Category Archives: Education

Cheap Real Estate Marketing

Cheap Real Estate Marketing

I was asked recently how I do my real estate marketing for under $100 per month. It’s a great question, especially when you’re getting started with minimal money available.

I do enough real estate marketing to close my target of 1-2 deals per month. I could do more deals if I did more marketing. I may do more again, but now this is how busy I choose to be.

You can outsource much of this work when you have enough cashflow. But when you have more time than money, this is the way to do it.

  1. Google Voice. It’s free. Get your own dedicated number for marketing and forward it to your existing phone. There’s enough storage so you have a virtually unlimited voicemail box. Of course, you should still answer as many calls as possible.
  2. Free online ads. Craigslist is still the champion here, but there are others. Everybody else is on there too. So what? It still generates leads.
  3. Website. You can point the online ads to a website if you want, but most people call the phone number. Some people do go to the site from the craigslist ads and submit online. Only one seller in the past year has said they chose to contact me due to my site.  $10 per month.
  4. Bandit Signs. If money is tight, you can buy a few locally and write on them yourself. About $5 per sign, and a really big Sharpie. Once you’ve got the funds, go online and order 100 preprinted signs for under $400. They’ll last a while, especially if you only put them out on weekends. Be aware of local codes and enforcement. It’s unprofessional to mess with other people’s signs. I won’t mess with yours, but don’t steal mine either.

    We Buy Dayton Houses Vehicle Lettering - Cheap Real Estate Marketing
    Vehicle Lettering
  5. Vehicle Lettering.  Either decals like you see here, or magnetic signs. The decal pictured was about $60. Magnetic signs are about $50 per pair and should last a couple of years. Put one on the back for those tailgaters too. Park creatively everywhere, it’s about visibility, not convenience. Just don’t be obnoxious like the person who takes four spaces for their precious car.
  6. Business Cards. A box of 500 is $20-25 online. Watch for specials too. Go to various networking events, especially those with real estate related themes. A real estate agent referred a recent deal to me when they wouldn’t list it due to the houses condition.
  7. Network. Join your Local Real Estate Group. Meet people who have the same interest, and are potential buyers and sellers. Price varies locally, In Dayton it’s $150 for one year, Some groups are free. Google and Meetup can help you find a local group. If you’re in Dayton, contact me and I’ll get you connected.
  8. Talk. Talk is cheap, even better it’s free. People need to know what you do. Tell everyone, just don’t be like the stereotypical MLM convert. My barber bought a home from me as a result of casual conversation.
  9. Call. Call every “We Buy Houses” sign you see. I’m actually amazed at how few answer the phone, or even call back. The competition is not as strong as you think.
  10. Call. FSBOs. Many are FSBO because they have an inflated sense of value, or too large a mortgage. However, there are some deals here. And it’s great practice for talking to sellers.
  11. Direct Mail. I do a little, but very selectively. Some vacant houses, a few expired MLS listings. Less than 20 letters or postcards per month.

This is what I do for marketing each month.Can I do more? Absolutely. But I choose not too. We are in this business to create a lifestyle, not work 80 hours a week. For under $700, I can do my marketing for year. For under $1200, I can probably cover two years. So I guess that works out to $50 per month average over two years.

When I want to ramp up the business, I’ll do more Bandit Signs, and talk to a couple of friends about putting signs on their cars. I’d also start a direct mail campaign, targeting my desired properties.

There you have it, Cheap Real Estate Marketing. Of course, you could still get deals doing just the Free marketing too.

Did I miss any cheap real estate marketing ideas? Please add a comment below.

A Real Email List

I finally got a real “Real Estate” email list

Email List for Homes and MoreGo to to sign up for real estate deals, observations and (mis)adventures. Do it now. You can read the rest of this afterward. That’s

And wait, that’s not all, read below to find out about the free extras. (Billy Mays would be proud)

As many of you know, I’ve had an “email list” for some time. Unfortunately, I’d been trying to do it the hard way. Lists of email address in word, manually updating notes, trying to keep it right, and not get “spammed” off.

