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Episode 77: Hear how Jennifer McMurray kicked $72K in Sallie Mae Student Loan Debt to the curb and learned how to Flip Houses in the process

Spread the Ozark love

77 - Flipping NWA with Jennifer McMurray

Duration: 49:38

Randy Wilburn [0:00] Hey folks, it's Randy Wilburn here from I am Northwest Arkansas. Before we get started today, I just wanted to share with you some really great news that I received the other day. It really warmed my heart to read this review, as you know, anywhere that you find our podcasts, you can rate and review the podcast and let us know what you think. But I got this quick message from somebody that's actually relocating to Northwest Arkansas for a job and so well, here it is. I took a job in Northwest Arkansas at one of the big three transferring from a job in Austin and residents in San Antonio. Yep, I did the commute. I must say that listening to this podcast really helped make the difference in closing the gaps and helping me get familiar with the vibe and culture of NWA. On my long Texas commute, I ended up listening to all of the episodes. I visited in May 2020 and checked out many of the places the show had featured. I felt like I already knew the place. Thanks. Of course, we are working remotely for now, so a move will come a bit later. Man, I can't tell you how much hearing this warms my heart because that's actually the reason why I created this podcast in the first place. So, I just thought I would share with you this review that we got on iTunes, Apple podcasts for the I am Northwest Arkansas podcast. We created it to cover the intersection of business culture, entrepreneurship and life in the Ozarks. And one of my goals was to convince people that they need to move here to Northwest Arkansas so, I think it's working. That's good, good news. Now without further ado, today's guest is Jennifer MacMurray. She has an amazing story. If you have student loan debt or have ever had student loan debt or know somebody that has student loan debt, and you want to figure out a way to pay off all that debt. Our next guest has figured it out. Stay tuned. Cue the music.

IANWA Open [2:05] It's time for another episode of I am Northwest Arkansas, the podcast covering the intersection of business, culture, entrepreneurship, and life in general here in the Ozarks. Whether you're considering a move to this area or trying to learn more about the place you call home, we've got something special for you. Here's our host, Randy Wilburn.

Randy Wilburn [2:31] Hey folks, and welcome to another episode of I am Northwest Arkansas. I'm your host, Randy Wilburn, and I'm so excited to be here today with somebody that I actually tracked down on Instagram. I was reading her posts and it wasn't that I was blown away by her achievements, but I really liked her story. I thought it was interesting. I thought, you know she is the embodiment of what Northwest Arkansas is all about in terms of just kind of getting out there and going after something and getting it done. And that individual I'm speaking of is Jennifer McMurray. Jennifer McMurray is a--- I will call her a flipper. And I'm not talking about flipping cards; I'm talking about flipping houses. Jennifer has, in a very short period of time has done quite well for herself. And she's done something that you know, and I would say that anybody that has graduated college, if they can say they've done this, then it's a huge thing, right? And I'll let her tell the story. I'm not going to steal her thunder. But without further ado, Jennifer McMurray welcome to the I am Northwest Arkansas podcast. How are you today?

Jennifer McMurray [3:37] I'm good. Thank you so much for having me. This is an honor. Oh, really. I'm so humbled. So excited.

Randy Wilburn [3:45] Thank you so much. Well, I appreciate that coming from somebody that actually listens to the podcast. I do appreciate that. But I would love for you just to kind of--- because I didn't want to steal your thunder. I want you to tell your story. Why don't you kind of tell us how you ended up flipping homes and again, you're young. There's a lot of things that you could be doing at this age, but you decided to choose flipping homes. And I would love for you to kind of tell us, the I am Northwest Arkansas audience your superhero origin story if you will.

Jennifer McMurray [4:17] Well, it all started by accident. That's why I always call myself an accidental house flipper. I grew up in a real estate family. And when you grow up in a real estate family, that really just means that you sit at a lot of open houses bored out of your mind as a kid, and you're free labor to dad, his rental properties and his flips, and it has zero appeal to you as a kid. I'll be really honest, but I was soaking it in and just said that's not for me I'm not going to do that. And life is funny that way that you end up doing what you swore you weren't going to do. I graduated from college, nothing to do with real estate. Got a couple of degrees and a couple of degrees means a whole lot of debt; lots and lots of debt from student loans. And was working my job making no money, of course, and running a little duplex and just sat down one day and kind of do the math and the math just didn't work. I'm going to die with this debt first of all, and then my estate is going to pay off this debt, it doesn't even get, you know, absolved from my debt. And I'm not making enough to ever make a dent in this debt. And so, I bought a house with very little money down. I could not afford very much I think I paid $75,000 for this very dated house and all of this stuff. I didn't have plans per se to flip it; it's just all I could afford. And, you know, slowly started doing the work myself, I couldn't afford to hire anyone. So, I learned how to scrape popcorn ceilings and rip out carpet and bust up tile. I just learned how to do it because I had to. And at the end of two years, I'd kind of got this place looking really cute. And dad, the real estate broker and the investor started planting the seed. Well, you know, you could sell that house for X amount, which was quite a bit more than I had paid. And he said he wouldn't pay any capital gains on it because it was your primary residence, you know, in a true daughter fashion, that is not true. Like there's no way that that's going to happen. And he said I think we ought to try it. You know, we're in the middle of a recession at that point. And so really, I'd listed it in an effort to prove dad wrong. The opposite happened. It was sold in a week and that's when I was like, whoa, I might be onto something here. I took a big chunk of that sale and threw it at my student loans. And, for the first time, my balance on my student loans go down. I was like, I'm onto something here. And that was the first domino.

