BiggerPockets Podcast 331: 10 Deals on a $20K Waitress Salary With Ashley Hamilton

by | BiggerPockets.com

Ten doors free and clear on a blue-collar salary—today’s guest shares exactly how she did just that!

Brandon and David sit down with Ashley Hamilton, who shares the incredible story of how she went from poverty to success through real estate investing with very little help or guidance.

Ashley shares her remarkable strategies for investing in a market where very few others could, how she used BiggerPockets to develop a system, and how she got the city of Detroit to offer her a deal to buy a property at $500! Ashley also shares how she buys cheap houses at auctions, how she finds banks to finance her rehabs, and how she uses keyword alerts in the BiggerPockets forums to snag deals before anyone else! And be sure to listen for Ashley’s “no milk for her cereal” strategy to overcome and succeed!

If you’re looking for an incredibly inspirational story that highlights how creativity and resiliency can pay off, you want to download this today. 

Click here to listen on iTunes.

Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

Brandon: This is the BiggerPockets podcast show 331.

Ashley: All of my properties are in Detroit and the Detroit city limits. Some of my bad  neighborhoods, well you think it is bad neighborhoods but how is it bad when I paid $2,000 for the house and I get $900 in rent?’

You are listening to a BiggerPockets Radio. Simplifying real estate for investors large and small. If you are here looking to learn about real estate investing without all the hype, you are in the right place. Stay tuned and be sure to join the millions of others who have benefited from BiggerPockets.com, your home for real estate investing online.

Brandon: What is up everybody? This is Brandon Turner, host of the BiggerPockets podcast. Here with my friend, my co-partner in crime, my conference attendee partner,

David Greene. What is up, dude? 

David: What is up, Brandon? We, you and I, just got back from the Pacific Northwest Real Estate Expo hosted by Tarl Yarber, a BiggerPockets fan and contributor and we had a blast. We were just hanging around 900 or 950 or so dedicated real estate investors wanting to learn as much as they could. Of course, you were the Belle of the Ball. Everywhere we went, cannot take five steps without somebody being like, ‘Oh my gosh, it is Brandon Turner.’ Laying out a red carpet for you, flashing lights and…

Brandon: Massages, getting my feet rubbed, it was really great. 

David: Yes.

Brandon: No, none of that happened.

David: I was surprised to see that side of you. I did not know you were one of those guys that is like take all the brown M&Ms out of my bowl in my dressing room, I do not want brown M&Ms around me. A bit of a diva. 

Brandon: That is exactly, that is exactly how it went. They call me Brandon ‘Diva’ Turner for a reason. Alright, no it was awesome. Here is a quick tip for everybody. Well, actually, it is a Quick Tip for everybody. I think, actually, Kevin had a Quick Tip but I am going to throw this one out there instead. You should go to real estate conferences. Like I am not talking about like the necessarily like the boot camps are like the paid like three day ra-ra let us sell you on a $100 course kind of thing or like the three hour long seminar. I am talking about like actual legit real estate conferences where real estate investors get together and talk real estate. Like Tarl has one, I know Dave Van Horn has one over on the East Coast. I think Mid Atlantic, there is one in Chicago, Brie Smith is hosting.  Joe Fairless has one in Denver every year. 

BiggerPockets may end up having one this year or early next. Like these things are so good for like getting around other people who are actually excited in doing work, getting in the real world. I would walk away from those things inspired, motivated. I am talking to this guy in the gym and this like totally unassuming nice guy in the gym. We ran into each other there during the conference and I am like, ‘What do you do?’ He is like, ‘Oh, well,  I listened to the podcast a couple of years ago. I decided to get into real estate. I have done 75 deals.’ I am just like, what? Like this is so cool. Like just hearing people who are like, yes, I just got started a few years ago and now I am crushing it.

Anyway, your Quick Tip, not so Quick Tip today, is men go find a real estate event to go to in the next few months. Find a real estate conference. Book it out, go to the hotel, stay at the hotel, go hang out at the lobby bar.

Just surround yourself for a couple of days with people. It will inspire you, educate you, motivate you, and make you a better investor. There is your Quick Tip. 

David: I did a class on how you can work as an agent to help build your business. 

Brandon: Yes, you crushed it.

David: You get wealth by learning, investing, right? But when I said, how many people here have done at least one deal? Probably 90% of the room raised their hand. 

Brandon: Yes. 

David: That was like, man, this is where you want to be if you want to be around people that are actually making progress and doing stuff. Just the guy that you are talking to when you are standing in line to get your coffee has probably done deals and you can learn from that person. 

Brandon: Yes. Very very cool experience. But anyway, we have got to get on today’s show because today’s show is a fantastic episode from somebody who is a few steps ahead of where you are, but not like a million steps ahead and that is why I love these types of shows, right? Today’s guest is Ashley Hamilton. Ashley is awesome because she owns 10 properties and she bought them in an area that many people would be afraid of, including the former host of the BiggerPockets podcast. We used to make a lot of jokes about Detroit. 

She talks about how she was able to use her market knowledge to like figure out a way to make it work there.

In fact, she started while making $20,000 a year as a waitress. Two kids, single mother in like Eminem’s backyard. I mean essentially like she has an inspiring, incredible story. If you have ever said the words I do not have the money or you have ever said I cannot find any deals or I have gotten no time, you have no excuse after listening to today’s show and she walks to exactly how she was able to do it. But before we get to Ashley’s interview, let us hear from today’s show sponsor.


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Brandon: Alright. Big thanks as always to our sponsors and now that is permission yet.  Let us get to the interview with Ashley. But last thing I will say is if you enjoy this episode today, if you enjoy the BiggerPockets podcast, will you do us a favor? I know we asked for this a lot, but it really helps and I know that most of you have not done it. Go over to iTunes or Google Play or Stitcher, wherever you listen to this, and leave us a rating and review. Just let people know that you liked the show. 

Again, we have got like 5,000 or 6,000 or 10,000 reviews or something like that, but there is like a quarter million people listening to this show every week so that means you ain’t done it yet, right? If you do, let us know over on Instagram, @BiggerPockets, that you left us a review or @DavidGreene24, @BeardyBrandon and we will give you a virtual high five. Thank you so much. With that, let us get to today’s show with Ashley Hamilton. 

Alright. Ashley, welcome to the BiggerPockets podcast. Good to have you here.

Ashley: Thank you. It is definitely good to be here. I am super excited for today.

Brandon: Yes, it is going to be awesome. Before we start recording today, Ashley told me a story about how she had this plan to someday come on the BiggerPockets podcast and to meet David and I and here you are today on. Dreams come true. 

Ashley: Absolutely. Great stuff.

Brandon: It is awesome. Very cool. Well, you totally deserve it. I mean I know a little bit about your story and it is awesome. I am excited to kind of dig in deeper and learn more about what you have done, how you have been able to do it. Ashley was born a multi multi-millionaire. Actually came out with millions in her hand, just clutching dollars, and was able to build a massive portfolio. Okay, maybe not. Let us hear your story from the beginning. How did you get started with real estate? Like we will talk about before real estate and we getting into that very first deal.

Ashley: Yes. Basically, I got started in real estate when I was younger. I always liked to watch HGTV, the Flip this House things, all of that. 

Brandon: Yes.

Ashley: I always had interest really early. I did not start from much. I grew up kind of poverty.  My mother, she did not work. She was unemployed. My father was as well. We were on government assistance and we were on section eight and we lived in Detroit our whole life. But to me, I had a perfect childhood. I did not realized that I did not experience or get the luxuries that most people did. It was normal to me but growing up I realized now that we were living in poverty. Nobody was in business, nobody even owned a home. My mother, she did not own a home or anybody. I just kind of grew up that way. I knew that early on that I wanted to be independent and that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I kind of did not have anybody to look up to or anybody to ask for help.

Brandon: I have a question for you. I am wondering about like growing up in that mentality, that that poverty mentality. I am curious, and I am sure you will get to it, like how you started thinking otherwise but like I am wondering if you can, I guess, talk to people for a minute if you could. Just any advice. Somebody comes up to you and they are in that same spot.  They were raised in poverty, they were raised not knowing people who are out there hustling and entrepreneuring and real estate investing. Is entrepreneuring a word? I just invented that. I am wondering like, I mean do you have any advice for those people who are in that spot? Before we get into your story, just like how to break out of that mentality, that mindset?

