Engineers Who Invest: Making money without cutting corners with Andre Taylor, Electrical Engineer


Andre experienced firsthand the harm that a landlord can have on their tenants when making bad choices.  He had to scramble and help his mom when her housing situation was turned upside down as no fault of her own.  He has also learned the value of making wise choices in the long term by focusing on quality.  This mindset is something he internalized at a young age but has also learned as an electrical engineer at Boeing.

Learn more about his strategy and how he uses his engineering skills to invest in real estate through the full interview below.  If you want to connect with Andre, you can find him on Instagram (@theeverydaylandlord).


Tell me about your background in engineering and how you got started.

I got my bachelor’s in electrical engineering from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, and graduated in 2005.  In May of 2005, I was recruited by the Boeing company out of the St. Louis location, which is where I’m at right now.  When I got here to St. Louis, I started going to grad school at Washington University St. Louis at night. Then, I received my master’s in electrical engineering in 2008. I’ve been with Boeing since 2005 as a test intermission instrumentation engineer.

I test equipment we put on the airplanes and missiles. That’s where my focus is, making sure the system is running and up to par.

We also do the architectural design of it. We’ll get requirements from the propulsion guys or the aerodynamics guys. They will want us to test certain things out.  Our system caters to them in a sense.  What we do is similar to doing a test flight.  For example, for a space shuttle launch, everyone is in the control room.

It’s the same thing if we’re doing a test flight. We’re in the control room, and I have my screens looking at my system.  The propulsion guys are over there to check aerodynamics.  I talk with the pilot and monitor things in real-time as the planes fly.


Going to real estate, what piqued your interest in real estate investing?

It’s honestly been something I’ve been passionate about since I was young growing up in Chicago.  We never had the best of landlords growing up on the south side of Chicago.  I would always hear my mom talk about things she would do if she owned real estate. It’s always something she always pushed on me.

[Real Estate has] been something I’ve been passionate about since I was young growing up in Chicago.  We never had the best of landlords growing up on the south side of Chicago.  I would always hear my mom talk about things she would do if she owned real estate. It’s always something she always pushed on me.


And I saw the effects that a landlord had on people’s lives when I was in college and the landlord that my mom was renting from with Section Eight government assistance.

One day she called me while I was in school and said I have to move.  The feds took over the building because the landlord was caught up in some drug charges, and then the government wasn’t going to pay the rent.  And so my mom had to move. I remember how I got a credit card to help her move.

And I was a college student at the time. In the beginning, I would see that landlord around with nice cars and stuff like that. So I was impressed by that, but then I guess my view changed because I saw the effect they’re having on people’s lives.

And I wanted to do it right.

When I got out of school, I didn’t hit the ground running until it was five years later. I was kind of talking to this girl.  And it’s a funny story.  I told her I’m going to get into real estate. And she’s asked, “Have you done anything yet?”. I realized, she’s asking me questions that I don’t know the answers to. So then, I just went to Barnes and Noble.  And I picked up the book, my first book: Investing in Duplexes, Triplexes, and Quads: The Fastest and Safest Way to Real Estate Wealth by Larry Loftis.  So from Friday to the following Friday, I read the book on real estate.

From 2005 to 2007, I did a lot of learning.  There were all these flipping houses shows.  I was just absorbing the information as much as I could.  And it was leading up to when I bought my first property in July 2007.  I was reading and going to seminars to learn as much as I could.  There wasn’t much on social media then, so I went to Barnes and Noble.


What was your first investment?

My first investment was a duplex, which I still own today.  It was in foreclosure. I remember I was traveling for work.  I was living in Washington, DC for about eight months on a work assignment.

I bought the property in July 2007. But before that, I’d done enough research and was going to look at properties. I had been running numbers that I was comfortable with buying it. And I had a real good real estate agent who I called her and her husband, my rich mom, and rich dad. They own over a hundred doors here in St. Louis.  And they have been great in terms of mentoring me in a sense.  That property, I found it on because, at the time in 2007, you could just go to, and there were a whole bunch of properties up for sale.

I found that property. I saw it, and I just ran the numbers. It was selling for $89,000. It was in foreclosure because they originally bought it at $125,000.  It was in foreclosure for 89,000; my real estate agent went to look at it for me and take pictures.  She was like, Dre, this is the one like literally, she said, the building was huge.

It was a duplex with three bedrooms, one bath, really huge.  She knew what I wanted because, in St. Louis, many places have the shotgun style. I’m not used to that from Chicago, where there was no hallway, and you go from one room to the next. A lot of these buildings had that layout, but this didn’t.  It had a hallway and all this other stuff.

I ran the numbers and going off of just a couple of pictures, not even a lot of pictures.  I ran the numbers, and they looked good, and I put it in the offer for the property.

I ended up getting the property for $75,000.  It was crazy because the day before we closed on a property, I think the previous owners came in and took the copper water lines. I didn’t see the building until we had it on a contract.

I flew into town and did an inspection. Then I saw what I had on my hands, and I was like, holy shoot, I got my work cut out for me.  I still have the property in my portfolio. I just did a cash-out refi in December, and it appraised for $255,000.


What did you learn from that first investment?

I learned a lot from that because it needed a lot of updates when I came in there.  They took the copper water lines. One of the kitchens didn’t even have cabinets.

One of my good friends who went to school with me and worked for Boeing as well helped. And I had an uncle that was living here in St. Louis.  The three of us worked on it together to improve it.

I had to learn the processes of things.  Like does it make sense to spend money this way or a different way.  I didn’t know at first.  I didn’t know how to make it tenant-proof.  I didn’t make the right updates at first because I was still fresh and new.

I also had to learn how to do proper accounting.  I had to a lot of the admin work. I remember I would just collect receipts and put them in a shoebox.  But then I had to do real accounting.

I had to learn how to search for contractors.  At first, I just didn’t know any of the formal processes that I have now.  That first building taught me how to be more organized, how to look at a unit, and know what to update.


How has your engineering background helped you?

Engineering helped me by being analytical about things.  I think things through that my contractor tells me.  I think to make sure it makes sense.  I get analytical and try to picture it out. Also coming from working for Boeing, where we are focused heavily on quality, I want to go for the quality solution.

My contractor loves me because I’m like, let’s just do it right. I’d rather do it right than do a short-term solution.  If I didn’t have that engineering background and the Boeing background, I don’t think I’d be as focused on quality.  But I’ve learned to focus on that at work, and it helps with real estate.  I want to do it right the first time.


How many properties are you invested in so far?

I’ll be up to my seventh property pretty soon. I’m trying to track down the seller and get it on contract.  I have two fourplexes and four duplexes. One of the duplexes I’m doing the gut rehab and is being converted to a single-family.

The new property that I’m trying to get is a triplex. It was a four-unit, but they converted it. They put two units together, so it made it a triplex.  That’s what I’m trying to get, and that’s directly across the street from my very first property.


What is your long-term goal for your business?

It’s always been about the doors.  Once I seal this deal with this triplex, I’m going to probably put a hold on buy-and-hold.  And start getting a couple of flips under my belt.  I see myself breaking away from Boeing and being full-time with this in the next two or three years.  I do have a goal to be done with my corporate life.

The short-term goal is to get to 30 doors. It’s my freedom number to walk away. And also, I will do at least two flips a year.  I do see myself continuing to scale up.  I want to do some flips to build up more of the stockpile to buy more buy-and-holds. Because I’m getting tired of it coming to the table with $40,000 down.

I’ve been doing traditional conventional loans with a down payment.  Now, I am about to move more into commercial as I establish a good relationship with a local bank.  The loan product that they gave me for my rehab is phenomenal because they gave me money to purchase and finance the rehab, which was great.  So I’m building that relationship, and pretty much the way they tell me is just, “Hey, we could create any long products we need for you.”

I’m like: “So where are you guys been all my life.” With that, I will probably be wrapping all my properties in a portfolio loan.


What advice would you give an engineer that’s just getting started?

Do not overshadow your critical thinking skills that we’ve been taught in school. That’s going to help out so much.

When it comes to seeing the work, looking through bids, looking through blueprints, those skills come into play—that analyzing.  Because what you have with contractors is sometimes they’ll be rushing and make something look good.

The engineering background, where we take that step back and look at it from different perspectives, is critical. It’s the analysis, the critical thinking that we do.  Do not lose that.  It will help you out coming into real estate.

The engineering background, where we take that step back and look at it from different perspectives, is critical. It’s the analysis, the critical thinking that we do.  Do not lose that.  It will help you out coming into real estate.


For example, when it comes to analyzing deals, I think we have an advantage cause we love numbers and can make sure this makes sense.  Like me being in aerospace, you have to be able to be quick on your feet.  It takes me like five minutes to know whether or not I’m interested in a deal.

So that is a competitive advantage that we have as engineers–being critical thinkers, decisive.  I think that helps out.


Thank you for taking the time to read this

If you enjoyed reading this article, I’d love for you to subscribe to our monthly newsletter or share it with a friend!