The Step-by-Step Guide to Finding the BEST Off-Market Real Estate Deals

In this article Finding off-market real estate deals can be a great way to kick off your investing career, as it requires very little money to get started. The catch? You must be willing to get your hands dirty. Welcome back to the Real Estate Rookie podcast! Today, we’re chatting with real estate wholesaler Nate Robbins. After a long and successful career in banking, Nate was beginning to feel burnt out and frustrated with life. As fate would have it, he ran into Tarl Yarber—one of the most successful real estate investors in the Pacific Northwest. Under Tarl’s mentorship, Nate learned the ropes of real estate investing. With his strong people skills, natural ability to communicate, and infectious personality, he was able to carve out a niche in acquisitions—where he has been able to close off-market deals at a massive profit. If you need real estate to be your escape rope from the monotony of your nine-to-five, this episode is for you! Nate talks about shedding the W2 mentality and how to find the best investing strategy for you. He also shares his step-by-step process for finding highly profitable off-market deals. Whether you’re a bubbly extrovert or a cautious introvert, Nate will equip you with practical tips on how to engage a seller and get your foot in the door! Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts. Listen to the Podcast Here Read the Transcript Here Ashley:This is Real Estate Rookie Episode 326. Nate:As soon as I say cold calling, most people just kind of shut down. “I’m never going to do that, I can’t do that.” I promise you, you can. With your skill level, with your own unique personality, you absolutely can do this. But I think it’s a matter of managing your expectations, and I think that’s where a lot of people get gummed up. So I’ll tell you what I say and what I do, and then maybe we could dive a little bit deeper on this. Ashley:My name is Ashley Kehr, and I’m here with my co-host Tony J Robinson. Tony:And welcome to the Real Estate Rookie Podcast, where every week, twice a week, we bring you the inspiration, motivation, and stories you need to hear to kickstart your investing journey. And rookies, do we have an episode for you guys today? If you have ever thought to yourself, “Where can I find really good deals? How can I do that with the least amount of money possible?” Nate Robbins, our guest for today, is going to answer that question for you. Now, Nate’s a friend of both Ashley and I, he’s one of the biggest characters I think I know in the world of real estate investing. He’s always got a smile on his face, always making people laugh. But don’t let his kind of boyish charm fool you, Nate is an absolute beast when it comes to finding good off market deals. Ashley:You know what? That’s so funny because that exactly describes [inaudible 00:01:14] his boyish charm. And yeah, so we bring Nate on today and we talk about how he actually got started in real estate, gives you a little background of that. And it was a very unique situation, and how he took advantage of this opportunity presented to him.Then we’re going to go into how to source a deal, how to find a deal. And Nate will walk you through the two different paths as to how he finds addresses or gets the houses that he wants to go after. And we break down exactly what you should say on the phone, exactly what you should do when you’re at a seller appointment, step-by-step instructions. As you’re listening to this, I want you to write down notes of what Nate is going to say. And kind of develop your own plan to follow this along, and just try it out.Pick up the phone, make a phone call, go door knocking, but Nate does a really great job of describing in detail a step-by-step list for you to go and do exactly what he’s doing.Nate Robbins, welcome to the Real Estate Rookie Podcast. Nate:It’s the honor of my life, I love you guys. And your audience doesn’t know how lucky they are to have you in their lives. Ashley:Well, thank you, that was a very nice compliment. But today we are here to shower you with love and admiration on your real estate investing journey. So Nate, why don’t you start off telling everyone a little bit about yourself, and then how you got started in real estate. Nate:Yeah, so back in 2016, I was working for a bank. I’d been working at a bank for about five years, I was a private client banker. And I’ll be honest, I really should not be where I am today. There’s just no logical reason way that I am where I am today. And so I was working at the bank back in 2016, and I was actually hitting kind of a midlife crisis. I was very frustrated with my work, frustrated with life. And I got off a very frustrating phone call with a client and I hung up, and I just see this random guy standing in the lobby. And not wanting to make any more phone calls, I just get up out of my desk. I wasn’t necessarily supposed to pull the clients from the lobby. Walked over to this guy and I said, “Hey man, how can I help you?” And he goes, “Well, I need to open a business account.” And I was like, “No problem, I can help with that.”And so I brought him over to my desk, [inaudible 00:03:47] chatting with this guy and I’m like, “Dude, you’re a really cool guy. What do you do?” And he goes, “Well, I’m in real estate.” I was like, “Oh, that’s cool, I’ve always been interested in real estate.” And I bought Carleton Sheets when I was 18, trying to… Your audience wouldn’t even know who Carleton Sheets is. Ashley:I don’t know who that is. Tony:You don’t know Carleton Sheets, Ashley? Ashley:No, no. Tony:So I don’t know, I was a really weird kid, I would stay up late during the summer months. And late at night when you don’t have really good cable packages, all you see is infomercials. Ashley:Mm-hmm. Tony:And every single night Carleton Sheets had an infomercial running for this at-home kind of package that taught you how to buy real estate with no money down. Nate:Yeah. Tony:Anyway, he was one of the big real estate info marketers back in the day. Nate:He’s the original guru kind of thing, he sold the program and then he’d get you in your loop and he’d sell you more programs and stuff. And so yeah, it’s kind of funny. Hey, actually Tony, if you want, I’ll send you the tapes, you could listen to him again if you want. Tony:My dad actually had a copy, I was in his garage a decade ago and found [inaudible 00:04:51] and Sheets’ tapes also. Nate:It actually has some pretty good stuff in it. It’s pretty basic, but it’s really good stuff. And I’m like, “Oh, okay, cool.” Yeah, it’s nice, but- Ashley:Okay Nate, you don’t need to give us your affiliate link now, back to you. Nate:So I’ve actually signed up, but- Ashley:Sign up under me. Nate:Yeah. I can promote my Amway business also? So anyway, that one conversation with that business account ended up being a conversation with who you guys know, Tarl Yarber. I don’t know if your audience would know who he is, but was one of the most successful real estate flippers up here in the Seattle Pacific Northwest market. And so he’s like, “Well, hey, let’s grab coffee and a lunch.” And so that turned into about a two or three month conversation. And then after about three months, he said, “Hey, I’m willing to offer you a 90-day contract to come work with me.” And so I had to make the choice of, do I stay at a safe job at the bank? Or do I take a chance on a 90-day contract to go and maybe succeed or fail at real estate? And so thankfully, the fear of not knowing what would happen was greater than the fear of being safe or the need for security. And so I took the chance and it’s been an absolute wild, wild ride ever since. Ashley:In that moment when you were looking at, okay, 90 days, what happens after 90 days? Are you the type of person that’s like, “Worst case scenario, this is what I can do.” Did you think you could go back to your other job? Maybe if somebody listening is given that same opportunity, what’s your advice on ways that they can take that chance and kind of shift their mindset to leaping into something that may only be 90 days and not continue on? Nate:Yeah. Well, I got to the point, and again, I was kind of in a existential crisis a little bit in my life. And so I got to a place… Because it was a big deal, I was on a fairly successful track with my job, I had a plan, a 10-year plan. And I got to the point of saying, or I had this image of saying, “Well, I’m on my deathbed.” It was kind of future casting. I’m on my deathbed, I’m always going to wonder what if? And the fear of… I had to see, I had to know what if? What if it did succeed? What if I did make it? What if this was my chance? And I had to know even if I failed. And so I kind of hedged my bets where I left gracefully, I left kind of on an extended timeline to help my manager out. So I knew that I could always come back if I failed, but I had to know.And so I think sometimes it’s easy to play it safe, but on your deathbed when you’re dying and you’re about to take your last breath, are you going to be glad you took the chance? Or are you going to be glad you played it safe? And I think most people… And I’m sure you guys see a lot of these same motivational things. Most people on their deathbed when they interview these people on their last moments, it’s not taking the chance, it’s not taking the risk and taking the opportunity. And so for me, I had to see what happened down this path. And yeah, I would encourage other people too, it’s man, take the chance, see what happens. Tony:Nate, I just want to ask, you’re talking about taking this chance, but you worked in a bank, but were you in the mortgage department? Did you have any type of real estate experience prior taking this big bet on yourself I guess? Nate:No, none. Ashley:So why would Tarl want you? What were the things that you thought… What did he see? Besides how handsome you are, what are some other qualities that he looked for? Nate:Have you seen this hair? Tony:I was just about to say, man, and how perfectly quaffed that [inaudible 00:08:56]. Nate:It’s almost as good as yours, Tony. It’s almost as good. Yeah, well, I think obviously, I have a real hard time talking to people. I don’t have any kind of personality and I stutter a lot. So those were some of the hindrances I had, but I think I owe a lot to Tarl for where I am at today. And I think what he saw… And he’s very good at this as well, when he sees potential in somebody, he’s really open to taking a chance on that person. And so I think it was probably pretty obvious that I was miserable, and I think from our conversations together he saw somebody that was really miserable, had a lot more potential and was stuck in a place that wasn’t that great for him.And so Tarl saw that in me, and I think just doing what I do because my strong suit really is building relationships with people, it’s communicating, it’s getting to know somebody, it’s building rapport. And so my job within the bank was as a private client banker, so I was dealing with high net worth clients. I had no real estate background, I really didn’t have anything as far as real estate was concerned to bring to the table. But my personality, my ability to communicate and talk to people, that really I think is what kind of opened the door for me to work with Tarl. Tony:Nate, just I want to go back really quickly to something that you mentioned about the whole laying on your deathbed thing. And I think there’s a lot of value and you used a phrase future casting in that way. And there’s a book I’m reading right now, it’s called The Good Life, and it’s by two doctors, Robert Waldinger and Marc Schulz. But basically it was this longitudinal study where they followed hundreds of people over multiple decades. From the time they were 18 until they were in their 80s, and they passed away. And they even followed on with their kids and their grandchildren. So just crazy amount of data and it just goes into hey, what are the key factors of actually living a good life based on this really long comprehensive study? And a lot of it was kind of tied into what you said about taking some of those risks. And kind of surrounding yourself with people that you really get energy from. As opposed to being in an environment where you’ve got a bunch of energy vampires that are kind of pulling life out of you.So I just wanted to plug that book, I’m 30% through it, I’ve already really enjoyed it. But The Good Life by Robert Waldinger and Marc Schulz, if you guys are looking for a good read on that. Nate:Yeah, I think you bring up a very interesting point that I’m still learning. And I think at least in my life, there’s a tipping point where I’ll be in a situation or I’ll be in a job, well, not a job anymore, but I’ll be in a situation where it no longer feels life-giving, it’s an energy drain on me. And I think it’s very challenging to want to pursue safety and security over having the integrity to say, “Hey, this is no longer really helping me, it’s killing me.” And trying to make active changes. Because the reality is we’re not trees, we can move, we can make changes, and we can make those things, right? So when you realize that those things are starting to happen to you, maybe it’s a relationship, maybe it’s a job, maybe it’s something, you have the ability to make changes to improve that situation and find that vein of, “Hey, this is giving me life, this is now exciting, this is good for me, this is getting me to where I need to go.”So just being aware of that, and I’m still learning that as well, but okay, now I need a change, let’s start working that. Tony:One more plug, because I said the word book. And anytime we say the word book on this podcast, Ashley and I now have to plug the Real Estate Partnerships book with Ashley and I co-authored. If you head over to biggerpockets.com/partnerships, you guys can pick up a copy of that book. But now anytime the word book or partnership is mentioned on this podcast, we have to plug the Real Estate Partnerships book. Nate:Okay, well, we’re going to plug that a couple more times then. Ashley:Pretty soon anytime the word real estate is said, I’m plugging it. So tell me, Nate, what kind of investing do you like to do? Nate:Well, actually after that whole thing with Tarl, I don’t actually do real estate anymore. Ashley:Oh, real estate, so we have this [inaudible 00:13:14]. Let’s talk about when you made that transition. You’re leaving your bank job and you’re going to work for Tarl, what were some of the things that you were doing for this job? What was the actual position? Nate:So this is a little bit funny, and I’ll do the [inaudible 