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Josh: This is the BiggerPockets Podcast, Show 25.
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Josh: Hey. What's going on everybody? This is Josh Dorkin, host of the BiggerPockets podcast. Here for our 25th show. Woohoo! Brandon Turner, my co-host, what on earth do you think about that?
Brandon: That is exciting. 25. That's like a quarter of a hundred.
Josh: You're such a smart guy. I'm so glad I hired you.
Brandon: It's amazing. It's a good number. Lucky 25.
Josh: It's good. Lucky 25. Yes. That's great. I'm glad we've come this far and we continue to educate and help thousands and thousands of people each week. The emails we get and the introductions on the site from people who found us through the podcast. I'm honored.
Brandon: Yep. Me too. The podcast is probably our number one referral of traffic nowadays. I'm not sure but from the new member introductions anyway, the majority of them say they found us through the podcast, which is pretty cool.
Josh: Yes. That's awesome. It's awesome. Well if you have found us from the podcast, make sure you jump in on the site for today's quick tip. Yes, just jump in and introduce yourself if you haven’t done that already. Because the cool thing about that is the second you jump in and introduce yourself on our new member forum, you'll have all these people who are going to say hi. In particular, if you're like, "Hey, I'm John from Buffalo." Anybody who has keyword alerts set up for the word Buffalo, which are going to be local investors, they are going to jump in and they are going to welcome you. It's one of the greatest ways for starting to build up your local network is introducing yourself.
Anyway, so listen. For today's show, we thought we'd try something a little different here and we hope you guys all like it. We've got a totally different kind of podcast. Something we haven’t done before. Today, we’re not just talking with one real estate investor. We’re actually talking with four different investors who've all just recently completed their very first deal in real estate. So far on the show we've actually had some of the best and brightest minds in real estate and while they're all doing really incredible things with their investments, a lot of people don’t want to know how to wholesale 30 houses. They want to learn how to wholesale that first deal.
Our guests today - they’re all relatively new to real estate and what they're going to do is they are going to tell us their stories of how they did that first deal which they literally just closed. The lessons they learned and hopefully share some really good tips and tricks that even the pros out there can learn from. Why don’t we start with the show? What do you think Brandon?
Brandon: Let's do it.
Josh: Alright. First up. We're going to talk with Nicholas Stevens. Nicholas is joining us from the Boston, Massachusetts area. He's got a great story of getting his first buy and hold investment along with his first primary residence all in one. Why don’t we jump onto that interview now?
Brandon: Alright Nick. Welcome to the show, man. Good to have you.
Nick: Thanks guys. I appreciate you having me on here.
Brandon: We appreciate you being here. In the forums, a while ago, you talked about you bought an investment property and we're going to get into that. I’m really excited to talk more about it. Before we do, why don’t you just tell us a couple things about yourself, like who are you and where did you come from and what do you do?
Nick: Yes. Definitely. Thanks. Again, my name is Nick Stevens. I bought a three family last October. Background on me, I work in the financial industry at a large financial institution in Boston. I'm 29 years old. That was my first investment purchase too. It was my first time home purchase. So I'm definitely brand new to the real estate game. I'm super excited.
Josh: That's great. That's great. What inspired you to branch out and start with this first purchase? What got you into real estate?
Nick: I worked one job out of college for about three years and then I ended up moving back home just to basically get closer to family. My parents had an in-law apartment that they built basically for my sister and her husband. They saved up for a few years and they ended up buying a duplex, actually, and then I moved into that in-law apartment. I lived there for two or three years to save up money. I was basically just saving money blindly knowing I wanted to buy a house but I had no idea what it was going to be. I was kind of slowly saving money, not a whole lot. Again, even if you put down 3 1/2%, the monthly payment, I was kind of doing the rough math along the way and I was slowly realizing that a single family I was going to need to save up a lot of money and then start earning a lot more money to be able to afford it. In the Boston area, real estate’s so expensive.
Josh: Oh, yes.
Nick: Yes. So that’s kind of what I was initially thinking.
Brandon: Oh cool.
Nick: Yes, so then I kind of just started running some numbers. I knew my sister who bought the duplex, she was kind of telling me about her cash flow situation. I was like, “Wow that makes a lot of sense.” Still didn’t know all the qualifying that went into it when it comes to buying a two or three family, but that definitely got me thinking about it and then I just kind of started looking at a few and called a realtor just blindly off the internet.
Nick: Her husband is also a mortgage broker so the team of them two kind of helped me along. We started looking at places and I started learning more about how to qualify for the property and started slowly realizing that on my modest income. I just earn really average income and started realizing that, “Wow the number really could work even on an expensive property.”
Brandon: Yes. So you just got a typical mortgage with it. 20% down, or the FHA? Or how did you do that?
Nick: Yes. I did an FHA 3 1/2% down and I also ended up doing a renovation loan. A 203k loan, where the bank gave me money up front to renovate. I ended up just needing to work on mostly just my unit. The other two units were ready to go. So I did that 203k loan and FHA all in one.
Brandon: For those who don't know, the 203k basically is a loan that you can incorporate your repair cost into the loan itself. Right?
Nick: Exactly. Yes. So they give you the money upfront. Not all of it upfront. Kind of along the way, but they basically help you pay. They use that money to pay for the project and it's just financed into your mortgage, which is really nice.
Josh: Are there are any special requirements for the 203k loans?
Nick: There are. I mean, there’s some paperwork involved with getting the right qualified contractor that you work with. They have to have certain licenses. So there is a little bit of red tape qualifying the contractor that's going to front the whole project. So that's a little bit, you know, they can then subcontract out if they want to but that's probably the main thing that comes to mind.
Brandon: I actually did that a couple years ago. I was the contractor for a friend who did the 203k loan. So I had to go through all that paperwork and the red tape. It was annoying but it wasn’t too bad. It wasn’t like any special. I didn’t have to take a special test or anything. It was just filling out forms.
Nick: Yes and you have to be insured obviously. They like that.
Brandon: Yes. Licensed, Bonded, insured. It really does work out well. If you've got like a, it's only 3 1/2% of the total amount too. Let's say you are buying a $200,000 property and you need $20,000 for repairs, you need $220,000 total, you only pay 3 1/2% of that total $220,000 which is awesome.
Josh: Yes. That's a great deal.
