Apr 12, 2022
Is it possible to invest in real estate even if you’re just in your 20s?
Donis Brothers, Jeffrey, Kenneth, and Kerwin dropped out of college to start their real estate journey. They’re still in their early 20s, but they’ve already taken down three assets as of this moment. Why they took risks at such a young age and did not follow the safe, traditional path is an important conversation that we have in today’s episode.
They will also reveal some of their secrets in building their real estate network, a few mindset shifts to overcome self-doubt, and ultimately, growing a company that gives them sustainable wealth and a legacy for their family.
[00:01 - 02:17] Opening Segment
[02:18 - 09:59] Investing in Real Estate in Your 20s
[10:00 - 17:19] Educating Yourself About Real Estate
[17:20 - 18:02] Closing Segment
“Networking. That's how we were able to get into our first three deals, we got a really good team, and we leverage other people's experiences.” - Jeffrey Donis
“We tend to make decisions based off where what would get us further or closer to our goals.” - Kenneth Donis
“We're still big believers in education. We're just learning in other like non-traditional settings like conferences, podcasts, [and] books.” - Kerwin Donis
Email the Donis Brothers at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out Donis Investment Group to create a long-lasting generational wealth and build a legacy for your family!
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Want to read the full show notes of the episode? Check it out below:
Kenneth Donis 00:00
We tend to make decisions based off where what would get us further or closer to our goals, the money. I mean, it's like we have this like one business account for the three of us. And we don't necessarily, we take trips and we travel and we have great times. But typically those are business expenses. And so we have one bank account, and we share all that we don't really try to pay ourselves just because we're trying to dump everything back into education, meeting new people, and of course Education.
Welcome to the How to Scale Commercial Real Estate Show. Whether you are an active or passive investor, we will teach you how to scale your real estate investing business into something big.
Sam Wilson 00:39
Jeffrey, Kenneth, and Kerwin Donis are three entrepreneurial brothers who started their REI, investing careers looking to retire their mothers and themselves. Gentlemen welcome to the show.
Jeffrey Donis 00:50
Hey, thanks for having us
Sam Wilson 00:53
Pleasure’s mine. You know, I don't think we ever had three guests on the same time, let alone three brothers, who all look almost exactly alike. So this is going to be kind of hard as I try to address each of you. But you know, there's three questions I asked every guest who come on the show, and maybe one of you can just take this. Where did you guys start? Where are you now? And how did you get there? The caveat is it needs to be in 90 seconds or less.
Kerwin Donis 01:13
Okay, cool. I'll take that one. So we started wearing Durham, North Carolina. We started in wholesaling real estate and single family after reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad and being exposed to the power of wholesaling and real estate. And then we decided to move up into the multifamily space once we decided that we wanted to hold real estate long term. And we got with a mastermind group and have been able to be a part of three apartment syndication deals, and we're hoping to do more this year.
Sam Wilson 01:36
That is fantastic. So tell me this. Are you guys actively taking down deals on your own right now? Or are you guys co-sponsoring or what's your model right now?
Jeffrey Donis 01:44
Yeah, we're co-sponsoring.
Sam Wilson 01:45
Okay, cool. And you guys have taken down three assets up to this point. Tell me what has been one of the things that you have found to be a key to your success? Like, what do you guys do? You have done really well?
Jeffrey Donis 01:57
Networking. That's how we were able to get into our first three deals, we got a really good team, and we leverage other people's, right, and their experiences. So that's what we've done really well.
Kenneth Donis 02:05
Yeah, just going out meeting people that have been doing it for a long time learning through them, and just getting advice and just taking it with us along our journey.
Kerwin Donis 02:12
Yeah, a lot of the money we've made in our business, we've just invested back into meeting people going to events and things like that education.
Sam Wilson 02:18
Yeah, right. That's tremendous. And just I mean, for our listeners who may not know you, I mean, you guys are there's two of you that are twins that are what, 20 years old. That's right. Right. And then which of you and forgive me again? You're the oldest? I'm the older one. Okay. And Kenneth, 23? You're 23? Right? This is pretty amazing. For three guys that are 20 and 23, you know, to have made this amount of progress. What's been one thing you know, outside of networking? I mean, I'm sure you guys are raising capital, you guys are talking to investors? How have you overcome that challenge? At least initially, you know, when people say, Well, hey, you don't have a track record? Or you did single family? How are you going to take down multifamily? What have you told people?
Jeffrey Donis 02:58
Yeah, and like I said, it really came down to us joining the right mastermind groups, networking with the right people, because we leverage the experience, our mentors been in it for in the game for over 20 years. So that's kind of, you know, when we talk to our investors, they understand that we're young, but my team isn't, you know, so the team has been doing it for longer than we have. And another thing we've done really well is your social media content. We have a podcast ourselves. So I, just being really consistent, we position ourselves as a thought leader in the space, just based on the content we're putting out. So that's something we've been really good with.
Sam Wilson 03:28
Man, that's absolutely awesome. I'm telling you, something else you want to add to that?
Kenneth Donis 03:31
I was just gonna say, typically, for these deals, you know, they're larger assets. So you know, to get approved for a loan, you know, you have to actually have the net worth. And so that's kind of how we're positioning it. You know, we're not the ones, of course, signing on these loans, but these loans are getting done with our partners. And so we have people that have been more experienced, they wouldn't be willing to sign on, you know, 10, 20 or plus million dollars worth in loans didn't believe in the deals. So we're pretty much leveraging them as well, as you know, we're also speaking from a place of education. So we try to educate ourselves, just know, kind of what, you know, underwriting kind of what we're talking about when we talk to our investors.
Sam Wilson 04:10
What would you guys say to people who maybe were in your shoes, but maybe not as far as you are? You know, because there's a lot of self-doubts, there's probably a lot of those, hey, you know, we're too young, or we're, I mean, everybody finds excuses. I don't care how old you are, yeah, I'm twice your guys' age. And I can find excuses as to why I couldn't be capable of something. What have you guys done to shift your mindset to say, hey, you know what, I can do this?
Jeffrey Donis 04:35
Yeah, I would say hands down, hanging out with people that are doing it. You're like, I'll be in a room with people that are obviously a lot older than me a lot more experienced than me. And they're doing things that I wanted to do at one point. And they're just by having conversations with these people. And it doesn't have to be about real estate. You kind of just learned about the person. We're starting to realize that these are humans and they obviously are not perfect and they're all killing it in this one area. Right? And if they can do it, then they kind of just like that thing in my head. I can do it too. Why not? That's kind of my personal opinion.
Kerwin Donis 05:01
We’re big believers in the saying, fear’s a lack of knowledge. And by talking to people or actually doing that thing, before we even met an apartment syndicator is felt like something that was miles and miles away. But once we start meeting these people, they're like the real people, it really demystifies it, it makes it more of a tangible goal we can actually accomplish.
Sam Wilson 05:18
Right, Yeah, I love that word demystifies it because that's exactly right. There's no secrets in this business. There's enough podcasts on how to buy a multifamily asset that there are absolutely no secrets in this business. Talk to me a little bit about your guys's initial why and know that was part of your bio there at the beginning, which said, hey, I want to retire your mother. But what did that mean? Tell us that story?
Kerwin Donis 05:39
Yeah. So my mom came from what the, mother when she was 18. And she's a single mom, we grew up low income. He's cleaned houses ever since she got to America. And so she works really hard. And our goal is to retire her as soon as possible, kind of like our way of giving back to her. And it really motivates us. You know, it's kind of like us taking the torch for her turn. Yeah.
Sam Wilson 05:56
Okay. I bet that's absolutely fantastic. When are you guys going to be the lead sponsor on a deal? I know that's in your playbook. And you probably already tried to pencil out when that will occur. When is that?
Jeffrey Donis 06:06
Yeah, honestly, it's something that for now, we're okay with being co-sponsors on a lot of the deals just because of something that we think it'll help the deal and the business plan be executed a lot more effectively. But in the future, I mean, obviously, one day, we want to be doing our own deals, right, take your home more of the pie. But for now, I don't think we've actually set a goal in regards to when we want to do our own deal. And we're actually pretty happy with the way things are going. So we really liked the partners that were, yeah, I'm a team with and you want to keep doing deals with them for the time being.
Sam Wilson 06:32
Are you continually raising with the same set of partners? Now we are. Okay. Awesome. And then I'm assuming because you know, one of the things that you run into in this business is that deal flow is, you know, paramount, especially when you're raising capital. So you've aligned yourself with a partner that has consistent deal flow.
Jeffrey Donis 06:50
Yes, honestly, it was really the word timing, partner that we're thinking about. He was a lot more experienced than we were. But he was definitely newer than a lot of the other people in the space. And he just kind of took over one market. And now the brokers love him deal flow really isn't an issue for him at the moment.
Kenneth Donis 07:05
Yeah. And so we're seeing deals, we're raising capital on them.
Sam Wilson 07:08
And yeah, have there been any deals that have been presented to you guys that you said, Hey, I'm not in? And if so, why?
Kenneth Donis 07:14
Yeah, I mean, there's always deals that are brought to us. And you know, we're really big on markets. You know, we like to see markets that are growing markets that have larger population, markets that have job growth, we're taking money from our investors, and we want to make sure that it's the best location possible because we tried not to ever compromise location. So I would say we've walked away from a few deals just because of the location, not necessarily because of the asset itself.
Jeffrey Donis 07:41
But also the returns and typically the team, that the first thing I look at is who's on the team who's gonna be doing it? Do I know anyone there? It's not like, we're out here looking for more partners at the moment, we just really have like a good thing set up. So it's gonna have to be something really enticing for us to go and do something different
Kerwin Donis 07:54
And we're always networking too. So there's always an opportunity for us to meet new partners for sure. And have to find them organically that way.
Sam Wilson 08:01
Right. Yeah, that's certainly intriguing. You guys have siloed or stayed, you know, solely within multifamily? Is that right?
Kerwin Donis 08:06
Yes. Since we transition from single-family.
Sam Wilson 08:09
Right, was that a tough transition for you? Because, you know, rewinding the tape for me, you know, go back six, seven years wholesaling. I mean, you can make a fair amount of money very fast. Yeah, you know, wholesaling property. And so when you get your syndication business, when you're launching into multifamily, it can be a slow start, if you will. Maybe, especially as a co-sponsor aren't going to be as big as maybe, Hey, man, I can go out and hustle two or three single family wholesale deals and probably make as much money if not more, how have you guys decided to stay the course on multifamily and keep going larger?
Kerwin Donis 08:42
Yeah, so we initially like I said earlier, we transitioned into the multifamily space because it aligned more with our long term goals of generating passive income. And that's really the way we wanted to retire our mom with passive income, because that would be something that's sustainable. And so we just really decided that apartments were was ideal. I mean, it was really just us, like, putting our heads together. We just kept hearing go bigger, faster. And obviously we got into wholesaling didn't not thinking that we we'd never done it before, right? So we were like, Why can't we just apply the same mindset multifamily man, we took the leap of faith, we turn off all the marketing machines that we had going from wholesaling. And we had acquired some rentals through creative financing. So we kind of skipped over that part. But that was also helping us, you know, fuel the business and all that there's still cash flowing, and we were into them for little to no money down. So when it came to the multifamily we were just all in, we started educating ourselves networking, buying courses, and eventually joining a mastermind group eventually took us about seven months to get into our first deal, but it took us about six months to get our first wholesale deal. So it was a hard transition, honestly, from having constant wholesale fees coming into, you know, not having any acquisition fees or anything like that. So that was definitely a adjustment. For all the terminology. It's night and day. Like I say, the people that you're speaking with, typically in single family are very different. And when it comes to the commercial space, they're a lot more sophisticated. Right? So we had a lot of educating to do but definitely took it seriously and that's how we been able to get to this point?
Sam Wilson 10:00
How do you guys split up responsibility? Because when you are out there you say, All right, so we're no longer wholesaling. You know, now we're investing in courses. Now we're joining a mastermind, and that's all an outflow of capital. How do you guys split up the expenses between the three of you? And then how do you guys make decisions, not only as a group, but also as three brothers? I've worked with my own brothers before. And I can tell you sometimes isn't all roses?
Kenneth Donis 10:24
Yeah, I think we tend to make decisions based off where what would get us further or closer to our goals, the money. I mean, it's like, we have this like one business account for the three of us. And we don't necessarily, we take trips, and we travel, and we have great times. But typically, those are business expenses. And so we have one bank account, and we share all of that we don't really try to pay ourselves just because we're trying to dump everything back into education, meeting new people, and of course, education.
Kerwin Donis 10:54
Yeah, the conferences and things like that. We haven't really paid ourselves yet. But that's because we're big believers in investing and things like relationships. And yeah, and honestly, when you go to the events, like that's something that we enjoy doing. So trauma, that's not like a bad thing, either, you know?
Sam Wilson 11:08
Yeah, no, certainly not. If you haven't paid yourselves yet. How are you funding your day-to-day existence?
Kerwin Donis 11:12
We're still living with our mom. So you know, we're really hoping to retire her as soon as possible. Yeah.
Sam Wilson 11:16
That's a great way certainly to cut a lot of expenses.
Kerwin Donis 11:19
We are big believers in living frugally, and living below your means, especially in your 20s because we believe that the money that we're saving now we'll be able to invest in other things that, well, our future selves will thank us for.
Sam Wilson 11:31
100% Tell me about working a W2 job. I mean, most people are taught, go to school, graduate, get a job, things like that. And you guys just skip that step.
Kenneth Donis 11:39
We did. So we were actually in college when we found wholesaling. And then after our first check, we honestly just decided to drop out. And so we just chose real estate as our avenue to get to where we want to go. And although we didn't necessarily know what the future was going to look like, it was enough proof for us that we could do it this way.
Jeffrey Donis 11:59
And we're all got our respective schools. He's a different agent. So yeah, I like I was a freshman as a freshman. It was really just, I love the idea of being an entrepreneur. And that was reading all these books. And I just kept hearing like, I was in school, and I was enjoying it. And I was getting good grades. But for me, it just I was more excited to take the risk of actually leaving and then pursuing my business full time. And I found that I was reading the books that I wanted to read versus books that I felt like I had to read in school. That's just my personal opinion. I know it's good for a lot of people. Now we obviously need people to go and get certain specializations. But for me, it just wasn't the right choice. And that's kind of why we all ended up leaving.
Sam Wilson 12:33
Who was it? Which of you three found real estate first?
Kenneth Donis 12:37
I was sitting on my bed one day and was watching Breakfast Club and a guy came on and started speaking about wholesaling, and just really caught my attention at the time I was studying to become a physician assistant. So I always had like big dreams as far as like, trying to pursue a career in which I could, you know, be very successful. But I think I was thinking a little too small. In that case, it kind of opened my eyes as to what is actually possible, yeah.
Sam Wilson 12:59
Absolutely. And so you come back to your brothers, you're like, “Hey, guys, look, you know lightbulb moment. We're all gonna make a bunch of money in real estate.” I mean, it was yeah, that quick and easy. And you Jeffrey and Kerwin, you're both are just like Sure I'll jump in. Why not? I mean, was it that conversation?
Kerwin Donis 13:16
Yeah, we were in our first semesters of college at the time. And we were very hesitant. We were telling Kenneth, we were going to postpone starting the business until that summer, once we had more time. And in between the first semester and the second semester of our freshman year, we went to Guatemala for the first time. We met our family there for the first time. And it was beautiful country, we had a lot of fun getting to know our family. But the reality of it was that they lived in very impoverished conditions. And although they're very humble and happy with what they have, was like a really shocking moment for us. And we realized how lucky we are to be born here. We have citizenship in this country. And so we just decided that us postponing that business and pursuing financial freedom for ourselves in our family was a privilege that a lot of people in other areas of the world don't have. So that's why we just decided to hit the ground running as soon as we got back.
Sam Wilson 14:00
And what did your mom say about that? You're like, Hey, Ma, out of school.
Kenneth Donis 14:04
She was mad. Yeah, she's very upset.
Jeffrey Donis 14:06
Most immigrant families, I would think if you have any listeners that could really their parents were very big on like, go into higher education. Yeah, maybe I would say more traditional path. And obviously, she cares about us like we were taking a big risk. We were spending a lot of money at first and we weren't getting any return on it. But then when you kind of start making some money, a little bit of a, you know, proof and it's to be not to be too blunt, but it's like a shut-up check is I like to call it so we kind of showed it to her. I was like mom actually not wasting our time here. We're doing seem productive with our time. Obviously, we were helping her with money. So that helped as well.
Sam Wilson 14:36
Yeah, that paves the conversation a little bit. That's really intriguing. Yeah, I wonder. I mean, yes, if your desires to be an entrepreneur, I'm just going to argue that higher education generally, other than contacts probably isn't going to do a lot for you, you know, especially if you've already got that kind of built-in that need and that, that drive to go run your own show, you know, it'll just slow you down, typically.
Kerwin Donis 15:00
We're still big believers in education. We're just learning in other like non traditional settings like conferences, podcast books, things like that. It's honestly even more empowering for us to be in control of our own education because we get to choose it. Whereas when you're in college, you have to take classes that are irrelevant. Just to fill the curriculum requirements. Yeah.
Sam Wilson 15:18
100%. Yeah. Agree. I'm never a proponent for ending your education. Yeah. You every day. But self-educating, driving your own thirst to learn is a very different experience than being handed a book on operations management and say, we're going to talk about operations and fear right over it. You're like, wow, yeah, apartment complex, and then operations on our own. That sounds like yeah, so that's absolutely awesome. I love what you guys have done so far, what is a resource or a tool that you guys find that you have used to really accelerate your growth? Maybe outside of your mastermind?
Jeffrey Donis 15:53
Yeah, I mean, I would say we have our own podcast. That's something that we created, because we read the Best Ever Real Estate Syndication book by Joe Fairless. Kind of talked about being a thought leader in this space. And then it kind of just led to us meeting a lot of people like Bronson Hill, for example. I know you had him on your show. We met him because he was on our podcast. And then he referred some other conferences to us, like the real estate guys event in Belize, the Investor Summit oN.... And that was one of the first events we went to, because Bronson told us and we wouldn't have been able to find out about that event. If he didn't, you know, we didn't have the podcast and we ended up going to the event and meeting like Robert Kiyosaki, Ken McElroy, Tom Wheelwright, and they just opened a whole bunch of other can of worms. So that just led to other, you know, things that we were learning so and as a resource, the podcast, they like to see it as free college course, honestly, I always say that because you get really smart people, you're going to ask them for any questions for about 30 to 45 minutes. And these are really high-value people. So it's awesome to just kind of create that symbiotic relationship. And we get a lot out of it.
Sam Wilson 16:49
Yeah, you bring up an interesting point. And for those of you who are listening to the show, you know, as a listener, I certainly appreciate that. But I'll tell you, to reiterate what you guys are saying I get just as much out of being the host as I do. Listen to other shows. Up the road, I get a front row seat to asking really high level people any question I want for 30 minutes, like, wow, this is amazing. And it's the best education. Yeah, I mean, while it costs money to produce a podcast, it costs money in time. You know, it feels pretty stinking awesome. So I absolutely love it. Gentlemen, if our listeners want to get in touch with you or learn more about you, what is the best way to do that?
Kerwin Donis 17:25
Yeah, they can go to www.donisinvestment.group.com. That's D-O-N-I-S, and we are the Donis Brothers on pretty much every social media platform.
Sam Wilson 17:34
Wonderful. Gentlemen, thank you so much for your time. I do appreciate it. Hey, thanks for listening to the How to Scale Commercial Real Estate Podcast. If you can do me a favor and subscribe and leave us a review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, whatever platform it is you use to listen, if you can do that for us, that would be a fantastic help to the show. It helps us both attract new listeners as well as rank higher on those directories so appreciate you listening. Thanks so much and hope to catch you on the next episode.