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TABLE OF CONTENTS
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
BRUCE McNEI LAGE creates affordable homes, unique opportunities, and big returns.
by Carole VanSickle Ellis :: photos by L.M. Pane Photography
READY FOR THE HOLIDAYS?
NEVER ADVERTISE AGAIN
ELEVATING REAL ESTATE DATA TO THE CLOUD Splitting the ATTOM, an article from ATTOM Data Solutions.
Be prepared for increased risk to your properties this holiday season.
4 key questions to maximize your returns on real estate marketing.
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FROM THE EDI TOR- IN-CHI EF
PUBLISHER R. Michael Wrenn
PRESIDENT, AFFINITY WORLDWIDE Eddie Wilson | EWilson@AffinityWorldwide.com
The Key to the Treasure House
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Carole VanSickle Ellis CEllis@ThinkRealty.com
VICE PRESIDENT OF MEDIA SALES Rodney Halford RHalford@ThinkRealty.com 816-398-4111 x86122 NATIONAL SALES MANAGER Teresa Stanton TStanton@ThinkRealty.com 816-398-4111 x86224
epeat after me: Real estate provides the highest returns, the
also all know plenty of great investors who are enjoying both of those items. In fact, Think Realty is enjoying watch- ing many of our members achieve those types of personal milestones thanks to their own investing hard work and success. We know it’s far more than that, though.
greatest value, and the least risk. Actually, although I have certainly said (and written) similar things to the statement above, if you followed directions just now then you repeated after entrepreneur, nationally syndicated columnist, master marketer, and clearly a huge fan of real estate, Armstrong Williams. I’d say he’s a pretty solid guy for investors to repeat from time to time, as is another far older but also historic figure, who said, “Gold is a treasure, and he who possesses it does all he wishes in this world.” That second guy also had a taste for real estate. His name was Christopher Columbus. Combine these two messages and you get a highly appropriate lesson with which to wind up 2017: You, as a real estate investor, hold the key to the treasure. That treasure can be used, leveraged if you will, to make everything around you a better version of itself than it was before. Do not think that I’m simply saying that money is the key to happiness. We all know there’s more to it than buying fancy cars and big houses, although we
CONTENT DIRECTOR CariAnn Steward CSteward@ThinkRealty.com
ASSISTANT EDITOR Heather Elwing
Real estate investing in 2017 has changed in perma- nent, positive ways, and Think Realty is proud to have embraced these changes as part of its mission to help investors in terms of “Time, Wealth, [and] Purpose.” With this truly valuable combination and an appreci- ation of the treasure it represents, real estate investors have done amazing things. In this issue, we’ll explore just a few of those things and, even better, the strategies behind them. We examine the route to community revitalization and as- sociated profits. We dissect the finer points of markets, technology, and landlord support of local schools, and we delve deeply into the many ways the real estate in- dustry and the investor community can join together to become something much bigger than itself. No matter the look of your personal treasure, real estate investing can be the key. Thanks for a great 2017. Now, like every great explorer, onward! •
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WHAT'S NEW AT THINKREALTY.COM
FOR ARTICLE REPRINTS :: Contact Jeremy Ellis at Reprint Pros, 949-702-5390. www.reprintpros.com. SUBSCRIPTIONS :: The annual subscription for Think Realty Magazine is $28.95 in the U.S. Order online at www.ThinkRealty.com or call 816-398-4085. Provide your full name, address and telephone number. DISCLAIMER :: Think Realty Magazine , its owners, contractors, distributors and their respective representatives do not provide tax, accounting, investment or legal advice and make no guarantee as to the effectiveness or success of any investment or tax strategies discussed herein. Please consult your own independent adviser as to any questions you have or decision you are contemplating. ABOUT THIS MAGAZINE :: ThinkRealtyMagazine isapublicationof AffinityRealEstateMediaLLC.Reproductionoruseofanyeditorial orgraphic,withoutpermission, isprohibited.Wearenotresponsible for thecontentofanypaidadvertisements.Forreprintrights; toob- tainadetailedstatementofourprivacypolicy;and forallsingle-copy requests,addresschangesandothersubscription inquiries:
Think Realty members now have access to special discounts at 84 Lumber! Both Intro and Investor-level members save 6% off regular retail prices. Don’t let the name fool you, you’ll find windows, doors, siding, drywall, trim, insulation, and of course, lumber. 84 Lumber has more than 250 locations nationwide, and job-site delivery is available. Because you can’t afford to wait on your materials, 84 Lumber also provides a dedicated contractor sales rep to oversee the estimating, pricing, delivery and billing of the entire job.
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CAROLE J. VANSICKLE ELLIS, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
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THINK REALTY EVENTS
ATLANTA & 2018
CONNECTWITH US IN 2018 In 2018, Think Realty will be heading to a market near you no matter where in the country you live. We have four events planned to keep you educated, in- formed, and connected with the best the industry has to offer. Each event will feature our now-familiar National Conference & Expo format on Saturday with educators and exhibitors offering unprecedented levels of accessi- bility and training as well as presentations from keynote speakers. Each event will close Sunday with special coaching sessions from our own Think Realty Coaches. Save the dates (below) and make plans to attend each and every conference.
