Jamil and his company have a tremendous operation, and have their eyes set on more. Already completing 70+ deals per month, they want to keep it going until they are the largest volume wholesaler in the country. Jamil will share how he built the company to what it is today, and how he will continue to grow it moving forward. If you enjoyed today’s episode remember to subscribe in iTunes and leave us a review!
Best Ever Tweet:
“Wholesaling has been given some blemishes” – Jamil Damji
Jamil Damji Real Estate Background:
- Specializes in wholesaling real estate
- Wholesales 70+ plus deals in one month, in one market
- Based in Phoenix, Arizona
- Say hi to him at:
- Best Ever Book: The Autobiography Of A Yogi
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Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners, how are you doing? Welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Joe Fairless, and this is the world’s longest-running daily real estate investing podcast, where we only talk about the best advice ever, we don’t get into any of that fluffy stuff. With us today, Jamil Damji. How are you doing, Jamil?
Jamil Damji: I’m awesome. How are you, Joe?
Joe Fairless: I am awesome as well, and looking forward to our conversation. A little bit about Jamil – he specializes in wholesaling, and in fact, he wholesales 70+ deals a month, in one market, and that one market is Phoenix, Arizona. With that being said, Jamil, do you wanna give the Best Ever listeners a little bit more about your background and your current focus?
Jamil Damji: Absolutely. Thank you so much for the introduction, Joe. Yes, my name is Jamil Damji, I am one of the owners and co-founder of Keyglee. We are a wholesale operation based out of Phoenix, Arizona. Our goal is to be the largest volume wholesaler in the country. I think we’ve hit that at this point right now, but we’re always hearing of and learning of new cats in the space that are crushing it, and we welcome them.
Joe Fairless: Okay, your goal is to be the largest volume wholesaler in the country… Why not have a goal of having the highest margin wholesaling company in the country, and not be focused as much on the volume?
Jamil Damji: That’s a great question, and I think in terms of margins versus volume, we’ve definitely seen margins shrink… I think the reason why we’re more of a volume-based versus a margin-based operation is because of our focus. Typically, wholesale companies are very strategically focused on acquisitions… And because of that, many operations in and around our state – and other states as well – are lacking in their dispositions, or their capacity to sell their deals. What that’s created in the wholesale space is some grey area, obviously, right? You hear of wholesalers locking deals up, not performing on those obligations, and creating all kinds of havoc for sellers, and expectations in terms of their time, and what they thought was gonna happen in a deal, and because of that, wholesaling has been given some blemishes.
So what we saw a few years ago when we entered this space was we would show up to a buy appointment with a seller, and there’d be ten other people there, for the same appointment. That was driving the prices up… But what we were also finding happening were those deals weren’t closing. So these wholesalers were going in, they were tying these deals up, and then just not performing on them. And that set off a light bulb in our heads to realize that “Well, maybe if we focused on being able to connect with more qualified buyers, who could take those deals, we’d be able to add value to the space. And that’s exactly what we did. So we focused our operation on building out really heavy dispositions of product, where other wholesalers would bring us their deal, we’ll evaluate it based off its investment worthiness, and if it’s a deal we feel we wanna put resources behind in terms of manpower to market and sell, then we’ll option the deal and go to town and sell it.
So great question, Joe. I love that you got right to the meat of it, because that doesn’t allow us to have very high margins, just in the sense of our model being more of a service for other wholesalers than going and buying super-deep.
Joe Fairless: Very interesting. Well, there’s money to be made in every type of business, that’s for sure, from the Walmarts to the Neiman Marcuses. So when you are partnering with other wholesalers, what type of joint venture structure do you have with them?
Jamil Damji: Typically, we work off of an option. The reason why we do an exclusive option is, first of all, it protects us from our seller or a partner not then performing on the option or not. Saying afterwards “Hey, look, I don’t wanna sell this deal anymore”, we’ve gone and spent time marketing it. So in order for us to gain equitable title and marketable title for us to then shop to our buyers list, we use the instrument of an option.
Joe Fairless: And for someone who’s not familiar with how the mechanics of that works, can you elaborate?
Jamil Damji: Absolutely. A part of wholesaling is marketing your contract. Your contract is your purchase contract when you go to buy a property, be it a house or a building. And that, if you’re the principal on that deal, gives you some opportunity, and you can actually market that contract to people to essentially purchase from you… But in order to do that, you need to have that purchase contract. Now, us being a third-party, not the original party to that first purchase contract, in order for us to be able to send this deal out to our buyers list, we need to have what’s called an option. And that option is basically an option to purchase, so we are then optioning to purchase that contract from the original contract holder, and through that instrument we now have the legal right to market that contract or that property.
Joe Fairless: And then how are they compensated, versus how you’re compensated?
Jamil Damji: It’s typically just the assignment. So our seller, or our deal supplier, or our JV partner – however you wanna phrase that – will bring us a deal, we’ll option it from them, and then once we find a buyer, so if we’re successful in finding a buyer, which nine times out of ten we are, we will then turn around to our partner and exercise the option. So that exercising of an option would then trigger an assignment to be drawn up between ourselves and our deal supplier. So we would then convert the option to an assignment, so our original contract holder will receive an assignment fee at closing. Now we’re the contract holder, so then we would then assign our rights to the end buyer. Typically, we’re talking about HUDs that show two assignment fees, if that makes sense.
Joe Fairless: Yup. So let’s talk about a typical deal, or maybe even better, a specific deal, and what the wholesaler who brought it to you made, and how much you made.
Jamil Damji: Awesome. I’ll give you an example of a deal we just did yesterday. Our wholesaler in town brought us a deal in Tempe, Arizona, a great little city in our spot here. It was a hoarder house, so not financeable to the retail public… Just completely trashed on the inside. A lot of deferred maintenance, potential mold, biohazard… You know, the whole nine. Your nightmare property.
So the newer wholesaler goes and contracts the property for 200k. And we see ARV (after repair value) on that property to be somewhere in the 330k(ish) range. So he has a good buy; at 200k he has a good buy. So he tried unsuccessfully for about 2,5 weeks to sell that deal, and sent it out to a few buyers, he posted it on Craigslist, he went on Facebook, he tried and tried, was unsuccessful, brought the deal to us… We auctioned it from him at 220k. So his potential profit would be 20k.
We then marketed it to our buyer pool at 235k. We were successful yesterday in finding a buyer, so our buyer opened escrow. We then converted our assignment with our supplier, so he’s gonna make $20,000 at close, we will make $15,000 at close, and our buyer is extremely happy because he has a new property in his inventory to go and flip.
Joe Fairless: Wow. In that example, about how much do you think it would take to turn that puppy around and get that property move-in ready?
Jamil Damji: The beauty about hoarder houses is they look a lot worse than they are. So I would say just based off of square footage — because we’re seeing cosmetic remodels coming in at around $25/sq.ft. typically right across the United States right now. That’s not including biohazard, or not including structural problems. So this is just straight up cosmetics. So I imagine based on square footage that property is gonna cost around $30,000 to renovate, probably another $5,000 in cleanup and biohazard. So about 35k total.
Joe Fairless: Okay. Yeah, so they’re still gonna have easy 50k in equity. Okay… It’s an interesting model. So really, the reason why you all are having the success you are is because you’re a place that has access to a bunch of people who have money. So you have qualified buyers, so if a wholesaler has a deal, but doesn’t have the list to get that deal closed, then they come to you — or you also find your own deals, and then share them out with qualified buyers, right?
Jamil Damji: Absolutely. So we source our own deals, I’d say — in a month we’ll do anywhere between 70 and 90 houses. So out of that, 10 to 15 of them will be our own sourced deals. So that just kind of tells you, it’s not a big portion of what we do.
Joe Fairless: Cool. I was gonna ask that, so thanks for mentioning that. Let’s talk about how you build the qualified buyer list, since that’s the key…
Jamil Damji: Awesome.
Joe Fairless: How did you do that?
Jamil Damji: So we like to think of ourselves more of a technology and data company than we are a real estate company… Although that’s what we trade in. So what we did is we really focused in on looking at the buyer profile. What type of buyer have wholesalers been typically going after, and then trying to find the periphery around that. And those were a lot of fancy words; I’ll get into more detail about it.
Your average fix and flip buyer – they wanna come in, buy the property dirt cheap, completely run down, turn it, make a profit, and make 30k to 50k. Well, there’s also a lot of buyers out there that are just interested in cash-flowing equity. So we deal with hedge funds, we deal with REITs, we deal with portfolio owners, and they will pay actually a higher dollar price than your average rehabber. So what we do in terms of our capacity to build that list is a lot of outreach. We’re looking at buyer profiles, we’re looking at social media accounts, we’re looking at Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and just assessing a person’s capacity to potentially be a real estate investor. I’ll give you an example of what I mean by that…
So if you’re on Facebook and we notice that in your profile picture Joe is standing in front of a Ferrari, he also likes Rolex, and he also likes the duPont Registry… So now we’ve got some factors here that show us that you might have access to disposable income, or you might be the kind of person that would gain access to disposable income. So what we’ll do is we’ll send an outreach message. Typically, that’s just an introduction, introducing our company–
Joe Fairless: Outreach on Facebook?
Jamil Damji: Yeah, it would be on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram…
Joe Fairless: Like an instant message.
Jamil Damji: Correct, correct. So we’ll reach out through either social, or we’ll try to find an email account through a skiptrace service… And once we have made that initial outreach, not everybody responds. A lot of people just ignore the message. But a good 30% of folks will actually respond, because what we have to offer to a person who is in the business, who is — like yourself, for instance. I know that you invest in apartments, in syndications. So if I was to find a multifamily property, or have access to a multifamily property that would be a great value-add opportunity for you, if one of my outreach or one of my intake specialists sent you a message and said “Look, our business is identifying distressed property in the multifamily space. Would you be interested in talking about or seeing some of our deals?” there’s a high likelihood that you’re gonna answer “Yes.” You’re gonna very quickly look at what we have to offer, and suss out if you think we’re a waste of time or not, but that at least starts the conversation.
Joe Fairless: Is that what the message basically says? “Hi, we’re such-and-such. Would you be interested…?”
Jamil Damji: “We’re such-and-such. Our company specializes in finding distressed property that has some great equity potential, or potential value-add opportunities. It looks like you could be a potential real estate investor, and if you are, we’d love to hear from you. If you’d like to opt into our list, you can do so here. Or you can respond and we can carry the conversation further.” That’s essentially what that message says.
Joe Fairless: What tools do you use to identify the audience that you’re reaching out to initially?
Jamil Damji: Searches. On Instagram hashtags are awesome. We’ll look at #azdoctor, #azlawyer, #azaccountant. We look at high value professions, and we work from there. We go vertical and lateral in our searches. We’ll look at “This profession has a higher likelihood of having higher net worth individuals”, and then once they’ve exhausted that category, they’ll start a new one. So searches on social media, hashtags, Facebook groups…
Also, when we’re looking at Facebook, who you’ve liked, what commonalities we have. Our Facebook accounts that we have for our intake specialists – they’ve all liked those Ferrari, Rolls Royce, Lamborghini, and so when there’s a shared like between two individuals, that’s made known to you as a Facebook user. So if you like Rolex and I like Rolex, and you and I are potential friends, when I come to your page and add you as a friend, or try to message you, I’m gonna be notified someway on Facebook that you and I both like Rolex. So that’s gonna tell me that this is a man who understands timepieces. You might potentially then be a real estate investor.
Again, we’re taking leaps here, but we’re looking at commonalities that we see in this space, and then moving from there.
Joe Fairless: Sure. Do you have people doing individual searches, or is there some sort of software that you use?
Jamil Damji: Both. It starts off with the software that we created, where we’ll sift through and we look for specific types of images. Once that’s all filtered down, then it’s actually a human being doing the rest of that. So we filter a lot through bots, and our own software, and then once we get into actually doing the outreach, that’s when it’s a person.
Joe Fairless: Okay. So your software identifies the list of people, and then your people do the outreach.
Jamil Damji: Correct.
Joe Fairless: And when the software identifies a list of people, does it give you the Facebook URL, or does it give you the person’s name, and then your human being has to go search for that person’s name? How does that look?
Jamil Damji: Depending on the…
Joe Fairless: Social platform?
Jamil Damji: The social platform, exactly. On Facebook it’s a name, on Instagram it’s a handle… LinkedIn is a little more difficult, and I don’t know the exact procedures, because I personally haven’t done any of the LinkedIn outreach… But I know we do really well on it. They’ve just got so many more filters and so many more ways to protect people from communication. It’s LinkedIn’s way, right…? But again, we are a real business, doing real things, so we’re no blocked from communicating; we just have to go through a couple more steps.
Joe Fairless: Do you all pay LinkedIn, for example — do you pay for their extra services, where you can send those LinkedIn messages, that are sponsored, or that get to people’s inbox?
Jamil Damji: I would imagine that a few of our accounts do, yes.
Joe Fairless: Okay, got it. What’s something that you all have done, that did not work, when trying to build a qualified buyers list?
Jamil Damji: The one fail that I could really look at was — when you’re looking at real estate, it’s tough to just go in and say “Okay, if you have purchased a property before with cash…” and that’s like the go-to for everybody in our space; they’ll go check tax records and they’ll say “Okay, these people all purchased in cash, so these people would be real estate investors.” That was probably one of our biggest fails, because we went into a new market in Las Vegas, and we tried just searching through tax records and the usual data sources to build our buyers list, and we found our conversion rates were just dismal.
So for us, what we saw really working was going outside of the box. So not going strategically to “Look, I’m gonna go find cash buyers, and reach out to cash buyers, or people who have purchased in cash before”, but finding guys on the periphery, finding people who really haven’t entered the space yet. I think that’s where we gained our most success… But doing the opposite is where we had our biggest failure.
Joe Fairless: Based on your experience as a real estate investor and entrepreneur, what’s your best real estate investing advice ever?
Jamil Damji: Do it. I got involved in wholesaling because I saw a need; these homebuilders were looking for these specific types of properties, and I knew that they were having a hard time finding them. So instinctively, I thought “Well, maybe I should call these people who have for rent properties in these neighborhoods, and see if they might be potential sellers.” And just kind of trying to connect the dots… I think we overthink how hard it is to make money in this business.
There’s all kinds of people selling coaching programs for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that’s great for them, but I think that for your average person who wants to get involved and is really desperately trying to find a niche in real estate, I think they need to look at the space, just connect the dots in front of them and behind them, see where they’re going and where they might have been, and find a way to create value. Find a way to bridge those thoughts. And the best thing that you can do is take action and make mistakes. If you’re not taking some action and if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not learning, I think it’s just time that people stopped talking about what they wanna do and just take the first step. If you take the first step, it’s amazing how the world opens itself up for you.
Joe Fairless: What were you doing prior to founding this company?
Jamil Damji: I was in Los Angeles, trying to be a comedian.
Joe Fairless: Oh, I didn’t expect that.
Jamil Damji: Yes, yes. I know we have something in common… I checked you out a little bit, Joe; I did a little homework, but–
Joe Fairless: You just used one of your bots.
Jamil Damji: [laughs] I didn’t. I actually did it myself, but…
Joe Fairless: Oh, okay…
Jamil Damji: …I was an improviser, so I spent years in Los Angeles writing sketches, performing at UCB, and trying that out. I think it did a lot for me in terms of confidence, it did a lot for me personality-wise and just being able to be lighthearted, and really to play games with things. So that’s what I was doing prior to this. It’s a complete 180.
Joe Fairless: Which is not anything related to tech and data… So one fo your co-founders…?
Jamil Damji: Yeah, one of my co-founders brought to the table some great technological skills, and really innovative thinking. I have always been a great connector. I connect with people well, I network very well… So I kind of stumbled into this space, and while in this space, I looked around and saw people just thriving. And because of that, I engulfed myself into the model, and talked to and connected with as many people as I could… So what I brought to the table when we founded the company was just a network of individuals who were already doing business with me. So plugging that network into the systems that my other partners brought to the table was what allowed us explosive growth.
