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Self-Directed IRA: How To Keep Your Retirement Funds Secure And Invest In Anything You Want With Kaaren Hall

REW Kaaren Hall | Self-Directed IRA


Self-directed IRAs have grown in popularity over recent years. They offer more flexibility, including the ability to use your IRA funds to invest in things other than stocks and bonds. However, they are not as common as 401Ks, and there’s yet a lot to understand about them. That’s why in this episode, Kaaren Hall shares her expertise in self-directed IRAs and how women like her can thrive in real estate investment. Kaaren is a Self-Directed IRA Expert and CEO at uDirect IRA Services and OCREIA. Tune in now and learn how to start self-directed IRAs!

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Self-Directed IRA: How To Keep Your Retirement Funds Secure And Invest In Anything You Want With Kaaren Hall

Real Estate Investing For Women

I am excited to welcome back to the show for the third time, Kaaren Hall. For those of you who have not checked out her shows before, let me give you a reminder of her bio. This is what we have. Despite being in the midst of a recession and mortgage market collapse, Kaaren Hall founded and made a resounding success of uDirect IRA Services. She discovered a strategic way to put her twenty-plus years in mortgage banking, real estate, and property management to use.

The solution was an untapped market for both her skills and for investors, which is self-directed IRAs. Through uDirect IRA, she has guided tens of thousands of Americans through the process of diversifying their investments using self-directed IRAs with $1 billion plus under management. Learn more about Kaaren and its thriving company at UDirectIRA.com. Kaaren, you are very distracting.

I’m so sorry. You have to have fun because it’s serious business. We like to keep it light.

How are you?

I’m doing super well. I saw you. That was lovely. All is well.

Kaaren is incredibly generous with her time in her business as well as in her personal life. She has been putting together these boss lady retreats. For some of us ladies that don’t have the time to do stuff, she puts it all together. We show up and have this luxurious time with all these powerful women. We don’t talk business. We are not there to talk shop. We hang out and get to know each other’s hearts. It has been so much fun to hang out with Kaaren and some of the other ladies that were there. She also invited me to this formal event where I got to dress up in a beautiful gown. Who gets to do that? It was so much Fun.

How many gowns do you have? People don’t do gowns but it was so much fun.

There was so much eye can be there with all the men in tuxedos. It was so good. We had a great time. That was not too long ago. It’s so nice to connect with you again.

I’m happy we can be talking because the IRAs have always been a hot thing. There is some stuff on the griddle, if you will, coming up. It’s a good time to talk about it.

Why don’t you start with that? That’s a great lead-in.

When you read my bio, and you talked about an untapped market in 2009, it was an untapped market. Many people had no idea what a self-directed IRA was. These things were created. The IRA, in general, was created in 1975. It has been around for so long. It’s tried and true. In 2009, all of a sudden, it was recession time. There was money. You can’t get a loan from a bank, especially for real estate investing, because it was such a tough time. That’s when I opened uDirect. People discovered the self-directed IRA as they know it. That’s when they discovered it because they could tap into other people’s IRAs to raise money for their deals.

I want to interject one thing here that I’ve done. Every single time you talk about this, I want to put it in here, too. A lot of people say, “I’ve got a self-directed IRA,” because they’ve got it with Fidelity, Vanguard or whatever. “They let me direct as much as I want.” They let you direct on certain vehicles, usually mutual funds. They will let you do some REITs if you are interested in real estate. They will mostly stock.

They are stock market-type vehicles. They won’t let you invest, for instance, in real estate. What Kaaren is talking about is a true self-directed IRA because you can invest in other things that are not stock-based. That’s the big differentiating factor between a true self-directed IRA and a, “I’ve got a self-directed IRA in my 401(k).”

It is self-directed. IRAs are IRAs. An IRA is like a bucket that holds assets. What makes it self-directed is the asset you choose. When you talk to your financial advisor, they are licensed. You know this. You are licensed. If you are licensed to sell market-correlated assets, that’s it. You can advise on that but you can’t advise outside of the stock market. We are all about the alternative asset. What makes it self-directed is that you are choosing the asset. We are not telling you what to invest in. We don’t offer anything for sale. It’s truly self-directed.

REW Kaaren Hall | Self-Directed IRA

Self-Directed IRA: IRA is like a bucket that holds assets. What makes it self-directed is the asset you choose.


Back to the recession, it was great to see and witness the grassroots level of capital raise. There was a huge need for capital and projects. There were so many houses that needed to be rehabbed and fixed. One of the solutions was IRAs. IRAs were a grassroots person-to-person way to rebuild our economy. In retirement accounts altogether, there is nearly $40 trillion in retirement. That’s an enormous amount.

Let’s put that money to work, making everything better. My IRA loans your business some money. Your business pays my IRA back the loan. My IRA purchases a house. The renters pay the rent to my IRA. There are private placements and precious metals. There are so many different kinds of assets. That’s when it came to the forefront of most people’s minds.

Self-directing has been around for a long time. As you and I were chatting about off-camera, not a lot has changed in the years since I have been in the industry. A few things have. A couple of Case Laws have passed, drawing lines because the IRS doesn’t always make things clear. With the IRs, it’s always, “It depends.” We’ve received, in many years, a skosh of clarity from them but hardly any. It’s largely unchanged.

We are looking at a couple of possible changes again on that griddle of IRAs. One of them, and this has got bipartisan support called the Secure Act 2.0. The biggest thing that we will see coming out of this Secure Act 2.0 is an increase in the RMDA or Required Minimum Distribution Age. Why do you care? It’s not a big deal. This is why you care. If you were at a level where you needed to take money out of your IRA, that’s fine.

REW Kaaren Hall | Self-Directed IRA

Self-Directed IRA: The biggest thing we’ll see coming out of this Secure Act 2.0 is an increase in the RMD, a required minimum distribution age.


If you were at a level where, “I’m doing good. I want to leave my money in my retirement account, so it could continue to grow because I don’t need it now,” it was 70 and a half, and then Secure Act 2.0 passed, and it became 72. It’s going to go to 75. Your money can keep continuing to grow all those years before you are required to take it out. Isn’t that great?

Yeah. This is the key. We get a little bit confused about it but people don’t realize that in IRAs, there is a required age. If you are 70 and still working, you don’t need all that money. You are still required to take out a portion at 72. I have known many people who are like, “I don’t want to take it out yet. I’m not ready. I want it to keep growing.” Yay on them at 72 that they are like, “I’m still going strong,” but the government didn’t give them any option. It sounds like there’s a possibility of a new option, which I love. That means you can take it out younger than 70. Is it 59? What is the lowest?

59 and a half is when you can take it out without penalty.

That’s a good start if you want to.

The required minimum distribution is you have to. That brings up another good point about the Secure Act 2.0. If you forget your RMD and don’t take it, the penalty is 50% of what that RMD would have been. It’s so big. It’s bad. What the 2.0 is looking to do, and it’s in writing. We will see how it comes out. Secure Act 2.0 would lessen that penalty to probably 25%. That’s what they are talking about. I know RMDs are probably far off for a lot of people but this is important, maybe for your parents or your other family members that have to take this money out. It’s good to know that things are going to become more lenient in that regard. I’m happy about that.

When you are deciding where to put your savings money or you are investing money away, those are things that you are going to consider. If I want full liquidity and full control, I may not want to put it in an IRA of any sort. IRAs have limits on how much you can put in and all of that stuff too. As you are making your financial plan for your future, some of it you are planning for retirement, for cashflow, for now, for vacations, and for life happening. Which portion do you continue to put into your IRA, and how do you decide to utilize that? How much are you going to prioritize? The more flexibility we have on that, the more likely we are to prioritize that as a possibility. Wouldn’t you agree?

