Podcast

Episode #60: How an Australian Ex-Pat With No Real Estate Experience Went From 0 to 100 Deals In 5 Years, With Claudine Gauchat

Some investors have years of experience in the real estate industry before ever going out on their own. It’s no big surprise if their businesses take off quicker than others. 

But most investors have different backgrounds. If their businesses take off quickly without experience, they’re doing something right we should all learn from. 

One of those investors is Claudine Gauchat. She not only didn’t have experience as an investor–she’s not even from the U.S.!

In this episode, you’ll find out what helped her close 100 deals in just 5 years. Apply what she did and you might be the next investor going from 0 to 100 in just a few years!

Show highlights include: 

  • How Claudine decided it was time to take the leap into REI and compete in a competitive market. ([8:15])
  • The “rollercoaster” mindset Claudine uses to approach slumps and downturns in business. ([10:55])
  • The biggest challenge of operating in a booming market—and how to solve it. ([24:17])
  • Claudine’s summary of what’s working for marketing in a competitive market after 5 years. ([25:51])

To get the latest updates directly from Dan and discuss business with other real estate investors, join the REI marketing nerds Facebook group here: https://adwordsnerds.com/group

Need help with your online marketing? Jump on a FREE strategy session with our team. We’ll dive deep into your market and help you build a custom strategy for finding motivated seller leads online. Schedule for free here: https://adwordsnerds.com/strategy

Check out Claudine’s website here: https://www.austinallcash.com

Read Full Transcript

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, ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, children of all ages. Welcome to this week's REI Marketing Nerds podcast. As always, this is Daniel Barrett, here from AdWordsNerds.com. This week, I have a really fascinating conversation for you. I think you're really going to dig this one. Now if you're not familiar, I am talking to Claudine Gauchat. [0:01:02.2]

Now, Claudine and her husband run the company, Austin All Cash Home Buyers. They have an incredible story. Claudine and Dom literally moved to the United States from Australia with no real estate investing knowledge whatsoever and in five years, almost to the day, they have done over 100 flips. This is a really amazing story and Claudine has a really, really interesting take on how you make those big decisions, how you get started in real estate, what makes them good at investing when so many other people struggle in their market. So this is a really amazing, fun, high quality conversation. Without any further ado, let's go over to my conversation with Claudine Gauchat.
Alright. I am here with Claudine Gauchat. Wait, Gauchat - did I pronounce that right? [0:02:02.1]

Claudine: Remember go, shut the door without the T.

Dan: Shut the door without the T. Alright. Gauchat. So we literally talked about that before I hit the record button, like a minute and a half ago, and then I, the second I open my mouth, I was like super paranoid. So in any case, for the people that are listening, I am here with
Claudine Gauchat. She is here from Austin All Cash Home Buyers. You can find them at AustinAllCash.com. Claudine, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for coming on.

Claudine: Thanks, Dan. Thanks so much for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Dan: Yeah. I am definitely excited to have you. I have to say that …so, I scheduled the podcast and everything and Patty from my team was reaching out to me and I said, oh, you know, I have to go… I'm going to go do the podcast with Claudine in a minute, and she said, oh great - I love her. So that's the word on the street so far, so I'm very excited to do this call. Why don’t we kind of start the way we typically do, which is what got you into real estate investing? [0:03:06.7]

What was your kind of entry into this weird industry? We were talking about this a little bit before, and I know you guys have kind of a pretty significant story about how you started this business. So what got you into real estate investing?

Claudine: Yeah. So, we have been it for five years in Austin. So prior to us coming here, so I want to say it was about six-ish years ago and my firstborn child, Sienna, so she was 6 months old. I was on maternity leave. As you can tell from my accent, I'm not Austin born and bred. I'm from Sydney, Australia and …

Dan: I thought that was a Texan accent. So…

Claudine: Really?

Dan: No, I'm kidding. No.

