In this episode, I’m talking with a good investor buddy of mine, Henry Owens.
Henry is succeeding as an investor because he sees that every day is an opportunity for a learning experience. He knows that REI is always changing so he knows he has to keep learning and readjusting his business and approach.
Sounds like a smart guy, huh? Well, he is, and he’s got loads of good advice for us. Henry explains why he chose to begin his REI career in wholesaling – after a few false starts that is.
Now, he’s killin’ it. He tells us how he’s making deals, why he’s a direct mail fan and the postcards he uses. He also lets us in on how he used tax delinquent lists for leads and why he targets the props that owe the most taxes.
And if you’re new to investing or thinking about jumping in the game, Henry offers up some really great words of encouragement about not overcomplicating things and sticking with the basics.
Let’s get to it…
Listen and enjoy:
- 4:46 – Why Henry chose to start REI as a wholesaler
- 5:35 – Why it’s true that you really can start investing with no money and poor credit
- 7:17 – What the phrase ‘No money needed to start investing’ really means to new investors
- 9:02 – How to get tax delinquent lists
- 14:20 – The lists that Henry targets and why he targets them
- 17:03 – How to approach another wholesaler about co-wholesaling
- 21:55 – How Henry personally handles his marketing and calls
- 27:04 – What makes Henry decide to go see a house when dealing with a seller that’s got equity
- 31:17 – What Henry’s philosophy is when meeting with a seller
- 35:47 – Henry’s advice to investors who are just getting in the game
Mentioned in this episode:
Joe: Welcome. This is the Real Estate Investing Mastery Podcast.
Welcome everybody. This is the Real Estate Investing Mastery podcast. Glad you’re here. My name is Joe McCall and I’ve got a special guest with me today.
First things first, housekeeping. Go to realestateinvestingmastery.com and if you haven’t yet, download our Fast Cash survival kit. Appreciate that. Also, leave us a review. If you go back a few podcasts ago, we did a little video and we’re giving away some books for free if you leave us a review on iTunes. I got a book here, ‘Brilliant at the Basics’. Another that I wrote called ‘Flipping Houses While on Vacation’. We’ll send you the PDF of those books and along with the PDF of those books we’ll send you the videos where those books came from. I think you’ll get a lot out of it. I’ve got some other cool things I’m going to throw in there for you, too.
I want to jump right in here. We have a guest, Henry Owens, who actually is from my neck of the woods here in St. Louis. How long ago did you move here Henry?
Henry: I moved here in February of 2014, so about 7 or 8 months.
Joe: Crazy. My assistant, Sheila, was talking to you the other day. I forget why or what that was about, maybe we can talk about that in the podcast, I don’t remember. She just happened to mention to me in passing that you’ve flipped about 20 deals since moving here to St. Louis. You went to one of the workshops that I held back, I think, about the same time, wasn’t that right?
Henry: Yeah. I think it was the first weekend I was in town I went to your workshop.
Joe: That’s so awesome. You’ve wholesaled about 20 deals since then, is that right?
Henry: Yeah. I’m at 20 right now, and I have one closing tomorrow, so it’ll be at 21 after tomorrow.
Joe: Excellent. Good for you man. That’s so awesome. I called Henry up. I said, “Hey I’d love to interview you for the podcast and just kind of share your story with folks and maybe get some people encouraged.” This is a great business. It’s a great time to be in the market. You’ve been wholesaling deals. I’m sure you’ve got some winners. You’ve got some losers. You’ve made some mistakes. You’ve learned some things along the way. Does that sound about right?
Henry: Yeah. Every day’s a learning experience. It’s been good.
Joe: Are any 2 deals the same, Henry?
Henry: No. They’ve all pretty much been different, similarities, but pretty much all different.
Joe: Yeah. That’s what’s crazy about this business is that it’s always different, it’s always changing, and it’s important to stay on the edge. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but I mean to always be looking at, “Okay, what’s different now? How is the market changing? How do I need to refocus and change my marketing”, or whatever if that’s the case.
Henry, I wanted you a few questions about you, how you got started in real estate, why you got interested in real estate, and why you moved to St. Louis, all that good stuff. Why did you get started in real estate? What were you doing before?
Henry: For the past 15 years, I worked in a moving company. I was actually physically out on a moving truck every day, humping furniture up and down stairs. I think I went to my first real estate seminar, it was probably 2000, 2002. It was a Ron LeGrand seminar. I always had the interest in real estate. I always bought courses, I always did a little studying on the side, but I was never really able to get it going. It’s been an interest for a while, but I was never able to get it going consistently.
Joe: Okay. Why did you move to St. Louis?
Henry: Well, I lived here in 2007 for 6 months with a buddy of mine who does a lot of rehabs and new construction. I tried to do a couple of deals when I was in Boston, but the prices were just so high and it was really hard to find distressed sellers, cheap houses, good stuff to wholesale. I kind of tried to do a little bit of the virtual wholesaling, but that didn’t really work out too well. Then I read about St. Louis was a good market, high inventory, cheap prices, good deals, and I said, “Hey, let me just give it a shot,” and I packed up a U-Haul and drove to St. Louis.
Joe: Awesome. Then, why wholesaling, Henry? Why not rehabbing or buying a bunch of rental properties?
Henry: Wholesale is always the easiest to get started with, no money, no credit, which is pretty much how I got started, just finding a deal and writing a contract. It was pretty simple to get going. The ultimate goal will be to move on to some rehabbing, and then some buying homes. Wholesale is always the easiest way for a new guy to get started in this business.
Joe: A lot of gurus advertise that, Henry, “No money, no credit. You can make money. Anybody can do this business. You don’t have to have a college education. You don’t have to be experienced. You don’t even have to have any money or credit. You don’t have to get a loan. Anybody can wholesale houses.” Do you agree with that statement? Is it really true that you can flip properties with no money, or is that just hype?
Henry: It’s definitely true. Yes. My credit was terrible when I came here. I had some money to do some post cards, but I didn’t have a lot of money, that’s for sure. I was signing contracts on property that there’s no way I could personally purchase, because I didn’t have the money to do it. Yeah, you can definitely get started with just a little hustle, maybe a couple of bucks and some post cards and no credit.
Joe: Talk about that Henry, would you? How did you get started? You’re doing really well right now. I know that you want to do a lot more, and you’re not happy with where you’re at, but you’re probably wholesaling more deals than 95% of people out there who want to be wholesaling deals. How did you get started without much money and horrible credit?
Henry: I just started with postcards. I’ve always been a big fan of direct mail. Like I said, I did a couple of deals when I was in Boston. I think I did maybe 6 or 7 in a year’s time. I did a little bit, and always through direct mail. I’ve always been a big fan of direct mail. It’s the easiest, simplest, most scalable type of thing to do. That’s always what I focus on. I want to say 16 or 17 out of the 20 deals that I’ve done have all been thorough direct mail. I always just do postcards.
Joe: When you say you didn’t have money, you did have some money to pay for direct mail, right?
Henry: I did, yeah. I had a couple of thousand dollars to invest in my marketing, absolutely.
Joe: Okay, you did have a couple of thousands of dollars to invest in marketing. You had to buy a list and mail the postcards.
Joe: You didn’t have to use any money to actually buy these houses and then sell them, right?
Henry: No, absolutely not. Only one deal I closed on, partnered on that one with a buddy of mine who put up the money.
Joe: I think it’s important to note that when you do hear the words “No money needed,” or whatever, that’s kind of partially true. You don’t need any money to actually buy the house because there’s different ways you can buy property without money, but you do need some money for marketing. Marketing is really important, and if you’re not doing any marketing, you’re going to have a hard time getting any leads. If you don’t have any leads you’re going to have a hard time doing a deal.
There are some marketing strategies that you can use. Actually, quite a few different marketing strategies you can use with a limited budget, but you’re always going to have to spend some money on marketing. I totally agree with you. I’m a big fan of postcards, too. I think postcards have always worked and they always will work. Okay, so you’re a big fan of postcards. Most of your deals you’ve found through postcards. Talk a little bit about what kind of postcards you’re sending, or who are you sending it to?
Henry: They’re pretty simple. There’s a couple of different postcards I use, but they’re all pretty much just a simple 4×6 text postcard. Some might be glossy, some might not be glossy. Some might have a little more flash to them, but for the most part they’re just simple 4×6 postcards saying, “Hey, I want to buy your house. Easy, fast cash,” or whatever. That’s pretty much it. I only really hit about a couple of different lists. Absentee owners, obviously, which everybody preaches. I do some tax delinquent mailings and then I do some vacant houses. That’s pretty much it, so it’s not even a lot. I just pound those campaigns consistently.
