February 16, 2021

JF2359: Capturing Hot Leads on Facebook with Gustavo Munoz Castro


In 2008, Gustavo’s wife got her real estate license. Seeing how well she was doing, Gustavo followed her in 2010. He was doing the real estate hustle part-time as he was still working as a Microsoft Senior Engineer. 

In 2013, he went full time, and in 2015 he transitioned into inside sales. Now his agents utilize Facebook to get motivated leads, making over 50k outbound calls every day.

Gustavo Munoz Castro  Real Estate Background:

  • Former Microsoft Senior Engineer turned Real Estate agent turned inside sales guru
  • Runs one of the largest inside sales teams for real estate in North America, 65 agents making 50k outbound dials a day
  • His Agent set 100 appointments with buyers and sellers every day, mostly from Facebook leads
  • 10 years of real estate experience
  • Based in Mexico and working in the US and Canada
  • Say hi to him at: www.powerisa.com 
  • Best Ever Book: High Output Management 


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Best Ever Tweet:

“The magic of Facebook is that it can be used for both scenarios, the motivated buyer and the motivated seller.” – Gustavo Munoz Castro


Theo Hicks: Hello, Best Ever listeners and welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Theo Hicks, and today we’ll be speaking with Gustavo Munoz Castro. Gustavo, how are you doing today?

Gustavo Munoz Castro: Hey. Doing great, Theo. Nice to be here.

Theo Hicks: Well, thank you for joining me, looking forward to our conversation. A little bit about Gustavo. He is a former Microsoft senior engineer turned real estate agent, turned inside sales guru. And he runs one of the largest inside sales teams for real estate in North America, with 65 agents making 50,000 outbound dials every day. His agents set 100 appointments with buyers and sellers every day, mostly from Facebook leads. He has 10 years of real estate experience, and the company is based in Mexico. Gustavo works in the US and Canada as well. The website is powerisa.com. So Gustavo, do you mind telling us some more about your background and what you’re focused on today?

Gustavo Munoz Castro: Yeah, definitely. Thanks for that, Theo. I’m originally from Mexico. I came to the US in 2004, full-time to live. I got recruited out of Mexico by Microsoft. So I was an engineer, I graduated, Microsoft came… And I grew up on the border with the US, so I’ve always been exposed to US culture. My whole family is from that area, Southern California, and Northern Baja. And all my cousins would always make fun of anyone that spoke English with an accent, so I quickly kind of picked up that Southern California English accent. So that’s kind of where I’m from.

Then I moved up to Seattle for work, and my wife went with me shortly thereafter. And she’s actually the one that kind of got bit by the bug for real estate. She got licensed in 2008 as the whole world was ending, and I got licensed in 2010 because she was just killing it on her own. I helped her out… And I would help her nights and weekends. And then in 2013, I went full-time in real estate. I said, “Hey, you know what? High tech software can kind of wait. I’m interested to see what I can do here.” The market was really picking up in that area back then. It was a big, big, big upswing, and it’s still going on right now, to be honest with you, in every sense of the word. And I transitioned to an inside sales company.

We started with a real estate team, did great there. I transitioned to real estate inside sales in 2015. I started this company, Power ISA, and it’s been a lot of fun. Right now we have a pretty large team. Actually, today we have 77 ISAs in our team, servicing hundreds of clients in the US and Canada. And our focus has really really shifted the last couple of years more and more towards Facebook. Facebook has become a huge opportunity for real estate investors, real estate agents, loan officers, anyone looking to get folks’ attention, get motivated buyers, motivated sellers. And that’s been a big, big part of what we do nowadays. So that’s my biggest focus right now – understanding Facebook. Facebook is a beast. So a lot of stuff from big, big systems, big platforms. Understanding what it’s for, how to get the most out of it, and help our clients be successful with it.

Theo Hicks: Awesome. Well, let’s pick up right there then. Let’s talk about using Facebook to get leads. And I guess my first question would be, before we dive into details – is it a one size fits all strategy? Like, everyone can just use the same process or template? …whether as you mentioned their an agent, or an investor, or a mortgage broker? Or is it something that’s more specific to each of the different kinds of real estate niches?

