Working remotely in the USA from anywhere in the world is the new normal. Michelle Green is a professional real estate investor, ex-property Lawyer and Realtor/Real Estate who works virtually in Texas, USA from her home in New Zealand. In 2016, with her father Steve, she founded the Koru Group which specializes in seller financing homes to retail buyers and investors who are not currently able to qualify for conventional financing. Steve and Michelle share how they first got started dabbling in real estate, how they moved their real estate operation to Texas, USA, private lending, and how to find private lenders from 8,000 miles away. This dynamic father/daughter duo of Steve and Michelle Green is inspiring to say the least!
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Using Private Money From 8,000 Miles Away with Steve and Michelle Green
This Dynamic Father/Daughter Duo Is Suffocating ALL Excuse
It’s my mission to create private lenders and to create a community where people just like you and I can safely and confidently invest and build wealth with old world values and pragmatism and without banks or Wall Street. 2019 has started off to be a very international year at the show where we had Victor Menasce from Canada and now, I have very distinct honor to interview a father and daughter powerhouse all the way from New Zealand. Steve and Michelle Green live almost 8,000 miles away and yet they have found a way to invest in single-family homes real estate here in the United States. I find their story fascinating and very interesting. I believe that you the Lender Nation will as well.
When I think of all the excuses I gave in the past as to why I was or wasn’t doing something, mostly why I wasn’t doing something. It’s too hard. I don’t have the time. I don’t have the money or whatever the case may be, I get a sense of shame now when I think back on it. I don’t think it’s uncommon among investors and it’s not necessarily a bad thing unless you let it ruin you or run you. It’s a good thing if we can find motivation in those emotions. I certainly find it there. I heard this thing about you should never compare yourself to another as we go around and we journey around the sun through life. After hearing how our guest is investing in real estate in Texas all the way from New Zealand, I feel downright lazy. Because Steve and Michelle Green and negating all the excuses, mine, yours, everybody’s for not putting in the hustle and getting things done. Veering out of way and making it happen. This dynamic father and daughter investing duo tell us how they do it. They shared it with us and I’m forever grateful.
I’m honored to be interviewing Steve and Michelle Green all the way in New Zealand. Steve and Michelle, welcome to the Private Lender Podcast.
Thank you very much. It’s a pleasure to be here.
When I started this podcast, it was back in April or May. Somebody reached out on LinkedIn. It was this fellow named Steve Green and I didn’t realize the significance at the time, but in August of 2018, we met at the Quest IRA Expo and Steve said, “This is my daughter Michelle and we were investing in the Southern United States.” I said, “You don’t sound like you’re from Houston or Dallas. How is it that you guys have come and invested in the United States? We caught up before you left and thank you for lunch. I was jumping at the bit to have you guys come on because your story is absolutely fascinating and I can’t wait for you to tell it to the audience.
We were investing here in New Zealand for various reasons. Our portfolio’s top properties weren’t performing as well as it should have been. The government here is getting very difficult for landlords, so we started looking further afield. In 2012, I decided to go to Sacramento on a hard money lenders course. While I was there, I met a lot of wholesalers doing reasonably well for themselves and that prompted an interest in getting involved in the States. Few things happened after that. In 2014, I started to get interested. We sold our portfolio in New Zealand altogether, got out of it and we started to market in 2015 to see if we could find any properties in Florida.
I always wanted to work in Texas. I knew several people that were working in San Antonio and Houston and it looked like a great market to be, but there was something in my research that said, “Go to Jacksonville, Florida. That’s the market to be in.” We started looking around at how we could do this. We put out some mailers and some Facebook ads, bits and pieces, generally dipping our toes in the water while everybody here was saying, “You can’t do that. It cannot be done.” Steve Green being Steve Green, when somebody tells me I can’t do it, I go out to prove that they’re wrong. In late 2015, we came across a couple in Florida who were at the same level as we were. They are very new. They wanted to get involved but didn’t know how they could do it.
We had a chat and we said, “What about if we do the marketing? We’ll find and screen the sellers. They won’t bring the deals to you. You can close the deals over there.” That seemed to work. The first year, we closed eighteen deals between the two of us. That’s what got us rolling. The thing it Texas evolved when we decided that we were at such a level that we could go to where we wanted to invest and not where we had to invest. We wished the other couple very well and we came over to Texas in August. I spent three months there. I met you at Quest Expo and the rest is history.
