Financial Freedom in 5 Years and Making $300K on ONE Property

by NEW YORK DIGITAL NEWS


If Lindsey Duguet can reach financial freedom, you can too. She was hundreds of thousands in debt from student loans, trying to raise a family with almost zero free time, working eighty-hour weeks, and failing to find financial footing. Now, just five years later, she’s financially free, owns over five hundred rentals, and works not because she has to but because she wants to. She’s scaled faster than almost anyone else we’ve interviewed, so tune in to hear her secrets!

Let’s address the elephant in the room. Lindsey Duguet is actually Dr. Lindsey Duguet, a physician who was the first in her family to attend college. After being told “you can’t do that” more times than she could count, Lindsey made it her mission to prove everyone wrong on her road to success. She got into medical school, nailed residency, became a doctor, and then built a massive passive income rental portfolio on the side to free up family time.

In this episode, Lindsey talks about what made her realize she couldn’t rely on a W2, why buying squatter-filled rentals for just $5,000 isn’t the best move to make, a MASSIVE BRRRR win that made her $300K (tax-free), and how to get “unstuck” when you feel like your real estate investing has hit a wall.

David:
This is the BiggerPockets podcast show, 836. How did you know, Lindsey, what you should listen to from other people and when you should say nope, I don’t care what they say, I’m going to move forward?

Lindsey:
Good question. I thrive a little bit on beating the odds, and if somebody tells me no, I take that as a challenge. Whether that’s you probably can’t become a doctor. Well, I’ll prove you wrong. That was a long 11-year challenge to get to that point. But similar to real estate, when I first started, the very first broker I spoke to said, I don’t have time for you. And that was a big challenge to me to keep going forward and prove them wrong too. So I like a good challenge.

David:
What’s going on everyone? It’s David Greene, your host of the BiggerPockets Real Estate Podcast, the biggest, the best, the baddest real estate podcast in the world every week, bringing you the stories, how-tos and the answers that you need in order to make smart real estate decisions now in today’s market. And we have got a show for you today. Rob and I will be interviewing Lindsey Duguet, who is a multifamily operator, a small multifamily operator, a little bit single family mixed in there. She’s done a lot of things, but she’s done well with the BRRRR method and long distance real estate investing, two things that we both know that I’m passionate about, and she’s proven a lot of people wrong along the way. Rob, what are some things that you think people should look out for in today’s episode?

Rob:
I think for anyone that’s at home listening to this podcast, if you have reached a plateau in your real estate investing journey and you’re trying to scale and you’re trying to figure it out and you’re struggling with it, this episode is going to be particularly impactful for you because we’re going to uncover some of the secrets that Lindsey uses to scale her own portfolio. But on that note, David, what’s one thing that’s fueled you that people have doubted you in?

David:
I’ve been hearing for years hateful messages in my DMs, shade thrown my way that I will never have a beard like Brandon’s. And I finally said, enough is enough that I’m going to prove the doubters wrong. I’m going to show them that they’re wrong about that. That in fact, just because I don’t have hair on my head does not mean I can’t grow hair. I’m going to grow twice as much underneath my chin, and that’s what I’ve gone and done.

Rob:
Well, I wouldn’t say… I mean twice as much would be like an eight-foot-long beard, I feel like.

David:
No, not twice as much as Brandon, twice as much as I would normally have on my head. You got to run your own race, Rob.

Rob:
Well, hey, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

David:
Yeah. Before we bring in, Lindsey, today’s quick tip is simple. Do your homework before you partner. We often talk about partnerships and they’re portrayed on many podcasts as if they are this catchall magic pill that will solve all of your woes. But many partnerships can make things trickier and more problematic rather than helpful. And be sure to listen all the way to the end of today’s episode because Lindsey is going to share with you her four questions she asks every partner before committing. Rob, anything before we bring in Lindsey?

Rob:
No, no. Just that nowadays, I’m thinking about starting a little side hustle raising peacocks, and you’ll soon find out why.

David:
That’s exactly right. If you want to learn a little bit more about the buy and hold peacock method, we’re going to get into that soon.
Lindsey Duguet, welcome to the BiggerPockets podcast. How are you today?

Lindsey:
I’m excellent. How about yourself?

David:
Excellent. I can’t quite say I’m that good. I clearly am the number two in this equation, but I’m doing pretty good, Rob, how are you?

Rob:
I’m doing really good. I’m doing really good. I got 10,000 steps in and we’re only halfway through the day, so I mean, there’s many more steps to come.

David:
Oh, you’re not going to become one of those people, are you, that counts that as a workout?

Rob:
I track it a lot. I just need to know.

David:
Tracking is fine, but is it a substitute for your workout?

Rob:
Well, it’s a pillar of wealth, I’ll tell you that.

David:
There’s nothing against the Fitbit people. I just don’t like it when people don’t exercise, but they say they did by counting their steps. Steps are not bad.

Lindsey:
They got that circle check. Yeah.

Rob:
I did work out at 5:40 in the morning.

David:
Yeah, that counts, right? I don’t know. I’m not a fitness expert, obviously, but walking is a pretty efficient movement that human beings are pretty good at doing. Doing something hard, I think counts as exercise. But that is neither here nor there. Speaking of hard things, Lindsey, you’ve done a lot of hard things and you are very financially fit, much like Rob’s physical fitness, and I’m excited to get into your story today. A little background for everybody who’s listening, 476 units across 18 properties, and you’ll be crossing the 500 mark in just a few weeks. Congratulations on that. Fingers crossed.

Lindsey:
That’s right. That’s a big landmark. Yeah. Yeah, it didn’t close yet, so.

David:
Now some of these properties are partnerships, which is awesome that you disclose that because it’s very common in the world of podcasting for people to claim that they have 7,000 units, but they really are just a limited partner in other people’s investments. You’ve got a mix of single family, duplex, fourplex, tenplex, all of the plexes, including large multifamily with 212 units. You live in Pennsylvania where you also invest as well as Indiana, Chicago and South Carolina, Kansas City, and Springfield, Missouri. We’ve got a long distance investor in the house here.

Lindsey:
But not the West Coast yet. Haven’t made it over there. So it’s all the East Coast.

David:
And you’ve been doing this for the last five years, if 500 units in five years sounds unattainable, I get it. But we’re going to be focusing on the early days of Lindsey’s investing and break down how she paved the way to get from there to here so you can too. And a fun fact, Lindsey raises peacocks.

Lindsey:
Right. I’m a crazy person. That is for sure.

Rob:
Do you own them or do you raise them? Do you train them for other people?

Lindsey:
Yeah, they don’t do any tricks for me, but I grew up on a horse farm and full disclosure, now I live in a neighborhood. It’s at the end of the cul-de-sac. Thank God we don’t have any HOA fees or I 100% would’ve get kicked out. But a couple of years ago, I missed having some of my fun little animal friends and one of the other physicians that I work with said, Hey, do you want to raise or try to hatch some peacock eggs? I said, yeah, absolutely. It sounds fantastic. So five years later here we are doing it every single summer. So yeah, my neighbors, I’m sure they love hearing them and seeing them.

David:
Did you feel like Khaleesi from Game of Thrones holding your peacock eggs?

Lindsey:
Yeah, I didn’t step out of any fire, so I’m not that cool.

David:
Nothing like that?

Lindsey:
No.

David:
But did you have the moment where you felt like it, for Halloween, maybe you dressed up that way, you’ve got the blonde hair, you held the eggs?

Lindsey:
No, but I don’t have a Halloween costume yet for October, so I think that’s a good idea.

David:
Yeah, you could change your Instagram name to breaker of chains. The conqueror mother of peacocks, have that really long title.

Lindsey:
Passive peacocks, I don’t know, something real estate investing related.

David:
Before we get into your backstory, tell us in one quick sentence what’s working for you in real estate right now?

Lindsey:
Conservative underwriting is definitely a key for us right now. Times are a little bit different now than when we started five years ago. It’s a little bit easier and you had more of a buffer than you do right now.

David:
That is such a good point. And this is something that doesn’t get talked about a lot. It is not, how do I want to put this? When it comes to real estate investing, there’s always going to be some art to the science. So the last five years of multifamily investing, really any type of properties that were based on commercial lending, there’s a formula that we use and it’s basically your NOI and the cap rate combination of those two things create value. Well, nobody saw interest rates tripling or that fast, and that has a massive impact on the cap rate. And even if you did everything right as an operator, you could have doubled your NOI and you could still get stuck with these interest rates increasing.
And to be fair, I don’t know how much I blame some of these operators. They did a great job and they still ran into problems because when they have to refinance their property, that doesn’t debt service anymore at today’s rates or when they go to sell it to somebody else, there’s less people that want to buy it and those that are going to buy it, they can’t pay as much because of this cap rate problem.
So I say all that to say that conservative underwriting can be a win. And many people that did not buy in the last five years that felt like, oh man, not taking action. I know all this stuff, but I’m just nervous. What if rates go up? Some of those people are looking pretty smart, and the ones that did buy in the last five years are probably feeling really good if they paid more to get a 10-year fixed rate, not the three-year balloons that some people took out. So I appreciate you saying conservative underwriting is working for you right now because that doesn’t get glamorized. We are always like, what did you acquire? How many units did you get? Here’s a picture of me signing my documents on Instagram. Everybody gets to see it, right? But you don’t see a lot of people say, here’s a picture of me taking a haircut on this property rates skyrocketed on me.

Lindsey:
Yeah, we’re definitely not closing as much as we had been, but the ones we are, we’re very confident and their little cash cows, so that’s good.

David:
Now, one of the things I hear a lot of other multifamily operators, commercial operators talking about is that the cashflow itself is incredibly hard to find. They’re focusing on value add or rent growth. Are you finding something that you feel like is cash flowing right out the gate year one?

Lindsey:
So everything we’re buying there’s a degree of cashflow to it unless we’re getting a few of these off market ones where there are complete renovations where… We can talk about some of the ones that we bought before where there’s literally grass growing in the front living room and everything like that. But we’re really trying to get cashflow from day one with still having value add that we can go in and then refinance and still pull out the majority if not all of our money.

David:
Okay. Well that’s good news for you, Rob, because you got that grass growing on the top of your head. Apparently it grows in more places than just front lawns.

Lindsey:
Oh, I give my whole family haircuts, so yeah, I can come over. I’ll give you one too.

Rob:
Will you be at BP Con? I’ll wait to cut it.

Lindsey:
No, not, but-

David:
So not only are you a barber, but you are also a doctor, and that wasn’t the expectation that your parents had for you growing up. What did they say when you told them that you wanted to become a doctor?

Lindsey:
For all intents and purposes, I shouldn’t be a doctor. I definitely shouldn’t be a doctor who is doing real estate investing and definitely not a doctor doing real estate investing with peacocks in my garage. But I grew up in a very small town. I was the first person in my entire family to go to college. Nobody invested. My parents absolutely thought I was going to lose all my money when I first said that I was going to go into real estate investing. So my mom, she was very happy that I went to college. God bless her, I love her so much. But when I said, “Hey, I think I want to go become a physician,” she’s like, “That’s a lot of work. That’s a lot of time. That’s a lot of money. Why don’t you be a nurse? Your cousin’s an LPN. She makes a nice amount of money.”
There was definitely some dissuasion from my own family members to become a physician. I still have one of my birthday cards from my dad. He’s a man of few words, but what he speaks, you listen to him, he speaks volumes. And I have it up in my office actually, and he said, “Don’t listen to the negativity. You can do anything you want and you’ll be good at it.” So I still look at that quote to this day, so I figured I have the grit, I have the determination, I can become a physician. So I went for it.

