If you shatter like the glass ball, you won’t move far with investing. If you bounce back like the rubber ball, you can build momentum and keep building.
Nate Armstrong of Home Invest is a graduate of Johns University, a private university in Minnesota. He started his career after graduating from the University. His first job was with the Target Corporation. This is where life presented him with an even greater education to build the foundation to focus his trade.
According to Nate, he was blessed with being selected for their leadership program at Target. In addition to the leadership program, he had the opportunity to learn through on the job in his trade of choice. His education with this fortune 500 company was not limited to construction, building, and renovations. He also received essential training on how to hire contractors, create budgets and manage a project site. Nate’s career flourished within the company as he rose within the corporate structure.
During those years, he polished his skills and laid the foundation for the business he would run in years to come. Nate Armstrong was an observer from a very young age and as he grew, he curiously observed other successful individuals who he held in high esteem. Through his observation, he discerned that much of their success was due to investing in real estate. He concluded that the people he admired lived a lifestyle that he would aspire to have as well. That is when he found a mentor to teach him more about the world of real estate investment.
Nate continued to educate himself. When Nate Armstrong felt he had a good command of the real estate investment market, he set his plan in motion and dived right in. While maintaining his position at Target, he had the opportunity to obtain the financing for his first property. It was a single dwelling house located in St. Paul Minnesota, and of course, it was a renovation property. This was but one step that began the procession of investments for years to come.
Nate Armstrong of Home Invest has come a long way since the early days. He shares his vibrant, healthy lifestyle with his wife and four-year-old son. They enjoy exercising first thing in the morning. They begin the day when he and his wife go out for a rigorous morning run. During the summer months, Nate relishes the ability to be able to jump into Lake Michigan proceeding their run. He savors the exhilaration when the heat of his run turns hot into the icy cold as he fully immerses himself in the chilly water. It is an invigorating contrast from the cold water and the heat of a great morning work-out. According to Nate, it’s like being baptized every morning in the cold waters of Lake Michigan – Nate enjoys thanking God for each new day when the refreshing water hits. On weekends, Nate Armstrong and his family enjoy camping, tennis, and running.
Where did the idea for Home Invest come from?
Home Invest was the creation that stemmed from the mind of both myself and my partner. After I spent a few years helping others get into the real estate industry, I encountered Mr. Dragan Berger. He was once the owner of several Century 21 Franchises in Europe as well as a trading school. We met when he became one of my customers, and after some contact, he proposed a partnership.
At one-point Mr. Berger purchased the HomeInvest domain and approached me with it. He suggested we systematize this process of helping others with their investments and we put it online. Since we’ve been able to do that, people are now able to invest and collect their rental dividends in their accounts each month.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I’m a routine person, big time. I like to eat right and exercise in the morning. Every morning starts out with a run with my wife. Sometimes when it’s warm enough, we will jump into Lake Michigan at the end. It’s like being baptized in the cold waters of the lake and a reason to thank God for each new day. After the run, we go home, and I have a green smoothie, followed by breakfast. Then I get to the office. First thing I tackle at the office is client contact. I do what you call strategy sessions. Clients will come in with their savings or a 401k or an IRA money, and I spend my time thinking about and trying to match the best real estate for their goals. There’s a difference between buying a home, an apartment building, or another multifamily and between buying in a city or the suburbs. All of those factors come into play. So, I spend most of my time talking to the clients to ensure that we get the best fit.
Later in the day, I spend time working with the operations team. Every component that goes into each property is thoroughly researched to ensure the best cost efficiency. We want to make sure we’re getting the best results for our clients. Each product is installed based on quality and durability of the investment with specific attention to detail to ensure an increased property value for each clients’ investment. Building equity is easily established in the monthly rental income flow.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I take the ideas to our team first and get feedback on how realistic an idea is first and get the pros and cons. They are key to getting this right for our clients. If they are positive about an idea, we can get adoption to roll out the idea faster. If they aren’t on board, I ask a lot of questions and move on based on what makes the most sense. If it makes sense, we work hard to get it out quickly.
What’s one trend that excites you?
There are a lot of iBuyers that are jumping into the game of real estate right now. Years ago, it wasn’t the cool topic. Buying houses wasn’t the cool topic, but places like Zillow and Open door that are making it possible for people to buy homes online. It’s exciting to see the larger corporations creating opportunities for even the smaller investor to get in on the market. It means that there are still opportunities out there.
