JF1086 Have you Ever Bought a House Full of Stuff? Jacquie Denny Can Help Turn That Stuff Into Money
When a family member passed away, Jacquie and her family were left with their good sized estate and all the “stuff” that came with it. They hired a company to help get sell of the stuff, only to find out the company was making more money than them. A need was found and Jacquie set out to fulfill that need. Now her company works across the country helping people empty their houses. If you enjoyed today’s episode remember to subscribe in iTunes and leave us a review!
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Jacquie Denny Background:
-Founder & Chief Development Officer of EVERYTHING BUT THE HOUSE (EBTH)
-Launched EBTH in 2008 with Brian Graves, after 20 years at the helm of a Cincinnati-based estate sale business, Sorting It Out
-Identified a need for a white-glove service that could help families during life transitions by selling all of their items at true market value.
-Based in Cincinnati, Ohio
-Say hi to her at www.ebth.com
-Best Ever Book: Man’s Search for Meaning
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Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners, welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Joe Fairless, and this is the world’s longest-running daily real estate investing podcast. We only talk about the best advice ever, we don’t get into any of that fluffy stuff.
With us today, Jacquie Denny. How are you doing, Jacquie?
Jacquie Denny: Fine, Joe. Thanks for having me on.
Joe Fairless: Well, great, nice to have you on the show. This is gonna be an interesting conversation, because you’re coming at it from a different angle than a lot of the guests. Best Ever listeners, let me fill you in on Jacquie’s background a little bit. She is the founder and chief development officer of Everything But The House. She launched Everything But The House in 2008 with a business partner, after 20 years at the helm of a Cincinnati-based real estate sale business, Sorting It Out.
She has identified a need for white-glove service that could help families during their life transitions by selling all of their items at true market value. Basically, she’s selling everything but the house, so all the items inside it. She sold a tour bus before, because a family owned a tour bus etc. So think about this from a couple perspectives and then I’ll introduce Jacquie and let her introduce herself in more detail.
Think about it from the perspective of if you’re a real estate agent or a wholesaler and you’ve had the challenge of “Oh, my goodness, I’ve got this house full of stuff. How do I get rid of it? Do I have a garage sale? Do I find other methods? Do I just put it in a dumpster?” Here’s a solution.
And then also, Jacquie and her team – they’re doing 450 houses a month across I believe 29 states, so she’s got access and insight into markets that are hot right now, and then perhaps some markets that according to her might be prime for the picking. So we’re gonna talk through all that. With that being said, Jacquie, do you wanna give the Best Ever listeners a little bit more about your background and your current focus?
Jacquie Denny: Background is I went to Xavier University in Cincinnati, and I’ve done business and marketing. I came out with working for Avon Corporate; I had the experience of a family member who had passed away with a sizeable estate – very nice things: paintings, rugs, jewelry… I hired the local guy that the attorney suggested, and in his defense, the internet was not around at that time – this was back in the early ’70s -but the problem was when it went in the front yard, the people that bought it that day made more than the family who was selling it. So from a marketing perspective, that just didn’t feel right.
So it started a long journey… I did an estate tag sale company called Sorting It Out, and then when we realized what was happening was because of the size of the generations who were now emptying their homes everybody’s contents made it more than a local audience, Brian Graves and myself established Everything But The House in 2007, and we’ve grown double digits every year since.
Joe Fairless: Can real estate investors make money by making Everything But The House?
Jacquie Denny: Absolutely, especially real estate investors. A lot of the investors will go in and buy the house lock, stock and barrel, with contents, simply because it’s usually a family who’s [unintelligible [00:05:34].28] they don’t see value in the contents at all. They know the house has some value; they’ll come through and take out personal papers and pictures, but then they’ll leave the basement full, the attic full, the garage full. And for most guys that buy real estate, they’ll pull up a dumpster and they’ll dump their stuff.
With those groups who started using it in the last ten years, there are times when I’m turning the contents into $60,000-$70,000, and that’s a lot of money to offset your project.
Joe Fairless: That’s a whole bunch of money. That could be much more than the project itself.
