WS200: Financial Freedom Through Commercial Real Estate with Tim Bratz

RES 200 | Financial Freedom

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People say if you want to make money, get involved in real estate. That’s what motivated 21-year-old Tim Bratz to get involved in real estate back in 2003. Tim is now the CEO and Founder of CLE Turnkey Real Estate, a real estate investment company that acquires and transforms distressed apartment buildings into high-yield assets for their own portfolio. He shares how he shifted from renovating residential houses to renovating apartments after realizing that’s where the majority of his net worth came from. Whether you’re looking to create residual income, achieve financial freedom, or give your apartment building portfolio a boost, this episode is going to give you a lot of value as Tim gets into syndicating deals, managing large rehabs, raising equity, the criteria for buying a property, and more.

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Financial Freedom Through Commercial Real Estate with Tim Bratz

Our guest is Tim Bratz. Thanks for being on the show, Tim.

Whitney, I’m excited to be here. Thank you for having me.

It’s a pleasure to meet you in Tampa a while back. It’s a pleasure to share the same stage as well. I was honored to be speaking on the same stage as somebody like yourself. Tim is the CEO and Founder of CLE Turnkey Real Estate, a real estate investment company that acquires and transforms distressed apartment buildings into high-yield assets for their own portfolio. He’s built a passive business through real estate and created a residential income that allows him to live the lifestyle of his choice. He’s here to educate and empower others to become financially free through commercial real estate. He has $180-million portfolio consisting of over 2,000 rental units. Tim, thanks for your time and being on the show. Give the audience a little more about who you are and what your focus is in real estate.

I appreciate you for having me. I appreciate all the value that you bring to the table. I’m 33 years old. I went through college when the market was going gangbusters last time. In ’03 to ’07, I got involved with real estate and people said, “If you want to make money, get involved in real estate.” That’s what motivated a 21-year-old kid back then. My brother lived out in New York City. I went out there. I became a commercial real estate agent representing landlords and businesses, finding spots. I brokered my first lease out there that was 400 square feet. We signed a $10,000 a month lease agreement on 400 square feet with 4% annual escalation and a twelve-year term.

I realized pretty quickly I was on the wrong side of the coin. I needed to be owning rental property instead of brokering it. You start reading all those books on personal development and real estate, all these different things. I realized that I love the concept of residual income and doing something one time and getting paid on it over and over again. Obviously passive income, doing something, being hands off and having their business that was passive or an asset that passively created income on a regular basis. I love that but a lot of us get into real estate for that allure. We get jammed up and stuck in that rat race of transactional deals.

We go start flipping houses or wholesaling houses. I was doing a lot of that. I’ve gotten involved in the turnkey business where I buy a single-family house, fixed it up, package it with tenant management and sell it off to somebody who wanted to own real estate passively. A couple of years ago, I looked at my portfolio, where was I making my money and where was I spending my time? 90% of my wealth came from my apartment buildings that I was pretty much passively invested in. It was about 10% of my time. I pivoted my entire residential investment team into apartments. We went from about 400 units a couple of years ago to a little over 2,100 units now.

I hear so often about people that get into real estate and they develop a flipping business or something about wholesaling. They’re creating another job. Eventually it seems as they get into multifamily, they’re like, “Why didn’t I start this a long time ago?” You realized that your wealth was coming from your passive investments in multifamily, is that right?

[bctt tweet=”The most likely people to invest with you are the people who have already invested with you.” via=”no”]

Yeah. Majority of my wealth was being created in my holdings versus this transactional. If I went and sold something, I keep the lights on, put some food on the table. I have to go do it again in order to get paid again. We’re in real estate, so some of that is the actual cash that was coming in from these and some of it was in equity in the project itself. The reality is my net worth, what was making me wealthy was all from my apartment building portfolio. That’s where the majority of the net worth came from. That’s where I wanted to focus on. The transactional stuff is cool. You can have a good lifestyle. You can get rich doing that but you can’t build wealth doing that.

That was the thing that was taking the least amount of your time.

I raised some equity, raised some capital for some joint venture partners and helped sponsor some of those loans and got involved in some of my own projects as well. I’m out of Cleveland, Ohio but I invested in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, a couple of other areas. I took a look at what we were doing. I pivoted my team. I took my residential team. I took my acquisitions guy. I told him to stop looking at houses and only look at apartment buildings. I took my project manager instead of renovating houses, we’re going to only renovate apartments. My dispositions guy who was selling our houses, I said, “Instead of selling houses, you’re going to be managing the management company, managing our assets.”