Ashley: Absolutely. Basically, just be optimistic about everything. The biggest thing that I have learned or I feel like I took on early on as being a problem solver or never crying over spilled milk. If ever I had a problem, if we did not have… We had cereal but we did not have any milk at home. Instead of crying and go on about, I will just make a different meal, maybe peanut butter and jelly. It is like knowing that you have a problem, addressing it head on and then being a problem solver, being optimistic. I would say do not be afraid of things if you think they are unattainable. Just stay focused on your goals and they can happen. Just work hard on them. You may have to do some sacrificing but it definitely will work out for you.

Brandon: You know, I often say David Greene here is the king of analogies but I am going to say that was one of the best analogies I have heard about like you do not have milk for the cereal, okay, we will make something else, right?

Ashley: Yes, absolutely. 

Brandon: That is exactly what a perfect definition of what an entrepreneur. Because throughout your entire entrepreneurial career, whether you are doing real estate investing, oh, I do not have the money for this deal. Well, but I will sit on the couch and watch TV instead, right? Like that is what most people do. Okay, I love that mindset, that is different. Alright, walk us through how did you get your very first deal? Where did that come from? 

Ashley: Well, early on I knew that what my goal was to retire at 30.

Brandon: Okay.

Ashley: To buy ten properties and sell them off for $100,000 at 30 and then I will be a millionaire and then life is going to be great. I will have a $1M, I will never have to work again. Well, that definitely was not the case but that was the plan at 22 years old. How was I going to do that? Well, I had to eliminate my biggest expense which is my rent. I was paying $700 a month in rent at 22. I had two kids, single parent. I was making $20,000 a year as a waitress. 

Brandon: Wow.

Ashley: Yes. I wanted to eliminate that expense. Well, a lot of people say that I cannot get started because I do not have money, right? That is everybody’s biggest thing. Well, I did not have a mother who I can borrow $10,000 from. I did not have a 401K, I did not have a line of credit I can get. I had to find some way. Well, the good thing about it is not having money kind of worked in my benefit because I got a tax return at the end of the year. By me only making $20,000 and I had two kids, I was able to get a five to $6,000 tax return. I went to a Rich Dad Poor Dad seminar and I got the book. I was super excited. When I got my tax return that year, called a local real estate agent, and our properties in Detroit, this was in 2009, we are selling for $5,000, $4,000, $3000, $6,000. I found the perfect house, it was $6,300. Three bedroom brick with a basement ranch. Okay, great, how am I going to get that, right? Well, I got my tax return.

When I got the tax return for $6,000 I was able to slowly save up the rest of the money for the clothes and I did not need much but probably like another thousand dollars to add with it. I went ahead and bought the property. It was $6,300 to close and made it an extra $1,000. Once I got the property, I needed about $3,000 to $4,000 worth of work. I saved up for that and it took me about five months to get that to do the work. But basically I just wanted the house to be livable. It was for me and my kids, but I did not have to have granite countertops or anything that. Basically, I went on craigslist, hired a contractor to paint the house. Of course he ripped me off and only painted it halfway, painted over wallpaper, whatever.

We did not have any plumbing so hired a local plumber to do the plumbing repairs and that was it. Actually, I moved in a house that did not even have a furnace in it. It was August in Detroit, it was not necessary but I just did not have the money. I got into the property off of pure savings and my tax return, honestly. Once I got in, I saw my number one problem was my biggest expense was my rent. I did not have to pay rent. The biggest takeaway I can tell people in this situation is like what I learned from that, even though I did not have to make that $700 rent payment every month, I still made that rent payment into a savings account. Instead of paying the rent for $700, I will take $600 and put it in the savings account because I was living fine. I was not boiling out of control, but I was living fine paying the $700 in rent.

I just continued to live the same way I did frugally and just save that $600 because I knew once I got one house, I wanted to keep doing it. I had a goal of getting 10 properties. That is the biggest takeaway. Once you eliminate a debt or if you pay off student loan debt, for example. If you are paying $400 a month in student loan debt and you pay it off, well that $400 is going to magically disappear if you just do not budget for it or do not park anywhere. You are maybe living below your means but you were living by paying it. Continue to make it. Maybe just put $350 in a savings account and you will be surprised how far you know that money grows within a year.

Brandon: That is such a good point. I mean that actually works two different ways, I guess. I mean I call often the income creep. It says like, hey, when you get a raise at work, you get a raise of $500 a month, you automatically like naturally without trying, everybody does it, they start spending that extra $500 and your life does not really improve any differently, right? It is just like the subtle little things. When I was in college, I would sleep in my car instead of getting a hotel. Then as I get in hotels and then it is like nicer hotels. Like if I was like traveling on a road trip. Like we all kind of do this income creek, but you are saying it works the other way as well and I love that.

I have not really thought about it but it is totally true. When you start paying off things, when you start saving money on different things, that money will also disappear. Make sure that does not happen. I think that is fantastic tip. I think everyone should like think about it in their life, like what have they done that and what is going to be paid off next? What can they reduce the rent? It is not something to sit on the couch and do nothing. Hey, I am making now… I am living on five grand a year total because I do not have any expenses like keep making that money, put it somewhere because we are naturally going to. Okay. 

Ashley: Yes.

Brandon: You bought that first house, super cool. I am wondering about neighborhood stuff, right? When I think back in the day with Josh Dorkin, when he was on the show here, that was like the running joke, right? It was I am going to go buy a house for $6,300 in Detroit. How did feel about that? How did you overcome the difficulties of that? What was the neighborhood like? Was Josh right in assuming that there was all war zones or was this misunderstood? 

Ashley: Absolutely not. My thing was I always wanted to be close to as to eight mile because eight mile is the bridge point between Detroit and the suburbs. 

Brandon: Okay.

Ashley: The police respond quick around eight miles. I bought the property. It was about 10 houses off eight miles. There was not a vacant property in sight. I had great neighbors, great schools. It was actually a park three doors down from my house with a basketball court and life was good. I grew up in Detroit, and honestly I grew up in a really bad neighborhood, but in Detroit, and I am sure in any neighborhood is more so, if you are not hanging out with the wrong people and you are not doing the wrong things. Things typically do not happen to you.

I was a single mother with two small kids. I was a target. I would come in from work sometimes at 11 or 12 o’clock at night and I have never, to this day, no one has ever broken into my house. I have never been robbed. I go to the gas station. I do things sometimes that I think that I should not do. Like go to the ATM late at night but I just never experienced these things and all of my properties are in Detroit and the Detroit city limits. Some of them are in bad neighborhoods. Well, you would think it is bad neighborhoods. But how is it bad when I paid $2,000 for the house and I get $900 in rent?

Brandon: In order to pay $900 in rent, you are going to have to make at least three times the rent.  You have an individual making $3,000 to $4,000 a month and they want to stay in these neighborhoods.

What I think the stigma of Detroit are their bad neighborhood because the properties are valued so low and that is definitely not the case. Just really quick, not to get off track, but I was thinking about moving to California a couple of years ago. We were going to Disney, me and the kids. I said I will arrange some places to see in Anaheim. I was going to rent a place, it was $3,600 a month for three bedroom apartment. Oh, great, that is fine. I will make it, I will be an agent. I will go work with David Greene, whatever.

We went and when I went into the apartment, there was gang signs on the front gate and I was like, ‘I do not want to pay three times the rent to live in California just to say I am doing it, but I have to worry about my kids. I do not want them exposed. I have never seen a game graffiti gate in front of an apartment building, assume like they were just painted off. I mean that is the thing about Detroit but it is really,  just guess that Detroit like they would just paint it off.  I mean that is the stigma about Detroit, but it is really everywhere. I just guess Detroit gets the biggest spotlight because the properties are so cheap.

Brandon: Yes, that is so true. I think, to Josh’s credit, I always think he was making fun of the people who are like, where is the cheapest place to buy real estate in the country? Oh, it is Detroit. I have never been there. I do not know anything about it. Let us go buy the cheapest properties there. I think what you had this competitive advantage is that you understood the market, right? You understood what like why you chose a neighborhood that that did not have a ton of vacant houses. You are not buying like the one occupied house on the entire street of like a bunch of rundown things. 

