1st Call....I think...

Posted On 7:12 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

Hope everyone had a good Christmas break! As you can probably guess I didn't do any Real Estate stuff over the long weekend, I just enjoyed being with my family and friends.

I got a strange voice mail last weekend from a lady who wanted to know what "This Thing" was about. I can only assume that she was talking about a postcard that I had sent out. I have to cross check her name with the names on my list. Then I'm going to call her this week and see what she meant by "This Thing". I thought that was kind of funny though.

Tomorrow I am going to be meeting with Scott and Tom from NJQuicksell to go over some of their techniques as well as some of the strategies they are trying to implement. This should be very helpful as I start getting calls from my postcards.

On a personal note, but also real estate related, My wife and I are going to refinance our mortgage to try and take advantage of these LOW rates. We've only owned our condo for a year, but if we can drop our rate by over a point it will knock off about 250 bucks a month from our mortgage payments!!

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You've got mail

Posted On 8:54 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

Well I took a few days to put together a marketing postcard. It wasn't to hard as I hunted the internet to find examples. I made some adjustments to the post card to make sure it targeted Foreclosures and then mailed it out through click2mail!!

Took me a little while to get everything correct and to upload my lead list of addresses, but once my account was setup it was easy. I wanted to my first mailer to be simple, so hopefully I managed to do just that.

With out any further todo, here it is....

Total cost was about $65 including color and postage for 150 postcards. Not terrible!

Have a good weekend folks
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Not alot

Posted On 7:37 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

Not a lot going on but the guys from NJQuicksell are looking into short sales and asked me if I know any realtors who have leads. So I contacted the two realtors i've been working with and they both seem interested. I mean what Realtor wouldn't want to hand over their Short Sale leads to investors who are willing to do all the work, buy the property and then pay the agent their commission. Sounds like easy money for the RA!

If I can line these people up and they get some good leads out of it I could get some cash coming my way. Good learning experience non the less.

Other things

I created an account at...


...and once I figure it out I'm going to be mailing out some postcards to the list of foreclosures I got form Listsource.

and one last thing...

Christmas is coming!!! I love Christmas and everything about it. Everytime I stand infront of our tree I can't help be feel like a 5 year old again.

Oh and one more thing...

I'm trying to sell my Scion tC

Craigslist ad

so if you know anyone who wants a really great car, shoot me an email.
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It has been done

Posted On 6:03 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

Just wanted to let everyone know that I bought a list of about 150 names from listsource. Cost me $70, it could have been cheaper but I wanted to see some additional information about each lead. We will see if I actually need that extra info and I will adjust my future purchases.

I have no idea how good the list is, but I'm going to prepare a letter this weekend and then send out my first mailings. If anyone has any suggestions about what I should say in the mailings, feel free to drop me an email or post a comment.

Also thanks everyone who pushed me to buy the list, it turns out I didn't need a hard push but just a little nudge. Thanks again.

Have a good weekend everyone

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oh those holidays

Posted On 8:38 AM by Scott Costello | 3 comments

I've been chugging along in my quest to be become a real estate investor for over a year now and I'm finally picking up steam and then the holiday's hit!?!?

Open Houses

I haven't been able to go to any open houses the past 3 weeks. I've had a few chores I've been putting off that needed to get done. I was building book shelves for our office and needed to have them done by our holiday party last weekend. That took up a couple of Sundays. I've also been trying to sell my car and needed to take out the car computer I had installed and put back the old head unit. This killed another Sunday.

You may ask how come I didn't do any of these things on Saturday? Well as I've probably mentioned in the past, Friday Nights and Saturdays are devoted to spending time with my wife. We work opposite hours and those are the only times we get to spend together so I won't give that up for anything. If my wife is reading this...I love you honey :)

I need some help
I need someone(s) to hound me until I get a list of leads and start sending out mailers. This is getting ridiculous, I can't decide on how I'm going to get them. The stupid part is I know it doesn't matter, but for some reason I'm being cheap and don't want to pay a lot to get these leads. ahhhh what the heck is holding me back???? So please, someone start sending me emails once a day until I get through this stupid road block.

That's all I have for now...ugh
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Posted On 5:48 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

I went to the meetup meeting last night and although it was a small group, there were only 6 people, it was great. All of us can definitely benefit greatly from a group like this. The guy who organized it, Jarred, and the others are all nice people and willing to help and learn from each other. The good part is that I finally met some other investors who actually/will do business mainly in Morris County. I'm really glad I went.

One of the members of the group, Dave, handed out some short sales he was trying to sell. I figured I could advertise those and try to find some buyers. This can help build my buyers list and also if I find a buyer, put a little dough in my pocket!!

Bill Guerra

One of the guys from NJQuickSell forwarded me an E-Book written by Bill Guerra that deals with how to talk with potential sellers. He's got a great philosophy and demeanor to his strategies and I highly recommend if you have the opportunity to buy his ebook.

How to talk to Real Estate Sellers
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I need another long weekend

Posted On 11:40 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

But this time I don't want to have a holiday attached to it! Man its rough getting anything done around the holidays. I had to finish up the book shelves I'm building for the office and I also spent a lot of my free time doing AutoCadd for my brother in order to try and get a project out today. I enjoy building the bookshelves (I'm making them myself from planks of wood) very much! On the other hand I'm not a big fan of doing the AutoCadd work for my brother, but it does bring in some extra money.

Onto Real Estate related matters....

Those guys from njquicksell are really nice guys! They send me free material to study like Bill Guerra's stuff and are very willing to help me as I'm helping them. I'm looking forward to working with them. They are both part time investors, who just so happen to be programmers just like myself. Now that I've got my foot in the door, I've got to work even harder to prove myself. I've got to really get out there and get past any mental blocks that are holding me back.


I might have mentioned in a previous post (i'm to lazy to look back right now) about a site called...


...that helps organize groups of people with common interests. I found one that's fairly local that some Investors started, so I'm gonna go try it out Tuesday night. You really have to meet people in the business, you can't do it all by yourself or it can become over whelming.

On that note, I'm off to do some work at my JOB.

Hope everyone had a good thanksgiving and stayed out of the stores. Shop online people!!
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100 % Call back rate!

Posted On 7:33 AM by Scott Costello | 1 comments

Well that makes 2 for 2, I got a call from a nice lady over the weekend regarding my letter I sent out to her about the vacant house I found. She is the daughter of the woman who had died and along with her brother have inherited the house. She said that her brother is handling the sale of the house and gave me his name and number. I'm going to attempt to call him tonight after I get home from work.


I talked with the guy from NJQuickSell last Thursday and it looks like I'm going to bird dog for them. They understand that I'm just starting out and are willing to help me get my foot into the business. They also understand that in time I'll start wholesaling myself and will no longer be sending them my leads. This could be a big step for me as it will allow me to get experience with talking to sellers and also help me learn the process and see how a lead becomes a deal and the deal turns into a sale. I don't even care if I earn money right now, but they will pay about 10% of the profits if one of my leads becomes a deal.

Open Houses and...

I didn't get a chance to go to open houses this weekend as I had to do some other needed things around the house that were building up. I know I had more to say in this blog entry, but I can't think of anything else at the moment. I'll post when I remember.

have a good short week!
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Woof woof

Posted On 10:37 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

I forgot to mention that on my open house tour I saw my first "We buy houses" sign stuck to a telephone poll. Took me like 5 trips through the intersection before I finally hit a red light so i could see and write down the number. It also had a webpage...


...so I looked them up and sent out an email. I said that I saw there sign and was wondering if they were looking for any birddogs. I figured it would be a good way to get "trained".

Well during lunch I had a message on my cell phone (didn't hear/feel the ring) and it was those guys and they sounded very interested in possibly having me for a birddog. I have to call them back, but my cell phone is about dead so I'll have to wait till I get home and can charge it.

Oh the joys of technology. I had a Stephanie Davis (if you read her blog you know she and electronics don't mix well) moment and accidentally flung my blackberry pearl into the air and it crashed onto the tile kitchen floor, breaking the screen. YES!?!?!?!

So now i'm using my old Razr which I hate with a passion and I'm not eligible for an upgrade until march. I'm gonna have to take the abuse from my wife and spend some money on a phone. Maybe I can find a decent one on ebay.

