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Grit and Strategy in Real Estate

Updated: 4 days ago


Zachary is an Amazon Best-Selling Author of The New Rules of Real Estate Investing and co-host of the Smart Real Estate Coach Podcast. He is a Partner, COO, and Coach at Smart Real Estate Coach. In September 2020, they'll be releasing a revised edition of Real Estate On Your Terms, which Zach will be co-authoring.


At the age of 25, Zach decided to leave the world of bartending and personally training and jump into the family business. It was one of the first big risks that he took in his life, as nothing was guaranteed. Plus, he knew absolutely nothing about real estate. Through hard work, in-house training, and implementation, Zach has now completed over 100 deals and growing. On top of that, he coaches students around the country on how to buy and sell property just like his family still does. Now, as a group, they buy and sell 10-15 properties a month with a predictable and scalable system, controlling between $20-$25 million of real estate at any one time with little to no money in the deal and no banks involved.


Zach has been in the business for over 4 years and now runs all operations of Smart Real Estate Coach, on top continuing to coach his students and Associates. He has an amazing wife Kayla and two small children, his son Remi and his daughter Bellamy. He is a prime example of how to be successful both in business and at home.


Free webinar: www.smartrealestatecoach.com/webinar

Free strategy call: www.smartrealestatecoach.com/action

Free book: www.freesrecbook.com

https://www.smartrealestatecoach.com/thriving - it's a chapter in the Newly Revised Real Estate On Your Terms for free

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The Passive Cash Flow Podcast is for beginner or experienced investors. Subscribe today to learn how you can diversify out of the stock market, own a part of an apartment building & start earning Passive Cash Flow!


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.

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Zachary: If your audience is listening out there and they want to be active or just starting to get into real estate, realize that there's a lot of tough roads ahead but real estate is proven to be the breeding ground for millionaires and billionaires because of how you can create passive income or active income within this business. Know that although it may be tough, you're in a position where you can grow substantially as long as you're willing to put in the work.


Aaron: All right, ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to the Passive Cash Flow podcast. I'm your host, Aaron Fragnito, and we have Zachary Beach here today. Say hi, Zack.


Zachary: Aaron, thanks for having me on. I'm excited to be here. Always humbled to be brought on any podcast. I appreciate your time, and I look forward to bringing value to your audience.


Aaron: Awesome. Awesome. Thanks a lot for coming on. I was really impressed when I was talking with your father a few months ago and then what he does in the business, and I really liked your model there and the seller financing end of it. Before breaking all that and how that works, let's talk about a little bit of your story and how you got started with real estate investing.


Zachary: Okay, Aaron, thanks for asking. Yes, when I went off to college, like what most of us do, but unfortunately, while I was in college, I realized I had zero idea of what I want to do. When I left there, I became a bartender, and I actually bartended for, wow, four years, and personal trained as well. As you can imagine, working late nights bartending and then waking up super early in the morning to personal train gets a little old, and you get burnt out real fast. After doing that for about four or five years, I started to realize because I've made roughly $25,000 salary or in tips at bartending, and maybe I pulled in another $10,000 or $12,000 being a personal trainer, so obviously, I wasn't the best at either one of those. I started searching for some additional things to do. I went to my father-in-law, Chris, who had been in real estate for a long period of time. I went to him and said, "Hey, I don't know if I'm going to like real estate. I know nothing about it, but I'd like to like to have a conversation and see if it made sense for me to join and more or less partner with you." After about a month or two, I started making cold calls, very active. I was cold-calling expired listings.


I was doing that in between my two gigs. After about six months, I decided to basically leave the other positions as a bartender, as a personal trainer, and dove deep into in real estate because it took me roughly about that six months to get my first deal done. That's when I transitioned. Looking seven years now, I've participated in thousands of these deals around the country and have completed, personally, hundreds of them locally here in southern New England. It's been a great journey. I could say that it has not been easy. Real estate is definitely simple, but not easy. It's definitely a grit game when it comes to buying and selling real estate. I definitely enjoyed the journey. We could dive in further if you want, but those are my humble beginnings.


