BiggerPockets Podcast 136 with Shawn Holsapple Transcript

Link to show: BP Podcast 136: Building an Incredible Real Estate Pipeline with Shawn Holsapple

Josh: This is the BiggerPockets Podcast show 136.

Shawn: I’ve got buyers lined up that will take it as-is, I don’t even have to go to the city.

You’re listening to BiggerPockets Radio. Simplifying real estate for investors large and small. If you’re here looking to learn about real estate investing without all the hype you’re in the right place.

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Josh: What’s up everybody? This is Josh Dorkin host of the BiggerPockets podcast here with my host Mister Disneyland himself, Brandon Turner.

Brandon: What’s up?

Josh: What’s up, man? How was your trip? How was Disney?

Brandon: It was good. It was good. Long lines, but it was well worth it. We used the fast pass a lot.

Josh: Nice.

Brandon: Yeah, spent the last week at Disneyland and I got like 24,000 steps was my highest on my Fitbit so I rocked last week for steps.

Josh: That was like the first time I’ve ever seen you come even close to beating me on Fitbit.

Brandon: Yeah, I actually walked last week so it was amazing. Yeah, it was good. It was good. I went on Pirates of the Caribbean like five times at least.

Josh: Did you cry when that water fall drop happens?

Brandon: There’s a little bit of tears happening.

Josh: Okay, guys, I want you to go on Facebook and Twitter, I think they’re just on Facebook, go on Facebook and find Brandon and look at his pictures. There are some really funny pictures.

Brandon: The best picture, maybe I’ll try to upload it to the show notes page, the best one was we did the Tower of Terror which is that drop, right? You drop like—

Josh: Your wife!

Brandon: My wife, yeah, Heather is so funny but even more funny than her is the girl behind us. Like, I don’t know if you noticed but this girl behind us it looks like she’s being murdered and her scream, and I did slow motion on my phone it’s so funny.

Josh: He did a slow-mo video it’s so funny.

Brandon: Yeah, I’ll try to upload it to the show notes page at check it out.

Josh: Awesome. Cool. Well, we’ve got a cool show today and before we get into today’s show let’s bring in this week’s sponsor.

Brandon: Alright. This episode is brought you by RealtyShares is a real estate crowd funding platform that allows accredited investors to invest in pre-vetted real estate deals online so investors can browse and invest in both residential and commercial properties that yield returns of 8% to 16 % annually. As a RealtyShares member you can also passively invest in professionally managed real estate investments in a variety of asset types and geographies for as little as $5,000 all from the convenience of your living room. So, to learn more and to get started with a free account visit That’s

Josh: Awesome. Alright, good stuff. Alright so today we’ve got a really cool Quick Tip for you. We’re going to talk about a relatively new feature that we launched the end of last month which are sub-forums. So basically we went and launched these forums for each state in the country and then we’ve launched forums for each major metro in each state. So if you want to go and subscribe you can now subscribe to the California forum. You can subscribe to the Los Angeles forum. You can subscribe to the Dallas forum, you know, the Des Moines forum, whatever you want to do.

So you can go macro like state, you can really focus in and just do a city, or I would personally recommend if you’re in a city I probably would do the city and the state just to see what kind of results start coming through but definitely follow these forums. Subscribe to your local city and state and other areas that you’re interested in. You know, we’ve got the keyword alerts already, but just having the state forums I think that gives people more of this communal vibe where they can just say, oh, I’m only going to connect with these people, or people interested in this area. So jump in there, check out the sub-forums. You can find them on our local networking forum or if you go to BiggerPockets forum categories by you can find it. We’ll link to it in the show notes and check it out! Get networking.

Brandon: Cool. That’s going to be really helpful.

Josh: Yeah.

Brandon: Excited to be engaging in the Seattle and the Tacoma sub-forums.

Josh: Yeah, for sure.

Brandon: Alright, cool. Let’s move on to—I want to read a rating or a review from iTunes this week because I really like this one a lot.

Josh: Awesome.

Brandon: Mainly because it started with addicted. From A Laseur, I hope I’m saying that last name right, “I just joined the BiggerPockets community a couple weeks ago and I’ve been listening to 3 hours of podcasts daily ever since.”

Josh: Yes.

Brandon: Woohoo! “Can’t get enough of the excellent anecdotal information and insightful tips,” so love that. Thank you so much A Laseur for that 5 start review in iTunes. So, cool. Thank you.

Josh: Yeah, and if you guys are listening please jump on iTunes and leave us a rating, review. You can also leave us ratings and reviews on Stitcher and SoundCloud, you know, please get in there and help us out. Help us get more visibility for the show.

Brandon: And subscribe.

Josh: By doing that, and definitely subscribe. If you’re not subscribing you’re missing out.

Brandon: There you go.

Josh: So, alright, let’s get this thing going. Today’s show is with Shawn Holsapple, hopefully I didn’t butcher it too bad.

Brandon: I think that’s right.

Josh: Shawn is a real estate investor focused on the Indianapolis, Indiana real estate area, one of my favorite places on planet earth. That would be the place where the guy threw a can of soda at me as I was stalled at the side of I-80 on the highway traveling to Saint Louis for college one year in the middle of summer.

Brandon: I didn’t know that. That’s funny.

Josh: Yeah, it was awful and not pleasant, but Shawn, hopefully, was not that guy.

Brandon: Hopefully not.

Josh: Hopefully not. So Shawn is an active real estate wholetailer. He’s busy doing lots and lots of deals. He does well over 100 transactions a year, builds kind of a cool business model so pay attention, listen up and let’s bring him on. Shawn, welcome to the show, man! It’s great to have you here.

Shawn: Good. Good to be here, finally. I’ve been waiting for a long time.

Josh: Oh, okay.

Brandon: Us too.

Josh: Yeah.

Brandon: Forever.

Josh: We sent you all these messages and you kept saying, “I’m too busy, I’m too busy,” and—

Shawn: Finally, here we are, though.

Brandon: Finally, here we are.

Josh: Yeah.

Brandon: So today we’re going to talk a little bit about—

Josh: A bunch of stuff. It’s a bunch of stuff.

Brandon: Today we’re going to talk about finding deals. I know I want to cover that because I hear you’re one of the best at finding deals so that’s the reputation anyway that you have so I think we’ll cover that today.

Josh: He is in the rust belt, though, so, you know, let’s just keep that in mind.

Shawn: The southern rust belt, so.

Brandon: Where are you from? Where are you at?

Shawn: I’m in Indianapolis, Indiana right now. I’m from Mitchel originally which is a small farming community couple hours south.

Brandon: Oh, okay.

Josh: Right on.

Shawn: It’s in the rural areas.

Brandon: Yeah.

Josh: Notice his—

Shawn: The rurr—

Josh: yeah, picking on you, picking on you.

Brandon: Yeah, make fun of me.

Josh: Alright, let’s talk about this. My notes, you know, we tried to switch this format up and we have very limited notes so that we kind of come at you guys with fresher questions hopefully. The bio I have is you lived out of the country before moving back to Indiana and you started investing out of the country. Am I correct on that? Is that how you got going?

Shawn: Yes. Spent five years in Calgary, Alberta.

Josh: Okay.

Shawn: And got back to Indiana late 2010.

Josh: Okay. So tell us about investing in the US from Canada; What was that like? How did you get started?

Shawn: So I picked up Rich Dad, of course, for the second time in late 2008 and picked it up again and realized I’ve gotta really do something with my life. I’d been working 30 plus years with nothing to show for it basically and in there was a 3-day Rich Dad event there in Calgary around that same time-frame so I went to that and took my wife, actually drug my wife, and—

Josh: You drugged her? I mean—

Shawn: No, dragged. Drug.

Josh: Like Bill Cosby style?

Shawn: No, not that kind of drugging. As in by the back of the hair and so I finally got her there and halfway through the second day for her it hit. The lightbulb went off and she was like, “oh, okay, now I get why you’re looking at houses all the time,” because up until that point it was like we can’t even afford one why are you looking at more? The usual stuff.

Josh: Yeah.

Shawn: So, I went to that and it really opened my eyes on what to do and all the strategies and one of those was getting creative with your credit cards. So while I was in Calgary, you know, it’s like west-coast US everything’s very, very expensive. A shack there is $450,000 to $500,000 and you can’t touch a duplex less than $600,000 to $650,000 that rents for $1,200 a side so there’s no cash flow. So I was looking back home and in some smaller towns first and was seeing duplexes in the $50,000, $60,000, $80,000 range and happened to come across ones in Indy that were $30,000 and $40,000s. So, that kind of got me looking at Indy because up until that point I thought that because it was a larger city it would cost more so I wasn’t even looking here.

One thing led to another and I ended up looking at a little single-family here in Indy and of course now this is two years later, which I always kick myself for waiting so long to do anything, I was making offers but really conservative. Kind of scared to make too many offers always thinking what if they say yes? That kind of stuff. So there was one that was from another wholesaler and I was on the list by the end, of course, they came across. It was listed I think at $10,500, which was rough to say the least, but I offered $9,500 just to throw in an offer and they said yes and it scared the crap out of me and I was like, “now what?”

So I was still in Canada, of course, and it was here in Indy so I did everything remotely. The way I purchased it was I had a line of credit at that point, a signature line of credit, a small one and that was my first purchase was just a line of credit. Then I bought it and got a property manager involved and he said, “yeah, it’s not too bad,” so he got it fixed up and started renting it out for $550 and that was the very first one. Six months later threw it on some website for sale and someone in California bought it for $18,000 and I thought, “wow, that’s kind of neat.”

Brandon: Wow.

Josh: Wow, okay. That’s pretty good, man. So you bought this—was the original intent to buy and hold or was it to turn it like you did?

Shawn: Yes, hold was the original goal. Even during that 3-day weekend event he said that it should be you flip for quick cash to build up so you can buy the buy and holds. If you don’t you’re going to run out of cash pretty quick and I didn’t want to flip at that point so I thought I’d just skip that stage and go right to the buy and holds. Well, after 2 I was broke and I was making a whopping $250 a month or something so that wasn’t going to work so I had to get into something else besides that, but that was the original plan was to have these rentals for passive income.

Josh: Right on. Cool.

Brandon: Nice. Alright, so I want to jump in here because you mentioned it took you a couple years to make your first offer and a lot of people listening to this show right now are probably in that same spot. 2 years ago, a year ago, 3 years ago, 10 years ago they decided they wanted to get into real estate and they still haven’t done it yet. So do you have any good tips for them on how do you overcome that whether it’s fear or it’s analysis, paralysis, or whatever it is, like, what do you tell people today to get over that hump?

Shawn: I just tell them to get off the fence because I was really bad about looking at, well, for one thing when I went to that 3-day event there was about 35 different strategies that he talked about which completely just melted my brain and I had no idea. So I was so caught up in all these different ways to do something than getting the spreadsheets out and looking and looking and throwing in numbers and saying what if and now looking back I should have just bought it. Especially at that price. You know, here in our area it’s easy to pick up something less than a used car so I tell people if it’s less than a used car even if you lose it all it’s still less than a guru big $40,000 training camp which you will lose it all.

Josh: Yeah.

Shawn: So I tell them just to buy the little $15,000-$20,000 beater, go through a simple rehab with the pain and the contractors, which is a huge deal which I think it is everywhere, and just get down to your belt and you’ll learn so much just don’t be so scared. When I go to meetings here and networking events I see the same people month after month year after year and I talk to them and they’re like, “yeah, we’re still looking,” or, “we’re thinking about maybe in 6 months doing some bandit signs or that Yellow Letter thing,” and I’m like, “what do you mean in 6 months? You should do it yesterday,” you know?

Josh: Yeah. I like that. I like the, you know, you can’t really apply that in every market so if you’re in Calgary obviously where a duplex is $600,000 you have to be a little more careful, but I guess in an area where you can pick up properties for so cheap I guess it kind of becomes a little easier and your risk is obviously a lot less on a per-property basis. I mean, the most you can lose is the $10,000 you’ve got on the property and hopefully you haven’t screwed too much up and you have insurance to make sure you don’t get sued and so on and so forth, but I like that. Get off the fence, stop sitting around and when you can’t screw up as much it should be easier, I guess, right?

Shawn: Definitely.

Brandon: Now, what exactly is your main strategy today then? I mean, you bought that first rental. Are you flipping? Wholesaling? What do you do?

Shawn: I do a lot of wholesale, but it’s not the typical assignment. I do the wholetailing I guess you’d call it, or actually buy and close and then turn around and actually offer it to my buyers list. That’s my active income, that’s my J-O-B.

Brandon: Okay, let’s take that back a little bit for people who have no idea what that means. They’ve never heard of wholesaling before, I mean, maybe can you kind of just give us a big picture of what that entire process means and looks like?

Josh: Well, what is wholesaling and what is wholetailing just to kind of clarify that?

Shawn: Sure. So a typical wholesale would be you find a property either through bandit signs, direct mail, friends, whatever and then you get that property under contract and then you would assign it to someone who wants to buy it so you’re actually going to assign that contract to someone like me that’s going to buy and then we close. Whereas wholetailing is I don’t worry about, I still get it under contract, but I actually am going to close versus wholesaling you can still walk away if you don’t ever find a buyer you can just walk away. There’s usually no earnest money involved versus what I do there is earnest money I always close. If I say I’m going to buy it I’ll buy it no matter what just to keep my name out there as someone who will close and then once I close I usually have 20 to 30 days before closing because I do a lot of HUDs and stuff off the MLS, which we can talk about in a minute, so that gives me time to do the marketing and I try to have it so before I close on it and then do a double closing.

Brandon: That’s awesome. So how long do you typically own the properties for, then?

Shawn: Anywhere from just a few hours for double closing out to 30 days max usually.

Brandon: Okay. Are you always selling them to cash buyers or are you selling them to retail buyers ever? Just, you know, homeowners.

Shawn: For the most part it’s other investor cash buyers. Once in a while an owner-occupant will see my add on Craigslist or whatever and they’ll want to buy it and sometimes they’ll have cash or they’ll have financing lined up where it’s a fit and I’ll do that.

Josh: So why do that? Why sell to a cash buyer when you can potentially sell to a retail buyer presumably for more money? Is it that you don’t want to pay commission to the agent? Would that make the difference in the sale price? Do you think you’ll sell it quicker for cash? You know, why sell it to an investor where presumably you’re selling it for somewhat of a discount to what you could get retail?

Shawn: Sure. I could probably go through the pains of getting it up to retail value and ready for the market and that could be 30 days’ worth of rehab plus another 30 to 90 days on the market to make $5,000 to $10,000, maybe $15,000, more versus selling it right now at a smaller profit, but it’s all about volume for me. I’d rather take a quick nickel right now versus a slow dime in the future.

Josh: Yeah, that makes sense. That’s great. So how many deals are you doing? I mean, you’ve obviously got a volume business. What do you do in a typical year now?

Shawn: I did 155 closings last year.

Josh: Whew! That’s it?

Shawn: That’s all.

Josh: I’m a little disappointed, Shawn, I mean, I was thinking you were in the big boy club doing maybe 175.

Shawn: I know, I’m still trying. Now, that’s closings so it could be the same property twice when you buy and then sell, but still 75 to 100 actual separate properties. Out of that I’ll cherry pick a few to keep for my own portfolio for rentals.

Josh: Nice.

Shawn: And the rest I just sell.

Josh: So I’m going to jump in. I’m taking this one, I’ve got this.

Brandon: You probably have the same question.

Josh: Okay. Is the business just you? Are you the only one or do you have someone else helping you out?

Shawn: For the most part it’s me. I got my wife involved, she spends 3 to 4 hours every day doing some HUD offers and just taking care of all the paperwork that I tend to generate which is a lot sometimes. I’ve got a VA who works 10 to 15 hours per week which helps out on tracking some stuff and some offers.

Brandon: And VA means what?

Shawn: Virtual assistant.

Brandon: Perfect.

Josh: Cool.

Shawn: She’s a college grad from the Philippines at $3 an hour.

Josh: Yeah, there you go. Economies of scale.

Shawn: Yes. I used to always think that was for a CEO or some big expensive organization and when I finally got around to doing or getting a VA involved it was super easy and very, very helpful.

Brandon: Yeah. How did you find that VA?

Shawn: That was through oDesk which I think they’ve changed their name now, but you can still look up oDesk.

Josh: Yeah, Upwork it’s called now.

Shawn: Yes. Right.

Josh: Upwork, and the way that works is they get a commission of, I think, 11% on every hour so the $3 you’re actually spending $3.33 per hour.

Shawn: Yes.

Josh: And oDesk gets their money.

Shawn: It’s kind of tough, but I try to pay it forward. Some weeks are about $16 and sometimes it’s a little hard to give up that coffee, but.

Brandon: So what does the VA do?

Josh: Wait, hold on, and we joke here, but I think it’s an important thing because some people might be listening, like, Shawn’s a jerk he’s ripping this person off. That $3 an hour to this girl in the Philippines that you’re paying she’s probably pretty happy with that amount of money.

Shawn: Yes because from what I’m told an average per day wage there is about $5 all day and she’s making $3 an hour and holidays I’ll throw her a $20 bonus which is huge to her. It’d be like us getting a 40% raise one week as a bonus. You’ve just gotta add the extra 0’s there and then it hits home, like, what they’re actually making.

Brandon: Yeah, I love the idea, I mean, I read the whole concept back in the Four Hour Work Week of hiring a VA and I’ve hired several since then. In fact, we’ve been working with a guy named Dave in the Philippines. Dave is one of my favorite people in the world. He actually edits these podcasts so, Dave, what’s up, man?

Josh: Dave’s the man.

Brandon: Dave’s the man, right? And Dave lives in the Philippines.

Josh: And Dave’s making a lot more than $3 an hour.

Brandon: Dave is cause we like him so much. We really like him. I mean, he does awesome work so, like, yeah. I love the idea of hiring and outsourcing the little things. This is the point they made in Four Hour Work Week which I don’t think people talk about enough, but just the idea of hiring somebody even if they don’t make you money learning how to manage an employee if you’re not good at that that alone was worth the cost for me when I started hiring people because I had no idea what I was doing and I’m not going to go out and hire a $30 an hour American to learn how to be a manager, you know? You can start a lot cheaper that way.

Shawn: Right.

Brandon: So what are they doing for you? What is this VA actually doing for you in your business?

Shawn: The biggest thing is every day I have the HUD home store forward her all the new listings in our area and then she puts those on a shared Google doc that we all share and then I go in and put the offer price of what I think that property is worth and then my wife comes in the afternoon and she puts the offer in. That’s her main thing. I have her do other little spread sheet things, odds and ends, she made my Facebook page for my company and she charged me $2.20 and I gave her $5.00.

