With over 300 active loans currently on our platform, it’s clear that we have some incredible renovation projects happening around the country. While you may have come across these homes on our platform, we thought it would be of interest to highlight the people behind the projects and give a little more detail about their work. To that end, we’ve begun a Monthly Borrower Spotlight post, in which we interview some of our best borrowers and delve into what has made them so successful. You can read our previous Borrower Spotlight posts here and here.
This month, we caught up with North Carolina-based renovator Julian Montoya, founder of JM11 Investments, who is currently finishing up his third project with GROUNDFLOOR. We recently hopped on the phone with Julian to chat about his journey into real estate and what he is looking forward to in the future.
How did you get into home renovation/house flipping?
I came to the United States from Colombia when I was 10 years old. As I was growing up in the US, I learned about the “American Dream” and I became obsessed with figuring out how to cross the boundary between the middle class and the wealthy. How did people do it? How do you go about starting to build wealth? I started educating myself on this topic in various ways, and one common thread I discovered was through real estate. I decided that was the path I wanted to follow.
I’d heard of an organization called Fortune Builders, which purports to be the premier real estate investing education company. They help coach individuals on all aspects of having a real estate business and succeeding in real estate projects. I decided to attend one of their events near me, and after seeing all the tools they’d created and after chatting with some truly wonderful and genuine people, I was all in!
Investing in my own education was a huge decision and one that did not come cheap or easy, but it was absolutely the best choice I could have made. I had a vision for myself and my future, and I’m so proud that I took the necessary steps to make it become a reality. I’ve been flipping houses for a little over three years now -- I started in 2016 -- and I can honestly say I couldn’t be happier.
How many projects have you completed? How many are you currently working on?
Thus far, I’ve completed four different projects, three of them with GROUNDFLOOR as my financing partner. I just finished up a rent-to-own project and am in the process of beginning a new construction project now, so for a couple of weeks I had a gap in my renovation work.
I always find ways to stay busy, though -- I actually have a full-time job as an electrical engineer, and I’m a commercial loan broker, a licensed realtor, and a general contractor in North Carolina, on top of my flipping work. I know, it’s a lot! But it all contributes to my goal of becoming as well-versed and as successful in the real estate industry as I can.
Can you tell me about some things you’re currently working on? What are you especially excited about?
As I mentioned above, I’m currently starting a new construction project. This is my first time wading into the new construction waters, and I am really excited to take it on! I’m still working on getting a really solid crew of people to help, but once that’s done, we’ll really be able to get rolling!
What is your connection to NC? Why did you decide to get into this business there?
After graduating from the University of Florida, I moved to DC to take a position working for ExxonMobil. I didn’t love the job, as it took up a lot of time with traveling and such, so after awhile I began looking for other openings.
I ended up finding a job that was based out of Asheville. While I was there, I noticed the market seemed really promising -- i.e., lots of hiring signs indicating a growing job market, lots of people moving into the city for work, etc. -- so that’s where I decided to stay to focus on my real estate endeavors.
Fast forward a few years, and I’m still here!
How did you find GROUNDFLOOR?
When I was first starting out, I decided I needed to educate myself on the variety of lenders out there and what each one offered. I actually made a huge spreadsheet to keep track of everyone, and sure enough, GROUNDFLOOR was on there!
What really stood out to me with GROUNDFLOOR -- and what ultimately made me decide to use them -- was the effort they took to get in touch and walk me through the process to make it as easy as possible for me. I could tell they really valued our relationship -- I wasn’t just a sales transaction for them. And, of course, I loved the deferred interest payments!
What has been your experience working with GROUNDFLOOR?
It’s been awesome! I love that GROUNDFLOOR is flexible -- they are always willing to listen to you and talk through terms or rates if you see any discrepancies. I especially appreciate the fact that as I continue to work with them, they gain more trust in me as a borrower and thus are willing to work with me and be even more flexible. With GROUNDFLOOR, it’s truly a personal relationship, not just a business one.
What are some of your goals for your business in the next few years?
My biggest goal is to quit my day job and be able to retire early! But before I do that, I’d love to develop my business into the commercial territory as I see that as the next big thing in Asheville. Since there are so many people coming into the city for jobs and such, there’s been a big push to “recreate Asheville” -- i.e., building mixed-use developments, providing affordable housing, etc. -- to accommodate the growing population. I want to be a part of this push! If I’m able to add commercial offerings to my real estate business, I’ll truly be able to offer every kind of real estate solution.
What’s a piece of advice about this industry that you would want to pass along?
Starting your own business is hard and often expensive, and lots of people who are just starting out are looking for ways to cut costs. But one place you should never do that is with yourself. I firmly believe you get what you pay for, and that goes double when you’re investing in yourself, in your own education.
You have to be willing to put in the time, money, and effort to be the best you can be and learn everything you can, because if you don’t spend the money there, you’ll surely spend it later on down the line when you make a mistake. The difference between a promise and a commitment is a check -- so if you’re really serious about being an entrepreneur, you have to go all in!
Thank you so much, Julian! It’s truly a pleasure to work with you! To stay abreast of Julian’s work, be sure to follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @JM11Investments.