Welcome to the Accelerated Investor podcast with Josh Cantwell. If you’re looking to retire early with forever passive income, you’re in the right place. This podcast is the go-to destination for real estate investors, both active and passive. And multifamily apartment investors, both new, intermediate and advanced. Now sit back, listen, learn and accelerate your business, your life and your investing with the Accelerated Real Estate Investor podcast.
Josh: Hey, welcome back to Accelerated Real estate Investor with Josh Cantwell. Well, I have a special treat for you today. Today, I am interviewing Joe Bramante. Joe is the CEO of TriArcReal Estate Partners. And the best part about Joe’s day is showing investors how to create more time to enjoy life by building passive income streams so they can fund their vacations and accelerate their retirement. Joe’s primary metric that he runs his business by and he measures, is his ability to help other people achieve early retirement. Joe is a former executive at ExxonMobil and now his multifamily investment group has a stated goal of acquiring over twenty thousand units of multifamily apartments over the next 10 years. In this interview with Joe Bramante, you’re also going to hear on how Joe went from completely botching his first deal, where he got fired from his job at ExxonMobil, where he came home from his place of work, he was actually working in Papua New Guinea to buying his first real estate property, losing money on it, discovering it had asbestos, discovering he was fraudulently sold the wrong type of insurance, and how Joe has been able to take that deal.
Josh: And now he’s working on his thirteenth real estate multifamily syndication. So in this episode, you’re also going to learn, number one, how Joe took his very first deal, which was an absolute loser and is now converting that space into a 17 story high rise apartment building. Number two, you’re going to hear the importance of Joe’s broker network to find deals. Number three, you’re going to see how Joe did his first deal with no money down. Number four, you’re going to hear the difference between the syndication model and the family office model and how Joe went from doing deals with his own money to syndicating deals so he could do deals with none of his own money to now moving into relationships with family offices that fund all of his down payment and all of his equity. And finally, number five, you’re going to hear the importance of what Joe calls traction EOS the traction entrepreneur operating system that was started and founded by the author of the book Traction. So I hope you enjoy this interview on the accelerated real estate investor podcast with Joseph Bramante.
Josh: So, hey, Joe, listen, I’m so excited to have you on Accelerated Investor, and as we were getting kind of prepared for this, talked a little bit about the Houston market. I know you’re in Houston. We just bought a portfolio in Houston, so I’m excited about that. So welcome to the show. And I’m curious to see kind of what you’re working on right now in your own business that you’re most excited about what kind of gets you up and gets you going in the morning.
Joseph: Yeah. So the first things to have me on the show, it’s good to as I mentioned earlier, it’s been a while since I’ve done a podcast and super busy in the year crunch. We actually closed we just closed the deal as well. And there’s a small deal is only seventy-eight units. But as the first deal that we purposefully bought with the intention of tearing it down to redevelop. So we’re kind of it gets me excited in the morning is we’re transitioning more and more into new development. And as we get more and more direction, deals start coming to you. And it’s it’s just a different it’s a different mix, you know, different feeling for putting deals together and development side still excited about my acquisition business. We’re still staying busy. But it’s super tough right now to find good deals and the pricing in the markets. That’s a good time to be a seller, I’ll tell you that.
Josh: Yeah. Yeah, you bet. So walk me through let’s go back to only a little bit on that deal. What did you see in the existing property that you liked about tearing it down? And what did you not like about the property that you decided it was better tearing it down than keeping it as is?
Joseph: Well, the density was super low. It’s only seventy-eight units and it’s set on five acres of land. So, yeah, it was it was brought to us because we’re known for doing large value ads. We’ve done three value ads that are over thirty thousand a door. So we’ve got quite a bit of experience doing renovations. We’ve got a thirty-seven thousand per door renovation across two hundred and twenty units going on literally across the street from that property. So we were very familiar with what’s possible in that market. It’s in Carnotes. And so the broker came to us first and they said, hey, we know you own the property next door. We know that you want to do you do value add. And they thought that need needed value it. And we agreed that it did need a value add except this value add was to tear it down and build it anew because, you know, we looked at the price per square foot that we’re buying on the total land basis. We were at thirty, thirty bucks a foot. And so that’s, that’s kind of development territory.
