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Building a buying website is one of the smartest things I ever did for my business.
If you've ever done a direct mail campaign or scoured the internet for new deals, you probably know how time-consuming it can be to find new prospects and figure out which ones are worth pursuing.
It chews up a lot of time.
In my first two years as an investor, I spent hundreds of hours talking with hundreds of people about their properties…
- Get basic details from each prospect.
- Trying to assess each person's level of motivation.
- Figuring out whether each property was a viable deal.
- Listening to each person tell me their life story.
- Deciding whether or not I should send them an offer.
After my first couple hundred phone calls, I started figuring out that at least half of the people I talked to fell into one or more of the following camps:
- They had no interest in selling their property at a discount.
- Their property was NOT what I was looking for.
- Their property was too expensive for me (even after a huge discount).
- For one reason or another, the numbers just weren't going to work.
Each of these issues resulted in dead deals.
All the hours I spent talking to these people was a total waste of time, and of the other half that remained (i.e. – the prospects I did send offers to), most of them weren't going to accept my low-ball offer anyway.
After doing the math, I realized that for every ONE solid deal I got under contract, I spent a ridiculous amount of time on the phone with many people who would never sell their property to me.
The numbers still worked (because it only took one solid deal to redeem all of my “wasted time”), but even so, it was exhausting.
I was tired of spending all freaking day dealing with people who weren't going to do business.
It wasn't until I created my first “Buying Website” that everything started to change for the better.
Building A Buying Website Is Easy!
There are many different ways you can create a website these days, but when your goal is to collect information from prospects with a detailed submission form, you can take a few different routes, depending on your budget.
Option 1 (Lower Budget): WordPress Website
If your primary concern is to spend the least amount of money (while still maintaining the most control and flexibility over the design of your site), you can get started with Bluehost.
Comparatively speaking, Bluehost is pretty cheap. You can get everything set up for less than a hundred bucks.
The downside to using Bluehost (and WordPress, for that matter) is that it's not the most user-friendly path. If you're not already familiar with WordPress, this option will take a lot of time and mental energy for the average person to work with.
Inexpensive is always a nice perk, but if you don't know what you're doing, there are other costs to consider (namely, your time and sanity).
If you want to go this route, these short videos will show you how to get your website up and running.
Once you've completed Part 1, you'll also want to get a quality WordPress theme. There are many options out there, but the one I recommend for land investors who build websites like this is Winning Agent Pro 2 (formerly known as AgentPress Pro).
This video explains how to work with it…
Note: The form-building tool I use in this video is called Gravity Forms. If you want to use the exact submission form I'm using (which you can upload directly to your website after Gravity Forms is installed), you can get it here.
Option 2 (Higher Budget): Pebble
If WordPress seems too complicated for you (and it is for most people). Don't worry; there's still hope.
If you need a push-button easy solution made EXACTLY for land investors, look no further than Pebble.
Pebble is much more than just a website solution. It's a system that can manage your entire acquisition and marketing process with an easy-to-use interface. It’s great for handling direct mail campaigns, keeping track of inbound leads, and keeping each deal organized as it moves through your pipeline.
If you're a Pebble user, one of many things you'll have access to is their theme, REI Landleads, and it's amazing! I was an advisor to the company when they started. They incorporated some of my ideas into the copy and design elements in their themes, so it’s easy for me to recommend them to other land investors.
If you want a done-for-you solution, Pebble has greatly simplified this process because they handle all the hosting and setup. They have taken most of the complexity out of the process!
I'll explain how the website setup process works below.
As mentioned above, if you don't already have a domain name picked out, you can get one quickly and easily (and cheap) through NameCheap.
- It’s designed as one long page, so users don’t have to click around to find what they need; they can just scroll down the page without going anywhere.
- The form integration with the reference codes from your mailing list is a great way to connect each prospect to their property within the lead tracking system.
- There’s an easy place to insert a video (and you even get a free, ready-made video right out of the box).
- I like how easy it is to customize the content and even drag-and-drop things if needed.
- I like the multi-step submission form. It’s much easier to get people into the “funnel” rather than overwhelming them with one HUGE submission form.
- The ability to send automatic offers with the Automated Offers plugin is a game-changer.
The Automated Offers plugin is another BIG benefit to consider. As I explain in this blog post, it sends out offers automatically to the motivated sellers who submit their information on my site. I don't even have to look at the deal until they've said “YES!” to my discounted offer price.
I'll explain how it works in this video…
The beauty of this plugin is that it gives me one less thing I have to pay attention to each week because the action of sending out offers via email happens automagically. It's similar to sending out blind offers, just sending out those blind offers via email instead of physical mail.
Option 3 (Medium Budget): Carrot
In that case, Carrot is another option to consider.
These websites aren't built specifically for land investors (they're aimed at a general real estate investor audience), so they won't include some of the luxuries that Pebble can offer.
However, it's still more than sufficient to check the box for most people. I know several land investors who use Carrot, and they love it.
