Climbing Your Way to a Better Financial Future Through Single-family Real Estate Investing

Published: Aug 05, 2020

Financial freedom is hard. It’s a big mountain to climb, but a better financial future is easy. Today we’re joined by California native, Michael Zuber who’s discussing single family, bread and butter, below the median, cashflow homes.

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Full Transcript

Steve Rozenberg: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Myndful Investor Podcast show. I’m your host Steve Rozenberg, and as always, I am joined by my good buddy Alex Osenenko. Alex, how are you doing today buddy?

Alex Osenenko: Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, wherever one of you is watching. We appreciate you joining us and spending next 45 minutes learning about investing in real estate, specifically the season is all about investing in single family homes, right? Steve.

Steve Rozenberg: Yeah. We want to get experts in the industry. Obviously, myself I’m an investor in the world. Alex is learning a lot about this by the people we’re talking to, understanding the dynamics behind it. And our guest today is California native, basically exited Silicon Valley, went down to Fresno, which I actually lived in Fresno for a couple of years, believe it or not. And now basically is helping people invest, understanding how to get out of their 40 hour … I don’t even know if it’s 40 hours a week anymore, I think jobs are normally 60 or 80 hours a week-

Alex Osenenko: Yeah, once we have the [inaudible] Mike, what is the one takeaway that you wish all of your students, all of the people who you mentor would take home and internalize?

Michael Zuber: Oh, wow. I like starting right from the jump [crosstalk] Yeah, he just see this one right after it. So I think the number one thing people need to understand and appreciate and what I try to share is a better … Financial freedom is hard, it’s a big mountain to climb, but a better financial future is easy. Single family homes, cashflow homes, bread and butter, below the median. You can have a better financial future with single family homes. If you choose to do it long enough, you catch the right wave. Sure, you can ride that to financial freedom. But if we just start talking about a better financial future, I think we can help a lot more people.

Steve Rozenberg: Michael, I’ve got a back up. I know Alex just kind of went right forward in the beginning, but if you could tell everybody a little bit about your background and your story and your history and how you kind of transitioned out of, you were in Silicon Valley doing that, so tell everyone kind of about you and who you are and what you’re doing.

Michael Zuber: Yeah, so my real estate investing journey with single family home started on my 30th birthday, right? Before I was 30, I was an [idiot 00:02:56], right? So I went to college, got a 40 hour, 50 hour week job, made a lot of money, spent it all, had nothing to speak for it. Then I read Rich Dad Poor Dad, which was a life changing book for me, because it was the first time somebody introduced the idea of rental properties, right? My family is full of folks who have high school degrees not more or less. They never made more than $40,000 a year. Money wasn’t around, right? So it wasn’t until I read Rich Dad Poor Dad that I said, “Oh my gosh, I could be doing something with my money.”

Michael Zuber: So that’s when the journey started. I didn’t know any better, I didn’t know anyone. I knew where I lived, which you’ve said a couple of times is a Silicon Valley. It didn’t make sense in 2003, it really doesn’t make sense in 2019, so I had to figure out where I wanted to go. So the first question most people ask is, do you want to go out of state or do you want to go somewhere driving distance? I happen to travel a lot for my day job, hundreds of thousands of miles a year. And the last thing I wanted to do was get on a plane to see my rental properties, so that was out. So we pulled out a California map and we find Fresno. Fresno is two and a half hours, one way. So anytime I want to go check out a property, it’s a five hour commitment, minimum.

Michael Zuber: That’s where it started, right? We bought a house on [North] drive back in 2003 for 107 grand, it rented for 1100. And that was the beginning of our journey.

Alex Osenenko: [crosstalk] We just want to qualify something because [crosstalk] we didn’t have a lot of conversations on the previous season about aligning with your family, aligning on your goals. I’m kind of working through that part myself, so it’ll help me to unpack, because you said we decided, we pulled out a map. Were you married at that time, you had kids? Like what was your situation?

Michael Zuber: Yeah, I’m sorry. It’s definitely a wee thing. I believe getting on the same page with your significant other is paramount and don’t pass go if you haven’t had those discussions. So yes, I am married, was married at that time. We were raising a daughter who has since moved to New York, right? She’s on her own. But yes, at that time she was, I don’t know, nine, 10, something like that. Yeah, so definitely a wee conversation. And again, let’s talk about this wee thing because you brought it up, let’s talk about that first house on North drive. We did everything right, we found a local property manager, we did the credit checks, job references, landlord references. But as I write about in my book, that story does not begin well.

