The Fastest Way To Build A Six Or Even… Seven Figure Real Estate EMPIRE!
We’re kicking things off in a new series called the Maverick Mastermind Exclusive featuring members of our fantastic group and hosted by my great friend, Cameron Gilmore of Mastermind Evolutions.
In this series, you’ll get insights into our members’ success stories on how they got started, what they’re working on today, and how they’ve achieved tremendous success as entrepreneurs.
Today’s guest is Constantine “Cos” Vasilatos. Constantine is President & COO of Cypress Venture Group, which invests in commercial multifamily and self-storage in Northeast Ohio. Over the last 25 years, he’s bought and sold more than 300 units in Ohio and is helping investors by purchasing distressed and foreclosed properties while delivering double-digit returns.
In this episode, you’ll hear how Cos joined the mastermind group, how he raised over a million dollars for his latest syndication, and the incredible things that happen once you have the confidence to go all-in and scale your business.
Key Takeaways with Constantine “Cos” Vasilatos
- How Constantine built his portfolio and the mistakes he made that he learned from early on.
- How Constantine rebranded, switched his mindset, and made the most of his resources to succeed in multifamily.
- The actions Cos took to become better at talking with investors about money.
- What makes community, leadership, and mentoring so valuable in real estate.
Constantine “Cos” Vasilatos Tweetables
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Cam Gilmore: Everybody, welcome back to another episode of the Accelerated Real Estate Investment Group. I am your host, Cameron Gilmore. We have a phenomenal, phenomenal person on the screen, as you can see. But before we get into a lot of the hows and the whys and his background, Constantine, please take us through a little bit about your real estate journey. Some of the pitfalls, some of the, “Man, I wish I would have known that,” and then kind of where you are today.
Constantine Vasilatos: Hi, Cam. I’m really thankful to be on today. I’m excited about talking to the group and you individually. But my journey, it started a long time ago, back in 1991 when I decided, you know what, real estate is the game for me. And the question is, how am I going to do it? Of course, everybody was on a program online and I just sunk into it, bought every program I could. And just really just got me excited about the business. It didn’t give me enough to chew into but I made it work. I figured out the business. And from that point up until about five years ago, a solo entrepreneur.
Cam Gilmore: Nice. I love that. I love that very much. So, you talked about all these gurus wanting to sell different courses, different programs. You hear all the noise out in the world. How did you find, a two-part question. how did you find Josh? And then once you found Josh, what was that vetting process like? Like, how much did you rip down this program before you say, “I’m going to actually spend my hard-earned dollars to join this group?”
Constantine Vasilatos: Yeah. I got to go back a little while. Really, it started back five years ago when I decided it’s time to stop being a solo entrepreneur and start trying to transition from single-family properties into commercial real estate. I’ve read all kinds of syndication books, I listen to all the podcast but it was really impossible for me to take that leap without knowing I need mentorship. I need to expedite my education, expedite my success. And it’s really hard to find that mentor that is wanting to do this for free. So, I signed up for other mastermind groups. I went through them. My partner and I decided we both want to get into commercial real estate. We started to start a company about five years ago, four years ago, and we were making a lot of mistakes, making offers and deals that we’re spending money on for inspections, for appraisals, for EPA, a little bit of everything. And knowing what I know now, Josh would have said, “That’s a hard pass.”
So, now we decided, you know what, we bought some properties on our own, self-storage buildings, even looking for multifamily. We need to get that roadmap and we need to look into small multifamily because there’s big ones that don’t know how to take it down yet. The small ones are way too small as we’re finding out. That’s I know now and I got an email from Josh. Somehow I got into his funnel and the pitch was, “Make big money in small multifamily.” So, it said exactly what I wanted to do. So, four or five years ago, when I started to expand my center of influence to other people in the industry locally, I went to all these meetups, I went to the masterminds, I met people, and some of these people I’m doing business with now. But full circle, I called the people that I knew that knew Josh that I did not know Josh and I asked their opinion. One is an attorney, David Streeter, that I’ve done some business with through these other groups. I go, “Hey, what’s your opinion?” He said, “My wife signed up for Josh’s program. I think it was the flip program, and it did well.” He didn’t have anything bad to say. I called another partner of mine that I’m a limited partner on a deal. I asked him about Josh. He knew Josh. He was on Josh’s podcast. And Doug Shelton. I go, “Doug, what’s your opinion?” Again, no red flags.
