From 14 Million Dollars in Debt to Rebuilding Multi-Million Dollar Companies with Billy Alvaro
A coke dealer and a mortgage broker walked into a bar…It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke. In reality it was the beginning of a chapter in Billy Alvaro’s life. It was the chapter that led to him building multiple real estate-related businesses with a combined volume of over one billion dollars. It would be a fun story if it began and ended with Billy’s rise to and achievement of that massive success, but instead it is an even more powerful story because of what happened when Billy was at the top of the industry.
Billy Alvaro is one of those people who was born with an entrepreneurial spirit.
He was collecting and then selling unexploded July 4th fireworks off the streets of Long Island when he was just 7 years old. At nine years old, he convinced his dad to buy fireworks in bulk so he could resell them for a profit.
From the moment he realized he could buy things for one price and sell them at a higher price, says Billy, he was hooked on entrepreneurship.
While other kids his age were doing the things teenagers do, Billy was, too – but much less than your average teenager. He spent more of his time at the library, where he read up on entrepreneurship and sales. He was just 19 years old when he learned how to qualify for an FHA loan. He applied that knowledge toward investing a few thousand dollars his parents gave him, and bought his first rental property.
The house was a mess but it was his. He wasn’t about to let the fact that he knew nothing about rehabbing a property stop him from doing so. “I saw what I wanted to do and I didn’t let the fear of not knowing hold me back,” he says.
Armed with more guts than knowledge, he blundered his way through those renovations.
“It was a complete disaster,” he laughs, but he made it work. He held on to that house for years, renting it out for a small profit each month while he figured out which path to take next in life.
He wasn’t a kid anymore. It was time to create his own success.
This was easier said than done as his entrepreneurial spirit clashed with the lessons he’d had drilled into him his whole life.
Billy’s parents wanted their children to know they could do anything they wanted with their lives. They often told them so. They also wanted their children to be secure and solid in life, and believed the only path to security was leaving the risk-taking to others. Working for someone else was the way to ensure stability. Dream and scheme on the side if you like, they taught Billy, but only after punching a time-clock.
He held on as long as he could. He tried to conform to his parent’s path. People all around him seemed to do so just fine but to Billy it made no sense.
“I don’t want to work for $35,000 a year just so I have benefits,” he thought. “Why would I want to live my life on the side?”
When Billy could not align his free spirit with the confines of life in NY, he decided Florida would be the place for him to design his own life. His family was pleased that he began training as a police officer. They were less pleased when he realized that was not his calling.
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“My whole family thought I was a loser,” he says, but he dug into the bartending gig he got and enjoyed the rush of breaking free from the expectations of others. He loved bartending at the beach. He loved the people he met, and two of those people were catalysts for the change in Billy’s life trajectory.
The first was Rob, the owner of a mortgage company, who was looking for a protegee to train in the business. The other was a coke dealer.
Kelly was a coke dealer and a bookie who came to the bar every night from 7:00-9:00. “He was a good dude”, says Billy. “He went through his own tough times and that’s where he ended up.”
Kelly told Billy if he didn’t figure out something bigger to do with his own life, he’d end up like Rick, a stereotypical alcoholic bartender whose interests began and ended with the alcohol he served and drank.
It was Kelly who heard Rob mention he was seeking a protegee, and made it his mission to make sure that Billy followed up on that opportunity.
“Did you call Rob yet?” he’d ask Billy every day. Each time, Billy would promise he’d call Rob tomorrow. It wasn’t that he wasn’t interested in the opportunity, says Billy. But he wasn’t that 19 year old invincible kid at that point in his life. His insecurities out-powered his ambition. He was stalled in his own insecurities.
He was acutely aware of the fact that he did not have a college degree. He knew little to nothing about the world of finance either. So as much as he wanted to call Rob, his insecurities held him back. It took Kelly 30 days of relentlessly pushing Billy before his patience finally gave out. “Pick up the phone right now,” he demanded, as he handed the phone to Billy.
That phone call led to a meeting that changed the trajectory of Billy Alvaro’s life.
Billy arrived at that meeting straight from the night shift at the bar. He was uncertain and insecure. He left that meeting knowing he’d found the path to his own success. He was bursting with impatience to begin, and ready to do whatever it took to climb that path straight to the top.
That commitment and die-hard energy would be tested over the next year as Billy kept his bartending job and worked full time for Rob while absorbing every lesson his mentor had for him.
More than the money he saw being made, it was the realization that the work he was doing actually helped people. Solving problems of people struggling to afford a home, or looking to invest, or any of the other elements of the real estate industry just made him feel good about himself. He worked relentlessly for a year, as his agreement with Rob had been crafted, before he began being paid for that work.
By the time he was 24 years old, he was making more money than he’d thought possible. Twenty thousand one month, thirty the next. Eventually he made $50,000 in one month, he knew the time had come for him to spread his wings.
A friend of Billy’s introduced him to another big player in the industry, who offered Billy the opportunity to run several branches of his company with the caveat that he’d have to move back to NY.
The catapult to the top fired again, and Billy made another giant move up that mountain to massive success. He and his friend branched out on their own. They worked for a few years as partners in their own company until the differences in the way they conducted business became irreconcilable. Billy had lost respect for that partner. The partnership ended and Billy opened up a mortgage company all his own.
For a moment it looked like Billy Alvaro was in fact invincible.
Profits soared to outrageous levels. Within six years his company employed 950 people in 42 states. It was an empire and he was the king – until his inexperience in running a company so large caught up with him, and his empire burned to the ground.
The story of how and why it all fell down is complex. The short version, says Billy, is that he grew way too fast. Sales and marketing outpaced operations, and the business could not sustain the imbalance. He made deals with investors that forced him to put it all on the line. When those investors changed the terms of the deal and threatened to pull the plug if Billy did not comply, Billy beat them to it and pulled the plug himself.
It was a catastrophic plummet from the top of that mountain. What made it worse for Billy was knowing that 950 families were also crashing with him.
Then it got worse. Lawsuits came at him. He was 14 million dollars in debt with hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney fees. All the people who’d been clamoring for his attention and friendship had disappeared save for a few true souls. There was no bailout for Billy. He was crushed under the weight of the very mountain he’d built.
The man who once ruled a mortgage company empire lost his own house to foreclosure. His car was repossessed. Private investigators followed him. His assets were frozen and every day brought new disaster.
He thought about escaping it all by ending his life. It was the only way out he could see. He fled back to Florida as a temporary escape. It was there that he had his own awakening moment and decided to fight back instead of giving up.
The first thing he did was pinpoint a way to alleviate the biggest stress he was under. Paying six different attorneys $48,000 a month was a pretty major stress – especially because he was not seeing any results. Firing them was the first move he made that made him feel back in control of his own destiny.
He studied up on law, represented himself, and began winning one case after another in court. While he was doing all that, he connected with more investors, spelled out his entire story, showed them what he still had to bring to the table, and within a few year, Billy Alvaro climbed right back up that mountain.
It was a hard climb and not without casualties.
But today Billy Alvaro is unstoppable.
He is a force to be reckoned with in his own life and he throws all his firepower at every single element of the new companies he’s built.
Max Returns Real Estate Investment, Flip Masters, and Easy Sell Property Solution are sweeping through the industry with a new success, and life lessons Billy has learned are bringing new joy into once-dark days.
Who knows where Billy would be today, if a coke dealer and a mortgage broker hadn’t walked into a bar.