Tag Archives: cold calling

cold calling

A Creative Cash Flow Possibility

This post is probably going to raise an eyebrow or two about apartment investments, but oh well…as long as someone benefits from it. This isn’t by any means an offer or solicitation but rather an inquisitive look into a creatively crafted transaction that allows one party to retire from managing their apartment buildings while still keeping their passive income and another party to make a decent amount of profit managing the building with an opportunity to purchase it without a bank loan. Please feel free to point out any flaws or suggest an improvement. I’d love to try this one day.

In markets like ours here in Glendale, CA, long-time apartment owners very rarely decide to sell their buildings and even if they do, they really stick to their price. That’s another indicator of how desirable apartments are in the non-rent control environment of Glendale. From my experience as a broker specializing in this area, a lot of the property owners WOULD list their property but they just don’t think it’s worth the hassle of dealing with a sale, especially because the values aren’t quite as high as they’d like. Apartment investments in Glendale are constantly growing streams of passive income to their investors…who would want to give that up? Especially if it’s paid off!

Well, any commercial real estate broker that’s worked this area long enough will tell you that a lot of these buildings actually are debt-free and owned by elderly investors who have owned the properties for decades. Most of them rely on the income for a living while others simply pass down the benefits to their trust. (Some would call this an impenetrable market because property owners really have very little reason to sell; they’d have to be in some kind of distress or they’d be price motivated, asking unreasonable amounts for their building.)

Either way, there’s one thing a lot of these older owners have in common: they’re all tired of dealing with the things that come along with owning an apartment building. Decades of dealing with “my toilet broke” calls at 2am or having to rent out empty units can get a bit annoying when you’re trying to enjoy retirement. This is why a lot of my sellers end up trading into a NNN investment where they have no management issues whatsoever. In fact, that’s basically what this post is all about; turning an apartment building into a NNN leased investment with a small lease-to-own and seller-carry component.

How does it work?

Let’s assume I’m trying to do this on a 10 unit apartment building in Glendale at 336 Sample Street. The property owner, an 85 year old retired engineer, has had enough of managing the units but relies on the income. He’s too weary of the current market conditions to sell this investment, but he’s already tried getting his desired sales price for it and failed. I step in and underwrite the property, giving him an accurate view of what it’s worth in today’s market and where the opportunities are. While evaluating his building, we learn that he only gets $1,000 per month in rent from each of the 10 units, while the market rate for apartments like his are $1,200 a month. He’s already missing out on $2,000 every month. Also, his expenses are unnecessarily high (30%) because of the lack of upgrades in the units (low-flow toilets, energy-saving technology, etc.) thus bringing his annual Net Operating Income down to only $84,000. In today’s market, his building would be worth somewhere between $1,350,000-$1,500,000 depending on the location and condition.

Now, if the circumstances are right, I’ll suggest our magic transaction to the owner. We sign a Master Lease Agreement where the owner leases the entire property to me for 5 years on a triple-net basis, meaning I now collect the rents and reap the benefits of the property while also paying for the property tax, insurance and maintenance. I agree to pay him $7,000/month in rent for leasing the property to me. Now, this may seem like too little, but if you do the math correctly, it’s actually what he was actually netting after property expenses and property taxes. Also, every time the rents went down in the neighborhood, he probably made less there too. This $7,000 that he’s getting from me is purely passive profit that is unaffected by any market conditions. Whether or not the building is fully occupied, he’s getting his money!

How the hell could this be profitable for me? Well, I step in and take over management of the building now. I make rental adjustments by raising them to market rates, thus creating an extra $2,000-$2,500 of monthly income. Every time a unit turns over to a new tenant, I send my crew in to upgrade it and make it way more energy efficient. I reface/repaint the exterior of the building to bring it up to or above par with the neighborhood. I modify the expenses until it’s running as efficiently as possible. The lil’ old apartment house that the engineer so tirelessly tried to manage for years is now earning him a guaranteed sum of money ($84,000) every year without him even having to think about it. Meanwhile, I’m netting an extra $45,000-$50,000 a year just by managing a 10-unit apartment building and dumping a minimal amount of capital into it.

