Jennifer De Jesus – Growing Empires Podcast – Part 1

Episode 904: Special Guest Interview Stephanie Walter- ERBE Wealth (part 1)


Welcome to Episode Four of Season Nine of the growing Empire Show. Today I’m here with my special guest, Stephanie Walter from ERBE Wealth and we’re going to talk about how to create that life that you’ve always desired, and have financial freedom. So stay tuned.


Welcome to Growing Empires hosted by real estate entrepreneur, and trusted investment advisor, Jennifer de Jesus. Growing Empires provides insight to building wealth through passive income producing real estate investments for those who want to build and manage a more profitable real estate portfolio.


Welcome, Stephanie, to the Growing Empire Show. I’m so glad that you’re here.


Thanks so much for having me.


Absolutely. Let’s kick off this episode with you sharing a little bit about yourself and how you got into the work that you’re doing now?


Oh, sure. Well, my story’s fairly common in the sense that I started to work out of college at a W-2 job, and did that for about eight years. Realize a couple things. One, the taxes. I was surprised, as a lot of workers are, by how much of my income I had to pay taxes on it. But the thing that kind of pushed me over the edge was I sat down with my manager, and she’d said, Oh, you’ve done a fantastic job, you’re one of the best at what you’re doing, and here is this 2% raise. And I said, I went home and talked to my dad, who is who was alive at the time and was like, I just, I don’t know, dad a 2% raise for the rest of my life. That’s, you know, that’s a pretty daunting thought. And he is, my dad was second generation entrepreneur, his father came straight over from Germany. So I’d had at least that modeled for me. So at that time, I started my insurance agency that I ran for 16 years. But all along, I’ve always loved real estate, I just didn’t have like a great deal of knowledge. I more liked an area and thought, Well, I think that’s a good area to buy. And then you know, I would buy rentals all along during that time. And then in 2016, I was invited to go to a, like a boot camp about investing in, in apartment complexes. And in that boot camp, they explained what a syndication was, and I was completely sold on that idea. I felt like this is it, you know, and I’ve never had that in my life. But I just loved the idea of a group of people buying something that no one could do on their own. And from there, I did my first syndication in 2018, by myself, and I decided from that, that I would never, ever, ever do anything by myself again. So through my network of people, I met my partner. And I realized I loved raising money, and as a fact of raising money, work with a lot of wealthy people. And I noticed they were doing a lot of things that most of the people I knew, had not done with their money. So in 2018, I kind of shifted some of my priorities around and moved some money into different places. And I was able to sell my agency this year, July of 2021. And essentially, I can be retired. But the way I look at it is I do what I love right now, which is talk to people about doing these alternative investments.


Oh, that’s fantastic. I’m really excited to hear more about some of your expertise. So today, we are going to talk about how to unlearn what you know about money so that you can get started creating the lifestyle that you’ve always wanted. And I’ve asked Stephanie to join me to share her wealth of knowledge and secrets that she’s picked up over the years. So today we’re going to cover some common myths surrounding money and investing. How do you actually unlearn what you know about money? Some of the best practices for real estate investing what wealthy people do differently regarding money in their investments. Reasons not to put your money in a 401k and what to do instead. And what changed for you and what you’d started doing differently that allowed you specifically to get from one unit to the amount of real estate volume that you own now. And you know, that’s really what we’re going to go through. So let’s just jump right in. Why don’t we first talk about, how do you actually get started? How do you unlearn some of the stuff that maybe your parents taught you or that you grew up learning in college? How do you unlearn? How do you take that back so that you can move forward?


That’s the biggest thing to be honest with you. Because I was raised like I said, in a pretty an entrepreneurial I net, my dad never had a job as far as my memory went back. So it was always an entrepreneur. So I did see, and I was open to obviously real estate, but just wasn’t very educated with it. So I never really had, you know, I had a small 401k when I was working for those eight years. But I didn’t, I never really understood the stock market to a great deal. And actually, that comes from me who I had my series six when I was an insurance agent, and I still didn’t really understand it. So I think the mindset is the hardest thing to change. And so for me, I actually read a book, which is not mine, and I’m not associated with it, but it’s called Killing Sacred Cows. It’s by Garrett Gunderson. And I love the book, because it really does delve into mindset changes. And it’s not, you have to really read it to understand but I think largely, I’ll try to simplify a little bit, which is the average person looks at their money, and the way they’re investing as accumulation. So you know, you put your money into your bank account or your 401k. And you just let it sit, and you have no control over it. You get, you know, the the fees are taken as as they’re taken. And hopefully, in 20 years, you get a nice pot of gold at the end. But there’s some major issues with that or a wealthy person would have with that, which is largely the loss of control through almost those 20 or 30 years that that money is growing. As well as not having access. So the wealthy person has a view of money, which is I would call it utilization. And it’s just simply that they’re using their money at all time. Or rather that money, they look at it as growing and working for them. So I think it’s honestly a mind shift that has to be made to look at your money, rather than one that just sits to to something that can actually work for you. And I think that book really goes into it a lot. It goes into a lot of other things. But it’s all mindset. And that’s where I really think it needs to start. Is viewing your money as a tool to do something for you. Now, actually, not in the long future.


