BiggerPockets Podcast 105 with Ophelia Nicholson Transcript

Link to show: BP Podcast 105: From Minimum Wage to Full Time Flipper with Ophelia Nicholson

Josh: This is the BiggerPockets podcast, show 105.

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Josh: What’s going on everybody? This is Josh Dorkin host of the BiggerPockets podcast here with my co-host Brandon Turner. What’s up Brandon?

Brandon: Hey Josh, how are you doing?

Josh: How the heck are you?

Brandon: I’m sick, again. Still.

Josh: You need to stop eating organic and start eating just a whole load of crap.

Brandon: I know I’m heathiest either on planet earth and I’m like always got a cold. That’s okay I’m going on vacation in a week from now I will be in beautiful sunny Hawaii.

Josh: Must be nice.

Brandon: It’s going to be amazing and not going to be talking to you in a week.

Josh: I don’t know what that word is so I don’t quite understand it – the concept.

Brandon: You need to do that sometimes.

Josh: Yes, I know. Alright. Listen today we’ve got a really cool show I’m super excited but before we go there let’s do todays Quick Tip.

Brandon: Being that it is 2015 Josh and I are actually doing some new ideas with podcast here at BiggerPockets and one of those is weekly trivia contest. Quick tip today is try to listen to the podcast when it comes out, don’t wait weeks and weeks and weeks because you won’t be able to get into trivia stuff. Every week there is a new contest so each week we are going to ask each listeners out there to answer a simple question about last week’s show and email your answers to [email protected] and you might win digital and audio version of The Book on Investing on Real Estate with No and Low Money Down.

Josh: Wait a second. Did you pick the prize out?

Brandon: I did pick the prize out.

Josh: What a shocker.

Brandon: It’s a good prize. People love that.

Josh: It’s a great prize and it is a great book.

Brandon: People are going to love it. If you want a copy of that just answer this trivia question email it to [email protected]

On last podcast we interviewed Todd Whiddon on scaling up your business so you can lead incredible life, awesome episode and on that show Todd mentioned that he thought business skills to aspiring entrepreneurs in what European country? If you know answer to that or you want to go back and listen just send it to [email protected] and you might win that PDF and audio version of The Book on Investing in Real Estate with no or low money down.

Josh: Nice. Good job. Nice promo, that was awesome.

Brandon: Thank you.

Josh: With that why don’t we go to the show? This is the show 105, you can find show notes at and also if you are one of our listeners and have yet to live us a rating or review on iTunes you can do that also via the link on the show notes at and we definitely appreciate all those ratings and reviews. They help us get the word out.

Today’s guest is Ophelia Nicholson. Ophelia is an amazing woman, she’s funny, she’s bold she is making things happen and this is somebody who bought their first house while making minimum wage. This is somebody who never said I can’t do it. Somebody who has been inspirational and inspiring her story is amazing. She’s great and she’s running a successful business currently doing I believe six projects flips right now simultaneously you’ve got to hear this. I’m super excited to bring her on so let’s take it to the show.

Ophelia Welcome to the show, it is very, very good to have you.

Ophelia: Thanks Brandon and Josh. I’m so happy to be here.

Josh: See she started with you. Nobody likes me.

Brandon: Nobody likes Josh. We had a good time in the sound check today with Ophelia. This is going to be fun show. I’m looking forward to this. You have a fascinating story from what I know but you got started with almost you weren’t making a lot of money, you moved from out of the country and 2014 was a great year for you. From what I heard. Let’s hit all that stuff today. Josh you want to start us off?

Josh: Yes. Ophelia let’s talk about what Brandon just mentioned. Where did you come from and why did you come and when was it?

Ophelia: It’s not going to be very long story.

Josh: That was great.

Ophelia: Actually I came from Jamaica in ‘99 and I had 400 bucks in my pocket and eight month old baby and I thought I was rich. I came to US, stayed with my family for couple of years, probably two years and in 2001 I bought my first house.

Josh: Where did you move to, in what part of the country was your family?

Ophelia: I’m in Maryland.

Josh: Okay you came to Maryland with 400 bucks in your pocket from Jamaica with baby.

Brandon: That $399 more than what Josh has in his pocket.

Josh: I don’t have a lot in my pockets. That’s right. You came here and you bought first house in 2001? Two years later. Unbelievable. Before we even go there what were you doing at that time? This is what I think is pretty fascinating. You were working in real estate business.

Ophelia: Right. I became a mortgage processor right after I came here. My very first job I learned about credits, assets, pretty much everything and then bought my first house.

Brandon: What does a mortgage processor do?

Ophelia: You send in your application to apply for the mortgage and we pretty much do everything that loan officer doesn’t do.

Josh: You pretty much handle most of the work the bulk of the heavy lifting and loan officer does the selling and maybe try the rest of it and gets all the riches while you guys as loan processors you were making what 150,000 – what were you making?

Ophelia: At the time I was making 14,000.

Josh: You were making $14,000 a year as a mortgage processor?

Ophelia: Yes. My very first year I was making 14,000 and I bought my first house.

Josh: First off, we are going to get to the house, anybody in the landing business listening this is crap. Absolute crap the fact that somebody who is processing loans and making $14,000 a year is a travesty. Its complete travesty, it’s crazy, it blows my mind that even possible. I don’t know. I’m stuck I can’t say anything.

