10th Grade Dropout to 400-Unit Apartment Complexes (WITHOUT Raising Money) - Transcripts

June 16, 2022

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Multifamily real estate investors almost always raise money for their deals, right? Some would call it almost impossible to try and build a huge real estate portfolio without borrowing money or partnering up to take down bigger properties. Sofia Castro, along with her husband, not only built a multifamily portfolio using their own money, but did so starting with a severe disadvantage. Both Sofia and her husband were high school dropouts, living without much money, and practically no experience. A local entrepreneur took Sofia and her husband under his wing, teaching them both how to become leasing brokers. From there, they started building their entrepreneurial endeavor, eventually selling their business a couple of decades later for a whopping billion dollars. With cash in hand and real estate experience under their belt, they began buying apartment complexes to flip them as condos. Once the recession hit, Sofia knew this was the wrong business to be in, so she pivoted heavily towards multifamily rental investing, specifically investing in “core deals”. Now, she has a streamlined process for finding deals, buying deals, and screening tenants. She gives some out-of-the-box, but highly useful tips on tenant screening, property management, and why “value-add” real estate isn’t all it’s chopped up to be. In This Episode We Cover: “Core deals” explained and why they often beat value-add properties What are cap rates and why understanding them is crucial when buying multifamily Condo conversions and the risk of flipping during downtimes in the economy Tenant screening tips that will get you the best tenants who pay on time, every month The right way to do property management and why you shouldn’t immediately outsource How to buy in the right real estate markets, plus the metrics Sofia looks for when investing And So Much More! Links from the Show BiggerPockets Youtube Channel BiggerPockets Forums BiggerPockets Pro Membership BiggerPockets Bookstore BiggerPockets Bootcamps BiggerPockets Podcast David’s YouTube Channel Ask David Your Real Estate Investing Question Listen to All Your Favorite BiggerPockets Podcasts in One Place Subscribe to The “On The Market” YouTube Channel David’s BiggerPockets Profile David's Instagram Dave's BiggerPockets Profile Dave's Instagram Rob's Youtube Rob's Instagram Rob's TikTok Rob's Twitter Rob's BiggerPockets Profile Steer Clear of Social Media Scams Should You Self-Manage Your Properties or Hire a Pro? The Beginner’s Guide to Buying Your First Multifamily Property Should You Raise Private Capital for Your Next Investment Project? Books Mentioned in the Show ABCs to Real Estate Investing by Ken McElroy Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill Connect with Sofia Sofia's Instagram: @officialsofiacastro Sofia's LinkedIn Sofia's Facebook Sofia's Website Click here to check the full show notes: https://www.biggerpockets.com/blog/real-estate-623 Interested in learning more about today’s sponsors or becoming a BiggerPockets partner yourself? Check out our sponsor page! See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.


this is the bigger podcast podcast show 6 23

we know exactly how our properties are being managed. We are the ones that are making the decisions on when the rents are increasing, how much the rents are gonna increase um when we're gonna do a cap packs, when we're going to replace our conditioning window, whatever the case may be, we have to be involved with that. We do not allow the property management to make those decisions, we have to come together, we have a meeting about it and then we collaborate and then it gets executed so that's the best way to do it. But how do you do that if you didn't manage before,

what's going on? Everyone, this is David Greene, your host of the bigger pockets podcast here with a banger for you today. I'm gonna get right into it. Today's guest is incredibly impressive, Fantastic. And still seemed pretty humble as we went through the interview rob and I will be interviewing Sofia Castro who is in the multi family space and has created an empire. I don't know any other way to say it based off of a business that she and her husband built and sold and then reinvested into real estate. So if you're somebody who has goals to turn active income into passive income, maybe you listen to the episode that we just did with Cody Sanchez and you're interested in how to create a business. Well this is a great exit strategy where you could take that money and put it into real estate and Sophia tells us just how she did it, frankly, I'm still a little shell shocked rob, what are you feeling all of it was just like really nuts, you know what I mean? Like she I mean she was so casual about it and again like you said, very humble like she talked about how she sold her company for a billion dollar valuation and it's like oh okay, that's I don't think I've ever met anyone that sold a company for that much and then She's got a portfolio worth $750 million dollars or something like that. So really just all around like a true master class in what it is to be a multi family investor. Yeah. In today's show we kind of break into how people typically start off building wealth in the multi family space and then what you can transition into later so that what she says, it's not as much of a heavy lift, you can actually enjoy it more.

And my favorite part why you want to listen all the way to the end is we get into a very good discussion about how to handle property management. We kind of break down the fallacy that it's either self management or its leverage. That there's actually a path to get along that process and you don't want to miss this out because this can save you a ton of time, energy and headache once you actually do start making momentum, rob, what were your favorite parts of the show? You know, I think one of the things that she talked about, she has, I mean she's at this point had thousands if not tens of thousands of tenants. So she gives us her very, you know, very proprietary secret sauce on how to screen tenants, you know, and how that looks on the property management side of things too, you know, she gives us an inside look at how she went from self managing her whole portfolio to then handing it off to another property management company and how she trained them to think like her. Yeah, that was really, really good, frankly there was more information than we could get to in today's show and this interview was fantastic. So I'm excited for you to hear it. Today's quick dip is go to bigger pockets dot com slash scam. S C a m Look, we love that you trust us here we work very hard to build the trust, build a relationship with you so that you will take the information that we are giving you and have what it takes to put into action. But there are bad people in the world that are taking advantage of that trust and scamming bigger pockets listeners. So different personalities on bigger pockets like rob and I have fake profiles made that are not us, the screen name is different and then they reach out to people that follow us and they try to get them to send money and many people are falling for this. So please check out bigger pockets dot com slash scam and learn more about what is going on in that world and know what if rob and I reach out to you or start a conversation, it's never going to be to ask for your money via DM.

