Self-made real estate investor Ashley Hamilton dishes on the buy and hold market in Detroit.
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Alex Osenenko: I’m going to start with boys and girls. That’s just how it’s going to happen.
Steve Rozenberg: Just do it.
Alex Osenenko: Boys and girls, welcome to the next episode of Investing in Single Family Homes. This is our season two where Steve and I are taking a deeper dive into the world of investing into single family homes. We have an amazing guest for you today, but let me first say and introduce cohost. My name is Alex and my cohost is Steve Rosenberg.
Steve Rozenberg: It’s rare that we’re together. We’re actually in the same room together, which is not very common. Thanks for having me. I love being here. It’s going to be a great show. We’ve got someone who is a ball of energy. It’ll be a good conversation with her. Also, for people that are new to the show, you can find us on Spotify, iTunes. We’ve got a Facebook group, The Mastermind Real Estate Investment Club. Join the group. There’s a lot of information in there. We’re not selling anything. We just want investors, like-minded investors on the Facebook group to have conversations. Again, we’re all investors. We’re just trying to get better. We do webinars on there, we do meet ups. All that kind of stuff. I think it’s a good place for investors to converse. Ashley and I have a common bond of both being bigger pockets guests, which you haven’t been, right?
Alex Osenenko: Yeah. No. [crosstalk 00:01:43].
Steve Rozenberg: Just making sure. I’m just making sure.
Alex Osenenko: I have not been. I’ve noticed when you opened you said, “Thanks for having me”. Bro, this is like-
Steve Rozenberg: That’s true. You’re hosting this show. [crosstalk 00:01:52].
Alex Osenenko: I know.
Steve Rozenberg: I’m trying to be humble. I want to be humble.
Alex Osenenko: Let me introduce… Really?
Steve Rozenberg: Well not really.
Steve Rozenberg: Let me introduce the real guest here, who we have the pleasure and honor to have on the show today, Ashley Hamilton. And I met when I listened to the Bigger Pockets podcast episode where she was a guest. That was her very first show. And to me I was just stuck to the… I was in the car like. So I stopped the car when I got home and I just stay there in a car for 20 minutes to finish out the podcast. That’s how to me, groundbreaking her story was. And, it’s a pleasure to have you on the show. Ashley, how are you today?
Ashley Hamilton: Thank you. I’m good. Thanks for having me. It’s such an honor to be on a show with you guys. I really appreciate it.
Alex Osenenko: So let’s play with some data. Let’s say okay, well she’s awesome. Well, how awesome is she? Well, let me just throw this nugget out there. In 2009 when Ashley started, she had zero properties, right? And in 2019 today she owns 15 properties. And Ashley, is this your main source of income these days or do you actually do other work?
Ashley Hamilton: Yeah, this is the main source of income, but I am a Jill of all trades, kind of like a Jack of all trades. So I honestly still work a nine to five, but I only work part time. So I worked 20 hours a week for a bank. I own my own property management company. I have 35 units on top of mine that I invest for an out of state investors. I’m doing coaching a little bit on my Instagram, trying to build the social media. I am doing active renovations for these flips and managing my own properties. And then also I’m a single mother to two teenagers. So, that’s my most important job. That’s the one I cannot plug in a person to replace me for it. And that’s the one that I take most pride in. That was really my why.
Ashley Hamilton: So I’m really excited to be a mother to them and be able to do it. I feel like I’m doing a good job at it now and I’m seeing my why and the sacrifices I’ve made in the beginning. Seeing it coming to fruition with being able to spend so much time with my kids, to the point where they get tired of me honestly. I’m like-
Alex Osenenko: This is-
Ashley Hamilton: look, your mom is cool. I have 100,000 views on YouTube. And then my son’s like, well I’m not trying to be funny, but this kid got a million views reviewing the toy and it’s only been up for two days. I’m like, what are you serious? So honestly I feel like in the long run they’ll see other great things I’ve done, but they are appreciative and I really enjoyed it.
Steve Rozenberg: And something I think that the viewers need to know is that you are in a market that is not known for investing and that’s your handle on Instagram, Detroit_Investor. So you’re in a Detroit market, which I don’t know what it’s doing right now. I know over the years it’s been a depressed market. Is that helped you or is that hurts you being an investor? Because I know sometimes when you’re in a market that people pass by, there’s sometimes a lot of deals there that no one’s looking at that you can scoop up. And I’m just curious if that’s what’s going on where you are or is it tough?
Ashley Hamilton: Yeah, no, it really helped me. When I first got in… Especially for a person starting like myself and I’m sure we’ll get into that. But just a brief background I had no real estate experience. No one in my family’s in real estate. No one owned a home or owned a business. I didn’t have credit or anything like that. I was making $20,000 a year as a waitress. My parents didn’t have a 401k or they didn’t own a home to do a [inaudible] lock on. So if you’re starting from nothing, this was the perfect market for me. And it was just luckily that I lived in Detroit my whole entire life.
