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Perhaps I’m experiencing “writer’s block.”

I’m not sure, because I’m not actually a “writer.” I’m just a real estate entrepreneur who is looking to refine his skills, share his knowledge, and speak in third-person more often. So perhaps it’s writer’s block or perhaps it’s just the fact that my mind is 100% focused on my newest acquisition – a new home I am remodeling for my wife and I to move into (photos coming soon!)

Either way, writing has been tough over the past couple weeks. However, today I spent some time talking with a friend about how she should get into investing. She has watched me grow from a renter to an owner to a full-time investor and is eager to join the party. After this discussion, I realized the questions she asked me were the same questions you are probably asking yourself:

“How do I start?”

“What should I buy?”

“How can I make sure I don’t fail?”

Thus, the end of my writer’s block and the emergence of this post. Without further suspense, I want to share with you my opinion of the best type of property you should buy if you are just starting out and looking to find a better use for your time and money. The answer? Click to continue…

P.S. looking for hard money loans in California? Be sure to check out my friends over at They have very competitive rates, can fund within a week and specialize in fix and flip loans and other hard money loans.

When pursuing my recent acquisition, I met with several lenders who were interested in funding my deal. To each lender I gave a “Investment Property Calculator” spreadsheet which included detailed information about the home. One of those lenders told me,

“Brandon, if more people put together an analysis like this – they would find themselves with more funding than they would know what to do with.”

This statement, besides being the inspiration for this post, was great confirmation that my obsessive nature of creating a high-quality Investment Property Calculator for my lenders was not a waste of time. Below, I’ll show you how you can get my exact property analysis to use on your own deal-making.

The Investment Property Calculator

Despite what the Guru’s say – attracting hard money is not “based on the property.” Hard money, while secured by the property being purchased, is not Click to continue…

P.S. looking for hard money loans in California? Be sure to check out my friends over at They have very competitive rates, can fund within a week and specialize in fix and flip loans and other hard money loans.


$1000 can buy a lot of cool things. A round trip ticket to Italy, new tires for my truck, or even a brand new 52” flat-screen television. $1000 also could have bought me half of my granite counters or a new garage door on my new house. However, instead I decided to “donate” my $1000 to HSBC Bank because I didn’t read my contract.

Buying From A Bank

Let me start at the beginning. I recently purchased Click to continue…

P.S. looking for hard money loans in California? Be sure to check out my friends over at They have very competitive rates, can fund within a week and specialize in fix and flip loans and other hard money loans.

I’ve been busy. Very busy.

And no, not just writing this 2300 word post (my longest to date!)

You might remember several weeks ago when I mentioned I had a new property I was excited to be closing on soon. I finally closed last week and can finally devote some time to telling you all about it. Ironically, if you have been following my blog posts from the beginning – you probably already know a bit about it.

Over two months ago I wrote an article here titled, “You Killed My Father – Prepare To Die: And Other Lessons In Finding Good Deals” which I chronicled my mistakes in not pursuing a property quick enough. The house, I mentioned, was perfect – but not just for a flip or a rental – but perfect for ME. I wanted this house for my new home, something for my wife and I to move into, decorate exactly the way we wanted, paint the walls any color we wanted, and really spend the time making it perfect for us. However, I was too slow in pursing this home and it was taken before I could get to it. Or so I thought- because this perfect home that I missed out on is going to be my new home.

For the past five years, every home we have lived in has had an agenda attached. We have moved five times in five years (yikes!) in an effort to jumpstart our investments. We would generally move into a home we had remodeled while it sat on the market to sell (to minimize our holding costs) or simply buy a home planning on turning it into rental soon. Either way, with each home we designed the home to fit either a flip or rental – but not for us. This is why I am so excited to finally have a place to call home. I might even paint a wall red- just because I can.

The rest of this post is dedicated to teaching you exactly how I purchased this home – I’ll call it “Church Street” (because, surprise – it’s on Church Street) – and how I did it with no money out of pocket (and even received a check for almost $9,000 at closing!)

The Home:

Living Room

Living room with natural gas fireplace and hardwood floors


Church Street is a three-bedroom, one bath home located just a few blocks from where I currently live. I was first attracted to the home because of the large yard. My wife dreams of having a large garden and this home will allow for that. It also has:

  • Three bedrooms, one bathroom
  • A one car garage
  • A new roof
  • Newer kitchen cabinets
  • Hardwood floors throughout the living room.
  • Primarily cosmetic fixes (paint, carpet, etc).

As I mentioned in the previous article, after missing my chance on this perfect home I re-dedicated myself to moving quickly when opportunities arise. The home had sat on the market for several weeks before I even noticed it, and it took me almost a week to get inside to see it after that. By this time, the home had received another offer and the bank (this was a bank repossession) had accepted it.

However, if there is one thing I’ve learned about bank repos in the past several years is that 50% of the deals that go “pending” (there is a signed deal) do not actually close. Usually something goes wrong – from difficulty financing, a scary inspection report, or one of a hundred other possibilities. This is why I believe it is imperative to put in a “back-up offer” on any property that I am interested in that goes into a pending status.

So, I submitted my back-up offer and waited.

My Offer

My offer was as follows:

  • Purchase Price $65,000.00 – The listing price was $75,000.00, so I offered $65,000.00. Other homes (non-REO’s) sell for a minimum of $130,000 in this town, going up to $200,000 in some neighborhoods. To learn more of how I determined my purchase price, check out my article How to Quickly Analyze a Single Family Home for Investment
  • $1000.00 earnest money – Earnest money is money paid at the time you submit an offer. It is a way of telling the seller “I am serious about buying this home, and I am pledging this money to prove it.” Should I back out of the deal for no good reason, the seller is able to keep my earnest money as payment for their trouble in dealing with me.
  • 10-Day Inspection Period – I included in my offer a ten-day inspection contingency. What this means is that I have ten days to inspect the house and determine of the condition is good enough for me to purchase. If I find anything with the house I don’t like, I am able to back out of the deal and get my earnest money back within ten days. This is a standard part of most deals.
  • Financing Contingency- Just as I could back out of the deal if I found something in the inspection, I also included a contingency that allows me to back out of the deal if I cannot obtain financing.
  • 45 Day Closing (or sooner) – I wanted to give myself plenty of time to get this deal closed because I was not 100% sure of how I was going to do it. I knew I wanted the house and that it was an amazing deal, so I gave myself plenty of time to work out the details.

Normally when I purchase a home, I offer differently. I like to do a preliminary inspection and line up my financing first so I don’t need to use those contingencies. Why? A seller is much more willing to accept a lower price when the offer is “cleaner.” The fewer contingencies, shorter closing date, and more earnest money offered the more apt the seller will say “yes.”  However, this home is different.  Funding a flip is easy. Funding a long term buy-and-hold is easy. Funding a home for myself to live in is not so easy.  I have too many mortgages in my name and not enough “real” income to get another mortgage, so trying to get a long term mortgage is next to impossible.


Bathroom - complete with green bathtub

However, I knew the deal was good.

I have always believed that if you find a good deal, the money will find you. So I gave myself the ten-day inspection, financing contingency, and a long close date so I could have adequate time to put the deal together and find the money. More on that in a little bit. First, I needed to inspect the property.

The Inspection

Back to the story.  After I offered on this home two months ago, and was rejected, I placed my back-up offer in and had to wait.  I actually forgot about the home and moved on. Then, nearly a month later, I received a call from the agent. The other deal had fallen through. The prospective buyers paid for a full inspection and became nervous when the report came back. The selling agent received a copy of the inspection report, which I dissected with extreme care. Besides the obvious cosmetic flaws this home has, the report also listed two other important items:

  • Foundation Problems
  • Electrical Problems.

These are what scared off the other buyers – and rightly so. Foundations and electrical work can be the most costly items to repair on a home. They are also issues that must be dealt with by professionals, so homeowners do not know what a bad problem is from an easy-to-fix problem. These problems don’t scare me, though, but instead simply offer less competition and, in this case, led me to a killer deal.

