Investing in NJ commercial real estate allows small business owners and doctors with high income to build and protect their wealth. As savvy investors with Peoples Capital Group break up their real estate portfolio into passive and active portfolios.
Peoples Capital Group has been helping passive investors build wealth in NJ real estate for 10 years. Visit www.PeoplesCapitalGroup.com to find out if you qualify to start earning passive income and pay less taxes via investing in real estate. IRA’s and 401K’s are accepted.
Aaron: All right, everybody, Aaron Fragnito here at the Passive Cash Flow podcast. We have some investors here. Roy here who has invested with Peoples Capital Group for a number of years.
Risha here who is his wife.
Aaron: Partner, and we are going to talk about how they invest with Peoples Capital Group and just real estate investing in general. We’re going to have some fun today. Remember guys peoplescapitalgroup.com so you can go for more information learn about what we do. All right, why did you start investing in real estate, Roy?
Roy: Risha and I were looking at our future, and we have investments in the stock market and 2008 happened to everyone. We just didn’t think it was where we wanted to put our trust and we believed in real estate. History says real estate is the way to go. We decided to start looking for a property just like that. Let’s try to get a property, rental property something we get started with. We did. Then we also wanted to educate ourselves, and we started listening to different podcasts, so what you’re doing here.
Roy: Then we learned about meetups and things like that and we branched out.
Aaron: Nice. I think we met at one of our meetups?
Roy: Meetups exactly.
Risha: Yes, meetups. We started going to meetups and realized this is a great way to connect with people and learn because we really just jumped into it not understanding fully what we’re getting into, and thinking we’re going to get cash flow and it’s going to be passive.
Roy: Yes, we just dove in. We quickly learned it’s not passive.
Risha: It wasn’t passive. It’s great. We still have those properties, but we needed to learn more and faster.
Roy: Made a lot of mistakes along the way, but we’re better for it.
Aaron: Absolutely, well, the mistakes is what make you greater as an investor, as a human being it builds character. I remember my pastor once told a story when I was a kid how he shot the basketball in the wrong hoop and lost the game for his team.
Aaron: His coach later told him, “Well, that builds character. That’s a good thing.” He said, “If that builds character then I don’t want any.”
There’s certainly been days in the real estate field I’m sure you felt that way. It is what it is. That’s interesting. You educate yourself and a lot of the gurus told you to go buy some multi-family homes.
Risha: Go big, buy more, buy more. It’s a lot of work. Roy has a full-time– He has a full-time job, and I’m self-employed.
Roy: We’ve changed over the years. It was some transition going on. We’re always adapting, which we have to do [crosstalk]
Roy: We wanted to educate ourselves. That’s why we wanted to go to meetups. Going to your meetup was a really good education meet. You gave a really good presentation by the way.
Aaron: Thank you.
Roy: I thought I like the direction you guys are going. You guys were where we wanted to be.
Roy: That’s what led me to look further into what you’re doing and perhaps investing, which I mentioned we did. Again, coming to a presentation here with a guy from the self-directed so I decided to go in that direction.
Risha: We wanted to get out of the stock market. It was like how do we do that?
Roy: This is truly passive for me. I put it up there and then you get the returns without doing any work.
Aaron: You don’t have to manage.
Roy: You do that.
Risha: Yes, that’s passive. It’s like, well, okay, let’s do that again.
Aaron: That’s great. That’s how it works. Reals are amazing when you can meet people and see what they’re doing and see what they’re doing with their company. It’s really cool. I think real estate when you try to be transparent like that, that’s what builds a lot of trust off of that. That product of the totally passive position, I did the same thing. I read a bunch of books from a bunch of gurus who make a ton of money selling books and CDs, and they said, “Yes, buy a bunch of real estate and manage it yourself or management company and you’ll get some nice passive cash.”
I remember I had my first five-family and I loaded up with TRA tenants. TRA tenants have six-month vouchers, and after that they have to supposedly started working or went to school and they get the voucher renewed. I found that about four out of five of the TRA tenants that didn’t go and do the next step so I had four out of five evictions in my first six months of ownership.
