The Birmingham Real Estate Investor - Episode 14 with Caleb Frizzell

The Birmingham Real Estate Investor - Episode 14 with Caleb Frizzell

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Important Highlights:

1:25 - The story behind Evernest (formerly gkhouses) and why we decided to change it 8:05 - The process of changing our brand 14:45 - The new brand reveal and meaning behind it 25:03 - The big reveal to the team and how we made it fun 27:48 - Tips for changing your branding


Caleb Frizzell: If you want to get into real estate, know that real estate is a contact sport, meaning it's about who you know, and the more contacts you have the better off you'll be. Spencer Sutton: All right, everybody. We're back with another episode of the Birmingham Real Estate Investor. I'm one of your co-host Spencer Sutton. I've got Matthew Whitaker here with me, and we're excited to have Caleb Frizzell on the show today. So Caleb is an associate director at Berkadia based here in Birmingham. And man Caleb, we're excited to have you here, so thanks for joining us. Caleb Frizzell: Thanks guys. Yeah. Excited to be on and to talk some Birmingham real estate with you. Yeah, Matthew Whitaker: Caleb, we talked a little bit before the show. Tell us a little bit about your background. You went to school in California, you're from Oklahoma. How did you get to Birmingham and in the real estate? Caleb Frizzell: Yeah, so kind of an un-exciting story. Just, it was originally from Tulsa, Oaklahoma. That's where I grew up. And like you said, went to school in California, graduated in 2016 and moved back here to follow my now wife who at the time was my girlfriend and she's from here, grew up in Hoover and went to Spain park high school. And so that's kind of how we got brought back and always knew that I wanted to be in the real estate business. Wasn't really sure what form that would take or what capacity it would be in. Of course, being in high school or in college and wanting to get into business. It's every other guy you talk to wants to be in a real estate business. Generally speaking nobody really knows what they're talking about though and that was me- Matthew Whitaker: So they get into it. Caleb Frizzell: Right. Matthew Whitaker: Everybody wants to be in it until they get to get into that. Spencer Sutton: Until they get into it, that's right. Matthew Whitaker: And realize it's hard. Caleb Frizzell: That's right. So that was me just kind of was telling people, "Yeah, I'm going to do real estate." which is hilarious when you think back. But got here and right off the bat, I was just trying to network and meet folks, knew nobody. My wife's parents aren't in the industry and really aren't associated in any way. So it was just making calls. I probably met 40 people just picking up the phone, Google Birmingham, real estate companies, and I'd call one of the principals or, one of the folks that was at the top on the team page, and I asked for a meeting and see if they had any openings. And of course 99% of those were nos, but they ended up being good networking opportunities and I've come in contact with a lot of those folks since then. Caleb Frizzell: And so it ended up being good. It never hurts to get in front of folks. And so anyway, through that was, let's see from graduated in April and all the way until like September was just no luck at all. Spencer Sutton: Cold calling everybody. Caleb Frizzell: Right. Most people were nice and friendly, but just having no local connections, being an advertising major and having no real estate experience, isn't a really compelling sales pitch. Matthew Whitaker: And nobody will tell you this, but being a California guy too, was probably we were holding it against you down here. We actually have a lot of people that listen from California. So they'll think that hopefully it's funny. It's a joke. It's a joke, if you don't think it's funny, you're listening. Caleb Frizzell: That's funny. So yeah didn't have a ton of people that were looking to onboard somebody with basically no experience. I was eager and willing to work hard, but everybody says that. So it's kind of hard to sell yourself at that point. Any way, I was able to get in touch with David Oakley who's kind of the founder of our office and who's a well-known name in Birmingham and really Southeastern United States real estate industry. And we stayed in touch kind of communicated at the time. They had a really big successful office here. They were the number one office in the country for Berkadia. They had seven brokers and did a billion in sales in one year. So they weren't necessarily looking to onboard anybody at that time. But we stayed in touch. And about October, I got a call from David and we had just been kind of staying in touch. Caleb Frizzell: And he was like, "Hey, look, we've had some brokers leave the office we have some openings. I think I'm ready to try to train somebody and kind of build the office back up." And so that was end 2016, ended up not starting until early 2017. And since then, it just kind of been, probably took the first year to year and a half to really get acquainted with the intricacies of multifamily and figure out how nuanced Birmingham is, just by itself. And then to figure out the sub-markets around it. And then Alabama as a whole. And then you have all your owners and your buyers and your sellers, not