- Profit Strategy: Fix & flip
- Number of Units: 4
- Personal Money Invested: $1,100
- Amount Earned: $80k
- Prior Experience: Prior to finding Lance’s program, Wren had flipped approximately 40 single family homes
Wren came from a construction background. His father was a general contractor. Wren started pouring concrete as soon as he graduated high school. He discovered it was hard labor that didn’t pay well. He was broke and knew there was a better way.
When he was only 19, he found a book at a yard sale with “a guy sitting on a Mercedes in front of an apartment building.” This find would radically alter the course of his life. He doesn’t recollect the exact title but recalls it as “How I Made a Million Dollars in Real Estate.” He shares, “the book hooked me. I’ve been interested in real estate ever since.”
Wren’s early dream was to have freedom. That first book stimulated his dream of financial abundance. He describes, “I wanted to drive the Mercedes. I wanted to own the apartment building. And I wanted freedom.”
Wren tried to duplicate the lessons in that book he discovered. But reading that book wasn’t enough.
In 1986, after reading the book and when Wren was still very young, he learned a harsh lesson about investing in multifamilies. He bought an REO from a bank. He recounts his experience, “it was fully occupied. I didn’t know anything about the landlord-tenant act. When I closed the deal, I went to the property to introduce myself as the new owner and to inform them I was raising their rents. I was educated very quickly about leases and the fact that you can’t do this. I made every possible bad mistake, but it was a great experience. I got a ‘college degree’ on what not to do with small apartment rentals.”
He provided additional details on this deal. “I brought in a partner for the down payment. My model was horrendous. I was utterly wrong on every possible metric.” He continues, “one month, I had a $1200 water bill, and I didn’t have money to pay it. The property was running negative, about $800 per month. That’s a big hurdle to jump over.”
He learned it is necessary to conduct regular inspections. These ensure the toilets are not constantly running and that the residents aren’t using their washers/dryers to do other people’s laundry. He explains, “in the unit that caused the high water bill, I’m confident that my tenants were washing everybody’s clothes. Residents were washing their cars out in the parking lot and not turning off the hose. I had to learn to implement rules on the property.”
The good news is he was able to pay his partner back, and joking, he says, “ultimately, I got out of the property with a little hair left.” He’s bald.
This experienced scared him away from investing in apartments for many years.
Another book changes his life again.
Fast forward nearly 35 years. Wren discovered Lance’s book in 2020. It resonated with him. He explained, “it reminded me why I wanted to get involved in real estate. I took Lance’s course and Bootcamp. I signed up for everything he offered. I jumped in immediately and moved forward quickly.”
By this time, Wren had flipped approximately 40 single families. His first deal after Lance’s training was a four-plex in Tucson near his residence in Phoenix. It’s a fun tale of how patience can pay off. A wholesaler was trying to flip the contract on the small apartment building, but he couldn’t find a buyer. The wholesaler dropped the price several times. Before he ran out of his inspection period, Wren took the assignment for $2,000 over his contract price. Wren made $80K on this deal and only invested $1200 of his own money. He was off to a great start!
Wren knew he wanted to work for himself and achieve the financial abundance he first dreamt about when he was 19. But now, he’s driven by more than the money.
He enjoys making a difference in his family’s life and the lives of his residents and their families. His work has helped people who buy properties from him because he “leaves some meat on the bone” and gives them a good deal. In addition, he provides an investment vehicle for people. He elaborates, “when people invest in my deals, they get a greater return than other investment options. I call it ‘lazy money.’ We put their money to work by investing it in a property short-term.” He is also committed to providing “attractive and affordable housing.”
He described himself as “a shy person. It’s tough for me to even pick up the phone, talk to somebody, or send letters. I’m afraid somebody might respond to my letters! It scared the hell out of me to take those phone calls. I still get nervous to this day. And I’ve done a lot of deals.” He continues, “I guess I’m glad that’s the case because it keeps me from doing a horrible job. It’s an exciting experience every time.”
Wren uses an investment strategy that combines fix-and-flip with rehab-and-hold. He buys properties, fixes them up, holds onto them for a short while, and then sells them. He describes his process, “once I’ve bought it, I leave the rents alone. I know that is not how you maximize the return, but I want the residents to relax. I go into the deal expecting to hang on to it for about a year at least — maybe even two years. That’s my hold. I don’t do anything with the tenants for at least three months. I just let them get used to me as the new landlord. Once they calm down about the change, they can think without emotion.”
He’s also developed a process that is a win-win for everyone. He describes it, “I let the tenants fix the property up. We generate a list of things that need to be done and set a budget. The repairs get done while the property makes money from the tenants’ rents. No money comes out of our pockets. It’s a neat way to do it. Then the rents can be raised because the units are improved. When you put it on the market to sell, the property is perfect, and the buyer will pay you a healthy profit.”
He offered some great advice about being a landlord. “One thing to remember is your tenants are people. They’re dealing with issues. And so I believe in talking to them and listening. But I’m careful not to be their friend — I’m their landlord. I explain the rules. But I let them know that I realize they are human and sometimes have challenges. So I work with them to find a way through those challenges. There’s always a solution.”
Wren has nearly reached his goal of $1,000,000 in a year. He doesn’t have big dreams, just focuses on “living a good life.” Wren likes to travel and have adventures with his wife. But he has no intention of retiring. He explains, “retiring sounds horrible to me. Sure, I’ve taken time off, but I love doing deals. I love the ‘what if game.’ Whenever I find and analyze a property, I get excited about it. And so I love this business. I’m just going to keep doing it.”
He’s always looking for deals, even when he’s traveling. He suspects that he’s “not a very good date” for his wife. But he’s so excited about the market right now. He has a different attitude than many people. He shares his outlook, “everyone is scared of the market right now. That excites me because we’ve been in a seller’s frenzy for the last two or three years. Everything sold. All the ‘dogs’ are entirely sold. I am excited to find a deal, analyze it, go through the numbers, and not be rushed to make an offer. I can take time to negotiate with the seller and talk about creative financing. I love this. But I know it won’t last long because I know how these cycles go. We go round and round, and by the time everybody realizes we’re going down, we’ll start back up again.”
When asked about the future, he describes, “I want to do bigger deals. I would like to buy properties with 100 units. Lance has taught me it’s the same process, whether doing a 4-plex or a 100-plex. Just the spread is bigger. More investors may need to be brought in to make it happen. But I love that the profit might be $800K instead of $80K.”
Now that Wren has neared his $1 million in one-year goal, he wants to help others. He loves teaching people and sharing ideas about this industry. He enjoys walking them through the process.
Real estate has changed the way Wren looks at the world. Clarifying, he tells a story. “I was driving around with a friend and pointed to a building. I told him, ‘somebody owns that. Either a group of people or an individual owns that building right there. That building means a lot to them. They’ve invested in it and want to improve it. Buildings aren’t static. They’re not as stationary or stable as people think they are. They’re either living or dying. The landscaping is either growing, or it’s dying off. There’s always something that can be improved.’ I love thinking about the people who own and care about the property. I love the personal side of the structure, and I love figuring out how to improve them. That’s my favorite thing.”
His investment strategy is to “look for dogs with fleas.” He explains, “I look for a ‘dog with fleas’ that can be turned into a show poodle with just a little grooming. That’s why fix-and-flip is the perfect model for me. That is a fun game.”
Wren suggests that investors look for deals everywhere. He explains, “the great deals are where the great deals are. That’s where you should invest. It doesn’t matter if it is in your backyard. Looking in your backyard to get comfortable is okay, but there are probably better markets to invest in.”
He recognizes how important having a positive attitude is. He says, “I believe in belief. I think that anything is possible if we’re willing to focus on it. Have a goal or dream and work towards it.”
His final advice is, “do it. Just do it. Take advantage of what Lance is offering, read the book, take the Bootcamp — maybe even go through the Bootcamp a couple of times. I’ve been in it three times and picked up a nugget each time. You also need to be willing to make mistakes. You’ve got to make offers. You’ve got to take action.”