ITF Dominique Gunderson | Financial Freedom

Many people in the industry start their real estate investing journey later in life. However, this episode’s guest got her start in high school. Getting hooked from helping her mother’s real estate career, Dominique Gunderson had an early start in the industry. Now, she is a real estate investor and owner of Gunderson Homes. She joins Craig Curelop and Zeona McIntyre to share with us how she found financial freedom through real estate. She talks about working for a real estate agent at seventeen, getting her license at eighteen, moving to wholesale real estate, and transitioning to flipping. Dominique’s journey is a colorful one, having been in the industry early. Follow along to this conversation as she imparts some of the lessons she learned across every stage and avenue in her real estate career.

 

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Finding Financial Freedom Across Different Avenues Of Real Estate With Dominique Gunderson

We have an inspiring guest. It’s super cool because she is someone who is achieving financial freedom without going to college. Off the bat, she’s saving herself $200,000. Is that what it cost now for four years?

That’s for one year.

She’s young and only 24. She started her journey at seventeen. I’m excited for you guys to read this. She drops some great bombs toward the end so read all the way through.

Everybody talks about flipping being an active business, but she figured out a way to make flipping a very passive business. Read towards the end that’s when she gets into the nuts and bolts of how to make a profitable flipping business even in these higher interest rates environments and making it pretty passive. It’s a great episode and a lot of inspiration, especially if you’re young and going after it. Let’s bring her to the show.

Dominique Gunderson, welcome to the show. How are you doing?

I’m doing great. Thank you so much for having me on. I’m super stoked to talk about financial freedom with you guys and everything in that realm.

We’re super excited to have you on and I’m super disappointed that we somehow miss each other at BPCON. Z, did you get to Dom at BPCON?

I don’t know. Did we, Dom?

We didn’t because I talked to many people and I was like, “What is happening?”

It was intense and awesome.

It was a crazy event but amazing. There are so many people. I don’t think I got to run into you guys.

Talk about an unlucky BPCON. That’s why BPCON is great because there are so many people there, but we’ll talk about it later. I want to know about you, Dom. Why don’t you tell us where it all started and how you first heard about financial independence?

I started getting interested in real estate when I was in high school. My family did not have a real estate background. My parents weren’t in real estate. I never grow up in a house that my family owned or anything. When I was about fifteen and this was around 2012 or 2013 time in the market, the market crashed, prices were low, and my mom was ready to buy her first property. She can finally get into something.

The property she ended up purchasing was a short sale which was super common at the time. It was a fixer-upper and a discounted price. Watching that whole process is what initially sparked my interest, not just in real estate but renovating properties and adding value to an already crazy-priced asset. It’s the biggest thing you’re ever going to own. I knew as soon as I graduated high school that is the direction that I wanted to get into.

I’m amazed that it was a short sale that got you in. PS, I never bought one so maybe I don’t know, but I’ve heard that they are a multi-month and super intense and that they don’t know that it would work out. It’s a complicated thing. Can you tell us a little about how it was for your mom?

It sounds like what you described. Her process took over a year until we closed on the property. It was an extremely long process. It’s a great-priced asset and doubled in value in a 7 to 10-year span. We started to see those prices hiked up so high that she had doubled the equity. It’s an amazing investment but it was such pain going through all the red tape with the bank, the offers, and the back and forth. It sparked my interest. It was the first thing that I have ever seen within the real estate realm.

Do you know if your mom, you, or anybody was a little scared? In 2011 and 2012, real estate was this asset class that was like, “I don’t want to touch that. It’s going to crash.” It was so close to the big crash or were you like, “No. I see real estate as a big deal. Let’s get in?”

I don’t know what mom’s opinion was, given that she was the one buying and putting up the funding for it. From what I remember, she was so excited that the prices were low enough. I grew up in the Southern California area, so it’s very expensive and a high barrier to entry market. She was excited that she finally has this opportunity to jump into and have homeownership opportunities, and even something that was a fixer-upper that you can add a lot of value to. In the naïve, not having a background in real estate, it seemed like a great time to jump in without doing much historical research.

I love when you feel something is right and you jump right in and do it. Where were you at this point? I don’t want to discredit you but I imagine you were like, “Mom, whatever you want to do, I’m here to help.” What was your role in your mom’s journey?

I was in high school. It was a cool stage in life for me to be at during this because I was probably like 15 or 16. I’m getting towards the later years of high school and trying to figure out go to college or what’s going to be my career path. This thing moves along and I caught my interest and it ended up being the path that I chose. It was perfect timing.

