BiggerPockets Podcast 308: From 0 to 400 Units in 3.5 Years with Sterling White

by | BiggerPockets.com

Would your life be positively impacted by owning over 400 rental units? What if you could get there in under four years? On today’s show, we interview BiggerPockets contributor Sterling White, who has managed to do just that!

Sterling shares how he started his entrepreneurial journey selling Pokemon cards and eventually worked his way up to owning over 150 single family properties (and several multifamilies as well). He also shares how he finds 90-100% of his properties OFF MARKET using a five-step system for finding and closing on them (so simple anyone can do it), as well as the script he uses when speaking directly to sellers. You don’t want to miss his powerful secret for building rapport with potential leads (by sending a specific puzzle to them in the mail) and how he raises money to close on these properties.

If you want to scale your business and want the blueprint for how to do it, don’t miss this powerful episode!

Click here to listen on iTunes.

Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

This is the Bigger Pockets podcast 308.

You’re listening to Bigger Pockets radio. Simplifying real estate for investors large and small. If you’re here looking to learn about real estate investing without all the hype, you’re in the right place. Stay tuned and be sure to join the millions of others who have benefitted from BiggerPockets.com, your home for real estate investing online.

Brandon: What’s going on everyone? This is Brandon, today’s host of the Bigger Pockets podcast. I’m here with my co-host, Mr. David Greene. What’s up buddy?

David: Not much, dude. I was just about to ask you the same thing. Actually really smoky out here in California. There’s been a couple of wild fires.

Brandon: Oh yeah, you guys have got the fires.

David: Luckily, I’m safe but the air’s really bad.

Brandon: Yeah. Sorry about that. But you know, thank you for all the fire fighters out there putting out those fires. You guys rock. So yeah, today’s show. It’s a good one.

David: Very good.

Brandon: You ready for this?

David: We have a very popular contributor on Bigger Pockets named Sterling White. He puts out a lot of blog posts, he makes videos, he’s always educating people. Today, we get to dive a little deeper into the Sterling story, which actually has a nice little ring to it, and find out what he does and how he does it.

Brandon: We cover everything today from…basically he’s gone to zero to 400, negative net worth to 400 units in three and a half years which is crazy. He talks about how he does that by knowing what he’s good at and knowing what he’s not good at. Also, make sure you guys listen to his rubik’s cube thing which is incredible. You guys are going to love that, his story about rubik’s cube. And all sorts of good stuff today. So you’re going to like this a lot. Hang tight for that. But before we get into that, let’s get to today’s quick tip.

As you know last week, we launched the new 30 Days of Good Intentions Journal here on Bigger Pockets. So I want to remind you that if you get the journal on BiggerPockets.com/Journal before the end of December, you not only get the journal but also access to exclusive online class I’m teaching on productivity. You’re going to love that.

And to remind you also that if you get it before the end of the month, you also get access to your very own intentional mastermind group with three to five other people in the Bigger Pockets community working on their big 90-day goal. I really believe that this mastermind group thing is the most powerful part of this entire thing. 

And then two more final things before we move on. Number 1, we only printed 5,000 copies of these journals for the first run and they will sell out. I’m a 100% sure. So get yours today if you want it, before the New Year.

Secondly, you can actually buy this in four packs and save 30%. It’s basically like buy 3 get 1 free for an entire year’s worth of journals, right?  Because 90 times 4 is almost 365, right?  So I challenge you to jump into the journal, jump into the intentional mastermind groups and let’s make the next 90 days of your life the most incredible 90 days ever. Just go to BiggerPockets.com/Journal.

And that is today’s not-so-quick tip.

And with that, let’s get to today’s guest. As we’ve said, today’s guest is Sterling White, an awesome real estate investor. He really knows his stuff.  Crushing it. 400 units in three and a half years. You guys are going to love this. So let’s bring him in.

Sterling, welcome to the Bigger Pockets podcast. Good to have you here.

Sterling: Oh, yes! Let’s bring the heat, the fire.

Brandon: I love it. It’s funny, you and I just met here in person…I don’t know, do we call Skype in person? Whatever this is. But you’ve been doing videos on BP, you’ve been doing blogs, you’ve been around for a while now. But I’m honored to finally meet the man today. So I’m pumped. I’m probably more excited than you are. It’s going to be great.

Sterling: No, I’m more excited than you are. I just had to one-up you.

Brandon: Alright. So we’re going to go to the very beginning of your journey. How did you get started with real estate? What did you do before that? Walk into it.

Sterling: Yes. So this goes back to my early days of childhood. I got into the whole entrepreneurship field in elementary. My first product was selling Kool-Aid to kids around the schools, the classes. And then, Pokemon cards. Ultimately anything that I can get my hands on. Was born and raised here in Indianapolis, Indiana. The not-so-good parts of the city. You can’t walk your dog during the night time or even during the day.

So to fast forward how I got into real estate was ultimately the universe. I had a roommate in college. He was in the construction field and he said, “hey, why don’t work alongside me?”. That’s how I got a bug on real estate and fell in love with it ultimately.

Brandon: Very cool. So tell us about the first deal. What was the very first thing you did with real estate?

Sterling: So the very first deal was, I would say, I found this for my mentor, which I would mention to everyone, if you can find a mentor when you get started in the industry, it’s huge. I actually started working for this individual for free. So I found the deal and they brought the capital. Well, he specifically brought the capital and then I retained equity instead of getting myself a wholesale fee.

Brandon: Interesting. Let’s talk about that. First of all, I want to talk about the whole work for free thing. A lot of people are like, “know your value”. You know? Know what you’re worth and never work for free. How do you view that?

Sterling: I would say, through the course of that I learned so much. I would say probably over a million dollars or two million dollars worth of tuition. People thought I was crazy but there was so much real life experiences that I got from that that I did not get in college whatsoever. So that’s kind of how I viewed it.

Brandon: So would you advise other people that it’s ok to work for free then?

Sterling: I would say, if you can get paid for it, then go that route. But for me, I just wanted to learn ultimately.

Brandon: Cool, cool. I like it. Instead of a wholesale fee, you negotiated for equity. What does that even mean?

Sterling: Yes. So it was a $40,000 house in Indianapolis. There are really affordable houses here. I promise you it was not falling over. So with that, I could have taken a fee and sold it to him for $45,000 but instead I told him, hey, I would like to retain 15% equity in this and then you can have the remaining 85. And I was ultimately thinking long term versus short term.

Brandon: That’s smart.

David: So let me ask you, Sterling. I have a question about that. When you guys decided you were going to get 15% equity, did you drop some kind of operating agreement so you’d understand what if one of you wants to sell it, what if one of you wants to keep it, do you only get paid at the exit, how do you split up the cash flow? Can you tell us about the way you structure that in case someone else wants to do the same thing?

Sterling: Yes, we did put together, it was a handshake initially but he has the experience of being an attorney and so through that he drafted an operating agreement that in the event that we sell, you get 15% of the profits and then also of the cash flows, you get 15% as well and he’ll get the remaining.

David: So do you have an agreement in place with the reserves that you’re going to have to keep and anything above that, you split up the cash flow?

Sterling: On that, that’s a great question. I would say this was years ago so I do not know the specific one to that one.

