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Article by Jim Mitchell

Why I STOPPED looking for houses!

Does your phone ring too much? Do you ever think, "I wish these sellers and buyers would just leave me alone for a few minutes once in a while."? I know, what a hassle right? Having too many calls is something that must be hard to imagine for most beginning investors, and even some seasoned investors. This is something that I deal with in my office daily. I honestly cannot remember when the last time was that I called a seller, other than to return their call. After many attempts to buy houses and create deals based on the various ways the courses I had read taught me to find sellers, I realized it would be much easier to make money and create deals if sellers found me. This was not something that I figured out overnight however.

Why this was not always the case

Like most people looking to better themselves financially, I eventually found my way to Real Estate Investing. I purchased one of those late night T.V. info-mercial courses and thought I would be rich in no time. After reading and learning about several ways to buy houses, I felt I had a good handle on "How?" to buy houses without using my own money and credit. Which was a good thing at the time, because I had none of either.

The wrong approach and how I fixed it

As I worked almost daily on my investing career, I looked for houses. I talked to Real Estate agents, called on For Sale By Owner ads and signs, as well as went directly to the door of a few. I searched the newspaper classified ads for homes for sale ads that contained certain "key words" that the courses had said to look for like "motivated seller" or "must sell". Guess what? Not a single deal happened for me during the first two years I tried to buy houses!

I then gave up and resigned myself to being an "Employee" for the rest of my life. Surely working over time and placing the funds from that into nice safe, secure C.D.'s at the bank, or the stock market would help me make money. Yeah right!! I then realized that even though my paychecks from my J.O.B. were getting bigger, I STILL HAD NO MONEY left over!

After a very long day at my J.O.B., well, actually a night, since I was working midnights, I came home to see yet another late night info-mercial about an investing course. I then proceeded to re-read the material I had purchased earlier, but did not want to hear "No!" on my offers. I knew from previous experience that cold-calling sellers was not going to work. What was the answer? I gave this much thought. There simply HAD to be a way to make this business work. I thought about several ideas, and the one common thread amongst them all was that sellers who were motivated had no idea me or my business even existed. Time to make a change!

I learned about various marketing ideas from other successful businesses in my area. They seemed to be thriving because customers were calling them for service. Surely if sellers began to call ME, the deals would follow. Remember, I was living paycheck to paycheck, so creating a marketing budget just was not possible at that time. How on earth was I to compete with other businesses without spending something to attract leads?

With my funds rather low, I decided to start small. I set out to market my services in my own neighborhood. The area was somewhat small, but there were plenty of houses. What if EVERY SINGLE homeowner in the area knew that I bought houses, and where to get a hold of me? Surely someone would call who needed a solution to their real estate problem.

My plan was to create a simple message, along with my contact information, and get it in front of as many people as possible. I knew from my reading and networking with other investors that investing in Real Estate was essentially a numbers game. If I could get several thousand people to see my message, a deal would follow. After that, I could and would create a marketing budget, and start my buying machine at full throttle.

The plan

After sitting around thinking for several days about my message and how to distribute it, I realized sitting around was not getting me anywhere. I had to take ACTION!!! I went to the local art supply store and purchased some poster board material and laminate. I then made a quick trip to the office supply store to buy some printer paper and extra print cartridges for my computer printer.

After arriving home with my supplies, I sat down to draw up a plan for delivering my message. I mapped out the area I was going to target, and decided how many of what I was going to make. I decided on a very short message of "I BUY HOUSES xxx-xxx-xxxx". This allowed me to keep the text large enough that people could read it as they passed by. I then spent the greater part of that evening making up signs and flyers to distribute. I placed an entry in my day planner scheduling a date and time to get this done. I HAD to write this down to commit myself.

The plan in action

Two days later it was my day off from work, and my day planner was on the coffee table with the page containing my marketing blitz schedule. I was somewhat frightened at this point, but realized very quickly that I'd get nowhere just sitting around thinking about my plan, so out I went to distribute flyers and signs. I covered my entire town with signs. I had made up some wooden stakes and pounded the signs into the ground at intersections leading to and from the target area. I went to local retail businesses and passed out flyers, as well as a few door to door.

Results!

I returned home to wait on the calls. The funny thing is that upon my return home there were 3 calls waiting for me. Now I was VERY AFRAID!! The only deal I had actually completed at this point was a wholesale flip which I culled from the MLS, so actually talking to sellers was a somewhat frightening thought. Again, I knew no money would be coming my way unless I took action. I sat down, took a deep breath and picked up the phone to return the calls from sellers. After holding the phone in my hand, returning it to the cradle several times, trying desperately to gain the confidence I needed to call, I just dialed and waited for an answer.

