Brandon Elliott went from house arrest to buy and hold investor with investment properties out of state that have a 60%+ CCR.Encourages daily personal development and fulfilling your purpose. Advocate of financial awareness and time management skills becoming embraced to lead down the path of success. Brandon supports startup companies and overall entrepreneurs to build multiple streams of businesses. Brandon was also apart of a non-profit organization called Y.E.S. (young entrepreneur society) which provides high school students with additional options rather than traditional college to become their own boss. His vision is transforming distressed neighborhoods into dream homes through real estate to pursue financial freedom. Brandon’s passion stems from creating a united strong family that pushes each other to prosper and thrive.
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Stefan Aarnio: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the show, Respect The Grind with Stefan Aarnio. This is a show where we interview people who have achieved mastery and freedom through discipline. We interview entrepreneurs, athletes, authors, artists, real estate investors, anyone has achieved mastery, examine what it took to get there. Today on the show, we have a new friend of mine, Brandon Elliot, real estate investor living down in San Diego in the USA. He’s investing out in the Midwest. He’s got several properties as the buy fix, rent refinance strategy, and he’s written a book called ‘Action Driven’.
Stefan Aarnio: Brandon, welcome to the show, Respect The Grind. Thank you so much for joining me. How are you doing today?
Brandon Elliot: I’m doing great brother. How you doing, man?
Stefan Aarnio: Doing great up here man. So, for the people who don’t know Brandon Elliot very well, tell us in your own words a little bit about yourself. How’d you get started in real estate?
Brandon Elliot: Yes. So, I’m originally from New Jersey. I moved out to sunny San Diego, California about seven years ago. I’m 28 years old right now. When I moved out here, I was doing door to door sales, became very good at it, working for a company, Kirby Vacuum Cleaners, got into a lot of houses. Basically, got recruited into a investment company that they were focusing on NODs, so Notice Of Defaults, pre foreclosure properties, and it gave me all the software needed to really do that background check, and get ahold of the homeowners. Long story short, I got very excited about that atmosphere and seeing, my boss, he built this awesome system and he was always in Hawaii building more systems over there and working on bigger projects.
Brandon Elliot: On one particular property, I saw one of his checks for $600,000 just on one deal, and everybody else in the office made a ton of money on that deal as well. So, it was definitely extremely eye opening and inspired me to start focusing more on real estate. So, I started doing the education a little bit, jumping on podcasts just like this, listening, learning from the best and YouTube, all the books I could get my hands on when it comes down to real estate. After awhile, after two years of doing my education, then I found myself investing long distance over in Ohio.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow. So, it’s crazy. So, Brandon, one thing I picked up man is, I’ve had so many successful people on this show. A lot of guys start out knocking doors, selling vacuums, selling energy contracts, selling, it’s solar these days, selling alarm systems. Tell me a bit about your door to door experience because that’s something that nobody wants to do, but I think is the biggest key to launching off and really succeeding in the real estate business or any business for that matter. So, tell me about your experience with that.
Brandon Elliot: Of course. Yeah. It’s definitely where you’re going to either get a maid or you getting broken, because there’s going to be a ton of rejection. You need to learn how to overcome that and persevere through it along with just, at the end of the day, understanding it’s truly a numbers game, and certain techniques that you throw into the mix with your personality, act extremely goofy, the distance. Just to knock down that fear factor when people answer the door, and try to get on that best friend level, is definitely an art in itself and some certain techniques that become very valuable as you just keep on persisting and going through that whole trial and error.
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah. So, tell me, what are some of the techniques you do that you still do today, because you’re selling, negotiating, direct sales, real estate in very intense environments. I was in a negotiation this week and one lady started crying, when I’m closing deals. Some people start crying, they get crazy. It gets intense. What are some of these goofy or things you’re doing to close the deal?
Brandon Elliot: Yeah. So, I would definitely try to match their personality type as well as just a slightly a little ahead with excitement, and just come off extremely goofy, arms flailing away. Just acting, I don’t know, just entertaining because you’re really putting on a show at the end of the day. You have 10 seconds or less to actually get somebody’s intention and keep them interacting with you. Also, the distance that you stay away from them know to the door is very important. I always stayed about 10 feet away, because when you get closer to them, you’re getting really in their comfort zone and it rises up all that fear. So, take away some of those aspects. Act extremely goofy, mention some of the neighbors names once you talk to them, even if it didn’t go well, you just bring it up like, “Hey, I just got done talking to Daisy right next door. She’s amazing. She was saying good things about you guys.” Breaking the ice there.
