Ben Rao has spent two decades working in technology, real estate, and membership-based startups, all while overseeing and managing the rehab of more than 100 properties and the assembly and management of his investment portfolio.
Title and Affiliations:
Executive Vice President of Think Realty Benefits, Think Realty Resident Expert, Founder of Community Buying Group (CBG), Founder of RentFast, President of Direct Data Consulting, Inc., Senior Partner at the Summit Holding Group, former Senior Consultant & IBM eServer Solution Specialist, host of E2 Hustle podcast for entrepreneurs.
Think Realty Courses:
Building a Business – Investing in Real Estate
Buying Your Investment Property
Ben Rao has spent two decades working in technology, real estate, and membership-based startups, all while overseeing and managing the rehab of more than 100 properties and the assembly and management of his investment portfolio. In 2010, he founded Community Buying Goup (CBG), an internet community focused on helping real estate investors, property managers, and landlords save money, utilize technology to market rental properties, and exchange ideas.
Why He’s Here:
“At heart, I’m a visionary and a builder. The thing I enjoy most is building businesses. When you’re investing in real estate, building a business to support that process is crucial.” Rao’s philosophy on that building process is creative and expansive. As the newest member of the Think Realty Resident Expert team, he brings the tools and mindset that fuel his own profitable real estate deals.
“One of my favorite things in real estate is getting into a deal and finding out that it is an opportunity to be creative,” Rao said. “I love it when you are not just making good returns on a property, but you end up beautifying a property, adding value to the community, and doing something of more intrinsic value than fixing up and flipping alone. It’s exciting.
“In my first course, I talk about building a brand for yourself so that people understand not just that you’re a real estate investor but also that they can bring you deals and they know what you are working for. It’s so important for investors to build what I call ‘brand momentum’ so that people in the community recognize what the investor is doing. When that happens, your phone starts to ring. That’s key for any real estate business to succeed!
“My specialty is investing strategy and business startup strategy. My course helps students identify why they’re really investing in real estate so that they can achieve their goals quickly and effectively by getting their brand out there in the local market and then building from there. Since I have expertise in IT, we’ll also get into the details of managing your website, email automation, property management software, and more tools.”
Rao’s creative take on real estate, business, and technology has served him well over the years, helping him do numerous deals, assemble a solid investment portfolio and, perhaps the thing he’s proudest of, contributing to the formation of CBG, a thriving community of real estate investors working together to support each other’s businesses and their own.
“Building that community was about bringing together thousands of real estate investors all over the country to leverage their buying power,” Rao explained. “That community not only helped members save money on materials and appliances, it also provided access to ancillary products like signage, insurance, forms, business cards, and ways to market and merchandize their companies.
Rao has been creating communities for years, starting on what he calls “the ground level” of sharing information and then building upward from that point. He specializes in identifying where different members will be most productive within a group and in identifying where different strategies will be most effective in a master plan.
“If you put people in the right seat, so to speak, they have a much greater opportunity to be successful. They’re going to feel very natural about what they’re doing and be less likely to burn out,” he explained.
Rao’s keen eye for productive structure is one of the main reasons he has been able to successfully build and run multiple businesses simultaneously over the course of his career. “I spent years working with medium to large companies helping them leverage software and technology to streamline their processes to improve efficiency, sales production, and customer retention,” he observed.
Ben Rao on “Building Up Your Community”:
“I really enjoy getting into a real estate deal and finding out that it can be creative, taking something ugly and making it pretty, productive, and profitable. I’m deeply connected to my community, with dozens of residential projects and a few commercial ones as well, including an entrepreneurial incubator.
“There are so many good opportunities in every market to dig in and identify details about what is lacking in a community and understand its needs. That is how I realized that my area needed an entrepreneurial incubator. I’m filling a need that the city has and building a business that helps with something that I’m passionate about all while doing a real estate deal!
“Structuring this type of deal requires you to be creative and opens the door to all sorts of tax abatements, funding, and other incentives. You just have to realize that the city, including the local government, is not your enemy and the community will open doors for you to do more and more creative real estate.”
Ben Rao on “Improving an Investment”:
“I have never bought a property and then sold it to someone else without doing something to it and owning it for some period of time because I like deals where you figure out a way to do something really creative that allows you to make more money and is not standard. If you do it well, it contributes to building up your business.
“For example, when I find that a tenant is moving out, I start advertising right away for a new tenant. That’s not unusual, but I actually often get referrals for the next tenant from the current tenant! Even better, I may not have any vacancy in the residence at all because since the two tenants know each other, I can move the second one into the unit as-is and give them a credit for cleaning. Most people are going to clean anyway, so it’s a win-win. I save time and money, and they get to move in sooner and a credit for something they were going to do anyway.”
Check the Resident Experts page for Ben Rao’s latest course offerings and training from other TR Resident Experts here.