Mark Ferguson says HUD pays Bills Flips to Make Bank (CFFL 0179)

Mark Ferguson says HUD pays Bills Flips to Make Bank

Jack Butala: Mark Ferguson says HUD pays Bills Flips to Make Bank. Every Single month we give away a property for free. It’s super simple to qualify. Two simple steps. Leave us your feedback for this podcast on iTunes and number two, get the free ebook at landacademy.com, you don’t even have to read it. Thanks for listening.

Jill DeWit:
Jill DeWit here for the Cash Flow From Land Show. Today, we’re going to speak with Mark Ferguson. I’m going to read Mark’s bio just as he wrote because I really like it like this.

“I have been a Realtor since 2001 and I have specialized in listing REO and HUD properties since 2008. I have a team of eight that help with all aspects of the REO process and our other real estate activities. Our team strives to provide the best service to our clients, buyers and co-op agents. We work with over 35 banks, asset management companies and hedge funds and we know every seller has a different process for selling home. We take pride in mastering each process in order to sell properties as quickly as possible with the highest net to the seller. Over the last three years we have sold over 500 homes.

I am also an avid Real Estate Investor. I buy and sell 10-15 fix and flips a year and I own 10 long-term rentals. I am always looking for a great deal and love to fix up properties. I discuss my fix and flips, rental properties and real estate business in depth on my blog www.investfourmore.com. I have have been featured on Bigger Pockets, B2R and Zillow!”

Welcome, Mark.

Mark Ferguson:
Hey. Thank you for having me. I appreciate being on this show.

Jack Butala:
That’s all cool, but what’s really cool about you is that you live in Greeley, Colorado.

Mark Ferguson:
That’s right. I do.

Jack Butala:
We live in a dusty desert, and it’s really beautiful up there. I’ve been there.

Mark Ferguson:
No. I love it here. Yup. Actually, my bio, I should update that. I’m up to 16 rental properties now.

Jill DeWit:
Ooh. Nice. Hey. How far is Greeley from Estes Park? I’m trying to remember.

Mark Ferguson:
It is about 50 miles straight east of Estes Park.

Jill DeWit:
Yeah. Okay.

Mark Ferguson:
Yup. We’re on the plains so you drive down the canyon for about 15 miles east of the foothills there. Completely different climates but not that far away.

Jill DeWit:
Got it. That’s [cool 00:02:08]. You can get to the mountains really quickly. I’m sure you probably do some skiing up there, I hope.

Mark Ferguson:
I do snowboard once in a while but with the family, and work, I don’t get up there as much as I should.

Jack Butala:
How the heck did you get in this crazy business, man?

Mark Ferguson:
Actually, I kind of fell into it. I graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder and had a degree in finance. I kind of, sort of was looking for a finance job because I wanted to make a lot of money, and in my youth I thought, “Hey. Finance equals money,” but I couldn’t find one that paid me enough so I thought, “I’ll just work part time for my father,” who was a real estate agent. That turned into full time and lo and behold, here I am.

Jack Butala:
Wow. We talk to a lot of people on the air and off the air and a lot them started in real estate by accident and just stuck with it because they loved it.

Mark Ferguson:
Yeah, and I grew up with it my whole life, and I always said, “I’m never going to be in real estate. I don’t want to have any part in it,” but once I got into it, compared it to my other options, I am really glad I got into real estate.

Jill DeWit:
Ralphy, right?

Mark Ferguson:
Yes. Yup.

Jill DeWit:
Thank you very much.

Mark Ferguson:
The buffalo?

Jill DeWit:
Yes.

Mark Ferguson:
That’s good.

Jill DeWit:
I have a good friend that went to school there so that’s school. I secretly cheer for the buffalos.

Mark Ferguson:
Nice. That’s good to hear.

Jill DeWit:
You know what I love? Your background is a lot like Steven’s background, and one of the things I love and I think that helps makes us successful is that one of us can do math.

Jack Butala:
And it’s not Jill.

No, we just interviewed …

Mark Ferguson:
No, I think …

Jack Butala:
I’m sorry. Go ahead.

Mark Ferguson:
No. Its okay. Numbers and math, I think, are super important if you’re going to be investing at all. You have to know the numbers or have someone who knows the numbers.

Jack Butala:
Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. I always say … I don’t know about your business but … “It’s not so much about the real estate that needs to get analyzed. It’s the transaction.” How you’re financing it, how much money you’re paying in, how much you think you’re going to get out of it. The whole thing. It’s more about that than the actual piece of real estate. Wall paper can be changed out.

Mark Ferguson:
Yes. For sure. The financing, the holding cost, knowing how long everything’s going to take. That’s probably more important than the actual property.

Jack Butala:
What do you look for when you … I know your bio said you flipped a few house or you are 12 or 15. How do you know you’re going to do the deal for sure.

Mark Ferguson:
I actually have 12 flips going right now so I have more than I’ve ever had at any point. Really, what I look for is a house that will give me enough profit that I’m comfortable taking on the risk. I’m not very pick about where it’s at. I prefer lower priced homes because I can buy more of them and the profit margins tend to be a little higher compared to the money I have involved. Of course, the less work involved, the better, but that’s not always possible. I have found that when I get into major, major rehabs, additions, full guts, it takes me too long and too much money to make as much profit as more moderate to light flips.

Jack Butala:
Sounds like you’ve got it worked out. Everybody who comes on this show who’s got a different take on real estate and what their kind of niche is. I ask them this question: How do you source the deals that you choose to do. I’ll tell you why I ask it because that’s our primary business. We have a product called data2doorstep.com, and it helps everybody in this business whether they’re new or seasoned like you purchase or organize and then send out offers through the direct mail using [setures 00:06:01] data to try to get the … Essentially, we buy properties for half price. How do source the deals that meet your acquisition criteria?

Mark Ferguson:
I am in kind of contrary to most people right now. I get 90% of my deals from the MLS still. It helps tremendously, being an agent. I do some direct marketing. I buy it, auction some as well, but most of my deals are MLS, acting fast, really just scoping my area on a daily basis over and over again. It’s how I get most of my deals.

Jack Butala:
That’s awesome. If you have a crystal ball, I’d like to share it with you. Everybody’s got little parts of talent all throughout this industry, and mine’s always been sourcing the deals through direct mail and some other stuff, too, but I’ve always heard of people like you, sourcing properties out of the MLS and picking and choosing the right ones. It’s great.

Mark Ferguson:
Yeah. It takes some time and effort. The number one thing you can do is know your market. If you know your market and knowing what a good deal is, that’s half the battle right there.

Jack Butala:
Right. From a dollar standpoint, just dollars if you’re comfortable talking about it, what do you typically net on a flip?

Mark Ferguson:
My average has been about $33,000 profit on each flip I do.

Jack Butala:
Wow. That’s great.

Mark Ferguson:
Yeah. There are probably some extra costs in there for my team and staff that aren’t directly attributed in there. They’re paid through my real estate team, but from the buy, sell, repair, financing, all of that, it’s about $33,000.

Jack Butala:
That’s great. We’ve got a little bit of a different model. We send the offers out and field it that way. We market up exactly $10,000, and we totally disclose that, and then we’ve got a bunch of people there. They’re unrelated 3rd parties, but we’re all on a first name basis. They do what you do. They take the transaction and flip it. I think, without exception, make way more money than we do, but that’s just no what we’re good at.

Mark Ferguson:
You don’t have to deal with the contractors or all of the rest of it. I don’t think that’s a bad business model, and I bought my first house from a wholesaler this year, actually, which we’re finishing up right now. If I had somebody who just fed me deals, that would be awesome.

Jill DeWit:
That’s what we do so that’s good. I have a question. You do MLS and now wholesaler. Are you considering at some point getting deals before they hit the MLS?

Jack Butala:
Like a listing agent.

Mark Ferguson:
Yes. I have to be careful. As an REO agent and a real estate agent, you have to disclose and do a lot of different work if you’re not buying off the MLS. One thing I get asked a lot is: “Since you’re listing for HUD and you’re listing for these banks, can’t you just cherry pick those houses?” The answer is, “No.” Under no circumstances can I buy those. It’s a complete conflict of interest, but I have done off market campaigns, absentee owner, inherited lists, and we stop doing it so much just because you really have to focus on it. You have to be 100% to do that, and we weren’t 100% on it. We’re kind of halfway doing it. Things weren’t getting done right. It cost a lot of money to run those campaigns. Now, were focusing on the MLS. It’s been working out okay. I don’t want to get too scatter brained.

Jack Butala:
That’s great. You just answered my next 2 questions. We sit here in an office all day running data streams just to find out what the best bang for our buck is wholesaling land and houses we’ve been doing since the 90’s. I totally agree. There’s only 24 hours a day. You’ve got to figure out what you’re going to be good at and spend out those 8 to 10 hours on that, and that’s it.

Mark Ferguson:
Yup. Completely agree or if you’re golfing 4 hours, it depends.

Jack Butala:
What’s next? You’re going to keep flipping houses? Where do you think this market’s going to go in the next 12-24 months?

Mark Ferguson:
I’m in Colorado and our market is insane so we’ve had one of the highest appreciating markets in the country the last 2 years. Here, I think we’re going to slow down. I cannot see it increasing 15 or 20% a year like it has been, simply because there’s a lot of land around here and they’re building more and more. I think they can meet the supply by building without having prices shoot up like they have. Now, other areas of the country, I’m not as familiar with them. I think a lot of it has to with the national economy, how that does, the election, and those are the things that are way above my pay grade. I don’t know to answer those questions. I don’t see a huge crash like we had before. I could definitely see things slowing down in the near future.

Jack Butala:
That’s a pretty good assessment. How many MLS’s are there in Colorado?

Mark Ferguson:
There are 3 or 4. I’ve heard of some states where they have a MLS for every single county. Ours, in my primary area, there’s basically 1 MLS, which makes it easy. Then, Denver kind of has its own MLS, but our MLS’s work together so you can see information from both MLS’s on your MLS so that’s really nice.

Jack Butala:
That’s great. I had a chance for a while to have access to … It was all above boards so the MLS here in Phoenix. If you get in there and really … you can run some pretty cool records and data and find out what’s cheapest per square foot in the whole thing pretty quickly. It’s a really useful tool.

Mark Ferguson:
Right. I’m in an area that has about … There’s probably 100,000 people in my county and we have the lowest inventory we ever had. It’s not tough for me to look at what’s for sale every day because there’s not that much so that makes it nice, too.

Jack Butala:
What’s your ballpark days in market?

Mark Ferguson:
Probably, if you looked at the average, it’s probably 30 days average.

Jack Butala:
Wow, oh my god.

Mark Ferguson:
Yeah. It’s crazy. Most houses that are priced decent are under contract the first 2 days.

Jack Butala:
Wow. That’s a flippers … It almost pays in a market like that to take your time flipping because you’re going to get that much more at the end.

Mark Ferguson:
Right, and it’s been kind of, I call it “enforcing negative habits” sometimes because I have some properties that have taken a year to flip because they had contracts or problems and other issues. It’s made me more money because our market’s gone so crazy. The same time, if you take too long to flip and the market turns, that’s how you get into big trouble.

Jack Butala:
Right. Have you pre-sold something before you’re done?

Mark Ferguson:
I have actually sold a few of mine sort of as wholesale deals where what we’ll do is once I buy a property, I’ll stick a “for sale by owner” sign up in the yard, and if someone comes along before we started working on it and they want to buy it, you know, make me 10 or 20 thousand, I’ll sell it to them. I’ve done a couple times. I don’t like pre-selling them because I want the market to give me the prices worth, and in a market like this, I can usually get more, I think, if I list it than if I sell it before it’s on the market. I don’t mind people competing against each other for that house.

Jill DeWit:
I personally love the get some cash and get out. I kind of like that. That’s brilliant though, put the sign up and then just see what happens. You can take the offer or not take the offer. That’s cool. I think that’s brilliant. We can feed you some deals and run some numbers in that county if you like. Just kidding.

Mark Ferguson:
[crosstalk 00:14:11] One more thing that putting that sign up does, too since I have a real estate team, it gives my agents a ton of buyer leads because buyers are calling on those all the time. I just send that number to my buyer’s agent. It doesn’t go to me. They’ve kind of got people lined up to buy those houses before they’re listed or they can try and sell them another house if those don’t work.

Jack Butala:
We do the same thing. We purchase vacant, raw land for cash by using this mailer method, the data2doorstep method. Almost all of our property’s sold before we buy it because we post it pretty quickly, and we get probably 8 to 10, maybe 20, leads per property so the longer we leave it up … We leave it up as long as we can get away with.

Mark Ferguson:
Nice.

Speaker 5:
Mark, is there a woman in your life that makes sure that you don’t paint these houses purple and gray and stuff?

Mark Ferguson:
There’s a couple. My wife used too. That sounds bad. That’s not how … No.

Jack Butala:
“There’s a couple.” I love it. “And one is my wife.”

Mark Ferguson:
Paint yourself in a corner.

Jill DeWit:
Yeah.

Mark Ferguson:
My wife used to do most of the management of the flips, the contractors, but then we was twins a few years ago so now she pretty much doesn’t too much of that, but I do have 2 people on my team, Nicky and John, who help manage the contractors, help decide what colors to do, keep on track of them because the most difficult job is getting contractors to make repairs quickly, be affordable, and keep doing good word. That’s always probably the biggest struggle I’ve had and why envy you guys selling them so fast and not dealing with that.

Jack Butala:
We help a lot of really new people in this business. One of the things that they come in with … All the time. I see it all the time. … is in their head is they just thing there’s like this silver bullet Utopian type situation, and it’s never like that. If you’re in a market like you’re in … There’s rapid increases in values. There’s always a down side: not finding contractors and all kinds of other stuff. What I try to say is you have to come in with the right attitude. You have to just deal with the situations as they come to get it done.

Mark Ferguson:
Right. I like to call them challenges and think of it just … Life wouldn’t be much fun if we didn’t have challenges and things we had to overcome. You’re right. In an up market like this, they’re building new houses, people have had huge increases in value so they can refinance their house and take cash out and finish the basement or make repairs. Contractors are really hard to find and the really good ones are just charging a ton of money because they can.

Jack Butala:
Yeah. Exactly. I’ve always wondered. I never asked anybody this. You’re a registered HUD agent. How does that go? Do you see a lot of properties that come up in your area that you’re like, “Man. I would just love to buy this, but I can’t.”

Mark Ferguson:
Once in a while, I do. Right now in Colorado, there’s a very HUD homes, very few foreclosures at all because our market’s so strong, but that does happen where once in a while like, “Oh man. That’s a great house. I wish I could buy that one,” but at the same time, I’m making more money on the commissions, on volume, and giving leads to my agents by being a HUD agent than I would by picking up that deal here and there. With HUD, nobody in my office, no agents, none of my family members or any of my agents’ family members can purchase a HUD home so they are very strict about that.

Jack Butala:
Right. You’re a broker, I’m assuming.

Mark Ferguson:
I am, but I’m actually not the office broker so I have my own team within the office. I don’t really want to be managing 40 different agents. I like just managing my team.

Jack Butala:
Does HUD license brokerages or the individual agents?

Mark Ferguson:
The way HUD works is your broker is the register listing agent with HUD, so just your managing broker, and he can designate an agent or broker within the office to be the main point of contact. Technically, our broker is a person registered with HUD, but I’m the main point of contact with them.

Jack Butala:
Would you recommend it to other agents. This is a pretty good racket?

Mark Ferguson:
It is an awesome gig if you can get it, but it’s not something that comes easy. It takes a lot of experience. They actually are redoing some of the states for asset managers who handle HUD, and they hire the agents. The proposal I just submitted was about 60 pages long to get approved again. It is not something that’s easy. Yeah, it takes work, but it is a great gig if you can get into it.

Jack Butala:
I have good buddy who’s a government contractor, and he’s famous for saying, “Everybody complains about a $900 toilet seat,” but he’s like, “if you want to come over to my office, I’ll show exactly why the government pays $900 for a toilet seat.” It’s paper work and discussion and the whole thing.

Mark Ferguson:
I see some of the thing they will bid out, the proper preservation companies who do the work on HUD homes, they pay them almost nothing. It is crazy how cheap they pay those guys. They probably make $10 an hour to average it out. They get a ton of volume and you kind of get what you pay for. I don’t see that on my end with HUD. I know it’s out there with other government agencies, but they are pretty viscal with the HUD homes and the way they work those.

Jack Butala:
What’s it like to have twins?