Ashley Hamilton: So basically what I would just say, when I went to a seminar back in 2009. There was a quote about; “Be fearful when others are greedy. And be greedy when others are fearful.” And that really stuck out because every time I called a lender, everything I looked online, everybody was saying, stay away from Detroit. So I took that as being greedy because others were being fearful. And at the time I was picking up properties for $5000, $4000. Some might be picked up for $1,900
Steve Rozenberg: Wow. And I remember reading in your bio, used your tax return to buy your first property. Is that right?
Ashley Hamilton: Yes, absolutely. So my first property was $6,300 and I was only making $20,000 a year. But because I had two kids, I was getting back about $5,000 in tax return. So instead of… My friends were buying new cars or getting new furniture or taking trips and I just decided not to do any of those things that year. And I took my $5,000 and saved about $1,300 over 3 months. And that’s how I was able to purchase my first property in Detroit.
Steve Rozenberg: So let me ask you this, Ashley, and this is I think important for people that are maybe in your situation you were in. What mental shift did you have to do from having the regular nine to five of being a waitress and working and basically going against the grain and going against what everyone else says you should do and putting that faith in an unknown. And again, it’s not like you had family that was in the construction business or anything. What was it mentally that you were able to tell yourself to keep on the path? Was it a watch or was it a need? Did you have to do it or is it something that you just wanted to do in your mind?
Ashley Hamilton: I really wanted to do it. I had to do it if I wanted my family, my last name and my kids to ever have a different life than I had. It was absolutely necessary. I wanted to do it because I wanted to spend more time with my kids and I did not want them to grow up like I did and go to different daycare centers and things like that. So I needed to spend more time with them and work less. And that was the want and the need to do it. So the mind change. And then I wasn’t like a really social person, so I never liked all the flashy things, the new gadgets and things like that. So I was okay with foregoing those things. Because I knew how the life I wanted to live in the future. So it was a mind change shift and I would say it all sparked from the seminar I went to. The first seminar, but it really was the want to do it but I needed to do it. Because I needed to provide a different lifestyle for my children.
Steve Rozenberg: What advice would you give to people if someone’s watching this show right now and they’re going, man, what can I tell myself to get myself over the edge? I’ve always learned that it’s a matter of not letting fear paralyze you and just taking action and being okay with making mistakes. Because, everyone’s afraid to make a mistake. But we all make mistakes every day and we’re okay with that. But what advice would you give someone if there’s a single mother out there thinking, man, I wish I could be like her. What would you tell that person?
Ashley Hamilton: Right. So I would just tell them, you never make a mistake or you never lose. You know what I’m saying? You just learn a lesson. If it’s no life threatening or something like that, you can always learn something or learn from the situation. You just may have to do it a little longer. That’s definitely. So what started the whole thing was the quote that I heard from Warren Buffett was; “Live how most people won’t. So you can live how most people don’t.” And what that meant for me is take a few years. I feel like I’m young, I was 23 at the time. I had two years to just stop with buying anything extra, like a Dave Ramsey. And try to live debt free and try to buckle down and save everything I had to make the goal.
Ashley Hamilton: So once you do that… To me, I feel like that’s the biggest thing for people to forego. Everybody wants the nicer cars, even I-phones honestly, they’re so expensive now. The money that you’re investing in your iPhone and phone bill, that could be a property in Detroit if you just didn’t do it for one year. So, that would be the biggest advice is living frugal. And I know it’s hard, but. Because everybody wants the instant gratification, right? So if I go buy a new iPhone, I instantly have an iPhone that I can show the world. But if I spend $5,000 and put a down payment on a house, I’m not really getting anything back instantly. Because I [crosstalk] find a tenant. So just try to not focus on the instant gratification and the delay gratification. I mean, I feel like the compromises and the sacrifices that I made early on, I mean it’s like I’m gratified every day for it.
Ashley Hamilton: So it’s like the gratification has come 10 times more now that I delayed it. So just live frugally and be willing to make mistakes, but just get in there. Because honestly, there’s more people that know more about real estate than me, obviously. But they haven’t done as many deals as me because everybody goes in and they think, well, I got to know what happens when a contractor don’t show up or I got to know how to use the utilities. Well, I just threw myself in there. When the issue came up, I just handled as it went. And obviously it’s very important to educate yourself, but just get in there. So if you have to just do a deal on a different side of town or you can invest the least amount of money just to get started to go through the trials and tribulations so you can learn, that would be great.
Ashley Hamilton: Just so that you wouldn’t lose so much money up front, but you have to do a deal. Even if it’s a partnership, because I’ve done all these deals and I still have issues that I’m facing to this day. So if you spend so much time on just trying to learn everything, you’ll know so much, but you won’t get any deals done. You know what I’m saying?
