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Using $3,500 to Kickstart an “Unsexy” Investment Empire with Tristan Thomas

The BiggerPockets Podcast
51 min read
Using $3,500 to Kickstart an “Unsexy” Investment Empire with Tristan Thomas


Hey there! Have you taken our listener survey? It takes <10 minutes and we’d love to hear your feedback. Thanks! —Brandon and David

Traveling the world on mobile home cash flow at 26 years of age? Yes, it’s possible!

On today’s show, Brandon and David interview Tristan Thomas, a mobile home park investor who parlayed a few thousand dollars into a life of financial freedom.

Tristan shares some great info regarding how he chooses his markets to invest in, how he finds deals in those markets, and some of the key differences to holding title to mobile homes compared with traditional real estate.

He also shares a fantastic perspective on how using “rent-to-own” financing can eliminate maintenance and repair costs, motivate your tenants to take better care of the property, and help you build wealth with very little of your own money.

Tristan is a great example of how to find financial freedom at ANY age and shares exactly how he did it himself! Download this inspirational episode today, and subscribe to the podcast in your favorite app so you won’t miss the next show.

Click here to listen on iTunes.

Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

Brandon: Okay. Tristan, welcome to the BiggerPockets Podcast, man. Good to have you here.

Tristan: Thanks for having me, especially live in Maui. It means a lot.

Brandon: Yeah. Live in Maui. All right. So, for those who don’t know. Tristan has been helping Ryan Murdock, Mindy Jensen, and Carl, Mindy and Carl and I on our mobile home park out in Bangor, Maine, filling those spots, because you are a mobile home mad … I don’t know what you want to call … You’re like LeBron James of mobile homes.

Tristan: Appreciate it. Yeah. I try. I try.

Brandon: Okay. So, we’re going to talk about that today a little bit on how you’ve done what you’ve done with mobile homes because it’s really kind of a cool strategy, a coolness that we never … I mean, we haven’t talked about mobile homes. I’m not talking parks. I’m talking about homes since John Fedro back in the, I don’t even know. The last-

Tristan: The true guru.

Brandon: Yeah, yeah. He’s been around forever. That guy was like, earlier, the first year of us doing the podcast so before we get there, though, the actual flipping. How did you get into real estate? Why real estate? How’d you get into that?

Tristan: Yeah. No. Absolutely. Yeah. I come from an entrepreneurial family to begin with. I’ve always had a knack for making money. I had a paper route, stuff like that but once I got into college, I got a little bit more serious about financial wealth and stuff like that. I realize, as everyone does, they come to a realization that someday, you’re probably going to be looking at a 9:00 to 5:00 job and absolutely hated that idea.

Tristan: So, I was like, “Crap. How do I make some money here?” So, I actually started looking into penny stocks. I was in college, just trying to make any way of making ends meet. I remember watching CNBC and seeing Grant Cardone on there talking about multifamily real estate. My dad had a few rentals and stuff like that, so I kind of understood it. It just kind of clicked with me.

Tristan: So, I went onto Google and I typed in multifamily real estate, enter, and BiggerPockets popped up. I clicked on BiggerPockets and almost the rest is history. I was religiously faithful to BiggerPockets for three years.

Brandon: Whoo!

Tristan: Yeah. I listened to all your stuff, read all your books. I mean, I played Division I basketball in college so all the road games we’d go on, I’d be on the bus with the earbuds in and listening to all your content, absolutely just soaking it in. In fact, I say that I got a degree in exercise science but I studied real estate. I just absolutely all over it.

Tristan: So, I graduated college, moved back to Maine. Started doing taxes with my dad. He’s a tax accountant. Completely hated it. Said, “This is not real estate investing at all.”

Tristan: So, my back was against the wall. Me and my girlfriend were actually living with my dad at the time. I had to do something but I didn’t have any money. So, I kind of stumbled upon mobile home investing. It’s a low-risk, high-reward type thing. I only needed a few thousand dollars, which luckily, that’s all I had.

Tristan: So, me and my dad first, we got the first few and it kind of happened really organically. As I got into it, I realized okay, this might be a niche that I could really explode in. Then, Ryan Murdock comes into the picture and kind of was a cool symbiotic relationship. He kind of taught me a lot about multifamily real estate investing, which at the time I still really wanted to get into. At that time, he wanted to get into mobile home investing, so we’d go out for food every week and we’d meet and just kind of help each other out through there.

Tristan: Fast-forward to maybe a few months after that. I had a huge epiphany. I woke up at 3:00 a.m. in the morning and I just said to my girlfriend, “Holy crap. I’ve got it. Let’s start a mobile home company. Let’s do mobile home flips, rentals. Let’s do a whole nine yards.”

Tristan: So, again, that started another descent of absolutely emersion into some content. I completely went away BiggerPockets from that point and when John Fedro, Frank Rolfe, the whole nine yards. I’ve just been busting my butt on that as hard as I could for the past three years.

Tristan: Fast-forward, I have 51 units, have my own mobile home park, trying to help you guys out as much as I can. Yeah, through daily, massive action, I’ve just kind of acquired and here I am in Maui, so it’s worked out well.

Brandon: Yeah. Wow! All right. Yeah. Tristan’s staying with me for a few days out here in Maui. It’s been fun.

Tristan: Yeah.

Brandon: Let’s go back. I love that you give the entire view of your business because we should do that more often, is get the whole idea of every-

Tristan: Prepared.

Brandon: Yeah. You’re prepared. You heard a few of these podcasts before.

Brandon: Yeah. So, let’s go even more basic than that. What is a mobile home? What are we talking about when we say mobile home, because there’s different ways. People call it mobile home, modular home, trailer home. What are you talking about?

Tristan: Absolutely. Mobile home and what I’m considering mobile home is a single-family dwelling that’s not, I guess, permanently attached to the ground. It’s up on blocks. It’s skirted. It’s still attached to your water, sewer, electric but that’s the kind of asset class. People call them trailer parks. It’s really not trailer parks anymore.

Tristan: It’s actually really interesting if you study the history of these things. At one point in time, mobile home parks were actually some of the wealthiest living in America, which is rather fascinating, if you ask me. But moving forward, it’s just like I said. It’s a single-family housing dwelling. It’s cheap. It’s low risk. It’s really what I fell in love with it.

Tristan: I only had a few thousand dollars. So, I think the first one my dad and I did together, I think our all-in investment was $7,000, so it just really worked out well. We owned it free and clear. It wasn’t any mortgage on it so we really didn’t have a lot of risk. That’s just why I fell in love with it and you can pick them up one at a time.

Tristan: I think for anyone starting out, I think the biggest fear for a lot of people is risking their money. When I was talking to Ryan a lot about these four units, Bangor, Maine, these things were going for 150, $200,000. I’m looking at a big mortgage that’s over my head for 30 years and without fully knowing what I’m doing yet, it just scared me.

Tristan: So, I kind of went towards mobile homes because, again, it’s just super low risk. I understood it and it really got my feet wet for real estate in general.

Brandon: So, walk us through that very first deal. 7,000 into the entire thing. What did you buy this thing for? What did you put into it? I don’t even understand entirely like how the mobile home investing works.

Tristan: Yeah, no. Absolutely. So, we literally just did a drive for dollars. We were driving through a park and seen a for sale sign and walked up, knocking on the door, talked to the person. They were selling it for, I think, like $3,500, 14 by 70.

Brandon: 3,500?

Tristan: $3,500, 14 by 70. I think her daughter had lived there. The pipes had bursted the previous winter. It was vacant. I probably wouldn’t touch it now but I was young, green, didn’t really know what to do. I just wanted to get into the space, had a little bit of cash. So, I think the ceilings needed to be redone. There was mold. All kinds of stuff.

