BiggerPockets Podcast 481: Build an Unstoppable Real Estate Portfolio with the “Core 4”

BiggerPockets Podcast 481: Build an Unstoppable Real Estate Portfolio with the “Core 4”

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David Greene is great at coining new terms, just like his co-host Brandon Turner. Today we talk about the “Core 4” of any successful real estate investor’s team. This includes the agent/deal finder, the property manager, the lender, and the contractor. Without these Core 4, you’ll have trouble building a real estate empire, especially if you’re doing so long distance. The good news? Even if you’re a brand new investor, you can start building out these relationships today!

With the help of BiggerPockets, you can find agents, lenders, property managers, and contractors. You can also head over to the forums and chat with other investors in your area, get their take on who’s the best in the business, and use their referrals to grow your team.

Are you an agent, lender, contractor, or property manager? Great! Brandon and David drop some tips on how you can attract the best clientele that will help you grow your businesses as well. The most important part of any of this is having open, honest, consistent communication with your team members and making sure nothing is falling through the cracks so everyone knows exactly what they should be doing.

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Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

Brandon:
This is the BiggerPockets Podcast show 481.

David: A lot of people look at them like they’re completely independent components. Well, you’re my lender and you’re my contractor and you’re my agent. No, when you get into this, they all have to connect with each other. Your contractor needs to be able to get out there and give you a bid before your inspection contingency ends what your agent is going to be managing and the lender and the agent have to work together. And oftentimes, you want to answer phone calls from your lender when they ask you for something. But if your agent says, if you don’t get this to him, by end of day today, you’re losing the whole deal, then you will. So that chemistry is also very important. When you’re picking the pieces.

Intro:
You’re listening to BiggerPockets Radio, simplifying real estate for investors, large and small. If you’re here looking to learn about real estate investing without all the hype, you’re in the right place. Stay tuned and be sure to join the millions of others who have benefited from biggerpockets.com, your home for real estate investing online.

Brandon:
What’s going on, everyone? It’s Brandon Turner, host of the BiggerPockets podcast here with my co-host Mr. David Greene. What’s up man? In the Sea Shed again.

David:
Yes we are. This is where the magic happens.

Brandon:
This is where the magic happens, and we sit awkwardly close talking to each other.

David:
Staring at each other’s eyes.

Brandon:
It’s a little weird. Today, we’re going to talk about building a team when you are a solo investor. In other words, what that means is if you are a real estate investor who is just getting started, maybe you’re talking about your first deal, fifth deal, 10th deal, but they’re smaller deals. We’re talking about the team you need to build, specifically we call that the?

David:
The core four.

Brandon:
Their core four, which are?

David:
Your deal finder, your property manager, your lender, and your contractor.

Brandon:
All right. So we’re going to talk about those today, but first let’s get today’s quick tip. So quick tip today is we’re going to talk a little about finding a real estate agent. BiggerPockets has overhauled our agent directory. It’s pretty cool right now. You can actually go to BiggerPockets, go to the network tab, go down to agent. And this is totally free by the way, just go to agent and then type in your zip code or your city. And all agents in your area are going to pop up and you can contact them right there. You can see details about the agent. It’s really cool. Even if you don’t even need an agent, you to go check it out right now. And if you are an agent and you’re like, “Well, how do I get on that directory? How do I get there?” You can find out more information at, you know the URL?

David:
You go to network, and then I click on agents. If you are an agent, what do you do?

Brandon:
I think it’s a DICOM slash premium. We’re going to say it’s slash premium. If not, we’ll make that URL work. So if you are an agent and you want to be listed there, go to biggerpockets.com/premium, and you’ll learn more about that. So cool. All right, well.

David:
We’ve got some good stuff to get into today.

Brandon:
We do. We have a lot of good stuff today. All right. And I think that’s about it everyone. So hey, do me a favor. If you like this show idea, do me a favor and go to over to YouTube to watch this. Let us know in the comments section of the YouTube video if you like the style, if you like this kind of like me and David pick a topic and just drill in on it. Because we want to do maybe more of these, but if you don’t like them, then we don’t want to do them. And of course, follow us over on Instagram at BiggerPockets for all things BiggerPockets related and specifically DavidGreen24 on Instagram and pretty much everywhere, and me, it’s Beardy Brandon over on Instagram. With that said, let’s talk about the core four.

Brandon:
David, first of all, the core four came from your book Long Distance Real Estate Investing. That’s where that concept came from. Now, today, we’re not talking just about long distance. This applies to local as well. But which of those four? We mentioned earlier, it’s like your deal finder, which is typically a real estate agent, but it doesn’t have to be. We can dive into that in a minute. Agent, lender, contractor, property manager, which one of those comes first, do you think?

David:
I like to look for the deal finder first. And the reason is the deal finer will usually have the biggest network and the most access to the other three pieces.

Brandon:
Smart. Okay, so let’s dive into, maybe I’m going to interview you a little because this was your concept. The agent versus not agent, the difference being on market versus off market.

David:
Usually yes.

Brandon:
Can you explain that real quick for those people who have no idea why you’d use an agent? Why wouldn’t you?

David:
Yeah, that’s a really good question. So before we do that, maybe we should break down why this is an important thing. So Brandon and I have found-

Brandon:
I wouldn’t take control. I like politician style. I do it all the time.

David:
Thank you for asking that question. Let me answer the question I wanted to ask in the first place and then say, I’m glad you asked that, even though you did it. Brandon and I were sitting here talking about where we had quantum leaps in our business. So when I got this piece, everything changed. And for you that are listening to this, there’s actually a point where you’re waiting to take that quantum leap too, and that could be buying your first house, buying your second house, buying a bigger property. Just writing an offer could be a quantum leap in the progression of, I want to be a real estate investor to I own real estate.

David:
And what we found is that every time we didn’t do something, either we didn’t know it. We didn’t trust ourselves. There was a fear that if we go do this, we’re going to make a mistake. And when we found the right person to put into that place, all of a sudden that fear went away and we found ourselves taking action. So oftentimes we whip ourselves on the back. We’re like, “You need to do better. You need to get out of bed earlier. You need to go do all this stuff.” But the answers that life is usually trying to give us, come from saying no to something or stopping doing something. So what I want to, and what Brandon wants to kind of highlight here today is that you probably need to quit trying to make your fear go away by just pure hey, you shouldn’t be afraid.

David:
Find the thing that’s in place that’s stopping you from moving forward. And for us, that was people. Now as a solo investor, that means your core four. If you had a person bringing you deals and saying, “Hey, here’s a better deal than the other ones that I’m seeing in the neighborhood.”, that maybe had a little bit of understanding of after repair value and cash flow. It takes so much weight off of the investor to have to make this decision that they’re afraid of.

Brandon:
Yeah, 100% agreed. I think that it’s like the who not how principle that we talked about with Ben Hardy and Dan Sullivan back, I don’t know, six months ago, or whenever that episode came out. Yeah, same concept of rather than freaking out of how I’m going to get this done, ask who’s going to make this easy.

Brandon:
I think that’s the question. Well, I should say my coach, his name’s Jason Drees. He always asks me, “Do you see a version of yourself in the future where this is not a problem anymore?” And I’m like, “I like that question. Yeah, I can envision somebody that’s not afraid to go buy small deals, like solo deals on my own.” But a twist on that question would be, can you envision somebody that you bring into your life that would just make this whole thing easy? Yeah. Wouldn’t it be amazing if someone just showed up and just did this for me, like brought me deals and they understood what makes a good deal. And they could walk me through this process? And that’s where a good real estate agent comes in handy is they can make the whole process way easier.

Brandon:
And all of a sudden you’re sitting there trying to carry the whole load on your back. And then they’re like, they show up and they’re, “Here, let me help you figure this thing out.” That said, a good real estate agent is very difficult to find are.

Brandon:
So I want to spend some time talking about the agent side but first.

David:
Oh yeah, your question, off market versus on-market. So when people sell their property, they can either just sell it themselves, which would be what we consider off market. By market, we mean the multiple listing service. They can also go hire an agent who’s going to put it on the MLS or the multiple listing service to usually get them more money and make the process smoother. Traditionally, this is how most houses ended up getting sold. The downside of finding something on market is that it’s easier to find them. Therefore, everybody else is finding them too.

David:
You typically have more competition when you find something that’s on market. The upside to finding something that’s on market is you get someone to hold your hand, to walk you through the process. You have someone theoretically to kind of make sure mistakes don’t get made. You’re not paying that person. The seller is usually paying the agent that you’re going to be using. And it’s more convenient to find a bunch of properties to analyze because they’re all put together in one place for you.

Brandon:
Yeah. Yeah, and that’s really nice. And so if you’re going to go on market, and we can talk off market in a minute, but let’s talk on market first. Do you want that agent? they’re going to bring you the leads. Whereas, I mean, other than going to BiggerPockets, like we mentioned in the quick tip, where, where does somebody find a good real estate agent? And then how do they know what’s a good real estate agent?