Steve Rozenberg: Yeah. Now, do you have any regrets of doing what you’re doing? Obviously, maybe doing it again, you may say, Oh, I wouldn’t make that mistake, but a lot of times those mistakes or lessons that make you better. Do you have any regrets of anything that you’ve done?
Ashley Hamilton: Not at all. I mean, I regret not leveraging credit cards and debt to buy more.
Alex Osenenko: Right.
Ashley Hamilton: I wish I would have known enough and just bought more. So far as buying, no. The only regret is just not diving in full fledge back then.
Steve Rozenberg: It’s funny I’ve always heard a saying and it was; “Very successful people never say, I wish I didn’t do as much as I did.” They never say they have a regret that they did too much. They’re always going to say, I wish I would have started sooner. I wish I would not have let fear stop me. I wish I would have… It’s never the; “Man, I really made too much money in my lifetime. I really had too good of a life.” I’ve never heard a successful person say that. Have you ever said that?
Alex Osenenko: No.
Steve Rozenberg: Yeah. That’s weird.
Alex Osenenko: Well the one thing I was going to ask you, Ashley, is when you were getting started and you’re diving into it at first. This is one thing I read from like somebody set this up. So I read Steve’s book and he’s talking about investing in these dilapidated properties in, we’ll call them D class. Which you say D class?
Steve Rozenberg: D.
Alex Osenenko: D class properties in Houston. Where, they were just losing their butt, like him and his partner. And they decided to double down because, Hey, maybe at scale we can make it work and it didn’t work. They could make it work. What class of properties did you like? What was your first property? I mean, I know it because I listened to podcast, but let’s talk to the listeners and walk through how you were able to acquire and en stabilize and then get that property going.
Ashley Hamilton: So in Detroit, it’s not technically to me at least a Sonata class neighborhood. So for example, my first property I paid $6,300 for. So, you would think it was in a war zone, maybe. A dilapidated area where lack of development. But it was the complete opposite. I had homeowners on my street, a nice park. I was close to all the suburbs, all the transportation. And it was just a really nice area. And even now since I moved out, I stayed in that house for five years. But I rent that house out for $775 a month. So I make $9,300 a year and I only paid $6,300 for it. So, that speaks up to the neighborhood that it is.
Alex Osenenko: Sure.
Ashley Hamilton: Detroit is really block by block. So I feel like the only reason Detroit does not have the super high prices, is just because of the weather. You never know, you may get 10 inches of snow. And it obviously it draws a lot of people from here. But it’s not really… When I went out to California and Vegas, I travel a ton and just seeing the areas out there, Detroit is really not like that. Where you can classify the areas because in one zip code you’ll have a property that’s worth $500,000 and you can also have a property that’s worth $20,000. So, it’s not so much as class here, it’s just the amount of work that you put into it, stuff like that. So, but to get to your question, how it all started, with the first property, when I bought it, like I said, it was $6,300. And it only needed minor repairs. So, obviously paint, someone had stolen the furnace and the hot water tank and it needed plumbing.
Ashley Hamilton: Anything else would have just been an upgrade, but just to get it livable, it was probably going to be about $3000 more. That I spread out over, over time. So, that’s basically what I did. I purchased the property, I think it was around April, and I just went to work every day and saved every penny I could. And when I moved into property, it was around August, which was hot in Detroit. I moved in without a furnace. So it wasn’t like I just moved into the spectacular, Oh this is my first house. I’m going to have new furniture, new everything. I literally scraped every dime I had just to get in there and then saved up and saved up to continue on. But once I got in there, like I said, the neighborhood, I knew all the neighbors. There was a park, it was just a really nice neighborhood.
Alex Osenenko: Well, so Ashley you occupied your first house? You lived-
Ashley Hamilton: Yeah. Because, I had to eliminate. So what a Brandon Turner, he calls it the income creep. I just knew what it was. I didn’t know a name for it. So, Brandon’s is famous for making names for everything, but yeah. So in order to do anything, I had to eliminate my biggest expense. At the time was my rental payment. I was renting. I was a single family, so I was paying $700 a month in rent. So once I got the first property that eliminated the rental express expense and that’s how I was able to start saving and then start multiplying the properties. By basically versus instead of paying the $700 in rent, since I own the property, I didn’t have to pay it so much. So I just took that and saved about $600 into a savings account and that’s how I was able to get my second property fast.
Alex Osenenko: What was the time period Ashley, between the closing of the first property and closing to the second property?
Ashley Hamilton: It was about 11 months. Because I also use my tax return to push it over where I can do all the renovations as well. So I’ve saved about, I would say about $5,000 in that 11 months without paying rent. And then when I got my income tax the next year, which was about $4,000, I use that $9,000 to buy my second property. So it was 11 months.
Alex Osenenko: This is incredible. Do you talk to people in your similar situation where you’re basically at poverty level, like just above, right? Waitress salary, I mean you probably not… You’re not going around in fancy cars or anything. Just providing for your kids and pulling yourself by shoestrings. It sounds to me you should be gathering these… You should be teaching a class in university. I mean, that’s-
Steve Rozenberg: It’s interesting the way you say that because that’s a lot of people’s reality, right? So a lot of times you had mentioned earlier social media and Instagram and you see all these people just killing it. But that’s not reality. The reality is the people that are out there slugging it out, getting punched in the face in the morning because they wake up and the tenant trashed the property and left and you’re trying to figure it out. You don’t have the money. That’s reality of owning a rental property. And that’s what landlords deal with. And so I mean what she’s talking about is exactly what a lot of people go through. But even more so, people don’t even take the steps that they did because they would have stopped at the $6,300 price point of a property. And they go, that’s got to be a horrible situation, I would never do that. And she’s saying, that’s where families live. It’s fine. And you agree with that Ashley?
Ashley Hamilton: Yeah, I definitely agree with it. So like you said, people would be fearful and just look at the price tag and just run away. Where I was willing to get in there and do the work and stick it out. And that’s why I really am trying to build so much because obviously I have 10 jobs. I feels like I’m always busy, but I try to give back and help as much as possible. But on my Instagram and any social media that I do in a podcast is I want to be as real as possible because I want to speak to people that were like me. Even at my second property, I still didn’t have a general contractor. It was just word of mouth going to home Depot.
Ashley Hamilton: So I want to speak to people like me that don’t have a leg up who just really don’t know what to do, but they’re willing to sacrifice a year, are willing to live frugally for a year so they can get started. And, just the reality, like you said, Steve, that they don’t teach this stuff in universities. And if you’re looking on Instagram, you may just think like, Oh, everything is gilts and glamor and you won’t really see the real like punch in the face moment. So that’s what I’m really trying to put out there and really trying to speak to people. So I can inspire people to just get out there and do it any way they can.
Steve Rozenberg: It’s like I always tell people, the great thing about real estate is there’s no rules. You can do whatever you want to do. The bad thing about real estate is there’s no rules and there’s no one to tell you’re doing something wrong until you’re standing in front of a judge or you’re getting subpoena for a lawsuit to go; “Oh, I didn’t know that that was illegal because I didn’t know what the laws were.” And you know that’s the part that people don’t talk about. And I think that like very much like me, like you, we’ve taken our licks over the years and we’ve learned lessons and so if we start moving forward now, that it’s been 10 years, right? It’s 2009 so the end of 2019 and you now have 15 houses, is that right?
Ashley Hamilton: Yes.
Steve Rozenberg: And, you’ve obviously got some sort of system down, I’m assuming of how you buy them and how you manage properties. Is the managing of the properties a means to… Is that a strategy to grow a business or is that just to satisfy your properties and extra properties or just help out? I mean is that a focus definite business model or is that just a; I got them, I need to manage them, I might as well manage other people’s while I’m doing it?
Alex Osenenko: I think it was opportunistic for her, but I want to see, I want to hear Ashley, maybe it’s grown into something else by now.
Steve Rozenberg: Yeah.
Ashley Hamilton: Definitely. So it was really, because I’m doing it for myself, I might as well do it for others, obviously. There is a business opportunity there, but I’m a very person that really believes in integrity and doing things the right way. And I just hear horror stories all the time. So it’s really hard for me to transition with letting the business grow massively because I know I have to trust other people to put my name behind things. But that is definitely a goal. But because of the systems that I’ve put in place in the trials and tribulations that I’ve made through this time, I got really good at it. So it’s just a no brainer to do it for other people and to help other people. But I just feel like I should just self manage my own because honestly I spent about. I’m sorry about that. I spent about-
Steve Rozenberg: See how famous you are. You probably got someone else wants to give you a property.
Ashley Hamilton: No, that’s an alarm system. And that’s the only thing that comes through when you sound off. But I’m sorry about that. But I feel like that manager… I’m sorry. Is this edited?
Alex Osenenko: Are we good?
Steve Rozenberg: We’re good. Keep rolling.
Alex Osenenko: Keep rolling.
Steve Rozenberg: That’s life, right? That’s the reality of life.
Ashley Hamilton: Well, [inaudible] I know what I was saying. So, but to be honest, even though so all together it’s about 47 properties that I manage right now. Including my 15 because I managed that in the business. But I spend about four hours a week. So, even now, like today, I haven’t got one tenant call, one late at night phone call because I manage things so good and so systematically that I don’t really deal with a ton of the issues that other property managers or other landlords may deal with. Because, I feel like just doing everything up front. So, typically when I turned over a house to a tenant, everything is pretty much done.
