An interview with Vince Gethings of Villanautics
Vince Gethings has been actively serving in the U.S. Air Force for 12 years. He started real estate investing in September of 2016 and has already grown his portfolio to 19 rental units!
Questions and Answers
1. What motivated you to take action, and invest in real estate?
I wanted to take control of my financial destiny so to speak. I used to be an active stock investor and I wasn’t half bad. However, after a few years and living through a couple Wall Street scandals, I realized that no matter how much control I think I am in, I really have little control over the performance of my portfolio.
The last straw was when I invested a few grand into this one company. Their past financials were good and projections looked great. After a few quarters, something didn’t seem right; by the time the public figured out that the CEO and CFO were submitting false financials, the stock price plummeted to near zero.
Right around this time, I read Rich Dad Poor Dad and a fire was started in me. Over the next few months, I liquidated all of my brokerage accounts and dove head first into real estate, and have never looked back.
2. If an E-1/E-2 walked up to ask for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give them your best tip, what would it be?
Understand and internalize the concept of opportunity cost. That is, every decision you make with your money you are giving up (forever) countless other choices to use those funds. Every time you make a purchase you should be thinking if this purchase is the wisest and best use of these hard-earned dollars.
For most people, young or old, it doesn’t even cross their mind how much frivolous or impulse purchases are really costing them. For example, someone that mindlessly orders $100 of stuff off Amazon every month, might not realize that if they invested that same $100 for 5 years earning 10% will net them over $8,000. That $8,000 is the opportunity cost of your impulse buying.
This also goes for big savers as well. I know people with 2 years of living expenses sitting in cash in their savings account. While that may be comforting to them, they are forgoing tens of thousands of dollars by not investing that cash and making it work for them; not to mention that cash is actually losing 2-3% of its value every year due to inflation.
Evaluate the opportunity cost of every financial decision you make, and try to make shrewd choices, your future self will thank you.
3. What is one thing you wish the military had taught you about real estate investing/finances early in your career?
That the TSP is not the only investment on earth. I remember for my first 1-3 years in, that would be the only investment vehicle anyone talked or briefed about. I wish I had more people teaching me things like house-hacking my VA loan. But, I was taught to blindly contribute 10-15% of my base pay into a life-cycle fund and call it a day.
I will say that the military has come leaps and bounds in terms of offering financial literacy tools from when I first came in. Many courses and counselors are available now to help members get out of debt, buy cars, buy houses, create budgets, etc., but it’s up to the front-line supervisors to encourage their people to go take advantage of these opportunities.
4. What makes the Vince Gethings method of investing in real estate unique, and/or successful?
I invest in small-medium sized multifamily apartments located in Mid-Michigan. My situation is unique in that I live 4,000 miles away from my properties. Therefore, I must look for creative ways to solve problems and I find great satisfaction in being able to string together seemingly complex transactions.
I am “successful” because I built a solid team on the ground in Michigan and have systems in place to handle almost any occurrence. Without my team, I would be stressed out a lot more and most likely bankrupt by now. My advice here would be that if you plan on investing out of state, build your team (manager, agent, lender, contractor, handyman, etc.) before you purchase your first property. The last thing you want to deal with is an eviction or a plumbing emergency from thousands of miles away with no one trustworthy to call.
5. What is one resource (book, course, website, etc.) that you would recommend to anybody getting started in real estate investing?
One book would be The Book on Rental Property Investing by Brandon Turner. I’ve read dozens of real estate books over the last few years, and this is still the best one yet. Not a lot of fluff, and countless actionable tips and ideas that will shorten your learning curve and save you from making some very costly mistakes.
Vince Gethings and I met in 2017 at a BiggerPockets Pro real estate meetup in Hawaii. Since that time we have networked at several local events, and our families have become friends. Vince Gethings is a genuine, smart-working Airman, that operates his real estate business with great efficiency!
#1: Opportunity Cost – Think about what you spend in terms of its future value!
#2: The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) while good, is not the only investment you should know about!
#3: In order to invest in real estate…you MUST have a solid team in place!
Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule brother!
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Nice article, thanks for sharing. Vince is a smart dude!
Agreed! Vince has some great systems in place, and is going to become one of those “overnight success” types!