James: Okay. So let’s get started.
Hey audience, this is James Kandasamy from Achieve Wealth Podcast. Today, we have Tim Bratz from Legacy Wealth Holdings. Tim is a multi-family syndicator/sponsor who owns almost 3200 units almost valued at 250 million dollars in value.
Hey Tim, welcome to the show.
Tim: James, I appreciate you having me, buddy, thank you.
James: Absolutely. Happy to have you here. I’ve been trying to get you on the show for some time and we have been playing tag on the appointments. That’s good. So, can you tell me which market are you focusing on right now?
Tim: I’m actually in six different markets, six different states. I’m pretty heavy in the Southeast. Majority of my property, about 70% of my properties are in South Carolina and Georgia, but I’m also in Ohio which is where I live. And then I’m also in Texas, Oklahoma and I got a couple of vacation rentals down in Florida as well.
James: Okay. Without going too much into detail just quickly, how did you start? And then how did you scale to 3,200 units within how many years?
Tim: Yeah. Well, I mean, I was going through college when the last market cycle was going gangbusters. So 03 to 07, I’m going through college, everybody said if you wanna make money get involved in real estate. I ended up moving out to New York City because my brother was living out there. And I became a commercial real estate agent for businesses. You know, so I broker leases and I brokered a lease that was 400 square feet in Manhattan. It was $10,000 a month and so I was like the wrong side of the coin. I need to be owning real estate not brokering it.
So I got into a lot of the residential stuff. I think a lot of investors get into real estate because of the lure of passive income and residual income, but then many of us get stuck doing this transactional stuff of flipping houses and wholesaling. And I went through that same phase, you know, I thought I had to stockpile my own cash. I didn’t understand that you could syndicate, that you could raise private money and bring in equity partners and how your sponsors to then cosign on loans. I didn’t know that that was possible.
So I went through the whole residential side of things and bought my first apartment building the end of 2012. So just like seven years ago. It was a little eighth unit building and I fixed it all up, put tenants in place and I was like man, I’m making better returns on this than I am flipping houses and it’s way less headaches. And so I bought another eight-unit and kind of built up a portfolio about 150 units with some partners.
That partnership ended up going bad a few years later. In 2015, I ended up liquidating everything and then just going back out on my own. And so I started on my own and just kind of partnered up with a couple of people that they just started raising money for different projects and I partnered up with good operators and bring money to those projects and help sponsor those loans or I started buying my own properties here locally in Cleveland. And over the past four years, pretty much in August of 2015, I started buying my own stuff.
So it’s been right at four years now. I built up a little over 3200 units, 3207 units as of today, about 251 million dollars worth of property value and my model is based on the residential realm, actually. I buy properties and I got to be all in for 65% of the stabilized value because that’s what the model was. I never read a book. I never went to a seminar before. I just kind of developed it myself and I started buying properties, apartment buildings, the exact same way.
So I have to be able to buy it, renovate it, be all in for 65% of that stabilized value. And so a lot of the buildings that I buy, you know, I’m into a building that’s worth 10 million dollars for about six-six and a half million dollars. So on the 250 million dollars worth of property, I only owe to lenders and my equity investors, it’s like right at 150 million dollars. So we have a lot of equity in our properties too.
James: Got it. Got it. So it’s very interesting you bring up that 65% because that’s the exact number that I had when I was doing my single-family for zero money down. So I counted if I get at 65% ARV, which is after repair value, you should be able to do a second load, which is I call it as a double closing of a loan. I have two loans; one loan is like you do like a short term loan and at 65%, you buy it, you take a rehab loan and then you flip it to the long term loan.
Tim: Yes. That’s my entire model. So I don’t traditionally syndicate, I buy distressed assets. I’m bigger than some of the smaller investors but not quite a hedge fund or a Reit and I’m willing to get my hands dirty, I’m willing to actually do the work. So I take on a little bit more distressed type properties.
I only buy in A and B Class areas, but the properties are typically C-Class type properties that need physical improvements, better management. Like really not just value-add but like a total repositioning a lot of times. We’re remarketing, rebranding, all that. And so, we come in and we fix it all up and because we force appreciation because we can make it happen and really create the appreciation versus speculating on appreciation and hoping values go up over the next five years, we’re able to create a lot of equity in that first 12 months and then we’re able to turn around and refinance and cash out our investors.
So instead of selling, I just refinance at like a 70% loan to value that gives me enough money to then, pay off my bridge loan. Or that short-term construction loan is and it helps me pay off my investors and to me, it’s more predictable. It’s more predictable to know where interest rates and where the economy is going to be 12 months from now or 18 months from now than it is like maybe 5 or 7 years from now. Five or seven years from now, we could have a very different economy, very different political circumstances; could have three different presidents in the next five years, right? So we just don’t know.
And for me, I like the predictability of buying at a wholesale price, creating an appreciation and then cashing out my investors. Now it’s you know for lack of a better term house money in play, right? So now we can let the property ride and we can hit sit on it. It doesn’t matter what happens to the economy for the next 10 years, I have a long-term, long amortization schedule fixed interest rate loan, non-recourse loan in place; where the market can go up it can go down, I still have tenants in place paying the debt service, paying the operating expenses, and putting cash in my pocket and I could ride this thing out because I don’t owe any of my investors any more cash.