00:13:31]. Tarl, when he hired me he was looking to replicate himself. He wanted to kind of get a step away from the business, run the business and just replicate himself. And we could probably talk about this as well, but I left the bank with a very much of W2 mentality. And Tarl was looking for somebody with more of a independent, I’m going to go figure this out and get it done. So the first two weeks I’m just sitting in the car with him like, “All right man, tell me what to do. I have no idea anything about anything, just tell me what to do.” And after about a month of that, he was starting to get pretty frustrated. And so if you talk to him ever, you’ll find out I was on my way to getting fired actually. And then we went to a Jocko Conference down in San Diego and that reframed some of his thinking, and so anyway, I got a second chance.But what was apparent is that my strong suit and my skillset wasn’t really around the detailed operations of managing a project. Now, I can do that, but I wasn’t the skill match for Tarl. And so what it became apparent is that I’m much more stronger suited or my skillset is really in building relationships and that type of thing. And so the role that I kind of fell into or I kind of got more focused on was acquisitions. So networking with wholesalers, going direct to seller and that kind of the wholesale aspect of the business. And so just again, kind of Tarl realizing, “Hey, you’re better suited over here, not what I originally planned. So let’s move you over here and get you kind of in a better role.” And so that was kind of how I kind of fell into this whole acquisitions, door knocking, cold calling, deal finding, all that kind of good stuff. Ashley:That is such a real thing, the W2 mentality. And it’s also part of who you are too as far as your DiSC profile and things like that as to how you perceive the world. But being you just want to be told how to do something and you can master it instead of having to figure it out. And then there’s other people that want to figure it out and can figure it out. But that was something I struggled with too with one of my business partners, he came from the W2 world. And everything was handed to him as to, “Here’s what you have to do.” And he would just go and do it. And then it was on to the next thing of [inaudible 00:15:57] what you had to do. And there was never really a lot of decision making or even scheduling yourself or any kind of task management because everything was just given right to you.And I think making that transition is really hard. Honestly, I think it took him a year. Now he oversees all of the maintenance for my property management company. And it is boom, boom, boom, everything is just done, he just takes action on it. But if he was doing that a year and a half ago, I literally would’ve had to sit down with him, “Okay, here’s this work order, this is what you have to do. Now let’s schedule it for this day and this time. Now go ahead and text her, tell her you’re going to be here at this time this day.” Nate:Yeah. Ashley:But now he can just go and figure it out, but that is such a big thing. So what are some of the things that you did to kind of get out of that? Because I feel you obviously haven’t stayed stuck in that W2 mentality. I can seriously doubt Tarl is still telling you exactly what to do every day. Nate:Well, it’s actually funny because now I’d say about 8, 12 months ago, we’ve kind of stopped doing real estate up here in the Pacific Northwest. So we work together on other aspects of that, and so if I did have any W2 mentality a year ago, it’s definitely gone now because it’s now 100% dependent on me, right? And so I’m looking, I’m trying to think back to my mentality on this kind of stuff, and I think it’s when you really, really want it bad enough, you will figure it out. People want the easy road, they want the easy five steps to make a million dollars. And that information exists except for… What did I see? Hold on, I have to read this quote today. And I posted this, right? It was like, “Building a real estate business is simple, knowing what to do is simple. Executing on what to do is hard, being consistent is hard, delayed gratification is hard, being persistent is hard.”And so I think it’s just one of these things that it’s not wrong to have a W2 mentality, but it can be hard to succeed. And so you have to have this mentality of, “I am going to succeed, I’m not going to quit. I want this and I’m not going to wait for somebody else to come kind of spoonfeed me. I have to go get it and I’m going to go get it.” And so I don’t know if that was clear, but that’s kind my thought process on that. Tony:You kind of said it yourself that no one’s going to spoonfeed you, you have to go get it, Nate. So once you and Tarl had that realization of the detailed operational management isn’t kind of speaking to your natural genius, it’s more so the relationship side. What did that onboarding experience look like? How did you figure out what you should be doing every day? Or what was the effective way to go out? And just even I guess just taking them one step back, if you can first just define kind of what your new goal was after you guys have kind of decided, “Okay, here’s the role for Nate.” What was the end result you were looking for? And then how did you go about teaching yourself how to do that? Nate:Yeah, so one of the advantage… Now, I have to be very clear, I had an extreme advantage working with someone like Tarl, because it gave me a lot of things. It gave me access to a lot of high level people that normally a lot of people starting out don’t get, so that was an advantage. He put me in the room with a lot of very successful guys that I could pick their brain and kind of learn from their systems and stuff like that. And so that was a huge advantage. I think with social media and things like that, people today, even if you’re starting out, you can still kind of get the help that you need, but it was really nice having that kind of thing.Now, the thing that was a challenge was that there was no onboarding process. There was no “Hey, this is how you wholesale.” It was more like, “Hey, go talk to this person and figure it out.” And so even though I had these connections, I made a lot of stupid mistakes. Which we could talk about if you want, because I’m sure your audience would love to hear about dumb things that happened, but I know I do. Ashley:I would love to hear about what that process has turned into for you because that was part of a lot of value that you bring. And you’ve helped me a ton with this, is how to actually talk to people to sell their property, and what those kind of processes are. So do you want to start from the very beginning of how you’re even finding a house, how you’re then finding the seller and kind of go from there? Nate:Well, first off, Tony, did I answer your question? Did I get to that? Tony:Yeah. Nate:Okay. Tony:I think the only other thing I’d add is just the goal of what it is, right? Tarl brought you in because he had a business of flipping homes. And in order to profitably flip homes, you have to buy properties at a discount in comparison to what you’ll be able to sell them for. So if I’m hearing you correctly, Nate, the role that you were then slotted to fill was to help Tarl find those undervalued properties. Am I hearing that correctly? Nate:Correct. And that came through, it could be a number of different ways like networking with other wholesalers myself doing that, agents. It was just I just need to bring in, I think it was about two to three deals a month is what I needed to bring in to the business. Ashley:Okay, let’s start with that of how are you even finding the deals you’re bringing them in? I want to create a step-by-step process so everyone listening can go ahead and write this down, make their own little checklist and kind of do exactly what you do, because you are so great at it. So first thing, how to find houses, go ahead. Nate:Yeah, well, thank you for that kind word. I will say there’s two tracks, right? There’s the people… And we could go deep on this if you want because this is where I’m probably most passionate about. You have the people that don’t have a lot of disposable income, and they’re going to have to bootstrap it. And they’re just going to have to get after it until they can make some additional income. And so on that vein, so we have the, “I have to just get after it.” Because they don’t have a lot of capital invest. There’s a couple of things that I would say. Number one, is I would download the Driving For Dollars App. And if people aren’t familiar with Driving For Dollars, it’s basically where you drive around neighborhoods and you’re looking for dilapidated houses, tarps on the roof, boarded up windows, overgrown lawns, vacant houses, missing power meters, things like that.And so if you don’t have a lot of money to invest, and there’s other apps that can do this, I just prefer… because I’m friends with Tucker Merrihew. I don’t get any kickbacks from this, although, Tucker you should sponsor me. But I would download the Driving For Dollars App, and then over a weekend I would drive around median priced houses in a neighborhood that you’re relatively familiar with or a town or a city you’re familiar with. And I would drive up and down every single street and I would create a list of at least a thousand houses over a weekend. And so if you live in a place like Portland, you could do that in a couple of hours. Ashley:So what are you looking for when you’re looking at these properties? What was some of your kind of criteria? Nate:So I kind of mentioned before, if the house is vacant, if you’ve got boards on the windows, if you’ve got tarps on the roof, if it’s overgrown and with a bunch of vacant nasty cars in the thing, any signs of distress really. With this one, sometimes you can be a little bit liberal on it, you just have no idea who’s willing to have a conversation, but any signs of distress. Pro-tip, actually drive down the alleys. I don’t know in most cities, but ours, we have kind of back alleys that drive between two streets of houses. Sometimes that gives you a different perspective where the house looks good on the front, and you go down the alley and all of a sudden there’s a, “Oh, this is absolutely really bad.” So you can mark the house down, but any signs of distress, just mark it down.And so what the Driving For Dollars App will allow you to do is you can just drive with the map open or the app open. You can drop a pin on the house and you can just kind of track your progress on what streets you’re going up and down. And I would just continue to build that list. Ideally, you want to build that list of 5, 7, 10,000, depending on your market and depending on how hard you want to go. Tony:Just one clarifying question. Nate:Mm-hmm. Tony:So Nate, I want to give some context to the rookies that are listening because you just said you want to get this list to not 500, but 5 or 10,000. First, how much time do you think it would take for someone to get to a list of that size, Driving For Dollars? And just like cumulatively, how much time do they have to spend driving? And then why does the list need to be so big? Because I think some people have this misconception around the volume that you need to be able to source markets off deals. So how much time? And why that volume? Nate:So I would say a couple of things on that. Number one, you don’t have to have 5 to 10,000 to start. If you were a brand new person, if one of your listeners is a brand new person, sat in front of me. And they’re like, “I want to get my very first deal.” I would say, “Download this app, and then go create a list of 200. Start with 200, and tell me your top 20 worst houses that you found, that are vacant. For sure there’s nobody in there and they’re really, really bad.” And so I would start, you don’t have to have that number, but if you’re going to build a business and actually grow this to continually source off market stuff, basically you want a larger list. And the reason you want that is… And I’ve seen this a lot with a lot of newer people, is that they’ll find 100 houses, and they’ll market to that, but they won’t get any calls.Well, your section of people, it’s too small. And you just need a larger group to actually try and generate consistent leads. And so if you have 5, 6, 10,000 houses that you’re marketing to, well, then the deals will start… you’re going to get more deals that way, essentially. Tony:And I think just one thing to call out is that sellers’ timelines don’t always match with when you’re marketing to them. And this is, I kid you guys not, when I first started investing in real estate back in, I think it was summer of 2019. I sent out a bunch of mailers to Shreveport, Louisiana, where I was investing at the time. I got a call last week from someone on one of those mailers and he said, “Hey, I wasn’t ready to sell when I got your mailer, but I’m ready to sell today.” That was almost four and a half, five years ago that I sent those mailers out and someone’s calling me today. So I think it just goes to show that you’ve got to start planting those seeds, and then over time they all start to kind of sprout up. Ashley:Tony, are we going to have another story about another house in Louisiana? Tony:No, I didn’t even call them back. I didn’t even call them back, I’m not going back there. Nate:Give me the lead, I’ll deal with it. I got you. Ashley:Yeah, yeah, give it to [inaudible 00:26:53]. So as far as, okay, you have your list, you have the property address, right? Nate:Yep. Ashley:Are you finding other information? What’s happening once you’ve started to build this list of addresses? Nate:Yeah, so what I would say, again, if you have no money and you’re bootstrapping it and you’re just starting out. What I’d say is once you get to 200, I’d start taking action. Now, the Driving For Dollars App, and I know there’s other apps that will… DealMachine I think is one other one, they’ll give you a little bit of the seller’s information. Seller data is probably one of the most challenging aspects of off-market stuff, because you’re not always getting the right stuff. Most skip tracing services are probably 70% accurate. And so I probably spend a little bit too much on this, but I have three other programs that I pay every month to have access to.And so yeah, these would be the ones I use. And you don’t have to spend all this money on these, but if you’re going to do this longterm it might be worth it. I have Whitepages, and I think that’s 60 bucks a quarter, so 20 bucks a month, I think. REISkip, you pay per skip on that one, so you