Tag Archives: realtor

If it’s 99% True, Then it’s a Lie

She sat across the desk from a master.  This real estate broker was about to be grilled by one of the best question askers I have ever met.  Mark Saenz sized her up quickly.  With a twinkle in his eye he fired the first shot.  “How’s business?” he asked.

She told us that business was great.  How couldn’t it be?  “I’m finding houses on the multiple listing service for .50 cents on the dollar” she claimed.  “Really,” Mark said.  This unsuspecting Realtor just stepped into his trap.  She shook her head confidently, “Yes, I am.”

Mark told her he would buy every house she could find for .50 cents on the dollar.  This, of course, made the agent very happy.   She was grinning from ear to ear.  “Okay, I found a condo in Phoenix you can buy for $140,000.  It’s worth about $210,000.”  A puzzled look came across Mark’s face.  “I’m no math expert, but that doesn’t sound like .50 cents on the dollar to me” he answered.  The Realtor said, “You’re right, but it’s in turnkey condition, no repairs needed.”

“But you just told me you were finding properties for .50 cents on the dollar” Mark insisted.  He told her if she found any to call him.  Then we wrapped up.

This meeting took place in September.  2008.  Here we are, more than two years later, and poor Mark is still waiting for the Realtor to call.

Mark Saenz taught me a lot about the art of asking questions.  Before I met him I would accept what most people had to say at face value.  I would give them the benefit of the doubt.  Why would they lie to me I thought.  Besides, they said what they said with such authority.  They must be telling the truth.  If there were a few holes in their story I would fill in the blanks myself.  That was the polite thing to do right?

Like me, many people just fill in the blanks – especially when desperate.  Back in 2007, l was a struggling real estate professional.  My net worth went from $8 million to negative $2 million practically overnight.  I would listen to any sales pitch and consider any investing strategy imaginable if it meant I could improve my financial situation.  I wanted to believe these opportunities would work so I didn’t ask too many questions.  It was like I didn’t really want to know the truth.

Fortunately, I learned from Mark that questions are like a shield.  They protect us from the smelly stuff that my daughters always complain about whenever we drive by the dairy farm near our house.

If you’re thinking about paying someone to teach you how to invest in real estate then I advise you ask a lot of questions.  Here are my top three suggestions:

  1. How many deals did you do last year?
  2. Can you show me HUD settlement statements for those deals?
  3. How many properties do you own right now?

If the sales person fidgets, fusses, stutters, stammers, sweats, delays or tries to change the subject then your shield worked.

My business partner Manny Romero likes to say that “if it’s 99% true, then it’s a lie.”  The problem with the real estate business is that many of the investors and educators you hear about or see on TV leave 1% of the story out.  Why?  Because that 1% will make you, and your checkbook, run for the hills.  The truth hurts doesn’t it?



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Facts Tell, Pictures Sell

I know certain things.  For example, I know that I should exercise at least three times a week for 30 minutes.  I know that I should eat a balanced diet of lean protein, fruits and vegetables.  I know I shouldn’t drink soda, smoke cigarettes, or drink alcohol excessively.   I also know I shouldn’t speed on the freeway or talk on my cell phone while driving.  I know I should floss my teeth every night before I go to bed and tell my wife that I love her.  So, if I know and accept these things to be fundamental truths then I must do them religiously and without fail right?  Well, if you’re anything like me then the answer is a big fat no!

Why is that?  Most of us know exactly what we need to do to be successful, from our diet to our fitness.  The trouble is following through.  Some experts believe it’s because as a society we are undisciplined.  That’s part of the reason but not the real answer.  I believe it’s because it’s just too darn easy not to be successful.  The consequences are often unrecognizable and far off in the distant future.

As a Realtor there are things I know in my business too.  I know my listings will seller faster and for more money if they have lots of clean, well-composed, high quality pictures.  I know that potential buyers will most likely find my listing online and will call their Realtor to see it because of the pictures.  The bottom line is that facts tell and pictures sell.  You probably know that too.  But do your listings show it?

I’m not advocating dropping thousands of dollars on expensive camera and lighting equipment, nor am I suggesting you go back to school and study photography.  However, I do recommend you invest about $500 in a digital camera and learn some basic photography techniques like the rule of thirds.

 I recently purchased a Canon G11 digital camera.  Keep in mind I’m no photo geek so I’m not going to bore you with the specs.  What I like about this camera is that it’s high resolution (10 MP), has a built-in wide angle lens (a must for taking pictures of houses) and is excellent in low light.  The Canon G11 is a hybrid between a standard point and shoot and DSLR.  It won’t weigh you down like a big DSLR but it has easy-to-use settings that allow you to switch back and forth between inside and outside shots.

Once you have a good camera it’s time to work on your technique.  For starters, turn off the date stamp feature and don’t ever shoot directly into the sun.  And unless you want to end up on UglyHousePhotos.com, do not to capture your reflection in the mirror while taking that picture of the master bathroom (a little tip here – kneel down below the mirror.)  Leif Swanson a Realtor and creator of the site, also says you should never take pictures from your car or at night, and never have people or pets in the image.

There you have it.  You now know what you already knew.  What I have written here may not get you to the gym or prevent you from drinking a bottle of wine at dinner but at least you’ll start selling more houses.

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Attracting and Working with Real Estate Investors

Donald Trump wasn’t available next Tuesday, January 19th, 2010,  from 1-4p to teach the Attracting and Working with Real Estate Investors class in Mesa, Arizona so I was asked to speak on this subject in his absence.  This is a brand new class being offered through the Arizona Academy of Real Estate and it’s worth 3 hours of Agency if you’re a Realtor.  If you’re not a Realtor you’re still welcome to join us.  We don’t bite and I promise you’ll learn something.  I can also guarantee it will be more interesting than a mold remediation class (no offense intended to any mold remediation instructors.)

Click here to view the Attracting and Working With Real Estate Investors Flyer

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