For this ‘financial cowboy’, the fixer upper is the key to financial freedom


For JD Sustar, the road to financial freedom lines up in the fixer upper.

A father of four from Anderson, South Carolina, the 31-year-old has gone from nearly $100,000 in debt to becoming a millionaire thanks to his nearly $2 million rental property portfolio.

His full-time medical equipment sales job helped him launch a rental portfolio of 12 properties, including one short-term rental. Part of the business is co-owned with his partner, Sustar collects more than $11,000 a month in rent. His portion of the portfolio is worth around $1.7 million.

In February, he and his partner Gaston Albergotti sold the mobile home park they shared for $435,000. But instead of bolstering cash reserves after the sale, Sustar invested in the stock market and identified another Anderson single-family home to buy. The house is currently under contract.

To see more of his experience and some of his traits, watch his FIREStarters video.

The son of a pastor, Suster said he was “raised in a home with good Christian values,” but he didn’t talk much about money or investments.

“The idea of ​​owning real estate definitely came much later in my journey,” he said.

When I was younger, I mainly focused on baseball. Sustar played Division I He studied baseball on a partial scholarship at Charleston Southern University, where he met his wife, Mary Beth, who was in track and field. I have been married for 8 years and have a boy and a girl aged 2, 4 and 6.

When baseball saw no future, Sustar shifted his focus to business. He got a job at Cintas, the best uniform provider to learn to sell. The job was not a traditional sales role, but a truck delivery job that started before sunrise at 4:00 in the morning.

From there Sustar moved on to a high-paying job selling pharmaceuticals, and from there selling medical devices, earning a six-figure income. With that income, he paid off debt, including about $60,000 in student loans, as well as car and credit card debt. He also funded an engagement ring for Mary Beth.

Once their finances stabilized, Sustars began listening intently to Albergotti, a friend who had already invested in real estate, and encouraged him to buy the property. Nearby, Mary Beth was pregnant with her second child.

Sustar recalled wanting to get out of the rough-hewn $68,000 initial deal in Greenville, South Carolina. The property manager he hired said it was a lemon.

“I think this probably caught fire at some point,” he said. “And I am this new investor.”

But he stayed on course and it paid off.

“We invested $10,000 to $15,000 in repairs and quickly found tenants,” he said. “Same tenant stayed for 4 years.”

Additionally, he received an offer for the house last year and sold it for double what he paid.

Scaling a portfolio comes with challenges. Boards covered the entrance to Anderson’s home, which he purchased for his $90,000 in 2018. The house was riddled with problems: damaged decks and fences, holes in drywall, missing cabinets.

He has worked extensively with contractors and property managers before forming his current team. Recently, his trusted contractor Jimmy was installing plank floors in the home Sustar purchased for his $90,000 in 2022.

He uses the BRRR method, which stands for Buy, Rehabilitate, Rent, Refinance, Repeat, starting with a private lender in his network and then refinancing with a bank once the work is done.

Sustar has no qualms about keeping most of his assets in real estate because he is working toward financial independence without a specific target figure in mind, and enjoys tax incentives and benefits. citing the greater management power it provides.

He used part of his fortune to buy a larger house on eleven acres (11 acres) for his family. The house had a chicken coop and a tractor that the boys loved to ride. This is a fitting environment for the “financial cowboy” his Sustar, a social media brand, has turned into another stream of income.

“I wake up every day and love to drive with purpose,” he said. Knowing that you can step away from what you’re doing and do something else can be a great place to be.”

April is National Financial Literacy Month. To mark the occasion, MarketWatch is publishing a series of “Financial Fitness” articles to help readers improve their financial health and offer advice on how to save, invest and spend money wisely. Click here for details.

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