My Quest to a Castle - Hello BP World!

2 Replies

Hello everyone! My name is Kenan (pronounced Ken-in) Heppe. I studied Chemistry at Oregon State University, then moved to L.A. to become an actor. For the past three years, I've made a career in China acting in Chinese T.V. shows and movies. I've always loved making money in entrepreneurial ways, and have consistently viewed real estate as one of the best ways to reliably build wealth. I'm SUPER excited to join this community, and I've already subscribed to the podcast and am reading your awesome posts!

My parents wanted to pay for an expensive Ivy League education. But, when I was 18, I thought of a different plan. I made a deal with my father. I pitched going to an inexpensive state school, and using the rest of my college fund to buy a home in Hollywood after graduating, on the condition I graduate top of my class as a science major. He agreed. 

It was the end of 2011 when I graduated summa cum laude at OSU in chemistry, and we bought a short sale condo in L.A. I just sold it three months ago and paid my dad back for the college money and down payment of the condo. For the past eight years, I've lived very humbly (you're sort of forced to as an actor if you want to survive). To save money over the years, I ate nothing but oatmeal, egg whites, plain chicken breasts, and broccoli. But it has all finally paid off. I've now ready to start Phase 2 of the master plan.

Phase 1 was the condo. I lucked out in multiple ways, of course. My father agreed to the plan, and the economy crashed. But at 18, I saw it. I feel like I have decent instincts, but I want to sharpen them. In any case, I want to tell you what I'm up to.

Next week, I head to Montenegro. I'm a bit nervous about the U.S. economy at the moment. There are many factors that I haven't learned how to properly analyze. But Montenegro is up and coming, friendly to foreign investors, high tourism, low tax, and is on track to join the EU in the next five years. For these reasons, I'm excited to potentially start my rental income business over there (I know it's a bold move for a first purchase to be international, but I'm doing proper due diligence). 

My ultimate goal is to have a castle, because I'm a nerd. And I want to secure the lives of my grandchildren, and their grandchildren. So, there it is! Happy to meet all of you, and I love reading your tips. I'm currently moving through Udemy's online course in real estate, going through the BP reading list, and practicing building rental assessment models. I don't want to get pinned down into one type of investing, but rather learn the ebbs and flows of the market and do what makes sense at any given time. But, from what I've seen, multifamily units in second tier seem like a decent place to start. 

I hate to be a part popper and I don’t want to dampen your enthusiasm but I’m not sure starting your real estate career in Montenegro is a great move.

I started my team estate career internationally but I did it in the Riviera Maya in Mexico a much more profitable and safer market, in which I had unique connections.

I looked at Montenegro. The only thing that would make sense for an overseas investor is to do short term rentals. Yet short term rentals in Montenegro are less profitable than long term rentals in most of the US, especially because you’ll most likely have to pay 100% cash. If you hope for large capital gains, it’s pure speculation.

Foreigners buy in Montenegro because it’s cheaper than Croatia. It’s like buying in Detroit instead of New York City because it’s cheaper. Real estate investing doesn’t work like that. Montenegro is a poor country by our standards. Aside from a very small coastline, that beautiful small country has hardly any industry or natural resources and only tourists have enough money to rent what investors buy.

My first rule when it comes to international investing is that I’ll never take the additional risks of investing in another country of I don’t make significant more money than what I could make in my home country (Canada).

The good news is that you're educating yourself and doing your due diligence so you'll be able to draw your own conclusions. Bear in mind though that there are many differences between countries when it comes to real estate investing. For example, the most profitable strategies with long term rentals in the US are multifamily investing and the BRRRR strategy. They pretty much work only in the US and Canada.

Hope this helps without discouraging you

Hey Mike! I'm not discouraged at all by your input. It helps a lot! Have you specifically looked at Old Town, Kotor in Montenegro? It's a fifteenth century medieval town with year-round tourism, and in the summer months it's packed. Being a UNESCO world heritage site also protects it from new development, therefore one can essentially buy a fixed piece of history. I'm able to get a 50% loan there. Indeed, I'd be relying solely on tourism to fill the short-term rentals. But the tourism in Old Town is very high. What do you think of that specific area?

I want to invest more at home, but the U.S. market seems so confusing right now. Short term rentals, and long-term multifamily BRRRR plays seem great. I totally agree.