With the expanding number of viable real estate markets out there, spread out over hundreds – maybe even thousands – of cities, your future in real estate investing could go in infinitely many directions. But throughout it all, the number one thing you have to consider is how investing in one area will benefit you in the long run. Kathy Fettke is an expert in the fields of real estate and economics who, on top of guest appearances at major network outlets, shares her knowledge on her own podcast, The Real Wealth Show. Kathy joins William Morales in a discussion about the many real estate markets you could be investing in. There are so many places and so many ways, but the invaluable wisdom that Kathy shares will surely be of use in your hunt to begin your journey in real estate investing.
Listen to the podcast here:
Checking Out The Markets With Kathy Fettke
We have Kathy Fettke, Co-CEO and Cofounder of The Real Wealth Network based in Walnut Creek, California, an organization dedicated to helping members get the most cutting edge education and information they need to succeed as real estate investors. Kathy is also a licensed realtor, former mortgage broker and an active real estate investor herself. She was selected as one of America’s 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs by Goldman Sachs at the 1st and 2nd annual Builders and Innovators Summit. Kathy, thank you much for being here. How are you?
I’m doing great. Thanks for having me on.
Kathy, jumping right in. Did you have this entrepreneurial bug in you? Were you always an entrepreneur? Was real estate the way to go for you at an early age?
I found out early on that I’m unemployable. I’m not good with having a boss telling me what to do. I remember having a job once. It was a good job. It was for a charity and I loved what they were doing. It’s called Challenge Day. I loved the concept of it. I have two kids and you can never be anywhere on time with kids. I remember one day, I was late and I walked in and the receptionist looks at her watch, looks at me, gives me a dirty look and I thought, “How dare you think you own my time?” I thought, “She does own my time.” They’ve rented me out on this hourly rate, which I’m worth more than that. Something clicked at that moment. I thought, “No one’s going to own my time except me.” That’s when I started The Real Wealth Network. I had no idea what I was doing. I’ve been an entrepreneur pretty much all my life. I’ve owned lots of businesses.
Was real estate among them at the beginning of your career?
No. I was 21 years old when I was sitting in a bar in San Francisco. Somebody came up to me and said, “Try this.” It was Jägermeister. I said, “I like that.” The next thing you know, I was a Jägermeister girl, promoting it. What I saw back then, in the beginning, there was a need for these liquor companies to market themselves. My first business was hiring a bunch of people to be the Bud girls and the Jägermeister girls. I was 22 years old and I would have sometimes 30 to 40 people booked out a night and I would get $30 an hour, but I’d pay them $15 and I’d make $15 an hour per person. That was like, “This is how you leverage your time.” From there, I ran into a talent agent when I was in one of those bars. We started talking and he said, “How do you not know who I am?” I said, “How did you not know who I am?” We started laughing and it turns out he was a casting director and I had all these beautiful people working for me at this particular bar.
He said, “Why don’t you become a talent agent and we’ll book them in our movies?” I did. That was the next. I had a promotional modeling company that turned into a talent agency. Those were a couple of my jobs. I also ended up being a business coach. I jumped around for a little while, but my best job was being a stay-at-home mom. I loved that. When my husband was taking care of us financially, that’s when he got the terrible news that he had melanoma. The doctor thought it had spread and told him he had six months to live. I was shocked. How on earth are we going to handle this? I refused to believe the doctor. I also thought, “Rich needs to get better and whatever that takes and I’ll take over the money.” That’s when I started interviewing people to find out how they were able to create passive income. My driving desire and passion were to be able to give him the space he needed to get better and to also continue to be a stay-at-home mom.
How is Rich doing these days?
He’s doing great. He did have melanoma, but it hadn’t spread the way that they thought it had and he has to get the freckles cut off of him every year, but he’s doing great.
When did you jump into real estate? Was that in your mid or late twenties? When did that happen?
