Are you looking to get started in real estate investing? You might learn a thing or two from today’s guest. Ashley Kehr is a real estate investor and the host of BiggerPocket’s Real Estate Rookie Podcast. Her real estate journey started when she began looking into ways to build her wealth and gain financial independence. In this episode, she chats with Craig Curelop and Zeona McIntyre about how she found, funded, and closed those first deals that led her to pursue real estate and achieve the financial freedom she always wanted. They discuss finding the right partner to fund deals, different ways to purchase properties, and tips on diversifying your portfolio to create a more secure future long-term. Learn how to define your financial goals, and don’t miss the golden nuggets from Ashley’s story by tuning in to this episode.
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How To Get Started In Real Estate Investing With Ashley Kehr
I’m good about that, but also, I’m potentially going on a helicopter tour. I’m here in Maui and I’ve got a friend that works at the helicopter place and she’s like, “We could probably get you on standby. Let’s see.” It’s fun to know that I have that.
We did a helicopter tour in Maui when we were there and it was absolutely amazing. We went to Molokai or Lanai or one of those. It was unreal. Grace’s phone background is a picture she took from that helicopter ride. Not to hype it up too much, but it was something else for sure.
That’s stunning. I’m not that into spending money, but certain experiences do stretch your mind. This is a mindset thing. Ashley, our guest, is going to talk about an exercise where she was writing these big checks and signing them for her boss. That was this mindset exercise. There are certain things that you can do that blow it open and you’re like, “There’s so much more.”
I love those mindset exercises. I know you are in Hawaii and neither of us are home right now. If you are in Hawaii, I arrived in Seattle for the FI teams’ inaugural meetup because the FI team is launching in Seattle. We are not leaving Denver. We’re still in Denver. If you’re in Denver or Seattle, definitely let us know.
If you’re looking for an investor-friendly realtor, someone to help you and guide and mentor you through that whole process of your house hack or investment journey, come hit us up. We’re so happy to help. We love adding people to the community and spreading this word of financial independence all the way around the country. Ashley is on the other side of the country. We’re on all parts of the country right now. We’ve got Hawaii, West Coast, and East Coast with Ashley. Let’s bring her on.
Ashley Kehr, welcome to the show. How are you doing?
Very good. I’m coming to you guys live from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, at a self-storage conference.
I am so mad at you, Ashley, because we literally left Coeur d’Alene for Seattle and we didn’t get to see each other. People don’t like to see Coeur d’Alene that often.
I was in contact with your wife and she made sure to let me know when you had already left the state to text and say that I had arrived.
She is very smart. You guys did it well. Ashley, I’m super excited to have you on. For those that don’t know you. You’re the host of the BiggerPockets’ Rookie Podcast, and I’m excited to get into your story, but any of good story. Let’s start at the beginning as to where you first heard about financial independence.
The first place that I heard about it was on Instagram, Dave Ramsey. I’m following accounts that were about paying off debt and people who were Dave Ramsey fan girls and stuff. I read the book Money Makeover. That’s what it’s called now, the Dave Ramsey one. I was like, “I’m going to do this. I’m going to pay off my debt.” I had student loans. We own farm equipment to pay off both of our vehicles and then a line of credit from building our house.
This was about the end of 2016 and 2017 when I started digging into this, and I built out my Excel spreadsheet with the loans that I had and the debt payments. Every week, I would sit down and be like, “If I put this much towards this debt, I did the snowball effect to pay that off.” That’s where it started. I never budgeted or cared about paying off loans. I was always very adamant, like never having credit card debt or paying your credit card debt. My parents were strict about that.
I want to say I can’t believe it was that short of a time frame. It seems like with what you have going, and I don’t even know too much about your story, so I’m excited to hear everything, but it’s like, you’d think that took decades. I love that people can see like, “She had a farm and equipment, which we never hear about either and a lot of debt.” Now, you’ve got a whole empire and a big business. Let’s hear more about it, but I want to say kudos. That’s amazing.
Thanks. I had actually started investing in real estate before I even learned about financial independence. I worked for another investor as a property manager. I’m like, “If he can buy properties, so can I.” I partnered with his son. By 2016 and 2017, I had several rental properties already. I started using the cashflow from those properties to help pay off my debt. That’s how I accelerated. There’s a big opinion from a lot of people as to whether you pay off debt first or you start investing first. In my case, it worked out to start investing and then use that cashflow. I was also buying no money down deals. I was using a money partner, so that helped with that situation, then I was the property manager. I put a lot of time into the properties.
By the time 2016 and ‘17, how many properties did you actually have?
I believe I had five duplexes then.
Were you analyzing these deals? Were you buying these intentionally because this must have been before you heard about BiggerPckets or all that stuff?
BiggerPockets I found out about in 2017 and after diving into the forums, learning about creative financing, and all these different things, I actually tripled my portfolio in a year and a half right after finding BiggerPockets. I went from 5 to 15 units after realizing there are different ways to do it than how I was doing it. That helped me accelerate, plus I had paid off my debt, so I had more money that had been going to monthly payments, too, to start investing.
