The SFR Show
The SFR Show
Nov 19, 2022
The largest risk that one has is being an employee, with Neil Timmons
Play • 27 min

Being only an employee leaves you vulnerable to the ups and downs of the market. Real estate investing is one powerful defense against job loss and economic downturns. In this episode, Neil Timmons provides insight into the real estate business and shares his experience with overcoming economic adversity to secure a robust financial position.

Neil Timmins is the CEO of Legacy Impact Partners, where they invest in real estate opportunities ranging from houses and apartments to industrial and medical offices. In 2021 Neil published his first book, Unicorn Hunting for Real Estate Investment Companies: How to Easily Attract, Screen, and Land a Unicorn. The book is tailored to helping real estate investors find and retain top talent through the strategic systemization of hiring. Neil also hosts his own podcast, “Real Grit” where he pulls back the curtain on real estate investing through interviews with industry titans. “Real Grit” provides listeners with the tools they need to secure their lasting real estate legacy!

 

Episode Links:

https://legacyimpactpartners.com/

https://legacyimpactpartners.com/podcast/

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Transcript

Before we jump into the episode, here's a quick disclaimer about our content. The Remote Real Estate Investor podcast is for informational purposes only, and is not intended as investment advice. The views, opinions and strategies of both the hosts and the guests are their own and should not be considered as guidance from Roofstock. Make sure to always run your own numbers, make your own independent decisions and seek investment advice from licensed professionals.

 

Michael:

What's going on everyone? Welcome to another episode of the Remote Real Estate Investor. I'm Michael Albaum and today with me I have Neil Timmins, who is an author, a podcast host, entrepreneur, real estate investor and he's gonna be talking to us about going from an agent and employee to building a significant business in the real estate space and what it takes to do so. So let's get into it.

 

Neil Timmons what is going on, man, welcome to the podcast. Thanks so much for taking the time to come hang out with me today.

 

Neil:

Good. It's so good to see you again. I appreciate the invite. Looking forward to this for some time now.

 

Michael:

No, likewise, the pleasure is mine. I'm super excited. So you and I of course know each other. We were chatting offline just before we hit record. But for anyone who doesn't know Neil Timmins, give us the background quick and dirty. Who you are, where you come from, and what is it you're doing real estate.

 

Neil:

High level out of Des Moines, Iowa, born and raised, started as a residential real estate agent built a built a brokerage there on to REMAX for a number of years was a top REMAX guy with my 20s and then eventually found my way stumbled into investing worked my way through single family investing, we still do a little today but morphed into commercial investing. And that's a primary focus today.

 

Michael:

Love it and I hear this this theme so often with agents start as an agent, got my teeth cut, then went into the investment side. My guess if you're a top performing agent, in your local market, you're making a lot more money on an annual basis than you would if you're investing. So why did you make that transition? Why'd you make that jump?

 

Neil:

Yeah, no good question. Well, the not so fun story is I was probably 31 ish at the time. Maybe 32, I came home one day to my wife of a decade in our three little kids, all about five or younger, and my wife had them all packed up and said she was leaving, leaving for good. I had spent the better part of seven years or so working like a dog every day of the week, I worked. My second year in real estate, it worked 355 days. So that business was built, ultimately, you know, I was able to put his team in place and that business, but it largely was built on my back and my effort and so it was at that point that, you know, I had an ultimatum and I begged and pleaded with her to go, you gotta give me give me an opportunity. I understand. So give me an opportunity. She did thank God. 45 days later, I sold my REMAX and took a whole bunch of time off to decide, well, how am I going to how am I going to do this? How am I going to make a living in contribute because I like doing what I was doing and not the not to the degree in which I did it. But I enjoyed real estate a lot, right? The people, all the fun things around it. So it took some time off to evaluate things and then ultimately plugged back in largely on the investment side.

 

Michael:

And today you own a business around the real estate investing space. Tell us about that.

