Many real estate investors started by visiting a local Real Estate Investors Association (REIA) to learn whether real estate investing might be an opportunity for them. The experience of that person or member is generally completely dependent upon how well that REIA is run, in terms of quality content, a welcoming feel, not overly promoting products of services, etc. There are many great clubs across America, and Moe Mathews and Richmond REIA are one of them. Moe has set many examples of fostering ‘care’, and knows that ‘giving’ happens before ‘getting’. Please join us by watching this episode of the FlipNerd.com VIP Show.
Mike: Welcome to the FlipNerd.com podcast. This is your host, Mike Hambright, and on this show I will introduce you to V.I.P’s in the real estate and 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.
Mike: Hey, it’s Mike Hambright and welcome back for another exciting FlipNerd V.I.P. show. Today, I have with me a good friend of mine, Moe Matthews, and after 13 years as a highly decorated marine, Moe now focuses all his efforts on real estate. He’s a realtor, he’s a fellow home investor’s franchisee and he runs a thriving real estate investor’s association in Richmond, Virginia. So, we’re going to talk to Moe, learn more from him in just a moment. Let’s take a second to recognize our featured sponsors.
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Mike: Hey Moe, welcome to the show.
Moe: Hey buddy, how you doing?
Mike: Pretty good, glad to have you on.
Moe: Thank you.
Mike: I’m excited, I know we’ve been talking for a while, so man, you’ve got your finger in all kinds of stuff there, why don’t you tell us… introduce yourself for those who don’t know you and tell us a little bit more about what you’re doing in Richmond.
Moe: Sure, sure, well I am, as you said, I got into the Marine Corps back in 2000, and I got sick and tired of the corporate world and, and decided to, jump into real estate. In 2007 I got my real estate license. And, and, I guess, 2011 we opened up a brokerage. My wife’s my boss.
Mike: Me too, me too.
Moe: Yeah, so she’s a broker for the brokerage and I’m actually still an agent here, but I own a brokerage, so, it’s been a lot of fun.
Moe: We’re an investor friendly brokerage and that allowed me to do a little bit of work with… working with the local REIA group, and everything else to build it to where it’s at.
Moe: I got started as a member and it kinda grew into me being handed the keys for the local REIA.
Mike: Yeah, yeah. You’re not the first person I’ve talked to that started that way. They started off as, no experience and, and a member that came one time, to now they’re the president of the REIA so. But that’s great. So, tell us a little bit about your REIA, and I know that you just exploded in size in the past few years, and I think… I think the quote that I heard was 15 members to over 700 in just the past few years, is that right?
Moe: Yeah, yeah…
Mike: That’s awesome.
Moe: It’s been incredible. We had meetings here, about five to ten people. I guess the saying, “Build it and they will come,” works. Yeah.
Mike: Well, you know, you have to take more credit than that because it definitely, I know it’s not that easy. I know it’s a lot of hard work and good content and it always have to have the right… the right feel of somebody running the club that really cares about people. So, you definitely I’m sure you deserve much more credit than that. So, when you started off… had the club been bigger in the past and members just went away, or it was just 15 members. I assume it might have been bigger at one point and…
Moe: Well, I started actually in a group called “The Richmond Investor Group.”
Moe: And that group was basically a… a… what we call the deal maker session. That’s where I invited realtors, investors, wholesalers into a meeting to share deals. We brought contractors, attorneys, everything else so, we started out, you know, with anywhere from five to ten people that would show up in the meetings, you know, from there it grew because, you know, there’s a lot better deals that were handed.
Moe: I tell you, the last two years, the beautiful thing is, even doing the deals the way that we have, there’s not been a meeting where a deal wasn’t sold out of the meeting.
Mike: Wow, that’s great.
Moe: So, it’s been very profitable, not just for ourselves, but for everybody else that’s involved. Other investors that wanted to get into the real estate market, so…
Mike: Yeah. And so talk a little bit about, you know, how you grew the club to, you know, to the size it is now, that, you know there’s definitely larger clubs but I mean, that’s, that’s a pretty respectable size for sure.
Moe: Well, I mean, I’ll be honest with you, I wish I could say that 700 would attend. I don’t think I have the room…
Mike: Yeah, that’s never the case, yeah.
Moe: But, I mean, for the last couple of months we’ve had you know 80 to 175 attend the meetings. But the biggest key for all of this has been the networking that we’ve instilled. We, we do… I tried to stagger the year out, with events. Like in the beginning of the year, we would start off with set your year up right tax wise. So we’d have you know trainings from CPAs and accountants, you know, that would come through and teach investors about proper, you know, real estate structure for you know accounting’s sake, as far as an investor.