We’re going to do things a little differently here because you are one of the atypical people that started investing in real estate before they even found out about financial independence. Let’s take it back to whenever that first deal was because we want to get into that for real deal, which is the first deal that you do as a real estate investor. Let’s get into how you found out, how you financed it, and all that stuff.
I worked for this investor who, when he would purchase properties, would actually go and refinance one property and then use that money to buy another business or property. I always saw offers in cash. I never saw him going to a bank and saying, “I want to purchase this investment property. I need a loan.” My limited belief was that you needed cash to purchase a property. No matter where you got that cash from, that’s how you bought an investment property.
His son, I had been childhood friends with him, and I approached him. I was like, “Look at what your dad is doing. You should be doing this and talking to him.” I found a deal, a duplex, in an area where I grew up and I was managing other properties in that area. I brought it to him and I said, “Look at this.” He’s like, “I’m in. I trust you. Let’s do it.” He put up all of the money to purchase the property. We did a 50/50 split and we also set it up.
He was the mortgage holder on the property. Instead of him investing his capital into the property, it was set up on a repayment plan. We amortized it over 15 years and he was making 5.5% interest. Every month, he would get 50% of the cashflow and then also a mortgage payment and make 5.5% on the money he invested into the deal.
I love how you guys created multiple streams there. Can you tell us what you purchased it for, what the mortgage was, and how you guys rented it out?
At first, we had put his cash in and I believe it was around $70,000. We paid for the property and then we ended up selling it five years later for $110,000. They worked out nicely with that appreciation, but I don’t exactly remember the monthly payment for him because we’ve refinanced out of that and used his cash elsewhere. I believe the payment was around $500 to $600 a month. The bottom was already rented out, and then the upstairs, we did %5,000 of remodeling into it. He was house hacking at that time and he had somebody living with him and said, “You don’t have to pay me rent for the next three months if you do the remodel on this property.”
That works out great for me, too, if we didn’t have to pay anyone to do the labor in that remodel. It’s another benefit he brought. When we did that remodel, we were able to rent each unit for $600, so we were bringing in $1,200 from the property. It sounds great with only the mortgage being $500 to $600, but that didn’t include insurance and property taxes. The property taxes in New York State are high.
After all of our expenses, we were only cashflowing about $150 per month on this property, but it was no money into the deal for me. He was getting all of his money back plus the 5.5% too. It was a good first deal. It definitely wasn’t a home run at all. When I ran the numbers, I forgot to include snow plowing in my expenses. That does eat away. We live in Buffalo, so obviously, there’s snow. That was one mistake I made on the deal.
Most people go to someone for a down payment. You saw that you were in a cheaper market and you were able to find someone to finance the whole thing. I think it’s a traditional mortgage on it almost. Fifteen-year and 5.5% maybe is a little more expensive than a traditional one, but that’s great. You were able to find this person because you built a relationship with him through that property management company. Is that right?
I was working for his dad and we had been friends growing up. We lived right next door to each other, so I knew the family since I was two. I already had that relationship with them and then when I had quit my accounting job, the dad said, “I need somebody to manage his property.” That’s how I started working. Part-time doing that and then seeing what he was doing. I only worked for this one investor and was his property manager.
Z, you got anything?
How did you find it? Did you find this on the MLS or were you doing creative stuff to get these properties?
I found it on the MLS. It was the first and only property I looked at. It was half a mile away from the apartment complexes I was managing, so I knew the area super well. I knew what I could rent it for. I knew about what expenses to expect, except for snow plowing, obviously, but I felt comfortable in the area. I ran basic numbers and basically wrote out on a piece of paper, “Here’s what the income could be.” I’m writing out what my expenses and what the mortgage payment would be to my partner and like, “We’ll have some money left over. Let’s go and buy it.”
At this point, you were pretty privy to all the benefits that real estate offered you. Did you realize the property was going to appreciate and did you realize the tax benefits and all that good stuff or were you like, “real estate seems a good idea,” and blindly go into it?
I did go to school for Accounting and Finance, so I understood the tax benefits of it. That was definitely something that, not that I was making a ton of money at that time that needed any tax benefits, but I was looking down the road that I would. With the appreciation from watching this other investor pull all this equity out of other properties that he had held for a while, I saw the value in that. His main business was auto dealerships. When I started working for him, he was acquiring a new auto dealership and he let me tag along the whole process with him. On the day of closing, he had me sit at the attorney’s office and writing out these huge checks to pay for this business.
He had me help him do the refinance on one of his apartment buildings so that he could get the cash. I then saw how he transferred the cash to the other entity, as a loan and then how he was paying it out to purchase this property. The fact that he let me go through this whole journey with him is how he did this was helpful. The most beneficial thing was sitting at that closing table and writing out that check for that huge amount of money, and I was the one that was signing it and handing it off. That showed me the power of real estate and how it can get you into so many other things.The most beneficial thing was sitting in at that closing table and writing out that check for that huge amount of money. That really showed the power of real estate and how it can get you into so many other things. Click To Tweet
That feels like an exercise and mindset. You’re like, “Here, I’m going to write this $100,000 check or $1 million check.” That seems cool. I’m curious. Are the next five similar to how you found it and how you set it up? Should we jump ahead or do you want to do the very next one, Craig because I feel like she’s got a lot of beans in the bag?
