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After losing a fortune during the dotcom crash, Eric knew there had to be a better way to plan for retirement. He began to look for ways to earn income passively and to no longer trade time for money. After a few business launches, he landed on MartelTurnkey, a company that provides a way for the "average person" to invest in turnkey properties that he and his team have identified to be successful opportunities. He sold his house and all his equity to launch this venture, and in just 4 short years now is able to retire from his day job. In addition to that, he launched a book "Stop Trading Your Time For Money" as a way to help others learn the valuable lessons he's learned on his journey, so that people don't make the same mistakes he's made.
In this episode, hosted by Mike Swenson, we discussed:
00:00 - Intro and overview on Eric’s career
7:00 - The obstacles that Eric had to overcome
11:16 - How Eric found his partners in business
13:04 - The important things that he is looking for in specific properties.
14:47 - How the company grew
19:38 - Eric's journey of writing his book
27:13 - Eric's financial freedom journey
32:50 - Tips on running a busines
Links In This Episode:
Eric's Book "Stop Trading Your Time For Money": https://marteleric.com/book/
Eric's Company - Martel Turnkey: https://martelturnkey.com/
Eric's Personal Website: https://marteleric.com/
Eric's Investment Company: http://www.martelinvest.com/
Freebies From Eric: https://marteleric.com/giveaway
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Full transcript here:
Welcome to the real freedom podcast where we inspire you to pursue your passion to gain time and financial freedom through opportunities in real estate. I'm your host, Mike Swenson. Let's get some real freedom together.
All right, welcome, everybody to another episode of the real freedom podcast, Mike Swenson here. And today, I've got Eric Martell, and he's gonna share his story with you about finding financial freedom. It's something that he's very passionate about it. He's actually wrote a book about it, and and would love to share his journey of how he's done that through real estate has been a big part of that. So yeah, so Eric is the founder of Martel turnkey, which provides properties for people to buy for real estate investing to be able to gain financial freedom. And then he's the author of the book, stop trading your time for money. And so we're certainly going to talk about a lot of the topics in there as well. So welcome, Eric, we're so thankful to have you on if you want to just take a couple minutes and tell us a little bit more about your story.
Thank you for having me on the mic. Yeah. So I started that, I bought my first apartment building when I was 18 years old, I was still at the second year of university, and I had met a mentor that was just a, just a regular community college teacher, and he managed to build like a 36 unit apartment building. And that's just fascinating me, and then I want I knew from a very early age that I didn't want to be in the nine to five, you know, kind of scenario, I didn't want to only want to be in that in that group. And so when that guy when I was introduced to that real estate investor, I thought I better latch on to him and learn everything I can. And that's what he did. He basically mentored me into finding these properties. And so I bought my first eight unit apartment building at that time, and, but there was really I mean, I had no money, I had no money down, I had, you know, I managed to get like the seller to give me a second mortgage on on the property. And in those days, the the first the first mortgage allowed me to add the second mortgage the property, so I basically had zero money down, except for $75,075, check that I have to pay for the for the mortgage approval. So that that's about it. So I was pretty lucky. But then after that, I mean I didn't I was still studying at university I graduated worked as a as an actuary.
So and for those who don't know, an actuary is someone that specialises isn't the in mathematics of financial risk. So I've done that I've worked as an actuary for for a while and associate actuary and consulting. Then I went into high tech. And throughout this, this journey I was I wanted to do more real estate, but I was always in cities and situation because I had moved to another big cities and I was in the city, all the cities I was in, it didn't make sense. I couldn't invest, I couldn't find anything that would cash flow, or I would have to put so much money in for them to cash flow that the return that makes sense. So So I kept searching moved to. So I was working in high tech had done a sub stock options moved to California and San Francisco Bay Area. And in 2000, so just before the.com bubble burst. And so basically, it kind of wiped out of most of my stock options. And but even then I was with what I had left over, I was really trying to go and invest in real estate in San Francisco Bay Area. And everybody knows that market, not an easy market to, to invest in. And so yeah, so I said, Okay, well, I'm at that.com bubble, really kind of like, going to refocus my attention on what was important. So I wanted to be in control of what I was doing in terms of investing and managing the money, my money.
And then really, you know, when you put your money in the stock market, I mean, you're the CEO and the executive team to decide what to do with your money. And, you know, and then you have all kinds of other external things influences that affects the price of the stock, and so you're really not in control. And so I wanted to be in control, I want to have passive income. I tried all kinds of different businesses. You know, go my sauce company, local grocery stores, we did, we did all kinds of fun stuff. And, but eventually it came down to coming back to real estate, and we couldn't do it in in the San Francisco Bay Area. So we started looking outside the Bay Area. So that's when we looked at Memphis, for example. And this was our first property, our first single family rental that we bought distressed, renovated it and, and ran and rented it and everything worked out worked out great. And said, Okay, well, let's do two more, let's do you know, and then we kind of grew that way.
Initially, when we got started, it was just about us building a portfolio of passive income to achieve financial freedom. But soon our friends and families and people that other people that we knew, they say, Well, you know, what are you guys doing and blah, blah, blah, and then so then they wanted to invest? They wanted to have single family rentals. And that's when we thought, well, maybe there's a business here for us. I mean, we, you know, can we scale this up? I have my two sons with me that are also interested in real estate investing. And, and then, you know, so then we said, okay, well, let's, let's go for it. And so this is where we are now. We started Martel turnkey, a few years ago. And we're currently doing about 100 properties per year. But 10 a month, just lat just last month, last couple of months, we've actually acquired 12 properties a month each, and we've sold about 1010 a month. So that's a pretty good run rate right now that we're at. And pretty happy with that.
Yeah, so let's, let's dig into that a little bit. So when when you first got started? You know, how did you find these properties? Because it's, it's not where you live, it's not an area that you're familiar with. You know, I think a lot of people, what I like to highlight for people is, you know, we have, you know, as an example, a realtor here in the Minneapolis, St. Paul area, saying, hey, I'd like to get started into rentals, I don't know how, and here you are getting started in rentals, and in other states in multiple states to where you're buying, you know, 1012 a month, like, how do you find these properties in a state that you're not familiar with, and kind of what are the obstacles that you had to overcome to get to get a window in there and then to grow?
Yeah. So there's a couple a couple of things, I think, on one hand, I think it's very important to build a team on the ground that you can rely on, and having the right thing. So a property management company that's solid and aligned with your goal, a realtor, or somebody or projects realtors slash project manager, if you're going to do a lot of the rehab, if you do turnkey, you don't need that you just need a property management company. But for us, we wanted to find somebody that would do the construction and all of that. So you know, putting that team on the ground was was very important. So the other thing, too, that's that's great is in the United States is that we have access to a lot of data, something that you don't have in other countries that came from Canada, and it's very hard to do that in Canada, you have to work with a realtor that really controls that data, if you want to find comparable sales, you have to talk to a realtor to find out what comparables and then you have to rely on that person to give you the right after repair value.
Here in the US, we have access to all that data free, and you can do your own judgments as to what the after repair value will be. So that's great for that. But y'all we also, you know, coming from a math background, so I did a lot of analysis on all the mshs and all of that metropolitan statistical areas to find the right metropolitan area for us to to invest in. And so we kind of like we really went like very high level kind of like, Okay, what what is the ideal metropolitan area for a passive income strategy. While we want we want to do rentals, single family rentals, we want to have landlord friendly states, we want to have something that's growing at a sustainable rate, we don't want to have like a city or something like that that's growing so fast, that the demand for housing is too high. And then we overpay for properties. And so no I then an alignment also with the median rent versus the median house value, so that we have kind of like a one one, we can find a 1% ratio that we're looking for. So that's sort of so analysing all that, that's why we came up with a number of cities that really work out for us. And actually, I've published all that data in in a website called investor dash list.com. So if people want to go in there, so it's easy to search, it's easy to look at all the different criteria. And so, you know, I'm just sharing with everybody it's free. There's no no charge or anything like that. It's just for to help investors actually find the find it, you know, an area that would work for them. It doesn't work only for passive income. So it could be for other other passive other strategies as well.
So you first started in Memphis, and then I also see here you know, the cities that you have our Cleveland and Detroit and St. Louis. So that's that's where you're currently at in Do you have plans to grow to other cities right now? Are you finding that you're able to kind of keep the rates that you need the growth that you need? Just with those four cities? Oh, yeah.
I mean, we're planning to grow in the future. Right now, the Cleveland and Memphis area are solid. I mean, we've been in these markets for a while St. Louis, we were kind of we were in there before, we had some issues with our partner on the ground there. So now we have a new partner. And then we were moving forward with St. Louis. So we just, we just changed gear this more this month, with St. Louis, in Detroit, same thing. So we found the right person there to end the right neighbourhood to invest in I think Detroit is a little bit different kind of market. So but so we kind of just on the outskirt, of, of Detroit, and we have a very nice area there that that I think people are going to be excited about. So yeah.
So how do you find those partners? Is it people that you've known in the past? Is it business connections that you've had in the past in the cities, and you just ask them? Okay, who are some property managers that, you know, is that how that developed?
So we do, we also, you know, we looked at other cities, and the key is really the city is important, but the team on the ground is more important. So, I mean, there were some other cities that we were interested in, and we couldn't find partners. So and how we found partners is really contacting realtors, contacting property managers, property management companies, and then figuring something out, somebody that is going to be is going to be in alignment with us, they have the same goal, they want to grow there, they are hungry for, for growth, and they want to work with us and, and grow with us. So that I think that's very important. We want people that are very responsive. So if you talk to realtors, often, you know, you call them to get like to give them new businesses want to buy 10 houses a month, and it takes them three days to respond. So that's probably not going to work out because when you want something from them, then how long is that going to be? Now you want to offer, you want to buy 10 houses, it takes them three days. So it's going to take them three weeks to respond if you want something from them. So we want people that are super responsive, the people that we have on our team, they're they're just absolutely incredible. And we wouldn't be where we are today without without them. They're super responsive, they're successful. And you know, and our success is due to them. So that's, that's great. But that team on the ground is key. If you don't have the team on the ground, gone go in that market for you. So yeah, that's very important.
So what's important to then you so if you've, if you've kind of identified the city, you've got your team around you, what are the important things that you're looking for in those specific properties.
So in the So after we looked at the city, we also looked at the neighbourhood. So we're looking for B and C class kind of neighbourhood depth, you know, so we're looking for the manager, mid level, mid level manager or supervisor level, and then also kind of like the hourly workers kind of thing. So we stay away from the D class neighbourhood, we're looking for crime, low crime rate, we're looking for high level of owner, owner occupied properties, we're looking at at least like 60%, owner occupied properties. Because we want if if you rent the house to a tenant to a single family house to a tenant, and everybody there owns their house, they're more they're more conscious of the appearance of the house, the meet, they maintain their homes and all of that. And we wanted that and to feel at home so that they, you know, it's their house. Yeah, they're they're renting, but is their house for all all intensive purposes. So they can, they want to maintain, they want to be part of the neighbourhood and all of that. So that's kind of what we're looking for.
So then as you grow, if you're purchasing properties in neighbourhoods where there's a lot of owner occupied, I'm assuming eventually, you're going to have to keep growing further and further out, because you're going to buy your own your own houses that are now rentals in a heavy heavily owner occupied neighbourhoods. So for you know, let's just say Memphis as an example, since you've been there the longest. How has that growth happen? You're kind of now picking up neighbourhoods near there, or you're picking other areas within the metro or how does that how does that growth happen for you? Amazingly,
over time, what happens is that a lot of these single family rentals they were not for sale, like two, two years ago or three years ago, but now the owner is is tired of Have the property or the tenant is moving out or the pandemic happened and the tenant didn't pay for a few months or something like that. So then they are basically they want to get rid of the property. So there's, so there's a lot of shifts like that. So we're still finding houses on a regular basis in the very same neighbourhood that, that we've been buying for years, is just like, you know, they're not ready yet, when we first touched them. We've also had new strategies for reaching out to owners. So we have, we started a new wholesaling company called rocket offer. And they basically calling people texting owners and see if they're interested in selling their properties, they do about 10,000 20,000 texts to more contacts per day, trying to find properties for for sale. So then how
does how does the So now that you've got, you've got the properties, now you've got your, your company, so how could somebody, you know, partner with you through through your company now.
So the best. So basically, what happens is that our investors have people that are looking for, for financial freedom, they want to build that passive income portfolio using turnkey rentals. I mean, they will go on our website, and then they would start following us on the website. So I look at properties and say, I'm interested in buying a property, they will talk to some of our sales people and then they would be paired up to, to a property at one point, they make an offer, just like other properties. At that point, we get the ball rolling, we introduce them to to the lender, if they need, they want financing. Later on, we introduce them to the property management company, the insurance company, I mean, this is turnkey. So by by the end of the the process, they would we would close on the property and they will be a tenant in place. They're going to be fully financed, and all of that, and there'll be cash flowing from day one.
Now, these are properties that not properties you currently own. It's properties that you're out hunting that are active on the market, right.
So So, so these properties, we we buy them upfront, right? So we buy them, okay, so you own
them, you're selling them to the investor stress. That's right.
Yes. Got it. Because when we buy them, they're distressed property. So we go and renovate them. Then we we rent them out, and then we sell them to our turnkey buyers.
Got it? Yeah, that's that's a great solution, because so many people. Yeah, the objections you always get are, you know, I don't really know, the first steps. I don't know about financing. I don't know about property managers. And so you're really helping them through every kind of holding their hand. And not only that, but you've already taken the the rough property and turn it into a turnkey property. Right. Exactly. I
I mean, do we really cater to people that they're, they're working full time, they don't have time to go and figure out what market to invest in? Whether which house to buy finding a contractor, yes, you can have a higher return if you do all those steps, right. But you also have a lot more risk, because did I buy the property at the right price? Is the renovation? Okay? Do I have the right contractor? Is he gonna finish the right quality? Am I gonna get the rent I expected to be? Am I gonna have the is the house gonna appraise the right amount for me to refinance at the end, if you're looking at that whole burst strategy, it takes a lot of time to do that. And my recommendation is that, you know, you're working full time, you don't have time to do this right now. You will, but you don't have time right now. So just build your passive income portfolio, achieve financial freedom, or maybe like get to 80% of your living expenses covered by passive income. Then if you want to do this full time, then quit your job, do it full time, then you can you can do anything you want. After that you can do commercial mobile home park, you can. There's a lot of different ways to invest in real estate. Now you're going to have the time to do it. And so that's that's my recommendation anyway.
Yeah. Yeah, I think that's a good transition, because I wanted to talk about the book connects. So So talk to me about the journey of writing your book, you know, what, why did you write it? And then obviously, let's, let's cover some of the material in it, because these are all the principles of what I'm passionate about, as well as on on our real freedom podcast. So talk about the book a little bit, how did that come to be? And why did you want to write it?
So writing a book, I think is a very interesting journey. Because Initially, the book that I wrote that that publish is different than the book that I had in mind when I got started. And it was wet, the very interesting journey to do that. And, and to me, like now the finished product is really about like breaking down the barriers that are standing between We can have you today and, and you're fighting to financial freedom goal that you have. And so then that's kind of how it's organised. And I think that the first part is really around that mindset, kind of like having the right mindset and, and talking about that and doing the looking through the limiting belief, and doing a limiting belief inventory and kind of like working through that. I think there's a lot of limitations that are coming from our own belief that we need that need to be addressed. And I talked about my own belief, too, when I grew up. And so yeah, so we've talked about that. Yeah,
I think I mean, in terms of limiting beliefs, I mean, so I've been in real estate now for for almost seven years. And I feel myself talking more about mindset, and, and mental strength than anything, because that really is the battle. I mean, as you know, the the normal stats are with realtors, you know, 85% of them, don't make it to yours, because it's so challenging. And yet, what they're foregoing is the fruit on the other side, they think, Oh, this is too hard, I can't do this, I'm not making what I thought I would. But if they just Hang Hang with it, that benefits gonna come and now you know, you look at what you're doing to be able to acquire, you know, 100 properties in a year, that's, that's out there, you might have to go through year one, year two, year three to get to that. And so it's, it's, it's all about mindset. So I love that that's where it starts. Because for a lot of people, the limiting belief might might be I'm not worthy enough, or I don't have the skills to do this, or, you know, I haven't been in real estate that long, or I'm working in a different industry right now. So I can't do real estate on the side. And so so yeah, that's, that's huge.
And feeling uncomfortable. So a lot of people feel uncomfortable about making money or making too much money. Sounds art, weird to say, but that's true, and to feel feel uncomfortable with that they feel like that it's kind of dishonest somehow that they're making money, certainly. But the also the mindset too, is like, you know, what, what you know, now as a full time employee, you have a certain mindset as well. And then when you go and you are doing passive income portfolio, you have a portfolio of rental income, it's a different mindset as well, now you're a business owner. And, you know, there's a book that I read a while back called, what got you here won't get you there. And this is really about that shift of mindset saying, Okay, well, now, my boss is telling me what to do. And versus you know, I have to decide what to do I make things happen, I can't wait for anybody to to make things happen for me, if I want this to happen, go in that direction, I have to, I have to do something, I have to take action. So. So that's that's the that's about them, the whole mindset kind of thing.
Obviously, mindset is not set everything. So you have to have some kind of, and that's what I found, I found a lot of people also in in terms of strategy, or things that that they do is that things are not in alignment. So that's why I created a tool called like strategy strategy alignment tool. And basically, it helps people align their goal with the strategy that they pick, and then also kind of like the resources that they have available, and the market. So all of these things need to be aligned in order for it to work. And so I mean, this is why like, if you want to build a passive income portfolio, your goal is to achieve financial freedom, then you will look at passive income strategies, there's, you know, blah, blah, blah, and then so if you do single family rental, there's all kinds of things you can do bird you can do, you know, and you can obviously do turn key, but what you have to look at is also your resources, what are the resources that I have?
Do I have enough time to do that? How much money do I have to invest in that, and that these kinds of things, you do have the right skills or resources capabilities to do that. And then looking at the market, what are not every market is good for cash flowing properties, especially if you consider the amount of money you have to invest. So looking at the market on top of that, so all these things need to line up. And this is what I found out in my journey is that, you know, I would be in San Francisco. And while I I was very, very busy, I didn't have time to to research too much. I didn't have as much money as I needed to make some of these flips or whatever I wanted to do. You know, so I was in the wrong market. So I had to find a net another market where my resources were more aligned to that so yeah, so that's that's kind of like that's the the the part of it. And then of course there's the skill so that what I talked in my book as well as all the different skills that you need, in order to understand real estate and understand kind of like the real estate investment and stuff like that. And hopefully somebody can take this book and then Throughout and follow their own journey, and then complete at least one transaction using this book. I mean, that's my goal.
Yeah, yeah, that's great. I mean, so many people, I realise they're just, they feel stuck. And the hard thing is, is, you know, you, like you were saying, you know, what, what got you here isn't always going to be the thing that gets you where you're going. And so there has to be some sort of change there. And so you have to make a decision that, Okay, I'm going to have to execute in a different way, if I, if I do want this, this level of financial freedom, I have to think differently about my time to think differently about my money, think differently about, you know, needing people around you to help build, like you have, you know, a strong team, it's not you driving to Memphis and driving in your car around looking at stuff and, and then hopping in your car and going over to Cleveland, like you have to have those people so so when you line up that Domino, run, now you've got a strong company that's growing quickly, and, and you've been able to achieve, you know, achieve that freedom yourself.
Yeah, for the turnkey buyers even easier, because all you have to worry you get introduced to, to the property management company. That's all, that's all you care about. So you continue your full time job, you put $20,000 down to buy the property, we connect you with the lender property management, the tenant is in place, when you sign the contract, when you actually close. That's it, then you get your next $20,000, you can buy another property. So that so that works out pretty well for for people that are working full time. So and there's no need to, of course, they have to trust us that we're in the right market and all that. But we've been doing it for a few years, we have a lot of you know, we've worked with these people for a few years as well. So we know we've tweaked the system, we you know, we know the quality that they do. And that's why we're standing by them. Yeah.
So talk about your financial freedom journey a little bit. You know, you've had some ups and downs. And now you've been able to have some some ups here these last few years. But But talk about that journey for your financial freedom in your time freedom. How have you seen that grow? And then where do you see that going in the future?
Yeah. So I mean, yeah, we've we've tried like, since 2001 2002. I mean, we've tried all kinds of different ways to achieve financial freedom. So I don't know if you've seen that book, multiple streams of income. So that was kind of like the first book that I read. And they had like an acronym called the money tree, or something like that, to talk about that. So that was kind of my first, my first kind of thought to say, Okay, this is what I need to do, I need to build streams of passive income. And this is very important, because, you know, first of all, it's inevitable at one point, you're going to want to retire. And so you want to have, you want to start building that as soon as possible. And especially in the gig economy, you want to have, you want to smooth out income, you want to kind of like fill in the gaps in income that you have, even if you're a full time, full time employee, you never know when you're going to lose your job, and all that kind of stuff.
So the importance was there, like I knew it was critical for me to build passive income. And that's why I try all these different businesses, and came back down to real estate. And, and going out of state, but we couldn't have done that business without a couple of things, without iPhones, and with cameras and be doing being able to do like FaceTime with a realtor, you know, walking through a property, you know, we would have had to fly there, that means take time off from work, you know, and again, the time constraint is, is also again, kind of limiting what you can do. But with the phones, you can easily kind of step away, do FaceTime with your realtor or whatever, to find the right property and electronic signing, you know, again, then 1015 years ago, you can do electronic signing.
So now it's there. So now we can do that we were able to we're able to do that now. And so that's that's how we got stuck. We got started on that. And the first property that we got was single family rental and everything worked well. And then and then we bought two more and then so we built that way. And after I was working full time my two sons were kind of like running the business and buying the rentals and stuff like that. And and I was coming home every day and I was just like all I could see is the equity in my house. I own a house in Foster City. And I could visualise my equity, sitting on the couch watching TV all day. And then I was coming from work tired, you know working like my my 15 hours a day and then Just like that equity is just like sitting there, not doing anything. And then I thought, Okay, I have to, I have to get equity work for you. And this is again, we're talking about my mind shift again.
And this is the difference between kind of like the working class, and then the wealthy class is that the working class is trying to work their hours Work, work, work, work, work, and then save some money. And then the working class is trying to figure out how the equity how their money can work for them, so they don't have to go to work. So that's, that's the other mindset too. And so I was obsessed by that, that thing. And so we decided to sell our primary residence in 2018, I think 17. And we bought from with the proceeds the equity from that, then we would double down on Martel turnkey, we bought a couple of apartment buildings, and then the cash flow, immediately the cash flow was, you know, covering our living expenses. And so paying for the rent, paying for, you know, everything that we we needed. So I was finally instantaneously financially free at that point. And, you know, so you kind of have to decide, at one point, I said, Do you want to own a house? How important is owning a house for you versus owning your time? So I prefer to own my time before, you know, instead of owning some kind of like house that I live in that has limited tax benefits.
Yeah, yeah. And it really is yours. It's pushing a snowball, you know, down a hill, once you you get the snowball ball and you get it over the edge, it's just gonna start to roll and pick up speed and pick up momentum. And that's what you've done now by selling your house cashing in doubling down. Now that momentum is growing faster and faster and faster to where exactly, yeah, I mean, you guys will be clipping away at way more than 10 units a month in the future, because you've got you've got momentum behind you. You've got the equity that's growing and building behind you. Yeah,
Yeah, yeah, we're, we've been doubling except with a pandemic year, we've been doubling every year, or more than doubled every year. So we're planning to do probably like 2020 properties, or more next month, next year. So that'd be about 250. Properties, something like that. Yeah, that's great. That's,
yeah. And then you've got your sons working with you. And so they're, they're full time and my wife now. Yeah. It's a It's a family affair. Anything else that you want to share that we we should know about? You and your business?
No, I think the important thing is really about kind of like, well decide what kind of life you want to live. I think the, you know, and I think I'm very numbers driven. And even for me, like selling the properties, even though I was looking at the numbers, and I was just like, does that? Am I crazy? Like why am I doing this? Like, should I be should I be selling my house like, and yeah, and sometimes you have to make some hard decisions in order to get there. I'm not recommending that people start selling their house.
In Memphis and Cleveland, contact you and you'll buy it from ads, right? Yeah.
So but you know what I mean? Like it's kind of you have to think about think about the numbers your situation and really kind of like a weigh in that what what kind of life you want for yourself and your kids.
For anybody that's heard this that wants to get ahold of you wants to learn more about Martel turnkey wants to know more about your book, How can they find out that information?
So on Instagram, I'm on the E underscore Martel on Facebook, I'm eric.martell.ca. I also have my own website called Martell, Eric comm where you can find all these all my social links and all of that. And if you want a free copy of the of the Kindle e book, you can go to Martell Eric comm slash giveaway and you you enter some email information and I can send you a free copy of my ebook from Amazon.
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for coming on. It's been great hearing your story and thank you for sharing.