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Gary Wilson: No Money Down Deals & Creativity In Real Estate

My guest is a real estate investing powerhouse. You should know at the age of 40, he retired from the corporate world, left it all behind because of the little portfolio that he had built that allowed him to do that.

He has gone on to develop five real estate holding companies owning more than 250 rental units across the country. He has also built five businesses primarily in the real estate space, brokerage, rental management, investment services, settlement services and appraisal services. A lot of services are going on now. Our guest is Gary Wilson.

Here's why you are going to love this show.

You are going to get introduced to strategies for getting into real estate creatively including no money down strategies.

You'll also discover, if you're doing rentals or want to do rental properties, the number one thing you must do and odds are if you're getting started, you aren't doing it. You're going to want to hear this strategy.

You're going to hear the question that you have to ask yourself. If you want to think creatively and put together deals, it by far will help change your mindset. Finally, you're going to learn about a creative financing strategy that allows you to write a check to a buyer, making it a cash deal for them which gives you the most leverage in negotiating power but to you, it is a leveraged deal.

It is a financing deal.

You're going to want to hear this strategy, no matter if you're into real estate business or regular business, any business. It's all about being creative in any business that you do. We've got a whole lot more to cover.

With that said, let's get to it.

Dustin
Fifty-six years ago in Eastern Bavaria, Germany in the worst blizzard on record over the past decade, a nurse had you wrapped in a blanket, tucked inside a cardboard box and your mother is holding on for dear life inside of a helicopter. In the first two hours of your life, how and why were you in this crazy situation?
Gary
It started moments before that. My mother was in the Army Medical Field Clinic in Grafenwoerh, Germany. Grafenwoerh is a liberal dot on the map and an hour from Nuremberg, which is the closest city. They called in a helicopter to take us to Nuremberg for me to be born. On the way out to the tarmac, she says, "I don't think he's going to make it." The doctor lifts up the sheet and says, "No, he's coming out right now." They shoved my mom's cart, the gurney into what she told me was a storage closet. I was born in a storage closet. As soon as I came out, the doctor dropped me and my mom's hysterical, "What happened?" The umbilical cord was wrapped around my neck and he didn't want my mom to see it. They got that untangled, he got me functioning and wrapped me in this army warm blanket and put me in a cardboard box. They couldn't use an ambulance because there were snowdrifts fifteen feet high and they took off. What was normally a fifteen-minute flight have taken two hours. She said the thing is going up and down and sideways and the nurses are hysterical. She was afraid to drop me.
My mom is strapped in wearing the nurse's coat. We get the Nuremberg and photographers are there from Stars and Stripes Magazine. They thought I was born in the air and I would've been the first airborne baby of the year, so they're taking pictures. First, the nurse walks out with me under the tarmac. I went into the hospital in this cardboard box and then they have two nurse's attendees take my mom on a stretcher and then the pilot walks out with placenta in his helmet. This was the craziest person. She tells a story to me every single year. She's 82 years old now. She said to this day that my entire life's been like that. She said I never made a peep and I stayed calm. The world could be going crazy and I stay cool as a cucumber. My whole life's been like that. 
Dustin
That is a crazy story especially coming into the world. You mentioned your life being like that. Do you feel like, in a weird way, chaos can be going on but you're that type of guy that's able to focus on what's important in that moment and get what he needs to get done?
Gary
Yes. Whenever people are starting to get hysterical, I go into this calm state. Even in college, all the guys used to say that I was cool as a cucumber. There was a time when nobody was paying their bills. People and they guys couldn't pay the rent. It was summertime. I stayed calm, got it all figured out. That's the way I have been and I love high adventure. I love skiing, surfing, whitewater rafting and anything you can think of. When I’m in crisis mode, for some reason, I had this knack or ability, whatever you want to call it, where I'd go into this zone. I cried that first two hours. When you're in shock, you take it for granted. I maybe thought this is what normal. I thought this is what normal is.
Dustin
I'm very curious to know what gets you off your rocker? In your past experience, what would cause you to lose your cool?