Brandon: Yes. I always recommend people look into the 203k.
Nick: Yeah it’s...
Josh: I'm sorry. Go ahead.
Nick: Go ahead. I was just saying, I think it's overlooked as well.
Josh: Right on. Right on. Well I was going to jump right into this property a little more in detail. Can you tell us maybe some of the numbers? Tell us how everything kind of came together?
Nick: Yes. For sure. I was putting in offers. The market, I could tell was definitely heating up for the multi-families in my area. I was basically looking anywhere around Boston where I could be relatively close to family and get to work easily. I put in I think, five or six offers on two-family homes. That's basically what I was focusing on and I didn’t see too many three-families pop up anyways. I didn’t have any of those accepted, obviously.
Then this three-family popped up and I took a look at it. I was really impressed. It's a two-bedroom on the first floor, two-bedroom on the second floor, and then the unit that I live in now is a one-bedroom. One bath in each unit. At the time they had two tenants. They actually had it fully rented at the time, so that was kind of the situation as far as when it was on the market and it was listed at $400,000. I ended up putting in an offer around $380,000, I believe.
Nick: Yes, then it ended up - there ended up being some work where we asked for some money back at closing. It ended up coming to about $383,000 that we agreed on for the purchase price.
Josh: Right on. So not all three units were rented? Or was it actually just the two that are currently rented?
Nick: So at the time, the middle unit is the nicest unit. It’s completely renovated, that's where the previous owners lived. When I saw that unit, I was like Wow. I didn’t even think for a second of living there. I was like, “Wow I can get a lot of rent for that unit.”
Josh: Nice, nice, nice.
Nick: When I saw that it really caught my eye. The first floor was in decent shape, rent ready. It just needed some updating but that was occupied. I don’t know if you want me to run through some of the numbers for the rents?
Josh: Yes. Sure.
Nick: Yes, so the first floor was being rented for $1,000. They were just month to month. They were tenant at will. Then up in the third floor where I wanted to live, and this was really kind of the biggest thing that almost held it up, there was a woman that was living up on the third floor. We weren't sure, it was really tough communication between us and the sellers. Their attorney, he typically dealt with other types of closing I think and didn’t usually deal with just regular real estate residential closings, but he just made the process horrible.
Basically we weren’t sure if she was going to be the type of tenant that was going to be basically squatting here and not wanting to leave. It was a lot of back and forth with that. Finally, she ended up moving out. Basically, I did end up making the decision to go forward with the paperwork even with her there. I just said I'll deal with it even though the eviction process in Massachusetts can be, probably that might not have been the best choice, I’m not sure, but the eviction process in Massachusetts can be really difficult. The laws really protect the tenants.
Josh: Was she just not paying rent at the time? Or did she stop when you acquired it? What happened?
Nick: She actually was, but we were just hearing very little information back from the sellers on her situation. That's really all it came down to. We were probably starting to speculate why they weren’t telling us certain things about the tenant and why she hasn’t moved out yet. I think they might have said she was moving out and she still hadn’t at certain points. There was just a lot of back and forth and kind of miscommunication between us and the sellers. I think not helped by their attorney that they were working with. She ended up moving out and I ended up renovating this unit which did need a little bit of work like I mentioned for that loan. At the time, I think she was paying like 600 bucks.
Brandon: So now you moved into that unit and the middle unit then did you just get that rented out too then?
Nick: Yes. So for the bank, I did have to do a little bit of work to it. Again, it was completely renovated but the bank when the property appraised, it appraised as a two bedroom. There wasn’t a door going into one of the bedrooms. So we just had to put a door in and wall off one open area between two of the open areas as well. So there was some minor work that the contractor needed to do just to make that an official two bedroom.
Nick: My contractor was awesome. He rushed that for me so that within about 25 days or so I basically got it rented for the next month and got tenants in there pretty quickly for $1475 a month, is what it ended up being.
Josh: So you're $2475 in rents. Then you’ve got your unit and then what was the purchase again? It was four something right?
Nick: It was $383,000.
Josh: 383. Okay.
Nick: Yes. Then the first floor tenants ended up moving out after just a couple months.
Nick: Now I'm getting $1400 for that unit, so right now I'm getting $2875.
Josh: And what's your note on that?
Nick: PITI is just under $2800.
Brandon: Okay, so you're pretty much living for free.
Brandon: I mean minus the expenses when you have them and stuff.
Josh: Wait, but why would you want to do that? I mean that sounds terrible.
Nick: Living for free?
Josh: Yes. I don't understand. As a first investment property, buying a place where people are covering your cost. Doesn’t sound like a good deal at all.
Nick: Yeah, that's awesome. I feel like I'm getting away with something but it's awesome. I love it obviously.
Josh: Yes, and Brandon here is a fan boy of similar type things.
Brandon: I am. I bought a duplex. I talk about that all the time. One of my first properties was a duplex I lived in. I still have it today. That's the cool part about this, Nicholas is that when you move someday, like if you keep it, you just get to rent out that other unit then you’re hopefully cash flowing at that point.
Brandon: It's a good way to start out learning how to be a landlord and how to give you a place to live as well.
Nick: Yes. It really is. I was saying to a few people, kind of all at once, I was a first time homebuyer, going through that whole process, becoming a minor construction lead manager kind of deal on my unit, and then being a landlord. So kind of all those three things happened at once which was I loved every minute of it but it was definitely a little bit overwhelming at times but it's been really an awesome, steep learning curve for sure.
Brandon: Yes. Can you talk about any of the major lessons you’ve learned along the way? I think you had mentioned one, which was not really anything you had much control over dealing with the seller’s attorney who was sound to be somewhat inept. I think that’s a pretty big lesson which is always work with an experienced real estate attorney if you have a choice. Don’t just grab any old lawyer, right?
Nick: Right. For sure. Yes. I did learn kind of all of the process of being a first time homebuyer. I did kind of realize how difficult it can be working with the banks. I’m sure putting down 3 1/2% FHA makes it even more difficult with all the regulations that they’re under. The deal almost fell through so many times up until closing really. Just going through that whole process was probably the most stressful part of the whole thing because I wanted the property so bad. The more I got into it, I just really wanted the property and it just almost fell through so many times with all the things that the bank was asking me for and the timelines. I initially tried going for a different type of loan. I think it was the soft second loan. I don’t know if you’ve heard of that?
Nick: I think it might be a Massachusetts thing. Basically it’s a similar type program but it’s a little more friendly. I think the interest rate was even a little bit lower. Actually the main draw to it was there is no PMI.
Brandon: Oh, nice. Yes.
Nick: Yes. So that ended up falling through so I ended up going FHA. At that point we had already signed the P&S so we had about 35 days to close I think. We ended up getting done but just definitely learned that it can be difficult working with banks. Long story short. Long story long.
Josh: The beauty is you got this FHA 3 1/2% loan. I mean what else do you want? Rates are finally starting to creep up. You know to get a 3 1/2% is out of the ordinary obviously now.
Nick: Right. Absolutely. It’s awesome.
Brandon: Yes. That’s cool. Well cool. Before we go do you have any tips for other people who are thinking about doing this?
Nick: I would say I feel like when I do talk about it with people they get overwhelmed. I think definitely just looking at the whole process, I think it’s something that anybody could do. My dad, he’s a master plumber, and he definitely helped me with a lot of the renovation and some of his contacts to help with some of the work, so that I think took some of the stress off me a little bit, but I think yes definitely, if you’re looking at anybody that’s thinking about buying a single family house, I would 100% look at buying a duplex or a triplex because I think it’s not as many headaches as you might think.
Josh: What’s your take on having your tenants living downstairs? What are the negatives to that? For you, at least.
Nick: Yes. Definitely. This is an old house too. It was built in the early 1900s so you can hear a lot of things in the house. So for sure, definitely that’s a part of it and you have to accept that going in. A lot of tenants like that. So when I interviewed potential tenants to come in here. 90% of them, at least the ones I want living here too, are happy that the owner is living in the house. That’s usually good news to them. If it’s not good news, usually it’s someone I wouldn’t want living here.
Nick: That’s definitely something you have to accept some of those things for sure. If you’re thinking about doing it.
Brandon: Well awesome.
Josh: Well hey Nicholas, this was really really good. We appreciate you coming on the show to talk about this strategy.
Nick: Yes. Definitely. I appreciate you guys having me on. Thanks again.
Brandon: For sure.
Josh: Yes. Thanks for stopping by man. Alright that was awesome, man. That was really cool Brandon. What’d you think?
Brandon: I think it’s awesome too. I’m a big fan of the 203k. I haven’t done it personally but I was the contractor on it one time. I definitely recommend it. My best friend did it. It worked out really well for him. It’s annoying sometimes with the red tape.
Josh: Yeah, yeah.
Brandon: I think we had like a foot-high stack of paperwork when we were done with the thing. I think key in doing a 203k loan is finding a lender who knows what they’re doing. We worked with a lender when I did it with my friend and she knew exactly how to do a 203k loan and it was awesome. It really went faster than other people I’ve heard talking. I’ve heard horror stories.
Josh: Yes. I think this interview for me was particularly important because I think for a lot of these newer investors, they’re just worried, “Hey, how do I start? Where do I go?” The cool thing is you can go buy your first investment and it could be your first home as well at same time and the beauty of it is of what he’s doing is he’s living pretty much rent free for himself while learning and training himself how to be a landlord, how to deal with reno properties and that kind of stuff. That’s invaluable I think.
Brandon: Yes. Definitely. I 100% agree.
Josh: Awesome. Awesome. Cool. Alright guys, well why don’t we move on to our next interview. Our next guest is Ezinwanne Hawkins, and she’s going to tell us the story of how she did her first wholesaling deal. Let’s get to it. Hey Ezinwanne. Welcome to the show.
Ezinwanne: Thank you very much for having me. I really, really appreciate it. It’s an honor.
Josh: Oh yes. Listen, we’re so glad to have you. Why don’t we just jump right into this thing? Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
Ezinwanne: Sure. I am a married mother of three girls. They’re almost 13, almost 14, and my youngest is six. We live in Washington, D.C. I’ve lived here all my life. We are currently looking to invest in Baltimore, Maryland, which is just about 40 minutes away from D.C. with hopes to include D.C. in that investment plan, hopefully in the next couple of years.
Josh: Okay. Very cool. You just got started, right?
Ezinwanne: I did. I did. I think I joined BiggerPockets in February or March.
Ezinwanne: So just a couple of months.
Josh: Oh. Very cool. The reason I found you, I mean I’ve seen you on the site a little bit, but you put a success story recently about your first deal. That’s what I want to talk about today is how did that come about. Just walk us through beginning to end. What did you do and how did it work out?
Ezinwanne: Sure. Well my husband and I made a decision at the end of February that we would get into real estate investing. We had a small amount of money that we wanted to sort of put to good use. When I joined BP, I learned about wholesaling and thought, “Oh, this would be a great way to add to the small pot of money that we already have.” I started researching wholesaling a bit.
Ned Cary, who is a very active investor in the Baltimore market, graciously agreed to meet with me. I rode around with him all over Baltimore and picked his brain for about eight hours one day at the end of March. He was really, really great. After that, I decided, “You know, we can do this.” Having three kids, especially girls, extra money is not something that we have a lot of especially currently. In terms of being able to do a lot of marketing and direct mail marketing, we just didn’t have the funds to be able to do that so I picked up the phone and just started calling landlords who were renting apartments. I, literally, was in Baltimore every day driving for dollars. Talking to neighbors, talking to the mailman, talking and giving my business card to whoever would take it.
About a week and half after I initially met with Ned, I got a phone call from a seller who actually is a real estate agent in Baltimore. He owned a number of properties. He’s also an investor and wanted my help ironically in unloading a couple. One of the properties that he wanted me to sell actually fell through. It didn’t work out. He decided to hold on to it. The other was a shell which I thought was a great sort of start for a beginning wholesaler. It should be relatively easy to unload. I was very excited. Signed the contract. Well, initially talked him down. He wanted about $6500 I think it was for the property and we were able to talk him down to $2000, which is great. A couple days after that, I actually got pneumonia.
Brandon: Oh. That’s not good.
Ezinwanne: No. It wasn’t. I didn’t know it was pneumonia at the time but I had like 104.5 temperature. I was in the bed for like nine days. I have never felt worse in my life. So obviously that limited the amount of marketing on the property I was able to do and advertising. But as soon as I was able to sort of sit up and be able to breath okay, I started advertising the property on Craigslist, mainly Craigslist actually at that point. Literally, almost immediately, I was flooded with phone calls. I didn’t have a buyers list. I didn’t have anything, but I knew from speaking to Ned that if I had a good property at a good price in a good location that it would sell. Even if I didn’t have anyone on the list. That’s why negotiating it down was so important to me because I wanted to be able to unload it quick.
Josh: Yes. Definitely.
Ezinwanne: Am I – is it too much information?
Josh: No. Not at all. This is excellent. This is great.
Ezinwanne: Okay. So I fielded probably 50 phone calls maybe within the next couple of days. I had one potential buyer, who over the next three or four days after that, was pretty consistent about following up with me. The shell was completely boarded up and it was not safe to enter really. There was really no walk through needed on that. Her boyfriend was a contractor. So they just drove by and sort of did an assessment of what they thought it would take to fix. She made me an offer. We were asking $4500 for the property and she made an offer of $4000. We accepted that.
Ezinwanne: That was our first deal. Very excited about that.
Josh: Yes. That’s awesome. So then you went to closing. Did you assign the contract or did you go to an actual title company to close?
Ezinwanne: We went to a title company to close but the contract was assigned to her. If that answers the question.
Josh: So you didn’t have to come with any money then?
Ezinwanne: No. We didn’t, which was great. We were actually able to – she actually put $1,000 earnest money deposit down initially. So literally the day that I met with her to sign the contract, she gave me the deposit. That was strange because I was expecting it to go to directly to the title company but she didn’t have an issue writing the check directly to us. At Ned’s suggestion, the initial contract with the seller was just for $10. That was the consideration for that contract. When Ned initially mentioned that to me, I thought, “There’s no way someone’s going to put a property under contract for a ten-dollar deposit,” but the seller didn’t even question it at all. That definitely was very eye opening to me.
When we got to settlement, there were some issues that came up. The seller owed a ton of back real estate taxes, property taxes, excuse me on the property. Somewhere in the neighborhood of about $5000. He initially attempted to sort of wiggle out of the deal and say he didn’t know. I was professional but firm and reminded him that he had a contract and at least with my offer he would at least get two thousand dollars in help as opposed to letting this fall through he would have had to be responsible for the entire past due amount. He actually brought money to the table to get the property sold. We were able to do that. I actually offered, when it looked like the deal was going to fall apart, I offered $500 of my fee which was half of what I was expecting to get back. Half of the balance I was expecting to get. It was important to us for the deal to actually go through. So we were committed to that.
Brandon: Yes. I’ve been there before definitely. It’s never fun.
Ezinwanne: No, it wasn’t but it was our first. We were thrilled that we didn’t make any major mistakes and were able to actually make some money off the deal. So that was exciting.
Josh: Oh yes. For sure. For sure. That’s the great thing about wholesaling. If your brand new to house flipping and you go out and make some mistakes, you have the potential to lose a whole lot of money. But with wholesaling, those mistakes are usually not as costly so it’s really a great way to learn as you build your business.
Ezinwanne: That’s exactly what I used to convince my husband that this should be a good first step. So I definitely agree with that.
Josh: Right on. Right on. Have you done anymore deals since then?
Ezinwanne: I have actually. A week after I think I got that property under contract, or maybe a couple weeks, I got a hit through my website, thismombuyshouses.com, from a seller who wanted to sell, actually wanted to give away their property. They said they were looking to get rid of it. They just wanted a dollar for it, I guess to have some sort of consideration in the contract. When I first got the email, I honestly thought someone was playing a joke on me. I thought, “There’s no way. Why would anyone give away a piece of real estate for nothing essentially?”
I was able to speak with the seller and did a little research before hand. They were very motivated. They had gotten into this property and a number of things had happened and they weren’t able to start working on it as quickly as the city of Baltimore was expecting them to. They just wanted to get rid of the property.
Ned also mentioned to me that disclosures are so important so I made sure with my first deal and definitely with this one. “Look this may be something that I keep for myself but I also may sell it to another investor. Are you okay with that?” I probably repeated that two or three times to them. Each time they said, “Whatever it is that you need to do to get the property sold and out of our name. We’re completely fine with.” Which made me nervous because I then thought, “Maybe there’s a huge lien on the property or what’s going on.” I did some initial research. In Baltimore you can do some initial research in terms of outstanding liens but it’s typically just for the most recent tax year. I didn’t see anything so I sent it to the closing attorney and just kept my fingers crossed. I kept expecting something to happen just because that’s my nature. It sort of happens when you have three girls. Something’s going to happen. They’re going to back out. Something’s going to happen.
So we got to closing. Well first of all, I was able to find a buyer very quickly for that one as well. I got a lot of interest for it. Obviously, we weren’t asking as much as, probably honestly as much we should but again it was more important to us with these early deals just to get them moved quickly to sort of build our confidence so that’s been pretty important to us. So I think it took us about eight or nine days to unload that one. Ned had given me sort of a tip that if I have a property longer than a week then it’s probably priced too high. So that’s been the rule of thumb that I’ve been trying to go by. When I got to that seven-day point, I started to get nervous and I think the weekend came and by that Monday it was sold.
Brandon: Yes. That’s awesome.
Brandon: That’s cool. Well very cool. What’s your plan going forward? What are your plans?
Ezinwanne: Well. The profit that we’ve made so far from the last two deals is going to go into our marketing efforts. We’d really like to start direct mail marketing. That’s our sort of immediate plan. We’d like to do another two or three wholesale deals to sort of add to our pot of money and then we’ll look to purchase a couple of buy and hold properties hopefully in the next six to nine months in Baltimore. Something that we can rent out.
Josh: Okay. Very cool. That’s awesome. Alright well good deal. That is really, really good information. I actually learned quite a bit as well because like I said I want to do more wholesaling so I love to hear successful wholesale stories.
Ezinwanne: Definitely. I never thought that it would be me. I was expecting nine to 12 months. I was really committed to that timeframe to sort of get it done, to get our first deal done, but I think the way that we sort of dived right in. Literally every hour of the day I was committed to talking to sellers and I probably spoke to around two to three hundred people, just within that couple of weeks. Just Calling, doing skip traces, and calling Craigslist ads, and going out and speaking with neighbors. It’s just good to see that it all panned out and worked out. We’re excited about that.
