While I was sitting in an MBA finance course in 2016 where we were discussing the Efficient-Market Hypothesis, I quickly realized the odds of being able to consistently outperform the market were slim for professional investors and almost impossible for the average person. I’ve always wanted to achieve financial freedom early on in my career to give me the flexibility to spend my time doing whatever I’d like. My goal to get there was to maximize my earnings and invest in the market, but depending on who you talk to, or what you read, the average returns one should expect from the market over the next 20 years are in the 5%-9% range. Some quick math showed me that I needed to find an alternative investing strategy if I was ever going to have the ability to “retire early”.
I don’t remember how I landed on real estate, but I quickly found Bigger Pockets and was fascinated by their podcast. The earning potential and tax benefits seemed too good to be true! I had found the investment vehicle to achieve my goal! I spent over 18 months listening, reading, researching all types of investing strategies and was more than equipped to get started. However, I just couldn’t get myself to buy something…too many “what-ifs” were holding me back. Early in 2018, my wife and I took a trip with some close friends, and late one night we somehow got started on the topic of real estate. Our friends were in the same boat as us. They were eager and interested but also scared. Before we left home from that trip, the four of us decided we were going to do a deal together. If it went south, well, misery loves company, right?
We closed on our first deal in April 2018 – two single-family homes that were attached. One unit was turnkey and ready to go, but the other needed a full-remodel, which my buddy and I did ourselves every weekday evening and weekend for a month. We got both sides leased up, and we were off to the races! With young children at home, our wives made it clear that we wouldn’t be doing any more remodels on our own and made sure to factor that into our deal analysis going forward. Eighteen months later we were up to 14 doors. Both our families continued to grow during this time, and trying to manage family commitments, my W-2 job, and our new business venture was proving to be a bit harder than I imagined. Hiring a property manager helped tremendously, but I was still looking for something more passive with all the benefits of our active portfolio.
In late 2019, I was at a Central Ohio Investor Network (COIN) real estate meetup and heard Jim Pfeifer speak about real estate syndications, and I was immediately intrigued. Jim was gracious enough to have coffee with me and explain his investing strategy and how syndications fit in. That meeting led to a coffee with another one of the founding members of Left Field Investors, Steve Suh, and the more I learned from these two, the more interested I became. When asked if I would be interested in joining a more passive investing club that they were putting together, I was all in. Six months after joining this group, now known as Left Field Investors, I found myself joining a Tribevest group, which consists of nine individuals pooling money together and investing in syndications. After just two months into this endeavor, we have already invested in our first two deals. The most appealing things to me about passive real estate investing are the ability to easily diversify my portfolio by investing in other regions of the country and to invest in larger multi-family deals that I’m not able to do on my own. This, combined with the same tax benefits as active investing, is why passive real estate will become my primary investment strategy going forward.
I’d love to say that I would have started investing in real estate on my own, but I’m not sure I’d have any active portfolio today if I didn’t make the leap with friends. Had I not made that leap into active investing, I’m not sure I would have ever made it to a real estate meetup and even discovered the more passive route of syndications. I know for certain that it would have taken me many years to make the leap into syndications, but after joining Left Field Investors and surrounding myself with like-minded folks, it gave me immense courage to take the leap. And I’m so glad that I have. Strength in numbers is a very powerful thing, and in my experience, it’s been exactly what I needed to get over the hump. I cannot say enough about surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals to learn from and build confidence with. If you’re contemplating passive investing, you should join Left Field Investors and add our monthly meeting onto your calendar!
Brian Meyer lives in Dublin, Ohio with his wife and two young daughters. He began investing in real estate in 2018 and after building a small portfolio of single-family and small multi-family units, he realized he was looking for something more passive. After joining Left Field Investors in March 2020, he joined a Tribevest group (tribevest.com) and invested alongside eight others in his first two passive deals. Brian works a full-time W-2 job and has transitioned to real estate as his primary investment vehicle to fund retirement.
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