Brandon: That’s fine. That’s fine. Often our early deals, we tell the stories on our podcast. One we don’t always remember every detail and that’s fine. But also, they weren’t always done right. If I told my very first property, what I did, you should not do what I did for my very first property or my second or my third or my tenth. You know? We learn throughout our careers and that’s ok. It’s a part of the fun journey that we’re on.

I wonder how did you find that first deal? You mentioned and I missed it or you did not mention that?

Sterling: Yes, so that first one was actually found through another wholesaler.  And this was 2013 right when I was making the transition from the construction side to more on the investing portion. And through that is when you can actually get good quality deals from wholesalers I would say.

Brandon: You say that like you can’t today. What do you mean?

Sterling: I would say no. Not from my experiences. More of just over-inflated and construction costs are way under what they’re supposed to be.

Brandon: That’s so true. Why are there so many bad wholesalers out there?

Sterling: I wouldn’t say stigma, but there’s a lot of people getting into the industry. And there are classes being held on wholesaling. So there’s quite a bit of newbies that just don’t know what they’re doing just yet. But I would say there’s the whole 80-20 principle and maybe even 90-10 principle in this case, to where there’s only actually 10% that are actually the ones making moves and actually providing good deals.

Brandon: That’s so true. 

David: Yes and it’s completely unregulated, right? It’s like the wild, wild west in the world of wholesaling. There’s no licensing, there’s no regulation. Anyone can say I’m a wholesaler and what that really means is I’m acting like a real estate agent but I don’t have a license. They give you bad advice. They tell you it’s a 30,000 rehab and it’s a 70,000 rehab. They lie on the ARV and say, oh I didn’t know, I thought it was, here’s the comp, you know, in Bel-Air even though I was in Compton or something. It shows that this is what it should be.

So they can give you a massively inaccurate ARV and there’s no consequences for them if they do. But if it’s a licensed real estate agent and they’re giving you information that completely bad, they can get in trouble for it. But with wholesalers, there’s not.  You know there’s a lot of people out there that are hungry for deals and then you have wholesalers that are basically trying to learn about real estate investing while making money at the same time, which is very dangerous.

So you have to be extra careful when you vet from a wholesaler. Wholesaling isn’t really a title that mean anything. So you’re right. It’s hard. It’s hard to find deals. It pushes a lot of people to make decisions that are a little bit riskier than they should be.

Sterling: Exactly. And always, just as an investor, do your due diligence. If a wholesaler sends you a deal, just don’t go based upon what they say. You always have to complete your own research.

Brandon: Yes, that’s so true. I mean I always tell people about this. In real estate, never trust your agent, never trust your, I mean it sounds bad right? Never trust your wholesaler, never trust your mom. At the end of the day, you are responsible for your financial life. You have to do your math homework. Don’t just take it at face value or what the agent said a property is worth. Ask why is it worth that, show me a couple of examples. Dig into it a little bit. You have to take responsibility. This is my financial future here, I’m going to do the work to make sure it is worth what it is.

David: And that might be one of the reasons why you want to work for someone else for free because you can see the way they analyze deals, how they do their due diligence and see the process they go through. And it gives you a better idea on how to do the same.

Sterling: And my biggest take away from that was they had, going back to the mentorship, was able to compact 20 plus years of knowledge, education, mistakes into the 2 and a half, 3  years of working with that person. It was just huge.

Brandon: Yes. Huge. So what came next?

Sterling: So the next deal. And then it basically snowballed from that point to where I was doing some, and this was me figuring it out ultimately, is I was doing wholesaling, I was doing buy and hold, I was doing fix and flips and finally just decided on I’m going to go all the way in on the buy and hold and I just bought one single family and then just kept buying, buying, buying from that point.

Brandon: So why did you decide to get into buy and hold? You could be doing flips, wholesales, why the switch?

Sterling: The switch was, I’ve seen, if you look at the highly successful, they were  ultimately buying and holding and that’s how they build their long-term wealth. There was the tax benefits. And then it’s more of you purchase it, do the rehab, and ultimately, I would say there’s less work when you think of the correlation with the fix and flip, which also on that side is highly taxable versus on the other side, it’s passive income. So there’s not as taxed as it is on the other side.

Brandon: That’s very true. So tell us about your first rental property?

Sterling: So that first rental property, which I would say was the one I partnered with my mentor, and I’ve learned so much because I was thrown into the fire ultimately. So I did the closing with the title company, I took all the tenant calls that came in, I managed the contractors. It was a complete nightmare, but I learned a lot and absolutely loved it and I would go back and do it again. No, actually, no I wouldn’t.

Brandon: It’s one of those I’m glad I did it and it got me to where I am. I would not want to do that one again. That’s the funny thing. Actually way back in the day, I used to ask people that question all the time. What would you do differently if you could go back and change anything? And the answer I usually got is what I give today. I wouldn’t change anything, right? I wouldn’t change anything if I went back and did it again because it got me to where I am. But it doesn’t mean I want to repeat that and I want anybody else to repeat that. Right?

So what were some of the things that made that a rough property?

Sterling: I would just say mainly because of the amount of work that it needed to do myself. I was managing the contractors and I had no idea what construction was at that time. I knew construction but I did not know how to determine the rehab on a single family residence and how to…and then also managing the contractors, which my skill today is not a manager. So those were the biggest things that I ultimately learned through that process.

Brandon: That makes sense.

David: I have a question for you, Sterling. You mentioned you’re not a manager and I like that you said that because it shows that you’ve actually thought about what your strengths are and what your strengths aren’t, right? And in my opinion, one of the things that keep people from getting started or progressing to the next level is they don’t feel comfortable and they don’t know why. And you do understand that I don’t like managing so anything that involves me having to manage people, I just don’t want to get into it because I won’t move forward.

So tell me a little bit, A, what your strengths are, and B, how did you change the direction of your business and the types of things you invested in to fit your strengths.

Sterling: That is a great point and that’s one thing I wanted to get to as well is be self aware. For myself is, on the financials underwriting is 2+2=200. I’m not a math person whatsoever. And then also operations, I’m messy. So through the course of that, I found a partner who’s superb in that and it compliments those weaknesses because I’m more again on the sales and marketing etcetera. So we were able to basically compliment each other. And I fill those holes which allowed us ultimately to scale our business.

Brandon: Yes. I love that.

David: Where did your business go? What direction did it take?

Sterling: So right now I own just a little under 400 units comprised of mostly single family and multi-family.

Brandon: Wow. So you went from that first deal and you got into a little bit of flipping, wholesaling, rentals. And then 400 units. That’s amazing, right? We got a  lot of time to cover all this. I don’t want to pack this up now.

So when did you start doing large, I’m assuming you started with single family houses and you must’ve shifted into multi-family. What does your portfolio look like today? What type of properties do you own, where are they, kind of just a broad overview if  you could. And then we’ll go back and dig in and pull out some cool points.

Sterling: So it’s mostly C class assets and C  plus to B minus neighborhoods. So distress is when we purchase some and then we add the whole value add-through. Our renovations push up the rent. And it’s a mix of 150 of those are single-families and then the remaining, what is it, 249-275 is multi-family.

Brandon: Wow. That’s a lot of single family houses.

Sterling: Yes. And why we shifted to multi-family. 

Brandon: Yes because that’s a lot. I mean how do you buy a hundred and something single-family houses? People always complain, I can’t get more than four mortgages. I can’t get more than 10 mortgages. How do you get a hundred

and fifty-ish of single family houses? Walk us through that.

