The #2 question I typically get from people I meet is this:
“Dude, where do you get the money to do your deals?”
I mean, their initial thought is that I have hundreds of thousands of dollars sitting around, waiting to be used on deals I get. I don’t have that kind of money sitting around, and even if I did, I wouldn’t always fund my own deals.
I’m not a millionaire (yet), but I know a few.
And that is where I get my money—100% funding for both purchase and rehab.
What do you do when you are a savvy millionaire—say you sold a company or a big patch of land and now have more money than you know what to do with? Do you throw it in the stock market? Do you squirrel it away in some CDs or a savings account? Do you see how many Twinkies you can buy in bulk before being put on some kind of watch list (I want to know)? Do you go to the casino and bet it all on red at the roulette wheel (if you do this, call me first—I want to watch)?
I said “savvy” millionaire, which means you would likely lend it out on secured investments for a great return, right?! How does 8% return sound? What about 10%? What about 12%? All sounds great! You could be the bank, getting a much better return than the average stock market return. Bank of the savvy millionaire—I like the sound of that.
OPM stands for “other people’s money,” and it’s a great tool to leverage more deals than you have cash for.
With my own cash, I could do ONE deal in my market. With OPM, I can do as many deals as I can line up the money for.
So, where do I get 100% financing for my fix and flip deals? Private money lenders.
Private money lenders typically care more about the deal than they care about your credit score. They want to know you have a solid track record of flipping in order to feel good about handing you a six-figure check. They want to be protected by having a first deed of trust (mortgage) on the property, so their money is secured by a hard asset. Did I say track record? Because I’ve found that it’s the most important thing these savvy individuals look for in an investor.
Where does this leave the new investor with little to no track record? Well, sometimes you have to start with some hard money loans before you can graduate to a better deal on your lending But that isn’t always the case, especially when working with people who know you and believe in you (who you know section below).
Unlike a loan officer at some big national bank, private money lenders rely much more on personal relationships. They are literally hitching their money to your success. As a relational business, it may take a few “dates” before they are ready to get married to you long-term, to see if you are compatible, how you work, and if you actually put the dishes away like you promised.
How do I find private money lenders? By either reaching out to my network to find people who want a good return on their money or reaching out to already established private money lenders who are actively lending in my area. Let’s start with who you know, then move on to who you don’t know.
Who You Know
Tapping into your sphere of people you already know can be powerful here, whether you know people with deep pockets or know someone who knows someone who does. The number one strategy here is getting the word out about what you are doing and what you are looking for to your family, friends, neighbors and coworkers.
Getting the Word Out
I’ve personally found that chronicling my investment activities through social media to be a huge credibility boost among those who I already know. It consistently reminds people that I’m a real estate investor and a professional at what I do. People flip their lids on before and after shots, and I find my friends and family tuning in when I highlight projects that we have been working on.
People love the journey of “crap house” to “nice house” and love the shows on TV about flipping. For every 20 or so project updates, I may put out a soft pass asking if anyone is looking for a decent return on an investment secured by real estate. Call people that you already work with, agents, title company reps, your CPA, closing attorneys and everyone in between, and chances are someone you already work with knows someone who can help you. This is where I’ve found a small handful of smaller lenders, people with $10,000-50,000 to play with.
The Soft Pass
You might tell your Uncle Joe that you have been working on analyzing some new properties to buy and are exploring funding options at 8-10% or some kind of equity share. Your current lenders are tapped out, and you need to find a few new good ones. This kind of “passing comment” can pique the interest of the right person who may already be looking for a better place to park some money.
Dealing with people you already know can be the world’s biggest blessing—or curse. If Uncle Joe likes you and believes in you, it may be a no-brainer to invest in YOU and what YOU are doing. If your family is terrible and you would rather jump off a bridge than work with them, skip this section.
The Hard Sell
Forget that wuss “slip it naturally into conversation” business. Let’s just attack this thing directly. Let’s sit Uncle Joe down with a full on business plan, power point presentation, and pro forma package for him to pour over. This can be a good way to get taken seriously by a contact of yours who is a bit more formal and wants to be sold on you and your company. Why should they invest with you? What are some deals you have done and what is the return you gave that lender? What are some deals you are looking at right now if they want to get in with your company today?