I’m jealous that you’re able to take that much time spending in another country. You’re working, you’re not sitting on the beach sipping Mai Tai’s. You’re out there networking.
We were analyzing it when we go back. We decided that we had three days off the entire time we were there. They weren’t really days off. We still did a bit of work.
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I’d like to talk about your backgrounds a little bit because a lot of questions I get are people think that they don’t have a background in say construction or lending or anything else. I really want to show that it’s going to take work. You can’t snap your fingers and be done. If you could go into your background because I love the different sides of it and how you guys wedge it and come together and invest.
I got dragged along. I don’t know how it happened. I just know that dad gave me a book when I was about fifteen or sixteen years old and it was Rich Dad Poor Dad. I read it and something in it resonated with me. The idea of having a business that can work for you so that you can go and do the things that you want in life started to appeal to me. By that stage, I’d already gone quite a way through my education and I knew that I wanted to go off to university and study Law. I went away and I did that. While I was there, I found myself dabbling in real estate all the time. It was around about the time that mom and dad started buying the investment properties over here. I’ll never forget I went to a seminar or a one-day course type thing in Christchurch. I must have spent something like $500 to get there. Then I ended up purchasing a course and I got absolutely sucked along into it.
I came out of it in the other end thinking that the course was an absolute waste of money, but this is something that I like to spend some more time doing. I started to develop an interest in real estate and I eventually ended up getting my real estate salesperson certificate here in New Zealand and working for a real estate agency. Then I got into law and started practicing property law. I was doing that for a good four or five years, on and off, both here and in Australia. I enjoyed doing the property law stuff, but I always wanted to start my own business and I found myself becoming guided by dad. Before we knew where we were, he hooked me in on the premise of he had shoulder surgery and he said that he needed somebody to help him while he had his surgery. It just snowballed from there.
It’s a great field to be in for sure. I remember when we met, I was like, “You’re an attorney,” and you were like, “I want to get out of it.” I’m like, “Why?” but I understand completely.
It’s such a stressful world being an attorney. I was going to work every day taking onboard everybody else’s problems. I thought, “If I can solve everyone else’s problems, then why don’t I put that to some better use and get into a business where I can start solving our own problems.”
How about you, Steve? Did you get a law background?
No. She does the contract. She looks over the legal documents. That’s my background. I started off life as an electrician. I had a great boss at the time. There were three of us were working in a small workshop out in England. He kept telling me, “Go self-employed. I said, “I don’t want to do that.” Then one day he said to me, “If you don’t come in on Monday and be self-employed,” he said I’ve got no work. I thought he was kidding. I turned up on Monday and he said, “Show me your ticket.” I said, “I haven’t gotten it.” He said I haven’t got any work. He was serious and I had to go home and I had to call my accountant, my CPA and I turned up and I said, “I’m at work. I’m self-employed.”
He said, “I’m going to double your wages immediately.” That was the eye-opener for me into self-employment. He also has had properties and he kept saying to me, “Buy properties.” I just ignored him. The whole time I worked for him, I was like, “That’s not for me.” Every time I went away from the real estate, I kept getting back to it by somebody or something. Eventually when we moved to New Zealand in 1995, we noticed a lot of people were getting involved in it. I started to take a bit of an interest in it, I go to seminars, and whatever. It still didn’t resonate. Then we ended up going back to the UK about three years later and we had an investor buy our property. He came in and he offered us a price that we didn’t want to take.
The lifestyle going back to the UK was appealing to my wife more than me and we took that offer. The time that we spent back in the UK, I started to think about this and process it. We ended up coming back out to New Zealand in 2003 and that’s when I started to get into it. In 2008 was when we bought our home and two months later we bought our first rental property. It was as quickly as that and within three months, we bought our second rental property. It snowballed and we got interested. The market here wasn’t great, but we were into that situation. When the US things started to happen for us, we were keen on learning everything, but it came down to what could we do to support ourselves and to get where we want it to be? We quickly came to the realization that there was no way we wanted to own rental properties with all the issues that we face here.
