JF1202: How A Direct Mail Specialists Says RE Investors Should Utilize Direct Mail #SkillSetSunday with Craig Simpson

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Craig started his direct marketing business when he needed a way to market his fake rocks. He did well there, and sold the business to go work for a large operation and learned more about direct marketing. Now he has his own company again, and he helps many different types of businesses and investors market through direct mail. If you enjoyed today’s episode remember to subscribe in iTunes and leave us a review!

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Craig Simpson Background:

  • Owner of Simpson Direct, Inc.
  • His direct marketing company manages almost 300 different promotions per year
  • Author of The Direct Mail Solution and The Advertising Solution.
  • Based in Grants Pass, Oregon
  • Say hi to him at http://www.simpson-direct.com/

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TRANSCRIPTION

Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners, how are you doing? 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.

I hope you’re having a best ever weekend. Because it is Sunday, we’ve got a special segment called Skillset Sunday, where you’re gonna come away with a specific skill that will help you in your real estate ventures. Today we’re speaking to the owner of Simpson Direct. He has a direct marketing company that manages almost 300 different promotions per year, so obviously we’re gonna be talking about direct mail. How are you doing, Craig Simpson?

Craig Simpson: I’m doing excellent. I’m glad to be a part of your call today, I’m looking forward to talking to you guys.

Joe Fairless: Yeah, I’m looking forward to learning more about ways to have effective direct mail campaigns. A little bit more about Craig – he is the author of The Direct Mail Solution and The Advertising Solution. He is based in Grants Pass, Oregon, and you can say hi to him at his company website, which is in the show notes.

With that being said, Craig, do you wanna give the Best Ever listeners a little bit more about your background and your current focus?

Craig Simpson: Sure. I actually kind of fell into the direct marketing world or direct mail world… When I first got started, I was 19 years old and I had made these fake rock climbing holds, the kind that you bolt on the walls and you climb up on, and I had a bunch of people saying “Hey, you should try selling these things”, so on a whim, I went into business manufacturing these fake rocks. Of course, as in any business, I had to market it, and I heard of this thing called direct mail, so I tried doing direct mail, and my first campaign was  completely [unintelligible [00:03:52].02] I didn’t get any response, but I kept on trying and I got to the point where I sold over 4,000 fake rocks through the mail.

I found that I loved marketing, but I hated manufacturing. I didn’t like going out to the sweatshop and making these things by hand. So I closed that business and went to work for a big publisher, and started doing huge direct mail campaigns, to the point where we were mailing 30 million pieces a year… So for the last 25 years I’ve been doing a lot of direct mail, and I love it; I’m kind of a numbers guy. So that’s how I got my start and got into this weird world of direct mail marketing.

Joe Fairless: You’ve been doing it for a while, you said you’re a numbers guy… That type of response rates should we receive on our direct mail pieces?

Craig Simpson: Well, if it’s real estate investing and we’re trying to get people to respond for “Hey, we wanna buy your house” or “We’re looking for distressed properties” or whatnot, usually you can expect about three quarters of a percent to respond to your campaign. Now, that doesn’t mean you’re gonna be able to find that many sellers, but you’d at least be able to get three quarters of a percent for them to call and find out what it is you’re offering, or what it is you wanna know more about.

Joe Fairless: What’s the frequency that you recommend doing?

Craig Simpson: It all depends on response. I’m [unintelligible [00:05:11].23] because this is an area that I do quite a few mailings in. Let’s say you’re looking for absentee owners, and you’re wanting to buy their home at a discount. So you take and you mail all the absentee owners, and there’s 5,000 of them, and you get three quarters of a percent response… And you find out that a lot of them turn into people who wanna sell you their home. So you buy their home or their property, and you have a great return on investment. If it’s a really strong campaign, you don’t wanna just leave it and sit on it and say “Well, I’m not gonna go back to those names again.” Instead, if you have a great response, you wanna hop back in and mail to them again. So normally, the frequency, if it’s a really good list and you get really good success from it, you could mail to that exact same list every month.

Now, if it turns out that the list doesn’t perform as well the second time, then you need to give it a little bit more space. Maybe you can mail to those same names every 60 days or every 90 days. But response really dictates for me how frequent I mail to somebody.

Joe Fairless: That makes sense. When we are looking at direct mail companies, how do we evaluate one against the other in terms of the questions that we should be asking the companies?

Craig Simpson: Good question. I think the biggest thing is – and I guess this goes across the board with any marketing company – if somebody is promising you the moon, that “Hey, I guarantee I can get you X number of new clients in the door”, or “We’re gonna guarantee that you’re gonna get more response than you ever have”, I would shy away from anybody who uses the word “guarantee” or “ensure that you’re gonna get the best kind of response.”

Really the things you’re looking for is people who talk about testing, because all direct marketing boils down to is a lot of testing. You always wanna test to see what works and what doesn’t. For example, if you’re talking to a company and they’re suggesting that you send out a postcard mailing, hopefully they’re gonna suggest “Well, we don’t just have one piece that we think is gonna work for you. We have a few pieces that we would like to test out. One may be pink, one may be yellow, one may be white, but we need to test a few things to see whether or not it works in your marketplace.”

So the keywords to listen for are testing, and you never wanna find someone who’s guaranteeing or promising results, because nobody knows. I’ve sent out thousands of mail campaigns and I can’t come into any client and know what the response is gonna be in advance. All I can do is take my knowledge and experience, run a test, and from there we can learn whether or not we have an opportunity to scale it out and make it bigger, or if we need to retool things and try and make it better.

Joe Fairless: And as far as making it better, what are some suggestions to make something better?

Craig Simpson: So, for those that are interested in doing direct marketing, the key is testing. Things that you can do to make it better – when you’re talking to the prospect, you always wanna talk about the pain points, the things that they may be struggling with. If they’re an absentee and they’ve got renters, you’re probably gonna wanna talk about the fact that there’s some theme of having renters, worrying about people destroying the house, worrying about them paying rents, worrying about them moving out when they’re supposed to move out, and then you can address the solution. “We can take care of this off of your hand; we can take away from you having to deal with this burden every month, and you can sell to us and we can make it so that you’ve got extra cash in your pocket.” So we talk to them about the pain, we offer them a solution – that’s one way.