So, at that point, it’s like I just figure it’s another program I can sign up for. Let’s see what he has to offer. And be honest with you, this is the meat of real estate. This is where the rubber hits the road. This is the step-by-step. This is by example. We vet deals on the fly, live deals. And that’s how I learn. I learn by seeing people do and then I duplicate. And I’m 55 years old right now. I have no time to waste. I wasted 30 years figuring things out, making a lot of mistakes. I wanted to cut the mistakes out of my future.
Cam Gilmore: Oh, guys, listen. Listen, those of you on the podcast, you’re watching this live stream, watch how Constantine’s energy flips, right? It completely flips when he goes from, “Man, I was trying to find free gurus, free people to help me but then what I found was in the funnel,” shout out to the funnel team with Josh’s team, then he realized, “Man, if I’m going to take this serious, I got to be serious. I got to be serious about the business growth that I want for myself and my company and the legacy.” He talked about his legacy. Then he did the vetting. Look, you guys vet out the gurus. He called the people in the industry that knew Josh was on his podcast. A friend had been in the program and said, “What do you think?” Now, you probably call ten people and you’ll probably have 80%, 90% people who love it, and then they’ll be the one who just gives you every reason why. But he said something, he did something. The biggest thing is he took action. He took action. He said, “If we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it right,” and it is exploding. You watch him as he talks about being in the program, that energy change. He came alive as he talked about this is what I need to do and I’m going to crush it. Let me ask this question.
Constantine Vasilatos: Yeah.
Cam Gilmore: Give me two or three actionable steps that you would tell somebody, listen, if you get into this program, here’s 30 years of what I wish I would have known condensed down into this program. What are two or three actionable steps that you took that helped you be successful in this program?
Constantine Vasilatos: Again, going back five years, I made that decision that I’m going to do something new. I’m going to go into multifamily, and for a year-and-a-half, I was in search of. So, my mindset was already switched. I was going to multifamily. I’m not doing any singles anymore and that really was the job. But then once I jumped into the program, now we have actionable things I can do step by step. And we raised $1.2 million for our last syndication without knowing how this is working, I could not have done that. And asking for money, that’s something that it’s kind of awkward. But Josh has mentioned that, you know, your top 100 list. So, I had more than 100. So, my partner, Bruce and I, we pulled out about 400 people out of our phone and then we started interacting with them on deals that are coming up and telling them what we’re doing and how we’re doing it and to see who was interested. That was one thing. And of course, rebranding, I was branding myself. I thought I was rebranding myself from a single family to a multifamily guy but seeing what Josh is doing, I’ve really rebranded myself in all social media, all my Facebook, all my LinkedIn. Now, this is who I am. This is my brand. And branding and building that credibility. So, that was another thing.
So, again, back to use resource that you have at my disposal, rebranding myself on how I want to be seen to the general public and to people that I know. So, there’s no question that when they see me, they know what I do. And then, of course, back to underwriting. He’s not back, well, jump into underwriting. That’s like the key in this business. And he’s showing us how to underwrite deals and I didn’t have the confidence on whether a deal is good or bad. It has some rule of thumbs. But in this program, I really found out exactly how to underwrite a deal. And that took the question in my mind whether is this something I’m going to push hard forward or am I going to pull back? I know whether I’m in or out at that point and in this system, the actual thing is getting the – you told us how to get the offer memorandums from the realtors, how to build relationships from the realtors, how to build up a credibility kit using his template. I just took my history and I plot it in there. So, now when I’m talking to a realtor, I give them that credibility kit along with my offering memorandum or my letter of intent.
So, those steps, I mean, there’s a lot of steps. I can go into tons of them but really it was refocus how I look at my life and where my future is and think a whole lot bigger than I am. I was looking at small deals. Now, I’m looking at 100 unit deals to 50 unit deals that I spent $10,000 trying to vet and underwrite everything else and inspections. Knowing now that if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t even attempt to do that and spent all that time wasting time on that deal, where I now own a 66-unit property. It’s taking about the same amount of time but now I’m hiring professionals. So, I can go on but I don’t want to take up too much time.
Cam Gilmore: Guys, listen to what he’s saying. Confidence builds confidence. Sometimes you have to link into people, right? Sometimes you have to link into somebody and extrapolate their confidence to become your confidence until you’re able to stand on your own two feet. If you didn’t catch it, go back and re-listen to that beautiful, beautiful little segment that Constantine took us through on how we gain that confidence about talking to people about the elephant in the room, you know, money. Everybody’s always talking about trying to gain money, raise capital. What did he do? He built the confidence because Josh showed him the confidence. Let me ask you this question.
Constantine Vasilatos: Yeah.
Cam Gilmore: How does the leadership in this program, how has it helped you through this mastermind? You talked a little bit about more but I love for you to touch a little bit more on the leadership in this program because that’s big. Just because you buy into something doesn’t mean that you’re going to get that help all the time. A lot of programs, so you come into it you’re like, “Man, I’ve tried to figure this out by my own.” You’ve said it multiple times, you’ve watched, you’ve learned, and you’ve listened. How has the leadership in this program helped you gain confidence, better deals, and better understanding how to strategically put it together to where you need it when you put the foot down to go after something, it’s the right decision?
Constantine Vasilatos: The beauty of this program, the wisdom, I can’t say enough about it. I mean, I’m not a spring chicken. I’ve been around the block a few times. I’ve seen a lot of programs. I can’t say this with more strength. Josh is a genius. The guy is just a freaking genius. And when we’re watching him underwrite live deals, we’re seeing his mind, his progress on how he underwrites, how he analyzes, how he does the spreadsheets, how he finds the cops, what he looks at, how he works with the lenders, how he breaks up a deal into a general partner, limited partner pieces, and how you sell those. Literally, we’re in his mind while he’s doing this. And we’re bringing deals to the table and he’s vetting our deals. So, it’s great to have a professional that’s doing it on a very high scale underwrite a deal that you might have some questions about. So, you’re not waiting to find that one book or find that one course or find that one website to give you that answer, getting it fairly quickly. He’s a busy guy. He’s got a lot of units and we could set up an appointment and we could talk to him about something.
But by the time he gets back to us, usually, I’ll figure it out or in our group. In our group, we have this group of professionals that from all walks of life, they’re doing all kinds of different real estate. We can call any one of our friends in our group to get their opinion on something. So, that’s the key. And I love calling up my real estate friends whenever I have a question and they might tell me or give me a perspective that I never thought about and that’s the key to the group is really the interaction with other professionals that have the same drive as you do.
Cam Gilmore: Oh, guys, that’s huge. Huge. Let me ask this question. Give us two or three points that you would give to anybody that’s looking to get into this program. You’ve heard it. I mean, if the overall theme of this is, “Don’t be an idiot, let’s get in,” right? I mean, that’s basically what he’s… I’ll say it but he won’t but I’ll say it. Stop thinking. Let’s go. But give us those that are listening, they’re kind of maybe on the fence or like, I don’t know, you hear all this guru. Give us 2 to 3 actionable points that you would say, “This is why you need this program.” We’ve already heard one. You get to study the mind of a professional. I love to hear the other parts.
Constantine Vasilatos: Most people are in this muck of spinning their wheels. They’re trying. They know where they want to be but they have no idea how to get there. They’re just trial and error, trial and error, trial and error. Take out the error and just you’re doing it. And what he did, I literally took his words and made them my words and that’s how I pitched my deal. And I just took his pitch to his investors, his PowerPoint. I put in my information. I literally scripted it for what exactly Josh said and that was my pitch. So, I don’t have to invent the wheel again. So, 30 years of doing stuff, I’ve been successful, but not nearly where I’m at right now in five years just because I’ve cut out the questions on, “Am I doing this right?” And this really helps fast forward my success. My partner’s a little older than I am. We don’t have time to waste. And you got to pay the play in life and you might get that old man that’s been doing it 20, 30 years and might tell you what he did. He’s got a life.
You know, we’re paying Josh and his system. We’re in this. We’re seeing him twice a week on the Zoom calls. And as much as I’ve known this business, I get something out of every single Zoom call. And every time is like, “Wow, I didn’t know that.” And I’m on a movie and I’m on regular. I didn’t know that. Really? Oh, that’s how that works. Oh, I can do this. And this group of people that we’re in, we get together with them and they’re our friends now and we want to do deals together. So, I just got a call from our friend from California. He said he was in Venice. I’m thinking Venice Beach, actually in Venice, Italy on a train and he said, “Hey, Cos, you see this 300 unit in your backyard?” I go, “No, I didn’t.” “Are you offering them?” I’m like, “No,” and he asked me why because he wants to partner with me to do this deal out here. So, I’m always as I get leads to come my direction that are in Alabama or in Florida or in California or wherever else, I will send these to them because they’re my buddy in the group that they be the boots on the ground because I’m really big on making sure you trust on who is the boots on the ground and wherever that property is that you’re investing your investor’s money in.
So, I guess I get you a long answer to a lot of different steps. You know, stop spinning wheels. Fast forward your success and the mentoring group, the mentoring program with the people in the group. You know, we get together with these people. Pretty cool places. We just went to in New Orleans. That was on my bucket list and went down there for a mastermind, had a great time. We got to know each other. Some of these people actually invested in my syndication. They’re in different aspects of their investing career. Some are on the back end where they just want to partner up and they want to invest some of their money. Or other people are like, I want my first deal. So, they get people all across the board. So, it’s nice getting that perspective and building these relationships with these people.
