Learn How To Start Investing In Real Estate
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JD Esajian On The Repair Estimator And How Systems Can Help Your Real Estate Business

Written by Brandcasting You

As a real estate investor, you make your money when you buy. You can have a thousand deals under your belt, but if you miss a cost in one of those deals, you could be in trouble. In today’s economic climate, materials costs are going up, and inventory is getting delayed. So much can go wrong. If only there is a system that can estimate these repairs and their costs. Look no further than CT Homes and their Co-Founder, JD Esajian. JD has bought, sold, and renovated over 1000 properties in his career and, believe it or not, he started as a farmer. Join your host, Jeffrey Rutkowski, as he talks to JD on building systems for your business. Learn how JD built his “Repair Estimator” system and how convenient it is in deal-making. Remember, time is money. The longer you take on a deal estimating numbers, the less likely you will make a deal.

Listen to the podcast here:

JD Esajian On The Repair Estimator And How Systems Can Help Your Real Estate Business

We’re going to be talking about estimating repairs on your rehab properties. We have our guest, Mr. JD Esajian, who is the President and CEO of CT Homes LLC. Before we get into it with JD, we’re going to move into our word of the week segment. Our word of the week segment is we want to kick off every show giving you some value, defining or talking about, maybe call it a quick lesson about a term or a phrase that you’re going to read in this episode. You can understand what we’re talking about and get the most out of it but more importantly, know how to implement what you’re learning after the show. Our word of the week is The Repair Estimator. The Repair Estimator is a tool that JD himself from CT Homes created. It gives his team the ability to estimate repairs on any given property they’re analyzing in fifteen minutes or less.

FBL 3 | Building Systems

Building Systems: One of the top ways of finding properties is through off-market opportunities. You need to know a lot of agents, hustle and communicate, send good marketing, and more.


Whether you’re using JD’s tool or a tool like it, it is vital. As real estate investors, we have the ability to evaluate properties quickly and quickly put a number on the cost of repairs. The reason why that’s important is that real estate is a numbers game. When your marketing goes out, leads come in. when about 50 leads on average come in, you’ll write about 25 offers. Of those 25 offers, you get 1 to 2 of those accepted that you’re going to do a deal on, you’re going to flip, you’re going to wholesale, maybe hold as a rental. The bottom line is you’re going to make some money on it. It’s a numbers game.

If we have to write 25 offers on average, that’s a nationwide average in some of your markets and maybe a little more, a little bit less, depending on where you’re operating from. Let’s use 25. If we had to spend hours upon hours estimating the repairs on 25 offers, getting contractors out there, hiring them to do a formal quote on the property, it’s going to waste a ton of your time. Also, a ton of the contractor’s time who is quickly going to get fed up writing 25 quotes only getting 1 or 2 deals out of it. That’s The Repair Estimator. That’s why it’s important. Let’s get into the show.

I am pumped for this episode. We have an absolute stud with us, Mr. JD Esajian. Let me tell you a little bit about JD’s accomplishments here, so who you’re learning from. JD, if you know him, he’s a humble guy. He’s never going to brag about these numbers. Muhammad Ali says, “It’s not bragging if it’s true.” This man that you’re going to learn from, over 1,000 properties bought and sold in his real estate career. Over 1,000 renovations as well. $235 million invested in real estate here in San Diego. Over twenty years in the business, in the real estate game and over $1 billion invested in real estate. It’s incredible.

Thank you.

It’s great to have you here.

It’s great to be here. Thanks for inviting me.

I got to get this out of my head. Those are some impressive numbers. A good-looking guy as well. How does somebody that’s done this much business become a Las Vegas Raiders fan? How does that happen?

Greatness attracts greatness. Some may agree and some may not agree with that. Everyone secretly is a silver and black Raiders fan, whether they admit it or not.

The league is better with the Raiders. I got to mess with JD here because I happen to be a Patriots fan. That old tuck rule started our dynasty.

[bctt tweet=”Real estate is just a numbers game. When your marketing goes out, leads come in.” username=”fortunebuilders”]

You’re welcome on that.

Thank you.

The year I bought my first house was that tuck rule year.

That was at 1999-ish, right?

Yes. That game was played in 2000, but it was the 1999 season, if I’m not mistaken. I’ve tried to forget that many times.

The first deal in 1999. I know you started CT Homes around 2004. Tell me about your first deal in ‘99.

I grew up in Fresno, California, a small little town in the middle of the state. I was renting. I was starting my first serious career after college. My mom was adamant about me not renting and having my money go to use. I wasn’t ready to buy a home. I was happy. I was paying $225 for half of the rent. At the time, she kept forcing me. It was the best decision that I made. She is a great mom. She forced me into buying that first house. All I could afford was a fixer at that time. I purchased a home from a family friend who had passed away years prior. That was my first investment. I bought the home for $90,000, which, for me in 1999, was more money than I had ever been on the hook for by far. I bought the home and I couldn’t afford to pay anyone to renovate it. I did all the work myself. I learned how to do it myself.

This was right out of college. You went USC, right?

I went to USC and I graduated from Fresno State. I graduated in ‘97. This was two years after college.

What are you doing with yourself at this time?

I got my degree in Ag Economics. In 1998, I was farming with a cousin of mine that lives nearby.

You’re joking, right?

I wish that I was.

You’re a farmer?

I was a farmer. I do love growing things. I have quite the green thumb. Farming as a career, I realized soon that wasn’t going to be what I wanted to do. At the same time, I was farming, on the weekends, I would get in my rental car and I would drive the state servicing vending machines that another family friend owned. I was doubling up. I wanted and needed to make more money. I felt like I was working eight days a week. What happened is I ended up buying that vending machine business from that family friend with the equity that I gained in that first home that I bought. At the time, I was farming and I was doing the vending machine business and that’s when I bought the home.

I don’t know if I could look at you the same. Not that there’s anything wrong with farming.

We have Wranglers, roper boots, and a big old buckle. I didn’t wear the cowboy hat. I wore a regular baseball hat. A big truck, 4X4, playing country music. Does life get any better than that? It does for me anyway.

In 1999, your mom pushed you into that. You rent out a couple of rooms.

I had to. The $560 mortgage was more than double my rent payment at the time.

This isn’t starting a real estate career. It’s doing a deal and buying a place to live in.

This is someone who loves me much and wanting me to move ahead faster than I was ready, my mom, and buying a place to live. That’s all that was at the time. I didn’t realize real estate could be a career. It was a place to live.

You don’t meet many children that say, “When I grow up, I want to be a real estate investor.” There should be more.

Hopefully, we’re creating more.

In 1999, you were buying a house. Your mom pushes you to do it. You rent out some rooms because you have to. You have a place to live. You’re farming and driving around doing your vending machine gig. How does one transition from a farmer to a real estate investor? How did that happen?

FBL 3 | Building Systems

Building Systems: It’s good to look at pricing things aggressively. It means to look on the lower side of what we know the home will actually sell for.


