James: Hi, audience and listeners, this is James Kandasamy from Achieve Wealth Podcast. Today, I have Glen Gonzalez who have been a big operator out of you know, Austin, Texas, and Glenn has deals which he has done in Dallas area, Corpus Christi Clean and south of Houston City, called Lake Jackson. And he is currently owning about 3,000 units at some point, in the past few years, he owned like more than. 4,500 units and he also have a strong property management company, previously, which used to manage up to 6,500 units. So he brings really good value to this podcast. Hey Glenn, how are you doing?
Glenn: Hey, James, doing great. Thanks for having me on, this is exciting.
James: Yeah. Yeah. Did I miss out any of the story behind you that you want to clarify?
Glenn: Maybe. I think where I came from, you know, because people are always interested. You know, we talk about all the success that we have, but I actually started as a maintenance man.
Glenn: I was kind of at the bottom of the barrel, picking up trash and I was like a porter, really. And then I was eventually painting apartments and fixing stoves and stuff. So my involvement in the apartment industry started about 30 years ago. So I actually came through as a maintenance man, leasing agent, property manager, then a regional manager, director of operations and so all the way through. Pretty much all the different ranks of Property Management until about six years ago, when I started buying my own, as the owner. And that really changes the perspective on apartments, you know, you got an operator perspective and an owner perspective, so maybe I could share some of that today while we’re all on the call.
James: Sure. That would be really, really interesting. I mean some of the big guys that I know in this apartment, such as Ken McElroy. I mean, he started as a property manager, right? And I interviewed Eddy Lauren who has done like more like 1 billion in transactions as an operator. One of the big first advice that he told our listeners when I interviewed him like a few podcasts back was like, start from the ground, start to learn from the ground itself. Be property manager or be a maintenance man or porter and then learned in the business because you can learn so many things.
So it looks like you have that ‘coming from the ground’ experience. Now, you have no more than 3,000 units and you used to have 4,500 units, which is awesome. I mean looking at from the ground itself up to the asset management; like when you were maintenance man or a porter, what did you think about the owners?
Glenn: Oh my gosh, I used to get so nervous when the owners would show up to one of my apartment complexes because my boss would call me and say, hey, the owners are coming so I want to make sure this place looks perfect and everything is in order. And then they would tell me things like, you know, if they ask you a bunch of questions, you know, they would say let me do the talking. So I was basically supposed to keep my mouth shut and that just kind of made me nervous, you know, because of all the hype and stuff.
So I don’t know, you kind of think the owners are almost not like real people to some degree, but they are, they’re just like you and me. They’re just common folks.
James: Yeah, it’s interesting. I mean sometimes, especially the maintenance crew, right? I mean usually when owners come into a property, when we go and visit our property – I mean, most of the owners, we talk to the office staff, right? Because we think we control the whole thing but the backbone of renewal in the property is the maintenance. Because people are happy when work orders are being taken care of and people really like that. So we really make it a point to really take care of the maintenance people and that’s another advice for all the listeners out there.
If you own property, don’t just look at the property managers or the leasing agents or the assistant managers; go and say hi to your maintenance people because they are really, really important. Don’t you think so?
Glenn: Absolutely. I would add a little bit to that. You know, when I go visit a property, I always speak with the maintenance guys, always because they will tell you everything that’s going on on that property, even the stuff the manager might not know. I mean, they know how often they’re recharging air conditioners or how often they’re fixing things. I mean, they know the work orders like the back of their hand, but beyond that, they even know the tenants. I mean they know which ones have pets and which ones don’t have pets because they’re in there, doing work orders. They know everything. And I would say that they’re often the ones that are neglected because like you mentioned earlier, when we go and do a site visit, a lot of times we’ll sit down with the property manager and we’ll talk about the lessee and the marketing and the delinquency and some of those common things but rarely do we talk to the maintenance guy about, hey, is there anybody out here
that’s like a bad apple, that’s like creating a lot of havoc? And they will tell you who’s dumping the trash out there. They will tell you who are having parties late at night and whose got like 5 dogs in their apartment. You know, I mean, they know everything. So my advice is if you need to know what’s really going on behind the scenes, get to know your maintenance guys.
James: Yeah. I think it’s also important during the due diligence process right? Because sometimes we are with the Brokers and we have the managers and you can see that they like to hide the people who know the real stuff which is the maintenance guys, right? So try to get to them to ask more questions. Did you have any tips and tricks to get to maintenance guys while doing due diligence so that we can get the truth from them?
Glenn: Yeah. Yeah. I think part of it is just making them feel appreciated and that their opinion matters, I’ll tell you this just like I was sharing my experience. I used to get really nervous when the owners would come around because to me, when I was younger, they were very intimidating. So if one of those guys came up and wanted to talk to me, I’d be like, um, you’re talking to me? So find a way to make them comfortable, you know, really, at the end of the day, just make them feel appreciated for all their hard work and acknowledge that they are such a big part of the team. And when they feel appreciated and they feel acknowledged, trust me, they’ll share with you a lot of important information.
They may offer information that nobody else knows. They may say things like, hey, by the way, I would go check the roofs on building 3 because we had several roof leaks on that one building in the last four months. They know everything because they’re doing all the sheetrock repairs on the inside, right? And so they even know where it’s leaking. It could be around the chimney or something in there. Just be like, good idea, thanks. I will check that. So yeah, due diligence, maintenance guys, you’re absolutely right.
James: The other thing that we do, just to share with the listeners is you know, we also ask the maintenance guys to rank the property managers. So it’s not only like property managers control the whole thing, I think six months, once a year, we do this 360 feedback on the property managers from the maintenance right? Because you know, sometimes you need to give them the voice, right? And I think we have to just give them an official channel for them to voice what they want to share in terms of how the property managers are doing, what these people are doing.
Glenn: You know and I’ve shared this with some of my friends in the industry that you’ll never ever
have a successful manager without a successful maintenance guy and vice versa. If one of them are really good at their job and the other one is not, you will not be maximizing the value of that apartment complex. I mean, it’s almost like a marriage, you know, the manager and the maintenance supervisor, they’re married at the hip. They’ve got to be on the same page and if they’re not, if they’re complaining about each other, you know, that’s an opportunity to stop and pause about why they’re not on the same page. So just FYI, you know, and if one of the maintenance guys like you said gives a rating to the manager of a very low number like, oh, that manager is a 2 at the best, you might want to go talk to the manager.
Like how do you rate your maintenance guy? He’s like a negative 2 at best, you know, and it’s like, what’s going on and who knows what the problem is? Before you could then read the financials. The financials will tell you the story too because if your way out of budget, you know, say the maintenance guy is not very good at painting so he wants to contract out every paint and your turned cost could be very, very expensive. There’s a lot of you know things that you can learn from each other. That’s why it’s on your part.
James: Absolutely. Absolutely. So, how did you climb that ladder from porter to maintenance to becoming an owner?
Glenn: It’s a funny story, James, it’s really funny story. To be honest with you, I’m out there trying to do work orders and I started my industry in Salt Lake City and it’s really cold outside. So when you’re picking up trash, you’re freezing cold, especially when you’re going from apartment to apartment, carrying all this stuff. Anyway, so I went and I told my boss, you know, I don’t want to be a maintenance guy forever. I want to be a manager because they get to sit in the office and talk on the phone. That was my motivation, I was young. I just don’t want to be out in the cold. So they’re like well, we don’t have any openings for maintenance guys to be managers. I’m like well just so you know, that’s my next step.
So they had a 60 unit apartment complex that needed a part-time manager and a part-time maintenance guy so I said I’ll take it. So I was part-time on each one of those so I got to learn the manager skill and you know talk on the phone and then I needed the work orders and make ready and I learned with this valuable lesson. Somebody moved in and they had to fill out one of those move-in checklists to make sure that the units in proper condition when people move in and they turned it into the manager after they signed the lease and it’s got all these things that don’t work. The stove doesn’t work right, the toilet is running and the dishwasher won’t cycle or whatever. So that I got to know who fixed this apartment, you need to get them back.
So I’d go back later in the day and I would take my tools and change my clothes and they’re like, hey, what are you doing here? I’m like, well, I’m the maintenance guy. And they’re like, oh, so you’re the one that got this apartment ready? I’m like, yeah, that was me. And I realized then I was not a very good maintenance guy, but that was my transition.
But I really was able to turn that apartment community around. And the problem with occupancy and revenue and it got to the point where it was doing very, very well because I kind of was able to see it from both sides. I knew how much we can rent them for but I also knew we had to get them ready first and I work my little magic as a newbie to the industry. I was very successful.
My boss recognized the success and they had another, I think, it was larger, I don’t remember exactly, 200 or 300 units. It was struggling with some of the same stuff and they asked if I would go there and give him my opinion. So I went, kind of as a manager, over to this other community and found that the leasing agent and the manager were really good friends but that leasing agent wasn’t very effective at all and the manager was too good of friends to fire her friend.
So I said, well, let’s do one of those secret shops and do an evaluation and kind of did all that and I showed the manager. Look, you know, you’re not a very good manager because you’re not able to make a business decision. You’ve got to make changes on the leasing and that leasing agent is affecting you as a leader. So she kind of said she realized at that time that if she wasn’t able to make an improvement or change it was going to stifle her own career as well. So she made that change and all the sudden, the leasing got better and collections got better and people were giving better reviews and my boss recognized that I had this knack for identifying problems.
Well, then I got to oversee multiple apartment complexes and I became what’s known as an area manager so I had two or three that I could oversee. So my career just started kind of progressing a little bit. I graduated college and I was supposed to be a hospital administrator and I did my internship at a hospital and I did not want to do that the rest of my life. So here I was at a crossroads, maintenance manager/hospital administrator, now what?
So I said, I’m just going to make Property Management my career. And then I just started getting more educated with real estate licensing, then I eventually got my CPM designation and I was involved with the apartment association stuff. So there you go. That’s kind of how I moved up the ladder a little bit.
James: So at what point did you buy your first property? I mean, syndicated or you know, start using some other..
Glenn: Sure that’s a great question. So in the time frame from that point, it was probably another, gosh, 10 or 15 years later. I was now working for a big REIT, a Real Estate Investment Trust,
in the Pacific Northwest. Equity Residential, they’re very big property owner-manager REIT and I was getting great experience there. Well, I had a mentor that was serving on the board of directors for the apartment association, his name is John Gibson, also from Washington. And I went to John and said John I want to buy an apartment complex one day. And I showed him this little 60 unit deal that I was analyzing. And at this time I was still a regional manager. I still got a W-2 paycheck. When I went to John and I said, “You know, tell me what you think.”
And he said, “You know, you’ll probably do okay.”
He said, “But I have this little 44 unit apartment complex, I’ll sell you and I’ll make it much easier to buy.”
I said, “How so?”
He’s like, “You just need to come up with a $150,000 down payment and I’ll carry a note back for the rest.”
And I said, “Great. Let me go look at it.”
So I went and looked at it and this guy wasn’t managing it very well and I knew how to manage pretty well so I’m like, ‘This is great, we can make money on this.”
So I went to two of my friends and I said, “You guys want to go in on this apartment complex with me?”
They said, “What do we need?”
I said, “$150,000.”
And they said, “You know, what are the splits?”
I said, “A third, a third, a third.”
And they said, “Okay.”
I said, “But you each have to put up $75,000.”
And they’re like, “Whoa, well, for a third, a third, a third, shouldn’t we split that 150,000, a third, a third, a third?”
But I didn’t have any money. So I’m like, “I found the deal if we’re gonna make money and you guys put up the equity, you guys will get your money back before me but once we start making money, we’ll split a third, a third, a third.”
And those two friends said, “All right, sounds good.”
We did it. We bought that apartment complex. He carried a note back and we own it for like a year and a half and we sold it for about a million dollars more than we paid for it in eight months. So that third, a third, a third, those folks were pretty happy. So the mistake I made is when I sold it, I carried back a note on part of our profits and the guy that borrowed or bought it from us has defaulted on that note. So, actually, we made a lot of money on paper, I lost half of it to a bad note. So word to the wise if you’re going to be a lender to a buyer, do your homework.
James: So you seller-financed to someone else, I guess.
Glenn: Yes. We still pocketed a half million dollars. So I mean we did okay, but we carried a note back. That was my very first deal, it was 44 units and it was while I was still working as an employee.
James: That’s very interesting because you really came from the ground up and you made that transition to a owner, you know, and you found the deal and you able to convince your friends to finance it. So at what point did you had the realization that, hey, I’m a regional now, I want to buy and why did you want that thought process came in? Why did you want to be an owner?
Glenn: Well, a couple of reasons. One, I knew that these owners that came seemed like they had a lot of money, in my mind. I assume that they were pretty rich people. They drove fancy cars and stuff and from my perspective they were wealthy. But the other one is I realized that when I got really good at property management and I increased the value of that apartment community, that owner would eventually sell that property and he would take his money and run and I would get a thank you and he would get a lot of money. And they always said, “You know, Glenn we really appreciate your property management efforts. You’ve done very well for us and thank you very much.”
So I got a lot of thank yous, not a lot of dollars and you know, that was a motivation for me. It’s like someday I wish I could trade that value for myself. My wife always encouraged me. She’s like, “You know, you’re really good at making other people a lot of money. Someday, you got to do that for yourself.” And so that was motivation too. You get really good at Property Management, you should maybe be the owner but I didn’t have any money.
James: But you have that knowledge on how to increase the NOI, which is the most important, I would say. Having a lot of money and buying assets if you do not know how to increase the NOI from the ground up, you’re maybe just half-blindfolded.
Glenn: Yeah, and I think you know what made me successful later in life, is that experience and the knowledge that I had from the ground up. It gave me great insight in helping me find good deals that I could fix if they’re broken. And then, later in my career about six years ago, I started to buy my own. And I remember having to raise over a million dollars on my first deal and when people realize that you have experience, you know what you’re talking about and you came from the ground up, they’re more likely to invest with you than they would be with somebody who has no experience,19:48inaudible] just go syndicate deal with no experience. So, the experience really paid off in the end for me.
James: Yeah, I’m sure it’s paying off right now itself. So I want to go into some of the secrets in Property Management because you are the insider.
Glenn: Yeah, that’s right.
James: Because I mean, for me, my wife does a lot of property management and just because of the knowledge that we have in asking questions to our employees and all the employes doesn’t really tell us stories. They don’t tell us like it takes five days to make ready or two to three weeks to make ready and all that kind of thing. I mean, property management is a people business, there’s a lot of detailed things happening inside the property management itself. And if you do not know the details, people are just going to take you for a ride. So, let’s go into the details. So how would you know a leasing agent is not a good leasing agent.
Glenn: So great question, James. There are indicators that are quite obvious, but then there’s some that you kind of have to peel the onion back a little bit to figure out. The first indicator is if your occupancy is struggling, where all your competitors are saying, in the 90s and your property is like in the 80s and you have enough product that’s already made ready, and it’s priced correctly, but gosh, people are just not leasing so that could be an indicator.