REIA Meeting

I'm not sure if this meeting is any representation of how all the other monthly meetings are, but it was great! Very informative and they have a great philosophy of not having speakers who pitch products. They only have speakers for purely educational reasons. I loved it. Thanks Bruce for recommending it! I'm going to be joining next month.

That's it for today....I'm getting there!
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Posted On 10:42 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

As with every weekend, this one went by way to quickly! Here is the round up of what I did..

Mailers to Vacants

SHOCKINGLY, I received a phone call from one of the 2 letters I sent out on Friday. It turned out that the house wasn't vacant, whoops. The 85 year old man who lived in the house called. He was nice, and I apologized for the mistake. He did however confirm that the other house (the one next door) was vacant and gave me the family name to contact. That name was the same name I sent my other letter to, so we'll see what happens. If I don't hear anything in a few weeks I'll send out another letter.

Open Houses

I went to only 5 of them, half of my goal. I didn't have time to plan out my route, so I played the back and forth across town game again. I actually went to 7 open houses but one was a condo. I thought it was a house from the paper, it was selling for 216k and I wanted to go see why it was so cheap. I found out! haha. The other open house was that same house i went to in September where I met the builder and his realtor wife.

Chat with Builder's wife

His wife is really nice and we talked for about 30 minutes about what was going on in and around the town concerning the RE market. She was throwing out some homes in the area that could be in trouble. I knew where two of the homes are, so I'm going to find out the names and send mailers to them and see what happens.

I also found out that the builder and his wife spend the winters in california, so they aren't currently looking for anything new right now. If they come back to NJ for the spring and summer they will be. I gave her a few of my cards and told her if she hears about anything to let me know.

Metro REIA Meeting

The Metro REIA meeting is tonight. It will be the first one from that group that I will be attending. I'm sure it will be good, but I'll let you all know how it goes in my next blog entry.

Open House Count: 55
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Sent out Letters

Posted On 11:32 AM by Scott Costello | 3 comments

This week wasn't my most productive weeks. I'm not sure what happened, I just think I didn't prioritize my time to well. Last night I did manage to finalize the letters for the vacant homes, re-found the owner's addresses and dropped the letters off in the mail today. They should be calling me by Tuesday at the latest ready to hand me the keys for cheap!!

I was going to write it out by hand, but then I thought of just getting a script font from online and using that. I'll post the font when I get home. I also fed some regular lined note paper into the print and printed the letter onto that. I then hand wrote the mailing addresses and dropped it into the mail.

Here is the letter that I sent out...


I’m sorry to contact you like this, but I wasn’t sure how else to reach you. This letter is in regards to the house you may own at 123 Main Pl, in Whippany. I enjoy taking my dog Jack for walks around different neighborhoods and on one of my walks I noticed this house and it appeared to be vacant.

I am looking to purchase a house in the area with in the next two months and would love to be able to talk with you about purchasing the property. I'm not sure if you tried to sell it in the past or the circumstances in which you become responsible for this house, but it must be a burden to maintain it. It's hard enough to keep up with the chores of your own house let alone one you don't live in. My friends have owned second houses down the shore and every other month they are traveling 2+ hours just to check on the pipes in the winter, air the place out or just make sure nothing was stolen. They would much rather be spending time with their family then keeping tabs on their second house.

When a house is vacant, it is very susceptible to looters who can steal the copper wires as well as the furniture and appliances. Worse yet is that the pipes could freeze over the winter and cause thousands of dollars of damage and make the house harder to sell, losing you money. A little know fact is that homeowners' insurance policies typically require that the owner live in the house.

I would like the chance to talk with you about buying this property. If we agree to a fair price, I can purchase your house in as-is condition and in a matter of weeks.

So please contact me as soon as possible.

Best Regards,

Scott Costello

Cell: 973-476-0684

Home: 973-206-1430

Email: sjcostello@gmail.com

P.S. I've identified a few other houses I am interested in and expect to hear back from them shortly so my interest in the house is short term

P.P.S Even if you are not interested in selling now, I've included my business card for you to hold on to in case you change your mind.

P.P.P.S If you know of anyone else who needs to sell a house quickly, I will pay a referal fee of $1000 if I buy it.
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Expanding Network

Posted On 10:20 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

Besides celebrating my birthday this past weekend at the Melting Pot (mmmm goood) I got a few things accomplished.

Open Houses

I took my wife with me this time and went to 6 open houses. Which actually puts me at the half way point to achieving my goal of 100. It sucks that there is only really a 3 hour window (1pm to 4pm) to see open houses. To see more in that time frame I'm going to have to plan my routes out better. When you have to drive back and forth across town it really eats up time. I'm going to try and hit 10 of them next sunday.

Possible New Investor Friends

There was a thread at ReiClub.com about NJ Investors, so I took the opportunity to send a message to a few of the respondents and may have stumbled upon a few investors right in my area. One of the investors, Ryan, runs a great webpage called...


...where you can get all the Lis Pendens listed in the NJ Public records. It is in an easy to search format. His site also allows you to track them and keep tabs on which ones you've mailed to and also allows you to create a mail merge. It's a very clean site and could be of great benefit for an investor as it is all web based. Good Job Ryan.

Another thing that came out of talking with Ryan is that he told me a few of the people from that thread are planning on meeting up sometime in the next week or so. Would be a great opportunity to get to know the area investors for sure. So I'm in if they figure out a time and place.

Vacant House Sales Letter

I got a chance to make a second version of the sales letter that I think is better, but I didn't get a chance to send it out as my wife kept me busy all weekend. Since I only get to see her on weekends, my time is with her first and foremost. So I'll do a quick run through of it tonight and then send them out tomorrow.

Business Cards

I also need to come up with some basic business cards to give to sellers, you know the "I Buy Houses" type cards that are simple and colorful. I want to send them with my letters.

Anyhow, that's it for today. Hope everyone had a good weekend.

Open House Count: 50
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Posted On 8:04 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

Tomorrow is my Birthday, I will be turning 32!
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Vacant House Sales Letter

Posted On 7:52 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

I finally got fed up with myself for putting off writing the sales letter to those vacant houses I mentioned a while back that I wrote my first draft last night. Gonna re read it tonight and then send it out on saturday. If it's any good I don't know but at least I'll have sent it out and made first contact. Here is the first draft of the letter...

Hi Owner

I’m sorry to contact you like this, but I wasn’t sure how else to reach you. This letter is in regards to the house you may own at 123 Vacant House Pl, in Whippany. It looks to be vacant and if so I can only imagine it being a drain on your family’s finances.

I am looking to purchase a house in the area with in the next two months and would love to be able to take the burden of a vacant home from you and ease your minds as you are probably wondering how you will sell in such a down market.

I can purchase your house in as is condition and relieve you of your stress in a matter of weeks.

When a house is vacant, it is very susceptible to looters who can steal the copper wires as well as the furniture and appliances. Worse yet is that the pipes could freeze over the winter and cause thousands of dollars of damage and make the house harder to sell, losing you money. A little know fact is that homeowners' insurance policies typically require that the owner live in the house.

Please contact me immediately in order to sell your property at 123 Vacant House Pl before the winter months come.

Once I find a house to buy this opportunity to rid yourself of this financial burden will be gone. Call now.

I don't think it's bad. I will probably have to change the wording around a little bit as it is a bit jumbled.

I tried to..

  • Act like it was a conversation
  • Make them feel like I understand what they are going through
  • Make them think they could get rid of there problem quickly
  • make them worry about the house and problems a vacant can cause

Did I succeed? who knows
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Failed Goal

Posted On 6:08 AM by Scott Costello | 2 comments

As you probably are aware I didn't make any offers before Halloween. I'm pretty pissed about that. I have no excuses, but I will be making those 10 offers by the end of this month.
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Talking to People

Posted On 7:00 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

Over the past few weeks I've made a concerted effort to try and talk with people in the Real Estate business instead of just reading posts and material on Investing. In doing so I can feel myself moving to the next step, at least mentally.

Last Friday I stopped by my friend's Parents house to say hello because I haven't seen them in a few months. His mom is an appraiser and runs her own business. What I didn't know is that she is also a broker and would be happy to hold my license (for a fee, but that is only fair) if I were to ever get it. I'm definitely leaning that way because I am already getting impatient with waiting on Realtors to send me listings. To keep myself sane I'm gonna have to be able to do that myself. Mrs Z, also said that I could come by her office anytime I wanted and use the MLS there. YES!