Gustavo Munoz Castro: That’s a really good question. I’d say it depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a motivated buyer, whether you’re a mortgage broker, or a real estate agent, folks that are looking for buyers, they do use — I don’t want to say it’s a template, but they use the same approach. They want to show people properties, they want to show people a list of homes.

Buyers want homes. And especially in markets with really tight inventory, if you can demonstrate to the consumer you have access to properties, they’re going to call you. Like, “Hey, man. Give me the goods. What do you got? What do you know that I don’t know?” That kind of thing.

When you’re talking about investors, it’s a very unique and totally different approach. Because you’re not looking for the buyers, you’re not advertising properties. You’re looking for a seller, and you’re looking for a really specific kind of seller – the motivated seller, someone that might be interested, ready to go and make a deal, because they need money fast. They have a high motivation, they need to relocate, they’re going through some kind of life event, where cash now matters more than putting a bunch of money into fixing up a property and getting the highest and best offer for it. So you’re looking for a really, really specific client. But the magic of Facebook is that it can be useful for both scenarios, the motivated buyer and the moment.

Theo Hicks: So let’s dive into details on both of those. So let’s start with motivated buyers, because that sounds, like you said, it’s more of a template, in a sense. So you said that the goal is to demonstrate that you have access to properties. So how exactly am I doing this?

Gustavo Munoz Castro: To put people in the context of Facebook — everybody uses Facebook, I just want to put you in that mindset. You’re on Facebook, you’re browsing that newsfeed, you’re scrolling down probably on your phone, and you’re looking at pictures of your family members, your friends, some kind of event, the news, all these things. And you’ve got a couple of seconds to get people’s attention as they scroll.

So the number one thing is images. It’s a very visual platform. That will get someone to stop, give you a few seconds of attention, and they might read your headline. So the number one thing you want to do if you’re trying to advertise access to properties is to show people great pictures of homes. A lot of realtors use single property listings, like a great look in front of a home. Everyone else uses some kind of grid to show multiple pictures of homes. The inside of a home the outside of the home, something that looks beautiful, looks attractive, and something that they want. And in that title, again, you’ve got only a couple of seconds to get people’s attention. You want to have a really, really obvious call to action. “Hey, South End homeowners, access to a property list of 200,000 and below. Right here. Click For more information.” Something like that.

If you’re looking for a retail buyer, you’ve got to tell them, “Hey, I’ve got the best and most awesome home, at the best price. Check out this information.” It’s really similar even if it’s a single property ad, where like “Hey, this is a beautiful property. Just went on the market. Call us for a showing immediately.” Because a lot of these markets have super low inventory, so “Hey, immediate showing.” Boom. Show that. So you’re trying to get their attention with a very attractive photograph and just some simple copy that says,  “Hey, homebuyers in this area, I’ve got a great property for you to jump on.” Or “I have a list of properties for you to jump on.” If you don’t have any specific property, that’s fine. Get a list of properties that you can offer to them with whatever characteristic is awesome.

What works really, really well in a lot of these markets is offering a list of homes under the median home price. And sometimes it works a little bit under, a little bit more, a little bit above… Again, something you’ve got to test out in every market, but it’s kind of the formula people use to get people’s attention on the buyer side.

Theo Hicks: And then, I know there’s different types of ads on Facebook… What’s the type of ad? Pay per click, and a couple of other ones. What’s the type of ad, filters, which filter should I use…? Things like that.

Gustavo Munoz Castro: Yeah. Really good question. And this is getting us into the next level of detail, for sure. Especially when you’re starting out, you want to get a campaign that’s optimized for lead conversions. Because you want leads. That’s essentially what you want. There are other campaigns you can use, but to keep it simple, this is what the majority even of the professional marketers use. They’re optimizing for conversions. And within that ad, you want someone to fill out their information, or at least Facebook grabs their information immediately, and you want to generate a lead [unintelligible [00:10:31].17]. And I would keep it very simple. I would do a single image ad, just a single image. You don’t have to do a carousel, you don’t have to do dynamic ads; there are so many things that Facebook allows you to do. But the funny thing is the people that have the most success, actually, focus more on the pictures and the copy than the actual technology behind the ad. They keep it very simple; great looking property, sexy offer, clickable headline, really interesting reasons for people to click, and you’re going to generate those clicks.

