Commercial real estate is very different from residential real estate. Craig Coppola is recognized as one of the best commercial real estate brokers in the United States. That is why he is my partner in commercial real estate investments, and we have done extremely well financially.
When Kim and I began our transition from residential to commercial real estate, the first thing we had to do was let go of a residential real estate investor's mindset. We had to see real estate investing through a different set of eyes. If not for Craig's experience, Kim and I might have lost a lot of money paying for our commercial real estate education. Craig is great because he is a tremendous teacher and takes the time to explain what we fail to see.
As an example, Craig's education of Kim and me began with our interest in a beautiful office building in a great location. It was a cute structure, built in the 1980s. The first thing Craig said was that there was not enough parking. He did not even look at the building. Since the 1980s, zoning laws had been passed requiring more parking spaces. If we wanted to improve the building, we would have to tear it down completely and rebuild from the ground up to comply with the new zoning law. The second lesson from Craig on the same building was that "Cute buildings attract cute businesses."He went on to say, "Rent to well-run businesses, not cute people running cute businesses. You'll have fewer headaches and earn more money."
Craig is the most well-organized person I know. He has his days planned to the minute. He is constantly studying and investing in his personal development—his business—yet time with his family takes the highest priority. Craig is a great family man and natural teacher, and he is priceless as a real estate partner.
People who know me know that when I commit to doing something I generally jump in with both feet. And that is probably an understatement. It's not that I'm foolhardy about it; people would say I'm methodical and possibly relentless. I don't make rash decisions, and I don't give up. That's the way I approach my business goals, my personal goals, and my family goals. People would also say I'm consistent.
One of my passions in life has been baseball. I was an all-state high school and all-conference college player, and I was even drafted and played professionally with the Minnesota Twins organization. But after baseball, I knew I needed something that I could throw myself into 100 percent, something that I would love just as much and that would help me achieve my life goals.
Like so many people, my story of how I entered the real estate profession is a classic friend-of-a-friend story. I won't bore you with the details, but suffice it to say I did my share of dues paying. I didn't mind. My mentality then was no different than it is now and no different than it was playing baseball: Everything I do makes me stronger, smarter, and faster and gives me the only thing I ever ask for in life—an unfair advantage.
Yes, I want an unfair advantage and I do what it takes to get it—ethically. Getting the unfair advantage ethically usually means no shortcuts, lots of homework, discipline, and sacrifice. At least that is how it has been for me. When it pays off, those long days and longer nights of poring over real estate offering Memorandums, market comparables, and property financial data become distant memories that are replaced with cash, which flows into my mailbox on a monthly basis. It's a beautiful thing.
My career in real estate has afforded me spare time to do other things that I love; that was part of my plan when I got into this business. I wanted to be able to spend more time with my family, participate in my kids' lives, and pursue other passions in life such as running, Tai Kwon Do, and of course, baseball.
Today my passion for baseball takes the form of coaching a youth club baseball team—the Arcadia Rat Pack—and I approached that in much the same way I've approached everything else I've set out to do: with a startling amount of research, analysis, planning, and detail all in preparation for intense action. I'm not coaching a pro sports team, but regardless, I had batting lineups (based on who from the opposing team was pitching), training schedules, practice schedules, scouting reports, game strategies, substitution plans, even a plan for who was going to coach first base. Some of the parents, I'm sure, thought I was going a little overboard.
But to me "going overboard" was simply preparing the team to face every challenge in practice so that when those same situations came up in a game, they weren't new. I wanted to give those kids the unfair advantage, ethically. In essence, my role was to put those kids in a position to win.
That included mastering our universe and knowing the lay of the land. What teams were we going to be up against? What were their strengths and their weaknesses? How could we exploit those weaknesses and overcome their strengths? What do we do in a first-and-third situation? What's our bunt defense? How do we handle a "run down"? We studied, strategized, and practiced all this and more. We made it all the way to the state finals and were state runner-ups— that was victory to us. Sixteen wins and three losses. The team played great and came away with better and more confident kids. I want the same for you when it comes to commercial real estate investing. I want you to win! I want you to be the master of your universe before you even think about investing in property.
TIP In real estate, mastering your universe takes the form of knowing intimately your chosen area of city or town, fully understanding and enjoying your preferred type of real estate investment (also known as "asset class"), and being tuned in to the real estate cycle.
In real estate, mastering your universe takes the form of knowing intimately your chosen area of city or town, fully understanding and enjoying your preferred type of real estate investment (also known as "asset class"), and being tuned in to the real estate cycle. Once you've achieved all this, you are in a great position to begin considering properties. Here's your first pitch:
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