BiggerPockets Podcast 077 with Michael Quarles Transcript
Link to show: BP Podcast 077: Negotiating Your Way to 1000 Wholetail Real Estate Deals with Michael Quarles
Josh: This is the BiggerPockets podcast show 77.
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Josh: What’s going one everybody? This is Josh Dorkin host of the BiggerPockets podcast here with Mister Brandon Turner, my fabulous cohost. What’s up, Brandon?
Brandon: What’s up, Josh? Busy day, huh?
Josh: Holy smokes, man! Today was one of those insane days, and why? Why, you might ask?
Brandon: Why, Josh? What happened today?
Josh: Well, today was the day that the new BiggerPockets was born. Officially everybody is now completely 100% switched on for the new BiggerPockets so it was, you know, there was a lot of work that goes behind not only the thousands of hours in building it, but actually the launch so we’re done, we’re launched, and a great sigh of relief has been had by all.
Brandon: There ya go, and I also want to say thank you to the Beta testers that have been testing the last couple weeks. A lot of people transitioned over to the Beta version, and we got a lot of good feedback and tweaked a lot of stuff, and now it is ready to go! So, cool.
Josh: It is. Awesome, awesome. So, check it out www.BiggerPockets.com we’ll see you over there.
Brandon: Oh! And check out the new video we made. I don’t know if we ever talked about that on the podcast.
Josh: Oh yeah, we did! If you go to BiggerPockets.com the homepage we made this really cool commercial, this kind of promo video that I think is absolutely fantastic, and Brandon did the bulk of the work so deserves the bulk of the credit. It’s astonishing, it’s amazing, check it out.
Brandon: Yeah, you might have to log out of your account to actually see it, though, cause if you go to the homepage it’ll redirect you if you’re logged in so we might have to actually change that around. Who knows. Whatever. So, yeah, check it out at BiggerPockets.com on the homepage.
Josh: Cool. So, here we are, man! We’ve got an amazing show today. In fact, this is a show a lot of you guys have been asking for. Before we get into it I’m going to do, really quickly, today’s
Brandon and Josh: Quick Tip
Josh: Alright, today’s Quick Tip, now that we have the newly designed site: when you log in to BiggerPockets you’ll see on your dashboard, on the right side a little square that shows you the newest podcast episode. If you click that it’ll open up the podcast episode in a new window so while you’re browsing the site you can sit around and listen to the show. In fact, if you decide to leave BiggerPockets you can continue to listen to the show so definitely check it out that way, and we’re going to improve it pretty soon so you can go back and look at old episodes on there as well so stay tuned for that.
Brandon: It’s a cool little widget.
Josh: Yeah, awesome, but that’s today’s Quick Tip. Now that we’ve got that out of the way let’s get to the show. So, today’s guest is a man who’s been quite active on BiggerPockets. He’s an active real estate investor out of California’s central valley who specializes in something people call wholetailing which is a really cool strategy that anyone, especially new investors, or those tired of rentals or rehabs, can get into pretty easily. Our guest is Michael Quarles. Michael has done between 500 and a 1,000 flips, wholetail flips, in his investment career and he’s very active in helping people on the site as I already mentioned. Ironically the guy doesn’t even know how many deals he’s done he’s done so many. You know things are good when you can’t even count how many deals you’ve done so that’s pretty awesome.
Michael is also the owner of YellowLetters.com, one of the leading direct mail companies out there, and he’s definitely, definitely one of the brilliant marketing minds on BiggerPockets, but today we’re actually not going to be focusing on marketing. I know it’s a shock, and I know everybody who wants to hear Michael wants to hear about marketing, but the conversation was going to get there, and it just never actually got there because we just got so deep into some other topics, and we’re going to do another show later on the marketing side. Today we’re going to get into a fascinating, fascinating discussion all about talking with sellers and negotiating great deals. It’s literally just a schooling on how to negotiate, and if you want to hear Brandon get his backside beat by a master of negotiation definitely pay attention. It’s a lot of fun, we do a lot of role-playing, we being Brandon and Michael; I just sit back and watch, and it’s fascinating. So, if you want to learning something anybody and everybody can take something away from this show, and I strongly encourage you to listen all the way through. So, let’s get this thing going. Alright, Michael, welcome to the show, man! Good to have you here!
Michael: It’s fun to be here! I think it’s going to be fun, anyway.
Josh: Good luck.
Michael: Yeah, the hot seat, huh?
Brandon: The hot seat, yes, and you’re in it today. Yeah, we’re going to talk about your story, how you got started. For those of you who don’t know Michael is extremely active on the BiggerPockets forums, he’s in there all day—well, not all day every day.
Josh: You make it sound like he’s got no life.
Brandon: He has no life, he just sits in there, but no, like, he’s always helping people out answering questions so I know he’s been one of our most in-demand guests so we’re excited to pick your brain today.
Michael: Do I get points for it?
Brandon: Yes. Alright, let’s talk about how you got started in real estate. What did you do beforehand, and how did you get into this?
Michael: My father was, and I kinda had to live with him because he was my father, he was a concrete guy and if I wanted to eat then I would go and work with him weekends and after school and all that kinda good stuff so he taught me a basic form of construction: pouring concrete, laying block. At 18 years old, like most people at 18, or some people at 18, I moved out, and enlisted in the Air Force. Went down, took my physical, bent over, all that kinda good stuff.
Josh: Thanks for the detail.
Michael: Didn’t enjoy it. Well, maybe I did.
Brandon: The Air Force, or—
Josh: That Air Force, or the exam?
Michael: So, here I am, I have a report date to the Air Force and it’s, like, in October or November, and I’m in the middle of summer, and I pick up the newspaper, look in the classifieds section for some really strange reason, I have no clue why I’m doing it, and I see this ad for a piece of real estate, and it was a property listed by Century 21. So, I called the guy, we met out at the property, I bought it, it was a vacant R2 lot, I had no clue what R2 was, must’ve been important, so I bought this thing, and because I had a prior, like, I poured concrete as a child, I thought, “well, I could do this, I could build a building on this piece of property,” didn’t have my contractor’s license, took architectural drawing in high school so I knew how to do a stick drawing of a building. Went down, while I was in escrow, to purchase the property. I had no money, by the way, and I didn’t realize at the time that when they asked for a deposit check they actually wanted to cash the deposit check. I thought they were just going to hold the deposit check.
So, here I am. I go down to the building department, I give them my stick drawings, I get my permit. Now, this was 30 years ago so things done 30 years ago are done a little different than they are today. I pour my concrete, I’m framing, I’m doing stuff on this property that I do not own. I thought that when you entered escrow that that meant you had the right to do something.
Josh: Oh, jeez.
Michael: So that meant you had the right to do something to the property. So, here comes the owner of the property, he comes up, he drives up, and he says, “what are you doing??” and I said, “I’m building a duplex! How’s it look?” and he says, “well, but you don’t own the property,” I said, “yeah, but escrow’s going to close,” on this date forward, and I had no clue, and then about two days later my realtor comes, only property I’ve ever bought through the MLS, realtor comes up and he’s all frustrated with me and he says, “Mike, I gotta talk with you,” and I say, “what’s up?” he said, “you can’t be doing this,” and I said, “well, I’m doing a pretty good job!” and he says, “and besides, your deposit check bounced,” and I said, “you deposited it??” he goes, “well, yeah”.
So, we worked it out with the owner of the property to do a seller carry back instead of a cash purchase cause he realized I didn’t have the money for the deposit even. So, I got kind of lucky, had a nice seller, and a somewhat understanding realtor. From there I finished my duplex, and I sold it. I had this little itty-bitty chunk of money. Like, it was $12,000. Now, keep in mind I’m 18 years old, and I’ve never seen $12,000 consecutively in my life. Air Force is coming, and I’m thinking I’ve gotta report. I called my Air Force recruiter and I said, “you know, I just fell in love with dirt,” and he kinda sounded like I was stupid, and I said, “no, I really did. I just fell in love with dirt. I just did something, I made $12,000, and I don’t want to go in the Air Force. Can I get out?” And he said, “well, come on in, sign these papers,” I hoped that the papers that I signed meant I was out of the Air Force cause I never went into the Air Force after that, but from there I bought another piece of property, and another piece of property, and another piece of property. I absolutely fell in love with dirt, and I think it’s—from a perspective of I never really saw my dad have a job cause he was always self-employed. I didn’t know what it was like to have a job. I worked at McDonald’s one summer just because I wanted to date the girl that worked at McDonald’s there too.
Michael: So, started with that, and started building, started selling, started building, started selling, realized at some point that I had a big old S on my chest, I just couldn’t do anything wrong so I was having like 12 plexes going, and multiple four-plexes going, I had a track of houses going, and it was just fun. It felt, like I said, I fell in love with it. Totally an accident, and had I known what I know now I would have never have done it so I wouldn’t be a real estate investor, I’d be an Air Force something.
Josh: Nice. Alright, so you buy this first property, you build during escrow, the guy doesn’t sue the pants off of you even though you didn’t have pants to pay for your own pants, whatever I’m talking about. Nothing happened at that point, and you start getting into these projects. Now, were you just buying vacant lots and doing new builds, or were you tearing down existing properties? What was the plan?
Michael: In the beginning the first one was a regular R2 lot, vacant lot, nothing was on it prior. It was a PUD and I had no clue what a PUD was until I bought it, and did that.
Josh: And what’s a PUD? For those people listening.
