JC 011: Travel, love and mobile home parks with Bryce Robertson
Announcer: Welcome to the, “Real Estate Locker Room Show” with John Carney. Did you know investing in real estate is a team sport? Join John and his guests as they explore the business of real estate and athletic competition. The goal for this show is to grant you direct access to the real estate pros that are closing profitable deals and growing their businesses. On the “Real Estate Locker Room Show” we are getting in the ring with successful investors, developers, operators, and all of the industry professionals to learn what it takes to achieve on-going success. Now it’s time to kick-off and level up with new ways to grow your real estate business.
John Carney: Welcome back to the Real Estate Locker Room Show. I’m your host John Carney, coming at you today from Cleveland Ohio, and joining me in the locker room out in sunny California is Bryce Robertson, who is your Australian Mobile Home Park mate and the principle of Property Works. Property Works specializes in mobile home park investments: from due diligence to assignments, syndication and property management. They are your mobile home park one stop shop.
Bryce is a real estate investing entrepreneur; an educator; and the large driving force behind the highly-geared Property Works team. A native from Australia, Bryce has 20 years experience in major construction, real estate and business. Bryce has travelled to well over 50 countries on six continents in search of greater wisdom and prosperity, which he will be sharing with us here shortly. He’s owned businesses in five countries on three continents, making him an international entrepreneur as well. He is definitely a well-versed entrepreneur and highly skilled to accommodate your local, national and international mobile home park investing needs. Thank you for joining us today Bryce. Thank you for taking the time to give our audience a little bit of insight on the world of mobile home park investing.
Bryce Robertson: Gidday John. I’m so excited to be here today. Real estate and sports, how exciting.
John Carney: I know, and we’ve got another Australian on the line; and this podcast is still in its infancy, but you’re guest number two. Your mate Reed Goossens has joined us before.
Bryce Robertson: Oh, beautiful.
John Carney: And we’re going to explore the intersection of the business of real estate investing and sports. I just personally like to draw the parallel between business and sports. I believe that business, and especially the real estate business, is a team sport, and we want to learn a little bit more about your business and your team.
Bryce Robertson: Very exciting.
John Carney: Well, to kick things off, let’s have a quick stretching question. Who, growing up, was your favorite professional athlete, and if it’s an Australian, will you please share with the U.S. audience who that person is and why?
Bryce Robertson: Yea, I’d say Alfie Langer. I used to watch rugby league and play rugby league in Australia, and he was an inspiration because he was a real team player and a real go-getter. And it didn’t matter what was going on, he would always come out successful. Even if they didn’t win, he always gave 100%, and I just thought that was super inspiring and yea, he was a really good bloke.
John Carney: So, competing in sports at a young age, looking back on it, winding the clock back now as a busy real estate professional and an entrepreneur, do you ever think about those lessons you learned from your heroes and from your coaches?
Bryce Robertson: Yea, and also just from my team members as well. Like, I played rugby league when I was a kid, and I was always an independent type of kid, and I soon realized when playing rugby league, that if I didn’t pass the ball to anyone else, that no one would pass the ball to me. And so that really let me know that to glide through the game with ease, or now through life with ease, that it requires building and maintaining trust and harmony in relationships.
John Carney: Yea, definitely. So, when you are working in your current environment, the mobile home park investing environment: talk to our listeners a little bit about what you do and how your business property works and enables investors to jump into the mobile home park investing environment.
Bryce Robertson: Sure. So, when it comes to mobile home parks, we own, operate, syndicate and educate, we basically take poorly managed mobile home park assets and then turn them around into much more profitable businesses that are a clean, safe environment. And our specific niche in mobile home parks is in the affordable housing space. In America and Europe, the economy is booming. Or if it’s taking a dive, there’s always going to be a massive need for affordable housing. And through the process of what we do, we provide a platform for other investors to invest their money in a very recession proof and very popular, now, asset class.
John Carney: So, can you just give us a little bit of a backstory on how that’s where you are now, but you started out in the real estate career right out of school, in construction management or on a construction site, like so many other operators.
