Meet the investors who won tickets to the BiggerPockets conference

BiggerPockets conference ticket winners
by Team Stessa, posted in Stessa News

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Documents sweepstakes and took advantage of the opportunity to organize and securely store all of your rental property files on Stessa.

Congratulations to our three lucky winners who’ll be heading to Nashville early next month. In this short Q&A, they share a little bit about their rental property investing adventures, how they’re using Stessa, and what they’ve learned along the way.

If you’re heading to the BiggerPockets conference, be sure to stop by our booth to say hello and get your limited edition Stessa tape measure.

David Christoffel, Rental Property Investor

Tell us about your real estate background

It all started the day I handed in my last rent check to my college landlord. I thought to myself as I stood waiting outside his office, “How much money have I given this guy over the course of 3 years?” As my mind strained to compute the mental math, my eyes began to widen. The thought that followed shocked me even more, “…and I’m one of twenty tenants in this property! This guy is making twice the annual salary I could expect to make coming out of college, and from just one of his nineteen properties!”

That was December 2014. Since that powerful day in my landlord’s office, my girlfriend (now wife) and I have built up our real estate investing knowledge base, networked with many intelligent real estate investors in our market, and house hacked duplexes on our way to owning 14 units.

We purchased our first duplex in December 2016, our second duplex in December of 2017, five more duplexes in May of 2019, and are currently under contract to purchase an additional seven duplexes. We are both in our mid-to-late twenties. My wife works full time as a school counselor and I’m a mechanical engineer.We have a beautiful baby girl whose smile and laughter is flat-out infectious.

All of our properties are within a three mile radius of the duplex we currently house hack. This makes it easy to self-manage and build up the knowledge that comes with doing things yourself. One of our future goals is to eventually curate a management team that focuses only on the properties we own.

Our values have evolved since the day I left my college landlord’s office. Dollar signs are what originally attracted us to real estate investing, but the opportunity to live a unique lifestyle mixed with deeply connected relationships, generosity, and ample time for family, friends, fitness, and adventure has maintained our commitment.

Today, our goals are aligned with our future desire to positively impact the world and people around us. Some of these goals include passive wealth creation, exponential growth of net worth, extraordinary adventures, increased amount of time and wealth spent on causes in which we believe. These include environmental stewardship, clean energy, unique educational opportunities for our children, and the restoration and protection of our wild, natural resources, among others.

One of our guiding principles is summed up in a quote by a man named William James, “The most important thing in life is to live for something more than just your own life.”

Tell us about your portfolio

We bought our first duplex in December 2016 which enabled us to move away from monthly rent payments. We purchased our second duplex in December of 2017, another five duplexes in May of 2019, and are currently under contract to purchase an additional seven duplexes. Today, we have 14 units, all of which are relatively new duplexes less than 20 years old. They’re located in the Chippewa Falls region of the greater Eau Claire Wisconsin MSA.

How do you use Stessa to track and manage your properties?

Due to the homegrown nature of our small real estate investing and management business, Stessa offers the most unique, intuitive, and affordable software option for  running our business. From automatic expense tracking and reconciliation, to portfolio management and organizational document storage, Stessa equips us with the tools necessary to run our operations in a highly effective manner. This has certainly been noticed and appreciated by some of our long-term tenants.

Prior to incorporating Stessa into our management systems, most of our processes required the use of “tricked out” Excel spreadsheets. I remember the countless hours spent laboring over a computer screen attempting to learn Microsoft VBA and implementing homegrown macro functions that would take in raw bank statement data and spit out an income and expense report.

With Stessa, income and expense reports (and many other types of reports) are available at the click of a button.  They’re also customizable so we get exactly what we’re looking for in any particular situation. To say Stessa has improved our business quality of life is an understatement. We are, hands-down, a more professional business because of Stessa.

What’s your favorite thing about Stessa?

My favorite part about Stessa is the way it centralizes the two moving parts of our business: real estate investing and rental property management. For example, I can knit the acquisition and valuation data from the investing side of the business into the capital expenditures and net income metrics of the management side of the business. This allows me to see a high level view of our portfolio status and health quickly and efficiently. Most importantly, it takes the guesswork and maintenance out of the equation, allowing for smooth and seamless access to our portfolio performance data.

What’s your best and/or worst real estate investment?

Since we haven’t been investing in real estate and managing tenants for many years, we don’t bear any major battle scars yet. The key word in that statement is yet. Any investor/owner-operator who maintains they’ll never get burned, lose money, or be taken advantage of by a tenant or partner is foolish. With that said, we do have systems, policies, and procedures in place that align very closely with our goals and growth plan. One of these policies helps define our specific criteria for purchasing buy and hold property, in order to keep us out of assets in low-quality environments. Another procedure that we have in place is a robust tenant screening process that helps us capture and retain high quality tenants. Our mindset of system creation has been aided, in large part, by BiggerPockets and the many pieces of literature available to aspiring investors.

Kendra Levy, Rental Property Investor

Tell us about your real estate background

I started investing in real estate in 2017. I relocated to another state for a job and had the hardest time finding a rental as a new resident. I saw a major hole in the rental market and I decided to fill it. Now my unit is never vacant and I have dozens of applicants every time I list it for rent. I also saw a huge opportunity in short term rentals in that area and decided to pursue that as well. There is much more cash flow in short term rentals, but you are definitely working for it! I enjoy a low maintenance approach and like receiving my rent checks at the first of every month. This allows me to carry on my normal everyday business but still have an asset paying me every month.

Tell us about your portfolio

Right now I have one property in Missouri. It’s a condo. I am currently in the process of buying more units in the same market.

How do you use Stessa to track and manage your properties?

I use Stessa to store my documents. I love the idea of a cloud-based service so I can access my documents from different devices and I don’t have to worry about them disappearing if something happens to my computer.

What’s your favorite thing about Stessa?

I love the calculators and breakdowns of all of the numbers. I am a visual person, so when I can see different graphs and pie charts, it’s a lot easier for me to understand exactly how my property is doing day-to-day and overall.

What’s your best and/or worst real estate investment?

My best investment has been my condo in Missouri. It was basically turnkey when I got it and has been cashflowing since day one! It has been so simple to manage and I can’t wait to add more units like this to my portfolio.

Joseph Cannon, Rental Property Investor

Tell us about your real estate background

Joseph: I read Robert Kiyosaki’s “Cashflow Quadrant” 2½ years ago, and it ruined me for life!  As I was 26 years into an engineering career with GE, I had been seeking a way to generate real income and long-term wealth as a soft landing into retirement in the next ten years. Shortly after, I dove headlong into the BiggerPockets podcasts, their extensive publication library and other educational resources. I haven’t looked back.

Tell us about your portfolio

I partnered on my first BRRRR (buy-rehab-rent-refinance-repeat) deal last year, which is a single-family rental in the Salt Lake City, Utah area. We purchased it for $190K and then rehabbed it by adding 3 bedrooms and 1 bath to make it into a 5 bedroom / 2 bath property. Finally, we refinanced at $265K ARV.

How do you use Stessa to track and manage your properties?

I primarily use Stessa to track my property’s transactions, and to generate financial reports for quarterly review and tax time.

What’s your favorite thing about Stessa?

It’s great being able to centralize all of my transactions with my bank, lender and property management company.  Stessa has a good level of granularity of transaction categories, which is invaluable at tax time.

What’s your best and/or worst real estate investment?

I only have one at this time, so the best part has been the incredible learning experience, both from working with my partner and going through the overall process.  That’s provided me with a certain comfort level and confidence going forward. The worst parts were some of the hard lessons learned regarding the stabilization process and the importance of picking the right property manager.