This video gives a quick overview of how it works…
- The ongoing cost will be significantly higher than Bluehost and a quality theme like Winning Agent Pro 2. Instead of paying under $100 per year, a subscription will cost that much (or more) within just a month or two, which adds up over time.
- Pebble and Carrot will give you a few great templates to work with, but since their goal is to make the process EASY, you won't have as much flexibility to make your website look unique, if that matters to you. This isn't necessarily bad, but if you want your website to be “one of a kind” with a custom look, there will be some limitations.
That being said, if your primary concern is to get your website up and running FAST, without hiring any outside help, and without having to learn a lot of new stuff, Pebble or Carrot can be a great way to go.
Suggested Form Questions
The whole idea behind a buying website is to automate your information-gathering process.
To maximize the benefit of this tool, you'll need to create a form that visitors will fill out, so they can give you all the pertinent details about their property.
Think of everything you would normally ask your prospects in a typical phone conversation and include it in your form.
A quick note about Pebble: Back when Pebble started as a company (they were called REI Conversion at the time) I gave them a ton of input on how to make these websites fully functional for land investors (because, at the time, no one had ever created a product like this before).
They asked about everything I would ever want in a buying website, and I gave them my list of “wants” and “needs.”
As part of this process, I shared the exact submission form I created for my buying website, and they integrated it into their system! That means, if you use Pebble, your website will come with a pre-built form with all of my questions and all the functionality you need, so you don't have to build it yourself! Pretty cool, huh?
I spent MANY hours tweaking and refining my submission form to ask all the right questions and provide enough information without overwhelming the visitor because this part of the website matters a lot.
Of course, you can build this form yourself (if you go with Option 1, above), but if you use Pebble, you'll get a killer design with a form that has already been tested for years yours truly.
If you do decide to start from scratch, here are some ideas to help you get started building your form:
Name (First and Last)
City, State, Zip
City, State, Zip
Estimated Market Value
Sq Ft of Building
Size of Lot
# of Bedrooms
# of Bathrooms
How long have you owned this property?
Are there any other co-owners of this property?
Do you have any mortgages on this property?
Is this property currently listed on the MLS?
Is there anything else you'd like to tell us?
…you get the idea.
Getting The Most Out Of Your Website
The real benefit of having a website like this (among other things) is that it allows you to get your time back.
With this tool in place, you can re-word your direct mail pieces to let prospects know they can go directly to your website instead of calling you. This way, instead of spending 30 minutes on the phone with each person, you can make THEM do all of the “data-gathering” work for you without consuming one extra second of your precious time.
If you're relying 100% on the phone, this initial “fact-finding” phase will be enormously time-consuming, especially when you multiply it by the dozens of people you'll be talking to each month.
Believe it or not, I've found that most people have no preference whether to convey this information over the phone or fill out a form online… so why not make them do what's easiest for you??
I cannot tell you what a luxury it is to sit at my computer each day and watch emails hit my inbox, knowing that my prospects (the people who want me to buy their property) are doing all the work. All I have to do is glance through the occasional “yes!” responses that come through my inbox and decide which leads are worth my time and consideration.
Would you be surprised to hear that a lot of people say “No” to these offer emails?
It's certainly no surprise to me!
And the beautiful thing is, I don't have to sacrifice 30 – 60 minutes (or seconds) to hear these answers. I can do it at my convenience, and this part of my business doesn't control my time anymore.
Do You Need A Buying Website?
Now, do you NEED a buying website to survive as a real estate investor?
No. You don’t absolutely need it.
A website won't solve all your problems. But if you want to automate the heck out of your lead generation process AND create a great online representation for your company, it's not a bad idea to put this kind of website to work in your business pronto.
It’s certainly possible to survive without a buying website, but if your business functions like mine, you'll work harder than you need to. In my opinion, this is less a question of “Can I get by without it?” and more a question of, “How much time (and money) will I be wasting if I skip this step?”
Trust me, this is an extremely helpful tool to have at your disposal. Knowing how powerful good a buying website has been for my business, it would be a disservice for me NOT to tell you about it.
BONUS: Real Estate SEO Guide
Since I'm a referral partner for Bluehost, Winning Agent Pro 2, Pebble, and Carrot (i.e. – I make a few bucks if/when you purchase something through any of these links), I wanted to give you a little bonus if you decide to use either of these services.
I took the time to write a detailed report explaining how I've generated a lot of quality traffic for my various websites (i.e. – several thousand unique visitors per month). I'll show you exactly how I did it!
If you purchase through any of the referral links above, you can forward your receipt to me at REtipsterBonus@gmail.com, and within 24 hours, I'll send you a link where you can download a copy of this guide.
There is no extra charge for this report. I'm making it available as a “thank you” to those who help support REtipster through these affiliate links.
All kinds of websites can serve your business in many different capacities. If you need detailed instructions on how to build a different type of site, you can check out these other dedicated video tutorials right here on REtipster.com: