Rental Property Café™- Episode 1 - How We Got Started In Real EstateReal Estate Coaching
BY CYNTHIA MEYER CFA®, CFP®, CHFC®
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Welcome to our very first episode of the Real Life Planning Podcast!
I founded Real Life Planning to help other working professionals who are starting or building a real estate business on the side. As a first-generation rental property business owner and a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, this podcast combines my passion for financial planning, real estate, and coaching to mentor the next generation of real estate investors.
On the podcast, I’ll explore ideas for creating multiple sources of income – including real estate – and invite guests to tell their unique success stories. I'll also focus on a variety of financial planning topics and how they impact real estate investors.
The Rental Property Café™
I've invited my friend Veronica Woods to join me in an ongoing conversation about building a real estate toolkit called The Rental Property Café™. Veronica comes from a family of real estate investors so she brings a unique perspective. As a real estate matchmaker, consultant, and investor, she’s passionate about helping people create wealth, build a legacy, and design a dream lifestyle through real estate.
Whenever you do something for the first time, it's not perfect. But just like real estate, I figure that with podcasting there is an element of “learning by doing.” I hope you enjoy this first episode – and that you'll send your ideas and suggestions to email@example.com.
What you'll get from this video podcast:
Transcript – Rental Property Café™ – Episode 1 – Meet Veronica & Cynthia
Cynthia Meyer: I'm Cynthia Meyer -- and I'm Veronica Woods -- and welcome to the Rental Property Café™.
We want to invite you to join us for a conversation about all the things that you really need to know to start and grow your real estate portfolio.
[00:00:17] Why is Real Life Planning launching a podcast?
In launching this podcast. I really wanted to help other first-generation real estate investors like me who have built a real estate business on the side while doing something else. I really wanted to pass that on and share some things I've learned in this journey. And I was so excited that Veronica who comes from a different perspective wanted to join me.
[00:00:42] Why Veronica Woods was interested in collaborating to create The Rental Property Café™
Veronica, what brought you to the table here?
Veronica Woods: Cynthia, as you know, I do come from a real estate investing family, as a real estate advisor with my dad's company. So I've been around it all my life, but it's really is an interesting opportunity to speak one-on-one or partner with a [00:01:00] financial advisor, because I find that a lot of my clients who are working professionals don't have the support to look holistically at their investment opportunities.
It's always stocks and bonds on one hand and stay away from that real estate. And I think, you know, we can really provide a forum for people to get more information about, you know, like I said, more holistically about their investments to prepare for retirement.
Cynthia Meyer: I think that's a great point Veronica and you know, many people when they're thinking about buying properties directly, they don't know what they don't know.
Veronica Woods: Right.
Cynthia Meyer: Owning direct properties is an investment that requires ongoing work. So it's an investment, but it's also got components of a business, even if you don't do it full time. Tell me a little bit about what's your story and what should we know about you?
[00:01:51] How Veronica got started in real estate
Veronica Woods: Well, as I mentioned, I come from a real estate family. My first job ever was really in my dad's real estate office at 15, and I helped him process rental property checks and expenses. Of course, I thought it was totally boring. So I went off to college, majored in economics , then when off the Wall Street, went back to school, got my MBA in finance from Wharton.
And it really was set off to do more of a corporate trail, but always invest in real estate on the side, because that's just something I grew passionate about from an early age.
Cynthia Meyer: You always intended to incorporate real estate into your financial life.
Veronica Woods: Exactly. So I can relate to probably some of our listeners who have a full-time job, have an interest in real estate, and who want to do it right. And it kind of, if you have, your full like corporate hat on, but just not having the right team around you.
[00:02:52] How Cynthia got started in real estate
Cynthia Meyer: That's interesting! Well, so my story as I said --- I'm first-generation real estate investor. You know, my parents did not own investment real estate and my husband's parents did not own investment real estate.
And we came into this during the last recession. We were living in Bermuda at the time and we were renting a house. We had sold our house in California before we moved there. And we were about to come back to the United States and we thought, "you know, this is a really great time to buy real estate."
We'd been very diligent savers, and we had prepared for a while trying to really build a strong financial foundation before we got started. And so we took our time, and we used some mighty math powers to make some decisions about building a rental property portfolio. But over time, you know, as a financial planner, I realized that a lot of people have questions that they want to ask their financial planner and their financial planner might not necessarily know how to answer them because they're not a real estate investor themselves.
