The X-ray Beam: Semi-Retired MD (Zero To Freedom Online Course)
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Welcome to another installment of the X-ray Beam series.
You are certainly in for a treat because this is the first time I have two subjects undergoing the X-ray beam at the same time, the incredibly talented dual physician couple, Leti and Kenji who are the masterminds behind Semi-Retired MD.
I had the pleasure of meeting Kenji and Leti in Washington DC during FinCon 19 and their enthusiasm for life is infectious.
This physician couple is about to offer their next installment of the informative and popular online course, “Zero To Freedom Through Cashflowing Rentals.”
[Disclaimer: If you do enroll in the “Zero To Freedom Through Cashflowing Rentals“ course, I do receive compensation via a referral bonus.]
I thought a little insight behind this talented duo would be of benefit, especially for those individuals interested in jump starting their path to financial freedom via real estate.
If you can please give a brief introduction of yourself (medical specialty, years of medical practice):
Leti: I’m a family medicine trained hospitalist.
I graduated from residency in 2011 and did a year-long fellowship in hospital medicine.
I currently work ½ time at Swedish Hospital in Seattle, WA.
Kenji: I trained in internal medicine at the University of Washington and started working as a hospitalist in 2008 at Swedish Hospital.
I’m currently a moonlighter since I spend most of my time on our real estate portfolio.
When did you know you wanted to become a doctor?
Were there any influential people or events that made you embark on this career path?
Leti: My initial drive to become a physician was that my father was a family doctor, who liked to work in developing countries.
So I spent my childhood living in places like Papua New Guinea and Pohnpei in Micronesia.
He had the opportunity to have some amazing experiences and really make a difference as a physician.
So I wanted to do the same thing.
Kenji: My father was also a physician, though he was a MD/PhD and spent most of his career in research at the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, focused on sickle cell anemia.
Because of him, I knew I wanted to be a doctor at a young age.
What were some of the deciding factors that led into choosing your medical specialties?
Were there any other specialties that you considered?
Leti: Because my plan was to work internationally, I always knew I wanted to do family medicine.
I wanted to have the ability to treat all patients and to know how to do OB.
I also really loved procedures.
Kenji: Ultimately it came down to time.
I considered the number of years of training and the freedom and flexibility.
So I focused on internal medicine, and then as a hospitalist once I had a chance to experience the week-on week-off schedule.
It seems like most individuals divide adulthood into two stages, that of working or that of being retired.
However it looks like you found a happy medium between the two, transitioning into Semi-Retired life.
Can you explain to my audience what this concept of being Semi-Retired means and how exactly did you put it into practice?
Leti: I teasingly started calling Kenji “semi-retired” several years ago after he had cut back at work to manage our real estate portfolio.
He was home a lot more, doing things like organizing our CDs and packing up our house for a move cross-country.
It was amazing to come home from a day at the hospital to find him having been happily working all day around the house.
He loved it.
So I started calling him “semi-retired,” a name we applied to our blog several years later.
To me, the name captures the lifestyle of freedom which we had built by creating a source of income from our real estate portfolio that freed us to work in medicine on our terms.
Kenji: To me, semi-retired is about having the freedom to work as little or as much as you want to.
It doesn’t mean you quit, but you have the freedom to choose.
Your website specializes in real estate and how physicians can build substantial wealth from it.
What made real estate so appealing to you and when were you first drawn into it?
Leti: I always loved property.
It’s one of the things Kenji and I figured out we shared on our very first date.
But surprisingly we didn’t even think about investing in real estate together until a couple years later when we read Rich Dad Poor Dad together and started thinking about what we wanted our life together to look like.
Kenji: I watched my parents buy student housing when I was young, and, as I grew up, I had the chance to see how it brought in income to my parents.
This led me to realize that I wanted to invest in real estate, though initially, when I started in 2001 I focused largely on appreciation plays.
It’s only when Leti and I started investing that I realized that cashflowing rentals were a much safer, better option for building wealth.
For a reader unfamiliar to your website, what are three posts you are most proud of that they can gain an insight about you and your philosophies?
We each write posts for our blog, so you can find a mix of both our voices in our work.
The three that reflect our philosophies best are:
- Kenji’s post on real estate professional tax status.
- Leti’s articles on the power of buying even just one cashflowing rental.
- Your mindset and how important it is to real estate investing.
Many physicians have been hesitant to embark on real estate investing citing lack of time and that they already have a full-time job and do not want to be woken up with a 3 am toilet call.
How do you address these concerns?
It’s all about your priorities, and what is important to you.
Ultimately if something is important enough, each of us will make the time.
You can see that with people who place exercise as a high priority for themselves.
The same can be said of real estate investing.
If you have a strong reason you want to invest (like securing your financial freedom, working in medicine on your terms, spending more time with your family), you’re going to make the time to invest in real estate.
We are all really busy and stretched thin.
The question is how important achieving financial freedom as fast as possible is to you.
This also applies to the toilet call in a lot of respects.
The easy answer to that one is that we have property managers to cover the 3am toilet calls.
The more nuanced answer is that even if we had to deal with the 3am toilet call, we’d do it.
Because, for us, this journey was all about achieving financial freedom as fast as possible, so we could enjoy it while we were still young.
We weren’t interested in being able to retire comfortably at 65.
We wanted to be able to work in medicine on our terms (Leti is ½ time and Kenji is a moonlighter) while our kids were still young and we were still healthy.
So, the hard work and sacrifices we made along the way were made with a reason.
And they were worth it.
Social media is known for people only glamorizing their wins and glossing over their losses.
Do you have any personal horror stories regarding your real estate investments? Any mistakes made along the way?
If you want to read about Kenji’s horror stories before we met, definitely check out his blog post about it.
Since we started investing together, there have been hiccups along the way.
Most of the major ones have really resulted out of us not adequately overseeing other people’s work.
For example, we bought a multifamily property in Oklahoma City, that needed major rehab, and we didn’t manage the contractor as well as we should have.
This resulted in a 6-8 week project taking in excess of 6 months.
And, as a result, we had horrendous vacancy.
Part of the error was sticking with the contractor for so long, despite the fact that he had missed deadline after deadline.
Out of that experience, we learned we had to keep on top of people much more tightly than we had been.
Ultimately, we believe, if you learn from an experience and get better as a result, it was not a complete failure.
The current global pandemic with COVID-19 has thrown the world economy for a loop.
Rising employment may put the ability of a renter to pay rent in jeopardy.
This can create a financial cascade ultimately falling on the landowner’s shoulders, especially with legislation favoring the renter and limiting the landlord to evict or foreclose.
What thoughts do you have on weathering this storm as someone who has established a real estate empire?
We’ve been preparing for a downturn for a while.
While we certainly didn’t expect everyone to be out of work for months, it is what it is, so we’re approaching it as we would with any downturn: as an opportunity to get better.
We’re already doing that by thinking creatively about how to attract good renters, keep the great one we already have, and to help our renters be able to pay their rent.
We are also actively looking to buy new properties at discounts as prices fall.
As for rising unemployment and the ability of renters to pay rent, so far, we’ve been lucky enough that most of our renters have been able to pay.
Our biggest loss so far has been our mixed-use property where the commercial tenant has not been able to keep up with rent.
Whether increased economic vacancy (due to lost rents) or physical vacancy (due to not being able to get renters to move in) will continue to be an issue 3 or 6 months from now for us though, I’m not sure.
The reason is that we are invested in B/C class multifamily properties that cashflow.
When people lose their jobs and cannot pay their mortgages or their high rents for their A class apartments, they often move into properties like ours.
So, it may be that in 3-6 months, that there is actually increased demand for our types of properties and our vacancy rates are down and our rents are increasing.
Also, our properties cashflow, meaning that they put money into our pockets each month.
We’re not floating them by paying to support the mortgages each month.
This gives us a lot of wiggle room to tolerate vacancy should it occur over the long haul.
Finally, from our conversations with multiple tax professionals, we believe that there will be part of the CARES act that specifically provides economic stimulus to aid apartment owners.
So that will be there for those of us who need it.
You are about to launch your next version of your real estate online course, “Zero To Freedom Through Cashflowing Rentals.”
What inspired you to create this course?
We were inspired by our friends.
When Kenji and I first started to invest in real estate together, we couldn’t help but share what we were learning and doing with all our friends and colleagues.
People started getting excited with us, so they started investing as well.
This helped us realize two things.
First, that we needed a way to provide everything we had learned in a really streamlined, organized fashion.
Because some of our friends were hearing some parts from us and not others, they were acting with only part of the information.
They couldn’t see the whole picture.
Second, we had a cohort of friends who wanted to buy their own rentals, but got caught up in analysis paralysis or became overwhelmed and never acted.
We realized we needed to help them by providing structured teaching, connecting them up with the right team, and creating a community to keep them accountable and inspired.
How long is this course and when will it be available for purchase and participation?
Our course, Zero to Freedom Through Cashflowing Rentals, lasts approximately 10 weeks.
It consists of 6 main modules, a pre-course and bonus module on how to save money on taxes.
It’s an online course, with live Q&A calls on zoom each week.
We offer our course only twice a year: and the next time it is open for sale is June 1-14th.
You can buy it here.
We currently have over 800 students on our waitlist for the course, so our next class is likely to be quite large and active!
Does this course allow you to learn at your own pace or is it scheduled lectures that have to be completed by a certain time?
You can complete the course at your own pace.
All the live Q&As are video recorded, so you can go back to them even months or years later to re-watch them and learn.
Some of the best course learning opportunities happen in the Facebook group, where we answer questions and interact with our students.
The Facebook group is only active for about 10 weeks, but it is archived so you can search it after you finish the course.
In addition, we give our course participants two months free on our membership training site after the course (Empire Builders), so there’s the additional ability to ask questions and continue your education there after the course is competed.
Ideally who would benefit most from taking this course?
Our course is directed towards helping physicians and high-income earners who know little to nothing about real estate go from that space to potentially buying their first rental during the course.
We’ve had a lot of our students actually buy rentals during the course.
Some of our students from last fall’s class actually have over 30 units already!
We focus on helping high-income professionals because there are very few tax benefits available to people like us.
Kenji and I have built our real estate portfolio with a focus on sheltering all of our clinical income.
We haven’t paid income taxes in years.
So part of what we teach is how to build your real estate portfolio in a way to shelter yourself from taxes if you are a high-income earner, making over $150,000 per year as a family.
Upon completion of this course, what should participants be able to accomplish?
They will have the right skills and team in place to be able to buy cashflowing rental properties and create a source of income to work in clinical medicine on their terms.
Will that student be left to his or her own devices or is there any setup in place that provides ongoing support/resources?
Many of our students remain in our membership training course after completing Zero to Freedom Through Cashflowing Rentals.
In our membership course, we help students learn things like how to maximize their profits, tap into other real estate niches, manage their property managers, do rehab projects, etc…
We also set up our students with investor agents and their team during the course, and the ability to reach out to us to get help with finding additional team members after the course, is always available.
Can you give some details about how much this program will cost and if there are any payment options?
Zero to Freedom Through Cashflowing Rentals is priced at $797 x 3 payments this time around ($2391).
Is there a book (or books) that have made a major impact in your financial well-being?
Can you name 5 things that have had the greatest financial impact on you?
1. Realizing that it’s incredibly risky to rely on only one source of income for survival
2. Realizing how easy real estate investing is compared to starting a traditional business
3. Realizing the importance of knowing our outcome first. For our students, this means knowing why you want to achieve financial freedom before you start the process to do it
4. The mindset work we have done over the years
5. Our relationship and how we work together as a team with the same goals
Can you share with us a hidden talent that most people would be shocked to find out about you?
Leti – I’m not sure there’s anything shocking about me!
My hidden talent is cooking and baking.
I love to make most foods and to eat them too.
Kenji – I can click my tongue very loud.
I use it to call my family in crowded situations.
It’s really useful!
Again thank you so much for your time answering these questions and being placed under the “X-ray beam.” I look forward to your continued posts and wish you much success with your upcoming Zero To Freedom Through Cashflowing Rentals course.
If you are interested in checking out previous individuals that were brave enough to expose themselves to the beams of the X-ray, please check them out here.
If you are in search of financial help, please consider enlisting the service of any of the sponsors of this blog who I feel are part of the “good guys and gals of finance.”
Even a steadfast DIY’er can sometimes gain benefit from the occasional professional input.
NOTE: The website XRAYVSN contains affiliate links and thus receives compensation whenever a purchase through these links is made (at no further cost to you). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Although these proceeds help keep this site going they do not have any bearing on the reviews of any products I endorse which are from my own honest experiences. Thank you- XRAYVSN