We could talk to Ashley here all day and we still wouldn’t get all the information in her brain. Ashley, I love how you did it creatively. Maybe you had money, but you didn’t use any of your own money to do it. You leveraged relationships and leveraged your experience. How did you leverage that into then five other properties before you even heard about financial independence? Clearly, you knew you wanted to grow it for some reason.
The next thing was that we bought right down the street, so two houses down, another duplex was not for sale. They’re like, “We got to buy this one now.” He went and got a home equity loan on his house, my partner, and then we used that funds to purchase the second house. After that, we refinanced and did a portfolio loan on both of those properties to buy the third property. He then went and got a line of credit on his house. We used that to buy the forest property.
We used the refinance money that we pulled out to buy the fifth property. That was how those deals worked. They were all MLS deals. Nothing exciting is off-market. After that, we went and there was this commercial building for sale. I called the number and the guys asked me weird questions about it. He’s like, “This property is owned by my dad. He owns ten other properties in the area and he needs to sell them all. Would you to look at them?” That’s how I found the first portfolio that I purchased off-market.
Let’s rewind it back real quick, going from 1 to 5 with your partner. You basically kept reusing money. Did you do value add stuff like voice appreciation or were you taking advantage of the market and what it was doing in those years?
We were doing basic cosmetic updating like that first unit with the $5,000. The biggest expense was putting in a Mitsubishi split unit for the AC and the heat in it. We then did some new flooring and a couple of cabinets in it. It was cosmetic updating, but we were purchasing so below market because there were not a ton of investors in that area. At this time, it was only 2013 and 2014 and we didn’t have a ton of competition. We were the only offers on all of our houses.
Different times for sure. Maybe we’re getting back into these times. I’m noticing that the market is softening and become a little easier for buyers these days. You mentioned that your partner brought the money for this one. It was that same dynamic where he brings the money, you do the work for this whole five. You basically have five properties with $0 down.
For me, with $0. I had no money into the deals and then, since we refinance on them, he was able to get his money back. It’s not like he kept the amortization going for fifteen years. We refinanced out and now there’s a small loan payment from our LLC that’s paid to him every month.
At this point, you pay your investor back first before you start taking money out yourself. Is that how that works?
Yes. After that, we split the cashflow 50/50, but we don’t take any money out anyways. About 3 to 4 times a year, he goes to Vegas and asks how the bank account is doing and if he can refinance. That’s the only time he takes a draw.
When you go into Vegas, do you have one of those big fun expenditures?
The only time I’ve gone to Vegas is actually with him, but I haven’t been in a long time. His thing definitely is going to Vegas.
Z, do you have anything that you want to add or say?
I’m assuming you still have them. Are you holding on to these? What’s the play for you?
Of those first units, we sold the first one. We kept the 2nd one and we sold the 3rd one. The 4th one, we still have, and then we sold the 5th one. After that, we bought a six-unit together. We still have that. We haven’t done any more deals since then. As of right now, he has invested in a house flip with me. He’s also funding a short-term rental that I’m rehabbing. No more equity in deals because he got a great deal. He got 50% of the cashflow, 5.5% on his money, and he doesn’t have to do anything. I’m not doing those deals with him anymore. When I do deals now, I have three main partners. I look at, who is this most suitable for? What can I bring to the table and which one of my partners can bring what I need for this deal to the table?Look at who is most suitable and what can you bring to the table? Which one of your partners can bring what you need for this deal? Click To Tweet
Each one of those partners has a different thing they’re good at. You have another thing you’re good at, so you’re always able to put the pieces together. Is that right?
Do we need to bring any money? Who has money right now to even bring to the table for this deal? That’s a huge factor too. If there is going to be time that needs to be put into the deal, who has the time to help with something? Those factors come into play or who’s not annoying me this week and bothering me?
That’s why you must have never asked me.
My brothers sent a text. I saw it pop up and I know it’s him asking for his K1 that I haven’t sent him yet. That’s my fault, though, because I got that and haven’t sent it to him.
We’ve got a pretty good understanding of how you got started. How did you accelerate so fast? You’re building and buying 5 properties in 3 or 4 years from now. What was that inflection point for you?
I was finding BiggerPockets because when I bought that portfolio of properties. I ended up buying seven of them. If I hadn’t found BiggerPockets, there’s no way I can spend this much money on these properties. I don’t know where I’ll get it from a bank. I don’t think it’ll give me a loan for this much. The properties needed a lot of work to them. The rents were low and it wasn’t an appetite thing to a bank. Finding BiggerPockets, I realized, “I have this one rental property that me and my husband had.” It was our old house that we used to live in. That property, we ended up turning into a rental when we built our new house.
We owned that pretty and clear and we ended up putting a line of credit onto that investment property. That’s how I funded half of the deal and then I was able to negotiate seller financing for the other half of the deal. We did a one-year term for 12 months seller financing at 7% interest only. During that time, I’d raise the rent, fixed it up a little bit, and then I went and refinanced with a bank. Definitely, finding different ways to purchase deals has been a huge advantage to me. I don’t have to put in my own money anymore and use partners for money specifically.Finding different ways to purchase deals is a huge advantage. Click To Tweet
I love how you’re able to get creative there. Always asking the seller to seller financing work, oftentimes the seller wants some lump sum of cash. If you were able to take a couple of hundred grand out from a HELOC or something like that, those are always the numbers in my head because that’s my market. Maybe in your cheaper market, it’s $50,000 or whatever it is. You give them that big lump sum, but then they can finance the rest, so they’re still getting monthly payments from that and they still may like that. Did you have any plan B? What if, in one year, the market tanks or you weren’t able to refinance and get him his money back? What would have happened?
No idea. At that time, it was like, “This will work out. I know what I’m doing.” It came down to the day. The day the loan was due was the day that I closed on the loan. I overnighted the check to him and the next day, he called me. He was like, “I didn’t get it. I haven’t gotten it and stuff.” I actually called his local post office and talked to the postmaster and I was like, “I sent this. I had a tracking number on it. It says it was delivered.”
The person is saying, “I’m going to drive out there right now to this property. I’m going to figure this out because you’re right. It does say delivered and he’s not getting it.” The postmaster drove to his house. He lives in some community where you have the mailboxes out front and he thought it was going to be delivered to his door. He never went to check his mailbox, where they have everyone’s house in that community, the mailboxes and the road. I’ve got to tell you, I don’t think I’ve ever sweated so much my whole life that day.
Do you think he would’ve come after you?
He wasn’t mean, but I could tell you he was disappointed in me and I feel like what hurts me more is someone being disappointed in me than someone being mean to me. It’s a funny story. His son and I have become good friends and he’s become my broker now for commercial deals. We’ve maintained that family relationship.
I have to say I had a private lender that was a friend. I remember one time, for some reason, the bank didn’t send the check or it got lost in the mail. It was so stressful because I don’t use a lot of private money, but I have the same thing. I want people to be able to depend on me. My relationships are so important that him being disappointed that I messed up somehow, even though it was a random bank error. It was really intense. That’s so brave to be able to work with other people’s money for that reason alone.
That’s one thing that I don’t like to be responsible to other people and I avoid it because I’m in a good position to raise money having the BiggerPockets platform and things that. I feel the same, but I don’t want to be responsible for anyone. I have to overcome that fear eventually because I’m not going to be able to go on a scale anymore if I don’t do that.
That’s definitely something that’s holding me back. If I make an error or mistake, it hurts me. It doesn’t hurt anybody else. The three business partners that I do have, I was friends with them for a long time. I’ve made them a lot of money. I’ve built up their not worth. At this point in time, if there was a mistake that happened, they’re not going to care or be disappointed in me. They’re like, “It would be fine and we would move on.”
For somebody giving me their money for the first time and a mistake or something were to happen, I also have a lot of freedom and flexibility. If there comes something like, “If I do this now, I have to miss out on something with my kids. If I do it tomorrow, it’s going to cost another thousand dollars or something, but I get to do that with my kids.”
I’m going to take that. I’m probably going to eat that cost because it’s me paying it. If it’s other people investing in the deal, I would have to miss out on my kids and do that thing. I wouldn’t cost anybody else money because I delayed. That ruins that flexibility and freedom for me. That’s still something I’m trying to figure out. It’s how much I want to involve other people in the deals that I’m doing because it does give you those restraints.
Balance is key. You can’t let real estate run your life. You have to let your life run your real estate. We’re all doing this for financial independence. Most people aren’t doing this to get a high net worth. That will be a byproduct, for sure. It’s spending more time with your kids, your husband, or on the farm if that’s what you to do. It’s all that good stuff.
One thing I love about you and this whole story here is that you made this sound easy. I feel like anyone at this point is like, “I’m going to go out, make relationships, and go use other people’s money.” What are some of the hard things that happen? What are some of the mistakes that you may have made in those early days and how did you navigate those?
Becoming a property manager was actually hard for me. I did not deal with tenants, complain about other tenants, or tenants complain about anything. I couldn’t handle that. That was super stressful for me. I was having a conversation with the investor I worked with for a couple of months about this, where an issue came up with one of his properties and I took care of it for him.
I still do some work for him. I was like, “Isn’t it amazing how much I’ve changed from when I first started working with you?” I would feel attacked personally if someone complained about something at the apartment complex. It would tear me down and I would get into defense mode. Now I’ve had to learn over the years how to handle that.
I’ve definitely learned and grown a lot personally, but in the beginning, that was a huge struggle for me. If someone needed maintenance, it needs to happen right away. Even if it was their own home, they’re not getting a contractor out there at 6:00 AM on a Saturday to fix something that they can still use everything. It’s not a huge deal. I had to learn how to not take things personally, but I made a lot of mistakes. I wasn’t great at tenant communication at all, and analyzing the deals, like I made the mistake with the snow plowing. I didn’t know a ton about rehab or construction. When I bought my four-unit, it was two commercial units at the bottom and two residential upstairs.