For me, it happened organically. At the same time that I was buying that house, my brother and our other friend and now business partner were living on the East Coast. They were deciding if real estate was going to be a career for them as well. They ultimately did. My brother, Dan, and our other partner, Conrad, formed our first company, CT Homes. I wasn’t involved at that time. I was still living on the West Coast. They invited me over to the neck of the woods in Connecticut to visit and I went because I missed them.

I had lent a little bit of money on their first deal. I didn’t have a lot of money, but I was one of the first private investors that they borrowed money. I was going to check on my investments too. When I was on that trip in 2004, that was my first full year in business. They presented me with an opportunity to work with them and drafted up a contract on a yellow piece of legal paper. I thought about it and made the decision. A few months later, I sold my house, I sold my vending machine business, and I moved to the East Coast. I packed up two bags and made the leap. That’s a condensed version of how it went down but that is what happened.

We had your brother on the show, Mr. Paul Esajian. I’m learning now. He described how he brought you in and gave you the start to the business. What I’m hearing here is you’ve got into real estate before he did and helped fund his first deal.

Those two things are 100% accurate. You could look at it a little differently on how he got his start.

You’re the CEO of CT Homes. You run the day-to-day operations. Incredible office, inspirational, great team. At any given time, 25 to 40 properties are in some stage of renovation. Give an overview of the day-to-day operations, the structure, how many employees, departments, etc.

We’ve always run CT Homes lean and mean, meaning you can run a successful real estate investing business without a lot of people if you have great systems and great people of course. We have a team of ten full-time employees at CT Homes that I’m fortunate enough to get to manage and those vary between acquisitions, individuals, managers, salespeople, and project managers, etc. Anywhere between 25 to 40 projects are going on at any given time.

That takes a great team and great systems to do that, but we’re constantly writing offers, refining our marketing, managing contractors, and we’re constantly staying ahead of the market so that we can sell them quickly as well. We write anywhere between 50 to 100 offers a week in various fashions. We’ll buy 1 to 2 homes a week on average and we’re renovating 25 or so homes on average at any given time. We usually have 3 to 6 homes either on the market or pending the sale that are done at any given time. That’s a quick overview of what we do every day and how we do it.

For the bulk of this episode, I want to pick your brain in the area of estimating repairs and dealing with contracts. Before we get into that, in today’s market, give the audience the top way you’re finding properties and the top way you’re funding your properties.

The top way we’re finding properties is through off-market opportunities and that comes in a variety of fashions, knowing a lot of agents, talking to a lot of people, hustling and communicating, sending out good marketing, looking online. Off-market opportunities meaning that aren’t available to the masses or listed on the MLS. That’s the number one fashion that we’re finding properties. Number one way that we’re financing them is by borrowing money from other sources, whether it’s a private individual or an institution. That’s how we fund 100% of our deals.

This is a question I get a lot from new investors. You know CT Homes well and you guys are well off enough to finance these deals with your own money. Why are you borrowing other people’s money? Why are you paying 7%, 8%, 10% on other people’s money when you could use your cash?

It comes down to simple leverage. If we can borrow other people’s money to pay them a great return and then use the capital that we have or make to invest in other things, now we’re making money in more than one way. That’s the ultimate reason. We can take money that we make in our deals and we can put them into longer-term passive investments or commercial investments and thereby create additional revenue streams. You can’t do that if you’re always using your own money.

That’s a good teaching moment, in my opinion. I remember years ago sitting with a mentor of mine and it was like a light bulb went off. I was always taught and maybe you weren’t, but you save your way to retirement.

It’s a common thing.

Our culture teaches work hard in school, get good grades, stay out of debt, debt is bad, and save your way to retirement. I remember my mentor laying it out and it clicked one day that you don’t save your way to wealth. You borrow your way to wealth. One of the things that most of us have been told is debt is bad. Would you agree with this? I would say debt is the greatest accelerator and the greatest tool that we have in the United States of America to grow off.

[bctt tweet=”In real estate, you have to work lean and mean.” username=”fortunebuilders”]

It is. Bad debt is bad. Good debt is the strongest vehicle we have to increase wealth. If you look at any successful person, it doesn’t need to be in real estate. They have borrowed money or leveraged in some capacity to get to that success.

I can’t help myself because I’m passionate about this stuff, but the last thing I’d like to say is when it comes to borrowing other people’s money, it’s not the cost that’s necessarily the most important factor. It’s the availability. I remember when we first met in 2007 and one of my first deals, all I had available to me was hard money at 13.99% and five points from Sunrise Financial.

That’s expensive capital, but what was the going rate at the time.

For me, that was the going rate at the time. I was brand new. With a little more experience, I probably would have knocked a couple of points off or so. 13.99% and make $30,000 or $40,000.

It’s not the cost of capital. It’s the availability. Where a lot of real estate investors can get bottlenecked or struggle is focusing on the wrong things. The cost of that capital is too high. If you factor in the deal and still be profitable, the availability of it is what’s powerful. It allows you to move forward faster, do more deals if you want to, or be freer with the capital that you do make. We wouldn’t be where we’re at now if we didn’t use leverage and borrow other people’s money. At the same time, you can help more people that way too. Borrowing someone’s money and giving them a return in a safe, structured manner on real estate is a great vehicle for that other individual to make more money as well. You’re doing good things by borrowing other people’s money.

We’re in Q2 of 2021, coming off 2020. Crazy year. You couldn’t have made up a year as we experienced. 2020 is a year that affected a lot of people and a lot of businesses in many ways. CT Homes happened to have the best year, which is saying a lot. It is an incredible year. In 2020, how did you guys pivot? How did you guys adjust to what was happening in the world and turn it into your best year?

In 2020, the real estate sector improved in some capacities and allowed people to do more primarily because of the effects of what happened with COVID and the pandemic. The reality is more people were able to realize that they wanted to own, they wanted more space, they wanted to have their place if you will. When we have properties to sell, that’s an advantage for those individuals. The government kept interest rates low. The availability of capital is low. Also, inventory has dropped as well. That created a windfall for real estate investors if you’re active or looking to get active.

Q3 and Q4 of 2020 were two of our strongest quarters ever on the company record. We’ve been doing this since 2004. Not in a bad way, but we’re taking advantage of what the market was giving us. Listening to our customers more, being more in tune with what the market was doing and it’s going up still and was going up at that time. Making some strategic adjustments in the business, how we interact with our customers, how we sell homes, how we buy homes, the terms that we offer. Those things, along with the systems that we already have allowed us to create more success than we would have without those things.

