Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Another great way to get your direct mail letters printed...

Most new real estate investors opt to print their direct mail marketing letters on their own printers and then put the mailings together themselves… and this is a perfect way to get this task done when your on a tight budget and have the time to do it.  But there is a better and more cost effective way to get this done…

The printers that we often have in our offices or at home tend to have a tendency to just drink the ink cartridges, and those suckers aren’t cheap!  In fact, you can almost buy the printer for less than the price of the actual ink refills.  And don’t let them fool you… that’s where the printer manufacturers are making their money.  That’s why the “starter” ink cartridge that you get with the printer when you buy it has just enough ink in it to get you half way through one mailing, and always… I mean always runs out when you desperately need to print something the most.

I’ve found that it’s much easier, and just as cost effective to have your letters printed by Kinko’s or Office Depot.  And what’s really cool about using those services is that you can go to their websites and upload your letter file, and they will print your letters and either deliver them to you, or you can pick them up at your local store within hours.  This is what I like the most.  I cannot stand hanging out next to the printer loading it with paper and clearing printer jams! What a bad use of our time!

So, the first thing that you’re probably thinking is… will they mail merge my letters for me? Well, no they won’t do that… but here is a great alternative.  You can use a PDF printer to print your mailing to as if you were going to print them yourself.  This will create an individual page in the PDF file for each letter page in your mailing with the contact info merged in there.

For example, if you are using RealProspect to merge your mailings, then you just print your letter template to your PDF printer and a PDF file will be created containing all the merged letters.  So if you have 50 prospects in your mailing, you will get a PDF file with 50 pages in it and each page will be a merged letter.

Then you can send that PDF file to the printer and they can print the merged letters for you. 

You can get a PDF printer for practically nothing… in fact here is one that I think you can download for free:

A PDF printer is a software program that installs itself just like a printer on your computer, except when you print to it you get a PDF file instead of a printed piece of paper.  You can print anything at all to a PDF printer and you get a PDF file.  Its cool stuff!

When you weigh the cost of printer ink and your time wasted monkeying around with your printer, you can quickly see how using this setup to achieve the same results can be a much better alternative to the “do-it-yourself” way.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Get Real... Real Estate Investing for the Rest of Us!

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Lynn and Jusdon Voss, the editors and owners of a great online resource for real estate investors. Their website provides weekly podcasts where they talk about what’s going on in their investing business as well as others that they invite on the show.  And its great because it’s a FREE resource!

Lynn and Judson do a great job of putting their information in a format that you can listen to on your computer, or download into your ipod and take it with you.  The information covers anything from investment strategies to helpful tools and resources that they have discovered, and they have special guests come onto the show to talk about some of the things they are using to create success in their investing businesses.

I was honored to have been invited onto their show to talk a little bit about my RealProspect software. They had been using it and thought it was a great tool and wanted to let all their listeners know about it.  So if you are interested in hearing that interview, visit their website and keep a lookout for when they publish it. 

To sign up to receive their podcasts or listed to any of their past shows, visit their site at:

I think this is just another great resource available for real estate investors at any level of the game, so check it out!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

In a buyers market you look for buyers first, then find the houses...

We hear it every day that the foreclosure rates are skyrocketing, the housing market is bottoming out, and there are a glut of deals out there now. Finding deals is no longer a problem, however once you acquire a property its MUCH harder to execute your exit strategy if your plan is to flip, or retail it in this market.

So what does this tell us?  Its actually pretty simple... the market has changed from a hot sellers market (where deals were hard to come by), to a stagnant buyers market (where buyers are hard to come by).  But, because the Fed has recently decided to keep interest at the current low rates there are plenty of buyers looking to capitalize on this lucrative buyers market.

It's just that all the potential buyers are waiting for the absolute bottom before they make their decision to buy.  They don't want to get caught in a situation where they buy a property and the market slips another 5-15% and now they too are upside down in their new home.  But if you can offer them a good deal (price or terms), then there are plenty of buyers out there to take properties from you... you just have to find them first.

In the last sellers market cycle you could buy a property and put a sing out front and it would be gone before the paint in the living room dried.  But now its not so easy.  With MLS inventory building to record highs, and FSBO signs stuck in every other yard, buyers have plenty to choose from so there is no urgency on their part.

But, if you change your strategy and spend more time looking for buyers first, and then find them houses... now you have a business model that is setup to generate huge dividends in this market.  So, rather than spend time looking for houses to buy, and then look for buyers to sell them to... instead you may want to consider looking for buyers first.  If you can find a buyer that is looking for a particular house, in a specific neighborhood, and has a set amount to spend... then you can go out and locate that exact deal for them and almost guarantee a quick transaction. 

And because you are an investor (not a Realtor), you can create more attractive terms, or negotiate with the seller to produce the exact results your buyer is looking for... and get paid handsomely in the process.

So, where can you find these buyers? Here we can just go back to the basics and start by sending direct mail campaigns to large apartment complexes, or get a list from that gives you all the prospects in a specific demographic area that have a low credit score and do not own a home.  Its amazing what you can do with the lists provided by these major list sources.

Essentially if you are marketing to the right targeted market, and you can provide them with the American Dream of owning a home for the same monthly amount as they are paying to rent... and provide some struggling sellers with a solution... you can find yourself in a situation where your problem solving can earn you a nice income, and give you an opportunity to acquire some real estate with a positive cash flow...

And who doesn't like positive cash flow?