Josh: You’re a generous man.

Shawn: I could’ve stopped and took the hour to it, but that hour I could be doing a deal that makes thousands versus $2 so that’s the way I look at everything now.

Josh: That’s great. So, I mean, it sounds like you’re starting to rely on her to really run back-end for you. Are there other things that you think you could probably pony off and you haven’t yet done and you’re just kind of working it little by little?

Shawn: Probably. When I first started the first VA, the first two, failed miserably because I had too much on their plate all at once which I found out after reading the Four Hour Work Week you’re supposed to start slow and work them up so since then I’ve done that, but yeah. She could be making HUD offers maybe or some others. I could have her doing some follow-ups with marketing but I don’t do a whole lot of marketing anymore, but yeah there’s all kinds of stuff you could have someone do.

Josh: Right on. So you don’t do marketing and you’re a wholetailer not a wholesaler, but like a lot of people would say, “well, to be a wholesaler you’ve gotta constantly be marketing,” you’re getting, it sounds like, the bulk of your deals on MLS and HUD, right? HUD home store?

Shawn: Right.

Josh: Okay.

Shawn: And online auctions too.

Josh: Okay, cool. So let’s talk about HUD. What’s the upside, what’s the downside of HUD?

Shawn: HUD the upside is it’s online, it’s really easy to make an offer once you get it automated which I’ve got. I can do an offer in 45 seconds and just plow through it and the downside is once they say yes you’ve got 24 hours to get them the documents. Actually 48 to the end, but you’ve gotta get it mailed in 24 hours so you’ve gotta stop what you’re doing, print the 20 plus pages, sign it in blue ink.

Josh: Blue ink?

Shawn: Yes, and they’re very difficult. They have a lot of little quirks that has to be done, but in the end you still get a good property and in other markets a lot of people say you can buy HUD at 88% or 82%, I mean, I’ve bought stuff at 15% or 20% before.

Brandon: Wow.

Josh: Whoa.

Shawn: So I actually make an offer on everything in the central part of the state.

Josh: These are retail properties, right? These are foreclosed properties?

Shawn: Correct and some are nice and some are ugly and some are hideous, but you have to offer accordingly and I just offer on everything. If it’s something I’m not sure about and it looks like a rough area I’ll usually offer 20% or 30% of the list and sometimes they still say yes.

Josh: And you’re not shying away from rough areas then it sounds like?

Shawn: No.

Josh: Okay. So you’ll buy anything anywhere as long as you can get a discount.

Shawn: Absolutely.

Josh: Right on. What’s the max that you would pay on a property? I mean, as far as discount or do you not have one?

Shawn: Yeah, I mean, once in a while we’ll have one on a nice side of town that’s $600,000 and it’s worth a million, you know, I’ll still offer on that.

Josh: Yeah. Got it.

Brandon: That’s cool. So, let me ask you this, do you happen to know about what your ratio is of how many offers you make versus the ones that get accepted? I don’t know if you track that, but do you just have a guess on what that would be?

Shawn: It’s low. I mean, we tend to offer on whatever is available. Right now there’s about 65 in our area on HUD at least and we offer on every one of those and we’ll close on 1 or 2 a month.

Josh: So you offer on 65 properties, close on 1 or 2 and next month you’ll probably offer on another 65 and close on 1 or 2?

Shawn: Right.

Brandon: Wow. I’ve been stressing this thing a lot lately on the BiggerPockets webinars that I do every week, and I think I mentioned it last week or the week before here on the podcast, the idea that people complain a lot, like, I just can’t find any deals. What I always say to them now, like, my new line is, “okay, how many offers did you make this week?”

Shawn: Absolutely. Yeah.

Brandon: And the answer is always, “well, none,” “well, how many deals did you analyze this week?” “uh, none,” so, I’m like, in a way how are you ever going to get an offer accepted if you don’t make the offer in the first place?

Shawn: Absolutely.

Brandon: How are you going to make the offer if you don’t analyze a deal? How are you going to analyze a deal if you don’t find the deal across your desk? Like, just work backwards and then start working forwards from that point and just start throwing out, I mean, exactly what you’re doing. It’s kind of largely a numbers game and you seem to have figured that out.

Shawn: Right and I’ll have people come to me wanting me to make offers for them cause I’m a Broker and they’ll have one property and they’ll make one offer and they’ll wait.

Brandon: Yep.

Shawn: Like, man, you’ve gotta make 10 or 15 or 20. Especially now we’re in a seller’s market and have been for about a year and inventory is very tight, it’s very competitive here and you have to really be on it so you have to make multiple offers just to hope to get one that’s halfway close.

Brandon: Yeah. I mean, and you’re basically building this pipeline of deals that are consistently coming in, I mean, would that be the right way to describe that?

Shawn: Yeah, and there’s sometimes, you know, there’s been times where I get 5 or 6 on the same day accepted and I’m like, “holy crap. Now what?” and the first few times that happened it was a little scary, but now I know I can do something with it. I’ve got enough private money to work with that they’re always happy to do whatever and so we just go.

Brandon: I love it.

Josh: Nice. So basically you’ve built this business where you can deal with the things that you can’t plan for, right? I mean, you can’t plan to get—you’re not planning to have 6 offers get accepted in a day, but if they do you’ve got the private buyers, you’ve got money, you’ve got whatever you have. You’ve got a lot of different exits that you can potentially take so actually knowing and understanding what the possibilities are for somebody who’s listening who’s new is going to really help you out when you come into these situations.

Shawn: Right.

Josh: Yeah.

Brandon: Very cool.

Josh: That’s great. So we talked about HUD. Let’s talk about, I want to hit really quickly, auction and MLS as well for everybody. So let’s do MLS next which is I’m assuming you’re buying, are you buying just REOs or are you buying market-priced properties as well?

Shawn: Probably 80% are REOs but there’s still those few people that are motivated. I just bought one last week. She’d lived there for 30 years, it’s in a kind of rougher part of town, she was at the age that she needed to move into a home so her family came in and they put it on the market. It was listed at $39,000, I offered $20,000 and they said yes and so we closed in a week and everybody’s happy. So that happens on occasion, but for the most part it’s REOs.

