James: Hi, audience and listeners, this is James Kandasamy from Achieved Wealth Through Value-add Real Estate Investing Podcast. Today, I have Bruce Petersen, my buddy from central Texas and in Austin too. So, Hey, Bruce, welcome to the show.
Bruce: Thanks for having me. It’s just going to be a blast. This will be the first person I’ve done a podcast with that I actually knew before the podcast.
James: Good, good, good. So let me just make sure I introduce Bruce properly. So Bruce owns like almost 940 units as a GP, he’s the operator. He focuses a lot on Austin and San Antonio and he has done overall almost 1100 units. And how long have you been in the industry, Bruce?
Bruce: Started my education in 2011. I bought my first 48 unit property as a syndicated deal back in 2012.
James: Okay, awesome. So tell our audience before becoming a multifamily syndicator what were you doing?
Bruce: Well, like we talked a little bit before we started here, I’m a college dropout. I’m the guy that did not thrive in a formal education environment. It was sucking the life out of me. So I dropped out of college, fell under retail because you know, I don’t have a degree, there’s not a whole lot open to me unless I want to start my own business. And back then, I had ideas but nothing formal. So I went into retail and I did that for 18 years. I quit working for other people at the age of 43 in 2000, I guess it was 13, I guess. Well, no, 2010, I think. And just started looking around and trying to figure out what to do with my life. I did a Google search to find somebody to help me invest in real estate because I didn’t know how to do it. And I got very lucky and found a really good mentor. She helped me through the process on the first one, even a little bit on the second one. And you know, we’ve been off and running since.
James: Got it. Got it. So, you have like almost 940 units. I mean, did you expect Covid-19 to happen and cost this recession?
Bruce: Did I expect it? Of course, I expected it. Nobody saw this shit coming. This is that whole Black Swan thing, right? That Holy crap, this is probably going to make 2008/2009 look kind of small. I’m not worried, honestly, I’m not Chicken Little, I’m not a pessimist. I’m not a doom and gloom guy. I’m the eternal optimist. We’re gonna make it through this without question. Things are a little dicey right now. What kind of collections are we going to have for the month of May? I’m not sure. People were worried in April, but April turned out to be pretty good. We averaged about 95 to 96% across our portfolio o we’re fine. May, we’re already starting to see a prepaid rents being made now. This is April 29th, right now, that we’re recording this, but we’re starting to see prepaid rents come in like we normally do. So I think we’re going to be okay.
James: Yeah, I mean, we were worried about April payment. Now we are going to May 1st week, right? I mean, next week I guess. Well, this week we are going to May 1st, so it’s just crazy. So hopefully things doesn’t change. And did you do anything different in your property that you have ensured that everybody’s taken care of and was paying on time and you know, what did you do differently right now?
Bruce: Yeah, just like you, I believe you have your own management company as well as we have our own management company too. So we’re on the phone all the time with our staff, first and foremost, making sure everybody is healthy; both physically and mentally. I gotta make sure that we are the voice of call for our staff right now to make sure they don’t get panicked. If they feel panic or concern coming from me as the leader of this thing, we’re all doomed. So that’s the thing. I’m an eternal optimist anyways, but I’m going way above and beyond to make sure that they feel we got this under control, guys. But you know, outside of, you know, making sure everybody’s safe, we have closed all of our offices, you know, we’re the whole touchless thing you’re hearing about everywhere. We do self-guided tours. We’ve done virtual tours for leasing. We’re still leasing, right? One of my properties, we’ve actually leased more in April than we did in March and that blew me away. We leased probably about 25 to 30% more in the month of April than we did March. So that was really surprising.
James: That was surprising in one of our properties. We virtually list more than when they were in the office and we were joking, Hey maybe we don’t need staff in the office
Bruce: We haven’t gone that far but…
James: The prospects are running away because we do face to face, maybe we should do everything virtually.