You know, there are remedies to that. You can hire a secret shopper that will come and pretend to be a renter and they will give that leasing agent an evaluation.
James: And what does the secret shopper do?
Glenn: They pretend like they are an average person coming to rent an apartment. You know, they give a name, they go on a tour and they kind of evaluate whether or not the leasing agent was able to connect with them as a renter if they took them on a tour of the apartment. Mostly if they followed up to say, “You know, are you still interested in renting?” You know, some leasing agents never follow up. Some agents aren’t able to connect with people like emotionally connect with people because you know renting an apartment home it’s an emotional decision. There’s apartments everywhere. So the only thing that makes your apartment may be different than your competitors’ apartment, maybe that leasing agent.
So if the indicators are there, there are remedies but sometimes you just got to peel the onion back and what I mean by that is you just need to listen to how they talk to people. You need to get feedback from the residents. As an owner, you can always send out a little flyer or a little questionnaire. You know, we get what’s called the Move-in Report, where it talks about who moved in, in the last 30 days. I look at those moving reports to see if they’ve hit the targets on the rent and stuff, but you can send a little questionnaire or you could even call them on the phone, as the owner, and say, “Tell me about your experience from the time you moved in till now.” And that’ll give you a lot of insight.
The other thing is the closing ratio. There are averages in our industry about if 10 people apply, what percent actually come back and sign a lease and move in? And that percentage could be anywhere from 30 to 40 percent of the people come back. Now, granted some of those get denied because of credit, criminal activity or addictions and we expect that. But if some leasing agent has a closing ratio of 10% or 15%, you’ll want to stop and say there’s a problem here because that’s below the industry average. And where do you find those industry average? Well, you got to talk to people in the industry. They’re not widely publicized on closing ratios but that information is readily available. You can get it through the apartment association. You can get it through people who own and operate apartments and you can just ask, network with people.
James: Yeah, and what do you do if the leasing agent gives reason saying that our apartment is priced too high?
Glenn: Well, there’s your ‘trust but verify’; she could be right, you know, I mean if they have a low closing ratio and you as the owner said, “Hey, we renovated this unit and I know we can get a thousand dollars for these two bedroom units.” And all your competitors and your leasing agent saying, “Yeah, but all my competitors are at 950 to 900 and you want 1000.”
If you argue with the leasing agent say, “But I spent so much money and I need to get a thousand out of this deal.” You know, she’s going to get frustrated and so are you. But if I were you, I’d go verify that. If the leasing agent is saying all your competitors are renting their two bedrooms at 950 and she’s right, you as the owner better eat some humble pie and take her word for it. And when you get the facts verified, you better adjust your price because you may lose a good leasing agent because you’re a bad owner.
James: Correct. Yeah, so it’s important that because sometimes as owners. We might hear a certain performer on rents and that may not be true because you are doing it pre-closing, you know. Only when the rubber meets the road then you really know whether whatever you projected in your performer is being able to be captured on the ground. All right, and it’s very skill to identify [25:41crosstalk and unintelligible]
Glenn: That’s correct. I had a boss of mine one time, he was the CEO of a company and he said this to me one time. He said, “You know if it comes down to your opinion versus my opinion, my opinion wins because I’m the owner.”
He says, “But if it comes down to my opinion versus your facts and your facts are right, it doesn’t really matter what my opinion is, the facts always tell the truth.”
That’s why we do Market surveys. That’s why we figure out where competitors occupancy is. And if you’re a good owner, you’ll realize that sometimes the information is right in front of your face talking to you and you’re just not willing to listen.
James: Correct. There’s a lot of data that we can use to really see whether I priced it correctly or not. Such as, how many people are applying, how many vacancies you had for that certain configuration and all that, right?
Glenn: Yeah. Yeah.
James: And how do you select a good property manager?
Glenn: That’s a tough one. That’s a really tough one. Gosh, you know I have, in my career, when I was an asset manager for Pacific property company and I think we had like 8,000 units and we had hired two or three different property management companies that did fee management for us as an owner and I was an asset manager. But some of those were some big name brand management companies that had all the bells and whistles but you know what it came down to James? It came down to two individuals, how well did that regional manager get along with that property manager and how often is that regional giving support?
If they are pretty well connected and they’re good communicators, chances are all the other things will fall into place. The bills get paid on time and you know, if the manager needs some overrides or permission to the regional and they’re on the same page and readily available, that property will flow better. Sometimes I’ve seen that a regional manager may have 9 10 11 or even 12 Assets in their portfolio. How often can an effective Regional go visit 12 Assets in a week or a month or two months? Not very often. They’re going to be spread so thin.
The trick is that I know a lot of fee management companies are moving away from this but their profitability increases because they get a management fee increases when they have one fixed cost of a regional manager spread out over many assets. So from the property managers company’s perspective, they may give that Regional a big portfolio to cover their salary. You, as the owner, want that portfolio to be small because you want their undivided attention, you know, so that’s a good question you can ask a management company. Is how many assets are in that regional manager’s portfolio and how often that manager works with your property manager on site. Those are two key elements.
