The executive Real estate investing Show
Scaling Up Real Estate Investments Through Transferable Corporate Skills with Jenny Gou and Steven Louie
From Cubicle to Corner Office: How Two Corporate Drones Found Their “Why” And Turned It Into Multifamily Gold.
This week on The Executive Real Estate Investing Show, host Michael Holman talks with Jenny Gou and Steven Louie. They didn’t hate their jobs. She was in sales at Proctor & Gamble, he was in customer relations and training for health insurance providers. The hours were long, and they almost never saw their families, but the money good. But a few personal tragedies and life changes put everything into perspective. They started wondering why they were doing what they were doing. Soon, they separately arrived at the same conclusion. If they truly wanted to spend time with their families, the corporate world was not for them. Real Estate was—and they dived in with single family properties. Steven hooked up with an investing mentor. Jenny eventually found a mentor, too: Steven! Together, they have formed Vertical Street Ventures, and in one year have racked up nearly $90mm in multi-family investments.
Listen now as host Michael Holman gets the details about how they left their jobs behind, the types of investments they look for, and the importance of building relationships.
Start With Why
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The Executive Real Estate Investing Show Podcast
EP 27: Scaling Up Real Estate Investments Through Transferable Corporate Skills with Jenny Gou and Steven Louie
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Note: Audio transcription has been automatically transcribed
Welcome to The Executive Real Estate Investing Show. This podcast is for you, the busy business owner or executive looking to create generational wealth. Here, we’re going to show you how to do that through real estate investing from multifamily to industrial and everything in between. You will become a real estate investing expert. And now, here’s your host, Michael Holman.
Michael Holman: Hello everyone. And welcome to another episode of The Executive Real Estate Investing Show. And I’m your host as always Michael Holman we have an awesome show for you today. Jenny Gou and Steven Louie they’re with Vertical Street Partners they’re awesome. I’m going to go ahead and introduce them here in just a second.
A lot of great things and they’ve actually come from a very corporate background. I mean, they’ve worked for some of the largest companies in the world, and you’re going to hear some of those names that they’ve worked for and talk about why they got into real estate. Why they, you know, they made a transition, they made a progression that a lot of people make, right.
You get started in single family homes then you move to is the little bit, you know, some duplexes or fourplexes or things like that. Next thing you know, you’re thinking of. I’m doing really well. And I got to keep growing this, I got to go to multifamily and I got to scale and they made that jump right.
They got in his limited partners; they’ve started doing some general partner. Awesome. Super fun to walk through both of their journeys in this episode and really excited to get into. If you have not yet left us a rating or review or shared the podcast, please do. So we love hearing from you we want to get this out to as many people as possible.
So please go to whether it’s on apple podcasts, whether it’s on Spotify, no matter what it is. Go ahead, please leave us a rating. Leave us a review and share this. Episode, share this series. Also go to www.ExecutiveREIShow.com. and sign up for a newsletter. If you haven’t signed up for a newsletter, it started to snowball.
We’re trying to get a lot of people who are really excited about this newsletter. A breaks down the episode, it also goes through and gives you a blog post. It keeps you up to date on what’s happening. In real estate investing world. So go ahead, get on the website. You can also view all the past episodes.
You can leave an executive question if you want your question answered on the show. Go ahead and check it out www.ExecutiveREIShow.com. And lastly, before we get into this episode, time for the executive tip and today’s executive tip is, start with why. And you’re going to find throughout this episode, Jenny, especially talks about this all the time, and it’s so fantastic.
You need to start with what is driving you, right? Cause that is what’s going to get you through the difficulty that’s what’s going to give you, get you through the, what, the perceived failures that’s, what’s going to get you through any of those hard times. Right. It’s starting with why, and it’s also, what’s going to make you the happiest, right?
If you’re doing something that you truly honestly feel is the most important thing you could be doing, that is extremely motivating. So today’s executive tip starts with why now let’s get into this episode with Jenny and Steven. Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of The Executive Real Estate Investing Show.
I’m your host Michael Holman. We got a great show here today, we’ve got Jenny Gou and Steven Louie. They’re both with Vertical Street Ventures, really excited. This is actually one of the first times that we’ve had two guests at the same time. So I’m really excited to gain all of the insights. Really exciting.
Cause both of these people actually came from corporate America recently started Vertical Street and had just been taken off ever since. So we are going to get a great and fascinating story on how they did all of that and what it’s been like for their journey. But Jenny, Steven, welcome to the show.
Stephen Louie: Thanks for having us. Thanks, Michael.
Michael Holman: Perfect. Well, we’ll Stephen, love to start with you. Maybe just tell us a little bit about yourself and then we’ll hear from Jay.
Stephen Louie: Absolutely. No, thanks. First off, thanks Michael for having us on the show. Really appreciate it, you know, just a little bit about my background, corporate America guy, all my life recently exit Corp America, just at the end of 2020, but.
I call my journey a cubicle to corner office, right? So I started as a group underwriter on the financial side for a healthcare health plan and quickly realized that I didn’t want to sit at a desk all my life and moved over to a more business development, sales type role, working for a large organization called MetLife as highly successful as an institutional a sales rep and did that. And what did they do with all great salespeople? They promote them into leadership, could be bad depending on the first. And for me, it actually worked out extremely well. Just a just a spending and spent the last, the last part of my career in leadership and most recently left a consulting firm called Mercer where benefits consulting firm were, but I was a benefits consulting firm and focused on managing different teams on the health, wealth and people’s side of the business and so unbelievable corporate career. But about halfway through that career, I started investing in real estate, started in single family homes.
I graduated up to a multifamily and now at the it’s, it’s been great. And like I said, I was able to exit the corporate rat race because of the wonderful world of real estate.
Michael Holman: That is awesome. Well, we were going to get into that a little bit more too, but Jenny, I’d love to get your background is.
Jenny Gou: Absolutely. So I spent prior to my real estate experience, I spent 13 years as a sales direct sales director at a company called Procter and gamble managing
Michael Holman: in case anybody doesn’t know. I mean met, life’s not too small itself Stevens.
Jenny Gou: Exactly. Yeah. Well, most people, I don’t assume because some people may not know, but yeah, for, for those who don’t know, we make brands like Tide, Dawn, cascade Gillette.
Anyways, I worked there as a sales director for 13 years. Also started out investing just to diversify their portfolio started with single families. Like I’m sure many of your listeners and then graduated into multifamily. But then the rat race, February of 2020 actually before buying a single multifamily door.
And then within a year personally I was able to buy over almost a thousand doors during COVID both as an LP and a GP. But then Steve and I started Vertical Street together in January of this year. And we’re about to close on $90 billion of assets in our first year together. So we’re super excited to, to end the year and see what next year’s.
Michael Holman: That is awesome. Well, there is so many things done packed from both of those stories, but what I’d really like to start on is just, you know, you, you started off in this corporate environment and you decided to make this switch into real estate. And both of you it appears had a very successful corporate career.
And so Steven, and then Jenny, I’d love to hear both of your insights, you know, What was that transition or why did that transition come about? What, what was kind of the personal or the professional reasons to say, you know what, I’ve had a really successful career, but let’s maybe make this transition into real estate full-time
Stephen Louie: Great, great question. I think one of the things I, you know, for growing up as growing up in California, orange county, California we never really focused on real estate. My dad was an engineer, he focused a lot of his energy on just coming home, working and coming home and never investing in the stock market, investing in your 401k and really never, we never really talked about real estate.
So I didn’t know anything outside of just doing a great job at what I do from a corporate perspective. So whatever does decide whether it’s real estate or the corporate life, you really have to put a hundred percent of your effort into that. And so that’s what I did. And then by doing that about halfway through my career, some a CPA and a financial planner.
They said, you know, something that you probably should consider as real estate. There’s some great financial incentives that the government gives you to take advantage of if you invest in real estate. And so I did, and that’s kind of where I kind of got the bug or, or kind of the, I don’t know, to call it the, the golden hamster wheel and you keep going more and more and more.
And I started with the single family homes, just like. And we got one and then two, and then we got a fourplex and then another fourplex and it kept growing really, really hard to scale though. And so, and just, you know, and like a lot of us, I just happened to go to a meetup right by my house and that meetup.
Led me into hiring a coach and a mentor. And I think that that’s so important in any field, whether it’s corporate America or an entrepreneur, you need somebody else that can give you kind of that opportunity to kind of expand your mindset as well as expand your overall thought process. And that’s what that did and said.
And the coach helped me helped us invest into multimedia. And still does to this day and at that point I started to realize that the taxes relative to a W2, the more you make, the more you actually pay as opposed to, if you can incorporate real estate profession. Into your lifestyle.
And, you know, we were fortunate that my wife was able to qualify as the real estate professional, and we were able to take advantage of a lot of the tax incentives that are out there for real estate professionals and get us to a good spot, which allowed me right during COVID where everybody was kind of locked down at home.
Take a side step and figure out what was important to me in terms of my life. I mean, in the past, I would have to take time and, you know, get up at four 30, every single morning commute into downtown LA from orange county, that commute would then, you know, driving back and then I didn’t leave the office until seven, eight o’clock at night.
And so that became me trading my time for dollars in real estate. Yeah, it really can actually set some of your own criteria and parameters, which I’m really excited, which kind of after sitting down with my wife, Rebecca, what was going to be best for us moving forward. And that was to exit the corporate rat race, the proverbial corporate rat race.
Michael Holman: That is awesome. Well one thing I have to mention in there before, before we hear from Jenny on that is both coming from sales. I, I hear a lot from the sales world specifically about taxes and that’s usually it comes because, and a lot of people don’t even realize this usually because. Lot of their salary.
A lot of their earnings is in bonuses. Right? You hit certain benchmarks, you get certain bonuses. Well, when that bonus is paid, the government doesn’t care. How big or small that bonus is. They’re taking 40%. Right? I mean, I, I think it’s, I think it’s roughly 40% is where we’re at right now. And it just gets skimmed right off the top.
And it’s like, as a sales professional, you work so hard, you know, you get a hundred thousand dollars bonus at the end of the year. And all of a sudden you get your paycheck and it’s like 60,000. You’re like, where are the other 40,000 go?
Stephen Louie: Oh, in California. There’s another 10% onto that too. So you’re at that it, and then you invest in your 401k. And then what
Michael Holman: And so that’s, I hear that a lot in the professional world that for sales professionals, specifically real estate and the tax savings associated with real estate is a lot of time. Almost as much of an incentive as the potential earning power of real estate.
I mean, it’s like, yeah, cashflow is one thing, but you’re telling me that I can maybe offset some of my, you know, kid jillion dollars in taxes that I paid throughout the entire year. All right, let’s, let’s talk about that. But Jenny, well, I’d love to hear your story, right? How talk to me about that transition, what successful career, all of a sudden you decided to go into real estate? Why?
Jenny Gou: Yeah. And you’re right, cause I could talk about taxes for the next five hours. So you know, the pivotal point really was when we got laser-focused on our Y. So a good friend of mine always tells me everything happens in threes. So unfortunately life circumstances happened. I’ll tell you what they are.
My father passed away at a young age, my kids and I were in a horrific car accident. My father-in-law had lung cancer. And so we decided, you know, life is too short. We are, well, my husband and I both worked for PNG. This is where we met, but we were so stressed out at certain points with our jobs because there were so demanding.
We were, weren’t spending as much time with the kids. Weren’t seeing our parents as often as we should. So when we got laser focused on our putting our family, truly first, it became clear that we needed more passive income. And that led into investing in single family. That led to investing in multifamily.
And then now scaling to where we are to the point now where we’re both retired from the corporate world, we’re both doing this full-time. So I think the pivotal point for anybody really in their lives is when they have something happens, right. Something whether personal or business, something happened to make you stop and realize there has to be a change. And for us it was, it was family events.
Michael Holman: Oh, that’s, that’s fantastic. And you hear that story a lot. I’m sorry about hearing about all of those things, but it’s those kinds of things, right. That really change your perspective right on, on life and what’s important and how you want to live it.
Time you want to spend doing what? And so, you know, that’s, that’s something that I think a lot of people relate to. I mean, that’s a struggle that I think a lot of people in the business world have is trying to balance this. You know, I’m trying to grow a career, I’m trying to grow a business and I’m trying to spend time with, you know, with my family, with my significant other, with the people important to me.
And how do I, how do I do that and how I manage that? And so I, I really. Appreciate the perspectives that you shared with us. Absolutely. So kind of moving into this, right? A lot of people, and we’ve talked a lot about the show, right? Single families, usually where it starts, you guys are like the perfect progression.
I, if, if I had a perfect chart and timeline of exactly what, 90% of the, of investors, real estate investors, do you follow that? So I’m going to skip the kind of the single family and fourplex, but what did you start with? Did you start as a limited partner? Did you start as a general partner January? Where did you start as you got into bigger deals?
Jenny Gou: Yeah, so my timeline was this. I left corporate America in February of 2020. Obviously, the well was very dry as COVID shut everything down as we all know, but starting summer and it’s a fault, things really started to ramp up. And I hadn’t used that time wisely to learn to network, to work with Steve who was previously my mentor.
We homed in on what exactly we wanted to find and come fall, we locked down. Three deals to three deals in the, in the winter. In fact, we closed on two of them on the exact same day in December. So my very first deal actually, as a GP was a 28 unit and then I also invested in L three other LP deals in that same month from other parts of the country, just to diversify and learn those markets as well.
