Saturday, November 7, 2015

Free Luncheon in Austin – The Impending Millennial Squeeze: How to Survive the Changing Real Estate Landscape

Real Estate Professionals! 

Join us for a Free luncheon  – Friday, November 13  – at the Austin Big Daddy’s, from 11:00 to 1:00 

Austin Big Daddy's
Crossroads Center at 183 and Burnet
9070 Research Blvd.  Suite 101
Austin, TX  78758

The Millennial Generation is already having an impact on the way agents work with buyers. 

Currently the largest group of buyers, Millennials -- the do-it-yourself generation -- are already squeezing agents with demands for fee-for-services.

Investors and Agents need to be ready for the next phase of the Millennials impact... when the biggest group of buyers becomes the biggest group of sellers.

Millennials are skeptical, tech-savvy, and used to instant gratification services.  Investors and Real Estate Agents need to position themselves to be at the forefront of this ever changing market or risk being left behind.
Come learn how taking a new, cutting-edge approach to real estate will allow you to continue to work with sellers as we witness this generational shift.... and do so while making more not less!

This talk is appropriate for Realtors and for Investors looking to stay on the forefront of this new Real Estate market.

Make more today and continue to grow your business despite these changes!

You will also learn why StepStone Realty is a brokerage tailored for investor-agents. No sales job, just information. 

And worst case, you get a free lunch, some great nuggets for how to deal with sellers, and some good networking with like-minded professionals. 

We hope to see you there. 

Spots are limited. To claim yours, and so we have an accurate head-count for food, please RSVP by 

-- emailing dan@stepstonetexas.com 
-- Texting Dan : 512-731-4541 
-- Filling out our form online: http://stepstonetexas.com/events.php 

To see more what we are about, visit StepStoneTexas.com 

We hope to see you Friday! 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Luncheon: The Millennial Impact on Real Estate Professionals

The Millennial Generation is already having an impact on the way agents work with buyers.  

Currently the largest group of buyers, Millennials -- the do-it-yourself generation -- are already squeezing agents with demands for fee-for-services.

Investors and Agents need to be ready for the next phase of the Millennials impact... when the biggest group of buyers becomes the biggest group of sellers.

Millennials are skeptical, tech-savvy, and used to instant gratification services.  Investors and Real Estate Agents need to position themselves to be at the forefront of this ever changing market or risk being left behind.

Come learn how taking a new, cutting-edge approach to real estate will allow you to continue to work with sellers as we witness this generational shift.... and do so while making more not less!

This talk is appropriate for Realtors and for Investors looking to stay on the forefront of this new Real Estate market.

Make more today and continue to grow your business despite these changes!


Join us for a Free luncheon  – Wednesday, October 21st  – at the Rudy’s in Katy, from 11:00 to 1:00 

Rudy’s

21799 Katy Freeway


Katy, Texas  77450

Spots are limited. To claim yours, and so we have an accurate head-count for food, please RSVP by 

-- emailing dan@stepstonetexas.com 
-- Texting Dan : 512-731-4541 
-- Filling out our form online: http://stepstonetexas.com/events.php 

To see more what we are about, visit StepStoneTexas.com 

We hope to see you Wednesday! 



Monday, June 15, 2015

Want to Get Rich Quick?

Would I like to get rich quick? Well, I wouldn't say no. But is that what drives me to get up and work everyday? No, not in the least.

Dan and I have been investing in real estate for the past 11 years. While we haven't got a mansion or a big boat to show for it we do have a growing business, a good reputation and a certain amount of freedom and contentment in life. While I'll always be glad to make more money I think richness is not measured by the amount of money you have.

I see a fair amount of Get Rich Quick schemes at the various expo's we attend or on the side of my Facebook feed. I also hear from some colleagues and even some of my agents on how they spent all their savings or maxed out all their credit to take this class, that training, this boot camp and don't have anything to show for it. The promises did not pan out.

I'm not saying all training or coaching is bad. I know that a good education can be costly (I'm currently paying for a very expensive college education for my son) and I know of some really great programs that aren't get rich quick schemes but actually good coaching and training that sets up folks for success, such as Phill Grove's Big Dog Program.

What I am saying is that if your goal in getting involved in real estate investing is getting rich quick and spending the remainder of your days lounging on a beach, then you are setting yourself up for disappointment and frustration. Those of us in the business for more than a few years will tell you that it's hard work, it takes time, dedication, flexibility and perseverance.

So skip the schemes... hook up with good, honest people who will build you and your business up long after you've spent the money on their products. You will be rich indeed but you will find that not all riches come in the form of dollar signs.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Be the Yes Man (or Woman)!

