Expand Your Wealth Virtually

Article by:
Brent Barker, EO Dallas
Brent Barker
EO Dallas

Brent Barker is the Marketing Partner of Emerging Markets of North America, a company that specializes in the acquisition, development and marketing of large condominium-conversion properties. He has been an EO member for less than a year and plans to run for US Congress in 2012.

Though my entrepreneurial background was formed in the service industry, I have always been open to new ways and opportunities to expand my wealth. I think that is one of the reasons many of us join EO. For me, an introduction to another EO member brought such an opportunity.

When I met Phil Carroll, EO Arizona, we quickly became amazing friends. During one of our friendly chats, I asked him about what he did, and he told me a little about the condominium business and how he helped investors build “virtual apartment buildings” (VABs). Phil had owned and operated public companies, manufactured products and cultivated this interesting concept of owning a virtual apartment building. He made a lot of sense and was a proven performer. After a little investigation, I decided to take a stab at creating my own VAB. I did just what my father always advised: “Study what the most successful people do and then go out and do the same thing.”

Here’s how it works
The idea is to buy freehold, deeded condominiums that were converted from top-notch apartments in high-growth real estate markets. This is not necessarily a new idea, except that this vertically integrated approach involves acquisition, renovation, property management and marketing. The investor can focus on the VAB’s regional design and cash flow without the time-consuming activities of buying a property, making repairs and finding a tenant. Finding time to drive by on a Sunday to see if the house is still standing is not my idea of fun.

 This is not a buy-and-flip, get rich quick scheme. It is a buy-and-hold wealth building plan. Each suite is renovated, has a property manager on site and has a long-term tenant. The effortless nature of the process was amazing. I started by buying a few suites in each new project. My VAB started growing, and in a short amount of time, I had accumulated a significant number of properties. It was simple. My lease income deposits are made electronically by the property manager, and my mortgage debt service is drawn off of the same account by my mortgage companies. I was on my way to having my own virtual apartment building— pretty cool for a fitness guy. 

Better yet, in just a few short years, I increased my net worth by a couple million and had to leverage only about 10% of that to make it work. I now have the foundation to continue the build-up of my virtual apartment building. My goal is to have a 40-suite VAB when I reach my retirement years. My VAB promises to continue being an appreciating asset because the cities where my individual suites exist have growing population figures that exceed 100% during the next 20 years.

I love my virtual apartment building. I get to provide a great living environment for my tenants, the VAB will help provide the lifestyle I want and I have fun building it. Moreover, if I can build a virtual apartment building while maintaining a balance with family, work and exercise, so can you!

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