James: Hey listeners, this is James Kandasamy from Achieve Wealth podcasts, a podcast where we focus on commercial real estate operators across all asset classes. And we like to talk a lot about value at real estate investing. Today, I have Will Crozier from Cap X Ventures who started in multifamily investing starting 2012 and went up to like 7,000 units, almost 350 million in assets under management. Right now, I think he has sold a lot of his assets and he has like a thousand units right now in the Dallas area. Hey Will, welcome to the show.
Will: Hey, James, awesome to be here. Thank you for inviting me.
James: Good. Is there anything that you want to elaborate on your past history and ventures in real estate?
Will: I guess, I did about 10 years, single-family just grinding away and then moved from California out to Texas to the DFW area, wanting to do more of the same but quickly realized deal sizes were too small in DFW house. To flip a house out there was 60,000 and I was used to doing a $600,000 houses, so I was going the wrong way around. I looked around and said I need bigger deal sizes so I moved into apartments in a hurry, plugged in with some good people and started my multifamily career about seven years ago. We grew as quickly as we could, partnered up with people, raise capital to syndicate deals and just tried our best to do heavy value-add deals wherever possible. The uglier, the better, basically.
James: I love that concept, right? That’s where the deep value-add comes in. And I used to do a lot of deep value-adds even though now I’m doing a lot lighter value-add just because of the market cycle. And I know you do very, very heavy, deep value-add and you’ve started doing larger units. So talk about what are the deep value-add that you have done? One of the largest deep value-add that you have done.
Will: I did a project, it was 656 units, just a single property alone, drove that one down into the 70% occupancy range. That was not an extremely heavy value add, it was mostly interior innovations but it was the largest one as far as heavy, heavy like, you know, a war zone type properties that a couple of 200 and 400 units that were just ugly. Even drop those down, purchased at 50% occupancy and pushed it down into the high twenties. I mean, just clean up. It was basically a brand new project when we were done with it but turn the neighborhood around in a major way too.
James: Yeah, I think that’s where you make the most money, right? I mean, it’s always a real estate. Any invest, at least we walked a game and you took a big risk in that kind of deal. I’m sure that reward also must have been tremendous because there’s so much of equity built up, right? That’s where the deep value-add or even the value add comes into play. That’s where the wealth is created. So tell me about why do you like deep value adds versus the lighter call or yield place?
Will: Sure. Well, when I started in multifamily, I had a little money, a couple hundred thousand dollars but it was nothing to really, really brag about, I couldn’t retire on it. I couldn’t invest it at 10% interest and have it changed my life at all so I had no choice but to really do big game projects. I needed to really change my game. To change my outlook on life to set myself up and so I could go and invest and make 7% or 9% and I was just like, that’s not the station I‘m in life. I was raised poor, I didn’t come in from a lot of money. I needed to just shift my whole reality. So I only focused on deals where I could make a 100% return or a 200% return. And yeah, there are lots of people’s money together and just go, go, go. And so I did that serial 10 31, 10 31, 10 31, and then, other projects around it, I flipped them. I mean, I was in and out of some deals in 13 months, 17 months; just get in there and go hard. Usually, it was about a two-year thing where if you double your money and then double that money again and then double that money again, you start to see the multiplication effect, just go crazy. So I went from almost nothing to a good sum of cash through doing these heavy value add deals.
And you mentioned something that everyone looks at this differently, but risk-reward, I always looked at my deals as not risky because they were in terrible condition. They were rundown, there was no one living in them. So there was really nothing I could do to make the situation worse. Whereas the yield deals, you know, they’re really skinny, they’re really tight. You jump in there and you make a few missteps and you can drop from 93% to 83% in a hurry. And the way the debt set up, like to me that seemed risky, at least at the time. There are a million ways to look at it, but for me, it’s like there’s nothing I’m going to do to mess this deal up more. And there were 15 other people bidding on it so I can get out of it if I need to and it’s a bridge loan. So to me, at the time it just seemed not risky. It’s strange.
James: You are right actually. I mean sometimes people just look at cash flow. They don’t really look at the debt service coverage, right? Because on a yield play or Copley, your debt service coverage is so thin, you‘ve got no way to increase your NOI. So let’s say you’re buying at 1.25, if you’re not doing anything, you’re just going to service that debt at 1.25 maybe slightly more because the market appreciates to 1.3; whereas on a deep value-add play, you may be buying it less than one DSCR but you are pushing up the NOIs so much to 1.5, 2 X. So in case the market turns, you’re not going to come back to one, you’ve got so much a buffer to play.