Ophelia: But you have to also look at it was my very first year, my very first job I didn’t know much about business so I was making minimum wage.

Josh: You were making minimum wage and you bought a house. I thought that was not possible.

Ophelia: Well it was possible for me so it’s possible for other people.

Josh: Why don’t we talk about that? How on earth was that possible?

Ophelia: My house was really small.

Josh: Awesome. You bought a small house, obviously, tell us how it went down and if you would be willing to go into some detail that would be great.

Ophelia: I don’t know that I remember ton of details now it’s been 14 years but I had great credit at the time because that’s all we did every day credit, so I had great credit, 14 grand and don’t think I had a lot of reserves. First time home buyer so I just got a mortgage.

Josh: Was it like FAG?

Ophelia: FAG. I think back in 2001 I think it was conventional. My very first mortgage was conventional with PMI.

Brandon: Back then they used to give mortgagees and loans freely than they do today.

Ophelia: Definitely. It wasn’t as tight as it is now.

Brandon: Do you recommend people today go in that route – if they don’t make a lot of money should they buy their first house or why not and when and when not.

Ophelia: I think you should. I think it was defiantly education to buy my first house to figure out how I’m going to make that work off of that small income. I think if you are responsible you definitely should buy your first house even if you don’t make a lot of money.

Josh: Fair enough. You bring unique perspective as a loan processor, you are no the not approving the loans but you are kind of looking them over, right?

Ophelia: Correct.

Josh: I’m assuming as that person you probably saw somewhat trough funnel which ones are better, which ones are worse. I’m sure you talked to loan officers and they yelled at you stop giving me these and give me these and that kind of thing. Is that right?

Ophelia: Well I yelled at them.

Josh: Okay.

Ophelia: I yelled at them I can’t believe you would send this stuff but that was usually it wasn’t necessarily people who had low income but it was mainly people who had low credit, stuff like that that came through that I can’t believe you send this to me.

Josh: For those people whether they’re investors or regular home owners can you, and this wasn’t the intent of the show but since we’ve got you I figure it would be worth asking, what does somebody need to have before they go and apply for that loan? Particularly the first time home buyers and let’s take a step further regardless whether they are making minimum wage.

Ophelia: I think first thing you need to do is make sure you’ve got decent credit or great credit and then one of the things I find even with flips that I do now is a lot of people don’t have money saved. I would say save some money and there are so many first time homebuyer programs there is triple play that just came out where you get 20,000 in Maryland. There is so many things to facilitate you buying a home I don’t see why anybody wouldn’t.

Brandon: I think you bring an interesting point. Those programs they sound like they’re Maryland specific, right?

Ophelia: I think some of them are Maryland specific but I think some of them are over the country.

Brandon: Interesting thing is there are so many loan programs to help you especially first time home buyer in every state in every city just something to check into if you are looking to get into your first house there is probably a program or two out there that applies to you. Do you have any recommendations on how people can find those?

Ophelia: I do not at this moment but I will look it up.

Josh: It’s all good. Now you’ve got another job – helping people find all these programs. Good job Brandon.

Brandon: I think that’s the truth if they are in Maryland they can send you private message on BiggerPockets and say “Hey I’m looking to buy my first deal I know you are in Maryland and you did it. How can I do it?” if they are in Washington they can message me and say “Do you know any good curb loans in Washington?” it really can be as simple as that.

Josh: This property was intended as your personal residence, correct?

Ophelia: Correct.

Josh: How did you transition from that to hey I want to be a real estate investor. I want to start buying some properties, flipping houses doing whatever we are about to learn about you – how did that all go down?

Ophelia: Now my start gets interesting.

Josh: It wasn’t interesting before by the way.

Ophelia: I bought my first house in 2001 and in 2002 I bought my second house. The very next year I decided I was going to buy another house but this time I was going to live in it and it ended up being accidental landlord. Some people came to look at my house they thought my small house was too small, needed repairs so bought it with intention of renting it to them. Then they sued me for 15 grand.

Brandon: Really?

Ophelia: Yes.

Josh: I’m confused. Let’s zip it back a little bit. You live in this little tiny box house you bought in 2001, right? How bit was that?

Ophelia: I still live here so it probably 800 square feet. It’s like two bedroom one bath and downstairs its living room, dining room and the kitchen.

Josh: I’ve heard of smaller. It’s not tiny, tiny.

Brandon: I lived in 450 square foot squares.

Ophelia: Now you are just showing off.

Josh: He’s like 9ft2.

Brandon: I could lay across entire house.

Josh: You are in this little house. Second house you met someone who wanted to rent out your house? I guess I’m little confused, clarify it for me a little bit for me.

Ophelia: I got a real estate agent and he was showing me house because at the time I was making more money, thought I move to bigger house. He had some clients who were looking for house to rent. He thought it would be great idea to show them my house since I was going to vacate it.

Josh: The one you are in right now?

Ophelia: Right. They came and saw the small house and they thought it was just too small for them. While we were looking for properties for me to live in I came upon a property was 87,000 and they pretty much came over, saw it, idea came to me what if they came over and rented it from me for $100. They came over, saw it, liked it, I had to do a rehab on and that’s how it started. Got them under contract to rent it, bought a house, did a rehab and they came and spent one night in the house and sued me for 15,000.

