It’s tricky figuring out who you can trust in the REI world. If you are dead set on running the real estate gauntlet, I’d say that you are pretty safe with Nate.
I’ll let you be the judge.
Midwest Turn-key Wholesaler Real Estate Investor and Author
I watched a YouTube video of a half-hour interview with Nate Armstrong, and it was one of the better interviews I’ve seen.
- Andrey Sokurec, the interviewer, adopted a no-prior-knowledge position and asked all the basic questions that a new real-estate investor would want to ask, and
- Armstrong answered the questions in a way a new real-estate investor would understand.
If used as a marketing tool to draw new investors and private lenders into business with Calhoun Ventures—Armstrong’s company with a suite of services—it would certainly be a success.
Together with his partners, Nate Armstrong operates Calhoun Ventures out of Minneapolis, MN.
It is primarily a turnkey wholesaling company that focuses on projects in Minneapolis, MN; Kansas City, MO; and Davenport, IA.
Calhoun Ventures also works with people who wish to be private lenders. Investors of this nature generally receive an average rate of return of 8%-14% over their six-month commitments.
We are gonna take a look at Calhoun Ventures, but first let me tell you about my experience in real estate investing.
I was suuuuuper excited about the prospect of owning 10 homes all generating a cash flow of $1,000 per month.
>That’s $10,000/ month.
That was all I needed to sustain my way of life. But things didn’t go as planned.
I got myself into 4 houses and the market was hot. I was spending too much and the rents were still suppressed in the areas I was trying to buy in. At the time it was said, you “couldn’t lose” in real estate. I found out the hard way that you could. 2 foreclosures, loss of earnest funds for one property and loss of deposit on another ($72,000)…. Still freakin’ turns my stomach.
The bottom line was it was all followed by bankruptcy, divorce, alimony…. sounds like country song.
That’s not what’s important. What’s important is that I found a mentor to help me pull myself out of the mental hole I was in and get on the right track building digital properties for local businesses. He helped me get to my goal of slaying my job and owning my own business, working from home.
Before I get back to Nate, check out this video by my mentor James. I will also put some case studies below that.
A Look at the birth of Calhoun Ventures
How did Armstrong develop Calhoun Ventures?
He had been working a 50-60-hour/week day job at Target while doing real estate investment activities on weekends. It was a tough start, since he was learning the real estate business from scratch and trying to do it alone.
Armstrong made some mistakes early on. He tells the story of a contractor who asked for $5,000 up front for supplies and labor. Armstrong gave him a check, and the guy promptly disappeared with the money and didn’t come back. Lesson learned.
Despite the hard knocks, Armstrong kept going, convinced that there was a future for him in real estate.
He attended real-estate investor club meetings, found people who knew the business, developed relationships with them, and took some training classes.
Eventually he was ready to leave his day job and go full-time into real estate. When he told his boss what he planned to do, the boss said, “I hate to see you go, but if you have to, is there a way I can do this [real estate investing] with you?”
And just like that, Armstrong had his first private lender. (His advice is: watch for people who are interested in what you’re doing. Figure out a way to partner with them, leveraging their resources with your time.)
Armstrong’s Real Estate Methods
Today, he buys 40 homes per month.
Process, process, process!
For investors starting out, he urges three actions:
1) Surround yourself with knowledgeable people;
2) Establish processes and standard scopes of work; and
3) Get capital.
Armstrong uses McDonald’s as an example of an enterprise that has nailed its processes. Any McDonald’s restaurant that you visit will serve the same kind of food, the same way, with the same quality. It may not always be the best quality, but nevertheless, McDonald’s sells more hamburgers than any other fast food chain, and it’s because its processes are efficient and consistent.
Take that model and incorporate it into your real estate projects, he recommends. Success is about finding out what process works well for you, and then sticking with it.
Armstrong’s company has three three-person crews in Minneapolis, six crews in Kansas City, and ten crews in Davenport. The same processes and materials are used in every project. This kind of streamlining enables Armstrong to purchase, rehab, and rent or sell 40 homes per month.
Do whatever it takes
The interview closes with a funny and important story. Armstrong tells of a situation involving one of his properties near Ferguson, Missouri, at the time when tensions ran high. The unrest had kept progress from going forward on the property for three months, because local government offices were not issuing permits.
Finally Armstrong himself drove down from Minneapolis, entered the permit office, and demanded to talk to the mayor. The police were called, and as they were about to arrest him, Armstrong said, “I’m not trying to cause trouble. I just really need to get my occupancy permit.”
One of the officers said, “Really? That’s it? Hey, just write a letter and I’ll take it to the mayor right now.” Five minutes later, the mayor herself called Armstrong and said, “Go ahead, sweetie, you can have your occupancy permit.”
Armstrong tells this story to illustrate one of his two best pieces of advice:
Push through. Sometimes you just have to step up to the plate and do whatever it takes to get the job done.
(What’s the second best piece of advice? Stay process oriented. Stick to the process that works for you. Document it, master it, stick to it.)
Real Estate Gold Rush Book Critique
Armstrong does not offer seminars, home courses, or training packages on his website like many of his real estate investor counterparts, and neither does he have a slew of books to his credit.
He has written one book, however, just released in October 2015.
It’s available on Amazon as a Kindle edition (for .99c!), titled Real Estate Gold Rush: Exposing the Hidden Income Streams of Turnkeys Without Using a Dime of Your Own.
The book covers topics such as where to start, what a turnkey property provider is, about buying, about rehabbing, property management and portfolio management, financing, how to get paid, and the “25-month million-dollar plan.”
The introduction has some good definitions of a turnkey real estate provider: a regular person who bundles their services to create income streams for themselves and their investors by providing all services, from sourcing deals to renovating to managing assets long-term.
In other words, a turnkey real estate provider finds good deals on properties, buys them, fixes them up, rents them, and manages them—all for the investor who owns the property.
All reviews of the book to date are positive.
Six reviews were written within a week of the book release, and this to me is a little suspect (i.e. were they friends?), but maybe that’s my natural skepticism coming into play.
The forward to the book contains language that smacks of hype, which is inconsistent with Armstrong’s persona in the interview.
In that context he seemed low-key and genuine. Statements in the book seem like they’re written by a different man, however:
“I promise you that after reading this book and implementing the principles I’m teaching, you will keep more or perhaps ALL of your cash in your pocket. . . . As a bonus, I’m going to show you how you can make an extra $1,000,000 in 25 months.
The tone of that is different from the tone of Calhoun Ventures’ website, which is clean, well-written, and professional, without a whiff of hype. Who knows, maybe the book publishers felt that the book needed to be revved up a bit, but it’s unfortunate.
It doesn’t match the rest of Armstrong’s image, at least as it comes across in his website.
In the End
Relative to some of the other real estate investment gurus out there (think Jay Decima), Armstrong is a fairly new kid on the block. He’s new enough that he’s still focused on growing his own business rather than trodding the speaking circuit and producing expensive training materials for sale to a eager new investors.
That may be coming down the pike, but for now he’s still just an investor that is doing very well and aiming higher.