Coronavirus Updates

3 Key Ways to Become a Better Real Estate Investor While Quarantined

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Nearly a year ago, for health reasons, I moved my family from Metro Atlanta (population 6 million) to Clovis, New Mexico (population 39,000). I’ve been an active, full-time real estate investor since 1999 and am very grateful to be able to continue to earn income as an investor while living in New Mexico.

I do all my business remotely. In the last few months, I’ve worked deals involving a triplex in South Carolina, a ranch in Texas, and a beautiful mansion in Georgia. In all my time since arriving here, I have never once worked a single deal involving a property here in Clovis.

There’s no airport here—not even a Costco. Albuquerque, the “big city,” is a four-hour drive away. I’m two whole time zones away from my colleagues in Atlanta.

So, feeling isolated from the larger world is not an entirely new thing for me.

The recent threat of COVID-19 has provided an opportunity to double down on the very strategies that have already been working exceptionally well for me. I believe they can help you become a better investor, as well.

How to Become a Better Investor While Quarantined

How, you say? Here are three essential ways:

  1. Grow your network
  2. Expand your deal geography
  3. Unleash your creativity

No doubt, you’ve seen these recommendations before. So, rather than simply telling you how powerful they are, I want to show exactly how I put these three principles into action.

Below I’ve captured some of the highlights of my time spent sheltered in place.

real estate investor looking at data on computer

Related: Coronavirus & Real Estate: Top 14 Questions From the BiggerPockets Forums—Answered

Saturday, March 21, 2020

11:35 a.m.: I’m currently on a Zoom conference call with real estate investors from around the world, all seeking creative ideas for thriving in a COVID-19 (and post-COVID-19) world.

The issue on the table right now is getting tenants to pay rent when they can’t go to work and earn money and can’t be evicted during the crisis. Someone has suggested finding ways to help tenants earn money by allowing them to offer digital services, such as graphic design, video editing, bookkeeping, and copywriting.

Perhaps a deal can be struck with an online temp agency, such that a portion of the income earned by the tenants we refer gets applied to rent.

Monday, March 23, 2020

11:30 a.m.: I just got off the phone with the owner of a general contracting company in Atlanta who’s looking to get into real estate investing. He’d responded to a BiggerPockets Forum post I made last week.

We connected via direct message (DM) and exchanged phone numbers. On the call, I shared my perspective on the magic of structuring seller financing deals.

I suggested he brush up on creative financing techniques using the BiggerPockets search feature. We agree to talk again in a week or so.

1:15 p.m.: Spoke to a short-term rental (STR) operator in St. Louis with two Airbnbs. She’s seen bookings fall off a cliff in the past two weeks—I know she’s not alone.

I’ll set aside time in the coming days to research the St. Louis market to see what opportunities might present themselves.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

10:00 a.m.: I spoke with a new investor recently who relocated from Los Angeles to Atlanta and is looking for solid contacts and resources. She’d posted on the BiggerPockets Forum asking for referrals for great FHA lenders in Atlanta.

During our conversation, I put her in touch with my superstar real estate broker and my million-dollar mortgage banker to help her get started. We’ll reconnect soon to see how else we might be able to help each other.

12:00 p.m.: Sent the following email with the subject line “Are You Safe?” to all our constituents who make payments to us, including tenants, investors, and owner-financed owners:

Hi XXXXX,

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During this time of uncertainty, I wanted to check in on you and your family. Are you OK? Do you have everything you need? Are you being safe?

Now is not the time to panic. Please be watchful and keep your family safe. Reach out to us to talk if you need someone to listen. We are here to help.

Please let me know.

-Mitch

2:15 p.m.: I read a post on the BiggerPockets Forum from a New York investor looking for a great Atlanta insurance broker. I then sent him a colleague request containing the name and phone number of the excellent State Farm office we’ve worked with for 20 years.

While I’ll make zero dollars in referral fees from this, it feels satisfying to connect good people and create value, especially these days.