Josh: I don’t understand.

Brandon: Maybe didn’t like the paint color or something.

Ophelia: I’m cutting a story a little bit short. Rehab went about two and a half month’s because at the time it was my first time to rehab. Rehab went on for two and a half months. They kept coming to see the rehab so they were pressed about what was going on and how the property was fixed up. Night before everything was done the carpets were being put in and they just called out of the blue and said they had nowhere to say if I could let them say in the living room. They knew the rest of the house wasn’t carpeted. We carpeted next day. I was kind and I was like sure come and stay the night because you don’t have anywhere to say and in the morning we’ll get carpet finished and that’s just how it happened.

Josh: What was the grounds for the suit?

Ophelia: They took pictures of the house so that night they came in with that one room carpeted they took pictures of the house and tried to play it off that I was slum landlord.

Josh: Interesting.

Brandon: So they were trying to take advantage of you. Came in the house that wasn’t finished and took pictures.

Josh: Then you are a slum lord putting them in a property that was under terrible conditions.

Ophelia: Right. Next day I came and finished the carpeting and I had another tenant who came and stayed two years, didn’t do anything else to the property.

Josh: Did you lose that $15,000 lawsuit?

Ophelia: I lost $3,500. The judge awarded them $3,500 at it ruined my credit for many, many years.

Josh: What did we learn here? This is he show we’ve got lots of people listening don’t get scared there is I think enough people to fill a stadium.

Ophelia: that’s okay. The story gets better at the end.

Josh: We want to hear that too. What kind of lesson if I’m brand new landlord and I say Ophelia I heard you got sued by this guy and it sounds horrible how do I make sure that it doesn’t happen to me?

Ophelia: I think first off all you shouldn’t be letting people in your house if it’s not completely finished. That’s number one. Secondly you really have to do your background and make sure the people that are coming to you really aren’t just scam artists who wanted to take advantage of somebody.

Josh: I am sorry that you went through that.

Ophelia: I’m not sorry.

Josh: You made a mistake, It happened, you didn’t know any better but now you’ve learned from it and now 40,000 are going to learn from your lesson as well and hopeful the less those mistakes happen and this guys who are out there trying to take advantage of new landlords hopefully can’t get away with it easily.

Ophelia: I’m not sorry. I think it was great.

Josh: I would have enjoyed that. You are going to court tomorrow. Awesome, that’s great.

Ophelia: Not in that sense but looking back it was just one of those lessons that I needed to learn.

Brandon: I think that any of those things makes you a better investor later on. You said the story became better. So what happened after that deal?

Ophelia: On not that deal.

Brandon: Oh your story.

Josh: Yeah, let’s talk how her life went downhill and downhill and then we are going to go. Thank you so much.

You became accidental landlord, you ended up with that property, and you kept next tenants for two years. You shook it off it sounds like and said I’ll keep going. What did you end up doing next after that?

Ophelia: Next year I bought another house. By the time we ended up going to the court for 15,000 I had three houses but the court case messed up as far as my credit for probably about seven years and I did dumb stuff. At one point I was losing all three house so right around 2005-2006 I ended up selling other two houses and moving back to my small house. I was out of real estate for probably four years.

Josh: Why did you lose those houses? What happened?

Ophelia: I did dumb stuff.

Josh: You are on with Josh and Brandon. We admitted to countless dumb things. It’s time for you to open up. What dumb things if anyone in real estate can say they haven’t made stupid mistake they’re lying to you. What dumb stuff did you do here that you hopefully you want to talk about. I’m not pressuring you.

Ophelia: That’s fine. I quit my job and I was pregnant.

Josh: That was dumb.

Ophelia: Yes, I know.

Josh: You quit your job because you wanted to become a full time real estate person.

Ophelia: No I quit my job because I thought I could process mortgages by myself, I can open up processing company. That didn’t work out so well.

Brandon: I’m sure the market collapse didn’t help, too. Was that involved in that?

Ophelia: Actually no. I missed the market collapse. I was out of real estate before the market collapsed. By 2005-2006 I sold one property, made 86,000 sold another property made 87,000 so I was totally out.

Josh: Was the next one 88,000?

Ophelia: No. the next one the really small house I’m still in it.

Josh: I’m just messing with you.

Brandon: You set out the decline which is great probably that you missed on that and you got back in to the real estate at some point. Can you tell us that story how did you get back into real estate investing game?

Ophelia: Right around 2010 I thought I’ve been out for long enough and I started to think what has made me money in my life. It was real estate. I thought maybe it’s time for me to start buy another rental property. In 2010 I was looking for another rental property and while I was looking I noticed that there were people buying houses for 40-50,000, fixing them up and they were reselling them for 100-150 and I thought oh my god that’s awesome. Why didn’t I think of that? I bought my first rental property and then my uncle was general contractor. I thought I had a mortgage background and I know how to do FHA, VA’s and all those loans and he has the construction background so it would be really great if we teamed up and did flips.

Brandon: Is that you did?

Ophelia: That’s what we did. It took me about six months to convince him. We did our first flip in 2011.

