067 Jaren Barnes Interview

Have you ever wondered about Jaren Barnes? What's his story? Where does he come from? Why does he do what he does?

In this episode, I sit down with Jaren for a one-on-one conversation about his history and story. We'll learn about how his career developed, where he gets his motivation and you might even learn a few new things he's never shared on the podcast before.

Links and Resources

Episode 67 Transcription

Seth: Hey everybody, how's it going? This is Seth Williams and Jaren Barnes of the REtipster podcast. And today we're going to do something a little bit different. I'm going to stand back and we're going to interview Jaren for no other reason than to simply help our audience know more about Jaren. If you ever happened to catch episode 10 and I think it was episode 24, we kind of have little bits and pieces of Jaren's backstory to kind of learn a little bit more about how he operates and what his experience has been and how he's gotten to his current stage in life.

But we've never like actually dedicated a full episode just to hearing all about Jaren. We've got a handful of questions here we're going to run through and just got a pretty cool story. I think you guys are going to enjoy it and I'm going to enjoy it too. So, Jared, what's up?

Jaren: What’s up guys? This is kind of weird to be on the side of the conversation today, but it's exciting. I'm excited too because then I think next week, we're going to be interviewing you, right, Seth?

Seth: Yup. Actually, I don't know which one's going to air first, but chances are you've either already heard Jaren interview me or if you haven't yet, that's going to come next time.

Jaren: Yeah. So, I'm excited to get into your back story as well.

Seth: I guess to kick this off, let's just answer the high-level question of how did you get into real estate, Jaren?

Jaren: Not that question. Geez. Really what happened was I got married and I needed to figure out a way to make money. My background was I started pursuing a nonprofit work, right out of high school and I dropped out of college to go work full time in a volunteer non-paid position as a superintendent over a homeless shelter in Great Bend, Kansas in the middle of nowhere. And then I helped a friend start a ministry where he was traveling and I was traveling with him. And one of the trips that we ended up going on was to the UK. And I met my wife there and I was really young. My wife is actually, I think three and a half years older than me, almost four years older than me. And I was 19 when I met her and she was 23. And I kind of just, long story short knew that she was my wife. We knew each other for two months and then I moved to the UK to spend the summer with her to get eloped with parent permission. So, I went out there and I turned 20 on July 5th and we were married on July 7th.

Seth: You needed to parent permission. You were 19 though, right?

Jaren: Yeah, I didn't need it, but I got it because out of honor for her parents.

Seth: It’s not like illegal thing and you just didn't want to alienate.

Jaren: I just didn’t want to be like a jerk and be like, “Hey, I got married without talking to her parents”. But here's a really funny story. My wife's family, they prank each other a lot. We found out after the fact, after we were married when my wife called my mother in law and asked her, “Hey, I met this guy, I really want to marry him. I feel like it's right. Can I have your blessing?” She was like, “Yeah, yeah, sure” thinking it was a joke. And then she found out it wasn't a joke but it's too late. And I obviously couldn't be a non-paid volunteer for a homeless shelter anymore because I was a husband and needed to provide for a family. So, I moved back from the UK. We were staying in Albany in Scotland and we didn't know anything about the immigration process because we were young and dumb. And so, I was like, before you moved to America, you should go see your family one more time in Kazakhstan and then you could fly out after. And she said, yeah, that's a good idea. So, I flew to California to stay with my mom and try to get a job and figure things out. And she went to Kazakhstan and then we found out about this thing called the immigration process. And we were separated for a year and a half and had to go through all that.

Seth: And why is that?

Jaren: Because we didn't have an American marriage license. We had a British marriage license and neither of us were UK citizens. It looked very suspicious.

Seth: Oh, I see.

Jaren: They needed us to prove that this is a legitimate marriage and not just me getting paid off to help somebody immigrate to the United States.

Seth: Yeah, man, that immigration process is uh. I mean, I'm sure there are reasons for it, but holy cow, what a hassle. When I was working in banking, I remember working with a few people that were going with immigration and it was just like a nightmare. Funny thing is I had heard the back in the 70s or probably 70s and prior to that it was like super easy to get into the U.S. It was like, you just can say, “Well, I'm coming in now” and you're all good. It didn't matter if you were coming from Iraq or where. It's just like, “Hey, just free for all”.

Jaren: Yeah, man. I don't know why they make it so difficult. The reality is I understand why so many people do it illegally because it's easier. It's way easier to do it illegally than to do it the right way. It's almost a lot of the laws and restrictions in place, they hurt people that are trying to do it the right way. Yeah, so, it's unfortunate. I really think we need a complete overhaul of the immigration system, but that's for another podcast.

Anyway, while I was trying to figure out how to make money, some friends started to get into business and entrepreneurship at least from an ideological standpoint. I started reading a lot of books like “Rich Dad Poor Dad” or as one of the books that were really instrumental for me was a book by a guy named Brendon Burchard called the “Millionaire Messenger” and that he literally blueprints a step by step process to make a million dollars a year. He breaks down all the numbers and stuff and it's really good. And so, I started hanging out with those guys and then one of my friends in the group bought into a Real Estate Guru Program and wanted to start flipping houses in the San Francisco Bay Area. At this time, it was a little bit fast forward. My wife had finally joined me in the United States and we were together and I had just crushed through getting my insurance license and I had convinced a guy to hire me. Even though he wanted somebody who had college experience. I had landed this job and I was working there for about a month and a half and I was the number one salesperson there. I was making more sales for that month than anybody else. I just had to hustle.

And I realized that my friend was telling me that in one deal I could make a hundred thousand dollars. And I was like, man, if I work my entire job in insurance, I can't make that. Even if I'm sustaining the number of sales that I'm doing now, I can't make a hundred thousand dollars a year with where I'm at. I was making somewhere around 65-ish thousand or something like that. And I said, man if all I have to do is one sale and I can make a hundred thousand dollars in a year, it's worth it.

So, I quit my job and then literally left my office after talking to my boss and then went directly to the real estate office in Milpitas. And I started a door-knocking that day and I started door knocking pre-foreclosures. Long story short, it was a crazy ride because again, I was really good at sales from door-knocking. I got 10 properties under contract in six months, which at the time with the climate that was really, really hard to do. It was just coming off of the 2008 recession and it's a tough market.

