What key factors should you look for when entering a new market? Brian Watson, CEO at Northstar Commercial Partners, joined us on the podcast to share what he looks for in a new market before making an acquisition.

In This Episode You’ll Learn

Why Brian prefers a market that moves up and down over a flat market
How to identify potential acquisitions in a market
Why you need to have a plan for the exit before you make the purchase
How to build a company culture dedicated to service

Recommended Reading

Brian has built a culture at Northstar Commercial Partners of service and giving back to the community. Brian wanted to be sure to share with you, the book that inspired him to serve others: Halftime: Changing Your Game Plan from Success to Significance

Bio

Since founding the firm in 2000, Brian has positioned Northstar as a leading multi-faceted, vertically integrated real estate company. Northstar’s line of business, which is value-add real estate focused on job creation, is currently one of the premier acquirers of vacant and/or value-add properties in markets throughout the United States.

Northstar focuses on buying these assets from lenders, corporations and other owners, then improving and placing them back into productivity in order to create jobs and opportunities in their local communities and, in the process, delivering attractive returns to its investors. To date, Brian has personally overseen the acquisition of over $650.8 million of property value and has purchased over 12.5 million square feet in 132 separate properties with his capital investors. The current portfolio consists of assets in 16 states in the U.S. and has a potential market value of over $1.3 billion.

Brian is also the author of: The 7 Rings: A Journey to a Balanced Life of Peace, Passion, and Purpose

Campaign

Brian is running for Colorado State Treasurer, and to learn more you can visit www.brianwatson.vote.

*If you like this post, be sure to enroll in our free six week course on the fundamentals of commercial real estate investing — Enroll Now.*

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Transcript

RealCrowd – All opinions expressed by Adam, Tyler and podcast guests are solely their own opinions and do not reflect the opinion of RealCrowd. This podcast is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a basis for investment decisions. To gain a better understanding of the risks associated with commercial real estate investing, please consult your advisors.

Tyler Stewart – Hey listeners, Tyler here. Before we start today’s episode, I wanted to quickly remind you to head to realcrowduniversity.com to enroll into our free six-week course on the fundamentals behind commercial real estate investing. That’s realcrowduniversity.com, thanks.

Adam Hooper – Hey Tyler.

Tyler Stewart – Hey, Adam, how are you today?

Adam Hooper – I’m great, who do we have on tap today, Tyler?

Tyler Stewart – Adam, today we have Brian Watson, founder and CEO of Northstar Commercial Partners.

Adam Hooper – Yeah, this was a long time coming. I was working with Brian back in the early 2010-ish area before we started RealCrowd.

Tyler Stewart – Almost a decade.

Adam Hooper – Almost a decade, so we’ve known Brian for a long time. Recently they’ve done a couple deals on RealCrowd and we were fortunate enough to have him on the podcast today.

Tyler Stewart – Yeah. It was a good, good episode.

Adam Hooper – Yeah. We talked about a number of things, how they got their start, Brian’s entrepreneurial DNA and how that carries over into what they do with Northstar, some information on new markets they look at, how to look at those markets, how they find their opportunities. Some good terms in there. Cowboy math, we learned about cowboy math today.

Tyler Stewart – Which was fascinating.

Adam Hooper – Yeah, a couple good book references in there. Stay tuned for those, and we’ll have some links down the show notes for the books. My favorite one though is if you want something done, give it to a busy person.

Tyler Stewart – Blew my mind. Yeah. That’s so true.

Adam Hooper – That’s why I give you a bunch of stuff to do. Alright, that’s enough mushy. But great episode. Again, Brian’s super engaging speaker. We talked about kind of where he’s going in the future, he’s got a run for office he’s going right now we touched on a little bit and how his business life has carried over into that. Yeah. Really good episode, all about community, second phase of life.

Tyler Stewart – Yeah, we’ll learn about what’s happening in the overall markets too and we’ll learn about risk adjusted returns and then we’ll also learn how to take your professional life and do something that’s involving serving others, which is a big key for Brian, and it’s becoming a big key for me as we bring on people like Brian and Calvin who really do have service in mind when they go out and follow their dreams.

Adam Hooper – Yeah, making the transition from success to significance is what we talked about with Brian today so good stuff in this episode. That’s enough of us talking about it, let’s actually get to it.

RealCrowd – This podcast is brought to you by RealCrowd, the leader in online real estate investing. Visit realcrowd.com to learn more about how we provide our members with direct access to commercial real estate investments. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Music, or SoundCloud. RealCrowd, invest smarter.

Adam Hooper – Brian thanks for joining us today from beautiful Denver, Colorado. Happy to have you on the podcast and looking forward to our conversation.

Brian Watson – Thanks for having me on your show, I appreciate it.

Adam Hooper – Yeah, let’s take a little bit of a background. Won’t you tell us how you got into the real estate game, a little bit about your history and what you guys are up to with Northstar.

Brian Watson – Absolutely, well, I came from a family of entrepreneurs and real estate and construction was always part of the family business. I was really interested at a very young age of really building true long-term wealth while also positively impacting the community. I got a degree in real estate. I was a broker for seven years with Cushman & Wakefield and mainly doing landlord representation but also doing tenant work as well. And I just was a sponge because I wanted to always have my own company, and so after seven years of being in an environment where you have to hunt and kill every day to eat, I founded Northstar Commercial Partners 18 years ago. The company’s done extremely well since then.

Adam Hooper – And now, so in 2000, you’ve seen a couple of cycles.

Brian Watson – I have, and what goes up comes down. But in that change in the market is where the opportunity resides. I personally don’t want a stagnant market. If a market is going up or down in those areas is where we create the opportunity. At Northstar we focus on buying two different groups of properties. First, we look at buying the vacant distressed commercial real estate assets that we’re buying for hopefully under 50% of replacement cost, and we go out and try to create jobs and opportunity and empower Americans by taking those vacant assets and putting them into productive work environments. Then we also work with corporations to buy or build facilities for them throughout the country.

Adam Hooper – Good, now, when you were starting in the brokerage world, did you have any mentors that helped to get you into the principal side or was that something, you said you kind of had a family background in that, how was that transition from the brokerage to the principal world?

Brian Watson – By design I focused on landlord representation. About 80% of my work when I was at Cushman & Wakefield was landlord representation. And I represented some of the largest landlords in the world like Lend Lease and Philip Morris and Shea Properties down to the small entrepreneur. I was a sponge around them trying to figure out what they did and what I would do differently when I had my own company. And then brokerage teaches a host of other things. Not only the business but how to build relationships and rapport and how to handle the momentum of a deal. The brokerage environment was ideal for helping me to really create Northstar.

