Join me for an interview with Duncan Wierman, a successful real estate investor, mentor and coach, and one who’s embraced technology far more than most. Duncan’s insights into using technology to generate leads and operate a business are uncanny, and his genuine personality has made him a leader in the real estate investing industry.
Mike: Welcome to the FlipNerd.com Podcast. This is your host, Mike Hambright. On this show, I will introduce you to VIPs in the real estate investing industry as well as other interesting entrepreneurs whose stories and experiences can help you take your business to the next level. We have 3 new shows each week which are available in the ITunes Store or by visiting FlipNerd.com. Without further adieu, let’s get started.
Thanks for joining us for today’s Flip Nerd VIP Show. Today, I’m joined by guest, Duncan Wierman, who is a marketing strategist, teaches people how to do all sorts of real estate investing, from lead generation for single-family homes and even a lot of stuff with multi-family homes. Before we get started with our interview today, which you don’t want to miss, let’s recognize our sponsors.
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Duncan, thanks for joining us today.
Duncan: My pleasure. I’m always willing to talk about stuff I do. I’m really passionate about what I do. I believe with so much abundance out there and anybody can follow 1 ore 2 the techniques that we’ll talk about; they’re going to get more leads if they take the time during this half hour to listen. Thank you for having me.
Mike: Why don’t you tell us little bit about your background. If you would, I’d like to know a little bit more about you as a person. How did you get started in real estate investing?
Duncan: Funny story.
Mike: They always are.
Duncan: I was actually a CEO of a software company, global company. I’ve lived overseas for 23 years, and I had come back to the United States at the … remember the last tech crunch, crash? That’s where I started. I had to come back to the United States with my tail between my legs and start all over again, and I didn’t really have any prospects out there. It just so happened I was watching late night TV and this infomercial came on about this guy talking about how much money he made in real estate, showed all these people, ‘They made money.’ [inaudible: 02:57] I’m like, “If they can do it, I can do it.” I whipped out my credit card and I bought that late night infomercial course. That was my start.
Mike: Can you say who it was?
Duncan: It was Carlton [inaudible: 03:08]. I did everything wrong. My first 6 months were disaster. I almost quit, I really did. For me, I was … failure was not an option. I knew if I focused and I consistently did action, I’d figured out. It just so happened I did, I cracked it. I’m like, “I can do this and I know I can do it better.” That’s how I started on my path of real estate investing and trying to tweak the system to get more leads.
Mike: Do you remember the first house you bought?
Duncan: I do, and I was scared stiff. It was a 3-bedroom, 1-bath condo in the university area of Charlotte, North Carolina [inaudible: 03:52]. I was trying to focus on lease option deals, and the guy says, “Why don’t … can’t you just take it over in Subject 2?” I’m like, “What’s Subject 2? What is that?” He knew more than I, and he’s trying to sell me the house. He told me, I said, “I got to hurry up and go out and find some paperwork to do this.” I got it through Subject 2 with no money down, but I had to spend $300 on fixing the air conditioning, and that was all the money I had saved. If I didn’t sell that house within that month, I’m going to be in trouble because I had no money to pay the mortgage with. I never wanted to have that stress again, so I had to figure out ways to sell a house fast. I remember that. I think that feeling, I can relate to a lot of people that fear, that anxiety. I had ways I wanted to fix that so it was a lot less stressful.
Mike: That was, what 2000?
Duncan: 2003. I started investing in June 2003, and I probably did not get my first deal until August of 2003. It was 3 months of striking out.
Mike: Why do you think … before we talk a little bit more about the programs and some of the things you do, why do you think so many real estate investors never really get out of the gate?
Duncan: Worry, fear, because they’re afraid to make an offer; analysis paralysis fear, time. They have every good intention to do something, but life gets in the way. 3, money; they also don’t have money [inaudible: 05:26], show them how to get private money or how buy without any money. Then the fourth one is lack of support of a plan.
I don’t really feel sorry for a lot of people. I was stuck in this too, but when I bought my second real estate course, I spent $800, which is a lot of money for a short sale course. They promised me at their seminar it would answer all my questions, I’d have a system, and I would never have to worry again [inaudible: 05:52]. 3 weeks into it, I was like, “Wait a second. He doesn’t cover this, he doesn’t cover this.” I called the office and said, “I have some questions. This isn’t covered.” He would never call me back. I shouldn’t say that; 4 weeks later, his sales team called me back and they tried to sell me a riverboat cruise for a week for $15,000 where all my problems would be solved. I’m like, “I don’t have $15,000. All I want is a question answered. Sorry. You’ve got to be kidding me. $800 and you don’t even answer a question.” That really hurt.