Bryce Robertson: Well, I travelled the world for over six years. I went to about fifty countries and I thought I had it all figured out, because I had a travel pattern. And what I did, was I’d work, save some money, travel, and then run out of money and then repeat the cycle. And then I realized quickly there was a problem with what I was doing. Because at that point, my money, my income, wasn’t sustainable. So, at the end of each travel cycle I’d run out of money and I had to start all over again from scratch.
So, in the last six months of my six-year world travel, I met my wife Tiffany in the Caribbean. And she’s from California, so when I came to America and began my life here, we made a promise to each other to create a life that we wanted to live, yet make it sustainable. So we began looking at different ways we could make income. And we explored multi-level marketing and real estate and the stock market. It very soon became very clear that real estate was our destiny, because at that point my wife had a twelve-year background in mortgage and finance, and I had a 20 year background in construction management. So we teamed up.
And we began an extensive path of education, not only in real estate, but in all areas of life. And we soon found ourselves caught up in the hype of single-family fix and flips. And before too long, my wife Tiffany said to me she wanted to do something more people orientated instead of crunching numbers and searching through statistics. So, she became a realtor, and I branched off into commercial real estate investing, which I honestly wanted to do from the beginning. And that led me to the massive, passive income producing mobile home parks.
My mother-in-law had a mobile home near to Disneyland. I was over there one time and she told me she’d paid off her mobile home about five years ago, but she was still paying a thousand dollars a month in rent for the land that her home was sitting on. And I was like, “What? You own your home but you still pay a thousand dollars a month to rent the land off someone? Your landlord must be killing it!” So, I ran out front of the home, and I looked at all the homes that were in the community, and I counted about a hundred of them. And then I did the math, that’s over $100,000 a month in revenue. I need to learn more about this. And the next thing you know, I started buying mobile home parks.
John Carney: So that was a lightbulb moment for you with your understanding of real estate and having been at your mother-in-law’s. Will you sort of set the picture for some of our Australian audience? This was brought up by my business partner when I was living in Australia and we were running America Property Source, and talking about mobile home parks. He said it doesn’t translate over here. We have caravan parks and it’s just not like America, especially when you break it down that you have class A, B and C assets in a mobile home park community or in a multi-family community. So, would you be able to elaborate a little bit more about the mobile home parks and what opportunity you look for and zero in on in your business?
Bryce Robertson: There isn’t really anything comparable in Australia. I suppose there’s caravan parks, which would be equivalent to like an RV park over here, and it’s more really for recreational use, not for permanent or long-term living. But in America, mobile homes are homes that get towed around on the back of a truck, and they get set down and they are semi-permanent. But once you set one down, you don’t really move it, because it costs like five to ten grand to move it to somewhere else, to set it down and get it signed off. So, they’re pretty much sort of permanent type homes, and a mobile home park is a colony of those homes.
What we look for in a good market in a mobile home park is where the comparable two to three bedroom rents of apartments in the same city, in the same area, will be at least one and a half times that of the rents in our mobile home community. And we also look for the median house pricing to be over $100,000. By looking at those two metrics, it creates a big gap in the need for affordable housing and where else are our residents and tenants going to live if they don’t live in a mobile home park? The step is just really huge for them to move into an apartment or buy a house. They just wouldn’t qualify.
And another benefit of our residents living in a mobile home community is they have their own home and they have their own yard and they don’t share walls with people. They don’t have anybody walking above them upstairs, and they get the pride of actually owning their own home. Because in a mobile home park you can own the home and then all you have to do is rent the land off the landlord.
John Carney: In your parks, are the utilities paid for by the owner tenants or by the owner operator? Just out of curiosity.
Bryce Robertson: We try to lean towards the tenants paying the utilities, but the market will decide what’s going on there. It depends on what the market rents are and what’s acceptable in the market. But we do like to all-encompass everything so that the tenants are paying for the utilities and their rent as well.
John Carney: So, in order to start with one park – I would imagine everyone starts with one, when you started looking at the acquisition for your first park, what did your team look like? Can you explain that a little bit?
Bryce Robertson: For a team I would say get a mentor, first thing. You don’t even need to figure everything out. Just go there and get a mentor, and then you can have someone to fall back on. But yea, I would definitely say team up with somebody who has expertise and who’s done it before.
And you’re going to need a real estate attorney, a CPA, and a lender. You’re best off going out and searching for a lender first, because once you get a deal under contract, it’s crunch time, you’re on the clock and you don’t want to be scrambling around trying to find somebody to get a loan.
And then once you have your location where your mobile home park is going to be, then you’re going to build your construction crews for doing any rehabs to the homes. You’re going to have your plumbers, your electricians, your carpenters, and you’re going to find your landscapers, and all the other contractors that will be there to maintain and upkeep the property. And as far as a property manager, we do all the offsite management ourselves, and we also train people who live in the community to be onsite managers as well.
John Carney: That’s a great business model, as far as the management, right? Because I believe firmly that it doesn’t matter what asset class in real estate you’re investing in, if people are paying to rent space, the property management is a very critical component. That’s not downplaying any of the other team members.
You’ve been to all these countries, you’ve met an American lady, you’ve moved to California, you’ve made a commitment to be here, and you’ve chosen real estate. You’re in commercial on the investing and the brokerage side, correct? And your wife is on the residential side. How did you get to that first deal? Because that’s the entrepreneurial journey that I’m interested in. I would also like you to tie in how all that travel gave you the confidence to just get your hands dirty right away?
Bryce Robertson: I think the travel really allowed me to expand who I was and my confidence as a person, to really just go out there. You see, each time I travelled to a new country, there were a few areas through my travel where I set up basecamp. Each time I went to one of those basecamps, I had to start off fresh. I didn’t know anything about the area. Sometimes I didn’t even speak the native language fluently. And I had to start up my life there. I found that it always was the same thing: it just came down to drive and determination, and then learning the local knowledge or the knowledge of what I needed to learn as I was going. But when I was launching in each country, I didn’t have the time to sit back and figure it all out, I would’ve dramatically failed and I would have been living on the streets.
So, translate that into real estate and getting my first commercial deals going on. I went out there and got the base fundamentals of the education that I needed to get started, and then it was all about massive action. I was just absolutely obsessed about commercial real estate. I learned everything I possibly could and just threw myself out there in the action, and just started looking at deals and crunching numbers. And after not too long, I started to see the commonality and the patterns in what I was doing. I was learning from mistakes, and I really think, personally, that through action and experience is one of the best ways to learn. And so, I just put myself out there and just committed to it and just held up that tenacity.
John Carney: Did you ever have any travel experiences that were just so bad that they gave you a frame of reference, that when things aren’t going right on Monday morning in your mobile home park business, you’re like “Well, it’s not as bad as that one time.”?
Bryce Robertson: Well, you see I did have a lot of amazing adventures when I was travelling and I think that all of them were beneficial. Maybe at the time I’d felt that they were scary or something like that. But I think one of the biggest lessons I learnd out of all of that is: every time I look back at somewhere where I went wrong through my travels, it was because I broke one of my basic fundamental travel rules. I had a handful of travel rules that were geared around safety and common sense, and if I’d broken outside of one of those rules, that’s when the madness happened. And so, translating that into real estate, I need to stay grounded on my morals and my integrity in business and making sure that I’m not going outside there. And really, any time I have some sort of temporary failure, I’m usually just on the brink of a massive success. So, I think failures are just as successful as the good things that happen to us in life.
John Carney: That’s great advice. Could you elaborate on what are a few of your main drivers and what are a couple of your main rules for investing in real estate or operating your business? You mentioned integrity. Would you elaborate on those principles that you hold yourself accountable to every day?
Bryce Robertson: Sure. I always want to create win/win/win situations for people in any deal, whether it’s negotiating with a contractor, hiring a manager, or putting a whole deal together. I really want everybody to walk away feeling that they got something, they got some sort of value out of it. And every player in the deal wants some sort of different metric that’s valuable to them. And I think that comes down to creative deal structuring in whatever we do. So, it’s important to me that I leave every deal with everybody happy and that everything is harmonized.
Number two: Integrity. I think how you do anything is how you do everything. And if I’m getting all the small things right in time, each time, and I’m doing the right things by people, then I’ll be doing the big things right as well.
What else? You know, relationships are huge. So I definitely like to keep good relationships at all times, and I really like to listen to my gut. When I’m coming to a decision and I’m tossed up between, “Should I go this way or should I go that way?” I tend to stop, relax, take a deep breath, and just really connect with myself and what I really think the answer is, without any of the carrots dangling in front of me. And usually when I stop and ground myself, I’ll find the answers. But if I’m charging ahead because I’m excited about the outcome, then I’ve found that that’s where sometimes I could make a poor decision.
John Carney: So, in a way you pause. There’s no rapid fire emotional decisions, especially when there’s a big decision. Look, I think that’s all great advice, or a seriously good method to follow. Can you elaborate: is there anything you do as a daily practice that helps you prepare for your day, that might tie into all this? Because you sound like over the years you have a lot of experience with business and travel and real estate. Have you come up with that time of day – most people choose the morning – where you get yourself sorted out; then you go out, then you do well at work.
Bryce Robertson: Yea, I think the morning’s the best. You know, waking up and just fully experiencing gratitude for everything that I have in my life, and everything I’m surrounded by. And then creating an intention for all of my basic goals to be real, as if I’m already living them. And really take the time to take care of my nutrition and get myself started in the beginning of the day. And if I start the day off on the right foot then that’s perfect.
And then periodically through the day I like to take little time-outs, so I can regain clarity. So, things I like to do are yoga, or I might want to go surfing. I’m a big fan of CrossFit, so I love having an intense workout and just smashing any of the stresses out of my life. I feel like I’m shedding skin each time I exercise. And really focusing on other areas in my life that I think are important, like relationships and health and spirituality and fun and recreation. When we all put them together, those five areas of our life really build off each other and help generate even more wealth and success in business.
John Carney: So, now you’re still just as much of an athlete; you might not be on the rugby pitch, but you’re at CrossFit, which is highly demanding, and you’re surfing and you’re doing yoga and you’re looking after yourself physically. Do you plan to pick up any team sports?
Bryce Robertson: Not necessarily team, most of the stuff I do is individual. It can be done sort of as a team sport. I just completed my first marathon a few months ago. I’ve been doing a few triathlons and obstacle challenge races over the last few years. As far as a team sport, I mean real estate investing is a team sport. But as far as an actual athletic sport, I just like to do my sports, and I like to do them with other people. So, when I’m surfing, I’d much prefer to do that with friends.
John Carney: Social wave.
Bryce Robertson: Yes, exactly.
John Carney: I got it. That’s fantastic. Alright, well, if you’re an investor out in the market, and you’re unsure about where to begin in real estate, how do people find you? And what could you do to help people, through your syndication or your educational program, get in the game and start having some control over their investments and their money and their time.
Bryce Robertson: Yea, well, I would first off just say, “Hey, go out there and get a mentor and take massive action.” Because a mentor is really going to be the person who is going to help push you over the finish line. I definitely wouldn’t say wait back and try and figure it all out yourself. If you want to get real deals done, go out there, get those deals done. You’re going to learn ten times quicker than if you’re sitting at home trying to figure it all out.
Property Works, we provide a mentoring program for people who are looking to break into the mobile home park investing space. And if mobile home parks is not the thing that you’re interested in, then I highly recommend going out and teaming up with somebody who is light years ahead of where you want to be. Teaming up with them and leveraging their experience and their contacts, and just going out there and really going for it.
I mean, no one honestly really cares if you know it all or not. Probably the only person who cares is you, in the beginning. But most of the people out there are going to honor you for your courage, and for you just going out there and going for it. And you can piggy-back the experience of your mentor and the knowledge of your mentor. And if anybody else is out there thinking, “Oh well, you’re just a small fry, you’re out of your league,” well, they’re probably just jealous anyway. And they probably wish they had the courage that you had to go out there and take massive action.
So, if you want to get in contact with me, you can reach me at my cellphone which is: 714-603-1394. You can also email me at: email@example.com
Or you can visit our website which is www.propertyworkzllc.com
And we can basically take good care of things from there.
John Carney: Fantastic, so there you have it. We will definitely list all of your contact information and how to track you down in the show notes which we call the ‘post-game report’ on my website. And just to elaborate a little bit more: for someone who does follow up with you, what can they expect through your program?
Bryce Robertson: They can expect to set goals and to push themselves and to be accountable for goals and to get real life, hands on experience working on deals, and really pushing to get what it is that they’re looking for.
John Carney: You don’t strike me as a fluff kind of guy. You’re going to get right into it: day one, get your hands dirty, lift something heavy, pick up that barbell.
Bryce Robertson: Yea. Absolutely.
John Carney. Ok, perfect. Before we wind this down, we have something I call ‘the two-minute drill’, sometimes it takes a little bit longer. But we have a couple of questions I’m going to throw at you. And let’s go back to what you do to continue your education. Are there any books that you have in your collection that you just can’t put down, that you have to have close by just in case you need to reference them, and that you would recommend our listeners pick up?
Bryce Robertson. Yes. I would recommend “The Unbeatable Mind” by Mark Devine. He’s an ex-navy seal who teaches us how to gain mental clarity, concentration, and awareness and intuition, how to be an authentic leader and to avoid danger and to, like, deepen our warrior spirit. It’s a really cool book, you should just get it. No matter what you do, an amazing book.
John Carney: I will second that, it is probably a top three book that I would recommend everybody. Do you listen to his podcast by any chance?
Bryce Robertson: I have not listened to his podcast. I will be definitely interested to.
John Carney: I would say you’re lucky, only because you have about a hundred episodes you can work your way through, where I have to wait every week for that one hour to be released. But yes, check it out. I’ll throw that in the show notes as well, because I find that its good listening on my commute to work.
Alright, perfect. You’ve talked a lot about your morning ritual and what you do to stay focused and motivated. Are there any other places that you draw on inspiration other than your physical activity?
Bryce Robertson: My wife. Totally. She’s probably the pillar and foundation of my life. I really love just connecting with her and leaning to her for advice and groundedness. My wife is an amazing lady and she really just gives me so much more energy in life.
John Carney: That’s fantastic. Your wife is part of your Property Works business now as well, correct?
Bryce Robertson: She works with Property Works a little bit, and her main business is as a realtor here in Southern California. But she does play a role in property works. Yes.
John Carney: I got you. So, it’s a love story at the end of the day. You met her in the Caribbean and you followed her to America.
Bryce Robertson: Yes, absolutely. We just connect on every level, and what better thing than to have a life partner that’s totally aligned with you.
John Carney: Yes, that’s fantastic and you are very fortunate. That’s a great story. What is your number one ‘come from behind’ sort of victory that you could share with our listeners and inspire them to keep going at the real estate game?
Bryce Robertson: That’s a mentor telling me that I couldn’t do the deal. I had a deal, and my money was tied up, and I had no experience in that asset class, and I had a few days to pull the deal together. And I told this to my first mentor, and he said to me, “You know you’re dreaming kiddo, it’s never going to work.” So, I fired him and turned to my next mentor. Then I had that deal under contract a few days later. And I hustled and bustled throughout escrow and I owned that asset after three months. So, my determination and tenacity was way too big for any challenge I was going to come across.
John Carney: There you go, when one person says no, maybe that just fuels you to get the deal done even more. Well, thank you very much for taking the time to share your story with us today Bryce. You’ve already told us where we can find you and I will put that in the show notes. So, there you have it.
I hope you picked up some actionable advice from Bryce Robertson at Property Works. Make sure to check out the Real Estate Locker Room Show on iTunes, Stitcher or Google Play and hit the subscribe button to ensure that you never miss out on the pro-tips from our guests.
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Remember to stay focused on your goals, have fun, and stay in the game. I’m your host John Carney, and until next week work hard, play hard, and profit hard.
Thank you one more time Bryce, for taking the time to share your story with our audience.
Bryce Robertson: Thanks John, it’s been an absolute pleasure. Happy investing.