Gary
Anything that has to do relationship-wise. I went through divorce years ago and we were married for close to 25 years and I wasn't prepared for it. I was going through the process and it's a painful process. You never hear anybody say, "I had the best divorce." It's traumatic. That rattled my cage. In business, I had a situation happen to two businesses wherein one of them, the workers were trying to embezzle it from me. All these things were happening and that did rattle my cage because a lot in my classrooms were friends. It was disastrous. My main thing is I didn't want to let my friends down. I ended up building that thing out for pulling the proverbial rabbit out of my you-know-what. That was a real test of not wanting to give up and throw it out because part of me wanted to say, "Just declare a bankruptcy."
Those lawyers were saying that. In my heart I'm thinking, “I can't do that.” I don't know how I was going to make it work but I thought I'm going to wake up each day and do the best I can and do it moment by moment. I learned a lot. One of the cool things I learned from that one experience is anything in life that comes to you, whether it's a resource like money or relationships or business, when something goes sideways, traumatic, it's a real test. You find out who you are and it makes you a bigger version of what you are. It’s the same thing with money. Money doesn't make you happy. It makes you a bigger version of what you are. It buys you fun things and fun experiences but in and of itself, it doesn't have any intrinsic value to make you happy. You have to choose to be happy.
What I realized in these scenarios was it brought out of me what I'm made of. I got some great compliments from people years later saying, “We thought you were in a tank. We stuck by because you were a friend.” It turns out it’s probably one of the best decisions ever made because of what I was able to do, but I didn't have any plan, Dustin. Honestly, I was relying on faith. I’d walk up to my private room, look out the window and ask for guidance so to speak, and let the sunshine on my face. I go back downstairs and jump back into the battle. That's literally what it was moment by moment. In the end, I look back and think, “What if I threw in the towel? Where would I be?” I didn't do that. I lost a lot. I came out of that extremely in the negative, hundreds of thousands of dollars but I dug out of that hole in about two years. The rest they say is history.
Dustin
I appreciate you sharing that. The big thing I got out of that is you might not know what the plan is. You might not know the path but you’ve got to get up every day. I don't think you said this but this is what came in my head. Put one foot in front of the other, wake up, tackle it and get through that day. It might not be fun and exciting but get through that day. Is that accurate?
Gary
That's pretty accurate. What I learned is this and I've seen this, I love meeting other people who have achieved great success and they did it by going through adversity. One of the key characteristics is they simply say yes and they let things fall into place. Successful people don't wait for things to fall into place and then say yes and then the world's great. They say yes and then everything falls into place for them. The other character trait is simply determination, persistence and not giving up. It's probably the not giving up thing. This is probably the biggest. I don't think anything can compare to it as far as necessity for success is simply not giving up.
Dustin
I want to challenge you here on not giving up because you did something unusual for most coming from the corporate world and that is you gave up or the nice way to say is you retired as a corporate vice president at 40. I'm curious, why in this case did you give up, so to say? Why did you retire at 40 having climbed, reaching some of the top parts of the corporate world? Why do you retire at 40?
Gary
It all goes back to when I graduated from college, my first day on the job, I'm mumbling to myself, "Is this what I'm going to be doing for 40 years?" I'm not a happy camper. I'm looking outside and I see the sunshine and my mile from the ocean. I'm stuck in this office building and I toughed it out. After a couple of years, I grew up, matured and started putting my heart into it and I had some great success in the corporate world. When I was right out of college the same time, my college roommate, his name is Socrates, he and I bought a house together. It was a four-bedroom, two-bathroom house in Virginia Beach. His dad helped us. He didn't give us money. He didn't give us the fish. He taught us how to fish. I remember him pounding his chest. We went to his beach house afterwards to celebrate, He said, "You boys do what I'll tell you to do. When you're 35 years old, you wouldn't have to work for anybody else."
