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The 5 Steps That Will Bring You More Deals, Friends, and Mentors w/Jonathan Greene

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If you’re new to investing in real estate, you may not have run your first real estate analysis yet. But as soon as you start looking at properties, you’ll become a spreadsheet wizard in no time! With so many investors counting on automatic analysis from modern, hyper-specific real estate calculators, old-school investors beg the question “do these calculators really make a difference in the deal?

Today, expert investor, home flipper, wholetailer, and almost every other real estate title in the book, Jonathan Greene, joins us to talk about what new investors are missing out on. While many investors run spreadsheets and analyses before seeing a deal, Jonathan does it the other way around. Jonathan will drive to a property, walk the property, and then after taking a look at some specific parts of the property, will run a deal analysis. He walks through the system that not only makes this efficient but worthwhile.

If you’ve been around the BiggerPockets Forums for some time, you’ve probably recognized Jonathan’s name (or face). He’s an active contributor, responding to forum posts almost every day and chatting with new investors every chance he gets. Jonathan has found deals, mentors, partners, and great friends thanks to online forums, like BiggerPockets. If you’re looking to get the most out of your virtual networking, Jonathan shares his five tips on extracting huge value from the collective minds of over two million real estate investors!

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Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

David:
This is the BiggerPockets Podcast Show, 584.

Jonathan:
Everything I learned, I learned from my dad and from trial and error. So in the new world of investing, I’m a dinosaur. I still work the old-school way, based on feel, and everything that I can see, smell, touch inside a property tells me more than a calculator a lot of the times.

David:
What’s going on, everyone? It’s David Greene, your host of the BiggerPockets Real Estate Podcast, the show where we teach you how to build financial freedom through real estate. Not only do we have the biggest and best podcast in the world when it comes to real estate, but we are completely dedicated to helping you find financial freedom through real estate itself.
So if you’re looking for how to improve your life, make more money, build your wealth, protect the wealth that you’ve already built, have more freedom, travel the world, make more friends, be part of an awesome community, you found the right place. At BiggerPockets, we have more than two million members that are all on the same path as you, sharing what they’ve learned along the way and helping each other to get there.
We help you by bringing in guests that have built portfolios, that have solved problems, that have made mistakes, and then share with you what mistakes they made so that you don’t have to make it. On today’s show, we have Jonathan Greene, who’s a BiggerPockets pillar. He is frequently found in the forums giving really good advice to people. He runs a hotel business. He has a real estate sales team. He’s flipped houses for 20-plus years. And he gives some really, really good advice about how you can use the actual website BiggerPockets effectively to build your wealth.
Here to join me in my interview, Jonathan, is my co-host Rob Abasolo, who crushes it to day. Rob, what were some of your favorite parts of today’s interview?

Rob:
Well, honestly, first and foremost, Jonathan is as nice and authentic as it comes. I mean the guy is obviously like he gives and he gives and he gives to the BiggerPockets community. So it’s really nice to just unpack his philosophies, and really talks about how to bring value to your peers on the BiggerPockets website, on the forums.
We talk about things like how finding and analyzing deals is part art and part science, and really dives into the philosophy of somewhat contradictory in a sense to what we’re always told, which is he’s not all about the numbers. He’s all about somewhat the visceral reaction he gets when he actually steps into the home, and then gets into the numbers. We also talked about how to reach out to people, how to reach out to someone, potentially a mentor, and how you can bring value to that person so that they can hear you out.

David:
Yeah, this show went too fast. I think that there was a whole lot more that we could have got from Jonathan. One of my favorite parts is when we talked about when an experienced investor like himself is walking a property, this is what they are looking for.
This is the feel that they’re trying to develop when they’re there and how that comes from looking at so many properties over time that you eventually develop this gut instinct that can guide you through the process, which I think a lot of our newbie listeners would really benefit from hearing, because when you’re new, you’re just terrified. You just keep asking the same question. Am I doing the right thing? Am I about to make a mistake? Am I doing this right? Am I doing this right?
In our show, we get into how to know if you’re doing it right, what to look for to make sure that you don’t make some common mistakes, and then how not to find yourself getting advice from the wrong people. I think that’s also pretty relevant, too.
So it’s great. You guys are going to want to listen to this one all the way to the end. Before we get to the show, we’re going to get into today’s quick tip.
All right, today’s quick tip is if you’re listening to the podcast and you’re not on the BiggerPockets website, that, my friend, needs to change. Sign up for an account on BiggerPockets and check out all the amazing information in the forums and then also the blogs.
At some point, you may want to update to a pro membership where you get access to a lot of cool perks, including calculators to analyze deals for you so you don’t have to worry about making big mistakes. But in the beginning, even if you’re not ready to go pro, you should at least have an account and check out everything that the site has to offer.
All right, I’m excited to get into this interview with Jonathan. This is a lot of fun. Rob, anything you want to add before we bring him in?

Rob:
No, I’m excited too, man. He’s one of the ones that I can just tell this one’s going to hit with the audience today. I have a feeling we’re going to be having him back on the podcast soon.

David:
Jonathan Greene, welcome to the BiggerPockets Real Estate Podcast.

Jonathan:
Oh, thanks for having me. It’s an absolute honor to be here.

David:
We had Robert Greene the author on. Then we have me, David Greene. Now we have Jonathan Greene. So you are joining quite an elected group of people. We’re really happy to have you. So can you give us a little bit of a background as to where your areas of expertise and experience are and then what you’re doing today?

Jonathan:
Yeah, absolutely. So I’ve actually been investing for more than 30 years. I grew up and learned from my dad who was an attorney, but also a real estate investor. I was out at foreclosed homes from five years old on, climbing through windows, looking at them, wondering why we went to so many yard sales every weekend when my dad was offering on every single property. Over the years, I just learned so much from him.
I went through different careers as an attorney and inside of the art world. Then eventually I transitioned to really full-time investing. I also am licensed. I have a big on-market real estate team as well. But everything I learned, I learned from my dad and from trial and error. So in the new world of investing, I’m a dinosaur. I still work the old-school way based on feel, and everything that I can see, smell, touch inside a property tells me more than a calculator a lot of the times.

Rob:
Yeah, quite the evolution.

David:
Wow.

Rob:
So we started off, you were an attorney and then you’re in the art world a bit here, now full-on real estate mogul. Do you ever miss the other stuff that you used to do, the law side of things, or are you all in on real estate these days?

Jonathan:
Never. Yeah, and I mean the whole time I was investing in real estate. I was investing from the time I was 18 on my own, figuring out what to do, and doing flips and doing modified hotels and things like that. But, no, I mean a tiny part of me misses trials, but, no, I’ll pass on that. I’m really happy in all aspects of real estate.
I think to be this invested in real estate as I am, you actually have to love houses. I love houses. I will look at any house at any time. I don’t care when, I don’t care how long. I just like looking at the quirks and intricacies of houses, and then assessing where somebody, including myself, can make money on them.