The one thing that does come with talking to people is the ney-saying. I'm learning to block all that out, but I wish my wife wasn't there to hear it sometimes. The last thing I need is for my wife to get REALLY scared about investing.

As for the rest of the weekend goes I didn't get much accomplished because of my brothers Engagement dinner on Saturday and my friends Carl and Tracy's wedding on Sunday. Both were a lot of fun, and it was great to be around family and friends all weekend celebrating. I'm truly happy for both couples!

Those obligations meant I only managed to go to two open houses this weekend, both actually condos. Surprising though there were very few open houses this weekend and none close by.

Rent Control Crap!

The more I learn about the rent control in Morristown, the less I'm wanting to invest there. It really puts a cap on potential earnings for landlords. This is the law in Motown

Morristown has Rent Control. Landlords are not allowed to raise rent
without first contacting the Rent Leveling Office, then on approval giving
tenant 60 days notice.

Barbara "The Realtor"

Barbara sent me four listings last friday that I took a look at this weekend. This was my take on them.

Parsippany Rd Homes (2 for $500k)

I am not a fan of the location. That is a very busy part of Parsippany rd with Rt 10 being right there, the post office and Billy's Red Room. One question I have, and maybe you know, how hard is it to combine two lots? In any event I'll pass on this, as all the homes I've seen that are in similar locations sit on the market for a long time and I can't take that chance right now.

18 Harrison St and 18 Cutler St

These multi's where ok, definately in need of some work which isn't a bad thing. I heard over the weekend that Morristown is rent controlled (surprised I didn't know this before, I guess I just never asked). So I have to do some research on that to see what the extent of the rent control is and how it would affect a future landlord.

Now, for anyone reading this would you make offers on any of these?
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I've been Proofed

Posted On 11:08 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

I don't have much to report today except I got my Generic Proof of Funds letter from Coastal Funding.

I also got my first legit response from one of my Craigslist Ads, all be it not from my buyers Ad but from my Realtor Ad I posted. Doreen seems a bit to busy to help out so I decided to hunt out some more realtor's to have in my back pocket just in case. Hopefully this one is more responsive.

Another weekend full of someone else's wedding stuff coming up...ugh, so sick of weddings!!
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Tuesday Morning Quarterback

Posted On 6:22 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

Last weekend went by in a blur! Not to mention I caught a cold and was sniffling, sneezing and coughing all weekend.

I did manage to get some things done amidst my DayQuil/NyQuil malaise I was in.

Money, Money, Money....Potential Money

I contacted Coastal Funding to try and get a generic proof of funds letter. I hear the turn around is about 48 hours, so hopefully I will get it by tomorrow. Doreen sent me the brokers information so I'm going to call him over lunch today and see what he can do for me. I'm also going to contact the broker who's a vendor member of my REIA group to see what programs they have. I still have to find the time to go see the local banks I've found, I wish banks stayed open later!!!

Other Things...

Bruce, the investor I met at the last GSREIA meeting mentioned another REIA group that seems to be less "Pitch" and more "Teach" called the Metro REIA. I did some research and it meets every 3rd monday of the month. I'm gonna go to the November 17th meeting to see how they are.

Metropolitan Real Estate Investors Association

I am also going to go talk with my friends Mom who is an appraiser. Maybe she can help me out with getting MLS access some how. Maybe I can be her "apprentice" :)

I also managed to go to 5 more open houses on Sunday. There was one house that could have some motivation as the kids have all grown and moved out so the parents bought a house down in the Carolinas. The Mrs has already moved down south, while the Husband stayed up north to try and sell the place. Family separation could make for a motivated seller. The house is on a major road which breaks one of my guidelines as being to risky right now for me. I'm seeing way to many houses on major roads just sitting there.

Anyway, have a good week!

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Baby Steps

Posted On 5:48 AM by Scott Costello | 5 comments

Yesterday ended up being a fairly productive day in terms of moving forward in my investing career.


I called up Doreen and we talked for about 30 minutes. She sounds like she knows somethings about investing, she's done a short sale for a client and has in the past attempted to rehab and flip a condo. Hopefully her experiences will be helpful and not a detriment. She is going to give me the contact information for a mortgage broker that can provide me with a mortgage commitment. Now I'm not exactly sure how much of a commitment I can get, but I guess we'll see.

REIA Meeting

This was a very interesting meeting. As I mentioned in my last entry that there was a guest speaker, Terry Hale, who was going to be pitching his Commercial Real Estate Investing courses and bootcamp. The meeting was PACKED! All of the successful, big time investors where there as well. This guy was very believable and if I wasn't concentrating on wholesaling residential property right now, I'd definitely consider buying his course.

For most of the other "GURUS" that have come and pitched there products at these meetings my BS meter would go crazy, but for this guy it only had a few blips here and there. He sounded legit and I swear i heard his name before while watching the Apprentice a few years ago. I'll have to look that up. Anyhow, he had some good ideas and gave some really good tips on what to look for and how to turn properties into profit by being creative.

Two thumbs up for Terry Hale


At the meeting last night I met Bruce_NJ, from the flipping_homes forums. He had mentioned he was going to the meeting so we took advantage and met up. He is a real nice guy and knows what he is doing. After the meeting we talked for a bit and he shared some of his experiences with a few of his most recent deals. A good learning experience. I will say, that the more investors I talk to the more I realize they are all just like me, an average person. That thought gives me a lot of confidence in moving forward.

Networking Again

The other day I got a message from another Investor (Paul) through my "The Creative Investor" account, which I had just signed up for a few weeks ago. In the few emails that we've trading back and forth, Paul has already motivated me by asking me pointed questions like...

  • Are you getting your phone ringing?
  • Have you made any offers?
  • What are you doing to move forward?
  • What is your 90 day plan?

These questions really puts the "Analysis by Paralysis" investor on the spot. Its sort of like when you just graduated college and don't have a job yet and everyone keeps asking you..."So what kind of job did you get?" That question gets very embarrassing to answer after 6 months of "just looking" for a job and it motivates!!

Another tremendous thing that Paul did was he offered to help wean me off my analysis paralysis, he offered to get me a buyer and walk me through any deal I find and need help with. That includes using his contracts, attorneys, and title agencies if needed.

Things are moving forward and I'll be writing about my first successful deal very soon, I can feel it!
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Quick Update

Posted On 6:02 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

I was suppose to speak with Doreen (Realtor) last night regarding what we could do for each other, but she ended up getting stuck in an appointment till 9:30. I'll be giving her a call sometime before my REIA meeting tonight.

Tonight's REIA general meeting is going to have a guest speaker, Terry Hale "the Commercial Real Estate Expert." Never heard of the guy, but I haven't heard of many of the national gurus. The GSREIA seems to be really pushing this meeting so maybe this will be a good one and I'll learn something.

DAMN IT!!! I just remembered I forgot to bring my business cards so i could hand them out at the meeting tonight. I'd never make it home in time to pick them up. Note to self: Leave a box of business cards in my car.

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haha...I'm just practicing my marketing headlines, did I intrigue you guys?

On my way to achieving my goal this month of sending out 10 offers, I've run into an initial road block.

Now it's not a big road block but it made me realize that I need to have Leads coming in!!! How do I submit offers on properties that I don't have knowledge of? Stupid me! I also realized I need the following...

  1. A Realtor to Submit offers to REO's or any listed property
  2. Get Pre Approved/Qualified
  3. Create my sales letter to send out to my leads

I'm working on #1....I've got two potential Realtors that seem interested in working with me. Jay, the agent I met on my open house tour and Doreen the Realtor who was involved when I bought my condo last year.

#2...I've got a few potential sources.

  • Coastal Funding
  • One of the local banks in my previous post
  • Some mortgage brokers that Doreen and Jay have used (I like the first two options better)

#3...I'm working on it while Reading Dan Kennedy's "Ultimate Sales Letter"

I hate that feeling of spinning my wheels and not getting any where. That over whelmed feeling you get when you come up to something new and you are not sure how to proceed because you could go in 100 different directions. I always tell myself to just pick one way and go with it, the rest will follow. I usually follow my advice, but until I decide which way to go...odgida sets in!!

Have a good week!

P.S. Open house Count: 37
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Small Local Banks

Posted On 12:21 PM by Scott Costello | 1 comments

Over at Flipping Homes they pretty much preach that if you want to get lending these days it's best to go with a small local bank, those community banks that you've never heard of. Well now is the time to start learning where they are. The reason is that they....

  1. Keep there loans in house, which means they don't have to follow the big boys guide lines when it comes to lending.
  2. They are more flexible because of keeping the loans in house.
  3. They are more likely to give you a loan based on a good relationship and quality of the deal, then strictly your debt to income ratio (don't hold me to that one though)

I did a little hunting last night and came up with about a dozen local banks, at least I think they are local because I haven't heard of them before. Over the next two weekends i'm going to try and walk into a few and talk to them about what programs they have for investors. I'm going to follow Steve Cook's advice on this audio clip...

Dealing with Small Local Banks

Follow up on my last post about Realtor's...

I've been trading emails with the realtor I met last weekend and I'm going to try and give him a call this weekend in between all my cousin's wedding activities (Rehearsal dinner tonight, ceremony and reception tomorrow and then brunch on sunday morning). Jay, the Realtor, seems like a nice guy and open to helping me out so hopefully he's a good investors' realtor

have a good weekend!!
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What to say to a Real Estate Agent

Posted On 10:23 AM by Scott Costello | 1 comments

I contacted one of the Real Estate agents I met on my open house tour and asked him if he was interested in working with a beginner investor. He said he has worked with many investors before and would be happy to talk with me and share his experiences (not sure if this means good or bad).

I'm going to try and setup an appointment to talk with him on sunday. I'm going to follow Steve Cook's advice and go about it the following way...

First I'm going to ask him about his experiences with the other investors. What types of deals he found for them. I'll then ask some follow up questions so I can gauge his knowledge of investing.

Second I'll explain to him how we can work together. That I'd like to get weekly listings of expireds, foreclosures and handyman specials. That I'll need him to submit my offers (but I will see if I can fill out the forms and just give them to him to submit, saving him extra work). I will also tell him that once in a while I'll need him to run some comps and show me a house, but this won't happen to often.

Third I'll get into the amount of offers I'll be making (hopefully) and that they will be very low offers. I expect to get most of them rejected, but am confident a few will be accepted.

If he asks me about signing a "exclusivity agreement" I will decline and tell him I have no problems giving him the commision on all properties I get through him, but if someone else brings me the property it wouldn't be fair to cut them out of the deal.

So how does all that sound? Leave me some feedback if you have other ideas.
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2 Vacants

Posted On 11:23 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

There are what I believe to be 2 vacant houses right next to each other in Whippany. I can't be certain, but the places just don't seem lived in. I looked up the owners on the tax records...

County Tax Records

I then used the names from the tax records and looked up the Mortgages, deeds, etc. on the Public Records site

Public Records

This is what I found

House #1
The tax records showed that one of the properties is actually split up into 2 lots. So that is interesting to know. The owner's address is listed as the houses address so I'm not sure what this means. Maybe the person passed away.

The public records didn't show to much of anything that wasn't expected. I did however see stuck to the front door a sign about not lighting any matches or having an open flame because gas was in use. Not sure what that all means.

House #2
The tax records showed the house's owner has a different address from the actual home so this may have been an inherited property. There was a sale in 2002 that says "SALE BETWEEN IMMEDIATE FAMILY ESTATE" so that is telling.

The public records shows that the 2002 selling was a deed transfer of ownership to three separate people living at different addresses in NJ, most likely children.

If in fact these people are holding on to the house and nobody is living there for sure there would be some motivation to sell the house. So I'll send out a mailer to them.

I also want to check to see what kind of liens are on these two houses. I think I can get that on the public records site as well. I'll report back if I do.

On another note, I went to three more open houses.

Open House Count: 33
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Goal: Make Offer by October 31st

Posted On 10:51 AM by Scott Costello | 3 comments

New Goal: Make my first 10 offer by October 31st!

Hold me to it guys!
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Craigslist Ad

Posted On 10:47 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

I swear I posted this before, but when I came back to look at my blog it wasn't here. So....

Here is the ad I posted on craigslist as I promised I would in my last entry...

I know what it's like looking for investment houses, it can be very frustrating to say the least. It takes a lot of effort and time to effectively locate properties that will meet our strict criteria over and over again.

If you want to concentrate on your rehab or your rental property without having to worry about locating your next project, send me an email. I will do all the heavy searching and hand you ready made leads. All you have to do is send me an email with what you are looking for...

What part of Morris County are you interested in?
Do you handle short sales?
How quickly can you close?
Are you looking for rentals or rehabs?
Single Family Homes or Multi-plexes?

Contact me ASAP as I can only handle so many buyers.

I may already have located the property that meets your criteria. Contact me Now!

Tell me what you think...
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Random happenings

Posted On 6:36 AM by Scott Costello | 3 comments

Business Cards

My business cards came yesterday and overall I'm fairly happy with them. Actually having them in my hand apparently turned on the "smart switch" in my head and I realized a few things I should have done differently. Instead of putting "Company Manager" I should have put "Wholesaler". Also I should have been consistent with the word "Home" and "House", use one or the other not both. The quality of the cards are ok, nothing spectacular but should do the trick for now.

Demographic Research

Reading the book "Ultimate Marketing Plan" spurred me to do a little research on my local Demographics. I used this site

Morris County Demographics

and i found out that the median age for Hanover and Morris Plains is 40, while for Morristown it is 36. Which makes sense if you know the two areas. Also I found that roughly only 1% of the houses in Hanover and Morris Plains are rentals, while in Morristown it is about 60%. One problem about rentals in Morristown is that they are all Rent Controlled. Not sure if that is a huge hindrance for an investor, but I will find out. If anyone has any input/experience with rent control please let me know.

Local Investor Hunt

I'm trying to locate other Investors who invest in Hanover, Morris Plains, Morristown and any of the surrounding areas. I want to get an idea of how they are doing it. I've posted a message on the forums I frequent and have found some helpful people who invest in Sussex, Essex, Union and Summerset counties. I thank these people for extending their help and support and I will be using there expertise in the future.

Outside of that one Builder i met on my open house tour, I haven't had any luck. So i'm going to post an add on craigslist to see if I can lore some of these people out. Wish me luck.

Till next time...
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Market to who?

Posted On 8:31 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

The next question I'd like to answer is who should I market to? I've been getting some good advice from the forums, such as...

  • Centers of Influence (lawyers, Real Estate Agents, Brokers, Bankers...)
  • Landlords
  • Expired Listings

On my trip to virginia I started reading a pretty good book by Dan Kennedy called "Ultimate Marketing Plan." It has already given me some ideas on how to market. It's a really good book and I recommend it. You can get it from amazon for 10 bucks...

Ultimate Marketing Plan

I'll put together a rough idea of what I want to do and then post it here. It's pretty amazing stuff, but at the same time you have a lot of "DUH" moments. For instance, Demographics, you should focus in on those categories of people that are going to be most interested in your product/service. Don't market to people who are making payments on time and have good credit. You need to find those that are going to NEED to sell.

I'm only about 50 pages into this book, but my mind is definitely burning the midnight oil trying to come up with my marketing strategy now. If nothing else this book has gotten me to start thinking correctly.

Unfortunately I bought the book for $25 at Barnes and Noble!! I always forget they are expensive.

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Virginia...Here I come

Posted On 11:29 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

My wife's sister had a baby girl this past wednesday, 6lbs 9ounces and a head full of hair! So my wife and I are going to drive down to Northern Virginia and meet Maggie for the first time. I'm excited to see her, but 5 hour car rides aren't my idea of fun. It's all about family though!

It's to bad my sister-in-law couldn't wait a week to have her baby or it would have put me in a perfect spot to go to Steve Cook's bootcamp.

Haha, I was just thinking about that conversation with my wife....

Me: Hey hun, go ahead to the hospital without me I've got other plans.

Wifey: excuse me? what other plans?

Me: Well I paid 1200 bucks to go to a real estate bootcamp, i figured you could see the baby and I could improve our future...

Wifey: ****I'm gonna kill you look*****

Me: So what time do we leave to see the baby? :)

That would be a long 5 hour drive back to Jersey for sure. Anyhow this means I'm not gonna get much done this weekend, so I'll just get a book on marketing and read it on the way down. My favorite Marketing guy has a list of recommended readings here...

Recommeneded resources

Have a good weekend all!
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Business Cards

Posted On 10:43 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

I finally just sat down and put together a business card and ordered them from Vista Prints. They have good prices and are always running promotions. 500 cards for $8 isn't bad at all! I then added a glossy finish and adjusted some of the template photos so my total came out to $38.

