In this episode of Cash Flow Pro, we talk with Lane Kawaoka, Founder of Simple Passive Cash Flow. Lane started investing back in 2009. Eventually, he decided to invest in syndications that invest in Class C & B Multi-Family Apartment, RV Parks, mobile...
In this episode of Cash Flow Pro, we talk with Lane Kawaoka, Founder of Simple Passive Cash Flow. Lane started investing back in 2009. Eventually, he decided to invest in syndications that invest in Class C & B Multi-Family Apartment, RV Parks, mobile homes and assisted living facilities because of this Nation’s demand for affordable housing. Now, he has acquired 8000 rentals and 1.1 $1.2 billion assets of ownership.
Through his journey, he realized the need for trustworthy and accessible real estate education – creating simplepassivecashflow.com. He aims to help the hard-working middle-class build actual asset portfolios by providing free investing education, podcasts, and networking, plus access to investment opportunities not offered to the public.
In this episode, we discuss:
If you are interested in staying away from some of the real estate BS that keeps you from your goals, this episode is for you!
As always, do not forget to like and subscribe!
Find your flow,
Resources mentioned in this podcast:
Casey Brown 0:06
Hey there and welcome to today's episode of cash flow Pro, your daily real estate investing podcast and YouTube channel. Now as my listeners are very well aware, I try to do names as very best as I can. But today I have Elaine kava Oka. Did I get that right? Yes, yes. All right. It's simple passive cash flow.com. He's going to talk with us a little bit about his areas of expertise. We were just chatting a little bit before the show about what we should talk about. And I told him that my audience likes to hear about capital raising, they like to hear about stories about capital, raising stories about making passive income, planting the seeds of passive income, whatever that kind of stuff is. So Blaine, welcome to the show. We'd like to hear a little bit more about where you come from how you got here, but welcome.
Unknown Speaker 0:59
Yeah, thanks for having me. Today on over 8000 rentals. Oh, wow. 1.1 $1.2 billion assets of ownership. But it didn't always start off like that, right. I mean, I bought my first rental 2009. At that time, I was still working as an engineer, just saving my money saving like 5080 grand a year to just pour into rental properties. And that was kind of my life in 2009 to 2015. And when I had 11 of those little turnkey rentals scattered across the country with three different property managers, I realized that little rental properties are kind of a pain in the butt. And I decided to invest passively in syndications. And that was kind of the pivot point, I'd say.
Casey Brown 1:48
Sure, sure. So rather than having the hassle of, of, I guess, were you maintaining all of those yourself? You said,
Unknown Speaker 1:57
Well, I had a property management companies. Yeah, I don't have time for that stuff. Right. I mean, that's, that's kind of the life of like the working professional like, to me, I think if you're making more than 6080 grand a year, you really shouldn't be screwing around flipping houses doing like the physical work yourself, or even playing property manager, just not a good, highest and best use for your time.
Casey Brown 2:20
Yep, I agree with that. 100%. I couldn't agree with that more, actually. Because you're basically taken, you're basically taking yourself and doing something that's a $40 an hour job, when you could be making far more per hour if you were looking at it at a per hour basis than you would with that. And so I know right now, there seems to be a shortage of those workforce kind of folks to get stuff done. But But still, I agree with you. 100%. So what, let's talk a little bit so so so your first kind of syndication or your first kind of deal? Did it come from? Along in like, 2015 2016? Is that right? Did I did I get that? Right? Yeah, that's That's correct. Okay, and what was your first deal? And how did it how did that kind of become something that now did you syndicate that?
