Religion in itself presents a huge network of followers. Blending it positively with entrepreneurship opens a promising world of success and altruism. In this episode, Lisa Hylton talks to Ellis Hammond, the Founder of Kingdom Capitalists, the #1 mastermind community for Christian real estate entrepreneurs. They explore the cross-section of faith and real estate entrepreneurship and the importance of finding your niche. Ellis’ story illustrates a willingness to grow and a desire to impact the lives of the people around him in a powerful way. Listen to Ellis as he talks about the power of masterminds and how it has impacted him to teach others how to become successful investors.
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Exploring The Cross Section Of Faith And Real Estate Entrepreneurship With Ellis Hammond
I’m super excited to bring in another amazing episode with another real estate investor who is leveling up and is going to provide you with tons of good information to level up in your real estate investing game. My guest is Ellis Hammond. His investing journey began when he was still a full-time college pastor. His goal was to create more passive cashflow for his family but soon realized that real estate was an incredible asset that he could begin to leverage to help others achieve financial freedom. He started with a duplex in San Diego in 2018 and nine months later, partnered on a 144-unit complex in Memphis, Tennessee. Ellis is the Founder of Kingdom Capitalists, the number one mastermind community for Christian real estate entrepreneurs. He also manages his own network of investors who are seeking passive investment opportunities and multifamily apartment complexes across the United States.
He is also the host of a top-rated podcast called Kingdom Capitalists. He invites other successful Christian entrepreneurs and business owners to speak about their success and help guide other faith-driven entrepreneurs in their journey to start and scale businesses for the glory of God. I discovered Ellis on Facebook. I saw his brand Kingdom Capitalists and I was like, “What is that?” I started reading more information and I was like, “This is awesome.” I listened to several of his podcasts. I was drawn to the work at which he’s doing. I’m excited to have him on for us to learn from him on how he’s built his brand, got started in real estate and the work that he is seeking to do in the world. Without further ado, let’s get started on this episode.
Ellis, welcome to the show.
Lisa, thank you so much for having me excited about your launch and this show. I know it’s going to serve a ton of people.
To get started, can you tell us about your story? Where are you from and how did you get started in real estate?
I’ll try and be brief here, but I do think it’s powerful, especially for people who are trying to figure out like, “How do I get started in real estate?” or even trying to find the meaning or the why behind why to start investing in real estate. My background is in the Christian nonprofit space. I started a ministry out in San Diego, California. I originally grew up in South Carolina but moved to San Diego. I believed in the mission of helping young people, mostly college-age students begin to find their way and understand their story. We started a nonprofit out here and it was in that journey of building this nonprofit where I remember we were a couple of years into it. We were beginning to build our team and one of those team members came to me. I was in a leadership position at this point. He said, “I’m struggling to buy groceries.”
To give your readers a little bit of a context, we were donor-funded so we raised all of our own money. We weren’t making anything. When he said that to me, a couple of things happened. I realized I couldn’t help this brother because I too didn’t have any wealth or any capital to be able to give to him. It was a switch that went on my brain where I realized that God spoke to me. I realized for the first time that I’m only stewarding half of the gifts that I’ve been given. That I was making an impact with my time, which is great, which is awesome but there’s this other gift of capital, of money, of resources that I knew I could create and build. I didn’t have it at the time. I was like, “I’ve got to get more serious about stewarding that other half of my impact.” That’s how I started getting into real estate and doing large syndication deals, which is what we do now.
What was your first property?
Our first property was a duplex and I got obsessed. I love this podcast. That’s why I almost agree to every podcast show I listen to because podcasts helped me get to where I am now. Everywhere I went, I was listening to something. I would come home and my wife had another podcast and my guess is it’s the tenth one. There’s much free content out there online and giving it away, laying out, how to get started in this industry. I got obsessed. One of the tips I learned on that show was to go and find a mentor. Long story short, I found a mentor. He helped us find this deal, looked at it and make sure it was a good property. I ran the numbers and that convinced my wife and she said, “Let’s do it. I think this is it. We got to get started.” That first deal is the hardest. We jumped in and that was our first deal. I love to talk about the second deal because we went from 2 units to 144 units.
How did that happen?