Veronica Woods: I think that makes a big difference in your team and I know we're going to explore a lot of topics about team and invite people who should be members of your team on future episodes.
But I think that the professionals that you have around you, if they also invest in real estate, it definitely makes a difference.
Cynthia Meyer: That makes a lot of sense. Veronica. So working with somebody like you, who is both a property manager and an investor and a Realtor® can be super helpful and also building a team which we're going to talk about with different folks in the podcast about all the professionals that you need to help you do different parts of your real estate business, anywhere from buying to maintaining, to renovating the property.
[00:04:45] Lessons from Veronica’s first property
So, tell me a little bit about your first real estate investment.
Veronica Woods: So my first real estate investment, I don't think I was as thoughtful in the planning as you were. But I was kind of anxious to get started and while I was working a corporate job in Northern New Jersey, basically a deal fell in my lap from my hometown to buy a triplex that needed..., it was vacant, it needed, not gut renovation, but enough renovation. So some work before renting it out. And since I was 90 minutes away, you know, I had kind of a friend of the family contractor and I kind of trusted him, like, "Hey, just go at it, you know, fix it up. I'll be ready to collect that check when it's ready."
But of course it didn't happen that way. And the project was stalled and, you know, sitting, you know, almost a hundred miles away, I was getting nervous and then I kind of got bailed out because somebody else wanted the property before ... made the offer to buy the property before I could finish doing the renovation.
So it was kind of a makeshift flip, wasn't intended to be...
Cynthia Meyer: Did you have any renters in it at the time?
Veronica Woods: No, I didn't even finish the construction. I did minimal work pretty much, got my money out and went on about my life. So it's funny now, and that was probably about 10. 10 plus years? No, actually when I say 20 years ago, I can't believe it's 2021!
But now since I moved back to the area to join my dad's business, I drive by that place, like once a week practically and the people who bought it, they did a good job. It still looks pretty nice. And I'm thinking that could have been my first rental property. I can't believe basically just because I didn't have the right team and was a little bit naive about the work it took to just start collecting rental checks. And, you know, I don't have that in my portfolio today. Yeah.
[00:06:49] Vet the team
Cynthia Meyer: And so has that informed your decision --your decisions-- and how you work with clients today, how you help prepare and coach them to become new rental property investors?
Veronica Woods: It does because, you know, learn from that mistake of not vetting the team because the team is really important and as well as you know, even if you're not lifting the hammer --I guess, especially speaking to women, you may think, Oh, I know nothing about construction or even some men, you know, it's kind of like a fallacy that every man knows about construction, but if you, your whole life was a white collar job, you may not and your Dad didn't teach you that you may not be as familiar either. But I think it was important for me. It's something I, as an ongoing learning process, as I learn more and more about what my contractors are doing, what needs to be done. So I'm a part of that decision-making process, even if I'm not necessarily on the ground.
So I always make sure is one of the first questions I asked my new investor clients who get excited about looking at houses. I'm like, "do you have a contractor?" Okay. So. You may not want to take on the big, you know, $60,000 rehab. If you don't have a good team, like that's a recipe for disaster. So I talked to them about those risks.
Cynthia Meyer: Where you know, contractors are really busy. Right. And all the work that did couldn't get done, you know, during the height of the pandemic. So sometimes it's hard to book somebody.
Veronica Woods: Yeah. But you have, you can't rush to book someone and not interview them about their experience, how they manage, figuring out how they work...,insurance.
Cynthia Meyer: Yeah.
Veronica Woods: I mean, that varies from state to state as far as the requirements of what you can have an uninsured person do versus a licensed contractor versus just the handyman...but it's important to understand those dimensions as you're hiring people to do work.
Cynthia Meyer: So going back to that original property that launched you as a real estate investor, and now as somebody who works full time with real estate investors tell us more about what you're working on now and how you work with folks.
Veronica Woods: So today Daniel Woods Real Estate Company has continued to be a boutique firm, specializing in working with investors. So we help people buy, sell, and manage investment properties in the Philadelphia area and primarily residential. But we also help with small multi-families, vacant land, small commercials, storefronts, like a mixed use. You know what I mean? Like a commercial space on the first floor and then rentals above kind of do that, you know, everyday part of my business. So, you know, I'm working with people who just started making their first investment and that's exciting. Cause you know, they're very excited about the prospect of getting to that second and third and fourth properties.
And I also work with people who are kind of at the tail end of their real estate investing career. Thinking about how do I kind of preserve the wealth that they've built, but at the same time, have maybe different support in managing the properties... and then maybe thinking about how they unwind.
[00:10:16] What are you most proud of?
Cynthia Meyer: So, when you think about your professional life in real estate? Like, what are you most proud of?
Veronica Woods: Well, I'm definitely most proud of just kind of taking the torch from my Dad who started the business in '87. So it's amazing to be part of a business that has been around so long.
And, you know, I was just telling someone -- a prospect -- yesterday that Dad sold the house to somebody in like '94. And then I helped the guy sell the property in 2020. So it was like a full circle moment, you know, between father and daughter. So I love those moments.
It's kind of cool to work and learn from him at this point in my life. But I do think, you know, most people into real estate or intergenerational wealth and, you know, businesses, another type of generational wealth to pass on. So that's really what I'm most proud of.
Cynthia Meyer: That's a big accomplishment and it's been really interesting to work together with you.
Veronica and I are in a business coaching circle together and have done some content together. I've really learned a lot from you, you know, especially as somebody who who just started in the last recession.
[00:11:42] Cynthia’s successes – and the baby wipes fiasco
So, we have had some great successes. We have mostly single family homes and small multi-families and then, we've had some things that have thumped us on the head.
We had the tenant that put the baby wipes down the toilet and blew up the plumbing. (laughter) It cost $45,000. As well as, you know, getting rental returns sometimes, you know, of, like 1.4, 1.5% per month. So like having really good things and having things that haven't worked out so well.
[00:12:02] Veronica’s financial mentors
I'm curious, was your Dad your financial mentor? Did you have another financial mentor?
Veronica Woods: Yeah, I knew you were going to ask me that question. It's interesting. I think both my parents were the type of people who, definitely focused on saving and, you know, having a personal budget and living within their means.
So I kinda grew up with that mentality of you spend money on things that are going to give you return on investment-- be it education or investing back in our home and stuff like that. So I think I would be remiss to say that didn't have a profound effect on who I am.
But I think as an entrepreneur, one of the I guess mentors from afar – this book by T. Harv Eker. I don't know if you're familiar with him. He wrote this book called Secrets of the Millionaire Mind.
Cynthia Meyer: I have heard the title, but I have not read the book.
Veronica Woods: So it's a classic. So if you're watching – Google it. The Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, The audio book is great, too.
I remember something they taught about like , whatever your job is, part of your job is managing your finances and you can't just outsource that.
We're talking about investing in real estate. Everybody's side hustle is kind of, you know, reviewing their personal portfolio. And I never really heard about it that quite that way, if you appreciate money, then you need to kind of treat it that way and devote part of your hours or your tasks or chores, so to speak, to managing your money.
So that in to get real with it, you know, cause there's a lot of people who might like don't open envelopes of statements because they're scared to look at it. And I think that mindset really helped me.
Cynthia Meyer: Or they feel like there's a hurricane or a tsunami of acronyms. Like what's a 401k, what's a 403b? You know what's the difference between property taxes and school taxes, you know it can be really overwhelming.
So I think you're right. I would say that's probably the number one piece of guidance that I would give folks regardless of how they're investing is, "Nobody cares more about your money than you do." Right? So you have to be the person that cares the most about it. No matter who's on your team.
Veronica Woods: Exactly.
[00:14:33] No one cares more about your money than you do
Cynthia Meyer: So what's the best piece of advice that you have ever received?
Veronica Woods: Related to real estate? I would say, take action. Cause you can read a bunch of books and you can go to seminars, but if you're not in the game, you're not learning. There's so much, I think that I've been able to learn as an investor for my own properties, as well as going through the tough lessons of my clients. That makes me [00:15:00] so much more wise beyond my years, just because I'm going through these transactions with them. And I'm seeing, you know, sometimes, I mean, I haven't been perfect for sure, but I think you don't learn unless you're kind of in the game. And I think a lot of times people are so afraid to get started and that you got to start somewhere. And then you learn so much for that next investment.
Cynthia Meyer: I agree with that, Veronica. I think even more than securities investing, right. Doing your mutual funds or stocks or bonds in your retirement accounts, for example, being a direct property investor really is a learn-by-doing experience.
You can certainly look to turnkey properties, but even then, you know, there's going to be some element of, you know, just getting in there and getting it done.
