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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    South Auckland
    Posts
    106

    Default The Journey - Chris Ashenden

    Hello All.

    I don’t traditionally initiate too many posts but with a little pushing from Marcus et al I am going to post the story of my real estate investing so far. A bit of a warning….It is not a brief story as I have fired in a number of posts and emails that I made at various time’s along the way. I hope you enjoy the reading for I have definitely enjoyed the journey............

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I first read Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki about 6 years ago. I can remember thinking at the time that the ideas were solid and that I should take some action. I did nothing. I think I bought each of Robert Kiyosaki’s books as they came out, and I can even remember trying his basic debt reduction strategy and giving up after about a month. Suffice to say I continued my poor financial ways, although it wasn't too bad initially as I couldn't borrow much “consumer” money.

    As a young man I started and failed in a couple of “S” quadrant job type businesses while spending time at University. I say spending because I definitely wasn’t studying and my life was basically going nowhere. However I did have a bit of fun. I was quite entrepreneurial in my own way so I decided to quit Uni, pitched my then part time employer and he became an investor in my first attempt at a proper business. For a number of reasons (which I won’t go into here but which all rhyme with Chris Ashenden) this business failed in fairly spectacular fashion. This left me feeling betrayed, very broke, and very depressed. It also left me feeling sorry for myself.

    -NOTE: I failed to take responsibility for what happened in this business failure for FIVE years, basically until Keith Cunningham made got me to take a long hard look in the mirror, but at the time, I was the ‘victim’ from hell and I let my self confidence plummet. It was all “someone else’s fault”. Looking back at it now I was my own wet fish, feel free to slap me for it if we ever meet-

    I lost around $10,000 in this venture which while isn’t much to me now was a killer then. Luckily the only debt I had was a $1,400 phone bill so I did a bunch of odd jobs to cover my food bills (including time as a car wholesaler, cold calling dealers – which though I didn’t realize it at the time was great sales and rejection training) then while trying to get out of the hole that I had dug I took a career change and in 2000 graduated from the NZ Police – and suddenly everyone wanted to give me a credit card, HP or personal loan. This was bad, very bad, and by March 2002 I had a net worth of - (MINUS) $62000. My net income after tax and before living expenses and debt servicing was about $440 a week. I was living way beyond my means and spending about 120% of my weekly income. I’m sure you can do the math. It wasn't very pretty.

    I didn’t really see it coming at the time but I looking back now I realize that my level of self-discontent was growing towards action status.

    I read Real Estate Riches by Dolf de Roos in late February 2002. For some reason the combination of discontent and reading this book gave me an absolute kick in the pants. I became consumed with real estate, financial literacy and wealth/freedom creation and began devouring everything I could see on the subject. I physically looked at over 300 houses inside a 2 month period. I think I went to every open home in Avondale and Mt Albert, dutifully making notes on every property that I saw. After all that I only made ONE offer and it wasn't accepted.

    In March or April I read JB's "Money Secrets of the Rich" and decided that this guy told money how it was and gave more 'how to' than any other author that I had found at that point. I liked everything I read by him but decided at the time that his "wrap" idea wasn't for me as I wanted long term ownership.

    I kept looking at houses and after responding to a newspaper add that seemed to be showing incredible yields I discovered the property market in Southland. Spotting the fact that rents had more than DOUBLED and prices were just starting to catch up I saw the potential at the time. I was then (and still am) a cashflow buyer. More importantly I was learning my lessons about leverage on my time and I started interviewing agents over the phone in Invercargill. I proceeded to make over 100 written offers over the next three months of which 11 were accepted. After selling my car and using credit cards for deposits (not highly recommended) I eventually purchased 8 houses and settled the first on May 15, 2002, less than 90 days from reading my first book on real estate. I settled the other 7 staggered over the next two months.