There is nothing wrong, I do not think there is any wrong with buying in a rough or necessarily area. I mean my best performing property out of my entire portfolio, my best performing properties in the worst neighborhood, but I understood it and I knew that that one block was different than all the other blocks around it and I understood why that was different. I understand the house that I bought, I understood what I was doing. Because I had that insider knowledge, I was able to make that investment work and work really really well. It sounds like you were doing the same thing, you had that insider knowledge.

Ashley: Yes. My biggest thing is that low income people, poor people, people that live in poverty, they need places too.

Brandon: Yes.

David: Yes.

Ashley: There is not a shortage of places of tenants, there is a shortage of good landlords. Because when people find a property so cheap, they are like, oh it is just a rental. Oh, I am not going to replace this. I will just throw this together because it is just a rental. Well, I definitely do not do that. Any one of my properties, I will live in it myself because I am able to remove myself from the situation. I never want to be bigger than I am. Like even now, out of all the success I feel like I have accomplished, I feel like I am nowhere near where I need to be or in a place where I can look above people. That is where I am at with it. Like if you are not… You do not discriminate against people, just be open minded. Do not feel like just because it is a low income area or a lower property purchase, do not treat it any differently. Do not try to cut corners, I would say.

Brandon: Yes.

David: That is really nice. Actually, I think Brandon made a really good point that Josh was getting at do not go there just because it is cheap, right? ‘Oh, the houses are a $1,000. I should go buy some, right?’ Because there was a time where you could buy a house, they were giving them away for free in Detroit. Like you can have it if you will just pay the property taxes and you would have still lost money because there was no way to rent it out, right?

Ashley: Absolutely.

David: That was something you had to understand is well what neighborhoods are the few tenants that are here are actually willing to live in? You did what very few people have done. In fact, I do not know if I have really talked to any other investors from Detroit. You made it work because you had local market knowledge.

Ashley: Absolutely.

David: You are boots on the ground person that I look for with by long distance strategy. I am like, well, I can invest in Detroit if I have an Ashley because Ashley knows what that block is that Brandon was talking about and Ashley knows that the area that has gang graffiti on the gate of the apartment complex versus the area that is an apartment complex full of gang members, that is completely different where there is going to be like, fires for from met labs and stuff like that. I believe you are a property manager and agent now as well, right? 

Ashley: Yes. 

David: I just wanted to point out that like you are the person that I am looking for when I am saying, ‘Well, David, I want to get started buying in this neighborhood. What should I do? We got to find an Ashley. You find the person who is doing it there, who is successful themselves, who has a strategy and then you pay that person in some way, whether it is through the commission or a bonus as a property manager or whatever to help you find deals. I just want to kind of commend you for not letting that stop you from doing it but instead you said, ‘Well, I may be in an area where it is tough to make money. I am only making $22,000 as a waitress but I can buy houses here where no one else can because I know what no one else does.’ 

Ashley: Alright, absolutely. Then honestly, that was the case. I probably did not see that early on because even though I am interested in investing out of state or in other areas, other markets. My biggest thing in Detroit, there is not one zip code that I would not invest in. Now, basically how I determined that I will do a drive pass. But if you cannot drive past, you can do a Google maps. Basically, what I am looking for is maybe just the closest three to six houses and make sure they are not vacant or completely burned down. You can do that with Google maps. You can hire local people or you can look like Rentometer, I believe it is called, and just see. Or call a local property manager for vacant property just to see how long are these properties staying on the market.

Detroit is bringing in so many good programs now. Even like I bought a multifamily by accident. We are just helping out, trying to help somebody to… There was an older lady that was getting screwed around on the tenants. I offered to come in for free, give her some advice on how to fix it up and she just really wanted to get rid of it. She did not want to put any more money in it and I ended up purchasing it from her for $14,000. It was next door to a vacant two family flat. Everybody said why would you buy that? Well, actually the city of Detroit contacted me by me being the owner next door and they offered me to buy the two family flat for $500.

Brandon: Really?

Ashley: Yes. You can buy. In Detroit, they have opportunities where you can buy the property next door or the vacant lot next door to you. If it is for $500 and you are just going to an agreement to fix it up and things like that.

David: What is that saying? People say luck is when opportunity meets preparation. Is that what it is? 

Brandon: I think so. 

David: That is exactly like what happened with Ashley. You were out there in the game making things happen and something came your way and everyone say, well that must be nice. The city just happened to call you and say, here is a great deal. They are not calling me, right? But that is because you were out there making it happen. I know this is true because it works this way in other things in life. Like when you are playing basketball, if you are an aggressive player, you get more loose balls. Rebounce comes to you because you are out there making things happen. Like good things come your way. When you are making moves and you are aggressive and you are in the game and the same is true for a lot of other jobs. If you are a salesperson and you are really friendly and you talk to everybody in the office and not just your own staff, well opportunity will come your way through that job because other people knew you and liked you.

That is what you are doing actually, is you are out there mixing it up, figuring stuff out, running a lot of deals, analyzing a lot of stuff, looking at opportunity. You buy one, you are trying to do your best job that you can, making it happen. Then if people see, then they are drawn to you, right? They are not the bank or the city of Detroit is not going to go browsing through the BiggerPockets forums and try to find somebody asking questions and like, can you buy this house from us, right? They are going to do the easiest thing they can, which is, oh look, somebody bought that house. Maybe they are likely to buy this one and that is what they are going to go out and do. That is another principle that we can pull out of this just like by being aggressive and putting yourself out there, you can make things happen.

Ashley: Absolutely. Early on when I went to that Rich Dad Poor Dad seminar, like at that point, I did not know anything about real estate or anything like that but I learned two important quotes. One quote was from Warren Buffett, ‘Be greedy when others are fearful and be fearful when others are greedy.’ In that time in Detroit, everybody was fearful. Even though I did not have the means or the income to be as greedy as I wanted to, I definitely feel like that is what I was doing at that time. In situations where everybody was backing out of and being scared of, I was just buying and offering on everything I possibly could. In another quote that I typically live my life by and I could say will be a good example for anybody that does not have the money, the knowledge or the family support would be, ‘Be willing to live a few years how most people will not so that you can live the rest of your life how most people cannot or do not.

Brandon: Yes.

David: Oh yes. Brandon says that all the time, but it is like a Dave Ramsey quote. Is it, Brandon? 

Brandon: Well, I say it like… Dave Ramsey say something like live like no one else now so you can live like no one else later. I like the way that you put that, Ashley, better or that person did. 

Ashley: That is where I first heard of that. I probably feel like people probably changed it a little bit and called it their quote or something like that. 

David: That is what Brandon does. He bites quotes, that is exactly right. 

Brandon: I do not think I… No, I do not ever claim quotes for myself, I just quote other people all the time. I have like a thousand quotes up here that I just like to throw out there.

David: Changes one word and then most of them… 

Brandon: Most of them are Jim Rohn. 

Ashley: That is what I am going to say. Maybe I should just say…

David: No, no, no. I said live like nobody else later. He just said live like no one else later. This is different. 

Ashley: This is my…

David:  This is Brandon’s quote, yes. 

Brandon: You go look at my Instagram. I do not have quotes of my own on there, alright? Calm down, David. David Greene. 

David: E-mail Josh Dorkin and ask him, he will tell you time. 

Brandon: It was one time, one time. Alright, alright. 

Ashley: Sorry about that.

Brandon: No, actually yes, this is awesome. Okay. I want to know… First of all, let me go to the end of your story real quick. Where you are at today? How many properties you have today?

Ashley: Okay. Right now I own ten properties, I am sorry, nine properties. But ten doors because one of them is a multifamily. 

Brandon: Yes, that is right. Okay, you start with that very first one, now you got ten which is awesome. Can you walk us through? Like I mean we have to go through each one individually, but how did you get from that first to the 10th? I mean what did you do for the first rental then and the second, the third? How did you pull those off?