Josh: You decided against buy and hold and now you are going straight into flips?

Ophelia: Right.

Josh: 2011 – what does that first flip look like?

Ophelia: That first flip is down to stumps. Replaced everything in that house except the roof.

Josh: What did you pay for it, how much did it cost you, what did you walk away for and how long did it take?

Ophelia: The very first flip at the time I didn’t know anything about hard money, I didn’t know anything about private money. We put together the cash, we bought for 62,900, we paid 70,000 in rehab and we sold it for 191,500.

Josh: It’s not bad.

Brandon: You made some good money.

Ophelia: We made decent money for that first year.

Brandon: Where is that located? This is in Maryland?

Ophelia: This is in Maryland.

Brandon: I didn’t know they had cheaper prices there. I have no idea of the market there but I assumed it was like New York or something 500,000 for 800 square foot house. It’s not like that?

Ophelia: No. In DC it is but I’m in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

Brandon: Is that more rural.

Ophelia: I wouldn’t say rural it’s probably ten minutes outside of DC.

Josh: Ten minutes outside of the capitol of the greatest country on planet earth you can find house for $50,000 which proves that there isn’t location on planet earth you can’t live and find reasonably priced property to fix, flip, buy and hold, you name it within an hour or two. It just proves it, again.

Brandon: Is this like how bad is this? Is it a bad neighborhood or good neighborhood or is it ghetto? I don’t know the area at all.

Ophelia: Actually it was decent neighborhood and we already had that was neighborhood that I had primary residence it, I had coupe of rentals in, my uncle had a couple of rentals in so I was somewhere where we were familiar with.

Josh: Which is another great tip by the way. Make sure you invest where you know.

Ophelia: Right. Flipping in my own backyard.

Josh: That’s awesome.

Brandon: That a good title.

Josh: How long did it take that actual flip from open to close?

Ophelia: That flip took a very long time. We started in January, I think we didn’t have it on the market until August. It sold right away, we had multiple offers in the first three days and it sold within months. I was probably September.

Josh: When you gave those $70,000 in rehab is that your holding costs and cost of money and everything else or was that just materials and labor?

Ophelia: We didn’t have any holding cost because we bought it with cash.

Josh: Oh you guys paid cash. Okay.

Ophelia: Yes. What happened was my uncle came up with 20,000, I came up with 20,000 and I was engaged at the time and he came up 20,000 and we kind of put it together. Then we funded the rehab. Everybody should not do this. We funded the rehab with credit cards and just getting paid and using that money but you shouldn’t do that.

Josh: Why not?

Brandon: That’s actually the question I had for the fire round so let’s hit that now. Credit cards – let’s talk about them.

Ophelia: If you have the money you are getting continual income that you are able to pay its one thing but if you are just doing it on a whim it’s going to sell and I’m going to be able to pay it off I don’t think that’s a great idea.

Brandon: I did that once. It wasn’t. I told the story a bunch of times. House that I bought and it took me two years to buy, fix up, sell and in that process I used credit card for repairs.

Ophelia: How did that work out for you?

Brandon: I broke even after two sold years including year of actual physical labor I lost a whole from my life. I mean I learned a lot of stuff. I learned how to build a staircase. That was cool.

Josh: How many people have fallen through those stairs since then?

Brandon: Thaw as the best looking staircase. I’m going to find a picture, I’m going to put it in the show notes at

Ophelia: I think you are right. I think it was the best looking staircase.

Brandon: It was the best looking staircase when I drop $150,000 to unload that house. I felt pretty good about it, too.

Josh: Ophelia, you close your first flip successfully, you blew everybody away with it. That’s awesome. Then things really started to heat up and I know last year you just kicked backside. Why do you think 2014 was so great for you and tell us about it? Tell us what happened in 2014 and how many deals did you do?

Ophelia: In 2014 I sold seven and but I carried over six to the New Year. New year ‘15. I still had six in my inventory coming into the New Year.

Brandon: Last couple of years have been super powerful for you. From what it sounds like.

Ophelia: What happened was in 2013 I ended partnership with my uncle and went on my own. We were doing flips but we were doing one a year.

Josh: He didn’t put cows head in your bed or anything did he?

Ophelia: No.

Josh: Godfather style.

Ophelia: I think that’s Italian, we are Jamaican.

Josh: What do you guys do?

Ophelia: We probably put some food.

Josh: I woke up in the bed of patties. What?

Ophelia: Exactly.

Josh: Oh man you pissed somebody off. Jamaican patty, stuff like that. Scary stuff. Why did you separate from him, I’m just really curious on that?

Ophelia: We were doing one flip a year and I thought we had a really great product, every flip we put on the market the very last one we did it was on the market five days and we had five offers. For every day it was on the market we had an offer. I thought we had a really great product but our timelines were just too long. We were holding houses for eight months at the time, we were picking six months just to do a rehab. He had quit his job and the company was now paying for him to be self-employed but the rehabs weren’t getting any faster and it was just overall I felt it was a bad partnership.

Brandon: Can I just ask you, I don’t know if he is going to listen to this so I don’t want to make it awkward.

Ophelia: He knows it’s true.

Josh: What she said I missed that?

