Passive Investor Spotlight #6: Getting Started in Passive Real Estate Investing – feat. Josh Haslem - Aspen Funds
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Passive Investor Spotlight #6: Getting Started in Passive Real Estate Investing – feat. Josh Haslem

In this passive investor spotlight segment, we talk with successful passive investors about their experiences with private alternative investments. Join Ben Fraser and guest host Ben Brundage as they interview passive investor Josh Haslem. He shares his story from owning a pest control company and going through a successful exit. With this liquidity event, his goal was to turn his cash into cash flow, and becoming a successful passive investor . Tune in to hear more about how he started his investing journey with the Invest Like a Billionaire podcast and how he was able to turn cash into passive income and get it well diversified into different asset classes.

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Passive Investor Spotlight #6: Getting Started in Passive Real Estate Investing feat. Josh Haslem

Josh Haslem

Somehow I found you guys, I’ve, I’ve strained my brain to figure out how did I find Aspen.

And I think that, I think the way that I found it was, I started searching podcasts, other podcasts that I, cuz I wanted to learn all I could, and I found the Invest Like a Billionaire podcast, started to listen to that and it became my favorite by the way. And I don’t just say that because I’m on your big interview, it’s my favorite.

I love it. And so from there I start, I learned about the 2017 Jobs Act. I never knew anything about that. This accredited investor, I’d never even heard of these terms. And I started learning and my eyes were just open. I thought, look at all of these investment opportunities that are available to me. Uh, because I’m, you know, an accredited investor now, and I, I can do all of these things because of the, the Jobs Act.

And so that was kind of the moment where I, I realized, hey, I can take this business, I can sell it at its peak, and I can invest it into all these different passive income streams and I can accomplish what I’m trying to do, get my time back, and then preserve my capital, and of course, replace my income and then hopefully grow it through these passive investments.

Ben Fraser

This is the Invest Like a Billionaire podcast, where we uncover the alternative investments and strategies that billionaires use to grow wealth. The tools and tactics you’ll learn from this podcast will make you a better investor and help you build legacy wealth. Join us as we dive into the world of alternative investments, uncover strategies of the ultra wealthy, discuss economics and interview successful investors.

Looking for passive investments done for you. With Aspen funds, we help accredited invest that are looking for higher yields and diversification from the stock market. As a passive investor, we do all the work for you, making sure your money is working hard for you in alternative investments. In fact, our team invests alongside you in every deal. So our interests are aligned We focus on macro driven alternative investments, so your portfolio is best positioned for this economic environment. Get started and download your free economic report today at invest with aspen dot com slash report.

Welcome back to the Invest Like a Billionaire podcast. I am your cohost Ben Fraser, and today we’re joined by special guest host Ben Brandage. And, uh, very excited to be interviewing Josh Haslem today. Uh, Josh, how are you doing?

Josh Haslem

I’m doing great. Glad to be here.

Ben Fraser

Awesome. So this series, this is our Passive Investor Spotlight series. This is a series in the podcast where we interview passive investors and hear their story, listen, uh, their journey into passive investing and what that’s been like, you know, the wins, the struggles and, uh, challenges and, and really just as a, a means for us all to learn and how we can continue to benefit from other people’s experiences in this journey of passive investing. And so we’ve known Josh for a little bit and just, uh, loved his story and thought it really resonate with a lot of you listeners. And so wanna bring him on and I’m sure you’re gonna pick out some, some golden nuggets and just appreciate his authenticity and some of the things he’s gonna share.

So, Josh, thanks for coming on, man. Tell us a little bit about just your background so people have a context for who you are and how you jumped into this world of passive investing.

Josh Haslem

Sure, sure thing. Yeah, so I’m, I’m 44, um, happily married, have five kids. Uh, I live in Wyoming. Um, I’m here from here.

Originally lived in California for about 20 years and then moved back to Wyoming about five years ago. Um, as far as my background, business wise, um, I’ve owned a pest control company. I started in Modesto, California back in 2003, and I ran that for about 19 years. And loved it, loved, uh, a lot of things about it, hated some things about it, and eventually sold it about a year ago.

Um, and when I did that, I decided I wanted to, to, to get into this whole real estate game. And so I, I went all in. I sold it, and I’ve basically just jumped off both feet and just. Just blew off . And so, um, I’ve been learning everything I can about passive investing and, um, have invested in actual real estate that I hold, syndications, multi-family, self storage, you know, kind of the whole gambit.

Um, mortgage notes, of course with Aspen, gas and oil. Um, I’ve tried to get a little bit of, of everything, but, um, that’s really it in a nutshell. I’m just a blue collar guy. Like I told, uh, Ben. Fraser the other day. I’m just a regular guy, you know, that worked hard and tried to do it right and I was able to build a successful business and sold it at the right time when asset prices for pest control companies were at their peak.

And everything kind of lined up and it worked out. And so now here I am about a, a year into this real estate adventure and it’s, uh, It’s been an adventure. I’ll say that. So that’s kind of it in, in a nutshell.

Ben Fraser

No, I, I love that. I think, you know, you had the, the benefit of having kinda a windfall of cash, um, come into, you know, your possession and, you know, some investors, that’s, that’s how it happens, right?