Tyler Stewart – Now, Brian, I read somewhere that you were the youngest broker in the history of Cushman & Wakefield to qualify for directorship, is that true?

Brian Watson – I was with Cushman & Wakefield of Colorado, and so at that time, maybe some younger person has beat that record since then. But at that time I was the youngest and I also received a service distinction award and it really was, I mean I love people and I love the business and creating value and so just working hard every day, and so Cushman & Wakefield gave me a great training ground.

Tyler Stewart – For our listeners who, they may be younger going into their first job, what was it about your experience that led you to learn the ways of Cushman & Wakefield so quickly? What could listeners take from that?

Brian Watson – Well, back when I started, the training program was Contacts Influential which was a book, it wasn’t even a computer program at that time. And there’s a cubicle and they would give me a stack of flyers and they’d say, “Start at the top of this building and knock on every single door and introduce yourself to people and see if you can get them to come to our building or see if you can get a tenant representation agreement.” Being thrown into the fire like that, it really tests your wits and in fact, Cushman & Wakefield wasn’t hiring when I got hired. I graduated from college, the Peace Corps fell through about a month where I was ready to leave. I was in Denver and so I started interviewing and I just really wanted to work for Cushman & Wakefield. They said, we’re not hiring, go work for IBM or some group, get some sales training and then come back. I called them constantly and finally I said, you know what, I’m going to come down to the office on Monday, you don’t need to pay me. If you can give me a cubicle that’s great, but I’m just going to start working for you and you can pay me if I prove myself. And I guess that was enough to get them to think, “Wow, this guy is the kind of person we need who will call anybody about anything.” That really is what you need in the brokerage world. You always get the word no but you got to get up every single day and keep knocking on doors.

Adam Hooper – Yeah, I think tenacity is I think one of the key characteristics of cutting your teeth in the brokerage role, that’s where I started as well.

Brian Watson – Yeah, absolutely.

Adam Hooper – And yeah, you hear a lot of nos, you get very comfortable with a no but you just got to keep plugging and keep the phone ringing, yeah?

Brian Watson – You really do, and I always, there’s a couple of sayings I like but one of them is, get knocked down seven, get up eight. I do that every single day even today. We get knocked down seven but we’re always going to get up eight, and if we’re knocked down 10, we’re going to get up on 11. That’s really what you need, there’s so much no. To me I got to the point where no was just a temporary situation and hopefully we’ll get to a yes. Every single day I’m going to try to find the person who wants to do business with me.

Adam Hooper – Good, well, so now from humble beginnings I’m sure in the early 2000s to Northstar and one of things we were talking about before, we got on the recording today is you guys are active in a lot of different markets not just the Denver area anymore. Take us a little bit through the journey from early days Northstar to now tracking so many different markets then we kind of dig in on some of your process there.

Brian Watson – Yeah, well, I started the company. I had saved up enough money in brokerage that I could live for a year and I told my wife at the time I said we’re going to take a step backward for hopefully a giant leap forward. We’d saved up this money and I said I want to start the company. I started above Ted’s Montana Grill on Larimer Square in Denver and a few hundred square feet and went out and started trying to put deals together. It wasn’t easy but everything from creating the logo and mission and focus of the company. And now I’ve been blessed in building the company to where we own assets in 16 states across America; office, industrial and retail properties. We’re about a billion three of market value. This year I expect that we should break $2 billion in market value. We’re just always looking for good opportunities and I get to work with about 40 people here in Denver that I get to employ and it’s just such a blessing to see these people achieving their own career, dreams and paying their rent or mortgages or sending their kids to school. Then we’ve got another 10 or so people around the country working on our different assets as well.

Adam Hooper – Good, and so now when you were looking in early acquisitions I’m assuming in the Denver area, how did you make a decision or at what point did you know it was time to grow outside of your home market there and start looking at other markets?

Brian Watson – Well, first I took some ideas, so I was mainly an office broker and large business park had land brokerage while I was at Cushman & Wakefield. I went out into the marketplace when I first started the company and say, where could be my niche and where can I add value? I really focused on buying vacant distressed buildings and I took ideas from the office world. Things like a full-height doors or lever hardware or higher-end carpet, whatever it might be and I really focused on buying that kind of one to $5 million asset. I want to created a book of success stories showing how we could take these assets and overlay some of these office concepts and better value, and really try to drive 25% plus returns to our investors. We were very successful in that and now we’ve migrated into the larger deals. Our real focus is buying those vacant assets. But years ago we made a huge transition of a company which was very instrumental. Commercial real estate isn’t known as being a market that has a big heart shall we say. We really focus on going out and buying these vacant buildings to create jobs and opportunity and empowering Americans. There’s a social impact piece that we’ve really honed in on and so, between buying the vacant assets and working with corporations we’re very instrumental in that.

Adam Hooper – Now you have assets in 16 different states, are you guys looking at new markets, are you happy with those, is there enough opportunity within those markets?

Brian Watson – Yeah, so we own a bunch in Denver and so, and then we own in these other markets as well. We’re always looking for great opportunities in different markets. We’re a buyer or seller at any given day of the week. When we buy a vacant building, get it leased up, we’re a seller or we might be a long term holder in some cases, and so yes, there are certain areas of the country that we like. Specifically, the western US, we focus a lot there just because the demographics and where a lot of the growth is going. Plus I love the mindset of the West but literally right now I own assets from upstate New York down to Texas and from the state of Washington down to Alabama and kind of everything in between.

Adam Hooper – What are the key things, a few of the key points that you guys are looking for, I guess first off, when you’re looking into maybe expanding into a new market and then when you’re making the hold versus sell decision, what are some market indicators maybe that you guys are looking at that would trigger a sell decision maybe?

Brian Watson – On the acquisition side, again we’re looking for markets that have good strong characteristics. Ideally, we want a minimum population of half a million people and we want a market that has a positive outlook for the future, a proper role of government, lower taxes, employment trends going the right way etc. We’ll go in and buy buildings with good bones and we’ll reposition those assets. What’s good about Northstar is that we don’t just buy industrial or just buy office. What we do is we look at an asset and say, what is the highest and best use of that particular asset? As an example we’ve bought vacant buildings but we’ve turned them into charter schools or we’ve turned ’em into business incubators if they were an industrial building, all kinds of different things. We try to figure out where is that highest and best use. In terms of the exit, depending if we’re buying vacant, we’ll offer a building for sale to a user or lease it up and sell it. But once we’ve created the big lifts of restabilizing that property, it’s time for us to sell and somebody else to enjoy the ongoing incremental increases each year.

Adam Hooper – Now, you mentioned a few those factors, minimum population size, employment trends. For listeners out there that are looking at deals across new markets all across the country, any kind of quick hits of places that they might be able to find that data that they can start looking into this on their own if they have a desire?

