Robin Binkley: Stewarding Other People's Money In Real Estate



The idea of using OPM - other people's money - to invest in real estate seems exciting on the surface. Yet there comes a ton of responsibility to have other people entrust their money with you to help them get the returns they desire. Robin Binkley is the Co-Founder of Real Equity Investment Partners, along with her husband Brett Binkley. After spending a quarter of a century as a nursing home administrator, it's obvious that Robin cares about people and serving their needs. Today she is a real estate investor in a 200 door syndication in Atlanta, GA as well as a Bitcoin mining fund. She is the co-author of the book Next Level Your Life and desires for women and others to gain financial independence and freedom through real estate investing.


In this episode with Mike Swenson, we discussed: 

  • Finding leverage when you're both working and raising a family
  • Why your current job is a training ground for your successful future endeavors
  • How Robin attempted to raise $2 Million in her first syndication
  • Transitioning from W2 income to passive income
  • How can you successful in real estate syndications
  • Creating wealth that goes beyond your children
  • Importance of teaching your children about financial education, investing, and growing wealth, since it isn't being taught at school
  • Why you need to have a personal financial statement to understand your current financial situation so that you can see the growth happening over time
  • Who you need to connect with in order to grow



0:00 - Intro To Robin's Career
3:08 - The Foundation Of Syndication
7:14 - Building Your Network
16:44 - Diversifying Syndication Investments
21:09 - Stewarding Other People's Money
24:40 - Generational Wealth
29:33 - 3 Quadrants
34:46 - How To Find Robin







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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

Mike Swenson
Hello, everybody and welcome to another episode of The REL Freedom podcast where we talk about building time and financial freedom through opportunities in real estate. And so today we're gonna talk about real estate syndication and kind of a different aspect of that to a Bitcoin mining fun with our guest today who is Robin Binkley. She is a co-founder of Real Estate equity investment partners. And really your background has been in the healthcare administration field spending 24 years working as a nursing home administrator and healthcare in the healthcare field for 30 years, you've been an investor in real estate, but really kind of got into it in a heavy way over just the last couple of years, you have a couple of syndications, you also co-authored a book next level your life which we can talk about that a little bit more. And you are based out of the Houston area in Texas. So welcome, Robin, we're so excited to have you on the show. Well, thank

Robin Binkley
you, Mike, I really appreciate being on your show as well. And just sharing my journey. I think I represent a lot of people who get into real estate investing slash syndicating. I had a W2 job, and my husband and I do have our syndication business, real equity investment partners, we established that about a year and a half, almost two years ago. But we have had a passion for investing in real estate for more than 20 years. And we were doing that with our own personal dollars. And that's a hard stretch. When you're both working, you're raising a family, I had three girls. And I did I was running a nursing home. So my job didn't stop at 6 pm. It was 24/7. And so you know, there's a lot of dynamics that play into that. One of the things that I learned though, as I had my prior life is I was I was having to be responsible for Financials. through that whole training time. So Little did I know how God was going to use that in my life, in my current, you know, so you never know, in your W two job if you're in customer service. Or if you're dealing with finances, or if you're dealing with taxes, or you're dealing with sales, how that skill set can be used, as you are growing a real estate business with syndicating? It really is a training ground. And so kind of look at as you're investing your personal dollars, and then you're wanting to grow that into being able to invest larger dollars. What is your job now? You know, what are you? What are you doing well now, and kind of mind shift it. A lot of what happened after I retired from my W2 job is I just decided that we wanted my husband and me together that we wanted to grow our real estate business. But still, at that time, we were not syndicating. I got into a couple of single-family homes. I was managing those. It's not my favorite thing. Some people love single-family homes, they've grown to that it's a great niche for them. But it's really not my favorite space if you will, but I still do that as part of our portfolio. We started then really growing our presence in the education. So we've always my husband, more than me has always been an avid reader of real estate investing books. But you have to really shift into the application and kind of attend some conferences. So we started attending some conferences, and we went on a discover bliss trip about three years ago. From there kind of got connected into the real estate guys, group, Robert Helms and Russell Grey, a great group for anyone who's wanting to get connected and learn about syndicating and it is applicable in any asset class. So we really got ingrained in that group. And that's really kind of where we foundationally learned about syndicating, you know people wonder, well if I get it in this multifamily conference, or if I go attend this, you know, whatever kind of conference am a really learning how to syndicate and so there's an art to syndicating. And so I would say go attend whatever it is you want to attend, but you also have to learn How to syndicate. And so if you have no clue, I had no clue. I didn't even know what syndicating was. I never heard that term before, until a couple of years ago. And so that's really where we started foundationally. And from that, we realize that to build this business, the syndication business, you have to build your framework, and that includes your CPA, you know, I had a great CPA, if I would bring something to my CPAs attention, he'd say, oh, yeah, that's tax deductible. But they would never bring information forth to me, because they were not real estate experts, they were not investment experts. So a CPA is essential. So we worked on that. And that really helps you define your investment philosophy. And so then the next piece of that, or leg is your legal support team. And so we had to engage a legal support team that worked collaboratively with our CPA. And fortunately, we were able to kind of mirror that. And to this day, we have quarterly meetings, all of us together, but monthly, I meet with my CPA, and then you want to be able to tie in, if you're, you know, have a wealth manager, if you've invested in the stock market, or whatever that might be, because everybody's got investments in different areas, tie that in as well. You know, you need to be a part of a team. And then, you know, there's all these other little pieces, you know, insurance agents, realtors, brokers, etc. But then they show only what has helped me grow my business has been that template.

Mike Swenson
Yeah, I think one of the things that are evident just in our conversation together before the show is just your care for relationships in your care for people and want to build trust with them. And so you know, I think that speaks to your background in health care and, and helping people and wanting to be a good resource to people. And so I can clearly see that already just in, in our time together, how important the relationships are for you. And so building a good strong team, networking, and building deep relationships with people to help you grow is really important.

Robin Binkley
Yeah, I'd love to just elaborate on that just a tiny bit. You know, as we really dove into attending just all kinds of conferences, networking and passing out business cards and making connections and building your network and doing all this. Sometimes it feels a little bit like speed dating. So when you come back, and you're like, Okay, I need to add these folks to my database, and I need to reach out to them. And I need to figure out what their investment philosophy is. You're just moving on to the next person, you know. And so what we've really backed off and been devoted to this year, is really fostering those relationships a little more heavily. I believe we really did that last year, and we didn't quite realize that's what we were doing as far as developing and strengthening those relationships. And by that, I mean, really talk to who's in your database, you know, texting them on, go to dinner with them. If you're traveling to a town and you've got a conference, make a concerted effort to connect, if you're going to similar conferences, make a concerted effort to grab lunch together, even if it's provided, sit together, chat, catch up, be an accountability partner with someone you know, but those are the things that we really did last year. But this year, we've really backed off a little bit on attending so many different conferences, and just really fostering and going deeper versus wider in the relationships that we have. Because you're going to invest with people that you care and trust, you know, and you're going to invest with people who you know, are investing in similar deals that you are. So if it's a deal that I'm working on, it's good enough for me to jump into, I want to bring my friends and my investment group along with me. And so that's kind of been the shift mentally, that we've grown into, it's not what happens on the immediate, you know, because on the immediate you're working to establish your team, you're establishing your mission vision values for your investment company. You know, there's a lot there. There's a lot of infrastructure, but simultaneously, you'll hear people say, Well, you got to be developing that network. Well, it's really hard. That's hard, you know. So true application really comes once you kind of have those things sort of morphing into place. But you've got to take a lot of effort on your side as a syndicator to really reach out and really get to know who's in your database. And it's been very, it's been very positive for us.

Mike Swenson
Let's talk a little bit about putting together, that first deal for you, identifying it, and putting together the other people in your life. Team, talk about your steps as somebody who has been an investor, but is new to syndication, learned and walked through that doing your first deal.

Robin Binkley
Well, I'm gonna give you some points there, and some of it will really resonate with folks because we were so excited about building our syndication team. And my husband and I are both pretty sociable. So we have a lot of friends, we have a lot of friends with deep pockets. But what I've so anyway, flash forward, we connected with an established group in our first syndication, for a multifamily 200 door, a multifamily apartment complex in the Atlanta Georgia area. So we, we, we connected with this team, but we connected personally, you know, it wasn't just, oh, there are some new folks out there that might be able to raise some capital, we connected on a personal level. And so anyway, they asked us to join their team and said, Hey, can you raise $2 million? And it was like, Oh, of course, we can, it was our first deal. Of course, we can do that. And I never thought that I couldn't, you know, but what I realized, as you know, you're putting your deck together. And you're connecting with these folks, all the people that you've known all these years, who are your friends, who may have lots of money, who do all sorts of investments, they don't necessarily want to invest with you, because they haven't seen proof of your success. And so that was a giant learning curve for us. We did close the deal, we did raise capital. But we had also made a commitment to a certain dollar amount. And we fell short on that from a raise standpoint. So that meant we ponied up the difference. And I will tell you, what was profound about that is that it's not the people that you expect, who are going to invest with you straight out of the chute. Because for me, all of my peers, all of my friends, and my family had known me as, rather than being CLI nursing home administrator for 24 years, running facilities that were large, running facilities that were successful. And some that had had some problems. But they didn't know me and they knew me as Robin, who had investments. But they didn't know me as Robin being placed indicator. So I had to really work on that, as did my husband. And so that was just this past year, in the middle of February when we close that deal. So we got with a group called Organised to scale, which helped us with our business structure. And that's really key. If you can do that you really are going to have to allocate some resources, because they help you dive into creating your mission, your vision, and your values. It's pretty a deep introspective. Look. It's like a three-day deep dive into what are you doing. So it helps you build your brand, build your network. So we committed to that. And that was really powerful. And we did begin to grow our network because I'd come home with these from these conferences. And I'd have like a stack of business cards. And it's like, I don't even remember who this person is on right on the back set by you at the conference, which is important. Because then when you get back, you do want to remember, Hey, how did I know that person? That name is so familiar. I remember talking about their family, but I don't remember where are they from. You know, and so it really changed how we are approaching our database. And this is just what worked for us may not be what works for someone else. So then when I moved in this past August in September, I connected with some women who I'm in some masterminds with. So that's another key principle is to get not only involved in groups, like attending conferences and such but commit some time and resources to a mastermind group because they'll help stretch you and grow you. So I did that. So from that, I was able to do a Bitcoin mining fund. This past September, or October, we actually closed it and were very successful, but again, cryptocurrency is very different than multifamily. And so I was able to do that syndication as well. Now we have investments in commercial properties. And when we own commercial properties with a partner, we've been In Self Storage, we've got single-family homes. We've got lifestyle investments for short-term rentals. And now we have these two full-fledged syndications. And so we're feeling really happy about how we've developed our investment strategy in some folks might look and say, you know, you haven't, you haven't moved fast enough. But I kind of feel like there's power in if you're going to do something, do it well. And so that's really how we've committed our time. And so I feel pretty good about how we're positioned and how we are transitioning w two income to passive income.

Robin Binkley
Well, Mike, you said it really well already right there. And I'll tell you, there's exactly what you said is exactly what I did. I am not an expert in cryptocurrency whatsoever. You know, I had a little coin base wallet but hadn't really done much with it. But I do know just in general, as an individual, you want to diversify your investments. Because if one asset class is not doing well, you know, you know, and you're invested, let's say if multifamily is not doing well, and you're not getting paid out on your investment, not you know, maybe you're invested in gold, and silver, and gold and silver are doing well. Or maybe you're invested in rare earth metals, and that's doing well. Or maybe one of this other assets like a carwash, or an ATM fund that you're invested in, is paying. And so you really want to kind of diversify, I have found with the economy, the way it's shifting over the last year plus and kind of where we're going, that it's really good to diversify what you're personally invested in, you know, so we've kind of taken that a step further with what we are syndicating. Because I'm not, it's just my own philosophy, if you will. So I don't have to be an expert in cryptocurrency or specifically Bitcoin, because this was a Bitcoin mining fund. But I needed to have experts in that, in that field, who wanted to partner with me. So you have to ask yourself, why did they want to partner with me? Well, they felt good about my trust relationship, you have to be able to build trust, you have to be able to be confidential, you have to be able to raise capital, and you've got to be committed to the relationship. It's like getting married, you know, you're in this relationship, as we talked about for the call 357 years. And so you don't want to get into a relationship with people that you don't trust and like and no art and kind of be there for the wonderful times, but also the difficult times, you know, because in every investment, you're going to have to deliver perhaps, some unfavorable news, which we've had to with our Bitcoin mining fund, we thought that we would be mining no later than November. And really, that didn't happen until January. So we had to deliver bad news, if you will, to our investors, you know, about, hey, you know, this has come up and this is how we're handling it and, and be very transparent. And so, I've learned a lot. But that is applicable to any investment. You know, you've got to be able to, especially if you're new, especially if you're a new partner with people that know much more than you be willing to do some, some grunt work, essentially be willing to do whatever it takes, so that you can learn and be a value.

Mike Swenson
Well, and I think that's for people that haven't been in the Sindhis syndication space or haven't raised money, you know, we had a deal where it wasn't syndication, but we had an investor partner. And I see a lot of people in real estate thinking like, how do you get that, like, I just love to have that person that's going to write the check, thinking, once I get the money, it's over, right? Like, now I got their money, now I can go do my deal? Well, no, you're responsible for that money until it's returned back to them. And like you said, the three to the seven-year relationship. And so, you know, let's say, as an example, this Bitcoin mining fund, the investors, you know, something goes sour, well, then, when that deal is done, they're probably not going to want to invest with you again, or something will have to change, you know, to invest with you, again, the easiest thing is, do a good job, have it make money. So when you sell, they just plow that back into your next project. And so you really are in a deep relationship with these people. It's not like a bank where, hey, they wrote me the check. And now I just make some payments. Now you're, you're personally invested with them for five to seven years. And that's, that's the thing that people don't understand about these relationships.

Robin Binkley
Alright. And so I think you've got to be certainly mature enough to understand the gravity of stewarding someone else's money, you are going to take care of someone else's money, perhaps even better than you take care of your own. And if you don't, you're not ready to syndicate. I would say don't do it, or, you know, you're the wrong person. Don't get in the deal with that person. You know. And so, I was asked a question yesterday, I was on another podcast, and it was, if you could talk about the younger you, what, what would you change? At what stage of the game would you change? Would it be in your teens or 20s, whatever? And I said, You know what, I don't think so. I think I'd only go back about seven years when I really got more focused on investing, and hearing and learning more about syndicating a little bit earlier. But I wouldn't change any of the past because it's created the person that I am today, which makes me responsible for stewarding money. And I'm super passionate about growing someone else's wealth. I mean, it gives me great satisfaction to do that. So when you can take the, you know, eye of the needle off yourself, and make it about others, you know, you're going to prosper. Because you're helping someone else meet their goals, you know when you can do that continuously. And that's truly where your heart is. People see that about yourself. You know, they you know, you know, when you meet someone and you kind of don't get a good feel for them, you're like, I don't really know what it is about them, but I just don't get a good feel. And then sometimes you'll meet somebody and you'll go, oh my god, I just love them. I don't know why they didn't say too much. But I mean, they're really pretty cool. That's what you want to radiate, you know, and all that you do.

Mike Swenson
Because yeah, the beauty of syndication is you're leveraged in that asset. So when you help other people grow their wealth,, by default, you're gonna grow your own.

Robin Binkley
And let's be very frank when you're syndicating your job, is to get your investor's money back to them as close to what your performer stated, unless there are just some earth-shattering hiccups that occur, even if it means that you don't get paid, you are going to pay your investors, that is your commitment. And if you don't have that commitment, if your team doesn't have that commitment, it's the wrong team. You know, don't feel like well, I want to syndicate so desperately, so fast that I need to just get into this deal because somebody's got something they want me to do. Man, take your time on the team, you know, syndication is going to be there, you can syndicate anything at any time. And that's the other thing I didn't realize is that you can syndicate any asset classes. I mean, I didn't realize movies were syndicated airplanes, or syndicated. I just didn't have that knowledge. And as I've grown in my investment understanding, I realized now that practically the globe is syndicated. The world is and everything is indicated, because there are not too many individuals that have enough cash to float one particular project. You know, it's true.

Mike Swenson
So, what is your future hold in terms of these next few years? You obviously just kind of started your syndication journey. So where do you want to go from here?

Robin Binkley
Yeah, so So part of our mission and vision for our business is generational wealth. We certainly are about creating passive income. We are also about investments that create great tax deferments, or, you know, that strategy as well. Because we're looking at our own path, where is it that we're going, and so through generational wealth, what our desire is to create wealth for our family business that goes beyond my children, it's in perpetuity, with my grandchildren and beyond. And so one thing that we found and I have adult kids, is that no one teaches your children about financial income, financial literacy, you don't even you know, I mean, if you actually take a business accounting class in high school or college, you might learn how to back in the day, we learned how to balance a checkbook. And that was the extent of it, you know, even if you're taking a business class, in college, and my youngest daughter is still at Texas a&m. So she's, she's my only youngest adult kid, I have two others that are married, I'm teaching my kids about financial education, meaning investing, you know, growing wealth, watching what we're doing, and mentoring them through that, and mentoring their friends and peers, gives us a lot of satisfaction. And as a result of that, many of our friends are starting to get super interested in what we're doing. Because we're also putting little educational nuggets out on social media, I just think when you can put something out that's applicable to the average everyday person, you know, that's trying to grow wealth to transition, I think you've done something, something good, you know, and so generational wealth is a big piece of what our business is about.

Mike Swenson
Yeah, that's so exciting to know that, you know, your, your kids and your grandkids are gonna have this. And I think about that, too, because I grew up in a household where it was the W two job and you want safe, stable, and a lot has changed over, you know, the last 20 3040 years, just in terms of stability, and jobs and retirement funds for companies and, and that sort of thing. And so your retirement plans are a lot different than it was, you know, the way that my parents grew up. And so being able to have that foresight to put things in place, so that your kids and your kids as kids have something, a leg to stand on than just starting from scratch,

Robin Binkley
And so I think what's really important there is to your comment about a leg to stand on, but I'm not giving I'm not spoon-feeding on cash, and making them trust fund babies, you know, it might give them a leg up. But I'm not giving them a handout, you know, and so there are expectations when you have a family office, and, and all of that, and we do and so, you know, from an overarching standpoint, it's important to be able to understand your asset mapping, you know, that's something that we've worked really heavily on is asset mapping, looking at all of our business entities or LLCs, what structures do they need to fall into having a management company and, and having a, you know, a foundation, and then essentially trust, you know, setting all of that up. So that takes some time. That takes some vision. And that takes a lot of application. And so it really, you know, begin doing that, you know, don't be afraid to dream and think big, but you have to work towards those goals, you know, for whatever your, your philosophy is, whatever level of cash you're looking for, to, you know, live the lifestyle that you desire, you got to figure out how to get from A to Z.

Mike Swenson
So for people looking to get started, you know, people that haven't done syndication before, what advice would you give them for, okay, I'm hearing this for the first time. It sounds overwhelming. It sounds like, you know, hey, you've, you've done real estate investing for a long time. And that's how you easily could transition to syndicating. I haven't been an investor before. But I want to get into syndication. There are a lot of excuses and reasons why we can't do something. So what advice would you give to somebody that's like, hey, this sounds pretty cool? I want to get started. I want to learn more, what can I do?

Robin Binkley
So you know, first of all, I'm going to tell you absolutely, feel free to visit my website. And we can talk about how to reach me later. But there are three things. The first thing I would say is to whoever you are, whatever your financial situation is. Make sure you've got a personal financial statement. Know where you are, with your income in your expenses, and your assets. that's in your liabilities. And if you don't have a personal financial statement, you know, there are some super simple resources out there that are free on the internet, just Google it, print one, and fill it out. What that means is it's going to make you look at all of your debt. What do you own? What are your payments? How much your kids cost in school loans, all of that, put it all down there. And that gives you a really clean snapshot of what's your, what's your net, you know, what's your net overall value? I mean, you know, what's your, what's your net worth? Okay? So you have to know where you are, to know where you're going. Okay. And if you don't know how to fill one of those out, and you're a little bit lost, you know, when we talk about how to get in touch with me, please, you know, ask me that question. Happy to kind of, you know, share with you resources. But that's the first thing everyone needs to do. And then secondly, I would say, Look at who you're hanging out with, who are the people that you're hanging with, you cannot go forward, if you're hanging out with the folks that you hung out with in high school, in college, or even your coworkers, unless they have the same drive that you do to educate yourself, take your weekends and go to these conferences, because let's be real clear, most of these conferences that you'll find are on the weekends, there are Thursday, Friday, Saturday. So you've got to dedicate resources and time to attend these conferences, and really look at who you're hanging out with, and change that you become the summation of the five people you're hanging out with. So, you know, there's a place for friends that you've been friends with for 30 years, 25 years, they're all good, great, wonderful, and they do anything in the world for you. But they don't share the same vision and mission that you've got with growing wealth. You know, they're not attending these conferences, and they're like, Oh, my God, you're just you're out of town all the time. You know, you're never around. Well, I am. But I'm around people who are growing and going in the same direction I am. So really look at that. And that's hard. Because you might look at your list and go, I don't really have five people that kind of fit this new me in if that's true, because that's what happened to me, that's what happened to Brett, we had to then identify, who do we want to begin hanging out with and write those names down. Don't be afraid to write those names down. And that's exactly what you got to do. And then put yourself in those spaces. And that might mean being in a mastermind group. That might mean attending another conference because that person that you want to get to know better is attending something. So really take a hard look at that. And then third, I would say if you're really looking to syndicate, finding a group that teaches you how to syndicate is a little bit different than teaching you how to analyze a deal. Okay, analyzing a multifamily deal, and analyzing a commercial building is different than learning how to syndicate. So that's building your brand, building your network. And those are two different beasts. And when you can kind of separate that a little bit and go, Okay, this is kind of what my goal for this year is going to be. I'm going to work on these three things, you will be surprised at how exponentially you've grown as an individual and how you've grown your business 12 months from now, six months from now, really. So those are my three quadrants of recommendations, and that anybody can do that. That doesn't, you know, you know, Google, you know, conferences like real estate investment conferences. Really my favorite place to go to for learning how to syndicate is the real estate guys with Robert Helms and Russell Grey, honestly feel like they teach you better than any other group out there about how to syndicate and I'm not saying analyze deals, I'm saying how to syndicate

Mike Swenson
some Yeah, cuz we certainly can pull up and look at where our financial situation is right now. Certainly, write down who our friends are and think about who some friends need to be that we need to connect with. And then that piece so yeah, that's actionable tangible steps, simple steps for people to take, be able to move forward. So for people that do want to learn more, do want to reach out and find out more about you, how can I do that?

Robin Binkley
So the best place to reach out to me is at this link at team at real equity and send any comments and whatnot. question to that email and you will, we will get back to you. And when you do that, then I will ensure that you've received a free copy of the chapter that I co-authored in the book next level your life, which was recently launched in January, and was a number one bestseller on Amazon in 31, categories and internationally. So I'm really proud to be a part of that project where Kyle Wilson put together a bunch of experts and entrepreneurs. And it's really amazing to read these chapters and stories because you will resonate with anyone in that book, Love for anyone to buy the book. But certainly, you can get a copy of my free chapter and learn a little bit more about my personal journey and where I'm going.

Mike Swenson
Awesome. Yeah, and for anybody that wants to work with you, it's very apparent how much you care for people and want to help people. So thank you.

Robin Binkley
Thank you, Mike. I really appreciate that. That means a lot. And I've enjoyed getting to know you. And I wish you many successes in your syndication journey. I think you're gonna do great.

Mike Swenson
Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Robin for coming on and sharing and we're excited to see and maybe sometime down the road recapped by your next couple of syndications that you do in the next fall. I'm excited to see where you're gonna go. Thank you so much.


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