I work very hard to make sure seller's understand two things:  That I am there to help them and that my offer is not a negotiation, but a formula.  I do this by first selling myself.  I wrote about my techniques for doing that in a previous blog:  Stop Buying Houses!

I then follow that with a very meticulously-crafted presentation of my offer.  I broke that down in a blog that explained why investor offers are not low-ball.  It was ironically titled:  Investor Offers are Low-Ball.

As much as I would love the sellers to always be sold that I am there solution prior to the offer, and as much as I would love for them to always just accept my offer and sign, that just isn't always the case.

Sometimes, its time to sell myself a little more.

After I present the offer, the seller will usually respond in one of two ways.  First, they sometimes accept it.  This is the easiest route for them as I will always close on my initial offer... one way or another.  But if they insist on getting more for the property than the formula really allows, they will generally counter.

Obviously, if they counter at full retail, it's time to discuss more with them the option of listing the property.  That's the only way they will get retail.  They may not have the time or the ability to list retail, but educating the seller about the positives and negatives of each option is our job.

Other times, though, they will counter at a price that we would consider to be "in the ballpark".  It may not be strictly formula, but still a significant discount.  I have one strategy at this point.

I become the Yes Man.

Let's say the seller's home has an ARV of $200,000.00 and needs $40,000.00 in repairs.  Do the math and the offer would be $100,000.00.  But if the seller comes back and says, "Well, I really needed $130,000.00", my response is "YES!"

OK, so maybe not quite so succinct.  But at that point, my goal is now to get that contract for $130,000.00.  So, as you can probably guess, I have a little speech I give the seller.  It goes something like this:

"OK, seller.  $100,000.00 is definitely my slam-dunk no-brainer going-to-close offer.  But, let's shoot for $130,000.00.  It's not a definite close, but it's in the ball-park and if anyone can get you that number, it's me.  I know everyone in town and have a lot of access to various networks.  Here's what we can do.  Let's write up a contract for $130,000.00 and at that point, I'm going to go to work for you.

"I may still be able to close it at $130,000.00.  Obviously, the $40,000.00 in updating (note:  I didn't say 'repairs') was kind of a ball-park figure itself.  One of the things I will do is see if I can't beat up the contractors a bit to get that number down.  I will also re-look at all the comps and see if there aren't some touches I can add to your house that will get me a bit more.  We will try to make those numbers work.

"In the meantime, I'm going to talk to every other investor in town.  I'm going to bring out potential partners to help diversify risk, potential private and hard-money lenders to help me leverage or potential investors who may want this property for a longer-term hold where the numbers will pan out over a longer time period.

"I am going to work as hard as I can to get you that $130,000.00.  If anyone can get it for you, it's me.  Let's get started."

I like two things about that speech.  First, I set things up to make it easy for me to gain access to the property to show it to all of those people.  Nothing in that speech was an exaggeration or a lie.  I really am going to do all of those things.  I want to go to work for that seller.  Better me than someone else!

But now, instead of trying to wholesale a property by lying to a sellers and telling them the investor I'm bringing over is just my contractor (and making the investor pretend to be the same), the seller expects that I bring several people over... contractors, investors and lenders.

The second aspect of that speech I like is it sets it up for a renegotiation later.  I don't renegotiate out of greed... just to increase my spread.  But if I need to renegotiate to create a spread, I will.  Because that is what is right for the homeowner.  To let them know, at the end of the day, whether or not $130,000.00 is an obtainable number.  And if not, then what is an obtainable number.  Perhaps I can find an investor who will pay $130,000.00.  I put a lot of work in and deserve a payday for my efforts.  I don't think its unreasonable at that time to go back to the seller and say, "I can't get $130,000.00... you saw how many people I brought out and hard I worked for you... but if you can accept $120,000.00, we can close this next week."

More often than not, they agree.  They agree because I treated them fairly and honestly and because I really did go to work for them.  I really did try everything I could to get them the number they wanted.  And at the end of the day, they got the best number they could.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Hail Mary!




Yesterday (when I wrote this) was the first Tuesday of the month.  Those of you who invest in Texas likely knows what that means... Yesterday was foreclosure day.  Many of you probably spent last week like I did... fielding calls from homeowners on the brink who finally decided to call the number on one of those mailers that have desperately been trying to get their attention.

There is some great opportunity in those calls for purchasing property from some very motivated sellers.  However, there are just as many if not more who don't have equity and short sale is their only hope.  At StepStone, we lovingly call one of those a Hail Mary! While we may say a prayer what we are really referring to is the football term:  

a long forward pass in football, especially as a last ditch attempt 
at the end of a game, where completion is considered unlikely.