 

Neil:

Yeah. So I own a couple of things. On the on the investment side of things. We're primarily focused on commercial investing, right, we buy by multiple asset classes, you're on a primary ladder, Des Moines, Iowa, we still do fix and flip in the office. Although I'm not largely involved, we've got a nice little machine that runs that really good. Contractor base in place, literally same contractor. Don't quote me on how many but we've done probably nearly 200 with the same exact crew. So it makes running things and the efficiencies there of all awfully simple. I love talking to people going you know what I don't like flipping because then I gotta go pick the carpet, I gotta pick the paint whatever else I'm like, What do you mean, you have to do that we picked it once. It's the same carpets, the same paint, same countertops, the same appliance, nothing, nothing changes. You're not doing a whole block of these things. It's not like anybody notices. You just pick it once yeah and so then also, I run an education business, which we launched this year, which has been very well received from folks who want to make that bridge want to leap into commercial real estate and, you know, figure it out either how to do their first deal or how to do their next deal.

 

Michael:

And I'm curious, Neil, because I also come from the education space, and the folks that you're working with, are they the DIYers or are they the folks that have heard of commercial and want to get exposure to it in some form or another are a mix of the two?

 

Neil:

Yeah, no, it's really DIYers. Yeah, that's not largely the passive investors, if you will, it's people who are active in real estate like, like using… if you will, you know, in my career was it just laid out you know, as well cradle to grave if you will, coming through I'd like if you were to go, how should someone progress? Although most don't do that, you know, they end up in one thing and often stick there, but I kind of work my way through that. Is this constant evolution of how do we elevate oneself and one skill set to take it to a to a new level and that's where these folks are they know they've done, they've done single family, they've largely been exposed to it, maybe they've been exposed a little commercial, but just haven't gotten to the results. They haven't they haven't been on a foundation, a legacy had been on a foundation of financial freedom and, you know, arguably, in mice that that commercial gets you there faster and easier.

 

Michael:

And within commercial because it is such a diverse asset class and really name where do you see folks going that are having the most success?

 

Neil:

Oh, good question there. You know, we bring people in, and we do a lot of things from a training standpoint, want to be in an asset class exercise to go alright, well, fill this little asset class matrix out, we have my hand if answer a handful of questions to go, you know, do you resonate better? Would you rather work with people or businesses, and we just bring them through a series of questions, and that lines it up to go well, top to bottom ranked, we focus on six level six largest asset classes, there's top to the bottom, here's what here's what it looks like and then my encouragement from there is, Listen, if number two resonates a whole lot better with you than number one on that list, that's what you should do, because it's just easier and you know, this, if we were to go work on something you can get passionate about, it's a whole lot simpler, then put a little more effort into it and something you're just like, huh, maybe?

 

Michael:

Totally, totally and, you know, I'm curious, so many folks, I think can go invest in single family on the side as a project as a test as an experiment, the DIYers that are doing commercial real estate, are they doing it on the side? Are they really jumping in with both feet, kind of like you did, and making this their full time gig?

 

Neil:

Yep, great question most are doing on the side, most are either stacking it on to their single family business or, you know, if they've got a day job and several folks do is they're doing this, you know, in the evenings, nights and weekends, side hustle, if you will and you think about you know, from makeup, a number of you were to go market to single family or markets or commercial just by being in commercial, the number of available prospects has been largely diminished. It's a much more manageable group of makeup, an asset class, let's say self-storage, you're going to go market self-storage is in your county, well, in comparison to houses, it is a mere fraction. So your ability to call text or you know, mail somebody or connect with a broker, perhaps it's very manageable. You don't have to do it full time. In fact, that would not encourage it, because you're gonna sit around, you're gonna get discouraged. Because there's candidly not enough to do versus the single family side, you could always find something to do.

 

Michael:

Interesting. Talk to us about kind of the exits and the thought process around the exit from that business. Because in my mind, and I think in a lot of other investors’ minds, a house is a house is a house, you know what it is? I know what it is everybody on the street, you know, that you bump into knows what it is, and knows how to buy it, versus a self-storage unit. I could maybe Name one person that I know that's involved in that business and so if I'm trying to sell it, who's gonna buy it?

