What could start as a side hustle could become your gateway to financial freedom. Sia Senior is all too familiar with this. Working as a math teacher, Sia and her husband stumbled upon doing real estate as a side hustle. Seeing the opportunities there, they transitioned to doing more—acquiring more properties, becoming a full-time real estate investor, and eventually starting their own real estate firm called Arrowhead Capital. In this episode, Sia joins Lisa Hylton to share with us her journey. She talks about how they started scaling and working through recessions and the pandemic and what lessons they learned from them. Sia then shares the difference between joint venture and syndication, what passive investing is, what it’s like working with her husband, and what she’s looking for the most when working with others. So tune in to not miss out on this jam-packed conversation!
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From Math Teacher To Achieving Financial Freedom Through Real Estate With Sia Senior
Welcome to the show, Sia. I’m super excited to have you on. We’re going to get started a little bit with your bio first. Sia is a full-time real estate investor. She started investing in real estate in 2005 while she was a high school math teacher. Her husband and herself house-hacked their 1st property, flipped 8 properties and bought properties to hold long-term for the past several years. They self-managed 20 units, which comprise single-families, as well as small multifamilies and their portfolio consists of a 16-unit acquired through a joint venture partnership and 135 units as a limited partner.
They also have their business called the Arrowhead Capital, which is a real estate firm that acquires multifamily assets in the mid-Atlantic and the Southeast. They’re committed to providing their investment partners with excellent opportunities that allow them to passively create generational wealth and enhance apartment communities for their residents. I’m super excited to have you on the show, Sia. Welcome.
Thank you, Lisa. It’s an honor to be here. I love your show.
Thank you. To get started, my show is typically broken into two parts traditionally. We’re going to get into a little bit about you and into the show and wrap up with the level of questions. A little bit about yourself, where in the United States do you and your family live?
We’re right outside DC and up in Marlboro, Maryland. We’re in the DC Metro region.
I did not know that. For some reason, I thought you lived in Virginia for the longest time but it’s close enough. What do you and your family like to do for fun?
For fun, we like to watch movies and play games. The kids have been big about Uno and they are cutthroat. Let me tell you.
You started investing in real estate in 2005. You started investing before your kids came along?The thing about the real estate market is it's hot until it's not. Click To Tweet
Yes. We were chugging along and doing a lot of good stuff before they came along. It was a lot easier. I’m not going to lie but we’ve gotten them involved in real estate with us. When we were real estate agents, they would come along. I had to bring them when they were little. To show properties, they came along. When we looked at rentals, they came along. They’re used to doing that real estate piece where they can go into a property. They’d be like, “The kitchen is too small. We could take down that wall.” They’re very good at that stuff. They’re into it. It’s exciting.
I introduced you in your bio. Can you talk a little bit about how you got started?
I started with the encouragement of my husband. We both became real estate agents right around 2003. It was because we bought our first home and we saw how easily the agent was able to make a nice pot of cash from selling properties. We saw a couple of properties. My husband was like, “We can do this.” We started as agents and did that on the side. I was teaching during the year. On weekends in the summer, I would show properties. I love looking at homes and that was fun for me to do. We would dig some listings. He was working full-time as a government contractor and IT contractor.
We did that for a while. Once we moved out of the primary residence that we lived in our first home, we decided to rent it out as we moved into the final home that we live in. We’re like, “This is cashflow coming in.” We didn’t do anything but have the tenant pay us every month. We started to pick up properties, do flips and hold on to them from that moment. That’s how we got started from happened chance. Looking for some extra money on the side and then realizing in terms of the buy and hold rental how easy that was to get money from someone who lived in the place that we lived before. That’s the beginning.
To recap there, you bought your first property, which you bought to live in. After a couple of years, you decided to buy another property, which you moved into that one and said, “We don’t want to sell this one. We want to rent it.” What was the decision right there? Some people that I know will sell the property that they’re living to maybe go into another property. I’m curious why you decided at that moment stance to keep that one and buy another?
When we bought the property that we live in, the primary residence, the rates were pretty decent. It was 2004. If you remember back then with the loans, if you were breathing, you got a loan kind of thing. We were both full-time qualified where we could purchase our permanent home. The primary residence that we had before to be able to rent it out, we can qualify easily. For us, it was a no-brainer in the sense like, “We can still keep this asset.” A lot of people sometimes have to sell their homes to be able to afford the next one because of the way that the loans and the rates were going.