Veronica Woods: So that's a good point. So when I'm saying, you know, I mean, like putting money on the table, you know, but that doesn't mean that you have to swing the hammer to learn about, you know, what needs to do with drywall, but you, you have to go through the process and, you know, I think that's also, you get a learning about how involved you want to be.
You know, sometimes people...
Cynthia Meyer: Are you hands on or hands off?
Veronica Woods: Exactly. And I think sometimes people aren't really sure and they're not, you know, it's kind of bantered around. I don't, I'm a landlord. Like I don't think sometimes people know what it takes. From a time perspective and also just from a mentality perspective or what it takes to be a great landlord.,
Cynthia Meyer: patience, patience, customer service
Right? Well, so it what's the best piece of advice then that you would give somebody who's just getting started as a real estate investor?
[00:16:49] Know your financial goals before you start
Veronica Woods: One of the first things I ask people are what are their financial goals? Because I think sometimes the newbies, they [00:17:00] hear one or two techniques and they, it sounds either glamorous or quick money and they think that that's what they should do.
Cynthia Meyer: I'll retire when I'm 35, and, you know, I won't have to go to work or have a business, you know, I'll just live off my doors. Right?
Veronica Woods: Yeah. Or I don't need any money. And not to say that there aren't techniques where you don't, you can leverage other people's money. And leverage is like one of the best parts of real estate. But you have to kind of figure out, well, do you have the time and the resources to be able to make that work?
Does that technique fit within your lifestyle? You know, especially like something like flipping properties, which, you know, if you can get a good flip is definitely a great strategy to implement. But it's kind of like a job. And I think sometimes people underestimate it.
Cynthia Meyer: And a vacation property too, is really you're creating a job for yourself right.
By doing you there, those two things.
Veronica Woods: Yeah. Well, I mean, the the flip in terms of the amount of time it could take and the amount of moving parts. I think sometimes people really underestimate it and there's a lot of people like me. I got bailed out kind of, you know, like I can't take it, you know, and then you're taking the loss because I wasn't properly prepared to do that job.
[00:18:39] Know your risks
Cynthia Meyer: So as you know, Veronica on my blog on the Real Life Planning blog, I've spent a lot of time, you know, talking through the financial principles that I think that make for a good foundation to grow a successful rental property portfolio over time, or real estate portfolio in general over time.
And one of those things is thinking about what your target leverage ratio is , understanding that the, that the risk is concentrated in your first property, right? So you should be well-prepared if possible, when you go to buy your first property and all those sorts of things, I we're going to talk, I think over the course of the podcast together and inviting other people to come and talk about their real estate experiences or their contribution to the real estate team.
We're going to explore a lot of these ideas, really dive deep on them. What would you say is is the big takeaway that you want folks to have from today? You know, our kickoff podcast?
The advantages of starting when you are still working
Veronica Woods: Well, one, I think we didn't get into the advantages of being a professional and getting started in real estate and worried about that you don't have the time, but you are in such a good position in terms of, from the financial resources perspective. Once you have a stable W2 income,
Cynthia Meyer: You can leverage it by saving to invest...
Veronica Woods: Well, I, the point I wanted to make is that the banks love you. Yeah. One regret you can ask me was that I didn't get really going as quickly as I should have when I had that corporate job, because I would have been so much further along then.
You know, a lot of the people, I know you have, some of your clients may be thinking about transitioning to maybe one or more partners, you know, doing something entrepreneurial and you're viewed differently, as a full-time entrepreneur versus someone who's worked for someone else. And so one get started get started and really be clear about your goals.
And then lastly, there are a lot of ways to invest in real estate. I know we're going to focus on rental properties. We may slip into talking about other strategies that work well as a part-time investor. But there's lots of different ways to get involved. And I think that's important to know as well.
[00:21:07] Why we will be telling own personal real estate stories on this podcast
Cynthia Meyer: Thank you so much for agreeing to come and talk to me today on the podcast. And I'm really looking forward to partnering with you and bringing other folks in to dive deep into how people who are listening can make real estate part of their overall financial goals.
Veronica Woods: Yeah, I'm looking forward to it as well as sharing with different guests,. You know, the listeners can learn more about our background over time and get to know us and our own personal investing experience.
Cause I think there's something different when you're talking about your own personal real stories. Like we're not making stuff up or talking like a textbook. We're talking about things that, you know, we've seen happen and, you know, we just want more people to be successful.
Cynthia Meyer Excellent. Well, on that note, cheers!
Veronica Woods: Have a great day!
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