Table of Contents - How to Own 1,000 Apartments in Five Years with Charles Dobens
Dave Debeau [00:00:09] Hey everyone, this is Dave Debeau with another episode of the Property Profits Real Estate podcast today. It is my pleasure. This is a real treat to interview Mr. Charles Dobens, because Charles is not only an astute real estate investor himself, but he is a lawyer who focuses on multifamily properties. And any time I can talk to a real estate lawyer for free is a good day. How are you doing today?
Charles Dobens [00:00:38] Well, we never said anything about a free paying it back, but that's what first off, there are two words in the English language that when you're being introduced, you've got to be careful about. First off is astute because that you never know what that really means. Is the other one that I just heard was seasoned. He's a seasoned investor. You know what that means? It means you're over 50. OK, so that's the only reason you use the word seasoned
Dave Debeau [00:01:03] in what everybody keeps calling me seasoned. Then I tell you now not
Charles Dobens [00:01:07] to break it to your pal, but welcome to the welcome to the club. Welcome to the club of Charles.
Dave Debeau [00:01:13] So where are you calling in from today? All right.
Charles Dobens [00:01:15] Well, right now I'm in my in my New Hampshire office. I have an office down in Duxbury, Massachusetts. Well, where I raised my family, everybody during the weeks I come up here in New Hampshire, just really, as I say, because Donald Trump drove me out of Massachusetts and he really did. I and I know you are up in the fifty first state.
Dave Debeau [00:01:36] I know you don't like being called that unless we say that ourselves. But, yeah,
Charles Dobens [00:01:41] a lot of exactly. And so I am just next to Maine, which is also known as Canada's Florida. So. Yeah, so that's that's what I think.
Dave Debeau [00:01:53] I think Florida is called Canadas Florida. If I've got this.
Charles Dobens [00:01:56] I know. And you can always tell the Canadians and I tell the Canadians, do
Dave Debeau [00:02:01] worry a lot. That's that's one thing.
Charles Dobens [00:02:04] They're the only ones we're in Speedos.
Dave Debeau [00:02:08] That's the French Canadians.
Charles Dobens [00:02:09] That's that is true. That is true. That is true. And with a name like Dubow. Hello. Hello.
Dave Debeau [00:02:14] Raucus Hierarchies Media.
Charles Dobens [00:02:16] Oh, I've never seen a season guy Speedo yet. OK, there you go. I think I feel like I remember I grew up and I grew up here in Nashua, New Hampshire. It's half Canadian, average Canadian, half Irish Catholic. And so I know I know I couldn't find my shoes. So I go up to my closet and they are gone, you know, I know it all. I know it.
Dave Debeau [00:02:40] So, Charles, tell us a little bit, how did you get involved in real estate, this whole crazy world of real estate in the first place?
Charles Dobens [00:02:45] Yeah, no kidding. You know what? I've always wanted to be in this in this space. And when I got out of college, I took the path of least resistance, as I call it. And I went in the family business of insurance, which is, you know, I've since found out that if anyone goes into insurance on a college, there's something very wrong with that child. So if you have one, just trust me,
Dave Debeau [00:03:04] that's what's going to happen.
Charles Dobens [00:03:06] But please, God, I don't know. What do they say? Friends don't let friends drive drunk parents to let children get the insurance business. And so I got into that and did it for about twenty years. And then when I turned 40, I own my own business. I own the benefits administration firm. I had about thirty five employees working for me and I hated it. I hated life. I hated going into the office. I do, as I say, my classes. And let me tell you how you feel about this, but I want time off the cuff. Made the statement and I was shocked at the people's response. When I said it, I said the worst part of my week was Sunday night. I thought that was a novel concept when I said it. And then I watched heads in the audience just start to bob up and down like, oh, we know what you mean. We know what you're talking about.
Dave Debeau [00:03:57] Dreading Monday morning.
Charles Dobens [00:03:58] I'm dreading because it was always followed by Monday morning and that was just the worst because you went in and just cut your head, beat it. And I hated what I was doing. And I'm sure all of my employees hated what they were doing. And I know that for a fact, because when people would leave, my company would take back the computer and just look on what their Internet searches were. And back then, the number one interest in a search was monster dot com. Remember that one? Yeah. Yeah. And so I couldn't blame them. I hated that business, too. So ultimately, I told my wife, I said, I can't do this anymore. I've got a I've got to get out of this business because what do you want to do? I said, I want to own real estate. I always want to own apartments. And she says, let's do it. So as as many people have heard me say, I burnt the ships and I sold the business and I got out and I swore I would never do it again. So that's when we started in the multi family business and we took off very quickly. And it's been fantastic. And what I do now is utilize my law degree to help my clients purchase property the right way, because, believe me, I. Made every mistake in the book when it comes to making a profit and anyone that tells you they've done everything right is a liar and should not be trusted. So what I do now is I help my students go from right from the moment they they they speak to an owner or a broker. How to handle it the right way, all the way to the owner owning your own property management company. I counsel them every step of the way. I make sure they do it correctly so they don't make any mistakes, because I'll tell you do. Most of my clients are like you and me, and we don't have a whole lot of time left. I ask, you know, I'm sorry, pal. I'm sorry to have to break it to you right here on your show, but I'm keeping it real and keeping it real to real reform. Actually, I've no easy answer. Would you please listen? Yeah. So this is what I do now. And every morning I wake up and I check my phone first thing, what's going on? What's happening? And it's my
Dave Debeau [00:06:03] Monday is a good day.
Charles Dobens [00:06:05] My needs are the best days of the week. Everybody's back now. I get to talk to you. So, yeah, it's it's great. I love it.
Dave Debeau [00:06:12] Absolutely. No, Charles, the title you suggested for today's call was You know how to how to own a Thousand Apartments in five years. Now, obviously, obviously, we can't go super in-depth in that. But can you give us the 30, 40, 50, 60 thousand foot perspective of how the heck you do that?
Charles Dobens [00:06:32] OK, well, here's the thing. How I came up with that look for that title was when I was doing and I still do my my daily I do a one day training on Saturdays around the country and to get to know the audience, to try to find out what was going on, I would ask everybody, where do you want to be in five years? And people would you know, I'd hear all the same answers no matter where I went. I got the same answer. I want to make ten thousand dollars month passive income. I want to make twenty thousand a month. I want to quit my job. I want to I want to own, you know, one hundred and fifty units. And there was always someone there that said, I want to own a thousand apartments for five years and I'd stop at that person. I said I love that, that drive. That vision. But I ask them, I said, so how do you do that and you know their answer? I don't know. That's why I'm here waiting for you to teach me. And so that's when I realized there is there are so many people that have that as a vision. I don't want a thousand points, five years it I want to show them how to do it. My answer to those people is, well, I'm going to show you how to do it as not as hard as you think. And that's the beautiful thing of just building this business slow and steady and doing it the right way. And to get to a thousand units. All you have to do this year is by 20. That's all you got to do is buy 20 units, go and do it. And that's what I teach people because it's groundball from their and from there. So it's just compounding the number of units. And as I tell people, I said by the third year, you can quit your job. You will be making enough money as a property manager and other sources of revenue from your properties. You can quit your job, make all your tuition payments, make all your mortgage payments, pay all the bills. You'll live very, very nicely. And as I also tell them, the first two deals are the hardest deals. Once you do the first two deals, you will be in this business and other people will know what deals will drop on your desk because they know you're a performer and it'll just grow that quickly. So many students of mine do over a thousand apartments just following that formula. So it's great.
Dave Debeau [00:08:44] Nice. So, Charles, what you're alluding to, the fact that you you've made a lot of mistakes yourself. You've been coaching, you've been training people. Besides the legal aspect, what would you say is. If you had to make one big mistake, you see people making over and over again when it comes to multifamily deals, what would it be like?
Charles Dobens [00:09:08] It's like you knew the answer to this question and it was just like a Segway into into what you do. So the answer is that they they treat this business like it's a one legged stool. Like all they have to do is look for deals as much as you look for deals, you're to look for money and you've got to look. And I had a student on my podcast the other day and and he's now helping people find money. And he said the easiest time to look for money is when you don't need it.
Dave Debeau [00:09:42] Yeah. Save best time to borrow money from a bank, too, right?
Charles Dobens [00:09:45] I know. Like, right now I don't need any money, but they're all beating down my door, so I don't want to borrow money. I'll pay cash for everything. So. Yeah, but that's exactly the way it works. And that to me is the biggest mistake that I see students make because they're just they're just treating this business like it's a one legged stool. And also you've got to look at it like, hey, we're building a business. This is not a one off deal in order to get to a thousand units. It isn't just little old me sitting at the kitchen table. It's my staff and my vision, my plan and my systems for running the business to run a thousand units. So that's how to do it.
Dave Debeau [00:10:19] All right. That makes sense now. Another question I've got for you, because, again, as you alluded to, I'm up in Canada
Charles Dobens [00:10:27] to help people even allude to that. Do I flat out told
Dave Debeau [00:10:31] you this is a fifty first state, but we'll let you slide without
Charles Dobens [00:10:37] I still get mad and we make when we make fun of your money.
Dave Debeau [00:10:40] Well, no, we can't really, because yours is worth 30 percent more nards.
Charles Dobens [00:10:44] Oh, wow. OK, I wasn't looking at it that way, but someone told me the Canadians get mad when we talk. We think that your money is like cartoon money with the colors and that. And somebody made a very good very good point is, hey, one of the nice things about that type of currency is you can tell what bill it is. Just like
Dave Debeau [00:11:01] we have a hard time with your money because it gets
Charles Dobens [00:11:04] ugly and the fact is 30 percent more valuable.
Dave Debeau [00:11:07] So you go, we like it. We put up with it. We enjoy it. Anyhow, back back to the question. Yes. The one of the big challenge that I see with people trying to raise money up north here is the big mistake is they go after the general public when they're not really set to do that. They're not set up with the syndication. They're not licensed to do it. They're they're putting themselves at risk with the AFP here in Canada, the Securities Commission, what would you say when it comes to raising capital for deals is one of the biggest mistakes you see
Charles Dobens [00:11:37] people making, whether you're
Dave Debeau [00:11:38] trying to raise money for apartment
Charles Dobens [00:11:39] buildings down south. First off, not treating it professionally. You know, I see people going out there and well, you know, he's my brother. He's just going to give me the money. So what documentation do you have for for the deal? Well, he's my brother. I mean. Yeah, well, he's my brother. I'm not going to worry about it. It'll be fine. Listen, the problem is not going to be with your brother. The problem is going to be with your brother's widow's next husband. Yeah. You're not going to be partners with him. Show me the deal. Show me what the contract says. And then when they say when you put it that way in real life context, because, you know, as they talk to the insurance business, the person you're speaking to is never the one that's going to die. It's always his partner. That's the one that is going to die that. And so when you put it in that context, then they get the vision for why you need to cross the T's and dot the I's and get the documents correctly. So that that's that's one of the mistakes I see people make just when I don't.
Dave Debeau [00:12:40] So there you go. Your insurance background has come in handy.
Charles Dobens [00:12:44] Yeah. Oh, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. Help helping people understand why we do what we do. Yeah. There's a lot of a lot of that. I mean, I've been training all my life. This is, you know, this is what I was meant to do and it's all come together nicely.
Dave Debeau [00:12:58] So sounds like you really hit the ground running very quickly. Tell us a little bit about that journey for yourself.
Charles Dobens [00:13:06] Yeah, I know. I did. It actually did happen that way. I kind of got the training from different sources and got involved in it very quickly, realize that that this is really nothing more than a sales and marketing business. And having been in the insurance business, that was what I would do every day. You were constantly selling your offers. You have to get out there and make offers and sell your offers and you don't make a sale until the owner says yes. And then you've got a client, you know, just like in the insurance business. And so, you know, early on I knew that I had to make offers and I was making offers every single week. And we met a broker. Really nice woman. Jeez, Eleanor, I think her name was Eleanor. She said, OK, I sat down with her. I told her what we're looking to do when she said, OK, OK, I know what you look at. And when I find it, I'm going to call you and when I call, you get your checkbook ready because you got to be writing a check. I know I'll be like that. That's a real broker. That's a real broker, unlike of these brokers today. But don't get me started. She she went out and two weeks later she calls me up, says, I found I found your property, come on out and see it and write a check. And so we went out and took a look at it. And it was a it was a 40 unit class, a property up in Michigan, which is where we had a whole bevy of investors all ready to go. I thought, oh, man, this is perfect. So we look at it and we put the earnest money deposit down. We write, we do everything we're supposed to do. I mean, we made tons of mistakes along the way, but we went through the whole process. And we within the first six months of me selling my insurance business, I owned a four unit apartment complex. And then there was an 88 unit across the street owned by the same guy. The bank was in cahoots and not who feels like you're in cahoots. But they didn't like that owner. They were telling that trying to boot them. So they came to us because they like my balance sheet and they said, hey, would you be willing to buy that? Eighty eight? And I said, well, you know, I have no more friends, I have no more family to put up the money. So I'm kind of tapped after my 40 unit. And they said, well what how much would you need? I said I need about three quarters of a million dollars to do this deal. And they said, well, what if we lend it to you? And I was like, you know, I'm sure you understand this correctly, you're telling me you're going to do this deal 100 percent financing and we can buy this property. And the woman said, absolutely. So I said, hold one second. I put the phone on my chest, as I said to my wife, who is a banker. I said, honey, they don't want to give us the hundred percent financing to do this deal. What should I tell them? She said, ask them how quickly we can close. And so within nine months, I owned one hundred twenty eight yards and, you know, mistakes were made. In hindsight, I would have done things entirely different differently. But the fact is that I want people to to glean from this is unless you're making offers, this is nothing more than a very expensive hobby. You got to make offers. I didn't make those offers. Nobody would know that I'm in this business. So make the offers you got. You got to cut the wood.
Dave Debeau [00:16:17] Make sense now. All right. Like I told you at the beginning, Betty, the time flies by, which means we get the privilege, hopefully, of of having another conversation with you a little further down the line. In the meantime, I know you're you're very active helping students. And I've worked with the investors who want to get into multifamily investing. Right. Tell us a little bit about how people can find out more about you and if you've got any free resources,
Charles Dobens [00:16:42] anything like that. Yeah, if you go to my web, I got tons of free stuff. If you go on my YouTube channel, I have you know, I tell people over a thousand videos I've shot in this business by go to multifamily investing Academi Dotcom. So I happen to have this. And David, just so people know the beautiful thing about my business, as I say, I can I can do it anywhere in the world. And so when I drop this right, then you'll see that I'm actually sitting in a food court in a mall in New Jersey right now. And that's the nice thing about about what we do. So the Multifamily Investing Academy Dotcom's is my training program, my training course. I mean, the program that I sell and that I teach, I used to work with students is called the owner form. Best group of people you could ever imagine. They're all friends. They all communicate. As I've been on the call here, I've been watching the chatter go back and forth among my students on Slack. And it's just a great group of people. And my job is to protect them and take them every step of the way through the transaction. So, yeah, that's it. And so if you're looking for freebies, go to my website and just sign on up and you'll get tons of free stuff.
Dave Debeau [00:17:54] Sounds good. How very nice to meet you. And thank you very much for your insights.
Charles Dobens [00:18:01] Well, hold on. Let me just say that that just so the audience understands it better, you told me that I'd have like seventy three questions you get to throw at me and I thought I was going to be like that. My wife told me about the Vogue YouTube channel. Have you heard about this one? Now this is where Vogue shows up at a celebrity's house with a camera, handheld camera walks that walks, does a tour of the celebrity's house and asks them like, seventy three questions. And it all happens within five minutes. And then they're done. They're out the door. And my wife says this a great thing. So I thought, oh, my gosh, David boy must have must have done the same concept. And now I
Dave Debeau [00:18:38] look like the kind of guy that watches Vogue on YouTube.
Charles Dobens [00:18:42] Maybe you have a wife who tells you about it like I do.
Dave Debeau [00:18:47] Good times. Thank you very much, Rana. Thank you, everybody, for watching this week's episode.
Charles Dobens [00:18:51] Take care. You did better last.
Dave Debeau [00:18:54] Well, thanks very much for checking out the property profits podcast and you like what we're doing here. Please head on over to iTunes, subscribe read us and leave us to review it. Very, very much appreciated. And if you're looking to create a regular flow of inbound investor inquiries about your real estate deals, then I invite you to attend one of my upcoming live online demonstrations. And you can check that out at Investor Attraction Demo Dotcom Ticker.