Will: Right. We start cash flowing it 70% occupancy and it’s going and going. And so everywhere you go from there, it’s really, really nice.
James: Yeah. I mean it’s a bit hard for me to do yield place, just because I see it as a risk as well because there’s just no buffer there. Question for you–so can you hear me?
Will: Yeah, I can.
Will: Because you sound to be so quiet. So, I mean, you went up to like zero in 2012 in multifamily and went up to 7,000 units. You did so many 10 31 and you started selling a lot of it. Right? So when did you start selling a lot of your deals?
Will: Well, it became a bit obvious to me writing on the wall, but the tide was no longer with us. You know, the winds weren’t at the back anymore. There’s still deals to be done. There’s always deals to be done. But it wasn’t this situation or set up where no matter what I do, I’m going to make lots of money. The heavy value- add deals started getting super rare, hard to get into them. The interest rates started ticking up and that’s eroding the value of my property when I’m not doing anything wrong, but I’m watching millions of dollars just get wiped off of the table just because of interest rates, you know? And that goes up and down but that was another indicator. The county started playing ridiculously hard with the taxes and that was another thing. It was just like, I’m watching millions of dollars just disappear and I’m not doing anything wrong.
You know, I’m just this part of the business cycle and its part of the politics of the game. So when I saw some of those things, easing and changing and the rapid competition, especially in DFW, from not only coastal buyers but international buyers, we’re selling to people in Dubai, UAE, et cetera. So it’s just like this is a really different game than what I entered in ’12. And so when I entered in ’12, I was always all in, just anything I had pushed it in, tell everybody, put your money in this thing, it’s going to go, go, go. When I couldn’t be that aggressive anymore, it made me start to just to look around a little bit, what are my options in life? I had accumulated big pilot ships and I don’t need to do this anymore. I can easily retire and not do anything for the rest of my life and my kids could share that as well.
So I have to really stop and look at my life; what is it that I want to do? What is my risk tolerance? Am I gonna bust my ass really competing for trying to get 7% return? Or maybe find a way to eke out a 10% return. Or for me, it’s just hit pause or at least dial it way back, look at my life, what makes me happy? What do I want to do with myself? Let the market settle down a little bit, let it choose a new direction and then decide, do I want to jump back in with this, push everything back in again or figure out a different strategy? So right now, I’m just kind of observing, taking it all in. If a good deal comes my way, I jump on it. I closed the deal a month ago in Abilene, another 120 unit value-add deals. So I’ll grab them, but I’m not gonna run around chasing my tail, trying and forcing to put it together when I don’t need to.
James: Yeah. Yeah. It’s crazy out there right now. Right? I mean, you can do deals in a good market, in a bad market. The acceleration of how much you want to buy on a market cycle like this, maybe slow down. I mean you have to just think about it, whether it’s a real deal or not. I think there’s just so many people jumping into the game as well, I guess. Prices are being bumped up so much and they are value-add deals, they are deep value-add deals, but a lot of sellers are asking for crazy prices, which means that deep value-add becomes like a yield play.
Will: Yeah, it really is. They’re charging you the premium to do all the work.
James: A lot of people are jumping saying, hey, it’s a deep value-add or deep value-add but it’s actually not value-add.
Will: We were buying it at 13 a door, you know, going crazy and the same deals are trading for 80 and 90 and they’re in worse condition than, I don’t know, it’s just nuts. They’re still deals, but frankly, I don’t want to dedicate the 80 hours a week that I used to when I don’t need to in this market cycle. Like that doesn’t make sense for me personally to pursue that right now at least. At least with full dedication.
James: Got it. So are you still positive on multifamily or any other asset classes?
Will: Well, as I said, I purchased last month in Abilene. I’m basically kind of a sponsor in the deal. I raised equity for the deal. I underwrote the deal, I connected it, but I’m more happy to be working with sort of the next generation of deal sponsors, syndicator. If they have holes like equity gaps, I can plug that. If they have some experience things or they’re not sure of a specific market, like I was already operating 500 units in Abilene so it’s like throw this on there, same management company, it’s just stamp, stamp, stamp, repeat. So if there are new deal sponsors who want to want to partner up and follow a similar pattern to what I’ve already established, that’s where I can really add value to another team. I don’t want to be out there every day. I don’t want to live on site like I used to live on site. I’m just past all that, but I can still work with other people and make win, win, wins across the board.
