Bio: With over 15 years of REO and short sale experience, Justin brings a wealth of information on great marketing strategies, technology, and ramping up volume in a flat or down market.
Posts by justinrichards:
My mom is a garage sale warrior. She’s constantly on the prowl for the next great deal she might uncover on an unsuspecting Saturday morning drive. I on other hand will swing by on occasion lacking the enthusiasm that she usually arrives with. As I rummage through old frames, board games with missing pieces, and the occasional holiday sweater, I’m always amazed that near the clothes there are used underwear!!
Who buys used underwear? Although these undergarments have been cleaned, the reality is these cotton have touched, supported, and wiped the very most intimate parts of our bodies. I’ve seen them with worn elastic and even the faint proverbial skidmark. Even at 50cents, I think it’s worth the extra money to buy these new and fresh. Where you know what you’re getting into.
Currently the GSEs, Fannie and Freddie (along with many other banks) are steering their eviction coordinators and pre-marketers towards the idea that tenant-occupied properties make the single family home more attractive, especially to investor purchasers. My partner and I have sold maybe 2 dozen of these tenant-occupied properties, but almost all have been problematic and the investors have NOT considered the tenant occupant a positive selling feature. I’d say it’s a lot like buying a used pair of underwear. The price may be slightly better, but you don’t know what kind of crap may have went down in the tenancy or boxers you now are the proud owner of.
Anyone had a different take on this? Good experience when buying used underwear or selling tenant-occupied SFRs?
Anyone remember MLS books? I remember when I first got into the business, we had to pay our Board of Realtors for this HUGE ass book that double the size of a telephone book that showed every active listing in our market. I’m probably aging myself, but this was before the internet and even before computers were a standard staple of any office. Back then, the way we kept track of our clients and leads were by post-it notes and handwritten notebooks.
Good news – The times have changed! There is a plethora of great Realtor software programs that now exist and are fairly cheap in the scheme of things, BUT…walk into any real estate office and your guaranteed to find at least a few agents still stuck in the last millennium using post-it notes and index cards as their best means of organizing leads and follow up. I with I could report that the “post-it note agents” that are using this method were high producing agents that have stuck with a system that has worked well for them through the years….but in my experience that is rarely the reality.
What’s the best lead follow-up systems you’ve seen? What the worst/most embarrassing ones you’ve run across?
So I happened to be visiting a friend’s real estate brokerage a few months back and was absolutely amazed at how quiet, dead, and BORING this place was. This office had a HUGE bullpin with over a hundred cubicles, at least 50 people working, and I swear you really could have heard a pin drop. I started to tell my buddy a funny story about a recent client and 15 seconds into story the unthinkable happened!!! SSSHHUUUUSH!!
WTF??My voice wasn’t loud or overly animated, in fact I’d been keeping it down since this brokerage felt more like a church or library than a real estate office, but sure enough I got shushed. After we left, this got me to thinking is this office just boring as hell, or is my office just the anomaly?? In my office it’s the norm to hear people yelling back and forth down the hallway, music on, people laughing, an occasional curse word or two, chair races, loud phone calls going on, and tons of deals being done.
For me the more casual environment makes work interesting and fun to come into. Not sure why “Professional” is always defined as suits, stuffy, quiet,….and boring. If that definition is true….I’ll be the first to admit, our office is NOT professional.
How is your brokerage? Loud and bustling …or quiet? Is your office’s idea of getting crazy having a potluck on Wednesday instead of Friday? What environment do you thrive in?
I was in church this past week and the pastor spent the whole message going over the value and reasoning behind the Sabbath. For those of you that aren’t church goers, the Sabbath is the 7th Day of the week. Traditionally most Christians celebrate it on Sunday, but some denominations like Seventh Day Adventists and Jews celebrate it on Saturday. Muslims celebrate a special day of prayer and rest on Friday. No matter how you flip it though, most religions agree that there should be a day out of the week that you DO NOT WORK!!!
I’m as guilty as many of you reading this blog in that I might have a “day off”, but that just means I don’t go into the office. I STILL spend 2-5 hours in my home office or on my cell phone answering emails, returning calls, etc. SO…..for the last two weeks my family and I have challenged ourselves to do away with the TV, internet, phone, fax, email, Facebook, and whatever other electronic addictions we possess for an entire 24 hours. IT WAS DIFFICULT….but a few things happened:
1) I found myself with more time to spend with my kids. I read a book I’d been waiting to start for months.
2) I took a nap and felt more rested going into Monday than I have in months
3) My business didn’t burn down. The urgent emails I felt like I needed to address, waited until Monday morning for a response.
I’m curious for those of you who have been in the business for a while, do you have a day of complete rest?
If not, do you think you could be a better agent, father, or husband by taking one day truly off ?
I have a field team of 3 that are awesome. One of the field people, Ida, is a lady in her late sixties that doesn’t have to work, but just loves the hustle of driving around and being out in the field. For 60+, she’s in great shape and is the kind of woman you wouldn’t want to cross (I almost lost an arm-wrestling match to her a few years back!…Like I said ALMOST…LOL).
Anyways, a while back she went to check one my vacant REO properties in a sketchy part of town. She made her way through the house checking the living room and bedrooms to make sure all was okay when she heard the shower running at the rear bathroom. She opened the door and found a squatter in the shower, butt-naked, ding a ling out and all!! Now if this was me, I would have backed out fast, went out to my car, and called the police. Ida took a different approach and scolded the man for trespassing. He pulled on his boxers quickly and as he was angrily stomping towards her yelling at her “Get out!”, she whipped out her camera and started taking pictures of the squatter!!! (pix attached) He ended up grabbing his stuff and running off, but I couldn’t believe this story!
