John Mark Wilderspin: Never put lipstick on a pig

A while back I was in overload mode walking around like a weird zombie (or is that my usual state?). During my Zombie-like state, I met Canadian property investor and realtor, John Mark Wilderspin. John is unique. He has so much information on how he became successful in property that he was like a fast talking, insight spewing, property selling machine.

We spoke with John about what he gained from his property journey which included aspects such as marketing, how to keep your numbers in order, plus a variety of other insights such as how some property investors ruin their integrity by putting lipstick on a pig.

For those with bad connections, we’ve written up the interview in note form below the video, however when you have time and a stronger internet connection, we recommend you listen to John Mark Wilderspin.

John Mark Wilderspin

Never put Lipstick on a Pig Tip 1

Make other’s perception your reality

John’s first piece of advice for us is to match people’s perceptions with your reality. As an example, John wouldn’t take pictures of his houses, instead, what he’d do is take pictures of his clients looking happy outside their homes with a SOLD sign. Then he would ask his clients to post those images on social media and let him use their images on his website.

Never put Lipstick on a Pig Tip 2

Know your numbers

His second piece of advice was that you absolutely need to know all your numbers. If you have debt look at how much it really is (including interest) and make steps to pay that debt off. Similarly, when launching into property flipping, you need to know your ARV (after repair value) and know what your spread is. Your spread is how far you can spread your budget should something go wrong, take longer, or need more work than expected.

Think of your spread as your financial buffer or emergency fund for when something unexpected happens.

To explain how the ARV and spread are related, John shared a story of a house he bought for $70,000 CAD and then sold for $129,400 CAD. The spread here is particularly tight. Say John budgeted $30,000 for the renovation and had to split profits with his partner.

The potential profit, provided nothing goes wrong, is just under $15,000 CAD each. However the contractors took a bit longer and went over their budgets which reduced the profit to $10,000 CAD ($5,000 each for John and his partner). Therefore, John has a spread of $10,000.

Confused? Don’t worry. In simple terms, have an amount reserved to cover all major potential property acquisition disasters and still give you profit or else walk away from the deal.

Never put Lipstick on a Pig Tip 3

Have a property acquisition strategy

John’s property acquisition strategy was based around; tax auctions (buying houses where people have defaulted on their mortgages) and looking for private sellers who are looking to avoid paying commissions of realtors (estate agents in the UK). He compares the asking price with similar properties on the street and looks at his renovation costs.

Typically, you can get privately sold houses for below market value, due to there being less moving parts in the sale. When you buy privately, it’s a simple deal between two people so there are fewer people that need to be paid.

John explained he went for distressed properties that were not in a good state of repair. However, the buildings themselves were structurally sound and well built.

Unlike most property investor who would turn their nose up at the smelly, horrible interiors, John realised that these properties are goldmines which can be purchased below market value.

house, interview, property
The ghosts caused the owners to default on this house

Never put Lipstick on a Pig Tip 4

Have a property demographic strategy

John’s chosen demographic is first-time buyers. He chose first-time buyers because the quality of houses in his area were already high, but so were the costs. If John bought inexpensive but well-built houses, he could fix-them-up and sell them at a good profit to those looking to get on the ladder. In summary, John’s strategy was to:

  • Buy the cheap houses
  • Renovate the houses
  • Ensure  the renovated houses were great places to live in
  • Provide better looking, cheaper homes for those looking to get on the ladder

Never put Lipstick on a Pig Tip 5

Integrity is everything

Finally, when it comes to renovating houses, John shared that you can’t put lipstick on a pig. It’s important to make sure that the house is a great property before selling it. In other words, you can’t simply paint the property and sell it for more. You need to make sure the wiring works, the plumbing is sound, and that heating is solid.

Integrity is everything. You can make more money without integrity, but if you’re looking to have longevity, you need to ensure that you do a great job.

John’s top tips from this interview are:

1. Follow your passion
2. Work to learn
3. Perception is reality
4. Know your numbers
5. Be smart with your finances
6. Have steps to reduce your debt and increase your income
7. Know your spread
8. Make integrity your hallmark

Next Steps

Huge thanks to John Mark Wilderspin for sharing his insights with us. If you found this interview helpful do

  • Like the video and subscribe to our Youtube channel for more property and financial insights and strategy.
  • Write us a comment (if you’re feeling super generous )
  • Bless your friends and use the buttons on the left to share the article to help them become better educated, motivated and inspired too. 
  • In the meantime, if you want to learn more about property investment from other people’s journeys, check out the following articles:


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