Jerry Plake: “Put the pen in your hand and sign…”

Jerry Plake Successful Real Estate Investor

10 years ago Jerry looked at his good IT job. Then his 401k. After 15 years it wasn’t much and projecting out another 15 he realized it would fail him.

So he smartly chose to invest in real estate. Now after 10 years he’s got $9,000 income and $800,000 equity.

For fun and to help other investors he started Start2Finish which rehabs investment properties in the Dallas area.

In this interview Jerry tells how he gets financing (hint: local banks) and get great deals (another hint: partner and cash purchases).

Isn’t this great what Jerry said in the interview…

“Put the pen in your hand and sign, sign that document. You may be shaking when you sign it. Do it and you’ll see it work.”

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Damon: Hi everybody. My name is Damon Janis. I founded Eyes on Investors, where we learn from successful real estate investors. We’re part of Lifestyles Unlimited, which is the education and mentor group for real estate investing. I want to give a big welcome to my guest today, Jerry Plake. Jerry has been investing for about ten years, and he’s got some really great experience. He also has done a bunch of rehabs and owns a rehab company. We’ll be talking about that too. Welcome to Eyes on Investors, Jerry. It’s really good to have you today.

Jerry: Thank you, Damon. I’m glad to be here. I’m excited about talking about real estate.

Damon: I can tell from our pre-interview discussion that you’re very passionate about it and very interested in it. I’m looking forward to hearing what you have to say. I want to just set the stage for how much experience you have and what you’ve done. How long have you been investing in real estate?

Jerry: Almost ten years. Or nine and a half to ten years.

Damon: You’re up in the Dallas area. Is that right?

Jerry: Yeah, I live in Fort Worth. We work all over Dallas. I do most of my investing close by, that way I can watch property when I need to be here. That’s a good point there, find a market which you’re comfortable in and stay in that market because that way you know it. Then when you see a deal, you don’t have to go running around to for an hour drive. You already know ZIPs, you know the ARVs, and you can make a deal pretty quick. You can do it on the phone if you want.

Damon: Knowing your market area helps you make decisions faster and probably better decisions too, is what you’re saying?

Jerry: Yes.

Damon: How many properties have you bought and sold over the last ten years, just a general number?

Jerry: I was thinking about that this morning. Probably I think 35 or 40.

Damon: Wow.

Jerry: Owned and/or turned or had them for a while and sold them or just bought them with the intention of selling them later. Just fix them up, because at the time it was a lot easier than it is today but it was a better market. I did some of that for a while, in between buying for rental.

Damon: Are most of the properties that you’ve purchased single family properties and you’ve rented them out?

Jerry: Yes. That creates cash flow and the income, the lifestyle I talked about, which we just briefly talked about. If you flip something, then you’ve got to keep doing it. With rental income, you can get a steady cash flow, and then that gives you the path to financial freedom.

Damon: Right. If you’re flipping houses, you have to keep working and working to get that money coming in, whereas if you buy and hold and rent it out, then you get that passive income stream. You still have to get tenants in there and everything, but then they start paying the rent and it comes in and it’s a much more passive activity than flipping is.

Jerry: I think that’s why Lifestyles is successful at what they do because that’s their model. You buy and hold. Especially if you’re younger, your strategy should be long term as far as don’t try to make a quick dollar. Be in it for the long haul and then over time, because of all the equity build up, people paying off their mortgages and cash flow, all those things make it worthwhile to hold.

Not to say that you can’t flip because that’s capital. That’s why a lot of people do it. That’s why I do it. If I can make $10,000 on a deal, I’m making end up making $10,000 but it’s a lot of work and then you have to do it over again.

Damon: But if you need capital in order to buy more properties, that is a viable and a good way to build up some capital so that you can go do buy and hold.

Jerry: I guess. [inaudible 04:17]. There are only certain markets that are good for flipping. It’s a harder thing to do. More risky, I should say. It’s a risk to get your money back on it.

Damon: Right, right. Yeah, good caution. Let’s talk about how you got started in real estate investing. What was it that was the initial thing that triggered your interest in real estate investing? Why did you start?