We had bought that duplex right before that young man I was telling you about came to me. We had already been in this real estate thing a little bit. When he said that, what also happened was I realized I was thinking way too small and that we were never going to be able to make the type of impact we wanted to make buying a duplex at a time. It wasn’t going to be scalable enough, especially here in San Diego, California. It’s so capital intensive to be able to buy a property. My background was in the Christian nonprofit world. I had been raising funds for our ministry for several years. I have raised a couple of hundred grand, and I don’t know but God’s gracious hand, he introduced me to someone who was in the world of syndications. Essentially, you’re pooling together resources, expertise, and funds to do larger deals that you might not be able to do on your own.
He showed me how I can begin to leverage my skill of fundraising in partnering with other experts in the real estate industry who needed more capital for their deals. I could begin to leverage my network and my skill of fundraising to get into the world of syndication. That’s what we did. We found a partner that we trusted and liked. I came to him and said, “I think we could put together this much capital for this next deal. I would like to help. I’m pretty good at marketing. I can do sales and I have this network of investors, let’s a partner together.” He said, “Let’s see what you can do.” He was gracious to bring us on board. In nine months, we did our first deal, which was 144 units, a $9.5 million project.
That was in Memphis, Tennessee. It’s another cashflowing state.
That’s what we believe in. We want to create cashflow, we want to create financial independence from me and my investors. We have the time component as well that we have both. We have the time and the money component to create an impact. That’s our goal.
From your experiences so far, what would you say are some of the lessons that you’ve learned?
The two biggest ones find a mentor and find a community. Nothing is going to take you further and faster than those two things. Finding a mentor, someone who’s already done or is already at where you want to be at and is still actively doing it. Find a community to plug into. Typically, you have to pay for this. You might get lucky and get it for free. My first mentor was free, but my 2nd and 3rd mentors were not free. I paid for them. The communities, the conferences, that’s how you build community. You go to conferences, you find mastermind groups. That would be the biggest lesson that I’m doubling down on now and I would say, don’t delay that.
Expanding on that, one of the things I wanted to talk to you about is the power of masterminds because I know that you have a mastermind down there in San Diego. I wanted to ask you to share how masterminds have impacted you and why you continue to create your own as well?
I would not be where I am, in any area of my life, in my faith, in my finances and my business without relationships, without other people to help me advance those goals. That’s the mastermind principle is that two minds are better than one mind. When you put two minds together the quote is that a third mind is formed, that new ideas and new possibilities can happen. I spent thousands of dollars investing in my network in 2019. I’ll spend thousands of dollars more in 2020. We started a mastermind. The Kingdom Capitalists is the name of our mastermind that serves established Christian real estate entrepreneurs. We believe that we come together and we can share ideas and we can share resources, deals, and capital. We can have a massive impact together much more than we could alone. That’s the whole idea of a Mastermind. I invested in a lot before I started my own. Now, I started my own because I’ve seen what works, I’ve seen what didn’t and I know we can provide massive value to everyone who’s a part of it.The first deal is the hardest. Click To Tweet
That leads me to another question that intrigued me about you. I remember when I ran across your profile on Facebook and I saw Kingdom Capitalists and I read more, I was like, “A Christian man, who’s also into real estate investing and building wealth.” I don’t know about you, but for me, I don’t feel as though I see that a lot in the Christian space. I want you to share how you navigate it.
It’s almost the hesitation of your question, which is why it doesn’t get talked about enough. You’re hesitant to even ask about it. Most people are completely fearful to even talk about money and wealth-building alongside faith and religion. Part of that is because there have been some loud voices and some negative stigmas around this that have not been always stewarded well. That doesn’t mean we should run away from it because there is no endeavor in general that doesn’t happen without an infusive capital. Our mission, building our ministry out here in San Diego, California, did not happen without the help of entrepreneurs and business owners who had brought value to the marketplace and people were willing to pay for that value so that they got rewarded. Without them doing that, we would have never been able to build our team and create our impact here in San Diego, California. I have a podcast show Kingdom Capitalists and the whole point is to interview Christian entrepreneurs and business owners because I want to get this message to the world. The way to create impact doesn’t just come behind the pulpit.