Ashley Hamilton: So, even if it’s just something as simple as the door knob, I’ll just go ahead and change everything upfront. And that way I can have a long time with like repair free or low maintenance issues. So the property management becomes so easy that I can take on more people and I’m really not even spending a ton of time in the business. That’s how I’m able to work part time 20 hours a week. And then now I just started the new coaching business.
Steve Rozenberg: So are you looking to expand? What I’ve learned is any business needs a whole business model structure. You got to have vertical. And property management, as we both know is very, very processed procedure driven. So are you looking to expand that, make that a bigger play in what you’re doing? And is that going to overtake your investment properties or is it kind of you’re going to keep this on the side and grow your investment portfolio? What’s the strategy?
Alex Osenenko: Coaching.
Steve Rozenberg: Coaching. Yeah, coaching.
Ashley Hamilton: Absolutely. So I feel like I’m going to always be an investor first. I want to grow that business as much as possible. And then coaching and knowledge education, and then property management. So there’s no reason why all three of them couldn’t be huge, but that’s just the way I’m going. So even now, I just picked up two clients just based upon the interviews and the podcast I’ve been doing. So, I’m definitely willing to pick up more people and I’m doing it a lot with my coaching class. But I just need people that are really serious and they match with me and my business model. For example, if I talk to people and they just want, well they’re only $20,000 properties, let’s just throw it in there, put $5,000 in and throw someone in there. That’s somebody that I just wouldn’t work with. Because I have to have a level of integrity and a standard that I do. So I’m growing the business daily, but it’s not growing massively because I am very selective of the properties that I pick and also the people that I work with.
Alex Osenenko: It’s a good lesson for all of us who are running property management companies. We have to understand who is the best client that we can help. [Crosstalk 00:25:02]. That we are fit for. And then deliver the services. But I wanted to project this is one thing I wanted to project this your story into our audience circumstance. I’m going to make that attempt because when I was listening to your story Ashley. I was thinking, okay, well, she’s in Detroit and the properties are so low priced and that’s why it’s so much easier to do it there than let’s say in California or like I’m in California, I can’t do it. Or somebody sitting here in Vegas or somebody sitting there in Albuquerque, well, she’s got this $6,300 homes, we don’t. And I just want to sort of project my thought process around that. Why can’t you go to the Detroit and make those investments? Like nobody stopped you. But like a listener you’re probably not making $20,000 and as a waiter or waitress. Maybe you’re making $60,000, $65,000 and you’re spending every dime. And then maybe your incredibly broke man.
Steve Rozenberg: Broke is broke man. If you have less than what you started off at the end of the month, you’re broke. I don’t care how much you’re making.
Alex Osenenko: The lesson is, I think the key lesson is, which most people are not, I just not willing to do but need to really truly look inside themselves and find this delayed gratification. I think that to me was like the biggest key to the story that took me a little bit while to want to understand. And in fact all the way up to up until this podcast, like what is the secret that gets that delaying your gratification. Plenty of scientific psychological studies, kids are unable to delay gratification at all.
Alex Osenenko: They’ll take one candy over six candies. It’s like my daughters, eight and five. And tomorrow almost does not exist. You’ll get an ice cream tomorrow, right dad? You have a child too. Like, no tomorrow this [inaudible 00:26:45]. But like this is really interesting to me, but I wanted to unpack a little bit like the pre investor story of Ashley. I wanted to know how… And Steve already alluded to this. But your mindset shift had happened somehow. How did you learn? You mentioned about seminar. I want to find that pivotal moment for you.
Ashley Hamilton: Right? Absolutely. So I would probably say early on, everybody, all the kids, even as 9 and 10 everybody was watching Nickelodeon. I was watching HGTV, the transformation. Which is the biggest thing. So I really guess that’s what started it. I didn’t realize the investment. Everything I’ve done, it’s just been year by year just increasing and changing the goals. But I just wanted to really transformation. Flip this house, do the transformation. And I didn’t realize about the financial freedom and the passive income and things like that. So, that was always early on fascinating to me. At 17, I had my first child, I was a teen mother, I was still in high school and she was born prematurely. She was two pounds and seven ounces. So I was in high school. So I would go to school, I would go to the hospital afterwards and then I would have to leave about 10:00 PM so I can go to school and the doctors can do their thing.
Ashley Hamilton: So, she was only in the hospital for about 31 days, but I never wanted to leave her again. That really just being there. I even wrote a journal every day. And I even look back at it now just seeing my process. That probably was the mind shift. As being a mother, I didn’t even realize. I mean I was 17 but I was just doing it. It’s really a hard thing to do, but I would… I just don’t want to leave her. I want to be the best mom to her because she’d been through a lot being in the hospital. And I just want to make sure she never has to go through this pain. She never has to be without me. So, that was the biggest mindset change.
