This is episode #381, and my guest today is Don Costa.
One great way to learn the real estate investing industry is from others that have come before you. Don had a thriving business, and lost it all during the last market downturn. After struggling with what to do next…and after licking his wounds for a bit…he picked himself up and refocused on what he knew best…real estate investing. Over the past few years, Don has built a more successful and profitable business than ever before.
Today Don shares his lessons learned of how to navigate up and down markets, and how to build a business that can weather the storms you’re facing…whether it’s expanding and growing your business, or just getting started in your investing business.
Let’s go ahead and get started…please help me welcome Don Costa to the show!

Highlights of this show

  • Meet Don Costa, veteran real estate investor.
  • Learn how after crashing with the last market, Don was able to come back to build a stronger real estate investing business than ever before.
  • Join the discussion on the importance of having the right team in place to build your investing business.
  • Listen in as Don shares the importance of keeping capital on hand, not getting over leveraged, and using the right systems and processes.

Resources and Links from this show:

Listen to the Audio Version of this Episode

FlipNerd Show Transcript:

Mike: This is the Expert Real Estate Investing Show, the show for real estate investors whether you’re a veteran or brand new. I’m your host, Mike Hambright, and each week, I bring you a new expert guest that will share their knowledge and lessons with you. If you’re excited about real estate investing, believe in personal responsibility, and taking control of your life and financial destiny, you’re in the right place.
Hey, this is episode number 381, and my guest today is Don Costa. Now, one great way to learn the real estate investing industry is from others that have come before you. Don had a thriving business and lost it all during the last market downturn. After struggling with what to do next, and after licking his wounds a bit, he picked himself and re-focused on what he knew best, real estate investing.
Now, over the past few years, Don has built a more successful and a more profitable business than ever before. He’s going to share his lessons learned. Today, Don is going to share how to navigate the ups and downs of the market, how to build a business that can weather the storms you’re facing, whether it’s expanding and growing your business, or just getting started in your real estate investment business. Let’s go ahead and get the show started. Please help me welcome Don Costa to the show.
Hey Don, welcome to the show.
Don: Hey Mike, thank you for having me, man. I appreciate you having me on.
Mike: Yeah, great to have you. For those who are listening right now, we’re actually doing back-to-back shows here today. Don’s going to be on our show, obviously right now, and then I’m going to be on his show. We’ll talk a little bit about his podcast throughout this I’m sure.
So hey, man. I’m excited to talk about what your lessons learned through real estate investing. And this is going to be kind of through the last downturn, and putting the pieces back together. Because, as I mentioned to you, I’m sure you get asked this all the time too. People say things like, “Well, where are we at in the market? Are we about to, have we hit the top?”
I have no idea. I don’t have a crystal ball. But I think probably the best real estate investors are spending less time thinking about or trying to figure out when a market correction’s going to happen. But they spend a lot more time focused on what they’re going to do when the correction happens to try to take advantage of the opportunity. Would you agree with that?
Don: I agree 100%. Absolutely. I mean, that’s definitely our focus. It’s just being prepared when it happens because you never know for sure what’s going to trigger it, right? So, definitely.
Mike: You never know. Yeah. And I was joking with you right before we started recording that, “Hey, you’re in California. So you’ll know before a lot of the rest of us will.”
Don: That’s true. Feel some impact. Especially in my market. I can always tell when there’s changes because you’ll have people from L.A. and the barrio start buying in our market pretty consistently when their markets start to peak or change, so.
Mike: Cool. Well, these are going to be great lessons. Because I think there’s a lot of people that listen to my show that are new or newer. And we have a lot of veterans too just because we have guys like you, and ladies too. I always catch myself just saying, “guys,” guys. A lot of guys in this business but also I’m from the Midwest. So I say, “Hey, guys. What’s up guys? How’s it going, guys?”
So, anyway. But yeah, so the truth is there’s a lot of people that are listening to this show that have varying levels of experience in this business. And I think it’s important to learn from guys like you that are veterans, that have been through a couple of cycles before, maybe have some arrows in your back and you kind of learned the hard way. I always say the best way to learn is from somebody else’s experience if you can.
