Transcript of “Flipping Farms and Investing in Real Estate with Bill Pankonin”
Gabriel Petersen 0:02
All right, we are live. Bill, thank you very much for joining us today. How are you doing?
Bill Bankonin 0:09
I’m doing great. Thanks for inviting me to your show.
Gabriel Petersen 0:12
Absolutely. So why don’t you get us started? You know, tell us who you are, where you’re from and a little bit on how you got into real estate in the first place.
Bill Bankonin 0:22
Well, my name is Bill pank. And and I’m from the Lakeville, Minnesota area. I’ve been involved in real estate pretty much right out of college. My father was a broker in southwestern Minnesota. He was a farmland commercial broker and, and so I grew up in the industry, so I’m second generation. Three of my six kids are also real estate. So we’re working on another generation.
Gabriel Petersen 0:45
Nice. I love it. I love I love the family business. I kind of wish my parents were in real estate and and showed me the ropes. But you know, it’s great that your kids are taking it on for you. Right. So, so you got started, however, Many years ago, what you’re about, have you been in the business? It sounds like from from our conversation before the show, 20 plus years, something like that?
Bill Bankonin 1:08
No, actually, it’s over 40. Again, I hate to say that, but it’s 40 years. But so I started in the late 70s. And, you know, and each decade I always tell people, if you’ve been in real estate long enough, every decade has something that’s going to challenge you in the real estate industry. And so I’ve been through, as you all know, high interest rates, several recessions, bank failures, com crashes. And now we have a new animal pandemics is a new one to add to my list. So I’ve been through quite a few of them. I you know, I think the biggest advantage I got and at the time looking back at the time, it didn’t seem like a very smart deal. But I started out in in a small rural Minnesota town which made me have to learn how to do a lot of different things in the real estate industry. So I’d have to learn how to do residential, but I had to learn how to sell drive ins and hotels and farms and Anything that was for sale, that’s because that’s how you make a living out there because there wasn’t as many opportunities. So, at the time, it didn’t seem so cool. But looking back, it was a great, great way to get started in the industry.
Gabriel Petersen 2:11
I love it. So you’ve been through all the ups and downs that real estate can possibly throw at an individual. Sounds like you’ve been in every aspect of your niche of real estate. So, so you have had an illustrious career career, I’m sure you’ll be able to share a lot of your wisdom with us today. So kind of tell us, you know, bring us to the modern day. What is it that is your bread and butter? What are you doing now in in real estate?
Bill Bankonin 2:37
Well, I’m, I’m the regional owner for exit realty Upper Midwest, and what I do is I opened up new real estate offices in a 16th area so North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and last year at recently I brought on Illinois, so I help brokers and their agents get started in the business on their franchises and so in the last Six years or so we started with eight offices today, we proportioning over 80 offices. And I started with about 120 agents. We’re over 1000 agents today. So we’ve grown really fast. What’s fun for me, and being involved in the industry this long is having the opportunity to help agents who are just getting started in the business, or who want to have more exposure. And whether they’re working with investing with clients or they’re going to get involved in the commercial part of it. I can kind of help them with the do’s and don’ts because I probably did a lot of don’ts in so I got a great I got a great education of what not to do, and I try to save agents time and money from doing things wrong.
Gabriel Petersen 3:42
I love it. Ya know, I’ve pretty much every guest that’s been on here has said, you know, if you really want to get a leg up in the industry, you got to find a mentor. Sounds like you are a mentor to many, many agents, many investors out there. So I applaud you for that. Anybody who is a mentor to other people I really appreciate them doing that makes the entire industry better. So. So this is a real estate investing podcast. So I want to kind of focus in on that side of things. You work with a lot of agents and they work with a lot of investors. From the agents perspective, from the brokerage perspective, what is it that an investor can do to to find, to kind of work with the broker to get to find the deals on market that they’re that they’re looking for?
Bill Bankonin 4:32
Well, I think what happens with a lot of people is I think there’s a lot of investors, a lot of people who own real estate, that probably have a piece of real estate that they really don’t want and I call those don’t want yours and what do you do with them? Maybe it’s maybe you bought a lake home and you have this extra lot next year that you’re going to expand on but you never did. Or maybe you own a lot in town that you thought you were gonna do something less or maybe you got a warehouse it’s just not able to keep for you. No So I always encourage agents to go out there and be able to look for situations like that, you know, and then it kind of gives you an opportunity because there’s always those investors out there who are always willing to say, you know, I’d rather have that lake lot than I would this duplex in Minneapolis as an example. You know, I mean, so that gives the opportunities for exchanges and, you know, transfer of collateral however you want to do it to get the deals done. And that’s kind of what I’ve always been under that way. I always try to look outside the box when it comes to investing in real estate because, you know, if you get creative and find the right people, there’s always somebody willing to look at something
Gabriel Petersen 5:38
nice. I love it. And do you invest in real estate yourself? Or, or is it mostly Are you mostly focused on the brokerage side?
Bill Bankonin 5:45
No, I have, over the years have invested in lots of different types of real estate, land apartments.
I’ve done flips
and done those to my kind of real estate that I have and all they also did some new construction. Develop but also at a property management side of it as well. And so we kind of made a niche in some of the areas of taking lots and some of these communities that were that were maybe a little bit blighted and put in some housing or mixed use into them. So we did new construction and did rental sort of.
Gabriel Petersen 6:19
Wow, so you have been all over the board when it comes to investing. I love that.
Bill Bankonin 6:23
A lot of time in city halls.
Gabriel Petersen 6:25
Yeah, I can only imagine. The one thing that really jumped out at me. I mean, this isn’t super useful to a lot of the listeners. So I apologize for taking the show this way. But you mentioned that you have invested in farmland and that is super unique. I’ve never heard of anyone doing that. But
Bill Bankonin 6:44
yeah, well I grew up on a farm and as I’ve gotten older, I knew that the apartments did involve a lot of time consuming time in terms of management because you have the month to month deal. And I found found one thing about farmland it’s fairly boring as you know, but Guess what there’s not a lot of management involved in so my dad Believe it or not was a he flipped farmland believer in farms and fix them up and he had a bunch of us boys in the farm so we had a lot of labor and we fix them up and he’d resell them and that’s kind of how I got started investing in real estate myself I started buying farmland and and of course during the days of no banks were reading mortgages back then we sold them on contracts and contract for deeds and many of these farms had four or five contracts one on top the
Gabriel Petersen 7:36
other woman column Wow, that is interesting. And so you you basically reposition farms does that. I mean, I don’t want to go too far into this this train of thought but I’m just so intrigued. So you reposition farmed. Did that include, like doing anything to the soil or was it mostly just you know, cleaning up the land itself, maybe fixing the farmhouse, fixing the barn Whatever it may be,
Bill Bankonin 8:01
yeah, we did everything most of the time some of these farmers were back then or they were just, you know, people were struggling to make it work and most of them pretty much like a house in town. Right. So we would take it in sometimes we could take some of the ground that was non fillable and turn it into productive ground. And I think we were really good at bringing, you know, better forms of my farming into the area because I was doing this in both Minnesota and sakoda as well.
Gabriel Petersen 8:30
Hmm. That is that is intriguing. So you’ve you’ve I mean, you’ve had a breadth of experience I love that out of all the different asset classes, asset types, which one has been both one the most lucrative for you and then the other, just the most enjoyable the one that you keep returning to because you like the process, whatever it may be.
Bill Bankonin 8:51
Well, you know, I guess I broke that down in several different categories. I think for me, I started out you know, investing like many do when I got moved up here to the Minneapolis area. That was I started out with a duplex, you know, and then from there, I went to a four Plex. And then they went to a six Plex. And I bought several, six plexes. And then they finally went to 10 and 12. And then I start constructing some of these as well, I, you know, for me, I learned that, you know, I love to have the least amount of management possible. So I went into new construction. So I went into, you know, one bedrooms that were, the tenants paid all the utilities that were electric, and, you know, they had their own water meters because I just wanted to have it so I had less and less bills. And, you know, so I really liked the apartment side of it. I did that for quite a while. I got into the farmland, I guess because you know, it’s kind of one of my first laws. I think if you grew up on a farm, I think you probably always will like it and another benefits of owning farmland over the course the recreational side with the hunting and fishing and whatever else associated with it. So being an outdoor guy. I mean, that was part of it. That was that was one side benefits of owning farm one.
Gabriel Petersen 9:57
Yeah, I mean, I grew up not on a farm. But next to a farm and I love I love being out in the country so I can see the appeal there flipping it though I’ve never heard of it. That is that is. That’s very intriguing. So I mean, it sounds like you I mean, obviously you’ve been through a whole bunch of type of asset classes and so it from start to finish all real estate deals they start with actually identifying and, and finding the deal when you are a broker. So you get properties on the actual market. What is the most effective way for you to actually go out and and find your next deal your new deal?
Bill Bankonin 10:35
Well, I think in today’s world, we’re in a little bit different deal. I think that residential real estate was a little bit ahead of the game when it came on the commercial side of it because they really did a good job with their websites and funding properties and really marketing and, you know, like a virtual tour now, you weren’t seeing very many virtual tours of real estate buildings until recently. And so I think that was kind of maybe what the difference was and A lot of times is finding the need. So one thing nice about like industrial or office warehouse is that there’s usually a company involved. So somebody owns something, you know, the end. And so I always tried to talk tenants into investing into real estate, and have the company that your you own, pay that mortgage or pay rent. So at the end of the day, you have another asset that’s paid for, and it was done. Instead of paying for rent, you’re obviously you’re paying yourself, and that asset could be worth 500,000 could be worth 5 million, you know, and so they add that for all the hard years of work. I thought that was really, really important. And I do the same thing with our agents. I’ve tried to have them take some of their commission money or their passive income money and start buying in just like I did, maybe buy that duplex, buy that, do that flip, get used to start doing that. And then over a period of time, you can start building some cash flow to allow you to be on the LLC get some tax benefits from the real estate owner. As well,
Gabriel Petersen 12:01
I love it. So you kind of mentor the agents that are under you to, to buy assets of their own.
Bill Bankonin 12:08
Oh, absolutely. I think it’s so important for them to get involved so they can, you know, if you haven’t picked up a paintbrush or a hammer or had to fix something, it’s kind of hard to do it and I think a lot of young people today, especially buyers in the residential side, I mean walk into a place if it’s not all ready to go, they just don’t have the vision to realize that hey, I can get along and I can put in carpet and paint I can clean this place up and and so I think for those agents that recognize that they can go a long way. So I know at the apartment buildings I bought a you know, I most of them just needed to be cleaned up, you know, exterior interior, so carpet paint, a lot of times soffit and facia and, you know, put on gutters, make it nice so people could enjoy living there, you know, making make them proud about living there and then I just didn’t have to turn over
Gabriel Petersen 13:00
Yep, absolutely. And I mean, that is where the where the value is added is buying those properties that don’t look nice that other people don’t want and then and then go ahead and you know, putting that sweat equity into it, making them look, you know, like new and and and capturing that equity on the back end. So I love that aspect of it as well. So again, you’ve been through a whole bunch in your, in your, your career you have you know, we all know that real estate, it’s a roller coaster, you got ups, you got downs, you said to yourself, you’ve been through decades of ups and downs in the market. I like to hear about from guests experiences. You know, we all have that lowest point in real estate. But then on the flip side, we have great lessons that we learned from them. Take us to one of the lowest experiences that you’ve had in your real estate career and what was the what was the, you know, the the lesson that you learned, coming out of that one
Bill Bankonin 13:54
thing during a recession, we had put together a lot of real estate partnerships and when we made the mistake In the financing side to be cross collateralized. So that means, in other words, if one of the properties had an issue, the bank had the ability to make them all have issues. So it’s a bad bad deal when you walk into the bank and just start handing over keys or properties that cash flow. And so we saw quite a bit of that. And during that time, of course, I’ve also saw it where I was, I remember a day where I was selling a farm and and this was during the during the time when there was protests leaving farmers because the banks were foreclosing on everybody. And I had show up to sell a farm at a public auction and everybody’s wearing red they had a red bandana back then to show support, nobody would bid because they didn’t want the farm to sell. So So I’ve seen all kinds of different things but I you know, it’d be important not to cross Glen rice properties if you can. That’s a big No, no, I learned a lesson the hard way in that area there. So and I never go back. I can always go back I can look and say I wish I would have could have but you know, you’ve just got to look forward because it’s their lessons learned that’s that’s all most people who are really really good at this they have to fail and you’re gonna you know if you don’t fail you’re good for you but most people fail in certain areas and I failed many times I don’t claim to know at all I continue to learn so even at my age I continue to take all the classes I can regarding help and in different ways to do transactions so I belong to a couple of national organizations. These are investors like myself and brokers like myself who put together deals that have sometimes had four or five legs to them you know, so you always had to get the next one deal because number a buyer had to take care of the C buyers dilemma and and in some of these deals take a year or two years to get them done, but usually they’re well worth it, but you should learn a lot.
Gabriel Petersen 15:55
Yeah, for sure. And I mean that I mean, that is why I love asking the question is because The best lessons that come out of your biggest failures. And I know that’s, that’s true for myself as well. And so, I do I love hearing those, those lessons that people learn through those hard experiences. So you did mention you said, one of the biggest lessons that you learned is not to cross collateralize I’ve actually been, I’ve been some mentors of mine had thought that that was actually a good strategy in order to expand your portfolio faster. So you do not think that you should be cross collateralizing your property at all?
Bill Bankonin 16:31
Let me clarify that so yeah, there’s one way to do it. Number one is if you can cross collateralized surely taken under property if you got a lot of equity to buy another property. However, if they’re connected, if something goes wrong with one of them, you know, they tightened up the banking so much back then that you know that if one fell out of favor, they had the rights to take them all. So that included there went all the equity there went to performing assets as well. That was really kind of a tough pill to swallow. But you know, we had And that’s what we had to do to make things work back then. And so I learned that lesson I also learned another lesson I will tell you about as well, because when things were going really well, you know, we built, we built the strip mall, and we had a 50% lease as soon as we got to 50% leased, we would go on to the next building a new construction. And then when the, when the market changed relatively quick, the 50% lease part all went away. So now you’re sitting with, you know, a large building that’s empty with no tenants and you know, so that we learned a lesson as well. And I’ve seen the big companies do that as well. I mean, the great big companies and national companies do the same thing. I mean, I was I mean, we were renting space among the buildings up here that was owned by a company out of Dallas and when they got them half full, they were just build another one. And that that for a while that worked, but all of a sudden it came to a screeching halt and, you know, so kind of learned their lesson that arena as well.
Gabriel Petersen 17:55
mitigate the risks that is that is absolutely true. Okay, so that’s you’ve taken us to the kind of the trough of your experience and the lessons you learn through that. So now kind of take us to the peak, you know, you’ve been in real estate for 40 plus years that is a that is a long time spans a lot of a lot of decades. So you gotta like it for some reason, or else you wouldn’t be at 40 plus years. What gets you out of bed? Why do you keep coming back to it every day.
Bill Bankonin 18:26
You know, if somebody sits down with me, and they’re excited about doing deals in real estate, it just gets the juices flowing. I’m I guess I’m a deal junkie. So what I’m going to say, I just love doing the I like seeing things happen. I like trying to try to get creative to make things happen. And you know, in the market I’m in right now I do a lot of mergers and acquisitions with real estate companies. And a lot of times, the broker owners their own their real estate. And so when a person is coming in and acquiring a property, property, what do we do with that building and how does that work? workout and, you know, and so to me, it’s fun to see what I can do with them. I really enjoy finding i like i like that hard property that really, they just can’t find a buyer with and you know, and if I find out what the seller would rather have, I’ve seen exchanges from everything from boats to helicopters to playing. Like lots you name it. I’ve seen all that happen, and it’s really a kind of a fun way to get things done.
Gabriel Petersen 19:29
That’s cool. I love it. Yeah. And that’s, I mean, I’ve asked that question a lot of times and that’s what a lot of people say is that they love real estate because they love solving problems. And real estate is the essence of just solving problems one after the other stuff. Yeah,
Bill Bankonin 19:41
that’s exactly right. I think the very first hotel transaction I did, I was I was flabbergasted because the buyers came in with earnest money they want to bring in gems, so golden gems and of course I didn’t have any experience. Well how what that was doing and I didn’t you know, so I had to call her to kind of find out if this was legitimate, can I take that as collateral for earnest money?
Gabriel Petersen 20:04
You know, that’s hilarious. They brought gems. That’s great. I mean, hey, if it has value, it has value, right?
Bill Bankonin 20:11
Yeah. Isn’t that the truth?
Gabriel Petersen 20:14
That’s, that’s hilarious. All right. So I mean, 40 years of experience, let’s think about, you know, the bill 40 years ago, what was that today’s 2020. So that was in 1980. Take Take us back to Bill back in 1980. If you could go back to that bill and say, Hey, man, this is this is the one thing that you need to do the one piece of advice you need to follow going forward to make sure that you have a good career. What is that one piece of advice you’d give yourself?
Bill Bankonin 20:45
You know, I think the biggest thing that I always was willing to do was I was very good at networking and always making phone calls. And so so I was always may be involved in you know, a lot of different groups and organizations just like you guys are there. I always was willing to make phone calls to ask people to say yes, and find out if they were looking and all that. So I always say if you got a, I call it your probably your dirty dozen, whatever, you always get about 12 to 20 people that, you know, take them to lunch once a month and kind of share ideas from what’s working and I always got referrals out of that. So I was I was kind of willing to dial for dollars until I got a deal going that day. And and that work ethic really seemed to get me through all the times.
Gabriel Petersen 21:27
Nice. So just just keep grinding at the at the networking, keep making new connections, eventually, something’s gonna pan out.
Bill Bankonin 21:35
Yeah, I think one of the biggest things a lot of people, you know, when they get involved in this business, they the forum’s really your friend, you know, and you know, and so you always got to have that you got to have that group around you and you always got to be willing to reach out and so I spent a lot of time in, you know, just stopping and talking to people at other real estate companies and bank offices and title and mortgage companies and you know, if I saw something adding on to a warehouse or something like that. I just went in here asked what’s going on, you know, to kind of find out what’s going on. And then they kind of start recognizing you. So I think that’s so important to be involved your community.
Gabriel Petersen 22:12
I love it. Yeah, that actually that happened to us, me and a partner one time we were doing a flip. And then another guy to down to two houses down the road, started to flip himself. And so we just went down there, you know, we said, Hey, what’s going on? How you doing? Blah, blah, blah. And it turns out, he sold us our next flip. So you know, you never know where they’re going to come from. It’s always you know, things just pop up. You just got to keep shaking hands saying hi to people and being open and that’s kind of how real estate works in itself. Yeah,
Bill Bankonin 22:44
the very first deals probably the hardest, you know, you know, I remember going to closing on that first apartment I was doing and I was so nervous because I was worried about tenants calling me at night and all that and really, I had no issues. It was such a well run building that you know, But the tenants never call you when they had a problem. They just fixed up themselves. And I was so nervous. And finally, I think if you just jump in with both feet and you really engage in what jam I think you’ll do real well, but a lot of people are afraid to take that leap of faith.
Gabriel Petersen 23:16
Yeah, that’s for sure. That was me. I my first deal i did was a triplex with a friend. And I was, I mean, if you could worry about it, I worried about it. I it was the doorknobs, the handles, you know, whatever it was, if it could go wrong, I thought it was gonna be the end of the world. So you just gotta you got to jump in and just just close your eyes and have faith that it’s gonna work out in the end. That’s that’s absolutely true. So, Bill, we try to keep this to around 30 minutes. So we are in you know, we’re closing out on the end here. You’ve given us a ton of things to work out some a ton of wisdom from your own career. We’d like to give something in return. If somebody’s listening or watching were to bring you something What would you want to receive?
Bill Bankonin 23:59
Well Looking for people to work with. I enjoy coaching and mentoring agents that are interested in investing in real estate or owning their own company or I just enjoy that I enjoy seeing people who write their first deals, who just who just passed a real estate license, who, who just sold their first property to me, I met that pay it forward part of my career. So, you know, I’m just anybody that’s interested in pursuing a career and really want to invest in real estate. I really enjoy that.
Gabriel Petersen 24:31
I love it. So on that note, if somebody wanted to get in contact with you With you, what would be the best way for them to do that?
Bill Bankonin 24:38
Well, there’s a couple different ways one, you can just text my real name, which is Willard wi Ll er d 285377. And you’ll get my mobile business card. Otherwise my cell phone is 612-414-4022 and my website is accessibility Upper midwest.com.
Gabriel Petersen 25:01
Perfect. Well bill again I know I can speak for everybody listening and watching I really appreciate you having on here sharing all your wisdom. If anybody listening watching wants to get in contact with Bill, he just sent you his his phone number. I will also put his LinkedIn in the show notes. So if you want to get in contact with them, you can go there. Other than that, I thank you again for coming on and for everybody watching. We look forward to seeing you on the next episode.
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In this episode I interview Bill Pankonin, regional owner at EXIT Realty for the Upper Midwest market of Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Join us today as we learn about Bill’s tremendous career in real estate investing from flipping farms (yeah, you heard that right!) to today where he invests all across the upper Midwest. Bill has some amazing experience as both a real estate broker and a real estate investor, so you definitely won’t be disappointed!
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ABOUT THE GUEST
Bill Pankonin is EXIT Realty Upper Midwest Regional Owner, which includes Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Illinois.
BIll was recently awarded the prestigious International Ambassador of the Year at the 2019 EXIT Realty Convention at Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tennessee.
Bill also received accolades for #2 in the nation in franchise sales.
Bill Pankonin’s EXIT Realty Upper Midwest was named International Region of the Year for the second time at EXIT Realty Corp. International’s 2018 Annual Convention held recently at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Washington, DC.
“Bill Pankonin is a leaders’ leader,” said Tami Bonnell, CEO, EXIT Realty Corp. International. “He is constantly growing, both personally and professionally, and he inspires his brokers and agents by the example he sets. Bill is an excellent representative for EXIT Realty in the Upper Midwest and it is a pleasure to present him with this award.”
In 2018 Bill acquired the rights to Illinois. With EXIT’s phenomenal growth in the Upper Midwest Wisconsin is a natural fit for the momentum that Bill has created in his Regions.
Bill was awarded at EXIT Realty International’s Convention in 2016 and 2017 # 2 in franchise sales in the nation.
In 2016 Bill acquired the franchise rights to Wisconsin. In one year office count in WI was doubled.
In 2014 Bill was awarded and recognized with one of the most prestigious honors in receiving the International Region of The Year at EXIT Realty’s Convention held at Disneyland Hotel in CA. “ Well-deserved for all your hard work and dedication, “said Tami Bonnell EXIT’s CEO. “He is a true leader and sets a great example for those around him.”
In 2012, Bill was recognized with the Attitude in Action Award at EXIT Realty’s International Convention held in Nashville, Tennessee. “Bill is a purposeful businessman who stands his ground firmly and has a keen sense of direction,” said Steve Morris, EXIT’s Founder and Chairman. “He has a positive mental attitude and radiates this to everyone around him. He exemplifies EXIT by knowing how to get the job done and by maintaining an excellent reputation in the process.”
Want to connect with Bill? Reach out on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/billpankonin/
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Topics you’ll learn more about throughout our episodes:
– Using the BRRR strategy to buy income properties
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– How to do out of state investing without risking your shirt in the process
– Going from broke to 300+ deals in a month (really!)
– Investing in commercial real estate
– Stories about brand-new investors and the lesson’s they’re learning as they take on their very first flips and rentals
– How to use Google Ads and Facebook Ads to crush it in off market real estate marketing
– How to fill your pipeline with off market deals using direct mail, voiceless mail drops, and text blasting