“Just always be curious. Always be learning.” Bruce Petersen is an award-winning real estate syndicator, multifamily expert, TV personality, public speaker, business coach, he owns multiple properties and has also completed 1031 exchanges. He is also the author of an upcoming book called Syndicating is a B*tch which talks about learning stuff the hard way and will help the reader an easier way by avoiding certain challenges.
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Bruce Petersen On Not Knowing What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You With Capital Gains Tax
I am excited about our next guest. He is returning if you’d listened to the previous eight-minute intro to this episode. Bruce shared his biggest frustration with capital gains tax and you know making sure you’re getting clarity on your options. You can go back and listen to that episode. But I’m excited to have Bruce back. So Bruce Peterson is a syndicator and multifamily expert, he owns multiple properties and has also completed 1031 exchanges. You can find him at the APT-guy.com is short for apartment Apt-guy.com and he also has a new book out that he wants you to take a peek at because he’s learned some stuff the hard way and he wants to help you make it easier for you. By avoiding certain challenges, we’re going to dive into that right now. That book is called Syndication is a B*tch it’s you know you can fill in that word there. So let’s dive in to get to know Bruce a little bit and then dive into his book and his strategy. Hey, Bruce, welcome to the show.
Hey, man, thanks for having me.
Would you give our listeners a little bit about your background and your current focus?
Group focus again, I syndicate large apartment complexes. But how I got here, barely squeaked out of school, dropped out of college, and didn’t have a whole lot of skill set there. Right. We didn’t have a lot of marketable skills. So I fell into retail, I did that for 18 to 20 years, hit a wall on five foot eight, I had ballooned to 240 pounds. I was depressed. I was physically nauseated, going to work every day. And I thought this can’t happen. I want to kill myself. I have no family. I don’t have time to date. So I had to walk away. I walked away at 43 and admitted Dave Ramsey guy my whole life, right? Always living way below my means investing everything I could invest. So I was able to walk away at 43 because I took care of my finances throughout my life. But then I decided okay, I got to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life. Keep hearing great things about real estate. So I started looking around and found a mentor who taught me how to invest and in syndicated apartment deals. I’ve been doing it since 2012. And have purchased a total of six properties for over 1100 units currently have 940 units. My wife’s my business partner, she’s the CFO of everything we do on the CEO and are very vertically integrated. We have a construction company, an asset management company, and a property management company just wrote the book that staying busy as I can during the lockdown, but you know, that’s kind of who I am and what we’re up to now.
Thanks for sharing that and before we dive into some of those strategies and really just talk about multifamily investing. I’m curious who Bruce was growing up? I think we’re all given certain gifts, their God-given gifts, some people call them superpowers, but was that one gift that you’re given Bruce, and how does that help? How do you help people today?
Well, my gift really, I think is EQ. I’ve got a very high level of EQ but you know, going back to the childhood thing, super inquisitive. I just got a note. Again, I was not a good student at all in a formal setting. I hated high school. I hated college, and I wasn’t cut out for it. So you know, back in 1986 when I started in college, you know, it was a big deal. And it was a shameful thing. If you didn’t have a degree so had to go get a degree dropped out of college. It’s kind of embarrassing, you know? 10,15 to 20 years later I’m super proud of it. I’m super proud of everything I’ve been able to accomplish without a formal degree. So again, I’m super inquisitive. I want to know everything I can about everything that I’m trying to do. I go all in all the way. And just always asking questions, why? How, how can I be better? I’m always, you know, I was the kid. Let’s see, I think I was 13 years old, I had seen a newspaper lane in the house. And there was an ad, it was the business, actually. But there was an ad in the business section that talked about compound interest. And I thought, Well, that sounds strange but interesting. I don’t know what that means. So I’m 13 years old, I called the bank. And I get a teller, I’m sure I don’t know who the hell I talked to. But it was probably a teller. And I said, Hey, can you explain this thing to me? So at the age of 13, I was already thinking there’s something to this, you know, I was the guy that sold baseball cards, comic books, you know, the lemonade stands all that I’ve always been looking for something. And again, I hit that wallet, 43 with retail, and realize, okay, this is the time to really figure this out.
And I love that you burn the ships, and you went all in. I must. I imagine that was, you know that that’s scary, a bit nerve-wracking. But at a certain point, you got to, you gotta pursue what you know, needs to change. Right. And so you made that transition. And it sounds like you had a good mentor and a good coach to help you along the way. And I’m curious now that you’re on the other side, and you’re coaching folks, what’s the most rewarding part of what you do?
You help others create the life that I’ve got, right? So first of all, you said that it was really scary. Well, I really wasn’t scared at all. It was the option to die, right. And I know that’s very hyperbolic. But that’s where I was headed. I was fat. I was depressed, I was physically nauseated, going to work that was not working. So to me, it wasn’t that big a deal. But so many people get to that point you’re talking about, it’s scary. It’s, you know, there’s a lot of stress. Well, I looked around at what I had, and I was like, this is not going to work for the rest of my life, my life will be cut short. So for me, it was a no brainer.
scarier not to change. Right. So what you’re saying, Right?
God, yeah there was so much more risk of not changing physically and emotionally.
Right? Exactly. It’s like
Because I didn’t have you know, a significant other, and walk it away, allow me some downtime, finally. So I actually met my wife.
Beautiful, right? How that works out. Right? And, and how things can change when you make some positive changes in your life? Would you give us an example? And maybe you can dive into the book a little bit of how, how multifamily investing or in the particular syndicate, you know, syndicating and partnering with folks can help you create and preserve more wealth.
We’ll say, so, real estate investing, obviously, well, maybe not, obviously, most people know something about it. But there are crazy tax advantages. You know, you’re owning a business when you buy an apartment complex that comes with crazy tax advantages. So it’s the best way I found to create wealth. But then we’ll talk about syndication because that’s what my book is about. syndication basically is going to take whatever you could have done by yourself. And you’re going to multiply that by 10 to 100 times, because now instead of you having to come out of pocket to buy a million-dollar property, you could put five to 10 to 20 people together to raise the money needed to go buy that property. So it allows you to scale. Um, when you’re a syndicator, you actually have a business, the people that invest with you, it’s not a business for them, it’s a side thing, it’s passive income for them, they give it like a dividend-paying stock, there’s no effort required from them. But for me taking on the risk, and the liability and the stress, it is my full-time job, so I get compensated for it. So it could make you fabulously wealthy, you can make a ton of money doing this, there are all kinds of ways to monetize it in a way that’s totally legit, totally ethical, and that your investors are more than happy to pay. Um, it’s a lot of work, though. It’s a whole lot of work. And there is a lot of stress, you know, I’m not embarrassed to admit that I’ve cried at night, you know, I’m proud of my wife’s shoulder because it gets stressful. Because if something doesn’t go as planned, even though you tell everybody before they get into the deal with you, these are projections, these are my best-educated assumptions based on what we’ve done over the years, but things still can and probably will go wrong. And when those things go wrong, and if I’ve said to somebody that I project, you will get a six to 8% return. By the end of the first year, I’ve only hit a 5 or a 6% return to something that surprised me that I couldn’t have known about that stress. You know, I’ve had the government take 5 million bucks of my money. That’s a lot of stress. Right? They don’t tell you they used to take it and you got to figure out what’s going on, because that $5 million is not my money. I’m a syndicator, remember, so that was my investor’s money. So it’s very rewarding and incredibly lucrative, but My lord there’s a lot that goes into it that a lot of people just don’t understand.
So I’ve got to dive into that. When you say take your money you’re referring to tax. Are you referring to something wealthy?
Well physically gone. It’s mysteriously out of my bank account. Right. So what happened is I executed a wire to purchase a property. I execute the wire nine o’clock in the morning, I drive to the property and I hang out waiting for the all-clear to say the seller had received the wire usually takes an hour to three hours later, nothing four hours later, nothing five hours later, nothing. My attorney finally calls me about 3:34 in the afternoon and says Bruce, you got to get out of that property. Because I’ve already walked into the property. Now, I’m already setting up shop, because a previous management company just turned around and walked away. Before we had the all-clear so I walked in. I’m setting up everything she said, Get out liquidity, get out because you don’t own it. Oh, crap, I try to don’t. So what had happened is the name of the property I was buying was the name of a known drug cartel in Colombia. So the federal government, a division of the federal government, OFAC, stepped in, they grabbed the 5.2 million dollar wire. And they have two weeks that they can take to research this thing to figure out what’s going on. Are they laundering money? what’s going on? So they don’t tell you they just take it. So it took three days to get to the bottom of it. They took it on a Friday, we finally did get it closed? Well, one business day, we didn’t get it closed on that Monday. But again, you talk about stress. Oh, my Lord, try to tell your investors that, you know, we didn’t get the property close today. Like we thought, you know, that’s unfortunate. And I’m sorry about that. But I got you one better. I don’t know where anybody’s money is, you know, so yeah, trying to have those conversations is not fun.
That might be one of the wildest closings I’ve ever heard of, you know, I just did a, I did a podcast with a client of mine. And he did an eight-part exchange where he traded. Rolls Royce, one of his clients’ partners did for a Hawaiian burial grounds place to build condos and was an eight leg. That was crazy. Now this one is a drug cartel potential. They thought of the same name. And they just because of the same name, they don’t even tell you or ask questions. They just take the money. And it takes four days to clear and then it clears out. But that must have been a relief once you get the money in the deal. Close. Yeah.
Oh, God. Yeah. So it worked out right, where we’re actually trying to sell that property right now. We’ve held it for almost four years. And in my world, you usually hold a property for three to five, maybe seven years on average. So yeah, we’re trying to sell it now. It’s been good. But yeah, those first few days were highly stressful.
I’m curious, what was the one big Domino um, you know, you mentioned the transition, it was hard, and then just big challenges. But I’m always curious what the apartment syndicator like yourself, what’s the one big thing that once you knock that over once you implement that system? Or once she figured this out? I know, it’s a lot of little things. But what’s the one biggest one that propelled your success? And or your lifestyle to be a little less stressful if that makes sense?
So there are a few things. So the first thing is I found a mentor, right? So that turbocharged that eliminated a lot of errors that I may have made. If you make an error, buying a single-family rental home might cost you 10 20,000 bucks. You screw up an apartment complex, it can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars. So I think that was one of the biggest things right there. That was kind of my tipping point. But then, you know, more tactical, maybe, would be that I started a meetup. And this is before I really, I mean, I had heard of meetup back in the day, but in 2011, I started a meetup with me and one other guy, we would get together every Wednesday at Starbucks and talk about real estate and everything we had learned the previous week. Well, that went for probably six, seven years. And the two of us grew to about four to 500 people. So, you know, I started to create a name, I started to have people get comfortable with me to know, like, and trust me, because they got to see me weekly. And it wasn’t about me, but I was just one of the people at the meetup. Again, I started it but you know, they got to interact. And they got to know like, and trust me as I said, I’ve had people sign on my first deal out of those that meet up. I had no experience. I had no job, I had no, I didn’t have a college degree. But two people who were meeting with me for about six to nine months felt comfortable enough with me to sign on my first loan. So I think that was probably the biggest key outside of a mentor.
Excellent. So hiring that mentor to get to watch those blind spots. Watch for those challenges. Someone who’s been there before. And then second, starting a real estate meetup which led to building trust and rapport and partners who you’re helping out too, to grow the business together.
Right. And you know, a lot of people nowadays say Oh, yeah, but Bruce, that was 2011. There are a billion different podcasts that I mean meetups out there, well, they talked to me about podcasts. Like, I don’t care. Start one anyway, it doesn't matter if you're not good. You provide value. Click To Tweet, I don’t care how many trillions of podcasts or meetups there are, you will rise to the top because people will start spreading the word that I really get something different out of this podcast or out of this meetup. So I don’t want people to be scared to start something because other people have done it. Well, everybody, somebody has done everything just about right. The iPhone was not the first smartphone, it was definitely not the first cell phone. So that’s a big message and try to get across to people out there. Do it.
Love that. Right. Yeah, there are the fundamentals and just give yourself a shot and go for and add value and keep the customer, the client, or the partner first. So let’s shift a little bit. So in our first and our first mini-episode, we touched on some capital gains tax challenges. I’m curious, how do you help navigate that for people who are either coming in and selling an asset who want to invest with you, let’s imagine they’re selling a 10 unit apartment complex worth, you know, $100,000 and you have a, you know, $20 million apartment complex ready to go? How are you navigating that tax deferral? And second, once you’re there and you sell these deals, how are you navigating the tax deferral back out? What are you doing there to help mitigate or defer that?
So on the front end, there’s not a lot, right. So I don’t have any opportunity zones, we’re not doing tenancy in common, so there’s no way for people to bring capital gains into my deal. It’s just not possible. Now, I know there are different I think Delaware, chartered investment vehicles that people can do that with, and then, of course, you have the opportunity zone. So there are ways for people to shield capital gains from a previous project into a deal just not the way I structured deals. Um,
and by the way, that’s consistent with a lot of syndicators and operators I’ve talked with, I mean, 95, 97% of them, don’t allow 1031 into their deals because as to complicate it, and then be a lot of them are still not I mean, if a deal happens to be an opportunity zone, they may structure a fun to do that. But that’s very common because it’s just, it seems to be too complicated. And, and they like to keep everything pretty simple. Is that what you found, too?
Well, that’s true. But that’s not the real answer. The real answer is it’s not allowed, right. So to do a 1031 exchange, you have to sell and buy with the same Taxpayer Identification Number, social security number, Ei, and whatever. If you’re selling as a human being as an individual with a social, you’re going to invest it with an Ei in totally different numbers, you’re not allowed to do it. Right. As I said, there are some other vehicles that have been created, I think over the last 5 or 10 years, that can facilitate things like that. But when you’re investing just directly with just a regular everyday syndicator, it’s just not possible because again, you’re sewing with one ID number and you’re buying with another so it’s just not allowed,
Right? The whole entity must move in that world. So then, then separately, what happens when you let’s say, if 10 investors in a deal and deals come full cycle, you’re ready to sell? What are you doing there to help defer tax?
So that’s interesting because that was part of the thing that I talked about, in the first little mini-interview we did that I was led to believe this is just impossible, maybe not impossible, but super difficult. Because you have to get 51% of the people to move forward or 51% of the equity to move forward. And you know, and even if you do you have to do a drop and swap. None of that was true. Right? So I finally found a Qualified Intermediary, a cutie pie, that this is what they do all day, every day. So I talked with them, they said, No, you just tell me how much of the sale proceeds are going to be set aside in escrow with me to purchase the next property. And there will be the tax show tax avoidance, I guess the tax deferral with that money, but anybody that wants their money out, they could take their money out, they’ll just pay their taxes and go on their merry way. So what we offered said, Look, tell us if you want to move forward. And if you want to move forward? Do you want to move forward with everything? Do you want to maybe just roll your original basis into the next deal and take your profit off the table, pay taxes on the profit, you want to split it up however you want to guys, or you could take all of it out, pay your taxes, go do whatever you want to? So we gave them those options. We rolled about 50% of our sales proceeds into the next deal. So we took a 120 unit deal and bought a 200 unit property with it. So we got a better property, a bigger property, a nicer property. So 1031 worked exceptionally well. Again, The key is you have to find somebody that knows what they're doing. And be careful who you're asking for advice because a lot of people think they know but they have no clue. Click To Tweet
Exactly right. Yeah, we face it every single day with the deferred sales trust, right, and that exact scenario, there are certain qualified intermediaries who allow it as a backup plan for failure. 1031, which we just saved the $7.6 million 128 unit multifamily fail 1031 exchange into the deferred sales trust, not to be confused with the Delaware statutory trust. And most companies either A) don’t know about it or B) have never done it or C) just don’t want to know about it, right? They just say no, no, no, no. And you go, why would I ever, why would as a client ever go to a QI company who doesn’t know there’s a, there’s a backup plan, it’s been proven for 24 years, thousands of closes, you know, all the IRS audits, and least consider or habit as a backup. So we face it every day. That being said to what’s also unique for our listeners, we learned about the deferred sales trust is that even those other let’s say those other five folks who didn’t want to do 1031, and wanted to take their cash, oftentimes, why they’re doing that is because they want or need liquidity, right. So there, they’ve been in a deal for five or seven years, let’s just say, and they don’t necessarily want to tie up all of their equity for five or seven years, right. And so what they want is to have access to that, well, what’s nice about the deferred sales trust is you can have kind of the best of both worlds, you can defer the tax and also have liquidity right along the way. And you can each have your own individual deferred sales trust, or just pay the tax too. So it’s kind of a hybrid in between the two depending on, of course, the client’s needs and their goals and all of those things. But I thought I would just mention that. That being said, What do you think about opportunity zones? Have you been, you know, you consider doing any of those yourselves? Or what do you like, Don’t you like, and what’s kind of your thoughts on those?
Well, I’m open to anything that I think is viable. But for our business plan. Currently, it’s not viable at all, it’s just not practical, because I don’t know all the ins and outs, but I know quite a bit of it. So if I go out and buy a piece of real estate, I have to double the cost basis in that property, right? It’s great for a developer, it’s not great for what I do, I buy fully stabilized well-run assets that I can come in and run better usually. But for me to spend $10 million to buy a property Well, now I got to spend $10 million more to improve it or tear it down and rebuild it. I can never do that, you know, I bought the 200 unit property, we put $600,000 in rehab, that’s a pretty big rehab in our world if it’s not a complete teardown. So that’s why it’s just it’s never worked for us if we get to a point where we start doing development. Well, yeah, it would absolutely work and we would absolutely be interested. Um, but again, it just doesn’t fit our business plan right now.
It makes perfect sense, exactly. What you’re saying is, if you buy a deal for 10 million, you spend at least 10 million or more in improvements or additions in order to qualify and actually check off that first check box. But if you’re not, then it’s challenging. So yeah, if you’re a developer who happens to have land that is going to be, you know, bought the land for a million is going to spend 3 million to build great, you’re in good shape. But if you’re just buying existing multifamily or existing projects that have some value add component, then it’s, it just doesn’t work. So that makes sense. Let’s, let’s jump in a little bit into your book to any other thoughts or even your coaching. So maybe walk us through what you provide for and who you know, your ideal mentee might be for your program.
Oh, my ideal mentee would be somebody like me, you know, you’ve got money. You know, I don’t want people that come to me saying, Hey, no money, no, not, you know, no credit, all that note that, that can work one out of 1000 times, and maybe but that’s just that’s crap, for the most part. So understand, you have to have money, you have to have wherewithal and means to start. But in summer that has saved their money over their lifetime, it’s hard for me to work with anybody that has no money because they expect to go out and raise it all. Well, if you’re not gonna put money into your own deal. Most people will not give you any money for that deal. But you know, it’s somebody that maybe you know, they have money, they’re not satisfied with a career, they don’t like their career. Maybe they do, but they’ve been contributing to a 401k and Ira Occhio, whatever those things are, but they realize, Oh, my God, I just got hammered again after getting hammered in 2009. In the market getting hammered in 2019 99. In the market. I want something that is proven, is rational, is backed by physical assets, something that I can go out and touch. So it’s somebody that wants, you know, a look, let’s say an annualized return of anywhere from 15 to 25%, heavily tax-advantaged, but again, it’s somebody that has money, and they’re just looking for something different because the existing thing, the status quo, the dog where they’ve been taught their whole lives, it’s just not working for them.
Yeah, that makes a whole lot of sense. have money not satisfied with their career, and are looking to really have a love and a passion and a vision for why commercial real estate is the and I believe the best risk-adjusted rate of return. And mobile home parks, senior housing multifamily or my three favorites that I invest in personally so yeah, right versus a stock market that can just be wild. Right and kind of a lot of it out of your control. Right. It’s I world policy, its words, its pandemics, it’s so many things that are beyond but if you can own an apartment complex or mobile home park or even senior housing and provide a service for people who need that. Now, of course, Corona is kind of it’s been some challenges with that potentially, you know, in California, they said no evictions, right. And for a short period of time, and, in rent control, there are some challenges depending on what state you’re in for those things. But I’m curious how your collections have been? these past couple months, where a lot of people thought, you know, no one’s going to pay, but all of a lot of my clients are saying no, most of them have. And we worked out some challenges, you know, from some challenges, but at least most of our above 90% collections. But what have you seen?
So March was when it all happened, right? So March, we had a pretty full month of collections. April was the first time we were worried about being Oh, my God, we don’t know what to expect. We collected about 96 to 97% of a normalized month. So we were good. And then they come in, yeah, May comes and you’re thinking, well, Surely it’s going to start to catch up with us. So May hold on, guys, I’m telling all my investors Hold on, we do not know what to expect, it could get bloody well, we collected May, I mean, April with May. So May was stronger than April, it was even stronger than March for two of my properties. It was crazy. So I still don’t feel comfortable that I’ll be very honest, because there’s been all this stimulus pumped into the system that you know, people are getting more on unemployment, and they got for, you know, their job, that they actually work that they’re getting stimulus of, you know, 24 to 30 to $400, sometimes, depending on their, their family situation. So all that’s come into the system, but now it’s all been paid back out if there are not more steps of a stimulus to come. And I’m not saying politically if I approve or disapprove of it. But if not, more don’t come out. And businesses don’t open up the full scale, then eventually it is going to catch up with us. I think the next worrisome time for most people in September because that’s when most of the experts I’ve talked to think all of the stuff that’s been pumped into this system will finally have completely worked its way through the system. And now, now they can’t pay. So again, this month, we just finished May. And we’re about 99% collected on two of our properties, like I said, out collected March and April.
Thanks for sharing that. And that makes a whole lot of sense. Let’s hope the economy gets back in full force again, and jobs that were lost as many as possible, get back and we get some stable, stable incomes coming in. So that being said, Are you ready for the lightning round?
All right, Bruce, knowing what you know, now, if you could go back to your 25-year-old self, what’s the one Golden Nugget you would make sure you would do or something that you would know?
Don't do something that you think you like, you know, be real with yourself? Do you really like what you're doing if you don't, don't do it? You know life is too short. Click To Tweet I got a friend. I want to protect names, you know, but a friend that he’s afraid to leave his job because I won’t have my six-figure income. I won’t have health insurance. yet. There was one day he actually put a gun in his mouth. What the hell? It is not worth it, dude. You know, so I would tell myself you know, get out there you know, cut the retail core, just get out there, figure this out. You know, don’t do this for 20 years, get really fat, get really depressed and it’s just not worth it. Life is way too short for that. So that’s the biggest thing. Just have courage. Go out there, find something that you like, even if what you’re doing now pays you a quarter-million dollars a year, but you hate it, everything about it. It’s destroying your personal life. Take a $50,000 a year job but be happy at it. There’s nothing wrong with that scale back, your life may be but isn’t it worth not being dead? Right, so that’s my biggest thing to myself. Luckily, I never got that far. But I know a lot of people do.
Now well said and it needs to be talked about more. You’re right. I think too often in society and education. They tell us there are certain things that don’t fulfill us and make us happy but it’s just the opposite. Right? They’re short-lived and they’re not completely fulfilling and that’s where, you know, as a Christian, I believe it’s you only God can provide that you know that the hole that’s in all of us to really fill us up. That being said, What’s the one book that you recommend or have gifted the most in the past year Bruce?
You know, a lot of it goes back to some of the stuff we’re talking about. Honestly, the biggest one that I recommend is probably two: it’s Killing Sacred Cows by Garrett Gunderson. He talks about cashflow banking, he talks about insurance. He talks about, again, the dogma that we’ve all been fed our whole lives going to work for somebody else for 40 to 50 years and put money in an IRA 401k. And, okay, by the time that’s over, you could barely move, you’re in your 70s. So, anyway, killing sacred cows, he’s poking holes in conventional wisdom when it comes to money. So it’s that one. And it’s really, um, well, for me, personally, I’ve been giving this out a lot is what would the Rockefellers do? You know, again, it talks about cash flow banking, a lot of people are listening to Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman saying that, look, you have to buy the term, Whole Life is a ripoff. It’s a ridiculous buy term and invests the difference. There’s a whole lot of reasons why that is a really bad idea. And until going back to an earlier conversation you and I had until you find people that really understand it, and can show you the way to properly execute cash flow banking, you’re not going to understand it. And it’s a big deal. It is huge wealth preservation, asset protection, and will generate things that most people just don’t understand.
Absolutely. And I’m just scratching the surface to learn more about that. But that is fascinating, interesting. And yeah, what the Rockefellers and a lot of the ultra most wealthy that goes back centuries have used, so give me a digital or mobile resource you’ve recommended for your business?
Well, you know, it’s not very easy for very many people to implement until they have scale. But it’s, we have partnered with a portal for our investors, we partnered with a company called Invest Next. And we were going to build a portal for our, for our investors, but it was just cost prohibitive, it was going to sidetrack us from the things that we’re really good at. So we just, we got involved with them. It’s a one-stop-shop. Because before we were doing all of our work because we do monthly updates, financial, and narratives. We were doing a monthly and you know, I would just go through Google, once you get to too big a mailing list in Google, they won’t let you send you to have to break it up into two or three different emails, because it will only allow you to emit email to 99 people at a time. So it was really easy. They invest in the next things, it allows us to communicate more effectively, they have one place to go for all their updates, for the performance of all their investments for a way to invest in the next deal that we’re doing. Brought it all in-house. It’s not cheap. I don’t know if they would appreciate me saying this or not. I don’t know if it’s public knowledge, but we pay 1500 dollars a month for it. Um, but it was money super well spent, again, your first deal or two, you might not be able to justify 1500 dollars a month. But that’s been the biggest game-changer for us.
Excellent. Thanks for sharing that. What’s your favorite leadership quote, or theme that you live by Bruce?
Oh, well, okay. So famous, I guess, is where I’ll go. It’s, it’s a one-word thing. Really, it’s empathy. Right? treat people the right way. Right. Doing the right thing is always the right thing. You know, one of my big things that our management company is, guys, look, we have company handbooks, we have employee handbooks, we have processes and procedures and SLP. And all this stuff. When this pops up, this is what you do. Follow it by the book, until you can’t follow it. And they’re like, what does that mean? Follow until I can’t follow it. If what you’re about to do, because it’s a policy or a procedure is not the right thing to do for a human being on the other side of this transaction. Do not do it. Explain to me why you did what you did, right? You have to be autonomous enough, and be able to use your own brain to know that, okay, it doesn’t really work in the situation because the person on the other side of it is going to be negatively impacted, or we’re not taking care of them properly. Explain to me why you did what you did. No harm, no foul. So that’s the biggest thing. It’s empathy in using your brain, right? Don’t just blindly follow orders and follow up books.
Love it. What are you curious about right now, Bruce?
I’m curious about everything, dude, I want to know why I’m here, how I got here, where I go after this is all over. Um, you know, just like I said, I’m a lifelong learner. I’m always trying to make myself better. I’m sorry. I don’t know how to do anything succinctly here. Right. So I started up another meetup. And I asked the room and 50 to 70 people in the room said, Okay, let’s go around the room, everybody starts throwing around and throwing out things. What podcasts are you listening to? What books are you reading or listening to what you know, masterminds? Are you a part of crickets? Absolutely nothing. Like, how is this possible? Why people, you know, they put their head down, they contribute to the 401k. They do all that stuff and they don’t think about what’s going on around them. They’re not trying to make themselves better. And I just don’t understand that. it just doesn’t make any sense. But like I said, I’m terribly inquisitive. I’m always trying to figure out well, you know, you know, one of my properties in North Austin, they said, You can’t put granite in the hood, you know, in the kitchens in the bathrooms. Like, why can’t I won’t because we never have, they will work here? Okay, that’s dogma, right? Again, I don’t accept dogma ever. You give me a dogmatic answer. I’m gonna throw it back in your face and say, Look, okay, I appreciate your closed-mindedness works for you. I’m happy. I will go test it for myself. And chances are I’m sorry, you’re probably right. But I’m not going to accept Oh, it’s because it’s just you can’t do it. Why? Because you don’t like it, so I tried it, it worked out fabulously well. So you know that that’s the thing. Just always be curious. Always be learning. I spend Well before we had locked down, right, and I can’t go to the bookstore anymore, I would probably leave four to six hours every week of my life, to just go sit in a bookstore, to just unplug, turn my phone off and go sit in a bookstore and read anything I can find to read. So it just stays plugged in open, open your mind, and be open to different experiences.
Love that. Thank you so much. And this will be our last question. Then we’ll talk about how our listeners get in touch with you. So Bruce, after all, your success as an apartment syndicator and as an author and as a coach, and making a big transitional shift during your lifetime? How do you stay centered in your values? And how do you stay encouraged to reach for new heights?
Well, I’m the weird guy that irritates everybody around me. I know I am. I’m the eternal optimist, right? You know, it’s bad right now. Okay. Yes, you’re right. It’s bad. Right? I was horrible right now for X or Y or Z or now, you know, the Black Swan event of this, this virus? Keep your head up? What’s the alternative? Hide from the world retreat and die silently? in your bed? No, get out there. You know, do it. Um, I kind of lost my train of thought there. Forgot what you asked me now.
No, that’s how you stay centered in your values by being an eternal optimist. And, and despite the challenges, finding ways to just grow and continue to press on. And the second part is just how do you stay encouraged to charge for new goals? Right, so you’ve reached a, you know, level of success? high success? How do you stay? Fars stay encouraged to reach for new heights or new goals?
Well, I’m very goal-oriented. So I’m always writing down goals. A guy I know David Osborne has been very instrumental in me keeping that in the front of my brain, but I’m very goal-oriented. And you know, some of the goals honestly are materialistic, right? You know, I’m gonna make a lot of money, okay, money, I’m not gonna lie, and I’m gonna make more money. But it can’t be all to like, you know, hide in a closet or under your bed. And you know, you got to enjoy some of it. So some of my stuff, some of my goals are materialistic. I want to own a baseball team. I do. But that keeps me driven to keep getting bigger and better. Because the more money I make, the more people I'm helping. It's that whole thing. If I help enough people, you know, get what they want.… Click To TweetAnd I have an adult stepdaughter with autism, I want to make enough money to go out and start a nonprofit without having to raise a ton of money for this nonprofit, startup myself, me and my wife. And we’re going to open a 24 to 36 unit apartment complex that will be for adults with intellectual disabilities. And they can live there for free if they can’t afford it. It’ll be on a sliding affordability scale, but it’ll be a safe place for these adults to live to not be bullied, to be picked on to be ostracized because it still happens even with adults. So you know, those are the things that keep me going. Because, again, we do well for ourselves. But to do those types of things, I got to do a lot better than I do now. So that’s what keeps me motivated.
That’s beautiful. And that’s the answer. I was looking for a chance to give back with all the gifts you’ve been given. Well, where can our listeners find you if they want to get in touch with you? What’s the best way for them to connect? The best way really the
The best way really the top two things would be the website APT-guy.com. There, you can read a little bit more about what the book is about, decide if you think it’s worth buying for yourself. We have lots of resources there. But also probably the two different social things that I’m on the most would be LinkedIn and Instagram. So look me up on Instagram and LinkedIn. I’m very active, write articles, and try to try to help out any way I can without any kind of an ask. So you’ll follow me socially to
Excellent. Well, I want to thank you, Bruce, for being on the episode for sharing your story, right, and how you help people. I would encourage you to keep using the gifts you’ve been given to make a difference and to own that baseball team. Right and To start that, that nonprofit to help more people
About Bruce Petersen
Bruce began mentoring others in the syndication, acquisition, operation, and disposition of multiple apartment complexes in 2014. Bruce’s passion is providing passive streams of income to investors by improving apartment complexes and creating communities residents love to call home.
The Apartment Guy℠, Bruce Petersen, is a serial syndicator of large multi-family properties throughout Central Texas ranging in size from 120-292 units. He was awarded the Austin Apartment Association’s Independent Rental Owner of the Year for 2016 and the National Apartment Association’s Independent Rental Owner of the Year for 2017. Bruce targets stabilized properties where he can buy a cash-flowing asset and drive value through improved operations. He is able to do this by implementing his proven systems and deploying his experienced staff to replicate his business model across the new acquisitions.