Show Summary

Jean Norton is the queen bee of rehabbing in markets outside of where she lives. When her market became too competitive, she picked up her ball and went to another playground (actually, a few). She joins us today and shares how she got started, why she rehabs remotely, and what factors she considers when picking new markets. In the Taking Action segment of the show, she shares great detail on how she finds and manages contractors, how she controls projects from a distance, and how to overcome your biggest fears. Check it out!

Highlights of this show

  • Meet Jean Norton, and learn about ‘rehabbing remotely’ (investing in markets outside of where you live.)
  • Learn why she rehabs in other markets, and how opportunities have opened up for her based on her willingness to invest in multiple markets.
  • Taking Action: Learn how she finds and manages contractors, how she stays in touch with projects from 1000+ miles away, and how she establishes ‘boots on the ground’ outside of herself.

Resources and Links from this show:

  • Jean Norton’s Real Estate Contacts
  • Listen to the Audio Version of this Episode

    FlipNerd Show Transcript:

    My guest today is Jean Norton. Jean is just down the road from me. I’m in Dallas and she’s down in Austin. She’s a real estate investor, she’s a bit of a social media butterfly, and likes to share her knowledge with a lot of people, which is why I always like talking to Jean. And she’s really well known for rehabbing remotely. I’ll let you tell her the story, but she just was having a tough time finding deals in her backyard so to continue to be active, she just went to another sandbox to play. It’s a great lesson because I think a lot of real estate investors have always focused on their backyard. I know I have. And there’s a whole other world out there if you’re willing to go after it.

    She’s going to share some more of that with us in a second. She’s going to actually share how she rehabs remotely. So in the first part of the show, we break our show into two parts now, we’re going to talk about why she does it and a number of lessons there about how she chooses locations. And in the second part of the show, in the “taking action” segment, we’re really going to dive deep on how to find comps, how to find deals, how to find contractors and manage them, and all those challenges that happen when you’re a long ways away that is a whole new set of challenges as a real estate investor to face. So hey, Jean, welcome to the show.

    Jean: Thank you very much. Thanks for having me.

    Mike: Great to see you again. This is an interesting topic. I’ve said this a few times. Even though I’ve bought hundreds of houses, I’ve always done it right here in my market. And there are plenty of challenges, doing this in your own market. There are times when it gets tough, and you hear a lot of real estate investors say, “My market’s really competitive now,” or, “the market’s changed.” But they’re always referring to their market without any thought to, “Maybe I should go play somewhere else,” where they haven’t gone yet.

    First, I want you to tell us a little bit about who you are. Then, tell us . . . it seems so obvious, now to say, “Just go play somewhere else. Pick up your ball and go somewhere else,” but you did it. So maybe tell us a little about you, and how you got started, and let’s talk about that a little bit.

    Jean: Okay. Well, first, I want to say that if you are having difficulty in your area, you’ve got two choices: you can change your strategy or you can change your location. So yes, there are strategies that will work in every area, in every market swing. I found a strategy that works for me, but not necessarily in my current location.

    I started in 2009 and I guess I didn’t really know to be afraid of not doing projects outside of my area. I guess that’s where it made sense. My first deal was in Southern California and I admit I did go out there for the first 10 days or so of construction to watch things. We made about $30,000 on that rehab. It wasn’t without its challenges. I think I’ve got that one particular property well documented in my blog. I post blog posts every now and then at So that one’s well documented if you ever wanted to see that.

    Mike: We’ll add a link to your blog. You share a lot of great information so we’ll add that below the video here.

    Jean: Then I came back to Austin. I tried to get a deal in Austin and I guess maybe I maybe don’t have enough fear in me. I don’t know what it is. But it was my second project and I decided to try to add square footage to an existing small house. I was not prepared for that kind of a project. So I will say if anybody is new to real estate investing, don’t make that your first or second project. That was a yearlong, painful project. I had a lot of learning lessons there.

    I think most people would have probably stopped at that point, but I sat back and said, “Okay. No more adding square footage.” Then I just started looking at other ways to get more properties, other locations. At the time, there were still a whole lot of foreclosures and I found that I had a good relationship with online auctions.

    I’m able to hold my own and not get all up in the hype. So I’ve been able to do that. And I get a lot of information when I look at the online auctions and see where the most properties are. So you can see where the opportunities are for getting properties at a low dollar amount and getting the rehab amount in your head, and then selling it for a certain amount. I can know where to go to get those numbers. And I’ve done deals in several locations. I think I mentioned before we got started that there are some locations that I will not return to, either.

    Mike: So when you’re picking a location, let’s talk about that a little bit. There are some people that hear the name of a city and they just think, “I’ll never go there.” Detroit is an example. There are a lot of people who think that, now, but I actually have people that I mentor and coach in Detroit, and they’re killing it. It doesn’t mean they go into the inner city, but the suburbs are really no different than Dallas, Chicago, or anywhere else. There are actually some great areas of Detroit.

    So people hear something in their mind, and they have this preconceived notion. Other than that, geographically, if there are some areas you’ve gone to that you’ll never go back, is it because of macro conditions? Is it because of permitting issues or state-specific issues? What are some of the things that, at a high-level, you’ve learned? Like, don’t go anywhere that has “this,” how do you decide that?

    Jean: To decide that? Cultural differences, that’s the one thing. I had a property outside of Washington, D.C. And I love Washington D.C. One of the things I look at is, “Is it a place I wouldn’t mind visiting?” And I wouldn’t mind visiting Washington D.C. at all. But getting help, getting local resources to be my eyes and ears, it was like pulling teeth. You had to pay them something before they’d do anything at all. I don’t mind paying people, but I really like the locations where I can build relationships with people. Where you can have a mutual back-and-forth beneficial thing. I guess in that Washington D.C. area, or the East Coast area, they’re just not going to lift a finger until you pay them and they’re only going to do that part of that job. I would call that a cultural difference.

    Mike: This probably isn’t going to be PC, what I’m about to say, but we’ve done something in another area before where it felt like everybody was “Union.” They can’t work off-hours, and like you said, can’t find anybody that isn’t at some ridiculous rate even though they’re not qualified to do that. It makes you love places like Texas and the South a little more, where they’re just happy to have a job and work hard. Not everybody is like that, I guess.

    Jean: I have one client that’s in New Jersey. That’s one area, the whole Northeast, I fear that they would just eat me up. She was complaining about finding a good attorney, and she said . . . this may not be politically correct, either, “I want a Jewish attorney. Those are the only ones you can trust. All the others are shysters.”

    Mike: You shared an example of culture, but is that the main driver? When you’re rehabbing, unlike if you’re going to keep a rental property, where you’re going to care about long-term appreciation, do you care about what’s going on in a market if you’re essentially going to get in and out?

    Jean: Absolutely. I’ve got several criteria. One, it has to have a reason for being there. Now, I do avoid Detroit. It doesn’t mean that you can’t make money there. You probably can. But I avoid it because, for the longest time, there really wasn’t a good reason for anybody to be there.

    Mike: There wasn’t a good resale value.

    Jean: And Las Vegas is another one. When there’s only one industry or one reason to be there, you’re really putting yourself at risk. Like the entertainment of Las Vegas, that’s something that I personally do not want to depend on because that’ll be the first that gets cut. Phoenix is another example. Man, the highs are high and the lows are low and I don’t want to get caught in one of those little cycles that happen there.

    There’s a whole bunch of stuff that I look at. Are people moving towards there or away from there? And if they are, like in Chicago, I do deals in Chicago. If they’re moving away from there, I want to make sure I’m in the most popular area of Chicago, which is where I am. You don’t want to be on the sidelines.

    Mike: Just to clarify, my question was, since you’re going to get in and out, one thing just to clarify about you, correct me if I’m wrong, but even though you rehab remotely, you’re not looking at deals everywhere. You like to find some other markets, and just keep doing business there?

    Jean: Once you establish a team that you trust, it’s your own backyard.

    Mike: It’s an asset.

