Carmen and Jordan Campagnaro meet with Kristina Smallhorn, a Youtube content creator and realtor in the USA, to discuss investing in the United States. Kristina shares valuable insight on current market trends as well as real estate hot spots among different states. With a specialty in affordable housing alternatives, Kristina also discusses some profitable income producing investment strategies in the tiny home and mobile home space.
If you’re interested in investing in the US real estate market, be sure to check out this episode!
Read the Full Episode Below
USA Real Estate Hot Spots with Kristina Smallhorn S5 E2
(Note: This transcript has been modified for clarity purposes)
Carmen: Hi, I’m Carmen, This is Jordan. Welcome to 30 Minutes to Wealth,
Jordan: The show that teaches you how to build wealth through real estate. Today on the show we are excited to talk to a real estate agent and content creator that’s going to talk to us all about the US market.
Carmen: Kristina has a boatload of information about investing in the United States, where to invest, and the best types of properties to get into. So this is going to be an awesome episode. Don’t go away. We’ll be right back.
Jordan: Hi, I’m Jordan, and this is Carmen. Welcome back to 30 minutes to wealth. Well today we’re here with our guests Kristina Smallhorn. Kristina, thank you so much for joining us today.
Kristina: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.
Jordan: Yeah. We’re so excited to talk to you. You’re a content creator on YouTube and your videos are amazing. And we’d love to hear a little bit more about how this all came to be a real estate agent. And we’re going to talk about US investing and market and some really cool topics today. But to start, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got to where you are today.
Kristina: I’ve been a real estate agent in Louisiana now since 2007. I’ve been worse at buying and selling homes all throughout the state here and then in about 2017, I was kind of coming up with a different strategy in order to market myself. So I started making videos on Facebook and YouTube and then I really kind of found a passion for it. And then right before the pandemic, I decided that I was going to really kind of focus on content creation to help as many people as possible to find affordable housing options. Because while I was doing all this, I was finding that more and more people were having trouble finding the right kind of information when it came to finding something affordable.
Jordan: Um, hmm.
Kristina: And if they did, they were having a lot of things happen to them in that process that could have been avoided and that could have saved them a lot of money. And there are a lot of predatory lending practices when it comes to more affordable housing options. So I make content that kind of exposes that a little bit.
Carmen: I see that there. Is it controversial?
Kristina: Umm, I don’t think so. I don’t believe so. I just think it’s because the information isn’t out there. So I feel like people, they don’t know what they don’t know. So they get themselves into situations because they think that’s their only option and no one’s ever told them there is other options. So I tell them there’s even though they’re saying this, you may want to check this out here, here and here because you are open to other things. You don’t have to have that kind of interest rate. You don’t have to use the lender that’s sitting on the lot of the manufactured home lots. You can use somebody else. So they didn’t know that. Nobody told them that before.
So, you know, I just I help educate them so they know they have more confidence into going into some of these deals and not and not yet lose a lot of money. You know, I don’t want anybody to lose more money than they need to.
Jordan: Yeah. And we think that’s a fantastic topic for today. I mean, our show is a Canada-based show. Of course, we we have investors, you know, that are people watching globally, but we’re predominantly based out of Canada. But we do have a lot of people we talk to investors, clients that want to invest in the US. And it’s becoming more of something that’s just becoming more popular today, at least for Canadians wanting to branch out.
So we thought it’d be great to have you on to share with us what we’re seeing in the US market right now. I know you kind of have a good kind of scope for many of the different states and which ones may be more beneficial for people to look at investing in or more affordable than others. So we’re very eager to kind of get that inside scoop from you today.
Kristina: The biggest investors, I have to tell you, are the Sunbelt.
Carmen and Jordan: Yes. Yes.
Carmen: Well, in Canada, it’s very cold. And you know what? I just I have a house in Florida, and we escaped there as much as we possibly can during the winter months. We’ve been looking into investing in the United States and getting all of that organized in. Jordan’s right! It is a huge thing right now. Everybody wants to buy in the southern part of the states for the most part. Also, investing is a big topic for a lot of our clients. And I love the fact that you work in the affordable arena. And you know a lot about that because I think that’s a really excellent place to focus on for real estate investing. And so share some of your insights with us. Let’s start with what does somebody do if they want to invest in the United States? So you’re a person that we can go to and you can direct us to any realtor throughout the United States, is that correct?
Kristina: Correct, yes. Yes. OK, so I have a big referral business and I know real estate agents throughout the country. I end up meeting with a lot of investors that want to put things together, like maybe a tiny home community in a tourist area, or they do want to set up a home park, where they could, you know, have those affordable housing options that they can rent out to people. So if somebody was to come in and I was to advise them, the first thing I would tell them is to meet with a financial advisor. And generally what they’ll tell them is to set up like an LLC or a corporation so that way your assets, your personal assets are protected. So that’s what most people do. I’m not a financial advisor, so always meet with somebody that is a financial advisor on this first. So they set up their corporation and then they buy properties with that corporation. So that way their personal assets are protected.
Carmen: So are you saying maybe see an accounting firm or something like that in the United States?
Kristina: Yeah, I would do that. Yeah, I would definitely do that. I would set that up with. So, yeah, because you’re going to be taxed and everything else. So just make sure you have everything on the up and up. And that way, you know, it keeps everything separate. So you know exactly where the money’s going and coming in and everybody knows it’s all clear, you know, everything.
Carmen: It is very complicated
Jordan: That’s the major deterrent for people is just kind of knowing where to start, making sure they’re doing everything right. But also a little bit of an unknown of, you know, where do I invest? What are the good areas? I think that your expertise is really going to come in today and, you know, showing people or teaching us where some of the hot spots are right now, what are some of the most affordable states that you’re seeing or areas that might be lucrative spots for investors?
Kristina: Well, I have to tell you, like about two years ago, I would have said, oh, you have to invest in Austin, Texas, and now it’s just like it’s gotten ridiculous. It’s really expensive. I mean, it depends on what you would consider expensive. I know the prices in Canada are a lot more than they are here. Well, what do you say is expensive? It’s like nothing. But there are still investment opportunities all through the south. Florida still has great investment opportunities. You just have to snatch them up very quickly and you have to have a plan in place ahead of time. So, of course, if you go through Alabama, I would look for those tourist areas where people are going to be staying or vacationing there. If you’re working -in the tiny home, affordable housing type of properties, I would try to see if there is around Alabama where the tourist areas is even maybe by one of the colleges and see if you can get some rental properties along there because there’s always going to be people coming in and out. So if you wanted to set up a few of them as Airbnbs and then some of them as like a six to nine month rentals for some of the students, that would be there by the college. The same thing about the coastline, the same exact thing and we mentioned this beforehand, but one of the biggest investment opportunities for people is to find an old park, a mobile home park that has kind of like seen better days or might even be closed down altogether. But the utilities are still there. The infrastructure is still there. You’re going to have to revamp it. You know, there’s that opportunity. But you’re going to have to fix it back up. But the land is there free. The lots have already been set up. And so you could set up these like tiny homes along those lots that are already there. And if it was near a college, you just walked into a goldmine and you’re offering a really good service to people that are having a really hard time finding housing. That is one of the hardest things in the United States. We’re short just over 5 million houses for people to get into. So if you are going to come in here and invest something like that, that is a great opportunity for people that are really looking for an affordable place to live. You’re offering a really good service to them.
Carmen: I agree totally. And it’s actually where a lot of my energies have been recently. I think it’s also a very good option. And I’m not saying recession proof because that’s not there’s no such thing, but I think it’s really a great investment vehicle. If something does happen and the market is going down or turns down, these are the least affected properties, because everybody needs a place to live, specifically smaller the least expensive type properties that we can get.
So I think that’s a brilliant way to go and it would make me feel comfortable. I’d sleep at night having investments like that.So I think it’d be a wonderful opportunity for sure. Absolutely.
Kristina: Well, that’s why the biggest investors, the biggest ones in the United States that are buying up a lot of the houses in the Sunbelt area are buying the most affordable houses in some of the areas that I just mentioned because they know that it is something that is an opportunity and they are hedging their bets against inflation. They have been doing this much prior to the pandemic. They were doing this. I had talked about it on my YouTube channel and like the end of 2018, I was showing how they were buying up Austin, Texas. That’s how I knew that investors were going to be going into Austin, Texas. And sure enough, it’s just, you know, it’s crazy. They were buying up foreclosures prior to the pandemic. So and then Atlanta has had a 25% increase in investors buying up properties in those same areas and those affordable housing areas that are in. You know, that it would be a really good investment to hedge their bets against inflation. That’s what they do. They’ve always done it for years.
Carmen: Yeah, brilliant. It’s brilliant. Well, we do have to go to break. So I just wanted to hold this thought because it’s so interesting for me and I’m sure our viewers are very excited about it as well. So hold on there, don’t go away. We’ll be right back.