That’s probably why I’m so adamant about calling people out nowadays, judging quality of courses, because I’ve been there, and why I go over and above … I feel I do with my course. I say, “Guys, When you buy a course with me, you’re getting my personal email, you get my personal phone number, I’ll even log into your computer and do it for you once to make sure you’re getting it.” Those 4 reasons people are not succeeding. I’ve tried to put together a system that gives people more time, teaches how to get more money, the support [inaudible: 07:01].
Mike: I think a lot of those programs by design always leave you wanting just a little bit more so you can buy the next level up. I don’t know about a riverboat cruise, but you could by the platinum level. You didn’t upgrade to the platinum level the first time? Now you can do it.
Duncan: I understand that the business has to make money, but I honestly like to help people succeed. That’s why we have a partnership program; if you don’t have the money, bring us into the deal. We split it, split 50/50 with me and let’s both make money off it. You believe in karma, I believe in karma; pay it forward and make people successful and you’re going to be more successful.
Mike: Talk a little bit about just the … you were a bit of a trailblazer with generating leads online before it was cool. Obviously it’s very cool now, so it’s more competitive than ever.
Duncan: It is.
Mike: Why don’t you talk a little bit about … obviously, this is one of the things that I’ve thought for a long time and it’s still the case: Real estate and investors and the real estate investor community and technology have not really collided yet like most other industries. It’s a laggard.
Duncan: They have not, and I think it has to do with a lot of the demographics of the type of person who’s a real estate investor. I find the average real estate investor is probably starting out when they’re 40-years-old, and they’re a little bit behind the technology curve anyway. They might know how to turn off the computer and email in a Word Doc, but that’s about it. There is a generation gap on that part.
When I first began, the internet was new; one-page static website was a big deal. I remember trying to build my first website, and I’m like, “Oh, my gosh. What a nightmare this is,” even though [inaudible: 08:50] I could do it myself and save money. [inaudible: 08:56] When you applied that website to going and getting traffic … now everybody thinks, ‘I have a website.’ [inaudible: 09:05] people will come. No, it doesn’t work that way. You have to know how to market to drive traffic to your site. It started going.
You got to think of how to drive traffic to a website; why should they come to you and that involved a thought process of you got to show your authority. You’ve got to show you thought leadership, your vision, and actually stand out; why people should do business with you rather than the next guy. That’s really what I’m about; building your personal brand online using creative techniques to get more people to come to your website and converting them from prospects to customers.
Mike: You started off, and I assume for quite some time you primarily were focused on single-family houses?
Duncan: I was. I believe the focus is key. One of the reasons I see more people fail in real estate is that they go for every new shiny-object course that comes out there. The only thing that made me really, really successful in the beginning was I picked one strategy and I took massive action, and I did it consistently every single day, like my life depended on it. Sure enough, little bit by little bit it pays off. Most people, they might take massive action one day but they don’t follow-up, or they don’t stick to it consistent, so they fail.
I chose the lease option as my first investment strategy, but it was easy. It made perfect sense, even though I got one of my houses Subject 2. It was easy, made sense, I was passionate about it, I thought I was helping people. I ended up after that first 6 months of disaster, in my next year, I did 77 deals. [inaudible: 10:58] if I was making $3000 to $5000 on average profit, that’s still nice money. That was enough for me and I don’t ever have to look back, I’ve never worked for anybody else again [inaudible: 11:10].
Mike: To clarify: You were buying houses and then leasing them out with [inaudible: 11:17] the option to buy the house. That what you were doing?
Duncan: That’s right.
Mike: Are you still doing that today?
Duncan: I’ll do it occasionally, but because I moved into the multi- family field, that’s more exciting to me. I get bored after awhile. I’m like, “OK, OK.” Multi-family provides me more of a challenge. I teach lease options that anywhere … one of my fast cash strategies, I show people ‘You want to deal in 30 days; this is how we’re going to do it. We have software that’s going to generate at least 100 leads every single day. We’re going to email them, we’re going to call them, and we’re going to text them. I guarantee you if you work the numbers, everything is [inaudible: 11:58]. You’re going to get a deal.