I immediately scheduled an inspection with both a local electrical contractor and a foundation expert. Both these inspections cost me nothing – as I called contractors I use often and simply asked for a “bid.”  It is important to keep good relationships with your contractors. Furthermore, they know I will probably use them to do the work, so estimates are usually free.  I am not suggesting using contractor’s bids as your inspection, but when you have a good working relationship with your contractors, you can use their knowledge to fill in the pieces on unforeseen problems.

As I was hoping, the electrical issues were fairly common and fixable – wire splices in the attic without junction boxes, incorrect circuit breakers in the main panel, and non-grounded outlets using 3-prong plugs. Don’t worry if you don’t understand this stuff – just know that it is fairly easy to remediate.

As for the foundation, we determined that there was rot in a couple of the main support beams, but the joists looked fine. Homes in my area, including this one, often sit on a cement perimeter foundation with a crawlspace below the home. This allows for fairly easy access and repair. The foundation would cost no more than $500 to repair.

I now knew the house was exactly what I wanted. It was time for the hardest part (or so I thought) – finding the money.


Nice Cabinets, Terrible Everything Else

Putting Together The Financing

Now that I had a signed deal with the bank and had thoroughly examined the property for major issues, it was time to move forward and find money to buy the home. With this home, I had three goals for myself:

  • Buy the home with no money out of pocket
  • Get repair money given to me at closing
  • I needed at least five years on the loan (I need time to pay off the loan or refinance)

When I submitted the offer originally, I included a pre-approval letter from a hard money lender. I did not know if I was going to use this lender or not, but it didn’t matter. Bank REO’s only required that a buyer submit a pre-approval with the offer – you are not obligated to use that pre-approval for the purchase. I knew that I could fall back on this hard money lender if needed, but I wanted longer terms than he would give me.

I began to tell everyone I knew about the deal. Within two weeks, I had two different people offer the money to me. The first was a hard money lender I had used in the past. The second was the father-in-law of an investor friend of mine. This friend mentioned to his father-in-law that I was looking to finance a home for me and my wife and he agreed it would be mutually beneficial to fund the deal. Both agreed to fund the entire deal, plus an extra $9,000, on a five year note.

Now, before you think that this was super easy to do: both these offers for financing were based on years of building relationships. I had done several other deals with the hard money lender and had never been late on a single payment nor given him cause to worry. I’ve said it many times before – this is a business of trust. As for my friend’s father-in-law, I have spent the last four years helping both my friend and his father-in-law with maintenance and other jobs for their own homes and their rentals. I have built a good reputation as someone trustworthy and capable.

If you are just starting out, you may not yet have built these relationships. It is important that you start immediately. I have found that there are several key ways to develop your reputation, and it is important that you do all of them:

  • Be knowledgeable in what you are talking about.
  • Always do what you say you are going to do.
  • Work hard, always.
  • Help others whenever you can, even if you might not get something out of it.
  • Be above reproach in every situation.

It can take years to build a good reputation but only one incident to destroy it. Guard your honor and reputation with care and continue to build relationships with those around you.

I ended up choosing to work with my friend’s father-in-law as a private lender and submitted his information to the closing title company.


I Think I'll Get a Riding Lawnmower

Closing The Deal:

Two weeks after completing my inspection, I purchased the house. Yes, I had 45 days to do so, but I was eager to get working on it. After paying closing costs and fees, I received a check at closing for just under $9,000.00 for repairs on the home. Next time someone tells you that no-money down deals just don’t happen anymore – don’t listen. They do happen, and they happen every day.

There is another long story I would like to tell you about how I lost $1000.00 by not reading my contract, but I’ll save that for another day.

I will be updating you all in the coming weeks as the home is tore apart and put back together into my own dream home. I will be doing some of the work myself over the coming week but hiring a crew to do a significant portion. I am working on the tightest budget I ever have, but am doing so on purpose. Being my own home, I want to keep the costs down as low as possible so I can pay off the entire mortgage quickly. My goal is to pay the entire home off before the end of my five year loan is up. If not, I could always refinance the note – but having a debt free life is my ultimate goal.

