A couple years ago Blake felt he was failing his family because his lending business started losing money with the credit crunch.
His response? Invest in real estate. He hustled big-time and bought 41 properties in 2 years and has over $100,000 per year cash flow (profit) from those investments. What’s cool is the side effect of all this activity — he’s built a million dollars equity in the process.
Learn in this interview how he found and financed these deals, and how he is helping his clients at his lending company Capital Concepts do the same thing.
Transcription by SpeechPad
Damon: Hey everyone. My name is Damon Janis, founder of Eyes On Investors, where we learn from successful real estate investors and we’re part of Lifestyles Unlimited, which is the education and mentor group for real estate investing.
A big welcome to my guest today, Blake Yarborough. Blake has been purchasing properties like crazy over the last year or two, actually about a couple of years. We’ll talk about that. I also want to mention that Blake is the owner of Capital Concepts, which is a Texas-based mortgage company. He provides lending services to real estate investors. Blake, welcome to Eyes On Investors.
Blake: Thanks for having me. I look forward to it.
Damon: Excellent. Thank you. We’re going to have a great conversation because I have a general idea of all the crazy activity you’ve been doing over the last while, and I want to know about it. I want to understand it. So let’s start by talking about how many properties do you currently own, and what have you been doing over the last couple of years?
Blake: Driving my wife nuts. Me and my wife, we’re a team. We do everything ourselves. It all started about two and a half years ago. At the end of ’08, I started buying some properties so that I would have some tax write-offs. ’08 was a good year.
Well, February of ’09 rolled around, and that’s when the Dow dropped down to about 6500. The sky is falling. The sky is falling. My mortgage company lost money that month, and being a husband and a daddy I figured I had to get out there and start bringing in some other sources of income.
Well, here I am. I’m supposed to be the finance expert when it comes to the finance and investment properties or a finance expert, and I’m making all these other people money. Why am I not making money myself?
Damon: Good question.
Blake: Exactly. So I bought these four properties between November and December ’08, roughly. February of ’09 hit. I bought another six properties between February and April of ’09. Things were tight. My wife, who had quit her dialysis job to raise our family, we started having two beautiful children. She was starting to brush off her resume, maybe have to go back to work.
I was like, oh, man, I’m failing [inaudible 02:29]. I haven’t provided for my family. Well, about 30 days later, this was in May, I was doing a refinance of all 10 of those properties, 12 doors. I had two duplexes in there, and she saw my net income, net of principal, taxes, and interest. It was going to be right at $5,000 a month. She was like, Blake, that’s what I would bring home if I was working.
Blake: So we went out there, and we bought another five properties, seven doors. We bought another two duplexes. We agreed to buy those in September, and it’s been going on ever since.
Damon: How many properties do you have now after all of this activity?
Blake: I’m currently sitting, actually just jumped from 41 properties, and we were 41 and 41 occupied, by the way, 100 percent occupancy. We’re talking now March, so it was less than two and a half years of buying properties.
My wife wanted me to sit on my hands a little bit during the holidays because she’s the one managing them and I’m buying them. We kind of cruised through the holidays. She kind of let me take off the reins or whatever, and I started buying again. I just recently closed on two more houses within the last, roughly, two weeks, and I’m in contract on four more houses that are supposed to close within the next few weeks.
So that’s going to kick me up to and one of these is a duplex. That’s going to be 13 duplexes. That’s going to be, I think, 47 rental properties. I’ve got one I’m buying to be a flip, which I’ve only done one other flip in the last three years. So that’s 48 plus my residence and my Bay house. I guess, if I want to push the envelope and sound like a big boy, I’ve got 50 different doors.
Damon: Fifty doors.
Blake: It’s all single family or duplexes.
Damon: Okay. Thirteen duplexes I think is what I heard you say, so the rest are single family?
Damon: Okay. Excellent. Well, that is a lot of buying and rehabbing and leasing activity over the last 30 months that you’ve been doing.
Damon: Let’s talk about how . . . probably the biggest question that’s on people’s minds that are listening right now is how did you get the financing to purchase all these properties?