Well yeah, on that note, I actually want to say more than likely is possible, but let's just assume that it's not going to happen, David and I will never reach out first. And I think that's where a lot of people kind of get hit with this because they'll follow us and then these bots will follow them back immediately and send them a message. And so people are like, oh man, yeah, hey, how's it going? And then they go really far into it and then they'll talk about real estate for a long time and then finally they'll be like, hey, how's your crypto portfolio looking? And you know, we've just, we've had people fall for it and it's not fun. Um, so please please, please, please as much as we would love to reach out first, it's probably a bot, so just make sure to pay attention to the spelling of our handle, that's it, Look at the spelling of the handle. And if you're still not sure, ask the person, if you think it's me or rob to send you a voice note. It's, you know what our voices sound like. Could be very, very difficult to replicate that. So that's something I've done when I've had high profile people reach out to me and I want to make sure it's legit is I justify know their voice. I have them send a voice message via instagram or whatever and I can verify it there. So please be careful because you work very hard for your money.

You work very hard to keep your money and we want to see you put that money into something that makes it grow, not the hands of some scam malicious scam bot. And just a quick word from today's show sponsors Does 15-20%. Are OI investing in turnkey rentals sound attractive. Did you know you can use the bird strategy with new construction that has immediate equity rental retirement offers fully turnkey properties that are newly built or renovated, leased and managed, allowing you to invest with confidence out of state. They have single family, multi family new building syndication opportunities across multiple markets that maximize cash flow appreciation and equity rent. A retirement, assists investors in learning how to build a comprehensive business plan with the best investment and tax strategies to achieve financial freedom through real estate investing. There's no excuse not to get started in real estate investing when you have the right team and systems already in place to learn more, visit rent, a retirement dot com that's rent T. O. Retirement dot com or call 803 116781. That's 8003116781. To learn more about how you can get started investing in some of the best cash flow markets today. You're trying to find the right people for your team, but nobody seems to fit.

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Hello there. Thank you so much. So excited for the invite to this podcast. Looking forward to giving all my knowledge and value to your audience. Really, really excited.

Yeah. So are we, let's get started by giving our audience an idea of what your overall portfolio looks like. Can you, can you tell us what type of assets you invest in and what your portfolio looks like today?

Sure. So you want the most recent one because you know, like I've been in the industry for quite a while and I've changed our portfolio probably about four or five times now, but today we have a complete different portfolio than what I started with. So today's portfolio, We have about $750 million dollars in our portfolio of core deals. And um if you don't know what core deals are, these are more a um assets where their vintages newer um and needs no value adds, they're pretty, you know, they're probably 10 years the oldest that I have in the portfolio right now. And our newest is something that is just been built only three months ago and we actually have one that's being built from ground up, which is our first development ever. Um and that one should be done probably in the next 12 months.

So how many properties do you currently own? And then how many units in those?

So right now we have about 12 properties. Um each of them carry probably the smallest one that we have at the moment is about 163 units. Um All the other ones are you know the three hundreds, 400 the largest one is 422 units in one property We have right now. About 2500 units more or less in

total. Okay, wonderful. And are using a syndication model to acquire these?

Not at all at the moment. We have never used syndication, we've used our own money. We've been very blessed that we have created um our wealth uh in a different business and we were able to carry that on um into real estate at the same time as having another business. So we would this business that we had that we've sold and I'm sure we'll get into it. We were able to get the cash flow from that business and put it into real estate instead of spending it. We've decided to open you know, a different brand from the other business and just invest all of our money into Multi family. Um and now we've been doing this for since 2003.

That is incredibly impressive. So I kinda wanted to ask you just kind of curious. So you mentioned right now that a large portion of your portfolio, I believe you call them core properties and you said that they're not really value adds, they're a little bit more on the premium side. Can you help me understand um I guess the the benefit of doing that versus going and grabbing a value add property. Um Because I imagine on something like that do the returns differ greatly because you're sort of buying it, you know. Yeah already fixed up and ready to go.

Yes definitely. So the core value deals um You know these are a asset class, very new vintage so you come in not needing to do much. But so what is the difference in today's market is completely different than it was many years ago? Um And the reason why we got into core value deals um Core deals, I'm sorry. Um is because of the market. So what happened was we used to love value adds because value adds you would come in, you knew that you would put in Capex uh and that you would increase the valuation of the property immediately and also your cap rate would increase. But in this market that we went through after covid um Those value ads typically are your workforce housing and those um tenant base was the ones that got hurt the most when it came down to this market. That was unpredictable. And this you know black swan that we didn't know we were going through. So when you wanted to increase rent after covid, which you know the market was extremely healthy to increase rent across the board. It didn't matter if you were in an a acid or if you were in a D. Acid it didn't matter rents were increasing across the board at the same exact speed and it didn't matter what you were making your income was you know that you were bringing in.

So what we were finding was that when we were increasing these rents to the value ideals these tenants couldn't afford it. They wanted to they didn't mind paying it. They just their income just didn't match with the increase increase of rent. So what we were finding was that when we would underwrite this deal they couldn't meet the three times income that we underwrite at. Um So we decided hold on a minute we didn't like the core deals before because you would buy these core deals at a 3% cap normally that's what you would where you would buy value adds at 68% cap right? So we're like Oh wait a minute and also price levels they're completely different. But in today's market it doesn't matter. Again if you buy it A. Or a D. Asset you're still make, you're still buying at a 3% cap. So we're like what are we doing 3% cap. And you buy a deal that you put zero cap X.

Or you buy at a three cap where you know that you have a heavy lifting to improve the property core value your tenants are your you know they're making a good amount of money on a constant basis. They're not having problems with their income. B. C. D. Acid tenants they're not getting income increases and they can't afford to accept the the income. I mean the increase in rents. So we started evaluating our portfolio and we're like wait a minute we need to change our core values here. We're gonna switch out from value adds to core deals. And because of those things. And one of the one of the main reasons is that when we underwrite our deals and um We always underwrite our tenants like if we're lending them alone for 12 months. So not a lot of people like to underwrite their deals once they're renewing those leases.

So you get a lot of you know evictions or late pays and it's a lot of work when you have to do all those things. So because of that reason we started looking into core deals now not a lot of people when they're in multi family they can't afford to move up to core deals just because it's of course more expensive. But the rate of return on your money are the same at this in this market today is the same. So we did the stretch we sold out some of the the apartments that we had that didn't fit that core values and we did uh you know disposed of those and purchased new deals that fit the new core value that we have in our portfolio.

So if I if I'm hearing this correctly I mean there's obviously it's very nuanced but a with the core deals very stable, secure and just an easier target for or like an easier demographic where you can increase rents and you know, they will, they do it because they have their, you know, better professions or whatever, it may be a better livelihood. Whereas on the value add side of things, um because of the amount of rent creases that were happening during the, you know, last year and a couple of years ago when you go and add value, they can't necessarily keep up with like the quote unquote inflation of like the new market rent. Is that about right,

correct. Exactly this. Yes, exactly. The scenario.

Okay, great. And so one of the things you talked about that I just wanted to get some clarity on because I know there are a lot of people listening here, we do talk about cap rates quite a bit. So do you think you could just give us like a quick rundown of the concept behind the cap rate and you know why a 3% cap would be significant in one of the deals that you were talking about.

Yeah. So cap rate, like I'm sure most of your audience knows it's the return on your cash money. Like you're not putting debt on, on the deal, this is if you're going in purchasing the property with no debt, that's what your cap rate return is a 3% return is if you invest $1000 which you have to buy the property in full with no debt, You're making 3% on that $1,000. Of course you're not buying no deal at $1,000. But I just want to make it easy for people out there to do their math. Um so when you're buying a deal um your return a 3% and you're saying if I have to put in this much work and it's gonna be a heavy lift and I'm gonna make a 3% on my money or do I want to buy something a little bit more expensive? Still making 3%. But I'm not putting in that heavy lift of having to improve your tenant base the whole nine yards. Which one are you gonna pick? So that based on cap rates is your return on your investment. So you wanna be as smart as possible. You want to, you know, try to work smarter than harder when you invest in a property.

So where would if you're gonna get your same return, where would you go, heavy lift or easier lift than. So that's how we evaluate when we look at our cap rate is the heavy lift that you're gonna put into it to get the same return.

I think a lot of people ask the question, why would you ever buy something at a three cap or a 3% return if there was no financing versus a six cap where you could get twice as much, especially new investors. This is the question they're all looking at is how do I get the highest return on my money possible? And I've always understood cap rate to be, uh, the desirability of the cash flow. So the more desirable the cash flow is, the lower the cap rate is going to be because the more competition there will be for that asset. And like you're mentioning like a really nice core, maybe we call it luxury property where you're getting the best tenants and the rents go up the most and you have the least headaches and you can run it with the least like what you call heavy lift. The lower the cap rate will be because that is a more desirable cash flow then if you get a higher cap, but it's a lot more work to do. And I, I'd like to differentiate here because what you're doing is the goal of every investor, you started off grinding and adding value and like what you're talking about with apartment complexes, improving the units raising the rent and then probably refinancing at some point is sort of like the burr method for multi family. We would use that in a single family space with the rehab. It's work that you're doing when you get to the point where you can put your money into properties that don't take as much work, but that maybe have a lower return that's actually where most investors are trying to get to. And then I'm curious to get your opinion on your experience when you do get something in a lower cap that's a nicer property. Do you find that over a five or 10 year period it catches up to and passes what would have looked like a better return on a value add property in the beginning?

Yes, you can. So it's a little bit of, you can't. Yes, you do find that that later on it does increase more and but for for those beginners out there that want to get the cash flow for us is our number one. That's all we look at the same way as when we first started, when we got into this d um into investing in multifamily are number one was what is gonna be the cash flow for this property and that should be everyone's number one. Um So when we used to buy at the very beginning we were buying very small duplexes because we had the mentality that we wanted to buy the properties cash right, that was just a mindset that you're gonna get more return on your money than leveraging it with the bank as we went on, we understood that leveraging the proper way because you could leverage wrong and a disaster could happen. But when you leverage correctly, your cash flow and and and later on the value to the property is gonna be way better if you do leverage yourself than buying all cash and trying to go after that. The cap rate. So cash on cash return is really what we look at also because we don't buy all of our properties free and clear. We definitely leverage across the board just because we could be buying more property and having more cash flow when you leverage. But yes, so when you do buy like say value adds and you do improve these properties the proper way and don't over improve them. Um You do get a better return on the long run because you're able to improve that property to your buying it at a lower valuation where they're missing out what that cap that cap acts that you're gonna put into it and then you could quadruple the value if you do it correctly. So yes, value adds do give you better returns on the long run.

But core values are deals. Um I'm sorry core the core deals um you're able to have a more steady return and it is favorable on the value increasing also. So it really depends on what market you're in and what you're investing for? So many different core values for investing that could value ads are great. Core deals are great. What are you in it for long term short term are you wanting to do those value adds so that you can increase the property value and get a nice chunk of return in the next 2 to 3 years value adds your deal when you buy core deals, your values are not going to increase as rapid as your value adds because of course you just bought a property that it was below value and you're increasing it. So again, it's a hard question to answer because there's just different core values that you're investing for, but they're all great.

Yeah, that all makes 100%. That is very relevant for me because we just went into escrow in a hotel in New York and it needs a lot of work and they were trying to sell it to us out of three cap and we're like,

well, no,

I don't think so. You know, this is gonna need a significant remodel. So we've been going back and forth and we finally landed on a price, but if we pull it off then you know, it'll increase substantially over the next couple of years. So um very cool. Thank you for the master class there on cap raids. I think a lot of people are gonna appreciate that at home. I wanted to kind of jump back a little bit here and discuss, you mentioned that you sold one of your businesses and that is sort of what propelled you into this massive portfolio, Very impressive portfolio that you have. Can you tell us a little bit about that business? Was it in real estate? Um, was it in the same world.

No, it was not at all. This is a business. So my husband and myself are, we met when I was 18 and he was 22 years old. We both come from very humble beginnings. Um My husband's ninth grade dropout, I was 1/10 grade dropout, no college degree. And when we met um for some reason, he was a very strong entrepreneur mindset, very positive thinker. Uh never allowed negativity to get in his life and he was just determined that he was not gonna live that humble life that his family comes from. And so when we met, I just completely fell into his mindset and I said, hey, let's do this together, we could create a business, I don't know how we don't have the money, we don't have the knowledge, but if you think that we could do it, let's go for it. So we started going into businesses and really didn't know anything about it. And we came across a uh an ad on the USA today on leasing broker manual. It was a manual, not a, not a franchise, not nothing, it was just a manual how to become a leasing equipment broker. Um and we said, you know what, This is interesting, my husband loved finance, we were looking for a business that was going to give us enough freedom to have our, you know, our own business to be able to create financial freedom with being to get into real estate, but getting into real estate that you needed, that you needed funds.

So we tried this, um, this business and the owner of the business fell in love with my husband um and really gave him mentored him into this business and when we got in it, we just knew that we needed to take it to the next level and we just kept on perseverance to this business. And We created a business that we were able to sell 25 years later. We started in 90 five I believe in in 2019. We sold it for $1 billion dollar evaluation. Yeah. And

that, that, yeah, that's uh yeah, that's, that's a first for me. I don't think I've

ever heard ever

met anyone in real life that has sold the business for a billion dollars.

I would have to go into a really, a lot of details because it just didn't go from, it went from leasing to medical finance, we started lending doctors, working capital. So we pivot with that business throughout the years and just kept on, You know, giving it more, stepping it up and stepping up and and it it was able to, the business today is still running, still doing amazing today. It's evaluated at, at $6 billion. So I mean, they're doing amazing and it's gonna continue to do amazing. So yes, but we decided that we really wanted to get full time into real estate investing and it was just our passion, our, we love it, we know it really well and we just felt that it was our time to start, you know, have our financial freedom the way that we really wanted it.

So can you tell us maybe like a summary of what that business was, how it operated and then why you wanted to get out of that and into real estate, You

Know? Again, it's because it was our passion um that business required a lot of our physical time in there. We had to, my husband's time was really, really um involved seven days a week, 24 hours a day really to get that business running the way it was. Um So we just had already a portfolio at that time, we already had a portfolio probably about $100 million and we just knew that we could grow multi family and have financial freedom and be able to travel, be able to do what we wanted to do from wherever we're at, we didn't physically need to be in the properties or at an office, we could be traveling the world and still have that mailbox money that we call um monthly and not have to b they're not struggling of running a business employees. So it was just something you know, that we really love, we just love real estate, we think it's the best thing ever.

Yeah, so you kinda mentioned, alright, I guess I thought you sold and then you kind of snowballed into sort of what your portfolio is, but you mentioned you had $100 million portfolio already. So can you tell us like a little bit about that trajectory, What was the first property that that kicked off the portfolio and then maybe just like, you know, how did that progression look?

Yeah. So in 2005, 2004, something like that. We got approached by some friends that we knew that said, Hey, we have an opportunity, um we need an equity partner to go into condo conversions. Um and we were like I said, we were dying to get into real estate. We had not, we had done a couple of fix and flips little single family homes, but nothing major. Um and in that time we had enough savings that we said, yeah, we could go in and being that we had our business that we had all the banks on our side and we were able to get uh debt very easily. We're like, yeah, we'll come in, we're dying to get into real estate. We really know zero about condo conversion, But we're willing to go in and go into partnership with you guys. Well we did that and we bought over $81 million buildings taking out all the tenants and then we were dating each door to sell them as condos and back then I'm not sure if you guys were in the market, but that was like the hottest thing in real estate to do. Well what happened was during the time that we started converting all these units into condos. The financial crisis came around and kind of almost made us go into bankruptcy because nobody wanted to buy, we didn't have any cash flow in these buildings because we had evacuated everyone out because we were doing condo conversions. Um and we were like what do we do now?

We had our business that was still doing really well thank God, but we had put our business as a guarantor to all this debt, we had our personal guarantee and we were like what do we do now that this is we can't lose everything that we have just saved for and worked so hard to lose it in one day because of this whole crisis. So in that moment we for some reason clicked in and said okay we're gonna get tenants back into these properties and we need to rent and get some cash flow to at least help us out. My husband went back into our business, he never left it but went into the business and really focused on growing that business to continue giving us more cash flow so we could afford the debt that we got into in with all the condo conversion. So in that time I went into the management side alongside our other partners and we started learning what multifamily rental income properties were all about and we're like oh my God what are we doing? This is the, this is where we need to focus and is buying rental properties, not buying a condo conversion. So In that time we waited from 2008 all the way to 2011 we had to work our way out of the problems that we were in with those condo conversions, we sold them all as apartment buildings, we actually kept to that were cash flowing and we sold all the other ones, we would come to the table with money instead of getting money. We were coming to the table with money, got rid of all the bad ones and we stayed with the ones that were making us some cash flow very little because we had bought the wrong with the wrong money, you know it was, we bought it too high back then so it wasn't really cash flowing, but it was giving us enough that we understood what cash flow was all about. So in 2011 I went in, myself and my husband decided that we were gonna go into real estate heavily on rental properties and my daughter had dropped out of college because she wanted to be an entrepreneur. So I said come along, me and her went and we started buying up all these foreclosures, small little town houses, we bought 16 homes Um and we said what are we doing every time attendant will leave? We kind of like stayed with no rent. So we said we have these other multi families, why don't we just go straight to multifamily? And we started in 2013 only buying you know Like five doors up.

And then we got a portfolio from 2011 to 2017 we were able to acquire um Probably about I don't know that's when we had about 300 and something doors. We sold that portfolio because again it was really value add, very heavy value adds um and we had already converted all of them. They didn't need no work. We had already done all the Capex And we sold that portfolio was able to make $18 million dollar profit on that portfolio. So from there we went on to only buying 100 plus apartment buildings. Um And started then we used to manage all of our properties. We had our management company in house and in 2019 when we sold the building, I mean I'm sorry when we sold the business we decided that we were going to give up management also turn it over to a third party management and now do acid management to the management company and really scale the business to the next level which is where we're at today and we're no no we're nowhere near done buying or acquiring apartment buildings will keep on doing that for a while for a long time. Um So that's how that portfolio started and where we're at today with the business.

That's really great. So if I kind of I mean extrapolate here, I mean it sounds like you've had you know thousands of tenants over the course of your you know your real estate, I mean maybe even tens of thousands at this point over the course of your real estate portfolio. So I got to imagine that a really big component of your business is actually like the tenant screening and getting the right tenants in there in that piece of it because obviously the tenants you know they pay you rent and the rent pays the bills. So is there a process that you've sort of developed over the years on how you approach you know filling vacancies with the correct tenants?

Yes. This is a really I'm gonna give you the r number one we have a few steps but our number one is like what I had told you before, we're in the we were in the finance business so we understand what it is to have a tenant that has to pay you on a monthly basis. So the way that we approach our tenants is that when we look at that tenant, we underwrite them like if we were giving them alone for 12 months because in actuality you're allowing them to live in your apartment building or you're single family rental whichever one it is For 12 months. And if they don't pay you you still have to pay your debt. You still have expenses on the property no matter what. So we make sure for us not to have a lot of um evictions or late pays. We underwrite our tenant As that 12 month loan and we make sure that they have three times the income. And that's hard. It's hard in a lot of markets because due to the income that they're receiving or if you have a vacancy you're desperate to fill it right? And you're like oh my God I'm gonna make an exception, I'm just gonna let them in. They only made two times the income for the rent. But it's okay I need to fill my unit.

Well guess what, two months later you're gonna have a vacancy, You're gonna have an eviction and they're gonna live in your unit for three months. Or as long as it takes to get an eviction or to get them to pay up. So I try to explain this to a lot of newbies when you when you have a vacancy don't go desperate because when you go desperate you're gonna still have it vacant. And but at at the beginning when you have it vacant you don't have nobody destroying your unit or living there for free. So make sure you underwrite them, number one is their three time income that it can afford the rent. Number one, everything else. You know, we do the criminal background check, we make sure that they have been in the, in their business um in their employment for two years plus or in the same industry for a long period of time. So we have different criterias. But I tell you the number one that you need to worry about to everyone listening underwrite your tenant as if you were giving them a 12 month loan and you will be in good shape.

Does this mean that you, I mean, are you turning away just an incredible amount of applicants compared to the standard multi family owner?

Yes, I would say so. I would say that we probably are very strict with that because we've had our rodeo's already where we have accepted been lenient on accepting that and at the long run you fail anyway. So what are you doing? So that's been our number one. Do we turn down a lot? Yes. And we rather have that unit vacant for an extra week or so and find that right tenant than having it filled a week earlier and having the wrong tenant in your unit.

You know, this highlights one of the principles that I live by in my investing career that you don't want real estate to be your financial savior. You don't want to rely on income from real estate to live your life and pay your day to day bills, especially in the beginning because when you're doing that and you have a vacancy. The emotions that you experience are horrible. It's a panic. It's a I have to get it filled or I can't make my rent payment when you're living that that um close to the bottom, you don't make good decisions when you're that afraid the right way to look at it is a very long term thing. Yes, I have vacancy now, but that's a better problem than a wrong tenant than an eviction than a trash unit. And you hold out, you get the right person and you learn what you're looking for and you do better on the next round. So I just want to sort of highlight that element of what you're talking about here and that's one of the reasons that I tell people you should be investing from a position of financial strength, you should have reserves, you should have money set aside, that's when real estate works the best. Because you avoid those, those emotions of panic rob, Would you say in your career that, like, have you ever made a bad decision because you thought I have to get something filled or have you avoided that? Oh yeah, very early on in my Airbnb career. I mean, you know, obviously vacancy is like a big thing, right? You want to book your Airbnb so you can make money, it's the point of all real estate really.

But, you know, a lot of the times what we were doing is, you know, we were just lowering the rates because we're like, yeah, you know what, I'd rather make 50 bucks and nothing at all or I'd rather make 75 bucks than nothing at all in like clockwork every time we did that the type of guests that that brought into the units just never really panned out in in my favor at all. You know. Um And it really is one of those things that I've just learned the hard way so many times to the point where now it's kind of just like a, you know what, I don't want to make the 200 bucks, it really depends on the property, some properties that bare minimum I'll take might be 100 and 50 bucks a night on properties like our Scottsdale property where the average is $2000 a night. The minimum, I'm probably gonna take on that is like 1200 bucks because at the end of the day, you kind of have to evaluate what's worth it. And like when that trouble pricing comes into play. So for us this is obviously something that you figure out with every new property, especially in Airbnb because you're always adjusting the pricing strategy, but you know, you learn very quickly to just go for the premium and you know, except that you'll have vacancy every so often,

yep I think that's such an extreme important piece when you're gonna start investing in multifamily in rental property, in real estate in general. And David, you're so right with what you said, if everyone just follows that, you would be so successful at the end of your investment, you're gonna be so happy and you're not gonna have those negative outcomes that people say, oh my God, I hate being a landlord. There was so much work and, you know, I failed and I didn't make the return that I thought because they do all those mistakes, but if you do exactly what David said and follow those rules and stick to them, you have to stick to them. Um you would love being a real estate investor for a lifetime.

So when you're screening for tenants, what are some things that, in your experience, Sophia you've learned are really good to look for any tips that you can offer for how to do a good job with this element of the business,

you know, time and business or time in their employment and the industry um that they're in was something that we also noticed that was a very steady tenant was if that tenant has been in the same job or industry for a long period of time, we found that those were very steady tenants. Um Now you see a tenant that comes in and has been at his job for one year and, you know, was in, it's an electrician. And but the prior job he was a plumber and you know stayed in it for six months and the other one he was there for two months and he was a janitor. And So those type of things you see that they're inconsistent, they're gonna be an inconsistent 10ant. Um so I really really, you know nailed down on income on their their steadiness of their employment or or they could be entrepreneurs um and have their own business. But those two things, they just go hand in hand and you're going to see the consistency of a good tenant. Um When it comes down to checking those two items. Number one though, like I said stick with the three time income um for rent, it's gonna be The # one best thing that you ever do um If that's anything I ever have to tell somebody is that that's my number one. But the second one is the consistency of their employment.

Sure makes a lot of sense. I wanted to ask a little bit on the property management side too. I mean you man you self manage for a large portion of it. Now you have property managers, do you own that property management company because it seems at your level with the amount of units you have bringing that in house might start making sense. Have you gone down that route before?