We’d have attorneys that were coming in to talk about protecting your assets and so forth. So, we, we basically start off each year that way, but the beautiful thing is, at every meeting, there’s a networking session where every investor is able to network with everybody else that’s there. We do an introduction in the beginning of the meeting which a lot of people have found profitable. Everybody takes about 30 seconds to a minute to just say their name and whether they’re a wholesaler or a buyer, you know, renovator, retailer…
Moe: And so on and what they’re looking for and everybody else in the room and listens and writes down notes and gathers information about who’s in the room, so that has allowed for massive networking, either before and after the meeting where I urge you… you’ve got deals in Chesterfield County or what have you, or you just renovated a house in Henricho, how did that go? And, you know, they learn from each other, so that’s what’s there. That’s where, that’s what helped it grow, I think, is the family environment and the networking prior to and after the event.
Mike: Yeah, and that, that’s got to be fostered by you because I’ve been a part of a lot of… I’ve attended a lot of REIA clubs in my market, and there’s definitely some that are like that and some that are not. You know, some are very transactional and kind of myopic and there, there’s an agenda and it doesn’t necessarily jive with the agenda of the people who are attending.
Mike: So, why don’t you talk… because one of the things that I want to get to here, and part of the point of having you tell us more about this is that, I’m a huge believer in REIA clubs and I think that they’re kind of the backbone of the real estate investing community and they’re just critical. It’s how I got started, it’s how almost everybody that I know has gotten started, by attending REIA events and learning and meeting people and vendors and finding deals that way.
But, what do you think it takes to kind of foster that environment where people don’t feel like… because, let me just put it this way. Some other clubs that I’ve attended, people walk in sit down, they maybe don’t talk to anybody and then the event’s over and they kind of leave and it’s very much one directional communication, whether it’s a speaker or a vendor who’s talking or whatever it might be. But, there was a lot of wisdom from your end to create that environment, if you ever run a club before. I mean, how, what do you… where did that come about and, and tell us… tell us how you’re so wise Moe.
Moe: Well, I’ll tell you why. In the beginning, when we first got started, the biggest thing that I promised everybody is that nothing will be sold from the front of the room. And that really helped the environment of nobody’s going to be digging into my wallet to try to buy something, you know, get me to buy something. We have had some national speakers that, later on, would offer, you know, webinars or just, such as, you know selling courses or what have you. But, for the most part, there hasn’t been any of that. It’s been truly content and networking, so the biggest key, that was number one, to (inaudible 00:09:20) the crowd.
The networking… we do, like I said in the beginning of the year, also a speed networking event where it’s just nothing but breaking up into separate groups kind of like speed dating or what have you, in tables and everybody gets to find out about what, what they’re looking for, what the person in front of them is looking for and what they need help with and then if… then, if they want to be held accountable for anything and setting goals in the beginning of the year they do that and share it and we hold each other accountable in that fashion.
So, it’s really fostered and allowed the group to grow in that fashion. The other thing is we really use it for, again, contractors are not going to come and stand up and say, “Well, here’s what I do, here’s what my pricing is,” and all that stuff . They tend, and I’ve found a lot of contractors actually getting in the game of investing because they see what’s happening in the group. So, we’ve had about five or six that have attended that are Class A contractors do the same. The biggest key, I tell you, has been the open forum. I really like the fact that we’ve opened it up to a lot of investor friendly realtors.
Moe: As well, because there’s a lot of folks that are working with investors in this market that we’re in, not just in Richmond, but, I think across the country. Otherwise, in other REIAs, I’ve been to, you know, D.C. REIAs and other REIAs throughout, and I’ve seen, you know, a lot more of that growth, so based on that, the wholesalers that are in the room… it just brings a variety of different leads for say of deals that are available.
Moe: We’ve got a lot of buy and hold investors that are in our group as well. So, you know, they attend to get access to, a lot of those deals because our market is really thin, unless it’s kind of dried up a lot before foreclosures probably nationwide has been dried, you know, I guess all the deals are gone at this point. Some people have overpaid for them, so a lot wholesalers that are, you know, doing a good job, we’re actually supporting and coaching each other, so there’s wholesalers that may have an ideal of, you know, how can I do this, or here’s a creative transaction, so they’ll find support and help within the room to be able to get those deals.
Mike: Yeah. And, if anybody’s watching that isn’t part of a REIA, I mean what advice would you give them on the importance of being part of a local REIA?
Moe: It is probably the most important thing that I could ever recommend. Because in the beginning, like you said earlier, both you and I probably started by attending our local REIA first before we ever got into investing to kind of feel the waters and see where the market is. I tell you the biggest thing is to, and I think Jim Rhon says it best to, you know, do the uncomfortable until it gets comfortable. And that is, you know, I would definitely go and go with cards and go with a notebook, a notepad, just to make sure you jot down somebody’s name and information and what they do as you get introduced and, and you know, as you work with some of the members that are in the local REIA.
Most of the time, the cost is not so expensive, or outrageous to where, it’s definitely worth it to belong to that group, because of what content and the networking that’s there. It’s almost a free mentorship type process, that’s available in the REIA. But the biggest key would be, go there with the intent to share your business card with somebody and to gather as many of those as possible and you know start recognizing, and each time that you attend, you know, you’re gathering more content, more comfortable with, you know, stepping off the ledge into a first deal if you know, some of these folks that we’re talking to here today have not done a real estate deal yet.
Mike: Yeah, you know, what’s interesting is, you know, typically speaking, and I, I say this all the time when I talk to folks, that real estate investing can be a really lonely business, if you let it. And there’s a lot of real estate investors that silo themselves off and say, “Everybody in my markets a competitor. I don’t want to share anything with them, they’re not going to ever share anything with me.” I don’t think that’s always the case. I think a lot of people are just kind of in feast or famine mode and they’re always worried about the famine so they try to feast…
Mike: I don’t really know how to explain it, but I think you know, I think a lot of people let their guard down in REIA club meetings, because it’s an outlet for them to go share ideas and talk to people and learn other things, so I definitely would encourage people to go to REIA clubs to be more open minded because I can tell you from experience, and I’ll be honest, when I first started I probably felt much more, not like the person I just described, but, you know, you always are worried about competitive threats, but I can tell you that, you’ll enjoy this business more and do it longer if you find ways to work with other people because it’s just a lot more enjoyable, otherwise you just get burned out, out of running on the same treadmill all day long, so.
Moe: Well, that, I’m a firm believer in the more you share the more you get, and I think that’s what truly happens at the REIA meetings, at least at ours, so I hope that, you know for the most part, anywhere in the country that people can plug in with that same attitude into a REIA group and really absorb all the knowledge that’s there and also give back to it as well.
We actually like to, in our group and I think this is a powerful tool, is kind of feature the, the ones that are doing deals and we have them kind of talk a little bit, give some five minutes for somebody that’s just done a deal over in a specific area and had people in the room ask questions openly. And these are local leaders, local investors as well, so that’s another, you know, way that’s really helped in the fact that people are learning things and getting answers answered for questions that they didn’t even know they had, you know.
Mike: Right. So, how, how does… what do you think the right structure is and maybe how are you structured in terms of your relationship with vendors?
Moe: We actually set it up as sponsors, so what we’ve done is… I think the best thing, and if I sans talking to any other presidents to make it profitable, I really love the model of using the meet up group site because that’s allowed us to have sponsors come and support the group. We don’t charge a ton, but we do have as we’ve grown in size, it’s been really hard to do the meetings at my office here, so we’ve had to take it to, you know, hotels and CPA centers and colleges that have had a cost, so we’ve brought on the attorneys, closing attorneys, title companies as sponsors, entity or estate type planning type attorneys have come to us, CPAs, insurance agents, hard money lenders, of course they want to have access to investors, of course as well, so they have come in as the sponsors for the group.
And the meet up site has allowed us to have their content consistently visible for the folks that, you know, are members. So, that’s now, you know, supported and helped us pay for… you know we do two large events. Christmas party and a… and a cook out and it’s just, you know networking every year. And at every event we have pizza, cookies and water and sodas, so it helps pay for all of that, you know, otherwise, so the sponsorship is basically, I think, the primary key, but everybody has a vested interest, even the sponsors. We’ve got a window guy from Fairway Windows that comes in and puts, you know, he sponsors the group as well and gets a lot of miles out of it.
Moe: Yeah, so it’s been pretty good.
Mike: Yeah and you know the interesting thing about vendor… a lot of vendors A lot of vendors that could serve real estate investors don’t really get it and they need to that these are repeat customers I mean most traditional homeowners you work for, you’re only going to work for one time.
Mike: And they may give you some references but, if you start to tap into people that are doing five, ten, you know 50 houses a year, you know, if you treat them right and your priced right, you can really build some profitable relationships there and it’s a… and I don’t think a lot of folks realize that somewhere, I don’t know what the exact statistic is these days that one in four houses in America is owned by a real estate investor.
Moe: That’s right.
Mike: And, it’s like, it’s a huge… it’s a huge piece of the pie if you’re not claiming that area, so, big opportunity. Yeah.
Mike: Moe, as an owner of the club, I know that a lot, it’s a thankless business, because I know that, there’s not a lot of, you know, it’s not like it’s a… it’s not a profit center by itself I’m sure. And I think a lot of real estate investors are suspicious, are like, somebody’s going to make money off of me and it’s like, well you just need to be open minded, you can’t, you can’t make money yourself unless you, you know, get out and network, so talk a little bit about why… why you run the club, and I know that you might get some deals out of it, you might get some listings out of it, there are things that might feed into your other businesses, and knowing you, I know that you’re not pushy about that stuff, but just talk about you know, now why somebody like you would want to run a REIA club.
Moe: Well, I’m going to tell you honestly, I think the primary focus is I told you before it turned into REIA for me, I started a group called The Richmond Investor Group, and initially, initially it was just a dealmaker session to bring deals in, wholesalers and buyers were there. And I set it up because I wanted to have access to deals that were not just MLS deals or the traditional way that I’m working.
Moe: Just another stream… It’s kind of, I started my own bird dog funnel, you know, kind of process. So, initially it was to get access to deals. And then I heard a lot from investors who wanted to get into, you know, creative other transactions or what have you and that was the only way to do it for me to learn. The reason I got my real estate license of course was to save a little bit on my, my, you know, commissions when I bought and everything else, but the reason that I started the REIA was to be able to have access just to deals. So, yes, unfortunately, it was for selfish reasons, so… but the beauty is that we would have 10, 15 deals presented. And, I may not buy any, if you know, it’s there, I may buy two in a given month, so far out of the group I’ve purchased, probably about nine deals in the last, you know, few years. But, it’s also allowed me, for me to also wholesale some of our deals that you know…
Moe: …as well. But it’s the creative learning. I figure to myself that there’s… the only way to learn investment real estate is to be surrounded by people that have gotten it wrong and gotten it right. And literally, you know, listening to those who have gotten it right, you know, sometimes dealing with contractors that have extended a project out, or took a little bit longer, or went over budget, or what have you, a lot of those things are lessons learned, and the only way to compress time and knowledge is to be surrounded by that consistently.
So, that’s definitely what I feel like the primary reason that it’s grown to where it’s at and also how it’s turned into REIA. So, you know, right now the session is, and I’ll give you an example, it’s initially a networking at the beginning, there’s content related to whatever’s happening, you know, in our market we’ve got a lot of regentrification happening to older historic homes and that’s starting to really take place and, you know, of course, Virginia and Richmond, the capital of Virginia is, you know, a really big historic area. So, folks are taking advantage of that and, and learning a lot more on the historic process and tax credits and tax abatements that are available to us through that a lot more and I’m seeing a big push that’s occurred because of that type of format and I think the REIA group and, there’s another group here called the Richmond Network… Richmond R.I.N.G., Real Estate Investor Networking Group, and they’ve done a phenomenal job. R.I.N.G. actually got started because our group was so large and it couldn’t house everybody in one place so they’ve got, we’ve got now two meetings happening in one…. so it’s, it’s really grown. And most of the members that are in both groups, really are of the sharing type…
Mike: Yeah, that’s great. Because that’s one other challenge that I’ve seen, in markets where there’s multiple clubs, a lot of times the club, the people running the clubs will tend to silo themselves off from other, from other groups, and you know just like real estate is very local and neighborhood centric, a lot of clubs, in markets where there’re multiple clubs tend to become that way, and folks don’t even know about maybe a great speaker at one club across town because they’re not a member, unless they’re a member they’re not getting notifications and so, you get these clubs that are very siloed off which is a bit of a shame because, you know, back to that kind of sharing way, there’s just so much opportunity to just kind of join forces and, but…
Moe: It is.
Mike: Everybody has egos and issues, and you know reasons for that stuff as well so.
Moe: Well the other club started a phenomenal event, which was giving back to the community that we were able to have some of our members plug into, so Habitat for Humanity, they started an event where they’re giving back to the community through Habitat for Humanity and now those… our members and their members, you know, are now giving back in that way, in building houses and getting some of that experience, and also the knowledge from working with contractors and asking questions. I mean, it’s kind of learning [inaudible 00:23:15] in that process for a lot of folks, it’s really been an amazing, you know, fun time in just that process alone. A lot of growth, a lot of, lot of learning.
Mike: Yeah, great. So, what do you, from some of what you’ve said, you’re hitting some space issues, you’ve got, your club’s growing… what, where do you go from here? Where do you see your club going from here? And, where do you, I want to… I’ve got another question for you but I’ll wait till after you answer that one. Where is your club going from here?
Moe: Okay, I’m hoping that we get to a point where we have about 200 to 250 members and possibly growing it to where we’re doing…
Mike: Regularly meeting attending members?
Moe: Yeah, yeah, because they’re, you know… the reason the club is so successful is because of the members. And, you know, there’s a… I’ve taken it now because I’ve, I can’t come up with all the ideas for the trainings, we’ve now got you know co-organizers and other hosts and folks that are plugged in that come up with, you know, meeting ideas and topics to cover and discuss and we poll the members as well as to what kind of content or information do you want to get more information on, as well.
So, you know, for the folks that are listening, I would recommend that, you know, if there’s something you’re wanting to get, is get ahold of the leadership team at your local REIA, or real estate investor networking group or what have you and find out, you know, who are the professionals in these certain things and then ask about having those events or when is this going to be covered? So, that way, they know that they can provide that. You know, it’s kind of like the more people that ask for something, you know, the more, the faster it will happen, you know.
Moe: So, we may have to, I think at this point, that we grow into possibly two meetings, and you know, do more of a mastermind type focus for investors that are, target related. And I find, depending on the topic that you have, that sometimes your, your attendance will go from 80 to 175, like it did last month, so…
Mike: Yeah. So, the one… one of the last questions I wanted to ask you, Moe, is I know, and I just know that you’re very tech savvy guy. What do you see as the future of clubs, because there’s so much technology where people can, talk like we are now, you can record videos, webinars, things like that, now. I don’t think they’re ever going to take the place of physical meetings where you have a chance to go meet people, and see people, but you can’t deny some of the benefits of, you know, time and space don’t matter anymore, online, so there’s pros and cons and there’s a lot of cons, I get it. Where do you see kind of clubs evolving to in the future in terms of the opportunities with technology?
Moe: Well, I mean, I think there’s community, and fellowship as what’s here a lot. And I don’t know if you could take technology and do this, you know, over a conference call, like… do it. You just can’t take the, the, shaking of the hand, the asking some of the questions that, you know, other people may have asked… because if we’re in a conference call, it’s really hard to talk over people and still listen.
Moe: But in this group, I mean, I tell you, when you, you attend one of these, it’s like you can’t understand everything is going so loud and everybody’s talking until you get everybody quieted down to listen to a topic, you know, because it’s just, there’s just so much community and fellowship, I guess I could say, that’s the beauty and power of it. I think that’s why, you know, most of these are going to be consistent, consistently successful because you can’t do this through technology. I don’t think you can. But, you know, that’s why I say, you got to get to a REIA meeting to be able to feel that and see that.
Moe: Otherwise. I don’t think it will, but I… I tell you, we use a lot of technology in the aspect of doing a lot of things, you know, streaming, you know, deals now, becomes very easy. The portal that we use with REIA allows us to create a folder for deals to be posted there and then we can stream them as well for the wholesalers that are there and the buyers, you know, will grasp at them from there, so we don’t have to just depend on that monthly meeting, there are other tools and, the beauty is, it kind of operates almost as a BNI because people connect with each other past that point, do lunch, go do coffee. I’ve had investors bring people on to mentor, follow along for two or three days, you know. That’s really come out of the meeting for successful investors that have allowed for that to happen otherwise. So…
Mike: That’s great.
Moe: Hopefully that answered your question.
Mike: Yes, yes, Moe. If people want to find out about how to learn more about Richmond REIA, or get in touch with you, or attend a meeting maybe or learn more about your structure, where should they go?
Moe: Sure, it’s RichmnondREIA.org. It’s Richmond R-E-I-A .org. That’s our site there. My phone number and contact information is on there. They can message us through there, or email, or call. If they have any questions on… and we allow guests to come on in and check it out for the first time, so love to have anybody from Richmond that’s listening to this to come on in and join us, and even outside of Richmond, so…
Mike: Do you have a set monthly general meeting?
Moe: Yeah, it’s always on the first Thursday of the month, unless it’s a holiday, or something like that. Then it moves to the third Thursday of the month. Starts at 7 p.m. and we usually go to about 9:30.
Mike: Awesome, awesome. Moe, thanks for your time today. I appreciate learning more and congrats with your REIA, and growing it and hopefully, maybe, someday your wife will give you a raise.
Moe: Me too.
Mike: Me too. Need to talk to my wife, see if she’ll give me a raise. Awesome Moe, good to see you.
Moe: Take care.
Mike: 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 watch our video versions of our shows by visiting us at FlipNerd.com.