 

Neil:

Yep, no, exactly. So that's, you know, what I do on the training side is bring people through, even if you know, largely set some goals, understand why you want to be in this business, and perhaps what you'll do get through the training go, I don't want to be in the business. And that's okay, too. That's okay because what you don't know or what you what you now know, empowers you, right? To make a better decision about what the path you should be going down. So we bring people through that large infusion for retraining to expose them to what this world looks like, and then how to, you know, identify an asset class that really resonates with you how to price something up, how do we get leads, so largely from a marketing standpoint, from a lead standpoint, what do we say then? How do we value it? How do we actually put something a price to it to go alright, this looks like a potential really good deal, then how do we put it under contract and then from there, you know, the exit plans largely are or we get to resell the property. Occasionally, we get a property that comes in our wheelhouse, what I call, it's not our perfect seller, so it's a good deal, just not for us. Now, can we move that along, so to liken that to single family wholesale it double close it novated right, do all the same things in the commercial side or, you know, we decide, hey, this is our perfect seller with the property we want to own. So how do we how do we close it up or we get to raise equity? How do we go get debt and then how do we bring the whole thing together to properly manage it? So that's what we show folks how to do and ultimately starts you know, on the front end of the process to go Alright, how are we buying this because I know what our required returns are and if it doesn't hit that I'm that's gonna lead us down a different path to either go it's either a non-deal or we're gonna get this moved along to another investor and cash up the big check that we can utilize for the next year.

 

Michael:

Yeah, that makes a ton of sense and you use the term that I'm not frankly familiar with novate. What does that mean?

 

Neil:

Novation is that this has become very popular on the single family side. So there's a lot of buzz on the single family side, especially for those in the wholesaling business. Okay, it is to replace one contract with one another with another contract. So essentially, if I was to, you know, say, for example, I was to buy a property from Mr. Jones, I have a contract in place with Mr. Jones, I decided I want to move this property along under innovation process, you would then provide me a contract that would replace mine, there's typically a difference in pricing, right, you're gonna pay more than what I've just paid and that delta ultimately gets paid back to me. As part of the process. I'm high level in here. There's some moving pieces but high level?

 

Michael:

Yeah, okay okay. Great to know. Neil, I'm curious if we can zoom out for a little bit, because you went from realtor agent, which is a kind of a unique profession and that, yes, you are an employee, but also you are kind of the business owner, your own of your own little business, your own little domain, and then you went and put a team in place, and then you ultimately sold that business. But for so many people that are employees in a traditional nine to five w two employee position to make the transition from employee to business owner, I think is a big leap for a lot of people. What was that like for you mentally going from? I'm going to be an agent to now I'm going to start and run and operate a business.

 

Neil:

Yeah, no good question in it. I think that's, it comes in incremental gains, right. So how do you how do you elephant, right, one piece at a time and so the same thing occurred from me mentally and I think that is? It's a terrific question because I think so much of this business, in business in general is mental, right? It's a six inch game in between your ears and so how do you combat that I read a book when I was probably 20 to 23 years old. The Millionaire Mind by Dr. Thomas Stanley. He wrote The Millionaire Next Door, that's probably his most famous book, The Millionaire Mind was incredible and it broke it down to, you know how millionaires think and my thought process, of course, is well, if you just think like a millionaire eventually, and then, therefore, act and operate like a millionaire, I will eventually become one, right. So it's not it's not hard success leaves clues. So there was a lot of things in there that that impacted me at a very deep level and one of them, the biggest takeaway for me was, the largest risk that one has is being an employee. They can let you go any day of the week, this is what I came to believe in, it's still my operating beliefs today are just risky, if you have no control and I, I am well aware that as a business owner, as an operator, as a real estate investor, we take tremendous risk. There's no doubt about it but I still think they pale in comparison to putting all eggs in one basket, men have an employer of someone else.