Stefan Aarnio: Getting the referral, I love it. What really made you decide to get into real estate? Was it your boss with a 600,000 dollar cheque, or what was it where you’re like, “Man, I got to do this.”
Brandon Elliot: I started saving up some money. I saved up about 35,000. Coming from a very humbling background for growing up, 35,000 seemed like a good amount of money. But, around $20,000, I realized I needed it to do something for me. It was just sitting in the bank and that was driving me crazy more than even just getting higher and higher. So, I started educating myself, looking into stocks. Stocks overall just confused me and I wasn’t finding my passion in that. Basically, I was looking through YouTube to get a lot of that education. Then, a video came by with real estate and just about the market, pretty much in general.
Brandon Elliot: I started educating myself more on that. Overall, it just got me more excited. There’s so many different ways to go about real estate, so many different avenues you can really focus on. You can also have, a plan A, B, C, D backup plans galore to really make sure that the situation ends up positive in your favor.
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah. Now, you’re a guy, you grew up in one part of the country then you moved to San Diego and you’re investing in Ohio you’re telling me, tell me what’s it like to invest far away from where you are? Does that freak you out? Does that scare you? What do you need to invest across the country like that?
Brandon Elliot: Yeah, it’s funny. I feel like everybody that I talked to, they actually get like a huge fear factor over that situation that they could never do it. Me personally, I never thought of it as fearful and I feel like it’s helped me and it’s hurt me in certain ways, because I can’t be at my project. So, I really have to rely on relationships built over there for pictures and their actual experience, and just their trust overall, their word. But, at the end of the day it’s also helped me because I’m not hands on over there doing the work myself and I can look for more properties. I can really put out the fires from a distance, and it sharpens up my leadership skills to really make sure I’m building a team and I’m working on the business and not in the business.
Stefan Aarnio: You’re able to scale because you’re taking yourself out of the game on day one, which I think is brilliant. So many guys, they will be real estate investor for 40 years and they’re still fixing the leaky toilet, still fixing jiggery door or the weird thing, and I think it keeps you small. So, that’s really smart. When I started in the business, I started with no money. I had to raise money from day one and you’re doing remote investing from day one. That’s really good at, create a stronger identity with you. Now, you mentioned to me that you are doing the buy, fix, refinance, rent, strategy. Tell me a bit about that.
Brandon Elliot: Yeah. So, it’s considered the BRRRR strategy. I think BiggerPockets coined that. But, overall, it’s been around for forever. It’s like a mixture between that fix and flip, but instead of just getting that one time payment, you’re refinancing out and you’re holding it for passive income, small portions every single month for the longterm. But, overall it’s been a strategy that I really resonated with and made sense for me.
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah. It’s a powerful strategy because, people either get into real estate for cash and they want to do wholesale, you’re flipping or maybe lease options renting, or then they want to build wealth, which is the other side of it. The BRRRR strategy’s a wealth building strategy. You build a lot of equity, you build the cash flow. You mentioned to me you got 10 properties right now in Ohio. That’s cool. What’s the goal for you? Are you going to get to 100 or what’s the idea?
Brandon Elliot: So, I definitely want to start focusing more on bigger unit complexes. The goal is definitely to get a 100 unit, a multifamily complex apartment building. But, overall, I just plan on just keep on getting these four units and under to keep building up this portfolio, collecting all this passive income every single month, building that up. When I had enough, then I’m going to start doing a blasting, banking strategy with taking all that passive income and paying off one property at a time and just keep it going that way.
Stefan Aarnio: So, you’re going to deleverage, you take all that cash, pay them off and then increase your cash flow even more?
Brandon Elliot: Yeah, exactly. Right now it’s like a no brainer because as far as how much I’m leveraging, I am leveraging a ton, but at the same time all these properties I get 30 year fix with amazing interest rates. So, in the four percent for an investment property in general, I mean it’s a no brainer. Cashflow is great. Very low mortgage, God forbid if anything ever happened to the market, it’s so small of a mortgage that even if it wasn’t rented out, I can handle the small payments.
Stefan Aarnio: Right, right. So, Brandon, I got to ask man, you live in San Diego, I’ve been in San Diego ton of times, great place. Been down in Coronado, nice island there. You’re living down in San Diego. Why do you live in San Diego but you invest in Ohio? I got to ask, what’s keeping you there in San Diego? Why don’t you just move to Ohio and start taking around with these little properties?
Brandon Elliot: I hear you. It’s a good question. I’ve actually considered it several times because I’m very confident I could actually build up a stronger relationship base and a team. I could really take over, probably, in that small area. Overall, I fell in love with it out here in San Diego. I’m doing direct mail marketing out here looking to do a fix and flip, whatever the opportunity comes around wholesale or post it to a realtor friend, build relationships more. I have some [badge 00:12:25] signs up as well, but overall out here, in my personal opinion, is more for the big chunks of money. It’s not for that passive income. In the Midwest is where you build that wealth for the long run. A lot of people tend on doing the fix and flip, get that chunk of money upfront and then want to invest their money in the passive income, and the down the road in the long game. But, for some odd reason, I just flipped it around.
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, that’s interesting. That’s like a slower game but it’s still good. So, it’s interesting, a lot of newbie investors, beginner investors, choose those, I call them value markets like the Ohio is, I’m from Winnipeg, that’s like a value market in Canada. They choose to invest in the value markets because they think it’s easier. I don’t really know if it is easier, it’s just smaller amounts of money. You’re out on the coast, the west coast, you’re up to Vancouver, it’s a million, two million, three million, $4,000,000 for a house in Vancouver.
Stefan Aarnio: Down in San Diego, I’ve been there, it’s a million, two million, three million, four million for a house. Anything on the coast is expensive. All the way on the coast. So, I think somebody could still start out there on the coast, but the starter investors, we choose the value markets. Why do you think that is? The lower price points, it’s just intimidation?
Brandon Elliot: Oh, of course. I truly feel like 90% of it is really that fear factor. A lot of people have those limited beliefs thinking that they can’t find the money either. Five to 50 grand, whatever that may be, for a property. It seems more doable, it seems like they can possibly get that, but when it comes down to a million dollar property or more, that seems the limited beliefs really kick in and fear factor just overplays it. God forbid if they screw up this deal, what’s going to happen? I’m in negotiations right now for a property right around the corner from me for, it’s right around a million dollars, and after it’s fixed up, it will be well over that. So, it comes down to the education. Once you’re educated enough, I feel like the confidence will get built up and then, when you have some backup plans, it doesn’t hurt it by any means.
Stefan Aarnio: That’s awesome man. I’m glad you’re doing that. The high price point stuff in their own market. That’s awesome. So, tell me about your book there, Brandon. You’ve got ‘Action Driven’. It looks like, I don’t know, is it a motivational book, is it a real estate book? Tell me about ‘Action Driven’.
Brandon Elliot: It’s a little bit of everything. I definitely wanted to come out with a book for personal branding purposes as well as I saw so many people struggling with taking action in life. Overall, I’ve always been known as that person that takes action. So, I definitely wanted to just give insight on what I do on a daily basis to take action. But, I wanted people to get to know and trust me as well. So, a lot of it has stories in it of just my past growing up. I’ve been through a lot of crazy things. I was involved in an explosion in my house that I stupidly caused and I was on fire. 40% of my body, third degree burns and I had to get skin grafts and everything on my arms and my legs.
Brandon Elliot: People that actually have read the book, I’ve got tremendous feedback from it, a lot of breakthroughs with people being able to relate to a crazy past. I give a cheat sheet at the end, because with my personality type, I’m more of an impatient, like, get to the point type of thing. I give the cheat sheet at the end, but all throughout the book, there’s plenty of content to be able to implement certain strategies on a daily basis, to be able to build that momentum and take action more, and not live in fear.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow. Wow. So, I got to hear this story. So, you blew up your house and you burned, what is it, 40% of your body?
Brandon Elliot: Yeah.
Stefan Aarnio: Oh my God. I got to hear more about this. So, tell me, what happened there Brandon, because that’s motivational speaker style stuff, you can go to a high school talking about this now.
