Some think that you need a hefty sum in order to start investing in real estate. To break that notion, Danielle Pierce joins Moneeka Sawyer in this episode. Danielle is the founder of Real Estate Profit Lab, which focuses on tax liens and property preservation. Here, she talks about her strategies on how you can start investing in real estate with minimum capital the way she’s always been doing it. Danielle also shares her wisdom and insight on what you need to identify when thinking of starting your own entrepreneurial journey in order to maximize your chances of success.
I am excited to talk to Danielle Pierce. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Danielle has an Accounting degree, which she has not utilized in over twelve years. She began her entrepreneurial career after a sudden layoff from her corporate audit position. This is one of those things that happen so often. We think our jobs are stable and then we get laid off or something happens. This is a great story for you, ladies, to take in. Danielle took this as a sign from the heavens that she was meant to be a full-time entrepreneur. Although she did look back at a time or two, she has held onto the reins of entrepreneurship and never plans to let go. Danielle’s online courses and group training programs teach aspiring business owners how to establish and grow profitable six-figure enterprises within the real estate industry outside of sales. Danielle is a proud member of the Forbes Real Estate Council. Danielle, welcome to the show. How are you?
Moneeka, it’s awesome to be here and thank you for having me.
I’ve been ready for this conversation because your topic is so awesome. We’re finally chatting. Tell us a little bit about your story. How did you get into this?
The quick and dirty version of my backstory was like a lot of people, I had the idea that I was going to go to college, get a job and break the glass ceiling. I wanted to be a partner in a public accounting firm at the time, which when I was doing my accounting degree was the big six. Now there are only four. That shows you how old I am. I started working and I did not like it. I hated it very early on. I would go to work and people would be there complaining about how much they didn’t like their job, their bosses, and their coworkers. They’d been there for years. I said to myself, “This is not going to work for you.” Long story short, after I left one position, I went to another job thinking it would be even better or somewhat less boring. I left public accounting to go into internal audit and it was the worst thing ever. I was like, “This is so boring. I hate it here.”
It’s funny because your personality is so vibrant. I can’t even imagine you in accounting or auditing.
I was working at Equity Office at the time, which was owned by Sam Zell, who used to own a bunch of stuff in Chicago. He’s a famous Chicago billionaire and they were doing layoffs. I was like, “I want to be laid off from this job. I want to get in that pile and get the severance package because I’m ready to be an entrepreneur.” I got what I asked for and then I wasn’t ready. It was awful for the next five years as I struggled to try to figure out what being an entrepreneur even looks on a day-to-day life. I had these ideas in my head. They were far out of alignment with reality that it wasn’t even funny. It took me a lot to figure that out. When I finally did start to figure it out, I would never go back to being in corporate. That’s why I say I’ve held onto the reins for many years. That’s my plan.
It’s interesting because it is true that once you’re out, no matter what you go through, the entrepreneurial journey is not an easy one. I always say it’s the best personal development program in the world. It asks you to step forward to be your very best self. You have to grow. Even so, no matter what challenges you go through, it’s gratifying. You never want to go back.
I agree with that wholeheartedly. It’s hard to go back. Once you have freedom, you can’t go back to asking for permission to go on vacation. I’m not there anymore.
The other thing is when I have tried to go back, I wasn’t able to grow as much in the position when I was under somebody else with their expectations. Their expectations are very different than my expectations of myself. It felt very limiting also. I always tell my ladies there are a million ways to make $1 million in real estate. Talk to me a little bit about tax liens versus flipping versus wholesaling and what your favorite is and why.
I’ve been in real estate for many years. I’ve tried a bunch of different things. Initially, I did like a lot of people. I had an idea and I would say, “I’m going to do that.” I would start it, it got hard and then I would stop and do something different. I did that for the first four years or so. I was like, “I’m going to do short sales. I’m going to be working with buyers. I like helping first-time buyers.” That definitely was not my ministry because for me, buying a home is very transactional and straightforward. For most people, there’s a lot of emotion involved.[bctt tweet=”Once you have freedom in the entrepreneurial lifestyle, it’s hard to go back to corporate.” via=”no”]
As a real estate agent, you’re like a marriage counselor/social worker and all these different hats you have to wear in order to close. If you don’t close, you don’t get paid. I was like, “This whole model is not working for me at all.” I stopped working with buyers and I said, “I wanted to work with sellers and help them sell their home.” It’s also very emotional because people think their home always is worth more money than what it’s worth. I got tired of that. I tried to do loan modifications. I partnered with a company that helped people do loan modification. I was a dabbler and now I look back and I’ve realized that dabbling is not the way to go. Not just in real estate but in anything. You have to focus on one thing. I tried all those things and I had mediocre results at best. I finally decided that I was going to stick with the repairing and maintaining the bank-owned properties. Also, tax lien investing came a couple of years after that. That’s been my path. It’s always in real estate but I never focused until about 2013 or so.
How do you find the bank-owned properties?
In order to do that particular business, you have to have a business of your own setup. There’s a background check that you need to complete. It’s the criminal background check. It’s not credit-based. There are 3 or 4 different types of insurance that you may need. The fourth one is workman’s comp insurance, which you may or may not need depending upon where you live and depending upon the company that you choose to partner with. From there, you’re applying. There are about ten national companies that are pretty solid, pay on time, no issues with dealing with their contractors and pretty straightforward companies. There are dozens if not hundreds of other smaller local mom and pop companies where you’ve got to stay away from. You want to get a contract with a national company. From there, you select a covered area that you want to cover. It can be a specific county, a set of zip codes or the entire state. All the work that those properties need in your assigned area is work that you can do if you’re well-versed in working in the field or you can hire a team to do it for you.
The companies that you are working with, they’re the people that have access to the REOs?
That’s correct. It used to be back in the day that you would work directly with say Bank of America, Wells Fargo or Chase. As you know, this is the outsource, information, digital age/economy and all of the above. What those big banks have done, they outsource everything to what’s called servicing companies. My contracts are with servicing companies. The people that I help and work with also get their own contracts with the servicing company. That company has the authority to handle everything for that property, including the sale of the property. For what I do, we don’t do the selling part but we get it ready for sale. Once it sells, it moves over and then we find another property, and rinse and repeat.
I’ve never heard that strategy before. Is that one your favorites or is the tax lien one your favorite?
The property preservation is my favorite. Tax lien investing is my favorite too though. The thing that I love and hate about tax lien investing is that there’s a lot of hurry up and wait. For tax lien investing, you pick the areas where you want to invest, and then you say, “The auction is on this day. I’m going to Chicago to register for a sale that’s happening in Indiana in April.” Now I’m going to go register. The list is out. I’ll search for properties and then I’m waiting until the sale. The sale comes and everything’s supercharged and all this adrenaline. You then win a bid or if you don’t, then you’re waiting again for the redemption period to pass. There’s all this excitement and then wait. At the end of the day, you’ll either have a property free and clear or you won’t have the property, but you’ll receive back the money that you paid, plus whatever the statutory interest is, plus attorney’s fees as well.
Is it possible that houses go on sale for auction for $500?
It is. The one that I’m going to in Indiana, the starting bid is $500 and that sale is April 7th through the 9th. There are only about 700 properties on the list and probably 10,000 what are repeat properties that have been through multiple auctions. When you start digging into some of these auctions that take place, you’ll find that some properties run through the auction over and over, which means that no one wants the property. The highest I’ve seen is nine times it has been up for sale and nine times, no one has bid on it.
In the EXTRA portion of the show, we’re going to do a real deep dive on the specific steps on how to get started. Can you give us a high level on what’s the best way to get started in real estate, doing what you’re doing?
For property preservation, I would say to establish a company would be the number one thing. From there, figure out an area that you want to cover and figure out if you have the skillset either to do the work yourself. If you’re outsourcing, then to be able to remotely hire contractors and manage the jobs remotely as well. Those are the strongest skillsets. Just like all parts of real estate, finding contractors is always going to be the most challenging part of that particular industry. For tax sales, I would identify first how much you have to invest, what your end game is, and then select a location that best aligns with how much money you have and what your goal is.
There are ethical implications with the tax lien business. Do you want to talk a little bit about that?
The latest story that came out was out of Detroit. I didn’t read all the articles that were available. Essentially it looks like the property owners in Detroit were overtaxed to the point where a lot of their properties were auctioned off and they should not have been. I saw a number that’s at $600 million but I’m not quite sure. The ethical implications are that people are down on their luck. They’re not able to pay their property taxes on time. Here comes a group of investors or vultures, depending upon your perspective. They come in and they buy the properties essentially, in some cases, for the amount of back taxes that are owed.
There is a way to approach the tax lien investing like all the other aspects of real estate without being a vulture. I do believe America is a capitalistic society, so I’m not against capitalism. I am against hyper-capitalism though. By that I mean going in and buying hundreds of tax lien certificates, displacing hundreds of people, and then either letting the property sit without doing any work or buying properties in areas. For example, in Indiana there is a casino that’s going to be built soon. In 2019, there was this huge scandal where the FBI got involved because there was one investor who bought 550 tax lien certificates. They had insider information they used to know where they should get the certificates from. They did that. The FBI got involved and the FBI is probably still in the office now. It has been a year-long investigation. You can approach it though in a way that’s not that unsavory and that allows people an opportunity to either repay the amount of money that they owe or you can maybe let them live there. You can negotiate the rent. You don’t have to go and evict people and do whatever you want to do.
Part of blissful investing is about sticking with your ethics and your values because you still have to live with yourself. You still have to look in the mirror. You still have to feel good about what you’re doing. It is true that there are a lot of investors that all they care about is the dollar. From my perspective, that has never been satisfying. Eventually, it catches up with you if you’re doing unethical things. I love that there’s starting to be an awareness of this and that you’re very aware and that you speak out against that thing. I know my ladies agree with me on this. Bliss is about sticking with your values and being joyful about what you’re doing and helping people. For me, I love it when I can do a deal that helps people.
There’s a way to do that and make money. The misconception sometimes is that if you’re making money doing something, you’re inherently bad or evil, or there has to be something wrong with what you’re doing. There’s a way to do both if you’re committed to it.
Sometimes you have to make hard decisions. You have to make a decision based on values rather than how many dollars you’re going to make. Sometimes it’s not awesome and it does test you, but if you stay consistent, that builds you a sustainable business. A business that you can feel joyful and blissful about, a business that you can keep going long-term, a business that can make you a huge amount of money long-term, rather than focusing on those short-term gains. It’s a turn and burn. If you’re doing unethical, unethical things, you have to hustle the rest of your life. This has been informative so far. I’m excited to hear your deep dive on how to get started in EXTRA. Before we move into the ending part of this show, could you tell my readers how they can get in touch with you?
My website is DaniellePierce.com. I also have a pretty engaged Facebook Group, which is Real Estate Profit Lab with Danielle Pierce, and then I also have a YouTube channel as well. I have started getting into YouTube a lot more consistently and it’s been a lot of fun. YouTube is where I do a lot of my giveback. Anything that I’m going to offer that I want people to know or something that is super impactful that I want to offer to people without expecting anything in return, I do that on YouTube. In any of those platforms is fine.
Speaking of gifts, I know that you’ve got a gift for my audience too. Do you want to talk about that a little bit?
For this lovely audience, we have two classes because I am a huge proponent of laser focus and specialization. This is applicable to real estate and also whatever else any of you ladies may be doing, the key to getting the results that you want and achieving certain higher levels of success is to devote your attention to one thing. In my case, it’s still real estate. I have an online course for property preservation, which is super amazing. I also have a course for tax lien investing too. I have about 300 five-star reviews across a variety of platforms, 100 on Google My Business, 100 on the Facebook page, another 100 on the course platform. I’m sure Moneeka can attest to the fact that it is very difficult sometimes to get people to leave any feedback, let alone positive feedback. People are like, “I’ll get to it,” and then they never do.[bctt tweet=”If a property runs through the auction over and over, it means that no one wants that property.” via=”no”]
There are 300 of those, but the courses are typically $1,997, almost $2,000. For this audience, if they were going to do another fourteen-day run after this is published, it’ll be 50% off using the discount code, which is going to be “bliss.” It will reduce the course price by 50% on either course. One will teach you how to establish a business to get contracts, to repair and maintain foreclosed properties. The other one will show you how to invest in tax and certificates. Right now, it’s 23 states and those states are listed on the website. You’ll be able to see not all 50 because my brain is overloading with information. I’m capped right now at 23, but I do intend to get to all 50.
Thank you. What’s the website to go get that and to use the code “bliss”?
You’re going to head over to RealEstateProfitLab.com. You’ll see only two courses there. Once you check out, it will ask you for a discount code. That code is “bliss.”
Ladies, you take a look at those and you’ll get to take advantage of that. That was generous, Danielle. Thank you so much for that. Are you ready for our three rapid-fire questions?
I am. Bring them on.
First, tell us one super tip on getting started in real estate investing.
Pick one path and ideally the path that most aligns with your goals that you want to achieve, be it monetary or whatever. Also, that aligns with the budget that you have for yourself as well.
Give us one strategy on being successful in real estate investing.
One strategy to be successful as a real estate investor besides picking one thing would be to actively put yourself in environments with other real estate investors. A lot of times people will go to events, conferences and thousands of dollars, gets super excited and motivated in the moment, and then they go back home. When they go back home, Tony Robbins isn’t there yelling at you. You fall back into your same habits. Continuously put yourself around other real estate investors, ideally ones who are more successful than you.
Give us one daily strategy that you use that you would say contributes to your personal success.
It is going to be mindfulness. Granted, I am nowhere near an expert at this yet because I have to force myself to do it. It is being aware of the current moment that you’re in. I think it’s Eckhart Tolle that said, “This is the only moment that you’ve had.” It’s knowing that as it’s happening versus acting, we have unlimited amounts of minutes, days, hours, etc.
What’s interesting is how many hugely successful people say that. Being mindful and creating a mindfulness practice helps successful people stay grounded, focused and loving their life. Thank you for that. Danielle, this has been amazing. Thank you so much for everything you’ve shared on this portion of the show.
Thank you. I’m excited to be here.
Ladies, we do have more on EXTRA. If you are not yet subscribed to EXTRA but would like to be, go to RealEstateInvestingForWomenExtra.com and you can subscribe there. If you’re already subscribed, go on over to that portion of the show and read more. Danielle is going to be doing a deep dive on the steps someone can take now to get the ball rolling to get started successfully. That person is going to be amazing. Go on over there. For those of you that are leaving us now, thank you so much for joining us for this portion of the show. I look forward to seeing you next time and always remember, goals without action are just dreams. Get out there, take action and create the life your heart deeply desires. I’ll see you next time.
Thank you again for joining me. If you love this show, please subscribe, rate and review it on iTunes. As women, we need to support and empower each other to build wealth and live joyful lives. Your support of this show by subscribing, rating and reviewing it will help other women like you learn about building blissful wealth through investing. Remember to download your free report so you can get started on your investing journey at BlissfulInvestor.com. See you next time. Here’s something you individually can do to create peace that’s as simple as pressing play. Get the download from PeaceAndHarmonyDownload.com and be a peace hero. Create your own pocket of peace around you so there are fewer family squabbles and more harmony in your life.
use discount code “bliss”
Moneeka Sawyer is often described as one of the most blissful people you will ever meet. She has been investing in Real Estate for over 20 years, so has been through all the different cycles of the market. Still, she has turned $10,000 into over $5,000,000, working only 5-10 hours per MONTH with very little stress.
While building her multi-million dollar business, she has traveled to over 55 countries, dances every single day, supports causes that are important to her, and spends lots of time with her husband of over 20 years.
She is the international best-selling author of the multiple award-winning books “Choose Bliss: The Power and Practice of Joy and Contentment” and “Real Estate Investing for Women: Expert Conversations to Increase Wealth and Happiness the Blissful Way.”
Moneeka has been featured on stages including Carnegie Hall and Nasdaq, radio, podcasts such as Achieve Your Goals with Hal Elrod, and TV stations including ABC, CBS, FOX, and the CW, impacting over 150 million people.