It was a big mindset shift. It was only a minor pivot for my business itself. It’s catapulted us. It’s a quantum leap of where we were months ago to where we are now and the opportunities that are coming up. I’m at 2,100 units. I have another 1,100 under contract right now. We got a signed LOI and another 360 unit. I’m looking at the 500-unit portfolio. It’s pretty remarkable when you make that commitment to the universe, how the universe responds and says, “I want to encourage you and reward you for drawing a line in the sand and burning the ships.”

You mentioned that it was a small shift. To me it sounded like you all have a business, you have these systems in place and all of a sudden you said, “We’re cutting this off. We’re shifting. We’re doing this over here now.” To me, that would seem like a big deal with other people that are involved and other employees. I like the mindset where you said, “No, it’s a small shift. Now, we’re taken off in a new direction.”

It’s been great. It’s been phenomenal. I wish I would have done it sooner.

I’d like for you to explain a little bit about how you are syndicating deals because it’s different than any model that I’ve heard before or any guests that I’ve had on the show even. I’d love to know a little bit more about how you’re structuring these deals and your syndication process in business.

RES 200 | Financial Freedom
Financial Freedom: It’s remarkable when you make that commitment to the universe how the universe responds and says, “I want to encourage and reward you for drawing a line in the sand and burning the ships.”

My model is a little bit different. First of all, I’ve never been to a course or a seminar or read a book or anything before I came up with this. I’m friends with some of the big syndicators in the country. I’ve met them through some different networking panels, discussions and things like that. I came up with this on my own. It’s what made sense for my investors, what made sense for me and the different types of projects that we were investing in. I call it Bratz Syndication. It’s going to be a thing. What I do is I look for value-add properties. This all stemmed out of the residential realm. I’m a residential guy by how I got started. What we would do in the residential realm is you try to find a house that you can buy and renovate with holding costs and be all in for 65% of the stabilized value.

I figured when I’m buying apartment buildings, why don’t I follow that same method? I see a lot of people in commercial real estate buying things like retail prices. For me that never made sense. I’m always an investor. I’m always looking for a discount at a wholesale price. For me, I only buy apartment buildings where I can be all in. Instead of talking about a house that’s worth $100,000, you’ve got to be all in for $65,000. I’m looking at $10 million building. I need to be all in for $6.5 million. How do you get those kinds of deals? One, you’ve got to find usually distressed assets. It’s usually physically distressed or from a management perspective distressed or some motivated seller in some capacity. We’re able to come in, buy those, renovate them and force that appreciation by all the sweat equity that we put into these things.

Because we can force the appreciation so much in a very short period of time, I turned around and refinanced my properties in twelve to eighteen months on average. I buy it, renovate it, stabilize it with good tenants and good management and we turn around and slap long-term debt on it. We go and get an agency loan at 75%. On a $10 million deal, they’ll give me $7.5 million. That allows me to pay off my equity investors and my bridge loan, my construction loan of $6.5 million, my all-in price. That leaves me with a spread of $1 million of non-taxable refinance proceeds. I’m able to get my investors out that quickly and I could stabilize property in a very predictable amount of time, I’m able to then project how much I’m going to spend on debt service if I pay them as if it’s either debt or a fixed pref. I pay my investors at 10% pref. I know that if I’m going to borrow $1.5 million over the course of twelve months, it’s going to cost me $150,000. I add that into the basis of my property. I buy it and renovate it. I’m making payments regardless of the property’s performance to my investors.

My investors are happy because they know that they could see the money coming in on a quarterly basis into their bank account. When I turn around and refinance, I keep 90% of the deal. I pay 10% of the equity to my investors in perpetuity. They made a good return on their investment while it was in play for twelve, eighteen months. They get all their money back. They get 10% of the refi proceeds so another $100,000 that boost their IRR to closer to 20%, 25% almost. They get 10% of all the cashflow in perpetuity and 10% of any future sales proceeds. They come right back to me and say, “Tim, let’s roll it into another deal.” I’m able to give them a little bit more velocity on their capital than they can in a traditional syndicate. It allows me not to have to raise money every five years. I can raise money one time and rotate through that same amount of equity every 24 months. I use the same equity investors in many more deals. I can take down more deals because of it. It’s a lot more work on my team and on me because we’re taking on these heavier value ads.

Our background, our risk tolerance, our business acumen and our project management, what our skill sets, our unique abilities are, it makes a lot of sense for that. You’ve got to find awesome deals. Most of our deals are off-market direct to seller deals. We very rarely buy through brokers. Number two is you’ve got to have a badass project manager in place. People who know how to renovate a property and run crews. I have one deal that we’re spending $10 million in CapEx over the course of about fifteen months. You’re talking about $600,000, $700,000 a month that we’re putting into these things. That’s one of my projects.

There’s a lot of heavy value add in there. It makes sense. I don’t take an acquisition fee. I don’t take any asset management fee. I only get paid when the property refinances. When the property refinances, that’s when our investors get all their money back. We’re in the same boat, rowing in the same direction and visions and goals are aligned. I’m not taking away from anybody who traditionally syndicates. Traditional syndication, there are incongruent goals and objectives for both the syndicator and the investor. The way that I’ve framed it has worked well for what I’m doing. My investors seemed to love it too.

It sounds like you are able to take what you were doing on a turnkey level with single-family and amp it up to doing multifamily. Grow into the syndication business but keep almost the same model a little bit but at a much larger scale. Your plan is to flip these properties every 18 to 24 months. You continue to hold them, correct?

[bctt tweet=”If you cannot measure your business, you cannot manage your business.” via=”no”]

We hold. I don’t sell anything. I see a lot of syndicators who have the idea of exiting a property in three, five, seven years. For me, that’s transactional income. That’s a job. You’ve got to go do it again. For me, I want to build legacy wealth. I want to do something once. We put so much work on the frontend, why would you ever want to sell that in 24 months? I don’t want to do that. I’d rather refinance it, take as much money off the table tax-free anyway and then sit on this thing for the next ten, twelve years. Ten, twelve years from now, I’ll make a decision on where the market is, where the economy is, what’s going on with that property itself. I could probably refinance again, pull out more tax-free money and sit on this thing for another ten years because I’ve already done all the big fixes. I’ve already done the roof, the windows, the electric, the plumbing, parking lot, all those 20-year, 25-year, 30-year fixes have already been done. I have some options. It creates a very predictable cashflow for us as well once these things are stabilized.

How are you able to manage such large rehabs in so many different places all over the country?

I have a lot of joint venture partners. Now that there’s more juice in the squeeze for the operator on these deals, I have a team up in Cleveland, Ohio, so I typically own 75%, 80%, 90% of my deals in Cleveland. My team is up here and can handle all that stuff. Anything that’s in South Carolina, Georgia, Texas or Oklahoma, I have joint venture partners in those markets. They get a piece of the equity as well for overseeing the project management and being our boots on the ground. It’s cool for them where they can have a good chunk of the deal without having to worry about sponsoring the loan, raising the equity or some of these other things. I see a lot of syndicators they think they have to be Superman or Wonder Woman and be able to do every aspect of the deal. The way that I’ve structured it has allowed me to focus on my unique ability, which is raising equity. Partner up with people who are phenomenal project managers, property managers, deal sources, and I can pay them better than what anybody else in the industry can pay them because of the way that I structured my projects.

Can you give us a couple of pointers on how you’re able to find so many great deals off-market direct to the seller?

The same way I found deals on the residential realm. You can do a couple of things. One, you can drive for dollars. Let’s get in your car, drive around. Just like there are houses with boarded up windows and tall grass, there are buildings with boarded up windows and tall grass. You can also dial for dollars. You can call for sale by owners in the residential realm. You can call for sale by owners in the commercial realm. We also call for rent by owners. We’re calling them and saying, “We’re not interested in renting your property, but we’re interested in potentially buying it. Do you have any interest in selling?”

Building relationships with property management companies and to vendors too. Our vendors send us a lot of deals. Our exterminator knows all the bug-ridden properties all around town. Our coin-operated laundry service provider knows all the different landlords and has introduced us to a bunch of different people. You can do direct mail as you do in the residential realm. You see these postcards and stuff going around. There’s a whole bunch of different ideas and strategies. It’s getting out there. It’s doing the stuff that other people aren’t willing to do in order to find the deals that other people can’t find.

It’s helpful to have the JV partners in those areas I’m sure. They can be doing the drive-bys and looking for a property.