    Jean: One of the biggest fears people have with rehabbing remotely, is a lot of them don’t even want to go more than 20 miles away. And the reality is I think people have their own perception about what is “close by.” If it’s less than 10 miles away, okay, but otherwise, forget it. The reality is I could do deals in Dallas, where you are, and I can do deals in Florida, where I’m getting ready to go pretty soon, and the reality is it’s the same travel time. Most of the time, even if I’m local, I find I’m just making a phone call to have somebody check on something for me.

    Mike: We don’t do as much volume as we used to, but there were times where we were rehabbing five to seven houses at any given time. I couldn’t even physically do that in Dallas, myself, because I had other things to do. So we had an errand runner person that we paid $10 an hour to, a young college kid who would drive around and take pictures. We literally had a checklist. Once you get to that point, it doesn’t really matter if you’re here or somewhere else.

    Jean: There are college kids everywhere. I think my biggest frustration, especially when I go into a new area, is establishing the local team. Contractors, just by themselves, are a whole issue. I have made every mistake in the world, I feel like. I did a property about a year ago in Florida, in Boca Raton, and it wasn’t until I got to the third contractor that they could actually do the work. The key is that the numbers have to work for you. You have to make sure there’s enough spread in the deal to handle those kinds of hiccups. Once you realize that it’s only $250 for me to fly to Florida, as opposed to a having a small margin to play with here in Austin, it’s not that big a deal when you look at it that way.

    Mike: We’re going to jump into the taking action segment in just a second, Jean, but I want to ask you one more question before we end this segment. We’re going to talk about finding contractors, and managing them, and all that. But, generally speaking, I’m curious what your take is on doing this as a woman. And dealing with people from a distance. You talked about people in New Jersey, you feel like they’re going to eat you up. Do you feel like people have a tendency to maybe try to take advantage of you more, as a woman, or no?

    Jean: Absolutely. Like they say, beware of the old lady that smiles. We could probably talk about this in taking action but there are five styles of contractors in my book. I can spot them and I know how to deal with them. We can go into that a little bit later if you like. Understanding the other side’s motivation is critical.

    I did a condo in Virginia Beach. I asked the potential listing agent if they had any contractors to recommend. And I made a mistake and told my listing agent what my budget was. My budget was here, but I wanted the contractors to come in here so that I could handle the surprises. But, of course, I got three contractor quotes, and they were all at my budget. “Okay. I’m not getting the warm fuzzies with this one.”

    And that’s why the relationship building, to me, is so important with the contractors. The one contractor that I did finally get in Florida, he found my blog post about “Contractors suck, rehabbers are stupid,” and he laughed and laughed and laughed.

    Mike: Well, Jean, let’s jump into the taking action segment of the show, and let’s keep going here. We’re talking about finding contractors. Maybe tell us what you look for, in terms of finding contractors.

    Jean: Well, like you said, I’m very active on social media. And I have friends and contacts and people that want to help all over the country. It’s been amazing. I’ve said, “Hey, do I have any friends in this area that can recommend a contractor that’s worked with them before?” That’s how I get a lot of the contractor leads. I get some from the potential listing agents.

    This is something for the people who have their listing license, that they could offer to do for people. I’ve got one agent in Florida and she’ll just go ahead and field all the other potential listing agents for me in Florida to find one that’s investor-savvy, and that knows what it takes to get these projects on the market, etc. A real bulldog. She does that for me now and sends me names of people who aren’t in her little area, and then she gets a referral fee. That’s something I’d never really thought about, but that’s what works.

    Mike: Sure, so word-of-mouth. I’ve always told people that the best way to find a contractor is word-of-mouth. I find somebody who’s used them before that can provide a reference or referral because it’s no fun being a guinea pig with your own wallet when you find contractors.

    Jean: Yeah, and oftentimes, for me, it’s my private lender’s wallet. And they’re trusting me to do well with their money. So it’s extra pressure on me.

    Mike: With contractors, would you say with finding them, it sounds like you rely a lot on referrals from agents, the community that you’re involved with . . .

    Jean: The community of other investors.

    Mike: . . . your online communities. It’s like you said, the word-of-mouth. But right now, word-of-mouth has expanded because of social media. I have found that because of what I give, and my interactions, especially on Facebook, my blog posts, all of that stuff, that people want to help me. They really do. And I just find that really refreshing. And I appreciate that.

