Today on The Epic Real Estate Investing Show, Matt is joined by Stuart Gethner, an accomplished real estate investor and coach who has invested over $10 million in Arizona. Learn what Stuart did differently to actually get results from paid REI programs, his marketing strategies (and clever target audience), the one thing he wishes he knew when he got started, and much more!
What You Will Learn About No Regrets with Stuart Gethner:
- How Stuart Gethner went from pharmacist to real estate investor
- The number one regret of hospice patients and how it changed Stuart Gethner’s course
- How Stuart Gethner’s direct mail varies from audience to audience
- What Stuart Gethner did differently to actually get results from the REI program he paid for
- How to avoid feeling like everything in real estate is out of your control
- The benefits of taking the emotion out of real estate investing
- Which investing strategy has brought Stuart Gethner massive success
- How Stuart Gethner averages $500 positive cash flow per door
- Stuart Gethner’s favorite properties to buy
- How Stuart Gethner markets to his target audience
- Stuart Gethner’s streamlined processes to buy properties
- The one thing he wish he knew when he got started
- It’s been great meeting you virtually. Would you like to meet in person? Our next live event is right around the corner! Go to EpicIntensive.com for the details.
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- Need training? The ultimate training environment for real estate investors: Version 3.0 of The Epic Pro Academy! New look, new lessons & new content – we’ve got everything you need to know to get your first paycheck!
- Need someone to do it all for you? If you’re an Accredited Investor, you can diversify your portfolio by hitching your wagon to our train and share in the profits. Go to EpicWealthFund.com to download the executive summary.
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Speaker 1: This is Theriault Media.
Matt Theriault: Welcome. Welcome to the Epic Real Estate Investing Show. Glad you found us. Quick announcement, the Epic Intensive is coming up. This is the Cash Flow Conclave May 31st through June 2nd in Indianapolis, Indiana where we will be revealing the secrets of creating cash flow with real estate.
There are still some secrets left. Got some stuff up my sleeve I want to share with you. The early bird seats are almost gone and you don’t want to miss this intensive. Not only am I going to reveal what’s been working for us in our markets and what’s working today, but I also have three different students to do the same. Different students meaning different students from the last intensive.
So this intensive we have Parker out of Atlanta, Georgia area and we got Russell and Greg from the Columbus, Ohio area. They’re going to join me up on stage and share with you how they got started and how they have become rock stars in their own right. How they have traversed and overcome all the obstacles and challenges of starting in this business from scratch to a point where they are all working full time as real estate investors. They’ll hold nothing back. I’m not gonna allow them to hold anything back. Tickets are still available at epicintensive.com. epicintensive.com. Don’t delay.
Alrighty, so I’ve got a great guest for you today. A great show. He’s a long time listener of the podcast. He’s a successful real estate investor and a very accomplished real estate coach as well. He’s become a really good friend of mine. He’s born and raised in Chicago. Moved to Arizona shortly after graduating from the St. Louis College of Pharmacy in 1987. He has invested over $10,000,000 in Arizona since arriving. He has seen the real estate cycle go full circle, twice. The future, he says, looks even brighter. As a presenter at the AZREIA and NREES, not quite sure what that stands for but it sounds official, he facilitates workshops on foreclosures, short sales, and lease options to everyone from real estate novices to professionals alike.
Please help me welcome Mr. Stuart Gethner to Epic Real Estate Investing.
Stuart, welcome back to the show.
Stuart Gethner: Glad to be here Matt. Thanks for the opportunity.
Matt: You bet. I think one of your esteemed titles and accomplishments should be, you’ve made it through several years of listening to the Epic Real Estate Investment podcast.
Stuart: And that has not really been a challenge. You really have some outstanding guests and you provide some quality information and that is why I keep listening.
Matt: Super. Well thank you very much. Here we are today with another outstanding guest.
Stuart, before we get into your business of real estate, I’m curious. What lead you to the transition from pharmacist to real estate investor. How did that happen?
Stuart: So when I was a little kid I used to watch what they call these infomercials about how people made big money investing in real estate. They would go surfing in Hawaii during the day and when the weather was bad, they’d do these deals and make lots and lots of money. So I would become enamored with it way back when, when I was a little tyke.
Matt: Got it. Alright. Which program was it that lured you in?
Stuart: It was Dave Del Dotto if you remember that.
Matt: Wow. I remember that name. I don’t remember his infomercial, but I remember the name.
Stuart: Right? And I’ve always wanted to do it. I’ve owned pharmacies and one of the pharmacies that we owned was a hospice pharmacy where they take care of elderly and dying patients. I was talking to the hospice nurse one day and she said to me, “Do you know the number one regret of my patients are?” And I said, “Well probably they spent too much time at the office and not enough time with their family.” She said, “You’re wrong.” And I said, “Well, what is it?” She said, “They lived their life for someone else.”
You know, Matt, my dad’s a pharmacist, my Uncle Max was a pharmacist, my grandpa was a pharmacist, it was just a natural path for me to go into. I realized if I didn’t start making a move, before I knew it I would be fifty, then sixty. Life just travels at you kinda fast. So when the opportunity presented itself to sell the pharmacies, I did. I went out and became a full estate investor.
Matt: Sweet. Good. I like that story. Regret, that’s a painful experience that there’s really no cure for cause it all has to do with time and you can’t get it back, right?
Matt: Sweet. Near and dear to my heart at the moment, so I get it. I resemble that comment. Let’s see.
Alright, so you bought a program and you’ve obviously been very successful with it and whatever you’ve consumed after that as well. I’m curious about what do you think; you’re an educator now. You’re a consultant. There’s a lot of people that buy those programs and don’t get the results. Why do you think it is that you got the results that you were looking for and most people don’t? What did you do differently?
Stuart: What a great question. You know, you mention I bought that program. If I could be honest with you, I’ve bought everybody’s program. I was the guy that …
Matt: Oh, you’re like me.
Stuart: Yeah. Tying it up with the books and tapes in the back of the room, just trying to get knowledge. What I realized is the process, and you’ve preached this as well, it’s not hard. The process isn’t hard, but it doesn’t mean it’s not hard work. So you’ve got to put the time and effort and energy into it.
I’ve talked to a lot of my clients, coaching clients, it’s easy to get discouraged if you don’t see results. It’s easy to get distracted if you’re not on a solid path. So, after many attempts and finding a lot of ways that didn’t work, I stumbled on a way that worked for me. I just kind of replicate that over and over again.
Matt: Alright, so, perfect. Why don’t you tell me, what was that way that worked for you? Could you describe that briefly?
Stuart: Absolutely. So I didn’t know what I was doing. I was working as a pharmacist so I started having tenants, as I bought a rental property, pay for their own repairs. I started having tenants working out deals with me to buy the property for me, after I helped them through a service, helped them repair some of their credit. What I learned is what I was doing was a lot of lease options. I didn’t even know it was a lease option. I stumbled across that and there were quite a few people in our community that either had credit issues, but had a few dollars, and they were looking for a house for them and their family that they could not get financing through a bank at that time.
So I would take their five, or ten, or fifteen thousand dollars down, let them rent for twelve or twenty-four months, help them repair their credit and then buy the house from us.
Matt: Got it. Got it. Okay, so that’s a pretty traditional model. You stumbled into it because what you found was a legitimate problem that people had out there and you had a legitimate solution, right?
Matt: Perfect. How long have you been doing that?
Stuart: Since 1989.
Matt: Alright. You are OG, aren’t you?
Stuart: Yeah. You know, time flies as I said. I am glad I got off the being the JOB employee and started doing stuff on my own. It’s a much happier lifestyle.
Matt: Right. So, you’ve been doing this for a long time. We mentioned at the top that you’ve been through a few real estate cycles. How has your view of real estate changed over the years?
Stuart: I’ve become more in love with it because I realize, you gotta take the emotion out. You can only control what you can control. So, things that I cannot control are like interest rates. I can’t control that. I can’t control the market. Is it going up? Is it going down? I can’t control those things.
However, knowing where you are in the market, then I can control my strategy. So, if prices are going down like we saw eight, nine, ten years ago, we like to be in cash. When things are at the high end of the market, are we at the high right now? I don’t know. We may not know for six or twelve months, till we look in the rearview mirror. Just knowing where you are in the market and using your toolbox of strategies, you can continue to stay in the game and compete.
I tell this story of, I once did a fix it flip on a property and I made a lot of money. I made about $90,000 and I was so happy with that profit because I had a lot of money in the bank. As time went on, I used some to pay bills, living expenses, do some more dusting. At some point in time, I was out of the $90,000, but I didn’t want to be out of the game. So I learned the subject two strategies. The lease option strategy. So there’s ways to continue to participate whether or not you have money in the bank.
Matt: Yeah. It provides, I guess, over the years you start to see there are a million ways to make $1,000,000 just inside of real estate, right?
Matt: So you just, as long as you adapt and, I’m a Marine and I don’t remember what it was, adapt and overcome something. It’s been a long time.
Stuart: We like to stay flexible.
