Linda Pliagas is a journalist, turned real estate investor, turned real estate investing media publisher, aimed at sharing knowledge and information to investors from coast to coast. In this FlipNerd.com VIP interview, she shares more about how she got started, and her passion for helping keep real estate investors knowledgeable and informed. Check it out…only on FlipNerd.com!
Mike Hambright: Welcome to the FlipNerd.com podcast. This is your host, Mike Hambright. On this show, I will introduce you to VIPs in the real estate investing industry as well as other interesting entrepreneurs, whose stories and experiences can help you take your business to the next level. We have three new shows each week which are available in the iTunes store or by visiting FlipNerd.com. So without further ado, let’s get started.
Hey, it’s Mike Hambright with FlipNerd.com and welcome back for another exciting VIP interview where I interview some of the most successful real estate investing experts and entrepreneurs in the industry to help you learn and grow. Today I’m joined by Linda Pliagas who’s the founder of Realty411 Magazine, CashFlow Express, REI Wealth and many others which we’ll talk about. She’s one of the most well-known people and faces in the industry.
Today we’re going to learn more about Linda and discuss the importance of education and networking in real estate investing. So before we get started though, let’s take a moment to recognize our featured sponsors.
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Please note, the views and opinions expressed by the individuals in this program do not necessarily reflect those of FlipNerd.com or any of its partners, advertisers or affiliates. Please consult professionals before making any investment or tax decisions as real estate investing can be risky.
Hey, Linda. Welcome to the show.
Linda Pliagas: Hello. Thank you for having me Mike.
Mike Hambright: Yeah, yeah, good to have you on. We’ve been talking about it for a while, so I’m glad we made it happen.
Linda Pliagas: Oh, thank you. I really appreciate it.
Mike Hambright: Yeah, yeah. There’s a lot of folks that know you. You have a lot of different publications behind you and your face seems to be everywhere these days. You’ve got a lot of different events going on and everything, but maybe for those that don’t know you or don’t know you well enough yet, why don’t you tell us a little more about yourself.
Linda Pliagas: Sure. I am an investor first and foremost. I’m also the publisher of Realty411 Magazine. We have [inaudible 00:02:55] publication as well as our alternate cover, Real Estate Wealth. We also produce a newspaper CashFlow Express, which not only discusses real estate but also gives business tips and information about investing in securities or alternative investments. We also produce a monthly, fully interactive digital magazine called REI Wealth.
Mike Hambright: Okay, okay. Talk a little bit about the publication business because there’s always a lot of jokes about publishers of magazines and how it tends to be more a labor of love versus a profitable business but that’s okay too. There’s a lot of things that all of us do that we love whether we’re making money or not. At any rate, talk a little bit about that as a business and how it fits into your real estate investor hat as well, the other hat you wear.
Linda Pliagas: It’s interesting that you notice that because that is correct. Maybe it is a labor of love and journalism is not a high-paying profession as a whole. Sure, there are lot of people who do make a lot of money and, yeah, they tend to be in broadcast journalism and very high influential speakers like Barbara Walters and such. Journalism really is a passion for me and for most of the people that go into the business. Honestly that’s why I became a real estate investor. Once I was in journalism school and I discovered exactly how much we were going to make, I decided if I want to continue this and I still want to be successful financially in my life, I better look for something else. That’s when I discovered real estate and started educating myself about the whole thing.
Mike Hambright: Yeah, yeah. It’s interesting that you say that. I know somebody that actually literally goes on missions around the world to help other people and literally they come back a few times a year, rehab a house, sell it, and with the proceeds from that, go do what they are very passionate about.
Linda Pliagas: That’s so awesome.
Mike Hambright: Yeah, yeah. Real estate is very interesting in that way. Talk a little bit about… A lot of folks that are in the publication business, certainly in the real estate space, or a lot of industries like ours tend to have one publication. It’s not just in the publication space but I struggle with attraction to shiny objects, so I’m always starting something new or thinking about it or driving my wife nuts talking about it. What’s the significance of having multiple publications versus pouring everything into just one?