Tristan: So yeah. We sunk maybe another 3,500 into it. Some lot rent over the time. YouTube taught myself a bunch. I didn’t have a whole lot of money to rent out, to contract it out. So, it just kind of happened organically. Then, we sold it off and made a heavy profit. Then, pushed that off to the next few.

Brandon: So, you basically flipped it.

Tristan: Yeah. Basically. I mean, we actually rented it out for 12 to 14 months first, made our money back real quick. Then, we ended up selling it off so, I mean, my criteria here is I don’t touch a mobile home unless I can make my money back within 10 months. That’s a John Fedro one. Shout-out to him but yeah. I mean, just go driving for dollars was how we found the first one and just kind of fell into my lap and it worked out great.

David: I really like that you started off driving for dollars because we talk about that a lot but you don’t hear many people share stories of how they were successful. What are some things you learned while driving for dollars that helped you create a system where you become more efficient at finding deals that way?

Tristan: Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, while you’re driving for dollars, it’s a great opportunity then to stroll into the park manager’s office, shake their hand, introduce yourself to them and tell them what you’re doing. Really, you want to angle it as, hey, look, I’m here to buy your home so you don’t want to angle that at all. They have people asking them for stuff all day long. They don’t want somebody else coming in and asking them for something. So, I try to angle it in as how can I help you out?

Tristan: So, I would go into these park manager’s office and say, “Hey, look. Do you have any homes that are vacant that aren’t producing any lot rent for you right now? This is what I do. I’m a professional background, stuff like this.” And that really helped out a lot building relationships.

Tristan: And then, from there, it really grew like wildfires, a lot of word of mouth action. Yeah, it was just, it’s a massive daily action. Every day we woke up, we were going through parks, making stuff happen. So, it took a little bit to get off the ground but eventually we got there.

Brandon: So, the biggest objection people have to mobile homes, trailer homes, or manufactured homes, however, you want to call it is, “Yeah, but don’t they lose money?” Like, “Don’t they lose value,” or, “Don’t they lose value, Tristan?”

Tristan: Yeah. It’s hilarious that you say that because I remember back in my three years of absolute religious following of BiggerPockets, you guys would talk about mobile home parks before. I remember reading articles how they were bad asset classes to buy. They were decreasing in value. I just actually, back then I just I was like, “Oh, I guess I won’t go after that.”

Tristan: But once my back was against the wall and I only really had one way to go, I kind of swallowed my ego there. I mean, it’s not the sexiest asset class either. There’s a lot of stigma that comes with it seeing in this day and age. So, I had to swallow a lot of that and just kind of blare through it but at the end of the day, you can’t really worry about what other people think about what you’re doing. It’s all about your own personal happiness. I stuck with it, luckily.

Brandon: Yeah. So, let’s kind of walk through some numbers here a little bit. So, for example, that first deal. You bought that thing. You can typically buy a mobile home for cheap. I mean, 35, is that ridiculously cheap or is that-

Tristan: That’s right on average for what I’m buying. It’s completely market-dependent. I mean, we’re up in the northeast in Maine so it’s completely different but I’ve gotten mobile homes for free that were great and I’ve got mobile home for free that were complete pits but I’d say, on average, around three to $6,000 is what I buy them for.

Tristan: Then, obviously, you got to equate rehab expenses, holding costs. Same thing with every other asset class. That’s what’s really unique about it. It’s the same kind of rules I’ve learned all along. It’s just I put them into that own asset class and it ended up working out.

Brandon: All right. All right. So, that first, a deal like that, you buy it for, let’s say $3,500, maybe 5,000, maybe 2,000, whatever. The idea is then you fix it up. Are you moving a home into a new park or you moving it across a town to another park or do you stick within a park and you’re just trying to … And then do you rent it or do you sell it off to other financing?

Tristan: So, when I first started out, I was scared about moving these homes. They’re super expensive to move. Again, I didn’t have a bunch of extra money to move these homes so I was just looking for homes in parks that needed to be fixed up. So, that was really my focus but as I got more experience with this, I started to learn that certain parks would actually sell for higher-priced homes depending on the park quality.

Tristan: So, then I could go around and pick homes out of other parks or other areas and bringing them into specific parks and raise rents to higher values, charge more for a flip, for a purchase price.

Tristan: So, it got really complex there. Once you really started getting involved with these things that you can start pulling them out. That’s what’s so cool about mobile homes. I think it might be the only asset class that you can actually transport these things and set them up. That’s a great exit strategy is you can buy them in one park, rent it out. If it’s not working out, you can go ahead and pull it, put it in another park, put it in a non-zoned piece of land. So, there’s just all kinds of exit strategies that made me feel confident that hey, look. Even if this doesn’t work out now, I know it’ll work out somewhere else.

Brandon: Yeah. That’s good. So, I want to even go more simple than this for people who have never because I mean, I kind of understand the mobile home thing because I’m in it, right? Somebody’s brand new. You know if there’s a popular … Bird chirping right now. There’s a popular Reddit thread called Explain It To Me Like I’m Five. How does somebody make money with mobile homes, if they’re five years old that you explain it to my daughter Rosie, who’s three.

Tristan: Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, how would I explain it is there’s really, I think there’s a barrier here that people just, they don’t understand it so they just think it’s some massive complex thing. It’s not. There’s really no difference than any other asset class.

Tristan: So, I look at it as a single family house rental. So, it’s the same type of process that when you go out and you buy a foreclosure house or an auction house and the same type of thing. You find something that has good value and you know will rent good and you fix it up over time. It’s the exact same model with pretty much all of that just put in a different unsexy asset class. Yeah, that’s really kind of the easiest way I can put this. I think a lot of people just overlook how complex it might be and it’s really not. I mean, the reason why I really, really love it is it’s just, it’s affordable housing, you know what I mean?

Tristan: With the way this world’s going nowadays, in my opinion, it’s just going to continue, get to a point where people are looking for cheaper and cheaper housing. We got all the baby boomers downsizing. It just made sense to me. It just clicked.

Tristan: So, again, it’s not nothing. I’m not doing anything special. It’s just I took what I had in my means and put it to something I could actually do and had money for. It was the exact same thing as any of these big time guys that you have on here that have a hundred single-family homes. It’s the exact same thing. It’s a single-family dwelling. Just, it usually is in a community with other single-family dwellings.

Brandon: Yeah. That makes sense.

Brandon: So, do you like renting them out because I know, at our park, we’re selling them off on seller financing. What’s the difference and why would you choose one over the other?

Tristan: Yeah. So, there’s pros and cons to each. I sometimes side towards rent to own seller financing just because you don’t have to deal with the repair and maintenance. So, I mean you can either decide to rent it out and obviously just like a traditional rental, you’re paying your repair/maintenance when they call in the middle of the night saying their toilet’s plugged, all that nice stuff or you can decide to seller finance them off, which kind of puts you in a position of more so the bank. So really, the difference with seller financing, it’s these people, they like home ownership. They want to have their own thing. A lot of people that we seller finance to, they’ve never owned a home. They’ve never actually had something that they can call theirs. They’re habitual renters is what I call them.

Tristan: So, we get a lot of people that actually have closes with us that end in tears because they’ve just never owned anything of their own before.

Brandon: That’s good.

Tristan: So, they have pride of home ownership and they take care of their stuff. That’s something you don’t really see in a demographic when you rent to people. Renters, they’re there short term. They don’t care. They’ll leave the windows open in the middle of winter with the furnace on 80.