James: Got It, got it. Got It. Let’s go into details of what are some of the deep value-adds that you have done. Not really a specific deal, but when you look at the deal, how do you identify this is the deal for me, I want to really do this deal. What do you look for in that?
Will: Well, the dream is, of course, the neighborhood. I’m less interested in the specific property than I am, ‘can I invest millions of dollars in this neighborhood and have it mean something?’ Have it attract the kind of people that will pay their rent, that won’t bring crime, that will be a nice safe, habitable place for people with jobs want to live. So I’d always look at the neighborhood and just blue collars, great. If there are work trucks out there in the parking lot, I’m super excited about that. Of course, then property specific things, love of course pitch roofs or individual HVAC. I’m one of the weird guys that love all bills paid. I made more money on those deals than others; it’s a hassle but there’s money to be made there for sure. What else? Price Point says a lot. The right price point, jump in there and sometimes that’s a really, really high price point versus other neighborhoods, but it’s still just comparatively low. I love rundown interior units. We got really, really good at renovating interiors and doing it on the cheap. I imported all my stuff from China. I built a company around that, sold that company last year. But we could do an interior better and cheaper than almost anyone could. And that’s how you raise rents. And that’s how you get the NOI bumps and that’s how you make a mini fortune on every deal you do. So those were sort of the criteria I was looking for.
James: Okay. Okay. I want to go a bit more into the underwriting, but before I do that, why do you like all bills paid?
Will: Well, I always feel weird, is the SCC watching me, like lying sometimes, but you kind of get to act like a utility broker in a way, a middleman, so to speak. Where I can buy energy for 6 cents a kilowatt hour and I ended up basically selling it for 12 or whatever and I don’t remember the specifics on that. And then they love it because they’re not having to put these big deposits and run credit checks and all this stuff. So I get a buffer that makes it really, really simple for them, giving them a cheaper rate than they would be able to get even on their own. So again, it’s kind of paving a win, win, win and I’m pulling in more cash each month. I’m kind of controlling their major expenditures, which is going to be their rents, it’s going to be their utilities. And so, I kind of get to babysit a little bit. I hesitate to use that word. But if you have the right management team working with them, it’s just a bigger rent check coming into you each month so your income is greater and when you go to sell the thing, you realize those gains.
James: Yeah. And I think you can use your skills to relate the real utility bills, right? I mean, you can do local pilots and all that, which the upside, you get it right.
Will: Yeah, absolutely.
James: Got It. Got It. So let’s talk about underwriting. So when you underwrite a deep value-add deal, what do you really look for? Do you just look for really, really low rent, you know, expenses? Or what else do you look for? I mean, let’s talk about that.
Will: I’ve never been one to super focus on expenses. Yeah. Expenses matter but they’re generally going to be in the right ballpark unless you spot the obvious, water conservation thing or whatever. I always like to focus on income. Income is a lot easier to control than expenses. So you know, look at the submarket, do your market survey, see are you low and why are you low? Are there other factors besides just you have a terrible interior and amenities package? Just chew that up, underwrite that, you know but otherwise, just to figure out why you’re low, see if you can plug that gap in that. I was never shy about leading the market. I would like to be a hundred under and come out a hundred over, you know, and I wasn’t shy about getting it because we had a nice product and we always had a great management team. So that was probably my number one criteria is just making sure I’m getting something that I can really push and accelerate rents on. That was a lot easier before.
James: Okay. Okay. So definitely income is a lot easier to control, where you can just increase the rent compared to the expenses. I know you do a lot of major rehabs, which needs a lot of materials and all that. So what triggered you to go and start importing materials, to reduce your cost in terms of expenses?
Will: I did the first deal without any imports. I learned quickly, that was just like 77 units. But even on something that small, I had a hard time controlling the logistics supply chain. I would deal with AZ Parts Master Nationwide MRO, Lowe’s, Home Depot, whoever and they would start delivering me different products as like keep trying to order the same thing. They would change the light fixture or the fan. And then one week it’s $45 and the next week it’s $62 and this was very, very frustrating. And my projects, I want it to be very uniform, very beautiful, started looking like patchwork quilts. And this one looks like this and this one looks like this and this was on a small deal. So the next time around, I bought 244 units and it was half occupied and I was like, well, I’m going to need about 300,000 square feet of flooring on this deal.
