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But, as it is, there's only me. I'm tired of being looked at all the time. I want to be by myself for a change. Something that would make some kind of difference in the world.
It'd be nice to have a new name, to start with, one that's not all worn out from being called so much.
And I might even decide to have a pet. Maybe a big old toad, like you, that I could keep in a nice cage with lots of grass, and. It gave a heave of muscles and plopped its heavy mudball of a body a few inches farther away from her.
Why should you have to be cooped up in a cage, too? It'd be better if I could be like you, out in the open and making up my own mind.
Do you know they've hardly ever let me out of this yard all by myself? I'll never be able to do anything important if I stay in here like this. I expect I'd better run away. Maybe even first thing in the morning, while everyone's still asleep. The toad, as if it saw that their interview was over, stirred again, bunched up, and bounced itself clumsily off toward the wood.
Winnie watched it go. Just wait till morning. Winnie was once again in the yard, this time intent on catching fireflies, and at first she didn't notice him. But, after a few moments of watching her, he called out, "Good evening! His long chin faded off into a thin, apologetic beard, but his suit was a jaunty yellow that seemed to glow a little in the fading light.
A black hat dangled from one hand, and as Winnie came toward him, he passed the other through his dry, gray hair, settling it smoothly. I used to do it myself when I was your age. But of course that was a long, long time ago.
His tall body moved continuously; a foot tapped, a shoulder twitched. And it moved in angles, rather jerkily. But at the same time he had a kind of grace, like a well-handled marionette.
Indeed, he seemed almost to hang suspended there in the twilight. But Winnie, though she was half charmed, was suddenly reminded of the stiff black ribbons they had hung on the door of the cottage for her grandfather's funeral.
She frowned and looked at the man more closely. But his smile seemed perfectly all right, quite agreeable and friendly. In a bit," said the man. Have you and your family lived here long?
It was not a question, but Winnie decided to explain anyway. My grandmother was born here. She says this was all trees once, just one big forest everywhere around, but it's mostly all cut down now. Except for the wood. You could ask him. Who are you talking to out there? She picked up her skirts and came down the path to the gate. His yellow suit seemed to surprise her, and she squinted suspiciously. Who are you looking for?
Instead, he said, "This young lady tells me you've lived here for a long time, so I thought you would probably know everyone who comes and goes. And I don't stand outside in the dark discussing such a thing with strangers. For, through the twilight sounds of crickets and sighing trees, a faint, surprising wisp of music came floating to them, and all three turned toward it, toward the wood.
It was a tinkling little melody, and in a few moments it stopped. That's the elf music I told you about. Why, it's been ages since I heard it last. And this is the first time you've ever heard it, isn't it?
Wait till we tell your father! He had stiffened, and his voice was eager. This time it tinkled its way faintly through the little melody three times before it faded. And then she said to the man at the gate, "You'll have to excuse us now.
But the man in the yellow suit stood tapping his foot in the road for a long time all alone, looking at the wood. The last stains of sunset had melted away, and the twilight died, too, as he stood there, though its remnants clung reluctantly to everything that was pale in color—pebbles, the dusty road, the figure of the man himself—turning them blue and blurry.
Then the moon rose. The man came to himself and sighed. His expression was one of intense satisfaction. He put on his hat, and in the moonlight his long fingers were graceful and very white.
Then he turned and disappeared down the shadowy road, and as he went he whistled, very softly, the tinkling little melody from the wood. The sun was only just opening its own eye on the eastern horizon and the cottage was full of silence.
But she realized that sometime during the night she had made up her mind: It was one thing to talk about being by yourself, doing important things, but quite another when the opportunity arose.
The characters in the stories she read always seemed to go off without a thought or care, but in real life—well, the world was a dangerous place. People were always telling her so. And she would not be able to manage without protection. They were always telling her that, too.
No one ever said precisely what it was that she would not be able to manage. But she did not need to ask. Her own imagination supplied the horrors. Still, it was galling, this having to admit she was afraid. And when she remembered the toad, she felt even more disheartened. What if the toad should be out by the fence again today?
What if he should laugh at her secretly and think she was a coward? Well, anyway, she could at least slip out, right now, she decided, and go into the wood. To see if she could discover what had really made the music the night before. That would be something, anyway. She did not allow herself to consider the idea that making a difference in the world might require a bolder venture. She merely told herself consolingly, "Of course, while I'm in the wood, if I decide never to come back, well then, that will be that.
It was another heavy morning, already hot and breathless, but in the wood the air was cooler and smelled agreeably damp. Winnie had been no more than two slow minutes walking timidly under the interlacing branches when she wondered why she had never come here before. For the wood was full of light, entirely different from the light she was used to.
