Category Archives: Fear

You Can Be Better

Hey all! Long time, of course, and this blog deserves a full update. But a bad interaction with a Zillow sales rep left me thinking. Despite the fact that we are ALL very hungry to close a deal, first thing comes first (and will make us more money): Be a decent human being always!

I know we’ve all felt like Alex from Zillow. He wanted to close the sale. He felt I wasn’t “getting it”. I didn’t like something he said and it offended him. He decided I was ridiculous and “trite” and told me so.

There’s a certain way of thinking that says sales is only a numbers game, and the point is to WIN.

I completely disagree.

Sales is first and foremost a SERVICE industry.  We are servants, who make money by serving the best interests of our current clients and our potential ones.  We should not set out to conquer anyone, or aggressively approach leads as if this is a sport. There is no winning – there are only people who need your service or product, and people who do not.

I’m assuming you are a professional.  Professionals are great at what they do, and they focus on doing that.  If you are a real estate investor, you KNOW real estate. You know the market. You can spot a good deal.  You are a creative problem-solver.  Be those things. Be truly excellent at them.  And then go serve.

By the way, if you are excellent at what you do, you have 80% of your job done.  You will speak confidently. You will provide your prospective clients with everything they need to make an informed decision and your current clients with the expertise to get the transaction closed. Alex had this. I could tell he was great at what he did: he knew the product and followed up with me consistently.

Service may represent only 20% of your activity, but as an attitude it’s the foundation of what you do because it shapes every interaction you have with your clients and sellers. Are you here for them or for you? Are you coming from contribution (as Keller Williams likes to put it) to add something of value to their lives, or are you there to close a sale and move on to the next one? Your prospects will know!

Being better at service is a practical matter.  Unfortunately, the sales rep’s lack of a service-minded attitude lost the sale for me. It made me question his commitment to ME. Service may only be 20% of your job, but without it you will lose clients and money. An aggressive, overly-eager, greedy or arrogant mindset is off-putting and people will go elsewhere.  (I’m planning to find another Zillow rep to help me.)

Approach each lead as an opportunity to serve.  This is called love, by the way: putting someone’s needs before your own. It takes trust in that principle to let go of the gnawing, anxious need for a “yes” and focus on the needs of the individual in front of us.  We need the affirmation…and we need the money! Without even realizing it, though, we become adversarial and treat sellers and prospects as if they are standing between us and what we want.  But they are not – we are there for them, not the other way around.

Be humble. Ask a lot of questions. Provide lots of answers. Get to the bottom of their needs. Don’t be offended. Don’t be superior. Be helpful. Be honest. Don’t sell them on “yes”. Accept “no” graciously.

So yes, you can be better! You can be better at your trade. Start by being a better person. Let go of the need to close the sale, and embrace being a servant who knows her stuff. This will result in a low-key approach that will actually end up attracting much more business your way, because it exudes kindness and confidence all in one.  And everyone loves that.

Is this how you already look at your job (my husband thought most people already do)? How do you handle bad service? Friend me on FB and you can join the conversation.

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Filed under Ethics & Etiquette, Fear, Marketing, Negotiation

How to Talk to Motivated Sellers

Hi friends,

Getting involved in real estate investing promises at least one terrifying experience: talking to a motivated seller the first time (and even the second, third and fourth time…).  I remember the first few months I started getting calls, and how cold my hands and feet went, how shaky my voice sounded, and how tightly I held onto my script!

My friend Sharon Vornholt hosted a fantastic call with me on how to approach talking to motivated sellers, and we literally flew by the seat of our pants doing a role play call.  I was really nervous going into it, but it ended up being a blast.

I hope you enjoy it.  Write me an email or leave a comment and let me know how you liked it!

 

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Filed under Education, Fear, Negotiation

New Year, New Marketing Plan

Last year was a wash for me.  I switched to postcards and they performed miserably.  I struggled with a lot of personal elements in my life, and felt myself sort of go limp, like my toddler does in protest when she doesn’t want to do something.  I am a master at looking busy while doing absolutely nothing, and that sort of self-sabotage happened a lot last year (in the form of research and planning).

I don’t have a lot of regrets about last year.  Thankfully, I can have slow months or years because we don’t depend on this for our full-time income.  But we might one day.  And we also have financial obligations my business is responsible for, and my lack of diligence last year put us in a tight spot.

But we all have ups and downs, and those help with growth.  At least,they do for me.  It’s scary for me to do real estate – for all sorts of reasons – but building resolve and courage is what I’m shooting for (not for eliminating the fear).

