Adopt a positive mindset. Success is having an abundance mindset and acting on it. A lot of people will say that ‘there are no deals’ or ‘the market is too saturated,’ among other reasons that prevent them from jumping in. There will always be reasons not to do something, but shifting your mindset to an abundance one is a game-changer. Just by pushing the negative thoughts out and believing anything can be accomplished, it can help free up our biggest hurdles in life.
As a part of my series about the ‘Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Real Estate Industry’, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dan Rivers.
Dan Rivers has been working in the real estate industry for nearly two decades. While his career began in large scale property management in the greater Boston area, overseeing more than 5,000 residential units as well as $15 million+ in projects, his passion for the industry quickly grew to span sales, investing and more.
In 2020 he founded Rivers Capital Group, a comprehensive real estate service company that specializes in 5 key areas: Sales, Renovations, STR Management, Private Money Lending, Business Buying and Rentals.
Dan’s knowledge, passion and hard work has resulted in more than $53 million worth of real estate transactions in just 4 years and recognition in the top 1% of realtors in the tri-county area as a Realtor with Maven Realty.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Real Estate industry?
In the early years of my career, I was working at a bank in Clearwater, Florida. After helping a gentleman with a personal loan, who told me he was impressed by the way I handled the process, he offered me a job in Property Management, an industry I really knew nothing about. Nonetheless, I started off managing 16 properties including high-rise buildings on the beach to HOA’s north of Tampa. I learned about insurance, contracts, contractors, HOA docs, budgets, financials and more.
Eventually, I ended up living in Boston overseeing 5,000 residential units and $15 million+ in projects. My wife and I made the decision to leave the city-life in Boston and settle down in Charleston, South Carolina where I decided to walk away from my twelve-year career in property management and try my hand at real estate. Though the first year was rough, I became passionate about the industry and investing. In 2020, I founded Rivers Capital Group with a goal to service every facet of an investor’s needs and continue to expand into additional areas of real estate.
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or takeaway you took out of that story?
Years back when I was managing a property in Rhode Island, an owner requested to get an emotional support animal (ESA). The HOA didn’t allow dogs but, ESAs are a different story and are an exception. However, this particular owner and the Board did not get along. A couple days later, the owner showed up at the property with his new ESA, a fully grown Bull Mastiff. Anyone who knows dogs knows that these are really horses… the dog was really friendly and sweet, but boy, did this gentleman accomplish his goal and make a statement in the process.
Lesson learned — no matter the obstacles or odds, if you care enough and want to accomplish something, you always can. Even feats as big as a Bull Mastiff! :)
Do you have a favorite “life lesson quote”? Can you share a story or example of how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Learn how to be happy with what you have while you pursue all that you want.” — Jim Rohn
As entrepreneurs, we are always striving to be better, more efficient, create new opportunities, and grow. But it’s so important to make sure that we are spending life’s energy not just on a business, but on life experiences. This quote helps me to ensure I live today and don’t delay gratitude on important life experiences. Currently, as I write this, my family and I are in Italy to embrace the culture and spend time in this beautiful country. Years ago, I would have never thought to do this or think the goal was attainable. But I became intentional on time, travel and experiences, and it is now a reality.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I just became a partner in a new coaching program that helps businesses grow and scale called Legacy Entrepreneurs. The companies we support range from startups to 7-figure companies in the service industry, real estate and more. The group helps scale not only all areas of business including, sales, marketing, operations, goal setting, budgeting and more, but we also help people grow their mindset and overall life enjoyment. We have 3 coaches, in addition to an advisory panel. The structure encompasses a weekly group meeting, a ‘Legacy Lounge’ chat a few evenings each month, as well as a full-access resource vault with forms and videos. Best of all, we also organize 3–4 unique retreats each year where we help our clients grow their business, build new relationships and expand their perspectives. To provide a snapshot of the experience, our last trip to Moab, Utah included hearing from folks like Lee Egstrom about sales, marketing and ChatGPT while riding side-by-sides through the Red Rocks.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I think my team’s level of service is what makes a difference for our clients and investors. I always have to remind myself and my team to be prepared for slow times, and in order for us to be great we need to continue our level of service no matter the outcome. I have made it a priority for myself and my team to ALWAYS do the right thing, which speaks volumes to our clients and future relationships we are building. We strive to build a reputation that we always do what’s best for our people, clients, investors and anyone we interact with. We want to give our clients a memorable experience so they always think of us when it comes to real estate.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I met Kelli Garrett in 2019 at a breakfast meetup for real estate investors in downtown Charleston. We got to know each other and I really respected her as a person and as an entrepreneur. As I grew, I knew I wanted to mirror my business model after her so in 2021, I hired her to coach me. This was a game changer and I owe a lot of my success to this one decision. She has helped me put systems in place, guided me on how to budget and properly set goals, and has guided me on business deals. Kellie has become a good friend and business partner. I think having a coach as a business owner or entrepreneur is a must.
Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Real Estate industry? If you can please share a story or example.
The number one aspect of the real estate industry that most excites me is that the industry is ever-changing and no situation is the same. We need to be able to adapt at any moment and I pride myself in not only having this as a superpower, but also enjoying overcoming new challenges. I recently expanded into short-term vacation home rentals through Airbnb. Since the pandemic, this area of the market became oversaturated so in knowing that a potential economic slowdown could impact my profit on these rentals, I needed to have a back-up plan in place. That’s why all of these properties could be adjusted to short-term corporate housing or a long-term strategy. You need to be willing and able to adapt.
Secondly, building wealth is attainable in this industry. It just requires some thought and goal setting to achieve it. For example, one of my goals is to sell 50 homes in 2023. I can achieve that goal by selling one home per week. In order to do that, I strive to do activities that get me one listing or buyer per week. Goals become more attainable by breaking them down, and by doing that, it becomes possible to achieve wealth in real estate.
Lastly, as cliche as it might sound, I truly enjoy helping others build their wealth. The process of helping people find the right home that fits their needs or sell a commercial property is exciting and fun. And we are always finding new ways to help our clients in different ways; for example, we started doing Virtual Reality (VR) showings on our commercial properties that are occupied. This way, whether it is a retail client or short-term rental, potential buyers can get a good idea of the property through VR goggles instead of disturbing a tenant.
Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest? Please share stories or examples if possible.
- Perception of the industry (easy money)
One thing that concerns me about this industry is that people who are just starting out think they can make quick cash. In my first year of working as a realtor, I only made $28,000. I had to hustle through and try house flipping, private money lending and owning rental properties to grow my network to a size of income that I wanted to achieve. Just like any venture, it is a business and I had to treat it as such to be successful, including investing in robust marketing, systems and financial tools.
- Value of an agent — Around mid-2020 to May of 2022, the market was hot and houses were regularly selling with multiple offers. There were a lot of buyers waiving inspections and other important contingencies just to get the home. Since then, I have seen a lot of buyer remorse from people who overpaid for a home that had a lot of deferred maintenance. Having the right agent who truly knows all aspects of real estate could really protect clients. The market is always changing and having an experienced agent that truly cares about you and your needs is of the utmost importance. If you want to buy an investment, ask questions to see how knowledgeable the agent is, including if they have any investments themselves. Just like in all fields, a great agent is worth every penny, but the bad ones could give the industry a bad name.
- Private equity firms buying up homes for portfolios — There are many markets where private equity firms bought up a lot of single family homes and rented them out for returns for their investors. My worry is if the market takes a big hit, and a firm decides to dump a large amount of homes in an area, it could have a negative impact on that specific market by devaluing other people’s home prices with a big influx of inventory at one time. A lot of these firms bought heavily in primary and secondary markets where the populations are well over 1 million, so the impact may not be drastic, but still something to watch, should there be a big shift and the firms need to dump large amounts of inventory at one time.
What advice would you give to other real estate leaders to help their teams to thrive and to create a really fantastic work culture?
Hiring teams can be a tricky part of the business, but with the right tools and mindset you can build a strong team to back you. I always hire employees who have the same values as me, and what I hope to achieve for my business. It’s also important to hire employees whose strengths complement yours and add value to your team. For example, when we are hiring, we ask ourselves what 3 skills we need our new hire to be excellent at in order to move our business forward. Then, once on board, we have them sign a pledge that those are the core areas they will focus on being great at.
Ok, here is the main question of our interview. You are a “Real Estate Insider”. If you had to advise someone about 5 non-intuitive things one should know to succeed in the Real Estate industry, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?
- Building a strong team is critically important. Your team should consist of a good realtor, one that shares the same values, and has the knowledge and expertise to help guide you on your journey. Also a great lender, one with an underwriter mind is a game changer. You don’t want a deal to fall through at the 11th hour due to a lender that is not a closer. In addition, a good insurance agent to help with risk management, and a good attorney for closings and legal questions. As a buyer, you don’t need to find these on your own, a good realtor will put you in touch with the right people, but still vet them to ensure they align with you and your goals.
- You don’t have to be a millionaire to get into real estate and start building wealth. It is tough to get started but I promise, it is worth it. There is a misconception that we need to be wealthy to buy real estate, but that’s just not true. There are many creative ways to get started. Sometimes you just need the money OR the deal.
- Adopt a positive mindset. Success is having an abundance mindset and acting on it. A lot of people will say that ‘there are no deals’ or ‘the market is too saturated,’ among other reasons that prevent them from jumping in. There will always be reasons not to do something, but shifting your mindset to an abundance one is a game-changer. Just by pushing the negative thoughts out and believing anything can be accomplished, it can help free up our biggest hurdles in life.
- Be open to coaching. I owe a lot of my success to being in the right rooms, going to investor meetups and being consistent. I wouldn’t be where I am today without networking and coaching. Every hurdle I went through, I had guidance from someone who has tackled it before and could get me through it quicker. You would be amazed at how much progress you can make in 6 months to a year by taking action.
- As a starting point to investing, try househacking. Whether it is buying a 2–4 unit property, renting out the other units and living in one, owning a lot with space to put a few campers/mobile homes on, or a home with a mother in-law suite to rent, there are many ways to buy your first property and have the “househacking” cover a good portion if not all of your mortgage. Our living expenses are our biggest expense so, why not buy a home that pays you to live there?
Because of your position, you are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I believe in living your WHY right now. I see so many people who take one week of vacation a year, work 70 hours a week, and spend their lives doing everything they can to make money for the future. Then at age 65 when they can finally retire, they have wasted a lot of their healthy years and may not be able to travel or do the things they worked so hard for. This is my biggest fear. I didn’t think this way until I was almost 40 years old, and I’ve changed my mindset to embrace life more.
What is the reason we work so hard to make money? Usually for time later on and to live out our WHY. My WHY is traveling with my family, experiencing new cultures and the world, and giving back to our youth. There are so many activities that cost little to no money, and can make the best memories. I see it with my daughter all the time — I can buy her a toy, but she’d rather walk around the yard with me and hold the fly swatter. Let’s go back to our youthful selves where we can just enjoy the experiences with the people we love, doing things we love to do.
I am reading the book Die with Zero and the basic lesson is that we work so hard to accumulate all this money, but we only have so much of life’s energy. If we use it all at work, we miss out on memories and experiences. What’s the point of dying with $47M in the bank account if you could have worked 10 less years and enjoyed more experiences? I try to make it a point in my career and in my own life that myself and my team are living a good life now and not waiting. I’d love for this mindset to become a norm versus an anomaly.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Learn more about my team and the work we do at www.danrivers.com. You can also follow me on Facebook (Rivers Capital Group), Instagram (@danrivers_rcg), and Youtube (Dan Rivers) to see what Rivers Capital Group is up to!
Thank you for your time, and your excellent insights! We wish you continued success.
About The Interviewer: Jason Hartman is the Founder and CEO of Empowered Investor. Jason has been involved in several thousand real estate transactions and has owned income properties in 11 states and 17 cities. Empowered Investor helps people achieve The American Dream of financial freedom by purchasing income property in prudent markets nationwide. Jason’s Complete Solution for Real Estate Investors™ is a comprehensive system providing real estate investors with education, research, resources and technology to deal with all areas of their income property investment needs. Through Jason’s podcasts, educational events, referrals, mentoring and software to track your investments, investors can easily locate, finance and purchase properties in these exceptional markets with confidence and peace of mind.
Starting with very little, Jason, while still in college at the age of 19, embarked on a career in real estate. While brokering properties for clients, he was investing in his own portfolio along the way. Through creativity, persistence and hard work, he earned a number of prestigious industry awards and became a young multi-millionaire. Jason purchased a California real estate brokerage firm that was later acquired by Coldwell Banker. He combined his dedication and business talents to become a successful entrepreneur, public speaker, author, and media personality. Over the years he developed his Complete Solution for Real Estate Investors™ where his innovative firm educates and assists investors in acquiring prudent investments nationwide for their portfolio. Jason’s sought after educational events, speaking engagements, and his popular “Creating Wealth Podcast” inspire and empower hundreds of thousands of people in 189 countries worldwide.
While running his successful real estate and media businesses, Jason also believes that giving back to the community plays an important role in building strong personal relationships. He established The Jason Hartman Foundation in 2005 to provide financial literacy education to young adults providing the all-important real world skills not taught in school which are the key to the financial stability and success of future generations. We’re in a global monetary crisis caused by decades of misguided policies and the cycle of financial dependence has to be broken, literacy and self-reliance are a good start. Visit JasonHartman.com for free materials and resources.