I remember making cold calls to people. I’d make a 100 cold calls a week, but I … and I’d hear, ‘No, no, no,’ but I knew I was going to get one deal. If I can get people, their phone ringing where people are calling them and they do the talking, you’re going to get a deal.
Mike: Of course you’ll know more about this than me, but with the lease options, there’s so much more regulation and stuff now that it makes that difficult. In fact in some states, it’s just … not that there’s not creative ways to accomplish the same thing. In Texas …
Duncan: Texas is difficult, Maryland is difficult, North Carolina now is difficult. I had to adjust my strategy. I actually went into rehabbing after that. I’m not the handyman-type of guy. You know how I change light bulb? I write a check. [inaudible: 12:51] but I ended up doing 45 rehabs over the next 18 months. Then came the problem of ‘I’m working 60 hours a week chasing 5 different contractors around. This is not a lifestyle, this is just a job.’ What I did then is … I knew how to get wholesale deals and just fix them up. Now I’m like, “I just assign these suckers.” That was easy. The only problem is when you start assigning so many deals, you have a tax liability. I’m like, “Uh- oh. How do I protect myself against the tax man?” [inaudible: 13:30] then I have to get into buying whole or multi-family investments. That’s how that trail …
Mike: That’s interesting. I think every successful entrepreneur has a story, but every single one of them includes the ability to adapt to the market, the economy, regulations, and legislations and stuff like that. It just forces you to … for folks that are focused on one thing, you can’t be a one-trick pony.
Duncan: I think when you’re beginning, focus. Everybody should join their local real estate investor’s association to get the lay of the land. Without a doubt, surround yourself with successful people; the RIA knows the legislation, you’ll hear success story, it’s inspiring, good [inaudible: 14:16], basically almost free education. Invest in a strategy and stick to it if you learn it, and then expand your business model. I agree with you 100%.
Mike: How has … a little about the technology that you … I know you sell, you educate people on, and things like that. That obviously has to constantly evolve as well, because the internet’s obviously changing. Some days you wake up and things have changed dramatically.
Duncan: It has. I got to tell you …
Mike: You’re still teaching a power course on MySpace, right?
Duncan: There’s opportunity on MySpace. I will tell you; there’s still opportunity there, but you use it to build birddog more than anything else. Technology does change every day, sites change every day. Though we want [inaudible: 15:09] on the main sites where most of the traffic is. Yes, social media is out there. People are missing the ball right now with mobile marketing; they don’t know the mobile web is different to what you see on your desktop. I can pick up leads [inaudible: 15:22] on the mobile web where people are like, “How do you get that?” That has got to get into people’s arsenal of tools.
Even with my software, we update it every month because sites change and there’s new strategies that we do, and I keep adding to it. I’m not a gambler, but I will risk money in marketing to see how many leads I can get out per day. That’s my thing and I enjoy it. When people get my software … and everybody can get a free trial copy of the software to see how it works. We’ll put that later on, OnlineLeadFinder.com. We’re really trying to make it easy for people to listen, I should say, to use social triggers. I don’t call them [inaudible: 16:12], but reader’s social triggers. Because the internet’s so expansive and people are talking every day about home renovation, divorce, the job relocation, new baby, etc. Those social triggers to me mean opportunity to either buy or sell a house. We use software then to interact and engage with these people so we’re top-of-mind and we can get those leads quickly.
Mike: When did you start getting into multi-family?
Duncan: It took me quite a while to get the multi-family, probably Year 7 1/2 , because I kept hearing people say, “You should do multi- family. It’s only one more zero.” I’m get into this thing; I’m like, “One more zero? There is way more you got to know than [inaudible: 17:04].”
Mike: It’s a totally different animal.
Duncan: It’s a totally different animal. It’s a scary animal, and there’s huge risk involved. I struggled probably for my first year with it zero results in multi-family. Got some leads, but I really wasn’t getting it. Then the problem that came to being is that it wasn’t a question of not having the money, it’s that banks want you have experience. What I ended up doing is I ended up surrounding myself and creating a team of successful partners, investors from a multi-family attorney, to an SCC attorney to put together a private [inaudible: 17:41], a multi- family acquisition specialist that had a great [inaudible: 17:46]. All these players … that’s probably not a good word. All these people now being part of my dream team which I could create a credibility with and piggyback on their expertise, it would help propel me to a new level. That’s why I think that networking and building your team is very, very important. Then it started clicking, I’m like “I get it,” or “I don’t get it. You do that.”
Mike: Folks, a lot of … that’s one thing that I think a lot of folks struggle with, whether it’s single-family, multi-family, any sort of investing, is they try to do it alone or they listen to someone who sold them something, which not always is bad. I’m not going to knock too much …
Duncan: No, it’s not.
Mike: They don’t have the resources to go to. They haven’t built a team and surrounded themselves with others. We speak the same language in that regard about being part of a team and surrounding yourself with people that are doing what you want to do, that can help you take it to the next level or get started, I guess.
Duncan: No, you can’t do this in isolation without anybody else. You need a team. Cooperation [inaudible: 18:58].
Mike: Talk a little bit about … obviously, you use a lot of technology and things like that. You’re well-known in the industry for being an innovator in using technology to make your life easier. What are you doing with all your free time?
Duncan: My free time is I like to travel and I like to spoil my kids [inaudible: 19:25]. Travel is great. I have a lot of activities that I play, from martial arts, to flying airplanes, to hang gliding, to diving. I get a lot of free time to do that. We are wanting to get more involved in our lives and to giving back to the community, so we’re looking at opening up a nonprofit to give back real estate to the community and do something in that regard. We’re setting up that right now. I don’t want to go a lot into it, but it comes to the point in your life where you have to give back, so we’re looking at [inaudible: 20:04].
Mike: I think there’s a point in your life too, at least I know with myself personally and with other people that I see, where you start to think a lot more about what I’ll say lifestyle design. It’s like you said, there are a lot of folks that I know that make a lot of money in this business, and we’ve done very well, too. Sometimes, you look up and you say, “I feel like I’m working a lot harder than I want to. How do I …” in some instances, it may be “I’m okay if I make less money if I get my life back, because I live well below my means anyway.” In some instances, you have to find ways to stabilize or grow your business using other people, partnering with people, or having systems or things like that that can give you some of your life back. In those instances, what can you share about folks that are interested in making their life easier?
Duncan: Probably drivel and people hear it all the time, but you got to have some goals. Money is money and it’s only symbolic of what we’re going to do with it. You got to have some goals. You got to be passionate about your goals, and really write down every day ‘What’s my to-do list today that’s going to get me to that goal?’ I’m still in the habit of every evening before I go to bed ‘What’s my to-do list for tomorrow? What can I automate, what can I outsource in my business?’ That’s very important.
Technology is just an enabler for me to, like I say, automate the things that I don’t have to do or pay somebody else to do, and again, hire virtual assistants to do the mundane work in this business. Those people who are working for $3 an hour, which is great for them, but for me, I’m worth more than $3 an hour, so let them take over that component. I’ve just realized, think about running a corporate business. We’re going to outsource, we’re going to automate, we’re going to bring more profits in-house, and we’re going to expand by doing that. I want people to have a fire in their belly about this. Where that comes to me is making offers; the more leads they get, the more offers they can make, the more checks they’re going to get.
Mike: Tell me a little bit about, and I’m not actually sure … this isn’t a softball question because I don’t know what your answer is. With virtual assistants, I’m a big believer in virtual assistants; I have hired quite a few over the years. What’s your source? Where do you find folks at?
Duncan: I started with several sites online that I can go to find virtual assistants. People are people; they’re going to post your job up there on a project basis of what you want them to do, and they’ll bid on that. After about a few years of doing this, I’m like, “I really need somebody I want to get to fulltime that they run the whole gamut.” It took a little while to find that person. Now, he came to me about a year later, it’s Duncan; I’m doing all the stuff. You have students who you also [inaudible: 23:13] this stuff. I said, yeah. He said, “Will you help me start my business?” I said, “How so?” He said, “You recommend your students to me and I’ll go out and I’ll hire other virtual assistants, hoping that I’ll train them on your marketing methodology. I’ll make $0.50 a person, everybody that you train.” I said, “Here’s the deal; you can charge $3.50, but if they come through as one of my students, you can only charge $3 and you can only make $0.10 a person that we’ve trained. Otherwise than that, I’ll help promote your [inaudible: 23:48].”
If you go to [inaudible: 23:51], I’ll have to give you the link. He’s setup his own website now. If you tell hime Duncan sent you, you’ll get it for $3 an hour. He’ll have an interview via Skype, interview the people. They know my marketing methodologies. Away you go. You pay them via PayPal. I would suggest anybody, just start out with 2 hours day, 3 times a week; 6 hours. They can get a lot accomplished. [inaudible: 24:19] and their technology’s efficient.
Mike: I have 2 fulltime virtual assistants, but I’ve had as many as 4 at any one time. Also, big believer in the Philippines; definitely have some hardworking folks there. Not that the people are not hardworking in other parts of the country or a bunch of the world. I’m a big believer in finding some folks there that can do some of the more mundane things or just some of the little things that are hard to systematize, that somebody just needs to get done. You’re doing a lot of speaking these days; you’re going all over the country. Are there any specific parts of the country you’re focused on more than others?
Duncan: I do speak. I try and get out at least once a month; however this couple of months, I’m just really super-booked. People want to know about technology systems to get their life back and getting more leads. I just had a great couple of weeks up in Ohio [inaudible: 25:23]. I like speaking in California, I like speaking in the southeast because that’s where I do a lot of deals, so I can check up on some while I’m there.
If people get a chance to hear me speak, I give a great content- rich presentation that I fully believe even if they don’t buy my course, they’ll have 2 or 3 strategies they can implement on that weekend and they’ll have leads coming in on Monday morning. That’s how powerful the talk I give is. Sometimes I wonder, ‘Are people doing this stuff?’ I give them everything they need to do. Whether they do it or not, it’s up to them.
Mike: I really appreciate you joining us today.
Duncan: Sure. Like I said, I encourage people to try out the free trial of my online lead-finder software at OnlineLeadFinder.com. The virtual assistant site is Virtual4REIi.com. Also, I might want to talk about real quick is that people can get a virtual closing coordinator. By the time you get a contract to the time closing, hand it over to them to babysit the deal, because I don’t babysit well and a lot of things can go wrong in a closing process. These people are trained to make sure the deal closes. They only get paid if you get paid.
Mike: Are those folks based outside of the US, as well?
Duncan: No, they’re based here. OnlineClosingTeam.com is a virtual closing coordinator company. They’re also known as transaction management consultants. It costs about $300-$400 per deal they close once you get paid. I tell you what; you know how difficult sometimes closings can be and that process is, and I’m like, “I got better things to do that be on a phone all day.” My strength is make an offer. I think Get a VA, automate with software, your lead generation and your marketing, and get a virtual closing coordinator, and just make offers. I’m literally working at my real estate business 2 hours a day.
Mike: That’s fascinating. I’m not familiar with a closing coordinator, a virtual one. I’ve heard of … usually, title companies have their own closing coordinator of some sort that’s helping facilitate it. Literally, I recently moved to another title company that we got unusually good pricing at and worked with for a long time, and was willing to pay double or more what I was paying before just because I realized how much internally my staff was chasing this other title company. They’re having some staffing issues, too. That’s one other problem I’d say that a lot of folks need to recognize as real estate investors is your opportunity costs of your time. What are you doing that you could have somebody else do? People get hung up on the money part of it; ‘I don’t want to pay for that.’ It’s like, “What else could you do with your time? What’s your dollar-per-hour rate?”
Duncan: Exactly. These people are better-trained than me and much more available. Virtual closing coordinator, I tell you, it’s going to make your life so much easier.
Mike: We’ll put those links all below the video so folks can check it out. I’m going to check that one out myself.
Duncan: Exactly. Tell them you came from Duncan [inaudible: 28:41]; you’ll get the Duncan Discount, too.
Mike: The Duncan Discount? Awesome, man. Thanks for joining us today on the show. I appreciate it.
Duncan: Thank you, anytime. I look forward to [inaudible: 28:52].
Mike: Appreciate all your information. For those watching, we’ll add links below the video if you want to get a hold of Duncan, learn more about his programs, or any of those things we just talked about. Go ahead and check out those links below. Thanks, Duncan. We’ll see you soon.
Duncan: Have a good day.
Mike: Take care.
Mike: Thanks for joining us on today’s FlipNerd.com podcast. To listen to more of our shows and hear from incredible guests, please access all of our podcasts in the iTunes Store. You can also watch the video versions of our shows by visiting us at FlipNerd.com.