So here’s how 2014 is looking:

My Resources

  • I still have my accountability partner.  She means more than I can probably understand, and I know of at least two times when I was actually resolved to quit but she talked me into hanging in there.  So I’m glad to have her help as I move forward this year.
  • My husband will be helping.  He’s already a big part of the business: he helps stuff envelopes when I’m behind, knows about every deal I negotiate and works out strategy with me.  But this year he’s officially coming on board to help.  He’s going to be in charge of tracking and mailing our marketing campaigns, maintaining our leads database, skiptracing, and basically anything related to data.
  • Last year I blew through the marketing reserves that had built up from previous deals. So we’re back to leaning on our Freedom Fund for all marketing costs.  A Freedom Fund is something I learned about from my friend Shae Bynes.  It’s an amount of money that comes out of our personal budget to go toward the business.  Right now we have it at $300.  Once we close on a deal, at least $1000 or more of the profit will jump start a larger marketing plan.

My Marketing Plan

  • For January, I scrubbed an existing list of Tulsa Absentee owners (by myself!) and I ended up with 101 leads.  We also scrubbed all of the probate leads I had and it whittled down to 77. They all got a yellow postcard sent through Click2Mail.
  • We created a follow up campaign so that all of these leads will automatically be sent another postcard each month for 4 months, and we created reminders to schedule 2 more rounds after the 4 months are over (Click2Mail only allows you to schedule 120 days in advance).
  • For February, we’ll research probates and create a campaign of up to 125 leads.  We send out a professional letter and create a follow up campaign of 6 yellow postcards.  (This totals about $300 – my max budget for the month.)
  • For March, we’ll see.  There’s a good chance we’ll have a deal by then.  If  so, we’ll consider implementing our $1000 marketing plan (still to be finished).  If not, we’ll probably repeat February’s plan.

It’s nice to have a plan.  Everyone tells me how important it is.  And I’m usually on board – I LOVE planning.  But implementing is more important than a good plan, so I’m excited that I’ve already touched 178 leads, and without doing any additional work they will receive 4 more postcards.

I hope you’ve had a hopeful, productive start to the year as well!

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Filed under Absentee Owners, Fear, Marketing, Planning, Probate

Guest Post: Surviving Mesothelioma Cancer

Hi friends!  Today I have a guest post from Mesothelioma cancer survivor, Heather Von St. James.  Mesothelioma is a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, and in this post Heather shares her story and explains the facts about asbestos, which were surprising to me.  As an investor, this information is critical as we inspect or renovate a house.  But her story also touches on something I deal with as well: fear.  Learning to face fears, seek community and find hope is something all humans must do, especially if you are trying to overcome an obstacle.  I encourage you to head over to Heather’s blog to hear more about her story.  She is inspiring!

Surviving Mesothelioma Cancer

A cancer diagnosis is one of the scariest things that anyone can deal with, and I first heard those words when my life was going perfectly. I had an adorable 3-month old baby, and suddenly, I had malignant pleural mesothelioma, a cancer which was typically caused by exposure to asbestos.

I was confused when I first heard it, as were the people around me. I thought it was banned, and no one understood how I could have gotten exposed. The truth of the matter is that asbestos is not banned, and I had received secondary exposure through my father. Asbestos fibers were clinging to my father’s clothing when he came home from his construction job, especially his jacket which I wore outside frequently.

Construction sites aren’t the only place asbestos is found. Asbestos is commonly found in old homes. Some of the most common places for asbestos to be found in a home is in the ceiling, floor, roofing, and siding. Before you completely renovate your home, you should always have an inspector come to check if your walls, ceiling, or any other area of your home contain asbestos. That way, you know if you need to take special precautions when renovating. If you do have asbestos in your home, you should contact a professional to remove it, keeping you and your family safe from any possible exposure.

I was 36 when I was diagnosed; the Mayo Clinic had only heard of one other case with such a young victim. Most people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer are older, male, and have worked for years in a trade like plumbing, heating, or electrical engineering. These people have received primary exposure, but then there are their wives. Their wives did their laundry, shaking out the fibers into the air. There were also women who had worked in schools where asbestos was often used. These victims of secondary exposure were just coming out of the woodwork, and instead of being an anomaly; I was at the start of a disturbing new trend. There are now more and more young people who are being diagnosed with this disease, and they are not alone.