Success Begets Success
When you are out there in your market, doing your thing by changing neighborhoods, getting deals and fixing up houses, your sphere of influence will notice. If you have been doing it for a year or so, every time they see you (especially when you are “getting the word out” as above), they will be reminded that you are a pro. How can they get in on this? The more successful you are, the more individuals will come out of the woodwork to see how they can also benefit from your success. This is also known as “you won’t have to go out and find private money lenders; they will eventually come to you.”
Who You Don’t Know
I know you are super excited about soliciting others for money, right? You were hoping to find the easiest way to get private money, but you find out you have to go out and ask for it? Hmmm. Well, with this method, you do. When I’m looking to expand my private money lender pool (as I’m currently working on now—can never have too many), I have a default way to attract a few new lenders to work with.
You might get to the point where you have 2-3 awesome lenders, and you are cranking deals out left and right. One gets hit by a bus, one parks his money in Mexico, and one takes on a big development deal, and you are left with zero lenders. Zilch. Your depth of lending will become apparent—you were actually in the kiddie pool with those floaties on your arms, when you thought you were ready for the Olympics. I speak from experience here. It’s never a bad thing to get in front of more money and forge relationships with lenders. You never know when you will need them.
Before we solicit these individuals or companies, we need to go out and find them!
Network Your Butt Off
Find Local Lenders
If you can’t network and don’t know anyone with money to connect with, this is your next best option. I can look up on my county records site the closed price, the interest rate, and even the lender’s name and address. I’m not interested in looking up every property to see who the lender is, so I use one of the data broker sites. I make sure I look up who is lending in my area in the last 6 months. Going through each site and teaching you what options to use could be its own book.
I’ve used this with success in the past, taking the master list of lenders and hunting down their phone numbers and giving them a call. My basic script when calling these folks out of the blue is:
“Hello, is this John? My name is Shawn, and I see you lent money for a project on 123 Main Street. My company does similar fix up projects, and I’m calling today to see if you are looking to lend more on these types of deals.”
From there, the conversation could go 100 different ways. Usually, it goes into my track record and getting the lender to feel comfortable with how we do business. This is a relationship game. You could build rapport by talking about projects they are working on, other investors they work with, their kids, the local sports-ball team, or one of a dozen different things.
Finding their phone number from a generic list can seem daunting, but here are my favorite resources: WhitePages.com, Google search their name or LLC, TLO or your favorite skip tracing service.
The list that the list broker gave you should have the lender’s mailing address, so that part is easy. Now it’s all about what you send them to try and get a response from them. You want to provoke an initial reaction, get them to call so you can work your rapport building and lender wooing magic.
The message I send is pretty similar to my phone script. I mention the property they lent on so they know what I’m talking about, and, of course, bring it back to how I am in the same business of fixing properties and am looking for new private money lenders. You could include a property list as your track record and trust factor, you could include a whole presentation on your company, or you could leave it as a simple message. Make sure to include your call to action, asking them to contact you to discuss this further or letting them know that you have a few deals you are analyzing and would like to run by them.
The medium of my mailing is always a professional letter on company letterhead. The reason you don’t want to do an informal yellow letter or something similar is you are likely dealing with someone extremely savvy who wants to know they are dealing with a professional—someone they might trust with their money. The company letter with your formal contact info projects a legitimate company who is serious about their business. A quick note on the back of a napkin won’t cut it. Putting forward a professional image is key here.
Mail these out. I always shoot for 200 or so (there are more private lending transactions going on than you think around you), and keep following up with more mailings every quarter or so. I may get 10-15 calls and take it from there. If we mesh well and their terms are good, we are in business! As with other direct mail marketing, you will have to keep up on your lists (finding recent lenders), and consistently mail them. You may not get a response from everyone the first time, so keeping them going out and varying your message shows you are in business for the long haul and have constant deals that need funding.
OK, so there you have it —all the ways I go out and find 100% private money! I hope this helps you on your real estate investment journey. Go out and network, connect, solicit, and get some money to do some deals!
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