Is you sell a business or you receive an inheritance, um, which sounds. A great problem to have, but it also does create a problem, right? Which is how do we turn this pile of cash into passive income and get it well diversified into different asset classes? And, and so, so first talk a little bit about what was even the light bulb moment or series of moments that.

You thought that this could potentially be a possibility to, to do this, right? If selling your business and then turning that into, you know, passive income and you kind of, you know, have this, you know, semiretired or financially independent lifestyle. What was the kind of, you know, tell us that journey a little bit.

Josh Haslem

Sure, sure thing. So, so there I was knee deep in my pest control company, right? I loved so much about it. I loved building it. I loved setting goals. I loved growing it. I just, I loved it. It was my life. But the side that I did not like was two things. It took a lot of time. Even though I had a manager, it wasn’t a huge company.

I had 23 employees when I sold, and I had a general manager who did a lot of it. But even with him, it took a lot of my time. My wife and I were at a point in our lives where we wanted to be able to use more of our time for charitable things, humanitarian work, we’re both very active in our church. It takes a lot of our time, so we wanted our time back more than anything.

And then the other thing was employees dealing with employees, especially in California, it’s so hard to find good, good help anywhere really. But there they’re just making it so difficult. And so I started to think about how do I, how do I take this asset, this business that we’ve built, and how do I monetize that and take it and diversify it into something else that’s going to give me more of a passive income, less of an active role, and maybe diversify it so I don’t just have all my eggs in that one basket? That one company, which was a great company, but again, everything was right there tied up in that one company, and so I started to think about it and I don’t know why it took me so long to learn about real estate. I just, I didn’t know anything about real estate and I thought of a friend who I knew that owned single family rental properties in different states, and this was in California, of course, she lived there as well. And I reached out to her and I said, Hey, tell me about this.

Like, what did you like about it? Why are you still doing it? And just, she turned me on to bigger pockets. And so I thought I’d never heard of bigger pockets. So I got on there and I started listening and then all of a sudden, This light bulb moment comes on where I’m just thinking, look at all the benefits, you know, to real estate.

And I just, I can’t believe I didn’t know about this. I can’t believe, I can’t believe my CPA didn’t say something about, Hey, you might wanna buy some real estate and offset all this income that you’re paying these huge tax bills on. Get some depreciation, get some appreciation, and, you know, save yourself a lot of money and grow your wealth.

And so that’s kind of how it started. I started with bigger pockets and then from there I discovered Keith Weinhold his podcast GRE, but they’re mostly into just the single family rental, you know, actual holding real estate. And somehow I found you guys, I’ve, I’ve strained my brain to figure out how did I find Aspen.

And I think that, I think the way that I found it was, I started searching podcasts, other podcasts that I, cuz I wanted to learn all I could, and I found the Invest Like a Billionaire podcast, started to listen to that and it became my favorite by the way. And I don’t just say that because I’m on your big interview, it’s my favorite.

I love it. And so from there I start, I learned about the 2017 Jobs Act. I never knew anything about that. This accredited investor, I’d never even heard of these terms. And I started learning and my eyes were just open. I thought, look at all of these investment opportunities that are available to me. Uh, because I’m, you know, an accredited investor now, and I, I can do all of these things because of the, the Jobs Act.

And so that was kind of the moment where I, I realized, hey, I can take this business, I can sell it at its peak, and I can invest it into all these different passive income streams and I can accomplish what I’m trying to do, get my time back, and then preserve my capital, and of course, replace my income and then hopefully grow it through these.

You know, passive investments. So that, that’s kind of how it all unfolded. And I started planning, you know, making my, my little spreadsheets and I loved to do that kind of stuff to forecast, and that’s why I loved having a business so much. And so that’s kind of how it happened. And then I just, I just pulled the trigger and started investing, you know, with Aspen and some of these other things that I would due diligence on and felt good about and jumped.

Wow. That, that’s kind of how it happened,

Ben Brundage

Josh, that, that’s incredible, really. Uh, just a, just a fun story to listen to. What were some of the things maybe in the beginning as you were getting started? You talk about due diligence. What were you looking for there on the front end? Sure.

Josh Haslem

So I was looking for track record, of course, number one.

One of the things that caught my eye, if I’m gonna use Aspen as an example on the note fund, the track record caught my eye at the time, I think it was 32 straight quarters. They’d never missed a preferred payment, and I just, Is that too good to be true? I mean, is that real? Because it just seems like mailbox money.

It seems so easy, and I realize, you know, there’s, there’s pros and cons to all investments, but to me it seemed like a, a pretty safe. Thing to invest in. It’s backed by real estate. The track record was a big thing. Um, the next thing was the spa, the operators themselves, you know, just, I told Ben the other day, I said something that really made me feel comfortable about Aspen, for example, was, you guys have a podcast.

I was able to listen. I’ve listened to all the episodes and it allowed me to be able to learn. I felt like I, I feel like I know you guys from listening to that podcast and with some of the other things I’ve looked at and tried to do diligence on, if they don’t have a podcast, really the only time I get with them is on the phone.

So it might be one or two conversations, but by listening to a podcast, you really get to kind of know, at least I feel like the personality of the people, what they’re like, the, you know, you can hear their, the genuineness of, of what they’re saying. So that was another big thing. Um, and then, Trying to read through those ppms.