Michael Zuber: They ended up getting a divorce. The wife takes off never to be seen from again. The husband decides to stop working and become a professional drinker, and destroy my house. I live in California, invested in California, so it was a 90 day eviction. So law behold our first rental property probably crushes most people, the reason they didn’t is because we were on the same page. We looked at each other after five months of having one rent cheque which was the first month and a deposit staring at a destroyed house that we had just bought and renovated, that we have to renovate again to the tune of 15 grand. And I remember looking at [Olivia] and going, what the heck? Maybe Fresno was not for us. Maybe this thing is a scam, right? I don’t know.

Michael Zuber: And it was her commitment and drive this like, “Nope, cost of doing business, we knew this could happen. It was unfortunate, it was our first one.” And we just kept moving forward, and the rest is history. And we documented all of this in that book I wrote One Rental at a Time. And that house turns out to be great, right? The first six months were terrible, but it more than doubles inside five years, and we turned 31 into an apartment building that we still own today. So I believe this business tests you and if you’re not on the same page with your significant other, stop, get on the same page, figure out what’s going on. Yeah, it’s definitely a wee thing.

Steve Rozenberg: So Michael, I’ve got a question for you, a couple of questions actually based on what you just said. First of all, do you think that having the job and being in Silicon Valley, did that help you move forward in your perspective of being the landlord? Or do you think it tainted you on that? How does your perspective, based on your history, because you obviously were doing well, you were doing fine for whatever reasons you decided to move away from that world. I’m just curious how you left that and how did you carry that forward?

Michael Zuber: Well it was a journey, right? So the reason I started rental, becoming a landlord is I did not have a vision of financial freedom. I mean you read it in Rich Dad Poor Dad, Retire Young Retire Rich, all of that nonsense. But I just didn’t see it. I didn’t have anybody in my circle that had done anything like that. Everybody in my family works until they’re dead, right? Because they just don’t make enough money. So all I wanted was a better financial future for my wife, daughter and I. That was all I wanted. So I kept focused on the next property, the next house and five years in, got 03 to ’07. I think we’re sitting at seven or eight houses. I feel pretty good, but the market is nuts, right?

Michael Zuber: The market’s crazy. I can’t get that ninth house and my brain just wouldn’t let us do that. So as far as being in the Silicon Valley my job, the only thing it allowed me to do well is I had to be focused. I looked at my market every day for 10 years straight. I had to do it early in the morning, right? I had to do it on my phone, right? That’s all I had, because I was working 60 plus hours and traveling a 100 to 200,000 miles a year on airplanes around the world. So I had no time. And I had a family, I had to help raise and a relationship I had to keep good. So the Silicon Valley job just forced me to get really good at using my time, that’s what it did.

Michael Zuber: After 15 years, right? Obviously if you read the book, it ends with both the wife and I leaving. We replaced two six figure incomes on rental properties and have been doing that for a couple of years now, so it can work. But again, let’s think about a better financial future first and then if you still desire to keep after it for 15 years, you can talk about financial freedom.

Steve Rozenberg: Yeah. And full disclosure, I do have a copy of this book, its 23, I read it. Actually it’s a really good book. Thank you for sending that to me Michael [crosstalk]

Michael Zuber: Yes, I did.

Steve Rozenberg: Alex you don’t have one of these two?

Alex Osenenko: I Do not. So yeah, I’m not as prepared, but it’s really awesome to unpack these things, specifically I really can sympathize with the Silicon Valley story because that’s kind of where I’m based at. I went recently just to visit Houston and we went and looked at some homes that are 250 to 300 range, and that’s reasonable and affordable for people. Where in Silicon Valley, similar homes if you want to have any kind of reasonable commuting distance to your job, it’s starting probably in a million-

Michael Zuber: Oh yeah, for sure a home? Oh my God, it’s probably three million or five.

Alex Osenenko: Yeah. Well, that’s the one you can actually enjoy living in, a home to just sort of put your head down on the pillow when you have a little bit of a kitchen that you can get away for probably a million, maybe even 950. So I definitely connect with that story, but I still have not myself gotten started, meaning I invest in some [reeds 00:10:41], it’s all sort of [crosstalk] Yeah, it’s more E trade, a little bit of research. I understand businesses, I understand companies, I love real estate. I think I understand it, I’ve done it for 10 years.

Alex Osenenko: But personally, that first step for me is the hardest one to make, and I keep hearing our first property was destroyed, blah, blah, blah. I know a lot about this, I know that this is possibility. So maybe you covered this in the book, and like I promised you I will read the book because I’m super curious about this stuff. Right now I’m reading something that Steve gave me about investing. But Mike first step, mindset and action, what are those?

Michael Zuber: Well, the first thing I tell anybody who follows me is, you need to do what I call, do your homework, right? You need to pick a market, you need to pick a zip code, you need to pick an asset type, right? You need to get narrow, you need to get focused [crosstalk 00:11:42], right? And then you need to look at it every day for 90 days. Because what will happen is the first two weeks, three weeks ago but you feel like nothing’s happening. And then after two or three weeks, she’d be like, “Oh my God, I’m starting to see what a good deal looks like. Oh, that one just came on. Oh, that wants a great price.” Right? And then it’s gone the next day. So you need to do the work, right? And what a lot of people get wrong is they try to go 20 different directions an inch at a time, you’re freaking going nowhere.

Steve Rozenberg: Yeah. It’s funny you say that. We’re just speaking at a Mastermind event, and I was talking to the people in the audience and I said, “Looking at deals is almost like golfing, it’s working that mental muscle. When you start looking at deals every day or every week, or however you want to do that, you’re going to see the pattern in the rhythm of these deals.” The challenge that most people have is, they never look at these deals and all of a sudden once they get the money and they get approved for a loan or whatever it is, in all of a sudden they’re just looking at it and then they go to you, “Michael, is this a good deal.” Well, you-

Michael Zuber: How do you know?

Steve Rozenberg: Exactly. Like that’s incumbent upon you Mr. Investor, do your due diligence, because when you start seeing houses, let’s just say 150, 150, 150, 100, Whoa, wait a second. [crosstalk] Now you’re realizing, okay, it just some [inaudible] Seller, is there something wrong? If you’re not looking at those all the time, just like you said in seeing that rhythm, you don’t know what a deal is. And most people, they’re so scattered. And I asked them what do you want to do in real estate? “I want to do everything.” And I told them, you’re going to stuck at everything. You’re not going to be good at everything. Pick one thing and go into that vertical. Now, once you have that and it’s running, then you can look it based on your goals and your strategy, you can move that around.

Steve Rozenberg: But I completely agree with you and I think that’s a big challenge that social media and other things, you see people doing this and people doing that, bigger pockets. But all those people they’re very focused in the one thing that they do, you don’t know what you want, so you’re going everywhere-

Michael Zuber: Yes, it’s the shiny object and [crosstalk]

Steve Rozenberg: It is. Now, I have a question and I read your book, but I don’t want to spoil the book. When you had that failure of the first property, I know when I’m going through challenges and things go wrong and it’s world imploding on me, I don’t look at it as a failure, I don’t look at it as a lesson, I look at it as, I’ve got to get this right, I’ve got to get it fixed, I got to work the problem to come up with a solution, right? How did you deal with, your brand new into this, you and your wife you’re involved, this as a team. How did you mentally prepare and deal with those things as they were happening? And then did you take those and turn those into lessons and maybe rules as you went further?

Michael Zuber: Well, lots of conversations, right? Evictions in California can take 60 days easy. And this one I think was more like 75. So what that meant is, we had roughly 90 days because we didn’t even serve papers until the 15th of the first month, right? Three-day notices is less. So we had 90 days to talk, where we were getting some updates, we were stressing out, we were looking up eviction laws. We were being new investors. And the only thing that saved us is we talked, and then we drove down there and I remember walking in and the guy took wine bottles and shoved them into our drywall, right? Made his own wine rack out of our drywall. Just nasty things. We communicated, we made sure we were on the same page. I was frankly ready to walk away. I was like [crosstalk]

Steve Rozenberg: So she kept doing?

Michael Zuber: Oh, yeah. For sure. I was setting myself up to say, okay, if she wants out, I’m okay getting out, right? I still knew this was the right way to go. But again, my relationship with Olivia is far more important than anything else, so I was ready to bounce. And she looked at me like, “No.” She’s basically like, “If this happens again we’re out, let’s try this. We knew evictions were a part of the process.” And it’s not like we missed something. We looked at it, we didn’t miss anything, right? There is not a

that says, are you going to be divorced in the next 30 days?

Steve Rozenberg: Do you think you’ll be downsized in your company at anytime soon?

Michael Zuber: Yeah.

Steve Rozenberg: Will you be getting a [DUY] within the next 12 months? These are things that you can help, and as a property management company, a lot of people say, “I thought you screened this tenant.” It’s like I can’t ask them if they’re going to get a divorce or they’re getting downsized or the company shutting down. There’s only so many things and I tell people that’s kind of the sandbox you plan when you’re an investor. There’s a lot of process, but there’s glass in that sand sometimes and you can get cut and having the right business model and the right business mindset to know it’s going to happen. So my followup question to you is, was that the only thing that has happened to you in 15 years? Because you said if it happens again, I’m out.

Michael Zuber: Yeah. Thankfully now I think we own about 175 units as of today.

Alex Osenenko: Wow.

Michael Zuber: So we’ve had thousands of tenants over the years, and we have two stories like that, right? It’s horrible to say that it happened on the very first one. And then we have a similar story about 10 or 12 years later in one of our apartment buildings where somebody tried to sublet something and then had a hammer party, which really they took a hammer to the drywall [crosstalk 00:17:20]. But it only happened twice, right? That’s the cost of doing business-

Steve Rozenberg: Out of that many doors, that’s great. It’s funny as I looked, when I talked to people that are new into this and their biggest fear of this house, I explained to them it’s four walls and a roof. It’s the business running inside of that four walls in the roof that is going to make or break your success. And the reality is that, that four walls and a roof doesn’t get any better, it doesn’t get any worse, you’re the one that gets better-

Michael Zuber: Yeah. So true.

Steve Rozenberg: That house that you bought on [Nora] street, it’s still the same house. It could be a great business model that gives you an amazing return, or it can be a horrible experience based on whether or not you and your wife got better at being better CEOs of your company.

Michael Zuber: Well said. I agree, 100%.

Alex Osenenko: Mike, can I take us back for a moment, you mentioned something very interesting, I’ve never heard the strategy mentioned before. And maybe it’s my ignorance, maybe it’s sort of a little bit unique. I see people like, “Hey, do your research.” But specifically, the advice to get narrow and look at it every day for 90 days. I just wanted to satisfy my curiosity and say how? What do you look at? So across to this question, are all of your 175 units in Fresno?

Michael Zuber: Yes.

Alex Osenenko: So you stuck to your own guns?

Michael Zuber: Yeah.

Alex Osenenko: And you stayed narrow. And you know that market probably better than anyone in-

Michael Zuber: 99% of people for sure.

Alex Osenenko: Yeah. Very, very cool. And so the how of it now surfaces like, “All right, so let’s say it’s Fresno, let’s say it’s Sacramento.”

Michael Zuber: Sure. Again, so you’re asking me how to do it and kind of went two different directions, so I’m not really sure what question [crosstalk]

Alex Osenenko: Yeah, pardon me. So you said, “Look at the market every day for 90 days.” What do you look at?

Michael Zuber: Oh, okay. So what I would tell a student to do, and again I have an online course for this. So you want to get as narrow as possible, so this is what I did. And I did this before Zillow before Redfin, right? The only thing I had was or the [LikeSite] I don’t remember what it was called back then, but it was something like I don’t have access to the MLS. I knew no one in Fresno, I want to make this very clear, right? So what did I do? I found a site and then I got narrow. So I picked a Zip code called 93728, right? Then I picked single family homes. Then I picked a single story, kind of 13 to 1500 square feet. At least three bedrooms, not more than four.

Michael Zuber: And I looked at that search every day for 90 days. And I tracked them all. I was that guy that would cut and paste and kind of make notes, say this one went up, this one went off, it came back, right? I’d take the photos that were there and just create … I was trying to learn the market, and basically what I do is I tried to not only learn what’s available, but then I tried to put in rent estimates and repair estimates just so that I can get a feel for what I call yield. Most people call cash on cash return, because I want to understand what 93728 three or four bedroom homes produce. And if the average return, I’m just making this up as 6%, I only want to look at deals to produce seven or 8%, because I believe like [Ted Williams 00:20:41] who was a baseball player, the last one to hit 400, is you need to know where your sweet spot is and you don’t have swing, right?

Michael Zuber: Only swing at the ones that you think are good. Back to one of Steve’s points earlier, a lot of people I talked to are really excited, get their money together to get pre approved. They go online, find three homes and offer on two. I mean how the heck does that make sense? Like working up the blackjack and betting on eight and 31, right? If you haven’t done the homework, you’re in trouble. And I think Steve’s analogy of a golf swing is a nice one, because I believe learning a market is a skill and you can learn it. If you’re willing to do the work as I call it, you can learn a market. And once you know the skill to learn Dallas or Fresno or Detroit, you can take that skill to Atlanta or Huntsville or DC.

Michael Zuber: Once you understand the process of learning and you do the work, it’s a skill. I can go to any market now, I’m convinced, and in six months be buying good and great deals. And that’s a good thing. I don’t do it, I have to look, but again, I stay to the market I know, so I don’t have to learn a new market.

Steve Rozenberg: Gotcha.

Alex Osenenko: Steve, sorry. One more probably, I just don’t want to deviate from here. Just one last clarification question. How do you pick a market? How did you do it and then how do you advise people to do it today?

Michael Zuber: Yeah. So for me, the choice was what is the best price to rent ratio around me within driving distance, and I was comfortable going two and a half hours. And then the other thing was population, right? I didn’t want to invest in a town that was 20,000 people, right? I didn’t want to invest in a town, I wanted to invest in a city, right? So Fresno was half a million people, it’s actually bigger than Sacramento which population-wise people don’t often know, so that was important to me. Lots of people ask, “What market should I look at?” I’m like, “That’s not my thing.” Right?

Michael Zuber: I don’t go online and look at all these statistics and blah, blah, blah. Because I think if you do your homework, you can be good in any market. Now your market may be like San Francisco, and it may produce 3% returns on average, but if you do your homework maybe you can find a four and a half or five. The job for an investor is to buy good or great deals in their market of choice. I chose Fresno, it’s a big city within driving distance.

Steve Rozenberg: I would just like to add to that, Alex just based on your questions. I think the biggest challenge a lot of people have is they don’t have a destination of where they’re going, which is my next question to Michael, but they don’t have a destination as to what is buying these properties, which that is a strategy. Buying properties is not a goal. That’s like saying, I’m going to get on the freeway, and that’s my goal. You get on the freeway to go somewhere, you buy a property to get you to a destination. The destination could be retirement, it could be safety, security, whatever that is. Once you know what that looks like, that destination is, now you build the strategy. So if we say we’re going to Disneyland, we know we’re going to jump on the five freeway, we’re going to go to the four or five to the 91. These are the types of strategies, he’s going to buy a couple of houses, he’s going to 1031 those into an apartment complex, maybe something more to get to his final destination?

Steve Rozenberg: The actual house of what you buy and where you buy it, is defined by the end goal strategy and then the city. So my point is this, the house is actually the last piece of the puzzle where most people, I hope Michael you know, they do it backwards. They buy the house and then they go, what do I do with this? Well, is this a cashflow, what is this? And it’s like building a plane in the air while you’re trying to fly it. It’s just not going to work, right? Same thing with this. Then they give it to you and they go, hey Michael, can you fix this? Can you help me? And you’re like, “I don’t even know what you want out of this deal. Why did you buy it?” Well, somebody said it was a good deal. Who said it was a good deal? The guy selling it to me [crosstalk 00:24:38], right?

Steve Rozenberg: And so Alex your question I think is very well except the property and the city has to align secondarily to the goal and to the strategy. Would you agree with that Mike?

Michael Zuber: Yeah, absolutely. If you go back to my mindset before we pick Fresno, right? So first real estate it’s not the stock market, somebody can’t rip me off. It’s not WorldCom or Enron, which goes back to the stocks that hurt me back in the day, right? So I’m not going to be burdened by a thief that goes to jail. Then Rich Dad Poor Dad, right? You can touch it, you can feel it, you can understand it, you do your homework. Can’t do anything in the Bay area, right? We spent a year as I write in the book. Every Sunday we would go look for that magic street in the Bay area that would work, and we never found it. So we had to make a choice. We were sitting around the kitchen table going, “What do we want to do?”

Michael Zuber: And that was the whole, do we go out of state? And I’m like, “No, freaking way. I’m not getting on another [Gadiam] airplane, I hate him.” So let’s get in the car-

Steve Rozenberg: Hey, am a pilot come on man.

Michael Zuber: [crosstalk] I’m not a good flyer. I hate flying even though I’ve done a million miles, right? [crosstalk] Go, go figure. It paid the bills. So that’s it, right? Then he was like, “Okay, where are we going to go? Price to rent, it’s going to be a big city, can’t be a town.” Fresno was really our only option. After that, it was going to be the inland empire down South or something. Oh, that’s a long freaking day. So [crosstalk]

Alex Osenenko: Mike, did you personally continue living in the Bay area in Silicon Valley as you say? However, we’re in Silicon Valley.

Michael Zuber: I live in Mountain view.

Alex Osenenko: Mountain view, yeah. Well, that’s like the absolute Mecca. You wanted to have the most expensive area, that was it?

Michael Zuber: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Alex Osenenko: But did you continue living in Mountain View, starting out in Fresno? Walk us through-

Michael Zuber: Yeah. I think people often laugh at this, right? So we have nearly 200 doors in Fresno, we had been doing it almost 18 years now, and we’ve never spent the night in Fresno. I’ve never spent the night in Fresno. I’ve had some long days, so right Up at 5:00 AM back at 8:00 PM or 9:00 PM, so it’s a long day. But I’ve never spent the night there. That answers your question, right? [crosstalk]

Alex Osenenko: So you live in Mountain View?

Steve Rozenberg: He still lives in Mountain View.

Michael Zuber: Yeah. Live in Mountain View. Yes, live, present tense.

Alex Osenenko: You live there now?

Michael Zuber: I’m doing this video from Mountain View. I can almost see Google from my window.

Alex Osenenko: Awesome. So this was my question because I really don’t want move [crosstalk]

Steve Rozenberg: You thought he moved to Fresno?