I believe moving forward into 2020, into the next two decades, where we’re going to create impact and reach the world isn’t inside the church. It’s going to be in the business. It’s going to be in the marketplace where we can show the rest of the world what it looks like to build businesses that glorify God and bring value to the marketplace. That helps people and that we’re stewarding our capital in a way that is honoring God and everybody else. I am unashamed about the message of Kingdom Capitalists. My wife gets on me all the time, she’s like, “Why did you have to name it that?” That’s our real heart.
Embedded in that is a lot of your why, which comes across to me. There’s someone else that I’ve followed on social media that says a lot, which is “When good people have money, they do good things.” A lot of that is you want to be able to be in a position where you can help people. If the people who have good hearts are in those positions, they will do that.
Money never changed anybody. It only amplifies who you are. If you are changed by grace before you have money and God gives you those resources to amplify that, then it will bring out who you are. If you’re not a good person, then that’ll come out as well. It amplifies who you already are.
I want to get into my advice round. You mentioned that you are married because you said that you ran by your wife some of the topics of your podcast or your brand as well. I wanted to ask you about the advice you’d give to people who are building a real estate brand and business with their significant other. How do you navigate it together?
My wife isn’t necessarily part of the day-to-day of our real estate activity anymore. My wife is a mental health therapist here in San Diego, but early on when we started our first project, she was definitely in that. I would say because I do talk to a lot of husbands. They see the power of investing in real estate and they’re ready to get started, but their wife is not quite on board or quite doesn’t understand what they’re doing. The best thing I can say is to be patient and be gracious. If it’s possible to get your significant other into the same circles of influence or same circles that you’re in, that’s helpful. What I recognize is that I was listening to hours of content. I was going to these Meetups, I was getting all of this information. I was excited and then I would try and come home while we’re lying in bed 30 minutes beforehand and try and dump it all on her and expecting her to share the same emotion.
That was never going to happen. Be patient and never ever say that you’re going to make this big move or transition after 10:00 PM when you’re already lying in bed. It will not go well. If it’s possible to bring your family world in this world of real estate together, bringing your significant other to conferences or Meetups, that is huge so that you’re on the same page because the value is there. This real estate investing can change your life. It is a fun thing to do with your spouse. I recommend a couple that I love to death and they’re doing an incredible job of this is Mark Kenney and his wife with Think Multifamily. They were guests on our podcast as well. They have built an incredible community and brand and it is centered on family and I love that. I do think it’s possible, but it takes patience and knows what each other is good is at. Going to these Meetups, she can only do about a couple a month, where I could probably go to one every day.
What’s your advice for individuals interested in investing in real estate the way you do? Either at the duplex level, just starting out if people are interested in doing that or at the syndication level, which is what you are doing now.
I need to preface that question because I don’t think everybody should get started and here’s why I say that. It is because I’m a huge proponent that you should focus on your superpower. You should become a master at the thing that God has given you the resources to be able to do. If you’re already crushing it in a different space or you’re already making good money in another industry, just because real estate looks fun and it looks appealing doesn’t necessarily mean you should get into it. You might continue to stay in your lane and create the impact and make the money that you’re making there and then leverage the expertise of other people. That’s the benefit of syndication. You can invest in real estate, you can own real estate. You can take advantage of the tax benefits of real estate by investing alongside somebody else.
I do always like to preface that because I don’t think everybody should get in. It’s another job. If you don’t have time, if it’s going to take away from your superpower abilities, don’t do it. With that said, the same advice, what’s your superpower? What are you good at? The bigger real estate you look at, the more you can probably niche down with partners and get involved. If you’re good at networking, it means you probably could be a pretty good capital raiser. These deals don’t happen without private equity. If you’ve been in an industry around accredited investors, high net worth individuals and you’ve built relational trust with these folks, you may also be a good capital raiser because you know people with money.When you put two minds together, a third mind is formed and new ideas and new possibilities can happen. Click To Tweet
If you’re a more of the COO type, analytical mind, that’s a great skill to come alongside a capital raiser like myself. I’m not a CEO/COO. Finding off-market deals, one of my partners is incredible. We’re using virtual assistants in the Philippines to begin to create off-market leads for us in the Phoenix, Arizona market. He’s good at creating a system that we can begin to follow up with leads so that we’re beginning to talk with sellers. When I saw that, I’m like, “That’s a great idea.” I would probably never execute on it because it’s just an idea for me but he is an executor. If you know that too, then do that.
