One of the most powerful marketing tools you’ll ever use for your real estate investing business is something that’s free, takes virtually minutes, and requires no materials or creative skills.
It’s simply this: Your ability to connect with others.
Think about it this way – words and conversations are free. And if people have a good opinion of you, and an idea of what you do professionally, they’ll likely approach you with information or referrals that could lead to great deals or more connections.
Before we work through the details of this stellar free real estate marketing strategy for making connections, I want to briefly touch on what we’ve learned so far about marketing and deal-getting strategies. (Make sure you check out Part 1 of finding off-market real estate deals, if you missed it.)
Even if you have a marketing budget available, I’d still recommend taking advantage of free real estate marketing strategies. The more the better, right?
So for today, we want to explore how to market yourself to others and build referral partner connections to make the most out of these relationships.
Professional partnerships are indispensable to real estate investing success.
One of the first things you can do when you’re scouting for an off-market real estate deal is to find other wholesalers to source deals from.
Now, of course, if you’re pursuing wholesaling yourself, this won’t be your #1 go to source of deals. But if you’re buying deals to fix/flip or to rent, wholesalers can be your best source of deals. I source many deals regularly from wholesalers.
My take: I’d much rather let someone launch huge marketing campaigns, screen phone calls, negotiate with sellers and do all the legwork, and then lock up deals. If I can pay a wholesaler a $5k or $10k fee for a great deal, I do that all day long and spend my time on what I do best (developing projects).
So, find out which wholesalers are the best in your area – those are the pros you want to build a relationship with. And don’t hesitate to talk to the wholesalers who are just starting out. Even if they don’t have large deal flow now, they may soon. And you want to be the person they call when they do get an off-market real estate deal that fits your investment criteria under contract!
So, when it comes to real estate wholesalers, how do you find them in your area?
You know those “We Buy Houses!” signs you see alongside highways and near your grocery store parking lot? Call those guys and gals.
Or – bringing this into the 21st century – simply do a Google search for wholesalers in your area.
If you’re the face-to-face type, find wholesalers at your local Real Estate Investment Association (REIA) meetings.
When you’re interacting with a wholesaler, give them your investment criteria, so they know what type of house you’re looking for: price point, neighborhood, condition, etc. Then, voilà, they can go out and find the house for you.
The more specific your investment criteria, the better the chances are that someone will bring you a deal. So don’t be vague when speaking to these people.
This is another one of my favorites. Bird dogs are basically people you hire to drive around or scout areas and bring you leads on properties that may have motivated sellers behind them (vacant properties, properties in poor condition, abandoned properties, etc). You pay them a finders fee for every lead they bring you that closes (usually between $500 and $1000 per deal).
Bird dogs can find the “For Sale By Owner” signs and the burned-out landlords. They can drive around different neighborhoods and write down the address of every house with boarded up windows, overgrown grass, “no trespassing” signs, or any other evidence of a property in distress. It’s like outsourcing your lead generation, but you don’t pay per lead or per phone call. They only get paid when you close the deal.
How do you find your bird dogs? I’d recommend posting an ad on Craigslist – preferably in the Jobs section. It’s a great part-time opportunity for the right person. List the flat fee they’ll be paid, the desired property type details, and additional information on discounts, purchase preferences, etc.
Be forewarned, though, that you’ll likely receive a boatload of responses to your ad. Be prepared to sift through them to uncover which bird dogs are the best.
Action Item: Another way to find the best bird dogs is to print up referral cards (like the examples below) that includes the same basic information as your Craigslist ad, plus your contact info, of course. Print these through an easy-to-use website like Vistaprint (which is also super cheap), and hand them out to potential new bird dogs.
Here are some examples of what your referral card could look like. The first is from We Buy Houses Chicago. The second and third examples are the front and back of my business card.
So, bird dogs will be a vital resource, but you’ll want to form relationships with other worthwhile connections too in order to fortify your business…
Remember those referral cards I suggested you give to bird dogs? You’ll also use them with other people.
Remember, this is all about relationships. Utilize everyone you come into contact with – you’d be stunned by how many people have friends, family members or clients who are desperate to sell their homes or know of a deal.
“Succeeding in business is all about making connections.”
Here are a several other people I’d recommend building referral partner relationships with – many of whom you may not have even thought about:
These folks are the people who know people. They sometimes work with individuals who are frantic over getting their tax returns or those who are desperate to sell their homes. Tax people can often connect you with sellers you may never have found otherwise.
Go with me on this one… hair dressers often know the details of their clients’ lives, and they see people who are trying to sell their houses all the time or know someone who is.
Explain to the stylist that you’re a real estate investor looking for deals, and then give them your referral card. Better yet – ask them to tape your card to their mirror or offer a stack of cards that they can hand out to their clients. It’s a free real estate marketing strategy – and it’s effective.
Plus, your hairdresser can benefit from the flat-fee payment if you close a deal with one of his/her clients.
These are the professionals who specialize in fire or water damage restoration and other cleanup services. A lot of times, these specialists are coming into contact with people who are under a lot of stress and who are just trying to make the best of their living situation – but they might be anxious to sell. So be sure to share your referral card with servpro techs.
Anyone who delivers mail or packages on a daily basis is going to know which houses are vacant, which ones are being rented and which ones need work. These folks also interact with gobs of people every day – they can be a hugely valuable resource for referrals.
Now this one is a little different. City inspectors are out writing tickets or imposing fines on properties that have tall grass, damaged windows and other code violations. They might not be able to accept your referral fee – because of the nature of their job, a payment could be misconstrued as a bribe. BUT, you might find that they’re willing to give you these referrals without expecting any compensation in return. Even better, right?!
These professionals tend to show up at a property when someone isn’t paying their utilities (given, some of those people might be renters). But homeowners who don’t keep their water, gas or electric on might be very motivated sellers. So, meter readers can be another fantastic source for referrals.
Once in a blue moon, the employees at these “insta-loan” businesses work with people who are struggling to make their house payment. These may be individuals who are determined to get out of their house payments altogether.
They’re in the know because they’re often working with people who are relocating. Enough said.
In some cases, people sell their valuable items at pawn shops because they’ve hit a financial rough patch and need quick cash. And they could be ready to sell their property as well – and the pawn shop worker might know about it.
These companies use a vehicle owner’s car title as collateral in exchange for a cash loan. The customers who frequent these auto title loan places are often in a tight spot, and may be desperate to sell their homes.
When other people bring you leads and deals, it costs you nothing but a little bit of time to evaluate each deal and figure out if it’s worth pursuing. These can be the best leads for off-market real estate deals because often nobody else knows about them.
Remember, Never Stop Marketing (NSM) and it’s All About Relationships (AAR)!
In my next post, I’ll start off with one of the most consequential market-related resources: Realtors. Plus, I’ll cover finding foreclosures, tips for making offers, driving for dollars and more. A lot more, actually.
Talk again soon,
I’ve only scratched the surface of all the people who could be resourceful referral partners. Who do you connect with to find real estate deals? Talk to me in the comment box below.