Rental Property Empire

I gotta be honest this really was a rough one. This book is loaded with quality information, but it is so dense and tough to read and to write about and I’m going to apologize for this on in advance. The reading time suggested on this book is 6 hours and 57 minutes at 332 pages. It took me two goal periods to do it as well because I was a chore to read but I finished it. I never gave up on it, I will give a quick summary just to keep myself honest with you guys, but I think your time would be better spent watching some YouTube videos or doing specific research online rather than read this book just because it would be much more enjoyable and quicker.

Build a Rental Property Empire: The no-nonsense book on finding deals, financing the right way, and managing wisely by Mark Ferguson. You can follow Mark’s blog at Investfourmore.com

Career highlights: Owns 16 rentals which generate $8,000 monthly income and have $1.6 million in equity. Flips 10-20 houses per year with averaged profit of $30,000 each. Started InvestFourMore.com real estate blog in 2013 and gets over 300,000 views a month.

“If you focus on mastering one thing, you will be much more successful than if you halfway do 10 things at once.”

Chapter 1: Why Rental Properties Will Help You Retire Faster than Investing in the Stock Market.

Mark goes very deep in this chapter and considers historical return rates, inflation, his personal surveys he’s conducted, tax benefits, outliving retirement etc. I’ll quickly summarize this Real Estate produces more cash flow than the equivalent investment in dividend paying stocks. Real estate also appreciates consistently in the long term just like the stock market does. You can retire earlier than 65 with real estate, in fact you can “retire” when your passive rental property income exceeds your living expenses. Because dividend paying stocks, bonds, savings accounts etc. can not keep up with your living expenses you will have to withdraw money from those accounts, once they are depleted you are simply out of money. If you have rental property which generates income above your living expenses than if those rentals are occupied and paying rent, you will be able to live off the cash flow without tapping into the foundational equity (selling the property). People are living longer than they were before, so it is not unlikely that my generation (currently 22 years old) could have a life expectancy of 90+ years and you wouldn’t want to run out of money during your retirement.

Chapter 2: What are the Risks of Investing in Real Estate?

I’m sure you’ve all seen it before, the little disclaimer saying something to the effect that all investments carry a certain amount of risk and the investor should be aware of that risk. Rental properties are no different as they are just as much of an investment as a stock, bond, bitcoin etc. I believe the risk is lower than some of the previously mentioned and here’s why. A stock can go to zero, if a company goes bankrupt a stock can go to zero or near zero levels, resulting in 99% loss. They don’t make any more land, the very land that your property sits on has some inherit value because there is a limited amount of land in the world and as the human population continues to grow we need to utilize the land for some productive use whether for living or growing food or infrastructure. The exception would be if you had a hazardous waste situation or radioactive event on the land (think Chernobyl) which would render the land useless for some long stretch of time. So looking at the worst case scenario real estate already is winning. Another aspect is people always need a place to live, they may not always need to product or service that a company provides (think typewriters). These are the extreme scenarios now let’s get into the more common ones. Often people over estimate their returns and revenue, they may forget or underestimate the costs to acquire the property and or renovate it. In general, when doing the number crunching for a property it would be wise to use worse case scenario numbers and incorporate buffer into your calculations. Your rental property needs to be cash flow positive from day 1 and you should not count on appreciation for your pay out because that may never happen with the changing market conditions.  Another money related risk people don’t consider is having funds in reserve, typically banks require 6 months of mortgage payments in reserve on all properties. Besides that, you should always have some extra cash on hand in case the renovations or repairs are costlier than anticipated.

“Resistance is a sign that you are close to your goals and close to a breakthrough” I believe that with all my heart, as this internship I am currently working as well as life has taught me that this is very true.

“The key to any successful real estate investing strategy is to purchase properties below market value.” This is because you receive instant equity, for example if a house’s market value is $100,000 and you can purchase it for $90,000, while the cash is not in your pocket you have effectively made $10,000 from that deal.

“A great piece of advice I recently heard is to never work below your income. If you are worth $100 per hour, do not do tasks you can delegate for $20 an hour. Focus on things that make you that $100 per hour or more and let someone else do the less important work.” This is just sound advice to anyone making elevated levels of income and are looking to grow. The $40 you save every week by cutting your own grass, while frugal, could be hurting you overall if that time could be better spent developing your business, making more sales, expanding your presence in the community/social media.