We were able to purchase a new home while still having the current one because even with the incoming rent, they thought they were going to be able to get the lender. When they qualified us with our two incomes, we qualified easily. That’s what happened to a lot of people during that time, 2004, 2005, as it wasn’t hard to qualify for properties. We saw that opportunity, took advantage of it and proceeded until the market melted to pick up additional properties that way.
Let’s move right to that. We’re in 2008. At this point, you have both of the homes. Did you already start scaling and adding more to your portfolio or did you start adding more to your portfolio as a result of 2008?
I’m thinking back and I probably should have looked over a little bit more but by the time we hit 2008, we had purchased probably 3 or 4 more properties. We had at least 3 or 4 on top of the one that we had.
With the idea of having gone through several different “recessions,” a pandemic and our situation, when you look back at that time starting with that 2008 time period, what were some of the lessons and experiences that you learned from it that you seek to even bring to your experiences?
We were very fortunate as investors. I was still working. By that time, 2007, my husband had stopped working as a government contractor. He was full-time in real estate as an agent. He was able to scour and look for rentals and flips for us to do. One of the biggest lessons is we were smart enough to recognize it. Even though we had money coming in, my income as a teacher, along with everything else that comes with it, the benefits, were still necessary because we’re never sure. Since we were still in the building mode, having that constant income coming in as a cushion or support in case something happened or the market went crazy, which it did, we were still okay.
We could still live on one income even with the rentals if they happen to not pay. That was one lesson that I’m glad that we took. A lot of people decided that the market was going well, especially in the DC area. The prices were crazy. We did a lot of flips. Between DC and Baltimore, the flips that we did, we made a significant amount of money in that initial part of the time. A lot of people did and stretched themselves purchasing properties because they were so sure that they could turn and flip them. The thing about the real estate market is it’s hot until it’s not. You have to be cognizant and aware of the chance that it could always turn such that you don’t end up losing all that you’ve worked for in the years previously.
Do you still flip?
We do flip but we’re not flipping if the prices are not quite right for us. We are still trying to find them. What we have always done in terms of the flips and even the properties that we buy and hold that we purchase and hold is we always buy those properties at a discount. If we can’t get a discount for the property, that means it’s a distressed property, as an option, been foreclosed on already something like that. That’s how we purchase ours.
If we have connections with people who know someone who wants to sell their house quickly, those are different ways that we have networked and connected with people such that we’ve been able to survive both down markets because we purchased correctly. If something horrible happened like a pandemic that was random and the government said, “No one has to pay rent,” we could still survive for a couple of months without the tenants paying rent because we had to create a cushion and purchase the properties correctly.
That cushion, I’m assuming, consists of having reserves for mortgage and expenses that could come up. I find that a lot of people were trying to get started in real estate will overstretch themselves to get into properties. If emergencies come up, they don’t have any money to pay for anything. The next thing you know, you’re looking at losing the property. Can you talk a little bit about your journey from 2008 up to this point, getting into some small multi-families and growing into joint ventures and syndications?At the end of the day, pretty much all the groups provide the same thing—which is a network of people for you to connect with. Click To Tweet
Picking up our single-family rentals, we did pick up a four-unit in DC in 2006. It was right before the drop. We did our best to manage those properties and continued to flip. We partnered with a general contractor that we knew and did some flips, always purchasing either a distressed property or a property that was on auction, on sale or something like that. We grew our portfolio until we got to about 2020 when the pandemic hit.
Before then, we’d always been thinking about how do we scale this? How do we make this bigger? We could but it would take longer. Keep buying these properties at auctions and picking them up. We were looking for a way to scale quickly to get to whatever the particular target number that we wanted to get to. During the pandemic, we had some time to think about it and figure out what the options were. We connected with a mentoring multifamily group and saw ways to connect with people there.
We were introduced to the idea of the joint venture with the apartments and syndication. We spent a good year because we’re very analytical, taking our time and understanding the underwriting. We know the underwriting for a flip and buy and hold. I could do it sleeping but to be educated and informed about purchasing larger multifamilies in the sense that one is risking all of that we’ve grown. We wanted to be sure that we didn’t do that.
