In this changing real estate environment, relationships become more and more important. If you’re not equipped to put sellers first and become someone leads know, like and trust, you’ll have a hard time.
Investors who advertise to anyone and use extortion style sales tactics? iBuyer companies are going to swallow them whole.
If you want to do the opposite, listen to this episode. Today’s guest Anthony Kusky is a relationship-driven investor–the exact kind which survives in the real estate market of the future.
Ready to join the investors who survive and thrive in the changing business world? Listen now!
Show highlights include:
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Find out more about Anthony here:
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 AdWords 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: Hello. Welcome. This is Daniel Barrett here from AdWordsNerds.com and this is the REI Marketing Nerds Podcast. Happy to have you back. Welcome back. It is another week. I hope you are having an amazing week out there, getting leads, getting deals.
This week I am interviewing Anthony Kusky now. Anthony runs a company called Sky Equities, LLC. They're down in the Central Florida kind of region and their website is “Sell As Is Now,” SellAsIsNow.com. [01:12.4]
Now, I want to throw that out there because, over the last couple of podcasts episodes, I've been talking a lot about the shift, and specifically this is the shift from a direct-response oriented industry in real estate investing towards a more relationship-based industry, and I spent three whole episodes building my case for why I think that is and what I think you can do about it.
I didn't plan it this way, but basically my interview with Anthony essentially laid out everything that I have been talking about when talking about what real estate investors can do to adapt to our new—or sort of new and improved, if you want to call it that—marketplace. Everything that I talked about, Anthony is doing it. In fact, he's not really doing it. He’s doing it incredibly well. He is the quintessential example of a real estate investor that puts sellers first and focuses on building long-term relationships. This is the perfect chaser to those last three episodes. [02:09.7]
So, first of all, if you haven't heard the last three episodes I did on the shift, go back and check those out. Especially if you're a real estate investor, they are going to be really, really, I hope, eye-opening for you. And this interview, if you have heard those episodes, is going to really put an exclamation point on what I've been talking about and show you a real-world example of how you can make that work in your real estate investing business.
Without any further ado, let's get into my interview with Anthony Kusky from Sky Equities, LLC.
Dan: Hello everybody. This is Daniel Barrett and I am here with Anthony Kusky. Anthony, how are you, man? What's going on?
Anthony: I'm doing great, Dan. How are you, sir?
Dan: I am doing super, super well. Thank you for asking. Actually, that's fake. I was talking to you literally before we recorded and I was saying I'm kind of a garbage fire today, and I'm not going to pretend that that's not true. Everyone has off days, but I am feeling good just by my sort of goofiness today. [03:08.0]
So, for people who aren't familiar with Anthony, you are here from Sky Equities, LLC. You can check out their website which is at SellAsIsNow.com. And you guys are buying homes kind of in the Orlando, Central Florida area. You were saying that part of your area is called the Space Coast, which is certainly like the East Coast of Florida, Brevard County.
Let's actually start there because we were going back and forth about the different areas of Florida. I'm not super, super familiar with Florida, but my impression of it is that it's an extremely active real estate investing market. Can you just break down for me how you got started in Florida? Are you from Florida? And when you are in this market that there's so much opportunity and so much competition in, how did you think through figuring out where to invest and where you wanted to operate your business? [04:11.8]
Anthony: That's a good question. I'm going to start with the easy one. Originally, I'm from upstate New York, Albany, New York. Moved down to Florida down in 1994, and so, I was 20 going on 21, so quite a while ago. Obviously, you can guess my age now.
And I had a friend that I grew up with. Every year, he invited me to move down, and I was done with college and working for my dad, and decided Upstate New York wasn't really where I wanted to stay and I wanted some warmer weather.
And so, I loaded up the car, the cat and the jet ski, and headed on down. Jumping forward quite a bit, I started in real estate investing in 2000 … trying to think now, ’94 … 2004. [05:00.8]
The market was kind of crazy then. Had a good friend that was in the investing business and buying houses, and helping out some sellers that needed to sell quickly, and really intrigued me. And so, that's kind of what first got me into the market.
Dan: It's so interesting to me. So, you got into the market during the crazy times.
Dan: You are still in the market now. You had quite a dip there at some point, which I definitely want to come back to because I think that that's always interesting for people.
I want to ask you, though, as a New Englander myself—I'm in Connecticut. I've been to Albany many times. Albany to Florida is quite the change—was there a pretty massive culture shock, moving to Florida from the upper, the sort of the Northeast there? Was it just like, Nah, it's pretty much the same everywhere you go?
Anthony: I thought I was living the life because, when I moved from Upstate New York and went to school in Buffalo, down to Orlando, Florida, which is obviously the center of Florida here, I started working. [06:10.2]
One of the places I started working was a nightclub, and so it was new, and up and coming. And I’d come from working for my father in his bowling business and doing different things. Yes, yes.
Dan: That’s awesome.
Anthony: Yeah, I'll give you a conversational piece to add, the people to get to know me. I had a degree in bowling management.
Dan: What? An actual school degree from …?
Anthony: Yeah, like dean's list, associate's degree in bowling management.
Dan: Wow, that's amazing. Okay, now I just want to talk about bowling management. So, bowling management, and, okay, to everyone listening to this, I promise I will go back to real estate immediately after this. Okay? I promise. But bowling management, so when you're starting bowling management, is it mostly running the business or is it like you're the physics of keeping the game honest, or what are the [functions]? [07:08.5]
Anthony: It's business. It's running the business. So, a 30-second background. My grandfather, in the ’50s and ’60s, owned a bunch of bowling centers on Long Island. My dad and uncle were in the business in Upstate New York. I grew up in it. Hence, kind of where there are two schools in the country that had that program, and so, I went to one of them that was close.
Yeah, it's actually business, business law, accounting, marketing, business management, different things like that. But then, you actually go to the bowling center on some classes, and one class was in a bowling center in Buffalo and we would meet in the bar, have a class with the owner and he'd smoke a cigarette while he was teaching us the class, and halfway through would say, Hey, go bowl.
Anthony: Yeah. But, no, it was a lot of the business, so business, all your marketing, all your operations management, effective ways to run a business, and so, you did have that. Of course, just like underwater basket-weaving, you had some blow off stuff in there, but it was definitely beneficial. It taught me. [08:12.3]
Dan: Yeah, you must have learned so much because it's not like a business. If you think about most MBA programs where it's kind of highfalutin and a lot of theory, it strikes me as that would be incredibly practical because there's no way to escape the practical application, because it's so specific. You know what I mean?
Anthony: Right. It was beneficial, for sure, and if anything, it has become a great conversation piece over the last 20 years, so it definitely taught me. I was raised in business. That's kind of my nature. It taught me some more specifics into it and it was something.
Dan: Right. Cool, man. Hey, if this real estate thing doesn’t pan out, you have a fallback position and it's good to know.
Let's bring it back into Florida. So you're transitioning down to Florida. You aren't working. You go from Albany and then Buffalo, which are both, don't get me wrong, beautiful, wonderful places, but you move from there to Orlando and you're working in a nightclub as a 22-year-old or 23-year-old or something like that. [09:17.9]
Anthony: Yeah, 21-year-old.
Dan: That sounds pretty wild, man, I’ve got to say.
Anthony: Yeah, so living the life and a friend of mine would work these strange hours and different things like that, and kind of say he did this real estate investment. I was curious as to what he did. And so, after a little bit of time, I decided to go [work with him]. He worked for another company at that time, helping sellers, helping the company purchase properties, and so, I went to work with him.
I came to realize the first week I started working there and started training that it wasn't that he worked weird hours. It was just that he didn't really work a lot. Yeah, it wasn’t that. It was just the strange hours. It was that he wasn't as motivated as I would have hoped. [10:07.1]
But, yeah, I started with another company back in ’04, where they taught me how to analyze properties and run numbers, so we could make sure we're giving sellers the best offers we could and things like that. And then, in 2006, I had the opportunity to open my own region for them over in Brevard County and was getting set to do that. And, of course, the market started to slow. It started to change a little bit, and the company that I was expanding with decided not to go ahead and proceed with the office and Brevard County, and that's when I decided to go out on my own and open Sky Equities.