David:
I feel like we’ve got a bit of a real estate connoisseur here. You’re the guy that swirls the wine in the glass and you want to smell it. You go into the home and you’re swirling it around. It’s cool to hear someone who’s looking at it from that perspective, because it’s evolved into technologically based.
But it looks like to me is everyone’s trying to take a property, put it in a spreadsheet. They just jam it into this container of an Excel sheet or a Google sheet, force it into something that can be understood through numbers, and then make a decision based on those numbers under the illusion that that is safe.
As someone who owns real estate, I’ve just seen that it’s so much more of an art than a science. There are so many things that you cannot anticipate going wrong that will go wrong. Then there’s so many other times when you say, “Well, I’m going to think it’s going to appreciate by 3% every year,” because that’s what inflation is like traditionally. Then certain areas outperform others remarkably. There often is an element …
Like Rob and I are buying a house right now. We’ve talked about it a little bit. We’re raising money to buy that deal. Part of why we liked it was the feel that you get from that property. It was very, very unique. It had amenities that nothing around it had. When you enter into it, you get this feeling of like this is a special place that we believe will translate into money in a way that a spreadsheet just can’t describe.
So I’m curious, I know I’m setting you up for a very difficult task here, but can you elaborate a little on this lost art of understanding real estate from the experience of the person that’s going to be using it?

Jonathan:
Yeah, please, and I think we’ve just established we probably really are brothers with our names now, because I couldn’t agree more. It’s really I blabber on about this so much because I get so many investors who will bring to me the spreadsheet and I say, “Well, what’s that? How many properties have you seen?” and they say, “None.” I say, “Well, how do you even know what all those numbers mean? What do you know what 300 or 400 looks like in your market until you see what it smells like?” I need to know what 200 feels like, 300 feels like.
I don’t use calculators or spreadsheets at all. I use them if I’m vetting commercial deals because I’m running cap rates and I really want to know what that is. But that is never, for me, the defining decision, like you said. I go a lot on old-school feel, but I mean, again, I do have the experience to be able to do that.
But I think that new investors can be missing out on a lot by not getting into the crevices of real estate investing. That means having a feel for what’s good. Just like you were saying the house that you’re looking at, you feel it has something else to offer that nobody sees, that’s always why I flip. I find houses to flip that I think other people can’t see what I can see, more than just removing a wall or making it look pretty, but something in the feel for that end buyer who’s going to fall in love.

David:
Yeah. I want to make sure I don’t come across as reckless. I’m not saying go to a property, listen to a feeling and buy it based on that feeling. That is not the same thing.

Jonathan:
Same.

David:
You’re not like … What are those people call that have the little thing they hold out in front of them and they look for water in the ground? They walk around, and boom! It hits the ground, okay, dig here.

Rob:
Water miners.

David:
Yeah, water miner. There you go. Water witcher. It’s not that. So Brandon Turner said something remarkably intelligent one time, which he does more often than you would think from looking at him. He’s not a Greene. He was talking about how when people like he and I that are experiencing something make a decision, we do make it off of our gut. My gut will tell me that’s a good property or not. Often it’s not hard to make the decision. It’s hard to articulate to somebody else how I know that that is a good decision.
What he said is that’s because we have this very complex algorithm, that data has just poured into it over and over and over. We’ve seen things work out. We’ve seen things not work out. We’ve learned why they worked out or didn’t, similar to a professional fighter who’s in MMA, who has trained for so long that they can just recognize that person shifted their weight. They’re about to throw a kick or a punch, and they’re already moving before it comes. They don’t have to think about it. It’s a feel.
But what Brandon was saying is that if we actually broke down where that feeling comes from, it would be based on facts. We have to just have a lifetime of facts that we’ve seen that has been stored in our brain and our body that then manifests themselves through a feeling.
I was like that as a cop. I would be in situations sometimes and just think this feels wrong. I need to get out of here right now, and I would. Then later I would look back and say, oh, my whole back was exposed when I was right there. That was a terrible position to be in, or something else.
So as someone like you, Jonathan, I guess what I’m wanting to highlight is you have earned the right to have that gut feeling from the amount of time that you’ve spent in real estate. But it is very encouraging to people that a spreadsheet is a form of like … It’s like training wheels on a bike. There is a time where, as a new person, you do need that. You have to understand, is it going to make money or not? You need the software to tell you it.
It shouldn’t be the only thing making the decision. There still needs to be a lot of other factors that go into it. So I just wanted to highlight it’s not either-or. It’s not feeling or spreadsheet. It’s a spectrum that you’re operating underneath. I’m really excited to hear more about your background and how you’ve developed that feel that you’ve got. Rob, I think you had something you wanted to say there.

Rob:
Well, I do agree with that because I’ve got … So I always say that when you’re comping out a deal, when you’re running a deal, it’s part art and part science. When we’re starting out, it’s all science because you’re like, “Oh, I’ve got my spreadsheet. I have to trust that.” But as you gain experience, you start knowing what sticks out, what you like about properties, what’s not going to perform well, especially in the world of Airbnb.
Jonathan, you’re probably like this, because you say that you love looking at houses. You look at houses every day, so do I. I’m on Redfin every day. Now I’m at the point where someone brings me … Like someone will bring me an Airbnb deal and then I’m like, “That’s going to work.” They’re like, “But how do you know?” and I’m like, “I just do. I do because I’ve comped to that house.” I haven’t comped that house out, but I’ve comped to that house out a thousand times in various forms over the last five years.
Because of that, I know it’ll work. Then I’ll throw up numbers and they’re like, “How did you know? How did you know it’s going to gross $85,000?” I’m like, “Because I’ve done it two million times at this point.”

Jonathan:
Yeah. I mean I agree. I think it goes to what you said, it’s the data’s in my brain. And so, for somebody new, we don’t expect them to know all that.
The calculators are super valuable. I just find that they’re more valuable after you’re in person, and too many people are using data to make decisions without being in person. Once you go in person and then you go calculator, it all makes sense, because you’ve actually seen what is there.
You have to know the difference between all the price ranges in your area, especially if you’re doing rehab. I mean if it’s turnkey, great. I mean just look at the spreadsheets. But again, still, it’s probably not going to be as tight as you want.
I think repair costs are the missing thing for most investors. If you’re new, you just don’t know it. Who are you going to rely on to tell you what the repair costs? What the three of us are saying is, and from what Brandon said, from our experience, I can do the data in my head and say, okay, remove a wall. I know how much that is. Move that, add a big island. I know what those costs are.
So I mean I think from my end, again, nothing … I love new investors, I love helping them, but I want them to look at properties, because you can’t learn anything if you’re not seeing them in person. I think that’s where we all agree. It’s not that it’s either-or, like David said. It’s just you need to use all these things together, not just data. You’re not going to learn enough like that to be a great investor.

Rob:
Well, yeah, I mean, David, I’m curious. How do you walk that line yourself personally, as someone who’s bought out estate sight unseen a lot of times? I mean I’ve got to imagine there’s a little bit of a balance here with this concept, right?

