Have you ever felt the itch to want to restart and regain control of your life? Suzy Sevier did. She’s the co-founder of Adventurous Real Estate Investors, a business that was planned and opened during the pandemic. Lisa Hylton talks with her as she shares her inspiring story on how she was able to get zero to 88 units in a pandemic and survive the real estate industry miles away from where her business is. Discover how she made the most out of her free time during the lockdown and be inspired to get your business starting as well.
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Zero To 88 Units In A Pandemic From The UK With Suzy Sevier
We are talking about return on impact with Suzy Sevier. Suzy is a Cofounder of Adventurous Real Estate Investors. Her adventure began at a TEDx event. The theme was Reset. It changed her life. She took the event to heart and used that theme as a launching point to regain control of her life, secure financial freedom, give back to the community and discover her why. She wants to share this journey by helping others check off their bucket lists and achieve their greatest ROI and return on impact. Welcome to the show, Suzy. I’m happy to have you.
Thank you so much for having me on, Lisa. I’m excited.
I’m excited to get started. My readers know the format of my show. We do a little bit of background so we can get to know you, we get into the meat and then we wrap up with my level–up questions. To get started, where do you live?
I live in Cambridge, England. I am all the way across the pond.
Where are you from originally?Everything gets easier with practice. Click To Tweet
Before moving here, I lived in Colorado. I had lived all around before. I was born and partly raised in California. I lived in Iowa, Hawaii and then made it to Colorado eventually.
How long have you been in Cambridge?
I’ve been here for several years. I will be here with my husband.
What brought you guys to Cambridge?
My husband, Michael is an active-duty Air Force. He’s getting his PhD over at the University of Cambridge. We are here for this journey. After this, we will move back to Colorado so he can teach at the Air Force Academy.
On top of that, you guys, together, have cofounded Adventurous Real Estate Investors. Before we get into the questions on that, what is something that you guys love to do together?
We’re big on an adventure like biking, hiking, scuba diving, kayaking. We love being outside and doing anything adventurous.
I could see that because that is what has inspired the name of your business. What has been something that has happened to you that was challenging in the process and happening, but has rebirth you, gave you a different perspective, appreciation or gratitude about life?
The biggest thing was COVID–19 and the lockdowns because our lockdowns were strict over here. Even for the first one, none of us had been in this situation, but it was a little over 100 days. None of us were working. I was working from home because that was something that I could do. Being in a difficult situation which is not being able to leave your house except to exercise once a day or go to the grocery store and create a happy, huge life out of that is what has given me a restart because that’s how the birth of Adventurous Real Estate Investors started. Finding that silver lining during this is what has been the biggest thing for me.
It sounds like your business was birth in COVID. How does that happen? What made you guys decide to start this business? What is return on impact? What do you plan to do and how does that look?
COVID all happened, we were at home. We’re like, “What are we going to do?” Michael and I don’t have a TV. I was like, “We’re going to start a mini book club.” That’s what we were surrounded by. We started the book club. The fourth–ish book talked about real estate investing. It was called Multiple Streams of Income by Robert Allen. Once Michael had got to it, because he would read the book and then I would read the book and then we would do the book club. He was like, “You have to fast forward to this chapter.” Once I read it, he was like, “We have to do this.” I was like, “Let’s start.” It was giving ourselves permission to try something that was completely new. Once we had figured out that everything had gone virtual, like meetups, conferences, we knew that was a great opportunity for us to start. We did. It was figuring out what meetups to attend, trying to find out all the podcasts we could listen to, reading the blog articles, figuring out who the industry experts were so that we could consume as much information as we could.
For some people, COVID was the reason why they didn’t do certain things, but you saw the opportunities that COVID brought to you by living in the UK. You would not have had access to a lot of these meetups that have now turned virtual as a result of COVID and being able to tap into them and build relationships. Can you talk about what are some of the opportunities getting into those Meetups brought to you and your business?