I got a great deal on the property, but we went way over budget on rehab and it still ended up being a great deal. That was my first time doing a huge, full-blown gut rehab. The biggest struggles for me were the property management then handling the tenants. Maybe if I had somebody else that was the front person, I was more behind the scenes and I wasn’t actually interactive with the tenants because now I have a property management company that I outsource everything to.
Managing the rehab and staying on timelines has always been a huge struggle for me and it’s hard. If you are trying to get started, especially now, since the market is changing, it is going after those properties. You don’t need a ton of work. You’re buying them undervalued. The first property that I bought with my second partner had a couple of properties on his own. We bought the property for $35,000 or $39,000.
We put in a new fridge. The fridge cost $800. We did nothing else to the property. Once we closed on it, we immediately started the refinance process. Two weeks later, after we closed on it, an appraiser came out and it appraised for $55,000. That $800 fridge got me over $20,000. That’s how I started out. I was buying under market and committing low offers. I was also in very rural areas where there wasn’t a ton of competition. Being in that niche helped me too.
I love how you take advantage of your situation at hand. You’re in a cheaper area and you’re in a rural area. Usually, those go hand in hand. You’re able to find someone that can easily finance your deals as well as fine under-market deals with less competition. You’re not seeing the thousands of dollars of cashflow per property that we might see in Denver or some of these other properties. Even the hundreds of thousands of dollars of appreciation, you can stack these units up.
You’re doing the low volume approach. I want to talk a little bit about opportunities. When an opportunity presents itself, you need to be ready to take that opportunity. There are things like the BiggerPockets’ Rookie Podcast. There is a bunch of other stuff that you’ve done. Obviously, not everybody can be like, “I want to be the co-host of the BiggerPockets new show.” How do you take advantage of these opportunities when they present themselves? How do you prepare yourself for those?
Honestly, I struggle with this so much because I feel like I do have a lot of opportunities presented to me because of the BiggerPockets podcasts and the people I network with. It’s like, “Should I be doing more? Should I be doing something different because of these different opportunities? I have to sometimes realign myself and say like, but what do I want? Just because the opportunity is there doesn’t mean that it’s a good fit for you, or it’s going to end up being an opportunity that might be more of a burden for you. I look at them and figure out like, “Is this something that I actually want to do or am ing that I should do it because the opportunity is there?” That has been a struggle for me, but staying aligned with how I want my life to look like and finding those opportunities that align with that.Just because the opportunity is there doesn't mean that it's a good fit for you, or it's going to end up being an opportunity might actually be more of a burden. Click To Tweet
This sounds like a great time to take a break. Craig, do you want to hop in and give us a little ad?
If you didn’t already know, I am sitting in Seattle as we record this show. Because of that, the FI team is now going to Seattle. If you are an investor looking for an investor-friendly realtor to help you with your house hack or your investment property, definitely hit us up. Go to TheFiTeam.com/Seattle, fill out the form, and we’ll get in touch with you as soon as possible. Now let’s get back to the show.
Where do we go from here? What happens next in your world? You keep building and what are you wanting out of it? I’m excited to hear your why because this is something I have to reorganize all the time. I’m not necessarily someone who wants 1,000 doors. That’s not in my makeup. When you see everybody else around you and they’re counting their worth based on the number of doors they have, it’s easy to get lost in that.
It means it’s nothing. You could have 1,000 doors and not be cashflowing anything. You could have 1,000 doors and cashflowing $1,000 each door, but you also invested $10 million into those properties of your own money. That’s not a great comparison for apples to apples. I finally realized that, too, because I used to have in my Instagram bio how many doors I had.
I thought that was something as to how well you knew real estate. Honestly, when people ask me that, I have to count on my fingers how many units I have. Even right now, I could not give you the exact number because it’s not worth putting that number into my brain anymore. I’m pushing it out. Next for me is right now, with my current partner Darrell, we’ve been working on purchasing land with cabins.
We’re in the middle of renovating those and do them as short-term rentals. We’re focusing on areas that are not too far from the city of Buffalo, so it’s easy to get to for families that live in Buffalo. We like these places where families come to get out of the city for a little bit, then we’re also purchasing properties with either land for hunting, or there is state land nearby that allows hunting and then hiking and things like that. That’s what we’re currently working on. We’re also trying to pursue a campground right now. Our main focus is getting a campground.
I feel like you’re hopping. You’re doing a lot of different things. I know you’ve got a liquor store that you did at one point. You’ve got your duplex and trifles. You’ve got this land and short-term rentals. I hear all the time stay in your lane. It doesn’t sound like you’re staying in a lane. Why are you doing it this way?
I 100% like it, especially as a rookie starting out. We always say this too. It’s like, “Pick one path and go on it. Build your foundation.” My long-term buy and hold state is my foundation. That is the majority in my portfolio, but I also think it’s great to diversify. Buying a duplex in my area, in the market I invest in, I can do that in my sleep. That is nothing for me. It gets boring and mundane. I’m still doing that to keep that solid foundation. Now that I’ve become very experienced in that and can do it pretty easily, I’m shifting and pivoting into, “What’s next for me because I want to have that diversification in my portfolio as a whole?”