The more time I spend in the mesothelioma community, the more I hear these stories, and the more young patients I know. Age is no defense; I’ve seen women and men in their twenties and their thirties who are just starting their lives and are afflicted with this disease. It brings them to a crashing halt, and suddenly all of their resources are spent trying to beat this insidious issue.

There is hope, however. Science is advancing every day, and there are more and more survivors from all walks of life.

A cancer diagnosis often feels as if it is the end of the world. I know I felt that way when I first got my diagnosis. However, there is also hope. I have continued to hang on to my hope and to find home in the community. The mesothelioma community is a diverse one, and it is a place to share, to help others, to weep and to celebrate.

I share my story over and over again to make sure that people know that there is hope. Awareness is key! Check out this short video for an explanation of what exactly mesothelioma is: What is Mesothelioma?

Thanks  to Heather for sharing with us.  And again, to hear more of her story or about mesothelioma cancer, visit her blog: http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/heather/.

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Filed under Fear, Inspections

3 Closings in 5 Months!

It’s not unusual to find a serious gap in posts from me, but I’ve always been faithful to report back.  I’m thrilled that this time the update comes after 3 different closings in the last 5 months!

Closing #1:  3/2/2 in OKC, acquired using creative financing

This lead I got from my absentee owners marketing.  The ARV was somewhere between $95 – 100K and the seller agreed to a price of $61k (what she owed on her mortgage).  The place needed work, though, and had a squatting tenant, so rather than put it under contract when I wasn’t totally sure, she agreed to let me lease/option the place at a monthly rate that was just above what her monthly mortgage payment was.  My exit strategy was to sell the house before I needed to make that first payment (although I was prepared to do so if needed).


I immediately negotiated with the tenant (sooo much easier said than done) and gave him cash for keys.  I then marketed the property and sold it to another local investor, getting a check for about $7k. The whole process (from first phone call to closing) was about 5 weeks.

Biggest lessons learned:
-Negotiations (well, successful ones anyway) are really about relationships, respect and kindness, enforcing boundaries, being willing to walk away (without anger), and lots of listening.
-I discovered a secret strategy for finding buyers (ha! gimmicky sounding but so true)
-Motivated sellers are willing to be more flexible with you, if your ideas make sense and you have established credibility.
-You push into a whole different level of client satisfaction if your offer includes solutions to every single problem they have related to this property – not just selling it.
-Creative financing (rather than outright buying or straight wholesaling) made a deal for me when there might not have been otherwise.

Closing #2: 3/2/2 in Broken Arrow, OK, a turn-key rental property we’re keeping

Again, this lead came from absentee owners marketing I am doing in the OKC area.  She wasn’t interested in selling that property but did want to sell this one.  In our first exchange I couldn’t offer her high enough, but she contacted me a month later to discuss it more.  Eventually, she accepted my owner finance offer and we closed this past Monday. This is our very first rental!

The highlights of this deal:
-The property already comes with long-term tenants locked into a lease.
-The neighborhood is great and we’re getting about 1% of property value for rent.
-The owner financing allows us to cash flow right away and build enough equity to refinance later and not pay more each month for the mortgage.

Closing #3: 3/1.5/2 in Del City – A straight wholesale deal

This deal also came from my absentee owners marketing.  This is the Big One I’ve been waiting for.  I got the property under contract for $20k and immediately flipped it for $33,500.  I had my first double-closing (called a “slip” by the closing agent) and walked away with a check for $12,607!  Definitely warranted another happy dance.  🙂  I can’t wait to pay off some debt and surprise my family with some special gifts!

A few more lessons learned:
-Confirmed the awesomeness of my buyer-finding strategy: it’s the second time in a row I’ve found a buyer in 7 days or less and added more than a few people to my buyer’s list.
-Realized that my buyer-finding strategy comes from something I took to heart from Steph Davis over at Flip This Wholesaler: when looking for a buyer, make sure you stand out! (I actually used that ad to sell a house in 2010 in 2 days.)
-Fell in love all over again with Dropbox for being able to quickly share over 100 photos to potential buyers.

I am so grateful and excited to be able to celebrate these closings.  It’s an assurance that if your path is a good one, all you have to do is keep running, walking or crawling and you will get there.  🙂

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Filed under Deals, Ethics & Etiquette, Fear, Motivation

Oh.So.Close!

I got another call from my probate letters. Thankfully, it wasn’t a hate call.  (Shiver.)  It was a “please-take-this-nightmare-situation-off-my-hands” call! 