Completely. What you said brought up a point. You are using that money. When you are investing using an IRA, why do you do it? Why would you use an IRA? It’s because of its tax-protected status. If it’s like a SEP, a traditional IRA or a 401(k), chances are it is tax-deferred. You are not paying tax until you take the money out. If it’s a Roth, it’s tax-free, assuming you need two qualifying conditions like being 59 and a half and having a Roth for five years.

It’s the tax treatment. That’s the reason you use an IRA to invest. You are not going to pay the tax in a typical IRA, the traditional or SEP IRA, for example, until you take the money out. You can make a huge killing. Maybe you bought a building, and 1 year or 10 years later, you sell it. Maybe you made $100,000. We don’t need $100,000. You need $10,000. You want to take up $10,000, so you don’t have to pay tax on that whole cashflow experience. It’s the amount that you need. You pay the tax as you direct per diem.

When you are putting your financial plan together, it gives you more control. For me, I’m all about choice. I want control over my money. That’s what it’s all about for me. Choice in my money gives me a choice in life.

Plus, when you contribute, unless you make too much and hit a certain amount, you can also perhaps take a tax deduction for your contribution. This 2022 or coming up in 2023, the contribution limits went up because we see inflation. We saw the biggest increase. If you have a solo 401(k) in 2022, the cap is either 25% of your income or $61,000, the lesser of. In 2022, the contribution limit was a lesser of 25% of your income or $61,000. You can make that 2022 contribution all the way until your tax filing deadline. There’s an end to that but you can do that and make a prior year contribution.

For 2023, here’s where the contribution limits had a very surprising increase. It went up $5,000, which is very unusual in this arena. It’s 25% of your income or $66,000, the lesser of. If you have a solo 401(k), that is a huge advantage to you to be able to contribute $5,000 more and, hopefully, most likely get a tax break on that.

I know a lot of people reading do not remember what a solo 401(k) is. Could you define that really quickly?

Sure. We know what a 401(k) is at work. It’s a savings plan. Unlike an IRA, this is a 401(k). It’s a different animal. It’s the same purpose but a different animal. An IRA is one thing like a SEP, which is a Simplified Employee Pension. An IRA is one thing but the solo 401(k) is two things. It’s an employer portion and an employee portion. It’s two buckets.

If you are self-employed with no full-time employees in any of the companies that you own, then you can have a solo 401(k). You qualify for it, and you can contribute more. It has two buckets. Those are the employer and the employee bucket or we call it the plan and the participant. In the participant portion, which is the smaller portion, that can be all Roth. That’s one of the great things about the solo 401(k).

Another great thing about a solo 401(k), if you qualify for it, is that you can take out a plan loan. You can borrow from your solo 401(k) for your personal use. That is maybe to buy a personal home, take a vacation, pay for college or whatever. You must pay your 401(k) back over a five-year period, either monthly or quarterly, at a market rate. It’s like a little investment. The loan turns out to be an investment for your plan. You can have that for personal use. It’s huge. You can’t do that in an IRA.

There are other benefits. If you have an IRA and want to invest in real estate, that’s great. Many people do. If you have a solo 401(k) and invest in real estate, that’s also great. If one of these accounts wants to take a loan, it’s a solo 401(k) that is not subject to the UDFI tax for an acquisition loan. We all love the power of leverage. In our personal lives, leverage is yay. In an IRA or 401(k), typically, the proceeds that the account earns because of leverage are subject to this UDFI tax. If it’s for acquisition, then this solo 401(k) has an exemption. That’s another great thing about the solo 401(k).

Tell me about that tax.

We will break off solo 401(k) for a second because it’s a great account if you are self-employed and have no full-time employees. It’s the bomb. There are two times an IRA can be taxed. We use IRAs, 401(k)s, and all these plans to save on tax. It’s not income tax. It’s UDFI and UBIT tax. That is what it is. If you want to jot something down for our readers, it’s IRS.Gov Publication 598. You can go deep there on Pub 598.

We will use simple numbers. Your IRA purchases a house, and it’s $100,000. That’s great. In your IRA, you only had $70,000 to put in, so you borrowed $30,000. Thirty percent of that acquisition cost is leveraged. Your renters pay the $1,000 rent on that $100,000 house. 30% of that $1,000 was earned because of leverage. That 30% that was earned due to leverage is subject to the UDFI tax or Unrelated Debt Financed Income Tax.

We are talking about your IRA owning a house and a renter. Here’s another situation where the UDFI tax comes into play and catches people by surprise. That’s private equity. If your IRA loans money to a private equity capital razor, that’s different. If your IRA has an equity position and ownership position in private equity and that asset sponsor is taking leverage in the deal, then part of the money your IRA earns is because of the leverage the asset sponsor took. You are going to owe UDFI, and you might not know it. That’s one of the things when you do your due diligence on a private placement. Always read it. Always have your attorney review it. Take a look and see whether this asset sponsor is taking on cap or taking on leverage.

REW Kaaren Hall | Self-Directed IRA

Self-Directed IRA: When you do your due diligence on a private placement, always read it and have your attorney review it.


It’s not the end of the world when you file a 990-T, which is the tax form. You get to take a deduction, so maybe there will be no tax at all. You still have to file. Maybe it’s a wash, and it’s not a big deal but you want to know. That’s because if you need to file the 990-T and you don’t, the IRS will come knocking eventually and say, “Why didn’t you file a 990-T?” They are going to know because the asset sponsor is going to issue a K-1 to you. They share that K-1 with the IRS, and the IRS knows, “Red light here. This is what we should expect. We should expect a 990-T because there was income earned because of leverage.” A lot of people don’t know that.

That was an awful lot of good information. It blew up my brain. Can I ask some questions?

Please do.

We have a lot of boss ladies that do syndication. Let’s say, for instance, we invest with one of our ladies. For many of them, their minimum is $50,000. My audience, you know what we are talking about. Let’s say you put $50,000 in a syndication deal, and it’s got a five-year span. Your preferred rate is 7%. Your IRR is supposed to be whatever it is. We get our K-1 every year. Let’s get specific. How does that work? I know you explained it to me but let’s break it down a little bit more, so I can understand what you said. Is that okay? I know you are not a tax consultant. I’m clear about that. What you said was interesting, and I’m afraid I missed something because I’m in that situation.

Some of our friends, I invested with them too but I’ve invested as a note investor like a lender. I don’t have to worry about these taxes because my IRA doesn’t have an equity position. My IRA is the lender. It’s different.

You are not a preferred partner. You are just carrying a note.

That’s correct. I like to think I’m preferred.

There’s something. Your preferred rate is 7%, 9% or 10%, and then they are going to refinance and give you back your capital and then some. You get part of the rent every month, and then eventually, they are going to sell, and you are going to get some of that equity. You then have a gain because you’ve taken depreciation. There’s all this good stuff.

That’s the beauty of making money right there.

That was pretty cool. When you say that you are just carrying a note, is that not the same as what I said?

It is similar but I don’t have an equity state. I’m a lender, not an equity owner.

That’s also interesting. As an equity owner, for instance, like what I’ve got going on, how does that translate? Do you know?

If your IRA is an equity owner and your IRA earns money because of leverage, then it kicks in this UDFI tax. It’s a tax on unrelated income tax. It is related to investing. I don’t quite get that definition because you are investing but that’s what it’s called. It’s the IRS. Go figure. The thing about it is that if your IRA earns capital due to leverage. It’s not money that you contributed. It’s not money you saved. You are not earning a certain percentage of that return because of your savings. You earn that return because of the leverage that the asset sponsor took out. It’s subject to tax. You would talk to your tax advisor, show them the K-1, and have them file a 990-T.

REW Kaaren Hall | Self-Directed IRA

Self-Directed IRA: If your IRA earns capital due to leverage, you’re not earning a certain percentage of that return because of your savings. You earned that return because of the leverage that the asset sponsor took out.


