Real estate agent & broker Edition
For the serious real estate professional
Issue 007/July 2012
Fredrik Eklund of BRAVO TVâ€™s Million Dollar Listing NY Find Out What It Takes To Sell A Billion Dollars In Real Estate Page 16
The Communication Illusion The silent relationship killer
Ten Easy Steps for Getting Started with Bank-Owned Properties
Acquiring Distressed Property in a 1031 Tax-Deferred Exchange
Legal Abuse Syndrome and Foreclosure Fraud
Photo by Rich Caplan
Why EXIT? We spoke one-on-one with long-time Franchisee, JANICE PETTEWAY, the owner of a powerful trifecta of EXIT offices in the state of Florida, who reflects on joining EXIT and the advantages of owning an EXIT franchise. What precipitated your purchase of an EXIT Realty franchise? I was very unhappy with the system I was in and I explored many franchise systems. At that time, I didn’t even know about EXIT. Nothing appealed to me and I had made the decision to go independent when I stumbled on
EXIT. I knew I would open under this franchise system within six minutes of the presentation.
What did you see in the opportunity and timing of buying an EXIT Realty franchise? I saw the potential for the agents, and I knew that with happy agents I would build a company fast. As far as the timing, it really had no bearing - I would have done it any day and year!
recruiting and retention gave me time to focus on the agents and their needs. I believe when you can do that, the recruiting and retention really becomes easy.
What would you tell another person interested in purchasing an EXIT franchise? Not to hesitate. I would tell them to pick up the phone and call some of us (888.668.3948). No other franchise system has the genuine support between offices that EXIT Coming from a franchise competitor, does. That in itself is a good reason how has being with EXIT bettered to join EXIT. your business? The EXIT Formula of built-in ThINk REsIduALs!
Janice Petteway EXIT Real Estate Results Longwood, FL
Does Janice’s story resonate with you? Call Tami Bonnell, President – US, today to find out more! 1.877.253.3948
Daring, Dashing, Cunning An interview with BRAVO TV's Fredrik Eklund Rick Roque
Robert Pegg email@example.com David Pegg firstname.lastname@example.org MANAGING EDITOR
Rick Roque Rick@thenichereport.com
Cathy Johnson email@example.com
Shawna Ingram firstname.lastname@example.org
Advertising Director Jessica Grizzle
Photo by Rich Caplan
The Communication Illusion Rene Rodriguez The silent relationship killer.
7 Tools to Facilitate Social Media Marketing for Realtors速 Marcela de vivo
How to Attract the Best Tenants Jennifer Chan Pre-screening tips that can save you from disaster.
Often Overlooked Due Diligence Mike Morrison
10 Easy Steps for Getting Started with Bank-Owned Properties Don chambers
Acquiring Distressed Property in a 1031 Tax-Deferred Exchange Cris anderson
32 35 37 39
The Real Power of Facebook Rick Grant It's all about what you share in today's social networks.
Legal Abuse Syndrome and Foreclosure Fraud brian mahany
Hunting for Office Space jared diamond Four things not to forget.
How to Build an Online Presence for Your Real Estate Business for $99 Mercela De Vivo
06 12 40 42 46
note from the Editor political conditions and analysis service provider classifieds Advertiser DIRECTORY BRINGING UP THE REAR
Hilary Bateman email@example.com
Henry Suchman firstname.lastname@example.org
Dawn Exner email@example.com
COLUMNISTS & Contributing Authors Martin Andelman Cris Anderson Don Chambers Jennifer Chan Marcela De Vivo Jared Diamond Rick Grant Brian Mahany Mike Morrison Rene Rodriquez
note from the Editor
Real estate agent & broker Edition Real Estate Agents: The last (and final) frontier. Being a real estate agent is the last American frontier for sales professionals where the sky is the limit on what you can make. The risk matches the reward; you start with nothing and you can make it big with a great deal of work, some money invested in marketing, and a commitment to a disciplined sales methodology. But sadly, this is going to end. The land of opportunity is going to be limited and controlled by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) – or at least this is what I think and many of us in the housing markets think while we watch the CFPB’s actions in recent months. The creation of the CFPB was the result of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. With nearly 1,000 employees, the bureau is already larger than 99.97% of companies in the United States, and its sweeping powers granted by the Dodd-Frank legislation have an unprecedented reach into the lives of consumers and the financial transactions they engage in. While real and valid efforts need to take place, like with many federally driven mandates, government bureaucracies tend to overreach with goals to simply legitimate actions and its very own presence. Its primary mission is to conduct rule-making and supervision of consumer financial protection laws, receive consumer complaints and promote financial education for consumers. Doesn’t this already exist? Why not enforce current laws and empower existing agencies to monitor, regulate and oversee consumer financial protection initiatives? Flat Fee Per Closed Home? If loan officers are bound by this, will Realtors be next? As its first target, the CFPB has focused on the mortgage industry and has woefully promoted changes to the mortgage process and compensation systems that will only hurt the consumer, make it costlier to originate mortgages, make the largest banks larger and sadly, drive further consolidation in the industry, creating an economic climate that is impossible for the small, family-owned mortgage or financial services company to survive – all in the name of ‘consumer protection’. At the heart of the changes is loan officer compensation where the CFPB is dictating how sales representatives in the mortgage industry should be paid and the fees they can collect. Regardless of how transparent they are and whether the consumer is fully aware of them, the federal government is going to dictate this behavior. This dangerous precedence is being watched very closely by NAR and its lobbying efforts, and of course by Realtors across the United States. If a loan officer can only make a flat fee, as the CFPB has proposed, while they advise borrowers on the type of mortgage they can qualify for, work with them to improve their credit, prepare the paperwork and then close the transaction, when will such measures impact how much a Real Estate Agent will make? Can you image making $1,500 per transaction regardless if the home is a $150,000 property or a $2M property? It defies reason – and yet these federally empowered bureaucrats are marching forward with their empowered agenda to “protect consumers,” even when such measures hurt the consumer in the short, middle and long terms. Housing market is recovering but the future remains uncertain. All eyes are on the Presidential election and the Q3 and Q4 economic numbers, which will not be released until the Q1 and Q2 of 2013 respectively. What can fuel the fire of economic growth or stymie it are industry regulatory rules: clearly defined, well thought-out and industry-supported rules that are in the best interest of the consumer will motivate economic growth; ill-advised, imposed rules with no clear end in sight will further stymie growth, if not reverse any modest gains we’ve experienced to date. My goal for The Niche Report, RealEstate Edition, is to provide useful insights into the real estate economy and how real estate professionals can grow their business in today’s challenging environment. Remember, if you want to learn more about what we are doing, email or call me (408.914.5895) and I’ll jump on a plane and come visit with your real estate team! Thank you – I look forward to hearing from you!
Rick Roque Managing Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Communication Illusion The Silent Relationship Killer
By rene rodriguez
man yelled frantically into the phone: “My wife is pregnant and her contractions are only two minutes apart!” “Is this her first child?” the doctor asked. “No!” the man shouted, “This is her husband!” I can’t hold it in anymore, I just need to say it straight out: most of us suck at communicating! Yet many of us (me included) think that we are great at it. You’re going to have to forgive my bluntness, but I needed a way to catch your attention amongst all the articles and information written about this abused subject. Communication is a part of almost every human interaction, which is why we keep hearing that we need to be better communicators. But let me ask you a question: “How well do you communicate?” Most people respond with some sort of positive assessment of their communication skills while being somewhat open for more learning. Here is another question for you: 8
“What would your significant other, coworkers, children, friends, boss or customers say about your communication effectiveness?” Before you answer, ask yourself this question: “Will they even tell me the truth?” If your immediate answer was “of course they would,” then this article is for you. I have a simple goal, and that is to make you paranoid (in a good way) about the effectiveness of your communication with others, and that can only happen when we become aware of what often goes unnoticed. Stay with me and it will all make sense. The reality of our poor communication, along with what seems to be a collective belief that we are better at it than we really are, is a phenomenon that I have wrestled with for over 18 years. The word/concept of “communication” has been so widely talked about, misunderstood and overused that it has entered the realm of cliché. Stanley Kubrick illustrates one of the underlying challenges we face when dealing with clichés: “Our ability to talk about a subject matter
can create the consoling illusion that it has been mastered.” What he means here is that most of us can “talk” a great game in regard to communication, but when it comes to “walking” it, research and experience show that we stumble not just sometimes, but most of the time. “The beginning of wisdom is a definition of terms.” -Socrates
Understanding the problem Before we dive into what needs to change, we must understand the problem better. Webster’s Dictionary defines “communication” as “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior.” Okay, so by that definition, we are communicating all the time. I get it, but it doesn’t help me understand the problem. We need to look further. I found a definition for “excellent communication” that states “a communication that is managed strategically, meets its objectives, and balances the needs of the organization and the needs of key people with two-way symmetrical communication” (Grunig & Grunig). Though I love that definition, it still doesn’t help me to understand why it is so hard to be (and be perceived as) an effective communicator. Why is communication so hard? George Bernard Shaw wisely observed, “the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” When we combine the collective wisdom of Kubrick, Shaw and Socrates, it becomes clear the biggest threat to good communication lies in our perceptions tricking us into feeling that we have communicated effectively or that we have understood clearly. The worst part about this is that our perceptions form our reality— which is to say that if we are not diligent in maintaining a high sense of awareness, we will never know when we communicate poorly. How do we fix something that we are not even aware of? First off, let’s remember that the things we take for granted in life (i.e., how we communicate) are often very complex processes when analyzed. For example, anytime we communicate something, there are six checkpoints that our message must pass through before it is fully transmitted. At any of these points, our message can either pass through in its intended form or become distorted.
The Six Checkpoints are: 1. What I want to say 2. What I actually say 3. What the other hears 4. What the other understands 5. What the other wants to say in response 6. What the other actually says in response
Figure 1 illustrates a simple conversation between Bill and John. If at any point the steps in the process break down, there is the potential for a wide range of miscommunication.
