Meet the Investor: Real Estate Investing Interview with Chris Clement


I thought I had it bad when I bought my current residence (the previous owner left at least 100 pounds of dog crap in the back yard, hundreds of cigarette butts, broken bottles, and construction materials buried in the snow – imagine my surprise as the snow melted!) . . . at least I was cleaning up the outside. I feel for Chris and his misadventures in the cat house . . . know that you’re not alone Chris!

Meet Investor Chris Clement

How long have you been investing in real estate?
Just under three years

Are you a full time or part time investor?
I was full time up until about two months ago. The investment business has grown enough to where I can now focus on my real estate brokerage company.

How did you get started investing?

I was very happily working in the Silicon valley during the tech boom. However things started going wrong for my company (mainly due to creative reporting) and my department was downsized. I was shipped to New York where I quickly realized that no company was going to secure my family’s future. I had family in Texas interested in investing in real estate so I spent a year working very hard to pay down all of my debt and raise capitol. I took all of my stock options, my 401K and cashed them in. My wife and I threw about 70K at the business while my partners were able to throw a bit more at it.

Tell Us About Your First Deal . . .

I called it the “Cat House.” This woman had been living in the house with no electricity for over a year. She had three dogs and more cats than one could count. She had converted the master bedroom into the potty room for the cats – she poured cat littler directly onto the carpet. The entire house had animal hair all over it. I took a razor blade to the window to clean them and cat hair came of with the grime. The floors looked as if someone walked in with buckets of cat hair and dropped piles everywhere. The smell was terrifying. My brother stated “It’s not like you walk into this house and smell the strong odor of animal urine, it’s more like you walk into this house and a cat pisses in your face.” It was the perfect flip. We did a lot of work to the house and made 30K net profit (a very good profit in my market).

What is your focus (area of expertise)?

Middle class rent homes. Rent homes for people with children that have been unable to purchase for one reason or another but still want a yard, a garage and a nice home for their family. Rental homes afford us a good foundation. We’ll flip when we need the cash but that’s a big decision. If we can purchase a rental home and make the same amount of money in three years that a flip would provide, why would we get rid of that residual income and the asset? It’s all about what your personal goals are.

How many deals have you done in your career?

How do you finance most of your deals?
Mostly cash. Although we have used and continue to use a line of credit when we find something too good to pass up. We pay it down very quickly from the income our investments throw off. Our philosophy, contrary to most book you will read on the subject, is to be as debt free as possible. It works for us.

Do you have your real estate license?
Yes, as well as my Brokers license. It’s been invaluable as far a finding the investments – it also saves me a bit on the transaction.

What advice would you give to a beginning investor?
You don’t need to quit your day job. But more importantly, have a plan to invest every penny the company makes back into the company. Our plan is a five year plan. Then we’ll round table and see where we stand. No one is allowed to draw income from the company for at least five years. This way the company is sure to grow and when five years comes along, the company should be able to stand on it’s own two feet and afford to pay employees.

What was your toughest deal?
The cat house. It’s not as easy as the T.V. shows and books lead you to believe. A lot of learning went into that house.

What would your dream deal be?
My exit. Sell my portfolio in one transaction and be set for the rest of my children’s life.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the rest of us?
Yes. This business is like any other job. You have to be dedicated and you have to work at it. It won’t come easy but if you trust your instincts (and your math), you can build an empire. Oh yeah, do a lot of the work yourself if possible, you’ll grow faster. And paint the ceilings the same color as the walls…it saves so much time!

What do you think about (trick question)
LOL. Truthfully, I subscribed to your blog about two months ago and you’re still in my feed reader. That in itself speaks volumes.

Chris Clement
“I wasn’t born in Texas but I got here a soon as I could.”

About Author

Joshua Dorkin

Joshua Dorkin (@jrdorkin, Google+) founded when he saw a need for free, trustworthy information about real estate investing online. Over the past 12 years, Josh has grown the site from self-funded hobby to full-time job and passion. Today, BiggerPockets brings together over 600,000 members, housing the world’s largest library of real estate content, iTunes’ #1 real estate podcast, and an array of analysis tools, all geared toward helping users succeed.

1 Comment

  1. I bought a Cat type house once as well, I bought it after a land contract had exprired and the guy had locked 9 cats in the home then abandoned it. Needless to say 9 cats and 6 months later, the smell was out of control. Not only did the cats piss and S*it all over, but they died as well. Not pretty. I felt bad for the cats, Im sure the old owner will get his in time.
    The home litterally smelled from the street.

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