Episode 93 – Scott Lewis on The Military Millionaire Podcast

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Episode 93 – Scott Lewis on The Military Millionaire Podcast

00:00 - 05:00

David:

How was your drive?
Looking at the new backer, I actually liked the solid. I thought about painting this wall black when I first moved in here, but I just didn't feel like...

Alex:

The background you like the bare blue?

David:

Yeah, kind of.

Alex:

I think I'm gonna spend some money and get a new light because I hate my setup and I don't know what I'm gonna do with this backdrop yet, I may not put the pictures back up like I used to, but I'm going to do something tricky.

David:

Just do a green screen and then you can do everything you want.

Alex:

I feel like doing a green screen and then just doing like, you know I can do continuously changing advertisements or I can do all sorts of just up noxious stuff.

David:

Yeah, just do just find a way to make Google AdWords appear in your background.

Alex:

I would advertise someone to just say things that I think are you know, in my mind, like, you know, quotes the day or something like that. I might use greenscreen.

David:

Here's my I'm gonna ask you a question. You got 30 seconds to answer it. Since we're not talking about the future. But we are because you and I've been going back and forth on this.

What is your take on the idea of having cell phones and or chips, the idea of being able to contact trace individuals so that if I was tested positive for COVID, the government would be able to see who I ran into over the last 10 days?

Alex:

I think it's what I say in the United straight out of Orwell. I think not enough people have read 1984. I also think it's inevitable. So if you've also read 1984 the premises don't bother fighting. So, yeah, I mean, yeah. I mean, they're gonna track us, they're gonna, they're gonna, they're already starting to do things like take your temperature before you enter public places.

I mean, not anywhere I've been, but I know it's coming. And so yeah, I mean, they're going to get your biometrics and they are going to misuse it. And anybody who's listening to this, if you're not upset every time you go to the TSA that you don't understand how bad you don't understand the damage of totalitarians. And so they'll welcome it because it'll seem useful. it'll seem reasonable.

David:

Yeah. Now I got demonized yesterday for saying that I thought that that was like, I don't want that app.

Alex:

Well, what do you care what I mean look..

David:

You know, I'm not saying it offended me I'm saying like, it was funny to me that it was like, how dare you not be okay with this event? Right? Save a Life and I was like...

Alex:

Oh, you got demonized? Didn't you say that on a thread that I started?

David:

Yeah, I was trying. I was jumping into your honor. And then you just left me hanging. He's gonna say something. joking. I'm joking.

Alex:

Let me say something. While we're on this. I'm gonna tell everybody my style, right?
This is the key to social media. And the real. your instinct, right? Your petty, natural instinct is to get the last word on things. When you argue. On the internet, you should always let the other person get the last word. If I ever think if you go back and forth one tooth by the third time I can tell them like, now I'm done. I'm done first, you can have the last word because then you're sitting around waiting For me to respond while I'm moving on with my life.

David:

Yeah, which is exactly why if you go down far enough after I made a few points I just ended it with like, you know, hey, obviously we're not going to agree on this have a great day or I hope I hope you have the best or something. And then there were a few comments after that I never, whatever. Yeah, anyway, it's all funny.

Alex:

I'm here to instigate not…

David:

It’s entertaining but that being said, today's guests because we normally talk about this is Scott Lewis with Spartan investments who I met when he came and spoke to our mastermind group.

Intro:

You're listening to the military millionaire podcast, a show about real estate investing for the working class. Stay tuned as we explore ways to help you improve your finances, build wealth through real estate, and become a person that is worth knowing.

David:

What's up guys today I wanted to stop and sponsor my own podcast by myself which is a little cheesy to tell you about the course that I'm launching called from zero to one real estate investing for beginners.

Now, this is not a course to help you get rich fast, this is not a course to promise you to make a bajillion dollars. But this is the course that will help you get from zero rental properties to one rental property.

It is designed to get you through your first purchase everything you need to know to get you through that step with support from myself, obviously, via email and whatever, so that we can talk and I can help answer some of those questions for you. And it is extremely affordable right now because I'm launching it for only 97 bucks, which given the amount of content in there and the testimonials I got from the people who tested it beforehand. I am super on the low end for that price, but I'm gonna probably have to bump it up in a little while.

But for now to test the waters and see exactly how many people I'm able to help with this. I want it to be extremely affordable because I want to help service members and veterans their feet in the water. So if you are interested in learning about rental properties, and you just want to learn how to get your first one, and then there are some bonus episodes in there to help you advance past that. But if you really just want to know everything you need to know to buy your first property without screwing yourself over. This is the course for you go ahead and check it out the link will be down below in the show notes. And back to your episode.

05:00 - 10:00

David:

Hey, what's up everybody? It's Dave and Alex from the military millionaire podcast. Look at that I didn't even introduce you as a co host. You're getting more official every time. And we've got Scott Lewis today who is the CEO of Spartan investments. He's an army veteran, been in for 13 years in the reserves currently, and did some active duty time in there as well. And Scott and I met when he came and spoke to the mastermind group that I host, and I was impressed and reached out to him right after the speaking and said, Hey, I'd love to get you on the podcast. And now that none of us have day jobs anymore, and we're all stuck inside. It just seems like the world is coming together for scheduling podcasts. So Scott, thanks for joining us today.

Scott:

Thanks, gentlemen. Appreciate you inviting me on the show. And I look forward to chatting.

David:

Absolutely.

Why don't you like to give the audience a little bit of your background and tell a bit of your story?

Scott:

Yeah, so I was kind of late to the military. I was 27 when I went in and I went in the army through Officer Candidate School and OCS route in the army is called oh nine Sierra. If you've got a college degree, you can go to basic and then go to OCS after that. And then then your story is the same as everybody else's.

But the military was always something I'd wanted to do. But I got a pretty good gig out of college and I'm a big integrity guy. And there was some integrity stuff that was going on at the top levels of the company that I didn't really like. So I started to look for another job and at business school and kind of figured out what I wanted to do with my life. I was 26 when I started looking and I was like, you know what, screw it. Let's sell everything I own, abandon a condo in downtown Chicago and join the military that sounds like a fantastic idea. I've always wanted to take an 80% pay cut.

And luckily, I didn't take a haircut that was not a big change for me at the time, so that was good. But I kind of came to the military late on, I went in with the specific kind of thought of to serve my country and get some leadership experience and get some leadership education and training and then and then come back out.

I really didn't even have any desire to do the reserves or National Guard, I've done both but I've kind of found that that's a little bit better for me then then active duty, active duty was a little bit too much all the time for me, but I really enjoyed my time in the Army Reserves and Army National Guard.

And I've gotten to learn, you know, additional army stuff as I've as I've moved up in rank that's been very, very, very relevant for what I'm doing out here in the civilian world. I got off of active duty, I went and I worked for the government for a while. That was a complete waste of my life. So then, I didn't really I didn't enjoy that I didn't fit in really well so then that's what kind of prompted me to start sparring because I was basically unemployable by everybody else.

Alex:

I love this story.

Look, I feel very similar because I've been a misfit in the you know the what you're supposed to do type of world you know, W two jobs, military, corporate America, you know, I've always been the misfit, which sounds similar to yours, you're like, I just don't fit in. It's not a good fit. I'm gonna go off and do my own thing. So what was the initial Spartan? How did you start it?

Scott:

Yeah, so I was working for the government at the time and misfit is a great way to put it.
I didn't like the government, the government didn't like me. But I had you know, with some of us that have had federal jobs before there can often be time in your day, depending on where you're working as to pursue other options. And I had that time. So I'd been in real estate, I was a framer in high school in college.

That's how I got money. So I kind of had the real estate from the built environment kind of perspective, not the investment perspective, prior, and I really enjoyed just kind of being out there and I enjoyed real estate and building a home. So I was like, let me try this flipping thing. And there was a house. I was living in DC at the time in a neighborhood that was kind of gentrifying, and I did a big renovation on my home in DC there called pop ups when you tear the roof off, and you add another story on top of it to get that additional square footage.

So my wife and I did a pop up on our house and then the house in between mine and my business partner a couple years later, was this just really a ramshackle row house that was really bad news. And my wife was like, hey, you need to do something about that. What the hell do you want me to do? Like, so at the time I didn't know we were doing it. But we started a direct mail campaign because this was really this was probably two 2010 so bigger pockets really weren't out there and wholesaling and flipping it was there, but it certainly wasn't mainstream like it is now, like you weren't seeing it on HGTV and stuff.

10:00 - 15:00

Alex:

Well, it wasn't 10. Everybody was still reeling about real estate too. So it wasn't like you couldn't go to your friends and be like, I'm gonna do real estate and get a bunch of people excited because they were still really bearish about the economy and real estate in general.

So okay..

Scott:

That was a really good time to buy. We did really well, I bought those properties on my own and usually if your friends, if your friends think you're crazy, you might be onto something and they thought all my friends thought we were just absolutely bananas for buying where we were buying.

When we when we moved into that neighborhood, there was housing projects, there still was housing projects, but the demographics were definitely low income, African American, your quintessential DC kind of gentrifying neighborhood demographics and when we left, six years later, it was like 25 year old like, Caucasian women running around with strollers.
It moved incredibly fast in that neighborhood incredibly fast.

But we figured out how to get that house and it was funny I scraped together and this is, you know, for folks that have a tsp on you know, the old adage is never take a loan against your tsp, well, don't take a loan against your tsp to buy a boat, but take a loan against your tsp to do your first real estate deal, so long as you have a decent probability of it going well, and for this one, that's I didn't have any money at the time.

Um, so. So 50,000 bucks out of my tsp, asked my father in law for 50,000 bucks at dinner one night, and that's all I could scrape together was 100 grand called, I had spoken with the woman a couple of times, and she had always said, I'm sorry, I had sent her a couple of letters had spoken to her mom. And then finally I called her mom and answered, I'm like, hey, let dv know I can pay $100,000 for the house, it's all the money I can get together and, you know, I'm willing to buy it and they called me back and this is where integrity really goes. Are you sure you want to pay $50,000 for that house? Or $100,000? For the house that like, that seems like a lot? Well, I think that's what it's worth. And that's what I have. And that's my offer. They're like, okay, we'll take it. The day I signed the contract, our real estate agent offered us 200,000 for the paper. It was valued at like 375.
And that was just like, we didn't know that when we bought it. $100,000 is what I could scrape together between me and my father in law to do that deal.
And one of my buddies threw some money in as well.

David:

Wait, Alex, I have something to make first.

Alex:

Remember, don't intend anybody who hears this and tries to go out and do it now is gonna have a much more difficult time.

Scott:

Yeah, this so this is so this one was 2012. Not much better. I bought my house in 2010. And my partner bought his and oh nine but this was 2012. But still, it was still pretty low.

David:

So Alex missed the key part of this whole story. And I'm going to just point it out as if Alex missed it because he always gets all the good questions, but to me, the main point of this entire thing is, you had no intention of buying that frickin house. This whole thing started with your wife saying that the house sucks, fix it. And I think that's a huge piece of what entrepreneurs do, more than necessarily go and look for opportunities, which is great, but solving problems and so you got into this investment because you were like that, that thing's an eyesore. Like I that thing sucks we got to do something about that was kind of the mentality more than like, who I read this book and I heard I can make a million dollars through this, but it turned into like, exactly what the laws of the universe say if you solve a problem like anyway, so..

Alex:

To be clear the problem wasn't the ISO or the problem was life.

Scott:

Yeah! True but it's funny there was another house between my partner and I on that street on L street southeast in DC. We bought and rehab for row homes on that, that street, two of them that we lived in the one that was right in between us and then was another one down the street that was also condemned that just through a chance meeting, we actually found that the attorney that was working with the lawyer and you know, this is I can segue into a really kind of, you know, a key point here for folks just getting into it. It's a little bit like again, I'm looking backwards in this but that particular property, it was just it was a row home and there were a lot of row homes on the street that were single family.

These in particular started out as two unit duplexes, a top and a bottom unit.
But the zoning allowed for multiple units there was called R five Bravo at the time they've since done some rezoning and stuff down there, but it was literally there was an alley in the back of the street and there was literally that's that was the line for the zoning code. So L street K Street right there right next to each other K Street, you couldn't do for condos. L street you could.

So you know, for those folks that are getting started, like one of the key things I can say especially on the residential side of the house, the commercial side and not so much but the residential side. If you know the zoning and you understand zoning and you understand how to leverage zoning, where other folks don't, you're going to be on different battlefields. So it was between us and one other buyer, long for that particular property. That buyer was from out of state. They didn't know the zoning code. So they were negotiating as if it was a single family home. We were negotiating as if it was a four unit condo.

15:00 - 20:00

Scott:

The economics are a little bit different between those two, we had set our maximum price that we could pay for that, given all the financials at 750,000. When our attorney called, he's like, hey, man, I've got another offer in it's for 415, if you guys can do 450 it's yours. I literally about soiled my pants in the chair. I mean, we had $300,000 because we were playing a different game, this guy was going to just renovate it into a single family home.

And when she could sell it for about 700,000, we were renovating it into two condos, which at the end of the day, we sold for 2.3 million. So just like boots for those for condos, right.
So, the difference there was we had, we knew just that underlying zoning code, that's how we want it on that particular project.

Alex:

That's the best 20 grand anybody's spent.

Scott:

Yep.

Alex:

That increases yeah, good for you.

David:

Wow. That's, that's huge. And you're absolutely correct. Just understanding how to utilize the laws that are already in place. It's it, I mean..

Alex:

Your boots on the ground in DC, right?

Scott:

We were so that way we were kicking rocks in those neighborhoods. You know, just like any of us that go overseas, you start kicking rocks on the neighborhoods over and over and over again.

You really learn them when we first started on with Ryan and I was really kind of just home flip. And that's what we were doing, we would only invest in four zip codes inside of DC. Because we lived it. We knew it. We were kicking rocks on it every day. There, we knew the streets. We knew the zoning code, we knew exactly what we could offer because, you know, especially if you're in the single family there, especially now there's so much competition for this stuff out there. Right? If you're doing a direct mailing campaign, it's no different for us in storage right now. We now mainly focus on self storage and we do direct mailing campaigns no different than the residential guys to the residential. It's really a first mover's advantage.

When that happens a homeowner calls you, and they're like, well, what can you pay for my house? Man, they got 10 other letters that are right behind them. So if you've got to hesitate and you can't pull the trigger right away, you're gonna miss that opportunity because the guy behind you can. So that's, you know, I guess another thing is when you should have some sort of tracking method mechanism. It doesn't have to be some snazzy like CRM system, it can be at ik, we used Excel sheets when we first started.

That was even before podio really kind of got, like, got out there and the house flipping space. And like, we could look up a particular property on that spreadsheet that we had sent a letter for, and the max offer was already listed in that spreadsheet, because we'd already done the analysis. So we took a very, very targeted approach. Some guys are sending out 100,000 letters a month, we were sending out like 10, but it was 10 properties that no matter what we would buy if they called us we were ready. Like we were over there in minutes. And we knew we had an offer right in front of them. We knew we could buy it.

Alex:

That's a big thing in this business, people, beginners have a little bit of an uphill climb because, you know, I tell people, you're separated by those who know you can close and those and those who don't, are those who don't close.
And so if you could just show up and say I'm confident that I can close and then God forbid you develop a track record for it. You get a big advantage. Just by saying, I can show up, I can write the check and move forward with it. So that's, that's good to hear you say that.

Scott:

And it's the same way in commercials. It's a vanity metric, but right now Spartan is 100% contract to close on every commercial deal we've done anywhere from, you know, a million dollars up to 10 million. And you know, like I said, it's a vanity metric that I don't really care about, neither does my partner, our acquisitions, guys really do.
But it's one of those things that you really shouldn't be writing a contract on something that you can't buy. So long as everything comes through on the due diligence side, on our own world. There's a couple different things. There's feasibility and due diligence, and I guess we'll just kind of naturally wander into the differentiator between the two, for every property that you're looking at, whether it's a single family rental that you're going to buy and rent out, or it's some commercial deal that you're looking at or whatever or a house with whatever you're doing. You should determine whether your business plan is for that particular property is feasible. That's the feasibility side of the House.

20:00 - 25:00

Scott:

The due diligence side of the house is like doing your inspections, doing your walkthrough if it's if it's a commercial facility or multifamily, like you're checking leases and estoppel stuff, that's the due diligence side. But by the time you get to due diligence, so long as everything is close to what the seller says, you should be ready to buy something that you shouldn't get into. You shouldn't write a contract, at least this is our opinion. So a lot of folks are doing this but you really shouldn't write a contract. If you don't even know what you want is feasible.

You can at least get a week or two from the seller and or block it up in an LOI a letter of intent, or letter of interest, whatever, whatever how it's written in articles that you're reading about, to get a couple of weeks where it's like, okay, you know, we'll do this handshake agreement, you can determine whether it's feasible or not, they're usually very, very short timelines, we usually try to keep it to 10 business days, two weeks to determine if it's feasible and then we move to contract.

Otherwise like don't moving to a contract like that gets people all split up, because they’re really excited, they start spending the money in their head and then and then if you and then if it fails because of you because your business plan doesn't work, that to us is just just bad News Bears. We don't like to do that. So, for us if we're going to contract as long as you said, as long as it's what it is, as long as the financials line up, as long as it's not a hot mess, from a physical inspection point or an environmental inspection point, we're going to buy the thing.

David:

Yeah. I like that. I think that's valid because I agree with you that a lot of people will, mean I, I see I guess both sides of the coin like I completely understand the idea of you know, writing the offer if it goes under contract, like you know, there's all the due diligence there for the safety net, but that's what it's there for is a safety net, but as long as what you originally thought is accurate. Absolutely. I think it's gonna hurt you more. If you don't go through with it and you earn a reputation for breaking contracts in town that could be real, real dangerous.

Scott:

Especially if you're in the commercial world and you're going through brokers, it'll crush you. If you're the guy that likes getting everybody spun up because brokers like when that contract comes in like that, that's, that's really that's their bread and butter, right? So for the broker side of the house, you better be a team that can close and, you know, for us, for anybody that's listening to this, especially anybody that's a green or blue suit or tan suitor, like you've been trained especially like you guys like, the Marines they don't do much right but one things you guys do have is adapt, improvise and overcome and man I stole that like fair square like you guys have really squared away uniforms in a really good mindset.

Your frontal attack..

David:

It is the nicest insult I've ever heard.

Scott:

Yeah, I know. That the frontal assault I like on every piece of terrain I don't I don't know that I agree with that. But, I tell you what, you guys look sharp and your attitudes are fantastic. The adaptability to revise and overcome or make or is what makes Marines, Marines at least from an army guys perspective, in every force should adopt that, because that's really what it's about. So anybody that's listening to this, you should be able to adapt, improvise and overcome challenges inside the due diligence process by being really creative.

And sometimes it will fail, sometimes you'll get a seller that's just like, yeah, man, not at not interested like that, take it or leave it. It's probably not a seller that you want to deal with, because there's probably some skeletons, skeletons in the closet that are gonna kind of come out and punch you in the head later on.

David:

It's funny you say that because it is super super jaded me in a way, that that mentality. And this is something I subconsciously judge people and I have to catch myself. But like, if I'm talking to someone, and they ask, like, if it's like a super, super, super simple question that they could answer themselves with, you know, Google, and they're like, calling me to bug me about it, like subconsciously, I'm always judging like, can you not figure things out on your own? Like, I'm the guy who will very quickly respond like, yeah, hang on. Let me google it for you. Like, like, here's your answer, you know. So I think that that's, I mean a huge piece of success, literally the entire way that I built everything and anything that I do is by like, I don't know how to do that, let me go watch a YouTube video on that. Let me go let me go figure that out.

Anyway, so, super digress, how did you go from? Yeah, I'll buy the ugly house next door too, I'm gonna raise, you know, 10s of millions of dollars and buy commercial properties.

Scott:

So, we realized that we hated the residential space. It just wasn't really for us. There's a lot, there's a lot of good stuff in it. A lot of people are making lots of money in it. It just wasn't really for us. It just was not our skill set and we wanted to get into cash flowing properties and quite frankly, I hate people. So I didn't want to have to deal with a multifamily.

Alex:

I'm thinking about you David.

25:00 - 30:00

Scott:

Yeah. I mean, honestly, that's what was really what was what was driving us and you know, I kind of have a kind of a belief that if I provide you something contractually agree that if I provide you something you're going to you're going to pay for that. I don't want the government to step in and stop me from collecting what is rightfully mine because of our agreement.
So that and I'm referencing really, as we're seeing right now with the Coronavirus.
No governments are stepping in and stopping landlords from, you know collecting rent and or evicting you know, now, of course, there should be some protections and some landlords would do the wrong thing here but most would do the right thing.

What the government isn't doing is they're not stopping in, they're not standing, stop errs stepping in and stopping banks from taking those multifamily properties from the owners when when so they're only protecting the residents, not the owners when the owners could be in a hurt locker as well. And some owners are our green suitors that own a four Plex or an eight Plex or a 16 Plex. They're not there on black stone.

David:

I have a tenant in my 10 unit right now who has not paid rent since January, we were three or four days away from the eviction process finalizing when the moratorium went up, and now, dude, it's just because of the Coronavirus even though it wasn't paying before that and I know that's like a super anomaly but it's just funny. Like, it's like yeah, but he's not affected by Coronavirus, social security and still getting paid and choosing not to pay me, like get rid of you know, so that's my only mistake or error on all this but not error but it's my only missed payment. But..

Scott:

That was one of the things that really kind of drove us to storage is you know how much the government gives a shit about your old and Ethel's like flower print, rocking chair that you've got stored in there, nothing. So, you know, in addition to just being really easy to operate and really easy to maintain, like a, you know, an angry tenant can't punch holes in a concrete storage unit wall like, I mean, if you want to take a sledgehammer to me more power to you, you're gonna be really huffing and puffing when you're done and then there's nothing behind it for you to get right?

David:

And it's gonna be on camera.

Scott:

Yeah, and it would be on camera so it's one of those that really pushed us to storage but to answer your question we have made the decision to go to commercial you know, to raise millions and millions of dollars we did do some raises for the residential side of the house. So we kind of had started to cut our teeth and we went to a syndication class and I recommend anybody, anybody that's going to be taking money from somebody else.

They should find a syndication class just one of those weekend things, Ryan and I went to the real estate radio guys secrets of successful syndication in Dallas.
We enjoyed that it was like 1700 bucks and this was in 2016 or something like that.
Really good gave us the knowledge that we needed to know that we didn't know shit and we needed to get an attorney. That's basically what it is. Before you go to that clash. You're like, Oh, I think I can do this and then you go to that clash like you don't need an attorney right. Just make sure you get a good attorney and I can recommend one to have on here, that's a former lieutenant colonel, he does all of our sec offerings for us. You'd be a great guest for you to have on here. So we can..

David:

I would love that. Let's talk afterwards.

Scott:

Yeah, we'll circle back.

David:

Just keep talking so Alex can keep pretending he has a question to ask.
I see him. He's trying so hard over there.

Scott:

Um, but but really make sure that like, that's the that's the first thing that as far as raising money, but that's really, you know, I mean, commercial, it's, you know, there's Russell Gray on the real estate radio guys had a had a comment or a quote, in one of his shows that, you know, if you have $100,000 loan, it's your problem, if you have a $10 million loan is the bank's problem.

Alex:

As a banker, I can confirm that.

Scott:

Yeah. So you know, I mean,

Alex:

But to be fair, and also that there's a nuance there that I mean, not to go into a whole about that, but there's a nuance there about where the liability lies. So if you have a $100,000 loan, and it's a Fannie Mae mortgage, then yeah, I mean, it's back kind of your problem, but if it's a $10 million loan, and it's on the commercial local banks balance sheet then they really they're your partners. Yep. And they really need you to pay.

Scott:

Yep. So the workouts are a lot easier on that side of the house. If something gets in versus the bank is coming in, foreclosed and they don't they don't want that thing. Most banks don't want to operate commercial assets. So they'll work it out with yeah.

David:

You think having a tenant in a crappy apartment trashed your house wait till an indicator trashes the entire building. No I’m just kidding. Here you go to the bank.

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30:00 - 35:00

Alex:

Scott, I have three questions for you regarding, um, storage versus multifamily.

You know, one. Part of the reason why I started with rentals is I didn't want employees, you said you hated people. I don't if you said I hated, but you don't like them. But you have to have employees for self storage.

The second one I wanted to ask is self storage, as far as I know, and I could be totally generalizing here, but it does good and up, and it does good in an up and down markets.

And the third question I had was, and I don't know if this is systemic nationally, but when I was in Las Vegas, I noticed something that I had never noticed before, over the last few years, which is big box franchise, self storage.
Companies are popping up more and more. And do you notice that Is it big enough to be a competitor? Or is that just some kind of fluke?

Scott:

So I'll start with the last question and work backwards. So there's five receipts out there. Real estate investment trusts that are publicly traded companies for storage, two of them that are really well known or public, those are the ones with the orange doors you see all over that they were the first ones that started in the late 70s. In Texas. You got extra space out of Utah. That's the green doors.

Those are your two behemoths and then you got cube smart store, store quest are the next two. And then the national storage affiliate affiliates, NSA or error, this kind of amalgamation of regional owners that kind of partnered up to release the stock. Those are your five and then you got some regionals that are around.
So kind of more to your point storage is kind of seen as kind of a hayday over the last I'll call it five years, maybe 2015, to now, because of your second question on how well it did through Oh, 809.

You know, stories kind of goes on, you know, up and down, but not not very much. Because, you know, in good times, people are buying too much shit and they need a place to put it. in bad times people lose that shit. And they need some place to put it.
So it's really you know, it's it's, it's called the recession resistant asset class like everything takes a hit.

So far we've done okay, but the shoe is probably going to drop for us to work, maybe not as bad as retail or hotels or our multi family because there's no protections out there for storage but we're probably going to see some softening on the economic occupancy side of the house.

But I mean, storage is pretty versatile. Most folks think storage I think of like people with their own junk. And there's a lot that doesn't get me wrong. But about 20% of our portfolio is businesses leveraging storage space versus really expensive retail or office space.
There's a small one in Conifer Colorado, and there's a retail strip center that's right across the street. I'd like if I had a decent arm, which I don't, I could probably hit it with a rock from my pocket.

Probably 90% of all the businesses in there have storage in ours because when you look at it, that retail I mean, it's in Conifer, it's a, it's probably a secondary little town, about 30 minutes west of Denver. But I bet you those retail, maybe 20 to $26, triple net, annually. Our storage, if you were to compare apples to apples is probably like 13. So for instance, there's a pet store there. Well, I mean, they store the vast majority of their inventory in for 10 by 15 units at 600 square feet of storage that they're getting at probably 50% the cost of their retail and when they run out of stuff, they just send an employee across the street and that employee comes over grabs what they need and takes it back and you know, in stocks the shelf, it's, it's the difference of like 10 minutes, but hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands of dollars a month in rent for those guys.

As far as your employee questions. Yeah, we do have to have employees that have that actual position, that facility itself actually doesn't have any employees. It's an unmanned facility. It's done all online, and when The code to get in and out. But we do and when you look at it, there's not very many employees, those multifamily guys like you have employees to, like they're just called property management companies, right? And if you're managing your own, like, you start to get a 50 60 70 units, you've got a maintenance guy, and you've got a couple of property managers that are there on site. It's the exact same with us.

My thing with not liking people is I don't, I don't want to have to deal with 50 60 80 tenants when I'm dealing with their homesteads, right? If you don't pay in storage, 60 days, I oxen, your shit, and that, like I clear out your unit. And it's really that simple. You never make any money on that storage war. It's never happened. There's never a midget on some guy's shoulders that nods like in the middle of the night, but that's not what's happening out there. In fact, all of our stuff is done online, but at the end of the day, my recapture is somewhere between 30 to 60 days. How even in Texas allows you to shoot your tenants if you'd if they don't pay, you can't get your unit back at 60 so that's really why we looked at storage.

35:00 - 40:00

Alex:

It sounds reasonable.

David:

Yeah I love the idea of storage, I've been playing playing with it well wanting to buy there's two or three parks, I don't know if park is the right word but, facility there you go in the near vicinity to where I live in Missouri that I've been in contact with via mail and owners for a while just like hey, let me know let me know. So hopefully I'll be first in mind when they do because I walked in when I had a storage unit. And before I bought my first rental property, I remember thinking like the guy had a house on that so it was all the storage facility units and then a house and so this older couple, a retired couple he paid them super minimum wage because they had the house was theirs.

And they just had to have one of them at the desk during hours and not even at the desk in the living room or wherever, you know, and you you bring the door and the little thing would open and hi can we help Doo doo doo doo doo and then it go down and they're in the house and I was like this is brilliant, like anyway so super cool.

Scott:

We you know, we enjoy it we don't we don't have let's see yeah we don't have any facilities where we have live on site managers and we're not a huge fan of that not because it makes it dicey if they don't work out um but there's a lot of older like the mom and pop store just just like what you're talking about that have you know, an apartment over the office or anything else like that and you know, generally as far as the the load for employees goes, it is pretty minimal.

I would just say for listeners just be careful on buying storage as an active business. It's not a set and forget it type thing like a single family rental. There's a lot more to it. You've got tenants that are moving in and out. That's, you could call that that's the drawback. It's a double edged sword, right? We can use dynamic pricing like the airlines. Like if you go online and book a unit. That's a different price than if you show up with a wagon full of stuff that you need to unit right then in there, right? But we can do that. And we constantly are changing our prices, depending on the amount of occupancy in a particular unit size. If we have 105 by fives and 98 of them are occupied, those last two are going to be really expensive.

You know, and we can change our pricing per unit size. So it's not like and it's pretty dynamic, we might have six or seven different unit sizes, in some facilities, you kind of got to build them with the whole kind of schedule of unit sizes. But some unit sizes aren't going to do as well as others like in our more rural the five by five, they kind of suck. So those will be cheaper per square foot than say that the 10 by 20s or 10 by 30s, which in the rural areas, people liked those bigger units because they're storing bigger stuff.
So it really kind of gives us it's a double edged sword there that people can just pack up and leave whenever they want. It's really easy, but at the same time, then you can change the rates very, very quickly.

David:

That's good to know.

Alex:

So Scott, you started in just called 12 flipping, now you have this really impressive large portfolio of self storage. And I want to ask on behalf of maybe new people who are looking to get their first single, or their second single family, and they hear your story.

And well, I just want to express that. Yeah, it sounds fast, because we talked about it for over 20 minutes, but eight years, and I just want to not to take away anything from your success, but eight years of a monstrous economic run, especially in real estate. So how can you have any advice that you could say? Or can we look back and say, yeah, it's possible for the next guy to kind of get started in something. Yeah, you can start with a single family. You can start with a duplex, you can start with a flip and then still be able to grow. What do I say? It takes a lot more, it takes a lot longer than then how long it takes us to tell the story.

So any hardships. Can we talk about how it was? How do I say it? Then it sounds right now I just want to put some reality.

David:

This is the worst question Alex has ever...

Scott:

I'm just picking up here. I'm picking up what you're putting down.
So, you know, like there's that old adage that if you have one hour to chop down a tree, you better be sharpening your ax for five hours.

So yeah, it sounds like you know, it sounds like we've had this like meteoric rhyme, but really kind of going into it. Number one, I was probably 34 when we got started.

I had a good balance sheet. I had a decent amount of liquidity. I had a lot of equity in my house. Ryan was probably 30 I think he's four years younger than me so he was probably 30 I think he turned 30 right when we got the first property right.

So we weren't we weren't 22 or something like that. Now there's plenty of younger guys that are going out there and getting it done. But we had good balance sheets on you know, we had like we were financially like squared away we had good w two jobs. So For that first deal, we've never used hard money at all on that first deal, the bank gave us a loan for our first deal on that, and that was a $165,000 renovation budget on an 800 square foot house. So, um, you know, we tore it completely down to the studs.

40:00 - 45:00

Scott:

But we were able to do that because A, I had invested in my tsp, so I was able to get $50,000 out of it. And remember, that's that you can only take up to 50,000. So I had more in there than that.

So I had the juice. And now Luckily, I had a father in law and a buddy that contributed to the fight there as well. But, you know, I had some financial wherewithal, and both of us that signed on the loan for the bank, we had good balance sheets so that the bank would lend us money on our first deal where we didn't have to go do foreign 14 our first loan was one point, like five and a quarter for that for that deal, right? So instead of giving thousands away to a hard money lender, we were able to do it through a traditional bank.

So I know, I say that as it's Not you know, I actually started this in my mid 20s by being financially squared away and not overspending myself not buying cars and doing all that other shit. Don't get me wrong there's there's there was plenty of stupid nights at the bar in Chicago when I was in my mid 20s. Don't get me wrong, we've all been there.

But overall, I was pretty squared away financially by the time we started to do this. So it enabled us to do that first deal and that first deal we made hundreds of thousands of dollars on it. Well, then the next week after that the bank was like, Okay, what do you need? And then we just did the next three deals and even that, even that condo conversion. I mean, that was a million dollar loan that Ryan and I secured ourselves. So again, you know, we started out from a pretty decent footing on that as far as I get it started and then kind of growing we had good resumes, when you start losing money from folks on you know, we we went real short on the bio, but I mean, I've got I've got a bunch of education, master's degrees certificates, all that shit from decent universities. I've got good ones. work experience we've got all of us have the military experience that will matter. But we have good resumes.

So all of that stuff is that whole ecosystem of really kind of squaring yourself away first before you get started. That's really what kind of helped us move and people looking at us being like, okay, these are the type of guys will give money to because they've done well in other parts of their lives

David:

Curious for you. And I'm going to just ask this as a super beginner because I know you've got all kinds of information on this but on the raising money side, which you do very well, if you were looking to get started in like raising money because i think i think right now with the way the market is I mean shoot I'm under contract on a property right now that the bank is asking me for testicle hair follicles to see if I'm gratified and, and and my finances are wonderful for this. It's not like hey, we've got all these wonderful lending criteria, but we took the normal like white picket fence and made it a Trump border wall to get into the actual loan.

So it's just ridiculous barriers. To enter and not even financial stuff, it's weird but so people are starting to look at you know, seller financing and private lending and all this stuff. So what would you say if someone was just looking like a man, I should look into doing some private money lending other people's money raising capital would be some beginner, where should they start? I guess this would be my question for you.

Scott:

I think they start in the same place like make sure so I am an FA 30 which is an information operations officer, so in the army, like when you get to feel great oh four, you can start to kind of specialize in something called a functional area. So I am an FA 30. And in that within that realm, we have a term called information fratricide.

So what you don't want to do is put out mixed messaging, right. So when I say that is everything that you put out, it should tell the exact same story. It shouldn't be like if you are going to use statistics to make yourself awesome, look like we do, make sure that the statistics on your website versus your one pager aren't different. Because I'll tell you that if I'm an investor and I and I pick up a one pager, and I go and I go to your website and it says, You've done 10 deals on your, on your one pager and your website says six, on, I'm going to start to think like, whoa, man, like, this guy doesn't care enough to make sure that he's putting out the same message. Make sure your LinkedIn profile isn't a hot mess. You know, so often, like..

Alex:

Guilty!

Scott:

So don't take your own picture. Like none of us look good when we do it ourselves. It just doesn't.

Yeah, I don't like getting a professional picture up there, right. You want to put your best foot forward because you know as human beings like we can see all the data in the world.
But man, if somebody just doesn't get a good feeling for me, they're not going to write you a check. And it doesn't matter if it's equity or debt. Banks look at your stuff too. I see our lenders looking at my LinkedIn all the time. So really just make sure, like, take a month and get all your stuff squared away and make sure anything that's out there facing against, like, against the world that has your name on it is uniform across the board.

45:00 - 50:00

Scott:

And if there's a problem, it's not a bad thing, man. I mean, maybe you I don't know, did something stupid in your youth or something like that? Like, if if, if you can find it, you should find it and be aware of it. And don't let somebody else don't let some investor find it. Like, make sure it's there. And if you made a mistake early on, it's not, it's not the kiss of death. Just address it, own it and drive on. Don't let people find it without letting them know.

Alex:

Yeah, so I think it's just I worked in bank underwriting for quite a while and I've raised some money and so kind of on both sides of that, in a way.
And it's interesting, I think kind of what you're saying or if I could summarize it or say in a different way as people are looking to invest in you more than anything.

And so in fact, one of the five C's of credit. The first one is character, right? The bank, yeah, they're gonna go through the financials, but they really want to know that you can pull this off and that you're going to be good to deal with and that you're going to be a good investment. And so they're going to Google you. And they're gonna go through this, this part of the underwriting to and and your private investors give me the same way who's David? You know, what's he about blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And so yeah, I really like that you say that. Make sure you look good. Make sure you have your stuff together. And some of it you know, it's kind of like, if you care, it will show, kind of thing.

Scott:

One of the presentations I've given up at the event that was supposed to be in St. Louis whose name I forgot it's with Stu and those all those other guys on and Bill Allen that's hosting I'm giving actually a talk on doing due diligence on the sponsor for a deal because, you know, I argue that the the deal it matters 20%, 80% of the sponsor because a good sponsor can turn around kind of a bad deal and a bad sponsor can screw up a good deal.

And I'll give you an example: we've got some RV parks in the Permian Basin and Texan oil company. Needless to say, today is not a good day in our world for the RV parks out there in the oil country.

David:

For those listening this is April 20, which is when oil prices tanked to like, shoot, I don't know like 99% for the last year,

Scott:

It's at a negative $30 a barrel. At least it was when we started

David:

And yet my oil stock still hasn't dropped below where I sold it last week. I don't…

Scott:

Hooo! we've got a run. It's now negative $26 down 243% since this morning, so we're doing better than we were when we started.

David:

When I was a recruiter, they always told me and it was what stuck with me the entire time I was a recruiter was if they like you, they'll join like forget all the other all the other recruiting stuff if they like you as a person, they trust you and they believe in you. Then they'll then they'll join. And I think...

Scott:

We have essentially ears that sign the paperwork, within minutes of getting it, there's zero, there's zero chance, which is which, which actually concerns us a little bit.

There's zero chance that they looked at any of the information. Why? Because they're like, Listen, guys, we know who we know the types of deals that you're putting out. We know your character, we know your integrity, we know your values. So we're just going to sprinkle $50,000 on every deal that comes out. So just send us the paperwork, and they just sign it and send it right back.

David:

See. Yeah, so that's what I literally wrote down if they like you, they'll join slash invest.
So, I just took the same.

Scott:

Exactly what it is. And it's what you know, if any, if anybody's on the call, that's looking to be a passive investor in deals and they don't want to do their own deals, but they, maybe they're maybe they're in retirement or whatever. And they've got money to put with another, you know, put with a sponsor on whatever they want to do it, man, like so many folks get enamored with the financials and they forget that all that's Phooey, just like ghosts math, right? Like we can make, we can make a spreadsheet dance across the screen, that doesn't mean that it's gonna be good, right?

So at the end of the day, it matters on the sponsor, because the operating environment like right now, bad sponsors are going to lose their deals because they haven't set it up correctly, or they don't know what to do, or they don't have the team or the planning wherewithal to get through a problem like this. Yeah, those RV parks that we have are in the suck right now. But one of them was bought with no debt. Zero, there's no overhead who gives a shit.

Like, I mean, it sucks. We're not going to make returns. And that's bad, but investors aren't going to lose their money, at least not today. I mean, oil stays like this for the next 10 years, we could have a problem. But you know, I mean, right now that park, I mean, we can take it down to almost nothing where there's no operating costs to it. The other one, the other ones that 50% that we can have 23% occupancy, at an 80% reduction in the rents that we had when we were running at full and we're still fine. It'll suck. It'll be miserable. But we won't lose the asset that's about don't lose the asset.

David:

I'm about to go..

Alex:

Capital.

David:

I'm about to go take myself on a trip to Vegas this weekend and ask the gas station to pay me so that I can use their gas.

50:00 - 57:39

Scott:

Yeah, exactly.

David:

Like hey, don't don't you owe me $1 50 a gallon for this?

Scott:

Yeah, I mean, it's like, this is nuts. This is absolutely crazy. We did some so we use the military decision making process inside of our company, the army version of it. And I've worked for SOCOM for a while as a DEA civilian.

So we've taught the rest of the company MDM p as it's called the army side of the house. And we use it to build courses of action for each one of our deals. And man, I tell you what, this one didn't make it, even the most dangerous like so there's the most probable and most dangerous course of action for the properties and we went pretty bad with these oil properties. When we looked at the most dangerous course of action.

What didn't come out with was a global pandemic in which people couldn't give oil away that one didn't come out..

David:

Said that just goes to justify the old adage that just because the worst risk behind you is something you can survive doesn't mean that you know necessarily what the worst risk possible is.

Scott:

Hundred percent.

David:

All right, so I got a few questions I always ask the first is if a e one e two you know, youngster was to walk up to you asking for life advice or real estate advice.
What would you tell them? Was it like your, I don't know, key to success, the fairy dust?

Scott:

Yeah, so there's a thought out there on the ready fire aim. I would tell them that that's stupid.
None of us would do that. Right. That's not what you do. But you also shouldn't be sitting there trying to focus on the target so long that your eyes get tired and your breathing is labored and then you miss your target. So you know really what I say on that is spend a little time educating yourself, go to bigger pockets, figure out what podcasts you like and then take podcasts and books and then take 90 days and educate yourself as much as you can in those 90 days and really get after it.

That's what we did when we decided to pivot to storage. We shut the company down and everybody read everything we could, we listened to podcasts, we watched YouTube videos, we did everything we could for 90 days, you'd be amazed at how much you can learn in 90 days if you really focus on it. And then at the end of the 90 days, give yourself another goal to do your first deal within 30 to 60 days after that. That's what we did. And we had our first raw land development for storage 26 days after that ended.

David:

Wow!

Alex:

Yeah, commit to education. And then I like that because I, it is a delicate balance between analysis paralysis, and hey, look, you're never going to be ready. You gotta do it sometime. So yeah, like that. 90 days hardcore, turn everything off hardcore education. There's an old thing that I like if you read three books you know more about the topic than 99% of people.

Scott:

Literally when we bought a car wash, there were three books available. That was it.
Three books, total of 226 pages, between the three books.

It didn't take very long.

David:

And both and two thirds of them were saying, hey, here's five pages, sign up for our email list.

Scott:

That's two thirds of them have pictures in it.

Perfect for you..

David:

Some guy out there.

Scott:

That's a whole adage like none of us would go to the range without going through basic rifle marksmanship first, right? Because then like you would go out there and you just waste all your ammo. You would never hit it. But you don't want to go through advanced sniper school before you get out on the range the first time either.

Alex:

Yeah, And it's time for a reason.

Scott:

Yep.

David:

Yeah, I like that actionable window. That's good!
All right, what resources book, course, website, whatever, would you recommend for anyone looking to get started in real estate?

Scott:

Yeah, so I think um, you know, I would split it up between books and podcasts, no, podcast I like the real estate radio guys is a really good one um Cathy fat keys, real estate news for real estate investing, I can never remember the titles of them Kevin Bopp has a really good one investing for cash flow, Kevin's good friend of mine is really good and then Joe fairless is is is kind of the quintessential one and and the bigger pockets one, great information there I would say that that would be you know for people just starting the bigger pockets forum is probably a good launchpad to get in there and read different forums because there's a lot of different stuff on there and listening to the podcast reading some of those books and then really just kind of determining what's the best for you.

I think before you get started on you know after the education side of the house that'll give you a kind of idea of what is right for you don't just jump into multifamily because that's what's all the rage right now. If you want to be a multifamily investor that does it. But don't be afraid to say that like, you know, that's not really for me. I want to invest in Dog Boarding companies. Okay, that's fine. There's probably people making a bunch of money on Dog Boarding kennels.

Alex:

They're still hot right now.

Scott:

Holy shit! I pay $51 a night for three like each for three dogs. Like, Oh shit! It was the first time I went there. They're like, Oh, that'll be $750 I'm like, I went for a weekend. Holy crap, that's more than I paid for me!

David:

You say they're so hot right now. You might have meant like, last month. Yeah, since everyone's sitting at home with their dog. They're probably struggling..

Alex:

I mean, in general, but they, I don't know if you're making a joke or not. But that's a real business model and it is really growing.

Scott:

Yeah. 100% but like, and that's why like, I'm doing my master's work. We did a project on doing a Dog Boarding kennel right at the airport. And there's boarding gate kennels, right by a DIA right by the airport and Denver. How's it, cut? That's it. I had that!

David:

Make sense.

Scott:

It's really about understanding who you are, what do you value? What are your What are your values? What are your skill sets that don't try to manage projects. If you're not disciplined and detail oriented, you will lose a lot of money.

But then, you know, don't don't be out there trying to sell if you don't have that personality, right? So know your strengths and weaknesses and then apply them to whatever asset class you think would be the best for you and that that will come through wording.

David:

Absolutely. And my final question is, where can people get a hold of you?

Scott:

www.Spartan-dash investors.com. or they can just email me at [email protected]

Alex:

Scott, I am so mad that we didn't hang out in Denver.

Scott:

Yes, I mean, like the best ever. We. So Ben Lapidus is my director of acquisitions and finance.

Alex:

No way!

Scott:

Yeah, he works for Spartan

Alex:

That's how I know the name, as soon as you came on it expired the best I know that name. I hung out with Ben at fin con last year. We hang out quite a bit.

David:

Is he the guy who gave you your money back if you wind it to a bunch of people?

Alex:

That's not what happened. I'm not getting through right now and no he didn’t.
Ben's good friends are good people.

David:

Oh man, Scott. Thanks for joining us today.

Scott:

No, thank you guys.

Sponsor:

Thank you for listening to another episode about my journey from military to millionaire. If you liked it, be sure to visit Frommilitarytomillionaire.com/podcast to subscribe to future podcasts. While you're there, we'd love for you to rate the show.Give us a review on iTunes. Now get out there and take action.

Scott Lewis on The Military Millionaire Podcast

Episode: 93

Scott Lewis

Join David Pere and Alexander Felice (The Military Millionaire Podcast) with Scott Lewis as he talks about storage and his approach with business. Scott shares how he initially was in residential with his partner Ryan, which began at fixing a lousy house next door, to eventually getting into commercial, owning thousands of storage units. They go into the details of how they do business, what affects their prices, and the misconceptions people have with storage. He also gives his advice on keeping your message consistent online and how one could start taking action after learning for a short time.

By the end of the episode, you will learn to work on your online presence, avoid analysis paralysis, and figure out what you want to do. Enjoy the podcast!

~

About Scott Lewis:

It all started in Washington, DC when Scott and Ryan met as neighbors. Scott’s background in the military and Ryan’s background in aviation seeded the most important fundamentals at Spartan Investment Group – conservatism, due diligence, and a checklist driven approach. SIG started in residential and quickly moved into commercial development. Using the evaluation criteria of easy to manage, easy to maintain, easy to evict, we quickly settled on self-storage. In 2017, we acquired our first self-storage project and have since acquired more than 4,000 storage units, RV Parks, and have experienced massive growth in our team and our investors.

Today, Spartan is a team of 22, spread out over 4 states with offices in Denver and Seattle, and with over 1,600 investors in our tribe totaling $25M in capital raised.

From our early days of residential development to multimillion-dollar commercial deals, at every step along the way SIG has stayed true to our values.

Our operations are institutional in their standards and our internal intelligence team provides real-time insights into market conditions giving us constant situational awareness.

We’re a team of dedicated professionals guided by our creed, driven by our mission to Improve Lives through Real Estate, and steadfastly focused on finding value add and opportunistic deals for our tribe of investors.

~

Advice to an 18-20-year old:

Educate yourself – spend 90-days learning everything you can about that subject, then take down your first deal within the next 30-60 days!

Recommended resource(s):

Books and podcasts!

You can find Scott Lewis on…

Website: https://spartan-investors.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/spartaninvestmentgroup/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SpartanInvestGp

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/spartaninvestmentgroup/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/spartanhomebuyers

Email: [email protected]

Real Estate Investing Course: https://military-millionaire-academy.teachable.com/p/from-zero-to-one-real-estate-investing-101

Recommended books and tools: https://www.frommilitarytomillionaire.com/kit/

SUBSCRIBE: https://bit.ly/2Q3EvfE

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My name is David Pere, I am an active duty Marine, and have realized that service members and the working class use the phrase “I don’t get paid enough” entirely too often. The reality is that most often our financial situation is self-inflicted. After having success with real estate investing, I started From Military to Millionaire to teach personal finance and real estate investing to service members and the working class. As a result, I have helped many of my readers increase their savings gap, and increase their chances of achieving financial freedom! – Click here to SUBSCRIBE: https://bit.ly/2Q3EvfE to the channel for more awesome videos!

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David Pere

David Pere

David is an active duty Marine, who devotes his free time to teaching personal finance and real estate investing for service members, and the working class!

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