I was doing really well, but the people that we were kind of partnered with weren't the most ethical at all. I wasn't getting paid and they were kind of kicking their feet about closing on these properties and they had a really unethical way to actually turn foreclosures into a deal or short sales into a deal. But at the time I didn't realize. But now knowing what I know being licensed and everything, they all could have gone to prison for what they were doing and I'm glad that I stopped doing business with them. But from there I kind of got bit by the real estate bug and I was like, “All right, I really like real estate. There's something here I want to go after it”.

I started a blog called realestatecatalyst.org and I made a post about a bunch of really awesome blogs out there, Bigger Pockets being one of them. I think REtipster was one of them too, right? And that's how I got on Seth's radar.

Yeah. So, from there, Biggerpockets, Josh and Brandon reached out to me like, thank you so much for the review that dah, dah, dah. Which is crazy to think. It must have been the Wild Wild West because I'm sure people write blog posts about Bigger Pockets all day long now and they don't get reached out to by these guys. But this is back in 2013/2014. And so, long story short, they ended up wanting to come or they were going to do a presentation for Google. I was really involved in the Bigger Pockets meetups there in the Bay Area. And so, I connected Brandon and Josh to the guy that runs the Bigger Pockets meetups for the San Francisco Bay Area. And then they came and kind of did like a special meet and greet or whatever. And that's how I got on their radar. And I noticed that Josh put out a job listing on social media saying that they needed some extra help. It was just Josh and Brandon at the time and some 1099 contractors and few VA’s. And so long story short, I reached out, I said, “Hey, I would be interested. I have blogging experience. I started my own thing and I think I would be a good fit. I'd love to work with you guys”. And he said, “Well, it has to be temporary because we want to build the team in Denver. I don't want any more virtual employees outside of Brandon. So, would you be okay with it?” And I said, yeah, a hundred percent.

So, I worked there for I think five months and I did a lot of stuff there. I learned a ton. I edited all of the blog posts that were contributed there. There were 35 blog contributors at the time. I did forum monitoring. I wrote the show notes for the podcast. I wrote the outlines for the podcast. I got guests for the podcast. I did a lot. I did pretty much anything that they would throw at me, I would do it. And it was a really great experience. And from there I was kind of in transition for a little bit and ultimately decided to move to Indianapolis because things are cheaper there. If I wanted to afford a house and I wanted to continue to pursue real estate, that would have been much more advantageous.

So, I moved there and I was kind of feeling like I needed to pick between content marketing and real estate. And I ultimately chose real estate. I got my real estate license and then got hired by a guy named Brett Snodgrass to do content marketing. He was a real estate wholesaler. I've always kind of been in this bubble of content marketing and in real estate. This is kind of my whole career. And halfway through my time at Simple Wholesaling while I was building a brand for Simple Wholesaling, I switched to doing the deal side of the business. And I was the head of this position. So, it was my responsibility to make sure that the properties got sold. At the height, I was selling between 25 and 35 properties a month. We had 35 properties and those were like killer months, best months ever. But on average, the bare minimum we were hitting over 25 properties a month.

I learned a ton there and starting a podcast and continuing the branding efforts. We interviewed Seth about the land business and I was really intrigued about the land business because it was very similar to wholesaling but had just a lot more perks. Properties were cheaper, marketing was cheaper, less competition. The major difference between the wholesaling houses, if you actually take down your inventory and you don't do assignments with land is that it takes a little bit longer to move property. My typical turnaround time in my land business is three to six months. Whereas if you're wholesaling and you're working with investor buyers, you can move property within a few days of having it. A lot of guys do double closes and that kind of stuff.

So, I wanted to utilize the skill sets that I had without being direct competition to my boss at Simple Wholesaling because I'm a pretty loyal guy and I thought that I was going to be there for a while, maybe in the long haul, but I wanted to still have my own ability to make wealth and generate wealth that wasn't in direct competition to Simple Wholesaling. And so, I reached out to Seth and he said, “Hey, how about you moonlight the land course? I'll give you access to it for free. And you just give me feedback on what your experience was like”. I was like, “Yeah, heck yeah, I'll do that”. And so, I went through it, took action, and then kind of took off doing land in Indiana. Simple Wholesaling had some transitions and a long story short, it turned out that it wasn't going to be the best fit for me to be there long-term.

So, I was kind of, again in transition, still working in my land business, but I was in the beginning stages. So cashflow is a real problem. And me and Seth were actually in a mastermind group together with a couple of other guys like Lucas Hall and Al Williamson. Al Williamson is leading landlord.com and then Lucas Hall is from cozy.com. He found in landlordology.com. We'll put those in the show notes. Those guys are great. We were in a mastermind group, that we met over Zoom. We met every other week. I was complaining about my cashflow problems. I don't know what I'm supposed to do because the land business is awesome and it's working and we're okay, but we're not getting ahead. We're just kind of treading water. And Seth said, “Well, how about you come work for REtipster?” And I was like, “That's a great idea. That might be awesome”.

Yeah, I ended up joining the team in July of 2018 if I remember correctly. And it's been history ever since I've been growing my land business. I moved from Indiana to Florida. Well, I didn't move. I'm in Indiana still, but I moved my land operation from Indiana to Florida. And ever since I did that, things took off like a rocket and it's been really, really good. I got to be honest, man, working at REtipster it's my dream job. It's everything I've ever wanted to do with helping people, making videos, writing articles that are tutorial base and very action-oriented and podcasting and videos and all this man.

Right now, as we're recording this, we're in the thick of the coronavirus nonsense mess pandemic and it's easy to forget. But man, I can't believe I get to do what I do every day because it's literally everything I've ever wanted to do.

Seth: Yeah man, likewise. I remember that moment when you were telling me and I had that light bulb moment of “Hey, maybe Jaren could work for REtipster” and it was usually I'm too dense and slow to recognize those opportunities when they're right in front of me. But I think God was just telling me like, “Hey stupid, here you go. Perfect opportunity right here”. And it's true man. That’s the thing. It's surprisingly difficult to find people out there because there's like a lot of different things they have to be in order to excel in the role that you are in. You've got to have relevant experience. You have to know what you're talking about. You have to be somebody who knows how to talk and actually explain things in a way that people can understand.

I can't tell you how many super successful real estate investors there are out there, but they either have no interest in helping other people understand or are just terrible at it. They don't have the mind or the heart of a teacher. And then also somebody who enjoys the video thing. I think a lot of people hate being on video. The podcasting thing and knows how to write and just convey ideas and you're just a really good blend of everything that a person would ever need to be. So, I'm really glad we are where we at.

