Category Archives: Motivation

About That Radio Silence

I closed on a property last fall and let you all down! I didn’t read you in, and it was a good one: an out of town wholesale transaction with a repeat seller.  It went smoothly for every single party involved and really hit home for me two things:

1) Networking works. Who hasn’t said that? But I have dug my heels in on this point.  I don’t like networking or schmoozing or talking to people when I don’t want to.  I can be very outgoing, but tend to be introverted in that I don’t want to chit chat with you – I want to get right down to things: either business or deep thoughts.

But networking is worth it.  And by networking I don’t think I mean what I’ve always had in mind.  In this case, networking involved my repeat seller. We bought a house from her through seller financing in 2012.  We’ve had a great relationship along the way, refinanced out of the note just like we promised, offered to help in any way we could now or in the future – and then she called.  So I would say that part of networking is maintaining healthy relationships with people you already know by being someone they can count on, who is pleasant and has integrity.

The buyer also came from networking.  I have dear friends in the property city who are also investors.  I called and reached out to them and they just happened to know someone looking for their first investment property.  It happened just like that – and of course I sent them a thank you gift for connecting us!

It was THE smoothest wholesale transaction I’ve ever had, and I believe that’s mostly because I have a history (a good one!) with the seller, and the buyer came from people I already know (which meant they were quality).

2) I came into wholesaling to make money (check!) but have realized I need to do real estate in a way that leaves me more fulfilled.  Offering a cash, as-is offer to motivated sellers, or sellers with run-down houses, is a GREAT solution for that sellers’ problem.  The issue, for me, is that wholesaling and creative financing are only good solutions for a very small niche of sellers.

And because for me it’s all about giving them the perfect solution to their real estate situation, I find myself frustrated that I can’t offer sellers a full gamut of resources to do that.  Only 1 in 20 of qualified leads need to sell at a wholesale price or for great terms.  The rest might want a quick sale but only at a retail discount (wholetail), or are only looking for advice on how to list a house that is not retail-ready.

My Myers-Briggs test says that making a difference and job satisfaction are HIGHLY important to me, and it’s true, so I’ve opted to get my real estate license.  For the record, I actually think there’s more money to be made by focusing on certain investment strategies (wholesaling, rehabs, etc.), but I’m hoping this is a great fit for me.

And that’s what I’ve been doing in this time of blog silence.  I should be finished up soon and (if my background check will go through quick enough!) take my test by the end of the month.

Everyone needs to do what is most important to them; what is most consistent with their goals and values.  This is my version – I hope you are doing well at creating yours!



Filed under Ethics & Etiquette, Motivation, Planning

End of Year Questions to Ask Myself

While I’m waiting for my New Year’s Eve dinner to arrive (Vietnamese pho!), I’ve been thinking about the year.  Tomorrow I’ll have a bit of a retreat (at Starbuck’s, the only place open apparently) to reflect more fully. I’ll spend at least half the day (if not the whole day), asking questions, trying to answer honestly, and then loosely planning out the year based on my conclusions.

Tomorrow I’ll try to answer these questions:

What have I liked about the year? 
What has worked? 
What success have I seen? 
Which goals did I fail? 
Did I surprise myself? 
Did a technique surprise me?
Did plans change? 
Was I happier this year?  Why or why not?
What was most stressful?
What did I enjoy doing the most?
Which activities made me the most money?
Which activities lost me money? Time? 

What can I do to create more time? More peace?
Which aspects of my business do I want to keep?
Which aspects do I want to do less of?
Do I need to introduce new methods?
What is my main goal for the year?
What do I want my business and life to look like end of 2013?
Which circumstances am I in control of?
What can I do to simplify?
What do I value most?

How many houses do I need to sell this year to achieve my goals?
How many more house do I want to sell this year than last year?
Do we want to buy more rentals?
Do we want to do more rehabs?
Should I expand my market? Change my market?
How often and what kind of marketing will I use in 2013?
What is my operating budget for the business?
Which money spent in 2012 was most useful (in generating money or saving me time)?
Which new tasks can I outsource this year?
Which tasks do I WANT to outsource this year?
What main things need to change in my business to get it to work for me?
What can I realistically do and still be happy?

I hope to walk away caffeinated, clear-headed, budget and goals in hand, ready to start the year with as much force as I did the last.  Happy 2013 friends!


Filed under Motivation, Planning

Rental Deja-Vu

Last September I mentioned that we bought our first rental, which ended being here in the Tulsa area, and not in OKC, where we consider home.  It was unique because, not only is it an amazing already-remodeled-with-long-term-tenants-and-property-manager-in-place-with-owner-financing turn-key rental, but also because I got that property with my OKC marketing.

Two weeks after closing on that house, I got a phone call from an elderly lady about a letter I sent her. She has a house in OKC  she wants to sell, but – and here’s the deja-vu! – she was more interested in selling a house she owned in Tulsa first and would sell it with owner financing.

We negotiated back and forth, and finally struck a deal.  It took two weeks for her to get the contract back to me, but we finally closed last Friday! WHOOP!

To add to the bizarre deja-vuness of this deal, we also plan to keep this property as a rental, since we acquired it with owner financing – too good to pass up.

Here are the details of the deal, for those who are interested in seeing  what kind of owner financed deals are possible right now:
A 2/1/1 with 1365 sqft, and huge extra den with fireplace.
-The ARV of the house is $100-110k.
-It was in rough but still decent shape (the disgusting, pet-stained carpet was the worst), but the kitchen has new cabinets and the bathroom was recently updated.
-Quick research told me I could rent it for anywhere from $775-925/month
-I made three different offers: all cash (very low), short-term owner finance (3 years), long-term owner finance (7 years)
-We finally settled on a purchase price of $70,000 with $2k down, principal-only payments of $350 for 3 years and I pay closing costs.
-Did you catch that I got this deal with an interest rate of ZERO PERCENT?  The monthly income was more important to her than interest, and when I explained that to maintain my minimum cashflow requirements, I could offer either lower payments and higher interest or higher payment and no interest, she went with the latter.
-That means in 3 years, when the full balance is due, I will only owe around $56,000 on a house worth $100,000.

The reason this deal was worth keeping (instead of wholesaling) is the terms.  Since we want rentals as part of our long-term plan, we couldn’t pass this up.  We don’t have $50-60k sitting around to invest, and didn’t want to have to qualify for a loan or put a huge down payment down.  This was a great way for me to acquire a property that could cashflow, without a lot of money up front, and with plenty of equity from the get go.

The cashflow won’t be amazing at first.  Here’s how it breaks down:
$850     Rent (confirmed by property manager as the conservative rental rate expected – possibly more)
-$350    Debt Service (to previous owner)
-$120    Property Taxes
-$90     Property Insurance
-$127    Maintenance/Vacancies (15%)
-$62     Private Investor (who is funding the rehab; 1 year note)
=$101 Profit

This isn’t smokin’ hot cashflow, but I know that I will not lose money in the next three years while I’m building that equity and payment history.

The payment history is important because in 3 years, I’ll refinance the loan balance.  This is fantastic for me, since I won’t need to get a new loan; I can refinance since I already have a loan on the property with the previous owner.  Since I’ll have already established payment history, have proof of consistent cashflow, and have 50% equity in the house, I won’t have to put down a large amount or jump through (as many) financial hoops,

Other people have pointed out that in 3 years this would also make a great flip, which we may do.

I’m quickly falling in love with owner financing.  It’s so much simpler and cheaper than getting a loan, and can be easily structured  to make both you and the seller happy. Give me a few more deals, and I’ll probably be able to tell you about any disadvantages of owner financing as well.  😉


Filed under Absentee Owners, Motivation, Planning

3 Closings in 5 Months!

It’s not unusual to find a serious gap in posts from me, but I’ve always been faithful to report back.  I’m thrilled that this time the update comes after 3 different closings in the last 5 months!

Closing #1:  3/2/2 in OKC, acquired using creative financing

This lead I got from my absentee owners marketing.  The ARV was somewhere between $95 – 100K and the seller agreed to a price of $61k (what she owed on her mortgage).  The place needed work, though, and had a squatting tenant, so rather than put it under contract when I wasn’t totally sure, she agreed to let me lease/option the place at a monthly rate that was just above what her monthly mortgage payment was.  My exit strategy was to sell the house before I needed to make that first payment (although I was prepared to do so if needed).

I immediately negotiated with the tenant (sooo much easier said than done) and gave him cash for keys.  I then marketed the property and sold it to another local investor, getting a check for about $7k. The whole process (from first phone call to closing) was about 5 weeks.

Biggest lessons learned:
-Negotiations (well, successful ones anyway) are really about relationships, respect and kindness, enforcing boundaries, being willing to walk away (without anger), and lots of listening.
-I discovered a secret strategy for finding buyers (ha! gimmicky sounding but so true)
-Motivated sellers are willing to be more flexible with you, if your ideas make sense and you have established credibility.
-You push into a whole different level of client satisfaction if your offer includes solutions to every single problem they have related to this property – not just selling it.
-Creative financing (rather than outright buying or straight wholesaling) made a deal for me when there might not have been otherwise.