Brandon Elliot: I was just involved with a negative past. Lack of guidance. I grew up without a father figure, and grew up very poor. So, at a very young age, started smoking weed and got into that lifestyle, realized I had to sell it to be able to be able to keep my high going because I enjoyed it. Had a lot of giggles from it.
Stefan Aarnio: So, like Biggie, you were high on your own supply?
Brandon Elliot: Exactly. I should have learned from Biggie.
Stefan Aarnio: You’re not supposed to do that when you’re dealing. You’re not supposed to take your own drugs, man.
Brandon Elliot: Basically, out here in San Diego, it’s like a fine line between illegal and legal. I had my medical card at the time I was growing plants in my house, and overall I was making hash oil. Didn’t know that it was illegal to actually make that whole process, but it was. It’s totally legal, I’m fine to have the products to actually make it, and also the end product. Just that whole middle line is the illegal part, and I didn’t know. But, I realized quickly after I had an explosion for making hash oil with butane, very stupidly. I’ve always done crazy things in my life, I’ve always been an action taker, somebody that takes risk, tremendous risk all throughout life. I always just felt like God had extreme favor in my life and always protected me one way or another.
Brandon Elliot: He did in this situation as well, because for some odd reason I was wearing gloves, baseball gloves. I never played baseball, but I had gloves on at the time, was wearing socks. Those didn’t burn off me and it saved my hands, saved my feet, but everything else, my shirt and my shorts burned off me. Yeah, it was just a crazy situation. But, I’m super blessed. In court, it was a crazy long process and I found myself in 11,000 worth of debt right from the start. That was the first time I’ve ever been the debt super scary situation. It was basic. I got out of it within a year, and trialed out the whole court process for three years.
Brandon Elliot: Eventually, I was about to serve five years in prison and they gave me a chance to speak. I prepared myself properly and the judge, overall, had favor on me. I ended up getting sentenced to house arrest for a period of time, and then probation for three years afterwards. So, I’m off probation now and everything’s amazing.
Stefan Aarnio: So, Brandon, I mean, what’d you learn from that whole experience? Because that’s some crazy shit. Burning your body like that, making some drugs, whatever. What’d you learn from that whole experience?
Brandon Elliot: Dude, I learned so much. With my personality type, I needed something this big, something crazy to be able to smack the hell out of me and be like, “Dude, you need to change your goals. You need to change your life.” I just didn’t have the guidance. The opportunities were just lined up a little differently. I didn’t realize what I really had and all the blessings that are truly in my life. Now, I’ve just learned to not be in that negative. If I’m smart enough to be able to do all the other crazy things and makes good money in one avenue and another in a negative aspect, I can do it in a positive aspect as well. That’s what I realized the most.
Stefan Aarnio: Well, that’s really interesting Brandon, because I think there’s a fine line there. I was listening to a preacher on Sunday at church. He was talking about how he’s watched this Netflix series about death row, and the commonality of all the death row inmates is, they didn’t have a father. You mentioned u7 didn’t have a strong father figure. I’ve noticed something as well, is that entrepreneurs and criminals, very similar people. You go on this side of the fence, entrepreneur, you go on this side, criminal. Why don’t you speak to that a little bit, about the father figures and entrepreneurs and criminals. Talk to me a bit about that, because it sounds like you’ve been on the bad side of things, you’ve been on the good side of things and what’s it like?
Brandon Elliot: It’s definitely a fine line. I think at the end of the day it’s just misguidance. At the end of the day, I think we’re all very creative, but it depends on how you use it and if you’re a risk taker, then you might do some illegal, crazy things if the opportunity is presenting itself. I feel like a lot of negative things surrounds the poor areas to a certain degree. It’s more right in your face. In the more wealthier areas, it might be there, but it might be hidden a little bit. So, growing up in more of a poor area and not having the guidance, at the end of the day, I didn’t know growing up that I needed a father figure as much as I do now, how much I realize it now. But, you don’t know what you don’t know pretty much. I didn’t have one, so I just didn’t know.
Brandon Elliot: But, overall I did grow up with a single parent mother and two sisters. Overall, there’s a lot of drug addiction, alcohol addiction. My mother is a manic depressive bipolar, so in a lot of ups and downs to say the least, at a very young age I acknowledged that I had to be the dole of myself, because my mom would encourage me to stay at home and hang out with her. When I told her, “I have a test today,” and I didn’t want to take the test. I didn’t want to go to school, but at the end of the day she was encouraging me to stay home like a best friend or something. So, I knew at a very young age I had to grow up and be the man of the house pretty much.
Stefan Aarnio: So, Brandon, it is a great story man. I mean, there’s a lot of obstacles in your way, a lot of problems. At what point did you just take control of everything in your life? Because, someone with your situation could easily just be a victim and say, “Well, this is the hand of cards I have,” or, “I’m a victim here.” What made you take ownership of everything and have a positive outcome?
Brandon Elliot: It’s a good question. At a young age I realized, like I said, that I had to be the man of the house. So, at age nine I was looking for work, but I was doing odd jobs in the area of my neighborhood. But, 12, I actually got my first job. Just saving up and realizing that I want something bigger and better, it’s the overall picture of it. I was so tired of living for, and that fed me a lot to keep on grinding, keep on working for something. After the explosion, that was the point that it was such a shake and such a smack to the face, that I needed something different.
Brandon Elliot: I stopped hanging out with the circle of people that I was hanging out with because they were just all negatives. Living for today and not tomorrow, just partying every night and chasing girls, stuff like that. Stupid things. Overall, I just realized that it would be more beneficial for me to start picking up a book and reading some self help books, to get me to a better mindset because I grew up with that negative mindset very embedded in me from my surroundings as well as just in my household.
Stefan Aarnio: So, Brandon, I’m reading in between the lines here, but faith must have a big place in your life, because you’re starting out in the negative in the mud, then you’ve got to get over here to the positive, to the good. Tell me a little bit how faith plays out with that, because faith allows you to see the unseen. You can see the things that haven’t happened yet. You can see the bright future. How does faith play in all that? Because man, most people wouldn’t make it out of what you made it out of.
Brandon Elliot: Yeah. I’m so glad that you’re bringing this up, because I feel like it’s not talked about enough. Overall, I think one of my biggest blessings growing up was that my mom did take us to church and she did just give us another outlet of something that could possibly help change our life and help us throughout and keep us fulfilled. Faith has helped me tremendously because, it is that unseen, but at the same time, there’s been so many miracles, so many things that you just can’t explain that has happened in my particular life and around me that, I have to have faith. It’d be stupid not. Because, there’s just so many unbelievable things that you can’t put an answer to.
Brandon Elliot: I think that’s where faith comes into play, which eliminates the fear. So many people live in fear and living experience. Just, you’re going backwards. You’re never going to progress and get it to that next level. So, I’m just so thankful for faith and to be able to have that higher power, feel fulfilled, be able to get past all negative things in the past and look forward to a better and a bigger future.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow. I love what you said there, “Faith really is the antidote to fear.” Now, let me ask you this, why do you think most people don’t take action? You think it’s fear or is it something else?
Brandon Elliot: think it’s fear for sure.
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah. What do you think they’re afraid of? What are some of the types of fear that you see, if you’re inspiring people to take action, what’s the normal types of fear you see?
Brandon Elliot: I think it’s fear, but I also think it comes from their upbringing. I feel like everybody, no matter your rich, poor, whatever it may be, everybody makes their own opinions, their own judgments. But, if you ask everybody how they grew up, there’s going to be some pain level behind that. Nine times out of 10, everybody truly feels, deep down, like they had it the worst. Then, you bring up some horrible situation to somebody over in Africa or India, then they’ll put some more perspective to it in comparison. But overall, everybody feels like, this hurt, in some type of situation.
Brandon Elliot: I think acknowledging what happened, understanding that type of situation, forgiving people involved, and then being able to just let go of it, totally release it from your past so it’s not holding you back, that is the biggest breakthroughs to be able to get past. Then, you’re not going to be living in fear. You’re not going to hold those things on your shoulder anymore.
Stefan Aarnio: Well, I got to ask you, this is some high level stuff, man. Real high level psychology. How do you let go of all the pain and all the hurt? What did you do to actually let that go? What’s the technique you used?
Brandon Elliot: I think just meditating, or just putting yourself back into that situation. Whatever that hurt may be, back in your past, and then forgiving the people involved. Taking ownership of your part in the involvement, really putting yourself in other people’s shoes. Because, it’s very easy to point the blame at your mother or your father, or whatever the situation is, but then when you actually put yourself in their shoes and really try to make sense of the situation, what would you have done if you grew up just like they did, if you got abused like they did or whatever it may be, and then you were in their exact situation. You think like them, you are exactly that person, I think that is something in itself to be able to just not put all the blame on them and try to forgive them to be able to move forward.
Stefan Aarnio: Let me ask this Brandon, you got two parts show up. You’ve got a very negative part, very positive part. Did success change you or did you have to change to become successful?
Brandon Elliot: Oh, for sure. I definitely had to change to become successful. Everybody’s level of success is different, but overall, you’re surrounding your circle. You are the average of the five people you hang out with. I mean, it’s so true at the end of the day, if you’re hanging out with negative people, you’re going to find yourself in negative situations. So, if you really start changing yourself, your mindset, you start picking up some books, getting that positive momentum and wanting something bigger and better out of your life. Also, just understanding you have a bigger purpose on earth than just to get by, and really be able to leave either legacy or to be able to impact more people’s lives by inspiring them or to help them get to their next level, whatever it may be. I think we all have a bigger purpose than to just make it or to live poor, or whatever that may be. So, I think you definitely 100% need to change yourself before you can change anything else around you.
Stefan Aarnio: What do you think is the biggest thing you had to change?
Brandon Elliot: Mindset for sure. My mindset, the negative, the stinking thinking that kept on popping up every time. I was always creative. I always felt like, if I just had somebody else that was like minded like me, we could brainstorm and that can could help all the negative things that slow me down. Build more momentum, but overall it’s just a lot of negative sauce that would hold me back.
Stefan Aarnio: So, every entrepreneur I talk to, Brandon, has an obsession. What’s your obsession?
Brandon Elliot: Obsession. For the very longest time it was work. Grinding and keep on pushing forward to try to hit that level of success. But overall, the last year or two years, I’ve really been focused on having that balanced life. So, as far as obsession, I’m obsessed with making myself the best possible being that I can be. I think that’s where I’m at right now, but overall I think it’s very, very important to have that balanced life.
Stefan Aarnio: What’s balance to you, because balance means something different to everybody.
Brandon Elliot: Of course. Yeah. So, for the longest time, like I said, I was just focusing on business. I was putting my relationship on the back burner, and I was also putting any fitness or my health on very far back burner, just because I’ve never had any issues. But, as you get older, I’m only 28 right now, but if I don’t take care of myself now, then the little things are adding up. So, hitting the gym, eating healthier, focusing on not just my love relationship, with my significant other, but friendship relationships and really just having all aspects of my life, having that full balance. Friends and quality in business as well.
Stefan Aarnio: So, what motivates you to be great at what you do? Because everybody, you get into something, you can be mediocre, you could be crappy. What’s the thing that motivates you to step up and go above and beyond?
Brandon Elliot: Like I said, I grew up with a little bit of a negative household family wise. My goal has always been to build a united, strong family that pushes each other to prosper. So, I would really like to be the leading cause of that, to help motivate people and educate people within my family to want something bigger and better, and not settle for less.
Stefan Aarnio: That’s fantastic. I love that. What’s one moment you thought you were going to fail, Brandon, where you thought all this stuff was going to come crashing down on you and it’d be over?
Brandon Elliot: As far as in real estate, my very first deal, I had so many learning curves when it comes down to dealing with contractors. Way too many. I had my very first project. I got a great price on a great deal and overall it was all cosmetics I needed to be done. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing when it came down to hiring somebody. They showed up, they seem like a man of their word, I trusted them, and that was my biggest mistake. I was paying them up front because they asked me to, instead of when the job was getting done. It should’ve been two months at the most, instead it took a year and two months.
Brandon Elliot: Five contractors later … I actually still have this property today and it’s still cash flowing, it’s still great. It’s a free and clear property, but boy, I had some learning curves when dealing with contractors. So, there was a bunch of hiccups throughout that whole year that I was like, “Damn, did I make the right decision or am I doing this correctly?”
Stefan Aarnio: So, five contractors, I got to ask man, that’s got to be a record. How do you go through five contractors?
Brandon Elliot: Yeah, man. I should’ve have sued at least three of them, probably four, but I just took it as learning curves, I kept on moving. Basically, the very first one, I thought it was a great company and I found out that after I already started giving them money, I gave them 15,000 to start everything up. I found out from some of their employees that they were actually filing for bankruptcy and they were falling out of business. So, I started panicking and freaking out. They were messing around with the invoices a little bit as well. Labeling it one thing, like saying, “We were getting a whole new roof done,” when we weren’t working on the roof whatsoever. Sounds like, “That’s a little weird. I don’t know why the hell we’re doing that.”
Brandon Elliot: So basically, I just needed my money back. So, it was big old battle for about three months. Finally got my money back, and then I hired two guys that were working for him that got laid off. Basically, I was dealing with one to pay him and then I find out, two months into it, that he was holding on to most of the money not paying the other guy, and starts doing a lot of fishy things. They’re fighting together. The guy I was giving money to, he ends up leaving it and taken off the job, so I started working with the other guy, and had issues with that.
Brandon Elliot: He’s screwing me over on pricing and labor and all this other stuff. Not actually doing the work that he said he was doing. So, bunch of trial and error. Basically, what the best solution is with dealing with contractors is, I only use referral base now. So, people that I already know, like, and trust, that wouldn’t screw me over, that I know confidently, those guys I’ll ask for their recommendations. I’ve never had a problem since.
Stefan Aarnio: It’s a secret that I learned over the years is, the best contractor is always referrals from property management companies. Call the property management company, get a referral from them. Always, like clockwork, my best contractors are always that. Now, Brandon, when you were starting out, did other people doubt you? Did they say, “Oh, you’re never going to do it. You’re never going to buy a property, you’re going to be bankrupt. That’s never going to work.”
Brandon Elliot: Did on a daily basis. So, it still happens to me every day. I have people that reach out to me, with that stinking thinking, that mindset that, they’re not going anywhere. At the end of the day, I’ll listen and I’ll fully take into consideration people’s thoughts. It’s just human nature to here somebody else’s opinion, but I won’t take it that strongly unless I know that they’ve already been there and they’ve done it. If they’re doing it, if they’ve flipped a bunch of homes or they have a huge portfolio of rentals, I’ll take their advice all day and I’ll really consider it. But, at the end of the day, real estate there’s so many different outlooks to real estate that you can still …
Brandon Elliot: What may work for you may not work for me, or it could work for me, but at the end of the day, I’m doing a different strategy that I fell in love with, that resonates and works for me. So, there’s always going to be naysayers and people that live in fear, that are scared that you’re going to either get more successful or whatever it may be that they want to hold you back and pull you back.
Stefan Aarnio: The crab bucket, the crabs are always reaching out to grab you when you try to climb over them. They always say, it was a great line, “Everybody wants to see their friends get successful, but not more successful than them.”
Brandon Elliot: That’s right. Isn’t that screwed up?
Stefan Aarnio: It’s human nature, man. If you can go back to the beginning and talk to a 16 year old Brandon or 18 year old Brandon, what’s a piece of advice you’d give yourself?
Brandon Elliot: Oh, that’s so good. I would try to have a strong talking with me and it probably wouldn’t work to be honest, because I was just so stubborn. But overall, I needed guidance at that time. So, all the money that I had at the time I would have really focused on finding a male guidance, putting myself back in church at that time, because I had a fall out growing up, with just some negative pastors in my old church back home. So, I think just having better role models and guidance around me. Not just rely on myself and my focus in a negative direction. I would have a couple more insights of something a little bit more positive.
Stefan Aarnio: I love that. Top three books that changed your life Brandon, what are they?
Brandon Elliot: So, the very first one is definitely ‘Rich dad. Poor Dad’. That one I had three different people recommended to me in within a year. But, another three or two of which were all in one week. So, it was something that I like, “All right, all right. I’ll finally do it.” I read it and it was definitely the inspiration, and it’s something that sparked that flame underneath it. Besides that, another awesome real estate book, the ’36 Key Measurements of What Every Real Estate Investor Needs to Know About Financial’. It’s a little broken right there. It’s a very long title, but yeah, it’s a really good one.
Stefan Aarnio: Who’s that one by?
Brandon Elliot: It’s Frank Gallinelli. It’s a really good one. Then, I really loved the ‘Four Hour Work Week’.