Cam Gilmore: Oh, guys, listen to this. Listen to what he said. You heard all the cliche sayings, right? The birds of the same feather flock together, right? Come on. You know, all ships rise with the tide. Constantine’s telling you take action now and you, if your circle of influence, if you’re the smartest person in the circle, you need a better circle. Constantine is now in his better circle and he’s bringing in deals that he’s never thought of, he’s never dreamed of. Thirty-one years he’s been in the business. Think about this, 31 years he’s been in this business and he just said he’s learning something new every time he gets on these calls. That is fantastic. Constantine, before we let you go, two things. Tell us a little bit about Cypress Venture Group. Tell us about kind of where you guys are, what you’re doing. And then after that, I want to hear the top five books or podcasts besides this one that you would recommend.
Constantine Vasilatos: Yeah. Well, Cypress Venture Group right now owns self-storage and multifamily. So, we stumbled into self-storage before Josh. While we got into the group, we found another self-storage facility, so we own two self-storage facilities about 220 units and it took us about a year to figure out how to buy our latest acquisition, which was last August. So, we’re coming up on 11 months now, a 66-unit through the group, and through the center of influence. Josh, he knew the broker. The broker wouldn’t really return my calls but then I tossed in, “I’m with that group,” and here we are. So, what’s the question?
Cam Gilmore: Tell us a little about, so you have two multifamily, you’re in buying storage units. What else you got going? What’s cooking on?
Constantine Vasilatos: Got you. Well, our total worth right now is about 6 million with our commercial properties. We’re bringing in about 800,000 gross revenue and the way we’re going right now is we’re looking for our next deal. So, I’m looking for another partner right now that can fill another lane that I’m wearing a lot of hats, my partner’s wearing a lot of hats. We need one more partner. So, we’re looking for that partner to come in and have to handle the CapEx on our programs so I can go find more deals. So, that’s where we’re at right now. We’re vetting deals, we’re making offers, but we’re still trying to fill the family. We’re trying to get our group together so now we can spread our responsibility and grow them faster. So, we’re just a little bogged down because we’re stabilizing our property. We’re doing what’s best for our investors. But that’s where we’re at. I’m not a big book-reading guy. I don’t have time. I’m wearing a lot of hats. I’m the breadwinner of the family. I’m running my single-family operation. We’re running our self-storage. We’re running our apartments. So, my top podcast, that’s where I was to.
And number one is Josh’s. He’s just a great interviewer and he gets people on that bring a lot of value, and I know some of these people because I work with them. They’re my attorneys, they’re my agents. So, the second podcast I listen to is the Michael Blank program, Freedom with Real Estate Investing, the Neal Bawa, and BiggerPockets. But there’s also a book. You’re going to a lot of these events. My banker invites us to a lot of entrepreneurial events. And a guy, Jay Baer, was speaking at it and he has a book out right now. It’ll come to me in a second but this is about how to spend your time. We all have 1,440 minutes in one day. The question is, how are we using those hours? And to our customers or our clients or our tenants, how can we have the best experience working with us, even my investors? How fast can we help expedite what they want? Nobody wants anybody that’s too verbose. They just want to get the facts. They want something, want it now. They’re willing to pay more money to get something now because you’re saving time, you’re saving effort.
And in the investor world, they already know me and trust me. The question is how fast can I make the money without giving them courses to read? I want to get them from point A to point B. They know me. They trust me. They are like me. Now, let’s find a deal. And I’m having my customers call me right now, all my investors asking, “Where’s the next deal? Are you buying another one, Cos?” And we’re having an investor showing of the property next month. All our investors are going to come down. I’m going to show what they invested in and then we’re going to have a gyro party at my house and break some bread and talk about new deals. But this book really, it breaks life down into 1,440 minutes in a day. What are you doing with that time and how can you help people you want to do business with maximize that time?
Cam Gilmore: If you guys don’t get excited after you listen to this one, you got to go check your heart rate because something is wrong with you. Constantine, it’s been an absolute pleasure. You can hear the momentum. I mean, you got investors calling you now asking when the next deal is. That’s a problem everybody would love to have. Guys, check out this. This has been another fantastic episode on this wonderful podcast, Accelerated Real Estate Investors, Mr. Josh Cantwell. Thank you, Constantine, for being here. Thank you for all the listeners. We’ll catch you on the next episode.
Constantine Vasilatos: Thanks, Cam.