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Alex Cortez | Starting in Real Estate While Still at Your W2 Job

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Hosted by
Mike Ayala

On this episode of Investing for Freedom, Mike talks with Alex Cortez. Alex is relatively new to real estate investing having started less than 5 years ago. Today, Alex is taking in $9,000 every month in passive income on top of his W2 wage. Alex and Mike talk about how Alex got to where he is today and much more.

HIGHLIGHTS:

0:00 – Intro
2:47 – Alex tells us that his mother, his wife and Mike have all had the greatest impact on his life
7:52 – Mike tells us one of his mentors says your network is your net worth as he tells the story of how he and Alex reconnected
10:41 – You must adopt an abundance mindset over a scarcity mindset
11:29 – Alex talks about being around people in the real estate business and being able to learn from them
13:05 – Alex tells us his willingness to take risks has had the greatest impact on his success
14:39 – Mike asks what Alex’s greatest set back is and what he learned from it
24:12 – Alex shares the advice he finds himself sharing the most
28:36 – With Alex and Alexia are still working despite earning $9k a month in passive income. Mike asks what the plan is for the future
30:45 – Mike and Alex discuss that people feel that hiring a mentor is an unnecessary expense
35:43 – Alex briefly talks about why they love Mike as a mentor
37:27 – Alex talks about a time before he invested
45:05 – Whatever your goal is, set it a little bit higher

FULL TRANSCRIPTION:

Mike Ayala: Thank you for joining me on the Investing for Freedom podcast. We’ve got a unique episode today that I’m super excited about, and I think you guys will enjoy this. I’m going to start bringing on you know, probably once a quarter, we won’t schedule this out, but probably once a quarter, I’m going to bring on you know, I don’t want to call it a young up and comer or a young hustler, but we’re going to do some, I’m half-joking. Cause I know Alex really well, but we’re going to do some yeah, some up and comers. You know, some guys that are learning, they’re growing, they’re being immersed. And, you know, we were just talking about this before the show, the difference between super successful people and everybody else is getting off the couch, just taking action. So many people spend so much time learning, reading, listening to podcasts, getting inspired, and they never do anything with it. But once a quarter, I’m going to bring on people that are actually out there making moves, who are maybe not necessarily as far along as like the guests, David Osborne in episode one, who’s worth a couple hundred million dollars, but people that everybody else will relate to. They’re people that are just making moves. They’re early in their journey. And I’m actually really excited to bring this guest on today because we grew up in the same town. Our paths crossed multiple times over the years. And you know, the last probably five or six years, I’d say we’ve built a relationship and it’s been great. And so, I’ve got Alex Cortez on with me today, Alex, I appreciate you being on the show.

Alex Cortez: Mike, thank you so much for having me I am extremely happy and excited to be here. And to your point, you know this is my first podcast, which makes it very exciting. And you know, I know that there’s a lot of new investors out there that I hope that my story will, you know, add value or maybe get them to make some changes in their lives if this is something that they want to chase.

Mike Ayala: Yeah, no, I think it’s going to be really exciting. And I think you guys are going to super inspired by this. And the other thing I want to say too, when we start these series, what I’m going to do is I’m going to bring Alex back on probably every 12 months and we’re going to track his journey. And so, when we bring on these, these young up-and-comers, and by the way, young doesn’t necessarily mean age. They could be 18, they could be 40, they could be 60. But when we track, we’re going to check back in and see the progress. So, I’m super excited about it. So, Alex, let’s dive into the questions. Who’s had the greatest impact on your life.

Alex Cortez: Yeah. So you know, when I thought about this question, Mike I mean, I kind of break it down in different chapters of my life, and so there’s three people that I like to kind of say, have had impacts in certain chapters of my life. First and foremost, my mom, you know, she’s just been, you know, her story and the support she has been for me over the years, is been just amazing.  She came from humble beginnings in a small province in the Philippines, oldest of four sisters. You know, she went on to be a doctor, but to get to that path, you know, the family had to make some sacrifices financially at the cost of even some of her sisters so that she can get to the US and become that doctor. And then from that, I watched, you know, just her giving nature, you know, she was able to, once she got settled in the US she was able to bring her sisters to the US as well. And anybody who known her, she’s always just been very nurturing and just a very great person. Love mom.

Mike Ayala: That’s cool, man. Yeah. I’ve met Alex’s mom and spent quite a bit of time with her. And I second that, she’s just a gym man.