(Top) 2017 Educator of the Year, Jan Britt, stands between Affinity president Eddie Wilson (R) and a representative from 2016’s Investor Support Organization, the Real Wealth Network. (Bottom right) 2016 Master Investor Charles Sells (L) presents Marco Santarelli (R) with the 2017 Master Investor of the Year. (Bottom left) Tammy Phelps- Keglovich and husband, Jim, pose holding Tammy’s 2017 Commercial Investor of the Year award.
Pathways to Smart Investing Think Realty’s 2017 Honors Recipients join Affinity Worldwide president Eddie Wilson (bottom left) and popular event emcee Sherman Ragland (top, third left). Honorees: (bottom, left to right) Keith Murray, Tyler Weitz, Kevin Ortner, Marcus Painter, Marco Santarelli. (Top, left to right) Tammy Phelps-Keglovich, Steve Down, Jan Britt, Linda Liberatore, Kristin Galucci (on behalf of Bill Green), and Dan Butler.
A LOOK BACK ON THINK REALTY’S ATLANTA EVENT.
t the Pathways to Smart Investing conference in Atlanta, Think Realty members were treated to two days of in- tense education, networking, and the de- but of the Think Realty Honors luncheon, which featured the best, brightest, and most dedicated leaders in the industry all gathered in one room to recognize real estate’s finest. Not only did former win- ners Charles Sells (2016 Master Investor), Engelo Rumora (2016 Rising Star), and Real Wealth Network (2016 Investor Sup- port Organization of the Year) all attend and present this year’s honorees with their awards, but nearly 20 of this year’s finalists were in attendance to support each other, A
meet conference attendees, and network with local investors. The Atlanta event was particularly exciting because the second day consisted of exclusive presentations fromThink Realty coaches Sonia Booker, Pamela J. Goodwin, Abhi Golhar, and Ben Rao. All four of these coaches are premier experts in their sectors of the industry. Booker revealed eight prin- ciples essential to any real estate investing strategy, while Rao delved into how real estate investors can beat their competition and create more effective networks and lead generation tactics by adding brand identity into the mix. “Your brand should tell the story of who you are, what you do, and why
you do it,” he said. “Build your brand right, and people will figure out for you where they fit into your business.” Sunday, after a short networking break during which the coaches answered individual questions, took pictures, and spoke with attendees individually, Golhar took a deep dive into the local market. He covered highly specific topics includ- ing counties with the best returns on investment (ROI) in the country, what could happen if Atlanta lands Amazon’s second headquarters, and how wholesal- ing and flipping in the Atlanta metro area and surrounding suburbs have changed in recent months. Golhar emphasized
the importance of clear goals and objectives. “Keep your eyes wide open. Your time is valuable, so take things seriously. Know exactly what you are looking for, and don’t be afraid to say no to a bad deal,” he said. Pamela J. Goodwin, Think Realty’s commercial real estate coach, spent her time with students making the very large world of com- mercial real estate feel a little more manageable. She started out by acknowledging that many investors are intimidated by commercial real estate, but added, “If you have done residential deals, you can do commercial ones.” Goodwin went on to explain how she identi- fies the best commercial opportunities and then finds ways to fund them, concluding that in commercial real estate, “The fortune is in the follow-up. It’s all about building relationships and timing.” •
DID YOU KNOW? Investor-Level Think Realty members receive free or discounted access to national and regional networking, learning, and deal-making events as part of their membership privileges. Learn more at https://thinkrealty.com/membership.
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NUTS & BOLTS COACHES CORNER
STRATEGIES: REITs Panel in Print
Panel in Print: The Many Faces of Buy-and-Hold Investing
PAMELA J. GOODWIN As a real estate developer, part of the daily process involves keeping up with the latest projects going on in your area and around the world, including going on site tours of new development projects, learning from real estate managers handling different types of properties and concepts, and constantly expanding your knowl- edge base about the best locations to own these types of properties, whether you plan to hold them short- or long-term. HERE’S AN EXAMPLE: I am part of a women’s commercial real estate group in Texas called Deals in Heels. All of our members specialize in retail and restaurant commercial real estate. We meet once a month and recently had a speaker come in who owns sev- eral innovative restaurant concepts throughout the country. He talked about how
hen it comes to the strategy conventionally referred to as “buy- and-hold,” most real estate investors tend to think of building and maintaining a cash-flowing rental portfolio. However, there are many other options involved in long-term real estate, including vacation W
rentals, commercial property investments, and community building on every level from your block to your entire municipal area. Long-term real estate investments can not only build up your assets when you are ready to cash in on the time you invested in holding a property; it can
create benefits for your shorter-term deals and your other investing strategies as well. Three of Think Realty’s expert coach- es described their personal take on the less conventional side of buy-and-hold or long-term real estate for this month’s Panel in Print.
