Featuring Guest: Mike Wolf
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Mike Wolf is a self made freedom lifestyle entrepreneur, seasoned investor, and international speaker. He has been investing in real estate for almost 30 years and has been involved in several other entrepreneurial ventures. He is a regular contributor in the media with his extensive background in business, entrepreneurship, and real estate. His experience investing in the U.S. as a Canadian has given Mike a unique perspective on taxation and other cross-border investing issues. Mike not only loves investing in real estate but he loves teaching his students about it as well. He has helped thousands of his students successfully invest in his turnkey properties and as well as teaching others strategy on how to do it themselves. Mike is passionate about showing people how to successfully invest and grow thriving businesses. Mike has a passion for entrepreneurship and sharing that wisdom with his students. As a heart centered entrepreneur his passion is giving back to the entrepreneurial community to help people make informed, educated business decisions to build long term passive income and wealth for themselves and their families. Mike helps people realize their dreams of creating both time, location, and financial freedom by teaching strategies to achieve passive income. Mike believes that you should love what you do every day and really enjoy life!
85 Mike Wolf
[00:00:00] Kristen: Welcome to this edition of insider secrets, the weekly podcast that turns real estate investing goals into reality. Each show we interview guests who are seasoned real estate professionals, actively closing and managing real estate deals. Mike is the founder of my core intentions and would like to help you make your real estate investing dreams a reality.
[00:00:22] Mike coaches you to buy investment real estate, creating short-term cashflow and long-term wealth, your host and real estate coach. Mike Morawski has more than 30 years of real estate investing and property management experience. Here’s your host, Mike.
[00:00:39] Mike Morawski: Hey everybody, welcome back. It is Mike, your host of Insider Secrets brought to you by My Core Intentions. Hope you had a great week. Today I’m excited about our guests. We’ll get to that in a minute though, here’s what I want to say. What are your intentions today? I’ve been talking a lot about the three disciplines that you start your day with. What are you intentional about? How about gratitude? Write down 3-5 things that you’re grateful for that are going to help you feel better about who you are and where you’re at today.
[00:01:09] How about exercise? Are you going to the gym? Are you working out? Are you going out for a walk or a run? What are you doing to get your body and your blood flowing? Then your prayer and scripture, your time with the Lord, prayer time, meditation, whatever that is for you in your life. I just say that those are the three things, the three daily disciplines, the best way to intentionally start your day that is really going to help you move to the next level. I say that because I always talk about the fact that we can’t take our business to the next level unless we grow personally.
[00:01:41] So we want to stay engaged. We want to continue to be fulfilled with gratitude and prayer and an exercise in our life. As a side note, please make sure that you’re following us on Instagram, LinkedIn, wherever you hang out on social media, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, all the platforms. Follow me, like me, love me on my personal page, as well as for My Core Intensions. Subscribe to us on YouTube so you get all the relevant information. This podcast we’re going to do today, you’ll get that right away if you subscribe. So I just want to make sure that I’m delivering good content to you and giving you what you need that’s going to help you grow your business.
[00:02:22] I’m excited, I want to dig in. My guest today is Mike Wolf. Mike, you want to say hi to everybody real quick?
[00:02:29] Mike Wolf: Hello. Thanks so much for having me, Mike.
[00:02:31] Mike Morawski: Appreciate you being here for sure. Being that this is Insider Secrets for multifamily, I am glad Mike’s a real estate investor that’s for sure. Mike’s a self-made freedom lifestyle entrepreneur. I love that, I can’t wait to dig into that. He’s a seasoned investor, international speaker and philanthropist. He has been investing in real estate for over 30 years. Finally, somebody who’s got as much time in as me.
[00:02:55] Mike Wolf: I think that makes me old, I don’t know.
[00:02:56] Mike Morawski: It makes me old too, for sure. He’s been involved in numerous other entrepreneurial ventures, a regular contributor, a thought leader and a result of his background in business and real estate, he’s a true entrepreneur. Mike, I love to talk about all those things today. Welcome to the show.
[00:03:13] Mike Wolf: Thanks again for having me. Us Mike’s have to stick together, so it’s good to be here.
[00:03:17] Mike Morawski: That’s for sure. Here’s one thing I know for sure. I will not get tripped up on the name today.
[00:03:21] Mike Wolf: That’s one less thing to remember.
[00:03:23] Mike Morawski: So Mike, first thing I ask all my guests, in one word what best describes you personally and professionally?
[00:03:30] Mike Wolf: I think my favorite word is free. When I talk about free, I don’t just mean financially free, although that’s definitely a part of it. I know a lot of my friends are financially free, but they don’t have some of the other freedoms, like time freedom, health freedom. So I feel like I’m free on so many different levels. And to me that’s so important, especially right now during the COVID era, it feels good to be free.
