Private Lending Lessons: The Importance of Networking

Insights» Leadership, Marketing & Outreach

June 1, 2021by Alex Breshears

Read the full Originate Report June edition here.

As a military spouse, we have moved a lot – 19 times in 20 years. That makes having steady employment, much less building a career, nearly impossible. With a desire to still help provide for my family despite these limitations I turned to investing and remote working, even before Covid-19 made that a worldwide movement.

Working online as a chemistry professor left me with time during a normal workday to research various topics and network with others in my community.  As someone who always had an interest in real estate, most of my research and networking focused on real estate in my own backyard, Hampton Roads, VA. When Covid shut down most of the world, it also shut down many hard money lenders for a few months as the uncertainty of the economic outlook during a global pandemic was too much for their risk analysis to handle. At that time, a real estate investor in my area was going to lose out on a property because his funding was pulled a week before closing. After speaking with him, we decided this was the type of property we would want to invest in, this was the type of borrower we would want to work with, the due diligence checked out, and we decided to take the leap into private lending with our own capital, during a global pandemic!

We closed that deal two weeks later after establishing the necessary legal requirements. Once the capital was deployed, I couldn’t help but think, “Now what?” As an extrovert stuck inside during the pandemic, I was searching for community; I wanted to talk to other private lenders! I knew enough to be dangerous, but I was also acutely aware that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. There had to be more of “us” out there! I found multiple Facebook groups that had “private lending” or “hard money” in the title, but it left a little to be desired in the form of content or networking.

As someone with an education background, I thought we as a community could do better.  The group, Private Lending Lessons, was started out of that desire to meet and network with other private lenders and offer an educational space for the community to learn more about private lending.  The group grew quickly! It has been a joy to talk to so many people either interested in starting the process of private lending, or those who have been lending in shadows for years, never really finding others to be able to talk about their business model. In a backwards way, I found a purpose within the private lending space beyond just the monthly return. It gave me a place to learn more and add value to others, regardless of their experience level. I quickly found a wealth of information with AAPL and Geraci LLP, both who have presented in the weekly events for the group.

The great thing about lending in general, but especially private lending, is that you don’t have to go it alone. You can help yourself by building a team. The best advice I can give to someone who is starting out or wanting to scale is that you have to network. Meet with others, talk to people doing it, reach out to valuable resources and memberships that can help enhance your business and mitigate your risk.

For instance, you could find a title company or closing attorney in your local market you want to work with. Or you can build a relationship with a broker to pull BPO’s for you; maybe a contractor to help evaluate scope of work for rehabs, and so much more. It really starts with zeroing in on the type of property you want to lend on, what sort of terms you are looking to get for those funds, and then start building a business model and plug in the people who need to be there. I realized quickly that I could not possibly do everything myself, which I is in stark contrast to what people think when they think “real estate investing”. They often picture a landlord or fix and flipper plugging away at flooring on the weekends, or someone having to meet a potential tenant out at a property.

In lending, we quite literally cannot do it all.  Our business model requires we work with others to help facilitate the transaction and grow our business. If you are looking to start lending, this is a great place to bring a collaborative growth mindset; you will be well received! Start small if that makes you comfortable. Complete a few loans under guidance of others and you will tweak and change your business model as you learn more. Don’t be afraid to embrace those changes as you learn more and the market changes. Just keep your overall goal in mind while you are building your business and getting a feel for this style of investing. Do you want to build a giant lending empire or are you happy placing your own capital in a few loans a year for passive income? If you want to build a business to leave your current job, but in reality, you want the time freedom from your current job, trying to scale a large lending business might not be the best fit for you mentally. Bigger is not always better! Invest and lend in a way that makes sense for you and your lifestyle. My lifestyle has me moving every year to a different part of the world! Let it compliment your life, not control it.