To make this deal even sweeter, you could try working out a deal with the owner to have your lease amount go towards your down payment, in case he decides to sell it to you later on down the line. Or he can agree to seller financing if you already have enough to pay as a down payment.

Please share your thoughts about this one…I’d love to hear if anyone’s done anything like this.

What kind of brokers do you work with?

With this being the first actual post on this blog, I want to introduce myself briefly and give the readers some insight on a part of the commercial real estate investment world that many typical investors and brokers don’t really pay much attention to. Sorry for the length…I’ll keep them short from now on, I promise.

If you’re a savvy investor or broker and feel like this post might be useless to you, keep reading. If you’re an agent, read on and take notes! This may be interesting to anyone trying to get ahead in real estate.

So, in case you don’t know me or anything about me, I’m a commercial real estate agent in Los Angeles, CA with a strong focus on apartment, office, and distressed properties (yes, I’ll even do a residential short sale deal here and there). My business model is pretty much based around market research, cold calling and word of mouth referrals. That means I spend a ridiculously large portion of my day on the phone and computer…calling, texting, emailing, researching, skyping, facebooking, chatting and eventually meeting with clients or potential clients. The whole point of all of this is to constantly be in touch with owners/investors and share some newsworthy information, learn about new developments, and just generally have my finger on the pulse of the local market. That’s one of the things that help make brokers like me market experts.

In the real estate brokerage game, “information” is just as precious as “location”. You could hire your broker of 30 years to list your property for sale, but chances are it’s the young, energetic guys who keep in constant contact with the active owners in the marketplace that will really sell your deal. It’s simple…because they talk to more people (who are target buyers) and have information on everyone within the market, they can give you more exposure. Because they give you more exposure, they’re able to attract more interested buyers to your deal. More buyers means more demand. Demand means a bidding war. And as we in the eBay generation already know, bidding wars turn out nice for the person that’s selling.

Real estate agents aren’t as completely useless as they might seem. The right agent can really help you make extremely solid investments that will keep you wealthy for a lifetime and then some. However, not every agent can do the job as effectively. What’s the difference between agents who proactively get in front of owners and someone who just got their license in the “good old days” and hung it with their friend who was a broker? EVERYTHING.

First off, product specialization and focus play a huge role in the effectiveness of a real estate professional. You wouldn’t go to a cardiologist if you have a brain tumor for the same reason you wouldn’t list your medical office building with the nice lady who sold you your home. It just doesn’t make sense! I’ve met with sellers whose main objection to listing their property with me was, “Well, my brother has his license so I have to list my office building with him”. That’s great Mr. Seller…what type of real estate does your brother focus on? “Oh he’s not even really active in real estate he’s actually a dentist.” Nice. This particular client ended up never selling the property and in fact lost the property to the bank. His agent/brother had put the property on the market at a random price that he and the owner felt looked pretty on paper and the deal never got any attention because it was grossly overpriced.

Some of the most successful real estate investors I’ve met and worked with are the ones who treat everybody with respect and take the time to understand professionalism and make an impression on each and every single person they come in contact with. Have you ever wondered how some of these real estate guys came by these incredible deals where they made millions and all of a sudden dominate the market? It wasn’t done by hanging up on cold callers. These are individuals with top-notch social skills who welcome every opportunity to meet someone new and figure out how to make money with them. They probe around cleverly and use their smooth charisma to form working relationships with anybody who can possibly benefit them (which is pretty much anyone who is active in the market). The end result? Everybody wants to work with them. Everybody shows them deals. In effect, they get what they want which is the opportunity to make a ton of money.

So with that being said, some of you reading this probably get cold calls from me or my competitors…you know, those obnoxious guys who call you and as soon as they say anything like “property” or “real estate” you say, “NOT INTERESTED BYEEE!” and hang up on them…yea, those are actual real estate professionals that you can benefit from. Just because they’re fishing for listings it doesn’t mean you have to shut yourself out from talking to them completely. Get to know them. They know the tiny little details that will make you money. Plus, the success of your investment might be in their hands one day.

Oh, and if you’re still reading this, please feel free to throw in your two cents.