“When you acquire properties little by little over a long period of time, it’s easier to keep organized and keep everything straight in your head.”

-Bill Hamel

Bill Hamel of Hamel Real Estate has been investing since the age of 21. He has accumulated 40 plus buildings and over 240 units over a long period of time in the capital region of New York. He specializes in family properties, the 30 unit style assets managing and house until 2020. They now focus on buying and selling large multifamily properties ranging from 30 to 100 units in the towns of the capital region, and Tampa Bay area Florida.

In this episode, Trevor and Bill discuss:

-How a 21 year old restaurant employee started real estate investing.

-Finding the right market place.

-The difference between investing in Tampa Bay and the Capital Region.

-The process of liquidating properties.

-The strategies in buying properties.

-How to start investing without utilizing all your cash resources

-How to scale up your business quickly.

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Full Transcription Of Today’s Episode

Trevor Oldham  00:44

Hey, everybody, welcome back to the real estate investing exposure podcast and today on the show, we have Bill Hamel, Bill Bill Hamel of Hamel Real Estate has been investing since the age of 21. He has accumulated 40 plus buildings and over 240 units over a long period of time in the capital region of New York. He specializes in family properties, the 30 unit style assets managing and house until 2020. They now focus on buying and selling large multifamily properties ranging from 30 to 100 units in the towns of the capital region, and Tampa Bay area Florida. Bill, super excited to have you on the show today.


Bill Hamel  01:25

Thanks, Trevor. I really appreciate you inviting me. It’s a pleasure.


Trevor Oldham  01:29

And Bill for our audience out there that’s learning about yourself for the first time. I love for you just to go into a little further on your real estate background and what got you started in the space?


Bill Hamel  01:37

Yeah, absolutely. I was 21 years old working in a restaurant and going to SUNY Albany at the time and reflecting on what am I gonna do with my life. I wasn’t a great student, I was given a real estate book by someone that I worked with at the restaurant. And off I went, I was looking for rental property and taking a shot that this would be my new career. So it worked out at 21 years old, we purchased a two family building. And then we just built momentum, and built a pretty large portfolio over a long period of time in the Albany Capital Region of New York area. And 2012-2013, I really started to reflect on how I can get to that ownership, part of my business, not so much the operator of the business. So that had been in the focus for quite some time. And it is difficult for me not to be so involved in my business. So my solution to becoming an owner of my business ultimately was liquidating all of our small properties building up capital utilizing the 1031 exchange to the best of our ability in a very competitive market, and 2020 and 2021. But ultimately, here we are, our focus is scaling and collecting large multifamily real estate, raising money for those big deals. And that’s our space. That’s our lane at this point. And I’m able to simplify my business, become the owner of the business and let others manage our properties.


Trevor Oldham  03:49

I think that’s an excellent overview for our audience. I know Bill prior to us hopping on the call today I mentioned that my fiance’s from the capital region. So I have some familiarity there and I’d love for let’s say for the audience out there that is listening and they do not have that region as well. When you were starting off and building your business in the capital region was the main focus on Albany or did you look at the surrounding towns to sort of build up your portfolio?


Bill Hamel  04:11

Well, I was going to school in Albany. My job was in Albany and my friends were also going to school in Albany and had apartments right in the city. So with Albany being very concentrated with universities, you have SUNY Albany, St. Rose, Albany, med, Albany law, and several community colleges in the area. That is where I was hanging around, and without even knowing that I was going to get into real estate, you know, you start getting a pretty good feel of what student apartments look like in the city of Albany. So it was a natural fit. For me, once I decided to jump in and see what rental properties look like, for me, immediately, I was looking in that student area of Albany where I was hanging out with friends.


Trevor Oldham  05:16

That’s perfect. And for student housing within the investments there, was that your main focus? Or did you buy, let’s say, multifamily and have you know, you know, let’s say a typical renter, someone that’s 3040 years old, renting it, or is it mainly that student housing that you were focused on.


Bill Hamel  05:32

It wasn’t necessarily targeting students at the time I did have students as tenants in the early years, you know, I looked like a student myself. So here we are from 2001, through our early 20s, buying properties in the city of Albany that, um, you know, would rent to students would rent to young professionals. So they were flexible that way, ultimately, over the years, the way I describe our apartments and our target market, it’s, it can be students, it could be young professionals, it could even be a family, the criteria was, as long as you could qualify on our tenant application, then, you know, I’d be happy to have you as a tenant.


Trevor Oldham  06:26

I think that’s an excellent overview for our audience, and then, you know, out of curiosity, or you’re in gusting and Albany, and then when going through your body, you mentioned that you’re also investing down in Tampa Bay, is there a specific reason that you chose that market, and what sort of that experience like compared to investing in the capital region?


Bill Hamel  06:44

Well, that was my whole transition period. So it occurred to me, you know, starting in 2017, you know, continuing to really grow the business being the owner of the business, I also had a serious health issue 2017 2018. So it ended up being a bit of a perfect storm of really reflecting getting a certain perspective on my life, and what I wanted to do going forward. So that did be a large factor, and stepping away from third party management. And also with that said, I always had that dream of, you know, buying that large apartment complex, early in my career, I unfortunately, didn’t think that was possible. For us, it was a limiting belief that holds me back or can hold so many of us back thinking that, you know, certain things are over our head. But once I decided to sell a lot of our smaller properties, and educate myself on scaling, I saw that anything was possible, specifically, you know, having the experience that I do have. So with that whole idea, you know, I also had a desire to expand into another location. And during my sell off of a lot of small properties, I was left with the challenge of identifying properties to purchase in a 1031 exchange, so we couldn’t defer some of that tax liability. So even in the capital region of New York, the market was so competitive, and had so little inventory that it was very challenging to find the next deal. So I’m left in the middle of COVID checking out North Carolina, South Carolina, different areas of Florida for another market where I might be able to identify a purchase to satisfy that 1031 exchange. So, four or five trips through COVID ultimately, probably the sixth or seventh city that I drove into was was Tampa Bay and I fell in love So following up with with that, you check out the demographics of the Tampa area, and it all checks out, um, you know, very desirable plays population growth, job growth, beautiful place to be in, which of course, ends up being very competitive also. But fortunately, we were able to buy a multifamily in the Pinellas County area right outside Tampa Bay and, you know, hopefully that’s just the beginning of a portfolio in that location.


Trevor Oldham  10:00

Dive into liquidating your portfolio and helping this purchase down in Tampa. I can imagine let’s say you had you know, you had a two family here, you had a three family for him, you know, you know, you have this all these units that make up, you know, all these smaller multifamily apartments that make up you know, a big portfolio, what was that process? Like when you’re going through and liquidating those properties to you know, get the cash and go through that 1031? exchange? Did you sell them off at once? Did you sell them off little by little? Do you mind just walking our audience through that experience?


Bill Hamel  10:28

Yeah, I was in chunks. So having accumulated all these properties over a long period of time, 40 buildings, 45 buildings, 240 units seems like, you know, quite a bit. But when you acquire these little by little over a long period of time, it’s easier to keep organized and keep everything straight in your head. You know, it’s not like I bought all these in a two or three year period of time, this was over an extended period of time. So I really knew these properties very, very well. I knew them too well, based on being such a hands-on property manager. So at that point, you know, we’re just going through chunks of properties four or five to start. And once we started getting some traction on those sales, we would overlap and pick the next chunk of properties and other five or six, and then just kept that going. With the market being so competitive, and so hot, it wasn’t very difficult. Basically, we’re listing properties, showing properties, and getting properties under contract for decent prices and have a pretty strong momentum. You know, even through COVID, we had that, you know, two month period of time, like March or April May where the world shut down. So that was a pause. But then at that point, it accelerated and it was even easier to sell our properties, you know, once one to June of 2020 hit.


Trevor Oldham  12:22

For the property that are going down there, you know, you’re selling, you’ve sold off these properties, you had the capital, and you’re going down then and buying that property, and Tampa and for the investment philosophy around that, are you buying, you know, a Class B class C property and trying to do a value add, you know, to help, you know, get additional capital down the road, I’d love for you to talk a little bit about that, and sort of what the strategy was around buying this property down there.


Bill Hamel  12:44

Wow, when you’re, when you sold off a lot of properties, and then you have the clock ticking on a 1031 exchange, I was very flexible on what I was looking to purchase. At that point, I was just looking to park some 1031 money. So I was the guy that was in town that all the other buyers rolled their eyes at and I have as well where, you know, you’re coming in with, you know, 1031 money and you know, you’re you’re able to elbow out a lot of people and take a deal. You know, so um, you know, that’s pretty much what happened on the multifamily that I purchased. Fortunately, you know, I only had to pay the list price. So we were able to, at least not have to pay above less, but the 1031 exchange money certainly helped get that contract done. And otherwise, my career in the capital region of Albany and even you know, what I’m thinking in the Tampa Bay area is I’ve always been, you know, a value add guy, you know, my roots are, you know, buy foreclosure properties, distressed properties at a lesser amount, put some money into them, and you generate instant sweat equity, put it in a portfolio and you know what real estate do its thing.


Trevor Oldham  14:19

And for these properties that you’re buying in, you know, on the earth, you know, buy in New York and then sell and then also the one in Tampa between the two markets. You know, one being in New York, one being Florida. Did you find that they were competitive but one was a little bit hard to invest in? Or did you find that, you know, just as a whole they were both equally as competitive. I know I am in Massachusetts. Right now the market is very, very competitive. So I’m just curious to see if you notice any differences between the two if you thought one is easier if they’re both just you know, hard and competitive, just given the time and a short supply that’s on the market.


Bill Hamel  14:52

That’s pretty much it. I think we’re dealing with that nationwide and any properties outside of Warzones it’s very competitive. So, you know, Tampa has a more compressed cap rate than the capital region. So, you know, I guess you can say in rounded numbers, you know, Tampa has gotten to a point on assets that we’re looking at, you know, 1980s. And newer, you know, good locations, you know, you’re looking at four and a half five caps that properties are moving quickly. And the capital region of New York, you’re looking at five and a half, six caps for that same style asset. So there is a 1% differential on that cap rate. But I’m seeing the same exact activity as far as supply and demand, there’s very little inventory, and there’s a lot of demand. So just like in the Tampa area, in relation to the capital region, not much hits the market, everything ends up being off market deals, because sellers are able to just utilize their real estate contacts with brokers and any other live buyers, you know, let a few people or a group of people know that they’re interested in selling their property. And it’s pretty simple at this point in time to get a group of people walking through and ultimately end up in a highest and best offer situation without having to put it on the market.


Trevor Oldham  16:36

And that definitely, definitely makes a whole lot of sense. And for these properties, let’s say, you know, going back to New York a little bit for these properties that you were buying, were you using your own capital to buy them, you know, let’s say you know, buying a new property once every two years or so, or do what you bring in outside additional capital to help scale it up a little bit quicker


Bill Hamel  16:54

As my career moved on, and this is the way I explain it to a lot of the newer investors that I talk with daily. And it probably is true for a lot of things in life, it’s the hardest getting started, you know, we have the least amount of resources and experience when we’re first starting something. So when I first started, I was able to utilize FHA style residential mortgages, which will allow you to get in very little down. So it doesn’t take much skill, it doesn’t take much creative financing ability at that point, it’s pretty much handed to you on a silver platter. But after you do two of those, you know, those are no longer available to you. So at that point, I get a little bit more educated in the business, you know, you continue to talk to mortgage people, you learn about construction, rehab style products, and different things to be a bit more creative. So you don’t have to utilize all your cash resources. And as you continue building momentum, building a portfolio, you know, it was necessary for me to start getting private lenders, whether it be small amounts of money from co workers, to then graduating and to other properties where now you’re building up trust with bigger players, sellers of properties that that see what we’re doing. And now they’re offering seller financing not necessarily on one particular property, but basically speaking with them to just have a private lender relationship. So those have become hugely valuable to us over the last probably 15 or 20 years where we’ve had up to three or four private lenders that we can just go to at any point in time and say, Hey, we have a good deal. You know, we need this amount of money. And you know, to basically finance a little or no money down deal, you know, they would basically just write the check, and it wouldn’t have to be collateralized. So it was very flexible financing that we were able to make numerous deals that way.


Trevor Oldham  19:31

Yeah, I think that’s an excellent overview for audience, especially those who are out there who may be just starting off and then as you mentioned, you know, once you run out of the capability of using the FHA loan so I think that’s an excellent overview and and then from your standpoint of your investing career. And for our audience out there. Is there any certain property that you manage that was just very difficult? Maybe the times were difficult. Maybe you know, you bought the property and didn’t go as planned? Do you have any stories that you can share with our audience of, you know, maybe a property that didn’t go as well as you Expected?


Bill Hamel  20:01

Well, yeah, that’s how I developed a criteria. You know, in my early years where it’s very, I like to keep things very simple. And I learned on property number one, fortunately it gentrified and it worked out well for us as a buy and hold. But you know, I bought that first property a little bit sooner than I should have, I was very motivated. I was very anxious to buy that first property and get that real estate career going. But what I didn’t do was realize that there’s a real learning curve, you know, figuring out neighborhoods and different styles of assets before you go and buy a property. So I’m buying my first property in a warzone type neighborhood. And I boiled it, I learned the hard way, about a property that was very difficult to manage. So my criteria turned into being location, location, location, as everybody knows, it’s going to be sad about real estate to the end of time, but then also quality of building so you could have a great location. But you could have a poorly built property in a great location that’s going to cause problems, at least maintenance type issues, ongoing work orders, and in difficulty, just keeping the property at the standard that you would normally like. And then that third part of that criteria is the Floor Plan of that building, or the apartments in that building. So all of these things together allow for a great tenant. And once you get a great tenant in your apartments in your buildings, it allows for easier management, because we are running a business here. So we want to run this business as efficiently with as much ease as possible. And that is how I found, you know, to do it in the apartment business.


Trevor Oldham  22:16

Yeah, I think that’s, that’s perfect for the audience out there, you know, going through those sort of three set criteria. But Bill, I want to say I’ve enjoyed this interview today. And I just wanted to ask you a couple of quick questions before we end the show today. And the first question is, do you happen to have a real estate investing or business book that you recommend for the audience to check out?


Bill Hamel  22:37

Yeah, I do. I actually, you know, consider and I feel like I’m starting my second career. So the most recent book that I’ve read, which has become super valuable to me, and I have handed it off to a couple other people, it’s the Joe fairless, the best ever apartment syndication book. So that was very valuable to me, because that is what we’re looking at now getting into large apartment communities and, you know, getting into syndication, so we can knock down a couple of these deals a year. But in my early years, that first book that was given to me, Robert Allen, nothing down for the 90s was very valuable also because it really gave you the fundamentals of buying property with little or no money down which was very, very necessary when you don’t have any money.


Trevor Oldham  23:35

It has a couple excellent recommendations. And Bill’s last question of the day is working with the audience to find you.


Bill Hamel  23:43

You can find me by email it’s bill@hamelrealestate.com. You can also find me on LinkedIn at Bill Hamel. We also have a Hamel real estate LinkedIn page, same thing they’ll handle on Facebook Hamel real estate on Facebook and Hamel real estate on Instagram but feel free to text or call me 518-857-9251. I would love to talk about real estate with anybody. It’s what I love to do.


Trevor Oldham  24:21

Awesome. I’ll make sure to include that in the show notes and Bill. Thanks for coming onto the show today.