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Far too many baby boomers are retiring with nothing saved or close to it. But others have enough for the rest of their lives with plenty left over to hand down to their posterity — and a lot of them punched their tickets to generational wealth through real estate.
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The following stories come from two baby boomers who built legacy wealth through property ownership — one who is obsessed over real estate as a full-time passion, the other who took it on as a part-time project.
A Boomer Builds a Fortune, Loses It, Then Builds It Again
Rod Khleif is an entrepreneur, real estate investor, author and host of the highly ranked, highly rated “Lifetime Cash Flow Through Real Estate Investing” podcast.
Khleif traces his real estate journey to his youth growing up in a poor immigrant family. He came to America when he was 6 with his brother and mother, who raised the boys alone in Denver and worked as a live-in maid. In 1977 when he was 17, his “heroic single mother” had managed to save enough money to buy their neighbor’s property. Three years later, she sold the house for a $20,000 profit.
The moment sparked his love of real estate, which he began pursuing at 18. Twenty years later, he lorded over a $50 million real estate empire that included 800 houses, several apartment complexes and a mansion on the beach.
But in 2008, he lost nearly all of it — including the mansion — when the housing market crashed. Realizing that his vulnerable single-family homes had dragged down his portfolio, he focused on multifamily homes upon rebuilding and now owns more than 2,000 properties.
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Legacy Wealth Through Cash Flow and Appreciation
Every side hustler knows there’s safety in multiple income sources — and Khleif applies that same logic to real estate investing. He assesses each property’s potential for both long-term appreciation and ongoing income generation.
“My journey to building generational wealth has been driven by a multifaceted approach,” he said. “From strategic property acquisitions and thorough due diligence to leveraging market trends, I’ve focused on acquiring cash-flowing assets that appreciate over time. Throughout my real estate career, I’ve accumulated substantial wealth through both property appreciation and consistent cash flow.”
There’s No Shortcut Around Hard Work, Focus and Persistence
Although his mother put in a different kind of endless effort to make her $20,000 deal a reality, Khleif has lived the same lesson — there can be no success in real estate without hard work.
“My earnings have been a result of disciplined investment decisions, tenant relationships and the ability to adapt to changing market dynamics,” he said. “Making generational wealth work involves unwavering dedication to meticulous property management, ongoing education, and a commitment to optimizing the value of each asset. Proper execution and attention to detail are essential for long-term success.”
Building a Legacy Beyond Just Wealth
Money, of course, is part of the package — but material wealth is not the only inheritance Khleif intends to leave to his heirs.
“As a believer in creating a lasting impact, I’ve integrated legacy planning into my real estate strategy,” he said. “This includes building a portfolio that provides for my family’s future and positively impacts the communities I invest in.”
His Tiny Hands foundation has fed more than 120,000 children for the holidays, given tens of thousands of backpacks filled with school supplies and provided tens of thousands of stuffed animals to police officers to give traumatized children they encounter on the job.
Then, of course, there’s his work as a real estate trainer and mentor.
“Sharing knowledge through my podcast, book, and mentoring has been integral to my journey,” Khleif said. “Empowering others with the tools and insights to navigate real estate successfully contributes to the legacy I aim to leave behind.”
A Pair of Partners Earn Millions Through Real Estate as a Side Hustle
Rod Khleif dedicated his life to real estate from a young age — but that’s not the only path to generational wealth through property ownership.
Andy Heller is a real estate author, investor and educator who has been investing in real estate since 1990 — but never on a full-time basis.
An executive with an international transportation and logistics firm, he’s been buying, renting and selling real estate as a part-time endeavor for nearly 35 years.
‘Regular People, True Riches’
Heller and his partner, Scott Frank, founded Regular Riches, a site dedicated to helping others follow their strategy to growing legacy wealth through real estate. Their motto is “regular people, true riches.”
“Our strategy is called buy low, rent smart, sell high,” Heller said.
The pair detailed the strategy in a book by the same name published in 2002, which Fortune Magazine profiled.
Buy low: Purchase post-foreclosure properties at 10%-20% discounts.
Rent smart: Use unique terms to attract exceptional tenants who are incentivized to take good care of the home, pay their rent on time and handle their own repairs and maintenance.
Sell high: Eliminate agent commissions and discounting by selling to the lessee.
Find a Winning Strategy, Stick With It and Never Force a Deal
Over three decades, the duo has refined their tactics to a science.
“Our strategy involves focusing on purchasing bank-owned foreclosures — REOs,” Heller said. “Specifically, we purchase in the three-to-six-month window after the foreclosure sale and before a property is listed on MLS.”
They approach the banks directly or the agents likely to market specific bank-owned properties. Once they close a deal, they list the property for sale or lease-option and typically flip or lease/purchase the homes.
“We made it work by starting off slowly and leveraging our early sales and success,” he said. “We purchased whenever the deals were there, never forcing a deal. This resulted in uneven activity, with some years few or no purchases when the deals were not there, and other years we were very active. Waiting for our deals helped ensure we were starting off with some equity by being selective when purchasing.”
And they did it without quitting their day jobs.
“We have always been part-time investors, yet have earned millions over the years,” Heller said. “The profits earned among other benefits gave me the capital needed to launch a capital-intensive business, which I ran before selling a few years ago. None of this would have been possible without our successful real estate investing strategy.”
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Generational Wealth Building Through Real Estate: Baby Boomers Share Their Strategies