Randy Wilburn [7:24] Wow. And it just kind of went down from there. So, I mean, obviously some of this you got honestly right, just through osmosis of being around your dad. I think you said he's got 45 years in the real estate game here in Northwest Arkansas, which is considerable. I mean, that's a lot of time. And I mean, he has forgotten more than most people know about real estate right when you think of it that way. So, you did pick up some of it, honestly but the other piece of it, I think is--- and I have friends that they don't flip but they do development and real estate development, is not easy. There's a lot of work that's involved with it. There is a lot of, you know, trying to make sure that you satisfied clients as far as that's concerned. So, you know, this is different but so you got this first house in Bella Vista, you spent 75 grand, you made a little bit of money, you threw some money at Sallie Mae and told her to go away. And, then after that, did you sit down and say, you know what, I can make this work or did it take you doing this a couple of times before you said, I want to do this on a regular basis?

Jennifer McMurray [8:34] Yeah, it took a little while longer before I said I'm all in.

Randy Wilburn [8:40] I'm sorry, were you working at the time?

Jennifer McMurray [8:41] Yes, I was working full time.

Randy Wilburn [8:44] I just want people to hear that because some people think oh, well, you just went off and did this and you hit it big. But you were working a full-time job and you were doing this.

Jennifer McMurray [8:53] Right. I was working a full-time job during the nights weekends as I had time. You know, recruiting free labor, all that time that I spend at dad's rental properties, scrape and paint, raking leaves and all that other stuff as a kid. I made him pay it all back. I need you to come scrape, all that stuff. I sold that house bought another fixer-upper, and did the same thing with that. And when I sold that one is when it really started planting the seeds. I think I'm ready to leave the full-time gig and jump headfirst into real estate at that point. It was around the third house middle of the third house that I jumped in.

Randy Wilburn [9:40] ---with both feet. That was it. Okay, so you quit your job, and you decided to become a flipper?

Jennifer McMurray [9:46] Yeah. I got my real estate license. I still do that full-time helping buyers and sellers and still flip on the side. But really, it is all-encompassing now, a full-time gig.

Randy Wilburn [9:59] Okay. Alright, I love that. So now that you've come along and did that, and again, you didn't have any prior experience in this area. You have just been around real estate just because you're around it doesn't mean you know how to rehab a house or anything like that. So, it sounds like, and I know from just following your Instagram, and I'm going to make sure I put that information in the show notes because everybody should check out Jen's Instagram. There's a lot of really good information there and just a lot of hints and tricks. What helped you develop the skill set on the other side of it, right, because it's one thing to do a house over, but it's a whole other thing to stage a house properly, and get it ready so that people are actually interested in wanting to buy it?

Jennifer McMurray [10:42] Right. So, a lot of that comes from being a real estate professional, so I show a lot of houses, and even growing up with dad tagging along with the showings and you walk in and--- why would they have their living room set up that way? It looks awful, you know, it makes their way Living room look a lot smaller. I don't know if it's just one of those natural things that just clicked in my brain that I think if you would just do this instead of this, it would make your living room look bigger or don't do this instead. It just became this natural thing I think from being in so many houses over my lifetime with dad and showing houses that I just started to pick up on what works and what doesn't. I spoke real estate before I could probably say my ABCs and it's something that is a natural everyday conversation in our family is real estate and houses and staging. So, it just became something that was a native language to me that came easy to me, to be honest. And I know that that isn't always the most satisfying answer. I didn't read a book and get it I didn't watch a video and just get it; it just came through experience. And I feel like I had some of the best experience with Dad, you know, he's a dinosaur in this business. So, you know that a lot of it came from tagging along.

Randy Wilburn [12:14] Right. Well, I like that. And you know, I think the other thing too is we sometimes discount that nowadays, right compared to back in the day when I was younger, I didn't have HGTV the way that you have HGTV now. You could go literally between HGTV and YouTube. You could figure out most things, right? Because I mean, you said that--- one of the things you said to me when we first got on the call was that when you first bought the house, you figured some things out, I didn't know how to do this so I YouTubed it. I recently had to put a vapor barrier in a crawlspace of a house that I was selling.

Not that I'm a flipper, I just happen to be selling a house and it had a crawlspace and it needed some new vapor barrier. So where did I go? I went to YouTube, right? How do you lay that down? I've seen it before, but I just didn't know what's the proper way to lay it down. It's not that difficult. But it's one of those things where nowadays, everyone, not just you, Jen not just me, Randy, but everyone has at their disposal this information, right? And it's not always necessarily wrapped up in an hour or half-hour-long TV program that has a definite beginning, middle, and an end. But you can just learn by going online. And the other thing that I have found is that a lot of people that spend time online doing a lot of these things, whether it's woodworking, whether it's some type of rehabilitation, whether it's certain type of work that they do, they're always open to sharing with other people how you do this, how you do that. So, would you agree with that?

Jennifer McMurray [13:48] Absolutely. I think experience is going to be your best teacher, whether it's your own experience or someone else's experience, and I think that's also worth noting. I've watched Dad foot thousand in rental properties and new builds and all those things and learn what I didn't want to do or what didn't work. So, I observed his experience and then some of my things I just dove in headfirst on YouTube and oh, I figured it out. And that really doesn't work; you need to do this instead. Experience is the best teacher.

Randy Wilburn [14:16] Yeah. I know one of the big issues that most people have listening to this, it's like, well, that's great. I mean, her dad did real estate and all that. Buying that first house, walk us through. Did you get an FHA loan? Because obviously FHA requires you to put as small as 3% down, right? And that allows you to get in it because if you say, hey, I'm going to live in this house, then that knock that gives you that flexibility to put as little down as possible.

Jennifer McMurray [14:49] That's exactly what I did--- FHA loan because I could not afford to do any more than that and how I had the money, as minimal as it was for the down payment was my tax refund. Apart from the tax refund, I would not have had any money for a down payment, and it was a foreclosure. So, that was the only way I was going to get it was that down payment with the tax refunds?

Randy Wilburn [15:15] What year was this, by the way?

Jennifer McMurray [15:17] That was 2011, I believe it was.

Randy Wilburn [15:21] Wow. So, you've been doing this almost ten years now? How many houses have you flipped?

Jennifer McMurray [15:27] Eight so far?

Randy Wilburn [15:28] Wow. Okay. All right. And what have you learned from each flip? Are you graduating to a different level each time or--- because I would imagine that every--- I've purchased a number of homes and with each home, It has its problems. So, I mean, and sometimes it's like, I've never seen this before. How did this happen? So, but I'd be curious to know, are you finding that it's a cumulative experience that over time, you're just gaining more and more knowledge about how to deal with more and more things. Like you buy a place and all of a sudden, it's got termite damage now you got to deal with that.

Jennifer McMurray [16:11] You know, it has been exactly what you said, every house is a teacher, and every house has a different lesson to teach. For example, I wanted to swap out at one house; it was a 50s house. I wanted to swap out the drain. Well, that's easy. You just tear out the drain you put in a new drain, and this is easy peasy. Oh, just kidding. Because in the 50s, they use different size drains than they do now. So, to get that little bitty drain that's, you know, $10 at Lowe's for everyone else. Oh no, it's a special order and its hundreds of dollars and good luck trying to track it down just because they change the size of the drinks. Okay, so I always need to be looking now, drain size. Each house teaches you a different lesson. So, as I walk into potential properties, whether it's for clients or a friend, I'm now putting up okay, I've learned this from flip that let's look at drain size or let's look at fuse panels or, you know---. You would never stop learning and kind of piggybacking to dad's experience. He's still learning with me, dad, did you know this drain--- no, that's news to me.

Randy Wilburn [17:20] Right. I love that. And I think you know what I will probably have you do is just kind of give me---. I think going to your site you talk a lot about--- and give us the Instagram handle for you that you have.

Jennifer McMurray [17:33] It's Bachelorette Pad Flip.

Randy Wilburn [17:36] I love that, Bachelorette Pad Flip. It's enlightening because you talk about a lot of different things on there. And like I told you the other day I was really moved by what you said and how it actually applies. I needed that reminder because one of the things that you mentioned was that as you graduated from one flip to the next. After all, it is graduation. You graduated from one problem to another to another, and you keep going on. There's no such thing as the perfect flip. I mean, it just doesn't exist. Because every time a flip comes up, and even when you look at it--- Like I would watch, what's it, Tarek and Christina, and I would watch some of the problems. And sometimes you think, man, this is just going to go south quickly. But usually, it's TV, right? So, they figure out a way to solve the problem. And I always wonder how much of that is reality and how much of that is just HDTV. But the bottom line is that invariably there's always going to be a problem that comes up that maybe they never did foresee or something was built or, you know, there's an addition that apartment was never pulled for and all this, you know, things like this, that really hurt you. But you said something or a couple of like a week ago; you were talking about the work that you had to do. And one of the things that you have learned in this graduation of flips is that you can't do it all. You have to have other people help you out and it's important to know what their strengths and weaknesses are and also when to hire somebody else to help you through the process. Because, you know, I think a lot of times people think, oh, well if I'm a handyman or handywoman and I can do it all, then that's just more money for me. But that doesn't always work out that way.

Jennifer McMurray [19:22] No, not at all. Growing up, my nickname from dad was Dewey. That's what he called me, Ms. Dewey, because Jennifer is going to do it herself, especially if you tell her she can't do it, she's going to do it herself. You know, so he nicknamed me Dewey. And I carried that in initially to my real estate investing career. No, I'm going to do it myself, I don't need your help; I'll figure it out. And I did you know, and I taught myself a lot. But I also got to that point where can I do it? Yeah. Do I want to do it? No. You know that's how I feel about laying tiles. God, I hate laying tiles. I just think it is one of the most tedious, frustrating jobs ever. So, I've done it before to save money but lost my sanity. And it probably took me twice as long as hiring a professional to do it. And I don't even know if it would look as good as if the professional did it. So now I'm at the point where I'm going to always budget for my tile guy to come in and do it. I'm not doing it myself. And if I can't afford it, you know, if the numbers don't work for that, then it's not a project I'm going to tackle. But also, it's that cliche that we all grew up with time is money, could not be more accurate in the real estate investing world because every day that clock is ticking on a flip, my money is going out the window, so let's hire a guy or a girl in here, get the job done and stop that bleeding of money.

Randy Wilburn [20:56] Yeah, I love that. I mean, you're so right. And actually, people can apply that to any business that they own. It doesn't necessarily mean a house flipper. I mean, it could be anything so. Well, so what do you think about me? Like I said, I'm only five and a half years and almost six years living here in Northwest Arkansas, and we love it and was one of the reasons why I did this podcast in the first place was to learn more about it. But what would you say to people that are maybe moving here? And the pros and cons of buying a brand new versus buying a fixer-upper or something that you can flip? Because I'd be curious to get your take on it?

Jennifer McMurray [21:37] Well, that's always the million-dollar question with clients is, do they want a fixer-upper that could make them money? Or do they not? And I think it comes down to yes, the fixer-upper could make you money. Are you willing to live inconvenienced? And I would say the vast majority the answer's no. They don't want to be inconvenienced. It's not worth it to most of them. They just want to move in and live their lives. They don't want to fight dust everywhere and trip over tools and always have contractors in their homes working on their projects. So yes, it could make them money and that could be their first domino to paying off student loans or whatever. But most when the rubber meets the road, they're just not willing to sign up for that lifestyle because it's a major sacrifice to live in a fixer-upper. You know, new construction, we have so many builders in Northwest Arkansas and I think would they just keep adding builders, and there's a lot of benefit to that if you buy a new construction home, things are up to code, it's turnkey, you're getting a warranty. All of those things, if you're looking for peace of mind and just quality of enjoyment, which I think most people that's what they're looking forward. I like it. It works for us. We'll buy it if we don't make any money. That's fine. We've enjoyed it while we lived here, and I think that's probably the biggest camp of buyers. But if you're willing to be inconvenienced, it can be a game-changer; it was for me.

Randy Wilburn [23:12] I love that. And so, do you think I mean, given everything that we see out there right now and I know certain markets like I live in Fayetteville, it's tough to find a good deal in Fayetteville. Where are you, without giving away all of your state secrets, what advice would you give somebody that maybe has a little extra money and is thinking about doing this and taking on a flip and maybe even living in it for a season while they get it ready to go? Where are you finding deals, or what are you finding is the best way to go about looking for deals as far as that's concerned?

Jennifer McMurray [23:49] I will try just about anything to find a deal, and I bought them all sorts of ways. I bought them as foreclosures that were listed on the MLS. I have bought at the courthouse steps. I have bought through a We Buy Houses campaign. I have bought through previous clients that were relocating. I bought all sorts of different ways. I think the biggest thing is that your name needs to be associated with investing and flipping. So that when Johnny thinks of, I've got a fixer-upper, I don't want to go through traditional selling and inspection and all the things that can come with that. I just want to unload it, and then they need to think of, oh, I know that Jennifer does that or so and so does that if there has to be a strong correlation. And I think if you ask my circle of influence, if you're asking my clients, you think of Jennifer, she's a flipper, that's just what they think of. So, they know to call me if they've got those kinds of properties. And I think, your circle of influence, whatever your career is, whether that's flipping or not is your biggest game-changer and marketing yourself so that they know what you do how you could help. And so, I focused a lot on my circle of influence. But also, you know---

Randy Wilburn [25:15] Are you telling me that it's all about relationships?

Jennifer McMurray [25:17] I think that's exactly what my dad would be back here screaming; that's how you stay in any business for 45 years.

Randy Wilburn [25:29] Yeah, I love that. You're absolutely right. It is all about relationships. And so, okay, tell me this then because I mean, again, I know people are going to have these other questions that well you've gotten in, you've done eight, eight flips. Did you find it worth your while to go try to build a relationship with one bank that you could work with primarily or because I mean, I would say even with eight flips, it's not like you could go out theoretically just buy a house for cash and then just be done with it. Although maybe you could, but you usually need to have some financing involved, you're probably not going to throw contingencies on any of your purchases for the most part. You're going to take them as is meaning that whatever I find is my problem. So, did you decide to build a strong relationship with a single bank that has helped you out because I've always found that to be helpful?

Jennifer McMurray [26:23] Yes, I only use our best for my purchases. Specifically, the local branch is the only one that I use for my flip purchases. We had the same loan officer for quite a while. He's since been gone but a big part of the loan approval since some of these don't meet certain standards like they're not inhabitable or whatever. His track record, they know our track record and that it's a successful track record. And if I say I'm going to do this, and I can get X amount when I sell it, then I'm going to do that and I'm going to get X amount when I sell it. So, because for some of these loans that we get, it goes through loan approval like, I'm sorry, a committee approval where the committee has to sit down and we have to submit, here's what we're going to do. Here's what we think it's going to sell for. And our track record has been a dominant factor and getting committee approval for that.

Randy Wilburn [27:19] Oh, that's great. And that's kind of what you need, right? And I think I've done episodes, I had Gary Head on here from Signature Bank, and I've talked about the importance of even just at a local branch, a bank-level, you need to stick with a branch go in there all the time let them see you. You would be surprised what they're able to do once they have some familiarity with you and you build up that R-word relationship. It will go a long way. So, have you done any flips in Fayetteville? Do you have a preference for the city? But you started off in Bella Vista? So that's right at the top. So after Bella Vista is Bentonville, then Rogers then Springdale. It's not that I'm not including Lowe in there but let's just say Rogers Lowe, Springdale and Fayetteville. Do you have a preference for cities? Do you find that some cities are easier to work with than others?

Jennifer McMurray [28:14] So, my requirement since I've flipped two in Bella Vista) but since then, my requirements got to be in the Big Four. That's your most pool of buyers. They're winning in the Big Four, so I'm not interested in anything outside of that. I have not flipped any in Fayetteville not flipped any in Bentonville and that has nothing to do with I don't want to their markets are just way more insane, especially Bentonville. I don't plan to probably flip any in Bentonville. Just the buy-in is so crazy in Bentonville that I'm just not willing to pay up to flip in Bentonville. So, I don't really even pursue the Bentonville market, just because it's so crazy.

Randy Wilburn [28:57] Even land is ridiculous in Bentonville now.

Jennifer McMurray [29:00] Crazy. There's not a lot of land in Northwest Arkansas. Ridiculous. I've done a lot in Springdale. Springdale seems to be a good sweet spot for me. So, I've done quite a few in Springdale, actually.

Randy Wilburn [29:17] Yeah. What about Rogers?

Jennifer McMurray [29:20] I have not done any in Rogers. So, they have been [inaudible 29:25], Springdale, Bellavista, I'm trying to keep it all straight in my head. Yeah. Bellavista Springdale.

Randy Wilburn [29:32] Okay. All right. That's cool. And I think there's something to be said for, you know, if you know Springdale market, then you know right away what value is fairly quickly. So, it's not like you're sitting around wondering, what can I get for this? You're like, well, I know what's that sold for. I know what this is. So, what's next for you? I mean, you're young. I mean, you have gotten--- Did you pay off all your student loans?

Jennifer McMurray [29:57] Yes. I paid it off in five years. That's the biggest accomplishment. I think when I die, I'm going to look back and say what's the biggest accomplishment was I paid off my student loans in five years. I had $70,000, an expensive paper hanging on my wall, and I paid that off. So, I don't have any student loans to pay. I'm thinking about building which is what's next. That's a whole new realm for me. I don't know how that will pan out. I'm learning and earning my stripes on that and still trying to learn what I don't know because I don't know what I don't know about that. So that's probably what's next is always looking for a flip always looking for the next flip. But you know, I'm particular on what I will flip. I say this quite frequently. I've probably turned down more flips than the average investor. Because I have a very strict model that I'm just not willing to budge on because it works for me, and if it's not broken, don't fix it.

Randy Wilburn [31:12] Yeah. Yeah. And I like that you said a model because I have some other friends that have flipped and they have over the years, they've always followed a blueprint for how they do it. So, and if something doesn't fit in within the confines of that blueprint, then they don't touch it.

Jennifer McMurray [31:28] Exactly. The longer you do, you learn what works and what doesn't work for you, and you stick to that sweet spot that works for you.

Randy Wilburn [31:37] Yeah. This means you have to be disciplined too because a lot of times, if you just let the dollar signs get in your way, then all you see is that and that clouds your judgment, actually. So that that that's the hardest part. So, you gave us one example of what would be one other example of one of those things where you just don't know it until you know it. Like concerning the small plumbing issues, and the cost and you think, oh, this is not that expensive. First of all, they don't even make a lot of plumbing materials like they used to make. So that's the that's one thing.

Jennifer McMurray [32:14] You learn that the hard way.

Randy Wilburn [32:16] Right. So, what would you say has been one other really important lesson that you think would be beneficial for our audience to hear if they start to think about going out to do a flip?

Jennifer McMurray [32:27] There's so many. I think that kind of goes back to every house has a lesson and learning. I mean, it even starts with the very first house when I was like, I'm going to scrape these popcorn ceilings myself, and how hard can it be and it's not you know, once you figure out what you're doing. But I didn't know how to do it. So, I just I borrowed Dad's because I didn't know one, a one-inch putty knife, and I'm going to scrape [inaudible 33:02]. And it was 1,400 square feet that I took a one-inch putty knife and I scraped the ceilings with this one-inch putty knife dry. And I was like, this is actual hell like this is really terrible. I didn't know. No, Jennifer, that's not how you do it. You have to wet it. You just don't know what you don't know. And again, goes back to experience and I think that is where referencing a point you made earlier. There are people around you that will share that knowledge if you will just reach out. How do you scrape popcorn ceiling? Well, you wet it and [inaudible 33:43] or not. Whatever your project is, there are answers out there. And if you don't know anyone, it's just waiting on YouTube for you to search for it.

Randy Wilburn [33:52] Yeah, you're absolutely right. And it's funny you bring up popcorn ceiling because I actually have a rental unit that I had a guy had a hole cut in the ceiling to get access to a plumbing pipe for a toilet, and it was leaking and it's fine we fixed that. But then we had to close it up and the guy that I brought in to do it that's all he does is drywall and he made it look so easy. Because honestly, I didn't realize it. In all these years, I had some people remove popcorn ceilings but I just never took the time to look at how they removed it. But when he came in with the spray bottle and started spraying everything, and then just all of a sudden it was all gone. And that was the other thing he was super neat about it, like super neat. There was nothing anywhere. He just taped off one small area went in and went to work and before you knew it, it was done. And if I showed you would never know where the hole was cut in the ceiling or where the popcorn where he replaced an area of popcorn ceiling. And I mean that's when you know you have a good or a skilled person that can do---.

Jennifer McMurray [34:59] And they're invaluable. Having a crew that you trust that knows you knows your model knows what you'll put up with what you won't, and they're reasonable on their prices, and they're invaluable and valuable. That is a maker break in this business is the crew that you have surrounding you.

Randy Wilburn [35:22] No, I love that. You're absolutely right. That goes with anything, and I think that's the one big challenge that I've found living here is that I think it's like feast or famine. If you find a good contractor, they typically are super busy so you've got to get them where you can. And then it's just one of those things, where are they going to be able to always be available for you. And those are some of the challenges that you face. And those are real-world issues, that anyone that's going to do flipping if you are not like super inclined and willing to learn these things, flipping may not be for you because there might be a time when you do have to put some coveralls on and go out and get some work done. If you have a fear of that, or if your hope is, I'm just going to pay people to do all that, that's great. But the challenge is getting those individuals, and then if you settle for less than in it, it's going to show up in the workmanship of the final product that you present to the public.

Jennifer McMurray [36:21] That's exactly, and it cost you more time and more money. When I'm getting bids, I can't think of ever that I go with the cheapest bid. There's a reason. You're the cheapest I'm out.

Randy Wilburn [36:35] Right. Absolutely. That makes perfect sense. So, we've got up to eight flips, you are potentially looking at building something now, which is the next step and you're still selling houses. Is there anything else you're hoping to conquer in the near future?

Jennifer McMurray [36:54] Near future. That's kind of where I'm at. Just keep flipping, building my long-term goal. [Inaudible 37:06] around, we will tell you. She's got eyes on Florida. Florida is my end all be all. That's my end game. I want to retire debt-free in Florida- mortgage-free debt-free, so that's kind of if I had eyes on a prize what I'm saving up for since I don't have any debt to pay off is to purchase a home in Florida and retire down there on the beach and live on Island time, right?

Randy Wilburn [37:35] Right on Island time. Yeah, exactly. You are still kind of young, though, so I mean you have got some time under your belt for sure to do that. So that's great. I appreciate you sharing just peeling back the curtain a little bit, Jennifer, to share with us your flip existence and what it's been like for you. Are you hopeful for the future of flipping here in Northwest Arkansas or do you think it's going to get more difficult?

Jennifer McMurray [38:05] I think I'm hopeful, but I'm cautiously optimistic. You know, I'm cautious in every flip that I do and I think that goes back to do I turn down more than I will take on. There's a lot of growth in Northwest Arkansas and that's a beneficial thing for property values for investing. But the competition is stiff, especially in specific markets like Bentonville. So, I think what we're seeing even now is you're going to have to pay up, pay more than you usually had to pay for flips, and you may be taking on worse conditions than you'd typically like to take on. So, I think that's going to continue, but I think overall, the growth and the demand for Northwest Arkansas, that's not dying down, that's going to increase. So, from an investing standpoint, I think that will always be good news. But I think that's one thing that dad has always preached and ingrained, just put the brakes on cautious. You don't have to have 25 doors go in at the same time. You don't have to have this big operation for it to work. And I think to live through the crash and seeing so many builders and investors just turning in keys to the bank, really put a good, honest fear into me. Not that I let fear dictate, but it's like I don't want to get to that point where I've over-leveraged myself and I'm overextended financially. So, I'm going to go into this cautiously. It's a small operation. It works for me, and I'm not looking to make it this massive operation. That's just not my goal.

Randy Wilburn [39:42] Yeah. You're absolutely right, and I think that that advice that your dad gave you is invaluable. And you really do want to take your time because people can lose their shirt in the real estate game, so you've got that aspect of it and so that's the issue. So, anybody listening to this, I certainly want to encourage you to take your time and I also want to encourage folks to check out Jen at Bachelorette Pad Flip. She's got a lot of followers and she's got a lot of advice even if you just own a home and you're looking for some ideas and something along those lines. There is a lot that Jen offers on her Instagram site so I would love for you to head over there and follow her at Bachelorette pad flip. And I'll make sure that we share this on the podcast on the show notes. But I really want to encourage you to check Jen out and follow her and let her know that you found out about her through I am Northwest Arkansas, the podcast. Before we let you go since you are a local and you've been here a long time, tell us one place that you like to go eat on a regular basis. It can be something newer or it can be an old school spot that you've been going to for a long time. But where do you like to go when you earn some extra cash flipping a house and you're like, you know what, I'm going to have a nice meal here in Northwest Arkansas? Where do you like to go?

Jennifer McMurray [41:20] Hugo's is my spot.

Randy Wilburn [41:20] Okay, all right, Hugo's.

Jennifer McMurray [41:22] I always say I like the local spots, but I think tourists even know about Hugo's now, but it's my jam. Of all the big four of all the cities, Fayetteville is just my soul jam. I love Fayetteville. So, anything old school local Fayetteville I love but Hugo's, the food's good, but I just love the atmosphere.

Randy Wilburn [41:50] There French Fries, I got to say. Have you ever had Five Guys Fries?

Jennifer McMurray [41:56] No, I haven't.

Randy Wilburn [41:57] Okay, so you have to try Five Guys. Five Guys make a mean French Fry. But I got to say Hugo's fries when they come first out, and they come to that table, there's nothing like them.

Jennifer McMurray [42:06] Nothing like that. I don't know what they even do. But it's so freakin good.

Randy Wilburn [42:14] They are really good. What's a secret spot that a lot of people don't know about here in Northwest Arkansas that you know about? And that you're like, you're surprised how you always ask yourself, how come more people don't know about this place?

Jennifer McMurray [42:28] Oh, gosh, that is a really great question- a secret spot. I don't know if it's a secret spot, but people know about it. But my family [inaudible 42:41] I don't a farm in West Fork or a bunch of lands. We call it a farm but it's a bunch of land in the West Fork. And that is kind of my soul's relaxation point. When it's a stressful week, it is out of the rat race of the Big Four. It is a calm, quiet, beautiful city. Small and quaint, beautiful bluffs. You'll always see the kids swimming. Their farm has a pretty sweet view of Northwest Arkansas. It's up on a hill and you can just see these beautiful hills forever. I love that. I think that is just so peaceful because Fayetteville is people all around and businesses and just kind of stepping away to some of these smaller communities I think is charming, quaint and nostalgic and I love that. Not so rat race.

Randy Wilburn [43:41] Yeah. I agree. You know, we actually had a guest blogger at I am Northwest Arkansas write about the farm living here in Northwest Arkansas, which a lot of people don't realize you don't have to go that far to go to a farm and see how they do things. And a lot of these local farmers are open. They are happy. Yay, come visit. Come check us out and see what we have and what we do. I think that a lot of times because we started as an Agrarian society and we have slowly morphed into something else. But living here in Northwest Arkansas is still a reminder that there are a lot of farms and honestly the farms are the lifeblood of our country in terms of supplying us with food and all this other stuff. So, I think sometimes we forget that you know, yeah, and I'm all for an urban garden and all that other stuff. A lot of these farmers make it happen and we are probably going to try to get a couple of farmers on the podcast just to talk with them and have them share their stories. I've actually reached out to a couple. I'm trying to get them to that to that place. You know farmers have a very early call in the morning so they're even earlier than me so we will figure something out. Maybe I'll just get out there with them at 4:31 one morning before they get on the combine* and have a conversation and see if we can--- maybe I will bring them some Onyx coffee. We'll see.

Jennifer McMurray [45:04] Yes, you definitely should.

Randy Wilburn [45:07] We will figure out a way to make it work. Well, Jen, this has been truly a pleasure. I'm so glad we connected. We originally were going to do this back when COVID first hit. As we are recording this, it's at the end of June. We don't know where COVID is going to be in another couple of months, but we finally said you know what we need to get together. I wanted to do this episode because I think you have a lot to share. I really do. Your story is inspirational. It's informational as well. So, I really appreciate your taking time out of your schedule to be with me and in the I am Northwest Arkansas audience. We really, really appreciate it.

Jennifer McMurray [45:43] Thank you. Like I said, this is my pleasure. I'm just so excited. You know, this is my hometown. This is me. So, I'm super humbled that you ask, and I'm so excited to be here and hope that I can connect with more people from Northwest Arkansas. I love hearing that people love this area. It's been my home my entire life. I've seen it grow and blow up over the years and I still love it just as much.

Randy Wilburn [46:08] Good, good. Well, is there any other way that you would love people to get in touch with you besides the Instagram post Bachelorette pad flip?

Jennifer McMurray [46:16] So they can also visit my And our real estate page is I'm on Facebook. I am on Instagram. I'm on Pinterest. I'm on other things.

Randy Wilburn [46:30] You are everywhere. And it's funny you mentioned Pinterest because we actually just set up our Pinterest page for I am Northwest Arkansas because we're going to start pinning all the really good ideas of things happening so we will follow the stuff that Jen is pinning and share that out to our audience as well and certainly make sure that all of Jen's information will be on the show notes for I am Northwest Arkansas for this particular episode. So, you can go there to calm and just look up her episode for the show and learn a little bit more about her and connect with her. If you have any questions, I'm sure she'll be more than happy to answer. As I know, people probably did that for her when she first got started. So, definitely reach out. We are all here to help each other out. So, but well, Jen, thank you again so much. We appreciate you.

Jennifer McMurray [47:19] Thanks.

Randy Wilburn [47:20] All right. Well, folks, there you have it. Another episode of I am Northwest Arkansas. I'm so glad that I got a chance to sit down with Jen. And we wish it could have been in person, but at some point in time in the future, we will certainly grab coffee. But I hope you liked this episode. This is for you. I hope you like what we're putting out on a weekly basis. There's always something different. And again, our focus is the intersection of business culture, entrepreneurship and life here in the Ozarks. So, we appreciate you guys so very much. Remember, you can listen to this podcast wherever great podcasts can be found. Ideally, we are on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google podcasts. We are now on Pandora. You can just say to Alexa, hey Alexa, play the latest episode of The I Am Northwest Arkansas podcast. You'd be surprised where we are just check us out. And if you get a chance and you really like the podcast removed by the information that we're sharing, we'd love a rating and a review of the podcast let us know what you think about it. We are always appreciative of people that take time out of your schedule to write a note to us and let us know what they think about the podcast and now I don't know if you've noticed but if you go to the website, you can actually voicemail us a message. You can leave a message right on the website and we'll get it and you never know. We might even share your message on a future episode. So that's all I have for you this week. As always, the episodes for I am Northwest Arkansas come out every Monday around noonish and we have a new episode each week. So, we appreciate you guys so much, and we will be in touch with you soon. Remember to make it a great day and get 1% better every day. Peace.

IANWA Open [49:09] We hope you enjoyed this episode of I am Northwest Arkansas. Check us out each and every week available anywhere that great podcasts can be found. For show notes or more information on becoming a guest, visit We will see you next week on I am Northwest Arkansas.

Our Guest on the I am Northwest Arkansas podcast, Jennifer McMurray, is living proof that you don’t have to let Student Loan Debt get you down. Learn how she figured out a way to pay off $72K in Student Loan debt by Flipping Houses right here in Northwest Arkansas. 

Jennifer’s story may sound amazing. It is, but when you actually hear her tell how she problem solved her student loan debt and in the process built a profitable business you may think it’s time for you to get off the couch and start something too.  Jennifer McMurray is the #BacheloretteFlipPad and she is out to build her Flipping Empire.

Additional Show Notes Coming Soon