Brian Watson – There’s so much available online and most of these municipalities also have economic development groups that are more than happy to be helpful and give a lot of historical trends and information. What I would encourage people to do is to first and foremost focus in their local market because you’re always turning over stones and looking at those deals. Then figure out other areas that you think have promise. I’ll give you an example. One of our, highest return I should say was in Nashville, Tennessee. We bought a vacant building from a pharmaceutical company and from there we turned it over and sold it to a user and had almost 700% return on our invested dollars on that transaction. Again, real estate is local by nature but if you’re really focused and you have these other relationships and other markets, there’s no reason you can’t do deals in other markets as well. Think about some ideas that are working well in your local market and how they could be applied to a different market. In Denver for instance, we have some really different kind of unique business incubators and some cultural centers and some things like that. To apply those into some other markets that may not have those as much, we have found to be very successful.

Adam Hooper – You guys have a much more opportunistic strategy which maybe, at a fundamental level, you can look at opportunities on a very individualized basis versus someone that’s more core in their approach. Do you feel like gives you more flexibility to look into other markets where you have the, I guess more of a nimble approach to how you operate these assets versus someone who must be buying more of a core stabilized kind of a property?

Brian Watson – Absolutely, and so I’m a little bit strange in the marketplace from the perspective of, I take a contrarian approach to buying assets. I believe that it’s less risky to buy a fully vacant asset for pennies on the dollar, than it is to buy a fully leased asset, a core property, whatever it might be where my income stream can get up in the middle of the night and walk out of me. Because if that happens all of a sudden, all I’m left with is a high basis of property. For me I’m a basis investor. If I have a lower basis by let’s say 25% or 50% or who knows what it is compared to the competition, it allows me to be more patient. It allows me to cut a better deal to secure a tenant for the building because I can afford to be more aggressive. It allows me to be more creative in what I can turn that asset into. And so there’s a host of reasons. For us and we really focus on buying those vacant assets, one for the social impact piece but also, for the reasons that I just stated, that we believe give us a superior advantage in the marketplace to be more flexible and creative in our approach.

Adam Hooper – And you’re not going to get hurt falling out the basement window, I think that’s one of my favorite lines.

Brian Watson – I like that one.

Adam Hooper – Everybody talks about you make money on the buy and I think there’s definitely truth to that. If you can buy it at a you know substantial discount to replacement cost, coming in at a really low basis is, again it provides that flexibility like you just said. When you guys are out, I mean now obviously owning over a billion dollars worth of value in the market, you have a reputation as a buyer that you can execute and you can close. Do you take a different approach on the acquisition side than would be typical? Again most of the groups that we’re working with and talking with are more, I would say on the lighter value add end of things. Your approach is obviously much more on the opportunistic side. How does that buying dynamic differ? How does your deal sourcing differ? Do you take different components to the table? Is there a different angle that you come than a more stabilized buyer might bring?

Brian Watson – First I would say we get our deals in four primary ways. First, we mainly are buying from financial institutions who have got an REO property or an asset on the books and they need to sell it. We love working with financial institutions to buy one or a portfolio or more of properties. One of the portfolios I took down consisted of 24 assets that we bought for over $220 million in 13 states throughout the country. Very few buyers in America can do that, and they consisted of office, industrial and retail. Again we separate ourselves in that way. The second way we get a lot of our deals is again from working with corporations as they need to transfer liability off the balance sheet or need to grow their footprint. The third way we get deals is our social impact piece. We get a lot of deals from people who say, “Please come create jobs and opportunity in our community by turning this asset around.” And so municipalities, etc. Then finally obviously with the brokerage community. When we go into a transaction, because we’re adept at buying these assets but we also have this mindset that yes, we want to do the first transaction with you but we hope that it’s a good enough experience for you as well that you want to do a second transaction and third transaction. A lot of people just go for the jugular and they’re looking to just take somebody apart on one transaction. Well, for me I believe there’s a middle ground and I’m going to do what I say I’m going to do.

Brian Watson – When we come to the table and we put something under contract we have almost a 100% close ratio. Yes, we’re not going to maybe give you the highest offer but we’re going to perform and we’re not going to jerk your chain through that process. Execution and reputation and also really following through on through all aspects of the transaction are vital.

Adam Hooper – Well, I’m assuming that again the reputational side and in relationships with the brokerage community specifically is probably something you have an appreciation for coming from that side of the world.

Brian Watson – We do, and I tell brokers because I’m a broker, even to this day I’m a licensed broker, I don’t do brokerage but I am a licensed broker. I tell brokers something pretty simple. First of all, we’re never a commission away on a deal. To me brokers add a tremendous value and they should be compensated for that value.

Tyler Stewart – I chuckle at this, I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that.

Brian Watson – Yeah, these landlords they don’t respect the broker, and you know what, you wouldn’t have a deal and you wouldn’t have value if it wasn’t for a broker and you should be very thankful for them. I want to be known next as the fastest payer so that when brokers send me over a lease or a contract, there’s a commission and check attached. It’s not running through New York or Minneapolis for 30 or 45 days to get your payment. Then I also tell brokers that they can make a single, a double or a triple with us. They can make a single by bringing me a building and they get paid for it. Whether they have the listing or not, we’ll work with them to make sure that the transaction occurs. They can round second by leasing up the building as long as they’re adding value through that process and get paid up on the lease up. And then they can round third and slide into home by selling the building for me. As long as they are adding value throughout the entire process that’s what I ask for. If you just have your hand out looking for a check and you’re not adding value, then I’m not going to keep you as a broker. Brokers really love it because they say this guy gets it, he understands the momentum of the deal, he respects us, he has a high close ratio and if I keep adding value, I can continue to have a cash cow almost of sorts by having this property with them.

Adam Hooper – Are there new markets that you guys are watching or monitoring right now that you’re not in that you’re trying to get into?

Brian Watson – Not specifically right now. There are markets that I think are too frothy right now. Look at where the economy is, it’s strong in many areas, but I think certain markets are too frothy and overpriced. That being said, I’m a big believer you can always find a deal if you keep your eye open. I personally love it when fellow investors or people in general make over generalizations about a market. When somebody says, “Oh, there’s no deals in the marketplace,” well guess what, you’re not going to see any deals because your whole paradigm and mindset is there’s no deals and you’re not going to be able to see anything. For me, we always have the lines off the back of the boat and we’re always trolling. Whether that be in a high priced market or a lower priced market or whatever it might be, to say are there good deals that we can make an execution on. We’re not buying the entire market, we are buying one asset or two assets or whatever it might be within that overall market. When people make those over generalizations about an entire market, let them keep doing that. We’re going to take a rifle approach and pick off individual assets and execute on them.