 

Michael:

Yeah, it makes total sense. So as you started moving things along, and created and formed and founded your business, how did you figure out who the right people were to put on the proverbial bus because I think, again, so many people have either a great idea, and they're really good at maybe doing that one thing. But doing that one thing isn't a business and so how do you scale it and have a proper functioning, running operational business?

 

Neil:

Yeah, no, great question and that's, that's probably, if I was to attribute any of our success over the course of last three ish years, two and a half years, somewhere in that range, we've had significant success in that period of time, it's largely been correlated to my evolution as a leader, knowing that the only way forward is ultimately with and through other people. And so I've had a focus internal so go back to a question you just asked earlier, from a mental attitude of taking that leap. For me, it's how do I develop as a leader how to become a better a better person, somebody that people look up to somebody that people want to be around, so many people want to listen to, and, and be on the same bus with going rowing in the same direction and so that has largely, that's been a big focus over the course the last couple of years. When I was at a spot where he's gone, it's time to grow. You can't hire and retain a player's unicorns as I call them. You can't hire and retain unicorns if you're not one. So how do you how does one improve their personal self to be able to get to that level? That other a players want to be around?

 

Michael:

Yeah, that makes total sense. So what it what did you do? Can you open the vest a little bit, let us peek under the curtain…

 

Neil:

Yes, you know, it's, I wish there was a silver bullet here, but it's largely just been, you know, what do they say what's mentionable is manageable and for me, it's just having that Cognizant thought that okay, well, now, I'm mindful of this and so now I need to give thought to this. How do I say things how do I handle things? How do I handle certain situations? What is the impact when making this isn't with an employee or with a team or with a customer in front of folks, how's this gonna resonate? What does this look like and then having the vision as a leader, as any leader, doesn't any organization, that vision to go, where are we going and this isn't about me, this is about us and so oftentimes you'll hear me say, we did this, I almost, you know, I try very hard to say that 100% of time, I didn't do anything. We did this collectively, all the results are collective right. It is us together and that reading, continuing to stay focused on that, stay ahead of what's transpiring, trying to, you know, hosting a podcast being around other people like yourself, other people in the industry having an understanding what's going on. So been trying to be on that curve from a knowledge base standpoint about what's transpiring that's helpful, too.

 

Michael:

Yeah, yeah. I love that and asking for a friend. I hate people and I don't think I want to interview people and screen people and that sort of thing. Does that mean that I shouldn't start a business with my great idea?

 

Neil:

The first part is I don't like people. So let's just call that the introverted, right? They don't want to interact with other people. My right hand gal is an introvert. She's not very gregarious as it relates to people. She's very good with people. But she wants to she's far more task oriented about how do we execute on what we're doing? I think that's terrific and now, what hadn't you hire her because she's the Yang, right? It's Ying and yang. She complements me in a perfect opposite fashion and I do the same thing. The other way around. Yeah, it's, I think that's terrific. I think it's wonderful, if you can, what you just expressed was, you know who you are, if you know who you are, you can identify a path forward and I would encourage you absolutely. Knowing what your deficiencies are is wonderful. We're all we're all given strengths someplace, just balance this balance your weakness with somebody else. Don't try to what are the what don't master in the weaknesses, right? So anytime we have a weakness here in anybody, you know, largely for me, it's going just don't do it. Don't master in the minors, because at the end of the day, you're still going to be a d minus for you, no matter how good you get at your weakness focus on your A's.

 

Michael:

Yeah. Oh, that's such a good expression. I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say, oh, I wanted to visit with my best friend. We're so similar that I'm like, that doesn't sound like a good partnership.

 

Neil:

Sounds like sounds like a great bar and I but not a good business decision.

 

Michael:

Yeah, I know. Totally, yeah right.

 

Neil, if we zoom back into the commercial side of real estate coming from the single family space, what is it that you see is the biggest hurdle of barrier to entry for folks that want to make that leap into commercial but utilize someone such as yourself to help them get there?

 

Neil:

You'll never guess us? Are you ready for this?

 

Michael:

I hope so.

 

Neil:

I know, you're it's a mental barrier. It's all made up in their head. It's they don't think they can't. Yeah, but they don't think that that is it because past that, the ability to go well, okay. Well, if you've ever let me let me liken it to single family. A duplex is like a single family rental house, right? It's just two doors and the numbers change a little bit? Well, a 20 packs is the same thing. There's largely, there's not much difference in these things you're adding some zeros are calculated a little differently, but it's pretty much the same. In fact, management, in my opinion, gets easier. The more doors you have, right, you get professional management, you get it, it becomes simpler. Yeah and then to make a change to go into some other asset class, we just have to make a bridge. What does that look like? They have to go to an industrial buildings on a triple net lease, which is probably the simplest thing to calculate and get one's head around when you're going, well, they just pay a lease rate, and then they fix all the stuff that goes wrong with it, right? That's it your true and your true and why is the rent, we've got multiple properties like that and we're the management company, which means we just get the rent and never hear Yeah.

 

Michael:

Yeah, that's by far the easiest piece of property in my portfolio is triple net.

 

Neil:

Yes, correct. But people are, you know, we're scared about what we don't know and that's true of all of us, right? We're scared about what we don't know, afraid to make mistake, which is totally understandable and so we just help folks, we educate them as we go answer questions as we go and show them the exact path to be able to get from, you know, I want to learn more about commercial real estate, I'd love to be able to buy a deal to actually get to a close.

 

Michael:

That's awesome. And I'm curious, Neil, what's your favorite asset class and why?

 

Neil:

My favorite asset class, although I own I'd have to calculate up four or five different asset classes, but my favorite today is going to be industrial.

 

Michael:

Industrial why is that?

 

Neil:

Yeah, industrial is in demand like crazy. Secondly, in 2021, had the second largest rent increase across all asset classes, only trailing two apartments. But in comparison to apartments, they're far easier to manage, right, I get a triple net deal, or a double no deal, there isn't much to do, there's very few moving pieces you end up with, on average, let's say a five year to 10 year lease is pretty straightforward.

 

Michael:

Okay. So if I'm playing devil's advocate here, and we're looking at this industrial building, this is suited only for a business. This is not for people can't come live here and the type of business you might have to build to suit it out for that particular business 5-10 years down the road, that might be a future Neal problem. But let's drive down that path that tenant leaves goes out of business, what have you economy turns? If businesses aren't doing well, in the area, are you stuck with this vacant building now?

 

Neil:

100%. If businesses are doing well in the area, meaning they're laying off or not employing people, my thesis is you still have you still have an apartment problem relative to occupancy and or rent rates. This goes back to earlier question is, admittedly, we have to take a risk someplace, right? It's just my comfort level and I like the box, you know, not a somehow engineering building has been added on to or defined for one, one person's exact use, I like a big giant box, just a rectangle, that's it, a business of multiple businesses come into that and fill it out in which way they want to. So like the fact that if I can buy my, my preferred buying is for buying some older not buying brand new stuff, buying some older buying something with a value add or on buying at a discount of some managers, the intent is to buy it correctly. And if I can buy a property, let's call it make up a number right now 70 to $80, a square foot brand new construction is gonna be 120 to 130 a square foot, I think I'm in pretty good shape over the course of coming years, I think that my dollars, and my rent rates get pulled up to the fact that sheer cost of new construction is gonna be 60% higher.

 

Michael:

All right, I dig it, I dig it and for anyone, I'm just realizing now, some of our listeners might not be familiar with the term double net triple net lease, can you give us a quick definition of what it is?

 

Neil:

Yeah, it just defines what people pay for double net, for example, is probably one of the least likely terms that use but let's say triple net triple net means ultimately that the tenant pays for everything, there may be some nuances inside the lease, but taxes, insurance, repairs maintenance, the tenant pays for that. So if your releases 100 grand a year, your net is 100 grand a year before, before your mortgage, any sort of debt payment you have on it. A double net means they don't pay for everything they pay for perhaps taxes and insurance, but not all the repairs and all the maintenance, and therefore your NOI is gonna be a little lighter, depending on what you have to maintain and pay for.