I had one of my partners was a Chinese national and she‘d done imports for her own business. She’s like, let’s get on a plane, let’s go. So I was like, okay, let’s give it a try. And so flew over there and got overwhelmed in a hurry and made a few bad missteps early on, but corrected and adjusted and moved from flooring into anything else we needed massive quantities of. I remember my 1st container, 40 foot high Q container of fans came in, I think it was like 1400 fans. I’m like, what am I gonna do with this? And then before long, they were coming in monthly. And it was a wild run there for a while, to go from one of my one-bedroom units, I had a down unit and I just shoved stuff from Home Depot and Lowe’s into it, to having a warehouse and then buying and renting the warehouse next to that and then two more next to that and buying, you know, medium duty trucks and forklifts. I’m like, what am I doing? But it all just made sense for my own projects and therefore it made sense for other people’s projects. And that’s I think a good foundation for any business is to solve issues and then let other people take advantage of the job you’ve done there.
James: Yeah. Yeah. I would like to make sure that the listeners know, I mean the amount of hard work that I’m sure really have put in to do all that largest things, is huge. Right? So, it’s not simple, but the thing is if you do it, you will get the benefit out of it. And I think when you really want to make a lot of money in real estate, that’s the extent that you have to go to because that’s where you really make the money when you go to integrate your supply chain. And you hop on a plane and go and solve problems.
Will: Your right, James, and thank you for clarifying that. Like it’s easy to sit here in a podcast years after the fact and make it seem like it was somehow easy or it didn’t take that much. It literally was 80 hours a week. Holidays, weekends. I moved into my projects to really watch them because every penny of my net worth was in these projects. I was controlling tens of millions of dollars of assets and yet I was living on like 2100 bucks a month. That’s me, my wife, my kids, couldn’t afford anything. I was a paper millionaire and then a paper multimillionaire and yet I couldn’t pay for anything and I was deeply in credit card debt, just trying to keep everything afloat. It’s humorous to me when people come in and say, I want to do what you do, but they’re like a doctor and they’re used to like pulling down 400 g’s a year and there’s like, you probably should just be a passive investor. Forget all about what I‘m doing because it’s not really going to mesh. You’re going to be in poverty for the first four years you’re doing this thing.
James: Yeah. I remember when I did my second deal, we did like almost one and a half a million dollars. We did it within one year. And I think that whole idea is you’re trying to convert all that capital that you have in your cash for Rehab, you’re trying to convert it to NOI. So once it becomes NOI, that’s equity. Now the building is much more valuable. So you’re basically adding all this sweat equity, your ideas, your business tactic, all this into a NOI. And how skillful you are converting this whole thing into the NOI is where the skill gaps.
Will: Yeah. And then if you’re really good, you’re tempted into a 10 31 exchange so you don’t realize any of the equity. And then you go ahead and do it again and you’re like, I promise I have some money somewhere [21:37crosstalk]
James: Yeah. I like to refi and take out that money. I least I want to quickly do it, refi it, take out, okay, now I see some cash, cash flow, right?
Will: And the taxes are a little nicer in that scenario.
James: Yeah. There’s no tax on a refi, right. Even on 1031, yeah, you defer the taxes, but this all tax strategy and the amount of NOI that you created to take out your equity. So of all the deep value that you did, what do you think is the most valuable value-add?
Will: What do you mean by that, James?
James: Like for example, let’s say you have $1 million to do a project, right? But that million dollars become like 300,000. So what would you go in and focus first? Interior. Exterior. And if it’s interior, what would you focus? If it’s exterior, what would you focus? Because now you have a reduced budget, right? What do you think is the most important value add?
Will: I hate exteriors, they have to be done, but you very, very rarely see any kind of rent increase on exteriors. It’s more of a cohesive theme of the property that will give you a rent bump on the exterior, but you can throw millions and millions at roofs, parking lot, siding, like retaining, landscaping, that’s going to give you tiny returns as far as NOI. So, of course, I loved the interiors. Flooring is like magic. You put in a new floor and people are immediately amazed by it. I love to put in hard surface flooring. I hate carpet. So I mean, just put in the hard surface flooring, it’s easy to turn, it’s easy to keep clean. It’s a fantastic product. So floors are huge. Appliances, I always bet big on appliances. I almost always went to stainless steel, nice packages; once in a while, I would just make it all black or whatever. But appliances and flooring get you a long, long way on interior renovations. So that’s the first thing on all of my budgets.
James: Got It. So appliance and flooring. Okay. Interesting. So let’s go to the personal side of it. Right? So you sold a lot of your assets and you said you don’t think so, I mean the odds are on your side right now in terms of market and you want to take it slowly. If you find the right deal, you would go ahead and do it. But why did you move out of the country? I mean from Dallas to the Philippines.