Thanks for taking time to read this post! If you know someone who would benefit from reading this, please share it on your Facebook!

Also, if you have any question or suggestions, please comment below!


P.S. looking for hard money loans in California? Be sure to check out my friends over at They have very competitive rates, can fund within a week and specialize in fix and flip loans and other hard money loans.

Today I am honored to have my favorite real estate investor and property manager in the entire world write for me… my wife! Heather has been my constant companion on my journey through real estate investing and the reason for my success so far. She is not only the best property manager I have ever known, but she knows the business of real estate investing inside and out and has a heart to help others as well.


As someone who entered the world of landlording at the ripe young age of 23, I have had my fair share of dealing with tenants who take one look at me, and use that as ammunition they tuck away for later use when they need someone to walk all over.  Sometimes, it’s written all over their face:

  • Inexperienced
  • Soft
  • Easy
  • Pushover

Great first impression, isn’t it? This is why over the last few years, I have developed a system that not only works for the fresh-faced beginner-landlord, but should be implemented by any and all landlords wishing to have a successful business relationship with their tenants.


It Starts with Being Knowledgeable.


The best ways to do this? Read. A lot. There are so many wonderful books out there on landlording that offer great ideas, strategies, and tools you can use in all sorts of situations you might suddenly find yourself in. I have three favorite books that I believe every landlord should read, highlighter in hand, at least at some point in their career:

Landlording on AutoPilot” by Mike Butler

The Unofficial Guide to Managing Rental Property by Melissa Prandi

How to Manage Residential Property for Maximum Cash Flow and Resale Value” by John T. Reed

Become familiar with your state’s landlord/tenant laws. I have my Landlord Tenant Act printed and tucked away nicely in a file for quick reference.

Also, the internet has a plethora of information from landlords of all shapes and sizes. The information and perspectives from alone is enough to satisfy anyone looking for landlording advice.

Get together with other landlords. If there is one thing I’ve learned, landlords love talking about their experiences. Listen and learn!

The point is, don’t go through landlording blindfolded. Know what you’re getting yourself into, and have a solid foundation on which to build upon.

Have a Written Policy.


All that knowledge you learned? Personalize it to fit your business model and write it down. Cover everything. When a tenant has a question, instead of the answer coming from you, the landlord, it comes from the policy. Example: “My boyfriend got me a puppy for my birthday, can I keep it?” Answer: “I’m really sorry, but our policy states that no pets are allowed at that property.” Having the policy written down helps protect you from succumbing to your sensitive side that thinks on the spur of the moment, “Maybe just ONE puppy wouldn’t be so bad.”

Nope, it’s bad.

Your policy is there to protect you from yourself 🙂 Also, be sure to:

  • Be Up Front. Once you have your policy in place, don’t be coy, make sure your tenants know what those policies are. They should be in your Rental Agreement or Lease, which your tenants should have a copy of.
  • Be Consistent. The Rental Agreement I use with my tenants states that rent is due on the first and considered late after the fifth. On the sixth, if rent hasn’t been received, the tenant gets a $50.00 late fee and a 3-Day Pay or Vacate Notice per our policy and the terms in their Rental Agreement . The tenant is made aware of this when they move in, so it comes as no surprise when on the sixth they receive a late notice. When you are consistent, you are training your tenants to do things on your terms, which if you ask me, is a much wiser decision than doing things on theirs.

Follow Through.


This includes everything from completing tenant requested maintenance to enforcing your policies.

We once had a tenant in one of our 2-bedroom apartments that decided to get a young lab. Their Rental Agreement and our policy both stated that no pets were allowed on the premises. As soon as I was made aware of dog in the apartment (it’s difficult to hide a 60-pound dog in a 24-unit apartment complex!), I contacted the tenant by phone and reminded them of the strict “no-pet” policy and gave them a date by which the dog would have to be gone. When that date rolled around and the dog was still residing in the apartment, the tenant was given a 10-Day Notice to Comply with their Rental Agreement or immediately vacate the premises. On the tenth day, we did a thorough walk-thru of the home and confirmed the dog had been re-located.

Now, I wonder what would have happened if we hadn’t followed through? I can tell you: that apartment would still have one fluffy, yellow, 60-pound tenant.

Be Professional.


Landlording is a business, and as with any successful business, it’s important to always be on your best behavior. This includes the way you interact with your tenants, your appearance, written correspondence, returning phone calls promptly, etc. If you’ve been in the landlord role for any time at all, I’m sure you found out quickly that tenants can be the exact opposite. You can’t control them though, you can only control you. Set the precedent for your tenants that you are a professional business.

When my husband and I started out we essentially started our own property management company for our own rentals. We have a professional name, separate phone-line, operating hours (10-4 Monday thru Friday, with an emergency number for after-hours maintenance issues that can’t wait), logo, letterhead, standard forms, policies, maintenance crew, signs, etc. We answer the telephone with, “Thank you for calling (Company Name).” By doing this, it gave us the professional face we were looking for, and bonus, instantly gave us a higher authority to refer to.

Obviously not everyone needs to go so far as creating a company to run their business through, but the point is that you control how you appear to your tenants, and that appearance sets the precedent. If you want to be taken seriously, be professional in all situations, even when they’re not.

Offer a Quality Product.


Don’t be a slumlord. This doesn’t mean your rental has to look like it came straight out of Better Homes and Gardens, but give your tenants a clean home, something they can feel good in and show off to their friends. Also, generally the better product you offer, the better quality tenants you attract, and the better they will care of it while it’s in their possession.

Be Above Reproach.


Act with integrity. Don’t give your tenants a valid reason to complain.

Notice I said valid. Tenants complain, because unfortunately, in the tenants mind the landlord is the big, bad, rich guy taking advantage of everyone and their grandmother. But that doesn’t mean you have to be the stereotypical landlord. Do what you say you are going to do, when you say you’re going to do it. If your tenants have something to hold over you, trust me they will. So, why give them the opportunity? Doing this won’t stop the complaining or the stereotype, but you will always be one step ahead.

Final Thoughts


Obviously, these steps aren’t the magic formula for creating and maintaining a successful landlording career; however, they do set you up to have a tough time avoiding it. Simply know what you’re about, have a plan, and follow that plan. Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned, young or…wise (wink!), set yourself up to not only succeed, but exceed in this business.

P.S. looking for hard money loans in California? Be sure to check out my friends over at They have very competitive rates, can fund within a week and specialize in fix and flip loans and other hard money loans.


That’s the highest annual interest rate return for a five-year CD (Certificate of Deposit) according to today. Even worse than that, my local bank offers me a .5% interest on my savings account. This means if I had $20,000 in savings, I would earn an incredible $8 per month.

In this down economy, investors are used to seeing returns like this. So many people are turning to the stock market for growing their money.The stock market has, historically, earned an average of 8-10% per year.

Significantly better, of course, than the bank CD or savings account.

But what if I told you 30% was not only possible, but the minimum threshold you should ever settle with?

No, you are not going to find that in the stock market, or your local bank. Yes, stocks do sometimes soar significant amounts in one day and stock investors can make a sizable profit quickly – but these are not regular returns and most day-traders lose money in the long run (See The Myth of The Hero Stock). It’s no different from gambling. Gamblers love to tell stories of the day they won $500 on a $20 bet, but hide the six months of losses they’ve faced up to that point and the fact that they lost that $500 the very next day.

So how do you achieve 30% returns, regularly?

Of course, you already know what I’m going to say.

Real Estate.

However, the purpose of this post is to teach you how this is done, step-by-step. It’s easy to tell you how its possible, but I actually will walk you through exactly how this is done and why it isn’t a fantasy to make 30% or more on your money.  It is important to understand that not all real estate investments can achieve these results. However, if you invest correctly, a 30% return is the minimum you should aim for on your investment.

30% Case Study

We are going to look at an example of a single-family investment house. We’ll call it 123 Main Street. A typical mortgage is going to require a 20% down-payment, so we will need $16,000 for our down payment. We will also need roughly $4,000 to cover the closing costs, prepaid insurance, and hiring someone to give the inside a good painting and some new carpet.

Our total investment: $20,000.00.

Our total mortgage amount on the property: $64,000.00.

The home is rented out for $1,200.00 per month to a nice family who pays for all their own utilities. The mortgage on this property, with taxes and insurance, comes to $600.00 per month. This leaves $600 per month in cashflow. However, we are not going to use that full amount, but only half of it – assuming over time we will need to spend some money on hiring a handyman to fix things or to pay the mortgage when the home is vacant for short periods of time.

Thus, we are clearing $300 per month in positive cashflow, or $3,600 per year, a “cash on cash” return of 18% ($3,600/$20,000)

“But that’s not 30%!”

And I am not finished, either.

Let’s look at this from a five-year timeline. After five years, the mortgage will have been paid down $4,000.00, so we only owe $60,000.00. Meanwhile, property in America has historically appreciated between3%-5%, so I will use a middle number of 4%. Thus, the home is now worth $97,000.00.

After five years, our equity is: $37,000.00 ($97,000 – $60,000) and we have been collecting $3600 per year in cashflow (or $18,000 in five years of cashflow).

So, in five years we have taken our $20,000 investment and grown it to $55,000 – which equates to an 175% return in five years, or an average annual return of 35%. ($20,000 / $35,000 = 1.75, & 1.75 / 5 = .35)

But Wait, There’s More…

Not only are the returns I have discussed above possible, but are only a very conservative look at returns you can achieve by investing in real estate the right way. There are numerous ways to increase that number, to super-charge your returns even more:

      1. Buy at discount: I never pay full price for a home, and you shouldn’t either. If this home was purchased for $80,000 – it should be worth, at minimum, $100,000. Imagine adding $20,000 in equity immediately to the calculations for your return (I did – it works out to an annual average return of 55%)
      2. Force Appreciation: I love properties that need a little help. Not a lot, necessarily, but certain features can force a property to increase in value almost immediately. For example, adding a closet in a previously “bonus room” can turn a two-bedroom house into a three-bedroom – adding significant equity, or putting up a fence and new landscaping can increase curb appeal and thus force appreciation. That 4% per year average appreciation could be increased significantly the first year, as high as ten or twenty percent or more.
      3. Tax Benefits: Real Estate investing has certain tax benefits that can greatly increase your returns as well. Depreciation – a deduction allowed by the IRS but doesn’t actually cost you anything – can help offset any tax due on your investment income. For more information, talk to your tax adviser or CPA. I am not one, but I do know that last year I paid $0 in taxes. Try doing that with the returns from stocks.
      4. Infinite Returns: If you don’t have any money, you can still invest in real estate. Nearly all of my properties have been acquired with no money out of my own pocket. What do you think the return is on an investment of $0? Infinite. Granted, I often had to put my own time, experience, and often labor into these properties. However, I just want to let you know it is possible to invest in real estate and make killer returns without starting with a huge sum of money.

Obviously, there are benefits to using CDs, savings accounts, and the stock market. These avenues can be good for storing extra income until you find a better place, as they are significantly more liquid than real estate (you can add or subtract money easily), and I don’t believe you should ever put all your eggs into one basket. However, if you are looking to diversify your investment portfolio, I encourage you to look at Real Estate. It may not be as passive as other forms of investing, but the returns can be significantly better, if you invest correctly.

If you’ve stuck with me this long, I am going to assume you understand the concepts I’m talking about. For a more thorough look at how you can turn these returns into million dollar wealth, check out my 100% free eBook “7 Years to 7 Figure Wealth.” Just enter your email in the form on the top-right side of this page and I’ll email you it immediately.

Image courtesy of

P.S. looking for hard money loans in California? Be sure to check out my friends over at They have very competitive rates, can fund within a week and specialize in fix and flip loans and other hard money loans.