Real Estate Rookie Podcast

Rookie Podcast 23: From Dave Ramsey Disciple to No-Money-Down Real Estate Investor with Sarah Brandenberger

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Interested in real estate investing… but wary of taking on debt?

That’s the situation Sarah Brandenberger found herself in, and today shares her journey from a staunchly anti-debt “penny pincher” to a creative financier raising private money!

Sarah also gives us the goods on portfolio loans – including a ninja tip that allowed her to tap the equity in multiple properties and use those funds to take advantage of a smokin’ deal. You’ll learn what documents to bring when asking for a loan – whether you're meeting with a bank or a private individual. And Felipe throws in a Home Depot shopping hack for good measure.

Give Sarah a follow on Instagram (@nerdsguidetoFI) and let her know what you thought of this episode… and share this episode with a friend or family member who would find it inspiring.

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts.

Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

Ashley:
This is the Real Estate Rookie Show number 23.

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Sarah:
Personally, I did Dave Ramseyed my life and I will never go back, you just don’t want to mess with that. So personally, debt free. I don’t have an anchor tracing me around.

Ashley:
My name is Ashley Kehr and I am here with my co-host Felipe Mejia. We’re going to jump right in it because we’re so excited. We had a mutual friend on today’s show, Sarah from @nerdsguidetoFI on Instagram and that’s how Felipe and I actually met her, was on Instagram. I haven’t gotten to meet her in real life, but Felipe did and they talk a little bit about that in the show, but she is a Dave Ramsey fan and that’s how she got started on her debt-free journey and then she started buying rental properties.

Felipe:
Yeah, that’s right. She started with the whole Dave Ramsey, no debt, buy everything cash, but quickly realized that there’s not going to be a way to build wealth that way with real estate, it’s going to take too long basically. And she goes into detail on the show of how she transitioned from no debt to conservative debt or well, the debt that’s going to make you the most money. I love that she went into detail. She talks about her personal life. She tells us what fires she’s having to put out right now, but still investing in real estate and then gives us great knowledge on what IG pages she follows to get the best knowledge she can as she scrolls down that social media.

Ashley:
My favorite part of it was actually the different ways she has done financing. She started out thinking conventional financing. That's the way I'm going to do it, that's the only way to do it and then when you hear her latest creative financing story, you are going to be amazed. And then in between she found different ways to use creative financing in her real estate journey to grow her portfolio.

Felipe:
Sarah, welcome to the show. We’re super excited to have you on today.

Sarah:
Hi Felipe, hi Ashley. Thanks so much for having me.

Ashley:
Yeah. Thanks for coming on. So why don’t we start off with you telling everyone a little bit about your background and how you got started in real estate investing?

Sarah:
Yeah. I started out as one of the crazy Dave Ramsey people. I was on the Dave Ramsey bandwagon since I think it was about 2016 is when I started with that. We just had a bunch of debt and we tried to have my husband take a job that was a little less pay, but it was more enjoyable. Something like the quality of life decision. And then we quickly realized that having all of these vehicles and toys on payments left us suffocating and so you couldn’t make quality of life type decisions. And so we got on this crazy anti-debt journey and then about halfway through, I started with the classic books that everyone reads. So Rich Dad Poor Dad and then I actually read Set for Life by Scott Trench, which was really, really awesome because I think that really resonated with me because it seemed more age appropriate and a little more where I was at in life when I read his book.
And so that really got me looking, okay, paying off debt is pretty easy. It takes a while because you’re moving at the rate of saving, but I’m kind of bored with the whole debt payoff. What else can I do? I could totally be financially independent and then I feel like I would go to work a different person. I would walk into my job and just feel different because I’m going there because I enjoy it and it’s what I want to be doing versus you have to go and you have to collect your paycheck because you have to pay for all your crap. So that was kind of my turning point with that. And then I started reading all of the classic fire bloggers, which is Mr. Money Mustache and I got really into the Mad Scientist as well, but they just super saved. And I feel they rode a bike to work and I really didn’t resonate with that.
I like spending, I like purses, I like shoes. I have a pretty solid closet going. I like vacation and so riding a bike to work was something I would never do. I tried it for like one week when I was an intern in Grand Rapids, Michigan and I biked to work and I got there all sweaty in my business suit and I’m like, “This isn’t a disaster. This is not for me. I’m never going to do this frugal lifestyle.” And so I was like, “What can I do to get it faster?” Because I’m not going to hibernate and ride a bike to work and do all these things. I want to do it in a more fun way that doesn’t have to be as penny pinching.
And then I got really hooked on Paula Pant who started out real estate and she really inspired me because I learned that a lot of the skills you need as investor are not DIY skills necessarily. It helps, but it’s not the whole picture and you can totally do it without it. And so that really spoke to me because I’m 0% handy. Everything I’ve learned, I’ve taught myself. I grew up in a house, which my mom gets mad every time I share this story. But my dad literally hires out our light bulbs changed. He’s just retired. That’s what he does. I’m like, “What the heck? This is ridiculous.” And so my parents retired at kind of an early age, my dad’s quite a bit older and so he just really didn’t want to do hands on. He had done hands on, owned his own business and everything and so he was like, “I’m done. I’m done doing all this.”
So I grew up just 0% handy, and so I’ve really taught myself most of the things. I’ve taught myself how to paint, I’ve taught myself how to use a screw gun and a drill. I just figured how to drill this weekend. It’s my new favorite things. I’m just hanging stuff like a boss now. So you kind of self teach yourself everything, but I think that really started my passion because I realized I could do it a lot faster with real estate, and then I learned that my spreadsheets were really valuable and people wanted to see the numbers I was putting together on stuff, which was really cool because no one ever wants to see numbers. So it was really just a niche that I fell into and I’ve become obsessed with real estate and now I can’t stop. So that’s how I found you guys on Instagram.

Ashley:
Yeah. And that’s what’s great is there’s this whole community out there because it’s hard to find people in your real life to connect to, but you can go online and you can find so many people who are doing or want to do exactly what you are and I think that’s great. So where is your portfolio today? What year did you start investing? When did you buy your first purchase?

Sarah:
In the summer of 2018, we bought our first investment property. We closed on a new primary residence in August and then our next property in September. How we got started was we did a live-in flip. We didn’t really know that was a thing then we were just like, “We’re going to buy this house with wallpaper everywhere and we’re going to take out the wallpaper and make it look HDTV.” And then we decided to move and I convinced my husband that we’re going to renovate this house and we’re going to buy two tiny houses in town, a thousand square footish houses, one of them is going to be a rental. And so we sold our nice house on five acres with a basement to buy these two tinier properties in town to really kickstart our real estate. So about September, October of 2018, we got our first tenants and then since then we’ve bought a duplex, another single family home. And then I’m currently working my way through a house hack right now.

