Episode 54: Creating Legacy High-Performing Assets
In today’s show, Pancham interviews Bruce Woullet, the founder and visionary of Bakerson, a company that offers unique investment opportunities for unique investors.
Bruce has tried different ventures and realized real estate is his real passion. He has committed to real estate since then. In his first year and a half, he was introduced to deal partnering, cash flow, private financing, and forced equity.
In this episode, Bruce shared why he decided to transition to doing multi-family, what his goals are for the company, and how the pandemic has affected his business. You’ll surely learn a lot of real estate wisdom and insights in this episode so don’t forget to tune in!
Tune in to this show and enjoy!
- 01:42 – Pancham introduces Bruce to the show
- 02:39 – Bruce compliments Pancham’s show
- 03:40 – Why Bruce changed his strategy and decided to do multi-families
- 05:07 – His mindset when he decided to do multi-families
- 06:36 – His business focus right now and his goals for the company
- 09:29 – The challenges he faced running a multi-family real estate business, how he resolved them, and the different metrics they look at
- 13:13 – How the pandemic has affected his business and the adjustments he made
- 16:24 – Difference between single-family and multi-family in terms of investing
- 21:01 – His morning routine
- 23:36 – The first time he invested outside Wall Street
- 24:10 – The first time he invested in real estate
- 24:20 – Fears he overcame when he first invested outside Wall Street
- 25:18 – One investment that did not go as expected
- 27:07 – One piece of advice he would give to someone who wants to invest in the Main Street
- 27:52 – His contact information
3 Key Points:
- Understanding the concept of multi-family real estate investing
- Differences between single-family homes and multi-family homes
- Impact of the pandemic to his real estate businesses
Get in Touch:
Welcome to The Gold Collar Investor Podcast with your host, Pancham Gupta. This podcast is dedicated to helping high-paid professionals to break out of Wall Street investments and create multiple income streams. Here is your host, Pancham Gupta.
Hi, this is Joe Fairless. If you wanna diversify out of Wall Street investments, then listen to The Gold Collar Investor Podcast.
Hey, this is Mauricio Rauld, founder and CEO of Premier Law Group and if you are serious about investing in real estate, listen to The Gold Collar Investor podcast with Pancham Gupta.
Pancham: Welcome to The Gold Collar Investor podcast. This is your host, Pancham. I really appreciate you for tuning in today. Let’s get into the show. Entrepreneurs are problem solvers. They get paid for solving problems and the value they bring to the table. Jim Rohn says that if you want to get paid more, become more valuable. Entrepreneurship looks like a shiny object from the outside but if you ask most entrepreneurs, they will say that they have had more failures than they have had successes. Just like diamonds are formed under tremendous pressure, these failures made the entrepreneurs more strong in their business. Some people get crushed under those pressures and some people use it to get better. If things are not working out or if they find an efficient way to do things, they will pivot and adopt a new strategy. Many single family home investors I have spoken to over the years pivot their way into multifamily. We have one certain investor on the show today Bruce Wuollet. Bruce is the founder and visionary owner of Bakerson. Growing up in a bakery business in the twin cities in Minnesota, Bruce wanted to pay homage to now his late father hence the name Bakerson. After trying his hands in a few different ventures in Minnesota, Chicago and Phoenix, he finally found his passion in real estate. He has proven track record of success through how Bakerson’s nearly 18 years in business since 2002. His focus is finding good deals while his passion is really serving the residents by providing them with one of their basic human needs that is shelter. Bruce, welcome to the show.
Bruce: Thank you so much for having me on. I’m looking forward to it.
Pancham: Thank you for your time today. Are you ready to fire up my listeners break out of wall street investments?
Bruce: I certainly am. I’m looking forward to sharing out insights and how we see things differently. Hey, Pancham that behind you there’s your logo, The Gold Collar Investor and after we had our phone call the other day, I Googled it and I thought it is really a brilliant, brilliant term. You know, we work with the white collar, primarily blue collar residents but we work with white collar investors. When you said gold collar, right away it created the images that, man, I wanna use that so the first thing is, you know, is it patented or do you have it somehow protected and so I’m guessing that you do which is fine. So, I was thinking how can we incorporate that in our business because that is exactly what we are pursuing is that image of somebody that has the money work for them. For me, blue collar works for money. White collar, manages for money. And gold collar manages money. And it just seems like a very natural, so kudos to you for that name. I think it’s absolutely brilliant.