[00:03:52] Mike Morawski: Yeah, it’s nice to be able to get out again. You’re in Florida right now, that’s not where you live, but you’re traveling and they’re pretty free down there, huh?
[00:04:00] Mike Wolf: They’re very free over here, which really suits me. I’m actually from Canada and Canada has been pretty locked down throughout this whole pandemic. Even before COVID I was a full-time traveler. So I didn’t really let COVID stop me from enjoying my freedom, but it is good to be in Florida. The weather is certainly a lot better than Canada as well, in addition to all the other things.
[00:04:20] Mike Morawski: Nice. Mike, let’s dig in, how’d you get in real estate, fill in some holes for us and some background.
[00:04:26] Mike Wolf: It was a mistake and it was probably the best mistake I’ve ever made. I remember when i was in grade 12, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up and I still haven’t really fully grown up, but I had no idea what I wanted to do. My parents were always driving into my head, “Mike, you should be a doctor or lawyer.” And I’m terrified of blood, so doctor was off the table, right from square one. So I decided lawyer sounds cool because you see these shows on TV and they always have those fancy offices and it look glamorous. Anyway, I went and got my first degree and with that first degree came a whole bunch of student loans and I decided, “you know what, before I go back and get even further in debt, I want to pay this stuff off.” Got a job at a phone company of all places because my friend’s mother was a manager there. And while I was there, I managed to get my credit pretty good and made a decent wage.
[00:05:16] I bought my first home to live in and shortly after I did that my mortgage broker calls me up and goes, “Mike, if you want, you’re making enough money. I could probably get you another mortgage if you wanted to buy another property.” I remember thinking to myself, another property, I’m a single guy. Why do I need a second property? Then he explained to me, “it’s not for you, you buy it, you put a tenant in there, they paid down your mortgage and in 25 years from now the thing is free and clear and that’s your retirement.” So I bought a second property and I didn’t know any due diligence back then. So I just bought something that looked pretty and it was close to where I lived, which I don’t recommend you use as your due diligence criteria by the way. But that’s what I did.
[00:05:53] Then a couple years after I did that, the market took off. All of a sudden I was sitting on a fair chunk of equity in both my principal residence and in this rental property. At that point I was hooked because I had made more money in real estate, not even knowing what I’m doing, then I did working that two and a half year period at the phone company. So I probably did what anybody in their mid twenties would do, I quit my job. Not really thinking that I don’t qualify for mortgages anymore. I went and told my parents that lawyer thing that was your dream, that’s not my dream. I’m a real estate investor. I remember my mother driving me crazy saying, “get your second degree so you have something to fall back on. I said, “mom, don’t worry, I got this.” She was actually right, I probably should’ve gotten that second degree cause the next deal after that, I lost a lot of what I made because I didn’t know the due diligence stuff. I just happened to get lucky. But that’s how I got my start in real estate. Like I said, it was not on purpose, but I have no regrets whatsoever about it.
[00:06:44] Mike Morawski: Yeah. Nice, good job. I love that. I probably got a couple hundred episodes done, between my two podcasts and some others that I’ve been on, but I think you’re the first person that’s ever said by accident you got in this business. That’s kind of interesting.
[00:06:58] Mike Wolf: It’s funny because I get a lot of people that come to me saying, ” I don’t know if I’m cut out for this, or it was never even on my radar.” It was never something I even aspired to do, that I even thought about doing until I happened to have that first success. Like I said, it was a double-edged sword because on the one hand, all of a sudden I had some equity to play with, but on the other hand, sometimes it’s like when you win the lottery, almost everybody who wins a lottery ends up losing that money usually sooner than later. Of course I had this cockiness and arrogance and I didn’t have the slightest clue what I was doing. I just happened to get really lucky in that first deal. But with that luck also came this passion for it and just thinking, man, why do I want to do anything else?
[00:07:37] I thought it was too easy. Of course I’ve since learned that there is some work involved and a learning curve, for sure. But I’m so glad I didn’t go into law, no offense to any lawyers listening. I would have been horrible at it because I’m very non-confrontational for one. Number two, I’m glad I escaped from the phone company, but I should have probably stayed there a little bit longer to qualify for mortgages, that would have made my life a little easier.
[00:07:57] Mike Morawski: Did you grow up in Canada?
[00:07:59] Mike Wolf: I did. I was born and raised in Montreal and then we moved to Calgary when I was 11 years old. That’s where I got my start in real estate. But after that, I got a taste of stuff on your side of the border, you guys have it really good. It’s just so much easier. The numbers make a lot more sense down here, so I’ve been investing in the U.S. for probably about 17, 18 years now. Before that it was all in Canada.
[00:08:20] Mike Morawski: Are you French-Canadian?
[00:08:21] Mike Wolf: I was actually born in Montreal, which typically would mean that I am. However, I grew up in one of the few communities that’s largely English speaking. So I speak a little bit of French. I am very far from fluent unfortunately, I wish I did. When we moved to Western Canada, very few people speak French there, never really had much need for it.
[00:08:39] Mike Morawski: Interesting. Just curious sometimes about, it’s pretty interesting today, with how you can get support staff for your business and people to help you, and I’ve got a VA from the Philippines and one from Portugal and you find out about cultures and that’s what I love about doing podcasts too. Cause you and I would have never met. I have met some interesting people from around the world, which has been kind of cool. Let’s talk about multifamily as an asset class, and here’s what I want you to talk about: why are you in multifamily? Other than industrial or commercial or single family. What’s the attractiveness to you about that?
[00:09:14] Mike Wolf: For me, I do some multifamily, but I’m a pretty open-minded about doing other types of deals as well. Matter of fact, I own a ton of single family rental properties and that works really well for me. The big advantage to multi of course is you have everything under one roof and that creates economies of scale and it does make it easier. However, one of the things that I like to teach people is that in addition to that, if multi-family is your thing, while you’re doing that, you can certainly keep other things on your radar as well.
[00:09:43] For example, one of my students we’ve taught him multifamily, we also taught him single family. I’ve taught him a number of different strategies. And he hasn’t had the confidence to go pull the trigger on a multifamily deal, but he’s gone in and done seven or eight wholesale deals. He’s 22 years old, he’s made almost $200,000 doing that. So one of the things I like to tell people, if you’re a real estate investor and you’re on the front lines, or you’re doing what you need to do, which is networking and looking for deals, I don’t recommend putting your blinders on and saying, “that’s single family. I don’t want to go.”
[00:10:11] If you find a good single family deal, even if you don’t want to buy it yourself, Connect somebody else who could benefit from that deal and get paid something in the middle. So I love multifamily, but I love the other asset classes as well. I don’t necessarily specialize in all of them. But if I found a really good deal on industrial, I know nothing about industrial, but if somebody came to me said, Hey, I got this great industrial deal and I knew somebody who does industrial, I’m going to definitely connect them. I’m a big fan of not keeping blinders on and just being open-minded to the other stuff going on.
[00:10:40] Really the stuff you do to find those multi-family deals, you’re certainly going to come across other stuff that maybe doesn’t fit your portfolio. But there’s other people you can wholesale that to. Anyway, I love the whole real estate game and multifamily is certainly amazing. It’s got some extra added benefits and different profit centers that you don’t have in other asset classes. It’s a great strategy. I know right now it’s getting a little bit tougher to find the deals, but I think we’re going to turn the corner here pretty soon. I think we’re going to see some changes in the market.
[00:11:09] Mike Morawski: Okay. So let’s talk about that. There’s a couple of things I really want to unpack, but you brought it up right now so let’s do that. Let’s talk about the changes coming. You’ve been in the business 30 years. I’ve been in the business 30 years. We both went through 2008, maybe in different ways. We handled the 90’s and that recession and desert storm and all those things that have happened. What do you see today that’s different or similar? Where are we headed?
[00:11:35] Mike Wolf: Yeah, so there’s going to be some similarities and there’s going to be some differences from 2008. I think the biggest difference we’re seeing people are realizing that, “hey, we don’t have to go to an office anymore.” For a lot of people. And so they don’t necessarily have to be in the city center where the office buildings are. So we’re seeing people moving, looking for value. A lot of people are leaving inner-city, moving more to the burbs. We see a lot of people leaving different cities, looking for a lower cost of living.
[00:12:04] We see people leaving in droves from California, for example, looking for a better taxes and a better politics. And so we’re seeing some mass exoduses and obviously there’s different places that benefit from that. So right now I’m a really big fan of Atlanta and I have been for many years. That’s because they’re very business friendly. So a lot of corporations go there and create jobs. And of course, wherever there’s jobs, you’re going to get an influx of people. And so to me, it’s always about being ahead of the curve. So I would be looking for places that are going to have increasing population bases.
[00:12:37] Those are great places to have both multi-family, single-family, any type of rental properties, because people are going to move there. They won’t be able to immediately qualify for a mortgage and they’re going to need to rent somewhere. Unlike 2008, it’s going to be not universal where every single market’s being impacted in a downward fashion. I think we’re going to see some markets get hit pretty bad. What comes to mind is, California, New York, et cetera. And we’re going to see other places really benefiting from that. Atlanta is definitely a good example of that. We’re seeing a lot of stuff happening in Texas right now.
[00:13:08] The Californian’s are moving to Texas, Phoenix, Vegas, Idaho of all places. I never thought I’d see people leaving the beach to go somewhere cold, but that’s a Canadian who always likes to head south. But I think those are the trends. People just looking to lower their cost of living and also realizing some of the trends. We don’t need to be in inner city, we can just hop on Zoom. We can be anywhere we want and so those changes are going to really create some opportunities for people that are following the trends and where people are moving to.
[00:13:36] Mike Morawski: Sure. I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately and I’m not an economist, but I certainly like to listen to some of that. I think because it’s stretches me and that’s one of the things over the years about coaching and mentoring ship is it always stretched me. It’s just interesting where they’re saying the markets are headed. I just looked at a report that came out of one of the analytical platforms and they said that in 2022 the Tampa market, and I’m heavy in Tampa, but the Tampa market is going to see a 15 to 17% rent increase.
[00:14:15] In 2023, we’ll see 13 to 15% rent increase in 24 the election year, that should drop to about 3%. That’s a huge drop, but I also see how that could happen. It’s just interesting where I think we’re headed. You brought it up, high population migration places, there’s a safety factor in that, but what are you doing in your underwriting today that might be different? How are you looking at returns for your investors. What are you looking at differently that way?
[00:14:47] Mike Wolf: The big thing is right now if you get into some of these markets, including Atlanta, if you look at the current ROI or your cash on cash returns…etc, they’re not that high. We’ve been investing in Atlanta for probably 11 years now and when I look at the returns back then compared to now they’ve dropped quite a bit because the house prices have been going up steadily and COVID definitely contributed a lot to that. But you have to be a little bit ahead of the curve and you have to say, “I’m paying a premium for the home right now, I’m paying a premium for the real estate. However, the rents are going to start to catch up.” And they are, they’re starting to go up and so you need to be a little bit mindful of the fact that everything is cyclical and the rents haven’t gone up as quickly as the properties, but the properties are probably going to stabilize in terms of price and the rent is going to continue to go up. So I’m sometimes willing to give up some of that cash flow in the short term for the longer term picture, just seeing where that market’s going.
[00:15:39] Then also knowing that as long as the companies are creating all these jobs and they should continue to, what we’re going to see, it’s almost guaranteed we’re going to have more and more people moving there, which of course leads to higher rents and eventually higher house prices as well. So you just have to be a little bit able to have that crystal ball, look into the future and not just look at it how is it right now. If you look at it right now and you say, “hey I’ve got to get X percent cash on cash return or I’m not interested.” If you just focus on that, it’s probably going to lead you down that rabbit hole that takes you to some markets that are probably going to have decreasing population.
[00:16:14] There’s a reason why they’re cheap. In the long run, you’re not going to end up where you should be, it’s going to look great on paper and I call that paper return stuff. It looks awesome on paper, but never really pans out. I’d rather go for the longterm and just, always have that long-term approach. The other thing I would say is just realize that real estate is cyclical. So even some of these markets, like we’re seeing a mass migration of people away from California as we mentioned earlier. Well it’s cyclical, at some point that market, if it gets more affordable, other people are gonna say, “oh, we’ve always wanted to move to California. We never could afford to. Now we can.” So just realize that things are always going to keep cycling and always be mindful of the long-term, not just the short term.
[00:16:55] Mike Morawski: It makes a lot of sense. So let’s talk about this, bringing capital in, where do you raise your capital? Do you raise it in Canada or do you raise it in the U.S? Let’s talk about raising capital.
[00:17:05] Mike Wolf: Yeah. I’m in a very fortunate position that I’m pretty much self-funded these days. It didn’t start like that, obviously. If I was raising capital, some of the things I look at it and I would be doing both Canada and the U.S., I’ve got a pretty big following in Canada, got a pretty big following in the U.S. I think that the main things are number one: there’s so many people that got cash in their retirement funds and they don’t realize that they have other options besides, mutual funds and stocks. They don’t know that they can make that self-directed.
[00:17:33] So one of the things that I like to target is people that have their money tied up in their retirement funds. Nobody is ever happy with their returns on their retirement money. So if you can go and find people that aren’t even aware, they can go invest that with you and turn that into a mortgage with you and teach them, educate them on how to self-direct it, or put them in touch with the right people that can do that.
[00:17:56] There are just billions of dollars sitting there from people that don’t know what they can do with it. So that’s number one. Then the number two thing I would say is there were times in the early part of my career when I would use other people’s money and sometimes the deal didn’t quite go to plan. And I gave them a certain promise that we’re going to make X amounts on the deal. And it didn’t quite pan out exactly how I thought. I’d always find a way to make sure that they got exactly what I promised, they didn’t know there was a problem, they never knew there was a problem. I’d always find a way, even if I took the zero, even if I took a loss, I’d always make sure that my investors got paid what they were expecting.
[00:18:31] The reason you want to do that is if you get somebody who’s happy with the returns you’re getting them. They have no need to go anywhere else. They’re going to keep investing with you. I found a lot of my early investors were lawyers and dentists and doctors and who do they go golfing with? A dentist is hanging out on the golf course with other dentists and they talk about money and if one of the dentist says, “Hey, I invest with Mike Wolf and he’s got me this return. Well now all of a sudden you have all these other people coming to you.
[00:18:56] I know a lot of people, if you’re just starting out, it seems like a really daunting task to find other people’s money and get investors on board. The good news is once you get a few of them, that’s really all you need. All it takes is one really good connection and they’ll start bringing their friends to you and money will not be a problem again.
[00:19:13] Mike Morawski: Where do you go find those people? So you talked about a demographic that sounded like these people have money in IRAs or in the stock market. They don’t know that they can reinvest that or do self-directed IRAs. Where do you go find that person?
[00:19:30] Mike Wolf: So these days obviously it’s a lot easier with things like social media. LinkedIn you could target dentists for example. But back in my days, I know I’m sounding like when I was your age, I know I’m giving that speech that my grandpa used to give me, but back in the day I would do things such as I would put on real estate events. So just a small, like little get together of people and just teach real estate. A lot of people don’t think they have money to invest, but they don’t realize that you’ve got equity in your property or you’ve got retirement money. So I would put on little events and sometimes I would gently promote some of the things that I was doing, for example.
[00:20:03] So there’s a lot of different ways these days if I was brand new and I was looking to get other investors, I would set up a meetup group, go to meetup.com. And for those of you not familiar, if you’re in Tampa for example, you can go put Tampa real estate investors group and then put on a meeting every now and then, or these days you can even do it over Zoom and just let people know what you’re doing. When you’re the person on stage, they tend to look up to you. Obviously you’re going to only put good deals in front of them, but if you find something that makes sense, quite often you get people to invest in your projects and I’m not sure what the laws are anymore in terms of raising money.
[00:20:38] It may have changed over the years, but that’s what I did a lot of back in the day, just educate people. It wasn’t like invest in my stuff, it was always about adding value to them first and teaching them and saying, if you want to get into investing and you don’t have any deals yet. I’ve got this deal on my plate right now and we can do it together as a joint venture. So that’s how I got my start doing this. But like I said, make sure you check with the laws, so much has changed in terms of securities commission and things like that, but that’s what I would do.
[00:21:06] On social media, if you’re on Facebook and Instagram, post what you’re doing, especially if you’re new at a real estate. Let’s say you’re like me and you were working for the phone company right now if you’re doing something else, people associate you with whatever they know that you’re doing. If they don’t know that you’re investing in real estate, they’re going to say “you don’t know anything about real estate, you’re the telephone company guy.” So start posting things, even if you don’t have a successful deal yet. Plant seeds that you’re an investor, that you’re looking for other investors to team up with. That’s what I would do these days, taking advantage of the social media options that are out there.
[00:21:38] Mike Morawski: Nice. Yeah, that’s a lot there, and I think you’re right about social media. I think that this contraption here is probably the best tool that we have today in any business. When I was selling real estate, I worked for a guy, and he used to say, “you might be a real estate agent, but you are a marketing person. You’re a real estate agent wrapped in a marketing blanket and you need to figure out how to market yourself.” I think that social media gives us the ability to do that today. To let people know who we are. Then they like us love us, trust us, and that’s where it comes from. If you’re a new syndicator, if you’re somebody out there looking for direction, Mike, you and I could tell the same story. Just wait, because I did those seminars too. The first money I ever raised I put a little ad in the paper that said: “real estate investors wanted.” It was a $45 ad ran three days, raised half a million bucks in six months. It was crazy.
[00:22:35] Mike Wolf: That brings back such good memories. I used to do a lot of that classified ads and we’re really dating ourselves now, but man, they got it so easy. You don’t even have to pay, you can put your stuff on YouTube, you can set up meet up groups almost free like oh man, anyway.
[00:22:48] Mike Morawski: But the return on the investment was huge. $500,000 for a little three-line classified ad. But anyhow it was all good. Mike, did you do a Ted talk?
[00:22:57] Mike Wolf: I did actually this past January in Las Vegas, I was on the TEDx stage and I was talking about happiness and fulfillment, which are topics very near and dear to my heart. That should be the ultimate goal. So many people, we’re chasing money and money’s great and it’s necessary, we need to have it. I have some very successful friends that are real estate investors, they’re successful financially. If you looked at their bank account, very successful. If there was an account that measured happiness and an account that measured fulfillment, they’d be extremely low in those accounts.
[00:23:26] So I find when you’re off balance, when you don’t have an even keel and your life You can have lots of money and still be very miserable. I’m thinking of one of my friends actually, right now he’s a really successful flipper. Whenever I want to go see him, it’s like “hey, do you want to grab dinner?” It’s a ” no, I got to go.” If I want to have a conversation with him, I have to go into his car as he drives some property or property, making sure his teams are there. Anyway, to me, balance is one of the most important things. And I remember, I’m speaking not hypothetically, when I was younger, I was a workaholic.
[00:23:54] I got really good at making money, but my health was falling apart, my relationships were falling apart. Everything else behind the scenes was not good. My Ted talk was a lot on giving back and creating fulfillment and taking time to recharge your batteries. I think investors need to put some of their stuff on autopilot and create passive income as opposed to always being on the front lines, trading their time for money.
[00:24:17] Mike Morawski: Yeah. I have a great connection for you. I’ll make a virtual introduction when we’re done with a friend of mine who is really involved in the happiness space.
[00:24:26] Mike Wolf: Love it, thank you.
[00:24:28] Mike Morawski: So I think you guys would have a bunch to talk about. So here’s what I want to talk about real quick is that ability to bring money over the Canadian border? Whether you are bringing your own capital, cause you said you’re self funded or whether you’re bringing investors capital, how easy or difficult is that to do today to invest in the U.S?
[00:24:47] Mike Wolf: It’s actually super, super easy, there’s certain things you want to do to protect yourself when you’re moving your money. That part’s easy, just a matter of set up a wire and a few hours later, it’s in my U.S. account. However, if you’re a Canadian listening to this, before you get invested in the U.S and start doing cross border stuff, you really need to figure out what your cross border taxes are going to look like and what sort of entities you need to structure. So moving the money is the easy part, it’s figuring out how to strategically invest so that you’re not giving up all your money to both governments and being double taxed and subjected to withholding taxes. So there’s a lot of considerations that you need to know.
[00:25:24] But moving money is a piece of cake and the great thing is there’s some years where I make a lot of money just converting currency because sometimes the U.S. Dollar gets particularly strong as the Canadian dollar. Other times it’s the opposite, where the Canadian dollars starts to do really well. When it gets to certain levels, I’ll move money. I usually keep all my American money in the states and all my Canadian money in Canada, but then when there’s a really good time to convert the currency then I’ll do that. I do a big lump sum and quite often I make more than that currency exchange, just going back and forth, maybe a couple of times a year, but I used to make actually working.
[00:25:57] So there are some pluses as well, but you definitely need to be educated on what you’re doing before you jump in. Not just for Canadians, for any foreigners that want to invest in the U.S, you really need to have a good strategy. Also know what the laws are, the investing laws are pretty easy, but just the tax structures and entities and ways to make sure that you get to keep your profits as opposed to sharing it with a lot of government. We don’t want to share with too many government agencies, sharing with ones bad enough, when you have two it’s not good. So you have to be set up properly for that.
[00:26:29] Mike Morawski: It seems like your life is well-balanced right, and that you might not have a lot of stress, but I’d imagine, closing a real estate deal or finding a deal and underwriting. It provides a little bit of stress in your life. How do you make high stake decisions in your world?
[00:26:44] Mike Wolf: I’m very lucky. As I mentioned, I used to be a workaholic and now I call myself a playaholic. Some of the things that I had to do to get from there to here is I had to become really good at delegating and building teams, putting systems in place and my business pretty much runs itself. Like for example, I mentioned I like to do real estate in Atlanta. One of my businesses is I sell turnkey rental properties in and around Atlanta. I’ve got people on my team, it’s not me on the front lines. It’s my money, my teams, my systems, but it’s not me trading my time. So I’ve got people on my team, their main job is to go and shmooze bankers so we can acquire their properties. They’ll buy big packages, sometimes 20, 30, 40 homes at a time. Then once they get the properties, they hand it off to our inspectors, our inspectors come up with a punch list of all the things that need to be done in all the homes.
[00:27:36] Then it gets handed off to our contractors to fix everything up and then it goes to our property management team that fills a vacancy. Then I’ve got people that sell my properties all over the globe for me and it pretty much runs itself. I have a bunch of rental properties, I’ve got teams that manage them, that runs itself. The only thing that really takes up my time these days, I do mentor some students, but I love doing it so it never really feels like I’m working. I guess the moral of the story is when I used to work hard, my parents always brought me up to work hard.
[00:28:04] My mother got divorced when I was two, and from two to seven, I didn’t have a dad. I don’t know how my mother did it, but she always managed to put food on the table. Me and my brother, we never were lacking in anything, we didn’t even know we were poor. She always brought me up to not be like my biological dad who said, “you’re the breadwinner, you’ve got to go and you gotta work hard. You got to make sure there’s always food on the table.” I always had that in the back of my mind, work hard, work hard, work hard. I’ve got two grandkids now I’m not teaching them to work hard, I’m teaching them to work smart. When you work hard, when I used to work 12 to 14 hour days as a workaholic, I can only accomplish so much because I was the bottleneck in my business.
[00:28:38] There was only so much I could do in a day. Now I’ve got teams that do 99% of the stuff for me, and we can achieve a lot more, we’ve sold 1200 homes in Atlanta over the last 11 years or so. I could not have done that as a one man show. I love my parents, I appreciate them for that advice, but I think working smart and learning how to give up a little bit of that control goes a long way these days.
[00:28:59] Nice. So switch gears a little bit, talk about technology. Your business is so streamlined today and you’ve got some things that are really working well for you. What are your couple best pieces of technology that you use today?
[00:29:12] Yeah, once again, I’m super fortunate because I am not really that great with technology, but I’ve got people on my teams that I delegate to that have a lot of our stuff streamlined for us. So I think if I had to pick my three best resources, I’d say it’s not the technology itself. It’s teams and people that know how to use that to make the technology work. If it was just me, I’m lucky that I can get on Zoom by myself. I don’t even know my passwords to 90% of the stuff that we use nor would I even know how to use it if I got in there. So to me, my favorite resources are teams, systems. If you have a team without a system, then you’re going to be the bottlenecks still.
[00:29:49] Imagine, we bought a package of 20 homes in Atlanta, and then if my team was calling me all day long, “Hey, what color paint should we put in this house? Or what kind of carpet?” I’m going to be just as busy as if I was doing the work myself. So you have to have good systems in place where every home is very similar. I strive to be the McDonald’s of real estate investing and I don’t particularly like McDonald’s food, but their systems are incredible.
[00:30:12] You can take a bunch of high school kids in Las Vegas and they’ll have a very similar product if you go to Thailand to McDonald’s with their high school students, they have a very standardized product. That comes from having the right systems in place so that things happen without you having to be front and center with it. The third thing, I would say the right mentors on the team to help build some of these things, help to find some of the opportunities. There’s stuff that you don’t know that you don’t know. So I have a bunch of coaches and mentors that even to this day that helped me with different things, sometimes it’s real estate.
[00:30:42] Like for example, I want to learn self storage, I’ve never done a self storage project in my life, but I’d like to, I can see the value potentially in that. So I’m going to be hiring somebody to show me the ropes. How do you do this? And I think everybody needs coaches. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in this business, it’s very important. Those are the three main things. If I was starting fresh,and I didn’t have the resources I have right now, I might be looking at some of the software that makes life easy.
[00:31:06] PropStream is definitely one of them, for example. But the other stuff I can’t even tell you cause I have other people do it for me, to be honest. I think the main thing is just to have the right people surrounding you, that can help you with wherever you fall short, because we may be good at certain things, but nobody’s good at everything. So it’s just important to be surrounded with good people that can help you do that.
[00:31:24] Mike Morawski: Yeah, for sure. Well-spoken, well-spoken. So this show is Insider Secrets, I always like to give my listeners something, what would you classify as a secret for you that has helped you get to where you’re at today in your career?
[00:31:40] Mike Wolf: If we go back to my story of how I got started, that mistake I made in buying that first property. Like I said, I was super lucky that first deal was a success. Had that gone bad, I might be on your show right now talking about legal stuff, I would not be talking about real estate investing. If I had to redo, to go back in time, I would have hired a mentor, right from the start. I would have hired somebody to show me the way, cause there’s so many strategies. I’ve now learned over the years that I had that wasn’t on my radar back then.
[00:32:06] One of my favorite strategies is when somebody hasn’t paid their property taxes in a number of years, the county needs that money for their schools, hospitals, police, fire, et cetera. They put these homes up on the auction block for pennies on the dollar. Back in the old days, I thought I had to save a down payment, qualify for a morgage, and that’s a lengthy process. There’s nothing wrong with that, you’ll eventually get to your goals, it’s just going to take a long time. I’ve picked up homes for $7,000, $8,000 at some of these auctions.
[00:32:33] I would say the biggest thing I would do differently and that I recommend if I had an insider secret is to get your mentor as early as possible. I’d recommend you get your map before you go into the woods, that’s a time to get out your map. I could have done things a lot smarter, a lot more efficiently, and I’m certainly grateful for them. I’m not in any way complaining, but had I hired a mentor, especially after that first success, I didn’t really know what I was doing. So on the second deal, I lost a lot of my profits from the first one. Luckily I had enough money left over at that point, that I could hire a mentor and that made all the difference. If I could go back, that would be first thing. Even to this day, I still have mentors and coaches that are teaching me things I don’t know. I don’t try to wing it anymore. Winging it will help you lose all your money and probably knock you out of the game very early in your career.
[00:33:17] Mike Morawski: Yeah. Interesting. Don’t you have a book or something that you wrote?
[00:33:21] Mike Wolf: I do have an ebook. I find it hard to write a real estate book. If I wrote something more on money habits or mindset, that stuff is timeless. Real estate as you and I both know, things change so quickly. So I like to write e-books, where I talk about the top strategy you can do right now. I wrote it during COVID because I saw so many people losing their jobs, losing their businesses and trying to reinvent themselves. I know real estate, if they knew what they were doing, would be their ticket to get back in the game. It’s like maybe 25 pages long, but it talks about the best strategies that you can be doing right now, even if you have very little or no capital, and I’m happy to give it away for free to your viewers and listeners.
[00:34:01] Mike Morawski: Great. Yeah, we’ll circle back to that in a minute. So as we wind this thing down, I always like to go to the last three questions, a little bit of fun, and these might be good with you because you do a lot of traveling and you get around a little bit. Best tourist attraction?
[00:34:17] Mike Wolf: Oh boy, that is so tough, I’ve been to 75 countries. I wish I could pick more than one. But if I could pick just one, I think the one that had the most significance to me, there’s a volcano in Costa Rica called Arenal, and it used to be very active until probably around 10 years ago. Now it’s been dormant for the last little bit, but I remember the first time I saw that thing erupt, I was just like mesmerized, but it had a really lasting effect on me. I was staying at this hotel facing directly at the volcano and it had a beautiful room. I had a lawn chair on a balcony and I never actually slept in my bed, I remember, I’d be sitting on my deck and all of a sudden the volcano would erupt, my jaw just dropped and all the animals went silent. It was a very spiritual experience for me so I picked that as my top one, but we could do a whole segment just on places. We should do a travel segment one day.
[00:35:05] Mike Morawski: Yeah. Interesting. That’s pretty cool. How about best book you’ve ever read?
[00:35:10] Mike Wolf: I don’t know. Boy, another really tough question. I think besides the obvious ones, Think and Grow Rich and Rich Dad Poor Dad, which everybody knows, there’s so many. And Gary Keller, The One Thing, that’s a great book by the way. Probably my favorite book, there’s one called Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think. It’s by somebody named Peter Diamandis, he used to work for for NASA and he always had a dream of getting regular people into outer space instead of just astronauts. And it talks a lot, especially right now, we’re really down or we’re thinking the world is coming to an end and everything is falling apart. It’s more about how great we have it right now. Just a really fascinating read, he’s got a few books since then, but that’s still my favorite one of his.
[00:35:48] Mike Morawski: Nice. Then last one favorite food restaurant?
[00:35:52] Mike Wolf: All right. I’m what I call sinning vegan. I’m a very strict vegetarian, and not as strict vegan. But my favorite restaurants are vegan ones. So I’m going to give a shout out to Shojin, which is a vegan sushi restaurant. There’s two locations in LA, one’s in Korea. Anyway, look them up, they’re both amazing. I’m going to add one more, I know you asked for one, but I’m going to sneak another one in, cause I was just there. I was just in Las Vegas and it was a place called Veggie House, which if you’re vegan or even if you’re not, it’s amazing. Check them out.
[00:36:21] Mike Morawski: Yeah, for sure, have to do that. Mike, how do people get ahold of you. How do they get ahold of your book? Where can they find you?
[00:36:27] Mike Wolf: You can go to mikewolfmastery.com and while you’re on my website, there’s going to be a little pop-up that shows up saying, “hey, if you want my free ebook, just sign up” and we’ll give it to you for free. So it’s mikewolfmastery.com and you can also email me at mikewolfmastery.com.
[00:36:45] Mike Morawski: Awesome. Mike, it has been a pleasure to learn about you. I’m more intrigued with you than when we first met. You’ve had a lot of great things to say, and I certainly hope that my listeners walk away with some insight today about investing in opportunity. The one thing that really stuck out for me is that here you are about 30 years in the business and you really have your business on auto operation. You’ve got a business that kind of, functions and gives you a lifestyle that you can live in full happiness and just really enjoying what you’re doing. That made a lot of sense to me today. I hope my listeners tuned into that and look at what the possibilities are, because I think you’re a great example of what the possibilities are and how do you get there. So thanks for that.
[00:37:33] Mike Wolf: Oh thank you. Thanks for having me. That’s actually one of my favorite topics cause I think we get into this business to create freedom and sometimes it does the opposite. So just never, ever lose sight of that. Never lose sight of the fact that’s what you’re trying to create. It’s so easy to turn to a workaholic in this industry cause it’s fun, it’s addictive, it’s always exciting to put deals together, but it can easily overtake your entire life and everything else, like I said, could fall out of balance. So you’ve got to keep an eye on that.
[00:37:59] Mike Morawski: Yeah, absolutely. Well-spoken. Listen everybody, thanks for being here this week. You can get this episode on any podcast platform, Spotify, Apple, anywhere you hang out and get your podcasts. You can even ask Alexa to play the most current version of Insider Secrets and Mike’s episode is going to come up. Mike, thanks for being here today and I certainly look forward to staying in touch and connecting again with you.
[00:38:26] Mike Wolf: Thanks so much for having me and we will definitely be keeping in touch.