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DreamNation Real Estate Episode 82 – Aaron Amuchastegui: Know Your ‘Why’ and Memories Over Things

Here’s a snapshot of a few things we talked about…

  • Who is the Clark Kent, When It Comes to Aaron Amuchastegui? [00:02:19]
  • What Helped Him Through Rocky Times with His Spouse? [00:05:58]
  • His Background and Journey through the World of Real Estate [00:11:50]
  • How He Turned His Life Around After Going to Prison [00:18:21]
  • If He Had to Start Over Again, Would He Still Start with Foreclosures? [00:37:18]
  • Why Single Rental Units are Great Investments [00:44:06]
  • Once Things Go Back to Pre-Pandemic Days, Will He Go Back in On Foreclosures? [00:46:55]
  • One Thing He Wishes He Had Implemented Sooner to Accelerate His Journey? [00:48:26]

In This Episode You’ll Learn:

In this episode, Casanova and Aaron talk about how he reached the top, lost it all and now got back to the top. He shares the lessons he learnt through the ups and downs of life and in the real estate business. 

Aaron starts by saying that social media is our highlight reel. It’s everyone’s highlight reel, and it is why we do the hard stuff. Everyone should be focusing on things that are good, instead of things that went wrong.

Aaron is a family man, who goes by the motto from his dads group, ‘I’m a family man with the business’, instead of ‘I’m a businessman with a family.’ He recalls the struggles and rough patches that they went through in their marriage, but they pushed through that, now they have an amazing marriage and life.

He likes to spend time with his family, and have different experiences, and make memories with his kids. Cass adds that a lot of the times, we don’t put enough emphasis on the time and the memories that we have right now to create with our kids, and we only have a certain amount of time.

Talking about what helped him keep his marriage together, Aaron says that the relationship advice he always gives to people when they’re having trouble with their marriage is to just stay and keep trying and keep pushing forward.

One of the things that they also struggle with after they started making a lot of money was that nobody taught us what it was like to have money. No one told us what to do with that, as they didn’t come from money.

Aaron adds that when they both started making money, instead of being a team, they started competing with each other. When they lost it all, and it was a combination of relationship and business stuff, and everything else.

Growing up in a small town in Oregon, Aaron never had to learn how to be socially good in school. One of his problems, when he went to college, was that he had a really tough time socially. While studying at University of Oregon, he became part of the wrong crowd. 

Unfortunately for him, this led to him, at 21 years old, going to prison in Southern California. Those two years were amazingly transformative for him and who he became. He really started to think that he was not going to waste any more of his life.

As soon as he got out, he got accepted to go to Cal Poly to study construction management. He worked harder than everybody else around him. He cared more about every class than everybody else around him.

Things started looking up for them, but after the market crash of 2008, things went downhill. His wife was working nights, and he was working days. Aaron scrambled to start a business and started looking at courthouse steps for foreclosures. 

They got really lucky on their first deal and found a great process and niche. After his second daughter was born six weeks early, Aaron finally decided to leave his job and pursue this full-time. 

One thing he wished they would have done better at that time was to figure out what their ‘why’ was going to be later because their ‘why’ at the time was that they just wanted to be okay. From 2009 to 2012, they bought a ton of houses. His wife was one of the biggest brokers in Northern California at the time.

When big companies started entering the market, they were put out of their business. Their relationship started to go into shambles. Our business went into shambles. He realized that they did the wrong things with their money. They learned many lessons, and then they were shut down for a couple of years after that.

Somewhere in that three-to-six-month period, Aaron started to read some books and started being positive, getting a mindset again. He adds that it takes time before you can get your head on shoulder and the trauma has to go down a little bit before you can focus on what’s next.

After looking for opportunities, Aaron got a chance to redo that auction scenario. He bought three houses at auction, they flipped them in the next month and it was off to the races again. It was like 2009 all over again, but he learned all of those lessons along the way.

Aarons adds that 2015 was the bottom for them, and since then, they’ve been on an upward trajectory, like the stock market. He recalls going to a Single-Family Rental Conference, where he found out that very few people owned over a thousand houses.

He thought that if he would have just kept 50 of the houses he flipped, he would have been set for life. So that changed his mind set when I went back to auction. At that point, he wasn’t a flipper anymore. 

He’d buy 10 in a month, and he would flip one or two and then he would turn the others into rentals and refinance them. He has done it every month since 2015. Now, he also owns the foreclosure listing company in Texas. So, if he can’t buy auction houses anymore, he’ll at least be selling people for a subscription.

Following COVID and foreclosure moratorium, Aaron started aggressively buying new construction for rentals. When you lock in new construction, you don’t get it delivered to you for five or six months. Which is great when there’s an increasing market, as the house will be worth more when it is delivered. 

Finding new construction is as simple as if you see a development getting built, you pull in there even before the sales office is up and you ask them who the builder is and they tell you, and you call that builder and say, I want to buy a house over there.

He adds that the lower-end ones make good rentals, the higher-end ones don’t. So, go see the ones that you think are going to be good cash flows. He continues that he loves the pace of foreclosures and the deal of foreclosures, but it’s not going to be his only focus. A year and a half ago, it was the biggest part of his strategy, and now it’ll be one of his strategies.

Talking about things that could have accelerated his journey, he says that knowing your why, knowing your goal, and keeping your eye on it, and combined with that, finding mentors and people that have been there first would have been greatly helpful.

Key Quotes:

  • “Don’t think about the stuff that went wrong last year. Think about the stuff that went right, think about how you made the most of it because the highlight reel is that special part of it…”—Aaron Amuchastegui. 
  • “Maybe someday we’ll get to say like, Aaron really prepared his kids where they could live with that, but they’re choosing to hang out with them instead…”—Aaron Amuchastegui.
  • “If I didn’t come from a loving father, that a loving father must come from me…” –Casanova Brooks.
  • “One of the biggest secrets is both people wanting to do better and sticking through some wild, tough times…”—Aaron Amuchastegui. 
  • “We were making so much money, but nobody taught us what it was like to have money…”—Aaron Amuchastegui.
  • “When you’re struggling and you’re barely making any money, you’re a team, you and your spouse, you guys are a team…”—Aaron Amuchastegui.
  • “We’re so inundated with the struggle of this part, but we don’t really think about the overall picture, is that we’re really building our roots going through these hard times…” –Casanova Brooks.
  • “I was making bad decisions and did not realize that the impact of my bad decisions could be so significant…”—Aaron Amuchastegui.
  • “If we would have had a more set thing off, this is why I want to get successful. This is why I want to have money. And when I get money, this is what I’m going to do. We wouldn’t have, we wouldn’t have wasted it later…”—Aaron Amuchastegui.
  • “Beginning of 2012, 2013, we had over a million dollars in cash just sitting in a bank account and near the end of that year, we didn’t have any anymore…”—Aaron Amuchastegui.
  • “It takes time before you can get your head on shoulder and the trauma, like the trauma, has to go down a little bit before you can focus on what’s next…”—Aaron Amuchastegui.
  • “We got this mindset of memories over things, if we ever get another chance, it’s memory over other things…”—Aaron Amuchastegui.
  • “Auction is a little risky in the fact that you got to do your homework. Not all of them are a good deal…”—Aaron Amuchastegui.
  • “The new mindset was instead of short cash, let’s set for life…”—Aaron Amuchastegui.
  • “A man isn’t a man, unless he has gone bankrupt a couple of times in his life…”—Aaron Amuchastegui.
  • “I think I’ve been to zero about three times. If you count the time in my twenties and hopefully now it’s just creating legacy instead…”—Aaron Amuchastegui.
  • “Really know your ‘whys’ and your goals and where you want to be…”—Aaron Amuchastegui.

Links/Resources:

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