Understood. So do you think that that mind shift change also takes on like a little bit of risk? Or are there ways to go about doing that new learning process that, you know, is a little less risky? Because I think that that’s also a barrier for people is just risk right? In general, people just don’t like to take risk with money.


That’s it. And that is the crazy thing. Because I again, my job every day is to talk to investors. And but you brought up a great point, because that’s a myth that you brought up yourself, which is people think that the wealthy got wealthy by investing in high risk things and things that you know, oh, well, they got wealthy because they didn’t mind risking their $100,000 that could have just gone away. And actually, nothing could be further from the truth. From what I’ve seen the wealthy invest in very, very stable. What we are doing our syndications that in which we’re investing in cash flowing multifamily apartments. So those are one of the most stable asset classes you can buy into. And if you don’t believe me, look at where your insurance companies put their money that they have just sitting in their reserves, the pension funds that are managing large amounts of money, banks, nd of course, the wealthy invest in these huge syndications. Because they know that putting their money in, in these real estate assets are going to grow. They don’t put their money into the stock market, which I would argue is even more risky because you don’t know. You’re probably invested in who knows hundreds to 1000s of different companies and you don’t know a thing about any of them. You don’t know who’s running them. You don’t know what what their business plan is. You don’t know really anything other than your advisor told you to put the money there. So that is a definite myth of thinking that this type of investing is risky.


Absolutely. Yeah, I completely agree.


The episode will continue in just a moment.


I recognize that as an active investor, you want to implement best practices that drive the highest returns on your profits. Everything we do at Empire is designed to make life a lot easier for you so you make sound decisions regarding your portfolio. Whether that’s through this Growing Empires podcast, our company services of property acquisition, construction and management, or by becoming an Empire Capital Fund investor, we want you to be as successful as possible. However, using the right methods is critical to achieving your ROI. There’s a lot of advice out there, and it can be overwhelming. Especially if you’re using a method that isn’t working. Don’t take a chance on an approach that may not be right for you. If you want to be sure I can help you assess if your current strategies are a fit to your properties end goals. Book a call with me today to see if there’s a better way. Go to and click book a consult and I can confirm that the method you are using is the right one for you or suggests a simpler, more profitable alternative. One quick conversation and you’ll feel better about the choices you’re making regarding your real estate investment portfolio and the value in comparing to long term.


So what are some of the other myths surrounding money and investing that you hear people talk about that you have to try to help them work through?


I think, you know, the largest is definitely the 401k, that people believe that that is you know where the money should be. And not touching it for a long period of time. But I think a large one, which actually I can relate to. Because by changing my thought on that, that really changed where I was in life. But I believed that, you know, my wealth was based on my net worth. And so I went out and I acquired all these rental properties. And I was like, Well, on paper, I have that wonderful net worth. But I have a really piddly little cash flow coming in. And the biggest thing that I’ve learned from the wealthy is if they had to choose between cash flow and net worth, as what is more important to them, they will say cash flow 1000 times 100% few times on Saturday. And that’s true, I was really focused in my head to my net worth, which didn’t change my life in any way. But once I started looking at what I could achieve as far as my cash flow, then I could focus on getting my cash flow to replace my income. And then who cares what your net worth is, if you’re able to, you know, not work or you know, that and that’s it. That’s a definite mind shift between I think a lot of people think, you know, net worth is where they need to focus.


Yeah, I completely agree with that. And you know, you brought up another point about the amount of time, right, if you’re talking about that gradual, you know, 401k, you know, type of status with your money, you are still paralyzed in your current job. Because you you will not create enough income to replace your salary. And the only way to do that is to create cash flow to create a, you know, a basket of cash flow, essentially, that replaces that income. So you’re talking about very different strategies. You’re talking about an immediate change strategy or a strategy that is going to take years and you may not even live through the you know, those years.


That’s a great point that you brought up. And I think Garrett Gunderson in that book refers to exactly what you said as the golden handcuffs that most of the country is in. They’re strapped to their job, because of their 401k. And they don’t want to go anywhere else, and they need it. And they’re handcuffed to a job that they they don’t love.


Right? Absolutely. So what would you say the wealthy do differently regarding money in their investments? Anything in addition to what we’ve talked about? Just, I mean, because obviously we’ve talked about how they look at money differently. And they’re talking about making their money work for them every day versus putting their money in an account and letting it sit there and hoping that it creates wealth. They’re actively pursuing wealth, cash flow, right? What else would you say that the wealthy do differently regarding money in their investments?


I think what’s interesting about what they do with their money is they are very interested in the story behind what they’re investing in. So largely wealthy people invest in these alternative investments like syndications or they invest in a business, a straight up business, but I would argue that a syndication is really a business. Because we’re purchasing an apartment complex and that apartment complex has a story, and we’re trying to increase the income and decrease the expenses. We plan. You know, there’s the holding period, there’s an exit strategy. There’s all these things that people think sounds complicated, but actually really isn’t. Because it’s just one company as well as they do their research on their team, they really believe in who’s behind the, you know, investment that they’re putting their money in. And this team of people that they’re investing with, so they care much more about that, than I think I had mentioned, putting the money into, like a mutual fund, where you’ve got nameless countless companies that you don’t know any. They really want to understand what they’re investing in as far as a company, or, you know, a type of real estate investment.


Yeah, I agree with that, as well. And I also think a big key to that is they diversify as well, right? They don’t, it’s just not all eggs in one basket. They diversify their income. Which actually helps them shield some risk, right? Because they are diversifying their money. And you know, you go back to the stock market. And again, it just so true, because there’s so much data in so much history to prove that the real estate market specifically, multifamily market, has a much higher yield over a long period of time than the stock market does because of the volatility of the stock market. So if you want to invest in something that you can insure is going to grow wealth, multifamily markets and syndications and hedge funds, and things like that certainly are the way to go.


Yeah, I mean, people are often surprised when they work, you know, and every company is a bit different. But you know, our company, we’re on our eighth deal together, and we’ve returned about, we’ve returned over 20% annualized returns, and on every property that we’ve owned up to this point. And people are like, yeah, okay, 20%, but it’s absolutely for real. And they’re like, Well, what about COVID? And this is why I love the concept of syndication so much is that you’re investing with a professional group of people who does an enormous amount of market research. We do insane amounts of research. We look at hundreds of deals. We’ll find maybe one or two deals will close on every year. So you’re paying for someone to do all of this research to get you in the very, very cream of the crop deal. So for us, we’re invested largely in Florida. And but think, you know, in areas where there the government’s were more supportive towards landlords. During a recession, people, you know, will leave their single family homes, and they’ll move into apartment complexes. And that’s what we found. But actually through COVID, the our rents collections were over 96%. So it traditionally multifamily is great as an inflation hedge because the rents go up every year, you know. Regardless, depending on you know, you need to be in a market where there’s that demand. And you know, it’s just like they say, a recession proof asset class I, I’ve been through one recession, and that seemed to be the case, actually.


Actually, I was going to literally say those words recession proof. Because it’s something that I say all the time, and I’m in a completely different market than you are and I have the same exact experiences. I’m up in Pennsylvania, you’re down in Florida, and our multifamily market, you know, we are a very landlord friendly state, there’s no question about it. And that makes a big difference. But we are 100% recession proof and COVID proof now to you know. Because we did we saw the same consistency. So when businesses were losing their shirts, and you know, stocks were dropping, and all of these things were happening, you know, we stayed very steady. We stayed very, very steady and we were able to, you know, continue on with business and and have, you know, inflation and, you know, recession proof assets to cash flow. So I completely agree with that.


And one just one thing because I love this, I spoke at a conference and I did some research on the rents, and I looked back to 1980 to 2011 on average rent growth was 8.8% 8.86% per year. I mean, that Yeah, talk about you know, a hedge to inflation. I mean, I don’t think there there could be a better one, to be honest.


Yeah, I completely agree with you. And it’s you know, completely within your control to when you have multi families. Right.


So that is it for today. Please stay tuned next week when I continue my conversation with Stephanie. Until next time, take care.


For more information about how Jennifer can help you plan, develop and manage a strong real estate investment portfolio, visit

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