Pancham: Thank you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on that and you know, I really appreciate that. So, Bruce it’s been 18 years since you started Bakerson. You started with single family homes and transacted over 2,000 single family homes. Since then you’ve changed your strategy and in the past I don’t know like 5 years or so you’re doing only multifamily, why is that?
Bruce: Well, some goes by design and some by accident. You know, by the design and that we were looking at larger transactions, larger buildings. When we are moving houses, we are wholesaling, flipping. We were taking it down, cleaning up, selling investment opportunities to investors and we’ve started finding apartment buildings and so we found those apartment buildings and we found out, hey, we can flip those to investors, so we’ve flipped a number of apartment buildings that way just got under contract and sold the contract. But we saw what they are doing and said man we can do that too. We can do that and we can make a difference and really impact communities in which properties are located. So, we got into multifamily that way, but what has really got us thinking towards the future is what we are doing to houses creates income but what you can do with multifamily, you can create wealth. No, I know you can create wealth in single family, there’s groups that own 67 to 80,000 homes across the nation, I know they are out there. But for scalability and what we wanted to do in the competition that’s out there, we felt more positioned towards multifamily and creating a high level service to the resident.
Pancham: Got it. So, let me ask you a question regarding that. What was your mindset when you said, oh, we can do this, right? You were flipping these buildings, right? And then what really happened that kinda got you to a point where you’re like, you know, we can do this or like where you before thinking that this was too much of a hassle and you don’t wanna do this and suddenly you realized that this is a great strategy and that’s why you wanna do it like what was the trigger point there?
Bruce: Mentally, just getting your head around larger numbers and big deals. I had never done, you know, 120-unit apartment building for 6 million. And now those numbers are crazy. It’s 4 million for the same building. But, yeah, 6 years ago you could buy that for 6 million but when I have seen that, you know, the largest transaction we had done were 3- to 400,000-dollar homes in the Phoenix metro, but what the secret, what I did was a guy sat down with me and said Bruce think of it per unit, how many units are there? And the very first one we did was 64 units. So, okay we have 64 units, now pretend there are 64 houses, he walked me through a spreadsheet and all of a sudden the lights when on and I said, oh, I got this, okay, he didn’t finish his presentation and I quickly made the adjustment. This is like doing a 64-tiny houses. And soon as I got over that hump and I can do 64, we did 120, we’ve done a 107 and since that day, we’ve done 17 projects anywhere from 6 up to 120 units. Most of them in the 50 to 100 range I’d say.
Pancham: That’s great. So, tell us a little bit about that. So, what is your focus right now and what are your company’s goals as we get into towards the end of 2020 and then the future?
Bruce: So, our transition is we are in transition, we have been ever since we opened the door. I supposed you always moving with the markets and our business has been for the last 6 years is buy, fix and sell, I guess 17 projects and this last one we purchased in December, you know what, this 90-unit project, really we did a great buy and hold and we create to build a legacy ownership group where we buy and never sell. If we do sell, it’s under certain terms and it has to be a good deal but our ambition would be now to buy and to hold indefinitely. We thought, I used a sell date in the near future. What I found out is when we changed this communities, we’ve turned them around, we watched the new owners that own them, you know, most of them if random has a good or better, you know, as they moved into that long term hold and look great. But there’s a few that have gone downhill after we sold them and that just bothers me. I’m like you know what, I didn’t want that to happen. We went there to impact the community, make good money at it, but we could have made even better money had we kept the property. We realized that as one friend of mine says be long term greedy. Don’t try to make a money today, but where can you be in 10 years, 20 years from now. So we looked at those numbers and I said this is great and if I could take a little bit less today, what more in the future even though it’s unknown, it got me excited but how can we build a legacy around servicing residents and bringing investors in that shared the same passion and desire.
Pancham: That’s great. So you mentioned few things that your emphasis on the residents and really making life better for them that’s great and also for the investors. So, your strategy now is that really towards buy long term and never sell?
