BiggerPockets Real Estate Podcast

BiggerPockets Podcast 412: Start Investing in Large Multifamily? How to Do it, and Why (or Why Not) with Ashley Wilson

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Download the tip sheet here: Roadmap for Scaling to Large Multifamily

Ashley “BadAsh” Wilson is back today to discuss how she’s shifted strategies since her popular first appearance on the show two years ago.

Today's topics: Jumping from house flipping and short-term rentals into large multifamily; finding and using your unique ability when getting started; and how women can (and should!) use real estate investing to secure financial independence.

Want to know how many offers it takes to land a 150-unit apartment building in Houston? Interested in multifamily, but unsure where to start? You’ll get answers in this show – and in the multifamily “tip sheet” she prepared just for our audience (download it below).

If you are a woman who’s determined to get into real estate investing – or if you think your wife, mother, sister, or daughter would benefit from hearing Ashley’s story – pick up a copy of her new book, The Only Woman in the Room: Knowledge and Inspiration from 20 Women Real Estate Investors today!

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts.

Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

Brandon:
This is the BiggerPockets Podcast show 412.

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Ashley:
There’s no right or wrong strategy. Just because you look up to someone and you say, “I want to be where they are someday,” that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be where they are today because your personal situation might not match their personal situation.

Voiceover:
You’re listening to BiggerPockets Radio, simplifying real estate for investors, large and small. If you’re here looking to learn about real estate investing, without all the hype, you’re 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 going on, everyone? This Brandon Turner, host of the BiggerPockets Podcast here, with my co-host, Mr. David Greene. David, guess what happened this morning, not five minutes before we started recording the episode?

David:
What happened?

Brandon:
Guess what? Take a wild guess. Wild guess.

David:
A wild, wild guess? Well-

Brandon:
Take a wilder guess.

David:
My first guess, the first time I’d ever guessed anything would be… Do I get four guesses by chance?

Brandon:
You have one guess.

David:
What happened?

Brandon:
Okay, fine. I’ll tell you. Wilder took his very first steps this morning.

David:
Awesome. How many did he take?

Brandon:
Four of them. It was awesome.

David:
You got a track star.

Brandon:
I know. You bet.

David:
You got a track star there, four steps on his first time.

Brandon:
Yeah. It was pretty exciting. So, I missed it on my first… On Rosie, I missed the first steps, and I swore I would not miss… I almost did. I walked out of the house, [inaudible 00:01:29]this podcast and have her goes “Wait, Brandon, come here. I think he’s going to do it.” I turned around, I walked over. I was like, “Come here. Go, buddy.” He just walked out across the floor to me. It was magical.

David:
That’s very cool.

Brandon:
Yeah, very cool. Anyway, that’s my big news for the day. What about you? What’s up with you? How’s work, how’s life, how’s hiring, how’s your team?

David:
That's going really good actually. I'm hiring people for my real estate team and my loan team, and basically just interns, in general. So we've been interviewing some people. There's a lot of people that are stuck at home right now, or COVID has made them rethink that their previous career. So for everyone listening, if you've been thinking about getting into something new, this is a really good time to do it. So, I'm going to be hiring some new people, and business is going as good as it's ever gone. So, thank you for asking that. I'm very blessed.

Brandon:
That's cool, man. Actually, it reminds me of something we talked about on today's show with Ashley. We talked about this idea of you have to make money in something and then you also should be investing that money. Now, you could have a job or you could make money in a job and then go and dump that money and do an passive investment. Or you could make money in real estate in some way. Whether it's flipping, whether it's short-term rentals, whether it's working as a real estate agent, or working for a real estate agent, you got to make money.
The nice thing is when you can combine those two, when you’re working in the business, and you’re also investing, it’s like to use the analogy that both of us have been playing with a lot lately about building bridges. Yes, you have two bridges, but they’re sharing a ton of material. You’re like, you really did side by side, and you’re sharing the crane to be able to use both because you’re in real estate. So, if you’re at a point right now, where you’re just like, “Man, I hate my job, I want something new,” maybe now’s a good time to say “I’m going to shift, and I’m going to start building my real estate passive business alongside my active business.”

David:
Maybe we should make that our quick tip. That’s really, really good.

Brandon:
That is today’s quick tip.

David:
Quick tip. Yeah, that synergy between what you love and doing it to make money, it makes you better at the investing for us. It helps us to earn income with what we’re doing. We get to play in the same pool the whole time. Today’s guest, Ashley, brings a fire episode. She shares a lot of really good advice for how to figure out what you’re good at, what’s your niche, get in where you fit in and how to know where that is.

Brandon:
Yeah. Her conversation on getting in the multifamily was solid, which by the way, she put together like an [inaudible 00:03:38]because we don’t want to spend an hour to go into all the things you need to know to get into multi. So, she actually put together a checklist, you can just get it for free. Just go to biggerpockets.com/show412. We’ll put a download link to it there in the show notes. So, definitely check that out. Then make sure… I think, maybe one of the strongest parts of this entire show, and I know you’d agree because we were messaging each other back and forth on how good it was, was this idea of how to find deals no matter what kind of competitive market you find yourself in. Right now, how to find great deals. Ashley, just nailed it, and it has to do with problem.
It’s time to get on with today’s show with my good friend Ashley Wilson. So, I don’t know, I got nothing else to add before that. David, anything to bring her in?

David:
What you just mentioned, Brandon, the advice she gives probably can be completely frank some of the best advice the BiggerPockets podcast has ever put out. It is incredibly powerful when you combine what Ashley talks about with solving problems and finding your niche.

Brandon:
Yeah. So true. All right. Listen up, everyone. Take some notes. You’re going to love this. Without further delay, Ashley Wilson.
Ashley, welcome back to the BiggerPockets Podcast. It is fantastic to talk to you again. How are you doing?

Ashley:
Great. Thanks so much for having me.

Brandon:
Yeah. So let’s get into this. So, the last time you were on the show was back a couple years ago. We learned about how you built your business and the real estate portfolio, but I know you’ve done a lot of moves since then. You were out here in Maui hanging out with me a couple of years ago. We were talking about where you wanted to head toward. Now, it’s cool because I’ve seen you really move into that in a lot of ways, which is super exciting. So, we’re going to go through that journey today. But why don’t for those who didn’t listen to the last episode, give us a quick one or two-minute synopsis on how you got into real estate, what the path that you took?