I didn't do that. I got married when I was 25 and started having children. Ten years goes by, I moved the Pittsburgh. It’s definitely not like in the corporate world. I'm thinking, “What if I listened to what Mr. Metta told me? I said, “I'm going to do it. I'm going to start buying more real estate.” I started buying little duplexes and triplexes and fourplexes and single-family homes, anything I can get my hands on. When I was 40 years old, I knew I could retire but I didn't have the guts to do it. I was like, "I got kids. I got a 401(k), this master vacation plan." This was the Christmas week at 2002, this was the straw that broke the camel's back. I knew the numbers because I was in IT and I had the numbers for the year and the year looked pretty good especially the fourth quarter.
Executives called this emergency meeting, Tuesday at 5:00 before Christmas, Christmas was on a Friday in 2002. I thought, “This is awesome. We're going to give everybody a big bonus.” I was surprised. They got something big but it wasn't a bonus. At that time, I was working for executives. I wasn't executive but I was a corporate VP in upper-level management. I'm thinking myself, “This sucks.” What sucked is they went and picked the people behind their backs based on reviews. They didn't bring in their management team into decision-making process. It’s like, “What are you guys doing?” There were mistakes.
I used to go to work at 6 AM because I didn't want to fight traffic and all that stuff. I went to my boss and I said, "Bob, I’ve got to tell you. I'm going to toe the company line because I've owed that but I don't agree with this and I'm going to be retiring. I don't know when I'm going to retire because this is wrong, what we did. The way we did it was wrong. Surprising people the week of Christmas, you're going to create animosity. Everybody who's left here, now they're going to be coming in fear. You don't want everybody working in fear. That's not what you want." I was able to save two guys’ jobs but at that moment I made a decision I'm going to get out of there. By springtime, I had enough in capital, working capital and active projects. I was actively purchasing and remodeling four properties and put them into service. I have enough capital to manage those projects without having to borrow and I have enough income coming in from the existing properties for over five years. That was matching my corporate income but I still couldn't pull the trigger.
Finally, August the 13th that year was my last day at work. That was 2003 now. I told him in advance, I said, "I'm not going to give you two weeks’ notice, I'll give you plenty of time but I'm leaving." At that time, I was managing four different business applications and doing mergers and acquisitions, and the more they promoted me, the more unhappy I became. I kept moving up the corporate ladder and became more and more unhappy as that occurred. My boss was not surprised. He said, "I knew you had some properties. I had no idea how many." He said one of his best friends had also done the same thing. He bought a bunch of properties, he left the corporate world and moved to Colorado. He had been living the good life ever since. That's been sixteen years. If I had to do the corporate thing to feed my family, I'd do it, but the reality is I would much rather wake up, enforce my own way, determine my own destiny and live in freedom, even if it meant living in a tent. I would rather do that than live in the corporate world. I’ve got to do it for my family but if it was just me, I'd rather live in a tent.
Dustin
I have to point this out though. After all those nuggets that you shared, I'm bringing this up but I cannot believe you had a roommate named Socrates. That blows my mind. I don't know that I've ever met a Socrates. I thought they retired that name quite frankly. Gary, in all honesty, I want you to take us back to your first deal. Everyone loves to talk about that first deal. I'm very curious, was this a home run deal? Was this one you'd rather not talk about?
Gary
In hindsight, it probably was a home run but on a very small scale. It was a four-bedroom, two-bathroom ranch in Virginia Beach, probably a couple of miles or three miles from the ocean. First, we were going to make a huge mistake. We decided we're going to buy a house together so Socrates' dad told us, he said, "You boys are not going to rent. You're going to buy a house, you're never going to rent the day in your life." We said, "Okay." We went out there and found this one block off the ocean, two-bedroom condo. We call it the chick bed. It was a beautiful, awesome home. There was decking, looking at the water and all kinds of crazy stuff. We made an offer right there on the spot. We get home, called his dad. I can hear him yelling over the phone to Socrates, "Get out of that deal. You guys are knuckleheads. That's what suckers do. You're not a sucker. You're going to make money on your first deal."
He came down and we started looking under the radar screen and we found this advertised for sale by owner. He was a Navy vet, back then he's still active duty Navy. He had a VA loan on this house and he also had a second mortgage. He needs to build up some additional equity. This was Soc's dad. This is why it's so important to have mentorship to teach you this stuff because you can read books so the cows come home, but you got to experience these things to learn this stuff. We assumed this as first mortgage, and for everybody reading, you can still assume the mortgages. His second mortgage, we refinanced with our own second mortgage and then for his remaining equity, we gave him our third mortgage for that portion and plus $3,000 combined, $1500 each out of our pocket to give him some cash to walk away with and then we had to come up with another $1500 each for closing costs for a total of $3000 into it. I found out later on, variable-rate mortgages are also a lot of times still assumable. A lot of people think you can't assume mortgages anymore. That's not true.
Dustin
Gary, I want to jump in here. When you say assume a mortgage, that means you're taking it over, right?
Gary
Correct. You’re simply taking over the payments.
Dustin
What was in it for this guy? What did you end up paying the guy that owned the house? Why would he want to do this deal? Break that down.
Gary
This was January of 1986. That's the year of the big Tax Reform Act of 1986. A lot of self-employed people like doctors were losing a lot of loopholes and they've started selling in the real estate. This guy wasn't a doctor but he owned the property for a while and we bought it. It’s three miles in the ocean, four-bedroom, two-bathroom ranch. We bought it for $63,000. He bought it for probably half of that so he was making some money on it. The reason he liked the deal is he was an investor and typically investors are entrepreneurial which means you're also typically creative and they can have great imaginations. They're always asking this question, “How can I make this work?” Instead of saying, “This won't work, that's no good,” that's negative psychology and scarcity mindedness. Smart entrepreneurs always think in a world of abundance, “How can I make this work?”
I challenged myself, I always come up with three things, three ways to make something work. He liked it because he got out of his VA mortgage with a stroke of a pen. He walked away with $3,000 cash. That third mortgage, we had to pay that off in three years. Socrates bought me out two years later when I got married because I've got married and there’s the Marriage Law. He makes them somewhat liable if something goes wrong with the marriage. I had a total of $3,000 into it, $1,500 closing costs, $1,500 for cash. I got that from the eBond that my grandmother got me when I was born for a college education.
I ended up not using it. That was what I use for my portion of down payment. I get $8,000 out of it and then Socrates borrowed money to pay off the guy the $17,000. He was able to defer his income on the property, spread out over a couple of years, which spread out his tax burden too. There was a lot of benefits for this person selling the property not that he made money but he was able to spread it out over time. As somebody who bought it outright, he had to pay capital gains of outright on the gains with that at that moment. We didn't have to do that. He was able to spread it out over a period of two or three years.
Dustin
After doing that deal, you get your little taste. Do you go on a spree or are you buying one a year? Was that your rhythm? How were you thinking about deals?
Gary
What happens is I got married and my wife and I took those proceeds and use it to buy our first house, also in Virginia Beach and that was $85,000. That was walking distance to the ocean. We can literally smell the salt air and hear the waves and all that. We were going to Pittsburgh one time to visit her family. That's where she was from. I went and interviewed with a bank up there. At the time it was Mellon Bank. Mellon Bank was still around but in a different structure. In terms of that, they only gave me a pretty big raise to come up there. While I'm on there I said, "I'll go to PNC Bank." It turns out PNC Bank was installing the software that I was the expert on but they hadn't had anybody in town that knew that software. I got a big raise at the bank when I was at in Virginia. On top of that, I got another 50% boost in my income by making that move. What happened is we sold that house in Virginia Beach and bought another one in Pittsburgh.
I didn't buy anything for ten years but as I grew impatient with the corporate world, I decided I'm going to go out and buy real estate. That first year I did go on a spree and I bought ten bulk units. In that first year, I bought a total of 30 units in twelve months. I was making clearing $4,500 a month cashflow at that time which at that time was matched my income, my take-home income from the bank. I did a big spree there and I used a lot of credit because I had pretty good credit rating. I used a home equity loan on my own property. I use what's called a Personal Line of Credit, a PLOC, which was based on your reputation for the same processes as like a credit card or a line of credit though this was unsecured. I used all the cash I had and at the end of the year, I had ten properties, a total of 30 units. I was in a cashflow game. I was in it, I was hooked and I thought to myself, “I'm going to retire.” It took me five years to have the guts to do.
Dustin
In that shopping spree that you had, were there any hiccups along the way? Give us one or two of the juicy ones so people know.
Gary
The first two properties I bought were a pair of fourplexes. There was a lady whose husband, unfortunately, had come down with Alzheimer's and he was at the tail end and they needed to sell. I so both the properties using traditional methods got an 80% mortgage on both of them and put down 20% and that immediately played in the cashflow game. I got almost overzealous or a little bit hasty and I started buying anything that walked. To me, it looked like it was easy but what I realized is the number one rule when you're buying rental properties, even if you want to manage yourself, is still include 10% for property management. Even though you might not be paying, it's still included in your pro forma for two reasons. Number one is the most valuable use of your time and energy is to be the investor, to find the deals. Not taking phone calls and collect the rents and calling contractors and stuff like that. You can pay people to do that, a percentage or a flat fee and whatever you pay for that is minuscule compared to what you will make on an hourly rate by being the investor so you get paid by being the investor, that's your profit. Your job as an investor is to deposit checks. That's your only job. You make the profit.
If you're going to manage properties, you don't have to be your own. That's a separate role and you deserve to be paid for that role. Even if you don't take the money out, still account for it in your pro forma before you ever buy the property because the second reason is this. If you accumulate rentals, which is what I did, when I got to about 40 units, I'm like, "This is going to be a lot of work here." I started delegating the property management functions one piece at a time. Thank goodness on a lot of properties, I built in property management. On the earlier properties, I didn't build it. I thought, “I'm going to manage myself therefore I don't need to pay it. Therefore, I can get better deals and I cannot compete with everybody else,” only to find out later on my mentor is right and said, “At some point, you're going to wish you had accounted for that in your original pro forma.” Thankfully on a lot of the properties, I did start accounting for it.
Dustin
Do you think that first one, two, three deals, people should run the property themselves to get an experience taste load whether or not they're accounting or they should account for it? Do you think out of the gate they should automatically go to a property management company?
Gary
Everybody's different. What I do when I train people is I always ask them some questions. I interview and then they see what their risk threshold is and what their tolerance is for life drama. If they have a low tolerance, I'll say, "You should use management on property number one,” but if they can take a little bit of a beating here and there, because people are going to call him and say, “I lost my job. I'm getting divorced." I would say manage the first couple of years yourself because that allows you to learn that side of the business inside and out and then when you do delegate it, you're operating from intellectual strength. You know what to expect from the manager. They know you know that so you've got a better, a little more symbiotic relationship with your manager. Because if you don't know that stuff, they could be telling you things and asking you questions and spending your money and you think it's okay. If you know from experience, you'll be able to be creative and imaginative and come up with maybe alternative solutions to things that the manager wants to do. That's why I do encourage it but only for people who have a little bit of fix gap.
Dustin
I know you to be a very creative guy and I want to clear up something. The way that you got into the business, a lot of people would say, "That's great for Gary. He had a great job at the time. He had these equity lines of credit. He was creditworthy." However, I know that you often will buy deals, no money down. We've heard this before, no money down, but does this work today? Is this a legit strategy? Are you buying properties without having to bring any money to the table these days?
Gary
Yes, it is true. In the early years, frankly at first I used some cash because I had it but when I didn't have cash, I had to get creative and I did use lines of credit. I even played what's called the credit card game. I bought on terms, I bought with owner financing, I did all that creative stuff. I'm glad you asked those questions. Here's what I want to emphasize here. Creative investing or no money down investing has its place. It's not every place. A lot of people I teach literally don't have cash or good credit so they have to be creative. I teach them some basic techniques to get them in the game but what I also want them to do is have one eye on today and one eye on tomorrow. That tomorrow is being able to operate from cash because that puts you in control. It's the same old saying in business. It has been that way for thousands of years. In business, cash is the king, always has and always will. The cool thing is this, when you can get on a cash basis, even if it's using 20% cash down payment, it allows you to get better rates in terms on your loans which means you have number one, stronger equity and number two, stronger cashflow.