Joseph: The risk you run on doing renovations is if you increase your cost basis too much, if we would have gone the other route, which would have been our kind of our natural tendency to just do a big renovation, maybe spend fifteen, twenty thousand per door renovating this property to the extreme, then our basis would have been so much more expensive and we would have never been able to tear it down. And so it’s just that was the decision for us was, OK, do we go this route and we do this big renovation or do we do this other route which is don’t touch it, keep the cost bases as low as possible while we develop our plans to tear it down and go and go vertical with it. So we went that lateral. We did a quick analysis. We figure out that we can put about three hundred fifty to 400 units on top of that site by working with different architects, doing a project and go with a rap design or five floors. But we’ve I only knew about that because we’ve been transitioning more and more into new development. Started back in twenty sixteen. And it’s definitely a challenging industry. It’s one of those that there is no kind of step one, step two, step three kind of career path or kind of guide for developing a property. Right. That’s an iterative process and that’s what makes it really challenging.
Josh: Yeah. There’s no playbook or guidelines really for new development. It’s kind of got a clean slate to start with and do what almost whatever you like. Got to make the economics work, though, right? I love the fact that when I read your bio and we were kind of getting ready for this, do you have a stated goal of owning twenty thousand units over the next ten years? I love the fact you put that in writing. So I just want to acknowledge you for that and say that most people don’t do that because I think they’re afraid to put it out to the world. What do you think it’ll take to get to twenty thousand units over the next ten years? What do you think some of the critical components are?
Joseph: really great people. That’s what’s going to take the equity is there. It’s not an issue about equity. It’s just getting really great people behind you. We’ve got covid finally kind of behind us. Everybody’s getting back into the office. We’ve got inturn starting next week and the rest of our teams are coming back. And so we’re going to be really putting into second gear to go after this is goal. Yeah, it’s all about the people you can and also systematizing as much as you can with us. We’ve gotten our modeling down to where it’s a rigid model, it’s got every input we feel it needs to have and we get really consistent results with it, which is one of the big challenges. You’ve got to get yourself to a point where you can consistently get results with your models and your underwriting. And there’s as little ambiguity and as little kind of room for subjective analysis on your deal as it needs to be as kind of cut and dry as you can get it. And we’ve gotten ourselves to that point. And so now we feel like we’ve got the quote unquote software and we’ve got the systems in place. And now it’s just a matter of filling out the roster and finding the good deals and just executing the.
Josh: I love the fact that you said there’s all those pieces. Right. That they’ve got to get right. But the first thing you said was people help me understand, how do you select and evaluate the people that you work with? A lot of people have maybe a silver bullet, some sort of test that they give or some questions they ask in an interview. How do you know when you’re sitting with somebody that it’s the right person for the job? It could be property manager. It could be somebody on the CapEx team, somebody in acquisitions. Maybe it’s an underwriter or maybe somebody that’s helping raise equity. There’s a lot of different seats, as we all know, on the commercial bus. But getting the right people is so critical. I’m so happy that that was your answer because I’m in lockstep with you. Are there any hacks or silver bullets that you use to pick and select the right people?
Joseph:Persistence. You know, I think I’m looking for somebody who is going to be persistent in their pursuit of the job. This is as you know, you have a lot you need to have a lot of patience in this industry. It’s weird, right? Sometimes things have been very, very slow and other times it happened very, very fast. And they seem to
Josh: all happen at once.
Joseph: Exactly. And so a lot of times, especially what I find with this newer generation, is they don’t have that persistence in that patience. And they’ll take that first. No. Or they’ll take that first kind of roadblock you put in their way along that application process. And they’ll just kind of go off and they’ll get distracted. They’ll do something else. And so for me, if I see that persistence and also if I see just a genuine want and desire to work for our company, for TriArc and just go on that journey with us, I mean, you really can’t ask for anything more than that. And somebody who’s who wants to be part of that, that family you’re creating and go on this journey and really and really what would that ultimately do is it’s going to help build your culture because everybody is rooting for the same team here versus having a company with a bunch of individuals. And you might be like the most talented whatever at some other position. But if they’re not necessarily for Team TriArc, then maybe you don’t need to be on this bus.