As far as my role at the moment, I played her agent. I encouraged her in searching for houses. We went out and toured properties all the time until we found the right one. My brother and I were into helping her fix it up and the whole renovation process. My brother now is a contractor so he got hooked too on the whole thing. We helped where we can as you said.

I love getting your family involved. I talked to somebody at BPCON who was saying that the way she’s been getting her children involved in real estate is that one of her kids is math-minded. She taught her how to run numbers and she’s like, “Run numbers on any duplex that comes on the market,” and she pays her like $1 per unit that she runs the numbers. She’s saving now for her own home, which is cool.

The other kid is a little more artistic and so she’s picking out the materials that they use for the flips. When she goes and sees them afterward, it’s like, “Mom, I did that,” even if she’s not doing the work. It’s cool to be like, “This is a family business and we all have to work together,” so it gives everybody accountability. I love that you guys were helping her out.

It was super fun and as I said ultimately it piqued a whole career path for me so it was great.

I was going to say look at the creature that she’s created. Now, you’re hooked. Why don’t we get into the genesis of your real estate investing? It comes in high school, which is amazing. A lot of people wish they learned about real estate in high school. I saw a funny Instagram post. It was like, “I’m so mad that I was in high school in 2009 when I could have been buying real estate.” I’m a little older than you. That’s when I was in high school, ’08 or ’09. Why don’t you tell us about, did you end up going to college? Did you end up going full-time for real estate or both?

I graduated high school a little young. I was seventeen. I knew I wanted to get into real estate and I ended up going to work for a real estate agent who was successful in doing a lot of deals. He also did some investing in higher-end fix and flip stuff in the Southern California area where I was living. My goal with that was to get involved and learn from someone who was doing well and had a lot of success and was a well-known name in the area. I wanted to learn the basics of real estate, contracts, sales, talking to people, and all of that.

I would probably join his team as an agent once I turned eighteen and could get my license which I did, but until then, I worked in his office, shadowed under him, got to sit in on all the sales meetings, work with the other agents, and learn as much as I could for that first year until I turned eighteen and then got my license and jumped in that way.

I want to highlight that if you’re young getting into this field, it’s such a great idea to work for an agent, investor, commercial, or somebody who’s doing this stuff because you can learn a ton and it’s like a built-in mentor and usually, you can get paid doing it. That’s a smart route to go because a lot of people are like wanting someone to adopt them and take over their life. That’s not going to happen but you can put yourself close to someone who’s already in that stream of doing what you want to do.

I got a quick question for you, Dom. How did you find this real estate agent and what made him decide to hire you a seventeen-year-old out of high school with no experience or anything like that to join the team? How are you so convincing?

I’m not sure how exactly because it does sound crazy, but I reached out to him. I knew his name. I knew he was a big agent that I thought would be great to work for and with the mentality of, “Might as well learn from the best.” Sometimes people appreciate being recognized and knowing that there’s someone that recognizes their name and sees them as a top player, and you’re asking to not only learn from them but also add value to them. I sent him an email, and he responded and was open to talking to me. We had an interview and it went well. It just evolved from there.

Sometimes, people appreciate being recognized. Ask not only to learn from them but also to add value to them. Click To Tweet

That’s awesome.

That’s amazing. It sounds like you started off as a real estate agent. How did that go for you? When you turned eighteen and started doing some lead generation and helping people buy and sell homes, did you like that, or where were you at there?

I knew from day one that being an agent was not what I wanted to do. I always had my eyes focused on the investment side since I was fifteen and saw that whole short sale process. I thought that would be a good way to jump in and learn the basics because I also felt like I didn’t know much. I was seventeen and I had no experience and didn’t have family or anyone to mentor and ask all these questions. I was more so looking to get some experience and knowledge out of it.

Zeona, as you said, it was like getting paid to go to college with exactly what I wanted to learn. You can help somebody out with their business and they can shadow you along the way and you can even get paid to do it. For me, it was a win-win to learn. I had no intention of being an agent. I was there for a little while. I did get my license once I turned eighteen but then I moved on and went more into the investing world.

At what point are you making the switch from an agent to an investor? How long were you an agent? What age were you? what year was this when you decided, “I don’t want to be in buying and selling real estate, I want to own real estate myself and build wealth that way?”

I worked with the agent for almost two years out of high school. I was probably only an actual licensed agent for about half of that time. I did that for a couple of years, got my feet wet as I said, and learned a lot. I then made the switch to the investing realm which for me started with wholesaling real estate.

Why did you get into wholesaling? Why was that your thing?