It was green and amber and alive, quivering in splotches on the padded ground, fanning into sturdy stripes between the tree trunks. There were little flowers she did not recognize, white and palest blue; and endless, tangled vines; and here and there a fallen log, half rotted but soft with patches of sweet green-velvet moss. And there were creatures everywhere. The air fairly hummed with their daybreak activity: There was even, she saw with satisfaction, the toad. It was squatting on a low stump and she might not have noticed it, for it looked more like a mushroom than a living creature sitting there.
As she came abreast of it, however, it blinked, and the movement gave it away. Or perhaps it was only swallowing a fly. But then it nudged itself off the edge of the stump and vanished in the underbrush. She wandered for a long time, looking at everything, listening to everything, proud to forget the tight, pruned world outside, humming a little now, trying to remember the pattern of the melody she had heard the night before.
And then, up ahead, in a place where the light seemed brighter and the ground somewhat more open, something moved. Winnie stopped abruptly and crouched down.
She began to creep forward. She would go just close enough, she told herself. Just close enough to see. And then she would turn and run. But when she came near, up behind a sheltering tree trunk, and peered around it, her mouth dropped open and all thought of running melted away.
There was a clearing directly in front of her, at the center of which an enormous tree thrust up, its thick roots rumpling the ground ten feet around in every direction.
Sitting relaxed with his back against the trunk was a boy, almost a man. And he seemed so glorious to Winnie that she lost her heart at once. He was thin and sunburned, this wonderful boy, with a thick mop of curly brown hair, and he wore his battered trousers and loose, grubby shirt with as much self-assurance as if they were silk and satin. A pair of green suspenders, more decorative than useful, gave the finishing touch, for he was shoeless and there was a twig tucked between the toes of one foot.
He waved the twig idly as he sat there, his face turned up to gaze at the branches far above him. The golden morning light seemed to glow all around him, while brighter patches fell, now on his lean, brown hands, now on his hair and face, as the leaves stirred over his head.
Then he rubbed an ear carelessly, yawned, and stretched. Shifting his position, he turned his attention to a little pile of pebbles next to him. As Winnie watched, scarcely breathing, he moved the pile carefully to one side, pebble by pebble. Beneath the pile, the ground was shiny wet.
The boy lifted a final stone and Winnie saw a low spurt of water, arching up and returning, like a fountain, into the ground. He bent and put his lips to the spurt, drinking noiselessly and then he sat up again and drew his shirt sleeve across his mouth. As he did this, he turned his face in her direction—and their eyes met.
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For a long moment they looked at each other in silence, the boy with his arm still raised to his mouth. Neither of them moved. At last his arm fell to his side.
Winnie stood up, embarrassed and, because of that, resentful. At least, I was never here before, but I could have come, any time. Winnie took his hand, staring at him. He was even more beautiful up close. Do you come here a lot? No one's supposed to. I mean, it's all right with me. And thanks, I'm glad it's all right with you. She stepped back and sat down primly a short distance from him. There was a pause. At last he said, "Why do you want to know? I'm one hundred and four years old," he told her solemnly.
Winnie had the feeling he was laughing at her, but decided it was a nice kind of laughing. This time he laughed out loud. But I'll be eleven pretty soon. Winnie laughed again, her head on one side, admiring him. And then she pointed to the spurt of water. No—no, it's not," he said quickly. Comes right up out of the ground. Did you see that? It was a property we were actually managing. It was a nice three-unit building. Everything looked good on the surface: I went to the auction without the ability to actually buy it but I still went to it and scraped together the money just to put down on — I think they needed like 25 hundred dollars down, it was an easy one.
Then me and my partner at the time were the successful bidders and I worried about the money after. Jump off a cliff and build the parachute on the way down. On the way down, yeah. Build a plane on the way down? Exactly what we did. Can you tell us where you are now? How many units do you have? What kind of different investments have you accumulated over the years?
This show made me actually look at it. The other day when I was e-mailing you, I was off. I actually tallied them up so now: So I just miscounted by something Brandon: I forgot about that.
This is where our property management headquarters are. I want to dig into the motel because I remember you telling me a bit about the motel the last time we hung out. Is that the going to be the deep dive today or is that- Jesse: You spoiled the punch line there but yes.
You started picking up these properties, that first one you said, was that a single-family house- that very first deal? It was a three-unit at an auction- a boring auction, nothing exciting at courthouse steps. I was really uncomfortable. I just in there and there was only one other bidder and you go back and forth.
Did you remember what you paid for it? It was a three-unit and again, one of the reasons I was fortunate was I started purchasing when the market was not what it is right now. This was and I paid 70, I think he was a flipper because there was no public viewing of the property and I was the only one that knew this is a turnkey, nice operations so there was no renovations to be had. So we paid 70, for an up and running three-unit building.
It was a home run. It just takes one home run to get the momentum going, right? So when you have one good one it becomes a lot easier from there. When did you — I want to go into more properties — but when did the property management business come in? How many did you have before you started your own property management? And how did that come out? What happened for me was my business partner now who had hired he, he had hired me with an understanding that he was looking to actually get out of property management.
He had maybe to units under management at the time. He was a successful commercial broker so he was looking to just focus more on that. He had some of his own properties and I think at the time he just was burned out of property management. Then when I started working for him, I was you and hungry. We just kept picking up more units. It went fast from maybe to today we have over 15 hundred.
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That transition from instead of me someday taking it over, I think it re-lit a fire in him and he started enjoying it again and we have fun.
He still works in the business or you both work in the business? How does that play out? We both work in the business. Honestly, we have pretty sweet gig.
We love coming to the office. I think it was through a series of events when you get into different situations with somebody and you realize they have similar judgement with you. We both just have a big picture on things. I just found that we never fought about little things. We both just have that mentality.
I just love that mentality in general. I told a story a few weeks ago about the whole reason that I have the mobile home park because I said yes to coming out to New York to speak at some event which ended up being a really really horrible- I guess, like, my daughter got sick and it was a really stressful time because the whole trip my daughter was sick.
Anyway, that deal led to me hooking up with Ryan and that led to connecting with you and connecting — getting in that mobile home park and all that stuff, right? Just because I was open to the opportunity. I guess — David, do you want to jump in? I cut you off there. Jessie you mentioned that you guys are both kind of hands-off the business right now. I know you also own a cleaning business as well as a property management business as well as all the units that you own.
I hired my own person. Keep running around supervising cleaners. Anybody with a growing business would tell you scaling the business is the biggest challenge. Yes, it got to the point where I ended up looking for a good general manager because we needed that kind of help. I was surfing around LinkedIn.
I headhunted a few people and actually just poached some people that were in the business much longer than me, interviewed some people and found somebody who had been the general manager of a larger cleaning company as well for years.
I want to know what have you found successful in terms — I mean you obviously built this cleaning business. Now that it has other people running it, you built a property management business. You have your own real estate deals. What kind of tips you have for people that are on the same wall: I want to start hiring people; I want to find good people to run my business. I would say I put in abnormal amount of effort into the hiring process. If you want a simple position, it could be a receptionist.
I might have to talk to 25 people on the phone. You might have to interview 6 people in person, check all the references. It pays off though. A lot of them I think are smarter than me. For example, guys like Ryan Murdock used to be an employee here. I was very fortunate for the time he was here because we have talented people like that.
Insane amount of effort into hiring. Spend an absurd amount of time on that. We have people here that are doing a lot. He used to work maintenance for us. As we grew and we used to only have one full time leasing person and I saw a need for another one, he was an all-star. Same thing, person who was being our front-end receptionist person.
She now runs all of our homeowners associations. We manage quite a bit of large homeowners associations in the area. Almost everybody on our team has grown with the organization so that makes it pretty fun. You know, this principle of hiring, you hit it right on the head, Jesse. It is extremely laborious and labor-intensive. You have to be so picky. My first year at Keller Williams I was the rookie of the year of my office and I found out that I missed rookie of the year for the entire company worldwide by about the equivalent four to six houses in my area.
I learned a ton. They have to be stellar. These principles apply to everything. That would have affected the next 12 years of stress and drama. Now granted, they may not have stayed and I would have had to hired someone again maybe later. That guy has a pulse. Yes, I think hiring anybody — and this applies to everything, right?
Contractors, employees- anybody in your life. The work you do upfront will pay out dividends for years and years and years to come. Do you have any tips for letting people go?
How do you do that? You can become a good employee. You can name your price and you can get whatever you want.Nice To Meet You Book (Legendado)
I tell my employees all the time that work for me. Let me help you become so valuable to me that I pay you that or more. He was an entrepreneurial guy. I just saw an opportunity selfishly for myself that I could myself invaluable to this person because he had his hand in so many things. Not many of them were organized well or going as well as they could be.
Buy for others
I would just do it. You figure out a way to pay me and I just want to show up and be myself. Brandon and I talk about this all the time. I love that and I hope people take that to heart seriously that the world is not against you. If you can be that person, you can have anything you want. So, Jesse, after that triplex what was your mindset and what kind of properties were you looking after you bought that first one?
After that, I got the itch. This has been a good exercise for me to write stuff down. Of course he wanted in on it. It was a great deal. After that, we bought another — It was a two-unit after that. It was actually still the same client so I was on the lookout after that.
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It was one of my clients that their stuff was going to auction so I bought another duplex after that and then it was great because he had, at the time before this lost some interest and you know multi-family investing for whatever reason he had stopped doing it. A bank that we have a good relationship —on the same year- had called him about a really rough unit building that they were going to foreclose on.