This nice, smart, businesswoman is the pr of her deceased brother’s estate.  She lives out of state (motivation check), he was a hoarder, leaving the two houses on the property in terrible shape with rooms full of stuff (motivation double check), and she felt her life was one crisis after another (triple check).

I felt rather sorry for her, dealing with all this.  I didn’t get a word in – the poor lady had so much to tell.  But I stuck as well as I could to Vena’s script, and voila!  We were suddenly striking a deal.

I told her I needed to research the property.  I got off the phone and immediately called my friend/partner/buyer, who helped me with ARVs and repair costs (and, thankfully, mine weren’t too far off!).  We discovered that her bottom dollar and ours was really only separated by an actual inspection of the property, but I first needed to know if I could get her to agree to a ballpark or range (to avoid wasting everyone’s time by arranging neighbors to let us in).

When I called back, it happened just like it was supposed to:
ME: Well, that property is just so unique, it’s pretty difficult to come up with an idea of what we could offer, since there aren’t very many sales like it in the area.
HER: You mean, there aren’t a lot of comparables.
ME: Exactly.  Well, do you have any idea of what you were hoping to walk away with at closing?  After the mortgage is paid, and you walk out, what were hoping to have?
HER: I’ll be candid with you.  A realtor friend down there said that he thought if I fixed up one of the houses, I could get it for X.  I was really hoping for that, which would leave me about $30k or so, I guess.
ME: Okay.  I understand.  Let me ask you this: if we could take care of all the belongings in the house (after you come back and take what you want), so that you don’t have to deal with it, and could offer you cash with a closing in 20-30 days, do you think you could be happy walking away with closer to 20K?
HER: You know.  You’re offering a pretty good deal.  Not having to take care of all that stuff myself would lift a huge burden off of me.  I think that’s definitely within the realm of possibility.
ME: Great!  Well, that means that it’s really important that I get in to see the property.  I’m pretty sure, from what you’ve told me, that we could do somewhere in the ballpark of giving you 20K at closing, but I really need to see the property to determine the value and repair costs first.  I’d love to do that as soon as possible, so that I could give you an exact number, and you could decide from there.

We went on to discuss her sending me a letter giving me permission to look at the house, and how and when the neighbors will let us (me, and the partner/buyer) in.  I’ve received the letter (by fax) and she’s waiting to hear back from the neighbor. 

WOOOOOOOHOOOO!!!!!  How exciting.  I’m almost certain I had an adrenal crash this afternoon from being so darn excited about it all this morning.

We shall see!

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Filed under Deals, Fear, Probate

In two weeks…

I did my pow-wow with hubby last night to discuss what we accomplished last week, and what our goals are for this week.

I was embarrassed to realize that 1) after reading through Vena’s Real Estate 101 course, I’ve already taught myself nearly all of it from reading through forums and articles online, but have yet to act on any of it! and 2) I accomplished all of my goals last week EXCEPT the ones related to REI!

FEAR is terrible. 

New Goals for End of March:

  1. 100 probate letters sent
  2. 60 (?) eviction postcards sent
  3. 20 vacant house postcards sent
  4. 10 MLS offers made

 This is sort of insanely ambitious for me.  But starting this week, I have a babysitter watching the kids once a week for 4 hours.  4 hours of time alone to work!!!  I will take advantage of every second.  I broke the two week goal into weekly goals, and then to daily goals.  I told myself that if I don’t get daily goals done, I don’t get to watch tv.  It’s sad, but I’m motivated by rewards!  I didn’t want to use chocolate, because, well, if chocolate’s my reward then that means I can’t eat it otherwise!  And I can’t have that.

Time management is important.  But facing my fear is top priority.  Why am I avoiding actually doing this?  I guess there are tons of reasons, but all of them start with “I’m afraid that…”.  I trick myself into thinking that I’m doing something important, but it’s not getting me sellers and it’s not getting me buyers, so it’s really not.  As a seasoned procrastinator, I’m very good at avoiding what I don’t want to do.  It’s too obvious to ignore now – I either do it or quit.  I’m doing it!

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Filed under Fear, Probate

Pushing Through Comfort Levels

I made it my goal to call at least 2 banks today to ask about short-term investment loans so we could get prequalified.  I called 4!  I called a mortgage company, my local bank, and two other local banks I know about it.

Meanwhile, I have the weird duplex/garage apt. property I needed to make an offer on.  I couldn’t come up with comps, and decided to “phone in a friend”. 🙂  There’s a wonderful lady at our local REIA clubs who has offered to help me.  She knows her stuff.  We’ll call her Susan.

As I was sitting on the phone with the loan officer, who sounded so sophisticated and smart, while I fumbled all over my words (and banking vocab!), I thought: as soon as you hang up, you get to call Susan!

I almost laughed out loud, and smiled to myself how strange it was to find myself looking forward to calling up some woman I don’t know to talk about a REAL ESTATE DEAL.  Two months ago, THAT prospect would have had me sweating bullets.  Now, it’s comfortable and easy.  I hope it keeps going that way.

I talked to my investor friend and she knew the area, and understood how hard my predicament was.  It would cash flow, but it’s overpriced.  Hmm…We decided to see if I could get an option on the house, and market it to see if I could find a buyer.  Of course, when we talked about the fact that he took out a $92,000 loan on the property in 2006, and I’d need to offer something ridiculous like $65-75k, we decided he probably wouldn’t take it, but that it’d be important to ask him to get back to me if needs to, and for me to follow up later.

So I called him and I couldn’t have asked for a better first rejected offer.  😀  He was nice, and explained that the reason the assessor’s value had dropped so much is b/c his city councilman felt sorry for him because of some terrible construction on the street that caused all of his tenants to move out, and they helped him out with his taxes.  Sounds strange.  I told him I understood, and that I knew he couldn’t accept my offer of $75k, but if he ever changes his mind, or hears of a house for sell, to please let me know.

By the way, the mortgage co could only pre-approve me for a long-term refinance (their appraisals wouldn’t allow many repairs).  He suggested I get a 1st mortgage short-term loan, along with a line of credit if I want to rehab, and use that.  Then to refi with him.  He said if they needed a take-out letter from him to confirm that he would indeed refinance the property, he would.  I called my local bank – she didn’t pick up.  I called ultra-conservative local bank, and they have a product like that, but won’t let repayment be based on the sale of the financed property.  Huh.  And the third bank didn’t pick up.

I’m not sure how I can get prequalified.  I want it for two reasons: 1) in case I can’t wholesale in time and need to close, and 2) to make offers on REOs and short sales.  I’ll keep brainstorming.

Have a good weekend!  We’re going to make a quick trip to DFW, and then back for a Vena Jones-Cox all day seminar on wholesaling.  YAY!

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First Cold Call

I’m actually a cold call kind of gal.  I approach strangers all the time about things.  My something-is-turning-in-my-stomach-and-I-can’t-breathe fear about doing REI cold calling is the thought that I might not know how to talk to them and answer their questions.  That’s seriously frightening.

But today I called a guy about an ad on craigslist.  It’s now under contract, but ta da!  He has one last property he needs to unload (tired of being a landlord and opening another business).  He hasn’t listed it yet!  I went to see it, and I think the poor guy paid way too much ($115,500 in 2006).  It’s a duplex with 2/1s, and a 3 car garage with a 1/1 apartment up top.  Total monthly income is about $1500, so I don’t think anyone should pay more than  $75k or so (using the 2% rule).  He said he would take $105k cash.  At least he’s willing to take a loss.  I have a feeling he’ll need to take a bigger one.  I told him I’d get back with him tomorrow. 

But what did a cold call get me???? A lead that NO ONE ELSE HAD!  Yay!

I also submitted two more offers on properties from the MLS through my agent.  I decided to focus only on properties that are vacant.  My agent got back to me and said that one has gone short sale pending (with no offer), so I wanted to jump on that (DEAL! EXPERIENCE!), but didn’t know what in the world to do!  I knew it would involve at least a prequalify letter, which I don’t have yet.  So I emailed an investor friend of mine who does lots of short sales and passed it on to him.  I’m assuming that I’ll either get a) an education on how this is a bad deal or b) a referral fee.  I’ll take either one!

My really nice buyer’s agent decided that we don’t have to sign an exclusive agreement until one of my offers is accepted (look how longsuffering she is!).  I thought that was gracious of her, considering she originally asked for one.  She’s been great so far.

I’m going to ask her to change my mls search criteria to: 180 dom (which it already is) and to also search for words that include: vacant, handyman’s special, tlc, fixer upper, etc.  I’m not sure if she can put that in the automatic search, so I’ll be asking her to do actual manual work.  We’ll see how she responds.

I’m feeling good today, because I made a call, and talked with a seller.  I want more of that!

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Filed under Fear, Marketing