Personal filters Let’s assume that Bill (green shirt) is an excellent communicator and can translate what he “wants” to say into what he “actually” says. That information still has to pass through John’s (the listener’s) “personal filters.” These filters form an invisible barrier that can distort even a seemingly clear message from Bill. Common filters include the emotional state, cultural background, situational context, personal beliefs, and stress level of the listener. These filters will influence the perception and interpretation of Bill’s message, resulting in either a clear communication or a distorted one. The effect our personal filters can have on a message can be seen clearly among sports fans. We’ve all seen a referee make a certain call, and then watched how the fan whose team benefited argues that it was “fair” and “the right call,” while the fan whose team was penalized derides the call as a “horrible” one. Here you have two people receiving the exact same message, yet having completely opposite interpretations and subsequent reactions – all due to personal filters. TheNicheReport.com
Types of Personal Filters Emotion: We are always in an emotional state—joyful, anxious, upset, expectant, excited, to name a few. Our emotional state will influence our reaction to the message. When we are upset or anxious, it is much harder to receive new ideas. Conversely, when we are joyful or expectant, and look forward to hearing what someone has to say, we listen better and are more likely to accept reasonable ideas if they are presented well. Culture: Personal history, country, state or cities of origin and upbringing have an enormous impact on our filters. Language and accent differences can confuse understanding of difficult concepts, as well as the interpretation of events, tone, facial expressions and the like. When formulating important messages, it is important to consider cultures, customs, and histories that are different from our own. Situational Context: Recent experiences and environmental factors also influence the way we receive messages. Unlike emotions, situational context involves elements that are external to the listener. This includes how the message is presented and what was said or done previously. For example, a room that is too noisy, dark, cold, or uncomfortable will distract the listener’s attention. Personal Beliefs: In life, everything we experience is related to previous experiences. When we understand an idea or concept, it is because we are relating it to our past learning, making truly new experiences a rarity. We have core beliefs about our lives that guide the way we listen, perceive, and interpret what we hear. Being aware of our listeners’ personal beliefs, we need to select our words carefully and craft presentations and communications capable of touching our listeners on a deeper emotional level, which is where the most effective communication is achieved. Stress Level: Under stress, our brain becomes highly selective as to what it decides to let in to our perception. This phenomenon, while vital to protect us from physical danger, can make it difficult to listen and accurately interpret what is being said. Similar to the stressed husband in the opening anecdote of this article, we may completely misinterpret the question. Words are NOT enough! Most of us took English classes in school where we learned how to use words to communicate. But how many of us took classes on voice inflection and body language? Chances are you didn’t, unless you were part of the speech team or drama class. That question is important as we 10
look at a powerful study done by Albert Mehrabian. His research illustrated that, in face-to-face communication, we impact people not only by the words we use, but also through the tone of our voice and our body language. The breakdown was as follows: • • •
7% What we say - WORDS 38% How we say it – TONE of our voice 55% What we do – BODY LANGUAGE (facial expressions)
Though Mehrabian's model is often oversimplified and can be misinterpreted when taken out of context, it is nevertheless one of the most widely referenced statistics in communications and carries a powerful message: 93% of the impact we make on others has nothing to do with words.
What can we do? In Figure 1 above, we illustrated that the listener does not always hear the intended message of the speaker due to personal filters. Although it is impossible to remove these filters completely, we can mitigate their influence. Here is an analogy from the world of mathematics that may help. How do we know that 2 times 3 equals 6? Because we can “check our math” by dividing 3 into 6, which gives us 2. So how can we check our “communication math” to make sure our message got through? Here are some tips for effective communication: 1. Ask Clarifying Questions – In addition to indicating interest and attention, such questions help to clarify meaning and may unearth multiple messages. For example: "I'm not sure I understand?”…“What was it you just said?”…“What do you mean by…?" 2. Paraphrase – Do not assume you understand what was said. Use paraphrasing to test out what you heard and show your depth of understanding. For example: "Do you mean that…?" 3. Repeat Back What You Heard – In stressful situations, avoid over-paraphrasing. Come as close to a verbatim repetition as you can and ALWAYS ASK “AM I CORRECT?” Make sure to give them a chance to respond “yes” or “no.” We have done this exercise with over 75,000 people, and almost all of them were shocked by how often the answer was “NO.” One of the most common reactions was, “I never knew just how hard it was to really listen.” 4. Perception Checking – Remember that people also communicate feelings through language. A perception check should not express approval or disapproval of the other’s feelings, but rather should convey how you
understand the feelings. For example – Jim: "I get the impression that you are bored. Am I correct?" Bill: "No, it's very hot in here and I'm uncomfortable. That’s why I keep moving around.” 5. Active, Attentive Listening – This type of listening takes practice and is an essential communication skill. Perfect practice of active listening involves being responsive through facial expression, eye contact and obvious interest. Words such as “I see,” “yes,” and “please go on,” demonstrate your keen attention. Well-chosen language, said in the right way and with body language that is congruent, can touch the heart and soul, find a common ground, tear down walls of division, foster powerful new relationships and move people to take action. Language that ignores another person’s emotional state, culture, current life situations, and personal beliefs will miss its mark. Instead of building trust, it can distance us from those we care about and those we need to influence. I know that I was hard on you (and myself) earlier, so I will leave you with some good news. You have the answers, capability and tools to be an outstanding communicator. In fact, you’ve had them all along, and the best part – they’re all free! Things like good eye contact, active listening, and being sensitive to others’ stress level and background are all things that you know to be important. Perhaps they have become so familiar that we may have lost sight of their value and subsequently stopped using them. Now it is time to remind ourselves of the importance of these fundamentals and to apply them. Doing so will make the difference between winning or losing a sale, landing the job or not getting a call back, or getting through to your children about the importance of saying “NO” to drugs versus having them ignore you. I hope this message causes us to be at least a little bit paranoid about our communication—paranoid enough to slow down, think before we speak, and listen before we respond. I am ready for the challenge…are you? Rene F. Rodriguez is a member of the Loan Toolbox Speaking Faculty and Chief Executive Officer of Volentum (www.volentum. com), a Management Consulting Firm that specializes in creating High Performance Sales Cultures, Breakthrough Leadership, Employee Engagement and Strategic Communication, with significant expertise in applying brain research to improving results. He is a trusted advisor to Leadership and Business Teams in Coca-Cola, Liz Claiborne, Daimler Chrysler, Microsoft, and other major corporations. For more information please visit www. Volentum.com or call 952-232-1771.
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Market Conditions and Analysis
political Conditions and Analysis By rick roque
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Is Taking On the Mortgage Industry; Realtors, You May Be Next. As housing professionals, we are accustomed to working in silos. As Realtors, we focus on our channels of business and don’t give much thought to other members of the professional housing community. There are many reasons for this, but the primary one is the typical adversarial relationship that exists between parties. Since there are so many parties involved in the process of buying or selling a home, each of these parties tends to be the target of criticism by the Realtor as to any delays that arise. Whether it is with the appraiser, the loan officer, the title agent, attorneys, buyers, sellers, buyer’s agent, etc., there are always reasons to call them your best friend and your worst enemy – often within the same transaction. 12
Real estate has been compared to Europe: a collection of nations whose fate is so closely tied together that they are dependent upon one another, and yet they are utterly distinct and autonomous with little empathy for their neighbors; as soon as one of the countries is invaded by an aggressor, there are other borders and nationstates to turn to. During World War II, as the German aggression quickly spread through Europe, most countries ignored the plight of the fallen while praying they weren’t next. In Real Estate, loyalties run thin and are tested with each deal so when regulators or the public turn against one of the members in that fulfillment chain, Realtors just shift focus to the next transaction with little focus or concern for the bigger picture. Remember Europe and the World War II analogy? Federal regulators are sweeping through the continent of the housing industry, and if the National Association of Realtors and every agent across the United States believe that these invasive changes will stop with mortgage loan officers and
they can ignore what is happening around them, they are gravely wrong. In this scenario they are Poland – or better yet, Holland – in 1940, where in just six days the main systems of the country were destroyed by the Germans bringing the Dutch to their knees. When you destroy either the main economic drivers or their supporting infrastructure, the economy collapses. Analogously, the Federal government is attacking the very heart of economics – the ability to provide a service, and given levels of service, charge a premium for this and even make a profit (gasp) on the exchange of goods or services. There are several philosophical exceptions pertaining to the fact that buying a home is different than buying a shirt at Target (I love that store by the way), but the reality is such that actions are creating precedents that will have their own extensions in law and in respective markets. If you remember seventh grade English, there is a difference between an analogy and a simile. A simile directly compares two different things,
Market Conditions and Analysis
where an analogy is just that – an analogy may have similar illustrations but aren’t exactly the same. The use of the European metaphor is important because the erosion of freedoms is gradual, subtle and can also be swift when one isn’t looking. There is nothing more basic in our freedoms than to be able to buy a piece of cloth, stitch it together, and then charge a 30 percent premium for the cost of materials and time of labor. Housing, although more complex, illustrates little difference in this comparison. The experience of loan originators or Realtors for that matter can vary, and more senior sales representatives should be able to charge more for their service, knowledge and relationships than a less experienced one. Certainly sales representatives from every other industry would agree with this. So, why wouldn’t these Ivy League-educated staff members and employees of other Federal regulatory agencies who now work at the CFPB understand this same concept? Well, that may very well be the problem. With very little real-world experience in the buying and selling of goods, there is a void of the context in which transactions occur – and it doesn’t reside within the walls of a government bureaucracy or a course on economic theory. The CFPB has over 900 employees. Based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in light of its private sector counterparts, this would make the CFPB greater than 99.97% of all employers in the United States – so much for the 1% - 99% argument. How about being in the top 0.03% with no other competition in the marketplace to hold you accountable for the services you provide, how 14
you are compensated, and how much? Anyhow, this is the regulated housing market we live in today. Only in Washington DC can an organization grow this large in less than sixteen months. The credit crisis was Obama’s 9/11, and rather than Al Qaeda being the culprit, it was the previous administration. So, just as President Bush compromised personal freedoms based on national security rooted in the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, President Obama is setting out to curb economic freedoms with the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB is the judge, jury and executioner when it comes to financial matters and consumers. CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement, “We want to bring greater transparency to the market so consumers can clearly see their options and choose the loan that is right for them.” This is a noble endeavor with few in banking to disagree, but making things transparent isn’t the agenda; leveling the playing field with the Federal Government calling the shots as to what is fair and not fair is. So, industries that focus on credit cards, student and auto loans, residential lending and real estate, or just about any event that touches a consumer around money, is their mandate; so tell me, what doesn’t fall into this category? The bureau operates under the jurisdiction of the Dodd-Frank Act which calls for measures to address financial practices that have been judged unfair or deceptive. Other than Congress, who does the CFPB report to? It isn’t clearly defined, and if it is the financial subcommittee in Congress, this will be a crisis of power riddled
with political interests if you leave it up to politicians to determine what the limits are and how the CFPB is regulated. The first series of statements and a principal area of focus are the amount and manner in which a loan officer is paid on a mortgage. The implications of this on Realtors are explicit. The CFPB has proposed a flat fee structure designed to consolidate or eliminate discount point fees and origination fees. This way there would be a flat fee regardless of the size or complexity of the mortgage being worked on. The CFPB has assembled yet another committee of business and industry representatives to explore and comment on the impact of the proposed rules. But with no accountability and little reason to believe such hearings, which are positioned as an opportunity to discuss and review such rules, those hearings amount to little more than plea deals before judgment is exercised. In the next six months the CFPB will be very busy, as they must finalize many of the mandates stipulated by Dodd-Frank by January 2013. We can expect the process of drafting rules, a comment period, and then the issuance of a final rule to be a relatively tight timeline governed not by sound policy insights, but a political timetable to act. This tendency to simply do something is economically dangerous and is fundamentally why businesses are uncertain about the future. This stagnates economic growth, hiring, improvement in unemployment trends, and simply setting a strategic direction for your company. Realtors should be deeply troubled by this. Can you imagine
Market Conditions and Analysis what it would be like to earn a flat fee per deal regardless if the deal was a $2M property versus a $150,000 property? Are there marketing expenses? Yes. Are there sales cycles depending upon the price and property type? Yes. Are there varying levels of paperwork and details pertaining to a 10,000ft2 home versus a 1700ft2 home? Yes, of course. But in the CFPB’s world, the consumer’s interest in making things simple reigns supreme over the back-end work involved to buy or sell a home or process a mortgage application. The only people who benefit from this are the brokers and business owners, and not the agents or loan officers themselves. It will kill small businesses and will consolidate and grow larger ones. This is exactly what happened in the mortgage business
where the smaller mortgage firm couldn’t survive and the larger, more capitalized one got larger. Mortgage margins grew while loan officers made less. This makes the rich “richer” and drives a culture of companies who later become literally too big to fail. It is an unintended consequence that is quite predictable. When market and regulatory conditions drive the competition out of any particular market, even to those few companies who remain and benefit from such consolidation, they end up losing, because in the end, the government swings the other way and will eventually break them up. Therefore if you are a real estate agent, you should be concerned; gravely concerned. With a healing economy and a recovering housing industry, there is tremendous
opportunity in the market today – but amidst this, there is the sound of an army marching in the distance. An army that will soon call into question your commission and the fairness of the amount you are paid, and before you know it, you’ll be the next villain of the housing market, making too much based upon the lack of transparency of what you are doing to deserve your earnings. This course can be averted with the right political and policy leadership – but as of right now, this is America today, and this is the real estate industry tomorrow. Any questions or feedback on this article, email Rick Roque, Managing Editor of The NicheReport Real Estate Edition at email@example.com or call him at 408.914.5895.
How we see it
2012 Interview Series
Fredrik Eklund of BRAVO TV’s Million Dollar Listing NY Daring, dashing and cunning; Find out what it takes to sell a billion dollars in real estate By rick roque
redrik Eklund is our featured interview this month, and he doesn’t disappoint. He is unabashed, bold and an “open book,” which I highly admire. Handsome, successful and smart, the only thing that makes any comparison to him even more unfair is he is European, multilingual, and has style that would make anyone in Hollywood jealous. Fredrik is the real deal – not only fiercely competitive, but his production numbers are the only thing that outweighs his sense of being number one. “I have never made a deal in the rain,” he is famous for saying in 2010 to the NY Times. “People need to see a place in good weather to appreciate it.” With key sales principles like these, he sells properties – and a lot of them. Fredrik “and the two other guys,” as we joke, are members of the Bravo hit show, “Million Dollar Listing New York.” With over $75M in listings, he is one of the top brokers in New York City. His success in real estate has made Fredrik a celebrity in his native Sweden, and coming from a prominent Swedish political family with ties to the prime minister, the royal family and other political and social celebrities doesn’t hurt either. Moving to the United States 10 years ago with no clients, no real estate training, and with English as his second language, he got his real estate license in 2005, and has since built a real estate practice that boasts clients like Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake and the Olsen Twins. Fredrik is impressive, and demonstrates
Photo by Rich Caplan
a path to success that is achievable in any market. Any housing professional, with the right personal and professional attributes, can dominate a market in less than five years. This is what I have concluded after interviews with Donald Trump, Barbara Corcoran, Josh Altman and now Fredrik Eklund: in real estate, anything is possible. If a one-time, gay porn star can slay New York real estate, why can’t you – as a real estate agent in Springfield, Massachusetts; or Edina, Minnesota; or in St. Louis, Missouri? Fredrick is a risk-taker – and ultimately this is what it takes to be successful. You cannot be afraid to fail, and when you do, you need to try again, but differently. Fredrick is no different from any other agent out there; the real separating quality is, he ‘esteems himself ’ differently. He expects great things from himself, and great things he has accomplished. And it is for these reasons Fredrik is a proud member of yet another prestigious accolade: Agent of the Month in The NicheReport Feature Interview Series. Hi Fredrik, tell us about yourself, were you raised in Sweden from birth? Fredrik Eklund: Was born in the suburbs of Stockholm, Sweden, and we moved into the city center when I was twelve. My first trip to New York City was at the age of eight, when my father exchanged his business class ticket paid by his job, to three coach tickets and brought me and my brother. I was instantly hooked, climbing up the Statue of Liberty in the pouring rain and looking out on the skyline in the fog. Ha, sounds like your father was a bit of an entrepreneur too, always looking for opportunity. Did you go to college? And if so, where? Fredrik Eklund: Yes, Stockholm School of Economics, one of the best business schools in Europe. But I only lasted a year. I have a hard time sitting still, and the four hour long sessions listening to the professor in Statistics made me want to go out and explore the world. So I started an Internet company, Humany.com, and convinced the former Prime Minister of Sweden to join my board. I quit school and after a year we had 45 employees and I was the CEO. It was a very interesting time of my life. Sounds adventurous! Are you still affiliated with Humany.com? Fredrik Eklund: I sold my shares and moved on. The company still exists and does well, but I have no affiliation with it.
Were there any jobs that prepared you for real estate? Fredrik Eklund: Yes, I have always been an entrepreneur, and worked for myself and sort of invented my jobs. I don’t want to know what my paycheck will be on Friday, and I want to set my own goals and limits. I have worked with my Internet start-up, a music publishing company, banking in Singapore, London and Tokyo and also tried porn and wrote a bestselling book in Sweden – all before moving to NYC and getting into residential real estate. I say I see life and the world as a big smorgasbord, and I want to try as many things as possible. Doing real estate for nine years now is my longest run with anything. How did you find yourself in the business of selling real estate? Fredrik Eklund: I had just moved to NYC and my friends told me I should try it and that I would be good at it. I am analytical and numbers driven, but also love people, and listen to and understand my clients. In real estate you need to have the perfect balance between the carrot and the whip, and at the same time be emotionally detached to your deals. That’s not easy, especially when the deals are big, and so are the commission checks, and your clients are stressed (because it’s the biggest financial decision in their life time). I had no previous experience in real estate, and did not even know the neighborhoods or the streets of New York but I was determined to succeed and worked extremely hard from 7am to 11pm every day, and after my first year in the business I sold over $50M worth of real estate and was nominated as Rookie of the Year by The Real Estate Board of New York. So how long have you been into Real Estate? Do you feel like you ever get burnt out or the learning process stops or becomes a drag? Fredrik Eklund: Next year it will be ten years. And yes, I'm still learning every day. I always say you can only learn real estate the hard way which is by failing, picking yourself up and LEARN. So, every challenge is an opportunity to grow stronger. As I was younger I didn't view real estate and life in general, like this and got saddened by all the challenges that rose. But now I get truly excited when a deal gets difficult, or about to fall apart, because it gives me yet again a chance to learn. How did you land the gig with Million Dollar Listing NY on Bravo? TheNicheReport.com
Fredrik Eklund: I always wanted to do a real estate tv show. I think MDL is a great format and Bravo is the best network for this kind of TV. The show really hits a nerve, and it’s intriguing to see these million dollar homes, the negotiations, but most importantly the buyers, sellers and the agents that make it all happen. So when I heard about Bravo casting, I went in and gave it my best shot. Looking back at the experience I’m glad I was myself the entire time, and kept my integrity. And we have to ask, how’s Andy Cohen from BRAVO TV? Does he actually do any of the interviewing when it comes to casting for Million Dollar Listing? Fredrik Eklund: He doesn't cast. But he is hands-on and very much a decision maker. People tell me they don't understand how I find time for everything, but I don't understand how Andy finds time to run a network, his own late-night show and write and promote a NY Times bestselling book. He is an inspiration. He also is a friend, in the sense he makes all of us Bravolebrities feel safe; it is scary to sign on to do something like this, but he makes us know we are taken care of and it will all be worth it. Were you familiar with your costars Ryan and Michael prior to the show? What was their reputation if any, prior to being casted? Fredrik Eklund: No, I did not know them but I knew of them. Michael is the son of my boss, Howard Lorber who is a legend and a genius. Being my boss, and the very guy who hired me, it was nerve-racking to film with Michael and the friction that the deals created. Ryan reminds me a lot of myself when I started in the industry: he is driven, aggressive and with a big ego and I really enjoy watching him on TV. In all honesty, we get the feeling you simply don’t like Ryan (nor Michael, which is a hilarious relationship to watch on tv). Why don’t you like his style and if you were his sales coach, what would you teach him? Fredrik Eklund: That’s not true at all. I do like Michael, 18
and we became friends during filming. He is a sweet guy, he is involved in a lot of charities and with an amazing Rolodex. We are just very different and we do business very differently, which makes for great television. When it comes to Ryan…. He will be one of the biggest brokers of NYC one day. He has everything going for him, and he is very, very smart. I couldn’t be more impressed with him. BUT, we are competitors and we go after the same clients and deals. My only advice to him would be to get himself into more new development, representing developers. That is the only way to get to the big numbers in NYC. Competition is difficult and especially if you frequently come out on top – is this why you can be hard on these guys? Fredrik Eklund: Competition is not difficult. It is good. It is what drives people like myself, and what makes us all be better. When it comes to Million Dollar Listing NY, this is the format, and its television. Who wants to watch something when everyone is in agreement? But the format is true to NYC: it is the most competitive real estate market in the world with 25,000 licensed agents and I would say only 200 that make really good money and control the bulk of the inventory. I want to be number one and I am not Photo by Rich Caplan ashamed of saying it. So I’m happy if you call me competitive. In terms of dollar volume, where would you rank yourself in terms of top agents in NYC? Top 100? Top 50? Top 10? Fredrik Eklund: I'm def top 10 in the city. I found I was #1 in the Prudential Network of 60,000 agents a couple of months ago, during this past Spring. I was never driven by money, but it excites me to be in the very top. If you are, the money comes anyway. And you can't buy that excitement for money. Define Success in specific terms. Fredrik Eklund: That is a tough one because success is many things at the very same time. Which means success is BALANCE. I’ve always seen life as a pie, with many pieces: money, family, love, health, nature, travel, food, spirituality.
When one piece of the pie grows too much, too fast, the other pieces shrink, and you’ve lost balance. It is only when we have balance we are successful in my eyes, and that is a very difficult place to reach, and usually we only have balance for a short moment. But when we do, and everything in your life comes together, and the pieces of the pie are in harmony (size wise), it is the best feeling and you glow. Everyone around you can see that glow and want to be part of it. What does it mean to be a consummate professional in New York Real Estate? Fredrik Eklund: To always treat everyone with the highest respect. Not only because it is the only way to live, but because it’s good for business (you never know who’ll be your next client). New York real estate is a very small world and we deal with the same top brokers, attorneys and developers all day. It’s like a family, and pissing a person off is never worth it. Remember being emotionally detached? Take the higher road. You are one of the best negotiators I have ever witnessed. This is 80% of being successful in real estate. How did you
learn to be such a master negotiator? Fredrik Eklund: Thank you. I’ve been thinking of that a lot and how I became such a negotiator. I think it has something to do with being the younger brother in a loud family and always have to make my voice heard, and get my will through. Then through-out my professional life as an entrepreneur I have always had to negotiate my success as I am inventing it, and turn naysayers into followers. I have always sold myself and my ideas when nobody believed in them. How do you negotiate? Lay out your key principles to keep in mind when negotiating. Fredrik Eklund: You need to be kind and funny, BUT then all of a sudden put your foot down at the very right time. Scan the emotions in the room, monitor the energies, and really speak to the person as a friend. It’s about winning the trust. Also, which is difficult, is to take the conversation OUTSIDE the deal to a completely different subject, and then sneak it back into the deal when least expect it, to connect people with unexpected emotions (to get them where you want).
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There is an episode of Million Dollar Listing NY where you were negotiating with a buyer’s agent, and at the end of a stressful battle of wills, you say “I think you can go higher, in fact, I know you can go higher”. They ended up going with the higher final price! That was a phenomenal power move. When do you wave the white flag? What if the agent had walked away? Fredrik Eklund: Negotiation is the world of up-side-downs. If you are a master of negotiations you say one thing but really mean another. You are constantly bluffing in a way, and yes, take a lot of risks. It is the only way to win. I love it, because you have to calculate in a split of a second what to say and how to act while balancing on your toes. To move your way up to working with and representing some of the wealthiest people in the world, is it luck to find yourself in the right place in the right time to work with such a sought after clientele? Fredrik Eklund: I don’t really believe in luck. I believe there is meaning to things, and the way our lives pan out, and we all need to have trust that this is meant to be. I do believe I’m good at what I do and that I deserve this level of success, and that I can be part of changing the business. I hope that shows in my eyes, and that clients are attracted to me for it. Have you always focused on the higher dollar properties? Have you ever sold a home for $224,000 which is the average sales price for a home in the United States? Fredrik Eklund: The first property I ever sold was $550K and I had to repaint and clean it myself. Now my sweet spot is between $3M and $6M but I also do a lot over $10M and sometime $20M. The truth is that I work as hard on a $1M listing as a $20M listing. I’m known for volume of deals, and my teams sell on average one apartment per day between NYC and Stockholm. That is a lot of negotiating at the very same time. Ahh … That’s right; I noticed your website has many listings based in Stockholm. Is there a difference between selling real estate here in the U.S. versus Sweden? Are you very involved with the selling process overseas in your home country? 20
Fredrik Eklund: I have three offices in Sweden and now opening in Mayfair, London. I started the company just three years ago and I'm so proud over how its developed. No other brokerage in Scandinavia has more listings over $1M and we are 50 employees now. Its becoming a big show, no pun intended, and its profitable. Its so rewarding to implement all the things I've learned in NYC to the Swedish market, but also the other way around. There are a lot of overlapping and buyers buying in between these cities, and I actually feel most alive when I'm balanced traveling between my home town Stockholm and the place I live, New York. I'm hopeful Million Dollar Listing NY Season 2 will show more of this side of me and my business and hopefully an episode in London. What are the top five keys to success in selling real estate?
Fredrik Eklund: - Use your personality. No one wants to work with a boring agent. - Answer all emails and phone calls in real time. Work in the now, and don’t put things on a to-do list for tomorrow or next week, it never works out. Learn real estate internationally. There are few geographic borders today and buyers come from all over the world. You need to understand what is driving these buyers. CityScape in Dubai and MIPIM in Cannes and Hong Kong are good real estate fairs to start. Don’t ever give up. You will lose a lot of deals and you need to pick yourself up. See each failure as a way to learn, and just make sure you don’t do the same mistakes twice. Set exact goals for yourself, in numbers. Write the commission you want to make on a yellow postit and wrap your toothbrush in it, or tape it to the toilet seat, whatever you do, look at it every morning.
With a city of over eight million people and nearly 25,000 real estate agents, in just over 300 square miles, how does one stand out in New York Real Estate?
Fredrik Eklund: Be obsessive about real estate: eat, drink and breathe it. When people see that glow and determination in your eyes, they will work with you. And try to have fun, the race is long and without humor it gets boring quickly. Who are the buyers of New York’s high end real estate? Be specific – are they foreign? Domestic? What is their average age and average occupation? Fredrik Eklund: The beauty of NYC real estate is that the buyers come from all over the world. We see a lot of Brazilians, Scandinavians, Chinese, Russians and French. And then we have the locals, Wall Street, and now lately a lot of tech money from Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Foursquare and Google with newly established headquarters downtown. I love the diversity of the buyers, and their needs. It’s my job to listen and help regardless who they are. What percentage of the deals do they generally (on average) pay in cash and generally what percentage of every deal is borrowed? Fredrik Eklund: Half/half. It’s amazing to me just how much cash there is. I do all cash $10M deals every month. It didn’t use to be like this. 2006 there was a lot more financing available. You are the self-proclaimed Machine of Love and you are openly gay, do you think being gay is an advantage in real estate? And In all seriousness, you are good looking and have a strong sense of detail and taste in fine clothes; clearly not attributes of the average straight agent! So tell us, has coming out helped or hurt your business or does being gay give you an edge? Fredrik Eklund: I don’t think about these things. I am who I am and I don’t view people by their sexuality. I’m open like a book and have always been. A friend once told me not to be a river but to be an ocean. When it comes to clothing I enjoy it, and I do think it shows respect to my sellers who have put in millions into their homes. I need to take that love in their homes and represent it to the potential buyers, and I cannot do that if I’m late, smell bad or have a cheap suit. Now, I’m from Sweden, I happen to be tall and fairly good looking, so my boyfriends tell 22
me, maybe these things come naturally, but I don’t think my success has anything to do with whom I fall in love with. It comes from incredible hard work, which is the unglamorous answer. Speaking of identities, you are Swedish; Swedes have a reputation for being classy, educated with European sophistication. Do you use this to your advantage, if so, how? Do you benefit from being European when selling higher end properties? Fredrik Eklund: Swedish people are very loyal and honest, almost gullible. I see that as a good thing. I come from a good place, the country and my family, and now I am far away by myself in NYC. I want you to be in a good place too, you know? I don’t have a hidden agenda, my agenda is clear: to get the lowest price when representing a buyer and the highest when representing a seller. I don’t view myself as classier than anyone else, in fact when I grew up in the suburbs in Sweden we had no money, and I have never been given money. The only advantage being Swedish has given me, is perhaps just that, to NOT be driven by money, because in Sweden (to generalize a bit) money doesn’t matter. It’s a socialist country and family and nature comes first. I have never been driven by money, but by the contrasts in my life and to be the best that I can be. And be that while high-kicking unexpectedly. How do you deal with sellers who simply aren’t realistic with the value of their property? Fredrik Eklund: In episode two of Million Dollar Listing NY, I walk away from a seller who is unrealistic. At this stage in my career I say what I think and know, and if a client doesn’t listen I walk away. I respect each seller, it is their property, not mine, and they have the full right of their opinion. But I don’t need more listings (I have 123 between NYC and Sweden currently) to prove something, what I need is happy clients who know that I made a difference in their life. And hopefully becoming their friend on the way. Fredrik, thank you for your time. You’ve been a delight, and one of the most responsive and open interviews we’ve ever had.
7 Tools to Facilitate Social Media Marketing for Realtors® By marcela de vivo
ost Realtors® don't have the time or expertise to delve into the world of social media marketing. Tweet what? What do you mean, pin it? Realtors® spend most of their time out in the field showing properties, or submerged in the mountain of paperwork involved with selling properties. What they don't realize is that successful Realtors® are utilizing social media marketing to gain listings and sell real estate. They are building their identity online, gaining followers, and building amazing referral lists thanks to the world of social media. In this article you will learn how to utilize 7 tools to help streamline your social media marketing efforts. Creating content and building your name on all of the main social media platforms can be extremely time consuming. The tools below will help maximize your time spent on your computer or smart phone delving into social media.
RealBird The first tool you can use in conjunction with your Facebook account is called RealBird. This tool helps you to make more creative business pages that will attract buyers and sellers. It is an online social media platform specifically designed for real estate agents. It allows you to list homes for sale so that other people can see homes you have listed on Facebook. This is where a lot of real estate agents start doing social media marketing – and some are so successful with Facebook that it's the only advertising they do.
TweetLister Another great tool that you can use with twitter is called TweetLister. It helps you to list properties quickly TheNicheReport.com
and easily on Twitter. It works great when you have a large following. On Twitter it is easy to become an expert or guru on something. By getting a lot of followers, you can exert your influence and make more sales. For instance, if you become an expert in teaching people how to sell their home ‘For sale by owner’, they may eventually decide that they want to list it with you. Twitter gives you an opportunity to slowly build a following through short tips and tweets.
Follr The third tool that you can use is called Follr.com. This tool allows you to create an online business card, making it easy to stay in touch with people. Also you can set it up pretty quickly and link it to your other online media profiles. It is also a good way to keep your profiles indexed in the search engines.
LinkedIn The fourth tool that you should use to grow your real estate business is LinkedIn. This is great because it attracts business professionals. These are the types of people that typically have money to buy a home. Not only that – by letting everyone in your network know that you are a licensed real estate agent, a lot of them will choose you to represent them when they need to buy or sell a home. LinkedIn also allows you to send e-mails to people you know, and it is a great way to solicit business or offer your services.
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Pinterest One of the newest tools that you can use is called Pinterest. This service allows you to pin pictures up on your board. People who follow you will be able to see your pictures, and follow a link from your pictures back to your website. Not only is it a great way to get traffic, but it is also a great way to generate links organically to your website. When you pin pictures of a house you have for sale, your followers can immediately see the photos, and they can pin the photos too and share them with their followers.
SocialOomph This tool allows you to spend some time in the office writing a lot of micro-content to be shared through your social media channels. Then, instead of manually posting the content, you upload it to SocialOomph and schedule it to be uploaded over the following days or weeks. So instead of having to research and write content every day, you spend a concentrated period producing content and it will be slowly disseminated through your social channels.
Houzz The seventh tool Realtors® can use to facilitate social media marketing is Houzz. Basically, this website contains one of the largest collections of interior design and decorating ideas on the Internet. It is a great place to post photos if you are listing houses that have very inspiring interior designs. It can be overwhelming to think of all the possibilities available to Realtors® through social media marketing. If you take advantage of these opportunities, you will be ahead of your competitors and can take leaps towards establishing your name and prominence in your community. Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. She writes about Finance, Real Estate, and Social Media Marketing - www.marceladevivo.com
How to Attract the Best Tenants Pre-Screening tips that can save you from disaster
By jennifer chan
ow great would it be if tenants came to you prescreened, so you only had to pick from a pool of the best renters? Unfortunately, you need to do the dirty work yourself, but there are ways to make the job easier. By letting renters know your requirements before they even contact you, you’ll help to naturally narrow down your pool of renters, leaving you only the most qualified. While this strategy isn’t fool-proof, it will raise red flags to renters who don’t meet your qualifications so they won’t waste their time working with you. Require the following items from renters early on to help you single out the best tenants: Charge an application fee. Renters who aren’t serious about your unit won’t reach into their wallets to pay an application fee. Make sure your listing provides clear pictures or schedule a showing beforehand so tenants know what they’re applying for. This will help you weed out renters who aren’t serious, or disqualify renters who give you a bounced check. Check references. By letting renters know that you check their records, you’ll attract interested applicants with clean records and quality references. Renters who have an unsavory criminal or employment background will search for rentals units that don’t require such a thorough
background check. Pull credit reports. Notifying renters that you’ll pull their credit report upon application will help you turn away renters with bad financial history. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t rent to those with bad credit, but if it’s a major concern for you and you want to safeguard against riskier tenants, it’s perfectly acceptable to select the tenants with the best credit scores. Talk to their previous landlord. A current landlord may say good things about a bad tenant just to get them out of there. The landlord before that will be much more honest with you. Request this information from the applicant as part of your background check. Be clear about the terms. Let the potential applicant know about the details in the lease, your fee structure, any extra amenity fees, and the late fees for rent when you speak with them. Tell renters what is expected of them before they apply so they know if your property is within their budget.
Jennifer Chan is the Marketing Coordinator at RentJuice and manager of the RentJuice blog, The Rental Standard. RentJuice makes easy-to-use software that allows rental professionals to manage the entire leasing process, from getting listings to closing deals, in one place. TheNicheReport.com
Often Overlooked Due Diligence By mike morrison
ue Diligence is near and dear to my heart. In a nutshell, due diligence is 70% of an agent/brokers/investor’s job. Some are good, but most I run across are really bad at performing due diligence for their clients. We as agents owe our clients the "F" word – the Fiduciary duty to protect our client in a transaction. At the heart of due diligence is asking for information to provide a clear picture of the transaction. In my opinion, it's not unreasonable to ask for information no matter who you represent. If providing relevant information regarding the transaction is a problem for either party (Buyer/Seller), then it's time to re-evaluate your position. As an aside, due diligence is more important for the Buyer/Seller who is not represented by an agent or advisor. To my point, I am currently representing a Seller of multiple income-producing properties. Since there are multiple buildings, the transaction becomes a Commercial one. Please note, this concept of due diligence bleeds over into all realms of real estate transactions. I have three – that's correct, three pages of documents 26
and information requests. This list fits Buyer or Seller, Commercial Sale or Lease, Residential Sale or Lease. Before I accept a listing, I request all the documents that are germane to the type of listing. This accomplishes two objectives – a clear picture of the deal and speed of the deal flow. Here are some overlooked questions to add to your list, whether Commercial or Residential Income-Producing Sale/ Purchase: Is the property under third-party management? If so, do you have a management contract in place? Please provide a copy of the management contract. Why is this important to a buyer? I have seen management contracts that survive a sale. I may not want to be compelled to use XYZ Management Company. Key – this point may be a contingency written into the purchase contract. No surprises after closing. What type of lease document do you use when you lease a property? I want to inspect the document. You need to know what you are committed to after the purchase of the property. Any free rent? Any repair deductibles? Promised future repairs during the lease terms? I take this further and request an Estoppel Certificate from each tenant. Black's Law Dictionary provides a good description of an Estoppel Certificate. Key – it can affect
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cash flow. Do you have any tenants that are month-to-month? If yes, why? Has their rent increased after the lease expired? If no, why? How long have they been tenants? Is it possible to get them to sign a new lease? Key – again this can affect cash flow.
Physical Inventory of Fixtures, Equipment and Furniture If you want a simple way to check the validity of Income Numbers, request the last twelve months' bank deposits. If the Seller balks, see this as a RED FLAG. While on the subject, I personally place no stock in PROFORMA Numbers. Try and get a bank to lend you money on proforma numbers. They've been down that road. Besides, we’ve all seen where “Real Estate Always Appreciates” got us. Proforma = Throwing Darts at the Wall. I want Real Numbers. I need to be able to figure the upside or downside to a property. If you don't have them, then you should pass. If the property has employees, request a Payroll Register: employee names, positions, pay rates, benefits. Key – cash flow. Request all service and advertising contracts. Trash,
HVAC, etc… Key – cash flow. Request a copy of the property insurance policy. For all you know the property is under-insured. Your expenses just rose. Key – cash flow. To summarize, these are just a few of the important questions a buyer should ask. I see them missed at every turn. Some of these questions are real deal breakers. As a buyer you have every right to ask for this information. Heck, you're the one taking the risk. If the Seller balks at any of these requests you should walk away. There is never a good reason to withhold information in a transaction. Hence, we have the Greater Fool Theory. There is always a fool who will purchase blind or overpay for a property. Sellers, think how much faster the transaction will go if you have this information ready to go for a solid buyer. I want to see all of the deal, warts and all. Buying & Selling Income Property is all about CASH FLOW. Mike Morrison, CNE, Will & Will Real Estate, in The Woodlands, TX, specializes in small multi-family property sales & purchase. He works mainly with investors. For comments or questions, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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10 Easy Steps for Getting Started With Bank-Owned Properties By Don Chambers
procrastinated for several years before finally buying an investment property; now I have 13 rental houses. In the last month I have begun moving into flipping, and documenting the steps and results on my blog. I now have two houses under contract that I intend to flip, and I am learning a lot as I go. However, I do know how to buy bank-owned properties, and rent them out for a profit. There is no need to procrastinate â€“ just get out there and do it. This article will explain how to get started by buying bank-owned properties and renting them out. Why Rentals? Rentals may not be the best way to go, but they do provide a safety net. If this is your first investment house you should be able to get a 30-year fixed mortgage at a low rate. This should help ensure that you will have positive cash flow, even if you end up spending more than you should have. Do not rely on this crutch, but it is a good safety net.
10 Steps to Getting into Real Estate Investment 1. Determine your rent range. In my area, rentals around $800 seem to rent faster. Over $1,000, the pool of tenants is too small; below $600, the house is usually in a terrible area. You want to spend no more than 60 times rent, so about $48,000 will be the max you will spend to purchase and rehab (numbers in your area may vary). 2. Get pre-approved for a conventional 30-year fixed mortgage. After doing the rehab with a commercial construction loan, you will refinance to this long-term loan. This will make the construction loan lender more likely to loan to you. Get approved for a little more than the maximum value you calculated in step 1. 3. Find several houses. I use a site called Equator that has real bank-owned properties listed. You can also find good deals at the HUD HomeStore. Find houses priced less than 145% of your upper limit. If your upper limit is $50k, stick to houses at $70k and under. 4. Make offers on several houses; I usually try about six at a time. Offer low, about half of the listing price. The TheNicheReport.com
contract will say that your earnest money is available when a deal is reached. Most offers will be ignored. Sometimes you feel silly making these low offers (good). I work with a single agent that understands my approach and does not mind these offers. Some agents will hate it; just find the right one. 5. When you get a counteroffer, you know the seller is ready to deal. Only then do you need to go see the house and make a rough repair estimate. Just count the big things like roof, AC, carpet, and paint, then add some cushion for unknowns. Use this repair estimate to calculate the maximum you will spend on the house and do not go over it. 6. Counter their counter. In most cases, their counteroffer is only a small discount, so only move up a little – maybe $2k. If you found the repairs are too high you can just drop the deal here since they countered (they always counter with these offers). 7. When negotiating, you want to respond to their counters fast – in a few hours. They will be slow and take days to respond. Move up a little at a time and do not go over your limit. Don't be afraid to have several deals in negotiation at the same time. Getting too many deals is a good problem. Keep the value of the house in mind, but this
is mainly a cash-flow deal. You want to spend less than 80% of the value, and 60 times rent is usually cheap enough. Do not pay too much for the house. 8. When you reach a deal, make a detailed repair estimate then add some cushion to the numbers. 9. Start approaching local lenders. Explain your plan and show the pre-approval letter from step 2. Let them know that after the rehab you will refinance the house and their exposure is over. 10. Close the deal and do the rehab. Then stick a forrent sign out and wait for a tenant. If you price the rent properly, you should have it rented in a few weeks. It is a little more complicated than this. Doing the rehab and finding the tenant takes some experience, but that is beyond the topic of this article. The main point is to start moving forward – then momentum will complete the deal. Once you have done your first deal, the rest get easier. Don Chambers is a successful real estate investor in Warner Robins, GA. Follow along with his blog [ http:// realestateadventurer.com ] to learn how to invest in real estate. If you want to invest in real estate in the middle Georgia area, you can join his wholesale buyers list.
How we see it
Acquiring Distressed Property in a 1031 Tax-Deferred Exchange By Cris Anderson
eal estate investors are purchasing properties at steep discounts by utilizing techniques such as short sales, courthouse step sales, and purchasing bank-owned properties (REO). While these approaches can often provide excellent buying opportunities, buyers who engage in 1031 tax-deferred exchanges must pay extra attention to the details of their particular acquisition, as each of these approaches can present difficulties in completing a successful 1031 exchange. The important point to realize is that each of these approaches has unique issues that must be understood and addressed early on. Some of the problems include:
slight modification to their "procedure" to effectuate a technically valid 1031 exchange. 3) In the case of courthouse step purchases, advanced planning is necessary, as cashier's checks must accompany the winning bid at the time of the purchase. You will not know what the final winning bid figure will be, therefore it is prudent to have multiple cashier's checks in appropriate increments ready. Of course, all cashier's checks must be immediately returned to the qualified intermediary if you are not the winning bidder.
1) Problems meeting the 180-day exchange period deadline due to inability to control the closing of the purchase. This is a common problem, particularly with short sales. Prudent exchangers will minimize this risk by taking full advantage of the 45-day identification rules. In short, you are on the seller's time schedule, not on yours.
Many of these problems can be overcome with advanced planning and creative structuring. In many cases, the use of an Exchange Accommodation Titleholder (EAT) can allow for creative techniques such as using exchange proceeds for capital improvements after the replacement property has been acquired, and acquiring multiple properties before or after the relinquished property has been closed.
2) These transactions often have rigid structures. As such, you may have difficulty complying with 1031-specific requirements, including contract assignability and deeding flexibility. Often, sellers in these situations are not willing to respect the need for
Cris Anderson, Esq. is the Northwest Division Manager of Asset Preservation, Inc., and may be reached at (877) 9091031 or email@example.com should readers have additional questions. TheNicheReport.com
The Real Power of Facebook It’s all about what you share in today’s social networks
By rick grant
hen historians look back at the early days of social media, Facebook will certainly emerge as one of the early success stories. By making it possible for people to share through an online interface the kinds of information they might have shared only in person, Zuckerberg and his team created a new paradigm for interaction and fulfilled one of the earliest promises of the Internet. The results speak for themselves. With over half a billion users worldwide, the Facebook phenomenon impacts all of us – and our businesses. While Facebook is a very powerful tool because it provides access to such potentially huge networks of willing connections, the real power only reveals itself when the right information is shared across these network connections. I’m sure that by now, early in 2012, every real estate agent on the planet has a personal Facebook page and probably one for the company as well, if the brokerage 32
doesn’t already maintain it. These social media properties are filled up with family, friends, business associates, past customers – anyone who could possibly refer a new buyer or seller to the agent. The vast majority of these Facebook connections will not make that referral. Why? Because there is nothing on these pages that makes them want to do it. A real estate agent, like a banker, lawyer or accountant, is an advisor. The value of the service may culminate in the sale of real estate, but it’s all the little things that led to that transaction that really separate the winning agents from the also-rans. For most buyers and sellers, the real value an agent brings is in the information she shares. If people don’t have very good reason to believe that the information an agent will bring to the table will benefit their family, friends and neighbors, that are unlikely to make the referral. Fortunately, a savvy agent can use Facebook to illustrate the kinds of information they bring to the real estate sales transaction, and then promote the page to grow a network that can then be tapped for new leads and listings. This may seem intuitive, but a quick survey of real estate-related sites around the web will indicate that there is
still great opportunity for agents to differentiate themselves here.
What people really want to know A good real estate agent has heard every possible question a home buyer or seller can ask. The best agents have heard them so often that they can practically answer them in their sleep. When the answers flow that readily, it can be easy to assume that the information is of low value, but that is hardly the case. The information that many agents take for granted is exactly what home buyers need to move forward and home sellers need to position their properties for a quick sale. A good Facebook page will make it clear to a prospect that the agent is a bona fide expert in the local market. It will make it obvious that the agent knows the source of the kinds of information both buyers and sellers need to come together for mutually beneficial transactions. This includes information about the economic conditions, both locally and nationally; the various local communities and their amenities; and the real estate transaction and the agent. It’s critical that agents not forget that final element. In the end, a seller will not list with an agent he does not believe can get the home sold. Providing sufficient background information on yourself is a critical component. We’ll talk about this in some detail as there are different views as to how much personal information the agent should share on Facebook. Sellers typically want to know how much their home is worth, how quickly they can sell it and specifics of the transaction. Buyers want to find a home that matches their dreams, fits their budget and is situated in the perfect neighborhood. More often than not, buyers are also interested in financing. Knowing this, we could just post our typical answers to the questions we get and then respond to specifics when the
prospect gets in touch. Unfortunately, if we do that, they won’t get in touch. The longer those generic answers stay on the page, the older they get and the less likely they are to convert a visitor into a hot prospect. So if we’re not supposed to answer the questions, what are we supposed to do? The point of the Facebook page isn’t to provide all the information you would to someone you are working with. The point is to demonstrate that you can provide all of that information. Instead of telling visitors to your page everything you know about a certain community, post one thing you know about it. Maybe a local township passed a new ordinance. Maybe a town in your area is having a carnival or block party. You share bits of information through frequent posts that mark you as an insider. This requires the agent to stop thinking of a Facebook page as a brochure for their business, and start thinking of it as an online newspaper for prospects and past customers. This is a huge distinction that, once understood, explains why the vast majority of real estate Facebook pages are lifeless equivalents of abandoned Roadside America tourist traps left behind when the new Information Superhighway went through.
The information that makes you trustworthy Getting this kind of information is pretty easy for most agents. They read the local papers, belong to local civic organizations, go to church and have kids in the schools. It’s easy to share bits of information that make their local area look like the kind of place where people would want to live. But that’s not the only kind of information Facebook visitors are looking for. The most important information you will ever share with anyone you do business with is the reason you are the only agent they want to engage. People do business with people. It’s a rule we must never forget. But why should
they do business with you? There probably isn’t a single answer to that (unless you’ve personally sold so much real estate that properties fly to the closing table when they see you coming). There are probably a lot of little reasons that you are the right agent. Some of these will ring true for a core group of buyers and sellers and these are the people who will seek you out. So what types of information give us the many little reasons that people want to do business with you? This is where we get into the debate about how much of your Facebook page should be personal. Some of this must be worked out with your broker, as many companies are now beginning to adopt social media standards that they expect to be followed by all agents working in the company. If you are not bound by such standards, consider this: People believe you are competent when they know that you know your business. But for many people, competence is merely table stakes. In fact, the state of California argues that choosing the right real estate agent is a matter of personal protection, offering all kinds of advice about how to know if you can trust an agent. And that’s really what it comes down to: trust.
What should you know about someone before you can trust them? It’s no longer about what the agents know, it’s about what they do. You can talk about successful transactions. People understand what that means and what it could mean to them, but they have no frame of reference for all the work you do that leads up to that result. That leaves you talking about things you do on your own time. This is where it gets personal. For my money, I want to know what a person does when they’re not at work. It tells me something about them and might give me an additional frame of reference to determine whether I think they’re trustworthy. Those that value their privacy highly disagree with me, for obvious reasons. I think if you’re going to get people to trust you, you’re going to have to give them more information about who you are. Actually, it’s even better if you get someone else to do it for you. Getting people you know to tell their success stories on your Facebook page is one of the very best ways to demonstrate that you are a trustworthy agent with a high level of competence. Whether you do it yourself or get someone else to share their stories about you, it’s imperative that you use your Facebook page to open the door to connections with visitors by demonstrating you are trustworthy.
Becoming the place customers search first Once you have begun providing the information your prospects are looking for in a manner that makes your page seem more like an online publication than a static brochure, and you have built in enough content to prove you are competent and trustworthy, the only thing that remains is promoting the site. It cannot help you if no one visits it. Posting frequently using important keywords is the best way to make sure that your page gets found. I recommend that you post at least once a week, but three to five times is better. Short posts that direct your prospects to the information they are looking for is perfect. There are many ways to fully leverage a good Facebook page, but they all involve sharing the right information with the visitors you attract. That’s the real power of Facebook. Rick Grant is a freelance writer and editor with over 15 years of experience writing about real estate and home finance industries. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at @nyrickgrant.
Legal Abuse Syndrome and Foreclosure Fraud By brian mahany
ntil a client sent us a clipping today, I had never heard the term “Legal Abuse Syndrome.” If you look in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, you won’t find the term. Not Yet. The DSM is the official “blue book” used by mental health professionals. Whereas many of the CEOs of major banks and lenders probably qualify as sociopaths, we now have a title for those suffering from their heavy-handed tactics. Dr. Karin Huffer even wrote a book about the disorder entitled, Overcoming the Devastation of Legal Abuse Syndrome. Although I have yet to read her book, I certainly will. In fact, it probably should become required reading for judges and lawyers involved in foreclosure cases. Here is what Dr. Huffer writes: ”If you are deeply disillusioned and feeling oppressed as an American citizen, resulting from experience with our justice system, you may be suffering from Legal Abuse
Syndrome. If you’ve been a litigant in court and justice was not to be obtained at any price, you may be suffering from Legal Abuse Syndrome. If you fantasize about an act of vigilante vengeance because it seems like the only resource, you may be suffering from Legal Abuse Syndrome. If you feel numb, disconnected, and vulnerable, you may be suffering from Legal Abuse Syndrome. If you feel that the “system” will defeat you at every turn and there is nothing you can do about it, you may be suffering from Legal Abuse Syndrome.” Sadly, we have seen several foreclosure victims that do exhibit these symptoms. Homeowners who have been battling big banks for 4 and 5 years, always in fear of losing their home. Homeowners who didn’t miss a payment but are in foreclosure because the lender says it didn’t receive their payment. Homeowners who improperly had the locks TheNicheReport.com
changed on their home only to be told a day later that they could return. One lawyer wrote in her book, “Competent, confident, outgoing entrepreneurs are reduced to ‘shellshocked’ paranoia, unable to make the most basic decisions. Polite, law-abiding individuals are transformed into raging extremists, after being lulled unsuspectingly in many cases into believing that they will emerge from bankruptcy able to pick up the pieces with a fresh start.” While the book is not limited to foreclosure cases, those who worry daily about where they will live and who get put on hold for hours or told for the 42nd time that their loan modification paperwork was not received are especially prone to suffering from this type of disorder. Foreclosure victims ride an emotional roller coaster, often facing conflicting information and seemingly impossible hurdles to keep their homes. As we have previously noted, some homeowners sadly resort to suicide. Dr. Heffer claims that Legal Abuse Syndrome is related to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. We believe her, and see it daily. Unfortunately many victims and homeowners feel powerless and give up, but homeowners can prevail against big banks.
About the author. Brian Mahany is a partner at Mahany & Ertl, a boutique law firm with several offices throughout the country. His firm concentrates on suing large lenders and banks on behalf of homeowners and foreclosure victims. Brian welcomes questions or comments. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.
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Hunting for Office Space Four things not to forget
By jared diamond
rying to find the right office space is less about ego and more about the bottom line. Granted, it is tempting to think of large executive suites with walls lined with rich mahogany as the place where the company will do business. However, the work area is more than just appearance. There are some very serious considerations that have to be part of the process in order to keep future office related costs affordable. Here are the most important ones: 1. Evaluate The Need. Too much space is worse than none at all. Empty areas in an office are unproductive and also expensive because all the space incurs maintenance costs. Moreover, any rent is based on square feet whether it is used or not. Evaluating the need includes determining how many enclosed offices are needed and whether or not cubicles will be important. Will computer units be used? If so, does the area have the means to conveniently connect PCs to power outlets? The same can be said about telephones and any other equipment that needs an independent power source. 2. Location. Location, location, location, is an old real estate adage is extremely important in the quest for
the ideal office space. There are reasons why the rent is so low for certain office spaces, and that's not necessarily good. The low rent may be because of high crime or low traffic in the vicinity. A successful business has to be close to the target market and where there is easy access to transportation routes (e. g. close to the freeway or the local airport, etc.). Scouting neighborhood before approaching the landlord is a smart idea, if for no other reason than to develop questions about the area and the advantages for doing business there. 3. Defining the Lease. It may seem crazy, but a number of people don't read what they sign. Thatâ€™s dangerous when it comes to an office lease. Deep in the clauses and subsections of a commercial lease are costs and responsibilities which will be borne by the tenant. Anyone wishing to lease commercial space must read the lease carefully and not hesitate to ask questions. For example, a triple net lease will require the tenant to pay not only the rent, but taxes, insurance, and maintenance as well. Another form of lease, the gross lease, has the tenant paying only the rent and the landlord takes care of everything else. Determining what the true cost of office space includes variables such as what conveniences TheNicheReport.com
are offered by the landlord. This includes the amount of free parking allowed, restroom facilities, and security. Does the lease require that such services be paid for, or does the landlord offer them free of charge? If the rent is based on square feet, how is it determined by the landlord (hint: some landlords will measure square feet from outside of the exterior walls, making the tenant pay for the thickness of the walls)? All fees and extra costs need to be defined before signing the lease. 4. Avoiding the Common Mistakes. These are important to know so they can be avoided. The most common mistakes; not assessing the need, not reading the lease, and not evaluating location, have already been mentioned. There are few others as well. The most common and probably the most serious error is acting in haste. An office space finding project must start long before the actual move. Any business waiting until the previous lease expires to seek new accommodations can be at the mercy of the moment. A company will sometimes try to search without the services of a broker, and that is not advised. A tenant broker has experience in these matters and can help his or her client get exactly what is needed at an affordable
price. Any search for office space without the use of such a professional can conceivably end up with rents higher than they need to be. One final mistake that is very common is to grab at the cheapest available space. Remember, there are often reasons why the stated rent is so low and not all of those reasons are good. Of course, even what looks to be a potential pit fall can have an advantage. The landlord obviously stands to gain income in a triple net lease, but at the same time the tenant gets many ownership perks without having to pay a large purchase price. Much depends on the needs and circumstances of the aspiring business tenant. The important virtue to have in office hunting is caution, and the best tactic is to use an experienced broker. With the right combination of caveat emptor and expert advice, the search for office space can result in exactly what the company needs. Jared Diamond, of WebiFusion PR Solutions writes on numerous topics ranging from real estate tips to business marketing advice. This article was written in collaboration with the expertise of Cleveland Real Estate firm Chelm Properties.
How to Build an Online Presence for Your Real Estate Business for $99 By marcela de vivo
here's a misconception among Realtors that establishing a successful web presence can range in the thousands of dollars. Where do you even start? How do you choose a designer? Can they deliver a functional, interactive website integrated with your MLS? Delving into this project can seem insurmountable and overwhelming. It doesn't have to be. With the advent of the social internet there are myriad inexpensive or free tools available that empower individuals to establish a professional web presence inexpensively.
Set up your profile on Realtor.com Start by setting up your profile on Realtor.com so you can immediately tap into one of Real Estate's largest websites. Once you've created your Realtor.com profile you can then go to Facebook and create a business page. Connect this Facebook page with your Realtor account to establish a local presence and create interaction with your users. Buy the Agent Press WordPress Theme The Agent Press WordPress theme by Genesis offers Realtors the ability to expand their business, initiating a professional, inviting website that draws visitors from anywhere, anytime. With a variety of features, including the ability to visit
you on social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter, visitors can quickly and easily get updates on homes that are for sale each day. Your custom-designed real estate website will have a professional appearance while being user friendly too. For $99, Agent Press offers you everything you need to get started, as well as the ability to upgrade as your business grows.
Go Forth and Socialize Now that you have a professional website with MLS and social media integration, a Facebook fan page, and a Realtor.com account, all you have to do is start using free networking tools. Create your Twitter account and start sharing Real Estate news and tips. Set up an account with Pinterest and start pinning and sharing beautiful homes. Chances are that potential buyers will want to know your taste in homes and will be looking for renovation ideas. Find other real estate blogs in other cities that are noncompetitive and write guest blogs to increase your search engine rankings and visibility. With just $99 and a whole bunch of socializing, you should be receiving many new leads and establishing yourself in your local real estate industry. Marcela De Vivo is an internet marketing consultant currently working with Process Sensors Corp and blogging at www.MarcelaDeVivo.com TheNicheReport.com
Service Provider Classifieds
Service Provider Classifieds broker opportunities EXIT Realty Corp. International 877-253-3948
EXIT’s technology incl its Digital Marketing Strategy & CRM/transaction mngt program TORC (coming soon) give agents the edge. MIND-SET offers the best interactive sales training. All this, plus single-level residuals & incredible corporate culture.
Home Inspection Pillar To Post Professional Home Inspection 877-294-5591
Pillar To Post is North America’s leading home inspection company, whose professional inspectors work with both the real estate community and the buyer or seller of a home to provide on-the-spot inspection reports.
Lenders Retail Mortgage Lender PrimeSource Mortgage 888-505-2274
A publicly traded, national retail mortgage lender, with a broad product offering of mortgage products for New Purchase, Refinance, Rehabs, ShortSales and a national staff to assist borrowers at all phases of their decision making process. A premier lender in the mortgage industry. Our goal is to provide borrowers with the best possible financing options available in today's mortgage lending environment. Visit us at www.primaryresidentialmortgage.com
Primary Residential Mortgage 800-255-2792
hard money/rehab Kennedy Funding 800-342-8500
MultiFamily Apartment Bank 877-442-4003
Specializing in nationwide fast, creative short-term bridge loans ranging in size from $1 million to more then $50 million. Loan commitments in 24 hours. Fast closings. Loans are available for note purchases, acquisitions, land development, construction, workouts, refinancing, bankruptcies and foreclosures.
Apartment Bank, a division of BofI Federal Bank (NASDAQ:BOFI), is a Nationwide Direct Portfolio Lender that has solidified its standing as a premier multifamily lender in the small balance lending space. Apartment Bank’s flexible approach is key to freeing borrowers and brokers from the typical headaches and hassles of small loan transactions. Loan amounts from $250,000 to $10,000,000. Visit http:// www.apartmentbank.com
Service Provider Classifieds
marketing & lead Gen Best Rate Referrals 800-811-1402 Cruise4Two 866-541-8077
Your marketing leader with many services available from Direct Mail & List Services, Telemarketing, Internet Leads, Mobile Marketing, and more. Cruise4Two provides 5-Day/4-Night ‘Cruise Vacation for Two’ certificates to brokers/realtors for incentivizing homeowners to buy or sell thru you! $159-$189. Free marketing materials. Call: 866-541-8077 or visit www.Cruise4Two.com.
In Touch Today 800-433-3755
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Right Side Marketing 800-456-4395
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Titan List & Mailing Services, Inc. 800-544-8060
Over 12 years of experience catering exclusively for the industry delivering consistent results from our turn-key campaigns. Our Pre-screened data, 24 hour turn around and custom pieces design continue to lead the industry for marketing efforts.
Technology a la mode
Websites and marketing tools for real estate professionals.
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Smarter Agent, LLC 888-486-7319
Smarter Agent is your one stop for a full suite of customized broker and agent mobile solutions. Get your own branded version of the Smarter Agent app to easily distribute to your clients, with all calls and emails going to you. Own your Own Leads!
title work & insurance Entitle Direct 877-936-8485 or 877-9ENTITLE
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Marsh U.S. Consumer, a service of Seabury & Smith, Inc.
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LENDER AND RESOURCE DIRECTORY
Apartment Bank Apartment Bank, a division of BofI Federal Bank (NASDAQ:BOFI), is a Nationwide Direct Portfolio Lender that has solidified its standing as a premier multifamily lender in the small balance lending space. www.apartmentbank.com 877-442-4003 apartmentcustomerservice@ apartmentbank.com
a la mode Websites and marketing tools for real estate professionals. www.alamode.com 1-800-ALAMODE firstname.lastname@example.org
Entitle Direct Savings up to 35% or more on title insurance in 30 states. www.EntitleDirect.com/mortgage 877-936-8485 or 877-9ENTITLE SpecialistCenter@EntitleDirect.com Best Rate Referrals Mortgage Marketing Professionals. www.bestratereferrals.com Raymond Bartreau 800-811-1402 email@example.com
Cruise4Two - Cruise Incentives Provides 5-Day/4-Night â€˜Cruise Vacation for Twoâ€™ certificates to brokers/realtors for incentivizing homeowners to buy or sell thru you! $159-$189. www.Cruise4Two.com Shawn@Cruise4Two.com 866-541-8077 42
EXIT Realty Corp. International EXIT Realty is Real Estate Re-Invented! www.exitrealty.com Tami Bonnell 877-253-3948 firstname.lastname@example.org
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LENDER AND RESOURCE DIRECTORY
Kennedy Funding Nationwide. Fast creative short-term bridge loans. $1 million-$50 million +. Commitments in 24 hrs. www.kennedyfunding.com Edwin Urrego 800-342-8500 firstname.lastname@example.org
Pillar To Post Professional Home Inspection Leading home inspection company, whose professional inspectors work with both the real estate community and the buyer or seller of a home to provide on-the-spot inspection reports. www.pillartopost.com Jay Gregg, Director of Marketing 416-620-3567 email@example.com
PrimeSource Mortgage Publically Traded Retail Mortgage Lender. www.WeWalkYouHome.Com Jeff Smith 888-505-2274 firstname.lastname@example.org
Primary Residential Mortgage We offer strength, trust, and integrity you can rely on. www.primaryresidentialmortgage.com 800-255-2792
Marsh U.S. Consumer, a service of Seabury & Smith, Inc. The nationâ€™s leading broker and administrator of insurance programs. www.realproeando.com 866-795-9613 email@example.com
Right Side Marketing Marketing Materials for Real Estate and Mortgage Professionals. www.rightsidemarketing.com Jill Fleischman 800-456-4395 x10 firstname.lastname@example.org
Smarter Agent, LLC Smarter Agent Mobile Real Estate Application Platform. www.smarteragent.com 888-486-7319 email@example.com
Titan List & Mailing Services, Inc. Data Provider, Printing Service & Dirct Mail House. www.Titanlists.Com 800-544-8060 Titanlms@Bellsouth.Net TheNicheReport.com
BRINGING UP THE REAR - continued from page 46
delay the same even two days for the funds to arrive. The couple had bought their home in 2000, with the 30 percent down payment they had saved over 20 years. Two days before the couple were to be evicted at dawn, the husband, after staying up all night trying to get an older motorhome to run so they would have somewhere to go, failed to get the engine to start. He went into their bedroom, placed a blanket over his head to contain the mess, and shot himself in the head. And Wells Fargo’s response? The bank agreed to delay the eviction for two weeks… two weeks. Like, if I had a renter who was unable to pay their rent and then this happened, I cannot imagine saying, okay... take another two weeks. I mean, oh my God. Would a month or two have killed Wells Fargo? Or, 90 days even? No, two weeks and you'll be locked out. I can’t even tell you how it saddens me that there are people in this
How we see it
country with such an appalling lack of compassion for others. What has happened to us? Wells Fargo Bank is being sued by just about everyone over just about everything. Just Google “Wells Fargo Bank sued,” and you’ll find 412,000 results in .21 seconds. I know, quite a few are no doubt duplicates, but so what? Homeowners are suing them for literally ruining their lives through fraudulent acts that would make your hair stand straight up. Investors are suing them for various frauds, as are insurance companies. AARP is suing Wells over reverse mortgages. Even the federal government is going after Wells for a few billion here and a few billion there. And, in case you hadn’t heard, Wells Fargo was even caught laundering drug money for a Mexican drug cartel. The only thing at Wells Fargo Bank that hasn’t been involved in a scam of some kind are those little pens at the teller windows with the chains on the ends. Remember when robo-signing hit the headlines in September of 2010. Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, GMAC… they all voluntarily stopped foreclosing in order to conduct internal investigations into the allegations It really is quite awe inspiring. I mean, even organized crime families have some aspect of their business that’s not entirely illegal and abusive, right? Like maybe they own a restaurant or control the docks or the garbage trucks. But, Wells Fargo seems to have the evil market totally cornered. I’m not a great speller, so maybe you can help me. Eleven down… how many “Wells” are there in “predatory dirt bag.” So, now I come across Wells Fargo being a good corporate citizen. Want to know what they did? They donated $22,000 to establish a suicide prevention hotline in Idaho, which apparently is the state with the fourth highest suicide rate in the country. Here’s what it said in the story I found… Wells Fargo stepped up Tuesday with a $22,000 gift to help establish an Idaho Suicide Prevention hotline. “Wells Fargo is pleased to invest in this important community initiative to address a critical need in our state,” said Dana Reddington, Idaho Region president for the banking firm. So, Wells Fargo “stepped up” with a $22,000 “gift.” Is that how that should ideally be phrased? I suppose it’s fine. But, having spent the last few days writing and talking about Norm Rousseau, the homeowner who recently shot himself two days before Wells Fargo was to have him and
BRINGING UP THE REAR his wife evicted after a protracted battle with… no, not cancer… much worse. You know, we can in many cases, cure many kinds of cancer. Norm’s protracted battle was with Wells Fargo, and no one has even come close to finding a cure for them. So, one Sunday morning, he lost the will to continue the fight. Look, I only spoke with Norm once for about an hour, so I shouldn’t really speak for him, but I just wanted to say that I’m pretty sure that he would have gladly traded his battle with Wells for… maybe not pancreatic… but let’s say prostate cancer… for sure. I think so, anyway. In fact, I’d probably make the same trade at this point were I given the choice. I’m thinking that the cure rate for prostate cancer for a male in his 50s is much higher than the cure rate for a battle with Wells Fargo at any age. I don’t know… maybe I’m nuts… it’s not my core point here anyway, so just forget it. My point is that, having been married for 22 years now, I’ve noticed that these last few years I’ve started drifting towards buying my wife gifts that aren’t really just hers, but sort of ours… kind of. I’m not entirely certain, but it’s possible that one year for her birthday I may have bought her our new breakfast nook table and chairs set.
And it brought back a memory from my youth when my father bought my mother a yellow chair/stepstool so she could sit while washing dishes… for her birthday. She thanked him… let him live… and ordered a dishwasher from Sears the very next day. She never let him forget it though… that chair is probably still somewhere in the basement. Anyway, that’s why I understand Wells Fargo wanting to give a gift that establishes a suicide hotline… because it’s a gift that the bank can get some use out of too. After all, what else would you get for the bank that harms everyone? And just like my Mom… I’m not gong to let Wells forget what they’ve done. Did you follow all that? Wells… it made perfect sense to me.
Martin Andelman is a staff writer for The Niche Report. He also writes an almost daily column on ML-Implode called Mandelman Matters. He also publishes a Monthly Museletter and you can follow “Mandelman” on Twitter. Send your responses to Martin@TheNicheReport.com.
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BRINGING UP THE REAR
Bringing Up the rear Wells Fargo Bank, Part 2 BY MARTIN ANDELMAN
kay, so here are the facts: In the last few months, I’ve seen Wells Fargo Bank commit acts that so heinous, so unthinkably awful, so utterly despicable, that they defy explanation. First, as you may recall from last month, Judge Elizabeth Magner, a federal bankruptcy judge in the Eastern District of Louisiana, characterized Wells Fargo’s behavior as being “highly reprehensible.” Judge Magner ordered Wells Fargo to pay the New Orleans homeowner $3.1 million in punitive damages basically for stealing his house through a system programmed to illegally apply fees and charges before principal and interest. Wells Fargo Bank was caught preying on people in bankruptcy court… the people least likely to be able to protect themselves or turn to the courts for justice. It’s actually no different than an adult who goes around beating up 5 year olds. Next, I saw Wells Fargo Bank foreclose on a 73 year-
old widow’s home that she owned for 43 years all because she had underpaid a mortgage payment by $104.27. She didn’t find out that she had underpaid her payment by $104.27 until months after the fact, and by the time the bank told her… she was in default and Wells was refusing to accept her payments. The whole thing snowballed from there, and Wells Fargo ultimately foreclosed on her home, but at the end of the day none of it would have happened had the bank simply told her she owed $104.27, or had they accounted for her payment properly. And coming in third, but certainly not in terms of significance, I saw Wells Fargo lose a cashier’s check, misapply a payment, suggest a loan modification when the lost check turned into a delinquent mortgage, and then when the couple was declined for the modification, Wells gave them six days to reinstate their mortgage by paying the delinquent payments plus late fees and charges. The couple had saved the money and had more than enough to bring their loan current, but the money was in an IRA and took eight days to arrive, two days after Wells Fargo had sold their home at trustee’s sale, refusing to - continued on page 44
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