Brandon: Yes. That’s cool. You know what I like about your story too is that you could have gone out and spent about $20,000 on some kind of private class or course or something like that but you probably learned more in those last couple of months by actually just doing it then you have learned in months, and months, and months of courses.
Ezinwanne: Definitely. Now I do scour on BiggerPockets everyday. Most hours of the day I’m on there researching something. So I definitely couldn’t have done it without all the information on the site.
Brandon: Well, that’s cool. We appreciate that. That’s how I learned almost everything I’ve done was the same way. Very cool. Well thank you very, very much for being with us today.
Ezinwanne: No. Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.
Brandon: Alright well thank you. We’ll see you on the site. Alright. Well hopefully the listeners out there learned some good tidbits about wholesaling in that interview. I know I’m super excited to do more wholesaling and I think I say that like every episode. I haven’t really started it yet. I really want to do more wholesaling. I just spend to much time on this weird site called BiggerPockets, I don’t know.
Josh: It is your job, you know.
Brandon: Oh yes. That’s right. That’s right. Well, anyway I love that story because she just totally proves that it’s doable.
Josh: Yes. That’s great. Well why don’t we move on to the next interview. We’re going to talk with a great guy. Matt Whiteside. Matt’s from the Great State of Illinois. He’s going to fill us in about his first deal. Of course, Brandon, you know that I love this next story because all the gurus love to talk about how easy wholesaling is but just like Ezinwanne’s story, Matt’s going to actually talk about some of the problems that can arise with a wholesale deal and how he overcame them to make a really great profit.
Brandon: Cool. Yes, definitely. Wholesaling does work. We’ve seen that on the site but it’s definitely not as easy. So, cool.
Josh: Yes. Absolutely. Alright man well why don’t we jump right onto that interview. Alright, Matt. Very good to have you here. Let’s start with this first deal of yours. You going to tell us a little bit about it?
Matt: Sure. It was a wholesale deal. I was marketing to people who were behind on their taxes. So it was tax liens. I went down to the county and got a list and I was marketing to people in Illinois, they have 2 1/2 years to redeem their taxes. I got them right before that 2 1/2 years was about to end and here in our county it was the 25th of April. I had them out prior to that, the letters. I got quite a few calls.
I had this call to this woman, who was, the sister at the time was living in the unit. She said, “My sister takes care of it. My mom died, passed away. You’ll have to talk to her.” So I said, “Alright, fine.” So she gave me the number. I called her. Left a message. She called me back and said, “I’m just tired of dealing with it. She had two siblings who weren’t helping out, weren’t doing anything, weren’t paying the taxes.” Weren’t paying the association fees, we found out. And she said “I’m just tired of putting money after this thing. I’m done.” They were ready to move and just be done with it.
I offered her, over the phone I offered her $10,000 based off of what I could, based off the comps in that area, what I think I could get it for with making some money off of it. The taxes at the time were about $4700 that needed to redeem. She said, “Alright, that sounds good." Then I went and looked at the place after that and it was a wreck. It needed at least 10 to 15 thousand dollars in repairs.
Josh: Did she tell you that it was perfect?
Matt: She didn’t tell me it was perfect. I said, “Well how is it? She goes, “Oh it’s good.” She hadn’t been there in a few years. She didn’t really know. She said it’s a three-bedroom townhouse. One and a half baths. “It had a finished basement,” she said. I said, “Okay.” Went over there. All the flooring was all shot, ripped up. They said they were going to put new carpet down and just ran out of money so they didn’t put anything down. The floors were saggy in the kitchen. There was just a hole in the ceiling from when they put in a new bathtub and it leaked down and they just never repaired it.
There was a lot of work that needed to be done in there. So I said, “You know what. It’s nice as nice as you thought it was. You said it was. Maybe I’ll do $5,000.” She’s like, “Well alright. I guess I have to get something. It’s better than nothing.” Because at that time when I was talking to her she only had, you know, then I found out whoever bought the tax lien they did extend the redemption period to August 5th. So we did have some time but she said, “Alright let’s just do it.” So I said, “Alright fine,” so I sent her out an option contract, where the option fee was going to be $100 but I only gave her a dollar deposit. They were going to get $5,000 cash plus I would pay the taxes roughly around $5,000. Had her sign it and had her sign a memorandum of option. She signed it. Notarized it. Sent it back to me. I recorded the memorandum of option. Then from there I listed it on the MLS. I had gone and researched it just to make sure that I could do it. I found that, my wife’s an agent, and I found it, yes we could do it.
Brandon: I know that in some states I’ve heard that you can do that and some states you can’t.
Brandon: So that’s good that you could do that.
Matt: Yes. I don’t see a lot of it being done. I would tell anybody that’s thinking about doing it, check with your local listing service and see what their rules are. Maybe you can get an agent that can do it for you.
Josh: That’s great advice.
Matt: So yes. We figured it out. We went to my wife’s broker and said, “Look this is what we wanted to do.” And she said, “Alright, well we’ll do it. I’ve never done it before so this is kind of like the guinea pig here.” So we did it. We listed it. I had it listed on a Thursday like four o’clock on Friday, we had the first showing set up at like 10 am. First guy that came through offered me like $20,000. I did list it at $25,000, I was a little nervous because there was an REO that was on there that was listed at $11,000. Looking at the pictures, it looked a little nicer than the unit I have. I was like, “Ugh. I don’t know if I’m going to get much for this place you know.” But then it sold in four days for over $22,500. So I said, “Well there is hope there.” I said, “Let’s just put it up for $25,000 and see what we can get.”
The first offer, first showing the guy offered $20,000. I said, “Well let me think about it and I’ll get back to you.” Came home, told my wife. She was shocked. First showing, first cash offer. And he came in and said, “This place needs like 10, 15 thousand dollars of work.” So he knew. I think he was an investor that was looking to rehab it and flip it. So I said, “Well let me think about it.” Came home talked over it with the wife. She said, “Maybe we ought to just take the money,” and I was going to. Let’s just get in and get out and I will still make some decent money off this thing. Then later that evening we had another showing and another offer of $23,000. So then we got into a multiple bid situation. We told them give us your highest and best. The $20,000 he stuck with the $20,000. The 23 they came up to 25,595. So I was like, “Wow, maybe we’ll go with this one.” The next day I think we had a $26,000 offer.
