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The real estate investing industry is going through a major change:

Slapping up bandits signs saying, “We buy houses” with your phone number no longer cuts it. And if you’re not feeling the changes in the industry yet, they’ll be knocking on your door soon.

But don’t worry.

In this episode, today’s guest, founder of Black Girl Buys Houses and branding expert, Sunday McIlwain, reveals how to use your brand to stand out in cutthroat markets.

Want to protect your real estate investing business through the market changes? Listen now.

Show highlights include: 

  • How to use your personality to attract your ideal clients and behead your competitors (1:20)
  • Why relying on bandit signs to fund your investing business is like relying on your pocket change to fund your vacation (and the trick to make your bandit signs profitable and persuasive) (11:11)
  • The “Lingo Secret” for creating an instant impact with your branding that sends clients to you instead of chasing them down (12:19)
  • The branding mistake most real estate investors commit today which bankrupts their business prematurely (14:20)

Want to discover more branding secrets from Sunday or join an investors group? Check out her website here: https://blackgirlsbuyhouses.com/. Or follow her on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/blackgirlsbuyhouses2/ or LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/therealsunday/

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

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

Read Full Transcript

You're listening to the REI marketing nerds podcast, the leading resource for real estate investors who want to dominate their market online. Dan Barrett is the founder of 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.

(00:41): All right. Hello and welcome to this week's episode of the REI marketing nerds podcast as always. This is Daniel Barrett here from Edwards nerds.com. And this week I have an absolutely killer interview for you. I'm talking with Sunday McElwain from black girls, buy houses.com. Now look, I had a ton of fun talking with Sunday. I think you're gonna have a ton of fun listening to her, but one of the things I really want you to listen for during this interview in terms of like really getting into like brass tack of marketing, finding more leads and deals for your online real estate investing business, right? This is what we're talking about. Sunday is doing one of the better jobs I have seen in this industry of branding herself and her business. She brings a hundred percent of her personality to what she does, and not only does that make her stand out in her market that makes people want to reach out and work with her.

(01:42): And I think you'll find that like all the way down to her business model and how she incorporates her sense of personal ethics into what she does. She's just doing a world class job of understanding the importance of branding in real estate investing. So if you are thinking about getting onto social media, you are thinking about redesigning your website, you are thinking about how do I increase the response rate on my mail or on my signs, or even on my online advertising, right? Which of course you're doing with Edwards nerds.com, but anything that you are doing in your marketing, you will be able to get something of value from this conversation between Sunday and I. So without any further ado, let's get into my interview with Sunday MWA from black girls, buy houses.com Sunday. Welcome to the show. Thank you so much for coming on. I really appreciate it. Oh, Thank you so much, Dan, for having me. Yeah, I, uh, I have been really looking forward to this call. We were actually talking about it right before we pressed record, but you have a brand new website up, so I'm gonna take a moment and say, everyone should go check out the new website. So it's black girls buy houses. Yes. Black girls buy houses.com. You can go there and check it out. It is like, as of this recording, like this must have just went up like last week, right? So it's brand new. Yeah.

(03:05): This earlier this week. Um, actually no late, late last week. I can't really remember, but it's for a That's. Okay. That is the awesome website alarm that's going off because I, I wanna say like, it is like, uh, I was checking, we were checking it out right before we, we pressed record and it's very cool looking. It's got a really nice design, like before I started doing paper, collect marketing and ads and all stuff. I was doing web design. Like that was how I was, you know, freelancing or whatever. And like, we were kind of joking this like pretty much every real estate investor website looks exactly the same and yours looks really different and cool. So I highly highly recommend that people go check it out. Black girls, buy houses, go check it out. You know, make it, make yourself feel bad about your own website, I guess.

(03:53): Yes, absolutely. Cause, um, I absolutely wanted my website to be, um, unique and definitely a representation of me and the business business. Like mine that we buy houses, we buy ugly houses. I found that my competition's website was like you said, looking the same. You just go to the website and it's just put your address on there. Yes. We buy houses and like basically breaking down the process. So my website gives you a deeper dive into myself, the background behind the business, you know, obviously yes, you can tell me about your home and your, your problems, but definitely a breakdown of every single distress problem that we, that we resolve at black girls by houses, um, dealing with homeowners and buying houses. And for those that actually invest in real estate, there's gonna be a unique feature on there, um, that you need a specific password or so I'm looking for that feature to be on their experience.

(04:51): Oh, alright. So this is for people who are getting into investing or already invest for investors. Okay. So that is a million things I wanna ask about this. And actually I really do wanna dig into how you think about your branding and the way that you present yourself online. Cause I think you do a really, really good job of it. And I have a million things that I wanna ask about there before we jump into that. Okay. Let's start with you a little bit. Walk me through the sort of origin story of black girls buy houses. Like what, what was your background like, how did you get even involved in real estate? Right? Like it's, it's, it's funny cuz it's like, I, I, I feel like we often forget this, but like not many people really know what real estate investing is or like, even that I didn't know, it existed before I started working with investors and I was like, this sounds illegal. It can't possibly be, you know, it just doesn't, it doesn't make any sense, like the regular person. Right. So what was your sort of on ramp into real estate investing and how did that lead you to starting this company in black girls? By house?

(05:52): Okay. So it started six months after I graduated from undergrad. I graduated in 2015 and all I knew prior to real estate is okay. People, houses, you know, via HG Parents did own all I knew. I knew obviously people make not necessarily make money, but people rent property, but didn't really think of the profit and the, uh, the size in the, in the multitude that, um, multi invest, uh, multifamily investing get into. So long story short, I went, I was up at three o'clock in the morning. My, my, uh, undergrad degree is in social work. And um, down, I went to Virginia state university. I love my HBCU. And unfortunately, with my degree, you don't make that much money. You make about $30,000 in Richmond, Virginia, and Petersburg, Virginia. You're making like $17,000. So I was like, Hey, As a social worker, you're saying as A social worker, and this is what the master's degree too. So I was like, wow, you know, the math is not adding and that's it in school. They definitely taught as algebra in X in the stressing. And they were seeking in 20, were more on the mental health side. And my social work experience was one on the education side. OK. So I, um, at three o'clock in the morning and said, Hey, do you wanna be a real estate investor? And I'm like, yes, I do. And they're like, Hey, come to this class.

(07:32): So who said, this's like an ad that you saw at three in the morning In the, you know, all the, the shows go off as info. Like, Hey, are you ready to get started? All the best stuff is advertised at three in the morning. I get it. Yeah, absolutely. So I knowing so's likes to Richmond and get started. So I know a lot people have heard of those programs out there, but yes, I went through that, um, that program and it's like almost the best money. I mean, I will not say almost it is the best money I ever spent to learn about real estate investing. And I will say they did not leave any rock unturned. Um, Do you remember like who ran the seminar? Like, do you remember? They still, oh Yeah. So I went through Scott and Amy EY, a flipping Vegas. Okay. Alright cool.

(08:22): Yeah, they were on A and E and I went to Vegas. Um, I got to see them and it was like this whole amazing experience. Um, and I think three, half the time, and then, you know, probably some people on here, like, Hey, how did you get the money even participate in the class? But unfortunately my parents passed away and before my mom died, she said, okay, I'm leaving you money, but please don't go on trips. Don't go shopping, invest your money, do things wisely. Cause I'm not here. I'm the only child just please be responsible with the money I'm leaving. So I took that money and I, and I took the class and I kind of never looked back up expense and that was all the money I had from her. And I, I just took risks from that point forward to make black girls house, black girls buy houses.

(09:05): So in the beginning, you know, obviously a lot of classes they tell you to, okay, you have to buy your LLC. You, uh, have to buy materials and, or by the software to even get particular houses, you know, the houses. And since my money was dwindling and I was just freshly outta college, I was like, this is not working for me. I can't spend, you know, 500 each month on software when I have rent to pay bills. And, um, I was still working somewhat, but honestly, like I was just living off my, with off my mom's money and I was like, OK, I'm gonna be successful in real estate. So right. And you're basically on a ticking clock at this point. Right. Because you said just like you spent most of the money even just to do the class and it's like, you're sort of, yeah. You can feel the deadline getting closer. Right. So yeah, that must have been like super stressful. So, oh, so I kinda missed the part. So with that program, I did end up selling or whole, my first house in the first 73 days. Wow.

(10:06): Yes. So I was very impressed by, okay. They didn't the info do in a short period of time. Right. You know, it wasn't, it wasn't a flute. So I was like fulltime job and money. I've made that particular time. No, for than being a real agent, Didn't sell, sell a house for a long period of time. I was doing the traditional route as far as making signs to say, we buy houses or writing short notes to say, Hey, I'll buy your house. Uh, call me right Sunday with the date. And I was just not getting any, any calls up. So I kind of got frustrated with myself and said, okay, well it's time to be responsible. Cause I am an adult. Let me go get a job. So I did go get a job for, uh, a year as a fourth grade teacher. I loved it. But then I was just like, you know what? This is not my calling real estate is my calling. Right. Um, I went on vacation that year and um, I pretty much was asking God like, okay, what can I do? Well, really my, my prayer was what can I put on a sign? That's not, we buy houses and people can gravitate to just like, you know, everyone gravitates to, and they say we buy houses and they see like a little rat sign. They're like, well, how can you buy a house if you're riding on a piece of cardboard? Right. So

(11:32): It is sort of like looks a little bit like a random letter, but instead you're saying you wanna buy my house. So it's always been kind of an interesting thing. Yeah. So, okay. So you were, you were saying, what can I put on a sign? That's gonna make me stand out from, you know, there must have been, were you investing in DC at that time? Um, yeah, so, so I came back to DC and, and the DC market compared to original market is, you know, night and day. So it's a lot more competition up here. Very different. Yeah. In DC too. It's like, you have to be connected. Like, you know, you have to know, know people and, and that's kind of how you gravitate, but I, I didn't know anybody in the real estate feel, everyone that I know primarily in DC worked from the government and they don't have any real estate experience. Right. OK.

(12:17): Yeah. So I guess while I was on the plane, you know, while you're sitting there not really doing anything, I've thought about lingo. So lingo was one of my favorite TV shows growing up. So I know if anybody knows, but lingo, you've got a letter and then you've got boxes and so you would have to house. So what other H words are five letters will be like fourth and you Just keep oh, OK. So you're trying to think of, yeah. Trying to think of different things that fit into the yeah, yeah. Almost kind of like Wordle is now almost right. And yeah. Okay. Got gotcha. So I ended up just, okay. So, so I houses and stuff, so I don't want longer than houses. So I dunno, just naturally I dunno. I just came up with black girls by, cause they were all five, five letters. And I said, OK, soon as I get, when I get, um, you know, the same, I started out with the same signs, spray, paint them yellow and black girls by houses, my telephone number on it. And honestly people called me literally almost immediately. Like, they're like, so what do you do? You know, what do

(13:20): You're Necessarily asking? Can they sell their house? They're like, I just love your sign. Like what made you, you know, put it, yeah. So, um, through that sign, I up meeting my, uh, the developer do project management for, and, and black girls by houses kinda has just been growing since then. So I guess I, I still work as a project manager just so I can still be like hands on in real estate. But I have my, my virtual business, um, black girls by houses and it's, it's just, it's wonderful. And then, so I'm still obviously doing marketing online, um, making myself present and it's just become more prevalent online since the pandemic, you know, since, you know, we couldn't go nowhere, um,

(14:06): Literally had to, right. It was like a good timing because yeah. It's just as hard to do anything in person. Yeah. So I wanna, I wanna hit on this, this story a little bit, because I didn't know that story like before I, I asked. Right. But it is literally the perfect, it is the picture. Perfect illustration of the impact of branding on your business trajectory. Right. And I, I have been on this show for a long time now talking about how investing is going through this transition, where if you look at historically how investors have always marketed, it's just like what you're doing, the signs, the postcards, direct mail. And essentially what all those things do is tell someone what an investor does. Yeah. Who does an investor? Do I buy houses? I want to buy your house. We buy houses. That's all it is, is a description of the business model, which is exactly the right form of marketing when investors are novel and you don't really know what an investor is.

(15:13): And there aren't many of 'em right. When there are a lot of investors, right? So like you go to DC, the competition level is much higher. It's not enough to say I buy houses because yeah. There's like those other 10 people also buy houses. Right. It becomes a matter of why should I sell my house to you rather than to this other person, which is correct. The differentiation question. Right. And so you hit on this thing where you're like, I, I can't just have the sign that says every, the same thing that everybody else says. And so you hit on this black girls by houses thing, which like you said, is like, it's instantly different. Yes. And so people want to engage with it. I just, I find that story. Like I get, I'm getting like goosebumps from hearing this story, which is weird. I think this just, maybe my life is really boring and this is the kind of thing that I really like, but it's like, I just find that totally incredible.

(16:04): So like, I'm curious, right. Like thinking about it now, and we're sort of jumping the story a little bit, cuz I do want to get into the actual business model, black girls, my houses, you guys do a lot of interesting stuff. Right. But like thinking about it now, do you find that PE like when you talk, you guys talk to sellers or you talk to people that, you know, wanna invest or, you know, just talk to people that are engaging with the business is the identity of the business of big part of why they decide to do that. Is it because like they see themselves in the business, is it they're like, well, I just you're D like, is that a big part of why people choose to work with you either as a seller and investor or whatever?

(16:43): Um, I think they, they come to work with me because of curiosity, um, to see how I'm different. I will say that once you talk to me on the phone, even though previously on, on my website, it seemed, I guess, a light to my, to my competition. But, but now once you get, get me on the phone, I, I do free consultations. I kind of let everyone know, excuse me. I kind let everyone know what my, what my goals are or what my goals are for them, whether they work for me or not. Um, and kinda what look out for if they, if they work with me or continue to, uh, move forward. Yeah. And also I would say there, well also who I made black, white house there, there's not a lot of African American investors out there. Um, you know, and, and, and maybe your audience knows it doesn't know there's a large gap of between home ownership, um, between, you know, uh, white, you know, majority and, and minorities.

(17:46): So it's it it's honestly, I just try to make myself as much as marketable as possible. Get those people, especially, uh, African Americans to understand these situations that they, that they gotten into, you know, know Orly. Cause when my mom passed away, she died without. So that also made me get into, you know, the, any real estate earlier than I expected to, even before that, that commercial, um, cause she didn't have a, well, we had to go through the probate process and it was very new to me at 20. And so I was like, wow, people dunno this at 20. Because even though I was 20, those around me still wasn't familiar cause they still have their parents homes. So I was like, Hey, if those people don't know I have to be the one to teach them. So that's kind of how my, my model and my business started to say, Hey, I, I wanna help people understand real estate on, on a side.

(18:39): That's not necessarily taught to them on, on, on a realtor side. And even when I meet realtors, I, I love realtors, but it, it bothers me that they don't teach that or, or that's not a part of their job or their ethics is to let people know that, okay, you don't have to, you know, sell, you know, sell yourself short there's other options before selling your house or, you know, save yourself. It's just, it's just options to save none, necessarily your house, but your finances. Um, so that you're able to move into an apartment, um, or just put yourself in a better financial state later on, as you are saving and um, maybe downsizing. Um, so you're not over, you know, your, your debt to income ratio, um, yeah. Type thing. Hey guys, hope you enjoyed part one of this episode. It's just too good to limit to one show. Join us next week to hear the rest.

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