James: Got it. Got it. So yeah, that’s exactly the deep value add, that’s how I position it where you buy it at really good value; very, very low level. You really put all your effort to push up the first appreciation and then you go and refi in 12 to 18 months, I guess right?
Tim: And we built some new construction stuff too, down in the Southeast. We built some townhouses. Like we’ll do new construction, it’ll be like an A or B plus kind of an area but it’s not luxury. We do only workforce type housing so we can build townhouses for about $85,000 per unit, 80 to 90,000 per unit and they’ll rent for about 1,300 bucks a month for us.
And so that allows us to get the values where we need it to then refinance and do the exact same thing just for new construction. So we do a little bit of that and more repositioning of existing assets though.
James: Yeah, very interesting. I really like the model. I was doing it like two-three years ago. I mean, for me, I got worried about the market and I start, not looking for deep value add and also deep value add is harder to find. Even though you find it, what happened the sellers are basically taking the value by pushing up the price on the deep value add and because of that, it’s not a deep value add anymore.
Tim: Right. I don’t pay a seller for the value that I’m going to bring to the property, right? So there are some sellers that you know, they’re like, oh, well, this could be worth this much. Yeah, but I have to create that value. You’re not creating that value. So we find we’re a lot of times direct to seller, off-market type property. You know, we’re big enough now, especially in Georgia and South Carolina, we have the broker relationships where we’re one of the top five buyers in town and you get those deals before they actually hit the market.
But in a lot of other markets, I’m not, you know, the biggest buyer in town so I have to go off-market, direct to seller, kind of stuff. And we get a lot of our properties from Mom and Pops who have owned it for 20 30 years or inherited the property. They just didn’t put any more money back into it.
You know, the total debt on the property is very low if at all and they just don’t want to put any more money into it. They don’t want to do the work so we buy it from them. Or I buy a lot from smart entrepreneurs, really sharp people who make a lot of money in their traditional business and they just put their money in real estate and then they didn’t have a joint venture partner.
They never got educated. They don’t know how to manage a management company or interview a management company and they just get abused in the business. So they’re like I’m making too much money in my traditional business, this thing is going to sink me. Let me just fire sale this apartment building.
So that’s where we buy most of our properties from. And then again: we reposition it, we do the stuff that that hedge funds aren’t willing to do, and we’re qualified enough to take down a 200 unit building that needs a pretty heavy value-add. I do it that way. But like you said though, James, I’m starting to buy a little bit more stabilized assets, more like 85-90 percent occupied of just a little bit of tweaks in the common areas and amenities and then bumping up some rents. We’re doing a little bit more of that right now just because of where we are in the market cycle.
James: Yeah, correct. But you gave a lot of details that I want to go a bit more detail into that. So you said you look for deals that are in class A and B, but more distress. And I mean you’re basically shrinking your funnel as well because you’re going for that…
Tim: Niche gets rich, right?
James: Exactly. [11:02crosstalk]
Tim: People say hey real estate’s mine age. Now real estate’s an industry, right? Apartments aren’t even initial. You need to figure out what you are really, really good at. And one of the things that I’m really good at is 80 units to 100 units that are distress. It’s bigger, it’s too distressed for the small guys to get a loan on it because they don’t have the background or the resume to go and take down that kind of stuff and the qualifications do that because they haven’t done it before. It’s a big project, big value add and at the same time, it’s too distressed for the hedge funds because they just want to park money and let it sit, let it ride, and let it cash flow from day one.
So this is my niche. It’s A and B Class areas; good areas, desirable areas, just distressed kind of properties and we’re able to get in there and we have all the financing, the relationships are all in place. We could raise the money pretty easily because we can cycle our money every 12 to 18 months. I don’t have to wait five years to get my investors their money out; I can cycle at every 12 to 18 months. So as soon as I pay him back guess what they say, let’s go do another one. And then they’re involved in you know, three deals in five years versus one deal in five years and it makes my life easier because I don’t have to go and raise money from new people all the time.
James: Got it. Got it. That’s a really good model. So that’s the investors after you cash out when you pay them back, do they stay in the deal as well?
Tim: Yep. So mine’s a little bit different than traditional syndication. Usually me and my joint venture boots-on-the-ground partners, we keep 70 to 80% of the equity in the deal and then we pay a pref, a fixed pref to our investors regardless of the properties performance. So even if it’s not cash flowing it’s predictable because I know that if I’m borrowing 2 million bucks, I’m paying, let’s say, 10% pref, I’m going to pay $200,000. That’s just a cost of the deal. I got roofs, I got flooring, I got paint, I got cost of capital; it’s an extra $200,000.
So I build that into my model and then I can make those payments to them. They feel more confident, more comfortable because now they have a predictable return on their investment. Then I refinance, they get all their money back off the table and then they still maintain 20-30% ownership without any money invested and we’re able to do that again and again and again. And so, you know with traditional syndicators if I try raising money from somebody who’s used to traditional syndication, they’re like, why would I ever do that? Well, you get a predictable return and secondly, you get 30% ownership.
