Being true to your core is something that will surely help you reach the summit of your career. Rafael Cortez got the chance to have an insightful chat with Tempe Walker who managed to work his way up the ladder of success. His humble beginnings as a traditional real estate agent significantly helped him develop and master his craft. He is known as the co-founder of Soul Pod and works closely with people who are committed to becoming better versions of themselves.
He started from being paid little. Not having enough knowledge about the industry did not stop him from achieving what he sets his vision on. He was also able to network himself with the right person who matched his ethics, values and helped him work his way to the top. The big hitters usually do 4 to 5 deals a month, but Tempe closes 40 deals a month. How does he do that? In this episode, he shares the value of having multiple vertical businesses and how it helped his business to continually expand.
From Real Estate Agent To Closing 40 Real Estate Deals A Month With Tempe Walker
We are sitting down on the show again. I’m super excited because I have a friend of mine. I’m looking to calling you a friend. You’re a rock star. You’re a heavy hitter in the valley. You’re one of those low-key guys. You had humble beginnings and you are crushing it. You’re doing, on average, around 40 deals a month, everything from fixing and flipping and wholesaling. You began as a real estate agent and evolved out from that. You’re the Cofounder of a Soul Pod, which is a cool movement and the got the best vibe in real estate. I’m happy to have you. Thank you so much.
Thank you. It’s good to be here.
Your trajectory is impressive. You started years ago as a real estate agent, eventually coming into holding multiple businesses and having this movement called the Soul Pod. Tell me about Soul Pod first and then a little bit about how you got started, then when you tapped into actual wholesaling.
Soul Pod is the umbrella that is overall the company. I own that with Miguel and Rodolfo. They’re my partners in that, Jim and Jeff, Justin, my dad, Chris. There are about 8 to 10 of us, who we put being the best version of ourselves first. I’m weird. I get in cold water. I get in the sauna. I do all this breathing in my backyard. I am breathing and listening to Ram Dass, this mantra. He was like, “Soul pod.” He kept saying that like, “That’s your soul. When you’re done here, you go to the next place. You can go with a group of individuals that you’re connected with for eternity.” I was like, “That’s my people.”
Soul pod essentially is like people who are serious about becoming the best version of themselves and in doing so, they can become the best investor, friend, parent, business person, whatever you want to be, you’ve first got to fill your own cup. That’s what Soul Pod. Soul Pod House is a group of companies that I think it’s important to vertically integrate. I started as a realtor. I had a traditional team, which is Templeton Group, which still sells quite a bit of real estate.
I have about fifteen realtors and an amazing lady named Shauna Slevin runs that. We sell for $40 million a year. Not the biggest team anymore, but definitely still a nice vertical. After that, I started wholesaling. Soul Pod wholesale and then why not go ahead and be my best client because I have a flipping operation?
I sell my own deals to my other company, my flipping company, and then all of those deals need title work. I have a joint venture and I own a title company. All of those, I cherry-pick the deals that worked for the burst strategy and I have a large rental portfolio. I’ve stacked that all this lead that could potentially pay me 4 or 5 different ways. Soul Pod is the umbrella of those vertically integrated companies.
That’s one of the things that I know comes up with, for example, wholesaling. It’s such a low barrier to entry type of business. It doesn’t mean that it’s easy. You’ve definitely got to cut the learning curve somehow and do things right, but it gives you this world of opportunity to come in and branch out from there and do other stuff. For example, you started in the traditional way with a real estate license and then eventually moved into wholesaling. Now you have your hands in a couple of different businesses and you’re crushing it, but that was the gateway to something bigger. You don’t usually begin with that vision. How long ago did you start?
Ladder Of Success: Most people get caught up in the cost. However, what matters more is value creation.
I started as a realtor years ago. I literally knew nothing then. I didn’t realize I was bird-dogging for people and getting paid like a sliver. I was good at finding deals. I did that for probably my first five years and didn’t see the other side of the veil until years ago, I realized what wholesaling was. That’s when it piqued my interest. I was like, “You can make this sort of money for this sort of activity,” which I’ve already been doing and I’m good at.
I’ve been a few years heavy as like more of an investor, but I had already built this big real estate team. Rather than just letting that go away, I stabilized it. I leveraged it through a talented who and not how. I have a talented who runs that and then my time and energy went into building these next verticals, which was wholesale and flip.
You come in and start bird-dogging. It’s not the sexiest thing. I don’t even like that word. That word or the newbie word, we’re all in the process of learning and becoming something better or a better version of ourselves, but it’s the trench work. You were doing the trench work for a while and then you didn’t realize that you could come in and then do all this stuff. How did that come about?
When I say bird-dogging, I was literally like finding deals on MLS. I had a team lead at that time and they were paying me like a point. I didn’t understand what the mechanics were happening on the back end of the deal. A lot of people were making a lot of money, but I don’t regret it. I built a skillset that I got to develop and become good at my craft, even though I didn’t realize what it was preparing me for. My next evolution after just bird-dogging was like, “I understand what’s happening on the backend. Now I want to play a part in it.”
Every deal has three components. You have the deal, you might have construction and then you need the money. I didn’t have any construction knowledge and I didn’t have any money. I had to get good at finding deals, which I knew how to do. What I did was I went and found a bigger boat that I could tether to. In this case, it was our good friend, Jamil Damji who owns KeyGlee. He was a big dog at that point, but he wasn’t where he’s at now. We connected like heart-wise, ethics, morally, financially.
He was the right guy for me, where I was like, “I don’t know how to get these to the finish line. I’m going to start bringing you these deals. Can you make sure that you’re going to put in earnest money, get them sold and help me along the way?” What I did was I had this brown leather chair at my house. I called it my deal chair. I would just sit and find deals. I found a 32-unit apartment complex in a small town in Northern Arizona. I got the price because I’m good at relationships.
You’re looking for deals in general? Are you trying to wholesale anything that we can get your hands on at this point?
I had done one little duplex that I was going to take the listing and my seller wanted $80,000. I’m like, “I can take a listing, put it in for $80,000 and go make a couple of grand.” What I realized is I could be a fiduciary and say, “An investor is going to come in and probably pay me more than this.” He goes, “I don’t care. I want $80,000 and I want to be done.” Rather than acting as the agent in that capacity, I was like, “I’ll give you the $80,000.” I ended up wholesaling that for $100,000. Jamil helped me. It’s $20,000 spread. I made $10,000 and Jamil made $10,000.
I always tell people that even if they don’t have a solid buyers list, a lot of people freak out and they don’t want to get started because, “I don’t know what to do once they get the contract.” Don’t worry about it. There are going to be plenty of people out there that you can team up, level up with and do a JV partnership. Not necessarily for the whole business, but for that one deal, and then you come in, you end up with results like the one you’re getting.
True wealth is having time to do what you want with who you want.
For about a year and that same model and then I did the 32-unit. We moved that up to $75,000 and we split $75,000. I’m like, “This works.” What’s crazy is I still don’t have a big buyer’s list. What I realized is that I supply good deals to good people that I like working with. I compare it to like a gas station on the freeway, like in the middle of nowhere. This is kind of how I look at my business. I could be QT and give you great value, service, pricing somewhere that you love to stop and you know you’re going to go get a good deal or what most wholesalers do, and I think this is the wrong way to look at it, is they pump their pricing, AOVs and sell bad deals.
You’re only going to get two people that are going to stop at that gas station. People that are dumb or desperate. You’re going to leave them in a bad position. Dumb is a wrong word. Ignorant to what they don’t know yet. You might rip a bunch of money on one deal, but you haven’t created a lifelong client where I’ve created a gas station that people want to stop at every time because they know, “Tempe has good deals. He’s going to set me up with the appropriate structure,” or he’s going to at least tell me how it is.
He’s going to say, “If you buy this, you need to be cognizant of these things.” Selling deals for me is no issue because people know that I’m an align you up with the truth, value and I’m going to help you understand what’s potential where I feel like a lot of people inflate their numbers. They go make a bunch of money on this person one time. They earn it.
I don’t even have a buyers list. I can send 2 or 3 texts, and my deal is sold. I go get the money I want. That’s what I learned in that first year. I was tied to a bigger boat. I learned how relationship businesses worked, the value. I didn’t get caught up in the money. I didn’t get caught up in the fact that half the money that I was creating was going to someone else. I looked at it like I got to make hundreds of thousands of dollars while I learned. How much value is that? Most people get caught up in cost and not value. There was no cost in that for me. There was only value creation and I got to make good money in this learning process.
You’re building up. You’re literally focusing on the relationship as opposed to a set number of buyers. Having a solid buyers list is a crucial thing for this business wholesaler. However, it doesn’t mean that a solid buyer list needs to be 30,000 people in there. You can have 10 or 15 buyers who are very solid. Why? It’s because you have built a relationship with them.
You don’t necessarily have to have it. It goes back to who, not how. If I’m just getting started, you in my realm, I could go to you and say, “If I have a real deal, you’re going to be able to help me figure out how to go get that done and make some money.” People overthink it. They think they have to have all of these companies, systems and lists. It’s like, “No. I need a relationship with one person who is aligned in values. They’re not going to take advantage of me. They’re not going to screw me over financially. They’re going to give me a fair exchange of value. Let them make some money for helping me. Now I don’t even have to go solve all that.”
There are a couple of things that come into play there. As far as the benefits, for example. Sometimes we simply don’t have the ability to put a deal together. The earnest money may not be in the bank account so we can put up earnest money if the seller wants it. The buyer’s list may not be there. Maybe the logistics on how to push it, you have no idea how to get that done. The reason I bring it up is because I see the mistake happen very often, where people cling on to, “I want to take all the proceeds of this deal.” They cling on to that one thing, eventually losing the deal. Why? It’s because they had one part of it, but they were not ready for the rest of it. You’ve literally built infrastructure, a whole business out of collaboration and referrals.
Ladder Of Success: If something gives you your time back and gives you the ability to stay in your lane of what your superpower is, spend money on it.
Of my 40 deals a month, 20 to 25 of them are referrals. I have a very low fixed cost on the front end. I have a high cost of sale because I share the earnings, but people always say, “You’re crazy to pay out what you pay.” I say, “I would not have had this deal without them. Now I just created a relationship with someone that is so motivated to bring me deals.” I had $115,000 spread and that agent got a check for $57,000.
They would have been happy if I had paid him $10,000, but I paid them $57,000. That agent calls me like, “I’m going to go find new tenants this month.” I’m like, “Go do it. I appreciate you.” It’s just the difference between scarcity and abundance. Knowing that when you put value in the world, you have an abundant mindset and when you truly create win-win situations, magic happens. When you are always operating in scarcity or in, “What’s in it for me?” it’s a hamster wheel that you can’t get off of.
All the deals that you’re working on, are they here in the valley? We’re in the same country. We’re in America, which is a Phoenix market, but they’re all here in the valley. You’re talking 40 deals here in the valley.
We just expanded. We’re in a high emphasis in St. Louis, Kansas City and Tampa, but we’re only one month into that. Our lead conversion and stuff have been so much better out there, but we haven’t seen those get to the finish line. When I say 40 deals, that’s been in Maricopa County. Most of the time, people don’t even believe us.
It’s competitive as heck.
The big hitters are doing 4 or 5 deals a month. They think we’re being facetious. It’s like, “I don’t care what anyone thinks or doesn’t think, but consistently 30, 35 or 40 deals.” It’s because we have multiple verticals. I guarantee my pricing. If you bring me something, I’m going to close on it then that feeds the flipping business where if I can’t just not wholesale it out, a lot of people will just back out and say, “I’m sorry. It’s not a deal,” where I take it down then that enters my flipping business, which we have 32 construction projects going. Having that second vertical has definitely helped me be able to scale a bit more.
Scaling and having an actual process works. I know we were talking right before we jumped on and you were saying who, not how. You have no idea how things run because you have who.
The operating system in our business, I have never seen it.
You have people who come in and then handle it, which is cool and thank you for that. It’s important. The key thing is that you had to go through all that stuff, not necessarily doing it right now anymore, but at some point, you had to go through all that stuff so you could come in and then see the big picture, grow your vision along the way, and then pull out people into it. Not necessarily as tools or assets, but as partnerships and actually relationships that are being built. You ended up with this Soul Pod with this ecosystem that’s fun to work with. You’re crushing it on in terms of deals.
It all began with taking the leap from the real estate sales license to getting your first couple of deals in wholesaling and then turning it into this massive fix and flip business with now equity and vested interest in title companies and different markets. It’s amazing. Tell me about the first wholesale deal that made it for you that you said, “This is it. This is real. This is what I want to do for the rest of eternity.”
Get clear on what you want your life to look like. The success of others is not the same as yours.
I did that little duplex, which was great. I made $10,000 instead of $2,000. I didn’t have to act as an agent, field all those calls and put my sign in the ground. That’s when I felt like I was in the matrix and I took whatever the pill was that makes sense to me. Is it red or blue? I took that pill and I was like, “There’s a whole other world here.” That was probably the first one. When I did the 32-unit, I got creative. I didn’t go find the 3 or 2 homes in the valley that every investor is looking for. I went to a rural market. I found a distressed 32-unit apartment complex. It was for sale by the owner. I worked a relationship.
It’s a little bit pragmatic on this. You found it on LoopNet?
It’s one of the best places to go find commercial real estate. I love commercial and multifamily. I bought an office building. We bought an old bar that we’re turning into our headquarters. I like finding these creative niches. Even before I knew what I was doing, I understood that there was value there. I’m like, “32 units.” They were asking $250,000 and I ended up getting it for $110,000 or $150,000.
I wholesale that for $225,000. I built rapport. What I found out was that I don’t have the highest IQ, but I have a very large emotional intelligence like people, desire, these emotions I can read and serve. If you give me an Algebra problem, I don’t know how to solve it, but I know how to solve a human’s heart, mind and problem that they might have.
The connection factor.
That’s my wheelhouse. I don’t go pretend to be some brainiac. What I am is a problem-solver of human emotions. Essentially, that’s what all problems are in this real estate game is human emotions and some desire. I went and solved that. I helped this person, which they were not going to get this thing was distressed. I got them what they needed and then I went and made fantastic money. That was the first deal for me. I found my who, which was Jamil, because I didn’t know how to solve the problem. I knew how to find the problem and how to get the problem on a plate, but I needed Jamil to help me eat it.
Take it through the finish line. You identify the problem with the seller. Whether that’s at an emotional level, financial level, whatever level, there’s still a problem. There’s an issue there that you have to identify first. You came in and whatever you weren’t ready for, just connect.
There’s always a view. This is where it’s been so powerful for me is like. If you and I needed to program a website or install a window, we could probably dive in and try to figure it out, but it’s not in our strength. It’s going to take me ten times as long. It’s going to cost me ten times as much money, and it’s not going to be very good or not a cost, but I can make an investment into the window installer. He’ll have it done in three hours. I pay him $450 and now I have a beautiful window.
Ladder Of Success: It’s pointless to look for the gains against financial freedom if you don’t have time enough to spend it.
