Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Interview of Doug Carnation

By Matt Mann

Doug Carnation is a resident of Fresno CA.  He was born and raised in Santa Rosa CA.  Doug is currently a member of the Santa Rosa Sports Hall of Fame, for his outstanding high school wrestling career.  After high school Doug spent some time as a bodyguard for Gomer Pile in Hawaii.  He has lived in Fresno since 1980 when he came to Fresno State to study Criminology and wrestle.   When he moved to Fresno he bought his first house with his college money.  While attending Fresno State he worked as a sheriff for Fresno County. After graduating college he quit the sheriffs department and became a Farmers insurance agent.  While, most guys were out playing golf on their free time, Doug spent his putting sweat equity into his real estate investments.  Doug now owns many single-family homes and apartment complexes outright without mortgages.  Besides the real estate he owns he has also bought and sold (flipped) many others.  He has even bought a piece of land, sub-divided it, built new homes on the sites and, sold them.  Doug does not limit his investments to real estate, he will invest in anything that can be profitable with his skill sets.  He buys and sells cars (antique), farm equipment, horses, and building material; he also owns 3 hair salons.  I met Doug about 14 years ago when we both played rugby for the Fresno Rugby Club. 

Question-              How did you get started in real estate?

Answer-          I was going to Fresno State and I needed a place to stay, so instead of renting I put money down on an old 3-bedroom house that needed a lot of work.  I moved a bunch of the wrestlers in and I lived in the garage.  All of the rent I collected paid for the mortgage and then some.  Before long I had enough money saved to by another house and I moved some more wrestlers in.  It was the same thing; I collected more in rent than the mortgage.   I did this over and over.  Before long I was making more money from my real estate investments than my job at the Sheriffs department.  I had a friend whose dad was a Farmers agent, I noticed that he had a lot of free time and it appeared that he made a good income.  After I graduated from Fresno State, I became a Farmers agent.

Question-            Does being a Farmers agent helped you with real estate?

Answer-          As an agent you are your own boss.  I have my own office and set my own hours.  I can make appointments around my schedule so; it gives me the flexibility to fix up properties.  A lot of the other agents I know spend a lot of time on the golf course.  I spend my spare time making deals, or fixing up properties.  Insurance is a lot like owning rental properties they are both residual income. 

Question-            Do you have a specific model you follow?

Answer-          It is just like any investment “buy low and sell high”.  For the most part I like to buy single-family properties that need a lot of work; I fix them up and rent them out.  From time to time I will sell the house but I like to keep them and collect rent.  I like to buy the houses that need more work than some new paint.  Most people are afraid to buy properties that need a new air conditioner or a new roof.  The more work that needs to be done, the cheaper I can get it for.  Since, I have been doing this for so long, I can do most everything myself. I have a lot of good contacts in the construction field if I ever get in over my head.  I am also able to keep my costs down by buying construction materials at a discounted rate.  I buy stuff from Habitat for Humanity, off Craig’s-list, by word of mouth, or bulk.  I have multiple properties so I always need materials.  If I see something for a really good price, I buy it, even if I do not need it right away.   I have bought truckloads of construction material for pennies on the dollar.  I have a warehouse that I can store all of my stuff.  A few years ago I bought a plumbing companies whole inventory when they were going out of business.  All of my rental properties have the same tile, roofs, paint, counters, sinks, lights, toilets, carpet, and so on.  I keep it really simple nothing fancy.  That way if someone moves out I go in and I have all the things I need to get it cleaned up and rented again; I do not have to try to match the paint or figure out where to find a certain tile to replace a broken one.

Question-           Do you have a specific price range you like to be in?

Answer-          I like medium to low price rental properties. If, the same house as mine rents for $900.00 per month, I like my house to rent for around $850.00 per month.  That’s because the renters will be less likely to move out because they find a cheaper place.  Some landlords try to get the highest price for their rentals but they have a large turnover.  If the rent is around $1400.00 per month or higher the people can usually afford to buy a house. So in that case they may have had some credit problems or they might be buying a house soon.  I want long-term renters.  I have one lady that has been in one of my houses for 28 years.  The nicer the property the more expensive it is to replace or repair something.

I would like to thanks Doug Carnation for taking the time to allow me to interview him.

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