But if all your money is in three different deals, it’s actually 90% ownership because 30% 30% 30%. And so overall, they’re actually ahead of what they would do in traditional syndication where they might get 70 or 80% of the equity in one deal. So, it actually works out better for the investors, works out better for me but it’s a lot of work on my part. We spend a lot of money.
Sometimes we spend a lot of money on advertising in new markets until we have those relationships built up and then, in order to find those off-market direct to seller deals and it’s a lot of work. Like my business partner down in Georgia that I own a bunch of property with, he goes and sleeps at the properties for three nights a week. He spends four full days there, sleeps in a B-class apartment, you know, on a blow-up mattress, the guy is worth 25 million bucks. And then his brother who’s our other partner is worth another 25 million and they’re sleeping at the properties, doing the work, kicking the tables, making sure construction ends up on time, on budget and that’s what you need to do man.
I see a lot of people who are trying to be this puppet master and they’re not willing to actually do the work of taking ownership over this thing. They just want to go and syndicate and then go back off to whatever they’re doing. And to me, like there’s something to be said about just having old school diligence and work mentality and what you can get done if you’re willing to do that kind of stuff.
James: Yeah, real estate is very, very powerful; especially commercial real estate where you can force appreciate. And especially if you are going to get the majority of the equity in the deal, why not I sleep, right? In 12 months, 70 to 80% of this deal is going to be mine. Why not work hard, I’m with you.
Tim: It’s a season of your life. If you’re putting your head down for a year or 18 months, but then you can generate millions of dollars of equity, why not do that? And so yeah, that’s kind of the mentality that we take.
James: Correct. Yeah, it’s very powerful to create wealth and I think the investors appreciate that as well because now you’re able to give them back their money and all that. But your model is assuming that you are able to refi into a long term loan in the 12 to 18 months, right? So what happened if that model breaks?
Tim: Yep, absolutely. So that’s the inherent risk with our model is what happens if rates change, what happens? If banking tightens up, what does that all look like?
So a couple of things. One, I don’t think rates are going to change as much in 12 or 18 months as they would maybe in five or seven years. So to me, we underwrite the deal – like right now, I just closed on 500 units. I got 2 buildings, around 250 units each last month and I got a 3.83 and a 3.88 interest rate. Even right now, rates went up back; they’re hovering around for four and a quarter right now for stabilized assets.
We’re underwriting the deals with 4.75 to five percent interest rate on the back end for a stabilized property. So we’re taking on some of that, some of that, we’re underwriting it for that. We also underwrite our rents very, very conservatively and we’re at such a low basis in the property, usually around 60% of what that stabilized value is, we have options. So Fannie and Freddie are tightening up big time right now. That’s okay because we’re at such a low basis that we can still go over to CMBS – commercial mortgage-backed security – or a life insurance company and even though they offer a lower loan to value, I’m okay with that because I’m at a low enough basis. I can still cash out my investors.
So worst-case scenario, my investors still get their money back and we have a lower LTV loan. So maybe there’s not some refi proceeds or anything like that that we can take off the table but at the end of the day, they’re going to have more equity, you know, their equities gonna be worth more in the property and the cash flow is going to be more on a recurring basis for that. And the other thing is even when banks stopped lending to people in 2009-2010, guess what? They were still lending to somebody and it was the people with big balance sheets, with stabilized portfolios. And I have a big enough balance sheet and stable enough portfolio. I’ll be able to get refinanced regardless of what happens in the next 12 to 18 months so I’m not that concerned about it.
And again, because our basis is so low, we have such high cash flow on these properties. I have different options and have a good team of mortgage brokers. Who even if I had a slap another, you know three-year loan on there, even if it was at 6% interest rate or six and a half percent interest rate, I can still cash flow; it’s enough. It covers my operating expenses, it covers my debt service, still puts cash flow in the bank. You know, it’s a crappy conversation that I have to have with my equity investors, but they keep on making ten percent on their money so they’re happy.
You know, the worst-case scenario is they get their money back in 48 months; then, you know it is what it is. So I’ve taken a look at all the downside. I’ve talked to people with billion dollar portfolios and said, hey poke holes in my model. And that’s the inherent risk is what if you can’t refinance? So that’s one of the things. The deals that I just closed last month, they were already in that 85-90 percent occupancy range. Like right at 90-91, I think is what they were. And so we got a Fannie Mae loan actually on it. That’s a construction loan that we’ll be able to put a supplemental debt on it. So, it’s already a long term loan, 30-year amortization, couple years of interest only. And then, whenever we create the appreciation, 12 months 18 months from now, we’ll be able to put supplemental debt, which is kind of like a second mortgage almost but through the same lender, so they’re cool with it. And so the only real risk I’m taking is the interest rate on that portion of the debt.
I owe 17 million dollar mortgage on it right now. And then the other will be about another 7 million dollars. So the only real rate risk is I’ll get home at three point eight percent on 17 million dollars, even if the other 7 million goes a 5%, my blended cost of capital still four and a quarter or maybe a little less. So, you know, that’s another way that we’re reducing that ongoing risk.
James: It’s very interesting. Now you’re convincing me to do deep value add again. So because it’s just so hard to mess up.
Tim: I mean, the construction is where it all comes down to. I mean, if you stay on time and on budget, you’re in good shape. But if you don’t have a good construction partner like you can really get burn bad in the deep value add stuff. So you’ve got to understand what your team looks like, what your strengths are, what your weaknesses are. And for me, we’re okay with it. We’re pretty good at it and we have a really good construction team.