he found his new idea by traveling to Amsterdam and saw how popular food halls were in different countries. We had the opportunity to be among the first to tour one of his latest projects before opening: a new dining experience in a new development featuring a three-level food hall where each level has a different concept and experience. The lowest level has more than 30 unique food and beverage stalls, while the second level is home to a craft brewing company and the top level is designated for entertainment and live performances as well as being available for private events. If the first food hall is a success he plans to open these venues up all over the country, and we toured one of the first ones! That tour helped update me on the market. It means I now have the knowledge to say to a client who might be representing some of the big department stores that are closing all over the country, “I know just the person who would want to buy this space from you.” Not only can I act as a broker, but I can also invest in those types of properties myself if I see an opportunity in the right area and enjoy the profits that come with leasing that space long-term to one of these “food halls” that are becoming popular all over the world.
ABHI GOLHAR Ultimately, I think that long-term real estate investing is often lost in the shuffle because people get so focused on building their hustling empires of real estate flipping that they forget about the real point of real estate: to be a steady wealth generator. Sure, I love the big numbers that come with flips, but what I really love is adding to my portfolio day after day, year after year, and knowing that I’m do- ing good for the community, offering good folks a place to live when they other- wise wouldn’t be able to buy a home, and I’m building serious wealth as well. I’m building a legacy for my family and the community in which I invest. I say, when you look at long-term real estate investing, you want to do two things: create the impact that you want on the world and become more financially sufficient. The best way to do that is to build your portfolio with real estate assets that last such as single-family rentals and multi-family apartment complexes.
BEN RAO I’ve been investing in real estate for more than ten years and I own about four dozen properties and assorted commercial buildings. I have always believed in the buy-and-hold strategy. It is just so important to me to add value to a property before letting it go again. I have never bought a property and then turned around and sold it to someone else without doing something to it first or at least owning it for a peri- od of time. I’m definitely about improving and repurposing.
HERE’S AN EXAMPLE: Last fall, we purchased a run-down property for about $50,000 in a neighborhood of Atlanta called Summer- hill. We invested an additional $15,000 for a variety of permits, etc. Then, we sold it to a builder whose ex- pressed intention was to Airbnb the property and hold it indefinitely. He estimated that it would cost him about $180,000 to get that property where he wanted it to be, and that when he did it would be worth about $425,000. Needless to say, he was willing to pay an amount that meant he got a good deal and we made a healthy profit. I would argue in that both parties made a long-term investment. Our buyer bought that property because he believed it would be worth a lot more than it was at time of purchase when he was done with it and because he expected to generate a good income by owning it a long time. We made a tidy short-term profit, but we also invested in a colleague who is building up our area and now knows that we are a good firm to work with and that we’re really out to educate as well as put money in our pocketbooks. And guess what we did with the profit from that deal? We purchased long-term assets to add to our portfolio.
Furthermore, really effective investors do not just invest in buy-and-hold prop- erties, but they also invest in their brand. That’s also a long-term investment. When you invest in a property that you improve, hold, and manage well for a long time you put your business in a framework that people can understand. They see that you’re a real estate investor who is serious about your success and the success of your community. The more people recognize what you are doing, the more you build brand momentum and the more your phone starts to ring. People bring deals specifically to you because they know you’re in real estate and you’ll do something good with the opportunity.
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NUTS & BOLTS COACHES CORNER
who are relatively more or less successful than you, depending on the caliber of the event, and you usually spend a fair amount of time explaining what you do well in your business and receiving input on things that you could improve. It’s a time to reflect and also to give, tactfully (or not, depending on the members). At the end of the day, though, you paid to be there so that you could get something, and most people who attend these things have a hard time forgetting that fact. As investors, we’re always looking to network to improve our net worth (have you heard that enough recently?) and sometimes our greater purpose can get lost, or at least temporarily obscured, by the “what can this room do for me?” mentality. Effective networking relies on combining the natural “me focus” with a wider “here’s what I offer” message that is defined, in large part, by your own brand and your place as you present yourself in the industry. In the case of the Think Realty Lead- ership Circle, for instance, we were there for so much more than just what we could do for each other. We were there for an agreed-upon, stated purpose of improving and bettering our real estate industry. That’s what Affinity Worldwide and Think Realty are all about: improv- ing the real estate industry while creat- ing a thriving business that supports not just our sector, but also the individuals and families who work for and with us every day. We were able to create huge benefits for each other by focusing on our greater goals. So how do you get to the point where you are building up a room when you network instead of just taking from it? The answer is simple: You define, clearly for yourself and others, what you have to offer. Whether you have just started investing in real estate this morning or you have been in the business for 20 years, there is a perception out there about you and, most likely, your business as well. Seizing hold of that perception and shaping it to meet your needs as an investor is the first step. Here are a few things to ask yourself about that perception which is, in fact, your brand:
1. What do people immediately say about me when I walk out of the room? 2. Who do I want to be talking about me when I walk out of the room? 3. What do people think I offer them in terms of a positive experience, business asset, or benefit? 4. What do I need people to think I offer in order for my business to be successful? These questions can be difficult ones, especially the first one. A lot of real estate investors respond to that question by simply saying, “I’m not that big a deal. No one is talking about me at all when I leave the room other than my in-laws, anyway.” First of all, that’s likely not the case, and second of all, if it is then you need to change that because you are definitely not making the most of the room if no one notices when you enter or leave! How we, as investors, communicate, is key to making the most of a room. When you speak, post on social media, blog, or video, your message is first absorbed by your audience and then perceived. What I mean is that people hear what you are saying, but then their perceptions of you color how they react. For example, if they have a negative view of flippers and you are a flipper, everything you say will be tinged with their mistrust of house flipping. That is something that you will have to get around in order to benefit them and to benefit from your asso- ciation with them. The best way to do that is to get very clear about what you offer so that the focus is now on mutual productivity rather than misconceptions and misperceptions. •
Affinity Worldwide president and coach, Eddie Wilson, introduces Think Realty's coaching team to a room full of investors.