Ashley: My second rental, like I said, I was able to put the money that I was paying in rent into a savings account and then I waited until I got my tax return the next year. My second or my first rental for my second property was I paid $4,000 for. It needed about $6,000 worth of work. I had the money because I was saving, I had saved about $5,000 for the year and I got another tax return for about $5,000 but my mom was 55 years old at the time and had never owned a property. She was getting ready to have to move out of her house. I decided to do a land with my mom. She was only paying $700 a month in rent and I told her she can move here and pay me $600 in rent and then in three years she can own it.

Well, I wish I could have gave my mom a property or bought my mother a property but at that time I was still only making $22,000 a year. I just was not in a situation. I had to come in as a business decision but also trying to help my mom out because if it was not for me, she would have still been renting. That was really smart to me or a really good situation for me because it eliminated the rehab costs because she did the work herself and it eliminated the expenses, the taxes, the property insurance and stuff like that. That is how I got the second property. I want to hit a land contract for my mom with zero down and just $600 a month for three years because I only paid $4,000 for the property.  

Brandon: That is awesome. 

Ashley: Yes, and basically after I just kept repeating the process. All the rent from the property that I was collecting, the rent that I was saving for my own house and then my income just basically saved that and then waited until I got my tax return the following year then bought another property. I repeated that step and then eventually I was able to buy two properties or more in a year. I know I kind of stuttered a little bit on it but I really just wanted to hone in on that repeat process and how I was just being saving and being frugal because I could have said I own a property or own two properties, I can go have every new iPhone that comes out and I admit it, I still had a goal. It is repeatable but I did have to live below my means. I had to see all my friends, I was only 23 at the time, all my friends were going to concerts, taking trips, buying new clothes and I could not go. I could not have those things but it was more so me living how most people will not because I knew later on I want it to be able to be financially free and live our most can or do not. That is actually the situation right now. 

Brandon: Okay. Yes, it is such an inspiring story because I mean I know people who are making $50,000 to $75,000, $150,000 a year who are telling me they do not have any money to invest in real estate. They cannot do it. To go a while to make $150,000 a year, I cannot. I am living on paycheck to paycheck.

Ashley: Yes.

Brandon: You are like, look, if there is a will, there is a way. That is a quote I invented. If there is a will, there is a way…

David: Always let your conscience be your guide. 

Brandon: Michael Scott. 

David: This reminds me of there was somebody in M1. It might be a GoBundance, I think his name was Austin. He told us all he wanted to learn wholesaling and he literally moved to Georgia to work for a big wholesaler out there and he was like I do not know where I am going to live, I do not know what I am going to do, but I am going to learn this business from this guy. Somebody told me the other day, he just grossed like $2.2M in assignment fees after like three years, right? From nothing to that. I was just thinking as you were talking, actually like the things that Brandon and I hear all the time is, ‘Well, there is no deals out there and then, ‘Well, I do not have any money. How do I do this without any money?’ Right? ‘Well, there is no one to teach me. I cannot find a mentor.’ You had none of those things and yet you made it happen in one the toughest markets ever.

I was thinking if someone had done what you did, if they just said, you know what? I am going to move to Detroit. There is a lot of cheap houses. I am going to figure out how to make this happen. I am going to get a job and learn how to give value to employers so I can make money. I am going to get to know these neighborhoods and know where I can buy and where I cannot buy and what I can rent for and how to find deals. Other people could have done the same thing you did but they are not willing to do what you did. They were willing to forego the concerts and the new shoes and the new clothes like your friends were and so you earn the right to have that. I just think that like you had this confidence about you in spite of the fact that you are very humble because you know like I put in work other people did not put in so I deserve this.

Ashley: Yes, absolutely. That is definitely the case. It really was hard and it really, by me being so young, I really feel like I was missing out but I just did not want… I knew early on I could not depend on anybody. Unfortunately, that just was not in my life. I wish I had a mother or father that I can ask to borrow money but if I failed and my car went down and I did not have $100 to fix it or whatever their price, then my kids were going to be on the bus and every day I wake up, every day I go to sleep, my biggest thing is to give my kids the life that I did not have. That is the only thing that keeps me going. Like I do not care if I am not doing this so I can have a $50,000 car or Jag in my driveway or a $2 million house. I am doing it strictly to give my kids a better life and to give them what I did not have.

Brandon: Yes, it is such a powerful why. Just shows the reason I am having like a more powerful why than I want to swim in a gold vault with like Scrooge McDuck, right? Like it is not about the money, it is not about the number of coins in our bank account that we can swim in. This is about for every person is probably a little different. But for most of us, it has something to do with our legacy, our children, what we are passing on. Like that is what drives you. When you are at that hard point in your life or you just do not know what to do and you do not know how you are going to get that next deal done or things are falling apart around you. It is when you are in that part of your life, you remember oh yes, I am not doing this for the Scrooge McDuck vault. I am doing this for my kid, for my kids, my generation. Yes, I love that. Hey, just a quick break from today’s show because I want to introduce one of our sponsors of this show. 

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David: It looks like you made some other moves to help build your wealth and I am very interested in that because I made that same move. You became a real estate agent. Can you tell us a little bit about like why you did that, what your business looks like and maybe how it helps you with your investing?

Ashley: Yes, absolutely. To be honest, well when I bought my first property, the real estate agent who sold me that property, she talked me into doing it and I was able to become a real estate agent and things were going good but in Detroit the commissions are not much because the properties are not selling for much. I would work 30 to 45 days on a deal and I will probably make a commission of $1,200 and I will be splitting that with a broker. Basically, I learned early on to find a niche and then the niche was like rental properties because I would make a one month’s rent which is like $700 for a commission if I found a tenant for a property. I kind of found that rental niche and kind of focused on there. Being a real estate agent, it has definitely helped my business knowing the process and things like that. But honestly, I do not really practice a real estate that much in the city. I would come to my investors privately but I really do not make a ton of money on real estate. I probably do two or three deals a year.

Brandon: Okay. 

David: Do you find that that is just because the commissions are so low you are not going to make a ton of money. Does it help you with your own investing or is it just something you kind of do to give back to help other investors get going because there is so few agents that understand how to work with investors?

Ashley: Absolutely. I use it to give back to help my investors that I work for into my property management company. It just helps me by knowing the market was out there and seeing things when it first come on the MLS. But it really does not help me in my real estate business because I cannot represent myself on a deal. I have not really used my real estate license to expand my business that much because like right now I have multiple streams of income. I still work part time at a major bank here in Detroit.

I worked 20 hours a week there. I have my own property management company where I manage 35 properties and I have my personal rental properties. I am also a single mother. I am very active in my kid’s life. I want to be there every morning when they wake up, when they go to sleep, I take them to school and pick them up from school and every track meet, cheerleading practice, I am there. I really cannot do too much more. I would love to be in a real estate in Detroit. I know real estate is great everywhere else, but in Detroit, to me the commissions are not worth the sacrifice and working 45 days for the commission and the deal does not go through and I miss my daughter’s cheerleading competition. 

David: Yes. 

Ashley: You see what I am saying?

Brandon: That is such a good point. I mean it is why it is so important to never like rely on one piece of advice from anybody that says that you should do this or you should not do this. It is all subjective, right? Like being a real estate agent for David here, like David Greene is making a lot more commission off of his bay area home sales than you are going to be making off to try home sales. Just knowing that and then looking at your own life like what do you want to get out? What is the outcome you want? It is not working a whole lot of hours. I totally get that and then the property management thing, I think that is cool. I love property management quite a bit. You got 35 properties there. Are you looking to grow that thing as well? Is that kind of one of the plans or you are happy where it is at?

Ashley: Yes, I am happy with that. I feel like I can grow it but I would only do it to help other investors as knowledgeable at what I do now.  I kind of got tricked into it. I was self-managing all my properties. I did not know I was going to be a property manager. I had no inspirations or did not even know what they did but I was doing it for myself. A hedge fund out in California. They contacted me and said, ‘Hey, I see you list a couple of rentals. Hey, this is what I am doing. Could you do what you are doing for yourself for me?’ I am like, yes, I guess I am doing it for myself and it turned out really great and now I am making money. I am doing what I would be doing anyway. Just have my phone available 24 hours for my tenants in case the toilet breaks. Now, I am getting paid to do it for 25 other people.

Brandon: Yes. 

Ashley: Another thing is my properties are all inside the property management company. I manage my properties. Actually, only out of the ten properties that I own, only two people know that I am the owner. I kind of tell them that I am the property manager. It kind of gets to that Chris Voss. I watched a webinar with him and he was like seemed powerless and kind of that way you are not cornered into making a decision. Even if this was my property and someone said, ‘Hey, I want a new fence put up.’ This fence is on. I will say, ‘Oh, okay. Let me talk to the owner about it.’ But I am the owner but they do not know. That way if I have to say no, it is not like, ‘Oh, she is a B.’ I am not, they do not like me or anything like that.

Brandon: I did the exact same thing. 

David: It is a very simple advice but it is extremely effective.

Brandon: Yes. 

Ashley: Yes. At first, I did not do that but once I started doing that about three years ago, things were just, oh, it just went so smoothly. Like I mean for our interview now, I have been preparing for two hours. Our interview, will probably go hours. My phone is probably not going to ring one time because I have my system so good in place. I do not defer. First of all, when I first get a property, I try to fix everything. It does not matter if I pay $2,000 for it, or $20,000. I am going to do all the work. Now, I am not going to say, hey, it is a rental or hey, this is in Detroit. I am going to put the same money and time and make things just as nice as it was in the suburbs. That is going to defer a lot of the repairs. But when somebody do call me about something, I am not going to say, hey, I am not going to make an instant return off of that or the tenants are just being petty. I want them to have a good quality of life as well.

Just because they are a low income or whatever the situation might be, does not mean they do not deserve a good quality of life. It does not mean that they are bad people. I was poor my whole life and I was not a bad person. I was not a gang member. My mother and father, they were not robbers but we were just in a situation where I lived in a really bad neighborhood but I still wanted nice things. I still felt like I deserved that because it was not my choice to be there. Like I said, there is not a shortage of renters in Detroit, there is a shortage of good landlords in Detroit and good property managers in Detroit. 

Brandon: Yes. 

Ashley: That is what scare a lot of people away.

Brandon: Yes, that is so good. That is so good. That is one of those little clips out. We like to take a little clips from the show and like put it up on Instagram because they are so good. Like that was like one of those things. Just because they are poor, just because they are in poverty, they are born differently than others, does not mean they are bad people. It does not mean they do not deserve a great house. One thing, this is actually a quote I created, David Greene, thank you very much, but right? Unless somebody else can tell me I stole this, but even those in poverty like Chip and Joanna Gaines, right?

Like in other words like if you can provide a good quality product to people, just because it is a low income house does not mean, or it is a low income area or a low lower income individual, does not mean that you do not provide good quality stuff and good quality stuff does not have to be that much more expensive. It is just thinking like what… It just helps us as landlords too. I mean better quality stuff is going to last longer. People tend to take better care of their properties, less repairs, maintenance, etc. Alright, let us go back to your properties here. You got these ten units now, these ten doors. Do you have, I mean, were you still buying them cash or do you have a bunch of loans on these now? Where are you at on that?

Ashley: Not at all. That is the second phase because I did not even know because to be honest with you, the BRRRR strategy, Buy, Repair, Rent, Refinance, Repeat. Well, I cannot buy it because the properties are not appraising for more than 40 with the banks are not lending on. I do not have any credit or equity. I can repair it but in rented out but how am I going to refinance it? The banks all have minimums. It is all cash but I have been able to be creative lately, the last two years, that is how I have been able to grow more. I have been using credit cards, honestly.

Brandon: Really?

Ashley: 0% credit cards. But they are one year so they are all paid off. Right now, I have no debt on the property. 

Brandon: Wow.

Ashley: Yes. A couple of them, I used credit cards over one year, but they are paid them off now. There is no debt on them.

Brandon: Okay. You got ten doors, nine properties, ten doors all free and clear at this point. I mean, that is amazing. I mean we do not have to go into every bit of how much money they make, but on average like what are these things renting for and then what are these properties worth today? It is still worth $5,000?

Ashley: Yes. Being on the BiggerPockets recently, I realized that I can do cash out refinances in Detroit. That was never my plan. Remember my goal, which is to get ten and wait for them to reach $100,000 to make $1M whether it is in 10 years or whatever. I never thought about refinancing, pulling cash out. I am talking to a couple of lenders on the forums and networking through people, I realized that I got a couple of appraisals on them and right now the portfolio is worth $469,000, not including my personal residence which have boosted up to about $560,000 in equity that I have free and clear. I do not have not one loan on any of them. I thought that that is nothing because, honestly, I listened to the BiggerPockets podcast and I hear all these people that have 30 doors and I am like, well, what is a half a million dollars in real estate? How is that going to benefit me?

Now, I know, in the process that I am in and the lenders that I have worked with now about the refinances and buying bigger properties and multi units, now I believe that next year this time I am going to own over $2M in real estate because I am planning on to do the cash out refi and use those as down payments. That is good but on average just for this one of my most recent properties for I paid $2,000 for the property. I know that is weird. I put $17,000 worth of work in their property so I am all into it for $19,000. That property rents for $925 a month. 

Brandon: Wow.

Ashley: The tenants pay everything, up and down, I rehab everything so I have not had to do any repairs on it. That is basically how it has been my whole career. 

Brandon: How did you find that deal?

Ashley: It was an auction. Most of my deals I get them from the MLS but Detroit have a tax auction every year and I believe every city has as well. It is a fee like of $2,500 if you want to buy one property and $10,000 if you want to buy multiple. Well, that eliminates a lot of people because they do not have the $10,000 but you get the money back if you do not buy. I found it in the auction, it was $2,000 and that is how I purchased it.

David: What did you say it is probably worth now that it is fixed up?

Ashley: $42,000.

David: Okay. There are people that will say, ‘Well, how do you buy a $2,000 house?’ But when you really look at it, you went through the rigors of an auction, you had enough money to put on deposit to get into that auction. You bought a house with the rehab budget of $19,000 right when the house was only worth $40,000. Like 50% of that house’s value was in it is rehab, right? Like there is not many. Imagine if you were buying houses for a $100,000, but you need to put $50,000 into it to make it livable. You put yourself in a position where few other people wanted to go. There were a lot of barriers to entry and that is how you got that great deal, right? Good investors, we look for that. That is opportunity. If there is a lot of barriers to entry, there is less competition, that is where you are going to get that deal. That is really, really smart.

Ashley: Yes. Actually, when I entered that auction, I did not even have the 20… Sorry, this is when I only had the $2,500 to do one property. I did not even put the $10,000 deposit. I basically had to buy a property for $2,500 or I was not going to get in and then I did not have the money to fix it up. Chase, I opened a bank account to get the $300 bonus that they were going to send me for opening an account at Chase. I opened the account at Chase for the $300 bonus and then they offered me a credit card for $16,000 in a year with 0% interest. Well, that is how I financed the rehab on that. I had no clue of how I thought I was going to have to hold it for years or take a year to fix it up but I was able to pull the money off the credit card and do the whole refinance and rented it out within two months for the $925 a month and that is how I was able to pay it back within a year plus some of my other income.

David: There was no milk in the fridge and you opened the cabinet and Chase was your peanut butter in your like sandwich.

Ashley: Honestly, even though I own multiple properties at the time, I still was working part time. I only went to chase for the $300 bonuses that they were giving me. I know people say, ‘That is petty, Ashley. Come on now. You own a rental properties, why would you open the an account for $300?’ Because it is not costing me anything but 30 minutes of my time. If I do not like Chase policies and principles, I can just close the account but why am I going to leave this $300 on a table and then also, like you said, it was able to open up doors where I can do the rehab on a property.

David: Because you put yourself, you had that aggressive mindset, you were in the game and the steel came your way, right? Like the other team turned the ball over you right there to jump on that fumble and has a big win. Plus, downside, let us say nothing else comes out of it. You just made $600 for one hour of work, right? How many people are out there that is going to turn down $600 an hour of work, right? Most of them probably would not be listening to this podcast.

Ashley: Absolutely. 

David: That is awesome. In fact, that is such a good deal, I want to get into our

Deal Deep Dive.

Brandon: Deal Deep Dive.