They pretty much created all the opportunities. You meet one person who then introduces you to another person. You go to one Meetup group, where then people promote their other Meetup groups. It’s this beautiful ripple effect of meeting new people and finding out new topics and ideas to even think about within real estate investing. One of the best parts is that when you go into a breakout room, once the Meetup ends and you can meet people in a smaller setting, everybody has such a great story and a different way of explaining something about real estate that then you expand on that knowledge more and it grows. Even within all of that, we got to meet many people that we would not have met before. A lot of people had said like, “My meetup was in person.” Being able to meet all these people and hear everybody’s stories solidified that we could do it from over here. People are doing it from Washington and they’re investing in Florida. There’s no reason why we can’t do it from the UK and then back in the States.
Can you talk about some of the key things that you guys had to put in place to make it happen, investing from the UK and the United States?
There are a couple of things. We knew that we had to have boots on the ground because that’s what we were missing. What that boots on the ground provided with somebody who could look at the assets before we submitted LOIs and make sure that the asset was something worth purchasing. All the pictures that you see look great because that’s what part of the OM is supposed to show, all of these wonderful photos, but they could go in and make sure that everything appeared as it was supposed to be. Along with that, we then had to also figure out our investment thesis. Along with syndications, you have to have limited partners. When we were talking to other investors, we had to be able to say like, “These are the things we’re looking for.” Right off the bat, some people were like, “You’re in the UK.” A lot of hesitation.
Showing that we knew what we were looking for, that we had boots on the ground, helped. Even to bring in the return on impact, that’s what brought it all together because then we could show and explain what our vision was, “Why we want to get into real estate investing from all the way over here?” Even to expand on that a little bit, Michael can retire from the Air Force in seven years. In seven years, we want to be 100% passive so that we can travel the world and volunteer wherever we want. Our greatest dream would be to be able to go to different countries and help build schools or something in communities to help them go a step above surviving because that’s what real estate investing is. We are here to serve the families that are living in these apartment complexes. When you create a space where people can focus on thriving instead of surviving, then that’s when these communities can continue to become better and start to excel. Our whole thing is that if we can even make a 1% positive impact on somebody else’s life, then that is always unmeasurable. That’s where even return on impact comes in.
Where you guys real estate investors before you launch this business?
We were not.
You launched this business in 2020, in COVID and acquired 88 units in 2020. Can you walk us through how you guys made that happen?
Through all of the virtual meetups, we started to meet more people. That’s how we could grow our team. Something that we wanted was onsite property management, because we truly believe that when property management is onsite, the residents are more comfortable. That’s, at least, how we feel. More can get done, maintenance requests don’t go left behind. That’s what we were looking for. When we were figuring out those numbers, we’re like, “We have to add to our team.” Somebody was introduced to us because he was also investing in that area, but he was in a higher range rate. He was going for 200 plus. There was no direct competition, but he ended up being our mentor. Through that organic relationship, we were talking to brokers and telling brokers about our team because Michael was doing the acquisition and the broker relations.
We came up with a whole cover letter that we gave to the brokers and it was like, “This is who’s on our team. This is the property manager we want to work with. This is the lender we want to work with.” At that point, they took us seriously because it was like, “They live in the UK.” That hesitation happens often. “They have put all of this effort and due diligence in to show that this is something that they want to do.” Even beyond that, we would call the brokers. We wouldn’t talk to them about what they had coming up in the pipeline. We are talking to them about their life and what their hobbies were. Something big is a lot of the brokers are into soccer.There’s no cap for growth, no cap for what you can learn. Click To Tweet
We would call and talk about soccer because that’s huge in the UK. Those little things. We wanted to create relationships instead of it being transactional. That’s what did it because COVID, for some people, created a space where relationships disappeared. We didn’t want anyone to feel as if we did not want a relationship with them. We were there for them no matter what because in the end, we needed the brokers more than they needed us. There’s a lot of buyers out there. We wanted to make sure that we stuck out as positively as we could.
Was this a property that one of the brokers that you had a relationship, brought to you?