Unknown Speaker 3:13
Well, it's actually in the beginning, I was just investing as a passive
Casey Brown 3:18
into syndications. Yeah,
Unknown Speaker 3:20
I mean, I was going around at that time looking for deals, doing everything they tell you supposed to do. That's kind of a waste of time, like, go out and talk to all these like broke brokers and like who are kind of on the lower end of the food chain, in terms of the broker world, build relationships with them, take him chocolates, try and take them to lunch. That was kind of the grind for about, I would say, like 18 months to two years. And I think this Yeah, this kind of started 2015. And then 2016, I just kind of realized, while I wasn't really getting anywhere, as most people are, I will say like, more than less than 5% of people who actually do this for consistently for a couple of years actually get anywhere doing this type of stuff. Because from a broker's perspective, giving somebody a deal is just silly. You got to give it you got to feed your best clients, your top 1% clients who actually close if you haven't closed the deal, it's gonna be very hard for them to send you a deal. Unless you just happen to be top of mind and you don't kind of bang bang on their door for two years. And they kind of like you and when they want to give you a chance. So you know that that was kind of the grind and I was kind of realizing I wasn't getting anywhere fast. So I was like, Well, let me let me at least go into some deals as a pastor because I had money, you know, piling up for my day job and I had like these rentals that I just really didn't want to own any more than I was trying to sell off a little bit. So I had to go into deals to get the bonus depreciation and offset the capital gain and depreciation recapture from my rental properties. Yeah, so and I was kind of like, well, I don't own any rental properties, I can't even use the old like trick or rudess, you know, if I'm a passive investor to say I'm older, you know, so I just decided to, you know, just go and as LP and and in hindsight, it was kind of a good idea, because you gave me like, the ability to see from the other side of the perspective, right, being a passive investor, what are the kinds of things that I like to see on reports? You know, what are, you know, just, if not, you know, I mean, it's, it's, I think that empathy is very important to be able to be on that other side of the table.
Casey Brown 5:37
Sure, sure. Yeah, and it's an idea for, for, for both the operational side, as well as the marketing side, like, what what types of marketing Were you really responding to, gives you good insight into into the demographic that you were coming from, like an engineer, for instance, and engineers, actually one of the one of my avatars, but coming from an engineering standpoint, it lets you know, it gives you an idea of what you responded to, to get to where you were, and then from the operational standpoint, saying, hey, so and so may not really care, I don't care so much about these numbers. But hey, this is really what I'm looking at. And then it gives you an idea to really kind of bolster those numbers when it comes time to report to the people that invest with you, right.
Unknown Speaker 6:27
Yeah, I mean, at the end of the day, 95% of the questions and even, I'd say 99% of my questions are is like, alright, I don't give a rip, what the property's doing. What's going on in my distribution? Am I going to be getting it? Or is it be higher or lower? That's what people care, right? I mean, especially people who are in more than a dozen deals that actually, you know, don't have any time to disburse one or two properties.
Casey Brown 6:51
Yeah. Yeah, well, it gives you an opportunity to get into a couple of different deals. Well, and just like our fund to funds that we have, it's, it gives you an idea, it gives you a way to diversify as well, I mean, then, you know, what, what points to diversify off of, you know, what I'm saying? Whether it be geography or whether it be operator, whether it be whatever the case is, it lets you diversify, whatever makes you feel the most comfortable.
Unknown Speaker 7:19
Yeah, and, you know, also like, you can go into different asset classes, and, you know, you can you build your own portfolio that way, as a passive investor. Yeah. And, yeah, you know, exactly what you're saying to on the front end, right. On the marketing side. I mean, as a passive investor, you just see so many deals out there, and so many ways, it's marketed, it's funny, because everybody kind of uses the same, you know, three circle thing. And I don't know where that came from back in 2017. But, you know, it's like, all that marketing doesn't really mean anything. At the end of the show,
Casey Brown 7:53
show me something about show me something of sustenance,
Unknown Speaker 7:58
show me something, they never give p&l surrounding roles, you never get any of that raw data as a passive investor, you just get the projections at the end. And you don't even really get the assumptions like with a reversion cap rate, right pieces per year, that type of stuff that assumptions got us to get to those numbers at the end of the day. So, you know, as I think, as a passive investor, I kind of realized this early on, I was like, Well, I just got to build relationships with other passive investors to figure out well, who's the CIT here? Because all this PDF is to our webinar means nothing. It's just a marketing pitch. And yeah, yeah, I mean, it took me a long time to invest even as a passive that was just
Casey Brown 8:42
so it took you a long time to invest as a passive, but at the end of the day, did you learn anything from those other things that from the marketing stuff that that led you to, at the end actually say, Hey, this is my horse, or this is my guy, or this is my lady I'm going to invest with?
Unknown Speaker 9:01
Yeah, I mean, I think I think I realized what everybody's a really good marketer, right? You just go on Fiverr and get the same like Filipino VA to make up, you know, and it's not, it's not that hard to like, show all the good thing says, you know, not show any of the bad things. That's right, I realize that, well, I just had to go find passive investors that have infested with these people in the past, build organic relationships with these people, and then try and kind of weaseled my way into getting the real scoops of people. And after a while, it was kind of like, well, I figured out who were the good people who were the kind of people who are newbies or people potentially to stay away from. And at some point, I was kind of like, well, I think I'll pass investors get that right. You just have to kind of take that leap of faith with the jockeys, the operators that kind of have a decent track record, at least aren't going to steal your money right to at least eliminate Ain't that counterparty risk of somebody just taking your money and going off to Mexico. And hopefully you can also eliminate the risk that you're just investing with an incompetent person, not just somebody, just because somebody's had a full cycle deal that has gotten successful, I mean, doesn't mean that they're competent. Yeah, I guess it sort of eliminates the fact that they're honest. And you know, that at least not going to fuel your bunny and right. Yeah, that's for sure. They're trying to build a sustainable business with, you know, people, friends of friends telling friends of friends about you. But, yeah, I mean, I think that's the biggest thing, like, in this world, like, I mean, these real estate deals, they kind of run themselves, if you write the right one, it's more or you work with the honest person and cross your fingers that they're competent.
Casey Brown 10:51
Yeah. That's exactly right. Or cross your fingers that yeah, that, that they know. Like, you know, the biggest My biggest problem with the way the market is right now, or has been is, is, these guys that are underwriting rent increases. And don't get me wrong, I feel like you can justify some of that. And you can justify that being a part of your plan. But when you go in, and you're looking at the underwriting today as the asset sets, and it really looks good, and yet, and then you say okay, well 80% of our approach is going to be we're going to increase the rents and then 20% of our approach is we're going to add a couple of vending machines and some covered parking, I'm just going to use this as an example. But but when you start looking at saying, okay, hey, the bulk of our, the bulk of our asset increase our asset value increase is, is based off of the fact that now we're going to be charging this rent instead of this rent. Man, I really got a problem with that. And some of these guys I think, are going to ultimately be proven to be bozos at the end. Because there's, you know, in America anyway, and maybe everywhere in the world, we have a tendency to when something's working to everybody pile on. And it's that theory of saying, okay, multifamily housing is really where it's at, well, then what happens in 10 years, we're way over built on stuff, it's just like anything else. And when you get over built, you know, a lot of those people, that stuff tends to kind of balance itself out. So, no, I agree with you. And now what what are some things that you look for in a deal? Like, go back to yourself in 2015 16? What were some of the very specific things that you looked for or questions you asked to, you said you built an organic relationship with people that had been in other deals passively, so that you could kind of start filling out who the best operators were, what were some of the things that you were looking for?
Unknown Speaker 12:58
Well, I mean, I I luckily was able to underwrite deals take p&l growth to the to the model, which I would say 99% of processors are not able to do but I mean, going back to what you're saying about like the Redmond pieces big kind of fudge to me. There are three or four major like knobs to turn or levers that turn on that underwriting spreadsheet it's the rent increases expenses you can it's kind of hard to fudge that but like the reversion cap rate and the rate increases per year, you know, those rate increases per year and the cat and the reversing cap rate that's very easy to identify and call out as like, what do you guys do a you guys are being like, not conservative because you're being aggressive. But that read comps is always the hardest thing especially for passive investors even for like sophisticated underwriters to be able to, to kind of call out and say well, that's like getting overheated there or not. And I think that's that's from somebody who's trying to sneak it pass some investors or sneak it past like more of an elder source, or like an approval source. It's the rent increases for you is always going to be the hard one to verify. I mean passive investors or sophisticated investors could go around and knock on doors and tour other comparables in the area. If there's comparables you know maybe if I mean if you're not in Dallas or Houston are where there's a lot of saturation and a lot of comparables and like a one mile radius since can be tough. But yeah, unless you walk those other properties and walk that property you're not going to get a sense of like pictures from the outside the pictures on all these two three star properties all look alike, but like being able to like walk those other properties and sure they're all like 1984 1988 Vintage but you don't know anything that's happening in the in the Prop You don't know if they've renovated interior units or done some exterior improvements? And you certainly don't know what their balance sheet and p&l is. Right. So any, you know, I mean, you maybe you could figure out what their occupancy is, by going in there and walking in there. But like, you just don't know, and trying to use that, to verify what the operators comparable rents are. It's just not. It's
Casey Brown 15:28
not enough. I'm telling you, and and some of these marketing packages. Yeah, man, I mean, you know, I don't know, I just, I don't know, I'm fearful for what could potentially. And the fact of the matter is, is that some of this stuff, some of these, some of these marketing packages are outweighing the fact that something only has a three and a half or 4% cap rate. And, and while I get the, the cap rates have compressed and things aren't near as as you know, as, as lot as fun or as, as great as they once were, you know, you just have to be careful because you don't want to set your expectations here. And as an operator or a syndicator or sponsor, whatever you want to call it. set their expectations here and then only perform here because then all you end up with is everybody's pissed off and, and nobody's made any money and and everybody's just kind of walking around looking at one another and so so yeah, there's definitely some dangers in that now. When you what was so you when you invested passively. Now we want to talk a little bit about your you're in the you're actively doing syndications. Right. Yeah. Yeah. What was your first syndication that you did? And how did that go? And where did you raise the money for the equity to start with on that deal?