Don: That’s true. There are those of us though that have to go out there and fail a little bit on our own to really have that lesson sink in.
Mike: Yeah. For sure, for sure. Well hey, before we get started, why you don’t tell us a little bit more about you, Don, and how you got into this business.
Don: Okay. So, I got into this business in 2003 officially. I think I circled it for a number of years before that. I’d listen to Carlton Sheets and Russ Whitney and you name it. And I even put out some offers on some properties in the past and didn’t know what to do with them. This is before wholesaling was a big thing, people really knew what wholesaling was. I got a property tied up in contract, couldn’t get it funded, ended up backing out. Ended up selling it for almost $8,000 more than I had it in contract for. I think that was kind of my “a-ha” moment at that time.
But, so I circled, right? And then a few years later, I was interviewing at a mortgage company. And the gentleman asked me why I was there and I told him that I was really there to learn the finance side, because I wanted to be a real estate investor. And he leaned across the table and said, “Go find some properties and I’ll put the money up.” And so I did. I went out there and realized that I had a knack for getting people to sell me their property. And at that point, it was game on. So.
Mike: That’s cool, that’s cool. So in those early days, how were you generating leads? Because we always talk about how critical leads are. And a lot of times, newer real estate investors, they have to go through some experiences to kind of learn that lesson of, you can’t just want to buy houses, you have to figure out how to generate leads to get those houses, so.
Don: I was door knocking. I was doing NOD. NOD list was what I was working off of. And, I don’t know, I try to think back. Was direct mail a big thing? I know there wasn’t all the internet stuff, and the shiny object, cool stuff and the automation. So it was just really just get in my car and just driving for three or four hours a day and knocking on doors.
And I was really OCD about it. I had to hit the list before I quit. And I’d do it consistently. And if I need you to have a conversation with me, when you’re going to sell your house, I got to a point where it was going to be me that bought it.
I think I learned one of the most important lessons at that point too. That being there to solve problems, to truly be there to solve problems was huge. Rapport was huge. Building a rapport and really getting to the person’s why was huge. And then, follow-up.
I almost never got a deal on the first knock. I usually had to go back three or four or five times before I ended up getting a deal. So, I mean, those were three important takeaways that I gained from that part of my business that I think is still true today.
Mike: Yeah, that’s awesome man. That’s good stuff. I always love, you either have it in you, the door knock or you don’t. And, for as powerful as that is, I have never been the one to just go randomly knock on doors even though I teach people the importance of that. Especially if you’re starting without a lot of money. If you can’t afford direct mail, if you can’t afford to do stuff online, but you got that fire in your belly to get started, you gotta drive for dollars. You got to figure out how to knock on doors, or put out door hangers or whatever it might be, so.
And just to clarify to people, that NOD, that’s Notice of Delinquency or Disclosure? People that are behind on payments essentially?
Don: In our state it’s Notice of Default. NOD is Notice of Default. And NTS is Notice of Trustee Sale in our state. We’re a non-judicial state, so probably a little different. But yeah, those are. . .essentially it’s just someone in pre-foreclosure or foreclosure, yeah.
Mike: Yeah, yeah. Awesome, awesome. So let’s talk about some of the lessons learned. I know you kind of break your investing career up into kind of before the last market downturn and after. So maybe kind of explain that a little bit more.
Don: So I got into it in 2003. If anybody remembers what the market was like back then, it was just crazy. Appreciation in pretty much every market. You could get just about any loan. Anybody. You could be a bus boy making $8 an hour and get a loan on a house for half a million bucks because of the pick a payment and all the crazy stuff that was going on. So it was like the Wild, Wild West.
And I always describe it as, you could throw a rock in a house and make money. And so I had, in loose terms, I had a business. I had a private managing company, real estate company. I was doing flipping, development, you name it. And we could buy a house, renovate the house, and resell it and make a ton of money without having systems restructured.
So, if I went $20,000 over budget, and I was on the project two months longer than I was supposed to, I would probably end up making 20,000 or 30,000 more in profit that I anticipated because the market appreciation was nuts. And what it did for me, and I think what it did for a lot of people was it created a very false sense of security. And I had essentially developed this ego that I thought that everything I touched turned into gold and that I was the reason why my company was making money.
