When you live in a smaller town, you might envy big investors in Houston, Los Angeles or Dallas. After all, they’ve got more potential deals, right?
It might feel like there are no deals for you and that your market is too small to become a successful investor.
Today’s guest Blaine Dartez will show you that the opposite is true. He went from a giant market to a tiny one and became a full-time investor with so many leads he has to turn some away!
In today’s episode, you’ll hear how he did it and what you can learn from him so you can succeed in a small market with plenty of leads and deals closed every month.
Show highlights include:
You can find Blaine at https://www.awesomecashbuyers.com/.
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You're listening to the REI Marketing Nerds podcast, the leading resource for real estate investors who want to dominate their market online. Dan Barrett is the founder of Ad Words Nerds, a high tech digital agency focusing exclusively on helping real estate investors like you get more leads and deals online, outsmart your competition and live a freer, more awesome life. And now, your host, Dan Barrett.
Dan: Alright, I'm here with Blaine Dartez. He runs Awesome Wholesaler, LLC. They're over at AwesomeCashBuyers.com. Blaine, how are you man?
Blaine: I'm doing good, Dan. Thanks for having me.
Dan: I was literally just talking about the team having to edit this podcast to make me sound smart and they already have something to do, so it's going to be super cool. [0:01:01.5]
So, yeah, Blaine, thank you so much for coming on the show. I really appreciate it. I've got a bunch of stuff I want to get into, but why don't we just kind of start at the beginning. How did you find real estate investing? Like, what was your in to this wonderful world of ours?
Blaine: Well, it's kind of a long story. I'm gonna shorten it as much as I can.
Dan: Well, I love long stories, so I think you should just get into it.
Blaine: Well, I'll tell you as much as I remember because this is really literally the first time I have ever been asked this question. So, my mother is a real estate agent down in Texas and that's where I'm originally from. She specializes in ranch homes and things like that. For the longest time I was in construction, my dad owns a construction company down there, so really it took a lot of cultivated years for my interest and love of real estate to kind of grow in me. I always knew that I wanted to get into it, I just didn't necessarily think that I wanted to be a real estate agent. [0:02:04.1]
And seeing my mom and the long hours that she worked and things like that kind of put a damper on it for me, but as I grew older I realized that hey, I don't want to work for somebody the rest of my life and I want to make an impact in my area where I'm from, how can I help people, and how can I build a business around that, and just naturally gravitated toward my knowledge of real estate. And in looking into it more, I realized hey, I can really help people. You know, I can help people, I can build my own business and at the same time I can really do good in my area, my community, and get to know my area and community. That's a big thing with me. When I was on the road in construction, I was never able to experience my area, and where I live up in Virginia and Tennessee now I'm really able to dive into my community and be a part of it in real estate, so I love that aspect of it. [0:03:03.0]
Dan: I mean, I think it's pretty interesting because real estate investing, or real estate in general, right, even from the agent side is this interesting thing where you can really see the direct impact, right? It's like there's a house that I either bought or sold or fixed up or whatever. I mean, it's very tangible in a way that I think a lot of other community-oriented things really are, right? So that must feel pretty awesome.
Blaine: Absolutely. You can build it. You can see what you're doing. You can see the impact that you're having in your community. You know, whether it's renovating a property or, you know, helping somebody out, getting rid of a property that they couldn't do and just seeing the relief in their eyes and just the light that shines with somebody in a new house and sell their house or can just get out from underneath that property that is killing them at this point in time. You know, I love it. I really do. [0:04:01.6]
Dan: What made you move from Texas? Like, how did you end up in Virginia?
Blaine: So, I was in the industrial construction sector building power plants and stuff like that, so actually I moved up there on a job, I fell in love with the area, not because it's a big city but because it has four seasons and it's gorgeous. I saw snow for the first time up here and I was like, "What is this?" So, I decided to stay. I met my wife. We had kids and I've been up here ever since, so I've really been wanting to experience the area, too. It's just such a drastic difference from down there and up here, but I love it.
Dan: Yeah, I mean that is a beautiful part of the country, it really is. Yeah, that's awesome. The four seasons thing is wild to me because it's like I'm from New England and I've live here my whole life, you know except for some stents on and off, and it's like I can't even comprehend like living in California or Texas or whatever where the seasons aren't as dramatic. Like, I just don't get it. [0:05:08.4]
Blaine: It's like summer and is it winter? Nope, summer again, you know?
Dan: I lived in Japan for a while and Japan they've got like a fall, they've got a beautiful fall. They've got a really beautiful winter and they've got spring and summer, but like between spring and summer they have like rainy season, which is like the humidity level is like 500% somehow, you know what I mean? It's just like humid and blazing hot and I was like, oh you guys slipped a little extra one in there and it's really unpleasant. You know, I think four is good. That's the right number. You hinted at this a little bit when you were talking about kind of how you go into real estate investing, but explain to people what your model is. [0:06:03.6]
Because you're saying you're not exactly kind of your run-of-the-mill real estate investor, so what's your current model for how you are running your business. Again, you know we said this before but you are at AwesomeCashBuyers.com, which is probably my favorite domain name of anybody we have had on the podcast. I absolutely love it because I say that everything is awesome the time, so what is the model that you guys are currently running? Like, how do you structure your deals?
Blaine: So, basically we concentrate mainly on the wholesale side where we work with investors. We target and we find sellers that are needing to sell properties, can't really list them on the market with a real estate agent, or if they did list them with an agent they would be selling to an investor any way. So, we cut the commission of the real estate agent out and basically hope that they just come directly to us, and then work with the investors in our area to then get those properties sold and out of the hands of those other individuals. [0:07:05.8]
Dan: Are you moving into that other side of that transaction?
Blaine: Yeah, absolutely. We want to and eventually I would love to be able to concentrate on renovation projects ourselves. You know, that's a big passion of mine and being able to see that kind of happen and for us to be the contractor, the renovator, and hold that as an investor that way we can keep a lot of stuff in-house, but right now basically we concentrate on the wholesaling aspect.
Dan: You know, it's funny man. I did really realize this before I started doing the podcast, but one of the fascinating things about doing these has been like really trying to dig into people's background and kind of see what makes certain investors successful. I've noticed like a lot of the most successful investors that I talked to have some kind of construction background, right? [0:07:59.8]
They have that background in the actually tangible fixing up of the place or the doing of the actual work, so I think that's like a big advantage that you have that I think a lot of investors don't, necessarily.
Blaine: Yeah, well the knowledge absolutely helped, especially when you're trying to get your renovating costs down and put it on the market to sell it and get it to an investor. You know, make it appealing for them and that way you're not constantly coming back on your contract with your seller and saying, "Hey, you know my renovation costs from the house we are go have to come down on our price that we discussed", and nobody wants to do that, so it's really important to get those numbers right, right off of the bat. [0:08:46.2]
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Dan: You know, you have something that is interesting kind of going on in your business that I want to talk about. I want to bring it up because I actually think a lot of people deal with this problem but it's not something that people really talk about and that's dealing with your area targeting when you're trying to get into marketing and you're doing pay click or you're doing SEO. So, you right now, you are investing, and we were talking about your target areas, kind of like where do you invest or where are you doing wholesaling deals, your target markets are you're doing Southwest Virginia and the Roanoke area of Virginia, but you're also in the Tri-City, Tennessee area. [0:10:01.2]
Can you break down for people kind of like how those areas are structured and what the challenges, because I think for a lot investors, you know, if you're like investing in Houston it's like, you get it, you're targeting Houston, right? It's like a city, that's your area, right? But for a lot of people who aren't in this kind of like super obvious major metro area, they end up covering a real wide kind of swatch of territory and it kind of makes things complicated, so can you break down kind of like your target markets for people and sort of like what the difficulties that you've had trying to figure out how to market those areas are?
Blaine: Yeah, absolutely. You're right. So, this is more one of the very I guess most awkward markets that I've even been placed when I sit back and actually at like, I love the area but you know I probably could have picked a better place. [0:11:02.3]
Because I come from San Antonio, right down in Texas, that area, or Austin. I just think like, oh if I was down there how much easier it would have been to tackle this challenge and it has been in my business a challenge to really wrangle in and tackle, but basically on the Tri-Cities, Tennessee side it consists of about 3 major city/towns which is Kingsport, Johnson City, and then Bristol, Tennessee, and there's a lot of intermediate little towns and things like that in between there, and then on the Virginia side there's actually Bristol is two cities, well it's one city on Virginia and Tennessee and the line runs right straight through it. So, there's a Bristol, Virginia as well and then a bunch of smaller little cities in between here and Roanoke. So, that's basically the gist of the major areas that we are kind of moving in and definitely targeting. [0:12:07.3]
Dan: So it's interesting. There's kind of like two things that we're trying to combine there, right? Because there's how people naturally talk about selling their homes in that area, right? Like whether I'm saying I need to sell my house in Abingdon or I need to sell my house in Bristol or whether they're saying I need to sell a house in the Tri-Cities, Tennessee area or however that natural language emerges, because we need to target that and parrot that back to potential sellers, but then there is also an understanding like how Google understands that area, right? Like how Google is matching you up with people that are searching and the way that natural language kind of filters through that Google search box. So, do you have a sense of like if someone is in the market and it's actually a lot of markets kind of all lumped together, how do they talk about it or how do they search for it? Do you have a sense of that? [0:13:12.2]
Blaine: That is why I hired Adwords Nerds. Yeah, absolutely to solve this equation. We'll get calls and I'll get hits on our website or I'll get hits and basically it was a shotgun method and see what hits first. But whenever I talk to people it's just constantly changing. You know, they'll say, "I'm from the Tri-State Tennessee, I'll call that person back and they are living in Bristol, Tennessee or well not really in Bristol because I'm in Jonesborough, you know, and it's right on the edge of Johnson City and I don't know if that's in Bristol or Johnson City or Jonesborough, you know. All of it merges together, so mainly we try to target the three main cities which are Bristol, Kingsport, and Johnson City, because usually when you're in city limits you know for a fact and then the Tri-Cities, Tennessee, so we have those four are our keys in the Tri-Cities and then on the Virginia side is Abingdon, which is a good small market, and then Roanoke so that's a lot. It's still a lot versus Houston. I mean you actually have to hit all of those. [0:14:27.0]
Dan: Yeah, I think it's really interesting man. You know, we can talk a little bit of like how we try to approach it because I think this is where the technical part of search engine optimization kind of really comes into play, right? Because in a lot of ways you kind of have to teach Google how certain phrases or terms are related to each other, and so a lot of times what we'll do is just like you said. We'll sort of pick the big kind of targets, so like the big cities in a given area, and we will build out pretty extensive regional pages for that, and I think in general what we see is that Google wants to return a page that has a strong regional focus much more than it wants to return a page that has a strong keyword focus. [0:15:16.7]
So what I mean by that is lets say you had a page that just is like "Sell my house in Bristol", okay, and like that's the keyword for that page. That page has a clear regional focus. You make the content all focused on the area. You know, you've got a lot of regional stuff there, right? You know, you got sell my house in there but it's really focused on the area specifically, and then you might have like a page that's like "Sell my house fast", right? Where it's like just purely focused on that keyword sell my house fast, not really like strong regional focus but you know your company is in a specific area. Well, Google is going to almost always preference that sell my house in Bristol page over the sell my house fast page, even if all they type in is sell my house. [0:16:04.8]
Like, it wants to add that regional layer, and so we have had a lot of success just trying to rank those regional pages and working that process. I think part of the benefit of it is so if you've got surrounding areas that are much smaller, of course you can target them with direct pages but we actually see that the smaller areas end up sending traffic to the bigger pages, right? So like if you're in a suburb of Houston, you know you often are going to end up seeing Houston centric pages if those pages are the best or what Google thinks is the best. So, I think for you it's you're doing in exactly the right way. Like you said, we're working together so it's like we're working on this with you, but you know having the smaller cities in there if we think the volume is going to be there and it's important to target it but also having that kind of parent page that's kind of like the broad area name, all those things work really well. [0:17:02.0]
I mean, I think you could obsess about it but I think Google is relatively smart and if we send the signal in the right way I think they're going to be able to match you up with people that fit the description of your target market. I mean, has that been the case? Like have you found it to generally be on point in terms of like when you talk to people they're basically in your target area?
Blaine: Oh yeah, absolutely. They are in the target area. We have been pretty successful in it and most of the feedback I would say probably comes from like you were saying more of an area like the Tri-Cities, Tennessee versus a singular Bristol, Kingsport, or Johnson City. We're starting to see that.
Dan: Yeah but you know what's interesting about you is you're saying this, so people in that area they actually use the term Tri-Cities, Tennessee? Like they say that about where they live? [0:18:00.2 ]
Because there are other things you could say like where I live in Connecticut, I used to live in Middlesex County, but no one in that area would ever type in sell my house in Middlesex County, right? They don't think at the county level in Connecticut. In your area people actually use that phrase, the Tri-Cities area? Like is that kind of how people think about it.
Blaine: Yeah. There's kind of a culture and here's another problem because there's a culture around that and then there's a culture that's distinctly because there's a real big battle as far as high schools and stuff like that from those three cities because they are so close and right there, so they give both worlds, I'm telling you. A crazy market. It's really difficult. Like I would love to just target Tri-Cities, Tennessee but then there's another side of individuals where they are just Johnson City, I'm from Johnson City or I am from Bristol and they stay there, you know? [0:19:01.1 ]
Or I'm from Kingsport and I’m only living in Kingsport and then you've got the latter where many refer to themselves as they have this high mind of I’m in the Tri-Cities, Tennessee and it's a group thing and I live in Tri-Cities.
Dan: It's like saying like I'm in the European Union versus like I'm from France.
Blaine: Yeah absolutely.
Dan: I wonder if you could run like Facebook Ads to like people that like that high school page or something like that and your ads would just be specifically like forget those other schools, they're lame. Like, sell your house to someone from this high school or something like that.
Blaine: That battle between them, yeah. That'd be good.
Dan: Well, you could do the classic. I mean, I don't think Facebook likes me to do this but you could do like for the Beavers and share for the Trojans or whatever, you know. That a bit freudian my choice of high school mascots, I don't know about that. [0:20:01.5]
You know, but really like drive it home just to get the engagement on the post is pretty funny. Yeah man it's really interesting. I think you really queued on really the critical thing which is you're targeting based on the culture on the area that you're in, right? And I think it's one of those things where there is no like blanket right way to do most things. It's always about where you are and the people around you and the culture that is specific to that market, and I think understanding that and kind of leaning into that is so critical because, you know, people don't respond to things that they don't understand or that they can't see reflected in themselves, do you know what I mean?
Blaine: Yeah, absolutely.
Dan: Well that's cool man. So what do you feel like is next for you? Like, what's this next year going to be like for Awesome Wholesaler, LLC? [0:20:56.3]
Blaine: So, this next year we have a lot of high expectations because I'm getting my agents license, my real estate license, not just for my company but for me in general, you know we expect to see growth exponentially because where usually we would have to refer out a lead if somebody was not interested in a cash offer or not really needing to sell their house right now, now I can funnel them in to another side which is hey, you know I'm agent and if you need to list your house versus sell it and get a maximum price that the area is going to allow. You know, we could go ahead and list it you don't need to sell right now, for the non-motivated sellers. So, you know, we're able to tackle that and bring all of that under our companies umbrella one way or another now. We really think that's going to be really good for us. Not only because it is a small market, so knowing and other individuals knowing that you can supply both of those needs or necessities is going to be a really big thing. [0:22:03.2]
Dan: Yeah that's awesome man. I mean, I think the whole idea of being able to profit of the leads that you used to have to throw away is so massive and opens up channels to you that other investors, other competitors can't tap into, you know? I often say this but it's like if you're running ads, even if all you do is cut your ad spend in half by getting a single listing a month or something like that, that's a massive advantage over everyone else that can't do that. I'm very excited for you. It sounds like you guys are really kind of on the cusp of something very cool.
Blaine: Well I appreciate that. Thank you.
Dan: Yeah man. Well, it's my pleasure. Hey, if people want to follow up with your or learn more about you and your company, where should they find you online?
Blaine: Definitely visit our website at www.AwesomeCashBuyers.com. You can get in line. I have a business number, a direct line, an e-mail directly on that website, and how to contact us and feel free to send me a call or an e-mail, either one, and we'll get back in touch with you. [0:23:16.7]
Dan: You guys should definitely do that. I mean, I think Blaine has done something really cool here and I like you're website a lot. Plus, you know, I've done some work on him so they should go and check out the amazing work that I've done. It was an absolute pleasure man. It was really great getting to know you a little bit. I wish you all the best. I think, like I said, you are really teeing yourself up to crush it this year and I'm very much looking forward to catching up and kind of seeing where you guys take it. Thanks so much for coming on the show.
Blaine: Yeah, I appreciate it. I think one of the main things that is going to set us off this year is hiring Adwords Nerds, you know, you guys and utilizing y'alls talent to help set us forward and rocket us into the future. [0:24:07.2]
Dan: Well, Blaine, your check is in the mail my friend. Thank you very much for saying that. Well, hey guys, definitely go check out the site. Again, that is at AwesomeCashBuyers.com. Blaine, thank you so much man. I'll talk to you soon.
Blaine: Alright, thanks Dan. Appreciate it.
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You’ve heard a ton about SEO and ranking on search engines to attract motivated seller leads. And if you’re like most people, it probably sounds tedious. No instant results, you have to create tons of content and one algorithm change can let your top 3 website rot on page 7. So, do you even need