So the first deal was 20 actively to now 252 doors a year, a year later, I’m on a CPL. So it shows how fast you can scale in this area.
Michael Holman: That’s awesome, how about you, Steven? Did you, did you start as a limited partner and then kind of think, Hey, it’s time to move to degenerate partnership, you know, that’s kind of where I’m at or, or how did that limit a partner general partner?
Do you do them at the same time? What, what was, what was the transition or the reasoning behind that?
Stephen Louie: Yeah, very much a progression too. So I you know, I signed up with. One of those apartment investing coaches and they really helped level set and give a foundation of what you need to do to be successful.
And some of the it’s all the things that Jenny just described. You know, I started by investing in a passive investments, just as a limited part. And then quickly in order to get to a general partner, you need to have some what they call key principle responsibilities, whether you’re signing on alone, you’re taking on some additional responsibility and in addition, maybe raising money.
Right. And so one of those things in that, so I did, I signed on like three different loans. They used some of my net worth and my, my network to help raise some additional dollars and sign on Fannie and Freddie agency loans, which is a real game changer, I would say. Cause once you have kind of that gold card, so to speak of the agency gold card, it really takes you to that next level.
And you know, spend about a year, honestly, building up as an NLP. And in the Texas marketplace. And then what it was, is it a little bit further distance from Southern California? And so I decided to take everything I learned and apply it to the Arizona marketplace. And then boom, you show up at the, at the broker’s doorsteps, the great thing.
Very synonymous with what I did on the, from a corporate America standpoint. Right. So I was on the insurance and consulting side. You’re meeting with a lot of different vendors. You’re visiting a lot of different people that want to connect with you. It’s kind of in the reverse. Now I’m now meeting with you know, the brokers that are out there and then kind of treating them fairly how I, maybe wasn’t treated as well before.
So, you know, you learn some of those things. Sure enough, you come to the table well-prepared so you come to the table with a real estate resume that has all of your multi-family portfolio that you’ve been building for a whole year. Some of its key principle, some of his limited partnerships, and you sit down with them and they’re like, wow, this person actually knows what they’re talking about.
But that was also a 28 unit, coincidentally, that the same one that similar to the one Jenny’s closed. And then after that we did a full cash out well, we took that one to the next level and they gave us another off-market deal. And then now we have four or five deals with one of the largest brokers in, in in Phoenix, Arizona.
So that’s the kind of the neat thing that becomes a bit. And then the, the ability to take all the skillsets we’ve learned in corporate America, applying that from the sales to operations standpoint, to just managing project management really helped us deliver on all our investment too. So a lot of our first ones were a little bit more heavier.
Where we obviously improve the, the NOI on it and we’re able to do some, some pretty good cash out refinances that got all the money back to our investors. You know, in some of our initial deals have gone full circle across the board on a lot of them. So
Michael Holman: Well, that’s kind of one of the next things I actually wanted to ask both of you about.
And so Steven, we’ll start with you what do you feel like are the skillsets that you learned in corporate America that, that transitioned over to real estate investing and being a general partner and finding deals? What skills do you feel like transferred over and what skills do you feel like you’ve had to learn? Since becoming a general partner in real estate?
Stephen Louie: You know, in terms of skill sets you know, one of the things I started as a pretty technical individual, right? So I think in real estate, you do have to have some technical knowledge about what is going on. You have to have the ability to underwrite and see, and know how numbers work.
And then the other thing is what I always say, everybody out there can potentially underwrite, but it’s building relationships. And so one of the key things being a sales professional being in leadership yet you have to know how to build close relationships with individuals. And I think that’s the game changer that sets individuals apart.
And it doesn’t come over time. I mean, he asked even Jenny or myself, we actually started probably as introverts. So if I look back on my life and how all the personality tests are actually kind of a dictated. It, it shows me as probably leaning more towards the introverted side. And, but what sales and the sales process and being a top sales professional does for you.
It brings a lot of that relationship building opportunities out, out there. So I would say for me, those are the kind of top two things, strong technical backup. Coupled with sales, you’re pretty much unstoppable.
Michael Holman: That’s awesome I love it. And, and the relationships, I mean, I cannot talk enough about relationships.
Someone asked me on a podcast that I was on just a little while ago, you know, what are like the three pieces of advice you would give to new investors. And I literally sat there and said, relationships, relationships and relationships. That’s I mean, that’s, what’s going to take you from point a to point B no matter where you’re at.