To be honest, I didn’t have a lot of information when I started about what it was. I knew the basics but I didn’t even know that it would be as successful for me as it was. I knew I didn’t want to be an agent long-term as I said. I wanted to find my way into the investing world somehow. It seemed like a good place to start with not having much of my own cash to buy something or much experience that I have to like risk either my own or somebody else’s money on a deal that I’ve never done before. It was a good place of low risk and low capital need for me to get started.

Wholesaling is a good place to start if you don’t have much cash to actually buy something or much experience. Click To Tweet

A lot of people start through wholesaling and it’s a hard avenue. What ways worked for you? When people are lead genning, they might be cold calling, door knocking, or other ways to network with people online. What ended up working out for you?

One thing that was cool that I got a chance to be a part of was that I joined a small group of people that were wholesaling. It was like being on a real estate agent team where everybody’s doing their own thing and own deals but you’re surrounded by people doing it. That was the first thing that helped me, being surrounded by other people who were doing this so that I could pick their brains, see what was working and what wasn’t, and JV deals with these people. That was one thing that helped jumpstart and allowed me to do a lot of deals in a shorter time than if I started and jumped into it on my own without any idea what I was doing.

To answer your question more specifically, a good amount of business came from the relationships that I built. I built a lot of good relationships with agents who would send me deals or my own investors. I got a lot of properties from having strong good relationships with my buyers. They would buy properties sometimes and be like, “There’s a better spread on this to quick wholesale it. You are very good at wholesaling, let’s work together on this.” One way or another, whatever type of relationship that was specifically, building those strong relationships helped me in that business a lot.

I love that. Real estate is such a relationship business. The more you can get around people in real estate, the more successful you’ll be. I’ve got a question for you about that program, mastermind, or whatever it was that you joined. How much did you pay for that program, if you don’t remember exactly but roughly?

It wasn’t a paid thing to get into. It was more similar to being on a team of realtors where you pay a percentage of your fees. It’s not a brokerage but a similar type of idea, like a realtor paying a commission to the broker to join a team that has a name out there and helps you with some advertising, marketing, and stuff like that. No upfront costs but as you go.

Were you doing this in Southern California?

Yes.

Wholesaling is accessible and available even in the expensive markets of Southern California. It’s not just the craziest cheap markets.

Sometimes the cheaper markets can be more accessible or easier to find a deal quickly, but there still is opportunity in the higher-end markets and the reward is usually higher as well because you’re dealing with not very high-end, sometimes very high-end but higher-end properties that you can make a little bit larger fees on.

Sometimes, the cheaper markets can be more accessible or easier to find a deal quickly, but there definitely is still opportunity in the higher-end markets. The reward is usually higher as well. Click To Tweet

You told us this before, but it sounds like you’re flipping now. What was the transition for you from wholesaling to flipping? Are you still wholesaling a bit?

The transition for me was again slowly stepping my way through different avenues of real estate but from the start, still having my mind set on me being the actual owner and investor of properties and being an investor full-time. Again, I was from agent to wholesaling and then into flipping and who knows, maybe that looks like buying and holding more and more as I continue.

Walking through the different avenues as I went and got more experience, and I got to that point with wholesaling where I had done a little over 40 deals in a few years and felt like I had a lot of deal experience at that point. I knew pretty much a lot that there was to know about buying a property on the acquisition side and everything. I got to mentor and be under all these buyers while I was selling properties too. I got to learn a lot about the rehab budgets and all that. I felt like I was ready to branch out and take my next step closer to me investing in properties.

I’ve never heard of this journey before. You start off as a real estate agent and never own any real estate in that entire process. You’re helping people own real estate. You then become a wholesaler where you own the property for the last second to quickly double close, reassign, or whatever it is. Now, you’re at the point of flipping properties where you own them for a few months. It feels like the length of your owning the property gets longer and longer with the cycle of real estate investing you’re doing. It’s cool and I wanted to point that out.

I imagine that each one of these things as well has built on the other. Becoming a real estate agent makes you comfortable with doing traditional deals. Wholesaling is the next step up. You got to get creative about how are you finding deals and there are methods to getting good deals because you need to make that spread. Now, instead of giving those good deals to somebody else, you can take those deals yourself as a flipper. You’re using these same things and they’re building on each other to progress you in your career. I’m excited to hear about how your flipping stuff is going now.

It’s exactly what you said. It’s like keep stepping through the journey and getting closer and closer, and building on your skills to ultimately reach different levels of financial freedom. For me, what that looked like is switching markets. I no longer buy in California. I started going out of state to get cheaper, better, and more accessible deals. I switched from quick wholesale to contract to hold the asset, do the renovation, and flip it with a little bit longer hold time. I do the flipping now in New Orleans, Louisiana.

That answered my question. I thought I was going to ask you, “Since your brother is in construction, do you guys do it together?” I imagine your brother’s not in New Orleans, so do you have to build a team out there?

Absolutely. That was one thing we always talked about growing up like, “Someday we’ll do this together,” but through a bit of a wrench in that when I decided to go out of state. He still lives in California and all the properties are in New Orleans. I did have to build up a team, system operations, and everything from scratch when I completely shifted markets.

I want to get into how you built your team, but before that, how did you pick New Orleans? That’s not a market I hear a lot of people talking about. There are so many markets out there. You probably had so many at your disposal and could have picked anyone. What did you like about New Orleans other than the fact that it’s underwater?

I would give this as advice to anybody who’s looking to pick an out-of-state market. It was probably the biggest key is having somebody that I knew and could trust on the ground to start with, whether they were going to be on my team and work with me or not. Somebody that I knew that could literally tell me about the area, the neighborhoods, where to avoid, what was up and coming, their experience from living there, and having local neighbors, friends, and contacts. It’s something that already jump-starts the process. My dad lives here in New Orleans. That was probably the closest, most trusted person I knew that lived in an out-of-state market. It was honestly the first place that I thought to even look at and seriously consider jumping into.

That is so key and important. People ask me all the time where is the best market to invest. I’m like, “Honestly, it’s your backyard. If you can’t do it in your backyard, then your best friend’s backyard.” People talk about like rent to price ratios, population growth, job diversification, and all this stuff. That stuff matters in my opinion, but the thing that matters most is whom you can trust in helping you build a team and getting those good contacts because there are good deals in every market. You got to be the one to find them and make them good deals.

Can you tell us a little bit about what worked well and then some struggles you had with building an out-of-state team? I’m assuming you probably don’t go out there that much.

It did not happen overnight. I’ve been investing here for about a few years now. Now, things are up and running great, and I have a very solid team that I can trust. As you said, I only have to come maybe four times a year or once a quarter. I’m checking on things and pouring into my team, but it didn’t happen overnight. We cycled through a couple of different contractors, realtors, and team members to see who worked, what we could improve on, and how we could make things better.

It ultimately started with me and my dad. He was helping a lot at the beginning. We did the first couple of projects together. I relied heavily on his oversight of things on the ground and started to build those initial relationships and stuff. We did a couple of projects and then ultimately, he went more into buying rentals type of space and I went more into higher volume flipping, but that jump-started the whole process. The team has evolved a lot since then. I don’t think we have any person the same as back when we first started as we do now. It’s been trial and error and trying different people and plugging in to fill the gaps where things were missing or not quite as efficient as they could have been.

It sounds like your dad is an integral part of your team. Is he a partner with you? Do you split profits? Is he doing you a good one by being your dad and all that?

For the first couple of deals, we did work on them together and we did split the profits, but now, he doesn’t have involvement. As I said, he does his own thing down here with some rental properties, but I have my own team now that’s been built out to oversee everything on the ground.

I’ve got more questions about your flipping business. This is the For Real Deal. This is the first deal you do, whether it’s intentional or not intentional and we want to hear all about it. Why don’t you tell us about this first flip that you did in New Orleans? Tell us the price, how you found it, how you built your team, and all that good stuff, and we’ll get into the details.

The first deal is always fun to dig into because people say it all the time, it’s usually your worst deal, but you’re so glad you did it because it was your first deal. It got you to the 2nd and 3rd, and all of the following ones. I can say that’s for sure my experience. It’s probably one of the worst deals I’ve done as far as the flips go, but it overcame so many obstacles and learning curves. It was great for that.

The first deal is always fun to dig into. It's usually your worst deal, but you're so glad you did it because it was your first and got you to the second, third, and all the following ones. Click To Tweet

It was a property that I bought right off the MLS. It’s been sitting for a few months by the time they accepted our offer. The seller was ready to take price cuts and getting desperate. We ended up getting it a decent amount under the list price, but we paid $51,000 for it. It was a single-family, 2-bed, and 1-bath home. It’s a little under 1,000 square feet. The property needed everything as far as the rehab went.

What my dad and I ended up doing, when we started out and investing together, which was on this first deal, was fronting the money for the property. I had saved a bunch from the wholesale deals I was doing and paid cash for both the property and the renovation. I funded everything and did some of the oversight as far as designing it, finding the deal, and managing things and stuff like that, but he was here on the ground. He did a lot of the hands-on stuff and ended up doing almost all of the renovation as well. We had a contractor who was doing maybe half of the work and then my dad jumped in and did a bunch of the stuff too. We worked on it together in that sense and then at the end we split the profits.

We’re going to take a small break from the show and talk about becoming a real estate agent. That’s where Dominique got her start, and Craig and I are both real estate agents. It’s a great way to get into real estate investing. You learn a lot about markets and sometimes see deals before anybody else. If it’s something that you’re thinking about doing, I recommend Kaplan. Kaplan is where I got my start and education online. We have a deal with them, if you go to Kaplan and use our code INVEST2, it’ll give you a discount towards your real estate education.

Dominique, let’s continue with your first deal. Where did you leave us off?

The deal was a fix-and-flip with me and my dad working on it and we were going to split the profits. We ended up finishing the renovation. The purchase price was $51,000. By the time we were done, we were all into the deal for somewhere around $92,000 or $93,000. We ended up selling it for $115,000.

That’s a little tight, especially when you’re thinking about holding costs and all of that stuff.

It was not a great first deal. We ended up making $11,000 in profit when it was all done after paying the realtor, closing costs, and everything. It’s super tight, but again, as I said, it was the first one. It got relationships built and there were a lot of hurdles to jump over and a learning curve. Ultimately, I’m super glad we did it because we had to do the first deal at some point and got much better deals down the line.

Honestly, that is a great first deal because you didn’t lose money. Most people call that their tuition deal where you’re losing money because that’s the tuition you pay. I don’t think you said you went to school or college, so you didn’t pay that tuition either. Let’s get into how you leveraged what you learned from that first deal and how you got into maybe where you’re at now or how did you do deal number 2, 3, or 4, and now you’ve got a whole bunch going on.

The deals started coming more over time as I started building more relationships. Almost everything that I buy is off-market. That was one of the very few first deals that I buy on the market. Building local relationships with people to start getting that deal flow coming in. I can say a huge piece in my story that allowed me to scale was when I started leveraging other people’s money and raising private funds in order to fix and flip.

To really scale, start leveraging other people's money, raising private funds in order to fix and flip. Click To Tweet

The first couple that I did get a proof of concept out there and stuff was all with my own capital. I could only do 1 or 2 a year. It was a slow start for the first year and then the proceeding years after I was able to start pitching out to investors and bringing in outside funds, we have now 8 or 7 deals going at any given time for fix-and-flips.

I want to talk a little bit about the whole raising money piece because that’s a big hurdle for a lot of people. People are nervous about using other people’s money. How did you get over that hurdle? How do you pitch it to people? How do you sell somebody that you as a young gun, 23, 24, are qualified to take tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars of somebody’s money and give them a return on it?

Again, that was something that didn’t come overnight. The first couple of deals I did was my own capital fully. I never went with a hard money lender or leveraged anything else. That piece, in the beginning, was helpful for me because people saw that I was 21 when I bought my first flip with all my own cash. People could tell, “You’re probably risking everything you own to do these deals. If it’s working out so far, you’re showing me that you’re making a return. You’ve clearly risked your own money and are willing to continue risking to do this.”

It helped at the start to get people feeling more comfortable. Over time, it’s gotten easier and easier with more deals I have done with better and better returns. At this point, a lot of people will reach out to me that know what I’m doing, have seen my success, trust in the process, and want to invest passively. it’s gotten easier with time and deal experience.

That’s why I like that first deal is so important because not only did you make a nice $11,000 but you’ve got a track record now. You can show them, “This is what I did on this deal. It wasn’t the best but here’s what I learned. This is what we’re intending on the next deal and the next deal.” That’s huge. What are you offering your investors? Do you give them interest-only payments throughout and then the big lump sum at the end and pay them when you pay them off or do you take it and then pay them off all at once? Is it different strokes for different folks?

That’s something that’s evolved over time for me as well. The very first investor that I worked with when I had done a couple with my own funds, I had had to sweeten the deal a bit for that investor because they were taking a bigger risk on me. I had only done a few and had never worked with a partner. The structure that I came up with for the very first investor was that they funded 100% of the purchase price and 50% of the rehab. I funded the other 50% of the rehab, managed the whole thing, brought the deal, and did everything. They were pretty passive but brought almost all the money to the deal and we split the profits. That was an equity investor.

From there, I did some deals like that. I got a lot more experience and better numbers and everything. Now, I only raised debt. It’s interest payments along the way with their lump sum back at the end as you mentioned. I’m usually paying anywhere between 10% and 15% interest depending on the amount they invest and for how long for the specific deal and investor.