Josh: Okay. Right on, and then obviously in the rust belt there’s opportunities like this. I mean, there’s definitely a lot more inexpensive properties available.

Shawn: Yes.

Josh: And by inexpensive, really quick to clarify because this is where we all get caught up with me, is there’s cheap and then there’s inexpensive, right?

Shawn: Yes.

Josh: So inexpensive meaning you can get a discount on what the value of the property is. They’re also cheap and by cheap I mean you don’t have to spend $150,000 or $500,000 to buy a property. You can buy them for $20,000, $30,000 or $50,000 but a lot of people, especially new people, are like, “oh, let me go buy this house cause it’s $10,000,” it may be $10,000 but it might need $90,000 in repairs, you know, cheap doesn’t mean it’s a good deal.

Shawn: Absolutely. We have places here in town that I’ve actually gotten paid to take a house because it had some liens from the city or it was in a war zone and they go, “here. Here’s $3,000 please take it. I don’t want to deal with it anymore”.

Josh: Nice.

Shawn: So that’s a cheap house.

Josh: So what’s the most you’ve ever been paid to, like, what’s the most you’ve ever been paid to take a house over?

Shawn: That one it was probably. About $3,000 or $4,000 on a really nasty house that had maybe $10,000 worth of city liens but we can go to the city and ask them for help and they’ll easily knock it down so that $10,000 lien might be $1,200.

Josh: So let’s take that property. I mean, I don’t know if you remember it, but you got paid. Like, that’s crazy. I mean, like, hey, I’m going to give you money to take this house. So you got paid. There was, I’m assuming, a bunch of liens on it. Was that $10,000 in liens on that one?

Shawn: Yes. It was a lot. It was actually over $10,000. I just did one recently that I’m working on that they’re going to end up giving me close to $3,000 at closing, it’s got over $10,000 worth of liens. I know we can go to the city and probably get that knocked down to $1,200 to $1,500. I’ve got buyers lined up that will take it as is and I don’t even have to go to the city. You know, I’ll sell it for $3,000 or $4,000 so, you know, I still make a few thousand and they’re still buying it where they need to be and they’ll put the effort into going into the city and getting it fixed up and then they’ll get it to a rent-ready place and they’ll sell it as a turn-key, maybe, for $30,000 or $40,000 that rents for $650 and everybody’s happy.

Josh: There you go. That’s awesome.

Brandon: Hey, I have a question on that, maybe going back a little bit, you mentioned making lots of offers like this whether it’s on the MLS, whether it’s the HUD one, or the auction, which we haven’t really talked about yet but we’ll get to, basically how do you know how much to offer? Is it basically just because you know your city inside and out? I mean, this is a struggle a lot of people have, “I want to go put a lot of offers in,” and have no idea what to offer. Like, how do you know that?

Shawn: If it’s a rental I’ve got a cheat sheet of a large turn-key provider in town. So he’s told us ahead of time if it’s $650 rent I’ll pay you $33,000 all in for example, and I know he’s the cheapest person in town, that’s putting it nicely, but if he’ll pay that or if I can get it to fit those numbers then I can get it to fit anybody’s numbers so that’s where I start. If I can hit his numbers then I know it’s good to go.

Josh: That’s a great idea.

Shawn: So that’s what I use for a rental. If it’s an area that I know very well, then I already know what’s worth so I can do that. If it’s something for retail, I’ll just do some quick comps and see what they’re selling for. I try to use the 65% rule, you know, 65% of the actual ARV, which is after repair value minus the rehab, is where we try to be and then I can still wholesale that because everybody around here is using 70% to 78% because it’s so hard to find a deal I can still wholesale that and make a little bit of a spread there in the middle.

Brandon: Okay. I mean, do you have a minimum profit that you want to make on a deal? Like, do you say $1,000 is my minimum or is it just as much as you can get?

Shawn: For the most part when I first got started I was happy just to make a few hundred bucks and then of course with all the books I’ve read and I see how things are going I shoot for $10,000 and I easily settle for $2,000 or $3,000 because, you know, kind of 10X then.

Brandon: Yeah, I was going to say it’s very much like the Grant Cardone 10X, like, increase your goals by 10 times and then if you fall short at least you’re way further than you were to begin with so very cool. Alright, well, let’s go back to auctions. You know, we’ve talked about HUD store, we’ve talked about MLS, what do you mean by online auctions? What is that and how does that work?

Shawn: So there’s, there’s Hudson and Marshall which just emerged with a genesis and there’s a couple others, but probably the biggest one I work with is So they have listings and what’s nice about them probably 60% to 70% of their auction properties aren’t on the MLS for some reason which doesn’t make sense, but anyways. So competition is a lot less and so I can find those through When you first get started they’re going to charge you $2,500 per property to make an offer and if you don’t win that property they’re going to, of course, give that back. Once you’ve closed 6 to 10—

Josh: You said they do give that back?

Shawn: Yes, they’ll give it back to you if you don’t win.

Josh: Right on.

Shawn: But once you have a few under your belt then you can be part of the VIP program and then they’ll give you your own personal office person in their office to help you and get the pre-auction deals and send you out the list that fits your needs and they’ll help you. What the biggest thing is you don’t have to do the $2,500 anymore so it’s $0.

Josh: Interesting.

Shawn: So just like HUD with the searches we register for everything in my area and that could be 60 to 100 homes on and I’ll make offers on all of them and see what sticks.

Josh: Nice.

Brandon: Cool.

Josh: That’s great. That’s awesome. So what percentage of those do you think?

Shawn: It’s a little bit higher. I think I’ve closed about 45 this year with

Josh: Oh, wow.

Shawn: Versus probably 15 or 20 last year so I really picked up the pace with it and it’s probably between 30% and 40% closing right now.

Josh: Are there fees or anything like that that you have to pay beyond the money that you put up?

Shawn: Sometimes there’s a fee that’s between 2% and 5% of the selling price, but for the most part I’d say 80% of these there is no fee which is nice.

Josh: Yeah. No, that’s great. Awesome.

Brandon: Cool. I should have asked this question earlier and I know we’re kind of jumping around, but that’s what we do when we don’t, you know, that’s what conversations do, so you mentioned earlier about when you’re analyzing deals, you know, like looking at the other guy who’s the cheapest in your area and that’s how you figure it out, but you need to know rehab costs in order to do that.

Shawn: Yes.

Brandon: Like, you have to know about what’s it going to cost to fix it up, how do you know that? Especially how do you know that and how does a new person coming in to real estate figure that kind of stuff out like how much it’s going to cost to fix up?

Shawn: Right. You could use a square footage number, but that comes with experience too. For me it was just getting out there and doing a few rehabs. So, for a rental for example, I know what $10,000 will get me now, or $15,000, or $20,000 so I can usually walk in or just see the pictures for the most part and already know it’s going to take $10,000 or $12,000 to get this rent-ready.

Brandon: Yep.

Josh: Right on. So, I mean, it kinda becomes second nature, doesn’t it? I think a lot of people, especially the new folks, don’t necessarily get it. By the way, we’ve got a great book and I’m sure you probably saw it or have checked it out, J Scott’s book The Ultimate, oh, man—

Brandon: The Book On Estimating Rehab Costs.

Josh: Yeah. I’m so used to ultimates!

Brandon: I know.

Josh: Yeah, The Book on Estimating Rehab Costs, but I think all this stuff, I mean, just like pricing a property, you know, what is property worth? If you’ve gone and seen 100 properties of similar type, you pretty much know what a property’s worth. I mean, that’s what agents do, that’s what sophisticated investors do. It’s the more you see the more you do the more you know, right?

Shawn: Absolutely, and that’s actually how I got my start. I was an acquisitions manager for a little company that was a turn-key company so I was looking at between 40 and 50 homes per week taking 100 pictures each, doing a little spread sheet for rehab on each and after you do that for a few weeks and you see lots and lots of homes and get a good feel for what’s going on.

Josh: Yeah, that’s awesome. So, for new folks, I mean, if you haven’t heard it a hundred times yet you haven’t heard it enough, you know, get out there and go look at properties, right? I mean, go see what’s in your area, go see what’s available, go see what’s for sale and by your area I mean your farm and by farm I mean the place that you’re actually looking to buy a property and just look at property after property after property until you know em. You’ll know em cold.

Shawn: Absolutely. That’s the way to do it.

Josh: Yeah.

Brandon: Cool. Say, do you do any, like, I know a lot of wholesalers do this, do you do any JV’s? Do you work with other wholesalers, other investors, to do deals together or are you just always by yourself?

Shawn: No, I do it. I like to call myself a transaction coordinator.

Brandon: Really?

Shawn: If there’s an opportunity to be had I’ll get in the middle of that.

Brandon: Okay, so explain how that would work cause, again, I know there are a lot of different ways a JV can work, but what do you typically kind of see happen?

Shawn: One way is someone has a house they have under contract and they’ll bring it to me and they’re having trouble selling it and since I have a larger buyer’s list I can send that out. I have to be careful how that’s worded because I’m an agent and it’s not listed so there’s some stuff there I have to be really careful with, but otherwise I’ll actually buy it from them maybe and sell it myself and on the back end of that I’ll try to get them a split of the profit and there’s all kinds of different ways to make it happen.

Brandon: Okay, and you are an agent, you are a broker, do you recommend other wholesalers, or investors in general but specifically wholesalers, should they get their license?

Shawn: I think so. I know it’s a question asked a lot on BP and for me it’s the only way I’d ever do it, again, because I have access to the MLS and since I make so many offers if I came to myself as an agent wanting to make all these offers I would tell them there’s no way I’m going to make all these offers for you so you have to do it yourself.

Josh: So it’s not worth your time as an agent if somebody’s making that many offers because the success rate is so slow so it makes sense for somebody to go get their own license and go do it.

Shawn: Right.

Josh: Now, that’s not to say that all investors do that because we talk to agents too, right? There’s agents that are listening to this and some of them might be like, “oh my god that’s crazy. Why the hell would I ever want to work with investors?” well, because there’s a lot of investors who are doing buy and hold through agents that are, you know, turning around property left and right and you’re going to stack your commissions up instead of going and hunting for one client at a time you get a good investor like a guy like Brandon, and, well, he’s not that active, but you know, you get an active flipper or you get a more active person you’re going to do a bunch of deals a year and you don’t even have to look for new clients, you’ve found one or two great investors.

Shawn: Sure.

Josh: Yeah, that’s great.

Brandon: Yep. Cool. You mentioned cash buyers a second ago, you know, you have a large cash buyers list. When I talk to wholesalers on BP a lot of times that’s the first thing they say is, “I’ve gotta build my cash buyers list,” and it’s such a thing that they feel like that’s the number one thing they have to do before finding a deal, before doing anything. Do you agree with that? I mean, where does a cash buyers list come into play and how does somebody build that?

Shawn: No, I don’t think you have to have that at all. I think if you can’t sell your deal then you don’t have a deal.

Brandon: Ooh, I like that.

Josh: That is tweetable right there.

Shawn: You know, if you have a truly good opportunity then they’ll find you somehow because there’s always people looking. So that’s the first thing is to get a good deal. I hate to use the word deal so much, that’s a used car term.

Brandon: I know. I say that all the time too and I’m like, “can there be a better word for what we always talk about?

Shawn: Yeah, opportunity.

Brandon: Sure, there you go.

Shawn: A good opportunity comes along you’ll sell it. So don’t focus on building your website, or building your buyers list just get out there and get something under contract, throw it on the web and see what happens.

Brandon: It’s amazing how people spend so much time doing things that they think are helping them but they’re really just wasting time because it makes them feel like they’re doing work and they’ve got this pretty website and they’ve got this pretty whatever.

Josh: I don’t think that’s why. I don’t think that why. I think it’s back to my buddies my gurus. I think it’s cause the gurus sell that. They teach them that that’s what you have to do and they also offer the products so they’ve got the websites, they’ve got the materials, they’ve got all this crap, you know, “hey, learn how to find a buyers list,” all this nonsense. It’s irrelevant! Find a deal. Period. Find a deal.

Shawn: Absolutely.

Josh: Once you start doing deals and business then you could start worrying about scaling up and kind of figuring the rest of the details, but you’ve gotta first figure out how to get a deal.

Shawn: Right, and that actually just happened to one of the guys here in the area last year. He spent months and months with a website and all these cool automated, you know, when he wants to send a letter he pushes one button and it creates it through three different steps and all these outsourcing and had it all really high tech and polished for the back office, but he still wasn’t doing deals and he finally had to stop about 9 months into it. Actually stop and do a full reboot and start all over and now he’s starting to do a few deals, but that first, you know, because he got so tied up in that mentality and I told him. I said, “what are you doing? You’re not making any money with a website”.

Josh: Right. Yeah, and like you said, it’s not just the website. It’s the automation tools and all the stuff and there’s lots of promises out there of, like, this system and I don’t mean just like the educational system I mean the software system is going to do it for you. It’s going to automate your whole business. No, it’s not going to automate your business.

Brandon: Josh and I get those emails all the time from people. They’re like, “what do you think about this software? They said that it will send deals to my doorstep and help me close them and find me cash buyers to do it and I can just sit and do nothing. What do you think about that?” and every time I just shake my head and I’m like you have no idea what you’re doing. Like, yeah it just drives me nuts, but anyway. Good to see that you’re putting in the hard work that it actually—cause it is. You mentioned earlier you said this is your J-O-B. Like, wholesaling, finding deals, doing this game it is a full-time—do you have a full-time job or are you at this 40 hours a week?

Shawn: Yes. I’d say with the acquisition side of things 40 to 45 hours easily a week.

Brandon: There you go.

Josh: Right on. So what’s your goal? Do you want to be doing this, and by “this” I mean the wholetaling for the next X number of years, or obviously you’re keeping a bunch of these properties for yourself so presumably you’re building a portfolio and at some point you’ll have enough in your portfolio that it’s building you that passive income to help you kind of tone down, is that the plan?

Shawn: Right, because I don’t think I’ll ever quit sales. I don’t care if it’s selling cars or selling houses or selling bubble gum I love sales, but I could see slowing down a lot and doing a few large deals a year and then just living off the cash flow.

Josh: Right on.

Brandon: Cool.

Josh: That’s great. Hey, before we move on to the next section got a question here which is: what is on your business card? Do you have a business card? What’s on it?

Shawn: Yes, it says, “yes, I really do buy houses”.

Josh: Right on.

Shawn: And it’s big letters, it’s really bold and I’ve seen that recently and I thought that was nice so I just got some made that says that. On the flip side in fine print it talks about how we put people into homes without the use of the bank. So we do a lot of lease to owns with our personal properties and we use private money to do that.

Josh: Okay.

Shawn: So we talk about how to help the end person, the end person, to own a home without a bank plus how to help someone with an IRA self-directed making more than .06% in a CD or 2% at Walmart, or Walmart, Wallstreet.

Josh: Yeah, so you’ve got a pretty big, I mean, it’s like a fully integrated business that you’ve built now. I mean, you’ve got lots of strategies that are kind of simultaneously working. How do you track it all? How do you manage it all?

Shawn: So the tracking side is QuickBooks online. We just switched to the online version recently and then we have a really good accountant which is key. Very aggressive. When it comes to accounting I’m all about how much you make it’s what you keep.

Josh: Yeah.

Shawn: And a strong accountant can help you with that. He’s actually on BP so that and then just a few spreadsheets really. It’s nothing exotic. I don’t have a big software packages he was talking about or anything, that’s about it.

Josh: Right on.

Brandon: Cool. Why don’t we move on to the world famous Fire Round.

It’s time for the Fire Round

Brandon: Fire Round. These questions come directly out of the BiggerPockets forums so number one: I am new to wholesaling and I am asking for proof of funds before showing deals. What is a good way if it’s a cash buyer? Let me re-say that. So I’m new to wholesaling and I think I’m being asked for proof of funds before, I don’t know. I don’t know if I like that question. Let me see—

Josh: No, I actually think that’s a good question.

Brandon: I’m wondering how they’re phrasing it, yeah. I’m asking for proof of funds before showing deals. What is a good way if it’s a cash buyer? Okay, so I think what he’s saying is, okay, so I’m a wholesaler and when I’m gonna sell a deal to somebody I’m asking the buyer for proof of funds. What’s the best way to get that proof of funds from the cash buyer? Does that make sense?

Shawn: You just ask for it. I mean, if it’s the first time you’ve worked with someone and they’re wanting to see it, they’re wanting to do all this to waste your time business so instead of wasting your time that’s the first thing I ask for sure is a POF isn’t really worth the paper it’s written on because you find them on the internet for free, but anyway it’s a starting point, but yeah just ask for it.

Josh: Okay. Right on, and that is literally just somebody saying, “hey, I’ve got money in the bank that I can potentially close on this deal”?

Shawn: Yeah.

Josh: Yeah, right on. Alright, I’m just starting out as an investor and really have an interest in rehabbing properties. What are the best properties to look for?

Shawn: Something simple at first. I don’t like to do the really old historic stuff, you know, you’ve got lead based paint, you’ve got historic societies to deal with, you’ve got plaster, so something simple. Just a little 3-1 ranch or 3-2 ranch on a slab in an older part of town that’s still halfway decent; just get that, do a little paint, carpet, do a kitchen and do that first. Just go through that and then once you get that experience then you can start to expand.

Brandon: Okay, okay cool. Number three: as an investor have you found it easy to obtain a small business credit card or a traditional line of credit in your business? You mentioned very briefly earlier credit cards, but do you use them or do you recommend people use them?

Shawn: Yes. You have to get those in your personal name usually because they won’t give you anything in an LLC or Corp for 2 to 3 years of seasoning so just get one in your personal name. When I first came back from Canada we had horrible credit because we were gone and it’s actually worse to have 0 credit versus bad credit so we couldn’t get a loan hardly for anything, but for some reason they would give me a signature line of credit which was silly. They wouldn’t give me anything else, but anyway, long story short, that’s what you use. So get that credit card as soon as you can, try to use it every month, pay it off, after a few months ask for more and just keep on getting a higher limit then you can start using that to buy houses with.

Josh: Right on.

Brandon: Cool.

Josh: My last question of the Fire Round is staging. Do you stage your own rentals, flips or wholesale deals with furniture or knick knacks? You know, full-stage, half-stage or semi stage or not at all?

Shawn: Yeah, we do a little bit. We’ll do something in the kitchen, you know, some nice colorful plates, some little candle stuff, some little knick knacks, do the same thing in the bath and then in the family room I’ve got a 55” plasma prop TV that I bought that I sit in there just to give the illusion of this could potentially be the man cave or this could be where the TV goes, but that’s about it. I don’t really do any furniture or anything.

Brandon: Okay, cool.

Josh: Right on.

Brandon: Alright, moving on, let’s go to the world famous, also world famous—

Famous Four

Brandon: Alright, number one: what is your favorite real estate book, Shawn?

Shawn: Oh, you’ve heard it so many times.

Brandon: That’s alright.

Shawn: Rich Dad, Poor Dad. That’s what was really profound and got me started on the real estate path so I have to say that.

Josh: Awesome. What about business book? Any favorites?

Shawn: I like The E-Myth. I used that back for other businesses that we’ve had and that really helped get the structure and job descriptions and stuff like that written out so that helped a lot.

Josh: Cool. Excellent. Awesome and hobbies; what do you do for fun, man? Surely not just real estate.

Shawn: Lots of work. I used play a lot of Call of Duty and just recently after finishing the 10X rule I had to quit that because I was wasting too much time.

Josh: Nice.

Shawn: I like to still travel quite a bit and try to get out with my family.

Josh: Right on. Cool. Well, yeah, I too was a video game addict for a long, long time and—

Brandon: Did they have video games back then? Like, Pong? Was that your game?

Josh: I did play Pong, but thank you for the veiled insult you son of a.

Brandon: Oh, that wasn’t supposed to be veiled, I don’t know.

Josh: Well, anyway, yeah, so it’s really easy to get caught up in whether it’s Call of Duty or a little game on your phone. I mean, you can just get sucked in so good way to find time is to get rid of them all.

Brandon: Actually I have an Xbox One that I don’t play very often so I lent it to my buddy for the last 3 months while I was working on my book, which I’m not going to talk about that but there’s a new book coming out sometime soon, anyway so while I was finishing that I gave it to my buddy cause I just would not write the book if I was playing video games. So, yeah, if you’re somebody at home and you’re playing too much video games lend it to your friend for a few months. It’s amazing what you’ll get done.

Josh: Oh yeah.

Brandon: So, alright, my final question. What do you believe sets apart successful real estate investors from those who give up, fail, or never get started?

Shawn: Just keep pushing forward. I mean, you’ve heard it over and over again, and that’s what I tell people still. When you fall down, get back up. If you’re not falling down and getting hurt, then you’re not trying hard enough. I hate to see people just sit around and say they’re trying but they’re not, or they’re always negative, “the sky is falling, woe is me,” you know, that’s average. Just get up and try something. I’d rather fall on my face a few times versus sit at home and think about what if, what if, and what if.

Josh: Nice. That’s great. I love it. Hey, before I ask my last question you’re pretty active on BP and you’ve been around for years. You’ve got 847 posts, why do you do it?

Shawn: That actually is what got me started, I think, the whole thing moving forward was when I, and I think for the first six months I starved when I went full time, and I was doing very little and we had some savings, thank goodness, so I was kind of sitting around and not knowing what to do or how to make it so I started doing my own wholesale versus trying to be an agent for other buyers, but one thing someone suggested was to get on BP and just get on there and say hi. So I started and did the search for the key words and I spend maybe 2 hours per week now. When I first got started for the first 3 months, you know, after 3 months I started getting calls of people saying, “hey, I see what you said and we’re in California and want to buy something in your area. Can you help us?” and now, again, I only spend 1 to 2 hours a week, but I’ve got private lenders from BP, you know, they find me. I don’t ask for it, they come to me. I probably sell 1 or 2 properties per month because of BP. I don’t use the advertising that much, just people call that are out of town and they want to come to town and see what’s going on, I show them around, and so absolutely I would recommend start getting on there and spending an hour or so a week at the very minimum and you’ll start seeing results for sure.

Josh: That’s great.

Brandon: Awesome.

Josh: That’s awesome, man, awesome. So, Shawn, where can people find you? I know we talked about not needing a website, but surely you’ve got one now and you’re out there so where can people find you online?

Shawn: For the most part just there on BP. I mean, I have a website I haven’t updated in probably 2 years so I don’t even use it.

Josh: Right on.

Shawn: So just go to BP and I’ll be glad to help out in any way that I can.

Josh: And we’ll link to that in the show notes and the direct link to Shawn’s profile is really easy Alright, Shawn, well listen man, it’s been great. Definitely a pleasure talking to you. Congrats on all the success in building this pretty solid business you’ve got there and thanks for sharing with everybody and we’ll look forward to seeing you around on BiggerPockets.

Shawn: Great. Thank you.

Josh: Awesome, man.

Brandon: See you around.

Josh: Alright guys, that was Shawn Holsapple! Hopefully you guys enjoyed the show. Hopefully you heed his advice and get out there and make offers and stop sitting around waiting for things to come to you. Stop wasting your time and energy on all in one systems that are going to solve the world’s problems for you, they’re not going to, you have to do it. You have to get out there and make things happen so get out there, make offers, I mean, I’m not sure if you guys got this, but for me hearing Shawn he’s got his sources, right? He’s got the MLS, he’s got auctions and he’s got HUD and he’s just working it and working it and working it and focused on it and obviously it’s yielding incredible results. The guy’s not even marketing. You know, to hear a wholesaler, wholetailer, who’s not doing any marketing I think a lot of people would be shocked to hear that. So I think it’s a great model and want to encourage other people to try it out.

Brandon: Yeah, very cool. I’m very motivated now to go get my license and start making more offers.

Josh: Make moves, make moves. Awesome. Alright, guys, well listen, this is show 136 of the BiggerPockets podcast. We definitely appreciate you listening. Please check out the show notes and you can interact and ask Shawn any questions you want at Also, make sure to follow us on Instagram, and Pinterest, and Facebook, and LinkedIn. We’re all over the place. Check us out. Get involved in BiggerPockets itself. Jump on our forums today at If you don’t have an account get in there and make one and start connecting with guys like us. This is how we make things happen. We interact and meet people and build our network. So get out there and do it. Otherwise, I don’t know, Brandon the picture of the light above your head makes it look like you’ve got one of those napkin hats on your head. It’s actually pretty funny.

Brandon: I do. That’s my movie studio set up behind me. I’m going to go film a couple Ask BP videos today, which people should be checking out at , that is the other podcast we run here at BiggerPockets.

Josh: Yes. Well, listen man, welcome back.

Brandon: Thank you.

Josh: We are glad to have you and alright guys let’s get out of here. I’m Josh Dorkin signing off.

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