Will: Could have come somewhere a little closer. Right. So just a little background on that. And when I was traveling to China a lot, I really fell in love with travel and I really also fell in love with Asia. My wife is from the Philippines, so I have a direct family connection here. Spending time over here, I enjoyed it. The speed of life is totally different than the US, it’s just in slow Mo. That can be infuriating sometimes, you are like, what’s wrong with this place? But it’s all those things that are wrong that make it so great at the same time. So I try to just accept it, be patient with it, but also got plugged in with a couple of foundations. One that I’m starting, one that I am a currently a board member on and support in any way I can. It’s children’s surgical outreaches that for some reason is so rewarding to me. Like I’ll just do it until I die. If no one else wants to participate, I don’t care. But to see how far a US dollar can go and changing someone in the third world’s entire life, entire future. Like what we’ll spend on an average dinner out, we’ll change the entire outlook of one child’s life through one simple surgery that takes basically an afternoon. That blew my mind and it made me reevaluate my own expenses, my own material desires in life.
I just sold my house in Texas. A big stupid, huge, ugly, gorgeous house, and then my cars and all that stupid stuff that I love so much, but just change the focus, you know, and tried to move into something a bit more humble and easy, lower expense so I can divert funds to some of this other stuff that’s just so much more rewarding at the end of the day.
James: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I’m from Southeast Asia, I’m from Malaysia. Right. So I know a lot of these lifestyles there even though I don’t think my lifestyle was slow. It was really fast as well, but it’s just a different perspective in life. Did any of these travels and living in the Philippines or even traveling, do you think it changed any of your perspective towards money?
Will: Oh, yes, absolutely. I noticed first, right away when I started traveling a lot internationally, besides just having a hotel to stay in or food to buy, I didn’t really ever think about money. It was just weird. Like when I was bored in the US and I was kind of building my empire, If I got bored, bored maybe, if I had free moments ever, I would go on Zillow or I would go on cars.com and I would just browse for whatever the next kind of toy was, the next car. Like, look, what’s that house in that neighborhood. There’s a beautiful neighborhood, I would love to live there, someday. And it was all just sort of focus on the material, a focus on improving the lifestyle, basically. And when I was traveling, I just never really thought that way and when that started clicking in my head, I was like, I’m really happy when I’m traveling and I’m not focused on really the material at all. It’s more learning, experiencing things. It all got cheaper. That was one of the weird things was this much happier, more fulfilling lifestyle was way, way, way, way cheaper than the less satisfying, less happy lifestyle. So that was a big Aha moment for me.
James: Yeah, it’s interesting. I mean, sometimes you look at people who are really poor or living in a very small house or hut, you know, in a poor country, they are very happy compared to some people who live in a very big house with a lot of money. I mean, there’s so much commitment, so many issues. You have to make a lot of life choices or you may not be happy, but people who have fewer things, maybe they make fewer choices and they’re much happier, right? I mean, end of the day, why do we make money? So to supposedly supposed to be happy, right. So it’s just so much of a difference in perspective when you’re traveling to that kind of places and you experience different lifestyles.
Will: I’ve heard always that thing where it’s just cliche almost in the US and I’m sure you’ve heard it, where people talk about the people that have nothing. And as an American, when someone says they have nothing, basically that means like they drive a 10-year-old car, either their house is less than 2000 square feet. That’s what having nothing meant to m,e until I met people who literally don’t have anything. They are living under a leaf house, built out of bamboo and you know, they find an old water bottle to go and haul water from the stream to where they’re living that month. And it was okay. They actually have nothing and yet, as you said, at the time they’re having the smile on their face and the relaxed nature of it all. And poverty is horrible, it’s a terrible thing, especially for health. That’s what you watch just get destroyed as people who are aging with diseases but outside of the health, everything else to me seems like they’re having a better living existence than most anybody I know in the first world.
James: Yeah. It’s a completely different perspective when you start to travel, right? And I see people here, sometimes they complain the country is bad. Oh, this is bad. That is not right. This is not right. Well, you have never seen the other part of the world. So it’s just surprising for me on when people just don’t have that 360 perspectives of how the whole life is. I mean I’m not saying that I have when you have it, but you know when you travel and you go really live in another country, you can see a lot more things which you are not able to see when you are living here in the US. There are so many things that have been taken for granted here.