Brandon: He knows it’s true. Is it awkward now? Working with family and friends one of the downside of doing it is that after the deal is done if the deal don’t go right family and friends can be awkward. Is it awkward for you guys now?

Ophelia: No. he calls me and has like “I’m doing gone flip a year can you come and buy my lights or pick on this or pick on that?” and I go do it. When it first happened it was really horrible. It was one of those everybody starts thinking they are getting robed, everybody wants to you pull out the books and show where the money went. I was really bad when it first happened.

Josh: I’m glad it worked out and I’m always family and friends first and worry about the business later. I try not to get into business with my relatives out of fear of that. It’s scary but I’m glad things improved for you guys.

Did you get a new partner, did you continue on your own or you’ve plugging away now? What’s the deal?

Ophelia: Now it comes when I quit my job the second time. Like I said in 2013 I separated from my uncle and then I made a goal. My goal was I was going to quit my job in three months and be a full time investor. A month passed, nothing was happening. I wasn’t getting anything done, noting had changed. Then I said okay I need a new goal. My new goal was in 30 days I’m going to quit my job and be a full time investor. What I needed to do to get that done was get 15 houses under contract. Probably two weeks later I’ve done 15 houses under contract and my job was making me sick and I gave my resignation and went on my own. Once there I was like “I’m on my own I need to really make things happen now.”

Josh: You’ve got to explain this to me. Up until this point how many real estate deals had you done?

Ophelia: Up until this point I’ve done my thee that were me buying two rents and then me and my uncle and I did three and I had done my one rental property. Up until this point I had done seven total.

Josh: You’ve done seven at that time. You said I need 15 under contract.

Ophelia: Which is really scary.

Josh: At what time period did you do that?

Ophelia: That was 30 days.

Josh: In 30 days you put 15 properties under contract to purchase.

Ophelia: Yes.

Josh: You’ve got to tell me, you’ve got a big set of brass ones by the way, I don’t know if that works for the female, but that’s bold.

Ophelia: Go big or go home, right?

Josh: You went big. What did you do with those 15 properties? We have to hear what happened. Did you wholesale or did you flip them or are you holding them? How did you knock them off?

Ophelia: I did not buy all 15. I have to clarify that. I did not buy all 15. I did get them under contract but I didn’t buy all 15. Of course once you’re on your own you start wondering do I have enough money to buy all of this stuff. Some of them I bought by myself and one of them I said okay I want to buy this don’t have enough cash and I eventually went back to my uncle and said “What are you doing, do you want to come and join me on this one particular property?” that’s how we got back talking.

Josh: Did he end up coming in?

Ophelia: He did.

Josh: Don’t ever destroy a relationship, right?

Ophelia: Yes. He did end up coming in and we did do that one together. It was still a bad idea.

Josh: C’mon. This poor uncle is still getting dragged.

Ophelia: Don’t listen to this.

Brandon: I want to ask couple of question on quitting your job thing. You quit your job once before and then you realized maybe that was not smart idea and you went back to work again. Then you quit your job second time. I’m assuming the second time worked out a lot better. Can you talk about that? When should someone listening to the show when should they quit their job? Why do you think second time was successful and the first time wasn’t? What differentiated those two?

Ophelia: Second time I had money.

Brandon: That is a really good answer.

Ophelia: I had money to be able to buy my deals but I also had money to be able to live. I could live for a year if things didn’t work out. I think that was the difference. The first time I was just quitting because I can do this by myself and I really hadn’t given it much thought. Second time I was more prepared. I knew I'm going to need X amount of money the first house is probably not going to sell for first three or four months so I need to be able to survive. I need to be able to fund a flip I need to be able to buy other stuff so I had money.

Brandon: I think that’s smart. I think too many quit their job too early. I’m all for quitting your job, I love that idea but obviously you have to have a plan behind that and usually money is big part of that. I quit my job three times in my life now where I said I'm never having one again and each time I went back for some reason. Flipping didn’t work out or whatever and I don’t know. I think that’s cool you did that and that you had first experience and second to compare and contrast that.

Quit your job, flipping houses. How many have you done now in the last years since then?

Ophelia: Since living my uncle like I said I came into New Year with six. Right now I'm doing six rehabs at the same time. Then I sold seven last year and then my plan through the end of the year is to do 30.

Brandon: That’s great. I love that you’re setting big goals. We talked about that before and there is a book I read called 10X buying and it’s all about that. You set big goals for you not I want to do one flip next year. You set big goals so that’s awesome.

Josh: She’s not only setting big goals but she’s taking big steps to do that.

Brandon: Big goas are useless unless you take the steps to do that.

Josh: How are you rehabbing six properties at once? I was going to say you are like a baby who decided she’s going to run a marathon. I just started walking I'm going to run a marathon tomorrow. Cool. You do it baby. How are you rehabbing six properties at once?

Ophelia: I don’t know. I guess it’s called one woman shop so I am a realtor, the designer and the project manager.

Josh: Do you have six crews or do you use one crew? How are you doing rehab?

Ophelia: There are three different sets of crews running right now. One of them is rehabbing friend of mine, Derek’s property then we go in and out. There is another property in addition being put on the back so there will be drywall that comes in, plumbers, different subs that come in.

Brandon: Two question for you. How are you finding contractors you’re dealing with and the second is how are you financing all this stuff?

Ophelia: Financing hard money at the moment. Contractors just trough referrals I just basically have to sit on everybody.

Brandon: Let’s talk about that. What do you mean by sit on everyone?

Ophelia: One of the problems I had my uncle, I don’t mean physically sit on, the fact that rehabs were talking so long. I'm looking MLS and there are people that are doing rehabs in 30 days. Why can’t I do rehabs in 30 days? That was the first mark getting rehabs done in that 30 day timeline. Siting on that basically means I know usually by the day I buy I have dumpsters delivered, I have plumber ready to come in, I have electrical ready to come in, demo is starting to come in – I make sure everything is ordered in the timeline.

Josh: You are not messing around. You’ve got six going, you’ve got three crews which means three of your properties aren’t being touched which is money out of the pocket, money in the pocket of the hard money lender, right?

Ophelia: Right.

Josh: In retrospect are you scaled well enough to be doing six properties at this point or do you still, I'm not trying to make you look or feel bad I just want, seeing there is three properties sitting there I bet you crunching your teeth and saying I want this done.

Ophelia: I am and I'm not all at the same breath. When I made that goal for 30 properties I thought to myself when I'm doing seven it’s easy to do one rehab and not have anything sit. In order to do 30 you are going to have stuff that is going to sit and you just have to be okay with that. But if the rehab is in 30 days then one house is not going to be sitting more than 30 days.

Josh: You could get more crews but now you’re managing additional crews, managing all these extra people and it gets more complicated.

Ophelia: Definitely. Right now it’s kind of hard I need three different sets of windows, I need three different sets of cabinets, just juggling everything.

Brandon: You mentioned hard money. For people who don’t know what that is can you explain that and at least share how you found hard money lender?

Ophelia: I actually found my hard money lender trough Derek who I met on BiggerPockets.

Brandon: Nice.

Ophelia: BiggerPockets has been awesome.

Brandon: That does that mean? What does a hard money lender do?

Ophelia: He pretty much lends me the money at very expensive cost to buy the house.

Brandon: What kind of rates and fees do you pay for hard money?

Ophelia: Right now my hard money lender is giving me 70% REV and he’s doing 4.5% up front and 14.5% interest every month.

Brandon: People who don’t know what hard money is are probably shocked right now and just picked off the floor but those are pretty normal rates for hard money. People can learn more about it if they pick up my book.

Josh: Really?

Brandon: Now you know why I brought my hard money question. How am I going to give a link and not seem as a plug?

Ophelia: You can shamelessly plug that’s okay. It’s really hard. Come February 1st I think I have 13,000 payment due.

Brandon: What are the dangers of using hard money?

Ophelia: Just basically not having enough money. If you don’t have enough money to do rehabs, if you don’t have enough money to make payments to pay for the electricity just to keep everything going.

Josh: Rates are high but here is the reason people do hard money – hard money lenders understand the business. They can look at property, they can evaluate it, presumably you are doing that work and presenting to them and they’re saying this makes sense. They know the cost to fix it up and they are applying their money and they are taking a big gamble on somebody that there actually going to be able to get their money out, right?

Ophelia: Definitely. I think one thing I have used hard money feel little bit less expensive my rehabs are quick and I'm in and out of the property really quick.

Josh: That’s key.

Brandon: That is key.

Ophelia: That is definitely key. Now I'm on probably four month timeline to be in and have it sold.

Brandon: Nice. The property I mentioned earlier, the one I held for two years that was hard money the entire time. We were paying 12% at the time. 12% for two years on a $90,000 loan that is a lot of interest. That is why I didn’t make money on that deal. Had I had all cast I would have been fine.

We talked about hard money why it can be dangerous and all that but obviously the good side is that it’s quick it’s easy and you can just factor those numbers into your math when you do the math. If it works it works. I will take this moment to plug something else, not for me but for Josh here. We have a BiggerPockets house flipping calculator that a lot of people use already but for those who are not already using it check it out at We actually have in there, you can type in hard money rate fee and all that and plug it in to your calculation and if you can come up with good deal including those costs in there its good way to feel confident about flipping by including those numbers in there.

Ophelia: I had used that calculator and it’s really awesome.

Josh: Nice. This calculator aside I think most important things when it comes to real estate deal is understanding the cost up front. I think where novices get it wrong is they always underestimate their costs. Even pros, even guys who have been doing this a long time underestimate cost. It’s really easy for rehab to go over schedule, budget go much bigger. If you are doing this stuff don’t say if you are doing a buy and hold property and you are trying to evaluate buy and hold property you are like I'm going to manage it so I'm not going to include management cost so it looks better. Don’t do that. Put the managing cost in because in the end if that deal works it’s going to be much better deal than a deal that had you left out couple of cost just to kind of make it work because you are really emotionally attached to that thing.

Ophelia: I think that was a very good point because you have a lot of people who just try to cut I'm not going to have a ton of holding cost or I'm only going to hold it for four months and then seven months later they are still holding a property.

Josh: That was my one good point for the week.

Brandon: Good job.

Josh: You had a story. Let’s hear that then we are actually going to move on to our fire round.

Ophelia: I hve a story that I posted on a forum about going 70,000 over budget.

Brandon: 70,000? I didn’t read that forum post.

Ophelia: You didn’t?

Brandon: No. tell me about this.

Josh: We had like 1700 forum posts on Thursday so Brandon reads them all.

Brandon: 70,000 over budget, that’s a lot. I was only 50 over budget on my biggest.

Josh: How did you go 70 over?

Ophelia: I got a really bad quote from a contractor. I trusted him and it was a historic house. I dint realize at the time that historic houses you’d need to full electric, full HVAC, full pluming and just everything that came with historic houses. Those numbers just kept racking up.

Josh: Explain really quickly for those people who don’t understand. What is a historic house? What’s difference from that and house built in the 50s? Is that a historic house or house build it 20s. Is there a timeline or is it a special property? What makes difference?

Ophelia: It was anything 1920s – 1900s. 1950s doesn’t count that’s not historic. A hundred years old, over 100 years old. Just older houses. Just galvanized pipes, just old houses.

Brandon: From my experience almost every flip I’ve done has been an old house a 100 years old or so. There are so many things that can go wrong. I'm not saying people shouldn’t do them, I love them, there are a lot of things that you just never will see until you open up a wall. There are some added risks for doing those. You can speak to that for a second?

Ophelia: One of the things that older house has is they don’t have a lot of insulation. The outside walls aren’t really insulated. Once you open those walls, the walls are made of plaster then you have this heavy plaster, not insulation and the county comes in for permits it’s just you need permits for everything.

Brandon: I hear Maryland is pretty crazy about that.

Ophelia: Those costs just started running up.

Josh: I think your story has been really interesting and we are cheering for you and definitely want to hear if you hit 30 at the end of year.

Brandon: You can come back here on the podcast and tell us about your 30 at the end of the year.

Ophelia: I'm going to hit it just so I can come back.

Josh: Make sure you do it and do it well.

Brandon: I did 30 flips, I lost money on everyone.

Josh: We are going to beat you up that.

Ophelia: No, I'm a woman - we do really nice rehabs.

Brandon: That is true. My wife do all the looks part of our rehabs.

Josh: Let’s talk about that really fast. I want to go into the fire round but I want to talk about that. How many female rehabbers have we spoken to in the 100 plus shows? Not that many. Why aren’t more women rehabbing house?

Ophelia: I don’t know answer for that. I think its male dominated field so I really don’t know why more females aren’t. We do really great houses. Lighting is beautiful, we know exactly what the buyers want and I just think overall we do really nice house.

Josh: Who are the buyers on the house? Its women. Guys don’t buy houses. We don’t buy house. I have no say whatsoever in my next house purchase. It’s great, honey what’d you think? Right?

Ophelia: Exactly.

Josh: I'm going to give you the opportunity to plead to women to get out there and do this stuff because I think a lot of women think I can’t do this. That’s not true.

Ophelia: If you are a woman and you want to flip I think you should go for it! If you are local give me a call.

Josh: That was very inspiring.

Brandon: That was inspiring. I'm inspired.

It’s time for the Fire Round.

What do you do when you are selling your fix and flip on the retail end? Do you sell it on your own or do you use realtor? You said earlier you are your own realtor. Does that mean that you actually have a license?

Ophelia: I do. I got my license since January last year.

Brandon: You actually sell them yourself? You put them on MLS?

Ophelia: Yes. I put them on MLS and honestly that’s all I do on my houses. I don’t do any kind of advertising anywhere else and that is where 95% of buyers are.

Josh: You are selling those in days.

Ophelia: In days. I get multiple offers.

Josh: That’s great. Where do you find your deals? Where do you find great deals to flip, buy and hold back in the day, where are you finding these properties?

Ophelia: I am actually finding my properties on MLS.

Josh: Also on the MLS. For those people saying you can’t do it that’s not true.

Ophelia: That’s not true.

Brandon: Do you have any tips for people for finding good deals on MLS?

Josh: What are her criteria maybe.

Ophelia: I think you just have to keep scrubbing it. I like stuff that’s been siting for a long time. I don’t go after brand new listings. I go after stuff that’s been siting and sometimes what they’re asking for is not what I'm willing to offer just send the offer anyway. I think you should just send in the offer anyway even if you think they won’t accept it.

Brandon: That’s terrific advice. Number of times I made an offer what the heck I’ll send the offer anyway and they accepted. I was like is should have offered lower.

Ophelia: Exactly. Always happens. I just got one where I offered $80,000 lower and I was just amazed that they said yes.

Josh: How much was it listed for?

Ophelia: it was listed for 230 and I offered 145 and they came back and said we’ll take 150.

Brandon: Well done.

Josh: Nicely done. That’s great. How long had that been on the market?

Ophelia: Probably six to eight days.

Brandon: Do you have any good recommendations for good software programs or any other way that you manage all of your projects? Having a lot of stuff going on at once would take some management.

Ophelia: Actually right now I'm just really doing Excel, Microsoft Word and Excel and there is no special software that I'm using right now.

Josh: There you go – it works. You don’t have to get any big fancy software to make it happen.

I'm new to rehabbing – where is the best place for me to find funding for my first deal?

Ophelia: I think if you are a very new you have none of your funds or very little of your funds I think you just look it up. Go on google, search up hard money in your particular area and just call them all the see what they have to offer.

