David: Alright guys, welcome back to the Discount Property Investor podcast. I am your host David Dodge. My partner Mike is out in the field buying us rental properties like he does every time I record a show, and that is alright.
Today I have a special guest, Michael Zuber from One Rental At A Time. Me and Michael are going to talk about some rental properties, we are going to talk about the current market conditions. I actually just really want to interview Michael as well, because I have been following Michael online. He is putting out some really good content, and he has an awesome YouTube channel, One Rental At A Time. Let's give a warm welcome to Michael Zuber. What's up, Michael?
Michael: Hey David, thanks very much for having me. I am pretty excited to see where you were going to take this thing. You're big time, so I got to come with it today.
David: I don't know about all of that, man. But, I am happy to have you on the show. I am grateful for your time. I am really happy that you're here. Let's talk about Michael Zuber for a minute. Let's learn a little bit more about you. How long have you been investing? Where do you live?
Michael: So I live in the city of Mountain View. Most people just know it as Silicone Valley, or the Bay Area. I invest in Fresno California, which is the central valley, so about two and a half hours way from where I live. I have been investing-- I bought my first house at 1818 Norse Drive, East 3703 in December of 2002. So--.
David: Wow, you know your numbers.
Michael: Yeah, I have been asked a few times.
David: What year was it?
Michael: December of 2002.
David: So eighteen years ago. I'm about one or two years behind you. Probably two years behind you. That's awesome.
Michael: Yeah, the good news is you and I can both say we invested before the crash, which should mean something today. There is a lot of people that got five years or less, this is their first event. Many of them-- rightly so, they are scared, right? You and I have some scars and wounds and some memories of the last crash. Let's see.
David: Yeah, absolutely. So you bought your first one in 2002, I love your-- the name of your YouTube channel and your book as well, 'One rental at a time', because that's how it happens, guys. One at a time, I love it. So simple but it rings so true. How many are you up to now? What are you focusing on?
Michael: So we got to just under 200 units when we both retired in 2018. We did prune some of our inventory in 2019. One of the things we believe in, or I believe in is-- bulls make money, bears make money, but pigs get slaughter. This is important for a couple of reasons. One, in 2006-- pre crash, we did a bunch of 10-31 exchanges, because single family homes got crazy expensive. We moved our equity to apartments. So we went from eight door houses to eighty units, all apartments, no houses. What we just did recently in 2019 I was very vocal about bigger isn't better. As we sort of said earlier, you and I invested through the last crash. A lot of my history is investing in a recession. Apartments didn't do great. People like to say that people left housing and came to apartments. That's all true. I did have record occupancy, but I didn't have record economic occupancy because some people moved in, some people moved out. My only two years that were negative cash flow were those years during the recession when my apartments didn't do great. In 2019 kind of in the Summer I listed all five of our apartments going, hey if they sell, I think all these prices are stupid. They all need work, but hey, if someone wants them then take them. We sold three of our five apartments. We put a whole bunch of cash in the bank. The other two didn't sell, we just took them off the market because we were happy to keep them. Lo and behold we look like geniuses right now. We have record amounts of cash that we never had before, we are buy and hold investors, which by the very nature we don't have a lot of cash because it is always going into the next rental. But we are in a nice position today.
David: And you still have 200 doors?
Michael: 150 doors.
David: 150 currently, wow that's a ton. That is double what I have essentially. That is awesome. I am heavily over on the single family side. But still, that is very cool. I didn't realize that you had that many, and the fact that you guys capitalized on the top of the market, that's awesome. Don't be ashamed of that. You sound like you're ashamed, that's awesome, congrats, you have a bunch of cash in the bank, hell yeah!
Michael: I am going to be buying a lot of houses in the next 18 months. We are probably 50 50 now. Probably 70 houses, 80 apartments today. We have a large single family-- that's what I like to buy, that's what I've always known. But if somebody wants to give me an apartment at the bottom of the market, I feel obliged to take it.
David: Oh yeah, absolutely. So Michael, let's take a step back. I get ahead of myself often, you are going to learn that if you don't-- haven't already learned that. What got you into real estate investing from the get go? What is the reason that got you in? This is back in 2002.