Sterling: One is having an abundance mindset. When I got started in the industry I had no credit and negative money in the bank. I actually withdrew my account so that’s how I had negative. So it was also why I partnered and first started with friends and family capital and then bringing investors in to where that’s when we basically did the BER method. So we would purchase the properties ourselves. Again we’re in Indianapolis. Our properties are super affordable. And then we would be all in to them, they we would be cash flowing and then we would bring investors in, cash ourselves out and just go do it again.

Brandon: That’s awesome. I really like that a lot. So walk us through this idea of bringing in partners and raising money and that kind of stuff. How have you done that in your career? People struggle with that a lot and you just kind of seem to dominate it. How did you get to do that? Walk us through that.

Sterling: So it was basically from those initial relationships. Starting with your power base ultimately. Everyone, I would imagine, everyone has a rich uncle somewhere from their family line. Or someone knows someone. Ask something. So it’s just all about starting with your inner circle and branching out. And it ultimately just snowballed from that point on.

So again, you can start with your power base or if you want to extend outside of that, you can attend local networking events that are real estate focused. And then also leverage BiggerPockets.com. It’s a huge source. And you ultimately have to be solving a problem for someone, find a deal, provide great returns. And then someone out there doesn’t have the time to find deals and you’re basically bridging that gap.

Brandon: Yes. That makes sense. So I’m going to ask about family and friends real quick. Some people worry about that, if I want to work with family and friends, first of all,  my family and friends don’t have any money, or I don’t want to work with them. What do you say about that? Or should I work with them? How can people cover that?

Sterling: I would say that’s just something you’re going to have to overcome ultimately if you’re going to get started. I’ve always just, I never ran into those situations, I’ve always just thought about something and then acted on it.

Brandon: Sure. But people are afraid. People are just terrified. And I, unlike you Sterling, I’m afraid to ask somebody to partner with me. I’m afraid to ask somebody to fund and go into an apartment building with me. What would you say to those people?

Sterling: I would say what is the alternative? Not getting or…what’s the alternative? Not going for your dreams or not being able to jump into multi-family to hopefully spark, light a fire underneath them or something. Or find someone or partner with someone who has those resources.

Brandon: Yes. I love that.

David: So Sterling, one thing you mentioned is that you don’t like to manage projects or people and you don’t like the numbers and the analytical stuff. And yet, you scaled a very big portfolio in a relatively short period of time. So quickly, how long was it that all of this were acquired?

Sterling: 3 ½ years. 

David: 3 ½ years. So what roles did you play and how did you use your strengths to drive this thing forward?

Sterling: So my drive was on the actual acquisitions side which I really enjoy. The whole mechanism of, we do about 90 to 100% of our deals, I’d say about 100 on off-market side. So that’s my focus, even though we’re acquiring, we’re still utilizing sales. So through that is getting in touch with the decision maker. If they’re not interested, following up with them, getting them in the pipeline and once they are interested in selling, boom, we’re there. We pull the trigger and move forward. And then the other half is the whole front branding side which is basically getting investors in the funnel and they become partners.

Brandon: That’s cool. So off market. 90 to 100% of your deals are off market. First of all, can you explain what that means? Can you walk us through what that means and then let’s walk through some of your marketing strategies. What do you do to get leads coming in?

Sterling: Gosh. So this has got to be my favorite, I would say ultimately my favorite. I just get super jazzed up about it. But it was…by off market, I mean is, on market is let’s say you’re going through a broker or real estate agent and it’s actually listed online. So anyone could actually go there, visibly see it, the details, etcetera, on that asset. Off market is the seller could  not even be of interest of actually selling the property. You actually reach out to them.

Brandon: Ok. So you find people that aren’t necessarily shopping their deals around right away. You’re getting off market. So what are you doing? Direct mail marketing or what are you doing there?

Sterling: Everything.

Brandon: Everything. But what does that mean? I love that answer. But let’s dig into that.

Sterling: Or whatever it takes. So the first mechanism is we set up a call system. So that’s the first touch point, cold call. We make indirect mail if we’re having trouble getting in touch with the decision maker or we just want to stay top of mind. And then also, there is the personal visit. Meaning, “hey John Smith, I’m going to be in the neighbourhood next Thursday, how about we meet for coffee?”. Half the time, I did not plan on doing that. But prime example is the owners at… say yes let’s meet up. I’m driving out to… to meet with them.

Brandon: That’s awesome. I don’t know anyone nor had anyone on this show that the first contact is a cold call. So I want to definitely dig into this. I am terrified of cold calling, right? I would rather swim with sharks or something, get bitten by a centipede.

Sterling: It works.

Brandon: Oh man. So what do you, who are you calling? I mean are you picking up the phone book and just going A, the Adams? Who are you calling for this?

Sterling: So what we’ll do is, which also I would love to break down the process, because we also have it into three key roles too. Because it was just actually one person which is, oh gosh, it’s an animal. But through that, you find the LLC that owns the property and then you can skip trace that LLC, meaning doing a Google search on it, go to manta.com, betterbusinessbureau.com, etcetera. Find who owns that and then dig to find their contact information and then that’s when you pick up the phone and call them.

Brandon: I love that. So what do you say when you call them?

Sterling: Hey, John Smith, Sterling here. I just purchased 123 Main Street around the corner from yours. I want to personally reach out to you to see if you’d consider selling?

Brandon: And they say, “I don’t know, I’m not really in the market.” What do you say?

Sterling: Sir, I completely understand, however if I can provide you the right price, would you consider on selling?

Brandon: Well maybe. What’s the right price? You got a number? 

Sterling: So in order for me to provide an educated offer for you, John Smith, what you can do is provide financials. We can start the underwriting and we’ll have a solid and great offer to you within 24 to 48 hours. Sound good?

Brandon: Well, sounds alright. Maybe we can meet up later, I can show you the property.

Sterling: Look at that. Perfect. Exactly. There we go.

Brandon: I like it. You’ve got this.

Sterling: Oftentimes, you’ll get a lot of it and this is why people don’t like the cold calling route is you’ll get kicked in the face quite a bit. So you just have to train  yourself to get past those objections when they’re just not interested. Hey, I completely understand. I knew it before you even called. Give me thirty seconds if you don’t like what you hear, I’ll hang up myself.

Brandon: Wow. I like that. What? Go ahead, David. You take it. 

David: I was going to say…now I don’t remember what I was going to say. Sterling is taking control of that whole conversation, right? He’s not letting the other person say, what are you calling me for, why are you here, you’re just like all the other telemarketers. That’s what gets you kicked in the face. Right? He’s walking in, taking control, he’s offering him a solution, he’s seeing if there’s interest and if not he’s getting out before you get the chance to kick him.

And then your ego isn’t taking a beating the whole time. Hey, cold calling right? A passive approach for you would be like, “Umm, hi. I kind of want to buy your house but I don’t really know how to ask that. I don’t want to offend you and I don’t want to bring this up. But would it be ok if we talked?” That makes the other person pissed off because now you’re wasting their time. And then they’re going to respond with that negativity.

So I think, like what you said, when you’re getting kicked in the face a lot, you just develop a tough face, and you learn how to see when that kick is coming and you know how to get out of there before it comes.

