I was recently having a conversation with an out of state colleague who was venting his frustration a bit that we had been awarded a 192-unit apartment complex in San Antonio, while he felt like he was getting passed over. He said, “I’ve been looking and looking, but not seeing these deals you guys are coming across.” I thought to myself—of course you aren’t getting awarded these deals from 1,500 miles away. I’m in my markets daily– how many times have you even been here?
We are focused on buying deals in Texas, and it’s not just because I’m a Native Austinite. I recently wrote an article about why Texas is the best state for investing, and I know that my local familiarity and expertise with the cities we invest in gives me a leg up on finding deals. I believe being local also gives my investors confidence they are partnering with an expert in the area. In this article, I’m going to highlight what being a local expert looks like to me, and why its so important.
Every single day, I’m hitting the streets with the goal of finding opportunities and building relationships that will help us win Texas deals.
My goal is to be an absolute expert in the cities we invest in. It’s not enough to just be able to rattle of demographic trends, and cite interesting stats. Investors want someone that knows the neighborhoods like the back of their hand. That can rattle off the mascots of all the local high schools. That recognizes street names and instantly knows what part of town that’s in, what businesses are nearby and what development is happening in the area. In short, it’s to have a local’s perspective on the city.
Because I grew up in these neighborhoods I know these things. I am a local. I have family and friends spread across our markets. My wife and I both went to college in Texas. We own rental property in these markets. I grew up playing basketball all over the state. We see neighborhoods transition and remember what that used to be 5, 10, 15 years ago.
But more than just being a local and having deep knowledge of the city layout and street names, I’m also focused on building local relationships, in a way you can’t do from out of state or coming to town once a month. I’m going to lunch with brokers, property managers and other owners. I’m playing golf with them. I’m going hunting. We’re talking local sports. Local economy.
At the end of the day, real estate is a local sport.
I’m not here to say you can’t be a successful operator from long-distance and that you won’t get access to deals from afar. But I know it’s going to be a lot more difficult for an out-of-state colleague to outwork me in my markets and get the inside track on a deal we’re interested in. Just like it would be tough for me to try and start sourcing deals in Phoenix or Atlanta from here in Austin.
Consider what I’ve done in the last two weeks to build strong relationships and continue to be expert on our markets:
This past Sunday, after my family left the toy store, we drove around a sub-market that we are investigating some properties in–to see what the traffic and area looked like on a weekend. Toured 7 apartment complexes between Austin and San Antonio that are currently for sale, or will be soon. My goal for any given week is to get inside 3 complexes—either to mystery shop the competition or touring with a broker. Walking apartments lets me build my knowledge base about our market, gives me face time with brokers, and allows me to check out the operations of other operators and property managers.Attended a Happy Hour hosted by a brokerage group, where I got to talk with dozens of Real Estate pros and other investors interested in Texas.Had 3 lunches and an additional Happy Hour (I promise I’m not a lush) with local real estate experts, picking their brain about the temperature of the market, sharing ideas and again, building local relationships.Spent an entire day driving deals and spending time with a partner and San Antonio native to get his thoughts on various sub-markets we’re looking at.
I’m not listing these in order to toot my own horn, or to show you how great or busy I am but to show you what local expertise looks like.
If you are investing in real estate deals, make sure you are investing with an expert in the area you are considering. Make sure you are investing with a local.