So I started with my own property management. Um That's the way we started was but we had smaller units. Um I had, you know, my own maintenance, employee employees, property manager, assistant property manager, I had the accountant, um project managers all in house, you know, my own property management. And what I noticed as I started growing was that we were spending so much time on management with the employees um that it was taking away from being investors, looking at the asset management, making sure what type of assets were really making sense investing in. Um Even though I tell everyone you need to manage your own properties for a period of time, because the heartbeat of being a multi family or a real estate investor in rental properties, you have to know how to manage because management is the heartbeat of it. If you don't manage your properties properly, you're not gonna succeed. So I definitely believe that you have to manage so that when you do bring in that third party management, you know how to manage them so that they can manage the properties the way you want them manage, not the way that the management property wants to manage them, but if you don't manage that your own property, how can you tell them how you want it? Um And having our own property management at this point in time. Yeah, it could make sense, but I'm not in the property management business and I don't want to be in it. So at that time it just doesn't make sense for me or myself for my husband to own a property management because then we're gonna have to gear ourselves and concentrate on running the management company again. And that's not what we're in this for. We're in this to invest in multifamily rental properties to, you know, have financial freedom and create generational wealth with these properties, not property management.

So but a lot of people do love property management and and and and if you have that insight or if you have that passion that you want to own your property management because you do enjoy having a property management alongside your investment. Perfect. But for us it just made no sense because that's not the career we wanted.

You know, something I noticed is the question people ask is the wrong one. And you made a point that highlights the right question. What I typically hear people say is do you self manage or do you hire a property manager? Which sounds innocent enough when you're first asking it, here's the problem if you self manage, you got yourself a job well more of a job. There's always something that you have to do with real estate, never completely passive. But yes, it's a job and in my subjective opinion, it's the worst job of the whole thing. Property management is just like the first thing that you want to get systemized and taken care of. Yeah, I always say it's like the lymph node of real estate. They just have to absorb all of the worst parts of it and make it work. So. God bless the good property managers out there.

Yeah. And you know I think that a lot of people stop being landlords or purchase um properties because they do a bad job in property management and they get turned off and makes you hate

it. Yeah. Yeah. You have to protect your emotions when it comes to this because if you get a bad experience or you get a bad taste in your mouth, you won't do it and you'll lose a lot of money just because you let yourself start to hate the job. So but the other option is I'm going to hire a property manager and they're the experts. I'm going to let them do. Their job is usually a mistake too because they're looking to do this with as minimal time, effort and energy as they possibly can because they run on thin margins and they're not going to do it well. So what happens is you can lose money from the poor job, they're doing your vacancies are higher. I just found out I had to replace a few people, I won't go too deep into my own tangent but I have a property in California that nobody was checking. The property manager on the rent was 1800. They were collecting market rate was $2600. That's how far it went because nobody was managing the manager.

Right? And I could, I know this is true. It doesn't mean that I'm perfect about doing it. I have to hire people to manage my investments and I've had the last couple I've had to fire. So that's just an example of that $700 a month that I'm losing for years because nobody was looking at property management. And that's, that's an example. The right question. The right way to approach it is what you said. I will learn it and then I will teach someone else how to do it the way that I want it done and you end up having leveraged it out. But when you skip that middle step and you just jump to a property manager like, hey, you do this if they're not really good, which most of them are not really good, you're not going to get a good result, you're going to lose money. And the way you mentioned it is what I wish every listener would do is start off doing it, learn what works, give very clear expectations and standards to the company overseas to make sure that they are doing that and then you end up getting the both best of both worlds is that in line with how you've experienced it.

100%. Yes. So I actually, when we did give up property management, we interviewed probably about six property management companies, third party management and we sat with them actually and told them, listen we have been managing our own property were very experienced that we just don't want to be property managers but we want to be very involved with you at a high level. We only want to deal with your regionals and your regionals need to communicate with us on a weekly basis. We want to be very involved. All of the cap ex projects we will be involved with, we will be the ones running those projects and a lot of companies told us, oh I'm so sorry we can't manage that way. And we were like that's fine, we'll find somebody that will and luckily enough we did find that company and we have been extremely happy with them. We actually a lot of people don't like, you know institutions don't like to carry only one property management for all of their property. They like to spread it around. In our case we have stuck with to property management companies only because they have been working with us extremely well. They do exactly what we uh communicate with them and we collaborate, we give them our opinion, they give us stairs, we come to the middle if we need to and we collaborate with one another and we have meetings on a weekly basis on one subject and the other week we have it on other subjects so we're we acid manage the management company and it's worked out beautiful because we don't have to deal with all the headaches of employees of all the property management things that you know, you have to implement and everything else. But we know exactly how our properties are being managed.

We are the ones that are making the decisions on when the rents are increasing, how much the rents are gonna increase. Um, when we're gonna do a cutbacks, when we're gonna replace our conditioning, when whatever the case may be, we have to be involved with that. We do not allow the property management to make those decisions. We have to come together. We have a meeting about it and then we collaborate and then it gets executed. So that's the best way to do it. But how do you do that if you didn't manage before?

That's exactly right. And additionally, um doing it that way will keep you involved. It will reduce your anxiety, but it won't make you hate real estate. So what I typically find is I don't mind making the decision if it was like, hey, are we going to do A or B. We're gonna replace the air conditioner or not. I'll ask a couple questions. I'll figure out what I want and I'll make a decision that is not draining to me and I think most investors, they actually enjoy that. What is draining is calling three different companies to get quotes on the air conditioner and scheduling with the tenant to make sure that they can actually like, that's the part that makes you hate real estate. So if you can make the decision and then leverage off the execution of it, you get sort of the best of both worlds. Yes

and dealing with the employees, Oh my God, that at the property level it's, it's difficult to, a lot of people hate that. But yes, exactly what you said is the, it's the best of both worlds. I love being involved when it comes down to like what you said, making decisions, knowing what's going on with the property, you know, seeing what's gonna move that needle in the property and you know it's it's fun, it's interesting, you're seeing that you're able to move the needles by making different little moves and but you're not there, you don't need to be at the actual property physically or worry about being there every single day. So it's fun. It's, it's actually an enjoyment to manage your management company.

Yeah, so shameless plug here rob and I are looking to hire someone that can execute the stuff that we need for the Airbnb s that we are buying because like I see rob in his element, he's very good with seeing has the vision, he sees the details, he knows how things need to look, but then I watched as he actually got to go execute it and I just see like his energy levels just as his anxiety levels go like this, you know what I am very much an extreme version of, of like I like to learn it and master it before I give it away because I think, I think it's master and then delegate because then I can actually teach and give some insight on how to do it the way that I want to, you know what I mean?

Yeah, and exactly what we did, that's exactly what I advise all newbies and you know, even when you're scaling and you're making that decision of like what we did, um you need to know what you're gonna be handing off, You have to be involved because that's your investment. Nobody else is gonna care for that investment as much as you're going to care for it. So in order to really get the maximum amount of your investment to get your returns, you have to be involved. You're the only one that's good, you know, has that investment in there and you're the only one that wants it to grow. Everybody else is just working there, just employees. So But yes, being involved with the management company though is the best of both worlds, being able to just say, hey, this is what I want now you go out there and you delegate that work

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So let's kind of wrap up with this last line of questions. Obviously if you're trying if what you're saying is it's all about finding the right tenant and then you're saying and that's about finding someone who has stable employment that makes good wages. If you continue this reverse engineering process. The next question is, well how do you buy in an area where those companies are and they're hiring those people where they want to live. So what advice do you have when it comes to choosing the location you want to get the tenant you want to get the result you want.

So we do a lot of that, that part there. My husband is the one that really takes on that part. He does all the acquisitions and of our company. So, but we we we do is that we try to look at a market that is trending very high in rental. That it's, it's favorable. People are wanting to move there because of employment because of schools, the hospitals location and we go five mile radius and we kind of study the locations. Um right now we're very heavily involved invested in florida. We live in florida. We were, I was born and raised. My husband was raised in florida since he was seven years old. So we know florida extremely well. Um, but we kind of the the sun belt area is where we go, we also follow landlord um laws, you know, what's going on with the landlord laws?

Is it favorable to the landlord? Um Also taxes are a big thing for us. So we kind of stay in, you know, the sun belt area because of all those little details that I just told you just really match our investment core values. Um, So you know, hospital schools, employment, um, how the market is performing in rental. Um, We like to go obviously to where market rents are at its peak because everybody's not there. Okay, paying higher rents than in the other suburbs or you know, areas that rents are not as high. So for us it's cash flow. So those are the things that we look for in particular when we're going to invest.

What do you think? Yeah, just one final threat. I want to pull out here with the, with kind of the property management side of things. And then now you're, you know, kind of talked about how you're scouting everything at one point. Like do you feel like you're ever done developing systems? You know, especially whenever you're working with like this new property management company you've been working with for a while, I guess they're not new. But did that force a level of organization that you didn't have or was it pretty seamless to move your processes and your systems from your original property management company to this. And like, or you feel like you've figured it out and you've just got a very well oiled machine at this point?

Well, at this point we have it pretty figured out. So, but do we implement new strategies and come up with new things all the time, if you don't continue to evolve with the um environment with the market, you're, you're gonna stay behind and it's gonna be like the Kodak, you know, Kodak stayed behind and all the new technology took over. So we're always evolving and learning new technologies or new techniques to implement into our strategies of investments. Um but at this moment where, you know, we've been in it for a long time. It's very, it's already like an oil machine for us. But like I just said, we always learn, we always growing, we never stop you know um getting information doing research and learning what's happening in the markets, you know right now if we didn't do all these new changes, we would stay behind and we probably wouldn't be where we're at today and continue to grow because right now we're implementing new strategies, We're learning about development. We've never done a development deal and now we're one ground up and now we have another lot that we just purchased. Um and we're looking now for new land to start doing you know, ground up deals learning new techniques about it. We're starting to do more research on how it works and moving on with the time because before like you would buy a property and the replacement cost was way cheaper to buy an existing building than to do a ground up and today's environment regardless that the materials cost, the labor cost, everything is extremely higher. It's still cheaper to develop from ground up than it is to purchase a build an existing building. So those are things that we didn't really know much about and we're learning and we're seeing that you know where that we really do like this whole new development thing. So always learning never stop learning because if you stop, you're gonna stay stunt.

That's awesome. Alright well thank you for sharing that and I just I'm going to highlight another thing you said because you're giving us so many nuggets here today. It is, everyone sort of understands when you say, yeah, you need to grow with the times, like Yeah, yeah, yeah, blockbuster netflix, I hear it all the time, Kodak, right? But with real estate specifically, there's this enchantment that comes along with you get a couple of properties you're done, you just get easy money, you go to the beach, you drink mai tais, you watch dancing with the stars, you pat yourself on the back for three years of hard work and you're done and it is not that way things change, tenants are looking for different stuff. Your properties can fall apart, like what you're saying is exactly right, You have to be willing to continue evolving now, it's better and it's less work than working a W two job where you're having to evolve much more. But real estate is not isolated from this reality of life, that things change and you have to keep up. It's so refreshing to see a person that has sold the property for a billion dollars and now has 12 properties that have over 100 units each one and didn't do it syndication, frankly, I don't know if I've even interviewed somebody who didn't use the syndication road to get to where you're at, That is at the pinnacle of where we all want to be and is saying, Yeah, at this point we have to keep evolving, it doesn't ever end, you're always going to be doing this when you're 90 years old, the world's going to be changing and you have to be doing your best to try to keep up with it just so you can stay relevant. So thank you for having humility to acknowledge that and kind of like putting an arrow right through the lie that so many gurus put out there where they say, hey, take my course, spend $100,000 I'll teach you how to work hard for a year and then you'll never have to work again. And I just, so many people I see get crushed by that, so appreciate that. Alright, we're going to move into the last segment of our show. It is the world famous, famous for Sophia in this segment of the show, rob and I will take turns asking you questions to get to know you a little bit better and hopefully even more nuggets out of that beautiful mind of yours. Question number one, what is your favorite real estate book?