4:20 p.m.: Had a conversation with a colleague out of Las Vegas. She shared that the Strip is dark for the first time probably ever.

Now is a perfect time to hop on BiggerPockets to seek out local investors to better understand where the Vegas market might be heading.

online-partner

Related: Coronavirus Mortgage Relief Programs for Real Estate Investors

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

10:27 a.m.: Sent out an email inviting all the Georgia-based, out-of-state, and overseas investors I serve to the third “COVID-19 Strategies” Zoom call set for later today.

A good friend of mine is hosting, and so far some creative and valuable ideas have emerged from previous calls. I also created an event notification on BiggerPockets.

1:23 p.m.: Just received an emergency alert on my cell phone instructing all New Mexico residents to remain at home and requiring that “all non-essential businesses immediately must cease in-person operations.”

2:00 p.m.: Just hopped on the third “COVID-19 Strategies” Zoom call. It was insanely creative! Questions we discussed included:

  1. Why is now the perfect time to approach owners of rental properties with owner financing offers?
  2. How can lease options be used as an acquisition strategy, as well as a disposition strategy?
  3. What are some out-of-the box ideas for advocating on behalf of landlords and tenants with regard to home loans, car loans, credit cards, etc.?

8:46 p.m.: I sent an email to the CEO of a nationally known virtual staffing and recruiting firm that we had worked with previously.

I’m looking to explore their interest in offering qualified tenants around the country the opportunity to create income on the side, an idea I got from the Zoom call on March 21. We’ll see how things develop!

Tomorrow and Beyond

I believe I’m making huge progress on growing my business and better serving the tenants, buyers, investors, private lenders, and other stakeholders in my world, and the COVID-19 crisis hasn’t stopped me from doing any of this.

It’s also worth pointing out that none of these actions I took above required one single penny in extra costs, which means there’s no excuse not to put these tools to work in your life right now.

This scary episode will eventually end, and when it does, you will either be closer to your goals or you won’t.

The choice, as always, is yours—use your time wisely!

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How are you adapting your real estate business during the COVID-19 crisis?

Join the conversation in the comments below.

Mitch Messer is a real estate acquisitions expert, who partners with out-of-state and overseas investors to build high-performance rental portfolios. He began real estate investing in 1999, and by ...
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    Dave Rav from Summerville, SC
    Replied 10 months ago
    Good post. I honor the way you're connecting folks in your network. Being matchmaker of sorts l, arranging meetings for these folks at no fee is really awesome! With respect to employment - you hear Amazon is hiring 100k employees?!?
    Mitch Messer Rental Property Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied 10 months ago
    Hey Dave, thanks for reading and for the encouraging comment! No, I missed that Amazon announcement, but that is HUGE! Even in the midst of chaos and loss, there will be enormous opportunities for those willing to take the lead.
    Brenden Mitchum Rental Property Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied 10 months ago
    Great post, Mitch! I could not agree more that now is as good a time as any to expand that network. It's one thing to decide to put buying and selling on hold until things settle down a bit, but the last thing any investor should be doing right now is sitting around twiddling their thumbs. In fact, anyone who has decided to wait until the dust settles should have a ton more free time to devote to other tasks, such as building their network. There is always work to be done, always connections to be made and always knowledge to be gained!
    Mitch Messer Rental Property Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied 10 months ago
    Thanks, Brenden! Yes, the time for bold action is NOW, because the need for leadership is never greater than during a crisis. And, all leadership ALWAYS begins with self-leadership!
    TJ Lewis
    Replied 10 months ago
    Great post Mitch! Any advice for someone like myself who just recently became interested in real estate investing? I have zero contacts but would love to get connected somehow. Are there any open zoom meetings that someone like myself could join?
    Mitch Messer Rental Property Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Hey TJ, thank you reading! Yes, now that you are here on BiggerPockets, my best advice is to make strategic use of the Forums to connect with other investors doing the kinds of deals you aspire to do. Also, just in the past two days I've seen a bunch of open Zoom calls on a variety of interesting topics!
    Christopher Stacy Rental Property Investor from Wiesbaden Germany
    Replied 10 months ago
    Excellent post Mitch. I would be extra cautious when using Zoom however. Lot of bad press these days with them getting hacked, meetings getting defaced, and "Zoombombing." Even the FBI is involved so I would plan to have a backup platform just in case.
    Mitch Messer Rental Property Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Thank you, Christopher! Yes, Zoom wasn't quite ready for the surge in users, but I'm certain they'll sort things out quickly. Otherwise, as you say, there are plenty of platforms available as a backup! Even Google has entered the game with their Duo app.
    Kevin Leonce Investor from Atlanta
    Replied 10 months ago
    Fantastic post Mitch! Networking, sharpening up your tools and creativity are key during these times. Will make myself available for your next zoom call. Looking forward to it!
    Mitch Messer Rental Property Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Thanks for reading and leaving me a comment, Kevin! I do appreciate it.
    Sapan Agrawal New to Real Estate from Duluth, GA
    Replied 10 months ago
    Thank you for this post. It's very helpful and provides a very positive perspective on what one can achieve during this time. Especially appreciate the specific examples that you gave on how you used your time.
    Mitch Messer Rental Property Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Glad you found this helpful, Sapan!
    Todd Kruger Flipper/Rehabber from Albuquerque, NM
    Replied 9 months ago
    Welcome to NM! Not many of us on BP here in NM and glad to meet you. I started my Real Estate Investment Company in 2000 here in Abq an have completed nearly 1,200 flips to date. I own 60+ doors as long term rentals and am still aggressively buying flips right now. I do not own anything in Clovis but I do have some large investments in Alamogordo. If you ever come across anything in Clovis, keep me in mind. THANKS! Todd
    Mitch Messer Rental Property Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Thanks for reading and for the welcome, Todd! I had been working a deal in Abq but it went away! Perhaps we can compare notes sometime!
    Darius White New to Real Estate from Detroit, MI
    Replied 9 months ago
    Great Breakdown of how to spend time during this virus. I'm new to real estate investing but my strategy will be looking for a good deal where they may be in the US not just locally, so nice to see it can be done.
    Mitch Messer Rental Property Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Hey Darius, thank you for reading and leaving me an encouraging comment!
    Dani Morillo from Milwaukee, WI
    Replied 9 months ago
    Hi Mitch. Thank you for posting these practical tips in order to make the most of our time during the COVID-19 situation. I just recently joined Bigger Pockets and am currently reading Brandon Turner's "Book on Rental Property Investing". I'm excited for this journey in real estate and would appreciate any tips or books you'd recommend. Thanks again and stay safe during this time!
    Mitch Messer Rental Property Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Dani, welcome to BiggerPockets and thank you for reading my post. Glad to hear it was helpful! You're definitely in the right place!
    Doug Hyman Specialist from Raleigh, NC
    Replied 9 months ago
    Mitch, this is playbook is right on time. Encouraging. I’ve already shared it. Thank you for giving away valuable game for free. Would enjoy to hearing you on a BP podcast. Stay healthy, Doug
    Mitch Messer Rental Property Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Thank you, Doug! I'm glad you found it helpful. I'd love to make my way onto a BP podcast!
    Brandon Taliaferro Real Estate Agent from San Clemente, CA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Thanks for the insight, keep them coming
    Mitch Messer Rental Property Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Thank you, Brandon! I'm already working on the next one...
    Brandon Diaz New to Real Estate from New York, NY
    Replied 9 months ago
    Awesome post Mitch, thanks for the info! Best, Brandon
    Mitch Messer Rental Property Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Brandon, I truly appreciate the read and the comment!
    Amanda Forde Investor from Boston, MA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Thank you. I have been doing a lot of outreach right now and was not sure if it's working. It's good to know it's still a key feature many years into the business.
    Johnny A Stallion
    Replied 9 months ago
    Hello Amanda, Johnny here, investor from Las Vegas, NV. When you say outreach, what type of outreach campaigns have you implemented?
    Mitch Messer Rental Property Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Hi Amanda, and thanks for your comment. Provided your intent is to serve the folks you connect with, ANY outreach you do is going to pay huge dividends! The key is quality, not quantity. It's not about how many people you reach; rather, it's all about whether you can actually help someone overcome an obstacle or get a step closer to their goal.
    Tyler Mundy from Charlotte, NC
    Replied 9 months ago
    I never expected to meet someone from Clovis, NM on here! I grew up in Las Cruces, NM and then lived in Albuquerque (the "big city" lol) before moving to Charlotte, NC last year. I must admit I prefer the southeast. However, I hope you are doing better health-wise now that you are in the southwest!
    Mitch Messer Rental Property Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Hey Tyler, thanks for reading and commenting! Yeah, Clovis is tiny, but it's very friendly! I've certainly lived in less inviting places. For certain, I'm a big fan of the southeast as well, but we came here for my mother-in-law's health needs, so I'm a New Mexican now!
    Aaron Barber Rental Property Investor from Las Cruces, NM
    Replied 9 months ago
    I was stationed in Clovis at Cannon AFB for 5 years. I still have my house in Clovis. I now live in Las Cruces NM. I have bought 1 rental here and plan to buy another one if I can find the right deal.
    Mitch Messer Rental Property Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Hey Aaron, thanks for commenting and for your service! Before COVID-19, I was nearly a fixture at Blackwater Coffee on Llano Estacado. Have you heard we finally got a Starbucks last summer!
    David Butler Flipper/Rehabber from Lake Geneva, WI
    Replied 9 months ago
    Great article Mitch. I love the idea of helping others and looking for opportunities in other areas. I went to college at Eastern in Portales--why have you not invested in Clovis? Is the market still substantially driven by Cannon Air Force base?
    Mitch Messer Rental Property Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Thanks David! At population 39K, the rental market in Clovis is just too small to support the kind of long-term stability and growth I'm seeking. And yes, Cannon AFB is THE major economic driver here, although I know there was talk of a racino in development nearby.
    Chad Surman Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Thanks Mitch for writing this article. Too often ideas similar to these are put into an article without real world examples and it can leave new or inexperienced investors (who arguably need it the most) still feeling overwhelmed. Sure, you need to network, everyone can understand that. But how would one actually go about it without much to offer a potential contact in return, or if you've never broken-the-ice and tried to connect with someone in a new industry? By using real life examples in your article to support your tips for other investors, it takes away the mystery behind the concepts and helps people see how they translate into real world action. Also along those lines, for any new or inexperienced investor looking for more great info, and how to take action, check out Mitch's other blog post titled: "Top 5 Reasons We Pros are TOTALLY Ignoring Your BP Forum Questions". It's written along these lines and great to help you get started with networking the right way.
    Mitch Messer Rental Property Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Chad, thank YOU for reading and taking time to comment. I truly appreciate the feedback AND the plug! I may need to put you on the payroll!
    Dave P. Rental Property Investor from Massachusetts
    Replied 9 months ago
    Mitch, great advice about networking, staying productive and caring about others. Thanks for sharing!
    Mitch Messer Rental Property Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Thanks, Dave! Any suggestions of other topics you'd like to see covered?
    Chris Barreras
    Replied 9 months ago
    Many thanks for your insights. Best of luck to you during these crazy times.....
    Mitch Messer Rental Property Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Thank you, Chris! Hope this helps you ace this latest test!
    Cheryl Branche from Brooklyn, New York
    Replied 9 months ago
    Mitch, your article was informative, encouraging, and useful. Thank you.
    Mitch Messer Rental Property Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Cheryl, I do appreciate YOUR encouraging words, thanks!
    Johnny A Stallion
    Replied 9 months ago
    Thank you Mitch for the great post. It just goes to show you can never sleep in this game. It is always something to do. I love this business, especially when you meet altruistic individuals like yourself. I am hoping that I will reach your level someday. Thanks again.
    Mitch Messer Rental Property Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Hey Johnny, thank you for reading and leaving a comment! I'm with you: I LOVE what this business has done for me in terms of personal growth, professional development, and financial enrichment! As long as you're still busy climbing, it doesn't really matter what level you're on!
    Kesete Thompkins Investor from Pittsburgh, PA
    Replied 9 months ago
    @Mitch Messer, thank you for sharing your experiences as a long distance real estate investor. I agree with you that now is the time to do things better and to improve upon the things that you can control. I am personally holding myself accountable to expanding my network and working on my finances so that I can find a local bank to help me complete a HELOC transaction. I believe that when we come out of this crisis, I should be in a position to take advantage of my current holdings so that I can build my portfolio to ultimately live a similar life to yours. Thank you for continuing to work hard and show that we still have control of our futures. Take care.
    Mitch Messer Rental Property Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Kesete, thank you for reading and for your comments! Yes, I'm here on BiggerPockets every day because this is *how* I've expanded my network to do more and better deals. It's all right here!
    Gina Nicolas
    Replied 9 months ago
    I am so grateful to be part of BiggerPockets community because of people like you, I am a new investor and many times I feel so overwhelmed but everything I read about other investors experiences and success , it gives me hope, consistency and perseverance are keys to success. Thank you for sharing
    Mitch Messer Rental Property Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Thank you, Gina! Yes, I can clearly remember being new and 100% overwhelmed, and I can tell you the solution is to find a supportive band of fellow travelers who can encourage and inspire you to take BOLD action. Sounds like BiggerPockets to me!
    Kirsten Marino Rental Property Investor from Albuquerque, NM
    Replied 9 months ago
    Great post! Thanks for encouraging us to do more during this time.
    Mitch Messer Rental Property Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Thank YOU for the encouragement, Kristen!
    Troy Thompson from Powder Springs, GA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Mitch, more than anything I appreciate your commitment to being a "value" to your community. You seem to truly get that we are in the business of people! As an Atlanta resident and investor, I will be sending you a PM to connect and hopefully we can share some ideas/strategies in the near term! -Troy
    Mitch Messer Rental Property Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Troy, thanks for reading and for your kind comment! Yes, let's definitely connect and see how we can work together!
    Sam K. Rental Property Investor from New York, NY
    Replied 9 months ago
    Thank you for an Outstanding post!!!!!!
    Mitch Messer Rental Property Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Sam, thank you for reading and for the encouraging words!
    Priscilla Swantner Flipper/Rehabber from Los Angeles CA and Clovis, NM
    Replied 9 months ago
    Thank you, Mitch, for sharing your process. The advice provide is practical and actionable that everyone can execute when working through the current climate.
    Mitch Messer Rental Property Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Thank you, Priscilla! We're ALL figuring out how this Brand New World works, so applying a little hustle can't be a bad thing!
    Rock Stevens Investor from Houston, TX
    Replied 9 months ago
    Thank you for an inspiring post laid out in a creative format to engage others. It is a daily focus of mine on how to improve during the quarantine and how to maximize the time opportunity. As others contract, you must expand. While most are not being productive, coming up with a variety of ways to increase your production, expand your network, build relationships, establish trust, and publish content will lead a successful launchpad once we come out of this quarantine!
    Mitch Messer Rental Property Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Rock, I appreciate your comments: I couldn't have said it better myself!
    Casey Rolland Investor from Port Townsend, WA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Hi Mitch, I truly believe what goes around comes around whether they are good, bad or neutral. I firmly believe your helping other people/investors in needs is already helping you. Thank you for the great post.
    Mitch Messer Rental Property Investor from Atlanta, GA
    Replied 9 months ago
    Hey Casey, thank you for reading and commenting! Yes, you've discovered my SECRET WEAPON. I've spent the last several years trying my best to out-give and out-serve and out-gift the Universe. I'm HAPPY to report I've failed to the tune of at least 10-to-1: For every helpful thing I do, I get back ten-fold in opportunities and goodwill and, often, MONEY!