Meet the Investors: Escape the 9-5 Via Tax Strategies With Natalie Kolodij
Want more articles like this?
Create an account today to get BiggerPocket's best blog articles delivered to your inboxSign up for free
I met Natalie after a few years in real estate investing because I had a frustration—a pain point in my business—that I know many people share with me.
I talked to my tax accountant once a year. They never knew what I was doing. I didn’t have any kind of relationship with them, and it was like pulling teeth trying to get them to give me any advice throughout the year. So I said, I’m going to befriend somebody that knows this stuff so that I can parlay that friendship into some tax advice.
Lo and behold, Natalie and I became friends over the last three years or so. This was actually the first time that we met in person. And I’m extremely excited that I get to share her story with you. She’s an investor, she’s a tax pro, and she’s in the BiggerPockets community like few others. She produces content for them, she writes for them, she’s been on the Money show, she’s a moderator. She’s amazing.
My name is Natalie Kolodij. I am the founder and real estate tax strategist at Kolodij Tax and Consulting, and I am from Charlotte, North Carolina. I have been on BiggerPockets for over six years now.
I’m not at an investment property. We’re not walking through a project. I’m at the super fancy headquarters of Kolodij Tax and Consulting: It’s my primary home.
BiggerPockets has let me build a brand and build a company that works with investors all around the world. Because of that, I don’t need a brick and mortar office. There’s not a purpose for it. The snoring you can hear in the background of my podcasts sometimes is actually my bulldog.
I want to invite you in to see where I do taxes and come meet my dog.
I got started in real estate when my roommate came home and told me about a free seminar. How great, right? We got to go to a free seminar. And I knew I always wanted to be involved with real estate but didn’t know how to start. So we went to that and then foolishly got sold on the two-day bonus training.
That was the start of my real estate journey: doing exactly what you shouldn’t do. While there, we got to learn all of the super important stuff about how easy wholesaling was, how to max out our credit cards to pay for the next level of training. And we were taught just how you’d only have to do a couple of deals a month to pretty much retire from your nine-to-five job.
None of that works. None of that works well at all.
So we left there and had a new kind of plan of figuring out how we could apply this to another area of real estate, to something else that would work. And that is how we got started in mobile and manufactured homes.
I’d never heard about investors working with these. So now it was time to figure out if that was because they were a terrible investment or just not as sexy as flipping a high-dollar home.
We placed an ad online that just said we purchased mobile and manufactured homes in any condition. Any that were listed on Craigslist, we set up an RSS feed so we would get notifications when a mobile home was listed under a certain price point.
While we were starting our mobile home flipping business, I had actually just graduated from college and began working at local CPA firms. I was working on my tax career and due to my interest in real estate, I ended up really becoming very specialized and was given a lot of those clients.
At the same time as I was flipping trailers in the evening, I was doing taxes all day. And after doing that for several years, that’s when I led to opening my own firm in 2017.
BiggerPockets ended up overlapping for me with both of my businesses. After I took the guru course, I obviously had a lot of unanswered questions. Googling those is how I actually came across the BiggerPockets website originally—it was answered in a thread.
It’s a great community, great content, great people sharing that.
At the same time, I was working in tax, so I would spend my lunch breaks browsing the forums and answering tax questions for people while learning about flipping mobile homes.
Really, for me, BiggerPockets helped me with both businesses. Since then, I’ve been a regular on the forums. I’ve been on the BiggerPockets Money podcast, and I am currently a moderator for the BiggerPockets forums and Facebook groups.
Finding Your People
A lot of people, when they think of their tax professional, they think of a button-up, suit, and tie in an office. And what I found is that if you’re the kind of person who’s taking a different path, you’re investing in real estate, you’re forging your own future, you want people who run their business in the same way. I do a lot of taxes for a lot of clients and a lot of the time I’m working out by the pool.
So most people come to BiggerPockets to learn about investing in real estate and all of that good stuff. I think a really big missed area is that people don’t realize you can find people to work with and find your vendors on BiggerPockets as well. It’s really important that if you own a business related to real estate or if you’re looking for someone with a business related to real estate, that you check BiggerPockets.
So what I’d recommend is building a farm. It sounds silly, but you want to plant those seeds, just spend your time with the community. Talk to people, learn about them, learn what they do, and you’re just going to find who the best match is to work with.
You’ll find an agent that you personally kind of click with. You’re going to be able to find contractors who you would work well with and who are in your area. Someone might be great at what they do, but not work the same way you do. You might just not work well together, so using BiggerPockets to find your vendors is one of the biggest tools you can have in your toolbox.
When it comes to real estate, taxes are one of the best incentives for this avenue of investing. There are huge tax benefits and you want to make sure that you are in a position to take advantage of them.
Picking a Tax Professional
What’s really important is that when you’re picking a tax professional to work with you and your real estate, every CPA you call is going to say, “Oh yeah, yeah, we work with landlords. No big deal.” But that doesn’t mean that they understand real estate.
Knowing taxes is something that’s going to help you look at real estate differently. And that’s what it did for me. When I look at a deal, I’m not just looking at cash flow. I’m not just looking at ROI. I’m looking at the big picture.
And you can, too, knowing these numbers and making sure you have a grasp of how taxes are going to interact with your deal should be part of your analysis. You don’t want to just run your deal through the BiggerPockets calculator and look at just cash flow and base it solely on that.
There are situations where the tax impact from a property, the amount of depreciation you get, can actually put you in a deal that’s better than it looked at first. Or there might be a deal that’s not as good or when you’re looking side by side. So having an understanding of the tax impact of your real estate is really going to be a component of your deal analysis.
As you grow, that becomes more and more important. The bigger your portfolio gets and the more you’re investing, the more these additional data points are going to come into your deal and what’s important to know.
When it comes to your tax person, find someone that doesn’t just know taxes, but that matches up with your goals and what you’re doing, Not just real estate, but as an overall life choice.
I love to travel. I work remotely. As soon as tax season is over, I take a cruise. The last cruise I was on, I started getting down a rabbit hole about deducting taxes on cruises. And I did a Facebook Live from the coast of the Bahamas for my clients about how you can potentially write off a cruise.
I love traveling. I love meeting people from all over the world. And that parlays over to BiggerPockets. I’ve met so many interesting people through BiggerPockets and it just helps you to really build a team, but also just build relationships with people. It’s going to help you talk to people about the things you’re passionate about and that you love doing.
I now know people on BiggerPockets who have lived overseas. I’m now friends with people who are also tax professionals who go on cruises all the time. So you build this kind of community on the boards and off the boards. So it’s business building, but it also helps by having yourself surrounded by like-minded people.
Whether you love rescuing dogs, which I do, or traveling around, or maybe your only hobby is building tiny toy trains. If that is your hobby, we won’t be able to talk about it, but we can still talk about your taxes. But there might be a tax person who also loves tiny trains.
So what I’m saying is there are so many people in BiggerPockets that it’s important to build actual people-to-people relationships, not just business-to-business. Find a person who adds value and adds overall happiness to your life. Are you going to talk about things more than real estate?
Because when you have that kind of base relationship built, that’s what’s going to lead you to new people and new opportunities and new life experiences. So BiggerPockets really offers you a variety of people for all of that. Get outside your comfort zone, meet some new people, build a new friend group.
What relationships have you developed on the BiggerPockets forums?
Share your story in the comments.