Josh: We do have directory on BiggerPockets of 3-400 hard money landers around the country that’s and folks can go there and do exactly what Ophelia said – call up bunch of these folks in your area and see who might be willing to work with you and who you would want to work with as well. It’s a two-way street don’t just take first lender that’s willing to work with you. Make sure to do your due diligence.

Ophelia: I think I have met couple of hard money lenders who were actually on BiggerPockets so if you just go through the forums you can find hard money lenders on BiggerPockets.

Brandon: Perfect. I love it.

Famous Four.

What is your favorite real estate book?

Ophelia: The Flipping Book by J. Scott

Josh: You can find that on – it available and it is a really good book.

Brandon: Not as good as other people’s book.

Ophelia: If you told me name of your book I would have told yours instead.

Brandon: Admit J. Scott paid you to say his book. I knew it.

Ophelia: I don’t think he even knows who I am.

Josh: He’s a Maryland guy.

Ophelia: I don’t think he knows who I am. I'm probably too much of a small fry.

Josh: Nobody’s too small. That’s a good thing about real estate investing space. There is nobody that’s too small. If you have that attitude that person is too small you are not going to be successful because we all help each other out which h is greatest thing about this business. Particularly why BiggerPockets is so cool some guy who’s done three-four flips can help a guy whose done 50. We’re all on equal footing here.

Brandon: I like just to thank people publicly on the podcast for your help for people. I see all the time just offering advice and stuff so thank you. People appreciate that.

Ophelia: Thanks. Appreciate being on BiggerPockets.

Josh: What’s your favorite business book?

Ophelia: The Trick to Money Is Having Some.

Josh: Is that the name of the book or are you just giving me a quote?

Ophelia: That’s really name of the book.

Josh: Who wrote that book?

Ophelia: I think its J. Wild.

Josh: Is that J. Scott’s evil cousin?

Ophelia: It may have been. I think its J. Stuart Wilde.

Josh: Why that book?

Ophelia: I think it just takes to way you think. One of the things that I like about it is says making money is like easy as cake. Chocolate cake. You just have to have something great that people want and once they show up you bill them for it.

Josh: Nice. And then you eat the chocolate cake.

Ophelia: Then you eat chocolate cake.

Josh: What do you do besides hanging out with this child? Or children.

Ophelia: Children. I sleep.

Josh: I sleep for fun. Oh man we have to work on that Ophelia because there’s got to be something else out there for you.

Ophelia: Actually I think I'm a bit of a workaholic so I tell my kinds okay we are going to go to the movies. We are going to go to the movies in Waldorf maybe and on the way there I will be but I have to stop and look at this house.

Josh: That’s awesome. I will say I was house shopping over the weekend with my family, I brought my kids and we never, this is going to be bad idea but it was fun. It was cool family project. The kids we throwing their feet back it was interesting.

Ophelia: My kids know me now so are we going straight there?

Josh: I'm glad they know you now.

Ophelia: Exactly. Not before just now.

Brandon: What do you believe sets apart successful real estate investors from those who give up, fail or never get started?

Ophelia: I think it’s about focus. I know a lot of people say it but I think it’s really about focus. You can’t be I'm going to be about real estate and then go and open a car wash and then I'm going to open eviction service and then I'm going to open 15 million businesses. I think tis about people who are very focused about getting one particular thing done.

Brandon: I see that all the time. People are excited about real estate and they are excited about marketing and about Tupperware selling door to door. The truth is there are so many ways you make money in today’s world. Making money is not that difficult but it is difficult when you can’t focus on anything. When you just pick up new one because it sound better. The grass is always greener. I think that is terrific advice.

Ophelia: You do one thing will work long enough.

Josh: Beside BiggerPockets where can people find more about you?

Ophelia: On BiggerPockets is my profile and my phone number and my email and they can call me?

Josh: Do you have a website?

Ophelia: I'm not really much on social media so you really have to join BiggerPockets and look up my profile and email.

Brandon: I will link to that in the show notes at

Josh: It has been a pleasure. It’s been a lot of fun and then you for coming and thanks for being party of our world.

Ophelia: Thanks so much for having me. I don’t think there are any patens in my bed but thanks.

Josh: Look out the uncle is coming to find you.

Brandon: We’ll see you on the site.

Ophelia: Alright, bye.

Josh: That was Ophelia Nicholson. Show 105 of the BiggerPockets podcast and please check out the show notes at Also if you are listening to the show but if you have yet to leave us a rating or review on iTunes we ask that you please do that. You can do that there is going to be link in the show notes on show 105 and you can find that and we definitely appreciate all ratings and reviews. They help expand visibility of BiggerPockets podcast so thank you very much.

Otherwise guys check us out on Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn. Its beginning of the year we know everybody is trying to set goals and things for themselves. If you have not yet started to engage on BiggerPockets made part of our world try and do that. Say I'm going to spend 5 minutes a day or 20 minutes a week and jump on the forums, greet people in my area, participate, engage and start to get more involved in the community. It’s only going to help you meet new people and potentially partners and deals will come as result so we definitely encourage it. That’s it.

We hope you enjoyed the show and we will look forward to talking to you next week on the BiggerPockets podcast. I'm Josh Dorkin, signing off.

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