Sharon Vornholt started out in the real estate industry running a home inspection business in the Louisville, Kentucky area. She had a great business going but when she discovered real estate investing that was all it took to get her hooked. In this episode Mark Ferguson asks Sharon about her story, the transition into investing in real estate, and the things she’s discovered along the way.
In 2008 the bottom fell out of the real estate market in Louisville, Kentucky and Sharon Vornholt decided it was time to stop being a landlord and became a full-time real estate investor. Her favorite means of investing is wholesaling, which means buying distressed properties and turning them around quickly by selling them to cash buyers – either house flippers or landlords. Sharon shares how she goes about that process in this episode of The InvestFourMore Podcast.
What does it take to be effective at wholesaling? Sharon Vornholt is convinced that one of the main things needed is an aptitude or skill in marketing. Without marketing, there’s no way to find the right properties or the people who are going to be eager to buy them. Sharon is so convinced that marketing is the most important skill wholesalers need to learn, she does live events to teach investors good marketing practices that can move their businesses forward.
In this great episode of the podcast Sharon Vornholt is going to share why she doesn’t think you need a huge buyer’s list to be successful as a wholesaler, why she does primarily wholesaling over rentals, and the biggest mistake she’s seen most beginning real estate investors make that can cripple their business.
Toward the end of the episode Sharon shares the importance of letting the numbers speak when it comes to assessing a wholesale deal. Too often investors will talk themselves into a deal rather than letting the facts the numbers portray inform them about whether the property is a good deal for them or not. Sharon’s advice is powerful.
All that on this episode and more.
Sharon’s website – https://LouisvilleGalsRealEstateBlog.com/
Sharon’s podcast – Let’s Talk Real Estate Investing
Hi everyone, welcome to the Invest for More Podcast. This is Mark Ferguson with Invest for More. So today I'm super excited to have a great guest on the show, Sharon Vornholt, who is with the Louisvillegalsrealestateblog.com . Sharon has been a real estate investor since 1998, she became a full-time investor in 2008 and here specialty right now is wholesaling, but we are going to talk a lot more about rental properties and what she's doing right now. So thanks a lot for being on the show.
Mark: Sharon, how are you doing?
Sharon: Well, I am great. Thanks for having me, Mark.
Mark: Great. Thank you. First, just a quick introduction. I know you used to run an inspection company – a health inspection company before you became an investors. Is that right?
Sharon: Well in 1991, I opened up a home inspection company and I actually did that for 17 years and round about 1998 was when I started investing in real estate. A realtor friend of mine took me to my first real meeting and I was pretty much hooked from then on and so I just bounced for probably about 10 years and then 2008 I closed the Inspection company and then I started investing full time.
Mark: I would imagine with the home inspection background that give you a huge advantage knowing what you know, you are looking at properties and also you probably had a pretty good idea about the risk [2:36] Mark....in your area; because you are flipping so many house inspection.
Sharon: Yeah, I was just a lowly owner now but I did all of the inspector training with the inspectors so it did give me an edge as far as being able to walk into a house and knowing certain things like the major systems. I knew what to look for, what was going to be expensive, and what maybe looked bad, but that it was really cosmetic. So I would say that was the boldness for sure, and also, you are right. I didn’t know the real estate market, I knew neighborhoods, we did right-on testing which involved some of us picking up right on monitored so that was a problem in our area. Yeah, that is where I really knew the neighborhood. We always knew how much the houses cost we would have that information - would come up during the inspection, so yeah I would say it is a definite edge.
Mark: Now 1998 what was your first real estate investment? Did you do a flip? Were you buying rental properties? What was the first deal that you did?
Sharon: The first deal I did was a rehab. When I figured out I had a plan, and my plan was that I was going to rehab a couple of houses, and then take the money that I've earned from those who already have and buy rental or two, and then what I did for a while, I just kind of went along doing that, and I was a little bit slower doing it, because I had another full-time business, but with I discontinued the working out plans and then in 2008 as you know, the bottom dropped out of the real estate market. So it was really at time. The rehabs were starting to stay on the market a lot longer than they had before; before they either rehab the house, and it would sell prefab, but in Louisville, Kentucky, during 2008 when a dentist really came to a standstill and it wasn't unusual to have a house on the market for non-monetary year, and I just did not want to have my property sitting there, you know, accruing interest on the construction loans and those sorts of things, so it was really at that time I became an accidental wholesaler; I like to tell people. I just got a house and I'm thinking, gosh, I just don’t want to be sitting here with the house, non-mention now, and let's just call that an investor friend and said. "Hey you want to buy a house?" and he said, "Sure," so that was how I ended up segueing into wholesaling.
Mark: I know. When I do my fix and flips, I am still flipping now. I did my first wholesale deal this year. It was kind of accidental as well. It was a property that was 45 miles away from me. I didn’t want to fix it because it was so far away and my contractors didn't want to go out there so I stuck a For Sale by Owner sign in the yard and a couple months later, and of course right when my contractor was finally saying, okay. I guess I can go do that one" Then an agent called me and said, "Hey, is this house for sale?" I said, "Yes.” I told him the price and he said, "okay, we will buy it." and I was like, hey, great! It is a great feeling making a profit without doing any work; but on the flips, I know what your mean. I find getting mine sold in under six months, which doesn’t always happen, but the longer you hold them the more cost you have, and the more risk you have with the market turning on [6:07] us as well, but I can understand.
Sharon: I know it does, I mean everything is affected; because people can break into your house the longer you have it. The vandalism goes up, you know, your insurance costs go up on vacant houses so, it really after, like you said after about six months you really start seeing a dent in your profit.
Mark: Yes. I have had a flip that actually took me over a year that sold this year but that was because it was a massive rehab and most of them I found took that long, but we still made some money on it, thankfully. How many rentals did you end up buying from 1998 to 2008? Were you buying a lot of them or just kinds of buying one here and there?
Sharon: I was just buying one or two along, and actually I have to tell you, I hated being a landlord, but I knew, intellectually, it was the path to wealth, so I hung in there for some years, and then one day I had a friend say to me, you know we were talking about rentals and this was another investor in my area, and he, I don't know; eighty or a hundred at the time. He had a lot of houses, and he said to me," You know, Sharon, you got to have at least 50, and/or you just got to own up to the fact that if you don't have 30 to 50, you just have a painful hobby, and you just need to not do that, and in that moment I thought, "There is just no way I want 50, or a hundred houses, so I am just not doing that." And I just got rid of my rental s and decided that I would find passive income a different way, which is what I have done. But, you know, people, a lot of people like being a landlord, and it just was something that I just hated doing.
Mark: Yes. I can understand that I have 13 rentals now, and my wife and I managed up until we had six, and once we got to six, she pretty much told me, “I'm not going to do this anymore. You got to figure out something else." So that is when we switched the management over to someone on my team and so now we pay them 8% a month to manage our properties. It is so nice. You don't...it cuts into the profit a little bit but it is all worth it not dealing with the hassle and I love having someone else manage them. I still love to buy them, but have someone else take care of the problems and...[8:35].
Sharon: Yeah, I think if you can get the management half of those off your hand and I think you have to have probably at least six or eight to financially be able to do that, unless you're smart enough in the beginning to buy them cheap enough so that when your numbers are all in, like you would know to do that today; when you figure out your numbers for the house that you include the property management fee in there, you’re okay; that if I don't know what you did, but my first few houses, I didn't do that. I always planned on managing them myself, at least, till I got a lot more, so the margins weren't really great, in my case, to add a property manager.
Mark: Right, in the first couple properties I bought, I did not factor for any property management; I didn't factor for any vacancies; I didn't factor for anything. I just assumed everything would be perfect, but you learn pretty quickly that's not the best way to project your income.
Sharon: That is not going to happen, is it?