Michael: For our area that means you have to bring it up to a certain use, so you had to have landscaping, enough street parking, and the outside of the property had to conform to what the county, at that time, wanted. You just couldn’t go and build whatever you wanted, you had to meet certain requirements. Much greater than building code requirement.
Now, the first one was okay. I thought that one was pretty cool. The second one was even worse.
Brandon: How so?
Michael: So, I had a little money, I now knew that I actually had to buy a piece of property and own it in order to do something with it. So, I had my little $12,000, and I bought this other piece of property. Saw it in the newspaper. It was on an alley. I would never suggest anybody buy a piece of property when the street name is “Something Alley” because it literally was an alley. Not the most desirable neighborhood.
So, anyway, I know I’m going to need supplies so I go to the largest supplier in our city, before the Home Depots, and the Lowes, and all those companies, and I go into the owner of the company. Here I am, now I’m probably 19 and a half or so, and I go there in a meeting, and his office is bigger than any house I’ve ever been in, and I tell him what I want to do, and I said, “I just, you know, I can pay you when I’m done,” and he was in his 70s, and I don’t think 70’s old, but he may have not have heard me correctly because I actually meant I’ll pay you when I’m done, and so about 3 months were going by and I was building this property and all of a sudden this Cadillac shows up with these two older gentlemen in it and one of them is this person that owns this company, and the other one is his accountant, and he said, “Mike, I have this problem,” and I said, “what’s that?” and he said, “you owe us some money,” and I said, “well, yeah, I’m going to pay you when I’m done!” and he remembered the conversation, and he had a couple dollars himself, and he said, “well, how much money do you need to finish?” cause he could tell it was like 2/3rds done, and I gave an amount of money and he says, “well, come into my office on Monday and I’ll give you that money to finish,” he didn’t know me except for my first conversation with him three months earlier.
Michael: And from there I went into his office, did it, finished that project, started another one, started another one, he financed all these things for me. One day, and I hate saying it, especially on a podcast, but I’m going to because I think it’s a little bit significant, so here I am in his office one day and I’m signing a loan for $240,000, and he asks me, he says, “Mike, how old are you?” and I didn’t know how old I should be for the question asked so I said something other than my actual age because I wanted to be older so he wouldn’t feel so silly loaning a 20 year old a quarter of a million dollars, and it went well and I started evolving into understanding the real estate structure, and how to buy property, and how to sell housing, and multiple units, and at some point buying property that was already established and already created was cheaper than building property. Much faster.
Brandon: So, before we get onto that, let me get back to this guy that you met. I guess, I want to know, like, how did he—do you think he was crazy to do that? I mean, you don’t hear about that.
Michael: Oh, absolutely not.
Brandon: Like, why did he do that?
Michael: Well, I think it’s like why does anybody do anything with someone? I think it’s all about that person’s confidence, and the confidence comes from actual confidence, but it also comes from a lot of naivety too. I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and I didn’t come across like I was an ignorant person. I wanted to accomplish a task. I had pretty much the goals set in mind so I could see the beginning, middle and the end so I could lay it out for him, and he had a desire to help people, and probably did, and he helped me a lot.
Brandon: That’s cool.
Josh: It seems like, if you come off like you’re a know-it-all and somebody could read through it they’re going to say, “this guy’s full of nonsense,” right? But if you come off as somebody who legitimately wants to do it, and probably has the wherewithal and the hustle, so to speak, to actually make it happen then it’s a whole other story. Like, for me I’ll work with a hustler any day of the week because I know they’ll do anything they can, even if they don’t know something, to get it done, and maybe that’s what it was.
Michael: Yeah. I think maybe the time he saw me actually working. Cause, you know, I had tool bags on and I was actually working building this property, may have gave it some credibility over just the guy in a suit that’s trying to do whatever they’re doing, but I don’t know, but it was fun.
Josh: So, let me ask you: you literally from day one until today it sounds like you pretty much figured it out on your own, is that true, or did you have some folks help out?
Michael: I’ve never gone to a mentor, or coaching class, or the book I love the most. I don’t have one because I didn’t read about real estate. I read my Contractor’s Exam book, but other than that I learned the hard way, and the problem with learning the hard way is it takes a little bit longer to do and it’s expensive, but learning the hard way also didn’t stop me. So, like, if I was going to mentor somebody today and they asked me the question: can I write a check to the agent for the deposit knowing that I don’t have the money in the bank? I would have said, “you absolutely cannot do that,” but because I didn’t know that I couldn’t, and I did it, it could have been bad, but I think sometimes we just have to do it, and doing it is more important than the outcome.
Brandon: I’ve generally found in life, and this is not a 100% correlation, but the people that I know that are most successful, whether it’s on BiggerPockets, or in the real world, people that are most successful at real estate investing are those who did learn the hard way. I mean, I can probably count on one hand the number of people I know that have gone through an expensive training class, or training course, or whatever, and became successful after. There are people, it does happen, but by far the people that learn by screwing up, and making those mistakes and buying properties that they maybe shouldn’t have bought. I don’t know, I see that a lot, and I don’t know what that is, but I think there’s just better education in experience than there is in education if that makes sense.
Michael: If we were going to take two types of people; one person that didn’t know anything and hadn’t learned anything, and the other person that knew some stuff, but wanted to learn more I think the second person’s a better candidate because they learned on their own, they’ve gotten to a position where they understand the basics of real estate investing. To take that person and help him, or her, to succeed more is easier. Taking that first person who’s really just so afraid to jump. You know, fear has always motivated me, it’s never stopped me so some people look at, “I’m afraid to fail,” well, I say the same thing, but it means the exact opposite to me.
Michael: I’m afraid to fail, like, and my failure is not succeeding. Their failure is not succeeding, but they don’t look at it like that. So, I do everything I can do to make sure at the end of the day I can say I was successful, you know, this is what I did today.
Josh: I love that. You know, I run my business the same way. In fact, you know, some of the most successful people that I know in different industries, you know, I talk about lots of people about what they do in their work, and it tends to come out that those folks—you get hired to some new job, you don’t necessarily know what you’re doing. There might be some training, but most of life, I think, is kind of figuring it out, and the key is: can you do that? Do you have the wherewithal, the guts, to do that? The stamina to deal with the fear of not fully understanding and having to report to people who say, “hey, what’s going on? Where are you at?” and if you don’t know, because comfortable enough to say, “hey, we’re sorting through a couple details,” or whatever it is, but I think that’s really important. If you can’t get past that fear of some unknowns you’re never going to do anything, let alone real estate.
Michael: Without a doubt. I mean, talking to the original person who gave me a bucket load of money on several transactions taught me what I needed to know to go to the next person. Everybody always asks, “how do you get seller financing?” well, you just ask for it. I mean, it’s pretty basic. It’s like, you have equity in your property, what are you going to do with the equity? Well, you’re going to put it in the bank, can I show you how, based upon what you’re going to do with your equity, when I pay you off it’s a better position power for you to finance the property for me. You already know it’s a legitimate asset, or you wouldn’t be financing it for yourself so you’re already comfortable loaning the money, we’re just going to trade who you’re loaning it to, and it would have never taught me that. It would have never taught me that the core principal of negotiation and how to speak to people, from what I call a “power exchange” perspective. I think if we can control who we are, and what we represent in the conversations we’re trying to have the people will follow us cause the people want to follow people, and whether that’s good or bad it’s reality. You know, most sellers will never have the negotiation skills that most brand new investors have because the sellers haven’t been on BiggerPockets reading about investing, and negotiation and all that. So, the brand new investor still has a leg up on the brand new seller in negotiation on how to attract Sub2 financing, seller financing, all those things. So, just knowing that you have that ability and that power already you should use it, and not be worried about well, I can’t ask somebody for seller financing or Sub2 because of all the reasons that I wouldn’t do it.
Josh: Yeah, and what’s the worst that could happen, right?
Michael: Yeah, well, rhetorically probably, but what is the worst that could happen? I mean, at the end of the day I think we should answer the question: are we doing anything immoral, unethical, and illegal? Probably in that order. So, if it’s immoral, like, if it’s really, “I ought not to be doing this even though I can legally do it,” or is it unethical? Am I not disclosing something to somebody even though I don’t legally have to? Well, if we can answer those questions and all of them are positive fall forward. Go out there and buy a house.
Josh: Yeah, that’s awesome Michael. I mean, I think a lot of people on BiggerPockets look up to you. It gives me great joy to hear that coming from you. I mean, not that I didn’t expect it from you, but I think we run across some people who don’t necessarily believe that and don’t run their business that way, and for those people who know me, and listen to me, and what I espouse; I really do think that we have to work harder to build the image and brand of real estate investors in general because there are so many shady people in the industry. I think, ultimately though, they’re dwarfed by the good people, and if the good guys can just really uphold themselves and run a really good, strong, ethical business I think we all rise up.
Michael: Well, if we even take it further than, okay, it’s the right thing to do to be honest, and ethical, and moral, and legal to the step of: what do we get when we do it? So, we get a happy seller, happy transaction, but I call it my peanut butter story, and it’s a weird story, I know it’s going to sound strange.
Josh: Wait, you with a weird story? I don’t know, man.
Michael: Both of us, but I love peanut butter, and if you could see me on camera you would see that I love peanut butter, but—
Josh: What, do you have it, like, crumbled all over your face somehow?