Dan: You opened Sky Equities. What year was that?
Anthony: It was February 2007, the timing.
Dan: Wow. Okay, so for people who are new to real estate, 2007 to 2008, it was not the greatest time in the history of the market. And you had just started your own business. [11:10.8]
So, what was that experience like? Were you freaking out or was there enough business that you …? I almost wonder if you almost didn't know any better because that was your first time striking out on your own. What was that like?
Anthony: For me, there wasn't another option, because I had a family member working for me and another girl working for me, and at the end of 2007, we wound up closing the office to cut overhead and I started working from home, but doing the same exact thing. And, for me, it just wasn't an option of saying, Hey, we can't continue this. It was, What do we need to do to be able to continue to buy houses? How can we help sellers out? And, during time, obviously, there were a lot of foreclosures and things like that.
So, it was mostly dealing with banks and not as much with private sellers, but it was more buying properties for us that we would just be able to hold long-term. And so, instead of what we do now, which would maybe renovate and then some we would hold long-term, that was strictly stuff that would be able to be held long-term. [12:15.4]
And we just kind of changed the strategy. With every different market, things change and you just learn to adapt to it. I have such a love for being able to help people out, to be able to make houses beautiful, to be able to just be in this business and share any knowledge and guidance with people. There has really never been an option to me to say, Hey, this is too hard. I need to quit. It's, Hey, what can I do to help people out? Hey, short sales. All right, what do I need to do to learn those to help people because I don't know what to do with short sales? So, I went out and learned how to do them.
Dan: It's interesting. I've felt the same thing, I think much less intense than you probably went through, because I don't have the equivalent of that kind of market floor dropout that you’ve had, but I think the whole forcing function of, hey, you're getting started in this business and it’s difficult. Things are very stressful and they're trying, but you have people that depend on you and you need to make it work, so that those people are going to be okay. [13:19.2]
Man, it's such a powerful motivator. I always say kids are super expensive and getting married was expensive, but I probably quintupled my income when I did those things because I was like, Oh, now I have to actually work. Right? Before I was like, I don't need to work that hard in order to cover everything that I need, but, man, it's very different when you have people kind of depending on you.
Anthony: Oh yeah. And I also had a child, a young man coming up on one year old in May 2007. In May 2006, he was born, so he was coming up on a year old, so there really wasn't an option for me. You go out and figure out how to make things work. [14:08.7]
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Dan: Let's talk about the business today because you are still [in it]. I mean, man, that market, that Orlando market hasn't got any less competitive by any stretch of the imagination. And I think you've done a really good job of carving out a place for yourself. When you look out at the market today, do you think about how you've been through a couple of really interesting kind of epochs? [15:04.8]
You were there during the pre-bust time. You were there during the dropout of the market and you've been here during this whole—I don't know even what you want to call it—the emergence of real estate investing 2.0 or whenever with the entrance of Zillow instant offers and the iBuyers, and a lot of hedge funds in the space.
When you look at your market right now, this Orlando, Central Florida market, and you were talking about Kissimmee and Brevard County, what do you think characterizes the market that we're in right now? What strikes you as different from, let's say, five or six years ago?
Anthony: Obviously, as you said, competition has really increased. There are lots of new investors, of course, the TV shows that have come out, and we have several friends that are on flipping shows and I've been approached by them as well. But it's just the competition has changed to where, I guess, the best way to put it is inexperienced or newer investors are competing with us on properties. [16:08.5]
They're willing to push the numbers to a point where it's a dangerous situation for them, and it hurts companies like ours that have been around, that are experienced, that know that if we make an offer, we're able to close and stick with it. We get a lot of the new investors that are coming out and making offers on properties, and then they're not able to go through to the sale of the property because they realize it just doesn't work for them.