David:
That’s a great question. I knew that as soon as we started talking that people were going to be thinking, “How is David telling me I need to see a property when he also said you don’t have to see it?” It depends on the type of property you’re buying.
So when I’m buying tract houses in Arizona, which I was doing a lot of in 2014, ’15, or so, I’ve seen enough tract houses, I know what those neighborhoods look like. I could describe to you exactly what a housing community in an HOA is like. There’s only so many variations of a floor plan that you could put together, that once I know it, I can tell from looking at pictures what I’m going to expect of that property. I know no house in a housing community, in a tract home like that, is going to be that much different from all the other homes. There’s just not a lot of uniqueness in them.
So the asset class itself is largely all the same house to me. It’s just a different version of the same house. If you’re buying a commercial property and you’re familiar with the area, what you’re doing is you’re buying an income stream. So in those senses, there isn’t rare amenities involved in it. It’s just that’s the area where businesses are allowed to operate based off of zoning. You’re not going to get very many companies that say, “I don’t want to put my business there as opposed to here because I don’t like the feel of the parking lot.” They’re going to ask what’s the location and what’s the rent.
So in those cases, I don’t have to see the property and get a feel for it. But when I’m buying other properties, like luxury properties … So I just put one under contract today in Moraga, California, which is a really expensive area east of San Francisco and Oakland. It’s a house up in the Hills, very unique, 5,000 square feet, really funky floor plan. Just looking at comps, you would think, “Oh, the comps are here, this house is here. That’s a good deal. I should buy it.”
Well, if you saw what this house looked like with the way that it’s situated, it’s goofy. It’s like a Frankenstein. It was like put together in different ways. You could make that house work if you were a family that had six kids and you needed a bedroom for all of them and you love that area. But those are not the people that are going to pay enough rent to make it work.
So I needed to see that house to figure out how am I going to move around walls and add bathrooms and create different floors? Is there ways to create separate entrances so I can adjust this property to make it function as a multifamily property?
I can’t do that from pictures. Maybe like a Matterport, you can try to get an idea. But you still have to see the home to get a feel for, “Oh, I don’t think this is a good idea. The master bedroom for this unit is directly outside of the kitchen of another one,” and they’re going to hear each other through the walls. That’s not the right way to do it.
So in those instances where you are buying a unique property … It’s not a tract house; it’s not just like this cookie-cutter thing that there’s a million pieces of data already and it fits in there … I do recommend outside of that that you look at the property and you understand it until you’ve done it enough times that you can look at the pictures, you already know the neighborhood, you already know the type of amenity, or you have a person on your team who understands that and they can give you that feedback.

Rob:
Yeah. So we have an understanding here of your underlying philosophy, Jonathan. So actually, for a little bit of context, can you tell us where your portfolio stands today? You started off with the foreclosures. I’m sure you’ve … I know, because you’re pretty active on the BiggerPockets forums. I know that you’ve grown to a pretty massive portfolio here. So can you tell us a little bit about yourself here?

Jonathan:
Yeah. I mean it comes and goes, really. I’ve never been a door investor. I don’t care how many doors I have. To be honest, I have no idea because I don’t really count like that. But I’ve owned every type of proper there is and I’ve probably done every type of strategy there is. I’ve done a lot of flipping in my career. I’ve probably flipped … I don’t know. I’m not a mass flipper, so I’m not someone who wants to do 50 a year because I’ve never had a flipping company. I’ve just done it on my own.
I’ve probably, in my career, maybe flipped, I don’t know, 50 houses. I’ve owned lots of houses over the years through my dad. But right now I have an LP stake in a 15-unit industrial park in The Hamptons, which we have a giant offer on, which is …
It’s interesting. For somebody like me who’s a long-term investor, I’ve learned to let things marinate. I think that’s what new investors have trouble with. They’re trading and they think it’s long term. But I’ve hold a lot of properties for 30 years, and this year we’ve been liquidating a lot.
So I really flipped one or two houses at a time. I probably owned between 10 and 20 doors at a time, trade them out and trade them up. The one thing I’ve never been big on, I’ve just never owned a lot of multifamilies. I think in the future, I probably will own more.
But I’ve owned commercial fiveplex, had 15-plex industrial park, and I’ve basically made careers out of single-family homes. The honest truth, which is the weirdest thing about investing that I think nobody really talks about, the best deals that I’ve ever made are on houses I lived in, because I’m good at buying houses. I know where to buy before … So I’ve doubled my money in Florida multiple times just on buying houses. I think that’s what keeps me as an old-school investor.
Right now my thing is I’m looking for main street commercial. That’s my 2022 thing. I think that main street’s got damaged from COVID. There’s a lot of open leases, which means there’s a lot of open possibilities to buy mixed-use buildings. So I’m really interested in that commercial main street mixed-use where I can get two retail and put in something that I want, which could be for one of my attorneys or for my team, and then use the other side for something creative that one of my kids may want to put in a business.
But I like having the option of a residential and commercial together. I think mixed-use is huge. I like hedging my bets with commercial against residential. So I know I have longer leases with commercial. Then upstairs, I have a little bit more leeway to do what I want.

Rob:
That’s a really nice tidbit there, man. One of my dreams, one of my ideas has always been to lease out a main street building, or the first unit on it, and tint out the windows completely to where you can’t see inside, but it’s actually an Airbnb on the inside of it. You can see outside and see everyone walking back and forth. I’ve always thought that’d be a good idea. So maybe with that, I’ll give it a shot.

Jonathan:
Yeah, and just as a drop back, I was doing Airbnb before Airbnb existed. My sister and I were doing Vrbo and HomeAway way back in the day and did great on it, learned a lot of strategies that helped. But right now, every single property that I buy I think is a potential Airbnb literally anywhere. I think it’s possible with the opportunities you have in placements.
So I think there’s a lot of new investors interested in that, but there’s definitely some things to look out for. But I think it’s cool that you can buy a multifamily now. You can intend to house-hack it, and then you could Airbnb the other side, close to hospital or close to a college. It’s just making so many options for investors if they invest smart to have those opportunities. I’m not sure about the tinted windows, but …

Rob:
We’ll workshop it.

Jonathan:
Yeah. Yeah.

David:
So here’s a question for you, Jonathan. When you are checking out a property and you’re getting that feel for it, maybe give us an idea of what kind of properties you’re typically looking at and what the experience is like for you as you walk into it.

Jonathan:
Yeah. I mean I’m looking for where the biggest costs are initially. So cosmetic, I don’t really worry about. I know how to fix everything cosmetically. I know how much everything costs. I want to get into the dirty parts. I want to go to the basement first. I want to see is this boiler or furnace going to work? Because that’s going to be $7,000 to $10,000. I look for all the things that are unseen.
Foundation, obviously, is big. My last two flips both had foundation repairs that cost more than expected, but I also got a good deal on it because of that. I do things, I think, that now are more common, like I’ll do sewer inspections on every property because if I have to redo an entire sewer line, that’s going to be $15,000. Maybe nobody does it and nobody finds out, and then it overflows into the basement when I’m trying to get ready.
So I look at all the anomalies or things that people wouldn’t see first. Then I go back to cosmetically, like you were saying before. I’m usually looking to move a wall in between a dining room and a kitchen in your typical compartmentalized home, open it up, move the island out. Then upstairs, if I’m looking at …
Like similar to the property you were talking about, if I’m looking at something with an excess of bedrooms, I’m often looking, can I combine a bedroom and make a giant primary suite that’s going to work better for somebody?
These days, as we all know now, after two years of a pandemic, I’m looking for small nooks in a house that I can turn into offices or cool different things, little places that can turn into something where people can work from home.
I think it’s really important. A lot of people are not going back to work in terms of going to an office. So when I’m staging a flip or looking, I’m just looking for those. A lot of random closets can turn into really cool offices. Especially for people who do podcasts. A closet can really work. So I like to think outside the box like that.
But from where you started, I look at the weirdest things that people will miss first, because that’s how I know that I can buy the house and it’s how I negotiate with sellers, especially if it’s on the market, because once I alert them to all the things that I’ve found, technically if we found it and we have documentation, they’re going to need to take into account that. If there’s a seller’s disclosure or once I let the agent know, then there’s going to be a possibility that they need to disclose it, which gives me leverage to get my deal the way I want.

David:
Yeah. I can tell from the way that you’re describing that this is what you look for in a house you’re going to flip, because those are amenities that people would care that want to house to live in. They’re going to want an office to work out of. They’re going to want a bigger bedroom. If you can take two small bedrooms and make one big one and give it a really big walk-in closet, or if it’s got a bathroom that can be connected to it, that’s going to make people go gaga when they’re looking at the home.
The example I gave was more a buy and hold property. How do I take this property that nobody wanted as a flip and turn it into a property that I can rent out?
But the point remains is you’re looking for the highest and best use of that property and how it can be modified or adjusted to make it more desirable. I really think, in today’s market, you’ve got to have these eyes. I don’t know … I wish Brandon was here, because he always has a way of creating some fancy marketing term for what I’m trying to describe. But it’s this way of looking at a property and seeing what it should be of making the deal, not just finding a deal.
That’s how it worked 2010 through 2015 or so. You would just look for the most motivated seller that you could find and write a really low offer, and boom, you made money in real estate. Well, now you’ve got …
Like this house that I’m buying in Moraga. It was on the market for nine months or so and didn’t sell. So I had to go find a listing that had been expired, figure out how to get in touch with the seller, and then start negotiations. It lasted about two months as I walked this property with my contractor many times to figure out how we would make it work. But it was a deal that I made.
Man, if you’re someone who’s trying to invest in one of these high-growth markets, like what I’m recommending people get into, this is the key. That’s why we’re talking about this now.
I’m going to pivot a little bit here. You’ve been on BiggerPockets for a long time. You have thousands of posts on the website. Can you walk us through what being successful in the BP community looks like and how you’ve used BiggerPockets to help your real estate investing business?

Jonathan:
Yeah, I mean BiggerPockets has always been huge for me. I mean I think I knew a lot when I showed up on BiggerPockets, but I had to watch to see how everything works to see how I can be an asset to the community. I think, over time, I figured out my best practice.
For me, somebody like me, I just like to add value. I have never have an ask ever. So I always have on my schedule every day BiggerPockets time. I go in, I make sure I’m on for at least 15 minutes and make at least five replies, sometimes more. But, yeah, I mean I have five steps for success that I think are important.
I will say that some people on BiggerPockets think I’m a little harsh, and I promise I’m not. The problem with, I think, a lot of just forums is a lot of people just want echo chambers, which is in here, or backpacks. I think that’s how people lose money. People who don’t know about real estate will tell everybody, “Do it, do it, do it. It’s great. Great deal.” They call me the deal-killer in my circles because I always say … They say, “Is this deal good?” I was like, “No, it’s the worst deal I’ve ever seen. Are you crazy?” They don’t feel bad because I’m saving them money.
So I’m very, very straightforward. I think, obviously, like on the internet, it’s sometimes too straightforward for people. But I’ll give you five tips that I think are really helpful, because I’ve used BP. I mean I have hundreds of real-life friends that I met on BiggerPockets. Plenty of investors and agents who ended up on my team I met through BiggerPockets, and never because I was out trying to recruit. It’s just because all I do is answer questions and try to add as much value as possible.
That’s the first one is always come from a place of value. I think that’s really important on any internet site. Are there going to be people selling things? Sure. But I think if you’re, over time, just trying to help people, you’ll develop real relationships, which something we’re talking about will then turn into real-life deals, because people always ask in the forums, “How do I find a mentor or a coach?” You build relationships and get to know people instead of just hoping, “Hey, I want a mentor. Can I have one?”
It’s people looking for help. But I think if you’re there to add value or have questions of value, you’re going to get a lot farther in terms of what you can learn on BP, because the learning is endless, but there’s a lot of stuff on there. So you need to know where to look and who to trust, I think, in terms of the answers on there.

Rob:
So what’s your advice? I’m assuming that you’re constantly getting hit up on the BiggerPockets forums, like, “Jonathan, will you be my mentor?” What’s something that someone could tell you or do that would really get a response that’s like, “All right, here’s what you need to do”? Is there any kind of secret formula there to blindly adding value to someone on the internet?

Jonathan:
Yeah. I mean I think like asking questions, I mean I’m sure David gets tons of pings. For me, I just want someone who’s honest and has a strategy. I don’t want to give them a strategy. I want someone to say, “This is what I’m doing. How’s this sound?” Again, not a hundred thousand words, but pretty succinct.
I respond to hundreds of people a week and I’ll do 15-minute Zooms with as many as I can as long as they’re presenting something that they’ve already done the work. I’m not going to do the work for somebody else. So when somebody says, “Should I pay for mentoring or coaching?” I always say, “No, you need to just build relationships first,” which is my second point.
I think that’s really what I want. I want someone coming to me not for me to tell them what to do, but I want them to tell me what they’re doing and then me give them some advice. I love having those conversations.
I mean wholesaling is a divisive topic. People have all their decisions on it. Myself, not a huge fan of doing it, but I like people who do it the right way. So when I see a new wholesaler and they’ve laid out a plan, that’s where I’m going to come in and say, “This plan actually looks really good,” and then I’m going to do the Zoom on that.
So I think the disconnect with getting answers from people that are reaching out to either David or myself, or to you or to anyone, it’s that they need to bring something with them. If you want a mentor in real estate investing, you have to have some value to add, whether it’s hustle or contracting background. So even if you want to ask a question, bring some value in the question so I can give you feedback instead of saying, like, “Where should I invest?” That’s like, I mean, just throw a pin in the water. You can invest anywhere.

David:
Yeah. I want to second that. I had a bit of an epiphany in 2022 when I sat down with my real estate sales team, the David Greene team. I came up with a vision for how the company was going to go. One of the things I realized is we have way too many agents that are saying, “Tell me what to do to get started,” like, “What do I say if I call somebody?” or, “I don’t want to call them. How do I get over my fear of talking about being an agent?”
You’re laughing because you see exactly where I’m going with it. I realized I can’t really help you with that. What I need is for you to say, “I held six open houses this month. This problem kept coming up where they would ask me a question that I didn’t know how to answer.” That is a thing I can help somebody with. Trying to convince them to go hold open houses when they’re scared is not something I can help them with. That was one of the changes that we made is you learn from doing, you go do it, and then we guide you in a better way to do it.
But, like you said, if you come with nothing, there’s not really anything that we can do to tweak the way you’re doing or give you a different way to look at it. So I wholeheartedly agree. That is so insightful because those messages I get where someone says, “Help. I don’t know where to get started. What market should I invest in? Where should I get money from?” they’re just asking questions that I don’t know what to tell them.
It would take so much effort to figure out their personal situation and give them advice based on it that, frankly, we’re just not going to do that. We have our own businesses that we’re running and our own employees that we’re trying to help. So, god, that is so good, is that if you’ve already got a plan and you’re in the middle of working it, that’s when a mentor or a coach can really help.