We had been submitting LOIs. The broker knew we were serious. He brought this one to us. Initially, it was not stabilized. What that means is that the occupancy was not 90% or above. It wasn’t stabilized in August and September 2020. Finally, in October 2020, when we got saw the financials come through again, it was. We’re like, “We have to put an LOI now because everybody else is going to as well.” With that, we kept in communication with the broker. He sent it to us. We were like, “At this time, we do not want to pursue it because it’s not stabilized. Thank you, but not at this time.” It was also explaining to the broker like, “This is something that we’re interested. We’re not going ghost you and look at it in the background and only talk to you when it’s something that we want.” That helped us as well. Once it did become stabilized, we submitted our LOI with all of the bios. That is how we ended acquiring that 88 unit.
Where’s that one located?
It’s in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
I’m guessing that’s a market that you were focused on. Are you’re still focused on that market or are you also open to other markets?
We are focused on that market because of our boots on the ground. Part of our investment thesis is that we want the asset to be stabilized. We want 50% of the returns to come from cashflow and we want it cash flowing from day one. We knew that with the amount of capital that we are able to bring, because you have to take that into consideration because a lot of markets can offer that, but if it’s twice as much per door, then I’m only going to be able to get 40 units instead of 80 units. A lot of that strategic thinking too, like, “These are the areas that we could be in.” Our boots on the ground were in Oklahoma City. When we looked at Oklahoma City, we’re like, “The cap rates are low here. Let’s move up to Tulsa.” That’s how we ended up in Tulsa. We are going to stay in Tulsa because we do enjoy that market. We will diversify out of it one day. We’re trying to do one thing at a time, especially from being over here because we’d have to build a new team at least until we get to move back because we want our investors to feel stable about what is happening on the property.
Have you guys made the trip to Tulsa yet?
We haven’t been able to because of the restrictions. We’ve gotten a lot of videos and pictures. I never thought I’d have so many pictures of an apartment that was not mine. We hope that we can go back in October 2021. Those restrictions have to lift. We are US citizens. We could go if there was an emergency. In case anyone wanted to know, you have to have a COVID test before you come back. You have to have two COVID tests when you return in quarantine for ten days. If you were to add that all up, that’s almost $600, $700 in COVID testing, which we’re like, “We can skip that and wait for a little bit.”
A little bit more about this property in terms of price per door and how much you guys had to raise to make to purchase it.
The price per door was $48,000. $4.375 million is what we bought it for. The raise was $1.75 million. We brought almost 800 of that. We didn’t know because it was going to be our first raise. That’s a scary thing to do. Once we figured out that we had to have an investors list and we had to have people trust us, we went in power mode. We went from 0 to 100 fast. We found out right away that our friends and family were not going to be the people investing with us. It was going to have to be people that we were talking with over Zoom. That can even seem scary in itself. Before, people were meeting for coffee, dinner or lunch. We were like, “That’s something that we’re going to have to skip for now.” We were having 20 to 25 investor calls a week, sometimes more, because we were like, “If we want to make this happen, we’re going to have to get ourselves out there.”
The pipeline of 20 to 25 investor calls per week, was this all driven from the networking going to all those meetups and meeting all those people along that path, then you had people to call to do 20 to 25 calls per week?
We would reach out and be like, “We’d love to chat to get to know your investment goals.” When we were going to virtual conferences, that was the biggest push because we probably went to about ten. People would put their contact information in or someone would make a spreadsheet and then everybody’s names were on there. What we found out right away was that nobody was reaching out. We’re like, “No one’s reaching out.” We ended up being the only people who reach out, pretty sure that the chance of us talking to people are high. We had a lot of people who would be like, “Let’s jump on a call.” Some people were specific like, “I want to be a limited partner this year.” We’re like, “Let’s chat.”
Going to different meetups and showing up and being consistent in the space. That’s what it was. People would see our website because we introduced that. We had a website before we started even talking to people. Personally, this was our part of our investment thesis, is that we want to drive people to something rather than us just being this couple on the screen. We’re driving them to that website and explaining how we want it to make a difference in the world. A lot of people also want that. That’s what helped as well. We found a way to ask people like, “Why are you in real estate investing?” That’s where the real relationship grows. More often than not, a lot of people want to make an impact on the world. Whether that’s with themselves or with their family or friends, it doesn’t matter. Instead of talking about deals and what we wanted to look for, we were asking about the person and what they wanted for themselves and for their life.Figuring out what you are meant to do can contribute to success. Click To Tweet
Pivoting from this. I also want to talk a little bit about your social media strategy because I see you guys will create a lot of different videos on LinkedIn. What is your focus and how you found social media has helped you in terms of building your business and continuing to move forward?
There are two parts to this. Initially, we went to an Adams & Adams conference. What they talked about was, “Post on social media. Nobody knows that you’re in real estate until you tell everyone you’re in real estate.” We’re like, “This is what we’re going to do.” It’s an entire identity shift. We were meeting people at conferences and such, but nobody in our space, right away, knew that this was what we were into. What we used real or social media for was how we could broadcast that. We were putting out blog content, videos. We were talking about it. What that helped us do was have trust from a different way. It was another touchpoint, essentially.
We’ve had those one-on-one calls with people, but through social media, they could get a sense of who we were as people and the education that we had for ourselves. The 30-minute conversation is not long. Sometimes it’s 45, but still, there’s so much more to people than that. Every week we’re posting blog posts. It could be like, “This is something I learned about. I know that’s what they know about.” Through LinkedIn, we initially started off with a CRE ten-day challenge. That’s something that Yonah Weiss puts on. In the first one, we struggled. We’re going to have to have a different approach going forward. Following Yonah, it is amazing how much growth you get. The growth comes from you contributing and posting. Once we saw that growth and experienced it, because it comes with time, it gets so much easier. Everything gets easier with practice. That was the thing.
Can you talk a little bit about what you found challenging the first time you did the CRE ten-day challenge? Maybe start with what the CRE ten-day challenge is.
The challenge is that for ten days you post something related to commercial real estate investing. You’re in a group with ten other people. The point is that you post and your group comes and lifts it up. There’s more to it. You have to have eighteen likes and comments before you can tell the group to go lift it up. We are there for each other. We’re the background cheerleaders like, “You did it this far and now we’re going to go boost it so that the whole world can see it.” What LinkedIn does is that the more likes and comments that you have, the more people see it. The more people who see it, you gain that additional exposure. That’s what we need.
Our business needs that additional exposure. Once we saw the power of it, we were like, “This is something that we have to do.” For this last challenge, Michael focused on asset management and I focused on capital raising and what passive investing can do for people. We chose that route because we think it’s two things that aren’t discussed often. We’ve also spoke about it because asset management is the whole business. Once you close, the next 5 to 7 years, 3, 10 years or whatever range you choose, is asset managing. We wanted to come up with ways to show people who are not in our deal. These are the things that we put into place for asset management. We did it for other people too.
If people want to learn from us, they can. It wasn’t just for our sole purpose. We wanted to share it all with the world. For capital raising, I decided to take that route because it is difficult. It is easy when you have that list but creating that list for some people is a struggle. I say that because I hear people say it, they’re like, “I’m not getting traction or I don’t know how to get more investors.” You have to truly build relationships because that money is somebody’s hard–earned money or it’s part of their 401(k). It’s sacred to them. Capital raising is a very long process. Progress creating an investor list is a long process like asset management should be like, “Do you want to be nurturing these relationships the whole time?”
You want to be setting up those systems in place that constantly nurture and help to continue to attract and maintain your current relationships. You said how the first time you did the CRE challenge, it was challenging. Can you talk about why it was challenging for you?
It was challenging on a mindset level. We didn’t know what to post because the thought was everybody knows what I’m going to post about. The thing is that everybody’s list is different. There is somebody in your LinkedIn space who does not know what you’re talking about. That’s something that you have to get over. Although it’s not new for some people, it is new for a lot of people. Even throughout this journey, what made me realize that the most is that so many people don’t invest at all because they don’t know anything about it. Anything you write is new content.
It’s more getting over that. It was also, how do we catch people’s attention? At first, we were writing everything out. Once we found out that we liked making videos because we got used to it through practice, we’re like, “We’re making videos. This is what we’re going to do.” That’s why the second one was so much better because we put out videos and found out that people liked closed captioning because they can read it without having the sound on. Finding out those little tips and tricks, but it takes time to find them out.