Chapter 3: How do you know what makes a good rental property Investment?

  • Did I buy it below market value and by how much?
  • How much does it cash flow each month?
  • What are my cash-on-cash returns?
  • What do the prospects look like for the market in which I am buying?

You can use his cash flow calculator on his blog to help calculate that. He also goes over how he accounts for vacancies (table shown below), and maintenance (table shown below.

Vacancies:

Single Family 5%
College Rental 10%
Multifamily 10%

Maintenance:

Good Average Needs Work
0-10 Years 5% 10% 15%
10-50 years 10% 15% 20%
50 Years + 15% 20% 25%

He also suggests not using blanket rules to determine profitability, because they simply aren’t accurate enough and do not account for all situations. This means that you’re going to need to do some number crunching.

Here’s a simple rule to avoid losing your property to foreclosure, “buy for cash flow, have reserves, and don’t expect appreciation as your only way to make money.” Mark states that his target for cash flow is $500 a month for the $80,000 – $140,000 properties he buys and likes to see a 15% cash on cash return but prefers closer to 20%. Don’t worry about your cash on cash return until all expenses are paid, and the house is rented. Until that happens you’re only guessing.

Chapter 4: How do you Know what type of investment property to buy?

Mark analyzes single family vs. multi-family vs. college rentals. Essentially its best to invest in the type of property the follows the above-mentioned criteria in chapter 3. Not all areas are going to be the same. You may be able to get single family homes below market value in Colorado, but perhaps multi-family complexes are cheap in Illinois, and a recent state college has had enrollment increase 5% for consecutive years and the college rentals are dirt cheap in the area with rising rents. All situations are different, but I can review the pros and cons of each type of property. Single family generally have better vacancy rates and less turnover than the other two. They also have plenty of opportunity to be bought below market value. The multifamily buildings have multiple tenants so if there is a vacancy it is not a 0 or 100% situation. That as well as in today’s market climate people tend to move more often and apartments are becoming more popular. College rentals typically can get higher rent rates than the previously mentioned types of properties however they typically require more maintenance costs. I am very interested in college rentals however due to my feeder system for people to move into it as well as my love for my fraternity and my college town. There is a lot of detail in this chapter in fact according to my kindle it takes 45 minutes to read this chapter. Condo’s, HOA, vacation real estate, commercial real estate, CAP rate, what neighborhood to buy in, and more are included in this chapter.

Expenses that should be included in the calculations are:

  • Property taxes
  • Property Insurance
  • Property Management Fees
  • Utilities paid by property owner
  • Ongoing maintenance paid by property owner
  • Vacancies
  • Expected maintenance expenses
  • HOA fees
  • Any onsite management

Neighborhood characteristics:

  • Crime rates
  • School ratings
  • House prices
  • Age of houses
  • Size of houses
  • Size of the town
  • Proximity to large populations areas
  • Local economy
  • HOA’s
  • Types of houses (multifamily or single-family)
  • Tax rates

Chapter 5: How do you buy real estate below market value?

Mark suggests using a professional opinion to figure out market value of properties. “I would not trust Zillow to provide house values, although you can get some great information from Zillow.” Mark goes in depth on how exactly to buy homes below market value in short sales, HUD homes, banked own properties, how to get great deals from the MLS etc. Some notes that I have highlighted are, “with rising prices, real estate agents or sellers sometimes underprice houses.” “If a real estate agent is not paying attention to market price increases; if a house needs some work or if the sellers simply want to sell their house quickly, it could mean opportunity for investors.” Speed often is the difference between getting a great deal and missing out, a bidding war indicates that a house is priced great and many people want it.

Some things to look for include: Aged listings, MLS comments, Fast price changes, back on the market. “Do not give up if another offer is accepted, and do not burn bridges.” Again, this is a 45-minute chapter with lots of detail, so I will again highlight some of the key points.

“When you talk to a seller, you want to highlight the advantages of selling to you:

  • No repairs needed
  • No commissions
  • No closing costs
  • Fast closing
  • Cash Closing
  • No showings
  • No appraisal

Successful investors know their market like no on else, and they are honest and follow through on deals if they say they will buy a house.

Chapter 6: How to finance and pay for Rental properties.

