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    The Rocket Your Dollar Podcast
    The Rocket Your Dollar Podcast

    The power of Self-Directed investing—explained.

    Thomas Young:
    Hi everyone. Welcome back to the Rocket Your Dollar podcast. Today I have Kim Wilkin with me. Kim is a platinum top 50 realtor in Austin, and she is in the top 3% of realtors in the city, which is an incredible achievement with the boom that we’ve had in real estate in this town. She’s built an incredible business and lifestyle with her real estate career as well as her passive income investments. She currently invests in longterm rentals and syndicated funds as well as alternative investments. With the time and financial freedom that her real estate career provides, Kim travels the world, sharing her laid back luxury travel experiences on her YouTube channel, The Abundant Traveler, and with The Abundant Traveler, Kim wants to inspire young and old people alike to buy that plane ticket, pack their bags, and get out and see the world. Kim, thank you so much for being with us today.

     

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    Kim Wilkin:
    Thank you so much for having me. I’m so grateful to be here and I love what you guys are doing. I think that self-directed IRAs is self-directing your wealth, and is the way to go.

    Thomas Young:
    Absolutely. And thank you for that soundbite. That was great.

    Kim Wilkin:
    It’s true.

    Thomas Young:
    But you know, I’m curious, I want to touch on so many things from your career in real estate as a realtor to your investments, to what your goals with all that was. But let’s just go back to the beginning and tell me about how you got into real estate and where you got your start.

    Kim Wilkin:
    My original start, my grandparents were investors in Kansas, in a city that had military. And so my grandfather would go in and offer to assume the loan of someone in the military that was being positioned or moved somewhere else. So they ended up with 20—25 rental properties. And so I just knew that my grandmother was a teacher and my grandfather had a little installation company, and they built their wealth through real estate. I’ve just always known that real estate for me is the real way to create wealth.

    Thomas Young:
    Yeah and that makes sense. And was your first foray into real estate individually? Obviously, you’ve been in the game with your family, it sounds like, but what drove you to be a realtor and step into that realm?

    Kim Wilkin:
    So I became an investor in Austin during the great recession. I started investing in Austin at the end of ’08 and in ’09, and I was in the wine business at the time, but I was just wanting to invest in Austin real estate. I’ve always known the city is vibrant, alive, passionate, growing, innovative, entrepreneurial. I knew that the city would grow even during the recession. So I started investing and then in 2012 I sold the wine business and I thought, “Hmm, what am I going to do now?” Well, I already had investments in real estate, and I love to guide and I love to teach, and I thought the best thing I can do is have the quote-unquote insider trading become a licensed professional in the real estate industry. So I started as an investor and then became a licensed realtor. So I have a little different perspective on being a realtor than the average person, I come from a business background as well as an investor background.

    Thomas Young:
    Yeah, and I love that because it seems to me a lot of the realtors that I’ve spoken with, they realize how great of an investment real estate is after they’ve been on the inside, like you just mentioned. Then that’s when they get excited about making their own investments, but the fact that you came about it, I won’t say the backward way, but sort of a very informed way, right? Where you were already investing in real estate, you already knew what to look for and getting into the realtor space just accelerated that for you and gave you firsthand access to the best deals probably.

    Kim Wilkin:
    Absolutely. The longterm rentals that I have are my wealth, it’s my retirement, the realtor income is my daily income. So there’s the active and more passive style income that I have and both fit in the real estate platform, in the real estate world for me.

    Thomas Young:
    Right. No, that makes sense, and are all of your investments in the Austin area?

    Kim Wilkin:
    Nope. I have some in Fort Worth and I still have a house in Alabama that I used to live in and I’m doing a cash-out re-fi right now on some of them so I can buy some more. I’m looking in the Austin area as well as surrounding areas in Texas just because of the vibrancy of the state.

    Thomas Young:
    Yeah, I mean, I’m in Austin as well and I got here in 2012 as a college student. I was an incoming sophomore at the University of Texas, and I had a few friends whose parents... They knew that their kid was going to UT and so they started looking for small condos to buy in North campus or West campus. Man, I wish I’d seen that in 2012, not that I could have bought it, but maybe told someone I knew that it was going to... From even from 2012 to now, what Austin has done has been incredible and it continues.

    Kim Wilkin:
    Yes, the vibrancy is here. I just read an article that says Austin is supposed to gain population by about 80% in the next 20 years, which means everybody needs housing. And for me, residential is the type of real estate I work in on my own. And I do some syndicated things in commercial, but it’s not my expertise. I let the experts take care of that through the syndicated funds, and then I do residential on my own.

    Thomas Young:
    Okay. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And it’s... I mean we also come across that a lot that you want to stick to what you know well and then let other people handle the parts that you want exposure to. But if you’ve been in residential your whole career, that’s your bread and butter. Jumping into commercial, I mean it’s real estate, but it’s like changing industries.

    Kim Wilkin:
    It is very much so. I depend on my colleagues who are experts in commercial, if I want to pass on a client or if I want to dip my toe in commercial at all, I reach out to someone else who’s an expert in that area.

    Thomas Young:
    Right. And that’s something that we love at Rocket Dollar because you have so much control with these accounts and you can do whatever you want, that doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to be doing all of these things on your own. Right? It just means you have access to your money, but it’s always better to, for example, if you’re doing your first residential deal, it’s always better to be a partner with someone that has experience, that has done it instead of just going out, and just because you have a few hundred grand sitting in your IRA that you have a checkbook to now, it doesn’t mean you should go write a check for the first house down the street that you see. I mean, you really want to be thoughtful.

    Kim Wilkin:
    And you want a great team around you. You want your contractors, if you’re just an investor, you want your realtor, you want your contractors, you want your guys, you want the whole team, you want your financing guys. If you have to finance, you want Rocket Dollar because that’s where your IRA is. So it’s extremely important to have a full team, and it’s that way with every industry. You don’t go in blind.

    Thomas Young:
    Absolutely. Of course, we’re self-directed providers, but we’re also building a lot of tech. That was something for me that I’ve been very fortunate to have is that I’m not a tech person. I knew the product, but for example, Rick, our other co-founder, he’s a tech guy. We started with a strong team of people that knew the right people. It wasn’t just three of us that we’re going to build it, but we knew how to surround ourselves, and that’s been a... We’ve been very fortunate with our team so far and yeah, you can’t do it alone.

    Kim Wilkin:
    Yeah, absolutely. And I love watching what y’all are doing and I love the fact that you guys are putting it out there because a lot of people don’t understand self-directed. They didn’t know it wasn’t even a possibility. So it’s great that you guys are putting that out there. It’s been more beneficial for everybody here.

    Thomas Young:
    Well, thank you. Yeah, it’s for sure. And it’s a fun challenge for us, when we show up every day to work to go we know the power of these accounts, we know how great it is, we know all these things, but how do we in a way convince people that this is real, that they can do this, that they can go work with a realtor like yourself to go buy an investment property, and do all these things. There’s a lot of information that some of these big providers give you, that you just resign your IRA or 401k money to mutual funds because that’s what they preach. That’s how they make their money.

    Kim Wilkin:
    That’s all I knew growing up.

    Thomas Young:
    Right. Well, it still is that way today for the majority of people. But yeah, that’s why we’re here. So I’m curious, in your work as a realtor, how many... And we can talk specifically about Austin just because it’s where we’re at. Are you seeing that a lot of the new home purchases are investors that are coming in? Or is it still a lot of people coming in from California that are buying a house because they’re moving or what do you see in the space right now?

    Kim Wilkin:
    Right now there, we have a really low inventory in there. A lot of people who are looking for first homes, the typical first home buyer, first time home buyer. There are also investors coming from California, they’re investors coming from overseas a lot. We’re starting to... Currently, we’re starting to see institutional money coming into Austin. The institutional money has been in other cities in Texas, but it’s starting to hit Austin as well. And so it’s quite a crazy market for our buyer right now. You’re having to hustle, it’s all about relationships and you’re having to find things behind the scenes a lot of the time to make sure that your buyers, whether they’re investors or just a regular person moving up, or the first time home buyer if they’re going to find something, you have to have your ear to the ground right now. It’s just crazy and it’s busy, but if you’re selling, it’s a great market if you’re selling right now.

    But we’re seeing people from all over the world coming into Austin, we’ve had enough articles written about how amazing a market is, how amazing our city is that we’re one of the best tech cities, we’re a state Capitol, we have the large university, we have everything in this city to be vibrant and alive and people notice. So...

    Thomas Young:
    Absolutely. I mean, I am, am one of the biggest cheerleaders and I have to stop telling people from out of town how great it is. You know, because it’s-

    Kim Wilkin:
    But it is.

    Thomas Young:
    It’s hard not to, right?

    Kim Wilkin:
    Yeah. It’s a vibrant city. It always has been. Even back in the late 80’s when I moved here and it was in a really, Austin was in a bad financial way. It was still alive. The city was still alive even then. So we had nothing but Tex Mex and barbecue back then.

    Thomas Young:
    Right, no, and now we have, gosh, sea urchin foam or whatever. It’s crazy. So obviously, it sounds like your passion project or your passion is travel and what you’ve done with The Abundant Traveler has been cool, but give us a breakdown about what it is and what you’re doing with that YouTube channel.

    Kim Wilkin:
    I have always been a traveler. I moved overseas when I was 22, with $300 in my pocket, and a one-way plane ticket. I told my parents I was coming back in six months and I came back in five and a half years. So I lived by the seat of my pants with the clothes on my back and ended up living in Europe for five and a half years. Ever since then I have... I’ve always been a traveler. It’s what thrills me, drives me. I love to see new people, cultures, see new things, experience new things. I love third world countries and I like to get my feet in the dirt. I love all styles of travel, but I love third world countries. Some of my favorite countries are Botswana, and Vietnam, and Nepal. So I started The Abundant Traveler because people were always asking me, “Kim, where should I go? What should I do? Where should I see? Who should I call? What kind of place should I stay in?”

    I thought, “I love sharing the information, why not create a platform where I can share to a wider audience?” And in real estate, I can touch about 2,000,000 people because that’s the population of Austin right now, with The Abundant Traveler and the YouTube channel, I can touch everybody on the internet if they’re willing to listen. So if I can encourage people to travel, and see the world, and experience new cultures and new people, then I’m in. I’m in. I chose YouTube because my demographic is... And I mean over the age of 25 I just had a big, big, big birthday, 50, and generally people in their 40’s, and 50’s, and 60’s are not on YouTube yet. So I’m building a platform before them getting there. When they finally arrive, I’ll have great content that encourages my personal demographic to go to exotic locations. It’s all about sharing and hoping that people do go out and buy that plane ticket, have the courage, you can find the money, you can find the time, just have the courage and go out and see the world. It’s an amazing place, 197 countries or something like that today.

    Thomas Young:
    Absolutely. You just said something that I found funny is you approached the platform that you picked, sort of like a real estate investor approaches a new area, in that they’re not there yet, but buy where they’re going to be. That’s just funny that you’ve mentioned that, but it makes perfect sense.

    Kim Wilkin:
    For the future, not to the past.

    Thomas Young:
    Absolutely. Yeah, if it was the past you’d probably be on Facebook.

    Kim Wilkin:
    Yep, but my demographic is still on Facebook. We’re just now migrating to Instagram. So, we’ll get there.

    Thomas Young:
    That’s funny, no, it’s funny. I mean, just sort of a sidebar. YouTube has been huge for a long time obviously, but I feel like it’s having a moment. I feel like it’s having another big moment and there are so many creators on it doing all sorts of different types of content. I love it. I love hearing about all different sorts of people that you wouldn’t necessarily hear from if they needed a book deal, or a TV deal, or a whatever. It’s just a great place to share ’you.’

    Kim Wilkin:
    Yep. I don’t know of another place that someone can reach like 3.5 billion people at once.

    Thomas Young:
    Right.

    Kim Wilkin:
    Some people don’t read English, some people don’t, can’t read. Some people just want to consume what they can see. Some people only want to consume what they can hear. And YouTube is... I mean, it’s just the ideal platform and the world’s going to video. We want to see each other. We want to touch each other without touching each other.

    Thomas Young:
    Right.

    Kim Wilkin:
    So there’s more connection if I can look you in the eyes.

    Thomas Young:
    Absolutely. We spoke about that, and I mean we’re recording via a Zoom call, but we talked about that before we even started recording about whether we were going to have the video on or off. And it just, even this sort of technology is really fun because we’re both in Austin, but you could be anywhere in the world right now and we could be having this conversation, and I could be seeing you and you can be seeing me. We’ve never seen each other before.

    Kim Wilkin:
    That’s correct. Yeah, it’s pretty amazing. The technology is amazing. The video is extremely important.

    Thomas Young:
    Absolutely. So I’m curious when did you start The Abundant Traveler? When did you post your first video?

    Kim Wilkin:
    In January 2019 is when I posted the first video. Please do not go back and look at those videos back then. I’ve learned a lot.

    Thomas Young:
    Well, it’s like everything. I mean it’s like being an investor. I mean your first deal, you might cringe back and go, “I did what?” And then you keep doing it and then the power of repetition you start learning and growing, and you get better.

    Kim Wilkin:
    Absolutely.

    Thomas Young:
    But no, happy one year, a little over the first anniversary.

    Kim Wilkin:
    Thank you very much, it’s amazing. It’s so much fun to get the feedback and the comments about... Thanks so much for sharing, I’m headed here next week. Or what do you suggest we do if we’re not going to this exact hotel? Do you have another hotel suggestion? So again, as I mentioned, it’s being able to reach a larger audience and share what I’ve done, and what I know, and gratefully so. So it’s been a lot of fun. It’s a huge learning curve, my goodness. I’ve never been in the online space and it’s a huge, huge learning curve.

    Thomas Young:
    Oh, I’m sure. I’m curious, so was your goal with your real estate investments and with your career as a realtor, was it always to just be able to build up that passive income so you could just go?

    Kim Wilkin:
    Yes, my ideal worlds in my life are passive income, financial freedom, and location independence. And when you look at the goals, my life goals, it is financial freedom and location independence. That doesn’t mean I don’t... It doesn’t mean I want to leave Austin. It just means I want the opportunity to if someone says you want to get on a plane today? I can be, “got the passport, I’ll pack my bag, I’ll see you at the airport in an hour.” The real estate has for me, it is my wealth and it is my longterm goal. Hence, I have longterm rentals and I buy a certain style of property. I’m more B plus or A class properties, and I have longstanding tenants, low maintenance. I am looking for that Staples easy button with my longterm wealth and the passive income. The goal is to be financially free. So if I could travel six months a year and live in Austin, six months a year, I’d be so happy.

    Thomas Young:
    Sign me up for that one.

    Kim Wilkin:
    Yes, please. That doesn’t mean I’m not working the other six months, I just am not physically in town.

    Thomas Young:
    Right. And I’m curious. Two questions. One. Do you think there’s still a lot of B plus, A opportunities in Austin or do you think people need to start looking elsewhere? Or how do you see sort of the investor market? Because I mean it’s a tough market to crack right now.

    Kim Wilkin:
    It is a tough market. I feel for investors. It depends on your goals. If you’re looking for a huge amount of cash flow, you will... Austin is not known for a lot of cash flow at the moment. It’s known more for appreciation. So if you’re in Austin and you’re looking for more cash flow, you need to look at fourplexes, duplexes and probably be careful about the single-family homes at the moment. But if you’re looking for appreciation with the widest market of possible tenants and the widest market of possible buyers in the future, then look at single-family homes. It just depends on what your goals are.

    And each investor that I work with, I have probably 10, 12 investors that I work with daily, and each of them has a very different goal. But when they all came to me, they said, “Kim, what are your goals? How do you pick property?” And what benefits me is not necessarily what’s going to benefit a family with three kids or what’s going to benefit a 25-year-old working their first job. Everybody is different. That’s what’s kind of cool about being in real estate. You can build your wealth in any number of different ways. It just depends on what you want.

    Thomas Young:
    Right, no it makes sense, because I mean even if you’re in the same, for example, age group and the fact that one might have a very high paying career that covers all their cashflow needs are different than someone that might not be making as much but has saved diligently and they want to, the higher earner might care about appreciation because they’re set, and the low earner might be looking to increase the cash flow from their job. So it is individual, and just because you’re the same age as someone else or in that similar life stage doesn’t mean that your investment goals are going to look the same. That’s something cool about real estate is that you can tailor that solution for the individual within that industry.

    Kim Wilkin:
    Absolutely. And it’s quite funny, for me, if I can’t drive there after dark by myself in my car, I’m not going to own it.

    Thomas Young:
    Right.

    Kim Wilkin:
    I have a couple of investors that only want class C type properties, which is fantastic. It fits their goals. It doesn’t my goals.

    Thomas Young:
    Right. Yeah, I know. I mean, I rent in the Austin area and something that I like... I mean I’ve lived in the big Gables type properties where everything’s through a portal and all that and that was fine. Now I live in a small little 12 unit building in the Zilker Neighborhood, it’s super quiet. I have my landlord’s cell phone, I text him when something’s going wrong or when I need... Telling him if I switched cars and a different one’s going to be parked in the parking lot. I just send him a picture and text him and it’s like, no big deal. And I like that, but it’s different.

    Kim Wilkin:
    Yes. Then again, it’s different investments., if you’re an investor it’s a completely different animal as an investor. You can get indicated funds that will buy large complexes like you were mentioning the Gables, or you might be in an individually owned unit that is in that complex that’s only 12 units.

