Because the real estate industry is so people-oriented, establishing relationships with others in the same community is as much a part of the job as any other part. The Realty411 Expo was founded on this same principle – for bridging people as well as any knowledge gaps about specific skillsets or subject matters that are best imparted by experts. Scott Carson chats with Linda Pliagas, the Founder of Realty411 Magazine, who hosts the Realty411 Expo. Together, they talk about the impetus for an event of this magnitude for the real estate community, and what potential attendees could pick up from attending. Whether you’re looking to build relationships in the real estate community or you just want to expand upon your knowledge base, the Realty411 Expo is the place to be!
Listen to the podcast here:
EP 577 – The Real Estate 411 Expo: Bridging The Real Estate Community With Linda Pliagas
I’ve got a special guest who is doing some big things in the real estate investing community. I’ve been friends with this person for quite some time. I’m always blown away at this lady’s passion for helping other real estate investors not only get the knowledge they want but make it available to those that are starting out. She’s bringing great speakers and great content experts into vendors to provide a one-stop-shop for real estate investors in different areas and different communities across the country, to learn and take what they’re learning and applying it in real-world situations with a real estate investing career.
We all start someplace. We all start new. Most people sometimes forget that we all put our pants on one leg at a time. This lady is helping new and seasoned real estate investors all across the country doing some great things. The lady I’m talking about is Linda Pliagas. She’s the Founder and Owner of Realty411.com which is an online network for real estate investors. It also publishes online and print magazines under the Realty411 and REI Wealth titles. Realty411 also hosted live real estate expos in ten different states in an effort to meet their magazine readers and followers in person. We are honored to have Linda Pliagas. What’s going on, Linda? How is it going?
Thank you for having me. What a pleasure.
We’re glad to have you too. We’ve known each other for years.
It’s been a while since Tim saw REI Expo.
Since he launched that in Dallas years ago. You’ve grown such a great community. Why don’t you talk a little bit about what started Realty411 in the expo scene?
Realty411 is an online community. We also print magazines. We host webinars. We send out emails from our sponsors to people that support Realty411 and join us on our expos and events. We have expos around the country, especially here in California where we’re based. Surprisingly, I’m such a big believer in networking that we were hosting events even before I had Realty411 magazine. I started as an agent and that was one of the ways that I met people and prospects clients. We’re hosting small events at libraries or community centers to introduce people to real estate and get them motivated to take action. That’s how I started getting some clients. My specialty at the time was buying out of state investments as rentals.
I’ve been an out of state investor since 2005. My husband and I have owned in four states. A lot of people that knew that wanted me to help them get started. They were fascinated by the fact that we could buy a four-unit property in Texas for $190,000 or $200,000, whereas in California they were going for $600,000 at the time. Out of state investing is also wonderful because it allows a lot of investors to get started in using real estate as an investment tool for passive cashflow. In our state, it’s so expensive that it prohibits a lot of people from becoming investors. That’s why my events have grown and they’ve become so popular because we provide information to investors with these wonderful companies out there that can help them buy properties out of state.
They can buy them for $25,000, $150,000, $100,000. There’s a wide range of properties and even the notes, you could buy a note out of state. In California, forget it. They’re expensive and difficult to get as well. It opens up a lot of doors. That’s how I started it. I became a source of 411 of information and I love real estate. It’s been a passion for me for a long time. I became obsessed with real estate because as a teenager, my parents lost their home when I was fifteen. It shook me up but at the same time, it made me an adult quickly where I became goal-oriented. I knew that I have to educate myself. I have to go to college, become someone and be a success.
We all know that college doesn’t mean you’re going to be successful, but it’s a good start. At least it gives you a foundation. The first way I got started was buying our first home. We found a distressed property that nobody wanted. We had no money at the time, but we were able to acquire private financing through a family that didn’t give us some money though. They lent us the money. We also paid them the interest on that capital every month and then five years, we paid off a balloon payment. They made money every month on their investment and it allowed us to get started in real estate investing.
The way I got started, I always remember that somebody helped us get started. That’s how we were able to get our foot in the door. I’ve never forgotten that. That’s why we host the events and we have our magazine absolutely free where everybody can download it. They can read it online. They can print articles they want to study. That’s why we do it complimentary. I always remember that we got started because somebody helped us. We loved the fact that we can help other people at least acquire the knowledge and maybe even the motivation to take action.