Jacquie Denny: Absolutely. There are times where we go in a house and the contents are worth more than the house that you just bought to rehab. So it only takes a few key items found in an inventory that can really make that happen for you.
Joe Fairless: What are the most common key items that are left behind that are sold for a whole bunch of money?
Jacquie Denny: One of the areas is books – antique books or first edition books; a lot of people don’t think of books as value, but even the books from the ’50s, from the authors like Steinbeck and Hemingway, a first edition of those can go for 2k-3k. And that’s most of the things that are still sitting on the bookshelf for mom and dad, because they read those as classics and they saved them.
Old tools can be another area of things left behind. Most people that are 60+ years either touched the depression or their parents did, so you’ll be amazed at how many times we find Queen collections hidden in houses that were left behind. Those turn into a lot of money.
Joe Fairless: So coin collections, old tools, first edition of books… How does it work? Let’s just go through a hypothetical scenario that your team comes across all the time, I imagine, and that is I just bought a house, it’s got a bunch of stuff in it. What do I do and what can I expect after I call you?
Jacquie Denny: When you call us, we do a free consultation. That first consultation is about a half hour to 45 minutes. It gets us both an opportunity to walk the property. We’ll point out what the whole process is going to be, because every process is a big puzzle we take up and then put together in the best way we can. So there will be saleable items, there’ll be donatable items, and then there’ll be plain trash. But the nice thing from an investment point of view, instead of having four dumpsters, if we turn even half of that into saleable, 20% into donatable that’s facilitated by somebody else picking it up, you’re now down to maybe one dumpster, and that’s probably $400 in all the labor that went with it.
So it can continually be an added value as our process goes along for somebody who’s buying houses and flipping them.
Joe Fairless: I’m sure your team has some screening questions prior to doing the initial free consultation, so that you can qualify your leads better. What are some screening questions, or how do you screen them?
Jacquie Denny: Well, probably the biggest screening questions we ask are “Has there been water damage in the home?” and “Has it sat without electricity for 2-3 years?” “Was this a house where 22 cats lived?” Because those are the most difficult houses to really make any money out of in the end.
Basically, if they’re water damaged and there’s mold and mildew on everything… But other than that, we really don’t do a heavy screening because if I do that, Joe, than I’m asking you to decide what is the value there, and I promise you, most people focus on antique furniture right now, and antique furniture is very soft because of the size of the generation that’s downsizing at the same time, and they’re not thinking of those old baseball cards, or the 1940s red [unintelligible [00:09:35].05] that’s hanging on the wall.
So those are the things that are driving value now, so if I ask an investor and he says “You know, there’s a bunch of furniture, and then the attic and the basement is full of boxes full of stuff”, well I wanna see the boxes full of stuff, because that’s where I’m gonna find all the interesting, unique things that have been put away for years and forgotten about.
Joe Fairless: After the free consultation, does that individual who’s representing your side look through all those boxes of stuff and then identify what will be in each of the three categories – the trash, you keep it or you are donating it?
Jacquie Denny: I would say that would be impossible to do on that half hour or 45 minutes, because I went in houses that may have 800 boxes in the basement and the attic. So what we’re gonna do from our point of view is we open up a sampling of the boxes, and it is just an idea of “Is this stuff from the ’40s, from the ’50s? Is most of it disintegrated and full of mouse residue, or is the stuff in good shape?” So at that point we can say “Yes, this is a viable sale for you. We’re looking at about 50%-60% of this being saleable.” But when we come in to do what we call the discovery and the sort, that’s usually a two or three-day project. There’s a lot of things to get through on a property if you’re going to do it the right way.
Joe Fairless: And then the other question I know you come across, with investors in particular, especially if you’re flipping a house, how quickly is the entire process, from the free consultation to – okay, you sold whatever you can sell and now you’re out of here, so I can move on with the next stage in the flip?
Jacquie Denny: Generally we can have a house from full to empty within a week.
Joe Fairless: That’s incredible.
Jacquie Denny: Yeah, and that’s if your schedule works and you don’t have to sit there and hold our hand the whole time. I always tell people — because people say “Well, what if you find something I think I’d rather keep than sell?”, I’m like “Well, the whole process is us finding things to sell for you and for us to offset our labor”, so I always tell them, depending on how involved or how much they’re gonna try to manage what I do will be how quickly I can work on their behalf.
Joe Fairless: And what’s something that an investor would find surprising about the process, that we haven’t discussed already?
Jacquie Denny: Well, I think they find that they can have a check in their hands usually within 15-20 business days if we get it done quickly, and usually, at the most, 30-45. And that’s a quick turnaround.
Let’s say you do self-discovery. You’re an investor and you find a bunch of neat things, you send them off to a local auction house; generally, they’ll work some in when they can work some in. With us, it’s focus on that client, at that time, and meet their needs.
It can be a really big value add when you don’t have to work out of your pocket because we’ve just created $10,000-$12,000 for you to work with.
Joe Fairless: And how do you make money, what percentage do you take, and are there other fees?
Jacquie Denny: We do a 40% commission rate, and we get paid after everything sells, so you’re not working out of pocket… Depending on how the investor wants to work. If they’ve got dumpsters of their own and crews of their own and they wanna do the dumpster under our guidance, that’s fine. We partner nationally with Junk King, and they give us incredible rates for our clients, so that will come out of your proceeds; I’m not a trash service, I just facilitate the trash, and I give you the labor to decide what is trash, which is the best part, because a lot of times you go in there and — people walk past stuff and say “Oh, that’s just trash” and I’ll say “Well, then I’ll just take that.” They’ll say “Oh, it must be good then”, and in fact it is good. [laughter]
I will promise you that most of us always overvalue the things we like and undervalue the things we have no appreciation for. It’s those stories you hear where somebody finds a painting at Goodwill and sells it for $20,000 because some kid was cleaning out mom and dad’s house and thought it was ugly.
So you just want a very knowledgeable eye… It’s just like I would try to go in and rehab a house – I’m just not that person. But I can tell you, if there’s anything in there worth money, I can find it and turn it into money for you.
Joe Fairless: Now let’s switch gears a little bit, but on the same topic, obviously, and that is to markets that you’re finding a lot of your new clients in. What are some of the markets? And the reason why I ask is because we’ll know based on your level of business and activity in a certain market perhaps these are markets that there tends to be a lot of opportunities, and maybe if the Best Ever listeners can jump on those opportunities in those markets… And then we’ll talk about some markets that maybe aren’t as hot, but you see coming up or getting hotter to try and be ahead of the curve.
Jacquie Denny: Well, I will tell you that we’re in almost every hot market, and inventory is just — I hear from realtors all over the United States that inventory is low… But the biggest opportunities I see in the real estate market right now is everywhere from Nashville to Charlotte to let’s say Denver… These other cities where people are going in and buying the small, early, (let’s say) blue collar, fringe homes on these up and coming areas and turning them into Airbnb. It is the hottest thing going on in most of our major cities, and most of the kids that are handling mom and dad’s estate, it was mom and dad’s original home, because you know, at that time — when my parents bought their home in ’59, we didn’t sell it until my mom passed away in ’90. So people stayed in their homes. They didn’t continually go bigger, better.
So these small homes that are fairly near really exciting downtown areas are being scooped up by investors for really pennies on the dollar for what they eventually turn them into, and most are turned into these really awesome Airbnb properties, and people love it because they’re close to downtown areas, it’s better than a hotel, you feel like you’re in a nicer environment. So that’s really the hot trend we’re seeing in real estate in all your big cities, plain and simple.
We just were in Chicago, and I was staying in kind of an offbeat area of Chicago where just all these little blue collar, brownstone homes are being bought up one after another for the same purpose. So it’s a trend, of course.
And then I think the other real estate trend that no one has really figured out yet, and because I’m a baby boomer and I’m part of the largest part of the baby boomer group, is that all of us are going from big four-bedroom homes and we’re all looking for that open floor plan, ranch style, and if somebody figures out how to penetrate and create that market, I will tell you me and every one of my 240 friends is looking to do the same thing in the next five years.
You take that times my age group nationally, and there’s an opportunity for someone to capitalize on that market.
Joe Fairless: And just so I’m clear, you’re talking about taking that house and doing what with it?
Jacquie Denny: Well, we’re all going from big homes; we all have four bedrooms plus homes. But what we’re all looking for is the homes that were being built in the ’50s, if you remember the gold medallion homes by [unintelligible [00:17:23].06]
Joe Fairless: Yeah.
Jacquie Denny: So we’re looking for that home again because it’s the right size, just about 2,000 square feet, but we’re looking for open floor plan, for ambulatory [unintelligible [00:17:33].14] reasons. So there’s a few builders and really pockets that have started building that. But if someone builds that on a large scale to accommodate this generation downsizing the next ten years, they’re gonna be able to name their price, because in Cincinnati if a one-floor plan goes on the market, it’s generally sold within 48 hours, without exception, and it doesn’t even matter what the condition was, because we’re willing to turn it into what we want.
So a big market opportunity there. Two good market opportunities.
Joe Fairless: Well, thank you for that. That is some great information on both fronts, for new business plans, or at least opportunities, in addition to your business model, and it’s something that I think a lot of the Best Ever listeners weren’t aware of.
Based on your experience, what is your best advice ever for real estate investors, as it relates to what you do?
Jacquie Denny: As it relates to what I do, I just think to learn the value in contents as well as the value in the real property, because there’s so much wasting done by dumpster after dumpster going to landfills, in a hurry to get to the property and get it flipped and resold. But people can just take a two or three-day window and address the contents in the right way. It’s gonna diminish the cost of the project for them, and speed it up, really… Because it takes us less time than somebody who’s hiring two 18-year-olds at $20/hour to do it.
Joe Fairless: Are you ready for the Best Ever Lightning Round?
Jacquie Denny: I’ll do my best!
Joe Fairless: Okay, I know you will. [laughter] First, we’ll hear from our Best Ever partners.
Joe Fairless: Okay, Jacquie, what’s the best ever book you’ve read?
Jacquie Denny: Man’s Search For Meaning, by Viktor Frankl.
Joe Fairless: Powerful, powerful book. Best ever deal you’ve done from a business standpoint?
Jacquie Denny: Building Everything But The House.
Joe Fairless: What’s a mistake you’ve made in business?
Jacquie Denny: Not taking enough risk, being too conservative. Another book that I love is “Who Moved My Cheese?” That’s a small book about my [unintelligible [00:20:49].00] looking for the same cheese. I think most of us live in that moment way too long… So not being a big enough risk taker. And I just learned that I came into this world with nothing; if I end with nothing, I’ve broken even. It helped me with that mentality… [laughter]
Joe Fairless: I like that. What’s the best ever way you like to give back?
Jacquie Denny: My big giveback is every client that I serve, because I bring to the table a very transparent, honest process to help move them forward out of very emotional transitions, and instead of it costing them an arm and a leg to now get a house empty, I give them money to do the upgrades on their house to sell it at a better price. So that’s our giveback.
Joe Fairless: How can the Best Ever listeners get in touch with you?
Jacquie Denny: www.EBTH.com.
Joe Fairless: Outstanding. Well, Jacquie, thank you for being on the show. Thanks for talking about what you do, which is probably second nature to you, but it’s not for a lot of the listeners, myself included. I did not know about this business model and I did not know about this option. I guarantee there will be Best Ever listeners who have been thinking about missed opportunities from previous homes, especially with the quick turnaround (a week period) – that’s very important with investors… And just the additional revenue stream. I mean, quite frankly, I don’t care what you charge, as long as it’s more money than I would have made if I had thrown it out… Which it would be more money than I would have made if you weren’t present.
It’s a really interesting business model and it can help us as real estate investors. I’m grateful we had a conversation about this, as well as what you’re seeing from a more macro level, from a non-real estate investor standpoint, but just from someone who is a business owner and has access to different markets and just intelligence within a certain demographic.
Thanks for being on the show. I hope you have a best ever day, Jacquie, and we’ll talk to you soon.
Jacquie Denny: Thanks, Joe.
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