Sterling: Yes. And this goes back to my childhood too. I was born and grew up in not so good parts of the city where you wouldn’t want to walk your dogs at night or during the day. So of that environment, again, is where the entrepreneur spirit came from. But I got quite a bit of rejection and had to figure it out ultimately to get things that I wanted. So that just translated into the business world.

Brandon: Yes. That’s so good. Because I really struggle with that idea of calling these people and getting kicked in the face. I really, I don’t know, my personality just can’t handle it. But I like the idea of you’re not calling them to ask for a favor. You’re calling with a real-life solution. Most landlords hate being landlords. Most investors are not out there looking to make their business better. They inherited their property or somehow they got caught up in some scheme or luck or whatever. So a lot of people just absolutely hate being a landlord or owning rental properties. So when you can approach them with a, hey this is what I do, and in fact, my 24-unit that I own in Washington, I had a guy cold call me out of the blue. I ended up selling to him because I was like, yeah you know what, I’m a little tired of this property right now. I want to move into something bigger. I want to change things up. He hit me at the right point at the right time. Was I offended? Of course not. He actually helped me quite a bit to be able to sell that property.

And for him, he just went in there and raised all the rents and making a killing out of it right now. And I’m kicking myself for not raising all the rents, but…

Sterling: And the thing on that too is if you’re not interested initially, it’s all sales ultimately even though you’re not buying, you have to implement the follow ups. What the follow up is, is very crucial in terms of, even though you’re buying, this is ultimately selling, so I’m going to drop it to you gently to you guys here, is I send rubik’s cubes to owners and what that rubik’s cube is saying is…

Brandon: Those little puzzle thingies?

Sterling: Yes the little puzzle thing. The little small miniature. I thought I had it with me. But it had a small note that says, let’s figure this out.

Brandon: Dude, I love that. That is awesome.

Sterling: At one point, I was called up by the owner and he was, “ I cannot get my wife to figure out this rubik’s cube.” And the funny thing is, just staying top of mind because the right timing that you mentioned in case they do decide to sell, they’re going to think of the guy who sent the rubik’s cube. That’s the buyer.

David: This is really, really smart. And people, investors have a hard time because they think they’re going to walk in, get one punch, knock out their opponent, get the deal and walk away. And that is just now how life works. Every once in a while, you’ll catch one of those but normally it’s not. They teach us in sales training that follow up is actually more important than lead generation which is what Sterling is talking about.

If you make the call and they’re not interested, you need to look at it like  you swing your ax and it hit the tree. The tree didn’t fall but you made a divot. And that divot will allow the ax to find this hole the next time you swing it. And you never know how many chops it’s going to take but eventually the tree will go down because eventually, that seller’s going to be at a point where they want to sell.

And they teach us this trick in real estate sales where if you want to get a listing or if you want to help a buyer, you need to be one of the first persons they think of when they think about real estate. And they use this example of toothpaste. How many kinds of toothpastes are out there? There’s like fifty different kinds, right? And if you put someone, you hold them, to have to give you a very quick answer, and you say, tell me the first two brands  you can think of, everybody says the same thing. They say Crest and Colgate.

Crest and Colgate own the real estate mind share of everybody who thinks about toothpaste. So if  you’re walking in the store and you look at different brands that you don’t know, the moment you see your Crest and Colgate, you’re going to grab it.

So what Sterling is doing is he’s becoming the Crest and the Colgate to these sellers that reach out to you.

Brandon: You should put that on your business card.

David: Well you do have very white teeth. It would make sense, actually. So yeah, I’m your Crest to your Colgate. So the minute they get like, oh my gosh the tenants are late on their rent again. What? It’s going to be that much money to get this property around. I’m tired of this. I guarantee you, they’re thinking of Sterling right away. Right? I need my toothpaste, he’s my Colgate. That’s what they go with.

And then if you’re not willing to put that work in on that lead follow up, to establish that brand dominance in their mind, you shouldn’t even bother getting started with this because if you think you’re going to lock in there with one swing to take out the tree, this isn’t realistic. The smart ones come up with this system. They develop a funnel and they just chop and chop and chop. And eventually, how many single-family houses do you have, a hundred and fifty or whatever? You’ve taken down how many trees.

Sterling: Yes. And if you keep going one channel, that seller will get mad and then that’s how you get on the block list. If you’re getting creative on the follow up, they don’t even realize that you’re following up ultimately.

David: Yes. Which is what that rubik’s cube is, right? 

Sterling: Exactly.

David: You came in with the hay maker and he blocked it. And now if you do that again, he’s going to see that again. So instead, you hit them with a hook or a body blow and they didn’t expect that. And now you have a rapport and not getting kicked in the face every time you talk to them.

Sterling: Yes. Because I’ve just gone through so many hate makers.

David: But that’s one thing Brandon won’t do, he’s always trying to protect his pretty face.

Brandon: I got to keep the beard, please.

Sterling: And then one thing is, if you’re not someone who wants to do cold calls, find someone on Upwork for instance or even Fiber. I would recommend Upwork. For $15-20 an hour that does the qualifying for you and then they set the appointment for you to then close it.

David: So you mentioned that you’re finding all of these people. You basically gave us five steps. Find an LLC, trace the number, call the owner, propose the solution and then meet the owner if they’re interested. Are you only calling the other investors through their LLC’s because they’re more likely to want to sell or is it easier to find their numbers? Why are you targeting that demographic?

Sterling: Yes so on our side, we like mom and pop owners. Some of them even have the entity under their personal name so that makes it even easier to do that. But our focus is, I would say, 75 to 125 or 150 apartment complexes and the more you go up the more sophisticated. So we carved out that niche because we feel not only you get more mom and pops, but also through mom and pops, it is more likely to get it off market versus some things let’s say I’ll just go with a broker and get top dollar for it.

Brandon: Yes. That makes sense. Alright, let’s talk about the people that you’re buying from. These larger multi-family properties. I mean, again, you say they get sophisticated the higher you get. So is there one decision maker in these deals or is there usually two or three, is it a team? How have you found…the second part of the question is, how big are we talking about here in terms of the property you have and what’s the ownership like on these?

Sterling: Right now, largest is 80 units. And in terms of the ownership, there’s normally just one decision maker which is the most recent 80-unit that we bought a month ago was one individual. He had multiple partners but he owns majority percentage so we were just going through him and his son actually managed the property and was running it to the ground because he was not a manager at all. It was thrown into the fire because his dad didn’t want to manage it. So that was perfect for our side.

Brandon: Ok. That makes sense. Ok so let’s shift to financing a little bit. How are you putting the financing together? Do you just pay, I’m assuming, in cash out of your wallet for the 80-unit or maybe not?

Sterling: Yes, right out of my back pocket. And David gave me money too.

Brandon: So how do you do financing? First of all, let’s go back to the time when you were buying single-family houses. You were buying dozens of single-family houses here. How are you putting together money for that and into multi, how are you doing that?

Sterling: So I just basically use the same investor network. Just friends and family and also investors that we’ve basically marketed and got into our funnel and provided them value by giving them returns for cash. We took those relationships from the single-family side transactions to the multi-family.

Brandon: Ok. I love that you said the funnel. What do you mean by that? You got them into your funnel. Some people look at that as kind of a negative thing but if, David Greene knows me, my middle name is funnel. I talk all about them. What do you mean by “you get people into your funnel and funding your deals”? What does that mean?