Michael: Yeah. So, great picture, right? So, I tell people, I say, here’s my peanut butter story: I wanted, I’m going to go in my grocery store, and in my grocery store are going to be people that I bought a house from because I buy a lot of houses, and if I want to go get my peanut butter that I just love and one of my sellers is at the end of the peanut butter aisle where my peanut butter is, my favorite brand, if I didn’t treat people ethically, morally, and legally I couldn’t go get my peanut butter. So, seriously, though, if you think about it I couldn’t. I’d have to turn around and run out of the grocery store because I was afraid that I saw someone that maybe I wasn’t polite to in how I dealt with their transaction. Well, I don’t want to do that. I want to go down and get my peanut butter, ask them for referrals, shake their hand, see how they’re doing in life, and more times than not when you meet someone that you’ve bought a property from morally, ethically, and legally they will refer you to other people so it’s the gift that keeps on giving back to yourself, you can’t explain it enough, you can’t use it enough. It’s one of the biggest marketing tools that are out there.
Brandon: That’s cool, and that’s a unique way of looking at it, too; the peanut butter story. In my own life I see that with my tenants, alright, cause my tenants all know who I am, and I live in a small town where I do see them every day. I see my tenants at least once a day I see somebody that I’ve either rented to in the past, or I’m currently renting to, and yeah, I always want to make sure that there’s no awkwardness. That can’t always be because, I mean, I have evicted a couple people and I’m sure they—but I don’t have to feel that I’ve done anything wrong in those situations, like, they run out of the peanut butter aisle if they see me, not the other way around.
Josh: Yeah, now I have two images of Michael I can’t unsee: the peanut butter face, and the Navy doctor exam so awesome. Thanks, Mike.
Michael: Yeah, it was…no—anyway. I think those components are important. Just really important when you start working with people. You know, when we go out to a house, here’s what’s crazy, when we’re going to go out to a house the seller’s called us because we’ve started a negotiation with them with the marketing piece, they call us up, we’ve asked them some questions, they’ve answered some questions correctly, and based upon those answers we’ve decided we’re going to go out and make an attempt to buy a property. We meet them, we say certain things in a certain way, use imbedded commands, mimicking, pacing, our own linguistics, positive/negative reinforcements, some negotiation skill; we get all the way to signing an agreement, explaining the contract, walking away, making an appointment with title to open up escrow, and we’re going to ask the seller for seller financing. We want you to loan us $200,000 at 3% interest, you’ve never met me before, I’m not filling out a credit app, I’m not filling out a FICO score, I’m just a stranger you’ve never met, now how do you go from, “I’ve never met you,” to, “I believe in giving you $200,000,”? That’s a big hurdle, and the reality in that is: you do a lot of things on purpose.
Brandon: What do you mean?
Michael: What you say. Well, when a—and you’re going to think this is silly, so there’s a third one coming.
Josh: A third story?
Michael: A third image. So, I don’t ring doorbells, I knock on doors. Which, maybe that seems odd, but who rings a doorbell? Think about the last time.
Josh: Door-to-door sales guy. Someone who wants to solicit something.
Michael: Someone who is insecure. So, like, the FBI, if they were going to raid your house they wouldn’t use the doorbell, they would knock on the door, and with something big probably knock down the door. So, I knock on the door. I let them know that there’s a hint, and this is going to sound strange, a hint of power coming through the door in a minute cause I think it’s important for someone to know that there’s presence in the room which is kind of really weird. I’m going to step back and look up the street. So, I’m going to step back about 6 feet and look up the street so they can see me through the peephole, whether I’m in my suit, I’m in my Levis, or I’m in my shorts it doesn’t matter, but I need to have them feel comfortable with me. They’ve never seen me before. I need them to open the door, I’m going to walk up to them and greet them by saying, “thank you for inviting me out to buy the house today,” so the moment I start my conversation it started with the marketing piece, and the phone call that they called in on, but the moment that I meet them I’m going to start imbedding commands with them that I’m going to buy their house today, when you sell me your house today, when we agree on a price today, when you sign the contract, all those things during the conversation, and I’m going to story-tell throughout the conversation so I’m going to start talking about anything that I think is a negative that I think is going to persuade them to say yes. So, for example: if the family’s moving on a job transfer, and how does that relate to a negative to the price tag to a house is I always ask people on a job transfer: who’s going to stay behind? Or did you want the house sold today to someone that’s absolutely qualified to pay cash for the house and close on the day of your choice? So, I’ve embedded that I can do that, but I’ve still asked the question: who’s going to stay behind? And some people will actually say, “well, we were both going to go,” and I said, “so, you’re both going to go? Really?” so I always follow up a question with: their answer and then positive or negative reinforcement because I want them to think, this may sound real silly, but I want them to think what they said was either good or bad.
Josh: Yeah. Well, you’re basically playing puppet with them almost. You’re getting them to say what you want them to say which they probably otherwise might not have said, and when it comes from somebody, like, if I say something it’s coming from my mouth so it’s going to ring differently than if you say it to me so you’re kind of getting them to say what you want them to say which they wouldn’t say if they didn’t really want to say it. This sounds really crazy, but you’re basically controlling them in a little bit of a way in getting them to open up, right?
Michael: In an ethically, morally, and legal way I want to give them ah-ha moments. I want to give them the ah-ha, “oh! I didn’t know that if we both left that my insurance is going to lapse and be canceled because it’s a vacant unit,” and then I’m going to tell a story about a house I bought that from the outside of the house, the seller and I met at the house, he was at the front door, he opened up the front door, from the outside of house it was a perfect house. From the moment that he walked into the front door that house was gone. Someone stole every part of the house. The cabinets, the flooring, the doors, the toilets, the sinks, the tubs, everything was gone. What was also gone was his insurance policy so he didn’t really have a house to sell me. He had the outside of the house to sell me. So, I can tell those stories because I’ve lived those stories with sellers, and it’s grueling, but if I don’t tell a new seller that that’s a strong possibility shame on me for not telling them. They could take my information and go sell it to somebody else if they want, or go sell it on the MLS, it doesn’t matter to me, I just have to tell them. I always say you have to magnify the situation so they hear you. If you just, you know, go over it really fast nothing gets heard. It’s just a really fast conversation, and you’re going to go from, “thank you to inviting me out to look at your house,” which is what a lot of investors say, to, “I think I can give you XX amount of dollars,” and they’re going to say, “no, I want more,” if we don’t justify in our conversations to a seller why we are offering what we’re offering then they can’t go after I’m done, and here’s the key component:
You two are friends. Let’s assume I’m out to buy one of your homes, and you wanted $300,000 for it, you sold it to me for $200,000 after I had showed you how it’s reasonable to reduce it by $100,000. You went to the other person; you guys were having a beer, or a glass of wine, or a diet coke, and one of you was saying to the other, “I just sold my house,” and the other guy was saying, “well, how much did you sell it for?” “well, I sold it for $200,000,” the next thing out of that person’s mouth is: he’s going to say, “you’re flipping stupid, I would have given you more than $200,000,” so if we can’t teach the seller to go back to the friend that they’re going to go back to right after we leave and say, “oh, no, the $200,000 was great because they did this: they bought it as is. Have you seen a home buyer’s inspection report? He said they wrote 3” books about how bad my house is. He’s going to cover all of the costs of all the repairs whether he’s seen them or not, he’s going to buy it and close it on the day of my choice, he’s going to give me cash, he’s actually going to give me 4% on the money I don’t need. I’m going to make more money down the line,” if I can’t teach him to be able to say those things during my presentation it’s going to fall apart, but if I can teach him to say those things and I go through the routine of doing it, then I’m going to get a contract signed because I can take a motivated seller who’s motivated at $300,000 and I can get them to my price.
Josh: Makes sense.
Brandon: I was going to say: that’s an awesome tip. That mindset shift of, I mean, I like thinking of it that way. If your goal is to let the seller be able to convince their friend, if at the end of the day you can do that then you’ve succeeded at what you need to do. I think that’s a great way of looking at it.
Michael: That’s outside even real estate. If you’re single and you met this person and you wanted them to brag to their best friend about you, what would you do?
Josh: Well, that depends.
Michael: I didn’t say laugh, I said brag.
Josh: Boy oh boy, we’re going downhill.
Michael: Just so everybody knows he actually isn’t pulling down his pants at all.
Josh: Alright, so Michael, you had mentioned, you know I had to lighten up the subject here, you know, from you enacting voodoo on the seller to something that people don’t want to see. So, you had talked about something called neuro-linguistics. What is that? Can you explain that? Is that kind of what we’ve been talking about here, or what are we dealing with?
Michael: Well, I’m going to start by saying that I’ve never read a neuro-linguistic book, but every time someone sees me do what I do who understands neuro-linguistics they tell me that’s what I’m doing. I’m like, okay, that’s what I’m doing, but it’s controlling a conversation based upon my actions, what I’m saying, how I’m saying it. Like pacing. People ask me all the time— because I think pacing in a conversation is important, if I can’t pace you and get you to follow me; so I’m pacing you, and then getting you to follow me then conversation’s not— you’re not going to hear me. We don’t hear things that we’re not directed to hear. You know, you’re having your conversation, I’m having my conversation, my job as the real estate investor is to get you to hear my conversation so I have to pace with you.
Pacing is: imagine if we’re both holding strings, and I’m pulling you along, and if I pulled you too fast I pull the string out of your hand, and if I pulled you too slow you’d fall on your face so I have to keep you at a certain tug, and I have to direct you to where I want you to go cause if I don’t then it won’t work because going back to—most of the time what happens is I have a price, I have a business card, I’m ringing the doorbell, “thanks for inviting me out so I can look at the house today, and I can give you $55,000 for it,” and the seller says, “no,” that’s what happens most of the time; But if I can direct you down this path using some embedded commands, some neuro-linguistics, like, if I have a secret and I’m going to tell you a secret, Josh, can I tell you a secret?
Josh: I’m not really listening; I don’t understand your pacing.
Josh: Alright, go ahead, yeah, what’s the secret?
Michael: When you tell someone a secret what’s the one body function you do?
Josh: You get really close to their ear, and talk quietly.
Michael: Right. So, most people lean forward, right?
Michael: So, when you tell a secret, and you don’t have to tell them a secret in their ear, but if it’s an important thing that you want to get across you lean forward, and they lean forward to you because they think something’s coming, it’s a secret, and you talk soft, and slowly, and directly, and slow down your pace, and your point will be heard.
Brandon: That’s cool.
Michael: Because secrets are powerful.
Josh: We’re talking about real estate secrets not, like, how to make out with a girl at the bar here, right?
Josh: Okay, cause I’m like…
Brandon: Well, yeah, so what’s an example? Like, what would you be telling them about?
Michael: That I’m the right person.
Brandon: So, you’re saying, like, “listen here, Bob, come here”.
Michael: You know, one of the nice things about me buying your house is that you can close on the day of your choice, and have the money when you need it. That’s what you want, isn’t it?
Brandon: I don’t think I’d want to be in a negotiation with you. I think I’m gonna cry.
Michael: Well, but that’s pacing.
Brandon: Well, yeah, but you’re good at it. I’m terrible at it.
Michael: Another form of pacing is talking faster than someone’s talking because we’ve all met sellers who go, they talk at a pace like, “blahblahblahblah,” and you go, well, I don’t talk that way, I need to slow you down. So, how do I get you to pace my pace? I am now going to talk a little bit above you, a little bit faster than you, and my tonality is going to be a little more than yours. So, I’m speaking faster, and a little bit louder, I’m going to let you catch up with me because you will, you’ll do it subconsciously, and then I’m going to pull you right back down and now we’re going to have a normal conversation so you can hear me because until you hear me I can’t negotiate with you.
Josh: Yeah, that makes sense.
Michael: I don’t know if that makes any sense.
Josh: No, absolutely. Well, I think the big issue that a lot of people have is, and especially newbies, and let’s apply this to investing, since that’s what the show is about, is that they think they’re there to do all the talking, and I think what we’ve experienced, you know, through the 76 shows, whenever we’ve talked to experienced negotiators the key is always: you’ve got to listen. If you can hear the other person and hear what their issues are, and kind of get them to expose, not necessarily vulnerabilities so you can be like a shark and go after them, but expose kind of what their needs are then you are going to be in a much better position, and it sounds like you’re getting there through some specific tactics and techniques. Now, are there books on this stuff? I’m assuming there’s books on neuro-linguistics, and do you have any recommendations on any of that?
Michael: I don’t. When I put together my presentation—so, I’m using embedded commands, I’m using positive/negative reinforcements, I’m pacing, I’m doing some neuro-linguistics, I’m putting all of them together to create a conversation that I want them to hear, and I want them to hear the reasons behind what I say, and it’s kind of strange. So, if one of you give me a sentence, say anything to me, but a short sentence because I can’t remember anything long.
Brandon: Mary once had a little lamb.
Michael: Mary once had a little lamb, terrific! Mary once had a little lamb, wow. So, one was one way, and one was another way. So, it makes the person who just said it, I’ve repeated what they just said, because if we don’t repeat what someone says we can’t tell them, without doing so, that we’ve listened to them because that’s what a lot of people do is they over-talk the other person like what that other person had to say isn’t important. So, if I say to you: Mary had a little lamb, and I follow it by: fantastic! Because my voice was raised, my tonality was different, and I wanted you to know that that was a great comment that you just made. Mary had a little lamb, wow. When I slow down my tonality, and I put my negative word on the back now it’s not as good. So, when we do this because always, like an attorney, I never want to ask a question, or have a statement that I don’t know the answer to, or can’t get the answer that I want, but I also tell people, and especially people I help, just because I’m teaching someone how to get a lower price doesn’t mean you should get a lower price than what the price was before you got there.
So, when I go out to a house there’s really only three things I’m looking for: I’m looking for a signature on a contract, I want to affirm, or confirm what I think I know, and I want to determine what I don’t know. Those are the only three things. So, when I start determining what I don’t know if what I don’t know lowers the amount on my contract that I was ready to contract at to a number, and I get them to that number then great. Just because I can get them lower than that number shame on me. You should not use these techniques to just dump on people, and take everything they have just because you can. That would be wrong, but we have to get to the number that’s our business number, and whatever that is.
Brandon: Well, I think that kind of makes an interesting transition because first of all, we haven’t even talked yet about what it is exactly that you do today, like, in your investing so we’ll get to that in a minute, but what is that number to you, I guess? Like, what do you do if a seller comes to you, and they’ve got a property worth $200,000 and they’ll sell it to you for $50,000 because they’re extremely motivated. Is that okay to buy it from them for $50,000 and you’re going to make, let’s say, $100,000 or whatever off a flip let’s say. I mean, is that okay?
Michael: I think it is, and it isn’t depending on the situation of the person selling. So, like, I bought a house from a nurse who was dying. So, she was literally dying kind of thing, and she wasn’t dying, like, tomorrow, she was going to live for a while, she knew she was going to live for a while. She was selling me this house. She said, “if you’ll buy it for $65,000 you can have it,” $65,000 was less than the $74,000 that I was willing to give her for it so I said, “no, I’m going to give you $74,000, okay?”
On the flip side to that, you know, I bought a house from a lady for $15,000 and her neighbor was on the market for $179,000. I thought she was crazy, I confirmed she wasn’t crazy because I had to make sure I could buy the house so I went out to the house, we did our walk through, we did all this stuff, neuro-linguistics, and pacing and mimicking and all that and she said, this is what she could do, and I said, “so you’re saying if I can buy it for $15,000 I can buy it? I’m not saying I can’t, but I could?” and she said, “yes,” and I said, “well, are you willing to do some seller financing to cause the house to be sold today?” and she said, “yes,” and everything was too easy, and she was 80 years old. So, I said, “here’s what I want to do,” and she says, “okay,” “do you have family, friends, preacher, pastor, anybody that I can meet with with you?” and she said, “sure! I can have my son here at 4 o’clock,” so, fine, I’ll be back at 4 o’clock.
I got back at 4 o’clock, knocked on the door, stepped back, son opened the door, and I said, “well, thank you for being here so I can buy your mom’s house today,” and he says, right out of his mouth he says, “I can’t believe you’re giving my mom $15,000 for this house,” and I wasn’t sure how he said it because he didn’t use an inflections if he was frustrated with me, or happy with me, and he said, “we have been trying to get her to sell this house so she could move in with us so she could have a happier life for the rest of her life, and the fact that you’re going to actually buy the house solves all of our problems. Thank you”.
Josh: Yup. That’s great.
Michael: So, who are we to judge why someone does what they do? In cases where it’s immoral to take more money from someone, and their situation demands that you don’t take it from them I think that’s wrong, but I’ve had superior court judges sit in my conference room. He and his wife came over, and his wife was wearing this ring that was more expensive than the house I was buying and he says, “Mike, I know you’re going to make $60,000 buying my house,” and I was only buying it for $60,000, and I said, “your honor, I am,” and we made $72,000 flipping the house, he gave me that money, he knew he was going to give me the money, he was much smarter than I was, but he had a need and he had a motivation to do it. The only thing he asked is: don’t ever tell anybody who sold you the house, and he had a story. Find the reason that they’re selling. Whatever it is. Sometimes it’s rats, but most of the times it’s this underlying motivation. They’re moving, they’re being abused, they’re running from someone, they’re going to prison, they’re going to another state, whatever it is. If we find it then we understand the negotiation power, and how to negotiate, and if we do find it then we can story tell. We can tell them about other situations that didn’t go well for those people.
Perfect example, and I know we have a lot of realtors on the board, and I love them to death. Being a broker myself I understand the whole mind frame, and the whole concept of the MLS and selling through agents, but I can tell the story of having a house listed as a listing agent once in my life, and the seller being in the shower as another realtor used the lockbox to get the key out of it, opened up the house, walked all the way back into the bathroom to see this naked seller in the shower, and Mr. and Mrs. Seller, that’s not going to happen to you because today when you agree to sell me your house, and I agree to buy it, and we agree to close in two weeks and I’m going to give you cash that’s not going to happen. You’re not going to have your neighbors coming through your house looking at how messy you are, or how clean you are, or what kind of person you are and passing judgements on you because I’m going to buy your house today. That won’t happen.
Josh: I think Brandon wants you to buy his house.
Brandon: I’m ready right now! Michael, take it. You’ve convinced me.
Michael: You know, it’s all driven by, of course, having the opportunity to be up in front of that front door because we don’t magically get there. I guess we could cold call forever and get some appointments which works if you don’t have any dollars, or talk a center of influence and get there, but we’ve done something to get to that front door.
Josh: Well, so, can we transition to that? I do want to talk a little bit more about the rest of your background, and kind of what you do today. I mean, obviously you’ve been around doing lots of different kinds of deals, but I’d kind of like to work in reverse. So, we’ve just spent a fair amount of time talking about the negotiation once we arrive, how do we get to that point? So, one step back in my mind is: we’ve done some kind of marketing, or we’ve found a property on the MLS, whatever we’ve done, but before we even go into that, I am going to work backwards, we’ve got this person that we are going to vet somehow, right? So, we’ve got a person, we’ve done the marketing, we’ve got a lead, we now need to vet them. You’ve talked about all of the linguistics, and all of the fancy stuff that we would do when we show up, what about the stuff that we do when we’re on the phone with them when we get a lead? What are we doing there?
Michael: For me over my career it’s evolved from, like, this super puzzle with, like, 2,000 puzzle pieces that we had to put together to find the right motivated prospect, and now that puzzle’s only 5 questions. For me anyway, and a little bit about—I kind of have to answer the question: what do I do now? And today’s marketplace I require a seller to make me an offer. I am no longer making an offer, and so—
Michael: Well, it’s easier.
Josh: Can you explain that?
Michael: Well, before I go out to a home they’ve already made me the offer so when I go out to the home, and I go through my presentation, and I’m subtracting in their head based upon my conversation with them. I mean, they started out at this dollar. Every time I bring up a negative, and I get them to shake their head up and down—when you talk to someone, and you say something that you want them to agree with shake your head up and down because you will get the other person to agree. They’ll shake their head up and down, or if something’s negative shake your head side to side, and it just works.
So, at some point we’re doing this, and then they’re going to give me the offer, and so, do one of you guys want to give me an offer? Make me an offer?
Brandon: You can buy my house today Michael for, you know, $130,000.
Michael: I could buy your house today for $130,000, can you do any better than that?
Brandon: Maybe a little bit.
Michael: Maybe a little bit?
Brandon: Maybe a little.
Michael: How much can you help me out?
Brandon: I could probably do $120,000.
Michael: You could probably do $120,000? You can’t see yourself doing better?
Brandon: Maybe $115,000, but that’s my bottom.
Josh: You’re mush, Brandon! C’mon! Stand up to him!
Michael: So, $115,000. That’s your bottom?
Brandon: $115,000 is my bottom.
Michael: You have an expensive bottom, Brandon. So, after everything that we’ve done today what you’re saying is is I have to take your money, and go buy somebody else’s house. Can you see yourself doing better than that number?
Brandon: I don’t know, maybe a little bit?
Michael: Well, help yourself out. I want to buy your house, and I know you have a need to sell it, and I know you don’t want it vacant, I know you don’t want this issue happening, I know you want that cash, and I know you want to get this stress out of your life.
Josh: But, Brandon, isn’t your neighbor’s house, didn’t it just sell for $125,000? Why are you going to take $115,000 from this guy?
Brandon: Yeah, Michael, my neighbor’s house just sold for $125,000.
Michael: Why didn’t you use your neighbor’s realtor?
Brandon: I don’t know, I don’t want the realtor to get all my money.
Michael: I agree, I don’t think you should either. So, how much less than the $115,000 are you willing to help me out on?
Brandon: I guess I could go $110,000.
Michael: You can go $110,000? Not saying I can, but if I’m hearing you correctly, if I can give you $110,000 you’d sell me your house today?
Brandon: I would.
Michael: Now, are we talking an all-cash transaction or are we doing a seller-financed transaction? What were you going to do with some of that money?
Brandon: I was going to buy a new house.
Michael: You were going to buy a new house? When were you going to do that?
Brandon: When my credit’s not 200, and I get my child support back on track.
Michael: So, we probably have 12 months.
Brandon: Yeah, probably.
Michael: Right. Okay. So, it would be worth it to you for me to pay you a little bit more than the $110,000?
Michael: Perfect. Let’s set that up. Make yourself a little bit more money doing that, and would you like those in payments, or just pay it off in a year from now?
Brandon: I don’t know.
Michael: Okay, let’s just pay it off in a year. Seems easier. If you need your money in the meantime all you have to do is call me, and we’ll take care of that for you, alright?
Brandon: Sounds good.
Michael: All we need to simply do now is sign the agreement, I’ll go over it with you, and then meet tomorrow with escrow and open up escrow.
Brandon: That sounds good.
Michael: Perfect. So, it’s a negotiation skill. I never gave him a price, right?
Josh: You made him say what the number was, yeah.
Michael: So, anytime you go: is that the least you’ll do? Can you see yourself doing any better? Can you help me out a little bit more? I mean, after everything we’ve gone through I’m going to have to give your money to somebody else, help me out a little bit. Help yourself out because remember I said, “help yourself out”? Because it’s all about taking away. I’m going to take this whole dream of yours, and then in the middle of it I told you why you needed to because all those things you told me. I reminded you you had to, whatever the reason was, I brought that back, and I’m just negotiating with you, but you’re really just negotiating with yourself because I have yet to say a number.
Josh: I’d like a Svengali.
Brandon: Well, how does somebody get like that? How do I improve my negotiation skills? How do our listeners improve our negotiation skills? I mean, if it’s not found in a book—which I do want to recommend, there’s a book called Pitch Anything, both Josh and I read it.
Josh: Oh, fantastic.
Brandon: Fantastic book all about this exact kind of topic. Really great, Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff, I think it was?
Josh: Something like that.
Brandon: Yeah, Oren Klaff. Anyway. Pitch Anything was kind of a lot about this. Reminds me a lot of—I think, Michael, I think you’d like it cause it’s just like this stuff, but you’re not likely going to get good at this in a book. I mean, I read the book, and I’m not any better at it. Maybe a little, but anyway how do I improve my skills here?
Michael: Well, the same way I guess I did. You go and buy a house with a bad check, and you realize that’s not the right way to do it, and you get to a point, you know, one of the things for me I learned, and it was like this magically thing I learned is that when someone I’m negotiating with gives me something, like, so I’m talking to you, and someone else in the room or yourself says, “Mike, would you like a beer?” or, “would you like a bottle of water?” or, “would you like a soda?” and I’d always say: if it was a beer – no, soda – kinda, water – yes, but then I started thinking about all the times they gave me something then every time they did I got a contract signed. So, I learned that the moment someone gave me something I was done selling. My negotiation was done. They were ready to go, and I could just completely go to contract and we were satisfied, and it’s learning those little itty-bitty things is how you learn this stuff. It’s just trial and error. Somedays you go, “well, I can’t say that because this guy’s grumpy and blah, blah, blah,” well, if you get to the point where you’re with a grumpy person if you haven’t mimicked him and paced him enough to have him not as grumpy then we haven’t done our job, and we can’t go in the negotiation skill set. If someone’s just an arrogant you-know-what and they’re just not going to communicate cause they’re Mr. Grumpy I can’t go and say, “so, that’s the least you’ll do?” cause he’ll say, “get the F-ing out of my room,” sort of thing, or, “house,” right?
Michael: But the moment I can pace you back to the conversation that I want to direct, and you’ve listened to me, and my voice in a manner that makes you go, “okay, that was an important word, that wasn’t an important word,” and makes you start agreeing with me, and I shake my head up and down so you shake yours up and down it works.
Josh: As I watch, as you even say that, you’ve got Brandon shaking his head.
Brandon: Well, I did that on purpose. I wanted to see if I could get you to shake your head, Josh.
Josh: Nah, I can’t be hypnotized by that.
Brandon: Yeah, whatever. Alright, so, go ahead.
Michael: So, where do they learn it? I think they learn it through practice, and I always tell people, you know, the best people to practice on are people that don’t believe you can be successful? So, you tell mom, or you tell dad, “I want to be a real estate investor,” you tell your best friend, or your boss, or whoever, and everybody’s going to tell you, “you can’t do that. You’re not smart enough to do that. You’ve tried to do things before, and you’ve always failed. Blah, blah, blah, blah,” use that person as your guinea pig because the moment that we can turn our nay-sayers into positive people, turn them around, I can talk to a seller after that all day long. If I go out and try to do this with my wife who’s never going to be critical with me unless she’s mad at me then I can’t learn what I can learn with a nay-sayer. So, I actually need, and I always tell people this: go and role play with your friends, but don’t tell them you’re role playing. Your obstacle tonight is not to buy any beer. So, you’re going to go to your friend using embedded commands, pacing, and neuro-linguistics and they’re going to buy you all the beer you’re going to drink tonight, and after you’re done you just tell them, “thank you for helping me learn my role-playing techniques,” and they’ll call you a couple words, but that’s how you do it.
Brandon: That’s funny. So, alright, so we talked about—
Michael: It’s as simple as: Brandon, you can’t buy me another beer? I mean, after everything we’ve been through in life? You can’t buy me a beer?
Brandon: I guess I could buy you one.
Josh: Brandon, you bought him beers last time, and the time before that, and the time before that, why do you keep buying him beers?
Brandon: I’m uh—
Michael: Because I keep asking.
Josh: There ya go!
Brandon: So, where does this take place? We talked about the phone, and we talked about in person. You said that you—
Michael: Well, let’s get back to the phone.
Brandon: Okay, yeah, please.
Michael: Can we get back to the phone?
Brandon: Yeah, so what do we do on the call?
Michael: There’s five important questions you have to ask a seller.
Brandon: That’s right. That’s what I wanted to hear.
Michael: So, no matter how good your marketing is you’re always going to get calls from people that don’t want to sell a house. They pretend they do, but they don’t. So, here’s the call, and if either of you would like to role-play that would be great, or not. So, the first call.
Brandon: I’m down.
Michael: If the phone said, “ring, ring, ring,” and I said, “hello, this is Michael,” then someone has to say something. Like, “I have a house to sell. I called about an ad. I called about a bandit sign. I saw your wrap on your vehicle. I’m calling about selling you a house,” right?
Michael: The first question I have to ask you is: do you have a house to sell?
Michael: You do?
Brandon: I do.
Michael: Terrific! Is it currently listed with a real estate professional?
Brandon: No, it is not.
Michael: No, it is not. Outstanding. In today’s market place what do you think the home would sell for?
Brandon: I don’t know. The house down the street sold for $125,000.
Michael: You don’t know, and the house down the street sold for $125,000? Ouch.
Michael: Well, can you do me a favor?
Michael: Can you spend some time this weekend, or this next week, and maybe do some research on how much your property is worth? You can call a real estate agent, or you can drive by and you’ll probably see signs with flyer boxes, and then when you know, or have a good idea of what your home is worth can you call me back so I’ll buy it?
Brandon: I mean, it’s probably, it’s not as nice as the one down the street so it’s probably, like, $100,000, or something.
Michael: Oh, so it’s worth $100,000? Perfect, and, Brandon, knowing that I can buy for cash, and can close on the day of your choice, what’s the least amount of money that you’ll sell it for?
Brandon: I mean, I’d really like to get $100,000. I would like to get $100,000.
Michael: You would like to get $100,000, but can you see yourself doing less than that?
Brandon: We’re back to this again.
Michael: Well, aren’t these the important things? Because if we don’t have a person that wants to sell a house, or the house is listed with a real estate agent there’s nothing to buy. Third, if they don’t know what their house is worth I can’t slap them in the face telling them what their house is worth.
So, cause I don’t know what they’re thinking. Someone might think that their house is worth $500,000, in a $100,000 neighborhood. I’m not going to be the one that says that. They’re going to have to go find someone else, or something else that’s going to give them that information because when they have it from a third party now the third party’s the evil one, not me, and if they still want to sell then they know that the sales price that they have has to be reasonably in line with $100,000, not the $500,000 they were thinking, and my goal is always to go out to a house where the seller has said, “I want what it’s worth, or less,” so you could have said, “no, I want $100,000,” I would’ve gotten the address, asked you a couple more questions, I would’ve sent you an alternate choice appointment. So, I would have asked, “is 4 o’clock, or 2 o’clock tomorrow better for me to come out and buy your house? I wouldn’t say things, like, “what time tomorrow?” or, “can I come by tomorrow?” cause I’m giving you the power, and I’m also not the person that you believe is going to actually buy your house so you’re going to call someone else because if we don’t solve the urgency issue for sellers they’re getting another postcard from someone else. They’ll just pick that postcard up and dial that number, but when they know that the house is sold to a professional who’s willing to say, “I’m buying your house, and I’m going to close it on the day of your choice,” and treat them reasonably, and responsibly then they stop calling, and now we have an appointment to go buy a house. That’s what we’re there for, and so that’s the phone call, and when you do it you have less appointments to go on.
Brandon: Which makes sense. One of that things I tend to do when I get phone calls is I want to go look at every property. I mean, cause I kind of get stuck on, “well, what do I ask them next? They want to sell, okay. Where do I go from here?” So, then I go and waste time looking at a property that was just a waste of time because 9 out of 10 homes are probably not going to be even worth looking at.
Josh: Well, so you’ve pre-screened them, right? You’ve got these questions, you go through it, you pre-screen them, and then you show up and now you’re kind of rehashing the entire conversation, but at that point now, say Brandon originally came at you and said, “I wanted the $125,000,” you kind of got him down to say $100,000 plus or minus, and you think you’ve got more room to bring him down when you show up at the door, right? So, you’re not going to show up at the door if you think he’s stuck at $115,000-$120,000, but since you knew that you could get him down to, say $100,000 plus or minus, maybe there’s some room in there for ya. There’s some meat on the bone. So, that’s going to be the lead that you’ll follow up with, you’ll show up, and then you’ll kind of do this Svengali thing where you bring him down from $100,000 to $83,000.
Michael: Well, they’re bringing themselves down because they’re the ones that’s doing it. They’re absolutely agreeing with themselves that they’re lowering their price. Because I always tell sellers this: you know, I’ve never bought a house from a seller who’s not agreed to sell me their house.
Josh: That makes sense. Well, yeah, I mean, they have to, obviously, sure.
Michael: Right. So, I’ve never bought one from a seller who’s disagreed with selling me their house.
Michael: Everyone that I have bought, and I’ve probably gotten close to 1,000 of people who believe in what I do, who have gone through the program of getting out what they needed to get out of, whatever situation that they were in; whether it’s divorce, or foreclosure, or whatever. I’ve solved a lot of family problems, and I can solve them for you too.
Brandon: So, you said 1,000 that you’ve bought. Is that how many properties you think you’ve bought now in your career?
Michael: Yeah, I know I’m well over 500, and I should count, but it’d be close to 1,000.
Brandon: Wow. That’s crazy.
Michael: Well, but I’m old. I was right there with Jesus.
Brandon: Were you, like, really sad when all the dinosaurs died off?
Michael: Yeah, I was.
Brandon: That was rough.
Josh: And Social Security number is 1. Well, let’s talk about that. We’re at probably about an hour, and really quick, this is show 77 of the BiggerPockets podcast with Michael Quarles. By the way, just for those people listening, if you’re a newbie real estate investor and you’ve never checked this thing out we’ve put together something called The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Real Estate Investing. You can find it at BiggerPockets.com/UBG and it’s got all sorts of really, really good starter tips, and information for learning about investing. It’s totally free. Definitely check that out. We just want to remind folks because we always find people listening to the show saying, “okay, cool I’m motivated, I’m pumped, but I don’t know what’s the difference between flipping houses and lease options,” so that guide really is helpful, that’s why I mention it.
Anyway, Michael, so we’ve covered negotiation. We really wanted to cover marketing, but we’re way longer than we thought we’d be so I think we’re going to have to bring you back and talk about the marketing so we’re going to plan to do that, but since we have you let’s talk a little bit more about you, your experiences, these 500-1,000 deals. What kind of, you know, the early period was a lot of this new construction stuff. It sounds like you’ve done a bunch of flips. Maybe you could tell us what the ratio, or what kind of deals you’ve done overall?
Michael: Well, being in Bakersfield our median house price is pretty low. Right now it’s about $140,000 or so.
Josh: Not quite Detroit.
Michael: Yeah, we’re not as low, or not quite Los Angeles on the other spectrum.
Michael: So, we can buy a lot of real estate pieces here for low value which makes it easier than if someone’s in San Diego or New York or something where there are $750,000 cheap houses. I don’t have that problem. So, I buy a lot of low-income. I always say if you’re going to market to somebody and try to attract someone that fits the mentality of the person that will sell at a discount then you have to be at 2/3rds the median value. So, if my median is $140,000 then I have to be playing at that $100,000 range or lower, and so those houses are the ones I market to, and sellers call me and go through my script. When I get out, no one ever tells you, by the way, “I’m going to prison,” that’s the motivation. Or, “I’m being abused by my wife,” that’s the motivation, or whatever. You find it all out at the front door, and you have to be real conscientious of not displaying, like, that look of, like, “oh my gosh. You did what?!” when you see it.
I mean, I remember the time that I bought the house from the nice, nice, nice lady. I always require sellers to show me the house. Actually walk the house with me, but she couldn’t, she was physical unable to get off the couch kind of thing, and the rule there is: if you can’t, you can’t. So, I looked at this house. I was going through this house, and I got to the master bedroom and there was a deadbolt on the interior door of the master bedroom, and I found the rat. I found the reason something was going on here. So, I finished up, and I went back and I sat on the couch with her, and I said, “so, tell me about the deadbolt on the door in the master bedroom,” and she said, “well, that’s my son’s room,” I said, “it’s your son’s room? Really?” “In fact, he doesn’t know I’m selling the house,” “he doesn’t know you’re selling the house? Ouch. So, how can I help you?” and she said, “I’m tired of him beating me up, and I need to sell my house. I do not want him to know. Whatever you do with him after I’m gone,” I said, “well, is he on the deed?” and she said, “no,” I confirmed it, I bought the house, I took her pain away, and dealt with the tenant after I owned it.
Those are the types of people we deal with. We deal with, you know, the guy who—and this was a strange one. The guy who died, and his family went to get all of his possessions out of the house, and he has his Bible room, and his porn room, and they couldn’t deal with it. You know, you buy the houses from all these people that can’t sell it traditionally.
So, everybody always asks, “well, why don’t they just sell it? Why would anybody discount their property?” Well, cause they have to. Realtors wouldn’t take their opportunity. They don’t want someone else in their house.
I mean, I went and bought a house from, you know, when there’s cameras on the outside of the eaves in the front of the house, you kinda know something’s going on inside the house.
Brandon: Well, what do you, I mean, when you buy a house what are you doing with these? I guess, you’re a flipper, right? Do you do house flips? What are you doing with them after you buy them, or are you renting them?
Michael: Oh, no, I’m not a land lord.
Brandon: You have some disdain in your voice, there.
Michael: Yeah, well, land lording and wholesaling—
Josh: Well, I can imagine him as a land lord, by the way, I mean, you would be, Michael, you probably should be a land lord cause you would be, just, you would hypnotize your tenants. “You will pay on the first,” “I can’t,” “you’re saying you can’t, but what I’m hearing is: you’re going to”.
Michael: Well, there’s a different reason why I can’t be a land lord, but anyway. You got me off the question. What was the question?
Brandon: Yeah, what are you doing with these houses? Are you flipping?
Michael: Well, I’m absolutely flipping. So, I’m not wholesaling, and I’m not rehabbing. In fact, on the BiggerPockets little check marks of what you do it’s not there. I buy property as is at the as is value, at a percentage off the as is value, and I sell it at 100% of the value. So, my contract allows me, when I get a house under contract, to instantly start marketing It, even though I have equitable interest, and I could anyway they’ve actually gave me that written permission and being a broker in California I can pop that thing on the Multiple Listing Service and get 100% on the dollar. Every time that someone’s living in the house I put a For Sale sign in the front yard. They could go read the flyer if they want, and they know that they sold me the house for $40,000 and I’m selling it for $80,000. They know that. They just need their $40,000 and we’re doing the offer subject to interior inspection so they’re not bombarded with real estate agents. There’s not a lock box on the house so no one can get in kinda thing, but I’m marketing the property. So, I’m buying it as is, selling it as is, and when you start dealing with 2/3rds of median you have two types of buyers: you have your investor buyer who wants to buy it, rehab it, gain equity by rehabbing it, and then you have your tenant buyer who wants to do the same thing, and it’s a great market. So, when you play in that low income cost market you can buy a lot more, and sell a lot more, and you sell it fast. You don’t have any issues with seasoning because everything is a cash transaction, and you’d be surprised how many people have $100,000 cash when they don’t look like they have $100,000 cash.
Josh: So, I guess I’m a little confused. You’re putting them under contract with the intent of actually buying them.
Michael: Oh, I always buy. I never pass.
Josh: Okay, so you’re not wholesaling at all, and in the end you’re buying it. Okay.
Michael: I just know that I have an average of 93 days that I have to expire to sell a house so I might as well start expiring those 93 days as soon as possible. So, sometimes those 93 days, because it’s an average, is a week after I’m closing my escrow, or the next day after I’m closing my escrow.
Brandon: Wait, I’m confused. What do you mean?
Michael: Well, I know I have 93 days, on average once I have a contract it’s going to take me 93 days to sell a house.
Michael: Sometimes that’s a week, and sometimes that’s 6 months, but I’m always buying and I’m not fixing up.
Brandon: So who are you, I mean, like you said, probably to investors?
Josh: That’s where I was confused. You said, I thought you said that you sell at 100% of value, investors probably aren’t buying at 100% of value so it sounds like—
Brandon: Not all investors are smart, either.
Michael: And here’s the paradigm, here’s what a normal investor looks like and what they do: they hear, overhear, do something, tax strategies, buy a rental kind of thing. They go to a realtor magazine on their way in to get their beer, or cigarettes, or soda, they pick up their realtor magazines, they flip through it for the best looking person that they like. So, that’s why realtors use their picture from ten years ago. So, they call that realtor and that realtor says, “yes, we’re in a low inventory, but I can absolutely sell you a house. You’re probably going to have to make a 100% to a 110% offer on the property”.
In fact, we have one over there on South Street that’s actually lower than what the other houses are going for. It needs a little work, and that’s how they get sold. So, my current cost, because I’m buying it as is value, and not ARV value, and most houses are sold at ARV value and not at as is value, right?
Michael: If the as is value is $100,000, and I’m buying it for $50,000, and an investor buys it at $100,000, rehabs and sells it for $175,000 I don’t care.
Brandon: Yup. Now, is this what people call wholetailing? I mean, I hear that term comes from—
Michael: Could be.
Brandon: Okay, so, I mean, it’s a fascinating thing.
Michael: Well, I mean, it’s so much easier. I mean, you’re not at Home Depot every morning at 6:30 buying stuff that people need to put houses back together.
Brandon: Well, would you say this is all predicated upon living in an area that’s a hot market, right? I mean, when I think of my market where the average time on market is 180 days or whatever right now, and it’s still, like, houses sell at 80% of whatever they’re asking. I mean, that doesn’t seem that it’s going to work out in my area. Is that correct?
Michael: Well, all I know is it worked in my area, or it has worked in my area, when we were in a bad market, or a good market.
Michael: Because there’s motivated sellers in every market. So, when you’re in a bad market you mitigate some of the costs of holding onto a property where some of the true resale value is, you still are at a percentage of that so you mitigate all of that with a lower value, or lower cost. So, you will still buy at 50 cents on the dollar, or 60 cents on the dollar, and you’ll still sell at 100 cents on the dollar, and maybe if you’re on the market for—your average market time is 18 months you have to mitigate that 18 months by the lower cost that you give the seller.
Josh: Yeah, hey, Michael, so we gotta kinda wrap up this segment. Before we do—
Michael: Oh, I’m sorry.
Josh: No, that’s okay. I’ve got a quick question: it seems like there’s a deal to be had pretty much in any market as long as you know how to find it, and I believe that’s your area of expertise, one of your many areas of expertise obviously, and, as I had alluded to earlier, we definitely want to dig more into that. Since we’re out of time mostly we’re going to probably save that for another show, but really quickly: you said you bought only one property off the MLS, is that correct?
Michael: My very first one.
Josh: Okay, so everything else you’ve gotten from some form of marketing. Why don’t we do this? We’ll plan to bring Michael back at some point in the next couple months. Keep you guys waiting, thirsty.
Michael: I think marketing is probably more important than anything else you learn in business because once you learn marketing you can own any business.
Josh: Absolutely, and we’re definitely going to go there.
Brandon: This would be a four-hour show if we try to hit it all right now.
Josh: Yeah. So, what we’ll do is we’re going to transition to the Fire Round, get to the back of the show, and we’ll look forward, for those of you guys who are ooh-ing, and aww-ing, and yelling just make sure to yell at Brandon cause he didn’t schedule enough time. I don’t know.
Brandon: Yeah, let’s do the Fire Round, and then we’ll take it out.
Michael: That doesn’t even sound good. Can I duck?
Josh: No, it’s not the firing squad, it’s the Fire Round.
It’s time for the Fire Round
Brandon: The Fire Round. These questions all come from the BiggerPockets forums so, Michael, you’ve probably seen a lot of these. We’re just going to fire them at you, and see what you have to say, see what your opinion is.
Number one, Now, I heard you say you had yours, but real estate license. Should an investor get one or not? We ask this question a lot, but I think it’s important.
Brandon: Really? Why is that? I know it’s the Fire Round.
Michael: No, because I think in the beginning of someone’s career, it’s just like they shouldn’t get a website, they shouldn’t get a license, what they should do is get a bunch of business cards and pass them out like when they do they get $1,000 so stop doing all the itty-bitty things getting ready to be successful just go start being successful, and then when you are successful and you start having reasons to have these things, like an LLC, or website, or a license, at that point get those things, but don’t set yourself up and spend all your marketing dollars on stuff that you don’t need today.
Brandon and Josh: Yeah.
Michael: It would be like me buying reserve amounts of gas. Like, I’m going to go out and buy a million gallons of gas to use, you know, five years from now. Well, it doesn’t make sense. So, let’s just start, and so I don’t think so. I mean, especially with the internet now realtors are, there are more realtors than realtors have opportunity so if you find the aggressive ones sometimes those are older realtors, and established realtors, sometimes those are green realtors, but you find an aggressive realtor that will sit down, and even if neither of you know anything about anything putting two heads together when they’re like minded you’ll have success, and have them help you. Once you get to a certain point then yes, get your real estate license. It’s not the license as an agent that you want, it’s the license as a broker because until you’re a broker, and you can get a broker in most states with just a four-year college degree, if you don’t have that then you need a couple years’ experience as a real estate agent, but that’s when you can start controlling the contracts that you have because as a broker when you’re a realtor you’re still obligated with the broker that you have so everything you do is really the broker’s.
Josh: Nice. Alright, well next question: would you ever purchase a condo or townhome, something under an HOA, in your dealings? Your flips, or your wholetails, whatever we’re going to label them, do you think it’s a good idea?
Michael: I wouldn’t do condos, especially in some markets where the condos are highly tenant occupied because then some of the financing is really tough to get, and then the other thing is HOAs on a condo are so heavy and move so fast that they price themselves out, but I’m not a land lord anyway, and I like single-family structures. I just love them. Even though in our area we have a lot of association fees that are attached to our single family structures they’re not as expensive as a condo association fee so I wouldn’t.
Brandon: Alright, cool. Next question: do you have any tips on finding a fantastic title company?
Michael: Yeah, I think the easiest way to do that is to call up five of the most popular real estate agents, and whether you know that’s the truth or not so if you find five people that you think are the most popular, who are the best ones in your area, call them up and ask who they use. Call the sales manager up at those title companies, and ask that sales manager to refer you to a sales rep, ask that sales rep to refer you to customer service, and also get an interview with you with an escrow officer, and as you start building that team, and say you have five different ones: when you start interviewing all those people, and see how customer services work, see how escrow officers work, see how the title manager’s working when you do all that you’ll find that person. You’ll find that company, but it all starts with someone else using them, and the reason I always say go five big guys, or big gals from a production perspective is: sometimes, because we don’t have the experience, we want to use the credibility that someone else has to be able to walk through the door.
So, if I call an escrow manager, or title manager and I say, “Bill Jones, this power house, top notch real estate agent referred me to you to talk to you about my career in real estate,” that manager’s now going to give you some credibility, and some time of day because he doesn’t know what your relationship is with this other agent that he wants the business from, and once you have that then you can start interviewing and finding the person.
Josh: Nice, that’s great. What about finding an investor friendly real estate agent? As I’m sure you well know, I’d say most agents by far know nothing about investing so how do you find the good ones?
Michael: Well, I wouldn’t. I’m going to back it up there. I would find an agent to, if I want one, an agent or broker to list my property because I don’t need them to buy my properties because I don’t buy that way, and here’s the reason I don’t buy off of the MLS, and I could because I pay the friggin’ $1,800 a year dues, but here’s a listing agent. They go out to take a listing to a seller, and they say to the seller, “it’s worth 100 cents on the dollar. Of that 100 cents I want you to give me 6 cents,” seller says, “great, let’s do it,” I come along as a real estate investor and say, “yeah, but I can’t give him 100 cents, I can only give him 70 cents, but can you make me that offer?” “well, I can’t make him that offer because I just convinced him to hire me by telling him it’s worth 100 cents,” “well, but I want you to make him that offer,” “well, how can I? I don’t want to lose my credibility,” now if I’m another agent that’s just making them an offer and presenting it to that agent, that agent will ask this question of a seller: do you want me to show you offers which are less than listed price? If he or she asks that question that agent doesn’t have to show anybody those lower offers, and so for that reason alone I can’t see the MLS being viable.
The other thing I don’t see the MLS being viable is: from a purchase perspective, unless you’re a passive income earner and then I’d totally get it, is the 6% of $100,000, that $6,000 in commission I equate it to advertising, and I can do more with the $6,000 in advertising and finding more opportunity than I can buying that one opportunity. So, it’s really what’s the best use of my dollar because ultimately, even though sellers authorize the payment of commission, it’s coming out of the buyer’s funds. So, truly the buyers are paying for that other realtor.
Brandon: Because the price of the property is then higher to compensate for that, and all that.
Michael: Right. So, that’s the conversation I have with the seller. It’s that, because you don’t have an agent it’s lower kind of thing, and I can justify that because I always tell them, you know, one of the things appraisers do is they appraise the value based upon a real estate agent being involved. It’s much like they would increase your value if you had a swimming pool. Well, they’re going to increase the value because you have an agent. Because you don’t have an agent, and you don’t have a swimming pool we have to decrease the value, and it makes sense when you start telling people things like that.
Brandon: Yeah, I mean, that’s a good point to bring up to people so cool. Well, why don’t we head to the last segment of the show which we call the—
Brandon: Alright, these questions we ask every single guest, and so we’re going to throw them at you here. The first one we kind of covered earlier a little bit so I think I know your answer, but do you have a favorite real estate book?
Michael: The Bible.
Brandon: Okay, not quite real estate.
Michael: It’s kind of taught me everything I need to know. Other than that, and one of the reasons I didn’t read anybody’s book is because I didn’t know anybody wrote a book about it. No one told me. I didn’t have any friends out there that were real estate investors, and then the more I got into writing my own books I surely didn’t read any then because I didn’t want to take anybody else’s idea and write about it. That would be kinda wrong. So, no, I would say the Bible.
Brandon: Okay. Would you say the same as a business book?
Josh: That’s my question.
Brandon: Go on, Josh, ask it.
Josh: No, you stole my thunder.
Brandon: Well, sorry.
Michael: I didn’t hear it. I didn’t hear what he said.
Josh: Alright, good. I’m glad we got an old guy as our guest so I can ask the question again. No, I’m just kidding, Michael, what about a business book? Do you have a favorite business book?
Michael: I do. Michael Gerber’s E-myth, and whether it’s the first one, or the professional, or contractor, or whatever.
Josh: That’s not my dog in the background!
Brandon: That’s not my dog!
Michael: That’s my fierce Chihuahua.
Josh: I never saw you as a Chihuahua kinda guy, Michael.
Michael: Well, her name is Precious by the way just so everybody—
Josh: And she licks the peanut butter off his fingers.
Michael: That’s not where I put the peanut butter.
Josh: Oh, Jesus.
Brandon: Alright, next question.
Josh: Next question: what do you do for fun? Wait, let’s skip that one. We just covered that. Next!
Brandon: Yeah, what are your hobbies, Michael?
Michael: When I was younger I enjoyed boxing and MMA so I was one of those stupid people who would go and get beat up, and I always found that fun. It was like my personal chess match, but with harm. Like, oh they took my pawn? No, they knocked me out, kinda thing.
Brandon: Whenever people on the podcast say they do fighting of some kind I always challenge them to a fight at the next BiggerPockets summit; I’m not challenging you. I’m not taking Michael on, so.
Michael: Well, I would just ask you: are you sure you want to do this?
Brandon: Is that the best you can do?
Josh: Is that the best offer you’ve got?
Brandon: Yeah, so we’re not fighting. Alright, final question from me: what do you believe sets apart successful real estate investors from those that give up, fail, or never get started?
Michael: Drive. I think, I mean, just because we want to do something doesn’t inherently mean we want to do it. It just means that we’ve said we wanted to do it. So, it’s the people that go: okay, I want to do it so how am I going to now start orchestrating it? Well, I’m going to write it down. I’m going to start visualizing it. I’m going to start with some affirmations about why this is important in my life. I’m going to tell people that are important. I’m going to ask people to hold me accountable. They are going to take steps that say: I’m going to be successful because I want to be successful. Over the person that says: I want to be a real estate investor. I’m going to be.
You know, one of the weirdest things, when I was on stage one of the things I used to ask people in the audience is: anybody here who has a business card on them that says, “I buy houses,” or, “we buy houses,” or something about buying houses? Stand up. And only a third of the room would stand up. Well, that told me instantly 2/3rds of the room were not real estate investors because they didn’t believe in it enough to say they were by buying a $12 item so they could carry it around and have an opportunity to buy a house.
The other thing is, when I ask someone what do you do? Well, someone can ask me what do I do, and I’m a broker, I have a contractor’s license, I’ve written books on the subject, and I have a print company, a little one, but I tell them I’m a real estate investor. So, until you start living it. I’m not an engineer, I’m not a doctor, I’m not an attorney, I’m not a school teacher, I’m not unemployed, I’m not a salesperson, I’m a real estate investor. Until they start saying that they will not succeed. You have to believe it to be successful in it.
Josh: That’s really great. Yeah, we haven’t had anyone actually say that before, and it makes a whole heck of a lot of sense so that’s great. Well, Michael, it’s been a lot of fun. I’m going to have a lot of nightmares, and weird visions, but we really, really do appreciate you taking the time. Where can people find you? Find out more information about you?
Michael: Anybody that’s listening to this and wants to chat, wants to learn anything that I’ve talked about free of charge, get me on the phone. Call my office over at YellowLetters.com with an S, ask Norma to get ahold of me, I’m rarely there anymore, but if someone needs help understanding how to negotiate, or if they have a seller that’s on the fence, but they don’t know what to say or if they have a Sub2 deal that they don’t know how to put together, I just get a kick out of helping people succeed, and yeah, call me up.
Josh: That’s awesome.
Michael: I’ve people even go, “I have a seller with me, can I hand the phone to them?” and I’ve done deals over the phone.
Brandon: Nice. That’s funny. I want to throw out there also: Michael is always answering questions in the forums about this kind of stuff. So, yeah, Michael is very, very helpful in answering this stuff so yeah definitely get in touch.
Michael: Sometimes too direct.
Josh: Nah, we’ve never had that happen before. Alright, well, listen; this is show 77 of the BiggerPockets podcast. Check out the show notes at BiggerPockets.com/show77, and you can ask Michael any questions you have there. As Brandon said he’s pretty much always on the forum so feel free to jump in and ask questions there, and of course, hit him up at his website, or give a call. I’m not sure you’re, Norma was it? Is going to love the influx of calls that you’re going to get from this show, but thanks a lot, and we really do appreciate having you on, and we will certainly schedule another show to finish up the stuff that we want to get to next time.
Michael: It was fun. Thank you guys.
Brandon: Thank you.
Josh: Thanks so much.
Michael: Okay, talk to you soon.
Josh: Alright, guys, that was Michael Quarles. I hope you guys enjoyed the show as much as I did. Show 77 of the BiggerPockets podcast. The show notes are at BiggerPockerts.com/show77. As we had mentioned a couple times we’re definitely going to do a follow-up with Michael and get into the marketing side of things, but hopefully you enjoyed that. I know, Brandon, you enjoyed getting your backside beat.
Brandon: I did. I mean, I’m admittedly not very good at negotiation so I learned a ton, and I think most people that listened probably picked up a couple things they could use in their life.
Josh: He worked you, dude.
Brandon: He did, he did. Man, now I’ve gotta try strategies on people in my own life.
Josh: Yeah, for sure. Alright, guys, I don’t know about you, but I thoroughly enjoyed the backside whooping that Brandon endured on that show, what do you think?
Brandon: I don’t know if I’d say “whooping” but, you know, I learned a thing or two.
Josh: He literally straight dominated you.
Brandon: Yeah, he’s a good negotiator.
Josh: He is. He is indeed. Well, that was a lot of fun, and so a big, big, big thanks to Michael Quarles for joining us, again, on the show, and as I mentioned earlier guys since Michael is well-known for his expertise in the field of marketing we will certainly be having him back on the show down the line so stay tuned for that, but that’s it. So, show 77 of the BiggerPockets podcast. If you have any questions for Michael regarding any of the content of the show definitely go to the show notes at BiggerPockets.com/show77.
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Josh: Yes, exciting. Alright, if anyone’s still listening I’m going to let Brandon take it out because I feel bad for him.
Brandon: Thanks, yeah, I’ve been sitting here falling asleep while you’re rambling. Alright, this is show 77 of the BiggerPockets podcast, I am your cohost, Brandon Turner, signing off.
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