The Kurtz Family: A Real Estate Investor Success Story
As important as real estate education is, books, how-to videos, and audio podcasts are only part of the equation. In order to be truly successful, you need to learn from the success from others and accelerate your level of experience. One of my favorite quotes, that captures this age old wisdom is as follows:
“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” – Sir Isaac Newton
Oh yes, I’ve used this quote a couple of times before. The advice is just too good to ignore. No matter how educated you are on the fundamentals, you need experience and real world examples. You can get it yourself or you can take lessons learned and save yourself years of time. In these modern times, you can Google literally anything and find information on it. Why not learn from people who have actually done what you are seeking to accomplish?
Meet Brenda Kurtz
Financial independence. More free time. Freedom from the 9 to 5.These are the benefits all of us hope to reap using real estate investing. Investors like Brenda Kurtz and her husband Todd are well on their way to achieving all of these in just a few short years. Brenda’s story is an inspiration for all real estate investors just starting out. It’s never too late to start investing in real estate and it takes less time than you think to start seeing solid gains. Hard work and sound investing paid off quickly for Brenda and Todd and it can do the same for you too.
Brenda and her husband originally decided that it would take about 20 rental units (10 duplexes) to provide the income needed for one of them to retire. They specifically purchased properties that would yield long-term tenants and immediately-filled vacancies. They’ve achieved the 10 property goal which allowed Brenda to retire from the corporate world.
Read about Brenda’s real estate investor success story. Our interview with her starts now!
1. What got you into real estate investing originally?
” My father started buying rental properties in his early 40s, and was able to retire from the corporate world by age 50. He still worked as a property manager of his own properties, but he was his own boss and had a clear path to real retirement. He didn’t buy a lot of properties; just enough to provide a good long-term safety net and immediate cash flow for a simple lifestyle. He was a very smart investor and would extensively research and pencil out a dozen different scenarios before buying a property. I used to tease him about that. But honestly, I always admired that about him: that he didn’t just buy whatever came on the market, but rather, he thoroughly evaluated each opportunity as it pertained to HIS goals.
“I was 40 years old when my dad died from cancer. When his health began to fail, he sat me down and walked through his investment research process, his leveraging strategies, and tips for managing tenants and building relationships with banks. For many years, he had been watching me get wrapped up in my corporate job, working long hours, traveling, and feeling guilty about short-changing my husband and kids. He had experienced the same stress when his own kids were young. I know that he wanted better for me. But at the time, I just listened to his lectures, took notes, and thought, ‘This is so beyond my comfort zone; I will never be able to follow in his footsteps.’ After his estate was closed and we were left with some inheritance money, I had this nagging feeling that we should be making a down payment on an investment property – doing what he was encouraging us to do, and best honoring his memory. But with young kids and full-time jobs, my husband and I just weren’t ready. The money went into a savings account earning a ridiculously low interest rate.
“Flash forward four years. Becoming increasingly stressed at our jobs and longing for a ‘Plan B’ that would support early retirement for one of us, we decided to test the waters of real estate investing. We connected with our Realtor and began looking at market listings. Within two months, we closed on two properties and by year-end, we had acquired two more. We had officially caught the real estate investing bug!”
[su_animate type=”rotateIn” duration=”1″][contentblock id=subscribe][/su_animate]
2. How long have you been a real estate investor?
” Since summer 2011, so four years now, [which is] not long by investment standards. We still have room to grow and much to learn, and our interest payments still far outweigh our principal contributions; however, we’ve been at it long enough to have reaped some unanticipated benefits, and also long enough to have a significant list of ‘lessons learned.'”
3. What benefits have you seen with your own real estate investing business?
“The obvious and immediate benefit comes in the form of additional income and cash flow, of course. Other financial upsides include the tax benefit of using depreciation to offset annual income, and the ability to hedge inflation with a low-risk investment. Then there are the intangible benefits: meeting new people, the opportunity to be a great landlord, a sense of ownership and accomplishment, and most important to our family – the sense of financial security. After 3 1/2 years in real estate investment and property management, we were in a position for one of us to leave our corporate jobs. I was able to semi-retire at age 48. In another 10-15 years, my husband should be able to retire around age 55. By the time we’re in our 60’s we will hire a property management company, and retire for real! Then we will just kick back and reap the benefits of our long-term investments.”
4. Are there any blogs, websites or resources you use on a regular basis?
“We highly recommend joining your local landlord association, attending meetings, and subscribing to all communications. This is how we have kept up on local issues and current events that impact our state or specifically, our city.
“Our browser bookmarks include the county GIS portal and our city assessor’s page. We use these often in evaluating properties (property history, ownership, valuation, taxation, flood plain, nearby property owners who may want to sell, etc.) And of course, we are on our Realtor’s auto-generated MLS messages for newly-listed properties that fit our parameters.
“Our bookkeeping system is Quicken Rental Property Manager because it is the only software we found that combines personal, business, and rental accounts, assets, debts, contacts into one system. (This software is extremely frustrating though, as Intuit has no competition in this space.)
“A reliable system for evaluating investment opportunities is a MUST. To-date, we have used an Excel spreadsheet that was given to us by a friend before we started investing. We plug in a few numbers and conditional formatting provides an at-a-glance look at where the investment falls within our established measures. I’m sure there are dozens of other spreadsheets or tools out there. Whichever one you use, just make sure it contains the metrics that are important to you. [We] can’t wait to see the AssetRover app!
“Early on, we read several books (Property Management for Dummies, Real Estate Investing/Taxes, etc.), and my husband subscribed to handyman magazine. Now we just Google topics as they come up and, of course, we follow AssetRover for investing tips and new ideas!”
Author: Robert S. Griswold
Discover how to be a landlord with ease: Thinking about becoming a landlord? This book gives you proven strategies for establishing and maintaining rental properties, whether a single family or multi-resident unit. Property Management for Dummies helps you maintain your sense of humor – and your sanity – as you deal with these challenges and more.