The 4 Steps to Getting a Fat Check in Real Estate Investing

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I went to my regular monthly real estate investor’s meeting this past week, and we had a national speaker that I have heard many times; Robyn Thompson. Even though I have heard her speak many times, I still enjoy hearing about her business. She does have some interesting stories. She is quick to tell you about her failures and her successes. Robyn just lays it all out there; the good, the bad and the ugly. I believe the reason real estate investors everywhere like her so much is that she is so authentic; she is just a regular person.

Most of you probably also know that she is the person that trained Than Merrill and Paul Esajian of “Fortune Builders” and the “Flip This House” TV show. Robin touched on some points during her presentation that I think bear repeating, and at least will serve as a reminder for things we already know but maybe have forgotten or aren’t doing consistently.

One of those point is that there are really only 4 steps to getting a fat check in this business of real estate investing.

The 4 Steps in Real Estate Investing To a Fat Check

  • Find a high profit deal
  • Find the money
  • Fix the house (if you are a rehabber)
  • Sell the house.

At its essence, real estate investing is a very simple concept, but I am the first person to tell you that it’s not always easy. So let’s break down the steps a little.

Find a High Profit Deal

Marketing. Finding a high profit deal only comes from one thing; marketing. You have to get good at marketing to succeed in this business.

The type of marketing you do will be greatly influenced by your skills, your experience and your budget. In the beginning when folks are just getting started they usually turn to Bandit Signs especially if money is tight. There have been a whole lot of posts here about both the positive and negative aspects of Bandit Signs. But the fact remains that they do work. If you are short on cash, put out some cheap signs to get your first deal. Then you will have some marketing money.

Networking. Begin by simply hanging out at your monthly REIA meeting and network. A lot of folks don’t think about this as marketing, but it is; marketing yourself and your business. You have to get over your fear of walking up to strangers, introducing yourself and shaking hands. In a couple of years you will look up one day and realize that you talk to strangers everywhere. You want people to remember you when they have a deal to sell or you have a house you need to sell.

Direct Mail. Move into direct mail as soon as you can. It is hands down the best source of leads for most seasoned real estate investors.

Website. Get a website. Once again, there are a lot of articles here on BiggerPockets that will tell you how you can get a free or low cost website. It doesn’t have to be perfect; just get one. Tweak it and perfect it later.

Find the Money

You must have a source of money to do this business. You can get by in the beginning with little or no money if you are a wholesaler. But in any other niche, you will need a source of cash right from the beginning.

I don’t need to go over this step, because Brandon Turner covered all of this in his in-depth post about a week ago. You can find that post here. Investment Property Loans: The Ultimate Guide.

Fix the House

If you are a wholesaler you will be skipping this step; the actual “fixing”. Does this mean you don’t need to know about repairs and the costs associated with rehabbing a property? Not a chance!

You can’t begin to make offers as a wholesaler if you don’t know how to determine the cost of repairs needed. Don’t stress out too much over this though, because there are ways you can learn this process. And just remember that unless you are a contractor or already work in a similar field, everyone has this same learning curve.

Sell the House

This step has different meanings depending on which real estate investing strategy you are working with.

If you are a wholesaler, one of your top priorities should be building a cash buyer’s list. When you get a property under contract, you will need to move it quickly. Never stop building your list.

If you are a rehabber, you will need a system for “getting the word out” about your property. You can do this even before the work is completely done, and there are a number of ways to do this.

  • Put a “For Sale” sign in the yard when the house is almost done. Be sure you have one of those flyer boxes on the sign and load it up with flyers. Say something like “act now and pick your carpet colors”, or “call today to find out if you can qualify for this beautiful, newly renovate home”.
  • Offer a “good neighbor” bonus for referrals. Put this on all of your flyers. Be sure to blanket the neighborhood with your flyers too.
  • When someone calls, let them know the house will be finished and available soon. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the house sold before it’s even finished?
  • If you are a rehabber, how about keeping a list of those folks that didn’t buy your most recent house and find out why not? What is it that they were looking for that wasn’t included in your property? Would they be interested in a different house if you could provide those things? Build your own “buyer’s list”.
  • If their credit didn’t quite make the grade, can you help fix that and make them a buyer in 6 months or a year? I’m not suggesting that you babysit these folks, but rather that you refer them to a mortgage person that can help them with the process so they become a qualified buyer for you down the road.

One Last Tip

Before you sign a contract with a buyer for your newly rehabbed house and take it off the market for a couple of months while they wait for approval, ask your buyer to get their loan “LP DU” approved. Make sure your buyer has actually been approved “to buy”.

That means that they have sat down with a mortgage person and had all of their information put through two computer programs; Loan Prospector and Desktop Underwriter. This process will give them the OK to buy.

Do you have any more tips to share? I would love to hear them.

Photo: Chris Bevan

About Author

Sharon Vornholt

Sharon has been investing in real estate since 1998. She owned and operated a successful home inspection company for 17 years. In January of 2008 she took the leap of closing her business to become a full time real estate investor.


  1. What a concise article, Sharon. Fantastic!

    And the checks don’t always need to be fat. We are thrilled to consistently hit singles so that the home run is even sweeter. I have watched many investors pass on good deals waiting for the big one to come along. A bunch of little checks will be just as sweet as one fat check, for sure!

    Thanks for the post (and Robyn is a great speaker!).

    • Sharon Vornholt

      Alison –

      She is great. I have heard her speak many times, but I still enjoy it every time. Robyn knows what works and she is great at teaching. But what she really excels at is giving people courage; the courage to step out of their comfort zone and try. You really can see after listening to her that anyone can succeed at this business of real estate investing.

      If she offers an additional seminar be sure to go. It will be worth it.


    • Sharon Vornholt

      Be sure to do that Brandon. You won’t be disappointed!

      In her 3rd year in business she rehabbed 51 houses. They don’t call her the “queen of rehab” for no reason. She is quite impressive to listen to; she’s definitely not your typical “guru” type. She’s just plan Robyn. Thanks for your comments.


  2. Anthony Sera on

    Thanks for the article Sharon. I read up a little bit on “LP DU” approvals, very interesting. What do you typically request back from the buyers to validate that they are indeed LP/DU approved?

    • Sharon Vornholt

      Anthony –

      I don’t sell to retail buyers, but they feed all of the person’s information into a computer and the loan officer has the OK in 20-30 minutes; in just about the amount of time it takes to enter everything in. The company issuing the loan can provide the paperwork.

      It is kind of an “immediate approval” process.


  3. Nice article Sharon,

    You just gotta luv Robyn & I’ve seen her speak many times as well.
    She keeps it nice & simple but she really does have a smart & concise process and is definitely an authentic leader in her space.

    Dave Van Horn

    • Dev –

      She is a great teacher and motivator. Another thing that she does really well is create systems. She told me the other night she travels about a 180 days a year. The systems she has created for her staff are one reason she is still able to rehab so many houses. Thanks for reading.


  4. Tracy Royce

    Love listening to Robyn speak; she’s quite the well of information. And long-lasting in this business, I might add. Good reiteration and thanks for sharing; solid advice can never be repeated enough. Cheers.

  5. Great way to simplify it Sharon. There is a big difference between easy and simple and you explain this well.
    Does Robin ever come to the Boston Area. That is interesting that she taught Paul and Than.
    And look at them now.

    • Mike –

      I’m sure she does. She said she travels 180+ days a year. She has a phone number on her site Her office will know when she is speaking at the REIA’s around the country. I hope you get the opportunity to see her. Her stories are awesome.


    • She spoke at the Boston AREIA like 4-5 years ago, I think while she was still in CT before moving to FL.
      She was awesome. Definitely one of the best national speakers I have ever seen.
      First Guru course I ever bought too. 🙂

      On that topic I will say that her stuff is pretty good. Anything like that will only be as good as your implementation but things I learned from it was actually helpful when I was getting my business started.

      • Sharon Vornholt

        Shaun –

        She was in CT; Waterbury to be exact. She moved down to Ocala a few years back, and how lives on a horse farm. I have some of her courses and have attended a number of her seminars.

        Hands down, she has some of the best training out there especially for rehabbers. And oh the stories she has to tell ….. Like you said, you actually have to implement it! She is really good at systems and getting her houses sold fast.


  6. Sharon Vornholt

    Dennis –

    “…so they become a qualified buyer for you down the road”. This means they can’t buy your house or anyone’s house now because of credit issues. You don’t take the house off the market and wait for them. You sell that house to another buyer.

    But rather than lose this potential lead altogether, a rehabber would send them over to a mortgage lender that would help them fix their credit issues. Why would they do that? Because they get a commission every time they do a loan. Loan officers do this all the time.

    The rehabber would periodically follow up with this person to see how the process is coming. If and when they clean up their credit, he would have a different house he would sell them. If they could qualify for a house for 100k and he didn’t have one, he would simply look for a house in their price range in the area they want to buy. The investor would rehab that house for these buyers. It’s the same process but in reverse; he would have the buyer first and then find them a house.

    This process is just simply about not losing the lead altogether because they can’t qualify now. An alternative would be to do a lease option for these folks now, and sell them the house later.


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