Sterling: So the way I figure it is or my philosophy in a way is basically be grabbing people’s attention, “hey! hey you!”, and through the course of that you have the top of it which is all these people that are interested in your product and then you do the qualifying to find that, ok, this person has the capacity to invest with you. And also, they have the same investment philosophy. They’re not fix and flip, or buy and hold. You get through the course of that, now we have a qualified investor partner. And then that’s when they invest in our deals. That’s how you get them in the funnel. It’s top and then funnelling them down.

Brandon: So what are some of the things you say to like “Hey! Come into my funnel.” What do you do, are you out there with a sign on the side of the road saying “I’m looking for investors.”? I’m assuming not.

Sterling: No there’s an SEC regulation.

Brandon: Yes, the government doesn’t like that. The sign on the side of the road.

Sterling: But I would say, it’s ultimately being of value and a great book I would recommend, I don’t know, you’d probably like this too Brandon, Jab Right Hook by Gary V. Phenomenal book in terms of that over arching concept is being of value. So through that, Bigger Pockets is a great source. I’ve contributed I’d say over 200 articles in 2 or 3 years. So being of value and in return, people would invest with you.

So there’s that route and then you have to reverse engineer, find out who your ideal investor is. Find out where their eyeballs are, where their ears are and be in position to be of value to them. And that’s how basically they get into your funnel.

Brandon: Yes. I love that. So basically you’re saying you need people to know who you are. And the more people know who you are and what you do, and you do that by blogging on Bigger Pockets and doing Facebook live on Bigger Pockets which you do a phenomenal job at that stuff and making videos. Now more and more people, you’re just teaching, you’re providing good information to people. And the more people know who you are and what you do, they come into your funnel, they go to your website, they visit your site, they see who you are and they sign up maybe for an email list. And eventually they want to end up giving you money. That’s it. Right?

Sterling: That’s it. Yes.

Brandon: A lot of people wonder, why should I participate on Bigger Pockets? Why should I get involved and why would I get involved in the forums, why would I get involved in the blog, why would I start a member blog? People go to BiggerPockets.com/memberblogs. Why would I do that stuff? Because it comes back to you. The reason you do those things is because it comes back to you over and over and over. And you’re a perfect example of that.

Another buddy of mine, he told me he’s raised 80 million dollars directly from Bigger Pockets members.

Sterling: Ok.

Brandon: Directly from Bigger Pockets members. What? That’s huge, right? Because he’s got a large funnel. He’s on the forum every single solitary day. He’s super active on answering people’s questions. The whole idea is build the funnel, get people to know who you are, you reach out and this is not for the people who are trying to buy 80-unit apartment buildings right? This is for anybody. If you’re trying to buy your first deal, build your funnel.

Sterling: Exactly.

Brandon: Through sites like Bigger Pockets or real world networking events or how are you going to get out there? Let people know what you do, have a way to keep track of their information even if it’s just as simple as a spreadsheet. But you can get more complicated like Sierra or Gmail and then just crush it. I love that you said that, Sterling.

Sterling: And from a tactical stand point, if you’re just getting started, go on Bigger Pockets, go into forums and provide your story ultimately. And let’s say you get  your traction on, you can share that with other people who are where you are. Or who are where you were. And that’s exactly how you can be of value. I mean, it’s a snowball ultimately.

Brandon: Yes. So what about people who have zero experience right now? Should they still try to build that? Any recommendations? Or how do they start building their, so to speak, funnel if they’ve got no experience?

Sterling: So the funnel is just going out there and getting your name, being known, being seen. And with that, I mean you guys have some local events. Or there’s local real estate events in I’d say all markets. So getting out there and learning who the movers and shakers are. So there’s that and then again, I just go back to Bigger Pockets because it’s such an excellent resource. I don’t want to take people from that.

Brandon: I agree. But yeah, meeting people in real life though in such a different way. But if you’re brand new, go to BiggerPockets.com/Events. We don’t make money off this, it is not a Bigger Pockets sponsored thing. This is just our community gets together from all over the country and they meet for drinks or for conversations or to play golf or whatever. It’s just “let’s do this together.” I use this analogy of real estate is like a hike. We’re all tied together. It’s not a cliff you’re jumping off of.  You’re on a hike and Bigger Pockets is like a bunch of friends hiking together. It’s like, hey let’s go through this together. Let’s go meet up on this night and go on this cool hike. But instead of hiking we’re sitting in a library talking about real estate.

Sterling: Yes. And you can learn from other’s mistakes too. And ultimately go through the journey side by side and say, hey what tactic did you use to acquire that deal? Oh, what tactic did you use? And you’d say, this is what I did. And then you can get bits and pieces from different people.

David: Yes and you can…everybody brings something different to that hike. So you have some people who are really analytical as they are and they can point out all the plans and say well let’s watch out for that poison ivy. Or this is a good route we should take because my math shows this. And other people are natural leaders and can help bring courage when someone’s scared and say let’s go this way, I know how do this. Let’s figure it out.

Everybody has different skills and when you’re all hiking together, it goes better when you combine it. Otherwise you just sit at  home and say well, I’m going on a hike but I don’t know how to do this part. So you just don’t make any progress and like Sterling said, you’re not learning from the other people from the hike, you’re not becoming a better hiker.

And when you look at successful people, this is why we always say to take action. It’s not like you take some random action and say you did it just to pat yourself on the back and become one of those Instagram entrepreneurs and takes a picture of Leonardo diCaprio and puts a quote on it.

Sterling: Let’s not go there.

David: Yeah, right. It’s taking action that gets you experience and gets you knowledge and that’s what makes you better. That’s what makes you find your way and you end up like Sterling. I don’t like to analyze deals, I don’t like to manage anything, I don’t like a lot of real estate, but I’m involved in 150 single-family houses and 400 units altogether because I found the part of the hike where I’m really good at.

Sterling: Exactly.

Brandon: Hey, Sterling, what does your team look like? You must have a pretty…I mean you must have partners in there, employees in there. What does your entire organization look like?

Sterling: Well we just brought on a new partner who actually runs our property management company. But it’s me, Jacob, who’s the one who does the underwriting, pro-forma financials, loves those spreadsheets, etcetera. And we just brought on another individual who runs with the property management side because formally, when you’re self managing, property management itself is just “aaah!”. You see I have no hair because of property management.

Brandon: I figured.

Sterling: But it’s us three at the top and then we have a construction manager, we have a listing agent, we have a property manager and we have, I would say, 5 to 6 maintenance techs that service all of our communities and also our single-family homes and everything filters up to our chief operating officer who I mentioned was the partner that we just brought on. And then if there’s anything outstanding, huge fires, then it would go to my partner.

Versus before that, everything came to us. So that’s one thing I would mention to people is, if you can, well depending on where you want to scale is, put people underneath you so that you don’t have all that coming up to you making all these decisions that ultimately take energy to deal with.

Brandon: Yes. That’s so good. Alright, dude. I want to shift gears here a little bit and diving deeper into one of your deals. It’s time for the deal deep dive.

Let’s do the deal deep dive here. Sterling, you have a deal in mind, correct?

Sterling: Yes, I do.

Brandon: Alright. What kind of a deal is this? Before we get into the specifics of what you paid for it and all that, what is it?

Sterling: It is an apartment community. A multi-family.

Brandon: Alright. So how did you find this property?

Sterling: This was found off market, the favorite.

