You may not like what I’m about to tell you, but if you’re looking for the easy route or shortcut to real estate you won’t find it here. I get messages every week on Twitter asking how to search for properties, find deals, and what tools and sites I use. The truth is that acquisitions are the hardest part of real estate, it’s the bottleneck of the business. When cash is easy to get, it’s hard to find deals and vice versa. If both were easy, the business would be too easy.
Finding deals involves a ton of hard work. I’m on every self-service broker listserve east of the Mississippi river, meaning I get around 5 deals on market in my inbox every day. The team at Bolt Storage underwrites all of them and puts in offers on most, but we still secure very few for all this work. There is no secret to acquisitions, and you need to do a bunch of hard work and be a resourceful business owner. The people who win are the ones who find deals.
I’m on Loopnet constantly looking for deals, and have a ton of data in the back of my head because I underwrote a deal a day for 5 years. When you’ve run over 3,000 deals through your cash flow models, you can spot a good deal in a heartbeat. With off-market deals, I can tell within a few minutes of a conversation with the owner whether or not I’m interested. We have a full acquisitions team working on finding and underwriting deals just in hopes of finding the small share that works for us.
I’ve done 65 self-storage consultations, where people pay $2.5K for me to open up the playbook and run through my models, due diligence checklist, operational handbook, and underwriting process for deals. Of these 65 consultations, 10 of them were with serious deal makers, and they found deals. The others were brilliant, they could underwrite and operate, but they didn’t find any deals. If you can find deals to buy that are good deals then you can build a business.
My operational edge can turn an okay deal into a good deal, and a good deal into a great deal. I cut my teeth on operations as an entrepreneur in a sweaty startup for 10 years, and have gained an edge in an area that’s a weakness for many real estate professionals. When we know we can generate value by cutting costs and raising revenue, we can afford to pay more than the next highest bidder for a property. I’ve also put in a lot of work with brokers all over the country to establish good working relationships with them, and that puts me at an unfair advantage when something promising comes on the market.
The first deal is the hardest because it takes a lot to gain the trust, credibility, and momentum it takes to land that deal. From there, your portfolio starts to work for you a bit. I did a full deal breakdown for my Real Estate Community where I talked about all the ins and outs of an acquisition in upstate New York, laying out how we found and underwrote the deal, made an offer, and how the facility is looking today. If you’re serious about becoming a deal maker, the knowledge is invaluable.
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