Of course my staff’s safety is my top concern and we discussed better ways for her to handle this the next time….but HOLY CRAP!! I don’t know if Ida was crazy, stupid, or just a bad-ass 60+ female version of Braveheart.
If this was you, what would you have done? Anyone have any scary run-ins with squatters on your listings/showings?
It’s happened now multiple times. We get multiple offers on an REO listing. The asset management companies tells the buyer that the home will be sold as-is. The MLS says home is as-is. The addendum states as-is. YET…2-3 weeks later buyer sends over a lengthy request asking for repairs that defy everything that has been discussed.
Problem is, that at least the last 4-5 times I’ve presented this crap to my client, the asset management company, they actually HAVE done some of the repairs. These buyers that are getting away with pushing for repairs are often the more sophisticated investors and because they got what they wanted even once…now it is an expectation. If give a mouse a cookie, don’t be surprised when he asks you next for some milk.
What do you think? Should the banks tell these buyers to go pound sand? or should they come back to the negotiating table after they thought they had a done deal??
Even the best buyer agent has gotten stuck in the trap. The trap where your buyer keeps milking you for one more showing appointment, which when done turns into a request for another showing appointment. By the time you finally figure out that this buyer is just sucking the time and life out of your schedule, and the gas from your tank, it is usually too late. You’ve spent too much time and money on them now to fire them, so you just stick it out hoping they eventually buy which almost never happens.
I think back to when I first became a buyer agent and was excited to be working with a well qualified buyer who said she was serious. She was only available to look at houses on Sunday afternoons and so for the next 6 weeks I sacrificed the afternoon I would have normally spent with my family showing this “serious buyer” 10 houses every showing appointment. After 100 viewed homes, and lost quality time with my family, my buyer informed me that she decided to just wait. I was PISSED, but I had nobody to blame but myself.
Moving forward, I protected my time better by asking clients right upfront “How many homes do you need to see be able to make an offer and purchase one?” The answer I was looking for was “I only need to see one house if it’s the right home”, and I told the buyer this. I explained that most of my clients found the right home within the first 6-8 homes so to be ready. That quick dialogue, saved me time and set the tone for our relationship moving forward.
It’s unfortunate but many buyer agent coaches and buyer agent training classes don’t ever address this simple topic – They’ll focus on real estate farming, and internet marketing, but ignore what needs to happen once you have them in your car. How many showings is too many? Where do you dry the line??
We’ve all heard it hundreds and maybe more likely thousands of times, “I’m already working with another agent”. Whether you’re calling somebody back from sign call, meeting them at an open house, or responding to an internet lead. This one simple sentence has gotta be one of the most common objections we run across as buyer agents and yet time and time again, I’ve heard SOOOO many agents shy away as soon as they hear those words. Unlike a seller listing, the vast majority of these buyers haven’t signed a BBA (buyer broker agreement) and they aren’t contractually obligated to anyone (yet)… so why are we letting them off the hook??
When I first started as a buyer agent and was still wet behind the ears lacking training, I admit I too heard the “I’m working with another agent” and immediately thanked them for the time and hung up the phone. Luckily with failure comes wisdom and maturity and I quickly picked up a simple dialogue that helped me sell 5-10 additional homes year in and year out. Here’s the dialogue:
Buyer: I’m already working with another buyer agent.
Buyer agent: Great, how long have you been working with them?
Buyer: 2 weeks, 5 months, etc (doesn’t matter much)
Buyer agent: So let me ask you (pause), if your agent using ALL the resources available to them still cannot find you a home in the next 3-4 weeks, would you consider a different approach with a different agent?
Buyer: Yes (at least 70% of the time).
With that, you’ve got an open invitation to follow up in a week, 2 weeks, and close for the appointment. What dialogues are you buyer agents currently using? Anyone found something that works great,….or even has failed miserably?
For those of you that have been in the business for longer than a year, you’ve probably come to the realization that most of the larger training/coaching programs that exist in real estate are primarily geared for listings. When I got my start in real estate many years ago, I remember going through 2-3 different “real estate boot camp” , or “realtor jumpstart” programs that were out there. Although these programs always had a few good pearls of information you could glean from the seminar, they all seemed to demonize the role of the buyer agent and made buyers sound more like a necessary evil instead of great, dependable, and predictable source of business.
After years of experience, what I figured out is that a good real estate buyer agent CAN make a great living and bring home consistent income if they have right the tools and systems in place. Any buyer agents out there that used to do listings and switched? Any good training that you’ve been exposed to that helped your business?
Earlier this year I had a scare when my 3yr old daughter started sneezing and later coughing up blood. I did my best to keep my cool, but I inside I was freaked out. What I needed as I drove to Kaiser was an accurate diagnosis of what was wrong so we could make the best decisions possible.
Later this got me thinking about blast BPO companies (don’t ask me why). These blast BPO companies are paid by their client to compile the most accurate information possible, but instead send the order to the first person that raises their hand. What if instead of going to a qualified pediatrician for my daughter, I sent out a blast message to anyone who had taken a science class? What if I didn’t choose the person with the most experience, or the person that had performed well in this area in the past, but rather I chose the first person to respond??
That would be STUPID!! I’d probably end up with some college dropout who took a semester of biology instead of a trained physician. Isn’t it just as STUPID though when we’re talking about a family’s home? This BPO can decide whether that family gets a needed loan mod or gets rejected; whether they successfully short sale their home or go to foreclosure? Whether the underling investor loses 150k or 225k?
Just a thought, who do you think is more likely to be sitting in front of their computer all day fondling the refresh button hoping to capture an order? The successful broker who has sold tons in the area, or rather the lame-brain agent who last sold a home when Reagan was in office?
Anyone else have a different take on this? Which BPO companies have you had the worst experiences with?