Brandon: No.

Sterling: Yes. So getting in touch directly with the owner of the asset which was one decision maker.

Brandon: Alright. How big was the property?

Sterling: This was 80 units.

Brandon: 80 units. Alright. So you reached out to this person off market. And, do you remember, actually you might remember, but I actually should’ve asked this follow up question earlier. Are you getting a list of these? Or are you just driving around looking for possible deals? Are you just doing a sort of shot gun approach to a lot of them and just put a rifle in it?

Sterling: So that’s how it was initially. Doing the whole driving for hours approach. That’s how we purchased our first one. Now it’s pulling public records of, let’s say, 75-150 apartment complexes in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Brandon Ok. Do you know a site to use to pull that or is there a specific resource?

Sterling: There’s listsource, is one good one.  And I have a realtor that I have access to basically their database that they use. Which is, let’s brush over that because I don’t know if that’s…

Brandon: I don’t know what you’re talking about, Sterling. Alright, next one. How much was it when you bought it? How much did you pay for it?

Sterling: That was 3.35 million.

Brandon: Whoa. 3.35 million. Alright. And how did you negotiate it? Any negotiations that’s part of that? What did they ask for? Walk us through that.

Sterling: Yes. So there was quite a bit of back and forth in negotiation. I would say it takes just as much time to negotiate it and even acquire these larger deals ultimately. Even for the smaller deals. So it’s the same processes ultimately and yes I believe they started at 3.365. At first they weren’t interested in selling at all. So it took multiple follow ups. And then they started at 365. We were starting at way lower at 31. And our underwriting was not as crisp at that time so we looked up the numbers again and I think they came down to, I think, 34. And we settled at 335, contingent upon them replacing the roofs. So we just kind of just slid that in there.

Brandon: Yes. I love that. That actually is a really good negotiation strategy too. I love doing this. There I am, when you get down to the price, the final number, add one more. Ok fine we’ll agree to your number but can you just toss on new roofs. Ok, that sounds reasonable.

Sterling: Exactly.

David: Good piece of advice. And I use that all the time, when representing sellers or buyers, right? There’s something I don’t understand why people think this way. The number that they’re selling it for means so much more to them than what they’re netting at the end. You can say, ok I’ll agree to your price all I need for you to do is to cover the closing cost and this and this and this. It’s like way more than they’re giving up than the price they’re getting. But they’re just happy to tell their friends I guess that they sold it for the price. So never  negotiate the price, always try to negotiate the terms if you can help it and you’ll be way more likely to become successful.

Sterling: I love that, David. That’s a gem right there.

Brandon: It is a gem. Nicely done.

David: I hope nobody listening is an agent I am negotiating against because now they’re going to know exactly what I’m doing.

Sterling: They’re like, David I know what you’re up to now.

Brandon: That’s funny. But it’s totally true. Alright so you negotiated on the 3.35. How did you fund it?

Sterling: That was funded, it was $837,000 we needed to put down. So that was just our family and friends and also investor partners that we used to put that as a down payment. And yes, after that that’s how we started. The remaining was through a bank loan which was a re-course. So I wanted to cuss there but I was on the line ultimately so I would say I was signing on to these re-course loans are a little nerve-wracking at times. But you just got to perform.

Brandon: Yup. Ok. So you got a bank loan on the rest. You got a down payment. So you have of basically syndicating it at this point. What did you do with it? I mean do you just own it today? What did you do with it and then what was the outcome?

Sterling: Yes. I am actually at the complex now. But it’s ultimately buy and hold. And so our strategy is in 5 to 7 years, I’m actually really fine to pull all our cash out of it and just hold it until we die ultimately. Which I will never die, I will just hold it until the next life.

Brandon: I heard something recently that everybody under 40 are likely to live over 150 because technology will have improved so much by then when we get older they’ll push us longer. And anybody under 12 can live to up to 200. I don’t know much about science. But it’s this article.

Sterling: What?

Brandon: Yes. They say that. But who knows? We’ll see. So you might have that property for 150 years. Can you imagine if people lived to up to 150 years and they start investing in real estate at 20?

David: Yeah. You’re right.

Sterling: The inflation possibilities.

Brandon: They will be trillionaires just off of real estate. But anyway, totally different point. So the outcome is that. What is your, I don’t want to say outcome because you’re still working on it, but is the plan cash flow completely and hoping more for appreciation on it? What’s it worth today to you, do you think? Or what are you trying to make it worth? Walk us through a little of that.

Sterling: So we do put in improvements to have it, once it goes to be re-appraised, it’s a higher value and then we pull our own cash out. But our primary focus since we’re in the Midwest is cash flow. So we’re looking at pushing the returns between about 12-14%, cash on cash alone. So that’s our primary focus, is that income side.

Brandon: Ok. So for those who don’t know, cash on cash return is basically the cash flow that is received compared to how much money you put into it on an annual basis. Right? So if you invested $10,000, you made a thousand dollars in  year 1. That would be 10% cash on cash return. Right? So it’s not counting the appreciation, or the loan getting paid off. Not counting all those things. Just cash flow. How much you make in there.

So I think I got that hopefully right. So last question of the deep dive, what lessons have  you learned in this?

Sterling: So the first one is sales. Even when you’re buying, you have to sell yourself to the seller that you’re the right buyer. So that’s been a huge un-locker for me. And then the other one is find people to compliment your weaknesses which what David was able to allude to earlier. It’s been such a game changer instead of trying to do everything and understand it. It’s just putting people underneath you, fully trust in them, and then run with it.

Brandon: That’s great. That’s perfect. Alright, I love it. Well that was the end of the deal deep dive. Now let’s head over to the fire round.

It’s time for the fire round.

Alright. This is time for the world-famous fire round. And of course these current questions come directly out of the Bigger Pockets forums which you can get at BiggerPockets.com/Forums. Big shock there. Alright, I got through that. Good. I screw that up about 40% of the time.  People don’t know that because we edit the podcast and literally every week, I mix up fire and famous four. And sometimes deep dive. It’s a mess. Anyway. Alright. It’s not like I’ve done 300 episodes of this, no.

Oh, fire round. Let’s do it. Question number 1 from the Bigger Pockets forums. Let’s see. I just came back from an event where I got to meet tons of successful people doing syndications, like big apartment syndications. My question is, should I invest in a passive deal first? Like before I go and try to do my own, should I put money with somebody else? Or should I just do my own syndication and just raise the money? What do you think?

Sterling: Gosh. So there’s many approaches. My first one is investing in someone to help understand the process. Yes that is a great and phenomenal approach. Or with that is finding a local syndicator and let’s say you do have, you go out and find your first deal. You may have to offer up some equity but get an experienced operator on your side. So they run the deal and you really get in the trenches to really understand what’s going on in the workings.

Brandon: That is a fantastic answer. A lot of people that join syndications put money into syndications. I put money into a syndication earlier this year, Ben Leibovitz right? So I put money into his…But I’m not following that closely. I’m not learning that much about what he’s doing because it’s purely passive for me, right?   But if I would have been like, hey I want to partner with you off this deal, let’s do this together. I would have learned a whole lot more. So I see both sides of it. If you want passive, great. But if you want to really learn, I love that idea of maybe trying to find a way to learn out of it.

Sterling: That’s how I get my first single-family. I mean it wasn’t a syndication but it was, I brought the deal to someone and said, hey want to buy some equity even though it was a little miniscule, you have to think long-term.

David: Being a limited partner in a syndication deal like this gives you an opportunity you don’t have in other forms of investing. You can’t buy stocks at Apple and earn a right on the board of director’s table where they go over exactly what their marketing plan is and meeting with their engineers and learning how operators run the company.

If  you’re a limited partner in a real estate deal, you do get to see all that. You can talk to the general partner, you can see the operating agreement and the MM. You can learn a lot by investing in that deal and have it be passive. So, people lose that value if Brandon Turner because you don’t really want to learn because you can make money in other ways, that’s fine. But if you’re a normal human being and isn’t like a god amongst men, take advantage of that opportunity to learn.

Brandon: Wow. Yeah, I think that’s good. And I think I should learn more. I actually should read more documents that come out every month. And you know, how the deal’s doing and start asking more questions. But, I’m like…I like the passive income, right? It’s just different people, different paces in their lives. If I was doing that with a mobile home park, which is my real passion right now. I love mobile home parks. I’m way more involved in those conversations with people because it’s my big passion. So, you know.

David: Is there a more public thing to say than my passion is mobile home parks?

Sterling: I have never heard that before.

David: I just need to get me an RC Cola, a moon pie, and looking at mobile home parks and I’ll be a happy man. Alright. Sterling, next question. What do you believe are the pros and cons or benefits/risks of investing in multi-family versus residential rental properties? Maybe they’re asking to figure out which one they should try to get into.

Sterling: I would say both have their pros and cons. It just basically comes down to where you want to go. On the multi-family side, what I believe, well it’s true in a way too, is determine what the value of the asset is because things trade based upon income specifically net operating income. On the single family side, it’s more of what 123 Main St. so far across the street. I think the pro about that deal is, you have multiple exits. You can sell it to an investor, you can sell it to a homeowner. So you have those multiple routes versus on the multi-family side, literally you’re just selling to an investor whether that’s a larger institution or an individual. But I just see so many more benefits with a multi-family. Tax benefits, scalability, and that’s why the shift ultimately was made on that.

Brandon: Alright. Question number three, can you wholesale multi-family properties?

Sterling: Yes, you can. I had a fellow colleague that wholesaled a deal. It didn’t work for our numbers so he sold it to someone where it worked for them. He made a 6-figure profit on that.

Brandon: Wow.

Sterling: You get hit with the taxes, but still.

Brandon: Yes. Because when you’re wholesaling, that’s not a passive income. You are an active, self-employed business owner getting hit from multiple directions. That’s actually a really good point. We never talk about that on the show. I don’t think we ever talk about the tax differences of rental, flipping and wholesaling. But there are massive differences between them. Not that one’s better than the other necessarily but you should be aware of that. If you make $50,000 from cash flow or you make $50,000 from a wholesale fee, you keep very different amounts of money at the end of the day.

Sterling: Yup. Exactly.

Brandon: Anyway.

David: Ok. Next question. Now this is along the same vein that we’ve been going on. Multi-family versus single-family. What expenses should I consider when analyzing an apartment complex? Is it basically the same thing as a small multi-family, which I think they mean a 2, 3, 4 unit? And do you just take the extra units into account for the apartment or is it more complicated?

Sterling: More complicated and even more complicated for me because my partner deals with that side of things.

Brandon: I love that by the way.

Sterling: But I would say, what we tend to do is on a per unit basis when determining what the expenses are going to be versus just a rule of thumb saying ok, we’ll be able to run this C class asset at 50% expense ratio. It’s best to actually break it down per unit.

Brandon: Ok.

David: Ok. What about you, Brandon, because you’ve done both. What do you think is the difference between the way you’re analyzing the properties? I’ve asked Andrew Kushman about it and do you just use the 1% rule at all? When you’re in a multi-family, he’s like, no it would never work. It’s just too complex to boil down to something that simple.

Brandon: Yes. Let’s just say you’re going to have to use a lot less rules of thumb and you’re going to rely a whole lot more on your calculator or spread sheet, whatever you use to run those numbers. The nice thing is you can kind of generalize some stuff a little bit. Like, you know, I’m trying to think of an example. Like vacancy is percentage overall and he should actually average that. And it’s actually a very predictable number based on the past or based on the market in the area, right?

A single family home, if I have a crappy property manager, and that’s empty for three months out of the year, that’s a 25% vacancy rate. So I just put that number in there, right? But for an apartment, I can probably put in a pretty accurate number on vacancy rate based on data that’s available from all the other apartments in the area especially if it’s a larger area. So that’s one thing nice about multi-family but there are a lot of moving parts.

But I find that there’s a little less, it’s more complicated but, Sterling, you can tell me if you agree with this or not, but I think it’s more complicated but more accurate to get a good number than I found on my single families. Less variables that could just drastically blow thing out of the water.

Sterling: I would think so. I agree. Yes.

Brandon: Cool. Because I mean, one tenant who trashes your single-family house will kill four years of cash flow. But one tenant who trashes one unit in a  large apartment complex, well that’s just assumed. Like it’s going to happen. It’s part of your numbers. And it just kind of all averages out. So.

Sterling: Or if you’re in Chicago, and you have to evict a tenant, and it takes up to 6 to 7 months to get him out. Oh gosh.

Brandon: Yes. It kills it, right? That actually goes back to the question of the pros and cons of multi versus larger versus single family. I mean again, there’s not one best method, but these are things that everyone should be aware of. When you’re getting into it, it goes back to focus. Just focusing on something. You chose single family, then you focus on multi-family. Because you got to know these things.

Anyway, alright. Last question of the fire round, I only want to do four questions but I really want to ask you this one. So I bought, held and sold duplexes before but I’m looking into owning a larger apartment building. What are the main things that I should be aware of  or watch out for as I get into these much larger properties? Anything that stands out to you Sterling? Like, ok this is something that you should definitely know.

Sterling: I would say the people you bring on board tend to be more sophisticated, your investor partners. So that goes down to preferred returns, which we can go into discussion, did you want me to go into what preferred return is?

Brandon: Sure. Give us a quick definition because it’s important. 

Sterling: Yes. So a preferred return is a promise in a way that let’s say it’s 8%  needs to go to your partner first in order for you to start earning money.

Brandon: It’s weird to explain but yeah, I think you’re right. They have to earn their 8% before you start making money as a syndicator.

Sterling: Exactly. And so with that, you just have to be conscious of the more partners you bring on, the more sophisticated. And also, when you’re scaling up to larger, I would say things tend to be a little bit easier in terms of on the management side. So just be sure to get someone on board who has the experience of managing larger multi-family versus the smaller size. Two completely different sets.

David: Well you’ve got a lot more capital and cash flow moving through this whole thing, it allows you to leverage more the things that you normally do to manage the property to somebody else. So, on one hand, you can get some stuff off your plate. But on the other hand, it means it’s that much more important for you to get good people. Right? So the stakes are higher on both sides. It could be a much better investment, is your way to go or you can lose a ton of money because you put the wrong people in place.

Whereas when you’re doing single family, it’s mostly you making all the decisions because there’s just not enough cash coming off of it for you to afford yet property management and analyzers to look in over the deal and people helping you raise funds. Having more hands in the pot can be a good thing or a bad thing.

