Kyle is a founder and managing partner at H L Homes, a Houston based real estate investment company, founded in 2011.
He and his partner, Eric, formed their LLC to start flipping houses as a side gig. In 2014, though, the business expanded into a larger business to grow it and make it official. When Kyle first quit his job, the situation became “how do I monetize this and start making money quickly?” He started heavy marketing and going to appointments, but their buyers list was growing from the start. His first move became to network with other investors throughout the Houston area to meet other wholesalers. He would ask for their biggest problem and be there to fill their issues. Buying houses from wholesalers that no other investors wanted became their niche area, and generated lots of revenue in their first year.
The tactics depend on the wholesaler or the other investor. Sometimes, they’re just looking for exposure. At that point, Kyle and his partner just look for a percentage of the fee. As long as the other investors are happy and continue sending deals to them, they want to make it as equitable as possible. There are also a few investors who are just looking to entirely wholesale the property, in which case Kyle and Eric take it on and become the assignees for the property.
What contracts in place do you have? Is it just trust built?
It depends on the individuals. When Kyle first started marketing deals to people, it was exclusively a trust thing. The majority of people are honest, that’s just how business works. If you’re helpful, you will get help in return. The few people who were either dishonest, or didn’t close the deals, ended up parting ways with Kyle.
A few years in, the title company gets invoiced for either a set amount or percentage depending on what got negotiated. If H L Homes took it, it would be a standard assignment. Because of the invoice to the title company, you know you’ll be paid at the closing. Definitely something to keep in mind. No title company will close a property without fulfilling the invoice. “Shout out to Allegiance Title Sugar Land!” We know the title company wouldn’t turn their backs on an invoice.
Why are you transitioning away from wholesaling?
There are several things that lead up to that transition.
H L Homes started taking feedback from their sellers. “Of course, we thought we were great,” Kyle said, “but how can we make it better?” What they found is that what a seller wants more than anything is to be respected and be told the truth, and to have as few inconveniences as possible.
Start off being honest with intentions when it comes to price, and if it doesn’t work then we can market to other investors with different buy criteria. There are other wholesalers saying they would close on a property, and then not come through. Kyle found that they were losing deals by being honest when others were closing by not being honest. Going on a private money raise and tweaking the buy model helped them to be able to buy fast to help the sellers.
Being able to take properties down to wholesale gives Kyle more time with the properties. Because of this, Kyle is able to access different buyers because of the time allowed to advertise the market to.
Have there been times when you’ve lost money for taking down the prices?
Short answer: yes. It’s going to happen, but not frequently. Usually, money isn’t lost on “short take downs”. Typically, it’s on rehabs where estimates are done wrong, or a contracting issue comes up. Most of the time, the worst case scenario is already known. There are the buyers who have bought from us in the past, so we know what to sell to them. Because Kyle knows his buyers, the confidence in closing is significant.
What’s the process after closing?
As long as they have access to the property before hand, they try to do pre-market, however, most things are done at the same time. Listing, blasting to the buyers list, etc. Whatever the property will be sold for at open market value is what Kyle and his business sell for, which makes great deals for the end buyers and his business.
As far as listing, H L Homes does it themselves. There are 7 people in-office who all have different jobs to do. Eric, Kyle’s business partner, is on the sales side. Most of what happens in the business is done in-house. “Except our online marketing,” Kyle says, “LeadPropeller does that for us.”
All of the property management, construction management, etc. is all done in-house. The long answer is: they manage sales, closing, and acquisitions in house.
This is the answer to a Flipping Junkie Podcast #Just Ask question. Erik Drentlaw asked what my exact direct mail strategy is.
While I think it’s true that you need to become an expert at one thing before moving on to another is a great strategy, with highly specific things like online marketing, it’s best to let the experts take over. If you need to focus on becoming the expert at direct mail, do it! But allow the people who are already experts at SEO and PPC to manage that side for you. That way, you’re getting the benefit of both online and off-line marketing without wasting your time trying to learn strategies for both.
Erik, I see that you mentioned you have a competitor website but would have liked to switch. You still can! In fact, we have a team of professional PPC and SEO experts here who would gladly manage your online marketing so that you can focus on direct mail. That way, your business will benefit from marketing on two fronts. These guys manage my PPC marketing, so I can promise you they’re great.
As far direct mail goes, we’ve done something like $80k+ on direct mail in the last 12 months. I have absolutely no problem sharing my direct mail strategies. There seems to be some level of secrecy when it comes to asking about direct mail strategies, as if some investors are doing things that no one else would think about. The truth is, direct mail strategies doesn’t vary that much.
What is rare is people actually doing it and sticking to it. It’s difficult to keep it up, but as long as you do it and stay consistent, it’ll pay off in the end. Just stick to what’s being taught, and actually do it
The biggest list we mail to is the high equity list. This is key. Mail to owner-occupied, and absentee-owner high equity direct mail list, targeting ages 45+ of the household. That demographic has been the highest converting as far as direct mail is concerned.
The next question becomes, “Where do you get that list?” You can get this information from ListSource.com, you can get your rates down by calling and asking. Definitely do that. You go into the site, and specify the types of properties you’re looking for in your target area. Look in your farm area, the spot where you expect most of your leads to come from. Choose the property value next. Don’t go high-end properties; you should limit the appraised value to just above medium home price to avoid the crazy expensive ones. After that, you target equity.
There are two ways to do equity targeting:
1. Mortgage Amount
2. Equity percentage.
Stick with equity percentage. We tend to go with 50% equity because you want the seller to have enough equity to actually be able to sell to you instead of needing to go through a 3rd party. This helps you to weed out any bad leads before you start pooling.
What it takes in direct mail is money. The people who are succeeding are spending lots of money. Just from this list that we have, and sending direct mail, we’ve got about 12 leads this year from direct mail. To make direct mail a success, you need to get a large enough number of calls to justify the amount you’re spending on it.
We’re sending out roughly 10k - 20k postcards a month, spending about $5k per deal (which is a little more than I would like to be spending). But we want the deal volume, so we’re spending it to get it.
The key to success with direct mail is to keep your list decent enough, but not too big. If it’s too big, you’re going to not be able to mail enough because it’s going to be too expensive. As far as what to put on your postcard, you need to include:
Branding is super important, and not enough investors know about it. You need to make sure your postcard is unique to your business and stands out to your motivated sellers. The reality is, you’re not the only one in your market mailing, so you’re probably not the only piece of mail that they get. Avoid looking like spam by making your postcards individualized.
On that same note, you need to have a large pool to mail to. Don’t just be sending out 200 letters a month and wonder why you haven’t heard anything. The minimum you should be mailing is 1,000/month, but even that’s a little low depending on your city and market size.
It’s very easy to make your own postcards. That helps your business stand out from all of the others that are just using templates. You don’t need fancy software, goto Canva.com and design your own for free. What we do to get them mailed out is we go to a local print and mail house, tell them how many we want, and negotiate prices from there. As long as you get it out and in front of people, you’ll be in the clear. Make sure you give them variable printing so that each postcard is individualized so that your leads feel like you mailed personally to them.
We mail roughly 45 days apart to the different lists. Remember, you have to spend money to make money. Direct mail is an investment, just like everything else. Work on your acquisitions skills to get them under contract. My friend, John Martinez, has a lot of sales training on that sort of thing. Check out his stuff in the links.
Don’t neglect online leads, either. If you want, reach out to us at Sales@LeadPropeller.com so that you can let our experts manage it for you. Or, call (210) 999 5187. Our pros here would be more than happy to help manage your PPC to get you quality leads online.
If you have a question that you want answered, post it in the group with the hashtag #JustAsk, and tag me @DannyJohnson. I’ll make a podcast episode to answer your question for you!
Thank you again for the question, Erik. Hope this helped!
I'm the youngest of 4 daughters and I grew up in rural Pennsylvania. Being the favorite child has given me an overabundance of confidence, which I use to my advantage quite often. (My sisters will kill me for saying that, but only because it's true. :)). I've always been an exuberantly tenacious person, setting stretch goals and moving on to the next one.
Looking back at my life I find certain experiences really stand out. I spent my junior year of high school as a congressional Page, working and living in DC running errands for Congress. It was a truly amazing experience and I'm sad the program doesn't exist anymore. (But the fiscally conservative side of me totally gets it.)
I went to WPI for mechanical engineering on an ROTC scholarship, where I met my husband and some of my amazing best friends. When I graduated I became a US Naval Officer. My dream was to be a pilot, but unfortunately my eyes disagreed; instead I served on an Aircraft Carrier. It was a great consolation prize, and even though it was incredibly tough at times, I will treasure it.
After about 4 years in the Navy, I got a job as an engineer working in the energy arena, helping to build a power plant to support aircraft carriers stationed in Japan, and then a bunch of other awesome projects. I felt way out of my league and also incredibly excited to be a part of something so massively cool. I worked with that company for 7 years, and again was fortunate to be around some seriously amazing people.
When my 3rd daughter was born, I decided to spend less time traveling and more time at home. We bought our first rehab, which was a hoarder house that we essentially gutted, and I was hooked. Making ugly things pretty is my favorite. The first year I flipped 3 houses, the second year I flipped 6, and then I moved up to one a month and started building out a team to support that. This year we're on track to do 20+ flips and a few wholesales, as well as venturing into the rental arena.
As an aside - It's crazy that I always feel like the little fish because I keep moving to bigger ponds. If you had told me 3 years ago where I would be now, I would not believe it. But here I am, and it still doesn't feel like "enough"!
Getting the Money - Susan Lassiter-Lyons
12 Week Year
This is the answer to a Flipping Junkie Podcast ‘Just Ask’ question. Steve L. asked: How do you avoid offending motivated sellers when making an offer.
Great question! The biggest issue with real estate is that it’s such an emotional thing for the sellers to be going through. It’s a difficult thing to deal with.
My first thought was, you’ve got the wrong mindset. If you think you’re going into a deal, or talking to a lead, with the idea that you’re offending them, you need to change your approach. You should always be presented as a problem solver, as an investor who is there to help them out of their situation. Helping them out of those problems with a genuine interest in helping the sellers out.
If you go into talking with the leads only thinking about the price points, then you probably will offend them. Some people will get offended with a low offer on their house, but at the end of the day you’re there to help them.
There was something from Brian Buffini’s podcast about listening. It boiled down to 2 things:
1. People do things for logical reasons
2. People do things for emotional reasons - the reason they typically won’t say.
When you’re helping a seller, you need to get to the core of the reason for why they’re selling their house. And, like we said above, selling a house is an emotional thing. So the more you can present yourself as someone who’s there to help them through their situation, the more likely they are to work with you, and the less likely they are to get offended.
Not every seller wants the most money they can get for the property. There have been lots of sellers who have sold to us for lower than what someone else was offering because we got down to the emotional reason for their sell and were there to help them out of it. If you can learn this, then you’re golden.
You need to go into each deal with this in mind:
1. You’re there to genuinely help them through their problem.
2. Find the emotional core reason for why they’re selling their house.
Bonus tip if you’re wondering “well how the heck do I get to that?!”
Ask them what they’re most worried about with the selling of this property. Ask what’s on their mind. If you don’t ask questions then you won’t understand why they want to sell, and what problems their having with selling.
The question, “How do I not offend a seller?” is a misunderstanding of how the process should work. You need to go into leads without any assumptions on why they’re selling. The amount of money the house is worth isn’t always the core reason for selling.
When you walk into a property, don’t assume who’s in charge. Listen to everyone attached to the house, they’re sharing the same concerns. It’s your job to be there to help them. Often times, the spouse not saying anything is the one who’s in charge, so be sure you’re talking to everyone.
If you understand these core ideas and game changers, then you won’t offend anyone.
Thanks for the question, Steve!
If you have question you want answered, post it in the Flip Pilot Group on FaceBook with the hashtag #JustAsk. Stay tuned for more answers!
Craig S. Cody is an ex-NYC cop and certified public accountant of 17 years, he's a certified tax coach and business owner in his own right. Here's a few things he can speak on (one sheet also attached).
Cody has worked with a lot of businesses through out his life. The best practices he has seen, and the 3 practices that don’t tend to be done right, are here. So let’s take a look at the 3 Proactive Tax Practices:
People go out and buy a car and spend time researching it, but not looking at the tax codes on it. The average person doesn’t plan.
Are you holding your business in your name? Real Estate is best held in an LLC, but you need to talk to your own attorney to see. If it’s in a corporation, there could be tax issues when or if you go to sell.
This could be as simple as having your kids go to the properties to mow the lawn, or clean. If you’re paying them a reasonable amount, they don’t have to pay taxes on it. Their pay comes out of your income, which lowers your taxes, and they don’t have to pay taxes. It’s a win-win!
- What is the biggest mistake real estate investors make regarding taxes?
Typically, most real estate is held in a LLC. The reason for this is because as a real estate investor you fall under “ordinary income”. Basically, it’s short-term capital gain. If you’ve been in for a while, it’s just ordinary income
Some investors treat it all like it’s short-term capital gains. The problem with this thinking is the expenses of operating a business are subject to 2% threshold on schedule 8 of your tax return. They’re also subject to alternative minimum tax. This is a problem because, if you make too much money, they get added in without you getting the benefit of them.
If you do it properly, and actually in the business, then you don’t deal with those itemized deduction. The lesson is to ALWAYS document what you’re doing. This is something where we saved a client almost $80k because they were reporting their income incorrectly. More often than not, you’re in a better position by having your real estate investing business as an LLC instead of a corporation.
-Why not be a part of a C-Corporation?
A C-Corporation has the first $15k taxed at 15%. Getting that money out when you sell the property is double taxation. It’s just not efficient for a real estate investor to be a part of a C-Corporation. I just doesn’t help this kind of business.
However, if you’re using a C-Corp to manage your properties, it could work better. The best practice is having multiple LLC.
Here’s a story: There was a client who was a private business, not even an LLC, who was sued for mold injuries. The house was valued at $25k, and the verdict was $155k+ with interest. She had a pretty significant portfolio, and everything was attacked. If you umbrella it under one large LLC, you’d be safer.
- What are the tax write-offs real estate investors miss?
As a flipper, you can write off a lot of things since you’re being run as a normal business.
For example, if you have a home gym or a pool, that can be written off as a work rec area. The space you work in at your home is your home office. The gas you spend going to and from properties and locations can be written off as work expenses. Medical bills that are paid out of pocket can be written off as well.
Let’s talk about the home office for a bit, though. Take the space that you use to work in, in square feet, and compare it to the rest of the house. Let’s say your home office is 8% of your houses’s square footage. That means that 8% all of your utilities can be deducted in your taxes as a work expense: electricity, water, air conditioning, internet, etc. Your real estate taxes can be written off with that 8% as well. As long as there’s an office used exclusive to your business, it can be written off. Retirement plans can be worked in as well. If you’re working on your own, you can make a self appointed retirement plan. Food and entertainment can also be deducted.
Just keep track of your expenses. Make sure you’re keeping your receipts and keeping track of everything. Do it as you go instead of trying to pull things up at the end of the year.
-What are the limitations of the arms length transaction and self directed IRA.
The whole thing can be contributed to the LLC. Which means, the LLC owns that property. You cannot, yourself, do work on that property or it becomes an issue. You can, however, act as a lender in your own LLC. As long as you don’t have active involvement in the property, then it won’t be an issue.
Active involvement means that you, yourself, cannot be doing repairs with your hands. If there’s something you can pay someone else to do, get them to do it. IF you’re working on your own properties, you’re jeopardizing your involvement in the IRA. You can lend to other investors, as long as their not family. Tend to stay away from family!
The interests rates are subject to typical rules, 8 - 10% + a piece of gain, secure by real estate. However, this all depends on the investor. The better the track record, the less you’ll have to give and visa versa.
- What is Cross Segregation?
Let’s use a rental property worth $100k as an example. Typically, you would depreciate that building over 27.5 years. Let’s say your depreciate expenses are roughly $4k a year.
When you do a cross segregation strategy, the building gets broken up into parts. Take the property that would be depreciated over 3 years, 5 years, and so on, and depreciate it faster. Which means, over 27.5 years you’re still getting the $100k worth, but in the first few years you would 20% more expense from depreciation because it’s accelerating. From a tax perspective, that’s money that isn’t being taxed. That’s the smarter way to go for the best gains in your business.
Focus, focus, focus. That’s the key to success.
You don’t want to be distracted by your first ideas. You need to stay focused when it comes to growing your business so that you’re on top of your game.
The steps to staying focused isn’t that difficult. Here’s what we do to stay focused:
Hunting leads can be difficult to find, we know. Searching on the MLS can be exhausting. The biggest mistake an investor can make is staying in their comfort zone. If you only ever do bandit signs, how are you going to generate consistent deals?
That was just an example, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with bandit signs. But you need to focus in on at least one method - direct mail, bandit signs, PPC, SEO, online marketing, driving for dollars, etc. - and become an expert at that.
Send out as much as you can, be active. The more you do, the more you’ll learn. Stay hyper focused, gather data, find a way to turn it into a system, become the master at it. Only then should you move on to the next thing. In no time, you’ll be an expert at every aspect of real estate investing. At the end of the day, you need to be making progress.
In these podcast episodes coming up, we’re going to be having an open Q & A with you guys. Your questions are important to us. It’ll help you learn, but it will also help us to know what it is you’re struggling with so that we can make content that’s helpful for growing your business.
Have a burning question to build your business? Just ask! The steps are easy:
There’s no such thing as a bad question. Anything that you’re curious about, we’ll help you through it. Let’s stay focused, let’s become experts, and let’s make progress in building our businesses!
Danny and Melissa share the secret to the massive growth in their flipping business over the last year.
The story begins several years ago when they were wearing all of the hats in their business. They were killing themselves trying to do it all.
Danny shares how he met Justin and learned how to scale his business without having to do everything.
This episode shares the story and shows how you can do the same.