We all had that person that’s helped us out or people in some cases in a variety of ways, especially when we’re getting started. We’ve all got to start someplace, but also transitioning or evolving into different markets or different niches of real estate investing as we grow as investors and entrepreneurs. I love the fact that you realized, “I’ve got to start buying out of state.” We’ve got a chunk of our audience and note nation in California that are also dealing with that. Let’s talk about that a little bit. What were the hurdles that maybe you had or mental blocks that you overcame into buying something in Texas when you’re in Southern California?
Luckily, my situation was a little bit different because I lived twenty minutes from LAX at the time when I started out of state investing. It was not difficult. The airport was right there. Our home was also on the flight path. We would see them travel. I would stare up and say, “My property is only 2 or 3 hours away.” That’s how I overcame the fear because we all are afraid. Let’s face it, especially for the new investor. Someone who hasn’t done it before will be fearful. Other people will talk them out of it, it’s like my family tried to talk me out of it. “What are you doing? Don’t go there.”
You have to know that it does work and it can work. There is a wide network out there to help you. You’re not going to be successful alone. Real estate is a people-oriented business. You do need boots on the ground. You need a property manager or you need a team to help you. There are people that can do and are willing to help you. They’re helping their business grow as well. In our network, at one point a lot of my associates, family and acquaintances started buying properties out of state. In one year, we referred $5 million worth of referrals to South Texas.
Because of that, the property manager had to hire two more people. We grew their business exponentially and I’ll never forget that. That was an incredible feeling. It shows that we need one another. We need them and they’re also relying on us. The fact a lot of Californians does have equity in their properties or their rental investments. They do want to tap into that equity, but the costs of properties here are high that a lot of them like to diversify and use some of that equity to buy for cash out of state.
That’s a good model and one that a lot of investors have utilized before. The initial fear was easy because I was close to the airport, I had already traveled. What I recommend is even before you buy, zero in on a location that you want to specialize in or target. It helps if you like the area or maybe you have family or friends there because that way when you visit, it’s a tax-deductible workation, work and vacation. If you like a certain city, a certain market, if you have family or friends in a certain location, that may be a good place to start investing out of state.
If it’s too expensive where you’re at and you’re not seeing the deals, there are other places and other vendors in other areas. That’s what I love about Austin. I’m only 2 or 3 hours from 95% of the country via Southwest Airlines. Sometimes a little bit longer to get the layovers, but there’s usually nonstop about everywhere, especially the flights are cheap now if you need to jump on and take a look at the market with what’s going on. You’ve hosted expos in ten different states. You count the home state. What are some other states that you have them on down the road on the future plan?
We’ve had events also in Northern Florida, Tampa, as well as Southern Florida, Miami, Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale. We’ve also hosted events in New York state, both in Long Island as well as in Manhattan. That’s a lot of fun. I love New York. It’s such a vibrant city. That’s a fun place to visit. We’ve also hosted events in Las Vegas. Everybody has to have an event there. We’ve hosted events in Arizona, Washington State, in Oregon. We’re over in Illinois, Chicago and we’ve also had events in Atlanta, Georgia.
You have a good diverse area of places in hot markets and places for people to find out. You do a good job of blending national experts with local people. Do you want to talk a little about that and what your philosophy for that is?
We have a big social media following and we do have a lot of readers around the country. That’s why we like to travel and visit them because we realized that a lot of people might not be able to come out to California and get to know us and our sponsors and vendors. We’d like to go to them and we’d like to meet people locally. We’d love to meet the heavy-hitting investment professionals locally who are doing deals. That way, we can connect them with our network and hopefully, they can start sharing some of the properties they have available or maybe they can start doing webinars for our readers and such. That’s why we travel. We want to connect with people on a local level and we realized that not all of them could come out.