Really what happened was I was having a lawyer redo my assignment contract, and he got sick and it was taking – cause I was going to take the $25,000 offer; he got sick so it took him a few days to get it done. So I was putting off that guy going, “Hold on, hold on we’ll get the contract.” I didn’t say yes or no. I said, “We’re leaning towards it.” Then what happened was while the lawyer was out sick with getting that assignment contract, I got a $31,000 offer. That’s when the $31,000 offer came in. So I said, “Well I’m going to go for the $31,000.” It was a cash offer. He waived all inspections everything. I said, “Okay great.”
Well in the meantime after that first day I found out the sister that was living there tells me, “I’m behind on the HOA fees.” So I said, “How much?” She said, “Five.” So I said, “What five months?” because they are only like $20. She said, “No, $5,000.” I was like, “Ugh, great.” That’s going to take a big chunk. And then I found out it was like $5,950 so $6,000. That’s going to take a huge chunk out. Then we got that $31,000 offer. So I said that’ll help. You know? I negotiated with the HOA. I told them if I don’t buy this property. If we don’t do this, whoever bought that tax lien is going to take over this property. It’s going to wipe out any of those fees. And they never did put a lien on it. So it never came up in a title search or anything. I don’t know why they chose not to do anything with it. It was four years worth of HOA fees that they never even bothered to collect.
Matt: But I got them down to $2,500. So I said, “Well, that’s good.” Then we find out that the mother died without a will. They didn’t go through probate. So now I have to get four siblings to sign off on everything.
Josh: This is the most complicated deal ever.
Matt: It was.
Josh: For your first deal.
Matt: Yes, for my first deal I said, “I hope I’m getting the tough one right out of the way at the beginning and everything else will be smooth sailing from here on out.” I had to go and them all to sign everything and we had to do an affidavit of heirship stating that they are who they are and that they have the right to sell this property. Alright so it took me a couple of weeks to get all the paperwork together. I didn’t want to take anything to chance so I went out. I had mobile notaries meet me at the one of the brothers. He lived out in Juliette, which is not too far from me. Had him sign the stuff. Then I went to the other brother who’s still in the area. Had him sign everything, had him notarize everything.
Then I took a weekend trip. I said, “I’m just going to go down there.” The sister moved down with the other sister in Kentucky, in Louisville. I said, “Let’s just go.” Me and my wife and daughter. We just got in the car and we went on a Friday night. We went down there. Hung out. Saturday she had a local notary right down the street from her. Had them sign everything. Got all the paperwork. Set the closing for that following Tuesday. Made sure I had all of my ducks in a row. I was kind of nervous for it being my first one. The last time I was at a closing was when I bought my house. It’s been over 10 years. I went in there without a lawyer. I paid off the transfer tax. Got the transfer stamped. Went to closing. Actually impressed the closing company with how well I was prepared. They said I was more prepared than most lawyers that come in there. We had everything that we needed. The closing went fine.
When I got the assignment, I agreed to pay for the title. The buyer was happy with that. I put out another $1250 for that. The funny thing about it is though, the day we were supposed to close, he had asked on Friday because he thought we were going to close on Friday and I had my lawyer contact his and tell him, “No, that wasn’t going to happen.” I didn’t think we were going to have the paperwork signed in time. Then he was asking, “Well he didn’t sign a lease on his new place and he has to pay a penalty and would I reimburse him for that.” I said, “Well no, I’m not going to do that.” I agreed even though I didn’t have to because it said in the assignment agreement that he would be paying all the closing costs for title and stuff. I said, “No, I paid for the title so if anything if there is any penalty over that then maybe we can work something out.” It was dropped. He never mentioned it again.
I went to the closing. The day of the closing I went over there to get my wife to sign the lockbox off, I find out that there’s workers in there. I said, “Who are you guys?” And they said, “We’re with the owner. The owner hired us.” I said, “Well that would be almost me.” They said, “He said it was okay, they closed on Friday.” I said, “No.” So he jumped the gun on me. And I talked to the lawyer and I said, “What do you want me to do about it?” He goes, “I wouldn’t say anything. It will just make the closing go easier because if they say anything you can go, “Well you owe me rent for being in there for the days you were. And you actually put money into it so you’ve actually improved my place.” So I could not close. It never came up. It went smooth. After talking with the title company, just making sure we had everything correct. They wanted to make sure they had everything in order. We closed and I picked up my check. So I made over, with my wife’s commission, it was probably over $11,500 we made off that one first deal.
Brandon: That’s awesome.
Brandon: That’s very cool.
Matt: And it only took me, like I said, one dollar is what came out of my pocket in the beginning. Obviously I paid for some other stuff, like notaries and stuff like that, and filing, $42 to file the memorandum but other than that it wasn’t really a lot of money out of my pocket. Everything was paid at closing.
Josh: That’s an interesting story. Really, really, really quickly. What inspired you to go that route with the tax liens?
Matt: You know it was something I had gotten, I read something about. I ordered a book one time called Deed Grabber. Be a Deed Grabber, about getting tax liens, getting them before they go to the tax lien investor. People are motivated. They are going to lose this house based on the back taxes. I’ve been finding a lot of places that are free and clear that really they owe just the taxes. So if you can find those properties then you do pretty well.
Brandon: Yes. That’s great. Nice.
Josh: Well hey. Thank you very much Matt for sharing your story with us.
Matt: No problem. Appreciate it.
Brandon: Well thanks a lot Matt. Definitely. Alright.
Josh: Alright guys. That was Matt Whiteside. That story definitely paints a different picture about how easy wholesaling is. Doesn’t it, B?
Brandon: Definitely does. I like how he says he had to drive down to another state to get things signed. That was not something you read or hear from the gurus.
Josh: Definitely. Definitely. Alright everybody, for our final interview today, we’re going to talk with somebody that, well if you regularly hang out on the BiggerPockets forums, you probably know pretty well. Mehran Kamari. Mehran is actually a moderator now on the BiggerPockets forums and is definitely one of our most active members.
We wanted to talk to Mehran today because like a lot of our listeners, Mehran is located in a big city where prices are kind of crazy high. It may not make sense to invest in. He lives in L.LA. and he’s actually crushing it right now with his investments by investing at a distance. If you’re in an area where prices are too high you definitely want to listen to this interview. Out of state investing. So why don’t’ we just jump right into this?
Brandon: Alright. So Mehran tell us about your first deal.
Mehran: Okay. So my first deal actually for me was my primary residence. I just got a well-paying job around 2009. I started saving some money to put towards the down payment. I figured that would be the biggest investment of my life. What I decided to do was just buy a bunch of books. Learn about mortgages. Learn about how to actually buy a house and that’s what led me to BP.
So I had a question about debt to income ratio and that led me to BP. I got so much information on just the one post that I read. I was like, “Man, this is a really good site. I’m going to stick around here and learn what I can before I buy my first house.” The information I learned from BP really helped me kind of decide what type of house I wanted to get. I knew from the second I started on BP that I wanted to get into real estate investing and I figured the best way to do that would be to get some practice as a landlord. So I figured I would find a house that I could easily rent out some rooms. Get the hang of being a landlord. Finding tenants. Screening them, signing a lease doing all the things a landlord does. That’s pretty much how I got started on my first deal.
Josh: Okay. That’s cool, nice. Since then you’ve continued to pick up property. What was the second opportunity that you went through?
Mehran: Okay. The second opportunity is a duplex I found on the MLS in Indianapolis. I had been looking at some turnkey property from some turnkey companies and it seemed like every property I looked at wasn’t meeting my requirements for the 2% rule on BiggerPockets. The 50% rule which I figured would be just kind of good criteria to stick to, so I figured that Indianapolis would be a good market because a lot of the turnkey companies were offering properties there. I figured lets just check out the MLS. I did that. I found a good property that had the numbers that I was looking for that easily met the 50% rule. I pretty much called the agent up. I had a bunch of questions to ask her. Due diligence questions like, “Why is the seller selling? Can I get copies of the lease, rent roll?” stuff like that. It was pretty simple actually.
Brandon: Oh. Cool. Did you go and visit it then before buying it or did you just...
Mehran: Oh no. I did everything online. Pictures. I hired a property inspector. Pretty much, they were my eyes and ears on the ground.
Brandon: Oh cool.
Josh: And you’re in Los Angeles so obviously there’s some distance there. What was the strategy? Was it buy and hold or ?
Mehran: Definitely buy and hold. I had just saved enough for a down payment. I got pre-approved. Figured I’d be able to afford the house and I just bought it with conventional financing. That was it. It was pretty simple.
Brandon: Did it require any work or was it ready to go?
Mehran: It was pretty much ready to go. Another investor had bought it and rehabbed it in 2009. He already had tenants in there. Property management in place and everything was pretty much good to go. I guess we did the inspection and there was a couple repairs that I asked him to do, which he did willingly. Everything was pretty smooth.
Josh: Sorry go ahead Brandon.
Brandon: Oh I was wondering if you’ve had any problems so far with tenants or anything like that. Managing from far away. You have a property manager, right?
Mehran: Yes. The property manager’s actually she’s so awesome. I put together kind of like a questionnaire that I got from all my research I did on BiggerPockets. All the things I need to ask about this property manager to vet her out. See if she’s actually really good. To see if I should either replace her or keep her on. She answered every question perfectly. I felt like it was such a blessing. Everything’s been good so far. The tenants that were there were long-term tenants. I haven’t had any problems. She collects rent on time and everything.
Brandon: That’s awesome.
Josh: That’s fantastic and awesome.
Brandon: Yeah and the cool thing about that is you basically saw what other successful companies were doing, these turnkey companies were doing. Certainly not everybody can go out and do what you did. Some people do need a company to take care of all of the work. You realize that the numbers didn’t work for you and so you kind of went around and found an opportunity that was perfect and that’s cool.
Mehran: Yes. When I bought my house that I live in now, I went through the house and I thought I saw everything. It looked perfect. When the inspector came in he found all these things wrong with the property that I didn’t even see. I figured I’ll just hire an inspector to go check out the duplex that I’m buying and they’ll probably see more than I will even if I flew out there anyway. It worked out good for me that way.
Brandon: Were you concerned at all about the neighborhood since you don’t know the area. How did you determine what was good?
Mehran: I relied a little bit on the selling agent who I knew kind of had an ulterior motive for kind of sprucing it up. I used Trulia to check out some of the crime reports in that area of the city. I spoke with the property manager who was really helpful. She didn’t really have too much to gain by giving me kind of jumbled up information. The duplex was the only multi-family property on a street of single family homes. It seemed like the street was well taken cared of and everything. It’s not the nicest neighborhood but it works.
Brandon: I would look for that too. A multi-family on a street of single families. I followed the same. I love that.
Mehran: Yes, that’s nice.
Josh: And you know what else works. Google Street View is a fantastic tool for doing that as well. The due diligence. If you see bars on all the windows or cars that are blown out and sitting in yards, it kind of tells you what you’re looking at.
Mehran: Yes. I drove around with Google Street View for like two or three hours in that neighborhood. It’s like I practically live there.
Josh: That’s awesome.
Brandon: Nice. Nice. Well cool. I know you mentioned on the forums that you also found a partner through BP. Do you want to talk about that with your next one?
Mehran: Yes. I found my partner on BP. Her name’s Dawn Anastazi. She lives in Milwaukee. After I closed on property number two I was already thinking about the next property. She had posted something on the marketplace. She posted a couple of numbers on certain properties that she’s seen and the numbers in her neighborhood and everything. I was like, “Man, that’s better than I’m seeing in Indianapolis.” I’ve seen her all over the forums giving advice on all the different sub forums. She’s been really helpful. So I’ve seen her around and there was a lot of credibility there. I figured let’s contact her and see if I could work on something with her.
We talked to each other. Vetted each other out. What I really liked about working with her is because we’re part of the BP community we’re always around the same lingo, kind of like the same culture, the same beliefs when it comes to investing; which is like doing it right and doing our due diligence and making sure all the numbers are correct and everything. So far it’s been so smooth working with her because we’re always on the same page with everything. We have the same goals and it’s working out pretty good.
Brandon: That’s fantastic. Can you tell us about the deal that you guys are doing?
Mehran: Okay. Yes. This deal we just closed actually fairly recent on the 31st of May. It was a short sale. Small little two-one house. We bought it for $21,000 cash. Putting about $3,000 into rehab. Our estimated ARV is about $40,000. We have a portfolio lender lined up where we can re-finance right after we finish the rehab and put a tenant in there and get our money back and kind of rinse and repeat. The rent she’s looking to get for it is about $750 to $795 so it’s cash flowing pretty good for what we got it for.
Josh: You know and that just shows like, I know Mehran you didn’t know I was going to do this, but you are one of the most active guys on BiggerPockets. You’re always in there welcoming people and talking and engaging. You are just proof that it works. Getting out there and meeting people and talking with investors. Making deals happen. I think that’s really really awesome.
Mehran: Oh and one last thing. One thing that really helped me get over the hump on making that first offer was posting a post in the deal analysis forum so I can have the opinion of all the other investors on there kind of pick apart my deal and let me know if it’s good or not. So even though I did my own due diligence before that, for some reason I was like stuck at the analysis paralysis stage. I just couldn’t get myself to make that offer.
But after I made the post and I got the feedback from everybody, I felt a little more comfortable moving forward. It really helped a lot. So I suggest any new investors that are honing in on a property that they’re really serious about, and they just can’t get over that hump, if you just post something on the deal analysis forum, you can’t really go wrong with the collective intelligence of people that have done over hundreds of deals. It really helped me get over that edge so I highly suggest that.
Brandon: Yes. That’s awesome. I did kind of the same thing. When I was starting out I would post my deals on there. Like, “Is this really a deal?” It worked really good.
Mehran: I think you actually even contributed to my post. It helped me out big time.
Brandon: Well, that’s cool. That’s good to know.
Mehran: It’s funny. I went back and looked at my first comments I ever made on the forums. And then I looked at the change that was happened from the first time I posted on BP until now is like amazing. I credited it, I wouldn’t say 100% to BiggerPockets but pretty much all my direction has been because of that. I mean I’ve read a lot of books also. I like can’t stop reading books and BiggerPockets. I’m like fascinated with real estate investing now. It’s awesome.
Josh: That’s great. That’s great.
Brandon: Hey what’s your favorite real estate investing book?
Mehran: Actually, I’m kind of reading it right now. I actually got it from some of the BiggerPockets podcasts. It’s How I turn $1,000 into $5,000,000 in Real Estate.
Brandon: Oh yes. By Nickerson.
Mehran: Nickerson. Yeah what I really like about it is he doesn’t just tell you what to do. He breaks down the psychology of why he’s doing it and why it’s kind of the best decision to do this move for this situation and that’s what I really like about it because I like to get into the mindset of a successful investor. Not just like step by step what to do.
Brandon: Yes. That’s awesome. I like that book a lot too. That’s one of my favorites so. Very cool. What are your plans for the future now?
Mehran: So my plans right now are to continue to buy cash flowing properties that I could cash out refinance and get my money back so I can keep rolling with the money I have now. To build a portfolio big enough for me to leave my job. To replace my income that I’m earning right now and leave my job and pursue things full-time.
Brandon: The job that of course that you love.
Mehran: Oh yeah, yeah, I love my job in case any of my coworkers listen to this. My job is not that bad its just the line of work that I do, we have to work graveyard shift and it’s not the ideal shift for me to be working.
Brandon: Look I mean beyond that everybody’s kind of got the dream of, “Hey, I can work for myself and I can have the opportunity and freedom to spend time with family and friends and do what I want to do.” If there’s any boss listening to an employee who says, “Hey, I don’t want to work. I will work my backside off for you while I am working”, but the dream is to not work. Come on.
Mehran: Yes. Having goals for working so hard to accomplish my goals has made me a better employee even at my job. I’m just so motivated and excited all the time rather than just sitting there with my back hunched and all that stuff.
Josh: That’s awesome, man. Well listen I really want to thank you for giving us a couple minutes of your time and I think you shared some cool little tidbits here and it’s exciting to learn about the success that you’re having so we’ll definitely look forward to continuing to watch you as you grow and share what you’ve learned with everybody back in the community.
Mehran: Thank you. Thank you.
Mehran: And thanks for starting BiggerPockets, Josh. And making a community what it is. You guys have made it so awesome for me. It’s so easy now.
Josh: Nice. I appreciate that, man. Thank you.
Mehran: Alright thank you very much, you guys.
Mehran: Bye. Bye.
Josh: That was awesome. Listen, Mehran is definitely one of the many BiggerPockets success stories. It’s so cool.
Brandon: Yes. It is cool. It’s fun to watch him because when he first started posting on the forums he didn’t know a whole lot of what was going on but definitely its pretty cool to watch. I just talked to him the other day and he mentioned he got another deal even since this interview that we recorded. He got another deal that he’s closing soon on.
Brandon: Yes. He’s on fire. It’s awesome.
Josh: That’s great. It proves that you really can’t use your location as an excuse to not invest. Like, “Hey, I live in New York City. I can’t find anything under $50 billion dollars.” You got to find a way to overcome things like that just like Mehran did. Yeah, it’s great.
Brandon: Yes. Awesome. I’m a big fan of his. I’m excited to see where he goes with this.
Josh: Yes. Definitely. Alright, man. Let’s wrap this thing up. For those of you guys who are listening, we really just want to say thank you for supporting BiggerPockets. Furthermore, we actually really want to thank you for supporting your fellow investors around the site. BiggerPockets, I think is so amazing because the people who make up the community. These four investors are all in the earliest stages of their careers and any time they jump on the site and ask questions, those investors who’ve been around are jumping and helping them. What else can you ask for? Brandon, it makes me really proud to be a part of this whole thing.
Brandon: Yes. It was fundamental in my success so far. It continues to be.
Josh: Yes. For sure, well I just want to encourage everybody who was listened to please come and leave a comment on the show notes. Also, make sure to leave some encouragement for these guys. Ideas, encouragement, and questions you’ve got, they’ll be around to answer them to communicate with you. You could check out the show notes at BiggerPockets.com/show25. Finally, if you aren’t a close member of the community, we once again want to invite you to jump into the conversations that are happening everyday on the forums at BiggerPockets.com/forums. Make sure you introduce yourself to the community in the new member introductions, like we said in the quick tip. Let us know who you are and finally come connect with us over at Facebook at Facebook.com/Biggerpockets, until next time. This is Joshua Dorkin.
Brandon: Signing Off.
Josh: You Son of a—
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