Felipe:
Sarah, that’s a great story. I love your background. I love how you transitioned from penny pinching to, I’m assuming now you’re getting into a little bit of debt to purchase properties, but obviously you’re running your numbers. Can I ask you real quick, how you went from, in your words, penny pinching and really trying to save your way into a certain place to then being okay with maybe acquiring some debt to buy properties? I mean, what was that transition? What happened?

Sarah:
I think we still transitioned very slowly because you have a lot of Dave Ramsey roots. And so the next house we bought was, or the first house we bought, that was our new primary residence, we did the 15 year mortgage, which I now have serious regrets about because I've really gotten to the dark side with keep debt as long and slow as possible. But then you're Dave Ramsey said 15 or 20 years. So that's the kind of terms we were looking at.

Felipe:
Can I cut you off?

Sarah:
Oh yeah.

Felipe:
Let me dig into that 15 and 30 year mortgage. Because here’s my explanation on that. And I know that there’s a lot of two-sided on that. So let me kind of clear the air for that. The reason I feel real estate investors like a 30 year mortgage over a 15 year mortgage is because I have the option to treat my 30 year mortgage like a 15 year mortgage. And all I got to do is add a couple more payments or add a little bit more money every month to my payment. And now I’m treating it like a 15 year mortgage, but let’s say one month or two months or three months out of the year, I don’t know, an AC unit needs to be fixed or the tenant, I have a vacancy for 30 days or whatever.
Now I have the option to pay my lower 30 year mortgage for the rest of that year or for however long I need to. And then I have the option to go back to treating it like a 15 year mortgage. But if I have a 15 year mortgage, I cannot treat it like a 30 year mortgage. I have a high bill every single month. I have a high mortgage every single month. In a nutshell, the 15, 30 year mortgage, I like the 30, because it gives me the option to pay as if it was a 15, if I wanted to. And if not, I can scale back for a month or two, or if I'm going to buy more rentals that year, I have more cashflow, but yeah, go ahead. Okay. So you got into a 15 and then?

Sarah:
So to kind of back what you’re saying, honestly. So the reason I regret the 15 year is it gives me no flexibility. And this property we bought it a little bit high, it’s a little less than the 1% rule, but barely, by the skin of our teeth. But when you look at the cashflow per door, which is something very important to me because I’m trying to replace my income and have that stability, so I care about cashflow, the cashflow is absolutely terrible. So it looks a terrible deal by the time you get to the bottom of your spreadsheet and you’re looking at your cashflow per door, but if I didn’t have a $985,000, $500 mortgage payment, that would be a different story. If it was more like $500, then we’re talking about cash flowing pretty well.

Ashley:
What cashflow do you look for in a property?

Sarah:
I’m looking for over $200 now. I was originally on the 100 to 200 train, but now I know if I’m patient, I can get over 200. And so I think I’ve learned my market better. And it’s hard because you listen to all of these people on blogs and forums talk about the 1% rule is impossible or the geographic challenges, or, wow, I wish I could buy a house for $100,000. And it almost made me so excited to find 1% real houses that I didn’t try that hard. And so I think learning your regional market helps because I’ve learned I can do better than $200 a door if I am patient.

Felipe:
Sarah, $100,000 homes are expensive to Ashley, Ashley’s buying $20,000 homes. And-

Ashley:
Yeah, even my four unit commercial building was 20,000 and the rehab only 50,000 [inaudible 00:10:44]. But what market-

Felipe:
Okay. I’m going to mute Ashley and then we’re going to go with Sarah.

Ashley:
What market are you investing in right now, Sarah?

Sarah:
I’m in Indiana. I live in Northeast Indiana. I would name some towns, but no one has heard of them because it’s very, very rural and very, very small. And so there’s a few specific towns we invest in. It’s literally corn fields where we live and some smaller towns and there’s one town with a hospital that I think it could be a pretty good market, but there’s very few rentals there. And then a couple other surrounding areas too that we monitor, or I monitor.

Ashley:
I want to go back to paying off your debt because I think a lot of people, they want to get started, but they don’t know how, or how did you get that money for that first down payment? And you talked about having your live-in flip. Can you maybe talk about how you’ve purchased the properties and how you’ve saved that money and how paying off debt kind of affected that?

Sarah:
Yeah. I think what I learned is keeping a very clean difference between personal finance and business finances and figuring out where that line is. Personally, I Dave Ramseyed my life and I will never go back, you just don’t want to mess with that. So personally debt free. I don’t have an anchor tracing me around, which we talk about a lot is just this personal worry. And so I think that’s really important because then I can be riskier on the business side and then buy carefully. So we bought a $210,000 house originally.
And then we sold that for, I think, 240 when we sold it. And then we took the equity of that and used it to buy two properties, a new primary residence, 10% down, and then a new single family as a rental. So as an investment property on a 20 year conventional mortgage and 20% down, obviously on that 20 year. And so the second property, really, we just super saved our way to 20% down payments. And so the next property after that was about 95,000, we saved 20% down for that, the traditional way and just saved our butts off and then bought that one. And then the last one, we used a portfolio loan to buy that, which I think we'll dive into. So lots of saving.

Felipe:
Yeah, that sounds great, Sarah. It's interesting when we talk about saving Sarah, I'm actually on the boat where I think when you start out, I think, and this is just personal. I feel great about saving up my 20% for that property. I don't feel over leveraged. I feel I have 20% of the property is mine, 80%, the bank is taking the risk on, I'm only taking 20% and that feels good and comfortable to me. I think most people maybe should do that and save that 20% so that they can kind of feel they have more skin in the game with that … Like you said, you're saving your way to those down payments. And I think that's smart because you won't be over leveraged. You'll have equity in the property once you close and you feel like this is your property. And when you 100% finance a property, I think sometimes, I don't want to say you don't lose interest, but maybe you don't have the same oomph toward that property, if that makes sense, right?

Sarah:
That does make sense. The current property, I don’t have any money in this one. And it also is terrifying me because I’m like, “You now have investors who have invested money with you and you don’t want to let them down.”

Felipe:
Yeah, exactly.

Sarah:
This is a whole new way, because I’m like, “Believe my crazy vision.” And then at night you’re like, “I really hope this works out.” No, you know it’s going to, you’ve run the numbers. You have a good plan. You presented your business plan, but it’s a little scary to also do the no money into the deal because then you’re asking someone to depend on you to not lose their money. And again, it’s secured to a house, but still I’m doing a pretty big renovation right now. And so I guess not that big, it’s not quite the level of your properties. Honestly, the walkout basement wasn’t that bad. We’re doing floor and ceiling, but it’s an interesting world.

Felipe:
No, that’s good.

Ashley:
Why don’t you guys tell everyone about how you guys actually met in person before and Felipe took you around to see his properties?

Sarah:
I was going to Nashville for the classic basic white girl reason of going to a bachelorette party.

Ashley:
That’s where my bachelorette was too.

Felipe:
That’s hilarious.

Ashley:
[crosstalk 00:14:54]. I had mine there.