Jaren: Yeah, man, a hundred percent. I got to just take my hat off to you. I hope that this doesn't turn into some like a gushy love fest or something.

Seth: Oh, I'm okay with that.

Jaren: I'm just really thankful for how much you've helped me hone my skills in that. Like I think I was okay. Like, I definitely could start a podcast and do some stuff. But now it's like I really have some skills and I only have you to thank for that. I mean, I really just appreciate the opportunity man.

Seth: Yeah, absolutely.

Jaren: That's awesome man.

Seth: I'm glad I could play any role in helping you along. That's really cool man. Thanks for saying. So, we've kind of heard about from college-age until now. So when you were a kid, did you have any interest in being an entrepreneur, running businesses or making money or any of that stuff? Or did the light bulb sort of go off when you discovered real estate back in the Bay Area those years ago?

Jaren: I was not entrepreneurial at all when I was a kid. I was actually kind of like, I don't know like I was a troubled kid I guess I would say to put it lightly. I just didn't have much of a direction at all. Before I had my “Come to Jesus” moment when I was 15. I was really into like drugs and the party scene. I remember in my freshman year of high school because I went back and forth between my mom and my dad's house. My mom lives in California, my dad lives in Georgia. I graduated in Georgia, but in my freshman year, I was in California. And I remember telling my teachers like, “What do you want to do when you get older?” I was like, “I want to just be like a nomad. Just kind of be a traveling nomad”. Because they beat the system. They don't have any cares in the world. They don't have to worry about bills or anything. They just go wherever they want to go and do whatever they want to do.

So that was where I was at, man. I was kind of like coming off of a kind of hippy-dippy, like nonsense stuff that doesn't really work in the real world. But I had my “Come to Jesus” moment when I was 15 and that really kind of just gave me a whole new sense of direction. But the entrepreneurial bug bit me kind of out of necessity because I don't have a college degree or a career to fall back on. I don't have those kinds of skillsets. So, I had to figure out something and figure it out fast. Because my wife who's older wants kids and has family obligations and I was a young kid really having to figure it out quickly, like really fast. So, real estate was the best path for me.

Seth: Yeah. That's always weird for me to even think of you as being somebody who is a troubled kid or having no direction because you just seem so the opposite of that now. The only Jaren I've ever known as somebody who's super driven and does have direction and is not a total misfit.

Jaren: Yeah. That's my wife man. That's all on my wife. Because my wife grew up in real poverty. She was born under the Soviet Union. So, the Soviet Union fell in 1991. She was born in 1987 and she grew up toilets in the backyard and a village kind of poor. Her story, they could write a whole book about it, but just kind of like curiously through her struggles I realized, I guess I got a little bit of that immigrant hustle from her. I realized, “Oh, wait, there's an ungodly amount of opportunity just being in America.” I almost have a responsibility or an obligation to capitalize on that opportunity because so many people would literally kill to be like literally killed to be here and it's a big deal. So, I can only attribute my drive and who I am today to my faith in my wife.

Seth: When I think of the people I've known in my life who were sort of like troublemakers or I don't know, sort of what you were describing of yourself as a young person. I wonder if that's the main issue at stake is that they simply have no direction or they don't have a meaning to life. They don't know what they're doing or why they're even here. And it's almost like I don't know if boredom is the right word, but just like when you have no a mission or you don't understand the importance of life and what you've put here to do, it's really easy to flounder and just go nowhere. And that's probably where a lot of troubles in the world come from. It’s people who just don't understand what they've been given and the opportunities that are sitting right in front of them.

Jaren: I would a hundred percent agree with that. I used to even tell people like, I don't understand, I mean this is going to sound crazy to probably all of our audience, but when I was like 13-14 doing crazy stuff, I used to tell people like, I don't understand the point of being sober. It's boring. Why would you do it? I think people, everybody to thrive, they need a purpose, they need a mission and I just didn't have one for a long time. And so, I had my “Come to Jesus” moment.

Seth: Sometimes I wonder if that purpose is born out of struggle. People have a life where they can just kind of sit in front of the TV, they can just sort of do whatever they want. They don't have to do anything that day. It's just whatever. I've known people like that in my life and the people that I know that are like super productive or really like push it really far and get far in life. I don't know that they would be that way if they weren't well acquainted with struggle. It's almost like you sort of have to hurt a little bit to realize the importance of pushing for something better.

Jaren: Here I speak in my life's ideals, man. Like my core values. Especially in recent years with things that we've gone through some family stuff and whatever. Like I used to be anti-suffering, adamantly anti-suffering, but I'm not so much anymore. I think that controlled suffering is the only way that you can grow. You think about working out at the gym. All you're doing is you're putting yourself in a position to have controlled suffering. That's all it is. Repetitive controlled suffering is what grows muscles. It's the same thing that grows character and it's the same thing that teaches you how to speak a different language or learn a new skill. It’s getting through the pain and the struggle of not knowing something or fill in the blank. And that's the only path to growth. You can't grow without suffering.

Seth: Amen. That's good stuff. We've heard your whole backstory or at least all the highlights. Is there anything else you do in terms of real estate investing outside of land? Or do you have much experience in other realms?

Jaren: I have a lot of experience because I sold a lot of “buy and hold” property and flip the property to buyers. I had to understand what they were looking for, how they run their numbers, all that stuff. I am very interested in a “buy and hold” long-term. I don't think that two to four units are the route that I would want to go. I've been looking into syndications pretty heavily over the last six months and I would probably still be very interested in pursuing that. Right now, the climate's very different than it was, but I keep coming back to it depending on who you talk to. If you talk to a syndicator, they're small multifamily. You talk to somebody who buys residential multifamily, like two to four units, they call them big. So, it's all relative. But anything from 5 to like 50-unit range, I feel like in the syndication world, there's a lot of guys shy away from those because they require more hands-on management. You can't get the good high-level property managers for those kinds of properties like you would for a 100-unit or whatever.

But being in Northwest Indiana and seeing the opportunities that are here, there's a house literally five-minute walk from where I'm at right now. That's a six-unit that is selling for like $550,000. There was another 10-unit, 30 minutes north of me in a really nice area called Whiting, Indiana for $500,000. It was a 10 unit.

Seth: Oh, man. Does it make good money? Are the 10 garbage units or are nice ones?

Jaren: No, I mean Whiting is kind of an Oasis in the ghetto. There's East Chicago and then there's Hammond is kind of up and coming. I would buy in Hammond. Purdue has a college campus there. And then there's Gary to the East. And Gary is pretty rough. But Whiting is a really quaint little town and we would totally get renter's there because it's safe. It's right by Lake Michigan. It's literally the most Northern part of Indiana before you're in Illinois and in Chicago. Looking at the opportunities here, if I'm going to be settled here, I don't know, I keep circling back to that. I don't know a hundred percent if that's the route that I'm going to go. I'm like not committing to anything but larger “buy and hold” anywhere from 5 to doing full on syndications of like a hundred and plus units.

That's something that's intriguing to me, but I also like kind of the obscure creative weird stuff in real estate that's just unusual. Like billboards have been on my radar quite a bit. I got a property that is right off of the highway in Jacksonville right now. It's a land deal that's vacant and it'd be perfect for a billboard and so that's been intriguing to me. And then also all these guys that invest overseas like in Belize or in the Azores that we've been talking to over the last year that I like short term rentals, vacation rentals. I really like that as a strategy. I think that it sounds like it's fun. It makes really good money, but to me, honestly, the appeal is it just sounds like it's cool to be able to be like, “Yeah, I got a property in Hawaii, I got a property in Belize, I got property in the Azores and it makes me all this money and it's awesome. If you ever want to go, we could always just go and book a weekend. We could go for free”.

That just seems very appealing to me. And I like the fact that there are all these obscure vacation destinations like Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, nobody really talks about that. But you can get really, really cheap property there and then you can Airbnb it in the on-season and probably make a crazy amount of money. I don't know, that's the stuff that's on my radar. But currently, the only stuff that I've actually taken action on is I live in a house situation, I live in the side of a duplex and then I flip land. But other things are very much on my radar for the future.

Seth: And you're really very, very familiar with the whole house wholesaling business model too. I mean, it may not have been like your money tied up in those properties, but you actually played a hand in doing many, many transactions that way. There's a ton of stuff to learn just from that right there.

Jaren: I’ve probably had my hands involved in over 250 transactions. Confidently.

Seth: Yeah, that's huge, man. And you were a real estate agent for a while as well, right?

Jaren: Yeah. I'm still technically licensed. I haven't let it lapse or expire. I'm not a part of the local MLS association, the GNIAR is what it's called for Northwest Indiana. I'm kind of just biding my time, but since I went through the headaches and the two years’ experience to get a broker's license, like a managing broker's license in Indiana, so I don't have to hang in with anybody. It’s just hard for me to let go of that. I've just been keeping it inactive for now.

Seth: If you did let go of that, how hard is it to get it back? The managing broker's license?

Jaren: I'd have to start from the beginning.

Seth: Man, that stinks.

Jaren: Yeah, so I'd have to have two years of active real estate experience again and do the whole thing and pass the broker's test again.

Seth: By the way, Jaren put together a couple of really good articles about explaining the difference between a realtor, real estate agent, real estate broker and how the terms and names for those roles kind of differ from state to state. I never fully even understood it myself until I saw his writeup. I'm going to link to both of those in the show notes as well in case you've ever been curious about that. A lot of times people call somebody a real estate agent and they use that term interchangeably with something that isn't necessarily that. Anyway, I just thought I mentioned that since we're on the subject.

Jaren: Yeah, I worked hard on those. It's funny, with some of these articles we've been working on recently with recent projects, it's like one term can turn into a nightmare. Like real estate agent can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people.

Seth: Yeah. For all the listeners out there, if you guys didn't know this, I've mentioned it in a few different places, but just in case you weren't aware, a big initiative we've been working on, on REtipster is creating a terms library. The idea is to just take a lot of words that are very commonly thrown around in the real estate world. Like 1031 exchange or absentee owner or real estate agent for example. Words that the typical real estate investor who's been doing this for a while, they're probably very familiar with it or maybe they think they know because they use the word, but they don't actually understand all the intricate details behind it. We've been trying to very clearly explain these things like writing a full article about each one of them. Not just defining it but like a lot of other tidbits that people ought to know about those particular terms.

This is a new terms library on the site. I think both of us have just been blown away at how much harder this has been than we thought it would be. Part of what makes it hard is because if we want to really make ground and define a lot of these things, more than like 10 in a two- or three-month period, we have to get other writers involved, other people who understand them and can write well. That has been really hard to find good writers. And then even when we do find a good writer, it's a ton of work to edit them and make sure all the statements were correct.

Jaren: The crosschecking on editing is a nightmare because they can legitimately show you, this article says straight up XYZ, but then you might know because you have experience in the industry. Yeah, but that's only half the picture and that's only under certain circumstances that that term is used for that. So, it's really hard to figure it out.

Seth: For the ones that I've been writing, I've got legit textbooks here that I used in college. I've seen that same kind of thing where it explains the term in one context and it's right in that one context. But there are also other situations where that same word is used and it means something slightly different or even very different. I've found plenty of other articles on like big reputable websites that have done the same thing where it's like they are either not fully correct or they're wrong. It’s one of those things like on the surface when you just think, “Oh yeah, let's write a bunch of terms articles”. It seems really easy. But like, holy cow, if you want to do it right and do it well, it is insane how much work it takes. For both of us, editing is probably my least favorite thing to do. I've been kind of crabby every day that I have to edit articles. Jaren can attest to that. It just totally wears me out. So, it'll be interesting to see if people get anything out of this. Like is this something we ought to spend our time on or should we do something else?

Jaren: Oh, and by the way, this is an incredible opportunity. If any of the listeners out there have real estate experience and professional editing experience, please reach out to us.

Seth: Yes, please.

Jaren: We are in a desperate situation.

Seth: Yeah, we have tapped a couple of people who have been very helpful, but a friend of mine works for a book publisher called Baker Book House and he is an editor. Like that's what he does. He was explaining to me that every time they publish a book, it goes through four different editors. At first, I was like, man, that seems like overkill, but I'm realizing that's actually very appropriate. There's a lot of stuff that one editor by themselves will not catch. Because it's not just about grammar and spelling, it's about doing this sentence structure is right, should it be moved to a different place? Are the statements even correct? There is so much stuff involved in editing. It's kind of mind-boggling when you think about it.

