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  • What Does It Mean To Invest In Yourself With Accomplished Dr. Harry Nima Zegarra [EP098]
What Does It Mean To Invest In Yourself With Accomplished Dr. Harry Nima Zegarra [EP098]

April 26, 2022

What Does It Mean To Invest In Yourself With Accomplished Dr. Harry Nima Zegarra [EP098]

Do you feel like you're always behind on your finances? You're not alone. Most people feel like they don't have enough time to get ahead financially. That's where Harry comes in. He's a doctor who also specializes in helping people learn how to invest in themselves so they can get ahead financially. Harry follows the advice of Warren Buffet who says that "by far the best investment you can make is in yourself."

Imagine being able to take control of your own financial future and finally start getting ahead. Leverage Harry's knowledge. He'll teach you about real estate investing so you can finally start making progress towards your goals. Listen and learn!

Table of Contents:

Five-Step Process For Passively Investing In Real Estate
Five-Step Process For Passively Investing In Real Estate

How Harry and Darin Met

How Harry and Darin Met
Photographer: Chris Liverani | Source: Unsplash

Darin: Harry Nima Zegarra lives in the DFW area. He and his wife are both doctors. They knew they needed to take control of their finances, and he started to invest in residential homes. Harry wanted to find a way to go bigger and scale, which led him to multifamily investing. He's not only on a mission to educate himself, but also to educate others.

So just a little bit on how Harry and I know each other. We were both actually attending a free meetup here in the Dallas area put on by another fellow syndicator, Aaron Katz. I actually had him on the podcast episode 31. We just happen to sit next to each other, struck up a conversation, enjoyed each other's company. Then we decided to have a follow-up coffee meeting at another time and just enjoyed getting to know one another. Since then, Harry has been off to the races. So very interested to hear what he's got going on. With that, can you share a little bit about how many properties and how many units you're invested in?

Harry: Yes, Darin. Absolutely. So yes, no, thank you so much for the nice introduction. Yes, we have been about a year and a half, and we're very grateful. We are right now at 786 units in four different states.

Darin: Wow. So listeners, before we even get into this, this is an example, when we sat down next to each other, Harry had invested in single family. But had not invested in any multifamily, and that was, what'd you say? A year and a half ago or so?

Harry: Yes, almost a year and a half ago. That's correct. Yes.

A Humble Beginning

Darin: Then in that time, he's now invested in 786 units in four different states. That's pretty remarkable. So Harry, you are a doctor. Can you share with the listeners what type of physician practice you're in?

Harry: Actually, my wife and I, we’re both physicians. So my wife is a family medicine doctor and I'm a pulmonary and critical care. So I take care of the lungs and I take care of patients who are very sick in the hospital who are in the ICU, the intensive care unit.

Darin: So two doctors, so very highly educated family there. That's a lot of schooling. I just think of doctors as having a heart for serving others because that practice is all about helping other people. So you took that and then you started to get into real estate investing. Why did you get into real estate investing?

Harry: Yes. So we were very interested in real estate for a long, long time. Actually, that's also part of our background back in our country. Originally, my wife and I, we both are from Peru. We came from very humble beginnings and, actually, our generation is the first generation in our family who was able to get a degree. My cousins and I, were lawyers, CPAs, and I’m one of the first doctors in the family. So like mom, dad, and some uncles, they didn't have the opportunity to go to college. They worked very hard and they went into different endeavors and they did also real estate.

How Harry Got Into Real Estate

Harry: So we witnessed since early age how they worked really hard, but at the same time, they did business. They used real estate to build wealth and to help us to go to school, to medical school, and in the end to come here to the US.

So when we came here to the US, my wife and I, we need to still do our training. I did initially internal medicine. My wife did family medicine. The nature of training in medicine is you usually go through residency, which is three years. After that, if you want to continue your education, you go another three years and maybe another one more. Then sometimes you don't stay in the same hospital.

Darin: That's crazy.

Harry: Yes. That's correct. So sometimes you don't stay in the same hospital or in the same city even. So in this almost 15 years that we have been here in the US, we have lived in Pennsylvania in the Lehigh Valley area. Then for a year in Philadelphia, then for three years in Richmond, Virginia. After we finished, I was doing initially some private practice in South Texas in the McAllen area, and two years after that, we moved here to Dallas. We are proud to say that we are here to stay in Dallas, Texas. We really love the area.

So actually, we're moving very often. We were very interested in real estate. We knew the power of real estate that can do in you and your family. However, because, again, we were moving so often and we were still in training is that we couldn't get really started.

Why Dallas Is a Great Choice as Home Base

Harry: So once we actually came to Dallas, I was already out of training for three or four years. We liked the area, our kids really liked their schools, and we also have very good friends here. So we decided it's time to settle, and we decided, first, to buy our home. Then just shortly after that, we started investing in real estate. As you know, we start our journey in real estate in single family houses.