We’ve been blessed because we’ve had people come out to California, to New York, to Florida from other parts of the country. One time, for our event in Illinois, we had a doctor from Massachusetts come out who was interested in investing in Illinois. We’ve also had people come to fly out from Wisconsin, Georgia, Nevada, all over the country. They come out to California to have a vacation and also join us at one of our events. That’s spectacular but for those of you who can’t do it, we always try and have events in major cities across the country so we can get to know people in person. We realized that’s the best way to network and that’s the best way also to do business because trust is important in real estate. It should be, we’re dealing with our hard-earned money and investments. We want to get to know people in person if possible and to dive into different markets and learn what makes them different. Every region is completely different. It’s spectacular. Doing this business has allowed me to see America and it’s the most spectacular thing. It’s a big perk.
It is out there and you’ve done a great job. You’ve got an online community of about 6,000 people in your group. You’ve got a couple of different magazines that you run, REI Wealth besides Realty411. How’s that grown for you? How has leveraging a magazine helped you grow your audience? What’s been the biggest surprise of that?
It’s been wonderful because my major is journalism and media has been my love since I was a little girl. It’s a passion that my stepfather passed on to me. That was one of the ways that we bonded is through the written word. It’s something that’s important to me on a personal level. The reason I got into media is that I want to make an impact on a mass scale and try and help people in their life. That’s why I started the publications. I did start Realty411. REI Wealth was started by Noland Araracap in San Diego. He asked me to help him with that several years ago and then his mother became ill. He said, “Can you please take it?” because he was tied up with that. We agreed to do them. That’s why we have two different titles because I wanted to keep my word to him that we would continue to market his brand. I know how important that is when you start something from scratch and you want to give it life.
You want to see that continue. You don’t want that to die. That’s why we continue to do two publications and it’s been wonderful. I love educating people and inspiring them. That’s what our goal and mission are. It’s to give information, tips, news analysis and provide a support system for people. We do get people who email us on a daily basis, who call us and they do seek referrals. They want to know, “When are you going to be coming into town? Do you have a private lending company that can help me with this type of transaction?” We do get calls all the time and it’s a pleasure to be able to assist people with that. We want to continue to give great information. One of the most surprising things has been, it’s not an easy business. It’s a difficult business. It’s more time-intensive than I thought it would be and certainly more expensive than I thought it would be. Those are the biggest surprises.
You’ve done a good job growing your network and becoming an expert in the industry by surrounding yourself with other experts. You’re an expert in publishing and journalism. You also know the real estate markets.
There are always people who know more than us.
As a mentor of mine, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones says, “We’re the average of the five people we hang around with the most.” If you want to increase your wealth and your knowledge, hang out with people that know more and make more money than you. That’s a great way to grow your own bottom line if you need to. You do a great job of putting together these events and they’re not 3 or 4-day events. They’re action-packed. Most are 1 or 2-day events.
One day event and we tried doing two-day events, but the second day was difficult for people to come back a lot of times. I was wiped out and it took much stamina out of me. I was like, “We’re going to keep them short, one-day event.”
It gives people an opportunity to enjoy the weekend still. The mind can only absorb what the ass can withstand. If you’re sitting for two days straight, it’s hard. You do events and run it from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM if I remember it correctly.
We run them from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. We take breaks in between so we can work and get to know the exhibitors and they can share information. For the event in Irvine on March 28th, we’ll have simultaneous sessions going on so people can choose what they want to listen to. Normally, we navigate single between session events and two breakout session events. It depends on the city and what we predict how many people will join us. My preference is two breakout sessions going on at the same time so people can choose what they want to learn.
Sometimes they already know a certain topic and they want to learn something else. That’s always my preference. We have to be careful because our sponsors are important to us and we want to make sure that they’re all happy. There’s a lot of pressure to bring in a lot of people when you do two break-out sessions. You have to make sure that the numbers are there to do that. We want to make sure that the sponsors that are out to help us open the doors to allow people to come in complementary to our events. We want to make sure that they are happy and they benefit.
That makes a lot of sense. The last thing you want to do is not have enough people there for both people to speak at the same time. You know the markets because you’ve been doing them in different places. You know who’s going to show up and who’s not going to be there. You also make it affordable not only for the attendees but also for your vendors as well. I look at events and people want $5,000, $10,000 for sponsorship. I’m like, “That’s awesome. Does it fit in the budget all the time?” Do you want to talk a little bit about your pricing?
We have affordable pricing. We charge $1,350 to speak and then the exhibitors are generally $895 but for smaller events, we even go down to $595 and such. We do keep it quite affordable. The reason we do that is it takes time to do business in real estate. You’re not going to meet people and go into contract overnight with them. That’s not how this business works. Sometimes it does and it’s wonderful when you can grow your business in that manner but generally, it takes time to build relationships with new customers. We know that marketing is a relationship-oriented business. I know from the marketing that we do that it’s something that you have to do continually.
You can’t start marketing and then stop. If you want to build your brand and be successful at something, you have to do it on a repetitive basis. That’s how we do our marketing. That’s how I suspect our clients want to do their marketing. We cater to long-term relationships and continual business from our clients. That’s what has helped us maintain to be in business. It’s not the amount that we charge, but they continually come back to us and say, “Linda, I have a webinar next week. Can I send out an email campaign with you?” or “Linda, next time you’re in town, I want to sponsor your event because now I have a little bit more of a budget because my last deal with you closed.”
That’s how things work and I realize that. We try and keep things affordable too by the way we run our business. We’re virtual-oriented. We do employ people in the US. We have writers in the US and around the country, but they’re all independent contractors. We used to have more people on staff here in California, but I decided against it because I knew in order to maintain them I’m going to have to start charging those prices that you said. I don’t want to do that. I wanted to keep the model as is. I made the choice of being a virtual international company. We do have writers and telemarketers that work as independent contractors here in the US. We do employ and have employed for several years people in other parts of the country to work for Realty411. They do graphic design for us. They do web design and virtual assisting. We have been very avant-garde in our business since the beginning employing an international staff of people to help run the business as inexpensively as possible.
That’s helpful for everybody helping people get rock and rolling. You’re always looking for somebody who got a case study, an article or an expert. You’re always looking for content to add to either one of the magazines.
If anybody is an expert in their field, we’re always looking for great content that’s real estate related. We love that market studies. Whatever your niche is, we’re interested. I would encourage people to email and pitch us their articles at Info@Realty411.com. They can contact us directly and we would love to share their information, especially the market experts out there. We need you to help educate people because a lot of our readers need it. We constantly have to inform them because we forget. It’s like a language. If you do not practice a foreign language, you’re going to forget it. Real estate in our brain, we have to use it. We have to learn and educate ourselves continually. I’m a firm believer in lifelong learning.
You’ve got an event that you host out of Realty411 in Dallas every year. You see over 700 people showing up to your event in Dallas and registered for it.
That’s the one in California, the LA Grand Expo, we had over 700 people in 2019. The reason we were able to do that is we partnered up with many other great companies such as the Los Angeles Real Estate Investor Club run by Lloyd Segal. He was one of our producers in that show. Sam Sadat also partnered with us with Sam’s Real Estate Club. We had Bill Tan with the LA Asian Real Estate Club. We had Deborah Razo with the Women Real Estate Network. We had amazing people that helped bring that expo to life and promote it. It was an amazing day. I would encourage other people from all over California and the outer state. If you want to meet a lot of people, we will be having another event on September 26 in Los Angeles. That will be our second annual Los Angeles Grand Expo.
What’s the price for that?
It’s complimentary, Scott. It’s free.
You also have VIP seats in some of your events when people want to sit up front.
If they want to upgrade, they can upgrade for $27 and that way they can sit in the front. They can network with our speakers and sponsors and have more access to them. They also get a gift bag with our publication and other resources to help them.
With everything going on in the market, you’ve got one when this comes out. You’ve already made some adjustments to what’s going on with the Coronavirus. In any of the future events, you would make adjustments on what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. People can stay tuned to that or they’re still in person or you end up doing a line or spreading it out a little bit. How many events are you doing a year on an average basis?
For 2020, we’re going to be doing about 6 to 8 events. I would say eight events because there are some events we haven’t announced yet and they’re going to be later on in the year. One of the reasons we haven’t announced it is because of what’s going on with the Coronavirus, which we are keeping a close watch on. We were the first real estate media to report on what was going on with COVID-19. The reason is that our little town of Solvang, where I’m based was hit drastically economically with the Coronavirus. Our economy here is tourist-oriented and most of our tourism at one point was Asian tourists. They were coming in busloads. They were the people that came the most as a tourist community here in our area.