If we got to the point where we were comfortable with inviting other family members, friends and people that we were connected with as real estate agents before who had funds, wanting to make sure that we were educated enough to be able to know the risks besides the benefits but the risks involved with investing like that. We took a year of networking, understanding and underwriting to make sure that when we saw a deal, we knew it was a deal or whether it was not a deal.
That was great for us because I have a math background. I was excited about that. I spent the time in those models. It was great until we got to the point where we connect with people and someone brought us a deal that we had known for a while and we were like, “This is great.” We did our first joint venture at the end of 2021.
For someone reading, one of the things that I care about time and time again is how do you choose someone to go with coaching and learn this stuff with? How did you and your husband decide what programs, teachers or whomever to decide to learn with?
I’ll be honest. We did some research and probably it was more so on my husband that did the research. He had found this particular group and brought it to me. Initially, I was very skeptical about all that stuff. I was like, “No.” I blew it off and he was like, “No, seriously.” I listened to a couple of podcasts. I did my research. I did Google name the group in bad to get a feel. What I liked most about the group that we joined was that there was a lot of mindset piece to it, which is important. At the end of the day, pretty much all the groups provide the same thing.
It is a network of people for you to connect with same-like minds in terms of what they want to do and accomplish. You’ll have the same goals. It’s more a matter of what you put into the program itself. I know this years later but at the time, I didn’t know. We’ve talked and prayed about it. I did enough research and was like, “Okay.” At the end of the day, we’ve made enough risks that this is a calculated one. We can get what we can get from the program if it works out well. If not, we still have a lot of education. That was a good piece too because there was education within group meetings and things like that.
It allowed us to educate ourselves and other people, connect with them and find like-minded people with that we picked to connect that had the same values that we did. It was a great space to be able to do that. Having the pandemic made it a little bit easier too because we were all stuck at home. It wasn’t like we had to travel across the country or anything like that to meet people. It was much more available because of the pandemic, everything went online. That was more like, “These things are available,” as opposed to them being in spaces that we wouldn’t necessarily know about. It was like, “We’re here.”
You got into your first joint venture in 2021. Can we start with the difference between a joint venture and syndications for people who are like, “I’m not familiar with this other way?”
A joint venture is when a group of people gets together and they all agree to work actively in managing the asset that you pick up. Everyone puts in funds. Most people put in capital and people might put in the capital in time but we all agree that we are going to be working together to manage and operate the asset so that it performs well and that we can all flourish together financially. That’s the joint venture. Everyone has to be active in it.
With the syndication, some people like to invest but they are maybe too busy working. They enjoy their job and don’t necessarily want to leave their job. They are able to invest passively with your GP. I would be a sponsor. It’s a joint venture where people do all the work and they like, “Friend and family and people interested, you can also invest with us but you’re going to be the passive people.” Those are the limited partners that don’t do any work.
They enjoy the benefits of the real estate transaction and the asset but they put their trust and do their research and due diligence on the GP partners to make sure that those GP partners, like the JV partners, are working well and managing the asset well. The biggest piece is with that syndication, you have limited partners that have very little to no activity involved in it besides the due diligence they do on the asset and the general partners that are bringing the deal to them.
You’ve also had experience investing passively too.
That was right at the end too. It’s a 134-unit in Houston. We did that because I wanted to have the experience of being a limited partner. We have a solo 401(k). With that investment, we can’t actively work on it without killing it. We don’t want to do that but we’re not necessarily interested in having it in a stock market. We spent all of 2021 transferring all of our 401(k)s and all that stuff to the solo 401(k) so we can use it in syndications.
We are interested in doing that. That was primarily the reason why I did this. I wanted to have the experience, such that when we’re ready to do syndication with individuals, we can know exactly what we like and don’t like about it, things that are going to be helpful for us to relate to our passive investors when we choose to bring them on. That’s why we did that.The deal and competency are important, but you have to be the right type of person as well. Click To Tweet
Going back to the joint venture, at least I believe that this is more applicable to a joint venture is working with teams. Can you touch a little bit about that? As people seek to get started or if you are a passive investor and thinking about passively investing in a team because that’s typically what’s happening, what are some of the qualities of these teams that you’ve found have performed successfully and maybe even that you look for when you’re thinking about partnering with other people?