David:
We probably could make an entire series of podcasts about finding a good agent because it’s so hard to do. And that’s just in life in general. We tend to say, “Oh, you’re a whatever.” I mean I could use one of those. Yeah. There’s a difference between a mechanic and a good mechanic. There’s a difference between, I mean, just one of my properties right now, we were quoted $17,000 to fix a sewage leak. And I found a different plumber who said, “I can do that for $1,700.” And it was just the difference of, they knew where to cut into the line to make the fix versus let’s dig out the entire thing to find where the problem is. So that’s like a $16,000 difference. Agents can be the same way. The first thing I look for when I’m looking for a good agent is actually not what people would think.

David:
It’s not do they invest themselves? That does come into the decision-making matrix. The first thing I want to look for is experience. Do you sell a lot of houses? And the answer is no one is good at anything that they don’t do a lot. It’s really hard. If you haven’t done a lot of exercise, if you haven’t done a lot of studying, if you just aren’t familiar with something, you’re not going to be good at it. The agents who are new tend to be the friendliest, the most approachable, the easiest. And so everyone goes to that one like, “Oh, they’re really easy to talk to you. I wasn’t afraid. They’ve sold two houses, but hey, they’ve returned my calls faster.” And then they get into this scary situation with an agent who actually isn’t really that knowledgeable themselves.

David:
One of the things I tell my real estate team is people are hiring us to be the guide. If you don’t believe in your own self to be able to do this, you’re not going to be able to do it for somebody else. And that’s a big problem. So step number one that I would say is look to see who are the top producers. You can ask them how many houses they sold last year. You can ask other people who sells all the houses around here, but you want to make sure that they’ve done this a lot, definitely more times than you have.

Brandon:
Yeah, that’s a good point. I think in the Multimillionaire, and I think I may have put in another book too. No, I think the Multimillionaire was the first one I did, but I talked about the on fire agent, somebody who’s organized like an agent who’s unorganized or doesn’t have a team that keeps them organized is just going to be a disaster.

Brandon:
Number two is like network. In other words, they know people in their market, they understand their market. They’re like, I networked is the word I came up with. They needed on fire and I needed an N-word, but networked was like, yeah, they’re connected. They know all the top agents, they know all the top lenders and contractors and things like that. So O, N and then F was, they’re focused on you, not just on their own goals. So when you’re talking with them, they’re talking to you, I was investment savvy. It doesn’t mean they have to be an investor. They have to at least have some basic understanding of what you’re looking for. Otherwise, like I’ve dealt with agents before. I’m sure you have too, where all they can talk about is how cute the kitchen is or how cute the front porch is and how those would be perfect for your family.

Brandon:
And I’m like, “I don’t care about my family.” I do, but I’m not trying to buy this for my family. I’m trying to buy this for an investment. So they have to understand what an investor cares about and how the investor world works, because they don’t know what hard money is. I’d be like, well, I kind of want an agent who understands that concept so they can help me through this. So F, I, and then R was responsive. That’s get back to you. So many agents are unresponsive. They’ll be people, contractors, agents, people, whatever. And then finally the last one was what you named experienced. And if you can find one of those agents who are just on fire like that, they will help you get your stuff done.

David:
And my thinking is if they’re experienced, they’ll have everything.

Brandon:
I agree. Yeah. I agree.

David:
Unless they’re just like the old woman or old man, who’s been an agent for 40 years and just sucks at everything. They don’t sell any houses.

Brandon:
That is serious.

David:
They were crushing it back in the put a magnet on the refrigerator days and they haven’t evolved.

Brandon:
Exactly. So do you recommend finding, I mean, were you looking for agents? You’re probably looking at BiggerPockets for a bunch of them. Now that’s a good place to start, right? If you want to find a Justin Bieber fan, go to Justin Bieber concert. If you want to find a real estate agent who understands investing, go to BiggerPockets. You start there, but there’s lots of them on there. And there’s no guarantee just because they’re on BiggerPockets does not mean they’re going to be good. So what do you ask an agent? What do you think a person should ask an agent to even determine if they’re the type of agent that you should work together? What’s a red flag or what’s a green flag. Is that the opposite of red flag?

David:
I don’t know. I’ve never thought about that.

Brandon:
What’s the green light and what’s the red flag.

David:
Okay. There you go. Oh, okay. So one of the things I like to do is I like to ask an agent, what are the strengths of working with you and what are the drawbacks?

Brandon:
Oh, that’s a good question.

David:
And everyone, if they don’t know how to tell you their own strengths, they just haven’t sold houses yet. That shouldn’t be that hard of a question to ask, but a lot of the time it becomes that if you’re new at something. If you ask me, what are your strengths in jujitsu? I don’t know. Ask Brandon, do I even have strength yet? If you ask someone who’s really good at it, they’ll tell you. I like these jokes. I like these moves. I stay away from this stuff. My limbs aren’t long enough or whatever the case would be.

Brandon:
That’s a really good point.

David:
It comes from experience, right? That’s where you know what your strengths are, and humility and experience combine to come up with weaknesses. I think one of the things that makes me better at business than the average person is just that I know where I’m weak and I don’t have a big problem acknowledging I know I’m not good at something. And I avoid getting into situations that I know I can’t get out of, or I’m not going to be good. So what you’re looking for with the answer is that they are strong in areas that you know you need and their weaknesses aren’t something you’re going to rely on them. You have something to add here.

Brandon:
Yeah, I can see you smiling. Do you remember the scene in The Office where Michael is trying to get basically Jan’s job at corporate, and so he’s getting interviewed. I think his boss was David. Was that his name? David?

David:
David Wallace.

Brandon:
Interviewing him. And he said, “So tell me your weaknesses, Michael. I think he just said, I just care too much.”

David:
That’s what most people give you when you’re asking them.

Brandon:
I’m just too consistent and too persistent. I love people too much.

David:
So this is a side note. When I’m interviewing people to join my team, that’s a question I ask them. And if they can’t give me a compelling answer on their weaknesses, we don’t go forward. It doesn’t mean you don’t have weaknesses. It means you are not aware of them. And you’re going to blindly walk our company into a situation. We’re going to step on a landmine because you didn’t know what you weren’t good at. And we’re going to get into that later when we talk about how to build a different kind of team around your own weaknesses. So the listeners should be aware of that too. One of the ways to know if something’s weak is it just feels heavy. You don’t like doing it. You put it off.

Brandon:
That’s such a good point. light and heavy is a concept that we talk a lot about. It’s not hard or easy. There are things that like, jujitsu is hard. I love doing it though it’s light, even though it’s incredibly hard, right? Lifting is heavy, in several ways. I lift occasionally. I don’t really like it. Even though actually I think lifting is easier than jujitsu, it feels heavy.

David:
You don’t enjoy it.

Brandon:
I don’t enjoy it. It feels heavy. And so I ask myself that constantly, does this feel light or does this feel heavy? I got that from Jason Drees as well. How does it make me feel when I think about doing this task? So maybe that’s another question to ask of an agent, “What feels light to you? What’s something you like doing?”

David:
Well, hopefully you’re getting at that when you ask the question of what are your strengths? Now, the answer, what you’re looking for is different because every investor is going to be different. But I can tell you some of the things that I look for. I want my agents to be very good at knowing the value of the properties in the area that they’re selling. If I say, “Hey, what would this thing sell for if it was fixed up?” And I get an, “Ah, you know, it could be anything really. You never know what the buyer’s going to bring.” That’s not what I’m looking for. I’m looking for, “Hey, three twos in this neighborhood are typically somewhere between 300 and 340.” And if they give me that answer right away, I know they sell a lot of houses. I know that they’re confident at doing it.

David:
So that’s one thing that I’m going to really want is what is, how do the values of this neighborhood, because I’m comparing whatever I’m buying to whatever the other houses are. So I need them to have a knowledge of that. Another thing that I want an agent to be able to tell me would be what are the best parts of town? So I’m investing in Chicago. Yeah, we’ll go Chicago. What are the areas of Chicago I want to avoid? What are the areas of Chicago that are up and coming? And Chicago is like all around good. [inaudible 00:15:13] I threw Chicago out without thinking about it too much because I didn’t want to throw Detroit. I ended up Chicago is very bifurcated if you’re not familiar. So that’s not the best example.

David:
But what we’re looking for here is do you know where the area that’s up and coming is that not everyone else’s thinking about? So I know in the Bay Area, the parts of the Bay Area and the parts of the certain cities that are going to go up in value faster than all the other ones. And I know what I’m looking for. One of the things I’ve often said are you look for hipsters, man. That person who’s walking around. We never remember the name of it with the little sticks that are looking for water in the ground like there. I can’t remember the names.

Brandon:
Water, water something looking for water dowels or something like that.

David:
Nd then when they find it, the stick, they put it on the ground.

Brandon:
Last time we couldn’t think of the name of this, I got a bunch of Instagram DMs.

David:
And we still forget.

Brandon:
Yeah. They told me what it was. I was like, oh yeah, that’s what it is. It’s like a water something.

David:
Yeah. So the hipsters are that. The people who are moving into areas that typically haven’t lived there before tend to drive up prices because hipsters tend to work in high-paying jobs. And so what I look for are the signs that hipsters are living there. Coffee shops popping up in neighborhoods where they typically weren’t at.