Joe Fairless: I love it. How many qualified buyers do you all have?
Jamil Damji: We’re probably pushing around 80,000 at this point.
Joe Fairless: Holy smokes. When you send out an email to them, what’s the open rate?
Jamil Damji: We’re at about 30% right now. We’ve had some times when it was low. We had moments when we were down to like 12%, and our bottom line was suffering for it tremendously. But through better engagement, and just having more conversations with our buyers… Our staff is constantly on the phone, constantly reaching out and communicating with these qualified buyers… So that communication, and building those relationships is what’s creating that open rate. That, and also knowing what time of day do you send your blast out at. We see an 8% differential between sending a blast out at 10 AM versus 1 PM.
Joe Fairless: Which one’s better?
Jamil Damji: 1 PM.
Joe Fairless: 1 PM Arizona time?
Jamil Damji: 1 PM Arizona time, correct.
Joe Fairless: Okay. 4 PM Eastern time… Are you mountain, or are you–
Jamil Damji: We’re mountain, we’re mountain.
Joe Fairless: Okay, so 3 PM. Got it. Cool, that’s interesting stuff. With that list, what do you send them (if anything) other than a new deal?
Jamil Damji: Nothing.
Joe Fairless: Strictly deals, that’s it.
Jamil Damji: Strictly deals. That’s what they’ve opted in for. I know we’re sitting on a goldmine of data; it’s one of those things that I’m sure there’s gonna be a point where we figure out how to monetize it beyond what we’re doing right now, but at this point we’re just focused on wholesale deals.
Joe Fairless: We’re gonna do a lightning round. Are you ready for the Best Ever Lightning Round?
Jamil Damji: Let’s do it.
Joe Fairless: Alright, let’s do it. First, a quick word from our Best Ever partners.
Joe Fairless: Alright, best ever book you’ve recently read?
Jamil Damji: The Autobiography of a Yogi.
Joe Fairless: What’s a mistake you’ve made on a transaction?
Jamil Damji: Not having the original seller’s initial on one page.
Joe Fairless: What happened as a result of that?
Jamil Damji: We didn’t have a valid contract and they were able to resell to somebody else at a higher price.
Joe Fairless: Best ever deal you’ve done?
Jamil Damji: A land deal in Chandler, Arizona. I bought the land for a million dollars and we sold it for 2.6.
Joe Fairless: What’s the best ever way you like to give back?
Jamil Damji: I really like driving around and handing out cash to homeless people. Not in a way that’s for social media or for anyone’s benefit, but I just like to get out, connect to people, see what’s going on in their life, shake their hands, give them some money… I’m not doing it in judgment, I’m just doing it because I care.
Joe Fairless: And how can the Best Ever listeners learn more about what you’re doing and getting involved with your company?
Jamil Damji: You can find me on Instagram at @jdamji. You can learn about our company… We actually teach our models, so if you went to www.astroflipping.com/jamil, you can find out how to learn what we do. And if you just wanna buy our deals, go to www.keygleehomes.com, and if you wanna sell us your house, go to www.keyglee.com.
Joe Fairless: What’s Keyglee? How did you come up with that?
Jamil Damji: Give us your keys and we’ll make you happy. [laughter] It’s pretty simple.
Joe Fairless: Alright, I didn’t see that coming…
Jamil Damji: [laughs] I’m surprised, because you should have been able to catch a bad pun.
Joe Fairless: I know, right? Yeah… I like it. I like that. And it’s “glee”, it’s not like “happy” or “excited.” I like the word “glee.” I think the word “glee” is not used enough in the English language, so thank you for doing it more.
Well, Jamil, thank you for being on the show, talking about your company’s business model, how you’ve gotten success being the wholesalers’ wholesaler, and how you partnered up with wholesalers, specifically on the JV side, what a deal looks like, and then how you’ve built your qualified buyer list, just through software and then also through manual outreach.
Thanks for being on the show, I really appreciate it. I hope you have a best ever day, and we’ll talk to you again soon.
Jamil Damji: Awesome, thanks so much.