Sarah:
So doing all the very basic things. I sometimes go there for work too, but this just happened to be about a bachelorette party. And I had messaged him a few times before and I said, “Hey, I’m in Nashville. I love you and Ashley.” We’ve been networking a little bit at that point, but I was like, “I would love to hear more about your deals and things. I’ve been trying to take out investors that I really like their model and take them to lunch and talk to them about how they’re setting up their portfolios and what kind of niches they’re in and all of that.” And Felipe is like, “Well, I’ll just pick you up from the airport and you can take me to lunch and I’ll just take you to one of my properties.” You just, hope he’s not a serial killer.

Felipe:
She called her mom when I picked her, because I was just on the way to go to one of my properties, they’re parked on the way I was like, “I’ll just pick you up then when I get there or you can Uber.” Picked her up and she calls her mom and she goes, “Okay, I’m good.” And I’m like, “You’re fine.” Took her. Sarah saw the properties. Everything was great.

Sarah:
I had to call and confirm. If you’ve ever watched Gilmore Girls, me and my mom are freakishly close. We have that level of relationship. And so we just talk a lot and she worries because I travel all the time. I go all over the United States for work and so I just let her know I’m alive. And she’s like, “Oh, are you Ubering?” And I’m like, “No, some stranger off of Instagram is picking me up in his truck.”

Felipe:
Moving on Ashley and Sarah, moving onto the next part of the show.

Sarah:
We had really good burritos though.

Felipe:
We did. I took you to my spot. Yeah, we did have great Mexican burritos. Absolutely. So let’s talk about one of the deals that you have that I think you’re currently working on now, we would love to dig into that. Can you kind of give us a 30,000 foot view and then me and Ashley would dig into it.

Sarah:
Okay. So I’m currently doing a house hack. And so this house was listed for $309,000. So for Ashley, that’ll make your palms sweat slightly. No, you’ve done this long enough. But based on your price points it’s like 20,000. So I was able to, well, first of all, me and Felipe were talking about doing a deal and we almost considered doing some things together almost, but it also gave me the opportunity to talk to some other people that invest in real estate and say, I’m talking about this with Felipe.
This is our interest rates, a hard money type loan. Would you ever want to invest in one of my real estate properties and do rentals with me? And so I was able to talk to a few investors and honestly, I think they were more interested because I had you in my back pocket. I’m like, “Oh yeah, my investor Felipe.” And so they were like, “Oh, I could probably do a better rate than that.” I’m like, “Don’t tell him that.” I’m like, “Sure, let’s talk about it.”

Felipe:
Wow, so I got booted out of the deal.

Ashley:
How did you pick who you were going to approach? Because for me, that's kind of a … I've talked to some people about being a money lender for me, but that is a tough conversation to have.

Sarah:
Right. I think knowing that the market right now is a little uncertain with COVID and dips and things, and it was kind of back up at that point. And so I knew a few people just do hard money lending. And then I also knew a few people that have most of their portfolio set in bonds right now just because I have some family members that we talk pretty closely with about investing in things. So real estate can give you a better return than your bonds will be returning. And then if there is some kind of second crazy crash, because of COVID, you have this money safe in a property and you can own it free and clear, and then we will renovate, I’ll spend the money to renovate the basement and then I will refinance out of it and give you your money back.
So I'm doing interest only payments on it. So it's kind of a rent to own/hard money lender situation. So I was able to buy this house. I also learned the amazing power of an all cash offer because I've never been in that boat before. I'm the queen of conventional mortgages. I have a binder that I just take to lenders and I'm like, "Here's everything I need for you give me this conventional loan." It's pretty straightforward. But this deal was a whole new world where everything's negotiable. And so we were able to negotiate the purchase price of the house down to 280,000.

Ashley:
Wow. [crosstalk 00:19:00].

Felipe:
Wow. Good for you.

Sarah:
And it made me sweat, but that was what the investor that you’re now working with is like, “Let’s push the needle a little bit. If it doesn’t work out, it’s fine with me.” And I’m like, “No, I really like this property. Let’s not lose it.” But you kind of have to go with your investors. And so it was a fun dynamic and we got a really good price for this house. And I’m exactly where I want it to be numbers wise on this property.

Felipe:
So you’re there now, you’re working on this property now, can you run through some of the numbers for this property now, kind of go through the numbers that you presented.

Sarah:
Yes. So the property was listed at 308. I knew that 280 was a really good place to be because rent in this area comps are anywhere between 1,100 to 1,400. And so I’m like if we can do a really nice renovation, which I know I can do a really good renovation and make it pretty straightforward with the LVP, your luxury vinyl plank, makes every property just so much better and it’s $2 a square foot. It’s the best invention ever. And so I’m like, “I can pick a good paint color and do good flooring and make it [inaudible 00:20:04]worthy.” And it already had a kitchen.
It already had a bathroom and just one bedroom in this thousand square foot walkout basement. And so I’m like, “If we just add a couple of walls, we can get this probably $1,400 rent.” And I know from a prior property, that was a little bit outside of this area. So I’m in a very, very desirable spot. I think this house could not be in a better location for a rental, but the one outside of it, quite aways, I had over 100 people on Facebook message me and 40 people fill out an application. So I know it’s really hot in this area. And so I’m like, “I don’t think even if I push the rent up a little bit higher than where comps are, or I’m right at the highest comp, I think I’ll still end up filling it and especially because it’s summer.” So that is the numbers I presented.

Felipe:
What's the strategy for it? Are you going to Brrrr or what's the [inaudible 00:20:51]strategy?

Sarah:
Yeah. It’ll be my first official Brrrr. And so bought it, renovating currently, we’re going to run it out, and then once, for those of you who weren’t on the call yesterday, I’m getting divorced right now. And so when all the dust settles from that, I’m going to refinance out and then I’ll own this property and then I’ll pay back my investor. And then from there, we’ll move forward and I’ll have a rental unit downstairs in the walkout basement, which is going to be gorgeous. And then hopefully get some money out of the deal to go after the next one.

Ashley:
What are the terms on that private money? And is there a set date you have to pay it back or how is that? And what’s your interest rate?

Sarah:
We set it up on a year. I think there’d probably be some flexibility just because they knew about the personal situation. I wanted to be very clear about this is a thing, I just want to be very honest. I don’t want anyone to be caught off guard and suddenly question whether they should have invested money with me. And so I’m just letting you know, there’s personal circumstances around me choosing to own this property this way. And so we were able to figure out we’ll do it on a year. So I’m on an interest only payments for the next year. And then we’ll kind of evaluate if we need to extend my contract out of it, but they were aware of that. And then a really good interest rate where to 4%.

Ashley:
Oh my God.

Felipe:
Wow. You sliced mine in half.

Ashley:
So you’re going to share this investor’s name with us, right?

Felipe:
Yeah. Can we all get that contact?