Making the Most of the Strength in a Room
is bigger than just the people sitting in it, then you will have truly unlocked the potential for astronomical success in our industry. They key is really absorb- ing that perspective into your outlook and your networking behavior. Here is an example of what I mean: As the president of Affinity Worldwide, it was my job to welcome those folks to the Leadership Circle Meeting and give them an idea of what we would be doing over the next few days. If you’ve ever attended a mastermind or similar type of meeting, you know how these things usually work. You spend time with people
BEING BIGGER THAN YOUR BIO IS KEY TO EXPONENTIAL GROWTH.
by Eddie Wilson
ecently, I had the distinct pleasure of hosting the Think Realty Leader- ship Circle meeting in my hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. As I looked around at the roughly three dozen elite investors we had assembled in our conference room, I felt what some might describe as an in- ordinate amount of pride in the assembly R
itself. That room was something special, from the industry leaders to the strategic innovators to the aspirational philanthro- pists who set the bar for true leadership in business so very high. Let’s just say it was a very, very good room. “Okay, enough with the back-patting, Eddie,” you may be thinking right about
now. “We get it: You had an incredible meeting.” But here’s the thing: It was so much more than just a meeting, and that room was much, much bigger than the people sitting in those chairs. If you can really absorb into your daily professional routine, both within and outside of real estate, that every room
EddieWilson is president of Affinity Worldwide, Think Realty’s parent company, and a Think Realty coach. Learnmore from Eddie at https:/ thinkrealty.com/coaches.
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A Strong Foundation is Essential for a Profitable Rental Porfolio
GET COMFORTABLEWITH YOUR NUMBERS Most of us have been programmed to keep finances private, and this sometimes carries over from our personal lives to our business practices. We are not always comfortable with discussions related to money. While many items are shared in our new shared environment, tax returns and income statements are not generally public. Understand in real estate you have been judged and you will continue to be judged by the income your properties are produc- ing. Just as in any other business, your tax returns and your Profit & Loss (P&L) state- ments are your report card. Especially to a lender, those numbers are the foundation of your success. The next time you want to take out a loan in order to expand your real estate portfolio, for example, your lender is going to want to verify your ability to col- lect. It is your responsibility to demonstrate that you can do so in order to sustain and support your investing business. The first and best time to discuss finances with a tenant is during the screening phase. At this time, you and your office should be reviewing a poten- tial tenant’s capacity to pay each month. Furthermore, ask yourself honestly: Does their credit history validate their commit- ment to pay? Share with new leads that you are focused on good service, and that your definition of that term includes the priority of prompt payments. NOW, GET COMFORTABLE WITH POTENTIAL TENANTS’ NUMBERS OFFER FLEXIBILITYAND ACCOUNTABILITY If you don’t already have a strong multi- touch reminder system that includes mail, email and text reminders that reinforce the payment date, begin implementing one immediately. These reminders should include a discussion of the many payment
Remember that if you decide to offer credit card or Venmo options, the consumer credit card protection terms that protect your tenant in the event of a disputed transaction can hurt your ability to collect rent. We have heard from clients who collected from a a tenant only to learn 90 days later the funds were reversed based on the tenant filing a dispute form. Know your options and your residents. Offer the maximum flexibility to assist your resident in timely payments, but do not set yourself up for failure if a particular option will not work with your tenant population.
