Meet Allison Koetsier

Allison Koetsier is an Associate Broker with Compass Realty Services who helps real estate investors meet their investment goals. A rental property owner and real estate investor herself for more than 20 years, Allison owns almost 100 units in Grand Rapids, Coopersville, and Sturgis, Michigan.

Allison Koetsier

Allison Koetsier is an Associate Broker with Compass Realty Services who helps real estate investors meet their investment goals. A rental property owner and real estate investor herself for more than 20 years, Allison owns almost 100 units in Grand Rapids, Coopersville, and Sturgis, Michigan.

Allison is a member and former board member of the Rental Property Owners Association (RPOA) in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and currently teaches several continuing education courses for the group. She also attended Michigan State University and earned a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.  She moved to the Grand Rapids area in the late 1990s. She shares her home with her 13-year-old son, two loving pit bulls, and two seeing-impaired cats.

Please tell us a little about who you are and what you did before getting into real estate investing:

I received my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Michigan State University and spent 10 years as a full-time veterinarian before pursuing a career in real estate investing. My first job was a mixed animal practice in southwest Michigan. In addition to general large and small animal practice, we worked on lions, emus, and numerous other exotics. After this position, I moved to an exclusive small animal practice and spent a brief period in a Veterinary Dental Residency program. I quickly realized that my passion wasn’t to be a dental specialist, but to perform high-level dentistry within a general medicine practice. Today, my primary responsibility is reading oral radiographs and extracting pets’ teeth as my part-time career.

Where is your current market and what is your focus or area of expertise?

I am an associate real estate broker in greater Grand Rapids, Michigan. I specialize in helping investors build wealth through investing in rental properties, mainly 1 to 4 family units. For six consecutive years, I have been the top selling Realtor of multi-family homes in my local market.  I am also a buy-and-hold landlord owning almost 100 units and do an occasional flip. I own two small apartment complexes, a 12-unit and a 48-unit, along with several small multi-family homes and numerous single family residences.

How did you get started?

I give all the credit for my real estate career to my father, Tom Koetsier. My dad came to me in the late 1990s and said.  “Hey, I think we should buy some rental property together.” I had some knowledge of the benefits of passive income but don’t think I would have gone down that road without his partnership and support. Working together allowed us to spread out the risk, share the workload, and be able to invest with someone that we both trusted. And that began my journey of wealth building. I will never be able to thank my father enough for the multipl ways he changed and enriched my life.

Describe a typical work week for you as a real estate investor:

My rental properties are overseen by property managers so my day-to-day involvement in that side of the business is limited at this time. I do oversee my own turnovers, city inspections, and rehabs. As a Realtor, I help clients list and purchase new properties. I also provide mentoring for new investors on goal setting and investment objectives.

How long have you been investing in real estate? 

My father and I purchased our first rental property about 20 years ago. I became a Realtor in 2005 and received my broker license in 2013.

Tell us about your first deal:

In short, our first deal was a disaster in the beginning.  There is no substitute for learning from your own mistakes. The first Realtor we worked with was more of a residential Realtor than an investment Realtor. We were unfamiliar with city inspection programs, uncapping and different neighborhoods. Soon after we bought a brick 4-unit, we received our rental inspection notice and then an 8-page list of required repairs followed. We used to collect our own rent in person (never do this!). After six years, we sold it for a $50,000 profit, but not without a lot of sweat equity and a true education.

How do you fund your investments?

In the beginning, my father and I each put up half of the down payment and mainly got 30-year conventional loans. This was when lending practices were more investor friendly so after the recession we bought some properties where we rolled in the repair costs and actually got cash back at close, – I know, right???   We also worked with some private investors. Currently the larger deals use commercial financing and the smaller ones involve paying cash.

Do you have a real estate license?

Yes, I have been a Realtor since 2005 and an associate real estate Broker since 2013. My goal was never to be a Realtor, but after our first deal I decided that it would be smart to be more educated and be able to utilize the Realtor’s Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The original goal was to use my license for just my own deals, but I realized that there was a huge opportunity for truly knowledgeable investment Realtors. I have turned it into an amazing niche career.

What projects are you currently working on?

I am finishing the rehab on a duplex to list for sale that I had rented out for the past 5 years. Also, a single-family home that sold on land contract about 10 years ago now is cashing out. I also continue to provide ongoing Realtor services to my large client base.

How much time do you put into your real estate education?

For the first several years that we owned rental property, we were self-managed so that was an education. I mowed the lawns, turned the units – painting, cleaning, minor electrical and plumbing – and managed all our contractors. I met the inspectors for the rental inspections. I have actively participated in the continuing education offered by the Rental Property Owners Association (RPOA). In addition, to my Realtor education and continuing education, I have hosted a monthly millionaire mastermind group at the RPOA for the last 10 years.

Has coaching or mentoring played a part in your success?

My father, who recently passed away, was definitely the impetus for my success and his influence cannot be overestimated. He touched many lives in the real estate industry. I have also spent a lot of time working with other successful landlords and investors.

What are your current and future goals?

My current goal is to increase my passive income and continue to find ways to give back to others in a meaningful way. In the future, I would like to find more time to travel with family and friends.

What has been your top struggle in this business? 

It is difficult to find quality, affordable tradespeople who can get things done in a timely fashion. Also, as the real estate market improves, it has been increasingly difficult to find good deals.

What do you like most about what you do?

Being my own boss, time affluence, helping others achieve financial freedom and the passive income.

Do you have a tip or advice that you would pass along to other investors?

Build a team. Make sure you are working with people who are successful in doing what you want to do. If you are looking for a Realtor, your first question should be, “How many rental properties do you own?” If the answer is none, find a different Realtor. You can read all the books you want, but until you have actually managed your own property and really worked with tenants, you don’t know rental property.

How important is joining a local REIA to a new investor?

The importance of joining your local REIA cannot be overemphasized. I am fortunate to belong to one of the best in the country. The educational, networking and mentoring options are amazing. I built an entire real estate business through our group and word-of-mouth and have closed almost 500 real estate transaction in the last 5 years.

What is your favorite self-help or business book?

Lifeonaire: An Uncommon Approach to Wealth Success by Steve McCloskey. It is not the best landlord or investing book and a little quirky at times, but the best messaging about establishing a truly successful life. And by successful, I mean putting your family, friends and leisure time first. That to me is quality time.

Do you have any interesting hobbies or something unique that you like to do?

My son and I enjoy traveling and hiking in different areas.  When at home, we enjoy playing with our uber friendly pit bulls and our vision-impaired cats.