Jordan: Hi, I’m Jordan, and this is Carmen. Welcome back to 30 Minutes to Wealth.
We’re here with our guests, Kristina Smallhorn. Kristina thanks again so much for being here today. We’re talking about US investing affordability, so much to dig into in such a short period of time.
Carmen: I know. So we’re going to be the best topic. Exactly.
Jordan: One thing we really wanted to kind of get your take on and I know you’ve done some videos on this is there’s been so much change and so much happening in the last few years. Do you think there is a housing crash coming or what’s your take on this?
Kristina: Well, what really gets people clicking on videos is to say the words housing crash so I know that as a content creator, that’s why sometimes you’ll see that in a video. My personal opinion is that in the last several years, we have seen more and more people buying homes, but they’re not using the same kind of loan packages that they had in the last housing crash. They were buying homes with interest, only kooky loans, funny money, basically, you could walk in with say, I make $300,000 a year, and then all of a sudden, you’re getting a house note for about 300,000. I mean, people were writing loans for people that should have never gotten a house in the first place. This housing market is 100% different. The people that are buying homes now are highly qualified. They’ve been thoroughly vetted. It takes a long process to make sure that they are going to be qualified buyers. They actually make sure they’re fully qualified before they even put offers in their house so they can get their houses moving quicker.
Carmen and Jordan: Yeah
Kristina: So not only on top of that, I’ve never seen as much cash as I’ve seen coming into a housing market as I’ve seen in the last two years. It is absolutely crazy. So even though they’re buying the house that a full asking price of, let’s just say, $550,000, they’ll offer another $150,000 cash on top of that offer. So they’re only financing, you know that with a 20% down and everything else, they’ll still finance that and then add their cash of $150,000 to secure that house. That has not been the case in any other housing downturn. If there was to be a housing crash, there would be a financial disaster in a lot of other sectors to allow for the housing market to dip as low as people are probably wanting it to. We’re not going to see numbers of housing going down like we did after the last housing bubble that burst. There is going to be a flattening. These, these rates, these prices can’t go to the moon, you know, like at some point they either have to slow down or flatten out before they start falling. It’s going to take some time. It’s not going to happen by the end of this year. And I just can’t see what will cause it to crash. We still don’t even have enough of the houses built in the United States. We still don’t have enough houses built. They haven’t built enough houses since the last housing bubble. Builders. I’ve been scared to because they don’t want to lose their shirt like they did in the last downturn.
So we’ve been down on new home construction and there’s been constraints with that with the supply chain so that even if they wanted to build enough houses right now, they couldn’t.
Carmen and Jordan: Yeah
Kristina: And then the houses that they’re building are not going to be the houses that I would consider affordable. Those are going to be for people that have a lot bigger, deeper pockets because, you know, they only have a little bit of space. They’re trying to build that as much as they can so they can get as much money as they can out of that little space to build a house. I can’t really blame the builders for that. So there are a lot of opportunities if you’re able to develop a piece of land. There are a lot of opportunities, especially if you’re going to do affordable housing options and if you’re going to do those affordable houses where you can rent them, another huge opportunity. Rent prices here in the United States have skyrocketed in some and Austin, Texas, for example, in one year it went up 35%. So we have a lot of opportunities, especially in the Sunbelt area. And that’s why, the big investors invest in it.
Carmen: Well, can you share some key areas with our viewers of where you think?
Kristina: I will tell you where my investors have gone this year, which blew my mind. But they know better than I do because they know where to move their money. And a lot of people have -been going into Kansas City, Missouri, and a lot of all through Arkansas.
Kristina: Like near the Ozarks, all through the Ozarks. But they’re like they’re doing what I’ve been talking about, which is they’re finding old manufactured home parks that have been either abandoned or on the near end of its life kind of thing. They’re going through the revamping them and they’re putting in these luxuries almost like glamping.
Carmen and Jordan: Yes. Yes.
Carmen: That’s the biggest thing right now.
Kristina: Yeah. That’s what they’re doing. And then because it’s in a vacation spot,
they know that it’s only going to make the money for X amount of periods of time.
So then they make it also for short-term rentals. So they can do it for like six months. You can rent this out here, you know, in the area. And then, they turn it into an Airbnb for the next six months, or they have a section of that area that it’s for people that are full-time renters and then the other areas for the glampers on the other side.
Carmen: So it’s become a big trend. I think a lot of people are looking at that and as I mentioned earlier, it’s something to feel comfortable about. And trailer parks used to be really gross,
like who wants to buy a trailer park, right? It wasn’t something you wanted. Now it’s just slowly starting to trickle. So, guys, we got to buy it quickly before everyone else did. But yeah, it’s awesome.