The market is hot all across the board, every market that I’m aware of. It’s created this phenomenon. You and I, ever since we’ve been in the business evaluating properties, we’re trained. We make our money when we buy. When you make that offer, you got to dial in that ARV, After Repair Value, and the repair cost. The ARV is becoming a thing of the past. I refinanced a property in Virginia and the comps, best-case scenario, $180,000. I couldn’t justify more than that. It’s a small little property. $220,000 appraisal. San Diego has been a whole different monster. It’s important to pause here and talk about it for investors to understand. When you’re making money when you buy, you have the after-repair value that the comp supports, but then you have what people are going to pay you for. How does that affect your buying decision, renovation decisions all across the board?

That’s been one of the biggest differences that we’ve made as a company, being more hyper-focused and looking at not only nationally but the individual markets that we invest in and staying ahead of the market, and having strong market knowledge. It’s the value of the home when we buy it and when we make our offer. What is the value of that home? That value always changes. It’s either going to go up or go down. Sometimes it stays the same. Usually, that’s not the case. We’ve adjusted that strategy and now we look at a value called market value. It’s a simple way of saying what the value of that home is at that specific time. That might be a week, two weeks, or three months after you own it. After the renovation is done, you’re putting it on the market.

If you’re not looking at that weekly and almost daily, you’re not in tune with your market and you’re not able to make smart business decisions. Should you pull back something on the renovation scope of work because it’s not needed and you’re going to overspend? Can you add something to the renovation budget because of something you see on the market, a property that sells and adds more value to your home? We’re constantly evaluating our homes that determine the market value. We do this every week. We do this multiple times a week. That is one of the top three, if not higher, things that we’ve adjusted and done the business that’s allowed us to stay ahead of the market certainly as it’s going up but also as it’s going down because markets don’t always go up in an individual time period. If you look back over a long period of time, values do always go up.

FBL 3 | Building Systems

Building Systems: Investors should have the ability to estimate repairs on their own, whether they have experience in renovation or not, so that they don’t lose the deal.


Where a lot of investors can get hurt is if they have success. They do a transaction. The market is strong and it goes well. A lot of that going well wasn’t necessarily because of their education or their information or anything that they did so much as what the market did. You get excited and you have this false sense of confidence. That doesn’t happen on the next deal. If you’re more in tune with your market and constantly evaluating the inventory that you own in the markets that you own them in, you’re able to make decisions faster and stay ahead of market changes.

I was talking to your acquisition manager, Dan. He was telling me an interesting story because I was debating on where to price something that I’m putting on the market. It was a CMA property or something like that to where the ARV supported $800,000. You guys did a test and said, “Let’s put it out on market value $850,000.”

$849,000 is the one where we listed it out.

No action. You then drop it down to $800,000 and then you get bidding wars and you sell for $879,000. What did you learn from that? Where would you advise somebody to list the price, more towards that ARV, more towards the market value, somewhere in the middle?

If you’re looking at a strategy for sales, one of the strongest things to do is make whatever you’re selling more competitive in any market. If the market is stable or flat or if it’s going up in a strong seller’s market, it’s good to look at pricing things aggressively, meaning on the lower side of what we know the home will sell for. You’re going to get more people to the home. More people are going to look at it. Hopefully, you’ll get more offers and create a scenario where you have more interested parties to be able to negotiate with, which is the strategy that Dan was talking to you about.

It’s one thing to know that a house will sell for $850,000. It’s another thing to price that a little more aggressively on the lower side. Get more people there and then negotiate with them. Everyone wants to go look at a deal or get a better deal. They’re going to get out of their home or out of their apartment more to go look at something that’s well priced. That strategy holds up over time. In this particular market, that’s working well. Homes in our time of owning them, in the 2 to 3 months that we own the property, can increase in this market by 10%, 12%, 15% in some cases. We never need to have that happen when we buy the home for it to be a deal because then you’re speculating. That’s how you can get burned in this business.

To be clear, new investors, we make our buying decisions based on the ARV, the After Repair Value. When you pick up a distressed property that you have to do renovations on, you’re looking, “After I do these renovations, what will that appraised for based on properties that have sold in the past six months ideally?” That’s what you want to make your buying decisions on. I know your process. It’s the same process I use. You trained me. A lead comes into the office, whether it’s from a realtor, whether it’s from your online presence, whatever it may be and you’re going to gather some basic information on that property. You’re going to decide if there’s a motivated seller there to go check out the property. You run a quick desktop analysis, ballpark ARV, ballpark repair costs based on your pictures, whatever that’s available.

What I want to focus on is step three, you’re going to go out to a field appraisal. You got to walk the property. In a period of time, you’re going to estimate repairs. You’re going to confirm your ARV. Talk to us about estimating repairs. This is big, not just for newer investors but experienced investors. I hear this a lot. You make your money when you buy and that’s predicated upon nailing that ARV and nailing that repair cost. You could have 1,000 deals under your belt. At the first deal and you missed the market in one of those numbers, you could be in trouble. Especially with the cost of materials rising.

Delays in inventory, getting supplies, it’s crazy out there.

It’s funny seeing all these memes on Facebook, “I got four sheets of plywood. I’ll trade it for a 2000 Mustang.”

It’s quadrupled more than that in value or cost for some of these materials. It’s wild.

Talk to us about your process in estimating their appraisal on the property.

Bottom line, you’re either going to have the experience in estimating repairs or you’re going to gain it on your own or you’re going to leverage someone else’s. A lot of our community that learned from us leverage our experience. We have systems around how to estimate repairs. We have documents, we have forms, and that’s what we use. We have something called the repair estimator, which you’re familiar with.

[bctt tweet=”People want to look for a better deal rather than something that is well priced.” username=”fortunebuilders”]

We go out and we evaluate the property and we drive the comps. When we get to the home, we’re looking at specific things. We’re looking at them in a specific order. We’re going through our repair estimator. We’re checking what needs to be done. We’re measuring or estimating square footage, those things. We’re tackling all of the areas of the home in a strategic way, even the way that we walk through the home to be able to maximize time, be efficient, and not miss anything. Checking on square footage, making counts, and things.

The repair estimator has our costs in there. It averages nationally for material and labor. It makes it convenient and easy. It’s taken a lot of hard work to get that document created, but that is what we do. Starting out, if you want to step way back to when we started before we had the repair estimator and all this experience, we would guess in some instances, which is not a smart idea. We’d have to wait to get actual contractor bids and then we’d lose the deal. At least we’d have that bid and then we would spend hours breaking that down and dividing it up into cost categories and breaking it into the areas of the home so that we can improve the next time we walk through the house.

How do you estimate repairs on that first property in 1999? What did that look like?

I walked into the home and I looked around at all the wallpaper, the drapes, the shag carpet, and I said, “This is going to be a lot of money.” That was it. I couldn’t afford to pay someone to do the work. I was planning on doing it all myself. When I could have a little extra money to buy materials, that’s when I was planning on doing the work. There was no system for estimating repairs on that house. It was all sweat equity, which is not a system. That’s a recipe for disaster.

You have a tool you walk through. There are about 58 major sections of the property.

