Landlording For Life podcast host Sean Morrissey just purchased his 39th multi-unit investment property – a 16 unit building he was able to acquire without help from investors. Aside from being a top producer, Sean has studied real estate investing for years and put his knowledge into practice. In our conversation Sean talks about why buy-and-hold investments are a prime focus and what brokers can do to get started in the world of real estate investing.
D.J. Paris 0:15
Hello, and welcome to another episode of Keeping it real the only podcast made by Chicago real estate brokers for Chicago real estate brokers. My name is DJ Paris, I am your host. And I wanted to make a few quick announcements before we get into our great interview coming up with a podcaster himself landlording for life host, Sean Morrissey. So a few quick announcements. First of all, thank you, again, for continuing to listen and support the show our numbers are continuing to improve, I think we’re up. I forget, I think about 60%, even over last month as far as number of listeners, which is very exciting to us. The other thing I want to mention, and this is easy for, for me to forget about because I do every episode, but we have new listeners that every single time we post an episode find out about the show for the first time. And I want you to know that we have all together if this is your first time listening or one of your first times listening that we have about 55 episodes already done. And I don’t want to lose sight of that. Because what we’re trying to do is not just continually put out new content, which of course we do a couple times a week. But we want to make sure that you know that what we’re trying to do is create a library of content. You know, the whole idea of this podcast was to get in front of these top 1% producers and say, What are you doing? How are you building your business. And when we’ve done that, we’re going to continue to do that. But don’t lose sight, you can go backward. I mean, we’ve not even been doing this podcast, I think not even eight months, and we already have 55 or 56 episodes. So go back listen to some of the older shows. They’re not that old. And they’re super relevant. And what we’re trying to do is build this library so that any broker who wants to learn how to grow their business can just start listening to some of these masters and of course, learn from them. So please go back. And listen. Also, please tell a friend, we have another new speaker that’s coming a monthly feature. I’ve been talking about it for a few weeks, but it’s finally happening. And it took a while while a master trainer is going to be doing a monthly show with us. And I won’t mention exactly where she’s from just yet one of the top training companies, maybe the top training company in the real estate world, so that’s very exciting. And she only works with top producers as well. So we’re gonna get her on the show and have her tell you what she’s telling top producers to do. So other than that, please keep supporting us again, tell every other realtor that you know if who’s interested in learning what top producers do Oh, one last thing we have been so we’re so grateful because we have been getting so many suggestions from our listeners of who to interview going forward. And I’m not kidding in this is not an exaggeration. We have at least 40 suggestions in our email right now that producer Jen is having to sift through and while we are so grateful and every time I did the intro to an episode I’d say send us your suggestions. I feel bad because we now have too many and we can’t even get to the ones that we have. So please do keep sending them in but realize we have a backlog now which is a good problem to have but still a problem and I don’t want anyone to feel what they wrote in and we weren’t able to get back to them or that we didn’t choose who they recommended we probably will choose them we just haven’t gotten to it yet. So if we haven’t replied back to you it’s only because we’re super busy but again how lucky are we that people are so wanting to hear those episodes you know in the future so be on the lookout for that so thank you for so suggestions but follow us on Facebook you can look us up keeping it real pod also our website keeping it real pod.com Okay, on to our interview with Sean Morrissey.
Okay, today on the show we have Sean Morrissey from Chicago land Realty Group partners where he is the managing broker and owner he has also shown has also been a landlord. for over 15 years he has been a real estate broker for 11 years and the owner of Chicagoland Realty Group partners for six years, where he specifically and individually has closed over 500 transactions, which is no small feat. Shawn has managed a portfolio of 200 plus properties. He himself owns 39 units in the western suburbs in the Chicagoland market, and is also a member of National Association of Residential Property managers and National Association of REALTORS Institute of real estate management while hosting designations recognized by these organizations. Shawn also hosts a weekly podcast called landlording for life if you can listen to landlording for life at landlording for life.com Welcome Shawn to the show.
Sean Morrissey 4:51
Yeah, thanks so much for having me.
D.J. Paris 4:53
I’m so excited we were just talking off before we started recording about how this is so great for me because I feel like I will, I won’t have to work as hard because you’re a podcaster you already know how to be interesting. So there’s no pressure. But I’m gonna basically take a backseat and just kind of let you drive on this one. That sounds good. Well, tell us a little bit about your journey to real estate. How’d you get started? And how’d you get to where you are now?
Sean Morrissey 5:21
Well, yeah, so I guess, in some respects, the dramatic story is that, you know, back in, it was really 2001. My dad took me out to dinner one night, and he was like, Shawn, I want to, you know, teach you kind of the basics of using investment, real estate to shelter, taxable income, right? So, you know, we had a discussion about it, it was over my head at the time didn’t quite understand, you know, what the point was, but after reading a couple books, and, you know, probably like so many are listeners reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad, which really helps you sure, you know, wrap your mind around a certain type of mindset. I bought my first rental property back in 2003. And from there, bought a few more, decided to get my real estate license in late 2006, hung it with a Keller Williams brokerage in St. Charles Illinois area in early 2007. And really started to learn the ropes of agency at the time in which the market crashed, which is pretty much the worst time right?
D.J. Paris 6:21
To start getting into residential. Yeah,
Sean Morrissey 6:25
but I’ll tell you what, it ended up being a blessing in disguise, because ultimately, you know, folks that weren’t able to sell their home or, you know, ultimately bring funds to the closing table because they were underwater. Really, my my residential rental experience, and being part of some different real estate investment organizations gave me the benefit to really kind of take a different take on market, we rented a lot of homes, really, from 2007 to 2010, with the occasional short sale, but that was kind of my niche was the rental market. And that ultimately led to starting to manage properties in 2010. By Yeah,
D.J. Paris 7:05
yeah, that’s, that’s I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt you, as you say, that seems like a very natural transition. Because I know at our firm, we have hundreds of brokers, and it’s not uncommon for a broker to all of a sudden, who is working either with investors or or even just owners that are running out their properties to all of a sudden go, Hey, maybe I should start doing the management on this. So I imagine that happened with you as well.
Sean Morrissey 7:27
Yeah, that’s that’s exactly what happened. And you know, like, you know, probably so many of your listeners have seen as well. You know, some brokerages love property management, some not so much. And and really what it comes down to is liability and making sure you have the proper Eno insurance in place. So, you know, by October 2011, you know, it just didn’t make sense for me to maintain Property Management at this at this brokerage. So I ultimately opened up my own shop in October 2011. And, you know, that kind of led to all sorts of opportunities when it comes to property management and building my investment portfolio.
D.J. Paris 8:03
Yeah, and, you know, we should really point out the different hats that you do wear and because I think these are a lot of really challenging hats, but you seem to do it. Well. Number one, you’re you’re you’re a managing broker owner. So you run, you know, a traditional firm, number two, you have a property management arm of the firm, is your managing units for for investors. And number three, you’re also an investor yourself, right? So there’s Gosh, and there’s and you’re also managing this agents, right. So it’s, there’s a lot going on. And I just I applaud you for being able to do all of that. Well, thanks. Yeah, let’s talk about your podcast to tell us about landlording for life.
Sean Morrissey 8:44
Yeah, so really, the the purpose behind landlording for life is to is to target you know, entry, real estate investors and landlords that may have a few units under their belt, and provide them with some tools they can use either on a day to day basis, or take some of the stories from, you know, local landlords or those, you know, really throughout the country, I suppose, at this point that can help them and, you know, streamlining their processes or improving their processes. So, yeah, it tends to be a fun project for me and educational for most folks, at least, from the feedback I’ve received thus far. So fun stuff. Yeah, it’s
D.J. Paris 9:19
no, it’s great. And I think too, I’ve always thought you know, even just getting landlords together so they can vent about all their all the different challenges associated with with property management is, you know, it’d be big for some pretty interesting stories. Yeah, does. We do a with our own brokers here where like once a month, we have this called investor roundtable, and it’s just all the brokers that do either work with investors or their investors themselves, and that tends to be property management stuff as well. And they’ll just come in and sit down together and talk about you know, some of the some of the challenges and also opportunities along the way. Tell us a little bit about you know, the investment side of Your business sort of, you know, you talked about how you got started with your father introducing you to Kiyosaki and the sort of sheltering some some income tax wise, and also the residual income that you’re getting from the buy and hold side. Were you always a buy and hold person or investor rather? Or were you flipping at one point or doing both?
Sean Morrissey 10:19
Yeah, always a buy and hold investor. You know, I’m, you know, it’s not it’s not sexy, right? I mean, you’re basically buying a property, ideally, using, you know, what would be called the burr method, right, buy rehab, refinance, and repeat. And that’s, that’s really all there is to it is, you know, buy something that that needs value added to it, ultimately rent it out. So you’ve got a spread there, and what you’re making some money, and then, you know, refinance that property, so you can take out the proceeds to buy another property and do it again. And that’s, that’s really my philosophy, you know, as I’ve evolved over the years, and, you know, really have become a podcast junkie, over the course of time, you know, I’ve been one that ultimately tends to respect, multifamily is the way to go in terms of long term buy and hold and generating monthly income. But even as an agent, and you know, we kind of mentioned this before the show, but you know, I tend to be the kind of individual that leads with being a real estate investor first, and then follow it up with being an agent. Second, because at the end of the day, you know, my philosophy tends to be that real estate agencies more of a job, right, you’re creating that passive income as an investor really tends to be, you know, the way where I tend to find, you know, my own personal sense of financial freedom over the course of time. So that’s, you know, ultimately kind of where I’m, I’m trying to head to long term in terms of in terms of goals, I suppose.
D.J. Paris 11:48
Yeah. And just to unpack that a little for listeners, what I what I think in Shawn can correct me if I’m, if I miss missing, what I think he’s saying is, hey, as a as a realtor, doing traditional realtor stuff, working with clients, buyers and sellers, you’re, you’re pretty much transactional. So you know, you’re closing deals, you’re getting paid, and then it’s on to the on to the next paycheck. But what you’re not getting is is residual income. And like finance, the financial advising industry, about 15 years ago saw that sort of being a stockbroker getting paid a commission on on a stock trade was was, of course transactional, but much more lucrative to start taking a percentage, charging a percentage of, you know, someone’s assets under management. And so what Sean’s done very, very, sort of very well, but also sort of impressively is created his own residual income, buy these buy and hold investments.
Sean Morrissey 12:45
Yeah, and what’s what’s funny is, you know, eight years ago, when we got the property management going, we’re in essence, a third party property manager. Now, what we’re working, what we’re working to evolve into, frankly, because part of it well, let me let me take a step back, what are the struggle with being a third party property manager is, you know, you’re you’re stuck in the middle between a tenant that wants everything fixed right away, right. And a landlord, that tends to be, you know, for lack of a better word, too cheap to want to fix anything. So you’re always getting pulled one way or the other in regards to either party. So in the long run, what you want to do in my opinion, is if you can eliminate that landlord piece of things, right, by buying your own inventory, and making your own decisions as your own landlord, it makes your life a heck of a lot easier. And, you know, in my case, fortunately, I’ve already managed a big enough portfolio where I know how to scale that property management, which, which, you know, frankly, is the trickiest part, you’ve got to have systems in place if you want to, if you want to scale your inventory. So doing that is, you know, either going to take your time, or ultimately hire a third property property manager that’s already doing it. But that’s, you know, ultimately what I’m working towards, so that we basically have our own in house property management for our own inventory. And, you know, it’ll create that residual income over time. Yeah, and
D.J. Paris 14:02
this way, the only owner you’re fighting with is yourself. So you know, let’s, let’s challenges with that. So, tell us about it. And you know, and I don’t know that you have a goal in place, specifically for like, number of units you want to own and manage that or cell phone, you know, self manage, I guess, is that is there a number in place as far as how many you buy on an annual basis? Or just number of units by a certain time? Or do you not really think that way?
Sean Morrissey 14:31
Well, it’s funny, I’m actually sitting right in front of my goal board right now at my desk. And what I had written on our, you know, as a 2018 goal is to get up to 50 units. I think, personally, we could probably get up to 60 units by the end of the year. And then ultimately, you know, long term let’s just say over the next three to five years, I think if we were at 100 units that would cover not only all of our operational expense, but would also put me in a position and and my staff in a position where we can operate pretty smoothly. And again, getting back to the whole third party property management stuff. Now, I’m not gonna throw it under the bus too much. But sure, you know, at the end of the day, you know what, like I mentioned, you’ve got the the landlord tenant struggles and trying to keep both parties happy. But at the same time, too, at any time, depending on how your management agreement is written. But in any time, that landlord can say, hey, I want to pick up a new property manager, and you’re fired. So that’s another challenge. So when you own your own inventory, right, at the end of the day, no one can ever fire you, unless you stop paying the bank for that. Right. So Siena, it’s just, it’s one of those things where, you know, I think for anybody, it takes time, but that’s it’s kind of where we’re headed. And you know, where my thought process is, in regards to where I want to take my real estate business, not clearly towards the investment side, but more of a safe, self sustainability type of setting.
D.J. Paris 15:53
Ya know, that makes all the sense in the world. One, I wanted to get into this particular victory that you just had in the past month or so where you picked up a 16 unit building, and you were looking to get financing, maybe even bring in some partners. And then, you know, you were able to say, you know, actually I can do this all myself. Do you mind telling us that story?
Sean Morrissey 16:15
Yeah, absolutely. So it’s, it’s kind of a fun story. Because, really, because this property was off market.
D.J. Paris 16:23
Yeah, yeah, let’s, let’s talk about I’m sorry, I don’t mean to give away any of your secret sauce. So feel free to reveal as much or as little as you’d like, tell us how you locate or rather how you got interest from this off market property? How did you get how did you capture their attention?
Sean Morrissey 16:38
Oh, absolutely. I’m happy to share. So yeah, ultimately, last fall, we started off really a postcard campaign. And, you know, it’s, it’s fairly simple. It’s a, you know, decent looking postcard not too big, just kind of standard size, what is that four by six. And it basically just says, We want to buy your multifamily building, right. And then we had a targeted list of folks in our local area, we mailed them, I want to say it was every other week for about three months. And in early October, I got a call from this gentleman, and he said, Hey, listen, I’m doing a 1031 exchange, I’m trying to buy some retail space in the city of Chicago, and I need to get this this building sold. So you know, I met him out there took a look at the building, he gave me the numbers and reviewed them. And my initial intent was to have a group of investors in California purchase that building. Sure, is you may have noticed, you know, California real estate prices are so overinflated that they can’t make money in rental real estate out there. So for lack of a better word, they come to the Midwest, or these particular gentlemen did in order to, to make a buck. So, you know, brought the project to them, they ultimately got cold feet, I ended up bringing it to another set of investors, which was which is actually I thought the perfect type, it was a former corporate executive for, you know, a major apartment chain, who did a lot of due diligence when it came to that apartment, purchasing new buildings. So he headed up the group and it was a team of attorneys, and they just couldn’t pull the trigger fast enough, they didn’t have their paperwork together, they weren’t ready to go. So you know, when push came to shove based on the motivations of the seller, because he had to meet the time frame, it’s a 1031 exchange, which really gave, you know us or myself as the buyer and opportunity to say, Hey, listen, he’s got to meet his timeframe or his deals not going to come together. So he’ll give me a good deal on price. And he’ll give me you know, credits to make some improvements to the building. You know, I ultimately was like, I’m gonna find a way to make this happen. And, you know, fortunately, it all came together, we closed about a month ago. And after, you know, some back and forth, you know, the building ultimately came back at like a 10.5% cap rate. I was able, yeah, so great numbers. And you know, if you’re familiar with cap rates in the Chicagoland area, and then, you know, boy, we ended up getting a $31,000 credit at closing, just for some cosmetic repairs. So, you know, pretty exciting stuff. And, you know, it was all thanks to the fact that there was a 1031 exchange that was involved. So you know, for those folks that are investors out there, targeting folks that are looking at doing a 1031 exchange in this fantastic market where everybody’s making money, you may be able to find an opportunity there. It’s just it’s just targeting those 1031 investors that No, I haven’t quite found a perfect opportunity to say, Hey, this is where I find them. But you know, it might be just building a relationship with a local intermediary, you know, a title company, something of that nature.
D.J. Paris 19:36
Yeah, it’s so interesting. I know at the owner of our company, he’s been a real estate investor for a long time similar to suit to yourself with respect to how the types of buildings he picks up, as well as how he picks them up. He does a lot of postcard. He makes a lot of phone calls. He sees a for rent sign. He picks up the phone and calls and says can I talk to the owner by any chance? Yeah, hey, would you ever be interested in settling right so That’s exactly what you did, except I wanted to point out that and whether somebody’s in a more traditional realtor who’s just, you know, working their sphere of influence to try to get buyers and sellers or somebody who’s looking for off market properties as an investor, or on behalf of an investor looking for off market properties, you know, sending one postcard likely isn’t going to be super successful. I like that you did every other week for months. And then you know, repetition, you know, they say is the mother of skill and you once in a while, get those kinds of phone calls and how fortunate to and I also don’t want to gloss over in case this was missed by the listeners, like Sean was able to do this entirely himself without investors, which is an incredible feat. So congrats on that, and that that brings you up to what about 4040 units right now all together,
Sean Morrissey 20:46
yet, yet, technically 39. But we’re going to hit up a sheriff sale next week, and hopefully pick up our 40th. So fingers crossed.
D.J. Paris 20:54
Now I know that you are obviously a very like a voracious reader, and you absorb a lot of information, going all the way back to you know, reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad. But tell us Do you have recommendations, book recommendations or course recommendations for brokers that are interested in learning about sort of the residual side of real estate and you know, this case, maybe buy and hold investing or working with investors?
Sean Morrissey 21:20
I’ll tell you what, there was a gentleman we just recently interviewed on our own podcast by the name of Paul Moore, and he wrote a book called The perfect investment. And really what it’s all stemming down to, is why multifamily apartment investing tends to be the perfect investment. And he goes into his own story and ultimately goes into some details in regards to, you know, multifamily versus other assets. But I would probably say that would be a good read for most folks. Another book that I’ve come to love a lot over the last 12 months, which really isn’t real estate related, but is wealth building related. It’s by a gentleman by the name of Garrett Gunderson out of Salt Lake City, and the books called What would the Rockefellers do? And it’s a great book and understanding generational wealth. Really, what he does is he compares the Rockefellers to the Vanderbilts. And what went wrong with the Vanderbilts from one generation to the next. And that one’s that one’s that one solid.
D.J. Paris 22:17
That No, that’s great. And also tell us I know you had you had mentioned this off before, we will actually with with our producer, about an eviction story that you thought was was worth sharing. Can you tell us a little bit about the Bolingbrook eviction?
Sean Morrissey 22:33
Yes. So this goes back about five years ago, but in terms of a story that’s fairly amusing, in our office only had five evictions in like six years, right. So we always did a good job of screening folks. But what happened in this case, is we found a tenant for like a $2,500 rental property right in Bolingbrook. And the landlord who lived in Philadelphia happened to be in that weekend, and the tenant was you know, getting ready to move in and you know, landlord was at the house and the tenant said well, I’ve got your deposit and rent right here in the form of a personal check. And naturally the landlord took that check against our advice deposit of that check after he gave the tenant the keys to the house. And sure enough that check bounced and unfortunately, Weld County in Weld County it took it took some months to get them out of there but when we finally did get them out of there, they were literally moving out the day that the sheriff showed up the Will County Sheriff Sheriff knocks on the door you know, gets inside walks through, you know, gives the tenants time to get items in there, their giant U haul and as the tenants are pulling out of the property and mind you these were these were bad people like there was nothing that we liked about these individuals. They knew what they were doing all along and ripping this landlord off of course Anyways, long story short you halls back and out of the driveway, it hits the sheriff’s car. No and the sheriff naturally goes ballistic on these two people. And we’re sitting there and you know, softly chuckling because we’re just like man karma karma came full circle that day for these folks and you know, make a long story short, it was an eviction made memorable because the the tenant hit the sheriff’s car on the way out the door and it’s it’s one of those it’ll stay engraved in my mind for some years.
D.J. Paris 24:25
That’s yeah, that’s great. What were were they up to any nefarious activity inside the unit over the or just looking for a free place to stay for a while
Sean Morrissey 24:33
looking for a free place to stay and And ironically, you know, about four years later, they applied on another another one of our rental properties and that seemed vicinity and I was like, boy, I remember this name. I can’t remember why and we’re gonna have to a little bit of digging, I’m like, oh, it’s these people. And you know, once you make an act like that, and it hits your credit report, you get the judgment against them and the whole bit you’re, you’re kind of up a creek for Some years so, you know, don’t don’t, don’t not pay your rent on purpose, it’s going to come back to bite you in the long run.
D.J. Paris 25:10
It’s a little it’s a, it’s at best a, a short term solution to a much, much bigger problem, you can get a couple of months of three runs. Yeah, you know, might might work for a few funds, but thankfully, I mean, you know, it seems like you guys don’t, with you, your Property Management site, and also your own investments, you know, I haven’t had to deal with too much of that. So that’s, that’s that’s, do you know, do you specifically look as an investor? Do you specifically look for multi units that are more on the inexpensive side for rent? or moderate or higher end? What what’s, what’s your sort of niche?
Sean Morrissey 25:47
Now? That’s, that’s a great question. So you know, the way the way you kind of break down the multifamily community is, you know, either a Class B Class C class, or D, right. And, you know, clearly D is like crime ridden area you want to stay out of a is like developer comes into a neighborhood and builds brand new property. B is something you know, built in the 80s, or 90s. C tends to be something built, let’s say, in the 60s, or 70s. So we tend to focus on investment properties that will survive any market, right, in order to in order to sustain cashflow over time. So really, what we’re looking at is C class and potentially B, because over time, a class becomes B, and B becomes C, and you hope C doesn’t become D, you know, that all depends on the neighborhood and all that all that jazz. So having said all that, we tend to focus on BNC, because they don’t build those anymore, and they tend to be affordable, and they tend to survive any market because folks need a place to live. So that tends to be the the investment philosophy of these, this this day and age.
D.J. Paris 26:51
Yeah, that’s, that’s really helpful and useful. And again, if you know Shawn hosts a weekly podcast, where he’s talking about, specifically property management, but also I imagine you talk about investment, the investment side as well, it’s because they’re they’re so intertwined. And his podcast is landlording for life, and you can visit them there on iTunes. And of course, everywhere else podcasts are served up, but landlording for life.com. You can stream episodes directly from there, and they’re also on SoundCloud and pretty much everywhere. And also when it when a plug Shawn’s website for his brokerage firm, which is Chicago hyphen, Realty hyphen, group.com. You can also stream episodes for the podcast there and see everything that Shawn is up to with respect to his brokerage firm. And, Shawn, if so, if there are any, you know, I know you work with buyers, sellers, also investors. If there is anyone out there that really wants to work with you and your company, what’s what’s sort of the best way for them to reach out to you?
Sean Morrissey 27:48
Well, they can certainly give us a call, phone number would be 630-423-6027. Give us a call at that number. Or you can always shoot me an email. It’s basically my name is Sean S E A N, R for Richard and then more si M as in Mary, o r r i s email@example.com.
D.J. Paris 28:07
And one last question I wanted to ask you because you do so many different things in real estate. What would you recommend to traditional realtors who are working again transactionally working with buyers and sellers? As far as what would you encourage them to do? As far as starting to learn about the investment side or property management side?
Sean Morrissey 28:28
Well, I would certainly say You know, if you haven’t read Rich Dad, Poor Dad, you got to start there. Because that’ll create a mindset that once you read it through thoroughly, there’s no going back and your your mind will be changed. From there. I’d say Get involved in your local RIA clubs be at your real estate investment associations and you know, they’re in there in every neighborhood this day and age, right, every major metropolitan area for sure. Yes. And, you know, certainly you can reach out to me through our website, if you have any questions. Also, you know, I’ve I’ve become a podcast junkie, because there’s just so much information out there, you know, not only on your fine podcast, but you know, there’s so many different real estate investment podcasts where you can get different ideas this day and age, I would certainly say that’s a good way to go, especially when you’re driving clients around in cars, or you’re waiting on OMA to to show up at that next appointment. Certainly have a podcast going and feed your mind. Agreed.
D.J. Paris 29:19
Well, Shawn, this has been so we’re so gracious and grateful that you’ve been on the show. And by the way, this is not Sean’s first. Obviously he is a podcaster. He has also been on a podcast as a guest before so we really appreciate you coming on our show. And yeah, you know, again, go to landlording for life.com. To listen to his podcast, go to Chicago hyphen Realty hyphen, group.com. To learn about the brokerage side of what Shawn does, and, you know, get in touch with him. He is he’s definitely an expert in a lot of things real estate. So that’s very, very impressive to us and and also to our listeners. So Sean, thank you so much for being on the show.
Sean Morrissey 29:57
Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me on.