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Nick Earls & Eric DiNicola: Hunting For Big Real Estate Opportunities

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Many people find dealing with city planners, zoning boards, neighborhood groups, etc and submitting plan after plan to be tedious work...perhaps work they would live to avoid. For Nick and Eric, it has allowed them to build their company to huge heights. What started as a small multi-family property turned into luxury condos in the Boston area has blossomed into $56 million of developed assets, including another $40 million in ongoing developments in the pipeline. They find opportunities where others may not see it. They hunt out new places to develop, underutilized properties, and ways to meet the demand for the growing population. Hear how these 2 friends have built and grown their company, Winterspring Capital from the group up.

 

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

  • Both Eric and Nick are founders of Winterspring Capital, a private equity firm based out of the Boston area in Massachusetts. They've owned and developed over $56 million of multifamily assets with another 40 million currently in the pipeline.
  • Nick is also the author of Millions Through Multifamily Development, as well as Passive Income Through Real Estate For Small Business Owners.
  • They have been friends for almost 20 years. They met each other in high school, always kind of had like a rebellious streak or didn't want to work for the man.
  • They’ve saved up and were able to see good opportunity in the condominium development space in the Boston market. That is how they started their business and became successful.
  • People can learn more about them thru their website. They’ve wrote a book about condominium development strategy and people can get a copy via winterspringcapital.com/development-book.

Timestamps

00:00 - Intro and overview on Nick and Eric’s career
05:54 - How they got started in real estate (e.g finding opportunities and funding)
22:14 - Their tips and best practices in moving forward their project or business.
30:17 - Talking about their time management.
33:16 - Their advice on how to get started a business.
36:55 - How people can connect to Nick and Eric.

 

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Full transcript here:

Mike Swenson 

Welcome to The REL 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. Welcome, everybody, we've got another episode of The Real freedom podcast. And today we're going to talk a little bit about more larger scale investing. So we've got multifamily investing, some larger complexes, condominium conversions, and different things like that.

 

Mike Swenson 

So today, I'm so excited to share with you we've got Nick Earls and Eric DiNicola on. And both of them are founders of winterspring, capital private equity firm based out of the Boston area in Massachusetts, since they started the company, they've owned and developed over $56 million of multifamily assets with another 40 million currently in the pipeline. And we'll talk about that. In addition to that, Nick is also the author of millions through multifamily development, as well as passive income through real estate for small business owners. So you guys definitely have a lot of knowledge to share. And we're excited to hear about it today. So welcome, Nick and Eric to the show. And why don't you just give us a little bit more information about you?

 

Nick Earls 

Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having us on, Mike. Just a background on us. Eric and I have been friends for almost 20 years now met each other in high school, always kind of had like a rebellious streak or didn't want to work for the man, you know, that sort of mindset, went our separate ways in college. And I got my real estate license in 2011. And I, you know, we're still in close contact, I said, Eric, I think this the way you know, we can we can buy a rental property and we'll we'll keep saving up money and keep buying these still way we can, you know, break out of the system. A couple years past, we are saving up money kind of going along that with that plan. And I saw a good opportunity in the condominium development space. In Boston, the Boston Market, a very unique market. It's one of the number one up there San Francisco, some less places number one some less place San Francisco is number one, but sciences. So biotech medical research, the hospital systems number one in the world here.

 

Nick Earls 

So the population growth here has been kind of explosive over the past 10 years. You're getting a lot of research grants, and different kinds of MediCal funding that's been awarded over the past 20 years kind of starting to bear fruit. And a lot of that's coming here. You know, Maderna, one of the vaccine producers is headquartered in Cambridge, right outside of Boston. It's got MIT and Harvard. So we have a huge influx of high income workers moving into the city. Traditionally, like when Eric and I were growing up, people would live in the suburbs that were higher income workers, but the populations become too high now that driving in be a commuters unrealistic, you're looking at, you know, double the commute time, you were 15 years ago. So people want to live in the city. And that there's also a huge supply shortage. Partially just due to geographic issues, that Boston's up against, you know, you get the the ocean on one side, and it's already kind of jammed in between a lot of other developed cities. But also, there's more importantly than that there's a supply shortage due to red tape, and bureaucracy and nimbyism, neighbors are very empowered, projects can be killed due to neighborhood groups.

 

Nick Earls 

So this has just led prices to skyrocket and some neighborhoods of Boston are the highest price per square foot in the country. So we saw an opportunity to get in there and be a part of that. Now, obviously, the barrier you have to overcome is getting these projects permitted, or finding a pre permitted project where someone already went through all those hoops of getting it approved. But we've kind of carved out a niche of doing that since 2015. Our first project was in 2015. We get projects approved here. And yeah, we've been doing it ever since. And that's kind of been our main thing. We're doing a couple other tranches of our business now. But that is a there's a lot of money to be made, if you can overcome those barriers.

 

Eric DiNicola 

You know, we had the idea early on. He's working up here I was working in New York City and private equity and it started and public equity trading actually. And we knew that you know, the paths we had started on one for us, but we had known that it was sort of just a means to getting to where we want it to be. And we got to the point where condo development we realized specially in our city was the new sort of thing that was going to propel us. And it didn't allow us at first to have assets that we held on to. But it allowed us to profit pretty quickly, relative to maybe other real estate investments. And sort of, at least get our foot in the door into what became over the last five or six years, a more and more difficult industry, it least in Boston to get your foot in the door.

 

Mike Swenson 

Now talk a little bit about about the early days, maybe the first, you know, couple projects that you guys did. Because I know a lot of people are always curious, like, how do you get started into that you're doing some larger developments. But what does that look like at the beginning in terms of seeing that opportunity, finding the funding and that kind of stuff for folks that might be interested in maybe going down a similar path? You know, in the in the future? How did you guys get started with that?

 

Nick Earls 

So our first project was, basically, it was kind of what you would think would be a classical flip. It was a really dilapidated to family or some other parts of the country. You guys call them duplexes? Yeah, but we call them two families here. And it was very dilapidated. And it was in a kind of an up and coming neighborhood of Boston, East Boston. And, you know, it could be purchased for a low price. But flipping it that could have made us a profit, but we saw, you know, the opportunity for even more profit if we added an additional unit. And the reason we saw that opportunities, because we were studying the zoning code. You know, as I mentioned earlier, the zoning code is restrictive. And then most projects need special approval. But every once in a while you'll, if you're looking really closely, you'll see a plot of land come on the market or being chopped off market.

 

Nick Earls 

At this point, it was on the open market, because we were rookies and we didn't have we had built up all those connections yet. But we saw it on MLS. And we looked at the zoning code and say, Hey, this center three families and own it's got plenty of lot size data third unit. So why instead of just fixing up these two small units, why don't we make three big nice units, luxury condos, because there's a demand for that there. And in terms of getting it funded, I think that's the biggest thing that would kind of trip people up, getting started into this. So there's a couple options. Number one, you're gonna have to save up money like we did, I think, if you want to go down this path, as you progress along, you're going to bring on investors, but for your first project, you know, it's hard to raise money, so you're probably gonna have to have it be mostly your own money. And partnering like we did, makes it easier.

 

Nick Earls 

So partnering and saving up some money for a few years. And then local banks often will fund with, with good conventional financing these sort of projects. So you got it, you want to look for a local bank that's active in the space of development, because they're, they're more flexible, and they'll look at on a project basis. And if you know your credits, good, and we're not talking immaculate, but you just you don't have any, like miss payments or late payments on your credit history and stuff like that. Local banks will consider you. But even if you can't find a local bank, you can go to a private lender.

 

Nick Earls 

You know, there's hard money lenders and other private lenders out there that this is, you know, all they do their bread and butter is these sort of flips or development deals, and they'll fund new people, they'll look at it on a project basis, as long as again, and there'll be more flexible with your credit, as well. But you know, if you don't have like a bankruptcy or something I can, maybe they won't fund you. But for most people, you can get some pretty flexible options from private financing, you'll pay a couple points more in interest. But if you're doing a profitable project, you know, you might you probably be able to take that on the chin and then your next job, you'll be able to go to a bank and you'll make even more project profit.

 

Mike Swenson 

Yeah. So then you were able to take that that two unit two family. Is that what you said

 

Nick Earls 

two family, yeah.

 

Mike Swenson 

So you added on an addition to that building to create it to a three family. And then after that we're able to take that project to the bank or to a lender and say, Okay, we've done this one, we've got this one under our belt. Now, will you help fund the next one?

 

Eric DiNicola 

Well, we actually we went to a conventional lender from the start to acquire that so we bought it as its own individual, you know, a normal acquisition loan with 25% down, like anyone might buy a house with the intent that hey, look, this is what we're going to do. And also we're also going to need construction financing. So that was a separate loan or separate plan, eventually it gets wrapped into one loan once you start construction, but as a separate loan that was 100% financed, so we put 25% down on the property, we bought it, we owned it, we were making monthly payments on that two family at the time. And since we didn't need any variances through the Zoning Board of Appeals in Boston, we are building something that fit within the code. It was just something that Nick found and sort of saw an inefficiency that this lot wasn't being used to its highest and best use.

 

Eric DiNicola 

We were able, because of that fact, we were able to draw plans and immediately apply for our permit, which you know, you don't get that day, especially in Boston, but you certainly get much quicker than if you needed variances and had to get approvals to make a bigger building than is allowed and all that. So we immediately start construction on it and say, Okay, we start, we got the entire inside, knock everything out, completely got it to just kind of an open shell, it cost us say, you know, $30,000, to do that, we go to the bank and say, Okay, we need to draw $30,000 on our construction loan, they come out and they say, okay, great, you guys did the work, they released 30,000 of our construction loan into our account, so sort of reimburses us for that. So we're then at that point, just to continue with kind of the structure of how that work, we're still paying interest on the original acquisition every month, we own you know, 25% of that original property.

 

Eric DiNicola 

And then now we're paying interest on the 30,000 we drew from the construction loan. So that continues to build up. And then at the end, you know, we've drawn the construction loan in full. So those interest payments on a construction loan portion at the end will be much higher than that first month. So we have the acquisition interest and construction interest, then we sell three individual units as condos to three separate owners, they you know, form their own condo association and agree to how you know how to maintain the common grounds and all that. We pay off the all the loans from that same bank, and then the rest, you know, goes to us.

 

Mike Swenson 

It's a smart way to do it to be able to buy the two family and then yes, sell them as individual units. That works out well. So okay, so then after after that first property, what did you guys decide to dip into next.

 

Nick Earls 

So in the first like year and a half, we were just kind of rolling our own money. We rolled them into two separate projects. And we were just doing the same sort of thing. We were finding lots where it was an underutilized parcel, like we found a lot outside of the city, we actually tied up two projects while we were still in the middle of our first project. Because you know, we were just trying to grow in kind of an ambitious way. So we tied up this project in a city outside of Boston, Somerville, another, you know, affluent, highly populated, densely populated city, rather. And that one was a small single family, in an area where there's demand for these big kind of like townhouse style, larger condominiums, luxury condominiums, you know, over a million dollars apiece, and you could build three of them there. And it was just kind of this little shack.

 

Nick Earls 

So he tied that one up for a low price, because again, it looked like, you know, maybe you go in and flip this, but if you're reading the zoning code, you see there's even more opportunity there. So you could get those, you know, pretty competitive prices if you're paying attention. And then we tied up another building a couple of months later, also in East Boston, that one was our first project where we got involved with politics, because we didn't, it wasn't a case where we studied the zoning code, and it said, Hey, you can build, you know, extra here. It was a two family and a three Family Zone. But we ended up building seven units. So that was a whole new animal. And that kind of that project really kicked us off. Because, you know, as you can imagine, if you're taking a parcel, you're buying a two family or two units. And then you end up building seven, there's a lot of profit you've generated there if you're able to get that special permission. So we can talk about that.

 

Nick Earls 

That was kind of a it was like a six to eight month process for that where we had neighborhood meetings and meetings with civic groups and meetings with a local politician. And then we eventually went to the Zoning Board of Appeals. And basically the strategy there is we're it's an urban infill project where, again, you know, we're in a densely populated kind of neighborhood. We're buying, you know, a lot where a building already existed and there's already buildings on each side. So what the neighbors are really concerned with is you just putting up some monstrosity that doesn't fit in with the neighborhood and blocks their shape. and all that, we're really good architect, that's basically his focus is trying to figure out how to blend it in to the point that it doesn't really actually look larger than the surrounding properties. And it's, you know, it's just tricks of, you know, optical tricks or whatever.

 

Nick Earls 

Because they are actually much larger. But this particular building, you know, ended up getting approved for 70 units. But if you're going down the street, it just looks like a classic like Boston, northeast style, triple decker, three family property. But actually, it's on a long, narrow lot. So from the street, it looks normal, but you go back, back, back back, it's a very long building. Yeah, so we fit all seven units in there. And those were luxury condos. And, again, like, an important thing that we look at, just to give additional information is the price per square foot when we go into these projects. So in our first project, we were looking at, you know, selling those units for around $400 a square foot, which was pretty, pretty good at the time, just like a year and a half, two years later, by the time we finished this second or third project where we needed special permission, we were already getting $600 a square foot in the same neighborhood.

 

Nick Earls 

So that can kind of show you the the level of growth and demand that's been going on in Boston, specifically, especially in these up up and coming neighborhoods, people are chasing the affordability. And unfortunately for them, you know, that cause the price to rise and turn, because there's more demand there. But we look heavily at what's the difference between the price per square foot we can sell these things for, and the cost per square foot that we can build them for. And if there's a large gap there, and the acquisition prices in that market aren't too crazy. It's an easy way to kind of pencil test to see how much profit you can make. So that's we saw, you know, in East Boston specifically, there's a lot of opportunity there with a big difference between the sell out and the cost of construction.

 

Mike Swenson 

Now on that property going from a two family to seven was that it? Was it a complete tear down and then you rebuilt it or you just modified the existing building an add on.

 

Eric DiNicola 

Yeah, as a complete tear down, that's pretty much our, you know, modus operandi now is just, you know, ground up new construction, it's actually easier to just knock a building down and start fresh. I mean, in when you're gutting a building, if it's older, oh, it's constructed in a solid way, you can get it pretty quickly. But like, for example, we have we had almost two years ago now, we started a very historic renovation, where we couldn't knock it down as a historic building is three family. It took us almost three months to do the interior demolition of that because it was so tedious.

 

Eric DiNicola 

Whereas, you know, we knocked down this to family and the project you're referencing and one day, so you knock it down. I mean, you have to have crews they're spraying water into the air with with big hoses to prevent dust from traveling. And there's there's a lot of sort of safety mechanisms that precautions have to be in play road and control is a major thing in Boston, which neighbors now have really be sort of tuned into and become much more vocal about when they're talking demolition. But we for the most part, we just knocked down and build fresh A it's just easier, like I said and actually quicker. And then B it's it's brand new construction. So when you go to sell it you do kind of have that bump slightly on the price per square foot.

 

Mike Swenson 

So you kind of move from from those buildings. Now you're you're looking at larger buildings. You've got a condo that you're developing. You're you're converting an office to an apartment here. And then an affordable housing project. Which Which one would you like to chat about next? Because I kind of want to talk about what's what's happening now for you to see where you've grown.

 

Nick Earls 

Yeah, so I mean, in terms of condo project, we're pretty excited about that one. It's in Brighton which a neighborhood of Boston, right outside Cambridge, five minutes to Harvard and MIT. This is a 32 unit $25 million development, all luxury condominiums going to have nice amenity spaces, like a gym and kind of co working lounge, nice roof deck. Really nice finishes, you know, the top, top appliances and tile and all that sort of stuff. Again, like I said earlier, life science industry workers, workers in the university system workers in the medical system, graduate students, you know, foreign graduate students from wealthy backgrounds. So a nice mix of buyers a lot of demand for these buildings, not much supply hard to get them permitted as we talked about.

 

Nick Earls 

So we're starting construction on that one very soon. And we just closed on it last week. So that one's we're pretty excited about the office conversion we're also pretty excited about so that one's kind of a different animal, where we identified a parcel in a satellite city of Boston, a more affordable city about, you know, 3040 minutes from Boston, Scott Lowe, and lots of lots of increased demand for people to live in these types of cities now, because the price the cost of living, and the Boston core is just completely out of control for you know, normal middle class people, you know, due to all these wealthy people coming in, you know, the cost of living is, is enormous. So people want to live, you know, further away. But as they said, you know, being a commuter is tough as well. So the city like this, it has access to the commuter rail, it's just close enough where commuting, still possible. And it also has its own strong economy, one of the largest hospitals in the state, one of the largest universities in the state.

 

Nick Earls 

And what we see here is there's these main corridors, right in downtown old historic manufacturing city, where there's a lot of underutilized parcels where the zoning says you can only build offices there with first floor retail. But in reality, good city planning would be to have mixed use with retail and residential above apartments. But the zoning code hasn't been updated in decades, it's kind of a big political process to do that. But if you talk to the city planners, they actually support you changing them, you just need a special permit to do that. So we're in the process of doing that right now. That'll be 31 units. Again, kind of more luxury, but far more affordable than the Boston, it's going to have a nice amenity space with Jim, still gonna keep that first floor retail. So that's something we're working on right now. And I'm pretty excited about

 

Mike Swenson 

now how do you figure out who to talk to, you know, what, what needs to happen? I know, for a lot of people on the outside looking into this, they're like, gosh, it just seems like a nightmare. Because you're, you're dealing with the city, you're dealing with associations, you're dealing with variances, and all that. And I think, you know, probably that's where the opportunity lies is because most people don't want to have to deal with that. You know, what, what are the tips that you guys have? Or you know, maybe some best practices that you've learned along the way of, of who to talk to? What kind of what your order of operation is to get this approve to decide you want to move forward with these projects?

 

Eric DiNicola 

That's actually a very good question, especially as we now have gotten into these other sort of areas of our business where something's different, like the office conversion in a different city. We almost were in that boat ourselves with that not too long ago. Okay, where do we even start with this? How do we figure it out? But as far as sort of the main business and development and going through zoning and all that? Say, the first step is once you find a property that you think has potential, maybe you see precedent for it, maybe you see a 10 unit building down the street, and you say, okay, they got variances to do that, why couldn't I, once you're kind of at that stage, you probably want to hire a zoning attorney. Because, you know, zoning is essentially law in Boston, it's a certain type of law related to property.

 

Eric DiNicola 

So you have specialists who deal with that, and they know the zoning code, they know what type of relief you need. And it's not necessarily rocket science, like we figured it out ourselves. At this point, anyone can really go in and look at the zoning code. But when you're dealing with the city and the neighborhood groups, everyone has a zoning attorney, they kind of present on your behalf and say, These are the variances we need. They'll kind of guide you and maybe give you best strategies. And you might figure out some of your own on the way and say no, you know, that's not going to work for our business. We need to do it this way. And you know, they'll listen to you if you have the right one. But that's kind of step one. Get a zoning attorney, talk with him about what you want to do and strategize, because you do need strategy when you're dealing with these neighborhood groups in this sort of political process that happens before you eventually get to the Zoning Board of Appeals and present your case, what you need, you know, you want your zoning attorney to do that part.

 

Eric DiNicola 

But when you're strategizing, for example, when I say that something like you know, we the the project, we're talking about earlier, seven units, we got a three Family Zone replaced the two unit. The neighbors didn't like that to start. We would have liked to do 15 units, you know, and that would have been really bad. So for the neighbors, I mean great for us, but you go in and you kind of start Like a very simple strategy might be okay, get your zoning attorney first figure out what you want to do. And you might say, okay, look, our bottom line would be six units here. Otherwise, based on the price, we have to pay for the existing two family on this parcel. It can't work otherwise. So you go in, and you say, all right, they're not going to agree with our first proposal, lets go in with, you know, 11 units and say, Hey, we want to do an 11 unit building. This is what it'll look like. And they're gonna say, whoa, whoa, whoa, you know, I don't think so.

 

Eric DiNicola 

So you say, Okay, what are your guys suggestions, and you work with your zoning attorney, and you bring your architect on board, because you also that's kind of a step by overlooked, you need an architected sort of design, this building would be very rough at first, you don't have to give them a lot of money to do a quick schematic. And it's going to be changed so many times that they don't want to put a ton of effort in at first they'll do a very rough schematic. And then so you go before maybe your first group or me with the neighbors, and you say, okay, here, I want to do an 11 unit building, the zoning attorney will say these are the variances we're going to need for such a building. They'll all say, no, no, this is too big.

 

Eric DiNicola 

So then you you know, you and your architect will say, what would you guys want to see? And they'll all say, I want to see a two unit building. It's a two family zone. That's all you can do. Now. Okay, well, let's try to meet in the middle here. So then you say, well, let's, we're going to go back to the drawing board, guys take your suggestions, and let's meet in two weeks, and then you come back and you say, Okay, so we've redesigned the building. And you might have purposely made it sort of extravagant and ridiculous at first so that when you come back for this step, it looks like you've made a lot of concessions. And you say, Okay, well, now we have a nine unit build, is this getting closer to what you guys want, and then they probably still not going to be happy.

 

Eric DiNicola 

But they always think and see you're kind of working with them, then you are you know, it's not a facade, you are trying to work with them. But you also have a goal in mind as well. So then it's just kind of back and forth, continue the process, get to your Zoning Board of Appeals, you have your final construction drawings at this point, they are architected, then you present your case, this is all our evidence, we met with the neighbors 50 times these people support us these people don't this politician supports us they don't, can we get these variances and then they'll kind of vote on it. But that's kind of a very holistic overview of the process and where to start specifically getting a zoning attorney, getting an architect in deciding you know, what your strategy and sort of bottom line is, and how you can go from there to hopefully above your bottom line.

 

Mike Swenson 

And at what point does the the purchase of the property happen is that you're buying it on speculation, or once you started to nail in, okay, this is how it's going to look, now we can move forward with this purchase, where does the actual transition of ownership happen in that process?

 

Nick Earls 

There's a couple of different strategies we use for that. So the number one kind of the most traditional strategy would be, you have a strong due diligence period, before you close on the property where you do all that research ahead of time. If it looks like it's tough to tie it up any other way that will be the route we'll go, but we actually prefer to have a permanent contingency, it's just hard to get people to agree to that. Usually, where you'll be able to get people to agree to a permanent contingency is if they it's an off market deal. And they weren't intending to sell. And it's just you go to them, and you say, Hey, I'm not gonna buy your property today. You're not even intending to sell it. But I'll actually pay you above market value, if I can enter this contract with you, and buy it in a year after I get approvals.

 

Nick Earls 

So we actually have a project where we did that, and we didn't have to buy it, we didn't have to take that risk. We had to take some risk with the early, you know, preliminary architectural drawings and the hours our zoning attorney would be at the meetings and stuff, but it's minimal cost compared to buying a project and then, you know, falling on your face. And then the third step, and this is almost a prerequisite for us to get involved. Is there SB a plan B. So if you somehow got denied, or you couldn't do those units, that you wanted to do that in excess of the zoning code. Does that by right project by the zoning code still make enough money? Or does it make enough money that you can pay back your investors or breakeven and what whatnot, we won't go after a project if there's no plan B. So, you know, we've had projects where we're denied, but because we're so conservative and almost like flighty about that, like fight or flight instinct, or like, run away from a bad project, if there's, you know, we've had we've gotten denied and then we have to build like three units when we expected to build six, but we're still walking away from that project with a couple 100 grand in profit, which is, you know, pretty good.

 

Mike Swenson 

Yeah. Now how much of your time are spent pursuing deals that end up not working out? Is it? You know, one, one out of 10 you're completing or kind of how deep do you dig into a deal? That ends up not working out?

 

Eric DiNicola 

I'd say if one out of 10 would probably be good. I think we probably spend a lot of time when you say, Nick on deals that just something I mean, sometimes we'll we'll start analyzing a deal, like eight in the morning, and then all of a sudden, we're going through, oh, we forgot this and this, and then it's 5pm. And that's all we did all day only to find out, Oh, we didn't think of this key component, no way to make this work. This is a complete waste of time. And so we have the mentality. Alright, well, that wasn't a waste of time, we learned something from that we do really tell ourselves that every time but I'd say it's probably like, I don't know, even as high as like one out of 100. Seems like we have so many that we just pass up. Sometimes it's instant. You look at and you say okay, it cost this much. Let's look at some comps, what are condos selling for in that area? Okay, they're selling for this much right nearby? Okay, nope, can't work. There's just no way that could work. You know, we could figure it out quickly. But sometimes it does take a long time, many hours of looking at something and then you realize that no way, let's move on.

 

Nick Earls 

The preliminary underwriting on these sorts of projects is very intense. You know, it's, some people say, I want to do a quick 10 minute underwriting. And maybe you could pull that off on like a value add multifamily. I'm kind of skeptical about that, to be honest with you if you're really being responsible. But with these sort of projects has so many layers, you know, you got to look, what's the precedent in the neighborhood, and Ryan, what's the zoning code, say, and then you get into the numbers, and there's so many layers to it. And that's why, you know, we've kind of built up a team, we've got Eric, myself, we've got seven full time employees in our company, and another good friend of ours since we were kids working with us as well, Kyle, and he's, you know, he's helping us with the underwriting.

 

Nick Earls 

And we've got a virtual assistant that kind of puts in information into a spreadsheet for us, and then we'll go in and fill in. Because before we built up that system, we just be kind of spinning our wheels all day like looking at deals and you know, that just can't work. So we have to be focused on kind of running things. Now that we have so many projects going on, but if you have the capacity to build up a team, you can just keep underwriting those deals and the ability to look at 100 deals and only accept one. It's kind of a privilege, because that allows you to be really conservative and strict with your projects. And, you know, we've never lost money on a project. And it's because of how conservative we are. So it's definitely, you know, a good approach.

 

Mike Swenson 

What, what's some advice that you might have for folks that are looking to, you know, somebody's like, gosh, this, this sounds awesome, I want to be able to do this. How do we get started? Is it going back to start with the two family stuff and kind of work your way up? Or what what would you recommend for folks?

 

Eric DiNicola 

That is one row and that might be the one with the you know, lowest barrier to entry, something like that, it just start a little smaller? I would say and I think Nick mentioned in the beginning don't don't be afraid to partner or taken even outside investment capital, it's obviously hard to go to someone and say I've never done anything, why don't you give me some money to do this? That's it's, that's you know, an issue everyone always brings up how do you get your foot in the door. And that's a real issue, I would just say same because because of the potential long term ramifications on your life and the financial security, something like this could bring you and your family save what you can at the beginning just save try to partner at the same time and try to find a deal that there's a big inefficiency that would allow you and that's not easy, I know but they're there where it allows you to get in at a very low dollar value but turns around even if it's not a ton of money at least a multiple of your money in some capacity.

 

Eric DiNicola 

But those things are kind of the specifics to a deal but then as far as like the mentality goes just take in everything as a learning experience and take in as much as you can watch what other people are doing like week when we first started there are some kind of you know, peers if you will guys who are doing similar stuff to us and that's how we saw Okay, look at this. This is going up what are they doing? We talked at them we met with them, they're similar age to us. Some of them now we've you know, surpassed if you will and that competitive some have far surpassed us and our saying okay, what did they do to get to that point let's let's do that. So definitely don't think you know it all and really just take As much as you can from other people as possible, you know, those are kind of just specifics and key, you know, mental exercises you can do to get started.

 

Mike Swenson 

Nick, what about you? What do you think?

 

Nick Earls 

I think that is great, because my go to answer is just always keep learning, you know, just like Eric said, have humility, but also have confidence at the same time. So have the humility to say, that guy's doing even better than me, but have the confidence to say I can do it too, I just, I need to, like, see what he's doing and model, you know, or what she's doing. So look at what other people are doing. And balance, you know, a hungry appetite for learning and research with an ability to take risk, don't get analysis paralysis. And also don't jump into something without doing any homework. But, but I'll say from our experience, you know, we'll research stuff and get a good solid understanding. And then we'll say, alright, we got to just jump into one of these sorts of projects, you know, maybe it's an affordable housing job, which we didn't get a chance to speak above or doing one of those, research it and we think, okay, I kind of get this and then you jump into a job. And it's obviously going to be a little bit different than you like read on some website or heard from some other person's experience secondhand, the best way to learn is to jump in. So I think research, don't be irresponsible, but at a certain point, jump in, take the risk, and just have confidence in yourself. Keep learning.

 

Mike Swenson 

Awesome, that's great. You guys, there's a lot to uncover there and in what you guys do, because those deals are so intricate and detailed. You know, for people that want to learn more about kind of your path and and what you guys have done, how can they get ahold of you? Or where can they go to learn more?

 

Nick Earls 

Yeah, our website has a bunch of articles written about all the stuff you know, we've done in our careers, winterspringcapital.com. I've got an e book that I wrote about the condominium development strategy. You can get that at winterspringcapital.com/development-book. We got a couple other ebooks on there under the investor guide section. We're also very active on Instagram at Winterspring Capital can also check out Eric and I on LinkedIn as well. Feel free to add us.

 

Mike Swenson 

Well thanks, Nick and Eric for coming on. Appreciate all that you guys were able to share.

 

Nick Earls 

Thanks for having us.

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