Baby Boomers are becoming old, and with this reality comes the need for more senior living facilities. Host, Monick Halm interviews super successful businesswoman and business coach, Carolyn CJ Matthews, about her real estate strategy that caters to the elderly population. Being the Founder of High Octane Systems and the Co-Founder of the National Platinum Group, her experience in providing homes can be a well-trusted resource for learning about the industry. Learn more from Carolyn as she encourages you that having a network of like-minded individuals is key to any real estate success.
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From Minimum Wage To Millions In Real Estate – Interview With CJ Matthews
On this show, I interview successful and incredible bad-ass real estate investing women, real estate investor goddesses who graciously share their stories, triumphs, failures and best advice with us. I am super excited to have my friend Carolyn “CJ” Matthews with us. She is the Founder of High Octane Systems and the Cofounder of the National Platinum Group. She has created purposeful residential assisted living homes and social capitalism. Her specialties include strategic consulting and coaching for rapid business growth. Through webinars, she’s helped thousands build international businesses. She’s not just a successful real estate investor, she’s a super successful businesswoman and business coach. She’s appeared on NBC, ABC and Fox as an expert in building businesses and spoken at Harvard twice on economic issues. Now, she gets to be on the show.
Her real estate career started by buying fourteen positive cashflow investment properties, and now she syndicates residential assisted living homes for the elderly. She’s an international bestselling author twice over and a contributor to Wealth For Women, which is the book that we co-wrote together and launched. She is a former Dale Carnegie trainer, a designated certified long-term care insurance agent, certified life coach, Director of Coaching and Training for Traffic Geyser and a certified Neuro-Linguistic Programming practitioner. She’s done so much and I’m excited that you are here with us. Thanks, CJ.
I’m glad to be here. It’s a real honor to be able to help other women get their start in real estate and developing their wealth. It was definitely a long journey as you can tell by all those things that you mentioned. I’m not a young bunny, so I had to go through a lot of learning experiences and I’m pleased to be able to share that with other people so that they can get to their wealth faster.
I’m super excited to have you share your story because a lot of women think that in order to start in real estate, you need to have tons of money, be born with a silver spoon in your mouth and have a high-income job. That’s not where you started. Can you share with us how you got started in real estate investing?
I was a single parent and I had a college degree. I graduated with honors in business and I was working for minimum wage. At that time, home businesses were starting to take off, but it was still weird. Now, everybody does it. Back then, it felt a little sketchy for a lot of people. What was interesting for me, I was like, “I am not going to make it raising my kid and paying my bills working at minimum wage with the college education. That wasn’t going to fly.” I needed to find something else that worked extremely well. For me, that was a real estate investing because it was something that I could do without any of my own money.
When I was trained in real estate investing, it was for single-family homes. You buy, hold and then you lease it to somebody else with a lease option. That was the start. That was the only thing I knew. I did not know anything else about anything. One of the things they said were dentists, lawyers, and people with wealth needed somebody to work for them and create passive income. Back then, I didn’t know what that was called, but I would do the work, they would put up the money and we would split the profits 50/50. That worked extremely well. They were happy because they could leverage their money and also the tax benefits from real estate, which are high. We were also able to get money in our pockets. It was a great strategy for the time.
How did you get these lawyers, doctors and people with high net worth, how did you get them to say, “Let me invest with you?”
Two things were in my favor. One, I was living in the northwest. It wasn’t a small town, but it was definitely not the city that it is now. Vancouver, Washington, which is right across from Portland and a little bit South of Seattle and all of the Microsoft people had worked and gotten a bunch of stock options. Many of them were retiring in their mid-30s and they needed some place. All of a sudden, they got this chunk of change and they needed someplace to put it. I happened to know one person and that’s all it took.
You started and you got up to fourteen properties without any of your own money. That was a good strategy for that time. Tell us more about what you’re doing.With syndicating money, you can do anything that you want in real estate starting at zero or from scratch. Click To Tweet
I’m doing residential assisted living homes for the elderly. Usually, we see a lot of it on the West Coast, Oregon, Washington and California. We’ll have these homes where people live in the homes and also take care of the elderly so that they get better quality care. With every business, there are good people and bad people, but there’s the other side which is these big facilities like apartments or they’ll have 200 rooms in them and the care isn’t bad there. Unfortunately, if you have memory care issues, you’re better off in a single-family home. What I do is find these homes, refurbish the homes, open up the businesses under the National Platinum Group with my cofounders and we open up those homes. The beauty of it is that it’s a home, so it has real estate advantages, but it’s also a business. As we go into the downturn cycle, the real estate holds its value because the business is also there. The business is a cashflow cow.