Months ago, we saw that shutdown. It was interesting because I was in a sense our business and we were impacted with all this Coronavirus that’s going on. We were impacted already and I’ve seen it progress. It was interesting. We were one of the first real estate media to report on the Coronavirus in the real estate community and what was going on. We gave an analysis on how real estate investors were coping and what they thought was going to happen to this virus. You can find it on Realty411.com. It’s right on top because it’s important. We’re going to be updating people on this issue. We are taking steps with the hotel for the event. For example, we’re going to have plastic cups, plastic dishes for our coffee and for any food that we have.
We’re also spacing people far away from one another in the seating. They’re not going to be squished together in one row. We’re going to have adequate seating available far enough away from one another. The hotel is going to have hand sanitizers and sanitizers around the perimeter of the event, as well as on the registration tables and by the water sections. They’re going to do complete sanitation of the perimeter before the expo. We are taking careful measures because of what’s happening. I’m in communication with the hotel and we told them that we need to put a plan in place, a safety precautionary plan for our guests. They were all in agreement. They’ve been wonderful to work with.
As a trained journalist, I don’t want to say this is an exciting time because it’s stressful and it is awful for the families of people that have died and for those that have died. As a journalist, we aren’t trained to report on things like this and educate ourselves on what’s going on in current events. We’re taking this seriously. At the same time, we’re keeping calm and we’re keeping things in line and in perspective knowing that more people have died every year of the common cold, flu, car accidents, alcoholism, heart disease. Unfortunately, there are a lot of health ills that we all need to be cognizant about and be careful about.
The impact of this is more so sickness or death. There’s a high recovery rate unless you’ve got to deal with something like diabetes, heart disease or something like that. You want to make sure that you take extra precautions to take care of yourself. The longer-lasting effects are going to be unemployment. People that don’t have the savings saved for a 30-day, a two-week or even beyond that type. You look at what’s happening with all the major sports leagues suspending things, the tourist industry. We hear here in Austin with South by Southwest getting canceled. It was a $1.6 billion hit to the market. A lot of that is in your restaurants, your hotels, your service professionals, the petty cabs, the bartenders, the waitstaff, your hotel crews, the cleaning crews too.
That’s where the biggest underlying effect is going to be. It’s going to be that ripple effect. We can’t afford to pay our bills. We can’t afford to stay in our houses. The job is not paying. What do we do to overcome this hiccup? Most people aren’t saving any money. That leads to opportunities if you’re an investor, whether you’re buying distressed property or in my case, notes. That’s why you want to educate yourself on what’s going on in the opportunity. I know you’ve got Scott Meyers at your event. He’s a friend and knows his stuff with the self-storage side of things and others like tax liens with Charles Sells of The PIP Group.
There are opportunities in everything that happens. You just have to know the timing and the educational aspect of it. That’s why Realty411 is the place for information when it comes to the real estate side of things. There are opportunities in a bear market or a bull market. We’re in a bear market now. People are getting scared about their 401(k)s or the stock market drop. That leads for opportunities to have those discussions about if your 401(k) is now a 101(k), where are we going to put it to work out right?
I’m praying that this goes away quickly because I hate to see people hurting. As an investor, we all know that that’s how we buy a property. I’ve purchased a lot of distressed properties and I do feel sorry for the people that are going through that but at the same time, we are helping them. We’re alleviating big stress because when you’re upside down on a property, when you can’t afford that payment anymore or your tenant messed up your place, you can’t afford to fix it and you have to sell it. We provide that peace of mind to a lot of people. It goes both ways. There are a lot of distressed people but investors, we’re not out to take advantage of anybody. We’re out to help people and to alleviate the pain that they are going through because that’s what it is. They’re in pain when they have a property or an asset that is no longer working for them.
People need to know their options too from both sides of the equation. From the investor side, there are options for you as an investor if you are in a distressed market. You and I both lived through the great recession of 2008. Most people don’t realize that if you didn’t have a short sale or a foreclosure on your record, you weren’t an investor.
Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again. I’m hoping that the Coronavirus will magically go away. Go to Pluto or something, leave us alone. We have enough problems.
