Ep 17 - David Seymour

PART B: David Seymour was losing his house when his career started. He was in pre-foreclosure and had $70,000 in unsecured debt. He was working 120 hours a week and while going through a divorce. He found himself crying between three jobs, trying to make his ends meet and fulfill his American dream that he thought he had signed up for. Tune in to hear how David Seymour turned it all around and became one of the nation’s leading experts in both residential and commercial transactions for business and real estate. Prepare to be uplifted, inspired, and know that you, too, can create your own Underdog story no matter your current circumstances.

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 Pamela Bardhi 

Today we have part B of my incredible interview with Dave Seymour. I can’t wait for you to hear the rest of his story. And without further ado, here’s Dave Seymour.

 

Dave Seymour 

Check this out. I’m sitting in the firehouse one night. It’s early in my career, right? The guys are making fun of me because you know, I’m on a different mental journey. Now rather than watching the pots or cooking in a firehouse or doing what we did on our downtime, I was watching the secret. I read the book, and I started following the teachings of Jack Canfield. And Jack Canfield is the author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, right? So I’m doing the affirmation and sending it out to the universe. And if you believe, you can achieve and I’m like, hallelujah, brother. I mean, I’m there, right? I’m at the altar. I’m there, baby. So, I throw it out there. I said, one day, I’m going to meet Jack Canfield. I throw it out there. And I flew across the country. And I did a one-day training at Jack Canfield house. And it was momentous for me. It allowed me to, you know, really grow my network as a result of that. And it’s funny last week, Jack and I, you know, touch gloves. He said, what do you got going on? I said, what do you got going on? And he said, He’s crazy. I can’t go out and speak anymore. Like I used to and teach nationally, internationally, said, I’m doing a lot of recordings of experts, he said, an interview, you know, talk about the teachings of Jack Canfield, and you know, what you got going on in your business? And how, you know, affected your life, etc. So, it’s stuff like that, right? It’s like, knowing that I have that reserve today to fall back on those reserves of people who can, you know, help. And in return, I help them right. It’s the Law of Reciprocity I do for you. You do for me, it’s good business. Oh, how you doing? Let’s go do good business, you know, alright, so look, let’s put some gas on this story. So I’m flipping houses, and I’m doing business in 2007, 2008 and 2009. And you know, I don’t know if you remember what it was like, Ben, you were a teenager, early 20s. Whatever you were back then. But you’re a teenager. And you know, people would say, what do you do? And I’d say, I’m a real estate investor. They go, oh, wow, I’m sorry, that must be bad, huh? And I’m like, no, it’s great. Like, I’ve got positivity about every situation that I’m in, you know. I do a wholesale transaction, I make five grands, I do another transaction. I make 10 grands. And I’m like, this feels like robbery. Like I’m making these checks from these attorney’s offices. I’m waiting for the five older roll up, you know, for the link cops like alright, Seymour, get in the car, you know. And I just kept moving forward. I just kept moving forward no matter what. And one of the people that I had learnt real estate from they said to me, you know, Dave, you’re actually doing it. I’m like, what do you mean? He said, Well, there were a lot of classmates that invested in themselves. But you’re actually doing the business. I remember that day thinking to myself, isn’t everybody doing it once they bought accountability? And it wasn’t the case. Like I had other attributes or other internal DNA mechanisms, whatever you want to call it, that pushed me forward. And I think that’s important just because it looks cool on HGTV, or you’re sitting in a beautiful rehab, condo conversion and Rosendale, right, just because that looks great. It doesn’t mean it’s your passion. What people don’t realize is all the work and effort and bullshit that you have to go through right to get that beautiful finished product. Oh, yeah. And I think if you aren’t passionate about something, it can be challenging. So look, I’m doing deals, I’m doing business, they said, you should teach. I’m like you out of your trees? I’m only like two years out of losing my house that I just managed to say what do you mean, teach me to teach it, you got a good story. And I became a teacher. And I was travelling around the country and I was, you know, teaching the processes of the experts that I had learned from until I could really claim myself to be an expert. And people resonated with me, I found a connection with a lot of people. And that people knew when Dave was in the room, I found a call and I found a place where that God-given thing that they gave me, you know, the big man upstairs said, I’m going to give this to you. Don’t abuse it, use it. You know what I mean? I think I was more in the world of personal development than I was a real estate. I honestly believe that today, Pam, I think I was given the ability to stand in truth, which a lot of those people on those stages do not do. I was allowed to tell my story from a place of vulnerability and be okay with it. You know, I’m sober over 30 years. I share that in seminar worlds. And it’s like, you know, when I was 23 years old, it wasn’t pretty. I’m now 53 years old. I’m not as pretty as I was at 23. But my life’s a lot better. You know what I’m saying? There’s somebody in the seminar said that New York was looking for a new TV show, and I’m like, okay, I should apply for that. That would be fun. You know, I’ve came down to shoot a little pilot. And you know, they picked up the show, and then it was off and running. Then I’m on today’s show and Squawk Box and CNN and NBC and another guy now I’m the cheese man. I’m the big dog. Right? Yeah, the underdog, the show the underdog. I went from underdog to Big Dog Who let the dogs out. And it was a blessing and a curse. It took up a huge amount of time. But you know, it just expanded. My network, again, is interesting, right? There’s the theme underneath network, who you surround yourself with. And 4 seasons, 29 episodes, the partnership was good. But it did run its course. And my partner Pete and I decided it was time to go our own way. And, you know, we did that he’s doing great things. I’m doing great things. We touch gloves, occasionally. I’ve always been an educator, I’ve represented other education, collegiate type real estate education programs. I found that to be rewarding. I like watching somebody, you know, come on a Friday, knowing that they’re there for three days, and watching them gradually wake up like I did, watching them change. Watching them go from slouching and arms crossed and grumpy to open it up and looking at possibilities. And I take pride in. I say, Yeah, I was able to help them make that transition. A lot of people come there, you know, and even people with money hurting financially because they don’t know what to do with it. It’s been an interesting journey, to say the least.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