Tell us a little bit more about that because a lot of people don’t realize how potentially lucrative a residential assisted living can be. Do you want to share a little bit about that? Especially it’s a great time to get into homes for the elderly.
A lot of people don’t want to go to the facilities. We have a group of people called the Baby Boomers. I’m sure you’ve heard of them. It is a tsunami of population and we’re at the front end of this and as it moves, it’s this big curve that happens. We’re at the start of it and we don’t have enough quality care or appropriate care for those elderly that are on that edge of coming in at the beginning of that wave. What we find is that we know that there’s a high need for this and we definitely need quality care because the Baby Boomers have a higher expectation than what we used to have for care for the elderly.
We find that the houses that are out there, there’s a paradigm shift or a disruption in the market. It’s advantageous for real estate investors and business owners because the old school way of doing these things, where the person lives in the house and cares for the person in the house, unfortunately, allowed for a lot of not so high-quality care. By having professional management, the Baby Boomers are getting the quality of care in a home that looks the way that they’re used to. There’s an upper-middle-class feel to it. In our homes, we also have chefs that provide specific types of food as if you were in your own home.
I heard that there are 77 million Baby Boomers.
Ten thousand a day are turning 65. We find that most care starts happening in the early 70s and into the 80s. All of a sudden, it triggers something where they need more care. If you can imagine 10,000 a day and it’s going to get larger, you can see how the care system that we have is going to be overburdened. If it stays the same, there is a high need for this and it’s only going to get bigger. As we cycle through, what you find is real estate is at its top. We all have seen that the real estate cycle is coming to the top of where we’re going to start going down. It’s a natural part of what we do in this business. We watch those cycles. The problem is what do we do with our money? A fix-and-flip, those aren’t working well anymore. The spread isn’t as high or as much. Where can we put our money so it’s working in real estate? We still have the advantages of real estate, but we don’t have the expected loss if we buy at the top of a cycle and it’s where assisted living helps out.
To give people an idea, how many beds do you have in your properties on average?
It depends on the state. In Las Vegas, it’s ten. In California and Washington, it’s six. In Texas, it’s sixteen, depending on the location that you’re in. It can be as high as sixteen and still be considered a residential assisted living home.
It goes from six as the lower end to sixteen. How much per bed do seniors normally get?
It’s state-related. California, of course, is more expensive. Texas is less. It depends on the city and the state. Usually, you can expect to pay about $3,500 to $5,500 on average and the price is going up. Those are old prices. Here’s the key. That’s just for assisted living. If you were in a facility, your starting rate is $4,000 and you can see that double and sometimes triple a month for the extra care that they do. Usually, in assisted living homes, if you want your hair washed, it’s all-inclusive. If you want your hair washed at a facility, it’s extra money. If you want to be showered, diapers, special needs things and certain types of food, it’s extra money. All of a sudden, to walk in the door, it might be $3,500 or $4,000, but you can see how quickly that accelerates up. It’s like the hidden costs that they don’t mention.
I would imagine a nicer place because it’s more like living in a home, but they can also be cheaper or not have all the unseen costs.
They’re a better value. What that does is it makes it attractive to people, so you’re able to have a nice full home and a good environment with high-quality care and people are willing to pay more for that. That allows you to have that profitable cashflow on the backside of what you’re doing. You have the house that you have and the business is a separate entity that rents from the home. That’s at a higher amount because it’s a specific type of home. You have the cashflow on the backside and that cashflow can be $5,000 to $20,000 a month depending on your location and how you run your home. That’s net. That’s a whole lot better by single-family because you convert it. We have people in Colorado that that’s what they do. They purchase the home, convert it and then they lease it to businesses. That’s a great way to go as well. Not quite real estate, but you’re getting the benefits of leasing a home and getting the backside of doing that.
I can definitely see why you like residential assisted living as an asset class and why it’s your focus. I want to ask a question that I ask all of my guests because we learn more when things don’t go our way than we do when things are sailing smoothly. What would you say was your biggest mistake in your real estate investing career and what did you learn from it?
In the beginning, I only had one tool. We’d had to work and I was dedicated. I was going to get it done and I grew too fast. Quite frankly, my scalability, I was not prepared. When you’re doing a lot of real estate, you can do it on your own. I’m not going to say you can’t, but you’re going to get gray hair or lose it. It’s super important that people realize that it takes teamwork. It takes a team of people to run a business because your real estate business is your business unless you’re passive investing, which is a smart way to go as well. Then you don’t have to worry about hiring people or taking care of the property or whatever. You let somebody else do all of that. They get a little bit of the profit, but you’ve got a ton of it and you get the benefits. You don’t have to become a lawyer or something like that. That’s what I would have done, but I decided to become an internet marketer and real estate investor person. Scalability was my biggest mistake because I was juggling too much too quickly and I didn’t have a team behind me. That’s one of the things you need to be careful of and budget for in the beginning.
I always say that real estate investing is a team sport. It’s not something that you should do by yourself. You weren’t doing it alone because you had partners that were putting in the money, but still the more of a team you can have and the more right people in the right seats on the bus, the better off you’ll be.
Even if you only have one house now, you can plan for that. One of the things that I say in the book that we did together is start writing down all the things you hate to do because that’s the first thing that you’re going to hire. The reason for that is because the stuff gets done and your energy can be funneled into the things that you are good at in making money. I have a girlfriend of mine who is not good in sales. The first thing she did was she hired a salesperson to handle all that for her because she was better at doing something else and so you’re able to grow even faster.
The flip side question is, what are you most proud of in real estate investing?
That’s a tough question for me because learning how to syndicate money, I was doing that before when I first started, but we didn’t call it syndication. We didn’t know that. If you can learn to syndicate money, you can do anything that you want in real estate starting at zero or from scratch. That’s one of the things I love about what you’re doing. In your book, The Real Estate Handbook, that’s one of the things you talk about there. If you guys have not gotten this book, you need to get it. It is the best outline and foundational learning piece that I’ve seen in a long time. It’s up-to-date. If you have not done anything in real estate or even if you have, I highly suggest this book. I thought you did a great job and I have read it. I can’t tell you how many tons of these books. I loved it because it’s a good definition and stuff like that.
I’m glad you brought that up, not necessarily the pitch for my book, but more about the talking about the syndication, so we make sure no goddess is left behind. Syndication is when you bring a group of investors together to purchase a property and it’s a little different than joint venturing. Partnering with 1, 2 or 3 people who all have a say in how the properties run. Syndication is you and a team of active syndicators sponsors. There are different names for that. Find a property and bring investors to the property who are passive. They put in their money and then they receive checks. That’s all they do. The syndicator is the one that’s managing the asset and then bringing the deal together. It’s such a great way to be able to get into the game, to leverage, to go a lot bigger and not be limited by your own capital and credit.Rarely will you get a super smooth real estate thing. If you don't have the wherewithal and the grit to stick with it, you won't succeed. Click To Tweet
Being able to raise money like that was probably my biggest success because it allowed me to do more and having that tool in my tool chest was a big piece to being able to do assisted living.
To what do you attribute your success?
That’s grit. That’s the get it done attitude because in real estate, you’re always going to have challenges. It’s the way real estate works. Something that seems simple and it’s like, “This is a shoo-in.” You’re going to see that. We even see it in those half-hour made up HGTV shows where we look at it and everything’s fine until the air conditioning drops out through the ceiling. That’s the story of real estate. Rarely will you get a super smooth real estate thing. If you don’t have the wherewithal and the grit to stick with it, unfortunately, you won’t have it. Even in single-family homes where you’re renting or something like that, you’re going to get a crap renter. Something is going to come up, especially if you have investors that you’re working with, you need to be able to figure out a way around that. Networking is a great way. Being in a group like the goddesses allows you to make some phone calls to people who are more experienced than you are or may know somebody who knows somebody that will be able to help you out. Networking is a big, huge piece of that, but having the grit even if you’re like, “I can’t believe this happened,” and you’re fearful, you’re still able to pick up the phone and start calling around and saying, “I’ve got a problem. Do you know anybody who can help me with this?”
If a problem happens and if you’re in real estate long enough, they will come. You are going to have challenges, problems and times when you’re ready to tear your hair out and sleepless nights. They are 100% part of the process.
If you have grit, know that you can get it done. You keep that mindset of, “We know that this stuff shows up. What are my options and who else has some other options for me?” It’s a mindset and I call it grit. It’s a popular term right now. I don’t know what else to call it.
It also helps to know that whatever you’re experiencing, somebody else has experienced it and gone through it successfully and there is help out there. It is true to that. You can network your way out of a problem oftentimes or at least mitigate losses. What advice do you have for a woman who’s just starting out in this field?
If you’re starting out in this field, learn one thing well. Don’t try to learn it all, just know that you can do it. You can do this if you’re dedicated and committed. The best thing that I can tell you besides all that is to make friends. Find other people that are in real estate and are sharing people because like everything in a lot of these businesses, there are people who are takers like, “This is mine and I’m not going to share it with you.” Find people that don’t have a problem with that and they’re probably super successful. You will find that the super successful people have no problem talking to you about this type of thing and sharing their knowledge.
They’re generous because it comes back to them. Before we get into our famed end of show trinity, which is a brag, a gratitude and a desire, what is the best way for people to reach you and find out more about you and what you’re doing?
We have deals all the time that are coming across the table. Sometimes if they’re not deals that I am doing personally, it’s somebody else that I can highly recommend in this industry. You can reach me at [email protected] or at [email protected].
It’s time for our trinity. What’s one thing you’re celebrating? What’s your brag?
My brag is that we have found a couple of more houses that we want to go into. I’m starting a new syndication. That’s a brag for me because I’m excited. I’m changing the world, creating an opportunity for both investors and for the elderly and definitely, making a change in how our paradigm about our elders are cared for.
What’s one thing you’re grateful for?
I’m grateful for my good friends that are involved in this business that I’ve been able to meet through this business because they’re all much about creating wealth, not only for themselves but other people and changing how they do things. The groups of people that I’m involved in like the goddesses and the other real estate groups that I’ve chosen to associate with, I’m pleased with that. Of course, my two cofounders of the National Platinum Group. I love those guys.
Last, but certainly not least, what’s the one thing you desire?
I want to go to Paris. That’s been on my list. However, from a business standpoint, I want to create a treasure chest. A fund that’s like a debt fund that allows us to buy a property and then pay back the treasure chest quickly, so there’s a rotation of money quick. Something that I’m looking at next is this treasure chest of money that is in use to make these changes faster. There’s not such a delay in getting these homes up and running. That’s a big thing for me because I feel the pressure. There’s a time pressure there. Every day, somebody’s turning 65. I see it coming and there’s not enough of these houses. My next thing is this treasure chest of money and people that are involved in it.
So shall your desires be or so much better than you could imagine under grace and in a perfect place. Thank you. That was awesome. That was great, CJ. I love everything that you shared and I’m so appreciative of you. You guys can connect with her at [email protected] and you can connect with me at the RealEstateInvestorGoddesses.com. I have a blueprint available there and also we’re doing a 7 Day “Get Ready to Invest Challenge.” If you are wondering, “Do I have enough money? Do I have my set? Can I get into this game? Do I have what I need to get started?” We’re going to have a week where you’re going to be working through it every day and you will know at the end if you’re ready or how to get ready to get into the game. That’s going on. Go on the website, Real Estate Investor Goddesses and join us there. Join us next time for another awesome episode. Thank you.
- National Platinum Group
- Wealth For Women
- The Real Estate Handbook
- [email protected]
- [email protected]
About Carolyn CJ Matthews
Carolyn ‘CJ’ Matthews brings her extensive 35-year experience as a Business Strategic Management and Marketing Consultant to the team. Using the Active Entrepreneurial Response Model, her consulting has assisted businesses accelerate their growth and increase profits in ranges of 500% in less than 6 months.
CJ is the founder and CEO of High Octane Systems, Inc., and National Platinum Group.com with B.S. in Business Marketing and Honor graduate from Oregon State University. Her specialties include strategic consulting and coaching for rapid business growth, personal development, negotiation training, marketing strategy plans, sales copy collateral, team building, cultural design, and development for in-house staff and customer/tribe attraction and retention. Through the use of webinars as a training and consulting tool, she has helped thousands build businesses on an international level. She appeared on NBC, ABC, and FOX as an expert in building business through webinars and social media, and has spoken at Harvard twice on micro influences causing national economic problems.
She has been a top Sales Associate including #1 in Long Term Care Insurance. Experienced Chief Executive Officer with a demonstrated history of working in the hospital & health care industry. Strong business development professional skilled in Organizations, Microsoft Word, Coaching, Sales, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM).