Real Estate

How Nancy Rodriguez from ‘Love is Blind’ Hit Financial Freedom BEFORE Fame


Most people would assume ‘Love is Blind’ star Nancy Rodriguez built most of her wealth after appearing on the show. But most people would be wrong. For the past seven years, Nancy has been quietly building a cash-flowing rental property portfolio, allowing her to become debt-free, go full-time into real estate, and build generational wealth for her family. She started her journey with 0% down loans, worked her way up to short-term rentals, and is now buying properties in cash across the great state of Texas.

Nancy grew up with limited financial education. Money wasn’t a topic that was often discussed but witnessing her parents work hard to obtain it taught her that wealth was worth attaining. After graduating from college, she was strapped with six figures in student debt, prompting her to become a debt-free Dave Ramsey disciple. But, as she paid off her debt, the fear of leverage fell away, allowing her to pick up property number one with a 0% down payment.

From there, she piled her money into properties, buying as many “ugly” homes as possible and turning them into worthwhile stays. She’s dealt with burnt interiors, squatters, and bad contractors, but nothing has stopped her from achieving the financial freedom she sought. Now in the limelight, Nancy is trying to help others do the same. So if you want to repeat Nancy’s system without going on reality TV, tune into this episode!

Ashley:
This is Real Estate Rookie episode 261.

Nancy:
I think a big part of my journey really started with not understanding what debt was when I went to school, my undergrad, not really understanding what it meant to get a car loan right before I graduated. And then having finished school and having $100,000 of debt. I did go through like the Dave Ramsey baby steps to get rid of my debt, and that took about two years, which was around the same time I actually bought my first property as a duplex and I did the house hacking for that property.

Ashley:
My name is Ashley Kehr and I’m here with my co-host Tony Robinson.

Tony:
And welcome to the Real Estate Rookie Podcast, where every week, twice a week, we’ll bring you the inspiration, motivation, and stories you need to hear to kickstart your investing journey. And today I want to shout out someone by the username of Shep 34. They said, must download if you want financial freedom. The real estate rookie is the best real estate podcast out there with invaluable information that has helped me grow my portfolio. I’ve learned so much over the last year from Ashley and Tony to work towards financial freedom. To top it off, my eight-year-old daughter will even listen to it with me because she loves Ashley. She always says she sounds so happy, and she’s already sharing ideas to buy empty stores and rent them as offices. So if you haven’t yet, please, you leave us an honest rating and review on whatever podcast platform it is you’re listening to. The more views we get, more folks we can help and helping folks that we want to do. But Ashley, how do you feel inspiring young eight year old girls out there to jump into the world of real estate investing?

Ashley:
Tony, since this airs the day after Valentine’s Day, all I have to say is I don’t even need a Valentine this year. All I have to do is go and read your guys love notes to me on the podcast reviews. So thank you so much. But I, okay. That is so cool. I love getting kids involved in interested into what is going on here. Yeah, so exciting and thank you so much for sharing that with us. So if you’re listening, eight year old girl.

Tony:
There you go.

Ashley:
Thank you so much for listening and we can’t wait to have you on the show as a guest sometime.

Tony:
Cool. What else is going on, Ashley? How are things in your neck of the woods?

Ashley:
Good. We just had a blizzard here about a month ago.

Tony:
Oh, crazy blizzard, right? Oh my goodness.

Ashley:
I don’t know what I was doing, but I went to go and look at my phone and I had 10 text messages of people asking if I was okay. They’re like, “Oh, it must have hit national news.” But it actually just missed our house. We were very south of it. We had the really bad winds and snow was blowing, but we barely got any snow. Snow, so we didn’t have really high drifts or anything like that. So we spent the days snowboarding, ice skating. We had a deep freeze also at the same time. So the pond froze over at one of my properties. So we turned into an ice skating rink that was super fun. So we had two properties that had some damage from the storm, just one having ice build up on the roof and then leaking in. And then also one of the rehabs we’re doing right now, there’s just three inches of water sticking out of the ground, and we didn’t have any of the water actually hooked up.
Well, somehow the furnace got shut off. We think the flipped the switch was flipped on the breaker or something, or it’s a brand new furnace. Well then the furnace froze, so we couldn’t get it to restart. Well, then when we finally got it restarted, the plumbers came and actually dethawed the furnace, we put a heater on it, an electric heater. Then when that started working again, the water in the pipe that had froze it cracked the pipe. And I put a picture of it on my Instagram. I mean, it was a pretty good crack into this metal piping. And so it was spraying out everywhere. Luckily, the flooring wasn’t down yet and didn’t we? There’s another cabin on the property where my business partner’s actually living. So he had happened to just stop in and see if the furnace had turned on yet or what was going on, and he saw the water spraying. So he was able to do a fix with that, and we got it taken care of right away. So I think we were lucky compared to a lot of people as far as the storm damage that happened.

Tony:
Yeah, since we’re sharing horror stories, I got two quick ones. So this Christmas was super crazy for us because we have properties that are on the East Coast as well. We had water outages, we had power outages, and not just for a day. The water, our pipes froze, and this is the first time it ever happened to us as well. And we didn’t even know what to do. That’s never happened to us in our life. So we’re like, “What do you do when the pipes freeze?” We have our handyman out there trying to dethaw the pipes and all these other things. But anyway, we found out there’s a lot of things you can do moving forward to kind of prevent that from happening.
But then in our California properties, we have propane tanks and we paid extra to have meters on the propane tanks that the propane company can measure the levels, and they just refill it as it gets below like 25%. On two of our properties, the meters were broken, so the properties went without gas. The gas company was never notified. And because it was the holiday, we had families that were there over Christmas weekend that didn’t have gas, the property. So it was a terrible Christmas from a property perspective. Just another day in the life.

Ashley:
Well, one of the things I know to do the pipes is to, you leave a little water trickling, turn a faucet on a little bit to help that happen. But what about the propane issue is how do you even prevent that from happening? If they break, are you having, every time the cleaners come now, they’re checking to make sure the gauge is still working?

Tony:
It was the company. I think it was the company because both those tanks are with the same company. And it happened in two separate places. It was one in Tennessee where it was … I won’t say the name of the company, but it was that company in Tennessee and that same company in California. I think whatever they’re doing with their meters isn’t accurate, so we’re firing that company. We’re placed in with local companies that have better customer service.

Ashley:
Well, today we have an exciting guest on the show. We have a guest from the reality TV show, Love Is Blind, season three. We have Nancy Rodriguez on to talk about her investing journey. She started investing seven years ago. She’s done a focus on house hacking, short-term rentals, but she’s here to talk about how she actually started out with Dave Ramsey and getting her own finances in order and how she built her portfolio.

Tony:
Yeah, it’s really cool. I don’t watch a lot of reality TV, but Love is Blind Season 3 is actually one that I did watch, so I was excited to chat with Nancy. And like you said, she started investing before Love Is Blind even premiered. So don’t listen to this episode thinking like, “Oh, she only did that because she was this famous TV person.” She had a lot of hard work and she invested a lot of her time, her energy into building this foundation far before Love is Blind to allow her to start investing in real estate.
So there’s a lot of really good nuggets throughout this episode. But one of the things that I really loved that Nancy talked about, two things. One was how she handled squatters and hoarders that were living in her property before she purchased them, and how she got both of those people to leave the property peacefully and with the property in good condition. She did, not once, but twice. And the second thing she talks about is NACA and this loan program that she used to purchase one of her property. So two really good things to listen to in this episode.

Ashley:
Nancy, welcome to the show. For everyone listening, you may recognize Nancy from Love Is Blind season three, and that is where we found out that Nancy invests in real estate. It came up on the show and you’ve actually been doing it for seven years, which is amazing. So Nancy, can you tell everyone a little bit about yourself and how you got started in real estate?

Nancy:
Yeah, absolutely. I just want to say I am so excited to be here, first of all, because part of the whole podcast era for me, that has been the last 10 years really focusing on where does my mentorship come from when I don’t have a close friend or a family member who knows about what I want to learn. So for me, Bigger Pockets has always been a podcast that I’ve either gone to or really starting with Dave Ramsey and then just working my way through the different types of streams and episodes that y’all have. So thank you so much for having this platform for us, people who truly want to DIY a dream and really put it to life. So I think a big part of my journey really started with not understanding what debt was when I went to school, my undergrad, not really understanding what it meant to get a car loan right before I graduated, and then having finished school and having $100,000 of debt and realizing that now I have a career as a speech pathologist, and what am I going to do with this?
So I think for me, it was realizing that I was in a position where I could make a change in my family, the thinking of what money is and how it will change your life if you treat money differently or if you learn about it. And so I did go through the Dave Ramsey baby steps to get rid of my debt, and that took about two years, which was around the same time I actually bought my first property as a duplex, and I did the house hacking for that property. And that actually afforded me the opportunity to save up so much money in two years that I was able to pay off my $100,000 of debt.

Tony:
That by itself is super impressive. $100,000 in two years is super impressive. But Nancy, I want to go back because you talked about Dave Ramsey, and I think a lot of people kind of start in that community, but Dave obviously preaches no debt. If you want to buy real estate, 15% down, do this, do that. So being a real estate investor, making that your full-time thing sometimes is that odds with what Dave Ramsey preaches. So how did you transition from being Dave Ramsey disciple to being an actual real estate investor?

Nancy:
It’s funny, because in that same process that I was going through the baby steps, I was also reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad. I guess the way that I really saw it was it’s kind of like the general rule of don’t eat the cookies, don’t eat the cookies. Cookies are bad. So then no one’s going to eat the cookies, but what if I just eat half of a cookie and I can control myself and I can eat the other half tomorrow? So I think having that concept of understanding what it meant to be debt free, fully having that feeling and then also knowing, but now that I’m debt free, what can I do next? And then that’s when I really just tried to, in the smartest way possible, still be debt free, but then figure out, okay, well the next deal maybe can’t be cash only, it’s going to have to be with a mortgage. And I think understanding the concept of having a mortgage be not so much of a liability because it was an income producing property. I think that’s really what changed the mindset as well.

Ashley:
And during this Dave Ramsey transition, did you already own your own home or did you purchase your first home, not even an investment property before or after Dave Ramsey?

Nancy:
Yeah, so the Dave Ramsey era started, it’s funny because when I graduated in 2014, I was 25, 24, and I didn’t think that, “Oh, in the next couple years I want to buy property.” So that wasn’t on my mind because I had $100,000 of debt. So I knew that there was like, I need to slow my horse. So what happened is that I actually, two years into being a speech pathologist, I actually heard about a program called NACA, and it was just a dinner that I had gone to with a realtor, and then the other guy was a wholesaler, and then his wife was also a wholesaler.
So they just randomly said, “Hey, we’re going to this NACA meeting tomorrow. Do you want to come?” So went to the NACA meeting and was super excited about being a homeowner. That was the idea, oh my gosh, I could actually have my own home. And you guys don’t care about the certain qualifications that they have is you can have debt, you just can’t have debt in collections, and then other benefits or they pay for your closing costs, you get the lowest interest rate. And then also, yeah, I said they pay for your closing costs and I had no down payment.

Ashley:
And it’s zero down payment.

Nancy:
Yes, it’s a zero down payment. So the really cool thing about that process is that when I was learning about Dave Ramsey and learning about investing in general, it was all either through hearsay, but nothing that I had actually done. So when I went through the NACA program, it was about a, I want to say six to ten month process from the day I went to my meeting to the day that I got approved. And then once you’re approved, then you have to go through the home buying process, put in 20 offers before I was actually able to get a deal locked down. So what happened is that in the NACA program, it is a very stringent program. They are very into your finances. They want to know exactly what money’s coming in and what’s coming out. So for the NACA program, it was so stringent on budgeting and monthly finances.
And because I had put in so many offers, I just wasn’t getting the houses that I was putting offers for. So I kept saving and then saving and then saving. So six to ten months later, you’re like, “Oh my gosh, I have all this money, just a lump sum and I don’t have a down payment.” Oh, one more more thing that I took advantage of is they actually allow you to roll in repairs into your loan, which is a really neat feature.
Again, just knowing, okay, if I’m going to get a property and there are some, even if it’s just cosmetic, I want to paint the house or whatever it might be, they will actually allow, with certain restrictions, they will allow you to roll in the repairs, roll it into the loan. So once I close on the house, and again, no down payment, I think my closing costs, because I did have some fees that I had to pay, I think it was a thousand dollars that I had to come to closing with and proof of reserves, not that I was going to use the reserves, but just the proof of I think it’s three to six months of reserves that I had saved up and I closed on the property.
So at this point, I went through the NACA program that really kept me tight on my budget, and I was at the same time listening to Dave Ramsey and Bigger Pockets and reading Rich Dad, poor Dad that I knew. At that point, I was like, okay, it’s time to close on this house, which I did. And the very next day I had all this money saved up that I knew that the only other option, which I could have done so many things with that because you think, “Oh, I bought my house, let me go on a vacation and congratulate myself.”
But no, I hurt so bad, but it also felt so good to write those checks to my loan agencies from school. My car note, I went in to the bank for that one to just write a $14,000 check and hand it over. And they were like, “Are you sure?” I’m like, “Yeah, I’m sure.” So yeah, that’s kind of where that process I think happened with doing the debt free, wanting to really understand where my finances were going, and then once I was able to pay everything off, it launched the rest of my real estate career.

Tony:
Nancy, what a fantastic story. And I just want to talk about NACA just a little bit because it is such a great tool, not just for primary residents, but for investors as well. And I know other investors who have used NACA to buy small multifamily to where they’re house hacking with NACA loans, and it’s a great tool, but it is super stringent. And my wife and I, when we were searching for our primary residents, we went through the NACA process as well. We got approved through NACA, but it was so difficult to find a property that met their criteria. We just ended up giving up. But if you can, I just want to recap the benefits of using NACA for folks that might have missed it.
It’s no down payment. So they’re covering 100% of the purchase price. They cover the majority of your closing costs, and the interest rates are typically lower than prevailing interest rates. I just looked up NACA’s website right now. They always post what the market rates are, and right now they’re at a 5.6 on a 30 year fixed. Ash, have you closing anything recently using personal debt? Do you know where rates are right now on the personal side?

Ashley:
Yeah, actually I do. If you want, I can just pull it up real quick.

Tony:
Yeah, we closed in a cabinet like six and a half, so almost a whole point higher than NACA. What have you closed on at recently?

Ashley:
So I did a commercial loan and I did it for a five-year fixed 20 year amortization, and that was at 7.4%. But then I just got a quote for a personal loan. There was a current rate for a 30 year at six and half percent, 20-year, 6.375% and 15 year 6%. But then they also offered an ARM mortgage, a 5/1 ARM at 3.62 for 2.5%, and then a 7/1 ARM, which would be, let’s see, where’s the seven, would be at 3.875% for the first seven years.

Tony:
So NACA is great. You get a 30-year fixed, a point typically lower than what prevailing interest rates are, and it’s a great product. So Nancy, you actually closed on the NACA loan and bought your primary residence. That’s what you said, and through that process, how you saved up all this money to go out and do these other things?

Nancy:
Yeah, absolutely. And one of the other benefits too, because once I did the program, I was spreading the word like the bird. I was telling everyone who was a first time home buyer, you can do this, but just be stringent about all the rules and the regulations. So I actually I had a friend who did the same program, NACA in Chicago, and I think he ended up buying, I forget what the details are, but when he closed on his NACA property, they actually matched his buy down points. So his interest rate at the end of all the buying down and what they were able to match, you have to qualify for the match, but once you do, his interest rate was 0.025, something insane. And this was years ago. This is years ago, but a friend, just to give some light, a friend closed on a NACA loan last summer in Florida, and she got her interest rate down to 1.25, I believe, with the matching of the buy down because they qualified for it.
So yeah, there’s other benefits too that they don’t actually really advertise that part of it because I think the main thing is just really getting people who are first time home buyers to understand their finances, what are you making? What is going on every single month? And being able to educate the NACA, I guess people who are accepting the NACA mortgages on how to manage that on a month-to-month basis and how to qualify through that process. So it is actually very educational. I don’t know if you got that too, Tony, from learning about the payment shock process and what it is of how much can you actually afford? And the underwriting that they do for mortgages is much more detailed than what-

Tony:
I’ve closed on tons of properties at this point. And the NACA loan approval process was by far the absolute worst. The amount of documents that they asked for, the level of detail that they go into your personal life is insane, but at the end of day, you get a really cool loan product. So Nancy, I guess let’s talk a little bit more, right? So you go through this process with NACA, you get your primary residence. What else are you doing to build that big pile of cast you have at the end? Is it just that you’re saving money from your job or you doing other things to help subsidize and build that nest egg a little faster?

Nancy:
Yeah, what happened once I closed on the property and I paid all the debt off? Is that what you mean? What happened next? Yeah, so what happened next is that I closed on a duplex. So when I was living on one side, I had no rent. And the tenant at the time, she had been there for about 10 years, so she was just paying normal rent, actually way below market rent. So I gave her some time and I gave her a deal. I said, look, if you want to renew, and she was month to month, I gave her the option to renew at a higher, if she wanted to stay for three years, she would get a higher monthly rent payment. But if she didn’t want to renew or if she wanted to go month to month, I believe that is what it was, I gave her the option … I wanted her to leave is what I was trying to say.
I wanted her to terminate the lease because she had been there for 10 years and been paying really low rent. So although she wanted a long-term lease, I made that one more expensive versus the month to month. So because she wanted month to month, she ended up just moving out six months after. So then I was able to save at that point because rent was coming in from the duplex. Anything that I was making from the one or two jobs or three jobs that I had at that time was really just saving it up for the next deal. And then the next deal was a $40,000 duplex that had burn damage and squatters. It came with squatters and burn damage. And so I think it was just really seeing that in six months, I believe it was about a six-month timeline from the closing, I guess within at least the next six to 10 months was when the next property was purchased. But again, buying ugly, buying with squatters, it was on the market for a while, and at that point, 40,000 was attainable just to purchase the property.

Ashley:
Nancy, how did you get the courage to jump into a property that had squatters, that had fire damage? What was your mindset behind that is to, okay, I can make this beautiful and I can rent it out?

Nancy:
What’s so funny is that day that I wanted to go see the property, I got ready, the realtor that was working with me, he came as well and we were ready. We had a game plan because the listing actually said in the description section, by the way, it comes with squatters. So we go to the property and they were having a garage sale. So I was like, okay, this is my point of contact. I’m going to buy some stuff from their garage sale, not tell them that I’m here for the house, but just I bought a ladder, don’t know where they got a ladder from. I bought some random tools that they had and some stuff, and then I gave them a $10 tip or something. And then slowly just talking with them, they were really nice people. They were just in a really rough place that at that time they just weren’t ready to leave the house.
So getting to know them on that first initial visit was I think what sweetened the deal for them. Once I closed on the property, what I did is I actually hired them to do the demo work. And so we made a deal that, okay, we have this many weeks and I want you, I’m going to pay you this much on a weekly basis as long as the progress is being done on the house and after this demo was done, you have to move out. And they agreed to it. So I think it was just really seeing them as people and seeing them as just you’re going through something and I have the ability to help you get to the next phase or the next transition. So the squatter, I actually don’t know their real names. I just know that the guy’s name is Buzz and the wife was Big Baby. So Buzz and Big Baby were my friends for a while.

Tony:
Ashley, out of all the guests we’ve interviewed on this podcast, have you ever heard of a situation where squatters not only happily leave your property, but they fix it for you before they leave?

Ashley:
No, I think this is a new record, yeah.

Tony:
Yeah, that is probably the best situation with squatters that I’ve ever had. We bought a property over the summer last year that had squatters in it, and it was tough trying to get those people out. So the fact that you found a very peaceful and mutually beneficial way to get them out is fantastic. But I want to go back to something you said earlier. You kind of mentioned it briefly, but you said that you were working two or three jobs at the time. I guess what was the motivation for doing that? And did those funds maybe go towards this rehab job you just talked about? Or what was the purpose of those working so many jobs at one time?

Nancy:
It’s funny because I think for me it’s always been a baseline to have, if you have extra time you work. And I think that’s something that comes from my mom and dad’s work ethic. They’re both immigrants from Mexico. And so for them it was always, if I’m not at home with the kids, I should be working or vice versa. My mom would work the night shift and then my dad would work the day shift. So even just switching off jobs. So I think that mentality has always been in my ingrained in if you want something to happen, how do you do that and how do you make that possible? So the reason that I actually continued to have multiple jobs after I got my career as a speech pathologist is because I literally had extra time. And so I knew that with the next deal that $40,000 duplex, I knew that the funds to pay for the rehab was going to come from my pocket.
So then again, it just gave me more motivation to have a second job as a speech pathologist, continue my job online as a research analyst. And then actually at the time, I think that was about the last year that I was able to do my egg donation. And so I qualified one last time for egg donating. So that was another form of income that was coming in on that last year. So yeah, it just kind of seems like that’s what I’m supposed to do. At least until I recently got into the last two years, I’ve been full-time real estate, and it’s kind of nice to be like, “Oh, this is kind of my only job. I don’t have to go to work anywhere else. This is as easy as it gets.” But it took a long time to get to a place where I don’t, and even now, now I’m back to having multiple forms of income, which is so good. But again, I think it’s just a mentality.

Tony:
Yeah, I love that. Because you had this strong kind of financial fundamental foundation between watching your parents, you talked about the Dave Ramsey piece and wanting to pay off the debt, but what was your relationship with money and work like growing up? Was that always how it was? Or was it once you realized you had this burden of debt, what was it for you growing up?

Nancy:
No, I think money has always been a topic that my family never spoke about. And I think unfortunately, although my parents were trying to protect us, I didn’t know why we were going to this church on Christmas where our names were being called and we were coming up to get gifts. I didn’t know that that was the lower income families that were going to, that was our Christmas gift that year. So I think our family just didn’t really have the concept of, “Hey, it’s okay to talk about these problems at home.” And all we saw was the product of it. We saw that there was food on the table. We saw that mom and dad were always working jobs. So I think for me, as I got older, my first job was at 12 working at my godparents’ restaurant, busing tables on weekends when I wasn’t in school.
So I think for me, the concept of money was always just work until you have to save, and then you spend what you work, and there’s no real concept of investing because you don’t have the funds to do that. But again, I think as a young 12-year-old, I knew I wanted to go to the dance and buy the dress that I wanted. So I was like, okay, well, I’m going to work every weekend until I save up the money to do that. I will say one of my favorite memories looking back at when I started looking at money and wanting to do things was I had just moved to Texas and I was in third grade and I wanted to get my dad a Father’s Day gift, but we had no money. So I hosted a garage sale and I just grabbed a bunch of random things in the house and my mom was okay with me giving away or I guess selling, and I made 30 bucks. I bought him a razor. He was so excited, an electric razor, not the plastic lens.
So yeah, I think for me the concept was always you just work until you don’t have any extra time left. I think where really things turned around was realizing that in after grad school and having $100,000 that I owed to someone, that fear of what happens if I can’t afford to pay this next? Thankfully I have a career as a speech pathologist, but what if something happens? And so I think having that mindset, what Dave Ramsey did was really … I call him Uncle Dave because I do feel like he was my guiding light to the right way of understanding money and understanding what it means to be financially free. Then when I actually saw being financially free, the cash flow that was coming in, and again, saving for the next property and then that cash flow coming in, and then it’s like, okay, I guess that there’s another deal coming up. And then that cash flow coming in, I think that was where I really started to mold my concept of finances.

Tony:
Nancy, what a great story. And what you talked about is I feel like there are parallels in how I grew up as well where money was scarce growing up, and I feel like you develop a certain mindset around that. But I think what’s more difficult is that when you grow up in an environment where money is scarce, you develop a certain mentality and the people around you tend to carry that same mentality as well. And it can be kind of hard at times to, I guess, surround yourself with people who have the mentality of someone who wants to be successful and someone who believes that success and wealth and all these other things can actually happen. So all that to say, how has your circle changed as you’ve gone through this mental shift? Do you find yourself maybe cutting people out that you used to associate with and maybe latched onto people that are of a different mindset? How has that changed for you personally?

Nancy:
Yeah, what’s really cool is that once I became debt free, and that was like 2016, that was when I closed on my duplex. When I became debt free again, I was preaching the word like a bird, just telling everybody, “Oh my gosh, it feels so amazing to be debt free.” And so I had a conversation with my mom and I remember she was one of the first ones that I really pushed or convinced to see the light. And having these kinds of conversations, how much do you owe on your house? What’s left on your car? How many credit cards do you have open? What kinds of credit cards do you have? I was what, 26 at the time? And that was the first time we had ever had any kind of conversations that way. I will say that I’m super thankful that at the time I was in a relationship where my partner and I, we were just very much so on the same page to learn about that and to change what we grew up learning.
And he was also a realtor and my business partner. So essentially having that rock as part of our foundation is actually what actually kept our relationship the strongest was that we truly wanted to learn and believe that financial freedom could get us so much more in real estate investing. And so that carried on to talking to my dad about real estate. And so I feel like where I’m at now, I’ll be really transparent. I don’t feel I have a friend that I can just be like, “Hey, we need to talk about, I have these ideas.” So I do have my business partner, I have podcasts that I listen to, and I use that as a sounding board, but not that you guys are talking back to me, but just looking for. If I’m like, “Oh, I want to buy an apartment complex, how do I do that?” I literally just go online and I start looking up Bigger podcasts, Bigger Pockets podcasts, episodes that have that.

Ashley:
Nancy, I can relate so much to what you’re saying. I started investing seven, eight years ago too, and I didn’t know anyone in my area. My first business partner, he’s like, “I just want to invest the money. You do everything. I don’t even want to talk about it or anything.” So it was a very lonely process starting out in the same thing. It took me a couple years to find Bigger Pockets. And even now, there’s not a ton of investors in my area that I have to talk to in person. I literally hang out with my business partner every single day because all I like to do is talk about real estate. So we hang out every day, and then it’s so fun going to conferences, and then I have friends across the country who are in real estate. And now with me being on the podcast, people have reached out to me in my area and be like, “Hey, I’ve actually been investing for several years too. Let’s get together. Let’s connect.”
So I’ve built some friendships and relationships that way, but it can be a very strange transition from going to hanging out with your usual friends to where you only want to talk about real estate and focus on things and not go out drinking and partying and doing all these other things that your friends may be doing, and this sounds awful to say, but another investor that I’m really good friends with, she’s a mom too, and we just say, “We just can’t stand to go and talk to you about your kids or our kids. We like to talk about our kids with their dads and stuff like that and with our kids, but when we’re going out, we want to talk about real estate, building a business, things like that. I’m so sorry, but we don’t care what funny thing your child did that day.”
And it sounds awful to say, but you get into this kind of pattern and you start to realize there’s other people out there that have the same mindset, the same things they enjoy. It can propel you and give you that momentum and just energize you. And of course it’s important to have hobbies and doing things outside of just business and real estate, but having that group of like-minded people and Pace Morby has been talking about that a lot. He’s a really interesting investor out of Arizona, and he talks a lot about how his circle has changed so much because he’s like, “I want people who are going to push me and grow and help me be my best.” And he is like, “I’ve had to change my friendships based upon that too.”

Nancy:
No, definitely. And I think one of the realizations that I had a couple years ago was I was looking for a new CPA and I wanted a CPA who owned real estate. I wanted a CPA who knew Airbnb’s short term rentals. I wanted him to educate me because at the time I was just using my CPA that I’ve used for years, but I knew that I wanted my people that were on my team to feel like my friends, to feel like, okay, you’re here because you’re on my team. And so I think just having that mindset definitely has taken me back from, I don’t want to just go to dinner, like you said, and talk about things that are just like, Ugh, no, can we have real conversations?
But I think that’s definitely, for me, that’s a goal for this next year and having this new platform after Love is Blind, I really do think that it’s going to open up opportunities for me to make those connections and not feel so alone. And in an industry that is so … I think it would be intimidating. I’m not saying it’s been easy at all. So I would say that real estate investing can be intimidating and where do you start and how do you begin? And it’s been seven years, so this didn’t happen overnight. Some people actually asked me, “Oh, so since you were on the show, what have you done in real estate?” And I’m like, “Okay, I’ve been doing this for seven years. It’s been time.” So I’m excited. I’m super excited to take my knowledge of what I know and spread the word, but then also learn as well.

Tony:
I’m so glad that we’re talking about this. And just so last thing before we move on, I think so many rookies that are listening feel the exact same way that both of you have just explained as well. And the good thing is that now, even if physically where you’re at, maybe there isn’t a strong community. There are so many different ways to get involved online, or like you said, actually traveling to conferences. The Real Estate Rookie Facebook group, what asked for 50, almost 60,000 members in that group right now, literally one of the most active, most engaged real estate Facebook groups that there are.
The Bigger Pockets conference, there’s different meetups, there’s so many ways to surround yourself with people who are on the same journey as you or her, or maybe even a step ahead of you. And to me, that has been one of the biggest, I think, blessings of my career is getting to interact with people who have taken the steps that I’m looking to take to look back and say, “Tony, it is possible. It is achievable, you can do it.” So I’m glad we’re all on that same page here. Before we go too far though, Nancy, we haven’t, and we probably should have did this at the top of the show, we haven’t really talked about what your portfolio looks like, what strategies you’re into. So can you give us the 30,000 foot view of what your portfolio looks like today and what strategies you’re using?

Nancy:
Yeah, I currently have five properties and over the last seven years I’ve had up to nine properties. And it’s funny because sometimes I forget whenever one gets sold and then unless it’s tax season, I kind of forget which one was sold on what year. But currently right now I have out of the five two were bought cash only. And just thinking ahead, I know this is off topic, but thinking ahead, I want to really learn more about using those properties as leverage because I think my biggest fear is my other properties do have mortgages on them. And seeing that difference in cash flow is significant from a cash only house versus a house that has a mortgage on it. And then currently I have one duplex and the other are single family homes. And I do focus now more on getting homes that have potential to be short-term rentals.
And then also anytime I consider a new property, I always want to ask myself, what are the other options? Because with regulations of short-term rentals right now in different cities, in a heartbeat, they can ban the short-term rental game. So even just asking myself, can this be a sober living house? Can this be a house that is rented per bedroom? Is this something that I can do where I only rent to a specific genre of professionals? So I think where I’m at now with the portfolio is that I do want to continue to expand on that concept of what are the multiple things that this one property can actually bring in as far as tenants, what kind of tenants can actually be in the house?

Tony:
We talk about that a lot because my entire portfolio is short-term rentals. And people ask me all the time, “Tony, do you have an exit strategy for your short-term rentals?” And we buy, because you’re in Dallas, which is a major metro, every property that we own is in a true vacation destination where there is no business headquarters, universities or anything like that. So that’s kind of how we hedge against the idea of regulation shifting is that we buy in markets that are somewhat economically dependent on short-term rentals operating in those markets. So there’s definitely different ways to go about achieving that same goal.
Before we move on to our next segment, Nancy, I just want to talk a little bit because we’ve touched on this a bit, but you spoke about your upbringing and the role that your parents played and this mindset you have about working hard and using your time effectively and hustling pretty much. You’ve come a long way from where your childhood was. So when you think about your parents, what is their reaction to the success you’ve had so far and just what do they think of everything you’ve done so far?

Nancy:
No, I think that words can only go so far. So they’re very proud, they’re very excited. Even my dad telling me the first time he got recognized because someone recognized me that he was my dad in person a couple months ago, and he was just beaming with joy. So words is one thing, but I think what I’ve seen in my family is the actions that they have taken. So even my mom paying off her house, paying off her cars, she’s now doing real estate investing in the town that I grew up in, and she just bought a vacation home. So for me that is like, “Okay, I’m planting the seeds and letting them grow.”
My dad too, he’ll call me one day and he’s like, “Okay, I just sold another house. I have this much money, what should I do next?” I’m like, “Dad, let’s start investing in your Roth IRA or let’s put some money here, or let’s,” so I think for me it’s the actions that I’ve seen my parents do that has just any words are fine, but it’s the actions that I’ve seen them implement in their lives. And they’re actually still pretty young for my mom and dad. My mom will be 50 this year, and my dad is in his mid-50s. So there’s still so much time that they have left, and I think they’re really just seeing, at least in the last seven years that I’ve been doing my success in real estate and the mistakes that I’ve made along the way, but they’ve really just took what I’ve been giving them as far as knowledge and really ran with it.

Ashley:
That is so powerful, just talking about how yes, your parents could say they’re so proud of you or what you’re doing is awesome, really cool, you’ve become so successful. But the fact that they are implementing and taking action on what you have shared with them, it shows a million times stronger how much they actually value and show how proud they are of you that they are going to go and model and do the same exact thing for themselves. And I think that that really does show how proud of you they are and these amazing accomplishments that you have made. It really goes a long way seeing that action instead of just words.
You’re right, they make you feel good in the warm inside, but seeing someone physically do something and making those steps, and plus being able to see your parents go to reach financial freedom. That’s just amazing in itself and so awesome that they’re following your footsteps. Okay, well, Nancy, we want to go into one of your deals. Did you have a deal in mind that you wanted to share with us?

Nancy:
Okay, I’ll tell y’all about the hoarders.

Ashley:
Okay. Nancy, what was the purchase price of this property?

Nancy:
170.

Ashley:
And what market was it located in?

Nancy:
It’s in Garland, Texas.

Ashley:
And is it a single family duplex?

Nancy:
Yeah, single family home. It was four bedrooms, two bath.

Ashley:
And what was the intended strategy with this property?

Nancy:
That one was an all cash property, and for that one it was in really bad condition because it had a family that was a hoarding family, and they had about seven cats and dogs in the home. The house was packed, jam packed, and then the dad at one point wanted to start a restaurant, so there was this exterior restaurant slash patio with more stuff in there. So essentially the goal was once everything is cleaned out, this could actually be a four bedroom, three bath, and that’s essentially what it converted to after rehab.

Ashley:
And was it short-term rental or a long-term rental?

Nancy:
Oh, yes. So that was originally for a short-term rental. And this is actually, I do have a question for y’all. So short-term rental, I recently read something, I think it was actually Amanda who said anything seven days or less is short-term rental and anything, but I’ve heard that 30 days or more or less is short-term rental.

Tony:
So from a tax definition to get the tax benefits of being a short-term rental, your average stay has to be less than seven days. But typically from a county city code enforcement perspective, a short-term rental is 30 days or less.

Nancy:
So it was long-term rental, so I wanted 30 days or more for this particular property.

Ashley:
Okay. And how did you find the deal?

Nancy:
The deal was actually emailed to my realtor, who is my business partner, and he’s part of an email chain of other wholesalers investors, and I think that list price was actually 190 and he got him down to 170.

Ashley:
Okay. So do you want to take us through the story of the property as to how did you get all of this stuff out of the house, the rehab, and then how the numbers ended up on the deal?

Tony:
Yeah, and can I just ask one clarifying question? You said that this owner wanted to start a restaurant. He wanted to start a restaurant at the actual home? He was trying to turn the home into a restaurant?

Nancy:
There was this outdoor patio that he constructed and enclosed, so it was an outdoor indoor patio, but he had all the restaurant equipment there. In his mind, people were just going to come through the side of the street, I guess, and be like, “Hi, come to my restaurant.” So really, really neat guy, really nice people. But I think just a lot of dreams that were started and then never really followed through. Yeah, because there were some interesting equipment that was in the house and just when … Okay, it is funny because the day that I went to go see the house, the owners weren’t there, but the children were, and they were all of age 18 and up, I believe. And so they’re taking us through this house and it’s like a maze. I thought I was on hoarders, it’s the TV show because even just to walk through the pathways to get through the living room, to go through the kitchen and the kitchen was actually non-functioning. They had a grill on the side.
There was just a lot of very much, this house needs a lot of love, and when this house gets a lot of love, we’re going to reconstruct some of the rooms and have that third bathroom be a thing. And so I think what happened is that, again, just going through the process, we actually got it. We bought the house and we also got a leaseback because their house that they were moving into kept getting delayed on their closing date. So when I bought the house in October, I didn’t actually get access to the house until January because it went from, “Oh, hey, our house is going to be ready in November.” Nope. And then it got pushed back again to December. So I was able to charge them rent lease back for a few months, which gave me time to replenish my funds because I expunged everything to get that deal.
It was my biggest cash deal that I had done. And so I had expunged everything that I could find to be able to get the money to upload this. And then again, just working my job and having the cash flow of the other real estate properties, at that point, by January, I had a good cushion to put into having a contractor do the work. And this was something that, again, my biggest project that I bought cash, but then also my first project that I only used a contractor and I did not lift a finger. That was a new experience for me because my dad’s background is he owns a remodeling company, not in Dallas, but about two hours away. So for me, I’m like, “Oh, my dad can do it or my dad can come help on the weekend.” This property was in pretty bad shape that once the leaseback was over and the tenants moved out, which were the previous owners, they actually did a really good job of getting everything out of that house.
The wife on the very last day actually came back and she swept and she mopped the entire house. So I was, again, very thankful, very blessed that this family was open to clearing out their stuff. But I think the leaseback had a lot to do with it because I could have easily, and even at the leaseback, I charged them, maybe it was 1500 when market rent was close to 2000. So I knew that I was taking a cut, but I also knew that I wanted to play nice and give them an incentive to stay as long as they kind of needed to in a reasonable amount at a time, and then not leave with a bad attitude.

Tony:
Nancy, just really quick, I think that’s an important lesson for rookies to understand because you’ve done it now twice where you made it a win-win situation for the tenants that were already in the house to leave the property somewhat timely and the property in a condition that was easier for you as the new owner. In the first situation, you literally paid them to do the work, which was, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone doing that before, in this situation giving them a break on the market rent, to like you said, play nice with them so that they could clean up all that stuff that they had inside the property. So if there’s a lesson for the Rookie listeners, it’s if you are in a situation where you’re inheriting tenants that you hope leave, what is a way that you can structure that situation so it becomes a win-win situation for both you and for that person? So I just wanted to point that out, but please continue with the story.

Nancy:
Thank you. And so then after that, once the rehab started on that property, my job at that time was to focus on the other properties that I currently had, managing those. And so really, the contractor took over. He had the list. Interesting enough though, that was my first time too, having to pay a contractor on a weekly basis. Every Friday he got a paycheck no matter what work was done or not. And so there was a time that Dallas had a really bad ice storm and our pipes had busted in that particular house, and the whole house was flooded to a certain point. I think part of the house was flooded to a certain point, and that wasn’t part of the original bill, but he also had taken the week off because it was an ice storm. So we had to compromise. I’m like, “Okay, well you didn’t come to work this week, so why don’t we add these pipes getting fixed into the contract and going that way.”
And so once that project was done, so that project took from January till about, actually when I left for the show, they were still working on it. So probably about June, from January to June is how long it took. However, he said, I remember when we made the deal, at first he was like, “Oh, nine weeks.” And then nine weeks turned into almost six months. So that was a learning lesson too, that just the trust that I would have in my team to be able to help me. I could have done better if I would’ve just hired my own subcontractors and everyone has a specific job. It’ll be done in a shorter amount of time. But that was also, like I said, a lesson learned of when I get the bundle deal of a contractor says, I’ll do, it all really means I can do most things, but I’m not an expert at everything.
So it might take me two weeks to do drywall. It might take me two weeks to do flooring. Actually, he ended up not doing the flooring. And then I had this subcontract, the flooring guy, and we just deducted that from the final bill. But once that property was done, it took me about a month to furnish that property, have it listed as an Airbnb, and I also use other outlets as well, like VRBO and Furnished Finder. And so that property, initially once it dropped, I don’t think that property has been vacant for more than two weeks. And that was since 2021.
I’ve gotten really lucky that I set for that particular property at the time, I set my settings at a certain 30 days or more, so anyone who wanted to come for the weekend really couldn’t. And so what I found is that that’s initially how the property launched, was just booking working professionals who were coming for two to three months to the area. And then when it got a little bit slower, I think it was at about the two-week mark, I did drop down to 14 days. And so I think it’s just really working with that longer stay just gives me more benefit in less turnover and less wear and tear, just overall less headache when I have more longer term stays.

Tony:
So Nancy, in an entire 12-month period, how much money do you think you’ll gross and what’ll what’ll be your net on that property, ballpark?

Nancy:
Yeah, that property I would say on average, the gross was about 6,000 a month. So that was about 72,000 a year for that property.

Tony:
And do you know ballpark, what is your net on that? I know you don’t because you pay cash for this, so there’s no mortgage, so your expenses are probably super low, right? We’re talking utilities and …

Nancy:
Exactly. Actually, because this was the first biggest property that I had done cash, it was also the first one that was bringing in 6,000 before bills were paid. So net after that was probably closer to 4,000, maybe 4,500 because it does have a pool. So we do have maintenance come in for pool maintenance, which is pretty pricey in this area. And I think what really worked so well with that property is that is the location of it is so central to the rest of Dallas. So not necessarily just downtown where people think like, “Oh, I need to buy a house closer to where it’s up and popping. But really no, there are so many other surrounding areas that people come to Garland for and they’re wanting to travel to Plano or all the way to Rowlett or Rockwall. So I think the location too was a really sweet spot for that property.

Tony:
So typically when I look at and when I talk to people about short-term rentals, I say you want your annual gross revenue to be at least 20% of your purchase price. So with you at $72,000, you’re more than double that at almost 40%. So that’s a slam dunk deal, Nancy, and congrats to you for knocking out the park with that one. Just one thing I want to mention before we move on, this house was a hoarder home. And Ash, I’m sure you’ve bought properties like this, I know I’ve brought properties like this as well, where you’re almost surprised or shocked when you walk into some of these properties and you see the condition that some people are living in. We have a property in our contract right now that you can literally see the sunshine coming through the roof in the living room. And those aren’t conditions people should be living in.
And real estate investors, oftentimes they get this bad rap for buying properties and making them beautiful, but in reality, we’re taking what was unlivable for many people and turning into a property that’s going to improve the value of the neighborhood. It’s going to be a great experience for guests that are coming on a short-term basis, or your tenants if they’re there for the long term. So I know sometimes as a real estate investor you can feel bad that there’s all this negative talk, but in reality, I think we are really doing a positive work in a lot of communities.

Nancy:
And I think if anything, it really just opens up the mindset too, that real estate is a form of income. Real estate is a form of investment. So I would hope that in that, like you said, I’ve hosted from families traveling for medical reasons. One of the properties is four minutes away from the major hospital that we have in Dallas. So it’s not always, I think the favorite word people like to use online is the slum landlord. And it’s like, no, I’m taking these properties and in areas too that are maybe not so favorable, but making it livable, making it accessible for a family. And in my seven years, I haven’t always turned a property into an Airbnb or a short term rental.
Sometimes it was just flipping it and holding it. And housing, for example, undocumented workers that were in a position where the house that they were in, that landlord did not have good living conditions for them, didn’t fix anything, bought that house, put up the sign, and within the next day they walked over and they were like, wow, we would love to live here. And seeing that they didn’t have credentials or credit history or anything, I took a chance on them at the time and they’ve been tenants for four years now and take great care of that house. And again, just knowing that I’m able to offer that kind of opportunity for someone, for me, it’s like there’s so many aspects of real estate that you can get into, whether it’s short term rental or other options as well.

Ashley:
Well, Nancy, thank you so much for sharing that deal with us and also an insight as to some of the other investments you have done. We really appreciate you sharing your knowledge, and I think there is definitely a lot of value from this whole episode, but especially that deal as you broke down the numbers and exactly how you did it. We’re going to move on to our Rookie exam, where we have three questions to ask you. And the first one is, what is one actionable thing rookies should do after listening to this episode?

Nancy:
I think the first step is definitely understanding your numbers, understanding your finances, how much money is coming out, how much is going out. And I think that concept is what worked for me. It was going through the NACA process and them forcing me to know my numbers, for me to then realize where I’m overspending, where I can penny pinch, where I can increase my income to be able to move forward in whatever financial plans I have, whether that’s real estate or investing in general.

Tony:
Awesome, Nancy. All right. Question number two. What’s one tool, software app, or system that you use in your business?

Nancy:
I could not live without Expensify. Life-changing, the automated receipts that I use for all of the properties. It’s one thing to say, “Oh, I’m going to take a picture and I’ll upload it later.” No. Expensify makes you do it right there, right then in the report. And it’s super easy to automatically upload. And then on a monthly basis just go through receipts, make sure that the smart upload is correct and that the numbers look good, matching the receipts.

Tony:
That’s interesting. Does that connect with QuickBooks?

Nancy:
I think there is actually a feature for that through QuickBooks.

Ashley:
QuickBooks has their own built into the app.

Tony:
Yeah. Have you used Expensify, Ash or do you know?

Ashley:
No, no, I’ve never even heard of it. Yeah, I think this is the first time someone has recommended it, yeah.

Tony:
Okay. Awesome.

Ashley:
Nancy, where do you plan on being in five years? What is your goal or what do you want to accomplish?

Nancy:
In five years, I think for me the term really leaving a legacy for my family when it comes to real estate. I want to be able to have enough of that passive income, more of that hands-off investing that is happening, that I would be able to take care of my family. I would be able to have more memories that I would cherish with my mom and dad and my brothers as well. And I think that for me, that’s who I’m doing it for. And if anything, money will come and go, but it’s the experiences that you make with the money that you do have. And it doesn’t have to be extravagant and luxurious, but I think just creating more of those bonds and memories with my family is super important.

Tony:
Awesome, Nancy. Well, I love that and I think that’s a big goal for so many of us getting into this world of real estate investing. So you’ve been fantastic. Absolutely love this conversation. Before we start to wrap things up, I just want to give a shout out to this week’s Rookie Rockstar. This week’s rookie rockstar is Gray Clifton and Gray just closed on a duplex, added $440 per month to their passive income stream. They’ve got a goal of getting to $3,000 per month. They’re about halfway there. They bought this duplex for 179, put down, I don’t know, 20% it looks like, and their cash flow makes about 450 a month for a 10% cash on cash return. So congrats to you, Gray for knocking it out the park on that duplex and being halfway to your cashflow goal.

Ashley:
Well, Nancy, thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciated you taking the time to come on to the show and share your experience and your knowledge with everybody. Can you let everyone know where they can reach out to you and find out some more information about you?

Nancy:
Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me. This is such an amazing platform. I am now on YouTube, Nancy Rodriguez Life, and I think what’s really neat about that platform is that it’s going to be explaining more of the details and where I started, how real estate investing has worked for me and all the details of that history. So I’m super excited about that content. On Instagram and TikTok is the Nancy Rodriguez. You can follow me there as well because I will be posting updates and clips as well from the YouTube channel.

Ashley:
Awesome. Thank you so much. And I’m looking forward to checking out your YouTube channel. I’m Ashley at Wealth from Rentals and he’s Tony at Tony J Robinson. And we will be back with a Rookie Reply on Saturday. Thank you guys so much for joining us.

 

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