Jim is a successful investor in Virginia where he’s purchased close to 300 properties in the last few years. He wholesales, flips, and rents.
If you are having a difficult time getting funding, listen to this interview! Jim explains how to get private money — he never uses banks and doesn’t use his own money.
Jim also shares his outlook of the real estate investing market for the next couple of years. If you are committed to success in real estate investing you need to hear his perspective.
Transcription by SpeechPad
Damon: Hi, this is Damon Janis with Eyes On Investors, part of
Lifestyles Unlimited. I’d like to welcome you to today’s interview with
Jim Ingersoll. Jim is a long-time investor in Virginia, and he has a
tremendous amount of experience in flipping houses as well as purchasing
homes and renting them out.
We had a great conversation. You’re really going to like this
interview. We covered everything from finding properties to
partnering, getting private money. That’s a really big one. He
gives some really good advice on how to get private money. If
you’re looking for money to invest in real estate and don’t want
to get money with banks, he’s got some good advice for you.
Definitely make sure you listen to that part of the interview.
We talked about fixing up houses and how do you sell them and
lots of great things. Jim was a great guest. I really enjoyed
the interview. I hope you enjoy it, too.
I’m interested in how you got started in real estate investing
and just give us a background on what you’ve done and how many
properties you’ve purchased. I know you’ve done several hundred
flips, if I remember right from your website.
Jim: Well, I started off when I was really young. My wife and I bought our
first house when we got married at 21. From there, shortly after
that we actually bought a duplex and had no training whatsoever.
It was really a tough experience. It goes back to the point that
investing in yourself and getting your education in real estate
is really important.
We got through that. I ended up selling that duplex under a land
contract to get out of it. Then, I took about ten years off of
real estate and then came back in the market when it got really
hot. I started flipping a house. I was still working full-time
at that point and started flipping houses here and there and
then buying some and holding them as rentals and just kind of
eased back in.
Then, I got to the point where I thought everything looked
really good in real estate and I could probably escape my day
job and just do this full time. I started going there full
Damon: You’re an engineer, right?
Damon: Is that what you were doing for your job?
Jim: I’ve got my Master’s in engineering. Yeah, I climbed that corporate
ladder to the top, to the point that it made me sick anyway.
Damon: I’m a software engineer and I had the same experience so I know
what you’re talking about.
Jim: Great. I understand. I climbed the ladder. Anyway I saw wholesale as
a way of generating some pretty easy income. I started
wholesaling maybe in 2006, 2007 maybe, and very quickly ramped
up my wholesaling business to the point that I did 120 wholesale
deals in 2007.
Damon: Wow, in just one year.
Jim: That was a really busy year. It was 10 per month for a year.
Jim: I did that. I was doing bus tours and all kinds of things. Basically,
I had it set up as any other business, like an order fulfillment
process. People were just telling me for the houses they were
looking for. I would just go out and find them and I could just
sell them just like anybody else. I tried to fulfill orders on
anything else. That worked out really well.
That’s when the market was the opposite of what it is today
because back then financing was super easy and people were
getting hard-to-find loans and the conventional financing to buy
all of these houses from you. The challenge then was that the
market was pretty strong, so nobody could find good houses to
buy at the right LTV. That’s what I became really good at was
finding the house they want listed and buy then directly across
the kitchen table from the owner and just wholesaling them away.
That worked really great when financing was easy. As you know, a
few years back, the market did a 180, it became a buyer’s
market, and credit became really tight. It was the opposite.
That’s why I started flipping houses to first-time home buyers
because they can still get the funding and the conventional
financing when the investors were getting stuck.
I migrated from primarily wholesaling into flipping houses. I
did a lot of that. I don’t really know how many I’m going to do
this year. Over the last five years, we have bought and sold
probably 200 or 300 houses between wholesaling them and flipping
them and buying rentals and things like that.
Damon: You’ve done a lot of flips. You mentioned that you also have
rentals. Do you currently have those, or have you sold those
Jim: No, I’ve still got them. I’m adding rentals. I’ve added, I think,
four in the last couple months.
Damon: What criteria do you use to decide whether you do a flip or
whether you rented it, hold on to it and rent it out?
