Tim Bratz is the CEO and founder of Cleveland-based Legacy Wealth Holdings, a real estate investment company that acquires and transforms distressed apartment buildings into high-yield assets. His current portfolio exceeds 4,000 units with a valuation of more than $300 million. But for Tim, it’s about more than the money, it’s about making a positive impact. We sat down with him to find out more about his mission to educate and empower others—and to hear about his series of children’s achievement books, Little Legacy Library.
Tell me a little bit about your background and how you got into real estate.
I’m an apartment investor. I invest in commercial real estate for my own holdings. In college, I had a painting business and I interned for one of largest home builders in country. When I graduated in 2007, I moved from Cleveland, Ohio, to New York City, got my real estate license, and started brokering retail leases for a small firm. After seven months, I closed my first lease in Greenwich Village. I did some math and realized the landlord would earn nearly $2 million over the lease term, and I quickly realized that I needed to own real estate, not broker it.
I moved to Charleston, South Carolina, invested in a bunch of courses and programs, and studied how to invest in real estate. I bought my first investment property in 2009 using my credit card, and slowly grew my portfolio to 10 units over the next 3 years. I moved back to Cleveland at the end of 2012 and bought my first apartment building with some business partners. That partnership lasted a few years, but we ultimately decided to part ways and liquidate the 140 units we had accumulated. It felt like a big setback at the time, but was really a huge setup for something better. I started building my current portfolio in August 2015. With my knowledge and experience, l was able to scale up my business quickly to now over 4,000 units, worth more than $300 million.
How did you scale up Legacy Wealth Holdings so quickly?
I come from the residential investment realm. I started as a broker, got into wholesaling, flipped retail properties, and then flipped turnkey rental properties. Once I got into apartment buildings, I just kept trading up, from an 8-unit building to a 15-unit, then 23-unit, and so on, and organically grew my portfolio. I was able to scale up because in commercial real estate, you're working with bigger projects and far more scale in management and profits. There’s not a lot of “juice in the squeeze” with single-family houses, but apartment buildings have much more equity built in, which allowed me to attract “A” players to my team and create joint venture partnerships. Now we’re in 11 states. Ninety percent of the portfolio is apartments, with the other 10 percent consisting of self-storage, office, and some vacation rentals. It seems extremely quick, but remember, it took me 11 years to become an “overnight success”.
You expanded your focus to include an education arm—Legacy Wealth Education. Where did this idea come from?
Legacy Wealth Education started from just sharing insights and strategies on social media about how I acquired and structured deals. People asked if I coached or mentored, so I decided it could be a great source of potential deals and passive investors. You’ll find that, in real estate, only three things matter: finding deals, raising capital, and keeping operations dialed in. What I love about the education side is it generates a ton of deal flow for us and connects us with passive investors. We generate far more revenue from doing deals than we do from the education business. But the education business fuels the high number of deals we do.
What drives you?
When I first got started in real estate, money drove me—I wanted to make lots of money. That may initially seem shallow, but I was never “in love” with money. I’m “in love” with what you can do with money – like give back. My mom has always been big into volunteering, and she planted a seed of giving back. What drives me now is making an impact and helping people take control of their finances and their lives.
You just released your first children’s achievement book in your Little Legacy Library series. I’d love to hear more about this.
Absolutely. On a flight home from a mastermind event a few years ago, I was reading The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz, and thought, “These thought principles are amazing! I need to teach these to my two-year-old daughter.” So I started looking for children’s personal development books. I couldn't find anything, so I launched my own! It’s become a passion project of mine. I have a burning desire to instill success principles into kids from an early age. Our first book is inspired by Think & Grow Rich, it’s called Think Big & Go to Baseball Camp.
One final question, Tim. What do you think makes you unique in the real estate universe?
Well, I’m a blue-collar kid from Cleveland, and I come from the residential world. We’re great at taking complex ideas and boiling them down to a third-grade level, making it simple for everyone to understand. It allows us to generate more opportunity and raise more capital by keeping it simple. The other thing is I’m only 35 years old. Most people in commercial real estate with portfolios my size are much older. Because my team and I are young, we’re extremely dynamic and do things like sourcing off-market deals, raising capital, and refining operations in an unconventional manner. We are stirring up the entire industry for the better.
CEO and Founder — Legacy Wealth Holdings
Real Estate -- LegacyWealthHoldings.com
Coaching -- LegacyWealthHoldings.com/coaching
Children's Achievement Books -- LittleLegacyLibrary.com
YouTube: Legacy Wealth
Download the magazine to see Tim's feature on page 16.