It’s five full pages. We could have a 500-page document, but it would never get used. It’s done in a fashion that covers all the areas of the house, but it’s efficient that we use.

If I’m hearing you correctly, you’re saying that investors should have the ability to estimate repairs on their own, whether they have experience in renovation or not so they don’t lose a deal. If we’re waiting for a contractor to get in there, someone else got it, plus the contractor is not going to be too happy.

You’re going to call ten contractors to get two to go to the house and one probably won’t make it there. That’s the nature of dealing with other people, especially now and everyone’s busy. If you’re waiting for that, you’re going to lose out on the opportunity. You need to have the ability to estimate repairs whether you’ve done 1,000 rehabs like we have or not.

I got the tool up right here. On the first two pages, we have our exterior, the roof, the gutters, the finish, masonry, painting, windows, garage, landscaping, concrete asphalt, decks, pergola, fence, pool, septic. On the exterior of the house, what is the biggest component where investors will miss the mark, in your opinion?

A roof is a big one that stands out. In lots of cases, you can’t see the roof or can’t see all the roof. You’re not capable or willing to go up there. If you do, you don’t know what you’re looking at. That’s a big thing. These are smaller, but they add up. If you don’t properly calculate for new fencing and you don’t put that into your budget, depending on the size of the yard, you can spend a few thousand dollars in fencing. It seems like a small thing, but if that happens 3 or 4 times, there goes half for all of your profit. On the outside, those would be two things that stand out. The exterior of the home, finish-wise, stucco siding, brick, whatever it is, those things can be pretty evident when you’re looking at them if they’re not good. Things like the roof, we’re not accounting for fencing, should mean thousands and thousands of dollars that get missed in your budget, which means you’re not buying right.

You mentioned even somebody going up on the roof they don’t know what they’re looking for. When I’m looking at a roof, I’m looking for things like multiple layers of shingles. I’m you’re looking for obvious discoloration, warping, holes, things like that. Give us a quick rundown on how you train your team when they go on-site for you? What are they looking for to determine if it needs a new roof?

Visually, when you pull up to the home, we’re looking for those obvious signs, shingles that are off, holes if there is one, or discoloration, which doesn’t always mean the roof is bad. Other things that are a little less common for people to pay attention to. We train our team on something called delamination. If it’s composition shingle, pieces of the shingle over time wear and tear and it starts to come apart. On the ground, it almost looks like someone’s sprinkled salt or a bunch of snails walked around.

If that’s what’s going on, delamination, that’s not what is on the ground. That’s pieces of the roofing that have either blown off or the weather has put onto the ground. That’s another telltale sign that even if the roof looks okay, it doesn’t have a lot of life left. Those are some of the common things. Looking for areas of the roof like you said multiple layers but finding key spots around the house to be able to look for that because it’s not always evident.

One thing you taught me not too long ago is a roof has maybe ten years of life. It’s borderline. You can replace it or not replace it. We are working with some companies out here to get certification on those roofs. Talk to the readers about that because a lot of investors say, “I don’t replace it or I do replace it.” Not realizing there’s a third option.

At the end of the day, what your buyer is looking for is some assurance that the roof is not going to leak if we’re talking about the roof. There’s a couple of ways to accomplish that. You can put a new roof, which may or may not be needed. If it’s not needed, you can certify it, which is taking a licensed roofing contractor going to the home and doing some needed either touch-ups or pieces to the roof they need to be repaired, changing shingles, adjusting flashing. It depends on the size of the roof and the age of the roof. Usually, on average, that’s anywhere between $1,500 to $3,000.

When they do those things, then they can issue some form of a warranty that the roof will not leak for a period of time. Usually, a year, sometimes two years. They’re not warranting that the roof is new, but you’ve spent a lot less on the roof than if you put a new roof on. Usually, a quarter to less than a quarter of the cost of a new roof. Most importantly, you now have something that you can provide your buyer peace of mind, “The roof isn’t brand new, but you’ve got a warranty that it’s not going to leak for X amount of time.” That’s an efficient way to accomplish your end result, which is giving your buyer some assurances and putting out a quality product when you’re done.

How long does it take you to estimate repairs on a property? Where should we get to, “This is the time we’re out and getting.”

For me, granted this is after twenty-plus years of experience, it takes me less than fifteen minutes to estimate repairs on the entire home. Frankly, that’s where someone should strive to get to. Starting out, even using our systems, it’s going to take someone a bit longer because you’re getting comfortable using the repair estimator, etc. Quickly, we can accelerate the learning curve and get someone from taking 2 hours to 1 hour to ultimately 45 minutes in a short time period. Our goal is to be in and out of a house in less than twenty minutes.

You don’t need to micro-focus on everything. You need to get through the home, look at the big areas, and make some estimations of course because you’re not looking through or into the walls based on the age of the home. Long-winded answer to say twenty minutes or less is what you should be striving towards because that allows you to get your offer in faster, get back to your desk, call the agent, call the seller, or talk to the seller and get your offer to them and ultimately buy the home faster. If you’re taking too long, someone else is taking less time and they’re getting the deal. Great deals and good deals don’t last long. You know that as well as I do.

One mistake I made early on in my career is it’s easy to design the house how you would want it to be for yourself. Learning to put on that investor mindset. I remember one. It wasn’t a huge deal. I didn’t realize after all of the comps for mica countertops and I decided to go granite.

Granite is great.

I didn’t need it to sell the house.

It may not get you more money.

Talk to us about the inside of the house. What are you doing on the inside of the house? How are you determining what quality is needed inside? What are some sizzle features that you will throw above and beyond what the comps provide to make your house stand out?

FBL 3 | Building Systems

Building Systems: Your buyer is looking for some assurance that the house is all good. For example, the roof shouldn’t be leaking. If it does, you can buy a new roof or certify it with a contractor.


An investor needs to understand what their market is and isn’t, meaning you want to look at homes in terms of price point, lower, medium, high end. Have an understanding of what people expect to get in those homes. If we don’t know that, then we’re walking into a home with not all we need. I was talking about wearing two hats when we go through a home, our investor hat and our buyer hat. The investor hat is looking at numbers. It’s like Neo and he’s in the matrix. He’s not looking at things. He’s looking at numbers. It’s the analogy I get. That’s important because we have to come out of the home estimating repairs.

At the same time, the person that’s going to be looking at buying it is going to be looking at other things. We’re putting our buyer hat and deciding how we’re going to redesign the home. What’s needed? What’s not needed? Do we need to put in granite? Does Formica get us to where we need to be for the price point we need to have to be able to be profitable? That’s important to be able to understand. Things that are common that people expect now are more open space. Back in earlier times, 50, 60, 70 years ago, they were building homes that were chopped up and lots of rooms. Now people want that great room, open concept. You’re always looking at trying to create a more open space.

Hard surfaces are more common now, whether it’s granite or quartz. Formica, I wish we could still use it because it was easier and more affordable. Nowadays people are going to walk in and see Formica and walk right back out. Some form of a hard surface, countertop quartz or granite. The decision-maker’s room has to be nice. The master bedroom and that bathroom have to be nice too. We’re spending time and money there. The areas of the home that always sell the house are the kitchen and the bathrooms. We’re spending our time there.

To answer your question on sizzle features, which are sometimes usually smaller things that don’t need to be there but add a lot of value to a home, maybe not actual dollars and cents value but emotional value where you’re going to walk into one of our finished homes and say, “That’s awesome. I haven’t seen that anywhere else.” Now you’re emotionally connected. A couple of those things can make a home stand out and they’re pretty affordable. At certain price points, we’ll put in heated floors in the master bathroom. When a home has a heating system, the floor of the bathroom does not need to be heated at any home.

In certain areas and certain price points, if you have that and maybe it costs $500 or $1,000, depending on the size of the bathroom, then you can warm your feet. You can sit down and warm your bottom. I’m not confirming or denying that I’ve done that before, Jeff. That’s a central feature that is cool. Another simple thing that will add is when you put in a shower, you got to have a shower head, handheld, or something like that. They make showerheads now that are Bluetooth enabled that you can put speakers so you can play music through.

It’s not something that you need to have in the shower, but when you put that in and someone’s showering, they can envision themselves listening to music or listening to your show. How else would you shower than with Jeff Rutkowski and JD Esajian in a podcast? That’s $50 to $60. That’s not something that they’re going to see everywhere else. They’re emotionally connected to the home more. They’re going to remember the house more. If they can see themselves in that home, chances are they have a high likelihood of being in that home soon and buying it.

Everything you listed is low-cost items, but they’re a wow factor for people.

Outdoor space is important, even in areas where weather-wise, you can’t be outdoors all year round like we can here in San Diego. Outdoor space is valuable. You can buy them inexpensively, like fire pits that are propane enabled. You can buy those for affordable now and create space in the backyard. Even if the yard isn’t big, someone should envision themselves being there. The outdoor space lighting is super huge. Lighting is a super cool, inexpensive thing that you can do in the backyard. That creates a lot of emotion. It comes back to this emotional component. When people go into a renovated home, they’re going to expect a new kitchen. They’re going to expect newer appliances. They’re going to expect bathroom upgrades. If you can have a few little things that people get hooked emotionally, then you’re operating with gas, you’re cooking with fire, whatever that is saying is.

Great tips there on the inside and the outside. What about landscaping? What about that curb appeal? What are you doing in the backyard? What’s necessary? What’s not necessary?

The curb appeal is important. It’s the first thing people see. It’s the first thing that normally gets shown in a photo. We’re spending our time and ultimately money in the front of the house because that’s the most important. We’re doing more of a blank canvas, if you will, in the backyard so people can see what they want. In the front, you can do a dry escape which is popular. It’s economical to install. It’s also economical to maintain too. Less grass, less artificial turf for that reason in the front. Although we do use turf in the front because there’s no substitute for that green look in front. Some plants against the house. We want to look inviting. We want to pull you in. White picket fences if the house warrants it in the yard. It can be a nice touch because it’s the American dream. It looks awesome.

Backyard stuff is more of a blank canvas, more mulch than grass. We’d like to have a patio back there. We’ve made the mistake of being more too specific in the backyard and finding the space where someone that owns the home has a different vision. For example, maybe you put a bunch of grass or sod back there and the person that owns the home has pets and dogs and they don’t want all that grass. They want more space for a dog run. Make it more of a blank canvas so someone can see themselves. As an example, we’re selling a home that we’re finishing. We’re taking photographs. We’re going to list it. It’s under half an acre in the middle of town in North Park. You and I were talking about that house.

We’re not going to fully landscape a half-acre because it’s not needed and it’s expensive. It’s a perfect house for someone to put in a pool. We’re not going to put one in because we don’t need to. We’re getting renderings of what that yard could look like with a pool from a pool contractor. We can put it in our listing and we can put it in our marketing material. Someone can see what that yard would look like with a pool. Not only that but have a contractor referral to put in that pool if that’s something that they want to do.

It’s a cool thing. We spent a couple of $100 to do that. It can promote business for that pool contractor, which helps further stimulate the economy. It also is a great thing for someone to see when they walk into the home. This home, if I lived there, I’d put in a pool. As an investor, it doesn’t make economic sense to spend $50,000, $60,000, $70,000 $100,000 to put in a pool in this house because we’re not going to get that money back. Creating the vision and the emotion will get the same thing done. That’s another way to landscape the backyard without putting the pool.

In fifteen minutes, we knock out these repairs using your tool. You have the exterior, the interior, and the landscaping. We then got to find a contractor that’s going to do this work and not just do the work but do it on time and on budget. That’s the key. We’re going to get into that next, but before we do, I want to make everyone reading aware of a class coming up. It can help you in a lot of the areas that we’re talking about. Fortune Builders is offering a one-day virtual summit. It’s taught by Than Merrill and Paul Esajian, JD’s brother as well.

The purpose of this class is twofold, but it’s to help you get up and running in real estate and to help you scale your existing businesses. To give you an example of some of the things that will be covered in this class is the top way of finding distressed off-market properties that JD was talking about as well, how to raise money, how to fund these deals. They do specifically get into how to estimate repairs. That was something I had no experience with as a contractor. To this day, I’m not the guy you want to put a hammer in his hand. It doesn’t end well.

[bctt tweet=”Great deals don’t last long. If you’re taking too long, someone else is taking less time.” username=”fortunebuilders”]

I’m going in. I want to invest in real estate, but I don’t know what I’m looking for. I remember sitting through this class. For me, it was back in 2007. The class has evolved a lot since then. I remember sitting there listening. It gave me such confidence, “I can do this. I could make this happen.” Also, in that class, they get into how to set up streams of passive income. Many people are interested in real estate, but they don’t want to do the work. They didn’t want to flip houses. They want to maybe loan money to someone like yourself and make high rates of return on their money or park it in some commercial deal. They get into that, too. If any of that is appealing and you have that desire to get started or learn, it’s a free class. Go to and sign up quickly. It’s a free class and a ton of great knowledge.

Confidence is the key. Whether you have the experience or not, if we’re talking about fixing distressed homes, you need to be able to walk into a home and feel confident that you’ve done a good job and confident with the repair numbers that you’ve estimated. If you get that wrong, chances are the deal is not going to work out well for you. Estimating the repairs is getting on the field of play because then you got to manage other people that do the work. If you don’t have a system, hope and pray that it gets done on time and on budget and they show up. That in and of itself is a difficult process. It takes a lot of time and a lot of energy if you’re not doing it the right way.