There are some great property managers out there. There are some great tenants out there trying to bring it all together. We didn’t feel that we wanted to go down that route. In the US, there was so many more opportunities, wholesaling, seller financing, and lease options. There is a whole plethora of things that we could get involved in. We were wholesaling initially in Jacksonville, but when we decided to move into Texas, we decided that we have a crack at lease options. We were listening to various podcast wide and some of the more successful investors. We try to put that together. Somewhere in the middle, after getting all the contracts together, it wasn’t going to be for us. It wasn’t what we were looking for. We were looking for a more long-term strategy that could support us and the seller financing model, being the bank for somebody who can’t get conventional financing. Helping a lot of people along the way. Helping people with retirement funds get some good rates of return on their money. Finding a buyer that cannot get a conventional loan and putting them into a property. It all seemed to make sense for us. That’s where we are now.
Things are going to take work. You can't snap your fingers and be done.
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There are a ton of questions in there and I can only unpack maybe one or two. One is you know that I’m a big fan of the seller financing option as well. It’s how I got into all this, with my partner Landon and now I’m with the podcast, meeting you guys and everything. It is a great model because to me it’s a true win-win. Life happens and one of the things that I struggle with is even though I’m in America and our healthcare is what it was, you had to pay for it and all this and that. I never thought anyone should lose their house because they got sick. However, I understand if I’m a landlord, I’ve got a contract. I still want to get my money.
Life’s not fair. That’s the bottom line, but seller financing coming in and let’s say somebody gets divorced. Even if it’s an amicable divorce, their credit is probably going to be hit pretty bad. They’re going to be unbankable or unmortgageable. It’s happened in my family. My aunt got sick very young and it was a financial burden for about 30 years with her condition and everything. It’s a great way to help people get into properties. I found that people do care if they get a chance. If somebody gives them a chance, they will do their damnedest to make the most of it. Have you found that to be the case?
That’s the big thing. When we were dealing with tenants, they don’t care as much about the property they’re living in. I was listening to the radio in the car. They were talking about having pets in rental properties and a woman came on. She said, “I’ll have pets all day long because people generally look out to their pets. What I don’t like are young children because they scratch everything up and they wreck everything.” I thought it was hilarious, but then I looked back and I thought, “The last property that we sold, we had a family of ten in there and the place was trashed,” and she was so right. I thought, “I don’t want to deal with those properties anymore.” People that buy the properties, it’s their property. Do you trash your house? Do I trash mine? No, we don’t. We look after them and these are the kind of people that respect what we’re doing. They appreciate what we’re trying to do for them and they work with us when we’re trying to help them out. If we can get somebody into a property for a similar price to what they would rent their property for, why wouldn’t they do it?
You guys are students of Mitch Stephen.
I absolutely love him.
He’s absolutely right. If you’re going to pay $1,000 in rent, why not pay something similar to that and own it and have equity and have something that you can sell at the end of the time that you’re there. I got into private lending because I found out that I made horrible landlord. I suck and I embrace that. There are great property managers out there. There are great tenants and there are great contractors. I never seem to have all three at the same time, except when I bought my first rental property. There was this amazing tenant in there and she and her husband were building their retirement home. They were waiting it out and didn’t want to spend a whole lot of money in the nice part of town on rent. I had a house and four months into it she wrote me a letter, “Our house is finished. I’m moving out. Here’s my notice.” Everything by the book. That was the last time I had a pleasant experience as a landlord.
It seems to be a very common theme amongst landlords. The very first one out, you get a good property manager, you get good tenants, and everything goes fine. All the payments are coming in, the place isn’t trashed. Then I leave for some reason and then you get the second guys in and they’re not the same. That’s when things start to change and that’s when you decide at the time, “Am I going to continue with this? Do I employ a property manager or do I look at something else? That’s exactly what happened to us.
I do miss the depreciation that we enjoy here in the US.
We don’t even get it.
You don’t get depreciation in New Zealand?
Have a business that can work for you so that you can go and do the things that you want in life.
