“Failure is your friend. It’s not to be feared, you have to embrace it.”

-Billy Alvaro

Billy Alvaro is the President of Max Returns Real estate investments, Coach at Flip Masters, Principle of Easy Sell Property Solution, Your New York All-Cash House Buyer and Host of “Real Estate Investing Radio” on 103.9 FM and syndicated on Buzz-sprout podcasts. He started and built multiple real – estate related organizations with a combined $1.3 BILLION dollars worth of volume on an annualized basis and has been involved with over 11,700 real estate transactions.

In this episode, Trevor and Billy discuss:

  • Learn how Billy started his real estate journey at a very young age.
  • Know how Billy achieved the $1.3 BILLION dollars and 11,700 real estate transactions.
  • Learn the difference between smart investing and gambling, identify which are you currently doing.
  • Learn tips and advice to become a successful real estate investor.
  • Learn the strategies of building a team that will surely give you comfort and time freedom.

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Full Transcription Of Today’s Episode

Trevor Oldham  00:46

Hey, everybody, welcome back to the real estate investing exposure podcast. I’m super excited for today’s guest, Billy Alvaro. He is the host of the unstoppable real estate investing wealth podcast and has started and built multiple real estate related organizations with a combined $1.3 billion worth of volume on an annualized basis and has been involved with over 11,700 real estate transactions. Billy, super excited to have you on the show today.


Billy Alvaro  01:16

Thanks for having me, buddy. Good to see you. I’m a little bit of a wreck today just got done working out. My workout gear.


Trevor Oldham  01:23

No worries. I’m excited. excited to have you on the show today. And you know, what, I’ve heard numbers that pop out to me when I was reading your bio was one, you know, the billion-dollar that’s obviously that’s quite a bit. And then also the 11,700 real estate transactions as that is also quite a bit of real estate transactions. But if you could go back and think about earlier in your career, what decided what, like, why did you decide to get into real estate investing and had to really go from thinking about getting into real estate and then now you’re all the way up to those 1000s of transactions? I know that there’s a lot of steps along the way. But I’d love for you just to go back to the beginning and really talk about why did you decide to go into real estate?


Billy Alvaro  02:03

Yeah, it’s a good question. Just to put those stats into context. That business that he was speaking about was my mortgage company. The mortgage bank was doing over a billion dollars a year and the mortgage company was doing over 11,000 transactions a year. So real estate related, but I wasn’t buying the real estate, I was actually lending the money to people to buy the real estate or to refinance. So I just want to put that in context and make sure we’re, we’re saying the right thing. But regarding real estate, as I got involved with this business, when I was a kid I used to watch TV, infomercials, and it was a guy named Dave del Dotto. I don’t know if you’re way too young to remember him older guy, dark black mustache. And he I would watch his show like it was his infomercial like it was a real show. And he would talk about how he would from Hawaii, how he would buy properties, no money down. And at the closing, get a check like six or eight or $12,000. And I was just intrigued. Like, how, what’s the secret that this guy knows that I need to know. And I was watching him. And it’s I don’t know if I’m gonna be exactly it’s maybe 1314 years old. I mean, it was young. And I remember telling my mother, I want to see this guy, and she thought it was a scam. So of course, I’m 1314 years old, she’s not gonna want to take me it was a couple of $100 to go see this guy speak. Fast forward, I’ve always had this drive to want to do this. And I ended up buying my first house graduate high school at 19 years old, small house, mom and dad gave me a few $1,000 as an investment to buy this property. And then from there, I went to Florida, what a two-family and I just realized that, in order for me to become wealthy, I’m not a scholastic guy. So I have to do something with business and take that money for business and invest in real estate. It wasn’t until I got involved with the mortgage business that I really started understanding how finance works, and how I could start doing these creative deals. And at that time that I said, You know what, I just started putting a lot of money to hire in real estate rentals before Airbnb became a big thing. We had a lot of these share houses out in the Hamptons and in Fire Island. And it just one thing led to another thing, and it just took off. You know, I just was in the right place at the right time. And more importantly, I took action on the stuff that I believe I wanted to do. And I didn’t allow my inability with school or my inability of knowing what I needed to do. I just said I want to do it. And I just figured out the how as I started going alone.


Trevor Oldham  04:29

And as being a real estate investor, and I know you mentioned you got started, you know, you got the loan from your parents. And then you know, you bought a two-family down in Florida. What is sort of your investment strategy look like at the moment? Are you still buying you know, let’s say properties to single-family rentals? Are you looking into multifamily commercial properties? Do you mind to shine, you know some of the insights into your portfolio and what that looks like for our audience?


Billy Alvaro  04:50

Yeah, so we have multiple, multiple different revenue streams that we have inside our business. So we have one platform that is solely transactional. So that’s the wholesale business We just get them in a contract and flip them over. Then we have, from the wholesale, we have our own renovation company construction company where we buy them and renovate them, but still transactional because we flip them over and sell them. So transactional business in this real estate game, it’s investing but it’s really not investing because you’re in, you’re out, you’re making large terms of money on the rehabs, hopefully, if you’re doing it right, for you making a small chunk of money on the wholesale, so I look at that part of the business as the money that keeps the lights going to reinvest back into my marketing, to reinvest back into get more deals to eventually then parse out some of those fixes and flips or wholesale keep them as a rental property. So we have a rental portfolio of about a little over 50 units we have, I have investments in mixed-use properties, I have investments in drug rehab facilities, I have investments in old age homes, I have investments in a small strip surplus. So there are multiple things at once I’m making the cash, I’m putting it to use, we have, you know, a 50 unit development that we’re building out. So I think once depending on where you’re at, in the real estate investment game, for me, it worked for me, uh, you have to have a combination of cash now, and wealth later. And there’s a lot of gurus who teach, you know, only invest for the future. It’s great, but what are you going to do for the next 20 years, as you’re trying to build your portfolio, you have to have cash flow coming in now that you can live on, and it might not be derived from your rentals. But if you’re wholesaling, or if you’re renovating those chunks of cash, you can live comfortably, but you have to be smart, and I wasn’t as smart when I lost my mortgage company that we were speaking about. I was flat broke. And instead of me getting into this business, full-time real estate investing and taking a portion every single F for like, let’s say three deals and investing into a buy and hold the first five years I did this business. I didn’t buy and hold anything. I was solely flipping to get cash because Trevor, I mean, you know, I was close to $14 million in debt. You and I spoke about this, I think on the podcast when I was on with you. It was just it, you have to have a combination, bottom line of cash now, cash tomorrow, and cash for wealth for the future. And you do that by wholesaling by renovating and by building a rental portfolio.


Trevor Oldham  07:23

And out of curiosity, when you became when you’re going into real estate dude, have you been investing in real estate prior to 2007? Or did you hop into it after 2007?


Billy Alvaro  07:33

So when I was I’m 51. Now I bought my first house and I was 19. So you’re talking 31 years ago, 32 years ago. Wow. But I never did it, Trevor, as a business, I would I didn’t understand I didn’t have the knowledge to the know-how of real estate the way I have it today. So back then when I was buying, I didn’t know how to analyze, I didn’t know how to do construction costs, I didn’t know how to buy the right way. So I just saw a piece of property, I saw that if I put a little money in, I can get a small cash flow of two to $300 a month. So I bought it. And then I did the same thing in Florida with the two families who lived there for free. And then I bought another one. So prior to 2000. I got into this full-time 2009. After I lost my mortgage bank, I lost my mortgage by the end of those six. So for three years, I had no money coming in from 1989 until about 2006 when I lost the business. I was buying real estate, I was buying a lot of it. But the difference was, I wasn’t buying it professionally. I really even though I own the mortgage bank, I really didn’t understand how to analyze these properties the right way, there were still a lot of unknowns. And to be honest with you, the market was so good Back then, I got lucky with a lot of the deals in the beginning because the market was on a trajectory like this. So you don’t have to be a rocket science rocket scientist if the markets accelerating at the rate as it is today, where if you buy a piece of property and six months later, it’s worth $40,000 more. That’s not Smart Investing. That’s gambling. You know, like, I didn’t realize back then that I was just I thought I was an investor. But it really wasn’t I was lucky with the market when the market crashed in a wave. And I was flat broke. I looked at the market and I said okay, what’s the opportunity on July 4 2009 is when I basically came out of my, my own skin. And I’m like I can’t, I can’t feel sorry for myself anymore. Go through all this bullshit, I got to get myself back to where I was at one time. My ex-wife got it into my head that does the real estate, you’ve always wanted to do it full time. And I looked at the market and I said the market conditions at that time in Oh 809 it was decimated. Like there were tons of foreclosures on the market. Everybody was losing their property and all the guys that were in the business, the real estate investing business. They were running the other way they were going into foreclosure because their tenants weren’t able to pay that. So it was a complete cluster. The fuck it was a mess. I looked at it. And I said, Where’s the opportunity? So there’s always a silver lining in every cloud, what’s the opportunity that we can get into right now to start serving the people and at the same time get paid? And the answer was obvious. It was Oreos, the real estate owns, which is foreclosures and short sales. So, in 2009, I went in completely focused laser-focused on understanding the nuances in New York State, the foreclosure laws, the short sale process, and I owned a bank and the title company. So I had a little bit of an edge because I really had this education from years of being in the business that really helped propel me to the next level with this real estate side. Once I learned how the mechanics worked, and I understood how to break through all the red tape, I was off to the races running, I had no money, no credit, no job. So you can’t let that hold you back. If somebody’s listening, and they’re young or old, and they’re bankrupt, or they’re just starting out and have no money, don’t allow that circumstance to hold you back from getting to where you want to go. You just need to be resourceful. And figure out what can I do? Who can I do it with if I want to get into this business? And I said, Alright, no money, no job, no income, I had the first find, somebody, with money, I found them. He invested in me to invest into the deals I mastered on how to find properties, how to fix properties, and how to flip properties. And I was off to the races running.


Trevor Oldham  11:28

Out of curiosity, when you mention these properties, let’s say you know, back in 2009, and you mentioned New York we interesting is you know, obviously New York is quite a big city that I’m I’m familiar with it for my fiance. I’m living there, were you investing in the city? Were you also you know, going back to Florida, where I guess we’re the properties where you first started off. Yeah, Bill, you know, rebuilding the investing side of the business.


Billy Alvaro  11:51

Literally right around where I was, I started right from my house and I went out 15-mile radius, Suffolk counties where I lived at the time and Long Island. And I said this is where I’m going to do it because the foreclosures were through the roof. And I saw that real estate agents, other investors, they were running away from all the shorts out, they didn’t know how to do. And I just made it my business to learn to Listen, is they call it a secret because people don’t really know about it. It’s not a secret once you know, but there were secrets on how to get these deals done, how to negotiate with the banks, how to put the paperwork together, that regular guys that know now everybody knows it’s no longer a secret. People know how to do short sales been around for years, back then I was on the cost like I was, I was in there making it happen to figure it out, as I was doing it, and I just took off for me. But the key thing is, you know, you have to have the balls the new way, you can’t be afraid. Because you know, I say this, in every podcast I’m on, things are gonna go sideways, forever, things are gonna get fucked up, mistakes are gonna happen, the balls gonna drop in issues gonna pop up, you have to have the mental fiber, and the emotional fiber to actually break through that, and realize it’s not the end of the world, you got to put your big you pull your big boy britches up, like pull him back up and get back to work and figure shit out a lot of guys, they get into this business, they get hit once they get knocked down, and they’re like, Oh, my God, I just lost $10,000 in that deal. And they’re like shaking their heads. You can’t you got to just figure out what you did wrong, and then make it better for the next time. That’s really one of the secrets that people don’t realize that success. Its failure is your friend. It’s not to be feared, you have to embrace it.


Trevor Oldham  13:34

Now hopping back into the real estate business and someone you know, that’s thinking about getting started. And they’re worried about, you know, overcoming a challenge, let’s say they, they rent out, or they buy to family, and they get it and yeah, something needs to be something expensive needs to be replaced. Maybe it needs new septic maybe, you know, there’s an oil leak in the basin, you know, there’s something that’s terrible, you know, as your experience as an investor, what’s probably one of the harder challenges that you had to come over when you’ve gone out there and purchased the properties just so our audience can hear from yourself, how you, you know, overcame this challenge and, and the setback when you were, you know, purchasing whatever the property was.


Billy Alvaro  14:09

So I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you this, one of the mistakes I made when I was first getting into this business is I didn’t invest enough time in my due diligence. So real estate is all about discovery. First, you have to get the deal. And then you have to discover any underlying issues. And you do that simply by getting a due diligence period, whether it’s a week or two weeks or three weeks, and then go in and get your reports to hire the experts, it’s going to take you a little bit of money, you’re going to have to spend a little bit of money as you know, you’re going to have to if there’s a very oil tank get tested. You don’t want to buy a house here in New Jersey. If you buy a house with a buried oil tank, and there’s a little bit of oil, it can cost you 20 that leaked out it could cost you 1820 $25,000 to fix that. Because it’s like a huge thing here. So the key thing is When you’re buying real estate, if you’re going to buy it to hold it, as a long term buy and hold investor or you’re going to buy it, renovate it and fix it, this applies if what I’m saying right now does not apply. If you’re going to the wholesale property, it’s a completely different animal. wholesale is just about getting the seller to agree to a number and then you’re going to go and market that contract to another buyer who’s going to take all the risks, that buyer is going to do all the due diligence, right now the question I heard you ask is, as an investor who’s going to buy and hold or buy, fix and flip, the key thing you want to do is due diligence. Find out, get an engineer, get a home inspector, if you have like in New Jersey, radon is a big thing. Buried oil tanks are a big thing, septic, septic systems are a big thing. And those are all big-ticket items. So if you’re going to invest, spend a couple of $100 upfront, get that stuff checked out. And if it’s an issue, then you can utilize that with the seller or with the agent, depending on where you’re getting the deal. You can leverage that as a negotiation tool to get the price lowered. So you could then have the money to fix those things. Yeah, yeah. Now on the flip side to that, Trevor, if you’re, if you bought the house, all the inspections past, and it’s three years in, and she hits the fan, and something happens, I always tell me the people that I’m working with, look, when you’re doing these properties, take 10 or 15% off the top of your rent every single month, and put into a side account. So when shit does go sideways, you don’t have to reach into your pocket, you have money in a separate account that’s ready, it’s there for a rainy day if the roof goes, if the septic system goes, if your boiler goes, you’ll have 1500 2000 3000. So it’s not really gonna hurt your pocket that much.


Trevor Oldham  16:43

I think that’s, that’s excellent guys, especially on the due diligence, I think, you know, the way that the market is now, I mean, I’ve been looking to purchase my first two, three or four-family and a lot of the times, you know, getting a bid on offers, just simply because people are waiving they’re waiving the due diligence, that’s, that’s crazy, to me, no of them investing, you know, 10 20,000 in a property. And, you know, there could be a 10 20,000 no problem, just as I buy it. So it’s definitely a crazy market, I can definitely see why, you know, having the due diligence the period just makes sense. I feel like it’s sort of just stupid, not having, you know, because you find things that, you know, were preventable. And I know, I just feel like people are buying properties that aren’t that, that just not worth the value, at least. And that’s what I’m saying, Come on, I’m trying to go out there and sign into my real estate investing career.


Billy Alvaro  17:28

These speculating people who speculate right now, and they’re doing now what they did back in 2005, six and seven, they’re not caring about the asset, they’re just wanting to get the property, they’re overbidding. And they’re buying from emotion, not from common sense. And when you start buying from emotion, you want when you’re selling a property, you want your buyers to buy from emotion when you’re buying a property, you want to buy from the mind you want to buy from numbers and cents. And if the numbers work, and the deal makes sense, you execute the contract. If it doesn’t, you don’t do the deal.


Trevor Oldham  17:59

Yeah, that’s perfect. That’s perfect advice. Now, I want to hop over back into how you’ve been able to build your business, I believe that at one point we were, we were supposed to talk a couple of months back, I believe that you were going away to, I think it was Puerto Rico for a month, and you’re still able to run your business from this or love to just go into how you know, you’ve obviously in a lot of different areas in real estate, but how have you been able to build a team and how you’ve been able to grow a business for you know, maybe not remotely, but at least, you know, having the team in place that can take care of any issues that arise.


Billy Alvaro  18:28

So first of all, building teams is what I’ve been doing for the last 20 years, my mortgage bank, we had 950 employees working at that company, we have 42 different offices. So understanding that when it comes to business, you can have the best processes, you can have the best systems and a lot of people, a lot of books always talk about, you have to have a system, a system, a system, and a process. And I believe in that wholeheartedly. You need to have good systems and good processes. But if you don’t have the right people in the right seats to manage and work those systems and processes, you’re dead in the water, every business with the exclusion of some very few ones where they’re all 100% online, their business their people-oriented, you have to have the right people process along with the right systems process and the right process. So for us, now with this business different from when I had the mortgage bank, I’m 100% virtual. When COVID hit, we had two offices. We went virtual from March until June 30. We didn’t skip a beat. I surveyed all my employees and every single one of them was more productive, happier working from home. They had a work-life balance because they can like Justin, my manager, he was able to see his wife and his kids in the morning. He could work then he could take over an hour or two and go and take his kids to doctor’s appointments and then come back to the office and then his wife goes to bed. He’s working a little bit so he’s working and a lot of the guys and girls in the office are working more hours, but they don’t feel it because they have that work-life experience and work-life balance. The other thing with going virtual is, you get the right people in place. Now you have to have the right systems to manage this thing. I went to Puerto Rico for a month. And I didn’t skip a beat. I didn’t the business didn’t miss anything. We had a great month, I was working from Puerto Rico, just as I work from New Jersey, but I have the right technology in place, I have the right reporting systems in place, I have the right KPI, dashboards, key performance indicator dashboards in place. And all it really is is looking at exceptions, there are certain things I look at. And if there’s an exception, if it’s let’s just say yellow, or red, those are the things I have to look at. I don’t have to look at 200 different items, just what’s the 10 that needs my attention. And then I work on those 10 with the team, I give them the marching orders and they handle it. I don’t have to do day to day in business with the company. I’m right now building new jersey. So I’m like I am in the day-to-day in New Jersey because I’m here with my girl. I’m building it. But New York, it’s built, it’s running. It’s optimized, and it’s we’re crushing it there.


Trevor Oldham  21:11

That’s perfect. That’s excellent advice. Billy, I want to be respectful of your time today. And I said a few difficult questions to ask you before we end the show today. And one of those questions is, do you happen to have a favorite real estate or business book that you recommend for our audience to read?


Billy Alvaro  21:26

So what the best real estate or business book? So on the real estate side? Well, this is the old-time favorite that everybody gets into is Rich Dad, Poor Dad, right? I mean, that’s the one book that if you speak to entrepreneurs or people who’ve invested in real estate, that’s the one that seems to kick them off into their career of understanding cash flow and understanding how the wealthy get wealthier. And that’s real estate investing. The one book that really set me straight when I was a kid, I got it from my uncle. It’s as a man thinketh from James Allen. And that book is not business, it really minds. And if you start really understanding how this affects your everyday life, how you think, really comes out and how you act, and what you’re going to receive. And I’m not talking law of attraction, hokey, pokey shit, talking about real stuff. I mean, the mind is such a powerful thing. And you could convince yourself, you’re sick, and you’re going to get sick and you’ll feel sick, you’ll look sick, the mind is powerful when you get that. And if you get that you can go down a negative path, or you can go down a positive path. And so as a man thinks of James Allen’s skinny, little, tiny little book, you could probably read it literally in two hours. But what he speaks about in there with the mind and how you talk to yourself, and how you can plant certain seeds, life-changing.


Trevor Oldham  22:47

That’s an excellent, excellent recommendation. And Billy, the last question I have for you today is where can our audience find you?


Billy Alvaro  22:54

Yeah, you can go online, any of the social media sites, I’m unstoppable ba you can go to my website, Billy Elvira, calm, you can either partner with me learn with me or invest with me. You have money to invest. I’m here to help you. I’m here to put that money to work. You want to partner have deals anywhere in the United States call me hit me fill me out there. And then I put it together because my podcast is unstoppable. Rei? Well, if you can find me on all the channels, Spotify, all the other ones? Well, one of the things I did Trevor is I had so many people over the years calling me and asking me, you know, what are you using for lead generation? What postcards are you using? What list source are you using? What’s that vacant house thing you talked about where you can take a picture and it automatically sends out marketing gives the people’s names. So if you go to Billy’s secrets, calm bi l y s secrets, calm. I list every single thing, most tools that we use in our business. And then when I interview my guests, I just put anything they talk about, that’s a tool. I list right on there. So wealth of information, all free shit to go away instead of going to Google and trying to figure it out. It’s all right there for you. And I just hope it helps your audience Hope it helps you listeners and helps you.


Trevor Oldham  24:04

Thank you. That’s That’s awesome. I’ll make sure to include it in the show notes of today’s episode. And Billy, I just want to say thank you for your time today.


Billy Alvaro  24:10

Absolutely, brother. Good to have you. Thanks, man.