Darin: That's fantastic. So this is just a side note to listeners. I'm an East Coast guy from Connecticut. I lived in South Florida for a while, and I've been in Dallas for, I don't know, 13 or 14 years. I don't know if you had it, but I had the whole moving to Texas cowboy boots and cowboy hats and big belt buckles and horses. Sure, you have all that here, but what I found is Dallas is a lot more than that. I mean, it's good people, good quality of life, good cost of living, great workforce. So I can understand why you have decided to make this your home base.

So it's interesting that your parents, it sounds like they were very, very hard-working. But they didn't have a chance to have a college education when they were in Peru. But they found a way to invest in real estate in Peru, and then you saw the benefit of that. Maybe add to that a little bit. As a child seeing your parents invest in real estate, what was the benefit that you saw as you were growing up?

A Family Investment

Harry: Yes. So they were, again, as I mentioned, they were doing different businesses. My mom had a beauty salon. They also invested in public transportation in my country. All the brothers and sisters, they got together and they bought a small hotel. They are still holding that, I believe. After a couple of years, my mom was able also to buy two small apartment units. That helps a lot. That relieves you from doing active work. So you're using your money and your money is working for you.

Of course, you need to oversee, I mean, when you are all hands-on on these properties. Back in my country, you need to be very hands-on. There's no many property managers back there. So they needed to do all the work. They needed to hire contractors and be constantly in the hotel or in the apartment complexes. It was very impressive how that helped them to move ahead and progress in life.

Darin: Yes. I mean, that's huge to see that modeled for you that, "All right. Now, you own this asset and it's providing you income even if you're not there all the time." You saw that benefit. In the US, you started with single family. Why did you decide to start with single family?

Harry: Yes, probably because of my lack of education. I didn't know better.

Darin: Lack of education after how many years of medical school?

Harry: Yes. We physicians are very educated and very specialized in medicine, but, I mean, I cannot tell you about other things, right?

What Does It Mean to Invest in Yourself: Hire an Expert

Harry: So yes, I mean, many people, they get started in single family houses or residential real estate. Because that's the bread and butter of real estate here in the US, and that's how many people start. So either fix and flips, either buy and hold, some people do short sales and they also do wholesaling. That's how we started, but one thing that I understood from early on and also from my background is that the more you hold, the better the benefits from real estate are to you. So we decided to become landlords. We started buying properties and we put tenants to living there.

We got really excited and we were very passionate about that. Then we start growing our portfolio and we went up to nine properties here in the DFW area. Of course, you can understand for two physicians with full-time jobs, with two kids, two boys, it would be impossible, actually, for us to manage all of that. So we decided early on to hire a property manager just to leverage someone else's expertise and to help us with our business.

Darin: That's smart. So you saw the benefit of leveraging even in the single family side. Because a lot of syndicators that I've talked to that got into multifamily. A lot of them started in single family, and they get to where you were at, 10 to 20 properties, and it becomes too much trying to manage it themselves. But it sounds like because your careers were so busy that you guys decided to have a third party manager right from the get-go even with your single family.

What Does It Mean to Invest in Yourself: Leverage Someone’s Expertise

What Does It Mean To Invest In Yourself: Leverage Someone’s Expertise
Photographer: Rita Morais | Source: Unsplash

Harry: Yes, and just also to remember that we were doing all of that around 2019-2020, at the beginning of 2020 when the pandemic started, when COVID started. It was even more difficult around that time. Just remember in our first property, actually, we bought our property even the regular way any person buys a property, through MLS and through a realtor.

We initially thought it was not the best investment because we were looking at the numbers. The return was not great, and just after three months, the AC broke. So all our cashflow that we were projecting for the first six to nine months, I mean, it went away.

So we were saying, "What have we done?" I mean, we made a terrible mistake. But yes, I mean, it requires patience. So initially, we were actually managing the property ourselves. We believed initially that we could do it, but because of that problem is that we found out that it was not going to be possible. We needed some help.

That actually opened a lot of doors because once we hired our property manager, he introduced us to other ways to acquire properties. I was also following a little bit of BiggerPockets or other websites or other blogs where they were saying other ways to buy houses at discounted prices. So he was very great. He was very helpful with us and he introduce us to off-market properties.

What Does It Mean To Invest In Yourself: Network and Leverage

Darin: So when you say open doors, you mentioned looking at other websites like BiggerPockets. You also mentioned leveraging the expertise of that third-party property management company, and that third-party property management company, is that who introduced you to parties that got you the off-market deals?

Harry: Exactly. So I was doing already my research, my education, but I didn't know where to start. He's the one who started introducing me to other guys who were doing that already, the wholesaling and these off-market properties.