You know, that was a tough one because I have a few. But my number one that I always love to give, especially people that are beginning is the A. B. CS to real estate investing from ken Mcelroy and

robert Kiyosaki.

Yeah, I love that book because it gives you the details exactly what you need to know to really start investing and understanding the terms, which is one of the most important things when you go out there to start investing and it just gives you so much knowledge that you're able to say. Ok, I understand a little bit, let me, you know, start doing it. So I would have to say that's my number one to give to new beginners

awesome. What about your favorite business book? So

my favorite business book is think and grow Rich. That that book for me at the very beginning when I was going into Yeah, napoleon Hill, I love it. Um it was one of the ones I've read it maybe 34 times now. I still sometimes get in my car and put the audio because it just gives you that mindset that you know of being able to do things without, you know, learn from your failures. And I really think that book is great for, for people that are getting into business or, or in business.

Okay, awesome. So aside from, you know, building one of the biggest real estate empires we've ever seen on this show. What are some of your favorite hobbies? Sophia,

So my favorite hobbies, I love boating. Um you know, we, we live in south florida, but going out on a boat on the weekend or even on my days if I have a couple of days off going out there and just enjoying the water and the scenery and being on a boat is one of my favorite hobbies of all times the ocean.

That's awesome. Alright in your opinion. What sets apart successful investors from those who give up fail or never get started?

Oh so those are people that don't believe in themselves and can't learn from failure. Uh They don't have the tenacity to be able to fail, learn from it, pick up and keep on going. Um Are the ones that succeed, The ones that don't are the ones that fail. Don't learn from their mistakes and they kind of like throw that sand over their head and they dig that hole deeper and they just think that the world is over because they made one mistake or one failure came across their their front of their of their journey. So you know the tenacity being positive, we have a saying that is P. M. A positive mental attitude and learn from your mistakes, failures are one of your biggest attributes in life is learning what did I do wrong so that now I could do it even better.

It's amazing. Yeah I think the greatest factor of success is failure but we're all too scared to do it. So we all got to fail sometimes. Very very strong note to end here. Lastly, Sophia, can you tell us where people can find out more about you on the internet or you know where where can they learn more about who Sophia is.

Yes I would love that. Um So on instagram um my handle is official Sofia Castro and Sophia is spelled S. O. F. I A. In linkedin. They could find me under Sophia Castro and facebook. I it's also official. Sophia Castro. I also have my website that they could go to that is official Sofia Castro dot com and they will be able to reach out to me on any of the handles. Um, social media, send me a message and I'll get back to you. But I would love for you guys to follow.

And I always love to empower women to get into multi family. And I know you men are here. No, no nothing against men. But you know, being a woman, a latin women. Uh, you know, they're always kind of like the women sit back and either become a housewife, which there's nothing wrong with that there. That's a bigger job than anything else. But it's not for me. But I love to encourage women to get into real estate investing even if it's in a small scale scale. Um, just because it's such a great way to create generational wealth to leave to your family for many years to come. That continues to just give cash flow. So women out there, if you're out there, follow me men. I also love to speak to men that want to get into real estate and want their wives to get involved and they don't want to, but any, anybody that's into multifamily investing.

Please follow me. I'd love to be able to give you any kind of knowledge that I have gone through and that I have in my little pocket here that I could give you guys.

Well, thank you for that rob. If people want to find out more about you, where can they go? They can find me on the youtube's over at rob built. That's R O B U I L T. You can also find me on instagram over at rob built as well, spelled the same way. And if you want to just change that spelling a little bit over on Tiktok, my handle is rob alto at a little o at the end, someone snagged my handle though. Everyone at a bigger pockets knows that now because we've said it like 100 times. That's all right. Thank you for that rob. You can find me online. I'm at David Green 24. I also have a youtube.

It's David Greene real estate. Pretty easy to know. I've started, I've hired a social media company to manage my instagram my Youtube and some other things. So check those out. Leave me a comment. Tell me what you think if this is money well spent or if I need to replace them with somebody else. And then if you'd like to make some passive income, you can go to invest with David Greene dot com, fill out the registration form there and you can learn how you can be a partner with rob and I in our real estate. Lastly, I will just say this public service announcement, I know that I have fake accounts on instagram, so does rob, so does Sophia lots of people have these, look very closely at the screen name of anybody that requests to follow you or messages you because it's usually not the real person and then we will never ask you for your money via instagram in crypto, in forex, in N. F. T. S and whatever the new flavor of the month is, there's a lot of scammers going out there, so please be careful, protect yourself and look very closely. I applied for that blue checkmark for the 20th time and was denied again.

And so this is just gonna keep happening until that goes down. Sophia, this has been a fantastic interview. Really appreciate you sharing what you have. Do you have any final words you want to leave us with before we let you go?

Well, I just want to tell your followers thank you so much. Um you know you guys, I love your website, your bigger pocket. It just has so much information that I'm a huge fan even though that I've been in the business for so long. I still go in there to read all your information. It's awesome, Thank you so much for providing this and I wanna just tell everybody, you know, really look into becoming a passive investor if you don't want to be um, a full time investor because it's a asset that's gonna be around for a lifetime and it's gonna create generational wealth for your families. For years to come. Nothing can replace real estate, No technology. No, nothing roof over your head is always gonna be needed. So don't get scared. Try it. It's amazing. It's changed my life my whole family's life.

So I really want all of you to go out there and do the same. Because if we did it, you can too

awesome from you. You know, you always asked me this after someone gives a very profound uh No, thank you. I know. I'm always like dang it. What do you want from me? That was so cool. Sophia, thank you so much. This was a really great episode. And I had like Towards the end, there like 20 more questions. I was just like, I wish I could ask this, but we'll have you on again someday. Well, once you decide to discard this portfolio and re buy another one, we'll

love anytime you invite me. I will say yes. All

right. We'll let you get out of here. Sofia. Really appreciate your time. This is David Greene for rob. The detailed diva Abba solo signing off. I made rob laugh today. I can check that box, scam, malicious baby. What? Mhm. Mhm.

All right