Linda Pliagas: That’s a very good question. It just evolved that way. Realty411 started and we wanted people who wanted to be on the cover of that. So to make it more affordable for our advertisers to be able to get that cover visibility and spots that they were interested in, we decided to make an alternate cover as well. That way, we can print additional copies and cut the cost of being on the cover and being promoted the way people want to be promoted. That’s how that evolved.
The newspaper evolved because the glossy magazine is very expensive to do. Printing a glossy magazine is expensive and I wanted to do a publication in between the glossy that was more affordably priced and I was trained as a newspaper journalist, not a magazine journalist. When I worked in college, I’ve always worked for newspapers. That evolved because I love newspapers and I wanted to create an affordable marketing piece for our advertisers in between the glossy magazines. REI Wealth just happened. It’s not my publication. Another publisher started it. His name is Noland Araracap and he’s based in San Diego. He started the publication and approached me about a year and a half ago to partner up with him. That’s how that evolved. Everything just happened and evolved in its own natural space.
Mike Hambright: Sure, sure. Talk a little bit about your events. I know you have a lot of events and you’re ambitiously planning to even ramp that up more. Talk about your events for those that haven’t been to them, maybe how they’re designed and then we’ll talk a little bit about the importance of events like what value that adds to the real estate investing community.
Linda Pliagas: Sure. We have three expos around the country. They’re sponsored by our advertisers and sponsors. We just enjoy connecting with people, Mike. I think knowledge is power. Certainly in real estate, that’s the case. We are happy to provide sources and information for people that seek it. For me, I am an investor. My life has changed as a result of real estate. I’m a licensed real estate agent. The expos are one way of me being able to give back to my community, to make real estate a forefront topic for people and to introduce, maybe create a concept to real estate agents and brokers that may not have been exposed to that before.
Mike Hambright: Sure, sure. I’m a huge fan of real estate investing clubs. I think events like the expos, large events like that are equally important, because probably one of the biggest problems in my experience that real estate investors have or want-to-be real estate investors have with getting started is just confidence. I think you gain that by getting more knowledge and being around, seeing other people that are successful, whether it’s just hearing them talk or having a chance to talk to them one on one maybe. Kudos on that. It’s such an important role.
Linda Pliagas: Thank you. We really enjoy connecting with people. That’s probably my favorite part of running my business is that personal connection with people.
Mike Hambright: Yeah. I say it all the time. One of the reasons, in all honesty, that I’ve started doing the show is I’ve successfully invested in real estate for many years now, and by most measures, we’ve done very well. It could be a very lonely business if you let it. People tend to be very isolated and have their head down and running their business. You don’t often come together and talk about real estate with people, especially if you’re not part of a franchise system or a community.
Linda Pliagas: Oh, absolutely, yeah.
Mike Hambright: There’s lots of opportunity for community creation inside of the real estate space.
Linda Pliagas: Oh, absolutely. People really appreciate them.
Mike Hambright: Yeah.
Linda Pliagas: Honestly, Mike, I’ve had people hug me at events. At the events, I get hugged every other minute by people who just come up to me and say, “Thanks so much for making this available to us. We really appreciate it. We know you work hard in putting it together.” They’re very appreciative and that means a lot to us.
Mike Hambright: Yeah, yeah. In terms of publications and events, really both of those things, talk a little bit about how technology is changing your business or changing those things for you as we move forward here.
Linda Pliagas: Technology has certainly changed the whole spectrum of media really. We have lot of citizen journalists out there now. We have desktop publishing available, which makes publishing much easier to do by people that may not have been able to be publishers before in the past.
Mike Hambright: Yeah.
Linda Pliagas: Technology certainly has changed real estate as well. We have people buying real estate online all the time. Marketing is very important to wholesaling. Now we’re starting to see a lot of wholesalers send out email blasts, utilize social media to let people know about their deals and we’re going to continue to see that.