Alex Cortez: Yup. And probably the, you know, of course I got to say this, probably the second person that came into my life that’s really had that impact. It would be my wife you know, we met about 10 years ago and it’s crazy Mike, because she is the exact opposite of everything that I am. And I have just grown to love her for it. You know, especially as we started doing this journey of getting into business, like you know, I’d say I’m more on the gas, she’s more on the brake. She’s a little bit more analytical and more cautious. And because of that, I think it’s really what, you know, she’s been the perfect partner for me in terms of business and going that way. And then just on a personal level, like she’s a huge traveler. She loves to travel, and you know, since I got to know her, I also really began to share that same passion. So, and lastly, I, as of recent, I would, not to blow smoke up your butt, but next person that I actually had impact on my life is actually you. I still remember when you know, I know that we came from the same town and I know of your beginnings, but it wasn’t really until 2015, 2016, where I got to know you more on a professional level and a personal level. And just you and Kara’s story and where you guys came from. It’s always been inspiring to me. And to be honest, I can still remember that very, very first phone call, you know, and I don’t know if you remember this, but you were like, Hey, Alex, let’s buy an apartment. And I was, I think I was in San Francisco. I was just a W2 employee. I had no, no desire to have thought of even, you know, like thinking about investing in real estate. But and then I remember what I told you. I was like, I’m scared. I don’t know what to do here, Mike and you know, God bless you. You were very nice, and you know, like you were understanding.  But I got off that phone call and I just remember thinking to myself and internalizing this. And I’m like, you know, what was I scared of? I hear I was talking to somebody that was basically my same age. And in you that I’ve seen, that’s just been really successful and paved his own path. And I’m like, well, I mean, I don’t know for whatever reason that’s kind of what sparked the fire in me. But then, you know, just definitely like, you know, when I met you, I was like, can I talk to Mike, he’s always so positive. Like he’s always so helpful. And, you know, what is it about him versus people that I’ve normally associated with in the W2 world that are typically talking about work or focused on work and maybe all the stresses of living paycheck to paycheck. I don’t know what it was about you at the time, but I have a feeling it was something along those lines that drew me to you. So, and then just, you know, few years, as you know, we’ve actually you know, you’re actually now a mentor/consultant for us that we brought on and that’s helping us in the mobile home space. And so as I look at our trajectory over the next three to five years, I see you as really being that, you know, that, you know, that impact in my life and my wife’s life, that’s going to help us get to that next level.

Mike Ayala: You know, so number one, I appreciate that. And it’s you know, I get inspired working with you guys because you’re always you know, just asking the right questions and you go out and do, which is the main reason why I wanted to have you on the show. So, I appreciate the kind words. But I want to unpack a couple of things that you said there, two thoughts that I really had. Number one of my mentors always says your network is your net worth. And that’s such an important point because, you know, Alex and I, even though we connected, and I don’t know if he remembers this, but I was a few years behind him in school, but some of our friends kind of, you know, his, his sister was a year above us. And so anyway, there was a couple of times that we had met. I don’t know if you even remember that. I think we met one time in Salt Lake, in your apartment. But the reason why I’m saying this, you never know how your path is going to cross with someone. And so, you know, on that note of being positive and all of that stuff, there’s two things that I want to unpackage. My mentor always says your network is your net worth. And when I think about this, the way that we got reconnected a mutual friend of ours, I was doing a bunch of work for a guy that was a contractor that you went to school with, Mitch right? So, Alex was looking for some help with a property that they had. Alex and I hadn’t talked for 20 years or whatever the timeline is or longer. It’d been longer than that. Well, maybe not, but anyway, it’d been a long time. And so, a mutual person connected us five, six years ago, however long it was. And then we connected back together and, you know, that brings us to where we’re at today and who knows what life’s going to bring us. I mean, you tell the story about originally, you know, talking about investing in, you just never know where life’s going to take you. And so the two things that I really want to say to our listeners and acknowledge you back, you never know when somebody that you meet today is going to be a pivotal part of your life two years from now, or five years from now, or even 30 years from now. So, the way that we treat every interaction, and every relationship is extremely important. And the second thing that I want to unpackage, and you were acknowledging some things in me about positivity and that kind of stuff, but I really believe, and I say this all the time, the Zig Ziglar quote, you can have everything you want in life if you just help enough other people get what they want. And when you’re talking about the W2 people and that mindset, I think the real defining factor in success is when you get past the fact of your limiting beliefs and you know, a fear of the lack of abundance, if you will, there’s so much money and there’s so much abundance in the world that really that Zig Ziglar quote, you can have everything you want in life, if you just help enough other people get what they want. But so many people come from a scarcity mentality. And I think, you know, like there’s nothing wrong with W2 employees. In fact, we’re going to get into this cause you’re still a W2, but you’re on your way. You’re already a very successful investor. But I think the problem is whether it’s a W2 employee or a rich Scrooge or anything else, it’s never really about the money. It’s about a scarcity mindset or an abundance mindset. You could have a billion dollars and still have a scarcity mindset. I know that sounds crazy. And you could have zero money and your scarcity mindset is probably worse. Most people think they’re holding onto their last penny and that’s why they turn into Scrooge. And that’s why they think the way that they do. But once people get, they acknowledge the fact that there’s so much wealth and money and we don’t have to push other people down in order to get it. I think that’s the key that you’re you know, you were kind of hitting on and you were talking specifically about me, but if you talk to anybody that’s abundant minded and is very giving, that’s probably why they’re successful. So, we have this backwards. Most of us in our mind think that we need to hold on to everything in order to be prosperous. And it’s the opposite. You got to keep that money flowing and giving.