What I didn’t realize at the time is I had this sinking ship that was staying afloat because so much money was coming in so fast, but it was also going out just as fast. And, that flow of money just was never-ending. I thought it was never going to end. So I figured I could do everything I wanted to do. I started working on a sunglass line, and a restaurant, and I just thought that it was never going to end. And then one day, it did. It came crashing down, so.
Yeah, so, I describe that as like the Gravitron ride at the fair where you’re just pinned up against the wall, and there’s nothing you can do about it? That’s what it was like. I mean, I had so many holes in my ship that become apparent, and there was nothing I could do about it. I mean, I didn’t have the right people in place. I didn’t have the right processes in place. And there was just nothing I could do about it. Over the next couple of years, I just proceeded to lose everything essentially.
Mike: Yeah, that’s crazy. So what was that time period? Was that ’07, ’08?
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Mike: That’s crazy. And so, what was that time period? Was that ’07, ’08?
Don: Basically about ’09 to middle of ’08 to ’10. We had opened the restaurant and nightclub at the beginning of ’08. And when the market crashed, I think I did what most people do. I went into survival mode. And I just focused on what I had left that I felt like I could hold together, which was that restaurant. Which we opened at the beginning of the worst economy ever.
And so, I kind of dug my head in the sand and tried to keep that alive. And we ended up closing that in 2011. We ended up kind of throwing in the towel on that. But I just, I went broke. And the restaurant did good, but we fought with the city. And we had other issues that we don’t need to get into here about whether or not we could use conditional use permits and other things to operate the way we wanted to operate.
And so at the end of the day, when we closed that, I literally had no money. I was going to the gas station and buying gas in quarters, a gallon at at the time, no money. I had two kids and a wife. And, just in my head, I was holding it together. And I thought I was doing a good thing holding it together but really I was just fooling myself. I was broke, yeah.
Mike: That’s crazy. So, and I know you got through it, so we’re going to hear the success side of that story. So you’re like Rudy. I don’t know why I thought of that. But hey, the interesting thing this is one thing that I love about a lot of people that I know, people like you that have been through difficult times, or . . . You start to build up. There’s a fine line between confidence and maybe ignorance sometimes, right?
Sometimes when you’re confident and you’ve had a successful business, as long as your ego doesn’t take over, which it does. It has for me, it has for a lot of people sometimes. One of the things that I love about when you become an entrepreneur is that, I genuinely feel this, if you have run a decent business, even if you’re not the best at everything, but you’ve got that fire in your belly, that success is the only option that you’re willing to choose, even if you fail, it’s like, “Give me a year and I’ll be back again.” You can figure out how.
Ego can get in the way sometimes when you think that it was everybody else other than you or whatever. I’m not saying that necessarily you did that. But I hope people who are listening to this can appreciate, when you build a skill set like you can in this business, that that’s something that you can keep with you forever and you’re going to have ups and downs. But Don’s going to share some more of his kind of lessons learned though.
Before you kind of tell us some of what you’ve built back up now, I mean, maybe you could continue just to share from that point when you started to put the pieces back together, what some of your bigger lessons were.
Don: Well, ego gets in the way and fear gets in the way, right? I mean, fear is a huge aspect of any business and I think it’s a huge aspect of your life that you can either use as a motivator, or you can use as a deterrent, right? And for me, I always say when you’re brand new in this business, you have a certain naivety. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just a, “I can conquer the world and no one can stop me,” naivety that I had when I first got started and I didn’t have once I lost everything. And I had thought that real estate had failed me. That it basically had taken me down.
The reality now, I look back on it, and my ego, and my arrogance, and my lack of really running a business like a business is what took me down. And so, in putting back together, I would love to say that I just had the strength to see that I could build again. But really, I got to a point where I had no options. I was playing Russian roulette with the water getting turned off, and the power getting turned off. And I was going to the restaurant with a calculator.
And I had this moment I shared a few times where I took my family to Taco Bell with what I thought was the last $90 I had on my card. And I was going to do lunch and a movie because we hadn’t done anything as a family for a while and my kids were like five and six at the time. And the card got declined when I was trying to pay for the lunch and I had no other options. I actually had to cancel the order and collect my family and walk out of Taco Bell.
And for me, I was again, I was hustling. I was holding it together. I was going to make it. I was good. Because I was just good at being broke. And I had this pride about being broke. And I thought, it’s fine. I got thick skin. No big deal. And my son, as we’re walking out to the car asked me why the mean guy wouldn’t give us our food.
And that was my breaking point where I realized that I was hiding with my head in the sand and I was failing my family. And I took an assessment of myself and I realized that the one thing that I was really good at was identifying a deal and raising private money. I was just really good at doing that, putting a deal together. And I just had no excuse use. I had to go out there. I had to do it. I wasn’t able to get a job. I was trying to get a job and if you remember back then, no one was hiring.
I had an Associate’s degree but no Bachelor’s, so the jobs I was qualified for wouldn’t giving me a job because I had no Bachelor. And the ones I wasn’t qualified for, or what I was over-qualified for, they wouldn’t give me a job because they felt like I was going to leave. And I had no choice. And so, I put an ad on Craigslist, looking for some private money, and I had six people call. And one person that I ended up having coffee with and he agreed to back me, JV with me. And I went out and found a deal and then it was on again.
Mike: Yeah. And what year was that, Don?
Don: 2012.
Mike: 2012, yeah. And the interesting this is in hindsight, you wished 2012 was back again from the point of finding deals, I suspect, right?
Don: I wish I would have had the guts to start back up in 2009. I wish I would have had the guts to start back up in 2009 or ’10. But yeah, I wish I was back in 2012 as well.
Mike: Yeah, I mean, I know it’s different in every kind of market around the country. But right now, some of us are, I don’t say this because I wish anybody . . . that I don’t wish everybody well, and I would love to have another downturn during that time frame with, of course what you know now. We say hindsight’s 20/20, but the reality is, we’re going to have cycles like that in the real estate business again whether we want them to or not. That’s just the reality of this industry, right?
Don: Yeah, it’s a reality. I don’t know if we’ll ever have one like that in our lifetime, but there’ll definitely be cycles. There’s always the ebb and flow, right? The peaks and valleys. Whether or not it’ll be catastrophic again, we’ll have to wait and see.
Mike: Yeah, yeah. So for folks that are listening right now that are fearful of what you just said, I mean, not to put fear in anybody. But just talk about the positive side of that. About how, if you had it to do over again, or if somebody that’s listening right now that hasn’t been through that, the lessons they can learn to go apply that to their business today.
Don: Well, if I was running my business like a business the first time around, and I had been smart about managing money and cash flow and capital reserves and all that cool stuff like we do now, I would have been in a position to take advantage of the downturn. And if I would have been in that position, I think, mentally and financially take advantage of the downturn, we’d be in a whole different place right now. I don’t even know if we’d be having a conversation. I’d probably be on beach somewhere because there was so much money made in that opportunity that presented itself, really it was an opportunity for people, and I just wasn’t in the place.
And so the difference now, for me, is I keep capital reserves. The money doesn’t flow out as fast as it comes in. I pay myself a paycheck. I don’t just go out and blow the money. Everything in the office I own, from the copier to the desk chair. I drive a 2012 GMC pickup truck I bought, two years old, and I paid cash for. Before, I leased BMWs.
And so the difference is that I’ve put some foundational stuff in my life, belief systems and practices that, no matter what happens in the economy, are not going to shake me, number one. And number two, I’m going to be prepared to take advantage of whatever comes my way because of it.
Mike: That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Well, let’s talk about some of those things. You’ve mentioned a couple of times having the right people.
Don: Right.
Mike: And so maybe you share before the downturn, I presume, because I’ve heard you say a couple of things about this. That you probably thought that all the important things you had to do, or you probably didn’t give people as much flexibility or room to run with things as maybe you do now because you thought you were the guy, right? Am I picking up on that right or?
Don: Pretty much, yeah. And I don’t think I valued the people that I did have in my organization at the time for what their value was and what their strengths were.
Mike: Right.
Don: And that’s, in building the team this time, I was looking for people who could run whatever portion of the organization that they were in charge of, that they could truly run it. And in doing that, I hired the person first, right? My project manager was a great manager. He was hardworking and loyal, but he wasn’t a construction guy. And I knew I could teach him construction. And so I invested that time and effort in developing him, and now he’s a better project manager that I could ever be.
The same thing with our bookkeeper assistant, transaction coordinator gal in the office. We trained her into that position. And she said something to me just recently. I asked her, I said, “What is it that truly makes you successful in this organization? What do you feel we have done that gives you the opportunity to succeed?” And she said, she kind of sat and thought about it and she goes, “You empowered me to make my own decisions. You empowered me to make decisions in this organization.”
And that was huge. That’s a huge takeaway. We empowered them to think and to fail. I allow them . . . most managers are so critical of somebody failing that they’re afraid to let go and they become a bottleneck in the organization, which is kind of how I am, right? But, I let go. I went against my own nature and I let go, and I let them make decisions. I let them fail. Because that’s how you’re going to learn, right? And I picked them up and dust them off, we have a conversation about the mistake, and they don’t make the mistake again.
And that’s just a huge significant change in how I run my business now from back then. I think maturity’s part of it, but I think necessity is the other part of it.
Mike: Yeah, that’s powerful. I mean, honestly, I think that there’s so many real estate investors that struggle with this because a lot of times we started as a one-man band, or a one-woman band, we’re doing everything on a shoestring budget. And then you get to a point to where you can’t do it all, and you know it. So you start to justify the expense to bring people in.
But then we have such a hard time letting go of the reins to say, “You take it.” We’re still, there have been so many times in my business where it’s like I have a whole team of people out here doing things or available to do things and I feel like I’m the busiest guy here. It’s like, “Wait, wait, wait. Why is there not enough time in the day for me, but my team is asking me for more to do?” That’s a problem.
Don: Yeah. And I mean, that’s being able to delegate. I think one of the biggest challenges too for those that are entrepreneurs, and we started as solopreneurs and all that, is being able to articulate what that position is, or what we need off of our plate.
And I actually had to say, “Don’t call me with your question. Make the decision, and we’ll deal with the aftermath if it’s a mistake. Don’t put it on my desk.” I had to tell my investors, “Don’t call me, call Cass with whatever issues.” Because what happens, we still want to control that. And so when it comes across our email or gets put on our desks, or we get a call with a question, we want to control it.
And then we end up outworking our entire team, right? And being overwhelmed. So it’s really letting go, on a scale of . . . I don’t even know how to describe it. But it’s just letting go. It’s really against my better nature because I am a control freak.
Mike: Yeah, yeah. Me too.
Don: But it’s the best thing I ever did. It’s absolutely the best thing I ever did. And it’s so rewarding to see my team excel. Because some of them are better at whatever it was than I could ever have been. And I wouldn’t have seen that if I wouldn’t have let go.
Mike: Yeah, yeah. So, talk a little about the importance of systems. I mean, I know over the past few years there have been some awesome CRMs and functionality that have come out. I mean, gosh, even when I started, 2008. So, not even 10, almost 10 years ago. We were still doing stuff with manila folders, and my sales guy got to come in and pick up the folders for the day and stuff like that.
Of course, now, we do all of that in the cloud with iPads and laptops and stuff. But just technology obviously has changed dramatically in the last 10 years in every industry. But I think my belief was always when I came into real estate because I worked for a start-up e-retailer, online retailer, before that. And it was like, the real estate industry has historically been five years behind other technology.
But I think also when we’re new as solopreneurs, especially in the real estate investing industry, sometimes where just guys have legal pads and their cellphone and they’re out doing stuff without a lot of technology. But when you start to build a team and you start to grow your business, you’ve got to have some systems and processes in place.
So, anyway, talk a little bit about how that changed for you from your first round and your second round.
Don: Well, systems, I mean, systems can be technological, or they can just be common practices, right? I mean, essentially, a system is a boundary. It’s a box with which your team can operate within. And your team could be contractors, vendors, your internal team. But you’re just setting boundaries. And so, obviously, a system is a CRM when it comes to acquisitions like Codio and how they manage that. But it can also be something like, our project manager has to see every project and confirm the budget before we close. That’s a system.
