Jim has been a real estate investor in Northern Illinois since 2007, He is also a licensed real estate agent (IL) and has been since 2005. He started out as an aggressive new agent helping investors buy and sell their rehab properties. Then he quickly realized he was on the wrong side of that transaction and that is when he decided to become a real estate investor myself. These days his primary focus as an investor is residential redevelopment (aka rehabbing). He primarily works in Chicago and its NW suburbs and had used his local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to get 75% of his rehab deals over the last 8 years. Since he got into the real estate business he has been involved in over 450 transactions.His company does 8-10 rehabs at any one time. Though Jim is an active investor he spends as much of his time as possible with his 4 year old twins, Liam & Claire, and his awesome wife who stays home with them. He told us “Everything changed when I had kids. Suddenly I looked at everything differently and literally changed almost everything in my life. I got healthy, quit drinking, lost 50lbs and have never looked back. Life is much more enjoyable on this side of your health”.
Jim’s secret to getting great deals on the MLS starts with planting the right seeds with the real estate agents involved. Effective communication is absolutely necessary.
You have to convince the listing agent so that they will convince the seller that your offer is worth considering and ultimately worth accepting.
Jim has bought tons of houses where his offer wasn’t the highest but he convinced the agents that his was the best offer. To make his offers more appealing he does the following:
1. Waives the inspection
2. Informs the agent that other investors and potential buyers include inspections because they will likely renegotiate after the inspection.
3. If not a bank-owned property, he tells the listing agent to inform the seller that, when he through fixing up the house, most of his houses are sold to young families.
4. He puts up a strong earnest money deposit (around $5,000 for a house with an ARV between $400k and $500k).
5. He puts in for a 2 week closing.
Agents hardly ever know what a seller is going to be willing to take for their house. They all have assumptions and we know what assumptions do…
So, don’t ever rely on a listing agent telling you their client will never entertain a low offer. This is crap. They are obligated to submit all offers, so go ahead and submit yours and try to convince the agent of the real benefits of your offer (not just price).
Jim also mentioned that 90% of his MLS deals required follow up. He usually does this using hotsheets to automatically check for status changes for the listings.
If you want to win even more deals, it’s best to have a system in place to remind you to follow up just before typical price changes. There’s no way to guarantee when there will be a price change but you can set up reminders for yourself for each property very easily in REImobile (a professional real estate investor software system built by an active investor…me!) so that you can set it and forget it.
The criteria for properties he makes offers on are usually based on location but also the presence of one of the following keywords:
estate sale, REO, bank-owned, motivated, needs work, original owner, handyman special, as-is, fixer.
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Welcome to The Flipping Junkie Podcast. My name is Danny Johnson former software developer turned house flipper, flipping hundreds of houses. Each week we bring you interview, strategies, stories and motivation to help you get started flipping houses and on your way to becoming your own boss and achieving financial freedom. Thanks for spending time with me today. Now let’s get to it.
Hey everybody. Welcome back to The Flipping Junkie Podcast. I hope you guys had a great week. We got a great show today. I’ve got Jim Huntzicker on the show and he specializes in MLS properties getting, deals on MLS so today we’re going talk about how to beat the competition for great deals on the MLS. A lot of people write off the MLS because they hear of the competition and how difficult it is, but I think you know everybody should give it a shot at least in their area and see how it goes and really make an effort to find a way to be creative to get deals that other investors aren’t taking the time or have the systems in place to get so we’ll talk about that today with Jim. He’s been a real estate investor in northern Illinois since 2007. He’s also a licensed real estate agent and has been since 2005. Now he started out as an aggressive new agent helping investors buy and sell their rehab properties but then he quickly realized he was on the wrong side of that transaction and that’s when he decided to become a real investor himself. Now these days his primary focus as an investor is residential redevelopment a.k.a. rehabbing and he primarily works in Chicago and its northwest suburbs. He’s used his local multiple listing service which is the MLS to get about 75 percent of his rehab deals over the last eight years so it’s a huge percentage of his deals coming from MLS and since he got into the business he’s been involved in over 450 transactions and his company does eight to 10 rehabs at any one time and though Jim is an active investor he spends as much time as possible with his four year old twins, Liam and Claire, and his awesome wife who stays at home with them. Now he told us everything changed when he had kids. Suddenly to him he looked at everything differently and literally changed almost everything about his life. He got healthy. He quit drinking and he lost 50 pounds and never looked back. He tells us that life’s much more enjoyable on the side of your health. We’re going to talk to Jim here in a minute and get started and learn about these things and just a note from our sponsors which is LeadPropeller and REIMobile, software that I’ve developed for use for my own company and provide other real estate investors to use as well to get leads and deals and LeadPropeller is a site of generating leads online. So if you want a real estate investor website check out LeadPropeller and to help convert more of those leads that you get into deals, we’ve set up REIMobile which is a CRM system cloud-based, web-based system so you access all your leads at all times, work with the team, set up follow reminders, assign tasks, all that kind of cool stuff. Now these are things we develop our own company’s use and we make available so that you can use them in your company as well without having to configure a bunch of stuff on Podio and all that kind of stuff. So if you don’t want to mess with setting up a system to do these things and just want to have something that works right right away, check out REIMobile.com. We’re doing a bunch of really cool stuff with automation and stuff like that here in the near future and constantly working on that so check it out, LeadPropeller.com, REIMobile.com and we’ll go ahead and get into the interview with Jim.
Danny Johnson: Hey Jim. Thanks for being on the show.
Jim Huntzicker: Hey, how’re you doing?
Danny Johnson: Pretty good.
Jim Huntzicker: Thanks for having me on.
Danny Johnson: Alright, great. Hey, I gave an intro to everybody before we got on this talk here, but I wanted to find out a little bit more about how you went from being a realtor to an investor and what that was like if you don’t mind sharing.