Darin: Yes. That's huge. I think that first comes the step of, "Hey, I'm going to invest in real estate," and you decided you're going to start with single family. Then you don't even really realize it at first. But then when you start to get introduced to other people that have been in the industry for years and years, you can leverage their expertise. Whether it’s them referring you to a contractor that they've worked with. Or pointing you in the right direction in terms of what markets you should be looking at that are submarkets within the DFW area that are good. Or providing you with relationships that can get you off-market deals. Those things you can't know until you get into it, until you actually start.

Harry: Until you start doing things.

Darin: Right, until you start doing things. So then at some point you decided, "All right. We've got nine properties. We want to go bigger. We want to go into multifamily." Talk to us about why did you decide to do that.

From Single Family to Multifamily

Harry: Yes. It was in part because of, again, like we wanted to continue growing. But also, the reason why we started doing that is that, and you can ask this to other single family house owners. It’s that the more you're growing, the more properties you have and the more responsibilities you have, the more time it uses on you. So we were finding ourselves every week talking to our property manager for different reasons. Again, different smaller or bigger problems that may happen every week in properties.

Again, when you are the sole owner, all the responsibility, all the decisions, and also all the liabilities are on you. So we needed to discuss very frequently, again, because there were no newer homes. They were in the Tarrant County area. So we needed to be in constant communication.

Also, at the end of the year, we found out ourselves that we needed to deal with a lot of paperwork. We needed to deal with taxes, with insurance, with mortgage, and all of these things. So it was becoming more a second job in this moment. So we decided to continue our education and, again, find other ways how we can adapt our lifestyle to real estate.

That's how we found out. Again, as you mentioned in the beginning that many real estate investors that are starting residential real estate make at the end the move to commercial real estate. Many of them were doing actually syndications. That is what we do, actually.

Darin: Right. So a good first step is where we met, right? For our listeners' perspective, look, if you own a bunch of single families and you want to do the same thing and move into multifamily and commercial, there's free meetup groups.

What Does It Mean To Invest In Yourself: Join Meet Ups

Darin: There's no cost to attend. Go on the app on your phone, Meetup, and look up apartment investing or multifamily investing, and most major metropolitan markets. There will be free Meetup groups, and you go to there, and there maybe 20 people, 30 people, 40 people, and then you learn and you meet other people. So talk about that experience. I don't know if that was the only meeting you went to or if you went to multiple meetings. Then I think that you joined a multifamily mentorship group.

Harry: That is correct, too.

Darin: So maybe talk a little bit about that process of finding meetups and going and what the value was doing that, and then how'd you go about finding a multifamily mentorship group and what was the value of that.

Harry: So one thing that we need to start with is that in this age, there's no excuse to not get educated if you have an interest in something. There's so much available information and education for anyone who has the interest in something.

So there are audiobooks, there are YouTube videos, there are webinars, there are free meet ups, as we were just saying, especially in bigger cities like Dallas. There are meetings almost every week. We're very grateful and thankful that Dallas is also the center of commercial real estate. That every two or three months there's a big conference also here in this area.

Darin: That's true. Right.

Harry: Yes. We're able to take advantage of that, too. So yes, I was doing multiple things. It's the same way where I started in residential real estate. First, I did my education myself.

What Does It Mean To Invest In Yourself: Join Mentorship Groups

Harry: I was reviewing all of those things like audiobooks, podcasts like yours, and different things four to five months before going to meetups. Then I started going to meetups like the one where we met. Again, this happened almost every week or every weekend.

At that time, there was not much going on as you remember because we were in times of COVID. We just had gotten our vaccines. I mean, it was very difficult and with a lot of precautions. But yes, that's the way you start doing your networking.

So I start going to different meetups. I start talking with different people, and that's something great about multifamily, in general. The people who is in this business, it's very open. It's very eager to share their experiences and also to help out other people. Because we understand multifamily is a team sport, and at some point, we may be working together. We may be helping each other because, again, this is a big business and just one person cannot do this on his or her own.

I mean, after some time, again, we found out multifamily and syndications is actually more than a full-time job. As you can imagine, my wife and I being full-time physicians. It was going to be very difficult to accomplish. That's in part how we decided to continue our education and invest in ourselves, and we joined a mentorship group.

So in one of the meetups, actually, I heard this very important point. When you want to go into multifamily or in any business that requires a lot of effort, you require one of these three things.

Time, Network, Capital

Harry: You either have time, you either have a good real estate network or you have some capital to invest in yourself. I didn't have much time because I was doing already a full-time job, and I had single family houses. And I would have been going to meetups and then start to get to know people, but it was going to take longer.

I had some capital and I decided to join an investing group or a mentorship group in order to speed up the process. Also, again, as we talked initially at the beginning, to leverage the expertise, to leverage the time of all the real estate investors who have been doing this full time and also who have been doing this for a long time. So I was able to join this mentorship with Mark Kenny with Think Multifamily, actually. I found it was super helpful, and that's also part of the reason why we are at this number of units at this point and we have four projects already under the belt.