That’s what people’s businesses are and they don’t realize they have a scarcity cost mindset instead of an abundant investment mindset. If there’s one thing that you can change, it is to look at everything as an investment and an exchange. If it gives you your time back, our most precious commodity, if it gives you the ability to stay in your lane of what your superpower is, you should spend that money.
It’s right on the head. When you’re rich, you have a lot of money. When you’re wealthy, you have time and money. It’s pointless to look for the gains against financial freedom if you don’t have time enough to spend it. How do you do that? You come in and then you plug into people who are more talented than we are at certain stuff. That’s their lane, track and then now you have this process in place that you can follow and then get things done.
Most people think wealth is financial when it’s really time. It’s relational. Do you get to choose who you spend your time with? Are you obligated to anyone that you don’t enjoy? It’s then financial and also purpose-driven. True wealth, in my opinion, is you have the time to do what you want with who you want.
You have the means to go do whatever you want and you have the ability to put purpose within those actions and have intentionality rather than, “I’m going to the beach because that’s what I’m supposed to do. I made money. Now I’m supposed to vacation,” or are you going to Costa Rica because you made an impact there and you also serve maybe some of the underprivileged community. Not that you have to do that, but there’s got to be the intention behind what’s the point of the time, financial freedom or relational freedom if you don’t have some purpose or impact?
We all evolve. We began in a survival state of mind. We’re chasing the dollar, revenue of the closing and commission, then we move on to chasing the assignment fee. There’s this and that, then you get to a point where that’s happening and you start evolving to something else. You start looking outside of that one single-track mind into contribution, purpose and bigger vision, “I’ve made all kinds of money, but how much money do I need? Can I come in and help people? Can I improve my team? Can I create this whole environment where I used to get burned out on transactions? Now I just want to have fun.” Even at work, all of that stuff is doable, especially when you operate the way that you do. Before we close off, give me the top three things that you would tell somebody who’s just getting started as a real estate wholesaler.
Number one, get clear on what you want your life to look like. My success is not your success. What is that vision? If you made $5,000 a month passive and you were able to travel the world, then you don’t need to go build some twenty-person real estate team. You need to make enough cash to stabilize 5 or 6 rentals, and then you’ve achieved your goal. Have clarity. You can run 1 million miles per hour in the wrong direction. I learned that a long time ago. Get clear on what do you want your life to look like. I do a practice every Sunday where I’m like, “Two years from now, what does a perfect day looks like for me?” What does that day look like?
It always brings me back to the center of what am I reaching for? Even if I got it, what I like is what I got. If I imagine a Ferrari in my garage, what would that feel like? Would that feel good or fulfilling? Maybe it does or it doesn’t, but I’ve gone through the visualization and the exercise. Many times I have extreme clarity on what I want. One, get clear. Two, I would find a bigger boat and tether to them the way I did. If you want time with me, it’s hard to get. If you want time with you, it’s hard to get. Do you want time with Jamil? If you want time with these bigger players, it’s hard to get us. You know how to get our attention. It’s to bring us a problem that we can solve and go earn.
Clarity and bringing value consistently are key in becoming successful.
Now you have my attention, “You have a deal? Perfect. Let’s plug it in my underwriting system.” Lead with value. I would figure out who you align with, what it is that they need in their world and then go start bringing it to them. Not saying, “Can I pick your brain? Can we grab a coffee? Can I learn from you?” It’s saying, “I know that you buy these houses. I have six of them that have potential. Can you help me these to the finish line?” Now you have my attention. Get clarity, find a bigger boat, figure out their needs, start bringing them the food that they want to eat.
The third is to be consistent in your pursuit. I’m covered in terrible $40 tattoos. I almost got the word consistent tattooed on me. It’s in me that this hot white pursuit of motivation that we all get goes away. You have to stay committed to your daily habits. Show me your habits and I’ll show you your life. If I’m telling you, “You need to bring Raphael two deals a week. If you do that for one year, I promise you you’re going to go have all the financial success, which is true.” If someone brought you 2 deals or 2 problems a week for you to help solve, how much money would they make?