And of course, the other big one is the back office. How often are they producing your financial packages and are they reconciling every month and do they catch the bounced checks fast enough? The back office, people don’t really jump into as an owner, they just look at what’s presented to them on the front end. So there’s lots of good bells and whistles.
James: Very interesting. So what is the good ratio for regional versus property that they manage?
Glenn: Yeah. That’s a great question. I think an effective regional manager shouldn’t have more than seven or eight assets in their portfolio. That number can go up to 9 or 10 if all those properties are maybe smaller or they’ve got one manager that oversees two or three that helps or they’re all stabilized. They are all stabilized in their the assets and they’re all doing very well with the regional, then they could then handle more.
But if the regional manager has a new lease up or repositioning or undergoing a renovation or you’re trying to change the demographic a little bit, those are very, very time-consuming. And if that’s the case, you don’t want them to have more than five in their portfolio. So there’s a big range. Variables are stabilized in the size and then the complexity of the assets that are in the portfolio.
James: Yeah, yeah, that’s a very interesting feedback on the regional because as you know, and I know is that property management is a business of issues, daily issues which a lot of asset managers don’t want to touch. They say that is a thankless job, we do not want to touch it and all that. But how important do you think Property Management, in terms of the efficiency or the NOI optimization of a multi-family?
Glenn: Again, it comes down to that regional manager and the property manager. You know, I guess the fixed costs are you know, some property managers charge you more, a larger percentage of the management fee. That’s a cost that’s going to affect your NOI. The property management company has to have some buying power. Hopefully, they buy so many carpets and so much paint that they get significant discounts on the product that they purchase and they pass that right along to you as the owner, that would be a great benefit.
You know, if you’re paying, call it $10 a yard for carpet installed and the property management company can get it done for eight or nine, that’s pretty significant overall your Capex. So all those are little variables that you need to kind of ask what kind of benefit you get as the owner. And some of them are the opposite. They’re very expensive, some of them pay for very expensive software for the property management and they pass it right along to you the owner and you’re, “Gosh, this is expensive every month.” And then you start asking about this fee and that fee and there’s like an accounting fee on top of the property management fee.
They charge you a fee for processing your own payroll and like, “Why am I paying you to process my payroll? Isn’t that part of the services?”
And they’re like, “Oh, no that’s an extra.”
So, you know, gosh darn, you just got to dive into it, to be honest with you. That’s a good question. It’s really complicated. Call me and we’ll talk offline.
James: Yeah. That’s good.
Glenn: I used to be a property management company,[32:56crosstalk] and I know there are areas that the management company wants to make money on.
James: Correct. Correct.
Glenn: It doesn’t always benefit the owner. It benefits the management company.
James: Yes, but I mean we have to understand property management is also a lot of work and they are the backbone of your operation. So choosing the right property management and how the profit centers and all that is how everybody…
Glenn: Yeah. James if you step back and you realize sometimes it’s worth paying those little fees to these property management companies if they’re really good at what they do. Because if you step back, they’re really good at what they do, they’re going to make you Millions on your asset. if they’re not very good at what they do, they’re going to lose you Millions on your asset. And here’s the key; sometimes they just make excuses on why they’re poor performers. And I struggled with a very large management company at 30,000 units. I owned a 650 unit apartment complex up in Dallas and my occupancy was going down and down and down and the bad debt was going up and up and up and I’m like, “What the world is going on here?”
And they said, “Well, the market, the sub-market is getting worse.”
And I scratch my head and I said, “Well, how could that be? Because our competitors are 94 and you’re like 81.”
They’re like, “Well, that’s because they have just filled it up with junk people.”
And I’m like, “I talked to the owner of that one and they said their delinquencies are only like two and a half percent. You guys are like seven. I mean that doesn’t an add up either.”
So what’s really going on and they were a mess. They were going through changes up above and they had two Regionals that quit because of leadership and the property manager had quit because she didn’t like the management company and my 650 unit was struggling financially now after it had just had its best year.
Her name was Letty, she was the property manager for us for a year year and a half. When Letty left, everything unraveled and I ended up having to terminate that management contract and I gave it to a different management company and they were very successful. And they turned it all around and I ended up selling that complex about a year and a half after the new property management took over. And guess what? They out-performed all of a sudden and it was the same submarket, it was the same community. So all the excuses the previous management company gave me was just a bunch of BS.
James: Yeah. Yeah. It takes a lot of leadership to really fire property management because as an asset manager who just know asset management your hands are tied. You can listen to one excuse this month and next month, I’m going to give you the same excuses. But at what point do you make that call saying that, okay, these guys are not good? So it’s very hard for you to make that call if you do not know the details and how to read the financials; as you say, you know the owner on the comps, right?
James: But not everybody knows the owners. So, how do they find out? It could be very well true that if [36:07inaudible] so do you have some tips on how to identify bad property management? One point should be fine.
Glenn: I know a couple of them by name.
James: We don’t need names.