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We used to but then I forget what year, but it was a number of years back. They took that all away. New Zealand is a funny old place and we love it, but it’s not always very business-minded. We find it absolutely crazy that we’ve got such a housing market crisis here and yet every single law that the government passes in relation to the property market does everything to take everything away from landlords. We’ve got a huge problem with insulation on all of our homes and they’ve regulated to force landlords to upgrade all of their insulation that’s thousands and thousands of dollars’ worth of cost and it goes on and on. Everything here is geared towards taking away the incentive for people to buy up investment properties.
It was a real shame. They don’t seem to have the longer-term view that you guys in the States do. We can’t praise it enough. Setting up businesses, setting up bank accounts, it’s all very easy in the US. There are a couple of things that are a little bit tricky there as outsiders. We’ve been able to overcome all of that. We have two companies set up in the US for doing what we’re doing. It was quicker to set up the company and the bank accounts in the US than it was to set up the same bank account here in New Zealand.
The Challenges Steve and Michelle Face Investing From Abroad
I’m curious. What are the hurdles for outsiders coming into the southern United States or the United States? What have you found were the hurdles that you had to get over?
That’s something that Michelle and I have decided we’re going to put together a course. It’s such a great thing to be able to do that many people certainly at the REIA clubs we’ve attended here in New Zealand, they look at it as a brick wall, “No, that can’t be done.” We’re going to try and put together a virtual wholesaling course which encompasses this and it’s going to be targeted not only towards people in the US, investors in the US trying to get into wholesaling, but it’s going to be targeted to people outside the US as well. These are the problems that we’ve encountered. Things like you got to face up to a bank in the US to open an account.
We were with one of the bigger banks. We’ve had some issues with the bigger banks. We’ve gone to a local bank in Texas and they’ve been absolutely exceptional. You’ve got to get over there or you’ve got to have a representative from the ground to open these for you. We didn’t feel comfortable with somebody being in control of our bank accounts so we came over. The other thing is the company, you’ve got to have what they call an ITI, an individual tax identification number if you’re outside the country. That can be a minefield. One thing I would say to the audience, go through a CPA. Do not do what we did three times.
Don’t try and do it yourself. Hire someone to do it for you.
It is worth whatever your CPA is going to charge you to get through that hurdle because the IRS got a big job to do. They don’t know who we are. These are some of the bigger issues that we’ve faced. The rest of it, the title companies are like, “Where are you from? We’re not sure we can do that. Do you use DocuSign?” “Yeah, we do.” “No problem then.”
That’s been quite surprising. I would say the bank accounts and the tax numbers are the two biggest things that we had to hurdle to start a business. Everything else was easy. You can set up a company online. You don’t have to go to an attorney’s office or whatever to go set up a company. You can do all your marketing from online. You can talk to people either online or on a phone system. I was surprised by how much we could do from here and equally surprised by how much a lot of people living in the United States weren’t doing when we could do it here.
It’s a great talking point. I’ve got to say the people out there, use negatives as a positive. When you are talking to people, “I’m sorry if the line is crackling up a little bit. I’m from New Zealand.” “Really?” It’s a rapport building thing. The private lenders that we’ve talked to, we met six or eight of them at the Quest Expo. When they find out you’re from New Zealand, it breaks that initial barrier. “If this guy can get through these barriers and do this from New Zealand, he’s got to be worth investing in to put my money into properties that they’re looking to borrow money off,” and it works. You just got to use those negatives into positives all the time. It’s a great asset.
I love that mindset that you have there. When I talked to you guys, it’s always bittersweet. It’s always very sweet but the bitterness, I felt like a slacker. I feel like I’m not doing enough because you guys are halfway across the world and investing in my backyard. That is amazing. I still get chills thinking about it sometimes, about how cool that is. What’s funny is here’s an ageist question here. I would assume that most of the tech would be handled by Michelle.
Work as ethically and as properly as possible.
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My background is in IT. I did a stint in my later year or mid-year. We’ve built a lot of stuff for some bigger companies. I won’t mention their names. I was a project manager putting together industrial computers. I have a good background in that. I run a Mac. I love Macs to PCs. Now gradually, Michelle has taken over from that. I find myself saying, “Just try to find that out, sort that out for me and do this and whatever.” I’m getting lazy, but I enjoy doing more. I’m talking to people on the phone. Michelle is the brains, I’m the mouthpiece. I pick up the phone and I talk to people. She says to me, “Dad, call this guy, call that lady, talk to them.” If I get any issues, she’s dealing with all the marketing on social media. She’s doing all of that for me. She’s taken all the online courses. That’s Michelle’s role.