I had no idea what I was looking at. I still feel like, I don’t know what I’m reading half the time, but I would try and read those and go through ’em and I could understand a lot of it. So much of it is you. Attorney jargon that I, I, I don’t understand all of it, but I, the part that I need to understand, I think I kind of, you know, can understand.

And then the last thing was referrals. So I would ask other people, other operators, Hey, have you heard of so and so? What do you think about them? And there were several people I talked to that knew you guys at Aspen and said, those guys are awesome. You know, shout out to the guys at Spartan. The Spartan Storage guys, they told me when I called them and asked them about you guys that they said, Hey, those guys are top tier guys, that it’s a good place to put your money.

So those were kind of the ways that I would try and figure out who should I put my money with. Those are the things that I looked for.

Ben Fraser

Yeah, I, I love to with your story because you’ve already said it, you know, earlier, that you’re one year into this journey, right? Which in a lot of ways, that’s not very long and, um, you’re kind of figuring out as you go along.

But one of the things I love about how you’re doing it is you’re really being intentional with it. You’re really, you’re taking the responsibility to educate yourself. But you’re also comfortable with, Hey, I don’t know everything and I’m gonna kind of go into this and I’m gonna trust my gut. I’m gonna do what I can to, you know, do due diligence.

Um, and. I’m not locked in, you know, I can change my approach over time. I don’t have to. The cool thing about this, there’s so many ways you can slice the pie of allocations, right? And, you know, into real estate, into different asset classes like oil and gas or, you know, active real estate versus passive real estate, you know?

So, you know, with kind of one year into this, what would you say are some of your biggest learnings or takeaways? Both maybe positive and negative. Um, about what you’ve done so far with kind of the deployment journey you’ve been on.

Josh Haslem

Gosh, I feel like I’ve, I feel like I’ve learned so much and I’m sure I’ve made so many mistakes, but I guess some of the things that I’ve taken away is, is what I’ve learned.

You know, before I did this, I had no idea, like I said, that the, these opportunities were even available. And then to go into these opportunities and to know what Class A is in Class B and common equity and preferred equity, I had no idea what any of these things were. And so I feel like I still feel like I’m drinking from a fire hose.

Really . I feel like there’s so much, and like you said, there’s so many. Avenues you can take, you can invest actively, passively. And then within that asset class of real estate, there’s so many subclasses. And so I feel like I’ve learned a lot just in how a syndication works. For example, what a PPM is about, what you can expect or what a proforma is.

I’d never heard the term proforma, you know? And so I feel like I’ve learned a lot of those things. Um, things that I feel like I still need to learn is evaluating risk. I, I still, I still feel like a greeny, you know, a novice when it comes to that. You know, I, I don’t know, , you know, I just do the best that I can and.

Talk to the operator and they’re the expert. And that’s what I like about this, is I can lean on their expertise. For example, you guys, you know, you guys do the diligence. I, I just have to choose people that I trust and know that they’re way better at it than I am. Um, so some of the other takeaways, I’m kind of learning what I like.

To do, and I’m sure it’ll morph as we go along. You know, at first I thought, oh, I’m my fir. When I first learned about this, I thought, I’m gonna put all my money. This is how, this is how dumb or naive that I was. And I’m sure I’ll look back five years from now and think that I’m still naive, but I thought, Ooh, I learned about Memphis, Tennessee, right?

And I said, I’m gonna put all my money into Memphis, Tennessee, and I’m gonna buy a bunch of properties and it’s gonna be great. That’s really what I thought in the beginning. And then luckily I learned one. No, no, that’s not a very smart idea. And so, I just feel like as I go along, it’s going to, it’s gonna change.

You know, I’m learning that I, I like the passive more than the active. It’s just a matter of getting more comfortable with the fact that, is it really as easy as it seems, you know, putting this money to work passively and then just sitting back and letting the operators do it. And, and it, and it is so far, you know, it’s worked, but I just need a little more time under my belt than I think as I get more and more comfortable, I think I’ll shift away from active and go fully passive, because right now I’ve.

40% of my net worth inactive properties that I own out, you know, properties. I own residential and commercial. And then the rest of it is split into these, the passive, passive stuff. So, I dunno if I answered your question fully, but those are kind of some of the things I feel like I learned and some of the things that.

That I’ve taken away from, from it so far. But it, it’s been interesting. I’ll tell you it. Yeah, it’s been great on some counts and other counts. It’s been not very comfortable because it’s so new. I’m only into it a year and, you know, it’s just, it’s foreign to me. Um, not as foreign as it was, you know. I feel like I’ve learned a lot, but it’s still, it’s still new.

I’m, I’m learning. I have so much to learn still.

Ben Fraser

What was kind of your approach on the front end from an allocation standpoint? Right? Did you create any internal rules for yourself of, I’m not gonna invest X dollars or more into any one deal, or I’m not gonna have any X dollars into one market, or with one sponsor, or what were some things that you kind of initially gave yourself some kind of governors or kind of some ways to just, you know, not, not, not too much, too fast, like you’re saying, put it all into Memphis, Tennessee, you know, um, and then, then kind second part of that question.