Risha: Oh my God.
Aaron: The bills came due, and I was like, now, I’ve realized don’t work with TRA tenants just. not a great fit for properties that I was trying to work with. That’s another character building lesson right there.
Roy: I guess for the listeners because I don’t know what a TRA tenant is maybe you could explain.
Aaron: Temporary rental assistance is what TRA stands for.
Risha: That’s different than Section 8?
Aaron: Completely different, yes, Section 8 is much better. Section 8 you have a check that comes in every month from the government and it goes on for years and years and years as long as you pass the annual inspection, and that could be a pain in the neck a lot of times to pass that depending on the type tenure you have as well and how many people are living in the unit.
If you have good tenants and the units are not beaten up, then June you pass the inspection every year and then the money keeps coming. Section 8 can be for life, federal Section 8 is for life. As far as a landlord standpoint, that’s a much stronger tenant than a TRA tenant.
Roy: Are these immigrants so temporary before they get established?
Aaron: I’m not even sure. I found actually most of them just to be general people who live below the poverty line coming out of shelters. TRA is the next step from a shelter.
Roy: Got you.
Aaron: If you were in a shelter whether you’re a citizen or an immigrant, I think– I think every city has probably different rules on that. You can get TRA pretty easily. The bar to get it I think is lower than Section 8. People to get Section 8 there’s a much more to go through much more paperwork, the waiting process. When it’s finally obtained, I think it’s more value by the tenant, where TRA is really handed out a little bit more. It’s really just to help people get off their feet. It’s a good thing. It’s a really good thing.
As a landlord you have to understand if you’re going to accept TRA tenants, it’s really something you’re going to do out of your heart more so than your wallet. It depends. Working with investors, it wasn’t the right fit for our buildings. We have to have good long-term leases and good long-term tenants. I learned that one the hard way for sure, absolutely.
Risha: Well, I think that you were saying helping people get on their feet and stuff, and I think that’s another reason why we got into real estate was because we– I’m an interior designer by trade and that’s my business. I love improving spaces. It was also exciting to be able to go into a space, create value to it to give a beautiful space for someone to come in and live, and them wanting to be there, attracting tenants that want to take care of the space. That was also a big point for investing.
Roy: We wanted to add value and really make the tenants enjoy our homes and want to take care of it because they come into it coming from someplace that maybe wasn’t well-kept. When we bought it, it wasn’t well-managed, it wasn’t well-kept. We gave them personal washers and dryers, for example, gave everybody their own personal parking space and just nice kitchens and things like that. We found was tenants really up kept it. We would go to do little things and we’re like, “This place looks really good, they’ve been taking good care of it.” That approach has worked out for us.
Aaron: Well, if you give tenants a good quality of life, a good place to live, then they’ll have pride of ownership. We look for buildings that don’t have that, that are mismanaged. They’re out there. You just have to do the marketing, get in touch with the owner and convince them to sell to you for a reasonable price. It’s not easy to look at 400 deals to do one of them.
Risha: One, yes.
Aaron: When you find that diamond in the rough, the tenants are happy. They’re willing to pay a little bit more for a better quality of life.
Risha: A nicer place to live.
Aaron: Safer, quieter, smells better.
Aaron: The things work consistently. When things break, we get them fixed quickly.
Risha: Great response and stuff like that.
Aaron: The better you manage the property, the better the tenants you’re going to attain, and then the better your property is going to just grow in value over time. It’s like a community really, especially for bigger properties.
Risha: Well, it is. It creates a community and that just grows from– Not only are you just improving the building, but you’re improving the area around it, you’re adding a lot of value.
Roy: We’ve gotten good responses from the neighbors. They’re friendly and they want our numbers, and if anything goes wrong, they say we’ll let you know because they know we don’t live there. That’s another plus of taking care of your place and making them feel like you’re a good owner, and they invite you in their neighborhood. There was even a case where the neighbors bid on a property we ended up winning. Initially, they weren’t too happy with us getting that, but seeing what we were doing and seeing the kind of people we brought in they really warmed up to us and we’re a great family at the moment, so all pluses.
Aaron: That’s really what I love about our job, buying real estate and figuring out the problems with it. Overall, you’re improving a community, you’re improving a neighborhood. We’ll buy buildings from drug dealers and then people that are just really bringing down the area and the building and people will thank us that kids in the building. Moving your family out of the building or trying to find a sacred place, especially in a lot of inner-city areas there’s not a lot of options, you can’t afford or your Section 8 tenant. You can’t necessarily move to a fancy place with a Section 8 vouchers. You’re really limited on your options and you’re stuck with buildings that may have drug dealers in them, and that’s a dangerous place for kids lives.
It’s definitely a responsibility you have as a landlord to maintain a quality of life. I think when you do that, hopefully the landlord next to you sees that and next to you, ideally in a perfect world we’d like to.
Risha: It does do that. It is, because that’s the only thing that really motivates, and you see that development house-by-house, block by block, because it’s a valuable investment not just for the people living there but for the people who own it.
Aaron: It’s tangible. When you buy a stock, you’re buying some forward stock whatever, it’s a number on a screen. Ford doesn’t really make more cars or hire more people because you invested some money. At the end of the day it does help businesses but publicly traded businesses you don’t see the tangible effects of it at all. It is really nice for people to say, “Hey, my IRA’s at work and in that building or doing this, or whatever investments you have.”
Risha: The investment that Roy has with you is actually local one in Jersey.
Roy: I like that I can drive up to my investment and say, “There it is. I own X percentage of that building.”
Aaron: That’s pretty cool as well with Berkeley Heights.
Risha: Which is tough to do in this state, find those properties.
Aaron: That’s the hardest part of our job, is finding the good deals. When we finally find a good investment opportunity, the money’s usually raised pretty quickly. The hardest part is really finding the property and then just we’ll talk to owners for years. We’ll be in conversation with them building a relationship and just like any transaction in business, you have to earn it and earn the person’s trust and then they might give it to someone else too, they might hire a broker down the street. It’s always a challenge but it’s just this market especially is super hard to find good deals.
I think that’s one of our biggest challenges now. Risha I know you’re out there looking at deals. Any tips from your end of the business?
Risha: Looking at deals, I know, it’s just looking at a lot of deals and really trying to figure out how to make that deal work because everybody thinks they’re sitting on a goldmine. We were just looking at a deal down near the shore in Neptune and the current owner is saying, “Yes, it’s making so much cash, it’s great.” We’re looking at this, it was a dumb. This whole place had to be totally renovated, they needed thousands of dollars of work and he’s like, “I got solar up there I’ve put in.”
It’s like, “Yes, but the place.” It was like being a slumlord. He was asking too much and we think we got to put in all this, there’s just no way. It’s not worth it. Funny thing was that six months later, actually a year later he has done these mega renovations on it because–
Roy: He called us back, he want us to go look at it again.
Risha: Because he realized like there is just no way.
Aaron: Problem’s now he’s going to want a lot more money.
Risha: Now he wants a lot more money, that’s right but at least what he was asking for it before it wasn’t even close. At least he’s a little closer now.
Aaron: He’s in the same ballpark.
Risha: You don’t have to go and put $150,000 into a $200,000 property, it’s crazy.
Aaron: The one of Berkeley Heights we found was really, I think a diamond in the rough. It was definitely one of our better deals we’ve ever found. We knew the owner who was also a broker so we would be in touch with him about just listings he had and then we called him up. Seth would call our brokers and owners just every four, five months say, “Hey, how you doing and how are things going. We’re still churning and burning here. You got anything good?” He said, “Yes, I’m selling my own property. I’m going to list it in a few days.” We say, “Hold off, let’s come look at it, let’s make you an offer.”
We went there, we negotiated a little bit over the next week and a half or so. It was funny because he actually owns his own brokerage so he has the means to really move this for top dollar and appraised for about two million. I think we bought it for 1.7. We really got good 300,000 off the market value off-the-bat. Then of course it has the zoning change over to fair market housing in six years, which is going to be just a phenomenal investment over the next few years with this property.