Will: The opportunities in the US are insane, the low cost. Americans think US is expensive. That is ridiculous. The price of cars and of electronics and of anything and the wide availability of anything you want, it’s all cheap and it’s quality and it’s a variety. And you come in most countries and cars costs double like a BMW in the Philippines or in Thailand or anywhere over here, it costs double what it costs in the US. And it’s like the cheaper model and it’s pretty crazy.
James: Yeah. When I was living overseas in Malaysia, I can never afford a luxury car, have to buy a local car. And even that was really good already. So because everything else was expensive just because the governments like to tax the in parts of the car. And also your pay scale really doesn’t jive with the cost of living. Here, the pay scale does compensate for your cost of living. So things are much cheaper here in the US.
Will: Yeah. In China, it blew my mind. You have maybe lower level management positions and hotels or restaurants or whatever and you find out that they’re earning $400 a month and yet that’s what rent costs. Rent is exactly what their income is. And you’re like, how does this even work? Like, I don’t understand the economics and you go visit one of these homes and you realize there are six people in a really, really tiny one bedroom, you know, 400, 500 square feet and it’s not comfortable and it’s not nice.
We’re were very, very lucky as Americans. My wife just became a citizen last month and a smile on her face to have that blue passport. To enter another country with an American passport is a whole different experience than with our Philippine passport where anywhere you go you need a visa. And getting that visa is not like applying online. It’s tax returns. It’s like bank statements. It’s like health records, shots of full travel itinerary of where you’re going when you’re going to be there. Like it was just a mess. We’re spoiled as Americans.
James: Absolutely. Absolutely. So can you name a few things that you think is the secret success, any secret sauces that you think that you want to share with the listeners?
Will: Yeah, I could share a few things that have hugely improved my performance as a businessman, as an entrepreneur, the short cuts per se. Partnering has been huge for me. It’s not for everybody, but it’s for most people, especially when you’re dealing with something like multifamily. I’m by far not the smartest person around, I’m the kind of a simple-minded guy. I don’t even have that many skills. I just have the determination to make sure I’m getting deals done to land the deals, to execute. I’m a doer, but I’ve had to really surround myself with phenomenal partners who understand accounting inside out, who understand books or taxation inside and out, people who are super duper organized. These are big failings that I have in my skillset, my personality. So I’ve had to bring these folks in and show them that I can do something to add value in their life. And then we partner up. And that’s been huge for me.
Another thing that’s been huge as I’ve raised so much capital, I mean my returns in all of this would have been tiny compared to what I was able to do because it was easy to go out after a while and some reputation to raise $10 million or $15 million to do a deal. Without that, my returns would have been a fraction of what they’ve been. But I built the trust, I built the relationships. I performed for my investors. I did everything I could to make them a lot of money and because of that, I made a lot of money, a portion of everything they made, I also made.
Another thing that I think has just been huge was starting this, I wanted to do it all alone. I was one of these guys that just wanted to read on like Bigger Pockets or like hang out online and just read and I could do it alone. I didn’t need anyone’s help. I wanted to own it. That would’ve been a huge mistake in multifamily investing. You can kind of wing it in single family, but multifamily, it’s a team sport all day long. You need a hell of a team on your side, on your behalf. You trust each other, you lean on them, you rely upon them. And so team building, not only for my immediate advisors but also for raising the capital. It required me getting off my butt, get out from the computer, go awkwardly, shake hands, go and meet people and it was horrible for me. I hated doing that. I lacked self-confidence. I lacked the thought that anyone would be interested in even talking to me just I was, I was kind of low and slow. You had to just be like, I really need this. I need this to work, I need this to be successful. So I’m going to go and do the worst thing I could think of doing and plant myself at a networking event from 5:00 PM until 10:00 PM and not allow myself to leave. I’m just there, I’m trapped. But no matter what, I got to go talk to people and it was horrible, terrible. The dentist is better, tax is better, whatever.
But eventually I started liking people at these things and they started knowing what I was up to and I bought that house or I bought that new apartment complex and how is that going? And loosen my tongue. I got my confidence up, my courage up and before long, I really love going to them because those were my pals, those were my buddies. Now, wherever I went to these different real estate meetups and without that, impossible to do the business, I don’t have enough money to take down 10, 20, 30, $40 million deals Like how am I going to do that? I need guarantors, I need KPs who believe in me. How are they going to believe in me? Chatting for a while, talking about my business, bringing them out to my property, sharing a meal or a beer or whatever. And suddenly they’re like, yeah, I’ll sign on your note with you. Some of these were full recourse loans and they’re pledging their stock portfolio on me. Blew my mind. But it was just through being sincere or not hiding stuff, just being a hundred percent transparent with them. And I had people who I never thought wanted to talk to me, betting on me with their signature and pledging their stock portfolio to make me get these full recourse bridge loans done on 50% occupied properties. So that was the long answer, but really, really, really network, partner up if you don’t have what you need, raise capital, do bigger deals and go, go, go.
James: Yeah. Yeah. Awesome advice. I think so much of advising golden nuggets in what you mentioned just now. Is there any proud moments in your life that you think, you know, you’re really proud of that and one day you’re going to tell to your grandkids, you know, when you’re really, really old, one proud moment that you think, oh, I’m so happy I did this. I’m very proud of that. Can you share that with us?
Will: You know, it’s, it’s probably the moment, the sort of make or break moment. When I was in southern California and I had a good thing going, I understood how to flip houses. I was making some okay money at it, paying the bills, accumulating. I had more than anyone I knew, but it was 300 grand or something. It was nothing but it was more than anything I knew. So I had a comfortable life and I had a pattern and I had a sort of figured it out and it was really just stepping back and saying, I want more opportunity and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get it.
So I didn’t know anyone in Dallas, not a soul, zero people there. I looked around the whole country, looked at Florida, I looked at Arizona and Nevada like anywhere there was supposed to be opportunity and I really zeroed in on Texas as hey, strong economy, great wages, low cost of living, low taxation, they seem business friendly and I just pieced this together off of Internet research. I drove around the country and the old piece of crap, 91 Buick with 200,000 miles on it and I was like, where is it? And I picked Texas and it was really just a twin costs on Dallas. I think I visited there in April and it was pretty that day or something and I just moved there.
So I just loaded up my car with all my junk and then dropped it in a storage facility and lived in a motel six as I tried to figure out what’s next, what’s the next play. People looked at me like I was a bit crazy, but to me, that was the only move. Like how could I start a business in California? There wasn’t friendly for businesses down there. Rent was absurdly high, not only to live but to rent anything for an office space or just to build anything. Costs were really high for real estate. So basically to answer your question, what am I really proud of? I took a leap, a calculated risk. I really calculated a lot. I really studied the thing, but then I made that leap. There was nothing comfortable about it. I didn’t have any safety net. I had nothing. I had like six grand in the bank.
I lived, you know, expendable. I had my nugget but that was for business. It was forbidden to touch that. But I had six grand in the bank that I could actually do something with. And, you know, living in a motel six is humbling. Your friends by this point, they are 10 years into their career or five years into their career and they’ve got the three series beemer and the nice condos sort of by the beach kind of in California. And here’s, Will, doing this weird stuff. But I just saw the future. I saw the writing on the wall and I took that gamble and I’m really, really glad I did it. It stacked the odds in my favor, it put odds behind me and I was able to set myself up to use those odds to roll the dice.
It didn’t work immediately in Texas. It took several years to get going, but the odds were on my side. So then I just needed to play the game then. And I did and I played it as much as I could. And then it resulted in a fantastic past seven, eight years here.
James: It’s a big leap of faith, right? And just so many people are scared to take the leap of fate or they just say, oh, I’m going to do it later. People give so many reasons to make that big jump and it’s something that, you know, you have to do it if you have to do it, sometimes you have to make that choice. And is there like a daily habit that you have that you think has contributed a lot to your effectiveness in your success?
Will: I guess this will sound a little controversial. I think there’s maybe two things. One, I got good at that networking thing I talked about, and so probably more than a lot of people, you will find me out at five drinking a decaf coffee somewhere or grabbing a beer with people that I’ve never met before. I don’t know who these people are, they just messaged me on Facebook. I’m like, okay, that what’s happening here in Manila, people I’ve never met. They’re like, you’re in Manila. I’m going to be in Hong Kong, I’ll meet you. But that’s been huge to just keep doors open. Every time you meet a new person, you never know what door that’s going to open up and even if they’re humble and starting, they have ideas or a work ethic that you want to be part of or some new partnerships or new source of deals, some new source of equity, whatever.
So I do a lot of people are like, are you working? You know, sitting there just kind of talking at a bar or whatever. Yeah, that’s been huge to keep some momentum going for me, a little controversial maybe. And then on the flip side of that, I try to stay sharp by every morning waking up and going for a jog and without fail, I’ve got my earbuds in and I’m listening to some podcasts. I’m listening to some audio book. I’m listening to something that’s just drilling further understanding, intelligence into my mind, shifting my perspective. That’s been huge for me to not maintain, but to continue to grow and expand my mind and where I’m going to go in the future. That’s been huge for me. And the exercise combined with the knowledge is amazing.