And so, it's hurting sellers and that aspect of it. And, for us, it's just we've been doing it so long and we're rated well, and we're a licensed brokerage and all that stuff, that we just kind of keep pushing through on treating people right and doing the right thing, and be able to follow through on what we say we do. But it's just highly competitive. It takes a lot more time, a lot more effort and a lot more marketing to be able to help the amount of people that we need to help to, of course, keep the doors open. [17:05.8]
Dan: Yeah, you make a really interesting point, which I hadn't even thought of. But I was talking recently about this kind of influx of new investors into the marketplace and kind of why that is, and I definitely think the HGTVs and all of that stuff have a huge part to play.
I mean, also just the fact that, before, if you wanted to learn about real estate investing, you had to buy a 20-cassette booklet from Ron LeGrand or whoever you bought it from and it was a lot harder to come by, right? It was like less people doing it. It was just harder to even know that it was a thing. Now you can just go on YouTube and get basically an entire course on how to get started, so it's just the reach is so much bigger.
But I was talking about, obviously, the effect that has on offers and the pricing of marketing. The thing I forgot to even think about is, of course, just you're saying, a lot of newer investors make these really wacky offers, but they don't have the experience to really properly valuate a property or figure out how a deal is going to go, and they put the seller kind of on the hook. And then, that new investor realizes they can't actually close that deal and that they can’t actually follow through on them. [18:15.7]
What ends up happening is the seller loses that time and the industry in general comes across with a real kind of black eye because that person doesn't go away thinking, Wow, this investor really wasn't educated. They go away saying, Real estate investors are scammers. Right?
Dan: So, that's a really excellent point and I hadn't really thought about that.
Anthony: An interesting point onto that is we actually are currently in contract to purchase a pre-foreclosure and another investor came in, I guess, about a year ago, contracted it as a lease option, and without getting into lots of detail, basically didn't follow through. And the seller sent me the agreement that they signed with this gentleman a little over a year and a half ago. I looked the gentlemen up. He was rated one-star by multiple people and not very good reviews. [19:04.9]
It came from the seller trusting him to do the right thing, and the gentleman, from what I can tell—I have only one side of the story, but can't get a hold of him—seems to have taken advantage of the seller. And so, we're going to come in and we're going to purchase the property, and help with figuring out who's actually in the property, because it looks there may have been an eviction and all this stuff. But it was just someone not doing the right thing.
And so, I always tell people the research, say, Hey, research my name and research our company. Yo, we've been doing this for a long time. We've bought and sold over a thousand houses. You will not find one thing negative and we pride ourselves on that. We may not always be the highest offer, but I guarantee if we say that we're going through on a property, then we're going to go through on it.
Dan: Yeah, it's funny, man. I was just writing about this the other day, but there's this kind of aphorism called Hanlon's razor, which is to never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity. [20:06.5]
I really believe that most investors that get people on these deals that they can't follow through with or these contracts that are just not set up to benefit the seller, I really think that, most of the time, the investor in that equation is just operating from a place of inexperience. Most of the time. Right?
Dan: But, in the end, that's not an excuse. It's an explanation, but it isn't an excuse, right? Because you do end up hurting someone. I think the industry, in general, needs to kind of come back to this place of understanding that, hey, we need to compete by being legitimately the best option and we're only going to be legitimately the best option if we're consistently doing things that are in the seller's interest.
And so, if you just come in and your whole thing is that you're a fast-talking dude with a contract that's ready to go, that’s only going to get you so far, and then, yeah, like you said, you end up with a one-star review on Yelp territory. I think that's just bad for everybody. [21:07.6]
In your market right now, you're kind of following this thing, and, by the way, I think this has been a real trend. The investors that I've interviewed that are really doing well in this market, almost everyone to a person has said some version of what you just said, which is, We go in there and we’re really just focused on trying to help someone, and if there's a way we can help them that I don't know about, I learn that way. Right?
So, when that's your approach and that's how you think about running the business and that's how you think about growing your investing business, how does that translate to your marketing? What are you guys doing for marketing? And you don't have to get into specifics, but what have you found has been useful for you, or are there things that you've tried that you're like, Yeah, it doesn't work super well for us? What's been your experience there?
Anthony: For us, we still do continue to direct mail. Obviously, there are different ways we pull our data and usually we're trying to find sellers that just have some sort of a need to sell. Generally, those may be late taxes or properties needing repair or things like that. [22:11.3]
And so, we do a lot of direct mail. We also do text message marketing. I'm not big into cold calling because I don't like receiving a lot of calls myself. We do those two. Of course, SEO, the search engine optimization, so people can find us when they need to find us, and some of the Google pay-per-click and that's kind of on and off depending on the time.
I think that's it. I kind of lost track of the question, to be honest with you.
Dan: No, it sounds like you're really doing a multi-channel kind of approach. You’ve just found basically that you kind of have to be everywhere at this point.
Anthony: Yeah, we spend thousands and thousands of dollars every month just trying to market and, I'd say, one of the ways that’s probably a unique selling proposition, as they would say, is just we do advertise that we are local, that we're not some big company from out of area that doesn't know the area. [23:03.3]
We know Orlando. We know Central Florida. We know Brevard County. And we're able to come meet with you face-to-face, and just know the local markets, because even looking at it from a larger standpoint, every little pocket—I can look at Orlando and where my office is in downtown Orlando, I can go a mile each way and each mile is a different market, and if you don't know those little pockets, you may not be able to give a maximum value to somebody for their property, because you look at something four blocks over and it's a totally different little neighborhood. And so, just all our marketing is, Hey, we're local. We're Better Business Bureau A+ where we live here, too.
Dan: Yeah, man, I think there's just so much to be said for that approach, and I kind of want to just leave it there because I sort of want to hammer that point home. I think, in the end, the real gritty tactical stuff is fun to talk about, but if you're not just focusing on helping people and being local, and really being who you say you are, none of that stuff is going to help you. You know what I mean? [24:06.3]
Dan: Yeah. All right.
Anthony: Excellent, Dan. I appreciate it. Yeah, it's just we're consistent and that's all that matters.
Dan: Yeah, man. If people want to follow up with you or learn more about Sky Equities, LLC, which is the company, obviously, we talked about the website which is SellAsIsNow.com. Is there anywhere else you want them to follow you on social media or is that the best place?
Anthony: So they can go to Sell As Is Now on Facebook. They can go to Sell As Is Now on Instagram.
Dan: All right, cool.
Anthony: We kind of have that across the board there. Our phone numbers are on there. If you message us, it comes right to my cell phone, so you're not going to get somebody else. It's going to be me responding. We’ll do the best answer any questions, hopefully make it so you don't have to sell if there's an issue going on, but if you do, then we're able to help. And if we're not a fit, we'll let you know, too.
Dan: Awesome. Okay, so I'm definitely going to link to both your Instagram and your Facebook page in the show notes, which are going to be at AdWords Nerds.com/podcast. But like I said, if you are curious about what Anthony's up to, you can go to SellAsIsNow.com. [25:11.7]
Anthony, thank you so much, man. This was really an awesome conversation and I appreciate you bringing your approach to our audience, man. I think you're doing exactly what investors need to be doing in order to be successful now, and I salute you for it.
Anthony: Thank you, sir. I appreciate it. I appreciate your time.
Dan: I hope you enjoyed this week's interview. I certainly did. I want to thank Anthony for coming on. That was a really great conversation.
If you are not in our Facebook group, you really got to get in there. It's AdWordsNerds.com/group and it will take you straight there or you can go on Facebook and type in “REI Marketing Nerds.” It's free. I'm in there every single day, posting articles, posting tips, doing live trainings, answering questions. It is completely free and, honestly, it is “the” best Facebook group about online marketing for real estate investors, and I say that with no hint of hubris. I think that's really the case. [26:04.3]
Anyway, if you're not in the group, go get in the group. It's AdWordsNerds.com/group or just go on Facebook and type in “REI Marketing Nerds.” You'll find us.
All right, I'll talk to you later. Have a great week and I will see you next time.
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