Mark Ferguson:
It’s awesome. I know people always say, “Oh my god. I couldn’t imagine it. How much work is it?” but my wife and I always say, “It might be easier than having 2 kids at different ages because when they’re twins, they’re always doing the same thing at the same stage in life so you’re not having to do 2 different things with each kid all the time.” We didn’t know any different. We don’t have any other kids. To us, it wasn’t too difficult. We really liked it. I know some other people haven’t had as good a luck as us, but I like it. I think it’s really cool.

Jill DeWit:
I got to ask. Are they the same gender? What are you … Girls? Boys?

Mark Ferguson:
They’re boy, girl, which worked out perfect for us.

Jill DeWit:
That’s kind of good so you’re done right?

Mark Ferguson:
Yup.

Jill DeWit:
Now, you’ve got one of each. Quit while we’re ahead. That’s cool. That’s good. Did you name them something cute like Jack and Jill?

Mark Ferguson:
No. They’re Brecken and Kaya.

Jill DeWit:
Aw. Very cool. That’s awesome.

Jack Butala:
How old are they now?

Mark Ferguson:
They are almost 5. June 1st, they’ll be 5.

Jack Butala:
Did you give them hammers yet and stuff?

Mark Ferguson:
Not yet, but the other day, Bracken was talking about flipping houses and how he’s not sure how you can flip a house upside down and still live in it so I thought that was pretty cute.

Jack Butala:
Is it great? There’s a bunch of pictures on the Internet of people that have built houses upside down. You should show him.

Mark Ferguson:
I will.

Jack Butala:
Actually, I’ll Skype one, too, when we’re done here. I wrote a blog about flipping houses. It did really well just because of that silly picture.

Mark Ferguson:
Nice. I haven’t seen that yet.

Jack Butala:
Hey. Do you nickname your flips silly stuff like “Radioactive House” and “Ultra Mold House” and “Barking Dog House” like we did?

Mark Ferguson:
I don’t. There’s some houses I call names that I can’t repeat on the air, but it’s not cute. It’s frustration. On my rental properties, my wife names them all animal names. We have like “Alpaca Way” and “Llama Lane” and “Badger Boulevard” so she did name all those cool names.

Jill DeWit:
I love it. Let’s spin the funniest that you’ve walked and just went, “You’ve got to be kidding me,” that you’ve seen before you did a renovation. What’s some crazy stories?

Mark Ferguson:
I’ve had crazier stories on house that I didn’t buy. Probably the craziest one was I did a BPO, which is Broker Price Opinion, for a bank on a short sale. It took me forever to set up the appointment. I had to go inside. I go to the house, and I could smell pet odor, probably, from the street before I get to the house. I get in there, and there were literally like 20 dogs in the house, running around. They did not clean up at all after them. It’s not really a funny story but more of a sad story. After I had done that, I called animal control and like, “Yeah. We know that house. It’s just we couldn’t get a warrant because there’s not enough information.” I sent them pictures and they did a warrant, and they found like 75 animals in that house. It was like a 1,000 square foot ranch and like 20 dead animals. It was crazy. The neighbor had lost their dog, and these people just took it and kept it for 6 months. The neighbor got their dog back so that was a good part of that story.

Jill DeWit:
That was nice. It’s such a little happy ending there. Oh, that’s crazy.

Mark Ferguson:
Yeah. I didn’t buy that one. It was on the market for a long time before that house sold. That was a mess.

Jack Butala:
Joe and I were just in Los Angeles and we did the Warner Brothers tour, like the back studio tour of the expensive one where they take all through the studio, and there’s this show called “2 Broker Girls”. I don’t know if you’re familiar with it.

Mark Ferguson:
Yup.

Jack Butala:
We went on a set of that thing and so one of the characters in this story is … It’s a horse. They live in a tiny, little apartment in Manhattan, but there’s a horse in the back yard. Dude, that horse lives in the studio.

Mark Ferguson:
Seriously?

Jack Butala:
Yeah. I just …

Mark Ferguson:
That’s for environment right?

Jack Butala:
I don’t know how they get away with that. There’s a lot of organization that their whole life is all about making sure stuff like that doesn’t happen. They’re on like once a way, national TV.

Mark Ferguson:
That is crazy.