I love how you start off slow. You’re not biting off more than you can chew. You’re starting off with you and your dad. You’re getting that experience and that track record. You’re still building connections this entire time so that way you’ve got something to show them. You’ve got your deck and pitch, and now you’re at a point where you can scale and keep raising money and keep coming on shows like this. You can become more popular and people will want to give you money and all that and become even better at it. Z, anything to add?

What is your goal next? What I’m curious about is, are you happy at an active income like flipping? Are you happy doing 7 or 8 deals at a time? Are you saying, “I want to do 100 deals, or I want to take some of this active income and invest it into something more passive like owning assets and having rental properties?”

Something I’m starting to think a lot about as what I have built is pretty stable at this point. Deals come in and the deal flows there. The funds are there to do the deals. The team here doing them helps me be a lot more passive. I’m an out-of-state investor. I delegate most things that get done on a day to day. I have a job doing this but I also have so much time and freedom. I can do it from anywhere. I only have maybe a couple hours a day on a good amount of the days of the week that I have to sit and do tasks. A lot of stuff has gotten automated and delegated over time to where I’m not grinding on my properties day in and day out, but I have goals to start becoming even more passive.

I’m super happy with the flipping and the way it’s going right now. It’s what I do full-time. It serves, as I said, great time freedom, lifestyle, as well as great income. Ideally, I’d like to keep that flowing to live and keep saving off of, and as you mentioned, start investing the profits into bigger longer-term apartment building type deals or something that’s what I’ve already been doing. Fix up a building, renovate it, make income and cashflow but on a bigger scale, longer-term holds, and stuff like that.

I love that you’re able to scale and grow your team and make it pretty passive pretty quickly. If somebody wants to get into this house-flipping business, what does that team look like at your level? What was your first hire? Can you take us in that order of hires that you made, maybe it’s an assistant and then a dispo person or whatever it is?

These have been a couple of people that are super key for me. None of them by the way are directly hired by me. It’s mostly like they have their own business running and work directly with me or they’re 1099 or something like that. You don’t necessarily have to spend tons of money on salaries and to grow a team right away. You can grow it slowly over time, but I have a real estate agent on the ground that handles everything from the day the project gets done with a renovation through the resale.

I am very hands-off in that process. I don’t know who’s going to the house or how many times it’s getting shown. She sifts through and looks at all the offers we get coming in, showing requests and once we’re even in escrow, she manages everything from the paperwork that needs to be done following up to make sure the buyer, the lender, and everyone’s in line and babysitting the transaction. She handles that entire process.

The contractor I have on the ground here manages all of our renovations. Everything’s under one person. He is the head of the renovation and then he has his own teams and crews that are on each job site each day. He shuffles them around depending on what we have going on at each job site and where need more guys or less depending on the schedule. That one head guy is the main one that I converse with, pay, and deal with on the day-to-day, FaceTime, and all kinds of things to keep in touch long distance.

The third person that’s super key for me is my boots-on-the-ground guy or project manager guy. He handles everything for me that I physically can’t be here for. Whether it’s taking appointments, looking at houses, making deliveries, meeting a city official for a permit, or whatever it is. He is the task guy that I task with all day-to-day operations stuff.

It sounds like you’ve got a smooth operation. It’s great that you were able to find great people down there. My question is about the changing in the market. How do you protect yourself now as interest rates go up? It seems like a lot of people are leaving flipping behind.

It’s something to pay attention to and a concern that’s been on my mind. I’ve changed strategies a little bit to try to hedge that. Down in the New Orleans market, it’s a pretty entry-level market. In general, you’re dealing with a lot of first-time homebuyers and lower-level price properties compared to the entire country, but there are still some higher-end markets.

Pre-2022, before we started seeing some of these signs coming up of potential market downfall, I was open to any deal. As long as the spread and the numbers looked good and I could make the renovation work, I would buy it. Now, I’m working in a very specific niche price point. I’m only buying deals that have a resale value of under $200,000 which is the bare minimum entry-level price point in this market.

I’m trying to use that as a hedge against a market downturn. One, the lower the price point, the less it’s affected by a downturn, not only in dollar figures, but you start seeing people that are now stepping down a price tier because they’re getting pushed out of that price point they were originally looking in. You’re still seeing anyone who wants to enter the market for the first time and this is where they have to be. There always is the most amount of buyer competition at that price point. I found what that is, what area that is, and what price that is for my market, and that is all I’m buying right now for flips.

She’s your smart cookie here. For her age, I’m blown away.

I’m about to extract a little bit more knowledge from her right here. Dom, it sounds like you’ve got a bunch of systems in place. When you’re doing your flips, you got a spreadsheet basically of where you order this LVP, this color paint, these cabinets, and all that or is there some creativity that you also loop in with that?

It’s a little bit of both. I do have a spreadsheet with links to Home Depot and those pages for all the basics that I need, doors, windows, and whatever on every flip. It has a similar basic look and I’ll play with colors, tile, or some easier-to-change design style items on each flip to make each one looks a little bit different, but for the most part, we pick a lot of the same materials and that also helps to be in this price point because buyers are looking for a product that looks good.

They’re shocked that it’s under $200,000. At least, if you have a good-looking renovation, well put together, well thought out, good layout, good color choices, and all of that, you can get away with putting those same types of finishes into multiple properties and changing small things like tile that are easy to switch out.

I love that. Z, do you have anything else? Otherwise, I do have one last question.

I do have one more thing. This reminds me of when I started investing in St. Louis. I remember I bought a house that got renovated down to the studs and then I was like, “I need to connect with these flippers because if I can get their contact, I’m happy to follow them around and buy all their homes.” This is another thing that I want to tell real estate investors. Make friends with people like this. There are a lot of flippers that cut corners, but if you find the good ones or the diamonds and the rough, follow them around and buy their flips that will make sense as your good buy and holds. Reach out to Dominique if you’re thinking about investing in New Orleans.

It’s great advice, Z. One last question. It’s a little bit of real estate but more of my curiosity and people may have this question. You’re a young woman, has that played to your advantage or disadvantage when dealing with contractors and with this pretty heavily male-dominated industry, especially if you look young and have taken advantage of it all? Have you seen that or how have you been able to hedge that?

It’s something I get asked a lot. I am 24 now in 2022 and so that’s better than when I started, I was only 17. It’s a huge battle I faced. Honestly, it’s what led me into investing because I was having a hard time during that time. When I was a real estate agent, I was 17 and 18 and I was talking to Southern California sellers of $5 million houses. It was a huge barrier for me to cross.

Dealing with the fix and flip stuff that was run down and cheap was the way I got into the market a little bit easier, but now as far as working directly with these people that are still mostly twice my age that is working under me or whatever, the best thing that I’ve done for that is finding people that I feel like I can add value to and lead well instead of the other way around where, “I’m paying you and you’re working for me, but ultimately I’m not adding any value to them.”

For example, the contractor that I work with now, when we first got connected, he was at a stage in his business where he was doing a kitchen for somebody, a roofing job, or something like that, and he wanted to start managing entire house renovations. When I brought that to him and we did the first deal together, that’s exactly what he was trying to get into and he wanted to not manage one full renovation, he wanted to manage multiple.

That was something that his clients weren’t providing him that I could add that value to him and we could build each other up and grow together. We provided each other value and that helped form that relationship from the start that was a two-way street instead of going after the most sought-after and well-known contractor that didn’t need me at all and had a much better chance to get taken advantage of.

That might be one of the best answers I ever heard. I told my buddy this as well. When you’re hiring employees or people that work for you, you can’t think, “This is a $20-an-hour job. This person is going to work for $20 an hour. That’s more than they could ever ask for. They should feel grateful for working for me.” They don’t give a shit about you. They care about themselves like most people in this world. Internally, something’s got to be in it for them. You can pay them $20 an hour, but how do you get them to $30 or $40 an hour? What is that career growth?

Even if they are 40 or 50 years old, people still want to grow and be fulfilled. When I’m hiring people or agents for the FI Team agents, I’m going to say, “How can we pour into you? How can we make you grow? How can you grow in this position?” Churn is expensive, having to let people go and come back, but that sense of fulfillment and seeing how you can add value is such a great answer. I love that.

We need to go into the final part of our show even though I feel like I still have more questions coming out, but that’s okay. We’re going to settle down here. Before we make the transition, do you have any final words of wisdom for our readers?

If I can give any encouragement to people that are looking to get started and start that journey to financial independence, I would say it’s such a great opportunity to get started somewhere under somebody, working alongside, or mentoring with somebody that’s in the field that’s doing what you want to do. Find that somebody.

If you can find a way that you can add value to those people that are doing what you want to do, a good amount of the people will take that value that you’re going to add and also pour it back into you. That’s been the biggest way I’ve learned and gotten experience and started. It’s going to jumpstart your journey.

If you can find a way to add value to those people doing what you want, they will take that value and pour it back into you. Click To Tweet

That’s great advice. Craig, are you ready?

The Final Four. Z, kick us off.

Dominique, what are you reading right now or listening to because you’re young and maybe you don’t read books?

Maybe she doesn’t know how to read yet.

I do need to carve out more time to read more books. I’ll admit I’m not great at that. I will say that I’ve recommended this book a lot and it changed the path of my career. It’s a book called Raising Private Capital by Matt Faircloth. It’s very good in detailing and explaining, not the process even of how to do it, but getting you in the mindset of what leveraging other people’s funds can do for you and your business. I read that book and a couple of months later I brought in my first investor and I’ve brought in ten others since then. It’s changed my business.

That book can be found at the BiggerPockets bookstore. Go get it.

Second question. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

This can be applied to life, but I’ve applied it to business many times. A mentor of mine told me this when I was sixteen and it has stuck with me. He told me that there are two important decisions to make in your life. The 1st one is where you’re going and the 2nd is whom you want to go with. You have to make sure to answer those questions in the right order.

There are two really important decisions to make in your life. The first is where you're going, and the second is who you want to go with. And you have to make sure to answer those questions in the right order. Click To Tweet

I would remember him telling me that and thinking about applying it to marriage, friendships, business, and all types of things. I can look back and truly say, even as we were talking in this interview about building a team and stuff, having that clarity first of what I wanted, what my goals were, where I was going, and then figuring out whom I needed to bring on to get me there, instead of doing it in the other order and possibly taking way longer to get to the goal has been a big thing for me.

Question number three, what is your why? What is keeping you motivated?

The biggest one is time freedom. Being super young already and not feeling ever in my life I’ll have to commit to a 9:00 to 5:00 or be told how many vacation days I can have per year and stuff. That full-time freedom and schedule freedom to be wherever I want to be and do what I want to do keeps me very motivated to grow even more passive in the real estate world.

Last question, what is one guilty pleasure you’re willing to admit?

I don’t know how guilty it is, but if you ask my husband this, he will tell you that the first thing I literally do every single day before I even get out of bed is real estate. I’m still laying in bed and almost every single morning, I’m looking at deals. I can say I’m addicted.

You got to keep your phone outside the bedroom. No technology in the bedroom. That’s one of our rules.

I haven’t gotten there yet.

Z, what’s a guilty pleasure you have?

The Kardashians. I love them. I got to defend this answer. They freaking built an empire. It’s impressive. Based on a sex tape, they built billions. They’re worth billions with the B. All kinds of websites, makeup, and clothing lines. It’s insanity. A lot of people have one little spark of fifteen minutes of fame and flame out. They are like a case study. It’s amazing so shut up, Craig.

I’m still not buying it. Dom, where can people find out more about you?

Instagram is a good place to reach out, I’m @Dom_Flips_Nola, and try to message me if you have any questions or anything and I’ll try to message everyone back with answers. You can find me on most other sites like BiggerPockets or LinkedIn or any of those social sites. I’m happy to help in any way I can.

Go check Dom out at @Dom_Flips_Nola, and who knows, maybe you’ll be buying one of her deals as an investment property. I hear New Orleans is a great place to Airbnb. That’s awesome, Dom. Thank you so much and we will see you next time.

Thank you, guys.

That was Dominique Gunderson. Z, what did you think of our girl Dom?

It’s crazy impressive. I don’t do flipping and renovations. Out-of-state renovations are even scarier to me. It’s awesome that she’s diving in. I love hearing what she’s built. I also love towards the end how she was talking about how she’s changing her strategy to be with the market times now. As a real estate investor, no matter what branch you’re in, you need to be able to pivot. You have to be creative and see what’s coming down the pipe and say, ” It doesn’t mean I have to stop doing it, but I need to tweak what I’m doing.”

Also, being pickier too. It’s easy to say, “I’m doing it this way,” but then, “A good deal comes, it’s a $500,000 deal.” She’s not taking that deal because it’s not in her buy box of $200,000 or less. It’s super crucial to stick to your plan too because there are a lot of shiny objects in real estate.

This also inspired me to think about Dan’s Freaks. If you guys are young and excited to hear about young people networking with young people in real estate, go out and check out Sheeks Freaks. They have an online mastermind. He also has his books with BiggerPockets, there’s a how-to book and then a workbook that accompanies it. If there’s someone young in your life that want to get started or if you’re young, go and check them out.

Dan’s group is amazing. A lot of people are young, achieving financial independence there. Go check it out. What also you should check out is our profile on iTunes and leave us a rating and review. These ratings and reviews help to show get out to as many people as possible so we can help all of them achieve financial independence through real estate investing in all other means. If you haven’t already, please leave us writing a review and hit us up on Instagram. I’m @TheFIGuy. Zeona is @ZeonaMcIntyre.

We will see you there.

See you there and see you next episode.

 

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