Grant Warrington - Millionaire in 4 Years


4 years is what it took Grant Warrington to become a millionaire from real estate investing, once he started. His journey started with limited knowledge and no money, much like many of us! He quite his 24 year construction job to go full-time into property management, overseeing 800 units and 100+ rehabs. Today, he and his wife personally own and manage their 41 unit portfolio. He now is a contributor for Biggerpockets and has over 50,000 subscribers on social media as he teaches people how to find, buy and rehab small apartment buildings.

In this episode, you will be able to:

  • Master the art of starting your real estate investing journey with confidence.
  • Uncover the hidden benefits of investing in small apartment complexes.
  • Learn effective strategies for uncovering off-market properties to give your portfolio an edge.
  • Explore the power of content creation to elevate your real estate investing game.
  • Discover proven tactics for scaling your real estate investment portfolio to new heights.

The key moments in this episode are:
 00:00:00 - Feeling Controlled in the Construction Industry
00:06:43 - Transition from Single Family Rentals to Small Apartment Investing
00:12:27 - Benefits of Apartment Investing
00:14:11 - Finding Off-Market Deals
00:15:42 - Implementing Seller Financing
00:18:39 - Slowly Turning Tenant Base
00:22:56 - Content Creation for Real Estate
00:25:33 - Building a Brand and Attracting Opportunities
00:28:00 - Leveraging Social Media for Business Growth
00:28:48 - Connecting with Grant Warrington

Follow Grant 👇









🎧 Apple Podcasts: 
🎧 Google Podcasts: 
🎧 Spotify:  

👉 Facebook: 
👉 Instagram: 
👉 TikTok: 
🏠 Minnesota Real Estate: 

Grant Warrington
I hated. I was a construction worker, right? So I punched a time clock, and my boss decided how much money I was going to make that week, if I was going to have to work the weekend, if I was going to have to work 8 hours that day or 12 hours, and they would tell me, at the end of the day, you got to stay four more hours today. I hated that, bro. I mean, I cannot even tell you how bad that still burns inside me that someone else controlled me.

Mike Swenson
Welcome to the REL Freedom show, where we inspire you to pursue your passion to gain time and financial freedom through opportunities and real estate. I'm your host, Mike Swenson.

Grant Warrington
Let's get some REL Freedom together.

Mike Swenson
Hello, everybody. Welcome to another episode of REL Freedom, where we talk about building time and financial freedom through opportunities in real estate. I'm your host, Mike Swenson. And if you want to get started on your real estate investing journey, check out our website, freedom through That's, help you with articles, videos to watch to get started as you go, and like most investors, typically start out with limited knowledge, limited money, and build and grow from there. And that's what we've got today in our episode, talking with Grant Warrington, formerly in construction, quit his job, got in on property management, and then doing rehabs. Now focusing on small apartment investing and would love to talk about the strategy and the why behind that. Also has a quite a big following on social media. Biggerpockets has done a lot of different things, and so would love to just kind of chat and talk about you and your experience and how you've kind of come along on your journey. So welcome to the show, Grant. We're excited to have you.

Grant Warrington
Yeah, thanks, Mike. I'm excited to be here, man, that's so funny, the intro, when I listen to you talking about it, I'm like, and it sounds so easy in the intro, but I'm still close enough to the beginning where I still know how hard it is for people to start and get going. So it's just funny listening to that. I'm like, man, that was not that easy, but it sounds good on paper.

Mike Swenson
Well, and people are looking for the magic bullet, like, what do I have to do? And the path ebbs and flows. It changes. You might be in one asset class, you might be doing one thing, but the key thing is just getting started, doing something. You're going to learn and adapt and adjust and continue to hone in and kind of find your niche and where.

Grant Warrington
You want to go, yeah, 100%. It's consistency. I mean, you're, you're so right. People dm me, you know, on Instagram all the time. I respond as much as I can to everybody and that's it. Right? Like, you know, what's the secret, right? And it's like, yep, doing something, starting and being consistent. And that's really the secret. That's it.

Mike Swenson
Well, and another, another analogy that I heard that really hit home with me was they talk about, if you think about it at a college course level, right? You've got your hundred level courses, your 200 level, 300, 400 level. The reality is, is you might be trying to find the 300 level answer to your 100 level question. And so it's a little bit of, you know, they always say like, no man steps in the same stream twice because the man is not the same man and the stream is not the same stream. So you may have to hear things lots of times and you may be at a different spot in your journey to where that same piece of advice actually hits and resonates with you to be able to do something. So, yeah, there's so many different variables at play. Why don't you just talk a little bit about your early days, why real estate, why investing and how that kind of started for you?

Grant Warrington
Well, how it started, I hated having a boss. I hated, absolutely hate it. And when I'm talking about it now, man, I can feel it in my chest just talking to you about it, like, and I haven't had a boss in five years, I think now, but I hated, I was a construction worker, right? So I punched a time clock and my boss decided how much money I was going to make that week, if I was going to have to work the weekend, if I was going to have to work 8 hours that day or 12 hours, and they would tell me at the end of the day, you got to stay four more hours today. I hated that, bro. I mean, I cannot even tell you how bad that still burns inside me, that someone else controlled me. That's what it is. It's control. And they had complete control over me because I had bills to pay, I had to go to work, I had to do all these things. And they decided, no, you're going to be this successful, or no, you're going to be this successful. And I couldn't stand it. So I decided in early two thousands, I'll try to make this quick because there's a lot to it, but real quick overview, early two thousands. I thought, I'm going to invest in real estate. I've always been fascinated by it. I never went to college. I didn't have anybody that owned real estate. I didn't know anything about it. I had no millionaire friends or family members. We're all blue collar. My dad was a crane operator, my grandfather was a crane operator. I was a crane operator. That was my destiny. And being a crane operator, though, I'm like, I need. I need to change. I cannot. I can't stand having a boss. Started by. I bought a course, Carlton sheets, I don't know if you've ever heard of him, but he was back in the day, was cassette tapes, right? So I bought that on a late night infomercial. I listened to zero of those cassettes and I went out and I bought three properties that were given away mortgages in the early two thousands, and I took three of them. And this was before 2008. So fast forward, I had no education, didn't know what I was doing, had a massive drinking problem back then. And all of a sudden, everyone decided to stop paying rent. I didn't screen tenants properly. I didn't do any of that stuff. And a few years later, I had to declare bankruptcy. And I was done. That was it. My dream was dead. And I gave all the properties back to the bank. Luckily, I was the only one in it. No other investors, but it was over till 2014. I always knew I'd get back in it, but I was, you know, I was beat up, man. That really took a lot out of me. And 2014, met my wife. She was interested in properties, in real estate. We bought our first rental together. Ran out of money, got stuck. Um, we learned by networking and finding the right people how to get unstuck, move forward. We bought eleven units in two years. And we figured out right then, this is not scalable. Like, we're going to have to buy 50 single family homes all across southeast Michigan, where we were at to cash flow $10,000 a month. And I was like, there's no way I can do that. Work at my day job and rehabbing these properties and doing all this, I'm like, there's just no way. I just don't want to do it. So we were stuck again. And then we said, you know what? We're getting out of the single family rental rat race. And we're jumping up to small apartment buildings. And that was the game changer. And I just love to let people know, start wherever you need to start. We started with single families. That's great, but you always need to know, I need to level up, and one day I'm going to have to level up to apartments and then buy bigger apartments, you know, because there's a lot of people out there teaching you single family rentals, right? And I used to think that's how you're going to get rich. I'll own a few of these and I'm going to be a millionaire, right? And that's not the case. And the problem is people teach you this, right? But what they don't tell you is they've already leveled up to apartment buildings. They just forgot to tell you that the people that are teaching you this, so they realize too, like, oh, crap. There's not a lot of money in these single families because one major repair wipes out your cash flow and, you know, could be two, three years before you get that cash flow back. So, you know, fast forward out of that. Quit the construction job after we leveled up two apartments and was a property manager for a director of operations for a property management company. I managed over 800 units, did 100 plus rehabs, and just kind of built systems on how to find off market properties, how to vet property managers, how to find contractors, how to screen tenants, built all these systems. I give all this stuff away for free, like with checklists and things like that on Instagram, rantwarrington. They could click the link in my bio, your listeners, whatever I can do to help people. I got a course, too, if people are interested in coursing in or coaching. Right. I coach people through this process, but that's where we're at today. We've managed to move to St. Petersburg, Florida, from the Detroit area, and our life is pretty amazing today thanks to the work we put in over the last five or so years.

Mike Swenson
It's interesting to hear your story, and I tend to hear some common themes and other people's story that we interview where it's this kind of leveling up and scaling up thing. Certainly the value and the lessons that you learn on the early days helps you kind of pick where you want to be. But I do find a lot of people that start out with a single family or even the duplexes or small multifamily and then eventually get into those small apartment complexes because it's just there's a better economies of scale. You know, we talk about if you've got a single family property, either somebody's paying 100% of the rent or 0% of the rent that month, and if you've got even, let's just say, a five unit property you know, you could still get 2040, 60, 80% to 100% of your rent, depending on how many units are rented out. And two, just the economies of scale with the building, the materials, the maintenance. You know, you can really experience some benefits that you don't with some of those smaller properties. And yet those small properties are important to maybe help learn those lessons to get where you're at, or you decide to just skip it, right, to small apartments, but talk a little bit about, and even the lending side, completely different, right, because we're talking about commercial loans as well. So what are some of those key pieces that you found that those small apartments departments do have?

Grant Warrington
Well, again, like you said, it's the lending five units and above, that's what I teach people, five to 20 units. Now, you could take this up to 60, depending on, I mean, it's just below syndication, you know, is, is where I'm at. And, you know, I teach people the commercial, the commercial loans are much better because they, they're based off what the property does and not so much what you personally do, because we didn't have a huge balance sheet back then. We didn't have a credible amount of money. Our credit was decent. It was good. So that helped us. But it was great that the bank looked at that instead of our personal balance sheets. And the other thing, it's easier to buy an apartment building than it is to buy a single family house, like your own personal house in any house, the process is so much easier. And it's just funny to think that. But it really is, because the bank wants see what that property does. And then also with a single family rental, you know, the, the home is based on what your neighbor just sold his house for. Right? I mean, it's a comp. And with the apartment, you can really add value. We added like $200,000 worth of value in one month by raising rents. I think we raised 100 or $200 per unit per month. And it just jacked up the value on that building. I think we were two months into that, that when we bought that building. And it's just incredible what you can do, not to mention the depreciation. That's why when you hear people say, oh, I don't pay, I don't pay income tax, right. Everyone has that ability. I had that ability, too. So when people say, oh, rich people don't have to pay taxes. No. Anybody, everybody can take advantage of the tax code, right? I could when I was a construction worker. It's just I didn't set myself up to do that, that was my fault. So what I've done now is, right, I bought businesses, now I own apartment buildings, and now I can take advantage of that. So I just hate to hear when people complain about that rich people have all these breaks. You do too. You just need to do something to take advantage of it. So that's what we do. And that's why again, we pay zero in income tax because of these benefits, you know. And keep in mind, we also probably pay more in property taxes than just about anybody that you know. Right. We pay a lot in that. But the nice thing is our tenants pay that and, you know, we're still able to cash flow off that. So I mean, just all the benefits from apartments are just incredible. Not to mention, like you said, when somebody moves out, you're not sitting with no rent coming in. Thats one of the nicest things.

Mike Swenson
I remember the first time I talked with a commercial lender because like I said, working with investors as an agent, I started small and then worked up. And I remember there was a deal that we had and they were having trouble finding financing. Now this was actually on a four unit property. And some people dont realize you can also get a commercial loan on something less than five units, depending on the bank. But I remember talking to this lender and he was explaining their process and I was like, oh, so it's a common sense approach to a property, you know. Cause I remember my first rental property, we got married right as the crash was happening. And so our first townhouse, we bought, the value got cut in half. And I remember all of our neighbors and friends, you know, doing short sales or foreclosing. And I was like, well, I don't want to do that. I want to hang onto the property. So I ended up turning that into a rental. And I remember talking to my lender about the debt to income ratios and all that. And we bought a short sale and then kept that first property as a rental and that's kind of how we grew. But I remember thinking like, how do people even have more than two units? Because the debt to income ratio thing throws you off. And then I talked to this commercial lender, it's like, oh, that makes a lot of sense. That's a whole lot easier. And so that is a big piece that for those that have done it, you realize, yeah, commercial loans do have a ton of advantages that those regular residential loans don't have. And then to your point, if you want to increase the value of your property, either increase the income or decrease the expenses or both. And you can do that. So you're so much more in control of your asset. So.

Grant Warrington

Mike Swenson
Um, talk about some of the challenges, right? I mean, it's not a perfect thing. So maybe what are some of the, the challenges or the difficulties that you've run into with your properties and then scaling?

Grant Warrington
Yeah, for sure. One of the biggest things was no one was willing to help me. Like, how am I going to buy an apartment building if no brokers are reaching out and giving me good deals? Um, no one's helping me find these deals. Right. That's the biggest complaint you're going to hear a lot. You hear that no matter what, and it doesn't matter about the market, anything. There's no good deals out there. You're going to hear that always, if you're a real estate investor, you'll hear it in good times, bad times, it doesn't matter. People always complain about that. So I realized I needed to find my own deals. So I created a system how to find off market apartment buildings, and that served us well. We've bought 31 units off market, 20 units. We bought on seller financing, which is beautiful because you create your own terms with seller financing. So in this market, I teach people like, you need to create your own deals. You need to find off market buildings, target them, and, and work on seller financing. But I mean, we've, we've bought some properties that, like that 1st 20 unit off market I talked about with seller financing, we bought for 625,000 in 200 in 2019. January 20, 1916 months later we refinanced it. It was worth it. It was right in the middle of COVID So it was worth 1,030,000. We got a low appraisal on that and we refinanced and we pulled out $300,000, got a check back to us tax free because it's debt, $300,000. We were able to go out and purchase the next unit, which was an eleven unit. We found that off market as well. And that's really, just think of the BRRRr strategy, right, with the homes, right? Buy, rehab, rent, refinance, repeat. It's just that on steroids with apartment buildings. And that's what we were able to do to grow. And it's just really been a fantastic product for us now. It has been. Right now rates are a little high, so we're kind of just sitting back and we're going to see what happens before we make a decision on what the next step is with these properties. But you know, you're always going to run into issues, but I think that's the biggest one, is finding a deal and then knowing if you have a deal. So you also need to know how to, you know how to evaluate these properties. And I tell people $100 per unit per door. That's how I like to evaluate these. Now, it's, it's hard to just put a blanket statement out there because there's going to be, well, what about this? What about that? And, but that's a good way to look at it. And then I also like to look at it. Okay, if I can hit that and I can cash flow with that day one off, what they're, they have in place, what can I do to it in the future? Can I raise rents? Can I improve it? Can I cash flow more? And, you know, you, you want to buy things that are cash flowing. Especially a lot of people in 2019, 2020 were just overpaying and they were buying things that did not cash flow. And like any business, just ask yourself, do I want to buy a business that doesn't make money? And the answer should be no. So I think if people now in this interest rate environment can cash flow and can look at it that way and be conservative, you can always be buying.

Mike Swenson
I agree. It's. Especially now, it's a challenge. But at the same time, if you can get the numbers to work in your favor, you do have the opportunity to refinance down the road when it is more favorable. So you're still in control of that decision and to your point. Yeah, when I talk to people that buy apartments, I explain it just as like that. It's a slow flip. It might be a two to three to five year flip, but you're just basically going unit by unit as the opportunities present themselves. Some markets, you know, depending on the vacancy, you might be able to do that more quickly. But if it's a well occupied property, whenever those tenant turns happen, fix up a unit, raise the rent. Fix up a unit, raise the rent. And I know for our property that we are 25 unit that we have, within twelve months, I think we saw a 25% increase in rent. You know, it was just a little bit over time, little bit over time, get new units in, and then to that culture of the property starts to change a little bit as well. Cause you've got higher rents, you've got better quality tenants because they can afford that higher rent. And so it's just a slow three to five year flip versus, hey, we're going to take on a single family home and flip it in three to six months, 100%.

Grant Warrington
And that's. That's another issue, too. I'm glad you brought that up. It's slowly turning that tenant base, because more than likely when you're buying a property, especially, like, off market from a mom and pop landlord, they probably don't do a lot of repairs. They're going to. They're going to brag to you that it has long term tenants in place. Okay. When you hear long term tenants, I know you know this, but that's not a good thing. The tenants are living there because the rents are very low, and that's why people stay in places for 20 years. Renters do. Right. The rent's really low, which means probably what's happening. The landlord isn't doing repairs. So it's slowly in this little death spiral. And when you buy the building, you're going to have to figure that out. You're going to have to have a game plan or know how to implement a game plan to turn that over. Because these people, if rents are, um, you know, they were 490 on that 20 unit when we took over. Average rents. Now our average rents are, uh, 900, I think, um, since 2019. So the people that are paying 490 are not going to be able to afford 900. Right. So you have to have a game plan in place. And the other thing is, those people, probably because this was a nice neighbor, this is like my backyard where I live. Those people probably shouldn't have been living in that neighborhood. If that rent was that, if the rent was at market rent, they wouldn't be living in that building. But since the rent was so low, they are. So now those people are going to have to move out, or it just becomes something that could be an issue. And the other thing we implemented was no smoking in our properties. No smoking marijuana, no smoking cigarettes, anything at all. If you have your medical marijuana card, that's awesome. Eat your edibles. We have no problem with that. There's just no lighting up. And that completely changed our building as well, because you'd walk in there when we first bought it, it'd stink like weed and cigarettes, and we'd be showing it to nurses and things like that. And they're like, I can't go to work smelling like weed, like, I can't live here. And we thought, you know what? You're right, and you shouldn't have to smell like weed. So we implemented that strategy, and that has worked great for us. And now we got an awesome tenant base that appreciates what we're doing, and it's really nice to work with people like that.

Mike Swenson
Another key point that you mentioned was raising rents, taking a look at the neighborhood and seeing would that neighborhood support rental growth? There's a few properties that I look at where on paper it's a good deal and it's like, oh, rental rates are this. But the reality is if it's all rental rates in that same space of where you're at, if you try to increase, if the neighborhood doesn't necessarily support that, they'll be like, oh, you're charging 1000, I can just go live across the street for 800. So you might have trouble filling that. So you also have to kind of look at that neighborhood and see, can that neighborhood support the rental growth too?

Mike Swenson
Lots of great topics. I do want to touch on the content creation piece because you're spending a lot of time doing that. And so for somebody that invests and wants to continue to grow and maybe bring in partners or just attract a larger audience or things like that, kind of talk about how that content creation piece has grown for you.

Grant Warrington
Oh, for sure. That, you know, I love that part of it. What I tell people, too, if you're not looking to post things right now, still make videos of it, take pictures of it. I have content from three years ago where I just have a video of us doing a rehab or doing something and I still haven't posted it. But so what I'll do is I'll pull that video up and I'll just use my microphone, and I'll talk and explain what I'm doing over top of that video, and I'll post it. So I tell people, man, just record everything you're doing. And one day, you might want to build that, you know, and build your brand out. And I suggest that, because if you go to my instagram page, it's Aarrington, you're going to look through there and go, oh, this guy knows what he's talking about. I don't have to tell you, oh, I know all these things and do all these things. Like, who cares about that? I want to show you. And that's what I do on my page. I like to tell people, like, I'm the guy that teaches you from inside the property. I'm not the guy that stands on the sidewalk and points at it and says, I own that building.

Mike Swenson

Grant Warrington
But I never see you inside it. You don't know anything about repairs. You don't talk about any of that kind of stuff. So I like to be the guy inside going, here's the floor. Here's the problem we had. Here's the lvp flooring we use. Do we use glue down or click plank? Sherwin Williams is our flooring contractor. They do flooring nationwide. A lot of people don't know that. And here's how much it costs. I like to tell people that, because that wasn't there when I started out. The podcasts that were there that I listened to were, when you buy an apartment building, you need to put a dishwasher in. You need to put a. A washer and dryer in every unit. And you and I thought, that's what I'm going to do when we buy these apartments. My wife and I both, we're 50 50 partners in this. So we bought our first complex, and we're like, we're going to put washers and dryers in units. Like they teach us on the podcast. And then we went, oh, shit, that's not realistic. This is a 1965 building. Like, how the hell are we going to do that? First of all, there's no space. So it's just things like that. So I'm like, you know what? I'm going to make my content for me back when I got started. So that's what I try to do, just to make it easier for people to get going. I tell people our paint schemes. Here's, like I said, the flooring. We use the appliances. You can copy all that stuff. The sink we use, how we do a rehab, what we change out on rehabs. And that's why I started it. And you don't have to be that in depth, but if you do want to raise money, if you do want to attract partners, if you want to show people what you're doing, building that brand has been huge. And to the point of that, Grant Warrington reached out to me and he saw my content. Reached out. I've been able to meet him in person in Miami. I interviewed him live in his studio in Miami just because of my content. He saw my content also. He jumped on my Instagram Live. And for two minutes, man, it was, he, he endorsed me and what I'm doing. And I mean, I got nothing but respect for him and what he's done for me. And if you go to apartment buying, you'll be able to watch that video of Grant and I. That's for my online coaching and course program. But you can check that video out. And I'll tell you what I didn't know. I just was on Instagram Live and all of a sudden Grant sent me a message and said, hey, accept my request, you get a lot more viewers. And I was like, oh, shit. Okay. I hit the button and boom, there he was. I was like, wow. And he told everybody to follow me. You know, I instantly went up to 700 people watching on my Instagram Live. And I had like two to seven watching me. Grant joined, we had 700. And then 100 people followed me in that two minute timeframe. So, I mean, when you, when you tell people branding is important, it is, man. It's, it's tremendous. And the more you do it again, it's just consistently consistency over time. I've been consistent. I've been doing it for years, but consistent for two years. Every single day we post two reels and, you know, just started out with my cell phone and just me doing everything and now I got two vas and we're much more strategic with it. But I'm telling you, people will start to notice if you do that and you remain consistent.

Mike Swenson
And I think too, the benefit of that, like you said, is, number one, just being able to show, you know, what you're talking about. And then two, it's future opportunities. You never know what the future is going to hold. And even doing this podcast, like, I love making connections with people because, yeah, you never know what that future introduction is. Could be a lender, could be somebody sourcing properties, could be another opportunity to get into a bigger deal or a different asset class. And so, yeah, maybe you don't want to be the person that has a million followers, but still, posting on social media can help you build connections, meet different people, and be able to network and open up future opportunities for yourself. You know, if you're still that introverted person could care less how many followers, there's still a lot of opportunity in doing social media.

Grant Warrington
Agreed. And the other thing that's helped us, we bought a building that was not performing and we knew what we could do with it. So I put together a package of our rehabs in my videos and all that, and I send it to the bank, too. I mean, it's hard to argue with that. Like, here's the before, here's the after, you know, here's the financials, here's, it's like, wow, that's pretty impressive. So when they can see that too, I mean, it's just incredible what you can do when you do document all this stuff and then share it with other people. Maybe they can, maybe you can help somebody out there else out. And that was my point of doing it. You know, maybe I can help somebody.

Mike Swenson
Well, I know, Grant, you had mentioned Instagram, you'd mentioned the website. Any other places that folks can go to reach out and find you?

Grant Warrington
YouTube. Warrington I'm posting, I got over 1100 videos on YouTube. You know, post videos all the time on there, so you can go there, or again at Warrington on Instagram. Dm me, any, any of your followers, I'll help you out, I'll answer your question. You know, I can't write a back a book. I get a ton of people that dm me, but I will respond and it'll be me and I'll help you any way I can.

Mike Swenson
Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Grant, for coming on and sharing your story, and best of luck as you continue to grow in the future.

Grant Warrington
Thanks, Mike, I appreciate it, man, this is a lot of fun.



50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.