Sarah:
A little better than what I was working on, but I think they will still do a deal just because it’ll be fun. I think if I can also show to this person that yes, I was able to get you the return that was presented on the paperwork and you will get a tenant at this rent and moving on, I think it could be a really good partnership going down the road. And it was absolutely terrifying to ask for the kind of lending. But I think when you’re in this crazy personal situation, you do things you otherwise wouldn’t have done. And I think it was understandable to be like, “I don’t want my name on this property right now, but I know I want a good stable home at the moment.” And then I know I can do real estate deals. I know I can manage renovation. And I really, really believe in the numbers and this geographic location.

Ashley:
That’s creative financing.

Sarah:
My first one, it was terrifying. I had no idea what I was doing, but I’m like, “At least I had spreadsheets to look like I knew what I was doing.”

Ashley:
But that is a great example of you have all this stuff going on, but you still found a way to get the deal and make the deal work. I just think that is awesome.

Sarah:
I was always hesitant to share that part because I’m like, “People don’t need to know my personal life is on fire right now.” But I think it’s important to realize, under stress, you can find creative ways to make your life work and to give myself a really solid future going forward. And so I think it’s important also, no offense Felipe, as a woman, a lot of people I think are scared of investing alone. And so I’m like, “I really want to share this story to be like, this is how I set everything up to protect myself, give myself a home.” I work from home out of my office, even when it’s not COVID. And so having an office space and just rebuilding my little empire was something very important to me. And I just want to show people that it can be done. And you could be 0% handy. I just figured out how to drill this week and it’s now my new favorite thing.

Ashley:
I think that’s very inspirational too. I think there will be a lot of people who can relate to different aspects of your story.

Felipe:
Sarah, definitely.

Sarah:
That’s what I’m hoping for because I have a daughter too, who’s one. And so doing it with a baby full time job is something, but the real estate is the happy part. And so I just absolutely love it. And so it’s really fun to kind of have a side project cooking at the same time. And it’s also nice to not be doing the renovation. So me and my daughter can play all night upstairs and a team is working below us. So I’m making the dream happen and setting her up for a really good future, which is awesome.

Felipe:
That’s so amazing, Sarah, thanks for sharing that. I mean, I know that’s going to resonate with a lot of people that are like, “Well, I have this going on, so I can’t invest in real estate right now.” But kind of like you said, you said your personal life’s a little on fire right now, but you’re still finding ways to get creative and invest in real estate because you know that this is going to something that’s going to positively affect the future for you and your daughter. So that’s amazing. And then you got creative with financing, even though you used me to get a better interest rate. I mean, it just is what it is.

Sarah:
[inaudible 00:25:03]. He was aware of it the whole time.

Felipe:
I was. That’s okay. I’m used to it. I’m married. I get it. No, it’s fine. Okay. So we got the numbers, we got the creative financing, you’re in the grind right now, give us a little bit more about the renovation portion of what’s going on. What are you doing reno wise?

Sarah:
One of the first things I did actually, before we closed on the property was so in your due diligence period, which is really quick when you're doing cash, which is exciting. So as we worked through that process, I called the city building code department. I'm sure they have a fancier name than that. Anyway, I called the code master and I was like, "Hey, I just want to make sure my property is properly zoned to do a rental unit. I want to make sure I can do a side driveway so they can have their own parking area. I want to make sure that all of this dream is possible because this property is awesome. And if you're going to say like, "No, I can't rent out my basement." I'm not buying this house.
So conveniently the property was already zoned at the correct zoning. And so we were good on that part. And then we've talked through the building structure itself and what all it needed to be a rental. And so we learned that it had a tile ceiling, a really common basement tile structure in the ceiling. And all of that had to come down and you had to do the 3/8 drywall, the fire resistant. It had to have so many our fire barrier between. And so it actually worked out pretty well, because now we can better soundproof the ceiling too, since we're house hacking it.
And so we had to pull down the entire ceiling and do the fire rated drywall. And then we also, which is very interesting, had to close off the stairwell. So the stair connecting the upper and lower levels, we either had to do a fire rated door or fire rated drywall between the stairwells, because there has to be a full, complete fire barrier between the two living units. And so the upstairs and the downstairs had to be fully separated. So we are doing that currently.

Ashley:
And what are your total rehab costs going to be? What have you budgeted for that?

Sarah:
Oh, my goal is to stay under 12,000. We’ll see.

Ashley:
Yeah. And then what do you think it will be your appraised value after you are done with the rehab?

Sarah:
[inaudible 00:27:04]right now are really nice. I saw one that was really, really similar for 340 yesterday, there was pending sale. And so that makes me really hopeful that we’ll get out of this with some cash. That would be exciting. We’ll just see how the market goes by the time we’re done. And the hard part is, I can get it rented pretty quick, but just waiting until the dust settles on life before refinancing, we’ll see where the world is at that point. So that’s my only hesitation, the only kind of unknown variable right now, but where the house is located is a really high demand area. I could also Airbnb out the basement if I wanted to. And so I think even if it dips, it’ll come back at some point, I just don’t know what the future looks like. So all the fun things.

Ashley:
Yeah. You had mentioned earlier, when you talked about how you have financed each house, you talked about a portfolio loan. Can you kind of talk to everyone and explain what a portfolio loan and how you did that with the bank?

Sarah:
A portfolio loan, if you look for small local banks or credit unions with just a few branches. So I found one that I think has five or six locations and talked to them about, do they offer portfolio loans? It’s a commercial loan and they hold it in-house. And so the difference really between the conventional mortgages that I knew and loved for so long, and I’m really good at is with portfolio loans. The bank makes their own rules on exactly what they want to do with it because they’re not selling it on the secondary market. And so typically banks will do a loan with you and then they’ll sell it on the market, on the backend. And then there’s this whole market of buying loans from banks. And so there’s this whole marketplace exchange that happens. And so they all need to be pretty regulated.
So they all are kind of apples to apples, but if they just hold them in-house and they never sell them on the secondary market, then there’s this whole big world of you can do any terms you want and links and all sorts of things. And usually banks have standards. They said they only do 20 year terms. They don’t do a 30 year until you have more established credit with this bank in particular. So that’s kind of interesting, kind of an incentive to keep working with them and seeing if the terms will get better over time. So anyway, I was able to use, the reason we looked at portfolio loans was there was this property I wanted to buy and I had $10,000 and it was a $64,000 property. And so obviously I’m not going to buy it. I was so close to being able to get it with a conventional loan, but we just didn’t have enough down payment, but it was only a $64,000 house.
And it was in a good location just North of this really good area I'm talking about. And I knew it was really high demand and the rent was $1,000 a month and I wanted it really, really bad. And so it was the best deal I've seen in probably a year and a half because I just watch Zillow and Realtor and Facebook Marketplace all the time. And so I'm like, "I have to have this property." And so we went to the bank and said, "Could we tap the equity in our little bit of equity or the skin of our teeth and the other two properties that we have, and then group all three into one umbrella, one portfolio loan with the three houses?" And then, so the whole, the set of three has that 80, 20 loan devalue, but that individual property, we only have to put 10K in. And so that's how we were able to buy a $64,000 house with $10,000 in costs altogether, including closing costs.

