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Chris Prefontaine has had various careers within the real estate industry over the past 30 years. Today, his family-owned business in Newport, RI, still buys 4 to 10 properties per month via lease-purchases and owner financing and has engineered more than $75 million in transactions. He is also a passionate mentor about helping others grow and has coached more than 30,000 people throughout the U.S. and Canada during the last 17 years. If you’re serious about making money in the real estate investment business, tune in!
More about him – https://smartrealestatecoach.com/action/
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Itunes – www.TonyJavier.com/itunes
Welcome to the show today. We have Mr. Chris Prefontaine on the show. He is an experienced investor with 30 years under his belt runs a,flipping operation with his family, doing a lot of deals. Chris, welcome to the show. Appreciate you taking the time to be with us today.
Thanks Tony. Always good to hang out with someone that’s been around since pre oh eight. We didn’t say that, but if I do your years, you’ve been around for a while too. It’s awesome.
Yeah, if you make it through oh eight, I mean, I’m in the Midwest. My real estate markets. We didn’t take as big a hit, but anybody who came through oh eight, especially in the bigger markets is is doing something, something good. Cause yeah, it was a tough time. And you know, now it’s fruitful. It’s the opposite end of it. Right. I mean, 2008 is like, it was the bottom. And then all of a sudden it’s like right now, it’s just, you know, everybody’s making money. If you find a decent deal, everyone’s making money. So yeah. So tell us about your business. Just give us a little background, kind of how you started 30 years in the business. So, you know, I, you know, when I say 20 years in the business, people say, man, that’s a long time, but I don’t meet a lot of people that have been in the business 30 years. So tell us how you got started and how you got to where you are now.
Yeah, the thanks of rubbing in the date.
So you started when you were 10 ish or so.
Yeah. Right. Good answer. No. So 91 ish, we started building homes. We were building on spot lots to single families. We would actually tie up the land with the owner, put the home up, all the sub contractors. Everybody would wait till the end. When the buyer cash out, the home, everybody get paid. It was kind of unique. We were young that went to 195. 95 I bought a Realty executives franchise. So I kind of put on the broker hat, sold that to Coldwell banker in 2000. And then from that point on started the whole journey of investing, you know, on my own, more than onesy twosies, and then coaching as well back in 2000 onward. But that led to the debacle. You and I just talked about right? ’08. And so after ’08 we re-engineered everything, literally everything, it took us three or four years.
But now instead of buying homes, conventionally or putting 20% down or raising money, we buy everything on terms. We buy at least purchase owner financing or subject to that’s it. So we don’t quantity loans personally. It’s a whole different mindset. I tell people, you and I were just talking about clubhouse. I tell people there in at our events, I’m not saying it’s a bad method to go out and raise money. Some people love doing it. We just choose not to do that, not to sign for a sale loan. So that’s what we do now. When I say we, it’s myself, my son-in-law Zach and my son, Nick, we’re in Rhode Island. So we do sort of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut. And then we have students, we call them associates who we actually lock arms with Tony. We do deals with them. So we’re in the trenches with them. We’re not going to go, here’s a product. Good luck. Cause I think there’s a lot of crap out there like that. We actually get in the trenches. We do deals in about, oh, I don’t know now probably 80 or a hundred of them out there doing deals. So many states in Canada.
Nice, nice. So when you say you’re doing deals with them, so you’re coaching them and then they go lock up deals and then you’re taking them through the whole process. So it’s not just, here’s a product, go do it yourself. It’s actually taking them through the implementation process and making sure that they succeed through the whole thing.
Yeah. You said it right? Like the implementation is so huge. As you know, you’ve been doing this long enough to know that the interaction, the interactive coaching, that’s where you learn the most. So it’s yeah. He has something to do with his, a through Z. Now go do ABC, get this done and bring me the lead. We talk to sell it to us at the beginning, we talked to buyers for them. My son handles other buyers. So our team does exactly what we do in our own deals with the students. And if there’s a certain one that where they don’t need us anymore, we call it capping out. They do like 10 deals with us. There’s a rev share. And at the end of that, they do what we call cap out and they get to keep all, because they don’t need us for life. They just need that ramp up to get deals going and not make the same mistakes we have. Right. So that’s a key thing.
