My Investment Property Burned Down—What Now?!

My Investment Property Burned Down—What Now?!

4 min read
Tarl Yarber

Tarl Yarber is the CEO and founder of Fixated Real Estate LLC, a Pacific Northwest leading investment company with over $45MM in single family residential properties purchased, rehabbed, and re-sold.

Within a four-year span, Tarl has never had more than four team members (including himself) at any one time, averaging 17 simultaneous projects going on at any one time. How? Systems! Systems that allowed him and his wife to run their business from their phones and travel the world 102 days in 2018 alone.

With over 600 real estate transactions under his belt since his career began in 2011, Tarl and his team are considered experts in the investment industry and specialize in real estate systems for success. Tarl has been a guest on episode #189 of the BiggerPockets Podcast, along with numerous other shows, including Target Market Insights, The Nuts and Bolts of Real Estate Investing, Landlord Survival Radio Show, The Real Estate Foundation Podcast, Real Dealz, and Simple Passive Cashflow.

After creating Fixated on Real Estate, the No. 1 Pacific Northwest real estate meetup for investors, and the PNW Big Badass Real Estate Wealth Expo, the largest real estate conference in the PNW, he has become passionate about helping others scale their businesses to the next level.

In the last few years, Tarl has been fighting his addiction of fix and flip and focusing on a new passion: BRRRR investing. Since he started working on BRRRR, Tarl and his team have accumulated 22 single family rentals in the Seattle market (in addition to their usual fix/flip volume). Why is this awesome? The average BRRRR in his portfolio has less than $5,000 of capital left in the projects, with an average LTV of 63% and an average net cash flow between $400 to $500/month.

Tarl has taken his years of experience in rehabbing houses that were about to fall over and transferring that experience in mastering the BRRRR method.

PNW Big Badass Real Estate Wealth Expo
Fixated on Real Estate on Facebook
Instagram @fixatedre
Fixated on Real Estate’s Meetup

Read More

Join for free and get unlimited access, free digital downloads, and tools to analyze real estate.

I want to paint a scenario for you. Whether you’re new to investing or a savvy investor, think through this for a second.

You’re sitting there on vacation. You’re enjoying the time of your life, but then you get a phone call. And on that morning that you get that phone call on your vacation, it’s the fire department from the city that all your investment properties are in.

The fire department says, “Hey! You know that property that you purchased and dumped a ton of money into?”

And get this, you’re in the middle of rehabbing. In fact, you’re almost done with the entire rehab—about ready to put it on the market.

But the fire department says, “Well, it just burned down—not to the ground but thoroughly burned down.”

What do you do? What do you do when you received that phone call?!

I’ll tell you what I did. I ran around looking for my homeowners insurance policy on my computer until I knew that I had homeowners insurance!

But in this business, you’re going to have a whole bunch of adversity that happens to you. It happens to everyone—eventually—in real estate investing.

Like I said, we were almost done with this particular property we’d bought. It’s in Seattle, Wash. Finishes were going up, we were getting ready to list it. But if you check out the video below… you can tell the finishes aren’t there anymore!

It’s gone. The fire wiped it all out.

And when somebody breaks into your house and sets it on fire, which is what happened here, there’s not much you can control. So, that’s adversity. That’s something that’s going to happen.

How to Mitigate Risk as a Real Estate Investor

I want to go over with you guys some tips and tricks that may be able to help mitigate some of these things in the future. Here’s what you can do as an investor, because no matter what you do, crap is always going to happen to you.

1. Plan for adversity and expect things to happen.

In this scenario, we had homeowners insurance. But what can you do to mitigate risk in other aspects?

Maybe it’s dealing with contractors. Do you have contracts in place to deal with your contractors and vendors?

Maybe it’s when it comes to buying properties and inspecting them. Do you get a homeowner inspection so that you can find out all the issues that are happening on the property before you buy? That way, you’re not surprised by anything after you buy it.

Maybe running solid comps and knowing the market before you buy a property. Those are all things you can do to help reduce or eliminate any confrontation or adversity that you might have on a project or investment property after you purchase it.

Related: Property Walk-Through: Illegal Marijuana Grow House Fix & Flip

2. Recognize what you can and cannot control.

Focus on what you can control, not what you can’t. The challenge is, you can get very emotional in the business—especially when your investment property burns down.

Think about it though. Can you change it? Can I get the fire out of the house? No, I’m not a firefighter. I can’t go back in time. I can’t stop the people who broke in.

Maybe we could’ve had security cameras, but even then, would that stop them? I don’t know.

So, what I can do is focus on what I can control. I can control filing the insurance claim. I can control cleaning the property up a bit. I can control what I’m going to do with the property, because I still own it.

I can control those things.

What am I going to do on this property? Well, I’m going to clean it up, which we did.

And now I’m going to put it back on the market and let the whole circle of real estate investing continue. I’ll let some other investor buy this thing from us and move on. They can fix it up.

We’ll take our insurance because we had it. We’ll sell the property, and we’ll move on with our lives. That’s what I can control.

I could also fix it up. I could control that, but I don’t want to. I’ve already spent seven months on this project, and I’m kind of done with it—especially after it burned down. Little bit of emotion there, but I’m done.

Related: Property Walk-Through: How to Budget a Rehab on a Hoarder Property

3. Deal with what “is” and not with what “isn’t.”

You have to look things squarely in the eye and know what you’re actually dealing with. Focusing on all the things that something “isn’t,” isn’t going to help you in this business.

What I mean by that is, whether it’s a property you bought that you know that you’re going to lose money on, you have to deal with it. Or whether it’s a contractor that doesn’t show up to the job—well, you still have the job. You’ve still got to get it finished.

Maybe it’s an offer on a house that you didn’t like. Maybe it’s that some employee of yours is not showing up. Maybe it’s that you’re running out of money; your finances aren’t as strong as they once were.

Who knows? There are so many things! Maybe your business partner’s not doing what they’re supposed to do.

You have to stare at it and know what you’re actually dealing with—and then go deal with it, not with what it isn’t.

And that’s the best thing I can tell you. Adversity is going to happen to you in this business, whether you’re brand new or have been crushing it for years.

For those of you guys who have been crushing it for years, you know exactly what I’m talking about here. And for those of you guys starting now, don’t be scared of any of this! We’ve all had to deal with it.

Hopefully, you never have to deal with a burnt down house though. This is something new. I’ve never had to deal with this before.

But this post was all about making the best of it—dealing with what “is.”

I hope this never happens to you! And I hope it never happens to me again either.


Has anything like this happened to you or an investor you know?  

If you enjoyed this video, “like” it on YouTube, subscribe to the BiggerPockets YouTube channel, and comment below!