Darin: That's fantastic. I mean, you said a number of different things there that's fantastic. One is education. This is going to the listeners again. Like you said, there's no excuse. That's what you said. This is coming from a guy that did four years undergrad, plus I don't know how many more years you have to do, three years residency, another three years, and then maybe possible after that. So seven, well, more than 10 years of education. But the education was focused on your physician business, your healthcare, and you still had investments. You still had capital.

What Does It Mean To Invest In Yourself: Be Uncomfortable

Darin: And what most people are taught, and I was this way also was that, "Look, focus on your business, your industry, put 10%-20% in the stock market, and whether you're 401(k) and your IRAs, whatever, and it's just going to grow into this big nest egg." But I'm here to tell you and Harry just said it also, it's like you have no excuse. You are responsible. It's your money. So get educated, not only in your business or what you do for a day-to-day job, but also on how to manage your money and how to grow that responsibly. So that's fantastic. You brought up a lot of different things.

First of all, you started with books and podcasts. Then you actually got out of your house and went actually started to meet people. That can be scary for a lot of people going out and meeting people, but it's necessary. It gives you more confidence. When you start seeing other people that are doing it and they're successful, then it takes some of the pressure off you being in this little lonely island where your friends and family aren't doing it. I don't know. Tell me if you agree on that, but I think it adds confidence.

Harry: Yes. Again, there's this great quote that I got from Michael Blank, who is one of the great syndicators in the country and has books and everything. So he says, "Get out of your comfort zone." Because his question was, "Do we grow in our comfort zone? No, we don't grow in our comfort zone," right? So yes, you need to be uncomfortable. If you want to grow, if you want to learn new things, if you want to embark in a new business, you have to get uncomfortable.

What Does It Mean to Invest in Yourself: Go Out and Shake Someone’s Hand

Darin: It completely is uncomfortable. I remember when I did it. So my wife and I bought a new construction duplex, and then I started looking for another way to go bigger. First, I ended up at some at local REIS that were focused on single family, and I was nervous going to that. But then I got there and I'm like, "This isn't for me," but I was still nervous going there, walking in, not knowing people. Then I remember going to finding a multifamily Meetup group and I was nervous. It was a Saturday. I was nervous about going there, and then I realized that these people, like you said earlier, the multifamily industry, because it's a team sport. Everybody is out to help each other. It's really crazy.

So I know that there are listeners out there that are intimidated, but don't be. Go and just shake somebody's hand and tell them that you've never done it before. Just see how much information they give you and how comfortable they make you.

Harry: As you hit the nail on the head, again, it happened to you at some point, it happened to me and to all of us. I mean, at some point, we have to start. At some point, we are not that knowledgeable initially. And still, I'm sure you feel the same way, we still have so much to learn in this business. It's exciting because there's a lot to learn and there's new things that you learn every day in this business.

Overnight Success Takes Years

Overnight Success Takes Years
Photographer: Zac Durant | Source: Unsplash

Darin: Absolutely. So you joined multifamily mentorship group. One, did you find value from that? Then two, what was the big takeaway? What's the most value that you received by joining a group like that?

Harry: Yes. As I mentioned, it was super important for us because, again, we were already professionals working full-time jobs. So with that, we were able to use other people's time, other people's expertise, and able to work together with them and going into these projects. But one of the things that I always talk and explain to other people, even if we invested in ourselves, even after joining these groups, it's not that we sat down and say like, "Okay. I've done everything and everything is done. I'm going to get multiple projects and multiple units." No. I mean, we still continue doing our homework, right?

We started doing the networking with them and calling and when someone was going for a due diligence trip, we still were going with them. Also, I'm a big believer in education. So I like to share my journey and also the other. Or not that much that I know in real estate. I’m sharing with small post or now in my blog or with YouTube videos.

So it's not, again, you join a mentorship and the problem is solved. You still need to work very hard. That's something that I always tell my son. Overnight success takes years or takes a lot of time. I mean, it's not like you just show up and now you have 1,000 units and everything is great and everyone knows you and everyone trusts you. You still need to work very hard on that.

You Still Have to Do the Work

Darin: I'm so glad that you brought that up because that's so true. I think that multifamily mentorship groups, they provide a ton of value in educating you on the process. You may know some pieces of it, but are lacking in other areas. It also introduces you to a network of people that have been doing it for years. So you can learn from people that have been doing it. If you see other people and you're like, "Look, they're smart, but I'm smart, too, and if I follow their path, I can follow it." But I tell people the same thing you do. I have some people that reach out to me over social media and they're like, "I'll join one of these groups if they get me a deal."

