Cocktails and Dreams Real Estate Podcast | Jake Burhans | Scaling Strategies

 

Starting and scaling a wholesale real estate business can be daunting. It’s a lot of work, and that’s why not everyone does it. Do you want to get rich or die trying? It’s a hustle and only the relentless survive. I met a guy like this recently with a great attitude about tackling the work and the mindset. He is willing to share wisdom around the subject. This guy has a lot figured out. He is a go-giver. When you start in real estate, you can become a wholesaler, or retailer (aka real estate agent) or you can become an investor-buyer. Jake Burhans decided to do all three at once.

Crazy, but he eventually decided to dial in on wholesaling and is now rapidly adding members to his acquisition team. He just moved to Florida but is currently racking up a lot of transactions and buying in multiple markets. Jake shares some easy-to-use tips for getting into the most conversations you possibly can. Because as he says, you are just one call away from that million-dollar opportunity.

You’ll love Jake and the community he is building at Optimize REI. He’s smart, has inspiring energy, and is willing to share. My kind of guy. Enjoy!

 

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Jake Burhans | Starting Scaling Optimizing

Introduction

Starting and scaling a wholesale real estate business can be a daunting task. I know. It’s what gave me a lopsided beard that I still haven’t recovered from. Do you want to get rich or die trying? It’s a hustle that only the relentless survive. I met a guy with a great attitude about tackling the work and is willing to share wisdom around the subject. Now, right there, I know that this guy has a lot figured out because he’s a go-giver.

When you start out in real estate, you can become a wholesaler, a retailer, a k, a real estate agent, or you can become an investor buyer. Jake Burhans decided to do all three at once. That’s crazy but eventually, he decided to dial it in on wholesaling and is now rapidly adding members to his acquisitions team. He just moved to Florida. He is currently racking up a lot of transactions, buying in multiple markets, and sharing some easy-to-use tips for getting the most out of those first conversations because it can be daunting.

As he says, you’re one call away from that million-dollar opportunity. You’re going to love Jake, his wisdom, and the community he’s building at Optimize REI. He’s smart and inspiring. I love his energy, and he’s willing to share wisdom, which is my kind of guy. I hope you enjoy this episode. I think now is the day that maybe you’ll hit that like and subscribe button. I know it’s a little bit of work, but it does help us. It helps those algorithms that help push our content out to more people ensures that we’re continuing to deliver content to you and that you don’t miss an episode.

Thank you very much. I hope you enjoyed this episode with Jake. I enjoyed having this conversation with him. It seems like LinkedIn is pretty potent. It seems like a place to get some great traction. Facebook seems like a place where you go to throw things that go away into a deep void, but LinkedIn is a little bit interactive.

One hundred percent and my team had suggested that I got to get on LinkedIn. I always had a profile, but I never used it to proactively reach out to people.

 

Cocktails and Dreams Real Estate Podcast | Jake Burhans | Scaling Strategies

 

I’m finding more and more of that. It’s worth the time on there. Where are you hailing from?

St. Petersburg, Florida.

Investing In Multiple Markets

I know a lot of people that love St. Pete’s and it’s a great place. Tell me about the real estate market in St. Pete.

It’s popping. It’s competitive, but we’re all direct-to-seller off-market. We’re finding things, but I’m not too focused on the retail market in terms of listings and realtors. I’m not too familiar with that but I do know with direct to seller, there are deals. You have to put in the work.

Even wholesalers, retailers, investors, everybody has to flow along the same tide. I was curious what it’s like down there. Everybody that I’ve talked to still says that the Florida market is pretty hot but some say it slowed down a little bit. What’s your experience been?

I’ve been here for about three months in the market, and it’s been hot ever since I’ve been here. I don’t have anything to compare it to previously, but I think it’s been great compared to the New Hampshire market that I was in before.

Were you investing in New Hampshire when you were up there?

Yeah, we have about fifteen multi-family units up there. We don’t have anything down here, though.

You’re an investor in multiple markets. Give me a little bit of your experience and how does one market compare to another? When you decided to start doing deals in another market, what were some new things that you had to prepare for?

Not much, to be honest. It doesn’t change other than the fact you need to have the personnel there to go out and see the property, and things like that. Make sure you’re up to code with the regulations and things like that but it’s not anything different. I’m the acquisitions guy. I’m reaching out to a seller, and having a conversation, whether that’s in Florida, Las Vegas, or New Hampshire. It doesn’t make a difference to me but from a business perspective, there are regulations, laws, and things like that.

Each state is different contractually from state to state, but the mechanics are the same, you’re saying?

Exactly.

Career Background

That’s good for people who are getting ready to expand a little bit. I’d love to hear about your business, but before we do, I want to know about you a little bit. Give me a little bit about your background and how you got into real estate investing because it sounds like you were headed towards one path and then you veered directions maybe.

We started out doing a bunch of things at first. We were realtors. We were wholesaling. We were buying property all at the same time. We were like, “We can do all these things. We got it. We’re going to crush it.” We can’t do them all. You got to pick one. We started out doing all three of those things and slowly we’ve whittled it down to wholesaling.

In Florida, we’re doing predominantly wholesale transactions, which for anyone who’s not familiar with wholesaling, I like to think of it as the acquisition side for all the fix and flippers out there because they don’t want to cold call. They don’t want to do those things and get yelled out on the phone all day. We go find the deals. We lock them up. For example, we locked up a deal at $100,000. It means we’re in a purchasing sale with a seller.

Let’s say the property could be worth $ 250,000, but it might need a ton of work. We might sell that purchase contract to a fix and flipper for $110,000 and we would make a little spread. It’s pretty much a fee for finding the property, going out and doing the legwork and then our fix and flip partners will swing the hammer and complete the project. That’s wholesaling more or less. It’s very transactional. It’s a sales and marketing business.

Real estate is the product. That was one of the main reasons we went to Florida was for the wholesale side of it. New Hampshire’s great. New Hampshire and Florida are similar in terms of tax perspective. No income tax and things like that. New Hampshire’s a very landlord-friendly state so we own property there, but we put that on hold for now because we’re looking at the wholesale business as something that we’re going to automate over the next few years.

We’re going to try to turn this into a cashflowing asset. By the end of 2025, we’re completely out of this. What Alex mostly says is, “Nose in hands out.” Maybe 2 to 5 hours a week giving our input. We can use that cashflow to go back into multi-family and start to build up our portfolio. That’s the biggest reason that we went from New Hampshire to Florida market but Florida’s also a great area to buy property in. That’s one of the best things about building a wholesale business is a lot of those relationships and contacts are transferrable for later on in your career.

Relationships you get from building a wholesale business are transferrable down your career. Click To Tweet

When you want to buy and hold property, you have the attorneys and the title companies. Also, all the property managers and those contacts are already in place. You’re only doing a different thing. At the end of the day, wholesaling is an exit strategy. It’s the art of finding off-market deals because once you have a deal, there are three things you could do. You can hold it. You could fix and flip it yourself or you could just assign the contract to another investor.

Retailers Vs. Wholesaler

You said you started off wholesaling. You started off as a real estate agent and then as an investor, and then you slowly whittled it down to wholesaling. In my experience, I’ve done the exact same thing. I was also doing all three at the same time, except I chose the real estate agent pathway. What’s interesting is that you have a real juxtaposition of business models there. With the wholesaler position, your job is to get that property from that seller at the lowest price possible. Yes, you still want to go in and have a win-win. Yes, even though you are giving that seller a low investor price for it, you’re solving their problem because you’re allowing them to liquidate the asset fast.

Where in the real estate scenario, you’re a fiduciary and you are bound by law to get that seller more for them than you would for yourself. It’s difficult to go in and be a retailer and a wholesaler because as that retailer, you have to get them the most, but as the wholesaler, you’re trying to get it for the least. How did you handle that when you were in the in-between phase?

In-between phase, it’s all disclosures. You could do it and a lot of people do it. You just have to be very clear about, “I have my investor hat on right now. I’m coming in as an investor. I’m a principal in this transaction. I’m not a realtor. I’m not representing. I’m here to buy for myself.” I think it’s being transparent in the disclosures. It can be tough because a lot of brokerages are not open to that.

There are plenty of investor-friendly brokerages but if you want to be a realtor and a wholesaler, it’s finding a good brokerage that that understands that. Furthermore, I don’t think it’s terrible to have both though because you would be surprised to how many sellers will go with that cash offer even when you think they’re going to want to list it. “I’d rather just do it. I know I can get more. I’d rather just take the cash.” It is a fiduciary to present those different options.

Even if you’re not a wholesaler, understanding that route for the seller and having people who do that or cash buyers present that option because you can be like, “Here are the options. We can fix it up and you can get this price right or you can sell it now at this price. I have an investor over here. What would you like to do,” in presenting the options? It’s one way to look at it.

I agree. I always thought I was providing an extra level of service by having that network that you were talking about in the beginning. Being able to show up at a REIA group or have an email list of ready-to-go investor-buyers that maybe won’t get that seller the price they want for it, but to hang that option on the Christmas tree and say, “There’s an ornament.”

You can pick it up anytime you want. We’re going to do our best to retail this baby. We’re going to get you this. Here’s our marketing plan. This is the plan but at any time, if you, Mr. And Mrs. Seller want me to take that to the wholesale option, and you want me to present this to investors, keep in mind you’re not going to get the higher price that you want, but you direct me. You tell me what you want, because what’s more important to you, time or money?

We can take the time. We can get you the most. There’s a buyer out there. It may take time, but we’ll find it or if money’s more important to you because you have to get to your grandkids in Arizona, then let’s go see if we can get you a cash offer and get this thing out. In that case, maybe there was a pre-negotiation of a commission or something like that. I always tried to do both and we found some great deals. In some cases, we picked up some great deals for ourselves too, because people were like, “Do you want to buy this?” “Yeah, sure. Absolutely.”

I think the best analogy is because a lot of times people don’t understand the price is not the most important thing for some people. It is a very small percentage of the market. It’s probably 5% of people looking to sell their house that is going to be a wholesale deal. I always use the analogy of you’re driving down the road, you want to get a bottle of water.

If you stop at the gas station, you pay $3 for one bottle of water. You dang well you could go to the grocery store. You get a package of 24, and that might be $0.30 a bottle but you choose the speed and convenience of stopping at the corner store and you’re willing to pay more for the water. It’s the same thing with real estate. They know they can get more money, but they’re choosing the speed and convenience and are willing to sell it at a discount because of the problems.

We’re also not getting something for nothing. We’re going above and beyond in a lot of these situations and solving other problems. We had a seller in Manchester, New Hampshire. We ended up paying for his moving costs and getting them all the way down to Texas. It’s the other things that people don’t see besides the price that we’re paying. It’s the problems that we’re solving and that we’re providing to them. They’re saying, “If you can solve these problems, I’m willing to agree to this price because the value of these problems solved is equal to this price that you’re giving me. I’m willing to do that.” That’s an important thing to understand is the problem solved?

Dealing With Emotions

In those cases, it’s factual and it’s an opportunity that you’re presenting. How do you deal with some of the emotion that creeps in on sellers when you’re just trying to go in and make an offer for their convenience and then they kind of get emotional with you? How do you handle some of those conversations?

It’s an emotional thing. In wholesaling, you have acquisitions and dispositions. My partner does dispositions. That’s more coldhearted. It’s investors and you can play cutthroat on that end. On the seller side, you have to be more empathetic and understand their situation. It’s because we do this every day, but for a lot of people, this is the biggest sale of their life. It’s their house so this is no small thing. It’s like we’re trading baseball cards here.

They raise children in that house. They’ve had a lot of memories in that house and we forget that even as real estate agents with sellers because it’s as you said, it’s so transactional that we forget that this is an emotional and a transactional thing for them.

To ultimately answer your question of how do you handle that? It comes down to your process for speaking with sellers, a.k.a. what is your sales process. I like to think of sales as a way to communicate with sellers. Getting them to make a decision whether it’s selling the house or not selling the house and trying to address all of their needs. We have a sales process that’s going to go through all these things like their reason for selling. What needs to be met, their timeline, or their price. How much do they need? Why do they need that amount? Who are the decision makers involved? All of those things are going to help us effectively communicate with the seller and work through kind of those emotional points.

Scaling Approaches

Do you guys have people on your team who are VAs who are calling FSBOs and things like that to try to set meetings for you guys?

Mid-Roll Ad

We’re actively scaling that out right now. We have three cold callers who are calling absentee owner data. Absentee owner data is, “I own 123 Main Street. I live in 123 Main Street. I have another property at 145 Birchwood. I do not live in that property. My mail doesn’t go there. It’s an absentee house for me.” The people we’re targeting with that is tired landlords. They owned it for years. They don’t want to sell it. Think about it, in this market with interest rates at high 6% or 7%, what’s a more likely sale? A rental that someone’s had for years or the house they live in where they now need to go find another property at a higher interest rate? Most likely it’s a rental.

Especially as credit starts to creep up because people are trying to live the same lifestyle with less income. They’re having to liquidate assets to pay for that as well.

We keep it very broad. Absentee owner and this is going again into scaling. Why we went into solely wholesaling is getting as laser focus as you can. Simple scales, fancy fails. We only pull one type of list under $500,000, estimated value, absentee owner, not on the market with 25% to 100% equity. It doesn’t matter what city we’re in, that’s what we’re pulling. It has to be a lot. There are no tracks of land.

We’re keeping it very simple and they’re calling those leads. We have one lead follow-up manager. I guess I need to explain the acquisition side is going to help people understand. Lead generation and reaching out to that broad list of people. Anyone who raises their hand says, “I have a reason to sell.” The reason can’t be what you offer. It’s not a real reason, but they’re moving, retiring, or foreclosure. Maybe it’s a more motivated reason.

That’s going to get pushed to the CRM where all of our leads live. Our lead follow-up manager is going to qualify those leads. A lot of them might just be messing around. Who has a real reason to sell and what is their timeline? The keyword is the timeline here. If they’re within 90 days from making a decision to do something, that’s going to get kicked up to acquisitions. It’s going to be an appointment set for acquisitions. If they’re 90-plus days, it’s going to be a follow-up for the lead manager until they are within that 90-day timeframe.

As you’re scaling up the acquisition side, you start wearing all the hats and it’s tough. It sucks. You’re doing all the things, but slowly you start to hire these positions out and you’re getting to a higher dollar per hour task every single time. I’m in the closing seat, but over the next few weeks here, I’m looking to hire my first closer.

That’s going to get me to the highest dollar-per-hour task on the acquisition side, which is the sales manager and that’s effectively being a leader. How can I get everyone to their highest point of contribution on this team? How can I get them operating at the most optimal level? That’s being a leader and getting them to do what you need them to do. It’s interesting as you scale up how you work.

What answers are you finding to those questions because those are great questions? How are you helping yourself scale?

Leadership Multiplication

I’ve now realized that it’s more about leadership. Learning about leadership, I don’t know anything about it. I’m reading a book right now called Multipliers by Liz Wiseman. It’s a very good book but it’s about multiplying the intelligence of the people that you already have. Instead of just getting more headcount, maybe everyone’s operating at 50% because of your leadership style. Instead of going and getting more headcount, why don’t you get 100% of the people you have? It’s through different tactics and ways of leading that you’re able to do that. I think the answer to that question is continuing to read and learn. Also, test out different strategies to see how my team responds to them and what’s most effective for them.

In my experience, I’ve found that when you begin to teach leadership, you get multiplication faster. I was asking a guy named John Houston. He’s one of the fifth largest home builders in America. He’s in the Dallas area. I had a chance to go on a leadership retreat with him, and I asked him, “How do you manage standards as you scale?” He said, “I hired somebody who was better than me at the job.” There’s a lot of truth to that because, at that point, his job becomes leadership.

His job becomes to support the leaders to have the best person on the job who is going to manage standards as they scale. What I found is that when I ask people to be the CEO of their own position and incentivize them to do so, you get the results you’re looking for. I think you’re on the right path with leadership there because it’s how you get multiplication fast. Are you experiencing that?

Yeah. Also, being able to give people decision-making ability. We’re still going to collaborate, but it takes so much weight off of me to be like, “Here’s the problem. How can we come to it together?” Instead of feeling like I need to be the smart one in the room. I need to always have the answers. Why don’t we lay out the solution, lay down a challenge, and see how we can get there together? It’s because by telling them what to do every single time, I’m not tapping into their intelligence.

Everyone is intelligent in their own way. It’s about tapping into that and seeing what they can bring to the table. I was talking to my lead manager this morning trying to figure out how we can get lead generation to produce more leads per person. She had some phenomenal reasonings by simply asking, “This is what I’m trying to do. Everyone’s at 2 to 3 leads per day. I want to get them up to 4 to 5. I know when you were a cold caller, you were doing that so I know it’s possible. How can we do that?’

Everyone is intelligent in their own way. Help others tap into that and see the unique things they can do. Click To Tweet

You started to work back, “This is what I was doing.” By the end of it, we had three action items we were going to implement for the lead generation department to get them up. However, if I had gone in there and said, “This is what I think we need to do.” I go in there and tell them to do this, we would’ve never come to that conclusion. I allowed her to present ideas and to try them.

We’ve got you now running a business that’s growing and scaling. You are looking for multiplication. You’re teaching leadership but where did you start? It seems like you made a shift around college. You were getting ready to go and become a CPA or maybe you were studying. You were having some finance education, and then all of a sudden, things came to a screeching pivot point for you. Can you describe where you were in life and how all that happened?

It starts with hockey. I was a very dedicated hockey player my entire life. It was always my goal to go to the NHL. I played year-round until I was about nineteen years old. It’s the only thing I played and I was very committed to that. That’s everything my life revolved around. When that ended due to an injury more or less, I was very lost for a year because everything I had been doing in my life up to that point was for that purpose. I was like, “What the heck do I do now?” I went into college freshman year and didn’t know what I was doing. I was probably not doing the right things in general just to be on track. I read Rich Dad Poor Dad, which is the classic cliché thing.

It helped a lot of people.

I always like to say, “It either clicks for people or it doesn’t.” You give it to someone, they’re either like, “That’s great,” or they’re like, “Oh my gosh.” That was me in the latter. That clicked for me and then I was like, “This is my new thing that I can put all my time and energy into, dedicate, focus, and do all the things.” That’s how I switched. At that time, I was going into my junior year of college. I had to work while I was double majoring in finance and accounting because I always tried to be an overachiever.

I tried to do all the things, which is why I loaded my class schedule heavy with finance and accounting because I was trying to get the best corporate job that I could. I then realized, “Is this what I want to do?” I got so infatuated with real estate that I took off from there. It’s like a divine thing but my now business partner lived across the hall in my freshman year in college from me. We had never been friends. We knew each other until junior year and then I started being an intern for him because he was learning under another guy who owns hundreds and hundreds of units.

We both started working and we started wholesaling that summer in junior year. Since then, I had an hourly job, but it was tough getting started even in college switching from that hourly mindset to a commission mindset. Getting started probably until about a year ago, to be honest, I probably went down a zero in my bank account 4 or 5 times.

By divine luck, I’d have a deal hitting right at that point. I know what it’s like to have no money and be stressed out trying to get the business working. I do not necessarily recommend that. You can always keep doing your full-time job if you want to get into real estate and build it up on the side until your income’s equal to your salary and then you get out. That’s a smart way to do it.

You can always keep your full-time job while doing real estate. Build up your real estate income on the side until it equals your salary, and then you get out. Click To Tweet

Divine Experience And Meditation

You mentioned divine twice. Once with the person in your life across the hall and once with something showing up at the right time. What’s that experience been like for you?

It’s an interesting thing. I’ve never been too religious. I’m not going to make this about religion or anything. I will say things have been happening in the past couple of years that are strange at precisely the right time and precisely the right thing. I think in my head it’s more probable than not that this is something guiding me in the right direction. That’s all I’ll say it is but it felt divine. I was like, “This is too perfect to just be random in a sense to end up for a lot of things that have happened over the past two years.”

Business and life are a little bit better when you’ve got that extra juice, isn’t it?

Exactly.

Are you doing anything to try to grow that part of your life?

I’m super into the whole mindset thing. I’ve been meditating. COVID changed my life because COVID kept me in and that’s when I started reading. I turned into this voracious reader always trying to read, learn, and do all these things. I started meditating on COVID because I started studying successful people like Ray Dalio, who’s a big hedge fund investor, and all these different people. A lot of times what I’ll do when I’m either learning information or going into a new industry, things that are the same, or multiple people say the same thing, I cue in on that.

I’m like, “This must be important because six different people have different viewpoints, but they’re all doing the same thing,” and that same thing was meditating. They’re all meditating. They are doing these things so it must be important because all these successful people are doing it. I started to do it then. For me, it’s fifteen minutes in the morning and in the evening. I think the word meditation means to become familiar with. You’re letting your thoughts come in and analyzing those.

I have to look at it as clearing my mental email inbox opening all those thoughts and evaluating where you are because it’s super important to self-reflect. You should be reflecting on where you are and where you’re at in your life. If you’re unhappy, it’s probably because you haven’t done any self-reflection. I am where I am because of what reason? It’s because of this, this, and this. I don’t like this part about me. You can analyze what you need to change to feel fulfilled and happy in a sense.

Jumping Into Real Estate

I agree 100%. Also, meditation, I’ve resisted it for so long because I’m like, “I don’t know how to do it. I sit here and then all these other thoughts creep in. I can’t clear my mind,” when in fact meditation isn’t thinking about anything or trying to think about anything. It’s being present at the moment and giving yourself the time, space, and margin to be able to breathe and sit for a minute. Also, to let those things flow through. You’re absolutely right. Good job doing that. That’s super helpful. Did you finish school or did you get so excited and successful that you just jumped into your real estate career?

I’m a pretty risk-averse person, to be honest, which is interesting why you choose entrepreneurship. I was like, “I’m finishing school.” I was like, “I’m going to have this in my back pocket and I’m already all the way here.” By the time I dropped accounting, I had that accounting internship going into senior year, and then I dropped it. I’m like, “I’m going all in real estate,” but I was going to finish because I only did two classes a semester. I had no credits left. I was like, “I’m going to take these two classes each semester and rip real estate and do the calls.”

Congrats on finishing that. I did an episode with a guy and he was kicked out of college. It’s one of the first episodes that we did. He’s like, “I’m kicked out of college so I’m going to go try real estate.” That’s what he’s doing. He didn’t want to finish. I told him. I said, “You’re going to get to the point where you’re going to want to raise private money from somebody someday, and you’ve got to have some kind of credential or some kind of completion.”

Maybe this is the old Gen X-er in me trained by Baby Boomers, which is like, “Yeah, go to college,” which I’m not sure I believe in anymore but I am a believer in finishing what you’ve started because so at least you get the honor and the credit for all of the time, money, and effort that you’ve spent. Also, the completion of that does help in a variety of different ways. I have a degree in theater and I used it for the first ten years of my life after I graduated. I was in shows. I went all around the country. I worked as a paid actor. I supported myself at that until I realized that the only other thing I had passion for was real estate and I was tired of being unemployed.

That’s when I started investing in real estate and made more off of one property in six months than I did two years humping it out there as an actor going from town to town, show to show. It’s life-changing when you commit to it and it’s easy to jump to the next thing. Congrats on completing that and then going forward, I think it’ll give you a boost. Also, that finance career has got to be helpful in this business.

I always used poo-poo the whole college thing because that’s all they do in entrepreneurship. They destroy college and how it’s so bad for you but I think it was a great one for the relationships. I always look at it like, “I never would’ve met my business partner if I didn’t go to college.” The cost of college was essentially getting to where I am at this point, for one. Also, all the relationships and it’s also interesting what I’ve realized lately, even small things like being able to write. I’m writing a lot of emails and there’s a certain level of professionalism that we carry both Isaiah and I, because we had gone through that higher education.

Our better understanding of the markets, finance, and the whole finance world because we’ll get into raising private capital at some point. Also, with multi-family, it’s all market-related, but we have a really good understanding of all that because of our finance degrees. I think it’s going to contribute. I didn’t even think about the fact of having that credential with raising private money because I think it probably does play a factor. “He went to college and graduated in finance.” Subconsciously they’re like, “He probably knows what he’s talking about.”

My degree has helped me with presentations. I introduced more people to the short-term rental sub-asset class by doing presentations. I started out doing them for two people at a time and then 200 people at a time. The next thing I know, I’m building a nationwide brokerage training real estate agents because this sub-asset class is taking off. People are getting 30% or 40% returns year over year by finding the right properties.

We were helping them find the right properties and grow their portfolios. We got agents from waiters to the point where they’re making $1 million in gross commission income and investors who had never invested in a house before five years later are now doing developments. It’s been a fun ride and you don’t know how explosive it can be. The reasons why I believe God has us at a place right now that we don’t quite understand take us to a place many years later where you’re like, “There was a grand design there and I’m so thankful for it.”

Relationship Building

I would encourage you to keep an eye on those meaningful monoliths that show up in your life. Don’t ever forget them because they’ll all show up again in a cool way, it seems like. I think you have a philosophy like that because in getting to know you a little bit, it seems like you say you have a philosophy about maybe the first time you meet somebody, you may not realize how important they are to you. However, people have a way of coming back. Talk about that philosophy that you shared a little bit.

 

Cocktails and Dreams Real Estate Podcast | Jake Burhans | Scaling Strategies

 

I think that’s just in relationships. We’re so geared to want instant gratification on things or results. “I spent X amount on marketing. I want the deal right away.” It’s not like that with relationships. I think my philosophy on building relationships has evolved, but I’ve started to see people that I met maybe 6 months ago, 8 months ago, 1 year ago, or 2 years ago. They come back into my life not to say that I made the relationship just for my eventual benefit down the line, but I’m seeing the benefit now come around so much longer down the line.

It’s almost like planting seeds. It’s almost like you’re a farmer and you got to cultivate those relationships and do the things. I think a good perspective to have when building relationships is to go out and try to provide value. How can I go out and help this person along their journey? Let me listen and understand where they’re at. What can I do to provide value to them there’s a book called The Go-Giver, which I highly recommend everyone reading. It’s a universal law of give and you shall receive. Give and it’ll come back around at some point.

You reap what you sow, is how I say it. It’s true in my life as well. That’s a great philosophy. I’m glad that’s serving you.

It’s served me very well. I think relationships are everything in life and in business and even connecting with people who don’t seem like they’re in your industry. Maybe they don’t seem like they’re the best connection for you, but going out and going for coffee or even having a phone call with them or spending 10 or 15 minutes. You never know how that’s going to affect them. “He took 10 to 15 minutes out of his day to talk to me.” Maybe they think of you down the line for whatever reason, but you never know how they may work into your life.

 

Cocktails and Dreams Real Estate Podcast | Jake Burhans | Scaling Strategies

 

Do you go out and seek out mentors as well?

I’m all about that. I’m very active, like I said, how I found you on LinkedIn, trying to build my network, because I think that’s everything because you’re only one conversation away from changing your life wherever you are. Whether you are trying to get into the business or trying to make your first phone call, or you’ve hit a ceiling in your business, you’re one conversation away from someone. It could be for $1 million. You could make $1 million to someone if money was your ultimate goal. That’s what I like to think. Ed Mylett has a really good book called The Power of One More. I talked about that. You’re one more dial, one more phone call, and one more wrapping to do. It’s that one more mentality because you never know what that one more will bring.

Also, being excited about it. Having that ambition rather than the fatigue because I know we’ve all seen this. Tony Robbins is like four blocks and one of them is you’ve got this belief that you can do something and that changes your potential. Also, that changes your actions, and then that changes your results and your results change your belief.

Keeping A Positive Rocket Fuel Mindset

The people who aren’t getting the results that they want for whatever reason have an easier time getting on this downward spiral but if you focus on believing that you can’t do it, that increases your potential, and that increases the actions that you take, which increases your results. It’s this upward spiral. Sometimes we have to force ourselves into that upward spiral because it can be negative with the same thing. How do you keep yourself in that positive rocket fuel mindset?

It’s got to be the people around you. I struggle with the negative thoughts every single day. That’s a fact. I think everyone does. You always have those limiting thoughts that creep in but it’s like, “How am I going to handle them?” It’s not, “How do I eliminate them,” but how do I handle them? When I was playing hockey, I was a goalie. One of the biggest misconceptions I had back then, which would’ve helped me is understanding it’s normal to feel nervous. This is okay. It means that you care and you want to do well.

I told my son that in his wrestling match. I used to feel the same thing. I was a goalie in water polo when I was in high school.

If I would’ve known like, “This is normal. This is never going to go away.” I was trying to fight it. I was trying to be like, “How can I make these nerves go away? Why is this happening to me?” Instead, I should have been like, “I’m going to get these butterflies every single time I’m about to step on the ice. Just accept that. This is a normal feeling.” Now let’s be a little bit clearer up in our mind to be like, “This is a normal feeling.” Reframe that. “This is normal. I’m going to go out. It’s going to go away once we start playing.”

I think with mindsets, that’s the first thing but then also being around in a community. That is the biggest freaking thing is being in a community, especially for younger entrepreneurs in their twenties or even maybe out of high school. They don’t want to go to college. You have influences in your life like parents, things like that, and other friends who are on your path. They’re going to be, “Go get a real job. What are you doing?” It hasn’t worked for three months. “Johnny, this isn’t working. Let’s go get a job. It’s time to get a job.”

That is strong and these are people that care about you and love you. They do want what’s best for you, but they don’t always know what’s best for you because they’re only operating their life based upon their previous experience and beliefs. They might not be as open-minded as would be beneficial for you but I think being around the community substitutes for that. If you’re around people who are also wholesaling, “Getting cussed out on the phone every day and going through these struggles like, “I went through that struggle a couple of months ago. I know what you’re going through. This is how I got through it.”

You then don’t feel like you’re on an island because you absolutely do feel like you’re on an island when you’re building this thing. I work from home so I’m here piling people all day. It’s not like I have coworkers to go complain about things too and be like, “This sucks.” I do have a business partner but I think the community is the biggest thing that’s going to help people get over whatever hump they need to get over because you absolutely will run into obstacles and you absolutely will have humps.

Community is the biggest thing to help people get through whatever humps and obstacles they run into. Click To Tweet

Do you feel the need to vent sometimes or do you feel the need to maybe keep things positive all the time? What’s your philosophy on that? It’s because I know some people don’t want any negativity to creep in so they don’t allow themselves to vent but some people are like, “You got to blow off steam.” What do you think about all that?

I think you can do both. At the end of the day, it’s whatever works for you. Everyone’s out here teaching these different philosophies and all these things. That’s what works best for them. We’re all different people so it’s going to be a little bit different for everyone. I think it’s whatever helps you the best. For me, I don’t vent. I don’t think. I’m more just getting in my own head. I try to stay out of my own head. Instead of venting, I’m going to curl up and be like, “What am I doing,” and have all these thoughts. I try not to do that. I will keep positive, maybe go for a walk, or try to do something to reset. If I catch myself in that kind of thought process, I hit reset.

Community Building Efforts

You have a lot of wisdom. Some things you said there tie into another episode that I did recently with one of my mentors named Darren Jacklin because what he says aligns exactly with what you said in that your environment is stronger than your willpower. That community of people is very essential. Also, you’re doing this. You’re helping with this. You’re helping create a community for real estate investors, aren’t you? It’s Optimize REI.

That’s optimization just for me in my health, my mindset, my relationships, and real estate. I said, “What better name than Optimize REI?” Right now it’s my give back to the community. I’ve been doing this for the past few years. At first, I didn’t want to do it. I was like, “Who am I to go do this,” to build the community. I’m like, “What have I ever done?” That’s always the impostor syndrome in all of us but you look back and you’re like, “I’ve had some pretty decent strides.”

This is a Facebook group that I have for now. It’s a free Facebook group. Every Saturday, I’m calling sellers live so people who are looking to get into the business, or even who have done a handful of deals can come in, and see how I talk to sellers. I call other people sellers who are doing sales role plays. I’m comping properties, which is trying to determine the after-repair value. Anything I can do to help and kind of get people in there. It’s almost like no excuses. “I want to start, but I don’t know how.” Hop in the Facebook group and join the Zoom. “I don’t know how to do this or that.” We’ll show you. That’s the philosophy behind it.

It’s allowing you to connect with people and share some wisdom and probably you share some deals in that community as well.

One hundred percent. My thing is like, “Let’s do more deals. I want to do more deals. I want you to do more deals. I want us to do more deals. I think the best way to get started is to team up or what we call squad up. We should squad up with other people because there are so many moving parts in say a wholesale transaction, for example. What list do I pull? How do I get the list? Where are the numbers? How do I call the seller? What happens when the seller says, “Yes, I want to sell? What do I say?” How do I lock it up? How do I put it under contract? How do I sell the deal?

There are so many moving parts. Why don’t you just generate leads at first? Get your hands on a transaction so you can get some experience and then you can go out and do the thing yourself because one of our mentors always says that competence breeds confidence. Your understanding of the situation is going to make you more confident.

If you can go in a low-risk environment and generate leads but the other person who’s doing the deal with you is willing to share the journey of the deal with you so you can understand. That way you’ll get some experience under your belt without having to have all this anxiety of like, “What do I do once it’s under contract? I don’t know.”

Current Deals And Goals

It seems like you’re in the middle of working on some deals now. You’ve done well. You said you have eighteen deals producing over $300,000 per year. Your goal is to get to seven figures in 2024. Talk to us about where you’re at now and where you want to get to. Also, what you’re focusing on.

The fourth quarter of 2023 has been crazy. It’s wild to see what you can do in a year. I didn’t share this, but after college, we were still doing realtor things and all these routes. I was a barback for seven months. I would work from 9:00 to 5:00 for real estate.

You are not even a bartender. You had to go get ice. You had to wash dishes and all that. I’ve done that.

It was a nice enough place that the money was able to cover my rent, thankfully. I did that for a while and I quit in October of 2022 and that’s when we went full-time. In a few months, I was still cold calling at that time. We scaled up to three lead generators, a lead follow-up manager, and about to have an acquisitions manager but now I think it’s up to 23 to 25 deals. Assigned to a buyer, I think we have about $350,000 or $360,000 in projected revenue. Consistent action for a year, you’d be absolutely blown away with what you could accomplish. Anyone can do that.

Anyone who’s willing to sit down and make calls every day can do exactly that. It’s not that I’m special or anything. I’m just the rep too because I had been cold-calling for a while. I’d say I probably spoke with over 30,000 sellers and said, “Would you consider an offer on your property?” It’s through sheer reps. There’s no shortcut to anything. If you do it enough, competence breeds confidence.

There is no shortcut to anything. Just do it enough. Confidence reads confidence. Click To Tweet

Out of 30,000 sellers, how many of those said, “Yeah, I’ll do something.”

Not a lot, Jeramie.

Maybe 30?

This is a good number for people to understand. I was speaking with someone who’s getting started and he was like, “Where are the numbers? How many people do I need to call,” and all those things. It depends if you’re going outbound or inbound. If you’re outbound calling and texting, the conversion rate is lower because you’re reaching out to them. They could be anywhere on their timeline versus someone calling in, they’re ready to sell.

Typically, if you dial 100 numbers, you’re going to speak with 8 to 10 people. Let’s say ten people. It’s a 10% connection rate. That’s high. Of those ten people you talk to, maybe you get one lead. One hundred dials to a lead. An industry average of about 30 leads to a contract. If you have to get 30 leads and you get a contract, 100 times 30 is 3,000. You got to make 3,000 dials to get one contract and people are out here, “I made 50 dials. I didn’t get a deal.” I’m like, “Great job for taking action. You should continue to do that. Be consistent.” Not even a drop in the bucket. You got to get out there and dial way more. People vastly underestimate the amount of work you need to do to get the deal.

Nobody wants to hustle. They want the money, but they don’t want the hustle.

The problem is people are flashing their checks on Instagram and it’s like, “I made $50,000.” This is the biggest mindset shift too I called for three straight months without getting a dollar before I got my first deal. Every single day, 3 or 4 hours a day, I would sit down on a triple line dialer dialing three numbers at once, and I would try to get 50 conversations. That dialer was probably dialing 600 to 800 dials within that period.

What happens if two people answer at once?

Everyone asks that. I don’t think it happens too often, but it puts the other person on hold and they end up hanging up. Essentially the effectiveness of dialing three outweighs any time that you would get a double answer.

That way you’re burning through numbers faster. Was that an expensive bit of service to get?

No. A lot of people get started in cold calling because it’s the most cost-effective. The best lead generation source is going to be pay-per-click, which is Google ads. That’s people’s online search and, “I got to sell my house fast right now for cash.” Cold calling is not too expensive because you could hop on a triple line dollar for a couple hundred bucks a month. $100 or maybe $200 a month and then you just get records.

Let’s say you have 1,000 records you want to call or property addresses. You have to go get numbers for those. You could skip-trace them, but I’d recommend using BatchSkip Tracing or Dataskip.io. Those are two really good ones for us and you pay anywhere from $0.10 to $0.15 a record. For 1,000 records, you might pay $100 to $150. I highly recommend if you’re going to pull a list, pay for the skip tracing. Yes, you could get it for free, but how much time are you going to waste with all these bad phone numbers? They are not the right owner. It’s not even worth it. Pay a couple hundred bucks, get some good phone numbers, and go out there and make some dials.

Getting Rich Vs. Getting Wealthy

It seems like you’ve got a philosophy and maybe this ties in with your philosophy about the difference between getting rich and getting wealthy. Talk to us about that. You’ve got some cool philosophies surrounding that. I think you said getting rich is about having a cashflow business. Getting wealthy is about owning assets.

Rich Dad Poor Dad is great. It gives us the concept of real estate. It doesn’t tell us necessarily how to do it and there’s this misconception. “This is definitely a way to do it. Let’s go slowly and build up rentals until we’re financially free. Our cashflow covers our living expenses.” If you own real estate, you realize that it’s tough to do because you have to put away money for repairs. Let’s say the roof goes out. There’s three years of cashflow right there. It’s hard to do that. What’s better in the philosophy we’re doing now is let’s get rich first. Let’s build a cash flowing business, which is this wholesaling business. Let’s get out of it. Once it’s automated, it’s going to be kicking off so much cashflow.

It’s already starting to reach that point where we’re going to get whacked with taxes. That’s when we go, “Buy real estate.” I heard someone else say, “I’m not buying real estate until my accountant says you need to buy real estate for tax reasons.” You’re going to get there so much faster if you build a cashflowing business that’s going to kick off $500,000, $700,000, or $800,000 a year in cashflow.

At that point, you can scale up a lot faster if scaling is your goal. That’s not everyone’s goal. Maybe they do want to slowly accumulate rentals and that’s the best situation for them because of their job and all that. That’s fine. I’m saying that the fastest way to scale your portfolio, it’s create a business first. Take that cashflow and get wealthy.

If you’ve got reoccurring monthly revenue, people will invest in what you’ve got. If you go and you sell assets, that’s what I learned about flipping it’s a job in and of itself because you’ve got to constantly go find more revenue and opportunities. Yeah, it’s bigger money and bigger chunks, but it’s still a job except you’re the one having to go find the recurring revenue.

Planning For Endgame

I think most real estate investors once they get into it are like, “I think I want to hold these assets and make sure they spin off great returns.” Selling an asset comes with tax issues. Buy and hold isn’t such a bad thing. You can create a legacy for yourself and for your posterity. What’s your end game? If you make $100 million at this, what are you going to do with it?

It’s tough to set goals more than three years out in my opinion. When you think about a year ago, I had no idea I’d be in the position I am right now. Imagine three years from now? You have no freaking clue where you’re going to be. $100 million is going to be tough. I think the end game is to get out of this business and build the multifamily portfolio. I almost feel like I’m going to be doing something maybe not necessarily real estate related, but I don’t know if it’s coaching or teaching people. I like to speak and do those things. It’s helping people a lot. I don’t know if it’s maybe with mindset but for now, automate this business and go build a multifamily portfolio. I know those are two things we want to be doing.

Power Of Showing Up

Anything else you want to share with people? Any nuggets or any personal stories? Anything that’s left unsaid that you want to be sure you get out there?

I’d say the biggest thing is to keep going and show up. I think half the battle or even more than that is just showing up whether you’re going to the gym. There was a time when I did not want to go to the gym every morning and I was like, “Let me show up and do a couple sets of whatever.” However, you get there and you end up doing more because you’re already there. It’s the same thing with dialing. Show up. Sit down and do the work. Steven Pressfield has a book called The War of Art. It talks about a force called resistance and he’s a writer. He said the hardest part about writing, it’s not writing. It’s sitting down to write. That’s the hardest part because you have this resistance, “I don’t want to do it.”

As soon as you sit down and start typing, it melts away like butter and you’re going. I feel that in my every day calling as well. “I don’t want to make the calls.” There is such resistance and a lot of people don’t go because they feel that. “I don’t want to do it,” but as soon as you make your first call and you get off that first call, everything opens up and you’re feeling great for the rest of the day.

I think showing up with the mindset of like, “Let me do three dials because I can guarantee you, you sit down, you open up your computer, your dialer, your CRM, and you make three dials, “I’ll make two more dials.” You’ll always do more than you, think you will because you’ve made all the effort to turn your computer on and do all the things. Set the bar low to get in there and do it, and you’ll end up doing more.

Competence breeds confidence. Set the bar low, get yourself in a state of confidence, and then push it a little bit more. I bought a little shower timer because I wanted to start doing cold showers. I didn’t just want to jump in there, go for it, and test myself. I wanted to measure it. I put it in there and it was my first day. I went from a sauna to a shower and I’m doing this because what I’m realizing from staying close to some of my new mentors now is that your daily habits, especially your morning habits, are going to set off a domino effect for the rest of your day.

If I don’t want to jump in a cold shower, I’m probably not going to want to do those first five cold calls of the day and I probably have a nasty attitude about it. I jumped in there just from being hot in that sauna, and I turned it all the way cold. I set it for a minute and I’m like, “I want the timer to go off.” I’m in there and I’m brushing my teeth trying to distract myself and I’m also trying to think of the things that I don’t want to do because that’s what Samurai used to do.

They used to strip naked to simulate the feeling of vulnerability. It’s the same vulnerability that you would have in war and then they would take their sword and they would get under an ice-cold waterfall and they would visualize themselves in battle so that their body was already time tested and ready for what they were about to do. There was no shock. They didn’t experience any shock. They were used to that adrenaline rush.

That’s what I’m trying to do. I was waiting for the timer to go off and it didn’t go off. I had to stop, but I had seconds seconds left. Now, I have something to shoot for the next time I get in there. What gets measured gets done. I’m about measuring some of the things in my life and moving those benchmarks along. As you said though, sometimes showing up and not even knowing why and trudging through the mud even though it feels like you’re trudging through the mud. Putting one foot in front of the other and giving yourself little small things to look forward to like, “At the end of the day, I’m going to do this to reward myself.”

It helps a lot. My wife in 2008 tried to get me to quit real estate because I kept showing up with no results because the market was horrible. We were in a market with no inventory. I tried being in a market with no buyers and even if you had a buyer, no bank would give that buyer a loan. It was dire straits back then. In 2008, I closed four real estate deals and I had to feed my family off of that.

You learn how to get creative real fast. She’s like, “Why don’t you go get a job?” Aside from the fact that I’m psychologically unemployable, I could never work for anybody the rest of my life. I believed that I was on the right path. It felt right even though I wasn’t seeing the results because sometimes we have to walk by faith, not by sight. When we do that, especially if we believe in the reason why we’re doing something or we’re doing it for a higher reason, it helps if we feel like we’ve got that divine power that you were talking about.

Tapping into that and being pulled towards your goal rather than pushing yourself towards it is a very wonderful thing. You’re a wise dude and I’m glad you reached out. I’m glad to get to know you. You are smart. I love your drive and I’d like to stay in touch with you. I’d like to be able to help you if I can in any way.

I do appreciate you having me on. I always love connecting with people who have similar perspectives as me, similar goals and aspirations. That’s what was so great about moving down to St. Petersburg I could reinvent myself because I’m not the same person I was when I was a freshman in college. I’ve evolved over the past few years and now I can go plant myself somewhere else and then everyone will know me as the person I am now. I don’t have these old friends sucking me back into wanting to do X, Y, or Z that I don’t want to do anymore. I can go create that new group of friends and that community. It’s all about the community. It’s been awesome.

Closing Words

What can we do to help you? What do you need?

Let’s just squad up. Let’s do some deals together. I want to help you. There are no excuses. This is what I say about community. It doesn’t have to be my community. I want you to get into a community. Why did I create my community? At first, I told you I didn’t want to be loud on social media and do all these things. I have this impostor syndrome. “Who am I to do this?” However, I had this divine realization, but I was like, “Everyone has a unique style of teaching and explaining things.

Certain people are going to resonate with you, Jeramie, that will not resonate with me. They will not want to come to my community or do business with me, but they’ll want to do business with you, which is great. That’s why you have a show. You’re doing all these things and likewise, certain people will resonate with you and may not necessarily resonate with you. It’s like that for everyone.

I think everyone should be getting loud, trying to build communities, and going on social media because there are certain people out there that are going to resonate with them that will not resonate with other people. If I’m the one that you resonate with, great. It’s a free Facebook group. There are no excuses for it. Go in there. If you don’t resonate with me, awesome but go find something to hold you accountable.

When building communities, get loud on social media. There are people out there that you will surely resonate with. Click To Tweet

I resonate with you so I’ll go in there and I’ll join Optimize REI. I am looking forward to that. Also, I’m down in Tampa about 4 or 5 times a year for business all the time, which isn’t too far away from St. Pete’s. I’ll reach out to you. I will have Beth get your cell number and we’ll squad up when we’re down there sometime. Does it sound good?

It sounds good, Jeramie. Thank you.

 

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About Jake Burhans

Cocktails and Dreams Real Estate Podcast | Jake Burhans | Scaling StrategiesJake Burhans is a real estate entrepreneur who owns and operates two separate companies. With QA Home Buyers he is on a mission to empower communities by providing solutions for homeowners looking to sell their properties. Additionally, with Maple Birch Properties he is an active real estate investor with holdings in the New Hampshire area. Jake graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a degree in finance and has utilized his education and expertise to excel in the industry.