When we’re seeking these contractors, many of you out there, it could be handled differently. We have general contractors that can run the entire job and take care of the subcontract for us. In some jobs, we could need a few different subcontractors, electricians, plumbers, whatever it may be. Some companies could be set up in-house where you essentially have somebody on staff GC-ing the job as well. One way or another, to succeed in this business, we need good contractors. We need to know how to manage them, how to find them, and how to keep them on time and budget.

Licensed, mature, grown-up, adult contractors, that’s important. As in any industry, all those things don’t necessarily exist in the people that you’re talking to.

I remember getting into the business and you would assume everybody that advertises themselves as a contractor is licensed and insured. I discovered that wasn’t the case. How are you verifying that? If they’re dealing with a contractor, how can someone verify and not just take their word, but they are licensed and they do have insurance?

Every state has a licensing board of some capacity. That licensing board, 99% of the time, will have a website and you can go to that website and you can put in a contractor’s name or their license number to verify. State board licensing for that particular state will have the ability either with their website or calling them to verify either by name or by a number of their license that they’re active. A lot of those state board websites will have places where you can look and see if there have been any complaints against that contractor. That’s important, too.

Above and beyond that, looking online is important too. Everything you see online is inaccurate. If you go to someone’s Yelp page and they have four stars and there’s a couple of ones that are super low, that information could be accurate or it could not be accurate, but it gives you a guide. The definitive way is to go to the state licensing board and see if they have a license. If they do, is it active and do they have any other requirements that they need? Do they need to be bonded? Should they need to have workers comp or not? That’s a great place to start with that activity. Jeff, you know as well as I do that having a license doesn’t mean that someone’s good at what they do.

How are you finding them? Where you find somebody doesn’t tell you whether they should or not. There are certain indications. Give us 2 or 3 ways, top ways, of finding good contractors.

There are tons of online resources. Some are advertised on TV. You can go where contractors market themselves. People go and post the job that they need. There’s a lot of ones online. That’s one great place. Places where contractors go to buy stuff, whether it’s a big box type store, Home Depot, or an electrical supply house where an electrician may go to get materials. Those are two great ones. The other one that we love is other job sites. We drive around. We go to work. We take our kids to places. We’re driving somewhere with family or friends. We see a job site where people are working. We all know what that looks like. If you know what to say and how to say it and you get out and you start talking to contractors the right way, that’s a great place to find contractors.

It’s also a great place to experience what they’re doing. Whether you have a lot of construction experience or not, you can look around and see if a job site is being kept clean or is trash everywhere. Does it look like it’s an organized site? Is it free for all? Are you there and everyone’s sitting around having a drink and smoking? I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to do, but on a job site, you shouldn’t be doing that. Those are three great places to start to find contractors to fill the funnel, if you will. I love other job sites for the reasons I mentioned. You get to see them working or not working and that’s an indication too.

Let’s help the readers out. Do a little roleplay with me, JD. I’m a contractor. I’m on the job. You roll-up. I’m not sitting around drinking coffee. I’m doing my job. How are you going to approach me? What are you going to say? What’s a little elevator pitch type of deal are you going to use?

We teach this at the rehab boot camp. We’re going to introduce ourselves, “Jeff, my name is JD Esajian. How are you doing? I know you’re busy. I don’t want to take a lot of your time. I’m a part of a national network of investors. Our company is CT Homes LLC. Locally, in San Diego, we renovate anywhere between 25 to 40 projects going on at any given time. We’re looking for a couple of keys, select contractors that can work in our system. I know you don’t have a lot of time. I’ll be brief. Our system has a detailed scope of work. It has a payment schedule associated with that. Contractors love this. They tell me all the time. It tells when you’re going to get paid for the work that you’re doing. Jeff, we love to pay contractors when the work gets done. We love to pay contractors because, in our system, that means the job is getting done. You’re getting paid. We could potentially move you from job to job. Would you like to make money in this system, Jeff?” That’s the elevator pitch. That’s a version of it.

I’m grabbing their business card. I’m not taking too much time because they are busy. You want to recognize that. In a short time period, if someone doesn’t realize why they’re even talking to you, then they’re not going to remember you. They’re going to shove you off. They’re not going to pay attention. Love and pay are two powerful words to say together. I said it three times to you. For a contractor, in that first conversation, they don’t care who you are at that point. They want to know what you mean to them in terms of business in that conversation. Explaining some things that save them time, detailed scope of work, how they’re going to get paid, would love to pay, those things. It doesn’t automatically mean that every contractor is going to work out when you do that well, but it sets you down the path of success and starts the relationship off well. You only have one time to make a first impression. You want to do that right in that elevator pitch.

You got the business card. You’re going to follow up with them. What’s the next point of contact you’re going to make?

The next point of contact is we’ll create time. We’ll set up a more detailed interview and that might be on the phone, in person, or we’ll meet them at one of our other projects if we have another project. If not, then we meet at a neutral location. We spent a little bit more time explaining our system. We have six critical documents. We have seven stages of the rehab process. We go over that and teaching them how working with us is going to save them time and help them make more money. That’s the next step.

FBL 3 | Building Systems

Building Systems: As an investor, it doesn’t make economical sense to spend $1000 to put in a pool in a house because you’re not going to get that money back. Creating the vision and the emotion gets the same thing done.


As we’re identifying our next property or a property for them to bid on, we’re vetting them out. We’re taking the opportunity to decide through our best efforts if they’re going to be worth working with or having a bid on our job. We spend a lot of time upfront, not only marketing for contractors but interviewing them. We don’t want to work with every contractor. We want to work with the right contractor.

Talk to me a little bit about how you have them bid the job. You have something that you created called the scope of work. They’re not coming there and you say, “You need a new kitchen.” You’re coming with the SKU numbers from Home Depot and the materials you want across the board. Talk about that system and how that helps your business.

Within Fortune Builders, we have different templates that our community can have access to. These templates are models of identical scopes of work that we’ve executed in the past that have worked well, buyers have said they love, they’ve helped sell the house fast and for more money. We turn those into templates so that can be replicated. That scope of work is a version of those templates. It’s the latest and greatest feature that a home needs to have. Stainless steel was a sizzle feature and we’d select between white or black appliances. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with white or black appliances. Nowadays, if you renovate a home and then you put in white appliances in that renovated kitchen, no bueno. It’s not going to command. You got to do stainless steel appliances.

They used to put tile countertops in a renovated house. There’s nothing wrong with tiles, but people don’t expect that now. They’re not going to pay top dollar for it. That scope of work spells all that out. It makes it easy for a contractor to bid on. The easier it is for them to bid, the more likely you are to get that bid back. That scope of work is broken down into item numbers and SKUs. It’s broken up into areas of the house. It mimics in a lot of ways the repair estimator that we already talked about. At the end of the day, it makes it so that you’re not needing to explain to a contractor what shade of white you want the house painted.

If you tell a contractor, “I want the kitchen painted white.” There’s only one shade of white. Automatically, they’re going to pick the one that you’re thinking about. It doesn’t work that way. I don’t even know how many shades of white there are. If you go into Home Depot or Lowe’s, you look at the color. I’m amazed that there are that many colors that can be used. That’s one example. There are 25,000 different kinds of faucets you can use and then the color and the shade of the faucet. The scope of work takes all that and eliminates the guesswork. It sets the stage for the bid to get done properly and get back to you fast. Ultimately, it’s what gets us to the next stage of creating the rhythm of the job, the payment schedule, and the course of work that’s going to be done. It sets the foundation for everything that comes after that.

We need to get you back on the show sometime soon because we could spend a whole episode on that scope of work and dial it in. The one-day virtual summit gets into that as well. It’s at It can give you a little help on that and how to formulate that and get that going. It saves you so much time, so much energy, and it takes away all the guesswork from the project. They know their marching orders. If that faucet is not available, this is the backup faucet.

Those are all decisions that need to be made in residential redevelopment when you’re renovating a home. There are all those decisions. If you’re not making them as the owner, someone else is making them. That is not a good thing to happen. Even if that person is good at making those decisions, you want to dictate what the home needs and has to have. There are thousands and thousands of decisions that can go into a home.

We will get you back in because that’s important and that will provide a lot of value. JD, we’re going to shift into a segment of the show that we like to call The Fear Factor. As you know, I’ve had the privilege of teaching and training tens of thousands of students as you have all across the country and in Canada a few times. The biggest question that I’ve got over ten years of training and they ask it differently every time is, “I know what I should do next. I need to start marketing to find deals, but I’m afraid because what if the phone rings? I need to write an offer, but I’m afraid because what if they say yes?”

There are a lot of ways to say that, but it comes down to fear.

I’ve learned in this business that the most important piece of real estate we can ever develop is in our ears. Give the readers a tip for overcoming fear in business and life, JD.

First, it’s good to recognize that fear is always a part of making a decision. It’s always there. The highest level athlete or the highest level person in any industry, when they’re doing what they’re doing, there’s an element of fear. They’ve learned to harness it, if you will. One of the number one way a person can overcome fear in any industry, real estate is no different, is to surround yourself with the right people. Have the right tools available to you. I’m not talking about a power drill and a hammer. For most people, that’s not going to get you far. I’m talking about mentors, coaches, someone where when you don’t know the answer, you can go get the answer.

When we started, we didn’t have any of the answers. We didn’t have experience in real estate. We invested in our education, in coaches, and mentors. We still do that to this day. Surround yourself with good people. That’s the number one thing someone can do. Secondly, is to understand that the fear is going to be there. You don’t get what you want. A person doesn’t get to where they want to get to without taking the next step or that next step forward. Understanding that regardless of how good you are or what experience you ever don’t have, it’s going to be there and you got to take action.

That’s a solid answer. If you’re waiting for the fear to dissipate or go away, it never happens. We had a UFC former Heavyweight Champion, Frank Mir, in one of our events right before COVID hit. I remember that was his message, “You do it despite the fear. You do it with the fear there.”

[bctt tweet=”In the real estate business, one way or another to succeed in this business is to have good contractors.” username=”fortunebuilders”]

It’s like any muscle. You exercise it. Speaking of that Frank Mir story, I’m a big fan of music. I was reading an article on Bruce Springsteen, The Boss. Whether you like his music or don’t like his music, there’s no denying that he’s one of the greatest musicians of all time. He performs 3 or 4-hour concerts and he’s been performing live forever. He said that every time that he gets ready to go on stage, even to this day, he has butterflies in his stomach. He realizes that’s a part of the game and that makes him better when he goes out there. I’m sure you get the same thing. Every time that I get a chance to step out on stage in front of 5, 500, or 5,000 people, even though we’ve done it a lot, I always feel those butterflies.

We’ve been able to use that fear and harness it to make us better in that activity. That’s a story that came to mind when you’re talking about Frank Mir. The third thing that is important in overcoming fear is understanding your why. Why are you doing what you’re doing? If you’re getting into real estate or you want to get into real estate or you’re in real estate and want to get better and you don’t understand why you’re doing it. I understand there’s probably a financial component. There’s usually something more than that, whether it’s our families. I know that’s a big why for you. It’s certainly a big why for me. Maybe it’s giving back to your community or your church or whatever it may be but understanding why you’re doing something. If you can tap into those three things, there’s nothing that you can’t do.

That’s maybe the best answer we had in The Fear Factor segment. That’s powerful, especially the why. After seeing tens of thousands of people get into real estate, over time, you begin to see common threads with the people that succeed and in some that don’t. It’s always the ones that are clear and locked in on why they’re doing what they’re doing. If you’re reading this and you’re not clear like, “I want to be financially free. I want to get out of the job I don’t like.” Whatever it may be. There’s an exercise a coach of mine walked me through years ago, but it’s called The Eight Layers of Why.

I challenge you to do this. Start with this one question and say, “Why am I reading this show?” Write an answer, “I want to learn a little bit more about real estate.” Ask yourself why again. Do it eight times. I’ve done this in a live setting and it helps people pull out that motivating factor. You need that when you are faced with fear. In life and business, especially this business, we are constantly faced with uncomfortable situations that you have to have something driving you to push through. I encourage you to try that. You won’t regret it. It’s a powerful exercise. The first three answers may be superficial, but then you start to dig deep and see, “This is why I’m doing it. This is what I want out of my life. When things get tough, I’m going to remember that and use that as a motivation.” JD, what’s the biggest opportunity you see in the market for the remainder of 2021?

Get your name on deeds. This is not just for 2021. I remember a family member of ours early on and an early mentor said, “Get your name on deeds. Own real estate. Over time, that’s going to do well for you.” That’s a simple way to describe what we’ve been talking about, investing in real estate and all the systems. Get in the game. You can’t hit a home run or a single, double, or triple if you don’t get out on the field. Being in the game, learning, educating, surrounding yourself, getting a mentor, that’s the opportunity.

Whether the market is going up or staying stagnant as it does or going down, you can look over time and see elements of all of that happening. If you get in the game, do it the right way. Learn, have mentors overcome that fear. That’s the opportunity. I could sit here and say when things changed last March 2020 and there was a hold on what the market was doing. I wish we had bought more homes but there was an element of fear and an unknown. Looking back on it, if you buy right, you’re going to do well over time. Get in the game.

If you want to be more specific, there’s a tremendous opportunity on the commercial side of our business, Equity Street Capital. There’s a tremendous opportunity in a bit of a shorter window or maybe it’s longer where we’re able to obtain some pretty significant amazing assets with our partners. Being able to invest in those opportunities. This isn’t something that you learn how to do by watching videos on the weekend. This is high-level stuff. That’s a tremendous opportunity. Those are some initial things that come to mind. In the seller’s market that we’re in, if you have the ability and can get the ability to learn how to buy fix, and have a property to sell the right way, you’re going to do well. You’re going to help other people. The market is advantageous for sellers.