Theo Hicks: So a lead form ad… So are you able to capture their info once they click on it? Or are they typing in their information once they click that link?

Gustavo Munoz Castro: So Facebook, now, when you click on an ad, you don’t have to fill out the information anymore. Facebook will automatically send it to you. Unless you put additional questions in there, like a questionnaire… You can add custom questions in these lead form ads. You can do it, but at its most basic level, they click on More Information and their information on that gets sent. They just have to acknowledge, “Okay, send it to this advertiser.” And we’re done.

You could put a message on there, “Hey, thanks for sending us the information”, so on and so forth, but at its most basic level, it’s very, very simple. You can make it very easy for a lead to just immediately send you their information, with the expectation that the lead has, that you’re going to give them what they want as well in the backend.

Theo Hicks: Got it. And then when it comes to the filters targeting people, how do I know who to target?

Gustavo Munoz Castro: Great question. So for real estate within Facebook [unintelligible [00:11:55].19] 18 months ago, in the US, this changed. You used to be able to do a lot of targeting. You could do targeting down to the zip code, down to the neighborhood, you could target demographics, all kinds of stuff. The downside of that was that according to the US government, you could actually do stuff, maybe unwittingly, that is illegal. You can actually exclude certain people that it’s illegal to exclude for housing. So the government came down on Facebook. Facebook changed its policy and took away a lot of the demographic, a lot of the income targeting, a lot of the geographic targeting. Now every single Facebook ad goes under something called a special ads category, so you have to kind of be compliant with that. And it takes away a lot of that detailed targeting.

However, people predicted this is going to be the end of real estate on Facebook. It’s gotten bigger after this measure came down, because one of the things it does well is… Remember that ad title I told you about? You have to have an ad title that’s clickable, that’s awesome. Below the ad title, you can put a bunch of text. And it doesn’t really matter whether the person interested reads the text or not, the algorithm reads the text. So in that ad copy, you want to be as clear and as concise as possible with what you’re advertising. You’ve got access to this property in this neighborhood, you’ve got lists of homes in this specific part of town… So that you give the algorithm as many hints as possible as to how to serve that ad.

And last but not least, and this is a really big nugget for folks that are interested in this… If you set up something called Facebook pixel, if you set that up, you can actually help Facebook understand who is the best lead you want. Whether it’s at the thank you page, or some kind of place you want to send people to, that tells Facebook, “Hey, if someone made it all the way here…” It’s a piece of code you put on a website. “If someone made it to that piece of code, then that’s the people I really want, Facebook. This is the people I’m most interested in.” And you’re teaching the algorithm, “Oh, I see. You want soccer moms that make 100 grand.” Again, you’re not explicitly saying that. You’re saying, “Hey, send me people that actually are interested in clicking on these ads.” And Facebook is really, really good at adapting to people that click on the ad. It will show it to more of them. And that is compliant. If you’re not explicitly excluding everyone, then you’re okay.

Theo Hicks: Okay, interesting. I’ve heard of that Facebook pixel concept before, so thanks for sharing that. So let’s move on to the motivated seller. So what are some of the differences between using Facebook to attract buyers and using Facebook to find sellers?

Gustavo Munoz Castro: It’s a different approach, because the easiest kind of lead to generate on Facebook, and actually online, are buyer leads. It’s the easiest, the lowest cost, the fastest. If I turn an ad on for a buyer lead ad, I can get leads in a couple of hours. Boom. I’ll have a lead pop in. It’s very simple.

The seller ads are more challenging. Sellers in general are a little bit harder, because you have to offer them something of value and it’s not as immediate as, “Hey, click on this link to find homes.” It’s like, “Hey, here’s something I think you need. Get it from me.” And if it’s a retail seller, it can be like a free home valuation, it can be a guide on selling your home… But again, those aren’t super burning needs, if you know what I mean. It’s not like an immediate “Oh, I want that, give me the goods.” Well, not necessarily. Those leads tend to be less motivated, they’re harder to convert, and just a little bit more of a difficult lead to generate.