just locally, but regionally and nationally, and figuring out that hierarchy. And really getting a grip, all that takes a while, or it did for me at least. Caleb Frizzell: And so that was kind of the entrance into real estate for me. Didn't necessarily have a lifelong dream of getting into multifamily. It just happened that way. And things have kind of turned out, multi-families are pretty good segment of the market to be in. And I feel very fortunate to have been able to find my place in a good industry and also in a good market. Matthew Whitaker: It is a hot market right now. I've got a bunch of questions about some of the things you said. Talk about the value of networking. It sounds to me like yeah, you got turned down by 99.9% of your meetings, but those have come back around. So you planted seeds that now you have relationships with people. Talk about the value of networking in the real estate business. Caleb Frizzell: Yeah, man. Yeah. It's huge. And the guys in the office and the guys that know me will tell you, I am not like if you already take a personality exam, I would be way on the introvert side of it. I'm not an extroverted person by nature. I do enjoy talking to people. I enjoy being social. So I'm not a hermit, but I'm not by any means the life of the party. But I guess there comes a point where you have to look at yourself in the mirror and say, okay, what do I really want? Do I really want to succeed? Do I really want to establish myself and have a meaningful career? If the answer is yes, you have to do what's necessary. And in real estate I remember a guy I'm from Tulsa originally, and I met a guy that's with CVRE in Tulsa and his name is escaping me. Caleb Frizzell: So I hope he doesn't listen to the podcast as he'll be insulted. But he told me if you want to get into real estate, know that real estate is a contact sport. Meaning it's about who you know. And the more contacts you have the better off you'll be. So I took that to heart and against my kind of natural instincts of being more introverted and reserved. I kind of just put myself out there. Like I said, I started calling people and most of the meetings were good. I had some really awkward ones and some ones that make me cringe thinking back on still, but I had mostly good ones. And I think it all kind of turned out. Matthew Whitaker: You have to go through the awkward meetings to finally get to the good ones. Caleb Frizzell: Oh yeah. Matthew Whitaker: And I think there's a lesson here. One of the things I've found over my years in the real estate business, I call it like a top of mind business. When you remain on people's top of mind. So you can't just network one time, but you want to be a number of people's top of mind when the problem arises to them. And then you're the first person that they call. And that's the way real estate is why networking is so important. It's about being that top of mind person when that person has a need and you getting the call. Because if you haven't done the work, maybe you did the work in the past and you've dropped off for 24 months. And then all of a sudden, somebody else becomes top of mind. Matthew Whitaker: It's amazing how many leads we've gotten Spencer, just because we were on top of somebody's mind. We had just met with them and then they just happened to run into somebody, and we just happened to get that lead. Spencer Sutton: Yeah, for sure. I'm really, I'm kind of interested because you said you didn't know that multi-family was where you wanted to go. So when you kind of thought about real estate and knew that you needed to start connecting with people and calling people. Did you narrow it down to two multifamily? Or did you really say, "Hey, it's going to be commercial. If I can't get into commercial, I'm going to go into, you know." How, did that process look? Caleb Frizzell: Yeah. Yeah. Good question. So as I alluded to, and I mentioned I'm from Tulsa, Oklahoma, and I had been in high school. I went to high school, it was a really good program. They had the third quarter I guess, or the first quarterback from Christmas break was an internship quarter. And so when I was in high school, I interned with a couple of different commercial real estate groups. And they were office, hotel and retail. Both of them kind of had their hands in a few different sectors, but they were local to Tulsa. And so I got some pretty good experience with that just as far as seeing what the business entailed and kind of the nature of the ins and outs and how things worked. But of course, a high school level internship, you're like 16, 17. Caleb Frizzell: You're not really getting to see that much or do that much understandably. But it definitely opened my eyes to a lot. It just kind of, I think it was a spark. It gave me the idea of, "Hey, this is something I don't know specifically if I want to do office or retail or industrial or multi-family. But this is a field that I can see myself in and everywhere I look, the people that are in it and who work hard, do very well." And so it was compelling for me. And so when I first moved to Birmingham and all throughout college through I'll say, I kind of stuck with that and tried to educate myself more through those years as well. But when I first got to Birmingham, I was not going to be picky. Caleb Frizzell: I needed a job. I figured I would just figure it out as I go. I've always had a lot of faith in myself just to be able to be resourceful and figure things out. That's kind of how I've been. Never asked for favors or never had my parents do things for me. I always liked to do things on my own. So I just started making calls and I called office folks, retail folks, David I think was the only, even the only multi-family guy. Because multi-families there's not too many of them in town. So I just threw a wide net and from there tried to narrow it down and it ended up being, I think this is where I would have wanted to end up regardless. Matthew Whitaker: I'm curious how your advertising major has helped you if any, in the real estate business. Caleb Frizzell: Yeah. Yeah. That's a good question. I think not as much as I would've liked to thought it would. Don't get me wrong. Pepperdine is a great school, not disparaging it in any way. But advertising was notoriously the easiest degree program at Pepperdine. Matthew Whitaker: So you went into Malibu, California and took the easiest degree. Spencer Sutton: For sure. You have to. Matthew Whitaker: I mean, this is making tons of sense. Spencer Sutton: That was a smart move. Matthew Whitaker: And then got into real estate with us. Sounds like Spencer and my career track. Although we- Spencer Sutton: We chose the wrong real estate. We chose property management. That was the wrong way to go. Caleb Frizzell: That's funny yeah. And I guess as I got into the program, I enjoyed it more and got a little more into it. So I'm not saying I just totally blew it off or whatever, but I think there are degrees in aspects of it that I actually have taken a lot from and can implement I'd say the most relevant example would be with our marketing packages and some of the displays and images and graphics and stuff we put together in our marketing packages. That actually, I would say has probably been what I learned through graphic design programs and just general kind of basics of advertising and psychology of advertising. Those are some things that I have taken with me and that I've been able to implement. And I think it's benefited our marketing to an extent. Matthew Whitaker: And if you think about it, if somebody is going to spend millions and millions of dollars on a building or a series of buildings, then you want the advertising for that to look like they're going to spend millions of dollars. The last thing you want it's a over photocopied version of some listing that you can barely even see the picture anymore. So that makes a lot of sense because a lot of it too is about making people feel good about listing it with you because you're going to put together a good package. A buyer also wants to really feel what that building means and the value of that building, that they're about to spend all that money on. So, that makes a lot of sense. Matthew Whitaker: Let's jump into Birmingham because it is a Birmingham focus show. And you said Birmingham is very nuanced and I agree. I would love to know what you're learning currently about Birmingham and just kind of give us your general overview thoughts. Caleb Frizzell: Yeah. I mean, I think, and again, I'll kind of disclaim that by saying Birmingham and Alabama are the markets that I kind of grew up in multi-family with. I'm assuming when I say Birmingham is nuanced, it is very much so. In relation to other places though, I don't really have a gauge for whether or not it's more or less. But I would say just based on kind of general market indicators, there is a lot of interesting pockets within Birmingham that are very particular and unique that I can get more into in a minute. Caleb Frizzell: But yeah, I think is far as Birmingham as a whole. And in general things that I'm seeing and that our office is seeing is a shift really back towards the center of town, which isn't really unique to Birmingham in a lot of ways. You're seeing that nationally, as you see urban areas and downtown research. There's a movement back into the city centers and obviously with Avondale and Lake view, and now just North of downtown where they're building the new arena and central downtown you get a lot of growth happening. And so people are migrating back in and I think that has been geared for multifamily. And I think we'll continue to see that trend into the future, at least in the near future. Matthew Whitaker: When someone calls you up and they've never been to Birmingham. What do you tell them to essentially sell them on Birmingham? Caleb Frizzell: Yeah. Good question. I mean, I think it really depends because when we are selling a property, we don't sell Birmingham as much as we sell where it is in Birmingham, right? Because if you have a property in Inslee Highlands, your story's going to be different than it would be in Mountain Brook obviously. Birmingham as you know, it's kind of a slow and steady market. It always has pretty moderate, positive growth, but it's always positively growing and by all the major metrics. And so that's what we'll point to, if buyers or interested parties ask us for a general overview of the market. We'll point to the major employers. How Birmingham is very recession proof economy because of our basis and healthcare and education with obviously anchored by UAB. So those are the kind of things we point to generally. Specifically though, we typically will try to focus on