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Investor Spotlight: 1 Year’s Salary From 1 Flip? What Sold Me on Real Estate Featuring Chiagozie Fawole

BiggerPockets
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Investor Spotlight: 1 Year’s Salary From 1 Flip? What Sold Me on Real Estate Featuring Chiagozie Fawole

Meet a doctor who wanted more out of life than working it away. Seeing Tarek and Christina of HGTV fame profit $60K on one flip, Chiagozie Fawole decided to learn about real estate. Since then she’s acquired 27 doors, 12 of which she offloaded mid-pandemic.

investor spotlight chiagozie fawole

Name: Chiagozie Fawole

Age: 33

Location: Syracuse, New York

What were you doing prior to real estate?

I am a pediatric anesthesiologist. I was in the middle of my residency training when I got started in real estate.

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What got you interested in real estate investing, and how did you get started?

I was home one day, watching “Flip or Flop” on HGTV. It was intriguing to see Tarek and Christina make my entire annual resident salary in ONE episode. No 14-year long training. No late nights on call. No missing kids games and holiday gatherings…

I grew up as a very focused student and trainee. As I got older, there was this nagging thought that there had to be more, and my eyes were peeled for business ideas. Earning $60K from one property on “Flip or Flop”? I decided that whatever they were doing I would learn more about.

I found BiggerPockets, and over the next year, immersed myself in the forums and listened to the podcasts. I learned how to analyze deals, fund them creatively, etc. But with the prices of homes in Brooklyn, New York, I couldn’t find anything that worked for me. I didn’t have enough money.

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I finally took a stab on a remote flip in Norfolk, Virginia, partnering with my dad. He had some cash. With that and a hard money loan, we were able to get that first deal! I was ecstatic.

Before that deal was done, I leveraged the experience to invite partners onto my second deal—a turnkey 12-unit apartment complex in Rochester, New York. I provided the deal and the credit, while they brought the cash in exchange for equity. I hired a property manager to handle the day-to-day of the property—there was no way I could have managed it myself as a fellow in pediatric anesthesiology. Seeing how “easy” it made it to run that property, I was hooked on property managers.

What is your real estate investment plan?

My first real job turned out to be in Syracuse. When we moved, we decided we’d try to do our own deals, focusing on BRRRR-ing duplexes. Our plan was to buy properties that need work in great neighborhoods, fix them up, rent them, refinance money out, and use the funds on the next deal.

At this point, we’ve been executing this strategy for a few years. In March, we had 27 units in our portfolio. But we sold the 12-unit (quite profitably!) mid-pandemic.

What is your preferred investing strategy?

Buy and hold, fix and flip, and wholesaling.

While up to this point we’ve mostly rehabbed and held our properties, this coming year, my goal is to use real estate to pay off other debt. I’m looking to rehab 15 houses, then sell 10 and keep five. I plan to market for my own deals and wholesale the surplus. To do this, I’m intentionally building my systems, so that very little of it depends on my physical time.

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How much did you have to invest when you first started?

Barely any. We partnered with others for our first few deals.

What was your first deal?

After about a year of searching for something affordable in the Brooklyn area, I decided to do my first deal 300 miles away in Norfolk.

It was a flip. I found the deal, secured the financing, spoke with contractors and anyone I could reach on the phone. My dad was the “boots-on-the-ground” person. Although it wasn’t a home run of a deal, the education and experience made future deals possible.

How many deals have you done to date?

9

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What is the most important part of a deal for you?

Cash flow is huge for me.

How do you know if a property fits your goals?

I’ve focused on the BRRRR method for the past few years, so I look for sufficient equity built in and cash flow on the back end.

Because our initial goal is to get all our cash out, we take 70% of the after-repair value and subtract holding and closing costs to arrive at our maximum allowable offer. We then run the cash flow numbers—the ARV times 75%—since that’s what we’d likely be requesting from the bank when we refinance.

What red flags do you look out for when purchasing property?

I don’t like water damage. We’ve bought some ugly properties—even some with foundation issues—but one thing I avoid is mold.

How has real estate investing changed your life?

My husband remarked that he believes my interest in real estate helped me get through residency. Having something to think about outside of the daily grind of medicine has helped keep burnout at bay.

Second, knowing I can have as many income streams as I’m willing to work on in real estate is so freeing! I was recently pulled off work mid-pregnancy. In that conversation with my doctor, I was glad that I didn’t have to worry about, “Ooh, what will happen to my paycheck?”

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What’s your “why”—the reason you pursued real estate investing and your drive to keep going when things get tough?

I work on my real estate business because I would like to practice medicine on my terms. I would also like to build something I can pass on to my children—hard assets and a wealth mindset.

What should people consider before getting involved in real estate investing?

The biggest thing I’ve learned is that your mindset will either propel you or stop you. When things don’t work out as planned, how you tell yourself the story will determine how far you go after that setback. Wallowing in self-pity will cost you time and money.

How did you find out about BiggerPockets? How has it helped you?

I found BiggerPockets when I was researching reviews on Phil Pustejovsky’s real estate training material. From learning the basics to getting motivated to take action, BiggerPockets has been a huge part of my investing journey. For almost a whole year after I found the platform, I immersed myself in the forums, connecting with people, and taking tiny steps. I listened to the podcasts religiously on my long drives from work.

BiggerPockets taught me that I wasn’t crazy to consider my first deal 300 miles away or to make an offer on my first rental (a 12-unit) with no cash in the bank. It truly redefined the realm of possibilities for me.

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