Ashley:
Absolutely. So, I got into real estate because I was looking for a way that we could invest our money and diversify our retirement strategy. What I didn't realize at the time and thought real estate would then become my full-time passion, which it is today. So, we've done a little bit of everything from house hacking, short-term, long-term rentals, flipping. Now, we focus very heavily on large multifamily.

Brandon:
That’s cool. Why the multifamily thing? Why focus on that now?

Ashley:
Multifamily has a lot of advantages. I think that people know quite commonly through tax benefits also to long-term wealth building strategies, how slipping alternatively is more like a kind of get rich, it's surges of income, where it doesn't have that long sustainability of cashflow that we like. Of course, there's both the natural and the forced appreciation factors, too. But we really like multifamily because it also hedges against inflation.

Brandon:
Okay. That makes sense. All right. So-

David:
Now, did you start with multifamily investing, or did you start with single family and move into it?

Ashley:
We started with single family. The first thing we started with was short-term rentals like Airbnb rentals. We transitioned into long-term rentals, then flipping, then multifamily.

David:
What would you say was the driving force that got you into multifamily instead of just scaling a lot of single family like most people tend to do?

Ashley:
We really like the economies of scale of large multifamily. By skipping the steps, we could see the stacking method, while it does have a lot of benefits to a lot of people. By stacking method, what I mean is going from a duplex to a quad to an eight plex. That is definitely a method that a lot of people use. We wanted to jump headfirst, so to speak, into it because we saw the benefit of scaling faster sooner for us. We had an opportunity to do so, especially with my construction background. There was a group that needed someone to manage a multi-million dollar construction rehab to a large multifamily project, and it was a perfect parlay for me to jump in.

Brandon:
Whoa, okay. So, I want to talk about this. This is so important. So, you mentioned the stack. I talk about that a lot of webinars and on BiggerPockets. The idea being thinking exponentially or geometrically instead of linear, “I’m going to buy a house in the next year, buy a house next year, buy a house.” I’m always encouraging people to think a little bit bigger because what people do is they get stuck in this comfort zone. What I love that you did, you kind of like, we’ll call it, stack hacking. You didn’t go from a duplex, within a four plex and wait a few years, then go to an eight-unit. You hacked that process very, very rapidly. The way you did so was by harnessing other people’s experience.
In fact, I was sitting on my lanai, we call it, it’s basically a front porch last night with my two interns from the BiggerPockets community, who are out here working in Maui. We talked about this for an hour, this idea that like, should you just start with the multifamily, just jump right in and go buy a 50-unit or whatever. My answer was, one of them asked me that. I said, the answer was, “I don’t think so because you have to learn all the mistakes along the way, unless you hack that and you harness somebody else’s experience.” So you did construction management, you said, for a larger project. What was that like?

Ashley:
Correct. So, it was about a $2 million rehab. It involves building a building up from the ground up. There was a fire while we were under contract. So, an entire building was wiped out. Yeah. That’s an interesting story. It’s actually a good thing when that happened, shockingly, as long as everyone, of course, is okay. But we had that going into it along with a little over $1.2 million value-add plan. So, we were, in essence, creating forced appreciation by renovating the property through both interior and exterior renovations and then increasing the runs because we obviously need to get the return on our investment.
But to your point, Brandon, that's a really interesting question. I don't think that there's a one-size-fits-all answer for it. I really think it's situational dependent. I think in our situation, my backgrounds growing up with a general contractor's a father, seeing single family through multifamily construction, understanding how large-scale projects work, getting first-hand experience through smaller projects on both flipping, short-term rentals, long-term rentals, and having that experience as a real estate investor, and then partnering with very knowledgeable, experienced people who have their own genius and other core aspects of multifamily, I was able to leverage my skill and jump right into it a lot further along than maybe most people exercise.

Brandon:
That’s so good.

David:
I think that’s a really great point to highlight that so many people… I think Brandon and I see this a lot, you probably do, too, Ashley, say, “Tell me what to do. I just want to go do it.” You recognize it doesn’t work that way. If it worked that way, everybody would already bought every house that’s out there. This is a business like other businesses, and you have to figure out what are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? What are you going to excel at? I love that you said, “I took this road because that’s how my mind and my opportunity is geared towards,” that real estate investing can be just like everything else in life. What type of movies do you like? Well, we don’t all like the same movies. We have personalities, we have strengths. [crosstalk 00:10:31]

Brandon:
I know David… David, you and I like pretty much all the same movies, like Step Brothers, right?

David:
Yeah. I would say probably 50% of the conversations Brandon and I have are solely based on movie quotes.

Brandon:
Movie quotes. Yeah.

David:
That’s like our home language that we developed.

Brandon:
We did become best friends.

David:
Yep.

Ashley:
So much through for activities.

David:
There you go.

Brandon:
Yes.

Ashley:
My husband is going to be so proud of me for that very comment that I just made that I-

David:
Oh, good.

Ashley:
The rest of the interview could be terrible, but he’s going to be so pumped, I remembered the quote.

Brandon:
That’s [crosstalk 00:11:03].

David:
Yes, that’s awesome. So, I want everyone who’s listening to just take comfort in the fact that if it doesn’t feel right, maybe you’re doing the wrong thing, that not all investing works exactly the same. That’s what makes this so cool is investing is a combination of art and science mixed together. The part you’re talking about, Ashley, has to do with the art. Do you have any advice for people that are trying to figure out where would they fit in? What would their best road be?

Ashley:
I actually do some one-on-one coaching. It’s a very simplistic process that I follow over coaching. One is I ask people to start off by defining their perfect day; two is I look at how their business is structured; and three, I look at how those two things match. Then I readjust and align them almost like a chiropractor. You want to make sure that they’re standing correctly. What I’ve realized, every single person that I have coached, their perfect day does not match their business structure at all. It’s so crazy to me that I just make one simple adjustment. It’s easy to see as an outsider when you’re looking in and diagnosing someone else’s situation, “Oh, if you just tweak this, you’re going to be so much happier, and you’re going to be positioned to do so much better.” I make this one little tweak. Then all of a sudden, my students are having massive success. Everyone’s like, “Ashley, you’re such a good coach.” It’s like, “No, I’m not such a good coach. I’m just fine tuning little things that when you’re in the trenches you can’t see yourself.”

Brandon:
Yeah, that’s just so important just to realize that, like, “Yeah, when we’re in it, you can’t see what you’re doing that you don’t see it,” which is why David and I are both big fans of having performance coaches and people that can go in there and just say, “Hey, maybe tweak this a little bit.” I think it’s fascinating that if you look at somebody’s day and then what they’re doing, that does tell you… There’s a famous quote, I don’t remember who said it, but basically like, “Show me your calendar, and I’ll show you your future” is basically the idea. Your future is whatever you have on your calendar.
So many people are saying, “Well, I really want to do this, whether it’s lose weight, improve my marriage, buy a million dollars worth of real estate.” Then you look at their calendar, and it’s full of like, I don’t know, watch Netflix and go to the dog groomer, whatever those things are. Let’s take that a little tangent because I really liked that, and I liked the fact that you’ve had experience working with people. Let’s just say I’m a new investor. Maybe I’ve bought a couple of properties here, I bought a duplex here, a couple single families, flipped a couple things, just get my feet wet, I’m feeling pretty comfortable. But I want to take it to the next level, I want to get to that multifamily. I want to buy a 20-unit, 50-unit, whatever that is. You and I sit down and I say, “Ashley, I’ve been struggling. My ideal day is that I don’t have my day job anymore, and that I really just want to work a few hours a day on cool stuff with the multifamily. But just spend more time with my family. How do I get there?” What kind of advice would you give somebody in those shoes?

Ashley:
Well, I look at where they are, personally, along their journey of life because if you were coming at that situation, and you are in your early 30s, I would have a different set of advice than if you were, say, like in your 70s because a lot of people have a different perspective on whether or not they should be looking for cash flow through wealth building, or wealth preservation or wealth building. That’s really two different concepts.
So, if you're looking to gain financial freedom through cash flow and more time with your family, that structure is going to look a lot different than if you are going out and you're still in wealth building mindset a little bit more aggressively or a little bit more passively. So, it really depends. So, if you are in a situation where you want to increase your cash flow, spend more time with your family, you're probably going to have to put in, in your early 30s, you're probably going to have to put in a little bit more time into your future by doing it now. That way you can coast later.
So, what I think is probably more advantageous for someone in that position is if they use the stacking method, in all honesty. That’s what I think is probably more well suited when you go into a larger multifamily. Unless you’re doing a majority of the work by yourself, there isn’t a lot of cash flow along the way on that general partnership side because a lot of it is paid out through your investors or the people who are investing in on the deal. So, a lot of that gets diluted, and you only see it on the back end. So, if you can’t cover yourself for three to five years, that really isn’t maybe the best strategy for you to pursue. But of course, it’s the sexiest strategy. So people will say, “Oh, I just want to do large multifamily” and not understand that it’s a different beast, and it achieves different goals.

Brandon:
This is so important. I want to talk about this for a minute. So, what you’re basically saying is, and I’m going to put some words in your mouth here, but make sure I’m getting this, there’s lots of ways to make money in real estate, right? There’s tons of ways we’ve written billions of articles now, I’m sure, on the topic, and your new book covers a lot of different women’s strategies in that. But some of them make money now and some of them make money later on.
For example, like, yeah, my Open Door Capital, my mobile home park, empire that I’m trying to build here, or your multifamily empire, you don’t make a ton of daily… I can go spend it on whatever I want profit right now. I don’t take anything out right now because it all is on the back end. But because of my position in my life, where I’m at right now, with my finances, and everything else, I can afford to do that. So, I can take that next thing, where 20 years ago, there’s no way I could have done that, or 15 years ago, there’s no way I would have done that. I needed the cash flow, I needed some kind of income coming in, which is where David and I moved to, “Well, what are you going to do for income. You got to do something. Are you going to be a real estate agent? Are you going to buy just so much… a little duplexes then manage them yourself?” That’s income. What the path is like? Is that what you’re getting at here? Is there’s different ways to do it, depending on where you’re at?

Ashley:
Absolutely. I think, too, that there’s no right or wrong strategy there. Just because you look up to someone and you say, “I want to be where they are someday,” that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be where they are today because your personal situation might not match their personal situation. The example you just gave on having the freedom with Open Door Capital, you’re not charging a lot of upfront fees and living off those upfront fees. The reason why is because you’ve structured your life, you were very disciplined very early on, you use the stacking method, and you positioned yourself to be able to use Open Door Capital as a way for all of your investors to make money along the way, and then your reward is on the back end.
So that is, personally, I always encourage investors to invest in deals like that because then you’re motivated, your interests are along the same lines as your personal investors. But also, too, you have a situation where your interests are able to be achieved because you were disciplined upfront.

Brandon:
Yeah. That’s important to realize. Yeah. I’m not saying that… I mean, there are syndicators out there who make their living off of the fees. They pay the bills. Again, it could work, and there’s nothing wrong with that necessarily. I like the fact that my… Any fee that we do charge, it basically to pay salaries for the team. The idea being like, yeah, I don’t want to make a few thousand dollars right now a month off of fees, I want to make millions later on, and I want to make tens of millions of my investors. That’s where I see that. I think you do as well. So, I want to transition a little bit here and talk about the multifamily you’ve been going into since the last time you were here. Specifically, there’s one that you did recently that I was following along the whole journey with you and your partners on that one. Can we dive in a little bit about the most recent one? We don’t have to go with specific line by line through it, but I guess walk us the story. What did you recently do?

Ashley:
Absolutely. So, we just acquired 150-unit property in Houston, Texas in The Galleria area, which is an A class market. The building is one of the last remaining B class, if not the last remaining B class buildings in that market. It is the only mid-rise apartment in that area. So, it’s a long-winded story, so I’ll try to keep it as short as possible. But ultimately what you need to remember is that we looked for this property for about two years and Jay Scott. He’s one of our partners, too, on this property, in general. He’s one of our partners with Bar Down Investments, excuse me.
He, him, myself, my husband, and we have a few other partners, have been looking for two years. We identify which market we wanted to be into. We looked at Houston, we love Houston. We decided Houston’s a good fit for what we were looking for, and we started diving in, meeting with the brokers, networking. Ultimately, it landed us this deal. Now, we have looked at over 200 deals to get to this deal. So, to try to put that in terms of your converting ratios, that is not what it looks like on the single family side, where I can get a house for every seven offers I make.
So, on the multifamily side, we made countless offers. Ultimately, we landed on this property. We had it under contract pre-COVID. It went on hold due to actually lending because a lot of lenders were on hold. They didn’t know how they were going to lend, what the requirements were going to look like, et cetera. Then we were able to put it back under contract. Then, it fell out of contract, which is a crazy story, and then we got it back under contract, a third time. Then, we finally closed on it, September 16th. So, we have had this property under contract since February to put it in perspective.