BUILD SOLID SUPPORT UNDERNEATH YOUR RENT-COLLECTION PROCESS.
by Linda Liberatore
eal estate investors know how important it is to find a property with a strong foundation. The same the- ory you apply to making a brick-and- mortar investment should also apply to your cash flow. To achieve solid returns and provide safe, stable housing in your community, you need a plan to keep your cash flow consistent, including R
your rent-collection process. One of the facets of your business that will define your real estate in- vesting success will be your ability to generate income from your properties. Certainly, you can (and should) define your success by multiple standards, but most real estate investing busi- nesses will not be sustainable with-
out the ability to generate reliable, predictable income. This is particular- ly true when it comes to your rental real estate portfolio, and your ability to do this will determine whether you are able to grow that portfolio and, ultimately, position yourself as a proud housing provider with potential tenants, lenders, and colleagues.
methods you offer. For example, you may accept money orders, checks, ACH debits, and Chase QuickPay (and I recommend you do so). Consider allowing tenants to make direct payments to your company account as well, and make sure that your communications deal with the easiest, fastest way to do so. Of course, these op- tions should be tweaked and personalized to the specific needs and demographics of your tenant population. EXPLORE YOUR COLLECTION OPTIONS Sometimes, even with your reminders and easy options for payments, your tenants are going to miss payments. It is an unfortunate part of being a landlord. However, this part does not have to be entirely awful. The next step in your rent collection process should be to prepare for the process of issuing legal notices specific to your town/county/state. You do not need to be ashamed of doing this, and you can help tenants who are behind on payments by confronting the issue head-on, but in a helpful manner. Don’t stop communicating now! Proudly refer your tenant to churches and charitable organizations in your area if family and friends were not able to help with the personal event that has caused the rent shortage. By keeping the lines of communication open (even when issuing notices of delinquency) you will provide benefit to your resident. You may need to help them understand how to use
MULTI-TOUCH REMINDERS: Reminder notices sent to tenants via multiple communication avenues. For example, you might send a letter in the mail, an email, and text a tenant to remind them that rent is due and make payment as easy as possible.
these documents, but they will be able to leverage them to obtain assistance with a short-term problem or evaluate whether a change in their income requires a move to a new more affordable location.
BE PROUD OF YOUR COLLECTION PROCESS
Your rental income is the foundation of the real estate portfolio and business that enables you to provide safe, secure housing for residents and support your local neigh- borhoods as well. Additionally, establishing and maintaining sound rent collection pro- cesses will allow you to demonstrate solid, reliable cash flow in your portfolio, a must if you want to continue to expand your real estate investing business. •
Linda Liberatore (R) receives her 2017 Property Manager of the Year award from Affinity Worldwide president Eddie Wilson (L).
Linda Liberatore is the founder and CEO of Secure Pay One and a Think Realty Coach. She may be reached at lindal@securepay- one.com, and her coaching materials may be viewed online at https:/ thinkrealty.com/coaches.
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4 KEY QUESTIONS TO MAXIMIZE YOUR RETURNS ON REAL ESTATE MARKETING.
by Rodney Halford
’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: There is no “secret sauce” in advertising. There are just hundreds of little ways to refine your strategies, presentation, and process over time to maximize your odds of a good return on your marketing investment. Ask yourself some questions and then answer honestly. Do it right, and you might never advertise in the conven- tional sense ever again. Real estate professionals, both those who invest and those who offer services to investors, are the best-positioned in- dustry experts out there when it comes to maximizing ROI. However, because we often fail to ask ourselves the same questions we would insist on asking others, our marketing efforts fall short. Ask yourself the following four ques- tions and answer them honestly. Then, apply your answers to your marketing strategy to maximum effect. QUESTION #1 ARE YOU IN THIS FOR THE LONG HAUL? If you are committed to an adver- tising venue, then you should always consider booking your ads long-term. Doing so will almost always save time, gain exposure, and create brand aware- ness. Furthermore, many advertisers do not realize (top secret stuff, here!) that many companies will offer incentives or extra benefits to clients who commit to longer-term bookings. The best rates are nearly always annual, followed by
quarterly, monthly, and daily. Not sure if an advertising venue is right for you, but hoping to snag some of that marketing swag? Be direct. Tell your company liaison exactly what you would like them to try to include in your package. It may be that they can offer a timely alternative that will let you test the waters. It’s possible they could even set you up with a lon- ger-term option with some additional clauses to protect your interests and theirs in order to meet both parties’ needs, such as allowing for termination if your results do not meet certain pre- determined specifications. Always ask for an opt-out clause such as a two-week or 30-day notice to terminate without penalty which protects your company. QUESTION #2 WHAT AM I TRYING TO SAY? Mixed messages are one of the worst advertising mistakes you can make. Just because you have a lot to say does not mean you should say it all! This is a par- ticular issue for real estate investing com- panies, which frequently manage multiple facets of real estate investing and need to try to communicate all of their offerings in a limited amount of space. No matter how tempting it may be to “say it all,” you must narrow your message down to one key point. That message can be something as simple as
What’s the secret behind companies that boast they never pay for advertising? Effective marketing strategy, plain and simple.