In this chapter Mark discusses financing vs. cash deals, highlighting the use of leverage and the ability to acquire more properties in a shorter amount of time. As far as how much money you will need to start investing in rental properties typically 20-25% down is typical, from there closing cost, repair cost, carrying cost are all needed. Typically, the bank requires 6 months of payment reserves and you must also need adequate cash for any major repairs that may arise. Good credit scores and financial stability are of course desired for financing, most lenders want to see a debt-to-income ratio of 45% or lower.  He then goes in depth on various loans and how to improve your debt to income ratio, and various loan alternative.

Chapter 7: How to invest in rental properties with less cash

There are various no or low money down alternatives to real estate investing, but due diligence is certainly required. There is also hard money, house hacking, private money, turn key rental properties, seller financing, partnerships, using credit cards for cash advances, a 401k, and cash out refinance. Usually standard financing practices are better than the above mentioned, less headache hassle and risk.

Chapter 8: How to repair and maintain rental properties

Typically, Mark spends less money on long term rentals in terms of repairs than his fix and flips. Renters typically are not as picky as buyers which also helps with this. In a flip he repairs and updates nearly everything, in a rental its what’s needed. Finding a great contractor is vital and most investors are not well suited to do the repairs themselves in terms of opportunity cost and how well they can do the work versus a professional. Constant communication between you and the contractor is vital as it will affect the quality and time it takes to do the work.

Chapter 9: How to manage your rental properties

Most of the time it takes to manage rental properties happens at the beginning when it comes to finding tenants, the repair process etc. Once that has been completed it takes much less time to manage, however, once you have four or more you should consider hiring additional help. You may open a can of worms if you do not have enough time to screen tenants and check your properties. Proper due diligence is needed to find good property management, as with all things involving real estate, taking the cheap way may cause more headache than necessary.

Chapter 10: What are the different exit strategies with Rental Properties

There are several exit strategies to consider, sell the property and pay closing costs and taxes, 1031 exchange the property for a similar one, pay off the mortgage early and sell. All of these are again discussed in detail, a quick note on paying the mortgage off early, if you plan to keep buying rentals I would not recommend because you’re wasting prime cash to pay the down payment on your next purchase. Also, debt that makes more than the interest on the note is good debt and leverages your returns. The only negative aspect of incurring multiple loans on rentals is your debt-to-income ratio increases which may make it difficult to obtain another loan.

Chapter 11: How to buy rentals in an expensive market

For one the cost associated with selling your rentals, the taxes you’d have to pay, closing costs, the headache and hassle often isn’t worth the gain from appreciation, and the lack of steady cash flow that you’ve been receiving. If your market is overpriced you may need to look at turnkey rentals, however this makes it very difficult in executing the purchase, knowing the market. Investing near your area is in your best interest although it’s not always possible.

Chapter 12: How do you build a rental property empire

Here’s some basic steps to build a rental property empire:

  • When do you want to buy your first property?
  • What type of property will you buy?
  • What type of financing will you use?
  • How much money will you need?
  • How much money will the property generate?

“Saving money gives you options that allow you to make much more money, such as investing in rental properties and buying fix and flips. Saving money also allows you to be more flexible with your career or even a start a business.”

Chapter 13: What is the next step?

Do it.

Here’s the book:

https://amzn.to/2Mh8b8n

March- April Goal Review

It’s been awhile since I have posted one of these so what the heck let’s get to it.

Like I’ve mentioned before the spring semester is crazy busy at my school and March- Mid April is probably the busiest section of them all. I mean there’s St. Pat’s, Spring Break, Greek Sing, and Derby Days all in there plus a round of tests or two. Like are you kidding me!? Doesn’t get much worse than that, however, that didn’t stop me from doing what I do best and getting shit done so let’s see how I did.

Here is the goal list to start off march on top, on the bottom is where I finished at.

IMG-0399IMG-0400

I intentionally went away from the biweekly format with March because of Pat’s and Spring Break. I also did not try to push myself as hard as I have been lately. Don’t worry we’ll get back on my game here soon I promise.

In the beginning of March was sitting at around 75 IG posts, 400+ IG followers (my all time high as of right now) so from the social media perspective I was doing great. When we turn to the blog you’ll see I failed to miss my target yet again on the # of blog posts with only 30 and 175 blog visitors, again piggybacking off paid advertising for that. Finished sell or be sold and did not finish Rental Property Empire we will get to that one later.