    - NOTE: Most people at this point ask me how I bought these houses when I was 62K in consumer debt. I’m not going to tell you so you will have to BUY MY BOOK. I’m just kidding, I don’t have a book. If you recall that I had made my one offer on a house in Auckland. This property was the worst house on a good street. The owner had lived there for 5 years and never spent a cent on ANY maintenance so the property had a lawn consisting of bamboo that was higher than the house and on the inside… Well, let’s just say that she had some big ‘ole cockroaches in there. I knew all this was easy to fix and so immediately made a very low offer subject to finance. No one had offered on this property in six months of being on the market so with absolutely no money or financing in place I proceeded to go home and absolutely S*** myself that the vendor might actually say yes. As fate would have it, some one else bid 4K more than me the same evening with a cash offer so they got the house. This individual immediately spent about $5K removing the bamboo and cleaning it up and two weeks later sold it cash unconditionally for $50K more than he paid for it. I realized then that while I had the right idea I was on the wrong track with both my time and the financing. Sorry, I digress. How did I get the money for the Invercargill houses? My mother who had initially been rather skeptical now offered me her individual life savings of $3,000, for which I gave her 10% of my new company. More to the fact I then proceeded to sell my car, got a couple of consolidation loans and using credit cards as the deposits, bought a bunch of very cheap houses, which were yielding between 16-20% on purchase price. I don’t recommend the practice of using credit cards to anyone. Everyone can read that, so enough said. -

    Still devouring information I discovered the john burley forum while reading through creonline (another US property forum). I searched the whole thing for NZ, read everything apart from personal chats and eventually plucked up the courage to make a few posts. This resulted in coffee with a regular contributor from the website which was very rewarding. This individual was incredibly helpful and even though I had not asked a real question on the forum at that time I had my first introduction to the power of the SHARING that is such a part of propertytalk and a (rare) few other websites as well as the reality of an abundance mentality. I met a number of posters from the JB forum over the next couple of months and I have to say that taking people in the know who have DONE it out for a lunch/coffee will frequently be the one of the best investments you can make.

    At this time I did a residential do up in Epsom (pp 300K, spent 27K, after repaired RV 450K) which my girlfriend kept in her name and also a JV on a small commercial property deal in Newmarket where I got to borrow against the property if I could add 50% to its value. I managed to do this in three weeks and had myself a hard money investor (a bit like a line of credit).

    I staggered off track for a couple of months while trying to start a business with/for my partner. During the course of this I took NO action in RE for about 7 or 8 months other than structuring these few deals with/for my then girlfriend. I just read. I went to JB’s seminar in Auckland in November (my first ever) and it was pretty cool but I still took no real action. This was mainly due to my fear that if I stuffed something up I could jeopardize my girlfriend's new business. This was not a risk I was prepared to take at the time although I now admit that it was entirely psychobabble.

    By January 2003 I had listened to every one of JB's tape sets and taking all of my various lunch mentor’s advice to heart I trudged off and met each of the advisors they suggested. When I had completed this, I phoned an individual who was playing aggressively in the market at the time and met him for lunch. This was great for me as it reaffirmed to me that my passion was in the game of RE and finance. In meeting this individual it also gave me a living example of what I had long considered to be a key to success. Dream VERY BIG, start small, break it into small steps and try and SYSTEMITIZE the whole thing so that it can grow itself. It also got me severely amped to get back into the game.

    -NOTE: This individual turned out to be a fraud and a clown but I learnt a bunch -

    Three weeks later other circumstances resulted in me and my girlfriend deciding to can our attempted business venture. While we were heavily out of pocket to the tune of $38,000 I was relieved and decided that it was past time to get back into my game.

    It was now February 2003 and three months earlier I had successfully refinanced all of my Invercargill Properties, paying back all my credit cards. I decided to take stock of my situation and bought out my mother’s 10 percent stake in my little business. To do this, I paid her back her original $3000, plus a little over $15,000, which was her equity value of 10% at the time. Suffice to say, she was reasonably happy with her investment 

    If you will recall less than one year previously I was over $60,000 in debt.

    Looking at it, I had gone from minus $62,000 in debt, to eight houses, a net worth of over $120,000 (180K turn around) and by helping someone else make some money, now had access to some hard investor money. I decided it was time to start playing the game properly.

    Total over being a policeman and deciding to own the South Auckland market I started looking for agents and kicked it up a new gear from the beginning of March 2003. I took all of my annual leave and I made about 350 WRITTEN offers in that month, of which I think only about 150 were presented as I wanted them to be. By the time I got my act together and started to figure out what I needed half of March was gone. It didn't matter too much as in the next week I had eight offers accepted. These ranged from 67-80% of RV, all in the Auckland region, in a rising market. So basically while my strategy has changed over time the deals were and continue to be out there

    I got finance for all eight but three were sold out from under me by a vendor while on contract, one after we had gone unconditional. This was a lesson in itself but I won't relate it now. Suffice to say neither I nor the RE company who had the sole agency with them, will deal with the vendors again.

    I settled on the other five houses at the end of the month of March. My target was ten on contract so I was a little disappointed, but not too badly.

    Having used up all my annual leave I quit the police to pursue property full time on the 2nd of April 2003. Three days later, I attended Keith Cunningham’s Business School for Entrepreneurs (then called the Keith Cunningham Mentoring Program). Without a doubt, this program is the best thing I have done – it completely changed my life and I am eternally grateful for attending. I also sometimes shudder and wonder “what would have been” if I had not attended. If you seriously want to achieve spectacular things in your life, then you owe it to yourself to go. Here is the first email I sent my Keith group, the first weekend after session one on this course:

    “One week ago I was reborn.

    The catalyst - a weekend in a room full of loving, inspiring and supportive people, and an hour in the cauldron with Keith J Cunningham.

    Wow! What a feeling. Thank you Group Six. Thank you Keith Cunningham. And thank you Sandi Cunningham and Rita Davis.

    I have been wandering around the last week, completely satisfied in just getting to know myself again.

    What a feeling!

    I love this feeling. So I decided to share it. By midday Monday I had persuaded my older sister Liana that Keith’s program was something that she needed to do. She had spent the weekend watching the light in Mae and my eyes grow and grow. I took care of the costs and Keith and Rita squeezed her in for Sydney Group 7.

    Wow! Thank you Keith and Rita for your generosity of spirit and support in this.

    I spoke to Liana today and WOW WOW WOW! I have already got my money’s worth from paying for three people to attend this program. BEST money I have ever spent.

    I spent half an hour crying in happiness with my big ‘sis. She is a different person. What a feeling!

    Thank you Keith Cunningham! And thank you Group Six!


    My thanks and love to you all,

    Chris ASHENDEN”


    And here is my second email, around the same time:


    “My only formal goal for the 120 days that Keith gave me is to write a list of 50 ‘Things I could have done’ for a failed business venture in the past, with no blame, no justification.

    I will do this by May 10th, two days after I get home from boot camp.

    For support I want to receive everyone’s progress emails. I will tell you where I am at every week. I will also ask for specific support when I can see I need it. If you can see I need it, then please give it!

    Adding a goal of my own, I guess my 120 day plan of ACTION comes down to three things:

    1) Be me
    2) List of 50 things I was responsible for in this failure, no laying blame or justifying.
    3) Make a million dollars

    See you next week.

    Chris Ashenden”


    Some people seriously don’t like wishy washy stuff like I just posted in those emails. They want hard numbers and real info. Some tangible goodies. They want to know the financial power of that course, and what they really want to know is “Did I make a million dollars in 120 days after sending this email?”

    The answer: No, I did not. It took me a further three and a half months to do it.

    Six and a half months from that first session, I had made a million dollars. I did this by trading a few houses and buying and keeping 33 and with the purchase of that 33rd house, I had created a million dollars in net worth since attending Keith’s first session in April. At this time, I was 26 years old, and 2 months out from my 27th birthday. I was also only 18 months past the reality of being $62K in debt and living on 120% a week of my income and now instead found myself with a net worth of over 1.2 million (none of it capital gain) and relatively passive income that was over four times my previous net Police salary. Financially free, I though this was all pretty cool stuff, so I decided to keep at it.

    Like I said, you should go to Keith.

    I kept chugging along at about the same rate and soon found myself with a bunch of cash, so I figured I should buy a non-property related business. After a bit of looking I decided to buy a Mr Rentals store (in Invercargill), since Graeme had done it and thought it was cool the numbers looked good and I had a fantastic operator to go into it with in Southland. Around the same time I bought into this, I also somehow got myself a bunch of staff, some investors, the rights to a new business in NZ, and four times my previous fixed overhead in a property investment company that could only survive if it achieved massive growth. At a time when my business needed me more than anything else I broke up with my girlfriend (who had become my fiancé) and faced losing half of what I had, three businesses that were now all cashflow negative, and a hard money investor who elected to call their loan in 3 years early due to their relation to my former fiancé.

    Times were not so flash. Despite my lessons I was not taking responsibility for what was going on around me and I lost nearly all my motivation. I was an idiot in many ways and I now formally take responsibility for losing over $400,000 in cash in the early and middle months of 2004. Life went on and I slowly pulled myself out of the hole that I had dug. I was no longer the animal that I had been in terms of dedication and commitment to growing an empire and I accept that it was my failure to bite the bullet and get things sorted that cost me the bulk of that lost money. Paying out the ex and cutting checks for the investor was harsh but fair and I have no regrets on that at all. The net worth however, took a serious hiding. 

