In this FlipNerd Expert Show, I interview my wife, Lindsay Hambright. There are many pros and cons to partnerships in business, but partnerships are not easy. Especially if it’s with a spouse! Check out this episode to learn more about what it takes to make it work. Don’t miss it!
Mike: Hey, everyone. It’s Mike Hambright with FlipNerd.com. Welcome back for this episode of the FlipNerd.com Expert Interview Show where I talk with experts from across the real estate investing industry. This is a very special episode for me. This is episode number 300, and I’ll say it’s the most exciting show I’ve ever recorded. For today I’m interviewing my wife, Lindsay Hambright.
For those of you that regularly watch or listen to the show, again this is episode 300. You may not know that there is a . . . she likes to call it “a woman behind the curtain”, but in fact there is no way that FlipNerd would exist at all, there’s no way I would have done all these interviews, there’s no way we would have bought hundreds of houses and no way that I’d be with you here today in any capacity without my wife Lindsay. She really is the glue that keeps everything together and plays a huge role in everything we do.
So today we’re going to talk about two things. We’re going to talk about how to work with your spouse or your partner. Partnerships are a big part of real estate investing. But if you haven’t tried it, it’s not as easy as you might think. And we won’t even portray to have all the answers here because we’re still trying to figure it out after all these years. But real estate investing really is a perfect business to split up responsibilities on. But partnerships aren’t easy, so we’re going to talk about what we’ve learned after doing this for I guess eight years now.
Then part two we’re going to talk a little bit about our story; why we created flipnerd.com. A lot of people are curious as to what we’re doing or why are we doing this. Or you may not even know all the things that we’re doing if you just watch or listen to the show because we don’t really talk a whole lot about the flipnerd.com platform, and I don’t think we’ve ever talked about why we do what we do. So there’s really probably very few people that know what we’re doing behind the scenes and why we’re working so hard to make a difference or use this as our vehicle to make a difference. So that’s we’re going talk about today.
So let’s get this party started. Everybody, I’d like to introduce you to my better half, Lindsay Hambright. Lindsay, how’re you?
Lindsay: Wow, that was a very nice introduction.
Mike: Yeah. I don’t normally script them but I had to script this one. I had to make it perfect. And for those that don’t know, Lindsay is about 20 yards from me, on the other side of the office here. But it doesn’t matter, we could be thousands of miles apart. So Lindsay why don’t you take a minute and introduce yourself. Tell us a little bit about who you are.
Lindsay: Well, my role here at FlipNerd is to try to make sure that everything gets done. So I’m what you would call the executioner of the company. And so I just kind of keep Mike and the entire team on task. I’m really more of a project manager. I also handle all the accounting and bookkeeping for our businesses. And I’m kind of the CFO. Yeah, that’s essentially been your right-hand person.
Mike: Absolutely. So when you own your own business, for those of you who are listening, you can say, “I’m kind of this,” and “I’m kind of that,” because you kind of do everything, right?
Lindsay; Yeah. When you own a small business and it’s a husband and wife team, people have to fill in where the gaps are missing. So I’m the type person that really likes to enjoy learning new things and learning new skill sets. So, when it’s something that you’re not interested in I kind of dig in and fill in that role.
Mike: Yeah, and let’s talk a little bit about the real estate investing side of our business. So for those that don’t know, we wear a few hats. We’re franchisees with Home Investors, the “We Buy Ugly Houses” folks, and that’s how we got started. Literally we had never purchased a house in our life before that other than our first home that we lived in, that we bought a little bit after we got married.
But we joined Home Investors and we’ve probably gone to buy a little bit over 300 houses. For several years that’s primarily all we did, was just grind it out buying and selling houses. I think a lot of our listeners here are real estate investors more so than website operators. So let’s talk about that part first.
Lindsay: So what I’d like to add is that we kind of jumped into the Home Investor system and for us, for our situation, it was the perfect opportunity because we had both corporate backgrounds. We hadn’t really had very much real estate experience if at all. So for us it was just a great way to provide a system and a brand and a network of other professionals that we can tap into you.
Because that’s really half the battle is just the first year when you’re getting started, is figuring out your process to use, not just for you but for also your team. That’s the hardest part. But once you have a system in place and a process in place, then things start to roll and it becomes more of a routine.