Your job is for the next 52 weeks to bring you two problems a week, real problems. Understand how to lightly underwrite and if there’s real value potentially there. All they got to do is bring two of those a week to you. Consistency is the key to that and that’s how you become successful. Clarity, tied to a bigger boat, bringing value and then do it consistently. Those are the key.
I love those three. They’re concise, pragmatic and straight to the point. They go straight to the heart of anybody who’s trying to get rolling in a place like this. A lot of the times when we say consistency, we say tenacity and grit and they sound cliches, but it’s not a secret recipe. If you look for a problem, you find somebody who’s got an issue and somebody who can help you out at the same time. You’re going to learn and earn.
We always say that. You’re learning and earning at the same time. What better way is there to do something like that? Eventually, you get to a point where you can be independent, branch out and do whatever you need to do. It’s a great way to get rolling in a space that’s highly competitive. There’s a ton of rejection left and right. How many thousands of noes have you gotten into in the past, over the years?
I have another piece of value I’d like to give people. It is to know your worth and value from the start, where I always compare it to dating in the bar. A lot of times when you’re new, you’re going up to every girl or guy in there and saying like, “Do you want to go home?” Essentially that’s what you’re doing.
It’s a volume game.
You’re being the bee and not being the honey. Carry yourself in a way where you start to develop your habits, knowledge and value in a way that you’re the honey that tracks. Trust me. You got to go prospect. You got to go do that, but you’re not going to have a ton of success with not even saying hello and being like, “Do you want to head back to my place?”
Ladder Of Success: You have the means to do whatever you want and you have the ability to put purpose within those actions and have intentionality.
That’s essentially what most people are doing, figuring out how to be the honey. That’s a key for people. In every relationship, there’s a buyer and a seller. Even when I’m wanting it, I’m the buyer. They got to sell me on why they should get me. Does that make sense? If I want to buy your house, you need to convince me that I want to buy your house, even though I want to buy your house.
It sounds scary like, “Why would I not try to convince them?” We never convince, looking for a problem that there’s a problem with, there’s something that we can do. Convincing is the last thing that you want to do in a negotiation, especially for properties, because you’re creating a problem when there may not necessarily be there, but that’s not a tangent.
We can get deeper on the other side.
It gets gnarly in there. It may sound scary for somebody. I’m trying to negotiate them into a contract. Why would they have to come in and convince me or how does that happen?
For me, it’s like, “At the beginning of this conversation, I set the proper expectation. I might be the correct fit for you. You might be the correct fit for me. We got to explore that right now.” I’m setting the stage saying like, “I might not want to buy this thing and I need you to help.” What you’ll find is sellers come and save you. They want to figure out how to help you achieve what you’re wanting. Human beings want to help you get done what you want to get done.
Thank you so much. It’s amazing to see the trajectory. Going from a traditional real estate license years ago and then blowing up your business, contribution and everything else that you’re doing, the way that you’re doing it through the initially the gateway of starting to wholesale your own deals. It’s a testament of success right there. It’s been fun having you. I appreciate your time. Appreciate you.
There you guys have it. If you want to find out more about the Wholesaling Business Blueprint and building an actual wholesaling business operation, go to the Wholesaling Inc. website at WholesalingInc.com/WBB and have a conversation if it works out for you. If it works out for us, see certain expectations right there. I look forward to having a conversation with you guys. In the meantime, stay focused. You’ve got this.
About Rafael Cortez
Rafael is an Organizational Psychologist and real estate professional holding ownership in multiple companies in various verticals. He has profitably invested in wholesale real estate over the last decade, runs an active business doing an average of 15 deals per month and is now passionate about using his investment knowledge, entrepreneurial experience and training as an organizational psychologist to help others learn about real estate investing through the Wholesaling Business Blueprint Coaching program with Wholesaling Inc.