That’s only if it’s invested with an IRA.

With a retirement account. That’s correct. I’m all in the bubble of retirement accounts. That’s all I speak on. It is inside the bubble.

That’s interesting. I didn’t know all that. That’s cool.

It’s a good thing to look for because so many people are caught unaware.

What were some of the other things you were headed towards?

It’s hard to remember but we talked about the Secure Act, what’s happening with RMDs, and the possible changes. When you and I were at this event, we heard economists speaking about what’s on the horizon. Nobody has a crystal ball but it certainly could lead to perhaps lower-priced real estate again. We might see that again. If we do, that might be a good time to acquire real estate again. Buy low, sell high, I don’t think that’s giving investment advice. Everybody knows that. We may have an uptake in people investing in brick and mortar and sticks and bricks real estate again, having tenants, and going through that. Why don’t I talk a little bit about what it’s like to own real estate in an IRA?

Please, that’s what I was going to ask. Tell us how that works.

Do you know how we buy a stock where we go online? That’s what I do anyway. I click and I’m like, “I want this many shares,” and it’s there. There’s no problem. The first is buying a house. Let’s say that’s what we are doing here. You got to go through escrow. You got to do all that title. You can’t get away from that part. Your IRA comes in with the money.

If you need leverage, we talked about the non-recourse loan that your IRA would take to borrow money. We are there. We are at the closing table. The offer has been made in the name of the IRA, either you have leverage or you don’t. Maybe you’ve got two partners buying it together concurrently and are ready to close. That’s great. You then close on real estate.

I want to clarify. Let’s say, for instance, we are talking $50,000 again. You are buying a $200,000 piece of property. You put in the $50,000 from your account but that controls much more. Your 25% controls four times as much in the asset. That’s the way real estate leverage works. There’s a special kind of loan that can be given to an IRA that’s not given to the rest of us. That’s what she was referring to when she said non-recourse loan. Those are the loans that you can get if you’ve only got a certain amount of the value of the property to invest.

It threw me off but that’s true. You’ve got this property, and you are buying it. We could go off on so many rabbit holes but I’m going to stick with it. Your IRA, let’s say, owns 100%. You didn’t use leverage. It bought the building straight out with your savings, whatever building it is. What do you do with it? There are things called prohibited transactions. One of the things is that you cannot offer what’s called “over-contribution of sweat equity.” You don’t want to offer an over-contribution of sweat equity because it’s prohibited.

You’ve got this property in your IRA but what you can’t do is hammer the nails. You can’t do the work yourself because it’s called an over-contribution of sweat equity. It’s a prohibited transaction, which is something you want to avoid. That’s why we always talk to people. We give a free consultation so we can talk to you and say, “Tell us about your deal. We will help you learn how to avoid prohibited transactions, so you are not going to do that.” What you can do is you can still hire third-party vendors. You can select the property, close on it, and do all that without it being sweat equity. You can vet the renters in the property and hire third parties to do the work without it being considered sweat equity.

You are allowed to property-manage. What you cannot do is take any fee from your IRA for anything, including property management for an IRA on property. That’s great because your IRA is there. You’ve got tenants. You’ve done your homework. You’ve got a cashflow going. You can use that cashflow to build your retirement. All expenses must be paid for by the IRA, and all proceeds must go back to the IRA that owns that asset. That’s how that works.

For instance, let’s say you put in all the money from your IRA, and suddenly, you’ve got some maintenance things. A fridge goes out. The sprinkler system breaks. Something happens. All the money from the rent has been going into that IRA, so you’ve got this extra money that you can utilize for these other things that you have to do. It comes up with real estate.

That’s why we ask our account holders to leave a 10% pad in their account because you don’t know what you are going to need. There are the closing costs, the rehab, the property tax or that new refrigerator that you need for your rental. It has to be a rental property. You can’t have any personal use of it. All those expenses have to be paid for by the IRA. You need to leave a pad. Let’s talk about what happens if you don’t have enough money.

Let’s talk about that because that’s what everybody is thinking.

There are a few things you can do. You can write a check and contribute to your account. That’s probably everyone’s first go-to. Your contribution depends upon your age, your income, and your account type. You can then write a check and contribute. Maybe you already made your contribution, so what can you do then? Maybe you’ve got another IRA someplace. You will liquidate that to cash, send the cash over to the self-directed IRA, and make it up.

You could take on a debt partner. That’s somebody to give you a non-recourse loan to your IRA account so that you could then come up with the money to do what you needed to do if you had to. If all else fails, you would need to sell the asset. If you didn’t have enough to cover the expenses, you would need to sell the asset because you can’t pay for those things personally.

When someone gives you a non-recourse loan to make up the difference, are there certain percentage restrictions? Does it have to be another IRA that’s making that loan? Tell me a little bit about what that other loan might do because that’s interesting. I’ve never heard that before. How can you utilize that?

If anybody would like a copy of my list of non-recourse lenders, and it’s not the people I necessarily endorse because it’s as a courtesy but if you want that list, I would be very happy to send it to you. You can reach me at [email protected]. That is my email address. You could also go to UDirectIRA.com. There you go. I will send you the list. It could be an individual. It could be a bank. I don’t know if a bank would make a loan if you are in a hard place but it doesn’t have to be IRA money. It could be somebody else’s personal money.

What it can’t be is a disallowed person. It’s not going to be a lineal ascendant or descendant. That is parents, grandparents, you and your spouse, children, and grandchildren. They are not going to be making this loan. It’s also not going to be a 50/50 business partner. They are disallowed or any fiduciary like your real estate agent or your CPA. That’s somebody who has a fiduciary duty to your calendar and this asset. They would be barred from doing that. You could have a third party make a non-recourse loan to your IRA.

That’s interesting because that gets us out of trouble in a situation like that.

It might be the final straw. That would be my last go-to but it’s available. We are in real estate. We bought the property. It’s the whole lifespan. Let’s talk about the timing of the lifespan of something like this because that’s something people always wonder, “How long will it take?” We know how long real estate takes. Let’s put it there. Real estate is an imperfect world. It’s always, “I’m sorry, but.” It can also have a glorious outcome. In some way, there is going to be a train wreck at some point along the way because it’s a house.

Real estate is an imperfect world. It can have a glorious outcome, but it can also be a train wreck at some point along the way. Click To Tweet

It happens. I don’t like to call it a train wreck. There are challenges and tears.

Challenges and opportunities, that’s what it’s. It’s to say that you are going to have a pitfall, so you want to know what to expect. First, you open an account. That’s the first thing. How long does it take? It may be a day. You fill out a form, give us a setup fee and your ID, and there you go. You’ve got an account. It takes one day max.

The second step is putting money in that account or funding it so you can make a contribution. You can do a rollover from a previous employer plan like you are moving the money from that previous employer’s 401(k), 457(b) or 403(b). That takes about two weeks if it’s a previous employer plan. You transfer an IRA-to-IRA transfer, which usually is much faster than a rollover. It usually takes a week tops.

When it’s open and funded, then you invest. You select the asset that you want to invest in. It could be precious metals, private equity or a loan. There are many different things. You give us what we call the supporting documentation, which is a general way of saying the contract. There’s some agreement, even if it’s an invoice to pay a vendor or it’s the actual note and deed of trust for a secured loan.

Whatever the documentation is for that asset, give that to us along with a simple, quick form like who you are, what you want to do, how much, and all that. We then review it. It goes through a review process. We say 3 to 5 business days to make that happen but oftentimes, it happens a lot faster. The majority of the time, it happens a lot faster. Sometimes more but mostly a lot faster than that.

You open the account. It might take two weeks to fund it. While we are waiting for that money to come in, we are reviewing your documents and getting everything all queued up so that you are ready to pull the trigger when the money comes in. We will send a check or a wire, and you’ve self-direct. That’s how that works.