So I love that you talk about that. And I agreed relationship building is a skill. I think a lot of people look at it and they view it as, oh, either you’re just a people person, or you’re not a people person. And it’s like, some people are just natural and some people aren’t and I’m not. And so I’m never going to get there, I’m with you. Building relationships is an actual skillset that you can learn.
Stephen Louie: Well, some people call it like when they go into rooms and say, oh, we’re just going to be networking. So networking is a lot different than relationship building, right? So I will spend the extra quality time.
And if it’s 15, if it’s 20, if it’s another hour with that individual and what that does, it does build additional trust. And when people trust you, you know, they will want to do business with you.
Michael Holman: Exactly. All right, Jenny, what are those skillsets for you? Right? What do you feel like transferred really well into this new role?
Or, or what did you have to learn once you got to this new role as a general partner?
Jenny Gou: Yeah. And I agree with everything that Steve just mentioned, all those skillsets. The one thing I would add would be being a problem solver. Right. So you got to be solutions focused really in any industry, but carrying that over because in real estate, you’re working with so many different partners, your investors, your broker, your property manager, your insurance agent, everything that comes your way will probably be some sort of problem.
So how do you stay focused on a solution, but make it so that it is a win-win situation because. It is based on relationships, right? You never know who you’re going to run across in the future. And I’ll give you an example. Right now, we are working on closing on a property and there are some major issues that has come up and out of our control on the buying side.
But one, you can either get upset. And throw a tantrum and, you know, and then be difficult to work with, right. Or you can focus on the solution, keep your relationship strong and to the point where the seller and I are talking, we’re like, wow, how do we do more deals in the future? Right. So saying focused on solutions and having the right attitude is super important.
What I’ve learned, you know, I would say a lot of the skills have transferred this industry. Isn’t rocket science by any means. So really what you should do the first, you know, on your learning plan is really learn the vernacular, the term. Get super strong on all of those definitions so that you can talk intelligently with the right people.
So that’s probably just to accelerate anyone who’s learning this industry starting out is just make sure you understand the fundamentals.
Michael Holman:. Now you guys have grown a lot in a, in a really short period of time. I’d love to hear, you know, what do you, what fueled that growth?
In each of your opinions, Jenny, what do you feel like fueled the growth for you for the meteoric rise?
Jenny Gou: You know, we’d laugh about this this entire year. So we, you know, our goal this year as a year one for this company was to close on 25 million in assets and we’re rounding 90 million, which is really amazing.
And every quarter we keep saying, I think we’re going to pause now. Right? We’re going to pause and then another deal. So I think to answer your question, what has driven this acceleration really? It’s just because we are so passionate about this industry. In our sales jobs, for example, you hit your quota, you are done for the year because that is your, that is your base for the following year, right?
You don’t want to make it higher. We are just, we just love what we do so much that we just want to keep going. It is not a job for us, we love talking to our investors, impacting their lives, to get them on the right financial trap. For them to retire whenever they want. We love improving the properties that we take over and making it a better place.
And we love our team that we’ve set up. So why would we slow down? But we want to, we want to go even further, faster,
Michael Holman: you know, love it. Steven, what do you feel like is the fuel the fire to.
Stephen Louie: You know, you, one of the great things that corporate America does teach taught us is really a lot of structure and a lot of process.
And that’s one thing that I’d say Jenny is awesome about she’s I didn’t mention that, but she’s great at executing on one. She’s great at putting out visions and then also executing on them as well. And so that’s the key thing. And so I would say you know, we as a group, we meet a lot of face-to-face at least once a month here.
We’re on weekly meetings, just updating. And these are things that you learned from corporate America, right, right. Out of a corporate America sales book and that’s what we have. Meetings every single Monday and we walked through that for an hour and a half, just to make sure everybody’s on par and everybody is knowing exactly what they have to do.
And what are those deliverables and something that Jenny does extremely well is keeps us accountable. So we make sure we do that just coming from that, the background of responsibilities, a lot of it, it all does start with the sale, right? So if you don’t have a sale, you don’t have a lot of the other things.
And so we have to be consistently in there. It’s kind of in our blood to constantly be thinking about that. And it’s seeding that in, like Jenny said in corporate America, once you hit your sales goal, you stop or you sandbag and you wait for the next year. Right. So
Michael Holman: if anybody’s listening from Procter and gamble, any, any sales executives, Jenny
Sandbags just stopped. We have it on record, she said stop. So no sandbagging here.
Stephen Louie: And so I just saw other people sandbagging for the next year, but reality is that’s what really truly happens in corporate America. So it does stifle and people take half the year off and go, go. That’s why you see a lot of sales professionals that are excellent in golf, because they’ve done such a good job of building their network and getting to that point.
And then the rest is there. Who knows that this stuff may get edited out as well. Right. So I just know but no, honestly, it’s the structure, it’s the discipline. It’s getting up every single day. So I get, we get up early, we exercise, we do the right things and then we know that we can shut it off as well.
Just routine repetition, those types of things help us to be super successful as we kind of, kind of pushed towards that. And then what happens? You blow through those goals. And then because of those relationships that we built, that we talked about earlier, they just keep coming to us and saying, Hey, I have another opportunity.
Is there an opportunity for us to work together? And we can actually close them. We have another off-market do you guys want this one so that we can take that on? And we just have to take it like we always have taken take. Every Monday, do we have enough capacity to raise another eight to $10 million? And the answer has typically right now been absolutely.
Michael Holman: So fantastic. Love it. Well, I’d love to kind of make a transition to getting into some of the real estate, right. You guys are, are investing in real estate you’re buying real estate. So let’s start with what assets, right? What assets are you focused on?
What assets do you like? It, maybe even as a general partner and a limited partner, Steven, what assets are you looking at and are you focused on right now?
Stephen Louie: So, what we do is focus all on multi-family apartment investing. And that, that, that, that is it. We typically like to go for the B and C property where there’s a value add opportunity to that.
And so what I mean by value add is where you can potentially add in washers and dryers, you can improve the quality of the neighborhood and then thereby increasing rents and making it a better place for individuals to stay at the same time, increase in the NOI. And so where we can do this where it feels good from, from the heart that you can help people out and, and provide jobs and opportunities for individuals to work on the property at the same time drive that and drive that up, you know, from a criteria standpoint, Jenny, you want to talk a little bit about criteria that we look at?
Jenny Gou: Yeah. So yeah, like, like she mentioned B minus B plus properties we love. So like where we can a good mix of ones, twos, even three bedrooms. We don’t want to be heavily too heavily reliant on one type of a floor plan. We, so we’re not afraid nor shy away from, but we do prefer properties that have individual HVACs and individual water heaters individually, metered that just lends itself to a better property in general.
But again, we don’t typically. But we aren’t necessarily afraid of other properties that do have a boiler or chiller. So those are predominantly the ones we love properties that have been, for example, owned by the same owner for 20 plus years, which just equates to a lot of upside in terms of deferred maintenance and upside and rent.
Right. So those are the ones we call gents, which we’ve actually taken over a few times, which have yielded great results for us. So in general, those are great from a location standpoint, everyone says, you know location. Yes, absolutely but if you actually really need to double click down into the sub-market down to the block, because one street over makes a huge difference in income and your type of residence. So that’s just a high level of a couple of things we really hone in.
Michael Holman: That’s fantastic. Well, I want to dig into the location. So Jenny, where are you guys looking right now in general? Give me a high level and then I want to know the criteria. What is it that you, Jenny and Steven are looking for when you’re buying a multifamily property, but let’s start high level.
Jenny Gou: Yes, absolutely. So we focus predominantly in Arizona and we’re expanding into Texas. And then in Arizona we actually have properties all over the MSA. So Phoenix, Glendale, Mesa we have a handful in Tucson as well. And when we look, we, again, we look for the properties that everything I just checked off.
And then we actually rely a ton on our property management to that, that with us. So, because they know the area even better than we do. So if they say literally Jenny, this one, I don’t think you should put an offer on it because of XYZ reasons will, will most likely, often than not follow their advice down to the street, down to the neighborhood.
So it’s super important again, that you build a strong relationship with that, that a property management company.
Michael Holman: Steven, anything you want to add location? If you’re, if you, you know, you’re looking at the Phoenix MSA, there’s a lot people on this show probably know and understand right now that, you know, I love Arizona Maricopa county.
It’s my home away from home. And so Steven, when you’re looking and you’re saying, how do you, how do you differentiate between, you know, Mesa versus Goodyear or something like that? What are you looking at? Is there metrics, is there a, is there a specific thing that you driving your focus to an area more than anything?
Stephen Louie: You know, a lot of it has to do with the submarket too. Right? So you could the sub mark is, is crucial. So there’s a lot of resources out there that we use and household income is important. So just a city-data.com gives you just general demographics and it breaks it down to every little zip code.
And what that does is you could be, have one property that’s on one side of the zip code. And the other part is the zip code, but there’s a big change that’s happening in there. And so the key thing is tap into the resources that are there. The brokers know so much about that, just those areas. And then you can fact check all of that with the, the brokers and, or the lenders.
You know, some lenders won’t lend, you know, west of the 17, if it’s west of the 17, they will not lend their slightly west of it and some will. And so it just depends on what your temperature is across the board. So I would say, like you said, all America. And then as you drill it down to the zip code, you find out what that average household income is.
And if it’s enough to support the rents that are appropriate for you, then I say, take, take a chance and go after it. Let’s take a look at our first opportunity that I ever did in, in Arizona. A lot of people said, why in the world would you go onto that street? Now I look at that street just two years later.
The Dem everything has changed across the board. We, everybody should have just bought the, we should have bought the whole entire street, the African, I had the opportunity to do that, but you get kind of nervous. Cause if you looked at all the data, the data says the income is too low, yet everything has shifted.
And so I think sometimes there’s just waves that kind of come through. And a lot of it has to come with some intuition, knowing the marketplace, knowing that you can trust and rely on your brokers to give you the. They’re salespeople out there too, they have quotas. They need to meet those and so you, you know, you got to kind of weed in between what is true and what is not oh yeah.
You’ll hear one day oh yeah. It only has a boiler, It’s actually going to be fine and you’ll be able to push her in. You know, or this one has a no deferred maintenance yet. There’s quite a bit of different things. I think one of the key things wherever, the area that you do decide on is you know, have to do the due diligence.
And, you know, from a due diligence standpoint, we do a really solid job around some of that and happy to get into some of those details as well.
Michael Holman: Now, I have loved the conversation. I love drilling down into the location and the reasoning, why the asset, everything like that. I mean this is you you’re speaking my language right now.
Both I family, right? We’re I’m we’re development. Everybody knows we do development. That’s our thing, but multifamily, Arizona. We’re all about that, so that is, that is fantastic. And I love you here, and I love hearing you say some of the markets that you’re in. Cause those are very, very good markets.
And so anybody who’s listening, the things that you’re hearing from Jenny and Steven, I mean, one of the things that I get asked constantly, well, where should I. Right. And, and the answer is, well, there’s a lot of different places to invest. Right. And some people choose to get really analytical. Some people choose to go completely off of intuition, but Steven and Jenny have given us some great advice.
Right. And one of the best pieces of advice, I think they’ve given us. Hey, listen to the people who are around you and who know you don’t have to make the decision alone. Right? You can rely not only on yourself and the data that you receive, but you can also rely on like for example, I do a feasibility say I always get feasibility studies.
I have two for my developments. Right. I rely on a feasibility study to help me or property managers or broker, right? And as you start gathering all of these different sources, all these different information’s about locations, all of a sudden pictures can start to become clear, right? Cause it’s not just a one-off thing with, you’re talking to one person who’s talking about one street, right?
If you have three or four collective conversations with people about a specific area chances are, they’re all going to feel similar or not similar about, about that area. And about that situation, you got four out of four. They’re like this is a home run slam dunk. Absolutely do it, you can go in feeling a little more confident about your decision, especially when you’re just getting started.
And that’s why a lot of people start off as LPs, even right, as limited partners is because then they don’t have to necessarily choose the location. They can rely on a full-time sponsor who is looking at the market day in and day out to choose those locations for them. So, great stuff. We got two final questions for each of you is we kind of wrap this up. All right, Jenny, we want to hear what is the best business advice you were ever given?
Jenny Gou: So I would say in any career of mine, not just real estate, I was always told to find a good mentor. And the reason I say that and what I found had a hundred percent to be true is that you can absolutely do plan to do yourself. Could I have done what I’ve done in the last year and acquired, you know, almost 1600 doors and in 18 months? Without a mentor though, without Steve, who was my first mentor in this business, it probably would have taken me twice as much. Right, but having a mentor that has the same values, the same interest as you do, will only help you accelerate that journey so much more.
And so find the right person to help guide you and add value to them. The you know, a time sucker and a drain, but add strong value to them as well. And that can only be a win-win situation. So found myself mentors, multiple mentors at P and G, and found myself multiple mentors in real estate as well.
Michael Holman: journey. Fantastic. Well, and Jenny, what real estate investing advice would you give other business owners or business? Exactly.
Jenny Gou: So I would say find your why I touched on this earlier. Okay. And, and the reason why that’s so important is because without a strong vision for yourself and your family, you’re not going to be very clear on why you’re doing what you’re doing.
You’re just going to stay in this corporate rat race. And you know what maybe some of your listeners do love their current job do enjoy what they’re doing. And that is awesome. But what if you could plan for generational wealth for your kids and their kids, your grandkids, what if you could you know, offset some of those taxes that you’ve worked so hard to, you know, your income you’ve worked so hard to generate, so find your, your why, and then get clear on how you get there. And if it’s real estate like, like we are doing, just make it happen, take that first step. And then it’ll just snowball.
Michael Holman: You know, I feel like we’re going to have to put in the show notes somewhere, a link to start with Y the book so that everybody can go take what Jenny’s saying and, and read it and put it to practice because it is a fantastic concept that I completely agree with. Thank you, Jenny. All right, Steven, what is the best business advice you were ever given?
Stephen Louie: Yeah, as, as, as, as climbing up the corporate ladder and actually a tie ties back when I was. Sales exactly and had met life. And one of the things that one of my mentors actually mentioned it to me is. Nothing bad ever happens when you’re in front of your clients.
And so, and then the clients in that could be customers. And if you’re in front of, and that that’s your brokers, that’s your lenders. And if you’re in front of them and you’re top of mind not annoying them, but it top of. Great things are going to happen. And we definitely see that. So we, I just kind of always think about that.
Every single time I’m out in market and sometimes it’s draining, it is sometimes tiring. Right. But always every time we’re whether it’s on zoom, whether it’s on the phone. Jenny and I can see great things happening every single time. We have a conversation with somebody. And so I’d say take that time and build that relationship with people.
And that, that, that’s a pretty good, some, some good advice that was given down to me that I’d love to pass to all your listeners as well.
Michael Holman: And it’s time consuming like you have, that is something that you have to be willing to spend the time to do. I mean, I remember it just, the other day we just hired a new employee.
We went and we were meeting with, with potential lenders and the meeting took, I think an hour and 45. And, and one of my new employees was kind of like, ah, man, this is, I got a lot to do. Like I can’t spend an hour and 45 minutes meeting with potential people. And I had to kind of take them aside and say, look, here’s the thing that you have to understand about real estate, especially real estate.
It’s a little old school and it is a relationship business. And one good relationship can accelerate you, you know, faster than spending an infinite amount of time. Working on whatever you’re working on by yourself. Right. And you have to understand that those relationships are. Important. And it was kind of like the light bulb went on.
Right. That’s why we spend an hour and 45 minutes talking with potential lenders, because that is building that relationship that you need to have in this business, especially. All right. See what real estate investing advice would you give other business owners and business? Exactly.
Stephen Louie: Yeah. It all starts with education, right. Especially in real estate. So I think you just mentioned it. You have a firm foundation around education and you understand how, how real estate works and some of the details and real estate is wide open. So there’s so many different angles that you can talk about. They really focus in and hone in on what’s important, whether it’s development or whether it’s a rehabbing existing multifamily.
You kind of focus on that niche and it is completely different, right? So if we had a conversation, we could talk about it, but I don’t know that much about development. And and likewise, a lot of people don’t know that much about buying existing apartments. They think it’s impossible. So I’d say, create and surround yourself around the individuals that can help you as Tony Robbins always says.
Success leaves clues. So you might as well circle yourself around those people that have done it before and educate yourself with some type of program and it can get you to that next. Love
Michael Holman: it. Well, Jenny, we’re going to let you take us home. How can people reach you?
Jenny Gou: Sure you guys can find us on our website. It’s www.verticalstreetventures.com and we are all, all the social media handles Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, et cetera. So you can find us there, set up time with us, Steve and I, hopefully you guys can see, we’re passionate about talking about real estate. So set up time with us. We’ll love to chat and connect with.
Michael Holman: Fantastic. And we will make sure that all of those social media handles. The website, everything gets up in the show notes. So don’t worry if you didn’t catch that. Or if you’re watching the YouTube, you’ll see, they have their email and a phone number right on. So if you’re listening and you’re saying, Hey, I got to call Jenny, or I got to call Steve.
Get off your iPhone or your go get on the computer. I guess you can do it from both. And what am I living 10 years ago? Get off your podcast app, move to YouTube, watch it. Scroll to the end. You can see they have their phone number, their emails right on there. Jenny, Steven. It was a pleasure. Thanks for coming on today.
Jenny Gou: Thanks for having appreciate it.
Thank you for listening to The Executive Real Estate Investing Show. Ready to learn more? Go to ExecutiveREIShow.com for more episodes and resources to help you create generational wealth through real estate investing. That’s ExecutiveREIShow.com.