Jon & Amy Nolen have built a 100+ rental unit portfolio while raising a family & staying best friends. On today’s show, Jon reveals how he was able to go from “IT Guy” to an extremely successful real estate investor in a very short time. Jon & Amy’s rental portfolio has given them the time freedom to purchase & fly their own plane, join nationwide masterminds & smile every morning…don’t miss this episode.
Dylan: From enlisted Marine to over a hundred rental units in just over six years. Welcome to Real
Estate Investing Secrets. We’re all looking for freedom and the opportunity to live better, more fulfilling lives, but most of us were trained our entire lives to work for someone else to chase their dreams. How can we use real estate investing as a vehicle to achieve financial freedom?
My life is dedicated to answering your real estate investing questions and helping you build an investing business that allows you to change your. And the world around you, and to enable you to turn your dreams of financial freedom into a reality. My name is Mike Hambright from FlipNerd.com, and your questions get answered here on the Real Estate Investing Secrets Show.
Dylan: Hey guys, Dylan Tanaka here at the Real Estate Investing Secret Show. We’ve been at this for over 1500 episodes, so if it’s the first time you’re watching, make sure you like and subscribe and give us your thoughts on our show today. I’m very excited to have my good friend with me, John Nolen. John, how are you today?
Dylan: Doing well yourself. Very good buddy. Super glad to have you on here. We’ve been talking about this for a little while. Lucky enough to hang out. Just last week in sunny Arizona at the time of this taping. It’s uh, it’s winter and I’m in Detroit and John’s in Oklahoma City and we both have kind of real winters, so,
Jon: You more so than me, but yeah.
Jon: Yeah. So lot. A lot more winner than Phoenix.
Dylan: Oh yeah. Ni nice to be in Phoenix and spending time together. John and I are both members of Investor Fuel Mastermind, which a nation, which is a nationwide mastermind where real estate investors get together from around the nation, talk about their challenges, talk about their successes.
Dylan: We’re a big family and um, that’s how I met John. That’s how I’ve met a lot of my real estate investing friends. So, enough about me. John, why don’t you talk about. Where you’re from, how long you’ve been in the business, and kind of what you guys are doing right now.
Jon: All right. Well, I’m originally from Del City, Oklahoma, suburb of Oklahoma City.
Jon: Um, long story, [00:02:00] fast forwarding through till we started real estate. Uh, been in the business overall about 10 and a half years, but the first four years or so, it was just part-time, very minor, right. About six years ago, went full-time. Uh, my wife still had a W2 job and uh, went full-time and in the last six years, Done quite a few wholesale flips and over 120, so, uh, rentals.
Dylan: Yeah, that’s, it’s super impressive. Uh, I don’t know what number you guys were at when I met you, but I remember not even, maybe a year ago you were talking about crossing that, that a hundred, um, property threshold and you’re already at 124, you shared with me earlier. So it’s, it’s just super amazing once you get.
Dylan: Started and you kind of get that belief in yourself. That’s a lot about what we talk about at, at the Mastermind. Um, but, uh, you guys primarily focus in Oklahoma City or, or surrounding areas, right? What are you guys, uh, what, what style of investing are you guys doing right now?
Jon: Yes. We’re, uh, mainly here in Oklahoma City.
Jon: We do a little bit, um, further route to the Oklahoma City metro, but most of our investings here in the Oklahoma City area and we. Mainly right now we’re still doing flips and then rentals. Um, markets slowed down some, but it’s still moving. Properties are still selling. Um, just we don’t have seven days on market, which two years ago if you would’ve asked me if we would’ve ever had that in Oklahoma, would’ve told you you were crazy.
Jon: Um, but it’s still looking good here for us.
Dylan: Yeah, you know what? It, it’s amazing where the real estate market’s gone over the last decade. I’ve been in almost 20 years, uh, fortunately or unfortunately, but I’ve been, been around to see the, the ups and the downs and, and we’re still in a great period. So, Talking about, you know, the, the, the amazing feat you guys have have achieved with a hundred plus doors, um, that means rental, rental units.
Dylan: Kind of going back to when you guys first started, you said almost 10 years ago, right? You bought your first, um, your first investment property. So what, what do you think, like, take us a little bit through that journey from that first rental where you were really nervous and had a home inspector and you know, looked in every nook and cranny and now it’s like, I’m buying three deals a week.
Dylan: What’s going on?
Jon: Yeah, our first rental, we had some cash to. I was like, you know, let’s, didn’t know much, didn’t know anything about wholesaling, never heard about Wholesaling, didn’t know about, didn’t, you know, not having to have our money in it. So we had typical commercial loan, 20% down. We had to get, ironically, it was the easy math, um, rental.
Jon: A rrb was right about a hundred thousand. I think we paid 101 for it. Rent was a thousand dollars a month. We put 20 grand down, kept five grand aside. Emergencies, you know, the AC went out or heater went out or roof or something. And three years later we cash load zero. We hadn’t cash loaded anything and it was a 15 year am and there, there was no cash.
Jon: However, uh, it had appreciated and it was worth about 120 K. So, and at this point I didn’t know anything about 10 40 ones either. Um, 10 31. Sorry about that. Mm-hmm. . So we sold it, used those funds to buy and rehab our first flip, which again was part-time. I was in it at the time and I would, I did most of the work myself.
Jon: I knew I could hire people. I knew if I wanted to scale, I’d have to do that, but I really wanted to get my hands in and have a better understanding so people couldn’t BS me as much. Later on, did most of the work on that one myself. Took a year. and then took right at six months to sell it. And uh, from there we just kind of, kind of rolled on and had fun.
Dylan: Yeah, I think that’s a, a common journey that I hear. You know, we buy our first rental a lot of times, at least. Uh, I don’t know if you and I are the same generation, John, but I know we’re not the same generation as the young guys and gals that we know in, in some of our groups. Right. But, uh, we, we weren’t brought up on, on seller financing or, or creative terms.