Jerry: I guess a couple things. At the time, I was working at General Dynamics in IT. I just kept looking at my check. It wasn’t looking too good. It just wasn’t meeting my financial goals. I had a 401K and I put in 10%, the max. I think I was in it for 15 years and the dollar-day averaging or whatever they do, it affected my account; maybe just mine and a lot of other people’s. But I didn’t know. When I was seeing charts, I didn’t see where I was going to get to where I needed to get. The money was growing drowning. It’s been 15 years. This thing should at least double and it didn’t.

That’s when I decided I need to do something different. I always had an idea I wanted to do something as far as . . . it was pretty common sense in theory because I could see it so easily, the value in it. It was just a matter of getting veered off.

Damon: That’s interesting. What really encouraged you to move into real estate investing was that your retirement account was not performing the way you wanted it to. I guess as you looked into the future you’re saying, “This isn’t really going to be adequate for my needs. I need to figure out something else.” You looked at real estate as an avenue to be able to solve that problem.

Jerry: Yeah. [inaudible 06:44]

Damon: How did you go buy that first house? How did you find it? How did you figure out whether you should buy it or not?

Jerry: Let me pull back into the memory bank. I knew some of the areas I might would work, close to where I lived actually, in Crowley. At the time, I was in Crowley, in South Fort Worth. Houses were reasonable, so I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t buying a $200,000 home to rent. I read a couple books. I went to very few seminars. I kind of winged it, which I don’t recommend.

I kind of learned as I went. I just started driving around the neighborhoods. Of course, gas was only $1 a gallon, not $3.75. I drove around and I just started looking around and decided this is a good one here and I thought I’d be okay with and I could make a little money on. It needed work. I wanted to do the work. I knew that too. If I could put some of my own sweat equity into it, then I could make it work and it would produce some income for me.

Damon: You were working at General Dynamics at the time. Let me ask you two questions. Was it difficult to do the real estate investing in addition to your job, and did you find it helpful, from a financial perspective, to still have your job when you started your real estate investing?

Jerry: Those are two very good questions. The first part of that was it was hard work. I had to work a lot in the evenings and on the weekends when I was working at my job. But it wasn’t things I didn’t like doing, I love driving around looking at houses. I still do today, ten years later. I love going into houses that I don’t believe people leave them like that, but all I can do is make them nice again. I feel good about that.

Then the second part of that question, the financing as far as working at General Dynamics. It was so easy to get money because banks want to see a stable job. I worked there, that was a bigger company in the area. So they were more willing and bending over backwards to get my business. I knew I had to keep my job for many years. I wasn’t planning on quitting my job. I needed that for my stability, for my family, for setting income. If I can do this on the side and accumulate some real estate, at some point it might work out where I don’t have to do that any more.

Damon: How long did you continue to work in your job? You mentioned when we were talking earlier that you did eventually leave that job and you’re doing something else now. But how long did you have that job while you were doing real estate investing before you left?

Jerry: Twenty-five years.

Damon: Twenty-five years. You’d been there quite a long time. How long were you investing in real estate?

Jerry: Ten years of that 25 years I was investing in real estate.

Damon: Okay. You did the job and the real estate for a long time together.

Jerry: [inaudible 10:22] we were building our portfolio to get what I own today. We bought the 35, 40 houses, flipped some in between. I ended up keeping 20 plus houses, and so that was what my goal was.

Damon: How did you finance all these purchases? I know a lot of people listening to this interview that don’t have either any houses or maybe just a few are struggling right now to figure out how to buy as many houses as maybe they would like to. How did you do it?

Jerry: I went and did as many as I could. Well, I wanted to make sure my credit was good, which it was. Because I had a job, I didn’t necessarily have the income, even though I had some money saved up. I had a good-paying job, or a decent job that showed that I was five years, ten years into one career. When a bank sees that, they’re going to be willing to lend you the money. I was at General Dynamics and Lockheed. They’re one of the biggest employers in the Metroplex. When I went to the bank and I said I worked there for ten years, they would say, “Okay, let’s sit down and talk about.”

I had money in my 401K. If you have any money assets, collateral with the banks, they want to see that. If you have your primary residence, that goes in your favor. If you own your primary home, that shows you have assets. They look at all that.

Even today, they are there to lend money. That’s their purpose. I know they’re a little tight on it, but they do. I go to Compass Bank which I didn’t think would be because they bought out the two banks I was working with, the smaller banks. I never had a choice [inaudible 12:28] guarantee where you’re at, because I was able to deal with them, they were very personable.