Josh: There is a book that I’ve been reading, I’m almost done with it, I don’t know if you’ve heard of it. It’s called The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek. Highly recommend it. And The Infinite Game talks about companies that are built for infinity. They’re built for the long term and companies that build for that versus building for short term returns or short-term decisions to, you know, a stock price goal if it’s a publicly traded company. And one of the things you mentioned, the culture Treyarch one of the things we talk about in the book is what they call the just cause. So highly recommend, if you haven’t read it, Joe, take a look at it, but a lot of that is resonating with me right now is I do these podcasts and record and meet new people. This idea of the just cause is that it’s kind of the reason for the business being and doing what it does the mission. But really the reason, the long-term infinite reason why we’re here and I’ve been thinking to my own business like, well, what is our just cause? What’s our bigger reason other than being rich, other than having ten thousand units or twenty thousand units having an amazing culture. So if you were to think about your cause, like your just cause you’re bigger reasons, what do you think that would be for you and for your company?
Joseph:So for us, we’ve got our five main core values. We’ve got drive. You’ve got to be driven to do this and commitment because this is a it can be a grueling journey that we’re going on. Obviously, it’s going to take us 10 years to get to our first goal. And we’ve got goals after that. And then the other drives are we’ve got persistence because we want people to constantly be persistent because it’s you’re going to get told. No, a lot a lot more than you’ll get told in this industry. You’ve got to deal with a lot of deals that unfortunately don’t always work out. Your passion is really kind of a big thing for us, especially when we’re hiring. If people are passionate about the company and the position that really goes a long way and then respect to do it for us, because we’re dealing with people across, especially in this industry, across all facets of the wealth, income or wealth distribution from our residents who somewhere we can be in that workforce, housing are lower, that kind of lower median income to our investors who are at that upper echelon, the top one percent, half percent of the country. So you’ve got to be able to conduct yourself in a way that you can appear well in front of all of them and have respect for everybody involved. So those are kind of the values that we look for. Ultimate, as a company, we’re looking to be just the preeminent operator and developer in Houston for the working class. This is our home is where we want to be. And this is the profile that we want to go after.
Josh: Yeah, that’s fantastic stuff. Joe, let’s back up a little bit to your start in this business. I was reading through your bio. I was so excited to know that you’re in Houston that we’ve done a few deals in Houston. But then as I was reading through your bio, getting ready for this, your story about working for ExxonMobil, getting transferred from Houston to Papua, New Guinea, halfway around the world, and then learning about real estate and having some time learning that your coworkers learned about real estate coming back. Things didn’t exactly get off on the perfect foot for you when you got back finding that the insurance that you bought was a scam, that the property that you had bought had asbestos. Tell our listeners a little bit more about your start in real estate and how you overcame some of those initial challenges.
Joseph: You know, the biggest mistake I made when I joined, when I started it, down the real estate is the same mistake that I see a lot of people making these days. And that is just the perception of simplicity in the industry. People just think, oh, I just do these formulas. I’m going to use this model that I bought off the Internet or so-and-so gave me. We’re just going to underwrite these deals and it’s just everything’s going to work out magically and perfect. And I was the same. I self-taught myself. I read about half a dozen books that I got on Amazon and the formulas. I’m an engineer by trade, so the formulas were pretty simple and applied those formulas. And, you know, and I thought I was being fancy. I was applying some other Exxon stuff that I learned and. Right. And then plus just had that natural ego because my background was I was just, you know, it’s kind of used to winning. Top of my class in high school, top of my class in college, got the job at Exxon. They’re the largest company in the world all the time.
Joseph: And so just all those wins. And so you obviously I had a bit of an ego and but that ego got checked really quickly because as you mentioned, within the first six months of ownership on my first deal, had asbestos. We were four units into a renovation. We found out we had specialists so we couldn’t touch those units, had to send everybody home. The insurance was a fraud. The broker who sold it to us, bought it from a fraudulent company. And then on top of that, I lost my job. So I had this real big, high paying job. And then I didn’t. And so it was just one of those things. And then I was negative cash flowing on that property. So it’s a really bad time, plus the embarrassment of being let go. I didn’t tell my parents for like two years. And I remember that’s what I told my mom. I quit, of course, because that’s what everybody who gets fired tells their parents. And I remember she just said, well, can’t you just go back to him and tell me you changed your mind, that you want to work for him? Like, No, Mom, I don’t think I can.
Josh: Yeah, I fell in love with real estate and I quit. It was like, wow, not exactly. I like it. Yeah, well, you told me to quit, so you sort of lied to him for two years. How did you how did you eventually break it to them that you actually got let go?
Joseph: I mean, eventually, really, it was after the success of my first property and then I said, hey, mom, I didn’t really just say, you know, I actually got let go. And she’s like, oh, we suspected that. Yeah, it sucked. But anyway, so I’d made those mistakes. Right. I just assumed that it was super simple and went out and bought these deals and just got really lucky because I bought a fourteen cap. And luckily, as we know what happened because of history, that cap rates went down to another like five and a half, six. So really, if I held that property and did nothing to it, I would have been a huge success. But then for us to take that property and we did a huge renovation to it, a thirty-thousand-dollar renovation on my first deal and had no business doing that, to be honest. And all the mentors I had the time or tell me don’t do it to sell the property, take a loss. But I’m just stubborn like that. Didn’t want to lose money because it was my money. I was fifty-fifty. Another guy was the most money. It was my first hundred K I had ever made and I had it in my account for a few weeks and then I just dumped it into that property right away. And I’ll never forget that feeling. You know, it was a very sickening feeling that first big investment, you make your immediately questioning every decision and you’re triple checking all your underwriting. Right.
Joseph: And so anyway, that was the first deal. And we turned the whole thing around, did this big renovation. We doubled the rents to two hundred and seven percent return on the refinance. Still own it today. And now the big thing is that we’re looking at redeveloping the whole site into seventeen story high rise. So we’re excited about that, which has been my big dream from the beginning since I was a kid, is to go into high rise development. I’ve always loved buildings and I was originally supposed to be an architect and realized that that wasn’t what I wanted to do. And so I switched to civil engineering. And then after interning for a few summers at consulting firms, I realized I really didn’t see much upward mobility. I didn’t want to be behind a desk, just like cranking out AutoCAD all day. And then Exxon came to town and fortunately I was able to get a job with them. And so I did a big U-turn or fork in the road and went to oil and gas because it was a pretty substantial difference in salary. They’re going to pay me and now I’m kind of comeback full circle right now. Then I went into buying that first property and now we’re going into development and working with architects and engineers. And so it’s it’s really exciting. And as a civil engineer myself, I’ll tell you, I’m around the table, the other engineers, and they look at me like I’m still supposed to remember all this civil engineering stuff that I took ten years ago in college. Yeah. Come on, guys.
Josh: I love the fact that. This deal could be a 17-story high rise when it was originally like what looked like to be a big strikeout like swing and miss, and the fact that this that’s the launching pad for this potentially new 17 story high rise. And I think if we really just let time pass in a lot of the deals that we’ve done, the good, the bad and the ugly. Every deal has a reason as a purpose. They all have a benefit if you look for it, if you look at the negativity, look at the things you did wrong. Look the losses that you’ve had. Of course, you’re going to find losses. You’re going to find negativity if you find what’s the reason for this and be patient. I think deals reveal themselves in weird ways over time. And you’re like, man, I wish I would have never done that deal. And now all of a sudden, five years later, or in your case, the 17-story high rise like this is going to be the launching pad for the biggest goof up of my life is going to be one of my biggest wins. I think that’s fantastic. So with that in mind, Joe, what would be now that you’ve had success as a developer, you’ve had success buying multifamily, you’ve done massive unit turns, you’ve done residential, you’ve made the pivot into commercial. What is some advice that you think you would pass back to your younger former self or our listeners and our audience that you think you’d redo things that you learned along the way?
Joseph: I’ll try and put it in terms of today’s what I see going on today, and first I would just say don’t follow the crowd necessarily. I think there’s a lot of people that are just jumping on the bandwagon and they’re hearing all these great stories. I hear my story and I think, oh, wow, I can do that. I bought it 10 years ago at a 14 cap. And so people forget about the context of when these great winds are happening and things. And this industry is very time dependent because there has been fortunes made and fortunes lost depending on when things were done. And so don’t just follow the crowd, but and do your own research and do your own testing like underwriting is a big thing, a real passionate about underwriting and spent in the last 10 years perfecting our own underwriting. And it’s just one of those things that I’ve just been disappointed with, what I see out there. And people are so quick to run towards the simple, you know, basically back of the paper napkin calculations. And as I look, I used to do that 10 years ago and it would work.