Jonathan:
Always. With the coaching, I think people always ask, “Can you coach me now?” and I said, “The best time to get a coach is when you have an existing business that you want to take to the next level.” You don’t need a coach to learn how to be a real estate investor. You need BiggerPockets. Get on the forums, build relationships, learn what people are about.
But, also, I’m a certified life coach. With life coaching, which I put into my business, the most important thing is someone can’t tell me, “How am I going to get myself centered?” I don’t know. What do you like? So my job helping investors is to make sure them, same as what you’re talking about the team, tell me what your goals are. Let’s figure out how you can get to those goals, but you have to hold yourself accountable. I’m not going to do the work for anyone.
I think when someone says, “Hey, what market should I invest in?” or a very vague question, I just know they haven’t done the research on their own to put them in the place. That’s the same person who says, “Hey, I want a mentor. Can someone mentor me? I don’t have anything to offer. I just want it.” Bring something. Everybody has something of value.
There’s no person who can’t be a good real estate investor. That’s absolutely true. It doesn’t matter your educational background. But you have to be willing to be educated on real estate investing and learn from other people. That’s the most important thing, I think, that’s out there.

Rob:
Yeah. I agree. Go study the concepts, then come to me with a specific question on how to apply the concept. But don’t come to me with a question to just explain the concept, like, “Hey, can you just explain this really general thing? I could go and research it and Google it, but I want you to type out a very long Instagram message that basically walks me through it.” I’m just like I mean this is hard. I want to help people. But I think when people do demonstrate a little bit of due diligence, I’m like, “All right, I’ll play ball.”

Jonathan:
You’ll get so much further. It actually goes into two of the last of the five total points. One is search the forums before you ask a general question. It seems easy to think, and I know that a lot of people get on and ask a general question, but the problem is you’re going to get bad answers, because those of us who’ve been here on BiggerPockets for five, 10 years, we’re probably going to make jokes, not because we don’t like you, just because if you ask about an LLC, it’s been asked a thousand times.
So if you’re doing the due diligence, just like we’re saying, it proves you want to be a member of the community more. If you’re saying, “Hey, I looked up all the forms. This is the one thing I couldn’t get the answer with,” I guarantee you you’re going to get the best answers you’ve ever seen. If you just put in vague questions, you’re not going to get it.
That also goes to one other, which is don’t look for an echo chamber, which I think is really popular. When somebody wants a deal, it’s always, “I want to put this square peg into a circle hole.”
I was just responding today on BiggerPockets to that exactly. Somebody said … I think the headline was something to the effect of, “How do I make this deal work?” I said, “I don’t have to read anything what you said, because if you’re asking how you make a deal work, you’re already in the wrong spot.”
I think a lot of new … In any context, not just investors, they come to forums to try to get a yes. Then when you tell them a no, they get mad. But what would be my motivation for telling someone, “No, don’t do that deal”? I don’t even live near there. I don’t want the deal. I’m trying to help.
But I think it’s a new way where a lot of people want the pat on the back and the yes, but there are people like me who are just going to say, no, I really think it’s a bad deal, but I’ll have reasons why. I think it’s more helpful. I don’t want anyone to make a bad first investment, because they’re not going to be an investor after that. I,

David:
So you just highlighted another one of your points, which was don’t look for the echo chamber. So to summarize where we have, we’re at always come from a place of value, build relationships first, don’t look for an echo chamber, and search the forums before you ask a general question. What would the last of the five pieces of advice be that you have for how to use BiggerPockets?

Jonathan:
Yeah. This one, I think, is more common for the agents who come on BiggerPockets. It’s stop selling yourself. That includes market-based, too. A question will come up, like, “Where should I invest” and then all the agents rain down, like, “Of course, it’s my city.” It’s not great … And the question’s not great, but it’s also … Like I much prefer … It’s like if you go on Yelp and say, “Where’s the best Chinese food?” and then the first four local Chinese restaurants say, “It’s here. It’s the best.” That’s not valid to me. I want to hear from the alternative sources who’ve used the products, or I want to hear from investors in those areas, like, “I’ve done this amount of investing.”
So any public forum, it’s not new on BiggerPockets, but I think everyone will get further … It occurs on Facebook groups all the time. You’re never going to get anywhere just selling yourself. Will you make a few sales? Sure, but I really think that the value inside Bigger …
If you look at the people who have answered the most questions, they’re all, all value. They’ve never sold anything. I’ve never gone onto the site hoping that I get a client. I end up with a lot of relationships, but because I have no interest in selling any of that.

David:
What do you think about the BiggerPockets member who is trying to sell themselves to the influencer or the mentor, the person that they’re hoping will help them?

Jonathan:
Yeah. I mean I think if you go back to the context we were talking about, if you want a mentor, I think you do have to bring value. But I think there’s a difference between bringing value and selling yourself for a product. If I’m an agent and I’m saying like, “Hey, I work with local investors,” we all know the rules on BiggerPockets. Don’t do that. Talk about the areas.
If someone asks about real estate in New Jersey, I go in, I answer the questions, and I get out. They can search on me and find out what I do, but I just think there’s a real fine line in terms of credibility. When you go over it, I think you lose the credibility as someone who’s going to be a long-term participant in the site.

Rob:
David, you and I just talked about this in the episode right before this one, with one of your agents, Johnny.

David:
Yeah, that’s exactly right. That’s why I’m interested to hear Jonathan’s perspective, because I think the people that are doing this at a successful level are all doing the same thing. It’s that idea that success leaves clues. We shouldn’t be surprised that there are certain things that pop up that are very common with the best contributors on BP, one of them, like Jonathan said, is that they’ll tell you what you don’t want to hear. People don’t like that, but it’s true.
I think I have a bit of a reputation as someone who just says just buy real estate no matter what, gungho, just buy, buy, buy, because I’m often encouraging people to take action. Then people are shocked when they message me off BP or off the podcast and I’m like, “No, terrible idea.”
I just had a conversation with someone yesterday who was saying he lives in Alameda, California, which is a really good market just outside of Oakland, like the best area, but it has really good schools, low crime, great place to buy. He’s paying $3,500 a month in rent.
I was saying, “You need to house-hack. We can find you a place where your mortgage is going to be $5,000. You’re going to be collecting $3,500 a month in rent. You’re going to be paying $1500 to live in one of the best areas that’s going to appreciate. You’re going to have great tenants.” They were like, “I think I want to go invest in Detroit because the home prices are lower and it feels safer.”
I think I just shocked him that I’m like, “I am staunchly opposed to that. That won’t be safer. You are going to hate real estate investing.” That’s like dating the wrong person and making you just hate love. You’re not going to want to date anybody after you go through that. It was different than the David that people hear when I’m on the podcast talking about it.
It’s probably worth pointing out that when I’m giving advice on something I think someone should do, I am very, very encouraging. I’m like punch through whatever obstacles you have. You have to get there. But if I see it going down a road that I think is bad, I’m going to be just as blunt about I’m not even going to help you if that’s the way you go because I think you’re going to get hurt.

Jonathan:
Yeah. That’s a fantastic dichotomy of answering real estate. Well, I mean I do the same. I think you’ve really summarized it great, because I want everyone to be invested in real estate. It’s great. I love it. I want all my agents to be investing. However, that doesn’t mean go, go, go on every deal. When you send us one deal, we might say no. But that doesn’t mean we’re not pro-investing.
I mean it’s a great way to break it down because I do think everybody should be investing or learning about it. I just want them to be ready and then take feedback on the deal.
There was just one thing I wanted to say, because we talked about the value on BP. To me, there’s a great metric to see who adds the most value. It’s upvotes versus posts. So when I looked and I was new, I would look and see, oh, well that person’s made 2,000 posts, but they have 2,900 upvotes. That means each post at least has one up vote. So every time I look …
I mean I know all the people who comment the most and I can see them like, oh, 10,000 posts, 14,000 upvotes. I know that that’s valuable contribution. If you see someone with 5,000 posts and 20 upvotes, nobody likes it. That’s where I think you want to look at your own metrics. Are you being a contributor and a participant?
That’s why I always answer questions. I very, very rarely ever start a post because there’s really no point. I’m there to provide answers. I have a lot of background knowledge, and I just try to pop in on anything that I see.

Rob:
It’s really great, man. Well, I think given your experience and everything like that, I think now would be an appropriate time to move into the deal deep dive, if everybody’s okay with that. Dave, anything else you want to say to round this one out before we jump into it?

David:
I’ll probably just add that Jonathan has so much value to bring that we didn’t get to all of it. So don’t think if you’re listening to this, this is all that Jonathan has. I would highly recommend that if you’re hearing this podcast, that you do go look up Jonathan on BiggerPockets. Send him a colleague request and then message him or communicate there, because we barely scratched the surface of what Jonathan has done in his career with investing in real estate and in flipping homes and in the different assets classes.
So I’m going to take the blame on this one that I didn’t get deep enough into Jonathan’s expertise. I hope you can forgive me. I’m going to use the fact we had this same last name.

Rob:
Some people just have so much. It’s like an hour-long podcast is really tough to dive into, I mean someone with such a wealth of knowledge.

Jonathan:
I will literally respond to everybody on BiggerPockets. I mean I don’t talk on the phone, so I love BiggerPockets. I set lots of Zooms. But again I have hundreds and hundreds of real-life friends from BiggerPockets, and that’s not an exaggeration. They’re great. I meet them. Some I’ve met in person, some I haven’t. We’ve had relationships for years just talking about investing.

David:
All right. Well, thank you for that. That will move us onto the next segment of our show. It is the deal deep dive. All right, Jonathan, this is the segment of the show where we are going to dive deep into one specific deal that you’ve done and learn as much about it as we can. We’re going to fire questions off at you back and forth. If you could just answer those questions, we’ll move right through here. Question number one. What kind of property is it?

Jonathan:
This one was a single-family purchased off-market, what I would call pre-foreclosure. That was direct mailers. I was sending out direct mailers. It was like an alert email with a little bit of a pre-foreclosure vibe. Got the call, took the call myself, went right out, figured out what they owed on the property, and then offered them a little bit more, which may be in your questions coming.

David:
Yeah. That would be the next question. How much was it?

Jonathan:
It was $225,000. I bought it for cash. So this is actually an interesting part of the story. They owed $209,000. Every offer that they had got before that was under $200,000. I knew that the market was topped out on the ARV, like around under $400,000, but I knew I could get over $400,000.
So I said, “Listen, I’ll give you $225,000 so you can walk away with $16,000.” I also gave them a use and occupancy agreement for 10 days after closing so they could move, and that had penalties on it. They ended up taking all 10 days. So I did get another $250 a day on that. So it was $225,000 straight cash purchase price on that one.

Rob:
Okay. So that was how you negotiated it. You brought out the cash, the big dollars. How’d you fund it?

Jonathan:
That one, I used a line of credit. So I have a line of credit. I have my own cash. Sometimes I use my own cash and sometimes use line of credit. For anyone who doesn’t know, line of credit is, I guess, better percentage-wise. It’s based on assets that I have. So I think on that one at the time, it was the first with this company. So I was probably on about upwards of 7% and maybe like a point and a half on that.
Then I financed the rehab on my own. I just paid cash for the rehab. I don’t like doing the rehab part of … I like to do that on my own because then I start to like nicer stuff as I’m flipping and I’m going to spend more anyway.

David:
Right out, okay. What did you do with this property? It was a flip?

Jonathan:
Yeah, it was basically … I wouldn’t say a gut job, but it was a full reno. Rehabbed every single room, house, redid the whole kitchen, blew out two walls. We put in what … It was an electric fireplace, but it was like a big structure that made it look cool. Again, it was another … Like you were saying, it was an oddball house that had a first floor bedroom, and the first floor bedroom had an en suite, but there was no first floor other bathroom.
So I opened the door to the dining room so now it was a first floor bathroom, but also still an en suite if they wanted. Then there was two beds and a bath upstairs. One of the beds upstairs was big. So it really had two primary suites, but everything was upgraded. Then painted the outside, reroofed it, and basically … There was no structural things that I had to do on it.
For this one, we did not finish the basement. Sometimes I will on the higher end. This one, I was trying to match what price point I thought I could get. Also, I think there’s just a lot of new home buyers who like DIY. So I like to leave them a project that they can think they’re going to do on their own, whether they’re ever going to do it or not. It wasn’t the type of basement that would’ve been amazing for finish. So I just left it instead of wasting my money.

David:
When you do that, it almost makes it feel better, because nobody wants to feel like they paid the full market price at the top of the market.

Jonathan:
Exactly.

David:
Even though they probably did do that. But if you get to leave something to say, “Hey, you can fix this,” it gives that feeling that, “Oh, I can add value to my house after I buy it.”

Jonathan:
Yeah, and it has to basement. You can’t do that in the kitchen. I’ve got to do something where I know like, “Hey, that attic, you can do later, or the basement, but I’m going to do everything nicely.” So, cosmetically, it looks like obviously it’s brand new.
I know you’re going to ask the rehab on it. The rehab was probably in the $60,000 to $70,000 range. Then holding costs and stuff were probably $10,000 or $15,000 I probably had about $80,000 in, so I was at a $305,000 value, like how much I had into it when I went to put it on the market.
But side note, I purchased it on 01/15/20, and then COVID obviously hit on 03/20. So I went into stall mode. We didn’t work for three months. Then, fortunately, on this one … I was doing two at the same time. This one I got going and I ended up putting it on the market. We ended up closing on October of 2020. So the turnaround was still pretty good.

Rob:
Yeah. So usually we would ask what’s the outcome, but you sold it, right?

Jonathan:
I sold it for $405,000. So I cleared about a hundred on it, barring any other fees. At a $225,000 purchase price, a hundred clear was pretty good. I think if you go way back to what we talked about in the beginning of the podcast, the reason I knew I was going to do fine on this deal is because I knew that the ARVs were around $400,000, and I always set my ARV low. So my flipping spreadsheet, I probably had it set at $375,000.
Then over the course of time, COVID hit and we’re like, “Oh no.” Then we saw prices started to go up. Then we’re watching the comps. I like to give myself a windfall at the end, like I have it locked at $375,000. Then I put it on … I think I probably listed it for $399,000 and sold for $405,000. I was very happy.
Didn’t get a ton of offers, which at the time it was COVID. You couldn’t show as much. But, yeah, I mean a hundred spread on that buy was a good one.
I think it just goes to show you can get places off-market. There were other people off-market trying to buy it, but I was smarter than them because I was willing to give up whatever, $10,000. Everyone skimping to offer them just $200,000 when they owed $209,000. You can’t offer someone less than they owe on a pre-foreclosure. That doesn’t make any sense. So I gave them a little money and I think that’s what got the deal done.
In the end, again, I do build good relationships. The sellers came back to the open house when I listed it, which I’m sure is a little bit sad because they always want to build the house that they like. But I always invite them back if we have a good relationship, just because I try to take it as I’m going to caretake the home. I’m definitely going to flip it, but I’m going to keep the character that you had on it. It’s why I can negotiate those off-market like that.

David:
So last question of the deal deep dive, what did you learn from this deal?

Jonathan:
Patience. I mean I think none of us expected to be flipping and then COVID happened. So I’m not, in general, a patient person, but I’ve learned … There’s never one flip where I don’t learn patience. I don’t get too crazy. I know my numbers. I know even if things go wrong, I’m going to make money. It’s just a matter of how much money I’m going to make. If I make a little less on one, I’ll make a little more on another one.

David:
That highlights the real estate is more art than science. When you make your living in this space, you just make a peace that there’s this ebb and flow. When you hold these rigid ideals, like if you had gone into that deal saying, “I am going to make $105,000 on this,” and you end up making $102,000, it has an emotional impact on you where you’re like, “Oh, I’m not good at flipping houses,” instead of, “I just made $102,000.”
Sometimes it’s subconscious, sometimes it makes into your conscience, but you have to hold it with a loose hand. Just like you said, you can’t know a shelter in place was going to happen from COVID.
I also noticed that investors beat themselves up when things don’t go well, but when it appraises for more than what you thought, or when the market goes up way more, you’re never like, “Well, that was great. Now I feel better about being in this asset class.” You just say, “Oh, well, that just happens. I got lucky.” The next deal could be terrible.
But you’ve got to go with both. Sometimes they appraise low, sometimes they appraise high. Sometimes you get multiple offers, sometimes things happen and you get one. It’s that understanding that you knew that home, when you made it the way that you did, someone was going to want to buy it, that whether you made as big of a profit as you wanted, you weren’t going to lose money because you designed it in a way that would be desirable.
So I love that you’re sharing that and that you have that mentality as somebody who’s been around real estate for long enough that you win some, you lose some. But what you don’t want to do is force a round peg into a square hole. That’s where you just lose everything.

Jonathan:
Yeah. I just think you have to know that you’re going to take losses if you want to be in it long. Not necessarily losses. I have had big losses, but that was due to the economic meltdown in 2008. But just like you’re saying, sometimes if you’re at a deal and you know you’re not going to make as much as you thought, the first thing I think of, well, at least I’m going to get my deposit money back. Maybe I’m not making a profit, but now I’m going to take that deposit money, use it for something else and do a better job.
I’m not a genius. Market conditions, like you said, change. But I have to know I’m in this for the long haul. So if I hit a double on one, great. I’ll try to hit a triple next time. Sometimes I’ll hit a single. It’s not really a big deal as long as you are really in it for the long haul.

David:
I love the baseball analogy, because when you’re playing baseball, the pitch comes in, you have a half-second to make your decision, you swing. Sometimes a pitcher leaves it over the middle of the plate and you get really good contact and sometimes it doesn’t. You can’t make yourself hit a home run. Home runs come to you, usually from someone else’s mistake. And so, that’s how real estate often feels.

Jonathan:
Yeah. I mean think about baseball, 300 hitters in All Star. I mean we all want to do better than 30% of our deals go well. I think probably 90% of my deals go well, so how can I complain? 30% good in baseball. That’s a great point.

David:
All right. We’re going to wrap up the deal deep dive and move on to the next segment of the show. It is the world-famous …

Speaker 4:
It’s time for the fire round.

David:
In this segment, Rob and I are going to fire questions at you. These questions come directly out of the BiggerPockets forum. So you might be the most qualified person ever in the history of this podcast to answer these questions. Question number one, what do you consider networking faux pas? What are things at meetups people should not do?

Jonathan:
I’ll go back to sell yourself, but I’ll also say … I guess I wouldn’t say be too eager, but I’d say your eagerness has to be based on your willing this to be a participant, not trying to drive something only for yourself. Being aware of what you want. It doesn’t mean that other people want it. I think everyone has to come with a participant mindset for all networking. Who do I want to meet? How can I add value to them? In turn, they will probably add value to me down the line.

Rob:
Biggest new investor mistakes when reaching out to mentors.

Jonathan:
Oh, wow. It’s going to be right along the same line. It’s asking a question that you haven’t done the research on to try to figure out anything yourself. The best answers that you’re going to get are when you’ve really tried to get the answer and you’ve narrowed down the thing that you really need help on. Those are easily answered by experienced investors. I can tell you we all appreciate that much more than, like we were saying before, where should I invest? It’s just not enough information. It means you haven’t done the legwork to try to help someone give you the best answer.

David:
Next question, how would you recommend picking an out-of-state market? Do you have any tips to offer in this regard?

Jonathan:
Yes. Oh, this is a great one. I actually have a little system. It’s two-pronged. You make a list … I didn’t even know this was coming. Good setup. It’s a list of two things. One, make a list of every place that you’ve ever lived in your life or gone to school. Two, make a list of all the friends and family members, the ones that you like and trust, where they currently live or have lived.
The reason why you do this is because those are now areas where you have a competitive advantage. You’ve either been there, so you know the landscape. So even if you’re looking out of state, you know the streets, you know where you’ve gone.
Then your second one is if you have friends or family, but you haven’t lived there, you have the competitive advantage of trusted boots on the ground.
If you take those two lists and then you balance them against all the things we’re looking at on BiggerPockets, if Dave comes out and data will tell you something, you take your list and compare to lists. I guarantee you places on your lists will work with some of the hot investor markets. Then you’re already building yourself into a competitive advantage market instead of just flying blind and having to build an entire team that you don’t know.

Rob:
Perfectly said, perfectly succinct strategy. I love it. Last question, possibly the most important question of the podcast, if I change my last name to Greene, will I be successful?

Jonathan:
I think David and I agreed before that the answer is definitely yes. As long as you don’t botch up our names, which we talked about before, you’ve just got to keep it. It’s just Greene. The E is silent. Keep it real.

Rob:
Duly noted.

David:
I don’t know why that extra E is at the end of Greene. I understand it’s not normal. But, no, it’s not Greene, it’s not Greene. It’s not any form other than Greene. Also, keep an eye out for imposters on social media, because once you see there’s someone that has a level of success, they can easily misspell your handle on social media and then reach out to you pretending to be somebody else. It’s not hard to get pictures of somebody and make a profile.
So there’s a lot of that going on, which is one why we recommend that you go to the forums to get your advice, because you can know you’re actually talking to Jonathan when you’re looking at his BiggerPockets profile.

Jonathan:
Absolutely.

David:
All right, last segment of the show. It is the world-famous …

Speaker 5:
(singing)

David:
In this segment of the show, we ask every guest the same four questions every single episode. Question number one, what is your favorite real estate book?

Jonathan:
I’m so prepared for this, and I’m going off to the side with Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss. Because I have a legal background, I know that everything in real estate is based on negotiation. You can do all the data analysis that you want, if you’re not good at negotiation, you’re never going to close deals.
There’s never been a better book on negotiation than that book, and just understanding how to deal with people. It’s the same as a lot of what we’re talking about. All negotiation is relationships and how you can use the relationships to move the deal forward. The audio book is amazing too, because you get to hear him do the late night DJ voice, which is really important.

Rob:
Fun fact: David carries that around everywhere he goes. It’s always in his pocket. You can see it’s just there, man. It’s always nice.

David:
It’s like in those movies where you see the hero get shot and you think they’re dead, but then it turns out like they actually have a book under their shirt. That is what the book is for me.

Jonathan:
Yeah.

Rob:
Next question, favorite business book.

Jonathan:
I’m going to give a top one and then a backup. Number one, for sure, without any question, is The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. I’ve literally made hundreds of people read it. I think it’s very, very scalable in terms of what you want to do in real estate. Start small, do the same thing every day, turn around in a year and look how far you’ve come.
Then the backup to that is Who Not How by Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy. If you’re growing a real estate business as an investor, you need to read Who Not How, because you can’t do everything. That’s the main thing that I’ve had to learn in all parts of my business. Who can I hire to do this because I don’t want to do it anymore? Now I’ll be able to through 3X or 4X my production because of that.

Rob:
Very nice. Very nice. So when you’re not expanding your real estate empire, what are your hobbies? What do you do for fun?

Jonathan:
I like aimless walks in nature, which sounds boring. But I am getting older. I love nature. I love taking pictures of nature. Then my son has made me into a board game aficionado. We play board games literally all the time. He has like 20, and we’re on the top hundred board games list playing a new one two, three times a week. It’s great for the mind. It helps the mind work and it helps give me a break from real estate.

David:
All right. In your opinion, what sets apart successful investors from those who give up, fail, or never get started?

Jonathan:
Definitely coachability, and I don’t mean that in like you have to have a coach. You have to be able to learn from other people to be good in real estate. That’s a direct representation of what you can do on BiggerPockets.
If everybody can just take in all the advice of conflicting opinions as well, that’s being coachable, not always thinking that you know the answer, because I can tell you, from 30-plus years in real estate investing, I’ve never done a deal where I didn’t learn something new. The second that I think I know everything is the second I’m going to blunder a deal and turn into a failure.

Rob:
Just bringing the fire today, Jonathan. Final thing here, tell us where people can find out more about you.

Jonathan:
You can obviously find me on BiggerPockets. I’m pretty easy to find on there. On social, most of my handles are TrustGreene with an E at the end, like David and I always have to tell people. I have a pretty YouTube channel. I think it’s Jonathan Greene RE. Then, again, my podcast is coming out soon. It’s called Zen and the Art of Real Estate Investing. It’ll probably be out by the time we finish this, but it’s not out yet.
But, yeah, you can find me all over. I do the same on Instagram. TikTok, I play around with. But you’ll find the same messages there. Not out there to sell anything. A lot of it is just doing what I can to help people learn more. And a bunch of nature photos, because I don’t care to sell everything. A lot of stuff’s just what I like on social.

Rob:
Dave, what about you? Well, Mr. 24 here, Greene24. Where can people find you on the internet?

David:
Yeah. You made a funny joke about that earlier, where you said apparently there’s 23 other David Greenes running around because that’s why you had to pick DavidGreene24, which is funny because Brandon used to tease me about the exact same thing. He’s like, “You didn’t play in the NBA. Quit putting a number on your name like you think you’re cool.” He wanted me to put like TheRealDavidGreene or TheReal_David … But I think that’s even cheesier. So it’s DavidGreene24.

Rob:
I think you should do like TheRealistDavidGreene. TheRealist.

David:
Yeah, that’s exactly like Keepit100DavidGreene, something like that. I like TrustGreene. That’s pretty good. But, yeah, you can hit me up on LinkedIn, Instagram, anywhere else. Then on YouTube, I’m David Greene Real Estate. How about you, Rob? Where can people find out more about you?

Rob:
They can always find me on the YouTubes at Robuilt. You can find me on Instagram, @Robuilt as well. And you can find me on TikTok at Robuilto. Friendly reminder to everybody listening to this, David and I will never ask you to send us a message on WhatsApp or we will never ask you for crypto or Bitcoin.

Jonathan:
Can I just add one more thing at the end? It’s a props for David.

David:
Yeah, please.

Jonathan:
So we use the book Sold in our book club last year for my new agents. Absolutely knocked them out of the park. So we’re just waiting on Skill number two, because I have it scheduled for August. So we need that release. But it’s the perfect book for new agents learning how to do the business nuts and bolts. I gave it to every agent on my team to read as part of our book club, and they really liked it. So just wanted to tell you that in person since it’s the first time we met online. Yeah, absolutely.

David:
Thank you, Jonathan. I really appreciate that. Skill is going to be coming out any day now, I believe. When this one airs, it should be coming out. So Sold was for new agents just to learn how to be profitable. I think Skill is a much better book, frankly, because it focuses on how agents can become top producers and be really, really good.
Then I’m wrapping up the third one, Scale, which is going to be how to build a team so that you can take real estate sales and create it into a form of passive income, much like investing. So thank you for saying that.

Jonathan:
Yeah, absolutely.

David:
That book doesn’t get referred to nearly as much.

Jonathan:
It’s in our book club.

David:
Rob, any last words?

Rob:
No, man. Jonathan, thank you so much for coming in, sharing your POV, and really just being authentic. I mean it’s very clear why people love you on the BiggerPockets channel. You keep it real. You bring the good and you’re also very real with people. I think that, to me, is kindness. You give without expecting a return. So we thank you very much, good sir.

Jonathan:
Oh, thanks so much for having me. I was waiting for so long. I was so happy when I got the email. So it’s been a real pleasure and an honor to get on here and do the podcast.

David:
Yeah, keeping up with the baseball analogy. You were sitting in the bullpen, you’re waiting. The coach comes out, manager taps the left arm-

Jonathan:
I was ready.

David:
… calls in Jonathan, and you crushed it. You just struck out the side and took it home. That’s exactly right. Thank you very much for your time and being here, we appreciate it, as well as the contribution you made on BiggerPockets throughout the years.
Everybody listening, stop what you’re doing right now. Go to BiggerPockets, look up Jonathan, send him a colleague request, and let him know that you appreciated this episode. If you’re in the area … Jonathan, which area are you in? The New Jersey area?

Jonathan:
Yup. Well, my team runs all over New Jersey, and that is Streamlined Properties On-Market. So you can find that at streamlined.properties. But, yeah, New Jersey. But I will communicate with any investor in any market. I love helping investors with great questions, anytime. Always available in the BP through the inbox.

David:
Awesome. So reach out to him if you need an agent or if you’re looking for deals, or if you have a deal that you would like to wholesale to Jonathan. Follow Rob at Robuilt and follow me at DavidGreen24. We’re going to get you guys out of here. If you like this episode, go listen to another one. This is David Greene for Rob “Man of Few Words” Abasolo, signing off.

Watch the Episode Here

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In This Episode We Cover:

  • Going beyond the spreadsheets and analyzing real estate internally (before using a calculator)
  • How to get the “feel” of a house when investing out-of-state
  • The crucial parts of a house Jonathan looks at during his first walkthrough
  • The five steps to being successful in an online community (or in real life too!)
  • Choosing your perfect out-of-state market using two simple data points
  • Flipping poorly designed homes into massively profitable masterpieces 
  • And So Much More!

Links from the Show

Books Mentioned in the Show:

Connect with Jonathan:

  • Coinsmart. Europe’s Best Bitcoin and Crypto Exchange.Click Here
  • Platoblockchain. Web3 Metaverse Intelligence. Knowledge Amplified. Access Here.
  • Source: https://www.biggerpockets.com/blog/real-estate-584

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