And when you skip a system, you run into problems. Like, my acquisitions guy came to me and swore that rehab on a project was going to be $30,000 and we can go ahead and close. And we skipped the step where the project manager has to see it to confirm the budget. It ended up being a $65,000 rehab. So it can be something as simple as that. This happens, that happens. That’s a system.
Another system we use in our organization is how we pay our contractors. So we require our contractors to bill us this Friday for the work they’re going to complete the following Friday. And then basically, our gal comes in on Monday. She cuts all the checks. She takes and copies the check stubs and the invoices. She sends them to our private money lenders for reimbursement. Our private money lenders reimburse us the capital by Thursday. And then Friday, as long as the contractors finish that work, he comes in and picks up his check Friday afternoon.
So that system, it requires a contractor to set a goal for which we’re going to hold them accountable for. It requires my gal to come in and complete the books, so we know what our capital requirements are for the week. We have transparency with our investors because they see everything we’re going to be paying out for that week. We get their money in before we put it out. So that’s a cash flow management process.
So you see how that one system starts knocking all these little dominoes down and managing all these things in our business. So it could be something as complicated as that, so. But it’s really, I think, defining kind of the flow, the workflow of your organization. And everybody’s going to run their business a little bit different, but it’s just setting boundaries and defining that workflow and then holding everybody to that. That essentially is how I look at systems.
Mike: Yeah, yep. And I guess, I know you did it very differently before the last downturn.
Don: Right.
Mike: But for so many folks, obviously if you have a mentor or a coach, people will. . .I have mentored and coached a lot of people. So I help them with what you just talked about, putting the systems and processes in place. In fact, we give them our systems. But if you don’t have that, how do you learn how to kind of get those things in place if you’ve never done it before?
Don: That’s a fantastic question because, I would listen to. . .when I put this together, podcast and real estate podcasts were starting to become a thing. And I would hear people talk about systems, but they didn’t really say what the system was, right? And I would try to find a course at that time, back in 2012, where they could just drive into my driveway and drop a load of systems off, right? It wasn’t really there.
So I just, like I said, I kind of defined it in my head. What does it mean to me? And just setting boundaries, processes, and procedures. And then kind of laying out those guidelines. The “if this, then that” kind of thing. And it’s really good if somebody has a road map. If you’re outlining the system somebody should use, that’s definitely something somebody should be grabbing a hold of and running with because it’s definitely going to save them time.
But if you don’t have those resources, it’s just creating a roadmap for within which your organization’s going to operate, right? I mean, that’s really what it comes down to. There’s definitely. . .you got to do the work, but there’s some simplicity in it too.
Mike: Yeah, I think sometimes after you start doing deals, you really don’t have to worry about it a whole lot until you start doing deals. And maybe that’s one of the challenges that some newer real estate investors have, or even new business owners, they want everything to be perfect and have all of the systems and processes in place before they even started. And so, but I think one thing to do is just kind of just sit down and document what you’re doing right now.
And sometimes when you’re doing it yourself, you don’t really think about all the little details you do. But if you were to just write out every painstaking step, like if you had to tell somebody how to do it over a cell phone, like, “Do this. Oh, I forgot, these three things,” and you write down those three things, and you look at it.
Sometimes you just stand back, and you’re like, “Why are we doing that?” Like, “Why don’t we just make this whole thing easier?” And so sometimes just to kind of document what you’re doing, right, and think about it and say, does that make sense that we do these things, and then we do these other things? And, does that even make sense to an average person if I had to explain it? So.
Don: I mean, yeah. My system for paying contractors came out of the fact that I was running back to the office to make multiple checks every day because somebody was demanding their payment for work completed. And I got to a point where I actually basically hated this business for a little while because I was overwhelmed with all these things. I’m like, “There’s got to be a process, so I’m just going to define these rules.” I mean, it’s that too. It’s a combination of a lot of things that I think come together. So.