My first attempt with “Unnamed email list service provider” resulted in my account being cancelled the first day. I had uploaded the business cards from several networking  events over 3 years. and sent them an email. 2000 people. 4 clicked spam, and account cancelled. $120 poof. Geesh, give a guy a break. 3 hours on the phone, no mercy. So that project got shelved for almost two years.

And we won’t even talk about how long it took to get those typed in. Ok, I admit it, I started typing them all in, then paid someone else to finish. Otherwise I’d still be typing.

So I went back to working from memory, and my short list. Unfortunately the short list only exists in my head, and consists of people who’ve bought properties, or I met recently. Not the best way to run a business. Not even a good way. But it worked, and hey, if it’s working, why change, right? wrong!

This past year, I decided to ramp up. And the system broke. Well, the lack of a system broke, and it tried to break me.

Without an Email List service for Homes and More
This was me. This was my business.

I felt like the old school stage performer trying to spin plates on a stick, running from one to another to keep each going and keep any of them from falling. So, I added another plate.

Sounds crazy I know. I started forcing myself to take time again to focus on running the business better. And that lead me to identify three items to get implemented.

  1. A Property Manager
  2. A CRM program to track leads.
  3. A good email list service (which may be covered by the CRM later)

We’ll cover the property manager in another post, but I will say I have one and I’m gradually turning over all my properties. And I like it.

Next, I started looking at CRM, but found the many choices overwhelming. I’ve looked at many, and very few seemed to fit for a real estate business. I have finally narrowed it down to two. One will be implemented by the end of the year.

When the CRM frustrated me, I looked at the easier one, an email list service. Who knew two years would make so many changes. Multiple reputable providers, cool tools, great tracking. And the best part, getting started cost nothing! (My favorite price.)

I sent out my first email to the list today. Creating it was a piece of cake. Editing took longer, but that’s my fault, not theirs. Great tools, made it super simple. Now I’m asking you to make my life simple. Get on the list. Get great deals via email (email is free, deals are not. Usually). Get the occasional snarky post (always free), and some genuinely useful information (also free).

Go to to sign up. Do it now. (Only if you didn’t follow the instructions the first time. You don’t need to do it twice.)

Tantalizing Teaser
Which email list service did I pick? If the curiosity is killing you, and you still haven’t signed up, the confirmation email will show you the email list provider I chose. Hey, they get a free advertisement at the bottom. I can work with that. And so can you.

If you click “manage your preference” on the confirmation, you can add some additional details on your interests.

Turnkey Rental Property Investing

Turnkey Rental Properties

turnkey rental property
If only it was this easy

Turnkey rental properties are good investments, especially if you are short on time. However, there are some pitfalls too. A turnkey rental property may come from a provider, the MLS or any other source. A turnkey property could be fully renovated, ready to rent or currently rented.

I’m here on the ground in the Midwest in glorious Dayton, Ohio. I’ve bought and sold turnkey rental properties, and seen what many people offer as a Turnkey rental. I’ve also bought “turnkey” rental properties in areas thousands of miles from where I lived.

Here is what I have seen and experienced, and how to avoid some of the big problems that come up.

First, you MUST have a good team where you are investing, even if it’s local. Your number one local person is your property manager. They are overseeing the long-term performance of your investment, and are the most important team member to get right. I’ve been ripped off by bad property managers, anything from non-performance, to them actually stealing the rents and security deposits.

Are they licensed in their profession (if required)? Ohio law requires Property Managers be a licensed real estate agent. Are they? I get a surprising number of calls from people with bad managers who aren’t even licensed. Interview several while you visit the area. Personalities differ. Prices vary. Most PMs in our area charge about 10% of collected rent. That gives them a good incentive to keep your property maintained and rented. Your Property Manager also becomes a source for rent amounts, values, and other team members.

Taking even basic steps will save a lot of grief. Check the BBB and Angie’s list. If someone has a ‘D’ rating do you really want to hire them?