Joe: Everybody knows how to get absentee owner lists. How do you get to your tax delinquent lists?
Henry: I get them through the county. I call up the county and get the information directly from the county.
Joe: Right, because in St. Louis county, at least here, and I’m pretty sure this is true in almost all 50 states, most counties have, at least once a year, a sale for tax liens or unpaid taxes.
Joe: Many times you can go online and see what those properties are that are up for auction. Sometimes they’ll even publish those late taxes, even if they’re only a year old. Are you targeting the ones that are a year old, 2 years, or 3 years old, or all of them?
Henry: I go out to the ones that owe the most amount of money. I actually get a spreadsheet form the county and I analyze the spreadsheet. I go out to the people who owe a significant amount of taxes based upon the value of, or whatever. Yeah.
Joe: Good. Did you hear the podcast interview we did with that guy recently, oh, I’m sorry, I forget his name right off the top of my head.
Henry: Yeah. I did. The data monitoring guy.
Joe: Yeah. What’s his name? I’m sorry.
Henry: Yeah. I can’t remember the name either, but I definitely heard the podcast.
Joe: I feel real bad not. Dang, I’m going to look while I’m asking you this next question. Did you take what he taught in that podcast and apply it to the county offices here? Is that how you got this list?
Henry: No, actually, I’ve been doing the county list pretty much since I got to St. Louis. I had already kind of known about that, but it’s basically what he said is how it’s done. It’s pretty simple if you think about.
Joe: Right. Ken Elshoff. That was episode 75. It was called Invisible Leads and How to Use the Freedom of Information Act to Get Information From Your County. I’ve had somebody tell me recently that they went to their county to get some data and the county wanted to charge them $3,000 or something like that. I told him I think he’s crazy. Maybe he didn’t ask it the right way, or wasn’t asking for the right thing, or didn’t ask the right person, I’m not sure. I know that I’ve gotten information from the county and it only cost me $40 or $50 bucks.
Henry: Yeah. I got all my information from St. Louis county. It cost me $30 bucks. That’s all it coast me. Yeah.
Joe: Okay. Was it just the delinquent taxes? Is that what it was?
Henry: Yeah. I got just the one that I got from the county. Yeah, just delinquent taxes. Yep.
Joe: Okay. Just an idea to people out there, too, if you want. I went to our county, St. Louis county, and I got a CD of all of the property records in the entire county. It was a convoluted mess. It was 20 different txt files. If you’re kind of nerdy, those are text files. It was a pain in the butt to get it together, but we have a spread sheet of all the property records of all of the properties in St. Louis county. If I remember correctly, it was only $40 or $50 to get that CD.
Cool. You’re sending absentee owners. You’re sending postcards to tax delinquent properties. You mentioned vacants. How are you doing that? What are you doing there?
Henry: That’s just a matter of purchasing the list as well. Purchasing a list of vacant properties. Same thing, sending them a postcard.
Joe: Okay. Very good. Is this a national company that’s listing these vacant houses, or is this a local company?
Henry: A national company.
Joe: Okay. I can understand, you don’t have to give away all your secrets.
Henry: I try to keep a little bit to the cuff.
Joe: Right. I understand. I’m sensitive to that because a lot of people from St. Louis are listening to this, and the guy who’s hosting the podcast is listening to this. Anyway, I remember now, Henry. Didn’t you contact our office because you had a couple of deals you wanted to maybe partner on, was that right?
Henry: Yeah. Absolutely. I think there were a couple of lease option deals, which I have not done yet.
Joe: Yes. That’s right. That’s what it was. This is real important to know, too. When you look at your market, whatever you’re in. Don’t look at other wholesalers as competition. Look at them as partners, because there’s a lot of opportunity out there where you can partner with other wholesalers on deals. Don’t think, guys, that you have a corner on the market, or you’re the only one who could be or should be doing deals in that market. The most successful wholesalers I know are partnering with other wholesalers. A lot of times you’ll have a deal you can’t sell, maybe your buyers are tapped out. If you called another wholesaler and said, “Hey, would you help me with this deal?” They probably have a buyer that would help you sell it, that you could sell it to.
Henry had some deals that probably didn’t have much equity in them, and he doesn’t want to do the work himself of putting it together as a lease option and maybe flipping it. He approached our office because we do a lot of those kinds of deals. That’s cool. I wanted to ask you, too, Henry, what areas are you targeting in your marketing? One of the things we did at the workshop, if you remember, is we pulled a list of all the most active zip codes. I think I remember you saying having some interest in that process and how we did that. Can you talk a little bit about the lists that you’re targeting and how and why you do that?
Henry: Sure. Right now I live in St. Louis city county, and so right now I target St. Louis city county and St. Louis. Obviously, when I got to town I didn’t know that St. Louis is pretty specific in terms of in the city block to block, and in the county, kind of neighborhood to neighborhood. Initially when I got to town, I wasted a lot of mail mailing to areas of town where if I got a deal, there’s no way I’m getting a wholesale because no one was buying there.
Over the last 6 or 7 or 8 months I’ve learned the area I’ve learned the areas better and where I should be marketing. Now I have it pretty all broken down to zip codes and where are the good zip codes and what’s worth mailing to and how to deal and being able to sell it. That just takes learning your market. That’s a problem that anybody would face who get started wholesaling. You’ve got to know your market.
Joe: Yeah. That’s really good. I want to talk to you soon here about your buyers and how you work relationships with your buyers. I think it’s important to know that you can pull data all you want, and you can look at spreadsheets, and you can see where the statistics tell you where the demand is, but a lot of times it’s just getting familiar with the market. Getting to know the players and knocking on doors and, what’s the word I’m looking for, just getting out on the streets and meeting people, networking, right?
Henry: Yeah. Networking, going on appointments, chatting around.
Joe: Yeah. Also, probably the best way to find out where the demand is, is once you get properties under contract and you realize you can’t sell them, right?
Henry: Yeah. Absolutely. Going back to your earlier point you made about partnering with other wholesalers. Me, being a new wholesaler in town, one of the easiest things that I did was call other wholesalers. I went to your seminar with Brian Haskins and we’ve wholesaled a couple of deals together.
Henry: I remember a while ago you had Brad Donley on your podcast and you said he was a big wholesaler in town. I literally tracked down Brad Donley. I said, “I’ve got to meet this guy. He’s doing a lot of deals.” I think Brad and I have done probably 3 or 4 deals so far, so, yeah, definitely-
Henry: … partner with other wholesalers.
Joe: That’s awesome.
Henry: They’ll help you learn the market and they have buyers.
Joe: Excellent. Okay. Could you talk a little bit more about that? When you called up Brad Donley or Brian Haskins, these are guys who are wholesaling deals. By the way, we’re all in St. Louis. It’s crazy. St. Louis isn’t that big of a city, but I can count at least 20 or 30 wholesalers that are wholesaling deals regularly in the St. Louis area. Okay, so when you approached Brian or Brad, what did you tell them?
Henry: With Brad, for example, I remember I heard him on your podcast, and then I think I heard him on another podcast and he sounded like a guy who knew the market, was doing deals, had buyers. I think I tracked him down through maybe one of his bandit signs or maybe through one of his postcards I saw. I said, “Hey, my name’s Henry. I’m a new guy in town. I’d love to sit down with you and just chat for a little while.” He was actually a very good guy. He sat down with me and gave me some advice and I brought him some leads and we ended up doing some deals together.
Joe: You gave him some values. The question I’m really asking here is, you just didn’t say, “Hey, can I pick your brain?” You offered to give him some leads. You offered to split some deals with him. Am I right?
Henry: Absolutely. Yeah. That’s one of the key things. There’s a lot of people who are very generous with their time, but if you’re bringing value to somebody, if you’re giving them the opportunity to make money, that’s going to get someone else’s attention. Yeah, we’ve split deals. He’s made money from me. It’s been a great relationship. Yeah, if you can bring value to that person, it’s more than just, “Hey, can I steal an hour of your time just talking to you?”
Joe: Right. Good. That’s really important to remember. When you guys out there listening think about the wholesalers in your market. Don’t think that paying for their lunch would be enough value for them, buying them a coffee. You need to approach them with the attitude of, “You know what? How can I help you grow your business? How can I help you make me more money? I’d like to learn this business.” Henry was honest with the guys. He didn’t pretend to be some hotshot who knew more than he really did. He said, “You know what? I’ve got some deals here, and I’d like some help. I’m a newbie. Could you give me some information about some of these deals and I’ll split them with you.”
Anytime you can come to a wholesaler who’s doing deals and bring them deals and say, “Look, I’ve got some buyers here,” or, “I’ve got some deals I need to sell,” they’re going to be much more likely to be willing to sit down and help you out, right?
Henry: Absolutely. Everybody’s in this business to make money. That’s what we’re here for.
Joe: Good. I’m glad you brought that up. That’s really important. When you partner with other wholesalers, Henry, are you getting the deals and bringing them the deals and saying, “Hey, do you have any buyers for this?” Are you bringing buyers and saying, “Hey, do you have any deals for these buyers that I’ve found?” What is your approach when you partner with wholesalers?
Henry: My approach, because I think I’m pretty good at seller marketing, I really don’t do a lot of buyer marketing, I know I should, and it’s in my schedule to do more buyer marketing. I think I’m good at seller marketing, so so far all the partnering has been because I had a deal, and then the other guy had the buyer. That’s what I’ve done so far.
Joe: Cool. That’s another good thing about partnering with other people is because they have stuff that you don’t. They’ve got good buyers.
Henry: Yeah, absolutely.
Joe: You could probably find your own buyer, but maybe you’d only make $3 grand on the deal because your buyers list isn’t that big. They have a buyer who they can make $10 grand on the deal and your 50/50 split would be $5 grand, so you actually make more money by partnering with them than you would if you were just doing it on your own. Is that what I hear you saying?
Henry: Absolutely. Another thing is, even if I had 5, 10 of my own good buyers, like you mentioned there’s probably 20 wholesalers in St. Louis all doing well, all with buyers, if I reach out to those 20 wholesalers and they each 5 or 10 buyers, then I have 100 to 500 buyers. It just opens it up incredibly, so, yeah, absolutely, reach out to other wholesalers because everybody’s going to have different buyers.
Joe: There’s been times when I had a house in a really good area, but I knew I didn’t have many buyers there. I called other wholesalers, and I knew the profit was going to be big on this thing, but for one reason or another I was too busy, I didn’t want to go look at the house. I partnered with other wholesalers who I knew were more familiar with that area, who had the time and at the drop of a hat would go look at the house and inspect for me and get it sold for a higher price than I could have if I’d done it on my own. I was willing to split the profits with them 50/50 because, frankly, I didn’t want to spend any more time on the deal than I already had. I’d rather partner with somebody who’s going to do the work of going to look at the house. I know I’m sounding really lazy, but at this time in particular on this one deal I’m thing of, I didn’t not want to get into the car and drive 45 minutes to go look at the house. This was in Sunset Hills, if you’re familiar with that area, Henry.
Joe: Great area. I did not want to do it, and this guy actually went and looked at the house and did the deal. Anyway, you’re good at seller marketing, and I like that Henry. You know what you’re good at and you leverage your strengths. Talk about some of the process that you do. You do the marketing, the calls come in, do you take them yourself? Do they go to voice mail? How do you do that?
Henry: Me, personally, I take the calls myself. I remember I had a mentor before who always said that, “If you’re going to spend the money on the marketing, pick up the phone.” It’s not like I’m so busy that I can’t answer the phone. I do do this full time. All of my seller calls go right to my cell phone. I try to answer them live, as soon as possible.
Joe: Does that get a little overwhelming? How do you handle the volume?
Henry: It does. It got a little overwhelming when I started and, like I said, when I was marketing in a couple of the zip codes that were pretty bad. Because they were bad zip codes, someone got a postcard they got really excited that somebody wanted to buy their property. I did get a lot of calls on a lot of junk leads. That did get a little overwhelming. Right now I try to space out my marketing so it’s an even call flow throughout the month. That’s how I do it.
Joe: Because you’re targeting more desirable zip codes, you’re getting fewer seller calls I imagine, right?
Henry: Yeah, I get less calls.
Joe: You’re getting fewer calls, but they’re more likely to be deals. You’re getting better quality calls, I think, right?
Henry: Exactly. Yeah. Better areas, better properties, less call volume, but better calls.
Joe: Excellent. I like how you’re keeping it simple. Do you go see the house? If there’s equity or if there’s motivation, are you dropping everything to go meet the seller?
Henry: As long as it’s in a decent enough area I will go to see it. Another thing I picked up along the lines is try to book the appointment. You don’t know it it’s a deal. It might be, it might not be. When you’re new it’s good just to get the practice. Being a fun fellow, it’s great practice. Building your people skills, building your negotiation skills. Being a person from out of state it’s good to drive out and see the neighborhood. I try to go on as many appointments as I can. It might not be the best use of my time. I might get really busy, but I try to go on as many appointments as I can just for practice. You get leads by going on to new appointments.
Joe: Good. So far this has just been you, right? Do you have a virtual assistant? Do you have anybody locally helping you?
Henry: No, I don’t. Sometimes my wife she’ll help. She kind of helps with letters and research. Right now it’s just myself. I’m definitely looking to hire a VA. I had someone, someone for a little while put out some data stuff for me, but that didn’t last very long. No, so far it’s just myself.
Joe: You have very little overhead, which is really, really good. If you can wholesale 20 deals on your own, without an assistant, without an office, then why can’t everybody here listening to this do it from their basement?
Henry: Yeah, it’s like you always say, Joe, a laptop and cell phone, it’s really all you need. I work from home, spare bedroom. Yeah, it’s really all you need.
Joe: That’s right. You can do it from the basement of your parent’s house.
Henry: Yeah, and an internet connection. It also helps to have a car to go see the houses. You don’t need much, you really don’t.
Joe: It reminds me of this lady one time I was coaching. She had 3 kids, I think, all under the age of 5 and her husband was working, but they were working paycheck to paycheck. She really wanted to find another way to make extra money. She really struggled because every time the seller would call, her kids would be screaming in the background, literally, every time. Whenever I talked to her I knew that was true. Her kids were playing, or being really loud in the background. She wanted to stay at home. She was never angry with her kids for being so loud. That’s just the way kids are, right? They’re really loud.
She just decided, “I’ve got to find a way to make this work,” and she just started emailing sellers every day on Craigslist and different for sale by owners sites. Just email only, wouldn’t get on the phone, and would do deals, 2 to 3 to 4 a month. Most of them were little lease option flips, tie them up as a lease option. She was just using email. She’d be honest with the sellers. She would explain, “It’s really hard for me to talk on the phone. I prefer to do email.” If the sellers had to talk to her, or they had to show here the home, then she would just pass on the deal.
Every week she’d go in and pick a new city randomly. She said, “It’s almost like throwing darts.” She has a map on the wall and she just randomly picks a new city every week and just sends a bunch of emails and communicates back and forth with emails. My point in bringing that up is, really all you need, even if you don’t have a cell phone, all you need is a computer. If you don’t have a computer, you could just ride your bike to the library, use the library computer, right? Anymore, you can buy some laptop for maybe 100, 200 bucks. Anyway, I digress.
Henry, when you’ve got a seller that’s got some equity. What makes you decide to go see the house?
Henry: It’s a mixture of if it’s in a good zip code, good area, good school district, obviously, being St. Louis. Then, if there’s any type of situation that I can get over the phone, such as a vacant house, or a bad tenant, or any type of repairs. Any type of motivation from their story I try pick up on that. That would make me go out and see a house, and if they’re realistic in their price over the phone. That’s kind of the criteria I use.
Joe: Okay. You have some areas that you stay away from, and you have good areas that you like. Talk a little bit about the general areas that you don’t like. Are they the war zones? There’s some areas in St. Louis, you couldn’t pay somebody to buy it because the property just needs too much work. No one’s going to ever, probably, rehab a property in those areas and put that much money into it. What kind of neighborhoods are you staying away from?
Henry: In St. Louis city, obviously, I don’t do anything in North City because I’ve learned that no one really wants to buy up there. Definitely stay out of North City. Then in terms of the county, as you know there’s the 3 school districts that have lost their accreditation. I have done deals in those areas, but only because I had a couple of local guys just looking for really cheap rentals. Overall, I know that most people don’t want to buy in those areas, so I stay away from a couple of areas in North County as well, Riverview, Wellston, those type of areas.
Henry: Normandy, yeah, Glasgow Village, I think that’s about it, Jennings.
Joe: Anybody listening to this, if you want to know what those areas are in your market, just ask around. I’m sure Henry probably figured it out. He learned as he went along, as he was doing deals. Maybe you probably got a couple of deals in Glasgow Village, and then you realized after about a week how hard it was to sell them. As you start talking to other investors they tell you why. That’s how you learn this stuff. You just go out and start doing it and not be afraid to make mistakes.
Henry: Yep. That’s it.
Joe: Okay, so you still stay away from the really nice areas, too, don’t you? You’re not targeting homes in the $300,000 range, is that right?
Henry: I have not yet, but that is my plan for the next couple of months to start fine tuning my marketing and trying to go after some of the more expensive stuff. That is a plan. I do want to go after the more expensive stuff, because it’s the same amount of work to make 10, 15, 20 on a wholesale as it is to make 2 or 3 thousand. That’s the plan.
Joe: Okay, but you’re still not going to, at least I hope you’re not, going to stop marketing to the medium-priced homes areas, right?
Henry: No. I’ll absolutely keep marketing to medium and below, because there are a lot of people who do want these cheap rentals. Yeah, I would never stop that because it is my bread and butter, and it’s been consistent. I’ll definitely keep hitting those areas.
Joe: I think it’s important just to think about where’s the demand, and generally speaking, there’s fewer deals to be made in medium and above, but you’re wholesale fees might be bigger.
Joe: It’s kind of like if you’re used to wholesaling a bunch of deals and that’s nice, and if you start all the sudden going after the nicer neighborhoods, you’re going to be maybe getting a little frustrated and nervous because you’re not going to be wholesaling as many. You’re not going to be getting as many deals, as many leads. You’re going to need to do more direct mail, even though your deals are going to be bigger, it just requires a bigger investment as a general rule of thumb.
Joe: You’ve got to know what your bread and butter is, I think.
Henry: Yeah. Absolutely. You’ve got to know your market. That’s it. Know your market and know your buyers.
Joe: Good. All right. Henry, talk to me when you go meet a seller, are you going there with the intention of getting a house under contract, or are you going there to build some rapport and give them a contract later? What’ your philosophy on that?
Henry: I’m pretty much a laid back dude. I’m not overly aggressive. I’m not super salesy. I’m pretty mellow. I’m just going out to build rapport, get a better idea of their situation and get an idea of the situation of the property. I’ve never presented an offer to someone on a first appointment. I think it’s great if you’re that type of person that can do that, but it’s not my personality. I usually call them back the next day with an offer. That’s what’s worked for me so far.
Joe: Okay. I’m surprised to hear that, actually.
Henry: Yeah. I’m not that aggressive.
Joe: All right.
Henry: I wish I could be that, I really do. I wish I could go in there, get a contract, walk out with a contract every time. I’d like to get there, but it’s just not really me yet.
Joe: It just goes to show you that you don’t have to be some super-powered, high-pressured salesman to make money in this business.
Henry: No. Really, all personalities work. It works for some. Yeah. It’s doesn’t matter what you’re like. It’s whatever.
Joe: Okay. Henry, let me ask you just 1 or 2 more final questions. I sure appreciate you taking the time. If you were to be dropped into a new city, if you were to go to your next St. Louis, let’s say Albuquerque, New Mexico. You didn’t know anybody there. You were dropped there and you were told, “Look, you can’t go back to see your family until you do a couple of deals, or you make 5 grand.” What would you start doing in a new market like that? Knowing that you were under the gun, you didn’t have much money. You needed to get a deal done fast. What would you start doing first?
Henry: I’d probably have to say a couple of things. Obviously, direct mail would be one of my key strategies. I’ve always been a fan of direct mail. I would definitely try out postcards, absolutely. That’d be one of the first things I’d do. Then, the second thing would be actually find the biggest REIA in the area. I would go to REIA and I would start networking as much as possible, find out who the buyers are, find out who the true players are, what type of areas are good, who’s looking for deals, that would probably be my second thing.
Joe: That’s it? It’s supposed to be more complicated than that.
Henry: No, it’s pretty simple. It’s funny, that’s what I did here. I belong to the Southside Investment Club in St. Louis, great investment club, they meet every month. I’ve done deals with a bunch of people in the room and it’s great. Just to know people as a new guy coming in from another city it’s been a great club to join. I would suggest to everybody join your local REIA, try to make friends, pass out business cards, go to meetings and just network, network, network. It definitely pays off.
Joe: I’ll be honest, I don’t go to enough REIAs, as much as I should. A lot of it has to do with having 4 young kids. It’s hard to get away for me, but I think you’re absolutely right. I used to go to a lot more of them. Some people get frustrated. There’s not a lot of people there doing deals. It’s mostly beginners, but you’re still finding some value from them, right? You’re actually meeting people. They’re really doing deals, right?
Henry: Yep. One of the first deals I did in town was with, it’s actually a pretty big company, Faster House in St. Louis with Phil Vincent, who’s a member of the Southside REIA club. I think we’ve done 3 or 4 deals. I met him at the REIA. I called him, the same thing I did with Brian, I called him and said, “Hey, I’ve got some deals. I don’t if they’re deals, but they might be deals. Why don’t you check them out?” He was really cool. He went on appointments with me, we did deals, we made money. Yeah, right in the REIA. I met a bunch of buyers at REIAs, absolutely. There’s some people there doing deals and some people aren’t. It’s a great place for whatever level you’re at to go and to network and get in the game. I suggest that everybody do it.
Joe: Some REIAs are better than others.
Henry: Yeah. It’s like anything. You’ve just got to find the good ones.
Joe: I won’t mention names. Some groups are better than others.
Joe: If there isn’t one in your market, if you’re listening to this, then you should start one. It’s a great place to network, find other people that are doing deals. That’s awesome. Cool, Henry. Anything else you want to say? Any kind of words of advice maybe to people out there just getting started?
Henry: I would say to people don’t over complicate it. It’s not that hard. It’s kind of daunting at times, but it’s really not that hard. It’s just doing a little marketing, going on the appointment, getting the contract, and then trying to sell the contract. Really, that’s all it’s all there is to it. I’m not a rehabber. I’m not a landlord. I just focus on what I know. It’s really not a lot of steps to it. It’s not as scary as people will make it out to be. Once you do one, the next one’s a little easier, the next one’s a little easier. You kind of get a little rhythm, and you get a little confidence. It just gets better from there. That’s what I think.
Joe: I kind of like what you did, too. You didn’t have any other choice. You had to make this work, am I right? You didn’t come here with a job, am I right?
Henry: Yeah, I burned the ships. I quit my job in Boston. Like I said, I packed up, a little U-Haul trailer and I drove here. I had enough, it wasn’t the smartest plan, I probably had enough money for maybe 2 or 3 months of living expenses and marketing. It was a little sketchy, but that’s how I could make it happen. I had no choice but to make it happen.
Joe: One word, hustle.
Henry: Yeah. That’s it. It’s a good thing. I am married, but I don’t have any children, so it’s a lot easier in terms of time wise that I can devote more time to the business. That does help. It is an advantage I have.
Joe: Yeah. You hustled, and I love the fact that this isn’t a groundbreaking, earth-shattering podcast. We didn’t come up in this podcast with any kind of top secret, revolutionary, exciting principles or secrets that you could start implementing today, except get back to the basics and keep it real simple. It’s not complicated. From what I hear you’re saying, anybody can do it. What’s holding you back? Why aren’t you out there hustling?
Henry: Yeah. That’s it. It really is. It’s just decide to do it and go out and make it happen. Like I said, you learn every day. Every deal’s a little different and different situations and different people. It’s all good. You’re all going in a forward direction. You just got to get in the game, and once you get in the game you kind of figure it out. A lot of people try to figure it all out ahead of time, but you just have to get going and then ask questions.
Joe: This has been really good. This is basics 101 real estate investing. Not quitting or giving up, making it work, not being afraid of networking and partnering with people and asking questions and getting some help, getting a little bit of education. I think this is going to be encouraging, Henry, to people who are just getting started. Maybe a little nervous, maybe a little afraid, don’t know where to start. I think this is going to be really helpful, especially to people who are tired of themselves complicating the business. It doesn’t need to be that way.
Joe: Hey, thank you so much, Henry. I can’t think of anything else to ask you. You’ve given away all your secrets. Which, nothing is really a secret anyway. You’re just doing the right things.
Joe: Good for you man. Congratulations.
Henry: Yeah, thank you. I appreciate you having me on the call, Joe.
Joe: All right everybody, go to realestateinvestingmastery.com to get the show notes from this show. Also, I keep on going back to, I’m going to do a little self-promotion here, back to this book that I wrote with my business partner, Peter. We wrote a book called ‘Being Brilliant at the Basics’. It really is just about being good at the basics, which is exactly what Henry has done. I think that’s so awesome.
If you want more information about that book, if you go to freebasicbook.com to get some information. You have to pay shipping and handling. It’s about a hundred and something pages. It doesn’t look like a normal book. It looks more like a work book. Yeah, we could have spent a few more dollars and gotten this thing hard covered and made it look more like a professional book. It’s got a lot of graphics in there, screen shots. We talk about how we do our marketing and how we talk to sellers, how we find our buyers. All the good basic stuff. All right. Thanks everybody. Thanks, again, Henry. We’ll see you all later.
Henry: Thank you.
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