In the current real estate market, what’s the big mistake most investors are making right now? Where could there be opportunities instead? Today’s guest is Nathan Brooks with Bridge Real Estate. Nathan had to pivot quickly in 2022 into his current model, which has allowed him to flourish and grow while others have gone out of business. Listen in to learn how he managed to pull it off!
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The BIG Mistake Real Estate Investors Are Making Right Now With Nathan Brooks
This show is for you who have been working so hard for your money and you’re now ready for your money to work harder for you today. You want that freedom and cashflow now, not 30,000 or 40,000 years from now. You want that freedom today. You can do that and live that life you love with those you love. Most importantly, we know it’s not just about getting rich. It’s about living a rich life because as you are blessed financially, you have a greater capacity to bless the lives of those around you. That is what we’re here to do today. Thank you for allowing me to be able to express that through you guys and create a ripple effect in your lives.
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I’m bringing back a guest that I had on several years ago but it’s great to have him back on because he’s not only evolved but we’re in a world right now where the real estate investing world has been evolving and he’s on top of that. Nathan Brooks, if you know him, we had him on before. Bridge has been the big thing he’s done.
He went from Bridge Turnkey, now he’s got Bridge Lending. He’s got the Bridge Real Estate Investing Meetup. That’s on Facebook. It’s a private group, especially if you’re in the Missouri area and beyond. I know I’m part of that group and very active. There is a lot of good information in there too that he’s in charge of. Right now, what he’s doing is helping real estate investors break past that million-dollar mark without having to build huge teams and big costs. Nathan, thanks for coming back on our show.
Chris, thanks for having me on. I love your message. It’s not just making money but living a rich life is such a beautiful sentence and image. I love that. I love your mission.
I know you’d resonate with that because that’s your life too. That’s the thing you do. You embody that and that’s a big reason why I wanted you on the show. Give people a little bit of your background as well. Fill in the gaps with what I didn’t cover here.
I’m a reformed turnkey flipper. We were doing 150 houses a year, made the Inc. 5000 multiple years, and had a huge overhead. Before that, I made my living as a professional musician. Somehow, that transforms from a musician to an entrepreneur. I have a beautiful family and live on 12-plus acres outside of town in Kansas City.
I’ve been focused here the last few years on developing a small but mighty team, doing deals that make sense and letting go, killing off, whatever you want to say, the things that are not working, and being ruthless about it. Not in a relationship way but in a willingness to look at things and say, “Is this serving me? Is this serving the team? Is this serving our client? What do we need to do about it?”We need to have a willingness to look at things and say, “Is this serving me? Is this serving the team? Is this serving our client? And what do we need to do about it?” Click To Tweet
You and I have a lot of friends in the active real estate space especially. 2020 was interesting because everyone thought things were going to go fall apart. For a few months, it was a little bit frozen but then all of a sudden, the money got pumped in from the economy from all the Feds and everything else. You didn’t even have to be a genius to make money in real estate until 2022, especially the latter half. We saw a lot of our friends get beaten up over the last year or so. Tell us what’s been your experience with that. What pivots did you make that helped you guys come out stronger on the other end here?
It would not be a lie to say I got beat up a little bit and then at ‘22 as well. Starting in mid to late ‘21, we started making some moves and had this huge team. We went from having almost 20 people on our staff to sub 5 in a matter of 6 months or less. We realized that we had so many things going and we had such a big production level, the overhead, and the management of all that. I wasn’t having fun, to be honest. I was stressed out with having to do so many deals to cover overhead versus the opposite and leading with revenue. We said, “Enough.”
It’s taken us a while to get things cleaned up but thankfully, we had been looking ahead. I wouldn’t say I had any idea of where we would be now. I’d be lying but I did have a sense that we needed to change. We took those hard steps of having hard conversations with our team. I had a lot of joy and I felt good maybe due to the ego of having this big team but it didn’t feel good in the way of going home at night and what you want to be doing.
We’ve focused on developing awesome partnerships and relationships. We have a handful of partners with whom we’ve done far fewer man-hours of work and made far more money between building developments and building some new construction stuff. Being focused and strategic with people I can rely on to do the thing they’re awesome with and I bring what I’m awesome with, it’s made a world of difference.
That must have been pretty hard going from a team of 20 down to 5. How fast was that transition for you?
Half of those people were gone in two days. Over the next couple of months, it was another 2 or 3. Truly, that Bridge company that was Bridge Turnkey is now just three people, me, a partner, and our controller. That’s how far down. I have a flipping and real estate company that I still do actively in Kansas City. I have a very small team there. 1 or 2 people, 1 local and 1 virtual. On the coaching side, we have a very small team too, a couple of VAs, a director of operations, and a salesperson. We’ve brought that down.
The other thing that I made a change in was my psychology around people’s pay. I looked for people who were willing to work harder for a higher potential in compensation but a lower amount of that monthly cost and overhead. Trading what is revenue but also for people who have gotten it, want the capacity to do it, and have a bigger capacity to do actual work. Instead of having 2 or 3 people, I could have one person. I pay them more but they’re also more fulfilled and have more responsibility and autonomy.
I also say this as a leader. If you’re reading this and you’re thinking, “That sounds like a lot,” it is a lot. What’s also changed is we don’t just onboard somebody and not have a plan. We have clear documents about what to do and how to do it. There’s this crazy thing called ChatGPT and you can plunk in there, “Create a 90-day training plan,” and in about five seconds, you can have it. There’s no excuse anymore not to have an outline of how you can do whatever it is that you want to do. All you have to do is not make an excuse. You go and do it.
What I’m hearing is the difference between you and a lot of people I’ve seen. Your story, in a lot of ways, is not unique in the sense that you had to downsize and make some quick changes. What is unique is the wisdom behind it, what you’re able to learn and even gain over the years but then what led you to this point. A lot of people were almost holding on. They were stubborn and rigid. They didn’t want to change. You quickly pivoted, moved, and adjusted with that flow so you’re still here today. That’s why you’re talking.
Let’s be clear. There are bumps and bruises. We had 1 quarter or 2 of losing real money and a lot of money so it sucked. It wasn’t fun at the moment. The thing about growing a business is learning the lesson. What’s the wisdom you had? I’ve been incredibly focused in the last 6 to 9 months on my morning routine and back on that hardcore. I don’t run crazy miles like you do but every morning I walk 3, 4, or 5 miles, I listen to a book for that hour and start with gratitude and focus.
We don’t have to have a fancy journal. You can write it down. I found the same thing with my team and our coaching students. We have to be intentional. The intentionality comes from not just what I’ve learned but I’m learning from other people. I’m being inspired by books, friends like you, and other people. Think, “What do I want? What do I need to do to get from point A to point B?” Do that work and then come back. Do the same thing. Jocko says, “Simple, not easy.”
You’re doing the thing that should be regular in everybody’s lives. It’s like Tony Robbins’ Hour of Power. You’re doing your version of that morning ritual. I’ve noticed in my life that that’s essential, especially if you’re a leader. If you cannot control your mindset, you’re going to make bad decisions the rest of the time too. You’re going to be reactive versus creative in that moment.
I heard a story earlier today. I was talking with another investor and they were talking to another investor in our circle. He mentioned how he was up at the office until 4:00 AM, then woke up again at 9:00 AM, and was right back at it again. Although I know he’s hungry and he’s trying to get after it and learn everything he can, that’s also a recipe for destruction. That’s a recipe for failure, in my experience.
What’s interesting is I hear a lot of times people say, “I don’t have time for that.” The real truth of that is I haven’t made it important enough and I’m not willing to change something else. I don’t set an alarm. I am usually up by 5:30 or 6:00. I go outside, whether it’s 100 degrees or 2 degrees. The crazy part is, what am I going to do spending that hour? I’m listening to a book or working on something in the business. I have time and opportunity to think. A lot of us start with the franticness of social media or our inboxes. To give yourself the time to be focused, be present, and spend that time is life-changing. You can accomplish more in less time because you’ve spent the time thinking about what you’re going to work on.
Did you notice you went to that before everything went to crap or was it after? When did that become a priority for you?
Truth be told, I’ve gone on and off with it. I struggled with this during that time going into, “Woe is me. Why is this happening? What do I need to do about it?” I was not perfect during that time. What’s crazy is, lo and behold, as soon as you get back in that practice, you put your mindset again. I say this all the time, “Wherever you put your focus is where you get your result.” If you’re focused on sucking, losing, and having things not go well, that will continue to manifest. Focus on, “What’s the problem? What can we do today? How do we fix it?”
There’s a thing called an open loop or a closed loop. You have all these things that are burning out there. They’re all open loops so we want to close them. How do we know what to close? What’s keeping you up at night? That changed for me. In the notebook I showed you, I put a couple of things, gratitude every day and then focus. There are not 52 things under this focus line. There are 3. Sometimes there are 2. That way, it’s like, “Every single day, I can do three things. There’s no excuse.” That made all the difference.
You’re starting to coach real estate investors right now. Tell us more about that.
I’ve been passionate about helping people for a long time because truly, real estate changed my life. I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve gotten to bring my wife home not having to work as a school teacher anymore. We homeschool our kids. We live in a cool place. Money is wonderful but it’s a tool and how we use it. We’re a steward of that tool. I’m still working on that every day too with intention. I have such a passion now for not just doing the real estate thing but I have conversations with people every single day who are in the place of, “I see you do this, Nathan, but I don’t know what to do.” They’re frozen in taking actual action.
I hired my coach and spent a small fortune on it to make sure when we work on our coaching platform and program, it’s not just somebody who’s paying money and hoping to get results. We have a step-by-step so simple and so clear that I could bring my twelve-year-old son and we could talk about it and he can understand. We want to make sure anybody can understand it. Like anything else I do in my life, I’m obsessed about how we can do that. I’m enjoying helping people start from 0 to 1, 1 to 2, or 2 to 5 with those new investors who have a passion for doing something but don’t quite know where to start.
If they want to follow you and learn more from you, do they follow you on social media? What’s the best way to do it?
Here’s a final question for you. What’s the number one mistake you’re seeing real estate investors make right now in the current market or the current state of their businesses?
There’s this belief that there aren’t deals out there to be had. I’ve talked to a lot of people who have said that like, “I can’t find deals. It doesn’t make sense. It’s not possible.” That is a failure of creativity, action, and relationships. I’ve done over 1,000 deals at this point in my life. Many of those were fix and flip houses over a very short period. We never once had a wholesaling direct-to-seller business.
That means we bought every single one of those houses from a person, not a seller but a wholesaler type or off MLS. The reason is that we made connections, built relationships, and talked to people. We have conversations and we let them know specifically what we want. I encourage anybody who’s reading who’s saying that. You need to dig back in and call every wholesaler on your phone. If you don’t have 30 or 40 people in there, you need to go get the rest of them to fill that 30 or 40 people. Build relationships, find out how you can help them, be in contact, and talk to them over and over. It’s going to change your life.
I never even considered that but that’s true. That creativity, experience, and wisdom that you gain allows you to see opportunity anywhere. That’s what sets you apart and makes you unique right there.
It keeps you top of mind too. You built a relationship and you’re making a connection like, “Chris, what’s going on? How’s it going this week? Have you got anything that fits in the buy box? I know we talked about it two weeks ago.” You’re like, “That doesn’t fit but I got this house. I don’t know what to do.” “Shoot it over. I’ll look at the comps for you.” “How long is that going to take me?” “Five minutes.” I helped them make $5,000, $10,000, or $20,000. They’re going to think of me next time.
That’s the thing. Everybody gets so caught up in marketing, advertising, AI automation, and everything else. That’s a person-to-person relationship. I’m sorry, AI can’t replace you there. That’s something that is gold that many people are forgetting to tap into. I love that advice.
Nathan, I appreciate your time. This is awesome stuff. Everybody, if you’re looking to be in the real estate game, it’s one thing to try to learn stuff from even this show or YouTube but it’s another thing to get it from experience. That is where the rubber hits the road. How do you take it from not just being a reader of the word but a doer as well by getting that guidance and direction from those who have been there, done that, and still doing it today like Nathan is? Make it a wonderful, prosperous week. We’ll see you later.
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About Nathan Brooks
Nathan Brooks is founder of Bridge Turnkey Real Estate, as well as the successful private Facebook group – Bridge Real Estate Investing Meetup Group. Nathan teaches people how to create a compelling vision and build a $1M+ real estate business.