I'm like, "Then don't join." It's a means to plug you into a network of people that you can leverage. So who are the attorneys that people use? Who are the property management companies? Who are all these different facets of the business? But if you just stroke a check and join, and then just sit in your house, it's going to be wasted money. Don't bother doing it. You actually have to get out there and do the work and you have to underwrite deals. You have to network with other people. And you have to get out there. You have to meet brokers. There's a lot of different facets of the business, and you don't have to do it all. Like Harry said, you can focus in on one area, but you still have to work at it.

What Does It Mean to Invest in Yourself: Share Your Knowledge

Harry: That's absolutely correct. Again, we don't know all the aspects of multifamily syndication, and we're very grateful that we have already networked and already joined groups with, again, in a project or another project. We are able to go together with different people to be sponsoring one of his deals.

Darin: Yes. That's huge. So you also mentioned that you've decided to give back to other people. Even though you haven't been doing it for 10, 20 years, you've got a blog, you've got a YouTube channel. So share with us what are you putting out there and who's benefiting from that.

Harry: Yes. So this also to some degree comes from our background. We're physicians. I've been an attending already for about seven years. I work in the hospital with residents, with fellows, with medical students. We do rounds and we round the patients and we're able to give back some of our knowledge to them in training.

What I found similar to my story is that physicians were highly educated, very specialized. But as you mentioned, we don't have that much financial education or not all of us. So what we know is usually go wake up, go to the hospital or to your practice, continue working. And if you talk about investments, we know about the stock market or the 401(k) or mutual funds and that's it. So I think that once I've learned about real estate and I have some knowledge about that, it's part of my mission to share that knowledge with other physicians.

Check Harry’s Blog and YouTube Channel

Harry: Again, our company is mainly in apartment syndications. But when I talk about with other people and also in my blog, I just don't talk about that. Because, again, different doctors and different people may have different goals in life. I may want to be more active or my friend may want to be more passive or more active.

One of the things that we talk about different topics in real estate, residential, commercial, active, and passive. So they can have the knowledge and they can decide for themselves on what's their interest or what they want to do. So yes, we launched our website and we have been trying to put more educational content almost every week in terms of blogs.

We also have our YouTube channel. Initially, it's mostly focused on syndications because that's the nature of our company. But I hope in the next six months or so we're going to talk about other topics. Like single family houses, wealth in general, economics in general to help other physicians and healthcare professionals in general.

Darin: Fantastic. Can you share the website address, where people would find it on YouTube and that sort of thing so if people want to get some additional info?

Harry: Yes, absolutely. Yes. It's nimaequity.com. The YouTube channel is the same, Nima Equity. You guys can go there and watch the videos. There are small videos actually for everyone who is busy. There are three to five-minute videos, small tutorials about syndications.

Darin: That's fantastic. That's the other thing that probably you didn't realize it when you started. I know I didn't.

The Ripple Effect

Darin: I mean, when I started, I was thinking about growing the wealth of my family, how do I go, and scale bigger going from a duplex into large scale multifamily. Then all of a sudden, this podcast thing came up. Your YouTube and all that is about sharing with other people. I believe there's a ripple effect.

You may impact one or two or 10 or 20 doctors or other physicians or other people in the hospital that want that financial education, don't know where to turn. Now they already trust you, and they're like, "All right. Let's see what Harry's got." Then, "Wow! This is interesting. I'm going to ask him some more questions."

Then all of a sudden, they start investing, and then they have their own network and they start teaching their network. So it's pretty amazing how that ripple effect can happen. It’s all about helping teach other people about financial education. Because just going through our traditional education system is more about training us to be employees and just shove that money over aside and let Wall Street take care of it.

When you start realizing that there's other choices and there's other things you can do to be accountable for your own funds and grow that wealth faster in a responsible manner, they don't teach you that in school. So I think that's fantastic that you're sharing that with other people that you work with.

Harry: Yes. As you mentioned, it probably happens the same to you as my wife and I. So we are physicians. To some degree, we're high earners.

What Does It Mean To Invest In Yourself: Give Back

Harry: So we even feel just investing passively we could be in a very good position in a couple of years. But at the same time because we have this knowledge, we have the mission to share this with other people. Again, there's stages in your life. You go to college, you go to school, then you work in your career, in your family. But then when you have accomplished things, you start asking yourself, "What's next?" That what's next is giving back to other people. It can be economically, it can be in terms of your time or it can be also in form of education, and that's how we feel right now.

Darin: I think that's awesome. I feel exactly that same way. I mean, there's financial benefits to the investing. And, look, doing a podcast or doing your blogs, there could be financial benefits to that, too. To attract partners and attract passive investors or to invest alongside you. But I get a ton of joy when somebody just tells me like, "Hey, look, I listened to this podcast, and it really helped me."

I don't care if they invest with me or not. There's other people that's what they're trying to accomplish. They have money that they need to put to work, but then there's other people that are just learning. They're just trying to figure it out, and if you could be a resource for them, there's a payback that's not financial. It's just part of being a human being. So I think that's fantastic. Hey, share some of the learning lessons that you've learned along the way. I think it's important because I interview people that have 3,000, 5,000, 10,000 units.

