    Incredible podcast!

    I do find it a little unrealistic, however. I am in San Francisco as well and like 70% of those properties are going to Chinese buyers who have access to a ton of more capital than the average non Chinese person. How would you realistically recommend someone from a “non monied” background to enter these highly competitive and aggressive markets?

    • Nazz Wang

      I don’t make recommendations to other. I don’t know your situation. I can only speak for myself and what worked for my situation. If you are having a hard time getting what you want out of your local market, I would personally look else where, or readjust my goals.

      If I am feeling “non monied”, honestly, I would invest in my education and training first so I will always have a backup plan for making a decent living with a W2 job. Who knows, things happen =).
      Second, I would find a time and place when the point of entry is reasonable for my resources, and go from there. After all, figuring out how I can do what I want to do is why I get paid as a landlord in my opinion. Best luck!

  4. Tiffany Alexy


    Great episode! There definitely aren’t as many women as men in real estate investing, but I’ve gotten used to being one of the only females in the room, as well as being the youngest – and sometimes being both! Yes there need to be more women, but I also take it as a sign that I’m on the right path.

    We have a lot of similarities w/r/t our stories about getting started in real estate. My mom is Chinese as well and she was the one who initially pushed me to purchase my first property in college. She was my agent on that deal (I also house hacked that one — lived in one room, rented out the 3 others and lived for free/made money), but as soon as I saw the money coming in, I was hooked.. and promptly got my real estate license!

    I’m impressed with your 51 units. I keep accumulating units but I worry about getting too big. Do you hold all your properties in one LLC? Or do you hold a certain # in a few LLCs? I’m curious because I’m trying to figure out my strategy now and want to start it right.

    Thanks again for a great episode!

  5. Tekesha Jackson

    Very good episode! I’m still in the learning phase and trying to figure out where my market should be. I’ve been thinking about venturing out of my area and really liked what you said about how you started looking in the Midwest by circling the cities within the 2 hour radius and then visiting. I have an interest in building a portfolio of multi family properties. You made some great points, I’ll definetely be listening to your podcast again, thank you.

  6. Natasha Keck

    Hi Nazz,
    Thanks for the great podcast. There are so many parallels in our stories. I’m also a California stay-at-home Mom / real estate investor with an engineering background and who is known as the “spreadsheet queen” around my house with my enjoyment of the mathematical analysis process. We owned and managed California properties until 2015 at which point we made a massive transition to turnkey cash flow properties in the Midwest and Texas. I’d love to be as bold as you and develop my own pipeline in a location as the returns are much better than turnkey. Thanks for sharing your story!

  7. Kyle Patrick

    Hi Nazz,

    When you were looking at cities in the Midwest, you said you took a trip and did some investigation into the cities. I’m curious as to what specifically sparked your interest – what trends were you looking for or did you find that made you invest in the Midwest cities that you did?


    • Nazz Wang

      I am looking for a target rent to property price ratio. I also look for a medium sized population and a diverse job market, aka not overly dominant by one industry. After that I look at the city and meet people during my trip and see who I would like to work with. Hope that helps!

  8. Alicia Chang

    Nazz, I was inspired by your story and your success up to this point! While listening to the podcast, I was painting the walls of my old condo in Dallas which is now my first rental property. It’s such a fun and dynamic field. Thanks for agreeing to be apparently one of the few female guests on the show!

  9. ANuraag M.

    Thanks for the awesome podcast. I am in the Silicon Valley and am investing out of state like you. It was nice to learn from your experience in a similar situation.
    If you don’t mind can you give me an idea of % of rents received that are used in maintenance of the properties? This would include things like malfunctioning water heaters, servicing A/C units, and other service calls from the tenant. This would be different from fixed costs like property management and landscaping. I have a handful of out of state investment properties being taken care by property managers and would love to hear the numbers from the 50+ properties you have.