I was going to say, I do tend to take the reins a little bit more with the tech but not out of any particular ability type thing. It’s that because of what we’re doing, we try to leverage each other’s skills as much as possible. We’ve had a number of conversations. When we first started out, he was pushing me to talk to sellers all the time. That was fine and I can do it, but I’m not as good at it as he is. We started to play off of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. I honestly believe that that’s why we’ve been as successful as we have been because we know that dad can talk the hind legs off a donkey and I can figure out ways to get around contacting people in an online or digital environment. That’s what we try to do every day, playoff those strengths and weaknesses.
You asked about teams, that’s an integral part of what we do. I liaise with the people who are selling the properties. I liaise with the buyers of the properties. Michelle liaises with attorneys, CPAs, and title companies. She says she doesn’t talk to people but she talks to the professionals and I talk to non-professionals, if you want to call them that. That’s the dividing line of it. I’m going to be honest with you, we fought like cat and dog, but it works. We’ve got a synergy between us. We now understand our roles. We’ve talked to other investors. We had a great call with the investor. He’s struggling with a few aspects of his business. We’re hoping we might be able to help out in that scenario. It really does. It takes a while to settle into doing this to people. You’re going to get hurdles. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a personal confrontation between you and your team member. Whether it’s between you, a buyer, a seller, a private lender or a podcast host. It can be anybody but work through it. We’ve all got problems. We all got issues. There is light at the other end of the tunnel. It’s simple as that.
I wanted to talk about how you build your teams. In Florida, you found somebody there to co-wholesale with you. Now that you’ve moved into Texas, how are you developing or how are you finding appraisers, attorneys, the title companies and so on. A lot of title companies they’ll say no to something. “We’ve never closed with somebody in New Zealand before.” How do you go about building your teams here in Texas?
We had a huge advantage because around about the time that we were looking to start building our teams was around about when we were making moves to come out to Texas in the first place. Regardless of whether we had come to Texas or not, the procedure still would have been the same. It’s quite simply just bringing these people. We will run around as many title companies as we can find the information for online. We’ll ask them the questions. In Texas, our main questions were are there going to be any barriers to us being able to close with you because we were in another country. We did come across quite a few title companies that turned around and said, “No, you do need to be here in order to sign the documents,” which was a little off-putting when we first started, but eventually you find the companies that are quite willing to work around that.
We found an excellent title company up in East Texas who were more than happy to work with us in our particular scenario. They are moved to an online type virtual notary. East Texas Title Company over in Tyler. They are just brilliant and they’ve got an excellent team there. We feel that we can help them develop these systems as well, which is excellent. The procedure is always the same. I suppose it’s an advantage, but we know because we’re overseas, that we are going to need people on the ground in these locations in order to make our business work. Automatically you’re coming at the business model in a completely different direction. You can probably talk more about our actual agents on the ground.
In addition to that, I pick up the phone and call people. Even with you, Keith. When we met, I’m picking your brains about who you’re using for this and who are you using for that. A recommendation is probably the best way to get a good title company, a contractor, electrician, plumber, or whatever you want. Recommendations are the highest form of accolade that you can get rarely. I know it as my background as an electrician, if I did a good job for somebody, I get recommended. That’s how you pick up your work. GCs on the ground, title companies, they want to work with people and do a good job for them. When they do a good job and they’re prepared to stretch themselves just a little bit, work with the people outside of the country, that’s great. We’ll go as far as we can to help them attain that as well. It broadens their business as well as ours.
How Private Lenders Helped them Achieve their Goals and So Can You
The first few minutes we were speaking, I used Quest IRA. These are the handful of attorneys that I’ll use and I have a title company. As the lender, I don’t demand what title company or in some states, they close at attorneys’ offices with their escrow. When I do my own investing, I have my favorite title company that I use. A shout out to Kelly Owens over at Texas Capital here in Houston. She’s an integral member of my team because if I have questions like, “This sounds like a BS excuse. Can you help me out here?” She’ll say, “All they need to do is this or they need this form.” It’s whatever they need to do. It’s vital to have a good title company or at least an escrow officer on your side that you can send business to and expand their business but also in exchange they can help you out as well. I will call East Texas Title in Tyler and tell them they owe me $10. Other than going up and asking people, how do you find your private lenders from abroad?
It’s the same way. We got recommendations from people. In addition to Quest, we’re in touch with a few other IRA custodians. I call them and say, “We’d love to work with you. We realized there are barriers that we can’t breach. There’s obviously confidentiality, but if there’s a way that we can work together, please let me know.” With that, a few people come back and ask us more about that and that’s it. Those are some of the ways. You’re going to be very careful of solicitation for funding. We’re well aware of the SEC guidelines. We could say, “We’re going to break them and come and get us to see what you can do. We’re in New Zealand but we wouldn’t do that.
One of our things has always been to work as ethically as properly as possible. We’ve turned business away, done deals, but it makes them nothing just to do things in the right way. We need to make sure that everybody we work with and everybody who works with us is treated fairly professionally. We do what we say we’re going to do. When we’re talking to private lenders, it’s very important that we got a credibility kit that we send to them. We show them and it gives them a lot of what we’ve spoken about. What’s our background? Where do we come from? How do we do our deals? With Mitch behind us, if we get any issues at all, we’ll give Mitch a call to say, “Have you come across this? How do we overcome it?” From a lender’s perspective, we’ve got not only our experience, but we’ve got twenty to 25 years if it wasn’t Mitch Stephen behind us. As far as finding these people, talking. Call.
Understand what you can do from a distance, and then figure out how you can leverage the different tools that are available out there to your advantage.
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The most difficult part about finding lenders in particular, dad was saying when we first started out in business in the US, a lot of people in the US want somebody to front up to them. They want to stand in front of you and shake your hands so that they can make that initial assessment of you. Read your body language, all that sort of thing. It’s been a huge thing that we’ve had to try and figure out a way around. It’s about understanding what you can do from a distance and then figuring out how you can leverage the different tools that are available out there to your advantage. We are using things like LinkedIn and Facebook to a degree that probably a lot of other people are not, to try and find professionals that we might need to speak to, who might be interested in learning a little bit about investing.
We don’t hold anything back either. I don’t know what a lot of other people in our situation might do. Sometimes people’s tendencies are to sugarcoat everything or to hold information back in the hopes that they either don’t put their foot in it or maybe they don’t give away all of their information about how the business is done on. Certainly, dad and me as well, we’ve never ever been like that. We tell you how it is. We’ll tell you everything. He will even sometimes tell you the list that we’re buying.
My wife says, “Why are you telling people that? It’s your business.” I said, “The guy needs our help. I’ve got to try and help him.”
It is the genuine nature that we manage to get across to a lot of people. We are genuine. It’s not just a persona that we put on or anything. We legitimately enjoy working in this industry. The stuff that we were doing in Florida. Every time we close on a property and give the seller their check, it was amazing. We had one lady who, it could be considered an absolute disaster story. It took us twelve to eighteen months to close her property. You can tell the story. It was incredible.
It was a probate property. We made an offer to her. The place was trashed. She hadn’t seen it for many years. We worked with her. We got it done and, in the end, we have lots of issues because of different states. She was in New York and the property was in Florida. We had probate problems with two sets of lawyers. We got through it and she was very appreciative at the end of it.
She lost a lot of money because through her own personal reasons or whatever, she delayed taking up our offers. She went to a realtor at one point and tried to sell it through a realtor. She did end up losing an awful lot of money. The biggest thing that we took away from it was that she came back to us. At the end of the day, when she got her check at closing, she was still so thankful and grateful that we’ve managed to solve that problem for her and it was the biggest boost.
Why Private Lenders are Forward Thinkers
I was going to tackle what Michelle was saying about fronting up with people. One of the big reasons that we came to the States, it wasn’t to meet investors so much or meet title companies. It was to find these private lenders. We’re talking to normal people with retirement funds here that probably don’t understand how they can use those retirement funds, any kind of capital. The perception of a lot of people is to invest in the stock market. You’ll be well aware of all this. I’ve invested in the stock market. Have you won? One minute you’re earning 50% or 60% on your investment, the next minute it’s down at zero and you got nothing back at all. What we’re looking for people that have the forward-thinking ability to see that percentage rates that we’re offering them, every single payment coming in mailbox money every single month, it’s a more sustainable and reliable method of using those funds for the future or for whatever.
If he’s going back into the IRA, then it’s building the IRA. There are so many things that we can do to help these people. To do that on a phone, we thought that’s going to be tricky to do. We came over, we met the people at Quest Expo. While we were talking to them, we found that this isn’t so much different than doing your own fund. When we got back here, we started to adapt to similar principle and I always use the New Zealand thing. It breaks down those barriers and you start talking to people. Some people are not interested, but others are receptive and they don’t know what we’ve got to teach them.
When we can tell them that, “You can make anywhere between 6% to 9% on your money for the next five years and we’ll keep your principal safe. It’s secured by a first lien on the property, and it’s this and it’s that.” They start to sit and think of nothing else. We get a few phone calls come back and say, “How does that really work?” It’s all done on the phone. Nothing is impossible. The trip to Texas was exceptional. We went to Houston, Dallas, Tyler, and Longview. We went back to Dallas, Houston and we went to San Antonio. It was a wonderful trip and we’ll be doing it again, but not specifically for any reason. Just because we love the environment. We like being amongst these people.
I love your story and I got along great with you guys and I hope to continue to stay in touch through our careers here. Thank you for coming on. I have some oddball questions I’d like to throw at you that you’re not prepared for. 2008, in New Zealand, real estate market similar to the US, what happened?
It's all done on the phone now; nothing's impossible.
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It didn’t hit here. In fact, I was on the floor laughing at one stage because we had a guy came on the TV and say, “Doom and disaster in the US. This has happened and the GFC hit, but don’t worry New Zealand, we’re too far away. This can’t happen to us.” That’s what he said on national TV. In mid-2009, it all started to hit. We started to lose a lot of money, especially in places like Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Some of the bigger cities here. We had exactly the same thing, but it was delayed and that continued until 2011, 2012. It started to pick up in 2012, 2013, which is incidentally that’s when I came out in 2012 to Sacramento to do the course.
I felt that it was going to take a lot longer to recover here. In some respect, it has. It hasn’t bounced back quite as quickly. It continues to be a difficult market. When you have properties in Auckland, which we say the average here in New Zealand is $45,000 to $50,000. I don’t know the stats on there. I can’t quote that exactly. If you guess $50,000, the median price in Auckland at the moment is getting $600,000 to $700,000, or more than that. If you take that into account with the ratio that we can look at in States where the median price is around $45,000, we can buy properties for $30,000. It’s a very difficult market here.
It sounds like you guys got the best of two horrible worlds. The East Coast and the West Coast of the United States. Those are San Francisco and New York prices, sounds like. In Texas, are you sticking toward the bigger cities? I know Tyler is not considered a big city at all. It’s very country compared to the Metroplexes of Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, but I would say a quieter city. Are you specifically looking for more rural areas? Without giving away the secret sauce, what’s your strategy there? What type of properties are you looking for and where?
We’re looking anywhere where we can buy properties for the half price of it down there. In Florida, we tended to focus on one or maybe two markets. We divert a little bit into Orlando and we had this mentality that we had to be in one market. In Texas, we’ve developed a different mentality in there. We know that we can invest in just about any market in Texas. We’ve looked at Houston, we’ve looked at Tyler, and we’ve looked at Fort Worth. We’ve looked at some of the outlying areas like Longview, Marshall, Vermont, Weatherford, and lots of different places. I don’t think that we specifically have any particular market. At the moment, we are focusing around the Fort Worth area just because we wanted to, but there’s no reason why we would have to do it.
We’ve got strategic relationships with people in several different markets. East Texas being one, Houston being another, and mainly Fort Worth. We’re nurturing those relationships. They are all very good markets. I’m going to say that the stability of the Texas market is the thing that drives us, not necessarily locations. We know people are investing in Texarkana and El Paso. They’re not big markets, but they’re making headlines. We don’t want to compete with the big investors in Houston, for example. There’s no need for us to do that. We’ve got plenty of contacts around to do exactly what we want to do. In some respect, some of these markets are growing markets. That’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for growing emerging markets. Places where universities are popping up, hospitals are popping up. People are coming in from California and also around Dallas at the moment. That’s a good market to be in. It’s not one specific thing.