Adam Hooper – Are you looking at opportunity first and then kind of expanding out for acquisition ideas, or are you looking at geography first and then narrowing in on opportunities within that geography?

Brian Watson – Because our name and reputation has been developed over the years, we get deals constantly that are put in front of us. It’s more of, and the litmus test that I tell anybody who’s bringing us a deal, it’s great that you want to market this, it’s great that you want a commission or get it off your books or whatever it is your motivation, but the real litmus test for me is, would you invest in it personally? And to take that a little bit higher, would you sign personally on the debt if you were the buyer? And that calls out a lot of looky-loos or people trying to slap something up against the wall and hoping it’ll stick. Yes, first and foremost, we personally, we like to look at geography and saying okay, here are the trends, here’s where the growth is, here’s where there’s a positive outlook for the future. Now, how can we execute within that market by buying good real estate and great locations? But again, we just get so many deals and opportunities put before us just because we’ve built a name and reputation over the years.

Tyler Stewart – Yeah, with that amount of deal flow that’s coming in front of you, how do you quickly filter through the yeses and the nos so you can do your deeper dive and, be respectful of your time and make sure you’re spending your time on the right deals?

Brian Watson – That’s a great question. We practice a lot of cowboy math here and being that we live in the West and I’m from a small agricultural town in the western slope. What cowboy math really means to me is that if you can’t explain a deal on a little sticky note or a napkin to say here’s where the market is, here’s what we can buy it for, here’s our improvements, and here’s our exit, and the only way you can get to the value is by running some long proforma, it’s probably not a deal for us. We want to make sure cuts that first cut where we say okay, does it make sense? Okay, what are the drivers here, what’s the opportunity? Then from there we’ll go ahead and analyze it. We have a full staff that analyzes our deals whether it be the development team or financial analysts, asset managers, etc. W can cull through that pretty quickly. In addition because we are in 16 states, we employ brokers in every single state where we are. And so they’re always thinking of us and saying okay, well here’s an asset that they’ve already bought, here’s one that might fit that same kind of criteria.

Adam Hooper – I like that cowboy math. I’m going to have to use that in the future.

Brian Watson – You can have it, it’s all yours. I’m going to use the basement window so we’re good.

Adam Hooper – Perfect, so we talked, again bringing up the basement window there, you talked a little bit before about how your approach on the risk is again acquiring assets at such a low basis that you’re derisking it in that sense. One of the things that we always talk about here is risk adjusted returns. We’d love to kind of dig in on that with you and maybe just at a high level, how do you look at it, or how would you maybe even define at a base level what a risk adjusted return is or how an investor might look at a risk adjusted calculation?

Brian Watson – First of all, it depends on the investor, where they are in their life, what are they trying to achieve and those types of things. I can speak from what I want to achieve with my money. Every single deal that we do I invest my own capital in and then bring in private and institutional capital partners who co-invest alongside of us. But my money’s the first in and usually, I’m signing personally on the debt as well and plus I have my name and reputation. For me, for a vacant distressed commercial real estate asset, I want to hit a 25% or higher net pre-tax IRR on my invested capital as an investor. Every one of our vacant distressed deals, that’s what we’re looking to achieve. Now, our historical returns over 17 years not that past performance is a guarantee for future success, but has been much higher than that. But we focus on buying those assets, repositioning, creating the value and exiting. When we’re working with corporations, for instance, I’m working with a fortune 20 company right now. we’re doing about a probably a billion dollars of deals with them. We’ve already done about 350 million this year alone. They’re bringing me a 15-year triple net lease with a corporate guarantee to these facilities. Those risk adjusted returns are different. When it’s a fully leased asset or working with a corporation we want to hit a kind of a high teens, maybe low 20s net pre-tax IRR to our capital partners. And that’s one thing that’s different about Northstar from a lot of the competition. A lot of people quote these returns

Brian Watson – but their deal level returns, well, it doesn’t necessarily matter what a deal made, though it does in some essence. What really matters is what did the investor make because if an operator is taking all of these fees and not giving good strong market adjusted returns to their investors, then I think it’s for naught. We really focus on putting the investor first at the front of the line. They get a preferential return, a return of their capital and then we do sharing ratios. But personally, I’m not interested in doing real estate deals for under a 15% return. I think you should look at putting your money elsewhere. Now, there’s plenty of people who have a different focus and that’s fine, but for Northstar that is really our focus. We’re very, very disciplined and very, very patient in the deals that we execute on.

Adam Hooper – Are there any external benchmarks that you guys typically look at or maybe different markets do you look at risk adjusted returns differently or is it more just based off of the strategy that you’re pursuing with that asset?

Brian Watson – That’s a strategy for us and so wherever we are in the market that’s what we want to hit. I would rather be patient and not do a deal, what is the old saying? The best deal that you ever did is the one that you didn’t do, or something that to that effect. One of my wise investors, he told me one time, he said, “Brian, what can take you a moment to buy, can take you a lifetime to sell.” We’re very, very focused. We don’t have a quota that I have to hit a certain amount of deals, I don’t have a fund burning a hole in my pocket saying I have to deploy a certain amount of capital by X date or I lose the money. We just do deals on a deal by deal basis, and does the deal make sense, does it stand on its own two feet, can it hit the returns that we want to hit? And if not, we’re not going to do it and we don’t have to do it and so, I think that’s really really important is to be disciplined. Because human beings are the great self-rationalizers. They’ll rationalize themselves into any deal or anything that they want to. We just really focus on being very, very disciplined and patient.

Adam Hooper – How does that approach of, with a target return, I mean that dictates most of your strategy. That’s what you lead into your look at deals with. If it doesn’t hit that minimum return, you can then assess the risk that you’re taking to get there and I guess as investors out there listening, how can they maybe start thinking about the risk that they’re taking to get to that? My direction with this is, the pattern that we’ve seen emerge and we’ve talked about in the podcast a few times before, is that a lot of the retail investors out there, they just don’t have the experience or the background or the model to really understand what the risk they’re taking is to get to that return. They see a deal that’s maybe an 18% IRR compared to a deal that’s a 22% IRR, one may have a completely different risk profile than the other. What are some of those things that you might look at as an investor, as a passive investor to maybe assess some of that risk when you’re looking at these different opportunities and different return profiles?