put in 50 bucks and then it’ll last you until you’re done. Ashley:Nate, what’s a skip? Nate:Oh. Tony:Yeah. Ashley:You pay per skip, what’s a skip? Nate:Oh, good question. So basically Whitepages… let me give you this and I’ll explain all that. So I’ve used Whitepages, REISkip and People Finder PRO, and then Driving For Dollars. And so what this does is this allows you to look up the homeowner’s information, and get a bunch of emails, phone numbers and potentially mailing addresses. And so between the Driving For Dollars App, Whitepages, REISkip and People Finder PRO, I generally can find a phone number for the seller. And so if you were again, sitting in front of me, I’d say, “Once you have a list of 200, you have your top 20 worst ones. I would not think about it too much, look up, even get a piece of paper out, write it down, your seller leads, write down all their phone numbers, and then just pick up the phone and you call.” Tony:So you mentioned a few pieces of software, but you didn’t mention PropStream. Which I feel is a super popular one for a lot of wholesalers that I know. Is there a reason why you’re not using that software? Nate:I use PropStream when I’m pulling lists and stuff like that. Tony:Mm-hmm. Nate:So I do use PropStream, there’s nothing against it, it’s just for the initial find on things… I have nothing against PropStream, I use them. This is just kind of how I kind of started, and I’ve just kind of got stuck in my ways. And so this is not the only way. This is not the only way. Tony:Yeah. Ashley:Okay, so now you’ve got your list. So you gave us the example of Driving For Dollars, and actually looking at the properties. But then you mentioned sometimes you do use PropStream to actually pull lists without doing the Driving For Dollars. So when you go into PropStream, they have the filters. So what are some of the filters that you are using to kind of find the properties for you? Nate:Okay, so I think if I were to break this down in my mind, and maybe for your listeners, I would say that if you have a little bit of money to invest in pulling a list and hiring a professional company, then I might use PropStream. And then there’s two thoughts within this. One, you can do just try and get the cream of the crop off the top of a market. And then you can really dive in deep and then try and stack your lists. And so what that means is if you find multiple pain points on a property, that’s going to give you a better chance of maybe having a conversation, maybe having them want to sell. So what do I mean by that? I mean that if you have a house that’s vacant, that’s out of state owned, they have a code violation and they’re tax delinquent, right? Let’s imagine those are all the problems. And you can filter for that on PropStream.Basically that seems like a great motivation for somebody that doesn’t live there, it’s vacant, it’s got problems, it’s got taxes backing up. That seems like it’d be a great motivation, so you can spend the money to then pull these lists, stack them together, and then you can call them. But that’s going to cost you a little bit of money. Or if you want to do, I’m doing some general marketing, trying to see if I can pull some easy stuff off the top of a market. So I’m actually just starting this down in Arizona, is I just pulled a tired landlord list, right? So right now just with everything, I just pulled a list and that’s an actual subtitle on PropStream. And so you can just go down from the suggested list.Yeah, it’s just tired landlords, and so I pulled the area that I wanted to be in. And I just pulled that list, it was about 5,000. And so then I sent it over to my skip tracing company, which I just got a new one. And then I sent it over to my marketing people and we’re now marketing to that, so we’ll see what happens. Did that make sense, kind of the two thoughts there? You can go just general kind of broad spectrum over a market, or you can go real deep on a market and by stacking lists and stacking pain points. Tony:And I also just want to shout out, right? So as an alternative to PropStream with some of the data that Nate’s called out here. BiggerPockets also has a partnership with Invelo, that’s I-N-V-E-L-O. And Invelo also allows you to pull a lot of that kind of owner data that you’ll get from some of these other sources. Ashley:As a pro member, you get a $50 credit. So if you are already a pro member, go and spend that $50. And if you’re not a pro member, you can sign up at biggerpockets.com/pro Nate:Sweet. Ashley:So Nate, okay, you have your list created, you went and you either were Driving For Dollars and got some addresses, or you were going on your software and looking up properties. So now that you have your list together of addresses and now you’ve used your tools like Whitepages, things like that to find the phone numbers of the people who may own this property. When you make the call, what do you say? Nate:Ooh. Now, again, I’m going to preface this with saying, I’m very comfortable doing this. When I was a kid, just to give you a backstory, it’s funny how things kind of come full circle. I mowed lawns to make a living, and to make money my junior high and high school days. And so I would literally door knock people and go do this. I’m like, “Here, I’m door knocking again, it’s like I can’t get away from it.”So this is something that I’m very comfortable doing. And something that I think everybody can do, but I think it’s a matter of managing your expectations, and I think that’s where a lot of people get gummed up. So I’ll tell you what I say and what I do, and then maybe we could dive a little bit deeper on this because as soon as I say cold calling, most people just shut down, or door knocking, shut down. “Oh, I’m never going to do that, I can’t do that.” I promise you, you can. And with your skillset, with your skill level, with your own unique personality, you absolutely can do this. Ashley:Real quick, part of the reason we are doing this episode today is because Nate flew out to Buffalo to visit me. And we’re driving from getting chai tea, and he sees the house with papers in the window like it might be vacant, whatever. Nate:Signs. Ashley:Pulls it up, finds a relative of the person that died in that house, and they’re five minutes from my house. And he is like, “I’m going to drive over there and knock on their door, see if they want to sell it.” I was like, “Okay, you and Daryl go, I going to just stay here. I don’t want to go do that, that makes me scared and nervous.” So part of this episode that we’re having is for me to become better at cold calling, cold knocking- Nate:Yeah, cool. Ashley:… door knocking. Nate:Next time I come out you’ll come with, you’ll be fine. Ashley:I’ll have to do it, yeah. He’ll wait in the car and make me go. Nate:And she was the nicest lady. So I think honestly, and we could talk about some resources and books that’ll help people with this, but I keep it very, very simple. So when I’m cold calling and we could role play. Who wants to role play? Ashley:Go ahead, Tony. Tony:Yeah, I’ll be the landlord here. Nate:Okay, cool. So let me just preface this and say that the only objective that I have for this very first call is going to be, “Are you open to an offer?” That’s the only thing I need to figure out. One of the pitfalls that I see with people is that sometimes they’ll see a vacant house and they’ll begin to fantasize about how amazing this house is, all the money that I’m going to make when they… And then they find out that they’re not even wanting to sell, that you can’t find a good working number. And so you begin to get way down the road. All you need to do for this very first conversation is just figure out, “Are you open to an offer?” All right. So this is how the conversation would go, and then we can kind of break it down. So ring, ring. Tony:Hello. Nate:Hi, is Tony there? Tony:Yeah, who is this? Nate:Tony, hey, yeah, my name is Nate Robbins, I’m really sorry to call you out of the blue like this. The reason for the call is I’m in the process of trying to buy a house here in Tacoma, and I noticed your house over on Main Street. It is probably a long shot, but- Tony:Look, I get calls like this all day. How did you get my phone number? Nate:You know what, Tony? I totally get that. I’m sorry, it is kind of a random call like this. So basically I drove by your house over on Main Street, homeowner information is public record. I use a program called Whitepages, it was actually a book when I was a kid. And I just looked up your own information and thought I’d give you a call. [inaudible 00:36:15] old school like that, I’d rather talk to you face-to-face, versus just sending you a letter. And so I don’t know, I’m just curious if there’s any chance you might be open to considering an offer on the house. Tony:Well, I get calls like this all day, Nate, so what’s your number? Nate:You know what? That’s a great question. Well, Tony, I’ve only ever driven past the house one time and I’m assuming you’re probably like me. I’ve been on the receiving end of low ball offers, and low ball offers are very offensive to me, and I don’t want to do that to you. And so I don’t actually have enough information to really make you a fair offer. So it sounds like you might be open to actually looking at an offer if it was a fair price. Tony:Yeah, I think I’d be open to that. Nate:Okay. Yeah, great. Well, how I make sure… I’d like to ask you a couple of quick questions right now if I can have 30 seconds. And then what I’d really like to do is then find a time to actually walk the property. I’d love to actually meet you in person, so you know I’m a real person. But would it be possible to walk it maybe this Friday? Are you going to be around? Tony:Yeah. All right, that’s pretty good, Nate. I feel like I threw some curveballs at you, man, and you handled those pretty well. Nate:Yeah, [inaudible 00:37:24] I’ve done this before. Tony:Because I’ve done a very, very few cold calls before trying to source my own deals. And it’s always like, “Who are you? How’d you get my number? I don’t want a low ball offer, the property’s perfect.” But you’ve kind of got a way to handle all of those objections it sounds like. Nate:So I don’t know if there’s a best way to do this, I have a couple of things I could give your audience. Number one, I can give you my script, which is I’m happy to do. And then I also have a worksheet that has… really, there’s six objections you are going to encounter if you cold call or door knock. And one of those is, how’d you get my number? What’s your offer? There’s some basic ones you’re going to come in contact quite a bit. Ashley:Okay. Yeah, Nate, we can put those into the show notes, it’ll be at biggerpockets.com/blog/rookie-326. Or you can also send Nate a DM on Instagram, and I’m sure you give him your phone number and your address, so he can cold call you, he would definitely give you a script. Nate:Yeah. Well, before we go too far on this, I would say you might get a seller that’s like Tony. They’ll just immediately, “What are you doing?” Or you are going to get people that are getting a lot of calls or getting a lot of mail, you will do that. Most people, however, if you are normal on the phone, are very normal. And so there’s a couple key things. Number one, again, managing your expectations like, “I’m only there to see if you’re open to an offer, if not, no big deal.” And this goes back to our original point of saying, why do you have 5,000 houses on your list? Or even if you have 500, right? It doesn’t matter if you tell me, no. It doesn’t matter because I have 499 other people I got to call. So you have that kind of thing, but when you call though, you have seven seconds to get to this line. And Ashley’s heard me talk about this before and she’s posted about it, is the reason for the call, right? You have to get to that, because you’re calling these people out of the blue.And once you get to that line, it kind of allows you to get past their wall, right? It gets you kind of behind their immediate rejection. “Hi Mr. Seller, my name’s Nate, sorry to call you out of the blue. The reason for the call is I’m trying to buy a house, I’m trying to buy a rental.” Whatever your motivation or your goal is for your investing. And then, “I’m just curious if you’re open to an offer.” Again, yes or no. And then you might have to handle a couple of objections, which is totally fine. And I play off the, “Well, how’d you get my information?” I play it off like it’s no big deal. It’s no big deal, this is not a big deal.