Brandon:
Wow. That is a marathon. So, what kind of lessons did you learn in putting this whole thing together? I mean, obviously, two years looking for something big, and you finally found something. What did you learn about the process?

Ashley:
The first lesson I learned is right before we looked at this property, we tweaked how we were underwriting properties. So, we analyzed our yields. We looked at how many properties we were doing a first pass? How many properties we were doing a full detailed analysis? How many properties we gave a verbal offer to a broker, and how many offers that led to us writing up the offer? When we analyzed our funnel, so to speak, and we made a few tweaks, we actually increased the percentage of verbal offers to actual write-up offers, and strengthened our offering process. That's the first lesson we learned.
The second lesson we learned is when we got the property under… So, in multifamily, it’s a two-stage process. You first get it under what’s called letter of intent. Then after letter of intent or LOI, you get it under a purchase and sale agreement. So, during the letter of intent because multifamily properties are so complicated to purchase, and they take a long time to structure the actual purchase and sale agreement, you were first under a letter of intent to purchase, which means there’s an intent to purchase the property. It’s non-binding. During that process, while we were under a letter of intent, one of the reasons that it fell out of the contract is because letter of intents are non-binding, and they continue to market the property and got it under contract with someone else, even though our letter of intent explicitly stated otherwise, that they couldn’t do it. So, another lesson we learned is to tighten up our letter of intent.

Brandon:
Yeah. Most people in the industry recognize that they’re not legally binding, but industry-wide, we all recognize, if you sign an LOI and we agree to it, we’re moving forward. We’re not going to be a jerk about it, but it does happen. I had one just a couple of weeks ago. We had it under LOI, like everybody was good. We were all good, and then they went, got a better offer, dumped us. It’s like, “That sucks,” but there’s nothing you can do about it at that point. It’s not a legally binding offer. That’s how the game is played, I guess.

David:
Well, this is a really good… We should dig into this a little bit because what will often happen, and this happens with real estate agents all the time, is we write an offer on your house at 750, and then you take that offer to someone else who wrote it at 720. They write it, “We’ll go 775 if you have 750.” So, it’s a tricky scenario, where sometimes when you just go out there and say, “Hey, I wrote an offer, I did my job,” that can work against you in times, especially right now, where there’s a lot of competition.
So, you mentioned that you guys are making some tweaks in your system. I’d love if you could share some of the things that you started off doing, what you learned, and then how you’ve tweaked so that the listeners can get an idea for how this process works, and how it evolves to become successful.

Ashley:
With the final process, what we tweaked is we were spending too much time on deals that didn’t fit our criteria. So, we tightened up our criteria to a T. As soon as I get an email, it takes me now 15 seconds to say, “Delete, pile, or I’m going to send a follow-up email,” as opposed to me looking at the property and saying, “Oh, maybe we can work with this, and see how the numbers were.” So, eventually, we ended up canning the deal.

Brandon:
That is so good because it’s almost counterintuitive. You think I’m looking for a deal. So, I want to look for everything. But the truth is, when you look for everything, you just focus on nothing, and you are less good at underwriting all those big things. This applies, by the way, just if you’re trying to buy your first property or your hundredth property or a 500-unit versus a duplex down the street. By tightening up your criteria and getting really good at one specific thing, it makes you a lot better.
That said, how do you avoid, especially if you’re new, if you’re listening to this right now and going, “Well, I’m just trying to buy that duplex. Can I still look at a triplex?” What would you say to somebody who’s new in terms of how narrow should that criteria be when you’re first getting started?

Ashley:
When you first get started I would say be as disciplined as possible and stay on the duplex. When you’re further along, I would say, duplex, triplex, quad, to me, it’s kind of all the same. But when you’re first getting started, if you really want to focus and be that detail focused on it, not only does it help you to stay discipline, and then just have everything else pass you by, so you don’t get distracted, but it also, too, tells everyone who’s bird dogging for you or brokering, looking for you that, “Oh, this fits Ashley’s criteria to a T. I know she’s going to want this property.” So, they don’t think of anyone else to send the deal to. They only think of me. That’s another perk by being super focused.

Brandon:
That is so good. Yeah.

David:
Great point. I think a lot of people underestimate what I call, in the book I’m writing for real estate agents, I’m referring to it as basically like owning the mind share in somebody’s head. So, when somebody thinks mobile home parks, they think Brandon. When somebody thinks triplex, who do they think of? You’re making such a good point, Ashley, if you want people to get deals, you’ve got to plant seeds in their brain, so that they think of you when that deal comes along. So, that would be a question that everyone should ask themselves is, when someone hears your name, what does that make them think of?

Ashley:
So, when someone hears my name or at least what I’m going to brokers and pitching to them is I’m not turned off by construction. I grew up in construction. So unlike other multifamily operators, who might be turned off by mold remediation, stucco remediation, vacancy, all of these different issues, a new roof, new mechanicals, I’m not turned off by those things because at the end of the day, it always translates to a number. I am comfortable with tackling that project. I’m comfortable with floods, fires, I mean, you name it, I’m comfortable with it. So that’s something that I’ve spent a lot of time going down to Houston, networking with brokers and making sure… I think because I’m a woman, it’s very memorable, too, because, first of all, there’s not a lot of women in multifamily space. But I don’t know any other woman who’s in construction management and multifamily, so I use that to my advantage.

Brandon:
That’s so good. I want to talk about the women in investing thing in just a second. I know you wrote a book on it. But right before we get there, I want to point out, see, if you were to go to an average broker, and let’s say an average… even multifamily broker or even, let’s say, a real estate agent on a residential side, and you were to say, “Yeah, what I’m looking for really is a super cheap property that doesn’t need really hardly any work whatsoever. I’m just looking for something I can just put a little bit of paint on it, and it’s going to be worth a ton of money afterwards.” They’re going to just be like “Okay, so is everybody else.”
So, what I love what you did is you’re like, “I found something difficult.” You found something hard that most people don’t like and you chose to niche into that, which was the thing that required more rehab. So, in other words, you became good at a difficult task or a difficult aspect of investing. If you’re trying to compete now… As I build Open Door Capital, I have a pretty big reach to be able to find deals. We’ve gone after the nicer, nicer properties because I can compete with the bigger guys a little bit better. But if you’re just getting started, and you’re competing against me and my team, this sounds arrogant, right, but you’re going to lose. I’m going to beat you out because I’m better at financing, a bigger team. Most likely, I’m going to beat you nine times out of 10.
However, if you were to go after mobile home parks, with lagoons, I hate lagoons. I didn't touch lagoons on mobile. I won't even look at it. I'm not saying you can't get good at it, but that's not my expertise. So in other words, you take it up a notch and you go one harder than what an easy guy like me is looking for. You're going to dominate nine times out of 10 on me because now you're looking for something difficult. The same thing is true in a residential market. You're trying to find that duplex very… I'm looking for duplexes that are in flood zones. I'll take on a flood zone, let's say, because most people won't. So, find that thing that's difficult and make that your thing when you're getting started later on, once you get good and you build your team, and you get your systems down. Now, you can get into more broad things. David, what do you think?

David:
Yeah. What Ashley is doing is she’s combining being very crystal clear on our criteria with I’m solving someone else’s problem. The marriage of those two things is what gets you the deal. Imagine an investor who says, “Everyone’s saying right now there’s no deals out there.” But imagine if you were the person that was known as, “I will buy properties that have tenants that need to be evicted.” No one wants to touch that. If everyone thought of you when that came up, all these deals will be flying your way. You’d get good at making relationships with lawyers, learning the law, figuring out how to read people, when did you cash for keys and when to go through an eviction. I think that’s one of the reasons actually that you’ve scaled so rapidly and so successfully is you have an inherent understanding that this is not supposed to be easy. It’s okay if it’s hard. In fact I target what’s hard, and I use what I have to my advantage. I think that it’s brilliant.

Ashley:
I actually did the same thing on my single family. When we first started out in single family, we noticed that we were not getting houses left and right. We couldn’t figure out why. So I partnered with my father on the single family side. One thing my father always wanted to be known for is good quality work. Good quality work comes at a cost. In order for us to put our name and our brand behind the flips we were doing at the price point we were doing it at, we had to change our strategy. So, how do we change our strategy? We went after historic homes that needed full gut rehabs. Those houses were not houses that flippers typically went after because the cost of capital was too high for them, and the risk to go into a full got rehab, to have that much capital out and expose you’re open to market shifts.
So, in the single family side, we were successful because we did that. On the multifamily side, we’re mirroring the same kind of concept, going after some difficult properties in great areas, and hopefully, becoming known within the industry because we are so focused on operations and construction management that we stand out. In that way, brokers think of us or sellers think of us when they’re in need.

Brandon:
So good.

David:
So good. All right. Before you move on, Brandon, let me ask you, what problem would you say that your companies are good at solving?

Brandon:
Infill. That we went after. We want mobile home parks that are 30, 40% empty. We purposely go after them because we like that [inaudible 00:30:52]and Maui. What we do for flipping, we want higher-end stuff because they’re hard. How do you go finance a $1.5 million house? That’s tough. 90% of people can’t do that. So that’s the problem we want to solve is the higher-end stuff. We’ve done some lower-end condos too, but, yeah. What about you?

David:
An infill would be vacancy, basically.

Brandon:
Infill, yeah, basically, in a mobile home park. Infill means you’re 60% occupied, which means 40% of your units are empty. We can buy a home and move it in and sell it.

David:
Your competition is probably wealthy people that just want to throw their money and get a return and not do work. So, when they see vacancy, they go, “Oh, that’s not what I want. There’s no cash flow there.” I love it.

Brandon:
Yeah. If you're below 80%, you can't get good loans on it. The loans are terrible when you get below 80% occupancy on a mobile home park or an apartment. So-

David:
So, you’re eliminating all the finance options, just like now you have to go with cash buyers.

Brandon:
Yeah. Now, you're with cash buyers or some weird local community banks that have super high interest rates. We just baked that all into our model. We got good at that specific thing.

David:
That’s so good.

Brandon:
Yeah. [crosstalk 00:31:50]

David:
I talked about that in the BRRR book, when you go for properties that won’t qualify for financing, you’re eliminating 80 to 90% maybe more of the competition.

Brandon:
Yeah, exactly, yep.

David:
You’re doing the same strategy there. I think what I do in our business is that I target the clients who are buying real estate from a financial perspective, not the person who says, “I just want someone who’s going to find me the perfect kitchen and a yard, where I can play ball with my son.” Of course, we work with those people, but I look for the investors that are frustrated that says, “I want a house hack, and I need someone who knows how rehabs work or they run the numbers, or they can find me a house that would work for house hacking,” which makes it more difficult, but that’s where the opportunity is.
This is probably some of the best advice we’ve ever given. The more we talked about this, Ashley, I think that you have seriously found like this vein of gold that I just want everyone to think about, what are you good at, what problem can you solve, and then apply that to the opportunity that’s out there.

Ashley:
I always say that, too, for everyone who asked me, how do I get involved in multifamily and large multifamily? I say to them, “Well, everyone’s good at something.” So, let’s say, for example, you’re good at social media. Well, you find a really good operator, owner, or principal of multifamily and you say, “Hey, let me run your multifamily social media accounts. Let me do your Instagram, your Facebook, et cetera. In exchange, can you teach me about multifamily.” You can really leverage your skillset, whatever that is, whether it’s marketing, accounting. Really, any skillset, and you can utilize it as the key to unlock the door to these partnerships. That’s what multifamily is. I’m sure, you know what mobile home parks entails, too, because you guys have some large teams on that scale as well. But ultimately, if you can leverage or if you know your genius, and you leverage your genius, you can go very far.

Brandon:
Yeah. So good. Drops the mic, I love it. All right. Let’s talk about the book, let’s talk about the book. So, you wrote and compiled, I guess, because there’s lots of writers in the thing. Tell us a little bit about the book, what’s it called, what’s it about, and why is it so important right now for this book to be out there.

Ashley:
The book is titled The Only Woman in the Room: Knowledge and Inspiration from 20 Women Real Estate Investors. I actually came up with the idea at Dave Van Horn’s Mid Atlantic Summit when we were seated together, all the women at a lunch, Liz Faircloth and Andresa Guidelli, the co-founders of InvestHER, asked all the women in attendance to have lunch. I sat at the table and I looked around the room, and I said to myself, “How are only 16 women seated at this table of an event of 450 people?”
That really was an aha moment for me. On the drive home that night, I told my husband, I’m going to write a book called The Only Woman in the Room. That was two years ago. It’s taken shape since then. I’ve used it as an opportunity to really tap into women, who have inspired me. I thought they’d be excellent role models for our future generations, for women looking to get into real estate. Ultimately, I think that right now, more than ever, women need inspiration to using real estate as a vehicle for financial freedom.
Women are outnumbering men in unemployment last month. September’s unemployment numbers came in, 1.1 million people added to unemployment, 865,000 of them were women. Women are staying at home, they’re the primary caretakers, they’re giving up their jobs. They’re also the low-hanging fruit, so to speak, because they make 79 cents to $1 for a man. So, it’s easier for women to give up their career for men. Ultimately, we were at… for pre-COVID, I believe the women made up 43% of the unemployment, nationally. Now, women make up 51% of the unemployment nationally.
So, this is being called a she session or a pink collar recession by economists all over the country. They're forecasting that it's setting women's progression back 10 plus years. Real estate has been an excellent vehicle for us to pursue financial freedom. I think women can look at this opportunity right now where they are no longer employed at their previous career and maybe use this as an opportunity to educate themselves about real estate and propel them into a different field in real estate, and get control over their life again.

Brandon:
So good, so good. So, tell us in these stories and in the women that you know and that you work with and you talk with and you consult with, what separates those women? This is a question we can ask later in the famous four, but what’s different about the women who jump in? Why don’t most women jump into real estate? Why are they not… Why was it not 50/50 at that conference? What do you see differently about those who actually jumped into the game?

Ashley:
That is an excellent question because that is what my chapter is about that I wrote about in the book. I have a theory about this. So, if you look historically, we know that women were the primary caretakers. They were not in the workforce. Then if you look back just a few years ago, women entered the workforce, but they entered it in limited capacity. So, what do I mean by that? They only entered it in certain fields. If we all look at the mixture of men to women in stem fields, we see a disproportionate amount of men compared to women.
I think personally that this is the reason why women are not in real estate. Ultimately, I think women are not encouraged to go into mathematics. If we use this as an analogy for a house, mathematics is the foundation. Then because they don’t have a solid foundation in mathematics, they don’t pursue finance, and finance is the walls to the house, the structure. Ultimately, they never pursue investing, which is the roof to the house. So, you can’t pursue investing without structured walls, finance and a foundation of mathematics.
As we continue to encourage women to get into stem fields and encourage them to have proficiency in mathematics and finance, they will naturally go into investing. I think if we spend more time educating the younger generations about the importance of mathematics, science, engineering, technology, we are going to see more women enter this space as we’re seeing firsthand right now.

Brandon:
Yeah. So good. Do you think the book is something that like… I mean, mostly men… Again, probably 75, 80% of people listen to this podcast right now are males. Is this something that we should be getting our wives and saying “Hey, here’s a book that would help you understand what we’re doing?” Do you see a different purpose for it there? What’s your thoughts on that?

Ashley:
100%. The reason why is that women outlive men six to eight years. During those six to eight years, it costs between 280 to $380,000 for that woman to live during those latter years. That financial burden is shared by all. It’s not shared by just women. It’s shared by men, too. Most of the time, it’s family members. So, ultimately, by having women get into real estate investing, they’re taking more control over their financial freedom.
So, by having your spouse, by having your sister, your mother, these are all opportunities that women can use. For example, self-directed IRAs to diversify their retirement strategies. I mean as simplistic as that sounds, that is not happening. Disproportionately, when I speak to women versus men, women don’t even know what a self-directed IRA is.

David:
Yeah. Ashley, I want to ask you, in your experience with women in writing this book, what are some of the common objections that you found would come up when you would say, “Why don’t you invest in real estate,” and either they weren’t interested or, or they didn’t take action?

Ashley:
So, when I raised capital for my first multifamily, I thought that I would have a really good chance at reaching out to women because, surprise surprise I’m a woman. I thought I could connect with women. I thought it would be really easy to reach out and say, “This is something that you might be interested in investing in. It diversifies your retirement strategy. It has tax benefits.” We can get into that later, but the point is I thought that I’d be able to connect with them. Every single woman I spoke to said one of two answers, flat out no, or “I need to speak with my husband.” No other woman, no woman, period, asked me questions to dive into it deeper. But when I spoke to men, they either said, “Yes,” “No,” or “Let me think about it and I’ll get back to you.” No single man said to me, “I need to speak to my wife first before I make a decision.”
I think, whether they were needing to speak with their wife or not, that’s an argument for another time. But I think the point is, is that women feel a reliance on their spouse to help them with financial decisions when data has proven that women actually are better at investing than men. Multiple studies across multiple generations, demographics have continued to prove this fact. So, I think the comfort of women getting into investing is not there yet. Unfortunately, and I’m just going to be honest about this, and it’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s realistic, once I started to notice this trend, what do you think I did?
I shifted my outreach to men. I had a greater chance of getting a man to invest than I did a woman, and I had a short time frame in which I needed to raise capital. Ultimately, I had an objective to fulfill. Who do you think got the short end of the stick? All the potential women who could have come into that space because I didn’t have the time to educate women and bring them along and get them comfortable with investing. I needed to raise money for an opportunity to invest. So, it perpetuates the problem. So, I’m guilty of that, too.
But if we all don’t take just baby steps along the way, bringing women to the table, whether it is your sister, your friend, co-worker, mother, it doesn’t matter. If we don’t all take this and bear this burden or this opportunity, instead of looking at it as a burden, but an opportunity to bring women to the table, then I think we’re going to continue to see this problem perpetuate for years to come.

David:
Do you have any advice for people listening when it comes to how they can share information about this the right way to present it?

Ashley:
I think the right way to present anything is never to force feed someone something. You have to get them comfortable with the idea. So, by inviting them to a free event, making sure there’s no charge, they don’t feel like this is a pyramid club or it’s a get rich quick scheme. You really want to show that you’re truly invested in this person’s well being, their financial freedom and their future, and really speak to it a little bit at a time because it is overwhelming to digest everything. I’ve been in investing for over 10 years, and I’m still learning something new every single day.
So, to think that someone new to the table is going to be able to comprehend what someone like I know or has learned over the past 10 years is just ridiculous. So, just like almost spoon feeding a little bit of the time, making it fun and enjoyable. “Hey, I’m going to this event tonight. Do you want to join me? It’s about renovating houses, flipping houses. There’s going to be someone who talks about design and trends. So that might be interesting. I thought you might want to join me with this, and we can grab dinner and a drink together, or whatever.” Something to make it a little bit enjoyable. So, dip your toes in the water philosophy.

Brandon:
Yeah. It makes sense. Well, where can they get the book? Where do they it, from Amazon and others?

Ashley:
Yeah. So, you can get it on Amazon. You can also get it on the realestateinvestor.com, but either of those two sources.

Brandon:
Very cool. All right. Well, before we get out of here, I wanted to have one more topic, make sure we cover it today. That is you’ve transitioned from doing the short-term rentals. You’ve done flips, you’ve done some smaller stuff, and then you went into the multifamily. I’m wondering, do you just have any suggestions. What are a couple tips for people who are at the same point that you were doing smaller stuff and saying, “I want to go big, I want to go multifamily. What do I do?” What would you tell somebody?

Ashley:
Yeah. So, I actually have a tip sheet that I can give.

Brandon:
Oh, cool.

Ashley:
That tip sheet walks through the steps that I personally use to get into large multifamily, but it really covers building your team, selecting a market, and then really fine tuning what type of asset you’re looking for, what we’ve spoke, about earlier. If you really focused on those three major points, it’s pretty easy to make the transition. So, whether or not you’re building your team from the ground up or joining another team, it doesn’t really matter. The point is that you really need to focus on the team component, the market. Obviously, you can make money in any market, but knowing why you’re in a particular market helps you with underwriting a property to understand what provisions you need to put in place. Then last, but not least, being so detail focused on the property that you want to seek. The more that you laser into it, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You’ll find that property if you know exactly what you’re looking for.

Brandon:
That’s so good. Yeah. If you could put together like a worksheet checklist, whatever those things are, we’ll just throw at the show notes. Is that cool?

Ashley:
Absolutely. No problem. I’d love to.

Brandon:
All right. Yeah. We’ll put those, you guys, by the way. If you want to go download that, I would encourage you to because it’s going to be awesome. I can’t wait to actually save myself, biggerpockets.com/show, what’s this, 412. So biggerpockets.com/show412. We’ll put it right there in the show notes in a big section, so you can find it and download it there. Yeah, I think people will really appreciate that. So, thank you.
All right. Well, with that said, let’s move on to the last segment of our show. It’s time for our-

Speaker 5:
Famous Four.

Brandon:
All right. This is the part of the show where we ask the same four questions every week to every guest. But before we get to the Famous four, let’s hear from the BiggerPockets Podcast Network to see what’s going on, on the other BiggerPockets shows.

Felipe:
Hey, guys. It’s Felipe from the Real Estate Rookie show. Last Wednesday, we had Ryan Shaw talked about student housing, how he has a full-time job, and how he empowers his rent by the room strategy to his tenants, so that they can take control. It’s an awesome show. Make sure you go back and listen.

Brandon:
All right. With that said, let’s get to the Famous Four. There’s the same four questions every guest, every week. So, I know, Ashley, we threw them at you a couple years ago when you’re on the show, but we’re going to do it again. Maybe, it’s changed. So number one, other than your own now, what is your current favorite real estate-related book?

Ashley:
Current favorite real estate related book is, that’s a good question. I would have to say, I really like Brian Burke’s multifamily book.

Brandon:
Yeah. The-

David:
Hands-Off and [crosstalk 00:46:59].

Ashley:
Hands-Off. Yes.

Brandon:
Hands-Off real estate investment, I have it here somewhere. Yeah, it was fantastic, really good.

Ashley:
Fantastic. Brian Burke’s incredible.

David:
What about it did you like?

Ashley:
I just like the fact that a lot of multifamily books are very high level, very glossed over. Brian, he is a true expert in the industry. He really hones in on the specifics on what someone should really be looking for and calls it out, so to speak, because I think there’s a lot in the multifamily space that’s maybe not necessarily always on the up and up. So, he truly has created this book to benefit all of the investors that really want a passive investment through knowledge and education, as opposed to just high-level, easy-to-remember-type things about multifamily.

David:
That’s a great synopsis. It’s kind of Brian’s personality, too. He’s like that. He’s not surface-level fluffy. He’s a genuine person, really good guy. He’s probably one of my favorite people that I’ve ever met through BiggerPockets. Awesome dude. So, [crosstalk 00:48:06].

Ashley:
He’s incredible.

David:
What about your favorite business book?

Ashley:
I have a lot of great business books, but one that I’m reading for a second time is Traction. So, I really liked that book a lot. I could go on and on about a lot of different books that I’ve really enjoyed reading. Yeah. So, I’ll go with Traction for now.

Brandon:
Yeah. We have traction-like consultant, like an EOS consultant coming into our business here in a couple of weeks. We’re doing a completely… Yeah, really focusing in on getting our entire systems and everything on traction perfectly. So, I’m actually super excited about that, which is super nerdy to say, but I like-

Ashley:
No. I think it makes sense to that. I’m so laser focused that, that would be my favorite books. It always keeps me not distracted. I think it’s a good book for someone to stay hyper focused.

Brandon:
Yeah. [crosstalk 00:48:58]

David:
That book is coming up a lot. A lot of people are mentioning it. It seems like every single week, someone talks about Traction. That’s funny. Okay. So, what about some of your hobbies?

Ashley:
I obviously enjoy spending time with my family and my kids, and then I compete with my horse jumping. So, I-

Brandon:
Jumping.

David:
Which one of you jumps higher? You or the horse when you’re competing?

Ashley:
I do. I do only because sometimes he unseats me. So, fun fact, I don’t know if you guys know this or not, but I actually won the nation a few years back.

Brandon:
Really? I did not know that.

Ashley:
Yeah. In jumping. So, I have a new horse now. My goal next year is to win the nation with him. So right now, hopefully, I’ll finish out the year winning my region with him. But next year, I move up to a higher division.

Brandon:
That’s cool. What’s the horse’s name?

Ashley:
His name is Wow! with an exclamation mark at the end.

Brandon:
I love it. I want to name my kid, Wow. I always like to use the joke that I want to name my kid with an exclamation mark in their name because nobody does that, but they should. My kids name is Wilder. I consider him as wilder.

Ashley:
Yeah. When they announced him, they’re like, “Entering the ring now is Wow!” Everything by Ashley Wilson scares me every time.

Brandon:
Next time, you got to do a question mark in their name. Like the question mark, “Next in the competition is Wow?” Every time. “Yeah, this is my daughter. My daughter Julie?” We’re totally [inaudible 00:50:33]about your name. [inaudible 00:50:34]

David:
That would be so horrible for the kid. Every time they hear their name, someone’s not sure if that’s actually their name. What an identity crisis in the making. “Who am I? What’s going on?”

Brandon:
I thought it’d be better if it would be like a semi colon because there’s always something more. It’s like-

David:
Something like a cliffhanger.

Brandon:
Yeah. “This is my son, Wilder?” Also good.

Ashley:
Or, and then.

Brandon:
Yeah, there we go. I like it.

Ashley:
And then.

Brandon:
And then, okay all right. We are so off track here. Also, you had a tree come through your house today, right? That was a surprise.

Ashley:
Yeah. I don’t know if you just heard it, but it just fell like that.

Brandon:
No, but [crosstalk 00:51:19]. Oh, man. Is there a tornado or something? What’s going on?

Ashley:
No, nothing. It just-

Brandon:
It just fell.

Ashley:
… fell. It crashed through two stories. Part of the branch was hanging. While you guys were asking the question, I didn’t know if you could hear it because it just shook the entire house.

Brandon:
No. I didn’t hear it, but everyone’s safe though, I’m going to assume, otherwise, you’d not be here.

Ashley:
I don’t see anyone running around. It looks like there’s a lot of people outside. So I’m hoping everyone’s okay.

Brandon:
All right. We’ll get you out of here in a second. I’ll end this with my last question. What do you think separates successful real estate investors from those who give up, fail or never get started?

Ashley:
Determination. Last time I had said that it was love, that they had to be passionate and love what they do. But I think the more determined you are, your why. If you have a really strong why that really drives you, that is the difference because people are more willing to take risks when they’re very determined. I haven’t met someone who has analysis paralysis that I would describe as determined, has that drive, they’re conflicting. So that’s where I think people set themselves apart.

David:
Awesome.

Brandon:
Yeah.

David:
Okay. For people that want to find out more about you, where can they go, Ashley?

Ashley:
You can find me on Instagram at Badash Investor. You can also find me online at badashinvestor.com. That links to all of my websites. So, you can just go there for simplicity’s sake.

Brandon:
Badash, that’s clever. I like that.

David:
Pretty bad ash.

Ashley:
Badash.

Brandon:
Yeah. I like that.

Ashley:
Guess who helps me come up with that name, by the way?

Brandon:
Who’s that?

Ashley:
Investor Girl Britt.

Brandon:
Of course, she did. Of course, she did.

Ashley:
The social media queen.

Brandon:
Yeah. We were racing to 100,000, and I passed her up. This is how serious I take competition. I have my VA in the Philippines, who’s awesome, MJ. He’s like working on… Nothing but trying to beat Investor Girl Britt to 200,000 now. We were tracking every single week, like how many she’s getting, how many I’m getting. We are very serious about this. Anyway, I passed her up and I was like, “Oh, it’s over. I’m totally going to win this.” All of a sudden, she just took off and now it’s just killing me. So, anyway, everybody go unfollow Investor Girl Britt right now and come follow me on-

David:
[crosstalk 00:53:35]

Ashley:
Her followers-

David:
As a public service announcement, I want to say somebody just got followed by Investor Girl Gritt. So, not every single page that you see is really us. I’ve got like six people pretending to be me, I’m sure. Brandon and Ashley have the same thing. So, don’t go follow Investor Girl Gritt. Make sure that the page that you’re following is the right person.

Brandon:
That’s really funny. That’s funny. Anyway, I love your answer though. Great answer. I’ll tell that to them. Yeah, determination is huge. So Badash Investor, thank you for joining us today.

Ashley:
Thank you so much for having me as always. It’s always fun spending time with you guys.

Brandon:
Thank you.

David:
Pleasure is ours. You brought a ton of value. This was a really good show.

Ashley:
Thank you.

David:
With that being said, this is David Greene for Brandon-

Brandon:
Wait. You forgot to ask her where… No, we already did. Never mind, never mind. Never mind. Ignore me. Say it again, whatever. Ignore me. I thought you didn’t ask her where people can connect with her at, but you did. That’s where Badash started from.

David:
Her answer was so smooth, that it was just incorporated right into the conversation.

Brandon:
Yep. I didn’t do it.

David:
We didn’t notice it, but I don’t mind at all. Where were we? Yeah, we’re getting out of here because she’s got to go find out who that tree fell on. This is David Greene for Brandon, wow, Turner, signing off.

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In This Episode We Cover:

  • How Ashley made the jump from flipping and rental houses to large multifamily investing
  • Her #1 tip for anyone who wants to get into multifamily
  • How she acquired a 150-unit apartment building in Houston
  • What a “Letter of Intent” (LOI) is
  • Looking at 200 deals just to buy one (!)
  • Using “the stack” method vs. multifamily syndication
  • How she became an expert in construction management
  • Why she wrote a book about being “the only woman in the room”
  • Why it’s worth visualizing your perfect day when you start building your business
  • And SO much more!

Links from the Show

Books Mentioned in this Show:

Connect with Ashley:

Real strategies that work for real people seeking to build wealth through real estate investments. Co-hosted by Brandon Turner and David Greene, this podcast provides actionable advice from investo...
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    Christopher Aguilera Investor from Santa Ana, CA
    Replied 22 days ago
    Thank you!
    Julie Marquez Investor from Seattle, WA
    Replied 22 days ago
    What a smart lady! I am also in construction management, but not large multifamily yet!