Hey, I want to take a quick break from today’s podcast to invite you to this week’s upcoming Webinar. How to make your first $5,000 a month through real estate investing. I mean, yes, $5,000 is kind of arbitrary, right? It could be $3,000 or $7,000 but my guess is this, $5,000 a month could change your life and that is the goal of the webinar. I am going to be going through three key strategies for getting there, no matter what your financial picture looks like today. Like if you do not have any deals right now, you do not have money, you do not have experience, do not worry about it. Come anyway, just go to BiggerPockets.com/5000webinar, BiggerPockets.com/5000webinar. See you there.  


Brandon: Let us talk about one of these deals in particular. Do you have something in mind that we can dive deep into?

Ashley: Yes, I do.

Brandon: Cool. What kind of property is this? Is it single family or multifamily?

Ashley: It is a single family property. 

Brandon: Okay. David?

David: How did you find this deal?

Ashley: I found this deal on an auction as well. 

Brandon: Okay. Would you…

Ashley: The tax auction for? $2300. 

Brandon: $2300, wow. Not bad at all. Okay. 

David: Did you get a chance to negotiate it or was that just the auction price?

Ashley: That was just the auction prizes. We are bidding against people, just regular people like you and I. I kept bidding and they eventually stopped at $2,300. 

David: Okay. Alright. How did you fund this $2,300?

Ashley: Well, I was fortunate enough to have $2,300 in my account. 

Brandon: Alright. 

Ashley: I do not want to take that for granted because a lot of people do not. I was fortunate enough because I had a couple of rentals under my belt that I had the money in my account for it. 

David: Okay.

Brandon: Okay.

Ashley: To fund it. But I used a 0% credit card for a year to do the rehabs. 

Brandon: Okay.

Ashley: The Rehab was $11,000. 

David: After it was rehabbed, what did you do with the property? 

Ashley: Immediately rented it out, about two months after I purchased it, for $800 a month. The tenant, she was a young girl, she was a single parent and I saw the good in her, the property. I did everything from the beginning to the end and she stayed there five years. At  $800 a month, she paid all her expenses. The property taxes in Detroit are very well or in the area that I am in. My property taxes were only $11,000 a year on that property and my insurance was $69 a month. I have very… I had about, it was about a hundred dollars a month, give or take an insurance costs. I mean it is $100 in tax costs because property starts $69 in insurance and everything else was covered by the tenant. For the five years that she was there paying $800 a month. I only put a back light up in a faucet in five years. 

Brandon: Wow.

Ashley: I did not want to sell it or anything like that. I did not have any aspirations of settling the property but the business owner that was on the corner, they really wanted to buy it and they will not leave me alone. Coincidentally the tenant, she was late every month,

I am not going to lie. She was the one person that was late every month which actually worked out well for me because I was getting a $50 late fee every month which added to the profit but I was kind of getting tired of her as well. Even though I was not fixing anything she was late every month. When a business owner, they wanted to buy the property, in five years I went ahead and sold it to them. I do not typically do that. That is definitely not the plan but I went ahead and gave in. I was kind of tired to her and I went ahead and sold it and he paid $40,000 cash for it.

Brandon: Oh, cool.

Ashley: Five years later.

Brandon: Okay. I was going to ask you what the outcome was, that was the outcome, good. Last one then, what did you learn from the deal? What overall lessons can you pull from this deal deep dive?

Ashley: Absolutely. I learned courage to do it, I learned the financing, the rehab. That was my first time being able to find this for credit card. I learned how to do that and then I also learned patience. Extreme patience because a lot of people may have put her out because she was late every month, not even exaggerating, but she would always pay. I knew she was a single mother and I kind of identify with her. I was patient with her and she always paid. I definitely learned patience and the courage and I would say financing,  different ways to finance deals.

Brandon: Okay. Let me ask you a question. Not really part of the Deal Deep Dive, but as a landlord or as somebody who are managing your own properties, you got 35 of them now, one thing that I struggled with a lot when I was doing a lot of my own like real hands on management, even though they did not know I was the landlord all the time, I struggle with empathy. That is a weird phrase, struggle with empathy, right? But I want to, I am like I have been in their spot, obviously I was never a single mother, but I understand it, right? How do you separate the business of no you need to pay rent and there is going to be a late fee from I want to help you because I want to empathize with you and I want to be your friend. How do you reconcile those two sides as a landlord?

Ashley: Yes, absolutely. Well, my biggest thing is business is business. No matter what, even though she was late every month and I knew she paid, she still got an eviction notice on the third every month. I felt like I was wasting stamp and envelope because I knew she would pay but every month I spent that $1.25 or whatever to mail her eviction notice and I would text her sometime, ‘Hey, it is nothing personal. Businesses is business, this will never go on your record as long as you pay within this timeframe.’ Sometimes I actually had to take her to court. There was about three or four times that I actually had to proceed on the eviction and take her court. Like I said, it was nothing personal against her and I let her know that immediately but business is business.

Then I also removed myself from the situation again and told her, ‘Hey, this is the situation. I have 35 properties that I manage. I am by myself. There is nothing personal against you, but to make my business run smoother and just to keep the sanity of my life, I just do everybody the same way.’  Everybody on the third, whoever has not paid, they get eviction notice. Whether it is my sister or my friend, no matter who it is, I did the same thing to everybody. In that way, they kind of do not feel like I am picking on them. They feel like, hey, it is just the business or she is just so busy. She just do it to everybody, you know? 

Brandon: Yes.

Ashley: That is how I was able to do that.

Brandon: That is so good and so true. Because probably the biggest mistake I see landlords make, across the board, is that they start treating there, there are people, like friends. There is nothing wrong with like being friendly, right? But as soon as you start giving a little bit for a tenant like, and again, not that they are bad people but they will start taking advantage of that. They will start. But as soon as they know, if they know that this is a business and it is not personal and you do this for all of the people, I mean essentially you want them to think like this is a machine that I am inside of and that way it separates out like.

I am just running a machine, the machine is what is doing the eviction, not me. It is the machine that does the eviction, right? It is like giving this persona of a machine to your business and that helps you as a landlord because you are like, yes, it is just machine. It is just business because this business. Anyway, if you are listening to this right now and you are a landlord and you struggle with that, just rewind that lasts like two or three minutes again because that is incredible advice, Ashley. Really really awesome.

Ashley: Then also I do identify with a lot of people and I am really kind and giving and honestly, I know it is sad to say but that really is a downfall of mine, dealing with contractors and stuff. But every year I give my tenants on Christmas a $50 gift card from Walmart. That is kind of a way to say, ‘Hey, it is not personal.’ Hey, Ashley, you sent me ten evictions this year but I am going to give you a $50 gift card on Christmas because I care.’ It is nothing personal, but sometimes I realized like when doing that, I do not even get a thank you sometimes from the tenant. Like three or four people would not even acknowledge I gave it to them. The following year, I would just give them a $25 but I still do it because I want it.

Like I said, I want to give back.

David:I love that.

Ashley: I want to give back and I feel like I am being blessed by being a good person because there is a lot of good people in the world and I have experienced a lot of that. I feel like I have been able to be so successful because I am always good at her. Honestly, it does kind of feel like the bad guy when you have to evict somebody or you have to send them eviction notice every week and you understand that their car broke down but you still have to call them every day and say, ‘Hey, let me pay rent.’ I do want to sleep at night and I know like at the end of the day I did everything possible to help this person out. I let them be late on the rent, I still gave him a Christmas card every year and unfortunately it did not work out but I am still going to sleep at night because I know at the end of the day I was to get person to them. I was a good person to them.

David: As you guys were talking, I was actually thinking, I wonder if the people who do not give to charities and do not give back and do not have a charitable lifestyle, have a harder time evicting their tenants because they feel like a bad person whereas the people that are giving naturally and I if you can say, ‘No, hey, you did not pay, you are out’, right? They do not have that guilty conscience because they know I am not a bad person. I am giving here, here and here. There is almost like that like hidden, if you do what you should be doing in life, that makes this a lot easier.

Brandon: Yes, interesting. I used to actually… There is a number of year, probably two years in a row where we gave out like 50 of our tenants like a $50 gift card for somewhere and we got back one thank you. Like one person acknowledge it, right? I did not do it for the acknowledgement, but like we stopped doing it. Like we just stopped doing it. Now, because like, and guess what? Nobody thanked us again because we did not do it. It made no difference in my business. I am not saying people should or should not give out Christmas gifts but I found that it was literally no difference in my business at all. We finally stopped, but they are actually, I think it was the one lady who said thank you. I think we actually send her a Christmas card every year. Anyway, funny. Alright, that is funny.

Ashley: That is funny. Absolutely, you are right, I can still do the same thing. Whether I give them a gift card or not, they still have to pay their rent. They still can get even… But it is just personally, I am not able to give as much as charity because right now I was in a such a built mode. I do what I can and I do feel like, like David said, that is a form of giving back.

David: You know what I would do? Is I would take every gift card for the people who did not say thank you and I would give it to the one person who did the next year. You get all the gift cards.

Ashley: I actually did that last year. That one tenant, this was their first year with me, and they paid every month on time and I gave them a gift card and they did not say thank you. This year I sent them a $25 gift card and one of my other tenants has been there the longest. She has twin girls. I sent them the girls the gift card for $25 and then I sent the tenant $50. I did do that but I still gave them a little something to give him a chance. But next year I think it will be gone for those people who did not appreciate it or acknowledged it.

Brandon: That is funny.

David: The life lesson, everybody out there, if you show gratitude, the universe will give you more.

David: There you go.

Ashley: Absolutely. Alright, well that was the Deal Deep Dive. I love that, it was fantastic. But now it is time to head over to the next segment of the show which we call the Fire Round. 

It is time for the Fire Round.

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Brandon: Alright, it is time for the Fire Round. Of course, these questions come direct out of the BiggerPockets Forums, which everyone here can go visit and should visit because you get to hang out with really cool people like Ashley and David Greene and Brandon Turner at BiggerPockets.com/forums. Now, let us get to some of these. Let us do… I like this one because it is very closely related to what we are talking about today. Chris asked, he said there is a few houses in my area I am familiar with that are under 50k.

I am wondering, do you have any idea on how I can purchase them? I have got great credit and I have got some money, $12,000 to $15,000, but no bank wants to go under $60,000. Any tips on how I can finance these properties? If you had to go, Ashley, find us a $50,000 property, you got $10,000 to $15,000 but the bank will not do it, what would you do?

Ashley: Well, now I know that banks are, well not banks, but more so credit unions, they are lending… The credit union that I am hooked on were now building under up until $14,000, I am sorry about that. 

Brandon: Yes. 

Ashley: If somebody is telling you no, you are probably asking the wrong person, I would definitely do that. Also, if you have $15,000, if you have the credit, I know it is not the best thing for your credit but I would consider opening up a credit card with a line of credit that you can have access to and get a year of money for free, a 0% interest.

Brandon: Yes, perfect. I want to echo what you just said there because it is so true. To everyone out there who says I cannot find a bank to finance these low priced houses, I have never in my entire life heard of an area that sold like livable cheap houses that you could not find a bank to finance those because it just does not… They always exist, always. Now, maybe in David Greene’s area here of the bay area in Francisco, if he wanted to buy $50,000 property, yes, he is not going to probably find a local bank to do it because that is not what understanding know but that is why you will not find a $50,000 house in David’s area, they just do not exist. If they did not exist, nice $50,000 properties, then there would be a bank to service it. Like, because… Yes, anyway, it just means the person is not… They are probably going to Chase or they are going to Bank of America or Wells Fargo and they are saying, oh, well we have a minimum of 60 okay, well I guess I will go back to drinking or eating my cereal without any milk in it. 

Ashley: Right. I worked for one of those banks and I cannot get a loan from them. 

Brandon: Yes, yes, yes. Exactly. They have their requirements, but just as you said perfect, perfect like credit unions, small local community banks, that is where you are going to get those. They understand. Talk to a real estate agent, right? Real estate agents who sell that type of property will know exactly who can close a loan. I mean Quicken Loans will probably do it. Call at Quicken Loans and they will probably close the $40,000 to $30,000 property. 

David: Get this. We should call this like the sandwich method. You got a peanut butter jelly sandwich, you got Bologna Sandwich, you got a Turkey Sandwich. You got something? 

Brandon: I want my cereal and milk. Alright. David Greene…

Ashley: It is funny you mentioned that, Quicken Loans, because Dan Gilbert he invests million dollars in Detroit. He is the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers and he owns Quicken Loans and he has invested in hundreds of million dollars in Detroit. 

Brandon: Yes, he is turning the city around. 

Ashley: Absolutely.

David: Yes. Cool dude. Stupid investors are ruining doing everything.

Brandon: Yes, I know.

Ashley: Right. 

Brandon: Hey, if anybody has a connection to Dan Gilbert actually, we should totally get him on the podcast. Would that be an amazing podcast? 

Ashley: I will find a way, Brandon.

Brandon: Yes.

Ashley: Just like I will find a way to get to you. I will find it.

Brandon: Exactly, right? 

Ashley: That is my next goal.

Brandon: Alright.

Ashley: That was always the goal. 

Brandon: Yes. We want to get him on. That would be an amazing show. Like how do you invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a market that terrifies most people and like completely turn around an entire portion of the United States singlehandedly. Like that is what I want to know. Like how do you do that? That would be an amazing show. 

David: If you suck and you cannot find Dan Gilbert as a consolation prize, we would accept Mark Cuban or Elon Musk or one of those guys. 

Brandon: I would take Eminem, I would take Eminem.

David: Or you know what, Brandon? I are actually tried to get Vanilla Ice really badly because he is a real estate investor. If anybody knows Vanilla Ice. Alright, enough about that.

Brandon: Kevin Hart is a real estate investor. I just found out the other day. You know Kevin Hart, like awesome dude and actor. Yes, apparently he like a big real estate investor. I would not mind having him on the show too. Anyway, alright, alright. I think somebody out there might know him. David Greene.

David: Next question, this is actually a really good one here. If you are looking for buy and hold properties out of state, how do you decide if a neighborhood is good or bad? I have tried looking at areas via Google street view but I know that is probably not super accurate.

Ashley: Right. Buy and Hold properties are rental properties. The biggest thing I would do is look for properties, rental properties that is on the market currently. You will be able to tell the quality of work that is being done and the property, how they are looking and how long they have been on the market. What our rents going for and that is… Or you can contact a local real estate agent or property manager just to see. My properties, typically when I list a property for rent in Detroit, I have to take it down within eight hours. This last property I had 200 inquiries in eight hours. That is the way just to see, hey, that property was only listed for an eight hours. That is a good area to invest in, to buy a buy and hold in.

Brandon: Smart, smart. Alright, let us do the last one of the Fire Round and move on after this last one. I know a lot of people ask whether it is smart for investors to get their real estate license. My question though is like what kind of investors should get their license and what kinds should not? What do you think?

Ashley: I would say an investor that is trying to find multiple streams of income that is trying to learn the market and to learn the process of the market and basically and basically an investor that wants to network and grow their business.

Brandon: Yes, I think that is smart. You know some people are good at being the agent thing and some people just would not be good at it. Having a little self-awareness to know like am I somebody that wants to go out can sell start a little bit, meet people, pick up the phone and talk to people. Like is that something I am good at or not? 

Ashley: Right.

David: Do not do it because you think it is going to get you more deals. I think that is one of the big mistakes people make because your agents already working for you for free. They are going to be hungrier than you would be. They want to find you deals. You should really only do it if you are actually trying to like make some money or I will benefit your business as some other way. Like I think you made a really good point. You said, well, I get a handful here and there and I work on when I do, but you are not out there to get on the fire train to crush it, right?

Ashley: Absolutely. Alright. Just a way of creating multiple income streams and I am just trying to do a little bit of everything just to see what I am good at, what is easiest and more beneficial to me to focus on my goals which is having more time for my kids.

Brandon: There you go, there you go. Alright, well that was fantastic. Again, Ashley is in the BiggerPockets Forums, hanging out in there,  answering questions all the time. There is a lot of people in there. People, jump into the forums are so good and they are really expensive to use, they cost free. Let us head over the…

David: Free 99.

Brandon: Free 99. Let us head over to the next segment of the show, the final section. It is the Famous Four. These are the four questions we ask every guest every week. Ashley, I know you have heard this before and so now I am excited to hear what you got to say. Number one, what is your current favorite real estate related book?