“Oh, I looked it up, homeowner information’s public record.” “Cool, cool.” And then I always make a joke about Whitepages used to be a book. I’m like, “Oh, back when I was a kid, it was a book. Now it’s online, I just looked you up.” And then I just give that reason, then I don’t know if you noticed what I did is I immediately went on to say, “Do you think you might be open to considering an offer?” It’s almost like you just went past it, I didn’t even care. You do care, but you’re just kind of scooting past it, right? If that makes sense. Tony:Mm-hmm. Nate:And then he might bring up another objection. “Well, let’s just talk about it.” And then, “Okay, so it sounds like you might be open to an offer.” So you’re just kind of pushing the conversation forward. And then basically if they say, “Yes, yeah, I’d be open to an offer.” “Hey Mr. Seller, my process is because I don’t want to offend you with a low ball offer. I don’t want to offend you.” Most people don’t want to be offended. “Let me walk the house so I can make sure I make a fair offer.” And then that allows you to then kind of go to the next step of actually creating a good offer. And then if you’re going to wholesale it, if you’re going to buy it yourself, it allows you to put accurate numbers together to make the deal happen. So if they say yes, then I’m shooting for the appointment, I want to see the house. Ashley:So are you trying to set the appointment right then and there on that phone call too? Nate:Absolutely, no and yes. Ashley:Okay. Nate:Yeah, if they said no, I might toy with them a little bit, but if they say yes, I’m going to say, “Hey, cool, great.” I’m going to ask them a couple of questions about the house to sound like I’m intelligent, like I know what I’m doing. Ashley:Well, can you give us a couple of those questions? Nate:I’ll give [inaudible 00:41:41]. Yeah, no, no, no, no. I’m gatekeeping that one. No, but it’s, “Hey, have you made any repairs on the property in the last five years?” “Great, okay.” “How much do you owe on the property?” “Cool.” If they say free and clear, that allows me to think of some, “Oh, maybe there’s a creative option.” “If the right offer came across the table, what would be your ideal timeline? Do you want to sell it?” Because some people are like, “I need to [inaudible 00:42:08] this in two weeks.” Some people are like, “Oh, I have six months.” “Okay, cool.” That allows you to kind of gauge what’s important to them. And I always throw this one in. Now, some people are not going to be very comfortable doing this, but I always try and do it. I’m going to say, “Hey, do you have an ideal price range? It sounds like you’ve had…”So if Tony, we got past all the objections, and we’re having a conversation, I would say, “So Tony, it sounds like you’ve been approached quite a bit. Do you have an ideal price in mind for what you’d like to get for the property?” And I kind of throw it out super casual, just to see if I can get a number from them. Or if they’re like, “Oh no, I haven’t really thought about it.” And I was like, “okay, cool, but have you thought of maybe a range of where you need to be?” And I try and get a range, because if they’re like, “Oh, well, I need $500 million.” Well, I’m like, “Is that for real?” Because I can always make a joke about it, like, “Hey, listen, I totally would give that to you, but my money people, they don’t let me make that decision, I have to back up my offer.”But if they’re adamant, like, “Give me $5 million or I’m never selling.” And the most that these houses are selling for are half a million dollars. Okay, “Hey, Mr. Seller, we’re probably not on the same page. I’d love to put a real offer together if you’re serious, but if you’re really stuck at $5 million, I’m not going to be the guy for you.” And sometimes you can break past that by just saying that, but sometimes it’s that’s their number, they’re so sick of people reaching out. “Okay, thank you for your time, have a good day.” And I move on. Tony:Nate, so once you kind of go through the conversation and say you find… I guess first let me just ask one clarifying question. How many conversations do you typically need to have to book one appointment? Do you have a ballpark that people- Nate:Yes, great question. And this is again, kind of even setting expectations in your mind. I’m not going to speak for anybody else, I’ll speak for myself. There’s been times where I’ve found a house, and I fall in love with this house. It’s so nasty, it’s so vacant, it’s so… hell, my heart- Ashley:Smelly. Nate:Smelly, you can smell it from the street. And you start thinking about how amazing this deal’s going to be. And then nothing comes of it, right? You can’t find the seller, or they’re not going to sell, whatever reason. In your mind, this is the statistic, based on your skill level, it could be better or worse. But what you need to have in your mind is for every 100 contacts you make, actual conversations, it could be a [inaudible 00:44:36], it could be via email, whatever. For every 100 contacts, you should get one deal. So it kind of translates a hundred contacts, maybe you get 10 appointments, one deal, something like that. That’s not an exact science, but that will help you kind of break down the daily activity that you should have to do to try and get a deal.So again, if you were sitting in front of me and we were having a conversation, I would say, “You have a list of 200, okay? You’re going to call these people, you’re going to make 100 contacts, 10 appointments, one deal.” That means to break it down super simple, you have to make five contacts every single day, Monday through Friday. You don’t even have to work the weekends, right? Five contacts, Monday through Friday, that should equate to one deal. Now that’s going to depend some on your skill level and different things like that. But I would expect that you would have one deal in the pipeline, one deal under contract, one deal ready to go. Now, if you want two deals a month, well, maybe you need to make 200 contacts in a month. So on and so forth, right? Tony:Nate, how are you keeping track of this communication with these sellers? Are you using a CRM? Or are you just kind of keeping track of it in a Google spreadsheet? Or just are you [inaudible 00:45:51] and just it’s all in your mind? How are you keeping track of it there? Nate:No, if you know me at all, it’s not safe in here, I’ll forget. Let’s just say there’s been a number of times where I’ve written down something on a paper, and then I found that paper months later and I was like, “Oh, I forgot to put that in Podio, and then I missed that deal.” So for me to manage my deal flow, I’m using Podio for my CRM, so… Ashley:What are some other ones that people can use too? Nate:Okay, look, if you’re super cheap, just use Google Sheets, something, write it down. What do they say? A short pencil is better than a long memory. So the idea is to write it down and track it. And then the other thing that I have to do for me is because I am a visual person. And so what I’ll do is as soon as I’m done with a seller call, if I have an appointment or a follow-up, I put it in my calendar in my phone so that it comes up like, hey, make sure to follow up with Mr. Smith. Follow up with Tony, he can meet on Friday at 3 o’clock. And so I immediately put that in my calendar, then I’ll put my notes in Podio. And then also track it through there, but yeah, I know there’s a bunch of different ones out there, but Podio is just the one I kind of fell into early on and I’m stuck with it, so… Ashley:Okay, cool. And kind of to wrap all of this up, when you do go to the showing, what are some of the most important pieces of information you want at the showing? Nate:Yeah, so whether you’re going to wholesale the property or whether you’re going to do it for yourself. And this is something that Tarl… one of the major lessons that I learned. And so even if you’re flipping houses and you’re listening to this, when I show up to the property, my several objectives, one of them being is that I will take 80 to 120 photos of the property. So I will do wide angle photos, I’ll start from the street, and I’ll walk all the way around the property. Then I’ll start at the front door, walk left to right throughout the house. And I’m getting detailed photos of the entire thing. And then I’m taking pictures of the quality of the roof, the water heater, the electrical panel. If I can sneak in the foundation, I’ll take pictures under there. I’m not crawling under there, but I’ll at least take pictures underneath.I’m paying attention to noting if there’s slants on certain parts of the house. I’ll get under the sinks and take pictures of the plumbing, any of these big ticket items. And so this allows you to do two things. One of the biggest frustrations, because I worked with a lot of wholesalers. One of the biggest frustrations I had as someone trying to buy properties from wholesalers is they would send me three pictures of the house and an address. I’m like, “Hey, do you want this house?” “I don’t know, maybe.” But if you were to, I’ll tell you this right now, you’ll be the rockstar wholesaler in your market if you send a hundred photos. Ashley:Not even for wholesaling though, Nate, even just for your own information to put together an accurate offer, to put together your scope of work. And estimate what your rehab is going to be. Nate:Yes. Ashley:[inaudible 00:49:11] you can go back and you look at the pictures, you can look at the video instead of having to remember like, “Wait, how many windows were on the house now? I think there was two in the front, two in the back.” I’m like, “Okay, well, I’m going to need 10 windows. Here’s what my cost will be.” Nate:Exactly, exactly. So two points, so I’ll say, so a typical wholesale package for me is a hundred photos. I’ll sketch a very basic floor plan, I’ll put in some comps and I’ll put in the stats of the property and I’ll send it out. I’m like, “Hey, here’s what I’m thinking. Here’s the major list of things you’re going to have to do.” I don’t necessarily price that out, I have an idea of how much that’ll cost, but everybody’s prices are different. And so I send a package together. And so if you do that for wholesaling a property, man, you’re going to be light years ahead, you’ll get you faster answers as well.And then to your point, Ashley, is a lot of times I’d be walking these properties for us to buy them. And so it allowed us to do a better scope of work. Or if you’re new and you’re like, “Hey, I don’t even know what this is going to cost.” If you have 150 or 80 to 120 really good photos, you could go to a contractor and say, “Hey, I’ll give you a hundred bucks. Can you sit down with me and tell me how much this is going to cost to do all this stuff?” And it’s going to allow you then to kind of put your scope of work together. It’s very easy, especially if you’re doing a lot of appointments and you’re getting houses mixed up. “Was the electrical panel good on that one?” Or, “Where is…” Oh, man, it’s really easy to get mixed up. So taking that and that allows you then to be more effective if you’re going to buy it as well.Because the last thing you want to do is, “Oh, hey Mr. Seller, can I meet you at the property again?” And sometimes they’re cool with it, sometimes not, but that allows you to do that a little bit more effectively. Tony:Well, Nate, such a wealth of information brother, and I always love when we can deep dive a topic like this because not only is it instructional for the rookie audience, but I feel like Ashley and I always learn a lot when we kind of go through these deep dives as well, man. So I appreciate you pouring into the rookie audience. Before we let you go, got to pick your brain just a tad bit more, and I want to take us to the rookie request line. So for all of our rookies that are listening, if you want to get your question featured on the podcast, head over to biggerpockets.com/reply and we just might use your question for the episode. So Nate, are you ready for today’s rookie reply? Nate:I’m so ready. Tony:All right, so today’s question comes from Steven Cobb. Steven says, “Hey, I’m in the Dallas, Texas area. I’ve been out Driving For Dollars, and I have a list of about 30 or 40 houses. I’ve already looked up owners and numbers on the county website. Question, when I call the owners, how will I know how much I should offer them? I don’t even know the bedroom square footage of the property or what needs to be repaired. How can I run comps to come up with an ARV so that I know what number to offer even though I don’t have all of this info?” So Nate, what would your advice be to Steven? Nate:Steven, great question. Two things. One, Drive For Dollars more, get a bigger list. Two, to answer your question, this is why I always set the appointment. So there’s some things you can do, you can look up the basic square footage, bed, bath count, garage, lot size of a property. And then you can run comps generally on that, you can get a general idea of a range of maybe what that property’s worth. But you’re not going to be effective, I would say, as effective without going and walking the property. So it sounds like you have the hesitation of like, “Well, what do I offer?” Well, do you have enough information? And so that’s why when I call, if they’re open to an offer, I want to then set the appointment. So then I can go and walk the property, take my a 100 photos or so, and then go back and run a proper analysis.You can do a rough range based on the stats, but I would say set the appointment, walk the property, dial back your expectations. Be like, “Hey, Mr. Seller, I don’t have enough information to make you a fair offer, right? So how I avoid making a low ball offer and offending you is I want to walk the property. Let me walk it, let’s do that, meet you, say hi, and then give me 24 to 48 hours and I’ll get you an offer then.” Ashley:Nate, thank you so much for all of your information today and taking the time to come on the episode. I know you’re sick of me and Tony all the time, so I greatly appreciate you taking the time to do this. Nate:No, I’m coming to the BiggerPockets Conference just to hang out with you guys. Ashley:Well, Tony won’t be there, but- Nate:Tony. Ashley:He’s having his baby. Tony:I’m MIA this year. Ashley:Yeah, he’s having his baby. Tony:Yeah, the baby’s due I think the week before BP Con, so we will be phoning it in this year, and then we’ll have Baby Robinson at a BP Con 2024. Nate:Yes, let’s go. Let’s go. Ashley:So Nate, you’ll just have to fill in as Tony for the conference. Nate:Done, I will wear my- Ashley:Practice his signature, so you can sign some books. Tony:Yeah. Nate:I’m going to wear my- Ashley:Black shirts. Nate:… my black shirts and my black shorts, we’ll be good. Ashley:Well, Nate, where can everyone find out some more information about you and reach out to you? Nate:Yeah, probably Instagram is probably the thing that I’m trying to do the most. So it’s N, the number 8, Robbins, R-O-B-B-I-N-S. And then, like I said, I’ll send you the scripting and stuff. But if people want the script or if they want the objections, I need to see if I can scan that and upload that. If they want to send me a DM, I’m be happy to send that over to them as well. Ashley:Okay, awesome. Well, thank you so much Nate, and we will put those documents in the show notes, go on to biggerpockets.com/blog/rookie-326. Or you could just DM Nate on Instagram @n8robbins. Nate:Could you say that one more time please? Tony:Where do we need to go Ashley? [inaudible 00:55:04]. Ashley:Everyone knows the dash is I meant horizontal [inaudible 00:55:06] dash, hyphen. Well, Nate, thank you so much for joining us today, I’m Ashley @wealthfromrentals, and he’s Tony at @tonyjrobinson. And we’ll be back on Wednesday with another guest. Watch the Episode Here ??????????????????????????????????????? Help Us Out! Help us reach new listeners on iTunes by leaving us a rating and review! It takes just 30 seconds and instructions can be found here. Thanks! We really appreciate it! In This Episode We Cover: Finding the BEST off-market deals through the power of driving for dollars How to invest in real estate with little to no disposable income Choosing the “risk” of real estate over the “safety” of a nine-to-five job How to shed your W2 mentality when transitioning to a career in real estate The perfect cold-calling script to use when contacting an off-market seller Important steps to take when walking a distressed property And So Much More! Links from the Show Book Mentioned in the Show Connect with Nate: Interested in learning more about today’s sponsors or becoming a BiggerPockets partner yourself? Email [email protected]. Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.

