RG 328 – Why Short-Term Rentals Can Be More Profitable Yet Easier to Manage with Craig StevensRG 328 - Short-Term Rentals Can Be More Profitable

How do you leverage your existing skillset when leaving your corporate job for real estate investing?

Craig Stevens the Founder and President of Groundbreaking Real Estate, an investment company that helps investors achieve sustainable returns on multifamily assets. He started his career in 2014, and over the past eight years, Groundbreaking has owned and operated over ten buildings with a fair value of about $5.8 million, housing more than 35 tenants.

Craig came from a humble background, living in a trailer park with other families in similar financial situations. Growing up in that environment has helped Craig safeguard his wealth, and other people build wealth and success.

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Like many other investors, Craig used to be part of corporate America. He was a CPA until he realized he didn’t want to work at a desk until he retired, then everything changed. How did Craig leave the corporate world and enter real estate? What drove him to invest in the short-term rental space? What gaps in the area did he manage to fill with his system?

Key Takeaways

  • As you build wealth, looking back at your roots and humble beginnings will help keep you grounded.

  • Short-term rental properties can be more profitable with the proper management systems in place.

  • Don’t invest in a property without educating yourself. Learn as much as possible, set goals, and determine your strategies before pulling the trigger.

  • When you quit your 9-5 and start a business, you have to identify your weaknesses and determine how you can address them.


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Podcast Transcript

Reed Goossens (00:00):

Good day. Good day, guys. Now, before we dive into today’s show, I want you to let you know that some of you may be aware that over the past eight years, I have built a substantial multifamily real estate portfolio here in the US worth over half a billion dollars. And in that time, my passive investors have received fantastic double-digit returns. And now you two can invest directly into my deals for as little as $50,000. So if you’re an interested investor, head over to reedgoossens.com to find out more. That’s reedgoossens.com. Now, back into the show.

Craig Stevens (00:40):

The first important thing is educate yourself, right? So don’t just kind of run out and try to find a property and, and, and try to make a stab at it because you’re probably gonna get yourself into a challenge pretty quickly. I consumed as much information as I could from podcasts and books, and I, I spent, once I decided to take this path, I set up my goals and my plan and strategy around what I wanted my portfolio to look like over the next three years. And then I just took every lunch, every breakfast break, every time I was driving into work, listening to podcasts, just every chance I could to learn more. I may have kind of overanalyzed it and over-researched it, but by the time I was ready to go when I pulled the trigger, I knew I had the confidence that I knew what I was doing. Um, but buying that first property is always the biggest challenge.

Speaker 3 (01:38):

Welcome to investing in the us, a podcast for real estate investors, business owners, and des aspiring entrepreneurs looking to break into the US market. Join Reed as he interviews, go-getters, risk takers, and the best in the business about their journey towards financial freedom and the sheer joy of creating something from nothing.

Reed Goossens (01:59):

Good day good day a ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to another cracking edition of investing in the US Podcast from Los Angeles. I’m your host, reed goossens. Good as always, Debbie with us on the show. Now, I’m glad that you’ve all tuned into to learn from my incredible guests, and each and every one of them are the cream of the crop here in the United States when it comes to real estate investing, business investing, and entrepreneurship. Each show I try and tease out there incredible stories of how they have successfully created their businesses here in the us, how they’ve created financial freedom, massive amounts of cash flow, and ultimately created extraordinary lives for themselves and their families. Life by design, as I like to say. Hopefully these guests will inspire all of my cracking listeners, which are you guys to get off the couch and go and take massive amounts of action.

Reed Goossens (02:46):

If these guys can do it, so can you. Now, as you know, I’m all about sharing the knowledge with my loyal listeners, which is you guys, and there’s absolutely no BS on this show, just straight into the nuts and bolts. Now, if you do do like to show, the easiest way to give back is to give us a review on iTunes, and you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter by searching at Reed Goossens. You can find the show, every podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and Google Play. But you can also find these episodes up on my YouTube channel. So head over to reedgoossens.com, click on the video link, and it’ll take you to the video recordings of these podcasts where you can see my ugly mug, but the beautiful faces of my guests each and every week. All right, enough outta me. Let’s get cracking. And into today’s show,

Reed Goossens (03:33):

Turn the show. I have the pleasure of chatting with a good maid of mine, Craig Stevens. Now Craig is an owner of groundbreaking real estate, and he started his real estate investing career way back in 2014. And with him and his wife, they acquired three to four unit properties in New York City area. They then started adding to their portfolio in New Jersey and Indianapolis. And within five years, that accumulated, uh, nine properties with over 35 tens. Craig actually recently quit his W2 role and has now turned his attention to raising capital full-time in syndications, and he’s actually successfully raised over $3 million worth of capital, literally since April this year. I think that’s as, as recently as when he’s quit his job. So groundbreaking, uh, real estate has now invested in various commercial properties across the United States, totaling over 330 million with 600 doors and three retail strip centers. So I’m really pumped and excited to have him on the show today to share. He has incredible knowledge with us, but nothing me. Let’s get him out here, Good day. Craig, welcome to the show. How you doing today, mate?