The campground will actually be run like our short-term rentals are. The one we’re pursuing right now has 28 cabins on it. The cabins will have key code blocks on them. There won’t be somebody to check you in. If you pull up to an RV resort now, get your key, and go to your cabin, you’ll get your message like Airbnb operates. You’ll get your key code the day of. You’ll go to the cabin, you’ll do the key code to get in, and then you’re on your own for the rest of the thing. You’ll have what you need there and then you check yourself out. It’s cutting down on having employees and having staff. We would need a groundskeeper and then a cleaner to come in.
There’s also a store on the property where we could have somebody operate the store every once in a while. That’s how the cabins tie into a campground. We would run them very similarly as short-term rentals. That’s me pivoting because I want to diversify and I don’t want to have the same portfolio in case something does happen with long-term buy and hold rental where they’re not worth any value, but they are a pretty safe investment. Diversifying and staying on my second path, I guess.You want to diversify and not have the same portfolio in case something happens with long term buying home rentals. Click To Tweet
That’s super important too. It is to have, 1) The foundation. That’s the most important thing, but 2) You got to stay interested. Otherwise, you’re going to get bored and burn out. What is keeping that fire going? It sounds like you love all types of real estate and learning and figuring out. I’m sure you’re going to make a mistake at a mistake. You’re probably way more efficient if you wanted to buy all the duplexes in Buffalo. You’ll probably make more money, but it’s not about that.
I spent a year figuring out campgrounds. It is what I wanted to go after next. I knew it was time to pivot and change things up because I was getting bored and it wasn’t exciting or passionate for me anymore. It’s funny. I was like, “Should I do self-storage? Should I do mobile park?” Everything that our friends are doing, I attended a conference on it to see if it was for me. I then had my epiphany talking to some friends and they’re like, “Campgrounds is what gets you excited. You actually know a lot about them already.” That’s when I decided. It wasn’t like I woke up one day and said, “This is what I want to do.” I took a full year to figure out this is how I’m going to pivot.
Sharpening the axe is so important.
I want to also highlight that diversification happens in a lot of different ways. It’s cool that you’re doing it with different strategies. You’re doing full different types of real estate, but people can do diversification through doing short, medium, and long-term. They can do diversification by buying in multiple states. I own in four states. There are all kinds of ways to look at it because it sounds like the bulk of your portfolio is in New York, if not all of it. That’s the way that you’re making it a little diversified. It’s interesting to see how different people slice it so that we’re safer in these markets.
Ashley, at this point in time, as we got your story from duplex property manager, finding BiggerPockets, using partners, scaling, to now having campgrounds, liquor stores, and all that good stuff, what does your portfolio look like now? You don’t need to tell us the units, but what types of properties do you have? If you have a ballpark up, what your passive income is if you don’t mind sharing that?
I have about 30 units that are either duplexes and single-family. I have a couple of triplexes and then I have a four-unit building, which has my liquor store in it and that’s my commercial building. In 2021, we acquired a farm that has three rental units. We’re using the farmland to extend our current farm and using it for crops and stuff like that. That’s been a unique experience and we actually did that deal subject to. I based off of that. As far as my passive income a month, it changes so rapidly. I couldn’t even give you a number. For this month, for example, I got a text that my one water bill for a property was three times the amount that it usually is.
It ended up that there was a small gasket that was loose by the water meter and it had been leaking out for three months straight. The tenant never noticed and the meter is down in the basement. Things like that. I honestly have no idea. I’ve never taken any money from my investments. It paid off all of my debt and then I took some money to take my kids on vacation and buy a couple of things. Other than that, it all gets reinvested into doing rehabs now. I fund almost all my rehabs with it, so I never even take any passive money out of it.
I cycle through it.
Where does your money come from, then?
The podcast. I live very well below my means from the farm income. I’ve pretty much always lived on the farm income. We never used any of the money that I have used to live off of. A great thing about paying off debt is that we live off of that income. My income has always been to invest and stuff reinvest. Even index funds too, but mostly real estate.
What are the crops that you’re selling?
We don’t sell crops. We take the crops and we use them to make seeds for our cows. We have dairy cows. We do sell hay every once in a while. That’s the only, and then sometimes silage and things like that. We’ll sell if we have an extra amount, but the crops are mostly to feed the cows.
Craig has cows now, so maybe you should get the download. It maximizes the dairy cow.
I have no idea about anything. I don’t know anything about it.
We have to talk to your husband about how we get the most out of our cow. We’ll bring him on the next episode for farm hacking.
It’s actually like science. He has a nutritionist for the cows and everything like that. He’s very involved. When they sell their milk to the milk company, they test it and stuff. The butter and the quality of the milk, he gets bonuses on top of his pay and everything like that. He is very into how well they’re producing because it does affect how much the milk company will pay for the milk too.
There’s a whole level that I had no idea about. Do you know what type of music those cows like to listen to that he can share?
It must be country music because that’s all he plays in the barn.
Before we pivot, I want to hear what is it all for if all you do is save that money there. Are you saving for retirement? What’s the point if you’re not spending it and if you live so frugally?
I’m not living frugally. I don’t have any expenses, I guess. At first, it was about having money and then I realized for myself that wasn’t a motivator to me at all. It was what money could do for me as to the time freedom. Being able to drop my kids to school every week, not having to work W-2 and all these different things. It’s the peace of mind and not having to worry. That is a huge thing for me. It is being able to sleep at night. My income from BiggerPockets is a decent amount. I’ve done boot camps for them.
I’ve done YouTube videos. It’s not like I’m living off $20,000 of income here, but the farm has always made enough money to support how we wanted to live, especially after we paid off that. When we had that debt, though, it was hard. We were normal. We lived month to month based on our expenses. I wasn’t making a ton as a property manager. The fact that we haven’t upgraded anything. We live in a 2,100-square-foot ranch house that we’ve built.
It’s nothing super amazing. We’ve had our cars paid off and I purchased the nicest car I’ve ever bought. There’s finally an expense that I have that I’m responsible for paying for, but my husband’s car is paid off. All of our farm equipment is paid off. I just want to have a secure future. Maybe one day, I do want to sell my portfolio or I do want to go and refinance, take that money, and buy a huge house. I don’t know. For me, it’s looking at the assets and the equity and being like, “Worst case scenario, I can pull money out of all of these things and I have security, I guess.”
Did you buy that Tesla?
No, I got a Jeep Wagoneer.
I don’t even know what that is. Is that fancy?
It was the most expensive car I ever bought.
We’ll pretend that Ashley is now living high on the hog.
I live in the bougie life now.
Bougie life with your Jeep, your Chanel person, and all that stuff.
That’s another thing. I don’t even own a purse. When my business partner comes to me on trips, I make him put my stuff in his pocket. I have a Carhartt backpack that I carry around.
Ashley, we’re going to head into the final part of our show, but before we do you have any parting words of wisdom for all the readers?
If you are a rookie investor, one way that I got started was because I worked for this other investor and I got a lot of resources out of that. I was connected with a lot of people in his net worth. If you have some time or you’re looking for a new job, try to get one that’s in the real estate industry. Maybe it’s even being a leasing agent on Sundays or something and you get connected to how showings worth, what a lease agreement looks like, and things like that.
Also, building that net worth and that network and those connections. He did all of his refinances with this one loan officer in the bank and they would have me send all the forms and everything. I was super on top of it. I would send things immediately and they would be so thankful and stuff. When it came time for me to start doing loans and refinancing, I had no problem working with this bank because they had already built this relationship with me, even though I wasn’t the lender on the deal. Finding ways to grow your net worth before you are even investing can be a huge advantage.Finding ways to grow your network before you are even investing can be a huge advantage. Click To Tweet
I love that advice. Grow your network then your net worth will grow after that. Are you ready to get into the final four?
Ashley, what are you reading right now?
I am reading The Hidden Habits of Genius. I started on the plane ride here. It talks about how a genius isn’t somebody because they got an A-plus and everything in school a lot of geniuses don’t do well in school because of how you’re tested and things like that. Schools aren’t built for entrepreneurs. They’re built for making people to be employees to work a 9:00 to 5:00. Even if they do build them to make entrepreneurs, you’re constantly working and not about being an investor or how to manage money. I’ve been wanting to learn a lot about do I decide to homeschool my kids and hire somebody to teach them how I want them to be taught. That’s what drew me to that book.
I don’t know if you’ve gone down that rabbit hole at all, but there is a very deep rabbit hole of the school system and how that’s all put on and all that stuff.
I started to take my way down that rabbit hole for sure.
You and Grace will have to talk at some point. Second question, Ashley. What is the best piece of advice you ever had?
That’s a tough one. I don’t know about ever had, but I would say more, it was about not overthinking things so as to don’t letting your mind go too much. I used to do that all the time. Something would happen and I would overthink the whole scenario. I have to reground myself to look at the facts and don’t assume things you don’t know. I think that’ll apply to a lot of aspects of life, but in business in general, like I got an email that a deal might fall through. That doesn’t mean freaking out or overthinking all of these things that are going to happen because of that domino effect. Focus on what you can do now to be proactive instead of reactive after it does fall through. That might seem pretty obvious to a lot of people, but I had that conversation with somebody and they talked me through that. That was beneficial to me.
That’s important because that’s how real estate works. You can never foresee the problems you’re going to get into, but there will be problems probably on every deal, and you have to get to the problem so you can fix it. Basically is how I see it. Z?
Question number three. This is what I’ve been waiting for all day. What is your why it is to be spontaneous?
Saying your family or your kids is too easy of an answer and isn’t motivating enough and the driving factor, because, obviously, you should already be doing anything and everything for your kids. That’s a cop-out when people say that. You should dive deeper and mine is to create a spontaneous life for my kids. That doesn’t mean like, “Today, we’re going to Disney World. Let’s jump on a plane. We can do this.” It’s even me waking up in the morning and being like, “I want to learn about an insurance company and open an insurance company.” I can spend a week learning about opening that business or something like that.
Having that flexibility and time freedom to be spontaneous is what drives me. Even during this conference, I brought my six-year-old son with me. We booked his flight and we got him here and everything. While we were here, it was like, “Do you want to go up on stage with us and you can do the giveaways and everything?” He loved it.
He didn’t even want to come with me to record the podcast. He wanted to stay with the other emcee, go on stage, take my spot, and be up there. The fact that he gets to be out of school to do that. When we were doing our run-of-show meeting, he was taking notes and everything. This is the spontaneity that not a lot of kids get to have. I feel fortunate that he gets to be a part of this and have some fun too.
Where we’re at right now in Northern Idaho, homeschooling is extremely popular. Probably more popular than even the public school system. We’ve got a lot of friends that have kids who are homeschooled and everyone says like, “It’s amazing because the kid is at home when the plumber comes over to fix something and they can see that in interaction. They know how to be that everyday person.” Dad comes home and says, “We’re going out to do this X, Y, and Z. You’re coming with me because you need to learn this thing.” The school system is so structured. It is not how life is supposed to be. I love that. You’re doing that and testing it out right now with your son here in Coeur d’Alene.
Even my eight-year-old loves the farm. That’s his thing. If I said, “Do you want to go to Disney World with me tomorrow?” He’d be like, “No. We got to chop corn,” or something like that. He loves it so much. He will ask to skip school. He skipped school on Monday because they were pulling a motor out of a tractor and he had been learning how they do this and how to take it apart in.
We’re like, “Yes, you can skip school to do that,” because that’s something he can’t learn in school. It’s not like he wants to sleep in, stay home and play video games, or watch TV. I can’t even tell you the last time he watched a movie. That is something very interesting to learn. He’s eight years old and he knows how to pull the motor out of a tractor.
This is the question I’ve been waiting to ask you all day. What is your favorite type of cheese?
I don’t like cheese that much. I’ll say mozzarella cheese. I would say there’s a cheese curd like a Buffalo chicken wing cheese curd, I guess, would be the most fancy.
The word turns me off. All of a sudden, that’s not good.
If you’re ever in Buffalo, make sure you try the Buffalo cheese curds. Ashley, where can people find out more about you?
You can find me on Instagram, @WealthFromRentals, and you can also subscribe to the Real Estate Rookie Podcast on your favorite podcast platform. We also have a YouTube channel, Real Estate Rookie.
Definitely go follow Ashley on Instagram and listen to Real Estate Rookie if you haven’t already. You probably already are. Either way. Ashley, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy conference schedule to come, even though I totally ditched you the first time that you let me on your show. I appreciate you not getting me back. Next time you’re in town, make sure you let me know. Let me know when you’re leaving, though.
Probably this time in 2023, so put it in your calendar now whenever the conference is again.
We’ll book it. See you, Ashley. Thanks so much for joining the show.
That was Ashley Kehr. What did you think of Ashley?
It’s interesting because I’ve known Ashley and I’ve seen her at conferences, but I haven’t interacted with her much. It was inspiring to hear her story. I love how down-to-earth she is. She is approachable. She can break things down in a simple way and it feels like one foot in front of the other. I also love her creativity of being like, “I feel I’ve learned this thing. How about I try something else? What would it be to own a liquor store,” which we didn’t go into. That seems a total departure. It’s cool that she’s trying to expand, try new things, and stretch her reality.
The foundation of this whole thing is she spends so little. She spends so little that it gives her the freedom to travel, try these new adventures, and keep satisfying that boring bug or killing that boring bug. She’s engaged and exciting. She’s always in a good mood. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Ashley upset. It’s because she’s always stimulated with her real estate investing, her family, and all the stuff that she’s doing. It’s a super inspiring episode and she had almost nothing to start.
She didn’t have any money. All she had was relationships in relationships. For the most part, they are free. Maybe buy a coffee every once in a while. One takeaway I would say is to go on BiggerPockets and reach out to 3 to 5 people in your area and go set up coffee dates with them. In the next two weeks, you should be on five coffee dates and see where that takes you. I guarantee you. You’ll be motivated or you’ll have some connection that you didn’t have before. You’ll see yourself graduating into your real estate investing.
For our Final Ask of the Day, I’m going to ask you guys, if you’re out there wanting to learn more about house hacking or different types of real estate investing, buy our books. If you don’t know, Craig wrote The House Hacking Strategy and my book should be out now. My book is 30-Day Stay: A Real Estate Investor’s Guide to Mastering the Medium-Term Rental.
If you go into the BiggerPockets bookstore, you can get both of our books. If you already own them, buy them for a friend. Get the word out there so that we can change the world by making everyone financially independent. We’ll see you next time and I’m not going to let Craig ask for a rating or review, but we’ll be back for that.
- Ashley Kehr
- Rookie Podcast
- Money Makeover
- The House Hacking Strategy
- 30-Day Stay: A Real Estate Investor’s Guide to Mastering the Medium-Term Rental
- The Hidden Habits Of Genius
- www.RentRedi.com and use our CODE: INVEST2FI to get 50% off on their first 6 months