This story was originally published at BiggerPockets.com

Finding off-market real estate deals can be a great way to kick off your investing career, as it requires very little money to get started. The catch? You must be willing to get your hands dirty.

Welcome back to the Real Estate Rookie podcast! Today, we’re chatting with real estate wholesaler Nate Robbins. After a long and successful career in banking, Nate was beginning to feel burnt out and frustrated with life. As fate would have it, he ran into Tarl Yarber—one of the most successful real estate investors in the Pacific Northwest. Under Tarl’s mentorship, Nate learned the ropes of real estate investing. With his strong people skills, natural ability to communicate, and infectious personality, he was able to carve out a niche in acquisitions—where he has been able to close off-market deals at a massive profit.

If you need real estate to be your escape rope from the monotony of your nine-to-five, this episode is for you! Nate talks about shedding the W2 mentality and how to find the best investing strategy for you. He also shares his step-by-step process for finding highly profitable off-market deals. Whether you’re a bubbly extrovert or a cautious introvert, Nate will equip you with practical tips on how to engage a seller and get your foot in the door!

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Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

Ashley:
This is Real Estate Rookie Episode 326.

Nate:
As soon as I say cold calling, most people just kind of shut down. “I’m never going to do that, I can’t do that.” I promise you, you can. With your skill level, with your own unique personality, you absolutely can do this. But I think it’s a matter of managing your expectations, and I think that’s where a lot of people get gummed up. So I’ll tell you what I say and what I do, and then maybe we could dive a little bit deeper on this.

Ashley:
My name is Ashley Kehr, and I’m here with my co-host Tony J Robinson.

Tony:
And welcome to the Real Estate Rookie Podcast, where every week, twice a week, we bring you the inspiration, motivation, and stories you need to hear to kickstart your investing journey. And rookies, do we have an episode for you guys today? If you have ever thought to yourself, “Where can I find really good deals? How can I do that with the least amount of money possible?” Nate Robbins, our guest for today, is going to answer that question for you. Now, Nate’s a friend of both Ashley and I, he’s one of the biggest characters I think I know in the world of real estate investing. He’s always got a smile on his face, always making people laugh. But don’t let his kind of boyish charm fool you, Nate is an absolute beast when it comes to finding good off market deals.

Ashley:
You know what? That’s so funny because that exactly describes [inaudible 00:01:14] his boyish charm. And yeah, so we bring Nate on today and we talk about how he actually got started in real estate, gives you a little background of that. And it was a very unique situation, and how he took advantage of this opportunity presented to him.
Then we’re going to go into how to source a deal, how to find a deal. And Nate will walk you through the two different paths as to how he finds addresses or gets the houses that he wants to go after. And we break down exactly what you should say on the phone, exactly what you should do when you’re at a seller appointment, step-by-step instructions. As you’re listening to this, I want you to write down notes of what Nate is going to say. And kind of develop your own plan to follow this along, and just try it out.
Pick up the phone, make a phone call, go door knocking, but Nate does a really great job of describing in detail a step-by-step list for you to go and do exactly what he’s doing.
Nate Robbins, welcome to the Real Estate Rookie Podcast.

Nate:
It’s the honor of my life, I love you guys. And your audience doesn’t know how lucky they are to have you in their lives.

Ashley:
Well, thank you, that was a very nice compliment. But today we are here to shower you with love and admiration on your real estate investing journey. So Nate, why don’t you start off telling everyone a little bit about yourself, and then how you got started in real estate.

Nate:
Yeah, so back in 2016, I was working for a bank. I’d been working at a bank for about five years, I was a private client banker. And I’ll be honest, I really should not be where I am today. There’s just no logical reason way that I am where I am today. And so I was working at the bank back in 2016, and I was actually hitting kind of a midlife crisis. I was very frustrated with my work, frustrated with life. And I got off a very frustrating phone call with a client and I hung up, and I just see this random guy standing in the lobby. And not wanting to make any more phone calls, I just get up out of my desk. I wasn’t necessarily supposed to pull the clients from the lobby. Walked over to this guy and I said, “Hey man, how can I help you?” And he goes, “Well, I need to open a business account.” And I was like, “No problem, I can help with that.”
And so I brought him over to my desk, [inaudible 00:03:47] chatting with this guy and I’m like, “Dude, you’re a really cool guy. What do you do?” And he goes, “Well, I’m in real estate.” I was like, “Oh, that’s cool, I’ve always been interested in real estate.” And I bought Carleton Sheets when I was 18, trying to… Your audience wouldn’t even know who Carleton Sheets is.

Ashley:
I don’t know who that is.

Tony:
You don’t know Carleton Sheets, Ashley?

Ashley:
No, no.

Tony:
So I don’t know, I was a really weird kid, I would stay up late during the summer months. And late at night when you don’t have really good cable packages, all you see is infomercials.

Ashley:
Mm-hmm.

Tony:
And every single night Carleton Sheets had an infomercial running for this at-home kind of package that taught you how to buy real estate with no money down.

Nate:
Yeah.

Tony:
Anyway, he was one of the big real estate info marketers back in the day.

Nate:
He’s the original guru kind of thing, he sold the program and then he’d get you in your loop and he’d sell you more programs and stuff. And so yeah, it’s kind of funny. Hey, actually Tony, if you want, I’ll send you the tapes, you could listen to him again if you want.

Tony:
My dad actually had a copy, I was in his garage a decade ago and found [inaudible 00:04:51] and Sheets’ tapes also.

Nate:
It actually has some pretty good stuff in it. It’s pretty basic, but it’s really good stuff. And I’m like, “Oh, okay, cool.” Yeah, it’s nice, but-

Ashley:
Okay Nate, you don’t need to give us your affiliate link now, back to you.

Nate:
So I’ve actually signed up, but-

Ashley:
Sign up under me.

Nate:
Yeah. I can promote my Amway business also? So anyway, that one conversation with that business account ended up being a conversation with who you guys know, Tarl Yarber. I don’t know if your audience would know who he is, but was one of the most successful real estate flippers up here in the Seattle Pacific Northwest market. And so he’s like, “Well, hey, let’s grab coffee and a lunch.” And so that turned into about a two or three month conversation. And then after about three months, he said, “Hey, I’m willing to offer you a 90-day contract to come work with me.” And so I had to make the choice of, do I stay at a safe job at the bank? Or do I take a chance on a 90-day contract to go and maybe succeed or fail at real estate? And so thankfully, the fear of not knowing what would happen was greater than the fear of being safe or the need for security. And so I took the chance and it’s been an absolute wild, wild ride ever since.

Ashley:
In that moment when you were looking at, okay, 90 days, what happens after 90 days? Are you the type of person that’s like, “Worst case scenario, this is what I can do.” Did you think you could go back to your other job? Maybe if somebody listening is given that same opportunity, what’s your advice on ways that they can take that chance and kind of shift their mindset to leaping into something that may only be 90 days and not continue on?

Nate:
Yeah. Well, I got to the point, and again, I was kind of in a existential crisis a little bit in my life. And so I got to a place… Because it was a big deal, I was on a fairly successful track with my job, I had a plan, a 10-year plan. And I got to the point of saying, or I had this image of saying, “Well, I’m on my deathbed.” It was kind of future casting. I’m on my deathbed, I’m always going to wonder what if? And the fear of… I had to see, I had to know what if? What if it did succeed? What if I did make it? What if this was my chance? And I had to know even if I failed. And so I kind of hedged my bets where I left gracefully, I left kind of on an extended timeline to help my manager out. So I knew that I could always come back if I failed, but I had to know.
And so I think sometimes it’s easy to play it safe, but on your deathbed when you’re dying and you’re about to take your last breath, are you going to be glad you took the chance? Or are you going to be glad you played it safe? And I think most people… And I’m sure you guys see a lot of these same motivational things. Most people on their deathbed when they interview these people on their last moments, it’s not taking the chance, it’s not taking the risk and taking the opportunity. And so for me, I had to see what happened down this path. And yeah, I would encourage other people too, it’s man, take the chance, see what happens.

Tony:
Nate, I just want to ask, you’re talking about taking this chance, but you worked in a bank, but were you in the mortgage department? Did you have any type of real estate experience prior taking this big bet on yourself I guess?

Nate:
No, none.

Ashley:
So why would Tarl want you? What were the things that you thought… What did he see? Besides how handsome you are, what are some other qualities that he looked for?

Nate:
Have you seen this hair?

Tony:
I was just about to say, man, and how perfectly quaffed that [inaudible 00:08:56].

Nate:
It’s almost as good as yours, Tony. It’s almost as good. Yeah, well, I think obviously, I have a real hard time talking to people. I don’t have any kind of personality and I stutter a lot. So those were some of the hindrances I had, but I think I owe a lot to Tarl for where I am at today. And I think what he saw… And he’s very good at this as well, when he sees potential in somebody, he’s really open to taking a chance on that person. And so I think it was probably pretty obvious that I was miserable, and I think from our conversations together he saw somebody that was really miserable, had a lot more potential and was stuck in a place that wasn’t that great for him.
And so Tarl saw that in me, and I think just doing what I do because my strong suit really is building relationships with people, it’s communicating, it’s getting to know somebody, it’s building rapport. And so my job within the bank was as a private client banker, so I was dealing with high net worth clients. I had no real estate background, I really didn’t have anything as far as real estate was concerned to bring to the table. But my personality, my ability to communicate and talk to people, that really I think is what kind of opened the door for me to work with Tarl.

Tony:
Nate, just I want to go back really quickly to something that you mentioned about the whole laying on your deathbed thing. And I think there’s a lot of value and you used a phrase future casting in that way. And there’s a book I’m reading right now, it’s called The Good Life, and it’s by two doctors, Robert Waldinger and Marc Schulz. But basically it was this longitudinal study where they followed hundreds of people over multiple decades. From the time they were 18 until they were in their 80s, and they passed away. And they even followed on with their kids and their grandchildren. So just crazy amount of data and it just goes into hey, what are the key factors of actually living a good life based on this really long comprehensive study? And a lot of it was kind of tied into what you said about taking some of those risks. And kind of surrounding yourself with people that you really get energy from. As opposed to being in an environment where you’ve got a bunch of energy vampires that are kind of pulling life out of you.
So I just wanted to plug that book, I’m 30% through it, I’ve already really enjoyed it. But The Good Life by Robert Waldinger and Marc Schulz, if you guys are looking for a good read on that.

Nate:
Yeah, I think you bring up a very interesting point that I’m still learning. And I think at least in my life, there’s a tipping point where I’ll be in a situation or I’ll be in a job, well, not a job anymore, but I’ll be in a situation where it no longer feels life-giving, it’s an energy drain on me. And I think it’s very challenging to want to pursue safety and security over having the integrity to say, “Hey, this is no longer really helping me, it’s killing me.” And trying to make active changes. Because the reality is we’re not trees, we can move, we can make changes, and we can make those things, right? So when you realize that those things are starting to happen to you, maybe it’s a relationship, maybe it’s a job, maybe it’s something, you have the ability to make changes to improve that situation and find that vein of, “Hey, this is giving me life, this is now exciting, this is good for me, this is getting me to where I need to go.”
So just being aware of that, and I’m still learning that as well, but okay, now I need a change, let’s start working that.

Tony:
One more plug, because I said the word book. And anytime we say the word book on this podcast, Ashley and I now have to plug the Real Estate Partnerships book with Ashley and I co-authored. If you head over to biggerpockets.com/partnerships, you guys can pick up a copy of that book. But now anytime the word book or partnership is mentioned on this podcast, we have to plug the Real Estate Partnerships book.

Nate:
Okay, well, we’re going to plug that a couple more times then.

Ashley:
Pretty soon anytime the word real estate is said, I’m plugging it. So tell me, Nate, what kind of investing do you like to do?

Nate:
Well, actually after that whole thing with Tarl, I don’t actually do real estate anymore.

Ashley:
Oh, real estate, so we have this [inaudible 00:13:14]. Let’s talk about when you made that transition. You’re leaving your bank job and you’re going to work for Tarl, what were some of the things that you were doing for this job? What was the actual position?

