August 16, 2022

From Developing Software to Developing Residential Communities - Joel Fine

In the conversation with today’s guest, Joel Fine, you’ll learn how investing in long distance real estate can be a valuable wealth building strategy. Joel will also share his best practices for vetting syndicators and negotiating your first major deal.
Billy Keels
CEO and Founder FGCP

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Going Long Podcast Episode 238: From Developing Software to Developing Residential Communities

In the conversation with today’s guest, Joel Fine, you’ll learn the following:

  • [00:36 - 03:08] Show introduction with comments from Billy.
  • [03:08 - 06:48] Guest introduction and first questions.
  • [06:48 - 14:18] The backstory and decisions made that led Joel to this point in his journey.
  • [14:18 - 19:52] Why Joel decided to buy properties in Texas while he was living in California, and so was investing long distance and out of state rather than only investing in his home market location.
  • [19:52 - 23:12] How and why Joel moved into a more entrepreneurial lifestyle while he was already making strides in his I.T. career.
  • [23:12 - 30:20] How Joel moved on to focus more on Real Estate investing as his main entrepreneurial investment vehicle. 
  • [30:20 - 32:36] How Joel managed to negotiate such a great first major investment deal.
  • [32:36 - 37:40] Best practices for vetting syndicators that you will be working with and investing with.
  • [37:40 - 39:55] How Joel is helping people today with his company Lakeline Properties.


Here’s what Joel shared with us during today’s conversation: 

  • Where in the world Joel is based currently: Austin, Texas.
  • The most positive thing to happen in the past 24 hours: About to close on a deal for a single family residence that is going to be a practical asset for the family!
  • Favourite city: Tel Aviv, Israel.
  • A mistake that Joel would like you to learn from so that you don’t have to pay full price: Decide how you want to approach the business and how involved you want to be in the business, before jumping in!
  • Book Recommendations: The Hands-Off Investor, by Brian Burke.

Be sure to reach out and connect with Joel Fine by using the info below:   


To see the Video Version of today’s conversation just CLICK HERE.


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Episode Transcript


Joel, asset, buy, business, deals, people, real estate, investment, living, investors, property, investing, learn, Texas, decided, multifamily, Austin, passive investor, fantastic, started


Billy Keels

Billy Keels  00:00

Today's conversation is sponsored by first generation Capital Partners. If you're an accredited investor, and you want to know about how we're helping other accredited investors keep more of their income, go to first gen, forward slash going long.


I was discovering, hey, this isn't rocket science, this isn't something that is so far out there that I need to spend years and years studying it, or, you know, takes a skill set that I don't have. This is really, you know, blocking tackle, running a business. And I think I can do this.


You're listening to the going long podcast with Billy keels, the number one podcast for long distance real asset investing.

Billy Keels  00:38

Welcome to the going long podcast, we're back once again to continue to help to educate you so you feel much more comfortable as well as confident investing beyond your backyard. And yes, I am your host, Billy keels, and I'm happy to welcome you back to another amazing conversation. So this one, you're really going to get loads and loads out of, especially if you're somebody who's been in the IT industry, you're still in the IT industry, and you're looking to have really hard assets work for you like, this is a conversation you're really gonna want to listen to. So let me let me get to this really, really quickly, and then we get into the conversation. So here's the thing, we continue to move up the charts together, thank you so very much for that, I really want to thank those of you especially that have taken the time to leave an honest written review as well as a rating. And if you have not had a chance to do that, I invite you to do that. Leave us a nice honest written review as well as rating let us know what you like what you'd like to see change. I know you're seeing lots of changes, because we're taking your feedback on right now, which is fantastic. And also too, you can find the new home for every single podcast episode ever, by going to first gen forward slash podcasts. And you can find every single one of the episodes there for you the audio, the video, the transcripts, it's all there. And then you know what today's conversation is going to be really great one got it perfect X IT professional, I guess, you know, sounds good to say x IT professional X IT professional, who was also a business owner who's found a real passion in investing in hard assets continued learned a lot as a limited partner. Now today as a successful general partner, and is helping other people, you're gonna get loads and loads out of this conversation that we're going to have with today's guest, who's Mr. Joel Fein, and we'll get to that just after this. Are you a busy high paid professional, someone that in the previous two years has earned $200,000 and is expected to earn $200,000 this year. Or maybe if you file jointly, previously, you've earned $300,000 The previous two years and you're also expected to do that this year. Or maybe if not, either individually or jointly, you have a million dollars in net worth not including your primary residence. If you meet any of these criteria, then you're someone that the IRS considers to be an accredited investor, that probably means you're someone like an enterprise software sales executive, you may be an executive and a major corporation, you may be a doctor, you may be a lawyer, maybe a high paid consultant, you may be worked for a major sports franchise. And the thing I know you have in common is that you continue to do the hard work like you're doing 100% of the work. And you're only bringing home 50% of the reward because you continue to get crushed by your income taxes. If you're tired of this situation, and you're looking for a new solution, then go to first gen forward slash going long. When you get there, that's going to help you to start the journey so that you can begin to take back control of your taxes take control of your time. And then also that means you're going to be able to spend more of the time that you want with the people that you love the most. And that is the way that you're going to get the personal freedom that you're looking for. So if you're looking to take back control, go ahead and go to first Ford slash going long, and see how we can help you today. So you know, what if you want to understand how to go from developing software, to developing residential communities in your long distance investing journey, and guess what, today is a conversation that you're gonna want to listen to until the very last word, you know why? Because today's guest well, not only is a former development engineer, I think he's a certain type of development engineer, I'm sure he's gonna tell us a little bit more about that. He also spent over 20 years in the IoT space, kind of like me, I did that too. And then you know what, he jumped into business ownership in the automotive industry really want to hear about this. And then he also decided he wanted to go back to the IT industry for a few years. But since then, he is now a real estate developer. He's a syndicator, as well, as an investor. It gives me great pleasure to welcome to today's conversation, the founder of Lake line properties, Mr. Joel, fine, Joe, welcome to the show.