RES 200 | Financial Freedom
Financial Freedom: It’s getting out there and doing the stuff that other people aren’t willing to do that helps you find the deals that other people can’t find.

That’s the other thing because I can give them 3%, 5%, 10% of the deal even for finding it without even having to do anything. I can give them a little piece of equity in the project. There’s enough juice to squeeze for them where now they can send over deals. I have this army of people who are always looking for opportunities for us.

You said raising equity was one of your specialties. What are a couple of things that’s worked well or helped you boost your equity-raising portion side of your business?

It’s more of a mental thing than anything else. A lot of people want to know what’s the tactical strategy. For me, it was more of a mindset shift. Looking at it from an investor standpoint, what are investors looking at when you present a deal? One is the asset, probably the least important of these three things. Number one is the asset. Where is it? What kind of asset is it? Is it performing, not performing, all that stuff? Number two is the return. That’s important. Is the reward worth the risk of investing in this project? What other types of investments are available compared to this because I could leave the money in the stock market. I can invest in this project. I can invest in a real estate trust.

You have to make it juicier than a lot of those other investments but also have a lower perceived risk. The return is number two. Number three, which is the most important of all these things that investors asking themselves when they’re looking at a deal that you’re presenting is about the character of the borrower. They’re asking themselves, “Does this person have the fortitude to repay me my money?” If you’re not conveying a conviction that you will go and work third shift at Taco Bell, should the economy fall apart and markets shift and everything crumble to make sure that they make their money back? If you are not conveying that message to your investors, you’re probably going to have a tough time raising capital. That was a big shift.

The other thing is some people say, “Go fund a deal and then you’ll raise the money.” Other people say, “Go raise the money and then go look for a deal.” For me, I’m always doing both of those things. Those are the two most important things you can be doing at any given time is always looking for deals, always looking for money. Sometimes there’s a lot of money, sometimes there are a lot of deals. It’s very rarely you have both of those at the same time though. I’m always planting seeds, looking for opportunities and looking for deals. Every conversation, I’m very intentional about talking to people about their opportunities to invest, raise money for projects, partner up on projects and come in as an equity investor in projects.

When you don’t need the money is the easiest time to raise the money, you’ve heard of that before. I see a lot of people who go to this hunting strategy and raising private money. When you hunt, the prey runs away. You don’t want a hunting mentality. You want a fishing mentality. You put the lure in the water, let people know what you do, how you do it, how they can get paid, how they can participate, how they could partner up, what the tax benefits are, all those different things. It’s more of an educational piece. It’s putting all those lures in the water.

Eventually, when the timing is right, somebody will bite. They’ll be like, “Are you still doing that? I’m interested. I sold my business. I launched my product. I sold this other property. I’m interested in investing. I moved my 401(k) and I put it in a self-directed vehicle.” It’s a lot about timing. It’s less about what you say and how you say it. It’s more about timing and having that conviction that you will get them their money back regardless of what happens to the economy. That’s some of the shifts that I’ve been making and some of the things that we’ve done in order to be a little posture up with our investors, talk with them, educate them and let them know what we have available.

[bctt tweet=”The two most important things you can be doing at any given time is always looking for deals and always looking for money.” via=”no”]

Tell us your buying criteria. If you’re looking for a property, what are the things that have to meet?

I buy in A and B class areas only. Obviously, when you’re growing and you’re getting started, you need to get enough assets in your portfolio to build your balance sheets. Sometimes we go into C class areas. I don’t go to C class areas. I only buy A and B class areas. I’ll buy a C class building or a D class building even, or we’ll even do new construction in some of those areas. I don’t do luxury. I stay in A and B class areas. It’s workforce housing. When the economy’s good, everybody can afford that. When the economy shifts, all those luxury renters moving to more workforce type housing. That’s my bread and butter. That’s the only thing that we invest in. Apartment buildings are the only asset class we invest in also. I own some office buildings and stuff too but I’m not actively growing that or looking at any other asset classes, just apartments right now.

If it’s in Cleveland, Ohio, which is where I am, will buy anything that’s ten units or bigger. We own a management company. We’ll do any size property up here. If it’s out of state, we typically want about 75 units or bigger. That allows us to put onsite property managers and onsite staff personnel, and all that stuff. Our stabilized cap rate, we have to be all in at a stabilized cap, at our cost basis. It needs to be at least 10%. A lot of people are like, “What? How are you finding 10% cap rates in A and B class areas? You’re better off finding a unicorn.” Here’s the thing, I have 2,100 units. Every single one of them is between 10% to 17% cap rate at my cost basis. I’ve acquired all of them in the past years. It gives you an idea. I promise you there are deals out there.