Damon: I want to talk to you about that. What you did is you went to some small, local banks and you established a relationship with somebody at the bank. So they got to know you, you got to know them. How did that work?

Jerry: We can back up for a minute because I want to say on, what I was going to do because I did the ones we were talking about earlier. I did the 30-year fixed mortgages on Compass when I started because again, I had [inaudible 13:10] bank when I was going through the Fannie Mae process.

I used that as a vehicle to accumulate some real estate. Because of credit, job history, employment history, that kind of thing, they were willing to give me the money. After I tapped out that source, then I went over to the local banks.

Damon: I see. So you went to Fannie Mae loans first, tapped out the ten that you could get and then you went to talk to the local banks?

Jerry: Exactly. Because I didn’t want to quit. You hit obstacles all the time. I stopped and go on my merry way and that’s fine. You can do that. People do that. They’re okay with that. I didn’t know anything about what I was going to do next, but I knew there was something I could do. So I just started looking into it and talking to people, ask them.

I asked the guy at Countrywide, [inaudible 14:05] take away your business and send me over to your side of the bank. I know this guy personally. He was best friends with the president of the bank, and he told to go over there. I was nervous. I didn’t want to be talking to the president.

I just know the guy. I got in there and he’s very smart. He knew about real estate, he was growing his bank. He was the local bank and he sat down and was fine with it. He was able to finance the rehab. He did actually get it lower interest because they tie theirs to prime, so you can actually get a very good interest on your rehab.

Damon: I’m sorry to interrupt. In the changes over the last couple years with the lending industry, are you still able to work with a bank like that, or have the rules changed so that you can’t do that any more?

Jerry: It’s just more difficult because I have more assets and more rental income and having them all rented at one time. They take all that into consideration. So the more property you get, they’re just going to check you out more. But I still can do deals with them.

Damon: But that’s still available. That’s really good to know because a lot of people think that what used to work a few years ago just can’t be done any more. What you’re saying is that you can go to local banks and work with them. It’s a little more difficult, but it’s still possible and you’re not constricted by that ten property limit that Fannie Mae puts on you.

Jerry: Yeah. Even if you can’t use Fannie Mae [inaudible 15:42] they’re a good option. There are a couple drawbacks to that, but before I talk about that, the one thing about a bank is . . . I was telling you earlier that you have an exit strategy when you have a 30-year fixed mortgage and [inaudible 16:01] with the escrow built into it.

But when you deal with a bank, I don’t have 30-year mortgages with the banks. So you either have to refinance, which I wasn’t . . . for whatever reason I couldn’t do it or I wasn’t geared to do it. I went to the bank, and they were willing to do a 20-year note on a property.

Damon: Your mortgage payments would be higher, but your equity is growing faster because your principal is getting paid down more quickly?

Jerry: Exactly. Yeah. That’s pretty cool. I still make cash flow on it. But boy, I look at those payments coming through and it’s nice. You can do it the other way if you want to have more in more deals if you can, but it does work. So over a period of five years you pay a lot of the principal off.

What happened for me was I was working with two local banks and they got bought out by BBVA-Compass. The president of the bank and his main number one lady did most of the work, and they knew a lot about the business. They both went off to different banks. He went off to State National and she went off to HD Bank.

I’m like, “Oh boy, what do I do now? Now they’re Compass. I don’t want to deal with Compass. They’re too big.” This ended up being a good thing; I have two people now in different banks. I went to see both of them. He was now, worked at Woodhaven and she worked for her bank. So, they were willing to do some deals with me.

Damon: So that actually gave you more options.

Jerry: Exactly. Compass ended up being a good bank. I still work with them and I recommend them. I have a good relationship with them. They gave me some money on a deal we just bought on a line of credit. I didn’t think that would happen and it did. They’re doing loans. They’re one of the banks that are doing more mortgages.

Damon: That’s Compass Bank, right? That’s good to know. You’ve done a lot of loans with these banks. Have you done any other kind of deals to get financing, like partnerships for example?

Jerry: Yes. Most recently we’ve been partnering with other investors more with cash or resources. That way we can buy them faster. We’re doing it more for capital build up for them and for me, but we also have an exit strategy if we can’t. We’re buying the same kind of deals in an area we feel that’s a good resale market. If worse comes worse, we make them so beautiful they can rent in a day. These other investors are willing to take them on as rental properties. They may end up holding onto them, but I don’t see that happening. But we do have that in our back pocket if we need to.

Damon: If you need to. How do you structure these partnerships so that you’re comfortable with it working?

Jerry: They’re really quite simple. We each make a contribution to the sale. Say it’s a $60,000 property we’re buying. We have a model ourselves and we try not to deviate from it. So, don’t deviate from stuff because there are all kinds of deals out there. I get tempted. Let’s go over to Dallas and buy a few $150,000 homes. It might be a good deal. It might get you $85,000 equity. However, our model is to stay within that [inaudible 19:55] market.

For even rentals, don’t deviate because 98% of the people out there are middle class and they’re going to want to live in a neighborhood [inaudible 20:04] 3/2/2. 3/2/2 with no conversions, fixed up, you’ll get the biggest part of the mass market that’s buying real estate.

We keep that model intact for resale. That way, back to what we were talking about, we put in $60,000 say for a property that’s maybe worth $110,000 and needs $25,000 of rehab. Say he has the $40,000 and I only have $20,000. He puts in the $40,000 and I put in the $20,000. We know what our investment is at that point.

We figure out the budget of what that property’s going to be and we add that into the equation. We now have [inaudible 20:46] $85,000. He’s got $40,000. I’ve got $20,000 initially, and then we add in the rehab. However we pay for that, we split, we get exactly what we put into it.

Damon: You would put in two-thirds. He would put in one-third of the rehab, and you just keep that ratio as you continue through the deal?

Jerry: Yeah. It’s real simple. We’re doing it right now and it’s working out quite well.

Damon: Excellent.

Jerry: That’s a good way to go especially if you’re busy and there are other people that have more time. I’m an asset for them. I have more experience, more knowledge and they’re willing to partner with me.

Damon: Right and they bring some money to the table which is beneficial to you. If I understood you right, you’re both putting the cash into the deal so you can buy these houses with cash, which is giving you a better price when you buy it. Is that right?

Jerry: Better price, no financing, no down payment because it’s all wrapped into all cash. Then no banks. Not to say banks aren’t good, but you don’t have to pay interest. Start the next second you get the property. If I’m busy doing other things, we’re working on two or three other ones, we’re finishing up. Then you can put this one off a week. It’s not going to kill us. We don’t owe any money on it anyway.

So that’s a good thing also. I could see what we’re doing for flipping could easily translate into rentals. Same form would work. You figure out the way you want to structure it, what percentages are in the deal, how much experience, knowledge would work for you, and then you just calculate all that and come up with something fair and both parties win. It’s a win-win. You get a rental. I get a rental.

If we’re going to split the rent cost, you get two-thirds, I get one-third. It’s the same as doing a flip but it’s more long term. Again, we talked about flipping is okay, but you’re only getting capital on it. You aren’t getting any cash flow or equity build up, where a rental you can get all that. I like to stay with that model. I really believe in that model that Lifestyle teaches. Buy and hold because in the long run that’s what you want for retirement and that kind of thing.

Damon: That leads me to the next thing I wanted to talk to you about. You mentioned earlier that you’re comfortable giving a general idea of how much equity you’ve built up over the years with your investing and how much cash flow you have. What generally have you been able to accomplish over the last ten years?

Jerry: My accountant who does all my books knows to the penny. He’s the detail guy. I get all these spreadsheets. I’m only looking for one number. I’m the B versus the A and B, I’m the other guy who shoots from the hip. I only see one number, you know what I mean? All I need to see is the bottom line, my cash flow line.

Damon: You’re definitely the type A personality.

Jerry: He’s got it all calculated, the rent and what’s in escrow and this and that. We’re about $8,500 to $9,000 a month.

Damon: That’s awesome. That’s great. How much equity would you say you’ve been able to build up over the years?

Jerry: Because the markets are down, it doesn’t affect me because I’m renting them. They’re still worth what they’re worth to me. They’re all renting the same or more than when I bought them. I was actually making money when the economy was going down and people were losing money in the stock market. I was actually making money. I was getting the same amount of rent. But we thought at one point maybe a million. Now it may be down to $800,000. $750,000.

Damon: As the market recovers and changes, that’ll obviously go up again. That’s really good. That’s excellent Jerry. With so many properties, how do you handle managing these? You mentioned you have an accountant that’s doing your books so we got that. Do you have any other people that are helping you do stuff?

Jerry: I have a rehab company. I have a lot of employees so I send them all out to fix everything. We’re all over the Metroplex working on investment properties for other investors. We’re a very reputable company for doing rehabs. So I just pull them off of that every now and then. But again, if you do it right, I’m not saying you aren’t going to have any issues. Because you do, it’s a business. Things come up you’ve got to handle.

However if you do it right from the beginning, take care of all the details including when you sign them up, don’t start going over to pick up checks. If you do it once, then you’ll always have to do it. I’ve done that. That’s why I say don’t do it. Get them in the mail, get them trained the way you need them, the way you want to get the money. Get the dates and all that figured out.

Damon: Right.

Jerry: Also if you do it like the model and you do a good job on the rehab, especially on the things that are going to break like HVAC and the plumbing, the infrastructure, and make sure all the lines have been looked at, the water lines and the water stops, the things that could cause the drips. Make sure all that’s working and new. That’s so important because I don’t want to get called. Supply line’s leaking because they cause a big mess. It’s only about $5 for the valve and another $10 for the supply line.

Damon: But if those things leak, it’s hundreds of dollars to repair it.

Jerry: Exactly. If you do all the infrastructure it’s very important. More than the cosmetic, even though you want to make it nice and you do all that. I profess this to all the Lifestyle, this is my philosophy that as long as those people are renting, they’ll never want to rent from anyone else.

Damon: Right.

Jerry: They believe you’re going to give them the best deal, the best price. You can’t find a nicer house. Go up the street and find it and let me know where it is. I get these people telling me. When they’re looking at a rental, you wouldn’t believe what people are renting out these days. I’m like, “Tell me about it. I know [inaudible 27:45].

Now they don’t do anything, they don’t even do the carpet. So if you give them a nice product, they’re more than likely to stay for a long time. As long as they don’t have something happen, a life change like they have to move for a job or got a divorce or whatever, that changes their situation, they will stay with you.

Damon: Right. Well, that’s really important on rentals because when your house is vacant you’ve got to get people in there. You’re losing money while it’s vacant. It’s a big hassle to get it leased out. So the longer you can get people to stay in your properties, then the better everything is.

Jerry: There are really good tenants out there. The way our country is a lot of people got tapped out with credit and that kind of thing. So if they have a bad credit score and really overall they’re pretty good people, they just got behind, maybe got a divorce, they’re absolutely perfect for tenants.

Nice homes, they pay their rent, they take care of it. You do your part and take care of those other things. There are only a couple things that go wrong. HVAC runs so much out here in Texas. When it’s 95 or 100 that thing runs continually. You’ve got to get on them about changing filters, keeping that thing maintained. Another problem is backups, which I can’t control, but you can always work out with them if it’s their fault. They put stuff down there and they have to pay for it. But other than those two things, you deal with them right, then you shouldn’t have too many calls [inaudible 29:22].

Damon: That’s really important to know because a lot of people are afraid of being a landlord because they’re afraid of things going wrong, things breaking, tenants causing problems. I think you addressed all that in what you said. If you make the house in good condition, take care of everything, fix it all up front. Then you get some tenants in there, they’ll take good care of the house, they’ll appreciate what you’ve done for them, and all the infrastructure’s working properly you don’t have to worry too much about the air conditioner breaking down, because you already took care of that when you bought the house before they even moved in.

That’s great advice. I wanted to talk a little bit more about your rehab company. It’s called Start 2 Finish, right? I was looking on Lifestyles Unlimited, we have a vendor list where our members can post comments on the different vendors. I think if I remember right you have 39 positive comments and zero negative comments. For somebody who’s doing rehabs for people, that’s a really good rating and I just wanted to commend you for that because it means that, obviously, you’re doing something right. Your customers are very happy with what you’re accomplishing and doing for them.

Jerry: I’ll pass it on to my guys because they do all the good work. I do the parts that have to be done, but as far as day-to-day, the trust I put in them and [inaudible 31:03] over time have learned to do and the detail and making sure things are right to a high standard. I like to see people happy.

