Real Estate Marketing

How I Landed My First Real Estate Deal With a $39/Month Marketing Budget

Expertise: Real Estate Wholesaling, Real Estate Marketing, Business Management, Personal Development, Flipping Houses
65 Articles Written
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I was broke when I first learned about creative real estate. I studied creative real estate for a year before taking any real action. I was working second shift at my job and had to use my vacation time to attend REIA meetings. I really wanted this to work because being an employee for the rest of my life was not in my vision. I volunteered for my REIA for two years straight. After one year of learning, I did not quit my job; I changed jobs to a first shift job, which allowed me to run my business better. I was also approached by a local mentor who had consistently seen me attend the meetings. He offered his services to me for no money up front. I had to split my deals with him.

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I agreed, and unlike many, I actually followed through. I did not let life problems stop me.

Related: How to Embrace the Uncertainty of Change & Make Your First Deal

My $39/Month Marketing Scheme

Alright, so the "secret" 39-dollar-a-month marketing strategy was to get pre-stamped postcards from the post office and to write a simple offer on them. I would write, "I want to buy your house at 123 main street. Please call 123-456-7891. Sincerely, Nasar." That marketing piece worked like a charm back when I was doing this in 2011. A postcard stamp was 36 cents. A pre-stamped postcard was 39 cents. I would buy 100 of them from the post office website. I would send out between 60-80 postcards a month.

As far as getting the leads, I was driving for dollars. I would get up every Saturday morning and pick out a neighborhood to farm it. I would look for tall grass, beaten up houses, old roofs, boarded up homes, just basically ugly houses. I did this consistently for 8 months. I would look for leads on Saturday, then I would spend Sunday cross referencing them on our city's assessment site.

I tell people to farm neighborhoods now, and they come back with 10 addresses. I used to stay out there for 2-3 hours and come back with at least 100 addresses. Remember, the more leads you get, the better chance of getting more deals. You might want to keep that in mind before coming back with 10 addresses. I also would focus on lower income neighborhoods because you will find a lot of tired landlords there. I can tell you stories about me farming neighborhoods in the seedy parts of town and prostitutes with no teeth running up to me because I was driving slowly, even stopping at some houses. I would simply give them my card that said I would pay 500 dollars for referral of a house.

Anyway, after doing the leg work on Saturday, on Sunday I would look at the city assessment site to see if the property was bank owned or privately owned. If it was bank owned, I would not mail. After going through my list to see who fit my criteria to actually mail, out of 100, it would be maybe 25. I would put them in the mail on Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday, I would get a bunch of calls coming in. With my experience now, I would have closed more deals sooner — because I have more tools in the toolbox. However, at the time I was building up my confidence and negotiation skills and getting better at evaluating deals.

Finally, a homeowner was willing to give me his house because he was tired, and the house needed a lot of work. I got the house for $13k, sold it for $15k and made $2k. After paying my mentor, I took home $1,300. I blew that $1,300 dollars in two failed marketing campaigns. It happens! I did not give up, though.

Related: 5 Ways to Build Your Credibility – Even Before Doing Your First Real Estate Deal

The Moral of the Story

In conclusion, as you just read, I was able to get away with a $39 marketing budget. However, being that I started out with so little, I had a lot of work to do. If you don’t have a lot of money, please be willing to put in a lot of work. With real estate, it’s not the folks who start with the most money who become successful investors; it’s the people who are willing to work the hardest.

What’s the story of your first deal? What advice would you give to the newbie looking to jump in?

Leave your comments below!

Nasar El-arabi has been involved in real estate for 12 years. During those 12 years, Nasar has wholesaled houses, rehabbed properties, built new properties, created a buy and hold portfolio, and fl...
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    Arthur Banks Real Estate Investor from Waukegan, Illinois
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Good stuff!
    Nasar Elarabi
    Replied over 5 years ago
    thanks
    Steven McPherson from Fort Worth, Texas
    Replied almost 5 years ago
    Nasar, where do you buy your pre-stamped post cards? Can you find them on the USPS website or do you go in person to the post office to buy them?
    James Hiddle from Altus, Oklahoma
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Nice article thanks.
    Nasar Elarabi
    Replied over 5 years ago
    No problem thanks for reading
    Angel Rosado from Bronx, New York
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Great article especially for someone who is just starting out and has a low budget. I am planning to do the same thing mentioned in the article of attending local REI meetings to meet people and learn about the market. Fortunately, I am not afraid of hard work and hope that I can use methods such as your creative marketing to enter the Real Estate Investing Realm
    Nasar Elarabi
    Replied over 5 years ago
    thank you and you sure can use these methods..
    Randy Reed Real Estate Professional from Odenville, Alabama
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Everyday hustling can get the job done. Good work, Nasar!
    Nasar Elarabi
    Replied over 5 years ago
    thanks for reading
    Brooks Rembert Rental Property Investor from Woodbridge, VA
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Hustle is definitely the key. Great post
    Nasar Elarabi
    Replied over 5 years ago
    thanks so much for reading
    Wes Eaves Real Estate Broker from Brandon, FL
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Great post and motivation for those on a smaller budget and looking to take action!
    Nasar Elarabi
    Replied over 5 years ago
    thanks man
    C. Keoki Cortez from Mayhill, New Mexico
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Wonderfully inspiring story about determination, elbow grease, and acquiring mentorship! We too have a limited budget but have a very good mentor who knows options that will provide us with opportunities in real estate investing.
    Nasar Elarabi
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Yup as long as you are willing to take action you will be ok
    Brian Huber Investor Agent from Burke, Virginia
    Replied over 5 years ago
    how many times did you mail each address?
    Nasar Elarabi
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Once
    Kevin Ramirez Nieto Wholesaler from Raleigh, NC
    Replied over 5 years ago
    @nasarelarabi Great post man! I actually got very lucky with one of my first deals. It was my first week using google ad words I had spend 11 dollars total when I got a lead that landed me a 60K flip. Driving for dollars is something I have been meaning to do, even though it is easy it takes time. keep them coming man!
    Nasar Elarabi
    Replied over 5 years ago
    WOW you were fortunate good work.. And thanks for reading
    Jabari Brooks Homeowner from Bossier City , Louisiana
    Replied over 5 years ago
    “persistence and determination are omnipotent” Great Story.
    Randy Phillips
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Good story, I had less marketing budget than you when I started a few years ago, no job. I ran ads in Craig’s List that I buy Houses. An elderly couple called and had a house she described as needing to be tore down. She wanted 50K I offered 15K Every few weeks I wud txt them to see if they were ready to sell. Finally she tells they will take 40. I explained if the houses was in good condition I cud 40. After 3-4 months she text me and asks if I can 20K, I told her I can come up to 16. She tells me they will think about it. The very next morning I get a txt that they will take the 16K I jumped in a borrowed car and drove 45 minutes to a rural town and pulled up to her wire fence with 6 dogs of all sizes greeting me, luckily all friendly. I was shocked at the condition of the house and the 1/2 acre lot. The back yard was full of old sheds that wer full of junk, even piled high on the roofs with old bicycles, lawnmowers, washing machines, even old boats and motor homes along with chickens and goats and ducks and pigeons. The house was in horrible shape, the roof sagging, rafter tails rotted, the interior was stacked floor to ceiling with junk also, light switches didn’t work, front door was delaminating, bathroom was gutted down to the studs. We sat down on an old picnic table under a big shade tree and I got their signature on my contract and gave them a $5 earnest deposit. the old couple were really cute and I actually felt right at home as I grew up in a similar environment. As I drove away I wondered if I made a mistake, will anybody want this Okie Hillbilly Haven. Well, Lo and Behold I placed another ad on CL and had it sold for 26K in 24 hrs. I emailed the buyer a few months later and he tells me he spent $18,000 on dumpsters and labor just to haul everything out of there and still hadn’t done anything to the house. A few months later he tells me he will sell it for 45K I again get it on contract and flipped it for 50, crazy story but all true. Rando
    Nasar Elarabi
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Randy wow, Thanks for sharing that story. Talk about double dipping.. lol Good stuff man
    Freddie Lawson Real Estate Investor from Tampa, Florida
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Really Cool Story Randy; the power of persistence and staying focused.
    Manolo D. Contractor from Los Angeles, California
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Haha, prostitutes with no teeth! priceless! I have a similar version but in digital form sendoutcards.com, it worked on my other business – medical billing.
    Nasar Elarabi
    Replied over 5 years ago
    lol yeah man it gets crazy in the trenches..
    Deshan Kennedy Real Estate Agent from Fredericksburg, VA
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Great article! I see your in Charlotte, NC. Has this strategy worked in the Carolinas for you?
    Nasar Elarabi
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Yes, thats where it was done at.. Thanks for reading
    Efua Aidoo Investor from Silver Spring, Maryland
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Thank you for sharing this. It was incredibly informative. Quick question, can you tell me more about the city assessment site you used to see if the property was bank owned or privately owned? Ive google and can’t seem to find anything on my end. Thank you.
    Laquita Langley Care desk Speclist from Orlando, Florida
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Awesome testimony. Thank you got sharing.
    Nasar Elarabi
    Replied over 5 years ago
    no problem and thank you for reading
    Larry Russell
    Replied over 5 years ago
    This is a great article that demonstrates how anything is possible if you set your mind to it!
    Matt Aspen Engineer from Pleasanton, California
    Replied over 5 years ago
    I liked your article. Can you tell me more about “city assessment site to see if the property was bank owned or privately owned”? Where I live, in the Bay Area, there is a number I have to call to find out the full name of the property’s owner. There is a separate website where I can find deeds etc BUT this only shows the document numbers. To view the actual documents, I’d have to visit the assessor’s office.
    Rachael Collins Investor from Frazier Park, California
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Thanks for sharing and reminding us all that you get out what you put in. Great job hanging in there even after all the road blocks-inspiring!!!
    Andrew Cordle from Alpharetta, Georgia
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Great post and great advice!
    Darren Sager Investor from Summit, NJ
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Great article Nasar. I can’t tell you how many times in the last 6 months I’ve gotten offers on my rentals. I think a little work needs to go into it though. The last one I got (literally three days ago) was hand written on a yellow piece of paper from a notepad. I personally wouldn’t take that person seriously that they had the cash to purchase that house, but still they were trying none the less which is all it’s about! I enjoyed your Podcast as well. Too bad you left NJ! We should have you back!
    Victor Crispin from New York City, New York
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Very good article, teaches a lot about willpower and persistence.
    Erik Orozco from Mcallen, Texas
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Great article Nasar! I’m currently doing this and have been finding it very beneficial in many ways. It’s affordable, learning my market, and receiving a lot of experience in talking to potential sellers. I’m curious as to any other criteria you used other than if the property was bank owned or not whether you mailed to that said property. Such as absentee or tax delinquent? Thanks!