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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