Craig Stevens (04:33):

Very well, thanks Reed for having me,

Reed Goossens (04:35):

Mate. My pleasure. And for everyone who doesn’t know, Craig is actually partnered up in, in two of my recent acquisitions, and he has absolutely crushed it straight outta the gate. Um, Cog Ping, you know, raising money, doing, you know, due diligence, you know, on asset management calls, all the good stuff. And, um, he, he’s only recently quit his day job, so we’re gonna get into that and a lot more later in the show. But Craig, before we do, I ask all my guests on this show were one o’clock. And tell me how you made you first of a daughter as a kid.

Craig Stevens (05:03):

Sure. I grew up in a humble background. Um, I grew up in a trailer park and I saw that my parents struggled at times trying to make ends meet with their funds. Uh, my mom didn’t work. She took care of us full-time, uh, for the most part. And my dad just kind of worked his way up the ladder at, at his job, uh, working in a hospital. And my first day job was really moving along, um, probably around seven years old. My parents weren’t just giving me money for, you know, the typical chores that often, so I had to raise money for myself. So I, I collected all my friends around the area and we walked around with brooms and, uh, shovels, and we offered to sweep up the driveways and porches of our neighbors. And I think I collected the money. I don’t think I paid them very much. You know, they just charged 25 cents for a driveway and 10 cents for a porch. Probably didn’t make a lot of money there, but that, that was how I started my first, uh, entrepreneurialship gig.

Reed Goossens (06:02):

Talk to me about growing up in a trailer park. I, I don’t think I’ve had anyone on this show who’s come from those humble beginnings. Um, maybe I have, maybe I just didn’t know. Um, but, but talk to me about that. How did that, how did that shape you as the human you are today?

Craig Stevens (06:16):

It, it really was a, an amazing environment to grow up in. Actually, everybody around me was of the same financial wealth and, and the same attitude around, uh, you know, just family, uh, you know, being there for their families. And really, a lot of kids were in my area. We grew up together. We saw each other grow up. Uh, we, we ended up having to see situations where families around us were struggling at, at times. And, and we kind of had a nice community where we helped each other. So it taught me a lot about the family structure and the friendship structure, and it really gave me a drive to find out other means to make sure that I was gonna be able to be successful in the future as well. I think it really gave me some passion about helping other people to grow their wealth as well, because I, I just grew up in that environment where I wanted to help people to have a different lifestyle.

Reed Goossens (07:09):

Did you ever think to yourself as a kid, like, God, I wish mom and dad had more money, and and did that drive you to what you’re pursuing today?

Craig Stevens (07:16):

I I think that some at points in time, I saw some people around me that had a nicer car, a nicer house, and there was a little bit of jealousy that came along with that. But being in an environment where that was the common situation was to have everybody in the same type of financial environment, and there wasn’t a lot of jealousy. There wasn’t a lot of money to be thrown around. Right? So most of my neighbors and friends had the same exact lifestyle as I did. So I don’t think that I grew up necessarily wanting more. There were things that I wanted that I probably didn’t have access to that my kids do today. Right? But it did give me an understanding that in order to be more successful, those people that I did see, uh, with higher success, that they were really going after bigger jobs, You know, getting college education. Um, they had some other means to be able to, to get, to achieve that level of wealth. And that’s what started to kind of click in my head, I think, about seeing some of these friends that actually had more and what did their parents do.

Reed Goossens (08:15):

Hmm. Were you the first, um, member of your family to go to college?

Craig Stevens (08:20):

Yeah, I, I was, um, all my aunts and uncles and my grandparents and my parents, they still live in these humble background communities. Uh, my aunts and uncles, they work in manufacturing plants. I’m very proud of everything that they do. Great people, and they really try their hardest to make sure that they can, you know, have a good lifestyle. But, uh, I was the first one to leave my community in New Hampshire. Uh, all my family’s still up in New Hampshire in Maine. I went away and went to college in Rhode Island and then started my own life and, uh, and, and went to college and, and really kind of tried to, to work through corporate America to have a, you know, a successful career.

Reed Goossens (09:00):

I could, I could only imagine, um, you know, being the first, you know, member of the family to go to college comes with a little bit of baggage, you know, probably jealousy from within the family that, that, you know, look at Craig going off achieving in his fancy university and, and just that stigma. Um, do you still get that today?

Craig Stevens (09:20):

I, I think at times it’s a little bit difficult, to be honest, to go back home to my family members and be in a completely different situation and lifestyle than, than what they’re living at at times. I feel almost, um, that I’m trying to be humble, but I also feel like maybe they see me differently than they did when I was younger. And it, it starts to create some maybe distance between you and your family members at times. Um, you know, it, it, my parents are, they just came to visit last week. They’re incredibly supportive. They’re very proud of me. Um, but you know, there is still that kind of distance I think between your, the lifestyles that you’ve built.

Reed Goossens (10:01):

Mm-hmm. No, I think only it’s human nature, right? When someone, you know, family units are so important as you grow up. I came from a very close one, but as you know, that that one person leaves the nest and it’s different to what everyone else is doing. Not that it’s good or bad, you know, no one’s judging, but it’s just, it causes friction, I guess. You know? And, and, and it just, you’re one side trying to understand the other side and, and, and the going back and the feeling like you don’t wanna go back. They’re feeling like, Oh God, here comes Craig, and, you know, his fancy college degree. You know, like it’s just, there’s, I, I get, I understand. I could see that being, uh, uh, just a bridge you have to cross and, and something you gotta manage, uh, as you continue to try and educate people. Cause I know we mentioned in the green room earlier that one of your passions is to help educate others about, you know, wealth and creating wealth. So, um, has those conversations ever come up knowing what you do now with, with you, with your, your family and friends from, from your old life?

Craig Stevens (11:00):

They’re, they’re all very supportive, I would say. Um, they’re, they’re excited that I’ve had this level of achievement. I, I do have a great family network and friend network back home. I, I think that there’s times it’s tired to find kind of common ground to still have those conversations that you may have had in the past, right? Because there’s so much of a difference in, in where we are. But the, I, I think at the same time, growing up in that environment gave me an opportunity to always be thinking about making sure that I’m taking the best care of my wealth and helping others to also grow their wealth. And it’s helped me to be able to relate still back to a lot of those folks that I, I grew up with, right. And my family. Um, I, I always wanna have that as part of my life is making sure that I keep that humble background and no matter what my wealth is, that I don’t go around flaunting it, you know, as best as I can. And, and that I try to make sure that I’m helping others to grow their wealth and be successful.

Reed Goossens (12:01):

Yeah, I completely agree with you. I, I, I did not grow up in a trailer park, but I did grow up with, you know, limited means, you know, with my parents, both high school teachers, you know, buying secondhand cars. Like we definitely weren’t, you know, going to fancy schools or anything like that. It was just, you know, and that’s completely fine, but it’s made me who I am today. And one of the things is keeping grounded. I think it’s, it’s very important as you build wealth and you build wealth for your immediate family to make sure you know where you come from, right? Always have, have roots to, to, to, to that humble beginning and, and, and be appreciative of that. It’s probably given you, um, a level of grit that the, that maybe some other people don’t have. So I think that’s, uh, it’s, it’s really, really interesting.

Reed Goossens (12:45):

Talk to me about your corporate world. Like, cuz you only just recently quit that, like less than six months ago. Exactly. You know, and you’ve come outta the gate firing, and we’ll talk about that in a minute here, but talk to me about the, the mind shift change. And clearly you’ve been investing in real estate for a long period of time. I mentioned in, in the instruction, 2014 is when you started, there was always something there, right? So the goal was always to leave at some point, but when did that really, really sink in for you? Is like, this is not corporate. America is not for me.

Craig Stevens (13:14):

And, and I worked in corporate America for 30 years, so I did Wow. I did stick it out for a long time. I, I really, I, I completely value, um, the opportunities that I did have in corporate America. So I don’t look back on my time and say, Oh, I wish I left sooner. I wish I found something else, because there’s such, so many learning opportunities, so many people that I was able to meet and connect with, and a lot of those folks that I was connected with in my history are now part of my investment community for my capital raising. Um, but there, there came a time when I was building up my, I decided while I was sitting there in corporate America at my desk one day, and I was traveling a lot, uh, my first son was, uh, is was gonna be born soon.

Craig Stevens (13:56):

And I was hardly home. I was traveling probably 60% of my time all around the world and working, you know, grueling hours and decided that this can’t be my life going on until retirement, right? Until I hit 70. I really need to find a different avenue. And I knew I wasn’t gonna create the next Facebook or the next Tesla. So I, I thought about what am I good at? And it’s, I’m a cpa, so fi my financial background is something that I should utilize. And I really liked the tangibleness of real estate and, and I decided to go down that route. So I just started digging in one day, learning everything I could about real estate and building up my real estate portfolio. Uh, just consuming as much support as I could to do this. And we started to build up our portfolio that way.

Craig Stevens (14:42):

I finally got to the point where I wasn’t gonna replace my income. And that’s one thing that folks talk about, right? Is like, you know, you ready when you can replace your income, but I don’t believe in that. I think that if you have enough cash on the sidelines and you believe that you have enough structure and business savviness to be able to move forward and grow your income, that you can take time off and leave early and focus on building that wealth. Right? So, you know, my wife and I both quit our jobs. She works also in, in corporate America. She was working in corporate America. We decided to take a two year stop, right? And we really think we can launch our business forward so that we don’t have to go back to corporate America. We’re not replacing our income by any means yet, but we think we can right. In the next two, three years.

Reed Goossens (15:31):

So what, what does that look like now coming out of, um, of corporate America? I know you’d mentioned you built up a sort of a portfolio of, um, of houses, but now you’re, you’re turning more to capital raising. Are there any other legs of the stool there, um, that you wanna share about?

Craig Stevens (15:48):

Yeah. Yeah. So we’ve, we’ve been really focused on raising money for other syndications right now, right? So that’s one, one big business that we have. We also started another business which has been consuming a lot of my time on doing a, a property management business for short term rentals on the, on the shore in New Jersey. We just launched that, uh, a few months ago. But I’ve been working on it for over a year now. That has been, I’d say a slow ramp up, but it’s been exciting and, and something else that we think we can probably build into further income streams later down the road as well. So we’re, we got our, our feet and many fires I guess here, uh, trying to really move things forward.

Reed Goossens (16:27):

Talk to us about the, we’ll go back to the capitalizing in a minute. Cause I wanna, I wanna definitely touch on that cause we worked together on a couple of deals, but what, what’s, what was the drive to go and start a property management business in the short term rental space?

Craig Stevens (16:40):

We, we had a beach. One of my properties that we acquired was beach house in New Jersey on the, on the Jersey Shore. And I was really excited about having this house that we were traveling from New York at the time to New Jersey, enjoying it for our family, but then also renting it out. And the local real estate agents tend to charge 10 to 15%, you know, somewhere around there to advertise your property. And I was doing that. They were able to book up our property for weeks during the summer. We were making a lot of income from that, but I kind of cringed every time I had to cut them the commission check right from 10 to 15%. And when it came time for something that went wrong, the tenants had to call us mm-hmm. , the agents that were booking were charging that fee just to list your property and sign the leases and transact the cash. So we, we had situations where, you know, we were two hours away from our beach house, but we had complaints from a tenant and we didn’t have any way of getting down there. So I, I noticed this opportunity where, you know, there weren’t strong property managers and listing agents, so we’re doing both for much lower price. I figured out how to do it with volume and technology so that we can offer, you know, six to 7% to be able to manage somebody’s property and list it.

Reed Goossens (17:54):

What, what sort of technology are, are you implementing, um, in order to be successful?

Craig Stevens (17:58):

Yeah. We, we have a online, uh, platform that we’re using where guests will go in and, and do the bookings online. Everything goes through a background process. There’s background checks for the guests. It should be so seamless that we don’t have to pick up the phone. We don’t have to touch those guests at all. As where the, you know, the current process in a lot of cases is show the guests the house, you know, um, making sure that you’re having a conversation with them about what the property is. And then there, the online booking process is not as strong in a lot of cases. So we’ve been able to create that kind of end to end process for guest booking, uh, without being able to, to have to really touch the guest until they maybe have an issue. And also if we can do it with a kind of twenty four seven on-call service, providing the guest support, but not actually have to physically go out to the location, we can dispatch maintenance workers that we have pre-approved vendors that we dispatch mm-hmm. and make that process more seamless as well, so that we don’t have a lot of employees kind of running around helping tenants to do different things. Um, we’re able to do this more streamlined.

Reed Goossens (19:03):

So how, what does the business look like? And cuz I could imagine a lot of that could be leveraged with virtual assistance or, you know, online technology that could really reduce your overhead, uh, and quite make it a, a quite a, I dunno if it’s profitable, but, but, but could it be, uh, get to a point where it could be a little bit more profitable than your average, say multifamily property management company?

Craig Stevens (19:23):

Yeah. Sometimes you hear, right. Property management business in general for say long term, uh, property rentals. It, it’s a tough, um, business to run, right? They’re very tight margins and these property managers that do this have to do it with extremely large volume and really sharp processes with short term rentals. These properties are renting for very high values on a weekly basis, and you’re able to probably manage these check-ins and checkouts pretty efficiently where you won’t have a lot of calls. You’re exactly right. You know, we’ll, we’ll engage with a virtual assistant that will take calls in the evening. They’ll have a list of things that they need to do from a criteria perspective as to how to manage any issues that pop up. We don’t have any assets that we’re sitting in, so we don’t have a lot of overhead, Right. We don’t have a office space that people need to come in, you know, walk into to see the properties. They should see it online, see everything that they need. I think a lot of cases where those agents are charging more, they can, because that’s been the norm, right? And they have an expensive office on the shore where people are walking around and walking into their office, Right. That they have to

Reed Goossens (20:34):

Maintain. Yeah, no, I, I completely get it. It’s, uh, uh, one, one company that comes to mind. A friend of mine works for one fine stay. It’s a, uh, company. I dunno if you’ve, they’re actually at a, um, I think they’re at England, but they are more on the high, high end vbo type of, uh, concierge type of service. So it’s, it’s very, very interesting. I think there’s a space there for sure if you can scale it and with technology that you don’t have to have that warm body, um, be present or you have your vendors sort of sorted out and it’s just a, you know, one, one click or one call away, um, from getting a major issue, like a plumbing or a toilet or whatever, it might be resolved pretty quickly. So, so that, that, that we

Craig Stevens (21:12):

Do, we do need to have boots on the ground as well. So we have what we call ambassadors that may need to go out to a property, but we would pay them on a, on a case by case basis, right? Is people that are willing to do this on their part-time where we can contact them, have them go to a property if it’s absolutely needed, right? But that’s the last kind of step that we would have in the process.

Reed Goossens (21:31):

Where, what’s the goal for this company? What’s it, what’s it called by the way?

Craig Stevens (21:34):

Uh, sure. Term rentals. SHORE term rentals. And, and the goal is to, we’re focused on New Jersey right now because that’s where we had our experiences and, uh, we’re, we’re kind of going fully across the Jersey shore, and then we would look to expand in the next couple of years, um, next to, to hit kind of head south and, and start to hit more states. Mm-hmm. . Um, you know, the end goal would be to probably end up in a situation where we’re com where one of the niche providers for property management just on the shores. That’s where we’re completely focused, right? As where V R B O is all over the place, Evolve is all over the place. We’re gonna have a spec, you know, a special set of experience just with those beach properties and, and maybe be in a situation where, um, you know, somebody might want to partner up with us in the future state.

Reed Goossens (22:25):

For those of you who are interested in staying up to date with all the latest happenings in my business, or to learn more about passively investing directly into my multi-family value add deals, then head over to reedgoossen.com and sign up for my monthly newsletter. By signing up, you will automatically be notified about my new up and coming investment opportunities. You’ll be able to stay up to date with all the latest real estate news here in the United States and much, much more. So head over to reedgoossens.com and sign up to date now, back into the show.

Reed Goossens (23:00):

Yeah, that’s awesome. I think there’s, there’s definitely being a niche, you know, inch in a mile deep in a, in a so to speak, in a particular area or or sector of the market is, is very, very important. Um, pivoting back to the transition out of your, your day job, you mentioned you, you only just did it like three months ago, and the capital raising business, that’s the other leg of the stool. Talk to me more about how, through your passion to educate others and, and grow their wealth, how’s that business evolving and what are you seeing, um, coming out of the corporate world and doing it full time?

Craig Stevens (23:34):

I’d, I’d say that, uh, at the first step was with one of your transactions reading, I’m completely appreciative of you taking a chance on me because that was my first capital raise. But I knew, knew I had a great network of folks I’ve been in. I’ve been learning about syndications for many years and investing in syndications myself as a limited partner. I, I thought at one point that I wanted to do my own syndications. You know, I started learning all about it and, and was thinking that I might want to do my own and kind of be the lead sponsor right, on a transaction. But then my experiences with owning my own property is I decided I don’t really want to deal with that full kind of end to end process of managing a property myself and a strategy implementation strategy. And I think that my, my best skill set is actually working with folks that I already know, have preexisting relationships with through my career and bringing the capital to a transaction.

Craig Stevens (24:29):

Um, at first, you know, when you called me and, and asked me if I’d be willing to raise some capital for you, we agreed that I’d raise a million dollars. I hung up the phone and I was like, Oh, what did I just do , Can I really do this right? But as they say, if you wanna take over an island, burn the bridges. And that’s kind of what happened. I just, I committed to you that I would raise that money and, and we were able to exceed that. Right. Yeah, that’s great. So it’s been a learning path.

Reed Goossens (24:50):

It’s been, it’s been incredible working with you and, and you’ve only done it such a short period of time. What, what’s the business look like in terms of growing it and making sure that it is sustainable over the long term? Because obviously you have a background in finance, I’m sure there’s a lot of people in the corporate world that are, you’re, you, you, you’re sort of knocking on their doors, but how does it become more organic and building the brand itself in and around that, that continual educating, you know, the friends and the family about what you’re trying to do? The passion for growing other people’s wealth?

Craig Stevens (25:21):

It, it’s, it’s been a, a fun, uh, ride. I would say it, it’s been a great learning experience. It’s, we’ve, we’ve kind of been learning as we go. I’m trying to develop better processes in, in place, but now that we’ve been able to start to advertise on LinkedIn and Facebook that we’re, we’re, you know, we’re trying to get deals done. We’re, we’re finishing, uh, raising capital deals are closed, it’s starting to get more interest. So I’m getting that organic kind of collection of, of new investors that I’ve sometimes never have met before, but they’re seeing what I’m doing on LinkedIn and Facebook and, and starting to gain some interest. I’m tapping back into a lot of those folks that I knew from the past. Um, in my corporate America life, a lot of people that I know that are sitting at their day jobs really busy, they know that they should be investing in real estate, and they’ve always thought about buying a property and investing in real estate, but they just haven’t had the time to do it themselves and don’t know what direction to take.

Craig Stevens (26:16):

And I’m able to give them a simple solution of, here’s a property that you can invest in and you don’t have to do the work. And that’s really, um, hit people, I think. Well, and, and then I’m able to engage with friends and family that I haven’t talked to in years. And that’s been another special part of this, right? It’s not just sales. I’m not on the phone to sell something to someone if it’s, I have something valuable that they should be interested in. If they decide not to invest in it, that’s completely fine with me, right? But I’m trying to educate the on opportunities that are out there. Uh, it’s, it’s been a special experience.

Reed Goossens (26:47):

Are you gonna develop any sort of education around that, you know, courses or something a little bit more, you know, technology focused to, to bring the top of the funnel, so to speak, to bring in more, uh, clients, uh, through your process?