David:
You didn’t ask where was this when I was in pre-med and you were telling me not to do it?

Lindsey:
Yeah.

David:
Yeah. I had a similar experience. My dad actually said, you’re not going to be a cop. You’ll never make it. You’re not tough enough. Which is crazy. I don’t know where that often comes from. I know that the people that are naysayers don’t often mean to be as discouraging as they can be, and it can be tricky sometimes they’re trying to protect people from delusion. There are some people who would say, I’m going to be the next Gary Vaynerchuk, and someone needs to put them in their place and say, no, you’re not. You can’t even hold a regular job. But then in other cases, there are people in our lives that mean, well, that can be discouraging. So how did you know Lindsey, what you should listen to from other people and when you should say, “Nope, I don’t care what they say, I’m going to move forward?”

Lindsey:
Yeah, good question. I thrive a little bit on beating the odds, and if somebody tells me no, I take that as a challenge, whether that’s you probably can’t become a doctor. Well, I’ll prove you wrong. That was a long 11-year challenge to get to that point. But similar to real estate, when I first started, the very first broker I spoke to said, I don’t have time for you. And that was a big challenge to me to keep going forward and prove them wrong too. So I like a good challenge.

David:
Yeah. So speaking about challenges, what was your upbringing? Did you have challenges when you were a child you had to overcome as well?

Lindsey:
Yeah, like I said, I was the first person to go to college in my whole family. It’s not like we were poor, but we certainly lived in more of a scarcity mindset instead of an abundance. Nobody taught me about investing stocks or otherwise. My mom literally has $30,000 in her entire retirement fund right now. It’s not like I grew up with a silver spoon or anything like that. I mentioned I grew up on a horse farm. There were no neighbors around me. I really was a friend to all the animals and everything like that, so I did a lot of reading. I love to learn obviously, I wouldn’t have spent 11 years becoming a physician. So yeah, I spent a lot of time reading and learning.

Rob:
Sure, sure. And so I mean, you go on to become a doctor. This is a huge feat, congratulations by the way. And tell us about what it was working as a doctor in your early days.

Lindsey:
Yeah, so it’s a long road. You go to college for four years, medical school for four years, and then depending on what specialty you want to go into, it’s another three to seven years of training and residency. So yeah, it’s a lot. It’s a long time. It’s not a small thing to want to do. So in residency, you’re working 80 hours a week. It’s an average of sixty, sixty-five thousand dollars for salary. So when you break that down, it’s like $16 an hour as a physician. And my specialty is emergency medicine and trauma. I’m surrounded by people who didn’t think they were going to end up in the ER. You never wake up thinking you’re going to be in a car accident, have a heart attack or a stroke or anything like that. So I realized, okay, if I am not going to work and putting in these hours, I’m not getting paid.
And when I was in residency, my husband and I had our first kid, he’s six and a half now, but we realized, okay, we need to do something where we are more financially secure and if God forbid, I’m not here or something, we’re still having money come in instead of just relying on my W2, which I have to physically be there for. So that’s when we started to look into, okay, what are we going to do? How are we going to make some money besides my W2 job?

Rob:
Sure. I mean, obviously there’s the perception that doctors seem to do well. Is sixty-five thousand dollars? Is there kind of a point where it’s supposed to be more than that? How does that work for doctors?

Lindsey:
When you become an attending? So once you’re done that three to seven years of residency training, then your salary does increase to varying degrees depending on what type of physician you are. So there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but most of us have hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical school debt when we come out. I had $230,000 in medical school loans. That’s not an asset. That’s a big liability. So a lot of debt to pay down too.

Rob:
Sure, sure. Okay. So at what point was it where, how, when did you know something needed to change? Because obviously you get into this groove, you’re like, all right, I’ve got this W2 job. All my time is being soaked up. I need to change something. What was that turning point for you?

Lindsey:
Yeah, my husband and I, we started to look into what can we do to invest in. All the physicians that I worked around are very stock heavy, so we started to look into the stock market. It didn’t excite us very much. And then my husband listened to the book, Rich Dad Poor Dad, gateway book for a lot of us, I’m sure. And he said, “Hey, I think you need to listen to this and see what you think.” As soon as I read it, I was like, Okay, this is it. We need to do real estate investing. And it was mindset shift and full force ahead.

Rob:
Okay. And so was that the spark for you that got you actually into real estate? Or when did real estate actually come into the picture?

Lindsey:
So as soon as I read the book, I said, okay, we’re going to do this. And I signed us up for a three-day real estate investing course. There was good and bad to that. It was almost a little bit like a time chair sell that they pump you up and then at the end there was this upsale. So we were like, okay, we’re going to join this group for $30,000, and we definitely… And that part wasn’t worth it. So it wasn’t maybe the best start to it, but it did teach us about real estate investing, leverage, and it got us… Well, first of all, I learned about BiggerPockets through that. I didn’t know what that was until five and a half years ago.
I remember standing in line for coffee and one of the other guys said, “Hey, have you heard of BiggerPockets?” I was like, “No, what’s that?” So we learned about local real estate investing groups, and I went to one of those with my husband the very next month, and that’s actually how we got our first deal. So there was good that came out of the first course we took.

Rob:
Okay. And so is it sort of like you’re all in, you want to go into buying properties, investing, is it more you want to be a realtor? What exactly did you want to get started in when you were like, all right, I know I want to be in this career?