We just finished one out in Bridgeport. When I went out there, it was a Lifestyles knew someone out in Bridgeport. Bridgeport, Decatur, we were finishing up today a room addition. She is the happiest lady on the face of the earth. She has a hundred acres, is a school teacher, makes picante sauce on the side. She’s been wanting this garage. I’m like, “How am I going to do this to be a room?”

The guy running the project for her was out of that area [inaudible 31:47] an associate, Very, very sharp and we worked all the details out. When I go there today, we’re done. I’m taking out the trash, but you’ll have the next call, you’ll see number 40. They’re so happy about the way it turned out. I commend my guys and the people I’ve developed over time. My job is to make sure I get the best people doing the work for the customer. Best product keeps the customer coming back and finding better materials, better vendors. I’ve got people to install and do the work.

Damon: I wish that you were in Houston where I am so I could have you do my rehabs. But you’re in Dallas, so if you ever get your business down to Houston, let me now.

Jerry: I’m willing to travel. Take my web address, my phone number, if you need any kind of help, I’m more than willing to help them out. If I can get some business, that’s fine. But more than anything, if I can help them, if they have questions, I answer my phone all day long.

I do rehabs on the phone. There are a lot of people in Lifestyles. The problem you run into with the contractors there, and I’m sure in Houston, we don’t have time to run all over the state looking at properties before we purchase them. That’s a big thing for a guy trying to buy his first one. Right, they’re afraid. They call me and say, “Come over and look at the property. I have it under contract.” I do free estimates because there’s a chance you’re going to buy this thing and I can get the work out of it.

Damon: That’s great, because then people will know before they buy it what it’s going to cost them to get it all fixed up.

Jerry: Yeah, but as long as it’s under contract, you have the option period to back out. Still call me especially if it’s a wholesale deal or a HUD property, you don’t get as much time to figure out because they need to go ahead of time before they even make an offer. In those kind of cases, if I’m running around and they call me anyway, I’ll talk to them on the cell phone. We’ll come up with something. They’ll tell me exactly what they saw, send me pictures. I look at it and I try to help them out so they can make an informed decision on whether to buy this or not, and I don’t have to go all the way out there.

Damon: Is your website, I should’ve looked it up before, what’s the website address for your business?

Jerry: It’s www.Start2FinishBuild.com.

Damon: So Start2FinishBuild.com that’s the address. I encourage people to go take a look at that, and if you’re buying properties and needing to get some rehab done, you’re definitely the person to talk to. In fact, last night when we were chatting, we were practicing using Skype a little bit because that was your first experience with it. You mentioned that you had done a rehab for my brother’s house in Dallas. Hi, Roark if you’re listening. He’ll probably be watching this interview. I can tell you that Roark is a type B personality and very particular. If you were able to please him, you can please anybody. There’s my endorsement.

Jerry: I really enjoy working with all those Lifestyle . . . they’re interesting. I learn so much about people, it’s a fun business. It really is. When you get into it, you learn a lot about people and you have the network. You’re uncomfortable sometimes meeting people, getting to the case studies, talking to someone. Even I’m sometimes, even though I talk a lot, the initial thing is meeting that person and getting to know them a little bit and then being able to talk to them about real estate. That’s part of the business. It’s a side benefit. It has nothing to do with real estate, getting to know a lot of people, and you have fun. I don’t know you. I just met you and I know your brother. I know you now and so that’s cool.

Damon: It’s very cool. That’s one of the interesting things about real estate. I’ve been interviewing more and more successful investors. I’m starting to see a common thread and that is that successful investors like people. The technicalities of the business don’t seem to be as important as the connections that they’re making with other people? Do you kind of find that too?

Jerry: I believe in it 100%. In any business really, across the board, if you want to be successful in any business, you have to be able to distil all the people and see things from their perspective and learn from them. I learn from everyone. I don’t know a lot about anything and I keep my ears open. The investors I’m working with now are very unseasoned, they’re new, but boy, they have some things I never thought of. I never thought of it that way. This is a whole different perspective. I’m looking at it from a different angle and I’ve only got one way of thinking, basically.

Damon: Have you been able to learn things from even newer investors?

Jerry: All the time.

Damon: That’s great.

Jerry: I take that to the table and I use it the next time. That’s how it works over time. When I started doing the flipping and investment, I didn’t have a clue. When I started buying my first building, I didn’t have a clue about any of it. Who does? When you sit down the first day at your new job, and I’m like, “How am I going to do this?”

I go through like 20 volumes of documents and all these strange things and all this. Over time, you [inaudible 37:53] gets boring you know it so well. With real estate, you’ve got to get into it somehow. You can’t make a bad buy. What was I thinking when I did it? Why would I do something like that? And yet you could still . . .

Damon: It still works out.

Jerry: You can still profit. You just have to wait it out. It’s going to take longer, but you will always, as long as you’re going to be in the renting mode because every dollar, dime for dime that you get over and above your mortgage is money towards the investment. You can pay off your rehab, right?

Damon: That’s right.

Jerry: On the mortgages, you’re paying off your rehab. Put $2,000 extra into it. That’s what I say and then you’ll be happy in the long run. You bought it for $50,000, so you know put the [inaudible 38:54] or whatever. Put something nice in there to get the nicer people, you know that you’re making a better quality product for people.

Damon: Absolutely. That’s the cool thing about real estate is that it’s forgiving. If you make a bad decision, you’ll be able to recover from it. I think a lot of people when they first get started in real estate investing, they’re just afraid of a lot of things. Maybe the biggest fear is, “I’m going to do a bad deal and lose money and have a terrible experience.” What you said a minute ago really resonates. You need to just get started. You need to go do it. Put the fear aside, just go do it. It’s going to work out okay.

Jerry: Put the pen in your hand and sign, sign that document. You may be shaking when you sign it. You thought $50,000 and you need all this work and you don’t know what you’re doing. Why did I do this? You get buyer’s remorse. Do it and then you’ll see it work.

You learn and it becomes easier. You do the next one, you learn, it becomes easier for the next one. At some point, you become pretty experienced at doing it. I’ll bet the people at Lifestyles have done four or five. Did one, two, three, four. But the ones that aren’t buying yet, make a decision. Don’t let your all your emotions get in the way. Make a decision. You’re going to buy [inaudible 40:24]. You’ll figure out, but if you write down [inaudible 40:27].

Damon: Well, this is a great way to end the interview because it’s a real positive note and encouragement to people who are watching to go out there and get started. You started ten years ago because you saw that your retirement at the company you were at wasn’t going to cut it. Here you are, ten years later, accomplishing the goals that you set out to achieve. If you had given in to any kind of fear that you had back then and not done anything, you might be sitting in a gray cubicle, or wherever you were at your company, without retirement that you can survive on. The sooner you get started and do this, the sooner you’ll accomplish your goals. You’re a great example of having accomplished that, so I commend you. I think it’s great.

Jerry: It’s been great being on your show. Again, my number, my website, call me if you have any questions after the interview about what we talked about. Anything you need as far as real estate. I like being on the phone all day [inaudible 41:30] just talking about real estate. I do my job checking on projects and that kind of thing in between. [inaudible 41:38] I will talk on the phone, as long as I’m on the highway and I feel safe.

Damon: So people can feel free to call you, go to your website, Start2Finish. It’s Start2FinishBuild.com.

Jerry: As a domain, I couldn’t [inaudible 42:03]. There were like a thousand people at Start2Finish. I had to come up with some other thing at the end, and we figured build would work in real estate.

Damon: That totally works. That’s great. Jerry, it was great to meet you, great to hear about your experiences. Thank you so much for taking the time today and talking with me. I really appreciate it.

Jerry: Okay. Thank you.

Damon: All right. Take care. Bye-bye.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Erma Slater November 18, 2011 at 9:25 am

Hey Jerry Call me ASAP. Formerly Erma Bradley. Rented from then we bought the house on Burgundy.

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Jim May 20, 2011 at 10:59 pm

 Thank you Damon and Jerry for the great video.I have been a member of Lifestyles for over a year, and I am the worlds worst procrastinator.I have not done one deal, but listening to this video between you two gentlemen somehow just convinced me to get off  my butt and get started.I too live here in the Dallas area, and I will probably be contacting Jerry and his company in the not too distant future. Thank You again. – Jim R

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Damon Janis May 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm

 That’s awesome Jim!

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