Table of Contents - No B.S. Branding for Real Estate Investors with Sharon Vornholt
Dave Debeau [00:00:08] Hey, everyone, this is Dave Debeau with another episode of the Property Profits Real Estate podcast. Today, it is my pleasure to be chatting with Sharon Bornholt all the way from Louisville, Kentucky. How are you doing today, Sharon?
Sharon Vornholt [00:00:22] I'm doing great. Dave, how are you?
Dave Debeau [00:00:24] I am fantastic. Thank you very much. So, Sharon, let's dove right into it and tell us just a big picture overview. What is your specialty when it comes to real estate investing?
Sharon Vornholt [00:00:37] Over the years I've been investing since nineteen ninety eight and I started out in one way. I started out as a buy and hold realtor and a rehabber. So I would my plan was to rehab some houses and we have a house and then take that money and buy a rental and I will work that plan really till two thousand and eight to work part time for 10 years. And in two thousand eight, two things happened. I closed the other business. And of course, that's when the recession hit in my area. And that was when I became an accidental wholesaler, because people I was very good at marketing and I could source deals all day long. But if you remember that time, the buyers couldn't get a mortgage and so that was the rehabbers hanging. They had to hold onto their properties for a long time. So I've done a mix of things over the years.
Dave Debeau [00:01:27] And what's your main focus these days?
Sharon Vornholt [00:01:28] Sure, I still I never intended to be a wholesaler, I'm still a wholesaler, but I'm big into the education side of the business with my blog and my podcast and of course, in all the other things that I do.
Dave Debeau [00:01:41] OK, so what was it that sparked your interest in real estate investing in the first place?
Sharon Vornholt [00:01:46] Well, the other business that I had was a home inspection business. So you probably know all about that. You do a lot of work with realtors and I know a lot of realtors. And that was the only way that I knew you did real estate was if you were realtor. And one of my realtor friends said, hey, do you want to go to a real meeting that said something like, what's the meeting? And so I went to the meeting and it was as if the doors to the heavens had been opened up. I saw this whole world of real estate where you didn't have to you could be an agent, but you didn't have to be an agent. And that was in nineteen ninety eight and I pretty much gone since nineteen ninety eight to those meetings.
Dave Debeau [00:02:25] Well that's wonderful. That's wonderful. So you heard the angels singing
Sharon Vornholt [00:02:30] as I saw vision.
Dave Debeau [00:02:34] So you did the real estate part time where you're still doing the property inspection business at the same time.
Sharon Vornholt [00:02:41] I did that for, for ten years, so I had the property inspection business all in for 17 years. So way back in nineteen ninety one when it actually home inspections were just getting to be a thing. We had that business and it was around two thousand and eight when I started investing. So for another ten years I did both and then went full time in 2008.
Dave Debeau [00:03:03] So I jumped in to full time in twenty eight. That's really when the what hit the fan states with the Great Recession. So how did you make a go of it at that time. Because you had to switch gears completely.
Sharon Vornholt [00:03:16] I had to switch gears completely, but my strength was marketing and I had a network of ten years. Now I wouldn't recommend that somebody that was brand new start that way. But for me, it was the perfect example at a time when I could just keep on cranking out the leads. And I had I was lucky. I had some buyers on my list that were really active investors, but they had two jobs. They worked for big corporations so they can still get money. And one thing I learned from them at that time was that I had to change my buying criteria. So deals that were great, deals that were great, retail deals were not necessarily great deals because they simply wouldn't cash flow. Right. My buyers educated me on buying a little bit different type of house. So I had to add one thing into the metrics, and that was if they can't sell this house, will it cash flow? And their answer always had to be yes.
Dave Debeau [00:04:13] So, yeah, focusing on cash flow. So now you've been doing you've been investing in real estate for many, many years. You've done a variety of different. Strategies. And now you're focusing on training people as well. What are some of the bigger mistakes you see real estate investors making, especially newbies?
Sharon Vornholt [00:04:33] Well, if I were to start all over again, there are several things that I would do differently. One is I would have certainly been more aggressive all those years of worked part time because I had a very demanding business. I don't know if you were you in the business at that time. It was kind of the Wild West with the home inspection business because realtors would go, you don't want a home inspection, do you? It's going to be two hundred and fifty dollars. It was it was still very much buyer beware. So I was very engrossed in that business and I took it a little bit slower when I started. So I regret that because you need to just dove in and get up to speed pretty much. So that's one thing. The second thing, that was a huge mistake that I made and that was in building our brand. And I see people make that same mistake today. They think, well, I've only done a few deals. I can work on that later. It's not important, but that's not the case. You need to be working on building your brand from day one so that when you're ready to step into your brand, it's it's already there. So that was a big thing. And the last thing is I would have outsource sooner. I think most people tend to stay a one man or a two man show for way too long. And if I had one piece of advice for people is the thing you absolutely have to get done is your marketing because nothing else matters. If you don't have leads coming in the door, you don't have anything to learn to negotiate. You don't have you don't need a Barasch list because you don't have deals. So you have to get the leads coming in the door. And if you outsource that and do it faster, you can make more money faster.
Dave Debeau [00:06:13] OK, very good. So that's something I'd like to dove in, but all three I'd love to dove into. But right now, for the time that we have, let's talk a little bit about branding when it comes to us as real estate investors or real estate entrepreneurs. First of all, what does that even mean to you? What does branding mean to you?
Sharon Vornholt [00:06:31] Well, branding means to me that it's getting your name out. So I like to tell people marketing is how you get links and branding is why they choose you. If you don't build your persona, build your brand online, build your brand A. Somebody is going to do it for you. They're going to be saying, well, that day is gone and then it's going to be their opinion. So with the online world today, we have the unique opportunity to be seen as experts. Now you have to know your stuff. There's no doubt about that. But you can whether it's through a blog or a podcast, which we do, or a YouTube channel, you can actively show people that this is what you do. This is my area of expertize. And you don't have to wait till somebody kind of figures it out. So you can be very proactive. That's what I mean by brands. So if I walk into a meeting, they know that I'm sharing. I'm I'm an investor, but I'm a podcast or I'm a blogger and I do these things and that I'm genuine. So it goes back to the whole you like interest thing. And with the Internet, you have an opportunity that certainly we didn't have when I started out.
Dave Debeau [00:07:45] Yeah, definitely. Definitely. So, Sharon, if somebody's saying, you know what, that sounds good, what would you recommend for people as far as baby steps or first steps towards enhancing or creating their brand?
Sharon Vornholt [00:08:00] Well, I would say to kind of take an inventory. So it's not unusual for people to start out doing deals and they have no online presence for me and for most of the real estate investors. I know Facebook is a powerful place. If you use it correctly for people like you, you probably you have LinkedIn would be a good fit for you, for the average rehabber. LinkedIn is not such a great stat. So I think you need to figure out where you set and video. People love video. So if you're in rehab or you're probably thinking I'm not writing in a blog post, well, that's OK. But you can do a video and showcase your walk through on your house. You can do before and afters. You can say here's how you install a sink. There's just a million things you can do. So you don't have to do what we do, which is podcast and blog. But you need to start to build an online presence because here's what I like to tell people. The way it used to be, you would send out a marketing piece and based on your marketing piece, people would call you or not. Now there's a step in the middle. They get your marketing piece. The next thing they do is they look you up online. They want to know, is Dave a genuine what? He doesn't have a website? Oh, no, he must be. I had an older guy tell me recently I you because they're the guy he must be a huckster. That's what's the word to use the. Because he didn't have a website.
Dave Debeau [00:09:25] It's so true, it's
Sharon Vornholt [00:09:27] true, it's true. So you need a website. That's my first thing. You need a website.
Dave Debeau [00:09:32] Yeah. OK, now, because this is this is something that I struggle with. Communicating to people as well as I'd like, and that is the power of video, and I always suggest, you know, what video is the next best thing to being there face to face with somebody. But people you know what I find that people are so hesitant to get into in the video, they go, Dave, you know what? It's easy for you because you're so damn good looking.
Sharon Vornholt [00:10:03] That's such a great
Dave Debeau [00:10:04] sense of humor, so much charisma. And your modesty just oozes from you. So it's easy for your day, of course. So what is when you get students or people saying, you know what, I just really don't want to do video? How do you educate them about the power of video?
Sharon Vornholt [00:10:22] Well, I tell them there is no faster way for you to become known in your industry than through video and people if they read something about you, let's take my blog. If I write an article, they might be. That's great, but that doesn't really tell me who she is. But if I make a video and I'm a firm believer in that, you start where you are and you love the lot so you can make great videos with your with your iPhone, you can say, hi, I'm Sharon. I mean, this is what I do. I'm a mom. I have a one grandchild. You tell them a tiny little bit about your personal life so they know you're a real person. But I'm an expert at this. You can do that. You can put that on your website and people will go, wow, he seems like a normal person. He seems, or she seems to be OK. So there is great power in building the know like and trust to remember that marketing is how you get leads and branding is why they choose you. So with video, I tell them to step into it and I also tell them there's nobody that hates doing video more than me. I do it all the time, but it's like, oh my gosh, what? I'm not 20 anymore. So it's hard. I don't care who you are or how old you are or how engaging you are like you are. You're never really, I don't think one hundred percent satisfied with the way you look for women. It's I'm having a bad hair day or whatever, but if you think
Dave Debeau [00:11:48] about her a decade. Sure.
Sharon Vornholt [00:11:50] And so I'll get that one. So the best people the one piece of advice I would say is that people are not nearly so concerned with the way you look as you are concerned with the way you look. They're more concerned with the information and the transformation that you can provide them so he can tell them how to transform their business, whether it's through raising private money or upping your marketing game. Or I can show you how to get to a never ending source of leads through probate investing. If you can show them really what you can offer them, that will grow their business. I think that's the key. And for somebody that's looking for leads, it just gives you more credibility if you've got a video presence out there.
Dave Debeau [00:12:37] Very, very well said. The bottom line is because I find a lot of people put this on pause or procrastinate about it, saying, you know what, I've got to get set up with the right equipment. I have a green screen and cool stuff in the background. All this crap, quite frankly, or you know what, I'm shy. I'm not a good public speaker, yada, yada, whatever it is. Bottom line is you don't need any of that stuff. And in fact, I think it works against you if you look too slick. Yeah. It's better to come across as a genuine person. Would you
Sharon Vornholt [00:13:08] agree? I would agree completely if some people's webcam on their computer is good enough to just sit in front of your computer, make a video. Man has not been in my last three computers. I have a thirty dollars. Forty dollars fifty dollars Logitech camera. That doesn't that does a much better job. I do think sound is important, but you can get a mike fairly cheaply. Sound is important, but you don't need a lot of equipment, you don't need a lot of money. If you're using your smartphone you can get a clip on my. I don't if you're trying to make videos outside, don't make the mistake of thinking you're going to hold your phone out here and it's going to pick up the sound. But you come back for ten bucks a little lavalier mike. What you can either do Bluetooth or you can do a clip on one with a cord and you can have a great sound. You can use your phone. You can walk through the house and show. I look at this really ugly house. There are just I would say the biggest thing is just to do it. So I always tell people about my first fifteen minute video. I was asked by someone to make a teaching video ten, fifteen minutes on a topic. And I said, sure. And they said, well, how long did it take you? And I said, two days. They did it over and over and over till I got so exhausted. I said, I don't care anymore. Also when you're doing video and other chips at your videos, the first one is hard, the second one is less hard. Pick out ten topics and sit down in front of your camera in front of a computer and just knock out ten or fifteen. For people, you will be over it by then, you will.
Dave Debeau [00:14:44] Excellent advice. Sure. So you touched on something. We just got a couple of minutes here before I have to wrap up. But it seems like your main focus these days is wholesaling, especially especially probate, probate. So explain to us, what exactly does that mean if somebody is not even familiar with what probate deals are? What are they?
Sharon Vornholt [00:15:04] Well, probate deals. This is when someone passes away and they there's a house in the estate. People are under the impression that somehow the heirs just get everything. But that's not the way it works in the US. In most places, there's a process. You have to open the open the estate and then there's a process that goes through. But there's a stage in there when you can buy the property. And in my area, it's just as simple as writing a contract. And sadly, you will never run out of leads because every month there is a new group of leads in my area, somewhere between 60 and 80 after I've scrubbed them out for these are too expensive or these are really in war zones. You don't want those. And it's amazing. The people that don't put their property, they don't do estate planning. But this is a wide open field for investors. And what you need to understand is that in almost every single case, they must sell the property to settle the estate. So they have to liquidate the assets before the heirs can inherit what is theirs. So it's not a thing if you wait till after the estate is close, which is a common misconception, in order for the estate to be closed, they must liquidate any property in the estate that's not been directly will. Now, in the case of a husband or wife, they'll have to have that all taken care of through the deed or through planning. But there, sadly, you will never run out of leads. They're very motivated sellers and realtors out there that might be listing this. You're totally missing the boat because investors are getting the deals, the distressed properties, just like we said, mix of what goes on the MLS and what what is sold to investors. But stop and think about this for a minute. If you are an agent or an agent investor, what if you get all those leads before they ever made it to the MLS and investors is huge. It's huge. The whole probate investing field,
Dave Debeau [00:17:04] interesting and unfortunate. And we're running out of time. So if people like to find out more about you and what you do and perhaps a little bit about probate investing, what should they do?
Sharon Vornholt [00:17:15] They should come over to my blog, the Louisville Gousse real estate blog. Or if you want to know specifically about probate investing, all that, talk about it a ton over on the blog and it links off to any videos or podcasts that I have. They can check out probate investing, simplified dot com. And that's my because
Dave Debeau [00:17:31] it's a good title. Very good. Sharon, thank you so much for your time today. It's been a lot of fun. I'll definitely have to have you on the podcast again, because you're a marketer. I'm a marketer. I love marketing stuff, especially when it comes to real estate investing. We just kind of scratched the surface there. So to continue that conversation, I would love to thank you. Thank you. All right, everybody, take care and we'll talk to you on the next episode. Well, thanks very much for checking out the property profits podcast and you like what we're doing here. Please head on over to iTunes, subscribe read us and leave us to review. Very, very much appreciated. And if you're looking to create a regular flow of inbound investor inquiries about your real estate deals, then I invite you to attend one of my upcoming live online demonstrations. And you can check that out at Investor Attraction Demo Dotcom Ticker.