Thank you so much, really, really looking forward to this conversation. I'm excited, Joe,

Billy Keels  04:27

that makes two of us, my friend that makes two of us. And I know the entire going long family is looking forward to another amazing conversation. They're going to learn so much from you. And you know what? They're going to learn at least in five questions, because you know, I'm going to ask you to in the beginning, I'm going to ask you three at the very end. And then the reality is Joel, I'm going to ask you a lot of questions in the middle. I just don't know what those questions are yet. So if you're okay, I'd like for us to go ahead and get into the conversation. Let's do it. Let's see where it takes us. All right. Let's see where it takes us. So very first question I have for you, Joel is help us understand where you live in the US.


So I'm based in Austin, Texas, moved here two years ago from California, I lived in Silicon Valley worked in Silicon Valley as you as you mentioned, I was in the IT space for many years, but two years ago decided to pack up and head out. And now we live in Austin.

Billy Keels  05:16

All right, sounds great. And it's for some strange reason for the last two years, it seems like a lot of people in California moved to Texas, maybe you're gonna have to tell us about what's in the water out there in Texas for some of that reason. But don't tell me just hang on a second. Because I really want to know, what is the most positive thing that's happened to you in the last 24 hours? That's question number two, by the way.


Oh, let's see. So I'm in the process of buying a single family residence in Portland, Oregon. It's partly an investment, but partly for my kids, I've got two kids living in Portland. And so I'm going to rent it to them. And so in that purchase process, we just received the clear to close and I've got a notary come into my house in about an hour, we'll sign off and hopefully we'll close that transaction.

Billy Keels  06:00

Fantastic. You know what, and being able to do that and purchase a an asset and be able to walk through that with family, I think is is something that we can all learn a little bit something from so appreciate you sharing that positive note and also helping us understand you were from California to Texas, and here's the thing, Joe, I know, we just kind of meeting one another. But people know me as someone who tends to try to keep the bar like extremely high, sometimes so high that I give myself these really impossible tasks. Like trying to tell your entire backstory, when I'm introducing you in like two and a half seconds. That's never ever gonna happen. You've made you've had way too much and positive impact on others. You've done too many things. But I have to try like this is just one of the things I give myself these impossible tasks. So right where we're getting to know one another, I'm already going to ask you for a favor. And the first favor is can you help me out and actually tell your own backstory in your own words, and you can tell it as long as you want, you don't have two and a half seconds you tell about the things that you think are important for us to know number one. And I am going to ask you one other thing, though, if you can help us in talk about some of the major decisions that you've also made along the way, because that was really going to help us to set the story and then we'll see where you and I take the conversation from there.


Absolutely, yeah. So back to college in college, I studied to be an engineer kind of had that expectation of Hail be a W two employee all my life, I'll you know, save a little bit here and there and, you know, save up enough over however many your career so that at some point, I can retire and live on the beach. And so after college, I went to work as an engineer, again, in Silicon Valley, lived right around San Jose for a long time, just from just out of college until very recently, till a couple of years ago, worked as an engineer for a while then I got promoted a couple of times to project manager and then I moved into the program management space, which is not quite engineering. It's very closely aligned with engineering, but it's more connecting the engineering teams with other folks like product management, manufacturing, marketing, and so forth, to organize the team that's going to deliver new product. So spend some time in that capacity ran program management teams did a little diversion into the automotive industry, automotive repair. on the retail side, you mentioned that spent about five years owning and running a business doing tune-ups and oil changes and the like, kind of scratched my entrepreneurial itch. But that didn't go all that well. So I went back into high tech back into program management. About five or six years ago started doing real estate as a side gig. But a single family house in the Austin area while I was living in California, that was kind of an accidental journey into real estate in the sense that the intent with that property was really just as a way for my wife and me to plant a flag in Texas. We knew that at some point, we wanted to move to Texas from California, but we didn't know when we would be able to do that we knew it was a few years away because we still have kids in at home in high school and wanted to kind of you know, get them settled and get them launched before we made any big moves. So I said okay, we'll buy a place in Austin and use that, you know, we can either move there or you know, things go crazy on the real estate side, either here or there, we can sell it and use that to leverage up into something that we really want. So what that started learning about real estate as an investment and really, that was sort of my gateway drug was that that first single family residence that I bought, realized for the first time that you know, it said the benefits of real estate between the cash flow and the appreciation and the tax benefits and so forth. So from there I started buying more stuff, bought in a different market, went to Ohio and bought a bunch of things in Cleveland, two duplexes and try I plexus in parallel with that I was learning about the syndication model of organizing teams of partners to buy bigger assets and realized that that was probably a good way to scale up a more effective and more efficient way to scale up than buying you know, duplexes and triplexes along the way. So, started investing in syndications. At first passively, I think I invested in probably 15 or 16 syndications as a passive investor, investing in mostly multifamily but a few other things like senior living and I think, a biomedical research facility that was being built, and I don't know a handful of other assets in different states, mostly Texas, but Iowa, Massachusetts. And then after I'd done a few of those, I, I learned what I could from the guys who are running the deals, I was a passive, but said, Hey, I think I can do this myself. I was reading books and listening to podcasts and going to meetups and talking to everybody, I could learn what I what I needed to about the syndication business model, and about the commercial real estate industry eventually moved into the sponsorship side. So in the last couple years, I've done I think six deals as a sponsor, in the multifamily value, add space by 1100 doors total. then subsequent to doing some of those deals, I partnered up with some folks who were doing subdivisions and developments and started getting into that part of real estate. So I've done I think, four deals now on the development side, you know, ground up stuff, we're still fairly early in the process. But we're working on an apartment building a retail Plaza, a townhome community, there's one property we're working on, that's going to be a residential subdivision where we're actually not going to build, we're just going to put in roads and utilities, and then soft lots to builders. So you know, gotten into all kinds of stuff along the way. On a personal note, I've got, I've been married for 31 years, to the same beautiful wife, and got four kids all in their 20s.


One is in Seattle, got one in Portland, and another one about to move to Portland, Oregon, and then one in San Francisco. So my kids are all out of the nest and independent. My wife and I are out on our own in Austin, and I'm just having a great time in real estate. So that's kind of my backstory.

Billy Keels  12:30

So you know, it sounds like it's fantastic. Number one that you and your wife are independent. Now it sounds like that. Things are things are going well. And you've 31 years. Congratulations. By the way, Joel, that is fantastic. And so there are a number of different things that you talked about the kind of one of the things that I really would love the going long family to if you didn't hear it, just the fact that Joel, you mentioned that you were accidentally got into real estate, I want it we'll definitely come back to that. But along the way, you've mentioned that you have found a number of different areas to continue to take action, he said somewhere in the area of 15 to 17 investments that you made in tangible assets as a passive investor. Over the last couple of years, you've done six or seven as a general partner or key sponsor. And so I think the fact that you're demonstrating taking action as an as a very important concept. Number one is great. But also, you mentioned a number of different assets, tangible assets, from biomedical to real estate and development, which is a part of real estate. But one of the things that I already enjoy that you're helping us to understand is there is no one vehicle to help you get to your destination. And so you are, you're practicing that, which is fantastic. But then also to where this is going on podcast, Joel. And, you know, people told me for a really long time I read all the books, and whether they stated explicitly or kind of inadvertently, like you, if you're going to get into real estate, you got to buy the property and you got to be the landlord, and you got to be able to go and check in every couple of days and get the two $300 a door and that's what the books say and all that kind of stuff. Well, I think there's some validity to that. I just fundamentally don't believe that that's the only way that you can be a successful investor, which I guess is why that was the genesis of the goldmine podcast is guy living in Europe, investing exclusively back in the United States. I know I had my reasons. And I know it's completely contrarian to what most of the books will tell you most of what the theory says. So please share with us why in the world did you do something so contrarian as live in California and buy your first rental property in Texas? I know you kind of stated it. But still, most people don't do that. So there had to be a bigger why. The fact that you're living in California in bought in Texas.


Yeah. So I kind of touched on that earlier was the original reason we made that purchase was my wife and I intended to move to Texas. And so we wanted to basically hedge against the possibility that either Austin real estate would go crazy up, or San Jose real estate would go crazy down. And if either of those things happened, we would struggle to afford something that we wanted, in the process of making the move. So it was a, it was a way for us to is almost like an insurance policy to protect against, you know, bad things happening in one or the other market. So that we had at least a floor of, okay, here's the kind of house we can move into. Worst case, we move into the house, we actually bought, we just, you know, terminate the renters, but there at least six laps and we move into that house. But more realistically, we what we had in mind was who would sell that house and then, you know, go find something that we actually wanted to live in. But that was the original Genesis of the idea was as a way to protect ourselves. It became so much more than that, because as I said, it helped me understand the benefits of real estate investing. Living in California, and Silicon Valley. I mean, in hindsight, there's just been phenomenal appreciation there. And folks who invested in real estate in Silicon Valley has done very well. But at the time, I looked at real estate and said, hey, this, this doesn't cash flow. You know, if I buy a house for whatever the price was 500,000 a million, and I can rent it out for let's say, you know, 1000 a month, 2000 a month, the mortgage, and insurance and taxes are just gonna completely swamp anything I get out of the rental. And so, the only way it's gonna make me money is if I count on appreciation. And I didn't trust my ability to predict appreciation. Like I said, in hindsight, you know, I was wrong. You know, Silicon Valley appreciated like crazy. But at the time, I just, I wasn't convinced. And so I, I said, Hey, real estate just doesn't make any money. And I projected that onto other markets, I just said, hey, whatever I'm seeing in Silicon Valley, that must be what real estate is like. So there's no point in looking at other markets. And again, in hindsight, I was just dead wrong. And it took that investment in the Austin property for me to discover how wrong I was.