Bruce: Yeah. Our strategy is to buy long term so, you know, 7 to 10 years for sure but with all the clear end date insight and to kind of a little behind the curtain there I’d like it to all have the investors in for 3 to 5 years and at that point they get their capital out but they could stay in as a percentage owner indefinitely. So, their money is out and they could reinvest with us or reinvest in some other projects they have somewhere else or back into wall street wherever they see their safety and security and clearly our hope would be that they would be professional investors with us, hey, that was fun, let’s do it again. And then in a 10-year period they could be involved in 3 to 5 projects with the same money and have the return become quite huge in a sense of IRR because they have no money in the few deals yet they are still maintaining some form of ownership and that’s where we are going with this perpetual concept to keep them long-term because we feel if we take care of those residents, they take care of the property, the property can take care of the sponsors and the investors.
Pancham: Absolutely. So in case of your investors, right Bruce? Since your strategy now is to hold these buildings very long term, so you need a certain kind of investors who are willing to kind of invest and be in the project for whatever reason you are not able to pull the money out, right? Like be there for a very long term, so what do you tell those investors or in general like your target investor who is investing with you on how do you see these projects?
Bruce: Well, if they look at, if they are wall street, they have similar investments. They have IRAs and they have 401(k)s and they have other investments where they put it in a mutual funds that they may never touch. There’s people that put money into the stock market and see the returns year after year and the money never comes back and then, you know, the stock brokers or the investment advisers will help them move their money from one product or stock to another, but yet they keep it. They don’t take it and put it in their bank account whereas in historically our investors are people that had money in their bank, come and invest with us and they get it back and so it’s money that’s more liquid and I like to have people look at a more it liquid, you know, the stuff that you invest long term you need the returns that we are projecting and if this happens, this is you know, we showed the good, the bad and the ugly, you know, what if this happens? What if vacancy goes up? How are you going to address that? What if the rates don’t come down? What if they go up? And so we will build those models in many different formats to share with the investors, say, listen, here’s what we see, if rates go up here’s what we see. If rates stay the same or go down and we can share those different models because all of us are taking pretty significant educated guesses in the future. Who knows where this goes. And there’s also the population shift into Sun states that’s been going on for generation when they are moving to the south of west and southeast and we see that to continue, the demand is high. What if that bulb will shut off? What happens then? What if the jobs are shut out what is the impact to those? We tried to look at all those and break the model if you will.
Pancham: All right, it’s great. So you are based out of Phoenix, Arizona, right?
Pancham: And that market has been really on fire for many like I don’t know how many years now, it’s been great. So, as far as you know, we just did a deal where we have very, very similar start as yours where we have a very long term play and have a plan to refinance the money out and return the money to the investors and they will still be in the deal, but at the end of the day, all of these are projections, right? There is a possibility that like you said what if the rates go up? What if people stop moving? And what if, you know, something that happens which actually leads to that scenario where you are not able to refinance out, right? So in that case my question is like the investors that you have, they are okay to stay in the deal for a very long time, right?
Bruce: Yes. That’s the ambition and that’s the message that we are sharing that the money could be tied up longer than we project.
Pancham: Got it.
Bruce: On today’s data and what we see in the near future based on what the fed has revealed and what the banks are seeing, we are not going to see a big change in the next 3 years; however, who knows what if they say you need to have like right now suddenly we need to hire reserves and we are not going to 80% loan to value in many markets now, maybe a 65. Well that changes too because 65% of a number is obviously less than 80% or 70%. We tried to project ours at 65% to 70% loan to value even in the future and that way we feel that should be safe because whether they go on 50%? Probably not. So those are some of the different metrics that we’ve looked at.
Pancham: Got it. Got it. So now you know, we are in the middle of pandemic and have been asking this question to everyone, COVID-19, you know, how this has impacted your business if at all or are you changing things because of this? Or are you changing anything?
Bruce: As far as the rental, the occupancy has been still picking up, the units, you know, we are 90%, we are still very positive in that. The collections are nearly 100% every month. The second quarter was actually better than the first quarter this year in total collections. So, we are seeing the projection is still moving up. Here’s some uncertainty, how many of those people are on unemployment? How many are those people are on government benefits that run out in August and September? I don’t know, you know, we know quite a few, most of them are still working, you know, we don’t have a lot of subsidized residents, maybe 15% but 85% paid their own bills and they paid their own rent. And so far the rents are coming in. We haven’t had a big issue at that level, but where we had seen an impact is on the buyers. We’ve had the same property now in escrow now for the third time since March because the lender, one of them changed their—they reduced their loan to value mid escrow, so when they went to get the—the banks said we are not gonna do 75%, we are only doing 65%. Well, the buyer is on a 1031 Exchange it could kill his opportunity so he had to cancel all of that and go to another one. And the second buyer came in and within a week of opening escrow the lender says, you know what, we are reducing what we are lending on that property due to what’s in the future. We are taking a more cautious approach. He lost his finances. So, that is real. We are seeing that. Neither one of these were agency debt, one is a credit union, one was in national bank. Now, we will see this buyer that’s in escrow today and it seems like their lender is on board. It’s a local credit union now. So, this is local so it’s a local organization less likely to be influenced by other parts of the country because they are a local credit union there in Tucson. So, keeping our fingers crossed we will get that one across the finish line. But that has been real and it has been impactful for our buyers. One buyer went from a—he is hoping to go to a 75-unit building ended up buying a 44 unit. That changes their strategy and he is a little disappointed because he wanted to move up, he moved down in size instead of up in the number of units. So, that’s probably the largest impact we’ve seen but I think there is more on the residents. I mean I’m not gonna sugarcoat and say that, oh, things will be perfect forever and that we are doing great. Who knows? August, September, we may see collections go down. We may see vacancy go up. That’s a reality that we are braising ourselves to fix, to address and we are also preemptive strike if you will. We will go talk to the residents beforehand and can be very proactive in our communication with them on what’s coming up, you know, and our property managers have been very, very diligent on that and I hope it keeps forward. But the longer we lock up our businesses and keep them people from working, it is more difficult it’s gonna be everywhere. I mean our economy get hard and I think anybody that looks at that should realize that we are in present changing winds.
Pancham: Right, absolutely. I think in short your answer is which I’ve heard many times now from many different investors is that you’re cautiously optimistic, right? I’m really seeing everything a hard plays out. So, okay, I wanna kinda switch gears a little bit and since your background has been in single family, small properties and you’ve done so many of fix and flips and then multifamily, a lot of our listener based, people who are listening to the show they are working their full-time jobs, they have businesses and you know, over time they may have moved into a different house or a bigger house and rented out the previous house so they became accidental landlords or they have invested in one single family or two single family as a diversification strategy. Now you have done, you have seen the spectrum over the last 18 years, what would you tell them if, you know, what’s the difference between buying a single family versus buying a multifamily like in terms of the returns and what would you tell them in terms of if they have let’s say 100,000 dollars to invest, should they go out and buy a single family home or should they go out and look for syndicator who is doing these deals and invest the money with them passively?
Bruce: I like to give opinions, I tell my mother there’s yes for my advice and I always tell her I said I can’t give advice that comes with responsibility but I’ll certainly give opinions.
Bruce: My opinion on that is it depends on a few different things but on the house, owning house and a few select house, if you buy, if you have 100,000 you’re gonna buy a house and you leverage it, you get a renter in there. There’s nothing wrong with that model. I know people have done that over time and now own, you know, half a dozen rental homes with very little to no debt and so it’s a strategy that is effective, but it is a lot more maintenance, it’s a lot more hands on and you have to be willing to address that. There’s not as many property management companies that will manage houses to the same level as apartment buildings but if you hire a third party, it’s a lot more work to find the right group, hiring contractors is not as easy because if you own apartment building of 75 units, you’ve got a maintenance person on staff less likely you have to hire out or sub-out those positions and the advantage to buying a house and wanting to sell it is you have multiple strategy. You can sell the house vacant to an investor, you can sell the house occupied to an investor or you can sell the house vacant to a home owner or you could sell it furnished to a home owner or you can sell a furnished to an Airbnb if that comes back, you know, I know it’s kinda dead right now but it’s gonna come back. You’ve got multiple strategies where the apartment building especially in workforce, you have one strategy, you’re buying a business, you’re making it better and you’re selling a business. That business is real estate. And so what it comes down to is whose course you wanna bet on. Do you wanna bet on your ability to manage a house or two or do you wanna bet on a proven operator that has shown over years that they are able to produce safe and security and good returns for you. Make that decision. Which course would you rather bet on and which one is easier to sleep at night and that’s where it goes.
Pancham: Yeah, I know, absolutely. I think I always say this, that you are trading control for diversification if you’re investing passively versus if you are doing actively like you said there’s a lot more work, you do have a lot of control but then you have to spend the time and willing to take all the like do all the work that is needed to make that successful over time.
Bruce: Yes. And that transition, that transition is difficult for people that are in ownership with other businesses or in high level management positions like some of your listeners could be but they are used to making the decision and now they invest with somebody and they may wanna call up and say, hey, I would like you to do something different on your properties, so while I’m starting as your limited partner you can tell me but that doesn’t—you have no say in the direction of that. You invested with us as a company and some days those are kinda interesting conversations we’ve had where with the investors that may not like our bright orange and dark gray apartment buildings that we didn’t use on to make it, you know, to stand out from everybody else. We had one guy that called me and said those colors you do are horrible and I said well, people love it, you are the first negative caller. I think you should really—he started to give me his idea. I’ve got landscape background, I’ve got this background, I’ve got this experience in decorating and you should really listen to what I have to say and I said I would if you are a partner, you are a limited partner and there’s really—I appreciate your insight and I’ll share that with the team but there’s no guarantee we will go that direction with you and didn’t. So those are some of the challenges that individual may have but they want to be influential and limited partner that isn’t there that’s why it’s passive and that’s how tasks because you don’t have decision making powers.
Pancham: Yup, exactly. I think that’s one big thing that you’re trading control or you know to get that benefits off diversification. But that’s great. Thank you Bruce for sharing that and you know I’ve added recently a question that I’m asking pretty much everyone. Most of the successful people I’ve talked to, they have a morning routine that they follow like do you have a morning routine that you follow and if so what is that?
Bruce: You know, I do and people think I’m a little bit crazy because I follow it. Most of my life I’m pretty free spirited way but I follow a very regimented schedule where I get up between 4 and 4:30 in the morning, have a cup of coffee and I read a book 30 minutes, 10 to 20 pages of a business development or personal development book because your cognitive capacity is the highest in the morning so I do that first thing then I have a second cup of coffee and then by 5:30 I’m on by bicycle, my mountain bike or rode typically mountain bike and had 90 minutes out on the trails on North Valley here in Arizona. I get home around 7, take a shower and then 7:15 to 7:20 I’m eating breakfast, sit down with my wife, we have our morning breakfast routine and then I’m to the office around 8 o’clock. So that is my very regimented schedule right now and it’s been highly effective.
Pancham: Wow. So you actually bike every single day of the week for 90 minutes?
Bruce: I’ve averaged this year 6 days a week an average, yes.
Pancham: Wow. That’s very awesome. So I actually absolutely love biking as well but I wish I could go or I can go but I’m not going as many times as you are going. I know that’s awesome. So, now this is a great question. It really helps me because I’m actually always evolving my morning routine and this is great. Thank you Bruce for sharing that. We will back after this message.
Pancham: Have you ever wondered why the rich keep getting richer? What is the secret that they know but you do not? What if I told you that wealthy people make their money work for them into different places? Yes, the same dollars invested into different places and working hard for them while they sleep. They utilize these special accounts that have been in existence for more than hundred years. Do you want to learn more about these accounts? Then you are in the right place. Listen to the episode number five by going to thegoldcollarinvestorbanking.com/bankingshow. I repeat thegoldcollarinvestorbanking.com/bankingshow or visit thegoldcollarinvestorbanking.com. So, let’s move on to the next section of the show which I call Taking The Leap round. I ask these four questions to every guest on my show so Bruce, my first question for you is when was the first time you invested outside of wall street?