sub-markets. Caleb Frizzell: So for example, if we've got a property down in Hoover, we'll focus on the school systems in Hoover. We'll focus on the retail corridors of 280 at four 59 and 31. And the access that it gives people too, not just employers and kind of entertainment hotspots in the area, but also throughout the region. So I don't know if I answered your question, but we generally try to stay away or at least I do, try to stay away from getting too broad. And I'd like to have people focus on where specifically they're buying. Matthew Whitaker: All right. Let's narrow down, and yes, that absolutely answers the question, but let's narrow down to some of the sub markets that you're talking about. You mentioned Hoover. What are some other areas that you think are hot and why? Caleb Frizzell: Yeah, so I would say Hoover was the largest sub-market in Birmingham. I would say it kind of carries over a lot of the characteristics of Birmingham as a whole. It's not a rapid growth market, but it's steady. It always has positive figures as far as employment and population growth and income growth and real estate values and things like that. They're always climbing slowly but surely. Hoover, I would say one of the biggest things we point to is the school systems. In Hoover you've got great schools, especially if you get kind of further down in the down 280 where Spain Park is and stuff. And so we try to focus on when we're talking to Hoover specifically, we talk retail, we talk about largest suburban area. We talk about employers and in school systems, things like that. Matthew Whitaker: Great. Yeah, Hoover's a really hot market. It has been a great market for a long time. Very much a upper-middle-class market in Birmingham. And there's a lot of anything from single family houses all the way up through multi-family. They have two high schools there. The Galleria, which is a big shopping mall is in Hoover. Just definitely the biggest kind of city outside of Birmingham around here. So let's talk about other sub markets that you're excited about outside of Hoover. Caleb Frizzell: Yeah, absolutely. I would say I think Homewood is always a really popular submarket. When you talk about affluence and high real estate values, high income for residents, you talk about Mountain Brook, you talk about Homewood and you talk about Vestavia. Typically of course there's pockets of Hoover that are up there as well, but those are kind of your three main sub markets and Mountain Brook and Vestavia are kind of out of the conversation because that neither of those markets- Spencer Sutton: They don't have a lot of multi-family. Caleb Frizzell: Right. There's very limited supply. There's lots of restrictions on new development. Most of the owners there are long-term holders or their pricing is just way beyond what anybody would want A. And understandably so. So as far as affluence goes, Homewood is really the primo multifamily market, I would say, where you actually have a chance of getting a deal. Now there's obviously exceptions to that. But Homewood I would say is probably the most exciting multifamily market or sub market in Birmingham. And kind of for the reasons I talked about earlier with Hoover, they've got terrific schools. They've got terrific accessibility to downtown and through Birmingham. Caleb Frizzell: It's a kind of a boutique neighborhood community, almost. They've got parks, they've got all kinds of amenities on retail and restaurants. And so I think it's a place people want to be. And it's place where young people want to be too. And so you get a lot of students, a lot of recent grads, a lot of young professionals, folks like that, that are wanting to rent there, and move there. And so I would say Homewood's definitely one I'm excited about that. I think everybody's excited about. And then also there's your market's kind of directly East of downtown. Lakeview, Avondale those of course are different, but also I think equally exciting just in somewhat different ways. Matthew Whitaker: Yeah. So Homewood is just South of town, just South of the city of Birmingham and then the Lakeview, Avondale area, just East. And that's an area that's over the last 10 years has really come a long way. It started with Avondale brewery, which a friend of Spencer and I started and it's really seen some gentrification in that area. And there's really some momentum that's coming out of that Avondale area. Caleb Frizzell: Yeah, absolutely. And I always, for people that aren't familiar with Birmingham and for clients that we get into town that don't really know the area, kind of this little story I always tell people is, so my wife grew up here down the road, down 280 in Hoover. Without traffic you're talking 20 minutes from where I'm sitting to where she is. And she lived here for 19 years and didn't go downtown one time. Had never been. And when we moved back to Birmingham, it was the first time she'd ever been downtown. And I've talked to her friends and it's same thing. I mean, Birmingham has progressed so much even in the what? Four and a half years I've been here. There's been so much growth downtown. And then there's immediate little pockets, Lakeview, Avondale, Highland Park, South side. Caleb Frizzell: It's really amazing. And to see all that's going on, it's exciting to me, but it just, I think that I always like to tell people that and you guys know it better than me. You've been here longer than I have, but Birmingham's downtown was not a place you went not too long ago. We're talking like eight, 10 years ago. It's dramatically changed. Spencer Sutton: Yeah. I was about to say, I grew up in mountain Brook and I never literally wouldn't hardly ever leave mountain Brook. You just kind of hung out there and did everything there and you definitely didn't go downtown. So a lot has changed and Matthew dropped the best. Matthew Whitaker: Did you all realize there was a world outside of Mountain Brook when you grew up there? Spencer Sutton: Well, Matthew grew up in Vestavia and we wouldn't ever venture over across the Vestavia. Caleb Frizzell: Yeah right, right. Matthew Whitaker: Talk a little bit about cap rates that you're seeing now. What can people expect to spend when they're buying in Birmingham? Caleb Frizzell: Sure. Yeah, I think, and again, that's going to depend on kind of where you are in the market. If you're talking mountain Brook like we just talked about, you're looking at fours, low fours. There'd be people that would buy they're in the high threes. And that's no joke. That's just kind of the market there. And I think the people that want to be in there really want to be in, but the people that already own there really don't want to sell. So I would say that's kind of an outlier. Homewood for example, is a more active market. We are under on the law at humble that I'm sure you guys are familiar with of which half of the property roughly is in Homewood. And that is I don't know, right off the top of my head, but that based on it's in place numbers, it's like a low five cap. Caleb Frizzell: So if you're talking Homewood, Vestavia, Mountain Brook averaged in your low to mid fives, I would say. Hoover, you're maybe not quite as pricey stuff more in the high fives I would say. Yeah. Mid to high fives, depending on what you're buying. Again, it also depends on kind of your asset class for kind of your typical down the fairway B class value add deal in a A area which everybody and their mom is looking for. You're looking at something in the mid fives, probably on a trailing 12. Matthew Whitaker: And let's say I'm a new investor and maybe I bought houses in the past, but now I'm ready to move up into small multi-family. What are some things that I need to know or things that I need to do before I get started, or before I call you? What are you going to tell me when I call you first call? Caleb Frizzell: It's an interesting question, because that has happened. It doesn't happen a lot, but that does happen. People want to make the jump from single to multifamily, but will call us. And I think the first thing I would tell somebody is to partner up with a management company. I think people underestimate, especially the out-of-state investors really underestimate the value of like a good local management company. And we offer, we have all kinds of contacts with managers willingly and happily put people in touch with that are new to the market. So we like to introduce people to management, to kind of get a feel for the different ways folks manage and the nuances that are associated with that. And really, I mean for me, and I think for a lot of the people I talk to just on a personal level that ask how do I get involved? Caleb Frizzell: What do I need to do to get into multi-family? The answer is you just kind of have to do it. It's like getting into the stock market. people are nervous like, "Oh, do I buy Amazon now? What do I do? Do I wait for it to go down? I don't know. What if a recession hits? I don't want to be caught holding the bag." And you got to do your homework, you got to steady up on the property and then on the submarket and kind of what you're dealing with. But really you just got to jump in and make a educated decision. There's always an element of risk involved. And I think that if you're making the jump from single to multi, it's not terribly different. If you're talking about having a collection of single family properties. I don't think it's terribly different as far as the way things operate, but you just kind of got to do it. I mean, have strategic partnerships do your homework, then just dive in. Matthew Whitaker: What about mistakes you see people make when they get in? What's some newbie mistakes people can avoid? Caleb Frizzell: Yeah. I think that, again, touching back on the management thing. One of the most typical mistakes we see people make, and it's not just some random investors that have some family money and want to put some money in an apartment complex. These are like some institutional quality, super well-known and well-regarded multifamily companies will come in and bring an out of state management or try to manage on their own. And it is a dumpster fire and it's terrible. And, they'll go through two, three, four management companies over the course of 24 months. And then they'll say, "Oh, I've had it. Birmingham is a terrible market. We're Out of here." And they'll fire sale. I think that's probably the biggest mistake we see Birmingham, like I alluded to at the beginning of our conversation is very nuance. Caleb Frizzell: And I can touch on that more, but the sub markets are very different. The type of renters you have are very different depending on where you are. You Can be across the highway and have a totally