Jaren: Yeah man. Hey, can we link in the show notes my favorite terms article that I've read so far is been that article that Brian Davis wrote on cap rates. For whatever reason, I think that was the best writeup I've ever read on cap rates. He really made it super simple to not only understand but also to stick in my mind.

Seth: Yeah, Brian's a great writer. Everything he puts together, it's just awesome. So yeah, I'll link to that. We have not just an amazing article on it, but also a calculator you can use on that same article. So, let's move on here. The next question I've got for you, Jaren is, what is your craziest story about a real estate deal you were involved with? What's just a bizarre experience you had for better or worse?

Jaren: One of the craziest things that have ever happened in my life is when I first started working for Simple Wholesaling, Brett had me go get trained on how to take down a boarded-up house or how to get access to a boarded-up house or to board up a house or something. He gives me this address and this is probably the most ghetto place I've ever been in my life. It's like straight up from a movie kind of ghetto, like drug addicts walking around on the streets. I don't know, it was scary. It was weird. I walk up to this house, people, all the neighbors are looking at me weird. Half of mine, it feels like I'm about to get attacked. I go up and then I see Gary, who's this super small town, really kind of a gullible, sweet guy. And he's like, “Hey, Jared” and la-la-la. And we were like, go in this house. He's showing me all chirpy and nice.

Seth: And who is Gary?

Jaren: Gary was our property manager for the tenant owned properties and he also was our transaction coordinator at Simple Wholesaling.

Seth: I gotcha.

Jaren: He's training me and we walk into this house and he is showing me around and all of a sudden, I started noticing all these Brown things everywhere. And I'm like, “Hey, do they have dogs?” He said, “Oh no man, this was a crack house and this is all human feces everywhere”. And I'm like, “What?” And like literally everywhere, there's just spots of like just poop everywhere. And then we go upstairs and I have noticed that the bathroom, there's no poop, there's no anything nasty really. It's like the nicest room in the house. And so, me and Gary were talking about it. I'm like, “What the heck? Why is it poop everywhere else except in the bathroom?”

And then while we're putting up the boards or doing whatever we were doing, some guy approaches us and says, “Hey man, my friend was squatting here and he has my bike and my backpack in the back yard”. And obviously, this guy was the guy that was squatting there. And it was his stuff. He was fine moving on. He just wanted to get his stuff. And so, we're like, “Yeah man, you can get your stuff. Go for it”. He said, “Aw, thanks, man. Thanks, man”. Gary actually couldn't help himself and he asked the guy, he's like, “Hey man, I'm just curious. You said, your friend lived here and we noticed there's poop everywhere but there's no poop in the bathroom. Why is there no poop in the bathroom? I'm just curious”. And the guy says, “Oh, man, that's where we smoke our crack. We can't poop in there. It will smell on everything”. So, they would rather poop everywhere else in the house but the bathroom. It was super weird, man. That was one of the “Welcome to real estate” moments.

Seth: Man, was that early on in your civil wholesaler career or had you been there for a while?

Jaren: I think it was like the first or second day.

Seth: Yeah man, that's nuts. Isn't it crazy? Maybe I and the average person listening to this is just kind of sheltered. We just have certain standards that are normal, but it is crazy how some people live. Can you imagine being that guy and being like, “This is okay? This is normal for me to live like this”.

Jaren: I mean I've seen so many other houses like that too. There was a house in Fountain Square Indianapolis, which Fountain Square is a really nice up and coming area and they had a back room. There was a tenant occupied and it had a backroom that was blocked off. And then I went back there and there's just poop everywhere. And I'm like, “Hey, what's up with this?” And they're like, “Oh, we just let the dogs go poop and pee in that back room during the winter so that they don't get cold”.

Seth: That's unbelievable. Yeah, man. I mean drugs must be involved with that. I mean, can you think of a reason why a normal mentally coherent person would just do that? I mean, I don't know.

Jaren: I think it's when you grow up in a hoarder type situation and filth, you're just accustomed to it. You just don't know what cleanliness feels like.

Seth: Actually, I had a college roommate who I don't know if his parents were hoarders necessarily, but very, very messy people. I had been to his house a few times and it was just like, “Holy cow, there's so much junk everywhere”. But he was not like that. It's almost like he saw the problem and he's like, “This isn't okay. I'm going to be clean in my life”. So, I don't know. Who knows? Who knows? But it is kind of crazy how some people live.

Jaren: Human psychology is very, very complicated. Trying to figure out why people do what they do, it's really, really complicated.

Seth: It's very true. Now that we've heard that horror story, what was your best deal to date and what made it so good?

Jaren: Yeah, it was the one that I talked about on the previous interview. At first, we did it on YouTube and then you started the podcast and I think you used it for the podcast.

Seth: Was that episode 10? I think that was episode 10.

Jaren: I think so. Yeah. And that one was the best deal ever. It was just the stars aligned and Brett had some land property that he had acquired. And then he and I had a deal in total that we had one buyer that wanted to buy everything. And on our properties that we had gotten, I think it was like over 200 acres and the details are starting to get fuzzy now. I'm sure I said what they were in the episode. But what happened was this timber company decided to do a double close on this, like crazy huge property. So, Brett says to date that was the most he ever made in one single transaction and I made $38,000.

Seth: Yeah. And that was part of the deal, right?

Jaren: Yeah. That was just a part of the deal. Yeah. It was just insane. That changed my life and gave me seed money for really growing the business. You get deals in land that just don't happen in other types of real estate investing strategies.

Seth: I can attest to that.

Jaren: It's crazy. Like the home runs are really home runs in land.

Seth: Were you guys looking for land when you do the deal or did it just happen to come up as you were looking for houses?

Jaren: The property that he bought, another wholesaler brought to him and he's like, “All right, Jared has been talking about this land thing. Let me see if I can take a crack at it”. And I had just started marketing for my property. So, I think I had done three deals before that one, something like that. Two or three deals. And at the time, again, because of my loyalty to Simple Wholesaling and all that, like I was completely fine exclusively partnering with Brett on all the deals that I brought in. And that's what I was planning on doing. So, I think we had done about two or three deals before that one. It completely changed my life, man.

Seth: Yeah, man, that's awesome. That's really cool that you were able to have such a big win early on. For me, it took me like a few years to find one like that and it's not necessarily normal, but it's pretty awesome that you could see it right at the outset. So, what was the worst deal you've ever done? Did you lose money and how did that all happen?