Unknown Speaker 16:58
Um, I think the first ones I can't remember what the first deals was done over 50 of my cat. I think the first few all heroes at the same time to the stacked each other, which is probably not a good idea to do you probably want to do a concentrated focus effort.
Casey Brown 17:18
Sure, sure. Yeah.
Unknown Speaker 17:19
But I think what it was like the, I mean, the first investors were friends and family, but already had like a pretty big audience, following me and trusted me because prior to doing all this, I was kind of teaching people how to buy little turnkey rentals, little little rental property. So I kind of saw there was a track record there with that. And I just had the personal realization that that stuff kind of sucked. And I was personally going into these syndications myself later. So that was kind of where, you know, people eventually followed me for that first ones. I mean, yeah, it was, it was, I guess, I wouldn't say any of my family. None of my family do this. But I found all my family are comparable money to do this stuff. You know, they're more rule followers and invest in a four way K type of stuff. But yeah, definitely like that, those friends that, you know, I initially fell back in, I think, when I really started to interact with people back in 2014, and 15, on the internet. And then I met a lot of these people in real life. And they, you know, they just kind of invested alongside as I went into stuff personally. Then it kind of just expanded from there. I mean, I think the first one of the more vivid ones I remember was like, the capital raise was like, 1.1 million, and it was just like, it was just a real struggle to get there. And, and I looked back, and I was like, wow, there are like, that, man, we really struggled to get there. Like some guys at 25 grand, you know, most like 50 It's just, it was a grind. And it took a while. And yeah, I mean, it's easy, but like, I mean, that that was kind of make or break time, I guess.
Casey Brown 19:14
Yeah. Now what Where were you when you first opened up to a C? I'm assuming 506 C, right.
Unknown Speaker 19:22
With a credit. That was all BS. Okay.
Casey Brown 19:25
All right. So so what when you said people were coming in 25 and $50,000? Where were your where were they come in? Were those folks that had been watching you were following you or had been learning from you for a while?
Unknown Speaker 19:39
I hope so. I mean, further on good. I think it was a lot of like, kind of I knew I knew just personally there they weren't family. They were more like kind of investor colleagues for a while. Yeah, pretty much just wasn't so you know, fake it to make it type of new guy just cool. Just didn't own any rentals that just decided that they could buy a 500 unit apartment complex in a few months, you know, because they just do it at home.
Casey Brown 20:10
Yeah, yeah. Have you? Have you stuck with the 506? B since then?
Unknown Speaker 20:16
Yeah. I mean, that's kind of the vision. I mean, I stuck with her for quite a while. That was the vision, like, I want to know all my investors. Personally, I don't want to just Halle Berry and go out there genuinely solicit for just random people out there. Because when you do that, you get read the people. And yeah, I have a big like, No aihole policy. I mean, the way I see this is a partnership. Sure, the passive investor doesn't really have our key management ability. But we need your capital. So to we can do what we want to do it, you're getting above market rates for your returns in terms of returns, we didn't do as much as you need us. And what I don't want is some people have this thought process and passive investors have this thought process that we are the client and you are slave, then I don't see it that way. Like, yeah, I think people are respect. And I would expect the same respect on the other side. That's just a
Casey Brown 21:22
big misconception. I think there's a big misconception in this world, the same way with real estate agents, you know, people that that, that stomp on you, or that wants you to send them deals. And then, you know, you found out they screwed up on one deal, that, that you didn't you know, and then you're like, Well, hey, forget it, man. I'll send my deals with somebody else. You know, everybody wants a deal. So you had your chance, you screwed me now it's over. And so it's the same difference. People just and I think that's some what I call, I don't know, there's a big box store. I think we all familiar with that, that put customer service over and above everything else on the planet. And I think some of that has bled into the business world where now all of a sudden, somebody makes an investment. And they think, Well, yeah, man, you're gonna do whatever the hell I say you're gonna do, because I'm invested with you, Hey, listen, new, nope, I don't know. And this is not the way it's gonna work. You know, you don't want to be controlled, but the same time you want to, you want to have enough control to make sure that the investment is successful.
Unknown Speaker 22:35
Right? This the same, you know, I think it's apples, maybe where they're like, Oh, you don't like the shoe, you can return it back the same example. So this is not an institutional company here. That's not what I wanted to do. And at the same time, you know, we're not going to cater to every single little mini eat of yours. But at the same time, we're not going to like, you know, make the splits like this and completely dilute you out, like third of the way through the deal, right. Like, that's not the kind of splits and hurdles that we do. What I keep people waiting for the long term. But that's what institutional operators do. And you know, what dammit, the institutional operators who have more than three, four or $5 billion dollars of assets under ownership, they deserve that track record. Right?
Casey Brown 23:23
I mean, yeah, yeah. And if but the thing is, is that when somebody comes to you, if you're looking for institutional stuff like that, then go to institutional people don't come to you and I,
Unknown Speaker 23:37
but, but some people want, some people want, like, they want somebody who's been around for 20 years that has done 400 deals, and they want that, like, white glove service, like, well, you're not gonna get that, you know, that's just not, it's just,
Casey Brown 23:55
but at the same time, and I think you'll agree with me when white glove service is costing somebody somewhere something, and most likely it's costing the end user something. So we either have returns that are here, and you all we operate, or we have returns that are here, and I'll do whatever the hell you want me to do. But you have to understand there's a delta between the two.
Unknown Speaker 24:18
Right? Like, you know, that's like the scope, schedule, budget triangle, right? Or like a bunch of contracts you want, you want to check, you want either one at fast, cheap or high quality, you can't have all three, but I think that's where some of these investors are just new or they've got like a distorted viewpoint that they think they can handle all of it. I just don't do just, yeah, I just want to work with good people that are cool to hang out. And you know, we'll do you know, some some events where we meet people in person and hang out like, I don't want those kinds of people who, you know, they want the high returns. They want the white glove service, and they want everything too,
Casey Brown 25:00
yeah, yeah. Yeah. And it's it does. And a lot of times, you know, it's a turn off when people voice that opinion. But at the same time, you know, there's, I was working with a guy, we were way back my post, right my first job post college, I was working with a guy, and we were, we were in a in a brokerage business and, and he said, he looked at me and he said, you know, he said, If somebody if you know, somebody's a headache, and it's going to be a bad deal, before you ever even do anything with them, he said, There's way too many good deals out there to fool with a bad deal, just forgive them, even though they'll buy something, and you'll make a little bit, they don't want you to make anything, just put them to the side and move on. And that's something to me, there's something to be said about that in every in every aspect of business, you know, troublesome people become, become a liability at some point. And you have to decide, being able to your profitability, a lot of times, it's going to be determined by how quick you can you can separate those people and move on, you know,
Unknown Speaker 26:06
that the whole 8020 Right. But I would, I would argue that maybe it's more like 55% 95% and 5%, agree to pull out there give you pick up a lot of problems. I mean, I would say like over the years, like, especially when we went over like $500 million assets under ownership, like we definitely kind of, you know, the principles definitely took ourselves out of the business day to day business. Or, you know, like a lot of Investor Relations is dug by staff. And maybe, I'd say maybe five 10% of those questions that aren't the average questions on all deals, get filtered off to the top, and maybe I have to chime in with something, the way I see it, it's like I need to kind of teach and train and educate my stuff on those small questions that do come through. Sure. Whereas at that point, like the problems are, are done by staff, right. And I think that's just like the management of properties, they realize that, you know, there are a lot of professionals out there who have been a property manager for 1020 years to have maybe even created their own property management company, or worked for big private equity firms that are much better at operations than we are. And this is kind of where, you know, we've started to really scale past doing like a deal every single month. Which is really kind of where we hit the growth stage, you need to get yourself out of the business and hire other professionals that are much better now.
Casey Brown 27:44
Yeah, and that's, that's, you know, that's almost hiring to your, I don't wanna say your weakness, but that's hiring to your needs. By being able to say, Hey, this is more than I can do on my own, or more than more than what I currently have can do, let's get, let's let's make sure that we do keep the you don't want to do a minimum amount of service. But you also don't have want to want to have the service part of it become a liability, to the extent that it's that it that it eats into your profitability, or your returns for your investors. So all of that makes perfect sense, man. So I don't know that I really liked the way you've got things set up. How many, how many? Active? I guess it'll say, how many active investors do you all have right now, as a company?
Unknown Speaker 28:32
I would say, I'll be getting above 700 or 800. Wow. So it's, I mean, the beginning, I would like, say, Well, yeah, you know, it was like less than 200. It was like, Yeah, let's, let's talk and let's interact at least once a year, you know, let me know how things are going, you know, what's coming down the pipeline. But obviously, with that many it's just not
Casey Brown 28:56
Unknown Speaker 28:58
Three calls every single day?
Casey Brown 29:01
Yeah, well, I'm sure the people that have come down the the line that say your first two thirds of your investors, like let's say you have 900 investors just for rounding purposes, you're you're the first 600 in that line, have been in your deals, they know what to expect. They know what they're going to get. They know when their checks come and they know a lot of different things. They know where to look in the statements for those things that you and I were talking about early on in the conversation. So there's, there's, they don't want to be bothered with the call just as much as you don't want to be bothered with the call. They just want to know when they're gonna get their check. And then you've got that back part. That's probably still learning the, the path. And again, once you create those systems and people know what to expect you, you know, I always say my kids, my kids don't ever they act up 90% of the time when you throw a wrench in things. All right. Hey, we wake up in the morning. We're gonna go here, here, here, here. You're and we're going to end up here. Great. We get to the second stop, and all of a sudden, now we're shooting over here to do something else that they didn't expect everybody loses their damn minds. And and it's the same way with any business, any system, anything, keep things, you know, know that when you pull one thing out, man, you may not think you guys gonna notice it but they won't. So if people know what to expect to know when to expect it, you virtually will run a problem free business. As far as that that side of it goes, and I don't want to act like everything's problem free. But I guess I hope you understand what I'm saying. So anyway. All right, Lane, we've got a couple of questions we're getting towards the end of the episode. We've got a couple of questions that we ask everybody that comes on the show, there's no right or wrong answer. But what is the best book that you have read in the past or are currently reading?
Unknown Speaker 30:54
I'd say Millionaire Real Estate Investor by Gary Keller, I'd say that's a great, great book to kind of get started a lot of real estate fundamentals. I mean, I'm not a big fan of books, but I think once somebody reads that book, they're kind of critical and just shirt doing it.
Casey Brown 31:14
Sure. Yeah, just get in and go. Alright, what is a dream vacation that you have either taken or hoped to take?
Unknown Speaker 31:24
I like to do like some kind of European riverboat thing, that kind of sense. But the one thing I don't like about vacation was like, all my stuff around so maybe that's what Oh,
Casey Brown 31:36
I gotcha. I gotcha, good. Well, listen, if somebody heard something that resonated with them, or they think they want to reach out and get in touch, what's the best way for somebody to do that?
Unknown Speaker 31:47
Yeah, they can reach out at Elaine at simple passive cash flow.com
Casey Brown 31:51
Simple passive cash flow. You can't get any easier than that. So Well, listen, Elaine, thank you so much for taking the time to be with us today. And, and listeners, I want to encourage you to please go and leave us a five star good review so that the next listeners can really know and understand what we're about here. And we just we look forward to it. And we're always thankful for everybody that listens and line. We're also thankful for you, again, taking the time out of your day to be with us. So hope everybody has a wonderful rest of the day, Elaine, thank you. All right.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai