My Story

My Story

 

This is my story. My parents are immigrants from Vietnam. After the war they settled in California. I was born and raised in San Jose, CA. My parents divorced when I was about 7 years old and was raised by my mom. I saw how hard it was to constantly work while raising 2 children. My mom was an assembly line worker for many years. She got laid off and became a hairdresser. She also took a second job working at Marshall’s. The clothing store. I remember she told me once that she might not have enough to make the mortgage. I think that moment made me say to myself that I have to be successful. I have to be able not only support but to thrive. I wanted to do it Bigtime.

 

One time she said most rich people have their own businesses. That stuck with me. I started looking into what business do I want to start? What is likely to succeed? I cannot fail at this. So at the time I found three basic investments. Stocks, real estate and business. There was a stat that said most millionaire’s own real estate. I said I have to do it! My goal is to be a full-time real estate investor. I remember my first book was a book on tax liens and a no money down course from Carlton Sheets from an infomercial. I started going to meet up groups and such. It helped me familiarize myself with the terminology and the industry.

 

This was in the midst of the stated loan era where you can get a mortgage with no money or little money down. It took a couple years but I did buy my first house in Sacramento at the age of 23. I went on to buy a few more that way in Oakland and Texas and Buffalo. I never saw the out of state ones in person before I bought it. After a while, I learned that I was really just breaking even. I was leveraged and very small positive cash flow. If a big repair hit, it wiped out my profits. When the great recession hit, I lost all my real estate and had to go through foreclosure and bankruptcy. It was a tough time because I feel like a failed. My credit score was in the 700s and now that took a hit. But after praying about it for a while. I realized that this will actually help and make me less stressed. All that really would happen is my credit score is lower. It actually made me more conservative financially. I just had to spend what I made. This was all happening while I was engaged and the wedding was coming up. I wanted a clean slate before getting married.

 

I met my wife in the Bay Area and she is from St. Louis. We got engaged and I wanted to own my own home. Have a place to settle. The bay area is one of the most expensive markets in the US and probably in the world. My family was scattered and her family was still in St. Louis. After much resistance, I decided St. Louis was good place to raise my family. I always thought of it as one of the best cash flow markets in America. We bought a 4plex before moving here. When we finally got here we spent 6 months rehabbing and making it rent ready. Keep in mind me and my wife didn’t really know what we were doing. We didn’t have jobs so we just went at it together.  I am very proud we just did it even though we were frightened.

 

We eventually finished our first rehab. We both got jobs around that time. I was helping people consolidate their student loans and my wife worked at Wells Fargo Financial Advisors. We just worked and saved and bought 1-2 properties a year. Getting a little better each time in managing rehab, tenants etc. A lot of ups and downs with evictions, major roof damage, all that stuff. But as you keep doing, you get more confident you can handle things.

 

I kept asking my wife when can I go full time? When can I go? So we came up with a plan that if we have this much money coming in monthly, then I can quit. So with that motivation and focus, I just kept at it. Cleaning, managing,  going to Home Depot, whatever. I knew it was going to be worth it. So after 7 years I finally quit my job! It was on the last day of the year on December 31st. They knew it was coming. I actually liked the job as a 9 to 5. But to do that my whole life was not going to cut it.

 

Now I manage my rental properties full time.  Managing other people’s rentals is the next big challenge for me. We are at point now where I am hiring a maintenance group to help field the calls , look at fixing issues and try to get them done efficiently and effectively. I am having this lady move into one of my units so she works for me. She and a partner have maintenance group with other clients also. It gives me confidence they know what they are doing. But we will see. It is a lot of trial and error in this game. Just try your best and keep doing.

Podcasting a creative outlet for me. I love learning so it gives me a chance to talk to inspiring people going for their dreams. I hope to use these experiences to help people get a feel for what it takes to go for their dreams. I want them to do it practically so it will be likely to succeed.  It is usually focus, dedication and hard work but it is definitely worth it.

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