Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My New Year's Resolution: Stop Buying Houses!

Happy New Year!

The new year is always a good time to reflect on our lives, including our business life.  When I look back on 2014, I realize that sometimes I don't practice what I preach.

The investor/agents I coach all start with the same desire... to buy houses.  I have to tell them to stop!

But isn't that the business we are in?

Investors without their license are stuck in that mode.  Their only hope of making money is to buy the house (even if they end up assigning the contract).  So when a lead comes in, the investor focuses on gathering as much information as possible so they can make an appropriate offer.

But when the seller doesn't take the offer, they leave the appointment or phone call disappointed.  NO DEAL.

But as investors who are also agents, we have an advantage!  We don't HAVE to buy the house to make money.  We can buy it, list it, short it, owner fi it, wholesale it, rehab it, and on and on.  We can do ANYthing.  And when you can do anything with the property, you can drop the mentality of "buying houses".  No longer do you need to research deed records for equity.  No longer do you need to make an offer, then leave when its not accepted.

Your job is not to buy the house.  It is to SELL YOURSELF!  Sell yourself as the solution to the seller's problem.  The seller wants or needs to sell their home.  YOU can be the solution to that.

Once you stop going to property to buy a house, and instead start meeting sellers to sell yourself, making deals becomes infinitely easier.  No longer are you locked into a price that makes sense to you, but you can work with the seller to get a price that makes sense to a deal... any deal.

This is not an easy task.  And there are nuances and strategies and approaches to these kind of seller meetings that we will continue to discuss on this blog.  And you will soon learn how selling yourself instead of buying houses, often leads to buying more houses.

But alas, I am not perfect.  It is easy to get excited about that dilapidated home in the hot area and start imagining your next rehab project.  I am as guilty as the next person of not always practicing what I preach.

So my New Years Resolution is to remember one motto:  Stop Buying Houses!

To learn more, be sure to watch our videos online at  And follow this blog for more details and insight into how being both an investor and an agent allows you to BE the solution for sellers, and sell yourself.  AS a consequence, you WILL buy more houses.

For updates, like our facebook page!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Real Estate Has Been the Best Present of All

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Christmas can be a stressful time for many.  And for us, at StepStone Realty, it is no different.  It can be a struggle balancing our desire to work on our deals and our desire to spend time with family, especially our son who is home from college!

But as real estate investors and agents, we are truly blessed regardless of the stress involved in running a business and running around trying to get all those last-minute presents.

We are blessed because we have the freedom to decide when to work and when to spend time with our families.  We decide to worship, volunteer, shop, give, or work on that final closing of the year.  We love being our own boss.

And while Christmas, to us, is about God and Family (especially the kids!), Real Estate has been kind financially as well.  And let's face it.  Much of the stress associated with Christmas is about the financial burden all those presents can bring.

This year, we have not had to worry.  And I believe that is, in large part, due to our embracing of all sides of real estate... the creative AND the traditional.

Since Thanksgiving, we have closed two traditional listings (they weren't even short sales like most of our listings!).  Those have paid our bills, and for that, we are truly blessed.

But in addition to that, we closed one giant wholesale deal, and we closed a very nice flip!

Throughout the year, we have a saying... "The listings keep the lights on, the creative deals put us on vacation".  Well during the Holiday season, the "vacation" was shopping.  It was nice not to worry where that money was going to come from.

Real Estate Without Limits.  That has been the best present of them all.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Wearing Two Hats

My brokerage specializes in sponsoring Real Estate Agents who are also active Investors. This makes us unique.  Many people in the real estate field, whether agent or investor, think that you can't do both.

Many agents tell me they are nervous about becoming an investor and investors tell me they worry that getting their license will hinder their business. I'm here to tell them both otherwise.

Here at StepStone we all know the advantage of wearing two hats when it comes to real estate.

Why an Investor should put on an Agent Hat

I have many investor colleagues who are sure that getting their license is a bad idea and will inhibit their business. I say not only will it not inhibit your business but it will enhance what you are already doing and make you more money!

  • How many leads do you walk away from because the don't have enough equity or they just don't want to take a low investor offer? I bet a lot of times you don't even go to the property if the lead falls into one of these categories. If you can't buy it yourself then why not list it? You already have the skills and knowledge to help a homeowner sell their house so why not get paid on a lead instead of having another deal lead added to your bone pile. Listing these leads will help you recoup some of your marketing money so you can keep looking for the deals you really want!
  • In your marketing I know that you are getting calls for underwater sellers. These folks need a short sale. There was a time several years ago when short sales were great money making strategy for investors. However, as short sales became more common and after the sub-prime fall out this opportunity has dried up for investors as short sale lenders, title companies and buyer's lenders have put up road blocks to keep investors from flipping these sales. However, just like my point above, you do not have to walk away from this lead. List the short sale! At StepStone Realty, we have made this one of the easiest listings you can have because we do all the processing for you! Imagine all the commissions you could have made from all those underwater sellers.
  • As an investor with your real estate license you get to take advantage of all the tools that agents have access to. No more guesstimating an ARV based on Zillow or Redfin or relying on an agent for comps. With MLS access you can do as detailed a search as you would like. Sure, a market report will give you a broad picture of the value of the home but when it's your rehab dollars on the line wouldn't you like to dig a little more? Check out the photos, comments, market history, neighborhood trends?           
  • Also, before you start a rehab, how would you like to go preview the other sales in the neighborhood, keep up with trends and get a personal tour of your competition? That's much easier when you have your own handy-dandy Ekey! Not to mention, of course, access to contracts, forms, and other resources provided by Realtor organizations.
  • Finally, and really the reason I first got my license, you can list and buy your own properties. Talk about a money saving opportunity as well as having more control over your sales and purchases. Don't ever again have to rely on an agent to write up an offer for you when time is of the essence.

Why a Real Estate Agent should put on an Investor Hat

I've met plenty of Realtors who know investing is a good idea but yet they don't actively invest in real estate themselves and why not!
  • You already have all the tools and knowledge you need to get into real estate investing. Do you know how many investors would love to have access to the tools that an agent uses every day? You are already steps ahead of most investors with your access and knowledge of how to use the MLS and compare properties. I can't tell you how many times an investor has told me the “Zestimate” when I ask them the ARV (After Repaired Value) of a property. What an advantage you have to not have to rely on Zillow or Redfin to evaluate properties! Not only is the MLS a valuable tool but you also have a working knowledge of your market area, access to TAR contracts and forms, and that handy key that will let you preview properties before you buy or sell in a neighborhood!
  • Many times I've gone to meet a seller whose property I am interested in buying and have been told that the seller consulted a Realtor who gave them a laundry list of items to complete before the house can be listed. Often the seller doesn't have the money, means or time to make those repairs. Let's face it... there are just some houses that are in too poor shape to list. Instead of walking away from a listing you can help that homeowner by either purchasing the property or finding someone who will by wholesaling it. If you don't... rest assured they will be responding to my “I buy houses” marketing and it will be my pleasure to help them out of their problem.
  • A down market is always a struggle for a real estate agent. Fewer listings and fewer buyers means fewer closings! Guess what. A down market is the best time to be a real estate investor as that is when there are more distressed homeowners and more investor deals for the taking. By being flexible and having multiple income strategies you don't have to live in fear of the dreaded slow market.

While there are some additional disclosures you will need to make as an investor agent they should not inhibit your business as either a Realtor or an Investor. At StepStone Realty we strive to treat all of our customers and clients with respect and most importantly honesty. As a Realtor/Investor it is my goal to assist home sellers with their best option... sometimes that means wearing my investor hat and sometimes that means wearing my Realtor hat (always in that order!) Either way, my sellers are happy.

To learn more about StepStone Realty visit our webpage for prospective agents at and send us a message! We love to connect with fellow real estate professionals!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Be the Real Estate Turducken

Not everyone is a fan of turkey on Thanksgiving.  Some prefer the richness of duck, or the familiar of a chicken.  Thus, the "Turducken" was born.  A chicken, stuffed into a duck which is stuffed into a Turkey.

To be honest, I've never had one.  Turkey is just fine by me.  But this Thanksgiving, we have a variety of new friends and relatives joining us... including a vegetarian!  That has made us think of all the dishes we need.  Everyone wants to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner.  Variety is more important this Thanksgiving than ever before.

But serving variety is easy for us.  We do it every day.  I don't mean for dinner, I mean in Real Estate.  Real Estate Without Limits, our philosophy, is about recognizing that not everyone is ready, willing or able to "eat" the same solution.

But for us, that is no concern.  Because all of us at StepStone have embraced both the creative investor and traditional agent tools and tactics, we are armed with everything on the menu to satisfy every seller.  We are like the Real Estate Turducken!

When a seller has a house in disrepair they can't fix, we can buy it, fix it and flip it!  When a seller needs cash fast, we can wholesale it, or owner-finance it!  And when a seller is behind on payments and facing foreclosure, we can "short" it.  But when a seller just needs to sell, but doesn't have those pressures, we are more than happy to list it.

Our menu is full, and because of that, so is our pipeline!

When investors add listings to their tool-belt, they stop leaving money on the table.  When agents add creative real estate to their tool-belt, they find more deals.

Be the Turducken of Real Estate and you will know what it means to practice Real Estate Without Limits.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

What is Real Estate Without Limits?

Before the internet, cell phones, or the MLS, real estate was largely practiced in a central office full of agents sharing paper copies of listings.  Prospective buyers, with no place to find homes for sale other than by sitting with an agent and viewing the "Listing Book", happily drove to their local real estate office when they were ready to buy.

Times have changed, of course, but a large part of the real estate industry has not changed with it.  Married to this office culture, brokers still use large elaborate office space to conduct very traditional real estate business.

A new breed of real estate professionals has pushed back against this tired old way of doing real estate.  The unlicensed real estate investor has been at the forefront of adopting rapid fire responses driven by technology, and has met seller needs faster and better than traditional real estate offices.

Armed with creative tools for buying and selling houses, they have been able to capture income and market share.  Today 3% of Americans consider themselves real estate investors. 

Today real estate investors and their creative strategies for buying houses seem almost at war with the licensed agent practicing more traditional real estate.

The investor, though, is limited to helping property owners with equity, or willing to do a more creative sale, such as keeping their financing in place (also known as purchasing "sub to").

The traditional licensed agent is limited by only being able to represent the homeowner in a traditional sale,   but they far too often miss more lucrative opportunities to buy or wholesale and pass up on listings they consider too "ugly".

Real Estate without limits is the marriage of these two worlds into one powerful super professional.

Our philosophy is aimed at breaking down the old tired way of doing traditional real estate.  We want to release the professional from the big office and gold jackets.  Technology-driven and adaptive to the new creative techniques in real estate, we are encouraging the investor to get licensed and the licensed agent to become an investor.

By melding the two worlds, you have so much more to offer the homeowner, you always have a solution and can turn more leads into more money!

That truly is real estate without limits.