The city was close to shutting down the building and they had reached out to us first to see if we would become the ones in receivership of the property. We went and looked at it, and because we had just had fun doing couple of deals together, he said: Should we talk to the bank about making an offer on this? So that was the third deal on that year. I definitely notice this theme of — and not just with you, though, the lot of investors- is this momentum, right?
That first deal is really hard to overcome. You might have spent 20 years thinking about getting into real estate or few years or few months, whatever. Just go get that first deal. Stop talking about it, thinking about it, wishing you were going to do it and trying to get the perfect absolute home run deal.
I mean, you had a home run deal your first deal. But even if it would have been just a base hit deal, it probably would have given you the momentum needed to go the next one. Then after that I became spoiled because the property management business was growing and I was just developing so many relationships that then more deals were coming to me.
I started having clients that I had built good relationships with. They were looking to get out-whatever reason- and I was the first call.
Then I had multiple deals that way and what was good about that is buying from some of my clients. These were people that had more experience than me. They actually helped educate me on some of the different types of financing, the different types of owner financing, them taking a second mortgage or whatever it may be and the momentum just kept going from there. What types of financing have you used now over these 80 some units?
After that first year, I had a stretch in a row of some clients that talked to me about purchasing. He just liked the idea then. I guess it helps to have the relationship. He was retired and he wanted a steady return on his money. I mean, it was a good deal for both of us.
I did some of that and then as the property management business grew and the cleaning business grew. I was fortunate to be financially strong. Do you work with the same bank now every time you buy something? Do you shop around trying to find the very best rate? How do you handle that? Primarily, the same bank. Relationship banking so you know your commercial loan officer. I have no idea my interest rate- none.
I never ask once. It might make my payment but I would rather work with people I like, like banks I like working with and lenders I like working with than get very rock bottom lowest rate. We had a loan that was 5. Let me see what I can do. Once I found out that I went like six months without any insurance on a property at all. I have one agent now.
You can actually go back into my old forum posts like on BiggerPockets from years and years ago. I think when we started the podcast five years ago I used to talk about that. Today, Caleb back home, back home insurance Montesano-everything.
Like, he just does everything. Me and my partner both. We have an insurance agent. They had the deductible too low on this. You guys talk about a lot on this show which I am a big proponent of when you guys talk about building a team. It was two duplexes side by side and they needed a ton of work. They needed work and the seller agreed to owner finance it because my plan was I was going to save my money.
I had this plan for the four units. One side of one roof, some foundation issue, heating and the units were all occupied but they were really bad but they were paying. I was like — I remember I had this spreadsheet saved. I can probably find it where.
Instead everything on my list that I thought would go wrong in those 8 years went wrong in the first six months. Everything I thought would go- The furnace was old but I thought it was going to give me a couple years. It gave me a couple weeks. It gave me another day. All these things went wrong. Two of the tenants moved out right when I bought it. That made me do total rehab. I was just sitting in there shaking my head and questioning my decision. That was the worst one. They can work but you have to have some reserves.
Luckily, I had some reserves to get through it. But it was a really crappy six months. I found the same is true when you buy these fixer uppers. With that said, the properties where I go through and just thoroughly fix them up — I mean make them all good at the beginning, you knock out all the rehab at one time. You might go years without a problem. Another reason we like the BRRR strategy so much and all three of us do a bit of that.
Where you fix them up ahead of them, you have reduced maintenance repairs for years. I hope and my mobile home park depends on that. So what makes a good property manager a good property manager? I wish I knew why there are so many bad ones because there really is.
I did a sales presentation to somebody yesterday in our office on the nice big screen TV they would show them on. I was showing them an example of our property management software owner portal and the different reports they could run and the things they could see and they were just fascinated by that. What type of properties does their reference have? How do they handle their financial reporting? I guess I would just go visit their operation.
Talk to these people. Ask them in particular how they handle all the little details. Just ask them one step at a time. How are renting the unit? How are you showing it? How are you screening tenants? If somebody gives you a security deposit, what are you doing with it? Where are you putting it? You know, just the little logistics of it matter.
I came out there to look at the mobile home park, right? Then Ryan took me into your office and I love the fact that was a nice office, first of all. It was very welcoming. I can go and see reports. The problems with property managers, I believe, spend way too much time reading property management books and not enough reading business books. You know what they say: But we like the systems. Is that a phrase? I just made that up. Anyway, they just make decisions on the fly.
Every single piece of your business should be systematized, and processed, and documented so there are no decisions made on the fly. Good job on your systems. You need to know in all these processes how you can track who dropped the ball. Why did this mistake happen?
Where did it break down? Everybody in your organization should know who is responsible so if something as simple as a key is missing, so should have a system in place so you can track who had the key last. Was it the guy showing the apartments? Was it the maintenance guy?
Was it the plumber? Was it the person at our front desk. Accountability is huge for systems.