Investor Spotlight: How I Landed a Large Multifamily as My First Investment (& Why I’ve Never Looked Back) Featuring Evan Holladay
Evan Holladay was a pre-med student in college when he discovered real estate investing. A mentorship with one of the top affordable housing developers confirmed his interest and led to his first deal—a (casual) $29 million, 192-unit multifamily new build.
Name: Evan Holladay
What were you doing prior to real estate?
I was lucky—I got into real estate early, while I was still in college. Prior to stumbling into it, I was studying pre-med in school and wanted to be a doctor. But quickly realized I hated science and chemistry!
What got you interested in real estate investing, and how did you get started?
When I was in college, I saw this big student housing and mixed-use development announced. I knew I had to be a part of it! I happened to mention to one of my mentors that it really interested me, and he coincidentally knew the owner/developer. I impressed the owner by bringing a bunch of people out to the groundbreaking, which led to me being the first one he hired to help with the project.
That experience sparked my passion for multifamily development. I loved the prospect of completely changing a neighborhood for the better with a quality development and the ability to positively impact the lives of the residents, as well.
What is your real estate investment plan and preferred investing strategy?
I specialize multifamily investing, buy and hold, and commercial investment properties. Right now, I’m focusing on multifamily affordable and workforce housing development, utilizing public-private partnerships. Here’s how I got into it. After working for the developer, I partnered with four other people to start a modular development company while still in school. We utilized houseboat manufacturing plants but instead of building boats, we built modular components of multifamily housing. We were young and naive but so passionate about it.
We wanted to be able to not just build luxury housing but also make a real difference in the community by building attainably-priced quality housing. That is where we learned about tax credits and public-private partnerships to provide quality affordable housing.
Then, I ended up meeting one of the top affordable developers in the country and worked with them. I learned so much, namely what it took to finance these projects. It was a true apprenticeship and something I recommend to anyone reading this and wanting to level up their real estate investing game quickly. While I worked with them, we went on to be the No. 1 affordable developer and one of the top 10 overall developers in the country.
After a while, I decided to start my own group, Holladay Ventures, where we focus on providing attainable housing and empowering communities! We utilize public-private partnerships, tax credits, tax abatements, and other creative partnerships and finance structures to provide quality attainable housing to our residents and community members.
We work with impact-driven investors to help cities and communities solve their attainable housing crisis. We specialize in new construction 200-plus-unit communities that are sustainably built. Our aim is to incorporate a mixed-use component, as well, specifically including commercial/retail space and non-profit space wherever possible. We also provide resident empowerment programs to help with mindset, health, wellness, financial literacy, and more.
Moving forward, my goal is to find more impact-driven investors who want to make a real difference with their capital, while investing in recession-resistant investments. By that I mean looking for long-term public-private partnerships where we can provide real value to communities across the U.S.
How much did you have to invest when you first started?
What was your first deal?
A $29 million, 192-unit new construction affordable multifamily development located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It took me two years to get it closed, but it was so sweet!
How many deals have you done to date?
What is the most important part of a deal for you?
I ask myself, “Will the project be a long-term (15+ years) success for our partners and us?”
How do you know if a property fits your goals?
In our tax credit attainable housing development, we look for deals that can be financed 100% with tax credits, loans, and other affordable housing grants. If it works out that we can finance the whole project, and if it is a great project for the community, then those are the projects we want!
What red flags do you look out for when purchasing property?
When we buy land for development, we look for any soil or environmental issues, title issues, accessibility issues getting in and out of the site, and zoning/entitlement issues—meaning can we build the number of units we want to build for multifamily?
How has real estate investing changed your life?
It has literally changed everything for me! It is my passion, and being able to use it as a force of good, all while helping create generational wealth for my family, has been amazing! I feel like we are just getting started, and I love spreading the “gospel” of real estate investing. Once you realize the power of compound interest and owning cash-flowing assets, your life becomes yours again!
What’s your “why”—the reason you pursued real estate investing and your drive to keep going when things get tough?
Lasting legacy impact! I want to create or preserve 100,000 attainable housing units across the country. I want our company Holladay Ventures to help make lasting change in terms of providing quality housing for deserving families—all while creating generational wealth for my family and giving to charitable causes to help even more families and the planet.
What should people consider before getting involved in real estate investing?
Cash flow is king, and find a niche within the BIG world of real estate that matches your goals. Stick with it for 1-2 years, and that is when you will see massive momentum.
How did you find out about BiggerPockets? How has it helped you?
The BiggerPockets Podcast. I started listening back when it first came out. The podcast was a mindset game-changer for me, and I’ve established some amazing relationships/friendships within the BiggerPockets community. BPCon in Nashville last year was incredible and great connections were made, as well.