Tag Archives: Rent Houses

What do Michael Jordan, Itzhak Pearlman and Real Estate Investing have in common?

Michael Jordan – Itzhak Perlman – Real Estate Investing?

I’d be willing to bet that you never thought you’d see those two names in the same sentence, much less the same article about Real Estate Investing, right?

Welcome to my brain!

Michael Jordan: Arguably the best basketball player of all time.

Itzhak Perlman: A polio victim who became a world famous violinist.

These two men are great examples of how a person can excel if they put their mind to it.  But, what does this have to do with Real Estate Investing?   As property investors, our goal is to make money, possibly quit our day job, but just like becoming a world famous violinist or the world’s best basketball player, you can’t do this flippantly. A little effort may make you a little money, but EXTREME effort could make you an ALL-STAR in the Investment game.

How do you get really good?  You must ‘tune up’ your brain and learn the rules.  You must ‘exercise your brain’ so that every time you shoot that real estate basketball deal toward the hoop, it swishes! (He shoots, HE SCORES!)


  1. Attend meetings, every meeting and go to seminars.  You can visit the National Real Estate Investors Association website to see if there is a local REIA club in your area.  If there is, this is the BEST place to learn how to become a REIA All-Star.  (www.NationalREIA.com)  My local REIA group is the Memphis Investors Group:  http://www.memphisinvestorsgroup.com
  2. Take notes. Just like in school, write them down, then review them later.
  3. Study the notes you’ve taken, organize them into investment categories (landlording, finding good tenants, wholesaling, insurance, bookkeeping, taxes, etc.) and then study some more.
  4. Write down questions you have, you can put these in your phone or on a note card, and ask an expert at the next Friday Luncheon or MIG meeting.
  5. Never stop reading great books about real estate investing strategies but don’t neglect to also learn about running your business.
  6. REMEMBER: Being a real estate investor is a business, so don’t neglect learning how to run a business (if you’ve never run a business before).  In the real estate investing businesses, records, file organization and bookkeeping are extremely important especially if an auditor comes calling.
  7. PRACTICING FUNDAMENTALS is the only way to get good, really good, at this sport.

I’m sure that Jordan has shot about 10-million free-throws in his lifetime. Perlman has probably played violin concertos until he could play them backwards and blindfolded…all from memory. You need to do this with your career in real estate investing.

In order to be great at Real Estate Investing, you need to develop a certain muscle group, mainly your brain and logic; you need an education.  I’m not telling you to go back to college, though you could, but a great place to get started with your education is at MIG meetings.

Next, get creative.  Take what you’ve learned from the masters and add to that your own style, your own ideas and create something unique, your own brand.

The next step is to DO.  Once you get the education, you must begin to stretch your wings and take some steps into your dream.  Shoot that basketball toward the hoop.  Draw that bow across those strings.  Will it swish the first time? Will you be a virtuoso immediately?  Nope.  BUT, the only way to get better is to practice.  Dr. Sinichi Suzuki, the inventor of the Suzuki Violin Method (which teaches 3-year-olds to play the violin) says the old adage “Practice makes Perfect” is incorrect.  He says, “Perfect Practice plus 100 repetitions makes perfect.” 

  • Start small: Beginning on an elementary level is ok.  We all start somewhere.
  • Get advice to do it right: Talk to your professionals, take “lessons” if you will, talk to the coach and run the drills.
  • Negotiate and Close the deal: Take yourself off the bench and play in the game
  • Make the money: Win the game.
  • Repeat 100 times. Perfect practice plus 100 repetitions makes you money. (Wash.    Repeat).

Expand the muscles of your brain, just like an athlete or musician who has honed their skills, don’t take what you do lightly, but then again, it isn’t rocket science.  Study, learn and apply (do) what you have been taught.


Always pass on what you have learned.  Do or do not.  There is no try.  ~ Yoda

Happy Investing!

Copyright: Janne Zaccagnino

Running the Business of YOURSELF Better…

There is a wealth of free information available to us via the web.  I know many of us “old folks” are not in love with the web, computers or new technology, but it is really incredible how much you can learn for FREE if you know where to go for the information you need.

In my day job as a home designer, I was recently looking for information on Solar Panels.  Search for that on YouTube.com and you get hundreds of videos, everything from where to buy them, what brands to buy, to how to install them, how to link batteries – both serial and parallel (whatever that means) and how many do you need for the Watt hours you’ll be using… WAY more information that I could actually digest, but extremely helpful!

Last weekend I tried to pick up a pair of knitting needles that had been sitting in a basket for over 2 years.  I couldn’t remember the first thing about knitting.   I opened a knitting book, but it was full of these weird abbreviations causing me to get lost immediately.  “YO” and “Slip 1” and “PSSO” and “K2tog”. I was lost until I remembered YouTube.  So I searched for “Knitting YO” and there were dozens of instructional videos about that one stitch.  So each time I came across an abbreviation that I didn’t know, I searched for that thing specifically.  Before I knew it, I was knitting again.

It doesn’t matter what you are interested in doing, whether Real Estate Investing, starting a Food Truck, cooking in a Pressure Cooker or Knitting there are YouTube videos and Pod Casts for every walk of life, even Real Estate Investing.  To prove my point, go to YouTube.com and type in “Real Estate Investing” and you’ll see a list like this:

Be Specific on what you are searching for!
Be Specific on what you are searching for!

Click on any one of these topics and you’ll get a bunch of videos to watch.

If you are not an experienced investor, M.I.G. is definitely the best place to be for monthly meetings and break-out meetings as far as education and networking are concerned.  Many M.I.G. members are very experienced in their particular course of investments (Wholesaling, Buy & Hold, Hard Money Lending, etc.) and are happy to help educate the rest of us, but one thing we could all use some help on every once in a while is running the business of ourselves better.  When it comes to our own Real Estate Investment companies, many of us work for ourselves and though we may extensive formal education, most of us need refresher courses in running our daily business of ME.  How do we recharge ourselves to get re-invigorated about the business we own (or aspire to own)?  How do we plan out our day to keep the main thing the main thing and to avoid having the tail wag the dog?

How do we prioritize our daily activities so that we:

1.) Get the things done that need to be done; and

2.) Improve ourselves a little bit each day; or

3.) Become a better business person and overall better individual?

There are countless self-help books that can be checked out at the local library that we can read for free, or purchased in a store or online, but which book would you begin with? There are thousands to choose from!  You can get recommendations from other M.I.G. members or from your friends.  A few favorites would include Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, Seven Secrets of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, or Failing Forward by John Maxwell.  There are literally hundreds of books out there that will come highly recommended, but if you are like me, the first thing you’ll get is overwhelmed by so many choices.   My quick answer to this “where to begin” question would be podcasts and/or YouTube videos. They are generally short and free.  You can listen while you are otherwise bored:  while driving or waiting in a line at the DMV or the doctor’s office.  You can “subscribe” to these which makes listening/viewing very easy.  My suggestion on the perfect place to begin this year:  Listen to the Bigger Pockets podcast # 157 (created on January 14, 2016) and work your way back to # 1.

I am a member of Bigger Pockets (www.biggerpockets.com), a national club, a lot like the Memphis Investors Group where you can go online to visit discussion forums, get forms for your investing business, network, ask and answer questions, etc.  They even have calculators where you fill in the blanks to see if a deal is worth the investment (membership has its privileges). Kevin Perk, former M.I.G. president (SmarterLandlording.com) has a regular posts on Bigger Pockets.

Last Thursday I got the weekly email about their new podcast and as I was reading through the main page (on my phone at a traffic light – it was red!) I accidentally hit “play” on the podcast and because I was driving, decided to let it play rather than listening to my music (for a change of pace) because I have a daily one-way commute of 30 minutes and podcasts really make the time fly.  WOW!  Was it AMAZING!  It was not about Real Estate Investments per-se, but about beginning your day better regardless of your line of work.  The guest was Hal Elron, who wrote the book The Miracle Morning which has sold THOUSANDS of copies to date.  The podcast was certainly worth the time spent listening and that has prompted me to actually purchase the book as I believe it will be well worth the read.

I highly recommend the podcast and/or YouTube video (of the same thing).  You can listen to the podcast here:  https://www.biggerpockets.com/renewsblog/2016/01/14/bp-podcast-157-simple-morning-ritual-help-dominate-every-area-life-with-hal-elrod/ (even while you drive) or you can watch the interview on YouTube here from your home computer or mobile devise:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeiqShce96w

I find it cool that a well respected person like Robert Kiyasoki has not only enjoyed this book personally and put its principals into practice, but has highly recommend it to regular folks like you and me.


Quote from Amazon: “As my rich dad often said, “I can always make another dollar, but I cannot make another day.” If you want to maximize every day of your life, read Miracle Morning.”  – Robert Kiyosaki


I hope some of you out there will read this book with me, but will also recommend other books that are especially meaningful to you as I’m always up for a good read… but often get overwhelmed at all the choices!


Janne Zaccagnino

Ralph Jones Home Plans, LLC


We’re Getting CLOSE to completion!

Wow, it seems every day new things happen and I just can’t wait until it’s all done!  Here’s what has happened lately:

Measurements for closet rods/shelves

Measurements for Garage door installation

Cabinets are in, Counters are a-comin’!

Bathroom vanities have been installed (see pics)


2015-05-12 18.43.03 2015-05-12 18.42.20 2015-05-12 18.41.52

Shower door and mirrors are ordered.

Waiting on one tiny sheetrock repair and then off to the paint wars!

Then install mirrors & Shower doors & Garage door

Then flooring….

Lighting, final electrical and final plumbing…

Inspection… Move in!  Hahaha!  I’m sure I’m forgetting something incredibly important, but so far, this is all I can think of… been running around like a crazy person dotting all my “T’s” and crossing all my “I’s”!

I’ve done a craigslist ad for the rental on this unit… hopefully we’ll be done within the month! So excited.


I can’t believe the progress as we near the end of construction.

We have Brick.




We have a cute little porch over the back door:

back porch
back porch

We have CABINETS!!!!!

Master Bathroom (double bowl vanity)
Master Bathroom (double bowl vanity)


Bath 2 Vanity (54" wide)
Bath 2 Vanity (54″ wide)
Incomplete Kitchen Cabinets
Incomplete Kitchen Cabinets

These are the kitchen cabinets here.  He is working on my corner cabinet.  This one faces him (the Dining Area). The dead corner is no longer dead!  I know this cost me a little money, but I wanted to take advantage of every square foot in this house. This may only house tupperware or children’s toys, but it is a much needed cabinet.

The cabinets now have crown molding around the top which makes them look like a custom home rather than a rent house. Stove goes against the wall and the sink/dishwasher will be in this island. The dining room looks HUGE with the cabinets now in! I Think this house will be NICE when finished!  I know there aren’t that many kitchen cabinets, but there will be a lot of counter space and the bonus, a HUGE pantry.

Below we have a pic of the Vaulted Master Bedroom.  Of course it doesn’t look like much YET, but it will be amazing.  10′ ceilings in a rent house.  Nice!

Vaulted Master Bedroom
Vaulted Master Bedroom

Walk in Closet(s):

Closet for Br. 2
Closet for Br. 2

This is the closet for the larger of the kids’ bedrooms.  It is a walk-in.  I utalized the space over the staircase (being sure to leave ample head-height below).  My framers made these two landings in the closet so that the space above could be used.  We will have double rods on the right wall until you get to that highest shelf, but the top rod will continue in an ‘L’ shape around the back wall (straight ahead).  The tops of these two shelves will be carpeted as well as the step.  There is a window on the left wall just out of the picture.  I can only imagine what a little kid will do with this closet as a secret hide-out.  I had a closet like this as a child and LOVED sitting on the shelf reading books.

The view:

Master Bedroom view
Master Bedroom view

The view out the master bedroom window is stunning.  There are undeveloped lands beyond my property.  I’m not sure how long it will stay this way, but for now, it is extreamly peaceful.  I saw deer walking across the property a few months ago and then as spring budded, there was a lone dogwood blooming near this dead tree stump.  Some of the trees will go away, we have some scrub-type trees too close to the house which we will remove, but this will give a nicer yard to my future tenants and will keep them from falling on the house during a storm.  Best of both worlds, loads of trees, just not on my property!

A new Investment home to consider



I had a conversation with an Engineer yesterday morning.  He actually did the inspections on my current investment house that is being built.  During our conversation he mentioned that a LOT of investment homes/rent homes are being built in our area, especially North Mississippi.  I was surprised to learn this, it is rather a weird thing to build a brand new house strictly as an investment property, well, in my circle it is.  Apparently it is done in other places quite often… I’ve always thought that apartments were built just to rent which seems to be normal in most areas until they convert them to condos and sell them, which is strange to me as apartments in our area tend to become war zones, a place where sane people don’t even think of entering.  But I digress.

This is a new plan that I developed specifically to fit onto some lots in a particular neighborhood.  The footprint is really small, but given the available building area, it works.  It really isn’t a bad layout, if it were a house for SALE, I would like to fix a lot of things, the master bedroom/bathroom situation for starters, and the laundry room location and size for another.  But if you think about it, this could really be a great living plan given it’s size.  The bedrooms upstairs are actually pretty large!  There are even 3 walk-in closets in this house, which is unheard of as a rule in a 1300 sq. ft. house.

In 1388 sq. ft. there are  4 dedicated bedrooms!  There is even an expandable area over the garage which could make yet another bedroom (if a window were added).

Think about the life many people live today with blended families.  One week you have 2 kids a dog and a cat.  But twice a month (or more) you have 6 kids and stuff everywhere!  A bunch of kids who all want to watch a different TV program, half of the kids wanting to play video games.  A bonus room in a small home like this could be invaluable!

This 4 bedroom, 2 bath, 2-car garage works, though tight.  It was designed as a rental, for people passing through a phase, however, with a few tweaks it could be the ideal down-size home for those who don’t want much space.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this one.

Another Investment Plan

Hello everyone,

I have had a great opportunity to create yet another investment home.  I’ll define this again, for those of you who won’t like this house.  An investment house has very few cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms.  It also has small bathrooms… well, for the style of homes I typically design, for a NYC apartment, they are luxurious.

This home has 1350+/- sq. ft. with 4 bedrooms and 2 full baths.  It is a 1 1/2 story home (it has a second floor, but appears from the front to only have one.  The Master Bedroom and bath are on the first floor. This home has an open concept living/dining/kitchen so that those who love to entertain will have a great place to do that. There are 3 bedrooms and another bathroom upstairs for the kids, or an office, etc.  There is a walk-out attic for the mechanical units (water heater, HV/AC, etc.

Have a look and as usual, I’d love to hear your comments. 1300 - B13-011-01

Thanks, Janne

Investment Project – Alley Loaded Garage

1300 - C13-002-02

Just so my readers (well, eventual readers) will know what we do, I thought I would start with a few pictures of projects.  Our home plans start at about 400 sq. ft., although with the new Tiny House Movement, well, to tell you what I think about that, I’m obsessed!  But haven’t published any of those … yet.

Here is a recent design I did.  Before you tell me how terrible the kitchen and bathrooms are, this was designed to be built BY Property Investors with the specific goal of renting this house out right off the bat.  Therefore, I was given a specific list of criteria.

1. MINIMAL Bathroom Cabinetry – they tried to talk me into a 24″ – 30″ vanity, but I refused to use anything less than 36″.  Granted a 36″ vanity really isn’t much if you need a little space, but it has that precious extra 6″ to hold at least a curling iron… for the girls.

2. MINIMAL Kitchen Cabinetry – the investors also did not want many kitchen cabinets because they often get destroyed by renters. The fewer cabinets, the better as far as replacements.  Because I have a heart for renters (I was once a renter), I TRIED to give you more cabinets, but was shot down, so, I made a big pantry that will hopefully allow you to forgive me for the lack of cabinets.

3. Four Bedrooms, Two Bathrooms, 1350-1450 sq. ft.

4. Double Garage

There were a few other criteria, like the overall width and depth of the house and of course there were some restrictions regarding the lot size, so the physical footprint trumped some of the above criteria.

If you were buying this property, particularly in this area of the country, this would definitely not be a great choice, yea there are lots of bedrooms and 2 full baths AND a garage, but the cabinets aren’t ideal especially for a homeowner.  However, if this size house is what you are looking for, maybe the “normal version” of this plan would be more appealing.  Notice the expanded bathroom on the first floor, the additional storage room under the stairs, the added cabinets in the kitchen as well, there are doors which close off the washer/dryer (in the plan at the beginning of this post, those are open to the world… not my choice, but to save money for the investors).  Yes, this is a rear loaded garage for use with an alley style subdivision, but we also flipped it over for a front loaded garage where the Master bedroom is on the back of the house.  Works great either way.

In either version of this plan, you could add a bonus room or even a 5th bedroom with minor modifications and that room could be added above the garage.

By the way: I’m told that this house was rented out PRIOR to it being completed for about $1300 per month.  This is pretty good in our market. Nice 4-bedroom/2 bath homes are apparently hard to come by around here… well, located in good neighborhoods.

Your thoughts and comments appreciated. If you are a property investor and build new homes for rent, what criteria would you ask for?

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