You still have to be smart about where and how you invest, but there are opportunities in real estate. Don’t ride the curve too much and follow it where it doesn’t make sense.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
My bounce rate makes me productive. If you have two balls in your hand, a rubber ball and a glass ball, and you drop them, one will shatter, and the other will bounce back. If you shatter like the glass ball, you won’t move far with investing. If you bounce back like the rubber ball, you can build momentum and keep building.
In my business, I get tenants that don’t do what they are supposed to do. Those are examples of where I get knocked down. If I let that knock me down, or make me shatter, I don’t get anywhere. If I bounce back up like the rubber ball, I can change positions and recover from whatever is hindering my progress.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell young and eager Nate Armstrong to start investing earlier in education. This education prepares you for investing in the area you want to invest. For me, that was real estate. I would suggest reading the books sooner and studying sooner, maybe in high school. Finding a mentor and getting started with research sooner than after college can really make an impact on your options and choices.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
You can finance houses in the name of an LLC, trust or corporation the day after you buy a piece of real estate on favorable terms and in the name of the corporation. If you call any of the larger banks they will all tell you the same thing, that you can’t do this. However, I know you can because I’ve done it. It can happen if you work with the right bankers and hold them accountable the right way.
For example, Wells Fargo, US Bank, and Bank of America will tell you no. What about the little, local credit union in town? Where the big banks tell you no, they may say otherwise because they do not have to operate by the same rules as the larger banks. They sell their mortgages in-house thus make their own rules on some level.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
You should never stop learning no matter what industry you’re in. Your market and industry will change, and you have to stay on top of what’s changing. There is a plethora of methods to do this because there is always stuff changing in the industry.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Digging up mostly off-market deals has been the biggest growth for our business. We can get things cheaper than everyone else. Most are bidding for things listed on the market. When something is listed on the market, there are a number of people who may bid on a project, and this drives the price up. By purchasing homes before they go on the market, we are able to negotiate a good deal for our clients. This has been driving growth in our business every single month.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I underestimated what it would take to get new development and redevelopment projects done. I was relying on builders. In the end, I realized it’s not as simple as just doing a renovation project. When you’re doing larger projects, it can take much more investment and time than anticipated. My biggest lesson for development work is that if you don’t fully know how to do it and control it then don’t jump into it. I have since learned how to do it, but it was a hard road to get there.
It’s still not something I feel as confident in so I do not suggest others get involved in. It was a very hard lesson to learn. Thankfully, we moved forward because we had our rentals stacked up. We were able to focus on the things we do best, rental property. We have been able to really build up Home Invest because of that focus.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Develop a way for investors and new landlords to change the way over all utilities changed over. It’s a tedious process that people don’t enjoy doing. It takes a lot of time away from what people want to be doing. If you can develop a way that someone can go online and pay to have all of the utilities changed to the new owner’s name, they would do it. We manually do this for them right now, but if we can find a company that can do it, we’d jump on it.
Lawns and snow removal should also be something we can do online without complication. We should be able to do some simple snow or lawn care without complications. If we can pay online, it would make it easy.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Attending a real estate seminar, I learned a lot of things from the speakers. The people who I met at this event also gave me some lifelong connections as well.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Kartra.com is useful for communications and web forms which help to automate the processes.
IFTTT.com it’s an app for your phone. With this, you’re able to send reminders, or upload images for an email or trigger some other action that saves you time. So, if it is going to rain tomorrow in a given project area, it can prevent us from pouring concrete or paint. My IFTTT updates me on whether or not rain is in the forecast. I can then contact the people in the field and have the work put on hold until the weather is better.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Micheal Gerber – eMyth
This will teach you how to develop systems no matter what business you’re in. It will teach you a way to systematize things. Every payment generates receipts, which can build up. If you have a system in place that forwards your receipts to your accountant monthly, it will ensure you’re prepared when tax time comes.
What is your favorite quote?
Power must never be trusted without a check.
Yes, you hire property managers to collect money for you, but you also must check to ensure the money is being deposited to you every single month.
Trust but verify.
- Success comes by bouncing back quickly when failure hits. Don’t let yourself shatter like a glass ball hitting the floor!
- Bring new ideas to life by first screening your team with them for feedback. You can weed out bad ideas quickly or modify them for success.
- Find Off Market Deals. Off Market deals have less competition so typically equal lower prices which attract more investors.
- Invest in what you know and understand.
- Always keep getting educated; your industry will change and if you want to stay on top you have to adapt with it.
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