What Does It Mean to Invest in Yourself: Get Educated and Take Action

Darin: That's inspiring that you can grow that far. But then sometimes somebody newer may feel like, "Man, they're just at a totally different level than me." But you in a short period of time, man, in a year and a half, you went from single family to owning 786 units. You got out of your comfort zone and you went to Meetup groups. You joined a mentorship group. So talk about some of the learning lessons.

Harry: Yes, absolutely. So one of the important things we mentioned before is, again, education. That's the most important part at the beginning. You need to get educated. You may have all the will or all the time, but if you don't get educated, you don't know what you're doing.

Darin: So let me jump in. Education, but then you have to add action, right?

Harry: Absolutely. Again, education is very important. Knowledge is very important, but without action, it doesn't take you anywhere. So again, that's very important. The other part is be honest with yourself and get to know what you're good at and what can you do or what you cannot to do.

In our case, we knew that we have a good network and we knew that we didn't have that much time. We were able to leverage other people's time, money, and expertise in order to get where we're in this moment. So that's important just to be in a moment with yourself and to talk with yourself and to analyze, I mean, all these things.

Darin: Yes. So you didn't say this, but I'm guessing based on the fact that it's two physicians, well, you did say you had a good network.

Due Diligence

What Does It Mean To Invest In Yourself: Due Diligence
Photographer: Tierra Mallorca | Source: Unsplash

Darin: So you could end up partnering with somebody that they go find the deal and then you partner with them and then you're providing some capital. Then you have other doctors that maybe they're not even spending anywhere near the time that you are on education but they still trust you. They don't have access to these deals. Because the way that you get introduced to these deals and invited these deals is through an email. Because you've met somebody and you're on their investor database. It's not like it's a public thing.

So now all of a sudden, you get an opportunity that you're excited about, and then you share it with your network. They're like, "Holy cow! I haven't had access to any of these types of deals. Yes. If you're in, I'm in." I think that's fantastic. That's the way they get started.

Harry: Yes, that's correct. Actually, in the last project that we're going together with our investors, it took me probably three to four weeks in talking with different teams in analyzing different projects in order to decide to go on one of them. So again, I'm enjoying the process. I'm networking with these teams. But again, I'm trying to bring a good project to my investors. In a project that I also believe and in a project that I'm also investing passively.

Darin: Yes, and that's important to understand as well. People that fall into that role where they're bringing their network, you're doing due diligence. So you're getting access to 5, 10, 20 different opportunities, and then you're picking like, "All right. This one I feel good about, and I feel good about bringing other people in." And there's never 100% guarantee, right?

Another Level of Responsibility

Darin: I mean, in any investment you make in life, it could go south, it could not meet the expectations. But you're doing a lot of the due diligence ahead of time and weeding out the deals that you don't even want to participate in, even though they've already done a lot of weeding out. Those sponsor teams have looked at 50 deals or 100 deals and they've decided to purchase this one, and then they come to you and then you're like, "I still am going to pass on that one." So that's huge.

Harry: It's another level of responsibility because I'm not just bringing my money. I'm bringing other people’s hard-earned money. Those are, until now, not that far from now, it was friends, family, colleagues. I mean, of course, our network is growing and our investor database is growing, but again, you are responsible for that money.

Darin: Yes. That's huge. People are typically afraid to ask other people for money. But you're in the medical field, and if you have a way for somebody to become healthy, you're not going to hide that. You went and experienced it for yourself. You saw that the wealth growing power of real estate, why not share that with your network? It's an opportunity. They can say no, but why not share it with them? That's a fear that a lot of people have.

Harry: Yes, and that's what I'm doing now. I mainly share the information, share the knowledge with them. I share these opportunities with them and I follow up with them.

What Does It Mean to Invest in Yourself: Build Credibility

Harry: In the end, as we mentioned, they're free to decide if they want to invest in, again, single family houses go by themselves or be more passive or go with a syndication. This is also something that I always tell my investor. Try to look for another syndicator, too, because our timing maybe not perfect.

In my case, I'm planning to have possibly three to four projects a year. There may be a point when I have a project that my investor may not be able to invest in that moment. Or he or she may have some capital and may want to put their money to work, but I don't have a project in that moment. So that's what I'm telling them, "Hey, go out there and talk with other people. Get to network with other syndicators so you have options, too."

Darin: That's very smart. Also, I think that that also brings you a lot of credibility because there's some syndicators that may not want to do what you just did. They may not want to tell people, "Hey, go talk to another three or four or five syndicators." Because potentially you're introducing them to the competition and they may invest over there." But when your heart is in just trying to help and serve others, it comes back around. So yes, somebody may end up investing someplace else. So what? Somebody else comes or around and invests with you.

Harry: Yes. Absolutely.