I love the videos because I am an audio and video type person. The videos are more memorable than the regular posts. A part of it too is LinkedIn isn’t as saturated with video content as maybe some of the other social media avenues. That helps too. Video helps regardless of whichever social media platform you’re using.
Something that we added to for our investor update is video. When I was seeing other people’s investor updates come through and nobody has a video, I was like, “I’m going to try video.” The feedback I got from it, everyone was like, “I could play it and listen to it in the car.” I went through the entire investor update and they’re like, “Please keep doing video.” I’m like, “That was neat.” We have to remember that there are many different learning styles in the way that people want to consume information. Podcasts are this huge thing that everyone is doing. Video can easily fit along in with that. When I talk to people, a lot of people right now prefer podcasts over block content. It was a no-brainer that if we do a video, they can literally put their phone down or we can travel in their pocket while they’re doing whatever.
From what I remembered looking at your LinkedIn, you have experience working in different businesses. Can you talk about maybe you were an entrepreneur before this business, or maybe you weren’t or maybe your business experience has helped you in terms of building the current business that you’re building now?
This is my first business, which is real estate. We’ve grown more since then. What I found out through the places that I worked was how I want to be as a leader. That was the greatest takeaway that I had. I took everything that I loved about the places that I worked. I brought those into my business. I thought about the things that I didn’t love. I thought like, “How can I make this into a learning experience and bring that into my business?”
Do you work another job or are you full-time in the business now?
I work a traditional W–2 over here, but I will go full–time real estate in August 2021.
You were talking about what you’ve experienced, what you learned in your jobs have helped you in terms of building the business you want and being the kind of leader that you want to be.
I’ve worked for places that had a lot of employees and focused on company culture. I’ve worked on places that didn’t have a lot of employees and didn’t work on company culture. Bringing that altogether. I’ve also worked in different avenues of it. I’ve been a manager before. I’ve worked in accounting, so I understand the finance side. Now I’m in the supply chain, so I understand the backend of how raw material and everything all come through and come full circle. The biggest thing for me was getting my MBA. Taking all the classes, meeting all the people and hearing other people’s stories who want to either start their own business or grow into a C–level position was one of the best parts because that’s where you get into those human experiences.
When you work somewhere, you are helping accomplish somebody else’s goals and dreams. In my program, we all talked about our goals, dreams and how we were going to accomplish them. That was the greatest place for me to learn anything about a business because there are many different people who are all wanting to start their own thing that ideas flow. Traditionally, in a W–2, a lot of employers do not promote educating yourself and going further because that’s something that they don’t do. I don’t know why. I’ve noticed that. Being in a space where all these other people are educating themselves, want to keep learning and growing, that is phenomenal to me.A lot of people want to make an impact on the world, whether it’s with themselves or with their family or friends. Click To Tweet
Connected to that, two things. One, I want to talk about masterminds because I feel that leads nicely into masterminds. You said that since launching this business, you’ve launched two other businesses. I wanted to talk about also how creating one business has fertilized the ground for another business. Let’s start with fertilizing the ground of another business and then get into the mastermind.
What it all came down to was because real estate investing, the main thing is to create that passive income. Through other businesses, you can also create that passive income. It was more of the diversification of where do we want to go and what do we want to do? How do we want to continue to build ourselves from wherever we live? That’s the main thing. The businesses that we built and started are businesses that can be done in the UK, US, Australia or Vietnam, wherever we feel like going. Figuring out the power of real estate with that. The whole thing with real estate investing is you go passive so that you can pursue everything that you want to pursue, or you go active so that you can pursue everything as well. “We want to be able to do that from anywhere in the world, so why don’t we create something elsewhere we can do from anywhere in the world?” That’s what fertilized it and then made this beautiful tree grow.
For me, I feel like entrepreneurship once you dive in, other ideas of businesses start coming to you. I love when they’re all in similar vein because then it makes the main vein even more powerful. If there are other businesses that support your main business but then are businesses of their own, it’s a beautiful thing.
Once you learned that a business can fail and none of ours have, you fail forward and then you try again. That it is way more important for you to do than to stay comfortable in a W–2 because that can also be taken away from you, whether you want to believe it or not, you get to decide or somebody else gets to decide. That 50/50 chance is not a chance that I want to take forever.
Let’s talk about masterminds and why you have chosen to join masterminds. Let’s start there.
It took me a while to find one because I wanted it to be the right fit. I’ve heard of a few. I had people recommend some but looking deeper into it, I’m like, “What do I need? What is my pain point? How do I think I’ll get there?” For me specifically, we want to continue to grow and scale because we do have that timeline of seven years. When Hunter came out with his Race Masters Mastermind, it was like, “This is a no-brainer.” I already had listened to Hunter because even with masterminds, I treated them like I would treat somebody that I would passively invest with like, “I need to get to know you. If that’s listening to your podcasts, hearing you speak at events, that’s something that I’ll do. That’s something that I did with other people as well. I want to see how you write, how you interact with other humans and how you present yourself to the world. Social media can make you look super perfect.”
I feel like the research and looking into that I did is what helped me decide in the end. Along with that, I found something that focuses on something that I’m directly needing to work on. That was the biggest a–ha. There is no cap for growth, what you can learn and for anything that you can consume. Masterminds, to me, keep you steady with that growth. Through it, too, you meet so many people and your growth expand, not only from the knowledge that you receive from the person who is hosting the mastermind but everybody else in it as well. That was amazing to me.
It’s hard to put a price on that because many times, you have no idea what those relationships can bring to you, not just financially, but emotionally, as well as experiences. Many different things that can happen from that experience. Life can go in many different ways. Investing in masterminds is also largely investing in yourself because you then are able to then continue to grow, which is a little different from the W–2 world. I don’t see a ton of masterminds targeted to that space. They’re probably out there, but maybe I’m not looking for them. I do find that in the entrepreneur business space. There are so much more masterminds and opportunities to network, connect and collaborate and build relationships with other people. That then brings me to my level of questions that I ask all of my guests. The first question is, what are you grateful for in your life now?
Having free and open access to knowledge to improve my life, because of everything going virtual, I was even able to find other resources of education, which is masterminds. To bring that all together, having that free and open access is huge because some countries don’t have that access. Now knowing that I can get it from over here from a different country, it’s brought a whole new perspective to everything that I’m learning.
What has attributed to your success and continuous growth?
It’s deep thinking on figuring out my why and passions because that’s what drives me to want to get up and continue to work a W–2 and then do this in the morning and then after work. Once I figured, did all that deep thinking and truly figured it out what I was meant to do on this Earth, that has contributed to my success because it’s made it so much easier for me to stay up late and get up in the morning knowing that there’s stuff I have to accomplish.
What do you now know that you wish you knew at the beginning of your journey?
The biggest thing is to do not take the seller’s word for everything. If you have to triple, quadruple check something or ask for something, do it. A seller is in it for themselves. Although we want to all believe that we are here for the families in these communities, some people don’t think that way.
Before I let you go and share where people can learn more about you, is there anything else that you wished that you could share with my readers here before leaving?
Michael and I, our whole mission is to be able to do real estate investing from anywhere in the world. We have created a list of four powerful ways to generate passive income from anywhere in the world because you deserve the life that you were born into. To claim that guide, you can go to AdventurousRei.com/Guide. You can find out more about me there.
Thank you so much, Suzy. I appreciate it. Thank you for coming on the show.
Thank you so much. It was a lot of fun, Lisa.
I hope you enjoyed this episode. Remember, if you’ve done so already, please rate and provide a review for this show. It enables us to keep bringing on amazing guests and producing content that helps you in your business and investing. Thank you so much. Keep leveling up.
- Adventurous Real Estate Investors
- Multiple Streams of Income
- Adventurous Real Estate Investors – LinkedIn
- Adams & Adams
- Yonah Weiss
About Suzy Sevier
Suzy Sevier is a Co-Founder of Adventurous Real Estate Investors. Her adventure began at a TEDx event — the theme was Reset — and it changed her life. She took the event to heart and used that theme as a launching point to regain control of her life, secure financial freedom, give back to the community, and discover her “why.” She wants to share this journey by helping others check off their bucket list items and achieve their greatest ROI, Return on Impact.
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