Bruce: Well, it’s funny that we’re rethinking a lot of things in this industry right now. What do we really, really need to do our jobs effectively? You know, just like all industries, all companies, you know, not so much for us, but companies that go to an office every day. How big an office do I really need, cause it looks like maybe my staff can truly work from home? So there will be things that change after we come out of this. So it’ll be exciting. I think we’re going to be better off for it. And a lot of people think, yeah, I’m a nut for saying stuff like that, I’m naive. I think we will be better off. It’s going to take some time to get to that point but once we do fully recover, I firmly believe we’re going to be better off as an industry, as a country, and as a world, honestly.
James: Got it. Got it. So let’s go down to the market and submarket and all that. Right? So why did you choose Austin and San Antonio?
Bruce: I live in Austin. It was easy. My mentor taught me to buy something for your first deal that you can get to within an hour, hour and a half, maybe. And I thought, well, it’s not much closer than 10 minutes down the road from my house. So I bought down the street from my house.
James: And it’s an awesome market by itself, Texas and [06:12 crosstalk]
Bruce: Austin’s a little…well, I guess a lot of major cities are like this, but I live in a really nice part of town, but I’m only 10 minutes away from my properties, which are kind of a much more working-class area, we’ll put it. But that’s why we decided to buy here because it was a great market and it was right down the street. And then we branched out to San Antonio. Same thing. We can get to it within an hour and a half. My regionals can get back and forth easily. There are no worries there. So it’s worked out very well. You know, we happen to be in one of the hottest parts of the country to buy and it happened to be my backyard.
James: Yeah. Yeah. I was looking at the numbers published by CVRE talking about cities, which was performing very well before the Covid-19 and Austin is number one, so it’s crazy out there. So what do you think the difference is between Austin and San Antonio?
Bruce: Austin? I’m more profitable here, almost, always. San Antonio does well for us, but we’re almost always more profitable in Austin. The pocket we’ve always bought in, in Austin is an incredible pocket. You know, I’ve got a studios going for over 900 bucks and it’s in Rundberg and the Moore. If you Austin, that’s by big city standards, it’s not a dangerous neighborhood, but by Austin standards, it’s one of our rougher neighborhoods. But I’ve got studios going for over 900 bucks. I’ve got three bedrooms. I’m the only one in the submarket that has a three bedroom but they leased for as high as 1749. So, we do better in Austin. We prefer Austin again cause we live here, but we have higher class properties down there. We have B plus properties in San Antonio. We’ve always had C to C plus properties in Austin, but they’ve been more profitable.
James: Got it, got it. I mean you are similar to me, right? I mean we have our own vertically integrated company. But how did you structure your company in terms of staffing?
Bruce: Well, first of all, and a lot of people don’t understand this, especially people first getting into it. The management company owns the employees. And I hate to use the word own because that sounds, you know, like they’re just animals or you know, they’re just numbers. They’re human beings that we love dearly but they do work for the management company. They do not work for the properties at all. So a couple of things there that now, I’m free to move people from property to property as I see fit. If they’re owned by that property, that’s one specific investor base. This is the same investors that invested in the other property down the street. So it gets a little weird moving salaries and people around for property to property but we don’t have that problem this way.
And then secondly, with the PPP, the Payroll Protection Program that they rolled out that not many people that I know guys cause it all filled up with who’s Chris hub. But what happened is a lot of people were told that, look, if you’re a GP and that’s your only exposure in multifamily, we’re not going to support you with those PPP and this is an investment for you. Oh, but I have a management company so I have an actual functioning business on top of an investment so I get to submit for the PPB through my management company and I didn’t have any problems. So that’s the way we structure it and it works very well by having everybody under one umbrella too instead of spread over the properties. I have more employees in that one company so I can get better insurance rates as well.
James: Got it, got it. What about in terms of like you and the site management stuff? I mean one of the roles that you do, I think, I believe you have original, I’m not sure whether you have a VP of operations or not and then going down to the site staff, how did you structure it? How did you do your split off with roles and responsibilities?
Bruce: So in the beginning, like all entrepreneurs, when you start a business, you got a new company. We wore every hat and my wife and I, every single hat and then we had the onsite staff. So we’ve never done the onsite work. We’ve always bought large enough to afford a onsite staff. But then as we started to grow, we started to bring in, we’ve got bookkeeping now in-house. We’ve got a regional manager in house. We have a director of operations, but not a director of operations, he’s actually an operations manager. He’s doing all the back-office work. He helps set up vendor contracts. He renegotiates vendor contracts that people are having issues. He works somewhat as our tech guy also. So that’s the way we’ve laid it out.