Aaron: Very cool. It is really about grit. I appreciate you say that because one of the concerns you ever meet people in the education industry of real estate and they're like, "Oh, it's a walk in the park. Any idiot can do this. You just put some letters out and people call, you buy their house for 50% off, and then you flip it to another guy for the full price." No, it's actually a ton of grit, it's a ton of banging your head against the wall to make something happen, improving your systems every single day, figuring out where the weakest link is. I know you guys focus on that over there.


That's something. You were doing cold-calling expired listings. I actually got started very similar to that. I would call short sales that had expired, and I would tell the homeowner, "Yes, the property--" What realtors used to do in 2009 is they could list the properties at what they owe to the bank, what the homeowner owed to the bank, and that's way off. They list a home that was worth $300,000 for $550,000 because that's what they owe to the bank, but really you got it listed for $285,000. You get bids coming in and then you get that offer to the bank and you convince them to do a short sale. That's how I started with calling expired listings, but that's a grind man. That is a tough way to get started, but you almost have to do that to get your badge and get your hits and your licks, and that's important. I'm sure your father-in-law said, "I'm not going to let you walk right in and be the CEO here. You got to know how this business works and start from the bottom up," so I appreciate that.


Zachary: Yes, Aaron, it's actually quite comical because we get that perspective on occasion that's like, "Hey, that's great." You start working with your father, how hard could that really be? He wants to make sure that his daughter has some good support, but the truth is because I also work with my brother-in-law as well, and we still, to this day, buy and sell real estate together, and we only get paid when we do deals, everybody gets a piece of the profit share and the rest goes to operating the business. It wasn't like any money was guaranteed. Actually leaving, it may have been a small amount of money to most now, $35,000, $40,000 between bartend and personal training, to just completely cut that off was a bit of a gamble.


I was gambling on myself. It was a bit of a gamble because I knew now I had to go from doing nothing in real estate to being a real estate professional and to be able to produce deals on a monthly or weekly basis so that way my family could be able to be supported. It's a great perspective. That's what I also like about real estate, as well, because I grew up with a single mother, and she's a cashier at Lowe's, my father really wasn't in the picture much. Basically, everything that we ever accomplished was through pure grit and willpower. As soon as I jumped into real estate, I started to realize that, look, this could be a grit game, this could be where if I just put in work and learn and continue to improve I can sell or outpacing other real estate investors, or I could start being competitive in this industry. That's when I started to realize, "Oh, real estate is definitely a space for me because I just had to build up that strength or that skillset throughout my entire life, just handling those ins and outs of trying to really accomplish everything through pure grit and will by having a single mom and not really getting anything handed to me." Soon as I dove in, that it was I knew I was in the right place. If your audience is listening out there and they want to be active or just starting to get into real estate, realize that there's a lot of tough roads ahead, but real estate is proven to be the breeding ground for millionaires and billionaires because of how you can create passive income or active income within this business. Know that although it may be tough, you're in a position where you can grow substantially as long as you're willing to put in the work.


Aaron: Oh, absolutely. What's funny about real estate is I feel like all of us have to come to a crossroads. We're like, "Am I going to really-- Am I going to do this? Am I going to quit my steady income? Am I going to throw away something that's okay, that's getting me along in life, and maybe I'll be promoted the next level, and I'll get a few more nickels every month, and maybe I'll get a 401k and, who knows, I'll get a label on my door that makes me feel really good about--" but you're still working for someone else, you're still building someone else's dream. In the back your head, you know that. There's nothing wrong with working for a company. That's a great way to build the build wealth and, over time, if you're smart, with the income, but that plunge, that idea of working for yourself, saying, "Hey, I'm going to really take a risk here and sacrifice everything I've built to this point now to go down this route."


