Every once in a while, a person comes around that is just a no-nonsense, straight shooter. Michael Rossi is one of those guys. For as long as I’ve known him, he has offered real estate investing advice freely to all those who ask for it. While some may disagree with his style, they can’t argue with his logic or his investment strategy.
Mike has developed a strategy for investing in income properties that has allowed him to build a large portfolio by most people’s standards. He is a full-time investor who has mastered the art of buying properties at a steep discount, with substantial cash-flow, and has shared the wealth of knowledge he has accumulated on both our forums, and in his book, 1 Minute to Rental Property Riches.
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Meet Real Estate Investor Michael Rossi
How long have you been investing in real estate?
I started my rental property business almost four years ago. Prior to that, I was self-employed and was making good money, but didn’t have much set aside for retirement. To correct that situation, I decided to transition to a rental property business, which would not only provide income for my family to live on, but also provide wealth for retirement.
What attracted you to becoming a real estate investor?
The big attraction for me was the ability to generate more passive income and of course the opportunity to build my net worth. Income is great, but wealth is the factor that allows you to continue living a nice lifestyle without working continuously. That is very important to me.
Are you a full time or part time investor?
I am a full time investor in that my rental property business pays the bills and allows me to keep eating! However, “full time” isn’t really quite accurate. In the past 3 1/2 years, I have built a rental portfolio of several dozen rentals. I do all the management and maintenance myself, but this only takes about 12-16 hours per week. During a typical week, I will work 3-4 hours per day, 3-4 days per week. So, while my rental business gives me a full time income, I don’t actually work a full time, 40 hour week.
How did you get started investing?
I got started investing in real estate almost by accident. I had purchased 2 acres for my business and was only using one of them. One day, I had the idea that I might want to buy a double-wide and put it on the spare lot. I did some looking and found a double wide that was in new condition for only $20,000. I put the double-wide on the spare acre and did all the work myself: pouring the footer, laying the blocks, electrical work, plumbing, etc. I found a renter and decided that this entire renting thing was EASY MONEY! Of course, that was just silly, but that’s what I thought at the time.
After I completed this first project, I decided that it would be a LOT less work to simply buy a distressed house and rehab it (no laying blocks). That’s exactly what I did about a month later and I haven’t looked back since!
What is your focus (area of expertise)?
My entire focus is the rental property business, although I have flipped a few houses on a couple of occasions when I had too many deals come together at once.
What do you look for in an investment?
I will only buy rentals that provide at least $100 per month per unit positive cash flow AND 30% equity at closing.
How many deals have you done in your career?
I have acquired several dozen rentals in the past 3 1/2 years. My original goal was to purchase 10 rentals per year, but I have actually surpassed that.
Do you have your real estate license?
What no-nonsense advice would you give to a beginning investor?
Being successful with real estate investing (or any other business) requires a lot of work. You need to study hard and learn the business before you buy ANYTHING. You also need to be sure that you only buy properties that WILL make money. I never buy a property “HOPING” that things will work out. I must be SURE that each property WILL make money before I buy!
What was your toughest deal?
I can’t honestly say that I’ve had a “toughest” deal. Nearly all deals involve frustrations and challenges. Deals frequently don’t close on time and little annoyances are always arising. That’s just part of the business.
Now, if you want to talk about my toughest tenants, I could write an entire book on that subject. I have dealt with a lot of TERRIBLE tenants. In fact, I specialize in buying problem properties, often from disgruntled landlords. On many occasions, we have taken over apartment buildings that were absolutely infested with drug dealers. I’ve been threatened and I’ve had many rentals trashed by the tenants. This can seem very traumatic in the beginning, but it’s really just part of the business.
What was the most difficult thing you’ve faced as a landlord, and how did you deal with it?
I took over one 4-unit apartment building that was occupied by 3 drug dealers. I immediately started eviction proceedings, but it took about 5 weeks to get them out. During that 5 weeks, the police were at the property nearly every day. There was a fight with baseball bats; about 15 crack addicts lived in one of the apartments; there were many, many arrests; and there was constant drama. I received calls from the neighbors and the police nearly every day and made a lot of late night trips to the property. The drug problems on this street had been going on for nearly 5 years and the neighbors were terrorized.
To make a long story short, we ended up taking over 4 buildings on that street and kicking all the drug dealers out. As a result, that entire street has completely turned around and the neighbors love me!
Income or Appreciation?
I operate my rental business for income and instant equity. I MUST have positive cash flow and I MUST have instant equity at closing. While appreciation is nice, I consider that the icing on the cake. Why hope for appreciation when you can have instant equity NOW?
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the rest of us?
Investing in real estate can be the best decision you ever make. It was certainly one of the best decisions I ever made. There is nothing better than the freedom that my rental property business provides: the freedom from a 9-5 job; the freedom to set my own schedule; and the freedom to grow my business and generate whatever income I EARN! It doesn’t get any better than that!
What do you think about BiggerPockets.com?
Participating on BiggerPockets.com is certainly one of the best decisions a new investor can make. Having the opportunity to actually interact with successful investors and follow in their footsteps is extremely valuable! I encourage the new investors to spend some serious time in the forums. They should read every post in their area of interest and ask a lot of questions. There is no excuse for making a bunch of costly mistakes when there is such a valuable resource at their fingertips.
Michael Rossi (MikeOH on the forum) is a full time investor and author of “1 Minute to Rental Property Riches“, which is the one and only book that gives the true story of operating rental properties. Most books on the subject of rental properties contain mostly generalities; motivational nonsense; and promises of instant riches without work. 1 Minute to Rental Property Riches provides the truth about operating rental properties: from the formulas you need to determine the maximum purchase price and cash flow, to procedures for dealing with the “tenant from hell”. No motivational nonsense, just the facts that you need to succeed! 1 Minute to Rental Property Riches is available from the investing store on BiggerPockets.com.