Ashley: Basically, I do not read a lot. Unfortunately, I have three jobs and plus I spent a lot of time with my kids. I definitely want to do that. I am planning on slowing down with the work in five years so at that point I read more. But my favorite real estate book will be Rich Dad Poor Dad.

Brandon: Okay. I love it.

Ashley: Because that is pretty much one of the ones that I read.

Brandon: Yes. That is all right. Yes, I mean that book is so influential and just fantastic. Cool. Alright. 

David: Alright, Ashley. How about your favorite business book?

Ashley: Okay. Well, my favorite business book is The E-myth by Michael Gerber and that was actually the first book I read, period, as a real estate agent. I learned so much about that and about scaling your business and stuff like that. I really liked that book. I know it is the old one but I really learned a lot from it.

Brandon: So good, so good. 

David: Okay. How about some of your hobbies?

Ashley: Well, my biggest hobby now is just spending time with my family. Really, the kids and my family, no offense to the adults but the kids are way cooler. I do not really take pride in changing kids’ lives and giving them a free innocent childhood. Something that I feel like I did not have. I do not want them to grow up. As much as I can take them to the movies, have any experiences with them, I do that. I like to play poker. I go to the casino and play poker a lot. I was learning, learning a lot via YouTube or listen to the podcast, but those are my hobbies.

Brandon: Alright, perfect. Final question from me. Ashley, what do you believe sets apart successful real estate investors from those who give up fail or never get started?

Ashley: Okay. I would say based upon my experience, the biggest thing would be probably intimidation. Growing up watching HGTV and listen to webinars and seminars and you hear how much these people have, you feel like, well I do not know anybody like that or I am not like that so I can never be that way. They probably give up because they feel like they will never amass that success. I would definitely say intimidation and then also fear, fear of what will happen, if they do not succeed and the perception that people will give.

Brandon: Yes.

Ashley: Then also, lastly, the inability to live how most want to live the rest of your life. How it, most people do not. They are not willing to give up their iPhones every year for $1000.

Brandon: Yes, that is solid, solid. 

David: Well, that was really good actually. Ashley, you are an inspirational and captivating figure. Tell us for those who want more, where can they find out more about you?

Ashley: Right. Like I said, I am pretty busy. I do have a lot of jobs. I am on the forums every day. Notifications go right to my phone, that is the biggest place. I have a website, I have social media but I am not actually on active on those things. If they really want to contact me, they can just contact me directly at BiggerPockets or Instagram. I do have an Instagram page, it is AshleyElite Investor but BiggerPockets would be the best way. 

Brandon: Alright. It actually kind of fits into your iPhone comment you made, right? Like most people spend their entire life sitting on social media all day and you are saying, you know what, right now I am not going to do that because that is not… Like I am willing to live right now like no one else so later on I can live an incredible life, that is my quote right there, Brandon Turner. 

Ashley: That is true. I am rarely on social media. Everything is trying to get knowledge, gain knowledge. Take advantage of my time here. 

Brandon: Yes, there we go.

Ashley: When I am retired, when the kids are off in college in like five years. Actually, by me starting earlier, I know at that time I feel really like oh my God, my life is over. I am 19 and I have two kids, but when I am 38, I will be an empty nester and then I will have all this real estate to look back on. I look forward to traveling and learning way more and then watching the Dancing with the Stars. 

Brandon: There you go.

Ashley: Binge watching Game of Thrones. Did you guys watch that last night? 

Brandon: Yes, I did. Yes, I did. 

Ashley: I hope I do not [inaudible][01:08:28] on the podcast. 

Brandon: That is alright.

Ashley: I never watched an episode of that. I have plenty of time to binge watch that I am sure.

Brandon: You will, you will. Honestly, the first ten years of me and Heather just crush in real estate, we did a lot of real estate and we did very little Netflix, very little anything. Like we worked hard at it for 13 years now. Now, we are able to ease off the gas a little more because it gets easier over time, I am sure you are probably noticing. 

David: Yes, you should have lived like a Stark now so you can live like a Lanister later. 

Ashley: Right. I do not even know it because I have watched the show so I do not even know any of it.

Brandon: It is pretty accurate, It is pretty accurate. Alright, with that, we got to get out of here. Ashley, thank you so much again for being part of the show. Really, really fantastic and makes sure everyone goes to connect with Ashley and everybody else on the BiggerPockets forum, go connect in there. If you have never used it before, the very very very very easy way to start is just jumping into the new member introduction forum. Just go say, hey, who are you, what are you looking to do. Make sure your profile has a picture. It is going to be way better. People do not like talking to an avatar, right? See if you can answer one question. Even if you are brand new, there are likely questions you can help people work through or topics. Jump in and answer one question today, it is a good way to get started. Any other tips, Ashley, you have on using the forum? Anything that you found as helpful?

Ashley: I would definitely say just answering as much questions as possible and in setting up keyword alerts. I have the Detroit, of course. Anytime anybody says anything about Detroit, I get an alert. 90% of it is bad and then I am over here, Hey, playing devils. No, look what I am doing you know? But at the same time I am kind of happy because it gives more opportunities for me. 

Brandon: What is cool there is like…

Ashley: But definitely answer questions.

Brandon: When you jump in there, right? Because now you are the person who jumps into all Detroit conversations. Now, let us say I am an out of state investor or I am a local investor and I want some help, I want an agent, I want somebody’s boots on the ground, who am I going to go to? The guy who was ragging on Detroit or I am going to go to Ashley who understands the market and clearly has market knowledge, clearly has experienced and is in there helping. That is the spirit of BiggerPockets. People wonder, well, why would I want to go and participate in a forum? Because it benefits you. It benefits everybody. Anyway, jump in there. Again, Ashley, thank you so much. This has been awesome.

Ashley: Thank you so much. I appreciate you guys. I look forward to being back on the show with the next phase of my career.

Brandon: There you go. Awesome. Alright, David Greene. Want to take us out? 

David: Yes, thank you very much, Ashley. This is David Greene for Brandon ‘The Quote Stealer’ Turner, signing off. 

Brandon: I borrow them.

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In This Episode We Cover:

  • How Ashley found a way to invest in a market when very few others could
  • How she got the city of Detroit to call her and offer her a deal to buy for $500
  • Getting to nearly a half a million dollars in equity in a few short years
  • How she got started investing with nothing but BiggerPockets as a guide
  • Finding the best part of the city to invest in
  • Why she fix her rentals up to suburb quality even in low-income neighborhoods
  • Building a portfolio of 10 doors free and clear
  • The way she uses the BiggerPockets forums to help her make money
  • Landlording like a boss
  • Giving back to your tenants
  • And SO much more!

Links from the Show

Books Mentioned in this Show

Tweetable Topics:

  • “Things typically don’t happen to you.” (Tweet This!)
  • “There’s no shortage of good tenants. There’s a shortage of good landlords.” (Tweet This!)
  • “It gets easier over time.” (Tweet This!)
  • “Live like a Stark now, so that you can live like a Lannister later.” (Tweet This!)

Connect with Ashley

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!

12 Comments

  1. Ashley Russell

    I listen to the BP Podcasts regularly, but have never been so moved by a guest as I was by you. Listening to your story, your background – I was so impressed. You had me in (happy) tears at one point listening to you talk about your two kids and how you hustle to provide for them as a single mom. The challenges you have faced and obstacles you have overcome – all your accomplishments – amazing! At the end of the podcast, I said to myself – this woman is a badass! Thanks for telling your story.

    • Nathan G.

      Ashley is a good example of how people can break the bonds of poverty by putting in the effort instead of simply accepting their lot in life. I grew up in poverty and felt I had reached my potential when I hit middle class. My own limiting beliefs kept me stuck there for 20 years. I finally realized I was average because of my personal decisions, not because of any external force.

      If she can build a life of wealth and financial independence in 8 Mile, then we can do it where we live.

  2. Dwight Sands

    I WISH I had a quarter of the gumption Ashley has when I was that age! Just awesome! I went to Detroit on a scouting trip last year with a turnkey group and was anxious to buy but it didn’t work out. This episode has me reconsidering.

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