I love this definition because not only does it describe what we are doing (Last Ditch Attempt) but also the likely outcome (Completion is Considered Unlikely).  But, it worked for Dallas quarterback Roger Staubach in 1975 and so rather than throwing our hands up we give it a shot.  

I consider a Hail Mary to be any property inside of 2 weeks of a foreclosure date. Initiating a short sale process can sometimes get the lender to postpone the foreclosure date in order to consider the short sale request.  This is also a great method to get a postponement even if your end game isn't a short sale but you just need time to close on the property another way. 

But, completion is considered unlikely so I'll share some ways to help the possibility of a success for a postponement.

1. Complete Paperwork! To initiate a short sale, lenders require a long list of documentation.  If you are able to send in a complete and correct short sale request package your chances are improved.  Stress to the seller the urgency of providing all the items needed.  These include pay stubs, bank statements, tax returns, authorizations, financial worksheets, etc. If seller says "Oh, I'll get that to you sometime in the next few days" or they just don't seem motivated to do the homework then say goodbye!  A Hail Mary has a good chance if the seller is Johnny on the Spot and is just as motivated to stop the foreclosure as you are. 

2. Get your Authorization processed ASAP! The absolute first thing you should send to the lender before you bother with anything else is to send in an Authorization to Release Information (we call them ATRI or "Atari" -- like the video game platform) to the lender so you can start a dialogue with them about the property.  Sometimes it takes lenders a few days to process these so the quicker you can get it in the better.  If you have to depend on the seller to communicate with the lender then you will lose control of the situation. 

3. Get an Offer! Sending in a short sale request so close to foreclosure will likely not get you very far without an offer to submit as well. If you are hoping to buy it yourself you cannot be both the listing agent and the buyer.  Either find another agent to list for you or find another investor to submit an offer for you.  It can be an investor appropriate offer (70% minus repairs) just so long as it's an offer for them to chew on.

If you are a StepStone Agent, you can take advantage of our experienced short sale staff to assist you with all these items.  Hail Mary short sales can be a lot of work but once you get the initial postponement you will have the time you and the seller needs to solve their house problem. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Investing Strategy for the Long-Term

I've been practicing creative real estate investing for eleven years.  It hasn't always been easy.  In fact, there were times where it was a downright struggle.  Part of that is I didn't really ever embrace the level of networking and educating myself that I do today.

But when I look back on the long road I've been on, I do realize that every year gets easier.  Every year I make more money.  And every year the future looks brighter and brighter.

What I have done right is employ a strategy that is built for the long-term.

Which is good since I am having so much fun, I don't ever want to retire!

We talk a lot to our agent/investors and those thinking about joining us, that our brand of real estate is one for the long-term.  But what exactly makes it so?  What is the strategy for the long-term?

Treating Sellers with Respect

It's easy to look down on someone who is in trouble.  We are all guilty of not understanding how they got behind on their mortgage payments or the poor choices they made that led them to the situation they are in.  But the fact is, they are flawed humans, and we are no different.  We all have made mistakes and we all have needed a little help from time to time.  My wife, Angie, is good at reminding me that we are "all God's children", particularly when I get frustrated at other drivers on the way to the next seller meeting.

Treating your sellers with respect and offering them the solutions that best fit THEIR needs does pay dividends later.  I recently had a seller meeting where this absolutely helped.  One of our agent/investors got to witness this first hand.  I handed the daughter of the seller my card and her reaction was immediately positive. "StepStone... I've heard of you, you guys are really good".

The fact is, people today do a lot of online research.  And if you try to squeeze out every last penny on a deal by putting your needs ahead of the seller, your reputation can and will eventually suffer.  We strive extra hard to make the seller's experience positive through the whole process of either buying or listing their house.  Through these years of effort, we have built a reputation that gives us a competitive advantage in the marketplace and we are set-up for the long-term.

Treating Each Other with Respect

When we get a property under contract that we want to wholesale, it is vitally important to us that we offer that property to other investors (first to our StepStone Agent/Investors) in a way that is fair and honest.

I see roughly ten "wholesale" deals come across my email every day.  Not a single one do I bother to look at anymore unless its from a StepStone Investor/Agent.  Why?  Because all too often the numbers they present are downright lies.  We can disagree on the ARV (after-repaired value), but we all know the difference between a disagreement and a lie.

Or the repair numbers are ridiculously low.  I see investors marketing their property as an easy paint and carpet job, only to walk in and see a pink bathtub from 1954.  On top of that, they want a $5,000 non-refundable deposit to secure the property.  So if you find out later that the repair costs are higher (which they probably are), you have a choice to either wave goodbye to your $5,000 or close on the deal anyway.

This is not treating fellow investors with respect!

By working WITH my buyers to get a good deal for both of us, I have built a buyer's list that pays attention to my deals when I email them out.  By sending out deals in an honest way, and leaving meat on the bone for the investor that is going to flip it or rent it, closing deals is easy for me.

At StepStone, we want buyers to clamour for our deals, not cringe at the sight of our emails.  We want buyers who want to work with us for the long-term and we have been successful at doing just that.

Being Flexible and Immune to Market Cycles

By being both an investor and an agent, our investor/agents have made themselves immune to market cycles.  By being equally ready to list property as to buy it, they are prepared when the majority of leads are short sale listings.  They have an advantage when it comes time to offer more property out as owner finance because they can list the property on the MLS.

We currently are making the majority of our money on flips, new construction and wholesales to other flippers.  But in 2009, when the world looked bleak for many, we were doing just fine with our 25 short sale listings and monthly owner finance closings.  Throw in our occasional wholesale to buy and hold investors and our business didn't miss a beat!

The StepStone Way

This truly is the StepStone Way and it is a strategy that is for the long-term.  By treating sellers, investors and each other with respect, we are establishing ourselves as THE go-to company that has integrity and presents ourselves and our deals honestly.  By being flexible with what we offer sellers, and by offering them what will be best for them, we have developed a strategy that makes us immune to the market.

The StepStone Way is a strategy for the next hundred years, not the next three.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

How About a Pay Cut?


Because most of my marketing is to distressed sellers, it's not often that you will find me doing a “listing presentation” for a traditional listing. I recently found myself in that exact situation, however, when I was referred to a seller, Mindy, from a friend. I didn't know that she was interviewing other agents but I did what I normally do... I brought some comps and we reviewed them. Nothing fancy.

After we finished discussing the sales data and her listing, she told me that she was interviewing other agents and wondered if I was negotiable on my commission. This is the point where most agents have that Deer in Head Lights look. Oh no! I just got a pay cut!

For those of you who don't know, although there is a common amount of commission that many listing agents charge, typically 6% of the final sales price. The amount is not regulated and is instead determined by the listing Broker and the seller.

My agents occasionally call me and ask if they are allowed to do a discounted listing or reduce a commission for a long term client. The answer is absolutely! However, before you do so give yourself a minute to determine if that's your best move.

I have certainly reduced my commissions for clients. I have a previous seller/buyer now ready to sell/buy again. Am I going to reduce their listing side commission on a two sided transaction for repeat clients? Of course! Reduce my commission to save a seller from foreclosure when we are squeaking by on a payoff? Yes, to get the deal done I have done it. I'm not greedy but....

Back to Mindy. We left off after I gave her a very simple listing presentation, I had been told that I was competing with other Realtors for the listing and I am faced with taking a pay cut to get the job.

My response:

“Mindy, you are smart for asking because commissions are negotiable. However, how would you feel if the person who is supposed to be negotiating for you wasn't even able to negotiate effectively for themselves? No, I will not reduce my commissions. But, if you hire me you can rest assured that I will work just as hard for you and your bottom line as I do my own.”

Guess who got the listing... and a full commission.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Investor Offers Are Low-Ball!

Everyone wants the best price they can get.  Investors are no different.

But neither is the homeowner.

So investors often get accused of "low-balling" the seller with their offer.   A significant reason for this is investors fail miserably in presenting the offer.  This is another reason investors are often seen as "taking advantage" of a seller's poor situation (deferred maintenance, pending foreclosure, etc.).

But the fact is, the cash offer we make is the offer we make because we HAVE to make that offer.  There is a tried and true formula in real estate for quick-close cash-offers that significantly reduces (although does not eliminate) the possibility of losing money on the deal.

The Formula

Most investors are familiar with this formula... (ARV * .70) - repairs.

Let's break that equation down.  ARV is an acronym for After-Repaired-Value.  I think this is a misnomer as I'm not only interested in the repairs to a property, but also updates and aesthetics, but regardless, you get the idea.  What will the home sell for after we make it look brand-new?

Let's say we pull-comps (we compare the subject property to other recently sold and rehabilitated property) and determine the ARV is $200,000.00.  We then multiply that number by 70% and subtract out the costs we are going to incur to make it look new.  If that numbers is $40,000, then our MAO (Maximum Allowable Offer) is $100,000 ($200,000 * .7 = $140,000 - $40,000 = $100,000).

That formula will save you thousands as even surprise repairs won't mean losing money on the project.

Making the Offer the Wrong Way

Most investors will do this math and then present the offer to the homeowner.  "Mrs. Homeowner, I can offer you $100,000.00 for your property."

It's no wonder investors are accused of "low-balling".

You have to understand, there is no more price-sensitive market than real estate.  The homeowner already has a good idea of what homes sell for (granted, fixed up pretty homes) because they drive through their neighborhood every day.  And when a home goes on the market in their neighborhood, it's a good bet they have pulled a flier, looked on Realtor.com or Zillow, or otherwise determined what the asking price is.

The homeowner probably understands their house isn't as "pretty" as the neighbor's house that has been listed for $200,000.00.  But when you offer $100,000 for the house, that must sound really low!

You have to remember, the homeowner isn't an investor.  They probably haven't thought through issues like carrying-costs, upgrades, age of roof, etc.  And they know it's not going to cost $100,000 to fix their house!  So why are they taking (in their mind) a $100,000 discount on their property?!

Presenting an offer in this manner significantly increases the odds you are about to get kicked out of the home, accused of being a "low-baller" who is trying to "steal" their home.

Making the Offer the Right Way

A better approach is to offer an explanation of your offer as you present it.  This is how I present the offer:

"Mrs. Homeowner, I love this home and I am excited that I can make it look and fresh and let a brand-new family move in here and enjoy it for years.  But, I'm an investor, and there is a tried-and-true formula investors have used for decades when making a cash-offer on a home.  All investors use this same formula.  I look at the price I think I can sell the home for when I am done doing all the updating that it needs... in other words, I want to make this home look like 2015, using all the modern and fashionable colors, schemes, trim, fixtures and such.  I want it ready to compete with the brand-new homes down the street.

"I think after I do all that, I can get $200,000.00 for the home.... would you agree?

"I take that number and multiply it by 70% and then subtract out the cost of the updating.  I know that 30% sounds like a wide margin, but I am going to lose 18% on the buy, carry and sale of the property, so that allows me to make roughly 12% for my time and money.

"So $200,000 times 70% is $140,000.  I think its going to take me about $40,000.00 to bring it completely up to date and make it look brand new.  Therefore, the cash-offer for this property is $100,000.00"

Breaking down this speech

I want to break this down as there is a lot of nuance in this speech.

"Mrs. Homeowner, I love this home and I am excited that I can make it look and fresh and let a brand-new family move in here and enjoy it for years."

People love their homes.  I do too.  They love the idea that someone is going to get to enjoy the home as much as they did.  I want to start the speech by putting that image in their mind.

"But, I'm an investor, and there is a tried-and-true formula investors have used for decades when making a cash-offer on a home.  All investors use this same formula."

This serves several purposes.  First, it let's them know I'm here to make money.  They already know that, but this puts that in the front of their minds.  It's fair that I make money on this deal.  Second, this is not a negotiation, it's a formula.  I'm not starting with a number to reach an agreeable "middle".  I'm letting them know this is THE number.  Finally, I'm letting them know they won't do better elsewhere.  This is the formula every investor they could potentially talk to uses and it's just THE cash-offer, not MY cash-offer.

"I look at the price I think I can sell the home for when I am done doing all the updating that it needs... in other words, I want to make this home look like 2015, using all the modern and fashionable colors, schemes, trim, fixtures and such."

I never use the word "repair".  If I do, the response from the homeowner is typically, "well everything works just fine", even if the house looks like the Brady Bunch still lives there (or worse).  Stick to updating, its less offensive.  Use the "2015" (or the current year) as it establishes that, while the home may be beautiful, styles change.

"I want it ready to compete with the brand-new homes down the street."

Bringing the home up to date is not a choice.  If its not up to date, KB Homes has another buyer and I don't.

"I think after I do all that, I can get $200,000.00 for the home.... would you agree?"

I want them to agree.... and they usually do.  After all, they know what houses sell for in the neighborhood.  But I am establishing that to get that, the home needs to look like 2015.   Its not the current price of their home.

"I take that number and multiply it by 70% and then subtract out the cost of the updating.  I know that 30% sounds like a wide margin, but I am going to lose 18% on the buy, carry and sale of the property..."

Here's THE formula.  And here is WHY it's THE formula.  Its NOT a low-ball offer.

"...so that allows me to make roughly 12% for my time and money."

It's fair I make money.  But 12% might still sound like a lot for someone who currently is probably making 1.5% in their mutual fund or 401k (or less).  However, this is for my money, but its also for my time.  Now that sounds like a fair and reasonable amount (because it is).

"So $200,000 times 70% is $140,000.  I think its going to take me about $40,000.00 to bring it completely up to date and make it look brand new.  Therefore, the cash-offer for this property is $100,000.00"

I let them know how I arrive at the offer and what the offer is.  But I reiterate that this is THE cash-offer, not MY cash-offer.

Conclude

I don't want to just wait for them to say "yes" or "no".  I've hit them with a big bombshell.  So, at this point, I think its important to let them know you understand this may be less than what they were expecting.  I care about how they feel about it.  So I conclude with, "How do you feel about that price... was that more, less or kind of what you were expecting?"

This allows them to raise objections.  But because you've established that this is the tried and true cash-offer formula, I've opened a dialogue without getting kicked to the curb and called a low-baller!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Creative Investing is Unscrupulous Investing

My husband, Dan, recently looked the Wikipedia definition of Creative Real Estate Investing. It said:

Creative real estate investing is any non-traditional method of buying and selling real estate. Confidence tricks and pyramid schemes in the 20th and 21st century such as Nouveau Riche (real estate investment college) have embraced the term, leading contemporary usage of the term to be synonymous with unscrupulous practices.

Synonymous with unscrupulous practices. Ouch!


This definition buzzed in my head when recently I encountered a fellow real estate agent who voiced her negative opinion of licensee's who practice creative real estate.

I meet numerous seller's every week. They call me because I tell them I want to buy their house. There is a reason they call me and not an agent.

David and his family wanted to sell us his mother's house. I told him he could make more money by listing it on the open market with an agent. He knew. However, his mother's health was declining and she would soon be transferred from her hospital room to a nursing home. He didn't have time to list the home. If the home didn't sell before his mother was transferred her estate would be drained by Medicare to pay for her care. He needed to sell it fast and without any uncertainty from the buyer.

Chuck and his wife have spent the last few years fighting with their home builder after their home's foundation cracked in several places. They were ready to move on. They didn't have the money, energy or time to undertake a foundation repair. I was able to give them the security of having a buyer while he completed his negotiations with the home builder, buy the house when he was ready and give him the time he needed to relocate his family.

Some people are desperately trying to avoid foreclosure. Some people have homes in such disrepair that they are embarrassed to have it on the open market. Some people have had agents refuse to list their house until numerous repairs were made.  Some people need money for their homes quickly. Some people just simply don't want to list their house. I've helped them all.

As Realtors, we are doing a disservice by refusing to accept the legitimacy of creative real estate options. Are there unscrupulous real estate investors out there? Yes. Absolutely. But, as for me and my team, we believe in being able to provide all options to our sellers while treating them with honesty and integrity. I hope that more Realtors will come to see that there are other options outside of traditional listings to sell a house and start to participate in the creative side of real estate. Maybe then we may see a decline in the unscrupulous, fly by night investors.  

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

It's a Home, Not a Used Car

There is a technique Real Estate Professionals use with Sellers to bring the price down (or so they think).  Whether they are trying to buy it or list it, they want the homeowner to believe the home is worth less so they can buy at a price that makes a big profit, or so they can list at a price that will sell fast.

I call this technique, "The used car technique".  The strategy is to take a tour of the home, and as you are doing so, touch every crack and grimace.  Sneer at the popcorn on the ceilings.  Gasp at the condition of the appliances.  Generally, the idea is to give the impression that this house is going to need so much work!

I love it when my competition employs this technique.  Because, while sometimes this might work... especially if the investor or agent is the only person the seller called... this technique really only guarantees one thing; the seller will hate you.

A home is not a used car.  Whereas most people sell a car because they recognize it is no longer useful to them, or it a piece of junk they no longer want to mess with; People love their homes.  Even homes that seem like a disaster to you, are loved by that homeowner because it represents memories to them.  They often times raised their kids there, or were raised there themselves.  They had Christmas there, Thanksgiving in that home and had trick-or-treaters knock on that front door.

They love their home.

By pointing out how awful it has become, you are stepping all over their memories.

I can remember two specific deals (good ones!) where we came in before another investor, and were told they went with us even though our offer was less, because they just "didn't like the other guy".

When we ask for a tour, we love to point out all the things we love about the home. (Some times this is harder than others!)  I often ask, "What did you like most about the home when you bought it?"  I work hard to make connections between the seller, the home and myself.

Because, unlike a used car, I am never there to "buy" anything.  I'm there to sell myself to the seller as the solution to their problem.  My end goal is to make sure this home ends up with a new family who will love it as much as the seller's do.  Whether that's selling it on the open market, or buying it and renovating it, I want this home to see new life.

People generally recognize their home needs repair and/or updating (although we do run into a few who seem oblivious, that's the exception).  You don't need to point that out.  Point out what you love about the home, make connections with the seller and then sell yourself as the solution to whatever their problems and/or goals are.

You will find this will end in more contracts than the Used Car Technique!

For updates, like our facebook page! https://www.facebook.com/StepStoneRealty

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Be a Black Sheep!


I spend a lot of time talking to Realtors who are also active investors.  Some of them got their license to assist in their investment business.  Some of them were Realtors first who saw the opportunity in creative real estate.  A common thread emerges when I talk to them about their brokerage... they feel like the black sheep.

You see, many brokerages are still resting on the laurels of the old traditional ways of practicing real estate. That means sales meetings, desk duty, elaborate listing presentations, open houses and property tours. And, of course, a broker who is preoccupied with how many listings and buyer rep agreements you have.  A broker who wants you to produce for them!

Real estate investors think different though! We spend our time worrying less about the number of listings we have (some of my agents have never had a listing... and I'm okay with that!) and more time beating the pavement, talking to sellers, calling leads, networking with other investors, looking for the motivated sellers and the DEALS.

As a real estate broker who is also an active investor I understand this difference, and at StepStone Realty we embrace the new cutting edge way of doing real estate.  We understand that some sellers don't want to or can't list their properties but just need a quick cash offer.  We can do that! Some seller's want to list a really ugly house! Hey.. if it's priced right I'll do that too! We understand that just because we have our license does not mean we cannot take advantage of our skills and knowledge to make money for ourselves while also helping meet seller's needs.

By freeing ourselves from the old tired ways of doing real estate we are able to break the mold and practice creative real estate while also providing the more traditional real estate services.  So, if you are a black sheep in your office maybe it's time to join us!


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Lunch Tour Continues to San Antonio: Why the war between Investors and Agents?

Free Luncheon to Find Out!  WEDNESDAY JAN 28th!


Join us for a Free luncheon next Wednesday (28th) at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites San Antonio Northwest, from 11:00 to 1:00 

Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites San Antonio Northwest
5535 University Heights Blvd., San Antonio, Texas 78249
Why the war between Investors and Agents? 

We will be speaking about the divide between the creative side of real estate and the traditional side of real estate and how myths and misinformation have kept agents and investors from realizing how they can take advantage of both! 

Agents: Learn why you should embrace the creative side even though your broker is telling you not to! 

Investors: Learn why getting your license doesn't keep you from doing creative deals! 

Be both! When you embrace both sides, you are armed with a full arsenal to handle your leads and convert more into money! 

We will discuss how embracing both will give you a competitive edge and increase conversion rates and allow you to walk away with more contracts and make more money. 

You will also learn why StepStone Realty is a brokerage tailored for investor-agents. No sales job, just information. 

And worst case, you get a free lunch, some great nuggets for how to deal with sellers, and some good networking with like-minded professionals. 

We hope to see you there. 

Spots are limited. To claim yours, and so we have an accurate head-count for food, please RSVP by 

-- emailing dan@stepstonetexas.com 
-- Calling/Texting Dan : 512-731-4541 
-- Filling out our form online: http://stepstonetexas.com/events.php 

To see more what we are about, visit StepStoneTexas.com 

We hope to see you next Wednesday! 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Turn Your Sellers into Liars

Most investors, when that lead call comes in, have a script they follow, and a bunch of questions they ask.

I cannot imagine being on the other end of that call.  Being a distressed seller, reaching out for help, not knowing who I am calling.... only to be asked intrusive questions about my life.  What do I owe on my house?  Am I behind on payments?  How much will I sell it for?

Who IS this person asking me all of these things?  Its just a voice on the other end of the line.

Investors ask these questions and too often illicit a response they do not want... a lie.

And can you blame the seller for lying?  I don't think I would truthfully tell a voice on a phone call if I were behind on my payments.

The problem is, now you have locked your seller into those answers.  When you meet face to face, the seller now has to continue to tell you they are not behind, or they have to have a certain price for their property, otherwise they have to admit they lied to you on the phone.  You have turned your seller into a liar.

So why do investors ask so many questions?  Because they have to.  They have to screen-out sellers for motivation and equity, otherwise they might "waste their time" going to an appointment only to find they have no real solution for the seller, and leave empty-handed.

That is not a problem for us.  Since we are investors AND agents, we can offer ANY solution to a seller, and that means there is no reason to not skip the laundry list of lie-inducing questions, and just go meet the seller!  Personally, I have one question I ask a seller.  "When can I come see the property?"

When you meet with the seller, you get the REAL story... the truth.

No longer is the seller talking to some probable corporate stalker on the phone, but a real person there to help.

We consider any contract a victory, whether that is a contract to buy, or a contract to list.  So we do not screen sellers, because every seller can use our help.

Because of that, we beat out our competition!  While others are screening callers, scaring them off, and turning them into liars, we are already at the property, talking with our sellers, finding out their needs and offering real solutions.

That is the joy of real estate without limits!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Why the war between Investors and Agents? Free Luncheon to Find Out!

Join us for a Free luncheon this Friday (16th) at the Tech Ranch in Austin, from 11:00 to 1:00 

Tech Ranch Austin
8920 Business Park Dr., Austin, TX 78759


Why the war between Investors and Agents? 

We will be speaking about the divide between the creative side of real estate and the traditional side of real estate and how myths and misinformation have kept agents and investors from realizing how they can take advantage of both! 

Agents: Learn why you should embrace the creative side even though your broker is telling you not to! 

Investors: Learn why getting your license doesn't keep you from doing creative deals! 

Be both! When you embrace both sides, you are armed with a full arsenal to handle your leads and convert more into money! 

We will discuss how embracing both will give you a competitive edge and increase conversion rates and allow you to walk away with more contracts and make more money. 

You will also learn why StepStone Realty is a brokerage tailored for investor-agents. No sales job, just information. 

And worst case, you get a free lunch, some great nuggets for how to deal with sellers, and some good networking with like-minded professionals. 

We hope to see you there. 

Spots are limited. To claim yours, and so we have an accurate head-count for food, please RSVP by 

-- emailing dan@stepstonetexas.com 
-- Calling/Texting Dan : 512-731-4541 
-- Filling out our form online: http://stepstonetexas.com/events.php 

To see more what we are about, visit StepStoneTexas.com 

We hope to see you Friday

Thursday, January 8, 2015

MythBusters: Getting Your Real Estate License



When my husband, Dan, came to me about nine years ago and suggested I get my real estate license I felt a little horrified! Immediately, I had the image of myself wearing a gold coat and pearls, on the side of the road putting in an Open House sign while trying to keep my skirt from flying up in the wind. Now, eight years later I am the Broker of a growing Real Estate firm and I wouldn't change a thing.

I talk to a lot of investors about getting a real estate license and I hear a lot of myths and misconceptions about why they think it is a bad idea.  I also talk to a lot of investors with their real estate license and most of them think their license is one of their most valuable investment tools. The trick is to get past all those fears and misconceptions to truly see the advantage of a real estate license. So, let's talk about some of those myths.

If I get my real estate license I'll have to spend my time showing houses to buyers, giving listing presentations, doing desk duty at the real estate office, and I'll have a broker bugging me about my sale stats. 

While these things might be true for some brokerages who are stuck in the old, traditional way of selling real estate that is not the case at StepStone Realty! We believe that our time is best spent not in the office perfecting our listing presentations and preparing our yearly calendar magnets, but instead out of the office, on the road, meeting with sellers, networking with investors and beating the pavement. Some Brokers only see your value by the number of listings you have but I have a different point of view. As an investor myself, I understand that there is much more that can be accomplished than simply representing sellers and buyers.  My agents are individuals, self-driven professionals who are taking a very active role in the real estate market. We don't have sales meetings, phone duty, or any of the other mundane requirements you might envision.  We give you the freedom and support to make more money doing what you are good at... investing in real estate.

If I get my real estate license I won't be able to buy property for myself, I won't be able to buy properties Sub To, I won't be able to wholesale properties, I won't be able to....

Aside from the fear of getting stuck a traditional real estate role is the fear of getting stuck in traditional real estate deals. This is a very valid concern for investors.  After all, if you can't do creative real estate you may as well become a traditional real estate agent. While there are brokerages who will not allow their salespeople to practice creative real estate that is not the case at StepStone Realty. Because I'm an active investor myself I understand the creative side of real estate, I'm not scared of it and I can help you do it correctly. It's my job to keep you on the straight and narrow but that does not mean limiting you from doing valid, legal and creative real estate.

If I get my real estate license I will have to provide the sellers with comps when I make them an offer.

This is my favorite. I've heard it so many times and yet through all the numerous classes I've had to take for my license it's never come up.  I did some research and couldn't find anything stating this to be the case.  So, just to be sure I called Texas Association of Realtors Legal Hotline (A very cool perk of having a license) and asked. I explained to the TAR attorney that I'm an investor as well as broker and advertise that I buy houses.  When I make an offer to a seller, besides letting them know I'm a licensed agent, do I need to show them comps? I love his response; "Why would you do that... that would hurt your negotiating position". I think this is a great point.  Just because you have a license doesn't mean you don't have a right to negotiate and purchase property for your own benefit.

It's true that as a licensed agent I have do disclose my status as such to sellers and buyers.  However, that does not mean you don't have a right to be an active participant in the real estate market.  Of all the active investors I know who also have a license you would be hard pressed to find one who lost a deal or was put at a disadvantage because they had a license.  In fact, the very opposite is true.  The tools and extra income options you get from having a license put you at an advantage over all the investors who don't have their license.

That is Real Estate Without Limits!

To learn more about the strategies Dan and I use to make the most out of being investor and holding a real estate license join us for one of our upcoming luncheons.