We spent a good amount of time, like the whole year, underwriting and networking with people. We wanted to make sure that we connected with enough people, such that if we found people that we thought we liked that we could be like, “We could partner together.” We get to know them. For me, it’s important that teams and people that I connect with aligning with my values. That’s because if something happens, I want to be able to make sure that we can work together as a team. Integrity is a big part of my value, honesty, transparency and a good old willingness to work together. Those are things that we look for in people.
As we networked, we met people in person as things started to open up around the country and get to know individuals because that’s the most important. The deal and competency are important but you have to be the right type of person as well. You can have a great deal and be very competitive but if you’re not the right type of person, you can still kill that deal. For us, the goal was to avoid those types of things. We had been in real estate for many years and we did have that initial partnership with the contractor and recognizing things that we enjoyed and didn’t enjoy about and making sure that everything was clear up front so we learned those lessons.
Communicating clearly about expectations is important. We’re aligning ourselves with people who do those same things. If I were going to give suggestions to people about how they determine who to work with and who not to work with, it’s trying your best. Sometimes it’s hard. If someone’s in California and I’m here, we’re not going to be able to meet that often. Try your best to communicate with them and chat outside of the business piece to see what type of person they are and if they line up with what you think you can work with because, with joint ventures, it’s a partnership and a marriage. It’s easy to get into. It’s harder to get out of.
You have to be cognizant of all of the different dynamics that can be involved and recognize that. We’ve also been married for a long time. We have developed a relationship so we know what we’re looking for in other partners. That was helpful for us too and treating it that way. The partners that we have with the JV teams are friendly people. We enjoy and like talking to them. When we have our meetings, it’s enjoyable. I connected in particular with one person, Hema Robles, who brought us in. It’s great because we all have the same values in the lineup. You tend to migrate together with the same types of people, which is great.
This leads nicely to two things. The first thing I want to cover is working with your spouse. Many people out there, maybe their spouses, don’t see eye to eye about investing. With your husband, it sounded like he saw the vision of real estate initially and shared it with you. Many times, he shared with you things that you were probably not comfortable doing but joining the syndication type of program to learn about syndications and stuff. You found a way to expand and learn about it and found your role and stuff like that. Can you talk about, as a partner to someone who seems to be like a visionary, how you have incorporated that and found your role and path in all of that too?
Initially starting, I was very skeptical about the whole thing, even with real estate. When he was like, “Leave the teaching job and come through real estate,” I was like, “I have a good government job. We have our benefits and money coming in. They always need teachers. Why would I leave this for the risky real estate?” Him talking to me and recognizing the benefits outweighed the safety of my W-2 job. Honestly, if I could give enough time to the real estate with the rentals and the flips, we could blow anything that I wouldn’t have made and any benefits out the water, which is what happened.
Sometimes, it takes a little bit of communicating with me and me processing a little bit. A lot of the time, I’m doing analysis and weighing like, “Let’s look at A and B,” because that’s the math in me. I’m weighing the pros and the cons and evaluating. For me, this was a calculated risk. At the end of the day, I can still go back to teaching. It’s not like the end of the world. If the worst-case came, I could go back into the classroom tomorrow because who doesn’t need a math teacher? I did calculate it for sure.
When it came to the multifamily, it was more of him presenting information and me doing my due diligence researching to the point where I felt comfortable enough. He is visionary but I’m a good down to earth person. We have the visions. I think about “How can we implement it?” We worked together on that. That worked out well for us. It can be a challenge sometimes working with your partner because you have different opinions and personalities but we’re in this together and we find ourselves to be a team.
That is how we approach it. We have approached our marriage that way and it’s fallen into real estate. Everything we do raising our kids, how we go through life, we’re a team. When one’s down, the other one picks up and vice versa. We approach everything as a team. The kids hate it because they try to divide us and it doesn’t work.
You’ve been in real estate and had been playing in this space for many years. You’ve come up from the ground, from buying your house to renting out that house, buying another one, buying fourplexes, flipping properties, joint venturing, getting into syndication and building from there. We are in the market environment where we are seeing interest rates that are continuing to increase for good reason because we have high inflation, which needs to be able to be countered by something. As you think about investing in real estate, what is your stance as you think about deploying capital or even continuing to invest? What does that look like for you and your family?
Our stance is something that we’ve kept from the beginning. Whenever we invested in real estate, it was for the cashflow. That’s because if I was trying to replace my income as a teacher, I needed the cashflow to come in. Every deal that we’ve done was for some of the flips in DC because there’s no cashflow in DC but there’s a lot of appreciation. Those long-term holds that we had were always about cashflow and that’s the same mentality that we have and have had when we approached the multifamily space. It’s not that we’re against the appreciation play, the value-add play that a lot of people talk about but we like true value add that makes a lot of sense and cashflow.
That’s because what we’ve learned with our many years of doing even single-family and this one multi we have is that when the market drops, all you have left is cashflow. You can’t eat off appreciation, especially when appreciation disappears. For us, it’s always important that we approach all of our deals that way. We try our best to make sure that we look for deals that have the cashflow or going to have it soon enough. To have a deal in which you’re in the deal for 3 or 4 years with no cashflow because you’re banking on appreciation is not something that we would do at this moment. That’s not a play that we have.
The types of people that we have in our community that we know would want to invest in real estate are also about cashflow. At the end of the day, that’s something that they can build on. They can add that to take care of grandma, have mom move into the basement and have cashflow there to take care of her. If it’s for something medical, having the extra cash to take care of those things for the kids to go to college. For us, it’s always been a cashflow play. Those are the types of deals that we are looking for and have purchased. When we did the joint venture, that was one that was important to us. It’s not that we don’t necessarily do the appreciation. Those are rare. It’s a way because of a unique happenstance, to be honest, but that’s how we’ve operated.
With this market, a lot of these projects that have come through are going to have difficulty in providing their investors with cashflow because of the increase in the rates. It decreases the cashflow that they’re going to be able to keep because they’re paying more on the loan. We are approaching our new deals that come our way with that same mentality.
We’re thinking 6.5% or the worst-case scenario for the rates. Does it still work? How does it look? We like to do worst-case scenarios when we invest. Doing it that way always turns out best for you. It may take a while to find a good deal but that’s okay because, at the end of the day, the goal was to find a good deal and not just be in one to be in.A joint venture is a partnership and a marriage. It's not that hard to get into, but it's harder to get out of. Click To Tweet
That pivots nicely to advice you would give to people who are thinking about possibly investing. Maybe could you touch on what asset class you’re focused on? People want to know where your advice is coming from and for.
In our asset class, we’re looking at two parts. In one bucket, the bucket that we would invest with people who are new to real estate investing would be the one that is a value add, nothing heavy cashflows on the first day like our joint venture in markets that have appreciating rents but we don’t necessarily. Let’s say there are a lot of markets, especially North and South Carolina, where we’re looking at, that you have in the double digits rent appreciation. When we do our underwriting, we do it at 2% or 3%. If we get that, that’s great. If not, we’re still cash flowing because we’ve been very conservative in how we analyze our deals.
We’re looking at 50 to 150 units properties in North and South Carolina and the DC area, Baltimore because we’re familiar with that area. That’s cashflow on day one but still, have enough meat on them that we can turn them over because they’re dated. Mom and pop properties sometimes are self-managing people. Sometimes, they’re great at managing. We’re able to bring in third-party managers a little bit more efficiency into the property and operating it. That’s what we’re looking at. People who are interested in investing have a goal of nothing too heavy. It’s the deals that involve, “We’re going to turn this whole unit around and reposition it from C class to B class.”
It’s 50% occupied, don’t expect any money for the first 3 years because that’s going to take a lot of time and work to do. We’re not looking for people who want to invest with us. We might be looking for those for ourselves and do that as a joint venture because we can afford that stuff and that’s one of our plays. For people who want to invest with us in a group of investing, we’re looking for something stable and easy in that sense that doesn’t take a lot of work to do. That involves a lot of networking like we’ve been doing to find those types of deals.
You were a math teacher. You’re full-time in real estate now, both you and your husband. Can you talk about retiring using real estate and the realities of it, from the perspective of the active, as well as the passive path? You took the active path. There are people out there that are taking different paths and people are taking active. Some people are taking passive. Is this a set it and forget it situation? Is there some stuff that needs to be going on and happening along the way?
We self-manage our twenty-plus units so we’re very active. Some people want to do that and I want to do that because I’m still young. I’m not 70 or 80, where I’d probably want to chill. It makes sense for someone like me who still wants to be active to do something like self-managing. That’s not for everyone. If you’re someone who’s not interested in doing the tenants, termites and toilets, that passive investing aligns more with being able to set it and forget it once you’ve done the workbook ahead of time in terms of the due diligence of the asset and the people that are going to be managing the asset, the sponsors.
The syndicators are talking to you because you want to make sure that they align with whatever your goals happen to be, which in this case might be passive income coming in. You want to make sure that you communicate that to them so that they know what deals to bring to you. That match up with your goals of, “I want passive income coming in. I want the studies to an extreme of this much money.” If there’s a nice little icing on the cake at the end with the appreciation when we sell, that’s great. “I’ve got these bills to pay. These are things that I have set up in my plan. I need the funds to be coming regularly, quarterly or monthly.” That’s something that they should be straight up about.
What we’re doing as we start to educate our past clients and people who want to invest with us in the future is letting them know, “Here are the different types of deals that can come your way. Where do you wind up? What lane are you in?” When those deals come, we can say, “This one is good for you because of this,” as opposed to finding a deal and being like, “Do you like this deal?” It’s not for you. Can you self-manage and be passive? Probably not, but we could be less involved if we got a property manager to manage all of those.
With the way we purchased them, we still are able to have nice cashflow coming in but I had fun and enjoy talking to my residents so I don’t mind that but that’s something that’s an option. If you’re someone who wants to retire and enjoy your family, friends and whatever you had planned in retirement, passive investing and multifamily syndications are the way to go. I’m excited to present that to some of our past clients in our community.
What about timing? Is timing different for people who take the active route of real estate to get to retirement versus someone who’s taking the passive route of passively investing in real estate to get to “retirement?”
In terms of timing, do you mean when they retire, how much time do they think they’re going to be having to spend if they’re going to be active to become in addition to passive?
I’m talking about the time it will take for you to have a job and trying to say, “I don’t want to be working anymore.” People are trying to move from having a job to having no job and using real estate to make that happen. They might use the active play in real estate versus the passive play. That’s where I’m talking about the amount of time it will take taking that passive route versus taking the active route.
It depends on the deal but in general, I feel like we have been able to accumulate our net worth to where we have because we have been active in real estate. When we were working, I told you that it was in 2005 that we started investing. I didn’t stop teaching until 2015. That was a good ten years of us taking my active income as real estate agents and the active income of flipping.
Part of it has a lot of work to do so between the kids and all that stuff. I couldn’t do it but we financially could afford it because we had been so active and taking the active income and putting it into our rentals to build it to where we were able to financially stop working the active job and work on our rentals, which is still active but not as active as we were before. It’s not as active but still involved sometimes.
If you were going to go that route, depending on how the market is, you could plan on 5 to 10 years because it takes some time to build up, depending on where you live. When we lived in Minnesota, I probably could have retired in five years but because we live in a DC area and things are very expensive here and decided to keep having children, those things are expensive and it takes some time to build up to be able to pay for all of those things. Had we been the two of us or moved someplace less expensive, it may not have taken this long.
If we were going to be strictly passive, we would need enough capital to be able to generate the income that we want to invest in syndications. If I’m investing $50,000, depending on what type of return I’m going to get, I don’t think that I could live on $8,000 for the year. I need more. I would need to have enough like $100,000, $200,000, $300,000, maybe $500,000 or $1 million to be able to live passively straight on that. I would need to invest $1 million at least in the syndications periodically as they come in and come out to be able to live passively off that income coming in if that makes sense.When the market drops, all you have left is cash flow. You can't eat off appreciation, especially when appreciation disappears. Click To Tweet
People need to keep that in mind and remember. A lot of people slowly build it up because neither case is going to take your time. Unless you win the lottery, which we know about the lottery, all these things take time and that’s okay. I don’t regret any of the things that we have done because of the life experiences that we have learned, the people that we have met and all the education that I’ve gotten, I can inform other people about that. If that is someone who wants to do something like the syndication piece and live passively through that, they know that they need to start working on accumulating their capital so that they have enough. When they invest it, they can live nicely off of that but they’re going to get a good chunk.
You’re a math teacher so you probably can appreciate this. When you pointed out that $1 million, where you were going with that is a lot of deals will return anywhere between 6% to 8% each year. That’s typically the cash and cash. Some are even lower than that, depending on what’s going on and what property, if you’re dealing with a deep value add or something of that nature. The 6% of $1 million is $60,000 and 8% of $1 million is $80,000. Hopefully, that helps people to put things into perspective in terms of, “That’s the amount of cash that you put in.”
If you don’t have $1 million laying around, it doesn’t mean that passive investing is not a good path. What I love about your story is that you’ve illustrated that both paths technically take time because you were working for ten years as a math teacher from the point at which you started investing in real estate actively to the point at which you both decided it’s time that you could let go of the W-2.
I feel that time is something that people many times don’t talk about. They’re like, “This is some get-rich thing like crypto.” The difference between crypto and real estate is that crypto isn’t sending you notifications like, “Robin Hood is sending you notifications on your phone every couple of minutes telling you that crypto is 10% down, 5% down, 5% up, 10%, 20%.” No. Even when crypto is crashing, you’re still collecting rent and that’s the difference. I appreciate your story and being able to share that. This brings me to the level-up questions that I ask all my guests. The first one is, what are you grateful for in your life?
I’m grateful for my family. With all the trauma that has happened in the past couple of years, to be able to be with my husband and my kids, my sisters and my mom and my in-laws and experience them alive is great. I’m very grateful to be on this side of the earth and experience my time with them.
What would you say has contributed to your success and continuous growth?
My desire is not to be perfect but to be always trying. I’m very persistent about things. When I said I was patient in 2005 and 2015, people were like, “You still taught for ten years.” I was like, “Yeah. I’m working on a plan here. I’m going to be taking my time.” It’s the same thing with real estate. Especially multifamily space when we first got into 2020, a lot of people were like, “I’m getting 1,000 doors.”
They’re ready to invest right away but we’ve always been very like, “Let’s take our time. Here’s the plan that we have. Let’s work on the plan and be educated. Let’s take our time and not rush into this because we have been through real estate before.” In general, real estate is all the same. You want to be as informed as possible before you make deals because bad deals can take you out. We’ve seen that. My persistence in making sure I’m educated and informed is key to why we’re successful.
Lastly, what do you now know that you wish you knew at the beginning of your journey?
I wish I knew that it’s okay to take a risk. I would have taken it sooner. I’ll be honest. You live and learn. I have learned from that because of the risk with the multifamily and being comfortable to be like, “Worst-case scenario, we have our single family. If things don’t work out, we’ll be okay.” I have worked on being able to take that risk to see the possibility like my visionary husband looking at the vision a little bit. It’s been great.
It sounds like you are a good team for sure because you balance each other and bring different things to the table, which is what good partnerships do. If my readers want to learn more about you, contact and reach you, what’s the best place they can go to learn more?
The best place to reach me is at our website, which is www.ArrowheadCap.com. On there, we have some resources. We’ve got a Wednesday wealth webinar that we do twice a month in terms of real estate, educating people on different aspects of real estate that we do for free. If you’re interested in that, it would be a great place to find that. If you want to connect with me, I’m on LinkedIn sometimes too. That’s a great place to find me as well.
It was a pleasure having you on, Sia. I appreciate it.
About Sia Senior
Sia Senior is a full-time real estate investor that started investing in real estate in 2005 while she was a high school math teacher. Together with her husband, they house-hacked their first property, flipped 8 properties, and bought properties to hold long-term for the next 17 years. Currently they self-manage 20+ units (single-family and small multifamily). Their portfolio also consists of a 16-unit asset acquired through a JV partnership and 134 units as an LP.
Arrowhead Capital is a real estate firm that acquires multifamily assets in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. They are committed to providing our investment partners with excellent opportunities which allow them to passively create generational wealth and enhance the apartment communities of our residents.
Through her work in real estate, Sia has learned that 1) success comes from being patient and consistent and 2) as investors, we have the ability to positively impact the lives of our residents. While they have experienced the highs and lows of the real estate market they have remained committed to sticking to their acquisition criteria and to buy when the numbers work hence helping them to succeed financially. They are also intentional about our engagement with our residents so that they know that we care about them and their families.