Billy Keels  17:11

Yeah, and you know, and so when you have that type of an opportunity to, you know, really, it's learning, right at the end of the day, and I mean, from a software development perspective, you know, everything is not always right the first time you kind of got to test things out and you adapt along the way. And fortunately for you and your family, you did that. Just out of curiosity, what was there? Or what was the reason that you selected Texas versus Ohio? And I'm from Ohio. So when you mentioned Ohio earlier, is this why Texas? Why not Ohio,


to be honest, so here's the story. I just wanted to get out of California. I, I knew that it was a place that was very hostile to business, very high taxes, very high cost of living, you know, really beautiful weather, very pretty place, but just very unpleasant for somebody who wanted to be in business or entrepreneurial. And so I, my wife, and I agreed, I persuaded my wife to move out. And I my constraint was, hey, anywhere that doesn't get real winter. I'm fine with so I drew a line across the map from Arizona to Florida and said, Okay, how do you pick?

Billy Keels  18:17

I was gonna say, I was gonna say, Ohio definitely is off the map. Because winter does exist. I can tell you, I've got some rental


properties there. And I know that the winters there are brutal. Yeah, if you're just any anywhere south of I don't know, draw a line halfway across the middle of country. And she was also in high tech. And the high tech vibe of Austin appealed to both of us. She's Asian. And there's a fair Asian population in Austin, that that also appealed to us. So you know, Austin was just a, it was a good place for us to settle after many, many years in Silicon Valley, it had a little bit of a similar vibe. So that's how we picked it.

Billy Keels  18:53

And so and I guess the reason for that I asked the question and really want the going long family to take away from this is, you don't always have to have this master plan. Joel is sharing with you that he wanted to be in a place that was more business friendly, because he knew that he wanted to scratch that itch again. And he wanted to be somewhere where it was warm. I mean, in this happens a lot and that and the reason I talked about that is I am a recovering perfectionist, I am someone who used to need to like almost wait for all of the stoplights to be read before I left the house. But you can't do that. Like if you're really trying to move forward. You need to hear from other people like Joel, that you don't have to have this massive plan just have a couple of different things. Like when I bought my very first rental property, I bought it because at the end of the day, I had family that was nearby and I had money in the bank. There was nothing more than that to it than that and then eventually we move forward. So one of the things and I'm sure we'll talk about this a little bit later. Joe appreciate you sharing that story. But you mentioned earlier too, that you had a kind of a you wanted to scratch your entrepreneurial itch and you got into the automotive industry, as it's called the automotive industry, and you talked about some of the things, as somebody who went to school, you knew that you wanted to be an employee, you got a great job, you got promotions, you went from, you know, being in development to project management and eventually into program management. Then you also decided, hey, I want to scratch this itch. What was that all about?


Yeah, so I think that was a mix of wanting to do something entrepreneurial and wanting to take a little bit better control of my time. So as a W two employee, and I was working much more than 40 hours a week, really devoting most of my waking hours to my employer. At the time, I had four small children, my kids were all born in the 90s. And so this was in the early 2000s, when my kids were all young, I guess they were between maybe two to eight years of age. And I wanted to spend more time with them, I wanted to have an opportunity to, you know, watch them grow up and connect with them and know them in a way that I really was struggling when I was a W two employee working my butt off for some other employer. And so you know, buying a business, that the idea was I can run this business, but I could do it in a way that's hopefully less than 40 hours a week and ideally, much less. And, and therefore, take back control of my time, and do some other things with it.

Billy Keels  21:22

Fantastic. And so when you made that test, to see that you could own your own business and work a lot less hours. How did that experiment, end up for you? Were you working a lot less hours being the owner of the business?


Yeah, so I did succeed in that sense, it was fewer hours that I needed to spend on the business, the challenge was that it didn't make any money. So you know, it didn't go well from a financial perspective. And so eventually, I sold that business and went back into high tech. But as I was going back, and I Tech, I did it in a job where I knew I had a little bit more flexibility on my time. Also, my kids were older, by then it was probably about eight or 10 years further along. And so they were all a little bit more independent. It wasn't quite as important that I spend that much time with them, they were teenagers and had their own interests and their own lives. And, and so it was, you know, as life keeps transitioning, right, every, every decade, there's different challenges and different stages of life, and of the people that I that I love that are around me. And so you know, I adapt as needed to, to be able to stay connected with them.

Billy Keels  22:36

That's fantastic. So as you make that adaptation, and you are you're staying connected, and you're building bonds and, and building and creating experiences together that that is ultimately what is the most important thing. And I can also say that because after 26 years, I finally just decided it was time for me to do something else as well. And it's, it's pretty nice. It's pretty nice feeling. Trusting that you're enjoying today's conversation. And you know, if you're tired of getting crushed by taxes, and you're looking for greater freedom, to be able to choose what you want to do when you want to do it, make sure that you go to first forward slash going long, and see how we can help you today. Let's get back to the conversation. So you end up getting into this real estate thing, become a mom, you decided this model work. So you kind of like it, you bought this property just to have your plan B, you and the wife when moved to Texas, but eventually you decided, wow, this is actually kind of making sense. This is gonna go from a side hustle to like, real life. Talk us through that. What was it that you started recognising about? The asset? Real estate, and then maybe take us a little bit more about how you started to explore. I mean, you gave us a high level before but break it down for us a little bit.