Glenn: I can’t say it on the podcast; call me. How do you identify? Here’s one indicator. There’s a lot of turnover for some key people. You know if the bookkeepers are quitting and the regional managers are quitting and the property managers are quitting; if you can’t have access to interview all those people and talk to them about why they’re quitting, you’re losing out on an opportunity, but that will tell you, that’s an indicator. By nature, I think we turn over about 30 percent of the site people a year, you know. One of the indicators that I chart so if you’re up to 40 50 percent of your site people move, including your maintenance guys and releasing agent, but if you’re up above 30%, there’s a problem. Either with the leadership or how it functions or they just can’t get enough training. There’s something going on because people don’t just walk away from their jobs. And the way to indicate a good one, management company, is if they’ve got long-term employees that stay with them long term over and over and over again. So there are some indicators there.
And your intuition; let me just address that. If for some reason a property management company is telling you excuses over and over and over again and in your mind, it doesn’t add up but your guts telling you something’s not right here, I would say trust your intuition because there’s probably something not right there.
James: Got it. Got it. Let’s go back to, as you said, the most important person in the whole pipeline for an owner, asset manager. So you have leasing agent, you have property manager, you have Regional and you have the property management leadership. So you said, if I remember correctly, Regional is the most important on how they communicate and…
Glenn: The regional and the property manager those two together.
James: So how do you identify the qualities of a good regional?
Glenn: Yeah, you know the good regionals, you can always tell if they’re pretty effective because you can ask them a question about, you know, call it turnover expenses or you know, we notice this big expense for HVAC, you know that Regional says, “You know what? I noticed that too because the manager had booked it up in the operating expenses and I reclassify it to Capex.”
And if the regional knows what’s going on, how the property is spending their money and where they’re booking it and she just knows it or he knows it right off the bat, they’re on it, and they are on it and you should be very grateful that they’re watching your asset and your financials pretty effectively.
Now if you ask a regional manager, ‘Hey, what’s going on? Why did it go up?”
And she’s like, “I’ve no idea. Let me get back with you.”
And you’re like, “okay, get back to me, let’s talk. ” And she never he never gets back with you and you send them another email says, “You know, what did you find out? I mean, our NOI took a dip 10 grand this month and it’s been pretty consistent, what’s going on?”
If you have to follow more than one or two times, dude, you’ve got a problem. They’re not looking at your bottom line. They’re not talking to their manager and they’re certainly not watching your asset.
James: Got it. Got it. Okay. It’s very interesting. Let’s go to a bit more personal side. Is there any moment in your whole career when you started in real estate up to now, is there a proud moment that you always remember, you’re going to remember that proud moment for your whole life?
Glenn: That’s a good question. You should have given me some lead time on that.
James: I’m really proud that I did that. It could be anything.
Glenn: You know, I think part of it is a feeling of satisfaction that I get. You know when we syndicated deals, when we bring investors together, when we take that money that they’ve trusted us with and we apply it to the apartment complex and we do what we said we were going to do. We renovate the office and we raise the rents. And then, down the road, you step back and you look at the community and I go, “Wow! This actually looks better than it did when we buy it.” And then it feels better and our delinquencies are going down. It’s almost like your baby. It’s like your kid, your little offspring. Like I’m so proud of this community.
And then you sell that and you give all the investors back their money and they call you on the phone, “Glenn, dude, I’m so happy. You actually did what you said you were gonna do and did better than we expected.” To be honest with you, I get so much satisfaction out of that and I like making other people money, you know. And when that happens, they don’t mind sharing the profits with me. And now, I’m making money so it’s not always about the money, but it’s about doing what you said you were going to do and doing it well and kind of being the best in the industry. Not all deals have gone has planned, not all deals have been successful and those are tough pills to swallow but I think, for the most part, my greatest in my career is seeing the magic that we work and executing the plan, I love that. And then there is one other if you don’t mind me sharing?
James: Sure, absolutely.
Glenn: There’s a gentleman that was a maintenance guy that would come and talk about if you spend this, you know, I think we need more rent. If you fix this over here and you know, I mean really, I wouldn’t do anything on the one bedrooms because we have so many of them we can’t even random, you know, but we can make a lot more than that. I took that maintenance guy and I said, “Have you ever thought about being a property manager?”
He’s like, “No way, there’s no way; that’s the last job I want.”
I’m like, “But you think like a property manager.”
And this is just a deal here at Austin that I was managing as a fee manager and I convinced him; I said, “Dude, you could do this.”
And he did. He got out of his comfort zone and we moved him from outside to inside and he was the same way. He was so effective, I love the way he processed. And his name is Louis and Louis was a very good manager. He had a wife and a child and he was later moonlighting for a company for Best Buy, you know, he was working in the evenings and on weekends and stuff to make ends meet for his family. And we were at lunch one time, talking and I saw what he had done for the community. The occupancy went up, it had stabilized and he was right. We were making more money on the two bedrooms and I told Louis, I said, “Louis, why don’t you quit? How much are you making at Best Buy a month?”