Lindsey:
So just like in medicine, we have this saying, you don’t know what you don’t know. So I at first thought I was going to be a wholesaler. I was like, oh, okay. That sounds okay. I can find these properties and then I can sell them to somebody else. Not thinking, okay, well that’s not really actually passive income. That’s not something you’re going to hold and still get cashflow from it every month. So the first local meetup that we went to, there was a guy, his wife is a physician, and that resonated with me, obviously, and he at the time owned 20 units and he said he got 20 units in five years. To me, that sounded unattainable at that time. I’m like, wow, 20 units in five years maybe I can be like him. And the next meetup we went to, he said, “Hey, I have two single family properties,” and it was a D class area, which we didn’t know what D class was or anything at that time, but he said, “I am sick of these two properties. They’re too far away. They were an hour from where we live.”
But he said, “I’ll give them to the highest bidder in this room, basically.” So I ended up saying, “Okay, these will be our first properties.” So we got them sight unseen for $2,500 each. So we got two properties for $5,000. I was like, that’s it. I’m an investor. He came over to my house, we had this paper contract we signed. He’s like, okay, just go to the courthouse. This is going to be your deeded. Here’s the keys. And he walked out. So I remember we had a bottle of Korbel champagne. My husband and I popped and we’re like, yeah, we’re real estate investors. This is before we even went to see the properties.

David:
I’ll sell this to the highest bidder in the room.

Lindsey:
In the room in a local real estate meetup. Yep.

David:
That is a ballsy move on their part.

Lindsey:
Yeah, it created some FOMO in the room.

David:
100%. And of course, you’re targeting to people who don’t know anything about investing, so-

Lindsey:
That’s right.

David:
… you hear everyone else talk about the success stories of real estate investing. You assume being an investor is a good thing. You’re not thinking about what you’re actually buying. Can you describe what a D class neighborhood is for the listeners?

Lindsey:
Yeah. So D class is where you don’t want to buy. It’s the crime areas. That was not the property that ironically had grass growing in the front living room, but it did have squatters that we found when we finally opened up the doors. So there tends to be some drugs, high crime rate in those areas versus C class, which we have some C class areas a little bit better, more working class. You want to find the B or C property in an A class neighborhood ideally. So the A class are the very, very good education ones, the perfectly manicured front lawns and everything like that, but maybe tend to be less value add. So these were in very bad areas.

Rob:
Yeah. Okay. So you foreshadow a little bit here. You buy two properties for $2,500 each.

Lindsey:
Yep. 5,000 total for two properties.

Rob:
And then they appreciated greatly and provided insane cashflow, right?

Lindsey:
Oh yeah, we walked in. They were perfect. We didn’t have to do any rehab. No, not at all. So yeah, we walked in. First of all, we didn’t ask because again, you don’t know what you don’t know. And he neglected to give us full disclosure that he was behind on a lot of taxes. There were squatters in one of the houses which he tried to remove. So he cut all the pipes and that did not dissuade them to stop living there. So when we walked in, there were urine bottles all over the house. It was a mess, to say the least.

David:
Let me ask you a question. Looking back in hindsight, how much would he have had to pay you to take these over to make it worth it?

Lindsey:
Yeah, it would’ve been a hard pass knowing what we know now. Yeah.

David:
But I mean, was there a number, like a hundred grand would’ve been worth it or 500 grand?

Lindsey:
A hundred grand. Yeah, I would’ve taken them for a hundred grand.

David:
Yeah. And that’s just a thing that never gets talked about, right? You bought a job basically.

Lindsey:
Yeah. Oh, yeah. We bought a job. We learned a lot. We Googled local contractors and we found a guy and we paid him upfront. So that was a really wise thing to do with no contract. So yeah, lots of good things. He still has-

David:
Every mistake we all made in the very beginning. Hit you on the same deal.

Lindsey:
So many mistakes.

Rob:
Okay, so you learned some lessons here. You said you don’t know what you don’t know. What would you say some of the questions should have been? What were some of the questions that you wish you could have go back and asked to help avoid this?

Lindsey:
Yeah, I think we asked zero questions basically, other than where are the properties?

Rob:
So really just any question?

Lindsey:
So any questions to start. But yeah, I mean I definitely want to ask, do you currently have anyone in there? What are the rents, all the things that you should be underwriting for, right? What’s the property taxes? What’s the insurance you’re paying for? Are you up to date on taxes? So all the questions.

Rob:
Sure. Let me ask you this. In that exact moment, you buy these houses, what did you think was going to happen? Were you thinking, oh, I’m going to buy these houses, I’m going to rent them out and I’m going to cashflow? Or was it sort of like, yeah, let’s buy it and yeah, I know real estate is good, let’s just figure it out. What was the actual mindset there?

Lindsey:
Our mindset was knowing that this was going to be some learning properties. I mean, $5,000 isn’t nothing, but it’s not huge. It wasn’t going to break our bank account at that time. So we took them as some learning opportunities. We learned more than we thought we were going to have to, but we did buy them. We did end up getting them fixed. We did a lot of the work ourselves. My husband’s from France, he moved to the US 13 years ago, and I joke that when he moved here, he was the fancy French guy who couldn’t even change a light bulb, and now the poor guy knows how to rehab everything. He changed an entire sewer line on one of these properties. So we ended up rehabbing them. We did the BRRRR method here, if anybody’s heard of that, David Greene.
And we pulled out, oh yeah, over 100% of our money on the property. So we owned those for five years. Actually, we just sold them six months ago. So we had bought them for $2,500 each. The one unit we put $15,000 into, and the other unit we put $20,000 into because they were an absolute mess, but we ended up selling them for $60,000 and $70,000 each in the spring.

David:
As well as parts of your soul.

Lindsey:
Parts of it, yeah. But we can never get some of that back. I had a nail go through my knee when I was taking the carpet off of the stairs on the one property, trying to learn how to [inaudible 00:22:52].

Rob:
When you sold that property, certainly there must’ve been some aspect of like, wow, I’m really letting go my first set of bad memories who shaped who I am today or were you like, hell yeah, get these things out of here?

Lindsey:
Yeah, it was a combination of both because even though we had a really rough start once they were rehabbed and we ended up getting some good tenants in there, they were cash flowing $400 to $500 per unit, and we had bought a duplex in the town a month after we got the first. So we were really rehabbing four at the same time. But all of them were cash flowing very well despite being in a bad neighborhood.

Rob:
Yeah. I always like to ask this just out of curiosity, if you could go back to younger Dr. Duguet, do you wish you could have avoided these houses or are you happy that you went through that journey, because obviously you’ve gone on to do a pretty amazing thing with your portfolio?

Lindsey:
Yeah, I joke about how bad they are, but we did learn a lot and I don’t think we would have some of the same grit and determination if we hadn’t gotten through all of those landmines and troubles that we had with those first properties. And we can help guide other people as well. I mean, people, they know how bad they are. They’ve seen the pictures on my social media and everything, so they’re like, Hey, I saw your bad properties. How did you get over this? So we did learn a lot and we can teach now on what not to do.

Rob:
Okay. So you buy these properties, you’ve sold them or there’s a little bit of resolution there. How did you scale up from there?

Lindsey:
Yeah. So we had those first four that we acquired. We ended up doing the full BRRRR on those. Then I started doing some direct mail campaigns, so handwritten letters, handwritten envelopes, sending them out, and we had some people reach back out from those. We ended up getting a couple of single families in more, B plus a minus neighborhoods at a lake really close to us. We still have all those properties. We got a four unit from one of the off-market campaigns from a seller in New York, and you think we would’ve learned this lesson, but we also bought this one sight unseen, and this was the grass in the living room that we ended up walking into. We got it for $20,000, very big building. They’re just over 1,100 square feet per unit. So those were full rehabs. We ended up pulling out 126% of our capital on that property too. So another perfect infinite return BRRRR on that one.
And then we ended up getting our 10 unit that was our seventh deal, just between my husband and I. So we were doing everything ourselves. I was working extra shifts at the hospital, moonlighting to fund the properties, buying them cash or traditional 75% LTV from local banks that we were using and starting to form these good relationships with. But then each property we were buying, we were running out of capital. So instead of paying an actual contractor to do it quickly, my husband was learning along the way and doing a lot of these rehabs himself. He was also managing the tenants and the properties and everything. None of this was passive the way we thought it was going to be when we first got involved, so we really reached a cap where we’re like, okay, this is another job, we’re not scaling the way we want to, and our resources are getting tapped out here when we got to 22 units.

David:
Passive income is one of the greatest marketing statements ever in the world. Just that anything would be passive. How people have been able to fool others into thinking that you’ll buy real estate and never touch it again when nothing else in life works that way. Have you ever met a married couple who’s like, I worked really hard to get my wife and then I married her and I never had to do anything again. She just loves me every day, and it’s passive love at this point. It’s like-

Lindsey:
My husband would definitely disagree with that statement.

David:
And there’s no passive fitness. It’s just funny how we’ve done that. Now, Lindsey, you’ve clearly read the BRRRR. You understand that strategy. I’m curious if you guys guys ever read Long-Distance Real Estate Investing?

Lindsey:
Yeah, yeah. That was an audiobook at the beginning we listened to. Again, I’m a good learner. The first year that we started investing, I literally listened and read over 100 different books. Not just real estate, but mindset and everything. So yeah.

David:
So with the principles in that book, was that something that was skipped when you guys bought a house without seeing grass was in there, or had you not read it yet?

Lindsey:
We probably got through that the half year. We were already a good eight units in deep and in the rehab process at this point. But it sounded like, pun intended, a long distance concept to us too. At the beginning. We did want properties that we could feel and see and drive by at the beginning, but that got old after we got to 22 units, and that’s when we started looking for partnerships in other people.

David:
But you just didn’t get a video made that showed what the condition of the property was, right?

Lindsey:
No.

David:
Because there is a way to invest sight unseen. I do it all the time, but somebody has to see it doesn’t have to be us, right? So that’s another learning lesson.

Lindsey:
We have JV deals where we have not set foot in the properties, but we own them. We’re partners. We’re very active in the JV deals. But yeah, we haven’t physically set foot in them.

David:
Me too. I have lots of properties I’ve never been in, never seen before, but someone did, right? Somebody went through, took a video, there was still due diligence that was done.

Lindsey:
Whether that’s a boots on the ground partner or yeah, another realtor or something. Yeah. Exactly.

David:
So that’s a learning experience. You learned from that as well. And speaking of learning, I understand that there’s a method that you learned in your medical residency that has helped you improve how quickly you learned. Can you tell us about that?

Lindsey:
The see one, do one, teach one, that’s the one you’re talking about. Yeah. Yeah. So in medicine, we have that saying, so say you’re going to learn how to do an intubation. You watch somebody do it, then you do one yourself, and hey, now you’re an expert after one, so now you can teach one. I mean, we definitely do that in medicine, but it’s applicable to real estate investing too, and it’s all about learning processes and perfecting them to get a method going. So I mean, just like the single family BRRRs that we did, we initially read about it, watched some podcasts, listened to the podcasts about it, talked to some of the other investors. We did one ourselves, a couple of them, and now we are mentoring people and teaching them about it as well.

Rob:
Now I’m a little nervous to get intubated knowing that the doctor may have only done it one time.

Lindsey:
Not with every procedure, but yeah.

Rob:
So you’ve said that your seventh deal was really a big turning point for your career. Can you tell us about that deal?

Lindsey:
Yeah. Oh my God, I love this deal. We still own this property. So this had been a direct mail campaign.