Alex Osenenko: That’s what I thought. That was initially [inaudible] we just picked up and we decided to move. That’s what I misinterpreted, sorry.

Michael Zuber: It’s okay. Nope.

Alex Osenenko: You do say now you’re financially free, you replaced the income. I know it’s 15 years it took you to get here, like you’ve done it 15 years ago. But what point you decided, “Okay, that’s enough. I can do it full time.” And you tender your resignation?

Michael Zuber: I’ll tell the full story. So, my wife has actually been out for almost six years now. So her income was replaced I guess eight years ago. We ran the business, we took her paycheck, put it somewhere else, and see if we could live without it, which we did for a year, right? We’re pretty conservative people at the end of the day. Then she stuck around for another year, she wanted to finish some project or some nonsense. And then she’s been out. I had every intention of leaving work at 50. I loved what I did. I was very, very good at it and compensated for it. I had no intentions of leaving. Then I was 45 at that time, so this was two years ago or three years ago. I’m in sales, so every year there’s a re juggling of territories and management and structures and all of this.

Michael Zuber: And I was aligned with the most evil toxic individual on the planet. We had a passionate one on one conversation in a conference room, where I let this individual know that I did not care for him and he didn’t care for me. 15 seconds in my head, I’m like, “I’m done. Let’s work out a package, I’m out of here.” Right? I remember going to work that day going, “Okay, I’m going to do this. I’m going do that.” And by 8:45, I had left my computer on the table and just took off.

Steve Rozenberg: Can I just say something Alex, this is a very, very important point that I think a lot of our listeners and viewers should pay attention to is, because of real estate, he was able to make that decision not out of emotion or out of fear, fearing for his job and fearing that he should stick around, I’m just going to have to suck it up and deal with it to turn 50. He was able to think clearly and think about his personal time and his freedom. A lot of people ask me, they’ll say like, “Why are you still an airline pilot?” I’m like, “I’m an airline pilot because I love flying airplanes.” I don’t necessarily have to do it, but I love doing it. But I don’t get wrapped around the axle of all the drama that’s going on in any kind of company, because I don’t mean it.

Steve Rozenberg: And so same thing, just like you, at some point, if you go to work and you’re like, “You know what? I don’t need this headache. I don’t need this drama. I’m pulling the ripcord and I’m out of here.” That I think is very important, real estate gave you that ability. Is that right?

Michael Zuber: Yeah, there’s no question. I say this pretty freely now. I would have done the last job I had for free, because I loved it and I was good at it. My ego was just filled helping people have record years. But you surround me by an individual that I don’t trust, is a liar. Just the anti me, I’m like, “No, thank you.” Right? It just wasn’t worth it to me. Yes, I could have done the political battle. I had a lot of fans. I could have gone, and this is just this nonsense. I’m like, “I don’t need this.” You clearly need a job. Karma is going to come back and bite you. I’m out, give me a package, we’re done, right? And I promise to say nothing mean about you or the company, right? Just give me a package and I’m out. It was that easy.

Steve Rozenberg: So let’s move forward to what you’re doing now because in … I’m not sure if he wrote it in the book, I don’t recall that. But in your bio you talk about how you help people not getting the 40 hours, especially young kids as well. Can you kind of expand on that a little bit?

Michael Zuber: Yeah. So one of the things that I needed to figure out after I left was, I needed something to do, right? Because I am a type A individual, I’m-

Steve Rozenberg: Purpose.

Michael Zuber: … goal oriented. Yeah, I needed a purpose, right? So I was actually days away from just getting a job, right? Because you have two days of being excited, you smile so much because your mouth hurts. You call everybody in your phone and say I’m retiring, I did it good two days. But then you’re like, “God, nobody else is around.” [crosstalk]

Alex Osenenko: Then day three hits.

Michael Zuber: Yeah day three hits, so the first thing I did is I wrote the book because I just had to get the story out. And I wrote the book because Rich Dad Poor Dad changed my life but it didn’t tell me how? It didn’t give me the how to go find a rental. It didn’t tell me a busy professional writing the race for 15 years and leaving, right? So I write about the entire journey, the ups and the downs like crash, the rise, all that stuff. So I thought it was a good compliment to Rich Dad Poor Dad on purpose.

Michael Zuber: And then I’m like, “Okay, that’s not right, that took a couple months.” And now I’m trying to figure out, again, what do I do? So I started YouTube channel called One Rental at a Time, it’s the same title as the book. And really what it has come to be is, too many people come out of school. You write young people, high school or college and you’re just programmed to work 40 hours for 40 years because we don’t know any better.

Steve Rozenberg: Yeah. So society trains you to do, they need employees to get stuff done?