Alex Cortez: Agreed. You know, and it doesn’t have to be, I’d like to point out to you Mike, it’s you know, it’s weird because when we met, I was in Silicon Valley and all of my friends, we all techies and you know working in the software company. And you were the first person that kind of like came from like the entrepreneurial, the real estate world. And through you that I eventually met Tyler. I eventually got out to a few real estate conventions. And you said something about your networking and net worth, or you know, the thing that you’ve always kind of emphasized is, the five people you spend the most time with, I forgot how quote is, but I mean, I just think there’s so much truth in it. And, you know, having, like for me, I had to go out and. I don’t have tons of, of friends that are real estate and successful entrepreneurs, but the ones that I do have, I’m just so glad that I was able to, you know, just recently get exposed to them and be around them. And just, it’s a different mindset. It’s a different you know, communication when you’re speaking to people like that. And, you know, for what it’s worth, I am at that stage in my life where I can internalize that and seek growth from being around people like that.

Mike Ayala: Yeah, it’s such a great point. If you could narrow it down to one thing that has had the greatest impact on your success, what would that be?

Alex Cortez: Yeah. So, let me back track and say this, this is, I don’t know if this is my greatest superpower or the greatest contributor to my success, but it’s something that I’m the most proud of. It’s definitely my willingness to take risks you know, stemming back from that original call back in 2015, 2016, you know, I had to go through that process of you know, of being willing to take that risk, you know, and as I, you know, not just with real estate, but I think with anything that you do in life whether it’s, you know, you’re trying to get that promotion and your W2 job, or you’re looking to start out your business, or in my case with real estate at some point I had to get comfortable being uncomfortable, you know, and I think that, I don’t know, my opinion on risks now, it’s kind of like a muscle it’s like something that you work out like, you know, I remember that first real estate property that we got into.  I mean, we were second guessing. There was a lot of apprehension, you know, getting ready to shell out 50,000 on that first deal. I mean, we almost talked ourselves out of that. But I’m just so glad that we didn’t and come to find out, you know, one property, two properties, three properties, you just get better and better at you know, kind of flexing that muscle. And so that’s, I would say that’s probably the one superpower or thing that I’m most proud of coming from where I came from.

Mike Ayala: Yeah. That’s awesome. What was your greatest setback and what’d you learn from it?

Alex Cortez: Well, so I lived kind of a boring life Mike.  There’s two setbacks that I can really, one of them isn’t really like a setback. It’s one of those things where if I could turn back the hands of time, would I have done it differently. So, going back to mom you know, both my parents migrated from the Philippines and, you know, they came to the US back in 1974. My mom took the W2 path. She was a highly skilled professional as a pediatrician in the town we grew up in. And then I had my dad who, my whole life, I have never known him to have a job. He was more of an entrepreneur. I just wasn’t paying attention when I was younger. So, I don’t know if you remember, but they had that old Greyhound bus Depot back in Elko, Nevada. He had an opportunity to buy that. So, I remember spending days we’d be at the bus Depot and he would be running a cafeteria and, you know, the slot machines there and just running out the whole operation. And, you know, from there, he kind of, you know, it’s weird cause they never, my family never really talked about it, but he expanded. When it’s all said and done, he had three mobile home parks, he had two motels. We own that that store, that convenience store on fifth street. And you know, I don’t know what it was. I think it was partly because my parents came from the Philippines and you know that mindset of, you know, you go to America, you get your education. You know, it’s the land of abundance and possibility. So, I feel like, and I’m not blaming them. Some shared that I had every opportunity, but I feel like I was kind of steered towards getting good grades, going to college, getting a job and being happily retired, which on their behalf, I mean, in Philippines, that’s really not an option. I mean, they don’t have a thing like retirement. But definitely if I could turn back time, I would probably not waste my time at college, I would have showed more interest in what my dad was doing. And who knows where I’ve been, where I’d be today in terms of my financial trajectory. And then of course there was one minor setback back in 2017. So, my W2 background is really in telecom and unified communication software. In 2015 I had made the decision, I got recruited by a security software vendor out of Canada. And, you know, I got enticed by it and of course, higher salary, yada yada, yada, but it was something that I had been programmed. I’ve never, I mean, for 20 years before that I’ve been in telecom, I’ve been in a different industry altogether. I decided to take the jump and went with this company. They brought in, I think, five managers from the telecom space to try to bring this video platform out to the market. Long story short, the platform and the software was not a viable solution. And they ended up having to dismantle the team. So, there was a time there in 2017 where I was kind of down and out in terms of W2 job for about four months. I wasn’t too worried because I am in telecom. And the industry I came from was very much high in demand and I could get back there, but there was really two things that in that, during that time that I kind of, you know, realized number one, there was a realization that I was handicapped. Like I have done telecommunications and unified communications. That’s been my expertise. That’s been all as I’ve been doing for the last 20 years. And as soon as I tried to step out into something else, I couldn’t do it. I was basically useless for all intents and purposes. And that scared me, you know, knowing that I’m basically as a W2 employee, I’m confined to this one industry. And I didn’t like that. I didn’t like that feeling. And then number two, by then I think we had, let’s see here, we had two, we did get started getting into some investments, we closed our first home in Austin. And then we had a home in Memphis that we closed on. And then we started doing some promissory notes. So, we started getting to, started getting, you know, I had an idea of what passive income was and what that meant. And so, for all purposes, at that point, I was already drinking the Kool-Aid. So I was like, you know what, I’m going to get out, you know, as soon as I get this sorted out, I am definitely I’m going to be focusing on building my passive income because I think this is where, you know, this is where I want to be. Cause I don’t want to be ever stuck in that position where, and again, it wasn’t like the end of the world, was about four months, but you know, I just didn’t like that helpless feeling.

Mike Ayala: Yeah. That’s such good advice, man. So, do you think that that’s what really catapulted you? I know you’ve mentioned that you had already done some investments and everything else, but did that experience really push you further into the investing arena and make you realize that you know, you said you realized you were handicapped, is that where you guys really took off or were you were already on that trajectory?

Alex Cortez: That’s where we got really serious. That’s where, you know, and then two conversations with my wife, you know, I was really pushing hard, let’s do this. And we did get pretty aggressive after that. And again, this is all recent, like 2018, but I would say that the real catapult actually still stems from my knowing you and getting those, you know, my first experience with somebody that was in real estate that I could relate to. But yeah, to your point, losing my job for that temporary time I was like, Nope, I’m not going to be stuck in this position.

Mike Ayala: Well, it’s such an inspiring, you know, thought process because just even like, we talk about this all the time, but investing for freedom, like the thing is, you set each individual out there listening, sets the goals that they want from their life. Nobody else is telling you, you know what that looks like. It doesn’t have to be a hundred million dollars. It doesn’t have to be $2 billion. It could be, I want to make an extra a hundred thousand dollars a year. It could be, I want to make $50,000 a year, whatever that is for you as an individual is for you. Whatever freedom means to you is for you. But for me, personally, investing for freedom for me is exactly what you’re talking about. I want to go wherever I want, whenever I want, I don’t want to be told what to do. I don’t want to be at the mercy of someone else. Am I going to make mistakes? Yes. And you know that when you’re talking about you and Alexia and the difference, you know, I’ve said this so many times, a mentor of mine actually always says, if two partners have the same strength, one of them is not needed. And that’s the beauty of you and Alexia working together. And I really enjoy working with you guys because there’s balance there right. In a good way. And a lot of times we, you know, you said its gas and it’s break, but a lot of times that balance is truly what we need out of life. Because then, you know, I mean, literally if there was no break, you could go off the train tracks. But here at the end of the day, pulling this together, investing for freedom. It’s my decision. If I mess up it’s because I made a mistake, not because I’m handicapped and I’m at the Beck and call of someone else, or some manager who, who, you know, their boss comes in and says, Hey, just cut 15% of the workforce. And you end up on that list because you just got hired two years ago. That’s what scares the living shit out of me.

Alex Cortez: Agreed. It’s you know, look, now that you just said that Mike that’s really the thought process behind my, you know, our willingness and our, you know, our motivation to take action, to be honest.

Mike Ayala: I love it. It’s been so fun watching. What is the piece of advice you find yourself sharing the most?

Alex Cortez: So, there’s a couple, so you know, I definitely, you know, I find myself talking to people and saying, you know, like you got to take a risk. I mean, you know, being comfortable or how’s the saying go being comfortable. It is a comfortable place to be, but at the end of the day, nothing’s ever going to grow there. You know, I just threw out my experience, not just with real estate, with anything I’ve wanted to do, whether it’s physical health, whether it’s you know, advancements in W2 jobs, anything, you got to be willing to step out of your comfort zone. You got to be willing to take that risk. So that’s probably the you know, one piece of advice I find myself sharing. Another one that I started kind of, one of them that I’ve started to really take on probably in the last four or five years and actually this is because of Tyler, he had recommended to me a while back in 2016, that what’s the book, the richest man in Babylon. For anyone who haven’t read it, I might suggest you guys do read it. It’s kind of written in an older time, but I don’t know for whatever reason, there was one saying that in that book, and I know I’m going to slaughter it, but it’s something about for every bag of gold that you get, keep one or two coins. And so what I kind of got out of that you really, you know, as we were looking to get into real estate, we saw that we had to figure out ways to put money in and pay ourselves first. And, you know, it started out small, but kind of where we’re at now. And I think it might be helpful if I had a little number, Mike, but in terms of where we’re at in our passive income today we were just under $9,000 a month in passive income. And I think when we look back when we started, you know, we weren’t able to save that much, but whatever we got from real estate and from passive income, we did not touch. We let that accumulate. And then through W2 income, like we were, currently we’re putting away anywhere between $4,000 to $5,000 a month from our W2 income to add to that. And I think it’s really through that whole mindset of paying yourself first. It’s allowed us not only to get into those properties, but you know, we saw that as you were building more and more properties, that we were able to accelerate our ability to get that capital in place so that we can be inject it. So definitely anybody that’s looking to get into real estate or to invest in general. I think that you’re going to have to figure out a way to pay yourself first. And I know that, I mean, there’s lots, you see commercials on people that get into real estate, no money down and yada yada, yada. But I would even say if that’s something you want to do, and you’ve never done it, you’re still going to have to invest in yourself to get educated, to learn that because you’re not going to be able to come out of the gate and go buy a property with no money down and no experience. So, I would definitely say that you got to figure out a way to pay yourself first.

Mike Ayala: Yeah, no, that’s such good advice. And I’m with you on richest, man in Babylon, I’ve literally read or listened to that book over a hundred times, guaranteed. One of my favorite books in the world. It’s kind of, it’s kind of, my uncle actually gave it to Kara and I for our wedding. And he put a $20 bill and a $2 bill in there because the book says a 10th of all you make is yours to keep. And so, in the front of the book from Uncle Harold, who was actually my great uncle he was one of the successful people in the family. And guess what he was invested in? Real estate. Yeah, so long story short in the front of the book, he put the $2 bill is yours to keep, the $20 bill is yours to spend. And I put that book on the shelf. I took the $20 and the $2, and I’m like, well, I get to spend the $20. And so, I just left the $2 bill in the book. And I didn’t read that book for probably a year or two after Kara and I were married. We were going on vacation somewhere. And I brought that book with me. When I picked that book up and started reading through it, I’m like, like, why didn’t I read this sooner? Why didn’t this find me sooner? But I love that wisdom on a 10th of all you make is yours to keep an eye also love, I want to unpackage that a little bit because you and Alexia are still both working, even though you’re making $9,000 a month in passive income, right. At least for now, what’s the goal?

Alex Cortez: So, the goal is, and things are starting to, you know, get a little bit more ramped up on the real estate. So, the plan is hopefully we’re going to get Alexia retired hopefully before the end of this year. We see a legitimate need with a consultancy work that we’re actually doing with you. We have a pretty aggressive goal in terms of getting, our plan is if everything goes right, to get in six new mobile homes over the next 12, 18 months. And then we also have a single-family home that we have a contract in Florida. But you know, all those things, really what that goal is, we’ll try to get to $5,000 per month of added monthly cashflow within the next 18 months. And so, we see Alexia that the plan is to get her retired. And then, you know, we’ll see how things go. I mean, one thing I will say is, there are parts about my job that I truly enjoy. And so, for the most part, I’m having fun, but definitely when I’m not having fun anymore, I have that option to say, well, I don’t need to work anymore. We’ll see how that goes.

Mike Ayala: One of our mutual, a person that we both know, you know, one of my mentors, Barry Lipparelli, he always says, when it’s not fun anymore, I’m not doing it. And I’m just like, I mean, some of these little nuggets that he drops, like, you know, I mean, most people probably just wax right over that, but these little things, I mean, that’s life 101. I mean, as long as you’re having fun, why mess with it? But the day that it no longer becomes fun. The cool thing is, is you’re no longer handicapped. And when it’s no longer fun, you can make moves. And I love that. So, let’s get into so you said, you said something that I want to circle back on. Even, you know, the no money down stuff, getting into real estate, investing all that is true, but I’m constantly talking about, you know, a lot of people will ask me, Hey, I’ve got a $1,000 to invest, or I’ve got $5,000 to invest in.

The reality is if you’re at that investment level, you could go out and you can find no money down deals, but I love what you said about finding a mentor. So many people look at that expense of hiring a coach or hiring a mentor or joining a program. And they say, man, that’s so much money. It’s such a stretch. But the thing that I loved what you said, if you’re going to get into anything and it doesn’t have to be real estate investing, it could be Forex trading, Bitcoin, anything else, the amount of money and time that somebody else’s experience can save you should bring you multiple 10 or 20 times, 100 times return on the mistakes that you’re going to make. And that’s one thing that you and I have talked about a lot, you know, we’re Alex and Alexia are coaching with me on a weekly basis. And you know, the, the things that I’m able to help you are things that I’ve learned the hard way over 20 years. And it should address that a little bit, not necessarily you and I working together, but that coaching mindset, because you said something there and just kind of rolled over it. But I think that will save people a ton of money. And like, you even went back to college, like you spent so much money on college. People are fine dropping a hundred grand on college, but they won’t drop 20 grand on coaching and mentoring. It’s interesting. Give me your thoughts on that.

Alex Cortez: No, I appreciate you bringing that up Mike, just to backtrack for your listeners.  My wife and I, we had made the decision to work with Mike on a, more of a mentorship consultancy relationship. I think it’s been about six months now, and you know, my wife and I even just last night, we were talking about how, if we did not do this, like imagine us trying to run and operate a mobile home park. I’m not going to say we couldn’t have done it, but I would say that it would, I had to learn a lot of shit the hard way. And I can honestly say that, you know, through this, you know, my biggest learning with having a mentor and to getting something or somewhere we want to be is you’ve literally cut the time. I mean, you’ve probably taken five years off of the learning curve, if not more in getting into this. I mean, we’re at a point now where again, I came from telecom and software I didn’t know shit about mobile home parks, or electricity, amperage, square footage, you know, what’s needed to bring a mobile home, how to read a, understand a Performa. You know, we were a blank slate for all intents and purposes and just what I’ve learned in the last six months. And by the way, I mean, we’re coming across our challenges as you know, Mike, I mean, we’re seeing zigzags,  but definitely even for the things that we see as little setbacks, I mean, we’re learning so much. And I just can’t say enough about, you know, if there’s something that you want to do you know, I think it’s really important that you’re going to, not only find a mentor, but make sure you find somebody for us, you know, we have a great relationship with you. So, we like you a lot, but I think even more important is like, you’ve already been down that path, you’re successful you are where we want to be. And so that’s, for me, I think when you’re out there looking for a mentor, it’s really important that you find somebody that, you know, that’s been down that path. Unlike what you’ll probably find in college, you probably find some freshers, they’ll talk to you about, I don’t know, biology, whatever.

Mike Ayala: And, you know, even the universities, the higher end universities are at such an advantage because a lot of those professors, you know, they’ve been investors, they’ve been business owners and that kind of stuff at the higher end universities, but the majority of the smaller and the community colleges and that kind of stuff. These are teachers that went to school to learn the same thing they’re teaching you. Like they haven’t done it. And so unpackaging a couple of things that I just heard you say that I think is really brilliant. Number one, you need a mentor, a number two, you need to make sure that that mentors already done whatever it is. I love the Warren Buffet quote. He said, wall street is the only place in the world where people show up in Bentley’s to take advice from people that took the subway. And I just, I think that’s just, you know, so brilliantly said the way that he said it, but then the other thing that you started to touch on and I grabbed it and I want to make sure that the listeners heard it. You got to work with somebody that you like, you know, even circling back to what you said about fun. If you’re working with a coach and you’re not having fun, and you guys don’t mesh and your character doesn’t align and it’s not fun, then you need to move on from that too. So, I really think there’s three things. Number one, you need a mentor. Number two, you need to make sure that they know what the hell they’re talking about. And number three, you need to make sure that it’s fun and that you actually gel, because I’ve had some coaches in the past that we just did not connect, and that’s not fun. You got to be able to connect with them. So, when you’re looking for a mentor, make sure you’re doing as much interviewing of them as they are of you. So brilliant wisdom. So, answer me this question. Do you want to say anything on any of that?

Alex Cortez: So, yeah, so real quick, I think Mike, one thing that we love about you too, is you don’t bullshit us. You’re very straight, you’re a straight shooter with us, and I can honestly say that because of that. And the way that we can, if you’re interested, you have our self-interest in mind, but I mean, we could’ve made some mistakes. Shoot, just two days ago, we were on a call and we were considering, by the way, that’s not off the table, but like, you know, you quickly highlighted that, you know, paying, you know, $75,000 for a mobile home, when, you know, there might be ways that we can get that for $25,000 less. I mean, if we didn’t have some of that, somebody telling us that, you know, I think that’s a good chance that, you know, we will probably would’ve moved forward and who knows, what other mistakes you’ve made over the last four months. But I just want to throw that out there.

Mike Ayala: Yeah, no, it’s mutually beneficial. And that’s the thing too, is usually again, I think even back to a conversation we had early on in this podcast, so many people have such a scarcity mindset. They’re looking at what a coach or a mentor is trying to take from them versus what they’re trying to give to me. If the transaction isn’t mutual, then I don’t want to do it either. And most people think that way, but I think people get in their mind and they’re like, you know, Oh, this person’s going to, most people don’t hire mentors for that reason because they don’t see the value in it. And here’s the sad thing, they’re going to be stuck where they’re at forever, because the difference between you and them is you’re a student, you’re learning and you’re taking action. So, speaking of taking action, bring us up to speed. So, let’s go back five, six years. I mean, at some point in time, you tell me the timeline, you didn’t own any real estate other than your personal residence. How long ago was that?

Alex Cortez: That was in 2015, actually 2015, wife and I were back in San Francisco. Happily, employed. I don’t know if I would say happily, but we, you know, we had our California salary. At the same time, we were paying our California cost of living. We had a one-bedroom apartment. We were paying close to $3,200 a month in rent. And it wasn’t until right around when I met you. And then through chain of events, we ended up making the move to Austin in 2016. And a couple of things happened in number one, we were able to get into a home versus shelling out $3,200 every month to, you know, to some apartment owner. But number two, if we thought ourselves in a position where we were able to take you, we were able to put away money so that we could invest. And that’s, I think that move in Austin back in 2016 was a big catapult for us. It was during that year that we, first got actually, our first investment was actually a promissory note as you know. So, once we did that and we saw like this little bit of income coming in. Then we got into, you know, for all intent and purposes, we didn’t start off doing a single-family home. Our first investment was actually a mobile home parks indication in Elko, which you are also familiar with. But we got into that. And then also in 2016, we were looking in Austin, we wanted to buy a single-family home that we could rent out or duplex. And as everybody knows, Austin is one of those markets where you know, the cost of these homes are quite high. And it’s really hard to find a good rent value or a good cashflowing property. So, we came across the group you know, they are more of a, kind of a halfway house. They cater to addicts and alcoholics that are in recovery and kind of their model is they’re looking for four bedrooms, two and a half, three-bathroom homes that they can fill in anywhere between 16 residents. From a business model standpoint, you know, we were able to get that higher rent. So, you know, for example, our first one was a $200,000, four-bedroom home. And we were able to negotiate a rent of $2250 which, you know, it’s definitely out of the norm. But so that, that was really what happened in 2016 and got us started. And then again, 2017, there was a little bit of a setback because I lost my W2 employment. And then, you know, we were trying to get financing for Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae conventional loans, you have to have established employment. So, it was a little bit of a downtime there in 2017 where we weren’t able to do any investing, but then 2018 rolled around. And that’s what we kind of got pretty aggressive. We ended up buying two more single family homes out of Memphis and then another halfway house in Austin in 2018 and then 2019, we started looking at syndications. We invested in a multifamily syndication. I think it’s a 101-unit apartment in Mississippi. And then also we’re invested in a mobile home park in Alabama, and then fast forward to 2020, which I think is actually given everything that’s happened in COVID. I feel actually really blessed that we were able to, I see this year has really where we kind of, we’re going to go out and do everything we can on this while still keeping our jobs. So, we closed one more home in Mississippi earlier this year. But my wife and I, we had made a decision to go ahead and bring on a mentor, take over management of a 76-space mobile home park in Oakland, Nevada. We grabbed it up into an LLC where we have a commercial property and then also a condo in Vegas that’s under that. And now we’re in process of, as you know, we set up another holding company that we’re looking to hopefully spin up six new mobile homes over the next 12 to 18 months. And we’ll see what 2021 brings, but that’s kind of where we’re at.

Mike Ayala: Yeah. And so, you’re in a turnaround process on the mobile home park too. I mean, I don’t remember the exact numbers, but you plan on bringing in, like, I mean, between, there’s kind of across the street from each other, but between the two of them, you probably have room to bring in 15 or 18 homes or something, right?

Alex Cortez: Yeah. Yeah. We actually, so in one of the parks is, we’re focused on one of the parks, there is 13 vacant lots there. That’ll probably be our focal point for the next two to three years. And then we’ll have to reassess what’s happening in the other the park. But, yeah, there’s quite a upside potential there.

Mike Ayala: What a story, man. So, you guys are both still working your W2 job. You have how many single-family homes?

Alex Cortez: Seven.

Mike Ayala: Seven single families. You have a 72-space mobile home park. You have, you’re in two syndications, you’re in a mobile home park syndication and a multifamily syndication all in five years?

Alex Cortez: Three.

Mike Ayala: Oh yeah. Two mobile home parks.

Alex Cortez: Three syndications, and then the two mobile home parks. And it’s funny you bring this up, Mike, and I think it was you actually, that kind of encouraged us to, this about six months ago during COVID we decided to go glamping and my wife and I decided to sit down one night and just kind of look at you know, try to dissect where we really were in terms of passive income and investments. And there’s that saying, you know, you tend to underestimate what you can do in one year, but overestimate what you can do in five years. And it was weird. It was crazy, but like it was during that time, but we kind of like, you know, when you’re in the moment and you’re like, one house doesn’t feel like much, two house doesn’t feel like much. But then when you’re able to, at that point, we were able to kind of look back at what we did in the last four years. And like that wasn’t so bad.

Mike Ayala: Yeah, well, and I have to tip my hat to you because again you know, we live in our own brains every day and we don’t know how amazing we are, but as we were prepping for this, I mentioned to you that the difference between you and 90% of people is you didn’t just learn, you guys are out doing it. And so, that’s one of the main reasons why I wanted to bring you on, because in five years, you know, you guys got moving and as you know, we’ve spent the last hour almost talking about, you guys have made huge moves in five years. And so, you know, when somebody sets their intention, whether it’s real estate or any other type of investing, and they start moving, like you just said, one didn’t feel like that many, two didn’t feel like that many, but now you own seven homes and you’re invested in multiple syndications and you own your own mobile home park. And you know, you’re growing and expanding, and you’re still employed. Like you’re doing all this while you’re keeping your job. And I think it’s just such a, it’s such a powerful story. And so, I appreciate you coming on and sharing it with us. I think it’ll inspire a lot of people, you know, again, sometimes we bring on the David Osborne’s of the world and people are like, well, that’s great. He’s worth 200 million. How the hell do I get there? I mean, I can’t even barely see myself being worth a 100 million let alone to that’s you know, that’s like landing on Mars, but when we bring on normal everyday people like you and me and share the story that we’ve done in the last five years, seven years, ten years, that brings hope to people.

Alex Cortez: Love it, you know and just one more thing for your listeners that I think this is just one thing that I’ve kind of internalized for myself and it helped me. But you know, it’s for anybody that’s out there looking to do something and set goals I would probably say whatever your goal is, set it a little bit higher. And what I mean by that, it’s, you know, when we first kind of got into, we said you know, two homes. But it was, you know, there’s been moments, especially in the last two years where we set, like, for example, we set a pretty, in our opinion, an aggressive goal of increasing our monthly cashflow by $5,000 and bringing in six homes. And, it’s, I think when you do this, when you set that higher mark for yourself, it’s at that point where your head starts to really work and you start to get resourceful and look for ways to make that happen. And I wouldn’t say, you know, if you’re starting from a thousand dollars a month in cashflow and you’re going out to set up a million dollars in next year, I mean, not that high, but I would say set a goal that high, that if everything works and the stars aligned, you can hit it. Cause I think by doing that, that’s really where the magic happens. You know, and there’s a, you know, who knows? We may not hit our target in the next 12 to 18 months, but everything that we’re doing our actions, our mindset, I think that’s, it’s being stirred by setting that goal. And, you know, and actually to that point, when, you know, your goals are your goals. I mean, if you’re going out to get into investing or whatever the case may be, whether it’s health or whatnot only you can set that urgency. So, you know, for anybody that’s out there trying to get into it, you know if you’re the one that’s going to have to create that urgency. And I think it’s going to be you that has to really, you know, if you want something, set it a little bit higher.

Mike Ayala: I like it. Well, I just really have appreciated getting to know you and Alexia over the last few years and just love, you know, watching what has happened. It’s inspiring to me. And so, I figured it’d be inspiring to our community and stay tuned guys. Cause we’re going to bring Alex and maybe we could even get Alexia to join us 12 months from now and, you know, just bring on an update as to where they’re at. Yeah. So good times. Anything else? Any final words?

Alex Cortez: No, you know, I guess we are closing. Again, Mike, I just want to say how, you know, it’s been a privilege knowing you and Kara over the last four years. Just watching your trajectory again, just coming from the same town that we came from and just knowing your background. It’s really been a blessing knowing you and you know; I just look forward to what that next decade holds and that’s it. Cheers.

Mike Ayala: Yeah. Cheers. I feel the same brother. Thanks for being on the show.

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Episode 90