 

Michael:

Okay, perfect and I'm sure some of our listeners are hearing that and thinking like, this is the best thing since sliced bread. I'm gonna go put all of my single family homes and all my apartments on Triple Net leases. Why is it only a thing that's been heard of in the commercial space?

 

Neil:

Yeah, no good question. You know, to liken it to single family, you're like lease with an option or a contract sale, that's probably the closest thing you get to a triple net in the in the single family house side, right? So you kind of contract sale, somebody that mean that contract buyer is now responsible for everything associated with that house, right? That's what it looks like. If you look at the closest thing, there's some differences there. Obviously, a contract sale into a down payment interest rate. That's not the same as a triple net lease on the industrial side but that's probably the easiest way to liken it to single family.

 

Michael:

Yep. Yeah, that makes total sense and for anyone listening, like Neil mentioned, it's just the cap rate is like the easiest thing ever in the Analyze easy thing ever, you got a million dollar building cap rate 6% they're paying 60 grand a year, then bam, boom, end of discussion. You're not paying taxes, you're not paying insurance, you know, capex and maintenance. So you can calculate your true return, and then look to calculate what your debt service payments gonna look like and determine what your return looks like after that, versus the traditional single family rental or apartment or traditional residential space. They pay you a set fixed amount, the rent, and then you have to go figure out the taxes, insurance, repairs, maintenance, capex, that sort of thing.

 

Neil:

So hey, just because I like it or you know, in other investors likes something else doesn't mean it's right. There's only what's right for you.

 

Michael:

Yeah, yeah. I love it. Neil, this has been so much fun, man. I want to be very respectful of your time. Let's get you out of here. But before we go, like where can people reach out to you find out more about you continue the conversation if they're interested?

 

Neil:

Yeah, no, great question. Well, if you want to learn more about commercial real estate getting rich in what I call the 20x niche, why do I call it that? Well, because our target internally is to produce in a monthly return that's 20 times that of us Single Family return so we're scaling up largely is just go to my website give you a free download free report just you can learn more about the industry getting into commercial. So www dot legacy impact partners forward slash gift JF T legacy impact partners Ford slash gift: https://legacyimpactpartners.com/

 

Michael:

Right on thank you so much and before I let you go I mean I'm not gonna let you out of here without mentioning your podcast you're also the host of a podcast was that was a you're kind enough to have me on what is that called and what can people expect to hear on it?

 

Neil:

Real grit is the name of it it's about the trials tribulations anybody from real estate. So we talked about single family talking about commercial talk about everything in between. But really, so that we fully admit that you know, life isn't all about Lambos and big houses on cash and checks and everything on Facebook that or social media wherever you'd see it right? That there's ups and downs there's, there's we have to go through stuff and many times to be able to find our own personal success and so we talk through that and people's personal stories and how they got there because all bunch people, they get their different ways and it's really exciting. It's, we get into some really interesting, very dynamic conversation a lot of fun, love it. You and I had a great conversation.

 

Michael:

I had a ball. I had a ball.

 

Neil:

It was a blast, man.

 

Michael:

Awesome. Well definitely go check out that podcast, real grit, a lot of fun, really cool stuff going on there. Neil, thank you again. Any final words thoughts for our listeners?

 

Neil:

No, you're going to find me you know, like I shared it though the website I'm also on all the all the social media platforms. Facebook's the best place to find me Neil Timmins, or there are many Amin just spell it right you got me

 

Michael:

Right on, many thanks again. Appreciate you, see you soon. Bye.

 

Neil:

Bye, bye.

 

Michael:

All right, well, that was our episode. A big thank you to Neil for coming on the show. Really, really interesting stuff that Neil's been through seen and experienced. As always, if you enjoyed the episode, we'd love to hear from you with a rating or review wherever it is get your podcast, and we look forward to seeing on the next one. Happy investing…

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