Mike: Yeah. And even when you have those processes in place and systems and all the things that we bought into a franchise for, if you don’t buy into a franchise you still have to have all these things, it’s just a matter of . . .
Lindsay: You have to figure them out.
Mike: You have to figure it out on your own or whether somebody’s helps you along the way. But even once you have all those things, what we’ve found, which this is going to sound really obvious but this is through years of trials and tribulations, is that there are certain skill sets that I have that Lindsay doesn’t have and vice versa. I think that’s where a lot of partnerships fail.
People are expected to do certain tasks whether they’re good at it or not. And there’re things that we have to do whether we’re good at it or not as a small business owner, but I think that’s one of the benefits of a partnership. If you have somebody that’s not exactly like you, there’s usually skill sets that complement each other. How would you explain that better?
Lindsay: Yeah, basically you and I met in graduate school and we were apparently in the same class but I never really knew it until half of the semester because you were in the back row but I was always in the front row.
Mike: Yeah. That explains it right there, defines really, everything that’s happened since then. I’m a back row kind of guy. Like, “Maybe they won’t see me messing around back here but . . .”
Lindsay: But I do remember you cracking jokes and stuff in the back. But basically you need that kind of . . . those two skill sets are very important; someone that is more outgoing, more extroverted, that is kind of the outward facing person of your business. You need that person. Then you need also the person that’s probably more introverted, more numbers oriented, very detail oriented that will make sure that all of your ducks are in a row so that you’re in line with regulatory and any sort of other kind of tax reporting, all sorts of stuff that require details.
Mike: Cash management, obviously something that’s critical. That’s why I say, truly, I think me and Lindsay talked about this before, if I didn’t have her in the business we probably would have run out of cash or screwed something up on the financial side and some details would have slipped through the cracks that would have caused us to fail ultimately. And if she was doing this without me, she’s very risk adverse and maybe never would have pulled the trigger on buying a single house. So I think it takes that kind of yin and yang to be able to pull the trigger. This is an emotional business, there’re lots of ups and downs and to have somebody there to ride that roller coaster with you I guess.
What would you say in your experience are the added pressures that you have of being spouses versus just friends that are partners? We won’t get too personal here about all these.
Lindsay: There’re pros and cons sides is what I would say. The pros of working with your spouse is obviously . . . there’s an element of trust that you share and that is already established. Whereas if you were to find someone new as a business partner, lots of times you have to have agreements in place, documentation and what happens if you guys split up. Now, if you guys break up that’s going to be an issue.
But generally speaking, if you are working with your spouse you can avoid all that and there’s an element of trust that’s already established. Plus you kind of know the person intimately. You know generally what their strengths and their weaknesses are and you should have a good idea of what you’re getting into.
Mike: Did you know what you were getting into when we started the business together?
Lindsay: I did. Yeah, I did.
Mike: You did, okay, okay.
Lindsay: So the cons are . . . is just the added pressure of the business on top of your family life and your other household obligations. So it takes a little bit of a juggling act. I guess what we had done is to really establish boundaries in terms of what roles and responsibilities each of us have. So we both know what our strengths are and we stick to our strengths.
But the other thing I found is that when we put both of our minds together we generally make better decisions because you have a more encompassing point of view when you make those decisions. I’d say the biggest con would just be the added pressure of dealing with everything else in your life that’s going on.
Mike: Yeah. I would say probably the biggest challenges, like Lindsay mentioned, we both came from the corporate world so whenever we came home from work, if I had a bad day or something happened at work I usually didn’t dump it on her, it wasn’t like, we probably are both lying in bed thinking about the challenges or something that happened to work but we didn’t infect each other with it as much as we do when we’re both in the business.
So it’s kind of hard to ever get away from . . . we definitely take our work home with us, there’s no doubt about it. Lindsay and I, because we have multiple businesses and because we’re gluttons for punishment and we do a lot of things that we don’t really need to do anymore but we just keep . . .
Lindsay: Doing it.
Mike: Trying new things and doing new things, it’s hard to ever stop working I guess.
Lindsay: Yeah. Which is why even we are guilty of staying up until midnight and being in bed and saying, “Did you remember to do that?”
Mike: Yeah. Yeah. Taking a shower in the morning, you’re shampooing your hair, “Hey, did you forget to do this?” Like, “I just need to wash my hair.”
Lindsay: That definitely happens.
Mike: I would say, you’ve seen some partnerships, not marriages but partnerships in this business, we know several people that were partners and they broke up, it didn’t work out. What can you share with people that is like some of the bigger challenges you’ve seen that cause those failures?
Lindsay: Well, there’s lots of things. Some of the situations that I’ve found, at least that I can think of off the top of my head are sometimes one person wants to do something different, doesn’t want to continue to do what they’re doing. So that’s obviously a challenge that you need to work through. Other issues are maybe there’s a disagreement about the future of where the ongoing strategy for the business. So those can easily arise and that’s why it’s almost always important to get that information, to get your process for if you do break up, kind of almost like a pre-nup but in place.
If you are working with someone, not your spouse but someone outside, I would definitely recommend just having some sort of agreement, like what happens, if this does happen so then there’s not a lot of fighting and stuff like that.
Mike: Yeah. I think there’s a couple of things that I’ll add. I think that’s why it’s important to try to define your roles as well as possible because when somebody starts to feel like, “I’m doing more work. I’m doing 60% of the work and I’m only getting 50% of the profit,” or something like that, then it starts to cause friction. I think probably real estate has this unique challenge that is added to partnerships where even though we borrow money from lenders and things like that to buy real estate, we’re almost always personally guaranteeing it, right?
Lindsay: Oh, yeah.
Mike: So if somebody starts to feel like, “Well, my partner doesn’t have good credit. So I’m personally guaranteeing everything.” Then you start to think, “Maybe I’m working harder than them.” It’s like, “Wait a minute, I’m working harder and I’m taking all the risk. Why am I only getting this share of the profit?” I think same thing with rental properties, it’s like if you say, “You keep every other one and I’ll keep every other one and we’ll put them in a partnership together,” then all of a sudden somebody’s got the crappy one that the other person didn’t want and there’s just things that can cause friction like that.
Lindsay: Yeah, basically in those types of situations you want to balance decision making ability with the risk because if someone is taking on more of the risk, they need to have more control of the decision making because it should be balanced. You get into a lot of problems when someone is in control and making riskier decisions than what the person that’s actually on the hook for them.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah, and I think inherent to what we said, one other thing that I’ve seen is that people get in business with their friends, it’s probably people that are like them and they have the same skill set or very similar. Therefore you both suck at bookkeeping and cash management and it just brings you down.
Lindsay: Yeah. Yeah, it can. That’s why it’s good to have a variety of people on your team that can fill in those roles. Like I said, I think there needs to be a detailed, organized person and there needs to be someone that is very outgoing sales-y. When you have that combination then I think you’re unstoppable.
Mike: It’s interesting, sometimes you give advice, you’re like, “Oh, this would be great,” and like, “Oh, we’ve never done that. That was a good idea. We should have done that,” I don’t think it’s a bad idea to have a quarterly meeting or whatever it is. It’s like the airing of grievances, like George Costanza’s father. It’s not Festivus but it’s some meeting that you have quarterly that is like, “Let’s get together and let’s just lay it on the table and say, “This is where I think things are out of whack,” or, “Here’s where I need help,” or, “Here’s where things aren’t fair.”
You get oil changes on your car and maintenance on your car, why not have some mechanism in place to do that in your business as well? Because your business is probably much more important than your car or a lot of things that you have serviced.
Lindsay: Yeah. But I think that needs to be incorporated with the goal planning. So every business needs to be focused on setting goals, even as a husband and wife. The goal should be not just your business. Especially when you’re a husband and wife, it should also be life. Where do you want to go as a family, as a couple? Your goals should be just life and business. It should be all intertwined.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah. Well, we’re going to jump in to talking a little bit about FlipNerd and what we’re doing there, what we’ve been doing. Any kind of final thoughts, Lindsay, you want to share on advice on partnerships or anything else? We’ve shared a lot here but anything you want to add?
Lindsay: No. But I would like . . .
Mike: If you guys haven’t noticed, my wife is the introverted side. She’s very succinct. She wanted to know what the agenda was for this show.
Mike: I said, “I never had an agenda. We just talked about we talked about.” So some people might say, “Hey, you guys apparently had a successful real estate investing business. Why did you stop doing that?” We didn’t stop doing it. But why do you add things to the play? Why did we move on to . . .? And again, we’re still buying and selling houses, but why did we shift some of our focus into building FlipNerd, what’s that all about?
Lindsay: Well, it’s kind of a pet project I would say, at least for me. I think we came up with the idea because when we were buying more heavily a few years ago, we would always run into the problem of finding good vendors and having a good site to list our assignment deals or wholesale deals to other investors. And so we just saw that we were creating a buyer’s list and other investors that we knew were creating their own buyers’ lists. I just thought, “Well, wouldn’t it be great if we had one place that you could just post your property and there’s a culmination of all investors?”
It’s kind of shocking to realize how large the market of real estate investors are. Some people are real estate investors and they don’t even really know it or think of themselves as real estate investor because they own multiple rental properties and they may be looking for other rental properties. It’s just kind of something that is kind of you’re in my give to the world and we just thought that this is something that we could offer for new investors and it’s just something coming from our hearts.
Mike: Yeah. I think there was a combination of those things that you mentioned. I would say that there’s been a couple of leaps forward in the past few years with technology. But I came out of my most recent job, which is hardly to believe was eight years ago now or more than eight years ago that I left, there was a technology company, a startup and everything was very technology focused. It was an e-commerce company. It was just getting into real estate and realizing that the kind of real estate investor world and the technology world had not yet collided in any way.
The best that anybody had was maybe an early on meetup group or some 1980’s website that was just kind of junky. But I think it was a combination of saying, “Hey, there was a better way to do a lot of this stuff, let’s create that.” Then for me, the social side of this relationship, I’ve always had this itch to network and build relationships and things like that. We did a lot of that in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and then at some point it just expanded from there.
I actually didn’t realize what would happen when I started the podcast, which this is episode 300 now and we started it at the beginning. This was like a little over two years ago or the beginning of 2014. So what was amazing to me that I didn’t really expect. I guess I knew some of it was socializing but it’s just the kind of doors and the opportunities that that would open from building new relationships.
Then from there we’ve built upon that, “Hey, this could be a platform for people to meet each other and share their stories.” In FlipNerd we have the journal section that we’ve just recently launched where people can actually share their story, write about a rehab project or share their knowledge or whatever. I guess it continues to evolve.
Lindsay: Yeah. We’re still suckers for the “Flip This House” shows because it’s fun. It’s fun to see the transformation. Also it’s fun to watch how communities are improved, and so it’s fun.
Mike: Yeah. Did you know when we started a website that it would be as much maintenance and ongoing work as . . .
Mike: Yeah. I had no idea. I thought you just build it and it’s there. But that’s not it all.
Lindsay: No. That’s not actually it. It turned out to be true.
Mike: Well, in fact, for those of you that listen we just relaunched the new FlipNerd site, 100% built from scratch, rebuilt and launched with about 50,000 subscribers on our mailing list. We have around 22,000 members. But I think we’re planning to grow that dramatically certainly over the even balance of this year and the years to come.
Do you want to share a little bit about some of the things that we have off [inaudible 00:20:45]? On this show it’s all about the show, I don’t really talk about the website at all. We have some ads and stuff like, “Hey, go find a property. Go list a property.” But it’s so much more than that. Do you want to share maybe some of what the site’s all about or the things you can do in there?
Lindsay: Sure. So just like what we’ve had before, people can still list their properties for free. Once you publish your property, that will go out, an e-mail will be sent and a text or text message will be sent to investors, paid investors that are looking for properties in the same market as your published property. So it kind of is a marketing arm for you if you’re seller of a property. If you’re looking for properties it’s great because you can get notified instantly either by e-mail or by text if there is new properties that are published.
A lot of times these are off market deals so they’re not necessarily on the MLS or realtor.com and they’re being sold through either someone that has it under contract and you can purchase the right to purchase that property yourself. So the other things that we have on the site is we have an active vendor listing. So vendors can advertise their services in your market. So you can search for vendors. This is really helpful especially if you rehab properties. It’s really helpful to know and have a network of people that you can tap into.
We were always relying on Craigslist, which we’ve got a few horror stories from that. But you can also rate and review. If you see a vendor that you’ve actually used, you can rate them. We also have a section for real estate investment clubs. So we strongly encourage everyone to get involved in a local REI club because by networking with other investors it just brings a whole new element and opens up a lot more doors for you in terms of back deals or getting access, knowing about other vendors that can help you with your business.
Then, Mike, you also mentioned the member journals. So it’s kind of your megaphone where you can talk about whatever you want to talk about. You can provide before and after pictures. So it’s kind of fun too if you’ve worked on a deal or just want to brag about it. That’s the place to do it, in the member journals.
With this new iteration we now have a member directory. So if you are a paid member you can now search for other members in your area and try to connect with them. So that’s great.
Mike: Yeah, there’s a way to connect. It’s modeled a lot like LinkedIn. You could find other investors in your area or based on other types of things. You can connect to them and direct message them and things like that through the site, directly through FlipNerd.
Lindsay: Right. Right. So we also have a lab area. So, Mike, why don’t you tell them about the lab area?
Mike: Well, the FlipNerd lab is a premium area. So we have three different levels of membership. We have what we call “Basic” which is a free membership. We have the “Pro Level” where you get access to listing notifications. Then we have the “Elite Level” which you get access to notifications in more counties but you also get access to the lab which includes a number of things. It includes what we call “master classes” so some of these are fairly detailed training programs, and kind of taking a deep dive in one specific area – could be multifamily investing, could be investing in non-performing nodes, other things like that that are . . .
I think one of the things that people like most about what we have at FlipNerd and what I enjoy the most is I can now call friends, many of the top people in the country that are experts in given areas. So when we have somebody that’s contributing in the lab, we have these master classes that I mentioned, and we also have office hours which are live webinars twice a month with an expert. I’m usually tapping on the shoulder of the person that’s at the top of their game, one of the top people in that specific space that are going to come and share their knowledge, that for a lot of folks is just invaluable. If you need to know about that, this is the person you need to learn from.
We have a Mastermind group, a private Facebook group, and it’s only for our Elite members and some other things as well. But it’s just a premium area with content that we think is the highest quality content that we have to provide a custom but just higher quality experience for those members that choose to be an Elite member.
Lindsay: Deals and stuff like that?
Mike: Yeah, we have some access to preferred vendors and special offers and stuff like that as well. So you see, guys, she’s the thorough side. She doesn’t let me forget anything. “Don’t forget about the deals section.” So how do you think people can benefit? I talk about REIA clubs. As you know, we were a sponsor in one of the REIA clubs here for about five years. We’re actually about to become a sponsor of a new REIA club here.
So I think REIA clubs have always played an important role in the real estate investor community. We’re not trying to take away from REIA clubs at all. In fact if you listen to my show, I talk about it all the time. We wouldn’t have spent as much effort trying to create a place for REIA clubs to share profile pages and all. In fact, it’s free for REIA clubs to have a profile on our site and learn how to sign up for their club and all like that. The directory is free.
But one of the things that I think REIA clubs can’t match is the convenience of online. Therefore the information that we offer, made available is available 24/7, 365 days a year. I think hopefully we can essentially partner with REIA clubs in a lot of ways to provide content to people while outside of their general meetings. Does that sound right, Lindsay?
Lindsay: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
Mike: So who do you think . . . as you know there’re a lot of investors. There’re a lot of people that are what we call “newbies.” They haven’t really started or they’ve done one deal or they want to do this. Then because of the show and because of some of the relationships we have, we have the top experts in the country. So maybe you can share your thoughts on what we offer to newbies as well as experts.
Lindsay: Yeah. You mean with the Elite membership?
Mike: Well, just anything that we have on FlipNerd. How can FlipNerd benefit a new person and how can FlipNerd benefit an Elite person, someone that is an expert?
Lindsay: Yeah, if you are just getting started I think just watching the expert interviews will provide a wealth of knowledge, watching the master classes, getting involved with the office hours will provide a wealth of knowledge for you. It’s not that much money. I’ve heard people spending a tremendous amount of money with a lot of gurus.
Mike: Tens of thousands of dollars.
Lindsay: And have yet to purchase a house. So half of the battle is getting confidence, and you get your confidence by learning and divulging yourself into learning about what it is and how real estate investing works and surrounding yourself with the experts that are actually doing it. Then the other half of the battle is actually taking the action piece of it. So nothing will ever move forward unless you actually take action. That’s the other side of the spectrum.
So what FlipNerd provides is we provide actual deals for you so that you can actually go out, check out, do your research and jump in. So that’s the hope. If you’re an experienced person you can . . . even though we have been doing this for eight years, we will still be continually investing in ourselves and always trying to find out, what are people doing now? Are there different things that people do? Is there an easier way to do something? So just continuing education is never a bad thing.
Mike: Yeah. I think as you know we’ve talked about this before on the show. I’m in a high end Mastermind that, quite frankly, is $20,000 a year. A lot of people enter this and they think, “I’m at the top of my game,” and then you get in a room full of the people that are in this group, for example, and you realize that you’re not as big as you thought you were and you’re not as good as you thought you were.
I think it’s important to always surround yourself with people. I think that real estate investing is a lonely business if you let it be. If you don’t ever reach out to try to find people that you can build this relationship where you help and you add value and in return you’re helped, then I don’t think you can ever be at that at the top of your game. I think you’ve got to continue to learn forever in this industry.
Truthfully, even though we bought all these houses, we know nothing about notes, we know nothing other than an academic view of multi-family, mobile home investing, investing in land. There’s so many ways to make money in real estate that there is no one expert. There is no one person that can teach you all those things and I think that’s one of the things that we offer is we bring the top knowledge together to share that with people.
Even if you’re an expert, I know plenty of people that are experts at the top of their game and then they hear, “Wow, this stuff about notes is really interesting. Where do I go to learn it?” You just go right to the top. You want to learn from the top person instead of necessarily buying books and being self-taught because your time is money and you value going right to the best source for that.
Lindsay: Right. Also just to finish that thought, if you’re an experienced person, in FlipNerd you can obviously list your deals for free and have them marketed to investors in your area. And lastly, just the deal section, finding vendors and accessing the deal section will help you hopefully turn those flips around quicker and hopefully on time or under budget.
Mike: Awesome, awesome. Well, we’ll kind of wind this down because I think we’ve shared our story with you guys a little bit. I appreciate you joining us. Lindsay, thanks for joining me. For those of you that are listening, I tried to get Lindsey to come on show 200 and that fell through for one reason or another. In fact, I think around that time you watched your first show. Are you going to admit to the world right now you have not watched all 300?
Lindsay: No, I’ve not watched all 300.
Mike: In fact, when you watched one and I said, “What did you think?” you said, “It was all right.”
Lindsay: That was good. I thought it was good.
Mike: Oh, now you say it was good. I think you said, “Aah, it was okay.” Well, I guess we’ll give some final notes here. If you’re new to real estate investing . . . if you’re a veteran you probably have some experience or you’ve seen some other partnerships. If you’re newer I think the important thing, just to come full circle here on partnerships whether it’s with your spouse or somebody else is to just clearly define what it is you’re going to do versus what they’re going to do.
If it is your spouse, then you have to balance in your home life as well. If you have children it’s like . . . Lindsay says it all the time, she leaves at three o’clock to go pick our son up. She’s like, “I’m going to my second job.” That’s just the reality of the world that you’re in if you’re in this business with your spouse.
But I think the important thing to keep to try to keep your sanity, whether it’s your spouse or a partner is to just have clearly defined goals and expectations of what each person needs to do and to not be afraid to talk about it because if you let things fester, they just build up and you can start to lose some of that trust and some of those things that are a huge asset if you don’t destroy them.
Lindsay: Well, great.
Mike: Lindsay, thanks for joining me. I’m going to see you here in just a minute again. But everybody, thanks for allowing me to share my wife with you today. I appreciate you, will see you on . . . one more plug I guess. We’ve just re-launched the FlipNerd.com website so go check it out. Go on over to FlipNerd.com and if you’re somehow not a member yet, it takes about a minute to sign up for a free account.
You can check out all of the great stuff we have to offer for premium people at flipnerd.com/lab. It’ll tell you more about all of the premium content we have. So, everyone, we’ll see you on the next show and thanks for joining us today.
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