Brandon:
Craft coffee shops are really fancy ones that I love.

David:
Absolutely, craft breweries.

Brandon:
If they make a little leaf on top of your coffee, you know it’s a good coffee place.

David:
Or if they sell beer that you’ve never heard of with real unique names that probably doesn’t taste that good.

Brandon:
And the guy behind the counter has a mustache. That’s exactly right.

David:
Yeah. Mustaches in general are something you’d look at.

Brandon:
It’s the mustache principle actually. In fact, that’s going to be my next book. I’m going to call it The Mustache Principle. And it’s all about the questions you mustache.

David:
All right, dad jokes for days, I look for little hole in the wall restaurants. That’s another thing that hipsters are typically looking for. So an agent that can tell you, “Hey, this is the part of town where you really want to get into, this is up and coming.” That’s very valuable. Another question I ask that I noticed a lot of other people don’t is in this area, what do the majority of people do for work? And I want the agents to tell me they work at Boeing. They work for the airline. They work for tech, they work for whatever. And that’s a good sign or well, most of the people that work here are going to be like your school teachers, your first responders. It’s like a blue collar area. If they don’t even know what the population does for work, why people want to live there, they don’t know that market very well. And I probably don’t have to ask any of the other questions.

Brandon:
Yeah, that’s really good. That kind of fits into the whole like you’re well networked. And when I talk about network, that’s part of what I mean, is they understand their market and the people in it, the dynamics, the demographics. They understand what’s happening in that market really, really well. Now let’s talk real quick about the responsive thing. Because responsiveness is important for an agent, especially in a crazy market like now, you have to be quick. At the same time, good agents that are experienced and have all the ON FIRE stuff, they’re busy because they’re working with a lot of different clients. So how do you balance? You need somebody who is responsive to you, but those people are also so good that they’re doing other people. What are you actually looking for in responsiveness.

David:
So I can use my business as an example. If somebody messages me, they’re probably not getting a text back immediately in most scenarios. I probably have around 900 or so unread text messages. If they call me and it’s a number I don’t know, I’m just not going to answer. You’ve seen my phone’s been ringing the entire time with spam calls and unknown numbers and stuff like that. But I do have a system set up to where if you reach out to us, we are going to get back to you. Somebody else in the team is going to respond to you. That’s because I take that responsibility seriously of running a good business. If somebody says, I want to sell my house, or I want to buy a house, someone needs to be getting back to them. We’ve actually taken steps to create a system where the minute that somebody registers on our website, they get a text and an email that says, “Hey, thank you for registering.”

David:
And then we get a notification saying, call this person. They’re trying to get ahold of you. There’s a lot of time and work that got put into creating a system like that, and agents that aren’t willing to put the effort into giving a good customer experience within reason are probably going to run your transaction with that same level of sloppiness and just like haphazard last minute, which is unfortunately how most agents do tend to operate.

Brandon:
Yeah. That’s cool, man.

David:
So what I’m getting at is that they need to be responsive. It doesn’t always have to be them. You may be dealing with their assistant or a secretary or another agent on the team or another person who’s going to find out. And don’t think that’s a bad thing, that’s a good thing.

Brandon:
That’s exactly right.

David:
That is a good thing. That means they’ve taken time to build a system in place because they care about what’s going on. I think people’s ego gets in the way a lot of the time. Well, I wanted to talk to the guy in the billboard. Well, the guy on the billboard doesn’t know who you are yet. We’re going to get into that later how you can be a good client, but they got to qualify you first to make sure that you’re going to go there because to be frank, the overwhelming majority of investor clients are not trying to buy properties. They’re looking for an education from that agent. And that’s great. We at BiggerPockets want to give you a free education, but not everybody who runs a business thinks that way.

Brandon:
Yeah. That’s funny, I’ve actually talked to numerous agents over the years that just say like, oh yeah. Oh, I hate working with investor clients. What a time waster. And all investors don’t understand that and I didn’t understand for years, I’m like, I’m an investor. I’m going to buy multiple properties. I should be your valuable client. You should roll over into anything I ask because I’m the guy that’s going to buy lots of properties. It’s not that way though, because most of the time, that’s a different story.

David:
Now, once I prove myself as that guy, like I have a couple of people that send me consistent referrals. They get treated like gold. They’ve shown, you’re going to bring value to my business. I’m doing whatever it takes. We’re going on their Facebook and looking to see what life events are going on and sending them gifts and stuff like that. They’ve earned that. And that’s one of the reasons we’re going to talk about later, how to be the good client in the relationship. Because when the market is strong and agents have a lot of business and contractors have a lot of business, you need them more than they need you.

David:
So part of this is looking to see who is a good person that I want to work with. And then part of it is understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your own position. If you’re just another person with very little money to put down that’s never bought a house that has a million questions and is trying to get a great deal in a super hot market, you’re one of a million lemmings. It’s very difficult to stand out from everybody else.

Brandon:
That’s really good. Well, let’s talk about being a good client real quick. So if you want to find an agent, how do you become, what do you look for in a great client?

David:
That’s such a good question. I’m glad that you’re asking that. The first thing the agents look for is motivation. Do you want to buy a house or would you like to buy a house? They’re very, very different because there is going to be a big hurdle between making that initial call to an agent and then signing your closing paperwork and closing on a deal. There’s actually going to be an entire journey of hurdles. And those hurdles are going to be difficult. The only thing that drives us through difficult things is motivation. There’s not a human being alive who gets through a difficult process if they’re not motivated in some way. Like jiu-jitsu training is hard. Weight training is hard. The reason that you’re training in jujitsu and not weights is because you’re more motivated to do that. You don’t need as much motivation when it’s light.

Brandon:
Because you’re going to weigh tonight, and I need to beat you.

David:
This is a route you found.

Brandon:
This is the route I found to win. That’s pretty much it. That’s exactly why I’m good at weights. That’s a funny thing to say, you’re good at weights.

David:
You’re good at lifting heavy things and doing them and putting them back down when you’re done. So, understanding that motivation really matters. Now, real estate agents are in a very unique position in that they do not get paid for their time. They get paid for their results. If they close a house, they get paid and we often then say, that means they’re greedy. They just want a commission. But by that same logic, investors are greedy. You just want my time, you just want my information. You just want a deal. You don’t care about me. And if we ever stopped to think about how often we criticize the person on the other side and then apply that same logic to ourself, we’re almost always guilty. On our team, we spend a significant amount of time saying, “Listen, you’re letting these people take advantage of you.” They don’t care if you got in your car and drove them around and spend $100 on gas over three weekends to show them houses and then wrote an offer with another agent.

David:
They just don’t care. So in a sense, the investor, I think, needs to understand. Here’s the example that I would give. If you’re buying a property and I’m your agent, okay, you want to buy a $600,000 place in Maui. My commission on that at 2.5%, because that’s around what the buyer’s agents get is going to be $15,000. And then out of that, I got to pay my broker 30%, 40%, and then all my other expenses. So let’s say I’m keeping like 10,000 out of that. Who’s making more money? You or me over a 10 year period?

Brandon:
The investor.

David:
Yes, by a landslide, even on an expensive property, where a $10,000 commission is, who would I rather be 10 years from now? The investor or the agent that got that money. And I haven’t talked about taxes on that 10,000 yet. There’s a lot of taxes, right? So it’s the investor that’s making more in this relationship than the agent. They stand to gain way more. They’re in a way better position. I’ve even had people that were just stuck on commission before. And I said, “Look fine. If you want some of my commission, I’ll give it to you. Give me that same amount of equity in your deal. You want to have my commission, I’ll trade you. I’ll take half your equity for half of my commission, if that’s really what you want to do.”

David:
So I guess what we’re getting at here is that you have to treat agents as if they’re a business person and you respect that they don’t get paid unless you close on a deal. And if you’re showing up not motivated, not serious, just wanting to kind of test the waters, in some ways that’s okay if you tell them upfront that’s what’s going on. In other ways, it’s kind of a jerk mode. It’s like, you want to date this person that you know wants to be married and you just want to date around. You’re not intending to get married at all. Don’t waste that person’s time. Find another person who just wants to date around and go that route. There’s some agents who just like to talk. They like to talk real estate. They like to get to know people. They have a very high eye on the disk. They enjoy that. That’s fine to just talk real estate with them. Go look at houses when they’re willing to show it. But you do need to sort of establish that in the very beginning when you first show up. And if I can sense that this is a person who’s coming to me and they’re not motivated, right off the bat, that’s not a great client.

Brandon:
Yeah. And one way to show that you’re motivated is by having all your ducks in a row that you’ve done your research. What I mean by that is number one is being educated. Two, being pre-approved. Three, knowing what your crystal clear criteria is. Another thing I talk about in the Multifamily Millionaire, which is like, where do you want to buy, what property type, what condition, what location and what makes it a good deal? Profitability. It’s like somebody asked me on a webinar the other day. I was teaching and they said, “Well, I’m like 21. How am I supposed to get an agent to take me seriously?” Is what they said. And I think he said an agent or a wholesaler. And by the way, all this stuff applies to wholesalers. But how do I get somebody to take me seriously?

