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Ahmed Iqbal: Utilizing Partnerships With Others To Accelerate Your Portfolio

Uncategorized Dec 30, 2020

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Hear from Ahmed Iqbal as he discusses being an "IT guy" who "finds (computer) bugs for a living" to being a real estate investor who currently holds 28 units in Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, and Alabama totaling $4 Million, which have all been purchased in the past 5 years. He has leveraged relationships with others to create strong investment partnerships where each person brings their specific skills to the group. Because of his strong passion for systems and efficiencies, it has allowed each of them to grow quickly. He also discussed his desire to "soft retire" in 3 1/2 years to choose where he wants to spend his time after that.

In this episode, hosted by Mike Swenson, we discussed:   

  • How his career got started and his background in IT for 26 years
  • How he started off as a landlord in the Chicago area
  • Ahmed’s freedom belief is that personal finance mixed with real estate will lead to a path of freedom 
  • The importance of building soft skills to network and build relationships, and adding value to the people you're networking with
  • Ahmed learned a lot when transitioning into investing by listening to podcasts 
  • Utilizing debt in a smart way to increase leverage 
  • A few reasons to make capital expenses are that they allow tenants to live in a better place, higher satisfaction levels, attract better quality tenants, and lower turnover 
  • His first partnership consisted of 7 single-family homes and 1 triplex, who he met through a BiggerPockets group meetup
  • The second partnership consisted of a 3 unit building in Omaha and a 6-plex in Minnesota 
  • The third partnership was with a family member who was already doing investments. This included 2 single-family homes and 4 duplexes in North Carolina 
  • Each person involved in a partnership brings their specific skills, knowledge, and abilities to contribute to the group
  • Wants to have at least $7,000 a month in passive income 

 

Timestamps: If You Want To Jump Ahead To Your Favorite Part   

0:00 - Intro and overview on Ahmed’s career 

11:27 – How his first investment agent’s partnership grew and what that lead to  

19:34 - How his second partnership was formed 

22: 41 – How his third partnership formed 

27: 50 – How Ahmed and his four partners were able to get together and disperse tasks 

33:40 – How Ahmed moved forward from IT to investments 

37:40 – What Ahmed’s future looks like 

 

Links In This Episode:

Ahmed's Twitter: https://twitter.com/iq_twit

BiggerPockets: https://www.biggerpockets.com/

 

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Full transcript here:

Mike Swenson 

All right, welcome, everybody to this episode of REL freedom stories, we have a phenomenal guest to share with you today, we have a magic ball. And one of the cool things about him is, once again, he's not full time in real estate. He's actually in it. And he has real estate investments in many geographic areas around the United States. And so he's found the time to do all of this stuff, in addition to his day job, and so, so we're so excited to have you on here in bed. And if you want to just go ahead and introduce yourself and share a little bit about your background.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

Hi, everyone. First and foremost, Mike, thank you for having me on. So and that was a very kind introduction. So the way Mike has described, I would describe the same thing too, that my day job is actually fine, quote, unquote, software bugs, you know, I've been working in it for 26 years, even though graduated in accounting from college, and I went to a small state school in Minnesota, I do live in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. So as I said, you know, spent 26 years and it still am started out, as, you know, just a software developer, right now, I do find, you know, I do software quality assurance for a living, but you know, it took a long time, you know, where from point A to point B in terms of, you know, where I have, you know, the things that I do now for IT

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

As I said, you, you know, started out as a software developers, you know, then moved into, you know, the largest systems, packaged systems, like, you know, larger financial systems, customer relationship management implementations, that kind of that line of work actually took me out of state all the time, I was one of those Monday to Thursday, you know, the junkies, you know, what we used to dread Sundays, because, I knew that I would have to fly out to other states on Mondays, as Mike said, was able to transition into real estate, and it actually did not happen by accident. And I would be more than happy to, you know, take you guys through that journey.

 

Mike Swenson 

Tell us a little bit about, you know, for the folks that want to kind of understand your story, like, yeah, how does that happen? How do you kind of have, there's, there's some sort of stirring there, right, that's going to cause you or cause you to take action. So, so what was that in you that kind of said, Hey, I'm going to, I'm going to add this real estate piece on the side, and then walk us through that journey of how that got started.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

So as I said, I was one of those people who used to be an accidental landlord, I had my rental properties as, as early as 1997. There was a, there was a period of time that, you know, we moved out of state, you know, I worked in Illinois for two years for a company, for a pharmaceutical company, and I rented my townhome instead of selling it, and I loved the experience, I actually had, you know, my neighbor, my property manager, and he actually did a phenomenal job that he could have done, he done a better job than what I could have done in terms of, you know, being strict with the tenants, collecting rents in an improper time taking candle off of, you know, all the maintenance. And then, you know, say for example, we sold the property, you know, I think we sold the property in 2005. So, we actually got the highest offer for the real estate.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

But, as you said, you know, how does that transition happens, so after that, you know, I never thought I would be in real estate because, everybody worries about, you know, how do I take that call at two o'clock in the morning, folks, let me tell you that it's actually meant to, you know, remember, there are always challenges, there are challenges and you want to be 100% supportive of your tenants, you do not want to leave them on an island, you know, but let me just, you know, kind of backtrack, so that, you know, I can tie my stories. The way I got into real estate is actually a lot of people got into my years you know, I was always a number person, even though you know, I told you guys that she graduated accounting never actually I think I worked in accounting for a year and a half before I bought into it full time.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

So a lot of people got into my year saying that you know, what, you got to look at this you know, the rate of return you know, rate of return is phenomenal, never registered even though a personal finance enthusiast You know, that's something that I will talk to you at length about it too because you know, Mike, that's how we you and I reconnected because my passion is personal finance mixed with real estate, which should lead to a path of you know, freedom, right. So a lot of people got into my ears and I was one of those people you know, try to you know, that reverse you know, live a frugal life you know, try to do your best as much as you could save the trend to diversify you know, quote unquote, the reason you need to do that diversify, is that okay, you know, I have my nest eggs in financial markets, you know, now, you know, should I diversify?

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

Correct put every all my eggs in one basket, and so a lot of people got into my years but I still that did not register me. In fact, I am one of those persons who sold our home at all loss in the 2011 downturn, because, you know, the home that we live in currently, you know, we had a we had a Rambler we we had to rehab, and then you know, we sold our primary home, the only reason I sold our primary home because I did not want to be a landlord, I am that person now, you know, cannot stop talking about real estate candidates, you know, thinking about how I can improve, you know, our businesses and develop the business to the next level. And the way it happened is, I tell you what, you need to have the right people around you. And that's what happened to me, my first business partner is it has almost like a family member to me, he was our first realtor, you know, who had helped us, you know, buy this the home that we live in having the right people around, you always I think somebody like me, who is conservative in nature allows us to, you know, to, you know, to take cautious step and be intentional.

 

Mike Swenson 

No, that's fantastic. And the thing to to fill in for the readers or for the listeners is, you know, you You are a Dave Ramsey guy, you know, you've you've followed the baby steps as they've laid it out. And one of those pieces that they talk about is, you know, not necessarily taking on additional debt. And that's a spot where, you know, you you kind of have to agree to disagree in some regards. And so you're still taking what Dave says to heart in terms of, you know, kind of moving forward on the different baby steps. And yet, now you're starting to open up this, this area of Okay, I'm going to take on additional debt, through leveraging these these rental properties, right, and these investments that you have, so that was kind of a I guess one kind of key turning point for us is deciding that, okay, my financial future is going to kind of go a little bit against with what Dave talks about, and kind of forge your own path.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

I believe that that deviation is needed. And it's it's only warranted for people who feels comfortable. That's why I always say that, you know, Mike, I've heard you, I think your podcast is all about encouraging people to take the next step. I think that's how you describe it that you know, you know, really registered with being that you know, done is better than perfect, right? So when I think about that, you know, somebody who's going to start up, you know, I always say that, you know, it doesn't have to be real estate, it could be, you know, you know, freelancing is becoming involved now, because anybody can freelance you, anybody can develop a side hustle.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

But I always say that, you know, the first and foremost thing is that, you know, improve work on yourself a little bit first, you know, some of the soft skills, I was surprised to hear that, you know, you you consider yourself an introvert, I consider myself a functional introvert as well. But you are in front of, you know, a large organization every single day, you know, and I am too, I'm a product of corporate America, you know, so remember the corporate cultures, you know, so, but at the same time, I just the way I describe myself is, you know, that I'm a functioning introvert, but what needs to happen, though, is improved some of the soft skills because that confidence will grow, you know, look at some of the starting point for for me is that, you know.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

Let's say, for example, I am in real estate, I consider myself have almost zero mechanical skill, you know, so how does that how does somebody like me, you know, like, if I have to describe my portfolio, you know, the, the real estate that I have, that my portfolio is under ownership about more than $4 million, you know, I have, you know, assets purchase about 12, you know, I'm in, you know, as Mike said, you know, four markets in the States, you know, and my total unit count right now is about 20. That's three partnership. The reason I feel, you know, kind of composed and confident about taking the next step is that you know, I have worked on you know, some of my soft skills, you know, that you know, what are the things that you know, I am good at and I'm passionate and that's what I'm going to bring to the table.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

I do not have to become a plumber to invest into real estate and you have to feel very confident about you know, what you can bring to the table and that's what you got that will be part of you equity I think you you also talk about you know, the leverage that you bring in, but I think we started talking about you know, the the deviation from Dave's principles about you know, not taking on debt. And the reason I say that that's that deviation is needed.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

Because you know, say for example, if you go to the Dave Ramsey's principle or any personal finance person you know, Suzy Orman, it could be anybody everybody talks about you know being very intentional with your money when you teach yourself that skill you should be able to take that next step the way I did you know that which is that you know, let's say for example, I was in baby step seven which is that you know, paid off the primary home no debt whatsoever now having at least some debt on our primary home, which went into what invest buying investment properties. So I felt, you know, at these I gave myself you know, those leeway is that you know, what, I had been intentional, I had been smart with with our money that allows me to Now to take the next step and look at leverage from the number perspective not from any other, you know, burden or moral perspective that, you know, I'm utilizing debt and leverage to increase our net worth.

 

Mike Swenson 

Yeah, and I think that's, that's the key part is a self assessment, understanding, you know, what you can do and what you can't do. You know, the thing about a lot of Dave's principles is, he's not going to get you in trouble, right? Like when you when you continue to snowball and pay off debt, you're not going to go backwards, you're not going to have that potential oops, that happens, where, you know, you you get over leverage, and you buy something and all sudden, the the value goes down, and you're backwards. So his is a, it's a very smart method, and understanding calculated risks, right, like, you know, you have investments, you're taking out leverage, that can come back and bite you later on.

 

Mike Swenson 

And yet, if you proceed in the right way, it's calculated risks. And so it's, it's finding that balance and understanding that, you know, you may not be the type of person that goes and blows $20,000 in credit card debt on a weekend, like somebody else might, right, like, you kind of have to know what what you're good at, what's your lane and what's not in your lane. And I think you've assessed like, Okay, this is a calculated risk for me, and I'm willing to move forward, because I understand how I can still protect myself, or I can have an exit plan where, you know, I might minimize losses or something like that. Well said, Okay, so let's talk a little bit, because as you alluded to, you know, you have quite a few amount of investments here, and you talked about your first one, you know, really coming into a partnership with the agent that you use for purchasing your home, talk a little bit about that one, and how that partnership has grown, and what that's led to, in terms of an investment piece.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

Yeah, so my business partner, you know, actually heard from a friend of mine, that we, you know, we both have a great common friend that did what, I finally kind of turn the corners, and I'm now you know, is ready to, you know, invest into real estate, he actually brought a property to me that, you know, what, hey, you know, I have a listing, you know, this would be a good rental, you know, if you want to get in, and, you know, I can buy with you, or you can buy outright. And so I decided, as you know, being the cautious person, I bought it with him, you know, and then you know, so that was the first property that we bought in 2015,

 

Mike Swenson 

For agents to earn businesses to offer to buy rental properties with their past clients. So if you're an agent listening to this, great way to get somebody involved in real estate is just offer to go halfsies on a rental.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

Oh, my God, Mike, you know, you I should repeat that, you know, 1000 times, because, you know, my business partner, and then I we grew up to, you know, 10 units, you know, we kind of scaling that right now, just because, you know, because of the bandwidth and commitments, you know, that both of us we have, but you are 100% right, I have never feel a felt the pain of most what most of the investors feel, which is that, you know, what, I have this deal, you know, does this make sense, you know, because, you know, all of those leg work gets done, all I expected to do is just show up on the closing center and sign the paper papers. And because by that time, you know, so remember, that's the, the relationship that you can build with your customers.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

And then you know, and it has to come organically, by the way, I always say that your do that with organically one thing that I picked up from my business partner, that, you know, when he reaches out to anybody that he does not know, he does it without any kind of agenda. And, and I think that's what I will always caution that you'd want yet look it out from this, that you know, what, you might not get us any business at all. But you know, you might actually get tenfold, which is my experience. And then so, with that partnership, what had happened is that we can focus on a couple of takeaways from from that partnership, we kind of focus on one specific geographic area within within Minnesota within within the Twin Cities.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

I think the only reason is because from from day one, I think we decided we're going to self manage the properties. You know, the second part is that, you know, within having a cluster, you know, makes us you know, better self manage. And the second part is that, you know, the second principle that we instituted is that never to avoid, you know, making capital expenses because you know, what we found out and that you know, maybe Mike you can relate to it because you know, that's almost like the real estate broker real estate agent philosophy, that you know, you always want your property to move faster, you know, but you know, the way I looked at it is this, if you make you know, capital expenses, first and foremost, you know, you are allowing your tenants to live in a better place, they are quote unquote, their satisfaction levels goes higher, you will be able to attract better quality of tenants.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

And then so you know, you are not looking for tenant turnover at that point because you are not looking for Okay, I do not know when I go walk in, you know what I'm going to see because you know, remember so I feel like You know, keeping up the properties and making the right properties, capital expenses are very important. And those are the things, those are the two fundamental things that, you know, we have decided to do they onwards. So what had happened out of that, you know, for for the newbies is that, you know, you might not see a distribution on day one, you might see that later on, but in a better market, in Dynamics markets, like in the Twin Cities, you know, we have the benefit of not only cash flowing properties, but we have the benefit of appreciation.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

So, just keep that in mind that, you know, that's why property upkeep, not only for a precision is important, I always say that, you know, it's, it's better for you to have this as a business, that you know, what you have satisfied tenants, your turnovers are that much easier to handle,

 

Mike Swenson 

yeah, and you're really playing the long game, because you think about, if you are doing self managed properties, happy tenants that can pay that, like what the condition of the property, it just, it just helps you, right, the more you put out there, the more you get back, versus trying to do the bare minimum and not be responsive, there's going to be more turnover, they're not going to want to renew leases, you know, that kind of stuff. And so it's just going to feed itself. So you really focused on providing a great property that people are going to want to stay in now it just makes everybody's job easier.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

That is correct. and end up value. Again, you know, one aspect that I just wanted to throw out, it's kind of related, which is that, you know, in our partnership, so the value that I provided to my business partner and to our businesses that you know, what he has, at any given point, he knows, how are we doing? It's it might not be so mind you do not focus on ROI. And those numbers overall, you know, work on, you know, your end products, you know, so, but the value that I provided to, to our partnership is that, you know, at any given point he had these have a 360 degree overview of how the business is doing as a whole. And say, for example, how does that can help us expand. And that's why that's important.

 

Mike Swenson 

And I like to, you know, in this partnership that we, you know, we joked about as a realtor coming to a past client is Yeah, he he provided a lot of information for you, he provided a great property, he's, you know, ran the numbers, and then you get to provide what you're best at. And, and that was your, your initial property, your knowledge base was less, but now it's grown. And so, you know, it was a great starting spot for you. And then you've built that into other relationships with other people, but then to when you talk about, you know, knowing where we're at, at all times, that's because you're you're bringing in your accounting experience, right, and you're adding value to doing some of the books for some of the partnerships that you're part of.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

Right, right. And then also, you know, for, for anybody who's looking at, you know, to, you know, bring on real estate as a within their portfolios, one thing to remember is that, you will see all those stories in bigger pockets or anywhere, but you know, say for example, your first properties, you know, you're still, you know, it's, it's being tracked, you know, you have to, you have to cosign the loan, under your personal terms, you know, so it shows up on your credit histories. And, and, and I always say that, you know, you have to do that, but then you can, you can branch out, and then you can start building a relationship with a community bank, and then you know, start, you know, buying properties under LLCs.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

That's what I call them, the maturation process. And those are the things that I've learned through this partnership, by the way. So, remember, 2015, we bought, we were we had one properties, 2016 two acquisitions, and then, you know, that average is, you know, we've been, we had been doing two acquisitions, you know, do not get ahead of yourself, you know, and try to make something out of nothing, you know, it should happen organically. I always stress that, you know, what it should be let things happen organically. Yeah, you should, you should try though, you should, you know, say for example, you should look at properties, you should always teach yourself how to analyze all of those things. But, you know, the skills that I have, you know, learn, you know, safe to grow a business and make a business around real estate, you know, allowed me to, you know, then build my second partnership and third partnership

 

Mike Swenson 

Just to kind of recap here on the first partnership. So, you know, started with that first rental with them. Now, what, what is that grown into today, just so those folks kind of understand. Okay, partnership number one equals

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

Partnership number one equals seven single family homes and one small multifamily multi families with the you know, it's a triplex with three townhome style, you know, units in Minnesota.

 

Mike Swenson 

Yeah. Okay. So then let's, let's move on to the next partnership. So how did that come to be? And what does that entail for you?

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

The next partnership was formed actually through through a meetup, you know, So say, for example, you know, Oh, my, so there were three of us. We formed a partnership, but you know, the, the main partner that I met, I met him through a meetup, you know, bigger pockets meetup. That's where the soft skills that I have I talked about would come into play because, you know, I hear that real estate is involved, because if you go to any of the real estate meetups, it's always packed, because I think, which is rightfully so that, you know, people are looking real estate as as a as as almost like a diversification tool, which it should be.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

But you do not have to become a real estate investor just but you know, just because everybody else is doing that, do that, because it makes sense, the numbers always speaks for itself, your your your investment is always secured by, you know, something tangible, there are many, many pluses, then, you know, negatives, you know, so trust me, though, there are negatives, you know, so yeah, and you have to be aware of that. But the reason I'm saying that is that, you know, so I met my business partner through a meetup that he was organizing, you know, for investors in the Twin Cities. And that, you know, and, and what I felt like is that, you know, first and foremost, just go back to the Dave Ramsey principle, even though as I said, you know, talk about divisions, you know, on day one, you know, we, I haven't been buying properties with cash. But what I have, what I've seen that though, is in markets, like the Twin Cities, you know, I considered our entry point was a lot higher.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

So, the way I was thinking about is that, you know, what, how can I get into a market, which is as robust as the Twin Cities, you know, very decent, you know, job growth, you know, rent growth, all of these things are positive, you know, but my entry point would be lot lesser, and that's where, you know, our partnership has warmed, that, you know, my business partner, you know, he grew up in Nebraska, you know, he went to college, you know, he met his wife, Minnesota wife, in a college in Nebraska, he lives in the Twin Cities right now. But, you know, that's where that the partnership form. So we had, you know, quote, unquote, both shared objectives, His goal was that, you know, what, acquire more properties for me diversification of market, that was my goal.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

So we kind of came together. And then we had another partner who joined in who was the one of those newbies that you know, he wanted to diversify, he's and he's successful IT person now is looking at diversify, buying, you know, and owning some real estate into his portfolio. That's how that came about. And then, you know, we invested in our first investment was a property in Omaha, Matan Alma, we own a one of a building with three units. So that happened in 2019. That happened actually end of 2018. And then, and then the next purchase that we made was a six Plex, here in the Twin Cities.

 

Mike Swenson 

So that would be kind of partner number two, now you've got, you've got some investments in Nebraska, you've got additional investments here in the Twin Cities. So then on comes partnership, number three.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

Partnership number three, and that is, I would say it was not necessarily driven by our COVID. But it's, it's driven by an area of real estate that I wasn't very familiar with, which is flipping. So and then again, I always press on this issue that you know, what? partnership, you know, remember, if people listen to Dave Ramsey's podcast, you know, remember, he always says that, you know, partnership is one ship, that never sales, right? So, but, you know, for me, you are looking at an example, who has grown by, you know, partnering with others, you know, so, so I actually have a different view than Dave does. But you know, David's not wrong, you know, he's a lot more seasoned and has a lot more experience than I did.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

But, you know, the partnership that I put together was, you know, came from a family member, you know, and, and I have a lot of reservations about doing business with families. But you know, and the reason I chose this family members is that he is already has investment properties. So he had background in investments. And the reason I wanted to do is that, you know, he came to me with with this opportunity in North Carolina, he lives in North Carolina, and that, what, and then again, what's the attraction about North Carolina? Like, Charlotte, you know, Charlotte is, you know, everybody knows, it's like, one of those, hot ticket items, just like Austin was, and I still say that, you know, what, based on numbers, you if you're investing in Charlotte, I'm pretty sure there are opportunities, even in markets, mature markets, like Twin Cities

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

In Chicago, you can find deals and any given given day, but the reason I'm putting out, you know, a North Carolina and we're where we invest is is the trade areas, which is like, you know, the Greensboro, Winston Salem of the world. And so, my family member, slash business partner, you know, talked about doing a flip. So I say, you know, what, why not, you know, let me experience that, and then it's always important to have food, you know, boots on the ground, you know, that's why the story tells about my second partnership, I had this experience but if I don't have boots on the ground, I had somebody who knows a market inside out. And, and and the same thing happened with With North Carolina, so my family brought a member brought in two other person, one of them actually owned real estates, the other person was brand new.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

He was a corporate America, you know, desert or he actually went from, you know, used to be a manager for Wells Fargo decided that, you know, he's going to be an entrepreneur. So they, he's, he's a, he's a member, owning a restaurant with a few other people. And then, you know, he wants to try out now for real estate. And but he brought in a very strong project management experience that we have seen, you know, so the lessons learned is that out of the four people, you know, we all had different areas to contribute, you know, one of my business partner is very good at identifying deals, the other one is very good at walking throughs and estimation, you know, what, how much the rehab might look like?

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

So we tried, so I got into that venture, you know, in order to flip a property, guess what, though, you know, God always has different plans, so COVID to happen, you know, so the flip worked, and we were, we were running behind almost like a month and a half behind. So by the time we got done was January 2020. And then you know, and then we put the property out for service, North Carolina market, you know, so I was looking for a national lender, and what they said is that, you know, what, yeah, without a signed lease, you know, we weren't able to lend yet to you.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

So, as we were waiting for a for a tenant to be placed in, you know, because of COVID, you know, things are slowing down, we actually did not put a tenant into that home till mid May. But during this period of COVID, you know, not only you know, so we put our property into service, we bought a second property, a single family home that we are rehabbing right now. And we actually bought our third property that a single multi families are with eight units, that we can actually try it for the first time our syndication, which means is that you know, we are, we are going out and presenting our investment opportunities to outside investors.

 

Mike Swenson 

Wow, that's, that's quite the journey that you've been on with that. And so now to recap, that would be all of your real estate holdings that you have correct.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

I do have syndications where I'm a pure passive investor, I actually had done that, you know, my first syndication investment was I think, as late as 2017. You know, this was a syndication based out of Indianapolis, you know, and and that's indication opportunity was 51 unit apartment building, you know, and we actually exited, you know, the, we exited in 2019. It was experience was very, very positive for me, you know, very positive. So I have, I have a passive investment in syndication right now, which is in Huntsville, Alabama.

 

Mike Swenson 

So, back up a second. And so kind of talking about because I think this is interesting for people to hear that have multiple people in a deal together. Having four people in this last deal, one being, you know, a family member here. How did you kind of come together and kind of discuss the roles and talk about the plan? Did you? Did you set up a zoom call? Did you have somebody that's kind of playing the leader that kind of make sure that everybody's good, and helps communicate with everybody? How did that communication happened? Where you kind of all set? Yeah, we're all in on this together, and we're good to go.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

That is a great question, Mike. Because, you know, say, for example, just by difference, and my investment experience, my partners were different to be for many of the things, but what I have seen that though, is out of my part, out of the other three partners, actually, one was primed to be our leader, because, you know, quote, unquote, he had all the attributes. So I got in our meeting, so a lot of zoom calls, obviously, you know, remember, I'm not traveling into I actually haven't been to North Carolina, and look at any of these properties. But you're right, though, on day one, I always say that, you know, practice, you know, what you learn, you know, so remember, I, I'm a huge believer of transparency, because I always believed that university, for example, if you're not transparent, if you think that you know, you cannot hide and and take a, you know, fetal position, that, you know, problems will happen, you can never invest in real estate that way.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

So, you cannot anticipate, you know, oh my god, you know, I this can happen, you know, my, my note might get called, or I might get a huge, you know, you know, capital expenses, you just cannot fear for what, you know, what might happen, cross that bridge when it needs to happen, but what I'm trying to say that though is, you know, when I saw that, you know, I always encourage my my partners that you know, what, I propose that you know, what led this, you know, family member, my business partner, I thought that he had the strongest skills among all of us, and he's close, lot more closer to the actions. But you know, we have all chosen an area that we need to contribute to grow the business. So My area is as you can, as you can hear is that you know, quote unquote, numbers, and then you know, work on processes that is sustainable and repeatable, that's what I always say that, you know, create a process that can be repeated anywhere.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

So say, for example, involving community banks, you know, getting commercial loans, you know, we are actually doing the exact opposite thing here in Minnesota, because we are converting our commercial loans into 30 year notes, you know, 30 year loans, because, you know, your cash flow becomes a lot better, and then you have an interest rate as historic law. So, you know, take advantage of that, you need to take advantage of that. But say, for example, in North Carolina, so we are at ground ground level one, so, we are building relationship with the community bank, you know, say Say, say for example, and, and so those are some of those, you know, practices, I'm able to influence and, and adopt my business partners, you know, of course, indication, you know, remember, we actually had to talk to an SEC lawyer, because, you know, for private placement, you know, for all the newbies you guys.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

Remember when you bring in partners, you can actually do it through an LLC and LLC partner operating agreement should be sufficient, but when you are inviting other peoples to join, at that point, you are not selling equities, you were actually selling securities. So please consult with, with a lawyer, how to structure those partnerships.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

So those are the best practices that I was able to bring to my partnership, but then my other business partners, so we kind of divvy up, you know, how to get better at sourcing, you know, for for our rehabs, how to quote, unquote, create a roster of contracts that we can reuse, you know, those are the things that, you know, we as, as partnerships, we have given up, we actually have no holds barred, we actually have talked about compensation for the partners to, you have to talk about that, you cannot put that away, you cannot expect your partners to put an inordinate amount of hours and effort into partnership without getting compensated. So please put all of those things on the table.

 

Mike Swenson 

Yeah, and I think a lot of times, you know, people might feel like, okay, we don't want to talk about this kind of stuff, because it's like, you're still you know, figuring each other out. But But at the end of the day, look, you guys are, are in a partnership that very few people are ever in, I mean, it's one thing to to even have a co worker that you're you're working with, but in this case, like your money is tied up together. So this is very important.

 

Mike Swenson 

Like you have to talk about some of those situations, and you have to get that legally documented writing, because you don't want to just have some sort of handshake agreement, and, and something comes up, I mean, it has to be very clear, because that's, that's why, you know, a lot of people would advise not to work with family or not to do partnerships with people because it can get messy. And so what you want to do, then to mitigate that risk is have a plan in place and have it well documented. So that if things did happen to go wrong, you've got clarity,

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

Well said, Mike, even for one additional example that I was just gonna throw out to use that, you know, the reason I'm going through the syndication journey is that, you know, to, to create a vehicle for future in future for our family members invest without in heavy inhibition, because everything will be done, even as you said, everything will be done through documentation, everything would has to be transparent, because you are handling somebody else's money. When you're dealing with you know, you know, money that is not your zone, whether it's coming from family members or non family members, the fiduciary responsibility is the same, right? It is 100% the same. So you have to be, you have to have the commitment to be very transparent.

 

Mike Swenson 

So how did you so as we kind of take a step back here, and we think about your journey, there's a lot of stuff that you didn't know, when you took a step in, and yet you you rolled up your sleeves, and you figured it out? What advice would you give to people you know, because because it's a long way to come from, you know, working in it to now you're structuring these complex deals with multiple people and syndication and all that. So, how would you advise folks or what advice would you give to them to kind of how do you move forward step by step, not only from a financial standpoint, but from a knowledge standpoint.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

I would I wouldn't be listening to guys like you, you know, podcast. That would be my first that. My first advice that you know, that's how I started, you know, I started listening to podcasts. There are forums, you know, online forums, such as bigger pockets, but a quick caution to remember I keep on stressing that, you know, improve yourself soft skills. First, you have to be very confident, because you have to learn to be judicious because somebody who's starting out, they can easily be influenced, you know, and so how do you how do you take out a say, for example, even though it makes perfect sense.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

A podcast like yours might, you know, give enough enthusiasm for somebody to get into real estate, but I say that you know what, yeah, listen to guys like you. I think it's very important, but at the same time, you know, develop the skills to make your own decisions decipher that, yeah, I wouldn't be in real estate, but I'd be doing this, you know, say for example, buy and hold, or I buy just do completely passive, you know, you know, and then you know, developing relationships, you cannot, you know, you cannot move forward without developing relationship. So, a good starting point is that the way I started is that, you know, I listen to podcasts first, you know, then and because time is premium, right at that time, you know, before COVID, you know, used to use, going to work and coming back to work that time to listen to podcasts.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

And then, you know, remember, something that you are able to relate to, as I said, you know, for me, it was very easy to relate to, you know, bookkeeping and and doing I because I do all the bookkeeping for my partnership. So I, I had the responsibility that you know, what I'm always need to find things out how to handle certain situations. So there has to be some sort of trigger point, somebody might be mechanically very good, you know, they can, so they might learn how to, you know, lay down tiles, flooring, or whatever, you know. So you'll see that as long as soon as you know, somebody finds a hook into real estate, they will organically know will grow their skills in that in that avenue. Yeah. And that's what happened to me.

 

Mike Swenson 

I was gonna say, I still remember now that when you were kind of talking through this, I was remembering, you know, before I had jumped into investments, I remember going to the library and grabbing books, you know, but before the podcast days, I was like, Okay, I have to read some books. And, and the thing is, is I didn't even know if they were good books or not. But it was something right, it was you had to start with something. And then you can, you know, talk to somebody, which leads to another conversation that leads to another conversation. And, and, you know, the thing that we always train our real estate agents on is if they don't have the answer to the question, the best thing is to say, you know, what, I don't know, I'll find out, and I'll get back to you.

 

Mike Swenson 

So if you're not the person that could help, you know, like, if you came to me with a question, and I didn't know, I could go find somebody, or I could find somebody who might know that answer. And so that's how you, you know, you organically increase your knowledge and you increase your your networking skills, and meeting different people, it's just, it's, you know, we talked about success is sequential, you know, you move the ball forward, you move the ball forward, you move the ball forward, and all sudden, you look up, and you're 5050 yards down the field, you know, because you've taken one step forward.

 

Mike Swenson 

And so for you, that's a great example of, you know, when you when you first started, you didn't necessarily set out to, to do this, but one thing led to the next, which led to the next in it, a different twinkle in your eye, you know, came forth, and you pursued that, and then it led to somewhere else. And so that's, that's the cool part of where you're at on your journey. So you mentioned syndication, kind of moving forward. So if we look at, you know, where you're at today versus where you want to go, what is your future look like? So my, the way,

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

I'm thinking about this, now, Mike, is that, that I will, I will continue to acquire units, because I make it very simple. For myself, you know, at the end of the day, and this is something that I was just going to bring your attention back, when I have heard you that, you know, you talk a lot about, say, for example, the things that the common sense things that a person can do, you know, a say, for example, to shore up their personal finances, because that's, that's the key, though, to become a good real real estate investor, because I liked your ideas, that something that I was going to relate to is that, you know, you talked about, you know, out of sight, out of mind, in terms of your money, how you can save it, right, I do the exact same thing, too, I always make my disposable income as low as possible.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

So that, the less that we have to spend, you know, we will teach ourselves how to live with that, right? Because the reason, it's very important for any person who wants to start investing into real estate, they would have to look at, you know, first and foremost, where that initial downpayment will come, you know, remember, that's why saving is important, having, you know, a good debt to you know, debt ratio is important, because you need to get, you know, qualified for your investment loans. So, all of those principles are very important. The only reason I started saying that, is that because, you know, the, the simple formula for me is that, you know, what each of my unit has to provide at this $100 a month, you know, so I just make it very simple for myself. So, okay, you know, so what is my requirement?

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

So my requirement is, I'd say, you know, what, I would need to have at least $7,000 in a month in passive income. So how do I get that? Right? So I'm, so if I just use the simple math, you know, I have to have quote, unquote, you know, 70 units, right? If that works out that way, but, you know, I see the need of, you know, acquiring more units is important. But, you know, I'm thinking more about now, efficiencies, efficiencies is that you know, say for example, as a single family investor in moving into small multiplex, do you know, I don't know, you know what that path looks like? I'm thinking more like, you know, depending on property manager You know, property managers are your great partners. But at some time, though, in those relationships, you know, you need to put it on an economics of scale.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

So say, for example, when we are rehabbing, you know, are we buying all the, all the all the materials in one shot, you know, just put, like simple things into into perspective, you know, so that, you know, we can eliminate, you know, delays, you know, what have you, I'm thinking more about how I can bring in efficiencies in how we look at, you know, rehabbing properties, but it can be applied to, you know, how we buy properties, too. And then, you know, say, for example, what are the properties, then, you know, what are the criterias, and then, you know, this indication that we are going through, we have already purchased the property, we are, you know, rehabbing it, and we are kind of, you know, raising the, we are doing the race after the fact, you know, I like to see that, you know, what, we move the race a little bit upfront into the process, that, you know, we have a property under contract, and then we do the race, and then we close the, you know, we close the property, right, so, so those are the efficiencies that I'm thinking about Mike.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

And then but at the same time, though, you know, just to, you know, where we, you and I, we match, you know, personal finance slash, you know, I think your podcast is, you know, real estate leverage, you know, freedom, you know, so the overall goal is, you know, soft retire within, you know, in three and a half years, what I mean by soft retire is that, you know, remove the dependence of our paycheck, the other side of, you know, of the ocean might not be that great, because I have heard plenty of testimonials, you know, people who have retired and embrace fire at an early age, that, you know, they became, you know, completed the solution, not because of that it didn't work out, it's just because they could not figure out what's the next.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

As human beings, I think we have to figure out that, you know, I would not say that you have to keep on moving, you have to figure out that you are part of something, you know, big lot bigger than you are, and then so the way I'm creating this software Chairman, is that you know, what, at least remove the dependency that would allow me to do something, you know, I do not know what that something else is, but at least you know, looking at the first step, and that's why, keep on investing into real estate.

 

Mike Swenson 

Yeah, well, and that's the beauty of freedom is, it's the freedom to make the choice, you know, and so, if you if you wanted to, you know, quit your day job, you could, if you wanted to go down to part time, great if you wanted to move to something else, fantastic, but you get to truly decide what you want that next step to look like. And it doesn't have to depend on the financials of it.

 

Mike Swenson 

So many people who love what they do, they're like, you know, I'd love to do this till the day I die. Fantastic, you can do that you just don't have you in finding that freedom is really the key piece. So, so fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing. For those folks that you know, have a ton of questions about how do I go from, you know, what, what I was, from no investments to where you're at today. so quickly? How could folks reach out to you if they have any questions?

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

I will share my Twitter feed. That's I'm an avid Twitter follower, and also share my email address with Mike. Feel free to reach out I love talking to people and at least share my experience. I do not. I claim that I probably know 10% you know, but even out of the 10% probably, you know, people can pick out something that might be useful to them.

 

Mike Swenson 

Well, thank you so much for your wisdom. Thanks for coming on. We really appreciate it.

 

Ahmed Iqbal 

Thank you, Mike. It was a great experience.

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