Have you ever wondered how you can create an amazing breakthrough with the empire you’re planning to build? Having the intentional lifestyle design may lead you to have a crystal-clear vision of the goals you want to achieve in your business. Tamar Mar of the Marota Group is a proponent of intentional lifestyle design. In this episode, she explains how you can create your own breakthroughs and growth in business while sharing her own real estate journey doing syndication. She further shares some advice on how you can replace your income to build generational wealth.
Listen to the podcast here:
Intentional Lifestyle Design – Interview With Tamar Mar
On this show, we interview incredible badass real estate investing goddesses and women that are crushing it in the real estate game. Our guest is certainly no exception. I’m super excited to introduce you to Tamar Mar. She’s an entrepreneur, investor, speaker and proponent of intentional lifestyle design. With years under her belt working in the startup and small business arena, she took the plunge to launch her own business and invest in others. She often says that she is the “CEO of her dreams” and consistently focuses on ways to maximize business opportunities and generate enough passive income to be financially free and curate the lifestyle she and her family desires.
Tamar has been investing in real estate since she was nineteen. I wish I had been investing for that long. She purchased her first townhome when she was a sophomore in college and has owned rental properties for years from purchasing homes from Site Unseen auctions and fix and flips, or large scale renovation projects. She has a keen eye for evaluating deals for maximum returns. With her company, The Marota Group, her work has been focused on the acquisition of underperforming multifamily and commercial projects. She works with her team to stabilize the assets and accelerate returns for her investors. She currently owns 115 units and that’s growing. She’s raised almost $2 million from investors so far. That’s awesome. Welcome, Tamar.
It’s great to have you. I met you through this group of women in real estate. There’s a small group of us getting together for a mastermind. I’m excited to introduce you to the Real Estate Investor Goddess community. You got started in real estate investing at nineteen, which is incredible. What got you started in real estate investing?
Back then, I didn’t consider it as investing. I was working full time as I worked my way through college. At the time I was living with my mom and my friends were selling their house. It was a small townhouse and I had a pretty good salary at nineteen years old and I thought, “I’m ready to move out. Why don’t I buy a house?” That’s what normal nineteen-year-olds do and didn’t give it a second thought. I decided to buy it. Now that I think back on it, I’ve never said this on a show before but I rented out one of those rooms when I was there. I only had that house for less than two years. I was like, “I’m so sick of being hyper responsible. I wanted to be in school and be a real college kid,” so I sold it. During that time when I had it, I rented out one of the rooms to a friend of mine. She was another youth group leader and we were hanging out together.
I was investing back but I didn’t think of it that way. Fast forward a couple of years later, when my husband and I were married, we moved into our house. It was a couple of weeks after we moved in when I found out that I was getting a job promotion that would take us across the country. We didn’t want to sell our house that we got, so we ended up renting that out for four years. It was sweet because the rent paid our mortgage and a lot of what we were doing in Minnesota and our housing out there. That got us hooked. It was a while before we got another rental property. It was ten years after that first rental that my husband and I had.
You got a house and you moved, so you rented out. What made you start years ago? What made you go, “I want to get into this more?”
Bruce, my husband, I call him Bruce Mar superstar. Bruce Mar superstar and I always talked about real estate because his family was huge into it all up and down the West Coast. All of his aunties and uncles and cousins and his parents, they were always investing in properties here and there and everywhere. He grew up with it a little bit in his family. His parents had a couple of rentals and it was foreign to me. Every once in a while, we’d say, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we had an apartment building?” It seems so far off. We had no idea how you would save up a down payment for an apartment building. It was completely out there.
At the time, I was in the executive suite of a startup company for quite some time. After working in small business and startups for nearly twenty years, I came to a point where I realized, “If I can help other people build their businesses, I can do it on my own.” I’m a super type-A driven person since I came out of the womb. I’d go after whatever and anything I go after I get because I’m a bulldog about it in a nice way. At that point, I thought, “I want to start my own company but it’s not the right time for me to leave my job.” Long story short, my husband and I were going over all these different concepts and we decided that I was going to start a real estate company. I was going to build an empire for us to live off of.
I got my real estate license and we started buying houses on auction, Site Unseen. We’d take our family there and we’d renovate them and turn them into rentals. We were doing about one house every nine months for that point for about 3.5 years. After that, I realized that it was going to take us a long time to reach my passive income goals. As you go along and learn more, you start off not knowing much when you’re investing in real estate. You start talking to everybody, go to networking events, listen to podcasts and you learn a little bit more. As I was learning more, my goals grew, my dreams grew bigger, and that made me realize that it was going to take a long time if all I did was invest in single-family houses. It would take years before we’d be able to replace our income. That’s where I decided to start a syndication business and I left my job a few years ago to pursue that and go full time into investing and leave the corporate world.
Now, you’re in syndications. Tell me a little bit more about what your current investment focus is.
I am focused on acquiring Class C value-add properties, which means I’m looking for properties that are maybe a little bit older, they need a lot of TLC because of deferred maintenance or their age. I’m going in and doing rehab to those projects and rent repositioning. We’re able to add value by creating a nicer place to live for our tenants and increasing the rents to go along with that. I’ve done everything from simple paint, maybe new blinds and a new roof to full-on rehab, including a new parking lot, windows, roof, exterior paints, and the complete gut job of every single unit. The total was about $15,000 a unit. That’s what we’ve been looking at acquiring. I have acquired two properties in my first year and two properties in the second year. I’m looking at taking down $20 million worth of real estate. I’m looking at bigger projects this year versus before, I was looking at properties that were up to about $2.5 million in value.
What markets are you investing in?The number one best thing you can be in this business is resourceful. It is the number one asset. Click To Tweet
I’ve invested a little bit in different places. In the state of Washington, I’ve purchased three properties. However, I have purchased in Eastern Washington, which is about 4.5 hours away from me. There’s a couple of major hubs in Eastern Washington and also about an hour south of Seattle is another one of my communities. I will not touch Seattle with a ten-foot pole because it’s a strong appreciation play. I’m there for the combination of cashflow and appreciation. Finding the cashflow in a major metro hub like Seattle, it’s growing and thriving, but there are so many people pouring their money in there that the cap rates are super-condensed and sometimes you have to go in with 50% down on a property in order to be able to debt service on it. That ruins your returns. That’s why I’m staying away from Seattle, plus it’s one of the most liberal tenant-friendly communities in the entire country.
It is the most liberal. It’s extremely unfair to landlords. That’s another reason not to touch that. In addition to that, I have a property in Ohio and that happened through the podcasting community and the multifamily community across the United States that I connect with. That’s a great connection through there. I partnered with somebody on the ground in Ohio and I’ve also taken a scouting trip to Arizona. I flew down there to meet with brokers, property managers, contractors and people that could help me build out a team because I heard some great things about Phoenix and Tucson. We’re looking at expanding our footprint into that area as well.
What you’ve been doing is awesome. It’s a similar play that we do too. When you’re a C class and you value add. One of the things that I’ve realized is that you learn so much more from your mistakes than you do for one from one when things go well. What would you say has been your biggest mistake so far in your real estate investing career? What did you learn from it?
I don’t think I have any huge mistakes. I’m a big believer that I’m exactly where I am because of everything that I’ve done in my past, good or bad. I’m going to tell you about a mistake I made because it stressed me the heck out, Monick. It was stressful. For a little background on this, for the longest time, I was a one-woman show. Towards the tail-end of the year, I hired somebody to help me with marketing and PR and I hired somebody to help me with acquisitions and asset management. I’m getting to the point where I’m going to be able to offload more of my work. When you are a one-person show or you’re a solopreneur, you do everything. I outsource my books and my taxes and that stuff as well. It’s easy to drop the ball on something.
There’s always something that you can drop the ball on, whether or not you think you’re going to cover everything. There are always little details. Some of the details matter less than other ones. I got a letter in the mail from an Escrow company and it says, “Your note is due on April 1st.” It was already February 5th. This is on a property that I’ve seller financing on an apartment community in Eastern Washington. I was like, “What did I do wrong? Why are they calling the note? I swear I have eighteen months on this.” I know I have eighteen months on the seller financing, which would have pushed me to the middle of May. That matters because I’m putting that property up for sale because we’ve renovated it and we’re ready to now make a great return on it.
We’re putting it up for sale at the end of February. I called the Escrow company and they said, “Sure enough, your notes will expire on April 1st.” I thought, “How did I miss that one little detail?” It’s only six weeks of difference but what that means is if I didn’t have an alternate plan B on backup financing or getting an extension with my seller financing, what can happen? Your property can go into foreclosure. I was so freaked out because I’m hard on myself and I don’t like making mistakes. It was a tiny detail that was six weeks.
Luckily, I called up the sellers I said, “I made a mistake. I thought we had until this long. I’m humbly asking for an extension of four months. I plan on paying it off sooner than that because we’re selling the property for a nice profit.” They graciously extended that. I want to say that because when we do start as investors, so many of us start out by ourselves and we don’t know what we need to know. Every single week something happens to me where either I don’t know what I need to know so I need to find the answer.
The number one best thing you can be in this business is resourceful. 100% resourcefulness is the number one asset. There’s always something that you don’t know so you could view lots of little things as mistakes all the time. It’s also easy to miss things because of what you didn’t either because of a detail like that one that I missed that was six weeks or you don’t know what you don’t know when you’re getting into this. That’s why it’s so important to surround yourself with other people. It’s tough to admit those types of mistakes.
There’s been another time where I didn’t have a written contract for a contractor before we closed on a property. We had a verbal, we had talked to him several times, I had met him in person and we were pushing to get the written that we weren’t able to get the written contract by the time that the property closed. After the property close to, he came back and said, “I’m going to charge you $200,000 more for that same scope of work.” I didn’t have it so I had to go search for it. I was like, “Thanks, but no thanks, friendly contractor. I’m not going to run with that.” I had to look for another contractor that was like, “Get everything in writing all the time. It doesn’t matter what it is.” I learned things every day.
With regards to the date and having the date wrong, what was the lesson you learned there?
I was telling my husband that it reminds me that I’m not perfect. I have always shot for perfection and a lot of us ladies do that. It was a good reminder that I’m not perfect and that it’s okay to admit your mistakes and go and search for a way to make it work with gusto. I was problem-solving like it’s nobody’s business. That’s what I do. When I come across things like that, it forces me to be a better problem solver. It never feels good to admit mistakes. That’s the biggest takeaway that I learned from that. It’s a reminder that I’m not perfect and I need more people on my team to help me maybe with systems or whatever. I still need to think through that one a little bit. That was a fresh wound. I’ve only ever had seller financing the one time on that one and everything else is a note. You get these statements every month and you don’t necessarily get that with seller financing.
There are a couple of lessons I’m getting from that. It’s the importance of having a team and having systems that made a difference for me. It’s having people backing it up because I am not always a detail person. Having or partnering with people that work with you that are good at the details, that’s helpful to me and also having systems and checklists.
There can be so many systems and checklists that you have for everything. I have crazy checklists for so much of my business. It has hundreds of items and it’s easy to miss something when you don’t have a couple of different sets of eyes.
Another thing that you said that was so good was the importance of getting an education because it’s often not even the things that you know that you don’t know, but the things you don’t, you also don’t know you. It’s a problem.
You run across that all the time you’re like, “I didn’t know that I was supposed to know that.”
“I didn’t even know that I didn’t know that.” It’s the worst. That’s whenever I’ve gotten an education and I’m investing and I’m like, “That’s a thing? I didn’t know that.” It’s that universe of things you don’t know, you don’t know. That’s what’s could get you in trouble.
It’s not like a classroom that you necessarily learn those things. Oftentimes, I learned those with connecting with other investors or through stuff that happens in my business on a daily basis when you’re trying to problem-solve.
You learn it when you make mistakes. Hopefully, you learn it by having mentors. It’s helped me to have mentors and other people I can talk to. I learned a lot doing this podcast and asking people, “What was your biggest mistake?” I’m learning that way because we learn from other people’s mistakes and hopefully, you can avoid doing them ourselves. The flip side of this mistake question is, what are you most proud of?
I am proud of my family. I feel that I do everything that I do despite how driven I am, and I’ve always been driven, I do what I do now in a such a way that it comes back to me being able to spend as much time with my family as possible. I told you before that we had Snowmageddon in Seattle. It was six inches, which doesn’t seem much to many of you, maybe in the Midwest or Northeast or something. Six inches in Seattle, are you kidding? It shuts down the city so there was no school. On Monday afternoon, I went on a two-hour stroll with my daughter because I can. It’s because I worked for myself.
I love the adventures that I have with them. That’s what I’m here for. It’s for my family. From a professional sense, I would say that I feel proud of how far I’ve come in less than a few years in this business that I created from the ground up. That is evidenced by the months when people have been asking me to speak to events and mentor them or the investor network that I’ve built up and people who are placing their trust in me. That is evidence of all the hard work that happens that goes on behind the scenes that nobody sees. Nobody sees all of the phone calls that you make, emails, letters in the mail, gifts and the value add stuff that you provide to people.
Nobody sees all that silent work. What they see is, “I’ve got this deal. We’re putting our closing on this deal.” That’s about it. All of these little intangible things that you feel that you’re not getting paid for, which you’re not, you don’t get paid from them for years. It’s an accumulation of all the work you’ve done and eventually, it starts revealing itself on how great this is. I’ve had a lot of reflective moments recently where I’ve been super grateful for that. It’s like, “What I’m doing is working? This is so great.” Building a business by yourself is a blast. I’m having a fun time with it.
You’re also homeschooling two of your kids at the same time.
I’ll be homeschooling all three of them. We’re building a house on an island about an hour south of Seattle. It’s on four acres. We’re going to build a farm with horses and goats from the ground up. We’re going to be a weird family that goes and lives in the country. I homeschool my kids and I do real estate investing. It’s all good.
It’s a reminder because a lot of people forget that real estate investing is a business. The more you can think about it as a business, the more successful you will be. A lot of people don’t think about it that way. Unless you are passively investing in somebody else’s syndications, you have a real estate business. The more you can learn and think about it that way, the better off.
I talk about that to people often and I say the same thing, “I treat it as a business, not a hobby.” It’s not a hobby because it’s not fun all the time. Most hobbies are fun all the time and when you’re trying to build something up that’s going to replace you and your family’s income and build generational wealth, that is not a hobby. It takes intentional focus in order to make you be successful enough to reach those goals.
To what do you attribute your success?It takes intentional focus in order to make you be successful enough to reach your goals. Click To Tweet
I’m steadfast in everything that I do. I’ve run several marathons in my life. You run when you don’t want to run. You go out and run a twenty-mile run when you don’t want to run because you have 26 miles to run in four weeks. You’d have to be able to reach those 26 miles. That’s a little bit of my personality where every day I don’t have anybody telling me what to do, but I have massive goals. I have annual goals. I break them down into quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily. I stick to all those like crazy. I’m my hardest critic if I don’t get those done. That’s intense, but whatever.
That’s one thing, steadfastness goals. My morning time is phenomenal. Every day I invest between 2 to 3 hours in myself before I interact with anybody else. My alarm goes off at 4:45 AM. I get up and I study for an hour. It depends on what I want to study. It could be any subject. I do a gratitude exercise. I journal, sometimes I meditate or pray. I go out and I exercise for between 60 and 75 minutes every morning on the weekends it’s usually a longer exercise. Maybe upwards of 3 or 4 hours. During that time, it gives me things to think about as I’m studying.
I reflect on it and my journaling and gratitude time, and when I go out and do my movement. It’s a moving meditation that I have every morning. It’s where a lot of creativity comes to me and breakthroughs, which I couldn’t think of if I had everything coming my way from everybody that has intentions for me that are not my own. That sets me up every single day for a phenomenal day. Sometimes I wake up and I’m feeling tired and groggy by the time I’m done with that, boom, I’m ready to conquer the world every day.
I have a 1.5 to 2-hour morning ritual that I do too and it is life-changing. It’s amazing.
It’s the best. What have you been doing for years? Tell me.
I normally start with three-morning pages. I do a stream of consciousness writing, I’ll do a meditation about twenty minutes and I go through and I ask certain questions I go through to focus my day. It’s gratitude, celebrations and desires. What went great yesterday? What could have been better? What am I going to do today? I have this series of questions and I do some study or reading something for personal or professional development, and I will exercise. Sometimes I’ll have to get my daughter ready for school. I go to school and go to the gym but part of my morning routine is exercise. It’s so good.
It is life-changing though. I bet you remember when you started doing that. When I started doing that, that’s when I feel my life completely took off.
The morning pages I’ve been doing since 2001, which I got from The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. I started that around May. There has been exponential growth in my business since I started doing that. It was intense. What advice do you have for a woman who’s starting out in this field?
I don’t think I would have any different advice for a woman versus a man. I’d say the number one thing is, be crystal clear on what it is that you want to go after. Have clarity in whatever it is that you want. Number two, have confidence. I talked to a lot of people about that. If you don’t have confidence in yourself, people are not going to believe you and your vision. There is no vision without confidence in yourself. People are not going to buy into what you’re trying to achieve. Number three is, talk to everybody you know and you have to feel comfortable doing that as well. It’s funny, I talk to strangers more than I talk to people like on the baseball fields and whatnot when you’re a mom and about what I do. That means getting out and going to more networking events and being connected with people that are your tribe.
The first couple of times that I went to real estate networking events, I felt a little bit out of place because I had it and hadn’t quite crystallized my plan. Once I did crystallize my plan, it’s going like, “I go in here and people understand what it is that I want to accomplish.” It’s the same way when I went to a Tony Robbins conference. It was my first one. I was in the room with 9,000 people and the whole time I was like, “I’m in my tribe. I love this. Everybody in this room gets me. Everybody wants to be better.” You’re in a room of 9,000 people and everybody wants to be better. It’s such a fantastic feeling. If you can surround yourself with other folks that want to be better at whatever it is they’re doing and talk to them about it, it’s empowering. Otherwise, if you’re talking to people that don’t get what you want to do, they’re Debbie Downers it can drag you down.
Whenever I go to real estate events, it’s all different people from all over the place and I always go, “These are my people. This is my job.” I feel such a kinship with other real estate investors. We get each other. I feel gotten. What do you wish you’d known at the beginning that you now know?
Somebody asked, “If you weren’t where you are right now and you had this piece of information that we were talking about. How would you blah blah?” I answered that by, “I’m exactly where I am in this room and having this conversation because of everything that has ever happened to me. Good or bad.” I feel that things have been revealed to me when they were supposed to be revealed to me. Amazing breakthrough conversations have happened when I was right to receive those conversations. Things happened for me a lot faster than they happen for other people because I was so intentional about making it happen and treating it like a business. There’s so much information out there that everything you need to know is available to you. You only need to go find it. When I had a certain question and I would look it up, call somebody, email somebody or listen to a new podcast about that subject. When I needed to know it I would find the answer to it.
That’s a great perspective. Thank you so much, Tamar. Before we get into our famed end of show trinity, which is our brag, gratitude, and a desire, what is the best way for people to reach you and find out more about what you do?
I have a podcast called Investing for Life. It’s the crossroads of entrepreneurship, investing and intentional lifestyle design, and that’s at InvestingForLifePodcast.com or my website, MarotaGroup.com as well. I have a contact form on there and you’re welcome to reach out.
Thank you. For the trinity, what’s one thing you’re celebrating? What’s one brag?
There are too many things, and I only get to do one?
I know. We could have 1, 2, 3, 4 hours celebrating all the amazing things going on in their life. Pick a juicy one.
Related to real estate, I’m finalizing a contract with an off-market, student housing complex. It’s 173 units and it’s about a $10 million property. That should be finalized. That’s exciting.
Well-bragged. What is one thing you’re grateful for?If you don't have confidence in yourself, people are not going to believe you and your vision. Click To Tweet
I am super grateful for breaking ground on the house that we’re building on Fox Island. We’re meeting with our excavators and we’re staking out the corners of our house and they’re digging the hole for our foundation.
What’s one thing you desire?
My mission is to be consistently a source of joy, encouragement and inspiration to others. Every day, I also tell myself that I lead with love. If I could do nothing else than achieve those things in life it would be a good one.
So shall your desire be or so much better than you can imagine under grace and perfect ways. Thank you. That was awesome. For you reading, if you can connect with Tamar at InvestingForLifePodcasts.com or The Marota Group. You can connect with me at REIGoddesses.com. Join our amazing community of real estate investing goddesses from all over the world. We’re in fifteen different countries which is cool. Get all sorts of freebies and goodies on there too. Join us next time for another amazing Real Estate Investor Goddess Interview. Thank you.