RPOA Member Spotlight: Tom Koetsier
One of the most influential voices within the RPOA is one that has been with the organization for nearly 20 years. Throughout his time here, he has held numerous leadership positions and helped make fundamental improvements and steer the organization on the right path, making it what it is today—one of the best real estate investor associations in the country. This quarter’s member spotlight is Tom Koetsier.
Before getting his start as a real estate investor, Tom spent 23 years in the corporate world as a regional restaurant manager, overseeing 28 restaurants.
Tom has owned and managed rental and investment property in Grand Rapids and the surrounding communities for 20 years. He purchased his first investment property in 1994, a duplex. In 2000, he began to acquire a few more properties—more duplexes, but also some 4-units. Throughout this process, his wife Clare had some reservations. Wanting to make sure that Tom went about things the right way, she insisted that he seek some guidance and join a local real estate investor association. Tom accepted that compromise, and the association turned out to be the RPOA, which he has been involved with ever since.
In 2001, Tom was appointed to the RPOA Board of Directors. Except for a handful of required off years, Tom has served continuously, serving six of those years in the position of Board President. He has also been Board Secretary and Treasurer at various times. He has also chaired every committee and was nominated as Board Member of the Year for five straight years. At this year’s annual board luncheon, he was presented with both the Outstanding Volunteer of the Year and Leadership Achievement awards!
Tom has also been involved with the governmental affairs committee just about as long as he’s been a member and is involved with the state-wide group too. He recognizes the importance of the impact legislation and ordinances can have on landlords and their ability to provide quality housing. Being involved in government affairs serves as a way to be an information source and have the ability to influence decisions in a favorable way for landlords and investors.
But his contributions to the RPOA certainly don’t stop there. Tom was a key player in helping to restructure the RPOA’s educational program and has worked closely with the city and community leaders to raise the professional standing of the organization. He teaches two classes at the RPOA: Buying and Selling Rental Property and How to Appeal Your Property Taxes. Helping people save money by appealing their property taxes is something Tom enjoys and something he does very well. By doing this he has helped many save thousands of dollars—even saving a client $300,000 on one deal!
Also in 2001, he formed a partnership with his daughter Allison, who he says is the BEST partner (and, smiling, also promises this opinion isn’t biased). In the beginning, they continued to invest in multi-family properties until the recession hit, then decided to make the switch to single-family properties.
In 2005, Tom obtained his broker’s license and began a full-time venture in Koetsier Realty. In 2014, Koetsier Realty merged with Compass Realty. This new partnership, and being able to work with a strong team, allowed him to continue doing what he loved without having to worry so much about the back end of operations.
Tom enjoys helping people get started in the real estate investing business. He sees being involved with the RPOA as a great way to volunteer and give back. He is a strong believer in the organization and stresses how important it is to learn to do the job right and still be profitable. Getting involved with the RPOA and serving on a committee is a great way to do just that.
He appreciates all of the people he has been able to meet through the RPOA and he says it’s the people who are involved with the RPOA that are what make it a solid organization that is working toward a better future.
Some advice he has for those just getting started in owning rental property is to start out by house hacking (living in one side of a duplex while renting the other out)—which will let you gain experience being a landlord while getting the mortgage paid. He also stresses to make sure the type of rental property fits you—your lifestyle, your goals, etc. and to also be sure to do your due diligence to help reduce risk.