Felipe:
Let me dig into that really quick, Sarah. So what you did was, we're going to call you Sarah, Queen of creative financing. What you did was … So for the listeners that might've lost you somewhere in there because even I was like, "Wait, okay." Because I'm not super Excel or savvy with numbers. My wife takes care of my whole life. I just bring the ideas. So what you did was you got the equity from some real estate you already had, offered it to the bank as leverage plus a little bit of cash towards purchasing another unit?

Sarah:
Yeah.

Felipe:
Okay. That seems simple to me. That’s perfect. So for those listeners that are out there that maybe have their-

Sarah:
It’s like you have a couple thousand dollars extra in one house and a couple of thousand in this one, and then you shove them all together and then it’s like, “Oh look a down payment.”

Felipe:
Yeah. That happens a lot because I think sometimes people forget that they might have some equity in their personal residence or in a one-

Sarah:
It wasn’t very much, but it was just enough.

Felipe:
Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. They can use that to invest in real estate, as long as, you said, the numbers work.

Sarah:
Yeah.

Ashley:
Instead of doing two separate mortgages on those house and then a third on your new one, you’re not paying three closing costs either. You’re just paying that one closing costs for all three of those properties.

Sarah:
Yeah. We didn’t have to pay to reappraise the other two. And then the one property really helped us out because it appraised for almost eight grand more than we bought it for, which was very exciting. And so we didn’t have to reappraise the other two and pay for two other appraisals, but one closing cost was just a really big perk for the three. And we got a better rate than we had on the other two, which was really exciting.

Ashley:
So all around, a lot better.

Sarah:
Yeah. All around, it was a very big win.

Ashley:
Yeah. When I purchased my first property, we did the first two with cash and then we did a portfolio loan and I was always concerned like, “Oh, well, what if we want to sell one?” But that ends up not being a problem at all. You just get the, if it’s been several years and we ended up, we did sell one, you get the appraisal to make sure that you’ve paid down enough of that property, that you can pull that one away. Or if you sell it, you put the proceeds to it. But I haven’t really found any big negatives to doing a portfolio loan.

Sarah:
Right. It’s tricky. And you just have this mission. I’m like, “I have X amount of money and I have these two properties and how do I buy the third one?” And then you let the bank kind of work their magic. You bring them everything and you bring rent comps and everything in and-

Ashley:
What you did was you asked the bank. Did you know what a portfolio loan was and that they could group three? Or did you go to the bank and you asked what they could offer you?

Sarah:
I knew a portfolio loan was a thing from the [inaudible 00:33:01]on Instagram. And so I had heard they had done all of their deals and it was interesting because they do all of theirs separately. They do, so each house is in its own portfolio loan, but it’s held with this private bank. And so I knew they were in love with portfolio loans and they had a lender that would lend up to 80% of the appraised value of the house. And so that’s what I was really hoping for was like, not what I want to buy it for, but can you lend me the appraised value? Because I was hoping to get some side cash to keep going with life and renovating, but still keeping my debt to income a little, somewhat reasonable. And so I didn’t find a bank that would do that.
I talked to two about portfolio loans. I called three, one of them had no idea what I was talking about, but I don't know how reputable the person was on the phone. But they have separate people that do commercial loans at the bank that will sit down and talk to you about it. And so I just brought my net worth statements and my profit and loss and kind of where we're at with the business and what our rent roll was. And all this stuff. And I talked to the [inaudible 00:34:02]. So if anyone's thinking about doing this, you can email me too and I can tell you the list of papers, but really your net worth, your profit and loss, all of your financials, tax returns for the business.
They wanted to see that the business had been in business for two years and we were a little bit shy, but they let that slide because they thought I was nice and prepared or something. And rent rates are really good. And so I kind of went that way. So really, I didn’t really know what exactly I was asking for. I just knew I only have a set amount of dollars in the bank and I would like to buy this house. And if there’s any way possible, I would like to explore that.

Ashley:
And that was the point I was trying to make is it doesn’t hurt to ask. Go and ask people, go and find out. You don’t have to sit there and try to think and come up with the idea yourself, go out and ask because I’ve found creative financing the same way as I want to buy this house, what can you offer me? And then jaw drops as they tell me what they can do for me.

Sarah:
Yeah, exactly. The other fun, sneaky thing I learned about this, unofficially, I was doing … So originally when I was going to buy myself a new house to do a house hack, I was just going to do it with a conventional mortgage. And then I realized it's probably not a great choice because I just don't want to risk the home where me and my daughter will be living through all of this personal uncertainty. And so that's where I learned, lean on the creative. But anyway, I got pre-approved for a mortgage anyway, just everyone I was approaching as an investor, I could tell, "I am credit worthy. Here's my credit score. Here's my preapproval letter. A bank thought I was a reputable human being. You should too."

Ashley:
That is a great idea. Because I love to preach, give your financials, give them as much information as you can, but going and getting pre-approved by the bank first and showing that as part of your package as to why they should lend you money is a great tip.

Sarah:
Yeah. So I had that. But when I went through the process of getting pre-approved, I learned that banks can’t see my portfolio loans, at least from the bank that I have. And that is a sneaky, beautiful thing. So my debt to income ratio was one single family home that had $100,000 mortgage. They couldn’t see that I owned three rental properties at $280,000 in debt. They can’t see that because it’s held in-house and it’s not publicly out there.
And so they’re like, “You have one home that’s really cheap and your W to income is great, we should be friends. I’m like, “This is fantastic, I had no idea.” Because the first time on my application, I wrote out all the rentals and our income and thought it would be such a tedious process. At first they didn’t believe me that I even had the loan because we can’t see them anywhere. Then I learned they can’t see them. It’s a very interesting world out there when you start looking at different creative ways to come at it.

Ashley:
And the more you do, the more experience you get being an investor and taking on these mortgages that you just learn so much more stuff that helps you get better prepared. So if this is someone’s first time going after a mortgage, don’t feel bad if it’s confusing or you’re drowning with how much stuff they want from you and all the paperwork.

Sarah:
And if they email me one more time and they ask for one more paper, I’m going to bang my head against the wall. And you’re like, “This is normal, everyone [crosstalk 00:37:10].

Ashley:
We all go through that, it’s not just you.

Sarah:
My motto for a while is I’m like, “One of these times, I’m going to get everything, all my ducks in a row because I’ve done this how many times? It seems a million, but it really is only six or seven.” But anyway, you feel you’ve done it enough where you’re like, “One of these times, I’m going to get everything and they’re not going to ask me for one paper and it’s never happened.”