It was closer to 30 when we got that news. We had two kids. One was seven and one was 2 or 3. We had bought a huge house. Everything was going great. He had written a book called Extreme Success and he was doing a media tour all over in New York City and all over the country and on major national TV and in radio and newspapers. He was traveling a lot and that’s when he noticed this freckle and it was like, “I’ve got to stay home and take care of this.” I thought, “You take care of the kids and I’ll figure it out how to make the money.” I had a radio show already because I had been in broadcasting. My degree was in Broadcast Communications and I had worked in newsrooms. I still held onto this radio show. I turned my whole focus on how do other people make money? I have forgotten how to do it because I’d been at home for a while raising the kids. I started interviewing people and I didn’t know anything about big money. My dad was a dentist, but he had five kids and enough to cover expenses. We never had fancy cars and the investments that he did didn’t tend to work out because dentists had been notoriously the worst investors.
That’s changing now but back then, that’s not what they studied. I didn’t have a financial education. My family didn’t. I thought, “There must be something we don’t know that other people know.” I started interviewing people and sure enough, I would talk to people on my show that were under the age of 30 and already retired because they had started investing in real estate right out of high school at age eighteen. They didn’t go to college. They started buying. Maybe they borrowed $20,000 from their parents and did their first flip and used that to get financing. Back then, you could get financing easily. I was meeting people that were doing incredible things. That’s why the show started to go into the real estate category because most people I interviewed had built their wealth in two ways: owning a business successfully or owning real estate. If they had profits from their business, they would invest it in real estate. It became a common theme and I thought, “If they can do this, so can I.”
I wanted to segue into that about business and real estate. I remember a few years ago, a friend of mine, we were talking and we looked at something on TV. I don’t know if it was Warren Buffett or something, I can’t remember who it was. My buddy was telling me, “What are we doing wrong?” I told him right then and there, I said, “One, we’re not in real estate.” This was 2010, 2011, give or take. “Second, we don’t own a business.” When we work for someone, we’re working for them. They’re the ones that are getting rich. We’re supplying to the landlord with our money. I don’t think enough people see that if you own your business or you have a side gig or you get into real estate, I’m not saying be rich, but maybe live comfortably where you don’t have to worry about where your next dollar is coming from or living paycheck to paycheck. What do you think about that?
That’s what I discovered. I didn’t know any of this. Now it’s easier to get information because of the podcasts and the internet, but back then we didn’t have those things. We had the internet, but certainly not as robust as we have now. The only way that you could learn these things was by reading books and there weren’t that many that I knew of that could explain it to me or real estate group. What all they were doing back then was selling bootcamps and classes and CDs and things that were outdated and didn’t work. It was hard to know who to trust. I started interviewing real investors who didn’t have anything to sell. They were willing to share their information. The real turning point for me was when I brought on a sponsor who was a lender and it was his sponsorship money that I wanted. To fulfill my end of it, I had to have him in an interview. I thought, “Who’s going to be interested in mortgages? This is going to be boring.” My husband said, “Find out what people are doing with the loans. Maybe they’re doing something interesting. Make it human interest.”
I started interviewing his clients and that’s when I learned much about how people were using leverage to acquire an asset. They only had to put 20% down or if it’s your primary residence, only 3% down. You could buy a fourplex with 3% down if you live in one of the units. You can buy a property, live in it for a little while, fix it up, sell it, take the profits and use that for an investment property. There were many things I was learning that nobody told me about. I learned that you could clean your credit up, that you could get incredible tax benefits by doing all of this. You could use somebody else’s money to acquire the asset. You could have somebody else pay the debt off for you. You get all the equity gain, all the cashflow, all the tax benefits. It was too good to be true. We did it. It was right around then in 2005 that so many people were jumping into real estate and doing it wrong. I was lucky enough that I was able to interview real investors who understood what was happening.
One of those people was Robert Kiyosaki that came onto my show and said, “This thing is going to blow up. These loans are bad. People are not going to be able to pay them back.” He said, “You’ve got to sell all your property in the bubble markets of California, Florida, Arizona and Nevada.” He said he sold everything and he was buying in Texas. Back then, Texas was boring. Real estate values had not gone up. There was nothing interesting if you look historically at real estate values in Texas. He said that on my show and I had people calling in and saying, “That’s crazy. Nothing ever happens in Texas. You’re going to waste your money. You’re going to lose money.” Kiyosaki said, “No, we’re not looking at history. We’re looking at where things are headed.” Where things are headed is the biggest job growth in the country, the highest population growth, yet home prices are still low like 27% undervalued. Rich and I were like, “Let’s go and see if he’s right.” We flew to Dallas and we found this little area right outside of Dallas where you could buy homes for $120,000 that were brand new.At some point, the idea that no one owns your time except you will just click. Click To Tweet
It was in the path of progress where they are putting new freeways in a whole new downtown and A-rated schools. It made sense. You could rent it out for 1% of the purchase price or more. If we spent $120,000 on the house, we get $1,200 in rent. It made sense. We bought ten homes there. It was easy to get financing back then. We mentioned it on The Real Wealth Show and suddenly we had thousands of people calling and saying, “We want to do that too.” That’s when our company was born. It’s Real Wealth Network because we wanted only real people, real investors to share with us, not people selling bootcamps and stuff, but real investors to share their secrets of wealth and creating this network of experts and professionals to help. We set up teams in Dallas to help other people sell their California properties and exchange them tax-deferred for Texas. Meanwhile the California market did completely crash and the Texas market did not. Everyone who sold their California properties and exchanged them for Texas completely avoided that recession. I didn’t feel it at all.
I remember when Robert Kiyosaki was talking about that because he was huge on real estate and having a business. How did you survive the 2008, 2009 crash? If God forbid that happens again, what would you do differently this time around?
We were way over-leveraged back then because we could get 100% financing on investment properties. Since I, at that point, had become a mortgage broker because the sponsor I brought on my show said, “This is working out well. My phones are ringing off the hook. You should get your license and take some of these calls because the sponsorship was working.” I did and I ended up becoming a successful mortgage broker right off the bat. That’s when I was able to write myself loans. It was easy back then. We had fifteen loans and all the ones in Texas did fantastic, no issues there at all, even 100% financing it was working. We also got two construction loans in Tennessee. We were building new houses and they ballooned after one year. Right about then is when the market crashed and nobody was lending. We had no other loan that would replace the construction loan. That’s why I tell people now to get a 30-year fixed-rate loan.
Never get a balloon mortgage where you have to pay it after 1 or 2 years because you don’t know what the market is going to be like then. Had we gotten a construction to perm loan where it automatically turned into a permanent loan, we would have been fine. Instead, we got that construction loan. It was due after a year. We couldn’t get any financing to cover it and we had to give those properties back to the bank. That was embarrassing. We bought three properties in Boise, Idaho. That broke my rule of investing in an area where there are lots of job diversification. Boise only had about 350,000 people there. There were only two major employers, and after the recession, there was one. We had a hard time keeping those properties rented. We had to short sale those. We got hit hard on the properties where I didn’t follow my advice. I was telling people, “Sell California and buy in Texas.” I tried to do some other things and the Texas properties did great. You don’t want to have that Achilles heel that takes the whole thing down.
You learned from it and you could teach people what not to do and what to do. The thing is around that time, even a little before that, the craze was flipping. I remember watching the HGTV shows, because when I first started getting interested in real estate, I wanted to do fix and flip. I realized, “I don’t think that’s for me.” It took me a long time to realize what niche I wanted until when I decided I wanted to get into more creative financing, which lease purchase owner financing subject to. Do you favor any of those strategies moving ahead? Do you still think the conventional way is the way to go or as anybody would say it depends on who you’re buying from?
We’re in a similar situation as years ago but also different. We have 25 million more Americans here than we did. We’ve had household growth, we’ve had wage growth, price growth in the homes that people have bought. Anyone who bought homes had to qualify for those homes. The prices have gone up, but they’ve been fixed into low payments. Even though you could think it’s a bubble because prices have gone up much since the last recession, they haven’t gone up that much from historical levels. In other words, prices go up with inflation. That’s how it goes and they should go up steadily, but because we had such a massive crash, if you bought at the bottom in 2009, you’ve seen price gains. If you bought in 2006, you’re just now making your money back. You could say we’re in a bubble, but it depends on where you are.
If you’re in an area where the home prices are still in line with wages where the average person can afford that property, and especially if you’re in an area where there’s job growth and population growth, we’re going to see a steady housing market over the next few years. There’s much demand for a place to live, whether it’s to rent or to own, whether it’s an apartment or a single-family home or a duplex or a townhome. There’s more demand than supply because of the massive amount of job growth, population growth, and wage growth and just growth that we’ve had. I’m confident moving forward, but you’ve got to be in the right markets. Just like years ago, the right market was Dallas, Texas, now there are still good areas in Dallas and Houston for sure, but prices have gone up tremendously, so the cashflow is not as good as it was.
In some areas, we’re still seeing growth. The prices haven’t gone up to where they’re not affordable would be parts of Atlanta, Florida, North and South Carolina, parts of Tennessee. Even Albuquerque, we saw Netflix move there. There’s still tremendous opportunity, but you’ve got to get out of the markets where prices have already peaked and that would be the San Francisco Bay Area, San Jose, New York. Those areas, they’ve hit a ceiling. If you buy a property there, you’re not going to get cashflow and you’re not going to get appreciation because it’s hit an affordability ceiling. You have an incredible opportunity to sell those and exchange them and buy properties in areas where there’s still room for growth.
Touching back a little bit on how you went from California to Texas to view the properties. If somebody wants to invest outside of that norm, let’s say for me, I’m in New York, do you suggest trying to get boots on the ground? Do you suggest someone go there themselves, meet the team or get a team? With the internet, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, I’m not saying it’s easier to build a team, but it’s easier to see what properties are out there, whether it’s through Zillow or direct mail, whatever. How would you suggest a newbie that might be living in one of those major cities San Francisco, New York, Boston, whatever? If they want to get into the Midwest, Tennessee, Atlanta, Florida, would you suggest that they go there themselves, at least get to know the market? Some people don’t want to travel, some people say, “No, you can invest long distance, but you build a team.” What do you think?
One of the things at Real Wealth Network that we do is help people understand different markets. We have a lot of data on our website. We have a lot of teams. We have teams in each market that you can talk to, to understand the dynamics of that market. We have built a team of people that have a track record helping investors. The reason I say that is because there are truly so many sharks in this business and I have probably met most of them or a lot of them, but new ones get born every day. They have no problem taking your money and looking you in the eye and giving you a bad deal. There are a lot of self-serving people. I like to compare real estate investing with my trip to Costa Rica that I took with my family. I didn’t have the time to figure out the exchange rate. I forgot to do that.
As soon as we got off the airplane, we exchanged money and we went to lunch at this cute little restaurant where nobody spoke English. We paid the bill and we gave them money and they gave us change. We looked at it and we had no idea how much anything costs or what we got back. We didn’t know. As we walked out, we heard people laughing and I looked at my husband and I thought, “I’m pretty sure we got ripped off.” He goes, “Yes.” We don’t know how badly. We were like, “Yes, we have no idea,” because we didn’t do our homework. It’s a funny story. It was lunch and we probably paid $100 for a $20 lunch. I don’t know. It didn’t kill us.
That’s an example of people are more than willing to take your money if you’re an idiot. That’s what it comes down to. If you have not done your homework, if you haven’t done your research and you hand people money, they’re going to take it. It’s that simple. You’ve got to do your homework. You can do your homework online. I’ve bought most of my properties without seeing them, but I did a lot of homework in advance. The simplest thing you can do if you don’t have time is to make sure. I have this checklist on my website at Real Wealth Network and I also have it in my book, Retire Rich with Rentals that you can get on Amazon. These three things will help you. Number one, always get an appraisal, third-party appraisal.
Get someone who’s licensed to appraise the property for you. Same thing, but before closing, get an inspector. There are licensed inspectors who will do a full inspection of the property and tell you what shape it’s in. Never send your money directly to someone. Always have your funds go through escrow. These are basic things. If you’re getting a loan on the property, the bank is going to require a lot of that anyway. Sometimes people will use their IRA or they’ll pay cash for a property because in the Midwest they’re cheap. This is happening all the time where people find out that they bought a property that isn’t there or it’s not what they thought it was or they never got the title for it. That’s silly you didn’t do your homework. The simple, basic thing is that you would never send an individual the money. It always should go through escrow.Generally speaking, the average real estate agent does not specialize in real estate investing. Click To Tweet
We’re talking about one, get an appraisal and protection and send your money to an escrow account instead of to individuals. I bought my first property in Pittsburgh in 2017. I never went to see it, but like you, I studied the area. I found a title company, a loan servicing company. The only thing I didn’t do and thanks for reminding me to get an appraisal. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but there are companies out there, one is called WeGoLook.com. They’ll send someone out there and give you a full report. The minimum or the max is ten pictures. If you want more, then they charge you an extra fee. I’m not sure how much it is. There are companies out there that could at least the I search for you until you do more search, the crime in the area or whatever. It is easier, but you have to do your due diligence and I couldn’t have said that better myself.