If you’re good at finances or underwriting, come alongside folks who need help underwriting deals. It is the same advice. What are you exceptionally good at? What can you begin to leverage? Plug into a community and find a mentor who maybe can introduce you to communities that you can begin to figure out, “Who do I want to partner with? Where can I begin to leverage my skills?” If you’re getting started, you need to get in. You need and you want to be in this space. Go to conferences, listen to podcasts but begin to think, “What role do I specifically want to play within this industry?” Realize the bigger you play, the more ability you can probably use that gift.
If you start small single-family duplex, you’re going to be doing everything and you’re going to get slowed down. I want to help people create a massive impact. I’m always like, “Go bigger, think bigger.” If you’re thinking 15 units, think 45. Here’s the reality, you’re legitimately one connection away from being able to do 45 units. If you’re doing two units, you are one idea, one connection away from being able to do 15 or 30. We only have much time and especially if you’re a person of faith, you have nothing to lose. That’s my advice.
Embedded in that, you probably covered some advice that you would give to people who are interested in opening a real estate business as well. I want to still throw it out there in case you have anything additional and by the real estate business, those are people who are trying to set up a business as opposed to buying 1 or 2 properties here and there.
This is advice with anything. You have to know your niche and niche down. If you’re getting started, then you’re going to change your mind a lot. There are a lot of ways to make money in real estate. You don’t have to do multifamily because it’s a trend. There are many ways to make money in real estate. Take some time to figure out what you want to do and then get incredibly specific about how you’re going to do it and get incredibly specific about who you’re going to serve. Especially if you get to raise money for these deals, don’t try and raise money from everybody. Figure out who you’re going to work with.
I would look in the future and say, “Where do I want to be in ten years? What’s important to me? Is it cashflow? Is it you want to have some properties around your hometown?” Depending on what that is, and then work back and figure out, “That’s where I want to be. This is who I want to work with. What do I have to start doing now?” It’s all about finding a niche. There’s much noise in the marketplace that when you come out and say, “I’m doing this real estate brand or I have this podcast,” so does everybody else. What sets you apart? That’s business advice in general. You have to do what marketers call Blue Ocean, where there’s not already blood in the water. That’s for any business, but especially for real estate as well. Know who you serve and get specific on how you’re going to serve for them.
Can you share any opportunities that you have available for guests to learn more about your business, your masterminds, and your podcasts?
There are a couple of ways. If you’re interested in learning about or you liked this message, we have a podcast show as well. It’s called Kingdom Capitalists. It’s on iTunes. They can check that out. It’s a great way to hear more. I do interviews like this. I’m bringing other well-established entrepreneurs and a lot of people in the real estate industry as well, come on that show. If you’re a real estate entrepreneur already and you would like to find that community, go to KingdomCapitalists.co and you can learn more about our community, our mastermind. We have an in-person event coming up in April. We are essentially keeping it open for a few more weeks and then we’ll close it then. If we have some spots and it’s a good fit, we’d love to bring in some of your audience members, if it was a good fit on both sides. Lastly, if your audience wants to reach me on LinkedIn, I put out a ton of content. I’m very active on LinkedIn. It’s a great platform for the real estate industry. That’s a community by itself. If they reach out to me on LinkedIn, send me a connection request. Shoot me a direct message. I’d be happy to send them some resources that I have for passive investors that you can share with your investors as well. I would love to connect. Let me know that we got connected here on the show.
Thank you so much, Ellis.
Thank you for having me. This is great. I look forward to staying connected and seeing how your business grows.