As you build on that, then you put 35% down, then 50% down. I know this sounds crazy because it's counterintuitive, but when you can get to where you can buy properties using cash and those mean it has to be your cash, what you can do is as you build up equity, you can get what's called a commercial line of credit. My first case to it was a blanket mortgage. I blanketed my existing properties. It was a line of credit for commercial and commercial terms. It allowed me to buy the next property by simply stroking a check to the seller. It was cash but I didn't have to go get a new lien or new mortgage on that property. I leveraged the equity in my existing properties through that blanket mortgage. Then what happens is as you fix it up, you raise the rent. Some people call this the BRR method: Buy, Remodel, Refinance, which was what I did. I started doing it on a much larger scale. What happens is when you go back later, maybe a year or two or three years later, then you get a brand new first mortgage on that new property, but only what you need to borrow to be paid back the line of credit.
When you pay back that line of credit and you added another income-producing asset to your portfolio, what that lender does on that line of credit is they increase it. Now, this machine is feeding itself. You’re being creative, you're borrowing against yourself instead of borrowing against others and it puts you in control and it ultimately led to the path of real financial freedom. In the beginning, you can become independent. You can absolutely become financially independent, buying real estate using all those creative, no money down techniques but to really be free, you got to acquire what we call Financial Freedom which is, you don't have to borrow from other people if you don't want to. You can choose to, but now you do it strategically based on what you've already got, which puts you in control. I hope that clears things up for people.
Being creative is great but there are different strategies with different purposes. In the beginning, you've got to use other people's money, no doubt about it but over time, if you can get to where you can borrow against your own assets and puts you in control, it dramatically reduces risk. In case of a bad recession, you will walk away from your properties if you've got skin in the game. The people that lost their shirts in the big recession, they're totally leveraged up to their eyeballs and it was easy. Walk away, let the bank take it over but then you've got to start all over again. You've got nothing. If you've got solid equity and cashflow, you can weather the storm. Coming out of the storm, it's like Christmas time.
Dustin
You mentioned Virginia Beach. You mentioned Pittsburgh. Are you investing in the market in which you live in? Are you investing in all parts of the United States? How are you looking at different markets?
Gary
I'm thankful that I've been blessed with this wonderful business where I get to travel and meet people all over the place and teach them how to invest and teach the real estate agents how to work with the investors and all that. I get to do joint ventures. I get to provide funding and be part of other people's transactions where I don't physically have to be there. In fact, there are properties I haven't even seen but I know how to refinance statements now so I can look at the numbers of the financial statement and look for the story. I always want to determine what's the story? What is this person selling? If you get their tax returns, you get rent rolls, you get a profit loss for three years and you get their financial statements, they can only hide so much. They can't hide everything all the time. They can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all the people all the time.
I look at the big picture. I found places where they had a building burned down and they scraped what's called the raising. They filled that, planted grass so it looks like a great little park between two other buildings. I realized nobody builds two buildings with a vacant lot of material. They don't do that. I did my research only to find out that third building had burned down twelve years before and the people were losing their shirt. I realize there’s an opportunity here. Going back to your question, I've done this literally from coast to coast, California to Maine, in Montreal to Miami and every area has its opportunities. It might be different opportunities. San Francisco, LA, San Diego, three nice, high-priced areas but in LA, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, 82% of the people rent. What that tells me is wherever people rent, people invest. You have to find out what's working in that market and apply to strategies.
Dustin
How do you know? Is it the folks that you partner with on the ground that bring that or you were able to find this information online?
Gary
You can find it. There are lots of cool websites and public data resources you can use to research almost anything you want on people and properties. Some of them are free. BRB Publications is a great free website. Anybody can go to it. It allows you to drill down state-by-state, go down on a county level, the local level, look at court records, taxes with databases. It’s a great starting spot for a lot of new investors. You can get in the paid services. One of the ones we like to use out in California is called ReboGateway.com. You can pay a monthly fee out on it, like $30 or something. You can get all kinds of good stuff on people who've received notices of default and the ones going into foreclosure. There are public records like probate, divorce, landlord-tenant cases. All that data is out there. I used to do all of that myself because that's when I was aggressively growing a portfolio. Now, what I do is a lot of the students I've taught, I show them how to do it and then they bring me the reports and then we look at things together, analyze them and determine if we should be flipping there and buy rentals or not do anything at all.
Dustin
I want to talk a little bit about that. I know we spend a lot of time talking about investments in real estate specifically. You took your expertise in putting real estate deals together, finding them and knowing how to put deals and being creative together. Now, you've taken that expertise and now you show other people how to do it and that's a business in itself. You've mentioned real estate agents and I'm curious, why not the general public? Why not people that were like you who were 5VPs of whatever? Why real estate agents?
Gary
The reason is there's always been a gap between the investors and the agents. In other words, the investors don't understand the agents, the agents don’t understand the investors. This is typically what you find in the residential world. Even commercial agents, sometimes they’re simply trying to collect a commission. They don't know anything. They are just trying to put food on the table. What I realized is, years ago I was teaching a group of people how to buy small multi-units and it turns out, about a fourth of the students were agents. I thought, “I should teach these guys, give them their own program.” I created a program where I teach the agents how to work with the investors and the big purpose was to educate the agents, to speak the language, to understand the tools and strategies and methodologies that investors are using. It turns out that was probably a pretty smart thing to do. At the time, I thought it was more of an experiment. I thought, “Let me add this to the complement of training programs,” because I am getting a lot of agents and a lot of the agents want to invest.
For me, I was an investor for seventeen years before I got my license. The only reason I got my license is I was frustrated with the agents. I'm like, "You're not helping me." I thought I'll teach him. I started teaching him how to invest so number one, they could speak the language. Number two, I thought, well maybe they'll eventually buy their own and now they had more commissions and more knowledge to buy their own but at the same time, they help other investors the right way. It turns out, that's consumed probably 90% of my time in the last five years and I'm glad I'm happy for them. I'm a blessed perfect because I got this. I need to do something I love, which is teaching. I get to travel too at the same time. I started doing podcasts. I did them years ago but I didn't understand the purpose of a podcast. That podcast back then in 2015 was ranked number three in its genre. I should probably should have stuck with it. We started doing again this year but it was geared towards the professionals, people in their 40s and 50s, professionals in their fields, often business owners who went to a dash and they realized they don't want to get caught up in all that.
You don't have to have cash, you don't have to give credit to them. It looks like smoke and mirrors and a lot of it is unfortunately, not all of it but you got to read the fine print and focus on how you want to invest and what kind of properties you want. In the podcast, I’m focusing on those folks who are interested in buying good properties, not A plus luxury but solid C and C plus properties. I'm now being interviewed at other people's podcasts and six of them were dental podcasts, the professional group of dentists and orthodontists who want to do what I'm doing. A lot of them, they make great investors. The dentists make awesome investors.
They are business owners, they’re entrepreneurial. They understand that principles and the concepts and they want to have passive income because they don't want to be stuck behind the chair when they're 60 years old. That led to the engineers, the pilots, teachers, a fireman, policeman, even some military folks. Those are the top groups of people that I'm attracting and now I can match them up with the agents because I've taught over 20,000 agents in the last few years across the US and Canada. It was an interesting turn but I'm now coming back to where my roots were which were the investors. Now that I've got the agents everywhere, I can help the investors make better decisions and team up with the right people. It's come full circle and what's interesting is a lot of other people saw what I saw.
Dustin
What has been the most surprising thing about building this business? Not the real estate business itself but the education. What have you found to be the most surprised in building this?
Gary
Everything because I tell you I built business before, I built a brokerage company, I built a title company, property management company, appraisal company. It was all centered around the relationships I already had. I already had the clients. I just kept adding them, serving them more ways and profiting them through more services. When I built this business, this was a complete departure. What's interesting is it's not just what you know. I'm uncomfortable with the subject but building this business is a whole new field for me. I had to go through a lot of learning. The surprise number one is you've got to become a master of learning, become immersed in learning this part of the business. I had to learn about speaking. I wasn't like a professional speaker, I'm anything far from it.