Brian Watson – At Northstar, actually we just recently wrote a blog and it was posted this week of what investors should potentially look for. And that’s why it’s so great that you guys are providing even this podcast for your clientele, ’cause the more knowledge you have and the better you are at asking questions, the better off you’re going to be on your investments. I would as an investor, I would encourage them to ask a lot of questions. Look at the deal, look at the past performance. For instance at Northstar, we show every single deal we have ever done. We don’t cherry-pick and just show the good case studies. We show the ones we’ve lost money on, and why we think we lost money on it and every deal in between. That’s really important, and so look at that track record and history. Then look at some of the trends and see, does it sound too good to be true, and what does your gut tell you? And I think when it comes to returns though, that is really should be decided on an individual basis of based on where you are in your life and what you’re trying to achieve and the money that you’re investing. You’re putting that capital at risk. What should those returns be for you? I’m just speaking again from me personally and where I want to grow my returns. What we have shown is that, and we’ve outlined this for our 18-year history. We’ve graphed it to show in three-year increments what we have created as returns. What we’ve shown is, you can still make strong returns

Brian Watson – whether it’s a hot or a down economy and in fact Northstar, even does better in a down economy because we’re buying vacant assets even more so. Going back to your question, I think it really should be an individual person but my recommendation is do your homework, ask a ton of questions and make sure it’s a group that is putting you at the front of the line as an investor and being transparent throughout the entire process.

Adam Hooper – Again, you mentioned that and I agree with you, those that have access to capital in down markets are able to generate a tremendous amount of wealth. You have huge buying opportunities when there is pain in the market. This stage of the market though, later on in the recovery, maybe not as many vacant buildings around, maybe some of those opportunities aren’t as easy to find. How does your strategy or your risk profile or your approach change where we’re at today versus where we might have been in 2010-11 or even 2013-14?

Brian Watson – I’m a big fan of Warren Buffett in terms of his investment philosophy, and specifically when he’s talking about Mr. Market. This idea that there’s an assumption that Mr. Market is this rational, always informed and equally informed entity that is giving people fair prices for assets and whether that be stock, in my case it’s real estate. In any market there is always something going on, somebody’s getting divorced, a company is going to go under, a bank had to take an asset back because the market changed, who knows what it is. For me, we are always again, have the lines off the back of the boat, we’re always ready, willing and able to perform. Invariably something happens, and specifically, when you can have speed to market to buy an asset. I’ll give you an example, there was a big investment fund that everyone would know, I’m not going to share their name, that they had this asset, a 100% leased property. And there was about $2.1 million of NOY at this property. Most people thought it was going to sell for north of $25 million. And it was getting towards the end of the year and I told this particular big fund, I said, “I will pay $11.4 million for this asset. And they said, “What are you, that’s crazy.” And I said, “I understand but I also know you need to close out your fund by the end of the year, and if you don’t get another buyer I’ll stand at the edge of the basket and I will perform inside of 30 days to buy that building.” They said, “Well, that’s not going to happen. Don’t worry about it.” I said, “Okay, just the offer is there.”

Brian Watson – Well, lo and behold, on December 1st they came back to me and they said, “Okay, we want to transact.” And so I wrote them a check for $11.4 million by December 31st. They had to close out their fund and we bought that building at like an 18 cap on existing income. My point in that is, is you just never know. And so just, we’ll be consistent, we’ll be focused and people can decide if they want to take the offer or not but that speed to market is absolutely vital. Going back to your question, the biggest lesson, one of the biggest lessons I learned between, in the down economy was to make sure you have the cash at the ready. I bought every vacant Albertson’s grocery store in Colorado for $9.25 a square foot. These are all hundred dollars a square foot plus replacement costs, and I bought them for $9.25 but I had to pay all cash because you couldn’t get debt back then. Looking at the cycles, I want to make sure that I have more cash at the ready because those are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Yes, they’re very painful and yes we had assets we had to deal with, but when you’re offered something like that, that’s a once in a lifetime or maybe twice in a lifetime opportunity, you should be well prepared to take advantage of it.

Adam Hooper – Something just hit me there is your entrepreneurial background, and it sounds like your family’s entrepreneurial background is still very much of the DNA of your approach to real estate.

Brian Watson – Absolutely, think of Northstar as the look and feel and capability of an institutional grade investor, but it will always be on the body frame and engine of an entrepreneurial company. That’s one thing that separates us in that, as the founder and CEO, I can walk into a meeting and I can cut a deal and shake on it and I don’t have to wait to hear from New York or Minneapolis or wherever the investment committee is. I can actually make a decision, shake on it, and yes we’ll pay for the transaction, but they know I’m going to follow up and perform on that. That ability to cut a deal and to follow through on your word, we get to run circles around the competition.

Adam Hooper – And how is your capital base either hampered or empowered that, primarily I guess institutional versus individual investors. Is there a difference in acceptance of this strategy or the various strategies, recapitalizing deals on a deal by deal basis, what is the flexibility, the capital base and how does that inform your strategies?

Brian Watson – Yeah, well over the years, I’ve had some large institutional grade investors or ultra high-net-worth family saying, “Brian, we’ll be your capital partner, don’t worry about ever raising another dollar.” I’ve respectfully always said no to that. I mean it’s very kind and honoring. However, I want the flexibility to buy different assets and just because they may say, “Well, you know what, we’re not buying real estate anymore,” well, that’s my primary business. We elected to sacrifice and focus on raising it on a deal by deal basis. Now, we do have some relationships, for instance, those data centers that I just mentioned to you. We got a hundred million dollar equity commitment from a group and that will allow us to padieu about a billion dollars of transaction. We’ll do those data centers with that particular group. Then sometimes if we’re doing, building a senior care facility, there’s different groups who want to do it. But most of our deals, well, first of all, every deal is offered to investors. I never want to cherry-pick a deal and be accused of just keeping the good ones for me and putting out all the other ones. Crowdfunding has been a very instrumental part in our fundraising strategy and we’re really fortunate to be working with you all and want to continue to grow that relationship. I call it kind of the great democratization of commercial real estate. Back in the day, you had to be a well-heeled set or just an insurance company or whatever it is to participate in commercial real estate, specifically larger assets.

Brian Watson – What I love about crowdfunding and other things is it allows everybody to have access to real estate investments. It’s amazing that you can do that right from your own comfort of your home or your office and to be able to look at those great opportunities. We’re always going to offer our deals to outside groups and raise it on a deal by deal basis. Part of the beauty of that as well is that the market is brutal with you. It’ll tell you whether it thinks you have a good deal or not because capital will flow to where it’s wanted, respected and protected and has the highest opportunity for risk adjusted returns. And if it’s not, then capital won’t flow to that. It gives you real-time feedback and keeps you honest and very focused and disciplined.

