Sensi (Sean) Gilliland started out as one of the highest ranked martial artists in the United States to becoming one of the most recognized real estate experts in the United States.
BB: Why don’t you share with us about your background and share how you got started
SG: I have been in marital art basically my whole life. At a very young age of 13, I was already teaching adult classes. At the age of 16, I was teaching the L. A. sheriff’s hand to hand combat and weapon disarmament. I have competed in 29 countries and made the United States Olympic team for ’92. However, they got cut out of the event. Nonetheless, I focused a lot of energy towards my training and I just have an absolute passion for it. I am still involved with martial arts with 5 schools in Southern California in operation.
I was really after income streams. This was back in 1993, 1994. I was searching around for coin op car washes and what ended up happening is that; I didn’t know anything about real estate. I understood the business model of coin op car washes, 24/7 business, cash business, very low maintenance, and it was appealing to me.
When it came to learning about the real estate with a structure that actually sits, do I rent do I lease, do I build a suit, and do I buy. How does this work? I found myself in a realm of unfamiliarity that I needed to learn everything I could about real estate. Here’s what I ended up learning, Real estate controls all businesses! So with that I said wait a minute here if real estate controls all businesses and I love control. Let me know more about Real Estate so back in 1994 I started taking a lot of classes and back then they were called boot camp bunk but I did plunk down about $32,000 and bought into some workshops learning everything I could about real estate.
In 1995 was a huge year for me and what I mean about that I got engaged, I got married, and I moved in with my wife, we had a baby, we bought our first home. We did cash out re-fi on our first home rehabbed the property and did another re-fi on our house and towards the end of the year bought my very first fix and flip over in Ft. Meyers, Florida while living in Southern California. It kind of freaked out my new wife out it’s just kind of how I role. With that people always ask me why did you go to Florida? Basically for affordability couldn’t afford to buy something here in California. California is a completely different state than all the other states compared to housing prices. So, I went to Florida put a team together understood the concept of buy low, fix it up, force value, sell high and found my very first property which was a probate $42,000 I had the 10% put down on that property had a little bit in reserve for mortgage payments then I ran into a huge issue – I didn’t have the money for the rehab – so I read a book a long time ago saying if you found a good deal money would come to it and it sure did…it came right out of my credit cards. So I extracted the money out of the credit cards is just like a hard money lender to me so I rotated the balance every month and never had to pay money on that rehab expense and in 9 months to my surprise flipped my property. I made a little over $9000 in profits – now there was a lot of worry and frustration and some fear playing in those 9 months because remember in 1995 we didn’t have the internet like we have today and I didn’t have the money to check on the property but every once in a while I get a Polaroid showing me some progress. But, that $9000 in a 9 month period showed me all I had to do was eliminate the fear and take some action buy the property, rely on a team, delegate jobs and I have passively earned over $1000 a month. The one flip I treated like I treat Pringles Potato Chips – one pop and you can’t stop! So, I had to go back over there a pick up some more properties. So, today here I am – 21 years later still flipping properties and buying and holding properties.”
BB: How and why did you start the invest club Black Belt Investors?
SG: In 1995 I am in Florida flipping houses because it was affordable to me over there and taking that little snowball of money I started to build that up and I started taking the little snowball of money building that up and started rolling that snowball from Florida, Alabama, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and eventually hit the golden shores of California being able to flip properties here. It seems to me that people wait to see if you’re going to fail or not. And, I wasn’t failing and people were watching and wondering what the heck is he doing why is he able to do what he is doing, live the life style he is living and to be able to earn this extra income especially using other people’s money? Well, I had a handful of people willing to get involved with me during the 90’s by either loaning money to me or learning from me, or buy a rental from me or get involved with by a joint venture ship and with that following in the year 2000 I actually opened up my company Black Belt Investors where we focus on education, consulting and investments. In 2002 with that following I thought a good way to reach out to people and help people start living the dreams that they desire I established my very first real estate club in the city of Downey, California and today I operate 3 chapters in Southern California.