Workers were adding the finishing touches to a Ranch-style home just when an all-black Tesla Model 3 pulled up to the job site. As the door opened, an investor stepped out into the Dallas, Texas, heat. Enthusiasm emanated from this seasoned flipper as he encouraged his team and lent a hand. This is Don’nell Greer.
With over 200 flipped houses under his belt, Greer is a real estate pro who has managed to build an impressive real estate machine. He started in Dallas and has since expanded his operations to include the entire Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, as well as parts of St. Louis, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
Despite his ever-growing success, this Lone Star State flipper remains eternally grateful for his situation and wants to help others find financial freedom. In this article, Don’nell shares how he got started, tips for investors, and other key takeaways from his storied career in real estate. Whether you’re a veteran investor or a newbie, there’s plenty to learn from his story.
Becoming a Real Estate Agent
Greer’s journey began in a marketing class at the University of Texas – Arlington. In class, he was tasked with selling a software product to a CEO in his area. Imagine Shark Tank but for college students trying to land jobs or internships.
After hearing Don’nell’s presentation, the CEO was blown away and offered him a sales position at his IT company. Excitement over his first job out of college quickly turned into sadness as he envisioned a life making an average salary.
Anyone who knows Don’nell would tell you that average isn’t in his vocabulary. He began searching for ways to make a better living and stumbled across real estate. One of his friends was a real estate agent and explained that commissions from selling houses were making him $30,000 per month.
A lightbulb went off. Don’nell signed up for a virtual real estate agent training the same night. He saw the potential and became a licensed real estate agent shortly thereafter.
It wasn’t long before he was a top-producing agent at Century 21. However, it was clear to him that there were only so many hours in a day that he could work. He wanted to start finding ways to make money work for him.
His First Foray Into Real Estate Investing
Don’nell started to Google things like “how to grow a business” and “how to get rich.” Naturally, he discovered real estate investing, which combined his existing skill set as an agent with a proven way to build wealth.
That’s when he stumbled upon articles written by Brandon Turner and David Greene’s “BRRRR.”
To Greer, it “felt like it would take too long to save up for properties. I was still a newer agent and wanted to find a way to stretch my cash. At first, I thought the BRRRR method was a scam because it was too good to be true.”
After doing research, connecting with people on the BiggerPockets forums, and trying it himself, he realized that the BRRRR really was an amazing way to recycle money.
On his first deal, he was able to successfully execute the BRRRR method. He bought a house for $80,000, did a $15,000 rehab, and the property was appraised for $165,000. This success was the catalyst that propelled his career forward.
Success is More Than Just the Tip of the Iceberg
Hearing about Greer’s early success may be inspiring to some, yet feel like a fairy tale to those who have struggled to break into this industry. From the surface level, it may seem like he got lucky, but any successful investor will tell you there’s far more to it than meets the eye.
It took countless hours, hard work, and faith in himself to get to where he is now. These are some of the lessons he learned along the way.
Create win-win situations
Once, while door knocking, Greer asked a gentleman who opened their door, “Have you ever thought about selling your home?” The man who answered said that he’d always wanted to move back into his childhood home, but another family had owned it.
Later that day, Greer plucked through county records and got ahold of the other family. It just so happened that they were interested in selling. To make things short, Greer was able to broker a sale between both parties, leaving everyone happy.
But the story didn’t end there.
The man who bought his childhood home invited Don’nell over to show him the renovations he’d done since closing. It had been completely transformed from a gut job into something straight out of HGTV. Seeing the potential for something bigger, the man became Don’nell’s go-to contractor. They proceeded to flip several houses together.
Sometimes people are so hyper-focused on getting the best deal for themselves that they forget about the other people in the transaction. In reality, the best investors find ways to create win-win scenarios.
Learn the power of leverage
It takes money to make money in real estate. “The money doesn’t need to be yours, though,” says Greer.
Don’nell got the capital for his first deal from a family he was very close with. He joked that the 10% return he gave them was way more than they could get in a savings account. For him, the money borrowed equaled way more than anything he had in his bank account. After successfully completing a rehab, he was able to pay his lenders back and used his profits as part of the downpayment for his next deal. Yet another win-win!
What he learned was that he could spread the capital he was borrowing across multiple properties instead of one at a time. He went from a few flips each year to double-digits per month.
Greer suggests that you start by leveraging a small amount of money and let it snowball as your skills improve.
Stay consistent and take action
How many times have you heard experienced investors say to analyze multiple deals per day? And yet, how many of us follow through with it? Greer says that we’re so focused on instant gratification that it’s easy to forget that “the mundane work you do day in and day out feels boring but pays dividends.”
Looking back on his career, he said, “I can’t tell you how many hours a day I spent messing around with the BiggerPockets [calculators].” It may seem like nothing is changing as you slog through one property at a time. In reality, you’re learning your market inside and out while refining your buy-box. When that one great deal eventually does come along, you’ll be ready for it.
Clearly outline roles before entering partnerships
When you decide to team up with a friend or relative, it can be hard to imagine anything ever going wrong. Hopefully, it doesn’t, but Don’nell reminds us that it could, and as such, you should be prepared.
In his own business, there was some turmoil with a partner. The initial agreement was that the work would be evenly divided based on their skill sets. Reality played out quite differently, and Don’nell ended up doing significantly more than his partner while splitting profits evenly.
They have since parted ways amicably, but Don’nell cautions anyone entering into a partnership to treat it like a marriage. That means properly outlining roles and responsibilities in an operating agreement. It can then serve as a point of reference to guide your business. Starting with an operating agreement as your foundation mitigates the risk of things going sour.
Today Don’nell has a flexible schedule that allows him to pick his kids up from school, work when he wants to, and help others in his spare time. All of this was made possible by applying the lessons he learned. You can do the same!
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Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.