Tristan: So that’s really the difference. I definitely side towards rent to own, owner financing again, because you find that there tenant quality base but in some instances, in some park, it is more beneficial to rent.

Tristan: So again, it’s really engaging your own market, finding out what’s going to work and really, it’s what you like. Some people love getting called at midnight with toilet calls but me, I just wanted to get completely out of it. I’m seeking merely financial freedom and trying to just offer the best kind of product I can to want-to-be homeowners.

Brandon: Okay. So, how much money per home are we talking about here? You spread, I’m sure. Walk us through those numbers a little bit.

Tristan: Yeah. Absolutely. So, on average, I’d say my all-in investment with a home is about $10,000. Again, how that works is I normally, I don’t want to go over 10,000 because normally when you break it down to the numbers, that takes longer than 10 to 12 months to make my money back. For me, personally, that’s just my criteria. I don’t want to wait longer than that.

Tristan: So, I’ll usually find a home, I would do my budget and know how much the rehabs going to be, how much holding cost is. You have to equate lot rent, all that stuff. Then, as long as it comes in below $10,000, I pull the trigger on it.

Tristan: So, yeah. I mean, and then, as long as [scannaling 00:20:02] goes, I mean, I’ve really been a huge fan and, again, maybe you coined this, maybe you didn’t but OPM. OPM.

Brandon: No. That wasn’t mine.

Tristan: Okay.

Brandon: Old phrase.

Tristan: Other people’s money. That’s really what puts me a little bit different scenario than other, like some friends of mine are trying to get into it as well. It’s really accelerated me as it does in any asset class. I was able to put my own money to start out and then really, like my girlfriend’s dad and my dad. I mean, some people really came in with influential money so I can really just, as hard as I wanted to work, you know?

Brandon: Yeah.

Tristan: It was my full-time job at the time. I could wake up every day and just say, “Okay. How are we going to get another home?” For me, it was all about units. The more units, the more financial freedom and et cetera.

Tristan: So, anytime you can use leverage of other people’s money, just like in any other asset class, it works perfectly with mobile home because, again, it’s low risk, high reward. You’re getting the same kind of cash flow you are, if not more, off a four-unit. But yet, at the end of the day, you don’t have a $200,000 mortgage hanging over your head. So, you’re cash flowing a hell of a lot earlier.

Brandon: Yeah. That’s cool. Yeah, so I’m thinking … Okay, so $10,000, you’re all-in on a thing. What does that rent for because there’s lot rent, too, involved here. So, how does that break up? What exactly does it rent for, typically?

Tristan: So, again, it’s just going to be completely dependent on your market but in Bangor, Maine, on average, a three bedroom might go for about $950 for rent so it’s about the same-

Brandon: Plus lot rent or is that included?

Tristan: That’s just everything so like in a four-unit. If you were to rent a unit in a four-unit, it would be about $950 for a three unit. Let’s just say it correlates the same for a mobile home.

Tristan: So, what I do is I just take that 950 minus out the lot rent. Then, that’s their rent so usually we’re rent to owning these things out for about six or renting these things out for $600 a month and they pay their own lot rent, which again, it gives them a little bit more pride of home ownership and they’re actually going down to the park manager, giving him their own mortgage payment, basically. So, yeah. We don’t really pay lot rents. We make them pay them. It just helps us. That way, we’re not sending out a million checks a month.

Brandon: Yeah, okay. Sorry, you were going to say something, David?

David: Yeah. Let’s say you get something under contract right now, really good deal. Walk us through what your checklist looks like for your due diligence and then once you close, what are the things that you have to do to get that thing ready to rent out?

Tristan: Absolutely. So, I mean, and again, just like with any other asset class, you have to have great due diligence. If you buy it, it’s a really easy to buy an overpriced bad property, just like with everything else.

Tristan: So, when I walk into a mobile home, I always look at four things. I look at what’s the roof quality? Sometimes, with these older mobile homes, where they’ve redone roofs and it’s a heavy roof, sometimes the floors will bow. So, you always want to look at the roof. You always want to look at the furnace, obviously, especially being in the Northeast, that’s like the AC down in the South. It’s the exact same thing.

Tristan: You always want to look at your plumbing. I mean, with mobile home, these things have been out since the 1940s, 1950s. I’ve bought plenty of 1950, 1960 homes with old piping but these things are also very cheap to rehab. So whenever you see a home that has all … It’s really about the updated fixtures. So, whenever you see something like that you know it’s probably a good deal.

Tristan: Then, lastly, I look for electrical. Pre-1976, before HUD came out, they would use a lot of aluminum wiring, which is a big fire hazard. So, you definitely have to know your stuff just like with anything else on what you’re looking at.

Tristan: Then, if all those things are checked, I then go through and then just find out the motivation of the seller. Just like with anything else, if you have a motivational seller, you’re going to have a better deal. So, normally that and these things are awesome. I mean, at least in Maine, they’re considered personal property. So, it’s not like we have to go through a title search or attorney’s for closing or anything like that. 99% of the time, it’s just me and the seller hashing things out right on their living room. Then, once we agree on a price, I normally try to put it under contract right then and there, sign a simple P&S agreement and that’s our closing date.

Brandon: Purchase and sale-

Tristan: Purchase and sale agreement, yeah. And then set a closing date. Normally, we try to work with them. Again, we want to be advocates of making life easier for them. So, we normally try to say, “Hey, whenever you guys can get out, let’s set closing for that.” Sometimes, we release funds early so that they can afford to hire a box truck to go and rent and move their stuff.

Tristan: So, again, it’s really just trying to find what’s going to work with the seller and functioning it together with what’s going to make a deal. Every one of these things is different.

Brandon: Yeah. Okay. So, I don’t want to get … This is such a cool business … I remember reading a book like [Lonnie 00:24:16] Deals or something like that back in the day. So, it sounds like its similar to what you’re doing.

Tristan: Absolutely, yeah. Yeah. For the most part, yeah.

Brandon: All right. So, the idea being, this is just to make it real simple. You’re finding these homes for dirt cheap, $3,500, let’s just say. You then put in some money into it. Maybe you’re moving it, maybe you’re not, depending on where it’s at. So, now you’re in the whole thing for 10,000. Now, that money might have come out of pocket or you might have used one of the many creative strategies we talked about. So, you’re in this thing for $10,000.

Brandon: Now, you’re renting this. Now, maybe they’re paying their own lot rent or maybe you are, regardless. Above lot rent, you’re making five or $600 a month.

Tristan: About, yeah.

Brandon: All right. So, let’s say you’re making $600 a month in extra money every month from renting it. 600 times 10 months would be 6,000, so it’s $7,200 for a year. You’re making and then they probably put down some kind of down payment.

Tristan: Absolutely, yeah.

Brandon: So, now there’s your 10,000 back.

Tristan: Exactly.

Brandon: So, you just made a 100% return on an investment-

Tristan: Within 12 months.

Brandon: … within 12 months.

Tristan: Yeah.

Brandon: I mean, there are very few … Now, the cool thing after that is now going forward. I mean, it’s just pure profit.

Brandon: So, let’s just say, I mean, again, 10,000 out of pocket and now you’re making $600 a month. Are you going to have some repairs and maintenance in there or not really? How does that work?

Tristan: Again, that’s just depending if you’re going to be doing rentals or rent to own but, I mean, if you choose a rent to own path or home ownership path which is what I would suggest, there’s really no repair and maintenance costs. These people, they’re taking pride of home ownership for themselves. When their light bulbs go out. They’re doing it themselves. They’re not calling the bank to come in and do it for them.