different type of property that has to be managed in a totally different type of way. And so I think that's a big mistake people make in Birmingham. Caleb Frizzell: Also, I'll say that not as commonly, but still pretty commonly for out-of-state investors, especially from the coast. They'll see stuff that pops up North of town or West of town that is typically your price for doors, or you can find stuff still in the 20s, 30s, 40s, and they think, "Oh God, how can I lose money on that? That's so cheap." Matthew Whitaker: The real estate is worth that. Caleb Frizzell: Right. And I have seen people blow it on completely stuff that you would think to yourself, "How do I lose money on that?" And you can, and you will, if you don't have a strategy in place. Whether it's for management or for value-add. Whatever it is, people who kind think they're going to come in and wing it in a typically kind of sketchy unsure area. That's a big mistake that we see get made here. Spencer Sutton: We see that happen all the time, too. As a matter of fact, I just met yesterday with some investors from DC who came down and they had been led around and shown 30 different properties. They were going to buy a portfolio of houses and sat down with me. And I just had to tell them the truth. I mean, you really have to know what you're getting into. And to your point, if you don't have a plan, if you don't have strategic partners, if you hadn't thought about all of the things that can go wrong, then you're setting yourself up for some major disappointment. Just based on the price. I mean, price is not going to be everything. Caleb Frizzell: Yeah. Matthew Whitaker: One of the things I've seen is people kind of step up in assets is they start to syndicate deals and/or they start to partner with other people. What have you seen people do successfully to raise capital? For instance, maybe in all single family houses, but I want to step up to a multifamily property. Let's say I need a million bucks to put down on the property. How have you seen people do that successfully? How have you seen that be a problem? Caleb Frizzell: First? I'll say, we've dealt with some of these big syndicate groups and for better, for worse, I don't really have enough, some of them are some of the guys that are involved in it guys and ladies as well, that are involved in these big syndicate groups, they really know what they're doing. And then some of them just try to hop in and think they've got this network of people ready to throw cash at them, but they don't know what they're doing. And so there's good and bad associated with some of these kind of almost, I'm sure you have lots of listeners that are interested in that stuff, but it's kind of funny. We talk about it almost like they're a cult, some of them. Like they have a leader that they have these conventions and they have these big Zoom calls and the people look to these leaders as if they can do no wrong and sometimes they're right and sometimes they're wrong. Caleb Frizzell: But we see that work occasionally. I would say also, if you're really just trying to make the leap from single to multifamily, or if you're just trying to get into real estate, most people are not buying a $50 million deal for their first foray into real estate. So if you're trying to raise a million bucks or 500 grand or two million bucks, whatever it is. I promise you know enough people just in your own network. Whether it's friends and family or business associates, whatever. You'd be shocked at how many people, if you just ask around are willing and want to invest. They just don't know how. They don't know where to do it. They don't know who to talk to. They don't know somebody that they feel comfortable investing with. And I'm telling you it's more than 50% of the people you know, would be interested. A million bucks sounds like a lot of money, but I promise you there's plenty of people out there, they've I've got 50 or a hundred grand that'd be willing to go in and on multi-family property, Matthew Whitaker: Yeah especially if you're willing to put your own money in there and invest alongside of them. At least they know you're putting your money where your mouth is, and if something goes wrong, at least, you know hey, I did my best because my money was at risk too. Matthew Whitaker: This has been good. Matthew Whitaker: Yeah. Caleb, I really appreciate this. This time has really flown by. You've given us a lot of good information. How would somebody get in touch with you if they wanted to contact you maybe about investing? Caleb Frizzell: Yeah. The best way to get ahold of me would just be either phone call or an email. We're very on top of it ear. And we always love meeting new folks and making new connections. And so yeah, an email or a phone call would be the first best step and we'd take it from there. Spencer Sutton: All right, great. I will put, I've got your link to your Berkadia profile. So I'll put that up in the show notes and we'll let everybody know how to contact you. So Caleb man, thanks again so much. It was great getting to know you and hearing more about your experience here in Birmingham. So, all right everybody, this was another episode of the Birmingham Real Estate Investor. If you haven't already subscribed, go ahead and do it anywhere you listen to podcasts and we will be back in two weeks with a new episode.