There’s a woman who’s buying a condo from us. She got emotional. We heard through the agent that when we accepted her offer, she started crying because this is her first place to live, the first place to own. She’s been beaten out on other offers. We’re helping that person. Above and beyond, the financial gains that our company gets to have. We stimulate the economy. We get to improve values for other homes in the area. Last but not least, we get to change someone’s life by them moving into that home and creating memories that may be a lifetime for them in there.

The second part was great, too. That first part is getting in the game. Never been a piece of real estate I’ve owned long-term I’ve regretted owning.

I wish we had held everything that we’ve ever bought, fixed, and sold. That’s not the business that we’re in residential real estate. You got to get in the game to be able to take advantage and to be able to be a part of that process.

I’m going to get you out of here on this question. I got a little gift for you, JD. We’ll close the show here. We call this segment the top three tips. JD, top three tips for somebody reading this right now thinking of starting to invest in real estate.

FBL 3 | Building Systems

Building Systems: Confidence is the key. Whether you have the experience or not, you need to be able to walk into a home and feel confident that when you walk out, you’ve done a good job.


There’s going to be a little bit of overlap with the top three fear overcoming answers that I gave. Number one is going to be having the right people around you. That’s not just for business, that’s for mindset, that’s life. If you have people around you that are always telling you that things are hard, you can’t do it. You’re never going to get to where you want to go, that’s tough.

This is something I’ve heard from every successful person, but they’ll say look at the five people that you spend the most time with, outside of your wife, kid, and immediate family. That’s a picture of where you’re going. Some of you might need a new circle.

Jeff, it affects many areas of your life, business and otherwise. That’s number one. Number two is education. There’s a natural ability that people have and some people don’t have it. I certainly can look at myself and realize I’ve been successful in a lot of things. I didn’t have the natural ability, but I was educated. I kept doing it, kept practicing. Not taking failure as a no. It’s, “We got to get better.” Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Being relentless. Hustle is a word I like. Not hustling but hustle. Get after it. Things don’t come to you. You go to things. Success doesn’t fall in your lap. You go create success. Someone could say, “I won the lottery.” That’s luck.

That’s far between and they lose the money in five years.

That’s accurate. I don’t know that you need much more beyond surround yourself with good people and getting after it. Working at it every day. What’s your third one?

For me, the answer is always education. In any question I asked you, you could have answered with that and that would have worked. My experience was I invested from 2003 to 2007 with no education. It didn’t end well for me. In 2007, I said, “I’m not quitting, but I’m going to learn how to do this the right way.” For me, it was mentorship and education. I would highly recommend that for anybody reading. Real estate is a business that can change your life, hands down. It could change your life in a good way or hard way. You can go from 0 to 60 in this business quickly. One or two bad deals can set you back in some cases. Don’t do it alone. Take JD’s advice.

If I would find some real estate people for your circle, it’s more people that are positive, encouraging, pushing you towards your dream, pulling you away. Find that mentor, find that coach, your tribe that speaks your language. Make sure it’s somebody that has been there done that. We live in an age where everybody’s a life coach. Quite honestly, in the beginning, I wasn’t excited about doing this show because I feel like they’re a dime a dozen. In some cases, everyone has a podcast. Everyone has a life coach. It usually means you’re broke. That is not the case here. Make sure you’re listening and learning from somebody like JD, somebody that’s done this at a high level and has succeeded. Learning from their successes and their failures along the way.

Another important thing that puts you towards success is taking care of yourself. The first two things we mentioned do that. On the physical, spiritual, or emotional side, there’s something that you need more of or need less of doing that. It’s hard to be successful, happy, and get to where you want to go if you’re not feeling good spiritually, emotionally, physically. I’m talking to myself here because I’ve been on this journey of adjusting what I eat. Not that I eat bad, but there are some aches and pains.

I’ve been doing research and I’ve adjusted some things out of my diet that has allowed me to feel a little bit better. That’s what made me think about that. There are other more serious issues, whether it’s emotional, mental health, and those things. Seek out help on those things. To be successful in business, you got to raise your physical and emotional self as well. Those are three pretty strong things that, if done properly, you’ll get to where you want to go. You’ll be happier and you’ll have success.

It’s such a pleasure. It’s such an honor having you on the show.

It’s great to be here. It was fun talking to you and sharing information.

If you’re reading, you got to go find this episode on video because you’re not going to see it. JD, over the years, you find some pretty interesting things in some houses. This gift came right around the corner.

What have we got? This ought to be good.

Here it is. Check this out.

I thought this was lost or had been destroyed. This is a gift that ultimately, I saved out of a home for my brother, Paul, who didn’t value it because you have it now.

I found this sitting in a corner closet or something like that.

As you’re soaking this photo in, I love when we buy a home that has belongings left behind. It’s an opportunity to donate some things. Be mindful of that. Also, find some gems, whether it’s furniture that we can refurnish. Half of my house is furnished with things that we’ve bought from homes. This particular photo, if you study it, it’s a masterpiece. For people reading that are anxious to see this episode on video, we’ve got four dogs that are playing pool. They’re fully clothed in human clothes. One is wearing an A-shirt and camo pants drinking a beer. I’m going to assume that it’s beer or apple juice, 1 of the 2. It’s a beer mug. One is getting ready to shoot the ball around the pool table. This one’s talking smack. They’re bro-ing out here, these two dogs.

I don’t know about the best part. A pretty darn good part of this photo is the silhouette of the cat over the shoulder looking down on them. Many questions I have about the person that drew this. How does that cat fit into the relationship? Are they thinking about the cat? Is the cat watching over them? Do they even know it’s there? Is he going to make that shot that he’s lining up for right now? Probably not because there’s no pocket he’s aiming at. Is that his 1st or 2nd beer that the dog is drinking? We could go on, but I appreciate you saving that and salvaging that photo. I did save that for my brother, Paul, thinking that he might put it in his garage. He didn’t decide to do that. Thank you for saving it.

The things you find in rehab are exciting. Thank you so much for joining us on this episode. As always, if you know somebody in your world that could benefit from this education, somebody that needs to make more income, get out of a job, wants to invest in real estate, whatever it may be, tag them. Tag them on this YouTube channel, Instagram, Facebook. Share this. Review us. Give us a nice rating. Follow us on Instagram, @FortuneBuilders. On many of these episodes, I’ll be doing a live question and answer segment. If you want to learn more about JD, go to and we’ll have all the information you need to know about him there. Thank you.

Jeff, thank you for having me.

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About JD Esajian

FBL 3 | Building SystemsAfter growing up in the central valley of California and attending the University of Southern California, I bought my first house in 1999 and developed my love of real estate.

Starting and building CT Homes with my brother and close friends has been a life dream and passion.

To be able to help sellers and buyers, as well as improve communities is an extremely rewarding experience and a true joy. Building a long-term relationship with our customers and creating wow experiences is our daily goal.