That was an amazing interview with Ellis Hammond. Did I tell you I had many takeaways from chatting with him on this episode? There were a couple that stuck to me. The first was to find a mentor who’s doing what it is that you are doing. That’s one of the fastest and the best ways to learn is working alongside someone else who also does this in and out. As he said on the podcast, there are some mentors that he’s had to pay for that mentorship as well. Finding a community is also super important. Those are the masterminds and Meetup groups. These are opportunities for you to be around other people who are doing amazing things and when you’re around them, it inspires you to keep going and keep doing what you’re doing. For me, I see this even in my show. Bringing on these guests and talking to each of them about their stories and how they get started and how they continue to play. It’s inspiring and I learn a lot from them because many of them are generous with providing information and their experiences.
The other item that I loved was his advice for people who are married and they are one of the couple or maybe both who are investing in real estate. In his case, he’s investing actively in real estate and his wife isn’t. She has another career and she’s happy doing that. His advice was to be patient with your significant others and be gracious. Invite them to conferences and Meetups so they can learn about what it is that you’re doing and understand that everyone’s going to grow at a different speed. They might play a different role from you and that’s fine.
The other thing is, what I also loved is when I asked him, what advice he would give to other people wanting to get started investing in real estate? I loved the advice that he gave. He was like, “First, take a step back and say like, ‘Is investing in real estate something that you want to do? What is your superpower?’” Sometimes your superpower might be something other than real estate-related. It could be your career. Maybe it’s a different business that you’re in. Knowing that you don’t necessarily need to come out of those careers or out of those businesses to invest. You could do investing through syndications where you’re leveraging other people’s time and experience, but still getting access to investing in real estate in that way without having to pivot into real estate 100%. He gave that same advice for people who also are interested, which was that you should figure out what your superpower is and focus on your superpower.You should become a master at the thing that God has given you. Click To Tweet
If you figured that you like the idea of playing in the real estate game, in a variety of different ways, investing, etc. Figuring out what it is that you’re good at. Maybe you’re good at analytics. Maybe you’re someone who likes to do a lot of underwriting and look for deals and strategize in that way. Maybe you’re someone who’s good with people and maybe that could be a variety of everything from executing the business plan. You have experience with property management. Working with other people and I’m making sure that you are sticking onto the business plan that the property was underwritten for. Maybe it’s networking, getting out there and meeting people to raise money for your deals or to get the word out about what it is that you’re doing. There are many different ways that people can play, but it comes down to you figuring out, “What is it that I’m good at? What does inherently come naturally to you?”
He talked about niching down and that you will change your mind a lot. Take time. Get specific about who you are going to serve. The reality about real estate and why I love it personally a lot is it’s a business that enables you to serve people at a higher level and then also is able to build wealth for yourself and other people as well, which is beautiful, in the sense that you’re always serving. You’re serving as in providing housing for people to live. I rent an apartment myself and my landlords are serving in the sense that they’re serving this community by providing good quality housing. When something goes wrong, they send someone out to help fix it. That’s a part of the service that they’re providing for the rent that I’m paying. I don’t have a problem paying that rent, especially when they come out and they provide me a good place to live.
That’s the same when I go into communities to invest, I am going there and I want to be a part of my business which is providing good quality housing for the people that are there. In turn, they pay rent and I provide good quality returns to the individuals who decide to invest in these projects. It was an awesome interview. Continue to check out Ellis Hammond. He is a great guy. Kingdom Capitalists is his brand. You can also find all the information on my website, which is www.LisaHylton.com. Thank you. I wish you a beautiful day.
- Kingdom Capitalists
- Kingdom Capitalists – Podcast
- Mark Kenney – Previous episode on Kingdom Capitalists podcast
- Ellis Hammond
- The Kingdom Capitalists – mastermind
- LinkedIn – Ellis Hammond
About Ellis Hammond
Ellis Hammond’s investing journey began when he was still a full-time college pastor. His goal was to create more passive cash flow for his family but soon realized that real estate was an incredible asset that he could begin to leverage to help others achieve financial freedom.
He started with a duplex in San Diego in 2018 and nine months later partnered on a 144 unit complex in Memphis, TN.
Today, Ellis is 6He also manages his own network of investors who are seeking passive investment opportunities in multifamily apartment complexes across the U.S.
Ellis is also the host of a top-rated podcast, Kingdom Capitalists. He invites other successful Christian entrepreneurs and business owners to speak about their success and help guide other faith-driven entrepreneurs in their journey to start and scale businesses for the glory of God.