I believe that we’re going to see a lot more creative marketing along the way, not just email and snail mail but text marketing. We’re gonna start seeing maybe more voice blasts or fax blasts or just other methods of reaching out to people, because everything’s so bombarded with email marketing now about everyone’s life. Okay, what’s the next best way of reaching out to people? Yellow letters will always be very important in our business and a lot of people still get deals by snail mail. It’s still effective. It has a good chance to get through.
Mike Hambright: Sure, sure. Where do you see publications like yours going over the years to come with technology improving? I know one of your publications is solely in the iTunes store. Right?
Linda Pliagas: Yeah.
Mike Hambright: Talk a little bit about where you think things are heading.
Linda Pliagas: I think we’re going to start seeing even more publications now that it’s much easier to be a publisher. We’re going to start seeing a lot of digital online-only publications, because of course that is the most affordable way of doing a magazine. We’re going to start seeing the price of paper go up, which will start deterring a lot of new publishers from actually printing because it is expensive.
However on the bright side, we’re going to start seeing a lot of short-run publishing companies spring up where you can print on demand. For example, maybe you’re not going to do a 20,000 or 30,000 print run of your publication, but you’re going to be able give your consumers the privilege of being able to download your publication and pay a set price for that. It’ll be like $8 or $10 that they’ll be able to download a publication and it’ll look very professional. It’ll seem like it’s a real publication but it’s a print on demand service. We’re going to start seeing a lot of that take shape as well.
Mike Hambright: Yeah, that’s pretty interesting.
Linda Pliagas: Yeah.
Mike Hambright: I know you’re very passionate about it. Maybe share your background a little bit in terms of how you got started and the importance of education. I know that you and I both feel very passionate about education and learning from others. Go back and share your story a little bit about how that evolved for you.
Linda Pliagas: Sure. I do have a Bachelors in Journalism. I am a licensed real estate agent. I took college courses in real estate or about real estate at Santa Monica College when I first started. That was about 20 years ago. Since then, I have attended boot camps and training. I attend real estate clubs as well. It is for seeking knowledge and education, but a lot of it is also motivation as well, Mike, because it’s important for us as investors and professionals to constantly stay motivated about our business.
Mike Hambright: Sure.
Linda Pliagas: Because we do have stress associated with real estate, dealing with tenants or dealing with other partners or investors. It can get stressful, so it’s important to be in a positive and uplifting environment when possible. I started being a real estate agent about eleven years ago and truthfully I think education is the way to go. You don’t have to spend a lot of money if you don’t have it. Reading is probably the best way of educating yourself on any topic.
Mike Hambright: Mm-hmm.
Linda Pliagas: I thoroughly recommend reading about real estate. Read real estate.
Mike Hambright: Yeah, yeah. What advice would you give to folks that are looking to get started or trying to start but not seeing the level of success that they want? In terms of events and reading and publications and things like that, what advice would you give those folks?
Linda Pliagas: In terms of real estate investing?
Mike Hambright: Yeah, and let me throw in one other wrinkle there.
Linda Pliagas: Okay.
Mike Hambright: How to use those as tools to find, not that it has to be one thing, but I think a lot of times what’s overwhelming for folks is that there’s so many ways that they could make money in real estate investing. Sometimes that paralyzes people that they can’t make a decision. When they see more and more information, sometimes it makes that even more of a challenge…
Linda Pliagas: Oh, yeah.
Mike Hambright: …to what to go do right now. Talk about what advice you would give folks to get started in the face of there being so many shiny objects out there.
Linda Pliagas: I agree with you. I think the most successful people in business are the ones that specialize in a niche. Specialization is very important. For example in journalism, you specialize on a specific topic to write about. In real estate, you can specialize in farming an area, farming a market. I think it is important to, yes, learn about different types of real estate, wholesaling, private lending, but in the end, you have to try and gravitate to the one that appeals to you the most and stick with it. For me, it’s been land lording. I’ve been a land lord consecutively for 20 years. That’s the one that appeals to me the most and that’s the one I have success with.
