Real Estate Investing Basics

Nakeisha’s Story: From 0-6 Rentals in One Year as a Single Mom

Expertise: Landlording & Rental Properties, Real Estate News & Commentary, Personal Finance, Real Estate Investing Basics
132 Articles Written
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Being a single parent often feels like treading water—with your arms and legs tied together.

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It’s a constant struggle to stay afloat financially, with demands hitting you from all directions: demands on your time, demands on your finances, demands that you stay stoic and strong in the face of all these never-ending demands.

And, of course, you have no one to share these burdens with.

One of the hardest parts for so many single parents is only having one income, but still having all the expenses of managing a household and providing for children. But who says single parents can only have one income?

Here’s how one single mom in Baltimore added not one, but six extra income streams on top of her day job.

Meet Nakeisha

A year ago, Nakeisha Turner was a single mom with a 12-year-old daughter, doing everything she could to stay above water. She worked full-time for the State of Maryland, doing communications as a public information officer (which she still does). Then her mother approached her with a favor to ask.

“My mom snagged a property really cheap that was supposed to serve as a home for my aunt who is disabled,” Nakeisha explained. Her mother asked her to help oversee the renovation of the property.

As Nakeisha spent more time at the property, she became increasingly intrigued. She had no experience in real estate, but the idea of passive income and providing affordable housing, began to appeal to her.

Then she faced her first curveball in the real estate investing game. At the last minute, Nakeisha’s aunt decided she didn’t like the property. Nakeisha’s mother asked her to fill it with renters and to find a new property for her aunt.

Thus began her career as a landlord, nearly by accident.

buy-and-hold

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Discovering a Mission

Around this time, Nakeisha visited her alma mater in Nashville for homecoming weekend—except the surrounding neighborhoods looked nothing like they had just a few years earlier when Nakeisha had graduated.

"I was surprised and appalled at the gentrification of the area surrounding the school. And so I vowed to help prevent this from happening around local HBCUs in Baltimore."

It’s worth noting that Nakeisha is not opposed to economic development; quite the opposite. Her mission is to renovate and improve housing in neighborhoods surrounding historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). But it’s a priority for her to maintain the character and history of the neighborhoods as well.

Nakeisha started with the neighborhood surrounding Coppin State University. After her first five properties, she’s started expanding into neighborhoods near other HBCUs. She now has properties under contract near Morgan State University and is looking to cautiously expand further.

“My goal is to expand to another HBCU neighborhood next year, and hopefully a fourth the year after that,” Nakeisha explained.

Investing Strategy

The first component of her strategy is, of course, neighborhoods near historically black colleges. Nakeisha believes that demand will only strengthen over time in these neighborhoods.

To date, her investments have all been single-family brick rowhouses (an icon of traditional Baltimore), but Nakeisha has her first duplex under contract currently. From there, she's looking to gradually try more multifamily buildings.

Typically, she looks for homes that need some renovation work but aren’t complete gut-jobs.

Some of Nakeisha’s deals have been partnerships with other family members (such as her mother), but others she’s pursued on her own.

As Nakeisha spends time in these neighborhoods and talks to more of the residents, she’s discovered a number of property owners who inherited properties that need work. The owners don’t have the money to renovate these properties themselves, and banks won’t lend mortgages at such low amounts. But Nakeisha offers another option for these owners: ongoing income from them.

She offers to buy the properties if the sellers finance them. It’s a no-brainer for these owners, who currently lose money on the properties to taxes.

Numbers

A typical deal for Nakeisha costs between $15,000-30,000 and needs some work. When she spends closer to $30,000, usually those homes need only minimal updates and repairs.

The properties rent in the $950-1,200/month range. The higher-paying tenants are typically through Section 8, which comes with its own risks and rewards.

“I know a woman at the Baltimore Housing office. She’s starting to refer renters to me who have a good track record.”

If the words "Section 8" give you pause, you probably have a sense of why the numbers above sound too good to be true. Lower income rentals come with all kinds of unique challenges, headaches, and downright nightmares.

Rough Renters

If it were that easy to buy a home for $30,000 and lease it for $1,200, everybody and their mother would do it. Nakeisha has learned some hard lessons about the neighborhoods she's determined to preserve.

“I’ve seen plenty of hard times myself and wanted to give back to the community, so I agreed to accept two women from a program that places victims of domestic violence into new homes. But after moving in, they decided they didn’t want to pay the rent and have pulled every dirty trick in the book ever since.

“When I took them to court, they promised the court they would put money in escrow—which they still didn’t do. They called the City on me several times to try any technicality they could think of to stop the eviction procedures.”

