“Don’t wait for your ship to come in, swim out to it.” -English author Cathy Hopkins.
Taking the initiative. It can mean the difference between success and failure. And, as PassiveInvesting.com’s new Directors of Acquisitions, Eric Fitzgerald knows, it can mean the difference between landing a great job and toiling with the status quo.
In early 2019, Eric, who was born and raised in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, made plans to move to Charlotte, North Carolina. He didn’t have a job in real estate lined up, but it wasn’t for lack of effort. He’d placed his resume on several employment websites, applied for over 30 positions, but he wasn’t having any luck—even though he had a good grade point average (GPA) and had already done several property management internships.
So, he decided to take a different approach. In May 2019, he cold-emailed 50 potential employers. But he didn’t just send them the same email, he customized each email mentioning specific things he knew about each individual and their business.
“He liked the intent of my message.”
Only a few people responded… and only one person, Dan Handford, agreed to have a chat with Eric over the phone. Eric became aware of Dan through the Multifamily Investor Nation, and he knew Dan was well known in the multifamily arena. “In the email I sent to Dan, I wrote that I had listened to his podcast and was interested in his story,” Eric said. “I told him about the work I had been doing and that I just wanted to talk with people who were further along in the industry. Dan probably wasn’t gaining too much by responding to me, but I think he liked the intent of my message.”
Their phone conversation led to a lunch meeting after Eric moved down South. Eric found the experience to be extremely beneficial. “I got some great advice from Dan,” Eric said. “I explained my goals, and he talked about what he would do in my situation. I went along for two property tours with Dan, Brandon, and Danny. It was great to be introduced to a group like PassiveInvesting.com early in my career. I ended up getting a job out of it. Dan introduced me to the company where I got a job as an analyst. He knew the owner of the company and he gave me a good reference.”
The best generational wealth-builder there is
Although Eric loves the real estate industry, four short years ago he was in his second year of Pre-Med at the Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, “I was two years into it, and I was doing pretty well,” he said. “I started thinking about where I was going to be after college. I would be 29 or 30 before I got out of med school and a couple of hundred thousand dollars in debt.” So, Eric switched to a business program and focused on real estate. “Real estate is one of the most proven business models in the world, and it has been that way for a long time. It has a great level of scalability and it’s one of the best generational wealth-builders there is.”
Aggressive acquisition goals
While studying business, Eric got two internships in property management to learn the real estate business. One with Morgan Properties based near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania–an $8 billion+ multifamily owner with over 90,000 units under ownership, and another with a local student housing investor where Eric worked as a property manager while full-time in college. After he graduated, as mentioned, he fueled his desire to expand his horizons beyond Bloomsburg by moving to Charlotte, North Carolina. While working as an analyst (with the company Dan gave him a reference for), Eric started his own real estate company on the side. He and his two partners acquired a 12-unit complex. He then got a job working for a family office out of New York City, leading their real estate acquisitions in the Carolinas. In January 2021, he saw that PassiveInvesting.com was looking for an Acquisitions Associate. He didn’t hesitate to apply. “I had a little bit of a head start since we’d already been introduced. They have some pretty aggressive acquisition goals, and it was something that I had experience in and knew I could make things happen.” On February 4th, after interviewing with Brandon Abbott, Eric got the job.
It’s all about relationships
One of Eric’s major focuses is to nurture broker relationships. “We like to source off-market deals through brokers instead of just looking at all the on-market deals,” Eric said. “To get those deals, you need to have good relationships with those people.” He also analyzes deals to determine which deals are the ones worth pursuing. Then once a deal is put in place, he’ll manage the deal flow. “It means traveling to different markets,” Eric explained. “Brandon and I recently spent some time in Texas, hopping from Austin to Houston to San Antonio to Dallas and then to Fort Worth, meeting up with different brokers. My being in this role allows Brandon to be more high level and have a big picture vision for the acquisitions department. Our acquisitions team is also spending a week in Florida to establish relationships with brokers and tour possible acquisitions to complement our most recent off-market acquisition, the Monterosso Apartments.”
One thing that differs from the previous multifamily company Eric worked for is how closely PassiveInvesting.com works with their property management company. “Brandon and I always communicate with and get a pro forma from our property management company to ensure we’re on the same page,” Eric said. “They are the ones who will be managing the property, so they need to be aware of what expectations we have for income and expenses and stabilization time.”
The right people in the right positions
Another thing that Eric feels sets PassiveInvesting.com apart is that they have the right people in the right positions. “Everyone is good at what they do,” Eric said. “Once we get a deal under contract, we have Brian, the Director of Asset Management, running the due diligence alongside our property manager. Partners Dan, Danny, and Brandon do a good job of running the process but also give their team members the freedom they need to do their jobs well. We have Melissa (Broom) drumming up marketing and information materials for investors. And we have Andrew (Davis) communicating with investors. Along with the efforts of our analyst, Chris, this allows me to pass a deal to the team and the property management company and then quickly focus on getting another good deal under contract knowing that everything is being taken care of.”
Eric, who still lives in Charlotte, likes to go boating on Lake Norman and enjoys visiting Charlotte breweries with his girlfriend, Sydney. His parents live nearby in the Lake Norman area. Eric enjoys spending quality with them and his many aunts, uncles, and cousins (his mom has six siblings; his dad has four siblings). One of Eric’s motivations is the legacy of Poppee, his great grandfather, who, as the son of Italian immigrants, became a successful businessman and made a lasting impact on his friends, community, and generations of family. His goal is to create a legacy and work hard to be a force of good for his loved ones and community like Poppee was.
Profits that will exceed your expectations
Eric feels that his previous experience in the real estate industry has prepared him to hit the ground running and do his job effectively. “Starting in property management at my first job helped more than I thought it would,” he said. “I know what actually goes on at the properties. Property management is where the real work gets done, and that’s where the returns are made for our investors. Plus, working as an analyst, looking into a property’s financials taught me how to know what factors make a good deal and what factors make a bad deal. Combining boots on the ground knowledge of how properties are run with a detailed understanding of the financials allows me to create realistic projections for our acquisitions.”
Eric’s message to investors? “We appreciate the responsibility to take care of your capital. We work hard to secure deals that have a competitive advantage and produce returns that meet, and hopefully exceed, your expectations.”