What’s kind of been the broader allocation strategy? Are you doing mostly multi-family? Mostly single family. Uh, do you feel like you have a healthy balance of a lot of different types of commercial real estate? Do you have any of the public markets? You know, talk a little bit about kinda how you look at your overall, uh, pie as well.

Josh Haslem

Sure. So initially when I thought about how am I going to do this, because that was of the first things I thought is how much do I put where? How do I allocate this? And so I’d listened to people talk about allocation and you know, read about things and thought, okay, me and my wife got together and said, okay, here are some of the ideas.

What should we do? And so kind of our. Our broad, you know, starting point was let’s put about half in active, half in passive, because we had no idea which one we were gonna like better. We’d never done it. So that’s kind of the rule we started off with and we’ve stuck pretty close to that. Like I say, 40% is in, is inactive right now and sums in passive.

And I still have about 18% that’s still in cash, which I know is burning up. But I didn’t want to just deploy it all in the first three months and then think, oh geez, I wish I would’ve known about this. And so somebody told me in the beginning, one of the guys, it might have been you. You guys are the Spartan guys that I talked about or talked to, and they said, Hey, take your time.

Even if it takes you 18 months to deploy it, you know, 12 to 18 months, don’t be in a hurry because you’ll find things that you wish you would’ve waited for because you don’t know anything right now, essentially is what they said you’re gonna, you’ve gotta try and decide. And so that was kind of how I went about it in the beginning.

And then within that, That, um, active side, we figured we’d want mostly residential just because I didn’t know anything about commercial really. I didn’t know anything about either one of ’em, but residential seemed kind of the simple way that most people start. So that’s kind of how we were gonna split.

That was mostly residential, little bit of commercial. And then on the passive side, um, we just wanted to get a good blend. We didn’t really have any set rules other than we didn’t want to put more than 10% of our net worth with any, with any one operator. Um, and even much less in one single deal. I didn’t want to get even close to that in a single deal, but I thought, well, let’s do about 10% with an operator if we’re comfortable with them, and maybe more as time goes on and it grows, as long as we’re putting it into different deals with that operator, we, we’d go above that 10%, I think.

But initially, that’s kind of where we started out.

Ben Fraser

Yeah. I love that. A couple of things you said I think are so, so critical for people that are maybe in a similar journey, uh, in the path of one, don’t put all your eggs in one basket and. You’ve already kind of said this, but over time you’re going to, your perceptions are gonna change.

Your education is going to rapidly increase. There’s a big learning curve, but you can kind of get to a, a good place pretty quickly and there’s always another deal. Right. And I think one of the, one of the challenges that people feel when they first start getting into this world, and it’s like, It’s amazing, right?

There’s so many cool opportunities and cool options and you feel like you don’t wanna miss out anything, right? And so you just wanna put it all in, get it all, all going. But you know, one, you gotta think about liquidity needs and you know, you don’t wanna deploy all your cash cuz you know, a lot of these deals are locked up for a long period of time.

You know? So you have that and then, then two, you. A lot of times you’re gonna have, uh, a different perspective on the deals that you would do a year from now, or two years from now, or five years from now than you did at the beginning. So it’s good to kind of meter your approach as you’re allocating in, um, and not get too aggressive in, in one area.

And then you just, you know, have a diversification across asset classes I think is really, really key because all asset classes behave differently in different economic environments. So you want to create some diversification, right? And, and, um, diversification not just from an operator standpoint, but also from a geographic standpoint and an asset class standpoint.

And so, you know, I, I think a lot of the things that, that you shared are, are some really helpful. Just barometers that you’re trying to, you know, go into this and just, you know, I would encourage any of the listeners that are kind of in a similar position, you know, create some kind of internal guidelines that you’re gonna hold to, you know, they, they, they may.

It doesn’t have rocket science. It doesn’t have to be, you know, you may change it down the road, but hold yourself accountable to them. And it’s great that you’ve kind of brought your wife into this journey. You guys are doing this together, cuz that’s, that’s a huge piece of this puzzle. Um, but like 10%, no more than 10% into any one dealer or anyone operator.

That’s a, I love that. You know, it’s just a natural way to kind of create a little bit more, um, Diversification and, and making sure that things are gonna happen the way that you want them to happen. So,

Josh Haslem

it is hard though, I’ll tell you, Ben, because I, you know, like I say, where I’m very comfortable with you guys and a couple others, I, I wanna just put it all there, you know, and say, ah, forget it.

These guys are great. I’m just gonna put it all here. So it’s hard to kind of, Try and stick to those rules. But you did bring up some other things that we also did on our, you know, I have this whole spreadsheet where I’ve got all these things that, where it’s allocated. And that was another thing we looked at was geographics too.

We wanted, we wanted geographic diversification as well, besides the different asset classes. And then we did look at different hold periods and try and split it up to where some of them were three to five years, and some were five to seven and some are seven to 10. You know, as far as the syndications that we invested in.

And then of course you have the note funds and debt funds, and those are, A year to maybe three depending. So I think we got a pretty good mix of time horizons, um, asset classes. I, I feel pretty good about it, you know, it’s like I told you the other day, I just hope it all works. , but so far so good.

Ben Fraser

So are you, are you focused mostly on like your investment objectives?

Are you looking more for income or for growth? More for a hybrid. Um, when you’re doing, you know, these different types of deals, Kind of depends on the deal. And have you kind of been able to replace your income? Um, and, uh,

Josh Haslem

so far, yeah. I, I have actually been able to replace my income, which I was kind of surprised because I, when I sold the business, I took a chunk of money.

I took, I mean, I know this is way ultra conservative, but it’s how I am. I took two years worth of living and put it in an account, and I’m not touching that. That’s our, I’m calling it our two year fund, you know, in case it takes that long to get stuff back up. And it didn’t, we didn’t have to hardly touch that, you know, by the time we started investing and I was able to replace my income.

And so to answer your question, my objective, it’s both. Um, my immediate need, of course was I need to replace my income because I sold my company. And, um, that was my main source of income. So that was my first objective was cash. I need, I need cash. And that’s one of the things that attracted me to the note fund, for example, was it was like mailbox money.

It’s a set percent, it’s ach into my, my account every month, like clockwork. I don’t have to worry about it. Um, and then of course I wanted some diversification. I wanted to invest in some other things that would give me some appreciation. And so with our passive, Investments. We’ve kind of done about 75% allocated to Class B generally where we’re getting, you know, a lower preferred return.

But we’re getting appreciation. We’re getting, we’re getting some of the disposition proceeds when they refinance or sell. And so I feel like that’s, that’s gonna grow as well as my active holdings. That’s my appreciation side between those two all get some good appreciation. And then we’ve got about 25% in Class A, which of course, No upside, but I get more of that, you know, predictable cash flow.

So I’m going for a hybrid. I need to replace my income, of course, which I’ve done. But again, I want it to grow too, because if my money stays the same 20 years from now and I have that same amount of money, well it’s worth a lot less, even if I have the same amount of money. Right. So it needs to grow. So I’ve.

I’ve gone after a hybrid strategy, which I, I think is, I think we’re in pretty good spot. ask me in five years,

Ben Fraser

, we probably, will I bring you back on? How did it all work? So, so you talked about this a little bit, but I think one of the biggest, um, you know, challenges for people starting out is, where do I find.

The best investment opportunities. Right. Do I just go off the guy I heard on the radio or I saw on cnbc, on the, on the, you know, commercials. Uh, do I go talk with Uncle Jim, who I know has been doing some flips for a couple years? You know, what, what was kind of that process of, so, you know, going, educating yourself on bigger pockets, listening to podcasts, but talk a little bit about, you know, what.

The ways that you’ve found the opportunities and then, you know, maybe give us an example of maybe the most unique way that you’ve, you’ve found an opportunity.

Josh Haslem

Sure, yeah. I found most of them researching on my own, you know, trying to find. Through podcasts. Or another thing I would do is I would find these real estate trade shows, and I would go on their site and I would see who are the speakers on here, and I would look at them and then I’d go look up their websites and I’d read about ’em.

And then anytime I’d call an operator, I would always ask them at the end, Hey, have you heard of this guy? Have you heard of this? This firm? You know much about ’em just just because it seems like a lot of you guys. Know each other, you know, the, the good guys seem to know each other and, and they speak very highly of one another.

So that’s a way that I found deals and I would ask operators that I’ve invested with. Hey, do you have any other opportunities that you would recommend to me that don’t compete with what you do? You know, whether it’s, say you guys at the note fund. You know, sending me to a, a self storage person or whatever it is, you know, something that doesn’t necessarily compete with you.

And I had some good luck that way. I discovered Vera Vest, I think on a podcast. Mm-hmm. . Um, they’re good to go on and look and you can see if, you know, people are, are being monitored by them, if they have a gold rating, whatever the rating is. So you can kind of get an idea of, um, some, some opportunities there.

Most of it was just that way, research and then just asking and then looking up, like I say, those trade show speaker lists and, and just going and trying to learn what I could and then just calling them. I spent a lot of time on the phone talking to these guys, which I felt like was such, so valuable. It was a free education that they would take time and tell me what they know and explain the deal to me and answer my questions.

And so I, I really appreciate, you know, the time that they took because some of ’em, I didn’t, most of ’em, I didn’t invest with them. You know, there’s just a few that I picked. That I felt the best about as far as the most unique, um, I thought about this and it’s probably, so I serve as the bishop of my congregation in my church, and every year there’s something called tithing declaration where the, the members of the congregation, they come and meet with me, they’re bishop.

And they declare to me if they’re full tithe payers or not. It’s just something they, and they don’t have to do it. It’s their choice. And so I had this couple in my congregation come to me and they, and we’re meeting, and of course we’re at church, right? This is on a Sunday. I don’t do business on a Sunday

And we’re talking and, you know, we’re just kind of chit chatting afterwards. And they asked me, they knew I sold my business and, and I, I had just sold my business about a month before this, cause this was back almost a year ago. And, We got talking about real estate and they said, oh, well we have a fourplex in Rexburg, Idaho that we were gonna sell.

And I said, oh, really? And I said, well, tell me a little bit about it. And so they did. And so we made the deal right there. I said, what do you wanna sell it for? What are the rents? Okay, let’s do it. I’ll buy it. I’ll buy it cash. We won’t use a realtor. Let’s do it. And within two weeks the deal was closed, it was done.

And that was my. My first one that I went and bought like that, and it was, it was very interesting how it just kind of, you know, landed in my lap and it’s, it’s been, it’s been great so far. So that was probably the most unique way. That’s awesome. I wasn’t even looking for it.

Ben Fraser

. I, I love it. I, I think, so that’s what you said there is really helpful because one of the biggest challenges is, we’re kinda getting into it, is getting the deal flow, getting just to be able to look at deals and if you start looking at.

You’re gonna start, the more and more you look at, the more ppms you can read, the more people you talk to, the, it’s just this knowledge builds and it grows and you get smarter and smarter and you see things you didn’t see before. And so I, I always encourage people to just do as much as you can on the front end before you, you know, invest a dime and.

Get as much, uh, exposure as you can to as many operators, as many investment opportunities because you’re gonna really start to pick up certain things. And I love one of the things you said, which I, you’re one of the only people that I remember jumping on a phone call with you, or maybe, maybe Ben did.

And you’re asking about other operators, which I hadn’t had anybody else ever do that, but you’re exactly right. You know, we have our own money and we’re investing our own deals. We’re also investing with some other operators that we know and we’ve, you know, we’ve done some diligence and we’ve known ’em and, and, uh, so it’s actually, I love that because I think it is, um, something that not a lot of people have done.

At least I’ve never experienced that. And, uh, you know, I’ve shared some things that I don’t share openly, but I’m comfortable even in a one-on-one conversation and, um, you can get some great recommendations that way. So I, I love that you, you did that or you thought of that because it’s, it’s definitely true.

A lot of these things happen through networks, right? And people, people know people and, you know, the good people generally tend to, you know, flock together and, um, and there’s a lot smaller circles that you kind of get into it than you initially maybe imagine There are.

Josh Haslem

They do. And I feel like it, I feel like just feedback from, you know, an investor to you guys.

I feel like when, when I talked to you the first time and I, and I asked you about those, the fact that you would give me those referrals told me a lot about you. And you also told me, you said, don’t put all your money with us. Because I talked to other operators, they didn’t say that they wanted as much as I would give them, they didn’t care.

And I crossed them right off the list. It’s like, I’m, I’m not gonna deal with you and you guys, that was one of the thing you told me, don’t put, you know, don’t put too much with one person. You don’t have to hurry and do it right now. And yeah, here are some other people that we’ve worked with and, or, no, I haven’t heard about these guys, but that really, it really bought trust.

It made me trust you guys more that you were willing to do that. I knew that you would, were honest, and it just showed integrity and I just appreciated it. Yeah,

Ben Brundage

well, even, even coming from the investor relations side, I think for us that’s a telltale sign that you would ask these questions, that you would set these limits for yourself.

That speaks volumes about the investor, but also for us, it gets us excited when you’re asking, um, questions about who do you go to? Um, how much should I put in, in this deal in particular, here’s my kind of strategy. Um, because that’s, that’s telling us that you’re really serious about this investment for the long term, that you’re a serious investor for the long term.

And we’re absolutely happy sharing other operators that are out there who we really trust and believe in, because in all honesty, We’re here to steward capital. We’re here to operate the business and, and keep things going. But at the end of the day, we’re not here to just take your money. We, we really care about the deal.

We really care about the relationship. That’s what’s important to us. And we care about you. We want you to be diversified. We want you to be thriving into the future. And so connecting you with people, uh, and other operators out there is, is a joy

Josh Haslem

to us. It’s much appreciated. For sure.

Ben Fraser

So Josh, who would you say are in kind of your inner circle?

Right? So talking about networks, talking about, you know, so much of, um, Things that are good come through referrals, right? Or at least, you know, whether that’s a fault of human nature or a benefit. You know, it’s probably a different, different circumstances. But, you know, we, we like to band together. We like to be around people that are in similar, uh, compositions to bounce things off of.

So who, who do you kind of have in your inner circle?

Josh Haslem

So I’ll tell you, it’s not a very big circle because I, I’m so new still. I feel like I, I have my cpa, I talk to him quite a bit, um, and my. I don’t have a financial advisor. I don’t have. There’s an attorney that I’ve sent some ppms to, but I don’t really discuss with him a whole lot.

Prob I probably should. This again shows how rookie I am. I’m just a regular guy, and so I don’t have a very big team. I mean, I would even, I would say you guys are in my inner circle. I, I feel like I trust, you know, I trust you guys. I’ve invested in several of your things. In fact, I have probably 8% of my net worth invested with Aspen so far, and so I would include you guys in that.

I feel like you guys bring a deal to me. I, I, I trust it. You’ve done the diligence and so you guys, and there’s maybe a couple other operators, probably two that I can think of that I might say are close to being there, but I would say it’s, it’s mostly me, my wife, my cpa. I, that’s about it. I don’t, I don’t have a mastermind that I belong to.

You know, that was one of the questions maybe that we were gonna talk about. And I, uh, I don’t know, I, maybe this is wrong of me, but I feel like somebody that’s trying to sell me a mastermind that costs money, I feel like, Why are you selling me that? You know, are you not very good at what you do? And so you’re having to sell masterminds and that’s probably wrong.

They’re probably just saying, Hey, we wanna share what we know. And, but I, it just kind of turned me off. And, and financial advisors, I feel like a lot of them, they make a commission based on pushing what is in their best interest and not mine. And I heard your dad say it on a podcast when I was listening to one of your podcasts.

He said, basically, nobody will take care of your money like you will, you know, nobody’s gonna care like you will. And I thought, That’s true, but I definitely probably don’t have the smarts that a financial advisor does. And so I just kind of had to weigh that, you know, what do I do? And I, I opted to not go with one.

And that may cost me a lot in the long run, I don’t know. But as far as my inner circle, it’s not very big. So that, that’s it so far, maybe that will change as I, as I go along. So, yeah,

Ben Fraser

absolutely. I, I think it’s, you know, Not to knock on financial advisors, but you’re exactly right. You’re, you’re, no one’s ever gonna care about the money that you’ve worked hard to, to steward and to build the, the new, right?

And whether you use a financial advisor or not is actually not the main point. The main point is what I find in talking with people a lot of times is they delegate out the responsibility to their wealth and growing their wealth and investing to the financial. Right. And that, that’s, that’s a bad position to be in because they, they don’t care as much as you.

And a lot of times there is a conflict of interest and or there’s just a misalignment, right? Because they get paid for how much money that they manage for you. And it’s not to say they’re even on to say that they are, you know, running a conspiracy, but there’s a natural misalignment. So you have to, uh, you know, challenge that.

And you also, um, We have, you know, a lot of investors with, uh, that invest with us that do use financial advisors, but they use ’em for certain things, right? Or, you know, they want expertise in a certain area like the state plane or asset protection, or they do want some managed money in the stock market, right?

It’s, it’s, uh, it’s fine to have some balance, but the bigger issue is having that, the responsibility. I think a lot of it, what it comes down to, what we’ve found is people don’t feel. Smart enough that they, they have the resources they need to make decisions to feel comfortable. And, and unfortunately, a lot of what the financial industry has done has created a dependence mindset to where, you know, all the marketing is, Hey, this is so complicated.

All these, these ETFs and these, these mutual funds and everything, and you know, we’re gonna create this big elaborate scheme for you. And no one, no one. Can understand it all right? And so it creates this, this noise and it creates this challenge for people to feel like they can do it, right? And so one of the things that we, we work with an advisor group, um, and their whole pitch and their angle is defending the do it yourself investor, right?

And they act, they act more actually like a, a, a, uh, personal CFO than just a central advisor because they, they say, you’re the one in charge of your money. We’re gonna be a sounding board for you. And we’re gonna help give you some ideas and advice, but if you wanna do a deal that’s your prerogative and we’re gonna help you make sure it’s just set up right.

So, um, I, I love, you know, your perspective on this and, and I love too that it might change over time, right? But the, the primary thing is you feel like you’re the driver’s seat. You’re the one that can, um, you know, make these decisions and you’re having the confidence to stand by them, whether, you know, five years from now you’re right or you’re wrong, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s gonna be a better position than fully leaving it to somebody else.


Josh Haslem

I can guarantee that and I almost feel like the financial advisor, if you wanna call him that is the operators of the deal themselves. You know, like, yeah. It’s one other thing I forgot to mention when I’m looking for an operator, I don’t know how I forgot this, but skin in the game, how much are they putting into the deal if they’re putting their own money into the deal, you know, and it’s substantial.

That gives me a lot of confidence too, and I feel. They’re, they’re experts in what they do. So in that sense, you know, they’re kind of the financial advisor, I mean, in that asset class. And so you kind, it comes down to you have to trust people in the end, right? You just have to, you have to, you have to figure out who you trust, who you feel good about, look at their track record, and if they’re investing to, you know, they’re, you’re, you’re aligned, you know, in your goals and, and you just have to pull the trigger

Ben Fraser

and do it

I love it. All right, so some of the final questions, here’s kind of the, the fun ones, but, um, you know, what’s. You know, the question is, what’s been the best investment you’ve made over the past decade, but as you’re kind of new to this, what’s maybe what’s maybe your, your favorite investment that you’ve made so far, or one of the most unique ones, or, um, something that you feel the most confident in, you know, and you don’t have to give, you know, say an Aspen deal cuz we’re on the thing.

But just anything that you would say would be kind of, you know, right now is one of your favorites or things you’re kind of excited about.

Josh Haslem

Gosh, that’s hard to pick because I’m excited about several of them. One that I’m probably pretty excited about actually, because it’s similar to owning a business, is car Wash Syndications.

So I’ve invested in one of those, not a lot, but enough to just kind of, let’s see where this goes. Yeah, I like it because I miss owning a business. I’ll tell you that. I miss it. It’s, it’s been. There’s been days where I really, I miss certain things about it. I don’t miss the employees and managing ’em.

That was hard. But I miss a lot of the, the goal setting and, you know, watching it grow and getting great reviews from customers and trying to be the best you can be in your market. Um, so I do miss that. Um, and that’s why I like the car wash indication because it’s, it’s a little more similar to a business, you know, it’s real estate mixed with a business and I like the two together.

And so, Probably that, but I mean, I’m excited about a lot of ’em, self storage. I, I love the notes how automatic they are. I, I, debt funds. I’ve been looking at private, um, you know, private lending. So probably those, um, one that I feel like I don’t know a lot about, that I’ve invested a little bit that I’m excited to learn more about is oil and gas.

I feel like that’s something I just don’t know much about at all. But I’m, I’m of course invested in one of your guys’ deals and it’s gone great so far. So I’d like to learn more about that. But those are the ones I’m probably most excited.

Ben Fraser

What about the, the flip side of that? What, what are some of the ones that maybe aren’t going as, as well as you hope they would have?

Uh, maybe it’s too early to say, but you don’t have any, but whether it’s active or passive, um, and maybe what’d you learn from that?

Josh Haslem

Well, one thing I’ve learned from active is I don’t think I’ll want to do that long term just because. It’s, it’s almost like I traded employees for tenants, you know, on the properties that I own.

Hey, the toilets broke and I have a property manager, but still she’s gotta call me and say, Hey, the tenant said this. What do you want to do? And so I feel like I’m still managing something. And so, like I say, as I get comfortable, I think I’ll kind of go away from that. I’ve learned that. I don’t know that I really want to deal with that side of it.

Uh, just, it takes time. I want my time back more than anything. You know, I want to have my time back. And so the other thing that I. I feel like I won’t invest again in is, and some people probably will disagree with me on this, I’m sure a lot will, is the stock market. Um, I’m not a fan of the public markets.

Um, I invested in them, you know, some, and of course lost a bunch, uh, because of the way the stock market’s been. And I don’t like that it’s so tied to people’s emotions. Uh, that’s what I like about real estate. It’s backed by something I can go and touch and feel and see. And not, uh, you know, Bitcoin is another one I invested a little bit in and geez, that was, I’m glad it wasn’t very much because it has just tanked, what was it now?

Like 16 five or something. I mean, it was up to 60 something and it’s just, it’s just tanked. I thought about investing in one of those Bitcoin funds. I’m so glad I didn’t do that, at least at this point. Um, so those are the ones probably that I wouldn’t, uh, that, that I’d say are probably. Poorest investments.

And you’re right, I haven’t done it long enough to really know. Um, but if I had to choose, I’d say stock market and Bitcoin are two that I, I won’t be investing in in the future. Yeah, I like private.

Ben Fraser

Yeah. Well, Josh, this is so fun and I, I really appreciate you just being transparent, right? And this is an evolving journey and you’re so open about it.

And, uh, but I really do think it’s gonna help a lot of people, right? Because there are a lot of people on this boat, and like the light bulb moments are happening all over of, Hey, I want to get into real estate. I wanna get into passive investing. These, these deals are really awesome and it’s, it’s better than, than in a lot of ways this, the public markets.

And I, I just appreciate you sharing kind of where you’re at and. And it’s a, an evolving journey, but you’re, you’re doing it the right way, you’re asking the right questions, you’re being strategic in how you’re deploying it, you’re using good discipline and you’re, you know, putting all your effort into it.

And it’s, I think it’s gonna pay off, uh, big time down the road. So thanks so much. Any kind of final, final thoughts to leave with our listeners as they, you know, maybe in a similar position? They were, they were, they’re Josh Haslem a year ago. What would you say to them?

Josh Haslem

I would say don’t let fear. Make your decisions for you, because that was something that I really had to fight through, was fear and anxiety.

Here. I’d worked my whole life, basically my working life to build this company, and I sold it. I only get to do that once. It took me almost 20 years to build that. I knock doors. I mean, I worked so hard to build that. And so then here you have this money and there’s the temptation to hold onto it and just, no, I’ll just hold onto it and make it stretch as long as I can, and that that’s foolish, but it’s a fight to overcome that.

And so I would just say don’t let. Make your decisions for you. I mean, get out there and find the people you trust and take a shot on ’em. That, that’s what you’ve gotta do. And I know I’ll be glad. I, I mean, I know I’ll look back on this five years from now and say, wow, I’m so glad that I did that, you know, that I, I got my time back and look, it worked out great and I’m sure it will have grown and it’ll be wonderful, you know, but there’s those moments where you, you wonder, is this gonna work?

You know, I’m, I’m afraid I’m, I’ve got anxiety about this. , you have to overcome those. Just move forward. You know, don’t, just don’t stand still. That’s what I would say is just, just take the step. Take the leap. I mean, obviously you do your diligence right? Don’t just gamble. But once you’ve done that and made the decision, just go forward and don’t second guess yourself, because it’s easy to do.

Ben Fraser

I love that. Well, we’ll go ahead and we’ll, we’ll schedule your next interview for five years from now and , I’m excited for that one.

Josh Haslem

Hopefully I’m not working at a McDonald’s flipping burgers. Ben, I lost it all. . Awesome.

Ben Fraser

Well, Josh, thank you so much. It’s been been a joy to get to chat with you a little bit and I’m sure our listeners enjoy this as well.

And, uh, we do appreciate you all listen. You are enjoying the show, you know, please do leave a review or share it with our friend and family member. It’s, you know, really helps us continue to get the word out about these awesome types of investments and help educate investors about, uh, what’s out there.

So thanks so much and, uh, join us again for the next show.

Josh Haslem

Thank you guys.

Ben Brundage

Thanks Josh.


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