James: Awesome. Is there anything else that you want to share with the audience, the listeners that you have not shared in any of the podcasts that you think, hey, I should mention this in some podcasts?
Will: Interesting question. I think I haven’t mentioned this just because it’s pretty new in my mind, but it’s really easy to get locked into the idea that going from having $2 million to $4 million is going to do something for you. It won’t do anything for you. Like you won’t even notice. It’s so obnoxious that adding $1 million to your balance sheet will go unnoticed, but it gets to that point in a hurry to where you really have to shift and I was lazy about it. It’s like, oh, there’s another deal. I’ll grab this. I’ll do this one, do this one. What’s really changed my life for the better has been reevaluating, stepping back and saying, okay, literally adding a few more million will go unnoticed to me but what will be noticed for me is I dramatically shift my schedule, how I’m living my life, who I’m interacting with, and that’s kept me out of the daily grind of business a lot.
I’m still doing it. I still check in, I still email, I still call, but it’s become a third of my day instead of 133% of my day. I do a lot more reading. I’ll do more traveling, I’ll focus more on cooking or I’m a musician, then I focus on that and this is maybe the wrong topic for a real estate show or whatever. Maybe you frame it how you want, but it’s been hugely rewarding for me to make that transition to enjoy life daily. Don’t procrastinate life till later. I’m 39 and I feel very, very fortunate to be in this spot now to where I’m expanding and I’m learning and I’m studying language and philosophy and it’s making me so much better person than throwing another several million dollars on the balance sheet. So that’s a new thought for me. I haven’t said it on any podcast but that’s really what I’m thinking about right now, a lot.
James: Awesome. Awesome. And I have to say thank you to you, Will, because when I started in real estate, when I started doing multifamily, I have a lot of ideas and thoughts and I started writing my own blogs and I think you are one of the one who read one of my blog and you say good things about my blog and I was thinking, huh? Not bad.
Will: I remember that well. I’m like, who’s this guy? This is really great.
James: I was like, Huh? Somebody like real, I mean, I think, at that time you were well known in the multifamily space and I was thinking, oh, not bad by somebody commented me. So that’s why I started writing more blogs and I say, I need to write a book. English is not my first language but I mean, putting everything that I have in my mind into a book or on my blog helps me a lot because I don’t know, for some reason I have to write it down and share it with others.
And especially when you have the knowledge, you know, what’s the point of keeping it to yourself. Right? So you have to share it and I’m proud of all your work that you’ve been doing in with the children’s treatment in the Philippines, which is, I think it’s very, very fulfilling. I think that’s something that nobody can take away from you. I mean, you can lose the money, you can lose the real estate, you can lose your entire life but that’s something that, I don’t know whether I’m talking for you or not, but for me, it feel like it follows you because that’s Karma, right? You do good, things are going to go your way. Do you want to tell the listeners how to get hold of you?
Will: Sure. I’m a big Facebook guy, so my id is Will Crozier. I’m friends with James, but just hook up with me there. Two websites that are relevant for me is capxventures.com. That’s kind of my multifamily arm. I am also hanging out @angelcapitalist.com. That’s where I put some of my boring, boring blog posts; things that I cook up once in a while when I’m really bored. There’s some of that there. How to connect with me is there. Some of the humanitarian projects. I’m also doing some angel investing in businesses that I really believe in. I loved not only real estate but any business, small business or larger so I’ve been investing in small businesses lately. There’s one’s called Propelio, maybe some people have heard about it so subscribe to that. Make me some more money, please. It’s a great group of free real estate, especially single family educational content. Totally free. They‘re not selling you anything regarding that. So check it out. They’re having a great academy there. I think those are the best ways to connect with me and kind of keep tabs on what I’m up to. And I love people to pitch. So if you have deals that you want to partner up with me on or a business that you need equity sometimes that, usually I like equity, but, yeah, reach out.
James: Yeah. Yeah. I mean that’s a clue, guys. I mean, if you want to pitch your business to Will, I mean, I can bet you he can look at financials and quickly tell you whether the deal works or not because it takes a lot of skill to really do deep value -add, and, you know, not many people can do it as well, but I think Will is a really good resource for that. So. All right. Thank you very much for coming on the show and happy to have you here. Thank you.
Will: A lot of fun, James. Thanks.