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“Real Estate from A to Z” if you feel like that is the only acceptable message, but that one message will be far more effec- tive than four separate messages. If you have four separate and individual things to communicate with a potential custom- er and cannot compromise, you should have four different ad campaigns. The most effective and persuasive ad has one single point, and it is said powerfully. QUESTION #3 AM I BRANDING OR ASKING FOR ACTION? When you create a piece of promo- tional material, you will usually need to choose whether your goal is establishing an effective call to action (CTA) or is branding. Some real estate professionals try for both, but this usually becomes confusing (see Question 2). There are pros and cons for both options. A CTA drives the reader to make a decision and take action as a result of that decision. For example, if you operate a company that specializes in turning rentals and getting them ready for the next tenant, then you might have a CTA that says, “Call today to get total turn service for [a very cheap rate]!” The hope is your target market, landlords and property managers, will act immediately to snag the discount and, as a result, create rapid sales in high volumes. This often works for a short period of time and, as a result, is a favored strategy for some advertisers. The downfall to this specific CTA is that an advertiser must sell the product at a reduced price while still investing a significant amount of money in every campaign. These campaigns tend to be volatile, so sales will go up and down. Furthermore, people become immune to your “sale of the century” verbiage after a while, and it becomes nearly impossible to maintain the initial high levels of response over the long term.
Often, advertisers use CTAs to better effect by simply using them to elicit an action that initiates a relationship with a potential client, such as “Call Gertrude to schedule a consultation” or “Text RE- PORT to 12345 for a free report.” These CTAs allow you to collect additional information about a potential customer and begin building a rapport with them rather than necessitating an immediate, possibly discounted sale. The alternative to using a CTA is to work on establishing your brand using advertising. This is certainly a slower process but can be more lucrative over time – if you do it right. With the right message, consistency, and great customer service, people will come to you, trust you, and send others to you. Then when you decide to run a sale and use the call to action method, it will have better chances of success because you have put the brand equity into each customer. With the right message, consistency, and great customer service, people will come to you, trust you, and send others to you. I ask this question constantly. Real estate is an incredibly diverse sector, but often companies end up mirroring each other’s ads. Of any 100 companies, about 99 of them appear to be similar because their advertising appears simi- lar (or nearly identical). They are failing to separate themselves from the crowd, and it makes them hard to remember. Here are two of the most common mistakes people make when identifying their separator: 1 IF YOUR ANSWER IS “BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE,” TRY AGAIN. QUESTION #4 WHAT IS YOUR “SEPARATOR?”
makes your customer service the best. For example, “[Your issue resolved] in 24 hours or less” or “Never get an answering machine instead of a person.” 2 EXPERIENCE IS NOT ENOUGH. Another common answer relies on length of time in the business. However, there are a lot of companies out there with long track records. Just having stayed in business 20 years is not enough. Adjust that statement to describe what you were doing over the past two decades. For example, you might say, “20 years of cash-flowing turnkey real estate” or “Delivering profitable, full-service turnkey investments since 1997.” Once you have identified that specific separator that sets you apart, make it your calling card. Advertise a unique aspect and own it. Stick with it through- out your campaign and, in return, it will stick with your audience. If there are 100 companies that offer services that appear on the surface to be similar to yours, what makes your company stand out from the other 99? By answering these four questions and incorporating the resulting conclu- sions into your advertising and mar- keting strategies, you create a layer of defense against professional stagnation. You also create a situation in which your advertising is so far beyond your competitors’ that you no longer even feel that you are operating on the same > Continued on :: PG 112
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Rodney Halford is the vice president of media sales at Think Realty. He has nearly two decades experience in mar- keting and advertising consulting. He
Not only is this the most common answer out there, but it does not tell me anything. Instead, tell me what
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Bruce McNeilage is passionate about homeownership: “Education and growing wealth is so important. It’s our responsibility as investors and developers to try to reverse the downward trend in American homeownership.”
TO THEMISSION: STAYING TRUE The American Dream
Bruce McNeilage Creates Affordable Homes, Unique Opportunities, and Big Returns.
BY CAROLE VANSICKLE ELLIS PHOTOS BY L.M. PANE PHOTOGRAPHY
IFWE DO NOT REVERSE THE DOWNWARD TREND OF
HOMEOWNERSHIP, THAT COULD BE THE BIGGEST SOCIETAL FAILURE OF OUR GENERATION.”
BRUCE McNEILAGE CO-FOUNDER AND CEO OF KINLOCH PARTNERS, LLC
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Bruce McNeilage has always looked at real estate from an unconventional perspective. That perspective enabled him to pioneer build- to-rent developments after the housing crash and build affordable, in-demand condo developments today.
SOLO EAST CASE STUDY: A NEW FACE FOR HOMEOWNERSHIP
STARTER HOME: A relatively small, economical residence that meets the requirements of a first-time homebuyer. Usually, these properties appeal to younger buyers, but the aesthetic requirements for starter homes have changed as Millennial buyers often delay their first home purchase until they are in their 30’s.
W hen Bruce McNeilage invested in a 162-unit apartment complex in east Nashville, he soon realized that the investment was even better than he and had originally envisioned. He and his partner on that project, Rachael Franks, soon had revitalized the development and were in possession of a hot product in high demand: brand-new, truly af- fordable housing. Clearly, the only thing to do in this situation was build more and, instead of renting it to Millennial tenants who could not resist the location and amenities, sell it to first-time home- owners who believed themselves priced out of the American Dream. With that decision, the Solo East con- dominium development in east Nash- ville was born and McNeilage’s concept for providing accessible, affordable hous- ing to people buying at a moderate-in- come level expanded once again. “Here’s the thing about Nashville and about our national housing market as well: The areas of the country that are becoming hotbeds of real estate are leav- ing the ‘common man’ (or homeowner) out of the equation,” he said. “If the educators and public servants in your community cannot afford to live there, I don’t think your community can be considered truly successful.” As more and more of these people fall into the “young professional” and “Millennial” categories who have de- layed homeownership due to personal circumstance or preference, projects like Solo East become increasingly popular with buyers and investors. However, to succeed, a developer must know what their customers prefer and require in a residence. “It’s no longer breaking news that Millennials have been called a generation of renters for one particular reason: inflated real estate prices,” wrote Rentberry analyst
Oksana Tunikova earlier this year. She added, “When it comes to trending locations [for Millennials, often prime locations in major cities], choosing a condo is oftentimes the only housing option” should a resident wish to own instead of rent. Condo and apartment developments are likely to become more prevalent and more attractive to both buyers and investors in the future. In January 2016, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) published a report examining why Millennial buyers had not begun purchasing homes in the volumes many experts and analysts had predicted after “new mortgage programs and looser mortgage insurance require- ments” made their debut in early 2015. The report concluded that there would need to be “smaller homes at lower price points” without cork flooring and with granite countertops, “never laminate.” McNeilage understands the nature of the Millennial buyer
Solo East (below) is the only condo community in Nashville officially endorsed by Shark Tank investor and real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran.
This intense focus on serving the needs of tenants and potential buyers has led to some unique business decisions over the course of the past ten years. “My houses are always for sale to the tenants currently living in them,” said McNeilage. Kinloch Partners offers tenants the option to move to a month-to- month lease after one year of occupancy, promises tenants that they can literally “tear up their lease and buy the house tomorrow” if they like, and seldom, if ever, raises rents. “If someone is renting one of my houses, paying on time and treating that property the way I would treat it, then why would I want to ever sell that house out from under them or raise the rent? I would not want to change that relationship at any point!” said McNeilage adamantly. “One-third of my tenants stay about nine years. About one-third stay four or five years, and maybe a quarter move out after a year or two,” he estimated. “It’s very unlikely that once someone moves in, they can find a nicer rental than these new homes.”
instinctively in a way that few developers seem to. While the NAHB remains somewhat aloof from the resident, McNeilage is all empathy. “The aver- age Millennial isn’t even buying a house until their mid-30’s and in the mean- time, prices keep going up,” he said. “When owning is cheaper than renting, however, owning is pretty attractive. They see that equity – and the granite countertops, hardwood
“JUST ABOUT EVERYONE’S American Dream is to own their own single-family house. If they can’t own it, then they want to rent it,” says Bruce McNeilage, co-founder and CEO of Kinloch Partners, Kinloch Homes, LLC, and Harpeth Development, LLC. If you think his corporate titles are lengthy, wait until you see the trail McNeilage, a Michigan native who now divides his time between Nashville, Tennessee, and Atlanta, Georgia, has been blazing over the past decade. He and co-founder of Kinloch Partners, Christopher Zachary, describe their mission as “providing a path to homeownership for new homeowners through new construction, home
renovation, and investment in financially distressed real estate properties.” More simply put: McNeilage and Zachary have dedicated their past decade in business to one of the most underserved populations in housing, the starter-home buyers and would-be starter-home buyers. “We work hard to establish routes to ownership, but not everyone wants that. I find when my tenants either opt not to buy or simply never reach the point where they feel able, they stay a long time, creating a really profitable tenant. I will go out of my way to make it easy for them to stay right where they are, renting with me in one of the nicest rentals you could ever find, right up to the point where their needs change,” McNeilage said.
floors, and crown molding – and they start to think seriously about homeown- ership and equity, which is what they need to be doing.”
Immediately above, Gary Ashton of RE/Max Advantage in Nashville and Bruce McNeilage celebrate opening Solo East with project partner Rachel Franks, Barbara Corcoran, Steven Franks, and broker Debra Beagle (L-R).
