Category Archives: Blog

Lesson of the Day: I Don’t Fix Toilets!

I was reminded today why I am focusing on wholesaling.  I hate fixing toilets and I am not good at it!

scary-toilet[1]

One of the toilets in my rental had a small leak where the tank is attached to the bowl.  I ran to Lowes and found the parts I needed for less than $5.  My head was thinking “Sweet!  this will be a nice cheap fix!”  I went back to the rental and tried to unscrew the nut, but the toilet is so close to wall that I couldn’t see the nut and the angle was very awkward.  Turns out that everything was so rusted together so I couldn’t get the nut to move.  I spent almost two hours hugging a disgusting toilet trying to remove it.  After my final rant of swear words (sounded like a Two Live Crew concert in that bathroom) I jumped on Angie’s List and called a plumber.  He is going to fix it tomorrow.

So far here are the costs…

  • Parts: less than $5
  • The Plumber:  Probably $100 (I’ll know tomorrow)
  • 10 minutes on the phone with the tenant and plumber: $.50 (cheap cell minutes, but annoying)
  • 3 hours of My Time (at Lowes, at the rental and driving around): invaluable

I got out my calculator to total the costs up, but couldn’t find the “invaluable” button.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the rental income and the equity I have in the house, but I need to be smarter with how I use my time.  I want more rentals down the road, but I will be using a management company to deal with this stuff.  I don’t like toilets or really anything that tenants touch so I need to quit touching that stuff and let other people do it.

I need to focus on quicker cash flow right now so that I can build up towards buying more rentals.  I could have used those 3+ hours marketing to buyers and sellers which could have brought in thousands, but instead I tried to save a few bucks.

From now on (until I hire a management company) I will immediately call the plumber.

I literally threw my time down the toilet today.

 

Advertisements

4 Steps I Used to Create a Monster Buyers List

One of the first lessons I ever learned about real estate investing was “The Money is in Your Buyers List”.  I took that to heart and have made that the top focus in my business.  For years I had an advantage since I am also a web developer, but technology is so easy now that anyone can do it.

Step 1 – Build a Website (or a Blog)

It’s nice to have your own website and you can find many ways to hire someone to build it for you, but if you want to get started with no money out of your pocket you can set up a nice simple blog.  Just set up an account on wordpress.com and start telling people what your real estate business is about.

Special Tip:  Try to give your blog a voice… don’t be a boring writer.  People like knowing there is an honest person behind the business.

Step 2 – Find your Email Marketing Tool

These tools allow you to maintain a buyers list and generate emails to send to these buyers that will help you avoid being listed as a spammer.  My favorite is MailChimp.  It is free until you have over 2,000 people on your buyers list and once you get past that the prices are still better than the competition.

Once you are signed up MailChimp will give you pre-made forms or links to your forms that you can attach to your website/blog so your buyers can sign up and start receiving important emails from you.

Step 3 – Start Advertising Your Site Online

You want people to know that you buy and sell houses so you need to get the word out.  Here are some quick and free ways to spread that word…

  1. Create a Twitter account for your business.  In your profile have a link to your website or blog.  Make sure you share valuable information with your followers for most of your tweets and then every so often mention your website to them.  You do not want to be a twitter account that only tells people to go to your site or else you will be ignored.
  2. Do the same with Facebook
  3. Post ads in craigslist and backpage under the “real estate services” section of your market.  Make the headlines funny and interesting so that people will click and read your ad.

Step 4 – Use Other Investor’s Deals

Hopefully you are contacting other investors that you are finding on Craigslist and other real estate investing sites.  Ask some of them if they have wholesale deals that you can try to sell to your buyers (even if you don’t have any yet).  the minute they give you a deal post it on your website/blog and email your buyers list (if you have any yet).  After that post a link of the deal to your twitter account and then post ads to craigslist and backpage under the “housing offered by owner” section in your market.

Using other people’s deals will start giving you credibility to buyers and sellers in your market and both will start contacting you.  When people start contacting you with interest in the property forward the responses to the wholesaler.  If he is nice (and smart) he will pay you for bringing the final buyer.  If he doesn’t want to pay you that’s fine because he is helping you build your business.  Give him the freebie and if he likes your work he will want to partner with you more in the future (if you have time since you will be doing your own deals).

 

Use these steps to get your business of the ground.  Trust me it doesn’t take long to build that buyers list if you do it right.  You might have some tire kickers who will never buy a house from you, but you never know when their mood and income situation will shift.  Plus as you get further in you will find that you can market other real estate products to them that they might want to buy.  Keep them interested in what you are doing and you can turn that list into money!

Come On In Sellers

Now that I am waiting on my mailers (yellow letters) to get sent out… should be any day now… I am using my time to find other ways to attract sellers.

Since I have a good sized buyers list I have been posting ads to wholesalers who have deals on discussion boards asking if they would like to co-wholesale.  I’ve never done a co-wholesale deal, but I’ve had a few responses and the deals I am pushing have helped me continue to grow my buyers list.  They might not be the best deals, but they are giving me something to advertise which is important.

I am also continuing to post “I Buy Houses” type of ads on craigslist and backpage, but I’m not getting anything from those yet.  I will continue to post in hopes that someone finds me through one, but it’s starting to feel like a dead end.

Hopefully the yellow letters are as successful as everyone says because I am hungry to find my own sellers.  For now though I will keep going with co-wholesaling and see how that works.

BOOOOM! I Finally Did it!

Just an update on my “Crazy” post from yesterday… I finally sent out the mailers!

So far for “Project Virtual Wholesaling” I have…

  1. Determined my area to focus on (neighborhoods near downtown Columbus)
  2. Built two websites, one for buyers and one for sellers
  3. Signed up for a comps service
  4. Signed up for an answering service (so sellers can talk to them instead of me)
  5. Purchased a list of absentee owners who have owned in my target area for more than 10 years
  6. Sent out my first batch of mailers
  7. Posted ads to craigslist and backpage every day

This initial set up hasn’t been cheap, but when you consider you are starting a business I guess it isn’t too bad.  You really have to keep that in mind and if you aren’t willing to dish out some money then you probably aren’t really ready to run a business.

My next steps are to keep marketing online, do a better job with twitter and other social networks and start analyzing deals / making offers.

Making offers is my next point of fear that I might have to overcome, but like anything else in life once you do it a couple of times it should be a lot easier.  I’m just excited to finally have the business rolling!  Once my first successful wholesale deal goes through I should be able to make back my initial investment (and hopefully a lot more).

 

Here’s How Crazy I am…

So I want to virtually wholesale houses, right?  Well so far over the past month I have:

  1. Set up my websites (buyers and sellers)
  2. Found my source for comps (not cheap)
  3. Bought a list of absentee owners who have owned for more than 10 years
  4. Signed up and paid for a phone answering service and a toll free phone number

There’s one thing missing from this list…

I NEED TO SEND MAIL TO THAT LIST!

  • What is the point in having the list if I don’t use it?
  • What is the point in having the websites and answering service if I don’t tell people to contact me
  • What is the point of having a comps service if I don’t have people  trying to sell me a house?

There has been something in my head for the past week and a half that has blocked me from sending out mailers.  I keep making excuses, but it’s just me being flat out CRAZY!  I mean I have time to complain about how cold it is and how much I don’t want to go to work, but finding 20 minutes to fill out a form on a website is too difficult for me?

COME ON SHAWN!

I know if I want out of the rat race and have control over my schedule I have to get the business going.

This is the last step before I feel like my business has officially launched so there must be something in my head that is afraid.  I don’t know if it is a fear of failure or a fear of succeeding, but I need to fight through it.

I wrote this post to hold myself accountable and make sure that I take this big step.

I better quit writing and just get to it!

Distractions Come in Bunches

Now that I am “focusing” on wholesaling it is amazing how many outside opportunities keep presenting themselves…

1) A great potential rental property popped up so I spent way too much time analyzing that deal last week.  I need to stay on track for now and come back around to rentals when I have more cash flow.  Eventually I did try to work out a wholesale deal with the property, but the seller moved on.

2) While doing some wholesale research I got some info about selling houses to REITs and spent way too much time reading about it even though it is a little too far outside of my realm right now.  Hopefully I will come back around to reading and understanding this more.

3) My 9 to 5 job, which i have been super bored with, took a turn last week and I have a new opportunity which could lead to more money but also might take up more of my time.  It could be a great gig, but I need to make sure I establish the wholesaling business before it kicks in.

4) One of the real estate gurus I follow pointed me towards internet marketing so I started reading which lead me to video after video and finally I just had to jump ship and get back on track.

I’m writing about these because it is crazy how much time you can waste and get off track from your initial goal.  I saw a tweet (I know … I know… reading Twitter is just another distraction) on Friday that said “Focus on one thing not 20” and it was the smack in the face I was looking for.

Where am I in my virtual wholesaling project…

Completed: Buyer Website set up – http://CbusProperties.com

Completed: Seller Website set up – http://CbusHouses.com

Completed: Downloaded a list of absentee owners in 4 zip codes who have owned for more than 10 years.

Completed: joined a website to provide comps

To Do #1: Find answering service so I can provide phone number on my mailers. Trying to decide between 2 companies.  One has a better reputation, but is $30 more per month.  The other, while it is cheaper, only answers the phone between 9am and 9pm.  If I really think wholesaling is the way to go I probably should go for the more expensive yet more reliable solution.

To Do #2: Send out mailers

To Do #3: Make sure I have a solid marketing plan in place and stick to it.  Mailers, classifieds, social media, bandit signs etc…. when, where and who

It feels like i am getting close.  i just need to avoid the distractions and quit over thinking the small things like the extra $30 per month for a better answering service.  I’m getting away from this blog (distraction) and signing up for that expensive phone service.

I’m out!

 

Keep Pushin!

Things have been a little slow to set up, but I think I am getting over the hump.

First thing I did was set up a website for sellers and a website for buyers.  Once I had those set up I was able to start doing a little bit of internet marketing on Craigslist and Backpage.  I’ve even had a few prospects call, but nothing serious.

One of my weaknesses from when I was investing before was talking on the phone.  I wasted a lot of time talking to random people who wanted to sell, but wanted way more than their house is worth.  I definitely want to find a virtual assistant who can handle the initial phone calls so I don’t have to waste my time.  I am in the process of trimming it down to a few candidates.

Once I have my phone situation lined up I am going to send out mailers to a list I got from ListSource.com of absentee owners who have owned for more than 10 years.

Right now I just have to keep pushing and eventually get that first deal (then second and third)