And then Stephanie, my wife and I, we are basically the two people that provide direction, leadership, and vision and make sure our culture is exactly where we want it to be. So day to day, like boots on the ground, we don’t do a lot of that anymore, but we’re always involved every single day; digesting numbers, making decisions based on reports, walking properties, make sure everything looks right, making sure rehab projects are going as planned. But again, day to day operations, we don’t do a whole lot of that anymore.
James: So do you think that owning this own property management company is a good thing? Do you like it?
Bruce: I actually love it, but as many people will tell you, and I know that you’re thinking of this now or I shouldn’t put words in your mouth. It’s a bitch; it is. You’re always dealing, you know, it’s a transient industry, people are always quitting. You’re always losing people. You’re having to let people go, unfortunately, sometimes. So it’s just this never-ending cycle of replacing people. But this is what I’ve done my whole life. In retail, I was always in a leadership position, so I’m used to hiring and firing and firing is not fun but sometimes you have to do it, but it’s the hardest thing that we do, without question. The construction company is not that bad. It gets frustrating sometimes dealing with subcontractors and the asset management company, you know, that’s pretty, pretty easy, relatively speaking. Yeah. It’s the management company that’s a pain in the butt sometimes. But I love my employees though, so I love having it.
James: Yeah, it’s a huge turnover, in the property management company and you are like hiring and firing. Sometimes we think we just keep on hiring and firing, you know, what else are we doing? So finding the right person is always the hardest.
Bruce: Yeah. And finding the right person that even…so I just got word that one of my property managers, yesterday, late in the afternoon, sent an email to her regional manager and say, look, I’m giving my two-week notice. This woman is spectacular at her job. She runs an incredibly profitable property for us, but she’s got some medical issues within her family; not her, her husband, her mother, and her father all have medical issues right now so she had no choice. First, I’ve got to go, I’m sorry. So, you know, even good people have things happen beyond their control and there’s more turnover that we’ve got to deal with now. But it’s fine, we’ll get through it.
Yeah, it’s crazy out there. And what about underwriting? Do you get a lot of deals off-market or from brokers? I mean, before this, pre-Covid, we’re not talking about Covid. Nothing is happening right now.
Bruce: Right, right, right. I’ve gotten a few things sent to me off-market, but for the most part, all my deals have been fully marketed properties. You know, you’re plugged in with the big brokerages in town. CVRE, ARA, HFF, JLL, those guys. So you know, usually they’re fully marketed deals, but yeah, I do all my own underwriting. I’m a one-stop-shop. And I think that you and I were taught a similar process and there’s nothing wrong with the way everybody else seems to be being taught today, but it’s not the way I do it. You put 400,000 billion trillion people into your GP because nobody could raise 5 million bucks, but everybody can raise 12. So if everybody gets together a raised $12 an hour, first of all, you’re going to paying yourself because you’re probably doing this illegally. But secondly, you’re giving away the whole pie. I want the pie for myself. You know, if I got a 20% promote and I carved it up amongst five or 10 people, all of us are getting that much. It’s more work for me but I get the whole pie and I’m fully in control. So yeah, we do everything ourselves.
James: Yeah. Nowadays, I see syndication being put up by like six people, seven people and sometimes 10 people, and there’s more than 10, I’ve seen a lot. And there’s no way 200 or 300 units, you need that many people to manage the assets. You probably need like one maximum two. And maybe the third, maybe the other half a person to do investor relationship. But that’s like, I really want to say investor relationship person nowadays.
Bruce: Right. Well, you make a good point though that you still only came up with three people because legally, right, you notice, they have to have a legitimate job in your general partnership. You know, how can you justify 10 different jobs for people? Do you get assigned these investors? You get assigned Mr. GP number two, the toilet rehab; how do you do that? Yeah. It’s just too complicated. One at a time, build your own database and raise your own money.
James: Yeah, it’s crazy. It’s crazy. So in terms of value, and I’m sure you do a lot of interior and exterior value add and all that. What are the most valuable value-adds you have seen between interior and exterior?
Bruce: So I’ll start with ROI, right? So the biggest return on investment project I’ve done to date is we kicked out everybody’s favorite company, CSC, right? The company that would manage our laundry rooms for us, and they didn’t manage anything. They put a little washer dryer in there, they barely came out to service it. They’d come out sometimes to collect and you sometimes get checks. They hold…it’s just a nightmare. So I was at a month to month situation when I took over this asset, and about a year and a half in, I decided, you know what, we’re going to buy our own units. And we spent $40-42,000, something like that, to buy our own units. We took our monthly laundry income up from 1,450 bucks a month, to $6,000 a month.
My ROI is well over 100% and it improved the value of my property by about $900,000. So not everybody’s in that situation because you get into those ironclad contracts that you buy from the seller that you bought it from, and you’re stuck with that contract until it runs its course and those are 10 year contracts, almost always. So I just got lucky there. But that’s been the most profitable one I’ve done so far. And everybody knows to have laundry on-site, but I think a lot of people are hesitant to do it themselves. It’s really not that hard.
James: Yeah, it’s not that hard. I mean, yeah, if I can, I’ll buy it myself; if I’m not under contract and I’ll do it myself. And you are right. Actually that’s one of the…in fact, it is the highest valuable value add because on one of my properties, we spent like 31,000, we’re making like 2,500 per month. That’s a lot of money. Right? And you’re spending 38,000 and you get like millions of dollars in value increasing. Right.
Bruce: Exactly. Yeah. It’s incredible.
James: And you’re right. The company never come and service. It’s hard to get. And they steal money as well sometimes. And they are hard to negotiate the contracts. Right? So why wouldn’t we do that? So very interesting. So I want to talk about your book because you’re going to be launching a book. Hopefully, I can align this podcast launch with the launch of your book. Let’s talk about your book because a book is very hard to write and why not talk about it.
Bruce: Okay, so this came up on another podcast that I’m working on getting booked onto and they’re like, okay, help me understand it. You said you’re a college dropout and you wrote a book. How the hell do you write? Look, I barely know how to use a library, but I know how to pay somebody that’s really good at pulling information out of my brain, putting it in a book form. And now, I can go through and kind of red line and say, that’s not the way I speak. So to be fair, I did use a ghostwriter and many people that write books, they use a ghostwriter. But that’s what I did. I paid somebody a fair amount of money, I’ll be honest, but it was a skill that I didn’t possess. So I knew enough that it was something I couldn’t do and I knew I had a book that I needed to get out. It was important for me to get this book out and so I reached out to some people to help me write it. And it’s taken about nine to 12 months, but we’re finally about to launch. The launch date is May 5th so things are going really well so far.
James: So you’re doing a reveal the title of the book?
Bruce: Am I allowed to cuss on your podcast?
James: Yeah, absolutely.
Bruce: It’s syndicating is a bitch and other things you haven’t been told.
James: Syndication is bitch and other things?
Bruce: Yeah, ‘Syndicating is a bitch and other truths you haven’t been told.’
James: Wow, that’s awesome. Yeah. That’s something people think real estate is so easy, right? Syndicating real estate is so easy. Right? So can you talk about some of the most carriers stories from the book or you want to hold on to people?
Bruce: No, no. So I’ll start by kind of say, I said I had to get this book out. Let me tell you why I wrote it and then we’ll go into a couple of stories. You know, we’ve all been to real estate conferences and expos and two-day seminars and all this stuff. And the stuff that they’re teaching from this stage, it’s all legitimate stuff and these are good people teaching it and giving you basically a two-day sales pitch or you know, a sales pitch at an expo, whatever it is, they’re almost always selling something to either try to sell their program, their education to you. And again, I firmly believe these are good people and they’ve got a good product, but you’re only hearing for the most part. There are some out there that are exceptions, but you’re only hearing the dog and pony show. You’re only hearing about the rainbows and lollipops, the unicorns. I’m going to do this. And yesterday I’ll be a billionaire.
Okay, that’s not going to happen. This is hard. What we do is hard. You know, we make mistakes. Things that come up that we never saw coming, there’s no way we could have known they were coming so things surprised us all the time. So I wanted to be the guy…again, let’s think about the person pitching from the stage that they tell you the truth, the scary stories, the arson, the dead guy in your pool, losing 5 million of your investor’s money. If they tell you that stuff, I’d say 50% of the people that would’ve signed up, would go, ooohhh, no. I don’t want to do this.
So it’s not in their best interest to give you the story. Again, I don’t believe they’re lying, I think everything they’re teaching is legitimate. But my book is pulling back the curtain to show this is every bit of the step in how to syndicate a deal. Everything. I laid everything out. You don’t need a course but I want to tell you some scary stories along the way and we’ll laugh together. I cussed a little bit in the book too, but I want people to understand, most people that I think they can do what we do and not that I’m brilliant, I’m not brilliant, I’m a college dropout, but most people shouldn’t do it.
Most people don’t have the intestinal fortitude to do this because it is very difficult. It’s very stressful. There’s a lot of work involved. But yeah, I just want them to know what they’re getting into before they try to do this. Many people, I’m hoping, will read the book and go, okay, thank you for putting this in a book. I now know I don’t want to do this.
James: I think you’re going to just create more money raisers out there because most of the money raisers are raising money because they don’t want to be an operator.
James: Being an operator, you’re absolutely right. It’s a really, really hard job and nobody talks about it. Because most of the people who are taught, they are not even operators. They’re more marketing arm off the operators. Right?
Bruce: Yeah. And that’s another reason I don’t want somebody else raising money for me. I’ll show you my deal, Mr. Money raiser but I don’t know what you’re out there saying on my behalf. Are you making weird promises that I can’t back up? And yeah, so that’s another reason I just don’t like using them myself.
James: Yeah. And that’s why even in my book, Passive Investing in Commercial Real Estate, I talk about make sure the passive investor, whoever you’re talking to, are they the backbone of the deal or not? The operators are the backbone, not the money raises. I mean there’s nothing wrong about raising money for investment. You actually showing the parts to real estate investment but the passive investor needs to understand that they have to really understand who’s behind the deal. And a lot of times people behind the deal are not really on the spotlight, they’re somewhere far away. And a lot of times the money raiser doesn’t even want to show them because they’re worried that they go directly to that.
Bruce: Right. And I’ve actually had some times, you know, I’ve had people say, yeah, I was going to invest in this deal, but then I asked the syndicator who the actual operator was and they, Oh, wait a minute, how do you not know?
James: There are too many layers, I guess.
Bruce: Exactly. They had no idea who they were raising money for. They were raising money because I get a cut, you know, which probably again is being done illegally if you don’t know who you’re pitching a deal on behalf of. So yeah, there’s just such a mess out in the industry right now.
James: You know, there’s this concept called sub syndication now. That within a syndication, there’s sub syndication and within the sub syndication, there are many layers in between. And yeah, I dunno.
Bruce: Or they raise money as a syndication and then take that money that they syndicated to put it into a syndication. That’s too complicated. There are too damn many layers. No thank you. You’re a great guy. You’re doing good by your investors, but I want no part of you raising money for me, just no.
James: Yeah, that’s different from fund to fund. Fund to fund is where even the fund, I mean this is probably the SEC lawyers can talk about it, but the fund itself will have PPM and there’s another fund that has a PPM. Right. But that is different. I think that’s legal, right?
Bruce: Yeah. There are ways to do it legally without question, but I really feel many people aren’t doing it legally.
James: Yeah. Yeah. I’m not sure why people want to walk the gray line. I mean if you get caught, I mean you can be in very big trouble, right? Why do you want to walk the gray line? Why?
Bruce: Well, the same reason Bernie made off existed. People make really bad decisions chasing dollars and I don’t want to take time to build up the multiple thousands of people on a good, robust database of investors. I don’t want to take the three to five years that that’s going to take so I want to shortcut it by bringing in one of these other people in. And I don’t really know much about them, but they said they could help me raise money for my deal. And it just, and then you got the people that are out there raising thinking, I don’t have to do anything except just pitch somebody on a deal. That’s my involvement. You know. So I hate to say these things cause it’s kind of harsh, but because I know a lot of these guys that I think some of them it’s just laziness and others, it’s greed.
Yeah. So who do you target? Who should be reading this book?
Bruce: Basically. And that’s important too. Cause I don’t teach you how to invest in real estate. I’m assuming if you’re trying to look into syndication, you’re already investing in real estate. So I don’t need to take the time to teach you how to invest in real estate. So somebody that’s a single-family rental investor or maybe a flipper or maybe they bought some small apartment complexes themselves, somewhere between a five 12 maybe 24 units but they’re not getting to the scale that they want to be able to hire staff or full-time staff or better quality staff so they’re looking for a way to try to, you know, grow exponentially but safely. So it’s those people, I think. It’s the people that are already in it but they want to take it to the next level. Cause again, I’m not going to teach you how to do a spreadsheet. I’ll do a proforma. There are other ways for me to teach you that but that’s not what this book is about at all.
James: So this book would basically tell you all the hard part of doing a syndication and is it just catered to multifamily or is it any other commercial…?
Bruce: What I say in the book is and I probably stole this line from Jean Drawbridge, right? My attorney, my syndication attorney. But look, you can syndicate a Snickers bar. A syndication is basically just everybody pulling their money together to go make a purchase. That’s it. Then you have a security definition and there’s a word too, but syndication is we’re just going to put our money together, go buy something. That’s what a syndication is. So I do talk about that in the book, but I also say, but we are going to talk about multifamily syndication because that’s my experience. But yeah, you can go out, most, I would guesstimate, I’ve seen stats about this, but I’m going to try to remember of all the major purchases in the nation, not in Austin, not at San Antonio, but in the nation, across every industry, almost every single one of them were done as a syndication.
It’s very rare that one person will put all the money in for a deal and buy it by themselves. Talking about us buying the Dallas Cowboys, you know, investing in a restaurant, anything, almost everything is a syndication. So yeah, you know, anybody can do this intellectually and if you can master the art of a syndication, then, again, you can syndicate anything but I’m talking to you about all the individual team players you need: your attorney, your real estate attorney, your syndication attorney, your bookkeeper, your management company, the broker, the mortgage broker. I tell you exactly who you need exactly when you need them, what you could expect to pay them. And then, I give you the whole rundown of your 60 to 75 day purchase.
What does that close process look like? I walk you through your due diligence period of 20 to 30 days, and then after due diligence, you’re wrapping up your loan. I walk you through everything. So I want you to know how to do this yourself. You probably still need a mentor, honestly, because a book can only do so much, but at least I’m giving you the blueprint.
James: And where is it available?
Bruce: It’s going to be audible. It’ll be Amazon. It’ll be Barnes and Noble. It’s going to be everywhere, everywhere books are sold.
James: So that’s going to be on May 5th, right?
Bruce: May 5th
James: Yeah. Are you the one who writes the book in audible?
Bruce: No. I wanted to, but my ghostwriter said, Bruce, look, we’ll do whatever you want. You’re the client, but I’m telling you right now, do not do that because you’ve never done it. She said, you’ve got a good voice. You’re a very good communicator, but you’ve never done this. It’s going to take you forever to get through it because you’re going to screw a lot of things up. You’re going to get frustrated, you’re going to get pissed. I know you. It’s like, Oh, okay. So I had somebody else read it for me, but the next book or two, I hope to read my own book because again, I think I have an energy that somebody just reading it is not going to have, so I’m hoping to read my next book myself, but we’ll see.
James: Got it, got it. What is one advice that you would give to passive investors who are looking to invest in syndication?
Bruce: Well, I tell them that, first of all, you’re investing in a business. You’re not buying into real estate. You’re investing into a business that happens to buy real estate. That’s it. Just like any business you ever invest in, things can go wrong, things will go wrong, and if you can’t handle, maybe we have a hurricane or a tornado or a fire and I can’t send out a distribution or Covid, I might not be able to send out a distribution for one, two, three, four quarters until I get an insurance check back in or Covid until the economy opens up. I might want to be able to send the distribution for a while. Long term, our trajectory will be up, but you know between now and then, we’re going to do a little bit of this. And if you can’t stomach that, if you’re going to lose your mind, if I say I can’t send you distribution this quarter, do not invest in this deal with us because no matter how hard we try, how good we are on the front end and due diligence, things are going to happen, things are going to come up. So if that’s not you, then please be self-aware and don’t invest.
James: Got it, got it. So let’s go to a bit more personal side, right? Why do you do what you do?
Bruce: Why do I do what I do? First of all, I worked in retail for 18 years and that sucked. I thought it was fun until I realized, this really sucks.
James: You must be happy right now because retail has crashed.
Bruce: Retail is totally destroyed. Exactly. But it’s fun. The biggest thing…I would say, the most fun I have is also the thing we talked about that’s the hardest. It’s working with the employees. It’s watching them grow, watching, you know, developing them, being a leader to them, and then having.
James: Okay, go ahead.
Bruce: All right, so you asked, why do I do what I do? Again, it’s for my staff. I like communicating with the staff and working with the staff, but also, you know, you always hear people talk about, you know, we’re in the business of creating safe, clean, nice places for people to live. You know, we did a school supply drive at one of our lower-income properties for three years in a row before we sold it. And these are people that can barely afford to pay their rent, to be honest. Right? They barely make ends meet. And so, we decided we were going to buy all the kids – there were 87 kids on this 120 year property. Who knew it’d be that many, but we bought backpacks for all the little kids. We bought all their school supplies.
We reached out to the schools to say, give me the school supply list for each grade at each of these schools. We provided all that for them, had them come into a vacant unit. They walked in the door, got some pizza. At the front, my daughter standing in the kitchen, handing out pizza, they walk to a table where my wife and our property manager was handing out the backpacks. Then they left that room and went into one of the bedrooms where my autistic adult daughter was in there. She was participating too and she was giving them their bag of supplies that they could now put in their backpack and they walked off. And it’s that stuff that, you know, money’s one thing, returns are another thing. It’s really making a difference in somebody’s life. And I know that sounds cheesy and kumbaya crap, but it’s true.
You know, I cry fairly often in this business because we do get to make a difference. Now some people, you could give them a free car and they bitch because they have to wash it or put gas in it. Give them a bright, shiny new puppy and they’re pissed because they got to feed it now. So some people are just miserable people; they’re just mean, they’re mad. But most people really do appreciate when they can see that you are really in this with them and you care for them. And that’s the real good part.
James: Got it, got it. Yeah, it’s definitely a fulfilling journey helping our residents and at the same time taking care of employees as well while providing returns to your investors. You are impacting multiple level of hierarchy there. And is there any proud moment in your career that you can never forget throughout your life? I mean, this moment I’ll never forget it until I die.
Bruce: You said proud. Now, do you mean with respect to a staff member or attendance or like a personal achievement?
Bruce: Well, selfishly, right, we’ve talked about school supply drive. That’s probably the best thing we’ve ever done. That was my wife’s idea. I owe her all the credit for that. It’s phenomenal idea. But on a more selfish level, we were the rental owners of the year for Austin of 2016 for the national apartment association in 2017 and we were the Realty multifamily investors of the year for 2019 so that’s been cool for me. Because they recognized those school supply drive things that we were doing so that’s probably the coolest thing and the proudest part outside of just helping other human beings.
James: Awesome. Awesome. All right, Bruce, why don’t you tell our audience how to get hold of you
Bruce: So you can go to the website if you’re interested. I’m apt-guy.com. I’m basically the apartment guy. You can follow me on Instagram. That’s the social media I try to stay the most active on it’s apt.guy or Facebook, the APT guy. If you’re interested in the book, again, there’ll be on the first page of the website. It’ll tell you how to get it. Again, it launches May 5th. So yeah, that’s the best way to get ahold of me and try to follow along with what we’re doing.
James: Awesome. So the book is going to be an Amazon, I guess, right? Absolutely.
Bruce: Amazon. Audible. It will be at all bookstores too.
James: Oh, cool. That’s awesome. All right, Bruce, thanks for coming. I’m sure everybody got tons and tons of value out of your knowledge bombs out there.
Bruce: Oh, dude, I really appreciate it. Again, it was fun to do one with somebody I knew personally.
James: All right. Bye.
Bruce: Alright, buddy.