A lot of people tell themselves these stories that there are no deals out there. The reality is there are deals all over the place. The problem is you’re talking to brokers. As much as I appreciate and respect brokers, you have to understand their mindset. A broker doesn’t have to put a property on the market. They can sit on a pocket listing for as long as they want. That way they can earn both sides of the commission. That broker knows the top twenty buyers in town. They’re shopping into the top twenty buyers in town. The property doesn’t hit the market on LoopNet or the MLS or whatever until the top twenty buyers in town all said no to it.

You have to understand the stuff that you’re seeing if you’re working only through broker relationships are usually junk deals that the top twenty people in town already said no to. Why would you go and try to buy something like that? We don’t even mess around. We usually are off-market, direct to the seller. Until you get to a point where you are one of those top twenty buyers in town, you get to see that property before anybody else does. To me, it doesn’t make much sense working through a broker. Hopefully, that helps.

What’s been the hardest part of the syndication business or process for you?

Early on it was balancing out the money with the deal flow, scrambling and learning. I had a deal and I was raising $4 million on it. The investor was bringing money from another deal that didn’t end up closing and told me the Friday before Monday closing on my project. I had to raise $4 million in 48 hours. I got it done. It was a learning curve. There are other things that you end up putting in place to make sure that stuff doesn’t happen anymore. Probably the biggest expense to us was not doing enough due diligence on the front end, physical due diligence on these properties.

RES 200 | Financial Freedom
Financial Freedom: Just because you have access to equity and access to capital doesn’t mean you should buy a deal. Make sure the numbers make sense.

I’m in Cleveland, Ohio, so the average apartment building here is 100 years old. The plumbing usually crumbles by that point. We weren’t scoping a lot of the lines and some stuff like that. Also buying in C class areas, trying to force deals because I had access to money, I didn’t have enough deals. I’m going back to all those things. Now we have a very dialed-in due diligence process. We scope every single line. I probably spend $10,000 on every property before on physical due diligence, not even talking about syndication, putting the SEC docs together and putting a purchase agreement together or anything like that. On the physical due diligence, it’s between $5,000 to $10,000 across every single property that we do. We pay contractors to come out. The contractors look at roofs. We pay contractors to check the foundation. We’re doing all that stuff, scoping every single plumbing line. You get punched in the teeth enough times. You learn your lesson. It’s helped us refine that process. You run through a couple of those and you learn your lesson. You dial it in. Make sure that you don’t cross that bridge again.

The other thing was forcing deals. Do not force deals. Everybody wants to be a real estate investor. Everybody wants to buy apartment buildings. That’s a cool topic right now. Everybody’s trying to make the numbers work. You don’t make the numbers work. The numbers are what they are. If you force a deal, you will lose money. Just because you have access to equity, access to capital, it doesn’t mean you should buy a deal. Make sure the numbers make sense. My team, my staff, my acquisitions department, I tell them to kill every single deal. If you cannot kill that deal, that means it is a deal. You move forward with it. Do not try to force a deal. As much wealth as you can build in buying apartment buildings, it can take you out of the knees and crumble you if you do the wrong deal. You’ve got to be careful in that stuff.

Don’t force the deal. If it doesn’t work, don’t think it’s going to. What’s one thing that helped you raise $4 million in 48 hours?

It’s a lot of work. Here’s what I learned about private money is the most likely people are to invest with you are people who have already invested with you. Meaning if you’re not touching your private money lenders every 30 days, talking to them, seeing what they’ve got going on and seeing if they have more money, come and let them know about deals you have in the pipeline, those would be the easiest people. You’ve already surpassed that major threshold, that major hurdle of the character of the borrower. Now they trust you. Now they respect you. Now they can come in and do more deals with you. That was one of them. There were some people who came to the table with a significant amount of money that I only did a small deal with before.

There was one guy who came to the table with $1.5 million out of the $4 million. I had only done a couple of small deals, $40,000, $160,000 and a $200,000 deal. I did three of them, I paid him in full, I paid him on time, I’ve built good rapport with him. When it was time where I needed him to come to the table and help me out, he was able to do that and he was willing to do that by having a good reputation with him. You’ve got to build those relationships, take small loans, do a lot of small deals with a lot of investors so they build that comfortability with you. When it comes a time where you’ve got to go and raise $200,000 or $500,000 for a deal, if they have the capacity to do that, they will bring it to the table by having a preexisting relationship with you.

The relationship is so important. What’s some way that you’ve improved your business that we can apply to ours?

It’s a checklist for everything. Trying to make it so simple for everybody involved, for your investors to understand it, for your team to understand it, for your contractors to understand it, for your joint venture partners to understand it. Setting proper expectations and then having checklists in place of what everybody’s job is, what everybody’s role is, what they’re supposed to be doing on a daily, weekly, monthly schedule. When there are checklists and metrics in place, then you can measure your business. If you cannot measure your business, you cannot manage your business. You have to have key performance indicators in place to be sure that you can manage your business properly.

[bctt tweet=”When you don’t need the money is the easiest time to raise the money.” via=”no”]

Figuring out for each role of every person on your team, joint venture partners, in-house employees, all the way down to your maintenance staff, making sure you have KPIs in place for everybody. You measure their progress on a daily, weekly, monthly basis allows you to then hop on a phone call for ten minutes every morning and say, “What are your numbers? Great, that’s good.” I don’t care if they’re up or down on day by day, but I’m marking it in my book that if they’re down for three, four, five, seven days in a row, it’s time to step in and say, “What’s going on? How can we improve this? How can we get better?” If numbers are great and you guys are doing awesome, I appreciate to go back to hanging out with my four-year-old, my two-year-old.

It allows you to act fast also. By day four, day seven, you can already act and you’re not waiting a month later when you notice this big problem.

Think about a month. A month is almost 10% of the year. That means you lost out on 10% of the property’s performance. If you wait until the end of the month when the statements come out, you’ve got to be looking at this stuff on a daily, weekly basis or at least having somebody on your team look at it on a daily, weekly basis. You cannot wait that long in order to take action. If you wait 30 days for the report to come out, this could be another week or two weeks until that actual progress strategy and improvement plan are put into place. You’re talking about six, seven weeks down the road and 15% of a year is gone. You’ve got to pay attention to that stuff. You’ve got to be proactive. You set very high expectations. If they fall short, no problem because you set expectations for this. It’s better than setting expectations down here and they still fall short.

What’s been the number one thing that’s contributed to your success, Tim?

It’s a mindset. I do some coaching. I teach people how to scale up from buying single-family, flipping houses, start building that portfolio and how to do it in a big way. A lot of syndicators and stuff. One of the things that I always come across is people are so fearful of what could happen, what could go wrong, ‘”I could lose all my money. I could lose all my investors’ money. I could ruin my credit. I could go bankrupt. A contractor might burn me. The property manager might leave in the middle of the month.” Those are serious “what ifs?” Those are absolutely concerns. I don’t think they’re the right what ifs. What if you bought an apartment building and you got rich? What if you bought an apartment building and you got wealthy? What if you bought an apartment building or a series of apartment buildings, a portfolio of apartment buildings, and you build a financial wall around your family that nothing could ever penetrate.

What if you built legacy wealth that many people down the generational ladder can look back and say, “Because Great Grandpa Whitney bought a bunch of apartment buildings, it changed our family’s financial tree forever. Now we’re able to give back. Now we’re able to do more. Now we’re able to give more, be more and make a difference in the world, make a bigger impact in the world.” That’s the stuff that I focus on. Take into account those inherent risks of owning assets, properties and managing these things. That’s why I hire people to make sure my downside risk is minimized. I try not to think about that stuff. I hire that stuff out. That was somebody on my team is thinking about it so that way it doesn’t mess up my mind. I’m always looking at bigger, loftier goals and making a bigger impact and a bigger difference in the world. That’s one of the things that’s helped set me apart, more of an abundance mentality than a scarcity mentality.

How do you like to give back?

RES 200 | Financial Freedom
Financial Freedom: Take into account the inherent risks of owning assets and properties and managing these things.

Obviously, you could write checks and you can do that stuff. For me, I like to know the people that I’m giving back to. When the Cavs were good, I had a suite to the Eastern Conference Finals and I bought this suite to the Playoffs and got to take out some business associates. That was cool. I got to take out some family. That was cool. They went to a third game. We had a suite and I thought, “I could take the family. I can take friends. I can take business associates, but somebody needs to experience this that hasn’t experienced this before and would never have the opportunity to experience.” I put it on Facebook and said, “Who knows somebody who’s deserving of an experience like this? I’m looking for somebody who not only faced adversity but overcame it, and found out a way to pay it forward and make a difference, make an impact on other people’s lives.” I had the news pick it up. I had over 500 people submit these amazing loving messages to me on social media. They’re saying, “This person deserves it. Here are the things that they faced. Here are things they went through.”

I ended up picking five families, gave each four tickets. They were usually people like one family, they lost their child to a congenital heart defect. Instead of becoming a victim, they started a nonprofit. Now they’re helping other families with congenital heart defect children and making an impact amongst kids. There was another lady who was a school teacher and her husband is a local police officer. She had breast cancer and got her MBA while she was battling breast cancer and teaching school and her husband’s trying to help out making an impact and paying it forward. Another little girl, she lost her sister to an accidental drug overdose. Instead of going down a dark path, she ended up speaking. She goes around all these different schools in Cleveland and speaks to kids about the risks and these things that come with drugs, accidental overdoses and all these other things in order to make a difference and an impact on the world.

Stuff like that is rewarding for me. I had a buddy who grew up with a guy. Essentially his brother passed away, inherited the four kids his brother had. This guy didn’t make any money. He had a two-bedroom house between him, his wife and their two kids. They had to build on in addition to their house. Me, my buddy who knew him and a couple other guys, we each pitched in a few thousand dollars. We got them some Lowe’s gift cards, Home Depot Gift Cards and sent some contractors out there. For guys like us, it wasn’t a big difference. It didn’t make a huge impact on him. They were able to build an addition to their house, take on these four foster kids. I like stuff like that where you’re closer to writing a check.

Tim, I appreciate you sharing that. Tell the audience how they can learn more about you and your company.

I’m active on Facebook. I put out a lot of free content on social media and on Facebook. Find me, Tim Bratz. My website is You can learn more about us there. I do some coaching. Commercial empire is my brand, that’s My team will reach out and give you some insight into our next events. As you can tell, I’m transparent about giving as much content and value as I possibly can. It goes back to the abundance mentality. A lot of people keep a lot of that stuff close to their chest on their secrets.

For me, it’s not about that. If I tell it and educate more people about what we do and how we do it, a lot of times they’re like, “How can we partner together? How can we work together?” I’d rather have 25% of a watermelon than 100% of a grape. There’s more juice to squeeze off that. It’s a cool way that we’ve figured out how to do business and been able to meet and work with a lot of awesome people because of it. I appreciate you. Thank you so much for having me on here. Hopefully, we can connect on a discussion panel again pretty soon.

Thanks again, Tim. I appreciate your level of expertise and the value that you provided to the audience. I hope they’ll reach out to you and connect. I also hope they’ll go to Life Bridge Capital and connect with me and also joining us on our Facebook group, The Real Estate Syndication Show so we can all learn from experts like Tim and grow our businesses together. We’ll talk to each of you soon.

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About Tim Bratz

RES 200 | Financial FreedomTim Bratz is the CEO and founder of CLE Turnkey Real Estate, a real estate investment company that acquires and transforms distressed commercial and apartment buildings into high-performance investment assets.

Tim began his real estate career in 2007 as a commercial broker in the competitive NYC real estate market, where he saw the true potential of investment real estate to transform personal finances and provide financial freedom.

He spent time reading, attending workshops, and networking with accomplished entrepreneurs, and found that being resourceful was a cornerstone to becoming successful. Tim’s resourcefulness helped him build his first real estate company in 2009 in Charleston, SC, when he used a credit card to acquire his first property.

Tim transformed a rundown duplex all on his own and turned a profit on his first deal. He reinvested those proceeds, meanwhile seeking private capital to expand his growing company. Today Tim still uses this formula for success, which all starts with being resourceful and having the right mindset. Working in real estate, Tim has learned how to build a passive business and create a residual income that allows him to live the lifestyle of his choice.

Tim now focuses on educating and empowering active and passive investors to become financially free through commercial real estate. Tim’s investment companies own over 2,000 rental units across five states. Tim is a husband and proud father, mentor for The Advisor’s Council Mastermind, graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, and active member of several high-performance national entrepreneur masterminds, including Collective Genius, Deal Maker Family, The Brotherhood, and Multi-Family Boardroom.

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