Beyond that, there are easy ways. Go to City-Data.com and you can look up crime rates and even incomes in the area, where the jobs are. Talk to the property manager and understand what they’re going to charge you and what they think the rental be at because a lot of agents have no idea, but they’ll quote something. That’s happened to me a lot. Generally speaking, the average real estate agent does not specialize in real estate investing. They specialize in selling primary residences. They’ll throw out a guess like, “This will rent for this much.” They don’t know. They have no idea. Always talk to a property manager to verify what you think the rents will be and where the rental demand is and so forth. If you’re going to buy a property that’s been renovated, get a scope of work. Have the renovation done before you buy it. If you do it the other way, then make sure you have a clear scope of work of what’s going to be renovated for you and how much that’s going to cost.
Kathy, with the way the market is, I’m not talking about for investment, but I’m talking about for a family of 2, 3, 4. Is it still time to get into the American dream? Is this still good for them to buy a house? If the mortgages are more restricted, you have a minimum of 700 scores and you’ve got to have at least six months of rent in the bank. Is that possible now?
I’m a big believer in homeownership but it’s not for everybody. If you are married and starting a family and have a job, if you’re going to stay in a certain area for a long time, and I mean decades, then yes. Do what you can to buy a house because over time you’re going to have to pay to live there anyway, so why not pay off your home and then you’re not forced to move. You’re going to raise your kids there and pick the school district. If you’re not sure and you’re in a high-priced neighborhood like California or New York, then maybe you’re better off renting and buying rental property elsewhere where it makes more sense, where you can make more money. That’s what we help a lot of people with. I take a dance class in California. I was talking to my instructor and she’s getting up there in her 50s and they don’t have any money saved.
They were like, “Should we buy a house here?” I’m like, “How are you going to buy a house here? You’re a dance teacher. You’re not going to make enough money to buy $1 million house.” I said, “You can probably buy a house, a rental property somewhere else. Let’s say Detroit. You can still get a property there.” It’s been fully renovated through one of the teams on our website and a good neighborhood, a B-class neighborhood for $80,000. That’s $16,000 down and you can do that. You have to learn to save your money and not go out to dinner too many times.
Have some money set aside, save your money and then you get to use the rental income or at least a portion of it of the property you’re buying to supplement your income. People are shocked to find out that they can qualify for rental properties in the Midwest, in Cleveland, in Kansas City and some of these areas where there’s some good job growth, but the home prices are still affordable. That might be a better bet is to save money every year and buy a rental property every year and build up a portfolio of ten properties. Use all the rental income to pay down the debt so that you have ten properties paid off by the time you need a retirement. That could work.
In the cities that you guys are in, is property management included or do the buyers seek their property managers? What do you suggest there?
Since it’s such a shark fest out there, I’ve met many scammers. What we look for when we find a good market like Detroit. We like Detroit because it’s having a comeback. There are a couple of billionaires that have invested billions into revitalizing Detroit. The same is true for Cleveland. It’s happening in Milwaukee, Kansas City, Ohio, Cleveland. You’d be shocked. Cincinnati and Columbus, they’re not the same cities they were a couple of years ago. They’ve transformed. Pittsburgh, you said you had invested there. They’ve had a major income, around billions of dollars invested in revitalization. When we find the market, we look for a good team in that market that can handle all of it. It’s our boots on the street in each market that can find the properties. They have the renovation teams in place to bring them up to our high rental standards. They offer ongoing property management so that it’s a “turnkey,” but be careful of that word because there are a lot of people that say they’ve got turnkey property but it’s not. What we mean by turnkey is that the property is well located where there’s high rental demand in an area where there’s job growth and population growth. These properties have been renovated to our standards and the property management is licensed and has a good track record.
It’s all about doing your due diligence and talking to people. You hope that the people that you talk to are in your network. I’m talking about not only you, Kathy, but I’m talking about in their network like-minded people that they could get referrals. That’s also huge. Before we go, I want to touch base on your show and your book.
I started that show years ago and I still have it. It’s called the Real Wealth Show. I interview successful people who are willing to share their secrets on how they got started. Most of those people started from nothing and I find that inspirational. I love interviewing people, but I also interview economists to find out where the market might be headed so we don’t get stuck and surprised if things start shifting. It’s Real Wealth Show. I have real estate news, which is a Daily News Show that I do to keep people on top of what’s going on in the ever-changing real estate market. My book, Retire Rich with Rentals. You can buy that on Amazon for $20 and it’s going to give you that checklist that you need. You’ve got to know what you’re doing. It’s a quick read. You’ll probably finish it in a couple of hours, but you’ll be pretty much an expert by the time you read that.
If somebody wanted to reach you, where’s the best bet to go?
Go to RealWealthNetwork.com. We have nationwide to help you. It’s free to join and you’ll get access to all our data. You get to talk to one of our investment counselors. All of them are invested in these markets. They know how to speak about them. We have free webinars and lots of education on our website and it’s free.
I remember a few years ago, I know on one of your websites, I was looking at a property, you had a spreadsheet with the numbers and everything broken down. Do you guys still have that on your website?
We do. It’s under Invest.
You’ll see they have a spreadsheet with all the numbers, the returns, how much you need to put into the property. It’s broken down and you can learn that way because I’m big on numbers and I always recommend two books. One is, What Every Real Estate Investor Needs to Know About Cash Flow by Frank Gallinelli and Warren Buffett and the Interpretation of Financial Statements. Kathy, tell me if I’m on your page, but reading a financial statement for real estate, it’s almost like reading one for the stock market. You’ve got to know your numbers.
You’ve got to know it and a lot of people lie when they’re trying to sell you a property. They try to buff up the numbers and make it look better and you need to know how to see through that.
Those two books that I recommended. Plus, don’t forget Kathy’s book, Retire Rich with Rentals. I love that. Kathy, thank you much for being here. It’s my honor. I’ve been a big fan of yours for a long time and I appreciate it.
Thank you much for having me. I appreciate it too.
It’s my pleasure. Thank you much, Kathy.
Take care.It's a shark fest, so be careful. There are many scammers out there. Click To Tweet
Everyone that was Kathy Fettke of RealWealthNetwork.com. Kathy, thank you much for being here. I appreciate it. If you guys go to Peer 2 Peer Real Estate Podcast, look for us on iTunes. Please subscribe and leave a review. Tell us how we can make the show better. Before I go, a couple more things, please do not give up on your dreams. Don’t let anyone talk you out of it and keep the momentum going. I believe good things will happen. Thanks, everybody.
- The Real Wealth Network
- Extreme Success
- Retire Rich with Rentals
- Real Wealth Show
- What Every Real Estate Investor Needs to Know About Cash Flow
- Warren Buffett and the Interpretation of Financial Statements
- iTunes – Peer 2 Peer Real Estate
About Kathy Fettke
With a passion for researching and sharing the most important facts on real estate and economics, Kathy is a frequent guest expert on such media as CNN, CNBC, Fox News, NPR, CBS MarketWatch and the Wall Street Journal. She is the author of the #1 best-seller, Retire Rich with Rentals, and is host of The Real Wealth Show – which is a featured podcast on iTunes with listeners in 133 different countries.
Kathy received her BA in Broadcast Communications from San Francisco State University and worked in the newsrooms of CNN, FOX, CTV and ABC-7. She’s past-president of American Women in Radio & Television.
Kathy became a certified personal coach through the Coaches Training Institute in San Rafael, California. In 2001, she took the coaching process to television and produced a cable show called “DREAM” which followed the process of 6 people going after their dreams over 90 days. Kathy noticed a theme on her Dream coaching show: most people didn’t have time for their dreams when they are spending all their time at work to make money to pay the bills.
Her show sponsor was a real estate expert and the segments they produced changed her life. After interviewing dozens of real estate millionaires, Kathy discovered their best strategies for creating passive income streams. She and her husband bought numerous investment properties and since then learned the highs and lows of investing that can only come from hands-on experience.
Kathy Fettke Wrote a book called: Retire Rich With Rentals.
Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!
Join the Peer 2 Peer Real Estate Community today: