March 24, 2020

JF2030 : Property Management and Wholesaling With Isaac Barrow


Isaac is the general manager of Parrot Property Group. He started in real estate in the back half of 2015 when his brother needed help managing a few rentals then slowly he started to go into wholesaling, getting his licenses in real estate, and managing bigger property groups.

Isaac Barrow Real Estate Background:


Best Ever Tweet:

“Maintain your relationship with people and eventually you’ll look up and see you have a great reputation.” – Isaac Barrow


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, Isaac Barrow. How are you doing, Isaac?

Isaac Barrow: I’m doing great, how are you?

Joe Fairless: I am doing well, and glad to hear that. A little bit about Isaac – he’s the general manager of Parrot Property Group. Parrot Property Group is a family-owned business with 80 years of combined real estate and construction experience. They help investors find properties and manage properties in the Indianapolis area. With that being said, do you wanna give the Best Ever listeners a little bit more about your background and your current focus?

Isaac Barrow: Sure. I started in real estate in late 2015. It wasn’t at all my background, but I got started just — my brother needed somebody to manage a few rentals. He had at the time only a few rentals. I started managing those, and then it just sort of springboarded into a bunch of other different things, like wholesaling, and managing at a higher level, managing more properties, since I obviously got my real estate license… So yeah, I’ve been doing it for about four years, and now I’m doing it full-time, obviously. Full-time wholesaling, full-time management, brokering, and lots of partnerships… Yeah, that’s pretty much how it’s all come full-circle.

Joe Fairless: Okay. Let’s talk about Parrot Property Group. What do you all do exactly?

Isaac Barrow: We try to be sort of a one-stop-shop. Primarily, our focus is wholesaling. We started really jumping into that after I started… And we try to find houses for investors, we do a lot of marketing for that… So we primarily focus on wholesaling, but we’ve done management, we’ve actually done some private lending… We have our own brokerage, so we do some on-market brokering transactions as well…

So we try to do a little bit of everything, but anytime people ask what exactly we do, it’s always gonna be focused around the wholesale off market. That’s primarily what we focus on and try to hammer down on. We network with competitors, and stuff like that. So primarily wholesaling, but a lot management and brokering and stuff like that.

Joe Fairless: Tell us about your lead generation system for getting wholesale deals.

Isaac Barrow: Well, we try to canvas everything. We have done some stuff on the MLS. It’s a little harder to find a good wholesale price on the market, but we’ve done some of that. What we’ll also do – obviously, we do a lot of the direct mail marketing that a lot of people do, whether it be postcards, whether it be letters… We’ve also done email campaigns, we’ve done social media marketing… We try to do pretty much everything we can to get leads. I would say most people would probably tell you that most of the leads come from the postcards and the letters, because there’s just so much of it… There’s really an unlimited amount of direct mail marketing you can do at one time.

So direct mail marketing, social media, driving for dollars is definitely something we’ve done in the past, where we see a “For sale by owner” sign… Or sometimes we just meet people… There was a time – I think about two years ago – I met this guy in a little Deli and he told me he wanted to sell his house. We ended up buying it, and selling it, and doing pretty well on it. So I try to do a little bit of everything, but I think everybody else who does this will probably tell you that the most successful route is either skip-tracing or direct mail marketing.

Joe Fairless: Let’s talk about skip-tracing, and then we’ll go from there. For anyone who’s not familiar with skip-tracing, what is it, and then how do you implement it in your business?

Isaac Barrow: Well, skip-tracing is basically, for example — there’s all kinds of databases you can use, where if you’re looking for somebody who owns a house… Let’s say you look at a house across the street, in a  nice area, but the house is dilapidated, nobody lives there, and you wanna just find out who owns the house… The best way to go about it – you could just enter all the information you have. It’s not that hard to find out who owns the house, but you can just enter all the information you have, and some database will spit out a bunch of possible phone numbers, a bunch of possible emails… And then you could just start hitting the phones and  calling people.

Now, in a lot of cases it is kind of difficult to find a really reliable batch of data for one person who you don’t really know where they are, you don’t really know where they’re living, if they’re even alive… So it’s just a good method, and a lot of people don’t do it. I think it’s picked up in popularity, especially over the last couple of years… But it’s basically just a way to cold-calling. You can cold-call. There are all kinds of databases you can pick out, with people who own rentals, people who own stuff free and clear, and you can just call them. You can have a VA do it, you can have an assistant do it… It’s definitely something we’ve utilized, especially in the last year or two.

Joe Fairless: Where do you hire your VAs?

Isaac Barrow: Honestly, we haven’t actually done it yet. We’re looking into it; we actually haven’t had a VA at any point, so we haven’t done it. We have hired an assistant before, and she was doing a lot of that for us. That was her primary role; she would just come in and just make calls. The list was so long… You could spend a year just calling that list. A lot of people wouldn’t answer, but even if  your success rate is low, if you hit one, that’s a good deal. Obviously, just cold-calling people doesn’t cost anywhere near as much as sending out postcards, or even doing driving for dollars. You might think “Well, that doesn’t cost anything”, but it does cost a lot of time, and driving around, and spending money on gas, and all that.  So it’s just a very cost-effective way. Now, it is work, for sure, but it’s a very cost-effective way of finding new leads.

Joe Fairless: Now, you mentioned you had an assistant, so that leads me to believe that you no longer have one… Is that correct?

Isaac Barrow: Yes.

Joe Fairless: Why not, if it was working?

Isaac Barrow: Well, we’re just looking for different things. We’re probably looking for something a little more full-time. It was just one of those things where we just weren’t getting enough time, and we wanna get somebody more full-time.

Joe Fairless: Okay. So it’s not that the responsibilities are not being undertaken in the future, it’s just a different vision for what the person wanted versus what you wanted.

Isaac Barrow: Basically… The calling was going well. The whole week she would just be calling people, and it seems to be something more people are doing… Because honestly, I get calls all the time from wholesalers, saying “Hey, I saw you have this house on Main Street” or whatever. And they’ll ask “Do you wanna sell it? Are you interested in maybe seller financing?” And obviously, I’ll say no, because I’m not interested, but it definitely shows me that other people are doing it, too.

Joe Fairless: Is that all you say, is no, and that’s it, or is there something else you do?

Isaac Barrow: Sometimes I’ll ask how they got my number and they won’t really give a great answer… They’ll sort of say the same thing I’ll say, which is “I got it from a database. We’re just calling people who we saw own houses in Indianapolis.” So usually I’ll just say “No, I’m not interested”, or “No, I’m an investor too, so I’m not really interested in selling at a wholesale price.” Usually, I don’t really entertain it too much. And I also noticed that it’s kind of the same 3-4 people, so they kind of know that I’m not interested anyway… So I think I’ve been taken off some of those people’s lists already.

Joe Fairless: Okay. I was wondering if you had a way to flip that, so that you would then partner up with that wholesaler on other deals… Because you mentioned earlier that you network with other wholesalers.

Isaac Barrow: Yeah, I sure said that. I also will tell them “Hey, I’m a buyer, so put me on your list on any deals you have.” I haven’t really gotten anything from those particular ones… But yeah, I’ve definitely done a lot of networking over the last four years, with local wholesalers of varying levels of experience.

Joe Fairless: What’s a deal you’ve lost money on?

Isaac Barrow: One of the first deals I did. It was little one bed double, in a pretty marginal, suspect area. I just wanted the deal. I was so convinced that we can make money on it. We didn’t even pay much, and we didn’t lose much either, but… We paid 14k, and I should have just held strong at 11k, but we went up a little bit, and then we sold it for 12k. So it’s not like we lost a ton of money… We still had to pay broker’s fees, and all that, and we had to sit on it for a long,  long time. Longer than I thought. I thought it would move pretty quickly… But it was just a rookie mistake.

Joe Fairless: How long did it take to move?

Isaac Barrow: I wanna say it took like 3,5 months, something like that. I thought it would go in 2, 3, 4 weeks tops… Because it was an area that at that time was moving pretty good, but it was just not the best part. And again, it was a one-bed double…

Joe Fairless: What’s a double?

Isaac Barrow: Just a duplex.

Joe Fairless: Oh, a duplex. Okay. It was one side of a duplex?

Isaac Barrow: No, it was a full duplex, but there’s only one bed on–

Joe Fairless: A full duplex, $14,000?

Isaac Barrow: Yup.

Joe Fairless: For a duplex that has a one-bedroom on each of the sides?

Isaac Barrow: Yeah, on each side.

Joe Fairless: Huh. Okay.

Isaac Barrow: People are always amazed when I tell them stuff like that, what the prices are… But if you showed it to people around here, they’d be like “Oh yeah, that makes sense.” Because it’s just a one-bed double. Just not that attractive. The rent’s low, the houses are small, the resale value is pretty marginal… Best-case scenario you fix it up really nice and then you could sell it to a house-hacker for 60k… But that  house needed everything. That house probably needed to be gutted, to be honest with you. So we just didn’t negotiate that well on that deal, and we learned from that.

So that’s the one I can think of where we lost money. I think we’ve only had 2-3 where we lost 1k or 2k. Nothing crazy.

Joe Fairless: So the most you’ve lost on any deal is about 2k?

Isaac Barrow: Yeah, I think so. There’s like one or two that come to mind, but I think even on those we broke even. And those were all really cheap deals, where we bought a gutted house, pretty shortly before that deal, for $9,000 and we sold it for $9,800, and then I think after broker’s fees I think our net was $9,200, so I think we made $200. [laughs] But yeah, that double is the one that sort of sticks out as the one that we lost money on.

Joe Fairless: Any common theme among the handful that you have lost or broke even on?

Isaac Barrow: Just wanting the house a little too much, thinking “Oh, this is gonna work. I like this house. I think it’s worth it.” I  think the one thing I’ve learned from this is it’s just not about you, it’s not about what you would pay for the house if it was in good shape. You have to take a numbers perspective to it and just remove the opinion from it. You have to look at “Okay, well, what are houses actually going for? What’s a realistic way of looking at it?” I liked that house – that double that I mentioned – because I thought the rent would actually be a little bit higher, and I thought the area was coming up… But when you actually looked at the numbers, you would come to the conclusion  that even at 11k that’s probably pretty topped out for that spot.

So the common theme I would say is — I would sometimes see competitors getting in and looking at it, and I would say “Well, I wanna get it, because if competitors are offering  similar prices, then it’s probably worth more, because that’s what they’re gonna do. They’re gonna try to sell it.” So just not thinking enough about “Okay, what are the actual numbers?” And that was, like I said, very early on, and I’ve learned from that by now… But I think that was a mistake I’ve made, just looking at it too much like speculative, and sort of projecting, as opposed to looking at the actual hard data at the time, as opposed to what I feel the hard data could become. So just projecting too much.

Joe Fairless: When you look at that hard data, what are the key things that you’re looking for, and where are you finding for?

Isaac Barrow: Well, I’m an agent, so I have access to all kinds of ways to pull comps… So I’ll jsut look at comps, and if it’s a two-bed in good condition, I’ll look at two-beds in good condition. I try to look at houses that were sold in the last 360, sometimes 540 days… Because sometimes you have areas that just aren’t moving, and that could mean one of two things. That could mean either the area is just low turnover, and people buy there, and then they don’t move, so it’s a homeowner area, which is good… But it could also mean people don’t wanna buy there.

So I try to look over the last year and a half what’s happening, how have prices changed, what are houses that are really dumpy and need a lot of work done for, what are houses that are kind of rental-grade going for, and what are houses that are at least close to or at least at homeowner-grade, what are those going for… So I try to look at those things and then I’ll make an evaluation based on that.

Joe Fairless: What’s something that you’ve changed in your process as a business over the last 12 months?

Isaac Barrow: I’ve been doing this now four years… I think I need a lot less in terms of asking people “What’s your opinion of this? What’s your opinion of that?” I just have a lot more confidence now about just the knowledge perspective of things… But in terms of the actual business, I would say before I was running less of the sales side of the things, and now I’m running that pretty much by myself… So I’m running more things now from the day-to-day perspective, and my brother is still helping me out with the day-to-day big-picture strategy-type stuff. I’m doing more of the operational systems and stuff like that.

Joe Fairless: Based on your experience, what’s your best real estate investing advice ever?

Isaac Barrow: My advice would probably be to just stay adaptable, don’t get set in your ways, and just look at the market and look at what that’s telling you. One example I would have of that is in the beginning, when I started doing this, the whole goal was “We’re just gonna buy rentals.” Our goal was to get 50 rentals, 100 rentals, and just go from there… And we’ll sell some of them obviously, but that was the goal. But as prices began to rise, we started doing wholesaling, and then wholesaling took off and has done really well for us; we sort of stepped away from rentals… We still have rentals, but we sold off some of them, and wholesaling has been our focus.

So just staying adaptable I think has been huge. And I guess I can’t give two snippets of advice, because that would defeat the purpose, but…

Joe Fairless: Why not? Let’s do another. One more.

Isaac Barrow: Another would be just leverage  your relationships with people. Instead of just working with people and doing these one-off type deals, try to have partnerships with people. We have a relationship with a group here where at first we were just selling houses to them here and there, and then as they began to trust us and vice-versa, we sort of launched a partnership with them. So just start partnerships and maintain your relationships with people, so you’ll look up and then eventually you’ll have a great reputation. So just making sure you’re working with people and having good rapport with everybody you work with.

Joe Fairless: We’re doing a lightning round. Are you ready for the Best Ever Lightning Round?

Isaac Barrow: I am.

Joe Fairless: Alright, let’s do it. First, a  quick word from our Best Ever partners.

Break: [00:15:42].24] to [00:16:33].22]

Joe Fairless: Alright, best ever book you’ve recently read?

Isaac Barrow: I recently read  a book called Traction, which is just a book about how to make your business really sustainable. I’m forgetting the author, but it’s a great book. It was a recommendation. I actually went to a meetup and talked to a  guy who has been doing business for 10-11 years, and every once in a while I just go to him for advice; he actually had the book at the meeting, so I didn’t really have to ask him anything… But I was just asking general business questions, because I’m more of  a hands-on person.

I actually asked him “When you started your business, how long did it take you before you really started delegating things?” and he just recommended the book. He gave me a few nuggets, just saying “If your goal is to stay in the business, then stay in the business. But if you wanna delegate, do that.” And he gave me the book and I’ve enjoyed reading it. I haven’t read all of it, but I’ve read most of it.

Joe Fairless: Best ever deal you’ve done?

Isaac Barrow: Best ever deal I’ve done… I would probably say — there’s a suburban house we bought not too long ago (three months ago). We bought it, and our goal was “We’re gonna buy it, we’re gonna paint it, we’re gonna put some carpet in it, clean it up a little bit and sell it.” And it sold to a fund within two days, all cash. It was the easiest deal we’ve ever done by far, because we painted it in carpet, and within two days we had to hold the house for a total of ten days, I think… And we made really good money on it. So that was definitely the best one.

Joe Fairless: What’s a mistake you’ve made on a transaction that we haven’t talked about already?

Isaac Barrow: A mistake I’ve made on a transaction… I had an MLS deal a year ago; I had some lease addendum with a tenant, and I just totally forgot about it, until a few days before closing. I didn’t even tell the buyer, because I didn’t even remember… And the lease addendum really said nothing. It was basically just like “Oh, well if the tenant gets a job in another state, he can give notice.” And it didn’t kill the deal, but it could have been a huge mistake, because it could have killed the deal. If the buyer wasn’t cool with it, he would have been totally reasonable to just say “I don’t want any part of that.”

That’s the first one that comes to mind. I’m sure there’s some other mistakes I’ve made, but that’s the first one I can think of.

Joe Fairless: How can the Best Ever listeners learn more about what you’re doing?

Isaac Barrow: You can visit our website, which is Or if any of your listeners wanna just give me a call and talk, my phone number is 317-204-2900.

Joe Fairless: Isaac, I enjoyed our conversation, I enjoyed learning about how your position has evolved, how your role in the business has evolved, the challenges on the couple deals that you’ve lost a little bit of money or broke even, and wanting the house too much on those, and now really focusing on looking at the hard data… As well as learning about the success that you’ve had too, and the different lead generation touch points that you have, with skip-tracing, postcards, meeting people at Delis, and getting deals, and all sorts of other things.

Isaac, thanks for being on the show. I hope you have a best ever day, and we’ll talk to you again soon.

Isaac Barrow: Thanks for having me on.

    Get More CRE Investing Tips Right to Your Inbox

    Get exclusive commercial real estate investing tips from industry experts, tailored for you CRE news, the latest videos, and more - right to your inbox weekly.