CREATING OPPORTUNITIES OUT OF HOUSING AFFORDABILITY McNeilage and Zachary believe
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I t is certainly unusual to encounter a land- lord who is as big of a fan of the month- to-month lease as is Bruce McNeilage. Month-to-month leases renew at the end of each month, allowing both tenant and landlord to exit the agreement at the end of each month without breaking the lease. While most tenants like the idea of flexible end-dates on their tenancy, both landlords and tenants tend to view the inherent fluctuation of rental rates and the general uncertainty about length of occupation that accompanies a month-to-month agreement as a bit unsettling. Not McNeilage. “Because our goal is to give people the opportunity to first rent the Amer- ican Dream and then, ideally work toward owning it, month-to-month rental agreements are perfect for us,” he said. “If you rent a home from us, you can buy it whenever you want. We will tear up the lease and sell you the house tomorrow.” McNeilage generally offers his residents month-to-month renting options at the conclusion of a successful annual lease. McNeilage pioneered the “build-to-rent” business during the housing meltdown in the mid-2000s. He began buying houses at rock-bottom prices, fixing them up, and renting them out to homeowners who certainly could not afford to buy at the time but wished to live in an updated, essentially new home. Hedge funds routinely bought out his inventory during this time. In 2015, McNeilage sold his entire Nashville inventory to American Homes 4 Rent for a record-setting $9.63 million. “It really validated the business model,” he said, noting that Kinloch Partners has also been bought out in Atlanta, Georgia, “11 times in the past six-and-a-half years.” THE LAW OF ATTRACTION: WHY TENANTS AND LANDLORDS LOVE LUXURY AND MONTH- TO-MONTH LEASES
that creating opportunities for new households to purchase homes is not just an opportunity for profit in the development and rental sectors, but also an obligation. “For 60 years, the American Dream of owning your own home has been on the decline, and that is a very bad thing because the largest asset that most people will ever own “In my opinion, if we do not reverse the downward trend of homeownership, that could be our biggest societal failure of our generation,” he concluded. Kinloch Partners does not just talk the talk. They also walk the walk. For McNeilage opportunities that are sustainable for both the residents of the property and the owners of the developments. Sometimes, the residents become owners, and sometimes, McNeilage acknowledged, the residents simply have no desire to make that transition. In the latter situation, he gladly rents to those long-term tenants at affordable rates and on empathetic terms [see sidebar]. “I’m a provider of moderately priced housing. obtainable housing, whether that takes the form of single- family homes, condominium projects, or apartment complexes, and whether my customers ultimately choose to buy or rent. Either way, we’re providing housing that is usually completely out is their home,” explained McNeilage passionately. and Zachary, this means creating homeownership My job is to create and provide middle class,
of reach to our consumers, and that makes the concept of ownership more appealing,” he said. For example, in the Atlanta, Georgia, metro area, McNeilage and his company have purchased tens of millions of dollars in residential real estate since the housing crash. “I started buying rental houses that were brand new in 2005 and was renting them out en masse ,” McNeilage recalled. “I was six years ahead of the game, but I didn’t know then that I was a pioneer. Then major investment companies started doing what I had been doing and asking me to do it for them. They would rather buy 50 houses from me than buying one at a time off the MLS. That’s how I got started in the Southeast.” AFFORDABILITY & PROFITABILITY: A COMBINATION THAT JUSTWON’T QUIT Today, Kinloch Partners is still buying, building, and developing brand-new, high-end single-family rentals and even entire single-family rental communities in Atlanta and the surrounding metro area thanks to McNeilage’s foresight. “The business model works because we have a drive not just to grow in the cities where we currently operate and make ourselves money, but we also have a broader goal, to create opportunities for people to own their own homes in places where they otherwise might not have that chance.” Best of all, Zachary added, the two have the luxury of being in control of their mission. No one can “pull the strings” or tell the two what to do if they agree that their investing and development decisions serve their greater goals. Those goals look slightly different in Nashville, Tennessee, where McNeilage and a partner, Rachel Franks, first purchased what they describe as “a very out-of-favor, half-empty apartment complex” in 2011. The two updated the facilities, gated the community, and
(Above) This Atlanta-area home is just one of hundreds McNeilage has owned in the area. It is nearly new and highly affordable for the area. (Left) Bruce stands proudly in front of his then-unfinished inaugural build-to- rent house in the metro Atlanta area. spent the next year working hard to create “something the neighborhood would become proud of.” The project was such a success that he and Franks decided to erect a 100-unit affordable, high-quality condominium project, ultimately named Solo East [see sidebar on pg. 23], on the three acres adjacent to their now- attractive multifamily development. “It was a $25 million project in an area that was on the fringe of transition at that time,” recalled McNeilage, who was rejected outright by the first 15 lenders he approached for funding. When the sixteenth banker finally decided to fund the deal after encountering McNeilage and his well-worn presentation at a luncheon, the development quickly began to take shape. As it did so, local media and, not surprisingly, local Millennials took notice. The project garnered so much attention that when McNeilage’s development company, Harpeth Development, put the condos up for sale, they held the event at the Tennessee Titans’ Nissan Stadium in order to accommodate the crowd of eager buyers. “We sold 34 condos in two hours,” McNeilage said proudly. “Even during the second phase with a price increase we were still $50,000 less than any other pre-construction condo project in Nashville at that time.
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