He said, “I get an extra eight or nine hundred dollars a month by working kind of part-time, on the weekends.”
And I said, “If you were able to just devote more time to the community, do you think you can make it more money?”
He said, “I just can’t afford to not.”
So I told him, I said, “Let me raise your pay by a thousand dollars a month if you quit that job.”
And I said, “Then, you could be a better husband. You could be a better father to your kid and you won’t be so stressed. You don’t have to work every single weekend because you’re going to get burned out, you’re going to get sick and then you’re eventually going to quit.”
And he’s a grown man, he just started crying. Right there at lunch, it was kind of uncomfortable. He’s like, “Why would you do that for me?”
I said, “Because I see in you great things, Louis.”
And I said, “You should be a better dad and a better father to your child. If you’re gone all the time, you’re going to look back and you’re going to say it wasn’t worth it.”
So the community had benefited so much from this guy, it could afford to give him a $12,000 a year raise and it would have zero effect on the properties bottom line because he had increased in a while. And he stood up with tears in his eyes and he’s like, “I’m gonna go give notice.”
I said, “And I’m gonna raise your pay this afternoon.” And he gave me a big hug, and we’ve been friends ever since. He’s very successful. But that was a proud moment where I identified that it’s not always just about the money. It’s also about being a good dad, a good husband and have less stress in your life. And sometimes we could take real estate and make dreams happen for people. Now, that was a good moment in my life. You know, it wasn’t that long ago.
James: It’s very fulfilling when you impact people’s life. I mean you can make money in many ways.
Glenn: That’s right.
James: You make a few million dollars and then you forget about it and you give it to investors and you forget about it. But when you impact someone it follows you throughout your life and you remember that’s a big impact, you can’t really put a monetary value.
James: And I’ve had REIT investors who when I paid them back through refi, they were like happy, “Oh, okay. I really needed this money and you gave it to me.” It was just like a mind-blowing thing to me because I didn’t really think that they really need that money. I mean, some people just invest hundreds of thousands of dollars and we give, you know, a hundred thousand back to them. They are like, “Wow! It’s like I needed this money and you gave it to me. I’m so happy.” So yeah, it’s very fulfilling.
Glenn: Fulfilling, yeah. That’s neat. Yeah.
James: So do you have any secret sauce for your success?
Glenn: Do the right thing, in the right place at the right time, little bit of luck. I do a lot of praying, help from above and just do the right thing. You know, I mean, I’ve gone through business relationship changes with business partners because we’re not always aligned with doing the right thing and I say if you really want to be successful, just always do the right thing and what comes around goes around.
James: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think one thing that I want to share with the audience is that I know about you and another buyer which is part of our same masterminds when you had details of that property which had a chiller system when it was down like one or two weeks before closing. And you had a choice whether you want to disclose it to the buyer or not and you made the choice of disclosing it, which is I think it’s absolutely, the right thing to do. [47:15unintelligible]
Glenn: Not only did I disclose it, James, I also bought the buyer a new Chiller.
Glenn: He was already passed his due diligence, he was closing on it. He couldn’t come back and re-trade me, his earnest money was more than a chiller so I could have just said it is what it is. I could have put a bandaid on it. But this is a small world we live in. And I’ve had business partners that have said, “Well, actually you don’t have to tell them that kind of stuff.” And inside my heart, I think I do. So I bought the guy a new chiller and he heard about that and he picked up the phone and he called me directly.
A lot of times the buyers and the sellers don’t always talk to each other because they have brokers that represent them and then they have attorneys that work stuff out. But he called me on the phone. He’s like, “I just want to say, thank you.”
And I said, “You’re welcome.”
And I said, “You know, it’s a small world and I know how I would feel if the roles were reversed.”
And I was buying an apartment complex and I got stuck with a pretty big bill and somebody had knowledge of it because that actually happened to me. I bought Oaks Creek up in Dallas, a 280 unit deal and after due diligence and even after you know, we should have caught it but we didn’t, there was a couple of buildings that had questionable foundation issues and my Engineers didn’t catch me with my contractors.
Later I found out that the owner knew about it, the seller and I said, “Why didn’t you tell me I could have just budgeted for it and fix it? Now, I’ve got to figure out how to scramble to pay for it because it’s not on my rehab budget.”
He said, “Gosh, I just didn’t feel like it was you know, I didn’t want to tell you because I don’t want you to re-trade me.”
I’m like, “Yeah, I wouldn’t have re-traded you. I just wish you’d have told me because I could have raised a little extra money to fix it.” Anyway, just what comes around goes around. Secret Sauce, do the right thing. You also have to analyze your numbers. With 30 years of experience, when I come across deals today, I will jump in and I will verify rents, I’ll verify rehab, I’ll look at how we’re going to finance it and some sponsors like me or you, we don’t do this but some people do and they just convince themselves that it’s still a good deal even though the numbers don’t say so or like, “Oh, my guts telling me that we’re gonna make a ton of money.”
“Uuuh, I don’t know, man. The comps suggest that you’re not.”
And like, “Well, the taxes aren’t really going to go up that high.”
