Podcast #078 – Interview with Sarah May, Aerospace Engineer transitioning out of her Day Job in Denver

Former aerospace engineer who became passionate about real estate investing, built up a rental portfolio, and has now moved into syndicating larger multifamily deals. She works with a great group of investors helping people move their money out of the stock market and into physical assets – real estate.

She lives in Colorado with her husband Alex, their 2-year old son Landon and enjoy the outdoors and activities like skiing, tennis, and biking.

Some dialogue from the show:

1) How much simple passive Cashflow are you making today and how are you doing it?:

My husband and I are making about $6-7k/month in passive cash flow from our 10 properties (22 units).

2) What is your Han Solo moment? Describe the resistance that was the catalyst for change:

For me, the main factor was knowing I didn’t want to stay in my then-current career path for the rest of my life. I had already been a student of real estate for several years, but finally I knew that if I didn’t want to be tied to an unfulfilling job for the rest of my life. I had to take action and starting building passive cash flow to support my lifestyle. For me the combination of desire + education = action.

3)Did you “burn the boats” or did you let it happen naturally? – was there an internal (you decided to make a change on own – what was thought process?) or external trigger (ie got fired from your job)?:

One thing that I’m incredibly grateful for is having a like-minded husband who I can brainstorm with. We both knew we wanted to build income from real estate, but we weren’t sure how we wanted to do it at first. Things happened fairly naturally, but it was a bit of a journey getting to where we are now. Our first “investment” as a married couple was a house we decided to fix up and sell. That was a major learning experience, and the biggest thing we learned was that we didn’t want to be house flippers!

After putting tons of sweat equity in the deal (even though we had a general contractor), we made less than $10k of profit on the deal. If we had kept it as a rental for just an extra year, we would have made $40k more from appreciation. Today, 5 years later, that house is worth nearly double what we sold if for after fixing it up. After that experience, we saw buy and hold real estate as the tried and true method of building wealth relatively passively, so we set the goal to buy 2 properties (2-4 units) per year and for the most part have stuck to that plan, and it’s worked out well.

4) Worst life/business moment what did you do after? Lesson learned?:

I’ll have to go back my previous example with the house flip. The main lessons I learned were not to use the same contractor as your house-flipping realtor since it creates a major conflict of interest, and also that you can make more income in a less stressful way by owning cash-flowing rental properties. I also learned that strong contracts can make all the difference in a sticky situation.

5) Current 2-week experiment and 6-month project? (90-180 day goal):

A mark of a high performer is to put your ego aside and accept the help of others and mastermind maybe folks can help you by you asking. My current 2-week experiment is to get my son to eat his vegetables! Just kidding, in reality my next big 2 week goal is closing on our 100 unit apartment syndication. My 6-month project is get the repositioning of the apartment community well under way and get into a good business rhythm.

We’re going to do a major remodelling project on the unit interiors and improve the property overall by adding covered parking, backyards, and a spruced-up office. Maybe in 6 months we’ll even have another property under contract by then!

6) What is your simple passive Cashflow number? Now imagine you had 2x that amount… Describe your ideal day, detailed routine, and what projects you are working on:

My current simple passive cashflow number is $6-7k/month. My goal is $12k/month. Twice that amount would open up new opportunities. My ideal day would involve some sort of time outside, exercise, a good cup of coffee, involvement with friends and community, self-development like reading books, and plenty of time with my husband and son. We’d go on quarterly vacations and also monthly mini-vacations hiking and camping near our home. I also would probably keep working on real estate!

7) Something that you have recently done or thought about “burning your cash” on for time savings or an improvement in quality of life:

Right now I’ve been focused on using my cash to buy great real estate investments. If I had to splurge on something, it probably would be a new car. My 2004 Saturn is starting to show age! Typically though, I’ve mostly spent my extra cash on things like vacations where the memories will last far longer than some new gadget.

8) Something that you changed your mind on?

Our ego often gets in the way of greatness. One lesson I’ve learned over the years is that sometimes, it’s okay not to have the nicest property on the block. Especially when it comes to rental property. There are plenty of people out there who need a safe, clean, functional place to live. We also have Section 8 tenants at some of our properties, and while I was very apprehensive about it at first, there are definite advantages. Also, these types of properties typically provide much better cash flow than the newer “Class A” buildings out there.

9) Tony Robbins identifies two large concepts that we are continually struggling to gain perfection at: #1-Art of Fulfillment and #2-Science of Achievement. If you died tomorrow and I were to email this to your kids a couple decades later… this is what they would hear:

a) What is your secret/hack for the “Science of Achievement?” Any secret habits to share? Morning or Nighttime ritual?:

I think the “Science of Achievement” for me can be summed up in one word – Perseverance. For me, I think I’ve been successful because I refuse to give up. Whether it was a tough homework assignment, a seemingly impossible-to-meet deadline, or navigating my first real estate deal, I found that if I kept at it long enough, the impossible became possible.

b) What is your secret/hack for the “Art of Fulfillment?” How you do contribute back?:

For me, the most fulfilling parts of the day is the time I spend with my husband and our 2-year-old son. I’m fulfilled by having a multi-dimensional life where I love working on my business and real estate, I love exploring the Colorado outdoors, and I love spending lots of time with my family.

10) Anything we missed and contact info if you would like anyone to get a hold of you. URL?

You can reach me at www.regencyinvestmentgroup.com through the Contact form, or just email me at sarah@regencyinvestmentgroup.com.