Ask the Experts – Business Building Tips
I have an awesome roundup post today from some of the most respected people in the real estate investing arena today. They were kind enough to participate in my newest roundup post and share their top business building tips. I love roundup posts because you are able to see immediately that there is on “one way” to do this business. Everyone does things a little bit differently.
Whether you are a seasoned investor or just starting out, I'm sure you will find these answers enlightening. Business building tips are always good, right?
Be sure to stop by our guest contributor's websites. This is a great collection of active investors, bloggers and podcasters. Some of them have great products to help you grow your business too. If you have any questions for them, you can leave those here or contact them individually.
And if you liked this post, please be sure to share it!
Here's What I Asked Our Experts
- What advice would you give someone that is a new investor trying to replace a 6 figure income he 1st 12 months they are in business? I am assuming that they have a nest egg saved of $12.000 to use in their business that first year.
- What investing strategies would you recommend?
- What marketing strategies and tips do you have for someone brand new?
- What other tips do you have?
If they are brand new I would say to start with activities that don't cost much money such as making offers on the MLS, door knocking (if they can hack it) driving for dollars and networking. Their number one goal should be to make their first offer within 2 weeks. Get an intense education in the first week then the 2nd week fail fast make an offer and then make 5 offers each week for the next 2 weeks.
If they can do this within just one month they will have learned more than most would be investors learn in a year because they don't usually take real action. This will allow everything they learn from that point on to be amplified because they are now in the “doer” club, which accelerates your learning and helps others to take you more seriously etc.
From that point they can continue with one or all of those methods and or begin to dabble in other methods such as direct mail, bandit signs (Be sure to hire someone to put them out for you) online marketing, etc. and if they are interested in doing rehabs then they can consider buying from other wholesalers. At this point hopefully they will have a better idea of what they are doing so they aren't as likely to get taken advantage of 🙂
The goal is doing/testing all of these items or at least several of them is to figure out what really works well for them, their market etc. If they can find 1-2 things that work really well, they can then put all of their effort and attention into that one focus. Once you “nail it” IE have a model that works for you, you can rinse wash and repeat , come up with KPI's (key performance indicators) and then blow up your business as large as you want, create a great income and overtime hire an assistant, build our your team, systematize and take over the world! 😉
You can reach out to Justin at HouseFlippingHQ.com
I would buy and flip raw land at a 300% ROI for the first 12 months until it replaced or exceeded my six figure income which is exactly what I did at my miserable investment banking job.
I would then continue flipping for active income and adding in passive income with notes on my properties so I am getting a passive income stream on raw land without renters, rehabs, renovations or rodents.
This investing strategy is targeting people that own inexpensive land (assessed values of $30k or less), live out of state and owe back taxes. This is the low hanging fruit and you can buy the properties for 10-30 cents on the dollar and flip on average at 300% ROI. So starting with $12k it then goes to $48k which then goes to $192k. At that point, you have a decision to make to continue investing in land part time and quit your job or keep your job, and start investing for passive income.
I would use inexpensive marketing strategies such as Craigslist, Backpage, eBay, landandfarm.com and of course social media.
Learn more at www.thelandgeek.com to dive deeper into this little known land investing niche. To Engineering Your Success.
You can find Mark over at his site The Land Geek
I would say due to the low nest egg, wholesaling is really their only choice with that small of a nest egg. I hate to say it “depends” but a lot of it really does. If you're in Southern California versus a more rural market my advice would be entirely different. So I guess the first order of business is to truly learn and understand your market. How are people currently doing deals, what marketing is most successful? You will need the most bang for the buck to get success.Learn your market, who is buying, what they are buying and what they are doing with it once bought.
- Network like crazy, local REIA's, agents, other investors and wholesalers. You need to cast a huge net to grow your network and be involved locally.
- Focus on lead generation, once you know your market you can select the medium that will generate you those leads. I would budget the $12,000 for six months’ worth of marketing. In that time you should have a deal; you will reinvest that income into more marketing.
- Through your network you can attempt to co-wholesale deals. If you have learned your market properly and grown your network you can provide value by knowing the right buyers for other people’s deals. If you can develop a track record for moving deals you can create “free deals” as there is no marketing cost to these deals. You'll do these typically for a smaller wholesale fee but the cost of acquisition is low.
