The kid who sold you chocolate bars in the neighborhood? Yeah, that kid. He went big with a couple of digital real estate platforms.
Jeremy Brandt was that kid. The one who bought bulk candy at Costco and sold it for profit in the neighborhood. The one who went door to door selling the surplus leather gloves his dad brought home from his job at the machine shop; who got a job at 16 at a computer shop and resold the discarded parts at a flea market.
The computer store job led to freelance work designing computer networks, which led to a consulting gig at the height of the tech bubble. “I had 15 or 20 people reporting when I was 19, which was ridiculous,” Brandt says. Then the bubble burst, and Brandt was out of a job in his early 20s. What next? He put his expertise in technology to work with a friend who was flipping houses. Today, at 37, Brandt owns Fast Home Offer, one of the country’s largest lead generation businesses, and WeBuyHouses.com, a national licensing platform for investors. In his spare time, he helped co-found the Fort Worth chapter of Entrepreneurs’ Organization.
“I’ve been a lifelong entrepreneur since I was seven,” Brandt says. “I’ve just had an aptitude for viewing the world that way. Even the bad things look like an opportunity.”
Growing up homeschooled:
Being homeschooled afforded me the ability to do what I wanted and excel at it, not spend a set amount of hours in school. My parents really encouraged that.
His fast start in real estate:
When I got started in this business, the first thing I did was put an ad on the Internet to buy houses. Because nobody else was doing that at the time, everybody that went to the Internet wanting to sell their house quickly contacted me.
Founding Fast Home Offer, 2002:
I started getting home sellers from all over the country contacting us. And I wasn’t going to fly to Miami to look at a property. So I cold-called investors in Miami and L.A., asking them if they were buying houses and if they would give me a fee if I sent them a lead. Now, we do large marketing campaigns all over the country; people who want to sell their house quickly contact us and then we refer them out to our clients, local real estate agents and investors. We work with about 10,000 home sellers a month.
How he gets paid:
Fast Home Offer is a bid-based subscription service. Let’s say you’re a real estate investor in Dallas and you want all the leads we can generate in Dallas and you pay us $100 a lead for home sellers in Dallas County. We’re selling every lead to you. If another investor wants to come in and buy leads, they’ll need to pay over $100 to join the market, bidding the price per lead up. And at any time, you have the opportunity to go over the top of him.
Where the idea came from:
We modeled it after Google’s Adwords system for advertising. The problem it allowed us to solve is that our advertising costs are incredibly variable by market. In Dallas, it might cost one-fourth to generate a lead, for example, what it costs in Los Angeles. We needed a way to match our revenue to our costs.
What his leads sell for:
Nationally, there’s a wide range because it’s a bid-based system. The price could be anywhere from $50 to many hundreds of dollars per lead. The price is lower in North Texas than the coasts.
Buying We Buy Houses four years ago:
I was looking for a brand that I could build a company under that could give reputable investors a national brand under which to operate.
His pet peeve:
One of the biggest problems in our industry is there are a lot of people coming out of real estate seminars who don’t know what they’re doing. A lot of these seminars teach ‘no-money-down’ investing. While it’s possible to buy a house with no money down, these seminars are churning out legions of people who do not have the money to buy a house.
How WeBuyHouses.com works:
We find people that fit our criteria from an experience standpoint, ability-to-close standpoint, and an ethics standpoint, and then we license our brand and provide marketing, technology, and ongoing education support to them. That generally looks like a license up front that might be $20,000 -to- $50,000 and an ongoing monthly license fee that might be a couple thousand dollars. People operate as WeBuyHouses.com in their local market.