Jaren: So probably the worst deal that I ever did was one that was also with Brett, unfortunately. We bought it. It was landlocked with easement access. I think it was like 24 acres or something. The front parcel that we had easement access on was another 6 acres. So overall it was about 30 acres or 32 acres I think total. And that was just a tough situation because we had bought it right but the easement problem, it was just hard to get over. And I didn't know how to get good land as a specialized real estate agent at the time and I didn't know how to move the property quickly. I was just really green to take on a project like that. And what we ended up doing was we bought the front parcel that was 6 acres for the same price that we bought the back. And so, we just had way too much money in the deal and it just took forever in a day to sell. I just walked out of the deal and gave it to Brett and let Brett recoup his losses on that as much as possible. But that was probably the toughest deal. I learned I'm pretty gun shy when it comes to landlocked properties, I think because of that. But you know what you're doing. I think landlocked properties are the source of some of the best deals in land.

Seth:  It’s all about getting it cheap man.

Jaren: Yeah, it's just getting it super, super cheap. And another one too. I always sell coaching clients because people ask me on discovery calls right before they become coaching clients with REtipster. They say, “What are the areas that I really have to watch out? What's the secret sauce to making this business work?” And I say it's two things. It's due diligence and it's direct mail. If you can wrap your head around doing marketing and you can wrap your head around due diligence, you're good. That's the 80/20 of it. Because due diligence is what has always bit me in the butt. By not understanding like, Oh, this road that's right next to my property is a private road. So, I bought it and I can't do anything with the property because without an easement access, I'm kind of screwed. Or I bought a property early on in Indiana that I thought was a great deal based on the comps. I bought it for $2,500 and then all of a sudden, literally the County told me you can barely have a hammock on this property. Like, there's nothing you can do with it. That one I just had to let go to the tax foreclosure because there was nothing, I could do with it. And I tried to sell it to the neighbor and yeah, long-short, there are bumps and bruises along the way, but you got to take your losses and learn from them. But the biggest thing for me is due diligence.

Seth: Yeah. That whole thing about losing money on deals and having the ones that basically aren't home runs or don't pan out the way you want. On one hand, you could sort of look at it the way I always have, which I don't necessarily think is healthy, but look at it in such a way of like, “Hey, I'm only going to go after home runs and it needs to do really well or I really screwed something up”. But on the same coin, it's like, and I heard this a lot in the banking industry too, it's some people will brag about, “Yeah, I've never done a loan that's lost money. I've always had a perfect track record”. But if that's true, that means you've missed a ton of opportunities. You've never taken a risk. You've never stuck your neck out and dared to be great. You look at the batting average of the best home run hitters in major league baseball. It's like they strike out way more than they ever get on base. It's not like having a bad deal is a sign of failure. It just means hey you're really pushing the envelope and trying to do good deals and that's going to happen eventually.

Jaren: Obviously if you can avoid it, avoid it. But there's something about struggle again man, when you taste failure, there's no better teacher.

Seth: Yeah. And I think that is one different thing about the land business. Because if we were talking about flipping houses where on every deal you got to take out, either put tons of cash down or take out a loan, then failing one time is a massive hit. That's a huge problem. With a land deal, if you lose a few hundred bucks or a few thousand bucks, it's like, yeah, that's a bummer. But it's not the end of the world.

Jaren: Yeah, again, it's one of the major benefits to land because you're buying it so cheap and so much undervalued. Even if the economy were to turn, you should be able to get what you bought the property for out of it, if you're buying right.

Seth: Yeah, totally. So, I'm curious, if you did not invest in real estate, say you never discovered the real estate business at all, say you never worked for Biggerpockets or Simple Wholesaling or REtipster. Where do you think your life would have taken you? What would you be doing today?

Jaren: I don't know man. My knee gut reaction says some kind of ministry or some kind of teacher, coach or something, a theology professor or something like that. I admire Jordan Peterson's life and his work. And I find what he gets to do every day, at least, being from the outside looking in really exciting and really fulfilling. I really love coaching. I think the thing that I get to do at REtipster that I enjoy the most is working with people and having them become successful. When I talk to people like Sean Callahan who's doing a crazy amount of deals and it's like really taken off, I don't know, that gives me a sense of fulfillment, it gives me a sense of purpose and like, “Wow, I'm actually making a difference with my life”. I think that it would be something related to teaching or coaching or pastoring or something like that.

Seth: Cool. And you're clearly wired to work with people. I mean you're a social person, you know how to have great conversations and help people think through problems and it's really cool to see you being able to really put that to good use. So, what's one of the more influential books you've read in your life?

Jaren: Man, there is a lot. Can I give three? Probably the first one that comes to mind is “Thou Shall Prosper” by Rabbi Daniel Lapin. That completely changed the way I look at money and the way I look at economics and the way that I relate to business because rabbi Daniel Lapin emphatically proves that business is 100% spiritual in nature. And that shift really helped me kind of reconcile this. Like, “Hey, I thought I was going to be doing ministry stuff but I'm doing business stuff. Where's my life calling in the midst of all that?” And that was a foundational life-changing book for me.

“Can't Hurt Me” by David Goggins. Anything from David Goggins, man. It's just his material has just really, really given me language and a context to teach some life lessons that I have learned with personal tragedies and stuff that we've gone through as a family. And I really, really liked that book.

And probably another one that was really impactful was “Man's Search For Meaning” by Viktor Frankl who is a psychologist who was sent to a Nazi concentration camp and studied because he couldn't help himself. He essentially just observed both his experience and the experience of torture victims and actually designed a new therapy for trauma victims, I guess. And I forget the name of it, but

Seth: Interesting. essentially the premise is that anybody who's gone through pain and trauma, if you can help them find purpose in it and a mission in it, you find meaning in the suffering, then that brings healing and that brings closure. It's not really about being happy. People don't really even want to be happy because happy is boring. People want to be on a mission.

Jaren: They want to have something to fight for. They want to have something to strive for and sacrifice for. So that book was really instrumental.

Seth: That is interesting. I never actually thought about that. So, I know what you mean. I feel like happiness is the thing that everybody is going after in life. But when I think about times in my life when I have been happy, I couldn't point to hardly anything that wasn't going right. There is something, I hate saying this, but there's something kind of boring about that. It's like now what? Okay, what now? I don't know. I feel awful saying that. I feel like that's a really spoiled snotty thing for me to say.

Jaren: But it's true.

Seth: But yeah, I think you're honest on that. It's like it needs to be a greater purpose or another person or something that you're living for. It's not just about being happy so to speak.

Jaren: Would you rather be in a spot where you had a mansion and a pool and anything you could ever want that money could buy? Or would you rather be Gandhi or Martin Luther King? For most people, I think that they would rather have their life be a person of significance. And that can look like providing for your family. A large portion of what it looks like for me is fighting and providing for my family. But I think that mission man and being mission-oriented and figuring out why you're here and why you're going the way you're doing is crucial for success.

Seth: Yes. I think anybody who's honest and who has achieved financial success and then have been able to buy things and stuff like that, you get like a really nice car and that's exciting for like…

Jaren: A day.

Seth: For a while. But at the end of the day, like it's just a car. You don't really need it. It's not like it’s going to be your legacy or anything. It's just a nice thing. But there's a lot more depth to a mission and yeah, that's interesting man.

So, we have sort of done this before on various other episodes where both Jaren and I answered the famous final three questions that we always ask people at the end of every show. But now we're going to hit Jaren with those. So, Jaren, first question, what is your biggest fear?

Jaren: My personality is very much achievement-oriented. Fear of failure or fear of not living up to my potential. I think in times past I said the fear of death, but I've been reciting that. I've been doing a practice every morning. When I remember, it's not perfect, but I have like a daily confession that I read out. And the first thing that it says is, “You're going to die, so make your life count”. I've been getting more acclimated to death. But my biggest thing is I'm afraid that despite my effort to be the fullness of what I'm capable of being, I'm going to miss out on my potential or fail at it. Or no matter the effort that I put in, it's not going to yield anything substantial or significant.

Seth: Yeah. I think people who meet their potential and actually live up to what they can really be is actually an incredibly rare thing. I think most people don't get there. Do you think this is any grant type three thing?

Jaren: A hundred percent. No, a hundred percent. I'm just hardwired for achievement, man. That's my personality. There are pros and cons to it. I could judge myself for it or I could just embrace the fact that this is how I'm wired, that I am to a fault the only way that I get any sense of personal satisfaction out of life or happiness or any of that is if I'm getting results and the things that I care about. And sometimes that's financially, but a lot of it is personal disciplines like working out or running or like calming my mind or growing. I put a ton of pressure on myself. I think it's my biggest strength and I think it's my biggest weakness. I think it's my Achilles heel, but it's also my superpower. I am obsessed with being the best that I can be.

Seth: Yeah. That's always a tough thing when you see somebody who has attributes, like, that everybody has them, they're just different for each person. But when somebody has that kind of double-edged sword where it's like there's something that makes them great, but it's also their downfall. Part of me wants to be like, “Hey, maybe you want to change that”. But the other part of me is like, “No, don't change that at all. That's what makes you amazing”. But it makes me wonder is there a point at which a good thing becomes bad. It makes me hesitant to ever look at anybody's attribute and say that's not a good thing because it's sort of is a good thing at the same time. It's just about whether it's a healthy version of that thing.

Jaren: I hundred percent agree, man. I think that people should double down on their strengths and then set up protection against their weaknesses. But don't reject them or judge yourself for them because that's stupid. It's unfruitful. It’s unproductive. I mean sure you could through a lot of effort maybe move like with my achievement thing. I could definitely do better at self-acceptance or having mercy for myself or grace for myself or whatever. But I could put all my effort and attention on trying to move the needle one step in that direction or I could just be like, “Whatever, this is who I am”. I understand that there are some drawbacks to this, but when the drawbacks come up, I can just recognize them for what they are and say, “Okay, it's unproductive. I get it. I need to put my efforts on having me thrive based on the way that I'm wired and tick”.

I think from our education standpoint, we base our education on the college model is to kind of have you be a jack of all trades. They want you to be a well-rounded human being and expose you to several different disciplines. I don't think that is the most productive way to educate somebody. I think that you should on the beginning of education, identify their strengths and then help them make their strengths a superpower. If somebody is really good at music or somebody is really good at math, they should double down on that and then get exceptional like world-class at it and don't worry English. Like you got software that can help you spell correctly.

Seth: Yeah. I think that's sort of the spirit behind like a liberal arts education. It's sort of known for doing a lot of different stuff. A lot of stuff that you don't necessarily need. But at the same time, it's like how do you know what you're going to be good at if you don't try a bunch of stuff? It's sort of the question of “When do you cut that off?” How much do you make somebody jump through these hoops before we just settle and be like, “Okay we're going to pick something now”?

Jaren: And that's where I think personality tests and the Enneagram test for whatever reason, that thing is probably the most impactful personality test I've ever taken.

Seth: Yeah, me too. And you can say that about anything too. Like sometimes I think about that with sports. There are so many different sports out there, tons of them, a lot of them are like obscure. You don't even really hear about them because they're so… Water polo or lacrosse or something like that. It's just not as big of a mainstream thing. But there could be somebody who would be the best lacrosse player ever, but because it's not a mainstream sport and they never had a chance to try it, we'll never know that. They're never going to reach their full potential. And that kind of stuff. If I think too much about that, it'll drive me crazy because I feel like, that's kind of what I mean when I talk about it's a rare thing for somebody to reach their full potential. Because it's a rare thing for somebody to get exposed to the right thing at the right time and actually latch onto that. Oh, well, that's what we give living in an imperfect world, I guess.

Jaren: Yeah, man. A hundred percent.

Seth: Okay. So the next question. What are you most proud of?

Jaren: My son. A hundred percent. For people who might not know, we had a stillbirth for our first-born daughter. She was born at 36 weeks and she is fully developed and it’s really tragic and it was really hard for us to get pregnant after that. We had a real hard time with infertility and a crazy journey. But, my wife, man, it's one of the most inspirational things I've ever been a part of. I saw her fight for my son's life and fight and fight and fight and fight every month, negative pregnancy tests, crying and tears and pain. I saw her just straight up come to this point where she's like, “I'm never going to stop trying. I'm going to go to this thing”. And a year and three days to the day that we lost our daughter, our son was born. And he just turned one year old and hands down, dude, the way we responded with our faith and losing our daughter and that whole journey, man, like, that's a hundred percent without question the thing I'm most proud of.

Seth: Yeah. Yeah, man, that's something worth being proud of. I can't really imagine the worst thing for somebody to have to go through, honestly, then what you did.

Jaren: It was intense.

Seth: I don't even want to know what that's like. That's just the thought of it is overwhelming, let alone having to go through that and then deal with it for months and months afterward. It's a very hard thing. I commend you guys for getting through it and figuring out, finding your way after that.

Jaren: And my wife is the champ man. I can only take partial credit because it's a whole lot easier to fight when you have a comrade or a partner who's in the fight with you.

Seth: Yeah. Do you think the birth of your son was a good healing agent for all of that?

Jaren: A hundred percent. You know how you are named after a child in the Bible who is a replacement for someone who died? I almost wanted to name my son Seth actually.

Seth: Oh, cool.

Jaren: It was very much like what the devil stole God restored tenfold. Kind of a thing. I just look at him and I'm just in awe and wonder.

Seth: That's an appropriate sense of on wonder for sure. I get the same thing. It’s a great part of the human experience I think for anybody who gets to go through that.

Jaren: I think it's the closest thing we get to experiencing unconditional love as humans.

Seth: I think so, except when they throw their food all over the floor, that's when the love it goes by the wayside.

Jaren: Even then man, it's like, “Ah, you stinker”. I know other people are broken and maybe, I know there are parents that have really failed expectations and stuff like that, as expectations of their kids and they haven't been there and stuff. But for me, it's almost like my son can do no wrong. The thing I'm most worried about is that he's going to grow up super spoiled because I just straight up tell him you're perfect. No, no, no, no, no, no. You're perfect.

Seth: Yeah. Actually, I heard that on a radio interview a while back. I don't even know why I was listening to this. This was like years before I had kids, but they were interviewing this author who wrote a book about parenting. And she was saying that a lot of parents, they push their kids really, really hard to always excel, always do better. And as a result, the message always comes across like not good enough, not good enough, try harder, do better. Like the love isn't there. It's not that they don't love their kids, they do, but the message is always just coming down on them. And she was saying it's really important to at some occasion sit down and just tell your kid, “You know what? You are good enough”. Just get that message across. Even if it's like, I know I come down on you, I yell at you, I want you to do better. Still, you're good enough. You don't need to be something else in order for me to love you. That's there. And some kids never hear that and it's kind of tragic.

Jaren: Yeah. There's the stream of Christianity that I subscribe to, there's this church called Bethel Church in Redding, California. And one of the pastors there wrote a book called “Loving Your Kids on Purpose”. And the whole premise of that book was really helpful. He says the most important thing that you can do as a parent is to maintain a heart to heart connection with your kids. There's a lot of grace for making terrible mistakes as a parent, as long as your kid knows emphatically that you love them. And as long as you can sustain that, I think everything else kind of figures itself out.

Seth: Yeah. Alrighty. So, third and final question, what is the most important lesson you have ever learned?

Jaren: We touched on it earlier that we shouldn't shy away from suffering. We should pursue suffering because when suffering is thrown on you and you've never experienced it before, that's when it can break you. But if you volunteer to suffer every day and it's like borrow from David Goggins, you commit to doing something that sucks every day, whether it's working out or fasting on a regular basis or taking cold showers or doing something where you can fight against that part of you that cries constantly for comfort and for safety and the easy route and you can combat that thing. That is the biggest thing that will help you become unbreakable and unbeatable. That's really the thesis of my life man, is that don't shy away from suffering.

Seth: Do you think there's ever a time where suffering serves no greater purpose? Like it's just useless pain?

Jaren: Yeah. I think if you're like tormented or rape happens or something tragic happens to you, but you can turn the suffering you don't have control of into fuel if you know how to use it. And committing to a daily practice or a lifestyle practice of controlled suffering will help you prepare for that. Because there's a lot of suffering and chaos and tragedy that happens to us in this world that especially here in America, we don't really like. Like we don't have a culture about mourning. When somebody dies, we don't know how to process it. They take off the body and try to cover it up really quickly and move on and we don't know how to deal with the tough, hard things in life emotionally. And I think that there's tons of suffering that serves no purpose except the purpose that it's there for you to overcome it.

Seth: So, it sounds like I feel like I'm hearing “yes” and “no”. There is suffering that serves no purpose, but you can turn it into fuel for something. Like, can you literally turn any suffering into good?

Jaren: I think so, yeah. But that's not to say that sometimes you have to kind of find it in yourself to overcome it. And sometimes literally the only reason why suffering is there, it's just so that you can beat it so that you can overcome and grow as a person. There's a lot of evil in the world that just happens. And I'm not making a justification for evil at all. Evil is evil. Sometimes things happen that are just wrong, a hundred percent. But you can choose how to respond to that wrong. A passion project of me and my wife that is on the shelf right now is called “Live to inspire”. And the thesis, we want to write a book about it and stuff like that one day. And the whole thesis is that when faced with suffering in our tragedy, you have a choice to make. You can become a victim or you can become an inspiration. And those are really the only two choices you have. So, it is true that there's random chaos of evil in the world, but how you respond to it determines whether it has a purpose or not.

Seth: Yeah.

Jaren: Heavy stuff, man. Why all my interviews always come out so heavy?

Seth: I don't know, man. Maybe I'm asking the wrong questions or something.

Jaren: I should just be like, “What's your greatest life purpose? - Work for Seth Williams and you'll be happy”. I think part of it is this kind of heavy stuff like that's just real life and a lot of people don't like talking about it. It's not comfortable. It's not socially acceptable. And I'm not somebody who's going to steer you away from that. If you want to talk about that stuff, I'm all here. I think it's a sign of our healthy dialogue here. The fact that we can go there and that's okay.

Jaren: Yeah, I guess I'm just ruined to fakery or trying to put a mask on. I value authenticity.

Seth: I feel like there's a lot of fakery on most podcasts out there. So hopefully listener, you aren't too depressed or anything like that from this conversation.

Jaren: No, you should be inspired, man. Like, go run a marathon.

Seth: Yeah, for sure. Alrighty, folks. Well, thanks for listening. I hope you guys enjoyed hearing more about Jaren's story. If you guys haven't already, in case you weren't aware, you can text to join our email list in case you want to stay up to date on the latest podcast episodes and other happenings at retipster.com. You can join that by texting the word “FREE”. F-R-E-E to the number 33777. And that's a wrap for today's episode. Thanks again for joining us and we will talk to you guys next time.

Jaren: Thanks, guys.

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About the author

Seth Williams is the Founder of REtipster.com - an online community that offers real-world guidance for real estate investors.

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