Tristan: So, as you can see, as you’re starting to walk through the numbers yourself, you can see how in love I was with this idea when my back was against the wall and I needed to make something happen was holy crap. This actually exists. This is a super low-risk investment asset class that really no one wanted to dabble in because it has such a bad stigma, which if you actually took the time to go and read through and study and talk to some of these residents, you would understand that they are no different than any other average asset class with apartment buildings. There’s no difference. It’s just, for whatever reason, the stigma in America today kind of shoots down this idea, but for me, I didn’t really care what other people’s thought was. I was just trying to go after financial freedom and to offer a good quality home to a wanted home buyer.

Brandon: Yeah. That’s really cool. What’s so cool about this, Tristan, is that a person who doesn’t have a lot of money, maybe they’ve got 10,000 saved up from their job. Maybe they can borrow that from a friend or a partner. They could take 10,000 potentially, find a home for cheap, remodel it, be making actual cash flow now, four, five, $600 a month potentially in cash flow and because your seller financing them or rent to owning them, the tenant is paying their own maintenance and repairs. So, now, you’ve got cash flow coming in that’s fairly stable because they’re probably supplying their own water and sewer and garbage, right?

Tristan: Yeah.

Brandon: Usually, it’s all like, you’re just getting cash flow so if you do that once, you’re going to make some mistakes. You’re going to learn some stuff like I’m sure you did.

Tristan: Yeah.

Brandon: And you could do it again. I mean, how many of these would a person need to own? I’m not asking you. It’s kind of hypothetical but, I mean, how many do you need to be able to pay your bills and have financial freedom starting with almost nothing?

Tristan: Yeah. I mean, I think that’s a completely per-person, case-by-case basis. I mean, for me, we were living pretty frugally to start out and I didn’t need much. Like I said, we were just living with my dad. I probably needed maybe two or 3,000 to pay everything. So, it actually got to the point where we were able to scale to a point where, okay, we’ve had our basis pay, so I guess maybe we officially hit financial freedom.

Tristan: Well, what’s next? So, we absolutely love to travel. It’s awesome coming out here to Maui. So, I mean, we really just said, “Well, okay. What’s next? Let’s travel more.” So, it just became kind of a game for instance, that I already had a proven track record to go out, get these done and then we just been spending the majority of the money on traveling. I mean, we’ve gone to nine countries so far this year and they’ve all been mobile home money.

Tristan: So, if you were to take me back three years ago, almost crying in my dad’s tax office about how miserable I was to now sitting here in Maui all over this bad stigma mobile home asset class. It’s magical for an instance. It’s been awesome.

Brandon: Yeah. That was really good.

David: When it comes to finding your deals, share a little bit about what that process is like for how somebody finds mobile home deals and maybe what you’re doing that’s helping you be more successful than the average person.

Tristan: Yeah. Absolutely. So, at least with the Northeast or in Maine, mobile homes are considered personal property. So, a lot of these things that are not in parks at least. They’ve not on the MOS. So, it’s not like your traditional, somebody just goes on an MOS trying to find properties.

Tristan: Really, what’s worked out best for me and it’s probably the same for any other single-house family dwelling investor who just does normal single-family house investing is I had bandit signs. I had five things I absolutely use that are this strength of power. The biggest lead generators I’ve had.

Brandon: Okay. Five things.

Tristan: Five things. So, number one would absolutely be bandit signs. So, bandit signs are we buy/sell mobile home for cash with our Google voice number. So, park managers absolutely hate it if you go and put them right in their park or right at the entrance. So, what we’ve done is we just put them in all the major intersections around all the parks in the area. And in my experience, we put up maybe three or four and just flooded with calls for people want to buy and sell. So, that’s an instant free lead generation tool that I use. Additionally, Facebook Marketplace has been huge. It’s like of like the MOS for these mobile homes. It’s the same type of thing.

Brandon: Oh, really?

Tristan: There’s going to be overpriced crap on there but eventually, there will be some really great deals that people either don’t understand the value of their home or their motivated sellers and they need to move. They lost their job. They just need cash quick.

Tristan: So, what I found works out best on those is the second we see it, we just jump on it immediately. I mean, I’ve had things where they’ve been on it for 30 minutes and I’m at their house the next minute. I was right there in town and cash in hand, ready to make it happen because I understand how much it’s worth. I understand all that stuff. So, again, it really goes to understanding your market.

Tristan: Number three would absolutely be word of mouth. Like I said earlier in the podcast to you, David. I mean, I’d go around introduce myself to park managers, mobile home movers, all kinds of people in this industry and just say, “Hey, look. Young guy trying to get into it,” and offer finders fees.

Tristan: So, once people get a taste of a little bit of money for free just by referring you to something. Again, it’s no different than any other asset class is. It’s word of mouth reaches very fast, so we get people call us all the time. “Hey, I heard you from so-and-so.”

Tristan: Driving for dollars, again, that was how I started out. We do that almost on a weekly basis. It’s awesome to get out of a car anyways. It’s good to keep in touch with mobile home park owners, which is something I’m trying to get onto now but you can always see. A lot of these people, especially older generation, they don’t want to upload pictures to Facebook Marketplace or something so they just stick a for sale by owner sign at the front window and hope it sells. So that’s really where a lot of good deals come from.

Tristan: Then, lastly I can already kind of touched on a little bit, the mobile home movers, they’re seeing these guys every day. They’re moving homes. They’re talking to people. So, and those are really my five biggest lead generators I use that … And they’re all free. I don’t spend any money on any of that stuff. I mean, Craigslist ads is another one that you can definitely throw something on but you just got to go out and do it.

Brandon: All right. So, here’s what’s so cool about that or about park owners, too. I mean, as an owner, as a park owner, so we have all these empty lots. I mean, I purposely will buy mobile home parks now with vacancy. I want that because I know that if every home I bring in there, I mean, this might get a little bit deep for people so if you’re not quite following this, everybody, listen, click [inaudible 00:32:38].

Brandon: But basically, here’s the idea. If I have a lot rent, let’s call it $300 for one of my park spaces. $300 is what it brings in just in lot rent. Now, I’m not paying water, sewer, garbage. There’s no additional expense to me having a new home in there, really. We did a little bit of management. Let’s just call it $300 in lot rent that I’m getting. Over the course of a year, that’s $3,600 in extra revenue in my pocket as an owner of a mobile home park. Now, on a 10 cap, which is a way of valuing real estate like commercial real estate, basically means that my property’s going to be worth an extra $36,000 more just by having somebody else’s home in my park-

Tristan: Per pad.

Brandon: … per pad. At a five cap, it’s $72,000, my value of my park has gone in by bringing in one home. Now, if you, if I get … This is why Tristan with … How many have you filled in our park now?

Tristan: Eight.

Brandon: Eight?

Tristan: Yeah.

Brandon: So, Tristan in the last year has filled eight homes in my park in Bangor, Maine. Every one of those now is generating … What are we at, lot rent now? Three?

Tristan: 320.

Brandon: 320?

Tristan: Yeah.

Brandon: That’s like, what? 80 or $90,000 in value potentially on every one of those by bringing them in. Guess how much work I had to do? Not much. You did all the work. You did all of it. And you make money by doing so.

Tristan: That’s right.

Brandon: Right?

Tristan: Right.

Brandon: Now, so if you were to come in and do that with other parks with other people listening to this show right now, like, “How can I get started in real estate?” If you find a mobile home park operator in your area and you’re like, “Hey, can I fill homes in your spot?” Why would they not want to take you up on that, right?

Tristan: Yeah.

Brandon: Because it’s just like, “Hey, free …” Would you like some free extra money? You want to add tens of thousands of dollars, hundreds of thousand dollars in value to your life?

Tristan: It’s really, just like with anything else in real estate, the best way to make money in real estate is finding somewhere, an avenue where you can add value. And that’s what makes it so easy for you to get into the game here is because there’s a lot of mobile home park owners like Brandon and others in other states that it’s real capital-intensive and labor-intensive to bring in these homes.

Tristan: So, if you have somebody who’s trying to get into the industry, you don’t mind doing some leg work and orchestrating the deal, you can really make some noise and really make some good business connections which again, like Brandon just said. I mean, at that point, once you have a connection set up, it’s easy money to an extent.

Tristan: So, it’s really easy to go and add value to these mobile home park owners and say, “Hey, look. I noticed you have two or three lots available in your park. Would you mind if I brought in some homes?” And maybe at that point, you can ask for a concession on lot rent like, “Hey, give me three months free lot rent and I’ll bring in my home.”

Tristan: They understand the value of these things. They’re businessmen. So, that’s really what has been huge for me is finding these business connections, adding value to these people. And, again, it’s symbiotic relationship of money, which is cool.

Brandon: Yeah. That’s really awesome.

David: Tristan, I know that investing in mobile home parks like you’ve mentioned can be really good. It can also be just like all kind of real estate, really scary. You buy in the wrong market. You buy in the wrong area. It doesn’t matter if you do everything right, you’re going to lose money. What are some criteria that you look for when choosing a market that you want to start putting out your bandit signs and putting up signs and putting up the word that you want to buy in that area?

Tristan: Yeah. No, that’s a great question, David. I mean, I really use four criteria markers whenever I’m considering buying a home in a different area or just in general. This is something I would suggest to anybody kind of wanting to get into this space is number one, I mean, it’s like with any asset class. Again, you just don’t want to go out and buy some overpriced something just because you can. You really got to understand the market value of these things.

Tristan: So, I spent the better half of eight months researching in my area what these things are going for? What’s a motivated seller look like? Exactly what’s a good deal? So, that was a big one for me is understanding market value of these things.

Tristan: Number two would definitely be finding out the motivation of these sellers. I mean, that’s a screaming deal for any asset class but especially these mobile homes. I mean, these things turn over so easily. I mean, with the loss of a job, with a move to somewhere else, I mean, you can really add value again to somebody who is in a pinch and needs to get out quick because one thing a lot of people don’t understand, especially with this asset class, is you’re always paying lot rent every month. So, if someone loses a job and they need to go and move in with a family member or a friend, they’re still in charge of paying 300, $400 a month lot rent. As you can imagine with somebody who’s mostly paycheck to paycheck, that gets really stressful.

Tristan: So, when you can come in and add value, you have cash in hand, you can alleviate their pain right off the bat. They’re in love with it. They’re all over it. So that works out really well.

Tristan: One thing I also look at is you have to understand how much time this is going to take. So, it’s completely market dependent again. In Maine, things in the winter are always slower, so you have to understand how much time you have allotted to this.

Tristan: Then, last thing you got to look at, what’s your money situation looking like? How much money can you allot per deal, especially if you’re trying to scale.

Tristan: So again, I know I say this a lot during this episode, but there’s really no difference between what I do and every other asset class in real estate investing. It’s the same concepts I learned from three years of diving deep in the BiggerPockets Podcast that I’ve just applied to this odd, unsexy niche that’s just completely blown up in my life.

Tristan: So, as I think Jefferson Lilly once said, “It’s an unsexy niche but it has sexy profits.” So, I kind of go by that.

Brandon: Yeah. That’s great. That’s great.

Brandon: So, what are some of the things that people should be aware of in terms because you were telling me this yesterday about understanding the legalities and how a title works and how … What are some of those things that you can warn people before they just jump in. What should they figure out?

Tristan: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, there’s two big things. And that’s the thing. You just don’t want to jump in on this thing. I mean, I took months to educate myself. I was calling business directors, I mean, or whatever mobile home associations. You really have to understand what you’re doing because, I mean, as is with anything else, there’s a legality to this thing. You have to be professional.

Tristan: So, there’s really two things. There’s either personal property or considered real estate. So, luckily in Maine and there’s a slew of other states that they’re considered, if they’re in parks not attached to land, they’re considered just personal property, which you can sell these things easily on the backside of a napkin literally would be a legal way of selling these things.

Tristan: So, you just definitely want to go through, I mean, I spent all kinds of money with attorneys drafting documents, a bill of sales. I mean, you just definitely want to make sure … I mean, it’s no different. You’re still in real estate. You’re still dealing with money, other people’s money. You want to make sure that you’re covered.

Tristan: So, I’d highly suggest if you want to get into this you go to your mobile home park association. Every state has one. Give them a call. They usually don’t do not a whole lot on a day-to-day basis so they’ll be thrilled that you called them. They’ll talk your ear off for hours so that’s-

Brandon: “Yes! Somebody called us!”

Tristan: Exactly. Free information. BiggerPockets Meetups is another great one. Whether people really understand it or not, these mobile home are simple beasts and people will always have great advice because it correlates so well with all other types of real estate investing.

Tristan: So again, yeah. Absolutely. Go to an attorney, spend some money. Make sure you’re doing it right. Have a slew of documents. Again, if you go to your mobile home park association, every state, they usually have free legal documents that are 100% legal because they’ve dealt with them. It’s a great way not to go to attorneys and make the mistake I did and spend several thousands of dollars but there’s always information out there. It’s just really, you got to put yourself out there, ask questions. With me, it’s nice because I’m young, I’m motivated so I work out really well with older guys in the game where I can really just kind of attach via a sponge, learn as much as I can. Then, again, always try to add value back wherever I can. It always is nice when that correlates with financial, for financial freedom, so works out well.

Brandon: Well, I know you’ve recently bought your first park so you’re getting into that world as well. But where do you see yourself long-term headed? More parks, more homes? What’s the next five, 10 years look like for you?

Tristan: Yeah. No. That’s a good-

Brandon: Besides helping me fill out my [crosstalk 00:40:43]?

Tristan: Yeah. That’s right. That’s probably number one.

Brandon: Yes.

Tristan: No. The long-term goal for me, honestly is I don’t really like dealing with tenants. I got into real estate investing not to be a landlord. I got in to be financially free. I want to do what I want when I want with whom I want. Those are the kind of three markers that I wake up every morning and say, “If I can do these three things, I’m happy.”

Tristan: So, my long-term goal actually is to get out of this space at some point. I think it’s really smart for me to dive in hard now while I’m young and motivated, and eventually sell things off. I’d fall in love with lending and money and banks. They make the most money, the easiest money. They’ll never get called. It doesn’t matter. You got to pay your mortgage every month.

Tristan: So, Dave Van Horn, the notes, real estate investing, lending. I mean, that’s really where I see myself here in five to 10 years is getting out of this daily grind of finding mobile homes, crawling underneath mobile homes and stuff like that and getting more into the lending aspect of things to just a lot of hands-off stuff and come back out here to Maui and go surfing with you guys and not have to worry about any of my real estate stuff, though.

Brandon: Sounds all right to me. Sounds good to me. All right. Well, yeah, before we move onto the next segment, I’m just curious. Why did you buy a mobile home park?

Tristan: Yeah. Absolutely. So, it was really evident to me. I think I had maybe 10 mobile homes at the point where it really just kind of hit me. I said, “Okay. Well, each month, all my residents, they’re all paying lot rent to the park owners.”

Tristan: So, I did the numbers and it was something crazy like all my residents at the time were paying $7,000 a month to these mobile home park owners. As I just makes, it’s just like, “Okay. So, if I get a park, then I’ll be getting that $7,000 a month plus the rent or the rent down payments.”

Tristan: So, it just really clicked. It was just the next natural avenue for me to take that next step into commercial real estate. Again, it was the same thing when I first started. It was a big daunting task that I took little by little, chunk by chunk. I went to Frank Rolfe’s mobile home park boot camp twice. Once with Ryan Murdock and, again, it was the same thing I did with BiggerPockets. I just submerged myself in mobile home park knowledge, books, podcasts, everything I could do. So there was really no difference but that was just the next natural step for me was mobile home park.

Tristan: It’s been great. It’s really a lot cooler with that because it’s on a lot more magnitude scale than just a one individual home. You can walk into a park as you know or really any big multifamily apartment complex. If you have any kind of vision, you can start seeing things. You can see value add opportunities and at least in my area, I saw a few parks that had a lot value add opportunities and that’s where you make your most money is if you’re not afraid to get down and dirty and really just add value to something.

Tristan: So, in my park, to be specific, it was more of a rundown park. So, I knew if I could just come in there, paint up some of the homes, do some landscaping, pave it, stuff like that, it would increase the park’s value for one and it would also increase the atmosphere of the tenants, the quality of tenants and all kinds of stuff.

Tristan: So, it’s been really cool for me to go through the process of actually owning a community and seeing my dream kind of come to fruition. We’ve put in water, sewer lines from scratch, electrical poles, lights, pads. It’s literally like you’re owning kind of a mini city.

Brandon: City, yeah.

Tristan: And you’re dealing with city officials and all kinds of stuff. It’s like playing Monopoly in a way. It’s kind of cool to piece it together. At the end of the day, I kind of pride myself, especially with my community is having a nice, safe quality community for these residents.

Tristan: We’ve been blown away by the feedback we’ve gotten. One gentleman said to me, “I’ve been living here seven years and you guys have done more in two months than the previous owner did in seven years.”

Brandon: Wow!

Tristan: They’re blown away. So, it’s just been really fun, cool process just to go through it all. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Brandon: That’s awesome.

Brandon: All right. Well, let’s head to the next segment of the show. It is our deal deep dive.

Tristan: Awesome. Awesome.

Brandon: All right. This is the part of the show where we dive deep into one particular deal that you’ve done. I’d love to know a little bit like we’re just going to fire a bunch of questions at you about one of your mobile homes. So, you got something in mind?

Tristan: Yeah. Absolutely.

Brandon: So, first question. Let’s see. What type of property is this?

Tristan: Yeah. A mobile home.

Brandon: All right. And where is that located?

Tristan: In Maine.

Brandon: Okay. Number two, David Greene.

David: How did you find this property?

Tristan: Yeah. So this one is a unique one. I actually originally spotted this one out … This is actually a real unique story. So, I just bought a house on the water, on a lake, and we had a septic inspector come out. He did a septic design or an inspection on our property.

Tristan: Long story short, two or three weeks later, I get this call out of nowhere from the same gentleman. I answered the phone, “Hello.” He says, “Hello.” And I’m like, “You called me.” He’s like, “Yeah. I’m sorry. I just picked up the phone and I was calling you.” I was like, “Oh.” I didn’t know who he was at the time. I said, “Well, I buy and sell mobile homes. Is it something about a mobile home?” He’s like, “Mobile home? No. Although I have a mobile home for sale in my driveway.”

Brandon: No way!

Tristan: So, it just got going. Sure enough, I took a trip down to him. He had a beautiful 14 by 80 mobile home in his driveway that he had just come across at some point. We hashed out a deal because I was going to move it up to my park. I bought it for $7,000. It was great. I was like, “Sweet! I just filled a spot in my park.”

Tristan: Long story short, fast-forward a couple more weeks, I get a call from a guy because we’re getting leads in all the time. He says, “Hey, you know, my dad just died. He left me 25,000 cash. I’m looking for a home. Do you have anything?” I put two and two together. Like, “Yeah, absolutely. I got one for 23,000.” He’s like, “Great. Let me come take a look at it.”

Tristan: So, we drove down to the guy’s driveway. I asked him if we could come beforehand. He said, “Absolutely.” He took a look at it. Not even three seconds into the home, he’s like, “I’ll take it.” He had cash, or he didn’t have cash, a banker’s check with him right there and there it is.

Brandon: So, you basically wholesaled it?

Tristan: It was a wholesale deal that happened extremely quick. I went down twice. One to buy it. One to sell it. We netted about 16,000 on it.

Brandon: Fantastic!

Tristan: And it all happened by a guy who just accidentally called me, literally butt dialed me and I made 16,000 of it.

Brandon: That’s funny.

Tristan: That might be my best deal.

Brandon: All right. Well, that covered a lot of our questions here. So, last question. What lessons did you learn from that deal?

Tristan: The lesson I learned from that one is just what I should have done to him beforehand is just always hold business cards with you, always tell people what you do. That’s one thing. I mean, especially in this asset class, a lot of people try to just stick to their own but one thing I’ve learned is especially one thing. Ryan Murdock’s really shouted me out with is hey look, go and talk to people. Go out to the BP Meetups. Go and call people around. Find a mentor and just tell them what you’re doing. You’ll never, ever know like the septic guy butt dialed me who has something that might be of value to you. In my case, it was a huge value so it worked out.

Brandon: That’s so funny. Very cool. Very cool.

Brandon: All right. Next, let’s get over to the world famous fire round.

David: Fire round!

Brandon: These questions come direct from the BiggerPockets forums that we’re going to fire them at you. They might not be specifically related to mobile home parks but they should all apply to you.

Brandon: Oh, boy. Number one. Josh Miller from Kingwood, Texas posted this. “So, my tenant has been great paying on time. I received a complaint from a neighbor unit that the tenant is smoking weed inside the unit. I do have a no-smoking policy in my lease. I also have recently been told by a tenant smoking that she will be leaving when her lease is up again at the end of April,” so that’s like six months from now. “What would you do in this situation?”

Tristan: Absolutely. So, especially when it comes to cannabis, it gets a lot more intense now that states are trying to starting to legalize these. Maine is a recreational, legalized state.

Tristan: So, at least what my rule is, I just ask them to do it outside or at least open up the window. I guess I’ve been really good with being personable with my tenants. I try not to come in with the, “I’m the landlord. I’m the hammer down,” and just tell them what to do. I usually explain to them that it’s sensitive to other people and that if you could just be accommodating to everyone else who’s living around you but yeah, it’s kind of … He might be in a hard situation if he lives in one of those states because you kind of maybe have to let him do it but yeah. Even if you have to let him do it, I would still suggest trying to work with him, with other tenants involved saying, “Hey, look. Let’s have some common sense here.”

Brandon: Yeah, and definitely you can still, I mean, even if it’s legal doesn’t mean that they’re allowed to [crosstalk 00:48:29] it inside.

Tristan: Do it in the building.

Brandon: Exactly, yeah.

Tristan: Absolutely.

Brandon: So, then I tolerate there because it’s like, they’re going to be leaving in six months anyway, so … I mean, how much can …

Tristan: I wouldn’t push it too hard. Again, Ryan Murdock has given me some great advice throughout the years. I’ve actually had similar instances and he’s always said, “Look. As long as everyone’s still paying their rent. As long as people are semi-happy, you’re providing what you should be paying. I mean, you should be providing.”

Tristan: So, again, I would just look at it at a case-by-case basis. As long as people aren’t withholding rent from you, you’re probably safe. Again, just pretty much let the tenants try to deal it out. We’re all adults here. Really, landlords, I try to stay out of it as much as I can. And then, I’ll always document everything. Wherever I talk to a tenant, I always document it, just in case anything comes back.

Brandon: Yeah. Good. Awesome.

Brandon: Next question from Sean Rhodes in Portland, Oregon. “Hello. I am currently self-managing my seven-bedroom house hack and renting by the room. I’m wondering if anyone knows of the best software for me to use. I would like to have it include the ability to have a digital lease rental applications and possibly electronic rent collection.”

Tristan: Yeah. I think that’s going depend wildly on how many units you have. And again, something I learned off BiggerPockets when I first got started out, I think it’s like up to 10 units. I worked really well with just Excel spreadsheets. Just simple tracking devices but the more and more you scale and the bigger and bigger you get, it’s so much more complex.

Tristan: So, finally, I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve just hired a property management company and they use rent manager software. There’s a tons of softwares out there but it just makes it so much easier, especially as a landlord point of view. You can just go into a portal and then I’ll see what you have access to but yeah, I wouldn’t get too bogged down with the books of all that. It’s well worth it to just ship that off to somebody else to take care for you but yeah, the smaller you are, try to do it yourself and save a lot of money, Excel spreadsheets the bigger you get, shoot that off to somebody else.

Brandon: All right. Good answer. Number three, ironically from another person named Tristan in Commerce City, Colorado. “I’m just curious of how long everyone typically waits for a contractor’s bid to come back. I know a lot of contractors just have tons of work available so there is a lot of delay in getting it back and some of them just don’t care. How long would you wait before moving on to find another contractor?”

Tristan: So, I tend to be super aggressive when it comes to getting a property. I’m sure it’s with everybody. You have holding costs. You have an investment invested. You want to get your back your money as fast as possible. So, if I don’t have a contractor that’s super excited to work with me and sees my values moving forward, he normally never even gets a call back.

Tristan: So, I’ve been really fortunate. I’ve been in this long enough to where I have two really solid crews that take care of basically everything for me. We’ve developed a system just like with everyone else that whenever I have something, they can basically go right into it and knock it out exactly how I want it to.

Tristan: So, again, I think starting out, the contractors don’t call you back, they’re probably going to be late on their work. I wouldn’t give them any time of day. I would just continue trying to call until you find that one. You’re always going to lose out on contractors. They’re a dime a dozen. You’re never going to have one for your whole life. I would just move on. It’s a respect thing at that point, so yeah.

Brandon: All right. Awesome.

David: Okay. This next question’s a good one from Wade [Penner 00:51:30]. “My tenant won’t be home during some upcoming maintenance in which a heater replacement’s going to take place. This could take a few hours. It’s a trustworthy company doing the installation. I need to let the installer in but do I have to wait around until they finish since the tenant isn’t home? It seems unrealistic for me to be present during every type of maintenance but I just want to double check.”

Tristan: Yeah. No. That’s a great question. I’m a big fan of not getting pulled out of my house whenever we have somebody coming in, installation something. I also love being involved, though.

Tristan: So, I would definitely show up, get them started on something and then normally, I end up leaving as long as you do understand their quality of work and you trust them and all that. Normally, if I’m not around, I try to have at least another tenant keep an eye on things or I’ll tell him, “Hey, if you need anything, unit one is there. They’re home.”

Tristan: So, absolutely. I mean, and again, it comes back to the trust thing. As long as you trust them to do work correctly, absolutely. I think you’re fine leaving and not having to be there every time but if it’s the first guy you use, I usually stick around all the time, just to make sure he’s doing stuff correctly because these guys, you never really know.

Brandon: Yeah. You never know. I like to offset that to the tenant. So, I’m like, “Let me hook you up with the tenant.” And if the tenant gives permission. “Yeah. Come to my house.” Then, I’m really, I know I’m fine and if the tenant doesn’t …

Brandon: I’m curious. Ryan Murdock’s hanging out here recording us today with the videos. What would you do in that case, Ryan? So, if you had a repair on a furnace, let’s say, and your tenant wasn’t going to be home all day, would you allow a contractor to go in and deal with … Would you allow a contractor to go in and deal?

Ryan Murdock: Yeah. Yeah, because chances are, I would have a relationship with that contractor all [crosstalk 00:53:01].

Brandon: If they’re a brand new, let’s say. You never worked with them before. How do you … That’s tough, isn’t it?

Ryan Murdock: Yeah. I probably still wouldn’t meet them there. Depends on the situation. Depends on what they’re doing.

Brandon: Yeah.

Ryan Murdock: Yeah.

Brandon: If they’re licensed and bonded, they’re probably fine.

Ryan Murdock: Yeah. Yeah. Time to get the keys from me. Schedule the tenant and go in and do what you got to do.

Brandon: Yeah. Makes sense.

Ryan Murdock: If either side puts up a real fight, then maybe you’ll get in there but generally, I try to avoid that.

Brandon: Yeah. What would you do, David?

David: I would do the same as you because if you make the call, the guy’s going to be here. I’m not going to be waiting and the tenant doesn’t like that. They could just claim the person took something and want you to pay for it. Now, the contractor’s saying, “I didn’t steal anything.” The tenant’s saying, “They did.” You’re sucked into a bad battle.

David: If you stay there for three hours waiting, the tenant could still do that. They could say, “You stole something.” I just wouldn’t want to be in that unit without a tenant there. Just because I have the right to be there doesn’t mean it’s the right move.

David: So, I would do what you said, Brandon. You take yourself out of it. You tell the tenant, “Hey, I got someone to replace your water heater. This is the handyman. This is the contractor. Here’s the number. Call them and tell them when you want them to come.” And if the water guy or the heater installation guys tells the person it’s going to be three hours and they say, “Well, I can’t be here,” it’s their call not to be there, not your call.

David: And if they want to wait the three hours, then let them schedule it for when it does work for you. You don’t have to play the middle man and do that. So, I think, Brandon, your advice was really good in it. It reduced the liability on the landlord the most.

Brandon: All right. Good. Good segment there. That was fun. Kind of a landlording addition of the fire round. Let’s go to the next second, though, the famous four.

David: Famous four.

Brandon: All right. This is the part of the show where we ask the same four questions that we ask every week and we’re going to throw them at you right now.

Brandon: All right. Let’s get to this thing. Question number one of the famous four. Do you have a favorite real estate-related book?

Tristan: Absolutely. Yeah, no. This is going to sound a little cliché but absolutely. It’s a book by you and your wife, Managing Rental Properties.

Brandon: Whoo! Yeah!

Tristan: I definitely didn’t have that prepared in advance but I’ll explain why. When I was in college, I’m not sure exactly what you were advertising at the plan. I’m not sure if I didn’t have the money for it or what but I actually downloaded the e-book from it.

Brandon: Illegally?

Tristan: No, no.

Brandon: Illegal!

Tristan: It might have been-

Brandon: I’m out of here. I’m out of here. Pirating!

Tristan: It might have been free with a purchase of something else but I downloaded the e-book. I was in college and I actually went to the library and printed off all, whatever 250 pages.

Brandon: Wow! That’s awesome.

Tristan: And put it in a three-ring binder. I just spent months and months combing over that thing with a highlighter. It honestly, it paid tenfold into what eventually would have been my business to the systems I had in place, I mean the filing cabinets, the in-box, or the whole nine yards of exactly how to organize your business and your company.

Tristan: So, from a starter trying to get into the business, you got my feet wet with real estate but that, by far, was probably the best book to get me organized, which, as you know, organization is huge when you’re trying to get into real estate investing. Yeah. Absolutely. Good shout-out to you and Heather.

Brandon: Thanks, man. That’s awesome. Yeah. I’m totally going to take that whole segment and put that on the sales page for that book because that was great.

Brandon: All right. Next question, David Greene.

David: Next question, how much did Brandon pay you to say what you said?

Tristan: He paid for my trip to Maui.

Brandon: Yeah. There you go. He gets to fly in my Ohana unit. There you go. Smart man, Tristan. Okay.

David: The real question. What is your favorite business book.

Tristan: Yeah. No. That would have to be Mastery by, I think, Robert Greene.

Brandon: Yeah. Okay.

Tristan: I read that early on in the real estate investment career.

Brandon: Yeah. We had him on the show.

Tristan: Yeah, no. I absolutely loved it. He talks a lot about the 10,000 hours that it takes to become a master. He gives all kinds of examples. I think people really overlook how much time and dedication it takes to be great at anything. A lot of people get in touch with me, know they just want to be an overnight success. So, I think that’s, with everything, they just want to do it and get it done with and be successful but, as I learned with basketball and as I’m learning with real estate, it just doesn’t happen like that. You have to be … Like your quote up here. You absolutely love it. You have to be in the arena. You have to have the scars on your face. You have to work through it to be called a master. I think that’s why there’s so few masters in this world.

Brandon: Wow! Great answer.

David: Love that. And little known fact, Robert is my uncle. We share [crosstalk 00:57:50].

Brandon: Awesome! That’s not even true at all.

David: No. It’s a total lie.

Tristan: You got to be! You got to be!

David: Yeah. I taught him everything he knows.

Brandon: All right. Next up, what are some of your hobbies?

Tristan: Yeah. Absolutely love to travel. Like I said, I’ve been fortunate to make it to nine different countries this year. I love the thing of about financial freedom. I absolutely love doing what I want when I want with whom I want. We just bought a lake house. Love my dogs. Love hanging out in the water. Spent a lot of time with my girlfriend but yeah, I pretty much don’t do a whole lot besides real estate investing and trying to travel.

Brandon: Very cool. All right. Last question from me. What do you think sets apart successful real estate investors from those who give up, fail, or never get started?

Tristan: Yeah. That’s a good question. I know I’ve heard this on the show before but absolutely, it’s fear. And that’s why I think what we’ve talked about today is such a unique asset class is this really minimizes your fear, it almost [inaudible 00:58:43] wholesaling and stuff like that. I think people just get so overwhelmed with a big, audacious goal. This is a really easy first step for someone with just a few thousand dollars to get their feet wet into this.

Tristan: So, I absolutely think that just people get, you get too scared or that and matched with they just don’t have a big enough why. They don’t get out of bed with a huge burning desire to be successful each and every day.

Tristan: So, I think that mixed with fear makes a deadly concoction of people that just don’t take action. So, I think if you have a strong why and you get out of bed with a desire to be successful each and every day and you just live with no fear, as easy as that sounds, one way or another, over time, through massive daily action, you will succeed. It’s just [crosstalk 00:59:21].

Brandon: Massive daily action. There you go. I love it, dude. I love that great answer.

Brandon: All right. Well, that’s all I got.

David: Last question. Well, I got one more for him.

Brandon: Well, that’s all I got. That’s all I got, David. It’s not all about you, David.

David: It’s you, all the time. Narcissistic Norman, I swear. I try to say three words in the second set and you shut me right out.

Brandon: I know.

David: All right. Tristan, this is about you, so tell me, where can people find out more about you?

Tristan: Yeah. Absolutely. I try to stay hidden under a rock most of the days but no, absolutely, anybody can absolutely reach out to me whenever they want. Instagram, I think you guys will tag some of the handles right there. Email, [email protected], absolutely want to talk to anybody about … I clearly love this stuff. I eat, breathe, sleep it every single day. So, I’ll talk anybody’s ear off. You’ll probably get more than what you actually want but yeah, absolutely. Feel free to reach out.

Brandon: All right. Yeah. We will put that in the show notes, of course, biggerpockets.com/show362.

Tristan: Awesome.

Brandon: And now have links to all your social profiles there. In fact, you’re on Instagram at …

Tristan: Trthomas14.

Brandon: Trthomas14 and you can follow … Oh, Tristan, how am I not following you? Now I am. Follow back. All right. Sorry, dude. I wasn’t following you.

Tristan: You got it.

Brandon: Now, I’m following you.

Tristan: Take him out to Maui first. I’d be on a podcast.

Brandon: Exactly. Now, you’re officially being followed. Man, [crosstalk 01:00:39]-

Tristan: We’re actually friends.

Brandon: Now, I feel like a moron not following my own guests on Instagram.

Brandon: All right. Well, thank you so much for being here today. This is fantastic.

Tristan: [crosstalk 01:00:46] having me.

Brandon: And David, I’ll let you take … Wait. Before we get out of here, we got to do our pro member spotlight.

David: Yes, we do.

Brandon: [crosstalk 01:00:52] our pro member spotlight.

Tristan: I agree with that.

Brandon: This week’s pro member spotlight … There is not here. So, we’ll have to do it later. So, let’s do our-

David: Outro.

Brandon: … outro later, maybe or just skip the pro member spotlight. We’ll just skip it this week. Let’s skip it. We can reuse it. All right. So, with that, I guess we’re just going to take off because it’s a hot day. It’s getting warmer out here in Maui.

Tristan: About to go snorkeling.

Brandon: Are you going to go snorkeling? Where you going?

Tristan: Somewhere, some secret cove. Ryan [inaudible 01:01:22].

Brandon: Ah! Cam three. Great spot for snorkeling. You’ll go hang out with some turtles today.

Brandon: What’s really fun is there’s two things you got to do with turtles when you come to Hawaii. Number one, if you see a turtle on the beach, don’t mind all the cones and the ribbons around it that say, “Don’t touch.” If you’re new to Hawaii, you just go over and flip the turtle on its back and just watch it flail. It’s really good.

David: Yeah. [crosstalk 01:01:41].

Brandon: Yeah. It’s just run in the house and number two, if you find a turtle under the water, what they love is when you grab onto their shells and let them take you for a ride. So, just, it’s like an underwater-

David: It’s Finding Nemo all over again.

Brandon: Exactly. So, make sure you do those two things and you’ll have a great time and you’ll get a tour of the county jail, all in one day. It’s great.

David: [crosstalk 01:01:59]. Dude, dude.

Tristan: All right. Brandon and David, I very much appreciate you guys having me on board. It’s been awesome. Thank you.

Brandon: No. Thank you.

David: Awesome. Thank you very much, Brandon. This is David Greene for Brandon don’t listen to his terrible advice Turner signing off.

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In This Episode We Cover:

  • How Tristan got into mobile homes
  • How he finds deals in today’s market
  • The key differences to holding title to mobile homes compared with traditional real estate
  • How to use “rent-to-own” financing to eliminate maintenance and repairs costs
  • How to motivate your tenants to take better care of the property
  • How to build wealth with very little of your own money
  • Making a 100% return on investment within 12 months
  • His 5 biggest lead generators that are all free
  • The criteria he looks for to find the best mobile home deals
  • Getting into real estate investing for financial freedom
  • And SO much more!

Links from the Show

Books Mentioned in this Show

Tweetable Topics:

  • “At the end of the day, it’s not about what other people think. It’s about your own personal happiness.” (Tweet This!)
  • “Once you have the connections set up, it’s easy money to an extent.” (Tweet This!)
  • “It’s easy to go and add value to these mobile homes.” (Tweet This!)
  • “You don’t just buy some overpriced properties just because you can. You have to understand the market value of them.” (Tweet This!)
  • “Go and talk to people.” (Tweet This!)

Connect with Tristan

Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.