My goal with these business cards was to hand them out to other investors, mortgage brokers, Realtors and other people in the industry. They have all my contact information and my business name(i settled on Costello Home Buyers for now). I am going to make up different cards for handing out to motivated sellers.

Here are the mock-ups of my cards. They are simple and I just wanted to get something out there, I can always go back and redesign them later. Let me know what you think. I made a little mistake on the back, I should have put "up to 1000 for Referral." Oh well I'll work with it.



Here is a link to an article about creating Business Cards...

Effective Business Card Design Secrets To Win more Prospects!
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What else can I get out of it?

Posted On 6:11 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

My Sunday open house tour continued this week as I visited 6 more houses in my surrounding areas (Whippany, Cedar Knolls, Morristown, Morris Plains, Morris Township). I have actually started seeing the same Realtors/Agents which is a good thing as they begin to get to know me. If they know me, and what I'm looking for then they are more likely to start thinking about me when a listing that fits my criteria comes up.

Sometimes I feel bad for "wasting" the agents time because I'm only there to learn the market. I then think that they probably enjoy the company as most of them aren't too busy as I'm the only one in the house. If someone else in the house I tell them to just show those people around, I then listen to what they are saying.

Of the 6 houses I saw, one was backed by a MAJOR Highway (287) and one was backed by the main NJ Transit rail line that goes into New York City. I got a good feel for how much each hurts the value of the house. The one that has the rail line in the back yard was easily 100k lower the actually value. The house that had 287 behind it was very loud and you could hear it in the house. The price had been dropped form 525k all the way down to 425k and my guess is that in this market it will sit for a long time. Gonna have to come down to the "Steal" level to get sold, probably 375k. The Agent said the owner was motivated, but for my first property I'd like to avoid having a major highway in the backyard.

One of the earlier houses I looked at I saw sold for list price of 546,000. It was a nice solid house that had the basic stuff updated and it was clean. It was an estate and was on the market for about 3 months.

From talking with the Realtors I'm figuring I need to pin down my criteria a bit more. So I'll list it here and if anyone has any opinions about it please let me know.

My Criteria

  • Starter house
  • 3 Bedrooms
  • 1.5 to 2 Baths
  • Built prior to 1980
  • $375,000 or less
  • Owner has lived in it longer then 10 years (not sure about this one)
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Why don't I beleive?

Posted On 10:31 AM by Scott Costello | 2 comments

Yesterday I got a chance to actually go to an REIA meeting. It was the first one I've been to all summer, and I'm not exactly sure why. It was good, but it reminded me that the reason why you should go is not for the pitch fests but to network with the other investors. From my experience there aren't a lot of successful investors at these meetings, mostly people just starting out. The real investors usually show up at the subgroup meetings, which have been on hiatus all summer because they are relocating there offices.

The first presentation was this young guy who was trying to pitch his seminar. It was an hour long and he could not have been more generic with his information and all his stupid catch phrases...oyie!!! "POWER THINKING"....give me a break! I seriously hope nobody bought into his shpeal. He was asking $900 (for two people to attend), but that was discounted from the 3000 bucks he normally offers it for. Anyhow, I shouldn't complain to much as at least he is trying.

The other "presentation" was from Realsource, which sounded good but brings me to the main point of this post...

When did I start thinking everyone who is trying to pitch me a product is trying to scam me?

...I mean, if they are selling something, I think they are trying to scam me. I never use to be like this, but now I can't help myself. The first thing that pops into my head is, "What's the catch?" Is this normal, or have I been reading about to many GURU programs or foreclosure scams that take advantage of people?

Who knows, but I guess it's because I've read so much on the great forums I visit and Steve Cooks course that I know most of what these guys are going to teach. Maybe my head is just to big! possible
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7 More

Posted On 6:51 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

Sorry I didn't get a chance to post my usual Monday entry. I was busy all day with work at my JOB and then doing more work for my brother when I got home.

This past Sunday I was able to hit 7 open houses! I'm definitely getting more comfortable talking with realtors/agents. I can tell, because I'm spending more time in the houses. This is good because you get to talking about the market and can then get a good handle on what is selling and why. More then a few times the Agents mentioned that Rentals in the area are hot, and that they have people lining up to rent houses. I got quotes from any where from 2000/mo to 4000/mo. I would still have to get a smoking deal to make that cash flow, but you never know.

In the conversations, I've been throwing out that I'm getting into investing so I can gauge there reactions. A few of them have worked with investors before or have dabbled in it themselves, but most so far just kind of smile and ask what I'm looking for. When I tell them, they just nod there head or talk about the great house they are selling for just under retail value. They all, with out fail mention short sales though. It's fun though and I can feel my confidence building.

One of the Agents mentioned that Coldwell Banker was going to be having, what they called, discount week starting October 5th. The idea is that they would ask the sellers what the lowest price they would accept and then advertise a bunch of those houses at "big discounts" for one week only. The discount being the difference between current list price and what the seller said is the lowest they would accept. Kind of like what Hovnanian did last year with their 25% discounts. I don't really understand how it's going to work, but I'll check it out when it hits.

Does anyone have any opinions about what Coldwell Banker is doing? I'd like to hear them.

have a good Tuesday!

PS - I seriously have to get some business cards!

PPS - Open House Count: 24
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What to ask a seasoned investor..

Posted On 7:39 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

I recently found out that my friend's father is a Real Estate investor, I think I knew this growing up but forgot some where along the way. So Hank, my friend, sent me his father's contact information. Now the ball is in my court. I'm gonna contact him and see if we can meet up, but what do I ask??

I posed this question on the flipping homes messages boards....

As a beginner, what should I ask a seasoned investor if I were able to have a sit down with him?

Here is what was suggested

JerryNJ Said

I would just be honest with him, and be confident in the market ahead. Some would laugh at that statement....

If he's been around for awhile he probably knows we are entering the greatest opportunity most of us will see for our lifetimes, and will test you to see if you are following the herd. I would just talk about how you two can be a "help" to one another. He probably doesn't need much help, but will respond to an eagerness to learn, coupled with a solid desire to do the work.

I honestly would view it as a solid opportunity to take your business to the next level, and ask him what you said "what are you looking for."

Steve Cook Said

What do you want to know?

Ask him.

How about where to get money?
How about sources for property?
How about, would he be interested in buying wholesale deals from you?
What's the best deal he's done?
What's the worst deal he's done?
Who does he use for closings?

He'll be a wealth of information. Make the most of it.

And Ken Holmes shared

If he has been a rehabber for 30 years, and if he has ties to your family....he could be the mentor you are looking for. We can all use a good mentor. The way I see it, you have nothing to lose and all to gain. Worst case, he doesn't help you and is tight with his knowledge and info. Best case, he can help you a lot in learning the business.

I would not look at him as a source of deals, or a player to flip to. He might see dollar signs in your eyes...his dollars. I would look at him as a seasoned pro with knowledge and be appreciative of his time. If it were me, I would ask things like: "How did you get started?", "What would you do differently today if you were starting?" and "What are the 3 or 4 main things I should always remember when doing this business? and "What are the 3 or 4 main things to be careful of?" Asking opened ended questions like these, and giving him time to talk, might be the best way to really learn from him.

Any deals you do with him would be gravy, on top of the education. Focus on the education and being appreciative of his time. Let that be what he sees from you.

Some great advice for sure and I will definitely follow it. Now I just have to setup the day to meet with my friends father.
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Taking another step

Posted On 10:27 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

I added my first buyer to my list on sunday and he definitely is a serious buyer! I went to an open house that was new construction. As my wife and i were talking to the realtor we found out she was the wife of the builder who built the house. We started talking as we walked through the place and she was telling me all the houses her husband has built and is currently building. As we were talking her husband walked in and she introduced us and the first thing the guy said was "do you have anything". He's definitely an active rehabber and has been building for well over 20 years it seems. He is a local guy and does mostly work in the area I'll be focusing on and he is very interested in possibly doing a deal with me if I can find what he is looking for. Which is pretty much an older home where he can knock it down and build a new house on. So my hunt for him starts today!

Since I got a late start on sunday and spent sometime talking with the builder guy I only managed to view 2 open houses yesterday. I did drive past all the other houses on my list just so I could see the neighborhoods they were in. I will tell you there are parts of Morristown that are incredible that I've never seen before. Great houses in the Jockey Hollow area!

Well that was my sunday adventure...Open House Count: 17
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How to spot Vacant houses

Posted On 5:28 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

I've mentioned in the past how I have been taking my dog, Jack, out for walks around the different neighborhoods in my area in an effort to learn the streets and get to know the area as best as possible. In some lower level neighborhoods it might be easier to spot vacant houses because the grass is not cut or there are news papers piling up in the driveway, basically you look for unkept houses. In the town I live in, you will pretty much never see that. Even if the houses are vacant, the lawns are cut, there are no piles of newspapers or boarded up windows.

Vacant houses will stand out in a different way, to me the seem to have an empty feeling to them. There are no lights on, the blinds are shut, it just "feels" vacant if you know what I mean? Anyhow, of the dozen or so walks i've been on with Jack there has only been two houses that I've seen that would qualify for my above criteria. One of them I've confirmed, by checking the tax records, to be vacant as the owner of the house lives somewhere else.

After seeing this particular block, I realized that these are the types of houses I should be concentrating on. They are the older houses, built prior to 1975. Now I have seen a least a dozen of worse looking, vacant houses on Rt 10 but I wouldn't touch (and apparently I'm not the only one who thinks like that) those because who wants a house on a MAJOR route like that? It is a 45 MPH, divided highway type road. Dangerous and noisy!! So I just ignore those homes.

Over the years, my town has seen quite a few of these older homes (not the ones on Rt 10) being cleared out for new construction. Just driving around town there are at least 10 spec homes going up right now. So this tells me there are rehabbers out there!!

On a side note, I've also noticed a lot more "For Rent" signs then I can ever remember in my area. I'm going to start writing those down and add them to my Mailer List.

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Posted On 11:57 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

I was reading up on Fadi's website about marketing and he mentioned a few names who are synonymous with the topic. Dan Kennedy and Gary Halbert. I looked them both up on google and found a great site from Gary Halbert. Gary use to write a very popular newsletter about marketing that you could of signed up for for a fee, but before he passed away made those news letters available to everyone. Here is the site...

Gary Halbert's News Letters

Just follow the archives link at the bottom page. Happy reading!

On a none REI topic...

I enjoy playing golf, and have played in my JOB's golf league for 7 years now. We play 9 holes once a week during the summer. My partner and I usually make the playoffs but get killed because of the handicap system that really favors the high handicappers. Any how, in the semi-final round we beat our opposition 10-0 (1 pt for each hole plus total strokes) so we are headed to the finals!!! As excited as I was about that, I was even more excited about what I shot....I shot an even par 36!!! My previous best for that course was a 39 and I had only once before in my entire life shot even par on 9 holes. That was when I was playing everyday during my summer semester at Virginia Tech.

Okay I apologize for bragging but I'm just too excited!
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Are you like me?

Posted On 12:01 PM by Scott Costello | 2 comments

One of the hardest parts about learning and continuing to move forward into Real Estate Investing is staying motivated. I've posted about this before but it continues to rear it's ugly head. One way I'm finding that helps is surrounding yourself with like minded people. This is tough when you are first starting out because most people you know will have your typical 9-5 JOB and don't know how to invest in Real Estate. If you are reading this you are probably like me. It's a giant roller coaster ride...

Roller Coaster of Life

...One day I'm as motivated as you can get, the next day I'm over whelmed. But what is important to me is going to the REIA Groups and reading the message boards. I keep reading them no matter what. Every day it pushes me one step closer to taking action.

On to my progress...

Last Sunday I upped my Open House Count to 15. I saw a couple of new construction homes going for 750k each and another older, starter home (the kind I'd be looking for) that is going for 475k. It was completely remodeled, the REA said the owner lived a few houses down and had bought it for their son who got married. Only problem was the Son got divorced and didn't want the house anymore, so they are now selling it. Great home, in a decent part of Morristown. I had never been to that part before so I learned something about the area.

My Website is on hold because I think my main motivation should be to come up with some Marketing Copy to send out to my leads. The Copy should also help give me direction on the website. I may put up a Buyer Signup page though so I can direct my potential buyers to when I advertise on craigslist.
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Posted On 11:57 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

I'm constantly debating with myself whether I should just bite the bullet and buy a list of leads from one of these guys

Info USA
USA Data
Melissa Data

I got one quote from a company and they quoted me $0.24 per lead with a minimum of 3000 leads. For the math challenged that is $720.

I've also heard that there are local companies that put out these lists, but I haven't found any yet or really know where to start looking.

Another hint I got was to talk to title companyies. The folks on the forum say they will put together a list for free if you use that Title Company for your deals. I will have to give that a try, maybe an advertisement on craigslist?

The third option is to do all the research myself but that is very time consuming and might not be worth it with my limited time.

Other Tips I've come across in my research are..

  • You could also look at tax sale lists, sheriff sale lists, eviction lists (if your county has them). We also have a delinquent tax database which could be worth a mailing to. If your county has some type of condemnation or unfit for human habitation list that could be good also.

  • Check the tax & land records for recurring names and/or companies. Look at the details on the deals they are doing- where, how much, financing used, etc. These are not only a great source of buyers, but a great (free) education for you as well

That's it for today. Oh I've also realized that I didn't have the correct approach to my website in terms of content. I need to figure out who I want to attract to the site and how to sell them on contacting me. The site I was setting up was more of a "Business Information" type site...Not what I should be doing at this point.

It's all about getting people to Call!
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Slow Labor Day Weekend

Posted On 11:42 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

Went to look at 2 open houses over labor day weekend. There wasn't much going on as to be expected, but I was hoping for more.

The first house was on a main street in Morris Township, was built in 1918 and had hardwood floors through out. It was a nice place, the floors were very creaky upstairs and in the finished attic(sp??). They were asking 475k and since it was the first house I've looked at in Morris Township I'm not sure how that price point stacks up. The house was on the market for 20 days and was vacant as the owners have moved out recently.

The second place was a condo in Morristown. I'm not looking for condos, but I saw it on my way home so I figured I'd stop in. Was a nicely setup 2 bed, 1.5 bath place. If I were looking for a first place as an OO I'd consider it at the asking price of $375. It was a FSBO and the guy showing the place (a friend of the owners) said they had already moved out and were carrying to mortgages now and would be very flexible on price.

The Open House Count is now up to 12 homes. Only 88 more to go!?!

What I have realized is just looking at the open houses isn't good enough. I am going to start documenting which houses I've looked at and then on the first of every month take a look to see if any of them have sold and for what.
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Money or Marketing

Posted On 6:23 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

Yesterday was a normal day for me since I started learning about real estate investing. I did my usual reading of the posts on...


...forums. I do this every day and it's amazing how much free and valuable information you can get! Visit those sites daily if you want to learn.

I usually work on my website while I'm at my JOB but needed to do some actually JOB related duties so I figured I'd just work on it when I got home. That didn't happen either because I needed to do some work for my brother. He gets a pretty steady business with creating CADD drawings of building floor plans and I help him with this. He pays me and I get extra money for my Investing as I've discussed briefly in previous posts. Well to make a long story short it took all my free time to figure out and update the drawings he needed.

So even though I didn't get to work on my website I was still able to help my Investing career move forward by making some extra mullah!

Also I may have mentioned this before, but if anyone wants a free website that you can use for your business I'd look into

Google Sites

my brother is just setting it up to keep track of all his clients and drawing files and it looks like it is going to work out well. You can setup calenders, share pages with clients (I.E. create a page for one of your deals and send it out to your buyers). You can also have file storage pages that you could keep your contracts on. I think it is limitless with it's features. You can even link your domain to the site and create email accounts that use gmail. To get all of that you'll need a free...

Google Apps

... account as well. Google is GREAT! say it with me..GOOGLE IS GREAT!

Well have a great Holiday weekend!
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Get out Get out Get out!

Posted On 6:15 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

Why does doubt creep into your mind as if out of nowhere? Every once in a while this rush of anxiety will rush through my body. I guess it's just the fear and uncertainty that the next step in my evolution to become a Real Estate Investor is. There is no more studying that I can do, there is no more pondering where I should start, there is only one thing in front of me now. That is getting that list of leads, whether by creating it myself of buying it, and sending out the mailers.

I started to think the other day that I wanted to get my real estate license again, and definitely going to. Now my usual inclination would be to do that first and then start investing, but I'm not going to do it that way. I'm not going to use that as an excuse to stay on the side lines. It's funny most of the time I don't even know I'm just doing things to avoid jumping into the game. I've rationalize it all in my head that I MUST do this, and this and that before I start. The mind is funny that way.

Well enough of these thoughts for now. It feels good to put them into words it kind of gets them out of your head and motivates you to get past them.

Moving forward!
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Open Houses

Posted On 7:27 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

On my first baseball free Sunday I took my wife to go see 4 open houses. Was sort of like killing two birds with one stone, I continued my goal of seeing 100 open houses and also my goal to spend time with my wife. It helps that all the open houses are in areas my wife and I want to eventually buy a house.

I can definitely see how going to 100 open houses will help in gaining knowledge of the area. I'm already getting a sense of price, quality and location. There was this one house, a "modified" ranch, that was very strange. It had an addition on one side that was a family/living room that didn't match the rest of the house. It had these custom cabinets and shelving all over the house, a hidden trap door in the wall between the kitchen and dinning room and the house was wired for a stereo system from the 70's. There was a fold out record player in the wall!!! This house was going to need a lot of work to be updated, it was a 4bed 2.5 bath and they were asking $799,000. My guess is that it won't sell very quickly.

The other houses where better and more reasonably priced. There was a newer home built in 1999 going for $699k (this would have been more but was on a major road) and a split Colonial for $649k as well as another colonial at $699k.

I'm finding it's hard to separate your likes and dislikes and just look at the house and see potential profit. I'll learn how to do that as I go I hope.

The rest of this week will be devoted to getting my website ready and getting my business cards(failed goal from previous week). Oh and I also didn't go to the REI Club meeting last week because I couldn't find anyone to watch my puppy. I will do a better job of planning next time.
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Under Construction

Posted On 6:25 PM by Scott Costello | 2 comments

I've been working on my website the last two couple days. After buying the Theme from Revolution I have been pretty much just figuring out where things are and how to effectively update it. It's not to hard but it's a slow process at first. Take a look if you have the time


Yesterday I decided I was going to take my dog for a walk around town a little bit to look at the homes in the area. We were out for about 45 minutes but didn't see much but nicely kept houses that would probably go from the low 400's to the high 700's. Since i'm going to be focusing on first time home buyers I've got to look for 3 bed 1 to 2 bath houses that should run around 350 in this area. I'm going to have to look at the older parts of town because anything new is a McMansion.

I did find out one good thing though, that little doggy is a conversation starter. Everyone you pass wants to pet the dog :) Great way to meet people and then talk about the neighborhood.

Time to do some work for my brother and make some extra cash, got a check for 180 bucks the other day.
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Vacation Pictures

Posted On 6:47 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

Here are the pictures I promised of my vacation last week....hope you like them

The Condo We Rented which is 3 blocks from the beach...

Mom and Dad (In the back), Brother Joe and Fiance Alicia (Right Middle), Brother Tim (Middle), his wife Jen (Left holding two kids), Josh and Addie(The two kids), Me (bottom right) and my wife Valarie (Bottom Left).

Addie on the Beach

Val and me on the beach..

Some places we spent alot of time at...

Boardwalk Pics
We are all standing by a letter...

He didn't want to go on the ride anyway...

Joe, Alicia, Mom and Addie...

Welcome to Wildwood

Actual sign on the boardwalk...

I think that should be enough :) hope you liked them
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Great Discussion at ReiPlace

Posted On 6:52 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

I was reading a thread at one of the Rei forums I visit everyday. The thread talks about loan modifications and how you can make money doing them or even just helping out a home owner. It also includes a GREAT example of a Hardship Letter. Have a read

Loan Modifications and Hardship Letter
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Back from Vacation

Posted On 8:41 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

I don't have anything new to post about except that I am back from my shore vacation in Wildwood Crest, NJ. It was fun, had the whole family down there with us which is always nice, 10 people in all. We all get together very well so there is never any drama. I'll post some pictures when we get them uploaded.

My goal for this week is to go to a new REI group meeting on Wednesday and also create and order some business cards. Here is a good read on how to create a proper business card...

Business Cards

Last but not least, today is my Wife's 28th Birthday so Happy Birthday to her! On here request, I'm going to bake her a cake (chocolate with vanilla frosting) along with diner (probably some sort of chicken) and then give the presents. I'll let you know if I don't kill her with the dinner and cake..haha
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Up and Running...but that's about it

Posted On 6:39 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

I managed to get my website up and running (iBuyNjProperty.com) but I have no content on it yet, that will be for next week and the week after to do. The whole process of registering the new domains, signing up for the hosting service and then pointing the domains to the new hosting service is never "straight" forward, but was much easier then I remember. The killer is that since it always takes some time for the internet to propagate your changes, nothing works right away so you think you did something wrong even though everything is setup correctly. I must have changed the settings 2 to 3 times before I remembered I have to wait like 10 to 20 minutes. I also installed wordpress, which was S I M P L E! I'm excited to get the template I mentioned in my previous post and set it up.

Tonight my wife and I are going to a wedding (been to about 24 weddings in the last 3 years, getting a bit old) and then we are gonna head down to Wildwood Crest for the week with my family. I CAN'T WAIT!!! So I may not be able to post, but I will bring my laptop just in case I get some free moments.

Quote of the day (new idea..hehe)

I like thinking big. I always have. To me it is very simple: if you are going to be thinking anyway you might as well think big.

Most people think small because most people are afraid of success, afraid of making decisions, afraid of winning. That gives people like me a great advantage

Quoted page 46 The Art of The Deal by: Donald Trump
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Posted On 8:12 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

I took one step forward yesterday and bought a couple domain names so I can create my investor website. I purchased them from GoDaddy and found a coupon code (OYH3) to knock the price down to $6.95 per domain. You can find more coupon codes here...

Godaddy Coupon Codes

It took me a few days to figure out some decent word combinations to get a domain name I liked. Well tell me what you think...


I like'm, and I came up with a few others as well but decided to just start with these three for now. My next task is to sign up for 1and1 home web hosting at...


As for the design of the webpage, I could do it myself as I'm a computer programmer but I don't want to waste my time designing the thing when there are perfectly good templates I could use. Fadi over at FadiZeidan.com recommends using this theme...

Revolution Real Estate Theme

...Which is very impressive. One last thing is he recommends downloading and implementing Wordpress. It's a blogger software package but is very effective in created a webpage that I need. As Fadi says...

I know some of you may think thats dumb… using a blogging software as a Real Estate Website, but if it is good for The New York Times, it is good for you… besides… you will see in a second what you can accomplish!

My choice for WordPress is not coincidental… WordPress is known for its 5 Minutes install… you basically download it… unzip it… upload it to your account hosted by 1 and 1 or GoDaddy.com and visit the admin page. WordPress takes over and installs itself!

You should get WordPress For Dummies it explains all the features in plain english and helps you manage your website.

Well that is it for now
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Finding Leads

Posted On 5:23 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

Yesterday I found the site for New Jersey that published the Public Notices and also the county clerks office as well as another site that will be helpfull...

Public Notices
Document Searches
Morris County Clerks Office

I played around with the sites and find a lot of Foreclosures and Notice of Defaults. Not sure how to tell the difference between the two yet but I'll figure it out. I'd like to be able to produce my own leads by looking up all of the following types of properties...

  1. Notice of Defaults Pre-foreclosures (NODs)

  2. For sale by owners (FSBO)

  3. For Rent By Owners (FRBO)

  4. Expired Listings

  5. Free and Clear

  6. Center of influence

  7. Probate

  8. Divorces

  9. Bankruptcy

  10. Vacant land

I'll report back when I figure out where to find the rest of these.
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Last Baseball Sunday...maybe

Posted On 11:13 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

Well, I could possibly have played my last baseball game. We won our first round playoff game 2-1. I pitched and managed to throw 9 innings and give up 5 hits and 2 walks. Not to bad, the game flew by though. Next week I'll be on vacation in Wildwood Crest, NJ for my family's annual summer trip so I'll miss the semifinal game.

I've also got to buy my wife a birthday present, her bday is on the 18th and I have NO IDEA what to get her. She doesn't want jewelry, flowers, clothes or a weekend trip somewhere. Those are all my backup plans!?!?!?! So I'm gonna get her tickets to see a show or something like that for starters. I have my eye on a comedian named Jeff Dunham (the ventriloquist) but having problems finding reasonably priced tickets. I usually have no problems getting her presents but this year is a P A I N!

Back to REI, I've written down my monthly goals and am gonna start by trudging through my county notices online and get some leads so I can send direct mail to them. Good site to find your County's information is on


I also am going to post an add on craigslist and some other sites looking for buyers. Lets see how that goes.
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Posted On 5:10 PM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

Just a post i read over at reiclub that is good information about negotiating a deal.

There is an old saying “You don’t make your money when you sell the home, you make your money when you buy”. From my experience that statement is about 50% true. Your ability to negotiate can end up playing a huge role in how much money you will make on a deal. Learning how to negotiate with sellers and buyers will be one of the keys to your success as a real estate wholesaler

Good negotiation with the seller will save you money on the purchase home. Good negotiation with the buyer will allow you to sell the home for more money. It goes without saying that spending less and selling for more is the key to maximizing profits.

Negotiation strategies for all situations

1.Identify your wants and needs ahead of time. Needs are the things that must happen in order for you to put a deal together. Wants are the things that you would like to happen in order to put a deal together. Always stand your ground when it comes to needs, if you must compromise your position be sure that you do so with your wants.

2.Try to identify the sellers/buyers wants and needs- By knowing what the sellers needs are you may be able to keep a deal together by making it a win-win for both of you.

3.Know what you are trying to accomplish ahead of time- If price is most important to you then focus you efforts on price. If financing is your primary goal then focus your efforts on getting the type of financing that you want.

4.Be sure that all of the decision making people are at the negotiation- Make sure that all of the decision makers are at the negotiation with you. There is no need to waste your time negotiating when the buyer or seller needs to consult with another party before making a decision.


1. Make your offer for an odd amount of money. If a seller sees an offer like 123,000 they may think that you have just pulled a number out of nowhere. If you offer an odd amount like $121,768 a seller will be more likely to think that you know what you are doing and some actual thought was put behind the number.

2. Never say “This is what I think you home is worth”. Instead let the sellers know that “This is the amount that I can afford to pay for your home”. This slight change in dialogs will help eliminate discussions about how much the seller thinks his/her home is worth.

3. Don’t be an expert. Sellers are apt to feel that they are being duped if they have a sense that you know far more than them. I am not saying to act like an idiot but definitely avoid appearing that you are an expert.

4. Move past sticking points. If you come to a sticking point in your conversation with a seller don’t sit and dwell on it. Move onto the rest of the negotiation and come back to the sticky point later on.

5. Ask for everything. In most real estate purchases there will be a variety of things that you could care less about including in the contract. Things like appliances, window coverings, antique fixtures, etc. Even though you may not really want them, include them in your initial offering so that later down the road you can give back those things to leave the seller feeling like you are willing to budge a little in the negotiation.

6. Use an expense letter. Layout the expenses that you think will be incurred in purchasing the sellers property. Be sure to include ghost expenses like interest paid while marketing the home, taxes, Realtor fees, closing costs, etc. You may not end up doing many of the things on your expense list, but it will give the seller something concrete to look at while evaluating your offer.

7. Make the seller feel good about themselves. If a seller likes you, the chances of your offer getting accepted at a lower price increase significantly.

8. Set up an imaginary deadline. This is a great tool for getting indecisive sellers to make a decision. Do not push too hard or you will appear fake. Example: Try to bring up the fact that your partner and you are going to look at some other homes tomorrow. Let the seller know that you only have the money to buy one home right now, and you would love it too be the theirs.

9. Test the seller. Don’t make them a firm commitment but ask them things like “If I could offer you x, do you think we might have a deal”.

10. Find out why the seller is selling before making an offer. One of the best ways to uncover the motivation of the seller is to find out why they are selling. If the seller MUST sell you can negotiate a far better price than if they are just CHOOSING to sell for no particular reason.

11. Find the sellers time line for selling. Prior to making an offer find out what kind of time line that the seller is on. The seller’s time line will often dictate the type of terms that you should be offering.

12. Do not get emotionally involved. Emotions have a strange way of affecting your profits if they are not controlled. Remember your goal is to save money, and if a seller knows that you are in love with their home then you have lost. Keep in mind if one deal does not work out, more deals will come along.

13. No bragging. A potential seller does not want to hear how much money you have made real estate investing. Bragging about your success will only increase the likelihood that the seller will feel that they are being duped.

14. If price is your main concern make everything else easy. If you want the seller to come down substantially in price then write a very clean offer. Clean offers often include fast closing times, cash, no inspections, and a good procession date.

15. Prove to the seller that you are a strong buyer. A seller will be far more likely to lower their price to a strong buyer than a buyer who may not have financing lined up. If you are sending the deal to someone else then a testimonial letter from someone else who you have helped may do the trick.

16. Be animated. When the seller lets you know what price they would like to get for the property show a surprised look, or take a deep breath. This non verbal cue may get them second guessing there price.

These are a few of the strategies that have worked great for me, I would be interested to hear what other people are doing.


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Reader, Twitter and Investor Words to Live By

Posted On 3:05 PM by Scott Costello | 3 comments

I discovered Google Reader today, which is great for keeping track of all your RSS feeds (Blogs and news sites). So spent the morning messing around with that, it's great and will allow me to read all my blogs in one spot. I also messed around with twitter for a little bit, looks promising but I just have to figure out how to effectively use it to help me network. That's about all I did today, so I'll leave you with some wise Investor Words to Live By...

* Look at market fluctuations as your friend rather than your enemy; profit from folly rather than participate in it.

* Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.

* Our favorite holding period is forever.

* Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.

* I will tell you how to become rich. Close the doors. Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful.

* Wide diversification is only required when investors do not understand what they are doing.

* Never count on making a good sale. Have the purchase price be so attractive that even a mediocre sale gives good results.

* We will reject interesting opportunities rather than over-leverage our balance sheet.

* It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.

* A public-opinion poll is no substitute for thought.

* The most important quality for an investor is temperament, not intellect… You need a temperament that neither derives great pleasure from being with the crowd or against the crowd.

* You ought to be able to explain why you’re taking the job you’re taking, why you’re making the investment you’re making, or whatever it may be. And if it can’t stand applying pencil to paper, you’d better think it through some more. And if you can’t write an intelligent answer to those questions, don’t do it.

* I’ll make more mistakes in the future – you

* can bet on that. A line from Bobby Bare’s country song explains what too often happens with acquisitions:

* “I’ve never gone to bed with an ugly woman, but I’ve sure woke up with a few."
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Bubble Bobble we all fall down

Posted On 6:14 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

I came across this today and wanted to share. It is about how housing and the economy are intertwined and what is actually happening now that is causing the housing bubble to burst. If you are interested in real estate investing this is a must read.

Bursting Bubble
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BP Rev 1

Posted On 10:40 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

I finished my first revision of my Business Plan yesterday. There are some parts I'm not sure of, for instance do I write it if I was a company? I used Costello Home Buyers. Or should I write it in the first person? If anyone out there can lend me some advice that would be great!

I will say it does really make you think about what you are getting yourself into. To write a complete business plan you have to think out the entire process thoroughly. If I had written this before taking the last year to research real estate investing I would have been lost, but I feel I have a pretty good grasp on things and was able to develop a business plan that made sense. I also want to thank Steve Cook for developing a template for investors, it really saved me a lot of time and I have a better business plan for it.

My next objected is to start creating my life goals. To do this I'm going to first figure out what I want out of life and then I can develop the steps I need to get there through Real Estate Investing.
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I forgot it was sunday!

Posted On 10:33 AM by Scott Costello | 0 comments

I usually have baseball games from noon to 5 on sunday (I pitch), but yesterday the games were canceled. I found this out Saturday night so I was like cool I can spend some time with my wife before she goes to work, which I did. As usual on Sundays I went to my mom's house for dinner and she asked me if I had gone to any open houses today because she noticed a lot of them. DOH!! I completely forgot it was Sunday! I had a good opportunity to go look at some open houses in my area to help me learn values. My goal is to go to 100 open houses by the end of the year, I've been to 9 so far this summer (remember I've got baseball every Sunday from 12 to 5 and that's when the open houses are!?!?).

We are in the playoffs for baseball now so if we lose we are out and I can concentrate more on real estate on Sundays then. I'm not playing next year, I love it, but it just takes up to much time.
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