From canonical poets and renowned geniuses to modern-day millionaires, there are few success stories in history who fail to acknowledge the massive, intrinsic value of expert guidance on the way to success. Ralph Waldo Emerson said of the concept of mentoring, “Our chief want in life is somebody who will make us do what we can.” Isaac Newton credited his own genius to the guidance of those who mentored him: “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” The famous author of the simplest two rules for success in business, “Never lose money” and “Never forget rule number one,” Warren Buffet, has said of coaching simply, “It is better to hang out with people better than you…and you’ll drift in that direction.” The value of mentoring in general and of real estate guidance in particular has been proven time and again.
However, in our real estate industry specifically, the concept of coaching has deteriorated over time. Real estate investors are often reluctant to seek out the expert education and mentoring that they need in order to excel as quickly and profitably as possible in this business. To counter that trend and provide truly valuable, actionable education from certifiably successful real estate investors who both “can do” and “can teach,” Think Realty has begun assembling a powerful faculty of educators, the Think Realty Resident Experts, who offer guidance and insight to Think Realty members.
This past April, the organization debuted its first quartet of certified Think Realty Resident Experts at the Think Realty National Conference and Expo in Dallas, Texas. These experts each created a series of training videos and provided hours of on-site training, insight, and advice at the expo itself. Each Resident Expert has a designated specialty derived from their personal experience in real estate and passion for the topic. Eddie Wilson, “The Deal Maker” and also president of Think Realty, Sonia Booker, “The Wealth Builder” and passionate women’s advocate in the industry, Tameka Bryant, “The Closer” and long-time educator with the Think Realty organization, and Abhi Golhar, “The Connector” and national real estate personality, comprise Think Realty’s founding team.
Eddie Wilson, The Deal Maker
Title and affiliations: Think Realty Resident Expert, President of Think Realty parent company Affinity Worldwide, founder of Go Media, executive director of Christian Media International.
Experience: Private lending, commercial and residential development, lead generation, team-building, and joint ventures.
Background Check: Eddie Wilson is a third-generation real estate investor with a keen eye for good uses for capital and profitable, creative opportunities. “My grandparents and parents are real estate investors, and I got started myself in my own hometown of Portage County, Ohio, when I saw a real need for a specific type of housing that was not being met. The medical student population in the area was desperately seeking housing appropriate for that age and career demographic and, at the time, there simply were more students than housing,” he recalled, adding that his father mentored him on this first project and the two worked closely throughout. “That just emphasized for me, from the very beginning, how very important expert mentorship can be for a new investor,” he said. Wilson immediately bought up as many of the “little two-bedroom, single-story properties” he could get his hands on in the area, got the funding for his project in hand, and went to work.
“We tore them all down,” he laughed, “but that land wasn’t empty long. We started building town-home style duplexes, which is what the market really needed, and we went after the student housing opportunity in that marketplace. There was a massive gap there and, as a result, a big opportunity in a stagnant sector of the market.” Wilson’s keen eye and ability to manage and motivate large teams led to the huge success of his developments. “I still have dozens of units serving that area today, and that project helped me leverage into other opportunities from that point,” he said.
Leverage he did. Wilson’s stated goal to “never pick up a hammer or saw” has not prevented him from flipping more than 100 houses in a single year, investing in multifamily properties in extremely hot markets like San Diego, California, and generating thousands of off-market leads for his real estate investing teams around the country. “These days, I find myself lending more than anything,” he noted, adding that his ability to create mutually beneficial opportunities for himself and others (hence the “Deal Maker” moniker) has always served him well in terms of productive, profitable expansion and growth. “But everything came from that foundational point, those brand-new student housing units I created that targeted the opportunity in that market,” he emphasized. “My goal is to help other investors identify, implement, and then leverage their foundations in the business as well.”
Eddie Wilson on “Understanding the Opportunity”: “To me, everything goes back to opportunity. I think it’s crucial to understand current market trends in order to offer the people who work with you the clearest vision of what they stand to gain from doing a deal with you or undertaking a project together.
“That mutually beneficial relationship is why I feel that private lenders are so incredibly vital to the real estate space. I know a lot of private lenders who do not even think of themselves as real estate investors because our industry has historically focused on the ‘active’ side of those partnerships and characterized the lenders generally as ‘just money.’ Maybe they are important, but often they do not have a real ‘face’ in the industry consciousness. In reality, a private lender is not only critical to the success of a deal, but they are a real estate investor in the truest sense of the word – or they should be – because their loan must be based on the value of the collateral, that piece of real estate or that development project in nearly all cases.
“Investors on both sides of the equation will be most likely to succeed, to do those foundational deals that change their lives and investing careers completely and for the better, if they have a solid understanding of the private lending process. My 12-part series for Think Realty on finding private capital keeps comprehension of the process at the forefront from beginning to end, and I’m uniquely positioned to teach on this topic because I live on both sides of it. I’m a real estate investor who develops land and initiates projects and I’m also a private lender who finances other investors’ deals and projects. Whether you need private capital or you need to deploy private capital, I can tell you where to go and how to do it effectively and profitably.”
Resident Expert Program: Eddie Wilson’s program can be accessed here.
Sonia Booker, The Wealth Builder
Title and affiliations: Think Realty Resident Expert, Think Realty Woman to Watch in Real Estate in 2017, Wealth-builder, Thought-leader, Entrepreneur, Real Estate Investor, O Magazine trailblazer, founder and CEO at Sonia Booker Enterprises.
Experience: Commercial and residential real estate development, signature guidance for serious beginning investors, radio host, best-selling author, founder of iBuildWealth Workshops and Everything Real Estate Conference and Expo.
Background Check: Sonia Booker has been an active real estate investor for more than two decades and has the development and management of more than $50 million in real estate assets, among them apartment buildings, condominiums, small hotels, and residential real estate, under her belt. “I did it all,” she laughed about her start in real estate, and that has not changed much since the beginning. These days, she spends her time expanding and maintaining a massive investment portfolio and nurturing a growing community of young real estate investors through her many media outlets, including radio shows, YouTube instructional videos, on-site trainings, and, most recently, her presence as a Think Realty Resident Expert.
“There are so many facets to real estate investing, and you have to find the one that fits your goals, your budget, and your lifestyle,” she said. “It’s about putting together the perfect plan.” Teaching is nothing new for Booker, who used to host free educational events in the living rooms of her investment properties where she taught others, mainly women, about how to successfully get involved in real estate investing. “I have always felt like investors accomplish more as a team,” she explained, noting that one of her first partnerships, a longstanding relationship with Atlanta real estate pioneer Herman J. Russell of H.J. Russell & Company, was a foundational experience in her own investing career that ultimately lasted more than a decade. “I worked with Mr. Russell until almost 2014, always also doing books and renovations,” she recalled. To her, this experience highlights the importance of working with experienced investors who are skilled in setting good goals for their mentees.
“Working with Mr. Russell was such a breakthrough because I got to do all kinds of things that I’d never dreamed of doing,” she said. “I learned then that the key to forging successful partnerships and getting your feet wet in this industry is to really show that you have some skin in the game and that you are willing to give whatever you do have to offer to a partnership.” These days, Booker takes that attitude to the front and center of her own real estate investing, working hard to incorporate new investors and often female investors into her deals and opportunities. “You have to remember that real estate is a great wealth equalizer,” she explained. “It doesn’t require any degrees, and we all have the same leverage when it comes to real estate. You just have to get the knowledge and you can be successful.”
Sonia Booker on “Your Wealth-Building Legacy”: “What I’ve realized over my years in real estate is that everyone has a path for how they find a property, the secret to finding a deal, etc. Uncovering that secret for yourself is really the key: you have to be willing to build the legacy, to uncover the secret, to find your path to the deal, or you will fail. I have seen so much failure and frustration in this business, and it doesn’t have to be that way if new investors will just take a few minutes on the front end to really map things out!
“My ‘title’ really says it all: to me, real estate investing is a wealth-building movement. It’s not the only wealth-building vehicle out there, but I happen to think that it is certainly one of the better ones. The Think Realty Resident Expert program allows you to really get depth, understanding, and solid information. Part of my agreement with the organization was to make a solid commitment to providing information and really good tools for real estate investors to use to build their personal legacies. Tools that they won’t get hurt using, that will help them build generational wealth through real estate.
“And here’s the thing about the Think Realty Resident Expert program. Just as real estate investing should be a constant wealth-building, legacy-building process, we, as Resident Experts, are constantly building the program out as well. It’s a continuously-growing library. For example, my content is based around planning, setting goals, really understanding what you’re doing, whether you’re locating a property or finding a really solid tenant. When most people think about real estate investing, they think of it in terms of goals – putting a kid through college or security in retirement. When you are finding properties that fit your ultimate goals, it’s fun, and real estate investing should be fun. I’m crazy like that!”
Resident Expert Program: Sonia Booker’s program can be found here.
Abhi Golhar, The Connector
Title and affiliations: Think Realty Resident Expert, host of Real Estate Deal Talk, single- and multifamily real estate investor, real estate developer, private lender, managing partner at Summit & Crowne.
Experience: Managing partner at Summit & Crowne private equity firm since 2008, new construction, single- and multifamily real estate, development, lending, communications and networking, podcasting, video, real estate promotions.
Background Check: When Abhi Golhar graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in engineering and electrical engineering, he knew that he was always going to be more about education than money. “The crucial key in anything, including real estate investing, is getting your mindset right,” he explained. “Every investor is different. Everybody has a different fingerprint and everybody has a different mindset about success, real estate, and life. Understand who you are and what you’re about, and you’ll have the success you seek.”
For Golhar, that success turned out to lie in his passion for education, which made him ideal for the Think Realty Resident Expert program because it heavily emphasizes the importance of affordable, accessible education in the real estate investing space. Golhar has hosted his radio show and podcast, “Real Estate Deal Talk,” with that philosophy in mind for years. “I built RE Deal Talk to provide good information about markets and strategies that you can execute today, and the best part is that it’s free,” he said. “There are so many good sources of information out there. Spend a little time online and get in touch with a mentor to guide you. Then, invest some of the money you saved in real estate and take control of your finances and your future!”
For Golhar, whose niche in the Think Realty program will focus on wholesaling, that passion for accessibility and education makes his initial Think Realty Resident Expert Series particularly appropriate. Wholesaling is the process of getting properties under contract and then selling that contract to another buyer and charge a fee, and it is often the “entry point” for new investors because it requires little or even no investment capital in order to get started. Golhar is an avid, adept networker, something crucial for new investors hoping to get started in the business. “No matter what else you are doing, you always are creating your network,” he advised. “That is as key to planning for the future and planning for market corrections (which are great times for real estate investors) as is saving some of the capital that you generate wholesaling so that when the market does change, you have the contacts and the wherewithal to take advantage of that shift.”
Abhi Golhar on “The Wholesaling Mindset”: “Step number one to getting started in real estate is simple: understand yourself. Your eventual success in real estate depends on that. Here’s an example: Do you like watching ‘Lost’ or do you like watching ‘Wheel of Fortune’ on television? Your answer indicates which one of two totally different mindsets applies to you.
“If you like ‘Wheel of Fortune’, you like the time-tested models. You know what is going to happen, and while there may be a few complications, you know you’re generally going to get a good show and be pleased at the end of it. Wholesaling is great for this type of mindset because at the end of the day, it’s a ‘numbers play’ and if you keep your emotions out of it and have good advice and a solid set of contracts on your side, you may have a few complications but usually things are going to go basically according to a predetermined plan.
“On the other hand, if you like ‘Lost’, you may be a little bit more aggressive and spontaneous, which is right up my alley! Wholesaling can put you in a position where you have the capital to indulge that mindset and get involved in bigger projects and more diverse types of investing relatively quickly. Understanding this about yourself will help keep you focused on your goals in real estate as you get started.
“This is why I’m so passionate about wholesaling: it is a really good way to learn the real estate investing business. It offers a good number of exit strategies. It is a great way to have significantly lower financial risk than a lot of other strategies like flipping, renting, turnkey investing, and commercial investing. You don’t have to take on debt, and most importantly, as markets change it continues to offer a really wonderful, accessible way for you to enter real estate investing, get your mindset right, learn the vocabulary, and build the capital necessary to move into other aspects of the business if you wish to do so.”
Resident Expert Program: Learn more about Abhi Golhar’s program here.
Tameka Bryant, The Closer
Title and affiliations: Think Realty Resident Expert, President of Think Realty Real Estate Services, BDA.
Experience: More than 25 years in real estate investing. 2011 Realtor® of the Year, MLS President, Kansas City, Missouri, nationally accredited instructor for the National Association of Realtors®, Freddie Mac Master Listing Agent, real estate portfolio manager for federal and local banks, licensed agent and broker in multiple states, more than 2,000 real estate transactions conducted personally.
Background Check: Tameka Bryant has been banking on real estate for years. In fact, she started out her investing story by admitting that she had always planned to start a real estate brokerage as her “second career.” She and her husband said from the beginning that they would buy a single house a year and rent it out so that they would have a solid retirement and a lasting legacy for their son. “We took the money from our wedding and we put it on a down payment in New Mexico,” Bryant said, noting that she and her family lived in New York at the time and that she and her husband both were working in high-ranking management positions at their respective firms.
Bryant intended to wait a few decades to get into real estate full-time, but the universe had other ideas. She and her husband both lost their jobs on the same day, their son’s birthday, and during one of her mother’s final visits to see the family before falling victim to cancer. “That was the day I realized I didn’t know what to do,” Bryant said honestly. It did not take her long to realize that real estate was the answer in more ways than one. “That happened in March 2004 and in May 2004 I started my own brokerage.” Bryant, her family, and their now-nine-property portfolio moved into real estate full-time and haven’t slowed down since.
“Fast forward to today: I have been Realtor® of the Year; I’ve been the first African-American MLS President in Kansas City, and I teach all over the country. My passion is teaching real estate investors, particularly agents and Realtors®, about the importance of finding a niche in which they can flourish. Too many agents go into one general pocket of business and never realize that there are so many other areas in real estate that would connect them with a better lifestyle for themselves and their families.”
For Bryant and the majority of her students, that niche is the “investor niche.” After fully immersing herself in the foreclosure side of the business through a contract with Freddie Mac, she realized just how vast the unexplored landscape in investor-agent relationships truly is. “I don’t think many people understand that they can sit and work with one investor who is going to buy 100 properties and that, as a result, will have 100 properties that they can list instead of going out and finding 100 people who want them to list their homes,” she explained, adding that there is a personal dimension to this as well: “100 different personalities [vs. one]? I’m going to take one every time!”
Tameka Bryant on “The Investor Side of the Homeownership Equation”: “As a Resident Expert for Think Realty, I really just want to bring to the table and show other real estate professionals the true importance of their work with and for real estate investors to the wider community. Working with investors means that you are helping communities. Done right, you are bringing in homeownership options. Not everyone can get approved at a bank, so private money, owner financing, rentals – all of those things are desperately needed and most cities will never be able to fully cover their own housing needs. Investors and the agents on their teams play a huge role in homeownership.
“The first step is helping an agent understand how important their role is to a real estate investor. The second is giving agents the tools that they need in order to provide that service successfully and effectively. Most companies do not teach agents how to work with investors at all, and as a result a lot of agents go years without working with – or even having the ability to work with – a real estate investor because they do not understand what the investor needs.
“What investors need from their real estate agent is help seeing the different ways that they can make or save money. That is what makes you valuable. Never forget that an investor can pretty much get themselves into a house on their own. What makes you truly valuable is shining a light on those paths to solid ROI.”
Resident Expert Program: Tameka Bryant’s program may be found here.
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