Brandon:
And I said, well, let me give you an example. Let’s say there’s two, let’s say I’m a real estate agent. And two people come up to me at separate times of the day. And they say they want help finding a deal. The first one comes up and said, “Hey, just attended the seminar that I heard on BiggerPockets and it was really good. And I’m really excited about real estate. And so I want to buy something. I don’t have any money or anything, but I figured like, there’s got to be a way to do it. Brandon wrote a book on it. So I just got to figure it out. And I just want to buy a real estate somewhere. I want a good deal.”

Brandon:
And then the next guy comes and says, “Hey, I’m, pre-approved up to $800,000. I can buy a house. I got $35,000 in savings. I’m looking for a 2,000 or 3,000 loan, preferably on a fixer upper house, somewhere in the Sacramento area.” They’re the exact same age person, the same experience, level, the same everything about them. Who are you as an agent going to take more seriously? They didn’t require any extra money really for like, I mean, yeah one guy had some money which shows you have motivation. But even if you had another way, I got a partner that’s going to bring the money.

David:
That’s exactly right. You’re going to just show your ducks in a row. Because before you came to the agent, you went and asked somebody, “Hey, would you partner on this deal? Would you have money?” You went and borrowed money from someone else. That’s really what we’re getting down. Like, don’t feel sorry for yourself. If you’re like, well, I don’t have a lot of money. So that means I’m not as good as somebody else. No, but it does mean that you have a little more work to make up than somebody else does. And you need to show the agent that you’ve already done that.

Brandon:
That’s actually one of the reasons I’m a big, big fan of the BiggerPockets calculators, right? The rental property calculator or the calc is because just by when you’ve done your numbers, you got your math done. You’ve got pictures, you’ve got a map, you’ve got the charts and colors and graphs on that PDF report, you print that out and you bring it somewhere. It doesn’t guarantee you’re a genius and you’re going to be able to figure this out. But you sure look a whole lot better than the guy who doesn’t show up with anything saying like, “Oh, I want to invest in real estate.”

Brandon:
But if you’re like, “Hey, here’s how I run my numbers. And this is the property that we’re looking at today. I ran the numbers here. This is where I’d have to get it out based on my 8% cash and cash return requirement.” The agent would be like, “Whoa, this person’s like, they know more than me.” Most agents won’t even know that much, how to do the basic calculation on BP. So here’s what’s also interesting. So I know maybe we’ll cover this later, but if I’m thinking about how do I get a lender to take me seriously, how to get a hard money lender or a traditional lender, how do I get a contractor to call me back? How do I get a property manager to be good and treat me well? The same answers we’re saying for the agent thing applies to all of them, right?

Brandon:
You go up to a contractor, “Hey, I’m looking to get some work done. Can I get a bid?” They’re going to treat you like every other person that called them that. But you show up with a business plan and a model and you sit down with them, you show them charts and graphs and colors and you get back to them, you say what your budget is. I mean, you are prepared. They instantly put you on a different level. And they instantly say, “Well, this person is somebody I want to invest my time in.”

David:
This person feels light.

Brandon:
Yeah. This person feels light. Yeah, they’re not going to just make me waste my time here. So yeah.

David:
I’ll give you a story of an example of I just had a person who needed a contractor in Nevada and I asked my buddy who’s from Nevada. He gave me a name of a person they’ve used before. So now I’m already getting the experience. And this is like an ON FIRE contractor. I call him and he doesn’t answer the phone. And then I text instead and he goes, “Oh, thanks. I didn’t recognize the number.” Quick tip right there. If people don’t answer when you call, it’s probably cause they don’t know who you are and they’re getting blown up. So send a text message and let them know.

Brandon:
I don’t answer my phone ever if I don’t know the number.

David:
And that’s normal. I wouldn’t expect you to answer your phone. I should text you and say, :”I’m this person, this is what I’m looking for.” I then waited until 5:30 and called back. And then they answered. Why do you think they answered at 5:30, but they didn’t answer at 10:30.

Brandon:
They were off work.

David:
There you go. He was working, doing work when I called and then I’m going to get upset that he didn’t take my call because I didn’t get treated like royalty. And then I asked him, “Hey, were you working?” Yes. “What time do you get off work?” “Right around 5, 5:30.” :Okay, cool. I’ll try to make sure I call you at that point. Do you work for somebody else Monday through Friday and do your own side jobs?” “Yeah. That’s exactly what I do.” “Makes sense. So now I know I’m not going to ask you to do anything that isn’t going to be done after hours on a weekday or on a weekend.” I tell the person what my friend needs and I connect them with my friend. My friend then complains to me that they’ve called them three times. They didn’t answer the phone.

David:
What time did you call? And that was between 11 and 1, right? That right there, to that person, this was a bad contractor. They don’t care. They don’t want my business. I’m not going to work with them. They made zero effort to work around that person’s schedule. And it just comes down to, they didn’t understand like that guy’s got so many jobs that he could take lined up. He’s picking the best one. We want to look like we’re the best option for that person. And it’s taking a little bit of time to think about what is in their world, how do I become light to them is the difference between me getting a great response and a great interaction with that person and someone else thinking they’re a jerk.

Brandon:
Man, that’s so good. And it’s kind of convicting to me because I mean like last week I texted a contractor in the middle of the day. We texted back and forth a few times. And then at one point he just like, didn’t text back. And so I just, I haven’t texted him again. I’m just like, well, I sent him the last text. He should text me back. But the fact is he’s got multiple jobs. I have no contractors right now.

David:
And he also doesn’t know if you’re serious. He doesn’t know if you’re actually going to hire him to do the job. Does he know who you are?

Brandon:
He knows me through another one. Yeah, we worked on one of my partner’s flips.

David:
And maybe that partner did something he didn’t like so he’s looking at you from that lens.

Brandon:
Exactly right. There’s so much there, and where I’m going with this and I know you’re going with this as well is that we are in a different market than 2012 with real estate agents with getting deals. This is a market where yeah, that agent can choose a dozen different jobs. So how do you stand out? You have to stand out. 10 years ago, you did not have to do that. Every contractor was begging to work for you 10 years ago. Even the best ones were out of work. But that’s not the game today. If you got somebody begging to work for you, it means they’re probably not very good.

David:
That’s a huge red flag. That’s not a green light.

Brandon:
Yeah. If I call somebody, a contractor and I’m like, “Hey, are you available to work on a project?” And like, “Yeah, I can come out tomorrow.” I’d be like, it’s not a good thing.

David:
And everyone would, that’s the same as they go with the agent that responds right away and they’re very friendly. It’s because they’ve never sold the house and they’re desperate for money. They’re going to tell you whatever they have to do. I mean I don’t know they’re going to do that, but they’re more likely to, and they don’t have experience. Whereas the more experienced agents, they’re going to vet you a little bit. They’ve been seasoned to know. Some people talk about it and some people be about it, and they’re going to put their resources towards the more serious people. And this goes for contractors too. Those are the two hardest people to find right now. And that’s why we’re giving this advice to the listeners.

Brandon:
Yeah. All right. So let’s shift a little bit from agent and talk about contractors for a minute. I know we were going to cover that a little later on my outline, but we’re talking about it. So how do you find a good contractor? What’s the top of the funnel?

David:
Very difficult.

Brandon:
All right, good show.

David:
I think right now you start with a person that has worked with contractors before. So ask yourself the question, who do I know that either is in real estate, has lived in this area for a long time? Maybe not a house flipper, because they’re probably not going to want to share their contractor with you. But maybe the guy who owns a really big commercial building. And they need contractors to come in and fix leaks and fix drywall. And when the tenant moves out, they got to change the place around. They probably have connections to contractors that don’t work full time, especially if they’ve been doing it for 20 years. Maybe that contractor is picky with his time or her time. They’re not actually taking every single job that comes their way. And if you get a warm introduction from someone like that and they’re like, “Oh, Brandon’s good. Okay. I’ll come look at the job.”

Brandon:
Yeah. That’s really good. Two kind of cliches coming to mind, but I’ll say both, because they’re true. First one is dig your well before you’re thirsty. This applies with all of these things, but especially contractors that you’re going to need them. If you’re a real estate investor, you’re going to need a contractor. Start digging that well right now, and that means establishing relationships, finding who’s good. My buddy, Greg out here in Maui keeps a running of every single contractor in all of Maui. He just like has this giant spreadsheet. Every time he hears of one, sees a contractor, doesn’t matter. He writes down the name. He’s always prospecting these contractors and then finding little jobs to give them so he can try them out and building relationships. And this is why he was so good at flipping houses out here is because Greg just, he networks with everybody.

Brandon:
He’s always digging that well because he knows that so much success in flipping comes down to the contractors that you have. So dig your well before you’re thirsty. And the second one is the whole Abe Lincoln quote, that’s probably wasn’t Abe Lincoln. If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first four sharpening my anxiety. Finding contractors now and doing the work and the prep work and the screening and all that, it’s a lot of work upfront sometimes to find the right one. But if you’re going to do a lot of rehabs in an area, you’re going to buy a bunch of property in the area or grow your portfolio there, that work upfront to build a solid relationship is the sharpening of the ax that will then carry you forward for years and combine that with the whole Giftology methodology we talked about a few weeks ago on the show with John Runyan.

David:
I think it was Ruhlin.

Brandon:
Ruhlin, yeah, John Ruhlin like just giving things to people. That’s not bribing. You’re building relationships with cool stuff. It doesn’t have to be expensive either. Just nice things that establish good relationship with them. Those two principles are going to make sure that you have years of good contractor relations instead of relying on, “Well, I got a rehab to do tomorrow. Just closed today. Who can I call right now?” Just a tip. I mean, I’ve done that so many times and every time I’m like, why did I do this?

David:
It always happens with life. You just get busy. One of the things I like to look for when I am with the contractor, it’s usually when I’m walking the property. I don’t want an order taker. And really this philosophy goes for everything in life. The agents on my team, I’m constantly telling them, “You’re not an order taker.” When someone comes and says, “I want A and B and C and D.”, the initial response everyone has is to go find it. And then they bring it back and the investor goes, “Oh, I’ll think about it. They don’t do anything.” We didn’t stop to ask what A, B, C and D meant to the person, why it was important. You’d be amazed at probably 98% of the reason when I ask somebody, why do you want that? And they say, “Well, Brandon and David said, that’s what I’m supposed to look for.” It was like, that was a podcast from 2009. It’s completely different right now. That doesn’t make any sense. And when you don’t stop to ask the question, you don’t actually get to what is the ON FIRE one where it’s, they’re about you.

Brandon:
Yeah, they’re focused on you.

David:
Focused on you. So with the contractor, I don’t want someone who’s like, what do you want me to do? Well, I need a flooring. Okay, what kind of flooring do you want? Well, I want you to be telling me what are the options? What would work best for this area? The best contractors have done this enough, their experience that they know the cheapest way to do the job for you and they’re fine with that. They know what they’re good at and what they’re bad at. It’s in the long distance. But I say a lot of times ask them, how do you feel about tile versus laminate? Sometimes they have a bad back, bad knees. They hate doing tile. It’s going to be way more expensive for you to get tiled and laminate, but they don’t have good communication skills and they don’t tell you that.

David:
And if you say, give me a bit on tile, it’s going to be way higher than if you had said, what if we just do like a durable laminate type. Oh yeah, this can be way easier for me. So the best contractors will have a vision for the property. Hey, if you knock down this wall and you redo this, you can get two bedrooms here and turn this from a three bedroom into a four. Now, they may not know what that will rent for, but you can go figure that out. That might be a good decision. They’ll tell you, “Hey, you can add a bathroom right here, but you don’t want to put a bathroom on the other side of the house. This can be way more money and way more time to run everything over there.”

David:
So what I’m looking for is guidance and really from an agent, from a contractor, it’s the same thing. I want someone who’s telling me, this is what you can get. This is why you should do it. This is your best option. Does that work for you?

Brandon:
I went to a shoe store, I don’t know, six months ago. And I might’ve even told this on the podcast, but I’ll say it again. A shoe store here in Maui called Island Feet. So I show up there and I need some running shoes. Mine had wore a hole in the bottom or something like that. So I go there and I walk in the front door and the guy in the back kind of yells out. I would say, it wasn’t like nice old person coming over and be like, “Welcome to my store. Here’s all the shoes. Go have a good time and look around.”

Brandon:
The guy was like, he was like, “Come on in. What do you need?” I’m like, well, “I’m looking for some running shoes.” He’s like, “Okay, well you’re tall. You’re going to want to use this section over here, come over here. Don’t look at those ones over there. This is what you’re going to want. In fact, this brand right here is going to be the best one for you. In fact, let me try this on you. You look like what? 11, 12? What are you, 12, 12 and a half?” I’m like, “Yeah, 12 and a half.” He’s like, “Perfect, come on over here. This is the shoe. I’m not going to show you any other ones. This is one you’re going to buy today.” And I was like, okay, I tried it on. And I’m like, “Yeah, this is perfect.” And I bought that shoe and I didn’t even ask how much it was. It was $200, didn’t matter.

Brandon:
That guy knew his stuff. And I trusted it so much. I love that in my life when people are like that. It’s just like, they know their stuff. They’re confident.

David:
And there’s a lot of humans that are afraid to be that way because they don’t want to seem pushy, but it’s usually the opposite problem. Let’s say you walk in and there’s somebody working there and they’re like, they barely look at you and they sheepishly wave. Like, “Hey, I need some running shoes.” “Okay, we’re a running shoe store. Which one do you want?”

Brandon:
Yeah, exactly.

David:
“Well, which one do you think I want?” “Well, do you want an expensive one or a cheap one? Or I don’t really know.” That immediately, that demeanor tells you, they don’t know what they’re doing. They’re not confident in themselves. I can’t be confident in that.

Brandon:
Yeah. So important. So yeah. I love that finding that in contractors and in agents like, I would love an agent to tell me like, yeah, you don’t want to buy that one because of this reason, this is what you actually do.

David:
And see, that’s a great point because that’s how I do it. And it rubs people the wrong way a lot of the time. I have people that come to me and say, “David, I want you to find me a house that I can flip in the Bay Area. It needs to be 70% of ARV. And I want light rehab.” I was like, that will never make it to you because somebody else just needed a house to live in, period. And they’re going to pay way more than you are willing to pay. And we’re not going to do this where we write 50 offers on all these homes and you hate real estate. And I end up not giving you good service because this is taking too long.

David:
The better ways I’ll tell them, well, here’s what you can get. And here’s why it makes sense. This is what the inventory we have. This is what you’re going to have to do. This is what you’re going to pay. And in five years this is how much it’s going to be cash flowing. If they don’t like that, that’s better. They’re not going to walk forward with me. But a lot of people then go to the agent who tells them, “Oh, sure. I’ll do that.” They will spin their wheels for six months. And then they’ll decide, “I guess, real estate investing doesn’t work.:”

Brandon:
Yeah. That’s exactly how that works. All right. So we talked agent, we talked contractor. Let’s talk about what lender next?

David:
Yes, lender. So let me break down your options with the lender, because what, because I have a mortgage company now, too, when everybody asks the same question, what do you think the number one question people ask when they’re picking their lender is?

Brandon:
I was going to say interest rate.

David:
That’s exactly right. Everyone asks the question of interest rates. So I want to kind of take a minute to explain where interest rates come from and why sometimes the lowest rate isn’t the best thing. In general, most lenders are going to originate a loan for you, meaning they’re going to collect all the documentation that they need to sell that loan to someone else. And they have to show them the documentation. That’s what underwriters do. So they’re going to originate a loan at person A. Person A is going to sell it to person B. Person B is going to do whatever they do with it and all the paperwork and all the stuff we have to get together, that’s a big pain in the butt is because person B requires it because they never met you.

David:
Okay. So in order to do that, person A is going to sell the loan to person B and person B is going to pay as little as possible. So what typically happens is the person who originate the loan, the one you’re talking to, the money they make is the origination fee. That’s one way they can make money is like the points they charge you to be able to do the loan. That’s their salary. The other one is that they sell you a higher interest rate loan. They can sell that for more money to somebody else. So the first thing is you get this inverse relationship, okay? As rates go up and they make more money, they can charge you less closing costs. If you want a better rate, closing costs then go up because there’s a break even point where they can’t do the loan at all.

David:
They literally can’t sell it to somebody else if you get something too cheap. So one of the ways that companies offer lower rates is they start taking middlemen out of the process. They go to a third, another country like India, and they say our underwriters and the person you talk to is going to be there because we can pay this person $1.76 an hour. And that’s the experience you’re going to get. They’re not going to take your phone call. If there’s a problem, they’re not going to walk you through it. If God forbid that you’re actually in escrow to buy a place and it has to do it, close at a certain time, they’re not going to give you very much help. And there’s varying degrees of that. It’s not all people that work in another country, but it could just be people that aren’t good at their job, people that work in another state, where they can pay them a lot less money. So they don’t answer the phone past a certain time in California. They stopped working at two o’clock.

David:
When you look for the lowest rate, you often find either the most inexperienced lender or you find the lender that has cut out their costs to give you the cheapest rate. You’re getting Walmart. Now on a refinance, that’s not as important. If you’re willing to deal with the headache, you can get by with a cheaper on a refinance, because if it takes them 90 days to get this thing done, you’re okay, as long as rates haven’t gone up. But on a purchase, that won’t work, 30 days is a long escrow right now. Sellers are wanting it even cheaper. So if you go with the cheapest rate, because you think that you’re smart and you found the better lender, and then you get a terrible experience, you don’t close on the house at all.

David:
You lost hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars over a long period of time because you just went for rate. So that’s the first thing to look for with the lender. It’s not interest rate. Interest rate is a thing to ask, yes. It’s not the only thing that matters. What’s more important is will they close it and will they save you time? So experienced brokers or lenders know when they look at your initial file, oh, this is a problem. He gets this much income. She gets this much income from this area. The underwriter’s never going to accept that. We need to pay off this debt. We need to get you money from somewhere else. We need to move some stuff around before we submit this into underwriting, because once we do that, you might run out of time before your loan contingency has to be waived, and now your deposit is going to be at risk. So it goes back to experience.