    Mike: Yeah, it’s interesting: I had this thought. I was talking to my wife the other day, and it’s a complicated story I won’t get into because it’ll bore everybody. I got this from a recent episode of “Shark Tank,” about somebody who was crowd-sourcing beer flavors. I was just thinking about how many people want to be involved with rehabbing, and real estate investing, but never get out of their comfort zone, or they can’t do it for one reason or another.

    I started thinking of this idea of crowd-sourcing ideas. But this is more like crowd-sourcing a project getting done, and there are probably people in the area who would be happy to help or to oversee it, or to do certain things, just to be a part of something that they’re probably not going to do on their own.

    Jean: You know, it’s true. There’s some comfort, and I don’t know if it’s real or perceived, but people have been very, very helpful for me. You know what? We end up having a personal relationship. We have a dialog. That’s what comes out of it. If they have a problem or an issue, then they can come to me and we can talk about it. It’s still networking with people. They’re happy to help because they get to converse with somebody that’s a little more experienced than they are for free.

    Mike: Yeah, I think I told you I used to do these rehab seminars. People would come out to a house where we were rehabbing. I think there’s a lot of these kinds of people. It was a cross between education, learning, but also entertainment. They got to experience something. There’s something there, for sure.

    Jean: Well, with you doing that, it totally established your credibility, 100%. I know somebody in California who did that and that was their way of building their cash investor list.

    Mike: Right, right. So would you say with contractors, you’re always trying to find the good ones, but because they know you’re not there, they’re going to have a tendency to potentially take advantage of you. Maybe to tell you more work is done than what’s really done. Things like that, I assume, right?

    Jean: Yes, but there’s the wonder of pictures. I get pictures all the time. This is where they are. A lot of it is when they want payment, I say send me pictures. And sometimes, you need to trust your intuition just a little bit, your gut feeling. This is a tough business. The gut feel is different than your fear. The gut feeling that something’s going wrong, something’s not quite right, somebody’s not totally honest with you. You’ve got to trust that and know that. That’s why I’m heading to Florida right now.

    Mike: As soon as we get done with this show. Tell me this, this is a lesson for people who are rehabbing remotely, whether you’re doing it right in your back yard, particularly if you’re not doing a lot of volume, is getting to the point where you’re important to that contractor. I know you’re going back to the same markets. Tell me about how you talk to contractors, or how you set this up as, “There’ll be more work for you if you a good job here.” Because that’s a powerful lever if it’s true, right?

    Jean: I’ve never had to say that. But, for example, the guy that called me and found out about the blog post contractors, and he laughed and laughed and laughed, well he decided to find out who I was. By seeing who I am, they know that there’s more work that’s going to come their way. So the good ones figure it out for themselves. Now, sometimes, the agents are a little bit more business-savvy sometimes and they’ll go and tell the contractor that this is somebody. But I don’t boast of it myself.

    Mike: Yeah, I’m not saying to boast of it, but the challenge with contractors is it’s always feast or famine. They never say no to more work . . .

    Jean: That’s true.

    Mike: . . . even if they’re backlogged because they’re afraid of the famine. The challenge is that sometimes you get somebody who has found more work than they can handle.

    Jean: Been there.

    Mike: They have a tendency to not tell you that until you show up and they’re not there. “Where have they been? It doesn’t look like they’ve been there for a week,” or a day, or whatever it might be. I would just expect that they could take advantage of that more if you’re not physically there.

    Jean: You can, but you’ve got spies. Your potential listing agent. You’ve already got a listing agent identified, hopefully, and they get paid at the sale, at the end of the sale. And if they see that being delayed, that’s delaying their paycheck. So they’re going to let me know. We’re all a team. And there are going to be conflicts, and yes, they’re going to tell on each other.

    Mike: Right. So, Jean, this is my guess, the fewer cooks in the kitchen for you on a remote project, the better. So are you trying to find a general contractor that is managing the subs as well, in terms of HVAC people, roofers, and all those things?

    Jean: Yes. And I want to talk a little bit more about contractors in general. Because you touched on it a little bit, how they take on more, and they’ll never say no, and that’s hard. And I respect their schedule. I’ve been there when they’ve just taken way too long, and I’ve got hard money on the project, and it’s costing me a fortune. And they don’t get it, they don’t understand.

    Most contractors are not businesspeople. And they’re not business savvy. And they just don’t understand what all of this can really do for them. If they had a business mind, we could go into business together and could make profits. They could make more money than they could as a contractor. But yes, I do look for a general contractor to handle everything for me. And I’ve also found that if I’m physically there, I end up doing more work.

    Mike: Yeah, I bet.

    Jean: You say, “Hey, I’ll go to Home Depot for you,” or whatever. When I’m not there, I’m not doing the work and I can do what I do well, which is finding another deal. Contractors, even the good ones, I say, have an expiration date.

    Mike: They get complacent.

    Jean: Yeah. I had one that needed a follow-up, they needed to finish their job and they disappeared. I had to hire somebody else. Do you want me to talk about the five styles?

    Mike: Yeah, let’s do that. Absolutely.

    Jean: I figured this one out pretty early on. I think it’s really important, especially when you talk to these people, to learn how to identify who they are. The first one is the salesman. That is the guy who will promise you the world and he will convince you that it’s a good thing to do. I have a whole report on this. But they’ll say things like, “You know what would make this really pop? What would be really awesome?” That’s how I know it’s a sales guy. And with the sales guy, there are two subcategories. One, if he has a production partner, then you’re probably okay. But otherwise, once he sells you on the deal, he’s gone and he’s not doing the work. That’s been my experience.

    Number two is the perfectionist. He’s the kind of guy you want for your own home. He likes making sure the work is done and done right. When you’ve got hard money or are paying high interest rates on a project, you do not want a perfectionist.

    Mike: Right, the project is never done.

    Jean: It’s never done. And I remember walking in on one, I said, “We’ve two bathrooms here. Can’t we have two tile guys here?” You can tell you’re dealing with a perfectionist pretty much from the quote. It’s going to be perfect. It’s going to be well itemized. You will get fooled into thinking you’re dealing with somebody trustworthy, that knows what they’re doing, etc. I’m not saying “fooled.” That’s not the right word.

    Mike: You’ll mistake a kind of professionalism for overly-anal-ness, right?

    Jean: Yes. In fact, I met one guy who admitted that he was a recovering perfectionist. The third one is the rehabber-contractor. That’s the guy who does his own rehabs. He does his work for himself and for other people. And to me, those are the best ones for me. They don’t mind getting in the game. They understand what this business is about and what needs to be done. Pretty much the only downside for those guys is they’re the ones who’re going to be in more contention with your listing agent, arguing about what to do and what to buy. They’ll have more conflicts, and they’re not very detail-oriented so they might not really clean up really well on the way out.

    The fourth one is the snob. They came into my world back when the market had really crashed. Their spec homes, their custom homes, and their beautiful homes were no longer in demand so they had to go back down to regular contracting. You can tell a snob when you tell them what your budget is and they laugh at you.

    And then, the fifth one is “Jose and Jose-B’. And they’re great. They’ll be awesome. But when you need them back or when you want to do more work with them, you won’t be able to find them again.

    Mike: Yeah, awesome. So when you’re talking to contractors, you’re slotting them into one of these categories.

    Jean: I am. Yeah, where are they going to fit? I can tell one that is used to the retail customer. That’s not what I want. I’m a rehabber. Get in, get out, be fast, and you’ll be paid on time. Treat everybody as with business. Any time I’ve sent somebody out to do a project and they send me an invoice, pay it. It’s as simple as that. I had one that said, “Thanks for your integrity.” And I was like, “Wow. I was just doing what you’re supposed to do.”

    Mike: Yeah, we have a bookkeeper so I’m not doing those things myself, but we have a process where if you email it in, we have a distribution list that goes to our bookkeeper. You get your invoice in by 5:00 pm on Wednesday and the check will get cut on Thursday. You can pick it up, we can mail it, we can ACH it to your account, whatever you want, but you’re going to get paid the next day. But if you send it on Thursday, you’re not going to get paid until the next Thursday. It’s just a simple process. Just get it in on time, it’s just a machine, and you’re going to get paid within a week. Usually, people submit it on Wednesday and get paid the next day, so it’s not that they waiting for a week.
    But I think the important thing is, and I think you would agree with this, what I’ve found with all contractors is the payment issue is really important. And the most important part of that is clear communication as to what your process is . . .