The following should work to provide a new wholesaler with deals. I understand some guidance is vague but this is not a one size fits all business. You must be an expert in your market, this is the top priority so that you have the ability to add value to others and get paid for it.
You can reach Tim at Gordon Buys Homes
If I were coaching a new investor in how to replace a 6 figure salary, I would start by making sure they didn't quit that job right away.
This business is not for everybody (contrary to what most online would have you believe). Besides getting a feel for what is involved and reducing your risk when getting started, working this business part-time has a lot of benefits, mainly:
- It forces you to focus on the 20% of tasks that produce 80% of your results
- It greatly reduces the stress because you aren't in a sink or swim situation that could cause you to make some serious mistakes
- It allows you to more comfortably invest money in marketing because you aren't worried about your dwindling reserves
It's really not extremely difficult to replace a 6 figure salary when flipping houses…if you learn how to rehab…you know, fix and flip. Most want to do this anyway as there is a lot of joy in taking the ugliest house on the street and making it one of the nicest.
Rehabbing is where the big profits are.
Depending on the area and price ranges of houses, the typical profit from a fix and flip can be between $20,000 up to and exceeding $100,000. Of course $20,000 – $30,000 is more typical.
With that in mind, it will only likely take roughly 5 flips to replace the salary. Crazy isn't it?!
Of course there are operating cost and investments of more money for marketing along the way so that number can vary some. So how do you find 5 great house deals for flips? That's really the biggest question of all.
With the initial investment amount of $12,000, I would use just about all of it entirely for marketing to motivated sellers. These are people that need or simply just want to sell their house quickly, without hassle. In order to sell this way, they are perfectly willing to sell at a deep discount and give up equity in exchange.
We don't have time to talk much about mindset, but that is a VERY BIG part of being a successful investor. You must have faith that there are a lot of homeowners out there that are looking for someone like you to sell their houses too immediately. You just have to make sure to do all you can to get your message in front of them at the right time.
What Marketing to Invest In
I would immediately order 300 bandit signs; 18×24 horizontal flute (to nail on telephone poles high up) with a simple message of ‘We Buy Houses CASH' and your phone number. Warning: be careful as most municipalities consider these signs illegal. You could get fined. Check with your area and confirm yourself. Some areas call you to get permits for them. Some investors ignore this as consider it a risk they are willing to take and if they get fined, see it as a cost of doing business.
Cost: about $500
Real Estate Investor Website
Next I would invest in a professional real estate investor website like those offered by LeadPropeller. Full disclosure: I am the founder of LeadPropeller). You can generate a lot of motivated seller leads with a website just through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) but that could take some time.
I would say get one right away because of the credibility they provide. Motivated sellers can check out your website and find out more about you and your business. They also allow the people that don't want to call somebody to be able to contact you with all the information you need to make a decision on whether their house would be a good investment.
You can start generating leads with a website immediately by using pay-per-click advertising on Google. I would budget $2,000 for this.
Cost: website $49 per month – adwords budget $2,000
Many investors that do a lot of volume use direct mail to keep their business going and growing. It's simply awesome what you can achieve by reaching so many people.
I would order a list of 5,000 addresses from ListSource.com. The criteria for this list would be high equity (at least 60%) and a property value in the sweet spot of what most houses retail for in your area. In San Antonio where I am, this is roughly $100,000 to $150,000. This is where the biggest number of buyers is (slightly below median home price). You want this range because you want to have the biggest pool of qualified buyers for the houses you fix up and sell. Smart.
I would start with postcards and then mix with letters and more postcards. The message needs to speak about what's in it for them. Do not just ramble on about how awesome you are and how you can buy lots of houses. Talk to them about what they care about. Closing as fast as they need or want. The fact that you pay all closing costs.
You have to have a call to action. Tell them what you want them to do. Call you….and/or visit your website. Include your phone number and website on your marketing as not all people want to call a complete stranger.Mailing frequency should be about every 30 to 45 days and the message should change slightly but be consistent.
Cost: list about $1,000 mailing same list 4 times about $8,000
This plan should generate you several deals. You might even find a deal or two that you could wholesale to generate more money to invest in more marketing (more mailings of course and adwords for your website).
Total cost for initial marketing to get the ball rolling: about $12,000
The key with marketing and getting everything going is building momentum. It will be slow at first. Leads will trickle in. The people that make it in this business stick with it and know that the marketing accumulates. You will start to get calls from someone that received a postcard from you 2 years ago. You just have to keep marketing.
