MAXIMIZING HOME INSPECTIONS
FUNDAMENTALS DON'T LET DISTANCE SQUASH A DEAL
Break from the Herd: Lead Generation Tips to Move Your Needle SPECIAL SECTION
From Headache to Heyday with a Malibu Mansion RENOVATION ROCKSTAR The New Year is Here: What 7 Economists Think You Should Know HOUSING NEWS REPORT
A REAL ESTATE WORLD RECORD IS JUST A START FOR BEN CABALLERO PAGE 16 Laser Focused
$5.95U.S. ::$6.95CAN JAN/FEB2019
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
THINK REALTY 8 News & Events
BUSINESS FUNDAMENTALS 42 Tax Break Creates New Frontiers of ‘Opportunity’ Program hopes to revitalize areas struggling with high unemployment, low income. by Paul Fiorilla 44 Note Investing from Afar Don’t let distance deter you from a solid investment. by W.J. Mencarow
Updates from around the industry.
10 You’ve Gone from an Investor to an Employer. NowWhat? Tackle the job of HR with tools from Resourcing Edge. by Collin Curbo
GOING BIG: MARKETING & LEAD GENERATION 24 Find Your Math Problem to Generate Leads and Success Quantity matters when searching
STRATEGY 46 Busting the Seasonal Home-Selling Myth
for the right investment deal. by Brett Snodgrass and Brian Snider
Selling your home in the winter may be better than you realize. by Sherry Kitzman
26 Building Your Investor Network with a Realtor Working with a Realtor can generate leads and inside access for investments. by Kristin Weekley 28 Direct Mail Proof: Real Campaigns Netting up to $100,000 Per Month Print mail marketing is far from dead, especially for real estate investors. by Joy Gendusa 32 The Best Kept Secret for Finding Off-Market Deals Local property managers can help connect you with great rental investments. by Marc Cunningham 34 Still Apathetic with Your Web Presence? It’s Costing You Investing in SEO improvements can be your effective lead generation system. by Bobby Burch
48 Planning for a Home Inspection [ Case Study ] Six behaviors to help you get the best results from an inspection. by Gaylene Rogers Lonergan
HOUSING NEWS REPORT 73 2019 Housing Outlook Seven Economists Predict 2019 Housing Market Trends by ATTOM Data Solutions 79 America's Most Vacant [ Infographic ] Ten counties with the highest share of vacant homes. by ATTOM Data Solutions
BEN CABALLERO'S HomesUSA.com platform set a world record and hasn’t slowed down.
SPECIALIZING IN SUCCESS
by Carole Ellis :: photos by Jason Kindig
BUSINESS FUNDAMENTALS 40 Before Resolutions Begin, Consider a Revamp to Your Fitness Amenities
SPONSORED CONTENT 51 Investor Review: Education & Technology Edition Bringing information and
SEEING ISBELIEVINGEVEN BEFORE IT’SBUILT Virtual reality technology is changing the game in real estate.
RENOVATION ROCKSTAR: MALIBUMANSION A year-long deal doubles the ARV of this ocean-side home.
CONTENT BUILDS EXPERTISE AND GENERATES LEADS
January brings a new year, and often new health goals for your residents. by Jeremy Brutus
innovation to real estate investors.
The conversation about real estate debt is becoming misleading.
The six pillars of content strategy.
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FROM THE EDI TOR- IN-CHI EF
PUBLISHER Eddie Wilson
Turn the Page to a New Year
CEO, AFFINITY WORLDWIDE Eddie Wilson
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & CONTENT DIRECTOR Abby Tillman
itting here, staring at a blank page, preparing to write my
them. Whatever it is you’re commit- ting to achieve in 2019, we’re honored to be a part of it by bringing Think Realty Magazine to you every month. We have some big goals of our own at Think Realty for 2019. We want to continue bringing you fresh, relevant content and telling the inspiring stories of real life real estate investors and projects. We want to lift you up with information about new strategies, business processes, technology tips, and more. And we want to bring you more insights, more in-depth analysis, and more actionable data. To that end, we will be incorporating Think Realty’s Housing News Report, powered by ATTOM Data Solutions, in the mix of issues you’ll be receiving this year. By doing this, we hope to fill out, more broadly, the full scope of resources you need to be successful on your investment journey. Our mission hasn’t changed: We want to serve you, brave real estate investor, with the very best insights and information about real estate investing, so you can be successful. We want to be your go-to resource for tips and timely, relevant news about our industry (did you know we publish real estate investment news stories every day onThinkRealty.com?). We want you to make it big, to gain the confidence to close the next deal, and to enjoy the freedom real estate investing provides for your future. I hope this issue finds you energized by the New Year’s new beginning. And, I hope it finds you with dreams and goals for your future that real estate investing and Think Realty Magazine can help you achieve. •
SALES MANAGER Rodney Halford RHalford@ThinkRealty.com 816-398-4111 x86122 NATIONAL SALES MANAGER Teresa Stanton TStanton@ThinkRealty.com 816-398-4111 x86224 FULFILLMENT COORDINATOR Blair Pierce DESIGN CONSULTANTS Rivet | www.WeAreRivet.com
first letter to you as interim Edi- tor-in-Chief of Think Realty Mag- azine , I can’t help but smile at the poignant alignment of time and task. It’s January, a month of blank slates and new beginnings, and I get the joy of using this blank page to introduce you to our newest issue and some exciting new features coming your way in 2019. We planned this January issue around one of the most important aspects of a real estate investor’s world: lead generation. We’ve featured Ben Caballero on the cover, arguably one of the best lead-generators of our time, as he holds top ranking in the Guinness Book of World Records for both number of real estate sales transactions and cumulative transaction (dollar) volume. We’ve included a whole section with innovative strategies for both marketing and lead generation, which you can employ in your own businesses to increase your deal volume and grow your wealth. And we’ve brought you a housing market outlook for 2019, so you can make informed decisions and set strategic goals for the next year. Maybe you’re like me and your goals include some personal ambitions like spending less time on your phone and more time with your family (goodbye, Facebook app!). Or, maybe you’ve made the ever-elusive resolution to get back to the gym this year (I don’t even kid myself with that one anymore). Maybe you’ve got business goals you want to achieve this year, like finally buying your first investment property, or closing on 200 of
ART DIRECTOR Emily Bowers
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Rick Abell, Jeremy Brutus, Bobby Burch, Jennifer Jo Cobb, Marc Cunningham, Collin Curbo, Carole Ellis, Paul Fiorilla, Dale Garrison, Joy Gendusa, Abhi Golhar, Pamela J. Goodwin, Sherry Kitzman, Gaylene Rogers Lonergan, W.J. Mencarow, Brian Snider, Brett Snodgrass, BreAnn Stephenson, Kristin Weekley and Ingo Winzer.
TRENDING: NEW PARTNERSHIP ADDS PERKS FOR MEMBERS
COVER PHOTOGRAPHY Jason Kindig
Housing News Report to Join the Think Realty Lineup As a leading resource for real estate investors, we want to continue adding value by providing leading-edge tools to help you achieve your goals. We are excited to announce our partnership with ATTOM Data Solutions, curator of the nation’s premier property database, and the transition of their award-winning publication, Housing News Report to Think Realty. Be on the lookout for the new edition of Think Realty's Housing News Report coming soon. Tap into data-driven content, trends and insights to build your strategy for REI success. Visit ThinkRealty.com/attom to learn more.
FOR ARTICLE REPRINTS :: Contact Jeremy Ellis at Reprint Pros, 949-702-5390. www.reprintpros.com. SUBSCRIPTIONS :: The annual subscription for Think Realty Magazine is $28.95 in the U.S. Order online at www.ThinkRealty.com or call 816-398-4085. Provide your full name, address and telephone number. DISCLAIMER :: Think Realty Magazine , its owners, contractors, distributors and their respective representatives do not provide tax, accounting, investment or legal advice and make no guarantee as to the effectiveness or success of any investment or tax strategies discussed herein. Please consult your own independent adviser as to any questions you have or decision you are contemplating. ABOUT THIS MAGAZINE :: ThinkRealtyMagazine isapublicationof AffinityRealEstateMediaLLC.Reproductionoruseofanyeditorial orgraphic,withoutpermission, isprohibited.Wearenotresponsible for thecontentofanypaidadvertisements.Forreprintrights; toob- tainadetailedstatementofourprivacypolicy;and forallsingle-copy requests,addresschangesandothersubscription inquiries:
ABBY TILLMAN, INTERIM EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Think Realty 7509 Tiffany Springs Parkway, Suite 200 Kansas City, Missouri 64153 816-398-4130 ThinkRealty.com Copyright ©2019 Think Realty
ABITABOUTABBY: Abby Tillman is the Content Director for Think Realty, overseeing content development and circulation on all of Think Realty's channels including website, radio, magazine, social media, and events. Having helped build the Think Realty brand for its launch in 2016, Abbywas formerly the Marketing Director for Think Realty. She is also acting as interim Editor in Chief for Think Realty Magazine . Abby and her husband, Lucas, are active real estate investors and propertymanagers in the Kansas City area. On the weekends you can find them driving through neighborhoods eyeing potential investment properties, talking about real estate over a beer, or watching HGTV for design inspiration.
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Think Realty is a part of the Affinity Worldwide family of companies. Here, find exciting news about Think Realty and its sister companies, as well as other noteworthy industry news.
NEWS & EVENTS
DALLAS EVENT PREVIEW
Real Estate World Recordholder, Dozens of Experts to Attend Dallas Event BEN CABALLERO HEADLINES 2019 THINK REALTY CONFERENCE & EXPO.
Indiana Statewide Investors Conference Raises Funds to Benefit Policy and Legislation
JANUARY 11-12, 2019 2019 Second Annual Indiana Statewide Investors Conference Embassy Suites Indy North (Friday) Broadmoor Country Club – Indianapolis (Saturday) Learn more in the full article to the left. JANUARY 19-26, 2019 Real Deal Meetup Seminar and Edutainment Cruise Port Miami – Miami, Florida Learn more at RealDealMeetupCruise.com. FEBRUARY 7-9, 2019 IMN Middle-market Multi-family Forum Marriott New York Downtown – New York, New York Learn more at IMN.org. FEBRUARY 16-17, 2019 Think Realty Conference and Expo – Dallas Marriott Dallas Las Colinas – Dallas, Texas Learn more in the full article on the opposite page. Don't Miss Think Realty Booths & Speakers at These Upcoming Industry Events! Think Realty will be busy this January and February at Industry events across the country (and ocean!).
oin Think Realty on February 16-17 in Dallas as we kickoff the
n an effort to strengthen the voice of real estate investors, INstateREIA is hosting its Second Annual Indiana Statewide Investors Conference January 11th and 12th. Last year’s event raised over $25,000 and funds went toward implementing an informational website for members, as well as an email system that streamlines the process for members to take action on key issues and dates that are on the horizon that could impact investors. INStateREIA is a nonprofit organization investors and groups who wanted to see a much-needed change in policy and legislation surrounding real estate investment. One-hundred percent of the profits from the event go toward lobbying and public awareness. The goal for January’s event is to raise $80,000 and all net-funds will go directly to: • The statewide public perception program • Hiring a lobbyist on behalf of Indiana State investors • Continuing efforts to implement the statewide Call-To-Action Funnel. The weekend kicks off with a VIP dinner on Friday evening with keynote speaker Eddie Wilson, CEO of Think Realty. Wilson is an accomplished real estate investor and offers his insight on both traditional and nontraditional funding sources in both the US and foreign markets. Each table is hosted by a weekend speaker or sponsor, so it is the perfect opportunity to connect with experts and network your way through the evening. On Saturday, the day will be packed with national expert speakers who will share knowledge on a variety of topics like real estate taxes, digital tools and software and rehabbing. Think Realty will hold an informative panel on the discounts, rebates and benefits that come with an INstateREIA membership. created for local and regional real estate
two-day Think Realty Conference & Expo, featuring Ben Caballero, who's our January cover story and the Guinness Book of World Records holder for total number of real estate transactions and cumulative transaction volume. As well as learning from Caballero, local, regional and national
Access intensive workshops and trainings on specific real estate investment topics, including:
• Asset Protection • Setting up LLC’s for real estate investment businesses • Risk Management • Insurance for real estate investors • Commercial Real Estate 101 • Buy and Hold strategies Investors and attendees consistently praise the amount of valuable information and networking opportunities Think Realty events provide. Think Realty’s quarterly events are where deals are struck, business partners are discovered and friends are made.
real estate experts will pack the house for opportunities to network and grow your real estate investment business. Your event ticket includes:
Asset Protection Planning for Real Estate Investments with Clint Coons
But don’t take our word for it. Here’s what past attendees have said:
“Outstanding event. I am highly recommending this to people I know that are interested in real estate investing.” Atlanta attendee, 2018
The 5 Keys to Success in Assisted Living Facilities or ALFs with Gene Guarino
Notes: The New FRONTIER in Investing! with Jasmine Willois
FEBRUARY 22-23, 2019 Best Ever Conference 2019 Ellie Caulkins Opera Theatre – Denver, Colorado Learn more at BestConferenceEver.com.
“Many sessions had a wealth of content and great info. I was pleasantly surprised by the direct and current info offered by the Local Market Panel.” Atlanta attendee, 2018
How to Retire Early by Investing in Apartments with Brad Sumrok
Connect for success in 2019 at Think Realty Conference & Expos!
Local Dallas Market Panel moderated by Cathy Crowe
“Each presenter over-delivered and allowed audience participation and an interactive overall discussion.”
Baltimore attendee, 2018
To learn more about our Dallas event and to buy tickets, go to ThinkRealty.com.
The exhibit hall will be filled with over 40 vendors from 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and there will be a plethora of tools, resources and services directed at helping you achieve your real estate investment goals.
Sponsorship opportunities now available! THINKREALTY.COM
To purchase tickets to this event visit www.IndianaStateREIA.org or call 317-670-8491.
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You’ve Gone from an Investor to an Employer. NowWhat? TACKLE THE TOUCHY JOB OF HR WITH TOOLS FROM RESOURCING EDGE.
by Collin Curbo
hanks to your smart investing, you’ve passed the point of what you can manage by yourself. You’ve officially become someone’s boss! But remember that with great power comes great responsibility. Think Realty supplier, Resourcing Edge, provides a long-term strategy to control costs, reduce risks, and better manage pay- roll, human resources, employee benefits and workers’ compensation insurance. Here are three ways Resourcing Edge will help manage your business so you can focus on growing it. PAYROLLADMINISTRATION By outsourcing your payroll admin- istration, you now save time tracking timesheets, managing paid-time off, sick time, appropriately handling overtime pay, tax deductions and much more. With innovative technology, em- ployees will be able to access their own paystubs, look at tax information, bene- fits, and make changes to their personal T
information from any mobile device.
growth. But one of the often-overlooked benefits is the transfer of liability. In the eyes of the IRS and other agencies, Re- sourcing Edge has the target on their back, not yours. Almost all things that are related to compliance from an employer stand- point, you are now protected against. By outsourcing your human resources and the life cycle of your employees, you are able to significantly reduce the risk of being an employer, and save time to focus on growing your business. Studies show that businesses in relationships with firms like Resourcing Edge grow 7 to 9 percent faster on average, experience fewer turn- overs, and reduce their chance of failure by upwards of 50 percent. •
FORTUNE 100 BENEFITS WITHOUT THE FORTUNE 100 COST Through Resourcing Edge you’ll have access to a full suite of premium benefit packages that are typically found in America’s largest companies, including 401(k). Business owners as small as one employee can take advantage of mas- sive nationwide buying power, which provides savings more significant than on the open market. Resourcing Edge will handle all of the administration and payroll deductions associated with their plans, streamlining your business and keeping your team healthy. TRANSFER OF LIABILITY Clients that take advantage of relation- ships like these are able to save countless administrative hours a week and focus on the real reason they got in business: to fuel
Think Realty members receive 50% off of employer services through Resourcing Edge. Visit ThinkRealty. com/ResourcingEdge to sign up (for free!) and get started today!
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Master bedroom after
Living room after
hen it comes to Lin He’s philosophy behind real estate investing, he’ll shoot you straight. “Once in a while we get lucky, but generally speaking we make money by solving other people’s problems. We are willing and able to do the things that other people are not willing or able to do,” Lin said. “Willing and able” is an understatement when it comes to Lin’s vast experience in real estate investing. Since starting in 2008, he has flipped hundreds of homes in the Southern California area, acting as the agent, general contractor and design lead for all his projects. “[Flipping properties] can be really, really challenging for newbies,” Lin said. “Even for more experienced investors, it can still be challenging if they don't have the design and construc- tion know-how. It takes years to build upon.” Thankfully, he’d already been in the game for almost a decade when a friend approached him about a non-performing note opportunity on a Malibu home with an ocean-view. The project Malibu Mansion A YEAR-LONG DEAL DOUBLES THE ARV OF THIS OCEAN-SIDE HOME. Featured investor: Lin He W
Outside entrance after
Living room before
Size: 3,600 sq ft Location: Malibu, CA Purchase Price: $ 985,000 Rehab Budget: $ 300,000
View from house
Sale Price: $ 1,970,000
Carrying Costs & Commission: $ 285,000 Profit: $ 400,000
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turned out to be one of the most complicated deals Lin has executed. “What happened is that my friend knows the man- ager of a hedge fund in New York who buys non-per- forming notes and was liquidating their assets. This Malibu property was one of the last assets they had. So, they tried to get this guy living in the house out of the house. They couldn't, so they foreclosed on him. And then he still wouldn't move. So, it became an REO. And then they hired an REO agent to list it, but the guy still wouldn't move. So it was on the market at $1.37 million
or something. They couldn't sell it because nobody could have access to it.” “What we did was negotiate directly with the seller, which is the hedge fund. And we negotiated the deal down to $985,000.” Lin bought out his friend’s ownership in the home and eventually launched the eviction process to remove the non-paying tenant. It end- ed up taking eight months to remove the previous owner, who fought throughout the process. “It was not easy to say the least,” Lin said. Finally with access to the property, Lin began the remodel. “The remodel actually wasn't that bad itself,” he said. “I had to redesign and clean up the whole thing.” He also had to fix the leaks that showed up after a big rain. “I didn't know the roof was leaking until it started raining,” he said. “Then I found out there were leaks everywhere — in the deck, the roof, the windows, everywhere.” Other than managing the leaks, the majority of the remodel project
focused on cosmetic updates to the home, which was built in the 1980s and featured a suitable floor plan. Lin sought out to re-imagine and re-design the space to bring it to the current aesthetics. Given it’s in a prestigious Malibu neighbor- hood, he gave it a soft, modern coastal makeover. “The key to the success of the project is the design,” Lin recounted. When entering the Malibu house, guests are immediately greeted by a dramatic staircase, which Lin decided to lighten up by replacing the railings and painting all the walls white. “Everybody loves the stairs,” he noted. The ocean view closely follows the stairs as the favorite aspect of the house. Lin used the ocean’s essence in his design decisions throughout the house.
Family room 2 after
“The design is white, it's bright, it's calm, it's luxurious. It's a lot of details and high quality,” he noted. “[People who tour it] pretty much love everything about it, seriously.” He recounted how a fellow investor, who owns 12 hotels, drove two and a half hours just to see this house and told Lin, “I own a lot of real estate. I don’t have any emotional attachment to houses. But this one is special.” If that’s not enough to prove the success of this renova- tion, Lin sold the property after only three weeks on the market for $1,970,000. That’s right, he sold it for double his acquisition price. All in all, the full process from acquisition to final closing date took more than a year, required a lot of hard work, and caused a lot of stress. But, Lin’s real estate investing experi-
Family room before
Dining room after
ence, aptitude for problem-solving, and ability to handle the full scope of a deal on his own shines through all of that. “I know what it takes to be successful and it's hard,” he said, “Once in a while we can get lucky, sure, but generally speaking you're going to do hard work. And it's not an easy business. A lot of people watch the TV show flipping this, flipping that and thinking they can make easy money. But, not really.” •
Family room after
Dining room before
Lin He is the President of Rellion Inc, a premier builder, developer, and real estate investor in Southern California. Learn more at RellionInc.com or by calling (949) 209-9610.
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Specializing in Success
Ben Caballero's HomesUSA.com platform set a world record and hasn't slowed down.
I’VEALWAYS CHANGEDAS THE MARKETCHANGED, GROWN INMYREAL ESTATE BUSINESS AS THEMARKETHAS GROWN. THE KEY, TO ME, IS TOALWAYS HAVE FOCUS. SPECIALIZING IS KEYTOREAL ESTATE SUCCESS”
BY CAROLE ELLIS PHOTOS BY JASON KINDIG
BEN CABALLERO CEO & PRESIDENT, HOMESUSA.COM
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productive real estate agent in the world,” he was a real estate broker by 21 and a home builder for 18 years. Furthermore, that $1 billion benchmark he hit for the 2017 world record was not his first billion-dollar milestone. He exceeded $1 billion in 2015 for the first time and has repeated the achievement every year since. However, he is quite adamant that “the point,” as he refers to it, is not the numbers but the overall growth for his clients and his real estate business. “I’ve always changed as the market changed and grown in my real estate business as the market has grown. To me the key is to always have focus. Specializing is key to real estate success,” Caballero said. “I’ve never said, ‘I’m a real estate broker and I’ll do whatever you need,’ to my clients. The most important thing is to focus and be willing to refine what you do to meet your clients’ needs and your business’ needs.” Caballero’s intense focus created his incredibly wide present-day reach. In 2003, Caballero already had
plenty of experience with the unique needs of home builders, but he realized something more was needed to facilitate the sales process between builder and the owner-occupant buyer. That realization led to the multiyear development process that ultimately yielded the HomesUSA. com platform, which serves as an interface between realtors and builders and streamlines the listing process for both. “I had been insuring the sale of homes for people buying new homes so builders could sell homes without contingency agreements. Essentially, a buyer would come to my company to get a committed offer from us on their home so that they could buy a new home without including a sale contingency, which most builders cannot accept,” Caballero explained. “We were, essentially, ibuyers, in 1988.” Before that stage in his business, Caballero had been a builder himself. “I have always been involved in home-building in some capacity,” he said. In 2003, however, it became clear to Caballero that Texas builders needed a
YOU MIGHT THINK SETTING A Guinness World Record for being the most productive real estate agent in the world would be the peak of any real estate professional's career, but when Ben Caballero, CEO and president of HomesUSA.com, earned the title, he was just getting started. In fact, after qualifying for the 2017 recognition by submitting his sales volumes and totals (3,556 home sales for $1.444 billion) for 2016 to Guinness, Caballero followed that up by selling 4,799 homes for $1.9 billion in 2017. “I think you can only submit every two years, so we will evaluate and make our decision about resubmitting after the close of 2018,” he said mildly. “Really, the point is more to enjoy real estate and keep moving forward. I don’t like backward.” Caballero certainly has very little familiarity with moving backward. Before becoming the certified “most
The HomesUSA.com team (left to right): David Cate, Lemna Parker, Wendy Copeland, Alyssa Staats, Ben Caballero, and Amy May
IBUYER: An investor or investing
Ben Caballero CEO & President of HomesUSA.com
business that uses automated valuation models (AVMs) to make instant offers on homes to clients.
Professional Achievements, Titles & Recognitions:
platform to manage their homes in MLS and market the properties to real estate agents and realtors. “I started working on the platform software in 2003, had a couple false starts, and launched it in 2007, right in the middle of the housing crash,” he recalled. “I remember thinking, ‘If I were really so smart, I wouldn’t have timed it this way.” In the two years following the launch of the HomesUSA.com platform, however, his sales volume fell by about 5 percent. By comparison, local sales volumes fell by more than 50 percent. “I felt like I was doing pretty well, even though our market was down,” Caballero
said. By the time the recession was over, he had refined the platform to perfectly suit the highly individualized needs of his very high-volume clients. “We are always refining and improving the platform. As more clients adopt it, they tell us about their needs and we continue to refine it. It is always amazing to me the details you can adjust to make things even better.”
• Named “Most Innovative Real Estate Agent” by Inman News (2013) • Presented with the Keller Williams Pinnacle Award for Real Estate Entrepreneurship (2014) • Finalist for “Most Innovative Real Estate Agent” for Inman (2016, 2018) • Recognized as an “Industry Influencer” by Inman (2017)
A clause in a contract that defines a condition or action that must be met before a real estate contract can become binding. For example, a buyer might include a contingency clause stating they will only close on a property if they are able to sell their current home first. (Also known as a contingency clause)
PROFILING, BUT IN AGOODWAY
• Named a “Top Trendsetter” by Swanepoel (2017)
Caballero describes his platform as a series of profiles that overlap and complement each other in order
Caballero (left) confers with MLS Listing Coordinators Amy May (center) and Wendy Copeland (right).
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WHY SPECIALIZATION SUPPORTS SUCCESS
Ben Caballero believes his astronomical success in real estate is due in large part to his determination to focus on a specific area in real estate and excel in that area. “The most important thing for anyone hoping to succeed in real estate is to have a purpose,” he said. “Purpose is the way that you live your life. Your core belief. “For instance, if I were going to build homes, what would my purpose be for that? To make a lot of money? To create beautiful palaces to showcase my talent and creativity? Or to create homes for people with a specific need, such as middle- or low-income families? “Whatever your purpose, once you have it, make that purpose your focus and learn everything you can about your client so that you are building specifically for them — not for yourself, not to make money and not for your ego. You have to build your real estate business, whatever part of the industry you serve, around the needs of your client. “I have learned through the building business that the people who are successful are those who build for the client, have true care for the client and have made meeting that client’s needs their purpose.” Caballero went on to say that, although it helps, serving the client does not have to be a personal passion but must become a real estate professional’s specialty in order to yield massive success. “When you focus and specialize, you naturally develop ideas. There is no magic to being creative. You listen, observe, are curious, ask questions, and solve
25,248 Homes Caballero sold between 2004 and 2017, for total sales volume of $8.621 billion .
3,556 Total home sales in 2016.
“I never really thought about setting any kind of record. One day, I realized, ‘By golly, I think I may be doing a lot more business than other people.’ I started checking and saw the number-one guy (according to Real Trends) did about 1,200 sales at the time, and I did 2,200 the same year. I submitted my numbers to Real Trends and became top-ranked. I was so far ahead than anyone else, and one day it dawned onme that maybe it’s time to see if my numbers would qualify for a Guinness world record.’We applied; they accepted us, and that was that.”
information, geographic proximities, and even construction materials,” he explained. “There are a lot of things a builder can log once about their development, and we can log once about a certain area or community that then do not change very often. We can change the information if we need to, but we do not usually need to. By comparison, the same process without the platform might take 20 minutes to an hour just to input data. With HomesUSA.com, when we receive the builder’s request, it goes into a queue and turns that data into a listing in an average of 13 minutes,” Caballero concluded.
problems. That makes you creative in your specific area,” he said. “Of course some ideas will fail. With purpose, however, it is much easier to overcome those setbacks because you are focused on a bigger picture.”
4,799 Total home sales in 2017.
#1 Caballero’s rank in the world for both number of real estate sales transactions and cumulative transaction (dollar) volume.
to create a system designed especially to interface between builders and real estate professionals. “We work off profiles: community, plan, and builder profiles to start, then ZIP code information, school district
8 Years Caballero has been ranked first in these two categories.
Ben Caballero on setting the GuinnessWorld Record for being the most productive agent in real estate
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You invest. We protect. THERE IS AGUARD FOR YOU
LOOKING FORWARD: MIXED SIGNALS IN HOUSING
Multiplied by 4,799, Caballero’s platform saved builders a minimum of 23,995 minutes in 2017 alone. That’s nearly 400 hours spent doing something other than creating listings for their properties. Consider that the entire platform is custom-designed to fact-check itself for accuracy, and the appeal for builders and agents becomes obvious. “Say a builder sells a home for $350,000, but their admin accidentally puts in an extra zero, so now that home is submitted to us at $3.5 million. The program will kick it back as not fitting the profile and the error is caught and rectified,” he said. Ben Caballero is quick to point out that no matter how things ended in 2018 in any given market, the overall year was a great one. “There is a reason there were so many stories in the industry media calling Dallas the best market in the country last year,” he said. However, he warned, there may be a few potential gray clouds on the horizon. “I’m not ready to push the panic button yet,” he emphasized, noting that 2019 will see HomesUSA.com enter the national marketplace. “We are in the last stages of our redevelopment of a platform that will make it much more powerful and robust than the one we have currently. We will be focused on serving national builders in addition to our Texas builders and, through our HomesUSA Alliance, bringing agents and builders together to make selling new homes easier. We created a continuing education course to teach agents how to better sell new homes. When completed, agents receive a new-home sales certification. I also have a series of podcasts designed to help builders and agents work well together,” he said. Learn more about Ben Caballero’s podcasts and HomesUSA Alliance at HomesUSA.com.
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helps you perform under pressure and, furthermore, perform your best.” • Ben Caballerowill deliver the keynote presentation at Think Realty’s National Conference & Expo inDallas, Texas, on Saturday, February 16, 2018.
APLATFORMWITHAPURPOSE Caballero credits the development of the HomesUSA.com platform to his single-minded focus on serving a specific population within the real estate industry with a single, clearly stated purpose. “Our guiding principle is that homes sell faster when their beauty and quality is reflected in the MLS,” he explained. “We believe we do this better than anyone else, and that helps us see clearly when we are working to solve a problem. People around us may wonder how we make things work, but purpose
Carole Ellis serves as the news editor and COO of Self-Directed Investor (SDI) Society, a membership organization dedicated to the needs of self-directed investors
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interested in alternative investment vehicles, including real estate. Learn more at SelfDirected.org or reach Carole directly by emailing Carole@selfdirected.org.
thinkrealty . com | 23 National Real Estate Insurance Group is the nation’s leading agency offering coverage options for real estate investors across the country. Our lineup of products includes: REIGuard™, LandlordGuard, PMGuard, TurnkeyGuard, LenderGuard, and CommercialGuard.
22 | think realty magazine :: january / february 2019
GOING BIG: MARKETING & LEAD GENERATION
ple search Keywords like, “sell my house fast Indianapolis”, our website pops up at the top of the Google search. They click on that link to fill out our form, and voilà. We have a highly motivated lead. FACEBOOK ADVERTISING you like, are interested in, and search for. As a result, we pay for marketing ads through Facebook to reach peo- ple who are interested in selling their house. All they have to do is click on the Facebook link and it takes them right to our website to fill out a form. COLD-CALLING their phone numbers. We then call them to gauge their interest in selling their proper- ty, providing a cheaper, but more time-in- tensive alternative to direct mail. NETWORKING A large part of our business comes from networking with other wholesalers and real estate agents at events, REIAs or meetups. By creating your brand and talking to everyone in your market, leads will start coming to you. Facebook has it dialed in when it comes to adver- tising. They know what We conduct "skiptracing" on the same lists we have for direct mail to generate
Find Your Math Problem to Generate Leads and Success QUANTITY MATTERS WHEN SEARCHING FOR THE RIGHT INVESTMENT DEAL.
home. These may be owners that are behind on their property taxes, have inherited a property, have bad credit, have city violations against them, or just can’t keep up with the property for whatever reason. We send them mail seven or eight times a year. We send a variety of mailers to reach the different personalities of the homeowners; simple postcard, professional postcard, hand- written letter, urgent notice, business letter or invitation style. We send out these mailers in hopes of the homeown- er giving us a call because they want to sell their home.
You could find deals on the MLS, then counter and negotiate with agents to still find deals at the right price for you. Today, investors have to be more creative with how they are generating their leads as the sources are frequently changing from market to market. Off-market deals, or those not listed on the MLS, Zillow, Trulia or property listing sites, are the best deals to find for yourself and your investors. Here are some things we do in the Indianap- olis area to find the deals that no one else knows about and generate as many leads as we can. DIRECT MAIL
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Brett Snodgrass is the Owner & CEO of SimpleWholesaling, a company focused on bringing opportunity to real estate investors as the buy and
by Brett Snodgrass and Brian Snider
o be a successful real estate investor, it's all about generating leads to find the right property in which to invest. As the founders of a growing whole- saling business in Indianapolis, Indiana, we approach finding the right properties as a math problem. We know that it's a numbers game, and we are looking for T
the formula to help solve the problem. Let's look at direct mail as an exam- ple. You have to send a certain number of letters to receive a certain number of phone calls, which will, in turn, gen- erate a certain number of investment candidates. The candidates will produce a certain number of walkthroughs and purchase agreements, which finally
generates the number of properties we turn over in a month. Many people think that real estate in- vesting starts with the property you buy. But there is so much more that needs to happen before that property even comes across your computer. Ten years ago, the MLS was basical- ly everyone’s lead generation source.
sell properties in the Indianapolis area. Learn more at SimpleWholesaling.com or email him at email@example.com.
Brian Snider is the Director of Operations at SimpleWholesaling. Email him at
PAY PER CLICK ADS (PPC) We have a website that we advertise through Google AdWords so that when peo-
firstname.lastname@example.org or check out Brett and Brian on The SimpleWholesaling Podcast available on iTunes, SimpleWholesaling/com/ simple-wholesaling-podcast.
We gather a list of home- owners who we think may be motivated to sell their
24 | think realty magazine :: january / february 2019
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GOING BIG: MARKETING & LEAD GENERATION
WORKING WITH AGENTS
More Money in Your Pockets As a rental property owner, you benefit from excellent returns and mitigate financial risk from a diversified portfolio. You realize tax advantages of depreciation, operating cost deductions, and deferred capital gains. You can also benefit from a positive cash flow from rental income. More Time in Your Day The biggest complaint property investors have about their rental properties is the time required to manage them. By hiring your local Real Property Management office, you can eliminate this burden. Real Property Management will find and screen tenants, collect rents, manage maintenance, deal with tenant concerns, enforce the lease, handle the bookkeeping, and keep you informed about your property. More Tangible Assets in Your Portfolio Freeing up your time and capital make it possible for you to continue investing in additional properties that will increase in value and add to your portfolio. MORE MONEY, MORE TIME, MORE INVESTMENTS. GET MORE WITH REAL PROPERTY MANAGEMENT
Building Your Investor Network with a Realtor WORKING WITH A REALTOR CAN GENERATE LEADS AND INSIDE ACCESS FOR INVESTMENTS.
orking with a real estate agent is a great way for investors to diversify their lead sources, and get access to deals before they even hit the market. Success- ful relationships with agents take a spe- cial set of skills. Since agents are used to working with owner-occupants who are often more emotionally attached to their properties, investors can be a breath of fresh air to agents. Use this to your advantage! A good relationship with a realtor has many benefits. As a realtor myself, I know firsthand the benefits of working closely with investors. One of the biggest benefits is the access this relationship affords both parties. Here’s what I mean when I say “access”: WHEN REALTORSWORK CLOSELYWITH INVESTORS, INVESTORS GETACCESS TO OFF-MARKET PROPERTIES Any realtor can show properties that are well-priced on MLS, but a relation- W
ship with a real estate agent who under- stands the deal specs an investor prefers can lead them to specific deals that suit their investor clients. It also benefits the realtor, since investors are much more likely to take distressed properties off of your hands than an owner-occupant might be. Investors with a large amount of cash to work with are hugely benefi- cial in these cases. Some sellers just want to sell quickly and don’t want to list on MLS, and an investor with cash won’t need to go through the loan process in order to be able to acquire the property. Being able to offer a seller a quick sale may mean both parties win. The seller can move quickly and the investor gets a great deal. Realtors also regularly work with estates and real estate clients who know about properties coming in. These are easy leads for them to feed to an investor they know is ready to make an offer. Re- altors also do mass mailings to neighbor- hoods looking for properties to list. Not
only can these mailings lead to off-mar- ket, distressed properties, but if they know exactly what type of deal you’re looking for as an investor, they’ll likely give you first pass at making an offer. WHEN REALTORSWORK CLOSELYWITH INVESTORS, THEYBOTH GETACCESS TO EACH OTHER’S NETWORKS Both real estate agents and real estate investors are notorious for their excellent networks. Realtors work with lenders, lawyers and title companies on a regular basis and can be a great resource for investors needing these services as well.
The future of owning rental homes is professional property management. Visit RealPropertyMgt.com or call 888.806.7088
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Kristin Weekley is a real estate agent with Laer Realty Partners. She may be reached at KWeekley@LAERrealty.com.
Each office is independently owned and operated. © 2018 Property Management Business Solutions, LLC.
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GOING BIG: MARKETING & LEAD GENERATION
CAMPAIGN #1: HANDWRITTEN POSTCARDS
CAMPAIGN #2: BRAND AWARENESS POSTCARDS
Greater Detroit Metro
Absentee homeowners, single-family dwelling unit (SFDU) individuals who own a home in Metro Detroit but have their property taxes out of state Mailing list: Marketing schedule: Three mailings of 1,000 pieces over four months Return on investment: 11,658% 62 responses, one home bought and sold with a 2nd recently acquired and a 3rd in the pipeline, plus $162,000 in revenue and $37,500 in profit. Results:
Mailing list: Seniors age 65+
Marketing schedule: Two mailings in two months (more than 8,000 cards mailed) Return on investment: 316%
82 responses and $20,000 in income
Direct Mail Proof: Real Campaigns Netting Up to $100,000 Per Month PRINT MAIL MARKETING IS FAR FROM DEAD, ESPECIALLY FOR REAL ESTATE INVESTORS.
This postcard is a great example because it contains a number of elements commonly used in real estate investment postcard marketing because they work. These elements include: • Personalized/variable data: This card contains four data sets that are unique to each and every recipient: the salutation (Mr., Ms., etc.), last name, date and property address. Customization like this attracts extra attention by speaking directly to each recipient, and it can increase response rate by more than 100%. • Handwritten font: This builds on the personalized touch I just mentioned above. Think about it. Don't you linger a little longer on pieces of mail that don't look like the typical coupon book? • A unique mailing list: You'll have to do a little recon on your competition to figure this one out but, if you can, mail to a list that isn't likely to be targeted by another investor.
by Joy Gendusa
ny good real estate investment starts first and foremost with finding the best deal. And that's where a smart direct mail marketing campaign comes in. If you're looking for a direct mail article with general advice — get a good list, mail every month, et cetera — move along. I'm bringing you REAL campaigns with proof of what works for investors nationwide. My company, PostcardMania, tracks the campaigns of our own clientele in order to share winning strategies with other entrepreneurs. You don't have to be a client of mine to access this data either. It’s available to everyone. You get to analyze the data, lists, design and most impor- tantly, the results.
Results like: 502 responses, 13 new homes closed and $100,000 per month in revenue.
I understand that an operation of that size may not be fea- sible for every investor out there. Quickly taking on 13 new properties is a huge undertaking for more than one reason! But results like those above highlight the beauty of direct mail marketing. The sky is the limit, but you can, and should, scale to your budget and needs. So, like I promised, let's get to it!
This campaign forgoes the traditional personal letter style in favor of a clean and direct message. Here's why this one works:
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• Crystal-clear messaging: You don't have to squint an eye to see that this company wants to buy your home. Their message can be absorbed in a blink. • Repeat mailings: If your budget is small, save on your list by niching-down and reaching the same people a minimum of three times to build momentum. Repeating your message results in greater awareness and better retention. • Affordable printing: Variable data is an REI mainstay because it works, but it might not work for your budget. A more general campaign like this one can be printed at a much lower cost than the first example.
CAMPAIGN #3: YELLOW NOTICE POSTCARDS
I saved the best for last! With results like these, can you blame me?
This campaign might be my favorite because it's actually the best of both worlds between the two previous campaigns. Let me explain: • Variable data is featured but scaled back: This lets them save money on printing while still drawing attention to the card. • Yellow letter format proves itself again and again: This one does it even better by jumping right to a "third notice," which creates a leap in urgency. • Clear, no-strings call to action: This company uses a tried and true "listen to my recorded message" call to action that works because it is a very low- commitment method to capture a lead — and a phone number at that! I'll take phone number leads all day over just an email.
Marketing schedule: 7,200 postcards per month, mailed every month
3,421% after three months of mailing
Return on investment:
Results (after just three months):
502 unique calls, 13 new homes
purchased and $96,900 in immediate revenue with year-long projections to generate $60,000–$100,000 per month
Joy Gendusa is the Founder/CEO at PostcardMania, a marketing company specializing in lead generation serving over 82,000 small business owners. Learn more at PostcardMania.com/ThinkRealty or contact Joy at email@example.com.
30 | think realty magazine :: january / february 2019
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