Let’s Talk About Realities of Real Estate
SSD: You mentioned this to me in conversation, but I want to make sure people see it here.
How much would you say that mindset matters when pursuing passions and new adventures as you have?
NG: I think it is important for people to know that working on my mindset while taking [imperfect] action in my journey, go hand in hand. Learning and unlearning things have played such a major role in where I am today…more than studying real estate content alone.
Before real estate in March 2020, I considered myself solely a math teacher, used to playing it safe and just doing what I do each day, staying debt-free, giving my all to my work.
Now I am on a journey, unlocking the power of thought, using affirmations to ground me, learning to be more deliberate with my time, writing down my goals and accomplishing them, learning to face my fears to get what I desire. There are books that I have read and listened to that have literally changed my life. Think and Grow Rich, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, The 12-Week Year, The Science of Getting Rich, and The Go-Giver to name a few. Reading this literature has helped me to see that, some of the ways that I think about things have been counterproductive to what I want in my life, that my childhood has greatly impacted my current mindset, and that I have the power to change that.
SSD: Is teaching still on a considerable footing for you as a passion at all alongside real estate, or does one definitely outrank the other now? Why?
NG: Somewhat. Before I started investing in real estate, all I could see myself doing was teaching math. Now, that has changed. I still have a passion for teaching – it excites me. But I have a hunger for real estate and building wealth and having more freedom (financially, with my time, in my purpose, and in relationships). Those freedoms go beyond the constraints of working my 9-5.
SSD: Is real estate the end game, or is it just the start for you? And if it’s just the start, what else does future Nina want to dabble in?
NG: Real estate is what will be the fuel for other ventures, that is my desire. I want to create multiple streams of income, though. I am committed to building wealth, replacing my W2 income with passive income and cash flow, changing the legacy of my family, and having the space to do what makes me happy.
There are a lot of things that I want to do, the more I learn. This year, I want to add Airbnbs to my portfolio, once I finish these two rehabs in KC and Philly. I want to acquire more rentals using creative financing strategies. I want to even open a laundromat at some point.
SSD: At the rate you’re going, and the focus you’re executing with, you’ll get those things and more soon.
What do you hope to accomplish in the near-ish future as you continue in real estate?
NG: Listing it out…
- I will build a rental portfolio for myself in KCMO, my hometown
- Become a multimillionaire through real estate…use my success in real estate to create more streams of passive income
- Retire from my 9-5 through real estate
- Share my journey with others to inspire them to act on their own goals and dreams of investing in real estate
In 2022 specifically:
- Add 5 more doors to my portfolio
- Complete 3 more rehab projects
- Launch 6 Airbnb properties
- Build partnerships with others to scale, grow and learn
SSD: You mentioned the need to learn and unlearn as you’ve been going through this process, so let’s explore that a bit.
What do you think are the 3 biggest misconceptions people have about investing in real estate as you have?
NG: 1) [Thinking that] You need to have a lot of money to start. My first investment property, I was a newbie and wiped out my savings to take the leap. But with my two rehab properties, I leveraged hard money lenders and private money lenders. too. They required much less of my own money upfront.
2) [Believing] You need to have great credit. You can leverage the credit of others in different ways to bolster your own.
3) [Feeling] You need to be in the same place as where you invest. All of my investing has been outside of New York. I’ve invested in Georgia, Missouri, and Philadelphia while living in Brooklyn, NY.
SSD: Ok, what are the most valuable lessons that you’ve had to learn in order to grow in skill and confidence in real estate?
NG: The best time to start investing in real estate is now. Always be studying and applying what you study. It’s the only way to grow. Take imperfect action. Work on personal development and mindset. It is absolutely key to success and growth. Network with other investors…there are people out there that want to help you and to see you win. [You] Don’t have to be an island.
SSD: And what are the biggest things that you’ve personally had to un-learn to better prepare yourself for the work that you’ve taken on?
NG: I had to break from a scarcity mindset and from self-limiting beliefs about what I could do. I thought that being involved in real estate was so far from me…That I did not have enough money… That it was too complicated to do… That you have to be rich in order to buy property… That debt is bad (sometimes it’s necessary).
I was really proud of having an 821 credit score for instance. I had no debt and scoffed at the idea of using my credit cards. I even had a US Bank credit card with an $11k limit closed due to inactivity. I had to unlearn the idea of credit being a bad thing and that I could actually leverage OPM (other people’s money) to invest in real estate.
SSD: Switching gears again…
As a future owner of rental properties, what would you tell people are the core qualities you would look for in a tenant (or that you would want your management company to screen for)?
Haha – PLEASE NOTE: You can’t try to hold Nina to whatever is said here in the future. This is just an interview, not anything binding.
NG: Well, I plan to use Brandon Turner’s book on managing rentals to help me when that time comes. My first property already had tenants and I am still getting through my rehabs to find my first tenants. My main focus is to find Section 8 tenants to occupy my properties, so there are those screening requirements in place already. Then, I will use the information and instruction that is laid out for me in the book I mentioned on how to screen tenants, even more, to make sure I am doing my best to house the most reliable tenants I can.
SSD: What do you look for in a property that you add to your portfolio?
NG: For BRRRR (buy, rehab, rent, refinance, repeat) properties, the property needs to meet the 65% Rule. That basically means that the purchase price and rehab costs cannot exceed 65% of the after-repair value (ARV). My main interest is doing full rehab projects and so that is what I have been focusing on.
SSD: Ahhh – that’s what that refers to?! I’ve been following your Kansas City, MO BRRRR project, so I’m happy you spelled that out.
NG: This year, I hope to add more turnkey properties to my portfolio through creative financing. Turnkey properties are those that are move-in ready. My goal is to add 5 of those to my portfolio in 2022.
SSD: Nice! I see you, Nina!
Have you found that being Black adds another hurdle to your business dealings in real estate? Does it enhance the experience – or does it not really matter, and you’ve felt like you were getting the same treatment as everyone else? Tell us about that.
NG: I have not really experienced anything one way or the other. I think that is because most of my business dealings have been virtually and not in person. People have not seen me in our business dealings. I am sure, though, if they did, it would have some effect on things.
What I have seen in sharing my journey on my social media, is that people are encouraged and inspired. To be a woman, a Black woman, diving in and making it happen, compels others who look like me to also dive in and take action.
SSD: That’s dope to hear.
What’s a tip that you’d give someone who saw your social media stuff – was inspired and wanted to follow in your footsteps?
NG: The best time to take action on your dreams is now. Write down your goals, focus on them constantly, and determine the steps it takes to accomplish them. You will be successful if you persist.
SSD: What areas do you think need the most attention from real estate investors like yourself? Do you think there’s an underserved opportunity that’s being ignored by others investing in property and rehabbing them?
NG: I think investors could invest in inner-city neighborhoods more. Especially Black Investors — we could invest in the areas where we come from. We tend to think that there is no value in where we come from and try to search for other places. But, if we invest in our own communities, and make them beautiful like the places that we seek to go to, I think that could be an amazing thing. We need to see the beauty in our own places and work to make them what we desire them to be.
SSD: Last thing…
I noticed that you mentioned the word “journey” a few times and I’m curious how you’d describe your journey? What are you journeying from, and what are you journeying toward?
NG: I call my real estate path a journey because it is an experience of extreme faith. An adventure in something that I have always wanted to do, but didn’t think I could or [even] learn how to do it. It was something so big that I embarked on that when I purchased my first rental property, I did not tell my family for fear of them criticizing my decision.
I have been stretched beyond my comfort zone in lots of ways. Giving up my financial security to invest in my first rental property, for instance. When I ran into the problem of my first GC (General Contractor) of my Philadelphia project scamming me and attempting to sabotage my project, I had to exercise courage and faith to push through that to commit to figuring out how to finish in spite of that.
I feel like being a real estate investor requires faith and action, constantly moving past fear to take the next step in the process.