Jim Huntzicker: No, no. It’s a great I mean it is a great story and people should hear it because I was working with investors first. I started out as an agent, like 2005-2006 really was when I got started going. But my father was an agent first and so that’s kind of why I got into the business and people always thought that I ended up doing well as an agent because my father was in the business which is maybe partly true, but the problem I didn’t about when I did get into the business is that who you call when you first get into the real estate business as an agent. You call your friends and family most of which already used my father. He wasn’t out of the business so I couldn’t steal his business. It was kind of crap. Every sales training I went to said call your friends, call your family and of course I had a small group that didn’t use my father, but I was up against – the people you start out with were going for me. So that’s how I found real estate investors. And so I started with two real estate investors one guy in particular, my first year working with him I did about 25-30 deals – these little deals in a crappy suburb west to me, but he taught me a lot. I did a few other investors too but it didn’t take me very long to realize I was on the wrong side of the transaction where these guys sold them for $120,000 that’s the after repaired value, and they’re making 30,000 and 40,000 and I’m making a little $3,000 commission, not that anything is wrong with the $3,000 rip. But when he’s making $30,000 on the same one and I found the deal and then I sold it, I said, “I could do this stuff and so that’s where I started kind of figure out how do I this on my own. The problem is because I worked with investors I thought I knew what I was doing, but really all I was doing, I knew how to buy them, I knew how to sell them, but all that stuff in the middle I didn’t know. I wasn’t a contractor. I’m a handy-like guy.
Danny Johnson: And there’s a lot of stuff in the middle.
Jim Huntzicker: So much. I just didn’t know. It;s one of the things you don’t know what you don’t know and so I got a partner for the refinancing, a contractor, it was all wrong. Everything I did was wrong, but it’s kind of funny, I really believe all things happen for a reason. As hard as this deal was, we had it for over a year on the market. Now this was in 2007-08when the market was starting to really tank. At least in our market it was around then and so I was just watching not only the profit go away but my loss was actually going up because the value was going down. I desperately wondered, “I got to figure something out here.” I didn’t have the money at the time to come whatever it was. I thought was mid 20-30, I didn’t know, and so desperately I went and put an offer on a property that I showed to a client. It was updated but it was very ugly. A very nice lady lived there, owner occupied property. It was paid off and in my desperation I thought, “Hey this is a great neighborhood.” It was priced at $440,000. I’m in suburban Chicago so our prices are pretty high here and this is a house that needed some work. Even it was updated, she picked the ugliest updates ever, so nobody would want to live in that house except for her. So went back to it on my own. I went a couple times. I ended up going about three times on my own. I didn’t know what I was doing really. And so I ended up make an offer on this house to $300,000. It was listed at $440,000. Now, I didn’t have any money. I put $5,000 in earnest money on the contract. I didn’t have that. I don’t have the rest of the money anyway and I don’t have any proof of funds because I didn’t have any money or any private lenders. I had no business doing. I actually made the offer expecting her to reject it, but I was desperate. I knew ___. I didn’t know how I was going to come up with it and if there’s a will there’s a way and so I submitted this offer. I did go to the property several times what I didn’t realize I was planting lots of seeds with the seller like, “Hey, this guy might give you an offer.” In their head, they’re coming down and down and down in price and I didn’t know that was going on because I was new and so in the end the agent was not very pleased with my offer. He was literally like swearing at me on the phone. But I was just like, “Hey man, just go put in the offer” because he has to. The counterbacked at $420,000 – anyway, they came back $20,000 increments all the way down to $300 when they accepted my offer. I was as shocked as anybody that they accepted my offer and the agent couldn’t believe it either. But the problem was now they want $5,000 in earnest money and I was supposed to come up with the rest of the money too, neither which I had. But again, if there’s a will there’s a way. If you have a deal that good, I don’t care how new you are, you will find the money. You will find somebody to source the money and you’ll become your partner in that deal. That’s exactly what I did. I found somebody has become an equity partner which is not ideal but hey I had no choice. And so there is no money – that the money didn’t cost any money except for 50% of the profit in the back end. So it was expensive money because we made about $70,000 on that deal. But what it did is it allowed me to make some money and crazy – you can’t make this stuff up. I lost $36,000 in my first deal, $35,000 and I made about $35,000 and change. And the craziest thing is on Thursday, a Thursday, I closed on the one where I made the money. On Friday the very next day the other one finally closed and I lost it. They about washed each other out and I never looked back but you can’t make that stuff. It’s crazy they closed literally one day apart. I own the first one for like a year and seven or eight months. It was crazy how it worked out, but it did and I’ve never looked back.
So what do I do then? Okay now, I need to get educated because obviously there’s a lot that I didn’t know and I just got sick deal here that made me about your money even though it washed out of the other one, still there was an opportunity here. And so that’s what taught me what was possible in the MLS. I’ve been using the MLS since then, so about eight years it’s my primary deal search for my rehab business. I get about 75% of my rehabs out of the MLS.
Danny Johnson: Nice. Yeah and I worked MLS probably 2008, 2009, 2010, maybe all the way up to about 2011 or ‘12 when things were picking up. And probably people listening either experience this themselves or I’ve heard other people talk about the fact that the competition goes up and it just became a case where I’m spending all day looking at and making offers on properties and not getting any of them and became the return on investment from my time was not there and I’m sure that assumption is probably kept a lot of people from even getting into doing this. What do you typically tell people that tell you that there’s too much competition in my area to get deals off the MLS?
