Wholesaling in major metros can be alluring because there are many buyers, and the price range of properties is high. However, there’s a significant setback: finding deals in these locations can be next to impossible. If you’re looking for the perfect wholesaling market, then this episode is for you. In today’s episode, our very own Virtual Investing Mastery (VIM) coach Lauren Hardy is joined by her friend and mentor, Tag Thompson. He talks about his serial entrepreneur background, his shortcomings in the wholesaling business, and the knowledge he acquired from that. He emphasizes how important it is to understand how a specific market works, sharing his strategy for finding the right market. Raise your real estate wholesaling business to the next level and listen to this episode.
When is the Right Time to Start Wholesaling in Other Markets
I am so excited because I have one of my best friends, not just in real-life best friends but also in the industry. His name is Tag Thompson. Tag is truly one of the most successful people that I know that is virtually wholesaling. Tag has done a billion deals all over the country. He is a mentor even to me. He started his virtual journey a little bit before me. At that time, he was the only person I knew that was virtual alongside me. I didn’t know anyone else so I hung onto our friendship and our mentorship and having that in common over the years. I’m so excited to have Tag on this show.
Tag, welcome to the program.
Lauren, it’s so good to be back on. It’s been a while since I’ve done an actual show like this, which they’re always so much fun.
Fun fact. Tag was the first episode I ever hosted on the show. If you guys want a little refresher, look back at that but for those of you who do not know Tag Thompson, why don’t you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about you, where you’re from and about your business?
I’m probably less of a real estate person than most people that are on this show. I’ve been a serial entrepreneur for many years now. I’ve had every kind of business you can imagine from technology businesses, a clothing brand for a little while, data centers and everything you can imagine. I spent a long time in animal medicine. Anything that I can get my hands into, put my skillset into and turn a business, maybe one that’s already functioning, I go into it, pull it to make it profitable and sell it. I go whatever I can get into. For a couple of years now, I’ve been in wholesale. One of my great friends, David Olds, told me about wholesaling and I didn’t believe him and I didn’t know how it was possible.
I got obsessed with that idea and he was telling me how much money you can make off of a single transaction. Even at this time, there weren’t a lot of wholesaling companies. There were wholesalers all over the place but as far as taking the idea of wholesaling, systematizing it, hiring a big staff and turning a lot of deals, there weren’t a lot of companies doing that. That’s where my expertise lies. We started this company. I’ve done a bajillion deals. The reason I went virtual is we were doing a lot of deals in Chattanooga. We maxed out our market here and we had trouble. Honestly, on the dispo side, moving more than maybe five deals in a week.
There weren’t enough buyers for us so we started expanding out. At that time, the idea of virtual wholesaling didn’t mean that people were doing it but it was an underground thing that no one discussed. Lauren didn’t have her course yet. There weren’t videos about it. Nobody did it. We made a lot of mistakes. We initially expanded it into a couple of extra markets that were outside of our normal market. We failed our way to success. There was one point, we had an 85% contract failure rate because we didn’t know what we were doing. Now, luckily, we’ve been doing it long enough that we’ve mastered that ability to be able to go into a market with no contacts, no boots on the ground, no buyers and be able to do inspections, take pictures, market the property, do showings with buyers and move properties without ever having set foot in that city.
Investors have to follow where the money is, and our tactics have to constantly change.
None of my staff lives in those cities that we work in. We might get a deal in Boise, Idaho, which is a very long way from Chattanooga, Tennessee. We figured out how we can walk that deal up, the mechanics behind getting it done and be able to move that property without ever being there, even though it’s all the way across the country. It’s been such a pleasure having worked with Lauren since the very beginning of our journeys in virtual wholesaling and figure this stuff out together. It’s been so much fun.
You were one of my go-to people where I would bounce questions off of you like, “How would you handle this situation?” I had another good guy, Adrian Nez. We’re the only people that are virtual. It was not a lot of people. Nobody was talking about it, no courses, no YouTube University for the subject. I relied heavily on my friends and we would combine our experiences. We would say, “I had that happen to me. This is how I handled it,” and then Virtual Investing Mastery was born for my course. It’s been amazing getting to know you. What I thought would be fun to talk about is why people might want to go virtual more specifically because you nailed it right now that Chattanooga was too small, you were running out of buyers and you had to, out of necessity. Why do people go virtual? Why should they?
There are a few reasons that it’s necessary. One that we talked about, which is maybe you’re in a rural area. To me, it’s not very rural. We were doing a lot of deals already. We had to find an area that literally had enough buyers that could buy as many deals as we were coming up with. You’re in a rural area where there are 100 people who are cash buyers or investors who are looking for properties and you literally don’t have enough of them to move your deals. That’s one scenario. The other side of the scenario is obviously sellers. One of the things that’s interesting that we’ve seen happen through COVID and in 2021 is the real estate market is bananas. It is in sync. Maybe you’re too rural but maybe you’re also too metro.
Maybe you’re at a point where you’re in a big city and finding a deal is next to impossible. We dip our toes into major markets like Los Angeles and San Francisco every now and then. It’s so frustrating to see every single seller we talked to. They’ve already talked to 40 investors. They already know exactly how much they want for the property. They want a full market value and it’s just impossible to find sellers who have any motivation to sell or even a low expectation of what they want for their property. If they wanted to sell it, they could call a realtor and they could sell that property, silencing cash offer instantly. Those are the two big reasons that people want to go virtually. The second that’s important for us is it allows us to maximize our marketing channels.
If you’re in one market especially if you’ve been doing this for a while, Lauren and I talk a lot about list fatigue, data fatigue and data anxiety because at some point, you can hit that vacant list so many times. You have beat that horse to death. There’s nothing left in it and you’ve got that list anxiety. You feel like your list has been recycled so many times. When you can go into other markets, it allows you to still have those quality lists but you haven’t called them 400 times already. It’s a brand new market so you can focus on maximizing your current marketing channels without having to maybe pivot away from cold calling and starting up a paperclip campaign or something like that. You can stay marketing the same way, it’s just that you’re doing it in a place that hopefully it’s a bigger market or a less competitive market than you have.
Those are all the reasons I have gone virtual. This is super fresh for me because I was talking to a student and he was bringing up a smaller market. He’s picking a market and he goes, “Do you think my hometown is okay?” He lived in Fargo, North Dakota. Do you know that market other than it was in the movie, Fargo?”
I don’t know that market and I was looking at basic numbers and I go, “The one thing about these smaller markets that are a little unknown they’re not major metros is that on the acquisition side, it’s going to be easy to convince a seller to take a discount on their home because there’s not as much competition. There’s probably more seller distress given the price point. The acquisition side is going to be easy. It’s going to be easy for you to go to contract but then on the opposite side of when you try to sell it, you’re going to have a hard time finding buyers.”
I wasn’t totally sure. I was thinking, “Pick your poison. Which problem do you want?” You’re either in a major metro and you’re going to have a hard time finding a deal. When you do, it’s going to be easy to sell it and you can probably push the price up or vice versa. Tell me what you think about that because you are in a lot of small markets now. Is it a good idea to be in these smaller markets? What do you do to sell your deals when you are in a smaller market?
As soon as you are virtual, that’s the first question everybody has. Where do I go? We have found that in our company, the places we need to go are not the major metros. It’s also not necessarily rural. It’s this strange category in between. What we do is we have a silly, anecdotal way that we pick our markets. We say, “Is it a place that you’ve heard of or is it a place that’s within a 30-minute drive over a place that you’ve heard of?” Anecdotally, it gets us to the bigger areas and we’ve narrowed it down to keep those on the list and figure out what are the places that the market is not so hot. If you look at a market, you pull up some data, you can get this from Zillow, Redfin or any of those places, you pull up a city and it says, “The average days on market is two.”
The regular retail market, if it’s this crazy hot retail market, don’t necessarily go to those places. What you can do is pick the outlier cities in those markets. I’ll give you a specific example that we locked a deal in. Charlotte, North Carolina is a huge market. It’s gigantic. The other hard thing about Charlotte is, much like Phoenix, Arizona, the East Coast wholesaling Mecca. There are Max Maxwell and the Kings of Queen City. All of these big wholesaling educators are in Charlotte. Everybody is texting everybody. Everybody is cold calling. It’s so crowded. Getting a deal in Charlotte is almost impossible. If you go outside of that beltway in the areas like Gastonia, North Carolina, which only has about 25,000 people, the same buyers that buy-in Charlotte are also buying in Gastonia but the sellers aren’t used to getting all of that marketing traffic.
We look at deals in Gastonia or the city like Albemarle, which is outside that as well. You could still cut hover around those major metros but stick to the smaller areas outside of it. You’ll find that those sellers are much more pleasant on the phone. You’ll get people that maybe never talked to an investor before. It’s so much easier. Pick those kinds of outlier areas. That’s one category. The next is to pick cities like Chattanooga. We’re a decent size city. We’re over 100,000 but we’re not over 1 million. It’s mid-level. We’ve got a lot of buyers but there are still sellers who are less bombarded with marketing. Those are the kinds of two tactics that we use.
If you’re in one market, especially if you’ve been doing this for a while, you have beaten that horse to death.
Talking in terms of population and maybe even price range because I have some anecdotal as well. It’s funny you said that. I have a different one that I’ll share but also, I look at population. At least over 150,000 population because you’re going to run out of data. You’re going to run out of a list fast. My sweet spot is between $130,000 to $200,000 average price in the county. That’s my sweet spot with the price. What about you with population and price point? What is too small?
What we like to say is almost the exact same thing for the population. We like to be over 120,000. That’s our rule and ours is not necessarily the exact median price range but a mixture of price range and population growth. We like to see our average price range pretty much the same thing. We do our best deals in between $150,000 and $300,000. Those are always the biggest ones but focusing on areas where there’s more than a 5% population growth over the last couple of years in those markets. That means that there’s expansion. If you’re putting 5% into a bucket and it’s already full, it’s going to start spilling your house. We focus on that price range but also those zip codes where there’s big population growth.
This is something that is always changing. This episode might date us. At the time of this episode, this is the criteria. In 2020, I was all about the million population metros but I wanted the price range to be under $200,000. There was still distress. Now, I have students coming to me from Atlanta, wherein 2019, Atlanta was a great spot. Now those same students from Atlanta want to go virtual and same with Charlotte, North Carolina. That was a great place for a while. It’s always changing.
In fact, if you were to happen to find the episode that I was on, I guarantee you, we had a similar conversation about this and I promise you, the parameters are different. I have no idea what they were but they’re different. That’s what we have to do. We’re investors so we have to follow where the money is and our tactics have to constantly change.
When you are in a smaller market when you get a contract, say in Fargo in North Dakota and it’s not the easiest to unload because maybe there’s not a huge real estate investment association Facebook page that everybody posts their deals and they get swiped up in two seconds. How do you move a deal?
Honestly, if you’re virtual, this is where it gets a little tougher in these small ones. If you’re a local in a small market, you can go to your local hardware store, throw a bandit sign out there that says, “Cheap house for sale.” Your phone is going to start ringing. However, if you’re not local, that’s going to get some more difficult. That’s when you’re going to have to carefully start marketing through some Facebook or some groups. I don’t necessarily care how small your market is. There’s always a small neighborhood, Facebook group. You can try the Craigslist route, even though you’re going to get a ton of people that aren’t actual buyers through that or you can go the technical route of there are always people that rent in every city.
There are always renters, which means there are always landlords and you can find those landlords pretty easily. However you find that landlords or rental properties in that market, it’s usually pretty easy to pull up properties that are for rent, call that number and that person is probably a landlord. You’re like, “I’ve got property. There’s a lot in this one. Are you interested in?” There’s a lot of little tactics you can use but it is so much harder to do virtual in a small market. It is so hard to do because the data access is so limited. It’s very hard.
It is still doable and useful because we’ve done it. We tell what’s possible. If you are in that situation where maybe you’re trying to lead your metro and you are trying to go virtual in a smaller market, not to drop my coaching program here but you need a coach, a mentor or a friend like Tag who does it. I can get tricky. What happens is you’re going to have a good contract and you’re going to have to cancel it because you can’t figure out how to buy it and you can’t find anyone else to buy it.
Having that mentor, you can call and say, “I’ve got this deal. I did everything I know how to do. What else is there?” Mentors typically have been in that situation before and they can tell you or they’ll pull something up quick and be like, “Here’s a new tactic for you to do that probably nobody is thinking about. Try that.” You have that access to somebody with that experience, which very few people have. Having a mentor is so important in those scenarios.
I fell in success working with other realtors in the smaller outskirt areas because we’ve worked other areas outside of my metro and we couldn’t move on. We would start showing the deals to realtors. They knew landlord buyers in the area. That’s another way, is like going to Realtor.com, typing in the city, seeing all the realtors that pop up, get on the phone one day, call 40 of them, show them the deal and you’ll probably be able to move it if it’s a good deal by then.
One of the tactics in small cities that we use is if you go to Zillow.com and type in the city. You’re going to pull up every property that’s for sale there but there’s a section in Zillow, it’s under the More tab and then go down to a search box where it’ll search for keywords in any listing they have in that area. If you type the word investments, they’ll have every investment property that is for sale or has been for sale in that area. They all have a realtor that sold that property. Those people are the ones that are already connected with investors in that area and they probably have a buyer for you.
That’s a good one. There are a lot of good practical tips here. This topic is so topical right now because the major metros are sacred. We are in a real estate market that nobody can figure out. It is hot, anywhere that is somewhat desirable to live. There is not a lot of distressed inventory right now.
It’s very hard to find.
You have to come and go to the areas where there’s still some distress and those are usually the smaller towns.
One of the things that we’ve shifted away from is looking for motivated sellers. I don’t know that they exist in a lot of markets like people that are desperate to get rid of their property. I don’t know that those people exist in enough abundance that we can say that’s what we’re looking for. The people we’re looking for right now are legit to people who have low expectations for what they want in a transaction. Maybe they literally don’t want to fool with the real estate market but my expectations aren’t full retail. We’re looking for those people with lower expectations. That’s where a lot of our deals are coming from right now. It’s not people who are extremely motivated. It’s people that have low expectations.
When you can go into other markets, it allows you to still have those quality lists. It’s a brand new market.
What that means is to say a few years ago, you might have heard on YouTube university guys like, “If you get a lead, you need to qualify them before you make an offer.” What does qualified mean? It means that they have to have four degrees of motivation. One is that their price expectation is already 70% of Zillow when you first asked them that question. The second degree is that they have to have some death in the family, bankruptcy, divorce, foreclosure or some life event motivation and then the property also has to be in complete disrepair before you would give them an offer. That’s because there was a lot of seller distress. Several years ago, there was way more seller distress.
Now, it’s somebody with lower expectations meaning if somebody says they’d be interested in an offer. You need to give them an offer. Everybody gets an offer but doesn’t over qualify. It’s something that people have been doing. I get a lot of students that come to me and it’s because they watch a YouTube video from a few years ago. They use that script and then they over qualify. They maybe get twenty leads. They give out five offers. It’s because they overqualified using these degrees of motivation or whatever. It’s not like that now. It’s a numbers game and you have to make lots of offers and follow-up calls.
You’ve got to wait until that person gets some stress introduced into their life or maybe they don’t care enough anymore. They’re tough. We literally got a contract where a guy was like, “I’m sick of getting these phone calls. You guys were nice to me. Send me the contract.” You’ve got to find those people who are not motivated or not necessarily stressed. He’s like, “I’m at a point where I don’t care anymore. I’ve got lower expectations and we were able to negotiate it to a point where we can make a little money.”
Drive around. It’s funny to see our lists. We don’t drive for dollars anymore but going through the areas or town where we used to, I would get 100 properties in an hour that were boarded up and cars in the front yard. You can’t find a boarded-up house in Chattanooga anymore. I don’t care where you go. They’ve all been picked clean. They’ve all been picked up. We’re not where we were. Because of that, we have to change our tactics and understanding of how the market works.
Good advice, Tag. It’s been so fun talking all things virtual with you and if anybody that’s reading maybe wants to reach out to say hi, how can they find you? Do you want to drop your social media handles here?
Reach me out on Instagram, @TheWrongTag is my handle.
Tag, it’s always a pleasure to have you on the show. Guys, thank you so much for reading. Again, if you guys are interested in a coaching program to take your wholesaling business virtually, check out www.VirtualInvestingMastery.com. I’ll see you next time.
- Tag Thompson
- Episode – How a Wise Wholesaler Uses TTP (Talk to People) to Scale His Business Big Time (Past Episode)
- Episode – How to Do Real Estate Deals in ANY Market in the Country! (Past Episode)
About Lauren Hardy
Lauren Hardy is a Virtual Investing expert and Real Estate influencer who owns multiple companies in the real estate industry including real estate investment, coaching, and software companies. She is also a Wholesaling Inc coach and co-host of the Wholesaling Inc Podcast.
Her experience in the last decade has been focused on real estate investing and creating products and services to serve the real estate investing community. If you are interested in investing in real estate virtually, house flipping, or virtual landlording, Lauren’s your girl.