Bruce: Well, this may shock you because I have never invested in wall street. So that’s an easy answer. I’ve only invested in myself and in real estate.
Pancham: Wow, that’s great. When you say like very few people actually tell me that they’ve invested in themselves. That’s such an amazing powerful thing to say and you know, Brian Tracy one of the guys I listen to he says that invest 10% of whatever you’re on in your personal development, that’s great. So when did you invest first time in real estate? When was that?
Bruce: That have been in 2001 with my first real estate venture, outside of the personal residence.
Pancham: Okay. What fears did you have to overcome when you first invested in that property? Did you have any?
Bruce: What was that, yeah, there was uncertainty, there was a property I bought from a partner when I was in texting foreclosures, we were pursuing properties together and I was a minority partner kind of assistant to my friend Gary and he walked me throughout texting foreclosures and there’s two houses he had and I decided, you know, we’re gonna take those down and remodel them and the fear was will we find a buyer and will we able to get this across the finish line? There are two vacant homes that were really rough and it was pretty awesome because the first one we sold it wasn’t even, we just emptied it out and the neighbor made us an offer we couldn’t turn down and the second property we took to full retail and there were neighboring properties, but the biggest fear was will people like what we will bring into market?
Pancham: Right. Yeah. Fear of the unknown but you just do it, right as to say. So my third question for you is can you share with us one investment that did not go as expected?
Bruce: Yes, I can. This is—in anybody that’s been in real estate in the last 18 or 19 years, if you’ve been through the cycle in 2007, 2008 and 2009, most likely you have some doubt at ones and I’ve got a pretty big one and I’m willing to share this. It’s not fun. It’s not something I’m proud of, but we had invested heavily in—we had invested all of our money, 7 digits each, me and my business partner in a piece of land adjacent to a golf community and we were going to become golf course development experts, so Greg Norman was going to come in and he predesigned the course because he is working with a neighboring golf community, we are gonna double that 18-hole to 36-hole and we are working with the owner on that and so we invested everything we had into that. And then the market dropped in 2008. We held on into 2009 thinking it’s just gonna—it’s not going too far, you know, there’s a lot of metrics that is going to go well and we came to the point that property was worth the taxes owed on it and not what we owed on it and so we ended up almost all were carrybacks so we end up giving it back to the owners and they still own them today. So, those people got them back so it was not an exciting time but that was where I realized that you know what, it was an interesting journey but we really should buy things that create cash flow and the development was too risky for my knowledge and expertise.
Pancham: Thank you for sharing that Bruce. I know that time really definitely was very difficult for a lot of people and you do and you learn, right? Like I started the introduction to the show was the entrepreneur is like I hardly met an entrepreneur who has not had any failures, you know, so that’s great while you do and you learn. So my last question for you Bruce is what is one piece of advice would you give to people who are thinking of investing in main street that is outside of wall street?
Bruce: Become close and trust the sponsors who are managing the project. So if things don’t go as planned, there’s still an open line of communication between you as the investor and the sponsor. If you invest with properties where you don’t have the same relationship, they don’t know who you are. You don’t know who they are. Those conversations can be quite difficult if there’s a shift in the plans or shift in the projects. So, my advice is know your sponsors.
Pancham: Great. Great advice. I get that very, very often like bet on the jockey not the horse. If you get both, good, that’s great but definitely bet on the jockey. Bruce, this has been amazing. So how can listeners reach you and you know if they wanna connect with your or invest with you, how can they reach you?
Pancham: Great. We will put that in the show notes and thank you for your time today.
Bruce: Thank you so much for having me on. It was really a pleasure.
Pancham: Thank you for listening. I appreciate you. If you have questions email me at email@example.com. That’s P as in Paul @thegoldcollarinvestor.com. This is Pancham signing off. Take care. Until next time.
I hope that inspired you today. Tyler has wealth of knowledge. Thank you for listening. I appreciate you. If you have questions, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next time. Take care.
Thank you for listening to The Gold Collar Investor Podcast. If you love what you’ve heard and you want more of Pancham Gupta, visit us at www.thegoldcollarinvestor.com and follow us on Facebook at The Gold Collar Investor. The information on this podcast are opinions. As always, please consult your own financial team before investing.