That’s what I would probably say before you start to scale on to multi-family, make sure that some of your business skills are sharpened. Know the right partner, know what role you’re playing. When you’re doing single-family, it’s kind of a mom and pop thing. You can do everything. You can be like Brad picking up toilets full of crap and carrying them out of the house yourself, right? You’re not going to be doing that in a multi-family with 80 units.

Sterling: Yes. The foundations. You got to have the foundation.

David: Very good. There you go.

Brandon: Great. Alright, well let’s go over to the last segment of the show. It’s the end of our fire round. So let’s head over to the world-famous, famous 4. Let’s get to these questions. Number 1, Sterling, what is your favorite real estate-related book?

Sterling: I would, Multi-family Millions by David Lindhall. I believe that’s how you pronounce his last name.

Brandon: Awesome book. I have that one.

Sterling: It’s very elementary. And it goes on some high level but it wasn’t boring and bland so that’s what I really enjoy about it.

Brandon: Alright. Ok.

David: What is your favorite business book?

Sterling: Business book. So I’m actually going to take a little shift on here if you guys don’t mind. So I want to go audio book, which would be by Earl Nightingale so I’m taking it way back before Tony Robins and probably before Zig Rome. But it’s called Lead the Field. And I would say this ultimately really shaped my mindset. I was actually listening to the CDs. I would listen to the CDs so much that it kept scratching. But it was a very, yeah.

Brandon: It’s like me and the Britney Spears and N’Sync era, you know?

Sterling: Backstreet Boys.

David: For those who actually hang out with Brandon, he does spend an exorbitant amount of time singing songs from Justin Timberlake. He loves that song from Trolls. He’s definitely, you do love your music.

Brandon: I do love my music. Alright, so Earl Nightingale.

David: Next question. Ok. What are some of your hobbies, Sterling?

Sterling: Hobbies is I really enjoy learning. So reading books, I know that’s pretty boring. I work a lot. And spending time with family specifically my little angel who is me with a bunch of hair, which is my daughter.

Brandon: How old?

Sterling: She is 6 going on 17.

Brandon: That’s awesome. Alright, my final question of the day, Sterling, what do you think sets apart successful  investors from all of those that give up, they fail or they just never get started?

Sterling: I believe two things. The first one is mindset. Two things. The first one is mindset. So let’s say for instance, right now the market is very tight in terms of being able to find quality deals. Those who have an abundance mindset are still out there making things happen versus those who are on scarcity, is hey I’m just going to wait on the sidelines until the market’s right. But when the market is right, they’re still going to be on the sidelines.

So that’s the biggest thing. It’s just the mindset. And then the second one is motivation. So what drives someone ultimately. Me is just being an ideal for the people that came from my neighbourhood that you don’t have to take this route of crime and going to prison, etcetera. Here’s the path that I took. And then ultimately, I’m not going to be on this planet forever. We all have a certain amount of time on this planet, so we might as well just go after our dreams and goals ultimately.

Brandon: Dude, that was so good. I’m totally going to take that last minute and make it an Instagram video and put it all over social media because it was so good. You are Instagrammable, you know Quotestagram, you know #qoutestagram? Anyway.

Sterling: Can you Photoshop a Lamborghini in the back?

Brandon: Of course I will.

David: Or a jet. A Lamborghini in front of a jet with Sterling in front of that.

Sterling: Oh my gosh. With pretty women around.

Brandon: Lots of women. Of course. You have to. A yacht would be a good add in there.

David: A yacht behind the plane. Wow we’re going on three levels of douche deep here. That’s exactly what Instagram has turned into. Ok, on that note, Sterling, where can people find out about you?

Sterling: So one is syndicationpro.com. That’s one way. But also, again, going back to BiggerPockets.com. Go ahead, if you have questions or anything, just slide into the DM and I will be of value to you ultimately. DM is direct message by the way.

Brandon: Direct message for those on the DL. Anyway, Sterling this has been fantastic. Thank you so much. Really, you are an inspiration. I love learning from you. I love seeing your Facebook live and your blogs and all that stuff. You’re a huge help to the Bigger Pockets community. You’ve helped tens of thousands of people. So keep it up. And I know people are going to love this episode.

Of course people can reach Sterling and ask questions on the show notes on this page at BiggerPockets.com/Show308. Again, BiggerPockets.com/Show308. And they can reach Sterling there. Dude, we’ll talk to you later. Thank you so much.

Sterling: Awesome.

Brandon: Alright, that was our show with Sterling White. Thank you everybody for listening. Thank you for being a part of the Bigger Pockets community. Make sure you guys are leaving us ratings and reviews in Itunes. If you’ve not done so, we have I don’t know 4,000 reviews at this point. But we get 300,000 people every week to listen to the podcast. So by next week, I want 300,000 reviews even if the reviews are like, man, Brandon sucks. David’s awkward. Doesn’t matter. Leave us a review.

And I don’t know. What’s up, David? Do you agree?

David: I think that sounds great. I think they should be following us on YouTube, on Instagram, Facebook or wherever we are.  If you want to accomplish what someone else has accomplished, the best thing you can do is start all of the steps you see them taking. Now Sterling gave us some really good advice. This is what I did, this is how I did it. You can follow it. It’s the same thing I do when I see somebody who’s successful and I want to be like them. I just start looking at their website, looking at what they do and copying it. So that would be the best advice that I could give for everybody.

You have anything else, Brandon?

Brandon: No that’s really good. And like you said, Sterling does a lot of Facebook live. So if you want to be alerted to those, just go to the Bigger Pockets Facebook page, Facebook.com/BiggerPockets, follow Bigger Pockets there and you’ll get notified of those Facebook lives that Sterling does, that I do, that David Green here does. And with that, we got to get out of here.

David: Brandon is beardyBrandon and I am DavidGreen24 on Instagram. And with that being said, this is David Green for Brandon, I’ve got a song in my heart, Turner, signing off.

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In This Episode We Cover:

  • How Sterling got into real estate, working for free just to learn
  • Negotiating equity: What is it?
  • Why you possibly shouldn’t go the wholesaling route
  • The benefit of focusing on your strengths
  • How to work with your family and friends and branching out from there
  • How he finds deals—cold call mixed with direct mail
  • Why he sends Rubik’s cubes to prospects
  • Tips for creating a network of investors by building a funnel
  • What his team looks like
  • And SO much more!

Links from the Show

Books Mentioned in this Show

Fire Round Questions

Tweetable Topics:

  • “You just have to train yourself to get past objections.” (Tweet This!)
  • “Share your story to other people who are where you were.” (Tweet This!)
  • “If you can’t negotiate the price, negotiate the terms.” (Tweet This!)
  • “Everything is selling. Even when you’re buying, you still have to sell.” (Tweet This!)
  • “We all have a short amount of time on this planet, so might as well go after your dreams and goals ultimately.” (Tweet This!)

Connect with Sterling

About Author

Thanks for checking out the BiggerPockets Real Estate Investing & Wealth Building Podcast. Hosts Joshua Dorkin & Brandon Turner strive to bring top-notch educational content and interviews to our listeners — without the non-stop pitch prevalent around the industry.

With over 180,000 listeners per show, the BiggerPockets Podcast has become the biggest real estate podcast in the world. But don’t take our word for it. We’re the top-rated and reviewed real estate show on iTunes — check it out, read the reviews on iTunes, and get busy listening and learning!

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