    • Nazz Wang

      Hi Anuraag,

      Thanks for the kinds words.
      I budget for 10% of projected rent as vacancy and eviction costs, and around 1500 to 2000 dollars a year per units for repairs and capex. I also budget 1000 a year for common area repairs per building. So in general, I budget out of projected full rent, 10% for vacancy and evictions, 15% for repairs, a total of 25%. I picked 9 random seasoned property and did an analysis for the entire year of 2015, I collected 88.7% of projected rent, spent 1.83% on evictions and legal proceedings, and 8.44% on repairs. Overall, 21.57% of vacancy / eviction / repairs, compare to my budget of 25%. This will most likely change, because 1. all my properties are newly rehabbed so my repair budget should be lower in the next few years compare to normal rentals; 2. Part of future rent-ready costs will be from the tenant’s security deposit instead from my reserve funds, 3. not much capex at the moment because I do all the big ticket items during rehab, such as updating electrical, repairing/replacing plumbing and replacing/maintaining all mechanicals.

      I personally think my profits are not bad at the moment, but I do expect profit to decrease over time. But I am also expecting to have a bigger and more diverse portfolio to mitigate the risk.

  10. Cody Ray

    Josh/Brandon – Dune is one of my favorite series too. Freaking fantastic. Ya’ll should give them a try.

    Looking back, I’ve never been able to re-read the first one because it starts so slow. And the second/later books are so much better. But all in all… fantastic.

  11. Greg Larson

    Hi Nazz,

    Thank you for a very inspirational show. I am currently negotiating my 4th investment property and have a couple questions that came up while listening to you.

    You mentioned portfolio loans. I see myself heading down that path in a year or two. What kind of interest rate can I expect when talking to a portfolio lender? Are there any pitfalls to look for when doing so?

    You also mentioned that you interviewed countless Property Managers. I currently do my own management but will look to source it out in the future. What kind of questions did you ask and what answers did you look for in order to filter out the BS?

    I think that a lot of people (myself included) will have difficulty figuring out how you get a CAP rate of 15. Here in Central Oregon most people are lucky to get a rate of 5 or 6. I have also looked at properties in the Mid-South and have seen CAP rates in the 12 or so area before renovation but nothing like a 15. When you calculate your return are you somehow incorporating projected appreciation, depreciation, and loan paydown by the rents? I would be interested to know more on how you get this high of a CAP rate.

    And finally, a huge congratulations on (did I hear this right?) your savings rate of 75% of your income! That is a new high.

    Thanks again.

    • Nazz Wang

      Hi Greg,

      Sorry it took me so long to reply, and thank you for all your nice words! Congratulations on your 4th property! Way to go!

      Portfolio loans: in my experience, they are usually about 1% to 2% higher in interest rate, and usually with a 20 year amortization schedule instead of the 30-year amortization you get with a consumer fannie / freddie loan. They are usually 5 year balloon loans and my lenders told me they usually renew with market interest rate at the end of the term. I know Wells Fargo has a 10 year balloon commercial program that is quite attractive.

      Property Managers: I usually just chat on the phone. I personally like to ask real problems us landlords face, and ask the PM’s how they handle it. For instance, I like to ask about their pricing structure. I always thought a traditional pricing structure has huge conflicts of interest. The landlord pays a monthly fee, and if the tenant moves out, the PM gets the normal monthly fee (sometimes), the leasing fee (depends on how many you have, usually 1/2 month rent), and the mark-ups on rent-ready repairs. So I like to ask a PM how they handle that, and see what they reply with this confrontational yet realistic problem. Having managed myself, I know my stuff and can tell how down to earth the PM is.

      15% CAP: I don’t take into consideration appreciation, depreciation, and loan paydown at all. I would say, yes I really got some good deals in the past couple of years. But I am not seeing deals with that high of a CAP rate anymore either. Since then, I have moved on to other types of rentals. I think a lot of it has to do with timing, or rather, having a lot of liquid capital when the deals are there.

      Hope this helps. Congrats again!


  12. NA Phan

    So happy you addressed gender in this podcast. As a female follower, I too always wonder if women have additional challenges in real estate. Being in finance, I feel that I often find myself interested in male dominated industries although I don’t feel discriminated against. Nazz, I found you funny, warm, and inspiring. Thank you and congratulations on your success!

Leave A Reply

Pair a profile with your post!

Create a Free Account


Log In Here