The motivated seller lead, as opposed to the retail seller lead, they can have a burning need. It’s a little different. They can actually have a personal situation, relocation, job loss, all these things happening, and you want your ad to speak to that. You want your ad to say, “Hey, if you’re going under a difficult circumstance, we have options for you. We can help you; if you need cash fast, we can help you move that property if you have any property you want to sell. We can get you cash within seven days, etc.” And the picture you want to put on an ad like that is not of a beautiful home. This is totally the opposite of. You’re telling, “Hey, we buy properties as-is. No questions asked. Boom, whatever that is.” The tricky part, particularly with the motivated seller ads, is compliance. It’s the hardest. Well, I’d say that one, or maybe the lender ads, are the hardest to get past compliance, because you have to provide a delicate balance. You have to tell people that you’re there to help them in case they’re going through any one of these situations, without wording it in a way that tells the consumer that you know that they’re going through that situation.

For example, you can’t say “I know you’re going through a divorce. So here is a way you can sell your property so you can get out from under that woman. That is too direct. Facebook will not allow that. You cannot freak people out, saying “How do you know I’m getting divorced? Holy cow.” Facebook knows this, by the way; they have really good information on what we do, our activities. But it will not let you use it that way. So you have to word it carefully. It’s possible to get these ads through compliance. It’s always hardest the first time. You give it a few tries, you take their feedback, and you make the changes, and you can get it through. But the crux of it is, you want to give people a solution to any one of these really, really serious life events they could be going through. And it might be a positive one like a job relocation.

Right now – we’re recording this at the end of 2020 – people will relocate for a job. There’s a lot of unemployment, people are definitely moving around, there’s a lot of people that are in need, a lot of things going on at this moment. So yes, there’s definitely some interest there, and you’re going to get some clicks on that. But it has to be worded carefully, it has to be worded correctly… And talk about the options. Don’t focus too much on what that person is going through. Try and call out the different situations, and say, “Hey, I’m here to help. I can help folks in these situations. I can help them by giving them these options.”

Theo Hicks: Give an example of what would be compliant.

Gustavo Munoz Castro: Facebook compliance is a finicky thing. I’ve seen this work — and unfortunately, I can’t guarantee it’s going to work in every single instance, but one thing I’ve seen work is the “We buy ugly houses” kind of theme. You can’t use that because that’s trademarked, but “We buy homes in as-is condition. If you need to sell a home fast, give us a call and we can help out.” And that one kind of avoids a lot of the “Hey, I know you’re going to this and you’re going to that.”

Another one that I’ve seen work well is “We help folks that are going through different kinds of situations and different life events. For example…”, and like a bulleted list of the different situations. Again, you’re not being very direct. It’s happening to them. You’re not talking to them. You’re not speaking to them. If the ad speaks too directly to the consumer, they’re going to flag it. And it doesn’t matter if it’s financial stuff, or distress, or even medical advertising, e-commerce. If you’re being too weird with the targeting, they will not allow that ad.

So they want to keep it as general as possible to not freak people out, which I think is a really positive thing, honestly. Because we all know how powerful the targeting is on Facebook, but we don’t want it to get too strange. But I would go with those kinds of ads. Go with a generic offer. And if that’s not getting the results you want, try bulleted lists where you try to not identify the one situation in particular.

Theo Hicks: Are you this? Are you this? Are you this? And they click on one, whoever you want to target. That’s like the pixel. But anyways, super-fascinating. So based off of your experience with Facebook and advertising, finding buyers, finding sellers, what is your best real estate investing advice ever?

Gustavo Munoz Castro: Well, I’m an investor myself, so I kind of see this in a couple of different ways. As an investor, the best advice I’ve ever gotten from other investors is to be patient. The worst enemy when you’re looking for deals, when you’re negotiating, when you’re making an offer, when you’re remodeling and flipping, is to lose patience. And sometimes you just have to calm down, don’t get overeager. The money’s burning a hole in my pocket. That’s usually when you make bad decisions.

The same thing with Facebook advertising – do not expect this to work within the same day. You’ve got to test it out, you’ve got to find the right copy that works, you’ve got to find the right area that responds the best to your ads… So patience, patience, patience, because the best methods and the best results usually come from a little bit of work. It’s not like a slam dunk right away. It takes a little bit of work, it takes a little bit of tweaking. I’m not talking about months and months of work. I’m just saying have a little bit of patience, give a little bit of time, and it’s usually worth the effort.

Theo Hicks: Okay, Gustavo, are you ready for the Best Ever lightning round?

Gustavo Munoz Castro: Go for it.

Theo Hicks: Perfect. But first, a quick word from our sponsor.

Break: [00:20:03][00:20:51]

Theo Hicks: Okay, Gustavo. What is the Best Ever book you’ve recently read?

Gustavo Munoz Castro: I’m actually reading a book with my team right now. It’s called High Output Management. And it’s blown me away. It’s not necessarily an investing book or a real estate book. It’s just a general team building and management book. It’s really famous in Silicon Valley, in those circles. We got it as a team, read it as a team. Absolutely loved it. Very easy to understand. It really simplifies a lot of the management jargon and systems, and I really appreciated it. That’s a great book for teams.

Theo Hicks: If your business were to collapse today, what would you do next?

Gustavo Munoz Castro: So no doubt on this one, I would become a teacher. Because that’s the part of my job that I enjoy the most, the teaching aspect of it. And even talking to folks like yourself, being on a podcast, I love talking about the stuff that I’ve learned. I love transmitting knowledge, teaching other folks. So if I would no longer [unintelligible [00:21:42].23] tomorrow, boom, everything went away, I’d go and become a teacher.

Theo Hicks: What is the Best Ever deal you’ve done?

Gustavo Munoz Castro: My Best Ever deal I’ve done is actually a property in South Seattle. This is back in 2010. It was a mess of a property. They couldn’t get it sold, the short sale fell through multiple times, and it just fell in my lap. And I again, nobody wanted it, and I’m like, “I think I see potential in this thing.” It was my first investment property. I think I see some potential to make this happen. And like, “No, that’s the worst thing ever. What are you going to do? That’ll never work.” And it’s become the highest cash-flowing rental. I’ve doubled up on the equity on it since 2010. Obviously, it’s been a great run. So the best, best, best deal I ever got was just something that just literally fell into my lap because another investor passed on it.

Theo Hicks: What is the Best Ever way you like to give back?

Gustavo Munoz Castro: Teaching. I always come from contribution.  I think that’s the best way to go about things. I believe in karma. So going out there, sharing knowledge, trying to make people better, helping them out, I think is the best way to grow a business, to just be fulfilled. So that’s a big, big piece of what I do.

Theo Hicks: And then lastly, what is the Best Ever place to reach you?

Gustavo Munoz Castro:  That would be my website, powerisa.com. And a close second would be just Facebook. Actually, if you search for my company Power ISA, I’ll pop up on Facebook. I have a free Facebook group you can join. There’s a lot of ways to kind of reach me on Facebook, and I’d love to continue the conversation if folks have any questions.

Theo Hicks: Perfect, Gustavo. Thanks for joining us today and giving us some of your inside tips on how to use Facebook to generate either buyers and/or seller leads. We went to a lot of detail about each, and for motivated buyers it’s a little bit easier, cheaper, faster, and that the focus here is having a really nice one picture, because you want to gain their attention pretty quickly while they’re scrolling through. And then making the call to action and the title very obvious. You gave us some examples of that, and how to, again, use the lead form ad and a single image to optimize conversions.

Then you mentioned the change in targeting. They took away a lot of the hyper-targeting abilities, but you can kind of get around that by the text that you use, being very specific and clear about the opportunity and the text, like whatever the part of the town it’s in. And then you can also use the Facebook pixel to say that once people have gotten to this point, I want more of these people.

And then the other one would be the sellers, which is a little bit more difficult. You need to offer something of value. It’s even more difficult for retail, whereas for motivated sellers, they already have a burning need, so the ad needs to speak to that need, but it can’t be direct. You have us lots of examples of how to again create an ad that is compliant in order to get those leads and get past Facebook compliance.

And then lastly, your Best Ever advice, which is about patience. Now the worst enemy is going to be when you are impatient, when you’re eager, and that’s when you start making bad decisions. So similarly, when you’re approaching advertising on Facebook, be patient. It’s not going to work in an hour. It’s going to take some testing, some tweaking to find out what works best. So be patient and the results will come. It’s going to take some effort. It’s not just going to be, push a few buttons and you’re good to go.

So again, thank you so much for sharing your insights. I really appreciate it. Best Ever listeners, as always, thank you for listening. Have a Best Ever day and we’ll talk to you tomorrow.

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