Jim Huntzicker: I hear two things constantly. I hear that. I first always hear “there are no good deals in the MLS.” That’s the first I hear constantly. It doesn’t matter what kind of market, high inventory, low inventory, doesn’t matter, I hear there’s no good deals in the MLS or I hear the MLS is too competitive which you think is too competitive for all the non-deals. I mean really, it’s too competitive because there are good deals in there, but like anything – the reason I was able to master this early in my investing career is because I was an agent first because the biggest key here is the communication. The dialogue you had with the agent. You don’t get to talk to the seller when you’re using the MLS which I actually love because some of those seller meetings are a little awkward and they’re there longer than they need to be. Sometimes you got to spend an hour or two hours with them if it’s an emotional sale, if somebody died. It’s draining and that’s time consuming too and I don’t love it. I’m good at that but I don’t love doing it. So the MLS just makes more sense to me. The key there is what you say to the agent because you have to plant these seeds with the agent because – now picture this, you may not know, for anybody’s listening, the average agent in the National Association of Realtors does three deals a year. Three. Yeah I know three. It’s crazy. Another statistic that’s important to note here is that 80% sold gets listed in the MLS, so most deals get sold in the U.S. get put into it an MLS. So it’s just a matter of planting the right seeds with the agent because they don’t know what to say because most of them are inexperienced. I mean, heck, an agent doing really good is doing ten dollars a year. That’s three times the average. And so they’re not even doing one deal a month there and they don’t have the proper dialogues in most cases to effectively communicate what needs to be communicated to the seller. I’ve submitted thousands of offers despite my career. We get about 10% of the detailed structure offers we put out. This is the opposite of offer, but this is not throwing out 100 offers seeing what sticks and not calling the agent ever. Literally this is evaluating the property, you going to see it, sending a team member to go see it, running a property estimate sheet on it, seeing what your numbers are, coming up with an after repair value, coming up with a maximal offer and making that maximal offer. However in that process when you go to a house you always want to call the agent and all you’re doing is building rapport. It doesn’t even matter. You’re not talking about the property. If they’re talking, let them talk. If they’re not, you got to have some kind of probing questions about the house or whatever you can to get them to talk. All I am doing is building rapport because it’s your job as a buyer’s agent or the buyer for that matter to convey the information to the seller or to the agent to take back to the seller that lets them know you are the offer they should take. On a state sale which is my favorite sale in the MLS because oftentimes they’re just cosmetically dated but well cared for houses, half the time on a state sale I’m not the highest cash offer and they accept mine over the other ones and that is because of the seeds I plant and that’s it and more just educating because the agent probably doesn’t know either. In our market right now, our inventory is very low. People can get deals anywhere and private seller market, MLS, a lot of investors are struggling to find deals in our market right now and I got to light a lot of irons in the fire just like any entrepreneur does. And so we sold my rehab deals last month and I didn’t realize there was nothing in my pipeline. Now I got a couple crews that work for me because we do about eight rehabs at a time, we’re not crazy big, but we do enough, and I don’t have work for them, they will go find it elsewhere and I might not be able to get them back. So I need to keep going so they stick with me because they are independent contractors. They don’t work directly for me. I just give them lots of work so they keep working for me. And so anyway, the point of the story is, I was like, “Crap. Alright I’m going to put all my irons down. I need three properties. I’m going to work the MLS until I get three properties as long as it takes.” And it took me about nine days total. I had three properties under contract and I was done because that’s all I needed. My time now is more important to spend with my kids and my family. I used do 14-15 rehabs at a time. Even with good contractors, my phone rings a lot. Anybody’s phone ring a lot with that and I just wasn’t interested in having that many phone calls anymore. So I had my three and I shut it down. That’s what’s great about this MLS stuff. You could turn the strategies on and off as you need them or if you’re wholesaling the MLS just leave them on. I got a buddy of mine that sells me deals that are in the MLS. It’s a little annoying to me but hey I could still pay his price. He doesn’t gouge me too much. He’s looking for $3,000 or $5,000 usually. I’m cool with that. But in they’re in the MLS that I could have bought myself, but I can’t watch all deals all the time. And when he brings them to me, I’m like, “Can I do it? Do I want a 9th deal? Sure” I’ll buy it if it’s a good enough deal and you just brought me one but I made almost $100,000 on that, I know that’s rare in the MLS, but it was a fantastic deal, much better than I even thought it was.
The properties – the three properties. So two of them were brand new listings. This is where two bring new listings and one was on the market for 44 days and that’s the one I went after first. The one that was on the market for 44 days, I called the agent and this is this funny. So this goes into like, the agents don’t know and you should never listen to what the listing agent says about what the seller will take. They never know the seller never shares because as agents they feel like most agents are shady, that should have a bad reputation similar to attorneys. I’m a licensed agent still so I could say that and most of them they don’t know what they’re doing. It’s not that most agents are shady. They don’t know what they’re doing and in a lot of markets, they hope they get a pay check as quick as possible. I called the agent and I say I like the house, build my rapport with them and see what he would tell me. And much to my surprise, this house already had like four offers on it the seller rejected. Now I will tell you from my experience in teaching all my students the MLS stuff that most people – whoop, that’s it, they’re off. They’re unreasonable, they’re not going to can accept my offer. When I hear there’s three or four offers, I get excited about it. Why? Because it’s just a matter of timing. What did Einstein say? You can’t keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result. That’s a good definition of insanity. So if you bid three or four offers that are all in the same range but you want $20,000 or $30,000 more is it realistic to think after you get your fourth or fifth offer they’re all in the same range that you’re going to get the price either don’t sell it, you’re going to take another offer. And at that point it’s just a matter of being at the right place at the right time. So that was the deal that one. I actually came in, it was listed at 250, I came out at 225. He told me she just rejected an offer the month prior at 235 and so she said, “Will you come to 235 because that’s the number she wants to get.” And I said, “I can’t. I told you I’m presenting my highest and best. I cannot pay a penny more.” This is the key dialogue, “If you came back at 225 with one dollar, I would say no.” Because that way they know that you’re not paying over your money. So I’m really pushing my limit. I want this house. I like this neighborhood. And so then she came back at 230 and then she eventually accepted my 225. So that was a great deal. It won’t be a homerun but we look for about a 15% return on the back end on what we’re selling it for minimum. So if I sell a house after the repair value is $400,000. I’m going to be looking for a minimum of $60,000 dollars. That’s minimum. And that’s very easy to do in any MLS, in any market by the way as long as you know your numbers and you act fast enough.
The other two deals, that was sitting on the market and I paid about 10% under list price. Those are two deals, the reason that these are interesting and I got them all together same time is what I paid the list price for on the first day it was listed and one I paid $10,600 over list price on the first day it was listed and they’re actually both listed on the same day. So it just a matter of feeling out the agent. Again calling the agent to see hey what’s going on, how much activity. Usually there’s a lot sometimes there’s not none but usually there’s a lot. And you’ll be shocked at what the usual tell you because most agents’ goal is to get this thing sold and closed as quick as possible so they can get a commission check. It’s just a fact. So without being unethical, they might tell you more information than they should and they think they’re being ethical in their mind, but they’re really giving like, a guy me, you tell me anything it’s dangerous because I’m going to use it against you. I will tell you it is very rare for an agent not to tell me something I can use against, meaning, it’s for me to win the sale. I don’t say I’m like going to be malicious about it, but I am asking if they’re willing to share information, I’m going to take it and use it. On a deal that I paid over what I did there is I knew that I offered the agent a commission, she wasn’t interested in taking it, so I don’t want to do dual agencies. So I go down, I’m an agent. I put myself down as a buyer’s agent. I really care about that. But now I take that into consideration when I’m making my offer. So I offered $10,600 over, but the reason I offered that exact amount over is because that’s what the agent alluded to that would take that deal. No I could’ve paid $325,000 for this deal because the crazy thing is they were way under listed it. This house is worth $500,000. It’ll need about $85,000 repair and I was willing to go up to $325,000 if need be in my neighborhood. I live in a decent neighborhood and it’s funny I always say I’m going to the more when I buy I’m close to my house and I never do. There was one last year that I drove by every day. It was on the main street that I used to get to my office. It was like one block south and I’m like ___ all the time, three times. When I bought it in the middle ones ___ then when I sold it that’s really pretty much every property because every time I’m going to the office I’m running late for something. I don’t have time to stop. It does it matter if the house is right there. But anyway, so that one I offered over and again the agent told me where I need to be. She didn’t tell me directly but alluded to, and so I said I want this house. I go to I’ll do what it takes to get it and I said my offer of $295 and she said, “That should do it.” I was like, “Fantastic. Thank you.” I would’ve offered more but on the other one, now this one was listed at $325. Now mind you I think I see this already but if I didn’t I’m in suburban Chicago it’s, it’s one of the more expensive marks in the country. There are more expensive markets of course, but we’re pretty high up there, and so when I say these prices, these are what I’m buying them for. So we got $325 and again the agent there was not interested in the commission and this was paying 3%. So I was able to pay the list price here at $325 and so to me that’s about $315 to $350 I believe, about $10,000 dollars worth of commission. That property, both of these had multiple offers now that one, the “planting the seeds” with the agent was very important about the higher offers that they had because on the other deal. I was the highest office, so it wasn’t a problem but this other one I was not the highest offer, so I couldn’t go higher. They tried to get me up to the other two offers that they always do. They say, “Hey we want your offer” because what you do – when I plant the seeds, all kinds of seeds I plant. With the offer you put a cover letter just explaining you’re a professional residential redeveloper. Use a letterhead for your company. If you don’t have some, get some. It’s pretty cheap to do that these days – Vistaprint or whatever. It could be a paragraph don’t overthink it and make a huge page of it, but just let them know. If you’re new, use one of your affiliations. If you’re a member of a group or a program or a mastery course or whatever, just say the group investors I’m with it have done X amount of deals and whatever you can use to sound good. I just happen to do this for eight years and you let them know that you sell your houses especially estate sales this is critical that you sell all your houses to young couples and young families. And if you don’t, don’t say that, but in my market the only people that are paying top retail value for fully rehab houses are young couples and young families. So it is true. I could say that and they love to hear that another family could potentially live there for 40 or 50 years just like their parents did when they were raised there. I’m playing on the emotional heartstrings of the seller and it’s true. But here’s the thing, any one of those offers is going to sell it to the same people I am, whoever’s money is the greenest. But they don’t convey the same message and that’s why their higher offer doesn’t get accepted.
And here’s another key part, when you go to these houses, you have to be able to look at a room in 10 minutes ___ because you might see four or five properties a day depending on your day or how many properties you’re buying, but either way it’s a quick process. So you have to do it, have an inspector come with you, have your contractor or whatever because it’s best to be able to waive the inspection especially on new listings because if you say, “If you accept my offer we can just schedule the closing” because the other offers whether they’re higher or not are not going to waive the inspection. And so what they often do and this is true and all you do is educating the agent so he can relate it to the seller. Their plan might be to overpay for it now but what they have under contract and the inspection that I know they didn’t waive because you say that they didn’t ask you for a huge $30,000 or $40,000 inspection credit. And they say, “Oh, is that what they do?” Yeah that is a strategy some investors use. I’m not saying those guys do but I know this is the most I could pay right here and I get my work done as cheap as anybody but I’m not the only guy. So let’s assume all three of these guys, me and the other two, that we all going to work for the same price. I know I can’t pay a penny over $325 and make a profit that makes sense in the back end of this deal. It would be way too tight and you shouldn’t do it. So do you think those guys, are the other dumb, are they uneducated and don’t know or do you think their plan is to ask you for their repair credit. And look, if in two weeks you’re calling me to say, “Hey, you were right That guy asked me for a $40,000 inspection credit and now my offer looks better.” Well, I don’t have unlimited funds I will have probably gone and spent this on another property at that point or if I did I might say, “Hey you know what, he’s right. I can’t pay what I thought really more.” But right now I can pay you $325 and I can close in two weeks. Very powerful dialogue to use because it shows you’re an authority figure. It shows you know what you’re doing. You stood your ground. You cannot move off your number. You give them your shot. Win or lose you could not move up that number so you go in on a listing with your best shot where it is brand new if you want to get it. That’s your only shot in most cases to even get it. And so those dialogues and just education again about how to plant seeds and you have the cover letter, some people don’t want to use a cover letter because they don’t have a lot of experience. Well, fine. When you’re calling and building rapport with the agent, make sure you convey the information about who you sell it to because it’s extremely important especially going to estate sales. In REL obviously it doesn’t matter. They don’t really care. But on an estate sale that’s very important. So planting those seeds – the other thing, you never really – I think I said this already but I want to make sure, you never listen what the listing agent says they never know what the seller is going to take, ever. They never know. I mean I’ve ___ the agent before I’ve literally offered the agent the commission, he took it, said “Okay, I’ll represent you ___” which I’m fine with. It was a property listed at $299 and I offered $245. He’s like, “Ah, I can’t believe I wasted the time.” I wrote the offer. My office sent him the offer. So he didn’t even have to do it. We put his name on it. We put his agent ID. He did nothing. I just wanted a leg up on a deal which I didn’t get anyway because the guy turned out to be kind of a jerk. But anyway the point is that he’s getting a commission from my side of the deal, 2.5% and he’s like, “Ah, I wasted my time.” They accepted my offer. They had higher offers. I don’t know what happened I didn’t ask because that guy was a jerk, but I got the offer $245. It was 10 or 12 days after it listed. My offer went in right away. But he said, “They’ll never accept this” so the agents never ever know. That’s a couple of years ago now, but it shows you – and the market was busy. It wasn’t a small market in my area and they listed for $199 and when I was there I saw a mold in the in the crawl space. It has to be disclosed if they are aware of it. People are always are not aware of it somehow, but it was pretty apparent there. Either way, I informed the agent and said, “Hey, this thing’s got mold. This is not financeable.” You could smell it. You could see it. If an appraiser sees it, they are not financing this deal just to let you know. Give me a cash price of $134, this a $199 listing and I bought it in three days. So just because it lists higher than you can pay in the first three days, the first day or whatever, don’t think “Ah, I got to wait.” Everybody has seen those properties that sell for a lot less, well that’s because of again education, making sure that the agent knows what’s going on. In this particular deal, if it had no mold, that wouldn’t have worked, so I wouldn’t be able to get it. Would you still have go to the property to find out to run a quick evaluation on it. Those are three deals in an extremely low inventory market. What I paid 10% less, what I paid 10% list price, what I paid $10,000 over because those were the situations that permitted for me to get that deal. And again, calling the agent, talking to them, I mean, building rapport with the agent is so important I can’t even tell you because you’re just trying to get them to like you. So they tell the seller that this guy is legit. He’s the real deal. We should take his offer.
