In this episode, I’m joined by Kirby Atwell, host of the popular podcast, Living off Rentals. After serving as an officer in the US Army from 2005 – 2011, Kirby left the military to
pursue his passion as a full-time entrepreneur, launching and scaling two different real
estate investment companies in succession. Kirby holds a BA from United States Military Academy at West Point, and an MBA in real estate finance from the University of Illinois Chicago. While in the military, Kirby served as a Platoon Leader, Executive Officer, Aide-de-Camp to the Commanding General of the 94th AAMDC, and Commander of the AN/TPY-2 homeland defense radar site in Shariki, Japan.
Kirby shared more of his background with us, telling us that he had always had an entrepreneurial itch, and planned to have his own business after serving in the Army. A year after he graduated, he read Rich Dad Poor Dad and knew that he would be a real estate investor for life. When he was stationed in El Paso in 2006, the house across the street went up for sale and he decided to buy his first investment property. Once he was out of the Army, he partnered with a friend and his wife and they started flipping houses in the Chicago area.
Kirby talked about how they grew their business so that, at its height in 2015, they had thirteen team members and around twenty-two deals going every month. What he found, though, was that everyone else kept getting paid, but he wasn’t achieving his goal of building monthly passive income to have eventual financial freedom. He ended up changing his strategy in 2016, sold his flipping business to his partners, and started focusing mostly on investing with the BRRRR strategy. He found a government program called the HUD VASH Voucher, which provides housing for homeless veterans and built a new business around this niche.
I asked Kirby to explain the BRRRR strategy to our listeners with the assumption that we hadn’t used it before. I particularly wanted him to explain how the refinance aspect of this strategy works. He said he struck a deal with a local bank where they would package four properties together and they would give him a commercial loan for 75% of the appraised value. Kirby said that strategy was very effective, but now that the demand for the VASH vouchers has gone down, he is using the same system for short term rentals in the northwest Indiana area.
Kirby explained why he is buying homes in Indiana, telling us how it is almost as though Chicago and the state of Illinois is incentivizing people to move away because of property taxes and other factors. In the area he is investing in, there are several attractions, including Lake Michigan, and it is a great area to have short term rentals. He said that he and his wife are doing the property management themselves for these houses.
I then asked Kirby to talk about the non-profit work that he is involved in. Kirby said the organization is called Bunker Labs and it helps veterans start and grow businesses. He said initially when he got out of the military, he wanted his civilian identity back and was not involved at all with other veterans. But in 2014, he was in the first cohort to go through the program and was so impressed with the founder and the resources he was bringing in to help people. When he switched his investing model to rentals, he found that he had more available time, and the Bunker Labs founder asked him to come on as the COO. He later transitioned to being the CFO, and they have thirty-six chapters across the United States.
We talked about marketing, lead generation, Facebook ads, helping people, and so much more! Don’t miss this transparent, info-packed episode of the Just Start Real Estate Podcast with Kirby Atwell!
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