Adam Hooper – I want to dig into something you mentioned there, this cherry-picking concept. One of the knocks on the crowdfunding world and one of the things we’ve always tried to protect against is the whole concept of adverse selection. At RealCrowd, we’re structured in such a way that the sponsors we do deals with don’t need this capital coming through RealCrowd to close the deal, they have enough external capital to do it. As an investor, how can you ensure that you’re not getting the leftovers? What questions can they ask or what can an investor dig into to make sure that they are seeing the best deals from these managers, not just the ones that they can’t get funded elsewhere?

Brian Watson – Absolutely, and I think it goes back to like you’re saying asking the good question. At Northstar, if somebody said to me, why are you using crowdfunding and are you just offering this deal and doing other deals exclusive of investors? And as I said, at Northstar every single deal we do, we offer it to all of our investors equally and say, “Here’s an opportunity.” Sometimes it gets sent out by email. All the time it gets sent out by email and/or crowdfunding, and they get a notice. And they can decide if they want to participate. Now, if one of your clients was looking at investing with someone, I would ask ’em, “Why did you decide to use RealCrowd? Is it because you couldn’t get the deal funded and it was your deal of last resort? Is it because you don’t have the history or you just want to keep other deals for yourself?” Ask those discerning questions, and again for us, every single deal I have ever done in my entire history, I have always had outside investors for 18 years. And we’re going to always have investors on our deals going into the future. I think that’s really important to align those interests and so that would be the question that I would ask and saying, why did you get here, how long has it been marketing, how long you’ve been trying to raise capital for it, why have people told you they haven’t invested in the deal? And just ask them discerning questions and if somebody doesn’t answer those questions clearly and succinctly, or is kind of doing a shuffle, then you should disengage and go find an operator and a sponsor who’s going to really protect

Brian Watson – and focus on your capital.

Adam Hooper – I think that gets back again asking the right questions, and that’s hopefully, what we’re achieving through this podcast is helping people understand some of those questions to ask, so thank you for the answer there. You’ve mentioned a couple times now, you’re investing in and putting these assets back into service in the community, make, call it investing with a heart. What does that mean to you?

Brian Watson – Well, for us again, real estate is going through a massive change right now, specifically in America. You think of things like artificial intelligence, you think about the massive disruption when it comes to all types of workers in society from blue-collar to white-collar and anything in between, things are changing dramatically. I’m a big believer that what’s better? To have a vacant building that bad things can happen in the community or something where there’s a thriving work and or educational environment. You think about what commercial real estate touches, so many aspects of society. For us to figure out how we can take this vacant manufacturing building that may be manufacturing was big in this particular community and how do we turn it into a new vibrant living space or working space or whatever it is. That’s where our social impact piece comes in. I can’t tell you how many times, I’ll get someone reach out to me, for instance, I bought a vacant building in Gary, Indiana for a school. This building is a 43,000 square foot building, probably a $7 million replacement cost and I bought it for $285,000. I mean you can’t do a parking lot for 285,000, let alone a lobby of a school building. Anyway, it has a 30% unemployment rate in this area, in certain areas of this area. I bought it and we hired a janitor to come clean the building. Lo and behold the janitor used to work there several decades before when it used to be a school and he literally had tears in his eyes over Christmas

Brian Watson – because now he had a job again. It’s things like that, there’s that social impact piece of really impacting people that gets us excited. Then who knows, are the students that are going to be there and what dreams they’re going to achieve by getting a good education. That’s the kind of stuff that we like doing.

Adam Hooper – And has that always been in the the culture of Northstar, is that something that you carried over from early in life? Like what inspires you to take that approach, because that’s not, it’s not necessarily typical. Much of the real estate world that we see, it’s just purely about bottom line, there’s not much of a, emphasis placed on social impact. Has that just been always kind of core to how you’ve approached the space or was there anything that triggered that within you?

Brian Watson – It’s a good point and I don’t see another commercial real estate company focusing on that. For me, my family when I was young taught me about blessings and hard work. We didn’t start with that concept at Northstar. A few years ago though, I read a very influential book in my life called Half Time. And the writer basically achieved a lot of financial success in his younger years but he said, “There’s got to be something more.” He likened it to a sports kind of metaphor, that in the first half of our life, let’s consider it a football game, we’re looking after this thing called success and you may define success by monetary means, where you want to graduate, where you want to live, whatever it is but usually it’s from a worldly perspective. When you go into the locker room of life and you’re looking at the second half of your life and you’re a little bit tired from the first half, you’re a little bit bloody, a little bit worn out, what do you want the second half of your life to be? Hopefully you’ll make this transition from this thing called success to this thing called significance. Significance is about blessing others, it’s about leaving a legacy, it’s about living something larger than yourself. I read that book and it just hit me and I said, “You know what, yeah, we’re driving great returns and we’re focused on all this stuff, but there’s got to be something more.” And so there should be the social impact piece of how can we use commercial real estate as a platform to bless others.

Brian Watson – So we went out and went on this mission and then really honed in that we’re buying vacant assets to create jobs and opportunity and strengthen and power communities. We’re going to take some of the profits and give away to nonprofits and charities and really to have a commercial real estate with a heart. In some I really truly believe that you can do well by doing good and sometimes people in society think they have to be mutually exclusive. Either you’re putting on your battle armor and going out onto the commercial real estate field, or you’re being philanthropic with harps and giving away money. Well, you know what, you can actually do both where yeah, you’re getting great deals, yes you’re driving great value but you can also be blessing others and impacting the community in a positive way.

Tyler Stewart – And Brian, how do you balance when you’re looking at a deal, balance the community impact with the returns of the deal? Does every deal for you have to have that community impact or where’s that balance lie?

Brian Watson – Well first and foremost, I have a fiduciary responsibility to my investors and so I need to make sure that I’m doing the right deals for the right reasons and trying to get those risk adjusted returns. Sometimes we may not be trying to hit that 25% plus return, sometimes we may say, you know what, a 10 or 12% is reasonable given the risk profile. First and foremost, we look at it from an investor’s perspective because our name and reputation is on the line. Then as part of that, we say, “Okay, what is that impact for the community and what can this asset be?” A lot of it is ancillary and it doesn’t come down to direct economic benefits though I do believe, you can do well by doing good. And so, we’ve shown a model that you can actually achieve both and they can actually be very synergistic. And that category three of where we get a lot of our deals, so many of our deals come from municipalities or corporations or individuals who say, “You know what, I want to work with somebody that I can know, like and trust and that is actually going to take this asset and do something good for the community that we’ve been working in or that we’re a part of for so many years.” And so I think it really separates us out and winning opportunities that maybe others may not get.

Adam Hooper – As you mentioned there, the mindset that those two are mutually exclusive impact investments and absolute return, you got to choose one or the other, and I think that’s been, maybe if I can criticize our own industry here a little bit, I think that has been something that we had hoped would be different, that there would be more impact investments and there would be more kind of socially conscious investing through these platforms. But it seems like if the financial return isn’t there, a lot of people talk about wanting to do good with their money but it just doesn’t necessarily always happen that way, right?

Brian Watson – Yeah, I’ll give you a prime example. A young gentleman who got out of the military, one of our veterans came to me and he said, “Brian, a lot of my friends are taking their own life. They’re getting out of the military and they can’t matriculate back into society.” And so he had a dream to create a facility where people could get residential housing and then have job skills and training on-site by the different people on-site. Whether it be a barista at Starbucks or whether it be a car dealer and fixing cars but get real on the job skills training. And so he came to me and he wanted to buy one to three acres and this happened last year. We went out and looked and lo and behold, we ended up buying 30 acres. I paid about $7.7 million for 30 acres, and we went out with this package to create the first-ever facility or development focused on military veterans where they would have housing, where they’d have job skills and training by the different retailers or businesses that located etc. So we went out there, reached out to a large audience and the investors weren’t very interested. They said, “That’s great, but we’re not really interested.” I then changed it and said, “Okay, well we’re going to offer a flat 20% return on this deal, while we get our entitlements and then we’ll go on to phase two.” And all of a sudden the deal filled right up. And so yes, we went out and tried to do it for altruistic reasons. Unfortunately, that didn’t resonate well with the investor base.

Brian Watson – Again, they’re very brutal and giving you real-time feedback so we offered the flat 20% return. The whole deal filled up right away. We bought the property, we now are going on to phase two with the vertical development and still working with the whole veterans kind of concept. We’ll get there one way the other and hopefully you can lead by example and encourage people, but people can make their decision on how they want to invest their capital and they’ll be honest about it.

Adam Hooper – Now taking this a step further, I guess maybe a little bit more granular. You’re very involved in community. I know you’re taking a run at a state office here which we’ll talk about in a minute or two, but how does this transition beyond just the physical, the built environment and the real estate itself to take it, your ethos towards actual community involvement at a boots-on-the-ground level?

Brian Watson – Yeah, so I wrote a book a little over a year ago called the Seven Rings and 100% of the proceeds are donated away and I asked people a lot of these questions in the book, it’s kind of an interactive book, asking where you are, what’s important to you, what’s at the center of your life, etc. And since then we’ve gone on this journey. I got tired of seeing all these politicians and everybody divide us by our race and culture and religion so we went out and started this community barbecue in Denver where we show up in different inner-city communities and I underwrite it. And we show up and just have a meal together and get to know people. To me diversity is one of the greatest strengths in America. For us, yes the commercial real estate is our platform and we’re creating the jobs and opportunity and making donations but through that platform now, we’re doing everything from community barbecues to different outreach to really impact people on a one by one basis. It’s been very exciting to go through that process.

Adam Hooper – Is that primarily in Denver where you guys are located or do you try to have an impact in the communities wherever you buy assets?

Brian Watson – Wherever we are, and even in communities that we don’t have assets. I want to be known as just being a generous and faithful giver. I’ve been blessed with much in life and if I can help bless others, so be it. I’m not one of those people who has one specific cause in mind. In fact, even with my investors, I’ll match them dollar for dollar to the humanitarian cause of their choosing. I’ll take 10% of what I make on a transaction, not to be legalistic about my giving but I’ll take it and I’ll match them dollar for dollar to the humanitarian cause of their choosing. Because each person has a connection maybe with cancer or with education or water projects or whatever it is that they have this heartfelt connection. By coming alongside them, I get exposed to more, and together our one dollar can be turned into two dollars which can hopefully make a larger impact in the world.

Adam Hooper – Now, with a successful real estate company going with community involvement, with this run for treasurer, how do you balance the time aspect of that? That’s a lot of a different directions that are pulling you, I’m sure different ways. Any tips or tricks on kind of how you prioritize or schedule or manage all those different demands?

Brian Watson – Well as you said, I am running for State Treasurer of Colorado, and I want to bring all my business experience and try to make a positive impact and one of my campaign pledges is not to take a salary from state government when elected. I always want to make a living from the private sector. In terms of managing my time, I really believe in this adage and I’ve always believed it, that if you want something done, give it to a busy person. Beware of the individual that is bored or has nothing to do because those type of people are always bored and have nothing to do. My management style and operational style is really building bridges and tearing down barriers among people. It’s about surrounding myself with really talented, energetic and smart people, and removing the roadblocks and barriers and helping to set the vision and strategy for them to go achieve great things. We have a phenomenal team at Northstar. My role at Northstar is really setting that strategy and making sure the right people are on the right bus going in the right direction, and then working on large relationships. From there my team knows how to rack and stack and really execute on that plan. In terms of the treasurer’s office or the philanthropy or whatever it might be. I have a Chief of Staff and we have a Community Relations Director and so we’ve built in these different people that are executing on that and really helping to move the ball down the field.

Adam Hooper – What you touched on there is company culture and that’s something that’s in the technology world, a very, very prominent topic. We don’t hear it too much discussed in the real estate space. I mean obviously the team that you’ve got to execute the plan but how have you gone about building that culture that can kind of execute on your vision that has the community involvement, that has that, I mean it sounds like that’s just in the DNA of the operation that you run. How do you go about building that?

Brian Watson – Well, first and foremost, every single day at Northstar Commercial Partners, we’re trying to figure out how to become better, smarter, faster every single day. Better, smarter, faster and to remove those archaic roadblocks. Commercial real estate is a pretty staid archaic type of market, and if we can be thoughtful and creative, that’s what we want to do. First of all it starts with our hiring and getting good people. I always talk about hiring the non-negotiables. The non-negotiables for me and having somebody come on board here is somebody who’s ethical and honest and has a fire in the belly and wants to make a positive difference in the world and make something of their lives for their families. Everything else we can teach. I can teach you commercial real estate but I can’t teach you how to be ethical and honest and have that fire in the belly. You have to have it or you don’t. That’s where we start. And then in my hiring practices, I changed that up a number of years ago as well. I mean I used to be chief cook and bottle washer when I founded the company. Now the way we hire is that let’s say, somebody is needed in property management. Well, the property management group goes out, they do the write-up of who they’re looking for, they go through all of the candidates as a team and figure out who they want. They then narrow it down to three people that they think that I should meet. Then I make the final decision of those two or three people, but they know who they want to be alongside

Brian Watson – and they want someone who’s going to work hard and not be the weak link of the chain and drop the ball. It’s a beautiful hiring practice that we’ve implemented that’s been very very powerful. They also understand company culture and where they want company culture to go. And so we want to hire rockstars, people who really want to go do great things, and I love building a world-class organization right here in Denver that’s competing internationally with Beijing and London and LA and New York, because we have the brain trust and the capability here in Colorado to compete and run circles around that competition, so it’s just been a lot of fun to do that.

Adam Hooper – How has the professional world of your building Northstar that translated to your run for treasurer, what are the parallels, what are the differences? How does one inform the other?

Brian Watson – Yeah, well again, it’s just using that business experience. I built the company from nothing, almost lost everything in the down economy. It was a very challenging time. I learned a lot of very valuable lessons and stood and remain strong. I want to use all that business experience, and every single day I’m looking at great investment returns and I’m the only candidate for instance, who’s ever been in a fiduciary responsibility. Every single deal I do, I have investors alongside of me with my capital and I have a fiduciary responsibility to them, and so it should be in government. It’s not the government’s money, it’s the people’s money and you need people who understand that hey, you’re in a fiduciary responsibility to represent the people and do what’s best for them and so, all of that. Then lastly, I would say as a business owner, you have to build consensus and regardless of one’s political affiliation you got to work with a lot of people across aisles. Building those bridges and tearing down those barriers and helping to be positive and encourage people, I think will translate very well into public service also.

Adam Hooper – Good.

Tyler Stewart – Hey Brian, going back to your halftime analogy, for our listeners out there who are in the first half and their eyes are towards success, but they know deep down they want to get to the second half and really focus their lives on serving others, what steps can they take today to start to lay that foundation?

Brian Watson – First of all, I would encourage them as well and I didn’t get to that part of my talk is to understand that you don’t know when the halftime of your life is. We assume that might be in our 40s or 50s or whatever, but the fact of the matter is each of us here on this podcast today we could be in the fourth quarter with four seconds left on the clock. None of us know. You could walk out today and get hit by a truck or you could be diagnosed with cancer and have 30 days to live, who knows what it is. The point is is to make sure that you’re living your life in a way to say hey, what’s really important to me, and what do I really want my legacy and significance to be. My stepfather went away healthy in the morning one day when I was 16 and that evening he came home and basically died on the floor in front of me from an asthma attack. He was in a meeting and a woman had cats and it triggered an asthma attack. He wasn’t planning to die that day, and at 16 years of age, I had to grow up very quickly and become the man of the house when I wasn’t expecting to do that. what I encourage the young people to do is one, read that book. If anybody wants my book they can get it, The Seven Rings. But to begin to live your life to say hey, yes I’m pursuing this thing called success and that’s okay, and that’s encouraging and honoring. But in addition, if I only had a day left to live on this planet, what do I want my legacy and significance to be? When you start making that transition, it affects all aspects of your business. I’ll give you a small example.

Brian Watson – When I go into a meeting, I’m not trying to sell anybody anything or try to extricate something from them, I’m there with open hands to say hey, what do you do, here’s what I do, are there any synergies or can we just be friends or do philanthropy together, who knows. All of a sudden, when younger people start taking that mindset, it’s going to transform their careers. Because now they’re going to build deeper relationships that are going to propel their careers to a whole ‘nother level.

Tyler Stewart – I just really encourage them to be thinking about that, not just a short run of this thing called success.

Adam Hooper – Wow, that’s great. I had some more real estate questions but I–

Brian Watson – I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to come in.

Adam Hooper – I feel like that’s a pretty, no, that’s powerful, I think that’s, that is awesome. I mean we had Kelvin Beachum on a couple episodes ago and that was a big part of his ethos too, is giving back is such a big part of what he does and you just got to do the hard work and you got to make it time. Because like you said, you don’t know, we don’t know what tomorrow brings or what the next plan is so that’s really insightful, not knowing when that halftime is, right?

Brian Watson – Yeah, exactly, and the giving back thing, it’s kind of an interesting thing. What I’ve learned in life is that the more that I give back, the more that I get. It’s not this kind of prophecy of oh, give and you’ll get, just give because it’s the right thing to do and make a positive impact because it’s the right thing to do and you will just sit down one day and say, “Wow, I just can’t believe all of these great things that have happened just because I took a different mindset” and it’s a lot of fun, but anyway.

Adam Hooper – Great, we’ll definitely put links to both Halftime and in your book in the podcast and the show notes so people can have access to that. Just a couple of more questions, we’ll round it out here. For early investors, passive investors that are maybe looking at this asset class, any words of advice or again, maybe some top questions to ask that are looking at getting in this asset class that maybe again don’t come from a real estate background?

Brian Watson – Well I would say to anyone, I mean you look at real estate and the wealth that it’s created, most people in the world, real estate is definitely a component of their wealth creation. And you look at the tax benefits and the leverage benefits and everything, I absolutely love real estate. I’m very impassioned about what I do. I encourage investors, there’s all different kinds of real estate to invest in and depending on your risk profile, depending on what you want to achieve with your money, and what you also like investing in. It should also be fun, you should actually enjoy what you’re investing in. If you can combine those together, it becomes very, very powerful but like anything, it’s a risk, it’s an investment. Do your homework, make sure you’re investing for the right reasons and then do it in a consistent basis. Don’t put it all down on one property. Diversify, do your homework and be very patient and see how people perform over time.

Adam Hooper – I think that’s pretty well summed up.

Brian Watson – Well, we tried, doing a little while.

Adam Hooper – Yeah, so how can listeners keep up to speed on everything that you’ve got going on both Northstar, the run for treasurer and other philanthropic efforts? Is there any best way to keep in contact with you?

Brian Watson – You can go to our website which is Northstarcp as in Northstarcp.com or you can type it all out, either way it sends you there. We have an investor portal that people can get blogs and information. Obviously, we’ll continue to do things with RealCrowd and I really liked that partnership and relationship. Me on a personal level you can go to brianwatson.us to get information on all of my different philanthropic efforts. and business efforts, etc. And if anybody’s in Denver, look us up, and again really appreciate just being on the show and also all the great things that you’re doing, and as I said looking forward to growing the relationship over time.

Adam Hooper – Likewise, we appreciate very much as well, Brian and glad we can after all these years finally be working together and have you on the podcast.

Brian Watson – Well, we’ll do a lot more, thank you so much.

Adam Hooper – Alright, thanks and listeners out there, as always if you have any questions or comments, please send us an email to podcast@realcrowd.com. With that, we’ll catch you on the next one.

Tyler Stewart – Hey listeners, if you enjoyed this episode, be sure to enroll on our free six-week course on the fundamentals of commercial real estate investing. Head to realcrowduniversity.com to enroll for free today. In RealCrowd University, real estate experts will teach you the important fundamentals, like the start with risk approach, how to evaluate real estate sponsors, what to look for in the legal documents and much more. Head to realcrowduniversity.com to enroll for free today. Hope to see you there.

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