Table of Contents - International Investing with Billy Keels
Dave Debeau [00:00:09] Everyone, this is Dave Debeau with another episode of the Property Profits Real Estate podcast. Today, we got something really interesting for you. That's because our special guest, Billy Keels, is zooming in all the way from Barcelona, Spain, where he lives and resides and has married a beautiful Spanish lady and has some Spanish American kids, is living the European lifestyle and investing in the state. So, Billy, welcome to the call.
Billy Keels [00:00:38] Hey, Dave, thanks so much. Really, really excited to be here and looking forward to our conversation today.
Dave Debeau [00:00:42] All right. So let's just jump right in and I'll ask you a little bit about your background in a few minutes. But to get started with your based in Europe, we were talking a little bit before we hit record. You've been there for 19 years. That's a long time. You've been around, I think you said. Eighty seven countries total so far, something crazy like that. You have seen a lot of the world, yet you're not focused on investing in Europe. You're focused on living in Europe and investing in the United States. Is that correct?
Billy Keels [00:01:15] That's absolutely correct.
Dave Debeau [00:01:16] And so. So why is that? Why what in your mind are the big benefits of us investing versus investing in your new nowish backyard, which is Europe?
Billy Keels [00:01:28] And so my my new home here in Europe? It's a couple of things, right. I just am a big believer. I think a lot of times you think to yourself, well, I have to do either have to work a corporate job or I have to be a full time entrepreneur. And I tend to think that you can live with what I like to think of as the end mentality. And so one of the things that happens is, as you mentioned before, nineteen years and my time has flown by has been it's been so much fun. I just want to do a one year sabbatical and spend 19 years later three countries. And it's a lot of fun. But what I've learned along the way is that I genuinely love living in Europe and specifically living in Barcelona. And when I looked to invest because I had some issues with the stock market, primarily just entrusting my money there, and I was looking
Dave Debeau [00:02:15] to a whole bunch of millions of other people right about
Billy Keels [00:02:19] now, I thought, you know, what did I figure that would be the case for probably billions of other people. But when that happened, I thought that I wanted to also invest here because everything that I'd read up until that point, it was kind of like you buy your place, you invest in your own backyard. And because I have this mentality, it was more about saying, OK, well, the numbers from the books that I read weren't actually matching up here in the place that I live in Barcelona. And then I lived in Italy and I lived in France as well. And so I kind of looked there because I knew the markets more or less. And one day someone was like, well, you know what I mean, you're American. Why don't you invest in the US? And I thought, well, have you not seen the tens of thousands of kilometers between where I live and where my properties would be like that just didn't make any sense. And then once I actually realized kind of the steps to take and made sure that I was in the right location, that was providing me cash flow, which is actually what I'm interested in, and not the capital gains or appreciation type of plays that we'll see here in Europe. It really was about figuring out how do I live, where I really love living, which is here in Europe, and gain more control over my financial life. And that was being able to invest in cash flowing assets, which I have much better control of. And I believe you can have much better control of your your financial life. So it was really about putting the mentality together, loving where I live now and also investing where it absolutely makes sense for me and my investors today.
Dave Debeau [00:03:44] All right, Cibele, just out of personal curiosity, because I'm embarrassed to say my first trip to Europe was just last year for crying out loud.
Billy Keels [00:03:51] So you made it awesome.
Dave Debeau [00:03:53] It was awesome. Absolutely awesome. But I have zero clue of what real estate investing looks like in Europe. So obviously, you don't know all the ins and outs. But can you give us the big picture perspective of what our European real estate investors typically doing? What kind of investments are the.
Billy Keels [00:04:14] Well, when you think about it, just in general, right, the majority of people, if I compare it to the US market, right. I don't know a lot about the Canadian market, for instance, but if I look at the U.S. market, it would what we see is the dynamic and I'm going to overgeneralize here. But it's very much like if you when you're looking at the major European capital cities, it's very similar to living in your New York or Los Angeles or San Francisco. And what I mean by that is when you are looking for the roller coaster ride, the the big upswings, when things are going really, really well, you can kind of get really huge appreciation plays and cash out and then wait till it goes down. You do the same thing over and over again. That is what I was finding in the markets that I was looking in Europe. And specifically it was Barcelona. It was Madrid. I lived in Paris before that. And then I was looking in two different places in Italy. And so they were very much appreciation based. Markets buy low, sell high or buy low and hold on forever and hope that the value of the place goes up from a number of the different types of appreciation. And that is what I was seeing. And even today, I mean, I have a number of friends that think that it's normal to continue to pay into a cash flowing asset like a what we would call a single family residence that they pay into that every month even.
Dave Debeau [00:05:34] There's a it's not cash flowing. It's cash sucking
Billy Keels [00:05:37] negative. Right, exactly. So it's a negative
Dave Debeau [00:05:39] challenge, though, is it like the New York City? Like the Los Angeles is the Toronto Zoo, Hong Kong, where the value of a single family home or even a condo is off the charts kind of thing? I mean, the price point on it is just crazy.
Billy Keels [00:05:55] Yes, yes. Yes. So, I mean, for instance, it's very difficult to find a property and I'm just going to go use us or euro terms. But like the the duplex, that's one hundred and twenty thousand US dollars, like it's not going to happen. And if you do find them, they're going to be in a town that's so remote that even if you bought it, it's going to probably be your second residence and not a place that you're going to be able to rent out to other people. Got it. And so that just makes it difficult when you're when you have your investor cap on, because when you're looking to actually invest and make sure that you're creating not just the cash return, but I mean, you're going to get your return on your capital, return of your capital first, return on your capital next. And then it's just more difficult to find those types of opportunities, in my opinion. Or said another way, I think it's much easier to find those types of opportunities that create cash flow in the US market, which is one of the reasons that I've decided to continue to do that.
Dave Debeau [00:06:49] So, you know, we were talking off camera a little bit. You got inspired by the Purple Book, rich dad, poor dad, like gazillions of others of us. Yes. Didn't you quickly realize it didn't quite work the same way in Europe as the examples in the United States and North America? So going from the corporate world, because that's that's where you come from, jumping into real estate, how did that process look for you and how did you finally decide on what kind of properties and what geographic area you wanted to focus on?
Billy Keels [00:07:24] So it's kind of like a tale of Two Cities, because in the beginning, I was really just looking to I think a lot of times you'll go through life and you get to a certain point you're thinking, oh, I'm doing all the right things. I've got the good grades, I'm in the corporate job. You're now climbing the corporate ladder and then you start getting more responsibility and then you're putting your money in your 401k equivalent or whatever your defined contribution plan is, whatever country you live in, because every country calls it something else. But basically you're paying into your future retirement plan. And when I started seeing in two thousand, I was getting I lost portfolio value and then two thousand eight ish, I lost about thirty three percent of my portfolio. I was really just looking to get more control over my financial life. And so I had the money and I just went to a place where I had the money. I've had family in a certain area. And I was like, look, I just I read the books and I was tired of reading the books. I wanted to take action. So that was the first way that I actually bought the property and got there. But then I soon realized that maybe that wasn't the best way just to go to buy the property because I had the money. So I had to change my mindset. And once I changed the mindset, it was really about saying, OK, what are a lot of different skill sets that I've been able to develop in my corporate role? And there were a lot of things like being able to build teams, be able to have coaching, coaching others, to be able to help or manage through other people to achieve common goals, project management, these types of things. And so when I realized that I needed to put a process in place, I put that process in place, got really clear on what it was that I was trying to do, which was actually create cash flow and control over my financial life. Then afterwards, I went to the locations that were going to be more, I guess, boring kind of locations like your secondary and tertiary markets, but that were not going to get the highs and lows once I found that it was really about getting out there and making sure that I was doing like I did in my corporate job or doing my corporate job, which is create the right teams. And then afterwards it was finding the right opportunity and making sure that I had a clear process, which exact same thing that I've been doing in my corporate roles. And so the second half of the story is actually where the process is now clear. And it's also helping me make sure that I'm in the right locations with the right teams so that we can deliver on what we say that we're going to deliver not just for ourselves, more importantly for our investors.
Dave Debeau [00:09:44] So, so very cool. So if you don't mind sharing what kind of properties do primarily focus on these days, and when you're talking about tertiary markets, which ones are I know you're originally from the Midwest. Is that kind of where you're buying properties these days?
Billy Keels [00:09:59] So I'm kind of the opposite way. So where we started was buying or where I started, because when I started, I was just trying to fix my own problem because I just wanted more control. And so I was buying that. I actually never purchased a single family residence. I purchased a couple of smaller multifamily properties, duplexes, complexes, things like that, and then had an opportunity to buy a mobile home park. And so that was really, really cool. And so the properties initially were on the East Coast, the United States and the state of New Jersey, which, you know, I think at a certain point you when you are ready to get started, you just have to get started. Like you can't keep reading books. And I was at the point where I just needed to take action. So I took action. And then you really quickly realize, oh, hang on a second, even though I've done all the courses, I had my own, like I was part of mastermind's and things like that. But you're going to have to get your own bumps and bruises. And so once I got those, I realized that, hey, look, and also where my skill set is is really playing in an area for larger type of assets. And so what I've been doing is actually making the transition from the smaller multi families and riding along for the larger multifamily opportunities like the two hundred and fifty and above in the Midwest and the Southeast. So the states like Indiana and Ohio are great. Also states like Georgia or North Carolina. South Carolina, if you drill down specifically cities like Charlotte or the Charlotte MSA, Atlanta MSA, Columbus MSA, things like that.
Dave Debeau [00:11:24] So when you say ride along, what do you mean by that?
Billy Keels [00:11:27] So, you know, so basically we're kind of two ways that you can do it. There are two flavors. You can be a key partner or a general partner, meaning I'm talking to more like syndication. When you bring in aggregate people's capital together and you go out and you buy bigger properties and you can take the lead on that. So being much more active or you can be what's called a passive investor or a limited partner. And so as I move to the larger properties, made a decision to first start as a limited partner and then continue to grow and now getting into more of the types of opportunities where we're actually leading or aggregating towards a specific project or group of projects.
Dave Debeau [00:12:02] So very, very well. So are you with your conscious? Attacks in Europe with your experience was almost 20 years living there. Now is your primary focus these days finding fellow investors locally in Europe and helping them to get started investing in the states? Is that kind of what you do?
Billy Keels [00:12:23] So it's well, I mean, in terms of platform, it's really helping anyone, anywhere that is looking to gain more control of the financial life. And the reason I say that is I'm surrounded by lots of people that are multiple six figure salary earners that know a lot more about what's happening at the corporate companies that we either work for or serve as, you know, as a provider of services or software or whatever the case may be than they do about their own financial life. And so whether that person is sitting here in Europe, in Spain, or they're sitting in Canada today, the platform is able to help anybody wherever they are. The reality is, is because I'm here and I started investing here and I started sharing the great things, the not so great things that were happening with people that were around me. The majority of them started out being physical, face to face contacts here in Europe between Italy, France and Spain. But now it's you know, it really is pretty much wherever the person is, as long as they're having well, they're looking to gain more control over over their financial life.
Dave Debeau [00:13:22] So very, very cool. So that's the topic that's got a near and dear to my heart billion. And that's all about attracting investors, raising capital in our last couple of minutes here. Before we wrap up, what are some of the top lessons you've learned about that process over the last number of years that you've been you know, you've expanded, you've gone from just using your own capital to now also including investor partners on your deals.
Billy Keels [00:13:47] So I think that well, there are a couple of things that happen. Number one, I'm a big believer in having a proof of concept. So in the beginning it was I was trying to solve my own problem. And because I wanted to have that more control over my financial life, I risk my own capital. I put my own sweat equity in. I was taking calls. I know what it's like to take the calls at midnight or two o'clock or four o'clock and doing that from different time zones, things like that. So I've actually been through that and I've been through the down times. I've been through the twenty five thousand dollar roofs that I should have in the home inspection, but I was too lazy to. Actually, I did I did the work to actually go out and get the home inspection, have it done. But I didn't take the time to actually read through it and be able to interpret it and understand what happened. And so as a result, I got a twenty five thousand dollar lesson. Right, that I paid full price for. But now I'm helping other people so that they don't necessarily have to pay full price for. And I can tell them I can share my experience. But if they're not listening because I also had coaches and mentors and things like that, but that you have to realize that I think when you go through those things or I know when you go through those things, it provides a proof of concept. And so from starting there, that really helps because I know what it's like to go from beginning to end of the transaction, what it's like to build the relationships. And from that, it's really aside from having the proof of concept, I think well, I don't think I know for sure that it's about being able to understand what the person in front of me is looking to achieve. And it's one of these things where I talk to a lot of people and talk about being able to syndicate and raise money and things like that. And I've found and Dave, I'm sure you've probably seen the same that it's not about it's not always about the money. It's not always about the financial return. It's about making sure that what the project that we are going to invest in, it provides the type of return, whether that be economic, whether that be social, whether that be whatever the case may be, it has to be in alignment with what the person is looking to be a part of the project. And so when you say I love the fact that you say attracting capital, because that's what I believe as well, it's not going out and raising capital and that it's being able to attract the right capital and more importantly, the right people. So I think being able to show proof of concept and then also being able to make sure that you are in alignment, making sure that you have a compelling opportunity for the person that is there and being able to show and demonstrate that you understand what that person is looking for. Most importantly.
Dave Debeau [00:16:12] Yeah, I agree with you, Billy. I just got a slightly different question in my my philosophies a little bit about finding the right people for the opportunities that I have versus trying to make the opportunity for the person. That's it. But yeah, it's the same kind of like.
Billy Keels [00:16:29] Yeah. I mean, it's so different, not the difference, but the thing where I believe we're saying the same thing. But when there's a misalignment of what your project does with what the person wants to do, it never works like walk away, don't even try it, because no matter how nice it looks, I have a I have a mentor, a guy named Victor Menasche. And Victor always says it's like putting a shoe on. Right. It doesn't matter how nice and beautiful the most expensive it could be, Jimmy Choo Choo in the world, that if it's for five US dollars or five euros or five Canadian dollars, if it doesn't fit, it doesn't fit. So don't try to force it right. You know, and it's really about alignment and making sure that the thing that you're like and what the project does and what the person and most importantly wants
Dave Debeau [00:17:14] some time flies when you're having fun. We'll have to do it.
Billy Keels [00:17:16] It's awesome. I would love to.
Dave Debeau [00:17:18] If people want to find out more about what you're up to and what Billy Kills does, what should they do?
Billy Keels [00:17:24] Yeah, sure. I mean, try to make it as easy as possible. So there are a couple of different ways because everybody thinks different things. So if somebody is really would like to just get on the phone and speak to me, it doesn't matter where you are in the world. Try to make it as easy as possible. Just go to bit be it. Why? For example, speak with Billy and get on a 30 minute call, speak to one another. If you are somebody who is interested in kind of reading about things that I've done, some of the things we talked about today, you can go and pick up my ebook, you can buy it on Amazon, but you can get it here for free. Just go to grow your money. The smart way. Dotcom, leave your email address and we can get connected with one another. And if you're just interested in kind of seeing what's going on, you can go to Billy Kilsby like dot com and you can find out about me there. And pretty soon we'll have some stuff on a on a podcast. We'll be releasing a couple of weeks, depending on when you're watching this, the Going Wrong podcast. So you should be able to see us also to on most of the major platforms. And it's been awesome. And thank you so much. I appreciate it.
Dave Debeau [00:18:18] Thank you very much. And thanks for watching you guys. And we'll see you on the next episode. Bye bye. Thanks very much for checking out the Property Profits podcast. We like what we're doing here. Please head on over to iTunes, subscribe read us and leave us to review. 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.