    To me, the ability to take responsibility for where you are in life is a mindset that is paramount above all else other than the corresponding ability to take massive action.

    ………So I took my little sister on a holiday to Europe for month for her birthday present, so we could hang out with my big sister who lives in England. As a bi-product, I cleared my head sufficiently by the time I got back to face the mirror and pull out the butchers knife (This is a saying of Keith’s….if you are going to get cut (go through some pain) do you want to do it sharply and quickly with a butchers knife, or saw away with a butter knife?). Realizing that my existing format wasn’t working for me, I fired my buying and selling team (3 contractors), moved my office into an empty house in my market area and proceeded to look for the right people while aggressively addressing both my efficiency and my effectiveness in business. This I did to a reasonable degree and I promptly hired a new in-house sales lady who has gone off ever since, and a few months later a full time in-house buyer. While all this was going on, and despite still lacking in the motivation department, I continued to stay reasonably active in the property market.

    This process has continued until present day and my team is just getting better and better.

    In my current format (which will last either until I find something new to do or get fired up again) I work 15-25 hours a week, plus maybe 10 hours on the phone, with occasional ebbs and gusts of 10 hours less or more per week. I could honestly do a great deal less time input but I’d feel bad shaving and I haven’t found much else better to do (I am looking, however). I am going away for to Europe for the month of June and I will only need to put in an hour at most a week while away. As a benchmark I am one of the top three buyers in my market place (which is South Auckland almost exclusively). The Mr Rental’s has been cashflow positive since early April 05, my other little business venture has doubled my money in a year, I have a small bridging finance outfit and I currently have an equity stake of some form in over 80 residential properties. Some 40 odd of these are 100% mine, and the rest with investors. (I had a higher ratio of houses in my control until the break up with my ex.) All businesses in my direct control are back to pumping cash.

    As an REI benchmark I am buying on average 4 to 6 houses a month. If six were bought, typically 4 would be traded, one kept by me and perhaps one either assigned to an investor or bought in a joint venture with an investor. Until the end of last year the ratio was the other way round, with maybe 4 kept (myself or with investors) and the rest traded. I have changed to meet 1) the market, 2) my borrowing ability and 3) my cash requirements. In terms of what sort of deals I have done you can just about name it, as with the exception of full scale development I have just about tried it all…..buy and holds, lease options, wraps, trading, assignments, a subdivision (sold it before divided it in the end -22 section site), do ups, bridging finance for other investors ya di ya di ya. To this end and for those who want a number I have been dealer principal (either bought and kept, bought and traded, or assigned a deal) now in upwards of 130 transactions.

    My goal is to continue to do about five or six deals a month, stockpiling cash so that by the end of November/December I have completely paid off the ex, stabilized all of my business interests, and have sufficient cash to make serious (and liquid) buying decisions about the next direction to take in my life.

    I give my thanks to you all for sharing, for learning, for growing as people as well as investors, and ultimately, for giving me the opportunity to do so as well.

    Chris Ashenden - May 2005
    © Copyright Chris Ashenden 2005

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    7,638

    Default

    Chris,

    Wow what a fantastic post - I haven't it all yet but I have made it a 'sticky' so it won't get lost down the queue of new posts.

    Thanks for the contribution.

    Cheers,

    Donna :P
    PropertyTalk Blog - property articles

    BusinessBlogs - the best business articles are found here



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tokyo
    Posts
    132

    Default

    Wow Chris, excellent, great read. So many questions don't know where to start... Did you actually go down to Invercargill to buy the properties? Or did you do everything from AKL? How did you manage to keep getting mortgages, consolidation loans etc? The $3,000 from Mom can't have helped much. I guess being a police officer was key?

    What was it about Keith Cunningham’s Business School for Entrepreneurs that lead to your spiritual epiphany? Inspiring and supportive people is all good but...? Won't bore you with more questions but thanks for sharing.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Whangamata, NZ
    Posts
    18

    Default

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for sharing, it is an inspiring read.

    Scott.

  5. #5

    Default

    Osum post Chris. Great to see what you're been up to since your posts on the JB forum. I think it was about May 03 that I remember your last progress post on the JB forum. I'm sure with your knowledge and skills it won't belong before we will be hearing about your new successes on PT. I for one look forward to them.
    Cheers Holly

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    South Auckland
    Posts
    106

    Default

    Hello DonnaK,

    It is my pleasure. As for the sticky thing I was going to ask someone what that is all about

    Chris Ashenden
    © Copyright Chris Ashenden 2005

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    South Auckland
    Posts
    106

    Default

    Hello Robot,

    Thank YOU my friend and there is no problems with the questions.

    Q: Did you actually go down to Invercargill to buy the properties? Or did you do everything from AKL?

    I did it all from Auckland. I followed a bunch of rules and even though I never looked at the houses, a number of different people did look at them and I proceeded based on the different feedback. I learnt a BUNCH about the power of leverage on other people's time, other peoples skill sets, and other peoples networks, it was great. I saw the houses for the first time only a year ago when I went down to Invercargill to find a site for the Mr Rentals store. With the exception of that very first house that I bought, I have NEVER paid retail or anywhere near it for any prpoerty, and all the other properties I purchased down there I made money the day I settled.

    Q:How did you manage to keep getting mortgages, consolidation loans etc? The $3,000 from Mom can't have helped much. I guess being a police officer was key?

    Hey man the $3K was HYUUUGE at the time. . I was on a 45K per annum salary which isn't huge BUT I was a government official and employee so that definitely helped for creditbility and reliability of income, but not too much in terms of seviceability. I got a cheap consolidation loan from the Police Credit Union that bundled a great deal of the loans together at only about 11.5% interest on a long term loan. They took the money straight out of my pay and took security over my tiny superannuation so I think the banks largely just looked at what was left in my salary. Also, then, like now, I only buy a property that will boost my debt servicing ability, so by the time I had refinanced the Invercargill properties and paid out the consumer debts and loans I was in a far superior borrowing position compared to where I was originally. Now most banks just see me as being too rent reliant and having grown too fast.

    Q: What was it about Keith Cunningham’s Business School for Entrepreneurs that lead to your spiritual epiphany? Inspiring and supportive people is all good but...?

    You have some good questions mate and this is probably the best one. Best for me because I get to rant and best for you because if you take my advice you will NOT regret it and I guarantee that you will walk out of that first session a happier Robot.

    To your question - As I mentioned in the original post, the ability to take responsibility for your circumstances is very very powerful and also very enlightening. So too is being able to reach inside for that which powers you most and use it to align yourself with where you want to go. I would call this the WHY. Figure those two out alone and you will knock over nearly any goal post in sight and do it EASILY. Most people talk a great deal of crap as it relates to their goals and what they WANT, the reality is, if they really wanted it, really really wanted it, and had known that for even a short while, they would already HAVE it. Keith's power is his ability to listen and discern exactly what's going on and where you at from what you a saying. Think of keith as a coach, a coach who has been there and done that AND mastered the art of teaching what he knows. Keith will help you take your life and your business to the next level like you won't believe is possible. You have to want to do it, but as long as you do, Keith will DEFINITELY be the fasted resource to help you find the way.

    As for a spiritual epiphany.....I was just loving the feeling of velocity that I generated on myself after attending that first session. I was totally in the zone for a year after that course and IT IS THE FINEST FEELING I have ever had. It is seriously cool mate. And very very powerful.

    As for crying, well, I was just happy to see what was going on now for both of us, so was my sis. Besides, I cry a lot

    Here's a question for you Robot - If you know you want spectacular things in your life, if you know you want to take your game to the next level, and if you have the testimonials of a bunch of people saying that that is exactly what happened on that couse, why would you NOT go to Keith?

    Keep the questions coming mate.

    Regards,

    Chris Ashenden
    © Copyright Chris Ashenden 2005

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    South Auckland
    Posts
    106

    Default

    Hello Vdoubleyou,

    Thank you mate and you are welcome.

    I am stoked you found it inspiring. I quess my next question would be what am I inspiring you to DO?



    Regards,

    Chris Ashenden
    © Copyright Chris Ashenden 2005

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    South Auckland
    Posts
    106

    Default

    Hello Holly,

    Thank you. I'll try to think of something!

    Regards,

    Chris Ashenden
    © Copyright Chris Ashenden 2005

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Wellington
    Posts
    2,776

    Default

    Hi Chris

    Can I buy you lunch?

    Nice post

    Cheers
    Spaceman


 

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