10 things I wish I knew before starting real estate investing

1. Rental properties suck money.

Even though it seems like buying rental properties is the way to wealth, it only works if you have a good income coming in from another source.

If you’re like me, one of the first books that you read about real estate investing and wealth building was Rich Dad Poor Dad. Now, this book is a MUST READ if you haven’t read it already, but if you go out and start buying rental properties without having a solid income to keep buying rental properties, you’ll find yourself in trouble.

This is because rental properties don’t always make the cash flow that you’re expecting month after month. Sometimes the renter decides not to pay, or you need to fix something about the house, or there’s some random unexpected bill that comes up.

If you have an income that can cover for this unexpected loss, you’re fine. But if you dump all of your savings into a rental property (or three), this can hurt bad.

This is why you should set a rental property goal at 7-10 properties (or units) before you start to rely on the income coming in.

At 7-10 rental properties you can have the income from the properly functioning properties cover the losses from the unexpected bills that come up.

2. A good property manager is worth his or her weight in gold.

When you’re looking at building your rental property portfolio make sure that you have found 2-3 decent property managers in the area.

Property managers aren’t necessarily hard to find, but you need to make sure you can find them. Believe it or not, but there are some areas of the US where you will have trouble finding a good property manager.

When looking for one, you can simply find them online, but make sure to ask for references. AND CALL THEM! When you have the references on the phone make sure to ask how the manager has handled tough situations, such as a tenant that stops paying, repairs needed, or filling an empty unit. This will tell a whole lot about the property manager. And you must know these answers.

3. You better like to learn (a lot).

If you are a natural learner than you will be fine. If not, you better start to like it.

If you want to be successful at this real estate investing game you need to be always adapting, reading the market, reading people, and getting better at your game.

The more that you can read about other successful people the more successful you will be. It doesn’t have to be success in real estate either. It can be in any business.

The people who fail, just don’t adapt. Losses are going to happen, and you need to learn from them. In fact you will definitely learn more from your losses than from any of your wins.

The problem is that most people don’t keep going. They have a loss, and they quit.

You can’t really blame them. I mean, our educational system breads people to be that way. It teaches us that losses are a bad thing. Can I let you in on a little secret? Losses are the key to your success. If you try something and it doesn’t get you the results that you want… try something else. Keep trying until you get the results that you are looking for.

4. People are the key to your success.

The people that you surround yourself with will make the biggest difference on your success or failure longterm. And the speed at which you succeed or fail.

So, go to meet ups. Go to real estate meetings. Socialize, and make friends with people doing cool things. This can even be online. Talk with people on forums, and social media. Make quality lasting relationships.

But! Also, be quick to let people go if you’ve discovered that they are pulling you down.

5. Success isn’t easy.

Energy for work

Energy for work

This doesn’t mean that you have to spend a ton of time doing things that you don’t like doing. But it does mean that the majority of people who find success have to work hard for it.

It will take time, and work towards mastery. Find that love for learning. Then teach it, and learn more. Get lost in loving to work hard.

6. Success can lead to a loss of balance.

Have fun.  Keep balance.

Have fun. Keep balance.

Once you’ve figured out what works for you, you’ll want it more and more. And you’ll want to put more and more time into it.

What can happen is… other parts of you life that don’t get the time they deserve, start to fail, and fall apart.

This can be health, relationships, spirituality, etc.

It’s a great idea to consistently ask yourself (daily) what’s important to you, and how you’re doing in those areas of your life. How’s your fitness? How are your close relationships? How’s your diet? How’s your mental health?

You can even benefit quite a bit by having an accountability partner. This is someone that you can talk to in regular intervals about how they think things are going for you.

A third party will always have a better perspective on your life than you.

7. You might need a runway.

What’s a runway?

A runway is an income source to get you beyond the “dip” as Seth Godin calls it.

Unfortunately, there is almost always a touch patch that you have to work through when starting a business. And unfortunately this time usually puts you into a money crunch, unless you have an income source that you can lean on until you get out of the dip.

Sometimes people have a large savings that they can rely upon, or sometimes it’s not a bad idea to keep you job until you find some predictability in your real estate investing business.

Everyone wants to get excited about the business, and go “all in”, but just be careful. I want you to be successful, and success can take some time.