Kristina: It’s a great investment opportunity and it has been for many years. I used to say my biggest dream was to own three trailer parks and people are like, what are you talking about? I’m like, they always pay on time. I actually own one rental property that is a manufactured home, and those people pay on time every time. Cash. Gosh, I love those riders. So they’re the best.
Carmen: Yeah, that’s awesome. Excellent.
Jordan: Now, what other areas are you seeing? Like, are you seeing investors going into the Tennessee area? Because when we were spending a lot of time in Florida, I know some of the pockets in southwest Florida, the locals are actually choosing to move away from there
because there’s just like the prices are getting driven up so much, I think, with all the
foreign investment coming in. And so they’re kind of bridging out, kind of like what we’re seeing in Canada, like people are kind of going to outskirts, yes little bit smaller communities. And we’re hearing, oh, I’ve heard of a lot of people moving up the coast, the northeast coast and even into Tennessee and buying there because apparently land is quite cheap still depending on the area.
Kristina: But I would caution anybody that’s looking into an area that you’re not familiar with is to get with a real estate agent. And, you know, some people are like booo, you know there is a lot of real estate agents that know a lot about their specific area, especially somebody that works with a lot of investors in investment areas. They know what like foot traffic is. They know what areas are vacation spots they know which areas have the highest taxes. They know -which areas are going to not give you as much guff -about building what you want to build on those properties. So I would strongly suggest, especially if you’re not from that area, work with a real estate agent that is proficient and knows that state very well. It was worth the weight in gold.
Carmen: Yes. I absolutely agree with you, 100%. And another thing is you pay that. If you have to even pay for the commission, it’s worth it. I deal with realtors. I never negotiate commissions. They need to get paid for their services just like anyone else in the industry. And if you pay somebody, they’re going to do a good job for you. So don’t try to negotiate every little penny out of them. It’s very important.
Kristina: Now, I have to ask this because I’m not very familiar on how real estate agents get paid but here in the United States, the sellers pay the real estate agent. The buyers are represented, but the sellers are actually the ones that pay at the closing table for both sides of the transaction. Is that the same in Canada?
Carmen: It is. But now the market has been so steaming hot that the sellers are saying, OK, buyers, you are paying the fees. So they might get 1.5% from the seller and then they’re going to say, OK, -you got to pay the other 1.5 or if you have your own realtor and you want to present an offer to a project or a property, they’ll say they’re not working with any other agents. But if you want to come in with your client, you have to take care of it.
Kristina: So interesting. I mean, this is a crazy market and this will turn around again
because I remember after the last housing bubble, they were like, we will give you 3%, plus a bonus of another 3000%.We’ll give you our dog, our refrigerator.
Carmen and Jordan laugh
Kristina: And apparently if you buy our house. So, I mean, I guess just like anything, everything that goes up, comes down again. We get back to realistic things like, hey, this is crazy, this is the craziest real estate market ever. In a million years, I would have never thought that home prices would have gone up, as high as they did. It’s crazy because even at the start of the pandemic, I’m like, who wants people to come to their house and might be sick? And then I was like, wow, I was worried about that. Like, why?
Carmen: It’s really a crazy thing. Like the whole thing. I mean, the market has just exploded everywhere, though. It’s not just, you know, in the southern states
Carmen: Yes, it’s worldwide.
Kristina: Australia is seeing insane price increases like they have like I love to watch their market because what they do, I’m like, Oh, thank God we didn’t do that here in the United States. Like Woah. Because they thought what I thought. I thought they were like, oh, this pandemic’s going to affect the housing market, right? So then they decided to offer a first-time home buyers package to people. What did that do? It made it even crazier and their home prices went out way, way, high, way, way. And they don’t have the infrastructure to build out.
You have to build in the city. So it’s been really bad for that. Really bad.
Jordan: So, Kristina, our time is almost up. Are there any last words of wisdom you could share with our viewers before the end of the show?
Kristina: Well, since you do have a lot of investors from around the world, I would say that no matter where you’re looking to invest, always make sure you find a real estate agent, like I said earlier, proficient in that area. And even though they may say that I cover all of the United States, only pick one that works for that specific state, I know there are lots of people that say I work three different states, but they only know one state really well.
Carmen: I agree 100%.
Jordan: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. If you’re interested in learning more about real estate investing, you can go to 30MinutesToWealth.com to see the rest of our episodes.
Carmen: That’s it. Our time is up. Go create wealth.