The City ordered a series of repairs based on the tenants’ demands and insistence that the house was “unfit.” It’s been a nightmare, made worse by a city government that reflexively sides with renters on all disputes.

She’s had other headaches and antagonistic renters as well, but not every tenant is a nightmare. Increasingly, Nakeisha has made tenant screening her first priority.

“Tenant screening reports are important, but they only get you so far. I’ve found that it’s tenants’ personalities and values that matter most. I’ve started spending more time interviewing rental applicants in person and developing a better intuition for who’s going to be a good renter.”

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Part of Nakeisha’s screening efforts involve calling multiple prior landlords and references and trying to dig deeply into what kind of values prospective renters truly possess.

I own properties in some of these neighborhoods myself, and I’ve found that the more people I talk to about a potential renter, the closer I get to an accurate portrait of them. Aggressive tenant screening includes making phone calls!

Advice for Other Parent-Investors

“Not having enough time or extra money is a constant feeling. As a single mom, it all falls on me, so maneuvering resources has been a challenge.”

Juggling the demands of being a single parent, managing a one-adult household, working full-time, and investing and managing rental properties? How does one person do all of that?

“What’s made all the difference for me is making my daughter a part of my real estate investing business. She comes with me to look at homes, she sends out the tenant notices. She even shows properties to prospective renters, walking them around and giving them tours!”

Nakeisha is there too, of course, and it’s become a “family business” of sorts. It also includes Nakeisha’s mother and a few other family members: “You don’t have to do it alone. I’m not saying wait for a spouse, but you can partner with others.”

Single parents often succumb to the mindset that they’re all alone and have to do it all themselves. But Nakeisha has partnered with her mother and even her grandparents on deals. They can lean on each other to spread the financial and time costs involved in buying and managing rental properties.

And, of course, that’s how this entire family business got started: Nakeisha’s mother buying a home for her sister.

I asked Nakeisha what her final words of wisdom and advice are for other single parents trying to break the cycle of the rat race. Her reply?

“Sure, you need the basic financial resources. But if you have the basics covered, just start going for it. You can always find a way to get financing. Be as realistic as possible with what you can do with your time, and know you’ll need to be willing to sacrifice. But you don’t need to just get by with your day job income.

“Make something happen!”

What challenges have you faced as a beginning investor? How have you balanced your family obligations with investing in real estate? Any tips to share for other parent investors?

Leave a comment below!

G. Brian Davis is a landlord, personal finance expert, and financial independence/retire early (FIRE) enthusiast whose mission is to help everyday people create enough rental income to cover their ...
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    Andrew Syrios Residential Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, MO
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Great story!
    G. Brian Davis from Baltimore, MD
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Glad you liked it Andrew!
    G. Brian Davis from Baltimore, MD
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Thanks CG Roxane!
    Edward Mikel Investor from Saint Louis, Missouri
    Replied about 3 years ago
    This is a great story for a couple of reasons. The first being that anyone can get started in this business if they are willing to work and educate themselves (which is mostly free on BP). Nakeisha ‘fell into’ the real estate game by accident but kept running with it after she saw the value (passive income, appreciation, etc.- BRRRR) in owning rental property. She asked for help and partnered with her family and she learned that tenant screening is worth its weight in gold (literally). Her daughter is also now way ahead in the game! All you have to do is make something happen!
    G. Brian Davis from Baltimore, MD
    Replied about 3 years ago
    So true Edward. That’s what I love so much about this story too – that it demonstrates that anyone can get ahead in real estate, no silver spoon required.
    Kelly Arthur from Scotch Plains, New Jersey
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Love it. Awesome story. As she says “Make something happen!!!”. I know a group in that area doing the same thing. If Nakeisha is interested she should contact me. Maybe together that can make something happen!!!!
    Nakeisha Turner Investor from Pikesville, MD
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Hi Kelly. Definitely would love to connect.
    Kelly Arthur from Scotch Plains, New Jersey
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Love it. Awesome story. As she says “Make something happen!!!”. I know a group in that area doing the same thing. If Nakeisha is interested she should contact me. Maybe together they can make something happen!!!!
    Agnes Kamau from Gaithersburg, MD
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Love what she’s doing to improve the neighborhood.
    Nakeisha Turner Investor from Pikesville, MD
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Thank you. There’s a lot that needs to be done in this area. I’m not the only one working to fix things , this was just my story.
    G. Brian Davis from Baltimore, MD
    Replied about 3 years ago
    It definitely helps to have a mission, especially when the going gets tough and it feels like the cards are stacked against you. I think it’s a huge difference-maker that Nakeisha has a deep-seated belief in what she’s doing.
    Account Closed violinist from Detroit, Michigan
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Great story! Often times, on the podcasts and in some of these real estate books, it feels like the information and advice is intended for a particular socioeconomic audience, but Nakeisha is a shining example of anyone having the potential to build wealth for themselves through real estate, no matter the obstacles. This story is a great reminder of that. Single parents not making 6 figures can invest and build wealth too! Love it.
    G. Brian Davis from Baltimore, MD
    Replied about 3 years ago
    I totally agree Devin. It’s so important to see reminders that anyone can build success for themselves in real estate, if they’re willing to work at it, and look for and accept help. We can all learn to do more with less!
    Nakeisha Turner Investor from Pikesville, MD
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Waiting for those six-figures. LOL
    Chequita Dobson Real Estate Broker from Chicago
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Don’t worry it’s coming girlfriend !
    Ash Lynn Flipper from Mobile, AL
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Great story I’m a single mom working daily to find my first deal! Like Brandon Turner I plan buy an investment house for my son as well. I would love to connect with @nakeisha if at all possible!!!! #inspired #veryRelatable
    G. Brian Davis from Baltimore, MD
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Glad to hear it Ash! Please don’t hesitate to PM me or reach out over Facebook, happy to help in any way possible.
    Nakeisha Turner Investor from Pikesville, MD
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Hi. I’m on Facebook as Keisha Latrece
    Kanika Bailey from Atlanta, Georgia
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Hi Nakeisha, Great story! I was thinking of doing the same thing near the AUC where I attended school here in Atlanta. What are you thoughts on student housing? Have you rented any of your properties to students and if so, how was/is the experience?
    Karen O. from NYC, NY
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Inspiring. Great story. Wish her continued success.
    G. Brian Davis from Baltimore, MD
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Glad you liked it Karen! I’d actually like to do more of these case studies, I think they’re both instructive and inspirational at the same time.
    Lori Schaffer from New Milford, CT
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Way to go! I love that she is doing real estate with a mission and purpose other than just making the most money possible.
    G. Brian Davis from Baltimore, MD
    Replied about 3 years ago
    There’s a strong body of evidence that entrepreneurs who are devoted to a mission have much higher success rates. We could all take a page from Nakeisha’s book and find our own mission to stand behind!
    Kristopher Allen from Washington, District of Columbia
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Yes, that is a major plus. At the end of the day, business owners’ goal is to make money but I like how that she’s giving back to the community in her own way.
    Mary B. Real Estate Investor from Lansdowne, Pennsylvania
    Replied about 3 years ago
    where there’s a will…its going to happen. obstacles will come no matter what field or position you’re in so face them and prep for the worse, hope and pray for the best.
    Yettekov Wilson Jr Investor from Fort Washington, Maryland
    Replied about 3 years ago
    This is a fantastic story. Great for her.
    Kristopher Allen from Washington, District of Columbia
    Replied about 3 years ago
    This is an amazing story! And for it to be an hour away from where I live…
    Tonja Honsey from Minneapolis, Minnesota
    Replied about 3 years ago
    This is such an inspiration. I am also a single mom. Real Estate Investing has, and remains my dream. I close on my first property, which will be an owner occupied duplex. I am struggling to find a way to finance my next deal, as I do not have family to partner with.. Any advice is welcome
    G. Brian Davis from Baltimore, MD
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Congratulations on the duplex purchase Tonja! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me by private message or on Facebook, would be happy to help however possible!
    Nakeisha Turner Investor from Pikesville, MD
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Hi everyone. Thank you Brian for being able to help me share my story. By no means has this been the easiest Journey, but I definitely see the value in what I’m doing. Not only in regards to Building Wealth for my family and my daughter, but also for the change that we’re trying to implement in the local community. If anyone would like to connect, I can be found on Facebook as Keisha Latrece. My avatar is the Barbies
    Michelle
    Replied about 3 years ago
    You go girl!
    John Humphries Investor from Courtenay, British Columbia
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Hi Brian and Nakeisha, great story, and thanks for sharing. I’m hoping that you can elaborate on something: “She offers to buy the properties if the sellers finance them. It’s a no-brainer for these owners, who currently lose money on the properties to taxes.” I feel like there is some valuable information here and possibly an interesting strategy and would love to understand how she is doing this. Would you be interested in supplying an example of this?
    Lisa Phillips Real Estate Investor from Arlington, VA
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Congrats! I already mentioned this on facebook, but its takes a lot of time and strength to do ANYTHING as a single mother, I applaud you and your efforts, and for not being scared of these low priced houses, as a lot of investors are (some for very good reasons, some for not so good reasons), but it is hard work, regardless. I appreciate your efforts in showing others what can be done in these local communities that are pre-dominantly african americans community, and good for you for wanting to go back. Join our Sub30k Mastermind Group and share, there are a lot of veterans in there that can help take you to the next level (2800+ sub30k investors). Bravo!
    Samson Williams from Fort Lauderdale, Florida
    Replied about 3 years ago
    The hardest step is the first one. Congrats!
    Michelle
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Such an inspiring story! On another note, I’m curious on people’s thoughts on buying property and renting to family. I’m the first homeowner in my family, and I have a host of cousins who rent in the suburbs for $1,000/month at least. I’m still learning about their suburban market, but would you consider buying a decent place for $20K and renting to family to pay itself off. I know that it’s a touchy subject to rent to family, and there could be challenges with the relationship…but do people think it’s worth considering based on the cash flow?
    G. Brian Davis from Baltimore, MD
    Replied about 3 years ago
    It depends on the family member. If you have even the slightest doubt about them paying the rent, or the way they’ll treat the property, don’t do it. But for truly responsible, reliable family members with no cause for pause, it’s a great solution.
    Michelle
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Thanks, Brian! It’s helpful to hear another perspective here.
    Aisha Hargrave Residential Real Estate Broker from Kent, Washington
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Great story! Thanks so much for sharing! I’m interested in real estate investing and would love to purchase an investment property this year. I appreciate BiggerPockets and the many learning opportunities it provides. As John Humphries mentioned above, I am also interested in hearing more about the buying properties from seller’s and the seller’s financing them concept. Is there a blog or something that I can refer to? Thanks again!
    G. Brian Davis from Baltimore, MD
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Glad you got something out of it Aisha! Please don’t hesitate to message me, either on BiggerPockets or on Facebook, I’d be happy to help however possible. Best of luck! Brian
    Amia Acosta from Brooklyn, New York
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Wow, beautiful story. This was one of the many reasons I wanted to take the leap of faith into REI. I was born and raised in NYC and one thing New Yorkers can agree on is that the rent is too damn high. With gentrification growing in some of Brooklyn’s most popular neighborhoods I am having such a hard time trying to find my mom a one-bedroom apartment with a $1250 section 8 voucher. The most you seem to be able to get in that price range is a room and it’s sickening. With the local elections coming up, I wish there was more information for someone like me to be able to create more low income or section 8 housing. The truth is landlords are selling to buyers that can pay all cash because they don’t want to deal with the “hassle” of section 8 inspections. There are many state regulations they disregard and are willing to sell to the highest bidder that is willing to make the necessary repairs and leave many families homeless.
    Dennis L Lewis Jr from Smyrna, TN
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Great Story, I can only imagine some of the headaches she has dealt with as I am familiar with that area.
    Renee Collins Investor from Homewood, Illinois
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Loved this story! I am a single mom as well….I admire your strength and tenacity! Make it happen!
    Keisha Daniel
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Thank you for sharing! You are amazing! I am truly inspired and encouraged by your efforts.
    Tim White Rental Property Investor from Madison, AL
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Great story! A similar goal of why initially started investing in my hometown of Jackson, MS.
    Reggie Greene Investor from Indianapolis, Indiana
    Replied about 3 years ago
    I’m kinda new to BP and I am really enjoying All the articles I have read. Some have helped me learn something new or inspire me to keep moving forward and this one is very relatable but also inspiring as well. I appreciate for Brian for sharing it and to Nakeisha for having the strength to keep moving forward in spite of obstacles and potential setbacks.
    G. Brian Davis from Baltimore, MD
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Thanks Reggie, and please don’t hesitate to reach out by private message, I’d be happy to help in any way possible!
    Nick H. from Baltimore, Maryland
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Sent to this a couple of my buddies. We all live in Baltimore we need to step it up. This story is so inspiring I upgraded my account. Seeing someone in your town do it just gives you that extra kick.
    Deanne Moore Rental Property Investor from Rancho Cucamonga, CA
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Kudos to Nakeisha and her strategy. What she is doing, how and where she is investing leaves me quite intrigued and looking to do more research. Thank you.
    G. Brian Davis from Baltimore, MD
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Glad to hear you liked her story Deanne! I loved her story too, found it very inspiring.