Jack Butala:
The tour guy said, “Yeah. We’ve been through a bunch of horses because horses aren’t supposed to live in a TV studio.”

Mark Ferguson:
Yeah.

Jill DeWit:
Good.

Jack Butala:
Jill’s kick … She just kicked my shins twice.

Anyway, it was great speaking with you, Mark Ferguson. Where can we find you on the Internet.

Mark Ferguson:
Yeah. I think you mentioned it. Investfourmore.com is my blog. That’s the number 4 spelled out F-O-U-R. I’ve written something like 400 articles that are on there. I do my own podcasts as well, got some YouTube videos. I like to talk about my investing, being a real estate agent, all types of different things on there. That’s the best way to find me.

Jack Butala:
Great. It’s great speaking with you, Mark.

Mark Ferguson:
Thank you so much. Glad to be on this show.

Jill DeWit:
Thank you Mark.

Speaker 5:
Have a great rest of the year, man.

Mark Ferguson:
All right. You, too.

Jill DeWit:
Oh my goodness. I should’ve asked him about smoking weed there, and we had it. He walked in and he like, “Crazy Weed House” in Colorado.

Jack Butala:
Oh, Jill.

Jill DeWit:
I’m like what a nice guy, so Colorado and laid back, and I’m like, “Oh, yeah.” Maybe that’s why. If I had twins, I might be doing that a lot to calm myself down.

Jack Butala:
That’s hilarious.

No. He seemed like a really good guy. He’s got his niche all worked out. He’s really young.

Jill DeWit:
Yeah. That was really cool. He’s got it figured out. He grew up in it and got a good degree, and it’s awesome.

Jack Butala:
We should’ve talked about it on the air, but when you get listings from the federal government through HUD and stuff like that, it’s a lot of work, but you know you’re getting paid. You have the pay check piece covered, and then he’s doing these flips on the side, probably banking it all. Doesn’t spend any of it on overhead or anything because the other stuff pays for it. That’s kind of what we do. Bread and butter’s our land. It always has been. It’s our pay check. Just knocking on the park on some of this other stuff, these SFR flips or wholesales and stuff.

Jill DeWit:
It’s like gravy.

Jack Butala:
Yeah.

Jill DeWit:
I like that. He was really good. I’m glad we talked to him. I’m curious more about his business. I might have to go … You know what I was thinking, too? I am hitting my head that I’ve questioned the why wait until it hits the MLS. He did say it’s a lot of work, and he has to watch it everyday. He knows his business. He knows what he’s doing. I’d rather just let them call me.

Jack Butala:
That’s a great point. He addressed it. He said, “Yeah. We’ve done that before, and it’s a lot of work,” and it is a lot of work, but if he took the HUD and the fix and flip side of his business, like we do, it’s not a lot of work at all.

Jill DeWit:
That further backs up, let’s just say, why we do what we do and he does what he does. He just said, “I just got one from a wholesaler.” Bingo. What he does, I don’t really want to do, and what we do, he’s not really set up to do so we can all work really well together.

Jack Butala:
You know I’m impressed that you actually mentally showed up for that at all because I thought you were just sort of sitting there just day dreaming like you’re in middle school.

Jill DeWit:
No. I love Colorado. I love everything about Colorado. I love the people in Colorado. I have friends in Colorado, and I think Colorado’s awesome.

Jack Butala:
I was just thinking, Jill, while he was talking, that we’ve been to Utah multiple times in the last year in multiple types of little vacations. We’re killing it in California. Clearly have Arizona covered. I haven’t been to New Mexico in a while, but I know the state really well because I used to go to tax deed auctions all the time, but I have not spent enough time in Colorado, and it’s just as close. Maybe closer than a lot of these places. Oh, and Nevada, too. We’ve been all through Nevada.

Jill DeWit:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Exactly. We need to go back and spend some time there especially in the summer. I actually like Colorado almost better in the summer. It’s so pretty. So cool.

Jack Butala:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). We used to have a … and I won’t get into it, but I had a …

Jill DeWit:
No. Tell us.

Jack Butala:
I had a piece of commercial real estate for really quite some time, a long term care facility. It did really well. Now, I don’t, and I’m glad.

Jill DeWit:
Because this is better.

Jack Butala:
Let’s go buy some property.

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