Craig Stevens (27:01):

That, that’s part of our, our plan. So we’re currently in the process of engaging with a new marketing firm to help us with some, um, background social media support. We’re working on building out a YouTube channel as well to educate. So I think part of the challenge for us is to make sure that we’re educating our community on what does a syndication, right? Mm-hmm. , what does this mean to be a limited partner? Um, you know, what, what is this whole setup, you know, this legal structure, what does it really mean for me? Is, is a syndication of reit, right? That’s a common question that I think we all get. And, and maybe providing some educational information on YouTube that will be able to help my investors to gain more confidence in what we’re doing. Um, and then also providing some, um, online education courses potentially around buying your first property, right? If you are interested, you’re sitting in corporate America, Here’s how I did it while I was working my day job. And by the way, you know, I’m gonna teach you on how to kind of buy your own property, but if you decide some of those, some of those, um, individuals might decide to invest in these syndications instead, right? Once they hear about the learning path of how to buy their own properties and what’s involved,

Reed Goossens (28:11):

What is the number one piece of advice you could give to people out there looking to buy their first property themselves? Like, what did you do in the corporate world to go off and do that?

Craig Stevens (28:22):

The, the first important thing is educate yourself, right? So don’t just kind of run out and try to find a property and, and, and try to make a stab at it, because you’re probably gonna get yourself into a challenge pretty quickly. I consumed as much information as I could from podcasts and books, and I, I spent, once I decided to take this path, I set up my goals and my plan and strategy around what I wanted my portfolio to look like over the next three years. And then I just took every lunch, every breakfast break, every time I was driving into work, listening to podcasts, just every chance I could to learn more. I may have kind of overanalyzed it and over-researched it, but by the time I was ready to go when I pulled the trigger, I knew I had the confidence that I knew what I was doing. Um, but buying that first property is always the biggest challenge.

Reed Goossens (29:10):

Right. And what, what did that property look like and how did you, where’d you find it? What was it, What’s the brand? What was the cashflow, if any, and, and how’d it go?

Craig Stevens (29:20):

I made a lot of offers before I actually got my first one. I started out with some brokers that were not, you know, I was making offers. They were getting accepted and then getting canceled later on because of some issues, um, or maybe a better offer that came along. I, I then I changed brokers and I was able to engage with a really good broker, um, where we identified a property. He understood what I was looking for. We found a four family building in Westchester, New York. Uh, it had a basement unit that was being rented out as well. So we had a lot of parking spaces there. And in this location that I was investing in, in, in Westchester, parking was extremely difficult to come by the streets to just get packed. So this, this one had a large driveway, so I was able to start charging rent for parking spaces as well at, at, you know, $250 a month, uh, because people were tired of trying to find a spot on the street. And then we, we had a shed on there, so we started renting that out. So when I saw the property, I knew that just standalone, the cash flows made sense at the time. It looked like a great property. Granted, it was built in 1940, so it certainly had some older, uh, vintage issues to, to make sure that I was managing, but it was in very good shape, so I didn’t have to do a lot of renovation work on the units once I purchased it.

Reed Goossens (30:34):

That’s great. And, and do you still own it today?

Craig Stevens (30:37):

I do. It’s my favorite property. It was the first one that I purchased, and now I’m in the process of selling my properties in New York because the values have gone up and I’ve changed my focus from owning my own portfolio. And I think that’s one that I might actually keep. It’s right close to the train, uh, heading into Grand Central, 30 minutes from Grand Central and, uh, Wow. Awesome location, beautiful property.

Reed Goossens (30:57):

That’s awesome. That’s awesome. What does, um, as we come to the end of the show here, what, what’s the, what’s sort of overall goals and visions coming out of your, your corporate world and, and, and maybe give the listeners a bit more of an understanding of some of maybe the, the eye opening experiences come you finally ripping the band at, I finally getting the courage to go full time that you’ve learnt the sort of last three to four months.

Craig Stevens (31:20):

I, I think that my first experience with being out of my job was one that I really had to organize myself better right now that I’m free, You know, in my mind I was just gonna, um, start going out and golfing, and I had more time to, to manage my, my own lifestyle, taking care of my kids, doing the things with my children that I wanted to do. But you realize pretty quickly that you still have to work just as hard as you were in your day job, because now you’re dependent on this new income, right? So I’ve, I’ve probably played less golf now that I quit than, than I was before. But you know, number one, making sure that you’re staying productive, scheduling yourself out, making sure that you’re giving yourself productive time in your calendar. Um, I like to use like a productivity calendar to make sure that I’m setting aside 30 minute blocks, you know, that I’m actually very focused, right? And make sure that no one is bothering me during those 30 minute blocks. I, I have a little bit of a, a attention deficit to sorta where I’m kind of focused on many things at once, and I really need to make sure that I’m being highly effective in my time so that I can have time to do those other things that I want to do.

Reed Goossens (32:28):

No, I, that’s, that’s the number one problem, not problem, but that’s the number one thing I think a lot of people realize or don’t realize, that when you quit the day job and you’re probably talking to your buddies back at the old firm that you used to work at, and like, Oh, so how’s the golf cone? It must be really good, good. You swing, you like, actually no, I’m, now I’m responsible, but I, I eat what I kill. Uh, and if I don’t, if I don’t take anything down, I’m not eating. So like, there becomes a little bit more of you go from a nine to five to a 24 7, right? And, and you’re thinking about that next iteration of the business or the where’s that next paycheck coming from? And, and I think being productive, I’m the same with you. I get, there’s a lot of stuff that comes at you when you start building a business, and you have to be self-aware enough to, to understand what your weaknesses are and, and, and what you just said there, the, the productivity that 30 minutes, if you did four 30 minute sessions a day just for you to get stuff done doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you’re starting your business, that will, you’ll realize it’ll turn on.

Reed Goossens (33:28):

It’s not turning on a spigot, it’s turning on a fire hose, and a lot of things are coming at you. You’ve gotta understand how to pivot from marketing to sales, to underwriting deals, to making sure investors, you know, investor relations to accounting, like all the different facets of the business. You, you have to give their enough time to so they can grow because, and you are the sole responsibility. You’re wearing all the hats. You can’t go out and just hire the, uh, CFO or the, the head of sales, or, you know, when we all start these businesses, you, you are the solo entrepreneur and it relies on just you to get it done. So, um, so

Craig Stevens (34:02):

Yeah, it is, yeah, it, it, it really takes ultra high attention to details and making sure that you’re kind of making sure that you’re prioritizing the things that are important each day, Right? There’s a lot of things that you have on your list. My list is a mile long, but not every single one is the most important in my day. And you need to figure out what, what the one thing is, right? That that’s the most important to you.

Reed Goossens (34:23):

Awesome. What’s the next five years look like? In an ideal world,

Craig Stevens (34:27):

I’d like to start moving to a situation where I’m partnering with others, um, growing my own business, right? For capital raising. I think we’ll, we’ll stay focused on that. I’m looking into bringing on another partner currently, um, to be able to take on more deals at, at once. I’d like to do at least one to, you know, a deal every one to two months. Um, and then look to also increase the amounts that we can raise for capital. I think we can get there. And, uh, also the property management business, right? I wanna see that scale up a lot. So I’m excited about where that’s headed too.

Reed Goossens (34:59):

Awesome. Yeah. No, love it. And I can only, I’m so fortunate to be working with you in early stages, and I, we’ll get you back on the show in years to come, and you’ll be telling us about all the deals you’ve, uh, you’ve helped raise money on, and the, the, the property management business you’ve probably sold to Vbo for a big multiple . Thank

Craig Stevens (35:17):

You. Couldn’t get wait.

Reed Goossens (35:19):

But mate, at the end of every show, we’d love to dive into the top five investing tips. You ready to get into

Craig Stevens (35:23):

It? Absolutely,

Reed Goossens (35:24):

Mate. Question number one is what’s the daily habit you practice to keep on track towards your goals?

Craig Stevens (35:29):

Beyond the productivity process that I try to implement, uh, one of the most important things is to wake up in the morning and, and start to give yourself a little bit of time and space before I start to dive into work. So just kind of clearing your head, going for a walk if you need to, taking the kids to school, not diving right in, right? So I think that’s one of the most important things to make sure that I’m getting myself ready the minute I sit down that I’m finally clearheaded and ready to focus.

Reed Goossens (35:54):

Do you do any meditation or anything like that, or any exercise in particular?

Craig Stevens (35:58):

Yeah, I’ve been actually starting to do some yoga, uh, once in a while for a couple times a week and, uh, doing a little bit of meditation practice as well. And I think that’s been very beneficial to make sure that I do have this, you know, clear mindset on what I really need to achieve in the day.

Reed Goossens (36:12):

Hmm. And helps you center, as you say, before you, before the noise comes at you from the email or the, the clients or, you know, whoever it might be. My pipe’s broke and my, my place on the Jersey Shore, like . Exactly. So yeah, no, I, I I completely ha I completely understand that. Uh, question number two is, who’s been the most influential person in your career to date?

Craig Stevens (36:33):

I’d say my father. He, he really started, uh, his career. He was in the military. I, I, I, uh, was born on a military base. He exited the military early on when I was around a year old, and he didn’t really have a career path that he was gonna head down, and he decided to go and, and apply for a job at a hospital as kind of an assistant nurse, right? And then he was a security officer at the hospital, and then he started working his way up, and he started to get to a point where he was getting higher and higher, um, you know, important jobs. And I just saw if you really set your mind to it and you push yourself and you say, Hey, nothing’s beyond my limits, you know, he really kept going and, and pushing himself up the ladder there. And he, he actually exited the, the, he worked at the VA hospital, um, near us, and he exited at a, a pretty important kind of man managerial position, and I’m really impressed by what he did, and I think he gave me that, that drive, you know, to just keep going.

Reed Goossens (37:32):

That’s awesome. It starts from home and, uh, sounds like it’s, it’s, it’s rubbed off on you a little bit, so, so well done. Thanks, dad. Uh, question number three is, what’s the most influential tool in your business? When I say tool, it could be a, a journal, a physical tool, journal, phone computer, or it could be a piece of software that you just can’t run the business without. What is it?

Craig Stevens (37:52):

Um, I’d say right now, um, I got this productivity journal. Uh, it’s, it’s just a black book and it has stages in it that for, you know, for each day, what are your most important things you’re, you’re, you’re gonna accomplish by these 30 minute, um, bites. That’s been, I’ve, I’ve only gotten introduced to it a few weeks ago, but it has changed my ability to really be productive and just stay crystal clear focused. So that’s, that’s been one of the most important tools for me lately.

Reed Goossens (38:17):

Love it. Absolutely love it. Uh, question number four in one sentence, what has been the biggest, uh, lesson you’ve learned in your career and, and what, what’d you learn? What, what, sorry, what was that mistake or less, uh, failure and what’d you learn from that mistake.

Craig Stevens (38:34):

At times, because I, I was so busy at work, I got distracted from my real estate business and things would be happening around my real estate and I wasn’t keeping on top of it. Um, I, I’d lost a, a, a pretty significant tenant that I had, uh, several tenants that I had on one of my real estate properties in Indiana, because I wasn’t keeping on top of it. It, it was a, a charitable organization, um, that they had six tenants that were staying at my property and I needed to stay really closely in touch with them in order to have those folks staying there. They were paying the rents and they decided to exit because we were letting the property go. I wasn’t keeping in touch with the property manager significantly, you know, sufficiently. And this, the property manager wasn’t the right one for the transaction, so I lost six tenants in one day. Wow. Wow. That, you know, one of the most important things is stay on top of your business. Even if you’re working your full-time job, you gotta dedicate that time. If you’ve decided to get into real estate or whatever your business is, you have to stay on top of your bills, stay on top of your communications, stay on top of your property managers and make sure that you’re solving problems quickly because they can turn into bigger problems.

Reed Goossens (39:46):

No, 100%. And it’s hard when you are balancing that work, the full-time work, the keeping the food on the table, the kids happy, the miss is happy. And also having, you know, the side hustle as well. It’s, it’s, it’s very important. We’ve all been there, but it takes discipline and it takes a level of digging into the details and not the just putting your head in the sanding and ignoring it. And she’ll be right because a lot of people could coming into this business realize it ist as passive as you think it is, you know, when you’re an operator. So you, it’s running a business, you’ve gotta treat it like a business. So, Yeah, that’s right. Craig, last question, mate, is where can people reach you to continue the conversation? They wanna be in your sphere, where do they go?

Craig Stevens (40:23):

Absolutely. So they can find us at, uh, at groundbreaking real estate.com and they can email us at info@groundbreakingre.com.

Reed Goossens (40:35):

Awesome stuff, mate. Well, look, I want to thank you so much for jumping on the show today. I wanna reflect some of the things that I took away from today’s show. I think your vulnerability in the beginning and telling us how you grew up in, in a trailer park was, uh, you know, and being the first guy in your family to go to college, I’m sure has been difficult navigating what you’re doing today and the, the raising all the millions of dollars in the, doing the big deals. Um, you know, it’s, it’s, I I’ve been there myself, so it’s, I can understand from a personal point of view, I can definitely connect there and, and, and I know it’s always gonna be a challenge, but hopefully you can inspire others in your family to take in the footsteps like your dad inspired you. Uh, I think some of the other things that you, you, you’re really focusing on having two prongs to the business, I think is smart.

Reed Goossens (41:15):

Like a, a revenue generating, property management, you know, system, which is, which, which can be scalable very quickly with, with the right systems in place and the capital raising, which is more, you know, the long churn, the long burn, which is, you know, is gonna be there for, for, for the long term, but has bigger pops in the end for you as a, as a cog. So having the balance of two of those is really, really important. I think for a lot of people listening out there, not just, you know, capra is great, but you also need something else to su supplement it between those deals. Um, you know, to keep it both going. Uh, mate, did I leave anything out?

Craig Stevens (41:49):

No, I think you hit it all. Thank you very much for, this is awesome.

Reed Goossens (41:52):

Awesome mate, we’ll go on. Thank you so much again for taking some time outta your day. Enjoy the long weekend and we will catch you next time.

Craig Stevens (41:59):

Thank you.

Reed Goossens (42:01):

Well, they, you have another cracking episode jam pack with some incredible advice from Craig. If you do want to check any you think that he’s doing out, go head over to groundbreaking real estate.com or hit him up info@groundbreakingae.com. He is full of knowldge. Uh, if you got any questions about just, you know, coming outta the workforce and how he’s been able to do that successfully whilst creating side hustles, not just one, but two side businesses in and around, you know, the property management space, space and also around the capital raising space. He’s doing some incredible stuff within just three months of leaving his day job. He has raised over $3 million, uh, for other deals, including some of my deals. So awesome stuff, awesome success that he has had, and I can’t wait to see him grow. So if you definitely wanna check him out over@ groundbreakingare.com, I wanna thank the rest of you for taking some time outta your day to tune in, to continue to grow your financial iq, because that’s what we’re all about here on this show. If you do like this show, give the show a five star review on iTunes, and if you do like the notes, we want to get any of the links from today’s show. It’s gonna be up on my website@ reedgoossens.com. We’re gonna do this all again next week. So remember, be bold, be brave, and go give life a crack.