Out of the three calls I had that day to return, only one of them NEEDED to sell their house fast. This was a good ratio for me, compared to earlier results, so I was thrilled. I was able to listen to the seller talk about the house and their situation and offer a solution. I closed the conversation by setting up an appointment to meet with the sellers and see the house. We signed the agreement for me to purchase their house that night. I now had my first deal signed without the use of a Real Estate agent or broker!

Why there were results

During conversations with the sellers on my first deal I was able to determine that these sellers were facing some financial difficulty and were not sure where to turn. Then they saw my sign and called me. WOW!!! All I had to do was get my message out to more people. Before I even sold this house, I made up more marketing material and distributed it in the area. I was now HUNGRY for more deals. The rush of signing these sellers up was something I cannot even describe fully. I was so PUMPED! The sellers were thanking me for buying their home, even though I was not giving them ANY MONEY!

The next phase

After buying a few houses over the term of a month or so, I was very excited about this business. I now knew that MARKETING was THE KEY to maintain a consistent flow of leads. Having motivated sellers calling me daily sure made this business a whole lot easier. I set out to MARKET LIKE AGRESSIVELY!! I wanted EVERYONE to know that I was the guy to call when they had a Real Estate problem to solve. I sat down and drew up a marketing plan in complete detail. I made decisions as to what type of marketing I would try, a budget for doing so, as well as a system to track the leads. I knew that not all the methods I would employ would bring results, so tracking which ones worked best would allow me to fine tune the process.

How much money do I need to market?

Money, or lack thereof is a common factor amongst beginning investors. Does this business take some cash to be successful? Sure it does. I won't give you a "pie in the sky" story and tell you this business is a FREE RIDE, because it is not. But, you can use various methods to get your message out to people and be cost effective at the same time. The thing to remember is that you must make your message clear and concise, as well as visible to as many people as you can. This CAN be done for a relatively small amount of money.

Some tips to get you started

I will try to share with you here just a few of the ideas that I used in the beginning, as well as some that I still use today to make my phone to ring consistently with motivated sellers calling.

What should my marketing say?

You want your message to be clear. Sellers who NEED to sell their homes could care less about fancy logos or company names. They only want to know what you do, (YOU BUY HOUSES!) and how to get a hold of you. (Your contact information.) I personally prefer to use a short sweet to the point message. Something like below:

I Buy Houses
Any area/condition
Any Problem/No Problem
xxx-xxx-xxxx
We Buy Houses
We Take over payments
No Equity, No Problem
We will buy or lease your house
No commissions or fees
xxx-xxx-xxxx

Notice that not once in either ad do I mention my company name, my personal name, or show a logo. Those who need to sell their home will call me because they know I buy houses. Also, remember to remain consistent with your message. Keep your message the same in all of your marketing material.

Where and how should I place my message?

First I'll address "Where?" to place your message. The simple answer is EVERYWHERE that you can. You want to get your message viewed by as many people as possible within your target area. In my opinion, signs are by far the most effective marketing tool you can employ. By placing your message on a sign along the road, you have a somewhat captive audience. People driving by will notice your ad, whether they want to or not. They will not be able to just turn the channel, as they can with a television commercial or radio announcement.

My next favorite low cost method for getting our message out there is flyers. You can either make these yourself, on your home computer if you have one, or you can pay to have someone print some up. A flyer can be placed all over the place. Bulletin boards are common in many places, so this is a good use for your flyer. You may also use them door-to-door, or just leave them at businesses and other places where people frequent.

All the courses tell you to get or make business cards. I agree with this to a point. Again, you want to use the very same message on your cards as you do with other marketing material. Once you have your cards, pass them out to EVERYONE! Whether someone needs to sell their house or not, they may just know someone who does. You can also leave your cards places where people frequent, such as stores, restaurants, and other businesses in the area. I leave my card with anyone I come into contact with. I've even left my cards with wait staff when eating out, along with the tip.

These are a mere sample of some of the marketing ideas and techniques that I employ daily in my business to generate leads. Over recent years I have been able to develop a system of multi-pronged marketing that generates consistent leads. Rather than rely on one or two methods to get the word out, having many different things out there with my message on it helps keep them calling. By using several different things, we are keeping our company and services at the forefront of seller's minds. Repetition is an important factor in that.

In marketing any business, the goal is to make your company the first called by customers who need your service. When they see your message over and over again and they need a service like yours, who are they going to call? With consistent heavy aggressive marketing, it will be YOU!!

The bottom line is, THERE ARE MOTIVATED SELLERS EVERYWHERE! Your job is to lead them to you!

Jim Mitchell is a full time investor who has been investing since 1998. Jim buys all of his properties using various no money down techniques, and averages 2-4 deals per week. His specialty is buying houses subject to the existing financing. Jim discovered early on in his investing career that the key to being successful in his business was to market aggressively and have motivated sellers contact him. Jim also runs a mentoring service along with his partner Matt Bowman and has co-authored a course on marketing your investing business. You can learn more about their programs at www.REmentors.com


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