8. A mastermind group is worth it’s weight in gold.

If you can hook up with a good mastermind group from the beginning of your business you success will come much faster.

The best thing you can do is get into a mastermind situation with a group that’s ahead of you in business. The others in this kind of mastermind will pull you and your business up to success faster.

Once you have some success I recommend that you join some mastermind groups that have people in different industries. You can always learn great things from different kinds of businesses.

I have learned a TON from my mastermind friends in the hotel and beauty industries, and applied some of what they are doing successfully into my real estate investing business.

9. Partners are great (sometimes).

I lucked out and partnered with my childhood best friend in our real estate business, but I have attempted to partner several other times without as much success.

Partnering sounds like a great idea, and with the right people it can help your business grow MUCH faster than without. But it can also destroy businesses, and friendships.

I’m not even really sure that I have a fail proof way to find a good partner. In the beginning you almost always think you’ve found a great partner.

What I would say is… always make sure that each of you has a way out of the business. Write up a simple contract that allows you to get out without messing up the business as a whole.

10. It’s about the journey and not the destination.

I’m sure that you’ve heard this a million times, but it’s so true.

Business (and life) can be hard, but really appreciating the day to day actions is so important.

Make sure that you’re doing what you enjoy doing. Do things that make you shine on the inside, and positively impact the world.

For example, I shine when I get to write, and teach people what I’ve learned. When I do this everyone benefits, and I feel fulfilled. It’s great!

But, I didn’t realized that’s what I really liked to do until a few years into my business.

I could (and sometimes should) hire someone to write for me. And sometimes I do, but probably not as often as I should. But I just love the creation of writing, making videos, podcasts, whatever. It’s just so fun.

Find what you have fun doing, and run with it. And if there are things that you hate doing that are essential to your businesses survival, hire someone to do those things.

Do what you want to… real estate investor

To be a successful real estate investor you only have to do a few things well…

Marketing, and talking with people.

Of course there are a few other things that help out. Like know how to value repairs, and predicting after repair values. But the truth is you can find people to do those things for you if need be. Hiking

The whole point of this that you don’t have to do everything, and you really shouldn’t be.

Go partner with someone who likes to do what you do not like doing.

For example, if you like talking to people then do the acquisitions, and find someone else to do the marketing. Or visa versa.

If you like to write… then be in charge of getting a blog post up every week on your site. If not, hire someone, or partner with someone to do it.

This is really easy once you start asking other people what they like to do. Ask questions, and you’ll find people that you can work with.

Just please don’t do everything! Working out

If you cannot find people to partner with, do those things that you don’t like to do long enough that you can train someone else to do them. Then hire someone to do those things, train them, and get back to doing what you enjoy doing.

Let’s break this down..

1. Write out everything that you have to do in your real estate business.
2. Write down all of the things that you enjoy doing.
3. Write down all of the things that you’d rather have someone else do.
4. Write down who you think might like to do those things if you partnered with them.
5. Have coffee with your potential partners, and ask them what they think.
6. Put contracts in place that clarify the relationship between you and your partner(s).
7. Get to work doing what you like!

This might sound easier than you think it is, but once you start looking at your business in this way, it’s not that hard. Costa rica

The hardest part is getting started. But when you get it right you’ll have time for fun in and out of your business!

Just know that partnerships don’t always workout, but that’s ok. Because once you find the partnerships that work, you’ll never believe that you were able to do it any other way.

Good luck, let me know of you have any questions.

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Real estate investing day to day structure for success

One of the most interesting things that I hear from other people is how they structure their days.  That is how the successful people that you or I want to be like, how they structure their days.

ObstacleIstheWayI was recently listening to the book The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday, a very good book, and at the very end of the audiobook version Ryan is being interviewed by Tim Ferriss.  And Tim asks Ryan how he structures his day…

One of the major things that stood out for me about Ryan Holiday’s day is that he writes for 1-2 hours first thing in the morning while the world is still moving slow.  This seems to be the major thing that gets him ahead.  The difference maker.  It’s the producing!  If we want get ahead at our work we need to be producing or creating.  This is the opposite of consuming, or reacting.

The funny thing is that most people (me included) get into the rut of consuming and reacting, and then we run out of time to produce or create.

For this reason I’m gong to give you an account of my day when I’m in the zone, and everything is rocking.

7am-8am – Wake up
8:30am-10:30am – Coffee and writing – this could be writing a blog post, an ebook, some direct mail marketing, a book, or just journaling.  It might sounds weird, but the best times in our physical real estate business have come from a result of blog posts, videos, or unique direct mail that we’ve created.  During this time the email is closed!
10:30am – Eat breakfast
11am-11:30am – Check email
12pm-3pm – Phone calls, meetings, coffee meet ups, look at houses, eat lunch.
3:30pm-4pm – Check email, eat more food.
5pm-7pm – Workout
7:30pm – Eat dinner
8:30pm – Plan todo’s for next day.
9pm-11pm – Relax and eat more.

If there are no phone calls/meetings/houses/etc then I will go into creation mode again.  You can never create too much.

Sleep: GET A LOT!!!  I sleep 8-11 hours every night.  Sleeping helps you perform at your best, as does diet, so eat really clean food.  If you don’t know what this means… look into the Paleo diet.  Also, if you need to get up earlier then go to sleep earlier, but don’t lose sleep.  You should know what is optimal for you.

Workout: never miss a workout!  If you miss a workout, it better be making you at least $10k!  Seriously!  Money is great, but if you’re not healthy, money is NOTHING.

Reading: I almost always listen to audiobooks or podcast during every meal (that I’m by myself), and when I’m driving.  Get into the habit of always listening to books while you drive.  You will learn so much!

Bring is all back
I hope that is will help you to structure your day in a way that gives you success.  This may not be the ideal structure for you, but what I do know is that successful people have structure and routine.  Create your routine, and stick to it.

If you have a daily structure that works great for you I’d love to hear about it.  Drop me a comment below with what has brought you success.

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The AL Report March Seattle Investors Club: Insurance for Investors

Topic:  Insurance for Investors/ New Products/ New Attitudes

Presenter:  Mike Englund, Fournier Insurance Solutions, Tacoma WA
Location:  Shoreline Conference Center


Welcome to THE ‘AL’ REPORT.  My name’s AL — Here’s my report.

A record 33 attended including several new people!

* 4pm  Mingling, and vital business networking

* 4:45pm  Joe began with ‘Needs and Wants’ where each person around the table shares what they need or want.  This way someone may be able to match a solution to their need/want.  Items included a general contractor in Kent/south areas, architect, funding, a wholesale buyer in Everett, auction help, insurance info, CPA, more projects, wholesale leads, partners for off market houses.

When we got to ‘AL’, Joe suggested I explain the gong next to me on the table.  In the words of Than Merrill, CEO and founder of FortuneBuilders, “…we believe in ‘celebrating all wins’…”  So I got us a Celebrate All Wins! gong.  Now we can each share a ‘WIN’, any WIN…and ring the gong to celebrate!  One person shared nearing completion of the real estate license course.  Many other ‘WINS’ were shared and the gong rang to each of them.  Come share a WIN in your life or business and ring the gong!

* 5pm Presention:  Mr. Mike Englund, 35 years in the insurance industry.  (He must have started at age 5)  Mike is Julie’s insurance broker.

Mike Englund

Mike Englund

Ten Steps to Better Protecting Your Investment Property!

Mike began by saying that when Julie invited him to speak to our group, he envisioned about six people on a living room couch.  What he found was a room FULL of investors…all potentially needing unoccupied homeowners coverage.  He explained that most agencies have not done a good job meeting investors’ needs, for rehab and buy-and-hold scenarios.  However, recent changes in the insurance industry make it possible for them to tailor coverage to what we need.  The insurance industry tends to run from condos…because often the HOAs have not kept the building in good condition.  And, contractors have caused some problems (themselves) due to long term water damage issues related to poor workmanship.

The big question is… are you covered ENOUGH?  His job is to assume there would be a loss, and provide coverage appropriately.

Concepts for today.  Mike presented ten points that he discussed.

1)  Valuation –

He recommends issuing a policy based on what was there, that is…replacement value, not what you may wish to be there, or had planned for, like in a renovation project.  The loan at the very least must be covered.  Valuation basis is the replacement cost (requires rebuild/repair to collect) and the actual cash (depreciated) value.  You can do as you please with the settlement money.  The question is: What are your plans for the property in the event of a loss (and how do you want the insurance policy to respond)?  You should also have a discussion with the agent about whether a “builder’s risk” form vs. a “dwelling fire” form is most appropriate.  Your answer will depend on the extent of renovation  Cosmetic, carpet/paint = dwelling fire policy.  Strip to studs = builder’s risk policy.

2)  Coinsurance Penalty Clause –

This is often built into the policy; these have been imposed by insurance companies.  If you didn’t insure to the full replacement cost, the claim settlement is reduced by the percentage amount that you are underinsured.

Example: You insured a $100K replacement cost dwelling for only $80K, (you're 20% underinsured--according to the insurance company valuation).  You sustain a $40K loss on that property.  Your settlement check is $32K (20% coinsurance penalty) rather than the full $40K.  (Ignoring the deductible for simplicity.)

It is vital to insure to the replacement value.  Replacement = After Repair Value (ARV) minus the land.

3)  Perils Insured Against – Named Perils vs. Special Form.

The Special Form has ‘everything’, except what’s specifically excluded (e.g. gradual wear/tear, earthquake, flood).  The Basic Form (named peril) has 10 things but no water damage, no theft coverage.  There are separate riders for appliance and staged items theft, a common problem.  Generally speaking, buy Special Form coverage, if you can get it!

4)  Obscurity – such as building ordinances, loss of rents.

Separate coverage is available for energy codes, building ordinances, loss of rents, changes in codes.

5)  Vacancy Clause –

These are especially important for flips.  These clauses state there is NO coverage for loss from vandalism, water, theft in a vacant property.  Be sure to suspend these clauses in policies.  Ask about them before signing.

6)  Liability – Licensed/Insured Contractors.

Always do business with licensed and insured contractors.  That way, if there is a claim by a contractor or sub on your project, the contractor or sub covers it.  This helps to keep your record clean.  Have the needed written agreements with your contractors in advance of commencing work.  (See the Six Critical Documents from FortuneBuilders.)

7)  Deductible Considerations –

Higher deductibles, and paying small losses out of pocket saves the owner money over time.  A habit of losses will end up costing more.  Let’s say the appliances were stolen.  A $2500 deductible in this case will save premium costs in the long run and keep company loss records clean.  In other words, plan to pay for ‘minor’ losses out of the business funds to avoid making claims that are not huge.

8)  Minimum Earned Premium provisions –

This says that the insurance company keeps the premium for the period of time indicated, even if you no longer need the coverage.  Watch out for this trap–most commonly the company imposes 25% (3 month) minimum earned premium.  Some companies even impose a “fully earned” premium rule, meaning they keep 100% of a one year policy even if you finish the project in less time, like 6 months.  Not all companies practice this; be aware of the provision before accepting coverage!

9)  Package/Portfolio Nirvana –

Individual policies are preferable to ‘one size fits all’ packages.  Blanket agreed value.  No ‘minimum earned’ provisions.  Multiple projects/properties on one policy can result in lower insurance cost per property.  Have similar properties conglomerated.  These likely will only be available with multiple projects in a given year.  Coverage is superior, premium is lower.  Purchase if you can!

10)  Companies to know –

Mutual of Enumclaw, Lloyds of London, Foremost, American Modern (10 home portfolios), Berkshire Hathaway, CIG (Capital Insurance Group)


Contact information:
Mike Englund, Fournier Insurance Solutions
206.696.0676  c
253.473.3010  w



  • Your Seattle Investing Group is growing!  These meetings began a year ago by local FortuneBuilders Mastery students, AND we happily include other like-minded folks interested in learning/doing what we do.  These are not sales meetings and nobody tries to get you to join anything…except maybe their buyers list.  (Put me on yours!)  We share, learn, team up, buy, sell, lend, etc.  Invite others and come join us!
  • Meetings are the first Saturday of the month, 4pm to 6pm, unless otherwise announced.  Watch for Joe’s emails.  Other news is posted on our exclusive Seattle Investors Club Facebook page.  Email us for an invite.
  • Do you have ideas for a meeting format or topic?  Please contact Julie or Joe.  Perhaps you know an expert to invite.  Perhaps you ARE an expert!  We welcome your suggestions.
  • Dan Wick wants everyone to know that he has a contracting business and needs to keep his guys busy.  I bet Koa and Owen would say the same thing.
  • Many thanks to the organizers, Coach Joe Bauer and Mastery student, Julie Clark, for their diligence.


And thanks to everyone.  We look forward to knowing and working with you!



Disclaimer:  Though every effort is made to report accurately, the inadvertent error may occur.  Feel free to let me know if you see any goofs.  Thank you.   AF  solutions4you@fastmail.us

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The AL Report – June Seattle Investors Club

THE AL REPORT – June Seattle Investors Club


Welcome to THE AL REPORT.  My name’s AL.  Here’s my report.

Seattle FortuneBuilders Mastery students (aka Seattle Investors Club) held their fourth meeting from 4 to 6pm, Saturday, June 22, at the Shoreline Conference Center, in the same room as the previous two meetings.  Coach Joe Bauer and Mastery student Julie Clark once again organized it.  Many thanks to you for all your work!

The agenda was to interact informally the first hour.  Then Joe would present an interactive discussion about Wholesaling.

I counted 19 attendees including six new people.  Timothy brought two people, Tony who actively targets wholesale deals, and Barbara who is a seasoned property manager.  I also met Gill and Shelby, investors from the Kent area, and Russell and Virginia, investors from Marysville.  Thanks for joining us!  Look for their details at the bottom of this report.

Before I forget, I learned something at the meeting that I find exciting.  Hammerpoint, an online and free app repair sheet.  www.hammerpoint.com.  Shelby told us about it during the 2nd hour.  It is supposed to use ‘regional specific’ prices to estimate rehab repair costs.  We tried it a few days later on a property a friend is about to rehab.  The numbers were comparable to what the contractor had quoted.  See what you find.  Here’s yet another cool tool!

Joe began the second hour by asking us, “What are the parts needed to do a wholesale deal?”  He wrote the items on the board as we called them out.  We came up with:

1 Marketing

2 Lead Sheet

3 Appointment

4 Rehab cost / info

5 Signed PSA

6 Market to buyers

7 Babysit the deal till it’s done


Each item generated more discussion.


1  Marketing

Marketing includes bandit signs, ads in various places like Craigslist, social media, your webpage, word of mouth, mailings to targeted lists (probate, NOD, etc.) and a host of others…the sky is the limit.  Someone said, ‘Signs work, use em.’


2  Lead sheet.

While speaking with potential sellers, preferably on the phone, NOT by leaving your office to meet them, be filling out your lead sheet.  What are you looking for?  MOTIVATION.  Get the address.  Find out if the mortgage is current.  Is there equity?  (You can explain that this info is important for you to determine the best solutions for them.)

Do your desktop analysis.  Look up comps.

Talk with the seller as much as and as many times as possible/needed.  Be sure to get their contact info, especially phone number, so you CAN call them back.  When they ask things of you like, “How much will you pay for my house?”, say something like you need to do an analysis first and then you can get back to them, later that day.  NEVER quote a price beforehand.

Try never to leave your desk…UNLESS the deal is super compelling.

3  Appointment.

The key here is rapport.  Listen, listen, listen.  Find commonality.  Sports, foods, where they lived, education, movies, travel, kids, animals, anything.  (If their little yappy dog bites you in the leg like one did to Ken, well…there must be something…maybe you both share the same medical plan?)  Listen, listen, listen.  He who talks most, loses.

At the appointment, let THEM tell you first what price they have in mind.  If you offer first, it may be higher than what they would have asked, and it gives you a starting place.  Ask them, “What do you need out of the property?”

Joe even offered to go on appointments with us!  That really surprised me and it would help.  I’d like to see the master at work.  Nice going, my friend!


4  Rehab cost and information.

Use a repair sheet.  FB has one, and there is www.hammerpoint.com.  It’s also an ‘app’ for your iPhone.  It’s free.  You can use the repair information when explaining to the seller where your price comes from.

When finding an inspector, here’s a script, “Hello.  I’m a wholesaler.  I work with a lot of rehabbers and I can refer you to them.  I’m looking for someone I can call to give me an opinion of repair costs.”

Joe says that they renegotiated 25% of the contracts he and Erik did.  Things come up, liens, unnoticed repairs, pests, etc.

5  PSA.

Try to get the Purchase and Sale Agreement signed.  But if you don’t, it’s a not a bad thing.  Just say, “I’ll go run some numbers and get back to you.”  Try asking, “Are you flexible in your price?”  Julie told me of a recent phone conversation where the seller was outspoken and kept saying how much she had paid for the house.  Julie then said to her that she appreciated her being up front with her and now she was going to do the same.  “Nobody cares what you paid for your house.  All they care about is what it is worth.”  The lady totally changed and the conversation went well.  (I guess it helps to have kids.)

In the PSA contract include the inspection time period.  Determine when the seller needs to close.  Size of the property may have some bearing on this timeline.  Try to get it sold before the moving trucks come.  Always try to negotiate the time period.

Discussion ensued:

NWMLS – if the PSA says in the title, “And/or assigns” then the contract can be assigned.  If it does not say this, we can cross out the clause that says it cannot be assigned and initial this by both parties. Then it can be assigned.

Shelby said that we an attach an addendum saying, “Purchaser has the right to market the property….”

Julie has a copy of a filled-in Washington PSA. (She has emailed it to us, if you didn’t get it, let AL or Julie know.)  It is reviewed by a lawyer in this state.

Many documents are available on NWMLS under the ‘docs’ section.

Barbara said docs are available on the Rental Properties of Puget Sound (RPPS) site.

Julie:  In Wash. PSA must have Legal Description, Lead Disclosure, Form 17.

Tony asked, “Do you need to put a wholesale deal under double escrow?

Joe answered that they use Terry McGrath of McGrath Escrow in Bellevue.  “She’s good.”

Shelby:  If property is in a land trust, you can sell the beneficial interest in the trust.

Joe says they disclose to the buyer what their wholesale fee is.

Timothy asked, “At what dollar amount does a wholesale fee become a risk?”

Joe answered that it depends on the deal and the relationships you have.  The fee should leave more profit for the rehabber than the wholesaler.  Case in point, Joe says he has lost money before on rehabs.  And he would ‘be upset’ if he had learned that the wholesale fee was more than what he expected to make on the rehab.  Be straight up with the seller.  Later Joe said, “If a wholesaler won’t disclose his fee to me as a buyer, I can’t work with him.”

Julie asked, “What was Joe’s method to renegotiate?”

Joe: If the contractor’s estimated rehab figure was higher than what Joe had anticipated, then Joe would have to go back to the seller to take less so the deal would work.  He has had a ‘decent’ success rate in doing this.  “It’s all rapport.”


6  Market to Buyers.

The wholesale package includes comps, deal analyzer, MAO, photos, estimated repair costs, ROI analysis (from deal analyzer), capitalization rate, rental analysis.  (There is now a rental deal analyzer on the Mastery site.)  He may include a link to google maps too.  On his webpage he puts one photo that links to all the others.

Joe says that the less he puts in his ads, the more calls he gets.  He mainly puts in the profit, repair costs, price and LOTS OF PHOTOS.  “Give them a reason to call you.  You’re not trying to get them to decide on the deal on their own before calling you, you’re just trying to get them to call you.”  Keep it simple.

When they do call and they ask, you can give them the details.  You can give them breakdowns for cash profit and loan profit.  (Even if they don’t buy that particular deal, they might buy a future one.  Build your list from these calls.)

Joe pointed out the difference between a wholesale deal and a rehab deal.  A wholesale deal contains ESTIMATED numbers.  It is up to the buyer/rehabber to determine the more accurate, real figures and to analyze the deal for himself.

Timothy uses Craigslist and YouTube to buy and sell.   (Of course he does.  I would expect nothing less of him.)


7  Babysit the deal

Monitor it until it is done.  This basically means keeping everyone happy.

Julie commented there is a huge demand for rent to own.  Anthony Moore held a Sat morning webinar earlier that same day, June 22, on this topic.  He pointed out the need to separate the ‘lease’ part of the contract from the ‘own’ part of the contract to avoid problems.  For instance, if the renter defaults, and you need to get a new rent to own tenant, how do you evict the defaulting party if they are part owner of the house?  Answer…you don’t.  Hence the need to keep the two contracts separate.

After the meeting four of us went to Timothy’s new deal, just a couple blocks away and to Ken and Al’s new deal, both in Shoreline.

Thanks to everyone for attending.  Bring interested people to the next one!  Again, welcome to our new guests named below!


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