Mark: Yeah; luckily I got really good deals on them. I always knew how to do that for my flipping, but it didn't make quite as much money as I projected once I realized, oh yeah, even if you repair a house fully before you rent it, things are going to break, people are going to move out, some people will be late on rent; it's just going to happen. Now I preach you how to consider maintenance vacancies, and at some point property management as well.
Sharon: You they are going in and you're okay, but basically when you're brand-new, you don't know what you don't know.
Mark: Yep; exactly. So you switched over to wholesaling and then is that pretty much all you're doing right now, or are you still doing a few rehabs?
Sharon: I'm not; I'm thinking about it, because I really love rehabbing. I like making picking the old house and making it look really pretty; so I really like rehabbing, but for now I am just so busy. I'm primarily just wholesaling.
Mark: How many wholesales do you think you do every month or any given year?
Sharon: You know it changes from year to year, Mark. Last year I didn't do quite as many; because I was concentrating a lot more on the other side of my business. Some years I do a lot; some years I do less. But it just depends. I kind of been moving towards hiring some people to help me on the real estate side of the business so that I can be free to do some more of the teaching and coaching in that event, and those types of things. I still want to invest, but I only have so many hours in the day; so it really depends from year to year where my big focus is.
Mark: I understand that completely. Last year I wanted to buy seven rental properties, and then I ended up having ten flips, fixing flips at one time at the end of the year and all my focus is on flipping, and only about three rentals; and I look back at my goals, and well, all my focus` was on the fix and flipping, it's no wonder I wasn't buying properties and where you focus your time, where you focus your attention, it's amazing how that part of the business will grow and anything else that you are doing, it's just hard to keep it going and strong if you want.
Sharon: It's hard to balance it all, and I think, you know, for me, I have been to slow to add enough keen number. It is really hard for me to give up control, so that's been an issue, and I have told other people, "Don't do what I did. Hire a lot faster than what I've done."
Mark: I would completely agree with that. When I first became really successful in real estate, it wasn't as an investor; it was listing houses as a real estate agent, listing HUD homes and REO properties and for a while there, I was working 12 hour days, working the weekends, and luckily at that time I didn't have kids yet, but I did have a wife, and there was no way I could keep it going, and I was almost forced to hire somebody and, and you don't realize how much that weighs on you working that much, and also you have the choice of relegating things you don’t want to do, and when you don't have to do the stuff that annoys you, you get so much happier, and get so much more done; it is just amazing.
Sharon: And you know, I was talking to someone recently, and he said you can be the cog in the wheel. Sometimes you need to get out of the way and so that your team members can actually jump in there and they can keep things rolling. When everything has to come by you, and everything stops on your desk; that in itself is a problem, even after you have team members. So it's really hard to figure it all out; because, let's face it, entrepreneurs are Type A control freaks, and they just don't want to give up that hold on whatever it is.
Mark: Not only does it slow things down, but I realize that I can't do everything better than everybody else, you kind of thing that. "Oh I don't want to hire somebody because they might mess up this task or they might screw this up and cost me business," and once you hire them you realize, " Oh wait a second, these things are being done faster" and with better quality than I was doing them, because I didn't have the time to do them and I was hurrying to do things, and with this person just focusing on that, all of a sudden I am doing my job better now. You can hardly get over it; but it is really hard to take that step, to hire that person, but then you realize the money you spent, make you much, much more money, and your wholesale property, I know I find most of my deals on the MLS. I do, do some direct marketing here and there, but you are primarily getting your properties off market, is that still the case?
Sharon: Yeah, I did because, once again I mean, I know you have agents and you have a little bit better; probably a whole lot better system for finding properties on the and MLS. Yeah, my deals are mostly all off market. I get some leads through my website, still get some referrals, but yes, I do a lot of direct-mail.
Mark: How did you get started doing direct-mail? Was that during a real estate club, or did you have a mentor or somebody helped you with that, or was it your own research? How did that all get started?
Sharon: Well actually we did direct-mail in the home inspection business. You got remember back in 1991 with actually, really before the Internet, you know with.. .well just getting started I guess in the early 90s. So there weren't things like lead generation websites and things like that; but we did direct-mail you know this would be kind of comical today, but we use to go deliver flyers and put them in the realtor mailboxes. We did all of those sorts of things, so when I started investing, it was just a natural fit that I would do direct-mail and if you are targeting absentee owners, a lot of different niches, that's the way you're going to reach them, is through direct-mail. They are not going to show up on the MLS unless they decide to list their house and then it may or may not be an investor deal. It may not be a distressed property, you know. If you are not a realtor and you don't have that option of then listing that house, then you are going to lose a lot; you're going to lose a lot of leads that way.
Mark: No. Very true. I do of direct-mail into absentee owners and I am trying to perfect my system. It is tough to figure out how many to send out and when to send them out, and then also my biggest problem which I am trying to fix now; because I used to have all the calls go to my cell phone. I am really bad at answering my phone, so most of them were not getting answered, and then many times those people aren't leaving voice mails. So I know we are losing a lot of calls that way, so we changed it to a dedicated cell phone for now. Only those calls go to one number and then we can call everybody back whether they leave a message or not; and I stuck one of my team members on it. He is an awesome agent and I know will follow up and call them back, and that has helped so far; but is that somewhat how you do it; you have a dedicated phone number and someone else do the calling or are you doing all the calling yourself still?
Sharon: Well, I have been having a lot of things. I have tried different things I have them go through a Google voice number; I've tried different, different things, and none of them I have been real happy with, because I'm kind of like you; you get busy and you miss the calls. Like if I'm on this podcast right now, and my phone rings, I can't answer the phone. So that's a call that you can't answer; so I think it's best if you can have someone to answer your phone. Now you see, in you in your case you got people in your office; but if you don't have someone in your office, there are a couple of service, and I just talked to a lady recently, and she answers telephones for real estate investors, and so I think she is something I am going to be putting that out there to folks; because there's really only been one name in town where that was concerned pretty much you know, Pat Lab and this gal, has been trained by Ron McGrann, so she seem to have a pretty good grasp, you know, with her people. She trained her people to answer the phone, so yeah, it's a challenge; because here's the other part of it, when you been doing this for 20 years, you don't particularly want to pick up the phone every time, and your phone needs to be answered. That's kind of the way it is; you just get tired of always being slave to your phone.
Mark: Yes. I completely agree and it's really bad now. I have been trying to shift my business so that I don't have to answer my phone, because it is one of the things I dislike the most and anymore I don't even...my phone doesn't ring and I don't even have it on vibrate. The only way I know it is ringing is if I see it on the screen light up, but I have setup so my team takes the calls, because I am not as good on the phone as they are and I am not good answering it, so I know I will get better results if I have someone else doing it and I focus on the things I'm best at. Okay very cool. So, you have done the wholesaling, you have done the rehabbing, you have done the rental properties and I am not sure how long it has been, but you have been shifting a lot towards your online presence helping coach people, and you got your blog. It's louisvillegalsrealestateblog.com . How did you start that blog? How did it come into your head?
Sharon: I thought it was a good way to build a brand and really, it was kind of like we all fly by the seat of our pants. You know I've figured out how to set up a WordPress site, and I just I was never a writer; but I just started writing, and it just gave me a voice and gave me a way to communicate with other people, and as it turned out, I love blogging. I really do like the process of getting your thoughts out there, and it all kind of led to, you know how one thing leads to another and it just lead folks to me, where I would talk to a lot of people, I would get a lot of questions, and that in itself, while it is what I love to do, it takes up a tremendous amount of time if you're getting eight or 10 people contacting you every day. So then I tried to set up mechanisms like a webinar Instant tele-seminar type things, and where people could call in and get questions answered and where they could learn something, and then that led people saying, you know, "I really need somebody to help me, would you be a coach?" So that kind of how it all progressed. It was kind of like, as the need came up, then I just did that; but what happened is I have just added one more thing, one more thing more, and one more thing, like we talked about previously, and it gets tough; because now you know I'm doing maybe four lab events a year, with a partner - business partner. We teach real estate investors about marketing; that's the primary thing that were teaching now. How do you get leads the door? It's a tough balancing act, and that's why I am kind of, looking at... I've been looking for some folks to get a hand getting some help into my business.
Mark: Yeah; I completely understand. When I started my blog, I, almost exactly the same way, I had never written an article since college, probably; I had never done a blog. I had to have my friends set up Wordpress account because I didn't even have any idea how to do that. I probably could have figured it out if would have worked at it; and then I just started writing, and then it is amazing how people responded and say, "Hey thanks for posting this and sharing your thoughts on it." And it's kind of like, "Wow, people actually want to hear what I say. This is kinda cool." It just kind of ballooned from there and it's a lot of fun.
Sharon: It is fun and that was the surprising thing was how much I enjoyed it. Because, like you said, I hadn't written anything for a lot longer than you. But once you get started get it is really an enjoyable process for most people that are bloggers. It just turns out to be something that you really like doing.
Mark: And the funny thing was before I started blogging, I was doing flips and I hand some rental properties and I thought I knew most everything about investing, and then I got online and finding websites like Bigger Pockets and different sites and I realize, "wow, I didn't know as much as I thought I knew." I didn't even know what direct marketing was at that time. I didn't know what the 70% rule was, or all these terms. I'm just like," Wow, how did I miss all these prints? Thing going on out there and there is so much information but it helps me keep track of goals, it helps motivate me, it's been a fantastic experience; so I know exactly what you mean.
Sharon: Then in addition to my blog I wrote about around 150 article for Big Pocket, so that is a great forum too for people. Then you really do realize as much as you know that you are never done learning; that's for sure.
Mark: Oh Yeah, yeah and once you realize that it kind of opens your eyes to everything else out there for sure so you. So when you are doing these live events, I saw you advertise some of them on Facebook on your site; are those directed at marketing for new sellers or marketing houses that you already own? What is that directed towards
Sharon: No. the Deal Maker Boot Camps are directed toward people that have done at least a deal or two, because they are not to show you how to fill out the contract, for instance; that there for people that have some level of business and we spent two full days on marketing. If they don't have a website, we talk about what components you need for a good lead generation website. They can actually leave there with a website if they want. But we talk about marketing strategy; we do a marketing plan, and we show them free strategies, and we talk about things like direct mail; so it's a two-day workshop that we have in Nashville, where they can actually come out of there with not only a plan, but with some of it done. It's actually a working workshop, I guess is the best way to describe it.
Mark: Speaking of that when you are wholesaling properties, there is a lot that goes on into Wholesaling. It's not as simple as some people make it sound or some of these programs guarantee you that you will make so much money wholesaling in just a short amount of time. There is a lot that goes into it. What you think the biggest challenges for new wholesalers are?
Sharon: I think it's finding the....well I think it' s two things: I think you finding deals is the big thing; because if you don't know how to generate leads, then you are not going to have any deals; and a lot of how you generate leads is going to depend on your demographics. I know someone who works up in the Philly area. Here is an example, and they have about 70 or 80,000 vacant houses in that city, and so folks that don't have a lot of money can hang up bandits signs in some of those inner-city neighborhoods, and some of them are not bad neighborhoods, they are just older neighborhoods, But they hang up bandits signs and get a ton of deals. Now if you're in that city, and you are looking in the middle-of-the-road house, any neighborhood you would hang up a bandit sign in, is the code officials are probably going to call you, you know. So your strategy depend on what you're looking to accomplish, and then how much money you have that, in the end you have to get leads in the door, so I think that's the biggest challenge. People don't know about marketing, and you have to get good at marketing to be a wholesaler; and then once you get a lead, we kind of touched on this before, is that you really don't know what a good deal is when you're just starting out. You don't always know about the 70% Rule and coming at it from, if a realtor brings you a house and they go wrote that it is $15,000 off the Asking Price, maybe that realtors is not really an Investor like you. You know both sides of the business, but not all realtors do, and maybe the house needs $20,000 worth of work. So you have to learn what a good deal actually is, and I think that's a tough one for a lot of people.
Mark: Yeah, I agree. I would estimate 95% or more of realtors don't have any idea what real investors call a deal. They will deal with owner occupants and they'll say market price may be $150,000 and they'll see a house listed for $135,000, it's like, 'amazing deal. You can't pass this up. You got to buy this." But all they are looking at is the $50,000 spread. They are not looking at the rehab cost, without looking at the time you have to hold it. They are not looking at paying commission, when you sell it, and if you are renting it, they don't know what it rents for; they don't know what the maintenance is. They can see [27:33] fee which we discussed earlier; so if you are using an agent to get your deal, it is almost better that you are determining what the deal is. Not the agent and you've got to be the care in what will make money; and I think a lot of investors get in trouble trusting agents who are aren't investors from the agents and buying their own property or losing their earnest money on their own property like you said.
Sharon: Yeah. I know my first couple of deals I thought they were good deals. They were okay deals, but they weren't really good deals and I was working with a realtor that I thought was an Investor, when she actually really just attended the investors meetings; and so I tell folks I think realtors are great assets to your business if they are also an investor. Now if they are also an investor like Mark, and they come across a great deal, they are probably going to buy that deal. They are probably not going to call you for that deal; so that is the other side of the coin. It is a hard place to be in, actually.
Mark: It is. It is a double edge sword. You want an investor who knows the market and what you are looking for, but at the same time if they know all those things, they are buying properties too. So why would they hand off a deal to you where they can make money on it, and you are right, I buy properties all the time, myself and I almost never work with investors, unless it is a property, since I am a HUD-listing Broker, I can't buy any HUD homes. Nobody in our office can buy a HUD home. So if it’s HUD, sure I'll pass off, you know, great deals to investors I know, or if it is an investor who is really looking for an agent, I will send them to someone else on our team, and I don't tell them what I am looking at; they don't tell me what they are looking at. It's all separate, but at the same time they are in a way, competing with me, and I will have investors call me; "Hey can you find me a deal like you bought on your blog," and I will be like, "No. I wish I could." But they are so hard to find and one thing, it took me six months to find my last rental property and then if I do find another deal like that, I am not going to pass it off to somebody I don’t know who I just talk to on the phone. I try to be honest with people, but yeah, you are right, it's tough to find. That's why I think itis good that people know the prices, know the numbers and can figure out what a deal is and so they don't have to rely on their real estate agent to do it for them.
Sharon: Yes. I think that is absolutely the truth and in aid of sites like your blog or my blog, we try to teach people, but I think somebody told me one time early on, if you're not embarrassed by your offer, you just offered to much, and I think new investors get caught up in that whole thing, "oh, they are never going to take much." They will work with the numbers and then they do what I call a racer math. They start changing up the numbers, and well maybe the repairs won't cost this much and maybe I can get five thousand dollars more than any other out on that street ever sold for, and they start trying to turned it into a deal, instead of just letting the numbers do the talking. That's a big problem with new investors.
Mark: They talk themselves in it being a good deal, and yes, exactly instead of looking at the numbers. I have been guilty of doing that myself when I first started too, thinking, "Oh you know I haven't bought a house for a while, I am sure we can cut the rehab cost, obviously in some way or maybe because this house has this feature it is worth much more than that house, when really, it's not. You learn a lot when you do those types of things.
Sharon: I think we have all done it when we were starting out, and I tell people, "You need to learn from our mistakes. Don't do that; don't try to talk yourself into a deal, because there will be another deal that's really a deal."
Mark: Yes. I saw something really interesting on Bigger Pockets the other day. I don't know if you saw that. It was a thread about wholesaling being illegal.
Sharon: Yes. It's been around the blog.
Mark: I am just curious what your thoughts are on that. If you ever run into problems with that, or I imagine a lot of it comes to the way you are advertising and how you present the properties. What do you think about the idea that wholesaling is illegal, that you are acting as an agent?
Sharon: Well, I think how it's got those strange laws and they've kind of gone after, in my opinion, they've kind of gone after the real estate investors. In Kentucky, you know, I double close everything. So I actually bought and resell it and I do that for a number of reasons. It is just a cleaner way that I do it; so I don't really sign contracts. I think I have only ever signed one contract. But, no, I don't think it is illegal; because these are houses - the houses that we are buying, realtors, in most cases, they are not going to be buying those, you know. They are looking for houses that are good to list, and I think it is two different things. So now I don't think there is anything illegal about it. I know from just knowing a lot of real estate agents; none of them, almost none of them understand what we do, and they are so commission-based that if they are making $3000 off of the house, they don't think that it's even remotely right that a wholesaler would make $10,000 off of the deal. So I think that's where that whole thing is coming from, and again you can see both sides of it that I don't really know what to say about the Ohio law, except I'm glad I don't live in Ohio.
Mark: Yes. I was a really surprised when I read through that and I didn't realize that it was so strict. Maybe it's just folks who are trying to put the law down, or put their foot down. Who knows what's going on? But I've never heard it. The things they were supposedly doing were illegal, and it kind of open my eyes a little bit, But yeah, I imagine all state-by-state scenarios and laws; but yeah, if you buy the house and you sell the house, they can't tell you, you can't sell your own house. There is definitely no law against that.
Sharon: You are in Kentucky now. I know some states it cost a lot more money to do a closing like we do. They have tax stamps for different things, so it might cost them thousands of dollars; but for me, here in Kentucky, it cost me about $350 to do that second closing. So it is not a cost. I just figure that in when I buy the house, and it's just the way that I do it, so I don't see like you said how if you buy the house, you close on the house and you resell it in five minutes. I don't see how that can be against the law.
Mark: Yes, and I agree. Unless you are buying a Fannie Mae or REO where they have a clause that you can't sell it in ninety day, but yeah, most properties that won't affect anything. And one thing I thought, it was interesting when I read in most cases where people were getting house under contract and then they are advertising on Craig’s list, in the paper; all over the place and it seems like you can talk about this more if you are an established wholesaler, your buyers' list is almost as important as finding the properties so that you can sell them quickly and you don't have to scramble around trying to find a buyer after you get a deal. You should already have buyers lined up.
Sharon: You know, you don't need a whole big bunch of buyers, all you need is a handful of good cash buyers that buy all the time, and people are under this illusion that you need 20 or 50 people or you need this giant pushbutton but in reality you don't. You need a handful of good solid investors that buy houses like, if I were a wholesaler and I knew you were a rehabber, and you have got your money in place and where ever you get that money; if it's an investor friendly bank, or whatever, I mean who Am I going to call? And I'm going to call Mark and say, "Hey I've got a house. You want to go look at it?" and you run over and look at it, or am I going to go through all that other hassle of hoping that one those hundred people on my imaginary list is going to actually buy it. Now I have had to go out with that being said, I have bought houses that were in areas that I knew no one on my list would - it was in an area they would buy in, and I have taken that chance and had to do different marketing strategies, but I'll tell you, that's a really big headache. You are better off starting with the buyers list, and you can usually build that list by vetting some of the people at your local reo, because there are a lot of people there that call themselves buyers and they are very few that are actually buyers. But they are set up to buy, but, yeah, I think you have to spend time on your buyers' list. You need a handful of good, I call, cash buyers that they could be using an investor friendly bank. The ones here you can close anything in 7 to 10 days - probably closer to 10 days. I had some people - a couple, that actually write a check. I have got one guy that use it. He's got a home-equity line of credit, and he'll write the check out of there, and then rehab the house, and then sell it. There are many forms that a cash buyer can be a cash buyer without actually having all the cash in their pocket.
Mark: I have tried to find wholesalers around here and I have not had any luck and I have heard many people say the same thing. I don't know if it is our market, but I have found one person who sent me a few deals that were - they were close, they weren't quite here but they were close and I probably contacted twenty other people at meetings, online to say they are wholesalers; none of them has ever sent me one deal; so I don't know. But you still got other areas of the country, there's a lot of wholesalers, and lots of deals out there, but our market is very strong here; prices gone up 30% in two years and our inventory is at the lowest it has ever been, but maybe one day I'll find a great wholesaler, or someone will start up around here.
Sharon: You need one, because you need somebody to siege deals and then you can make their end of the business work too.
Mark: Right, exactly, I would love to find new ways to buy property because it is getting so hard around here to find a good deal. Our market is going crazy. Great information so far. I have, [let's see here] one last question and hopefully we can all learn a little bit from; but what was the biggest mistake you ever made and are you glad it happened?
Sharon: Well, you know, thankfully I haven't made any really fatal mistakes. My first couple of deals, I paid too much for them. I still made money on them. I knock on wood, I've never not made money on a house, but sometimes I have made less than what I hoped I would make, but that's probably the biggest thing right there. But the other thing is what we've talked about; I think one of the biggest limiting mistakes that I have had, is not hiring sooner; trying to do it all for way too long, and I think that is a huge mistake like we talked about.
Mark: One other thing that I didn't talk about before too, is when you wait so long to hire somebody that you have to have help because you are so busy, it really hard to train them because you are out of time, so I see a lot of people who are working twelve hours per day and they hire somebody, it's like when are you going to train them, how are you going to show them what to do? And yes, the sooner you can hire people, I always tell people even if you don't think you need help yet, it will make your business better.
Sharon: I talked to someone about a week or two ago and he said that he had used... he kind of gone the route of a lot of people that realtors kind of have offices and staff, but real estate investors usually don't start out that way. You know, they will start out with outsourcing, virtual assistance, you know, may be outsourcing their direct mail and that sort of thing, and this person that I was talking to, he said that he had gone that route and what he had determined that he actually should have done and he finally eventually did do, was hire an assistant; and he said he only had her for five hours a week in the beginning. But she would do whatever he needed her to do. She could answer the phone; she could send contract over for closing; she could do some marketing. He taught her along the way and she eventually went to work for him full-time; but he said, looking back, rather than going over here and going over here, he wished he had just gotten an assistant right from the get-go, even if it were only for couple of hours per week;
Mark: Right, no that's great, because when I hired my first assistant, I didn't hire here full-time. She worked part-time and then as she got more experience learning the business and could do more, I just slowly fed her more and more tasks to do and she did great, and eventually I said, "Do you want to work full-time? And she was like, "I'd love to." It worked out great and eventually we hired another person, and then I hired a team manager, and it seems like every time I hire someone, it gives me more time to pursue different things and look at more ways to make money which is always fun.
Sharon: Yes, definitely, absolutely.
Mark: Lots of great information. I really enjoyed having you on the show. What is the best way for people to contact you? Is it to go to your blog?
Sharon: Yeah, they can go over there. It's the Louisvillegalsrealestate blog. They can contact me over there. I am happy to answer any questions or help any way I can.
Mark: Great and you, [I almost forgot], you also have your own Podcast as well, on the blog and you said you have done close to 50 podcasts; is that right?
Sharon: Yeah, I've done about 50, and I think, I think that's right the number, I believe it's 50, and they are also on my blog and there are on, I think' it's called, Let's Talk Real Estate Investing, and so Yes, I have got the energy to talk to a lot of terrific people and I think it's very inspirational to hear people's stories.
Mark: Yes. I agree, and it is so nice to go into your car and listen to a podcast or I have to sit down and read everything and kill two birds with one stone. So very nice. Alright, well great. Thank you so much for being on the show. I wish you luck in the future and hopefully your new ventures all go very well.
Sharon: Thanks so much
Mark: Alright, thank you. Have a great week.