Felipe:
After about eight rentals that we have now, we’ve just started a file for the questions and you’re right, I’ve had to keep adding. I’m like, “Okay, I got everything this time. I send it over.” “Hey, what size shoe did you wear in 2000?” I’m like, “Oh, okay. You’re right. Let me go get my shoe size in 2008.” No, I’m just kidding. But seriously, I mean, the banks, and I don’t, honestly, I’ve quickly realized now I just don’t care. I just give them whatever they ask for and sometimes I’m wondering if they’re just asking to see if they can annoy me away from getting this loan because I’m going to get it. So I just, “Hey, what do you need?” This? Got it. Okay. Give me 24 hours you’ll have it.

Sarah:
Being the type A detail oriented person I am, I’m like, “I’m going to do this one time where they don’t ask for anything.” But I swear, they do come back with the dumbest things. I’m like, “Why? The last three loans you’ve never asked for this piece of paper.” But okay. Let me get that for you.

Felipe:
Here it is. Yeah, absolutely. So talking about that, take us … Let’s take this to the next part of the show. Let’s take this to, this part of the show is going to be called the MVP. Okay, Sarah?

Sarah:
Okay.

Felipe:
Can you do it for us? The [crosstalk 00:38:35]. Sarah, would you mind telling us who is a person that has played a very critical role in your business that has helped you or that has mentored you or whatever the case may be through your real estate journey?

Sarah:
I mean, honestly, my new lender is a pretty big component in this whole process and my brand new life I’m building. So I feel they’re my current MVP.

Ashley:
Is this person a real estate investor too?

Sarah:
Yes, somewhat. They have a few different properties.

Ashley:
Yeah. So it makes it even more fun and exciting that you can kind of bounce ideas off.

Sarah:
They’ve never done rentals. They’ve done farmland before, so they have a lot of land that is farmed for them, but this is a whole new animal for them. So it’s a little out of the comfort zone, but still-

Felipe:
Sarah, let me ask you that. How did you pitch this to the lenders?

Sarah:
Oh, man. I set up a formal time because I’m like, “I want it to be, this is a business transaction.” I came with my spreadsheets and I’m like, “I would to go with you through my plan for this property and how this house hack will lead me to not really have any housing expenses next year.” So it’ll really set me and my daughter up for a really good future because we’re not going to be having to pay a mortgage insurance taxes, all that will be paid for by the rental. And so that was a really appealing pitch. So I started out that way and kind of walked through, but I brought my own net worth and everything that we own and our properties and kind of walk them through how we’re doing the management of that and how it’s pretty hands off, even though I have a full time job that supports it. Any other thing is my savings rate is still pretty good.
Even though I’m on my own now, I’m still able to save pretty well and live on a budget. So I honestly brought my budget in, which is, I don’t know if that’s something that was that helpful or not, but just to be like, “I have my ducks in a row and I know this is a risk.” This is my savings, right? So if everything fell apart, I can still pay the mortgage and all the other mortgages off of my income. Just coming prepared with lots of paperwork and lots of numbers and saying why this is a good investment given the current rent rates, I brought my comp spreadsheet so I can tell them I’m not just picking this rent number out of thin air, here are all the properties I’ve ever seen on Facebook Marketplace and Zillow and here’s what they run it for. And here’s kind of some comp information on them. I keep my own spreadsheets of that.

Ashley:
And what made you decide to go with this particular investor? Was it just the interest rate or were there some other things too that made you trust this person and go in business with them?

Sarah:
Probably the interest rate was the biggest thing because it was just a really good situation.

Felipe:
Yeah. That’s all I need

Sarah:
And they were able to move pretty quickly because the market where we’re at is pretty hot. And so I needed someone that had money they could access pretty quickly. So something that was set aside where it was a little more liquid where it wouldn’t require selling other things or that kind of thing. And they were just … I think the market unsteadiness helped a little bit just because coronavirus has made everything kind of unpredictable, and so I think that kind of worked in my favor. But we had a lot of conversations about it. We walked the property twice together before we decided to do the deal. And so it was a lot of decision making and things and making sure this was a good reward for everyone involved. And I wanted to make sure that this is the right bonds are returning and I want to do what that is doing or a little bit better. So that we’re both coming out of the deal in a good way. So mutually beneficial for both parties.

Ashley:
Did you like that they were involved in that part of it? Or would you prefer someone who is more passive? Just writing you the check, here you go, you take care of everything. Send my payment. Let me know when I get all my money back. How was it experiencing that involvement with him?

Sarah:
It was kind of fun. It was interesting. I mean, honestly, I just wanted them to feel really solid with their investment. And so I didn’t really mind. I mean, I’m always like another set of eyes is really helpful when you walk a property. So I’m like, “Let me know if you see anything you’re not sure of, because I’ll make sure to have the inspector look at it.” I’ll make sure to call the building department if you have questions about code type things and just kind of walking through that process. So I didn’t really mind. I’m like, “Come on in.” I think in theory, the ideal person would be very hands off. Like, here’s your check and we’ll do an automatic payment situation, but now I’m on auto pay and they’re pretty hands off now.

Ashley:
Yeah. But if I were someone investing, I would like the investor or the person purchasing the property and borrowing my money to at least offer that to me.

Sarah:
Right. Yeah. Because I’m like, “It’s a big investment. And since it was so different than really, the other investments, they were comfortable with, they were comfortable with like, this is a field and we know how much income it will make.” So really talking about doing it in a different way was something interesting. So I just wanted everyone to feel warm and fuzzy with the situation. So I think it was a good opportunity. I’m sure I’d offer it in the future because it’s fine.

Ashley:
Yeah, it’s great.

Sarah:
After dealing with realtors and banks and things, you’re like, “This person is the least invasive in my life. To think that’s for my kidney it’s fine.” “Come on, walk around my house. It’s good.”

Ashley:
You’re right. And all you had to do is ask.

Sarah:
Yeah. I will say like, “Life is real hard right now, but I would have never done this deal if I wasn’t in this exact situation.” So it’s kind of an awesome moment where like, “Okay, this is where I’m supposed to be and this is where I’m going to go in life and we’re still going to do some awesome real estate things in the future.” And like, “This is such a good first step because I’ve always wanted to do a house hack. And I’m so excited about it.” I don’t know if I’m going to be excited when we share a floor together, but we’ll see.

Ashley:
And that’s just having the right mindset too. I mean, so many people could be in the situation you’re in and take that a different way and you’re turning it into a positive. So that’s great.

Sarah:
I have a really good counselor and a life coach that helped with the mindset, but it worked. It’s horrible to go through. And so anyone kind of in that situation, or even single parents, it’s hard and you’ll figure it out, but you believe in what you’re doing and there’s so many good real estate people cheering for you that you know this business plan works and you can build a business that you can earn your life on and support your lifestyle and your family. So it’s just the added security. I think it’s important too, because I went from a dual income household to a single income household. And so having that security blanket of, “Oh, we save one income and we live off the other one.” And now that’s not the case, I would rather … I would like my real estate business to be my other, that can be my spouse.

Ashley:
That’s a great way to put it. Felipe, you’re always [crosstalk 00:45:00]this episode.

Felipe:
I’m just hanging out in the background. I’m like, you know what, I’m going to let you ladies take this one.

Ashley:
Okay. Well, let’s move onto the next segment where you can give some more great advice. So this is called the Rookie Request Line, and anyone can call in to 18885 rookie and leave a voicemail for Felipe and I, and then our guest. And we will play your question on one of our episodes.

Amanda Scully:
Hi, my name is Amanda Scully. I’m from Essex County, New Jersey. My question is about estimating rehab costs. I’m brand new, so I’ve never done one renovation. How do I determine how much a renovation is going to cost so that I can accurately run my numbers without having any experience? Thank you.

Ashley:
This is a good one.

Sarah:
Okay. So honestly, what I did was, so BiggerPockets is phenomenal and there’s these giant forums and file archives. And so there are people that have shared their rent estimating costs spreadsheets, where they say like, “This is roughly for windows, this is for doors, this is costs for square foot. There’s literally checklists that people put on the BiggerPockets forums that share how other investors estimate rehab costs. And that’s a really good baseline to kind of get started because every property kind of has the same components.
And then as we've walked through home inspections and I've had electricians come out during the inspection process, you could have people, contractors or people who renovate or handymen or electricians come out during the home buying process, your due diligence period and quote out stuff, if you don't understand. So our duplex, for example, we knew the electrical was terrible because we knew that none of the outlets were grounded. And so I had an electrician come out and quote how much it was going to be. And so that really helps.
So if you're uncertain, you can do that in the due diligence process to figure out your estimates. And we're getting a little bit better at estimating costs. I still kind of do a bad job of it. I'm always like, "This'll take $10,000." And my contractor's like, "Or 16." So I think just walking with someone that's experienced if you don't know, and bringing in people that fill in the gaps, but you can get a rough idea from these estimating worksheets on the forums online, which is kind of how I started.

Ashley:
Yeah. And to kind of add on to that, BiggerPockets also has a book on Estimating Rehab Costs by J Scott. And you can get that on biggerpockets.com. But I do remember in episode one of the rookie podcast, we had on Lauren and Kyle from … So you can go to biggerpockets.com/rookie1 to find their show, but they talk about how they use Excel spreadsheets and they actually go to home depot.com or Lowe’s and they pull the numbers like, “Okay, this is going to cost this, we need five of them.” And they at least get their material costs just from looking online at what material costs. And it can, maybe the contractor use gets a discount or anything, but at least that will give you somewhat of an idea. And then at least at my Lowe’s, they always have signs up. You can get this installed by us for $2 a square foot. Well, you can use that as a great starting point, even though it may vary some. Felipe, what’s your advice there.

Felipe:
I’m going to drop a bomb here. So I need everyone to take out your pen and paper. I’m about to blow some minds because clearly this is an Ashley and Sarah podcast and I love it because women power let’s go, but I’m going to drop a bomb here. Are you ready for this guys? Buy at Home Depot. Home Depot will guarantee their price for 90 days. So Sarah, you are an Excel sheet. Amazing, right? So all of your expenses that you do for your rehab, buy them at home Depot, put them on a spreadsheet and in 88 days, email them all of it. And they will, if any of those prices are not the same now, they will send you back gift cards for every single one of them. Just so you know, if you start a spreadsheet, let’s say you bought LVT $20,000 worth of flooring or 10,000 or whatever and that price drops, they will match that price drop.

Ashley:
That is really interesting. I first thought you were going to say like, “Oh, well, their prices stay the same for 90 days. So if you do another rehab before it’s 90 days.” But yeah, you left us speechless, we didn’t know what to say.

Felipe:
That way you can get a ton of your money back.

Sarah:
Currently I have a cart on my computer screen that you can’t see, full of at Lowe’s and now I’m like, “Hmm, I’m going to switch it over to Home Depot now.

Felipe:
And I’m going to add you another one here real quick. You pay it with your credit card, you keep the points for what you spent and then when you get the money back, it’s not like the credit card company goes back and checks that you spent less. So now you’ve made more points on cashback.

Sarah:
Yep.

Felipe:
I’m learning.

Sarah:
Yeah. Look at you.

Felipe:
I wanted to drop that bomb real quick. Anyways-

Sarah:
[inaudible 00:49:52]if you’re involved in the podcast.

Felipe:
A little bit.

Sarah:
Dropping the boom.

Felipe:
I am okay with taking the backseat. This is amazing, Sarah. On a serious note, wow. I mean, that’s all I can say. I mean, with what you’re going through and still crushing this deal and this goal, I’m so proud of you. I think that’s amazing. Thanks for letting us know about your MVP and how important that is. I think mostly also is how prepared you are for every meeting that you’re going to.

Sarah:
Very prepared.

Felipe:
Yeah. I mean, it’s amazing. I’m like, “Okay, this is great.” Like, “I need to be more prepared for my meetings to maybe get quicker into the deal by having as much information as I can.” But we’re going to move on to a segment of our show, we’re going to ask you a couple of questions where we want to get to know you just a little bit more so that our listeners can kind of know who Sarah is. I’m going to kick it off with a question that I think I know the answer to, but what are, I’m going to say three, can you give us three pieces of tech that you cannot run your business without?

Sarah:
My phone, for sure. Honestly, with the baby, your AirPods, which sounds ridiculous. I’ve made fun of people that had them slightly before, because I’m like, “Oh, you just have them on your ear.” But with kids, I can do a lot of things with these in, and it’s fantastic or on our evening walks or something. So AirPods probably. And-

Felipe:
Excel sheets.

Ashley:
What about even like an app?

Sarah:
Apps specifically or hardware?

Felipe:
Yeah. What about your apps?

Ashley:
You could do an app.

Sarah:
I recently started using Avail, which is something that people don't talk about that much. So it's like Cozy, only it's a property management software, but it's cheaper than Buildium, but you can still do electronic leases. And so I've started to use Avail a lot and I've really, really enjoyed them because they do state specific lease forms. You can send your lead based disclosures through it. It adds all the state specific clauses because I have property in Michigan and Indiana now. And so I didn't have to buy a second set of lease forms for a new state and I can do all my rent collection through them and I can pre-screen and do all of that stuff too. So they're my favorite right now.

Ashley:
I’ve seen them on Instagram. I haven’t looked into, I mean, I’m not property managing anymore, but I still like to look at different software.

Sarah:
Yeah, it's really good. It's like a Cozy advanced. I think Cozy is a little more user friendly and its platform still, but Avail's pretty close second. And they have a really good blog forums where they post hot topics and they do webinars too, just on landlord things like clauses you should include in your lease but it's been really helpful to have all of their systems in place, especially with COVID because people were freaking out about like, how do you do showings and how do you do pre-fill out this application and how do you collect rent and how do you do your leases? And I'm like, "I already do everything electronically and it's all held in this pretty software." So I'm a really big fan of electronic leases. But I'm like, "I didn't want to DocuSign it and then have to hop around and do all the things. I just wanted it in one place. So really the only thing I'm lacking is I still do my bookkeeping in Excel.

Ashley:
That’s an app too? Avail is an app too, right? So you can just do a lot of it right from your phone.

Sarah:
Yeah.

Ashley:
Okay. So my question for you is since you have a great Instagram account with great content, I know that you’ll be able to easily answer this question, who are some people in real estate that we should follow on Instagram?

Sarah:
Definitely, Felipe and Ashley. No, but you guys are fantastic to network with, and I’m really glad I got to meet Felipe. Ashley and I have to meet someday. I feel like it’s almost weird.

Ashley:
I know.

Sarah:
I knew Ashley before Felipe, but me and Felipe have hung out in Nashville. So someday we’re going to connect and go full circle, but absolutely love you guys. And I’m always really inspired by … I mean, Felipe got me interested in these walkout basement remodels. So I feel like I wouldn’t … Between the lending and the walkout basement, I wouldn’t be where I am without kind of knowing that network. And so it’s really important to have you guys, so thanks for always answering my texts and video calls. Felipe even did a walkthrough me at one of my properties. I’m like, “Will this plumbing support a new bathroom?” Thanks.

Felipe:
Great. Now I’m going to get a 10,000-

Sarah:
Okay. You can stop flattering us and tell us some others.

Felipe:
No, keep going.

Sarah:
I follow Mindful Money Coaches. They’re big Dave Ramsey people, but they’re also real estate investors and they’ve done some interesting financing strategies as well. And so I’ve been networking with them a lot. Lauren and Kyle, who you referenced from your first episode, so wealth from rentals-

Ashley:
Rentals to Wealth.

Sarah:
You guys have offices on your name. And so they’re wonderful. I talk to them a lot. The Stealthy Rich, talk with them. There’s a bunch of people. We have a whole little group of … I have a side group that I talk to and message about real estate. Being Determined, Jay from Being Determined is really, really good. He’s a little more experienced with investing. And I think he’s doing some long distance deals potentially, but he’s down in Florida and he’s just, for mindset, he’s a really good account to follow also because he does a lot of positivity and kind of thinking about deals and kind of building the life you want through what you’re doing next.
But there’s just a ton of good things on Instagram. So investorgirlbritt is really good. I follow her. There’s a lot of ladies that are really good at DIY. And I’m like, “I think I just need more fun tools and things to play with like saws in my garage. So I can try to build some stuff.” Because it’s amazing what people are doing on Instagram. I’m like, “Let me just lay some tile today.” No, but I think there’s a lot more, there’s some awesome people out there on Instagram right now that are sharing their real estate journey. Oh, and Real Estate Old school is also really good to follow.

Ashley:
Oh, yes.

Sarah:
He’s another favorite.

Felipe:
He’s one that when I’m feeling down, I go to his IG page and I love his idea because he’s always got this giant cigar in his mouth.

Ashley:
He’s a classic.

Felipe:
I love it. If you do his videos, they’re this close to his face. I mean, he takes up the whole screen, but he gives some bombs, man. He gives some really good nuggets in his stuff.

Sarah:
Yeah. And the hard part is he doesn’t give video every day. And so like, I want to listen to everything, but I don’t have the bandwidth. And I’m like, and you never know which video will be the most amazing wisdom in. One day he’s just talking about cigars and his grandkids. The next one, it’s everything you needed to know about vinyl plank flooring. And I’m like, “I needed to actually know this while I was purchasing, trying to figure out what the difference between waterproof and 100% waterproof is exactly.”

Felipe:
Yeah. Sarah, thanks for letting us know. I mean, great IG pages to follow. Thanks for letting us know exactly what tools you use to kind of manage. We’re super excited to see you get through this property. We got to get you back on the show to kind of give us an overview of how everything turned out, which I’m sure it’s going to be amazing. And you’re probably going to have so many more units. So I’m super excited for you, kudos to everything that you’re doing. Is there anything else that you would to add? You’ve added so much value to our listeners ears. Is there anything else before we run out of here?

Sarah:
Yeah, just stay tuned. Hopefully we’ll have, we’ll put the room back together. So we have ceiling and floor demos, so I’m very excited to kind of follow the progress and kind of see where life goes in the next year. So I think there’s really big things ahead and I’m very excited. So it should be great.

Ashley:
Yeah. Please share with everyone where they can follow you to watch you go through this journey.

Sarah:
Yeah. So I am at Nerds Guide to FI or fire or financial independence. So @nerdsguidetoFI on Instagram, I have a podcast under the same name, I have a blog kind of on all the different modalities. I even have a Pinterest page where I pin rental property inspiration and stuff. So that’s kind of fun.

Ashley:
She’s not busy at all.

Sarah:
Literally, I put my baby to bed and do work on my social stacks though. Definitely come check it out. I’m most active on Instagram. That’s probably the best place to find me. And I do answer every DM I get. So feel free to shoot me a message if you have questions.

Ashley:
Yeah. Well, thank you so much for being on the show today. Everyone’s going to take a ton of value from what you said and thank you for being so open and honest with us about your journey. It’s definitely going to inspire a lot of people.

Sarah:
Well, I’m sure there’s a lot of people that have been through some crap and I just wanted to share that you can survive and make it, and this is my learning to survive. And some days it absolutely sucks. And other days you’re like, “This is great. I’m so excited for what the future holds.” And hopefully more of those days to come versus the crapy ones. And I think a lot of people can relate to that because it’s not always happy and sunshine and rainbows. It’s just trying to keep it real over here.

Ashley:
Well, thank you for sharing with us. I am Ashley Kehr @wealthfromrentals and he’s Felipe Mejia @felipemejiarei.

Watch the Podcast Here

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In This Episode We Cover:

  • How Sarah changed her mindset about “good debt”
  • 15-year vs. 30-year mortgages
  • The data and documents she shares with potential lenders
  • House hacking by turning her basement into a rental
  • Unlocking “the power of a cash offer” with private money
  • Tapping the equity on multiple properties at once
  • The loan that’s invisible to other banks
  • Using checklists to estimate rehab costs (even when you’re brand new)
  • Using Avail to manager her rentals
  • And SO much more!

Links from the Show

Rookie Deal

  • Purchase Price: $64,000
  • Financed through a Portfolio Loan
  • Current Rent: $$985

Sarah’s MVPs

Books Mentioned in this Show:

Connect with Sarah:

Ready to go take action? Every Wednesday, the Real Estate Rookie Podcast will arm you with tips, tools, and inspiration to help you launch your real estate investing career. Hosts Ashley Kehr and F...
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