Michael: Yeah, late 2002. Yeah so-- I don't know if my story is common or not, kind of feels like it is. So I was 30 years old in 2002, I had just suffered a six figure loss in the stock market, does that sound familiar to anyone? Anyone suffer a six figure stock market loss today?
David: Oh yeah.
Michael: So I did that in 2002, and realized that as a thirty year old, I traveled for a living as a traveling sales person for enterprise software companies. So I made okay money, but my quality of life was atrocious. I could be on three different continents in a week. I would routinely see three different cities in a week. I would have one day off, usually Saturday so my quality of life was terrible. But I lost all that money and sort of sat back on one of my plane rides going-- not only am I a failure but I can't keep doing this. I am thirty and I look at my organization chart, and there are guys 45-50 who are just the most unhealthy creatures I have ever seen. They are all overweight, they have drinking or drug problems, on their third marriage. It is just a high stress horrible existence. I'm like-- I don't want me any of that. At the time, you would actually go to a physical book store, and I stumbled across Rich Dad Poor Dad. The book was purple, it's my favorite color. I guess I have to read this one, what is this all about? That book shook me to my core. It introduced me to a concept that I had never heard of, this whole rental property.
David: Isn't it funny how that happens? It's like-- that happened to me too, right? It happened to like ten million other people. That book has changed so many lifes, it's crazy.
Michael: Yeah it shoot me to my core. It introduced concepts I had never heard of. Nobody in my family ever had any money, I mean like nothing. The idea of owning your home was foreign to us, let alone a rental property. It just wasn't something we talked about. It did, it shook me to my core, it made sense, it felt logical. I understood spreadsheets, I could compare numbers. I'm like, you know what? Screw it, I am going to take that 40'000 bucks I have left, which four months earlier was six figures, and I am going to go buy a rental property. Don't know what that means, but I am going to do it, right? So I did what the book said, right? It said invest thirty minutes from your house. Not Rich Dad Poor Dad. But when I read other books. I'm excited so I am going to go read a hundred other books. They all said invest thirty minutes from home. This is 2002 in Silicone Valley, but nothing cash flowed, right? Nothing was even close. I am like, Goddammit--.
David: Worse market ever. New York--.
Michael: Exactly, right? I was like--. I remember the day vividly, the wife and I pulled put a California map. We started drawing circles around where we live. Thirty minutes, sixty minutes, ninety minutes. We finally got two and a half hours from home, which is going to be our last circle. We hit Fresno California. I'm like, have you ever been to Fresno? No. Have you ever been to Fresno? No. I'm like, well looks like we can buy a hundred thousand dollar house and it will rent for a thousand bucks. Damn it, we're buying something.
David: Yeah, boom, there ya go.
Michael: I didn't know anything. We had a friend of a friend that we kind of knew. We looked at once house and bought it. That was the extent of our research. I had felt like we had been looking for a year already.
David: Man, I am glad that we backed up and talked about this, this is great. Jump right in, I love that.
Michael: Awesome, yeah. So that's what we did? We ended buying a house. It turns out-- the story doesn't get better from there unfortunately. But, that's how we started. That first house is an eventful story, because we did everything right, right? We hired a property manager, they did credit and reference checks, income, criminals records. All the stuff you're supposed to do they did. But unfortunately that couple got a divorce. The first month they were in my place and the-- wife took off, and the husband became a functioning alcoholic and stopped going to work, then destroyed our place. So in California that meant he had about three months free rent, and when we finally got him out we had a bill for a thousand dollars for the attorney, and a $15'000 repair bill. So we got first month, we got deposit, and that's all we got for the first six months, then a nice $15'000 kicker at the end of that.
Michael: Not fun.
David: Shit! Man, that's terrible because like-- that's happened to me before too, right? But you know, average it out over 75 or 80 doors give or take, it's not a big deal. But on the first one, man! Shit! Alright so-- what happens next?
Michael: So I remember just replaying all the mistakes we make in the stock market going-- shit there is another one, there's another one. We can't do it. We're jinxed, all these negative thoughts going through your mind, right? Olivia who's my wife goes-- when we drove down there and saw it again. She was like, well cost of doing business, this was always possible. Let's do it again. I'm like, what do you mean let's do it again.
David: Damn so you're wife was like--.
Michael: She was down.
David: Hey-- fail forward, fail fast, fail forward. I like that.
Michael: Yeah you would like her. It got better from there. The good news is we have had thousands of tenants now over almost twenty years. If two stories like that-- it does suck that it did happen on our first one, but it doesn't happen very often. I just know telling that story-- I do it for two reasons what happened. I have to remind people that bad stuff happens. When you're a landlord, bad stuff happens. People will lie and steal, shit will break. It will happen.
David: It does happen, man, absolutely. I like that you keep it real. Everybody wants to talk about the bright side of the business all the time. They never want to talk about the shit that happens to them, or to their houses, or to their business. Stuff does happen.
David: That's really cool. Boom, man, you have been doing this since 2002. You hated your job. You realized that time and health is more important. You guys jumped in, that is phenominal. That was eighteen years back. At this point you have about a 150 units and a boat load of cash in the bank. That's what's up. You mentioned that you had 46, 50 flips over the last two years.
Michael: Yeah so I never did any flips while I was working.
David: What kind of flips?
Michael: I call them-- I don't know what they are called in the industry, but I call them pride of ownership. I buy a slumlord property which is just a total junker. Just think--.
David: Have you always rented?
Michael: Well they always have tenants. Saying they are rented might be a stretch. I buy a lot of stuff with--.
David: You're buying them with people living in them though?
Michael: Yeah most of the time. Most of the time there is somebody there. Most of the time they are not paying, most of the time I'm buying from a frustrated landlord or even an owner. I probably bought half a dozen from grandparents who have grand kids living in there who are not paying. There is all kinds of stuff that can happen in real estate. They are often occupied. You do cash for keys, do a physical eviction, all of that stuff. They are just disgusting. Often they are nothing people should be living in they are that bad
David: Where do you find these properties?
Michael: Wholesalers. Last couple of years they have been wholesalers. I would say of the 46 we have completed, 30-35 were from wholesalers. The other 10-12 were just out of the listing service, or from people in my network saying, hey this one is a dog, I can't put it in the MLS, can you buy it? Because when you're known as a producer, and you have bought through the last cycle, people trust you which is important. I think my reputation-- I treat it as gold out there. So yeah, there was a bunch of wholesalers, young guys hunting, doing door knocking, texting, cold calling.
David: Now you live in the Bay area. You do your investing in Fresno. Is this just the rentals or the flips too?
Michael: Everything is in Fresno.
David: You do all of your investing there?
Michael: Uh huh.
David: Very cool. So you already have maintenance guys.
Michael: Oh yeah.
David: So it's like, you might as well put them on a project when they are not doing calls. You know how it is with the calls. They come in waves. Why? I don't know, but you don't get one for four days, then you get twelve of them. It's like, what in the world?
David: Unbelievable, you know? So when they are not doing the calls, the maintenance and the upkeep, they are working on projects. I would imagine that's how it works, right? Because that's how we do it.
Michael: Certainly how it started. I would tell you now, there is one team we have designated to doing flips. But when there is a big remodel, they stop the flip and go back and do it. If it's just paint and carpet, I will let someone else do it. But they might be 50 or 100 bucks more expensive, but I don't want my team off the flips. When I had a roof leak because it rains out here, we had a roof go out the other day. Instead of spending ten grand, I had my guys come in for 6500. Okay stop the flip, go do the roof, then come back. That's how it works.
David: We're very similar too. I like that. So 46 flips in the last two years. That's impressive in itself. So you are buying these properties-- I'm in St Louis, you're in California. The laws in St Louis to get someone out-- you are looking at 45 days to two months, but typically you can get them out with cash for keys, or other routes.
David: But not always. But in California it's like double that, right? Maybe triple even in some scenarios?
Michael: No, if you do it-- the good news is about having the big rental portfolios. You just have all the procedures in place. Even if I buy a flip, I buy it and stick it in the portfolio, so it gets all the same rules. It has the same attorneys ready to do evictions.
David: Yeah, you have the systems in place already. Just pop it in the system, where's it at in the model? Okay boom boom boom. Got it. -- in the proceeding process, because it is all lined out in the system. I love that.
Micheal: We usually have a decision in 48 hours. Again, I don't do any of this. Somebody on my team will visit that tenant within the first 48 hours where we will get our feel. How easy will they be to get out? Will they take half a month's rent? Sometimes if my team is ready to go, I will offer them the full fee of the eviction, which is almost a thousand bucks. If you are going to get out tomorrow or Friday, you get 950 bucks. Most people will take that. The longest eviction we had I think was 62 or 63 days. It happens.
David: You've got this down. I have heard people saying that in California-- maybe it's just some areas, but we are taking six to eight months to get people out.
Michael: We have some areas in California that are very tenant friendly. Typically Oakland California is the highest one. Yeah you could have some professional tenants as I call them, stick you for a year.
Michael: Yeah. I won't invest there.
David: One of my buddies, Kyle, he's in my mastermind, he lives in Laguna Beach I think, he said in that area it's like a year.
Michael: Yeah, I don't know. I don't play there. Too long/
David: That's crazy, man. So you guys get them cheap, you are buying direct from the seller or from the wholesaler, sometimes the MLS, I love it. You're buying properties that are problem properties, so you are dealing with motivated sellers. Some of these are habitable, some of them are not. It doesn't matter, you are buying them at a discount, then you're flipping them. You are doing rehabs, are you then selling them on the MLS? Retail?
David: Or are you selling them to investors? What is the exit strategy?
Michael: The exit is pretty cool. I am sure there are other people doing it. I think it's cool. I call it taking a slum lord and turning it into a pride of owner rental. Let's just use some numbers, right? So I buy a house for $80'000, I spent $40'000, and I do everything. Everything-- one of the things I do is everything is the same. The paint color is the same, the flooring is the same.
David: Cabinets, counter tops.
Michael: All the same. The only decision is the kitchen lay out, because some kitchens are layed out different, but other than that it is always the same. That's why it's so easy to do. You can take left over supplies from one project to the next, and it just keeps on rolling. Then I put in a tenant. Another thing I do is sell them occupy. I just keep them in my system, because I want to be able to sell it with a signed lease and property management already in place. I don't appreciate-- I know there are a lot of turn key that sell them vacant and promise some rent level. Not me, I actually get a signed lease.
David: I like it. You gave them another step too. Is that a company you own? The management company or no?
Michael: Nope. I want not affiliation. They can take the--.
David: That can go either way, I like that fact-- I didn't want to over speak, right? But I like the fact you don't, because it's like, listen, I'm using them, they are managing my properties, right?
David: It's in place. If you want to take it elsewhere, go for it.
Michael: No relationship, no incentive, don't make a dollar, don't get a discount, nothing. Yeah, if you want to use it great. The reason I want to sell it occupied is-- I have been talking for two years now in my real estate channel, One Rental At A Time, about understanding what a bad, average, good or great deal is. What I always tell people who buy my stuff is that they are always going to get a good deal. I don't promise great deals, but I promise they are going to be better than average. I only can do that if I can calculate the yield, or the return the house provides. You can't do that unless you have a signed lease. It's hocus pocus, it's---.
David: That is so true. That is so true.
Michael: I sell it-- I won't even open escrow until we have a signed lease.
David: Are you listing these on the MLS as rented? Where do you take them to?
Michael: 46 properties sold, thankfully I have every one of them sold before they were completed in the repair process. I sold probably 15 or so to my personal network, but the other 30 or so have come through my real estate channel One Rental At A TIME on YouTube. YouTube has brought me, I don't know, 18 or 19 different buyers. Many of them buying more than one.
David: Wow, that's-- I have not heard that yet. Something new every day, guys. That is cool, man. I know your YouTube channel has been blowing up lately. I saw you did a video the other day and it was-- I was like, damn what is he doing over there?
Michael: Consistency pays off. I have been doing original content on YouTube everyday for the better part of a year. Again, I don't work, so I usually get two or three videos up by 9am Pacific. Yeah, it's over 6000 subscribers now. But again, the YouTube channel for me is fun, it's entertaining, we do all kinds of things. But there is no question, it has produced probably three million dollars in sales all from landlords, all from-- most people will read my book first I have found. They will get it on Amazon or Audible, then they check me out on YouTube, then they figure out what I'm doing. Oh, I get this, what is a bad, good, average deal? I get it. They understand how to compare deals, because I have been saying for a long time that apartments are grossly overpriced and to buy houses. That was my message for 2019. Then I was telling people, I am not only telling you this, I am doing it, right? Here's an apartment I sold, and here is another one I sold. Houses are a better investment. I think they will be better investments for two or three more years, and I am going to buy a lot of houses. Yeah it's been great, I've not had to list on MLS, I haven't had a property not sell before it was finished. I'm lucky, I have two more in escrow now that should close in the next four to five weeks. That will be-- that will complete 48 when those two finish.
David: Man! Cheers to you, and cheers to you two-- for making this all possible. You are putting out a video a day?
Michael: Probably three videos a day, yeah.
David: What! Three videos a day, guys! Head on over and check out Michael at One Rental At A Time. His YouTube is off the chain. Sometimes three videos a day. This guy is just filled with value. WOW!
Michael: Thank you.
David: So Michael, what is next? What's next? Right now it's April 20th today. We are in the middle of the pandemic right now. This episode will probably publish in a week in a half to two weeks. We will still be in this pandemic. So what's next?
Michael: Well I have been very clear on what I think is next. I think-- single family homes in most of the markets are going to go on sale. I do think there are some markets that are going to get crushed. Some markets, and let's just name them-- it would be New York, it would be the Bay area, it would be L.A, it would be Las Vegas-- are going to crash. I say crash on purpose, because they will probably fall 40%. I believe most of the rest of the US, which is really like 90% might see a 4 or 5% cut, I don't see values coming down, because we were so under supplied, right? We had a real supply problem going into this. But that said, there will be some markets that are just materially effected. Vegas won't be Vegas for a decade. So Vegas is gonna hurt.
David: Yeah, you're right about that, man. I can--.
Michael: Valley is tech based so that's gonna be in trouble. New York, the epicenter of the pandemic, it's not going to be the same. People are not going to leave or arrive in the same fashion. So we are going to have some cities that are hurt for a while. Most of the country is going to be fine.
David: How long until we get back to normal do you think?
Michael: Define normal. When you say normal.
David: Good question. Like just the retail opening back up.
Michael: Retail will probably open up-- like you will be able to go to malls or whatnot. My guess is sometime late May or June.
David: I'm thinking early June too. That's kind of where I'm at.
Michael: New York will probably be done until August.
David: Yeah because there are so many people close together.
Michael: That's the problem.
David: That's another thing that's kind of crazy, Michael, is that-- every city has its own thing, right?
David: One area could have this crazy rate of cases going up, and others-- yeah it's just crazy. Like-- that's gonna be a really long time. August, maybe even later than that.
Michael: I feel for New York, that Boston area, that little hotspot is-- it might be a year before that is back to normal. When are you in 2021-- seriously-- when you can go to a Broadway play again? I have been to several, they are wonderful. But I wouldn't imagine sitting in a room full of 500 or a 1000 people anytime soon.
David: Me neither, so hey, I want to talk about the [00:26:49.00 - inaudible] you have saved up right now. You just mentioned that you have a lot of [00:26:51.10 - inaudible], I think it's great. Over the the next 18 months you're gonna start buying a shit ton of single family houses. Are you buying them to rent? Or are you buying them to flip? I would imagine you are buying them where you bought the rest, right? Over--.
Michael: Always in Fresno.
David: Got it.
Michael: So that goes without saying. I have looked in other markets. People always ask all the time. You don't understand, I'm not flashy, I am not in a hurry to get somewhere. I do not need to be Grand Codone with a jet with that watches and the cars, it's just not who I am. I am happy to have my bills payed at the end of the month. I don't need that flash, I have no desire to ten X my portfolio. But that said, I plan to take advantage of this crisis, just like I did the last time. The most I did in a year was in 2010. We bought-- I think we added like 40 units, so those were houses in 2010, that's a lot for an individual, right? I am not a syndication, I'm not some fancy-- this is just my wife and I, right? So-- that's what we were getting ready for. I suspect-- I will break it down in chunks because I see this as a rolling wave. First off between now and the end the year, I am telling all of my wholesalers, and all my real estate agents that I want to buy-- I am willing to buy properties that have no equity, but have great mortgages. I think there is a lot of owner occupants that bought stuff in the last five years that have 3% mortgages that I want to buy. I am going to do them subject to, so I am not going to buy the traditional way, I am gonna buy subject to. I am going to use creative finance to buy as many as I can between now and the end of the year, when we get to the first half of next year, we are going to see the forbearance was not the cure all that everyone thinks it is. We have three million people already asking for forbearance across the country. We have 7.6% of FHA loans already in forbearance. 5% or 4.9% of Fanny & Freddy loans are in forbearance. This stuff is going to freakin blow up and hurt. But, it will take time. This stuff won't even hit the market until 2021. I am going to be ready, I am going to ready with the dry powder, I will be ready with relationships where I can take private money. I will have equity lines set up, because again, I am very conservative. Not only do we sell apartments, but we had a bunch of houses payed off. So I will use all the equity I have in cash to get equity lines set up, and be very aggressive in 2021. I want to buy more houses in the next 18 months than I have bought in the last decade.
David: Wow, you are going hard.
Michael: That's what I'm trying to do.
David: I love it. Well I am going to have to have you back on the show soon, to get some updates several times/
David: You are a very-- you are fascinating as hell, and you know your shit! I love it. Usually I get one or the other, and I got both with you. This has been phenomenal. Michael, thank you so much for coming on the show. You have provided a ton of value to us today. I want to make sure that everybody checks out your book, your YouTube, and what am I missing? Again, the book and the YouTube is One Rental At A Time. It's awesome. I know you have some other stuff out there. What you got?
Michael: I guess there are a couple of other things. First and foremost if you don't like watching video, YouTube is not your thing. I do have somebody that takes all my YouTube videos that are greater than five minutes and turns them into a podcast. Those are uploaded every Saturday. So you will get 50 uploads on a Saturday as well. That's growing, we have almost 10'000 listens last week, so that is going strong. Again, One Rental At A Time. The last thing is, I get asked so many times, how do you do it? What do you do? All of this stuff, I finally created an online course called, How to get started: One rental at a time. I priced it ridiculously cheap, $200, it's $199. I did it because people keep asking, how do you do it? How do you learn a market? I don't think there are any secrets in real estate. You just have to know your market. You have to trust yourself. You have to execute, focus. You have to be able to compare deals. I just document everything I do. I still look at my market everyday, I looked at it twice already today. It's really that simple. That also gets you access to my private Facebook group to answer questions and all of that. We all stay at home these days, so I actually do a live-stream every Saturday at 9am Pacific. So students ask me questions and I keep all of those private and in the Facebook group. That's pretty much everything I do.
David: That's very cool. Very very cool. What is the domain name for the course?
Michael: Just go to OneRentalAtATime.com, it is right on the front page, or you can go to any of my YouTube videos and scroll down to the description. It's right there. It's called How to get started: One rental at a time.
David: Guys, you heard it from the man himself. Michael Zuber. Michael thank you for coming on the show. Guys, check it out, One Rental At A Time. This guy has a book, he has a Youtube, he has a podcast, he's got a course, he has a lot of value for you guys, and that is what I love to do with this podcast here, is bring people on like Michael, that can share value and help you guys do this business, alright? Let's not forget; you make your money when you buy, you get paid when you sell! Signing off. Michael, any departing words my friend?
Michael: Yeah, only thing I would tell you, is guys, you have lots of deals coming here in the near future that you will make money when you buy, but don't rush, don't run early. You will have time.
David: Love it. Michael, thanks again, I am grateful for your time, I appreciate you. Signing off, guys. We will see you next time.