I’m like, “Yeah, it’s going to go up pretty [49:54inaudible] and so the insurance.”
So people convince themselves that you know, not to listen to reality. Well, Secret Sauce, listen to reality, be honest with yourself. Listen, the numbers don’t lie. You might lie to yourself but the numbers aren’t gonna lie to you if you do your homework.
James: It’s so hard nowadays, I think for newbies, especially, who want to get started. I mean, they’ve been looking for deals for many, many months, sometimes years and they feel so frustrated because the market is good and everybody’s a champion. A bull market, everybody’s making money. Like I need to get jumping in to buy something. And even though they find the numbers are not really strong, I mean, you have to make a lot of aggressive assumptions. And then, they just go ahead and do it. It’s very hard for them. I can understand that but it is what it is. I mean, real estate is not forgiving in a downturn.
We have been in an upturn for the past nine years and a lot of mistakes has been [50:52inaudible]
Glenn: Well, here’s a little Golden Nugget for our current environment. So interest rates are down. I believe they were kind of reaching the top. Everybody talks about that. Well, one way to mitigate your risk is when you buy a deal in today’s market and here’s what I’m doing is I actually raise extra money for my investors for a rainy day fund. It’s not applied to anything whatsoever. It’s just going to sit in the checking account as an emergency.
Well, you know, you kind of have to pay some preferred return sometimes or a return to investors for all that extra money, but I’m doing that in my own personal acquisitions just so that I don’t ever have to go back into a cash call to an investor and I know things will come up that I can’t foresee and the market is gonna take a couple bumps. Well, I’m preparing for that now so, FYI.
James: Got it. Very good tips over there. What is the advice for newbies who want to be like you?
Glenn: Yeah. Be better than me. I think it’s important for people that want to get in the industry to actually latch on and become friends with and partner with somebody that’s done it before. It doesn’t mean you have to form a company together and you don’t have to be long-term, but at least do one deal with somebody who’s done it over and over again.
You’re going to learn so much just by having a mentor friend on one transaction. And once you’ve been through a full cycle or something with somebody holding your hand and don’t be afraid about giving up some of your money to that person or the profits, you know, you will get much more out of the education and the experience and then you can go do it on your own without those people after you’ve done it once or twice. Some people like to just jump in and say I can do this. That’s my advice, I would do that.
James: Got it. Got it. This is a very exciting and inspiring advice. Let me go to one last question before I let you go, Glen. Why do you do what you are doing on a daily basis?
Glenn: Oh, man. It doesn’t feel like work James. I kind of work and I look the deals and I just love it. I mean, it doesn’t feel like work and I could have been a hospital administrator that feel like work. I didn’t want to do that for the rest of my life. For some reason, I’m just attracted to this and I get to pick and choose who I do business with. I get to can pick and choose which brokers I like to do business with. I get to put together a team of people that I like to do business with. Not just people in the office but partners that I do business with; investors, lenders, I get to pick all that and you can do business with whoever you want to do business with and you can be kind of in control of your own destiny and it’s fun. That’s why I do what I do, James.
James: Awesome. Awesome.
Glenn: My question is James, why do you do what you do?
James: I that a real question?
Glenn: Yeah, It’s a real question.
James: Actually, no one has ever asked me that question when I ask that question but that’s a really good question. I do what I do because I’m trying to make a big impact in the world. So real estate is just a tool for me. I mean, basically, my reason would be how I impact. I mean, I love impacting other people’s life. I mean, you say it, you made an impact to those employees lives and we make, as real estate entrepreneurs, we make impacts into many people’s lives, into the communities lives, into our employees’ lives. We also give a lot of donations out. And how do I impact orphans, kids who are orphans in the third world country and we pay a lot of money for their education and all that. So impacting their lives and it gives you fulfillment. I mean that’s why I do what I do.
Glenn: I love it. I love it. You ask me hard questions. I get asked you one at the very end. You want to make a difference in the world, I think it’s awesome.
James: Yeah, yeah. As I said you can make money and you can forget about how much you made after a few years but impacting people’s lives, when you really see that you’ve touched someone’s life in a big way that comes with you until you die so that’s important.
Glenn: James, you’re a good man.
James: Thank you.
Glenn: You’re putting together some cool deals, you’re writing a book and you invite people like me to come on your show and share our story and I just think you’re a pretty cool guy, man. Thank you.
James: Thank you. Yeah, why not tell our audience and listeners, how to get hold of you, how to get in touch with you.
Glenn: Oh, yeah. Yeah. So my phone number…
James: You’re really gonna give your phone number?
Glenn: Yeah. 5 1 2 9 3 7 5 9 6 4 and I have an email address firstname.lastname@example.org
And you can also go to the website, we’re there too.
James: Thank you very much, Glenn, for being on the show and sharing all your awesome tips. We have so much value in terms of property management, in terms of your personal thought process and that’s what I want to get out of the podcast because sometimes, as I said, it’s not only making money it’s also what’s behind the person. That’s why I do this podcast.
Glenn: To make a difference in the world. Thanks, James.
James: Exactly. Thank you very much. Talk to you soon.