Joseph: But nowadays, with how competitive things are, I mean, you just got to go to the really surgical with your underwriting. Don’t do this alone. I think a lot of people, which first I think all people are doing it, they’re partnering well. So I think that’s great. I do see a lot people partnering. I think there’s caveats that. Right. So don’t do it alone, but also don’t have 10 partners on a deal. I think there is there is a balance, right, on how you’re doing your deals, because if you have too many people, too many cooks in the kitchen, so to speak, then you’re you know, you want to get some experience. But if the experience is so diluted between 10 people, it’s kind of hard. But do partner with people who are more experienced than you. One of the best things I did was that I partner with my greatest mentor, Carrie and Deborah. They’ve been doing this for 30 years and they’ve really kind of helped steer us away from some bad deals that we would have bought otherwise. And so I just have this mentor now. We’re you know, I’m getting much, obviously much more better because for 10 years, but still 30 years experience is something that you’ll never really catch up with until you’ve done it for 30 years.
Joseph:So don’t pretend to be something you’re not. This is something I see a lot as people are out there talking about things that they really don’t know or they’re just kind of parroting something that they heard on a podcast somewhere. And if you it just the risk on this industry is that you’re dealing with people’s money. And it’s and I’ve been started from my first deal when I was taken ten-thousand-dollar checks and I’ve had some deals that we projected, some crazy is like 30 and 40 percent IRR. I’ve actually gotten a thirty on my first deal, but the other ones didn’t always pan out and they one of them was like a thirty-six and we actually got a twenty-one and but still very good. But you said thirty-six. Right. And so everybody’s like you said thirty six and you could twenty one then. So there’s, there’s just that, that learning and that growth you need. I didn’t know I was, that was my third deal that I did. So now we’re on acquisition thirteen and so you’ve got a lot of experience and so I get there’s a fake it to make it part but also just borrow more people’s money and you should definitely be as judicious as you can and do listen to others who with more experience, there’s a lot of arrogance, so to speak, in industry. There’s people who’ve got maybe large followings or whatever.
Joseph: And you know, I’ve reached out to a few operators in the past. I’m like, hey, heard you’re buying this deal. You might wanna look at this, this and this. We saw it and we’re just completely stone cold. And it didn’t you know, they ended up not buying it. I guess maybe they figured I was correct. But still, I was a little put off. I was like, hey, man, if somebody approached me who’s been doing this for five or ten more years, more than I’ve been doing it. And they generally have a valid point, I would say. I am sure I’ll check it out. So I just be humble and kind of respectful for people out there is kind of what I would advice.
Josh: Love it. Love it.So, Joe, we’ll finish what we call the fast five, this is a relatively new part of the podcast, five quick questions. Give me super-fast answers in about five to 15 seconds. So you ready for this? Let’s do it. All right. Question number one, favorite way to find deals?
Joseph: Favorite way to find deals just through our network of brokers. I mean, rarely do you go direct to buyers. So just having those great relationships and then I’m actually going to happy hour with a developer right now and we’re going to be doing some deal trading, say, hey, I want to buy your deal. You just build an exchange. Let’s build this deal together. So it’s taking that deal negotiation to that second and third level.
Josh: You starting happy hour early. Good for you.
Joseph: Or a few hours.
Josh: Yeah, got a few hours. Next question, favorite way to find money, limited partners and investors?
Joseph: You know, I enjoy going most mostly direct to the family office. We do syndication. We’re kind of transitioning out of syndication and more direct to the family office. It’s a quicker conversation. You can do a deal within an hour with somebody. You say, hey, this is my deal. You want to do it yes or no? You go over the details and facts and you have the whole deal funded right there.
Josh: Love it. Favorite book and why?
Joseph: Traction by Gena Wickman. It’s the EOS operating system. That’s how we run our company. It’s been transformative for us. We put in place we initially self-implemented the book back in twenty sixteen, then got professional implementation in twenty eighteen and yeah I just can’t say enough good things about it.
Josh: I love it. You mentioned your mentor. I was going to ask this question, your favorite mentor. So just mentioned them again. But why? Why have they been so impactful to you?
Joseph: Yeah, so she’s obviously my partner, we work day in and day out, but we’ve got it. You know, she was we’ve been through many battles together by battles, I mean acquisitions and also just the natural friction in a company with our own ideas and how we’re going to head things, which direction we’re going to go into. But just, you know, when you go through these battles and I was like that first deal I told you I was destined to lose my investment. It was just going in a very bad direction. And she was one of the only people that was on the sideline that was like, not only that, that was just like, yes, we can do it. Here’s a great plan. Like she was very instrumental in and putting an initial plan together and believing in it’s possible and then obviously executing it and what she did on that first deal and all of our deals, she’s just phenomenal. And I’m always learning from her fantastic.
Josh: Final question. What’s your and where’s your happy place?
Joseph: My happy place would be about 30 meters underwater, somewhere probably in Papua New Guinea. Scuba diving. It’s I just love it. It’s if you’re not a diver, I’d recommend you just go to an entry and intro to Diving Somewhere. And one of the I mean, besides being cool because you’re underwater and you’re floating and it’s air conditioned. Right. And you’re not sweating. But there’s also the whole, like, meditation thing. People don’t realize it. But like, when you’re actually like kind of counting your breath and listening to your breathing and your heart rate is you can hear your heart and a lot louder underwater than you could in the air. So it’s just got a really great meditative kind of vibe to it. Plus, you’re in a really cool environment floating around. I mean, it’s great. It’s my favorite thing to do.
Josh: That’s fantastic stuff. Joe, listen to our audience, I’m sure is going to love this interview. Thanks so much for being on. If any of our audience wants to connect with you, invest with you, partner with you, just learn more about you. Where can they find more information?
Joseph: Just go check us on our website, TriArcRep.com, TriArcRep.com. Also, I’m pretty active on LinkedIn so you can reach out there and. Yeah, and we’re also going to be launching a podcast here soon called the Engineering Passive Income Podcast, where we take a deep dove into the underwriting side of an engineer passive income as a passive investor in ways you can not only just multiply, we’re going to talk about all kinds of different investment avenues.
Josh: Fantastic stuff. Joe, listen, thanks so much for joining me today on Accelerated Real Estate Investor. Thanks. So, hey, I hope you enjoyed that interview with Joe, if you did go leave us a five star rating inside of Apple iTunes. And don’t forget to subscribe to both iTunes and to YouTube. So you never miss another episode of accelerated real estate investor. If you’re a passive investor looking for investment opportunities and would like to take a look at our deal flow, go register at FreelandVentures.com/passive. And if you are a real estate investor looking to take your multifamily and apartment investments to the next level, go apply for coaching at JoshCantwellCoaching.com. Thank you so much for listening to yet another episode of Accelerated Real Estate Investor. And don’t forget to subscribe. We’ll see you next time.
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Why would you tear down a property? Joseph Bramante learned quickly on his first deal why you’d have to start from scratch on a property that had no redeeming value. As the CEO of TriArc Real Estate Partners, Joseph loves helping investors create more time to enjoy life by building passive income streams that fund their vacations and retirement accounts. But his first deal nearly crushed his entrepreneurial spirit when they found undisclosed asbestos throughout the property.
Located in the Houston market, Joseph is known for doing large value-add renovations. He’s got big plans to own 20,000 units over the next ten years, and 17-story buildings will fit right into that plan. He’s got a business system in place and he’s working on finding the right people to fit on his team. As he works on an ambitious growth plan, he’s been leaning on his mentors to help him navigate the pitfalls that he started off with in his investing journey.
In this interview, we cover a lot of ground, including how he leans on his broker network to find deals, and how he did his first deal with no money down. Now he’s moving away from joint syndications into using relationships with family offices for financing. His mentors have been instrumental in steering him away from poor deals, and he’s gotten more savvy about financing as he’s matured as an investor.
Passive income can be a game changer for anyone who plans on retiring early. If you’re ready to add another stream of income to your retirement portfolio, let’s connect on Freeland Ventures.
- Joe’s got a solid system in place, but now he’s evaluating people to join his team. Hear what he looks for in a team member.
- The first mistake he made that he sees made over and over again by new investors.
- His first deal could have crushed his entrepreneurial spirit, but he’s using it to launch a 17-floor high-rise.