Sometimes when the phone rings people say, will you wholesale that deal? Will you fix and flip it? Will you buy and hold it? When the phone rings, we don’t know what we’re gonna do with it yet. We have to evaluate the property and see its strengths and weaknesses. So, yes, we do all those things, but we won’t know until we evaluate the property where it is in the marketplace.
Matt: Cool. Alright. So, let’s talk about today. What is your real estate investing business looking like today?
Stuart: We love the buy and hold.
Stuart: So when we create passive cash flow through buy and hold, whether it’s through seller financing or working through investors. We just closed out a fourplex a few weeks ago and we’re closing on one again tomorrow.
For us, it’s about … We average about $500 positive cash floor per door. We’re looking for those deals and opportunities where we can buy a property that needs improving.
My favorite properties to buy are from older folks that own more than one property. We call them whales. Maybe they’re over fifty-five, they have multiple properties. What I’ve noticed is, for the first five, ten, fifteen years or so they owned the property, they took really good care of it. Then, for the last five or ten years, they just kind of milked it and did a lot of deferred maintenance. So those guys don’t mind selling not at retail. They understand the product, that they’ve made their money from it, and they’re willing to pass that opportunity to someone else; like me or people in the audience.
Matt: Got it. So you are marketing to people that are over a certain age, that own more than one property?
Stuart: That’s correct. And have owned that property for more than fifteen years.
Matt: And owned the property for more than fifteen years. That’s your criteria? Perfect.
How are you delivering your message to them? How are they finding out about you?
Stuart: Right, we do a fair amount of direct mail. That’s what we use. We drop about 10,000 pieces a month.
Matt: Got it. You do postcards or letters?
Stuart: We do letters and if I can brutally honest, we didn’t start …
Matt: We’re only allowed dishonesty here.
Stuart: … we didn’t start at 10,000 a month, right? We started at 500 handwritten letters. So when you’re just getting going, you work with what you got, but you do it. You just keep doing it and doing it and believe it or not, the system works.
Matt: Right? Perfect.
So are you sending a professional corporate looking letter? A yellow letter? Handwritten? What type of letters are you sending?
Stuart: That’s, again, another great question. The answer is …
Matt: I’ve got a bunch of them.
Stuart: … The answer is clear as mud. It depends. It depends on …
One of the things we like to do is multi-family. So in multi-family, it’s more of a professional letter. What we’re mailing to the older folks, it’s more of a yellow letter with a casual picture of me instead of me in a tie; which I never wear anyway. So depending on who we are presenting ourselves to, we try to relate to them in a professional or casual manner.
Matt: Got it. Are you sending the same one over and over? Or are you mixing it up?
Stuart: We tweak it every so often and we update our list every three months. Every quarter. We figure every quarter some properties come on the market, some properties come off the market. We’ll take our cycle, divide it into four for four weeks, drop every Friday. We’ll do that three times and then we’ll update our list.
You just got to do it. Even when the phones not ringing, even when you’re wondering if this thing works, you just keep doing it. And believe it or not, I’m living proof, it works.
Matt: Right? Totally. It does. It all works. Everything works, nothing doesn’t.
You’ve got your criteria, your audience you’re sending to. You’re marketing via direct mail and using mostly letters and varying those letters. You keep your list for about three months before you refresh it. If you don’t get a response, you just keep on mailing. I like that approach.
I think that consistency beats everybody. A lot of people will take the results from one or two mailings and maybe didn’t get the response they want, and they stop. I think it’s the biggest mistake that people can make out there. You gotta be consistent and you gotta be persistent.
Alright cool. So, next, the phone rings. Do you answer the phone or do you have somebody answer the phone for you?
Stuart: We make sure that a live person answers the phone. We don’t use a service. I have one of my associates, Liz, I have another gal in the office, Dolly, we’ll answer the phones.
Some of my clients like to use the strategy to have someone leave a message so they’ll be able to buffer through the phone calls. You know, take me off your list, and they’ll only call back those that are serious contenders, not pretenders.
I’m a kinda old school I guess. I still think someone answers the phone, especially for the people that I’m marketing to, their older as well. Some of these folks I talk to, they don’t do email. They’ll still do fax, right?
So trying to be, like you said, consistent, always professional, and one thing that I learned from you, just from business in general, it’s about the next transaction. It’s not about this deal, it’s about the next one. So establishing rapport, building relationship, having some credibility in the community has a lot of value for us.
Matt: Got it. Cool.
Stuart: So we’ll answer the phone, we’ll evaluate the property. A lot of times the owners are outta state, they would like us to not go by the property, to not disturb the tenants, we’ll honor that. Again, trying to build rapport from the perspective of, what is it that the seller wants? What do they need? Try to make it a win-win for everyone.
Matt: Sure. What’s your process when the seller won’t let you into the property? How do you buy that property and do it confidently?
Stuart: At the end of the day, we’re not going to buy anything we don’t see inside. That’s just silly and that’s bad business.
We’ll still write an offer. I always wanna leave them with an offer, right Matt? At the end of the day, the offer at least gets the conversation going, shows them that we’re serious.
One thing that most folks will do, they’ll go ahead and they’ll check you out on the internet. So we want to make sure we got a good strong professional, whether they are in state or out of state, a good strong professional appearance because we want them to know that we’re serious and we’re legit.
Matt: Okay, so you write the offer. Once you get the offer accepted, now you kinda press the issue or force the issue of inspection? Which is …
Stuart: [inaudible 00:15:23]
Matt: Okay cool. You’d said it in a different way and I wasn’t, I was thinking something else. Perfect.
Stuart: We always want to see it. Tough to buy anything sight unseen. I’m sure everyone’s had the experience when you ask somebody, “Hey, what kind of condition is the house?” Or condo or what have you. They’ll all say, oh it’s in pretty good condition and when you get there and you finally see it, sometimes you wouldn’t let your dog live there.
Stuart: You gotta see it before you buy it.
Matt: Right. Yeah. Dogs deserve nicer quarters then I do for myself, in my opinion. So cool. Let’s see.
What’s one thing right now, you’ve been doing this for a long time now, Stuart. Congratulations to you, awesome. You’re an awesome dude. I’ve been out to visit you in your clubs a couple of times and just hospitality is top notch. You’re a first class dude.
Matt: What’s one thing that you know now that you wish you knew when you got started?
Stuart: It’s a cycle. It’s a cycle that just because nobody calls on the phone today doesn’t mean that they’re not gonna call tomorrow. Just cause I couldn’t find an investor today doesn’t mean I’m not gonna find an investor – Just cause I wrote a bunch of offers and none got accepted today. It’s a cycle and you’re committed to being, like you said, consistent.
It’s easy in the beginning to get discouraged because you don’t see immediate results. Many times you’re planting seeds.
I had one coaching client, Roberto, and Roberto on his very first call hit like a grand slam home run. The call, the guy wanted to sell, sold it way below market. He did a fix and flip. I felt so happy for him, but on a side note I was like, “You have to understand that you hit a home run, so for the next twenty, thirty, forty, fifty phone calls, or offers, you may not get a deal.”
You just have to keep continuing to feed your pipeline. It’s a very inconsistent model as far as cash flow is concerned. Those that are leaving the employee world where you get a paycheck every other Friday, and you know what that paycheck is, this is going to be different. Entrepreneurship is different and you have to be able to stomach it.
Matt: Right. Yeah. Keep your nose to the grindstone and have a lot of faith.
Matt: Consistency. It always wins. You know why it wins? Cause nobody else is consistent. I always take a lot of comfort in that. If I get up and I just do the work and take the action, whether I get the result or not, I have so much comfort and confidence in that cause I know nobody else is doing it. I know other people are quitting today when I felt like quitting, but I just didn’t.
Stuart: You got it. I appreciate your kudos about being successful and about doing this for a long time, but to be brutally honest –
Matt: Here we go again. Only dishonesty here, Stuart.
Stuart: There are times when, not that I want to quit, but boy do I get frustrated.
Matt: Yeah. No, this business, it can be frustrating.
Matt: But you know, if you set your mind to it and you deal with that frustration for a few years, you can have a life of no frustration after the fact. If you choose an alternative to working for somebody else, you can have just this mild frustration over the next forty years, right?
Stuart: Exactly. Choose your poison.
Matt: Pick your poison.
Stuart: Pick your poison and again, be committed.
Stuart: Be committed.
Matt: Be committed, of course. Yes. Commit to yourself, right? And speaking of committing to yourself, here’s a great transition.
You’ve got an awesome event coming up. This is on April 12th through the 14th. The Real Estate and Business Conference and Expo. This is in Scottsdale, Arizona. You got three awesome days with seven amazing speakers.
You, yourself, you’ll be educating and hosting. Then there’s Bob Bluhm from Asset Defense Team, there is Aaron Chapman, a good friend of mine, from Security and National Mortgage, there is Sean Tagge is how I think he says his name from Memphis Investment Properties, Ben Williams from iSelfDirect, and Jason LaFlesch Results Realty Real Estate Power Hour. He’s got the longest running show in Arizona in real estate, is that right?
