In this interview, Angelique shares how she has come full circle, from a young girl seeing her family manage their real estate properties and the struggles that came with the day-to-day operations to investing in real estate through an asset manager like Bluefox without having to do the heavy lifting required to manage a property. She is thankful that she and her husband can have access to better quality properties by investing alongside Bluefox and other like-minded investors. It is worth a listen! If easier, you can choose to read it as well.
Hi Angelique. I am so excited to have this conversation with you today. Thank you so much for joining me. I would love for you to share a little bit more about yourself.
Well, my name is Angelique James and I am married to Ray James, wonderful husband, and I have a seven-year-old son named Nolan. I am originally from New York, was actually born in San Diego, and left San Diego probably when I was a toddler, and moved to New York. I lived in New York with my mom and my grandmother until I was 13. During that time, I kind of got my first spark in real estate. My grandmother was a property owner in New York. And then we moved to Alabama at 13.
Looks like you had some exposure to real estate from a very young age. Tell us more about that.
As a young child, I remember my grandmother being a property owner. Now, most of the members in my family have owned single-family rental properties at some point of their lives, so I was able to hear about the benefits and many of the drawbacks of single-family units for many years. My father was a general contractor all of his adult life, so there were many times he had his own general contracting business. He worked in contracting building homes, flipping, he's done that his whole life. But it wasn't until about 15 or so years ago that he started meeting investors and people who were buying corporate and multifamily properties. And he got really interested in that. And he started researching and networking and talking to people about those types of investments. And he started off with duplexes, and he just kind of moved up. And now he has 10 to 15 small apartment complexes. So I was able to witness his success in multifamily and it made me intrigued about that. And so we started having conversations about that. And finally, I just decided to put that into part of my financial goal.
You mentioned drawbacks on the single-family ownership. What are some of those drawbacks that you were exposed to through your family in the single-family ownership?
Well, the biggest drawback was not having anyone in the home for long periods of time. And with my family, that was always an issue because they were using that additional income to support their expenses. So when a tenant would drop out, or tenant would cause significant damage in the home, it was detrimental to them. The first property that my grandmother had in New York City, Jamaica, Queens, I'll never forget, it was the downstairs part of her, I guess, what we call a bungalow. And so the apartment was attached. So I remember one day, she smelled something and she went downstairs and there was a small fire and the tenant had vacated. This apartment was attached to hers, so it was an immediate response that she had to fix, or else her home would be damaged. And now she had the damage. And then she also does not have income coming in, rental income. So I mean, that was the worst that I saw. But the biggest thing was getting the right tenant in the home and managing repairs.
So very stressful moments that you have.
How do you see that different to multifamily?
Oh, completely different just because of, you know, my family history, I always wanted to be more of a passive investor. My family was always in the day to day operating part of that and you know, that wasn't something that I wanted. And also if you have one unit, then you're dependent on that one income. What I like about multifamily is that there are multiple units with multiple streams of income. So to me, it's less risky because it's not a good chance, like if you have an apartment building with 50 people, it's not a big chance that all 50 will leave. So I think it just lowers the risk for you. So that's what we really like about it.
Did you know about syndication before learning about Bluefox?
I had never even heard of the word syndication before Bluefox. So thank you for opening my eyes for that. So when I first heard of syndication, of course I was intimidated, and it took, you know, much research. And many, I don't know if you remember, many conversations with you. You were always there to answer all of my questions, you were completely transparent. And I really appreciated that. So, you know, it took time for me to understand the syndicate’s role in how it would play in my investment plan. But in the end, a syndication was probably the component that we needed because I wasn't interested in single family. And the reason I was hesitant to invest in multifamily was because not having the liquid capital necessary for the property type that I wanted. As I mentioned earlier, my father has, you know, small apartments, but he usually invests in Class D multifamily properties, which, you know, were profitable for him, but came with a host of issues, low occupancy rates, high renovation and repair costs, and slow rent payers. With Class D, those are some serious problems. So he is always active. And so for those reasons, we were not interested in owning a Class D property. We wanted class B, maybe even A or C, and again, we did not want to deal with the day to day operating issues with an asset. So the syndicate just kind of turned out to be perfect for us, because we were able to combine our capital and our resources with other like-minded investors, and purchase a property that we wouldn't be able to purchase individually.
Thank you for sharing that. That's really helpful. How is your investing in multifamily tied to your financial goals or life goals? How does that help you?
We started to invest in the stock market maybe about two years ago. And we found that investing in the stock market is, you know, you've seen the past couple of years with the stock market, it's risky, even when we're investing in mutual funds. Because our stock portfolio had been taking quite a beating for the last two years, we were looking for an investment that was a little bit less volatile, and had milder rises and dips. While our stocks have been taking a hit in our portfolio, our multifamily investments continue to see increased occupancy rates and rent growth. We thought that was good to have a diversified portfolio and not really, you know, kind of like the saying, putting your eggs all in one basket. I think the interest in multifamily, especially now, is an excellent investment and a great way to diversify your portfolio.
Now, from a woman's perspective, I would love to hear about the dynamics between you and your partner on making financial decisions. How do you work together to make those decisions in order to invest in the right assets for you, as a family?
We usually are on the same page with any investment that we're thinking about. But not always. When I first started talking about real estate to my husband, he was not on board, so it took probably I'd say about a year or two for him to get on board, for me to kind of show him. He even talked to my father, like they had a long conversation about it maybe one or two times. So one rule we have, if we both don't agree with it, we don't invest. That's just kind of a simple rule. And that way, so when we invest, we feel like a team. And you know, we agree on the risk because every investment has a risk. I think it's about communication. I think it's about trusting your partner.
Now what felt intimidating and or comfortable about the process of investing through a syndication?
The syndication worked for us because of the type of properties we wanted. We always said that we wanted to invest in a multifamily property that if something happened, and we had to live there, we would feel comfortable with that and it would be something that we would be proud of. So a syndication gave us that opportunity because we were able to pull money together with other like-minded investors and get the type of multifamily property we wanted. And I just I love the fact that a syndication does all of the operating work. Syndication was basically exactly what we needed. And it also, I think, for new investors, I think a syndication helps with the learning process. And it helps with just kind of getting your foot in the door. It's still my first time, me and my husband's first time, putting our money into real estate. So I think doing it this way, is a great start because I'm able to ask questions, I'm able to get guidance from someone like yourself, who's done this for many many years and has much experience in this. And so I'm able to just kind of learn. So that's another reason why we wanted to work with the syndicate because it's going to be a learning process for us.
I love how you've come full circle from a young child being exposed to real estate, to now you and your husband investing directly into real estate in a way that doesn't force you to do that heavy lifting. And last question, why Bluefox? Why did you invest with us?
We've known you and Randy for such a long time. And throughout the years, we've seen your dedication. We know how hard you and Randy work and how hard it is to select a property and how selective you are about the properties. So we know when a property comes to us, it has been given the Liliana 19 point inspection and it has been properly examined and vetted. So we love that about Bluefox, that you're not just throwing anything at us. You have done your due diligence, you've gone over and above actually to vet the property to make sure it's up to your standards, which means that it's up to our standards. And we also know about the integrity that you and Randy stand on. And with that integrity that allows us to trust you with our investments. And we know you're going to communicate all of the things that need to be told to your investors, and you're going to communicate everything that we need to make a decision on if this is the right property for us.
Thank you so much Angelique. I appreciate you joining me today and sharing your own journey and experience, which is going to be of so much value to many people, not just women but all investors.