    Thomas Young:
    Yeah, no it’s... I mean I’ve told him, my landlord, several times if you ever want to sell this thing, just let me know because I will raise money to... I can’t afford it because it’s pretty premium., but I will raise money. I want to own this thing because it’s a great building, and a great location, in a great town.

    Kim Wilkin:
    It sure is. And there’s more dirt in central Austin.

    Thomas Young:
    Right, right. So I’m curious, talking about your properties, do you manage your properties individually or do you have a property manager that helps you with everything?

    Kim Wilkin:
    I manage all the ones in Austin and the one in Alabama, the ones I have in Fort Worth, I have a property manager. The reason I have a property manager is my numbers work, including the property manager. So it’s 100% passive in Fort Worth. Whereas here in Austin, my tenants call me if they have an issue. And when I was looking for other cities in Texas, I found the property manager before I went looking for a property. If you’re going to depend on somebody to hold and control your asset, you want to have some great people on your side. So any investor I talked to that says, “I’m going to go to Houston, I’m going to go to San Antonio, I’m going to go to Arkansas or Hawaii, or wherever.” I said, “Find the property manager first, then go find the property.”

    Thomas Young:
    That’s the first time I’ve heard that individual piece of advice. I think it’s a perfect piece of advice and it touches, like what we talked about earlier, your team is your success, right? Are a big part of your success. So if, for example, when we started Rocket Dollar, we had a team in place first and then we went and started building. And then when we... As needs were identified, we added people, but we couldn’t have done it without the first team. It’s the same thing if you’re renting, especially out of town, you want to know who’s going to have a set of keys to your property, and who’s going to be putting tenants in and out, and doing repairs, and all that. I mean that’s a great piece of advice.

    Kim Wilkin:
    Yeah, thanks. Thanks.

    Thomas Young:
    I’m curious, 2020 start of a new year, decade, what are your plans for the next year, a couple of years, with your real estate, with your realtor career, and with The Abundant Traveler? What are you looking forward to?

    Kim Wilkin:
    Well, with real estate, I have very lofty goals for 2020 and the near future, the business is based on referrals. I’m encouraging my previous clients to send new clients to me. I have joined a team with... I’ve created a team with a colleague of mine and we’re great mentors for each other. And so real estate is full-on all the time, seven days a week when I’m here and usually seven days a week when I’m gone. So real estate is great as a career.

    As far as The Abundant Traveler, my goal is this year to impact 50,000 people. That means between all of my platforms, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, my email list, my blog, I want to touch 50,000 people this year in some way, shape or form and encourage them to travel. So those are the two big things as far as daily work and my active income. As far as my passive income and my wealth building, I was reminded of the saying about buying real estate. It says buy two a year for the next 10 years, sell off the worst 10, pay the best 10, and then you’re done. So if I can over the next handful of years, ensure that I have 20 properties and then at the end of getting 20 I sell off the worst 10 and I keep the best 10 pay them off, I am done. I am financially free in a style that I want to be. Everybody’s financial freedom is a different number.

    Thomas Young:
    Gosh, there are so many good soundbites.

    Kim Wilkin:
    Thank you.

    Thomas Young:
    That’s a really good piece of advice. I love that.

    Kim Wilkin:
    It’s simple. It’s just simple.

    Thomas Young:
    Right. Yeah, no, simple is what everybody should aspire to. I mean, it doesn’t have to be that complicated, but inside of a simple, there’s a lot of hard work and it’s not as easy as it sounds, but it can be simple. So Kim, if somebody wants to get in touch with you, if they’re looking to invest in the Austin area, they’re looking for a realtor we’ll link the YouTube channel in the show notes, but what’s the best way for someone to get in touch with you if they want to work with you if they want to invest with you, or anything like that?

    Kim Wilkin:
    The easiest thing is I’m a member of Realty Austin and so they could email me at KimWilkin@RealtyAustin.com is the simplest way to contact me for real estate. As far as The Abundant Traveler, please subscribe to the YouTube channel, sign up for the email list. I send out a weekly email and I’d love to connect. I’d love to know who you are coming on board with me from The Abundant Traveler and I can’t wait to create a relationship with you if you’re interested in real estate in Austin.

    Thomas Young:
    Kim, thank you so much for your time today. This was a lot of fun and like I said, some of those soundbites are great. I’m going to go back and listen and write them all down in my notebook.

    Kim Wilkin:
    Well, thank you so much for your time. I appreciate the opportunity and I love what you guys are doing, so keep on preaching, self-directed.

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    Topics: Real Estate, Podcast

    Published on March 25 2020