Blake: I’ve been waiting for that question. You know, my niche is finance and investment properties. I buy every one of my properties, including my residence that I now live in and including my Bay house, with a hard money loan followed by refi.
Blake: Now, the one thing I’ve done a little bit different than the average fare is in ’09 I was buying so many properties so fast, and actually I was buying some other low income area properties, high cash flow properties. I could absorb the higher interest rate that comes with a commercial mortgage, when you get a six and a half rate instead of the Fannie Mae rates that are a point or a point and a half lower.
As I mentioned earlier, I refied those ten properties into what’s called blanket mortgages, where instead of having in my case all these different loans which it kind of gets to be a nightmare trying to keep track of every single one of them. What I like to do and I just got the confirmation today for another roughly $520,000 and two blanket loans, I think that’s a perfect example. I roll most of my mortgages, two or three properties each. The reason why I do that is so I don’t have some big humongous loan. Sorry, I was thinking of my three year old son when I said that because he goes, “humongous,” anyway, some big humongous loan. I have a bunch of $250,000 loans, give or take, that I can aggressively pay down and Dave Ramsey might say snowball.
Damon: You get one paid off, and then take the extra money and apply it to the next one.
Blake: Right. That’s just what I’ve done. Now, I’ve kind of stayed with my Fannie Mae loans. I only personally have two Fannie mortgages on my personal credit report.
Damon: An investor only can have up to ten Fannie Mae mortgages, right?
Blake: Ten, correct. A lot of loan officers don’t even know you can still go up to ten, because they listen to one rep at one company that might say, “No, we can’t do that.” Well, yeah, you can. It’s like the old Maytag repairman. You’ve got to know where to kick. It’s a constant battle because Fannie Mae will let you finance up to ten financed properties, but not every lender out there is selling that product.
Damon: I see.
Blake: Anyway, once again though, for all our clients, I recommend maximizing the leverage by using hard money loans and then doing an immediate refi as much as you can.
Damon: Okay. On the hard money loan, when you get into the hard money loan, you need to qualify at that point in time for the refi so you know you can get the refi. Is that right?
Blake: Right. I mean, things change, but we’re usually looking for certain credit and asset guidelines there and debt ratio.
Damon: How can somebody . . .
Blake: There’s no guarantee. I’m sorry. That still doesn’t guarantee what your credit’s going to be like in three months. If you have good credit and your debts are in line and you have the house rented out. The great thing about investment properties is a lot of people come to me, “Do I qualify?” Well, yeah, you do in many cases, because the great thing about investment property is they pay for themselves.
Blake: By that I mean, a $75,000 mortgage may be $750 a month. But if you rent it out for $1,000 with Fannie Mae, we can use 75 percent of gross rents and $750 to wash or cancel out that $750 payment. So it has zero net effect on your debt ratio.
Damon: Okay. So when you’re talking about debt ratio, you’re looking at how much income a person has and how much debt they have. If that gets beyond a certain amount, like there’s so much debt and the income is small, then they may say, look, we’re not going to lend you any more money. But if they’re investment property, that is actually adding to your income. So your debt ratio stays in balance. Am I understanding that?
Blake: You said add. I prefer the term offset that mortgage payment. It’s a little change in terminology, but it actually, to me, makes a . . .
Damon: Makes a difference.
Blake: Yeah, it does. One thing I want to point out about the technique that I use and that a lot of my investors use is when I was doing a presentation recently, I added up the moneys that I have invested through those first 41 properties, and it was roughly $196,000 to buy those 41 properties. But those numbers are skewed. There was one property that I was $55,000 almost $60,000 out of pocket.
Blake: There was another one that I was subject to that was about $20,000 because I went in there and totally redid the house. If you remove those, now we’re talking about $120,000 or $130,000 something out of pocket.
Damon: To buy 39 properties?
Blake: Right. But I now have $190,000 a year coming in net of maintenance. I’ve got to remove maintenance from that.
Damon: Okay. The second year it looks like I cleared six figures, just my second year in buying properties.
Damon: That’s great. Over $100,000 in income after all your expenses and everything else, the second year that you were doing this.
Blake: Right. I was still buying aggressively during that year. Even with those two properties that I had, roughly $80,000 or $70 something thousand out of pocket on the $196,000 . . . if I have $196,000 invested and I’ve got $190,000 coming in, that’s 96 percent cash on cash returns.
Blake: And maintenance coming in.
Damon: Right. That’s excellent. That’s a little better than one percent in a savings account or something like that at the bank.
Blake: Well, that doesn’t even take into account the depreciation, the equity capture. I bought it in a down market, so there’s appreciation, and there are many other reasons why we buy real estate.
Damon: Let’s talk about equity then. You’ve got this great cash flow coming in. You mentioned that what motivated you in the beginning to do this was you saw there were tax benefits from it, etc. Now your wife didn’t have to go out and get a job because the income from the investments was covering that. It sounds like it’s a lot more than that now than what she would have made if she got a job. But how much wealth have you actually created for yourself in equity, in capital gains?
Blake: You know, equity is a funny thing. What do you really value things? You’ve got book value. You’ve got a bunch of different reasons. Every house I bought, I bought with a hard money loan or a private money loan. That means I bought it roughly at 70 percent of the fix-up value.
Blake: I’m comfortable in saying I’ve created over a million dollars of net worth to my, well, net worth, sorry. It’s kind of a weird valuation. Some of my duplexes, I have eight duplexes about to be in a ninth duplex that a couple of years ago sold for $260,000. Now I’m buying them for a hundred and something, low hundred.
Damon: They may not still be worth $260,000.
Blake: It’s built in 2006. Is it worth $150,000, $120,000 or $200,000? What’s it worth? It’s kind of hard to really value that number. I can spit out a number, but I’m pretty confident I could back up a number I’ve just laid out there.
Damon: That’s great. That was done in about a two, two and a half year period of time.
Blake: That was done in two years. Now, for the last few months, I’ve been sitting on my hands. Now, I’m starting to go again.
Damon: The thing about you, Blake, is when you’re going, you’re dangerous because all you do is create more cash flow and more wealth, and you’re like unstoppable. Is your wife going to hold you back any more, or is she just going to let you go?
Blake: I really wish you wouldn’t have said, “Does my wife hold me back?” I will hear and get in trouble on that one. My wife is a big reason for my success.
Damon: We could cut this out of the interview, but you’ll have to bribe me for that one.
Blake: To make the biggest paradigm shift is I’ll probably always consider myself a finance guy, but I think I’m moving from a mortgage broker that buys real estate, that invests to an investor that owns a mortgage company. I think it really helps being able to wear that hat. That way there’s a lot of . . . a majority of people hadn’t bought what I bought in the last two years, so I think that’s safe to say.
Look, I’ve been there. I’ve seen what happens and what doesn’t happen. Here’s a roadmap. I can show you how I did it. I did it with my products. Follow me. You’re welcome to ask about investing during the process, and I’ll do everything I can to help them out.
Damon: That’s excellent. You’ve got so much experience in having done this. Let’s talk about a couple of things I’m really interested in. How are you finding properties is one area I want to talk about, and then how you lease the properties. I know your wife is doing more of the leasing, but let’s start with finding. How are you finding properties?
Blake: I may have bought about half of my properties through MLS. I’m a real estate broker, but I’ve had realtors send me stuff. Also, I buy properties from what’s called wholesalers, and these are people that essentially market direct to the sellers, tie it up, and then they always have to sell it where it fits hard money. These last six, every one of those except the one that I’m flipping, which is a neighbor, every one of those came from a wholesaler.
Blake: Now, at my point, critical mass may not be the right term, but I have credibility. One called me today. “Hey, Blake, I’ve got a deal coming up. Do you want it”? Well, I have something near by. I’ll take a look at it.
Blake: Now I get them thrown at me. The real difference there is . . . I mean, I’m just like everybody else. There’s a lot of people that make very good money, but the only thing that differentiates me with that is I took action. I made a decision, I went for it. I guarantee you not every deal was a perfect deal, and I didn’t do everything perfect. But I’ll take a lot of really good deals.
Damon: Sure, because in the aggregate, there’s this huge benefit even if . . .you don’t have to execute perfectly is what I’m hearing you say.
Blake: Right. I think I’m averaging right at, almost $400 per door.
Blake: Every one I buy is another car payment. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
Damon: Right. You have up to about 20 cars now. Is that what you’re saying?
Damon: Oh, another follow-up question on finding properties then. You have credibility now because you’ve proven to people who are selling, like if they’re wholesalers or real estate agents, that if they bring you a really good deal, you have the will and the ability to close and purchase it. What about when you were first starting out? How did you work with people in order to find good deals?
Blake: Well, when I was first starting out, I was mainly buying from MLS. I’m thinking of this one property, a guy with good credit, everything’s fine. He was moving to another neighborhood, and I bought it from him, gave him cash, bought it subject to the existing mortgage. Didn’t have to go get it financed.
Blake: I bought it subject to a seasoned 15-year note where I was in principal pay down. I probably wrote him a bigger check than I needed to, but you’ve got ways to finance properties like this. There’s a lot of other ways of finding property. Like I said, the wholesaler is buying subject to. There are people that buy tax foreclosures, tax aids and all that stuff.
I haven’t personally gotten into all that. I’ve just mainly stayed around, I bought a handful of subject to’s over the years. I currently only have one, and the reason I only have one it seems like I have to end up . . . because I like to fix up my houses so they’re really nice, being one of the nicest in the neighborhood.
For instance, that one is about $20,000 out of pocket. When I can finance something with hard money, I’d be $5,000 out of pocket, it might break even until I refi it. But that’s the big prize when you refi it and that’s equity capture. I don’t know if I answered your question.
Damon: You did. One other thing I wanted to ask you to help people who are listening to this and are starting out. What would you advise them to do? How should they get started? You have this map now. You’ve been successful over the last couple of years to do this. What would you say to somebody who wants to accomplish what you’ve done, but they’re looking at it from the beginning point, maybe even feeling overwhelmed. Wow, I don’t know if I can do this.
Blake: The only thing I could say is don’t get too hung up on paralysis by analysis. You need to get some basic information, build a good team. Buy property within 10 to 15 miles, hopefully, of where you live so it’s not too far out of the way. I have a couple that are too far away, and it’s not practical. Conversely, I have four in the same subdivision and section. Always buy with equity and cash flow.
Damon: What do you mean by that?
Blake: Well, in my opinion, I like to buy with equity because I like to close every one with hard money or private money loans.
Damon: When you say buy with equity, you mean make sure there’s a lot of equity built into the deal.
Damon: Okay. I see.
Blake: I’m sorry. For instance, a $60,000 house that needs $10,000 in repairs, and after $10,000 in repairs, it’s worth $100,000. A hard money loan can finance 100 percent of that $70,000.
Blake: They will lend 70 percent of the $100, 000. You needed 60 plus 10, 70. In that case, which is a typical case, typical property I buy, all you have to do is pay your closing cost out of pocket, roughly $5,000. You’re paying a high interest rate, but it ought to be breaking even or so until you refinance. We can do an immediate refinance into a Fannie Mae loan once it’s rehabbed and renting. That’s the equity portion that you said I mentioned.
Damon: I see.
Blake: Let me add to that. Some people come to me, “Hey, I’m buying and it has a lot of cash flow.” My fear about that is when you buy something with a lot of cash flow but no real equity, if you got in a financial burden and you had to turn around and sell that property, you would lose money.
Damon: Yeah, you’d be upside down.
Blake: Right. There are other some investors that invest in different things, but multifamily versus single family. One reason why I started off so aggressively with single family is there’s a liquidity function. It’s hard to say real estate. is a liquid. But there is liquidity that comes with houses versus some other types of real estate investment. If you get in a pinch and you have to have equity, boom, you could sell one and your family is safe. You’ll be able to provide.
Damon: My experience is that if you’re really in a pinch and you need to sell quickly, if you have enough equity, you could lower the price down to where you’re still making money off of it, but it may move very, very quickly.
Blake: There are so many topics right here. The other thing, if you buy it with equity and you’ve got a lot of cash flow, well, if the market dips, you’re still fine because you just living . . . that cash flow is what puts steaks on your table every night.
Blake: The equity doesn’t really feed you.
Damon: It’s just sitting there, and you really don’t benefit from it until you sell.
Blake: If the market dips, then there went all that equity you’ve been sitting on. On the other side of the coin, if you buy with substantial equity and you need to rent it and the market gets hard and we’re in a rental competition with our neighbors, well, if your neighbor bought this house at $100,000 and you bought it at $70,000 or $75,000, well you could drop your rent a couple hundred dollars lower than he can just to break even.
Blake: That’s a couple of my opinions, but I think they make a lot of sense.
Damon: It does make a lot of sense, because what you’re saying is if you go into it with really good equity and really good cash flow, you’re creating a buffer of safety for yourself.
Damon: Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. You mentioned that you haven’t done very many flips, and you’re doing one right now. Just briefly, can you give us an idea of why are you doing a flip on this particular deal where pretty much all of your other investments have been buy and hold
Blake: It’s pretty easy. I’m buying the house for $200,000, and I don’t plan on keeping that in a rental portfolio. I’m buying it for $200,000. I’m going to put about $50,000 into it and hopefully sell it at a little bit north of three.
Blake: You’ve got to take into account you’ve got your real estate sales cost. You’ve got my holding cost. There’s some risk in doing that. I wouldn’t mind having a little bit higher rentals, somewhere in the $100,000 to $150,000 range, personally. I might do something. I’ve got my high cash flow properties. I’ve got my duplexes that are relatively new. I wouldn’t mind having some decent, $150,000 houses and put them . . . maybe, because I’ve got such good cash flow, maybe, put them on a 15 year note and just have those with the bank.
Your real estate portfolio, when you get to a point, you need to start thinking about diversifying it. It’s kind of like a stock portfolio. You want your cash flow properties, and you want your appreciation place and everything in between. As one gentleman that owns ten times what I have, I was talking to him the other day. He was saying I need to diversify my areas because I’m mainly in the southwest side of town. Like he was saying, if a disaster came through there or whatever happens . . .
Damon: All of your properties would be affected.
Blake: Right. Touché. He’s a smart guy and I’ll think about that, but right now where my properties are, one neighborhood, one area, it’s within about six miles. The other is about eight to ten miles, and then I have some outliers that they don’t get the attention quite as much because they’re too far away from me.
Damon: Right. Well, a lot of people listening to this are thinking, well, Blake, maybe, you’re not as diversified as you want to be in the future, but you’re still a lot further along than where I’m at. I want to be you.
Blake: I’ll buy some more.
Damon: Yeah. Your story is very inspiring, Blake, and it’s been really good to find out what you’ve done and how you’ve done this. If anybody wants to get in touch with you, how can they reach you? What’s the best way to get a hold of you?
Blake: There are multiple ways to get a hold of me. First and foremost, this is my phone number toll-free is 877-651-9500.
Blake: The other is you can visit me online at 4SmartMoney.com.
Damon: All right. Excellent. If you have any mortgage questions or you want to understand Blake’s map and follow his map, go ahead and get in touch with him. I’m sure he will be happy to talk with you, right?
Blake: Absolutely. I try to get everybody else to do all of the hard work, so I can battle a little bit.
Damon: Well, I’ll say this, from Damon personally to you, Blake, I want to be like you. I wish I had all the investments you have. I haven’t been as busy as you the last couple years, but I’m aspiring to it. You’re inspiring me.
Blake: Well, the only thing that I’ve done differently than you is take action. Just start buying and I just turned into a buying machine, because once you get past the first couple, this stuff is really not that hard. Does the numbers work? Is the area near you? You get used to renting properties out, and it’s really not difficult at all. It’s pretty simple.
Damon: Pretty straightforward. Well, that’s exactly what I need to do, and I think a lot of the people listening in, we just need to get out there and take action and we’ll be successful like you. Thanks for your time, Blake, today and talking to me. This has been really helpful, really inspirational. I appreciate it.
Blake: Wonderful. I appreciate it, Damon. Thank you very much.
Damon: Thank you. Take care. Bye-bye.