Mike: Yeah. So Don, for folks that are listening to us right now, near the end of the year in 2017, hard to believe that I’m saying that. It’s that time of the year already. But, the folks who are listening right now and they want to get started and they’re afraid. Some people think, “Well, the market’s too hot. I’m going to wait for it to cool down.” Some people think, “Well, this is a great time to get in.” Whatever they may think about, what are some of the things you would suggest from your lessons learned to kind of get started in the business?
Don: Well, I can tell you right now that I got started originally in what was probably one of the hottest markets back in 2003, 2004. And hot market or cold market, I don’t think that should be a deterrent to whether or not you get started. If you’ve got the ability to put your head down and go to work, just go out there and go to work.
Now, I got started in 2012 with no money, and I couldn’t buy postcards, and I couldn’t do all that kind of stuff. So what I did was I networked, and I networked heavily. OPM, right? Other People’s Marketing? I would use that. I would call Craigslist post. I would call bandit signs. I would introduce myself. Until I met Matt, we talked about Matt in the beginning of the episode before we started recording. Matt and I do a lot of business together in my market. He wholesales a lot of stuff to me.
And I met him calling one of his Craigslist posts. So I got a couple of agents who work for me in my office now that I met through networking, back when I first got started. Either I posted something on Craigslist, or I was responding to something. And so networking is huge. And networking isn’t just getting business cards. Because nobody calls those, right? It’s not, “Hey, let me get your card. Great. Nice to meet you.”
No, it’s, “Hey, nice to meet you. How can I add value to your business? Let me take you to lunch or coffee, let’s have a conversation about how we can do things together,” and then building relationships. And that’s how I got my business going in 2012. That’s how I started doing deals. And I would say somewhere around 50% of the volume we do now comes from that network that I built originally when I was broke and had no other options.
So I think in this market right now, that’s going to be huge component because I mean, let’s be honest, direct mail can be saturated in some markets. And if you’re getting out there and you’re door-knocking, or you’re networking, and you’re putting in the little bit more effort, you’re going to have a lot more success with getting properties. Find out kind of where your skill set is in that aspect of it. Is it getting on the phone and calling direct to seller? Is it getting in your car and door knocking? Is it going out there and meeting people? But I think making the effort right now is a really good place to start.
Mike: Yeah, that’s great. That’s great information. So, Don, tell us a little bit about your show. Folks that want to maybe learn more and after they’re done listening to us here, go over and listen to your show. Where would they go? Tell us about your show.
Don: So I have a show called FlipTalk. We started October 2016, but I can’t really answer why I started it. I think I just enjoyed being on some podcasts and I wanted to stay in my office and stay kind of in the business as my business went on autopilot. And it’s taken off. It’s been a lot of fun. I’ve gotten to talk to really cool people like yourself. And I’ve gotten to learn some things and share some things, and it’s just been a wild ride.
So a lot of great interviews. You’ll definitely be on there and I’m sure we’ll be dropping some good nuggets on that one, so.
Mike: Yeah, yeah. Awesome. Well, if folks want to learn more about it, where do they go?
Don: They can go to and check it out. Or you can find it on iTunes and Stitcher and every other place out there, iHeart Radio. You can reach out to me at [email protected] and I always answer my emails. And I’ll point you in the right direction from there as well.
Mike: Awesome, awesome. Well, everybody, I appreciate you being with us today. This is episode number 381 with Don Costa. I got to tell you, it’s really important to follow people. Like Don said, I think it’s true that you have to learn, most people, me included, you have to learn from your own mistakes by doing things. But I think following guys like Don or a lot of the people we’ve had on the show here before can help you accelerate your kind of learning cycle to grow, so.
Out of 381 episodes, we only have 380 more for you to go listen to if you just started listening to us. So, if you are new to the show, thanks for being here, we appreciate you. I’d love it if you could go out to iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Google Play, YouTube, wherever you listen to or watch this show at, and subscribe and give us some positive feedback. We’d appreciate that. That’s the fuel that keeps us going.
So Don, thanks again for being with us today.
Don: All right, I appreciate you having me on.
Mike: Awesome, awesome. Everybody go check out, listen to Don’s show, and go out and give us some love. If you would, that’d be great. We’ll see you on another upcoming episode. Have a great day.
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