Mike Hambright: Say that again Linda. What’s your focus?
Linda Pliagas: Land lording.
Mike Hambright: Oh, okay. Okay, yeah.
Linda Pliagas: I like being a land lord. That is my focus. And that’s what I gravitate toward. And that’s why I think I’m successful because it’s important to pick a niche that you can really learn and excel in. If you want to be successful in something, you have to practice it over and over again. That’s how you’re going to become successful. You should stick with a niche if you want to see success in that.
Mike Hambright: Sure, sure. As somebody that holds a lot of different events, maybe you could… When I do these interviews, I always try to get something that we haven’t heard before out of somebody. Maybe you could share some advice to folks when they go to an event. There are some large events around the country now and the quality of the events just continues to improve. Maybe you could share some of the advice that you would give folks on how to attend an event, how to get the most out of it and not be worried about being sold something or anything else, just how do folks get the most out of an event from a networking standpoint and from a learning standpoint.
Linda Pliagas: Great question. First and foremost, bring your business cards. I’m shocked at the amount of people who go to invest and don’t even have a business card and then they end up writing their name and number on a piece of paper. Bring a business card and please look professional. A lot of times, people attend the event and they’re not dressed in a professional manner. We’re still a society that bases their opinion on first impressions and you only have one chance to make a first impression. I would say definitely dress professionally.
Be prepared. Be ready to network. Have a positive attitude and be open. Be open to meeting people. Be open to learning. Maybe you’re going to hear or say things that you may not agree with, but just be open and have an open mind and definitely have lively discussions with people but always respect other people’s opinions.
A lot of times, I was an out-of-state investor for many years since 2005 and when I would attend events or go to events, some speakers or other people would put me down because I was an out-of-state investor. They would say, “Oh that doesn’t work. Why are you investing out of state? What kind of people that would invest in out-of-state?” They didn’t respect my decision and that was rude, so I would say even if you don’t agree with a certain kind of real estate niche, be respectful. Just because you don’t agree with it doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. It doesn’t mean that other people don’t find that as successful.
Mike Hambright: Yeah. In my experience, there’s a lot of folks that I’m fortunate to hear and get to meet a lot of different folks like you. There’s some people that I don’t agree with them almost at all, but there’s always some little nugget that you can pick up in there. Even from some of the people that I respect the most, I don’t agree with everything they say, but I think its always important to try to find the one or two little nuggets in there that you can… Even if it’s not doing what they say, it may get your wheels turning to kind of help you improve yourself or improve business. I think that is important.
Linda Pliagas: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. You can learn some things from anyone.
Mike Hambright: Yeap. Linda, since you very much have your ear to the ground as to what’s going on across the country, I often ask folks, “Where do you think the real estate market is heading?” I know you may have a different view in California versus the rest of the country, but as we sit here in the summer of 2014… I had to think about that for a second. It’s hard to believe it’s already the summer of 2014.
Linda Pliagas: No.
Mike Hambright: Maybe share your thoughts on where you think the market is heading and where some of the bigger opportunities are at.
Linda Pliagas: Certainly real estate is very local and still tends to be that way. I can see for California, I live in Santa Barbara which is by the coast. California has been seeing a nice recovery in the coastal region. Not every region. The Inland Empires are certainly not appreciating the way the coastal regions of California are.
Also other parts of the country, some are doing better than others. We’re still seeing a lot of smaller markets particularly in the Rust Belt and in the mid-west where they’re losing people. They’re losing the amount of people that live there. So of course when you’re losing demographic, the real estate is going to decrease in value and not really appreciate or go up.
We’re seeing a lot of movement and activity in where people are living and where people are choosing to live. That is really going to affect the real estate market all over the country. Keep tabs on where people are moving to. One way you can do that is with the Census Bureau and Census information. Also by simply calling a local U-Haul and figuring out where are the trucks being rented to and that’ll give you an idea of where the people are moving to, because where people are heading to, that’s where the prices of real estate will incline and go up.
Mike Hambright: Given that you’re one of those folks that invest outside of where you live, I’ve always been very myopic and that I try to just focus on where I… I’m in the Dallas-Fort Worth market, so it’s a large market, but I’ve always struggled with investing in other markets. Largely through a lot of relationships I built through the FlipNerd show and just networking, I’ve met so many people lately that invest thousands of miles from where they live. It’s like second nature to them. That’s been fascinating. In the context if you happen to be in one of these markets that’s losing population or maybe not doing well isn’t it necessarily a great place to invest, give some advice to folks on how they can consider investing in other markets.
Linda Pliagas: Sell it. That’s my advice. If you know that a place is losing population and people are not moving into, don’t hold onto it. There’s no reason to unless you’re emotionally attached to the property of course, but as a business, it doesn’t make sense to do that when you can make so much more money in an appreciating market. So that’s my advice. Yeah. Definitely.
Mike Hambright: How about actively investing in other markets? I’m not gonna call out any markets because I don’t want to offend anybody. If you live market and you want to get started in real estate investing and you want to continue to live there…
Linda Pliagas: Got it.
Mike Hambright: …that’s not necessarily the best market or maybe it’s not large enough to invest in, what advice would you give to folks to analyze and focus on other markets?
Linda Pliagas: I do believe in long distance land lording. [Inaudible 25:49] in California, we didn’t really have much of a choice when we wanted to expand our portfolio, because in the west side of Los Angeles, the average three bedroom, two bath home used to go for $650,000. Now it’s more like $800,000. With numbers like that, you have to go out-of-state if you want to expand your portfolio and that’s what I did. For markets that may be losing population, you can find deals anywhere. That certainly will give people more deals available to that because you’re going to see people maybe walk away from their homes or [inaudible 26:38] properties.
That creates a big opportunity for investors. My advice would be to try and pick them up, for of course the best price possible. One way that you could benefit would be to fix up the property and you could do a lease-option to buy. That tends to be very popular. Wholesaling of course is always popular in markets like that. My advice would be to network. When you do have a wholesale deal become marketing savvy, selling real estate and marketing real estate is very important. Definitely educate yourself on how to do email marketing, how to do social media marketing, how to put together a flyer that you can put together real quick and take it down to your [inaudible 27:36] and start disseminating the information to other investors. Speed is very important for the success of a real estate investor as we all know.
Mike Hambright: Sure.
Linda Pliagas: Time is of the essence.
Mike Hambright: Great, great. That’s good advice. Linda, you have a lot of different publications and many different events. If folks wanted to learn more about your publications and look into them or some of your upcoming events, we’ll add a bunch of links below the video here, but go ahead and tell us where folks should go check you out.
Linda Pliagas: Sure. We recommend our two most visited websites, which are Realty411Guide.com. That’s realty 4-1-1 guide dot com. And then REIWealthmag.com, which is for our REI Wealth monthly magazine. That’s Realty411Guide.com and REIWealthMag.com.
Mike Hambright: Awesome, awesome. We’ll add links down below video for everybody to find those. Linda thanks so much for joining us today. Appreciate your time and definitely wish you all the best with your publications and your events. And for those that are listening keep an eye on all the events that are coming up because I know that Linda’s going to ramp those up so that’s fantastic.
Linda Pliagas: Thank you so much for having me here.
Mike Hambright: Sure thanks Linda. We’ll talk to you soon.
Linda Pliagas: Okay. Bye bye.
Mike Hambright: Thanks for joining us on today’s FlipNerd.com podcast. To listen to more of our shows and hear from incredible guests, please access all our podcasts in the iTunes store. You can also watch the video versions of our shows by visiting us at FlipNerd.com.