Nate:
So this is a little bit funny, and I’ll do the [inaudible 00:13:31]. Tarl, when he hired me he was looking to replicate himself. He wanted to kind of get a step away from the business, run the business and just replicate himself. And we could probably talk about this as well, but I left the bank with a very much of W2 mentality. And Tarl was looking for somebody with more of a independent, I’m going to go figure this out and get it done. So the first two weeks I’m just sitting in the car with him like, “All right man, tell me what to do. I have no idea anything about anything, just tell me what to do.” And after about a month of that, he was starting to get pretty frustrated. And so if you talk to him ever, you’ll find out I was on my way to getting fired actually. And then we went to a Jocko Conference down in San Diego and that reframed some of his thinking, and so anyway, I got a second chance.
But what was apparent is that my strong suit and my skillset wasn’t really around the detailed operations of managing a project. Now, I can do that, but I wasn’t the skill match for Tarl. And so what it became apparent is that I’m much more stronger suited or my skillset is really in building relationships and that type of thing. And so the role that I kind of fell into or I kind of got more focused on was acquisitions. So networking with wholesalers, going direct to seller and that kind of the wholesale aspect of the business. And so just again, kind of Tarl realizing, “Hey, you’re better suited over here, not what I originally planned. So let’s move you over here and get you kind of in a better role.” And so that was kind of how I kind of fell into this whole acquisitions, door knocking, cold calling, deal finding, all that kind of good stuff.

Ashley:
That is such a real thing, the W2 mentality. And it’s also part of who you are too as far as your DiSC profile and things like that as to how you perceive the world. But being you just want to be told how to do something and you can master it instead of having to figure it out. And then there’s other people that want to figure it out and can figure it out. But that was something I struggled with too with one of my business partners, he came from the W2 world. And everything was handed to him as to, “Here’s what you have to do.” And he would just go and do it. And then it was on to the next thing of [inaudible 00:15:57] what you had to do. And there was never really a lot of decision making or even scheduling yourself or any kind of task management because everything was just given right to you.
And I think making that transition is really hard. Honestly, I think it took him a year. Now he oversees all of the maintenance for my property management company. And it is boom, boom, boom, everything is just done, he just takes action on it. But if he was doing that a year and a half ago, I literally would’ve had to sit down with him, “Okay, here’s this work order, this is what you have to do. Now let’s schedule it for this day and this time. Now go ahead and text her, tell her you’re going to be here at this time this day.”

Nate:
Yeah.

Ashley:
But now he can just go and figure it out, but that is such a big thing. So what are some of the things that you did to kind of get out of that? Because I feel you obviously haven’t stayed stuck in that W2 mentality. I can seriously doubt Tarl is still telling you exactly what to do every day.

Nate:
Well, it’s actually funny because now I’d say about 8, 12 months ago, we’ve kind of stopped doing real estate up here in the Pacific Northwest. So we work together on other aspects of that, and so if I did have any W2 mentality a year ago, it’s definitely gone now because it’s now 100% dependent on me, right? And so I’m looking, I’m trying to think back to my mentality on this kind of stuff, and I think it’s when you really, really want it bad enough, you will figure it out. People want the easy road, they want the easy five steps to make a million dollars. And that information exists except for… What did I see? Hold on, I have to read this quote today. And I posted this, right? It was like, “Building a real estate business is simple, knowing what to do is simple. Executing on what to do is hard, being consistent is hard, delayed gratification is hard, being persistent is hard.”
And so I think it’s just one of these things that it’s not wrong to have a W2 mentality, but it can be hard to succeed. And so you have to have this mentality of, “I am going to succeed, I’m not going to quit. I want this and I’m not going to wait for somebody else to come kind of spoonfeed me. I have to go get it and I’m going to go get it.” And so I don’t know if that was clear, but that’s kind my thought process on that.

Tony:
You kind of said it yourself that no one’s going to spoonfeed you, you have to go get it, Nate. So once you and Tarl had that realization of the detailed operational management isn’t kind of speaking to your natural genius, it’s more so the relationship side. What did that onboarding experience look like? How did you figure out what you should be doing every day? Or what was the effective way to go out? And just even I guess just taking them one step back, if you can first just define kind of what your new goal was after you guys have kind of decided, “Okay, here’s the role for Nate.” What was the end result you were looking for? And then how did you go about teaching yourself how to do that?

Nate:
Yeah, so one of the advantage… Now, I have to be very clear, I had an extreme advantage working with someone like Tarl, because it gave me a lot of things. It gave me access to a lot of high level people that normally a lot of people starting out don’t get, so that was an advantage. He put me in the room with a lot of very successful guys that I could pick their brain and kind of learn from their systems and stuff like that. And so that was a huge advantage. I think with social media and things like that, people today, even if you’re starting out, you can still kind of get the help that you need, but it was really nice having that kind of thing.
Now, the thing that was a challenge was that there was no onboarding process. There was no “Hey, this is how you wholesale.” It was more like, “Hey, go talk to this person and figure it out.” And so even though I had these connections, I made a lot of stupid mistakes. Which we could talk about if you want, because I’m sure your audience would love to hear about dumb things that happened, but I know I do.

Ashley:
I would love to hear about what that process has turned into for you because that was part of a lot of value that you bring. And you’ve helped me a ton with this, is how to actually talk to people to sell their property, and what those kind of processes are. So do you want to start from the very beginning of how you’re even finding a house, how you’re then finding the seller and kind of go from there?

Nate:
Well, first off, Tony, did I answer your question? Did I get to that?

Tony:
Yeah.

Nate:
Okay.

Tony:
I think the only other thing I’d add is just the goal of what it is, right? Tarl brought you in because he had a business of flipping homes. And in order to profitably flip homes, you have to buy properties at a discount in comparison to what you’ll be able to sell them for. So if I’m hearing you correctly, Nate, the role that you were then slotted to fill was to help Tarl find those undervalued properties. Am I hearing that correctly?

Nate:
Correct. And that came through, it could be a number of different ways like networking with other wholesalers myself doing that, agents. It was just I just need to bring in, I think it was about two to three deals a month is what I needed to bring in to the business.

Ashley:
Okay, let’s start with that of how are you even finding the deals you’re bringing them in? I want to create a step-by-step process so everyone listening can go ahead and write this down, make their own little checklist and kind of do exactly what you do, because you are so great at it. So first thing, how to find houses, go ahead.

Nate:
Yeah, well, thank you for that kind word. I will say there’s two tracks, right? There’s the people… And we could go deep on this if you want because this is where I’m probably most passionate about. You have the people that don’t have a lot of disposable income, and they’re going to have to bootstrap it. And they’re just going to have to get after it until they can make some additional income. And so on that vein, so we have the, “I have to just get after it.” Because they don’t have a lot of capital invest. There’s a couple of things that I would say. Number one, is I would download the Driving For Dollars App. And if people aren’t familiar with Driving For Dollars, it’s basically where you drive around neighborhoods and you’re looking for dilapidated houses, tarps on the roof, boarded up windows, overgrown lawns, vacant houses, missing power meters, things like that.
And so if you don’t have a lot of money to invest, and there’s other apps that can do this, I just prefer… because I’m friends with Tucker Merrihew. I don’t get any kickbacks from this, although, Tucker you should sponsor me. But I would download the Driving For Dollars App, and then over a weekend I would drive around median priced houses in a neighborhood that you’re relatively familiar with or a town or a city you’re familiar with. And I would drive up and down every single street and I would create a list of at least a thousand houses over a weekend. And so if you live in a place like Portland, you could do that in a couple of hours.

Ashley:
So what are you looking for when you’re looking at these properties? What was some of your kind of criteria?

Nate:
So I kind of mentioned before, if the house is vacant, if you’ve got boards on the windows, if you’ve got tarps on the roof, if it’s overgrown and with a bunch of vacant nasty cars in the thing, any signs of distress really. With this one, sometimes you can be a little bit liberal on it, you just have no idea who’s willing to have a conversation, but any signs of distress. Pro-tip, actually drive down the alleys. I don’t know in most cities, but ours, we have kind of back alleys that drive between two streets of houses. Sometimes that gives you a different perspective where the house looks good on the front, and you go down the alley and all of a sudden there’s a, “Oh, this is absolutely really bad.” So you can mark the house down, but any signs of distress, just mark it down.
And so what the Driving For Dollars App will allow you to do is you can just drive with the map open or the app open. You can drop a pin on the house and you can just kind of track your progress on what streets you’re going up and down. And I would just continue to build that list. Ideally, you want to build that list of 5, 7, 10,000, depending on your market and depending on how hard you want to go.

Tony:
Just one clarifying question.

Nate:
Mm-hmm.

Tony:
So Nate, I want to give some context to the rookies that are listening because you just said you want to get this list to not 500, but 5 or 10,000. First, how much time do you think it would take for someone to get to a list of that size, Driving For Dollars? And just like cumulatively, how much time do they have to spend driving? And then why does the list need to be so big? Because I think some people have this misconception around the volume that you need to be able to source markets off deals. So how much time? And why that volume?

Nate:
So I would say a couple of things on that. Number one, you don’t have to have 5 to 10,000 to start. If you were a brand new person, if one of your listeners is a brand new person, sat in front of me. And they’re like, “I want to get my very first deal.” I would say, “Download this app, and then go create a list of 200. Start with 200, and tell me your top 20 worst houses that you found, that are vacant. For sure there’s nobody in there and they’re really, really bad.” And so I would start, you don’t have to have that number, but if you’re going to build a business and actually grow this to continually source off market stuff, basically you want a larger list. And the reason you want that is… And I’ve seen this a lot with a lot of newer people, is that they’ll find 100 houses, and they’ll market to that, but they won’t get any calls.
Well, your section of people, it’s too small. And you just need a larger group to actually try and generate consistent leads. And so if you have 5, 6, 10,000 houses that you’re marketing to, well, then the deals will start… you’re going to get more deals that way, essentially.

Tony:
And I think just one thing to call out is that sellers’ timelines don’t always match with when you’re marketing to them. And this is, I kid you guys not, when I first started investing in real estate back in, I think it was summer of 2019. I sent out a bunch of mailers to Shreveport, Louisiana, where I was investing at the time. I got a call last week from someone on one of those mailers and he said, “Hey, I wasn’t ready to sell when I got your mailer, but I’m ready to sell today.” That was almost four and a half, five years ago that I sent those mailers out and someone’s calling me today. So I think it just goes to show that you’ve got to start planting those seeds, and then over time they all start to kind of sprout up.

Ashley:
Tony, are we going to have another story about another house in Louisiana?

Tony:
No, I didn’t even call them back. I didn’t even call them back, I’m not going back there.

Nate:
Give me the lead, I’ll deal with it. I got you.

Ashley:
Yeah, yeah, give it to [inaudible 00:26:53]. So as far as, okay, you have your list, you have the property address, right?

Nate:
Yep.

Ashley:
Are you finding other information? What’s happening once you’ve started to build this list of addresses?

Nate:
Yeah, so what I would say, again, if you have no money and you’re bootstrapping it and you’re just starting out. What I’d say is once you get to 200, I’d start taking action. Now, the Driving For Dollars App, and I know there’s other apps that will… DealMachine I think is one other one, they’ll give you a little bit of the seller’s information. Seller data is probably one of the most challenging aspects of off-market stuff, because you’re not always getting the right stuff. Most skip tracing services are probably 70% accurate. And so I probably spend a little bit too much on this, but I have three other programs that I pay every month to have access to.
And so yeah, these would be the ones I use. And you don’t have to spend all this money on these, but if you’re going to do this longterm it might be worth it. I have Whitepages, and I think that’s 60 bucks a quarter, so 20 bucks a month, I think. REISkip, you pay per skip on that one, so you put in 50 bucks and then it’ll last you until you’re done.

Ashley:
Nate, what’s a skip?

Nate:
Oh.

Tony:
Yeah.

Ashley:
You pay per skip, what’s a skip?

Nate:
Oh, good question. So basically Whitepages… let me give you this and I’ll explain all that. So I’ve used Whitepages, REISkip and People Finder PRO, and then Driving For Dollars. And so what this does is this allows you to look up the homeowner’s information, and get a bunch of emails, phone numbers and potentially mailing addresses. And so between the Driving For Dollars App, Whitepages, REISkip and People Finder PRO, I generally can find a phone number for the seller. And so if you were again, sitting in front of me, I’d say, “Once you have a list of 200, you have your top 20 worst ones. I would not think about it too much, look up, even get a piece of paper out, write it down, your seller leads, write down all their phone numbers, and then just pick up the phone and you call.”

Tony:
So you mentioned a few pieces of software, but you didn’t mention PropStream. Which I feel is a super popular one for a lot of wholesalers that I know. Is there a reason why you’re not using that software?

Nate:
I use PropStream when I’m pulling lists and stuff like that.

Tony:
Mm-hmm.

Nate:
So I do use PropStream, there’s nothing against it, it’s just for the initial find on things… I have nothing against PropStream, I use them. This is just kind of how I kind of started, and I’ve just kind of got stuck in my ways. And so this is not the only way. This is not the only way.

Tony:
Yeah.

Ashley:
Okay, so now you’ve got your list. So you gave us the example of Driving For Dollars, and actually looking at the properties. But then you mentioned sometimes you do use PropStream to actually pull lists without doing the Driving For Dollars. So when you go into PropStream, they have the filters. So what are some of the filters that you are using to kind of find the properties for you?

Nate:
Okay, so I think if I were to break this down in my mind, and maybe for your listeners, I would say that if you have a little bit of money to invest in pulling a list and hiring a professional company, then I might use PropStream. And then there’s two thoughts within this. One, you can do just try and get the cream of the crop off the top of a market. And then you can really dive in deep and then try and stack your lists. And so what that means is if you find multiple pain points on a property, that’s going to give you a better chance of maybe having a conversation, maybe having them want to sell. So what do I mean by that? I mean that if you have a house that’s vacant, that’s out of state owned, they have a code violation and they’re tax delinquent, right? Let’s imagine those are all the problems. And you can filter for that on PropStream.
Basically that seems like a great motivation for somebody that doesn’t live there, it’s vacant, it’s got problems, it’s got taxes backing up. That seems like it’d be a great motivation, so you can spend the money to then pull these lists, stack them together, and then you can call them. But that’s going to cost you a little bit of money. Or if you want to do, I’m doing some general marketing, trying to see if I can pull some easy stuff off the top of a market. So I’m actually just starting this down in Arizona, is I just pulled a tired landlord list, right? So right now just with everything, I just pulled a list and that’s an actual subtitle on PropStream. And so you can just go down from the suggested list.
Yeah, it’s just tired landlords, and so I pulled the area that I wanted to be in. And I just pulled that list, it was about 5,000. And so then I sent it over to my skip tracing company, which I just got a new one. And then I sent it over to my marketing people and we’re now marketing to that, so we’ll see what happens. Did that make sense, kind of the two thoughts there? You can go just general kind of broad spectrum over a market, or you can go real deep on a market and by stacking lists and stacking pain points.

Tony:
And I also just want to shout out, right? So as an alternative to PropStream with some of the data that Nate’s called out here. BiggerPockets also has a partnership with Invelo, that’s I-N-V-E-L-O. And Invelo also allows you to pull a lot of that kind of owner data that you’ll get from some of these other sources.

Ashley:
As a pro member, you get a $50 credit. So if you are already a pro member, go and spend that $50. And if you’re not a pro member, you can sign up at biggerpockets.com/pro

Nate:
Sweet.

Ashley:
So Nate, okay, you have your list created, you went and you either were Driving For Dollars and got some addresses, or you were going on your software and looking up properties. So now that you have your list together of addresses and now you’ve used your tools like Whitepages, things like that to find the phone numbers of the people who may own this property. When you make the call, what do you say?

Nate:
Ooh. Now, again, I’m going to preface this with saying, I’m very comfortable doing this. When I was a kid, just to give you a backstory, it’s funny how things kind of come full circle. I mowed lawns to make a living, and to make money my junior high and high school days. And so I would literally door knock people and go do this. I’m like, “Here, I’m door knocking again, it’s like I can’t get away from it.”
So this is something that I’m very comfortable doing. And something that I think everybody can do, but I think it’s a matter of managing your expectations, and I think that’s where a lot of people get gummed up. So I’ll tell you what I say and what I do, and then maybe we could dive a little bit deeper on this because as soon as I say cold calling, most people just shut down, or door knocking, shut down. “Oh, I’m never going to do that, I can’t do that.” I promise you, you can. And with your skillset, with your skill level, with your own unique personality, you absolutely can do this.

Ashley:
Real quick, part of the reason we are doing this episode today is because Nate flew out to Buffalo to visit me. And we’re driving from getting chai tea, and he sees the house with papers in the window like it might be vacant, whatever.

Nate:
Signs.

Ashley:
Pulls it up, finds a relative of the person that died in that house, and they’re five minutes from my house. And he is like, “I’m going to drive over there and knock on their door, see if they want to sell it.” I was like, “Okay, you and Daryl go, I going to just stay here. I don’t want to go do that, that makes me scared and nervous.” So part of this episode that we’re having is for me to become better at cold calling, cold knocking-

Nate:
Yeah, cool.

Ashley:
… door knocking.

Nate:
Next time I come out you’ll come with, you’ll be fine.

Ashley:
I’ll have to do it, yeah. He’ll wait in the car and make me go.

Nate:
And she was the nicest lady. So I think honestly, and we could talk about some resources and books that’ll help people with this, but I keep it very, very simple. So when I’m cold calling and we could role play. Who wants to role play?

Ashley:
Go ahead, Tony.

Tony:
Yeah, I’ll be the landlord here.

Nate:
Okay, cool. So let me just preface this and say that the only objective that I have for this very first call is going to be, “Are you open to an offer?” That’s the only thing I need to figure out. One of the pitfalls that I see with people is that sometimes they’ll see a vacant house and they’ll begin to fantasize about how amazing this house is, all the money that I’m going to make when they… And then they find out that they’re not even wanting to sell, that you can’t find a good working number. And so you begin to get way down the road. All you need to do for this very first conversation is just figure out, “Are you open to an offer?” All right. So this is how the conversation would go, and then we can kind of break it down. So ring, ring.

Tony:
Hello.

Nate:
Hi, is Tony there?

Tony:
Yeah, who is this?

Nate:
Tony, hey, yeah, my name is Nate Robbins, I’m really sorry to call you out of the blue like this. The reason for the call is I’m in the process of trying to buy a house here in Tacoma, and I noticed your house over on Main Street. It is probably a long shot, but-

Tony:
Look, I get calls like this all day. How did you get my phone number?

Nate:
You know what, Tony? I totally get that. I’m sorry, it is kind of a random call like this. So basically I drove by your house over on Main Street, homeowner information is public record. I use a program called Whitepages, it was actually a book when I was a kid. And I just looked up your own information and thought I’d give you a call. [inaudible 00:36:15] old school like that, I’d rather talk to you face-to-face, versus just sending you a letter. And so I don’t know, I’m just curious if there’s any chance you might be open to considering an offer on the house.

Tony:
Well, I get calls like this all day, Nate, so what’s your number?

Nate:
You know what? That’s a great question. Well, Tony, I’ve only ever driven past the house one time and I’m assuming you’re probably like me. I’ve been on the receiving end of low ball offers, and low ball offers are very offensive to me, and I don’t want to do that to you. And so I don’t actually have enough information to really make you a fair offer. So it sounds like you might be open to actually looking at an offer if it was a fair price.

Tony:
Yeah, I think I’d be open to that.

Nate:
Okay. Yeah, great. Well, how I make sure… I’d like to ask you a couple of quick questions right now if I can have 30 seconds. And then what I’d really like to do is then find a time to actually walk the property. I’d love to actually meet you in person, so you know I’m a real person. But would it be possible to walk it maybe this Friday? Are you going to be around?

Tony:
Yeah. All right, that’s pretty good, Nate. I feel like I threw some curveballs at you, man, and you handled those pretty well.

Nate:
Yeah, [inaudible 00:37:24] I’ve done this before.

Tony:
Because I’ve done a very, very few cold calls before trying to source my own deals. And it’s always like, “Who are you? How’d you get my number? I don’t want a low ball offer, the property’s perfect.” But you’ve kind of got a way to handle all of those objections it sounds like.

Nate:
So I don’t know if there’s a best way to do this, I have a couple of things I could give your audience. Number one, I can give you my script, which is I’m happy to do. And then I also have a worksheet that has… really, there’s six objections you are going to encounter if you cold call or door knock. And one of those is, how’d you get my number? What’s your offer? There’s some basic ones you’re going to come in contact quite a bit.

Ashley:
Okay. Yeah, Nate, we can put those into the show notes, it’ll be at biggerpockets.com/blog/rookie-326. Or you can also send Nate a DM on Instagram, and I’m sure you give him your phone number and your address, so he can cold call you, he would definitely give you a script.

Nate:
Yeah. Well, before we go too far on this, I would say you might get a seller that’s like Tony. They’ll just immediately, “What are you doing?” Or you are going to get people that are getting a lot of calls or getting a lot of mail, you will do that. Most people, however, if you are normal on the phone, are very normal. And so there’s a couple key things. Number one, again, managing your expectations like, “I’m only there to see if you’re open to an offer, if not, no big deal.” And this goes back to our original point of saying, why do you have 5,000 houses on your list? Or even if you have 500, right? It doesn’t matter if you tell me, no. It doesn’t matter because I have 499 other people I got to call. So you have that kind of thing, but when you call though, you have seven seconds to get to this line. And Ashley’s heard me talk about this before and she’s posted about it, is the reason for the call, right? You have to get to that, because you’re calling these people out of the blue.
And once you get to that line, it kind of allows you to get past their wall, right? It gets you kind of behind their immediate rejection. “Hi Mr. Seller, my name’s Nate, sorry to call you out of the blue. The reason for the call is I’m trying to buy a house, I’m trying to buy a rental.” Whatever your motivation or your goal is for your investing. And then, “I’m just curious if you’re open to an offer.” Again, yes or no. And then you might have to handle a couple of objections, which is totally fine. And I play off the, “Well, how’d you get my information?” I play it off like it’s no big deal. It’s no big deal, this is not a big deal.
“Oh, I looked it up, homeowner information’s public record.” “Cool, cool.” And then I always make a joke about Whitepages used to be a book. I’m like, “Oh, back when I was a kid, it was a book. Now it’s online, I just looked you up.” And then I just give that reason, then I don’t know if you noticed what I did is I immediately went on to say, “Do you think you might be open to considering an offer?” It’s almost like you just went past it, I didn’t even care. You do care, but you’re just kind of scooting past it, right? If that makes sense.

Tony:
Mm-hmm.

Nate:
And then he might bring up another objection. “Well, let’s just talk about it.” And then, “Okay, so it sounds like you might be open to an offer.” So you’re just kind of pushing the conversation forward. And then basically if they say, “Yes, yeah, I’d be open to an offer.” “Hey Mr. Seller, my process is because I don’t want to offend you with a low ball offer. I don’t want to offend you.” Most people don’t want to be offended. “Let me walk the house so I can make sure I make a fair offer.” And then that allows you to then kind of go to the next step of actually creating a good offer. And then if you’re going to wholesale it, if you’re going to buy it yourself, it allows you to put accurate numbers together to make the deal happen. So if they say yes, then I’m shooting for the appointment, I want to see the house.

Ashley:
So are you trying to set the appointment right then and there on that phone call too?

Nate:
Absolutely, no and yes.

Ashley:
Okay.

Nate:
Yeah, if they said no, I might toy with them a little bit, but if they say yes, I’m going to say, “Hey, cool, great.” I’m going to ask them a couple of questions about the house to sound like I’m intelligent, like I know what I’m doing.

Ashley:
Well, can you give us a couple of those questions?

Nate:
I’ll give [inaudible 00:41:41]. Yeah, no, no, no, no. I’m gatekeeping that one. No, but it’s, “Hey, have you made any repairs on the property in the last five years?” “Great, okay.” “How much do you owe on the property?” “Cool.” If they say free and clear, that allows me to think of some, “Oh, maybe there’s a creative option.” “If the right offer came across the table, what would be your ideal timeline? Do you want to sell it?” Because some people are like, “I need to [inaudible 00:42:08] this in two weeks.” Some people are like, “Oh, I have six months.” “Okay, cool.” That allows you to kind of gauge what’s important to them. And I always throw this one in. Now, some people are not going to be very comfortable doing this, but I always try and do it. I’m going to say, “Hey, do you have an ideal price range? It sounds like you’ve had…”
So if Tony, we got past all the objections, and we’re having a conversation, I would say, “So Tony, it sounds like you’ve been approached quite a bit. Do you have an ideal price in mind for what you’d like to get for the property?” And I kind of throw it out super casual, just to see if I can get a number from them. Or if they’re like, “Oh no, I haven’t really thought about it.” And I was like, “okay, cool, but have you thought of maybe a range of where you need to be?” And I try and get a range, because if they’re like, “Oh, well, I need $500 million.” Well, I’m like, “Is that for real?” Because I can always make a joke about it, like, “Hey, listen, I totally would give that to you, but my money people, they don’t let me make that decision, I have to back up my offer.”
But if they’re adamant, like, “Give me $5 million or I’m never selling.” And the most that these houses are selling for are half a million dollars. Okay, “Hey, Mr. Seller, we’re probably not on the same page. I’d love to put a real offer together if you’re serious, but if you’re really stuck at $5 million, I’m not going to be the guy for you.” And sometimes you can break past that by just saying that, but sometimes it’s that’s their number, they’re so sick of people reaching out. “Okay, thank you for your time, have a good day.” And I move on.

Tony:
Nate, so once you kind of go through the conversation and say you find… I guess first let me just ask one clarifying question. How many conversations do you typically need to have to book one appointment? Do you have a ballpark that people-

Nate:
Yes, great question. And this is again, kind of even setting expectations in your mind. I’m not going to speak for anybody else, I’ll speak for myself. There’s been times where I’ve found a house, and I fall in love with this house. It’s so nasty, it’s so vacant, it’s so… hell, my heart-

Ashley:
Smelly.

Nate:
Smelly, you can smell it from the street. And you start thinking about how amazing this deal’s going to be. And then nothing comes of it, right? You can’t find the seller, or they’re not going to sell, whatever reason. In your mind, this is the statistic, based on your skill level, it could be better or worse. But what you need to have in your mind is for every 100 contacts you make, actual conversations, it could be a [inaudible 00:44:36], it could be via email, whatever. For every 100 contacts, you should get one deal. So it kind of translates a hundred contacts, maybe you get 10 appointments, one deal, something like that. That’s not an exact science, but that will help you kind of break down the daily activity that you should have to do to try and get a deal.
So again, if you were sitting in front of me and we were having a conversation, I would say, “You have a list of 200, okay? You’re going to call these people, you’re going to make 100 contacts, 10 appointments, one deal.” That means to break it down super simple, you have to make five contacts every single day, Monday through Friday. You don’t even have to work the weekends, right? Five contacts, Monday through Friday, that should equate to one deal. Now that’s going to depend some on your skill level and different things like that. But I would expect that you would have one deal in the pipeline, one deal under contract, one deal ready to go. Now, if you want two deals a month, well, maybe you need to make 200 contacts in a month. So on and so forth, right?

Tony:
Nate, how are you keeping track of this communication with these sellers? Are you using a CRM? Or are you just kind of keeping track of it in a Google spreadsheet? Or just are you [inaudible 00:45:51] and just it’s all in your mind? How are you keeping track of it there?

Nate:
No, if you know me at all, it’s not safe in here, I’ll forget. Let’s just say there’s been a number of times where I’ve written down something on a paper, and then I found that paper months later and I was like, “Oh, I forgot to put that in Podio, and then I missed that deal.” So for me to manage my deal flow, I’m using Podio for my CRM, so…

Ashley:
What are some other ones that people can use too?

Nate:
Okay, look, if you’re super cheap, just use Google Sheets, something, write it down. What do they say? A short pencil is better than a long memory. So the idea is to write it down and track it. And then the other thing that I have to do for me is because I am a visual person. And so what I’ll do is as soon as I’m done with a seller call, if I have an appointment or a follow-up, I put it in my calendar in my phone so that it comes up like, hey, make sure to follow up with Mr. Smith. Follow up with Tony, he can meet on Friday at 3 o’clock. And so I immediately put that in my calendar, then I’ll put my notes in Podio. And then also track it through there, but yeah, I know there’s a bunch of different ones out there, but Podio is just the one I kind of fell into early on and I’m stuck with it, so…

Ashley:
Okay, cool. And kind of to wrap all of this up, when you do go to the showing, what are some of the most important pieces of information you want at the showing?

Nate:
Yeah, so whether you’re going to wholesale the property or whether you’re going to do it for yourself. And this is something that Tarl… one of the major lessons that I learned. And so even if you’re flipping houses and you’re listening to this, when I show up to the property, my several objectives, one of them being is that I will take 80 to 120 photos of the property. So I will do wide angle photos, I’ll start from the street, and I’ll walk all the way around the property. Then I’ll start at the front door, walk left to right throughout the house. And I’m getting detailed photos of the entire thing. And then I’m taking pictures of the quality of the roof, the water heater, the electrical panel. If I can sneak in the foundation, I’ll take pictures under there. I’m not crawling under there, but I’ll at least take pictures underneath.
I’m paying attention to noting if there’s slants on certain parts of the house. I’ll get under the sinks and take pictures of the plumbing, any of these big ticket items. And so this allows you to do two things. One of the biggest frustrations, because I worked with a lot of wholesalers. One of the biggest frustrations I had as someone trying to buy properties from wholesalers is they would send me three pictures of the house and an address. I’m like, “Hey, do you want this house?” “I don’t know, maybe.” But if you were to, I’ll tell you this right now, you’ll be the rockstar wholesaler in your market if you send a hundred photos.

Ashley:
Not even for wholesaling though, Nate, even just for your own information to put together an accurate offer, to put together your scope of work. And estimate what your rehab is going to be.

Nate:
Yes.

Ashley:
[inaudible 00:49:11] you can go back and you look at the pictures, you can look at the video instead of having to remember like, “Wait, how many windows were on the house now? I think there was two in the front, two in the back.” I’m like, “Okay, well, I’m going to need 10 windows. Here’s what my cost will be.”

Nate:
Exactly, exactly. So two points, so I’ll say, so a typical wholesale package for me is a hundred photos. I’ll sketch a very basic floor plan, I’ll put in some comps and I’ll put in the stats of the property and I’ll send it out. I’m like, “Hey, here’s what I’m thinking. Here’s the major list of things you’re going to have to do.” I don’t necessarily price that out, I have an idea of how much that’ll cost, but everybody’s prices are different. And so I send a package together. And so if you do that for wholesaling a property, man, you’re going to be light years ahead, you’ll get you faster answers as well.
And then to your point, Ashley, is a lot of times I’d be walking these properties for us to buy them. And so it allowed us to do a better scope of work. Or if you’re new and you’re like, “Hey, I don’t even know what this is going to cost.” If you have 150 or 80 to 120 really good photos, you could go to a contractor and say, “Hey, I’ll give you a hundred bucks. Can you sit down with me and tell me how much this is going to cost to do all this stuff?” And it’s going to allow you then to kind of put your scope of work together. It’s very easy, especially if you’re doing a lot of appointments and you’re getting houses mixed up. “Was the electrical panel good on that one?” Or, “Where is…” Oh, man, it’s really easy to get mixed up. So taking that and that allows you then to be more effective if you’re going to buy it as well.
Because the last thing you want to do is, “Oh, hey Mr. Seller, can I meet you at the property again?” And sometimes they’re cool with it, sometimes not, but that allows you to do that a little bit more effectively.

Tony:
Well, Nate, such a wealth of information brother, and I always love when we can deep dive a topic like this because not only is it instructional for the rookie audience, but I feel like Ashley and I always learn a lot when we kind of go through these deep dives as well, man. So I appreciate you pouring into the rookie audience. Before we let you go, got to pick your brain just a tad bit more, and I want to take us to the rookie request line. So for all of our rookies that are listening, if you want to get your question featured on the podcast, head over to biggerpockets.com/reply and we just might use your question for the episode. So Nate, are you ready for today’s rookie reply?

Nate:
I’m so ready.

Tony:
All right, so today’s question comes from Steven Cobb. Steven says, “Hey, I’m in the Dallas, Texas area. I’ve been out Driving For Dollars, and I have a list of about 30 or 40 houses. I’ve already looked up owners and numbers on the county website. Question, when I call the owners, how will I know how much I should offer them? I don’t even know the bedroom square footage of the property or what needs to be repaired. How can I run comps to come up with an ARV so that I know what number to offer even though I don’t have all of this info?” So Nate, what would your advice be to Steven?

Nate:
Steven, great question. Two things. One, Drive For Dollars more, get a bigger list. Two, to answer your question, this is why I always set the appointment. So there’s some things you can do, you can look up the basic square footage, bed, bath count, garage, lot size of a property. And then you can run comps generally on that, you can get a general idea of a range of maybe what that property’s worth. But you’re not going to be effective, I would say, as effective without going and walking the property. So it sounds like you have the hesitation of like, “Well, what do I offer?” Well, do you have enough information? And so that’s why when I call, if they’re open to an offer, I want to then set the appointment. So then I can go and walk the property, take my a 100 photos or so, and then go back and run a proper analysis.
You can do a rough range based on the stats, but I would say set the appointment, walk the property, dial back your expectations. Be like, “Hey, Mr. Seller, I don’t have enough information to make you a fair offer, right? So how I avoid making a low ball offer and offending you is I want to walk the property. Let me walk it, let’s do that, meet you, say hi, and then give me 24 to 48 hours and I’ll get you an offer then.”

Ashley:
Nate, thank you so much for all of your information today and taking the time to come on the episode. I know you’re sick of me and Tony all the time, so I greatly appreciate you taking the time to do this.

Nate:
No, I’m coming to the BiggerPockets Conference just to hang out with you guys.

Ashley:
Well, Tony won’t be there, but-

Nate:
Tony.

Ashley:
He’s having his baby.

Tony:
I’m MIA this year.

Ashley:
Yeah, he’s having his baby.

Tony:
Yeah, the baby’s due I think the week before BP Con, so we will be phoning it in this year, and then we’ll have Baby Robinson at a BP Con 2024.

Nate:
Yes, let’s go. Let’s go.

Ashley:
So Nate, you’ll just have to fill in as Tony for the conference.

Nate:
Done, I will wear my-

Ashley:
Practice his signature, so you can sign some books.

Tony:
Yeah.

Nate:
I’m going to wear my-

Ashley:
Black shirts.

Nate:
… my black shirts and my black shorts, we’ll be good.

Ashley:
Well, Nate, where can everyone find out some more information about you and reach out to you?

Nate:
Yeah, probably Instagram is probably the thing that I’m trying to do the most. So it’s N, the number 8, Robbins, R-O-B-B-I-N-S. And then, like I said, I’ll send you the scripting and stuff. But if people want the script or if they want the objections, I need to see if I can scan that and upload that. If they want to send me a DM, I’m be happy to send that over to them as well.

Ashley:
Okay, awesome. Well, thank you so much Nate, and we will put those documents in the show notes, go on to biggerpockets.com/blog/rookie-326. Or you could just DM Nate on Instagram @n8robbins.

Nate:
Could you say that one more time please?

Tony:
Where do we need to go Ashley? [inaudible 00:55:04].

Ashley:
Everyone knows the dash is I meant horizontal [inaudible 00:55:06] dash, hyphen. Well, Nate, thank you so much for joining us today, I’m Ashley @wealthfromrentals, and he’s Tony at @tonyjrobinson. And we’ll be back on Wednesday with another guest.

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In This Episode We Cover:

  • Finding the BEST off-market deals through the power of driving for dollars
  • How to invest in real estate with little to no disposable income
  • Choosing the “risk” of real estate over the “safety” of a nine-to-five job
  • How to shed your W2 mentality when transitioning to a career in real estate
  • The perfect cold-calling script to use when contacting an off-market seller
  • Important steps to take when walking a distressed property
  • And So Much More!

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Book Mentioned in the Show

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Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.

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