Ashley Hamilton: But obviously, I couldn’t just go and do it right then because I was uneducated. I just had a high school diploma. I did one semester of college. I didn’t have a parent or an aunt, an uncle I can go to and say, Hey, show me how you invest or show me how to start a business or can I work for you? I just didn’t have anything. And it just came out of sheer necessity. But with being a parent is really what shifted my mindset.
Alex Osenenko: That’s very interesting.
Steve Rozenberg: There’s something that… You asked her about a pivotal point and I don’t think that from what she’s saying and a lot of people… I don’t think there’s always a pivotal point. I think what happens is it’s a compound effect of watching. Maybe something in her life or like for me 911, or something that made you actually do that shift. But a lot of it is compounding up over time and you’re building it up.
Steve Rozenberg: And I guess one of the things I’m curious with Ashley, is I wonder if, because you didn’t have people in the industry to tell you why something wouldn’t work. It’s kind of like, you don’t know what you don’t know. Right? If all of a sudden you’re thinking I’m just going to do this, and everyone’s like, all right, knock yourself out. A lot of times it’s all these people telling you why it won’t work. Why this won’t happen. Why that won’t happen. And that stops you from doing it. It sounds like you didn’t have anyone to tell you yay or nay. So it’s like, you know what I don’t know what I don’t know, so I’m just going to keep on moving. And so I guess was there a pivot or was it just compounding over time and finally something caused you to actually make that jump?
Ashley Hamilton: Yes. So it was just compounding like you said. So there was no one thing in particular that just made me do it. I would just said, except for just seeing all the foreclosure signs. I was walking past and realizing, Hey, how much is that house? $6,000 I can afford that. Now, if I would start calling those signs and they’re saying $80,000 then I probably wouldn’t be here today.
Steve Rozenberg: Right.
Ashley Hamilton: But, so it was just a compounding meat. Being a problem solver. I knew I wanted to be with my kids as much as possible. I had to have passive income and seeing signs and calling them and seeing the prices. I knew I can afford it. And that just basically what it was.
Steve Rozenberg: Now let me ask you this. How do you think differently now compared to how you thought back before you even bought your first deal? Now, you’ve got 15 deals, you probably look at them, it’s probably not as emotional. What goes through your mind now when you see an opportunity, compared to what you saw back at deal zero?
Ashley Hamilton: Absolutely. So now it’s just trying to do as many as possible. If it’s $100,000 and I don’t have the cash, not just scrolling and passing it. I at the point where I let me reach out to people and use my resources and finding a deal. So the only thing that really changes to having more liquid cash, available credit, but also the connections that I’ve made, knowing that these are obstacles that should not stop me versus back then. I just, honestly, when I started I was 23. I just wanted to be a millionaire by 30. I think it was a Forbes magazine that said there’s not a lot of. This was before the… we’ll write one Facebook, think he was the youngest millionaire or something like that. So I’m like, well I can do that. I can be a millionaire by 30 years old. So the plan was buy 10 houses and wait for them to appreciate, once they are worth $100,000. Sell them all, get my million dollars, move to California and then I’ll never have to work again. Obviously, that’s-
Steve Rozenberg: Live on social media. You’ll be the Instagram queen, right?
Alex Osenenko: Social security in California. A million dollars gets you maybe a half a house.
Steve Rozenberg: Get a tram ticket.
Ashley Hamilton: Well that just goes to speak to my mindset and how things were 10 years ago. So, obviously that has changed dramatically, but that’s all up until up until three years ago. That’s all I was just trying to do, just get 10 properties before I wasn’t quite a millionaire at 30 but I had my 10 properties at 30. So I did hit that goal even though things have drastically changed. So another thing I want to talk about, so when I did my bigger pockets interview, it came out around May 24th at that point I had 10 properties free and clear in Detroit. So that was like a big selling point and that’s what I had prided myself upon just doing this thing. I didn’t realize there was a story or really, great. But I just wanted to do it free and clear and just have, is less debt as possible. Well, since May 24th until fast forward… I just bought my last property September 18th. I picked up five homes just in that short period of time. So there’s been a mind shift or mindset shift just within these last five months.
Alex Osenenko: So are you like let’s go back a little bit. Are you leveraging now? Was that the biggest shift? So you leveraging before it was free and clear? I want to own it to nobody can take it away from me and nobody can touch it. I can make all the changes I need to make. I’m not responsible to anyone. I don’t need to be obligated to anyone. And now since that interview, you’re saying that you are more open to leverage because that will speed up your-
Steve Rozenberg: Scalability. Yeah. It’s a velocity of money. Here’s what it is.
Ashley Hamilton: Absolutely. So back in April when I did my portfolio, including my primary, I was at $765,000 free and clear for my 10 properties with my primary. So fast forward to today, I at $1,000,055.
Steve Rozenberg: Look at you. Congratulations.
Ashley Hamilton: Millionaire at 33, even though I don’t feel like it, but I am. And I did that just by leveraging. So I mean I only did 4, I could’ve done 10 and had maybe $600,000 to play with. But I only did four because I want to kind of even it out. I haven’t really thought of how much I want to leverage, but I know I can probably do up to 10 and then I can start using other financial ways. But these are properties that are fit. Some of my properties… I have one that’s appraised that only $40,000 some are $50,000 some are $70,000 but so these aren’t a $100,000 houses, obviously. So doing this in Detroit properties that I paid $1,900 for our appraisal for $60,000.
Steve Rozenberg: Yeah. So I mean the numbers are through the roof. Your ROI is huge. I mean.
Ashley Hamilton: Yeah. [crosstalk] Millionaire and I was able to do that. And I’ve increased my equity by almost $300,000 just in five months just by leveraging he locks in the hard money loan. But what I did not talk about on previous interviews because I didn’t realize how good it was. But even now with my million dollar portfolio, I still bring home $12,000 a month in passing income.
Steve Rozenberg: Right.
Ashley Hamilton: Just from that’s from my rentals. That’s not including my coaching, my property management or my bank job. So that’s amazing because in California or any other place you can have $1 million wort of properties or maybe… I know a guy that has $6 million of property. He doesn’t bring home $12,000 in passive income a month. It’s more like $6,000. So, that’s what Midwest in Detroit has been able to do. For me the cashflow is second to none.
Steve Rozenberg: Now let me, let me ask you this Ashley. And it sounds like you’re utilizing cashflow and you’re doing stuff with this. And obviously you like Detroit and there’s a emotional tie there because you’re from there. Do you ever think about going into other markets and scaling out for maybe a pre… Starting to get maybe appreciating properties. Because Detroit’s good, you’re making cash flow, but it’s not going to go up exponentially like it would in the Bay area of California. Right? So have you thought about scaling out into other areas or are you thinking of staying just in Detroit?
Alex Osenenko: Oh, she’s coming to California. She’s done.
Steve Rozenberg: Oh yeah, she’s just a social media queen. Right?
Ashley Hamilton: Right. So I’m definitely. If the numbers make sense. I’m willing to invest anywhere. So I just went out to Vegas. I love Vegas. I feel like Vegas is my second home. The thing gets, like I said, it’s more appreciation, less cash flow. It’s just so hard to do when you’re getting so much cashflow and passive income in. And you are appreciating these properties. So, I don’t want to go too much into my deals, but for example, I closed the deal for $11,000 on my birthday August 12th. That house rents out for $1,100 a month. But not only that, after a $17,000 renovation. So I only spent $27,000 into the property. It appraised that $65,000.
Steve Rozenberg: Wow.
Ashley Hamilton: So [inaudible] after I have six months of ownership, I can go pull out my $27,000 plus the extra $5,000 or $10,000. So even though it’s not appreciating ton, it’s basically doing deals for free. All you’re doing is waiting six months to pull your money out. So, if I find better deals like that, and I know a lot of Indiana, Tennessee and Ohio. I’m looking in Ohio now. But the cash flow is what I’m really after in the long term.
Steve Rozenberg: Sure.
Ashley Hamilton: So the difference is though, because not only with Detroit, there’s not a lot of demand and some of those other places, or even if it is demand, you’re not getting that high for rent. So Detroit, what’s so special about Detroit is you got all these properties, but if you’re a decent at your job, like me, if you go over and beyond. I have zero vacancies. And I have 20 applications in a week. So that’s what I feel like why I’m so focused on Detroit. But if I can get those things in other places, I’m more than willing to do so.
Ashley Hamilton: So I’m not sure if you heard of like Ryan Pinner. The all star investor. Yeah. [crosstalk] I was actually able to meet up with him out in Vegas. Such an amazing thing. We had a great conversation and he was schooling me on the Vegas market and there’s some value there for me as a primary residence. But as an investor, like my buying hope, it doesn’t really make that much sense. So I would just say, and I know I dragged that question on so long, but I would just say if I can get the kind of returns and numbers or in other markets, then I would do so. But I just don’t want to risk my portfolio because obviously if I did it in California, a market that would appreciate. I would have to have a lot of cash or some kind of leverage and then that would potentially put me at risk if something goes wrong.
Alex Osenenko: But I bet there are people who would say similar things in the markets they’re in because they figured out a niche. Like in Seattle-
Steve Rozenberg: You get the rythm [crosstalk 00:39:26].
Alex Osenenko: You can make money in Seattle, you can make money in a lot of places. Ashley, this was a terrific interview. I really enjoyed it. I think our audience enjoyed it as well. Steve, do you have a last question?
Steve Rozenberg: I do have a last question. Detroit in general what is happening with the city? Is it the same? Is it getting better? Is it getting worse? I think a lot of people want to know what is Detroit like?
Ashley Hamilton: Right. Absolutely. So Detroit was completely bankrupt about eight years ago. Who would want to invest or live in a bankrupt city. Now we have multimillionaires investing is ton of revitalization. So just to speak on that, like I said, I was lucky enough to buy a property on August 12th for my birthday for $11,000. I bought a property September 18th on the same street for $33,000. So it was just the luck of the deal. But the market is definitely creeping up. I have investors calling me all the time. The market is saturated with investors, which is bringing the prices up. So that’s the only thing that’s changed is just it’s not a lot of inventory, a ton of it at low prices. Where I need to start probably leveraging mortgages or spending more cash to buy properties. But other than that, it’s just all changing for the better. We have a couple of big three auto, excuse me, auto plants coming into town. We have the casinos, there’s tons of redevelopment. It’s just going up. And I feel like we were already at the worst at the rock bottom, so there’s nowhere to go but up.
Steve Rozenberg: That’s great. And the one thing just to finish this up, I’ll say that like in Houston, whenever there’s a natural disaster or any anywhere, but I noticed from Houston, like anywhere. It’s not the government that rebuilds the houses and gets housing going. It’s investors. It’s investors that take their own money, they take their time, they invest in properties, they make them livable. And they do that. So investors, like you had said, are the ones that are actually rebuilding cities with their own money, with their hard work. And they’re making places that were unlivable, they’re seeing opportunity, they’re putting in their time, sweat, equity and they’re making these places livable. That now people can buy, people can come in. And that’s the same in any city, especially after a disaster or dilapidated area like this. And all of a sudden prices start going up. Well it’s interesting.
Alex Osenenko: And that’s why our mission is creating happy homes and healthy investments. Because it all comes into full circle. So here at Mind we help people manage their properties as well as acquire investment properties through a tool called Investimate. But Hey, if you guys want to go and follow this wonderful lady and see her succeed and continue to thrive, go to Instagram.
Steve Rozenberg: Yeah.
Alex Osenenko: Detroit_Investor. She’s got 6,400 followers. When we publish I’d like her to get couple 1,000 right? A couple 1,000 more. Not down but a couple 1,000 more. And maybe, Steve’s trying to keep up.
Steve Rozenberg: I know she left me, she doubled me man.
Alex Osenenko: Steve what is your handle?
Steve Rozenberg: I’m like 3,300.
Alex Osenenko: What is your handle?
Steve Rozenberg: Oh my handle is RosenbergSteve. So it’s R-O-Z-N-B-E-R-G-S-T-E-V-E.
Alex Osenenko: Do really need to spell that?
Steve Rozenberg: Well a lot of people spell [crosstalk 00:42:33]. That’s very normal.
Alex Osenenko: Ashley, it was immense pleasure. Steve.
Steve Rozenberg: Yeah.
Alex Osenenko: Same here as well. And thank you very much for listening.
Steve Rozenberg: And also if anybody wants to follow us on Facebook, go to our real estate group, Facebook Mastermind Real Estate Investment club. Obviously, please join and like our iTunes account. Leave us a review, share it with someone, let people know about Ashley because she is awesome. She’s going to be a rock star. And we will say that we knew her back when she only had 15 before she dominated the world.
Alex Osenenko: Yeah, she’s small.
Steve Rozenberg: And if you want to talk to Ashley about coaching, you want to talk to her about real estate. You want to talk about any of that stuff. I mean after you and I have chatted a lot offline, I mean you’re such a likable person, you’re bundle of energy and you’re very inspiring. So I hope you keep doing what you’re doing Ashley.
Ashley Hamilton: Yes, thank you. And I did want to say something else guys, just to the listeners that are fearful or maybe just trying to get in there. I would just really want to tell people to just do what you can. Try to save as much as possible and just get your first deal done.
Alex Osenenko: Absolutely.
Ashley Hamilton: You can do this. If I can do it at $20,000 a year, you guys can do it. And I just had a quote that I came up with. I mean, obviously it’s probably been out there but, “A failure is not a fail. It is an attempt that did not go as planned.” So if you look at things like that, then you’ll never be discouraged because if you wouldn’t have attempted it, you wouldn’t have been able to succeed or fail. So, “A failure is not a fail. It’s an attempt that did not go as planned.”
Alex Osenenko: That’s-
Ashley Hamilton: And so just attempt, reach out to me if you need any questions. I love to help new people, but just get your first property going and then it’ll just all waterfall from there.
Alex Osenenko: Okay.
Ashley Hamilton: And follow these guys. Steve has a great book. He tried to downplay it, but it’s very great.
Steve Rozenberg: Thank you.
Ashley Hamilton: Amazing. I love him. I love his story. And Alex, I appreciate you and I really want to get to know you more and see what you’re doing and I look forward to working with you guys.
Alex Osenenko: Great. Thank you guys for listening, Ashley. Thank you, Steve.
Steve Rozenberg: Thanks everyone. We’ll see you next time. Bye. Bye.
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