Ben Welch | Dan Mackin
107: BRRRRs in Baltimore with Will Bowman
When asked about what he does for a living, Will Bowman answers, “Professionally, I am three things.” Will is a management consultant (full time), a real estate agent, and a real estate investor. But that wasn’t always the case.
The advice given to many aspiring real estate investors is to find good deals and find someone with money to help fund those deals. If we were to put Will in this example, he would be the one with money to help fund the deal.
Initially, Will had no intention of ever investing in real estate. It wasn’t until his childhood friend, Austin Carrol (see Episode 53), approached him and introduced him to the business. What they quickly realized was how much they complimented each other’s strengths. From there, a partnership was born and they each have not looked back since.
Shortly thereafter, along with his partnership and working full time, Will began venturing out on his own and purchased his own rentals as well. Up to date, he has acquired a total of 14 units, and is almost out of corporate America. Going forward, he plans to invest in real estate full time, grow his real estate sales team, and become an even stronger organization.
Takeaways from our conversation with Will:
1) Stay in the zone. When purchasing (and occasionally selling) a property of any kind, make sure to do your diligence on the zoning of not only the property you are purchasing, but also the zoning of the neighboring in which you’re purchasing. Markets shift constantly, and cities have to keep up with the changes. One way they do this is by changing the zoning of certain areas. That means properties that haven’t been sold in a long time have a good chance that they do not have the same zoning as they once did. To save yourself the trouble in the future, always check the zoning of the property (and neighborhood) and plan accordingly.
Quick tip: When doing conversions or additions, this is another time to consider such a topic. Do not overlook code requirements and zoning limits. Making such structural changes to a property may increase your ROI, but it can also inhibit your available exit strategies.
2) Being your own general contractor. What this means is you, as the owner/landlord, take the role and responsibility of hiring subcontractors to complete jobs and tasks as a regular general contractor would. As Will notes, this line of work isn’t for everyone. It takes time, knowledge, and constant attention and communication. On the flip side, the experience can be very empowering and educational. So how can you be a successful general contractor for your properties? As per Will, figure what things cost. Develop your expertise and understanding of labor and materials. Secondly, hire out small tasks. Test your subcontractors with small jobs first and graduate them into larger and larger projects, similar to how your investments will probably go anyway (meaning, your first property probably won’t be a complete tear down). Progress your general contracting skills along with the intensity of your rehabs. And finally, manage and monitor your projects. Stay in constant contact with your subcontractors and take the time to physically visit the work site (or have someone visit the work site for you). Verify jobs are being done correctly, properly, and in a timely manner.
3) Nurturing partnerships. A big part of how Will go to where he is today is thanks to his partnership. Lucky for him, he was able to find someone who suited his strengths and compensated his weaknesses. However, partnerships are much more than that. At the end of the day, you’re dealing with another human being. That means human errors are bound to occur. Do not expect your partner to never make mistakes. That will only lead to disappointment and chaos. Rather, develop a culture of transparency and responsibility, both for yourself and one another. That is how you will mitigate issues and become successful long term.
4) Hospitality services on top of being a landlord. Will also runs an AirBNB unit in his basement. With this kind of investment, Will quickly learned that you aren’t simply managing a tenant, you are also operating a hospitality business. That means that along with the regular duties of maintaining and caring for a unit, you are also expected to deliver a satisfactory experience for your guests. However, with the right systems, most of the time, Will says, “You don’t even notice people are there.”
If Will could go back and talk to his 16 year old self, he’d tell him, “Thank you,” for the relationships that he’s nurtured and the personal responsibility that he’s developed over the years.
An unexpected benefit of real estate investing, Will said, was being able to be a part of a community, not just a market. And with that community, he’s built a lot of friendships that transcend real estate.
A piece of advice Will would tell his friends looking to get started in real estate would be to know your goal(s) and just get into the game. Build a surplus of capital, preserve that capital, and recuperate that capital as quickly as possible.
Will recommends establishing a Pro Account with Home Depot to not only get discounts, but have a better customer experience. This is especially helpful if you do (or are planning to do) a lot of renovations.
Will recommends reading Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight to help you find the strength to push through the challenges when times get tough.
If you’d like to get in touch with Will, follow him on Instagram @willbowman10 or contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Special thanks to our guest host for this episode, Sunitha Rao Feature episode coming soon!
And thank you to everyone that has reached out to us to connect them with our trusted real estate agents in their area! And congratulations to those who have even closed deals using our referrals! For those that didn’t know, we can help connect you with real estate investor friendly agents in your area to help you get started investing in real estate. We recently made some changes to our website that we believe will better suit you in your real estate investing needs. For more information, visit www.millennial-realestate.com and head over to the “Start Investing” Tab. Best wishes and see you in the next one!