Workers were adding the finishing touches to a Ranch-style home just as an all-black Tesla Model 3 pulled up to the job site. When the door opened, an investor entered the Dallas, TX, heat. Enthusiasm radiated from this seasoned drummer as he cheered on his team and lend a hand. It’s Don’nell Greer.
With over 200 flip houses to his credit, Greer is a real estate professional who has successfully built an impressive real estate machine. It started in Dallas and has since expanded its operations to include the entire Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, as well as parts of St. Louis, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
Despite his ever-growing success, this Lone Star State drummer remains eternally grateful for his situation and wants to help others find financial freedom. In this article, Don’nell shares his early life, tips for investors, and other highlights from his real estate career. Whether you’re a seasoned investor or a beginner, there’s a lot to learn from his story.
Become a real estate agent
Greer’s journey began in a marketing course at the University of Texas at Arlington. In class, he was tasked with selling a software product to a CEO in his area. Imagine Shark Tank but for 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 to sadness as he contemplated life on an average salary.
Anyone who knows Don’nell would tell you average is not in his vocabulary. He started looking for ways to make a better living and came across real estate. A friend of his was a real estate agent and explained that the commissions on the sale of houses brought him $30,000 a month.
A light bulb has gone out. Don’nell signed up for virtual realtor training that same night. He saw the potential and became a licensed real estate agent soon after.
It wasn’t long before he became one of Century 21’s top production agents. 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 the money work for him.
His first foray into real estate investing
Don’nell started googling things like “how to grow a business” and “how to get rich”. Naturally, he discovered real estate investing, which combined his existing skills as an agent with a proven way to build wealth.
That’s when he came across articles written by Brandon Turner and David Greene “BRRRR.”
For Greer, he “felt it would take too long to save for properties. I was still a newer agent and wanted to find a way to stretch my money. At first I thought the BRRRR method was a scam because it was too good to be true.
After researching, connecting with people on the BiggerPocket Forumsand by trying it himself, he realized that the BRRRR was truly an amazing way to recycle money.
On his first trade, he managed to execute the BRRRR method. He bought a house for $80,000, went to rehab for $15,000, and the property was appraised at $165,000. This success was the catalyst that propelled his career forward.
Success is not just the tip of the iceberg
Hearing about Greer’s early success may be inspiring to some, but seems like a fairy tale to those who struggled to break into this industry. At first glance, it may seem like he got lucky, but any successful investor will tell you there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.
It took countless hours, hard work and self-belief to get to where he is now. These are some of the lessons he learned along the way.
Create win-win situations
Once, as he knocked on the door, Greer asked a gentleman who had opened his door to him, “Have you ever thought about selling your house? The man who responded said he had always wanted to return to his childhood home, but another family owned it.
Later that day, Greer went through county records and found the other family. It turns out they were interested in selling. Long story short, Greer was able to negotiate a sale between the two parties, leaving everyone happy.
But the story did not end there.
The man who bought his childhood home invited Don’nell over to show him the renovations he had 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 entrepreneur. They proceeded to turn over several houses together.
Sometimes people are so focused on getting the best deal for themselves that they forget about the other people involved 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 have to be yours, though,” Greer says.
Don’nell obtained the capital for his first contract from a family with whom he was very close. He joked that the 10% return he gave them was way above what they could get in a savings account. For him, the borrowed money was worth far more than anything he had in his bank account. After successfully completing rehab, he was able to repay his lenders and used his profits as part of the down payment for his next contract. Another win-win!
What he learned was that he could spread the capital he borrowed over multiple properties instead of one at a time. It has gone 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 traders say to analyze multiple trades per day? And yet, how many of us go all the way? Greer says we’re so focused on instant gratification that it’s easy to forget that “the mundane work you do day in and day out seems boring but pays dividends.”
Looking back on his career, he said, “I can’t tell you how many hours a day I spent playing with the BiggerPockets (calculators).” It may seem like nothing changes when you browse one property at a time. In effect, you’re learning your market inside out while refining your buy box. When that great deal finally comes along, you’ll be ready for it.
Clearly define roles before entering into partnerships
When you decide to team up with a friend or relative, it can be hard to imagine anything going wrong. Hopefully not, but Don’nell reminds us that it is possible and as such you should be prepared.
In his own business, there were troubles with a partner. The initial agreement was that the work would be distributed fairly based on their skills. Reality turned out very differently and Don’nell ended up doing a lot more than his partner while splitting the profits equally.
They have since parted ways amicably, but Don’nell cautions anyone entering into a partnership to treat it like a marriage. This means properly defining roles and responsibilities in an operating agreement. It can then serve as a benchmark to guide your business. Start with an operating agreement because your foundation mitigates the risk of things going wrong.
Today, Don’nell has a flexible schedule that allows him to pick up his kids from school, work when he wants, 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.