How 1 Rental Property Saved Corey Kent’s Financial Future

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Just six years ago, Corey Kent was a broke college graduate, renting out half of a room to save money, eating the same meal every day of the week. His dream was to make a living as a musician without selling out. Now, most country music fans know Corey’s name and his platinum record speaks for itself. But what you don’t know is that Corey fueled his music career thanks to a handful of properties he bought years ago.

Corey’s side project real estate portfolio allowed him to launch his music career, make passive income when times got tough, and fall on his feet when the world was shut down. Corey was looking to invest in property at just seventeen years old, but when a bank turned him away, he had to change his entire mindset and learn the personal finance game from a very early age.

After his grandfather taught him the do’s and don’ts of buying raw land, Corey slowly built his real estate portfolio. At this time, Corey was below the poverty line, sleeping in his truck and saving whatever money he could to invest. He continued to buy property, EVEN when times were tight, successfully using his passive income to help him leapfrog into later becoming a chart-topping musician who now can follow his one true passion.

David:
This is the BiggerPockets Podcast show 809.

Corey:
I graduated college. You get to write on top of your graduation cap. For me, I wrote, “Never made a resume” because I went to school with the mentality of I’m going to learn as much as I can and I’m going to network and I’m going to just taking life experience. For me, I was taking in ammunition to write songs. I knew that’s what I wanted to do. And I wanted to have an education, but I did not want to have a backup plan. So I went and got an education and then I went and chased my dream. That was definitely a result of being raised with an open mind of like, “I can go and start a business.” It took quite a while, but I was able to do pretty well.

David:
What’s going on, everyone? This is David Greene, your host of the BiggerPockets Podcast. And in case you forgot, we are the biggest, the best, and the baddest real estate podcast in the world every week, bringing you stories, how-tos, and answers that you need to make smart decisions in real estate now in this current market under these current conditions, which is where you got to make your decisions.
Today, we’ve got an awesome show for you. Rob and I are joined by Corey Kent, a country music singer whose career is exploding. Check out his album Blacktop. He’s going to be touring with Jason Aldean and we talked a little bit about his music career and a lot about his real estate portfolio. Corey has an incredible story from starting off sleeping in trundle beds, sharing a $250 room with someone else and eating nothing but chicken and rice to being one of the biggest stars in country music today and using real estate to supplement some of his wealth along with the family that he’s creating. I mean, we get into everything from living in the country, buying raw land, how to negotiate, what to look for in these deals, partnering with other people, short-term rentals. There’s a lot of stuff. Rob, what do you think people should keep an eye out for to help them with their own portfolio success?

Rob:
I think this is a very inspiring episode for many reasons, but I think the number one reason is that Corey really reiterated throughout the episode that real estate has not been his main thing. It’s always been somewhat of a side… Now, I wouldn’t even say side hustle because he’s been so successful at it, but it hasn’t been the number one focus of his life. And even then, even the fact that it has not been the focus, it has really helped him create wealth. It has helped him through certain financial situations that he faced during COVID. And it just goes to show that investing even in small ways and doing it consistently, you always have a plan B through real estate if you can hold onto it. And I thought that was just really cool.
A lot of people here are just like, “We have a lot of really inspiring guests that come on and talk about their mega portfolios and everything like that,” but I also think it’s nice to hear some people that are like, “Yeah, I do this on the side and I make a great income from it and it helps supplement my main job,” which for him happens to be like a mega successful music career.

David:
Yeah, Corey mentioned how real estate actually got him through some of the toughest times of his career to get him to this point right now. So listen all the way to the end of today’s show because you’re going to want to hear Corey’s full story.

Rob:
You’re going to want to how?

David:
You’re going to want to hear it. But before we get to Corey, today’s quick tip is if you like Corey’s album, Blacktop, keep an eye out for my next album, Greentop. It’ll be even better. Just kidding. The real quick tip is going to be, always look at the school system where you’re going to be buying. If you don’t know where to start, possibly consider thinking about raw land. There’s less competition for these assets. And if you’re a value add investor, there’s lots of ways that you can buy raw land, improve it, and then sell it to a developer for quite the handsome profit. Speaking of handsome profits, Rob, do you want to predict the future?

Rob:
Do I want to predict the future? No. But I will say that at the barbershop, my haircut is called the Rob Top. So for those of you that are asking like, “Hey, what did I tell my barber?” I just call it the Rob Top.

David:
That is actually very funny. Let us know in the comments what you think about Rob’s hair, my potential for a Greentop album, and Corey’s interview. Let’s bring him in.
Corey Kent, welcome to the BiggerPockets Podcast. Nice to have you on today. For those who don’t know Corey, he’s been investing for a total of six years. He started at the ripe old age of 22. Very impressive. Rob, I don’t know what you were doing at 22, but it probably wasn’t buying a bunch of houses and being cool.

Rob:
Nope.

David:
In the past three years, you’ve done six deals. You’ve done long-term rentals, short-term rentals, invested in land and house hacked all while being a musician by day. And that’s kind of downplaying what you’re actually doing here. We’ll let you talk about your career in a minute. You’re a father of three kids. Don’t know how you did that. I could barely manage three houses. You’re also doing this while being a dad. And fun fact, you just relieved an album called Blacktop. Everybody should go check that out as you’re listening to the show. Google Corey Kent Blacktop and get that. Thanks for being here with us, Corey.

Corey:
Man, so excited. A fan of the show and obviously have some real estate interests. Everything’s kind of culminating. My music career led me here, so it’s pretty cool.

David:
Yeah. And shout out to your manager, George Corey, who reached out to me years ago. He was also a fan of the show and met Brandon Turner and then met me. He’s been a very cool guy in a lot of ways. So before we get into your backstory here, music is one of the jobs that takes so much time and attention. I imagine that you’re pursuing a more passive real estate strategy. How many hours a week are you spending on your real estate portfolio currently?

Corey:
Yeah, so I’m a very passive real estate investor, meaning I don’t have a lot of time to give to it. There was a point where I was a little more… In the super education, I knew nothing, and I had to educate myself. So that was a period of time where I was spending a lot more time per week on it. I would say now, if it’s not pretty much an autopilot investment, if I don’t feel like I can get it to that point, then it’s probably not a fit for me just because my music career has exploded over the last two years. And I would say a rough estimate, I’m spending maybe two hours a week on my real estate investments. I’ve sacrificed some profit just for the sake of not having a headache. So I have property managers in place and I’m taking a more long-term approach to a lot of these properties, whereas early on I was trying to wheel and deal a little more.

Rob:
Sure. Sure. I mean, obviously being a musician kind of at your level, your schedule must be kind of crazy. So what does a typical week look like for you?

Corey:
Oh, man. A typical week right now is as hectic as it’s ever been. Obviously, you said I got three kids at home, they’re five, three, and one. I’m married, so I have a lot of personal relationships to keep up with and to keep in a healthy standing that take time. But my music career is insane. Right now, we’re playing 120, 130 shows every year, plus travel days on each side of those. So we’re gone a couple hundred days a year.
A typical week for me looks like maybe if I’m lucky, I have two or three days at home in a week. We’re about to go on tour with Jason Aldean for the next five months. I’ll get to go home, I don’t know, maybe 20 days total during that five month stretch. So it’s pretty crazy. A typical day is like we just went to a tour bus, which has been life-changing. Everything I do has been business-centered, right? So we wanted to go to a bus, but we didn’t want to go into debt to go to a bus. So we put it to a band vote a handful of times.
Even after having a number one hit, even after having a platinum record, we still were in a van and trailer because we were building it long-term and we wanted it to be sustainable. And so we just now went to a bus, and that has been life-changing because my days, instead of driving ourselves through the middle of the night after a show in a van and sleeping in a bench seat and taking shifts driving, we now have a bus and a bunch of bunks and a driver. So we play the show, get off-stage, shower, hop in a bunk, and then eight hours later we wake up in the next town and we do it all over again. So there’s relatively no routine, but we’re trying to make some routine out of the crazy lifestyle that we have.

Rob:
Man, that’s really cool. Well, everyone stick around until the very end because Corey’s actually going to be performing. No, I’m just kidding. Imagine if we just dropped that on you. Okay, so that’s awesome, man. I love to hear it. You’re a very down to earth guy, dude. We were just chatting before this for a bit. Can you tell us a little bit about your life before you found real estate? What was your family like and any lessons that came from their influence?

Corey:
Totally. I come from a long line of entrepreneurs. I think the main lesson that I’ve learned from each of them is you get out of it what you put into it, right? I’ve seen a lot of people in my family hustle their way into a great life. My grandfather has a big cattle operation and thousands of acres. He’s the one that taught me how to invest in land and what to look for, what he looks for when buying property, and that’s where the real estate bug appeared in my life. I just saw what he was able to build for himself.
He bought some property when he was just starting a family. The list price he tells me was like 300 bucks an acre, and he wanted it because he knew the guy, his father-in-law owned the piece next door and he said, “If that guy wants that property, then I want the property next to it because I think he’s wise.” He over bids on this property because there’s multiple offers on it. He ends up buying it at $1,000 an acre, and everybody thought he was absolutely insane. And now frontage on the road in the town, it’s going for 120,000 to $250,000 an acre in this town. Now, granted that’s 50 years later, but he bought up thousands of acres. So he was the guy that opened my mind to, “Wow, there’s things that I can do outside of my daily job that can help provide for my family. I can be wise with what I create and I generate to reinvest to further my life and my family.”
And then outside of that, just seeing the freedom that comes along with being your own boss in whatever capacity that might be. My mom owned a clothing store, a women’s boutique for 20 something years. My dad has his own law firm. For me, I became a musician and I just approached it like a business. Even though it’s not the most businessy thing that you could do, it’s what my skillset was, and I’ve enjoyed the freedom that comes along with controlling my own time.

Rob:
Yeah, man, that’s really cool. Yeah, I mean, having a family of entrepreneurs grow up in that environment, I’m sure it really influences a lot for you, right? So, would you say that entrepreneurial mindset influenced your choice to pursue music?

Corey:
Yeah, absolutely. Actually, I saw a photo. I graduated college 2016 from Oklahoma State. You get to write on top of your, your graduation cap. It’s kind of like a thing there. Well, for me I wrote “Never made a resume” on top of my cap because I went to school with the mentality of I’m going to learn as much as I can and I’m going to network and I’m going to just take in life experience. For me, I was taking in ammunition to write songs. I knew that’s what I wanted to do. And I wanted to have an education, but I did not want to have a backup plan. So I didn’t apply for jobs, I didn’t make a resume. I went and got an education and then I went and chased my dream. That was definitely a result of being raised with an open mind of like, I can go and start a business. I can hustle. I can live simply until I get where I want to go, until I get my business off the ground. And it took quite a while, but I was able to do pretty well.

Rob:
Man, that’s so cool. So you really didn’t give yourself a plan B?

Corey:
No, I definitely knew what I wanted to go after. My mentality and my personality have always been, I guess, high risk tolerant. I just turned 29, so I see myself as I have a position where I can swing for the fences and strike out and lose everything and still by 35 rebuild everything. I see the advantage of my age, and therefore it makes me a little more apt to take some big swings. And especially coming out of college, I was like, “Man, I don’t have any money anyways. I might as well go after what I want to go after. The jobs are always going to be there. I got my business degree, but I didn’t want to settle for anything less than what I was passionate about.” And that’s where this podcast and real estate, and that’s why I’m here, is because real estate enabled me to keep chasing that dream even when the dream wasn’t paying for itself. And so it has a really cool place in my journey of just keeping my dream alive.

David:
Yeah. So music can be a notoriously fickle business. Do you remember anything that you did before your career really gained some traction to save some money, like what you were eating or how you just survived?

Corey:
Oh, man. Yeah. I have a horrible example for you, but actually it was so prevalent. We had a house. A bunch of my buddies and I had a house in college and the rooms were like 250 bucks a room, so it’s already cheap. Well, me and my best friend who now lives seven houses down from me in Texas, and he’s raising his family right next door, we decided 250 bucks wasn’t cheap enough so we split the room. So we were both living or sleeping on trundle beds. So one bed folded under the next. And while I was living in that house, every day I ate canned chicken and rice for lunch and dinner.

David:
I feel like I’m talking to a young me. This is my whole life, man.

Corey:
I remember I had a mentor that was like, “Live like nobody else lives now so that you can live like no one else lives later.” And that just stuck with me. I just remember going, “Okay, when I’m married, when I have a family, I don’t want to have to really scrimp and just get by. I want to be able to do the things that I’ve always envisioned doing with my family. And so I’m going to live really simply now so that I can set myself up well later.” My mentality has evolved since that point, but I think there’s something good about being uncomfortable and making yourself be creative. To the extent that my roommates from that house of almost 10, well, seven years ago now, the roommates from that house texted me after I signed my record deal, and they were like, “Congratulations, man! We’re so happy for you. Does this mean you’re not eating canned chicken and rice anymore?” It was such a funny moment, man, but I value those days. It taught me a lot.

David:
So you moved to Nashville at 17, and that was the first time that you tried to buy a house. This was your initial foray into real estate, which is crazy that you’re doing that at 17, man. I’m still in high school at 17. What happened on that deal?

Corey:
Yeah. So I was driving around Nashville, and East Nashville was kind of the place that I felt like I could afford to buy a house at 17 years old. I don’t know why I thought I could afford that. It just seemed reasonably priced, I guess. But basically, I went to the bank and said, “Hey, I found this house. It’s $120,000. I think I can buy it. I can rent a room out. I can definitely handle this payment.” And they looked at me and they were like, “Absolutely not. We’re not giving you any money.” And I went, “Why not? I know I can make this payment. Look at my income.” Now, it wasn’t great, but it could cover the payment. And the response was, “Well, you don’t have any credit.” And I was like, “Well, how do I get credit?” And they were like, “Well, you don’t have any, so that’s going to be tough to do.”
And so I went to my parents, I said, “How do I get credit? How do I establish credit as a 17-year-old kid?” And my parents really didn’t have a great answer for me either. So I basically walked back into the bank and I said, “Here’s 500 bucks. Can you give me some sort of credit and just take this. If I don’t pay it back, you can keep the 500 bucks.” And they were like, “Oh, a secured line of credit.” It’s like whatever you want to call it, right? And that is the first time that I really even knew what credit was. That sounds horrible. I knew what a credit card was and what it did, but I didn’t know how to go get one. So I just started there. Obviously, I didn’t get to buy the house. And wouldn’t you know it, that same house, I watched it sell for 400 something thousand dollars a couple years ago. So my sniffer was working, but I didn’t have the means to do it, but it sent me down a path of like, I have a lot that I need to learn.
And I think that’s why I’m so passionate about… If you talk to my friends in my band, I’m passionate about helping people make their first purchase in real estate because there’s nobody that had less knowledge or resource than I did just on the onset. I just had to start from absolute scratch and go figure out how to get in a position to buy something. And I’m super glad that I have, because like I said, it set my family up really well. But that’s where it all started.

Rob:
Yeah. So you start building up the credit side of things. You obviously get rejected on this house, but what is that moment like? Are you defeated and are you like, “Okay, this isn’t for me”? Or were you just willing to go through the process to get you to the first house? What was that mindset at that time?

Corey:
Man, I mean, I was 17. I was super naive. But the world was a big adventure to me. I graduated high school a year early to move to Nashville, to chase a dream of writing songs. And when I got there, I realized, “Hey, it’s probably cheaper if I buy a house than to rent one from somebody, so let me try to go buy one. Oh man, there’s a whole nother world that I know nothing about. Now I’m intrigued. And this seems like a challenge.” Which if you know anything about my personality, I love that. So I just felt like it was a good healthy challenge and I didn’t think anything of it really other than, “I want to try to figure this out.” Yeah.

Rob:
Yeah. Cool. So for context, what was your household income at that time?

Corey:
Oh my gosh. At 17, dude, I was literally eating subway $5 footlongs and having them split into thirds. At the shop, I go in the morning, I’d be like, “Can you make me bake an egg and cheese $5 footlong and split it into thirds?” because that’s breakfast, lunch and dinner. I mean, maybe, maybe if I was lucky I was making like $20,000. That was just side hustles, like singing demos and crashing on friend’s couches. I was sleeping in my truck at this point. When I overstayed at my welcome on my friend’s couch, there was no money to be had. And that’s part of why really the bank was like, “Absolutely not. We’re not going to loan you any money. You’re a 17-year-old kid that is a freelance musician.” So I get it, but yeah, you got to find ways to navigate around your circumstances. And a few years later, I was buying land and just kept going.

David:
So your first official real estate deal wasn’t actually a property because you couldn’t get the loan. So what did you end up doing?

Corey:
Yeah, so my first property was a raw piece of land in Williamson County, Tennessee that we still have to this day. It’s beautiful. Really, it’s like a five and a half acre subdivided, rolling hills, beautiful trees, property. Basically, I knew that we couldn’t go ride out and buy a house at that point, but I knew that I wanted to get my feet wet in real estate. My wife and I, were living really simply and we knew we had a little bit of money that we could either allocate towards savings or we could allocate towards something like land. And so, I just kind of obviously talked through this with my wife and we reframed our mindset to, “This land is going to be our savings.”
And that opened up our minds a little bit, much more than it was to the possibility of being able to put ourselves in a position to go purchase something. Because I think a lot of people, at least people my age, their barrier to entry is like, “I have to have a ton of money saved up. I have to have excess rolling in order to make my first purchase. Or I got to have a lot sitting in an account somewhere.” And really what it came down to is I had made a relationship with a bank and they took a chance on me and I bought this land, and I had it paid off within two years, even on super low income. I just put every spare dollar that we had towards that with the mentality of, “This is our savings account. It’s okay if there’s not a lot left over at the end of every month because this is our savings.”

Rob:
And so, tell us about that piece of land. What did it cost? Did you have any partners on it? Was it just yours?

Corey:
Yeah, so no partners on the land. I don’t think we had a co-signer. Yeah, in fact, I know we didn’t have a co-signer or anything. It was listed at, I want to say $135,000 and we got them to 119,000. And I was really feeling defeated by that. I remember going, “Man, if I can’t get this at $100,000, then I feel like it’s just too expensive.” But I knew we could make the payment. I just was on principle wanting to “win the deal,” win the negotiation. And so I remember my grandfather telling me like, “Hey, every piece of land that I’ve ever purchased felt a little too expensive. And in hindsight, it’s always been a good move.” And so within my parameters, I was like, “This fits the description that I’ve heard my grandpa preach.” And so I pulled the trigger on it.
Even at closing, I was like, “Man, did we just get taken?” And then a couple years later, that property’s doubled in price. So it’s been a great move, but it was a… I don’t even know what we could actually get for it. I’ve just seen what other properties around have sold for, and it’s more than doubled what we purchased for. What it did was it gave me tool in my tool belt. And what I mean by that is now two years after buying this piece of land, I had it paid off and then I was able to use it as collateral to go move quickly on other deals even when I didn’t have the cash reserves to move quickly.

Rob:
So tell us what changed about your financial situation? Was the music side of your career starting to take off? Because rewind a bit, and just the bank basically said no, right? And they’re like, “No, thank you.” And then now we fast-forward to this land purchase that you buy, and then not only did you buy it, but you paid it off in two years. Was it always a plan to pay it off in two years?

Corey:
I was very, very afraid of debt, incredibly afraid of debt, very much so like Dave Ramsey, “You should never buy anything that you can’t pay for in cash” and all that sort of stuff. And so this was a real risk for me, and so I wanted to pay it off as soon as possible because I felt like there was a monkey on my back. And that’s how I learned about equity jail, right? I’m tying up all of this money into something. I’m not sure it was the wisest use, but the only way that I’ve really ever been able to learn is firsthand. That was a great learning experience for me.
But what changed was I met somebody at a bank, a president of a small bank, and it kind of opened the conversation to, “Look, I don’t have the typical income, but let me show you everything that I have.” They were willing to do an in-house loan, and we did an adjustable rate mortgage. It wasn’t a conventional loan of any sort. They were able to just take a chance on a kid from Oklahoma, and it was a small Oklahoma bank. I didn’t really know it at the time, but what paying off that land in two years did was it built their faith in me, right? They went, “Oh, shoot, this 22 year old kid just knocked out his land loan and now he’s asking to buy a rental property. Yeah, maybe we’ll take another swing on him.”
And so, if I’m talking to my peers and my friends about their real estate investment, I’m saying, ‘Hey, look, I didn’t have a lot when I started. I didn’t make a lot when I started. And the most important thing I can tell you is build relationships, because that’s what opened the door for me in the first place.” And so, I kind of measure everything now in my life by, “Can I pick up the phone and call or text somebody?” Whether that’s my lender or whether that’s my manager or whether that’s any part of my business, I want to have them at a quick response. And that has made all the difference in every purchase and sale that I’ve made since then, is just having a personal contact and relationship with each team member.

Rob:
Yeah, that’s an important skill and arguably the most important skill to have because you have to understand who to call instead of trying to figure out how to solve the problem yourself. And so yeah, you said this piece of land was about 100,000 bucks. Were you making more money at that point and that’s how you were able to pay off that land in two years?

Corey:
No, not really. Basically, the simplest way to put it is we found this program where we were living in an apartment in downtown Nashville, my wife and I. This apartment had a position where if you hosted three events a month, you got 75% off your rent, meaning you put on socials for the apartment complex to build community. And so, we took that position and I was writing songs, so I had a really small salary from Warner Chappell, the songwriting company that I was writing for, and we lived really simply and we didn’t have kids. We had one on the way at this point.
We just lived so minimally, but not cheaply. I don’t know how to explain the difference really, but it wasn’t like we were eating canned chicken and rice still, right? We were living normal life.

Rob:
You spent money on what was important, but you didn’t splurge on the things that weren’t important.

Corey:
Absolutely. We’re still going out to celebrate things and we’re living a normal life, but we were finding a way creatively to do it really affordably. And so, instead of spending 1,500 bucks a month on rent, we’re spending 650 I think is what we were paying, which is hard to believe now because everything’s so expensive. But we just got creative and then took the excess. And instead of upping our lifestyle, we put it into this glorified savings account called raw land.

Rob:
So, you mentioned that it checked a lot of the boxes that seemed to line up with what your grandpa’s criteria when he bought land. Can you just talk about some of that? What were some of the boxes you were checking with this piece of land when you made the offer?

Corey:
Yeah, I mean the first… This is kind of something that I’ve learned, something that was mentioned, but I’ve found really useful is following the school systems. That was the layman’s term, super simple way for me to identify an area that I thought was going to do well over the next 10 years, right? And that was the only barometer I had for moving to a different state and buying real estate. I didn’t know the areas like I do in Oklahoma. So I followed the school system and I knew that Williamson County had great school systems and there were towns in that county that were still pretty undeveloped and had a lot of room for growth. And that’s kind of how I identified Fairview. And then once I identified the town, I had a couple conversations with my grandfather. Pretty simple things that rang true was like he always looked at buying properties that have hardwood trees on them like instant rebates almost, because you can have those trees thinned and make some money on that, and somebody will come in and buy those. So that was one tip.
Obviously, this piece of property wasn’t big enough for that to really play a big factor, but it did have some hardwoods on it. So that’s what caught my eye initially. And then it was in an area that the roads are nice and everything is starting to… You can tell that there’s some younger couples moving out that way, but it was very early on. So between like, “Always purchased the mineral rights” and just stuff that I’ve heard growing up from grandpa coupled with following the school system, that was enough to get me interested in this piece of land. And then I looked around at the people that were buying properties on either side of me and talking with them. Like one of the properties on the left of us sold. I went and talked to this guy. He was a pretty successful guy in real estate. And honestly, just being naive and asking a bunch of dumb questions, he kind of gave me his rundown on why he was purchasing this piece of land, and it just added to my confidence in the property.
So I think doing your due diligence of who’s in the area. It always helped me to talk to the neighbors and get a feel for the area too.

David:
Once you buy this land, what do you do with it?

Corey:
I’ve done absolutely nothing with it. Honestly, we bought it because my wife and I wanted to move to the country. We were living in downtown Nashville. But my wife is from Coppell, Texas, which is a suburb of Dallas. And I just remember going, “Man, before we move out to the country and try to go build a house or buy a house or whatever, let’s make sure that we like it first.” So to this day, we actually haven’t done anything with the land. It’s the last remaining vacant lot. There’s like 10 or 15, five and a half acre tracks of land, and they all have brand new beautiful homes on them. And then there’s our piece.
Our plan has kind of changed. We bought this land thinking we’d stay in Tennessee for a long time, and that wasn’t what ended up happening. Even before we had the funds to build a house, that was the dream on that piece of land, we didn’t have the ability to go build a custom house. So the next purchase was we bought a primary residence on the outskirts of town in the country and found out… I’m glad we did that because we found out that my wife didn’t love living in the country as much as we thought she would. It’s Chip and Joanna Gaines, make it look very appealing on TV, but it’s not always what it seems.
So we still have that piece of land, and I think we’re approaching a phase of life where our kids are five, three and one, and as they get older, they’ll be a little less high maintenance, right? Most of them are completely dependent right now. So I think we’re approaching a season of life where we could move a little further out and be on some acres and really enjoy it. But at the time, we had our first kid and we didn’t have any family in the area, and so living in the country was kind of isolating. So we just kind of set it aside. The property taxes on that piece of property relative to rental houses and Airbnbs and those sort of things, it is just so low. And once it’s paid off, it’s just the easiest, most low maintenance thing to hold onto.

David:
So failed dreams made of shiplap and what you learned.

Corey:
Exactly. And don’t trust HGTV.

David:
In general, yes. Every single person that wants to become a real estate agent sees it on HGTV, people that look at renovating houses, it’s nothing, nothing like that at all. And we all know that it’s nothing like that, but yet we still get sucked into thinking it. So, that’s funny. You actually move out to the country and you’re like, “Oh, there’s a septic tank. There’s mosquitoes everywhere.” When I have to go to the grocery store, it’s like 35 minutes each way, right?

Rob:
That was the worst part.

David:
There’s no Chipotle’s anywhere.

Rob:
Oh my gosh. Yeah. So we lived on 52 acres in Gatlinburg, and so I was like, “It’s land. We’re on a mountain, we have views of the mountains.” And then it’s like an hour away from the nearest big city Knoxville, and that was coming right off of COVID, so it was a little bit… We were already corn heating for a year, and then we moved out to 52 acres and it kind of felt like we were secluded again. And so I feel you, man. It’s tough. It’s tough for sure. It’s beautiful, but it’s tough.

Corey:
It reminded me a lot of homes, so I actually loved it, the town that we were living in, but… And this is mainly a phase of life thing. My wife would thrive in the country given the right circumstances. But a new baby, isolated, no family, no friends, new city, it was just tough.

David:
Yeah. You need formula, you need diapers, you need Robitussin. That’s a whole event to have to go pick up that stuff. I could totally… Versus when your kids are older and they could go ride a horse or ride a dirt bike around or go fishing somewhere close.

Corey:
Yeah, you just kick them out and you say, “Go play.”

Rob:
Driving in a vehicle with a newborn for 30 to 60 minutes is also… Wooh!

Corey:
Yeah, we learned that one firsthand too. Yeah, that was an interesting season.

David:
So you mentioned short-term rentals in there. What did you end up moving on to after this land?

Corey:
Yeah, so living in Nashville, we bought the land. Then we tested out living in the country by buying our primary in Dixon, Tennessee. Then the next purchase that we made was a rental property in downtown Nashville. I was basically going back and forth. We were transitioning to living in Texas, so I’m coming back and forth from Nashville to Texas and Texas to Nashville, and I don’t have a place to stay. So I’m, again, back to sleeping on friends’ couches. We had rented out our primary residence in Dixon, so that became a rental. The land’s still sitting there.
I’m staying at a friend’s house one night crashing on their couch, and it’s a tiny little place, maybe 700, 800 square feet. They loved where they lived, but they wanted more space. And so I was talking with them and basically said, “Okay, well if you don’t mind me asking, how much do you pay in rent?” And they told me and I was like, “Man, that seems like a bit much for the tiny spot that you guys have here. Would you guys be willing to move?” And they were like, “Yeah, actually we’re trying to find a place that’s bigger. We just can’t find one.” And so, I made a deal with them. I said, “If you move into the house that I buy, I’ll let you pick the area. If we both agree on an area, we’ll buy the house. I’ll let you live there. I’ll match your rent. And then you just let me have a room to stay in when I’m in town, which was every month.” And they were like, “Deal.”
So after a few months of shopping around, we ended up buying a house a little bit north of Nashville, inside the river though, inside the Cumberland River so on the downtown side. Bought a little house, and that was the first time that I accidentally walked into house hacking. It was great. It served a purpose for me. It helped them. It was just like a mutually beneficial thing that since then I wish that I would’ve learned about that prior to being married, because that’s a whole different dynamic when you have a spouse involved in that. But I also, that’s one thing that I keep telling all my buddies is like, “Man, just buy a house and fill it with your buddies and have them pay rent. And then move out and fill it with that third friend to take your spot and then go do it again.’ It’s just so simple and you get the benefit of living there for a couple of years as your primary and moving on, and tax implications are all different.

David:
There’s something I think really powerful about you splitting a $250 room, sleeping on a trundle bed, eating chicken and rice that lights a fire under you to go work hard because you’re not comfortable. Pain is like the most powerful motivator anyone could have. So everyone wakes up with a dream in their heart of some sort, but you went and chased it because sleeping on a trundle bed, listening to another guy snoring fart all night isn’t the most fun experience to have, right? There’s something that’s compelling you to go work harder that actually probably if you look back, helped you on your investing journey, helped you on your music journey, you got to have some kind of fight in you. And when you’re too comfortable, you get a W2 job, they put the golden handcuffs on you, all your money’s going to rent in this apartment complex, you just get into a rut of doing the same thing all the time.
And then when you get out of the house hacking where you’re sleeping on the trundle bed, now you provide that to somebody else. Now someone else gets that fire that they’re getting to save money. They can move out of the house at 20 instead of staying at home until they’re 30 because they can’t afford housing and they just complain about it on Twitter all day. It’s a better model to build. And that’s what I just love about what you’re saying. You look like you were going to comment there.

Corey:
Yeah. What you’re saying about pain being a… Or maybe discomfort is even a better word for it, being a motivator, yeah, I mean both in real estate, but primarily in music. We should just put a big disclaimer on this whole thing. Real estate is something that I do completely on the side, and that’s another point that I just want to share with friends and peers, is like, this doesn’t have to be your primary passion in order for you to succeed here, in order for it to be worth your time.
But music, I’ve been discomforted so many times and it’s led to the biggest breakthroughs. For example, during COVID, my wife and I were moving to Texas, 2019, and I got dropped from my publishing deal, which is essentially getting fired. I’ve never been fired from anything in my life. I got dropped from my publishing deal, and the only thing that was keeping us in Nashville was that contract. And so, we had our first baby and our second one was on the way and we just decided, “You know what? We want to raise our family close to grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. We’re going to move to Texas.” And everybody in the music field was like, “Hey, the worst thing you could ever do for your music career is to leave Music City.”
We decided we’re going to work twice as hard from Texas, we’ll let God figure out the rest, and we moved. And as soon as we got there, the whole world shuts down for a couple of years and music is no longer a viable way to make an income. So I got faced with a couple of different things. One of them was I got to choose between unemployment or taking a new job and learning how to do something new. So I ended up going to work at a couple of different places, worked at a motorcycle shop, ultimately ended up landing at a pavement company, which is why I called my record Blacktop. There’s a whole backstory there. But what ended up happening was in a season of life where I had very little income and our savings was just completely depleted, I had a property that I was able to sell. And the day that my second daughter was born, we closed on this property and it was the first time I’d ever sold anything. And I just remember going, “This saved us. This put us in a position to survive.”
I hope that an era like COVID never happens again. And I hope that a bunch of people that are listening to this weren’t affected in ways that drastic, but it completely totaled everything for us and took us back to square zero. And if it were not for real estate, my number one hit, my debut record on a major label, my touring career, the way that I’m able to provide for my family would’ve been dead in the water. So it really opened up some opportunities for me to just keep my dream alive during a really tough time. And a couple years later, things start opening up again and I’m able to hustle and we have some rental income that whole time, but it definitely was the thing that kept things possible.

David:
All right. So let’s recap the portfolio that you’ve built, by the way, as a side project with your music career exploding. So what’s it look like now?

Corey:
Yeah. So in order of purchases, we bought that raw land at like $112,000, paid that off in a couple years. That thing’s roughly doubled. We ended up using that later on down the line, like I said, on that to collateralize the down payment on the Airbnb that we just sold. We bought a rental property in downtown Nashville for 319,000, and that would go for upwards of 425,000, 450,000 now. We’re continuing to rent that because we have a good interest rate on it and we have some of the best tenants ever. That’s a completely hassle-free, profitable, non headache property, which is what I’m going for at this point in my career.
I think there’ll come a time where I’m open to and have more time to really invest and take on some more difficult projects. But we have our primary residence in Frisco, Texas we bought at 505,000. And Frisco continues to explode, so who knows where that one will end up? I’ve already got out of order, apologies. But we sold a property in Dixon, Tennessee. We purchased it at 269,000. Did nothing to it. A couple years later, sold it at 325,000. Some of that is luck of the timing, but again, we followed the school system. We found a brand new house that wasn’t selling for some reason, went in and put in an offer, got it under asking and then got to exit. That was that sale that came through during COVID that we just really needed. So that was perfect timing.
And then what I’ve learned recently here in real estate is since our music career has grown and we’ve started to make more money, we’ve had to look for some opportunities to find some tax breaks. And so, we bought a cabin in Broken Bow, Oklahoma, which is where all of my family’s land and cattle operation is. We bought that for $675,000. It’s a short-term rental cabin. It’s beautiful. It’s brand new. What we did was we did a cost seg analysis on this property and they found way more deductions. And for people like me, like layman’s terms, a cost seg analysis basically allows you to depreciate the cabinets and the things that are going to depreciate and deteriorate faster than 30 years. So, we were able to do that with some of the additional income that we have coming in now, and it builds our real estate portfolio, but it also lightens our tax burden and it just helps everything overall.
And then the last piece is we have a really passive investment in downtown Nashville where we put… What was it? We put $25,000 into a purchase of three and a half acres on Demonbreun, which is one of the main roads in Nashville and downtown. There’s a bunch of bars and commercial buildings there now. They’re going to essentially let the leases expire and go up and build multi fam. And so then we’ll have the opportunity to buy into that again on the multi fam side, or we can exit, or we can just let our initial investment ride.
We’re learning. I just keep getting my feet wet and all of these different little sectors of real estate. I think the next thing I really want to try is my buddy and I that bought that Airbnb, we want to go into some multi-unit, multi fam, something together, because we’re just learning. It’s really hard to buy individual properties right now that cashflow without being very, very hands-on. And that’s not a position I find myself capable of at the moment. So we’re looking to learn more and just take another swing in some other area and keep growing.

Rob:
That’s awesome, man. That is quite the journey. I mean, I know you think of it as sort of a side thing, but given the success and everything like that, I think it’s really encouraging for a lot of people at home to listen to this and understand that you don’t have to do real estate full-time to build wealth and use that wealth to get you out of tough financial points if you ever need it. So it’s really cool, and I appreciate you coming on to the show and sharing that with us, man.

Corey:
Yeah, man. Well, thank you guys for having me. I know that I’m definitely an outlier in this show, but I’ve listened to a lot of these and thought to myself like, “Man, these people have built these amazing portfolios.” But I don’t feel like I have anything that’s relatable in terms of my life stage or what I have. And so hopefully, it just encourages somebody who’s on the fence about taking a swing and going for their first deal. Hopefully, it encourages them to realize that you don’t have to be as far along as you think you might to pull the trigger the first time.

David:
Well, there’s this cookie cutter formula that typically gets sold to people who don’t want to invest in real estate. And it really formed, I feel like, in 2010 after the last crash when everybody was afraid. So they would portray real estate in a way that was less scary, where we would say, “Buy a property, get a couple hundred bucks a month of cashflow. Buy another one, do the same thing. Get 50 of them, and then you’ll have financial freedom.” You have taken advantage of many of the ways that real estate builds wealth and fit it into your life, which is successful in other areas outside of that cookie cutter model. You bought land, which most people would never even consider doing because land doesn’t cashflow unless you’re using it to raise cattle on or pump oil out of or something like that. Well, that land is doubled in price. So even though you haven’t made cashflow every single month, you’ve made a lot of money from that real estate.
Well, if you’re making money from your music career, you don’t need the land to cashflow. You just need to have it in a good area with good schools where it’s going to appreciate. Then you bought a short-term rental, which provided some cashflow to make up for some of the other properties that weren’t doing as well, but they were appreciating in value. You worked it into an overall financial picture and took advantage of a lot of the equity growth that comes from buying properties below market value and in areas that are growing without being reliant on the cashflow because you’re out there being an entrepreneur in the business sense. That’s what I love about the story that you’re telling here. You also incorporated hard work and saving cash so that you could invest in real estate rather than saying, “Well, I’m not willing to sacrifice my lifestyle. I want the deal to just appear at my doorstep and cashflow for me. And if I can’t find that, well then I’m going to move on investing in crypto or something.”
So everyone listening, A, follow your dream. Corey’s a great example of that. B, don’t be afraid of being in a position of pain. That’s okay. It can actually help motivate you in many ways and create a richer life, which I’m sure helps when it comes to your music writing, which you did for a long time, so that saw in the C, focus on building skills and not just looking for the easy way out. You wrote music for other artists for a long time before you were writing your own songs that were famous. And D, look at the way that real estate does make money and take advantage of that. Instead of trying to force it to work for what works for you, mold your life around how you can make some of these things work and you can have similar results. A great story.

Corey:
Man, yeah. And just cherry on top, man, beautifully said, this doesn’t have to be your number one passion in life, right? It can have a great supplemental spot in your life that enables you to chase whatever that primary dream is. And it has made all the difference in the world for me. I mean, even recently just selling this Airbnb while I am heavily reinvesting in my own touring business and going to tour buses and hiring employees. And as I’m building a business completely independent of real estate, it’s allowing me to reinvest and keep things lean on that side. And I take some of the wins from real estate and I fund my personal life. So it’s just going to open doors and it’s going to fuel those other dreams that you might have in ways that a lot of things can’t. So that’s the last thing I had to add to that. But man, David, that was beautiful.

Rob:
Awesome, man. Well, hey, again, thanks for sharing your story. And I hope you know if you ever need a couch to crash on, David’s couch is always open, my friend.

Corey:
Beautiful.

Rob:
If people want to learn more about you, where can they connect with you? Where can they look you up, find all your stuff? Give us the rundown.

Corey:
Yeah, so my socials on every platform are @CoryKent, C-O-R-E-Y. Every Starbucks barista ever misspells my name, so make sure you get the E. And then, yeah, so it’s @CoreyKent. And then coreykentofficial.com. You find tour dates, you find merchandise, all the music’s there too. And then obviously, we’re on all the streaming platforms as well. Yeah, outside of that, I’m just super grateful that you guys took the time to hear my story because I just hope somebody out there that’s on the fence, this is kind of that differing factor, that defining factor that gets them to make their first move.

David:
One other thing that you and I have in common in addition to eating boiled chicken and rice and sleeping in other people’s rooms is we have an unnecessary E in our names that throws everyone off. I don’t know why there’s an E at the end of Greene. It doesn’t mean it’s greeny. Stop asking me that. But it’s caused me-

Rob:
[inaudible].

David:
Yes, it’s caused me a lot of grief as well. The freaking English throwing unnecessary vowels to words.

Corey:
Well, I have a million questions for you, guys. I know that the podcast was like you guys hosting, but I have a million questions off camera that I’m going to be sending you because I feel like I can learn so much from what you guys have done. And obviously the show’s awesome, so thanks for having me.

David:
Awesome, man. We’ll see if we can get your feature down to Seeing Greene episode. We’ll do that too. We’ll have you ask some questions on there and everyone can see. So please go check out Corey’s Blacktop album. Buy that. Support him there. And let us know in the comments what you think about Corey’s story, which happens to rhyme. Maybe I have a songwriting career in my future as well.

Rob:
There’s an Ian story as well just in case anybody’s wondering.

David:
Rob, where can people find out more about you?

Rob:
Oh, you can find me over on Instagram @robuilt or on Threads if you’re trendy. If you’re up and up on the old interwebs, you can find me on YouTube primarily over @robuilt. David, if people want to download your demo, where can they do that?

David:
Yeah, you can look me up everywhere @davidgreene24 if you need a ghost writer. The real estate market is a little tough. Rates are high. It’s hard to find deals, so I’m making some extra income there. And go check out my YouTube @davidgreene24. I’m live every single Friday night. So, we appreciate you guys being here. Thank you for following the podcast. Make sure you like this and share it. Go check out Corey’s album, Blacktop. Corey, any last words before we let you get out of here?

Corey:
No man, just grateful. Great to talk with you guys. Thanks for rescheduling. That’s all I got.

David:
Oh, awesome. All right, this is David Greene for Rob y’all Abasolo signing out.

 

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