Turnkey Interview: 10 Questions With Caroline Ceniza-Levine

Turnkey InterviewFor all you wanting to invest in turnkey rental properties, I have created Turnkey Interviews.  In these interviews, I pose 10 great questions to actual investors who have and/or are currently buying turnkey rentals.

I post a lot about my own turnkey experiences and also want for you to get some valuable information from others as well who are doing the same thing.  I strongly feel that investing with turnkeys is a great way to reach financial freedom if done properly.   My plan to retire early will greatly be dependent on the passive income I make from rental properties.

If you have purchased a turnkey rental property and would like to be interviewed.  Please contact me and we can coordinate it.  Thanks so much.   I really think us turnkey buyers need to stick together and share as much as we can from each other in order to have the best chances to succeed.


Turnkey Interview #3 with Caroline Ceniza-Levine


When Caroline isn’t adding to her real estate portfolio, she is a career and business coach with SixFigureStart® where she has worked with executives from Amazon, American Express, Condé Nast, Gilt, Goldman Sachs, Google, McKinsey, and other leading firms. She writes a leadership column on Forbes and teaches salary negotiation and professional development at Columbia University. She’s also a stand-up comic so she’s not your typical expert.


1. What led you to start buying turnkey rentals?

– My husband and I have demanding full-time jobs, but love to invest in real estate. We started in 2005, and we purchased 6 buy and holds (we sold 2 but still have 4) where we did it all ourselves – identified the properties, oversaw the renovations, hired a property manager, etc. It was very time-consuming, and if we were going to buy more (which we wanted to) we would have to find a more efficient solution.

2. When did you start buying turnkey properties?

– We started looking into turnkey in 2014 and closed on our first one in 2015.

3. How man turnkey houses do you own?

– We bought 2 rentals turn-key. We had contracts on 3 others that didn’t pan out.

4. Are you planning on buying more turnkeys?

– We have another 1 close to closing, and have a reserve on yet another 1. So it would be 4 by year-end if everything goes through.

5. What kind of returns are you getting on your turnkeys?

– It’s early to tell b/c we have only owned each for a couple of months, so you really can’t see what the maintenance and vacancy will be. But the projected returns are in the 15% range.

6. What cities are your turnkeys in and do you plan on venturing out to different cities?

– We are in Indianapolis currently, and we’d like to diversify eventually. But our non-turnkey rentals are in NC and FL, so we already have some diversification overall.

7. Are you happy with the PM that was provided with the turnkey?

– Again, it’s early to tell as we have just closed. Based on our experience with our other rentals, PM is the hardest part of the equation to get right. No one will stay on top of your property as much as you will. That said, outsourcing the PM is what enabled us to start investing, so I’s money well spent!

8. Have you had any bad experiences with any of your turnkeys? Either with the purchasing process or after?

– Either with the purchasing process or after? We had 3 deals fall through, and we ultimately didn’t work with that provider. The provider is a national company that is in multiple cities and is supposed to have vetted turnkey companies in each. But we had problems in the purchasing stage with three separate deals so we moved onto another provider entirely, who introduced us to the 2 turnkeys in Indy that we’re currently using.

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9. Do you have any advice for others looking to venture into out of state turnkeys?

– You have to verify everything. Don’t just look at the numbers -go out to the location if you can. Ask to see the Scope of Work, so you can project for yourself what your future capital expenditures will be. Run your own numbers – every turnkey estimate I’ve seen comes with a 5% vacancy estimate. That’s way too low – every time a unit turns over, you have a PM fee (typically one month) plus you have transition costs plus you have vacancy. That could easily equate to 2-3 months’ rent. A 5% vacancy estimate suggests that your unit will only turn over every 40-60 months – that’s overly optimistic.

10. Overall, are you happy with the investment?

– We are happy because we felt like we got good deals when we bought, so even if the property under performs, with a big city like Indy, we’ll have choices for PM if we need to make a switch. Or we can sell it for a profit, as we got both for a good price.


This concludes the interview.  If you would like to contact Caroline Ceniza-Levine, you can do so here:


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    • Hey Steve,

      Caroline has done great with hers. For a turnkey property, actual 15% and up returns are amazing.

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