Brian Busch joined the Freedom Mentor Apprentice Program in 2008, became an extremely successful investor, then later joined our mentoring team and is now one of the sharpest minds in real estate. You'll find this interview with Brian very enlightening:
Meet Brian Busch
Brian is one of my early apprentices who became a successful real estate investor and is now a leading mentor in our Freedom Mentor program. I sat down with Brian to talk about his journey into real estate investing, how he joined Freedom Mentor, why he was motivated to become a mentor himself, and to get his take on the current real estate market.
Phil: Tell us a little about when you got started in real estate investing and how you found Freedom Mentor.
Brian: I started studying real estate back in 1999 when I came across a late-night infomercial. At the time I was looking for supplemental income so I listened to it and thought, I don't know about this. I talked to my mom about it, and she said, "Oh yeah, I've got that right here". Sure enough, she'd already picked it up. It was an audio course, so I popped it in the Walkman and listened to it on the way to work and over a period of months I learned just enough to be dangerous. I put time into it and did the best I could to master it. I did a couple deals, a lease options and a pre-construction deal. So I had a little bit of success with it. But fast forward to 2007, I had a couple of lease options that turned into short sales and I had no idea what a short sale was. I tried to pull out every video I could find, and I just kind of moved forward, put together a package and just sat on my hands. Then I came across a training you were doing, and it was instantly obvious that you knew short sales and you knew what I needed. So I joined, in February of 2008, and in about a year's time I recognized more success than all my previous eight years combined because I had the right mentoring, and that's really what I was lacking.
Student becomes the Teacher
Phil: And that was during 2008-2009, which was arguably the most difficult time to have been a real estate investor in American history. And so you had that acceleration of success during that time and become incredibly successful in your own right. But then after you graduate you end up coming back to train to be a mentor. What motivated you to do that?
Brian: A lot of it was the passion you had for coaching and helping others and how much you gave to help me succeed. There was one time, it was the day after Thanksgiving, and I had a deal that had just been approved by the bank. I needed to get it on the market and I'm thinking, "The day after Thanksgiving, I'm not going to even do the call". Sure enough, you're on the call and that's exactly what I needed. That kind of dedication is what got me to the success level that I was looking for. And you mentioned something in a call prior to that that really resonated with me. And it was that we weren't looking to just close a deal or two, we were looking to consistently close deals. At that point in my life, that's exactly what I was looking for, that's what you taught me, and it’s always stuck with me. I learned a lot of things the hard way. I had a lot of bad habits that I needed to come out of that you helped me through. And getting to help compress that learning curve for others is very rewarding. I love it. I enjoy coaching and just trying to teach and help others get there faster and with more success.
Freedom Mentor Brian Busch
Phil: And that is a rare trait. We have a lot of graduates across America and some of them show a little more propensity to having that teaching bone. When I've offered the opportunity to some of these graduates, what most of them say is, "Phil, I don't have the patience to deal with some newbie". Especially in their first three to five deals. That's where all the heavy lifting as a mentor is compressed into. And that's what I saw with you, tremendous patience. You were willing to stick it out when someone brought their baggage and their bad decision-making to the relationship. You would work through it with them. They might sabotage a deal or two and you were willing to say, "That cost you $30,000 because you didn't listen to us, but hey, another deal is coming." And that was something special I noticed right from the beginning. Still today, you have those people in our program that sometimes send a message your way as opposed to mine or get on your call as opposed to mine because I get a little fiery and you're more low key, a little more patient. Sometimes I really get onto somebody if they just cost me $50,000. But you have a way of dealing with them and talking them through what they can do to maybe fix it.
Okay, so you get into mentoring, obviously you're just like a duck to water, a great fit into our organization. You've been instrumental in helping so many of our graduates. Are there any apprentices or deals that stick out in your mind?
Brian: When we talk about being coachable, some of the methods that we use that we've pioneered, kind of the school of hard knocks. And as much time as we may spend with certain students trying to help them understand it and get through it, the truth is some people are more coachable than others. So the one that comes to mind is Jordan. He came along and picked up so quickly on the methodology. In fact, that was really what he mastered. I don't think he did anything else. In his very first deal, he picked up a property that was a strange situation. The owner had some homeless people living with him, and the place was absolutely trashed. But he was able to get in there and provide a solution. He provided the homeowner some cash to be able to transition and filled three or four dumpsters cleaning the place up. He even had to call the police just to get the deal started because he needed a police standby with all these homeless people hanging out, but the police were happy to help him. They'd been called out to this place so many times.
He didn't have to rehab the whole property, just basically clean it out and make a blank pallet for a rehabber. He made $143,000 on his deal because he was just teachable. He followed the directions and didn't try to make it harder on us as we guided him through. From that he was able to quit his job and make some huge changes in his life. He's obviously since graduated and I think he's worked in two different markets now. Seeing people transform their lives like that is just wonderful.
Phil: That’s a great example. We also had a deal that closed on Friday that is another example like Jordan. Ben, he started off slower because he brought bad habits that he'd learned elsewhere, and he tried to take what we teach and then take what he thought he knew and try to blend them together with meager results. But finally bought into exactly how Freedom Mentor approaches this business, marketing to motivated sellers and creating opportunities through creativity, so that you reduce risk, and you of course gain more rewards. And that way you're not stuck in these eight-month rehabs and deals that ultimately don't produce the results that everybody wants. In the case of Ben on Friday, and the deal made more money than this, but he graduated and the check to us was $121,000. And so Ben got a chance to see that with his own eyes on Friday. And just like Jordan, when they really dial into what we're teaching, that's when the magic happens because the opportunities are there.
Note: For those of you who don't know, we share in the profits with our apprentices. We believe 50% of something is a whole lot more than a hundred percent of nothing.
Source of Brian’s Wisdom
Phil: But it's also difficult for people who have not been a part of our program to realize that some of these techniques that we pioneer, in many cases are due to conversations between us and maybe some of our other coaches. We would get on a call and just dig deeper and deeper. It was through real deals and then this mastermind of you and I and in some cases a few others, that we developed what has now become some of our secret sauces that allow people to make massive numbers with less risk.
Brian: Absolutely. And I think it's just the dividends being paid on us for meeting on a weekly basis for nearly 15 years, going through deals and challenges and finding ways to overcome those challenges. And that's just real-world deals. It’s been commented many times, that we've forgotten more about real estate than most people have learned in their career and that's just being in the trenches, rolling up our sleeves and getting it done. And it's wonderful. You see a problem, and unfortunately some people shut down, they move on, they figure it just can't be done. And yet we look at with the perspective of what can we do, let's brainstorm and be creative. And it's just wonderful how much we've been blessed to have success with it.
Phil: And it's an interesting way of looking at how we've obtained the wisdom that we have. There's a lot of people that attempt to get all their wisdom from 10 or 15 different podcasts and 10 or 15 different YouTube channels and all kinds of different blog articles, and they're getting texts and they're getting emails of new content. But ultimately for us, our wisdom comes from the real world. You aren’t sending me a text saying, "Hey Phil, I just watched this video. What do you think of this?" Instead we are looking at a real deal that we're working on right now. Our wisdom has come from that.
Brian’s Take on Today’s Market
Phil: And it's not just wisdom from the past, we're talking about today, right now. So what are you seeing right now in today's market? What's going on out there?
Brian: Well, coming off three years of high market, the past year has been very different. We've said it's gone back to normal. When the tide was high, it was wonderful. But now we're starting to see where things really stand. We're going back to fundamentals, but because we have those fundamentals, we have that foundation to stand on and be successful, we've been able to continue to do deals. So there's always a need. There's always a market of folks that need what we can uniquely offer, but we're able to do that with frankly less competition right now. Obviously, the media is doom and gloom and everything's falling apart. And that means some investors figure there's no opportunity.
Phil: So we have less competition right now. We do have to go back to the fundamentals. Properties don't instantly sell above list price even though they don't have anything fixed up. We need to go back to what works in a normal market. But the other thing that we're seeing out there is there's overall less transactions. I just read an article this morning that stated there's been less investor activity in 2023 than any year going back 10 years or something. And so I guess what they're basing that on is the volume of non owner-occupied purchases. Now, we focus on residential, so we're not talking about B and C class office space. We're talking about single family homes primarily. When you look at the lack of overall transactions, how does that impact us as creative real estate investors?
Brian: I think it's the benefit. We have never been based on just volume. It's really quality over quantity. And so when we are selective in our deals, in what is it that is going to yield a reasonable or a very wonderful profit, we're able to really hone those efforts. And that's through mastering a lot of marketing, learning how to size up and understand where to focus our efforts. Really just finding that signal amidst all the noise of the market. So it's been very beneficial. A lot of our students, they make the deal a month and yet bring in a lot more than the professionals, doctors, and lawyers out there. So it's a wonderful market and it's just homing in on where to put our efforts.
Phil: So even with the lack of overall volume of deals, someone does one deal a month, that's a huge number. Average profits are $30-$40,000 right now, if you're doing it the way we do it. But even if you're doing a deal every two months, I think for a lot of people that's still an enormous income for them in comparison to what they've been doing, along with having more freedom and flexibility.
Today's Opportunities for Creative Investors
Phil: Where do you see the market going for creative investors like us in the next couple of months or so? I know we don't have a crystal ball and you know how much I'm not a fan of predicting the future, but what do you see just from the real world of deals out there?
Brian: Well, as we said, we've seen a slow down in the number of deals going on. Obviously higher interest rates, you've got less equity, just appreciation going on in some markets, maybe a little bit of curtailing, and so you're finding a few more folks that are in that tough spot and not a lot of equity to deal with the problem. That's where we can do creative deals. I just talked to a couple students this morning that are picking up some deals and able bring creative solutions to the table that has the local real estate agent scratching their head. All the agents can tell the client is you're going to have to bring money to closing. In those situations you can go in and present a solution, solve the seller's problem, create a wonderful opportunity for a buyer, and it's a pretty quick deal too. So I think we're going to see more of those just due to the current market. Again, no matter what comes our way, we have those core fundamentals and that's what we continue to operate from. We just adjust as the need is there and we're able to solve problems and be profitable in the process.
Phil: I think it's important that everyone understands that the basis of our business is motivated sellers. They may have just inherited a property and they live a thousand miles away. Or you had mentioned the idea that people are struggling financially right now due to inflation and basic needs like eggs and milk are so much higher, and yet buyers are still buying because people need a place to live. Some people are getting job transfers, others are simply moving to be closer to a family member. We have enough buyers. In fact, we have a low amount of inventory, and so when we can provide creative solutions, we're bringing people together and we're making a lot of money doing it. And we don't need a lot of deals to get it done.
Brian's Role with Freedom Mentor
Phil: So Brain, you graduated from our apprentice program and made a ton of money as a real estate investor in your own right, then you became a mentor with our team. We’ve been working together for a long time, and part of the reason why you're getting introduced again is because you are going to start helping to provide some wisdom, some signal, some truth, in our content, podcasts and videos. Tell us what's motivated you to go to this next step and begin sharing this wisdom with a broader audience and not just those in our program.
Brian: I think first and foremost, obviously you're very busy, and with all the misinformation and noise out there, we really do want to bring signal, bring truth to help people understand that there are solutions. We can help other people and be profitable in doing this. I want them to know they have a vehicle here that can transform their life if they choose to roll up their sleeves and get to work. So we have a need that continues to grow. We were talking about the constraints in the current market, and we want to be able to help people navigate through and understand that there's a solution. You don't have to spend years going the wrong direction, learning all the hard lessons the wrong way. We want to help you to see through all that noise and really get that signal and benefit and move forward.
Phil: That's fantastic. Well, again, thank you for taking this next step and being a part of the solution of providing wisdom, signal, truth at a time when it's more difficult than ever with so much out there from all the different supposed pundits. We’re looking forward to the content you will be putting out from your perspective. I think that will be important because you'll resonate with some, and of course, I will resonate with others. Well, Brian, thank you so much for being here with me and looking forward to the wisdom you're going to share.
Brain: Absolutely. Thank you, Phil.
Every Successful Creative Real Estate Investor Has a Mentor
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