Brandon:
So ON FIRE applies here as well. T.

David:
Hat’s exactly right. And I just see people make this mistake a lot where they just go, “What’s your rate? What’s your rate? What’s your rate? What’s your rate?” And you always get something cheaper if you go far enough down. There’s something cheaper than Walmart. You go to a flea market. Eventually you can find something cheaper, and in certain cases, a flea market’s fine. I need a pair of sandals to walk around on the beach, a flea market’s a great place to do that, but you don’t want to go buy a suit for a job interview there. So it really depends on the situation that you’re having. The other component that I would bring up when it comes to finding a good lender would be, how well are they partnering with your agent?

David:
So part of the reason that we have a mortgage company with the real estate team is that we’re writing offers on houses that may be getting 12 to 15 offers on that house. That seller can pick whoever they want. We get our lender to partner with the agent to bring the case at the same time. So it’s not just one of the agents on my team or me calling that other agent saying you should take my offer. The loan officer is calling as well and saying, “Let me tell you how amazing this buyer is. They’ve got this much money in reserves in case something goes wrong. Their downpayment’s low, but they have more they could bring in if they wanted. I just wanted to get them a low down payment, but I’ve already collected all this documentation. There’s no way that this loan isn’t going to close. This is the best borrower you’re ever going to have. And by the way, I don’t know if the agent told you they have to move. If they don’t get a house, they’re going to be homeless so they can’t back out of this deal.”

David:
We throw everything at that person to get ourselves to the top of the list. Because what I always say is if you’re the second best offer out of 12, you might as well have been the worst offer. You’re first place or you’re last. Was that Ricky Bobby?

Brandon:
Yeah, Ricky Bobby.

David:
Yeah. So how well your lender operates with your real estate agent matters.

Brandon:
Or Grant Cardone. He wrote a book. That’s funny.

David:
And a lot of people look at them like they’re completely independent components. Well, you’re my lender and you’re my contractor and you’re my agent. No, when you get into this, they all have to connect with each other. Your contractor needs to be able to get out there and give you a bid before your inspection contingency ends, which your agent is going to be managing. And the lender and the agent have to work together. And oftentimes, you want to answer phone calls from your lender when they ask you for something. But if your agent says, if you don’t get this to him, by end of day today, you’re losing the whole deal, then you will. So that chemistry is also very important when you’re picking the pieces.

Brandon:
That’s really good. Do you think just the agent should recommend the lender?

David:
That’s one of the ways you can be a better client is by saying to the agent, “Hey, who’s your preferred lender?” And not, you don’t have to use them, but talk to them. If you get a terrible vibe off of them and they’re just slimy or something, don’t use that person. But I know the agents that work with my mortgage company, they do it because we’re way better. We are going to get, and when you have nine days to get a contingency wave instead of the standard 17, how good you are really, really matters. If you just go with another lender that isn’t as good, or they don’t want to work past five, you get a lot of that. My guys are answering the phone at like 11:00 at night. They want that deal so bad. They’ll do whatever it takes. Yes, you want the agent who may have a preferred lender. And if they’re experienced, there’s a reason they’re using that one. They’ve gone through a lot of bad ones and they’ve settled on the one who’s really good that they feel most comfortable working with.

Brandon:
Lenders, one of the problems I’ve had with lenders in the past is that most lenders are salespeople. In other words, there’s a frontline guy who’s a sales guy. You go to a bank, you get this, I mean, I had this job for awhile, I went to the bank and I was a sales guy. The amount of education they gave us, knowing whether somebody would actually qualify was, do they have a pulse? Then get the application. That was the only thing we had to do to, get the application, get the application. So now I waste somebody’s time to get the application and then find out that they have seven bankruptcies in the past year. And they’ve got 4,000 kids of child support to pay. And they make no money because they have no job. I just wasted everyone’s time if I’m the banker, but it happens over and over and over. How do you prevent working with a lender and then not doing that to you.

David:
That might be the best question of this podcast.

Brandon:
Oh good. All right.

David:
That’s such a good question because every lender always says yes. This is what drives me nuts about the what’s, one of the reasons I started the company is I was so tired of people telling me, “Oh yes, Mr. Green, we can absolutely do that.” And then you get 99% of the way that, oh, it turns out, you didn’t know to tell me that your, grandmother’s sister, blah, blah, blah, this thing that you should have known. So the way that I’ll answer that question is I’ll ask you, why do you think lenders believe it’s in their best interest to tell you yes?

Brandon:
I think it’s because to them, it’s a giant funnel. Everything’s a funnel to them. So their main goal is the more people I get in the top of the funnel, the more money I’ll make at the bottom of the funnel.

David:
That’s a simple way to look at it. That’s absolutely true. But even then they don’t want to waste time putting someone in their funnel that they know isn’t going to work. So why do you think that they would be hesitant to say, “Hey, what’s going on with this part of your life? Or what’s going on over here? This could be a problem.” Anything that could be bad news that isn’t a yes?

Brandon:
I don’t know where you’re going with this.

David:
Where I’m going is that they know you’re shopping them the same way that you don’t want them doing that to you. Okay, so people are showing up to the lender and they’re like, “Man, can he just give me a straight answer?” But if his straight answer isn’t positive, you’re going to go to someone else. And that person is going to give you-

Brandon:
They want to rope you in first, get you to become a client of theirs.

David:
They’re trying to pull you in and get you to the point of committed where you’re like, “Well, this is what I’m going to use.” And then they’re willing to give you the bad news. It’s human nature. So the way that I avoid that is I don’t shop lenders.

David:
I say in the first phone call, I was told to come to you by this person. They told me that you’re the best for these reasons. They said I can expect this from you, but not expect that from you. Is that accurate? And they’ll kind of laugh and chuckle and like, “Yep. That sounds about right.” Okay. Well, that’s great. I don’t need someone who has the best personality. I just need someone that can close this deal and they said, you’re the closer. Here’s my concern. Why don’t you just give them money then to do that? Then they have to rise to that’s exactly what I’m doing. I am the closer. Now they’re going to do everything in their power to make sure we close.

David:
I’ve also given them permission to be themselves. I know you’re not the guy who’s going to blah-blah-blah. You’re not going to give me a red carpet treatment. You may not have like the nicest persona. I don’t care. I’m happy with that. I just need you to do this. I see your strengths. I see your weaknesses. I want your strengths. Then I basically assure them. I’m not going to someone else because they’re not a closer. I need you. Now that there’s like trust in our relationship, the truth will come out. You never get truth before trust. No one’s going to do that. If you’re meeting somebody and you’re interested in them romantically, and they know the minute that the fact that they’re divorced or something else comes out, that you’re running, they’re not going to tell you. And you shouldn’t expect them to tell you.

Brandon:
They’re going to rope you in first.

David:
If you like me, then I’ll tell you.

Brandon:
Then I’ll tell them the dirty thing.

David:
And isn’t that what we always complain about? Why didn’t you tell me this before I was in love with you? Because you would have left and I wanted you to. It’s the same thing that goes on in business. So one of the ways that you can avoid lenders lying to you is by assuring them, I’m not shopping you. I’m in this for the long haul. Here’s what my concerns are. Do you think this is a problem?

Brandon:
That’s really good.

David:
The last thing I’ll bring up is you’re also right at the point that typically this process is broken into several pieces and the first person you talk to knows the least, and it’s just their job to either get an application so that the person behind them can figure out if you would actually work, because they don’t have the knowledge themselves on if it would work or not.

David:
So don’t assume that whoever you’re talking to right now is the person you’re going to be working with. They could be a person who’s like, “Hey, find out if they’re serious. Bring me an application, then we’ll talk.”

Brandon:
Yeah, because they want to see the application. It’s a uniform application. Everyone’s got the same application. So get that done. What’s the good thing about that is that means you can right now, I’m talking to everyone listening, can put together your loan application right now and just keep, keep it on file. Like somebody says, “Hey, yeah. Why don’t you fill out an application? Here you go.” Now it might look slightly different. I don’t know if they have different fonts and designs for application.

David:
It’s all the same information. And you’ll hear a lot of people say, I don’t want to do it twice. It’s not as bad as you think it’s the same information that you’re going to give them. So let’s say they need your bank statement. Okay, we need a bank statement. Then four months later, you’re going to buy a house. Yes, you need to get another bank statement. But you probably learned how to use the portal on the first time. And that was super easy to go in there and get it. One of the biggest problems we have with our mortgage companies, people that don’t know how the HR department of their company works and they don’t know how to find their pay stub. They’ve never had to find it. So they go through all the work of figuring out how that goes. And then when we update a pay stub, it’s not a big deal. So don’t assume that the work you put in the first time, is always it’s going to be that hard every time after.

Brandon:
Yeah. That’s a really good point. And yeah, we talked earlier about how to become a good client to an agent. When you’re trying to be a lender, to be a good client, be responsive. This is a huge frustration for lenders is they’re like, “Hey, my underwriter says he needs a new bank statement from you.” Okay, I’ll get it to you. And then a week goes by, and then finally you get them the bank statement. And then now your closing’s pushed out for days. And you’re like stupid lender.

David:
That’s exactly what happens.

Brandon:
They blame the lender when you took a week to get that thing. So I kind of have like a policy that I operate on and I show my team to operate on. It was like, if a lender asks for a document, they have it within 20 minutes. No matter what it is, it’s there.

David:
That’s not going to be your fault.

Brandon:
It’s not my fault. Yeah. That’s what ticks me off. The other day that happened on something, what was that? It was a lender we were dealing with and we are going back and we gave him the document, again in 20 minutes rule, we got it to them. And then like, I don’t know, a week later they said, “Yeah, well, we couldn’t do it because we couldn’t get that document from you in time.” And they totally like turned it on us. I can’t remember the exact situation. It was a month or two. I was so pissed and I was so ticked off because I was like, “I gave that to you.”, because that’s what I don’t want. And they wanted to say face to whoever they CC’d on the email, but I saw it and I’m like, “Yeah, no, this was your.” But that might be the way it works.

David:
Yeah, and sopart of the reason why we want a lending team and the real estate team to work together is the realtor is motivated to close that deal even when the lender is not smart enough to know that they should be. Yeah, so what we would have done, if we were representing you is you sent that document in, the agent would have followed up to say, “Did you send it?” You would have said yes. They would have called the lender and said get his document. Oh, I didn’t check my email. I didn’t realize that was there. I opened it and forgot to do something with it. It was sitting there. The agent then catches where your lender dropped the ball. And it is a bigger funnel for lenders than it is for agents. People shop agents. But once you’re in a transaction with one, that’s who you’re going to use. You have no idea how many times people want to get pre-approved. They have the lender go through all the work of doing it.

David:
Then the lender actually helps put them in contract with our team. And then when they’re in contract, they come back and say, “Oh, I want to go use this bank over here instead.”

Brandon:
I just saw this commercial for a bank that’s giving me a quarter point lower interest rate. I’m going to go with them.

David:
That’s exactly what’s going to happen. Now, first off, that’s kind of a jerk move in a lot of ways. But second off, it’s not even in your best interest because they might not know what is going on with your file. The reason they’re cheaper is they’re not as good and they could screw the whole thing up. So what we’re getting at here guys is honestly, we’re pulling back the curtain of what goes on behind the scenes that most people don’t get a chance to see what happens on the other end of the phone call.

David:
But it’s understanding the nature of the business. They have concerns just like you have concerns. The more you know about what’s going on in their world, the better of a person you can be when you interact with them, the more likely you are to get the rock stars to work with you.

Brandon:
Yeah. That’s very true. So be a good client. Be responsive to them, getting anything and be organized. Here’s a lesson I’ve learned over the years, especially the more real estate you own. You have tons of documents. I mean, my tax returns are like hundreds of pages long. I feel like, and there’s just a million documents my lender wants. And so one, I need to be organized in my files. I use Google Drive for everything. I have Google Drive. I’ve got folders now for everything. I try to stay organized there, but then when I’m giving them to the lender, this is the common problem I have.

Brandon:
The lender will give me a list of these 35 documents. I will then send an email or I used to, I would send an email with all 35 documents attached. Then two weeks later, they’d be like, “Well, I’m still waiting on that one document.” I’m like, “No, I sent it in that big dump file.” “Oh yeah, there it is.” And then a week later, “Hey, I still need to get that one thing from you.””Nope. It’s in that original thing too.” So by me just dumping a pile of papers on their digital desk, it just messes up. So what I’ve been doing lately, is I’ll put them into one giant PDF. And then on the front of that, I’ll put like a table of contents. Here’s what all the documents are that are attached to this PDF and here’s everything you’re going to need.

Brandon:
And then in the email list, very specifically, attached you will find number one, this or I’ll label. If I’m going to upload separate files, I’ll label them like A, B, C. And so that way I’m like, if you look for the file starts with A, that’s this thing, B this thing, whatever I can do to make it easier, because here’s the truth that not just with lenders, but with everybody, that’s officially everybody, who’s a W2. They just want to get the thing off their desk for now so they can move on with their day so they can go home and go be with their families. They don’t really care that much. So they love checking off boxes. Oh, I’ll ask that person for that document. Now it’s off my plate. If you were to fire it back in five minutes, I’m like, here you go.

Brandon:
They’re like, okay, now I got to take another step here. So just keep firing back at them and they’ll keep taking steps. But they love when you take a week to get something back to them because it gives them the excuse to keep it on the bottom of their desks.

David:
It’s funny you say this because this is the talk we have with my team all the time is checking boxes feels productive and is not productive. You can be checking boxes on a path that takes you nowhere. And the other component is that every human being in a W2 world, this is part of the problem with the W2 world is subconsciously develops the goal of making as much money as I can with those lease workbooks. And if they’re getting paid hourly, they can’t make more money than they just put all their effort towards doing as least work possible.

David:
And that becomes a problem when you’re relying on that person. So I’m not saying this just to hate on W2 workers. There’s certain ones that I guess for the listeners, get out of that mindset and watch how quickly you get promoted and how quickly opportunities come your way. And then eventually you’ll go become a business owner yourself. And you’ll be frustrated by this when other people do it. But know that’s what they’re like. They’re getting paid an hourly thing or a small commission on what’s going on. They don’t know if you’re serious. They’re going to do the minimum amount of work possible just to say they’re done. But the biggest problem that we see is when we send someone hey, I need this document. And then we check the box saying, I asked for it. You didn’t get the document. Your job’s not done.

David:
You should be blowing that person up. I need the document. I need the document. I need the document. If your lender’s not doing that, you need to do it to them. I sent you this. Did you get it or assign it to somebody else? I sent you this. Did you get it? Did you get it? Did you get it? Yes. Okay. Thank you. Next time, can you just let me know that you got it? I won’t blow you up. You do that in the beginning. And most of them, they might be slightly irritated, but they’re going to put you to the top of their priority list because now you became the most work and they’re trying to do the least work possible, trying to get you off their plate. Yeah, that’s funny.

Brandon:
All right. So we talked agent, we talked contractor, we talked to lender. Let’s talk about the final four of the-

David:
Core four.

Brandon:
Core four, the final four of the core four, which is the property manager.

David:
Let me turn this around on you, because you wrote the book on managing rental property. You manage several rental properties yourself. I tend to rely on property managers so I can tell you what I look for, but I’m curious with what goes on behind the scenes. What do you think makes a good property manager?

Brandon:
I think a good property manager above all is a system like freak. They love E-Myth from Michael Gerber or Work the System from Sam Carpenter. They love like doing things the same way every single time. And it just gets done because property managers is actually a very simple business. That’s what I like about property management. I’ve thought numerous times about trying to grow a national property management brand.

Brandon:
I don’t think I ever will, because it’s fairly low margin, but I love the idea because it’s such a systematized business. It’s like McDonald’s. Very little happen that’s outside of the norm. It’s like a McDonald’s, very little happens that they haven’t dealt with many times before.

David:
That’s a good point. It can be automated.

Brandon:
Yeah. Very much of again, which is what are you doing to tenants who don’t pay rent? When does this happen? So, first thing I look for is a property manager. They’ve got to have their systems down, everything from how do you onboard people to how do you… Now they will, every property manager I’ve ever met with the interview has lied, I don’t say lied. They all tell the same story. Yeah, we use some property management software that will actually put your listings on 13 different websites, blah, blah, blah.

Brandon:
They all have the same pitch. Everyone has the exact same pitch. I don’t know if I have a good strategy other than trying them out and getting referrals for finding a great property manager, because they all say the same thing. They all say they can do it. Just like lenders. They all say they can do it. So how do you get in there? Now? A couple of things that I do look for. One, customer service is pretty important to me because tenants, I mean, yes, it’s a competitive market, but if tenants don’t like their property manager, they will find a new place to live at some point. Vacancy is I call it the silent cash flow killer because you don’t notice it.

David:
The carbon monoxide.

Brandon:
Yeah, the carbon monoxide of real estate. A vacancy of 5% vacancy, if you’re bringing in $1,000 a month is $50 every month. Over the course of a year, that’s $600 a year. That’s a substantial amount of money. And I divide that by, let’s say a five cap and you’re looking at what, 30,000, wait a minute, I’ll see five. So $600 times 10 would be 6,000. So $12,000 in loss value of your property because you go that. So if you’re jumping from a 5% to a 10% or 10%, 15% vacancy, because people are moving out constantly and even more than that, it’s the repairs every time that they leave.

David:
That’s what I was going to ask you. As I’ve had an experience with a proper manager who says, “Hey, this thing broke, we’re going to send a handyman by.” Or “Hey, this thing went down. I told the tenant, they need to take care of that themselves.” Like we had, I remember one time a tenant complaining about a leak or a plugged toilet. Of course it’s always a plugged toilet. And I told the property manager, “Well, why am I paying for it?””Well, that’s something that you’re really supposed to take care of on your side.” So the plumber goes out and he takes a picture of a stuffed animal that was pushed down the toilet. And I was like, “Are you telling me that I snuck in their house mill and I put this in there and flushed the toilet? They need to pay for that.” The right property manager will go to the tenant and explain to them, “You’re going to have to pay for this.” And now maybe the tenants are more likely to solve their own problems than just going to me because I’m the one with all the money. It’s easier to get money out of me than the other tenant. Would you agree?

Brandon:
Yes. Yeah, 100%. And the plumbing thing is a good example. I like to look at the property manager’s lease. Now, if you’ve never been in real estate before, you’re a solo entrepreneur here. You’re not going to know what a great lease is and what isn’t, but a good example of a great lease would say in there, like plumbing prop backups that are caused by the tenant are your responsibility. And that would just be a like in the lease or at least a super long and, and thought out because of that. Now, by the way, if you pick up a copy of the book Heather and I wrote the, what’s it called? The Book on Managing Rental Properties, I’m stuck on the Multifamily Millionaire looking at it here, but yeah, the Book on Managing Rental Properties, which should include our lease right there with it that we compiled from adding, like looking at a dozen different leases from different BiggerPockets top users, and then put all the right clauses and had lawyers review it and then made it a lease.

Brandon:
So anyway that, we want it to be a good lease. The other thing is this, every property manager is great when things are going good. Everyone is great because it’s the easiest job in the world. They automatically get rent collection, comes in automatically. There’s no problems, so whatever. So oftentimes you don’t know how a property is going to be until things go bad. So here’s what I would say to that. One test out, if you have a larger portfolio, test out several property managers and see who you jive with better. Some people are just going to be better at communication, at getting you stuff than others. In my mind, the best property manager is one that I never talk about or hear about or think about. I just don’t deal with them.

Brandon:
And so I actually have a pretty good one in Grace Harbor right now. I mean, I manage a lot in house, but I hired one of my properties out to a property manager. I never hear from them. I get an email once a month that shows me what goes on. And I see once in a while there’s a vacancy and then it gets filled back up again. And I see once in a while repairs and it’s taken care of. I love that. So when there’s problems, but anyway, here’s where I’m going with the problem thing is when you look for referrals from people, don’t just ask a general question like, “Hey, I heard you used [inaudible 01:01:19].” Get referrals. You have to get the recommendations from other people. But don’t just ask for yeah, I do like them or whatever. We’ve talked about this on recent shows too, where people tend to be kind of like, they don’t want to get sued.

Brandon:
They don’t want to be in trouble. So they’ll just tell you. Yeah. They’re, they’re fine. They’re good. They don’t want to be mean or like the property manager, but dig into problems from those people, like when you’re talking to a referral is like, yeah has anything ever gone really wrong with your rental property? Have you ever had an eviction? Have you ever had a massive water leak? Because most landlords will have those. So when you’re talking to [inaudible 01:01:49] from somebody asking about the bad things that happened and how did the property manager deal with it, specifically I’d want to know things like how long, I mean, the biggest problem a landlord’s going to have is that unit getting trashed or an eviction. Those are typically the two biggest problems we deal with. The property manager really doesn’t have a lot of control if there’s a water main that breaks into the house, like yes, they can fix it, but I’m more worried about the eviction. Are they going to enforce rent? That kind of stuff.

Brandon:
So does do their evictions take 30 days or are they taking 45 days or 60 days? They will all tell you that they’re late policy is oh yeah. After the fifth day or 10th day, whatever the legal is, we issue notice, but do they really? So ask those questions? Have you had a tenant ever pay rent late? What did the property manager do? Digging into that stuff and help a lot. I also think if they’re very accommodating, like whatever you want, just tell me what I’ll do. I’ll do it, and they’ll be making up for lack of experience with personality. That feels good when we’re the one talking to them. Wow, they’re doing whatever I say. They’re bending over backwards for me. If they’re being accommodating with the tenants, “Hey, whatever you need, just please rent my place out. Yeah, we won’t raise the rent on you too much or whatever.”

David:
They’re empowering the person who typically needs the most structure they need. What you want is a proper manager that tells your tenant, “You want to rent this house. That’s great. Here’s the rules. Boom, boom, boom. I’m going to call you on this day. You’re going to give me this much. If you do this, this is what you’re going to get. It’s not personal. This is the way it’s going to go.”, and then actually enforces it. And I think that’s probably what I’ve heard you described when it comes to managing properties is if you give a little bit of slack, it doesn’t buy you something back. They’re not like, wow, he was so cool. I’m going to be good to him. It’s if you give a mouse, a cookie, can I ask for a little bit more?

Brandon:
Yeah. I’ve had that over and I will say this, most property management problems are not the property manager’s fault or your fault, the landlord’s fault because you didn’t train them right. You didn’t follow up with them. And I’ll preface this. I will tell a story about a terrible property manager I had, I bought this apartment in Ohio and I still say it was my fault for not following up more often. But they still were a terrible property manager. And the reason what made them bad was things like a vacancy unit would go empty. They couldn’t find a contractor to come in and work on it. It took two months to get the unit even fixed up or turned over. And then after that, it took them six weeks to get it rented out. That should not be the case.

David:
That’s a very low standard of performance.

Brandon:
It’s very low standard of performance. So had I talked to a bunch of landlords ahead of time who had used that person, I would have found that they were just in every way they were slow. It goes back to a conversation with W2 earlier. When they’re W2 employees, they just don’t care that much. And people are thinking, well, they should because they only get paid when the unit’s rented. Yeah, they get paid 10% of like an $800 a month rent. They get $80 or whatever it is. They make money at scale by having hundreds of units. So they just do not care about your one property or your two or your three. They just do not care. But they care about their entire portfolio as long as all of them are going.

Brandon:
And so sometimes it’s really hard to find that person because they will lie to you to begin with. And everyone thinks they’re amazing. And everyone wants to be the hero in their story, but they’re just not. So that’s why it’s one of those hire slow fire fast. But I also spread out, I try to find different property managers and if they don’t work, get rid of them and find somebody new.

David:
I think the common denominator that I see in these situations with the investor or the clients or whatever in the relationship is they adopt an attitude of, “Well, if I’m good to you, you’ll be good to me.’ I made that mistake in the beginning of my career, my team members make that mistake all the time. There’s this aspect of human nature that just wants to believe, look, if I’m just nice to, you can be nice to me and we can make it work.

David:
And that never works. People are not motivated solely by how nice you are to them. They’re motivated by what’s in their own best interest. And if that property manager doesn’t have good systems and they’re lazy and they don’t really know what to do, or they don’t know how to hold, they don’t know how to run a tight ship, it’s going to bleed over into your property. So I don’t value the niceness as much as show me your track record. Show me how you’ve done this before. When this happened, what did you do? And I’m expecting bullet points, boom, boom, boom. This is how we handle it.

Brandon:
Yeah, that’s really good stuff. And again, property managers, they’re difficult. Contractors can be difficult. That’s why we’re in this game is we’re putting together a lot of difficult situations and people and problems, and we’re putting it all together in this big blender. And we’re trying to make a nice tasting smoothie out of it. And it’s not always, that’s why we get paid. And that’s when you get paid. And so this episode today that we’re talking about these core four, this is for those solar entrepreneurs and how to put together that perfect team for you.

Brandon:
But next episode we’re going to do is we’re going to talk about if you want to scale, if you want to have a larger team, you want to bring in team members, whether it’s employees, whether it’s interns, whether it’s commercial brokers, things like that, how do you scale your business and who do you need for that? So we’re going to cover that in part two here probably next week. I think it will come out next week. So stay tuned for that one. And I don’t even want to do get out of here. We don’t really need to do the famous four, I guess, because I mean, we could today. Any books that you’ve been reading lately? I was going to ask you that at least.

David:
I haven’t read a book in a few years. It’s been a long time. I don’t know how to read anymore.

Brandon:
You’ve been reading the Multifamily Millionaire Volume One.

David:
I heard your book is crushing it actually. Every time I think I wrote a good book, you write a better one. You’re always pushing the bar.

Brandon:
All right. That’s what my goal is to raise the bar. Yeah. I’ve been reading a book called Multipliers. Just started that one. Yeah. It’s good. I’m only like two chapters in, but it’s how to be a better leader and get people around you doing more work to produce more because you are a multiplier of talent, not a drainer of talent. So anyway. All right, everyone. So go check out the show notes. You can find those at biggerpockets.com/show, whatever number this was. I don’t even know. So just look that up. You can also leave comments on below the YouTube video, if you’re watching it there. If you’re watching this on YouTube, don’t forget to give the little thumbs up button, subscribe to our channel for more content like this. And again, check out next week’s episode where we’ll be talking about how to build a team when you want to scale. So that’s all I got. Anything you want to close with?

David:
No, sir.

Brandon:
All right, well get us out of here.

David:
This is David Greene for Brandon Bend Over Backwards Turner, signing off.

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In This Episode We Cover:

  • What the “Core 4” is and why it’s crucial for all real estate investors
  • How to find an agent using BiggerPockets’ agent directory
  • What agents can do to find clients that will close many times over
  • Why you should never “just go for the rate” when comparing lenders
  • Why a great property manager should be out of sight and out of mind
  • Choosing a contractor who ISN’T just an “order taker”
  • And So Much More!

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