Contractors seem to have a whole different ethic when someone is not overseeing them. A good local property manager will keep this in check. I bought a “finished” house from a lady in Florida, who had fantastic pictures showing it the house done. Unfortunately, the “contractors” only painted two walls, then set a small piece of new carpet in the corner for the photo. Several of the bath and kitchen pictures were from a different house. They set some fixtures in place, but didn’t install them. The owner paid them based on the pictures they sent, but nobody local walked through the property. She was not happy with the pictures I sent her. Of course, once the truth was known, nobody could find the “contractor”.

Look for recommendations from other investors and landlords.

Second, you MUST visit where you are investing. There is nothing like getting you boots on the ground and walking the neighborhood. I am continually amazed by the number of people who will spend $30,000, $50,000, or more, on a rental house, but won’t spend $500 on a plane ticket.

Third, pay for a property inspection ($500-$600). You’re about to spend thousands of dollars on a property. Get an independent assessment of the property condition. I tell all my potential buyers to do this too. It’s good business for me and protects them. The last property I sold, as a result of the inspection, I paid $906 to have a roof repair done. I didn’t know about it before the inspection, and I do not begrudge it to the buyer. I told him the roof was already repaired. (It was, but not correctly). If you’re working with a formal Turnkey company, did they do all the repairs correctly and fully? An independent property inspection will tell you.

Fourth, run all the numbers. I see a lot of properties advertised with a claimed ROI, but they fail to account for ALL the expenses: Taxes, Insurance, Management, Maintenance and Repairs, Reserves, Vacancy. Then, independently verify if the numbers given are close to being correct. A small overstatement in the projected rent, and a couple missing or understated expenses can make what looked like a great deal into a real alligator that you’re endlessly feeding.

Determining market value is frequently a challenge, especially in hard hit areas. An appraisal will give you a formal written opinion. An agent can give you their opinion. Using third-party sources like Zillow, gives you data, but will mislead you. You can see the price, but what was the condition? Were the nearby sales all finished properties? Or do they need substantial work? Are these even comps at all? Is it the same school district? All are factors in determining property value.

What do you do in an area where people are buying cheap properties, putting substantial dollars into renovations, but not selling them? All the sales are low, but the values are obviously more. Ultimately, a property is worth what a willing buyer and seller agree it is worth.

In summary, if you are considering a turnkey rental or ANY rental property you need to:

  • Visit the location and property
  • Check the numbers
  • Interview and build a good local team
  • Stay involved
  • Trust, but verify

Darrin Carey
Homes and More, Inc

Lead Paint is likely to be found in what age of house?

Lead paint

Lead Paint is found in approximately three-quarters of the homes built before 1978. As a general rule, the older a home, the stronger the risk of lead paint.

Lead paint used in most homes built before the 1950s had higher concentrations of lead, with lower levels of lead used until 1977. In 1978, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the use of lead paint in housing. On April 22, 2008, EPA issued the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule. It requires that projects disturbing lead paint be done by EPA certified renovators. Large fines can be given for not complying with the rule.

Lead paint and age of home
Percentage of Homes likely to contain lead.

Lead paint may be found on any surface but is most commonly found on exterior painted surfaces, interior woodwork, doors, and windows. When properly maintained and managed, this paint poses little risk. Lead paint that peels or deteriorates is especially risky; friction surfaces (windows and window sills, doors and door frames, and stairs and railings) are also a concern.

A lead paint myth claims that children must eat lead paint chips to develop lead poisoning. People are exposed to lead through the lead paint chips and flakes you can see, and also through the fine dust that forms. This dust gets on carpets, floors, furniture, toys and other objects, as well as on the hands of children and adults in the home. The lead is ingested when the lead dust on their hands is transferred by touch to their mouths.

The only way to positively identify lead paint is by using a test kit. As with any test, false readings are possible. The EPA approved test kits have high accuracy. You may want to repeat the test to ensure accurate results.

Darrin Carey
Homes and More, LLC