Closing #2: 3/2/2 in Broken Arrow, OK, a turn-key rental property we’re keeping

Again, this lead came from absentee owners marketing I am doing in the OKC area.  She wasn’t interested in selling that property but did want to sell this one.  In our first exchange I couldn’t offer her high enough, but she contacted me a month later to discuss it more.  Eventually, she accepted my owner finance offer and we closed this past Monday. This is our very first rental!

The highlights of this deal:
-The property already comes with long-term tenants locked into a lease.
-The neighborhood is great and we’re getting about 1% of property value for rent.
-The owner financing allows us to cash flow right away and build enough equity to refinance later and not pay more each month for the mortgage.

Closing #3: 3/1.5/2 in Del City – A straight wholesale deal

This deal also came from my absentee owners marketing.  This is the Big One I’ve been waiting for.  I got the property under contract for $20k and immediately flipped it for $33,500.  I had my first double-closing (called a “slip” by the closing agent) and walked away with a check for $12,607!  Definitely warranted another happy dance.  🙂  I can’t wait to pay off some debt and surprise my family with some special gifts!

A few more lessons learned:
-Confirmed the awesomeness of my buyer-finding strategy: it’s the second time in a row I’ve found a buyer in 7 days or less and added more than a few people to my buyer’s list.
-Realized that my buyer-finding strategy comes from something I took to heart from Steph Davis over at Flip This Wholesaler: when looking for a buyer, make sure you stand out! (I actually used that ad to sell a house in 2010 in 2 days.)
-Fell in love all over again with Dropbox for being able to quickly share over 100 photos to potential buyers.

I am so grateful and excited to be able to celebrate these closings.  It’s an assurance that if your path is a good one, all you have to do is keep running, walking or crawling and you will get there.  🙂


Filed under Deals, Ethics & Etiquette, Fear, Motivation

2011 Wrap Up

The best thing that happened to us this year happens to be named Madelyn Ruth Payne, born on February 12.  It was a complicated, intense and scary birth but that was the worst of it.  She cooed, she slept she smiled and we all adjusted much better than my fears and plans allowed.  Praise God!

She is 10 months old now and I have decided I was right, after all, in giving myself an entire year for an adjustment period.  Not the standard 6 weeks or even 6 months.  I gave myself 12 months before I would think of losing weight, of making plans, pursuing adventures, or have the house running smoothly.  This is surely not necessary for everyone, but for me? with my third child?  Yes, it was, and the grace has been life-giving.

Without even realizing what was happening, in the last eight weeks or so I found myself wanting to organize the laundry and meals and what-nots in the house, and talking to Aaron more often about our debt and goals and dreams and brainstorming ways to move forward.  Just like that, my period of adjustment has ended all by itself, gradually and organically, without judgmental pressure or condemning “should haves”.

At the beginning of November, I was chatting with a friend of my husband’s family and discovered he and his partner were in over their heads with their real estate ventures.  They had leads coming in but not enough time or a good enough plan or system to follow-up.  I asked him if he’d ever considered having someone come in to help him coordinate his deals, to take over the tedious process of follow-ups, negotiations, comps, contracts and closings.  They had and in fact were looking for someone!

I emailed my friend, Shae, a veteran investor, asking if she thought there was an opportunity to partner up with or offer a sort of transaction coordination service to busy investors.  She did!

Then, around Thanksgiving, I paid an outrageously cheap price to try my friend Shae’s Financial Freedom GPS.  Aaron and I have read books and articles like it before, and are familiar with many of the principles in it.  But we needed a new starting point, and boy did we find it.  Although we were familiar with most of the budgeting concepts, Shae’s approach to getting out of debt and pursuing financial freedom were the first of their kind, as far as I know.  The entire e-book has been intriguing, innovating and inspiring.  Just the ticket!

We have a very exact plan, with aggressive and smart ways to earn quick cash to pay off debt and start focusing on the next stage of our plan: having Aaron quit his j-o-b!

I’m hoping it works out to partner with these two investors, but if not, I already have a marketing plan to find other investors to work with in the area.  We’ll see how quickly this can work, and where all the cards fall in the next few weeks.

Here’s to 2012!


Filed under Motivation, Planning

2010 Update

Obviously something is amiss, since I haven’t posted since July.  That “something” is more like a whole sequence of somethings that have interrupted our plans, but have not changed them (if you are an investor, you know this alone is a victory!).

My third pregnancy has turned out to be a difficult one (an experience I haven’t had before), and knocked me to my feet.  Exhaustion, gallbladder issues, back problems, swelling, etc. made it impractical to work as much as I was working before.  Add to that the fact that we are a family comprised of a 4yo and 3yo, and life sometimes came to a halt.

In addition, we found out in October that my husband was being transferred to a different city 1 1/2 hours away from home.  We’ve become a commuter family, traveling back and forth together, while all along trying to sort through our solution to this turn of events.

Despite all this, I am very proud of what my husband and I have accomplished this year.  To emphasize that, I wanted to enumerate those things, mostly for myself and my attitude walking into a new year!

My husband began an unclaimed funds business and managed to close on one deal and begin another.

  • The first deal brought in a net of $10,000 before taxes, with only $500 in upstart costs (including training).
  • The second deal is an unclaimed fund that will have to go through probate.  If successful, it will net his business $4,000 (before taxes).  Either way, we will be schooled in probate law in Missouri.  🙂

I closed on two real estate deals this year, which blows me away.  To close a deal is a very meaningful accomplishment      for me!

  • The first deal was a probate that I wholesaled.  For a whopping $500.  (But to see the relief on the woman’s face was wonderful, as well as learning the ropes and being paid to do so!)
  • The second deal was a tax sale house (purchased BEFORE the tax sale, directly from the homeowner).  I paid little for it ($1,000), then paid back taxes on it (~$4,000), then cleaned up the property a bit ($750), and then sold it for $9,000, netting my business $3,250.  I was very happy with the experience, and the lessons learned were big ones!

We brought in a total of $13,750 this year and I’m very thankful to see that 2010 was the year when feet were put on the plans of 2009.  🙂

In addition to the money, it would take a long time to list all the lessons we’ve learned, but they are invaluable.  We also developed many relationships that have benefited us and will continue to help us meet our goals, and spent countless hours ironing out exactly what those goals are: with a plan, we know exactly where to go!

We’re still working out our 2011 goals, since adding a new baby to the mix is tricky business (trust me on this people!).

I’m happy to end this post, hit publish, and feel the satisfaction of keeping this blog alive, since it represents my progress.  It may be be slower-going than my optimistic and ambitious self would like, but I am thankful and proud that we are persevering, and that will inevitably will lead us to where we want to go.

Happy New Year!


Filed under Deals, Motivation, Planning


In my last post, I told you that we got our first house from marketing to those on the tax sale list.  We spent way too much time these last 4 weeks working on it.  We hired people to tidy up the lot and landscaping, clear the belongings out of the house and have been working on getting clear title.  The owner who sold it to me was a joint tenant on the deed.  The other owner was his aunt, who died in 1999 and he never cleared it up.

Here’s a tip for those of you who might have to deal with this:  if the surviving joint tenant on a deed is NOT the surviving spouse, you WILL have a headache to clear up the title.

In Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Tax Commission must issue an estate tax certificate, stating that the deceased’s estate is clear (in my case, I only had to request a 10 year release, since it had been so long).  Then you take that certificate, along with the deceased’s death certificate, and an affidavit from the surviving joint tenant, all down to the courthouse to file with the county clerk.  That should move the title from both their names to only the surviving joint tenant’s.  I got word from the OTC that I should have that estate tax certificate/10 year release in the mail this week.  It’s been a real hassle to get it done!

Along with the tax sale property we picked up in June, I got my first wholesale deal!   And it’s a PROBATE!  I DID IT!  😀

The heir is in Detroit and has fallen on hard times.  The house is in a not-so-great part of town and wasn’t worth much.  There was still room to make some money, however, so I put it under contract.

Since I had both properties ready to market, I made my marketing plan and implemented them at the same time.  I re-read Stephanie Davis’ article here, and it was really helpful.  I used a combination of craigslist, signs and calling buyers.  In fact, we had a serious cockroach problem in the Tax Sale House, so we used Stephanie’s craigslist strategy

I posted the ad on Tuesday, posted another (non-cockroach) ad for both properties (emphasizing cashflow) on Wednesday, put a FSBO sign in front of one house, called a few people, and by Thursday I had acceptable offers on both.  I had signed contracts on Friday!!! 

We’re set to close next week on the Probate House, and as soon as we get clear title on the Tax Sale house, we’ll close on that one.  By the way, the buyers came from the craigslist ads.

For a happy ending, I wanted to share that my buyer for the Probate House is a guy I know!  I met him at Panera several months ago and haven’t seen him since.  When we met, we got to talking about REI and wholesaling (which is what he does), and he challenged me to go out and just start making offers.  Well, I did.  He was so happy to see that I took his advice, and that he was my first buyer!  🙂


Filed under Deals, Motivation

Chicken Little No More

I am happy to report I did NOT fall off the face of the blogdom world because I gave up.  I’m actually ecstatic that it’s because I’ve been so very busy that I haven’t updated.  (Although I will consider it another reason to utilize Virtual Assistants and create more time!)

I have no facts or charts or productivity reports.  Alas, I have no time for it now.  Don’t worry! I am keeping it updated, I just haven’t paid any attention to it.

I can assure you that I have been EXTREMELY productive this month.  In fact, I’m making a baby!  Baby #3 is the temporary name for this precious little one, although I hope to pick something later that has a better ring to it. 

The due date is January 27, 2011, and seeing as how no one (well, almost no one) who reads this blog has any idea of who I am In Real Life (and how hard it was for me after little Emma was born), you might not understand that the very first thought I had when we found out was: Okay, that leaves almost 8 months to create the money in our budget for domestic help!  🙂

It’s amazing what true motivation (should we capitalize that?  Yes…True Motivation.) can do for you.  I have the ball rolling, and I do not feel at all like Sisyphus now.  I feel confident from the fact of necessity.  I must and will and can accomplish our goals.  (Did I mention I have a Superwoman/Megalomaniac complex during pregnancy?  It’s not exactly a complex if it’s real, though, right?)

With that said, my first deal came along!  And it wasn’t at all what I was expecting.  It wasn’t a wholesale deal, it was a short sale, and I have improved my knowledge of REI drastically with this experience.  I just submitted the short sale packet to the lender, which means that I’m only just beginning, eh?  I’m excited at what will happen with this one!

I also bought my first property, through the tax sale.  It was glorious, because Pregnant Super Kelly was able to receive the last-minue call on Thursday evening, work up all the paperwork for the sale late that night, have a mobile notary do the signing, record the deed and pay the back taxes on Friday morning (Yes! He did all that!) – all to stop the sale that would have happened on Monday.

And did I mention I did it all over the phone and computer while I was out of town!?!  How’s that for outsourcing and having a portable business?  😀  I was so overjoyed I forgot to stuff myself with chocolate that day.

Now we need to do a bit of clean up to the property and get that thing sold.  Since I already have the deed and paid so little for it, I’m not in the typical wholesale rush (and thankful for it!).

I have other deals in the pipeline (are newbies allowed to use club lingo?), but my biggest focus is to sell this property so that I can have the $$ to start getting the entire system (namely, VA’s) up and going again. 

Here’s to shedding that Chicken Little feeling I have loathed!


Filed under Deals, Motivation

April Showers bring May Flowers

April was a hard month for me.  I’ve been marketing and marketing and marketing and have yet to get a deal.  My “yes”s don’t have enough equity, and my equity’s say “no”.  Here’s what I accomplished last month:

  • Sent 68 probate letters
  • Created a probate tutorial to outsource my research
  • Hired a VA to research 7 months’ worth of probates for $15
  • Sent 124 eviction postcards
  • Ordered business cards
  • Sent 5 vacant house letters

Not bad, but it’s disappointing not to have a deal.  Here are  the results of my efforts:


April 2010 Marketing Results

 You can see that probates are my overall winners.  They got me 7.3% this month, and 8.2% overall.

Evictions were horrific.  I have a .008% response rate for April.  I emailed Vena Jones-Cox (inner circle member benefit – yay!) and she gave me some advice on how to tweak it.  I’ll keep working on it.

My vacant houses (Driving 4 $) was amazing.  I sent 5 letters and got a call back.  That’s a 20% response rate!  And she was a yes (it’s a short sale in the workings)!

My total marketing (which began in March) looks like this:
Total pcs sent: 247
Total responses:  12
Average Response Rate: 4.8%

My statistics tell me that I need about 20 responses to get a deal, so I’m counting on that.  With an average response rate of 4.8%, that means I need a total of 420 pieces of marketing mailed to get a deal.  I’ve sent 247, so that leaves 173 more pieces to send.

My goal is still to get my first wholesale contract signed by June 1, 2010.  That means I have 173 pieces to send in the next two weeks! 

Here I go!


Filed under Deals, Marketing, Motivation

English Tea for Me

Scott Costello (at the Struggling Investor) suggested I know my motivation so that I can keep on keepin’ on.

That same day, I was making tea and read on the side of the box: “Native to England…Red Raspberry shrubs grow wild along road sides and in thickets”.

And there it was.


I’ve wanted to go to Europe at least since college, when I became fascinated with its history. And since being introduced to Jane Austen’s novels, I’ve fallen in love with the idea of visting the English countryside.

I immediately imagined this type of holiday, smiled to myself and went back to researching my probate leads!


Filed under Motivation