That’s an amazing one on Dave, look at you all these exciting, amazing things that I adore. And you know, I do the thing is like, you’re so diversified in it too, which is really is like your paramedic firefighter. And it’s like you got this fearlessness to you, which is amazing. You know, it’s like you’re not afraid to say, yeah, let’s roll. Let’s do it, we got it. Keep rolling.

 

Dave Seymour 

Here’s what I learned, though, all of that stuff I never did on my own. It was never alone. You know, again, you’re sitting in that beautiful home, I’m taking a guess that you didn’t paint that wall, right? It’s team process. And that was what was great about the fire department was it set a foundation. And now if we move forward, you know, like 10 years, to where I am today, my team is as powerful as was my engine company. It’s just that our mission is different today. You know, the engine company will work in unison, we drilled, we knew what everybody else’s roles and responsibility. Well, there was one guy who rode up front that was the lieutenant or the captain. And then there was a, you know, a guy who ran the pump, a guy went in the building, like we all knew what we were supposed to do. that camaraderie is what we have today in our current business model, you know, post COVID, it’s not even post COVID. We’re like in COVID, you know, watching what the markets doing now, the things that scare us and the things that excite us, you know, putting that team together so that we can execute on. And I mean this sincerely to anybody and everybody who listens to your podcast, Pam. The opportunities that are created out of the chaos of COVID. We won’t see it for a century at least, right? Here’s what happened was, as COVID hit the real estate marketplace, I was affiliated with some hard money lending, I had created a branch office with some guys that I knew out in San Diego. And we had seven loan originators working directly under myself and a couple of other guys and $15 million, with the loans coming through the pipe, ready to fund flippers, right? COVID hit. And it was out of business in three days. And here’s why. Because the business model was set up is somewhere like 65, or 70% of the hard money lenders for single family buy, fix and flip up to for like 65-70% of them just get in the way of the money. Like they put themselves between capital and the investor. And the capital usually is really Wall Street because they’re buying the notes that are created by the hard money lending companies. And as soon as COVID reared its ugly head, Wall Street said Non-qm lending as well. It’s mean not non owner occupied. We have no appetite for that anymore. It’s way too risky. We’re not buying the notes. So, at the moment they did that they shut down their buy side, well, everything that was in the pipe. Now everybody’s scrambling around, and you know, maybe some of your listeners, you know, got caught up in that, in the sense of they expected closings and they didn’t happen. So for me, it gave me an insight into something which has been absolutely critical for us today. It’s to kind of step back for about 2448 hours to our point of pivot, right. I’m like, I got to pivot. Right. It’s happening right. I got to pivot. And I just thought to myself, he or she who controls the capital is going to win the race. It’s all about controlling capital now. So, what capital do I want to control? And what’s the best rate of return I can get for that capital? That was the questions that I asked myself. Now, I’m known as the guy from flipping Boston, right, the TV show, the firefighter, the lunatic, all of those things. But my mature side has always been a commercial real estate investor. I’ve always been commercial buy and hold assets, cash flow, etc., etc. Like I’ve always done that. So, controlling the capital is the name of the game, reached into my network and partner back up with a very dear friend of mine by the name of Walter. Walter is an ex-Army Ranger Special Forces. He’s solid, right? He’s on your team. He’s on your team. He’s got your back, that kind of thing. Right. And Walter, in the Gulf Coast region of Florida, in the past 15-20 years of his career, has been what’s called a commercial syndicator. Now, commercial syndication is you know, I find 100-unit apartment complex. I call Pam, she calls 10 of her friends. We all pull the money together to fund the gap, the money down on the deal. And then we all participate in, you know, quarterly distributions, cash flow and equity on the back end. Now, Walter had done that’s onesies, twosies is syndication, right. Walter has raised about 125 million deployed 125 million and then paid back 125 million with a 20% plus rate of return on the capital. That’s his track record. So that big piece of the puzzle is now fixed for me. So, what’s the other piece of the puzzle? The capital. So Walter said, you raise the money, I’ll raise some money, we’ll do everything we can to raise the capital. He said, instead of just buying one or two at a time. And then he got really aggressive on the call. I love that. He said, Let’s buy them all. He said, Let’s buy them all. I said, Well, hold on a sec, what are you talking about? He said, the opportunities that COVID creates for us in the multifamily arena, we’ll never see again. And what he’s saying is this, Mom and Pop, commercial investors who own you know, like a 40 unit, or 120 unit or a 10-unit building. Their mom and pops. They’re not professional like us. So when they buy the assets, most of the time they buy them wrong in the first place, they pay too much. They don’t have the management skills to take this business, which are a unit is. Massage it to make it more profitable. They don’t know how to deal with tenants, they don’t have marketing, they don’t have good deferred maintenance systems, and COVID’s putting them out of business. And we’re seeing it right now. We’re seeing it right now before they even stop not letting tenants pay rent. And he said, we will focus on the 40 to 140. We’ll let Wall Street and the big boys and all of those other, you know syndicators out there, let them guys will fight over the big apartment complexes, and we’ll buy all the ones underneath. For two reasons. One lack of competition, two the infrastructures already built in the network in Florida is already established. Everybody knows he’s the guy to call when you’re selling. And then number three, if you think of an apartment complex as a business itself, Warren Buffett looks for underperforming businesses, he buys them. He fires the CEO, the CFO, the CIO, right gets rid of all of those people, he brings in the right people and makes the business more profitable. Well, that’s what we do, we do the same thing. So, we got two choices, big apartment buildings. Well, those things, you know, it’s like the Titanic, small apartment buildings, speed boats, pay my investors fast. First, the more often is the concept behind it. That’s where we’re at today, we just, we finished our Securities and Exchange Commission filings, we are now a registered 506-C, Regulation-D Fund, which means that we accept accredited investors, which means the SEC says an accredited investor earns a certain amount of capital, therefore they can look at these investments. Whereas somebody who doesn’t have this kind of income or net worth cannot look at these investments. We did that purposefully. We want intelligent investors alongside us. And the biggest influx of clients that I have is doctors, it’s doctors, lawyers, business owners, other real estate investors, Pam, actually hits funny, you know, the guys and girls have been doing those condo conversions in Boston. You know, they’re sitting on Capitol and they’re too scared to go buy another condo conversion, or they’re too scared to go do new construction. And they’re like they don’t have the network that we have to be able to go out and put that capital to work safely. And we work that money for six years. And after six years, you know that it’s targeted returns of eight to 14% quarterly distributions. And then 20 plus targeted what’s called an internal rate of return. So, people have asked me to do this my whole GD career, the whole time. But I was always distracted. I was always doing something else. I got a camera at my rear end, I’m doing this I’m travelling around the world, I’m teaching. Hey, you know, and now it’s so rewarding to have in depth meaningful conversations with people who, whose retirements been brutalized by the stock market, right? I educate people on self-directing their retirement accounts. And they’re like, what the hell does that mean? It means you don’t have to pay somebody else. Your right to spend your money. You decide what you would like to spend and invest on. Let me show you what we have. And if you like it, great. If you don’t, that’s okay, too. So, they start directing their own retirements. And they’re like, Oh, my God, I didn’t know I could get these kinds of returns. Well, nobody told you. Because they make money if they don’t tell you, hey, that’s the system is set up that way. So, it’s just exciting to have those good, you know, meaningful conversations with people and be able to help them now. Do I make money? You bet your ass I do. You know what it’s taken me 12 years taking my partner over 25 years. And my third partner, our operations officer Eric stolen, right out of fidelity was coding for fidelity to predict the market. So, guys, like off the charts, genius, smart. Give him a computer, and he makes it perfect. So you know, that’s why we get paid, we get paid to protect principle at all costs, right hedge against the downside, because of the way we buy where we buy, cost segregation, offering the maximum depreciation of tax advantages. And then we accelerate the upside, because we’ve got the infrastructure in the verticals to get the right property management team in which we have, and then the construction, the deferred maintenance. I’m excited about real estate, you know. Conversions and flips and those things, they’re great. They’re great, but you know, there’s a progression to everything in life. Right. And at some point, or another, I turn around, I looked at it, and I went, alright, so I can make 40, 50 on that. 60, maybe 100. That’s great. I’ve done that already. What else can I do? You know, you know, I liquidated my holdings up in Maine, gotten a cash strong position. You know, we’re rocking and rolling. It’s an exciting time at freedom venture investments, young lady, for sure.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

I love it. I love it. And I think it’s fascinating too, that you’re focusing on the 40 to 150, because I’m a commercial real estate broker as well. So, I just sold 80 units back in December, and commercial buildings in Cambridge. And it was like everyone wants everything. 50 plus units, or like, now they want like 150 Plus, and that’s it. And I’m like, yeah, but what about everything below? Great opportunities to like you said the mom and pops, they’re not going to own 150 plus unit buildings. They’re not going to do that, you know, they’re gonna have the 30 they’re gonna have the 50 they’re gonna have the six, you know, different things. Yeah, I think that’s where you’re focusing, you know? Yeah.

 

Dave Seymour 

Yeah. It’s just proven to be the best way to pay investors. Yeah. Right. And right now, we’re not buying in New England. But this is a great call, because we will be q, late Q2 early Q3.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Yep.

 

Dave Seymour 

Next year. Yeah. Because those compressed cap rates that we’ve been tracking every year ends through right, in New England and New York are going to loosen up. And those opportunities will be there. So, I’ll buy it all in fund one, which is 100 million, right? That’s that fun. These 100 million, 100,000 minimum investment to buy units in the company. That’s fine. Well, I’m fine too. I’m going to be buying my own backyard again. So, we’ll have the holding. We’ll have the holdings in Florida and then we’ll have the holdings. Those are the strategies. We’re already building the framework for fun too, which will be a $250 million fund. Listen to me, right. You know, 12 years ago, I’m sitting in the recliner in the firehouse, praying that the phone rings, so I get an overtime 200 bucks. Wow. Think about that. That’s the God’s honest truth. That’s what I used to do praying to get 200 bucks, which would cost me another 14 hours of my life away from my family. And now 12, 14 years later, you know, I’m sitting here, and I’ve got a conversation tonight at five o’clock, we’re bringing a couple in with their retirement accounts and make a contribution anywhere between 150 maybe 200,000. From their retirement accounts, I’ll help facilitate that forum with my self-directed retirement account connections out in Cali. My boy Greg will take great care of them. It’s just uh, you know, sometimes I got to pinch myself, you know what I mean to turn around and look at it but forward motion baby. It’s all about forward motion. No lateral and D load never going backwards at any and all costs. You know,

 

Pamela Bardhi 

amen to that. Amen to that. And now I have a question for you. Yes. Cuz you just sort of went back to where you were right? Yeah. Yeah. What would your older self tell your younger self?

 

Dave Seymour 

Start sooner. You know, I don’t have any regrets. I don’t. I’m in a blessed position today. I had a chance at 24 or 25 years old, I think it was. I remember I was exposed to some kind of seminar thing. And I thought to myself, that sounds like it could work. It was doing like government housing or something like that. And I didn’t stay the course. I didn’t have enough accountability. If I’d have embarked upon that journey at 24, or 25, instead of waiting till I was 38-39 years old. I just wonder what that could have been like. However, I wouldn’t have met my wife, Mary Beth, I wouldn’t have my 10-year-old boy, Jefferson. I probably wouldn’t have my eight-year-old boy Bennett. You know what I mean? So everything for a reason. But definitely, people for some reason, they just it just complacent. Right? complacency. It’s the Yeah, I’ll do it tomorrow, right? I’ll fix it. I’ll lose weight tomorrow. I’ll start eating better or working out or making more money or I’m going to get a girlfriend tomorrow, I’m going to get a boyfriend tomorrow. Tomorrow, tomorrow, the sun will come out tomorrow, you know. And tomorrow doesn’t come. You know, it just doesn’t come. You know, the opportunities are in front of us. Somebody said to me once I like, I think back to the negativity and somebody had said, you know, Seymour, you’ll never make it. You’re a construction guy. You’re a firefighter, right? You’re never gonna make you’re gonna work in a pizza shop your whole life. What are you talking about? Right? Just know your place. Right? It was that kind of mentality. And then when you make some changes, they go, I always know he was lucky. There’s a Chinese proverb, I believe, and it says something along the lines of the definition of luck is when opportunity meets preparedness, right? How are you prepared for the opportunity that’s in front of you? So I wasn’t prepared at 25 but you betcha sweet ass I’m prepared 53. You know, my toolbox is overflowing with skills today. And I just keep on putting tools in the toolbox and build it and helping other people along the way. So yeah, Underdog Story, baby.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Underdog. Oh, my goodness. All right, last question for you. So what piece of advice would you give to listeners who are maybe just starting out or anything from your journey that you think would help?

 

Dave Seymour 

That’s always a great question. And I kind of answered it, not intending to answer it earlier on in the call. Find out what you’re good at. Be honest with yourself and find out what you’re passionate about. And then figure out how to bring it to the marketplace. Come with a giving heart, right? Not a taking mindset. And I think that will definitely help in any journey in any accomplishment. Learn how to set goals, learn how to implement them, and stay real. To thine own self be true, right? Stop the bullshit. Stop telling yourself it’s going to be okay. When you know that it’s not right. I own it. Own every fricking minute you’re awake. Because if you don’t, you know, it’s whose fault is that? A guy said to me one time show me who somebody gets their financial advice from, and I’ll show you what their financial future looks like. Aim, there you go.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Regret is worse than fear. My friend. I tell that to everybody. That’s like my number one phrase, the thing that terrifies me is always regret. So like, it’s good that I want to do something. I’m always like, I gotta go out there and do it. Because at least I know, I tried. Even if I fail.

 

Dave Seymour 

You’re my sister.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

We’re in Europe.

 

Dave Seymour 

I’m sure somebody one of our clans got to know each other intimately at one point or another many, many hundreds of years ago. I tell you that is it. It’s regret. Yeah, regret is a demon. It’s an absolute demon. I ended up on the other side of the country or the other side of the world at 23 years old because I wasn’t prepared to, you know, live with regret of what coulda, woulda, shoulda right. So I’m with you. I love you.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

I love you, Dave. You’re so awesome. I want to thank you so much for your time today. You are so inspiring. So amazing. And I love your story. I can’t wait to see what you do with freedom ventures. I think it’s gonna continue to blow up and you will be a billion-dollar company soon. I know you will. You’re gonna have dollars in the funds and I’m gonna be like, Dave, what’s up, Billy, how you doing?

 

Dave Seymour 

Billy? Yeah, yeah, we’re working capital for good people, for sure. For sure. Awesome.

 

Pamela Bardhi 

Thank you so much. Thank you so much.

 

 

Tune in to the episode to hear the rest of my incredible interview with David Seymour!