I remember when I was a realtor, my third year in, I was doing quite well that I'd figured it out, I've gotten those short sales down, started moving those, and worked with a lot of investors, and I knew my passion was always with investing and owning real estate. Finally, one day I said, "I'm just going to do it. I'm going to stop being a realtor every day. I'm going to start being a real estate investor." The two businesses did have some similarities, but really, being a realtor is a whole different gig than finding, analyzing, raising capital, buying, managing, building a management company, owning real estate, investing in real estates, it's a whole different job, and you can be only in one place at one time.


Taking that plunge and throwing away that income that was coming in and knowing I'm going to go from selling 40 houses a year to selling 3, but building my wealth from $0 a year in wealth up to millions in wealth was the goal there, but it took years and definitely took a sacrifice of income, definitely a number of years where I stopped making-- when you're making six figures and then you stop, that's the hardest part. It was a whole lifestyle built around it.


Zachary: Yes, there's a lot of our coaching students we call associates have been able to make that plunge from having a six-figure job or even a five-figure job and to being full-time real estate investors. The major difference is you got to have a huge why. I know that this is almost being thrown around out there too often now, since Simon Sinek made it really popular with your why, but if you have a huge vision, and if you have a huge why or purpose pulling you towards that vision, then having those more or less that crossroads becomes real easy to make that decision because, look, Aaron, I'm sure you knew at the time you're like, "Look, I don't want to be a realtor all the time. I want to grow this massive amount of wealth through real estate investing, and I believe this path is going to get me there. I have this why," and I'm not sure what it is to you, but that's driving you, then it's really a no-brainer when we show up to these crossroads. When I was sitting there at 24 years old and I'm like, "Do I just keep bartending or do I more or less bet on myself to say, 'I'm going to be good at real estate,' " It was no brainer to me, I quit the job immediately because I was like, "I know where I want to be in the future and I know that I was built for more than just being a bartender." That decision becomes real easy.


Again, listeners who are out there and they're like, "Hey, I'm not sure if I should keep one foot in or completely jump," if you have the financials set aside where you can be comfortable to be able to withstand this entrepreneurship journey, at least the gap, and you believe that you're built for something more, then it's time to start making that decision at least putting things in motion to move into a full-time real estate investment or becoming entrepreneurs over here where you bet on yourself. Good, bad, or indifferent, you control your destiny, which is the most important thing to me.


Aaron: That's true. I've also met people that have a really good position at a really good company, are doing quite well, love what they do, and they're great at it, and you can tell they're meant to be that. In that case, I always say, "Listen, real estate is glamorized, with the whole HGTV and the DYTV." It's all fun and games, and you take an ugly home, you make it beautiful, and you're a hero. It's all glamorized and the media makes it look really easy. I can't even watch those HGTV shows, they drive me mad. It's funny. People like that, they were in a good position, in a good company, they're working hard, they enjoy what they do, I think sometimes it's almost like the grass is always greener on the other side. I say, "No, stay, keep doing what you're doing, keep putting away that capital and invest passively in real estate and work with a group that's going to really know what they're doing, have made their mistakes, have their boots in the ground, have their infrastructure in place because breaking out and starting just to buy real estate, there's a learning curve, there's a cost to that, you're going to make your mistakes, it's going to be frustrating, you need to set aside hours to find the real estate manager."


It's not a one-size-fits-all industry. There's lots of ways to dabble real estate. You could do it passively, you could do it actively. There's not an answer for everyone. It's got to be a soul-searching thing, but I think the passive side of it too, a lot of my investors really get a huge benefit from that. They learn what we're doing, they see what we're doing, they get the updates, they feel involved in the investment. Even though they're not lifting things day-to-day and doing the headaches of the management, it's still all the transparency and education along the way of investing in that asset, I think is a little more fun than an index fund or something like that.


On the active side, so let's talk about what you guys do with the seller financing here, if we could transition into some real estate nitty-gritty here. You guys have basically figured out how to flip real estate and move real estate and make some fees and a capital over time without taking on debt and personally guaranteeing debt. How do you guys do that?


Zachary: Yes, I love that too. Just to piggyback what you're saying, there's so many different niches in real estate so that way everyone could participate in that. If you love your job, then definitely passively invest I think that's rather important. Also, even though we're active in real estate, we also passively invest too. We buy some multi-families and things like that, but I'm not going to manage the property myself. That is not my cup of tea at all. We'll put some money in and have somebody else manage the property.


To talk about some seller financing, when we talk about seller financing or owner financing, we're talking about buying and selling real estate without using our own cash, pooling a bunch of investor capital, or signing personally on any of these loans. What we do is we approach a seller, primarily sellers that have free and clear property, so no mortgage on them. We go to them we say, "Hey, I'm interested in buying your property, would you hold a mortgage for me?" If they agree to hold the mortgage, then we structure the terms of that mortgage. We'll close on it, we'll take title of the seller, we'll hold a first position on the property. Then typically our mortgages are structured through zero interest or principal-only payments. We'll be paying them every single month, and that's coming directly off of principal, and then we'll have a balloon payment in the near future. Those are our short-term owner financing deals, and then other ones we're more than okay with paying interest as long as we're getting these much longer-term deals like 20-year mortgages or 30-year mortgages with no balloon.


Aaron: Wow, that's amazing. My experience, the hardest part is finding someone with property they don't own free and clear that's willing to cooperate with seller financing. I've met some people here and there, but normally they're looking for a pretty large down payment or something like that and it defeats-- I was saying, "Oh, I want 40% down." I said, "Why could just go to the bank and get 20% down and make the deal work?" Without giving away too much your secret sauce here, how are you guys able to convince homeowners to work with you in that way?


Zachary: I love this question because we get asked every single time and the change in the question really is how do we solve their problem? We're not convincing anybody of anything really, we're just figuring out which homeowners get their problem solved through our ability to buy on seller finance. To give you some examples, and you can find some of these examples in our master's class as well, but that is, we had a property that we purchased, that was a couple of years ago. It was a family that was moving out of state, the people inherited the property. That's a prime good type of motivation. You got a second-generation, they don't want the real estate anymore. They weren't able to sell it traditionally, so the next best option is, "Hey, look I can create money on this." Talk about being a passive investor themselves. What they're doing is they're putting themselves in a position to have an asset that can produce money for them and they're going to be collecting monthly payments. In the near future, we'll pay them off completely. A real great way for a seller to be able to take what they have right now and they turn in an investment themselves.


Another seller, out-of-state owner, who lived out in Indiana, he's a teacher. He had a second home that was in Connecticut. Unfortunately, there was a family tragedy, and they didn't want to go back to this house. Really nice property, low $400,000 property on a lake in Connecticut. We approached him, and he was more than okay with selling us a property. I think the numbers were $399,000, we bought it for, we purchased it for a $1,000 a month principal-only payments and 48-month balloon. This property will soon be cashed out in the next 12 months, but a great way for seller to be able to find a solution. Didn't want to travel back and forth, didn't want to have to deal with the hassles of the traditional market, and then you get somebody like myself that approaches them and says, "Hey, I got a solution. I could give you your price, I can give you some cash flow, and all I need to do is hold paper on this property for the next three to five years."


There's so many of those stories out there. Aaron, as you and I know this, I think there's a stat that goes out, it's roughly a third of the properties nationally in the United States are debt-free. I don't care, you could be really bad at more or less working with sellers and solving their problems and you are eventually going to come across a deal that is a free and clear property that you just happen to be there in the right place at the right time. Now, I'm not saying that should be the approach, that's going to take a long time, but if you understand on how you can solve people's problems by utilizing the solution, then as soon as you know that you have a seller that's motivated and you can solve their challenge, it becomes not easy, but it becomes simple to say, "Hey, how do we structure these terms now to make sure that it's profitable for me and then also solves your problem?"


Aaron: I love that. That's great. In a healthy market like this, there's buyers too that sell the property too. I guess one of the risks I can recognize there is in the scenario where you're locking in a loan or a note on the property, you give them the price they're looking for, you pay the principal-only payment, which is great, you're paying that down. I guess if the market drops at a faster rate than what you're paying the loan down at, you could run into an issue there of being underwater. I guess at that point if you can't find a buyer, you could maybe give the property back to the owner, I guess. That's the solution in that case because [unintelligible 00:19:34]


Zachary: Let's talk about that too. We didn't personally sign on anything, so our credit's not being affected and it's our company that's purchased the property. Yes, morally and ethically that's not the route that we go, but legally that could be a route that you could go: you could give the property back. You had no money in the deal. You basically are giving up the equity in which you've put in. What's common to us to just say, "Hey, Mr Seller, let's structure something that we can get an extension on this note. You don't want the property back. We're more than okay. We're continuing to pay it. Look at the market, it's dropped significantly. Let us continue to make these payments, let us pay down this principal so that way we can exit the deal sometime in the near future. We'll continue to maintain everything, and you don't have to deal with it. All we're asking for is for an extension of the term."


We've changed many of these deals from originally a three-year deal to then offering them maybe a bigger lump sum at the end of every year to get an additional year, as long as we're getting more principal. Then we've extended it even further. We had a 3-year deal that turned into a 21-year deal because, after about five years, we said to them, "Hey, let's instead of doing principal-only payments, let's give you interest. Let's structure a mortgage," and they were more than okay with doing a 15-year term on that new mortgage. Now we have a 21-year deal. There's always the deal within the deal. I think as long as you continue to keep open communication, and, again, you're solving that seller's problem, then it's real easy or simple to be able to negotiate longer terms, again, as long as both parties are happily involved in the relationship.


Aaron: Yes. No, I like that. You guys have done this thousands of times. How many of these have you done?


Zachary: Me, personally, I've done hundreds of these locally, but then we have students around the country in which I've helped them be able to do thousands of these types of deals now throughout North America. These types of transactions are even becoming more prevalent now, and we're starting to see trends of a lot of other types of real estate investors like fix-and-flips because now the margins just aren't there, wholesalers because the market is so competitive now, they're moving into this creative financing space because they're starting to realize like, "Hey, we have way more levers to pull so it's more people that we can actually help on these types of deals." Then, of course, as you build up your portfolio and you have deposits coming in, so now you could start to leverage the cash that you have in your business to be able to get even better deals because then you said, "Look, I've approached many people--" I've heard many people be approached for seller frats, and they say, "Hey, I want a deposit." Now that you have reserves, now you go to them and say, "Hey, I'm definitely willing to give you a deposit, but let's make sure the balloon payments 10 years now versus 4. Let's make sure that the monthly payment or the interest rates lower." It just gives you the ability to play now because now you have some capital to play around with, you get better and better deals.


That's how our business model is starting to turn now because with COVID, you and I both know, look how many people out there have so much equity in their home and now potentially could lose it because of this turn situation because they're now in default. Those types of sellers are people that we're aiming to help now because we can catch up the default, close on the property, and now buy these properties subject to the existing loan, and be able to help the sellers save some of their equity, so that way they don't lose out on that plus don't get their credit damage. Those are some new niches just based on today's market that we can help.


Aaron: Wow. Subject to. That's interesting. They could still have their note on the property. I guess the bank's okay with that current lender. That's interesting. Wow. That's a whole another level. Then you don't even need free and clear properties ideally.


Zachary: Correct. Yes. We buy plenty of property subject to the existing loan as well. A lot of them, before more or less this entire situation happened, they tend to be people that were selling their property for what they owe. If they sell it traditionally, they're coming out of pocket, tens of thousands of dollars, or their second router is through a short sale, which, you and I both know, their credit is going to be damaged significantly. Instead, we changed that up. I'm actually working on a deal right now, it's in Southern Connecticut. The guy is selling his property for $285,000, and he owes I think $290,000 on it. It was he do the short sale or we help him because he refinanced a couple of years ago and now the market has stayed flat and now he has no equity in his house.


I approached him and said-- because he wants to move to Washington now to be close to his grandchild, I said, "Look, I can buy this property. I'm going to close on it. I'll pay the transfer fees. We're just going to leave the loan in place, title the transfer, and contractually, in our agreement, we're going to state that there's a loan sale place, and we're the ones that continue to make the payments on that. Then over time in the next 5, 10 years, the principal is going to pay down the house in appreciation is going to happen in the property. Eventually, I could sell the property for a profit. In the meantime, I'll take care of everything, maintain it, and all of that, and then I'll get your loan paid off in the future."


Aaron: Very cool. Wow, Zachary, you guys do a lot over there. Very interesting stuff. I like your story. How could people get in touch with you to learn more?


Zachary: Absolutely. Good ways for free things here. I know that we've covered just the surface of credit financing. I go smartrealestatecoach.com/mastersclass. That's smartrealestatecoach.com/mastersclass. It's a 35-minute video that me and my partner and father-in-law did. We break down our three major techniques. We got four of them, but three, and our exit strategy as well. Then you'll get a free strategy call with that. If you're already familiar with credit financing and you just want to know how you can incorporate some of these other techniques, then go to smartrealestatecoach.com/action. That's /action. It's the six simple questions. Then either myself or one of my teammates will hop on the phone with you and we'll give you some good nuggets but also teach you how to be able to implement some of this into your business.


Aaron: That's great. You guys are actively doing these types of deals. You're coaching other people on how to do it as well. That's very interesting stuff. Do you guys have a real estate group or anything like that, I guess, within the smart real estate network is your group.


Zachary: Yes, so Smart Real Estate Coach is the company. We have a couple of different things. I don't know if you're on Clubhouse and if you're listening, you're on Clubhouse just a search "Wicked Smart Real Estate". Wicked Smart Real Estate, that is our club on there as well. We host a bunch of different free, of course, Clubhouse is free, free rooms where we talk about all different types of credit financing. We have not only us, but mentors, people that are in some major spaces, all of us as well. Aaron, if you're on, I'd love to have you on. Also, we do free live trainings every single week. You just have to be on our email list. As soon as you dominate either one of those, you can be placed on an email list like tonight. I know it's Thursday, I know you won't hear this, it won't be heard, but every single Thursday night from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM Eastern Time we do a free live Zoom call with either us or one of our teammates or affiliates so that way everyone can continue to get free training and to be able to implement this type of technique in their business.


Aaron: Very cool. All right. Great. Thank you so much, Zachary, for coming on. Really enjoyed our chat here. Of course, ladies and gentlemen, my name is Aaron Fragnito. I'm host of the People's Passive Cash Flow podcast, co-owner of People's Capital Group. I think we're up to episode 55 or so at this point. Hopefully, you can catch all of our other episodes here at peoplescapitalgroup.com. We're on all major podcast sites as well. We, of course, do the passive real estate investments and work with passive investors throughout the country, but we focus on buying real estate in Northern Jersey and short-term rentals in Southern Vermont. We've been doing this about 10 years. You can learn more about becoming a passive investor at peoplescapitalgroup.com. If you want to do the heavy lifting and learn how to be an active investor, then connect with Zachary Beach here and he can help you out on that side of the Wicked Smart Real Estate coach, wicked smart. Boy, not an ounce of humility in there. [laughs] I'm just teasing you. I like it. I actually have both your father-in-law's books as well. He sent those over to me. I really appreciate that. I was reading through it the other day.


Zachary: Love it.


Aaron: Absolutely. All right. My friend have a good day. Thanks for coming on.



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