Claudine: Well, it's definitely a Southern accent, but a little further south. So yeah. So we're from Sydney, Australia and both my husband and I are business owners of Austin All Cash Home Buyers. When we both had corporate jobs back in Australia and I was on maternity leave with my firstborn. I thought it would be a good idea to come and visit my brother, Jeremy Heath, who lives in San Antonio with his wife. [0:04:11.8]

So we came across just for a visit. It was around Thanksgiving time, I remember, and we saw what my brother was up to because he's been doing house flipping…gosh, if we have been doing it five years, he's been doing it at least 10, so longer than us. We saw him make the transition. He used to work in management consulting. So we saw him make the transition from management consulting into real estate. We saw what he was creating and it seemed excited, amazing. You know, Jeremy himself, he's always been… he's my big brother. He's always been a source of motivation, inspiration and it was exciting to see, you know, his plans and what he was doing within his business in San Antonio. He was hinting about taking the business into Austin and all the opportunities in Austin. Then at the same time, while he was talking about this, my husband starts, you know, whispering in my ear, well maybe we could be the ones that you know, bring it into Austin. [0:05:03.4]

Then at the same time, kind of organically, my brother is like, well maybe you guys bring the business into Austin. And it was a pretty wild idea at the time because we knew nothing about real estate, Austin, living on the other side of the world. We were definitely both excited by the idea of I guess that adventure. So when my husband mentioned it, I was yeah, let's do it. And then very quickly, we got a crash course in real estate through my brother. We signed up with his coaching/mentor and started working with him as well and then I think within a year of that trip, we arrived in Austin, Texas around about a year kind of to the day actually from making that decision where you know, we quit our jobs back at home, tied up all the loose ends, sold any valuables, brought a couple of bags of valuables and our child, of course. Then just arrived, hoping it would work out, but at the very least knowing that we'd have an adventure and be challenged, that's for sure. [0:06:03.9]

So we arrived and then, you know, within a month, found a place to live in Austin, Texas. Again, got more help and guidance from Jeremy and his wife on what to do. Continued working with his mentor as an additional support, and then hit the ground running and have been our own bosses ever since that day. Now it's been…it was actually five years last weekend since we arrived in America. We're at about…we are predominantly flippers, so we have bought and mostly flipped and then sold over 100 houses since then. So you know, there's a lot of real estate investors that are doing 100 a year and all of that, but we're still pretty proud of the results, especially considering that we knew nothing about real estate we have come across with you know, and just built it all from scratch with a lot of help from my brother, of course, and coaches and mentors along the way. Yeah. So that's kind of our story. [0:07:07.4]

Dan: Yeah. That's, I mean, really super amazing and you know, Austin - no cake walk of market either. It's not like you went to the middle of nowhere and you guys were the only investors. So that's really, really impressive. I have a whole bunch of questions about this. My first question, because I think a lot of investors, the big kind of question or inflection point for people is often the decision to quit their job and do investing full time. Right? Like maybe they've done a couple of wholesales, maybe they've flipped a house or two, and they're trying to decide whether to make that jump. You guys had the additional layer of you're moving your whole life to a different country. Right? So to me, it just seems like man, like it's such a high…I guess it's like, you know, it's not like do or die sort of situation where if it didn't go well, it would be the end of everything but it's a very high stakes decision. So how did you go through making that decision and what was on your mind and what ended up pointing you guys towards taking this opportunity and making that move? [0:08:24.7]

Claudine: Well, for us, deciding to do it was actually always a really easy decision. It was not something that I had thought of. It was my husband's idea and from the moment that he suggested it, it just made sense. I was like, yeah. We both just thought why not. So and you know we have always loved the idea of, as much as we love Australia, you know, an adventure and living somewhere else in the world. I've always been drawn to America and all the opportunities that exist there. So we were excited, not only about the idea of working within this industry, but also the idea of living in America and seeing what opportunities we could create there. [0:09:08.2]

So it was a yes, without hesitation, from the beginning. Then when we got back home, it was a yes and then it was like, can we really, can this really happen because we still needed to sort out visas and all of that. There's a whole bunch of administrative stuff that needs to happen, and then we just kept going through the motions, you know. We did the crash course in real estate that my brother recommended. We did that. We got our visas sorted, you know, and then just one by one, we gave our resignation and we just kept going through the motions until we arrived here on a plane with a couple of bags. We were excited and didn't really know what to expect as well. The thing, I guess for us, because you mentioned what do people, they might have their job and they do real estate on the side and for us, we just, you know, the saying for us, kind of that saying of you know you burned the bridge. [0:10:01.4]

So of course, if everything failed and we didn't achieve any results, then we have got a great country to go back to and we still had our corporate history, so we could get jobs again. We have got a great country. We have got our friends and family. So that's nice, you know, it was not like, oh my gosh, it's a, as you say, like it's not do or die. It's hey if it doesn’t work out, then we have got a great place to go back to. But, from day one, we didn't have a lot of security and there was a lot of uncertainty. That's the biggest struggle coming from a new country without your support network of family and friends, the usual of that, and then running a business and all the uncertainty that comes with that. Embracing that is a continual challenge, you know, as you go through the rollercoaster ups and downs, but it's something that is highly satisfying when you go through it as well. Then once you get used to the rollercoaster, you begin to recognize when it's a downward dip, oh okay - it's a downward dip now, but there's another.. we're going to be going up soon - just hang in there - hang on tight and we'll get there. [0:11:08.1]

So yeah, so to answer your question, like it's always been…it was an easy decision coming here, and then we just kept on putting one foot in front of the other and taking the actions to get here and to start here and then just kept going. Any time that we have had challenges along the way, it's great that we have had my brother as continued mentor who anything that we were experiencing for the first time, he had experienced before you know, so it was like, oh well, what about this - oh, well, what about that. He had that experience, so that was really good. Certainly, we wouldn't have made the decision without my brother. That was, although we had a whole bunch of uncertainty, he was kind of the only sense of security that we had because we knew that he had gotten results. We knew that we was there to help us in any way that he could, and so we were like okay, just … you know, I remember his mentor said to us when we first arrived here, and he was now our mentor because we had also started working with him, he was like, look guys, it's simple - you've got the recipe and the method to bake a cake. [0:12:19.3]

Just bake the cake. Don’t over think it. Don’t do anything different. Just bake the cake. So we were like, alright, alright. Because you can really get lost in over thinking, like in life in general, let alone with real estate where there's all different perspectives, you know, what do I do for marketing, what do I do for this, you know, and especially when you're getting started and everything is new, it's easy to think that you might know better than the recommendation that you've been given. So that was really helpful in getting us started, to just go okay, don’t over think it - just do, just do, just do. Then we just… we just got doing because we came over here with our life savings that we had and before you get your first deal and you're investing in the car, the place to live and all that, it's dipping - it's like, alright - we have got to get this deal. Then you get the deal and it's like, alright, relax. The formula works. [0:13:15.1] We can bake a cake. So then let's just keep baking the cake and see where this goes.

Dan: I mean I think, you know to pull out two things from there that really jumped out at me - I think for one, you talked about the importance of having a mentor, you know, both your actual mentor that you worked with and then also Jeremy Heath, who I also know is a super smart investor, and you had people that you knew and trusted that you could look at say like you know, just like you said, what is the recipe. Right? I want to bake a cake, you know, how many eggs or whatever and someone can tell you. Then the other thing was that you… I think you pointed out that even though it sounds so dramatic to quit your job and move literally like halfway around the world. [0:14:03.0]

You also were like, well look, if it doesn’t work out, we're not going to die. Right? We can always back. We can always come back to and get another job. I think in our heads, we make the potential downside so dramatic and we miss out. There's a huge opportunity cost to not taking that chance and passing on that opportunity just because we're afraid, where you know, maybe the worst case scenario isn't as bad as it might seem. Something else that you mentioned that I'm kind of curious about. You mentioned that you have a corporate background. I think you also said that Jeremy had a corporate kind of consulting background. I'm curious - do you think your corporate kind of world training helps you in running the business today? Like what of that kind of past set of skills were you able to bring over and apply to what you're doing today? [0:14:58.6]

Claudine: Yes, and I think that definitely our backgrounds, both my husband and my backgrounds definitely helped us within the business. So for me, I was in marketing, so you know, I did a Bachelor of Business degree, majoring in marketing and worked for a big teleco, worked on their marketing back at home and for my husband, he worked in media. He had background in project management as well and some sales. So we pretty quickly one of the first things that we needed to do as husband and wife running the business was delineate the roles and with my background in marketing, it made sense for me to take on marketing as well as looking out for the investors, the financial side, the administration and all of that, and for him, with his background, which covered media project management and sales, it made sense for him to cover the sales aspect and also the project management. So definitely our prior life experience helped us and it also helped us in how to run the business and stay in the disciplines we needed because for me, working corporate side, having a corporate job and working in marketing, you know, worked big clients that had big budgets, but there were also a lot of procedures, a lot of stake holders and all of that, so there was a lot of discipline that was learned within those roles that you are then able to apply to your own business, you know. [0:16:24.3]

So, it definitely all, it all helped. Our prior background definitely helped and then for my husband, you know, his project management skills was perfect for him and what he does and he manages the general contractors and the whole flip side. So he was perfectly placed for that and then his experience on client side of the sales, you know, made him perfectly placed also to lead the sales side and be the one that meets the clients and buys the houses and all of that.
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Dan: Yeah. So I mean it sounds like you guys had a real natural kind of division of roles. I mean, but you weren’t working together before this. Right? So you know, I'm also curious about husband and wife teams. My wife recently started doing some work for me, kind of. She sort of took over kind of administrative assistant tasks was her role. Right? That I had sort of like an assistant and she wasn’t doing so great, so I let her go. My wife kind of stepped into that role. She gets paid the same and all that stuff. But you know, I've always said, you know, do you like this, would you ever want to be a bigger part of the business, and she's always like, absolutely not. [0:18:03.6]

I would rather die. Just I don’t want to work with you. Just not into it. Right? But I'm also curious, like what was it like transitioning to working together? Did that just feel like totally easy and you guys are like just very complimentary naturally or did you have to like really sit down and hash it out? What was that process like?

Claudine: It's extremely tough. I wouldn’t recommend it to a lot of married couples. I think, you know, if you chat to anybody that's worked as a husband and wife, it's challenging because you've got, you know, Dom and I, we have got very different styles. We have got very different ways of communicating, but in the end, the end product of both of our contributions really works, but it can be challenging getting there, definitely. So it's challenging and one of the most important things is the clear delineation of roles because if you're really clear on who has what responsibility and who makes the final, who has the final say, then you can stay out of each other's hair for the most part and let them and kind of back down. [0:19:13.3]

Whereas if you don’t have that, then it just, it's too easy to step on each other's toes and well who's making the decision here - who's making the decision here and you know, we have both got, it's both our business. We're both heavily invested and we both have very strong opinions about the right way to do things, so without that delineation of roles, it's a challenge and even with that delineation of roles, there's still challenging times and I think the key is, you know, especially when it's husband and wife, you just can't take things personally and you need to also have that separation, you know, especially if also you're husband and wife and you choose to work from home like we do, then it's really important to go, okay, well this is the cut off time. Otherwise, your business just flows into your family life, especially when you're doing real estate investing, which is kind of like, can easily be 24 hours, you know, 7 days a week, having that clear, okay, this is family time, this is business time or if something comes up around dinner time, you know, we're just going, we're going to pause that until you know, for later so that it doesn’t overflow and your family life doesn’t become about the business, you know, especially with young children. [0:20:20.4]

Dan: Oh, for sure. And it strikes me as you know, it's already difficult enough with one person business to turn that off. I can imagine if the other person is also in that situation, right - it's very easy for that to kind of expand, so I really admire how you guys kind of like fight to keep that time because it is - it's so critical. You let that go and it ends up affecting the business and it kind of all goes back and forth. So I think that's really, really kind of useful advice. Let me ask you about … so we talked about this before. And so by the way, so people who are listening to this, you know, the investors that are listening to this know that primarily I talk about online marketing. I highly suggest that everybody that is listening to this, go check out the AustinAllCash.com website. [0:21:10.3]

So it's at AustinAllCash.com. No spaces or hyphens or weird things in there - AustinAllCash.com. I think you guys have done a really fantastic job on your website. I think it's great. The copywriting is great. The photos you guys have of you are like really high quality. They're really, really welcoming. You guys have done a really great job of this thing I talk about a lot, which is personalizing your website so that people can form an attachment to you, kind of get a sense of who they're going to call, a sense of who they're going to talk to, a sense of what the experience is going to be. I think you guys have done an awesome job. So definitely go check that out.

Claudine: Thank you.

Dan: If you're listening to this in the car, wait until you park the car and then do it, but otherwise, go check it out. So you guys invest in… you're in the Austin area, but you said you were telling me you go as far south as Kyle and then as far north as Georgetown, so I think that's…is that a relatively big area? I mean, everything in Texas is big, so… but you tell me, like in your scale, is that like a really large target market? Is it relatively focused? [0:22:17.5]

Claudine: Yeah. I mean, the focus is still within Travis county, you know, the Austin area, but we will go a little bit beyond them, especially as it gets more competitive. Then you know, you're going to likely find better deals around the supporting areas of Austin general. So it's a large competitive market within that space. Georgetown … we'll go as far as Georgetown. Have we purchased in Georgetown? Probably, even though we would purchase there and we have made offers there, we probably purchased as far as Taylor, which is just a little bit lower down, and then we have bought in Kyle. We have bought in Leander as well, a handful there. They have great opportunities as well. Our preference is south Austin. We really like that area. That's also where we're located. There's just, you know, it's appreciating very quickly as the rest of Austin is as well, but you're still able to find some good deals and it's also back yard, so we really like the proximity, you know. [0:23:22.3]

Okay, we're in a good area. We like this area and yeah, oftentimes, we said, alright, we're just going to focus in on this area, focus in on this area, what can we do to just focus in on this area? Having said that, our marketing is still quite broad. We haven't specifically focused on that area. We're focused on, you know, Austin and surrounding areas.
Dan: So yeah, and I think you mentioned Austin appreciating very quickly and that's been the case for more than a while now and having been to Austin a couple of times recently, I was really kind of shocked by the amount of construction and there's just really kind of booming market. [0:24:01.1]

So what have been the challenges that you guys have faced in that kind of market and you know, how do you address that? Do you address that with marketing? Do you address that with how you try to sell or differentiate yourself? You know, how have you guys dealt with that?

Claudine: Well, I guess from day one, our focus has always been and still continues to be how do we get more leads, how do we get more leads because without the leads, you are not buying and you don’t have a business. So you know, in a market like Austin on the flip side, when you go to sell it, no pun intended, when you go to sell it, it's generally a piece of cake because it's such a hot market. So the challenge is always on the buying side. So then how, you know, the past five years, basically we have just tried different marketing. So at the beginning when we had the recipe for the cake, we just literally adopted what my brother recommended and what his mentor recommended and back then, we were doing primarily radio. We were also doing foreclosures, you know, a lot of new investors in Austin will start with the foreclosures. [0:25:04.3]

We were literally going around and knocking on doors, my husband and I. That's how we got our first house, actually, by door knocking the foreclosure list in Austin, my husband and I. Then, so foreclosures, radio…what else did we do in the beginning - I think that was the main thing that got us started, and then from when we started to then, we have tried different marketing in order to get the return on investment that we have wanted and in order to generate leads. So since then, we have done a whole bunch of, tried a whole bunch of different marketing, PPC, SEO, post it notes, direct marketing - they're the main channels that we have tried and played around with and then, what we have found lately is just, okay, well now that we have been doing it for five years and we have enough, we can see the results of what's working and what's not, let's just, let's stick to something for a while and so right now, our focus has been on direct marketing and also online. [0:25:59.4]

So obviously, working with AdWords Nerds and looking at, you know, our website that you mentioned earlier and what we're facing right now as far as competition is, which wasn’t there five years ago when we came, OpenDoor, Zillow offers is coming soon and all of that. So you know, the feedback that we're getting from some of the people that Dom is making offers to is, oh, you know, I've gone with OpenDoor because they had a higher offer. So that's why when you mentioned the website before, what we always try to emphasize for us, because it is a husband and wife team, that we are local, you know, it's husband and wife, it's a family business, and we really, we don’t, we did a little bit of wholesaling, but not a lot. We primarily still do flipping mostly and really because how we want to be is we want to position ourselves in conjunction to the rest of the competition as local, family owned, and also trustworthy, reliable, genuine. So, if we arrived here, I'm going to give you an offer and then we're the ones that are going to buy it, you know. We're not going to come through next week with 20 other buyers. [0:27:01.5]

We're not going to do the horse and pony show with all the showings, you know. It's us. It starts and ends with us. So that's how, I guess, from you know, the since we got here until now, it's how we have been able to kind of still get deals. It's really insuring that we are, we do promote that and then when they have the experience with Dom, that from beginning to end, we genuinely do really care and you know, sometimes Dom is on the phone for an hour also with somebody that's not going to sell their house, but he's able to help by giving them some helpful advice. You know, it's not a deal for us, but he'll help them and he'll give them that advice. So I think when you can genuinely offer some service and it's not always about the deal, the deal, the deal and just always do the right thing, then for us, that's paid off, you know. We haven't always been the highest offer, but people have wanted to work with us, you know. [0:28:02.2]

They've said to us before, you know - you're not the highest, but you know, I trust you, like I want to work with you. And that's another thing that we really value is obviously, you know, talking about online is the reviews. Reviews are very important, especially in a competitive market, you know, it helps obviously with the search rankings, you know, the more reviews that you get, but it also helps other customers obviously get a feel for how trustworthy you are, and that's another thing that some clients have said - oh, you know, I called you because I saw all of your reviews and all of that. So I think, yeah, just staying true to what are your values within the business and what do you stand for and then staying true to that and making sure that that's portrayed.

Dan: Yeah, I think that's …what you're getting at is, you know, something that I've heard really high level investors talking about more and more, which is the sense of, you know, these big kind of eye buyer companies - they're able to spend a lot of money. They don’t really care, you know, if they make much money at the beginning, but what local investors have is the ability to go with an integrity play. Right? [0:29:09.8]

To this idea of saying, okay, we're a part of the community. You're going to know, like and trust us. We're going to become a brand that you know and you want to work with over, you know, for more than just financial reasons, and I think you guys have done a really good job of that. Just like you said, with the website, with the reviews. I highly recommend, again, that everybody listening to this go check out AustinAllCash.com. Click around the site. There's a link there to their Google My Business profile where you can go see some of the reviews that they have. You guys have done a great, great job with that. You know, if people want to find you online, is AustinAllCash.com the best place to go?

Claudine: Yeah.

Dan: Alright. So again, everybody go check that out. Go see what Claudine and Dom have done because they're just killing it and like I said, the fact that you guys, you know, moved here from Australia and in five years have accomplished so much with no previous background in real estate is totally mind blowing. So I really, really thank you for coming on the show. It's been awesome. [0:30:11.6]

Claudine: Awesome. Well thank you so much. It was great chatting with you.

Dan: Yeah, thank you.

That is going to do it for this week. As always, thank you so much for listening to the REI Marketing Nerds podcast. It would mean the world to me if you could go into your podcast player of choice, leave us a review. Leave us a thumbs up. Subscribe. Whatever you can do to show support for the show, it means the world to me because that helps me reach more people and I am out to help as many real estate investors as possible, and speaking of helping real estate investors, if you are not a member of our Facebook group, you should get in the group. It's totally free. It's called the REI Marketing Nerds Facebook group. You can get there by going to AdWordsNerds.com/group. That's AdWordsNerds.com/group, or just go on to Facebook and type in REI Marketing Nerds, and you'll find us. So as always, I hope you have an awesome rest of your week. I will talk to you next week with another episode of the REI Marketing Nerds podcast. Cheers, everybody.

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