All Posts by Carole Ellis

About the Author

Carole Ellis is the host of Real Estate Investing Today, a popular 9-minute daily podcast focused on educating real estate investors about the important topics that will make their investing SAFER, FASTER, and MORE PROFITABLE. She's also the editor of the Bryan Ellis Investing Letter. She has more than a decade's worth of experience in and reporting on the real estate industry and, additionally, has written dozens of courses on the topic. Carole lives in Kennesaw with her husband, Bryan, and four children. She believes wholeheartedly that your best investment is always your OWN education.

Jan 02

Case Study: Multifamily Real Estate Success Story – Art F. ($128,450)

By Carole Ellis | News , REI Today Podcast

Investor: Art F.
State: Massachusetts
Investment Type: Multifamily
Total Funding: $50,000 in hand + $78,450 processing = $128,450

When Maryland Investor Art F. first started buying multifamily properties, he did so in a manner very similar to that employed by other investors getting started in the business: he found a good deal on a multifamily property that needed some work, purchased the property, then set about rehabbing it so that he could install tenants and start generating monthly cash flow.

However, Art did one thing very differently: he did not take out a loan in order to do the rehab and repairs. Instead, he made the state government pay for them!

“I went to the Worcester, Massachusetts website and found HOME (the Massachusetts HOME Investment Partnerships Program) and other grants for low income rental property,” Art said. The HOME program is a funding program for which investors are eligible (this is unusual because most state and federal funding is tailored to homeowners). Art talked to city officials within the program, wrote and submitted a proposal and shortly thereafter received a grant of $50,000.

“We expect to receive additional grants of $40,750 and $38,000,” he added gleefully, noting that his proposal scored third out of 22 submissions, thereby positioning him for the additional funding.

Art credited his success in gaining access to this money, which will enable him to rehab the property without taking out loans, to Chris Johnson’s grant funding guide and personal assistance with the proposal.

“I sent Chris a copy to review,” he recounted, adding that the materials in the course helped him achieve his proposal’s high score. “Thank you!” he concluded.

Want to hear more? Sign up for the free training THIS THURSDAY here.




Dec 19

How to Flip Apartments for 6-Digit Profits | Episode 20

By Carole Ellis | REI Today Podcast

CLICK HERE to register for tomorrow’s training.

How would you like to know the LITTLE SECRET to doing HUGE, six-figure flips in a simple, predictable, HIGHLY REPEATABLE way? If four- and five-digit profits just aren’t big enough for you anymore, then you’re going to love today’s episode. I’m Carole Ellis. This is Episode 20.


Seriously guys? Four- and five-digit profits aren’t enough anymore? Okay, okay, I get it. If you could make $100,000 or MORE every time you did a deal, you’d certainly have to do fewer of them, and I imagine we could all find great things to do with that time, like spending time with our loved ones or pursuing passions outside of real estate. But let’s face it: the majority of the deals you do in residential real estate are going to net you profits with four and five digits, not six or seven. If you want those bigger numbers, then you’re going to have to do something that today’s guest refers to as “becoming someone’s JOB.” I’ll explain what she means by that and how it can – and should – revolutionize the way you think about your involvement in real estate today.

First, however, I’ve got some other HUGE news that has a much smaller price tag – just about three digits. According to the American Society of Landscape Architects – did you even KNOW there was such a society? That’s what I love about real estate – there is a society or data giant out there for EVERY TOPIC! Anyway, according to the ASLA, this spring’s homebuyer is loving the outdoors more than ever, and that means that adding a small upgrade to any home can, in effect, add the entire square footage of the yard TO YOUR LIVING SPACE! Want to know more? Head on over to the News & Networking section at www.REI.Today and check out the “Lesson Learned” section in our Must-Have Upgrade for 2016 report.

Now, back to what I know has you drooling…those six-digit profits. To talk about buying TRULY BIG in real estate, I brought in a lady who knows the big business of real estate – and don’t get scared, but I’m going to go ahead and tell you these types of profits require investments with the word “commercial” in the title – inside and out. Her name is Sue Nelson, and when I asked her for a headline that encapsulated her real estate investing experience, she came up with this beauty: “Struggling art teacher turned real estate investor purchases 2,000 apartments so she can stay home with her toddler and infant children. If she can do it, so can you.” That’s a good summary of her bio in less than 30 words, but I’m going to give you just a little bit more. This commercial real estate dynamo’s name is Sue Nelson, and she started investing in commercial real estate when her daughter was born. Sue’s daughter had some serious health complications as a baby and, like any parent, Sue knew that she would have to do whatever it took to take care of that little girl (oh, and her 18-month-old at the time brother as well). Unlike most people, however, Sue thought much bigger than you might expect. While a lot of us might think “I need to learn to wholesale three-bedroom/two-bath houses,” Sue decided she’d start with a 104-unit apartment complex.

Here’s why that made sense, and why Sue was successful in her own words from an exclusive Q&A Interview with Real Estate Investing Today:

“I actually thought originally that I’d buy a three-family triplex,” Sue says, adding that this deal quickly turned into “a nightmare.” She explained that she quickly discovered that managing the small property was going to be very difficult because, in her words, “it was nobody’s job but mine!” Essentially, Sue discovered on her first foray into real estate investing that for her, the key was going to be investing SO BIG that someone ELSE’S LIVELIHOOD depended on her deals. Pretty gutsy, huh? But hey, it makes sense! So Sue starting thinking and looking for cash-flowing deals that were bigger – about 101 units bigger, to be exact. “An apartment complex is someone’s job,” she explained. “The manager, the maintenance crew, those people have to CARE about the property because if they don’t, then they don’t have a job anymore. So if a property is cash-flowing” (and I should note here that Sue has a unique cash-flow analyzer that helps her identify the right types of deals that matter in the right way to the people involved in that cash-flow process and to future buyers of those deals) “then I know that it’s a deal I can do whether I’m nearby or far away.”

So Sue plugged this 104-unit apartment complex into her cash-flow analyzer and decided it was big enough to be important and that the cash-flow was such that she’d be able to find a buyer. She took the deal to her attorney to have some paperwork drawn up and the guy took one look and said hey, why don’t you just sell this thing to me and I’ll pay you $120,000 for it. And thus, Sue was hooked and her commercial real estate career was born. I’ll let her tell you about that part, because I couldn’t possibly say it any better.

Sue said, “Oh my God. Well, that launched me, because I realized if someone would buy these deals from me, I could stop right there. That was actually five years of art teaching! So I closed it, and I just kept replicating the process.”

Now, since that time, Sue has done more than just “replicate the process.” She’s been a commercial buying MACHINE, and she’s got a pretty great system down pat that has enabled her to, well, let me just give you a few more quick examples:

*Help a student buy 242 units for $7 million without laying out any of his own money

*Work with a stay-at-home grandmother to “Flip” an entire apartment complex for a fast $180,000


If those numbers are sounding “IMPORTANT” enough to you, then you’ll want to hear EVERYTHING Sue has to say, including the details on those and lots more deals that she’s done over the past decade. Can’t wait to hear more? Head on over to to get the full scoop right now. That’s, because IMPORTANT is our word of the day. Admit it: now you’re feeling like six-digit profits are the ONLY WAY TO GO, so head over to right now to take this IMPORTANT TRAINING right away.

When you do that, you’ll also be able to GROW YOUR NETWORK by interacting with me and your fellow listeners to REI Today… so stop by to ask questions, make comments and network with other investors across the country in addition to having the chance to interact directly with Sue herself.

REI Nation, thanks for listening in. Now, more than ever, please remember this:

Your best investment is ALWAYS your own education.



Dec 19


By Carole Ellis | News , REI Today Exclusive Content , REI Today Podcast

Sign Up for Training NOW

How would you feel if I could distill the entire process involved in flipping commercial real estate on a MASSIVE SCALE into just four simple steps AND throw in there the key to surviving the NEXT REAL ESTATE CRASH IN STYLE? You’d be HUGELY excited! Good news. I’m Carole Ellis, and my guest, Sue Nelson, who has purchased thousands of apartments in her decade of commercial real estate investing, will break the entire process down for you today in Episode 21.

So let’s get right down to the four green flags you’re looking for when you’re thinking about investing in an apartment building. Now, for the sake of clarity, let’s take just a minute to define “apartment building.” If you listened to episode 20 (and if you haven’t, I HIGHLY recommend you do so immediately after you finish this one because my expert has a VERY UNIQUE way of looking at real estate deals that will truly revolutionize the process for you should you choose also to adopt it), then you know that Sue is not a big fan of the “small potatoes” apartment complex, say duplexes, triplexes, and quadplexes. So during this podcast, when we say “apartments” or “multifamily buildings” or “units,” just bear in mind, we’re talking BIG. And don’t let that intimidate you, because Sue is a true expert on the process of buying these things without using your own money and on flipping these things for fast, massive profits.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get into the four things that Sue says you must do in order to know that an apartment deal is worth investing your time. If you’re just tuning in, our expert, Sue, is a long-time commercial real estate investing expert who has done it all and done it big for many years. She started out, however, as an art teacher, and only started flipping mega-properties when her daughter was born with some health issues. Sue tackled a 104-unit building as a “starter project” and literally made five times her teaching salary with one deal and never looked back. And speaking of not being intimidated, I can’t tell you how many times Sue said during the course of our exclusive interview with her, “If I can do it, anyone can!” And with these four “green flags” as a guideline, you’ll find it easy to believe her!

So, I asked Sue directly, “What are the things that you must check off on the list that would let you – or anyone doing this type of real estate – that they had a great deal.” Well, she’s a very methodical lady, and it turns out she has just such a checklist! And she agreed to share it here.

So, first of all, Sue checks cash flow. If the building doesn’t cash flow, then there is too much risk, she explained. That’s the first and biggest checkmark in the box.

Next, Sue evaluates the occupancy of the building. Occupancy is, as you might have guessed, the number of occupants in the building or, more specifically, the number of units that are occupied. “I usually only buy if the property is 85 percent or more occupied,” Sue told me, adding that in her opinion, numbers lower than 85 percent add too much risk to a deal and make it less attractive to investors and buyers.

Thirdly, Sue said, she evaluates the rehab costs on a building. Now, Sue gets a LOT of her properties from banks which is, much like the rest of commercial real estate, kind of an intimidating concept for a lot of people. However, Sue has certain MAGIC WORDS that she says to bankers that basically cause them to sit up, pay attention, and open up those REO (that’s real estate owned) books and start selling at a discount. If you want those words, by the way, as well as the ENTIRE, firsthand explanation from Sue about how to leverage these four green flags, head over to right now and register for Sue’s limited-time training. Returning to rehab, though, Sue looks for relatively low rehab costs so that she can add value to the property quickly not by fixing it up, but by, as she puts it, increasing income or decreasing expenses. And she’s not unclear: “I am not looking for large rehab deals,” she said on no uncertain terms.

Finally, Sue buys in what she calls “decent neighborhoods.” It is very, very difficult to fix a neighborhood, she warned me, adding that some areas – and you know what she’s talking about! – have a culture of non-repair that can really bog your projects down. “As much as you are dying to fix the world and help dilapidated areas, it’s very difficult to do that,” she said, pointing out it’s also very difficult to get other investors to invest in or buy those projects outright.

So there you have them, ladies and gentlemen. Four simple, straightforward green flags for buying BIG and doing BIG DEALS that should SELL FAST in commercial real estate, where six- and seven-digit deals are not at all uncommon. “When I have broken those rules, that’s when I’ve gotten in trouble,” Sue told me, and added that in her opinion, “If you follow those rules, you make it very, very possible that you are going to stay out of trouble regardless if we experience another 2008 market crash.” Given that she invested profitably and productively THROUGHOUT the crash, I’d listen to her on that one!

Now if you like what you’re hearing – and I know you do – in terms of clear, concise instructions for making big, BIG deals that probably seemed unimaginable for you before you started listening to this exclusive interview series with Sue happen in YOUR REAL ESTATE INVESTING BUSINESS, then you need to head over RIGHT NOW to to sign up for Sue’s extended, limited-time, FREE TRAINING. That’s When you do that, you’ll be able to not only get Sue’s personal, extended teachings on just how to make this stuff work, but you’ll also be able to view real-life case studies about how she did it. So RUN, don’t walk over to and get on that class roster before we run out of room.

And once you’ve registered for the class, take a minute to review our other materials from Sue on the website at You’ll see other podcasts, news and reporting on the topic, and far, far more insightful stuff that will make your real estate investing business safer, faster, and more profitable.

When you do that, you’ll also be able to GROW YOUR NETWORK by interacting with me and your fellow listeners to REI Today… so stop by to ask questions, make comments and network with other investors across the country in addition to having the chance to interact directly with Sue herself.

REI Nation, thanks for listening in. Now, more than ever, please remember this:

Your best investment is ALWAYS your own education.

Jul 08

ETHICAL CHANGES to Twitter Usage that could cost you EVERYTHING | Episode 93

By Carole Ellis | REI Today Podcast

What if your TWEETS are violating certain codes of real estate ethics and advertising that could put you on the LOSING END of a lawsuit? I’ll tell the latest in new Twitter-verse regulations for real estate professionals in today’s episode. I’m Carole Ellis. This is episode 93.

Twitter may only give you 140 characters with which to express yourself, but that doesn’t mean that your local board of realtors is going to give you a pass if you tweet something that isn’t 100-percent ABOVE BOARD with their ethics regulations. Fortunately for you (if you’re a realtor, anyway, and honestly just in general to make sure you’re practicing good real estate business) the Realtors’ Code of Ethics, which tends to keep pace with other governing bodies’ regulations and ethics requirements, has recently been revised to accommodate the new needs of tweeting real estate professionals.

There are three major changes that could mean great things for your Tweet promotions, but make sure you handle them correctly or you could find yourself on the losing end of a lawsuit.

First, the issue of disclosure. Technically, until recently you were supposed to disclose your ENTIRE COMPANY NAME in every tweet, which, as you can imagine, made tweeting kind of a moot point for a lot of people. Now, however, you can simply link to a display containing information about your company, but make sure that link is in your tweets if you don’t want to find yourself facing ethics scrutiny. A lot of real estate professionals use their Twitter profile to publicize this information. It’s unclear from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) report on this subject whether or not that’s technically sufficient.

Second, and this is more of a timeframe issue, but it’s been changed because of the dynamic nature of advertising these days, if you find yourself dealing with a grievance complaint in a realtor’s association setting, then you only have about a month-and-a-half, 45 days, to wait before you get a resolution. That’s great news for everyone involved, but it does mean you had better keep up with all your deadlines because there won’t be a lot of timeline flexibility.

Thirdly, and this is important for your EMPLOYEES, ask that employees who may tweet about your business to add a disclaimer stating that their opinions are their own in their Twitter profile. This protects you not just from negative publicity if someone gets annoyed with you and tweets about it, but also protects you in the event that an employee tweets something about your company that could land you in ethical trouble. It may or may not completely cover your bases, but the NAR says it will certainly help.

Want to know more about how to legally AND effectively use Twitter in your real estate business? Check out our compilation of Twitter Tips and Legal Tricks in the REI Today Vault at It’s labeled with this episode number 93, and it’s full of information that will make your tweeting more effective and help keep you within the bounds of safety and ethics while you Tweet as well. Not yet a member of the REI Today Vault? Get your access right now! Join right now by texting REITODAY no spaces no periods to 33444. When you do, I’ll provide you with fast, immediate access to the report as well as a lot of other timely, insightful, PRACTICAL information that will help make your investing safer, faster, and more profitable.

And folks, remember, when you join the Vault you join our community, which means you have the opportunity to network with me, my guests, and your fellow listeners across the country. So go ahead right now and text REITODAY no spaces no periods to 33444 or visit us online at

REI Nation, thanks for listening in and please always remember this:


Jul 08

the OFFICIAL WORST PLACE TO LIVE in the United States | Episode 92

By Carole Ellis | REI Today Podcast

Wouldn’t you want to know if YOUR CITY was the official WORST PLACE TO LIVE in the United States? I’ll have the identity of the metro area earning that dubious distinction in today’s episode, along with how you can turn that title to your advantage if you live or invest there. I’m Carole Ellis. This is Episode 92.

So what’s the worst city to live in in the entire country? Well, it’s probably not where you’d think. This city beat out Milwaukee, Buffalo, and Detroit for the title, and the judges of the contest, such as it is, at 24/7 Wall Street cited income inequality, high rates of violent crime, and sky-high houses prices as the reason for their decision. Oh, and the city also was recently awarded the title “rudest city in the United States” by another news and tourism outlet. So there’s that…

So what city takes the cake for unpleasantness on all sides? Well, I’ll give you a hint, it’s located in sunny southern Florida, has miles of sandy beaches, and nearly perfect weather. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, it may be hard to believe but MIAMI, Florida was named the “Worst City to Live In” in 24/7 Wall Street’s most recent awarding of the title.

Now, many fans of Miami and Miami tourism locals have been quick to point out that words like “best” and “worst” are extremely subjective, and that’s fair. However, whether you LIKE or AGREE with the results of this type of study or not, if you choose to invest in Miami (or in any other area that has recently gotten a top-10-worst bad rap) then you are going to have to deal with them because your potential buyers are going to have read them: trust me.

The best way to deal with this kind of negative publicity is to first become informed about it, then run with it. For example, in this instance, one of the main issues that the researchers cited for Miami’s low livability score is its terrible affordability when compared to other cities of similar sizes across the country. The city’s median income is about $22,000 less than the national average and housing is about $64,000 higher than the national average. Furthermore, according to the same researchers, about one in every four people in Miami live in poverty. They then went on to point out that the income gap in the city, that means the gap in earning power between the richest one percent and the AVERAGE of the other 99 percent of earners scored a 45, meaning that the top one percent earns 45 times more than the average of everyone else, making Miami’s metro area, quote, “nearly the most unequal of any U.S. city.” End quote.

So all of that sounds pretty negative on the face of it, but the important thing for YOU as an investor is to consider how relevant this is to your target market, then adjust accordingly. For example, if you are investing in luxury properties in Miami, the entire study is probably going to be largely irrelevant to your buyers because it simply does not directly affect them. On the other hand, the other “99 percent” as it were, of buyers, may find the results problematic, but if you represent a solution to their housing affordability problem (maybe via creative financing or just offering really great rental opportunities) then you’ve at least muted the study there, too. Most people will be more concerned with their personal situation than in their city’s national ranking anyway, so appealing to their personal, specific needs will quite likely resolve those issues.

The real fallout from this type of study tends to affect investors who work mainly with other INVESTORS, interestingly enough, because people with little personal interest vested in an area may opt to avoid it if they believe that it has too many negative connotations. In this case, you should simply rely on local housing TRENDS and your own personal experience, complete with evidence and case studies, to make your case for you. Investors tend to view their money without a lot of emotion, so if you can prove that your strategies work in a “top-10-worst city,” then you’ll probably be okay.

Want to see exactly why Miami got such a bad rap in 24/7 Wall Street’s study? We’ve got a bullet-point list of exactly what the problems were in the REI Today Vault at join right now by texting REITODAY no spaces no periods to 33444. When you do, I’ll provide you with fast, immediate access to the report as well as a lot of other timely, insightful, PRACTICAL information that will help make your investing safer, faster, and more profitable.

And folks, remember, when you join the Vault you join our community, which means you have the opportunity to network with me, my guests, and your fellow listeners across the country. So go ahead right now and text REITODAY no spaces no periods to 33444 or visit us online at

REI Nation, thanks for listening in and please always remember this:

Your best investment is your own education.



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