No, I liked that. I liked that. Because a lot of people that I talked to, because I have a gap funding business and other things I work with real estate investors, but that’s one of the big things is when people get started, they just don’t know how to implement. Like they, they, they, you know, buy into some program or they, you know, listen to audio books or whatever it is, but for them to go and execute is a whole different thing. So for you to be able to hold their hand through the whole process and do that, I think is, is awesome and really smart. So you say 80 to 100, so this is all throughout the country, right? So it’s not just certain markets. It’s someone comes to you, they’re in Kansas city, Missouri. They want to invest, they go through your program and then you coach them how to get started in their market. Correct. So it doesn’t have to be in a certain market.
Yeah. Correct. Any market right now everywhere is sort of hot, like you said, so it’s not like we’re handpicking markets. They come to us, they have to apply. We look for not market. We look for more values, you know, what’s their background. Are they going to fit with the community, we’re pretty tight community family-wise, the wicked smart community, we call it and we’re picky. We say no to people. Believe it or not. And all the mentors say, you’re kidding me. Like, why would you turn someone away? It’s very important. We protect it. We protect the infrastructure and the, and the people in it.
Mm. And how long have you had that model in place? That’s that’s a unique, I say unique model. I probably heard just a few people throughout the last 20 years. I’m in a business actually have a model where they deep dive with the student or client, whatever you want to call them and do the deals with them and do the rev share. And that’s, you know, people think, well maybe rev share, I don’t want to give a part of my profits, but if they can do 10 deals with you and give you a little bit of the profits, as opposed to doing none or maybe just a couple without you, it makes them money, makes more sense. Yeah, totally. Absolutely. In fact, yeah, I get deals sent to me where people want me to fund deals and I’m like, I don’t know why you’re doing this deal.
Like you’re not – in a hot market like this, you may make money. Cause you know, I may go over asking price or what you think it’s worth. But in, in a regular market and I don’t like to speculate, so it’s like, you know, this is not a good deal. Right. So yeah. Yeah. You’re totally right. Totally right. Well, that’s great. So so let’s come and get into the nitty-gritty like, you know, 30 years, you’ve been through a lot. 20 years, I feel like I’ve been through a lot. But even someone that’s been five or 10 years in the business, you go through a lot in a short amount of time. So tell us about some of the things that were either turning points in your career or things that you went through that would be good learning lessons that you’d like to like to talk about.
Yeah. A couple of things come to mind, no particular what you said, something really like about them, not knowing how to do certain things or implementing it’s the it’s that, but also as far as my whole path, it’s also the confidence, like the mental piece of this game, as you know, all too well is a much bigger piece than people think coming in. So in other words, in my opinion, I’d like to hear you or they think, okay, I’ll go learn this niche or this niche or wholesaling terms like us. And they keeps stacking on these skill-sets. We teach like three pillars, mindset, skill set, and systems. The system that skill sets are important. I’m not, I’m not watering it down, but if I keep stacking those two on and the mental game is not in place, they’re toast. It’s just going to be stacking on top of, you know, a bunch of crap.
So, so the real key part is realizing that. And I realized that I was like journey through the only two times I had a, kind of a tough real estate. I didn’t have a mentor or a coach to kind of give, show you the light. Like there’s going to be mental challenges. So you need somebody to show you the light and say, okay, here’s how you pivot. And then the biggest pivot was certainly the ’08 crash, no question. And that was just kind of defining a new box of rules to say, what won’t we do? We won’t side for sale loans, we won’t jeopardize credit or assets and we won’t go raising money. Now does some money find us through, through word of mouth? Sure. But I don’t go, we don’t syndicate deals and do that bigger stuff again, not saying it’s a bad niche, it’s a great niche, just not a lane. That was the biggest pivot and not sounding personally and just doing things on terms and there’s a boatload of people. I’m sure your listeners that would love to learn how to buy a property for 10 bucks. That’s how these purchase, that’s kind of like the entry level. Can you get more sophisticated later and do owner financing and sub twos and all that? Sure. But the entry level is that simple $10 sandwich lease deal and not all states, but Texas.
Well, that’s amazing. So all deals. So even your students, so you said you buy deals subject to you, don’t get loans and all that kind of stuff. So all of your students, do you teach them how to do that? And is that all they do or do some of those students also raise money and, or get loans and private money and that kind of thing.
Good question. Okay. So the new students tend to follow the path, right? They say, okay, show me no, I’ll stay with that. Other students who find us like there’s some big wholesalers I met on that same podcast you mentioned that I’m talking $10 million businesses who attacking this on to what they already have. Cause they, they like having both variables coming into their pipeline. Then in that case, they do a whole bunch of other stuff. Right. we have a gentlemen now looking at us who I met, actually met him on clubhouse, but he’s a big developer as a partner in the U S and he’s in Canada. They don’t need to do extra deals. They like the variety of tacking this on. So it doesn’t mix in the database. Most people just do this lane. And let me comment on that too real quick.
I, again, love to get your opinion on this. There’s so many niches in real estate that I tell the new person look, find out which one you want. They’re all good. I’m not so naive to think we’re it. Then find someone in the niche that is still active. Like you arrive, that’s had the experience, it’s still doing it. And then third put the blinders on for 36 months. So then you don’t get all these tripped up by all these shiny objects. After that, great. Go for it after you’re an expert. But before that, you’re going to get tripped up. If you start looking at all these shiny objects, in my opinion, I’d love to know what your thoughts are on that.
No, I think first of all, I’d go back to the mindset. Yeah, totally. The mindset is everything, right? I mean, think that’s the difference between people that are doing deals and not doing deals. That’s the difference between someone who’s in business and doesn’t succeed and fails and someone who’s been in business for, for decades potentially. So totally, totally get that side. Like people need to get over the mental hurdles of, you know, I can’t do this or I can’t do that or I need, I need money to make, like, I get that all the time. Like I want to invest in real estate, but I just don’t have the money to do it. Right. And I don’t, I, and I, and I don’t want it, like, I’m, I’m not a true coach. I wouldn’t consider myself a true coach. But if I was, I would, that would be my first thing is like, no, you need to raise yourself your mental state up to where you need to figure out how to do deals without having money. Right. So that’s the first thing. And then I’m sorry, what was the last thing you mentioned that you wanted me to touch on?
Just the shiny object syndrome. You know, I tell people, I’m not saying it takes 36 months to do a deal. It doesn’t, we have students that do it in a year and, and students to take 30, 30 days, but, but stay in that lane, at least mindset wise that you’re going to stay in that lane without all the shiny objects coming in. It’s my opinion.
Yeah. I agree with that. You know, there, there’s a point where I was chasing all kinds of shiny objects and it was, and it was things that are way outside my lane. Like multi-level marketing companies that were selling something outside of real estate, like just, you know, so I still chase a few shiny objects, but luckily I’ve got two solid businesses that have been around for a long time that I don’t have to spend a lot of time on. And then the businesses that I do, quote, unquote, chase, shiny objects, they have to tie in with what I already do. So like the, the real estate masterminds, the gap funding and the TV program that I mentioned to you, like those all have to do with real estate. And I know that I don’t want to run those. I need to get people in place to run those.
So that, I mean, that that’s kind of high level, right. Someone who’s getting into the business at first does need to pick a lane, stick with that and then maybe veer a little bit outside. Okay. If this isn’t working, maybe try something here and there. But yeah, some people will say, I want to do this. And then I have a conversation with them a week, two weeks later. And they’re like, oh, by the way, I found cryptocurrency. And it’s like, okay, that’s way outside of what we talked about a week or two ago. But you know, if you want to dabble on that, that’s fine. But you know, going full force into two different things at once can be a little draining, so yeah.
You can do it. You get 20 years in two good businesses. That’s called research and smart thinking and CEO mode. That’s different. Yeah. That’s good stuff when you do it. Right. Oh, you and I explore and we vet it out. Yeah. But yeah, I am talking with the new people. Yeah.
Yeah. And I, and I’m, and I’m exploring blue oceans right now. I mean, gap funding. There’s not any big companies that I know of that do that. So we’re growing that business pretty rapidly and a lot of people need it. And then I mentioned the TV program, we’re teaching people how to do TV in their markets. And there’s not very many people in the US that are actually doing TV. So not only do we have some solid foundations to build on, but we’re also going after things that nobody else is really doing. So that’s, that’s what I love to do. Yeah. cool. So what’s next for you? So like, you know, you’ve done the real estate sales side, you’ve done the building, you’re doing the coaching. You know, w do you have an end goal? Do you have like the next five or 10 years plan? Like, just give us a vision of kind of, kind of where you’re going. I always like to see what people are looking to do in the next five to 10 years.
Yeah. A couple of things. One is, so we have a few different levels of, of these associates that we do deals with, right. And the highest level, the ones that I coach personally, and my son-in-law. So we’re constantly looking to stack on things to that level. One of the things is kind of helping them become the authority in the Rockaway. So like you have a podcast, so you’re clearly an authority in your space. We try to do the same. And so we’re helping them become the authority in their space. So as all the noise comes into their markets, you know, the big players, Zillow, all these things happening with properties, that they’re the one that gets found because of becoming the authority, whether it be a YouTube channel or podcasts or TV or whatever it might be. That’s one thing, the second thing is our present mission ends in 2022, at the end of 2022 to create 500 transactions with just them. And so we’ll rewrite that as what we’ll do and keep this thing scaling, because it’s all about doing the transaction. So when a decision comes down the pike, like you said, when you’re researching other companies and other profit centers, if it, if it feeds that mission of doing more transactions, we’re on it. And if it doesn’t, we pivot. So it’s all about more transactions right now for the associates for sure.
I like that. I just got an off from that and that you, you, so you have a coaching business, a lot of people who have businesses in general, especially coaching businesses may not have like a measurable of what they’re wanting to do, or even like a, a true vision. So I like that 2022, it’s like our vision is to get 500 transactions for our students. And then once we do that, then we’ll figure out what the next step is. I really liked that. That’s a, that’s a good one. So let’s talk about marketing. So that’s a big thing right now. Like the market is super on fire properties, you find a good property. You can sell, it’s no issue. People are making, you know, 30 to 50 grand on deals they never would’ve made 20 grand on just because of the way the market is. So it’s all about finding deals right now. So what do you feel like is, are some of the big things that that are, that are good marketing channels that you like to teach upon and to implement yourself?
Yeah. So when the market’s not red hot, we were relying pretty heavily, like 95%. So market’s a hundred on just that virtual assistance contacting expired fisbo and for rent by owner. Now is as the market heated up, a lot of them, they’re not spending a ton of money like a wholesale money, but they’re spending a little money on niched lists. Some of the niche lists for us are free and clear. We love free and clear, because we structure long-term owner financing deals with principal only payments there’s sweet deals. I also love the properties that have over 30% equity right now, because sadly enough, you’ve got for the last nine years in the U S a nice run-up of equity buildup for people, and there’s millions. The stats, someone told me that stat that day. It’s astronomical amount of properties that are going through foreclosure when this thing lifts right.
The moratorium. So it was a whole bunch of people that are going to lose those maybe, or we can help them. And so we’re doing some postcards, but that’s unusual for us. Usually it’s all phone work, believe it or not. And then we have our own podcast, somebody you, so not my smart real estate coach podcast. We have not your average transaction podcasts. That is my son and son-in-law, and that’s helping because that’s speaking directly to the buyers and sellers that we can help. But, you know, in this chaos, they need help. They need a guide, a yes, their market screaming hot, but yes, we need a lot of people in trouble soon, too.
Yup. Yup. So owner finance, let’s talk about that a little bit. So people, people don’t understand that, what that model, which you’re talking about. Basically it’s using using other people to finance your project. So instead of going and getting a loan and paying them off, you’re using either their existing debt on the property and keeping it in place or taking their equity and just paying them their equity over time so that you don’t have to so you don’t have to come up with the money upfront. So someone was in my mastermind the other day, and it was, it was, it was mind blowing that he’s doing a lot of deals like you are in one of the ways he’s structuring some of his deals is he’s doing, I think it’s either like 0% or like 1% financing from the seller. So if let’s say, you know, he goes in at a a hundred thousand asking price and the sellers at 140, it’s like, no, I can’t pay 140 unless
We do terms and we pay you over time. So he’s doing low interest financing and getting five, 10 year terms. I think even when he said he got 20 or 30 year terms, it was crazy. And it’s like, man, if you’re paying like low to zero interest on a 20 to 30 year note, your price can be much higher and you need a lot more deals done that way. Right. so tell us how you structure your deals. Do you structure them that way, where they are shirt for sure. Low-Interest or are they higher interest or are they kind of a combination? So I kind of let you speak on how you talk people through them. Yep.
So spot on a lot of ways. So here’s what we do – with the free and clear properties. Now let’s just address that, that lane, the free and clear properties. Yes. nine times out of 10, we’re doing principal only. So to your point, if a property is at 500,000, can I, and I’m going to make $1,800 monthly principal payments. Can I afford to pay that seller 5, 10, 5 0 8, 5 12, whatever, some kind of a premium, because I’m going to eat that up and just a few months payments. Yes. We do that a lot, a real estate’s typical process, four to seven years. When COVID hit the entire database entire community. We have started poaching for longer terms instead of getting it right away because cells are in a panic back then. So we got some nice 5, 7, 10 year terms, principal only now, but has a couple of pivots.
So in a little house, and that’ll give you a metric to show you how we do six-figure deals all day long and like a set metric. We had a house where you only bought 183 grand on a financing, nothing down principal, only payments. It was a four year deal, but after two years we just throw out ourselves, we hit around Christmas time holidays, and we say, Hey, we want to prepay some of the principal towards, on the back end balloons. And for that, we want a year extension because it’s another year of principal pay down. They said, yes, we paid like six grand for 12 grand worth of more payments. Next year they came to us and said, Hey, we do that thing again. We said Yeah. And then after that time, now we got a six year deal. We said, how about if we add a little interest? I think it was like four point something. And we picked us out 15 more years. Their accountant loved it. Cause they were in retirement. So you can do variable deals like that, that tears up the interest, my office buildings, a 20 year deal. That was nine months of principal. And then he got his way we advertised as interest rate.
So you’re doing this on office deals too.
Our building. We have all our companies in it and we have two great tenants. Yeah.
Okay. Fantastic. And the other thing that people don’t realize is that the tax benefit for the seller. So if they haven’t occupied the property to add last five years and they sell it, there’s that big you know, there’s that big tax it, but if they’re only getting 5, 10, 15, 20 grand, whatever the number is each year, they’re only having to pay taxes on that amount. So not only are they having to pay less taxes, they’re able to pay them over time because you know, if they pay taxes and the money sits in their bank account, they’re not doing with anything with it anyway, then it’s just, they just pay that big tax, and it was worth nothing. So anything else you want to touch on with that? I think owner financing is something that we only do probably two or three deals like that per year, where we’ll just take over the note.
And we actually just take over the low interest note that they’ve already paid down over 10 years or whatever the number is, but we don’t do a lot of the free and clear, you know, amortized over 20 years, principal or a only payment kind of things. But this is fascinating. I love talking about this. And every time I talk about it, I’m like, I need to get my team on, on this, you know, continue to push this on them. But anything else you want to add to that? Cause that’s, that’s good stuff.
Well, I’ll give you the metrics. I said I would for the audience, I almost forgot. So the metric is simple. If you have a property is free and clear and it’s a $200,000 or more purchase price. And the principal only monthly payments are nine and a quarter or higher. And you get four years in that, the way we exit out deals with three paydays, you have a hundred thousand dollars plus deal. In that case, it was like 128 for us. But it’s a six-figure deal every time if you do those three metrics that I gave you.
Say that again, I want to write it down. And I’m a visual guy. Say that again. Give me those three metrics again.
200 thousand purchase. You structure monthly principal, only payments of 900, a quarter or higher. I think guys is 9 23 in this deal.
Now when you say nine and a quarter, you’re talking about nine and a quarter
Monthly principal only to the seller holding the note.
You’re giving them 9.2, 5% of the principal?
No, sorry. $925 monthly principal payment. Principal. So whatever that is a year 10, 12 grand, 10, 11 grand. And then you’d get four year terms at least. Four year terms.
So basically you’re saying after the four years you’ve paid down, you paid it down enough to where you’re gonna make over a hundred thousand on that deal.
Well, the way we exit, cause we exit with a rent to own. So we, we take a pay day up front with a non-refundable. We get all their principal pay down, plus the monthly spread, the differential and the mock up at the end. So yeah, it’s a hundred K the other way we exited.
Fantastic. I love it. I love this creativity. That’s how I got started. I got started buying the no down payment, no down payment program by Carleton Sheets. Which back at that time was I think in the seventies and eighties, or whenever you started, it was like mind blowing. And then even in the early two thousands, it was still, when I got a big game, it still was not highly talked about. I think that’s why the program did, did so well, but that was the one thing he talked about – raising money, or taking over other people’s notes, or getting owner financing somehow from those sellers. So I love talking about this stuff. It’s good. Good stuff. Cool. So so we’re getting towards the end here. Anything else that you want to touch on? What, like, what else are you, what else are some good nuggets of like things throughout the last 30 years you feel like have been key things you’ve implemented in your business and your mindset, whatever it is to keep that longevity of of 30 years.
To be honest with you, I would have to default to as a kind of a one statement for wrap up here to mentors and coaches only because the only two times I had the hiccups is when I didn’t have one. And if you, I said that at the very beginning in a different light, but that’s going to be key. I don’t care who you are or what niche you’re going into. You got to do that step I say with finding someone or some group or something that you can attach to, that’s already been there. If you do that, you have a great experience. If you don’t, you may or may not. Right. We don’t know.
Yeah, you’re absolutely right. The first – I tell this to my podcast listeners if they listen to all my episodes, that i say this, every podcast, the first 10 years of my business were way different than my second 10. And part of it had to do with support and mastermind and that kind of thing. The first 10 years, I didn’t have any support. I mean, I didn’t see any, like I may have asked here and there for a little bit of guidance, but I didn’t pay for a coach. I didn’t, attend masterminds. Like it was just like me putting my head down and grinding away and figuring it out. But once I hired a coach, once I started going to masterminds, like the whole game changed and all of a sudden I was using not only just like I was using everybody else’s experience and mistakes and you know, all that kind of stuff to implement into my business. It completely changed.
And I went from, you know, being a lone ranger for the most part. Cause I had to fire my staff to just a few years later. You know, the coach that I hired had a real estate business that ran on its own. And I’m like, there’s no way you can create a real estate business where you don’t meet the buyers. You don’t meet with sellers. You don’t, you know, don’t do all that, don’t manage the contractors who are, you know, really tough to manage. And within four years I was out of my business and now I work on it three hours a week. So it’s mind blowing, so that’s awesome. Good stuff. So you mentioned coaching, I know you’ve got a program, you do some stuff I’d love for people to contact you and get, I think you said that you had a free consultation, so where, where do they go to get a hold of you, Chris?
Yeah so I’m big on free. They can go to smartrealestatecoach.com/action. That’ll give them a 15 or 20 minute strategy call with myself, my son-in-law Zach, or Brian, our strategy expert. So there’s no agenda there. You come with what challenges you think you might have to get in the business or work into the business and we’ll help you with that. We’ll leave you with some nuggets. You can also go to our free masters class. It’s 35 minutes. It’s not gonna teach you to make a million dollars tomorrow, but it will expose you to some of the things that Tony and I are talking about inside the terms world, go to smartrealestatecoach.com/mastersclass. That’s free too.
Awesome, good stuff, Chris, I appreciate you sharing your experience and in what you’re doing over there, keep doing what you’re doing. And you know, it’s cool that you’ve got so many students throughout the country that you’re helping implement real estate investing. And it’s just as you probably know, you know, when you impact that many people, it hopefully just spreads out to more people and you create not only affects with those students, but everybody that they touch as well. So good stuff. I appreciate you. Well, we’ll catch up soon.
Thanks Tony. You too. Keep going.