Darin: So it's just shortsightedness, I think, the people that feel like they're not going to tell people that. So I applaud you for that. Hey, what markets are you focused on?

Southeast Versus Midwest

Harry: So we're mostly in the Southeast and the Midwest. The four projects we have, one is in the Kansas City, MSA, in Leavenworth, Missouri. Another one is in Georgia, in Warner Robins, which is two hours from Atlanta. Another one is here in Waco, Texas, and the fourth one that we did was in Jacksonville. We're about to raise for another project, which is in Chattanooga, MSA. So it's mostly in the Southeast and Midwest.

Darin: So do you see differences between the types of deals in the Southeast versus the Midwest?

Harry: So we mainly focus on, again, on value add projects, C, C+, B- projects, like the usual five to six years hold. But in the last year, there has been a lot of competition. Numbers are getting tighter as you probably have seen.

Also labor and the cost for renovations have been going up, and not just that. Again, the time responsiveness for some contractors is not ideal in the last year, but yes. I mean, they're similar across the board. Of course, in the bigger cities like Dallas or Atlanta, there's more competition and numbers are tighter, but yes. That's where we look.

Darin: Yes. So most of my investments have been in Texas, and I've dabbled in Colorado and Arizona, but all these markets that you mentioned, including the ones I'm in, the growth markets. They're markets where there's some population growth, income, growth, job growth, which are important.

How Harry Pick His Partners

Darin: I saw that in the pandemic when we had people that would leave the property and all of a sudden we'd get new tenants like that in the DFW area. Because people are moving in and they need a place to live. Where some other markets where people are moving out may have more of a difficult time finding a replacement tenant when somebody moves out.

Harry: Yes, that and job diversification and to be a landlord-friendly state. So those are the main things that we look for.

Darin: Absolutely. All good things. So how do you pick your partners? How do you know who you want to work with?

Harry: In the first year and a half, they're mostly in the investment group that I'm part with. Some of them I have known them already for over a year. One of the things that it's important for me now, especially in this second year because I know that at some point I'm, of course, as a natural history, that I may leave the mentorship at some point. I look for teams that have specifically the asset management person or who is dedicated to real estate and is doing that full time because I found this very, very important.

A good asset manager with the property manager can make or break a deal. So again, it's very nice. It's very cool. It's very flashy just to say that I'm raising for a project, we have closed project, I mean, and all the excitement about that. But the most important thing comes after that, after you have closed.

Bad Asset Manager vs Good Asset Manager

Bad Asset Manager vs Good Asset Manager
Photographer: Rach Teo | Source: Unsplash

Harry: I have heard so many times that a bad asset manager can make a good deal go bad. Or a good asset manager can make an okay deal or a bad deal go okay, go good.

Darin: Yes. That's smart. I think that it takes time to build those relationships. You mentioned a lot of those people you know for more than a year. So sometimes I'll partner with people and some people that I'm bringing from my network into the deal they ask, "Well, how do you know these people?" Same thing, I'm like, "Look, I've known this person for two or three years. I really trust them." Or possibly I've invested passively with them on another deal, not in every instance. But when I have somebody that reaches out to me over social media and they're like, "Hey, Darin. You want a partner?" I'm like, "I don't even know you," right?

I mean, we could start that conversation now, but it's probably going to take some time for me to build that trust up. So because you're bringing in your network and they're relying on you to do a lot of the due diligence on who the people are that are involved in the project and is the project good from your standards.

Harry: Absolutely. Yes. That's very important.

The other part that I value a lot is the type of communication that you have with your lead sponsor. Because that also is going to impact the passive investor or a limited partner a lot, and have this good communication. Because there's going to be good times and there's going to be bad times.

The Value of Good Communication

Harry: The important thing is that, especially during bad times, you have a good communication with your limited partner. To say if there's a problem just to be honest and open and transparent about that. Tell them what has happened, what are you planning to do to fix that, and what are you planning to do to prevent that to happen in the future. That adds a lot of credibility with your limited partners.

Darin: I love it. I don't even have anything to add to that. I mean, that is so important. I'm on both ends and I'm sure you are, too. I'm a passive and I'm also a general partner on different deals. Look, when I'm a passive, I want to know the good, the bad, and the ugly. But I also want to know what you're doing about it, right? Don't just tell me, "Oh, we got all these bad things going on."

Harry: The thing is that if you have been long enough in real estate, there's something that has gone wrong at some point. You need to disclose that and you need to be honest about that and tell that to your investors. Again, tell them what you did in that moment and how you fix it and what you plan in the future to avoid those to happen.

Darin: Absolutely. So talk about perseverance and determination. I mean, you talked about it before that it’s still work. You still have to get out and network and do the work, but it's tough. You also mentioned it's tough now. It's competitive.

You Need to Keep Pushing

Darin: There's a lot of people out there going after the same deals. So I'm sure that you've had times where you're like, "Man, this is tough." How do you keep going? How do you push through? What advice do you give people breaking in?

Harry: You just need to continue pushing. We have good and bad days and the bad days so many times I lean on my family, my wife, my kids. It's perseverance. It's not like a get rich quick thing. I mean, real estate takes years. It's really good. It builds wealth a lot, but it takes years. Again, there’s nothing that is going to happen overnight.

It's hard work and it's something, for example, that I tell my son. He plays basketball. He has been practicing already for five years. He's 10 years old. Initially, we were going to practice and he didn't like it, and we were going and going two or three times a week, and now he's actually a good player now. When he plays basketball, everyone says, "Oh, yes. Your son is an excellent player. How he does it?" No one knows how much work and effort he has put before.

When I talk to him and I say, "Hey, son. I mean, only God, you, and us know how much effort and how much practice you have put on all this." Yes. So again, it's a lot of work and you need to continue pushing.

Darin: I love that example. That's a great example. In the real estate world, each one of those setbacks is a learning experience, right?

The Next Big Stretch Goal for Harry

Darin: I mean, I remember submitting my first LOI and my wife was like, "Oh, are you excited?" and I'm like, "I don't know. What if I win? I don't know if I'm ready."

Harry: It could be worse.

Darin: Yes. But then as the second time, third time, fifth time, then all of a sudden you're not scared anymore. But in the beginning, that process was scary, and then there's another step that may be scary, and that goes to getting out of your comfort zone like you mentioned before. Hey, so what's the next big stretch goal for you? Where do you go from here?

Harry: So we're very grateful what happened to us last year. Again, in just one year we're able to be in four projects. So this year, we continue growing and we want to continue growing our investor platform. We want to have more presence on social media. Again, we post constantly in Facebook. We have our YouTube videos. We're trying to go to webinars. We're going to podcasts. That's also one of our goals for this year, hopefully at the end of the year, to also start a podcast.

Darin: Fantastic.

Harry: We continue sharing this information and knowledge with other physicians and professionals.

Darin: I'm happy to help out in any way I can. I know when I started I leaned on other people. I was a guest on a number of podcasts and I leaned on other people that were hosts and was like, "How'd you do it?" and they helped me just like real estate.

Harry: I appreciate it, Darin. Thank you.

What Harry Likes to Do for Fun

Darin: Absolutely. Fantastic. What do you like to do for fun outside of work?

Harry: I run. I am an avid runner as my bio says.

Darin: Marathons?

Harry: Half marathons, actually. I was running in my 20s and I was in medical school. I didn't have enough time. Then when I was finished in residency, I ran my first half marathon. I was around 30 or 31 years old. Then after that, I ran two more half marathons in a span of a year. And then we had our first son, and then we went to Virginia to do fellowship. Then after that, I mean, I couldn't run that much more.

Just recently after we started again in real estate and networking, and it's very important when you start doing the networking you also start doing mindset coaching. You also read books about mindset. I start running again. So actually, last December, I ran my first half marathon in almost 10 years. I'm running another one actually in two and a half weeks. By the end of the year, the goal is also to run a full marathon for the first time.

Darin: By the end of 2022?

Harry: Yes. I'm not sure if I will be able to make it by then.

Darin: Come on. Tell the listeners right now that you're going to do it.

Harry: Yes. We'll see.

Darin: Oh, we'll see is not going to happen. Come on.

Harry: Either I do it or I will finish in the hospital, but I will do it. I will do it, for sure.

Harry Is Running a Marathon

Darin: All right. There you heard it. He's going to do a marathon. Look, I think that whether it's a half marathon, marathon, whatever goal you set out for yourself, if you can achieve that goal and be true to yourself, it helps you with the next thing, next challenge in your life. I mean, it could be the smallest thing.

For the listeners' perspective, think of something that you said you were going to do that you did. Then you have that momentum to use that to help you on the next thing that you're uncomfortable about. So I mean, I look at people that have run half marathons, marathons, that it shows commitment to achieving a goal, and you've done that. So I applaud you for that.

Hey, if somebody wants to reach out to you and get to know you better, you mentioned your website and your YouTube channel, nimaequity.com and YouTube channel, Nima Equity. Is that the best way for them to get to know you better? Those two avenues?

Harry: Yes, absolutely. On the website, they also have a way to contact us. They can put their information. There's also a seven-day course for passive investment in real estate. So they can reach out to us that way, too.

Darin: Well, Harry, I really appreciate you coming on the show. Listeners, I hope that you enjoyed that one. Until next week, signing off.

How to Reach Dr. Harry Nima Zegarra

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Darin Batchelder


Wealth creation through real estate provided me with a new passion to get the word out and let others know that they have an alternative to investing in the stock market. If I can inspire and educate just one person to take action that results in life changing wealth creation then the work to launch and grow this podcast is well worth the effort.

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