Jim: Well, a part of it is driven by my funding, which we’ll have a
discussion on in a few minutes. I don’t use banks at all. I’ve
completely eliminated using banks for funding. They’re out of my
investing equation completely, so I don’t need to rely on
applications. If you get a lot of rental property, it becomes a
little more complicated because they want copies of the leases,
and they want to know a lot of information about you and a lot
of information about all your properties. About a year ago, I
just said, “That’s it. I’m never going to use banks again.”
Getting back to your question, it depends on the funding partner
that I’m working with, what their long-term plan is, if they
want to use their funding for short-term flips or are they okay
with me tying up their money for five or ten years to do rental
Damon: I see.
Jim: Once I know what the exit is from the funding I have set up, now I’ll
go and find the right property for that. I can’t find plenty of
property for either scenario right now.
Damon: I want to get into the funding aspect because, as we were
talking about earlier, that’s really the biggest area of
interest that most people have right now. Before we do that, can
you help us understand how you go about finding these
properties? I know you’ve got some wholesale experience. Are you
still following that pattern? What do you do to go out and get
these good deals?
Jim: Well, this year I’m buying a ton of foreclosures and REO property. I
found especially HUD homes are taking really good discounts this
year, so I’m trying to capitalize on HUD houses, in particular.
If I’m looking for things like seller financing, then I’ll go
out and do my own marketing as well. I’m doing a lot less of my
own marketing than I used to. I used to do about 15 or 20
different things. It all worked and I had tons of lead
generation things. At this point, I pick and choose off the
I also found I can also buy from regional sized banks direct before
they list some with the realtor as well. I’ve got some different
avenues, but I’m buying mostly cash this year without banks. I’m
able to buy based on price as much as anything else which is, a
lot of times, a foreclosure.
Damon: You’re going in with cash offers, I assume?
Damon: It’s making the offer more attractive than if you would borrow
Jim: Yeah. I used to always make multiple offers when buying from
individual owners, so I’d put like three offers. One would be
sell a financed, one would be a cash, and one might be a lease
option or something different. This year I’m buying a lot from
Damon: I see. Interesting. Well, we talked about finding. Let’s talk
about how you get the private funding so you can go buy these
deals with cash. I’m really interested in that.
Jim: Well, right now it should be easier than ever because the stock
market is down. It dropped 15 points, right?
Damon: It sure did.
Jim: If people start to get themselves a little bit of a financial
education and understand things like compound interest and the
difference between somebody losing 15 points in the stock market
to just putting it into a CD for maybe 0.4% or maybe up to 2% if
they’ll tie it up for five or ten years, and then compare that
to what somebody can get investing the funds into real estate
which is… Say, you even went in at a 6% rate. Your net’s three
times what somebody is going to earn in a CD.
Frankly, there’s a way to do joint ventures and things like that that
I can provide the people funding me with returns easily of 17%
and significantly more at times. When you start to understand
the financial differences using compound interest between losing
15 points versus earning one or two points of a CD versus
earning 17%, over 20 years, that could be a difference of about
$2 million for somebody.
Not that you want to sound cocky or anything, but it’s good to have
some confidence and know what you’re going to provide back to
that private lender as well because they need us as badly as we
Damon: There are people out there that have money to invest. They’re
not happy with CDs and other things they’ve got. If you can find
them or they find you, you’ve got something of value to offer
them, is what you’re saying.
Jim: I can offer them literally a couple million dollars difference in
their bank account over 15 or 20 years. That’s a lot of money.
Damon: That’s significant, yeah. How do you find these people? Are you
just networking and all or do you have a system of getting in
touch with people who potentially have this kind of need?
Jim: Well, I don’t think you need all that many of these people. There’s a
lot of cash that’s been moved out of the market, especially
after the last week or so. There’s tons of money moved into CDs
earning nothing. Other people have 401(k)s that are just sitting
around that could be turned into self-directed IRAs and then
they can lend you the money.
I’m really not looking actively for people, but I think
networking is important. I think one easy way is if one of your
people listening already has a 401(k), and they’re a real estate
investor, they could probably find another real estate investor
with a similar amount of 401(k) money. Both of these two
investors could roll it into a self-directed IRA and then be
private lenders to each other at the exact same terms.
See, there are a lot of prohibited transactions in self-directed
IRAs, but one of the things you can do is, say, I could lend to
you and you could lend to me. Say, we each had $100,000 in a
401(k) and we can roll up each of ours into a self-directed IRA.
I could lend it to you at whatever interest rate and then you
lend yours to me at the exact same terms. Say, it’s a couple of
points and, say, 8% or 10% interest. That way, your 401(k) grows
and so does mine, but it allows us to take that capital and use
it in today’s market as well.
Damon: That makes sense.
Jim: That’s just an example. That’s probably the easiest way to find your
first private lender is for you to be willing to lend to
somebody else and maybe you’re at the same terms.
Damon: That’s a great idea. In fact, I know somebody in our group here
in Houston who told me a few weeks ago that if he found somebody
and they’ve set up some kind of system like that . . . that’s
the first time I’ve heard of it. What you’re saying really
confirms that. That’s a great fit. Our listeners are going to
benefit from this.
Jim: That’s probably the easiest way to get your very first one if you
have some kind of a 401(k) or pension or something. I think it
may be difficult to roll that into a self-directed IRA, but
you’re in Houston?
Damon: Yeah, Houston.
Jim: I use and trust Quincy Long. He’s located right in Houston.
Damon: Yeah. In fact, I interviewed him a few months ago.
Jim: I’m all the way down in Virginia, but I know Quincy pretty well, and
I really love his grip and his scheme so he’s my custodian of
mine. I love lending mine out as well.
Damon: That’s great.
Jim: He’s got mine. I highly recommend the Entrust Group out of Houston.
They do a great job.
Damon: Yeah, I agree. I was very impressed with him as well. Let’s say
you go find somebody who has money, not doing the 401(k) thing
like we’ve been talking about but a different scenario. What
kind of agreement do you make with a person like that? The
minute they lend you the money, do you start making the payments
to them or is it more tied to a particular property?
Jim: Yeah, it’s kind of a paradigm shifting you’re thinking because when
you go to the bank, you’re used to them giving you a loan
application and telling you what the terms of the loan are, the
amortization, the interest rate, how long it is. When you’re
working with a private lender, all of that stuff is just a blank
sheet of paper. You need to start to get comfortable with
constructing a win-win transaction. It depends. Every person I
work with may want something a little bit different.
There are basically two types of financing. Some people are going to
want debt financing which is points and interest like a bank.
Other people may want a piece of the equity so you may be able
to give them 30% or 50% of the upside equity of the house in
exchange for making any mortgage payments.
Damon: Yeah, I was going to ask you about that because it would seem
like some people, some investors would be more interested in
just getting cash flow or a return on their investment. Others
would be interested more in equity and maybe some both. I guess
what you’re saying is, depending on who you’re working with,
you’ll need to structure a deal that works for you and works for
Jim: Yeah. That’s right. You’ve got to customize what you’re doing and
become comfortable with the terms of financing. Know the
difference between debt financing and equity financing. You
utilize both to make people happy, but the returns are really
strong either way.
Damon: Yeah. Absolutely.
Jim: I, personally, when I do these loans, I don’t make any mortgage
payments. I also get 100% of my renovation funds up front.
Damon: Yeah, that was another thing I wanted to ask you. You’re
borrowing enough from the person you’re partnering with, so you
buy the property to fix it up, all of those costs. You’re not
putting any of your own money into these deals typically, is
Jim: That’s my goal, yes, to use none of my own money. My return is
infinite, but I do all of the work. Their return is significant
but not infinite, but they’re completely passive and they do
none of the work. They’re like the catalyst in the deal. I’ll go
out and find a house. I’ve got a construction company, so we’ll
fix it up, and we’ll either rent it or sell it. I do all of the
active parts of the deal.
That person, though, I expect that person to fund it at closing,
the acquisition, the closing costs, and the repairs up front.
Generally, I’ll make no mortgage payments unless I’m dong like a
long-term rental and then what we’ll do is typically split up
the rents or I’ll make them a low interest payment every month.
Damon: I see. Oh, yeah, so on the flips that you’re doing, they’ll put
the money up front, you’ll fix the house up, then when you sell
it, is that when you distribute the money back to your partner?
Jim: Yeah. If I’m doing points and interest and it’s interest accruing, so
I’ve got no monthly commitments and we both get paid at same
time. If we’re sharing equity, then we just do it with a payoff
letter, and they get paid the same time that I do as well.
Damon: I see.
Jim: When I do rental properties, I’m using a joint venture agreement
which specifies… Typically, it will either be, again, interest
or it will be an equity share where we take the net rental
income and we share that every month. At the end when we some
day sell it, we’ll share the upside equity as well.
Damon: I see. That makes sense. Yeah, this is really helpful
information, Jim. I appreciate it. Let’s see, let’s talk a
little bit about what advice would you have for somebody who’s
just getting started and maybe doesn’t have a track record yet
where they could go to a potential investor and say, “Hey, here
are the returns I can get you”? How would you recommend that
somebody get started if they don’t have any track record?
Jim: First, if they have a 401(k), then they could offer to trade that off
with another investor looking to do the same thing. That’s
really the easiest way. Somebody just starting is going to have
to start to get their team in place. Make sure they’ve got the
connections in real estate where all the direct [inaudible
17:09] is, so at least, they can go back and say, “I haven’t
really done this very often, but here’s the people that I do
work with,” and maybe offer the person the chance to call them
or something like that. You’ve got to verify credibility.
The biggest thing you’ve got to overcome is probably the fact
that you’re not going to create a Ponzi scheme or something like
that, more so than the lack of experience. That’s my opinion.
Once you’ve gotten your private lenders, you need to take really
good care of them. I treat them better than I ever would a bank
anyway. They’re putting up their personal finances. It’s a lot
of responsibility for a real estate investor to really secure
and do all the paperwork right and protect their interests. Once
you do that and you provide a good return, they’re going to want
you to use that money over and over again. They’ll probably free
up more funds for you as well.
Damon: You’re hitting on a topic that’s interesting to me personally
because one of the reasons I haven’t gone out and gotten private
money from individuals is my parents did real estate investing
in California while I was growing up. They kind of scripted me
to not do partnerships with people, not take other people’s
money because if the deal goes bad, it’s just problematic.
They’ve always done their own thing. I think, well, that works,
but I could see my wealth growing much quicker if I were to go
do the private money this way. What would you say to somebody
like me who’s kind of afraid to take people’s money and take
that kind of responsibility on?
Jim: I would say if you’re an honest, creditable person, you should have
no fears at all. As long as you have some experience in the real
estate marketplace, you’re going to do just fine. I’ll again go
back to my comment that there’s a big difference between 1% or
2% interest and, say, a 15% to 20% return annually compounded
over 20 years. I almost feel like I would be cheating some of
these people out of literally a couple of million dollars over
20 years. How can I not help them build their wealth while
they’re helping me succeed in today’s market?
Damon: That’s a great way to look at it.
Jim: It’s mutually beneficial. There are risks, both sides, but, again,
when I’m the real estate investor and I’m not lending, it’s my
responsibility to make sure I get all the paperwork right and
everything’s secure and put away properly for them. Remember, I
also like to be on both sides. You may want to try any money
yourself first and understand how it feels to be a lender. I
would say as many houses as I’ve borrowed over the years and as
much as I love buying houses, I think I would like lending money
all the time more than just buying all these houses because it’s
Jim: It’s passive. I’m working a lot every week right now.
Damon: Exactly. I wanted to touch on that, too. Do you have a team of
people that’s helping you do this stuff? You’ve got finding
properties. You’ve got the acquisition. You said that you have a
construction company, so that does the fix ups. If it’s a
rental, do you have people that are renting it out or are you
doing all these things yourself?
Jim: Really, it’s just my wife and I, and my kids are helping me over the
summer while they’re home from college. That’s really it. I have
people like my father-in-law help me a little bit every week and
I have people that come in and out. My wife does a lot of the
bookkeeping and office work. My father-in-law will pinch hit and
help me with some property management. He can get people to sign
leases or show them houses. I’m not a realtor, so I’ve got some
realtors that will help me get stuff listed and sold. I do a lot
of marketing when I sell as well.
Damon: Yeah, you talked about that in your book on the selling side
that you, again, if you do want to list with an agent, you might
be able to work out a flat fee kind of deal so they can list it
up on the MLS and market it for you.
Jim: Yes. You’ll save thousands. I don’t ever pay 3% listing commission.
Damon: Got you.
Jim: I just pay flat fees. That’s exactly what I do. It saves thousands
out of every single house. Also, my realtor will do . . . even
though they’re listing it at a flat fee, they’ll still do
marketing on our houses because they can create buyers that way.
I’ll go through. I’ll do all those things that I listed in my book. I
do them all the time every week, price list ads, YouTube videos,
social media and things like that. I think it really helps get
houses sold and rented fast these days.
Damon: While we’re talking about it, the book is called, “Investing
Now: An Insider’s Guide to Flipping Houses for Income Today.”
When we were preparing to do this interview, I went ahead and
bought it. I bought the Kindle version.
Damon: It’s a really good read. You did a great job explaining things
very clearly and just some real practical information in there.
I encourage our listeners to go get that and read through it,
especially if you’re looking at flipping houses. It’s a great
resource there for flipping houses.
Jim: Thanks. When I first got into real estate, like I said, when I came
back in when the market was really strong and there were all
kinds of real estate books coming out. When the market tanked,
as the media calls it, the market actually got a lot better for
all of us investors but nobody put books out any more. That’s
what led to me writing my book. It was like I don’t have any new
ones to read, so I went ahead and wrote one.
Damon: Wrote one for yourself by yourself.
Damon: It’s a great read. Let’s see, we talked about finding
financing. Let’s talk about fixing up the properties. What’s a
good approach to take if you’re doing a flip to make sure that
you don’t spent too much money, you’re getting it done for the
right price, that sort of thing?
Jim: Well, it’s important to develop a really strong contracting team that
you can really trust. In my book, I talk about how to find
contractors. I’ve got a construction company so it’s pretty easy
for me. I’m a Class A contractor as well. The important thing is
to build your team and to get their input as you go through it
because they’ll help you save time and money.
Price, quality, and time are all really important. You’ve got to
really push to get all three. I want to get our houses fast. I
want to do the right renovations and get it done and provide a
good quality product for the end buyer. All three are really
important, and it kind of depends on the neighborhood and the
other houses around it as far as your selections and if you’re
first starting off versus whether you’re an experienced flipper,
also. There are a lot of considerations there.
Damon: Are you looking at any particular… Would you flip a high-end
house or are you trying to keep on the lower side where there
might be more buying demand? Do you consider that as you’re
looking at this?
Jim: I do. Yeah, I do. I’m looking for primarily first-time home buyers.
In our market that could be from a retail price of, say,
$120,000 up to maybe $220,000. I try not to exceed that because
I want the largest pool of possible buyers. Neighborhood is
really important. I always say choose a neighborhood that you
feel comfortable when your teenage daughter is going to it at
night. It’s my litmus test. I’ve got two teenage daughters, so
if I’m uncomfortable sending them to that house at night, it’s
probably not a good neighborhood for a first-time home buyer.
Damon: That’s a great rule of thumb. That’s great. I’ve got a 22-year-
old daughter and a 13-year-old daughter, so I can picture that
Jim: You understand. Yeah, you understand.
Jim: It’s the same when you’re buying rental properties as far as I’m
Damon: That’s great. Let’s see, I’m interested in some stories that
you might have. You’ve done so many properties. I’m sure you’ve
got some good stories of some, I don’t know. What’s the worst
property you’ve seen or maybe the most interesting turn-around
that you’ve had on a flip that you’ve done?
Jim: I’ve done some really extensive flips. When I was wholesaling, I saw
some of the worst houses in the worst parts of the ghetto. I’ve
walked into houses that looked like a bomb went off inside.
Also, I talk about this in my book a little bit, but I’ve walked
into houses that are supposed to be vacant. You walk inside and
find people in them. That can be a little frightening at times.
It could be a squatter. It could be somebody doing drugs. You’ve
got to be able to be a little bit aware if you’re going into
vacant houses alone. I’ve seen all kinds of animals, dead
animals, everything from dead cats to fleas, mice and snakes.
Just be aware. I’ve fallen through floors and done a lot of
stuff, found the wrong house.
Damon: Yeah. I think I remember in your book you mentioned that you
went onto a porch of a house and you fell through the porch
because the wood was rotting down.
Jim: I went to one house to meet with a buyer, and it was really a rough
area, when I was wholesaling. This guy comes to the door
shirtless. First, I knocked on the door. Nobody answered. As
usual, I just walked in because I go to a lot of vacant houses.
Next thing I know, he comes running into the living room and his
shirt was gone and he was yelling, “What are you doing in my
house?” Anyway, there are probably a lot of stories if I think
about it. There are different ways to get into houses and how to
get out of them if you need to.
Damon: Make sure you always know where the exit is in case somebody’s
there and you didn’t expect it.
Jim: Yes, and be careful on the stairs because you could fall through.
Damon: Oh, boy. Do you have any plans to do multi-family or you’re
just comfortable with the single family and what you’re doing?
Jim: I’ve wholesaled a lot of multi-family and that’s what I’ll continue
to do when I get it. I’m more of a single family home guy.
That’s the asset class that I’m most comfortable in. I’ve
personally had some multi-family, and it’s a little more work
for me than single family. I find the tenants are a little more
come and go. There’s a little more maintenance.
When I’m renting, I really want somebody to come in, preferably
a family, and stay for multiple years really, just leave me
alone, pay their rent on time, and take care of the place, and
Damon: Yeah. Absolutely.
Jim: That’s a landlord’s dream. I can’t quite get there with multi-
families, so I’ve become more of a single family guy.
Damon: More single family.
Jim: Yeah. That’s my preference at this point.
Damon: What’s your vision like for, say, in a year from now or a
couple of years from now? Do you have a sense as to where the
market’s going and what you’ll be doing?
Jim: I think we’re at the bottom now. I think we’ll be at the bottom for a
while. Anybody who can buy and hold right now when we’re near
the bottom, you should be set for life when it starts turning
up. I think when it starts turning up, it’ll be too late. By the
time that people talk about the market turning up, you’ll have
missed the best part of it. Buy and hold right now would be a
My goal is to get a group of houses paid off completely and have
no mortgages on them and just live off the rent. That’s kind of
my long-term goal.
Damon: When you can buy and hold, that’s really your preference over
Damon: Is that right?
Damon: That makes sense. We help people flip in Lifestyles, Unlimited,
but we recommend buying and hold if they can because you get the
taxes, the cash flow, and things like that.
Jim: That’s really my long-term preference.
Damon: Let’s see. It’s August of 2011. I’m just saying this for people
who are watching this maybe a few months from now, but do you
feel like there’s another year or two of opportunity to be
buying these properties or is the window starting to close, do
Jim: No, I think it will be here for a year or two. It’s good for
everybody in real estate investing right now. Yeah, I think it
will be here for a couple of years. I think the [inaudible
29:41] foreclosure inventory numbers are really strong. I think
we’re coming through kind of a Fannie Mae moratorium right now.
When that’s lifted I think we’ll have more opportunity on
foreclosures in the very near future. I think it will be here
for a good while.
Damon: Excellent. Well, we’ve covered a lot of stuff here. The quality
of the content you’ve given us is really awesome.
Jim: Thank you. I’ve enjoyed it.
Damon: It’s been wonderful. Is there anything that we haven’t talked
about that you’d like to share with people?
Jim: No, just encourage people to get over that four letter word “fear.”
Don’t be afraid in this market. It’s probably the best chance of
your entire generation to make it happen right now. Just do it
and don’t be afraid to just move on. It’s your time.
Damon: That’s great words of advice. We’ll leave the interview there.
I just want to refer people again to your book, “Investing Now:
An Insider’s Guide to Flipping Houses for Income Today.” Your
website is InvestingNowNetwork.com.
Jim: That’s right.
Damon: In fact, I went out to your blog this morning and you’ve got
some really good articles out there.
Damon: I recommend our listeners go take a look at that and connect
Damon: Thank you so much, Jim. It’s been a pleasure.
Jim: It was nice connecting with you. Best of luck, Damon.
Damon: Thank you. Take care.
Jim: All right. Bye-bye.