So that sets the stage for where I was going into March, as we see in the month of March goals we boosted up IG posts by +35, which is a solid 1 post a day average and then some. Unfortunately, my consistency isn’t the greatest with that and I’ve been working on getting that more consistent. I was going in several short bursts and then taking breaks rather than a consistent one or two posts a day. Organic blog traffic was a struggle, I did not have the systems in place to capitalize and keep my paid advertising traffic and in fact I still do not have the proper systems in place which has been hurting my viewership. That and only 3 blog posts in the entire month of March is just pitiful and I’ve been working hard to improve that this month. Still didn’t make it through Rental Property Empire either, and let me tell you that book was DENSE, packed with information and great content but man was it a slow read and hard to get motivated because the nitty gritty of rental property investing is not all that exciting. Using that prior screenshot as a starting point of April lets see where we landed during the mid-April goal review.

IMG-0401

Mid-April I was consumed in my philanthropy, as head chair it was a lot of long nights and busy work to make things run smoothly, and I did my best to make up for it in early April but even then, I was making up work that others failed to do. If you would like to know more about the philanthropy and what all happened the link to the article can be found here. Philanthropy article

I hit my low IG post goal, but followers diminished a bit, blog posts remained stagnant at 33 posts. Organic visitors were still very low probably due to my lack of Instagram engagement, and side money was also low due to my less than ideal productivity during my spring break. (P.S. girlfriends are a time commitment, so is covering for people who fail to follow through on their assignments.)

So using that last screenshot we can analyze my current in progress goal list shown below.

IMG-0402

I am finishing writing this post at 1am on Friday April 27, I have my fraternity’s initiation tomorrow which I am heavily involved in as Vice President and that has been bogging me down a bit, but I have been making effective use of my relatively light work load this week. I say light just because I do not have any tests, but I’ve spent a good 20 hours on homework and project work for my classes this week already with a final presentation tomorrow at 11am which should be fun.

As you can see I’m a tad behind on IG posts and I feel like I am spamming content, but I like to hit my targets and goals and my content is still pretty good so there’s that. Instagram followers have picked up a bit so my extra effort in reaching out to other accounts and people has paid off as well as my content I am delivering. I finished Gary Vaynerchuk’s “Crush it” it’s an old book but the content is still great and inspiring, and I can’t wait to read his newest book as it is sitting on my desk right next to me. I am also catching up on blog posts at a rate never seen before so kudos to me! Credit card payments are almost complete, we will find out about initiation come Saturday, my loose money on robinhood can be summed up as my options trading which is going poorly. If you didn’t see my Instagram post of “The stock market is drunk” it is, and it is very annoying. I have a little more on my plate this upcoming week as projects, papers, and tests are wrapping up in the week famously known at my school as “Dead Week”. (the name is not as it suggests, it is hell and full of work then leads into finals week). So hopefully a final push this weekend and early next week can wrap up April as a success or at least that is my hope.

As for future goals we will have to see how they go with my new work schedule which is far different from what I am used to. That in combination with additional metrics for tracking revenue, costs, investing and getting back into prime shape and performance for my next rugby season we will see how frequent I set goals and track them. I am very excited to see what this summer will bring me though, this last summer I was bogged down in 9 credit hours of class in addition to a 40-hour work week at my internship at Caterpillar which was very demanding. This summer with my peculiar schedule I may actually be able to be more productive despite working more (I am definitely a night owl as the time I am writing this post suggests). I will do my best to keep all my viewers informed as well as do what is best for me to advance my life, career, and personal goals.

Thanks for tuning in as always, please leave a comment I would love to hear from you guys and if you haven’t already please follow me on Instagram @bsquared.website as I am most active there if you haven’t noticed.

February 15th Goal Update

Hey everyone, first off, I just want to say I am so sorry for this coming out as late as it is. I had a couple tests, the career fair at my school, fraternity and philanthropy matters that were taking up a lot of time, and unfortunately it isn’t going to get any better. I had a function this past weekend and forgot my laptop charger and put me very far behind and has caused some of the time issues that led to the above-mentioned items to take priority. Excluding that hiccup this has been the busiest semester I’ve ever had and them I’m adding to that with this blog and everything else I’m trying to do. If you have any suggestions or advice I’m all ears because this quite a serious matter.

Anyways let’s get to it! Below is the goal screenshot.

