Ep #562 – MFRS – He retired after five years in Multifamily

Jens Nielsen retired from his W2 job after five years of real estate investing. As a self described introvert, Jens found his “sweet spot” in multifamily by identifying the right partners, the right areas, and the right properties. Here’s some of the topics we covered:

  • How small thinking leads to small deals
  • Vetting potential partners
  • Who to align with for maximum results
  • The intentions of relationships
  • Life is about the journey
  • Acquisition Fees
  • Personal growth

To find out more about our guest:

Full Transcript Below:


Rod: Welcome back to Multifamily Rock Stars. So this is where we interview people that are crushing it in this business and we show you guys the inside scoop of how multifamily investors are creating massive success in their businesses and in their lives. And as always, I’ve got my co-host, who’s the director of my massive action team for the Warrior Group, Mark Nagy on the call. Mark, what’s going on, brother? What’s got you excited lately?

Mark: Hey Rod, I love these episodes. I mean, from what I heard just talking before we jumped on here, I heard some pretty big door accounts from our guests here today. So I’m excited to get into and learn some stuff.

Rod: Yeah. Well, he’s a good guy. He’s a good friend. He’s been in our warrior program for years and he’s originally from Denmark and I was from Holland. So he immigrated just like I did. And he had a successful career in telecommunications and IT. His name, Jens Nielsen. Forgive me, I didn’t say your name but he just retired from his W-2 to focus on real estate. You know, he’s been, you know, a key principle in a GP in over a thousand units and a limited partner. And good Lord, a couple of thousand mobile home park lots, 6,000 storage units. You know, he does note lending and private money lending. He’s just all over this real estate space. So we’re going have a lot of fun today. Welcome to the show, Jens.

Jens: Thanks, Rod. I’m really excited about this opportunity to talk to you again.

Rod: Yeah, I know. That’s right. We’ve had you on the show before. Probably, it’s been over a year though, on the main podcast, not on this Multifamily Rock Stars. But, yeah. So take a minute and talk about your background as it were. You know, for those that didn’t get a chance to listen to that first episode, just bring people back up to speed. And you just like just retired, I think. Right? I mean, like in the last couple of months or something.

Jens: Yeah. Even less than a month ago. So, yes.

Rod: That’s a month ago? Wow. Awesome.

Jens: It’s very new. Yeah, you know, I’m in my late 40s and about five years ago, after I’ve been in the IT field for many years with a successful career, I was like, man, I got to continue to do this for another 20 plus years if I want to “retire”. And I just didn’t feel like I want to do that, continue and trying to keep up with innovation and all these changes in the IT field. I wanted something new, something exciting I could build for myself. And I looked around. I was like, what’s out there? You know, so many ways of making money these days. But the best way I really found was real estate investing. And it’s literally, it’s less than, slightly less than five years ago I got started. I think in July of 2015. 2016 I bought my first property and so hooked on it. And, you know, it’s just been a crazy ride since then with the tremendous amount of success and just keeping focus on what I wanted to achieve. So, I mean, kind of here’s the proof, Rod.

Rod: Right. Yeah, and you’ve got an incredible focus for sure. I mean, and you also do mountain biking as well. I mean, you’re really skilled at that. I remember you had a bad accident in a year or two ago. I remember going through that with you. But how long have you been in the Warrior program? Refresh my memory.

Jens: Yeah, since the beginning. And I mean–

Rod: Well, you actually talk to me to join, right?

Jens: Yes.

Rod: I think you actually talk to me to join. Yeah. So that’s awesome. Yeah. That’s unusual. And so that’s– I love it. So, you know, talk about, you know, let’s focus on multifamily. I know you’ve divested some other asset classes as well, but let’s focus on multifamily for purposes of this call. Now, you have aligned with other people, coaches in the Warrior program, other people to take these deals down. Correct? Could you, you know, talk about maybe the first deal you did and how you made it happen? You want to remember?

Jens: Yeah. So, you know, I started with small thinking and small deals early on because I didn’t really have any coaching. I didn’t have any mentorship like, oh, I can go and buy a four unit. I know how to do that and I can do my own money. And I’m so, you know, kind of blessed that I saw the– you know, I started listening to your podcast like, man, there’s a different way here. And when you started the program, I was like, I got to sign up here. And the biggest thing I wanted was like, I wanted coaching and the training, but I also wanted to find the right partners because you can go quickly by yourself, but you can’t go very far, has been my experience because you run out of money and you’re like, well, I’m stuck. So I did a few deals and then I started … back when we had live events, I would go to those and I would meet some people. And I met some guys that were like, I felt like they had done a few things that I want to kind of align myself and partner with them. And that’s what we kind of got started. We did a few syndications, so I took on a small role, but just kind of got involved and just kind of would see what it meant to be a part of a larger deal to meant to be part of syndication, to kind of learn from that. That’s really took off doing that.

Rod: I have a quick follow up. What role did you play in these first deals? Did you wear multiple hats or just one hat?

Jens: Multiple hats, you know, I did underwriting, on site due diligence, raise some capital, investor communication, kind of taking on the areas that I felt like I’m good at. I’m an introvert by nature, so being out there and connecting with brokers is probably not my strength but give me, you know, let me work from the back office and see some good results that way, you know.

Mark: I love it. So you get started obviously, you were thinking some smaller deals. I know some people when I chat with them, they’re thinking, oh, I want to start as an LP. Right? Passive investor. Obviously, you’ve done a lot of LP deals, passive investing. So for people listening, they might want to start that way. What sorts of things should they look for in the team that they’re investing into?

Jens: Yeah, I did also start like LP investing before I did into the GPS side. And I think the key thing is like, who is the team, right? Who’s on the team and what is their level of experience, especially in the market? Have they done more deals or other deals in that market? How well have they done? If they’ve done anything that has gone full circle or even just operated for a few years, get some historical data, just kind of see how they’re meeting their projections. Right? And really figuring out, you know, what’s behind this? Do they have some good sponsors? Do they have some very experienced people on the team? That’s one of the key thing. There’s really three things I look at is the team, then it’s the market, what market are they investing in, right? And why do they think that that market makes sense? And then finally, it’s the property. What’s the story about that property? What level of risk are you taking on, right? Are you doing a heavy repositioning on a class C asset? And then hopefully the returns should be reflecting in that. Are you taking that class A asset? You don’t have to do too much to work on and maybe if it’s lower return. I think a lot of people don’t recognize the risk you take on by taking on some of these lower class assets for sure.

Rod: Yeah, by the way, since you brought it up, Mark, let me throw it out there. Guys, if you want a list of questions that you’d want to ask a GP before getting into a deal, this will really help you identify and evaluate a good GP, text the word “GP questions” to “72345”. And I’ve got a really nice list of all the questions you really should ask. And, you know, Jens mentioned some of them and there’s a whole bunch more there so that’ll be a good resource for you. So let me ask you this, you know, Jens. When you were– you know, you joined the Warrior program, you started connecting and, you know, I remember you were definitely introverted. You definitely pushed yourself. And I’m really impressed with you in that regard. The fact that you had been on my podcast now twice, you know, is amazing. And you’re just such an awesome success story. What sorts of people did you align with that you feel like helped you ramp this success for yourself? I mean, just– I don’t know. You answer that any way you like.

Jens: I love that question, Rod, because– and let me step back. If anybody ask me, what is the thing I love about real estate investing? I always say, it’s the people I have an opportunity to work with. I mean, there’s no questions asked there. That just kind of said maybe the stage for this question and the people I lined myself with. Well, typically you’ll be attracted to somebody that’s similar to you. But I realize that’s not the best choice in partnerships. Right? So, I’m the analytical person. I’m the kind of back in, kind of getting stuff done. The Implementor, if you will. I align myself with people that were a little bit more outgoing, a little bit more comfortable going out there and connecting with the brokers and doing all those things. Right? Because I feel like if we’re all out chasing deals and nobody can figure out how to get across the finish line, you won’t be successful and vice versa. Is everybody sitting at home being a little bit introverted then you don’t get anywhere. So, the best partners I’ve had are people that are great broker connections, really good also investor connections and those aspects where I can kind of like. Well, let me fill in the blanks, you know, on getting this deal across the line like you have Robert that helps you with some of that stuff.

Rod: Actually, Scott now. But, yes.

Jens: Okay.

Rod: Yeah. That’s exactly right. And those are some of the best partnerships we’ve ever seen, so–

Mark: Yeah, I’d actually love to kind of go the opposite way of what Rod just asked. I know you mentioned, who do you align yourself with? But I love to know is what are some things or people that you had to actually cut out of your life to reach the success that you’re at today? Because I think that’s equally as important.

Rod: Yeah, what did you sacrifice? That’s a good question.

Jens: Yeah, it’s very interesting. I think I learned a couple of things basically around the type of investors that you may want to partner with. If you take on, you know, a true limited partner, make sure that person is comfortable being completely passive. They’re not going to question every step you take. And I’ve had some and I was like, man, this was probably not the right choice there. So be aware of that before you start taking on partners and investors. What type of personality do they have? What did I have to cut out of my life? I mean, as Rod said, you know, I’ve been a professional. I really have professional racing license for year, bicycle racing. And I realize, you know, 10, 12 hours of training every week was not going to cut it when I was trying to work and do my real estate investing. So that had to be reduced.

Rod: But you were still writing, though? Because, I mean, you would have gotten injured. You were halfway, you know, about halfway into our Warrior program, I think. And then you got that injury. Were you racing or just screwing around?

Jens: I was racing then and we can also get into that. That was a pivotal moment in my life.

Rod: Well, I want you– then keep going with that question then I will cue up that conversation, yes.

Jens: Yeah. So cutting out some of the racing. Yes. I still ride. I rode this morning. I did an hour and a half this morning but not nearly as much as I used to, right?

Rod: Right.

Jens: But also people that, you know, I think early on in life you just– your friends are just friends. That’s all. His a cool guy. Girl, let me hang out with that person without much intention around what’s behind it. So I didn’t like deliberately say to somebody I didn’t want to be friends with them, but I was like, well, this person is not in the same growth pattern I’m in. Maybe I should decide to spend less time with that person and be much more deliberate around hanging out with people that have felt like on the same journey, same mindset.

Rod: Awesome. Awesome answer, buddy. And guys, I hope you take note of that one. That’s so important. Who you hang out with is who you become. You know, I just had my multifamily boardroom of which you’re a member now Jens and I know you couldn’t make it, but we just had it last week and a half ago, two weeks ago. And, you know, I want to be around people that think what I think is hard is easy so, love it. Well, let’s go back to that accident, because I remember it was pretty serious and, so talk about what you wanted to talk about there.

Jens: Yeah, I mean, this was– it’s three years in May. And I was doing my own bike race in Grand Junction, Colorado, and I had a crash so many times on my bike. But this time was pretty bad. I ended up with a crust kidney and a couple of injured vertebras my back too, and, you know, internal bleeding and everything else. I literally was in the ICU for five days and my wife has a picture of me lined and all pale and with, you know, various tubes. But it also, it was kind of a wake up call because I had always been like, oh, I can go and race my bike because then I can show that I’m better than others and I’m good at something. So a little bit of lack of self, I don’t know, worth there to some degree. And I proved that by racing my bike because I was pretty good at it. But I was a real as I’m getting older, I’m not going to get faster. And I was like, man, this is not the right approach to life. It’s not about showing that you’re better than other people. It’s about the journey. And you talk a lot about that too, right? It’s enjoying the journey. It’s being with the right people versus the outcome because there was never a lot of satisfaction in winning races. It was just, well, it was another trophy. And I had dozens of them. I realized I was focused too much of the outcome versus the journey. Now it’s like, man, you know, just the process. I’ve gotten much more deliberate around the process and intentional around the process. And I love that now. It’s just, hey, man.

Rod: Good for you.

Jens: Got a deal if you do it. If not, it’ll be another one coming along, whatever.

Rod: I so love hearing that, brother. I can’t even tell you how much I love it. Awesome.

Mark: Well, obviously, you’ve had a lot of mental shifts in your life, you know, for the better, whether it was through a crash or whatever. I mean, that’s an insane story. But sometimes it takes a wake up call like that. But what is something that you love to change about yourself Jens? But maybe it never will or you think never will.

Jens: You know, I think I’m– the long term strategic planning is something that I need to get a lot better at. You know, I have a tendency to kind of be focused on right in front of me. So that’s a process that I’m certainly working on.

Rod: That answer really surprises me.

Jens: It’s funny, right?

Rod: That’s not the one I would have guessed. Please continue. I’m sorry.

Jens: Well, good to surprise you. But no, I mean, it’s sometimes, you know, I guess and maybe I’m better at it than other people. I just feel like I have a way to go there. Right? And, you know, I think the other thing is I’ve been on stage a couple of times that you have been Rod. I’m scared and I love it, but I mean, being becoming better at going out in front and speaking to people, at people and sharing my story, I mean, that would be something that would be amazing to do more of that.

Rod: Well, I can tell you, you’re a thousand percent more comfortable than the last time we interviewed and really, you know, even on stage what I recall. So, you know, you’re absolutely pushing yourself. And, you know, it’s interesting because Tiffy and I just had a conversation about this. We just went to a mastermind in Costa Rica that some of my warriors put on Garrison and them, you know, and she’s an introvert. An introvert has to– after they’re in a social setting, they have to go be by themselves. And it’s just such an interesting dynamic for someone like me that’s an extrovert that gets more energy from being out there now. I thought I was an introvert. I’m not. But, so let me ask you this. You know, there are a lot of people listening that want what you have Jens, and they want to build this dream. They haven’t taken action yet or maybe they’ve done a duplex or something. What words of wisdom would you give them?

Jens: Find a partner that can hold you accountable, that can help you take massive action, and that’s not exactly like you. I mean, my current partner I’m working with without him, I would have not gotten to where we at. I mean, we literally closed four deals in the last four months, five months. I mean, that’s incredible.

Rod: And this is the one you mentioned you met through the Warrior program, yes?

Jens: That’s right. Yeah.

Rod: Love it. By the way, guys, if you’re interested in checking out and applying for our Warrior mentorship program, text and I like the word, we want to help you crush it in this business. So text the word “crush” to “72345”. Again, to apply, just text the word “crush” to “72345” and we’ll see if you’re a fit for us and if we’re a fit for you. And we’re very, very selective and be candid because we’ve created this ecosystem that’s just incredible. It’s just growing organically and everyone wanting to help everyone else. Would you agree, Jens?

Jens: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I miss going to events. I mean, that was the most fun time I had.

Rod: Oh, I know. Well, I’ll put it out there. I’m pretty sure we’re going to have one in November, December. So I’m putting it out there, but it’s going to be Denver or Dallas. And so, that’s the plan. I’m going to talk to my team about it in our leadership meeting tomorrow. But anyway, go ahead, Mark.

Mark: Yeah, well, we kind of glossed over something that was huge which is obviously retirement, five and a half years. I mean, people work 50 years in a regular job and they don’t even have the retirement that they want. You did five and a half in real estate. And I know it was funny because you just mentioned something you’ve got to work on is more long term planning. Did you set out in real estate with the goal of retiring early? And now that you’ve reached that, what’s the next goal for you?

Jens: Yeah, so I set out I remember this planning session. Me and my wife had actually– we do the best planning when we were driving because she drives so hard and I sit next to her and bounce ideas off her. But we had a planning session five years ago, going somewhere I don’t recall where. And I said, okay, if we buy a fourplex every year for ten years, we’ll have forty units that’ll probably buy to replace my income. That was the thinking I had five years ago. And then, you know, it suddenly just accelerated. And this is the thing I think people don’t realize that there’s that thing you do one deal, they’re like, oh, do something bigger and bigger and it kind of accelerates kind of exponentially. Right? I mean, I literally in this again, I mentioned I have done four deals in the last six months. I made more money in those four deals than I did in a full year of working in my W-2 job, right? And I was like, man, this is just blowing. My mind is incredible.

Rod: That’s just acquisition, that’s just your piece of the acquisition fee, right?

Jens: That’s right. Yeah. Acquisition fee.

Rod: So I mean, that doesn’t even count the cash flow, the tax benefits, everything else. So those are either don’t know, when you or do put a deal together, you charge a freaking acquisition fee because you kiss a lot of frogs to find that deal. And, you know, like we charge three percent and I won’t waiver on it because, you know, we’ve had deals fall apart. We’ve spent a lot of money on due diligence. And so, you know, that’s awesome. Let me ask you this, buddy. What is your definition of success? How do you define success?

Jens: I think really finding something that you’re passionate about, that doesn’t seem like work to you, right? That you’ll just continue to do and you really focus on and you enjoy the process, not necessarily the outcomes. I like to say, you know, high intention, low attachment. So, really every day I’m working on this is exciting and new ideas are generated. Right? So just, this growing every day and achieving new things and stuff, but not necessarily like, oh, I wanted a certain number of units by a certain date. I’ve very careful about saying that because don’t attach your self-worth to a certain number because that’s just pointless. Like, just make sure that you really enjoy the process and work with people that you truly enjoy working with. So, like, that’s my definition.

Rod: What’s your– just a couple more quick questions. What’s your favorite quote? Do you have a quote that hangs on your wall? Do you have anything that you circle back to on a regular basis that really helps motivate you?

Jens: It’s funny, there is actually one on my screen right in front of me and it says, “See yourself living in abundance and you will attract it.” Rhonda Byrne.

Rod: I love it. I have one on my wall, to my exercise room. “God’s wealth flows through me and avalanches of abundance.” Thank you, God. And that’s just meaning abundance in all forms, not just money, but people and love and friendships and you name it. Love it. Well, listen, I’m going to end on that positive note. Jens, I really appreciate you coming on, buddy. And it’s really great to see you. And I promise you, we will figure out a way to do an event this year because I miss it. Tiffy misses it. And, you know, we’re going to make it happen, brother. But great to see you, my friend.

Jens: Likewise. I’m super excited to see you in person again.

Rod: Yeah. All right. Talk to you later. Mark, I’ll see you later, buddy.

Mark: All right. See you guys.