Yeah, so to me real estate, you know, going full time and really pursuing it as a passion. And as a vocation, it's all about scaling and leverage. And so, you know, when I was buying things on my own, I was I was using leverage, but the scaling part was a challenge. And what I mean by that is, as I was buying things, I was using bank debt. So I was typically putting maybe 25 30% down, getting a mortgage to pay for the rest. And so the things I could buy, you know, if I was looking at $100,000 house, you know, I didn't have to come up with $100,000 I only had to come up with 25 or 30,000. And the bank would come up with the rest and that's great. But that's you know, doing that one at a time or two at a time with duplexes, you know that there's only so far you can go with that. You know, each time you buy something, maybe it's 100 bucks a month, 200 bucks a month and cash flow and eventually you're gonna run out of money. And so I like I said as I was doing that, I was learning about the syndication model, and discovering how people were scaling up in much bigger ways. So in the syndication model, you're I'm sure you're familiar with it, maybe you're not all of your listeners are that's Were a syndicators, a general partner organized as a group of investors to buy a large scale commercial asset that no one of them could afford on their own. And so that's what I wanted to do. And at first, I was perfectly comfortable doing that as a passive investor. So I was one of the folks who was writing a check to help purchase a commercial asset, let's say, an apartment complex with two or 300 units, and somebody else was organizing it, you know, finding the deal, putting it under contract, figuring out the business plan, you know, what the renovations would be, what the appreciation play would be, you know, keeping track of the finances, managing the asset, and then eventually making the decision to sell all of that is what the sponsor does, as a passive investor, I just watch, you know, they report to me, they send the communicate with me about what how it's going, but I'm not in there making any decisions or doing any active work and, and so my, my involvement is, really, I just write a check. And then I start cashing checks as the cash flow comes in. And eventually, when the, when the asset gets sold, I, you know, hopefully I get a payoff. So that was a model that looked interesting to me. And it was a way for me to learn about it and discover whether, you know, I was interested in becoming a general partner or sponsor on these deals. And as I did a few of them, you know, it became more and more evident to me that it was something I was capable of doing and might enjoy. One of the early investments I made was with a group of syndicators that I had met at a meet up and gotten to know, and I got them to let me dial into their weekly calls with their property managers. So again, I was passive. They were managing the asset, they were managing the property manager. But I would dial in once a week for half an hour, an hour, and I would just go on mute. And listen,

Billy Keels  26:45

Joe, I don't mean to cut you off, but I'm going to cut you off. Because you're saying something right now that I think a lot of people have, there's some trepidation or fear to actually do what you just did. And I think there's a big learning, because you were mentioning that as you were a limited partner, that you received permission to sit in with the general partners on an investment that you are already a part of, can you and like I said, there's a learning here for a lot of people because this is an opportunity, like you did it 1516 times and you recognize that there was a way for you to see if there was something you wanted to do into the future. Can you talk us through how you kind of went about getting that permission to sit in on those calls?


Yeah, well, like I said, I got to know these indicators, it was a group of force indicators. Three of them were living in California and running a monthly meetup that I was attending, talking about syndications and commercial real estate. The fourth one was living in Dallas, where they were buying their assets. And so he was there boots on the ground. And the four of them, were just buying one asset after another, and raising money through their network of connections. And so they, you know, they had a deal come along, while I was in the meetups, there talked about the deals with me, and I decided I wanted to invest. But since it was my first investment as a passive, but I wanted to, I told them, I want to learn as much as I can about the asset as well as about the business in the course of making this investment. And so they said, Yeah, you know, I feel free to dial in. And I told him, You know, I'm not gonna say anything, I'm not going to interject my opinion, I'm just gonna be a fly on the wall and watch what you guys do and learn. And, you know, maybe the, as I learned, I'll discover a syndication is not really for me, I'll just stay passive forever. So, you know, that was kind of my attitude going in is, I want to discover if this is a good fit for me, as a passive as an active, or just not at all. And, and so it was, it was in an investment, but also, it was almost like purchasing a seminar, where I was putting money into my education very explicitly. And so that was a fantastic learning experience for me, not only in terms of the actual learning, like, okay, you know, what, once a week, they would call the property manager and I would learn about, you know, as they go through the vacancy report, and the maintenance report, and, you know, finding out how they're positioning and market, the property on the market, or their advertising, you know, how they're dealing with staff turnover, all that stuff, that was an important learning, but also kind of a meta level learning in the sense that I was discovering, hey, this isn't rocket science, this isn't something that is so far out there that I need to spend years and years studying it, or, you know, takes a skill set that I don't have. This is really, you know, blocking tackle, running a business. And I think I can do this. In fact, a lot of the skills that I knew as a program manager mapped on really well to what you need to do as an asset manager, in terms of delegating and setting expectations and tracking. You know, looking at the key metrics, and figuring out when you're not meeting those metrics, how to take action, holding people accountable for commitments, that sort of thing. All that stuff is It maps on perfectly from a program management career into asset management. And so that was one of the important learnings I got out of those hourly sessions was, hey, I've got the skill sets to do this, I can do this. And so from that, I decided, hey, I want to, I want to pursue this as a, an active as a sponsor.

Billy Keels  30:18

And so when you've got you went through the work, you did the work, you ask the question, you recognize it, after you saw a number of patterns, you recognize yourself. So there's a high level of self-awareness and awareness of skill set as well, I would say it's that I want to go along family to take away. And then ultimately, you made the decision that hey, listen, this is something that you wanted to continue to move forward with. And that is, in my opinion, that's something that is a it's a great way to look at it. Now. Also, I want to go along for me to hear that, you know, Joel mentioned that these are people that he'd invested not just his capital with, and I don't know, Joel, if it was one of the deals or five of the 15 deals. But a lot of it has to do with how well the you know, the people, how much capital have you invested with them? And I don't mean just financial capital, I mean, time, I mean energy. It's, when I say invested there, because some people may be listening to them think, Hey, listen, I'm going to invest in the very first deal. It's 10k. I do that and then I want to have access to the entire castle, I'm going to assume that that was not the case for you. But if it was the case, please let shed some light on that. And how what was the what was the Jedi mind trick that you use to be able to do that?


Yeah, so I mean, I think I've only done one investment with this particular group. But I had gotten to know them through this meetup that I was attending. And so I had, I felt like a good personal connection with them. Since then, the other investments I've made have been with other syndicators. That was one of the things I wanted to do as it through the course of my self education was connect with lots of different syndicators so that I can learn not just how once indicator manages their business, but how a lot of different syndicators manage their business. So I can pull out best practices and, you know, see what works, what doesn't work, what makes investors happy, what doesn't make investors happy. And from that, I can then figure out how best to manage my business as I'm sponsoring deals.

Billy Keels  32:19

And I think that's fantastic. And so once again, just it shows that it's not always just about the check that you're writing, it's also about what is the investment that you're making, i.e. time you're attending meetups, that's an investment of capital of time capital, which is something that is absolutely critical. So speaking of which, so you've learned a lot, the things that you like, the things that you didn't necessarily like. So now you've been on that on the limited partner side, having very limited responsibility, writing, check, picking up checks every whatever the frequency is. And then you're also taking on more of the responsibility for bringing together other people that have similar goals and dreams, as it relates to their finances and their lifestyle, etc., etc. Talk to us about what are some of the things that you have seen that can be very helpful for someone who's just getting started, like you were from a limited partner perspective, and really wants to vet, someone who is a general partner is all the things that you've gained lots of experience there. And so maybe you could you could share some of that with some of the best practices you've seen? Or that you would build on that you that would go beyond just the investment of time at a meet up.


Yeah, so as a passive investor, I mean, the most important thing is that you trust the syndicators you're investing with, you're handing over typically, you know, 50,000 75,000 $100,000 of your money. And there are very few people for which that's a small amount of money, that's a significant investment. And so you really need to trust that the syndicators have high integrity, and have good skills that can help bring about the business plan and the results that they're projecting and communicating. So that's the first thing is make sure you trust them and the way, the way you can develop that trust is to know them, to know them personally, or just to know their track record, what have they done? What skills have they developed? What markets do they understand what asset classes are, they're good at this particular group that I invested with this first investment we've been talking about? I saw that they had a significant track record. They had bought, I don't know at least six or eight other deals in the Dallas Fort Worth area. And so this was maybe their seventh or eighth I don't know what exactly what number was, but they had purchased a number of other assets and had done well with them and executed their business plan. You know, the, the typical value add multifamily is you know, you buy something that's got a problem whether it's you know, overdue for renovation or maybe some management issues, maybe it's just a little rundown, high delinquency, bad tenants. And you go solve that problem. And by solving that problem, you increase the value of the property. And so this this group was it That was exactly their business model, they were finding assets that needed some work, they would do the renovations, they would improve them in some significant way. And by improving them, they'd attract either a better tenant or tenants that were willing to pay more money for, for their rent, and thereby increase the value of the asset. And so I saw that they had done that many times, I got to know them got to like and trust them, got to understand, you know, how they approached the business, how they communicated. And these are all things that, you know, I encourage my investors to look at is, you know, understand how I'm approaching the business, what assumptions Am I making about, you know, the property, the market, the asset? And how do I communicate as I'm going through the business, executing the business plan, you know, all the all of these things are essential in being able to trust that the people you're partnering up with, can do what they say they're going to do. Because anytime you invest in one of these deals, as a passive investor, you know, you're, again, you're, you're passive, so you're not in control of the asset. But even more importantly, you're not in control of the timeline. You know, typically, these things take years to unfold. Three years is a quick syndication, five to seven might be more typical. There's indications that run well over seven years. And a lot of it's going to depend on the judgement of the syndicators to say, hey, is this a good time to sell, this is a good time to cash out and pair investors back. And based on their judgement, they may say, Nope, the markets not right for a sale, we're going to keep operating the property. And as a passive investor, you don't get a say on that. Your money just continues to be in that investment. And so you know, you need to be thinking of that investment are those terms that you're not in participating in those decisions to say, when and whether the asset is sold, and you get your money back. And these are all essential things to be aware of when you're making that initial decision to go into the investment.

Billy Keels  37:06

So that's fantastic. And I love how you are able to break that down for us and really give each listener each viewer today of a goal or family, the different things that you can think about as you continue to move forward. And some of the different questions that that you can ask in a very similar way. This is how you are helping to guide people as they're looking at different opportunities with you with Lakeland, Lakeland properties as well. And so, having had that limited partner experience now having a general partner or key sponsor experience, maybe you could just before we go into the going long, final three, if you can tell us about what are some of the things that you're doing today? At Lake my properties? And how are you helping? Who are the who is the person that you are typically helping today?


Yeah, so now I'm in into a mix of value add multifamily and ground up development projects. And so I'm doing a little bit of both. One particular project that I'm very excited about as we're getting started on a mixed use apartment and retail Plaza build, just east of Austin, about five minutes from the Tesla factory. That's where they you know, they've just built this gigantic factory. They're in the process of building more, they move their international headquarters there. And we've got this property about five minutes away, which is great, because there's almost no multifamily in the area. So, we're getting started to build a 265 unit apartment complex, as well as a 40,000 square foot retail Plaza. We're, we're raising money for that. Now. It's a 506 C, which means I'm allowed to talk about it to folks that I don't know, that's an important thing that syndicators need to be aware of is staying compliant with SEC regulations about where and how they talk about their deals. But in this case, I can't talk about it in public. But that's a project we're very excited about. Because, you know, with Tesla, bringing all these employees in with supporting businesses about to come to the area, you know, to support Tesla, there's a couple of very big movie studios that are on the drawing board, about 15 miles east of us towards a town called Bastrop. So there's just a ton of demand coming to the area. So we're really excited about this project, we, we were very confident that there's going to be demand and that we'll be able to fill it up when we ran out. So that's one of the projects I'm working on. But I'm doing another got like I said value add multifamily and, and other development deals.

Billy Keels  39:35

Okay. Well, fantastic. So it's great to hear about that. And also one of the you know, one of the things you want to look for is or, you know, as the net migration, are there more people moving to an area versus leaving in the area? And is the in those people looking for a place to stay? And typically that responses? Yes. So I know you'll get a chance to find out more about some of the things that Joel is doing later on, but like here's the thing, Joe, we kind of got to get to the going long final three. And the thing is, I never asked any of our guests and today you're asking Show guest the going long final three unless you tell me that you're ready. So are you ready? I'm ready. All right, I figured you'd be ready. I had a sneaky suspicion that was going to be the response. So here we go. So we started with you over in Austin, Texas, I'd like to bring it back to this side of the pond. Now this is kind of my adopted home side of the pond Now, over here in Europe. So can you help me in the entire going long family understand? What is your favorite European city that you've either visited or still on your bucket list to visit?


Yeah, so for that one, I hope you'll forgive me, I'm gonna push the boundaries of your question just a little bit. About five years ago, I took my family, my extended family to Israel, and had just an amazing, phenomenal time. We went all over Israel over a period of about a week and a half, Jerusalem Tel Aviv, Golan heights that, you know, the cultural history, and just the, the accumulated culture and knowledge that's, that's in that place. It's just astonishing. We had a chance to visit an archaeological dig, and we actually helped the archaeologists, you know, go through some of the rubble to find artefacts from at least I think 2500 years ago. Just an incredible experience. So I highly recommend that to anybody who's looking at travelling.

Billy Keels  41:20

Fantastic. And so you're allowed to push the boundaries, but you have to make a selection. What would be your favorite city?


Individual city? Probably Tel Aviv. That's the that's a very high energy place.

Billy Keels  41:31

All right, awesome. So Tel Aviv it is. And so that's for question number one. Question number two actually has a lot to do with things that I have learned from very successful people, Joel, and I would consider you to be someone who's very successful, you've had a successful corporate career, you, as a business owner, you've learned you've, you've reinvented yourself, and you are now adding lots of value to others. And so one of the things hopefully, you will agree, but Joel is very much when I haven't had a chance to learn and see other very successful people, one of the things that they do very, very differently is typically very successful people from the very first time that they put their mind to something and they have a plan, and they go out and they execute the plan, they execute that plan perfectly, which is what allows them to actually get to result. Gosh, I think this is no, I'm just kidding. It's a joke. It's just a joke. I know, there's a lot of noise in the background, but it's just a joke. Like, of course, nobody gets these things, right. Like really successful people typically don't get things right the first time, or even the second time, usually, really successful people make like 20 to 50 times more mistakes than anybody else. Hopefully, you can agree with that. So that was just kind of a joke. But this part is no joke, Joe, you know, every single time that I've found someone who's very successful every single time they make a relevant mistake, or learning opportunity, or call it whatever you want to call it, whenever something doesn't go the way that's supposed to, and it's irrelevant mistake, they stop every single time they learn from that mistake. And then they put different strategies, tactics and actions in place to minimize the probability of that exact same thing happening again. So I don't necessarily want you to think about the mistake or the learning opportunity, or however you want to call it. But what is the one lesson that you learned as a result of going through that situation? And what is that one lesson that you know that the going long family needs to know today? Show that one lesson with this, please?


Oh, that's a good question. So I guess I would say, the fundamental lesson for me is decide how you want to approach the business, if you want to be in the business. You know, there's different levels of activity versus passivity. And so, really, you need to decide, okay, how, how involved do you want to be, you know, if it's, if real estate to you is something that you'd like to participate in, passively. And you want other people to do the work, and you've got other things you want to do with your time, whether that's a W two job, or spending time with kids or grandkids, or travelling the world, you know, that's kind of the first fundamental decision you've got to make is what's your level of participation in, in the business. And from there, you can then decide on a strategy that can make that work.

Billy Keels  44:14

Fantastic. Absolutely love that. So how active or how passive Do you really want to be and then from there, make the decisions that continue to help you move forward. So I appreciate you sharing that with us, Joel? And this brings us to question number three, it's about helping to feed our minds with knowledge. What is the one book that you would recommend to the going on family today?


Yeah, so there's, there's a book that I really love from a guy named Brian Burke, called the hands off investor. And Brian Burke is an act a very active syndicator. He's done a lot of deals. And the book that he wrote, is intended to help the passive investor. So folks who are thinking about getting into syndications as a passive investor, this is a phenomenal resource to help educate you on what to look We're going to deal how to analyses a deal, how to analyses a syndicator. So if you want to educate yourself on some of the mechanics of the business, but you want to do it in a way that makes sense, as a passive investor, this is a phenomenal asset. I love it when I when I hear my investors have read this book, because then I know that they're gonna come in with knowledgeable information and great questions. And not just, you know, kind of basics of hey, what, what's an apartment complex? How do I get into this, but more? Okay, I see how you've underwritten this deal. Tell me about the some of the assumptions you're making. And you know, why why do you think those are valid? And it's just it's a great way to sort of give yourself a springboard into knowledge. So hands off investor by Brian Burke.

Billy Keels  45:42

All right, absolutely. Fantastic. So I appreciate you sharing that with this a hands off investor, Brian Burke. And we'll make sure that we include that in the show notes. And don't worry, don't freak out. If you're running on the treadmill or something like that. You'll just have to click the link. It'll be super easy. Joe, like I am, I cannot believe it. I'm thinking about this guy from California who is talking to his wife figuring like, Hey, listen, do we stay here? Do we do something else and you decide that you want to get ready, start to prepare your plan B, you buy a property in Texas, you realize that either you can if you can have someone that's there that's renting from you, potentially, if you want to make the move quickly, they'll move out and then from there, you continue to build your career in the IT industry. But then you decided you know what you needed to do this entrepreneur itch, you wanted to scratch it, you scratch the itch, you realize that? Hey, listen, you were working less hours. But it wasn't necessarily the most profitable venture. And so hey, you know what, you decided you liked it enough to go back to it. And then from there, well, things really started happening, you started recognising that this asset that you were having this could be something more than just your plan B. So then you decided that you wanted to understand how you could scale this. So you started investing with other people, you started learning about things like syndications that not only allowed you to invest your capital in hard assets, ones that were providing you with you write the check one way, and then it would provide you multiple checks coming back your way. You also took the initiative to say, Hey, listen, I want to find out if this is the right step for me. And so you got even more involved you and started investing your most important capital, which is your time to develop relationships and also placed your financial capital and decided, hey, listen, let me give even get in on the call, listen, because you built that rapport, you built the relationship, it was the thing that you were able to do. And so you've gone from that to taking a lot of theoretical knowledge, making it practical application and true experience. And now you're also helping others in doing that through Lakeland properties. And you know, I know so many people that go along family, I'm thinking to myself, yeah, Billy, just ask him the question and just ask the question. And so I'm gonna ask the question, what is the best way for the going long family to find out more about what you're doing, Joel and also more about what's happening at Lakeland league line properties?


Yeah, thanks for the question. So, yeah, people can go to my website, Lake line I've got a few resources there, including a list of books that I really like the hands off investors one of on that list. But there's lots of other books for folks who want to get into investing or want to learn about commercial real estate. And also on that website, there's a form they can fill out to connect with me, or they can just send me email directly, Joel at Lakeline And I'm happy to engage in a conversation and, you know, help to, I always like to get to know more people who are interested in commercial real estate.

Billy Keels  48:20

Fantastic. So Joel, at Lakeland, we'll also include the website, we're going to make it super easy for everybody. Like I said, Don't worry, all you have to do is click and get in touch with Joel, right away, you can talk about life, you could talk about moving California to Texas, you could talk about what it was like to travel to Israel with his family. And you can also talk about commercial real estate. So listen, that we're gonna make it really easy for everybody. Joel, on behalf of the entire go along family, I want to thank you very much for deciding to invest your time with me. And with us today. Thank you very much.


My pleasure. Thanks for having me. All right, awesome. Joe, would

Billy Keels  48:51

you give me like 10 seconds just wanted to wrap things up with go along family? Because you made it super easy for everybody. You gave us very not just the high level strategy stuff, you gave us tactical actions, things you can do investing your time questions you can ask. And I know that everybody is going to be working on these questions. And they're going to do that because you're going to be downloading today's episode once again, and you're going to share the episode, share with other people talk about the things that Joe shared with you today so that you can become an even more informed investor, gain more experience and have things to talk about and also take Joel up on his offer. He said give him a call, give him a call, send me an email, and things like that. And so while you're doing these things, I'll be here preparing for the next conversation and also to welcome you back for the very next episode. So until then go out and make it a great day. And thank you very much trust did you enjoy today's conversation and once again, today's conversation was sponsored by first generation Capital Partners. If you're an accredited investor want to find out more about how we're helping accredited investors to gain their personal freedom even faster. Go to forward slash going long.

Billy Keels
Founder & CEO of FGCP
Billy is on a mission to share a roadmap and opportunities with other extremely busy, high-paid professionals on how to find financial freedom through investments. Listen in to learn how!
Guest speaker
Joel Fine
Full-time Real Estate Investor, Syndicator, and Land Developer
Joel Fine is a full-time real estate investor, syndicator, and land developer based in Austin, TX. He's a General Partner in 1,100 doors and a Limited Partner in 12,000+ doors across twelve states. Joel is also principal in ground-up development projects spanning 157 acres in the greater Austin area.

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