Rob:
What does that mean for-

Lindsey:
Oh, yeah. We use a software, it’s called RE Property Finder. You can search for any number of units, any amount of equity in the property. And at that time, we were targeting the mom and pop type owners. My criteria at that time had been owned for 20 years. They had 100% equity, so they had no loan with a bank, and we were hoping that these people weren’t running it quite like a business like they should, and these are the properties that we ended up buying. So we bought this one, it was 10 units, eight of them were rented at the time, but they were significantly under rented. The average rent in that area at the time was about $850. He was renting them out for 500, 525. He had owned it for 25 years. It was well maintained, but it was very, very dated.
And then two of the units in the back on the bottom, they were basically just being used as storage. They were uninhabitable. So we negotiated this down to $250,000 and then the bank financed the whole construction loan for the two units in the back. We learned a lot with this property too. My husband learned in this one that cockroaches can fly and that ceiling tiles can hold 13 pairs of dirty underwear too. It fell in his head when he was doing one of the rehabs on the properties. I don’t know what that tenant had in mind, but we ended up rehabbing the units. We are now getting between 1,000 per unit and $1,200 per unit. So we over doubled the rent. It appraised for just under $800,000 when we did our refinance last August on this property, and we got 275% of our money out and after the refi, we are still getting between five and five-fifty per unit cashflow.

David:
So it’s these BRRRR principles that you’re employing. You’re just doing it in the commercial space, not residential. And I’ll clarify what that is. When you BRRRR basically the fundamentals here, are you trying to buy it below market value? You’re trying to add value to it. Once you’ve done that or combination of those two, you’re going to refinance. Now, we typically describe this from a residential framework where the way that you add value to it is by increasing its comparison to a better comp. You’re looking for a residential property that is worth more, and you’re either changing the floor plan, the square footage or the condition of the property to match a comp, because that’s how residential real estate is valued. It’s actually kind of silly how that works. It’s like, well, what the Joneses pay for their house? All right, I’ll pay that. It doesn’t make any objective sense.
Commercial real estate makes a lot more sense from a financial perspective. What does the property make? How much can I expect to earn from this property if I buy it? So what you’re doing is you’re buying properties below market value because they’re being operated inefficiently. The rents are too low, the expenses are too high, maybe there’s some deferred maintenance and so the owners are like, well, let’s not raise the rent on them because then I’d have to go fix something up. And you’re adding value to it by fixing those things, you’re improving your income and you’re decreasing expenses, which improves the NOI.
Now you’ve got a property that’s worth more and hey, sometimes you catch some tailwinds. Sometimes interest rates go down, cap rates go down, the property becomes worth more. Just like in the residential space, values have been going up as we printed a bunch of money, and so it made it easier to pull your money out of a BRRRR. The same thing has been happening in the commercial space. It’s just as simple as residential real estate. You’re just pulling on slightly different levers because commercial real estate’s value differently.

Lindsey:
That’s exactly right. Yeah. We implemented what we did with the single families and the duplex, and we took it to the commercial 10 unit, and it worked wonderfully.

Rob:
Well. That’s amazing. I want to go back a little bit because you said you got 275% of your money back. What the heck did that feel like? That’s insane.

Lindsey:
I remember the day that we got our refi check and I was sitting in my husband’s truck, which the business pays for. It’s another great thing about real estate investing, business expense. And I remember sitting there in his truck and crying because the refinance check was $301,000 and refinance checks are not taxed, and I was literally just crying in the truck thinking, oh my goodness, this is more money than I made seeing thousands of patients in the last year at my W2 physician job, and we were already very much into the real estate game, but that was when I truly realized we can do this as a career and this can completely replace my salary and what we’re doing.

Rob:
That’s so crazy. Wow. I want one of those. Give me one of those. So that deal was also a turning point in another way as I understand it. Tell us about getting stuck and how you were able to get unstuck.

Lindsey:
Yeah, so like I said, this was our seventh deal, just my husband and I, and that took us to 22 units, but it was a full-time job. I mean, I was still doing more than full-time at the hospital with the moonlighting shifts to finance these deals. My husband was doing rehabs, he was doing the property management, he was doing the tenant management, everything. And we realized we were scaling, but not as fast in the way we wanted to. And we sat down, we’re like, okay, what are we going to do? Do we want to keep doing it this way? Or what can we do different to make this easier on ourselves and continue to grow our portfolio and not get burnt out? So we decided, okay, we need to leverage more, but in this time we need to leverage other people’s money and other people’s knowledge and time as well, because my time was basically maxed out. I can’t make two of me as much as I wish I could. So we decided we need to start looking at some partnerships and working with other people.

Rob:
That’s amazing. So tell us a little bit more about, you said, at this time you’re sort of taking on more properties, you’re in scale mode, but are you trying to figure out what’s the next step from here? Well, where did you turn the corner exactly?

Lindsey:
Yeah. So we started going back to some meetups. We started looking more into partnerships, and we joined a mastermind group, and that was really a huge turning point and piece of leverage for us as well. Tons of masterminds out there. Obviously a lot of free ones, a lot of ones focused just on short-term rentals, just on commercial property. We joined, it’s called Make It Happen Mastermind, and we have weekly, sometimes monthly group calls, a lot of accountability, and we’ve formed partnerships with other people in this group, and that’s how we started to scale up into JV deals, which obviously we’re still very active in as well as being GPs on some syndication deals.

Rob:
So that’s interesting because you mentioned at the beginning of this, you bought a course or you got enrolled in a course, it was really expensive, wasn’t particularly a winner for you. Now you end up going and you joining a mastermind. Was there a difference as to why one was so much more pivotal for you the second time around? Was it the people, the connections?

Lindsey:
Yeah. We had looked into a couple and this one just felt right, the vibe of the people. We were interviewing different groups to see which one we were going to vibe with. This one in particular was focused on the people in the group, do they have good ethics as well as doing deals together. And that’s what we wanted to do. We didn’t want to focus just on the education component. We wanted to scale with some more properties.

Rob:
You wanted to do.

Lindsey:
Yes, we wanted to do not just learn, which obviously we’re still learning all the time, but yeah.

Rob:
So I’m pretty curious here because I’ve got to imagine, especially early on in your career as a doctor that you’re taking a ton of calls, you’re on call as a doctor, you’re intubating people for the first time, possibly, second time. At the same time, you’re also managing your real estate portfolio. Was there ever a moment where you’re just taking insane amount of tenant calls during the workday?

Lindsey:
Yeah, it’s really hard to do CPR and take a toilet call at the same time from a tenant. Yeah, I mean, luckily my husband dealt with a lot of that. He kind of has the pager, I should say, for the tenants, and I have the pager for the patients. But yeah, I mean it’s tough to manage because at that time when we reached our 22 unit ceiling, we also had two very small kids at home. There were two, a baby and a toddler, so I had the mom aspect and the family aspect going on as well. So it was a lot to balance. So they’re tiny.

Rob:
Yeah. You said they were three and what was the other one?

Lindsey:
I think she was a year and a half old at that time. Time is fly now because right now they’re six and a half. My daughter just turned five last Thursday, and our son is 22 months old, our second son.

Rob:
Listen, hey, I got a two and a three-year old right now. First of all, it’s a hard age gap, but second of all, to be in the throes of your real estate career is absolutely crazy. Were they coming to job sites with you? Were they your makeshift handy people? How was it juggling all that?

Lindsey:
Yeah, our six and a half year old now, he actually really likes it. He says, my houses when we will go past some of the local ones. And he picked up a quarter a couple of months ago, he said, you need money to make money. So he’s definitely listening to some of the things that we’re saying about investing.

David:
So you hit a point where you recognize, okay, we need some support. We cannot keep going at the pace we’re going, we have kids, we have jobs, these properties that we bought. You’ve done really well, now, on the other end of that is that’s because you put a lot of effort into these. You pulled 275% of your equity out because you were hyper-focused on turning these things around. It is not passive, it’s passiver. It’s less passive than having to be a doctor, but it’s still not completely passive.
Once you recognized partnership was the road you were going to take, what are the questions you came up with that you recommend people ask a potential partner to vet them out?

Lindsey:
So one question that I always ask other people, especially as we’re doing some of these bigger syndication deals, is what other full cycle deals have you done? It’s one thing to say, I closed X amount of properties, but if you closed a whole bunch of them in the last year, but you’re running them poorly, it doesn’t matter. Anybody can take a great deal and run it into the ground if you’re not managing it properly. So I like to see what the other partners have done full cycle and full cycle well to make sure they can be good operators. So that’s number one big question that I’m looking for in other partners.

David:
And why is it important to see full cycle?

Lindsey:
So just like in medicine, if you get into med school, yeah, it’s a great feat to say, okay, I am in med school to become a doctor, but that doesn’t mean you are a doctor yet. You still have four more years in med school and residency. There’s a lot of opportunities to fail until you actually can be a practicing physician on your own. It’s the same as real estate. Just because you buy the property doesn’t mean that it’s going to be successful. So full cycle means you’ve bought it, you’ve managed it well, and you’ve refied it out well, or you’ve sold it successfully and not in a sale as in a foreclosure. You didn’t operate it well if that happened.

David:
And that’s just because you don’t want your partner getting stuck on something that they don’t have experience with.

Lindsey:
Correct. Yeah. Yeah. And some of the teams that reached out to me to see if I wanted to join, they were all brand new teams. They didn’t have any experience. And syndication’s a little bit of a dirty word right now too, because there are a lot of people with bridge debt that are getting into some financial trouble right now. And of course, those are the big ones that you’re seeing about on the news, and everybody thinks multifamily is bad now.

David:
Good point. Okay. What’s the next thing that you’d ask someone to vet them out?

Lindsey:
I like to see are they vertically integrated in their own company? And that’s not something that’s a deal breaker for me, but especially some of the bigger deals that we’re doing, if they successfully have their own property management company that can save a lot of expenses. One of our properties in South Carolina, it’s 110 unit, we vertically integrated this summer, and the operating expenses have gone down significantly, which means our NOI has gone up a lot too. And-

Rob:
Can you just briefly explain yeah, what does vertically integrated mean?

Lindsey:
Yeah, so having our own property management company in the building and not using a third property management company and doing that across a couple of the properties that we own.

Rob:
Okay, carry on.

Lindsey:
So that’s something that I like to see, but it’s definitely not necessary.

Rob:
And what’s the next question you’d ask?

Lindsey:
Yeah, so another one asking for their details of underwriting. Underwriting is to me, one of the most, probably the most important thing that you need to have in a successful real estate deal. Anybody can make numbers look good on paper, but that doesn’t mean they’re accurate. I cannot tell you how many times other people have come and presented a deal to me saying, Hey, do you want to do a JV? Do you want to partner? Do you want to put some of your money into this? It’s a great deal. The equity multiplier, you’re going to double your money in five years. So I always say, okay, show me the underwriting. And my husband, he’s a mechanical engineer by background, so he’s very, very nitty-gritty on the underwriting. And he’ll start going through it and he’ll look up and see, okay, your taxes are not written down correctly.
He talks to our insurance broker and they’ve underestimated what the insurance is going to be by 10,000, $20,000 at some cases on some of the properties. There are many, many things that can go wrong that if you’re not doing your own due diligence and looking at how they’re underwriting the deal can go very poorly. Sometimes they’re not putting in property management fees. If they’re using a third company, they’re missing huge things that are really going to affect your property in a negative way, and you’re not going to be making money on it if you’re not underwriting well. So that is huge.
And one of the other things that I like to see is how are they researching the area of the property? We mentioned that some of these properties we haven’t even walked into yet that we’re doing partnerships with. So are they really doing their market research? They might give us the operating memorandum or a piece of paper saying, okay, subjectively they think that this is a great area because oh, our friends, our family’s moving in, they’re building a new gas station here. It is a really growing area, but that’s just them thinking that. But then when you actually look into the numbers and the demographics, it’s losing 2% year over year for the last five years of population growth. So I don’t want to be investing in an area that is not increasing.
So mainly you need to be doing your due diligence, whether you are an active operator, whether you’re a limited partner, limited partners, that’s the most passive you can get, but you still need to be able to look at numbers and understand if the deal is good or not.

David:
Great questions there. I really like that, and that’s something practical that we can all move forward with. Really quickly, Lindsey, give us a snapshot of where your portfolio stands today in terms of the number of properties, the equity in the properties and your cashflow.

Lindsey:
Right now we have a total of 472 units. Actually next Tuesday we’re closing a 72 unit in Springfield, Missouri. So that one is going to take us over the 500 unit line, which is going to be a huge landmark for us. So this is a mix of… Yeah, it’s a big landmark for us. So that’s over some of these single family lake houses. We have a eight unit JV deal in Indianapolis. We have a 21 unit in Chicago, which is a short-term rental, hostel hotel type and bar restaurant. We have the 110 unit in South Carolina, a 212 unit in Kansas City. The 72 unit that we’re going to close, we have the 10 units in fourplexes around this area. And then across from the medical school at my hospital, we’re actually under contract to close in October, a 19 unit medical student. So obviously that’s up my alley. And then two houses down, it’s a big mansion that we’re converting into a 13 unit, also medical student building, so we have some other properties in the works here too.

Rob:
Wow. Well, let me ask you this. Is there anyone else in your life that you’ve proven wrong in reaching this point? Because I mean 500 units is a lot, but I’m curious, are there people or naysayers that may have data you at the beginning that now might say like, wow, that’s a crazy feat?

Lindsey:
Probably the first broker that I spoke to after that three-day seminar. They’re like, okay, you need to find your core team. You need to get a lawyer on your team, you need to get a broker. So I was like going down the checklist, doing my good due diligence and my action steps, and I called a local broker and he’s like, okay, well what type of properties are you looking at? What are your criteria? And I didn’t really have criteria, so honestly, to him, I probably did sound like I didn’t know what I’m doing because I didn’t, but he straight up said to me, I don’t have time for you. And that one really got to me because I was like, wow, if I can’t even get any brokers to give me time, how am I going to close any properties? So yeah, I’m sure he would be shocked to see where I’m at now.

Rob:
And to close, just curiosity, can you also give us a snapshot of what your life looks like today? I’m sure it’s very different than when you started. I’d love to hear.

Lindsey:
Yeah, the life is definitely very busy. Probably if not even busier because now we have three kids instead of just the one when we started. So I’m still working at the hospital as a physician. I actually was there this morning and I’ve actually become the regional director of my hospital system as well. So now I’m managing a whole bunch of other doctors and everything too. But I had on my vision board earlier this year that I didn’t want to do any more night shifts and I wanted to cut down at the hospital. And specifically for the night shifts, I wasn’t quite sure how that was going to happen. And since I took this role, that has happened, so that’s great. I’m a big believer in manifestation and vision boards and everything like that, so that’s very good. I’m having more time at home with the family now, some more weekends off, so more time for real estate and more time to do things like this.
I’m holding some local meetups now, so we usually get between 50 and 75 people. We’re doing quarterly. These are free, we’re giving back to the community. I love to talk about real estate investing, so it’s very fun for me to talk and help teach other people this as well. And then spending a lot of time with the three kids, obviously. They have a lot of new hobbies as they’re getting older. My husband coaches our son’s soccer team, so that’s fun for them. And real estate’s definitely helping us to give more time.
On paper now, as of the summer, we are officially financially free with our real estate investing. So it’s a good feeling to be able to work at the hospital because I want to, and not because I have to. I’ve worked very hard to become a physician. I never want to give it up completely, but it is a weight lifted off the shoulders to feel that.

Rob:
What does financially free mean for you guys?

Lindsey:
Meaning we’re having enough cashflow from our investments that if I would lose my job today, we are okay paying bills.

Rob:
Amazing. Well, congratulations.

Lindsey:
Thank you. So now we’re working on generational wealth, which is another goal. Next step.

Rob:
You’re five years in and you’ve created something that 99% of our listeners want. I’m sure in the next five years you’ll crush that one out too. Thank you so much for sharing with us. If people want to learn more about you and connect with you and do all that good stuff, where can people find you?

Lindsey:
Yeah, so I’m the only Lindsey Duguet on Facebook, so you can type me in there. I have Instagram. Cloverkeycapital.com is our website. So I’m very responsive to everybody messaging me. So again, I love to talk about real estate investing, so I’d love to talk to anybody else too.

Rob:
Cool. And David, what about you?

David:
Davidgreene24 on all social media. Go give me a follow there and check out davidgreene24.com and spartanleague.com. You can learn a lot about me. How about you, Rob?

Rob:
Cool you can find me over on YouTube @robuilt if you want long form video, and then if you want really wacky real estate reels where David makes appearances on my lists, you can go follow me on Instagram too.

David:
Go check that out. That was a very funny video that made… If you want to know what Rob looks like in lipstick, it’s a can’t miss. Lindsey, thanks for being here and thanks for sharing the story and thanks for not listening to the people that told you that you can’t do it. Keep going.

Lindsey:
Thank you guys.

David:
This is David Greene for Rob, putting the man in manifestation, Abasolo. Signing off.

 

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