My partner in Georgia, man, I put him toe-to-toe against anybody in the country from a construction standpoint. He can build new construction, he can renovate existing units. And because he has the mentality of ‘let me go and sleep at the property’ three nights a week, away from his family, away from his five kids, you know, he’s willing to take that on because it’s again a season of his life. Like that’s kind of partners that I like to partner up with.
James: Yeah. Hustlers, they will go really far in life and that’s what we need. It’s very interesting. So I mean, is there any deal that you find that you didn’t do? That you think you should have done and after you passed on it, you realized, ah, should have done that deal? Is there a deal that you look at…
Tim: That’s a good question. Let me think on this. We try to kill deals. I try to kill every deal that comes across my plate, especially right now. I try to look for every reason to walk away from every deal that comes across my desk. If I cannot kill the deal then I know it’s a good deal. And so, you know, as soon as you’re like, ‘hey, well, I think I can scale back construction and make it work’, wrong idea, wrong strategy. Because the last thing you want to scale back is the construction of the value-add process. Because then your rents aren’t going to hit where you expect them to hit because you’re not able to attract better tenants or higher quality tenants and they don’t see the value that you’re adding to the property.
At the end of the day, like people like, ‘oh, I think we can make this one work.’ No. The only way you can make it work is if you go back to the seller and negotiate a lower purchase price because that’s the only variable in this equation. You know, what rents are going to be is what rents are going to be; what the construction budget is, is what the construction budget is. The only variable here is the purchase price. And you know, you make your money on the buy side. So are there deals that I passed up on that I should have moved on? Maybe but for me, man, I don’t have much of a risk tolerance. I only buy stuff that I know that is very predictable to me.
That’s why I don’t play the stock market. I can’t control if you know Volkswagen – I can’t control if Elon Musk smokes a joint on public television and the stock drops by 15%; you know, I can’t control that. I like being able to control real estate and having very predictable returns for me and my investors.
And sometimes it’s a gut check, you know. Even if everything looks good on paper, but my gut doesn’t feel good about it, I’ll say no to a deal. It’s just that I’ve seen enough deals go south. And as quickly as we can build our net worth, being in commercial real estate, one bad deal can take out your legs and wipe you out totally. So I’m just not willing to take on that risk, especially when it takes so much work in order to get to where we are.
James: Yeah. Yeah. I mean I want to touch on your gut check thing because I know numbers don’t lie and we are numbers guys and when underwriting, we want to make sure things work on paper and all that. But I’ve walked out of a deal because everything works very well and the numbers look good, but there is something wrong in that deal that I didn’t discover and I’ve walked out from that kind of deal as well. And that’s very important. I mean, real estate is not only science where everybody says a numbers game and people that are good in numbers will do it but there’s a lot of odd to it as well where it’s just something wrong somewhere and it comes from experience.
Tim: That’s the only way you get that, from experience and it’s usually personnel kind of things that make me walk from a deal. I’m just not comfortable with that joint venture partner, with that management company or with whatever the seller is saying. You can kind of see through the lines once in a while, whatever that is. Yeah, I mean my model is I’m really good at raising money. I’m really good at sourcing deals. We’re pretty good at creating – like we can handle a lot of the back office type stuff.
I’m back in Cleveland, Ohio now, is where I live, we can handle a lot of the management side of things; collecting of rents, work orders, telecommunication; all that kind of stuff, all the administrative side. From here in Cleveland, we just need a local boots-on-the-ground partner and some local property managers, maintenance personnel, and I always have a joint venture partner locally. And so if that joint venture partner isn’t strong enough, then usually I’ll walk away from the deal. Because man, I think it’s important to have somebody with vested interest, with equitable interest in the deal; who’s local to the property, who can go put their eyes on it a couple of times a month; to keep everybody honest, to keep the management company honest, to keep the local property manager, maintenance personnel, leasing agents and just come in and kick the tables once a month and just let people know that we’re paying attention. Because if you don’t pay attention, then they take advantage of you.
James: Yeah, it’s hard work. I mean, I know exactly how you feel in terms of how much hustle and how much detail and how much you have to be on top of the property managers because it’s not their baby, it’s your baby. And there’s so much of details that if you don’t ask them, they’re just going to slack off right?
James: They are paid differently from what we have paid for and we are the owners and it’s just completely different ownership level, right? So that’s very interesting. Is there any deal that you think after you bought it didn’t match from what you thought in the beginning. You thought this is how I’m going to execute it but once you buy, it’s like, oh, it’s completely different from what I thought and how did you overcome it?
Tim: Yeah, I mean every deal is a learning experience and you to get punched in the gut enough times and eventually you learn. Fortunately, you know when I was growing my portfolio, I bought my first building in 2012 and I bought an eight-unit building for $30,000. So I’m in Cleveland, Ohio buying units for $4,000 a unit. I put another, I don’t know, 50 grand into it. So I’m all in for $10,000 a unit. And it’s hard to lose. And so in 2012 2013 2014 as I’m growing my portfolio, while I’m going through these learning curves, the market is getting better and that was able to absorb a lot of my screw-ups early on. So I still made money on every single deal that I did even though I was learning on a lot of these things.
There’s only one building, a 44 unit building, that I bought about 2-3 years ago maybe that I’ve lost money on. It was one of those things, hey, I saw the leases, I saw the rent roll. It was 80% occupied and I bought it from a guy that I know, somebody that I actually know. And so, I bought 44 units and he’s like, “Yeah, man, 80% occupancy.”
“Great, man. I’m going to come in, I’m going to renovate the last whatever 9 units and turn those over. I got a local team.” He was out of state.
“So like my team can come in clean it all up clean up the common areas. I think I can make $300,000 on this thing in the next 12 months pretty easily and it’ll cash flow a little bit in the meantime.”
So I buy it and I find out it’s only 25% economically occupied. So there are 35 tenants or something in place and only 11 of them are actually paying rent. And so I learned my lesson there, you know. It’s not about occupancy, it’s about collections.
And this is a buddy of mine. This is somebody I’ve known for many years and grabbed dinner with him, his wife, my wife and not a lot of times but a few times and close enough where I call him a buddy. And all of a sudden, he sells me a building, tells me it’s 80% occupied, doesn’t tell me it’s only collecting 25%. And all of a sudden, I had to kick out 24 tenants and turn over 24 additional units.
So imagine what that cost does now to the $300,000 I thought I was going to make? And this was one of the only times I brought an investor in and he wanted 50/50 of the deal: “Let me bring the money, you do the deal.”
And I’m stroking a check for about 35 40 thousand dollars when it was all said and done. And I could have gone to that investor and said, “Hey, man, I need 20 grand from you. I’m putting up 20 grand of my money. We’re selling this thing. It’s a pain in the butt. We’re gonna lose money on it. But, you know, we gotta get rid of it. And that’s part of the deal.”
Instead, I stroked the entire check, gave him 100% of his money back and because he didn’t make a return, I gave him equity in another deal of mine, without him having to put up any money just to kind of soften that blow. And so I think when you do the right thing by your investors word spreads, you know, he says great things about me, he wants to invest in more deals with me and stuff now. It is, do the right thing knowing that there’s always another deal. There’s always another opportunity.
That one, we could have held on to the property long-term and let it cash flow. That’s a cool thing about buying apartment buildings. You can really screw up and if you had to, you can hold on to it, manage it, let it cash flow for the next 10 years and eventually, you’ll actually make money on these things even with that big of a screw-up. But for me and where my long-term vision is and my team and everything else, it was just more of a C-Class type property. It took up too much management and too many headaches. It wasn’t big enough. We couldn’t really scale it. So we made just a business decision to sell it and to eat that loss. But it’s the only building I ever really ever lost money on.
Now we’ve gone through pretty much everything and we’ve gotten kicked in the crotch enough times where we know what to look for across every building. Like it’s very hard to pull the wool over our eyes unless it’s like grossly fraudulent on the sellers part.
Another big thing that I didn’t know early on that I wish I should have done that’s always a consistent issue with every building we’ve ever bought is like the plumbing and the drain tiles leaving the building. It’s always one of those unknowns. So now, we spend three to five thousand dollars to scope every single drain line, in every building that we put under contract to ensure that there’s not going to be this massive plumbing bill, unexpected plumbing bill, once we buy the property. So that’s one of the things that’s been a big deal.
And then just verifying collections. Like those two things from a financial due diligence and a physical due diligence perspective like those two things that we’ve dialed in now and we always did everything else. We always inspected the rooms in every unit, the electrical panels. One of the other things that I didn’t do early on that I do now, we’ve done for the many years now, is I used to only walk the vacant units and the common areas and the mechanical rooms. And then all of a sudden, you realize that they’re not showing you all the vacant units. There are other vacant units that they’re telling you that they’re occupied, they just didn’t want you to see them. And like I bought buildings where tenants were turning on and off their faucet with a wrench because there’s no actual faucet. So you don’t realize a lot of that stuff early on when you’re a dumb kid. But I’ve been through all man. I’ve been everything. We walk every single unit on a 500 unit apartment building. We will walk every single unit and we’ll put a report together on every single unit.
It’s a one-page, just kind of condition report. We’ll take 30 pictures of every single unit. We put it all into like a Google Drive or Dropbox folder. In that way, we have all the information we could ever need on this property. We’re not relying on our memory to look up all that stuff.
It’s all there. Our contractors can see it during the entire due diligence period, all that stuff. And so I think everything’s a learning curve. I think you learn from everything. The thing in this business though is like if you can get past all those learning curves, if you can get past some of those losses and some of those getting punched in the stomach, eventually, you’re process is so dialed in.
Like they can’t pull the wool over your eyes that you cannot lose on deals. And that’s why we walk away from a lot of deals that we do because they’re waiting for somebody who’s an idiot who doesn’t know what they’re doing to come in and buy their property and overpay for it or not do the due diligence that they’re supposed to be doing and all these other things. But eventually, you know what you’re doing enough, where your risk is so minimized because you’ve done all the due diligence on these things, it’s a very predictable business at the end of the day. Like you said, it’s all about numbers, right?
James: Yeah, I mean, it’s crazy nowadays, right? I mean with the market being as hot as it is right now, with so many people looking for deals and so many bidding war. So nowadays, the smarter thing that a lot of brokers and sellers are doing, they say day one hard money. Now, they lock you in. So you go into a bidding war, you pay this huge amount of hard money and sometimes they don’t even give you early access., So now you’re locked in. You can find a thousand and one things and yet we are locked in.
Tim: No, I don’t do that stuff. I don’t play that game. You don’t need to if your off-market direct to seller. If you’re going through brokers, they’re going to do that to you, you know. And there are some people who have crazy money and they’re willing to risk that; I’m not willing to risk any of that stuff. A lot of people, they spend a lot of time on ROI – return on investment. I spend a lot of time on return on ROI – return of investment, you know, and making sure I get all my money back.
I never ever want to risk principal.
I mean that deal, that’s just too risky of a deal. If they want hard earnest money from day one and I haven’t already walked the entire property, I’m not interested in doing it. I think once you get to a point where if you’re partnered up with a great sponsor or you are a great sponsor yourself and you have the business acumen that like you have James or that I have like I’m able to posture up with these sellers now and kind of say, “Hey. Yeah, no problem. You can go steal somebody’s earnest money. That’s okay. You can go ahead and do that. But they’re not gonna be able to close on this deal because you’re lying about the condition of the property or the financials whatever. Or if you’re willing to actually sell it to me, give me my opportunity to do my due diligence and shoot straight with me on everything, I promise you, I’m more capable of closing than any of the other people that you’re getting bids from right now or you’re getting offers from right now.”
And so I’ve been able to kind of build up my credibility in that way where sellers are willing to take less money and offer me better terms than they would maybe with somebody else because they know that I can close on the property. They don’t want to get dragged through the mud.
James: Correct. Yeah, this is very interesting, nowadays, the way the market is being played. They’re putting all these handcuffs of hard money, day one. And there’s another handcuffed where they said you must do lending with our own in-house lending. So that’s another handcuff. There are two or three handcuffs that brokers are putting on sellers. And the third subtle handcuff that they do; nowadays, when they close, they send out an email saying that, oh, this buyer paid day one, you know huge amount of money $500,000. They’re telling everybody else.
Tim: They’re trying to set that expectation.
James: If you want to come and buy deals nowadays, you better be ready. So many handcuffs are being put on buyers. But I think a lot of sellers, you know, if they want to work with a good buyer, people who want to really do business, they don’t know want to just make the money on earnest money and waste a lot of time getting people to walk through all their units and getting their stuff all being nervous.
So just find a guy who’s willing to do it and who is the true buyer. Who knows what he’s doing and can close.
Tim: The good brokers with long-term visions and long-term goals, know how to find quality buyers and that’s better than just anybody who raises their hand with earnest money, you know. In every hot market, there are people who are short-sighted, who got into real estate real quick just because they wanted to get rich quick, kind of a thing. And they’d rather just do it that way and then anybody who raises their hand, they’re willing to go with and those aren’t the brokers you want to work with. You want to work with the people who have been around the block a few times, who understand what a good buyer looks like, can build those ongoing relationships. Because as soon as the market shifts, if things cool off, it’s going to clean out all the unqualified buyers and unqualified brokers as well.
James: Correct. So, let’s go to a bit more personal side of things. So what I like about you is you’re very, very positive. So you like to look at life very positively and you know, it’s hard to do because sometimes you always have something negative that comes in. So do you want to explain about in this business, yeah, you always want to say something negative that you always want to talk about but how do you maintain that positivity?
Tim: Yeah, I mean, you know, I told you the story when we met up a couple of weeks ago or a month ago. I mean, just less than 90 days ago, I was out golfing and I got rocketed to the face with a golf ball, 100 miles an hour from about 30 yards away. It shattered my upper maxilla bone. It knocked out four of my front teeth and shredded my gums. And my lip opened and I was bleeding like crazy. I look down. I’m like, oh, I feel my teeth dangling from my gums and I look down at the ground and I kind of took a knee to make sure I didn’t pass out. I looked down at the grass, I’m like, “Man, this grass is really well-manicured; like beautiful grass here, on this golf course.”
And I’m like, How the hell am I able to keep up such a positive attitude in this?” You know, I’m thinking about my thoughts. I’m very reflective in that regard. And I was like, “Well, here’s why I can see it positive because I got hit my mouth and not in my eyeball or my temple. I could be blind or dead if this thing was an inch higher than where it was.”
And so, man, I don’t know if it’s the law of attraction. You can call it God, you can call it, you know the universe and call it whatever but I think when you put the positivity out, it comes full circle. It’s kind of like you reap what you sow kind of a thing and I sow seeds of positivity. And so, I jump in the golf cart and I get taken back to the clubhouse.
You know, who’s dining in the clubhouse? There are two dentists and an ER nurse having dinner in the clubhouse. They put me in there. They look at my teeth. They drop what they’re doing. They take me to their dental office, 15 minutes down the road. They stitched me all up. They put my teeth back in and I’m able to save my teeth and 90 days later, you couldn’t even tell that this whole thing happened. Like I’m still going through some cosmetic stuff, but overall like it was a terrible situation, but I think because I was positive it all just kind of came to fruition.
So, you know, one of the things I’ve always practiced is not saying I have to do something but saying I get to do something. When I go out to dinner with a bunch of my friends and I pick up the tab,
they’re like, “Dude, you don’t have to do that.”
” No, I don’t have to do it but I get to.”
The reason that I do what I do is so that I can help people out and I can pay it forward. “Oh, hey, you don’t have to cover that bill. You don’t have to do this”
‘No, but I get to.”
I had to eat soup for about a month afterward, but I’m thinking you know, I’m eating a tomato bisque basil soup. I don’t have to eat mud pies like people do on the other side of the earth. I don’t have to walk two miles each way to go and get fresh water like people have to do on the other side of the earth and some people on this side of the earth. I get to eat soup, I get to eat something that’s a bisque that has basil in it. Like are you kidding me? Like there are people who would kill to be able to eat that kind of stuff. I didn’t have 14 teeth knocked out, I only had four teeth knocked out.
I think when you just compare it and you put it in that type of perspective of, man, it could have been way worse, you know, like the situation could have gone – and there are still people even with me with my teeth dangling from my mouth, being in that circumstance, I’m still in a better circumstance than a lot of other people who don’t have any food, who don’t have any shelter, who don’t have any clothes, who don’t have any support. They’re being trafficked by like human trafficking like all that kind of crazy stuff.
Even when I have to go out and raise – I had to raise 7 million bucks for deals last month, and now I don’t have to raise 7 million bucks. I get to raise 7 million bucks; that’s a pretty awesome problem to have. And I think just putting it in that perspective of shifting your ‘I-have-to’ to ‘I get to’, will really make you more gratuitous or have more gratitude for life.
James: Was it because of your parents or do you think because you just had some event in your life that you think now I have to change my time or it’s just how you have been?
Tim: That’s a good question. My mom as always been very positive. My mom as always been, hey, you have something else to compare it to. Compare it to this, compare it to that. And I think that’s probably what planted the seed of always looking at it from, “Yeah. You’re right. I guess it could be way worse, right?”
It could have been totally different circumstance. She always used to say, “Hey, if that’s your biggest problem today, you’ve got a pretty good life, Tim.” When I was growing up: “Ma, I don’t know what I’m gonna do like my basketball just popped.”
“If that’s your biggest problem today, it’s a pretty good problem to have.” You know, you’re safe. You’re secure, you’re healthy, you have a family, you’ve got people who love you, you’ve got food with food on the table and clothes on your back and a roof over your head. Like all those kinds of things like you put in perspective. There’s people dealing with a lot worse things.
And yeah, I think my mom kind of rooted that into me maybe early on and it definitely stuck and man, I just show gratitude. Especially once you have kids, you know, and you realize man like all I want is their safety and their security and their healthiness and their happiness and as long as they’re happy and I’m happy. That kind of a thing that’s really amplified it over the past four years. I have a four-year-old and a two-year-old now. And so just putting things into in the perspective that way has been a big deal.
James: Awesome. Awesome. Is there one proud moment in your life that you think you will be remembering it for your entire life?
Tim: That’s a good question, James. You’ve got some good questions there, buddy.
James: I want you to think and answer.
Tim: Yeah, you know, I mean, is there one…
James: One proud moment that at the end of your life, you’re going to say that I’m really, really proud that I did that and it’s going to be you know.
Tim: Yeah, I don’t know if it’s one specific moment, but maybe just like kind of how I live my life.
I try to do it on a daily basis and maybe it’s not something profound. Maybe it’s not something that’s like one specific thing that was a catalyst. You know, I’m driving to the office today to come and talk to you and some dude cuts me off. Maybe he’s got some priorities or something going on. I don’t know what other people are going through, you know and for me to judge or get pissed off because somebody cut me off, why would I do that?
I’ll tell you if there’s a really proud moment, once my kids grow up to be decent human beings, you know, and making sure that I want to live my life as an example of what an exceptional life can look like. So I want people to be like, hey, if Tim Brax, some kid from a blue-collar family in a blue-collar town, outside of Cleveland, Ohio can build up a big portfolio and still maintain good health and still maintain positivity and still maintain great relationships with his wife and with his children, with his friends and still engage and and maybe not be balanced but have harmony in his life, like if this guy can do it, I know I could do it.
If I can inspire people, whether that be one moment in time by a Facebook post or an event that I host or being on a podcast, if I can inspire people to just be their best which is what I have on my wall here and that’s not ‘do’ that’s ‘be’ you know, that’s like consumed that all together.
It doesn’t have to be the best. It would be your best. There’s always gonna be somebody more capable, more resources, more whatever. You know, I don’t think it’s healthy to compare yourself to other people but to compare yourself to yourself and making sure that you’re advancing on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis is a big deal.
And so, I think I just try to make my kids proud, make my mom proud, make my wife proud, make my friends proud. Inspire other people and I try to do it more in the daily activity versus just do it one time and look at that one moment. I try to give back and try to – like I had suites to the Cavs games when LeBron was here in Cleveland. All right, and so when was that, two years year to go? Two years ago, I think. No, it was last year, I think. And so last year, I had a suite to the Cavs. I got the entire series for the first series. I figured who they’re playing, but essentially when you buy a suite, you get it for the entire series, however many games they play at home and they played four games at home. And so, you know the first game I went to, I brought some business partners and was able to pay for the suite that way. And then, the second game I brought some family and the third game, I’m like, hey, I was excited to go but like I’m not as excited as I was maybe the first or second time and I’m like somebody else deserves this more than I do because I’ve already had this experience right? Like, how can I pay this forward?
And so I posted on social media, “I got a suite to the Cavs game. I have 18 tickets that I can give away, a couple of parking passes. It’s stocked with food and drinks and whatever you guys want. Like does anybody know of a family or a few families that I can give these tickets to that maybe wouldn’t have this experience on their own but really deserve because of how good of a people that they are?”
And man, like it got so much momentum and got so many shares and then the news picked it up and came and did a story on it. And I had about 5-600 applications that came through for people nominating other people to get tickets to this Cav suite. And so, it was actually really hard to break it down and essentially I found four or five families. I think five families that four tickets a piece that I gave the tickets to. And it was pretty easy to narrow it down to like 25 because I wanted somebody who had maybe faced adversity, overcame the diversity and then found a way to pay it forward; not just overcoming it but actually paying it forward and creating a difference.
So, you know, there was one girl whose sister died of an accidental overdose of drugs and now, this girl who’s still alive, her younger sister goes around and speaks at different schools about opioid problems and drug problems and how to overcome that and different resources to plug into for that, you know. And so I’m like, wow, this girl, at the age of 16 years old is making an impact on the world; like she deserves some tickets.
There was another gentleman who lost his daughter to a congenital heart defect. She was 3 years old, you know and loses his daughter to this congenital heart defect. And instead of like, I mean, I can only imagine how dark of a place he must have been in and he ends up opening up a nonprofit organization to help families with other kids with congenital heart defects to give them the support and help and the conversations and everything and making a massive impact up here in Cleveland, Ohio. This guy is such a good guy. I give him the tickets and he gives them to one of the people that are in his nonprofit, you know. And it’s like, man, these people are just amazing individuals.
And so I found five awesome families like that, that we were able to give the tickets to and like doing stuff like that really makes me feel good. And what’s even better is that there were 500 people who I was able to create a catalyst by doing this who now, 500 people are thinking in a positive way about people who make a positive impact on their life. And just that positive ripple effect that’s created, I think is really, really powerful and it was really, really cool to see.
James: Yeah. When I talk to you, I get very inspired because it’s not about the portfolio of real estate or [49:17unintelligible] rights, it’s how you look at life and how you look at things. How you think positive and that’s the most important when I look at a person.
Tim: Yeah. And you do an awesome job with it, man. I mean, you realize that it’s not the portfolio, it’s not the money that’s noble. It’s what you can do with the money that’s noble and utilizing it for good. I could afford a really expensive fancy exotic car and I drive a $20,000 Jeep just because I don’t really care. I know that there’s a bigger impact I can make by being a better steward of my Capital, putting it in more deals or paying it forward in ways like that. So I get more fulfillment from that than from maybe driving something fancy.
James: Yeah, even for me, I can’t really imagine driving exotic car because, do I really need it?
Tim: At the end of the day, it’d be cool. I’d rather just go and rent one. I know I’d have buyer’s remorse. I just know myself personally and I know that as soon as I bought it I’d be like, I don’t really need this. And here’s the thing. I like watches. I like clocks. I like taking nice vacations. I like traveling first class. I like that kind of stuff. I like making memories and traveling the world; I love all that. So that’s where I get my drive from on making a lot of money. For other people, they like fancy cars, they like fancy houses; that’s okay.
I got a good buddy, man, he drives a Rolls-Royce and has multiple hundred-thousand-dollar watches, you know. But I know he doesn’t do it for flashed and to impress other people. He does it because when he looks down at his watch and when he gets in his car, he always sits back and he’s like, “Man, I had to overcome some adversity, I had to go through some shit in order to get this watch. In order to be able to afford this car. And I’ve had to grow as an individual, as a person and make an impact on enough other people’s lives, positively, that then the universe came back and gave me enough money to be able to afford this car and afford this watch.”
And so, I think it depends on perspective and that’s how you look at it. Like I have nothing against people who have fancy nice things, material type things. Because I know he’s one of the most giving people that I’ve ever met as well and so it’s perspective.
James: Yeah, it’s perspective. Yeah, awesome, Tim. So why don’t you tell our audience how to get hold of you?
Tim: Yeah. I mean, I’m pretty active on social media; you can find me on Facebook Tim Bratz. I run my own Facebook account, you know, it’s not somebody else running it. I do some education stuff on how to get involved in apartments and things but hit me up with a message there if you’re looking for formal education. I give a lot of away a lot of free content, a lot of free insight and I try to provide a lot of value on social media and stuff so just connect with me on Facebook.
That’s gonna be the best way and, yeah, man, James, I appreciate all the value that you give and all the value that you create and all the content that you put out there and, man, you’re creating the ripple effect yourself on making a positive impact on people’s lives. So appreciate you too, brother.
James: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Thanks for coming on the show. It was really a very inspiring show. I’m sure for me and for my listeners and everybody’s going to be enjoying it.
Tim: Appreciate it, brother. Thank you so much.
James: All right. Bye.