The state is quite diverse and quite large. Not only it’s flora fauna in real estate markets. You mentioned when the guy came on TV and said it’s going to happen or we’re going to be insulated. You said the GFC hit. What is the GFC?
Global Financial Crisis.
There you go. I just wanted to make sure.
That would interject as well. It didn’t hit us here like it hit the States. We didn’t have people losing their homes and being forced out onto the street. That’s not how it manifested here but certainly, our economy took a hit. As a result, that’s when the government started tightening up on all that legislation around homeownership.
Also, how they would lend to people. A lot of financial institutions went under. The banks were then criticized and questioned about their practices. Lots and lots of stuff like that and all very political and all very boring.
Have strategic relationships with people in several different markets.
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I’m just curious because the whole distance thing is wonderful that you guys have found a way to do this. If there’s any way I can help promote your course once you get it put together, please let me know.
It’s something we’ve been thinking about for a long time. Certainly, that was one of the biggest takeaways we got from our trip to Texas was just how many people were amazed by what we do from here. We like to share our knowledge.
From the perspective of helping people, we do help people with houses, but we also like to help people that are new to the business as well. Many people say, “I’d like to get into wholesaling. How do we do that?” I’ve offered them some initial advice and try to mentor them. Some of them have fallen away. Some of them have been good enough to come back and take some more instruction from me and it begs the question, “Why don’t we help these people as well?” It’s not all about money because up to now the advice has been given freely over the phone. I do think there’s an area here that people, not only in the US but outside the US could identify ways. We can help those people as well.
I want to come back and touch base with you guys in about another year. The next Quest Expo is going to be in Houston. Steve and Michelle, thank you so much for coming on. I really do appreciate it. It’s great to see you guys and talk to you again. I wish you all the best in investing in getting private lenders.
Same to you and Landon as well.
Thank you so much, Keith.
I want to thank Steve and Michelle for that great episode. I hope you enjoyed it. Please leave me a rating and review on iTunes, Google Podcast, Stitcher, SoundCloud or whatever platform you are using at the moment or leave a comment. Please help spread the word so others can find this and learn as well. You connect with me on social media on all the channels. I want to thank you and ask all of you to please keep emailing me. I know I don’t respond very quickly. Sometimes it might not seem that I do at all. I’ve had a lot of issues with the email lately, but I’ve got it fixed. Please keep that up. I do appreciate the communication, the questions and the words of support. Thanks again for being here. I want to wish all of you safe and prosperous private lending and investing.
- Victor Menasce – previous episode
- Steve Green
- Michelle Green
- Quest IRA Expo
- Rich Dad Poor Dad
- Mitch Stephen
- East Texas Title Company
- Private Lender Podcast on iTunes
- Private Lender Podcast on Stitcher
- Private Lender Podcast on SoundCloud
About Steve Green
Steve, his wife Sue, and daughters Michelle & Tania moved to New Zealand from England in 2003. Steve trained as an electrical engineer in England in the early 1980s. He quickly moved into running his own company, working on large and small scale domestic, industrial and commercial projects. Steve has been self-employed for the majority of his life. In his businesses, he has managed large and small teams of employees and contractors, networked and conducted sales for his companies and those he has contracted to, overseen and coordinated projects of all shapes and sizes including various production projects, and been responsible for collating budgets.
About Michelle Green
Michelle and her family moved to New Zealand from England in 2003. She completed her tertiary education and graduated with a Law Degree in 2012. She has been a practicing attorney in New Zealand since 2016. Prior to that, she worked as a paralegal in Canberra, Australia whilst completing her Master’s degree in International Law.
As a property and real estate lawyer, Michelle worked primarily with large scale developer clients on multi-lot subdivisions throughout the North Island. She also worked with rural clients on smaller scale subdivisions and resource management issues. Although initially electing a career in law, Michelle has always nurtured a keen interest in real estate. She obtained a real estate license in 2011 and during her first year in Canberra she worked as a rental agent and salesperson for an agency in the central city.