Risha: I think it’s those relationships, it’s really the relationship and getting people to want to do business with you. I just find that in my own business from my interior design business, that’s it it’s getting my clients trust and then even us going up to look at deals and we’re talking to homeowners and et cetera. A lot of it is the people aren’t trusting, they’ve met us one time, two times but it’s continuing like every three months, call them back up, talk to them again.
Roy: Being consistent, proving that you’re for real. Going to that, when you talk about relationships, for me when we got into this initially I was like, “Well, let’s just go find some properties, invest and we’ll make some money.”
Risha: We’re still willing to do that.
Roy: We’ll do it on an island, we’ll just do our own thing. Going to meetups and meeting people and building those relationships, I found out how important that is, and putting your name out there and getting to know who’s who. I feel a tremendous amount of trust for your business, for example, we have that relationship. Now I learned, and I think there’s other people out there listening who maybe a little bit like me who just want to just do a thing and forget about everybody else but it is all about relationships and connecting with the right people.
Aaron: Absolutely. You got to like who you do business with, you got to trust them, they have to show you integrity in a couple different ways before. IRA is hard earned money, that’s a very important thing, it’s a retirement account. I understand the gravity of working with people’s IRAs and just cash, whatever the investment is. Each dollar, I work very hard for my dollars as you do as well. When someone invests in me, because really they’re investing in me, they’re investing in people’s company but it’s the person you’re investing in. It’s a personal compliment. The other side of the coin, is think when someone doesn’t invest in you, it’s like personal, but there could be a million reasons.
Risha: There’s always a million reasons, timing. Time and circumstance, a week later circumstance could be totally different, a month later that’s really what it is, it’s just from a circumstance. I think that’s part of the building relationship, is just being there at the right time, the right place and that’s just always being their top-of-mind so that when they make a decision or when you’re looking for that property name, that person, just like the broker that you met just happened to be thinking, you have the relationship.
You’ve been going on and talking and then all sudden it was like, you happen to be there at the right time. It’s not a flash in the pan, “I’ll get there, I’m going to make the deal and get out.” It’s not that.
Roy: Doesn’t work that way.
Aaron: Absolutely. Do you guys have any tips or anything you want to throw out there, things you want to let the people know about that are listening to the Passive Cash Flow Podcast?
Roy: Yes. Educate yourself. There are so many options out there. Number one is read books, podcasts, webinars, videos, all that stuff.
Risha: Webinars, meetups. I host a meetup for women who want to invest in real estate and I have somebody different come up every month.
Roy: She won’t let me come to her meeting. I’m her brother. Which I can do, I’ve got a really good Halloween costume. I got the dress, I have heels.
Aaron: Now you can get really discounted Halloween costumes. Now is the time to buy Halloween costumes.
Risha: I’m on meetup, which is a woman who want to invest in real estate, that’s the meetup group although everybody says it’s difficult to find, I don’t know why. It’s down Menlo Park Mall, we’re right outside there at Panera Bread every third Wednesday of the month. Maybe the best way right now is through my interior design business, Walden Interiors which is walden-interiors.com because it really is everything possible.
Aaron: Of course you need interior design.
Risha: I’m here too.
Aaron: There you go.
Roy: It comes in handy when you’re doing a reno and have got her talents, excellent.
Aaron: Awesome stuff. All right guys, well thanks for watching and the another episode here of the Passive Cash Flow Podcast. Our website is peoplescapitalgroup.com. As you know, we work at passive investors and you’ve met a couple here today. If you have any questions, go to our website, peoplescapitalgroup.com. Shoot us an email at infopeoplescapitalgroup.com as well. If you want to come on the podcast or you’re a fellow investor of ours, you work with people’s Capital Group, shoot us a line and we’ll see if maybe we can get you on the show. Have a good day.
Aaron has been helping people invest in Real Estate for over 10 years. He is a Co-Founder of Peoples Capital Group (PCG) a real estate investment and holding company. He is a full time real estate investor, as well as, the host of the New Jersey Real Estate Network and host of the Passive Cash Flow Podcast. Aaron has previously completed over 100 real estate transactions as a realtor and another 150 transactions in his current role as a real estate investor.