Dylan: Uh, it was a little bit tougher to learn. You, you, I mean, you, you were serving, right? So, Again, you guys heard my intro, John is a, is a Marine, so we appreciate your service. Of course. Um, but you were doing something, you know, much more noble than, than what I was doing at that same time. I’m sure. But learning about real estate, you’d, you’d save up 20% down.
Dylan: And then John talked about a 15 year am What that means is it’s a 15 year mortgage instead of a 30. So the great part is, is you’re gonna pay a lot less interest, except you’re paying a lot more, uh, principle, you know, and interest upfront because your payment’s higher, but, That helped him when that property went up a few years later, it went up about 20 grand, but he also had paid down a whole bunch.
Dylan: Right? So, uh, those are a couple terms that John was talking about there. And, uh, and again, that’s, that’s kind of the journey a lot of, uh, a a lot of our guests talk about. So, John, going from going from a, a Marine, again, you know, you’re, you’re enlisted, you’re, you’re, you’re doing what you’re doing over there.
Dylan: How, what was that mind? Mindset shift from an IT guy, you know, Marine slash IT guy to, to going into full-time real estate as an [00:07:00] entrepreneur.
Jon: Um, several aspects there. I’ll go back to when I was in high school. Um, my parents had a couple rentals when I was a kid growing up when I was in, I think I was a senior in high school, 17.
Jon: People moved out. One, they’ve been there for about 10 years, and we’ve all been in that house. We’ve all been in that house where the dogs never went outside. Wood floors smelled great, and since I was in high school, I got the job of fixing it. And, uh, that was an interesting experience by itself. But at one point I was bleaching the floors trying to get the smell out, which now I know how to get the smell out better.
Jon: But, um, I said something to my parents about, you know, why aren’t you upset? You know why? I would be, I would be furious. I said, well, you know, we’re not happy about it by any means, but they already paid off the mortgage. I was like, what? So it’s kinda like, free money for the rest of eternity now. Okay. And they’re like, well, I mean, kind of.
Jon: And that kind of got, got my mind thinking. It just [00:08:00] kind of put that little, uh, little seed in my brain later on. Got outta the Marine Corps, was working here in Oklahoma City and. Amy and I just, we, I had talked about eventually we needed to get rentals because people had paid on the mortgage, and then we’d have this asset that we own free and clear, and we would get the funds or the, uh, rent checks after that and just be infinite returns at that point.
Jon: I wish I would’ve known back then that there are ways to buy property and rent it, get your money back out, and not have any money in it, and be infinite. Forever. But hey, we all, we all have to start somewhere. And it was a good building block for me.
Dylan: So I was gonna bring Amy up next. So John and Amy are a husband and wife team, and, um, I know Jamie, uh, Amy has her real estate license.
Dylan: So, uh, I guess take us through John. You know, a, a lot of people when they get started, they have [00:09:00] partners and it isn’t necessarily their life partners. Sometimes they’re just, you know, bros, right? And then they end up in an argument three years later and, and they hate each other and they sell all their properties.
Dylan: But obviously that’s not what’s happening with you and Amy. You guys are a super awesome team. I’ve seen you guys, you know, firsthand. I know that you’re really happy together in life. You have a great family. And, um, and your business partner. So I guess, you know, take us a little bit through the dynamics of being married to your business
Jon: That’s a good, good thing to touch on because it’s not easy all the time. Um, and she’ll say the same thing, uh, but she and I both grew up with parents who were entrepreneurs who worked together. So it wasn’t a foreign concept to us like it is most people, um, and really I’ll kind of expand on it, but it boils down to staying in your.
Jon: Um, there’s different aspects that she has that I’ve, as a bi partial owner, as a partner, I’ll talk to her about it, but I don’t get in and say, Hey, we’re gonna change this. Uh, so that’s been interesting. When I first started full-time, it was me [00:10:00] full-time. She still had her W2 job. Uh, I wanna say it was almost four years ago.
Jon: Um, she was laid off from her W2 job. That’s when she joined in and started working full-time with me. And it was a transition. It was a little bit rocky at times cuz there was that tension. Uh, but we kind of settled in finally on what our strengths were. Uh, I remember it was Jerry Green, um, Amy was talking to once and we were very stuck on the labels of who is the.
Jon: Uh, visionary and who is the integrator? Who’s the c e o and who’s the c o o. And we were really kind of stuck trying to make ourselves fit in those defined roles and we really are kind of a, a mesh of those. And he finally was like, forget the names, forget the titles. Just map out what you do well, what she does well, and figure it out.
Jon: And that’s where we, when we really started clicking, uh, we are both have a lot of [00:11:00] visionary aspects. We. See things and have some great ideas, but I’m the one that stops and goes, okay, that would be awesome, but hang on, we’ve gotta do this, this, and this first, which that’s come in handy at times. Um, especially with a project we’re working on.
Jon: But at the same time, it can can be a little tough for her when I’m like, just shooting feels like shooting down everything.
Dylan: Yeah. And, and a lot of times it seems like it’s the, it’s the, uh, the other half, right? It’s the wife who’s telling us crazy guys like, Hey, before you take over the world, you know, put your, you know, put your shoes on first.
Dylan: Mm-hmm. , you know, but, uh, yeah. And, and I think it’s a great balance. So what would you say, uh, the biggest challenge is, um, to, to having a partner? Whether, whether it, whether it’s Amy or wife or, or anybody,
Jon: keep it in mind that they have viewpoints. Their viewpoint may be different than yours. It doesn’t mean it.
Jon: If you can put yourself in their frame of mind and understand where they’re coming from and why they’re making this decision or why they have this opinion or what whatnot, doesn’t mean [00:12:00] it’s right, but that enables you to have a much better leg to stand on, right? There’s times you’re gonna be wrong and you need to just deal with it and go with it and let them be right.
Jon: You don’t have to be right all the time. Um, by the same token, I’m a big details person. Details matter. They matter. So, , but sometimes the little details don’t really mean that much. They can be set aside to work better with somebody. Yeah. Uh, I’m a big systems person and if we miss one step in a system, I’m like, Ooh, you know, on this rehab, you know, we, we’ve skipped past this.
Jon: We didn’t do it, uh, in the order we should have. But for that exact situation, it made sense. But that’s something that Amy and I have kind of gone back and forth on where I’m like, whoa. We, we violated the system. She’s like, okay, but this house doesn’t have gas, so it doesn’t matter that we didn’t check off that we got gas services turned on.
Jon: Bad example, but.
Dylan: No, no, that’s good. And, um, I mean, that, those are real life examples. So the, our listeners and watchers, if you guys are thinking about having business partners, whether they’re, again, your life partner or, or just some schmo you met at a, at a bad breath, coffee, RIA or meetup, you know, at a, at a meeting.
Dylan: um, you know, t take what John’s saying because this is real life, and, and John’s super duper humble and he’s, in my opinion, very, very successful for multiple different reasons. Um, but pay attention to that. So let’s flip it over, John, and say, what, what’s the biggest advantage to having a business partner?
Jon: just like four eyes are better than two. Two brains are better than one. So getting another viewpoint, um, is one, because when you’re brainstorming, when you’re trying to think of things or when you have a problem, any problems are gonna, Having more than one person think about ways to get out of it or ways to solve it is huge.
Jon: But then, um, when you’re getting into other partners, like external partners, uh, you get into being able to use their network or have [00:14:00] access to their network if they have capital, um, their experience, those things can really make a huge difference. And I wish when I first started really full-time, I would’ve embraced.
Jon: Team aspect more. We hired a team and we had employees, but um, I could have easily gone straight into multifamily, right into apartments. And I didn’t because I was hesitant. Cause I didn’t really trust team members that I didn’t know very
Dylan: well. Yeah. And when you say you wanted to leverage them more, why don’t you go a step deeper and explain what you mean by that?
Jon: Uh, well, with, for example, large apartment complexes, I, I don’t have the capital to just take those down by. Um, I had some capital when we started, but not anywhere near the millions of dollars it’s needed to buy an acar apartment complex. Um, so being able to leverage them in that respect of maybe they have the funds or they know people who have funds or they know somebody who can raise money, um, that can be an aspect.
Jon: If it was a, you know, if we [00:15:00] found a property and it wasn’t here local, we would need somebody to manage the property, have oversight on the property. Finding the deals, doing the due diligence, it all can be split up. It is multi-family, especially in commercial is a team.
Dylan: Yeah, I think, I think there’s a big difference, and I know we’ve got, um, you know, we’ve got folks who listen and, and watch this show who are interested in multi-family or who are already multi-family investors.
Dylan: Maybe they even leapfrogged right over, um, residential. But that’s one thing I’ve seen. I’ve only done one larger multi-family project personally, but, uh, it’s a lot easier for John and Dylan and uh, and Amy to partner on a deal when. Big bank buildings versus one little house. And there’s nothing wrong with one little house, but there might be a 30 or $50,000 profit, whereas it could be a multimillion dollar profit many years down the line, most times with with multi-units.
Dylan: So, um, yeah, that’s a great example. John, and I wanna throw you a softball here. What is the best part of having Amy as your partner?
Jon: Ooh, I wasn’t expecting that one. Um, I think it really is with her specifically because our minds do work alike. Quite a bit. Um, so it’s easy for us to be on the same page most of the time.
Jon: Um, that has really, really been
Dylan: a big. Yeah. No, that’s awesome. And like I said, I, I know John and Amy personally, so I’ve seen ’em together and, and they get along really well. And, uh, you know, I’m old enough to have seen people who don’t get along well, or, or, you know, I’ve got a good enough nose for when I can kind of smell something funky going on.
Dylan: And, uh, and it’s super important to have that. Support, not even support, like you said, you guys are your own mastermind and that’s really the definition of a mastermind is two brains are better than one, four brains are better than, than two, and so on and so forth with solving problems. So, and it helps a lot when the person who’s solving the problem with you is directly affected by the outcome, not just your buddy Dylan, who you see every quarter.
Dylan: Right. When, when we go out of town together.
Jon: Yeah. And another aspect that is very beneficial, and I should have thought [00:17:00] about this when I said selecting a partner, having the same. Having your goals aligned makes a partnership so much more realistic and successful. If your goals are separate, then you’re gonna be pulling at different directions.
Jon: Um, and that’s one of the thing. Another one of the things that’s really great with Amy and I working together is we have the same goals. Our goals literally are the same, so we don’t have that push and pull all the. Yeah, that, that’s
Dylan: definitely super important. Um, even, even personally and professionally, if you guys are, are looking to do partner deals or if you have a partner, make sure that you, your, your, um, you know, your, your personal thoughts are aligned in some, some way, shape or form.
Dylan: Because if you think everything’s red and that person thinks everything’s blue, even in your private life, that’s, that’s gonna cause a, uh, you know, caused some kind of a riff at some point. But there’s a lot of great partnerships that have, that have, uh, you know, lasted the test of time. So I talked about you being super humble, John, and, and you can jump in whenever you want, um, and, and tell me you want to tell your own story, but what do you think, [00:18:00] um, what do you think, I know you had your parents, you talked about that, and not everybody grows up with, with entrepreneurial parents or especially both, you know, both partners.
Dylan: Mm-hmm. , uh, parents. But what do you really think that the secret to, to your success has been over the last, you know, call it fi five or six years?
Jon: Um, I honestly, I say a lot of my successes due to Amy’s support. Um, we all have those times that we get down on ourselves. We have a bad day, we have a bad week, we have a bad month, and we think, oh God, what am I doing?
Jon: Should I really be doing this? And, um, whether I have that more or less than you or anybody else, I don’t know. Um, it’s not something people talk about much. We, we all ride
Dylan: the rollercoaster as entrepreneurs, right? Oh.
Jon: Oh yeah. And she has always been there to say, Hey, it’s all right. We’ll figure it out.
Jon: We’ll figure it out. Um, she also, with her being a visionary, is always thinking of, Hey, what else can we do? It’s not just, okay, yeah, you got, you got your five rentals, great. You hit that perfect. She’s always thinking bigger. She’s always pushing me to grow and do more. And, um, that’s been huge. That’s, she has.
Jon: The top thing for me past that, uh, systems, you have to have systems if you have, no matter what they are. When you have systems and you’re predictable, you can have predictable results and success can follow. Then as things change, you can make adjustments to your systems. You can modify ’em, you can, you know, do a U-turn if you have to.
Jon: But having those systems to where things are predictable. If you lose a, a teammate, if somebody’s sick, if somebody goes on maternity leave, it’s not just a, oh God, what do we do? I don’t know. Manage the properties. You, you have documentation of some kind or a software system that does it for you, you through it.
Jon: Um, otherwise you’re just always shooting from the hip and that that doesn’t work. Yeah. And I, I
Dylan: imagine, uh, I, I’m assuming anyways, that, that your military background sl, you know, ha, has, has CRE helped create you to be more of a systems-oriented person. Uh, maybe that, that’s a little bit natural, but I know in the military only from what I hear from you guys, you have all these check downs and, you know, everything is a checklist.
Dylan: Right? And, and you’re a pilot too. We can talk more about that later. And there’s a, there’s a. You may know called the the checklist manifesto. And it’s written by a pilot because if one checklist, it’s, it’s a really short book, but if one checklist item gets missed, it could mean, uh, a lot of damage. Right.
Jon: Yeah. It could kill people. Right. Um, I’ve heard of the book. I haven’t read it, but I’ve heard of it. And um, yeah, being in the military, um, did help me with that sum. I always, looking back now, um, I can see that I’ve always been a very detail oriented. Follow the checklist type person. Um, so [00:21:00] that, that helps.
Jon: But being in the Marine Corps really kind of solidified it. You see what you can do with systems and you can have people with different strengths, different weaknesses. If they’re all following the same system, then collectively they can move forward and, uh, do amazing things together if they’re all just kind of doing their own.
Jon: And they’re, they’re not gonna take the hill. Um, and then, yeah, in aviation, same thing. Um, Amy thankfully doesn’t get annoyed. I am crazy about my checklist. I’m always doing the entire checklist. It doesn’t matter if it seems redundant or seems, oh, well I just did that five minutes ago. Nope. We’re at this phase.
Jon: I do this checklist. I move forward. I don’t wanna crash . I don’t wanna die. I don. We, I fly with her and the kids in the plane. Um, it’s your whole life. Safety is paramount. Yeah. It’s my whole life. So, um, systems is really, really it for me. And [00:22:00] that’s, we’ve got another project that we’ve started recently that, um, we’ll be coming out later this year.
Jon: That systems based awesome.
Dylan: No, that’s, that’s super duper great advice. So, so John, if I met you at a, at a Rio group or a meetup and I was lucky enough to, to come up and bug you, and beg you to, to let me take you, you know, for a coffee and we were having that coffee and you gave me the same advice, right?
Dylan: Like systems are are paramount for you and it doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out or if you have 120. Properties or 124 properties. Right. So in, in, in a minute or two, like how, how would you explain to me just to get started on how to start building out some very simple systems?
Jon: Um, well, I’ll tell you what my very first system was, I used, and this is very, very basic, but I had a notepad.
Jon: I would drive for dollars. I was very specific in how I took my notes. So it wasn’t just scratch the address down, it was address, and then what made. Actually write down this address and keeping that in the same format. So it was easy to go back if I needed to go back and look something, or if I, if it was a few days before I input it into the system, I knew what was gonna happen.
Jon: But past that, that’s kind of embarrassing at this point. But my first C RM that I used was Excel. I, I think we’re at 30, 40 properties and I was still using Excel and filling out all the columns and you know, the spreadsheet. That long, but it worked for me. Um, so I would say find a system that works for you and helps people go and they pick systems because they embrace things that they’re good at.
Jon: But what they really need to do is find a system that helps on things that they’re not good at. Does that make sense? Yeah. Just like strength. Strengthen your weaknesses. Yeah, just like teammates. You wanna strengthen your weaknesses and find a system that. Handle that. Uh, you know, there’s a pharmacist that has a d d uh, well, obviously it’s really important for them to make sure that they don’t mess up when filling somebody’s prescription.
Jon: And, uh, I know some, and they have a exact way that they do it every time the bottles are turned a certain way and that they’re always consistent with that.
Dylan: Yeah, I, I think we encounter, and I, I don’t know who talks about it, but I, I hear somebody in, in one of our meetings talk about it. You know, we, we get hit with so many decisions, um, that we have to make ev every second, and then there’s all these subconscious things happening too.
Dylan: So, like today, perfect example, John. I had to go to Target to get new AirPods. Because my main AirPods, uh, the, the case and the one that wasn’t in my ear is at my office, right? Cause I had to go to my office this morning before he shot the podcast. And I’m like, well, I guess I get a backup here. But what did I do?
Dylan: I put ’em in that little weird pocket, right? That Levi’s made for change or whatever you’re supposed to put in there. And it’s become my AirPod pocket, right? In the last [00:25:00] 10 years or seven years. And I didn’t put ’em back where they. , and I’m doing a show with you, and there’s no way that I’m gonna do a show with anybody and have that speaker blaring so that this mic hits it and like, it’s just unprofessional.
Dylan: It’s not how I roll, right? So I had to go and get new AirPods. Why? Because I didn’t follow my system. Mm-hmm. . And that cost me time. It cost me money. Luckily it was super easily solvable. Um, but. I felt really irritated and you know, like as you’re getting up there a, an age like me, you start forgetting important things like that.
Dylan: But, um, but yeah, I, I love what you said about just starting out with a yellow pad and figuring out what works best for you because there’s so many tools and we get, you know, I always tell guys, uh, especially like the, the younger guys who get started, they wanna start. With their crm and they want to have all these websites and cool stuff, and I totally understand that, but they don’t have anyone calling ’em yet to buy, to buy their houses from them, or they’re not making offers yet.
Dylan: So I’m like, guys, before you do that stuff, let’s get offers first, then, then start your systems. However, you can start your offer system right away, or you can start your [00:26:00] searching system. I e right? You’re, you’re driving for dollars and you know, I have a friend when he walks through houses, he has a. I dunno if you called it a crib sheet.
Dylan: Some weird thing. And he has these like marks that he makes cuz he doesn’t want to talk to anybody. He doesn’t wanna, you know, he can get through a house just like you and I literally in three minutes. Mm-hmm. and the furnace is a, is the first thing he writes about. Right? The roof is the second or, and it would be obviously more an order from outside to inside, but you understand what I’m saying?
Dylan: And he’s got his weird system and he’s a fabulous investor and he probably looks nuts, right? Because he is got like 3, 2, 180 5 and he is like, oh, it’s a bye. Got it. And, oh,
Jon: Go ahead. No, you please. I was gonna say, uh, that reminded me systems go further than just software. I, I was hitting on software then also writing stuff down.
Jon: But having a buying system, whether that’s, that, that goes into lots of details. It’s, you know, how you talk to sellers, how you find the sellers, um, how you follow up, having a system of when you talk to them, you’re gonna cover this, this, and this, and how you’re gonna do [00:27:00] it. Uh, I’ve been through, Number of different sales trainings and all of ’em really focus on having a sales system.
Jon: Um, but then also when you’re going through a house, you mentioned that he has that little ticker. I do. Not quite just like that, but I have a very specific way. I lay out my notes when I’m in a house talking to somebody. Uh, I put their name and their address in the upper left, the specific way. I’ll go through and I’ll see people.
Jon: Need new kitchen, need four cabinets, three doors. I’ll just put little up at int door and tick marks. Then the upper right, because once I forgot to find out about the hvac, I write down roof, hvac, hot water tanks so I can make sure that I get the dates of all of those I don’t pay the most. I, I get scatterbrained sometimes, especially when I’m in somebody’s house and I’ll forget those things or I may ask ’em and then forget to put ’em.
Jon: So having those notes is very important for me.
Dylan: Well, and, and you talk about follow ups. So you and I have bought a lot of houses from private sellers and, and sometimes, believe it or not, we may have talked to them 5, 6, 7 years ago. In my case, sometimes it’s even over 10 years. Um, so I have no, first of all, we don’t really know what’s changing day to day, but I have no idea three weeks ago what their furnace looked like.
Dylan: So if I didn’t take notes, whether it’s audio and having it transcribed, and we’re going a little bit deep, but it’s really simple. The easier it is for you to make a decision faster when you’re speaking with a private seller, the quicker you’re going to do more business because, uh, when they call you it, it’s time for you to, like, you need to be able to make a decision quickly because it’s so hard to get people to call you.
Dylan: Right. And a lot of times we’re dealing with folks who are in distress and they have things going on in their life that I’m lucky to never have had to deal with myself. So I don’t know where they’re at, but they’re looking for us to solve a problem. And the more data we. Makes it easier for us to solve problems, hopefully,
Jon: And handling that, um, in a efficient way with them. When I say efficient, I don’t mean in a negative way. I mean, having it there, you can look at it quick, and then when you go to sell the property, I don’t know how many times that Amy would say, you know, we, we flipped it. Then she’d get a question, you know, how old is the roof?
Jon: Oh God, I don’t know. Let me go back and look at my. It comes in handy then as well. Mm-hmm. . Um, now we, now we’ve transitioned to where we keep that in our crm, but, um, so anybody can get it.
Dylan: No, that’s, yeah, that’s good stuff. So John, let’s, let’s switch gears a little bit. Uh, let’s talk about networking. So, um, we know each other because of networking, kind of like super networking, um mm-hmm. , but, but what has networking done for your business and when, when you first started really focusing on networking, you know, I guess how did you start to where you are today?
Jon: Networking is very huge and. On the DISC profile, if you know the DISC profile, which has behavior styles, I am completely on the left. I am not a relationship type person. I’m a very task oriented person, so that makes it a little bit more, well, a lot more difficult for me cuz I’m just more introverted and focused on tasks a, a, checklists.
Jon: Um, but when I first started, I was going to the, uh, RS here in Oklahoma City, um, trying. Network be. Bill will find out, you know, who was wholesaling, who was doing this, who was doing that. When I first started wholesaling myself or marketing to wholesale, it was because I was just trying to buy rentals at first, and people had their little list.
Jon: Most of the wholesalers had a little list of people that they would call when they had good properties, and I was never getting an opportunity to get those. Even if I was gonna pay more, they didn’t know because they wouldn’t send to me. So finally, I. All right. Forget it. I’ll just start advertising and start buying them myself.
Jon: Um, but went to the [00:31:00] Rios, um, and that was really pretty much it of what I did. I have not been a great networker, um, until the last three, three and a half years. Um, forced myself to get outta my comfort zone. Went to a million dollar meeting. Went to join investor fuel. Just really, really focus on making those connections.
Jon: And once I make the connections, I’m not the best, I’m not near as good as you are with, uh, your postcards, um, but reinforcing them as time goes on.
Dylan: Yeah, I, I think, um, uh, When you’re a, a good person that shines through regardless, especially when you’re around people for a certain amount of time. And I don’t know all the, the right actual, like psychology words, but once you’ve known somebody a few years and you’ve gotten in, in, um, you know, involved with their, with their business, uh, you know, from a, from a little bit of an outside level or had investor fuel, a lot of people maybe don’t know what we do there, but it’s a, it’s a mastermind.
Dylan: So an example is John is, and Amy will get up and they’re gonna talk about, you know, [00:32:00] what they’ve done. Previous quarter, but it’s not about bragging. It’s about here’s, here’s where we’re stuck and we wanna get unstuck here. Who’s done this? And there’s other guys in gals from Oklahoma, uh, city, you know, in our, in our group, a couple few.
Dylan: And then there’s people from all over the country. So you can get those answers and sometimes, you know, it, it really just changes everything. But when you hear some of the stories, some of the personal stuff, and, and you don’t have to get up there and share personal things, but a lot of times it comes out.
Dylan: and, uh, I think there’s just, especially for guys, like we all think we’re tough and all this, you know, all this jazz. And then when you, when you start talking about some things and kind of letting your guard down a little bit, uh, there’s some, you know, you’ve got a couple great friends in there and I know that, and like you guys are always together.
Dylan: You’re always eating, you know, at, at dinners together. Mm-hmm. not that you’re not branching out, but like, you’re excited to see a, a few specific faces Right. When you, when you get to, when you get there. And, uh, I, I think that goes, goes to your networking, you know, it. You’re not the kind of guy I was talking to, 9 million people, but you get those, you build those deep relationships and a lot of times tho those really [00:33:00] carry you a lot further.
Dylan: I’ve met 10 tens of thousands of real estate investors, honestly, or wanna be real estate investors in my career. And I, I talk to probably 10 people regularly. So it’s, what is that? You know, 10% would be a thousand. So it’s like one 10th of a percent,
Jon: something like that. One 10th, 100th.
Dylan: Right. So you got, you gotta weed through a lot.
Dylan: But, um, when you get those relationships, you know, it, it’s, it’s really, uh, real estate is a, it’s a kind of a lone wolf business, they say because it, real estate investing, because you don’t always have partners and when your partner is your better half, then you guys don’t have to really go outside of yourselves either too much.
Dylan: But then when you. I think, I’m sure, um, once you did start networking a lot, you probably grew a lot more because your eyes were open. So l like at what point, when you go back to Amy being the visionary, John, at what point were you guys like, hey, we’re, we’ve bought a few rentals and you know, like we’re kind of successful at this.
Dylan: We’re not, um, you know, geniuses, but we’re doing okay or maybe flipped a few. And then when, [00:34:00] when did it go like gangbusters from a few deals a year to dozens?
Jon: Um, I think that it kind of went in a few stages. The first year, um, I was the only buyer that we had. I was the only acquisitions manager that we had, and so we were really capped at how much we could do.
Jon: But also at that time, um, our kids have had some medical issues and I was having to take off quite a bit of time, um, every day or every. Uh, for those issues. So we were really capped on time. Um, hired our first acquisition manager, uh, a little over a year after we had, I had gone full-time and that immediately bumped our numbers up.
Jon: I, it was just being able to leverage other time, spent more in advertising, got more leads, and was
Dylan: the acquisition manager is out there trying to buy houses for, for John and Amy,
Jon: right? The leads come in. They would talk to our lead manager. Our lead manager would set up an appointment for our acquisition manager, go out.
Jon: And [00:35:00] it’s not a go out and just make check marks or just look at the house. It’s really going out and sitting down and finding out what’s, what’s, what’s going on. We may not be a fit for you and if not, that’s fine, but let’s, we can see if we may be a good fit or not. Uh, but then wanna say it was about. A year and a half ago, a little over a year and a half ago, I think is when we really, really got crazy, uh, changed some of our marketing around, got on TV and had a very, very, very good response, uh, from TV here in Oklahoma City.
Jon: And that, I think the second month we were on tv. Um, I ended up getting 10 contracts in one day, which for me is a record that was, it was a, oh, I was so worn out at the end of that day, but it was totally pure adrenaline, totally. Yeah,
Dylan: so, so you guys are advertising on TV and your commercial says something about you guys buy property for cash and you know, distressed homes or whatever.
Dylan: And, uh, like where I’m from here, there’s no cash [00:36:00] for homes, guys on tv. I’m not kidding. I’ve never seen one in Meher Detroit. So there’s a lot of listeners and, and viewers maybe who’ve never seen that. And from those TV ads, you were literally able to lock up 10 properties from separate sellers. This wasn’t one guy or Gale, right.
Dylan: 10 separate properties one day.
Jon: Yeah. I wanna say it was five sellers. There was a small package. Yeah. So, um, but still it was a, it was a, a very busy day. Now, I didn’t have first contact with all of them that day, but several of them I did. And I, the 10th one I was coming home and I was, I, I generally would not take appointments same day if somebody.
Jon: Yeah, we’ll schedule a time come out. Yeah. It would’ve
Dylan: to be a possible home run, basically, right?
Jon: Yeah. Well, this lady called and she was in a very, very bad state, emotionally and um, financially, and I was like, I’ll come by, it’ll be late, but if that’s okay with you, I’ll come by. I came, got to her house like eight 30 at night and it was a very, very sad situation.
Jon: We were able to help her. Um, but you just, you do what you have to do. And that’s what it really is all about, is helping people that it’s something we preach to our employees anytime we can, is it’s about helping people. Sometimes helping people is helping them discover selling to us or somebody like us is not the best fit for them.
Jon: And that’s fine.
Dylan: Yeah. That’s awesome stuff. John. What, um, we’re, we’re not coming to a close, but we’re starting around third base, so, so what advice would you give, um, I guess, let me, let me ask two questions at once. I’m really good at that to confuse people, but, uh, I guess, what’s the biggest mistake that, that you think that you could go back and change?
Dylan: And, and then secondarily, like what’s the best advice you can give to someone who, um, who has probably done a couple deals, right? They’re a real estate investor now, but they wanna, they wanna take that to the next level.
Jon: Uh, biggest mistake was we bought a property and we knew it was close to a historical district.
Jon: And ironically, we actually bought this one through a realtor who brought it to us, um, but didn’t check it out, didn’t do a due diligence on that, and it didn’t end at the block. It ended at the other end of the block, and we found that out after replacing, uh, I think it was 49 windows. And then we had to pull out those windows and replace them with fluid windows.
Jon: So not doing proper due diligence. As part of a, going back as part of a system should have been a, is there any chances in historical area still would’ve made money on it, but that, that put us in a bad spot and really put us on a bad footing with the state and the, uh, city. Cause at that point they thought we were just trying to get one over on them.
Jon: Um, and your trick worked. I forgot what the second question. [00:39:00]
Dylan: What, uh, what would you say your best advice is to, to, to somebody who was in that position where you guys were a few years back, where you were successful, but you weren’t anywhere near where you guys are now? If, if there’s Map out one key. Okay, go
Jon: Sorry. Map out where you want to be. As on as doers and entrepreneurs. We will always, almost always be looking for the next thing, looking for the next thing, looking for the next thing. Map out where you want. You can always exceed it. You can always change it if life changes, but having a map of where you want to go will help keep you on direction.
Jon: But then also we’ll give you an opportunity to, whether it’s the end of the year or the end of the quarter or seven years from now, look back and say, wow, this is what I was working on. This is what I did. I was able to accomplish this. Whether you exceeded that goal or you’re still working on that goal.
Jon: It gives you the ability to look back on it and see, and that that is very huge, especially when you have your bad days [00:40:00] and you take your lumps. It’s okay. It’s not as bad as it seems. I’m not just a complete failure. I’ve done this, this, and this. I said I was gonna do even less than that, or maybe more than that, but gives perspective.
Dylan: Yeah, you know, I love that answer John, cuz I get uh, probably stuff that’s a little more tactical on the business side. But I have a, I have a binder that I wrote my goals in years and years ago and I still had a real job and all that stuff. And I said I was gonna start a REIA club. I don’t, I don’t know what year this was like in the nineties cause I’d been to like one ria and then low and behold, you know, in 2006 years later I did start my rea club.
Dylan: And at one point it was, you know, really big and it’s things, you know, things always change or cyclical, right in our networking world. Yeah. Being able to look back at that and say, um, you know, I’m on the rollercoaster. Today’s a tough day, but holy cow, we used to have 12 rentals and now we have 120 rentals.
Dylan: How did we 10 x exit? Because you didn’t 10 exit, right? You one xed it and two x it and two x it and two x and all of a sudden that added up to, to literally a hundred more. So that’s, that’s great advice.
Jon: And um, that just made me think of a meme I’ve seen where, and you’ve probably seen it too, where it has on the left side, somebody with a ladder.
Jon: And they’re climbing up the ladder, has all the rungs, and the caption is something like, you know, it never miss a step or skipping steps is, uh, sets you up to fail on the right. There’s somebody with a ladder which half the rungs are missing and they just literally can’t even get up there. So get going.
Jon: Um, yeah, you’ve gotta, you gotta have your.
Dylan: Yeah, it’s kind of hard to get in a car and, uh, drive from Detroit to Oklahoma City if I don’t have a map. So I need to know where I’m going, right? Mm-hmm. and, and fill those, fill those answers in. So, I have a question. We haven’t talked about this, John, really quick.
Dylan: Um, Amy’s a real estate agent and you know, I’ve been preaching for either you or your business partner as a real estate investor. One of you guys should always have a real estate license, especially if you’re in the residential world because there’s, there’s just so many different reasons. We can bullet point ’em for two hours.
Dylan: Um, How important has it been for you to have a real estate agent with their license right inside of your company?
Jon: Um, it’s been very valuable. We haven’t, um, focused on some of the aspects that are, can be beneficial. Um, we don’t really pivot and try to list people’s houses that aren’t a great fit for us.
Jon: Um, that kind of goes back to philosophical. When do you give up on a. Type aspect, but it has been very, very instrumental. We know what’s going on with the market. We’re not having to rely on somebody else telling us, you know, she lifts all of our flips. Um, and so that’s, and then just her connections in the real estate industry have been very, very helpful as well.
Dylan: Yeah, that, that’s great. It’s just something I try to push in into new people’s minds. Mm-hmm. , and I guess even old people’s too. But there was an adage, like, you know, before you and I were even old enough probably to have a license that as an investor you don’t wanna have a license because people think that you’re an expert.
Dylan: And when you explain to a private seller that you have your license, they won’t wanna do [00:43:00] business with you. I think it’s totally flip flopped. Uh, I, I think when I deal with people, especially over the phone, if they. State, and I’m a licensed broker. You can look me up on the State’s website, you can find me, you know, on my normal, uh, real estate company’s website, which that stuff doesn’t matter, but it still legitimizes you versus some, you know, when you first get started, it’s like, I’m a guy in a truck, I’m a meet you at McDonald’s and we’re gonna do a, some paperwork.
Dylan: Like that’s not as smooth as saying, Hey, this is Amy. You know what I mean? She’s my wife, she’s my partner, she’s also a real estate agent. Here’s what we found. and it just adds some credibility. Plus, if you’re gonna list houses, this is what I always say. Forget about the money, even though that’s why part, mostly why we have to do this, right?
Dylan: And then we can do what we want with that money later to help change the world and make it a better place. But who cares about your rehabs more than you? Nobody. Nobody. Nothing wrong with listening with an agent. And if you’ve got a guy or gal who’s like unbelievable and you’ve done a lot of business with them and they’re out there, that’s great.
Dylan: However, like unless you really have to, and that agent brought you the deal, and [00:44:00] we all know how that works, you’re gonna be like, mm-hmm. , Amy’s gonna list it. In fact, we’ll just pay you commission later. But she’s gonna list it because she’s gonna try one. Notch harder to get that sale because sometimes we have a stinky deal and we’ve gotta actually work.
Dylan: Right? We don’t just list it and it’s gone in 30 hours with, uh, you know, seven backup offers at full price or whatever. So,
Jon: right. And on the right, and on the flip side, and I’m not saying all agents are like this. I’m just saying in general, humans are like this. If they’re in a bad spot, they may not act truly in your best interest.
Jon: It’s a, hey, you know, I think this is the. Best we’re gonna do, let’s go ahead and take this deal. Having her in that situation helps guard against that.
Dylan: Yeah, it absolutely does. So I, I think it’s a great thing too. So I wanted to get your take on that. That’s cool to hear it from your side because you’re not the licensee, Amy is.
Dylan: So that, that’s great to know. So John, as we’re coming to a close here, You’re, you’re focused in Oklahoma City, but I, I know that, uh, you’ll probably look at deals anywhere and you’re, you guys are always spreading your wings. You got some big things happening, um, that you foreshadowed that maybe you’ll brag about with us later in the year.
Dylan: But if there’s anything anyone watching or listening, um, can do to help you in your business, what are you guys looking for right now?
Jon: Um, what we are looking for are people, um, hope it’s okay if I say this one, but. Who are willing to be beta testers on our software. Cool. Um, long, not gonna try to do a plug, long story short, CRM on steroids, project management, everything else.
Jon: Um, so if anybody’s interested in that, they can reach out to me. But, um, other than that, if you’ve got deals, send ’em our way. Send ’em our way. Um, we’re moving into multi-family, we’ve. Very, gotten very close on. A few of them. Haven’t had, uh, one pull yet with us as a gp, but it’ll happen I bet, in the next six months or so.
Dylan: Yeah. And, and what’s cool is, uh, [00:46:00] inside of investor fuel, uh, we have kinda a, a couple different, uh, a couple different subgroups I guess if, if you want to call ’em that. And we have a multi-unit group, uh, and multi-unit cash flow. So guys in gals who have lots of single family properties or those who are doing multi-unit or even commercial.
Dylan: And then we’ve got the, the residential group, which is always, usually bigger than, than the commercial side. Right? But Amy typically, Um, is on the commercial side. Right. And the cash flow group as we call it, because I, I missed her for half the week. And you’re like, she’s in the other room. I’m like, oh, I don’t, I didn’t get the mossy over there.
Dylan: Um, so that’s super duper cool. And you guys are looking to do that, I would assume on your, um, multi-unit stuff, you’ll look at anything anywhere, right? If it, if the numbers make sense. And your residential stuff, are you a little more focused inside your, your area?
Jon: Yeah, I’m residential. We’re really focused on, um, the Oklahoma City metro.
Jon: Um, it’s just people are able to do things remote and uh, find teams elsewhere, but we really have hyper-focused here on the, on, uh, Oakland safe [00:47:00] for that. And yeah, multi-family is one of the reasons why we have the plane. We can jump in and get somewhere very, very quick and be very flexible.
Dylan: Man, how cool is that?
Dylan: John and, and Amy are at a point in their business that they can literally fly from Oklahoma City to Detroit, which they wouldn’t do to look at multi-family, right? , because I could take some pictures for ’em or send my guys out to do it, but seriously, they can jump out and look at things. And really, real estate investing has afforded them not only the, the, the financial part, but the freedom.
Dylan: And, and, you know, with, with the financial aspect, the, the freedom comes. Um, and John, we’re gonna, I’ll have all of John’s information in the show notes, so if you guys are, uh, are watching this, you can just scroll down below and find out how to get ahold of John. But going back to your software, I’m curious about that, John, is that going to be for, for newer investors or people who are a little bit more advanced?
Jon: It’ll be for both. Um, okay. We’ve really focused on trying to make it easy and flexible and able to adapt to different ways people do business. So somebody. It doesn’t hold or doesn’t do rehabs. It can be made a little bit simpler, uh, for them. And somebody wants is doing a hundred rehabs a year, then they can adjust and be used product as well.
Dylan: Awesome. So if someone is listening right now, John, what’s the best way for them to connect with you if they aren’t on the, on uh, looking at a screen?
Jon: Uh, really the best way is to, uh, just shoot me a DM on either Instagram or Facebook. Um, I’m on both as the Flipp and it. Gotcha. The,
Dylan: the flipping with no g uh, there
Jon: there is a g I just don’t say the G I’m
Dylan: The flipping, flipping it, it guy, you got some Oklahoma people, Oklahoma coming out there.
Jon: When people see it, they go the flipping it guy. I’m like, no. Flipping it guy. My background was an IT in development, so.
Dylan: Yeah. So if you guys are listening right now, just look up John Nolen, j o n n o l e n. Um, that’s how you spell his name.
Dylan: But if you wanna know more about what he’s doing, then make sure you go [00:49:00] to the website and go to the Real Estate Investing Secret Show, uh, which is a part of the FlipNerd Podcast network. John, we sincerely appreciate you guys giving us all your time today, and, um, I tried to keep you in good graces with Amy.
Dylan: You settle out a nice thing, so we’ll make sure that she hears all of.
Jon: Sounds great. I appreciate it, Dylan. You have a good one, man.
Dylan: Absolutely. So I’m Dylan Tanaka, your favorite hybrid investor, agent from Metro Detroit. We look forward to seeing you guys on the next show, and we’ll catch you.
Thanks for listening to today’s show.
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