Michael Zuber: I treat it like a video game, right? When you start a video game, you can change the characters and armor and all these other things, but if you don’t do that the game will work, and that’s what you’re trained to do, right? Jumping into the rat race and just keep running a little rat. I believe real estate investing specifically single family homes is the absolute best side hustle. I happen to have a 15 year track record, the documents, the success that is possible. If you do the work and you learn your market, and that’s what I’m trying to do, is just get people to realize. You know what? Bust your butt for 10 or 20 years so that you can have freedom later. I tell people now I bought 20 years of freedom. I left at 45, most people talk about leaving it at 65. So worst case, I bought 20 years of freedom to do what I want, when I want, with whom I want.

Alex Osenenko: Beside YouTube, have you done any other educational stuff sort of to get your passion out? Because you mentioned, you sat down for two months to write a book and you’ve got a YouTube channel. What else? How do you sort of sustain that A type drive?

Michael Zuber: So a couple of things. So first off, the drive to give back is real. And if you watch my channel, I report my goals weekly, right? I track goals, I break them down weekly. I have health goals, business goals, helping goals. All of this go to the channel [scene] I report every Sunday, so that’s one. Second is it became very clear the first year that people needed to know what I meant by do your work, right? I keep talking about good, great average deals. So I created online course unteachable, you can find it on my website, It’s listed 199. If you want to get a special, which I’ll give you guys, I have a coupon code called Book20, B-O-O-K-2-0, I give you 20 books off and, I will send you an autographed book here, which is what Steve got.

Steve Rozenberg: I got one, I got a book.

Michael Zuber: Yep, there you go. So for a Book79, you’re going to learn exactly how to learn your market. You’re going to learn the 90 day challenge, you’re going to learn how I compare deals. And people are eating it up. It’s less than a cash flow, from one house it should be a month. And I’m changing people’s lives. I tried to do it for free, but nobody would do it, right? [crosstalk] I found the number that worked and it worked. 10, 20 people are buying in a month. So-

Steve Rozenberg: Let me ask you Michael, on a personal level you’re doing a lot of things to help people, because now you’re not just an investor owning real estate, you’re actually out there trying to help people educate. How has that changed you personally? You and your wife as far as now you’re educating and you’re out there and you’re actually making a difference?

Michael Zuber: It’s really built on the last 10 years of my career in the workforce. What I was uniquely gifted at was the ability to take teams that were maybe underperforming and get them to think bigger. I routinely had individuals on my team who have record W2’s or record income. That was a sales guy, right? So you make your base and then if you beat your base, you make really good money. So I was uniquely gifted at taking teams that were underperforming and making them perform. So now what I’m doing is I’m just filling the cup in different ways. I am helping people A, understand they can have a better financial future if they do the work. If people just get to four rentals and that’s all they ever do, their financial future is so much brighter than it is today.

Michael Zuber: If you happen to take that journey and go from four to 10 or some bigger number, most of you can be retired, right? If you’re not in the Silicon Valley, if you can just get to cashflow of 25 maybe 2,800, life is changing. I get notes every day now, right? I have a private Facebook group just for students that are showing me deals and sending me stuff. It’s fun, that’s what I’m doing now. And the beauty of my day is I’m done with all this by 11:30. That was the agreement I had with my wife because I’m early, so I’m up by 6:00 every day. She’s late, she gets up at 8:30 or whatever. So I’m doing all this real estate, all this helping typically by 11:30, and then I’m done.

Michael Zuber: Then it’s whatever else we want to do for the day. So I’m not giving up much of our time, right? Our time is probably like 10:30 to 11:30, so I’m consuming a little bit of that. But the rest of the day is just for us. So I am ridiculously happy-

Steve Rozenberg: Is your wife involved in the rentals as well?

Michael Zuber: Oh, she’s involved in all rentals, for sure she’s the bookkeeper, all of that. But is she involved in helping people. She occasionally goes to meetups and whatnot with me, but she doesn’t enjoy public speaking. She’ll answer questions, ladies like to talk to her ne-on-one. She’s fine, but not big fan of being in front of groups.

Steve Rozenberg: Got it.

Alex Osenenko: How do you learn yourself? Because we all need to grow, and personally I have this insatiable hunger of, so I’m doing a lot of podcasts, I’m going to pick up your book, I swear Mike and I’m going to send you a whole bunch of questions. But how do you learn?

Michael Zuber: Oh, I learned by doing. The other thing I believe that’s paramount that has been very important to me is you need to set your goals. You need to communicate your goals out loud. You need to track performance or execution against your goals and you need to honestly assess, right? Like I just reported my goals last Sunday, which is week two of the new year, right? I decided why start January one, let’s start December first. So now as you can see my goals, right? I’m not hitting all my goals, right? I have weekly targets and I’m not hitting half of them. So I have to self select and figure out what’s going on. Is it not a real goal? Is my why not big enough? What did I learn? What can I do different? I believe in imperfect action, but you need to set a target, go after it, stop, figure out what’s going on and figure out what you need to do different, right?