    Jean: Yes, that’s true, that’s true. In fact . . .

    Mike: . . . and how you expect to work together. Because if you don’t set those expectations, then they don’t know and something is going to get misinterpreted, for sure.

    Jean: I have spent way too much time running around, making deposits in people’s bank accounts that day, in an emergency situation. And I finally decided to teach them how to accept credit card payments. And yes, it might cost me a little bit more, but it’s so worth it.

    Mike: Yes. There’s a guy we’ve always been a sucker for. This guy was just a really good guy, he meant really well, you could tell he had a rough life. He couldn’t read. He was a cement guy. He did a great job any time we needed cement work, any type of cement work, driveways, paths, whatever. But without fail, “I’m at the job, and I’m done with everything, but I don’t have enough gas to get home . . .

    Jean: I need to get paid.

    Mike: . . . I don’t have enough gas to get home.” It’s hard to scale a business when you work with people like that.

    Jean: I know, and it’s really sad too because when I’ve gone and deposited money into their account, they hold it for a few days for them. I know that they’re starving. They run it that close.

    Mike: Yeah, yeah. You’ve been doing this for a while now. Talk about how technology has changed over the past few years. It’s a lot easier to take pictures and email them over your phone now than it was in 2009 when you started, right? You probably had a flip phone.

    Jean: Actually, when I went into real estate, I said it’s time to get serious and I’m going to get an iPhone. So it was easy to take pictures. And what I like even more now is the videos, even FaceTime, and Skype where we can be live, and I can say “Okay. Just turn the phone over this way or turn it that way.”
    Mike: Right. “Show me that.”

    Jean: Yeah, and it used to be Google Maps, and I could walk up and down the streets and see what was going on. But when I could get a person there to do it with me, it feels even better.

    Mike: Yep. Jean, let’s talk about control. Because I know that I’m a control freak and that’s something you have to get over or to find a way to hold at bay. And that’s in my market. I’m sure when you’re outside of the market, it makes it tougher, and that’s something you have to overcome. Otherwise, you can’t run a business that way. Maybe talk about that a bit.

    Jean: I think that’s people’s biggest fear is lack of control and not being able to trust who you have and your resources on the ground. As a businessperson, I trust that I’ve chosen other business people who understand what needs to get done in order for them to get paid. I don’t remember when we talked about it, but we just recently talked about the listing agent. The listing agent gets paid after the deal is closed. They’re going to check on things and let me know if there are delays. That is critical, knowing that you’ve got that kind of relationship in there.

    Now, I’ll tell you what I do when it comes to going to a new area or what kind of environment. A lot of people say, “I’m not going to go to that area because I don’t know that market.” Well, you find out. You learn about that market. You research it. You talk to people and you ask questions. Even though I’m a little afraid to approach people, I have found that through email, it makes it a little bit easier. And most people do want to help and do want to answer your questions. It’s been a surprise to me that people are just naturally that helpful.

    But the key for me is looking at the numbers. It’s always about the numbers. So if I’ve got a $50,000 potential profit in Miami, let’s say. Or a $10,000 potential profit in Austin, I really am more comfortable knowing that potential $50,000 profit in Miami is going to be worth my time and my energy, even if I have to fly out there. Even if I have to stay out there. That’s okay with me because that’s a lot of wiggle room that I’ve got in there.

    Mike: Sure.

    Jean: It’s that little bit of, “Okay, you’ve got a lot of room in there. You have to fly out there? That’s okay.” Like I said, it’s $250 to fly out and three hours of my time. Sometimes I even get a little nervous. I don’t know what I don’t know. And the reality is if I see $50,000 in profit and $10,000 in profit, that helps me with my comfort level tremendously.

    Mike: I know that, as we speak now, a lot of markets are very hot. There’s a lot of competition and everybody and their brother is an investor again. So what’s happened is a lot of people have convinced themselves that they have to pay more for houses. “I just have to accept thinner margins.” But what you’re saying is “Hey, that’s not true.” Just go play somewhere else. And as long as you stick to the fundamentals of looking at the financials, which should drive all of your decisions . . .

    Jean: Absolutely.

    Mike: . . . then you should have a higher comfort level with that.

    Jean: Absolutely. I come across some people who say, “I would never invest in Chicago. They’re a bunch of crooks.” That may be, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make money.

    Mike: Right, they need a place to live.

    Jean: Everybody needs a place to live, that’s right. And, even looking at Chicago, with its drive-by shootings, my agent says “Oh, that happens everywhere in Chicago.” There are geographical things you have to learn about and learn to accept. So I only allow one drive-by shooting. When there are four, then I get nervous.

    Mike: Well, Jean, we’ve got just a couple of minute left here. Maybe just take a few minutes to wrap up all your wisdom. Can you share everything you know in two minutes? No. But maybe you can share with people who are hearing this who think, “Wow, it’s been competitive here and this sounds fascinating, that I just go to other markets.” What’s your high-level elevator pitch on what to do and what not to do?

    Jean: Go in a market that you’re not afraid to visit. That would be one thing. Some people feel comfortable if they have relatives who are in the area. I’m very active locally here in Austin, too, with meetings with investors who just won’t leave central Texas. But I’ve seen them move to have to do their deals in San Antonio, or Temple, or other areas around Austin because you can’t find a deal in Austin. Again, you’ve got to change your strategy or change your location. Some people I know are staying in Austin and they are building new properties.

    Mike: Changed their strategy.

    Jean: Changed their strategy. That’s perfectly fine and they’re making good money doing that here in Austin. I decided what I’m doing is okay. You find what you do well and hit it with a vengeance. And this is well, for me. I don’t mind looking into new builds. I’m sure it’s easier in some ways because you don’t have as many surprises. But why do that when I’ve found my niche?

    Mike: Once you get yourself to a point where you’re comfortable rehabbing remotely, then you know in the back of your mind, “I’m in these markets in Florida and in Chicago. But every market has cycles.” The whole country has cycles. There’s going to be a cycle where it doesn’t make sense to work there anymore. And you just go to the next place. My guess is you probably have a hit list of what some areas might be down the road, right?

    Jean: I do. I’ve been watching several areas for a while. Some of it depends on people that I know I can trust or being there. That’s important. Like I said, there are cities that I’ve been looking into that I haven’t pulled the trigger on yet. Now, Miami is a perfect example of a hot market. And it’s getting harder and harder to do what I do. So I either have to do a smaller margin or find another location.

    Mike: Right.

    Jean: It’s not hard, it’s business. You just have to do it.

    Mike: It’s math, right?

    Jean: It’s math. It gets down to the numbers. It gets down to doing business. I think the people who have the biggest fear are those that don’t trust their business sense. I think that’s what’s missing with a lot of people, a lot of contractors. I’d like to help people get over that and talk about the business. If you just get your emotions out of it, do the numbers, it will make sense.

    Mike: Yeah, or it won’t.

    Jean: Or it won’t.

    Mike: It’s one or the other. Jean, I know you share a lot of great information and knowledge. I know you share your experiences. What if people wanted to start following along or learn about you, where should they go?

    Jean: My website’s I have a blog page there. I’m very active and I’ve got a huge Facebook group, Jean Norton’s Real Estate Contacts. There are over 7600 people in that group. I’m pretty much on Facebook every day.

    Mike: Not hard to find?

    Jean: Not hard to find.

    Mike: I’m familiar with them because I’m in those groups too and I follow along. I’ll have links down below if anybody wants to check you out and then learn some more.

    Jean: Okay, great.

    Mike: Okay, Jean. Thank you for your time, thanks for sharing your knowledge, and have a safe flight to Florida.

    Jean: I’m going to kick some contractor butt!

    Mike: That’s right. Have a great day, and great to see you, and thank you so much.

    Jean: Oh, thank you.

    Mike: Bye-bye.

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