Stuart: That’s true. Longest running radio show. Radio show.
Matt: Radio show. Got it. Perfect. Stuart, you are here to invite everybody, yeah?
Matt: Look at that! You all grown up with a website and everything now.
Stuart: How about that, huh? Honestly, the goal is … I’m big in education. One thing I don’t wanna be, and I think you’re similar Matt, I don’t wanna be that guy on stage that says, “But that’s not all! If you buy today, I’ll throw in the extra books and tapes.” That’s not me and nor do I ever wanna be that guy.
I do wanna be the guy that reveals from behind the curtain that this is an easy process. This is a system. When you understand the systems that you put in place and you learn how to position yourself in the marketplace, you can’t help but be successful.
I’ve been teaching these classes for like you mentioned, AZREIA and Arizona Business and Real Estate Associate, for the past fifteen years. I teach twelve online classes for the National REIA. This is just my opportunity to kind of do this on my own. Invite my friends, my peeps, who I know are quality people. Aaron Chapman as you mentioned, Bob Bluhm, Jason Laflesch, Ben Williams, Sean Tagge, and yourself. They are all great guys and they’re coming to educate.
Certainly when you leave … First of all, I put this in my ad, if you show up and you really show up, you’ll leave with a master plan on exactly step by step on what you need to do next in order to be successful.
Stuart: That’s it. There’s no hype. I’m not that kinda guy and that’s not who we are as an organization. If you’re interested, please go to contactstuart.
I have one other speaker coming from Kansas. He didn’t make the flyer, he just committed. When you come to speak, we give you complimentary tickets cause there is a charge for this event. This gentleman said he’s not going to be able to give away his tickets so we put up a link at the contactstuart website, on a first come first serve basis, we’re gonna give away his ticket at no charge.
Stuart: Cause he asked us to and he wasn’t gonna give them away anyway. So, if someone’s interested, even if you can only make it for one of the days, I’d love to have ya.
Matt: Alright, so you go to contactstuart.com and I’m there right now looking at it. You’ve got your countdown clock going. We’re not too far away, are we?
Stuart: Couple of weeks.
Matt: So to get these free tickets, how do we do that on the website?
Stuart: Liz has a button. Hopefully, you’ll see it right there, that says click here to register. That will take you right to the free tickets.
Matt: Hit the register now button?
Stuart: That’s right.
Matt: Okay, got it.
Stuart: The way I had them set that up, it’s on a ticket countdown basis so, please don’t wait. I’d love to have you come.
Matt: Cool. So you got some really high-quality people coming. I’m going to be there on one of the … on Saturday I think.
Let’s see, you are invited to connect the network of local and national experts. Let their proven strategies generating tremendous results from accomplished business leaders. New economy proof techniques, make money now always. This unique commerce is guaranteed, Stuart’s putting a guarantee on it, to educate and inspire you. Learn how to be prepared to weather any market cycle and not lose money.
Sounds like a good thing to go to.
Stuart: A lot of folks that come, they come because they once had a bad experience in real estate investing. They swear they would never do it again. Or they say something like this stuff doesn’t work. Again, regardless of your situation, bad experience or just getting started, you’re welcome here. Again, guaranteed to educate you and show you how.
Matt: Perfect. Well, thanks Stuart. It’s been a pleasure. I wish you the best of luck here and I’m gonna see you there shortly. I guess if anyone wanted to get in touch with you in any other way, for any other reason, say they can’t make the event, what would be the best way for them to do that?
Stuart: At the contactstuart, there should be a link there that Liz has set up that people can email me directly. That goes right to me. So if you want to get ahold of me, I don’t live in a silver palace, I don’t have walls or barriers in front of me. I find myself, just like you Matt, very accessible. I like people.
Matt: Cool. Yeah, upper right-hand corner of the website there, you can hit the contact button for Stuart.
Well, Stuart, it’s been an absolute pleasure. I will see you very soon and I guess that’s it.
Stuart: Yeah and other than that Dodger garbage you’ve got on, I always enjoy hanging out with you, Matt.
Matt: Yeah. For those of you that are listening and you can’t see, we are recording this on the opening day of Dodger baseball and we’re gonna go watch them beat up on the Giants. At the end of April, I’m gonna go to Arizona to watch them beat up on the Diamondbacks with Stuart.
Stuart: No. [inaudible 00:24:32]
Matt: Alright buddy, take care.
Stuart: Thanks, Matt.
Matt: Alright so that’s it here at the Epic Real Estate Investing Show. I will see you next week for another awesome episode. To your success. God bless. I’m Matt Theriault living the dream. Take care.