Danny Johnson: Right. That was a ton of information.
Danny Johnson: 20 minutes of a ton of information coming out. So I want to sum up basically what I got out of that and based on the experience that I’ve had with doing it. Typically what I’ve done and other people do is they’ll go look out and look at these properties, they’ll come up with a number, make the offer, they’ll call the agent and say “I’d like to make an offer” be a cash offer of this amount for that property and then that’s the end of it. And so, you’ll hear back, oh they rejected it, probably just even threw an e-mail they don’t want top call you back. So that was how that’s approach, now what you’re saying is it’s not good. You’re dealing with an agent that likely doesn’t know how to sell your offer to the seller and they have these preconceived notions about what they’re willing to take, what the sellers actually are willing to take and most of the time it’s wrong. So they think, “Oh there’s no way they’ll ever accept that.” But you need to convince them that your offer is strong because of the different things that you offer which is like the cash offer, the fact that the deal will be done, that you know what you’re doing, and they’re going to get paid and there’s not going to be one of problems because that’s one of the worries that the agents have is that they’re going to get into this, have to deal with all this communication and stuff that’s not going to work out and in the end it’s going to fall apart and they’re going to go out and find somebody again. And so, you give them the benefits but they’ve got to be able to convey that then to the seller so that the seller accepts your offer instead of them just going to the seller saying this is the offer.
Jim Huntzicker: Exactly. And if you don’t convey all that information which again just basic education about what this process is like because they don’t know. The agent doesn’t do estate sales all the time because there’s no such thing as an estate sale agent. You’ll get them from time to time as an agent because people die that you know or whatever. But the point is that they don’t know how that process works and they always think that the sellers are going to go for the highest amount. That’s what everybody thinks including the other investors and that is not the case. I said 50% of the time I’m not the highest cash offer but because of all those that I planted you just mentioned that is how they accept my offer over the other ones when they could take a higher offer.
Danny Johnson: Do you use anything else to make your offer stand out? Do you do a higher earnest money amount or anything like that?
Jim Huntzicker: Well, I use $5,000. It’s what I use. Again, in my market when I’m buying houses, my average purchase price is bumped up actually it’s around $250 now. So I use $5,000—
Danny Johnson: 10%, well that’s about 20%.
Jim Huntzicker: No, $5,000 on $25,000 so that would be 2.5%.
Danny Johnson: Yeah.
Jim Huntzicker: The only time I have to put up more is if it is an REO deal and they want 10%. Then I just match whatever they’re looking for, but I never have resistance at $5,000. In fact, once in a while we’ve been putting $2,500 to test it and I haven’t got any resistance on that either.
Danny Johnson: Okay. And so how do you determine which properties on the MLS you’re going to look into and make offers on?
Jim Huntzicker: It’s all by search criteria. So it’s all automatic. The main thing we use is the keyword search. Keyword search pulls any specific word or phrase, other remarks that you put in there. Beyond that, we do it geographically. We pick an area, neighborhood, towns, zip code whatever, depending how dense your market is. I mean even down there in MLS you could draw a map. There’s a map feature. You get to literally circle streets. And so, say I want to watch one neighborhood within a town I could watch one in particular neighborhood and I do that with a couple townhome developments I know sell really well and there’s lots of older people who have lived there for 30 years now that are dying and so I’m not buying those. I could sell them very quickly. They’re easy interior rehabs but I don’t do any attached housing otherwise, so I only do a couple little neighborhoods. I know how good that they’re going to sell. I know a lot of them come up right now that did not need work. Where are we going with Dan?
Danny Johnson: The criteria. Do you have certain keywords that work really well—
Jim Huntzicker: I actually saw a desperate one time believe it or not that was in there. But I have all kinds of keywords different ones for estate sales over REOs. On estate sales, I put a state in there because it usually it’s just an estate sale, motivated, nursing home, original owners, needs work, TLC, handyman special. On the REO stuff, they usually say REO which stands for real estate owned by the bank in case anybody doesn’t know it who is listening, but REO just means foreclosure – so foreclosure, corporate owned – and all corporate owned is a hedge fund, bought a pool of mortgages that one of them defaulted and went to foreclosure so now the owner is not a bank, it’s not bank-owned, it’s a corporation which is a hedge fund. Same thing as an REO or foreclosure, but we put corporate in there too. “As is” is a big one for that. You can even put “as is” for estate sales. Researching your market, look at what agents are using I mean there’s a lot of common ones that are used in every market. But there are other market specific words, so look at all the listings especially the low end listings in your market, and if you see common phrases those are the ones you use. That’s all I did. I see a phrase I saw a “desperate seller.” Who uses that? But I saw it once. I’ve never seen that again. But I know have any of my criteria because if somebody writes “desperate” again I want to see that listing.
Danny Johnson: If I’m going to list a wholesale I think ought to put “desperate” in there because then you have everybody to make an offer.
Jim Huntzicker: That would be a good one. I mean you’ll at least get attention right away.
Danny Johnson: So what else do you do? So you have these, what are called, the hot—
Jim Huntzicker: Hot sheets?
Danny Johnson: Hot sheets or whatever set up to find these keywords and they come up and say you get an email saying hey you get these new properties today that match those keywords, how do you filter them? Do you make an offer? How do you go through those and determine which ones to work?
Jim Huntzicker: Okay. Let’s start with the foreclosures because that’s a big part of the market, well not as much anymore, but there’s still plenty foreclosures to get listed. And so then, most foreclosures are not going to take less than 5% in the first 30 days no matter what and a lot of list where things are going to get the price, so many banks now that won’t even move off their price for at least 14 days in some. Some will a little bit, but if I can’t pay within 5% of an REO right now I’m going to go because I know there’s no chance of that working no matter what. And so, I kind of evaluate from what it needs. I give a chair evaluation on every property. If there’s a picture, take a look and see, kind of like is this even worth going to. If it’s an estate sale, the first thing I look at is the tax record to see did they have a mortgage on it. If it’s a dated dilapidated house, but I pulled up a mortgage last year for like full value, I don’t even go because the odds are they don’t have the equity somewhere else to pay off when I can actually pay for it. So they’re listed at what it cost to actually sell the property not what they need out of it including the closing costs versus what the property is actually worth. So that’s how you determine estate sales. I look at that before I’ll even go because that tells you whether you should even go or not. If there’s a low mortgage where they took it 15 years ago, that’s still worth it. Obviously you’re looking for one that has no mortgage on it that’s ideal, but that’s how I evaluate estate sales because the price that they’re listed for is not relevant to me. It used to be when I was getting started, but I realized that that price doesn’t matter anymore because the agent might have sold them at a price that they didn’t even expect anyway. So when an offer comes you can be on of it in two weeks that will take a lot less than you get, 32% is my record on that. Basically every property comes through a chair evaluation if there are pictures. If there’s not, I do tax record stuff. If it’s an REO, all I do is say, “Hey, can I pay 5%?” Oftentimes when you build a great strategy for the MLS is you build relationships with these smaller REO agents, guys doing 15 deals a year or less. Those are the guys you can call and get on the phone immediately and you let them double on the deal meaning they’re already getting a seller side of commission, you give them the buyer’s side of the commission and they will bring you deals before they even hit the market because they want to double on the next deal too. So when you see those MLS deals that sell within an hour or a minute after being on the REO MLS deals, well, that was a relationship that REO agent had with an investor, it sold like that. But most investors can’t buy more than a handful of deals at a time – two, three, five maybe. So students always say, “Well don’t they already have relationships?” Yes they do. But when they call and they say, “Oh no, sorry I can’t do it right now” because they already have five or whatever. What do they do now? Well, if they have another investor to call, they’ll call you. So you still build relationships with these REO agents because they will bring you off the market deals before – they have to list them all, but especially when the list price that you could he thinks you could pay or she thinks you would pay, they say, “Hey this thing is listed at $220. I think you’d pay $220.” Of course they’ll be able to double on the deal and then they listed at noon, at 12:01 you submit a full price offer accepted like that because it’s full price, it’s cash and it’s ready as is so we just schedule the closing. We don’t just go to every property. When you get your criteria down and you know your neighborhoods, you’ll know pretty quickly as soon as it comes on is it something that don’t make sense. Once you look at the tax record even or where it’s priced like, that one was priced way under. It made no sense to me. In fact I called a couple agents in that market that I know. “Hey man, am I missing something here?” These are just friends of mine that are in the business I know that work in that area and I’m like, “Can you evaluate this? What do you think this is worth when it’s done?” And everybody, they all said the same thing. So I was like, “Alright. ___ idiot here” because it was way under listed. Our inventory levels are so low I can’t believe somebody listed it that low. I mean you could’ve priced it at $299. It was $279 and you’ll still be under $300 if that was your goal to keep it under. It just didn’t make any sense to me and again I got to pay $325 for that thing. I still made a really decent profit at the back end.
Danny Johnson: Wow. Yeah, nice. So what do you recommend for people that aren’t agents themselves?
Jim Huntzicker: Well anybody can get a list of properties from Zillow, Trulia or realtor.com whatever Redfin’s fantastic. Redfin in fact gives you updates every 15 minutes on new listings. It’s awesome. You can usually run six to eight searches. For one search, you set it to update six eight times a day so that’s one way. You can get an agent to send you those. If you’re a real estate investor, you should really have your own MLS access. And so you need a real estate license and get it. You don’t have to be an agent. You just become a licensed agent. You don’t have to sell as an agent, but then you have your license and you can get MLS access to any MLS in your state once you’re licensed in that state. Now if you don’t want to go through that because everybody becomes a broker now, it’s like 90 hours, costs about $400 bucks. You could become an “assistant” and I use my air quotes there, an assistant to an agent. I’m a licensed agent. I have a full time assistant that works for me. She has full access to my MLS portal. She does all my listing data. Anything that goes in there she does for me. She has full access to everything. But if I wanted to control her access I could let her not see my listings. I can let her not see my client list. I could restrict her to only be able to run in saved searches. That’s all you need to do. You need to be able to run a search and save a search and that’s it. When you set up all your searches, they’ll be emailed to you automatically, so then when you see the property come to you in your email, “Awesome.” Go log in. Run in to search to run comps for that property because that’s not going to be a saved search that you have. You can comps. Trulia and Zillow have all those features now, but the detail they give there is not as easy to use as what the MLS will allow or you’re using inside the MLS. So becoming an assistant is where most people don’t want to get licensed get access. And so I have a couple of buddies that are wholesalers that I buy from here, they do not want to license. One guy pays $1,000 dollars to the agent and also the MLS dudes for an assistant which is about $360 a year, so it costs him $1360. The other guy has the exact same thing and pays $1,500 to a guy plus the MLS too, so he pays about $1,860 a year and they have full access to the MLS now. Both guys make over $500,000 a year mind you, so that’s just the cost of doing business. If you think $1,800 is a lot, $1,500 or whatever, they make a lot of money and this is one of their cost of doing business. And they specifically don’t want to get licensed because you have to disclose your license when you’re talking up real estate. My buyer line reads my company name LLC Illinois licensed agent. That’s my buyer line whatever LLC I’m buying under and if I’m only licensed agent, I have to disclose that I’m a licensed agent. If I’m talking to a private seller on my business card, it says I’m a licensed agent. It’s very small but it’s there because I have to let them know that I am a licensed agent that’s stealing downfall. Now it’s never gotten in my way. I’ve never not gotten a deal I wanted because of that, but mind you, I used the MLS to get 75% so the other deals I buy are usually from wholesalers. I do do some private seller marketing but I pulled that back because I don’t do as many deals anymore. The private seller marketing costs money and it takes more of my time because I got to either call and go meet with them, send somebody and meet with them, and you know what I get plenty of deals out of the MLS so right now I just use the MLS for most of my ideals and then as my wholesale buddies bring me deals I take them or not. I usually do take them. They bring me about maybe 10 a year and depending on the deal. But like I said, that’s the really the two ways I buy properties right now but mostly the MLS because the way that my business works now when I free up a property I used to, once I put it under contract with the retail buyer, as soon as I did I would go contract a new MLS deal and schedule to close the week after the closing with my retail sale from my previous rehab. The only problem is now financing has gotten to be a nightmare. I would take the 2007 and ’08 financing terms back all day or underwriting, I should say, the underwriting that went on in 2007 and ’08 that everybody hated back then, I would love to have that again because that would be a dream compared to what we’re seeing right now. We see deals fall apart in the 11th hour all the time. It’s very common. It’s like all of a sudden underwriting you see something they didn’t see before, we’re like a week before the closing, they have not issued a clear to close and they pull the file. It’s happened to me several times my ideals. I’ve seen it happen several times. It’s very common in today’s market. So you cannot lock up another deal. If you don’t have the money available you can’t lock up the money because the closing is not guaranteed on the the closing date or at all. A lot of times they get pushed a week or two weeks. So I have to wait until the closing happens. I have the check in hand. I pay back the private investor. I take the profit. Now I go shopping for another deal because I have the money available again and so the MLS allows me to be able to turn it on and off. I just go and pay them, but I got three deals last month because I needed three deals. I turned all my systems back off again because I’m good for now. And then I go back out and do it again when I need more deals. If you don’t stop or you’re a much bigger rehabber than I am because I only do know maybe 30 deals a year, if you’re doing 130 or whatever you just never turn them off. It constantly works. So yes, am I missing deals right now? Yeah absolutely but I’m not looking for them because I don’t want any. My life now is now, since my kids were born they’re about four and half now, my lifestyle has changed from all work driven and money to how much money do I need to survive so to spend as much time with my kids as possible right now. I know I still do okay, but still the point is that the driving force is no longer money. It’s my kids and my wife and hanging out with them and travelling with them and so that’s why I like to do.
Danny Johnson: Awesome. So what do you do? I mean obviously a lot of times you’ll make an offer and they won’t accept it right away. What do you have in place to handle follow ups with that kind of thing?
Jim Huntzicker: Yes. That is a huge key. A huge part of getting deals in the MLS is follow up. You’ll only get about 10% of the deals you put offers on the front end. Those are detailed structured offers. The other 90 percent you got to put the follow up right. And so originally the MLS now and there’s just lot more technology, we used to follow up manually 30, 60, 90, 120 days. My assistant would check to see if it’ll come back on the market during that time. Now you could set up an independent hot sheet for each property with the property address, if there is any status change to it, it will email you. So now we see as soon as they come back on the market because 90% of the offers you make you’ll get. Now they don’t all go under contract, some of them don’t accept anything because all the offers were too low because they’re overpriced, but they get put get to a hot sheet, then we watch them. If they do price changes on ones they don’t accept any offers, we resubmit automatically. All we do is change the date, change the closing date, change the offer date and resubmit the exact same offer again. That’s for the properties that never going to contract and the properties that reactivate that is key, especially for foreclosures, if you can get your offer in within hours of it reactivating which is what we do and if you have these hot sheets set up properly that’s what you do too, as long as your offer is within reason and usually it’s got to be that 5% list price mind you, especially at this point if it’s 90 days there is a little bit of a lot of room there more out of the 5% range under the current list price. What I mean is, it’s a one year contract 90 days prior and on the 90 first day or whenever day you go past that point it was back on the market that was usually due to them accepting a 203K home nightmare loan. I mean home renovation loan from a retail buyer which didn’t work out because most of them don’t work out. So now the asset manager, most asset managers won’t even deal with those loans because they’re such a pain. So they will not accept an offer that has a 203K on it depending on how bad the property is. And so, since both of them don’t come together, if the asset manager decides to take it cause they’re trying to make themselves look good because those retail buyers pay the most money for the property, they need to get that property sold very quickly if it comes back on the market 90 days later and people say how often do these properties come out 90 days later. Well, with 203K loans, a lot because they’re are minimum if things go well it’s 60 days. 60 days is a renovation gone well and so most of them don’t go well and it takes much longer and by 90 days they’re either closed or back on the market. So they’re back on the market once, if you get there in a couple hours and you submit your offer, call the agent. I had this offer in, maybe they’re an agent you work with, maybe they’re dual agent, maybe they’re not, “I did an offer 90 days ago.” I’m going to submit the exact same offer again. I can close in a week because now that this asset manager had this property in that contingent category off their active list, well now back in the active list which they don’t want. It makes them look bad. They need it back under contract as soon as possible and close as soon as possible. So the key to that is getting your offering quickly. They know you know your stuff. They know you’re watching the property. They appreciate your diligence and they accept your offer like that. I mean it happens all the time in the just 90 days but 90 days is the key to getting those deals quickly. But that happens to be at 30 days 60 days, so I’ll give you guys a tip here too. The first look program has been in my home path is changed now, so that’s no longer what they call it. But they still have these programs where they only want to sell their owner occupants for the first 14 days or whatever. And I think they may still call it first look because I don’t know if that was part of the home path or not, but either way there are still banks that will do that 14 days or only owner occupants. What you want to do there and a lot of time to offload those into it into on a website that doesn’t even go to a listing agent. What you want to do is call a listing agent, find out if they can do double on the deal because about 5% of banks don’t let them do doubling the deal. If they can, if they can’t it doesn’t matter, but then you submit an offer to them for an offer, write everything, proof of funds, articles in corporation that show you whoever is signing can sign on behalf of the LLC or whatever and you email to me I basically forced down their throat. Now they’re going to say, “Hey, we can’t accept this.” I say, “I know, I know. But you guys are probably going to except an owner occupied offer.” This house is a piece of crap and for them to go through with it is not likely. So if you have a contract in the first 14 days, you’re saying that a contract on day one with an owner occupant will say it stays under contract for 21 days and then comes back on the market. Well now guess what even though he was under contract the whole time it still passed the guideline of 14 days and they can actually accept an investor offer now. So what happens there is and it’s happened to me several times over the years, the agent will call me as soon as the deal is falling apart because they don’t want a relist that deal and get all these idiots that make offers that are crazy and call them on the phone and waste their time. They know your diligent. They know you’re shar because of what you did. And they say, “Hey man, is this offer still good?” And I say “Of course it is.” And so it doesn’t come back on the market. They switch it from contingent with the other buyer to contingent with you. Nobody else ever had a shot at that. So that’s a great little tip on those properties if they’re only doing it for owner occupant stuff. I don’t see this much anymore because there are not as many foreclosures anymore. But still it’s a great tip for those types of properties. Everybody says like, “Hey, it says 14 days. We’ll have to wait until day 15.” And that’s what everybody thinks. If you get outside of the box a little bit, be a little more aggressive and you get yourself some deal that nobody else can get.
Danny Johnson: Yeah that’s awesome. And another thing too is you do the hot sheets to check for the status changes and stuff you made an offer for that you didn’t get right away. And another thing you can do is exactly why I created the software that I use which is REIMobile. You can find it at reimobile.com and I set up the follow ups in there for a certain amount of days after my offer because what you want to do is hit them right before they’re going to make that status change on their price change so that you hit them right when they’re talking about it but before they do it and everybody else is starting to make offers again on it and following up with them. So something you can do. We were running out of time here though and you said that you had some something that you wanted to give to the audience.
Jim Huntzicker: We’re going to put a link below this or where we’ll be able to do it and it’s a link to my report I wrote about 12 ways to dominate the MLS in any market on any market that has an MLS, this ___. What I teach is not a software to it, this is this is kind of like the art of the deal for the MLS. It’s how to work the deal as a real investor for the MLS and that’s what I covered in that ebook. It’s 12 ways to dominate the MLS in any market with MLS. So this stuff works anywhere. That’s the biggest question I get too a lot, “Will this work in my market?” I find people trying to talk themselves out of being successful. They want it to fail. That doesn’t work here. This doesn’t work. Nothing works here. Direct Mail doesn’t work here. Bandit signs don’t work here. Maybe real estate investing is not for you if it doesn’t work in your market but guess what it all does. That stuff works everywhere. Direct mail works. Bandit signs work. MLS stuff works. All the deal sources that you have heard about in real estate investing they all work. It’s just a matter of mastering one of them before you move on to another one. Get really good at a deal source and the MLS should absolutely be one of your deal sources if you’re serious real estate investor because these guys are all over the country, they’re going to make you millions of dollars from deals off the MLS, not off one deal obviously but guys who are doing several deals and making lots of money from MLS deals. It should be one of the tools in your tool belt without question if you’re a serious real estate investor.
Danny Johnson: Right. And the link for that will be on the show notes page at flippingjunkie.com/47. You’ll get a link to that, get that 12 ways to dominate the MLS anywhere, that was the name—
Jim Huntzicker: 12 Ways to Dominate The MLS In Any Market.
Danny Johnson: So that will be there for you free and you can get that now so head over to flippingjunkie.com/47 you’ll be able to get that. Hey Jim, thanks so much for being on the show and if people want to find you is there a place that people can go get in touch with you.
Jim Huntzicker: Absolutely, yeah. My website, you can go to www.realestateinvestoracademy.com
Danny Johnson: Alright great. Well thanks again.
Jim Huntzicker: Thanks for having me on.
Alright guys. Another great episode. Be sure to go to flippingjunkie.com/47 to get the download of 12 weeks to dominate the MLS no matter what the market. Jim really knows his stuff and like he said, there’s a lot of stuff in the middle. When he got started, he lost money on that first deal because he didn’t understand all of the things in the middle from the buy to the sell and how to buy. So his guide is free and it’s going to show you a lot of stuff that’s in between. It doesn’t hurt to go ahead and add that’s your stash of swipe stuff that you got for education in finding and getting a lot of deals for your flips. I hope you guys have a great week. We have another great episode next week. And of course be sure to go to leadpropeller.com and reimobile.com. Check out what we’re offering there. We got a lot of cool stuff happening with it, so just check it out. All right. Thank you very much.
Reference, Episode 47: [Marketing] How to Beat the Competition for Great Deals on the MLS w/Jim Huntzicker. Is it true that you can’t make an offer unless you have a pre approval letter?
This depends more on the seller and what they request be presented with the offer. A lot of REOs will require proof of funds or pre approval letter in order to consider your offer. There are tons of hard money lenders out there that will provide a pre-approval letter to investors.
Hey Danny, Jim mentioned you can gain access to the MLS by becoming an “assistant” to an agent. Does that agent then gives you his/her login info for your access to the MLS? Or can they create a login for their “assistant”?
There is usually a separate login for an assistant.
OMG! With Tom Krol and now Jim….. Is your new guest criteria “must be hyped up on coke!” ?
So… after listening to the tips on getting personal with the selling agent, this came into my email box today
“Writing truly heartfelt letters requires buyers to get a little personal”
“She’ll often throw in a box of sprinkled cupcakes with a note that says, “Hope this sweetens the deal.” Or, one of her favorite methods, she’ll give a bag of assorted nuts with a note that says, “I’m nuts over your home. Please pick me!”
This was another great, and useful podcast. Thanks.
Great episode Danny for newbie like myself that are working primarily on finding deals on the MLS. It works if you take your time and run the number s correctly.
Keep up the great work!
very interesting post….Thanks