In December of last year, I put my goals for 2021 down on paper. Now that we’re nine months into the year, it’s a good time to go back and look at how much I’ve gotten done so far. These are the goals I put in the 2021 Guide to Colorado Real Estate Investing Strategies, the crowd-sourced book Envision Advisors puts out every year.
- Listen to the podcast “#312: 2021 Goals Status Check with Terrance” on the Denver Real Estate Investing Podcast
- Watch the YouTube video (at the bottom).
- Read the blog post. Note, the blog is an executive summary. Get the in-depth breakdown from the podcast or video.
Goal 1: Raise $30M in Equity for Value Add Real Estate Fund #1
In November 2020, I was approached by several of our current limited partners (LPs) from some of the syndications that I’ve done around Denver. They proposed raising a blind pool of capital that would enable me to get into larger, more institutional projects. The LPs would get better terms from the blind pool vs going deal by deal, and this would give me more ammo by having people committing capital that we could call as we did deals.
This has worked out well, since the LPs have the opportunity for more upside, and I have the confidence of knowing I already have people committed to doing deals. This setup allows me to focus on finding deals that fit the buy box we created. Even though building this fund isn’t something I wanted or even dreamed of doing, it’s allowed me to raise a lot of capital, meet some incredible people, and have a lot of fun. It’s helped me get in the door of larger projects that I’m very excited about. To date, we’ve closed one project in Des Moines that’s 108 units; I also have three or four more under contract that are all 100+ unit buildings between Denver and Des Moines. We currently have $84M in contracts set to close in the next 60 days.
The goal was to create sustainable cashflow that’s irreplaceable and can hold long term in markets that we believe in and in which we have a competitive advantage. I’m excited to discuss and dissect this more in the coming months.
Goal 2: Hire a COO to Run the Day-to-Day Operations of VareCo
I talked last year about how hard it is trying to build something when everything funnels up to you. It’s difficult to focus on growth and top line objectives when you’re dealing with everything else. It became clear that I needed to hire someone to run the company so that I could focus on three things: raising capital, sourcing opportunity, and creating more media content. Those are the 3 things that are the highest and best use of my time, whereas I can hire people around me to do everything else at a minimum of 80% as well as I can, if not better.
One of the highlights of my year has been hiring Philip Kreis as the Director of Operations for VareCo. I’ve known him for about eight-ten years; he’s been a broker with CBRE, has a master’s in finance from Chicago Booth, and worked for Lennar MF in Chicago. Philip is someone I trust and want to build a larger company with. His job description was to oversee the company by hiring and training people to run every aspect of it: property management, construction, the brokerage, and asset management. Since starting in April, Philip has hired five people and helped me identify the company culture.
We’re focusing on growing the business in all respects. We have two construction superintendents managing 15 active job sites. In addition to that, we’re offering our services to clients of our fund who need help turning apartment units or have small construction projects around town. We’re creating a property management company called LivLavender Property Management that will focus on creating safe and affordable places for people to live. Our goal for our properties is to allow people to be more productive and better versions of themselves in a spa-like atmosphere. For the brokerage, we have great strategic partners in Denver, and are sourcing deals in Des Moines and other markets with teams dedicated to cold calling and digging up opportunities. Asset management is being handled by a back-office team that reports financials for the company and our investors. Philip has hired incredible people and is helping me think about scaling a company, attracting talent, and what it looks like to be a good manager of people vs just doing deals.
It’s become evident in the past few months that one of the fundamentals of building a team and hiring is knowing what your culture is. We figured out what VareCo culture is, what we believe in intrinsically that makes us special and differentiates us from the competition. When we interview people, they can decide if they want to be a part of and are passionate about that culture. We’ve been able to bolster our team because we’ve talked a lot about hiring for a culture and not a resume. The book Traction helped us figure out how to define our culture, and it will be an exercise every year to go back and see how we’ve changed.
VareCo is high energy, hungry, and scrappy. Coming from Des Moines, a small city with a great work ethic, we will out-hustle and outwork any other team. We have a high sense of urgency because we’re a fiduciary for other people’s money and we’re providing safe and comfortable homes for people. We handle those responsibilities with care and hire people who believe in that. When we’re doing construction projects, we do things on time and on budget with a high sense of quality. When underwriting, we go over all of the details with a fine-tooth comb, honing in on the details to make sure we don’t miss anything and are the best stewards of our investors’ capital.
Our speed combined with nimbleness is our competitive advantage. We have a track record in two markets; we know the cities, brokers, tenants, and rents so we can underwrite faster than almost anyone, especially larger institutions. Working this quickly can create chaos and disorganization, so we hire people who embrace chaos and can produce disproportionate returns that are risk adjusted. Someone who likes things to be neat, tidy, and super organized probably isn’t the right fit for our culture. Construction and property management can be messy businesses; sometimes it’s like street fighting with hand to hand combat that can be ugly, but that’s where we create value for ourselves and our partners. Systems and processes are important, but not at the expense of returns for our investors; we are constantly juggling outpacing our competition with getting returns for our investors.
The last couple of months of sitting down and talking this out has made me crystalize what we’re best at and able to communicate it effectively. Being able to share this with people makes it black and white to prospective employees whether they’d be a good fit. Everyone we’ve hired embraces our culture and is energized and passionate about what we’re building. We’ve created a complementary combination: Philip wants things to be precise; I want to move quickly enough to get things done. It’s been an incredible learning period of challenging and stressful lessons, but the long-term reward is worth it.
Goal 3: Create More Content with Chris Lopez and Bigger Pockets
During 2021, we launched season one of Multi Family Mentors, previously known as the Tribe of Multi Family Mentors. We did 12 episodes that featured 12 guests who believed in the show so much that they flew into Denver during a pandemic. These guests were young operators who left college to pursue syndication, top property managers, underwriters, lenders, brokers, and people who specialize in construction. We offered anyone looking to get into or grow their multi family properties a one-stop shop where we could go deep into certain tactical mechanics in every category.
The in-person interviews were really special: we got a lot of comments and started building relationships with fans who reached out to us. Everyone was fired up to talk to people and go over ways they’ve solved problems or raised capital. I encourage anyone interested to check out the Multi Family Mentors series on YouTube and like, comment, and subscribe.
We just got invited to produce season two of the show with Bigger Pockets, which is going to be even better. We’ll have new guests plus some old ones. We’re combining it with our real estate ride along show and will give our guests the opportunity to shine in the area in which they specialize. There will be a new show format that will be in two parts: half interview and half property walk. The episodes are going to be shorter, but we’re going to go deeper with two episodes per guest. Look for the first episode in early November and give us your thoughts.
A goal of ours is to get people to understand that we’re talking about wealth creation. It can take longer than a W2 job, involves delayed gratification, and skipping out on spending money on things that feel good right now. Delayed gratification is not fun, but it’s the secret to building wealth. Building real, sustainable, and generational wealth is worth forgoing something now in order to 10x it, at least, down the road. It’s a trade people have to be willing to make.
Goal 4: Start Every Day with Deep Prayer and Reading the Bible at 5am
I had a son in May of 2020, and anyone who has children knows that one-year-olds get up early. I let my wife sleep in and spend most mornings with my son going to the park, listening to worship music, and in prayer reading the Bible. Some days he’s up earlier than others and I don’t always get it in. But after the first six months of not sleeping much, we’ve settled into a good routine and rhythm. This has helped me have more balance mentally, spiritually, and physically.
There were a lot of things going on during 2019-2020 that made it challenging for me to find time for these things. I was in the process of buying out my business partner and switched to syndication and raising capital. These big changes got me away from praying and reading the Bible regularly, and even though I wanted to do them, I didn’t make them a priority. Since I was feeling off-balance, I wanted to prioritize it for 2021. Writing it down and putting it in the book was an accountability check, and having people ask me about it has been great.
Making Investing Goals for 2022
Now, we’re gearing up for 2022’s book, and I encourage people to write and submit their own chapter. Participating in the book opens doors to becoming part of a great community that loves real estate. It’s a good way to meet new people and hold yourself accountable. Making yourself vulnerable by putting your goals out there allows you to create relationships with like-minded people who share your strengths and weaknesses. Get involved; take action; and start building relationships.
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