IMG_0412.png

Like I mentioned above I had the career fair at my school which is a huge deal and I needed to get myself out there and try and get a job for this summer. I decided to have my resume revised and getting applications out early would help me out tremendously and added those items to my goal list and accomplished both. I’ve been trying to build my brand/establish my presence in the world and I feel like Instagram is a very good platform to do that in for what I am doing and what demographic I am targeting so that’s why my current and future goals will revolve around it. I came one post short for my Instagram goal and that really came down to me scrambling the last 3 days trying to post useful content and taking time to find that great content. I did hit my followers goal though! On that note I would like to ask my readers, do you have any issues with losing followers on significant levels? I’ve seen a drop in 5-10 followers on some of those days and it was extremely puzzling so if anyone has any suggestions or advice on that again I am all ears.

Moving on I finished The 10X Rule and I am so happy I did, it was an incredible book with great content, advice, ideas and I believe it will be the foundation of my success for the future. I wrote a nice little review for it as well so if you would like to check it out click the link here. http://bsquared.website/2018/02/08/the-10x-rule-the-only-difference-between-success-and-failure/

I also finished 10 Ways to make Passive Income, not the same level of book but the link for the article is here as well. http://bsquared.website/2018/02/13/10-ways-to-make-passive-income-financial-education-youtube-channel/

Reading the 2 books above and the one I am currently reading, Sell or be Sold, has rekindled my passion for learning and reading that has been gone for quite some time now so that was refreshing to experience. I encourage everyone if they think a book would benefit them and I’ve read and reviewed it to check out the review before you buy it and get an idea if it is for you or not. I also think honesty is crucial and I will also tell you if you should buy the book or not regardless if I affiliate link it or not.

Next goals I will cover regard the blog, 35 blog posts and 100 visitors. Let me tell you first and foremost I occasionally dread writing these posts. I’ve never been much of a writer, but I am passionate about teaching and this seems at the current time the most effective way to get my message across under the given circumstances, so that’s why I blog. On that note, 26 blog posts are very short of 35 and I realize I set my goals on the upper end of the spectrum. I would have normally said I set my goals too high, but I really didn’t take enough action to create the content to write 35 blog posts worth of material and to do the actual writing itself. You can find that life lesson in The 10X Rule. The back half of this month’s goals will be posted at the end of this article, but you can see I did not take a very ambitious approach with blog post goal for the reasons mentioned above. I crushed the 100-blog visitor goal…. But it was mainly due to paid advertising through Facebook. Which is good, people are reading my posts and I’m getting a few clicks for the affiliate sales, but I need something sustainable obviously and you will see that in the next set of goals.

Next up affiliate sales. Oh man these have been rough, I had goals of 1 affiliate sale and 30 clicks across the board. We landed at zero affiliate sales and 17 clicks, I failed to reach either goal. These have continued to struggle since so I am asking my readers again, if you have any suggestions or advice for these please let me know. I really need to get some research in on how to best set all of those up when I get some time.

The side money challenge has more or less fallen off the wagon. I am quite simply trying to do too many things at once and I’ve always heard its better to full-ass one thing than half-ass two things. So, while I am still tracking it and I was at $227.50 / $400 it has not been my main priority at all. Investing referrals! I failed to get a referral for the following investing apps I use, Robinhood, stash, and acorns. I think I am simply late to the game and incorrectly targeting my audience. My main demographic is already people who invest so that doesn’t help me get referrals typically. At least those articles are out there forever, and the links still work so one day someone might stumble upon them and start using the app.  The last item on the goal list was to pay off my Discover credit card. I paid off the equivalent amount on my Visa instead because the due date is sooner, so I’ll call that a win in my books.

My next set of goals are below, if you follow me on Instagram you’ve already seen these. I realize this isn’t very productive since these goals end in 5-6 days since it’s a short month but nonetheless this can give you an idea of where I was coming from and where I am going. They are up to date as of the morning of 2/23/2018. As you can see there is a long way to go and I got a bad start with the above mentioned time commitments mentioned in the first paragraph but I am determined to make a sizable dent in those goals.

So tell me what kind of goal setting do you do? Do you write your goals down everyday like Grant Cardone? Do you set short term goals like I do? Are you a New Years’ Resolutioner and quit about this time of the year?

Comment and let me know, I’d love to hear your feedback!

-B^2

IMG_0044.png