The thing that kept saving my bacon was I knew what I was talking about. People said, "I can tell you know what you're doing. You're doing it yourself," but I had to learn about how to set up the events. I'm thinking in my mind, how hard can that get be? You pick up the phone, you call somebody. It was the learning curve and also the time and energy and dedication it takes. You got to have a server to start. You got to want to help people and you got to love teaching. I've traveled all over the US and Canada. I've taught probably over 800 classes now in individual office locations. I've done big three-day events. It turns out I like the classes. It's more comfortable. I'm in front of people, they can ask me questions. The three-day events were exciting. The energy level is off the chart but that's a lot of work. You've got to secure the venues, you've got to have audio-video groups in there, you've got to have photographers and videographers, people around to help out because people have questions. Me, I'm the one up there talking. You got to be able to hammer it out for three-days straight. Your energy level is through the roof but by the time into the third day, you walk away or drive away, you'll go through what I call a crash. You decompress.
Dustin
I can relate to that.
Gary
I feel like I've got it. I'm in my zone now, I'm doing a lot more online. The reason I'm doing that is I realized I don't understand how valuable what I was doing was and that if I'm in classrooms, I'm only reaching twenty to 40 people at a time on average. If I can do things online, give away information, giveaway content, answer people's questions, doing the podcast and interviewing people and being interviewed, it turns out you can help a lot more people. We started doing stuff on YouTube and Facebook Live and I don't have enough time on the day to do an officer work. The other thing I'm looking to do is to find more people that love doing what I'm doing and I can have them do the same thing and help out and have one person focus on this one thing, if you like flipping, focus on that and we all work together. That's the next phase that I'm working on. We're actively doing it now.
It's more about providing material online that people can easily consume and digest and then when they're ready for more, they let us know. That's more of a traditional model. I didn't know that that's what that model was. In my mind, I'm thinking, why do I got to get in front of people? That's why I built that model. It worked great but it requires me to be on the road and off a lot. I love traveling. I'm in outside of Dallas, Texas and I was in Austin. I'll be in New Orleans. I get to go to these cool places and meet cool people. If you have something valuable, make sure you build it the right way. Dustin's a great role model, I love the fact that you've helped me out over the whole year. Dustin had been a great friend and a great mentor and if you have something valuable, share it with the world. The world deserves it. You have an obligation to help people. There’s no better and more fulfilling role you can play than helping somebody else achieve some of what you've achieved.
Dustin
I could spend the whole day talking. It's very easy talking to you and listening to your voice which I can understand why people have you all around the country to educate them and teach them. For people who want to continue that conversation and follow you online or offline, where's the best place for people to find you?
Gary
If you can go to MyInvestmentServices.com, you'll see five different books across the top. Click on one of them, download. It's an easy five or ten-page thing to see if there's something you want to pursue further. Click on it. It's free. I give away all kinds of free stuff. Start there. Do the free stuff first and if you want to go further, you can be part of the community. There's a member’s area you can join up before to do that but for right now, I want people to get the free stuff. I do have a podcast called Real Estate Investing for Professional Men and Women. Anybody is able to listen but it turns out that group that the chiropractors, the dentists, the pilots, professionals, business owners are usually the ones that take a liking into it.
There's that too if you want to do that but those are probably the two primary ways. With the whole thing about creative financing, I did write my seventh book called Real Estate Reality, The Truth Behind No-Money-Down Investing. It's a 65-page read that will help clarify that whole mystery about no money down in purchasing. It allows you to see when it's applicable, when it's not, what else you can do and I bring that in the forefront so that you have clarity on that. That's something else they can do. Those are the easy things to do.
Dustin
Gary, I appreciate you being on the show and I appreciate you out there sharing your message and inspiring so many people what we call here to get well fits. You are a definitely a steward and a shepherd of that. Thank you for what you do and thanks for being on the show.
Gary
You're welcome. I'm glad to do it. I hope everybody clicks on it. I love to hear some feedback sometimes that somebody says, "Gary, I listened and did one of those things and it worked."
Dustin
Thanks, Gary.
Gary
Take care, Dustin.

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