Kendra Barnes and her husband are owners of several investment properties in the Maryland and D.C. areas. Barnes was so motivated by this accomplishment that she decided to start a company that guides others in the same direction. The Key Resource is a play on words with a hidden message. Barnes is giving people “key” information and resources they need to get the “keys” to their home or rental properties. The company name also serves as an acronym: Knowledge Empowers You.

Black Enterprise Contributor Nicole K. Webb caught up with Barnes to learn more about her real estate investment movement.

How has owning investment properties impacted your life?

Owning investment properties has allowed me to create passive income and build wealth, but one of my favorite things about being a real estate investor is the ability to impact the lives of others. I love that I am able to be an example for my tenants and their children. The fact that they are able to see me as a young, black landlord may plant a seed in their minds that they can be whatever they want to be.

How many investment properties do you own and how have you been able to afford so many?

We currently own a four-plex, a duplex, a single-family home, and a condo. The secret to being able to afford these properties? Sacrifice. When you are building wealth from the ground up, some sacrifices have to be made. When we embarked on this real estate journey we really had to shift our thinking and change our definition of what it means to “live well.” We’ve done some pretty uncomfortable things, like downsizing to a one-car household (and a cheap, old used car at that) so that we could have money to put toward our next investment. We gave up the luxury of having two nice cars so that we could get one step closer to achieving our long-term goals. Now that we have been doing this for a few years, we’ve been able to use the rental income from one property to put toward the next, and so on.

The couple in front of one of their rental properties. (Image: Instagram)

What advice would you give to someone who wants to purchase their first investment property but is unsure where to start?

You should always start by mapping out your goals and deciding what’s best for you. In this age of social media, it’s so easy for us to get in this game of comparison by looking at what others are doing and thinking that we need to do the exact same thing in the exact same way. The amazing thing about real estate is that there are several ways to get in on the game. You don’t have to be a landlord. You can rent a room in your house on a vacation rental site, you can flip properties, become a wholesaler, or even lend money to other real estate investors and get a return on the investment. That’s why I created The Real Estate Summit. The Summit gives people the opportunity to learn six different ways to invest in real estate and set them on the path to choosing the one that is best for them.

What types of neighborhoods and price ranges would you recommend for purchasing your first investment property?

There’s no magic equation that you can use to figure out what’s best for first-time investors. Every investor is different and every city is different. As long as you are sticking to your budget and your goals, you’re on the right path. Some investors look for properties that will bring in substantial monthly income, and others are more interested in properties that may not bring in much each month but will be worth more over time. The key is knowing what’s important to you in the long run.

What are some red flags that potential investors should be aware of when looking for a property?

Beware of any real estate professionals (real estate agent, mortgage broker, lender, etc.) that are pressuring you to do something that falls outside of your goals or budget. As far as the actual property, red flags will be different for each investor. Some investors might think something is wrong with a property if it’s been on the market for more than six months and hasn’t sold. Others may not see that as an issue at all! There are so many factors to consider. The key is working with professionals that are knowledgeable and can guide you in the right direction.

What is one myth about investment properties that you think holds potential investors back from taking the leap?

One of the biggest myths is that you have to be wealthy to invest in real estate. Wealth is not a prerequisite to invest in real estate, but it is a byproduct!

What resources do you recommend potential investors take advantage of in preparation for taking the leap?

Before taking the leap you should try to learn about the different ways to invest in real estate and learn from investors in your area. For in-person resources, I suggest finding a local real-estate investment association so that you can learn from and network with local investors. For online resources, check out my site. They call me The Key Resource for a reason!