Alex Osenenko: Can you give us an example? I’m Super curious, what are some of the recent goals and what some of the things you’re not hitting? Just curious.

Michael Zuber: Yeah. I have my goal sheet in front of me. Let me just see if I have it in front of me.

Alex Osenenko: Sorry, I didn’t mean to put you on a spot.

Michael Zuber: No, fine I don’t mind. I’m shoot [inaudible] me on the spot. You can go to my fricking YouTube channel and see the full report.

Alex Osenenko: All right.

Michael Zuber: So I have some weight goals. I was 175 a year ago. I got hurt, I ballooned to 205. So I’m trying to lose a pound a week. But to do that, right? Lose a pound a week, that’s interesting. But I had to set stuff around that. Okay. I have to intermittent fast. So for me it’s from 11:00 to 7:00 is when I’ll eat, I won’t eat after that. I have to work out five times a week. I chose to go vegetarian seven days a week. So I track those and I report on those. So far I’m losing weight, I’m working out, I’m doing all of that well. Go down to helping people, right? I have book sales I track, I think I want to sell 25 a week. Week one was 18, week two was 29. I tried to have a YouTube followers goal, iI want to get 50 new followers a week.

Michael Zuber: So far the first two weeks I’ve missed, I think it was 31 and 37, right? So what do I need to do? Do I need to do more content? Do I need to be interviewed more? These are all things. And again, I think I have five sections and 28 goals. And again I track them weekly, I report on them every Sunday.

Alex Osenenko: This is fascinating Mike. I’m sure hopefully we’ll help you pipe a few more subscribers your way and get you on your path to hit the goals. This is encouraging to me because I just started that in December 1st as well, specifically around the weight goal. And I had a spraining [colon] and I couldn’t walk and I couldn’t exercise for two and a half months almost, so that was tough. So similar, they sympathizes completely. But financially right now doing a lot of research and trying to understand what is market doing? Maybe real estate is the right time, maybe real estate is not the right time.

Alex Osenenko: But love the setting goals, love the examples. Truly a good story you have they’re very inspiring. So I’ll pick up the book and maybe we’ll come back in next season, and shall revisit some of the specific things, and who knows what the market is going to do? Mike, I just want to say thank you very much for your time. And do you have a partying word of advice? If there’s one thing you want to leave our listeners with, what would that be?

Michael Zuber: I think we go back to the first comment, financial freedom is hard, but a better financial future is easy. You need to appreciate that, you can’t get lost in the social media hype of financial freedom. Let’s talk about having a better financial future first, then we can talk about financial freedom.

Alex Osenenko: Wow, excellent. Well, it’s hard to follow this one-

Steve Rozenberg: Yeah. Michael, if they want to get ahold of you, how would somebody find you on line, internet, social media, all that kind of stuff.

Michael Zuber: Yeah, I’ve done my best to keep everything One Rental at a Time. So if you liked this interview, do me a favor, go to YouTube, One Rental at a Time, give me a subscription. I do produce content every day, average of three videos a day.

Steve Rozenberg: Nice.

Michael Zuber: So lots of stuff going out there. I am on Instagram, same name, One Rental at a Time, website The only thing that’s not One Rental at the Time is LinkedIn, and that’s just because LinkedIn was around three years and I’m an old guy, so it’s just Michael Zuber.

Steve Rozenberg: Got it. And Alex, do you want to let them know how they can get hold of us on our Facebook group and everything?

Alex Osenenko: Yeah. Those of you listening, thank you for tuning in. You can find us on Facebook, we are Mastermind Real Estate Investment Club, it’s a private group, maybe we’ll corral Mike to join and comment and share some of his wisdom.

Michael Zuber: Sure.

Alex Osenenko: I really love the opportunity to bring these high level thinkers and these successful individuals like Mike into the club to help out our folks. And we’re doing a lot of webinars, we’re doing a lot of meetups. It’s all in where a lot of that stuff sort of centralized there. But Hey, look, we’re passionate about education and we’re learning together, but if you need property management services, we service 15 locations, 15 different regions, and would love to talk to you about that. See you next time. Thank you very much for listening.

Steve Rozenberg: Mike, thanks for being on, and we’ll see everyone there get his book. It’s definitely worth it. It’s a great book. Very educational. Mike as always I appreciate you being on board. Everybody have a good week, we’ll talk to you guys next week.

Michael Zuber: Take care.

Steve Rozenberg: Bye.

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