I think it’s like anything else. It will be like the bird flu or other things like that. It will run its case and then it will be gone. It will be a hiccup. Some people are getting nervous about different things like toilet papers are sold out in Walmart. I had a buddy in Phoenix who’s like, “I can’t even have Amazon deliver toilet paper.” You see that stuff and you’re like, “Take a deep breath, chill and relax. If you’re not feeling good, don’t go to an event. Protect yourself. Take some extra vitamin C, vitamin D, wash your hands. At work, if you do the elbow bump, that’s okay. Do those things. I wish common sense were common but unfortunately, it’s not in a lot of cases. Let’s face it, if you’re in Irvine on March 28th, there’s no baseball to watch, there’s no basketball, there’s no hockey. You might as well head out to, where’s the hotel out there in Irvine?
It’s the Atrium Hotel on MacArthur Boulevard in front of John Wayne Airport. Come and network with the bravest people in real estate because we will be there. We’re the brave people. There’s nothing that can deter us from taking action.
Who else do you have speaking at the event? I know we talked about a couple of names. I think Dutch Mendenhall is going to be speaking there as well too.
Kaaren Hall will be there and she’s one of our cohosts. She’s been a great supporter of this event and helping us promote it. We’re also going to be having Rusty Tweed there. We’re going to be having Gabriel Hicks there. We’re going to have Gary Geist who’s joining us all the way from Ohio. We’re also going to have up in Northern California, PENSCO Self-Directed IRA Trust, Garrett Sutton. We also have Christopher Meza joining us in Southern California.
What are some of the other topics that you will be covering?
We’re going to be covering commercial real estate. Anthony Patrick will be covering fixing and flipping. We’re going to be covering wholesale deals, out of state investing and private finance. We’ll have private lenders there who can lend on not only real estate. What I love about March 28th in Irvine is we’re going to have people and companies that can fund not only your real estate deals but also your business. Imagine for brokers, for agents and title companies, get the money that you need to grow your business. We can help you do that. We’re going to have companies there that are going to be lending not only for commercial and single-family but expand your business as well.
It will help Kaaren Hall with her self-directed IRA company as well.
She is with uDirect Self-Directed IRA company based in Irvine. She started the company during the recession and it’s a $1 billion company now. They handle billions in IRA funds. She’s done an incredible job of expanding that business.
She’s done a great job of networking and expanding the community because she sees the value in it. Irvine, California is a great place to find people with money as well. If you’re looking out there, you may want to jump on a plane and fly out to John Wayne Airport, walk into the hotel. Start networking, start looking for investors and start looking for properties to put your hard-earned money to work in. What’s the best website for people to get to register for the event?
We look forward to that. You’ve done great, Linda. I don’t know if I’ve ever told you that, but you’ve done a great job providing not only amazing content, but you’ve got a big heart. Anybody can tell and they can see coming out of your pores how you love to help people, how you want to be a connector with amazing things going on. You’d like to bring people together to help those out there as well. We all started somewhere, we all had somebody to help and I can’t imagine you’ve been that person for thousands and thousands of investors across the country. Kudos to you. Keep doing what you’re doing.
Thank you, Scott.
Take the opportunity. If you’re looking to connect with new investors or fund new opportunities and you’re in the Southern California area, check it out. That’s Saturday, March 28th, from 9:00 to 5:00 at Atrium Hotel. You’re going to get a general admission ticket for free or VIP for $27 upfront there. If not, go ahead and get registered for the big LA event taking place, September 26 as well there. Take the opportunity to check it out at Realty411Expo.com. Go out and take some action. We look forward to seeing you off the top.
About Linda Pliagas
Realty411 was founded in 2007 by Linda Pliagas, who is the Publisher/CEO. Linda and her husband have owned multifamily, single family homes and land in California and out of state for many years.
Linda holds a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from California State University, Long Beach. She was a recipient of the Bobit Magazine Scholarship for her accomplishment in publishing her first national magazine while still at CSULB. She also studied real estate, accounting and general studies at Santa Monica College.
A journalist since the age of 18, Linda has also freelanced for numerous national magazines, local newspapers and global websites.
Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!
Join the Note Closers Show community today: