Show Summary

If you think “successful”, “Florida” and “real estate investing” haven’t belonged in the same sentence for many years, you haven’t met Rich Urban. Rich is a successful South Florida wholesaler, and as Rich tells us in this interview…Florida is back in a big way. Join us for this episode of the FlipNerd.com Flip Show to learn more about real estate investing in Florida, and Rich’s take on what it takes to be successful as a wholesale real estate investor.

Highlights of this show

  • Meet Rich Urban, South Florida wholesale real estate investor.
  • Learn Rich’s take on how the S. Floriday market is back!
  • Hear Rich’s take on what it takes to be successful as a wholesale real estate investor.

Resources and Links from this show:

Listen to the Audio Version of this Episode

FlipNerd Show Transcript:

Mike Hambright: Welcome to the FlipNerd.com podcast. This is your host Mike Hambright, and 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 three new shows each week which are available in the iTunes store, or by visiting FlipNerd.com. So without further ado, let’s get started.

Hey, this is Mike Hambright with the Flip Nerd VIP show. Welcome back. Today, I have with me, Rich Urban who is a South Florida high-volume wholesale real estate investor, and he’s going to give us some tips on how to be successful as a wholesaler. Before we get started, let’s take a moment to recognize our featured sponsors.

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Mike Hambright: Hey, Rich. Welcome to the show.

Rich Urban: Hey, Mike. Thanks for having me.

Mike Hambright: So welcome from sunny South Florida?

Rich Urban: Yeah.

Mike Hambright: You’re in Miami? Is that where you’re at?

Rich Urban: In Miami, yeah. We do all from Vero Beach, Florida down to Miami.

Mike Hambright: Okay, okay, awesome…and so you’ve kind of had a little bit of a roller coaster there over the past several years?

Rich Urban: Oh, yeah, yeah, I mean, South Florida market got hit pretty hard. As most people know, we were in the news as one of the fastest growing areas…during the peak of the market, and then we were in the news for places to stay away from if you’re a real estate investor.

Mike Hambright: Yeah.

Rich Urban: Now I see it coming back big time. It’s just incredible how much it’s come back from…houses are selling… As a wholesaler, I see people literally standing in line to buy properties from us. It’s crazy.

Mike Hambright: Yeah, that’s great. So how long have you been a wholesaler for?

Rich Urban: About nine and a half years now.

Mike Hambright: Okay, okay, that’s great. So talk a little bit about your business, and your model, and maybe how it’s kind of shifted over time with the changing market.

Rich Urban: Yeah. Well, we cover all aspects of real estate investing from rehabbing, long-term hold. However, I will say wholesaling is my roots. Basically getting a property under contract and then finding a buyer, usually an investor, who’s going to take over that contract and then I just turn around and take my check. That’s always been my main core part of my business.

Mike Hambright: Yeah.

Rich Urban: Even when the market was crap. But when the market’s going up, it’s even better.

Mike Hambright: Yeah, yeah. It’s a thankless business. Nobody understands why the wholesaler makes so much money sometimes, but you and I both know that the hardest part about real estate investing is finding deals.

Rich Urban: Absolutely.

Mike Hambright: Yeah, yeah. Well, talk a little bit about some of the lessons you’ve learned along the way from the time you got started. Probably some of your big lessons, I bet, are how to…as a wholesaler it’s not like there’s a tremendous amount of risk usually, but kind of, how to navigate a rollercoaster market like you had over the past five years.

Rich Urban: Yeah. Well, I’ll say looking back at myself as a newbie investor, you make a lot of mistakes along the way. Through the things I did see: when you get a property or contract, you’re going to have a lot of people that are going to say they’re investors. That they’re cash buyers. I know you’re an investor as well. I’m sure you know that…

They say they’re cash buyers. They usually have a daisy chain of 15 people that are wholesalers as well. So it’s especially important in a market as it’s starting to go up, to be dealing directly with a cash buyer. Otherwise, you’re going to get in a position where you have this property under contract, and then you have to find another buyer. So it’s just going to be a time waste. So that’s one of the main things I’m always concerned about when buying and selling properties in this market.

Mike Hambright: Yeah, right, right. So a lot of folks who are watching the show understand the supply chain of the role a wholesaler plays. But why don’t you talk a little bit about how you, effectively, add value as a wholesaler?

Rich Urban: That’s a really good question.

Mike Hambright: Yeah.

Rich Urban: Well, basically as a wholesaler, I find the deals. What I do as my main goal when I’m looking for a deal is… Basically, how low can I get this property so that my end buyer has a lot of meat on the bone so they can rehab the property, there’s room for them to rehab it, room for them to either rent it out and make a profit or sell it for a profit.

So as a wholesaler, the most important thing as far as putting value in a property is getting it at a really low price. Or getting it at really great terms for that end buyer.

Mike Hambright: Yeah. And will you talk a little bit about some of your strategies for finding deals?

Rich Urban: Yeah, absolutely. There’s a bunch of ways. The number one thing is, you need to get in front of motivated sellers. When I just say “motivated sellers,” I mean, people that need to sell. Not people that want to sell. A lot of people waste their time getting with people that, you know, “Oh, I’ve got this deal, this guy wants to sell his house,” but no. That’s not a motivated seller.

Mike Hambright: Right.

Rich Urban: That’s just someone that wants to sell their house. You need someone that’s like “Look, if I don’t sell my house by next week, I’m screwed.” Those are your motivated sellers.

Mike Hambright: Right.

Rich Urban: Or somebody that’s got this dump house in the middle of the ghetto, that now you’ve got people breaking into the house, and now they have a code violation here.

Mike Hambright: Right.

Rich Urban: So to answer your question in short, there are a few awesome ways that you can get in front of motivated sellers right away. One, pick the neighborhood…it’s called “farm the area.” Pick the neighborhood, fill your car with gas, drive the neighborhood and just start with writing down every single… When I say–I don’t know how this is rated, PG-13? Every shit-box house you can find.

[Laughter]

Mike Hambright: We won’t bleep that.

Rich Urban: Write it down in a notebook, you know, “Boarded up junker or super-high grass…” And when I say… You need to find houses that…literally, you know no one’s living in. It really needs work… You’re going to find some people that just don’t take care of their house. But this is the houses that you know are vacant. Write down the address, get home and look. Go on your property trading website, and find out who owns those houses. You just go and you could find the mailing address, look it up, then do a quick reverse search on WhitePages.com. It’s that easy.

Get their phone number, call them up, and say, “Hi. I see you have a house that’s sitting at XYZ Street. It’s vacant. Are you doing anything with it?” It’s really that simple. That’s probably the number one. That’s one of the fastest ways to get a deal from somebody that has zero credit…no-nothing.

Mike Hambright: Yeah. And do you market other wholesaler’s properties? I know some wholesalers are kind of like, “It’s a little more popular now than it was.” Some other ways, kind of co-wholesaling or finding ways to work together. Just for people that have a more robust buyer’s list and things like that. Are you doing much of that?

Rich Urban: Well, that’s a really good question too. I see nothing wrong with it, but personally, I don’t do it. Because I really do get so many of my own deals that I actually have people co-wholesaling for me. But I’ll do it as a favor occasionally. I don’t really…

It’s not really part of my business model to sell other people’s properties. However, if you’re starting out and you’re new, and you have a list…and that’s a great way to start learning. You kind of learn your numbers. It’s a great way to network. But yeah, if someone starting out, I wouldn’t see it as a bad option. But basically then, you want to focus on filling the list.

Mike Hambright: Right.

Rich Urban: That way.

Mike Hambright: So talk about that side of the wholesaler business. The importance of building your buyer’s list. It’s definitely a journey. You have to always be building it, but talk a little bit about the importance of that for a wholesaler.

Rich Urban: Yeah, absolutely. Your buyer’s list is really the core of our business as well. It’s great. It’s kind of like another integral part. I say, “Yes, we find a deal, and now you’ve got to have a buyer for it.” Otherwise, you’re stuck with this property you have to close. There are a few ways. We are constantly building our list, and we have a huge buyer’s list.

You want to make sure you go to all the real estate investor clubs in your area. Go to any of the conventions. Network. When you go to these clubs, make sure you’re getting everybody’s cards. You get home, and I recommend if you don’t have this and you’re a wholesaler, you’re out of your mind. You’ve got to have some kind of a way to keep track of these emails. I personally…everybody has their own that they love. I used to use what’s called AWeber, which is fine. Now I use MailChimp. And really, that one’s free. So there’s no excuse for anyone not to use that.

Mike Hambright: Yeah.

Rich Urban: You use MailChimp, start entering everyone’s email address that you talk to that is a cash buyer. You can put together a really nice-looking email with that. Put your personality into email. You can put a picture of you…put everything up on there. And keep in contact with them, I would say at least once a week. Even if you don’t have a deal.

But as far as building your list, go to all the clubs. Start going on Craigslist. That’s free. Go on there and say you have properties, if someone’s interested, join up on your list. Probably there’s…Facebook. There’s so many Facebook groups. You can even take out Facebook ads if you want. It’s affordable at this point. For a few hundred bucks, you could have a huge list in a week.

Mike Hambright: Yeah, oh, on Facebook you’re saying?

Rich Urban: Yeah.

Mike Hambright: Yeah. That’s interesting. So talk a little bit about, do you feel like anything has changed over the past few years in terms of… You know, as a wholesaler, the flip side of that is you’re always trying to build your list so you can find new people that are willing to maybe pay more than some of the older…not older people age-wise. But just, what I’ve seen over the past few years is we’re getting more for wholesale deals than ever before right now. And that’s because…

So we operate in Texas. Texas is a great rental market. So we tend to be attracting a lot more people that want to own a home as a rental. They may not be doing as many repairs to it. They may be willing to pay more because they’re not analyzing it as a percentage of the after-repair value. They’re looking more at a rent-multiple, or things like that. They’re just analyzing it differently.

Or, they’re able to get cheap financing, so they could pay more. So we seem to be selling a lot more now to folks that are keeping houses as rentals versus the traditional; somebody that’s going to buy it, rehab it, and resell it. But of course that depends a lot on the property, the after-repair value of the property. But are you seeing that in South Florida as well?

Rich Urban: Yeah. It’s funny to say. I don’t know if this is just a regional thing for us as well, but in Florida, yeah. We see a lot of people now are buying more for rentals than for purchases themselves. Keep in mind I’m in South Florida. So a lot of times, people will buy them as a rental with the intention of ten years from now maybe moving it. You know, it’s a retirement…it’s an investment for the future.

Mike Hambright: Right.

Rich Urban: But yeah, I would say… For that, what we do is actually, we like to segment the list of buyers. So we will have a segment for people that are looking to rehab and a quick resell, then we have a segment for people that would be looking to buy as a rental. People that are looking to buy and keep it as a Section 8 rental. But we know when we get a deal like, okay, this is good for this list, we’d send it out to that list right away and we know we can move with that, because it’s super-targeted to a buyer. We know what they want.

Mike Hambright: Right, right. So a lot of folks have tried to get started in real estate investing, or have an interest of getting started and they fail. Or they never get out of the gate. And surviving in South Florida over a nine-year period is no easy feat. So there’s lessons that you’ve learned there that the whole rest of the country could benefit from. Why don’t you talk a little bit about, just your general beliefs on what it takes to get started and be successful in real estate investing?

Rich Urban: Okay. I think what happens a lot of times is, some investors, they try to get started and they don’t ever get a deal, because they get discouraged. It is difficult. It’s not easy. If it was that easy, everybody would be doing it. It’s tough, especially for the wholesaler, because we’re doing all the work.

Mike Hambright: Right.

Rich Urban: You’ve got, basically you have to ask someone to give you less than what their house is worth. Basically asking for, you know… Of course, you’re giving them the quick pulls and everything, but most people are looking to go the route of “I want a hundred…” you know, they always want more than what the house is actually worth.

Mike Hambright: Right.

Rich Urban: So I think the main thing is most people, most new investors are not spending the right amount of time getting in front of motivated sellers. People that need to sell. They’re talking to people–they’re wasting their time talking to people that want to sell, or are looking on the MLS. You know, talking to realtors, and these are not for us. These are not wholesalers. Because these are people that don’t have to sell you a house. They’re not going to sell at a discount, because they don’t need to.

Mike Hambright: Yeah.

Rich Urban: They might have the resources, but they just don’t need to sell right now. So they have no reason to sell at a discount. Another thing is, I also see a lot of new investors get discouraged and quit, because they actually lose money. And I will say, just to fall back to when I first started. A memory of Vaughn LaGrimm [sp? 00:14:28], old-school guy that we studied under.

He always said like, “Don’t make big checks and you can’t lose big checks.” So as a wholesaler, don’t make a huge deposit check that you could lose if you don’t know if you’re going to be holding the property. We’d always use $10 or $100 deposits. That’s it. If you’re holding escrow. Don’t risk more than that.

Mike Hambright: Yeah. And to kind of mitigate some risk, are you using… I’m not sure exactly how it is in Florida, but termination options or right to purchase, so you have kind of an escape hatch?

Rich Urban: You know, in the past, I’ve used a lot of those “weasel-out clauses” like in the end where it’s…out for whatever reason. Now, I don’t so much because I’ve found I don’t mess with anything unless I know I can make money on it.

Mike Hambright: Yeah.

Rich Urban: But as a newbie, I think that’s a great idea to put an addendum on the bottom. A clause that specifically says, you know: “Buyer has the right to terminate contract if…after inspection…” Something along those lines. Yeah, that’s a good idea to get out at the time. Sure.

Mike Hambright: Yeah. So talk a little bit about, you know, do you feel like in South Florida now that, I think you were telling me before we started that from the time you contract the house to the time you sell it, values are increasing already.

There was stuff like that, that was happening in 2006, 2007. And I think for several years people thought, “Man, we’re never going back to where we were again.” But it seems to me like we might be going straight back there [Laughter] in terms of people getting sloppy and overpaying, and just getting carried away, cheap money. Do you see some of the same things that happened back in the days before things peaked happening again?

Rich Urban: Well, I don’t know. See, when the market was really crazy, like we were saying in our conversation earlier, when the market was really nuts in South Florida, you would get a property on your contract. And literally before you even found a buyer for it, the property value would go up. Because every two to three weeks, another house would sell at a higher price. So you knew, if you got it at retail, that you were still going to make money. You couldn’t lose money. Until the market dropped [Laughter], then you really lost that.

Mike Hambright: Right.

Rich Urban: Now, I don’t see it to that extreme. Although I do see… Again, I don’t know. I don’t know exactly why, what the reason is. I have my own idea. I think maybe because there’s less inventory at the moment, right now.

Mike Hambright: Yeah.

Rich Urban: So there’s a lot of investors that want to jump in to the market when they see the values going up. And there’s limited properties that are good deals. There’s a lot of people selling deals, but a lot of them are garbage deals. So they’re lining up and they’re actually beating out the prices. So yeah, there are definitely buyers, and it’s definitely better than it was last year, but I don’t think it’s as bad, as crazy as it was in the market. I hope it doesn’t get that bad. Because if it does get that bad, then we’re going to have a serious problem.

Mike Hambright: Yeah. So in terms of access, I know another thing that was tough in Florida for a while was just getting funding to do deals. I mean, traditional hard money lenders, if they were around, they were charging ridiculous rates. Just because everybody’s kind of scared. In a lot of markets, it was that way. But particularly in South Florida. So do you feel like access to capital for people that want to rehab and get deals, people that you sell to, does that seem like that’s gotten better over the past 12 to 18 months?

Rich Urban: Yes, definitely. Because there was a time when there was no way you could get any money. Even regular private lenders for giving out any money. Money’s definitely toughened up a little bit. All buyers are able to get hard money. Matter of fact, I have a person that was working on getting Gap Funding in addition. So basically funding on top of funding. So yeah, it’s not as difficult as it was even six months ago.

Mike Hambright: Yeah.

Rich Urban: So interest rates are coming down for hard money in private lending, I believe. They’re not as strict.

Mike Hambright: Yeah. So have you invested anywhere other than South Florida, or is that the only placed you’ve really focused?

Rich Urban: Yeah. My main focus is South Florida. However in the past, I’ve had it where, you know, we’ve picked up a deal. I haven’t personally invested my wholesale in another state, for example, because we had a house here in South Florida. The guy also owned a house in Tennessee. We thought about it, okay, so we found a buyer, we just happened to match him up with a home investor’s branch. In fact, we called the home investor’s branch guys over there and they took care of the whole thing.

Mike Hambright: Yeah. What’s interesting about Florida to me, or one thing that’s interesting, is that it’s kind of the leading edge of what will happen with real estate. In regard to Baby Boomers across the whole country. So it seems like there’s this curve that’s coming of, you know, a disproportionate amount of people are getting older right now. That they’re going to either move into assisted-living or pass away, or things like that.

There’s this bubble coming that I think will create a lot of volume and unique opportunities for real estate investors. And it seems markets like Florida and probably some areas of Arizona, retirement areas, will be kind of on the leading edge of that. So do you see anything, can you really feel the difference between…? Is the death rate up in Florida? [Laughter] No, I don’t know how to say that.

But you know what I mean? It seems like there’s this wave, this kind of Baby Boomer curve, is moving further to the right in terms of age. And that’s going to open up more opportunities to buy houses.

Rich Urban: Yeah. The thing is, where I live in South Florida it’s…

Mike Hambright: Miami’s a little different, yeah.

Rich Urban: Everybody’s basically saying that they come here to die. [Laughter] So it’s always been that way.

Mike Hambright: Yeah.

Rich Urban: There’s always been such a huge amount of people from up north that come here to retire. We do see a lot of people that are buying houses down here with the intention of living in there in the future. So I don’t know. I really couldn’t answer that question.

Mike Hambright: Yeah. [Laughter] It’s kind of a hard one to see it happening, but if you look back over time, I think.

Yeah. Cool. Well, any other advice for folks when they’re getting started in real estate investing? Some of the things that they should do? You talked about lead generation, which probably is one of those things that anybody that’s been through a boot camp, or watched a late night infomercial, or whatever. They conveniently never talk about lead generation, which is obviously critical. But you talked about building your buyer’s list, anything else that for folks that are interested in wholesaling that you would talk about?

Rich Urban: Well, yeah. Like I said before, the most important thing is: one, you need to get in front of motivated sellers. Two: I think it’s really important to get with someone that’s… take people out. Take someone out to lunch if they’ve done work. Find a guy or woman in your area that’s doing deals. And you can find them at your local real estate club. Take them out to lunch or something. Really network with them.

Try to meet with local mortgage brokers, or go to a title company and try to befriend them. Because these are the people that know what deals are going on. These are the players in your market. And just, that’s what helped me when I started out. Partnering up with someone that’s really doing deals all the time, it just kind of rubs off on you. You see how it’s done. It’s like, oh, this is so easy. And you can pretty much just do it. It’s just a pattern. The same thing, over and over.

Mike Hambright: Yeah, that’s kind of a spin on advice that I always give people is just it’s important to surround yourself with other people that are doing what you want to do, right? [Laughter]

Rich Urban: Yeah.

Mike Hambright: So yeah, it’s that way in everything, why wouldn’t it be that way in real estate investing? Cool. Well Rich, definitely I appreciate you. So if folks want to get a hold of you, maybe get on your buyer’s list, talk shop, how do they get a hold of you?

Rich Urban: Well, they can check out my website. It’s just www.richurban.com, R-I-C-H, U-R-B-A-N, or you can just send me a quick email at rich@richurban.com.

Mike Hambright: Cool. We’ll add all that information down below the video too. So Rich, really, I appreciate your time today.

Rich Urban: Thanks. Appreciate being here.

Mike Hambright: All right, stay in touch, my friend.

Rich Urban: Thanks.

Mike Hambright: All right, bye, bye.

Male Voice: 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.]