That's how I would coach someone to replace a 6 figure salary within their first year in a nutshell.
Learn “The Art of Owner Financing.” Simultaneously learn how to find great deals and get them under contract so you can wholesale them; put at least 1/2 a year income in the bank. Once you've proven you can find ample deals and profit, and once you've figured out how you're going to fund your own deals, quit your job.
Reach out t Mitch at Owner Finance Pro for some great resources.
First I would want to know their level of education. If they don’t know ANYTHING about real estate then they are going to need to get a quick education. They don’t need to spend 6 months getting educated, but getting to know their local market (i.e. what are the numbers there?
Is there someone successfully doing the strategy that you are thinking about?). I would highly recommend that this person find a local person who is doing the type of investing that they want to do. Local specialized knowledge will be important to them when they have specific questions that arise from the action they will be taking. After getting a baseline of knowledge I would tell them to jump in and start taking massive action. Making offers, lots of offers, this is the way to get offers accepted, then once an offer gets accepted take a hard look at the property/project. THERE IS NO REPLACING THE EDUCATION THAT COMES FROM DOING YOUR FIRST DEAL. Sorry for the yelling. 🙂
Assuming that they have a nest egg saved of $12,000 to use in their business that first year:
My advice above still stands. Get educated a little, but don’t spend the 12k on education. If the type of investing that you want to do involves getting deals from private sellers (most parts of the country don’t have a lot of MLS inventory currently) then you can start to spend that money responsibly on getting motivated seller leads. Bandit signs are a cheap way to get calls. Postcards to niche lists (inheritance, probate, 60-120 day lates, Notice of default, tax lates, code violation, etc.) are the best lists to target first, if you still have extra cash then widen your list to absentee owners with equity. Note: When establishing you mailing budget I would make sure you plan on mailing each person on your list at least 6 times at an interval of every 30-60 days.
I mention some good ones above, but I would consider the cost/effectiveness of the strategies because all are not created equal. When starting out and looking for deals:
- Get educated enough so that you know what a deal looks like. It’s hard to find a deal if you don’t know what a deal is.
- Network like crazy. It only costs you your time and for a new investor it can get you your first deal.
- Cheap marketing first. Bandit signs. Mailing niche lists. Mailing postcards to absentee owners.
- Take massive action. Don’t assume that it will be easy, it won’t, but if you take more action than you think is necessary then you will probably be close to the actions you will need to be successful
Reach out to Andy at I Love Real Estate Stories
Start with a one year plan.
What do you want to accomplish? Write down your goals. Don’t be negative nor use negative words when stating your goals. It’s absolutely possible to buy one house per month. So make buying 12 houses over the next 12 months a goal. Do it… Set it as a goal.
Starting with a positive mindset is paramount. Then follow through. Change your mind frame and change the words you use to describe yourself to you. Think positively by using positive words. Remember how you think about your success matters and a seller will notice determination and they will notice failure. It is up to you which one they notice.
Pick a business name that describes what you do. Your business name tells people what you do and it lets people know who you are. A seller shouldn’t have to figure it out on their own. Your business name sets the tone for all professional relationships. There’s nothing vague about a name like, “I Buy Houses.” It opens up an immediate dialogue about what you do. And it WORKS.
As soon as you make the choice to become a real estate investor, establish a business phone number. You can use many methods to track your calls. You can go through an answering system like Ring Central, Google or simply get a cell phone or business number devoted solely to your new business. I use RingCentral.com and have several telephone numbers so that I can have a different telephone number on each type of marketing that I do. Having multiple numbers allows me the ability to track results and determine which marketing is performing the best. It is inexpensive and more importantly responsible to your business.
The most important aspect of your business phone number is monitoring your calls. If a serious buyer leaves a voicemail, return the call with urgency. Remember, the longer you wait to return that call, the more opportunities the seller has to find someone else to buy their property. Don’t waste opportunity by being lazy. Call the seller back!
You will need a mailing address to build your company profile. You will use it on all kinds of marketing pieces from business cards to mail. Do not use your home address. Even brokers and current real estate agents need a separate office address. Check out post offices and shipping businesses such as the UPS store.
So, you have set your goals, you have a business name, address and phone number. Now it’s time to get your business cards printed. You should do some research on marketing and color theory to find the right look for your cards. Red and yellow are great high contrast colors. Start with 1,000 cards. You will be surprised how well they work when you hand them out. SO hand them out. Reordering business cards is cool… Be cool! Give 10 a day away to strangers and by the end of your card stack, you will have bought a house.
While you are at it, buy a few polo shirts and get your logo embroidered. You don’t have to say a word, people will come to you. These polo shirts will help you walk the walk and talk the talk. When a prospect approaches you hand them a business card after that first handshake. Making a professional impression goes a long way. You might even make a deal right there. Be prepared.
As a real estate investor you need to have a contract on hand at all times. Always be prepared for an opportunity. In the beginning, you probably won’t know the specifics of what your contract should include. Look online for various contract templates outlining how to buy a house. Do not rely on a handshake agreement. This is serious legal business. Get a contract before any deals are made.
Once you have done your research and have a contract and a professional look for yourself, think about who you know. Write down everyone you know including family, friends, neighbors- even the cashier at your favorite market. Ask who they know. Utilize these relationships to grow your business. Hand out a stack of cards to each contact with their own name on the back. Tell your contacts about your exciting new career as a real estate investor and offer to share a cash bonus for any referrals they send your way.
Once the referrals start coming in, make sure you know what you want to say before you start your pitch. Write an elevator speech and practice, practice, practice. Get in the right mindset. You are no longer a teacher or an office manager- you are a real estate investor! State your name, business name and what conveniences you offer to the seller such as paying cash for their property, taking care of closing costs, home repairs and any commission, fees or taxes incurred.
After you have formed the perfect elevator speech, it’s time to start buying houses. Make some cold calls or cold greets. These cold opportunities are simple and concise. Get to the point and sell the benefit of your services. Get comfortable with talking to people. Think purses shoes and sports and massive success will come.
So what do purses, shoes and sports have in common? And what the heck do they have to do with buying houses?
Imagine being in line at the grocery store waiting for the grocery clerk to scan the customers groceries in front of you. Do you just stand there and wait your turn or, better yet, do you start up a conversation with those people either behind you or in front of you and talk real estate?
But yuck… talking to strangers… Who has time for that? You do, you’re in line waiting… Start a conversation.
I know that there are two topics / items women love talking about more than most any other topics… And I know one topic most men love talking about more than most anything else…
Care to guess? Women love Purses and Shoes and men love Sports.
The next time you’re in line waiting for a sub sandwich, at the bank, or anywhere and you have enough time to say to a female who is in line with you “Cool Purse” or “Nice Shoes” do it. After all there isn’t a female alive that would wear a pair of ugly shoes or carry an ugly handbag. Now it might be ugly but it isn’t to her.
Use purses and shoes as intros into your real estate conversation. Then proceed to repeat your elevator speech. Ask them about what they do, ask for a business card if they’re a professional and most importantly ask them who they know who may need to buy or sell a house. If it is a guy bring up a sporting event. Which is why I listen to sports radio every morning for 15 to 30 minutes. Listening gives me the “HOT” topics of the day which give me the ammunition I need to strike up a conversation.
Become the walking talking real estate professional and be prepared to buy houses. Being prepared takes a little work however this one exercise will produce outstanding results if you just implement it on purpose. Don’t be afraid to fail or look foolish.
Did you spy a “For Sale by Owner” sign in a front yard? Go knock on that door. You already know they are in the market to sell a home. Check out Open Houses, too. This is another great opportunity to make connections with people who are selling their property.
Let’s talk marketing for a minute.
One of the fastest methods for stepping up your marketing and increasing your bottom line is to focus on your prospects qualifications. In Short do they qualify to be marketed to?
The push to faster success will come when someone focuses their list for the highest likelihood of success. And in my humble opinion that means that they should only buy lists which qualify for a primary group and a sub group.
The primary group would be, in general, homeowners who have a high equity base in their property. There are additional filters like length of ownership, type or property, value of property, number of bedrooms and the like which make up a perfect equity list.
However tying a sub group to a primary group will reap huge rewards.
As an example currently there are 151 SFR in Los Angeles County which entered NOD status within the last 90 days. 18 of them are Absentee. In the entire state of California there are 533 and 80 of them are absentee. All of these homes have an equity base of 50% or greater and are valued between 1.00 and 300,000. Making them prime prospects. This list is GOLD!
The other group which would be powerful is the expired list as it compares to the equity list. Which means that when you receive the expired hot sheet your first step is to determine who on the list is also on your equity list and market to that person hard… VERY HARD, LIKE go KNOCK on their home residence door.
Another group is the active “OLD” listings. Grab a hot sheet of properties that are active listings at 85 DOM (Days on Market), 115 DOM, and 175 DOM and compare them to the equity list. Again if they are on both lists market to them. On this group be careful to word your letters correctly.
Also join a FSBO site and have them send to you daily-weekly list of active FSBO’s and market to the equity folks. The issue with this list is that Realtors and Agents are hitting it very hard via cold calling so your campaign will have the least traction of all groups.
A better group is active For Rent prospects. You can find them on some for rent sites, newspaper, driving, and sites like CL. This is a great list for motivated prospects.
A better absentee prospect can be found by using an attorney legal service to extract for you lists from the courthouse for Unlawful Detainers. These are absentee homeowners who are evicting their tenant. Remember to only market to the addresses that have equity. Unless you are a Short Sale investor; then market to over encumbered prospects as well.
That same attorney legal service can also pull probates and once confirmation of real property is present and that they have an equity position hit them hard. Be very understanding of the function of Probate and what to look for.
But what do you send to these prospects? Direct mail of course! But how and what?
IMHO when marketing it is vital that you deliver your message in a fashion which attracts as much opportunity as it can. In other words you want the largest volume of customers per dollar spent.
Solution. Create a Marketing Cluster
Marketing Cluster – which almost sounds counter intuitive. However business clustering has been around for years and research supports the idea that like businesses that cluster will outperform those which don’t. Think about all of the different types of Business Clusters.
On opposite corners of an intersection are different gas stations, Heck I have even seen the same brand on opposite corners. Then it is hard to find just one fast food Company on a street or corner. If there is a McDonalds then typically you will find a few others as well. It seems that Home Depot and Lowes build almost next door to each other. Auto Dealers have been clustering for years. In fact Cerritos Auto Square in California, the world’s largest, has 29 different brands of automobiles.
Crazy but not. And what about Shopping Malls? How can a Hundred Clothing Stores make more money being in the same building then separate buildings?
The answer is simple… Consumers want choice.
So one must ask why Coca-Cola needs to sell six different brands of water. Last time I checked water is water no one can make it. Couldn’t Coca-Cola just have a single brand and save millions on marketing and tooling of production facilities? Or did Coca-Cola figure out that multiple brands of the same product are better than one independent brand?
Much like Business Clusters. Hum.
So the question is which matters more, the mail pieces or mail consistency?
Since we are all consumers let me answer that question with a question. Which is better, Choice or No Choice? And in the world of marketing when utilizing direct mail choice wins. But don’t take my opinion for it ask yourself this question.
If you were motivated to sell your home and you received six pieces of mail offering to buy your home and let’s say that the mail pieces were six different types. You received a yellow letter, Text Postcard, Pictorial Postcard, Professional Letter, ZipLetter, and Greeting Card.
Which sender would you decide was the best one to call upon? Maybe the most professional looking mail piece or the one that was handwritten, even the nice greeting card with a personal message was attractive to you. Gosh but the postcard was direct and to the point and that Zipletter offered a check that was really cool.
All you have to do is decide. Who would you call? And this isn’t a trick question and there are no wrong answers. You can call just one or you can call them all. It doesn’t matter to me…
But why doesn’t it matter?
Because like Coca-Cola who owns 112 beverages I use all six to my advantage. I let the consumer choose who they think has presented to them the best message in the most appropriate delivery vehicle.
So here they sit on the day they decide to call and talk to a stranger about selling their home.
They have 6 different types of mail from me all with different telephone numbers and a couple more pieces from two other people. This means that I have a 6:8 chance of getting that call when in reality my chance should have only been 1:3. I have increased my odds tremendously. Cluster marketing works.
Lastly, don’t be too proud to ask for help. When you begin your career as a real estate investor, search for a coach. These veterans of the industry can help guide you through drawing up a contract, how to find more business contacts and most importantly, offer support and encouragement with the tales of their experience.
Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. Every day you second guess your decision to become a real estate investor you are missing out on an opportunity.
Go buy some houses by reminding sellers that you buy and solve problems. Now go buy some problems.
You can find Michael at MichaelQuarles.com .
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