That’s true for real estate, too. I’ve heard that to buy real estate. You have to open up an LLC in the name of the IRA.

That’s an excellent topic. I’ve got a lot to say about that. That’s called the IRA-owned LLC. You probably heard it called the checkbook IRA. It’s not what it is. People get the misconception that when they open a self-directed account that a checking account comes with it. That is a misconception. That is not how it works. You have a retirement account that’s self-directed. You open it, fund it, then you have a third party create a special-purpose LLC. You are not going to do this yourself.

People get the misconception that when they open a self-directed account, a checking account comes with it. Click To Tweet

People will say, “I have a 401(k). We will put it in there.” You can’t use the LLC that you created yourself because you own it. Your IRA cannot purchase an asset you own. It has to be a third party that creates this special purpose LLC. The IRA is open and has money in it. The IRA buys 100% of the initial units of that special purpose LLC. The money goes from the IRA into the LLC’s checking account. Your IRA is like the umbrella, and your LLC sits under the umbrella. The IRA owns the LLC. That’s how you can have checkbook control of your IRA funds. It can be handy in some situations, especially when you are investing in tax liens that are transaction-intensive.

When you are buying properties at an auction where you have to have the money, there are some useful purposes. You don’t have to have an LLC to purchase real estate. You will hear some attorneys say, “It gives you great asset protection. It does this and that.” That all may be true. I’m not a lawyer and can’t give legal advice but people will do it for that reason too and to separate out their assets. There are a lot of reasons to do that.

I live in the State of California. Every single LLC gets taxed $800 every single year. That continues. It’s not like it’s exempt from that because it’s owned by an IRA.

It’s for the privileged. Nobody else has that high tax as an annual fee. That’s another good point. If you think, “I don’t like this $800 in California. I’m going to open a Delaware LLC for my IRA,” you still have to register it in California. You would still pay in Delaware and California.

I found that out the hard way.

Sometimes, it’s worth it to people that do that. A lot of people do that to protect their assets. That’s a great conversation to have with your asset protection attorney.

One of the questions or comments that I get from my ladies is, “I don’t understand it.” When people are confused, they don’t move. They get stuck. Some of this stuff helps us to mitigate that feeling of not knowing. What would you say to people that are hesitating? For instance, my husband is like, “I’m going to keep it all in the 401(k). I understand it. I’m good.” He’s got some rollover money. We were talking about self-directing it. He’s like, “I want to do it this way.” There are a lot of people out there that are like that. They don’t understand it. They are afraid to move everything over or roll it all over. What would you say to those people?

I would say that you probably want to have a return on your investment. You want your money to grow. You take a look and say, “How can I make my money grow?” Let’s say you decide you are going to invest in it. You were like, “Maybe I will throw it out to a private equity like a Reg D offering.” Whether you do it personally or in an IRA, you can still make the same return. If you do it in an IRA, then that return is either tax-free or tax-deferred. That’s one reason to use a self-directed IRA.

Let’s assume you’ve got those two buckets of money, which are personal money and retirement money. If you only have retirement money, you have a different question to ask yourself, “I want to invest in these assets that I know best.” In this case, we are using an example of private equity. You are like, “I know private equity better than the stock market. Do I want to invest in market-correlated assets, or do I want to invest in alternative assets?” We are assuming that those are the assets that you understand and have your head wrapped around.

That’s a different question. Is it the stock market or alternative assets? Are you going to invest personally, with your IRA or with your retirement account? These are questions you need to ask yourself. Where are you going to get the best bang for the buck tax-wise? Sometimes, in real estate, you get the most bang for the buck buying it personally because there are so many write-offs to buying real estate personally. That could be the case but you don’t know if you don’t pencil it out. Meet with your CPA and get some financial advice.

There are some people that would say this, “I don’t want to put my retirement stuff in anything that would be a high risk that I could lose money because that’s my retirement money. I don’t want to risk it with that.” I would love to hear your feedback on this. If you think that there’s a high probability of losing money, it’s probably not a good thing to put in your IRA. It may also not be a good thing to be investing in personally unless it’s your play money or only a certain percentage.

If you are having that conversation with yourself, you might reconsider. I’m super conservative, so if I’m having that conversation with myself, I’m not going to invest it in anything. If I feel like I can invest in it, then it’s something I could do in my IRA. The stock market is not a guarantee, either. People lose money in the stock market every day of the week, unfortunately. It’s not because it’s in the stock market that it’s something that people understand or it’s something where you have quick liquidity. Making decisions with the push of a button doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s protecting your money.

You have to make wise choices about investing, to begin with, and then it’s what vehicle you are going to use, what your tax situation is, and whether your tax benefits are going one way or the other. You want to pencil it out with pros and cons. You can simplify your decision-making process that way.

You have to make wise choices about investing, to begin with. Pencil out the pros and cons; you can simplify your decision-making process that way. Click To Tweet

Kareen, that was so amazing. Thank you much for all that you’ve offered so far in the show. That was awesome.

Thank you. It’s a privilege to be able to share this information so that people can grow their retirement. That’s what we want.

You are so amazing. We all love you. How can people reach you?

The best way is UDirectIra.com, our website. You can click and schedule a consultation. You can read our free report that’s out there to learn about some different asset classes. There is a lot of information there. You can also email us at [email protected]. We will give you a free consultation. We will say, “Tell us about your deal. What are you looking to do?” We will discuss that with you, and then you can make your decisions if that’s the right thing for you.

You also offered earlier that if you go to [email protected], you will give us a list of non-recourse lenders. You could ask for that, too. Thank you for that. I’m excited. We are going to talk at EXTRA about how to do your due diligence on investments that you want to do in your self-directed IRA. Stay tuned for that in EXTRA.

If you are already subscribed, you are going to get it right after this. If you are not and would like to be, go to RealEstateInvestingForWomenExtra.com, and then you can get all that information on doing your due diligence. It’s a little bit different from the way that Kaaren talks about it because she’s talking about it as far as putting it in a self-directed IRA. I’m excited about that conversation.

For those of you that are leaving us, thank you so much for spending this time with Kaaren and me. You know how much I appreciate you. I look forward to seeing you next time. Until then, remember, goals without action are just dreams. Get out there, take action, and create the life your heart deeply desires. I will talk to you soon. Bye.


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Focusing On A Niche With Jake & Gino – Real Estate For Women

REW 30 | Focusing On A Niche


Real estate investing is one of the best investments available, and for good reason. However, for people getting started in real estate investing, niching down is the key. Joining Moneeka Sawyer on today’s podcast are Jake Stenziano and Gino Barbaro. Jake and Gino are both experts in multifamily real estate investing and the founders of Jake & Gino, a multifamily real estate investment consulting and coaching agency. Whether it be single-family homes, self-storage, mobile home parks, commercial multifamily, or whatever type, Jake and Gino explain why real estate investors should focus on a niche.

Listen to the podcast here


Focusing On A Niche With Jake & Gino – Real Estate For Women

Real Estate Investing For Women

I am excited to welcome into the show, Jake Stenziano and Gino Barbaro, achieve financial freedom through multifamily real estate investing. Jake & Gino have owned and operated over 1,500 multi-units, have $100 million in assets under management. I looked at all those zeros and went, “Wow.” They host the number one multifamily real estate podcast on iTunes, Wheelbarrow Profits. Welcome to the show. How are you?

We’re good, Moneeka. It’s nice to meet you. It’s nice to talk to you.

I’ve been looking forward to this show. Why don’t you give us a short, high-level of how did you meet? Tell us a little bit about your story.

For us, it was back in 2009 at I had a restaurant and my partner, Jake, was a pharmaceutical rep and he used our restaurant for pharmaceutical orders to go to doctor’s offices. He was catering out of there. I was introduced through my brother and my brother had a good relationship with Jake. They were good friends and I was stuck in the kitchen. Our relationship grew slowly. He would come in, he’d place orders. I love the way he worked. He was the only pharmaceutical rep that I’ve ever met that had a calendar of events and he was going to doctors scheduling them. He was on point. I was impressed by the way he was prepared and the way he was willing to work hard. Two years go by, and Jake decides to leave New York.

It’s in 2011. He’s like, “I’m leaving New York.” I’m like, “Before you leave, let’s take a look at where you’re going. You’re going to Knoxville, Tennessee. Let’s look at the deals in Knoxville, Tennessee.” I wanted to do multifamily and Jake was into CrossFit. He wants to do some type of business. He wants to do something with passive income. I said, “Jake, let’s take a look.” We opened up the laptop, look at LoopNet. We’re like, “There are some deals down here.” There’s nothing like New York. “When you get down there, Jake, let’s stay in touch and let’s see if we can find something.” It took us eighteen months to find that first deal together. For us, we wanted to get out of the business. I wanted out of the restaurant business and Jake wanted to stop going to doctor’s offices.

For us, I was fortunate that I had been coaching. I’d been getting mentored by a real estate coach and I knew how to underwrite deals. I knew how to analyze a market. To manage right, I had a couple of little small multi-families that I knew and Jake was the boots on the ground for us. For us, I would say it was a marriage made in heaven, that business partnership is. It’s a marriage. You’re getting involved with somebody who you’re going to talk to multiple times a day. This is the third time I’ve talked to him. It’s been that way years later. For us, were great. We work together well. We have each other’s back. He does the property management day to day. I do the education component day to day. We’ve been continuing to scale the business. We’re fortunate that we found each other, to be honest with you.

I’m going to elaborate on that a little bit if I can because Gino is giving the puff piece where it’s all the sunshine and rainbows, but it wasn’t always like that, especially for me. When I was a pharmaceutical rep, I was organized but I was fortunate to have great mentors. While the 2008 time was happening, you had healthcare reform and a lot of things happening. I saw what was a great career for me at the time get totally decimated by government reforms and that’s not to complain. It is what it is. The company started doing layoffs every year.

They would basically tell us to go home, sit by our phone around Christmas time, and they would let us know if we had a job or not. I realized it was a lot of risks personally for myself and my future family at the time. I knew I had to do something different and it was looking and seeing who’s doing well? How are they doing it? There was a gentleman that left a big impression on my life before I started partnering with Gino. That was a doctor who was in the area that I was calling on. We saw all of the doctors in the area getting gobbled up by these medical groups and they’re all losing their autonomy. I was like, “What’s going on here? These were the people that were such proud members of the society, basically going from entrepreneurs to employees.” That left a big impression.

I saw my industry getting crushed and I was starting to say, “What is going on?” There was one doctor out of the whole entire county that I was calling on that retained his autonomy and kept his private practice. Do you know what the difference was? He owned real estate. He owned real estate from Florida all the way up to New York and he didn’t have to continue being a doctor. He did it because he chose it. He was living life on his terms. If you want to talk about an impression, I was in my twenties at the time. That left a huge impression on me. I was friends with Gino’s brother, Mark. I knew that Gino was investing in real estate and he was getting started in his career.

Be around positive, uplifting people. Click To Tweet

I was fortunate to have mentors like the doctor that I mentioned and Gino mentoring me early in my career. I think that that mentorship piece changed my life because I went from a floundering sales rep to someone that’s in control of a large multifamily portfolio now. It has set me free to be on this interview with you two fine folks. Otherwise, I’d be out there lugging a suitcase around filled with samples and sweat my butt off, you’re having a heatwave, or if I would even still have a job. It’s that autonomy and freedom that real estate has provided for me and my family that’s been such a huge and meaningful part of my life.

Jake, you said some things that are important for the ladies that I want to highlight. First of all, both of you, one of the first things that you mentioned was how you networked and how you found each other. You knew each other through Jake’s brother. Networking is such a big deal. People think that real estate is all about the numbers. Certainly, the numbers are important, but the businesses made relationships. That’s how you came together. That’s what built your businesses so that you could find freedom. You had now a relationship that allowed it to happen, enabled it to happen. Such a great thing to talk about networking. It’s important.

The other piece that I loved, Jake, that you talked about was the doctor. Many of us think that we go to college or not, we get a job and that job is going to provide security. That’s what we’ve been taught. That’s what we believe. We think that’s the easier route to wealth or to building a life and having the lifestyle that we want. The truth is jobs put us at the mercy of someone else’s ability to run a company, their cashflow, whatever the government regulations are. It puts us at the mercy of many things and takes control out of our own life. Even if you love your job, it’s important to have a backup that gives you stability like this doctor. He didn’t have to work anymore. He did it because it was his passion. He wanted to help people. He got to do it on his own terms with his own clinic.

He also volunteered all over the place. You want to talk about someone kicking down doors and making it happen. He was not only giving back more than any of the other physicians in the area, he was able to be in control of his life and provide for his family better than everyone else as well. That made a big impression on me.

Whether you want to be in real estate full-time or not, understand that it can either support the other passion in your life, in this case, it was a doctor or it could be the passion in your life. For me, I retired a long time ago. I did it all on real estate and I continue to want to work doing this because this is my passion. You are doing a similar thing. You’ve got your portfolio and you’ve got your podcast, you’re doing your education. You’re able to pursue your own passion and also support your families, not working in a restaurant, without lugging samples. What an amazing opportunity.

Let me elaborate on that a little bit because you talked about passion and the craziest thing about passion is we always hear this Steve Jobs quote that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. I think Gary Vee is great. We hear a lot about it. He’s like, “If you love Pokémon cards, go sell them and make $1 million doing that.” I tried that coming out of college. I played sports in college. I thought I was going to open up a gym. I started off being a personal trainer. Everything that I tried to do around sports or fitness, I ultimately ended up hating because I liked doing it on my own terms. I like to do it for fun, but I don’t like sitting there trying to personally train somebody that has no ambition and doesn’t want to do what I tell them to do. I want to be around positive, uplifting people. When I was sitting there, having people do different things and they’re whining and complaining.

I stopped wanting to go to the gym and that was depressing. It was having this downward spiral effect on me. That’s when I realized for me personally, it’s about the vehicle. That’s why I believe in multifamily investing because of the demographic shifts. If you’re investing in an area that’s growing with population growth and job growth, it is such a beautiful vehicle to grow wealth and live life on your own terms, pursue personal and legacy wealth. That’s why I love multifamily because it’s the vehicle. It’s not necessarily passion. For me, if I get good at something, I put a lot of hours into it. I’m a high performer and I’m in the right vehicle. That’s when things get exciting because now, I can sit here and have this podcast on my own terms.

I have many passions in my life. I used to be a professional dancer. I danced all around the world. When I was young, I dated many dancers. Many of them are in the San Francisco Ballet. I knew somebody on Broadway. The interesting thing about them is they told me, “Moneeka, don’t ever become a professional dancer. It will take away your love for dance.” Even though I became competitive, I traveled the world, I never joined a company. Same with travel. I love to travel. My husband and I have been to 60 countries together. I was told over and over again, “Don’t become a travel agent because then it becomes a business.”

REW 30 | Focusing On A Niche

Focusing On A Niche: If you’re investing in an area that’s growing with population growth and job growth, it’s a beautiful vehicle to grow wealth, live life on your own terms, and pursue personal and legacy wealth.


You don’t necessarily want to turn your passion into your business, which is why it’s great. I’ve got my real estate business that pays the bills. I can pursue my passions as passions. The other thing Jake is that when you start doing something and you get good at it, you can’t help but be passionate about it. It becomes one of the passions. Real estate was not my passion when I started. As a matter of fact, I dug my heels in and did not want to do it. Once I got into it, I love it. It’s the funnest thing that I do. This passion conversation is such an interesting circular one. Thank you, Jake, for bringing that up because we’ve never had that conversation on this show. Talk to me about multifamily. Why do you think people should invest in multifamily? I always tell people there are one million ways to make $1 million in real estate. Talk to me about multifamily.

There are four top reasons why to invest in multifamily. The first one is cashflow. You want to get paid every month. You want to look at it as a dividend. You don’t want to want to speculate and buy low, sell high. You want to buy cashflow and continue to own and operate the assets. The second one is appreciation. We can force the appreciation of multifamily. We don’t have to worry about what the building down the street is worth. If we’re taking care of our operations on our property, we can force that appreciation. The third one is the amazing tax benefits. I want everyone on here to google the word cost segregation. The tax benefits are amazing with multifamily. The fourth one, which I think is important especially during COVID, there’s a type of cycle resiliency. It’s multifamily.

Basically, you look at it, people need a place to live. It’s food, clothing and apartments. Those are the three basic human needs we have. As you look at demographics, half of the country is either Millennial or Baby Boomer. Those two demographics are basically wanting to rent. There’s going to be a demand for apartments, for our space. It’s important that you look at that as a component going forward. If it’s a basic human need, people have a demand for it. The only other thing you need to know is being in a market where it’s growing, where there are jobs and there’s a demand for your product. I think in a nutshell, those four basic reasons excite us not only for the near term but for the long-term benefits of multifamily.

I’m not sure if Gino mentioned the scalability of it as well. This is not to hate on single-family homes, but the beautiful thing about 100-unit apartments in one location versus 100 single-family homes spread out over town is that you can hire folks, keep them in one area, get efficient with your maintenance component of it. We believe that buy it right, manage right and finance right. That is our framework for multifamily investing. We think it’s a three-legged stool. You have to buy it right. You have to manage it right. You have to get the right debt in place when it comes to financing. A classic example is you have 100 homes spread out all over town. It’s going to be challenging to have a competent maintenance tech go in and understand the nuances of each home that was built differently and all the components are in different places.

Whereas if you have 100 units in one location, not only is his time much more efficiently used, he or she is going to know how to go in each unit. We have lady maintenance techs on our team as well. We want to make sure we’re giving a shout out. Katie, in particular, is a maintenance lead on our team. It’s going to be much easier to go in and understand where’s the hot water heater? Where’s the breaker? Because they are all the same and it’s duplicatable. That’s one of the biggest pieces of it because it’s much more scalable and you can run a more efficient business.

I ask you this because it’s relevant to COVID. There are a lot of people with a couple of things going on with multifamily. I live in a condo complex. I would consider, even though I own my condo, I feel like we’re in a multifamily environment. There are people going down elevators, there’s the elderly that don’t want to be around anybody else. There’s this issue of space. We don’t have any place to go sit outside except on our balconies. There are a lot of restrictions around what we can do during this time. I’m pro-multifamily and I love condo complexes. I wonder, do you see things might adjust in the future? If so, how?

It depends on where you live. I think the East and the West Coast have been hammered terribly. We’re in Tennessee. We aren’t seeing it as much in Tennessee. I think there are certain things we can do with multifamily, with virtual leasing. When COVID hit, we were an essential business, but we couldn’t have people coming into the office. We adopted virtual leasing the next day. I think as far as spaces, as far as design, that’s going to happen, it depends long-term what market you’re in. We’re having problems, challenges. Kids are going back to school. We’re trying to figure that out. We’re trying some type of social distancing. I am hoping that this goes away and we get back to some normalcy. I was watching a baseball game. I haven’t watched baseball since it started and it was the most painful experience. There’s not one person in the crowd. It’s dead. I can’t see a viable solution for businesses going forward. I know we’re all going to be going remote.

I think maybe there’s going to be some type of workspace and multifamily where a lot of these operators are going to be building. Maybe they’re going to have some type of workspace remote for the amenity packages coming through. Even pools, are people going to want to go swimming pools? It depends. I think the senior housing is going to be a little bit different that there has to be some type of design space there. For us, Jake, we haven’t had that much pushback from residents.

I want to expand on this. I have much to say because you see right now there are 13,000 vacant units in New York City. The key to this is following the demographic trends and shifts. There’s a great book out there called Big Shifts Ahead that talks about what’s going on. You see places like California being siphoned off into Austin. You see places like New York going to Florida. You want to be in places where there are population and job growth. That’s the name of the game. If you want multifamily simplified, population and jobs. When you see those things growing, that’s where you want to invest. Could you invest in multifamily and do poorly? Yes, but it’s either because you didn’t buy it correctly, you didn’t manage it correctly, you didn’t finance it correctly or you’re in an area that’s declining.

Equity is what makes you rich. Click To Tweet

When you’re looking at it, you’ve got to make sure that you’re in a market that’s growing, there are jobs going to and it makes sense. What we’ve seen is it’s not that multifamily is not hot. We’re in Tennessee and we’re Kentucky. We’ve seen a tremendous amount of new applications coming from people that have been from out of state. You’re seeing it even more so. We’ve seen it for a while now, but we’re seeing a lot of people that are trying to get away from the cities. It’s not that people only want to own homes or something like that. Here’s the thing, Millennials love to rent. Older people, your Baby Boomers are getting into renting big time. You also see a shift where, as a society, we’re becoming more tech-driven.

We want our phones, we want a smart TV, and I’m going to say this, I don’t have data to back this up, but I know as a society we’re becoming less handy. We’re not able to fix things as much. We want things handled for us. We want to be able to pick up and move the next day. Multifamily is not going anywhere. You better hope that you’re on the other end of a city that’s growing. That’s the biggest thing when it comes to multifamily investing. We bought existing and we’ve renovated. That’s been our play. We’re going to start building. I think that workspace next to the community center where folks can go in and have an additional work office complex will help. That’s going to be one of the things that we’re looking at as well. We have fitness centers in our communities and they’re open and people appreciate that. I don’t think multifamily is going anywhere. I think that you have to be in an area that there’s demand.

In my market, I see what I see. You are out there. You’re the eyes on the different markets. That was helpful. Thank you for that. Let’s talk about funding. Where do you find private money? Is that how you do it? What is your strategy?

Gino and I, we’re a story of bootstrapping in action. When we first started out, our first deal was Gino, me and his brother and we got a part-owner finance deal. It was a 25-unit apartment complex. It was the three of us. We had to raise 10% of the down payment. We did that internally. Early on, I was blowing up my 401(k), Roth IRA. I took out a mortgage on my house, borrowed $10,000 from my grandparents. We implemented a strategy that we call a refined role. We look for undervalued mom-and-pop apartments. We’ll talk about that later and what that means. They’re opportunities to basically get in and renovate the units, get them up to market rents and then refinance your cash out, sometimes even more than that, and then roll that into your next deal. For the first 1,000 apartments we bought, we utilized with that strategy. Since then, we’ve documented our journey.

Our first book, Wheelbarrow Profits, documented the buy right, manage right and finance right framework. We launched the podcast and so we had started getting a big following. Family members, friends were asking to invest. Finally after 1,000 units, we started opening up deals to investors and it was because there was a demand. We didn’t intend to build a business around investors. We’ve never used hard money. Maybe that $10,000 loan from my grandparents early on could be considered hard money, but not in the traditional sense. We have a large list of investors now, over 1,000 investors. They’ve raised their hand to invest with us and we’ve made relationships with those folks, but we’re buying a deal. We have a 50-unit deal.

We’re paying cash because of the numbers. There wasn’t even an opportunity to get outside investors into it because it wasn’t big enough. It depends on the size of the deal now and what makes the most sense. Sometimes we take on investors for our deals. Sometimes we buy them outright. That’s the beautiful thing about multifamily is that you have multiple tools in your belt in order to take deals down. We might use Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac debt. We might use a community bank. We might do syndication. It all depends on applying the right tool to the job.

There’s not much that I can add there other than you’re looking at a deal and you look at a deal holistically. How does that deal work? You’re not looking at a deal to do an owner finance deal. You look at the deal and see what strategy works. Some of those deals where we syndicated, we probably should have bought them ourselves internally, but we wanted to test the market. We learned by doing. We did our first syndication and it comes out to say we’re able to raise over $2 million in 48 hours. That was a great experience. There are a couple of myths out in real estate. The first thing is this is a woman’s show. When we first started, there were not many women in the multifamily space. At our first event, we had about 80% males, 20% females. Our Multifamily Mastery III, which was in October 2019, it was probably 60/40. As attendees, I think one of the limiting beliefs is that when a woman goes and gets into the space, you’re going to say, “This is a male-dominated space.” It isn’t. If you go on and you look at the podcast and you look at all the women out there, there are a lot of women in the space. Our staff, a lot of women in property management.

Our management team is dominated by females. That’s the thing. The great thing is that our employees invest in our deals, there have been a lot of people that started within the company and then are now investors because we allow our employees to invest dollar for dollar and turn into our deals.

REW 30 | Focusing On A Niche

Big Shifts Ahead: Demographic Clarity For Business

I think the important thing is the objection that people have when they get the multifamilies. They say they need money. You don’t need money. What you need is an education. You need to know what tools do you use? The owner financing, we will want to finance the 281-unit deals and $11 million deal. We brought no money to the table. We owner financed 20% of the down payment. That wasn’t our first deal. It was our fifth deal. We went through a couple of deals already, but people that stopped at multifamily because they’re like, “It’s commercial financing. It’s five units or more.” They get overwhelmed. Don’t get overwhelmed.

Understand what’s a cap rate? What’s an REO? There are things that they don’t know.

If you can buy a single-family home, you can learn how to buy a duplex. You can learn how to buy a five-plex. All of a sudden, the five-plex turns into a ten-plex. I think the dopamine effect of wanting to get it done now is part of the problem. I don’t even think we stress this on the show and we should. Everything in life that’s worth getting is the long game. Multifamily is long spreading. My father was a farmer in Italy. You plant a seed, you water that seed, you grow it. Five months later, you get some yield from it. It’s the same thing in multifamily. In any business, you’re putting work on the frontend, taking that risk. That’s where this country is great. You’re an entrepreneur. You’re taking the risk. We use the word, leverage. You’re leveraging other people’s time, other people’s experiences. You’re taking the risk on the frontend hoping that six months later or a year later, you’re able to refinance money out or to sell the property to do whatever.

That’s where I think people have to focus on with multifamily. Single-family homes, it’s more transactional. Transactions are great, Jake. I like to say, “They pay the bills.” Equity is what makes you rich. I think multifamily, over time, it may take you eighteen months to get that deal paid back to you or whatever that may be. After that, you have cashflow. I think that’s where people have to focus on. Don’t worry so much about where the down payment’s going to come. If you have a great deal, you’re going to be looking for people to invest in that deal. You’re going to be able to find people to invest with whether it’s a partner, whether it’s a capital raise or whatever that may be. Focus on looking for those deals.

I want to piggyback off that for a second because landscaping is my therapy. This spring and fall alone, I probably put 2,500 plants in the ground at my house. I’m hardcore into it. You notice with perennials, for folks out there, perennials are the ones that come back year after year. You see after about years 2 and 3, your perennials start to take hold. They start to flourish and grow. Gino was mentioning the farmer. Multifamilies are similar because you can buy deals in cashflow from day one. When you start to hone in on your operations after years 1, 2, or 3, that’s usually the time when you’re able to refinance the money out because the things humming along and it’s doing well. There is that 2 to 3-year horizon. For some people, they can’t see that far.

They get stuck in now and multifamily is a long game and it’s about stacking assets and cashflow and building that up over time. I think that’s the thing why when people get into it, it’s this pie in the sky and then it might be in it for six months. When they’re in it, they’re shopping for deals and they don’t get anything and they quit. That’s the thing. The best thing that Gino and I have ever done, we hung in there. We didn’t quit. It took us eighteen months to get that first deal. That’s what I think paid off more than anything.

I was on Entrepreneurs on Fire. One of the questions asked was what’s the key to being successful in real estate? For me, it was persistence. You have to hang in there. I tell people all the time on this show, “Give yourself the time to be right because there are cycles, you’re learning a business. There’s a learning curve. Things go wrong. You need to have that long-term mentality. You could make a quick buck maybe. That would be awesome. More likely at some point, you’ll get crushed because you didn’t give yourself the time.” The people that got crushed in 2008 were the people that didn’t give them the self the time to be right so they could carry those properties and they over-leveraged. The big thing was they had to get out they had given themselves a time to be right. Thank you for bringing that up. That was well said. I love the garden analogy too.

It keeps me sane after all these shows.

I have to say the gardens these days are gorgeous during COVID. Everybody is out there gardening. Get your hands in the ground. It’s helped. It literally helps to ground people. Tell me about your book, The Honeybee.

Multifamily is a long game, and it's about stacking assets and cashflow. Click To Tweet

It’s written about a pharmaceutical rep who I would say has less than mediocre life. He’s not happy. He’s doing a job. He’s a sales guy. He’s driving along one day and he gets a flat tire and he gets picked up by this older gentleman in a bee suit. He thinks he’s an alien. He gets in this older gentleman’s car and his car is beat up and he drives to this gentleman’s house. His name is Tom, the beekeeper. He pulls into this palatial estate called Tributary Acres. He’s like, “What does this guy do for a living?” Tom is an older gentleman, he’s retired and Noah gets to meet him. It’s all about know getting introduced to something and trying to build multiple streams of revenue and trying to get out of the rat race.

Noah goes back to Tom several times about his journey of how to start. Noah basically starts with an Airbnb in his basement. He starts that first deal, takes action. From there, how do you start scaling up and adding assets? From there, how do you do something? It’s not how, it’s who can help you out. You learn all these great lessons from Tom. I think the metaphor in the book is great because if you’re a beekeeper, who makes the money? It’s the beekeeper. The bee is trained to go and make honey. The bee doesn’t ask. The bee works hard and it’s a metaphor for the worker. We don’t think of that. It’s funny because Tom is the one who is taking all the risk. He’s the one who’s getting paid last.

The bee is doing his work, just like Noah and like Jake & Gino. If you get that metaphor, I think some people will have that epiphany moment of saying, “I am that bee. I’m doing my work day in, day out. I’m a traffic fighter. I’m not thinking about what the next day will provide, how I’m growing my life. I’m getting out of my comfort zone. I’m doing the same thing day in and day out.” For us, it’s not about creating those streams of revenue. It’s what do you do with those streams of revenue? At the end of the story, it shows a great way to end the story and is not about making money, but also making money matter.

I think the constant feedback we get is that people get a little bit emotional at times because they see themselves at different points in their journey. The cool feedback that we get is that people tell us that, “I’m Noah at deal number three or I’m Noah at this place in the book.” For anybody out there, feel free to reach out to us and or leave a review on Amazon if read it and tell us where you’re at because I think we’ve been there. This is not something we made up. This is from experience. We love hearing from folks.

I love it, Jake, because it’s true. We all have different inflection points from that epiphany a-ha moment to it’s time to take education to it’s time to take action, buy my first deal to it’s all right, I’ve got a deal. Let me buy another deal to I’ve got 4 or 5 deals. How do I start juggling life to the next epiphany or the a-ha or the inflection?

I got this shiny object. I invested over here and shouldn’t have.

That was a big lesson because Noah goes out and reinvests in a restaurant and a restaurant is not his complementary stream. If he invested in the real estate and the restaurant, great but he invested in a business that he doesn’t know. If you’re in real estate and complementary business would be the education aspect, the syndication aspect, the property management aspect of it. Those are all complimentary streams of revenue in multifamily. Those lessons are great. Looking at all those inflection points and seeing where you are and seeing how. Think about it, having an open mind and saying with the end in mind, we’re such linear creatures. We see something and it’s hard to grasp the future. You have five units. How do we get to 100? There’s no way for me to get it. If you think Noah’s path and you keep asking yourself the right questions, it’s not, “Can I?” It’s, “How can I?” It’s not, “How do I do this?” It’s, “Who can help me do this?” All these questions that we need to ask ourselves because the better questions we ask, the better answers we’re going to get.

We’re almost out of time. We need to move on to Extra. We’ve got two other questions we wanted to cover. One was going to be how to build a business, not a job, which I’m excited about. We are going to cover that in Extra. We’re also going to talk about mom-and-pop apartments. Jake, could you give us a little bit of a rundown on what that’s going to look like in Extra?

REW 30 | Focusing On A Niche

Wheelbarrow Profits: How To Create Passive Income, Build Wealth, And Take Control Of Your Destiny Through Multifamily Real Estate Investing

Here’s the thing. These are hyper-focused lists, if you will. There’s a specific way to find these deals. I think that over time through doing and then refining our processes, we’ve figured out how to hone in and target and who’s going to be the mom and pop that you can go in and do that refined role strategy with. I think it’ll be great to cover that after.

You do mostly mom-and-pops, right?

Absolutely. From the beginning, our bread and butter, even to this day, that’s what we target because we want an underperforming business that we can go in and fix the management piece. It’s the people in multifamily who solve problems that make the most money. It’s not going in and hunky-dory, we’re going to buy it off the shelf retail and it’s going to be great. It’s identifying those mom-and-pops and then solving the problems. That’s when folks get paid in this business.

Can you tell everybody how they can reach you?

It simple. This is such a good segue into the book as well because you can go to JakeAndGino.com/honeybee. There you’ll receive a free download of our Credibility Book. That’s something we used early on in our career to show people this was our business plan. This is what we plan on doing with the property. It’s a great way to attract investors and tell brokers about yourself so that brokers in town know, “Jake & Gino like the mom-and-pop apartment.” Brokers need to know what to bring you. Credibility Book is a great way to get your name out there and let folks know what you’re about. You’ll also receive free Honeybee Resources. You can download our podcast and apply to work with our teams. You can go to JakeAndGino.com/honeybee.

Thank you. Are you ready for our three rapid-fire questions? Here we go. Give us one super tip on how to get started investing in real estate.

I would say no shiny object syndrome. Pick one niche and own it. If you want single-family homes, there’s nothing wrong with them. Own them. If you want self-storage, own it. If you want mobile home parks, own it. Office, retail, commercial, multifamily, own that asset and learn everything there is to it.

Simply put on my end, I call this our success formula. I believe that education times action will equal your result. That is the success equation to get you in the game to get that first deal done. I believe everyone needs to get educated and then they have to take action. The education piece is crucial. Fortunately for myself, I had a great partner as a mentor and that shortened my learning curve. That’s what we’re all about with Jake & Gino.

Give us one strategy for being successful in real estate investing.

For me, the strategy would be to have an accountability partner. I don’t know if it’s a strategy. I’ll give you two. Planning your day and knowing what you want to achieve whether it’s a quarterly priority, a yearly goal, 3 or 5-year. I think you need that. The other thing is having that accountability partner. Sometimes you don’t want to analyze the deal. Sometimes you don’t want to send your underwriting over. Sometimes you don’t want to do the due diligence. Sometimes you don’t want to call a broker and I’m not doing it for myself. I’m doing it for Jake and his wife, Whitney and their two kids. I’m doing it for them. That accountability piece to me has been huge for the last few years.

I would say buy right. That’s the first leg of our strategy. Maybe it’s because we taught for an hour to our class. We do a Monday class every week for our students. When you buy right and you set clarity up for yourself and your team, you can take a lot of the stress off. What do I mean by that? Know what you’re willing to accept. This is the vintage that I’m looking for. This is the cap rate that I’m willing to accept. This is the cash on cash return that I’m willing to accept and then you go hunting. You put your parameters in place and then you don’t go thinking, “Will I do this? Will I not?”

Education times action will equal your result. Click To Tweet

You get a decision and thought fatigue. Set your parameters up on the frontend, “This is what I’m willing to accept. This is the market that I want, etc. I will not buy anything older than 1980.” When you do that, you can quickly funnel and identify opportunities and not get decision fatigue. It won’t take as long to underwrite because you have very clear parameters in place. I think it sets you at ease as well. It takes some of that stress in the beginning off of saying, “Is this a deal? Do I go for it? Do I not?” Let the spreadsheets and the parameters take over.

What is one daily practice that you would say contributes to your personal success?

For me, I’ve got six kids. My wife homeschools our kids and wake up in the morning and kiss them every morning. I kiss them goodnight to bed every night. I know why I’m doing what I’m doing. I’m doing it for them. I would love to show more gratitude. It’s that sometimes I slip through the day. We’re living in the most amazing country in the world. I wish I would show more gratitude. I think we should all show more gratitude, but having my family and having my partner, I know what I’m doing, why I’m doing it. I have clarity. For me, that daily affirmation of my family being there and being a role model to them and being a role model to my wife and sticking it to my wife saying, “Look who I helped.” That makes me feel good. That’s a dopamine hit for me. That keeps me going.

I’m regimented and structured. I’ve been using this. Everyone laughs at me. This is what I call my coach a sheet. Since my pharmaceutical days, I had a piece of cardstock sitting with me and I had the yellow brick road. I went to this doctor’s office. I’ve continued on. My morning is structured. I have my goals on here. I write them down every day and I know exactly where I’m going. This is on the sheet for the day and I don’t miss that. If I miss it, it can go on the next day or I can go on to the back and then it gets rolled over into the next week. It’s time blocking and nailing it every week. I will not miss that. It’s probably been one of the biggest contributing factors to my success. It’s extremely detailed and planned out for the day. It goes back to not having to think. I want to make big decisions on visionary stuff that is going to affect the company. I don’t want to have to go, “Where am I going next? What I got to think about this color jeans and this?” Get as structured and oriented as you can. That way, you can spend that mind energy on the important stuff.

Thank you. This portion of the show has been amazing. Thanks for all your sharing.

Thanks, Moneeka.

Ladies, stay for Extra. We got more coming. There’s how to build a business, not a job, how to implement Jake & Gino’s mom-and-pop strategy. Stay tuned for Extra if you are subscribed. If you’re not subscribed but would like to be, go to RealEstateInvestingForWomenExtra.com. You get the first seven days for free. You can get access to this particular Extra and a bunch of others. Check it out. If you love it, you stay registered. If you don’t, no problem. You don’t have to stay registered. For those of you that are leaving us now, thank you for joining us. I look forward to seeing you next time. Until then, remember, goals without action are dreams. Get out there, take action and create the life your heart deeply desires. I’ll see you soon.


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About Jake & Gino

REW 30 | Focusing On A NicheWhat started out as a conversation between friends has exploded into a thriving real estate investment business that continues to grow in size and profitability.

Jake and Gino are both experts in multifamily real estate investing and have achieved, in just a few years, the sort of financial freedom they always wanted but weren’t sure was possible.

And while a certain amount of timing, coincidence, and luck brought them together, this website will be your partner, bringing that same luck, and years of experience, right to you every step of the way. 

Well… if a pizza guy and drug rep can do it, we know you can too! Unlike many Investing Consultants and so-called Business Coaches, Jake and Gino have done the work with the assets to back their success strategies while consistently reaching their goals. They are passionate about sharing their journey with you.


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