Another thing would be offering testimonials, having past clients that you’ve worked with rave about you and sharing that with others. People are always convinced and encouraged when somebody else has had a good experience… Just like with Yelp. We’re going to eat at a restaurant, we’re gonna look at Yelp to see if there’s any good reviews or not, to see whether or not we should go there.

But there’s three main things to keep in mind when it comes to direct mail – there’s the list, there’s the copy (creative) and then there’s the offer you make them. The copy (creative) comes to what it is you say to them. The list is who it is you’re mailing to, and that probably is the most important piece of any mail campaign. You wanna make sure you have a targeted list of prospects that will look like the type of customers you wanna go after. Then the final thing is the offer, which is basically what is it you want them to do – do you want them to call? Do you want them to go online? Do you want them to request a free report or consultation? Those kinds of things.

I can dive into more of those deeper if you’d like, or we can move on and talk about something else… I don’t wanna overwhelm anyone here either.

Joe Fairless: Well, perhaps we’ll revisit those three, and I’m glad that you mentioned the list, the copy and the offer. I’m curious, who does direct mail work best on?

Craig Simpson: It works best on boomers and seniors; they love direct mail. But having said that, there’s still a whole group of those who are millennials and those who are older who it works on, but if we were to pick one group – if I could only have one group to mail to, I would mail to boomers and seniors. They’re the ones that love it. But I wouldn’t shy away from testing it on other groups.

One of my big clients is Beach Body, and they’re a fitness company and they have a lot of young individuals who buy into their programs. So I can’t say that it doesn’t work to those younger crowds – it does, but I like boomers and seniors the best.

Joe Fairless: Okay. What type of products does it work best with? And forget you’re talking to a real estate investor… Just in general, and then perhaps we can apply some of this to real estate… But just best in class, what type of products does it work best with, and what type does it perform the weakest with?

Craig Simpson: That’s a tougher question. What does it work best with? I think whenever you’re mailing to people who have a problem and you can solve it. And the problems can be hundreds or it can thousands of different things, because it works for so many different niches, whether it’s a bankruptcy attorney mailing to people who are going through foreclosures, and it’s a way to help them out of it. Or it’s a person who wants to buy their pet food online or through the mail, rather than having to go to the store. The problem is “I don’t wanna go to the store and buy a 50-pound bag of dog food.” The solution? “I can deliver to your front doorstep for the same price as you go into the pet food store.” Wow, isn’t that nice? Just with a push of a button. So really, if there’s a problem and you provide a great solution.

The  third element I guess would be it’s gotta be sold at a reasonable price. It’s tough to sell books through direct mail, because the price is just too low. 19.95 is not gonna make anybody, especially when you have to pay printing and postage. I like to see products that are sold around $100 or $75 and have what we call lifetime value, meaning that’s just the entry point. So if they buy one dog of bag food, they’re gonna buy 20 more over the next nine months, or whatever. So there’s a long-term customer value that’s associated with that initial sale. It’s not just the “Buy one time and we’re done” kind of a thing. Those are the things that are the best. The worst are the low-priced offers.

Joe Fairless: There’s a parallel with what you’ve just said when I look at my sponsors for this podcast. If the sponsor is a company that has a price point that is low and there’s not a lot of a lifetime value of a customer, meaning, as you said, they’re not gonna make money after that initial purchase, then they wouldn’t be a good fit. But if the sponsor has a higher price point or has a higher lifetime value where there’ll be repeat purchases, then it’s a good fit and I’ve learned to disqualify potential sponsors because of that, and then qualify them.

Do you do any sort of qualification process with new people who sign up, or do you kind of just let them test it out and then see how it works?

Craig Simpson: No, I think there’s always a process where we’re kind of vetting out who they wanna go after, and is there a market for it. And also looking at their business to determine, “Will they be able to get a high enough customer lifetime value to make this a profitable venture?” Because it doesn’t matter if you get a 10% response rate; if the return on investment isn’t good, then there’s no longevity with that type of marketing campaign.

So yes, there’s totally a vetting process where we evaluate that, and look at who can we mail to and what kind of revenues can we make from it.

Joe Fairless: And what type of cost or investment dollars into this program, into a direct mail should we expect to do?

Craig Simpson: It all depends on the marketplace you’re going to and how big your marketplace is. When I’m doing a national mailing, I need the client to mail 10k-15k pieces of mail in order to see and gauge response. If we’re doing a local/regional mailing, it could be 2k-3k pieces of mail.

So what is the cost to mail that? Well, there’s a lot of variables there. Are we mailing a letter, are we mailing a postcard? Obviously, a postcard is significantly less in cost than an actual letter would be. When it comes to how much is this going cost, there’s a lot of things that play into that, but I would think you would wanna start out with a budget of, say, $5,000 to test. It may end up being significantly less than that, or it could be a little bit more than that, depending on what it is you’re mailing and how many pieces you’re going to.

Joe Fairless: And generally speaking, $5,000, how many pieces does that get you and what are some of the standard things that that would entail?

Craig Simpson: If you’re thinking of mailing a postcard, you’d probably be able to mail 3,000-4,000 postcards, plus that would include — the $5,000 would give you the money for the copywriting fees if you’re not writing the sales copy yourself. It would give you the money for the list, it will give you the money for the design… It would basically be one of those things that “Hey, all-in this is what it’s gonna cost me to test it.” And that’s doing it on your own, kind of figuring out the list and the copy and the design and those kinds of things.

Joe Fairless: Did you say the list rental?

Craig Simpson: That’s correct.

Joe Fairless: Will you elaborate?

Craig Simpson: In most cases, depending on what are you’re in, in many cases you can rent the list, but the lister may not let you buy the list and use it as much as you want. It all depends on what you’re going after. If you’re going after people that are going into foreclosure, most of the times the lists are only available for rent. You can use them one time for a fee. If you’re going after absentee owners and you’re working with your local courthouse or whatever to get information on that kind of stuff, then you probably can buy the names and use them as much as you like.

Joe Fairless: How do they protect against the rental not being used more than once if you’re mailing —

Craig Simpson: Yeah, they put in what’s called seed names; those are names that they sprinkle throughout the name file, you don’t know what they are but they do, and there’s companies that set up these remote addresses at different locations throughout the country, and when they receive your mail piece, they will mail it back to you. So they may have 50 locations throughout the United States.

Now, they track who is mailing their lists, and if they see somebody who’s mailing it – because they’re gonna have a specific name on there – they’ll know, and then they’ll come after you.

Joe Fairless: Okay. Now, just to circle back to the list, the copy and the offer… What is most relevant to elaborate on for us as real estate investors?

Craig Simpson: I think for real estate investors I would say that one is the list, know who you’re going to. If you’re going after distressed properties, make sure that you have a targeted list for that and that your copy connects with them, that you’re writing specifically to them about owning a distressed property and how stressful it is, and how you can take it off their hands.

If you’re going to the absentee owners’ list, obviously make sure these lists are quality, that you’re getting them from a good source and that you know them to be true. Going to the absentee owners, make sure the copy connects with them – owning a piece of property that they’re not living in and that there’s pain and heartache there and that you can solve that. Or if it’s going after people with probates – you’re specific in your marketing method, the copy and how you talk to this list of people who have probates available.

Joe Fairless: What else haven’t we discussed that you think we should, based on your expertise in direct mail and our focus in real estate investing?

Craig Simpson: I think the thing is there’s so many different marketing channels out there right now, and it’s important to test and to always find out what works and what doesn’t, and I think that anybody who’s in this niche and they haven’t done direct mail, I encourage him to give it a try, because that’s important, and people could think “Well, how can I use direct mail for real estate investing?” Well, surprisingly, there’s dozens and dozens (maybe hundreds) of people using it all over the country to attract the right kind of seller of property that they’re looking for, and it’s worth an effort on your part to give it a try.

So I don’t know if there’s anything missing here… We obviously can’t go through every detail on how to do direct mail, but I think if I could go away from this call today with one thing in mind is it’s worth giving it a test. It’s worth finding out if it can work for you or not.

Joe Fairless: That’s a perfect segue, Craig – what is the best place the Best Ever listeners can get in touch with you?

Craig Simpson: It would be my website, which is Simpson-Direct.com. There’s also some information about me there, and that would be a great way to reach out to me.

Joe Fairless: We went through a whole lot — well, YOU went through a whole lot, I was just enjoying the ride. I really appreciate you talking through the three things to keep in mind when we’re doing direct mail, ways to make direct mail better, the pain points and testimonials, things to watch out for when we’re interviewing direct mail companies, like the guarantee… You really wanna focus in on testing the frequency; if the list is good, then maybe every month. If not, then less than that – maybe 45 or 90 days. And identifying the ideal audience, although of course anyone receives mail, but the idea audience, as you said, boomers and seniors, but again, everyone receives mail, so test  out based on what your offer is… The budget that you recommend at least minimally starting with, and going from there, which is 5k.

Craig, thank you for being on the show, sharing your best ever advice in terms of direct mail, and we’ll talk to you soon. Have a wonderful weekend.

Craig Simpson: Sounds good, thank you very much.

Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Show Podcast

JF1006: How to Build an Online Community and Business #SkillSetSunday

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He helps others find the dream career they’ve been looking for. He does it all online. Hear about his challenges, triumphs, and what he’s up to today.

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Mac Prichard Real Estate Background:

– President at Prichard Communications, a public relations agency
– Founder and publisher of Mac’s List, an online community for people looking for rewarding, meaningful work
– Hosts the weekly podcast, Find Your Dream Job
– Author of Land Your Dream Job Anywhere
– Over 80,000 people a month visit the site
– Based in Portland, Oregon
– Say hi to him at http://www.macslist.org/

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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 fluff.

I hope you’re having a best ever weekend. Because it is Sunday, we’re doing a special segment called Skillset Sunday, where by the end of our conversation you’re gonna come away with a specific skill. Today we’re gonna be talking to someone who has successfully achieved an online platform where he’s generating over 80,000 people a month visiting his site, and he’s the author of Land Your Dream Job Anywhere. How are you doing, Mac Prichard?

Mac Prichard: I’m doing great, Joe. Thank you for having me on the show.

Joe Fairless: My pleasure, and nice to have you on the show. The outcome for our conversation today with you is to discuss setting up and running a business and the lessons learned along the way. Before we dive into that, do you wanna give the Best Ever listeners a little bit more about your background, just for some context?

Mac Prichard: Sure. I run a small business called MacsList.org. It’s an online community for people looking for rewarding creative work. At the heart of it, Joe, is a job board with hundreds of listing for cool jobs, the kind of positions that are either in creative work or nonprofits, or even in government, but jobs that you would like to have. In addition, we also produce a lot of information through a blog, a podcast, books about the nuts and bolts of looking for work and managing your career, because most of us aren’t taught those skills in high school and college; we learn them by trial and error, and because we learn them as we go along, often we get stuck in these periods of unemployment.

So while my business is about helping people find work, I came into this almost accidentally about ten years ago, and also the way I learned some valuable lessons that I think would be useful to your listeners, real estate investors.

Joe Fairless: Yeah, absolutely. As real estate investors, we are entrepreneurs. We are small, medium or large business owners, but we’re business owners, so I would love to learn myself the lessons that you came across along the way and how that’s gotten you to where you’re at now.

Mac Prichard: Well, I think the most important one is the power of relationships and connecting with other people. My business has grown by word of mouth. Our revenue is about $600,000 annually, Joe, and it employs five people. A few part-time, several full-time… But I started my business as just telling people about job openings, and I didn’t realize how valuable the information was that I was sharing, but the people that I shared it with did, and they shared it with others. That power of word of mouth and the relationships that I built as I grew my community has just been a huge part of the success of Mac’s List.

Joe Fairless: Relationships built along the way – can you get more specific as far as how do you build those relationships and what is your specific approach when talking about what you’ve got going on?

Mac Prichard: Absolutely. Because we work in the employment space, Joe. I often get approached by people who want advice about their job hunt or their career, and I’ve always made a point of giving my time to others. So if somebody wants to meet with me, even if I don’t know them, I will make the time. Sometimes it takes a while to get on my calendar, but I will see people, and I do it without any expectation of getting anything in return, and I find that when I do that, I get so much back… Not only offering my time, but my advice and ideas. The relationships and connections that I make through those conversations – and I’ve been doing them for years now – keep paying dividends for years to follow.

The other thing I would say about relationships – I’m often approached by people who say “You’ve got a great business here. I think I’d like to do a job board like you” or “I’d like to be a career coach”, and some people might say “Gosh, I’m sorry, I don’t have time to talk to  you”, but for me, my response is always “The water’s fine, jump right in. Let me share with you what I’ve learned about building this online business. Because I know two things are gonna happen, Joe. One is if they’re gonna be successful – the person I’m meeting with who wants to get into this space – they’re gonna specialize. They’re gonna find a niche that I’m not serving.

The other thing that’s gonna happen is they’re gonna be a partner and an ally down the road. I think again we’re talking about relationships, but generosity and giving to others without any expectation of receiving a return has just been a powerful part of my success.

Joe Fairless: Out of almost a thousand people I’ve interviewed – in fact, by the time this episode airs, it will be more than a thousand, so I will have interviewed more than a thousand people – you are the first person out of the thousand I’ve interviewed on my podcast who e-mailed me before the podcast interview and said “Hey, I love your podcast. I just did a review on your podcast. Here’s the review.” So you’re a living, breathing example of that.

Mac Prichard: [laughs] Thanks. I do try to do my homework, so I wanted to know about your audience and about you and what you like to talk about on this show, so I can not only be of service to you, but to your listeners.

Joe Fairless: It’s not a time-consuming exercise, it’s a thoughtful exercise that you employ. Sure, there is some time, but the amount of thoughtfulness that took and just conditioning yourself to do that is very valuable from a business standpoint, and it just makes you feel good when you give. The way that makes you stand out, in my mind — I mean, I’ve interviewed over a thousand people, and you’re the first person to have done that, and it’s just putting yourself in my shoes, like “Oh, he does a freakin’ daily podcast that’s insane. I bet he looks at everyone who reviews the podcast, because this is his baby”, and that’s true. Having a review added onto that is very beneficial for my own purposes, to have more positive reviews about the podcast. So it’s just putting yourself in other people’s shoes, and that’s one of the things that stood out to me, and we had never talked before; this is the first time we’ve actually had a conversation one-on-one, and it set the stage for how I approach my conversation with you, knowing that’s how you operate.

Mac Prichard: Thank you, Joe.

Joe Fairless: On that note, do you do other proactive things like that when you’re either introduced to someone, or you know you’re gonna be introduced to someone? Do you do certain things like that, and if so, can you give a specific example?

Mac Prichard: Sure. If I meet someone at a networking event or a dinner and we have a meaningful conversation (not just nod and shake hands) I will make a point of connecting with them on LinkedIn and I always, when sending a LinkedIn invitation – write a personal note, just a sentence or two, just reminding the person how we met. I tend to meet people in my world, so generally we’ll cross paths again, but doing that follow-up where you connect with someone on LinkedIn or you start to follow them – I’ll follow people on Twitter, as well… Again, people that I’ve had some kind of significant connection with, because so much of business, as you know, is about building relationships and getting to know people, and eventually liking and trusting them, and that’s how deals are made.

Certainly in the employment space we find, and I’m sure that your listeners have had this experience, too – while I run a job board and I’m proud of the public listings that we have and the value that employers get from those listings – most jobs gets filled by word of mouth. There are estimates out there that up to eight out of ten jobs are never advertised and are filled by conversations between peers. There’s no conspiracy here, you don’t have to have gone to a fancy school, it’s just that it’s human nature – people tend to want to work with people they know, like and trust, or who are recommended to them by people they trust. So I find that that’s true not only in the hiring process, but when you’re doing business, as well. It underscores for me the power of relationships, and making real human connections with other people.

Joe Fairless: I loved the comment about LinkedIn and how you write a personal note to that individual after you meet, you don’t just blindly say “Connect”, because it’s personal, it reminds them of how you met. But also, what I found – and I do the same thing 99% of the time… I’ll admit, I’ve gotten sloppy over the last 3-4 months, but that was my mantra up until the last 3-4 months, and I’m gonna get back on this now that we’ve talked about this.

One thing I will say is an additional benefit of writing the personal note is I might forget three years from now how I met them, and I’ll be able to reference, because LinkedIn keeps a thread of the previous messages… I’ll be able to reference how I met them if I want to reconnect for whatever reason, and that’s very valuable.

Mac Prichard: It is. Also, if I meet you and you give me your card and we have a real conversation – again, I’m not one of those people who walks into the function room at the airport Holiday Inn and blankets the space with business cards… I look for real connections, quality conversations. But if we do meet, I’ll make a note on the back of the card after the event, and when I enter it into my database I’ll put a short note there, just five or six words about how we met.

Just this morning I was at an event, a fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association in Oregon, where I happen to live and work. A lady sat next to me and she says “Hey, how are you? We’ve met before”, and I didn’t remember, but she reminded me and gave me her card. Then I went back to my office and I was updating her record and there was a note there saying that we had met five years earlier and that she had gotten her job that she has today through the job board that I operate. So just being reminded of that reinforces the connection and makes it even more real.

Joe Fairless: What database do you use?

Mac Prichard: Just Google Contacts… [laughs] I keep it simple. We’re a small operation and we just don’t have the infrastructure and the size of staff to try something like SalesForce, which is valuable, but for a smaller operation we don’t need all those [unintelligible [00:12:43].09]

Joe Fairless: Okay. Now I wanna talk a little bit about the business side of things… Your company is generating $600,000 of annual revenue – is that money coming from advertising sponsors, primarily?

Mac Prichard: It’s largely revenue from the sales of job listings. If you go to our website, MacsList.org you’ll  see a job board on the homepage, and employers paid to put listings there. The reason they do it, Joe, is because they save time and money. They get fewer applications with the posting on our site, but they’re the right ones. That means they don’t have to weigh through hundreds of resumes; they’ll get a few dozen, and 80%-90% of them are from people they wanna hear from.

We also, in addition to serving employers, because we heard from so many job seekers and they tell us that they struggle with the basics of job hunting, setting goals, doing informational interviews, polishing up their interview skills – we also provide education and training services. That’s still a small part of our business, but it’s growing. So we’re serving both communities – both employers and job seekers.

Joe Fairless: Your business has grown via word of mouth primarily, you said. What mechanisms – if any – have you put in there to help facilitate that?

Mac Prichard: It’s a great question. We find that collecting testimonials from both employers and job seekers helps promote that word of mouth; it also adds authenticity to our work, because when we do publish testimonials on our website, we ask job seekers to share their success stories on our blog, we ask people if we can publish their full name and their photos, and people who read these stories or see these testimonials – they see people who look like them, or are chasing jobs that they want, and they can identify.

It’s not surprising to me, because if you think about how people make decisions when they buy, if they’re thinking about a restaurant, they go to Yelp, they read the reviews. If they’re thinking about buying a book or an electronic product or anything on Amazon, they pay attention to the reviews. So we find that one way to support and increase that word of mouth is to collect those reviews and testimonials and those stories and share them.

Joe Fairless: Do you do video testimonials or text, e-mail testimonials and you just copy and paste that info, or anything else?

Mac Prichard: Right now we’re just using text and photos, and we’re certainly very interested in video, because a video, as you know, is so much more engaging and makes an emotional connection that can be much more powerful than you get with written word.

Joe Fairless: When did you launch the company?

Mac Prichard: Mac’s List is a side project. For years (nine years, actually) I just sent out job postings to a small list of friends, and I started hearing from people who wanted to be on the list and employers who wanted me to send postings, but it wasn’t until late in 2010 that I’ve started charging for my services.

Here’s another lesson I wish I knew back then, or 15-16 years ago. If you’re providing a valuable service and people were saying yes to your e-mails or whatever it is the product/service you’re providing for free, chances are they’re doing that because you’re providing something of value, and you should charge for that. It took me a long time before I flipped the switch on monetizing it, and I’m sorry I didn’t do it sooner because I could have served more people and grown the company and the community even more.

Joe Fairless: Was there a year that your growth did more than other years, and what would you attribute that to? In terms of revenue.

Mac Prichard: Yeah, the last two years our revenue has increased by about 40%-45%. The reason that’s happened, Joe, I think is because I invested in full-time staff, and I also invested in people who were mid-career and knew something about the business and could help me grow it.

Joe Fairless: People who weren’t right out of the gate fresh in the industry, but had some seasoning and brought some expertise to the table?

Mac Prichard: Correct. I didn’t go cheap, I didn’t look for recent college graduates; not that there’s something wrong with that, but I needed more seasoned, experienced people who could actually help grow the business and who had experience doing that.

Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners, this is a sneaky interview because on the surface it might seem like we’re talking about an online platform to help job seekers and employers match up, but the more we talk, the more I’m seeing about 5 or 6 points that are incredibly relevant to us as real estate investors and entrepreneurs. One is how we grow our word of mouth, and that is by collecting testimonials from people… As simple as text and photos would work. Two is how do we stay in touch with people, and that is sending them not only a LinkedIn request (we all know that), but how many of us actually send a personalized note to the individual. If you do, pat yourself on the back, nice work. I need to get back into that, and I will from this point forward, because it’s a great thread that we can look at and review in the future if we forget how we came across them.

Three, if an aspiring competitor wants to talk about our business because they wanna create something similar, think of them as an ally, versus the competition, because if they are successful, as you said, they’ll probably be serving a slightly different area or a slightly different demographic, and I can tell you, I whole-heartedly embrace this because my business is multifamily syndication; I raise money, I buy apartments with high net worth individuals and we’re sharing the profits. Well, I also interview people who do multifamily syndication, and it’s because the listeners need to have exposure to more people than just me who are doing what I do, and I live in a world of abundance, which you do as well.

The fourth thing is revenue growth – how did you go from where you’re at to getting 40% increases in revenue year over year, the last couple years, or in those two years you mentioned… That was hiring people who are the best of the best and paying them accordingly. Is there anything else that we haven’t talked about that you wanna mention as it relates to growing a business and lessons learned?

Mac Prichard: I guess I wanna underscore a point — great summary, Joe… Just about the power of generosity and helping others, and how much you get back in return when you do that.

Joe Fairless: I’ve got some warm fuzzies when your name comes up, because you’re the first one out of 1,000 people to actually write a review and send it to me prior to jumping on the call where I interview you on my podcast. So you walk the walk, that’s for sure.

Mac, where can the Best Ever listeners get in touch with you or learn more about your company?

Mac Prichard: Well, they can visit our website. It is www.macslist.org, and we’ve set up a special landing page where they can get a free chapter of the book. Just go to MacsList.org/bestrealestate and the book is Land Your Dream Job Anywhere. I know you focus on investors and small business owners, but many of the principles that we talked about about networking and relationship-building you’ll also find in the book, and they’re equally valuable to small business owners as well as job seekers.

Joe Fairless: Outstanding. Of course, on your book page that I’m on right now, you have testimonials, and everything that we’ve already talked about about the book itself, so thanks so much for being on the show, Mac. I hope you have a best ever weekend, and we’ll talk to you soon.

Mac Prichard: Thank you, Joe. It’s been a pleasure.

 

 

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JF937: Why Picking the RIGHT Partnership is Key in Wholesaling

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Our guest is doing many types of deals, but he does them with a partner makes up for his weaknesses. If you have any weaknesses, which I’m sure you do, you need someone there to compensate for your loss and leverage what you can’t or shouldn’t do, get a partner!

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Travis Daggett Real Estate Background:

– Owner at CornerstonePropsCo, a Premiere Real Estate Redevelopment & Renovation Company
– Full-time real estate investor for five years
– Made 5 figures on his first wholesale deal..correction: 4 figures…you’ll hear about it in the interview 😉
– Married 19 years and has three amazing kids
– Based in Eugene, Oregon
– Best Ever Book: Visioneering

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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 fluff.

With us today, Travis Daggett. How are you doing, Travis?

Travis Daggett: Doing great, thanks Joe!

Joe Fairless: Nice to have you on the show, my friend. Travis is the owner at CornerstonePropsCo, a premier real estate redevelopment and renovation company. He’s been a full-time real estate investor for five years. He made five figures on his first wholesale deal. He’s married 19 years and has three amazing kids, and he’s based in Eugene, Oregon. With that being said, Travis, do you wanna give the best ever listeners a little bit more about your background and your focus?

Travis Daggett: Yes, sure. Well, the five figures doesn’t really sound that impressive… However, I did start with literally no money, so that was a deal where I think I had an earnest money deposit in the deal, and I netted $7,000+. So it was a little better… That could be a $1,000, that’s no big deal, but for my first deal, it was alright.

Joe Fairless: Well, five figures would be $10,000+, because that would be five numbers.

Travis Daggett: Yeah, see…? This is the truth, that you don’t have to be a genius to be a real estate investor. [laughter] There’s a lot smarter people doing all kinds of things, but they’re not necessarily making more money, and sometimes they’re too smart for their own good.

Joe Fairless: [laughs] Alright, so you made 7,000 on your first… Let’s start there, how about that? Let’s start with your first wholesale deal. You made $7,000 on it. Can you tell us the story about that a little bit more?

Travis Daggett: Before this I was a sales trainer for an insurance company, and I was traveling all over… They’ve laid off about a quarter of the staff, so that was the blessing in disguise. I just started learning everything I could. I had a couple of rentals before, and that was about the extent of my real estate investing experience. I started learning about wholesaling, specifically HUD properties. This was 2011 when there were a lot of HUDs, and there was just a little loophole where you could make bids every single day on HUD properties, and you really could do it yourself. You could just find an agent that was sympathetic, I guess, and get their login information, essentially, work with them as their assistant if you needed to be an unlicensed assistant, and make bids every single day… So that’s what I did.

I got a property under contract, and then I found the buyer and did a back-to-back closing, because the HUD won’t allow assignments. So I bought it for seven and sold it for seventeen. All I had was the earnest money deposit out of pocket, which I think was $500; I had some closing costs, and type of a thing, so I think I netted over seven.

Joe Fairless: Alright, that was your first wholesale deal. Catch us up to speed, from then until what you’re doing now.

Travis Daggett: Well, 2012 was great, because there were a lot of HUDs, and I started thinking (mistakenly) that I was in the real estate investing business. At that point I really wasn’t in the real estate investing business, I was more in a tech business and real light on the real estate investing. That lead me to think I knew more than I knew, and started buying at the auction… Which, of course, was okay and I did alright, but then I thought I could get into rehabbing without really understanding it.

2013 is when I bought a property or two wrong – when I say “bought wrong”, I made the first and maybe the most deadly mistake in real estate investing, which is just buying for too much. It’s really hard or impossible to overcome that mistake.

So I made some mistakes along the way, and then HUD dried up, as a lot of people probably know. Auction properties dried up – by that I mean the supply went down, competition went up, so I needed to learn to source my own deals directly from sellers. I started doing that in 2014, and it’s been a rollercoaster, both results-wise, and when you’re self-employed, it’s an emotional rollercoaster too, but I’ve been really fortunate to partner with somebody that knows more than me and learned from him for the past couple of years.

We haven’t bought off the MLS since 2013, I think, and we sourced our own deals for the last two or three years.

Joe Fairless: And what type of volume are you doing on a monthly or annual basis?

Travis Daggett: Nothing crazy… I used to think that was the goal, to do more deals, but now I’d rather do less deals that are more profitable. Probably the average is a deal a month, but we did have one deal that was over six figures, and we had a wholesale deal that was almost $50,000, so we’ve been able to get some more profitable deals, and focus on that instead of volume.

Joe Fairless: And since you are selective with the properties that you end up working on, what is your criteria that you look at for a property to pass the test?

Travis Daggett: Well, we have two main targets or lists that we’re going after, because most of our deals come from direct mail… So the first one is properties where we’ve actually driven through neighborhoods, seen the property, wrote down the address, looked up the owner information, sent him a letter… That’s really the most valuable and valuable list that you can have – at least we believe – because we don’t have to guess at whether the property is a property that we wanna buy. When we’ve marketed to the absentee owner list in the past, we got people calling, they have a move-in ready house, and really that’s not good for them, not good for us. There’s really no way for us to create value or margin in a transaction like that, because we’re not real estate agents looking for listings.

So the first target is residential properties, mostly single-family, and we just call it our “driving for dollars” or our neighborhood list. The second is foreclosures, when the bank has filed either a notice of default for non-judicial foreclosure, or a lis pendens for a judicial foreclosure, because in Oregon we have both.

We’ve gotten a number of deals that way, targeting that list. That’s a lot more labor-intensive for each transaction.

Joe Fairless: Will you walk us through the process for how that works, and your role, and what data resources you need to have access to?

Travis Daggett: When I started in 2011 on HUD properties, again, it was real admin-heavy, it was really more of a tech business, and thankfully that’s an area where I’m stronger… So I started using virtual assistants, and I couldn’t have done what I did then without them, and I couldn’t do it now. We use virtual assistants to do a lot of the scrubbing on our lists. We’ll go out and drive through a neighborhood… Let’s say we take a day and we come up with a few hundred addresses, and then the VAs – they’re usually overseas, they’re in India or the Philippines – during the night (over here), they’ll use Property Radar (or whatever other site we need for that county) to find the owner’s names and their mailing address, because they may be different, and that completes our list.

With the foreclosure properties, we just get those from the title company, that’s free. There’s scrubbing involved there though as far as prioritizing the properties that we’re gonna go after more heavily in the beginning. Equity, for sure, a property with a good interest rate in case we wanna assume the mortgage or purchase it subject to the existing mortgage, that type of thing.

Joe Fairless: Will you tell us about the last deal you did? Give us the numbers and tell us which one of these paths allowed you to find it.

Travis Daggett: Yeah, sure. The final numbers aren’t in on that, but that’s fine, we can go through the process pretty well. The property that was on the foreclosure list, it was non-judicial foreclosure. We always have to have a cooperative seller, of course, or a cooperative homeowner. We wanna help them, they have to want the help, and it’s really a win for the bank too, if you understand negotiating for the bank. They’re not in the business of property restoration, or property management, or really anything to do with properties, so it’s a win for them.

So there were two loans on the property, we went through a number of rounds at the bank of negotiating, and we were able to postpone the sale a couple times, which helps us. In this case, we actually worked successful in negotiating a discount with the first lender, but we knew even if we purchased it for the amount of the first mortgage and the second it’d still be a deal, so we went ahead and paid off the first – they were the ones foreclosing – and then we continued to negotiate with the second, even though they really had no reason to negotiate with us… But we thought we’d just give it a shot, and ended up getting it for the amounts in the first and the second. But it was still a deal, especially when you consider the market here, where it’s less than two months of inventory, so it’s very competitive.

Prices are going up — we’re not buying for speculation, but were all in on our purchase I think at 140, and as it sat, it’s probably worth in the upper hundred, and then with a renovation of probably 30,000 (nothing major), it’d be worth in the low two-hundreds, and we’ll probably rent it out for 1,500/month, I would guess.

Our aim high is definitely a 1% rent-to-cost ratio. In that Eugene area we also have appreciation, so we’ll go anywhere from 0.75 to 0.8%, up to 1% rent-to-cost ratio.

Joe Fairless: Is your goal to buy and hold these properties?

Travis Daggett: Right, so my partner has a property management company, and that’s our partnership: I find the properties, so I’m in charge of the marketing and finding the deals, and then at that point he really takes over as far as the property management side. That’s what we’ve done on all but one; we’ve wholesaled one, but everything in the last couple of years, we’ve held on to through this property management company.

Joe Fairless: And do you just split the costs 50/50?

Travis Daggett: Well, cost of the marketing — again, I was really fortunate to find a guy that really knows this stuff and he’s honest. We met at a real estate investing REIA group (Real Estate Investors Association). So yeah, we basically split the costs upfront for the marketing, and then since we’re not cashing out the property so to speak, we just did an appraisal on the property, because usually we’re gonna finance out of it with a bank loan… So now we have an appraisal, we know what we’re all into it, so we have our equity in the property.

At that point, I can either say, “Well, okay, I’ll take the equity as a payout right now” or I can say “Well, I’ll stay in the property and we’ll just split the cash flow.”

Joe Fairless: Oh, okay. Alright. Either one of you have the flexibility to cash out your equity at closing and be done with that property, and the other person holds on to it, or you both have ownership and enjoy the cash flow and appreciation…

Travis Daggett: Yeah. I mean, it’s really more of his choice than mine. I’m fine with that, of course, because he’s got the property management company. But it’s just one of those — I’m sure people have been in bad partnerships (and good ones) and it’s probably pretty rare (I’m thankful for that) that there hasn’t been that tension when we feel like we’re on opposite sides of the table. For the most part, we feel like we’re on the same side of the table; we’re not negotiating against each other, so it’s been a good situation.

Joe Fairless: Yeah, it’s refreshing when you have a business partner like that. Just for point of clarification, you said it’s really up to him on that… I don’t understand that point. Can you elaborate?

Travis Daggett: We have different ways of looking at who controls a deal, and whose it is, so to speak, who owns it. So since I’m finding most of the deals, I could say “Okay, these are my deals.” However, early on, just because of the nature of our partnership and relationship, we both just agreed all the deals we just throw into the pot.

We were in a situation where I was saying, “Okay, here’s the deal. How much do you want for it?” It’s a traditional wholesaler type of attitude. I said, “Here’s the deal, let’s see what we can do with it?” A part of it is he has access to a lot more capital than I do (at better rates, at least), so he’s funding the deals, so I’m happy to give him a lot of the decision-making that way, too.

Joe Fairless: That makes sense.

Travis Daggett: Yeah, we’re both in agreement. It’s not like I’m saying, “Hey, we should flip this thing because we’re gonna make six figures just after doing floor and paint” and he’s saying “No, I wanna hold to this.” Most of them it’s pretty clear when we buy it it’s gonna be a rental.

For example, we purchased one for a few hundred thousand in Eugene, so that one we know it’s gonna be a flip when we’re done with the rehab.

Joe Fairless: Okay. The point I had missed was that he was financing them and you were finding them. Once you said that, it made a lot of sense.

If you partner were to move away – for whatever reason – and you had to find a new partner, how would you qualify that new partner so that you would attempt to have the same caliber or partner that you have now?

Travis Daggett: Tough question. In partnerships in business, and I’m sure just generally in life, it’s usually (from my experience) more of the intangibles or the character issues that damage partnerships or damage businesses, as opposed to people’s aptitudes. I think we all know really smart, skilled people that can self-destruct and destroy partnerships.

In the case of my partner, I was able to thankfully observe him for a couple of years just through the REIA and just through some acquaintances, and watching him and his business, and seeing that he was someone that did what they said they were gonna do. He had a track record of success in partnering with other people… Without that knowledge, it’d be really tough to find a partner or to choose a partner.

I’d have to start with somebody that plays to my weaknesses… Kind of like a marriage – if you have the same strengths and weaknesses, that can be a little bit of a challenge. So it should be somebody that is strong where I’m weak, and maybe where they’re weak, I’m strong. In our partnership now, I’m certainly not strong in negotiating and funding. I’ve gotten pretty strong in admin and stronger in marketing… So I’d say somebody that’s strong in the funding side and the construction side, that’s who I’d look for.

Joe Fairless: What is your best real estate investing advice ever?

Travis Daggett: I kind of alluded to it earlier… I’d say don’t be confused about what business you’re in and what your strengths actually are, because I think pride and arrogance and blindness in that area can really destroy you.

Joe Fairless: Now, are you ready for the Best Ever Lightning Round?

Travis Daggett: I’m ready!

Joe Fairless: Alright. First, a quick word from our Best Ever partners.

Break: [[00:18:26].14] to [[00:19:07].24]

Joe Fairless: Best ever book you’ve read?

Travis Daggett: Visioneering, by Andy Stanley.

Joe Fairless: Best ever deal you’ve done.

Travis Daggett: A deal in Eugene… It was a short sale, over six figures in profit.

Joe Fairless: Now, is that six figures, is that seven, or is that five or four or three? I have to ask you now a second time.

Travis Daggett: I got it straight now, this is tax season. [laughter] I gotta nail it.

Joe Fairless: Best ever way you like to give back?

Travis Daggett: I think it’s just the lifestyle, it’s really plan. All of us can give emotionally when we see the kid on TV with the belly sticking out, but I think giving is really a lifestyle, so it’s planned. We plan that we’re gonna give a certain amount, we’re not just surprised at the end of the year when we do our taxes.

Joe Fairless: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made on a deal?

Travis Daggett: Well, I think I talked about this one earlier, but I’ll relive that painful memory again… Bought at auction, so of course, it’s done, paid cash; trusted a partner who unintentionally — he just was outside of his area of expertise as well… Then we made it worse by over-rehabbing it by about double, then we made it worse still by selling with seller financing — not that that’s a bad strategy in general, but just delaying our misery… And then ended up taking the loss I think two years after we bought it. We should have just swallowed the poison a couple of years earlier and taken a loss.

Joe Fairless: Tell us about the six-figure profit that you made. Tell us the numbers on that one.

Travis Daggett: Really desirable area near [unintelligible [00:20:41].28]. It took over a year to finish it, to close on it. When we first shot – short sale, direct mail marketing, they called us… As soon as we looked at it, even online, looked at comps and stuff, we knew that it was a great area property, we really wanted to have it. Even before we looked at it, we said “If we can get this anywhere near 300,000, it’s a deal.” So we met with the sellers, they were very cooperative – he was actually a patents attorney, so he knew a little bit about the legal process. It took a long time, a lot of handholding – I don’t mean that in a condescending way – just walking him through the process and negotiating with the banks, meeting the VPO agent there, dealing with all kinds of liens that popped up with credit cards, and just going through that whole process.

We ended up buying it for 244,000 I think, so just right out of the gate we had probably 50,000 in equity, and then it was a light rehab… Of course, over the years, from when we started to when we finished, that area went through the roof even in property values; it probably went up double digits, so we ended up with over a hundred thousand dollars in equity when we ended up closing on it, finished rehabbing and then appraised.

Joe Fairless: That’s great. How much did you put into the rehab?

Travis Daggett: About 30. Maybe less. Maybe 25.

Joe Fairless: And what did you sell it for?

Travis Daggett: No, we held on to this one, because it’s a hot campus rental area. I really don’t know off the top of my head what we rent it for, but I would have to guess it’s in the twos. I couldn’t see it renting for less than 2,000/month.

Joe Fairless: Yeah, sounds like a great buy and hold, that’s for sure. Where can the Best Ever listeners get in touch with you?

Travis Daggett: The e-mail address is selltocornerstone@gmail.com. That’s my business, Cornerstone Properties Eugene is the name of the business.

Joe Fairless: Travis, thank you for being on the show, and talking about the deals that you’ve done, how you’re getting those deals, the hundred-thousand dollar in equity that you have as a buy and hold, how you found it and the short sale process… Along with the partnership stuff, because that’s really important. Real estate really is a partnership and team environment, and we have to be careful who we partner with.

I love the approach that you take. It is really about having someone who plays to your weaknesses, and I found out the same thing with my partners that worked out – they are strong where I’m not, and I’m strong where they’re not, and it makes for the best partnership.
Thanks so much for being on the show. I hope you have a best ever day, and we’ll talk to you soon!

Travis Daggett: You’re welcome. Thanks, Joe!

 

 

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Best Ever Show Real Estate Advice from experts

JF746: What You MUST Include in Your Insurance Coverage or Pay the Consequences #SituationSaturday

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Today’s guest has been in the insurance industry for many years and will share with us the importance of having water damage coverage in your insurance policy. Watermain break? No problem!

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Darrin Gross Real Estate Background:

– Host of Commercial Real Estate Pro Network
– Specializes in real estate investor insurance needs
– Based in Portland, Oregon
– Say hi at commercialrealestatepronetwork.com

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JF669: What a Professional SQUATTER Will Do to Destroy Your Flipping Plans #situationsaturday

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Today’s guest started back in 2009, but met Mike attempting to complete the most difficult transaction that would have taken almost three years to complete. It began with a foreclosure market, finding a home, then passing through all the legalities in attempts to flip it. They ran into a huge issues such as proving a pre-existing basement and a squatter that was very sly, you have to hear this show!

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Mike Nuss Real Estate Background:

– Mike and Tyler met in 2010 on a complicated transaction
– Mike was previously an appraiser
– Based in Portland, Oregon
– Say hi at rarebirdinvestors.com

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You find the deals. We’ll fund them. Yes, it’s that simple. Fund That Flip is an online lender that provides fast and affordable capital to real estate investors.

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JF650: How an Appraiser Levels Up to Control $8 MM in Portland Real Estate

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He was just about to purchase a car wash to convert it into a food truck lot. Only in Portland Oregon! Today’s guest was an appraiser and has worked the real estate investing field for some years now with his partner. They control over 8 million in real estate assets and allow for a select few to invest with them. Hear his show and how he creatively structures deals!

Best Ever Tweet:

Mike Nuss Real Estate Background:

– Licensed appraiser
– Controls over $8,000,000 in real estate
– Owner/Founder of Rare Bird Real Estate
– Based in Portland, Oregon
– You can reach him at myrarebird.com

Listen to all episodes and get a FREE crash course on real estate investing at: http://www.joefairless.com

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You find the deals. We’ll fund them. Yes, it’s that simple. Fund That Flip is an online lender that provides fast and affordable capital to real estate investors.

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